Cubs News and Notes: Pitchers workouts, Draft bonus money, DeWitt, Samardzija, Marmol

Cubs News and Notes: Pitchers workouts, Draft bonus money, DeWitt, Samardzija, Marmol

Spring is here and we have some real baseball to talk about to go with the usual roster maneuvering...

  • According WSCR 670, "The Score" (h/t Cliffy), , the Cubs are emphasizing to pitchers to pound the lower part of the strike zone.  They're doing this by hanging a string across the plate at knee level.  My first thought on this was big Chris Volstad and his propensity to give up home runs.  With his big 6'8" frame he can really throw on a sharp downward plane and his solid velocity will make for a heavy sinker.  He just needs to make sure he can keep pounding the lower half of the zone.  If he can, I think he can have a big year.
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America has the breakdown on draft bonuses for 2012.  The skinny: The Cubs will have just under $8M to spend overall.  They spent $12M last year and about $6.5M of this money was spent in the first 10 rounds.  The Cubs will have the 8th most amount of money to spend out of all the major league teams.  The Twins have the most at $12M+.  The White Sox have just under $6M and the team that seems to be hurt the most by all of this, the Tampa Bay Rays, have the 4th smallest pool at $3.87M.  I'm not going to remind people about how I feel and how I think this system will do the opposite of what intended to do.  I don't think it will help any team, big or small market.  It will only level out the playing field for those teams that didn't want to spend on the draft.
  • According to Carrie Muskat, Blake DeWitt has cleared waivers and has accepted a non-roster invite to spring training.  He will compete with Adrian Cardenas and non-roster invitees Matt Tolbert, Alfredo Almazega, and Edgar Gonzalez for the 2nd utility spot behind holdover Jeff  Baker.
  • ESPN's Doug Padilla tweets, "Samardzija locked in on being a starter. Didn't like reporting saying that the bullpen is always there as another option."  He may not like it, but the bullpen seems to be the obvious solution if he can't cut it as a starter.  It's nice to know he's serious about his goal.  This could become one of the stories to watch this spring.
  • Rafer Weigel tweets, "#Cubs closer Carlos Marmol confirmed what skip Dale Sveum said, "Cutter I"m not gonna throw anymore. I'm gonna work on my [slider]."  It appeared last year that Marmol had lost movement on his slider.  However, it now seems possible that it was the cut fastball that was being mistakenly reported as a slider.
  • Fangraphs writes about why the Indians took SS Francisco Lindor over SS-3B Javier Baez.  Basically, it's his ability to stay at SS and perhaps be a Gold Glove caliber defender there.  In the words of scouting director Brad Grant, "We liked Javier Baez a lot. There is a lot of upside to him with his power, his approach, and everything he brings to the table. There is a lot to like, but in the end, what separated it for us was Francisco’s true ability to play shortstop."


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  • With the Cubs having 4 of the top 65 picks, is it wise to spend
    most of the money signing these 4 picks at all cost. If not,
    what plan should they follow? This could have been another
    great draft for the Cubs. Thanks Bud.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That's how the CBA intended things to work. You spend the most on the highest draft picks. The majority of the Cubs money will go towards those picks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it's a must that these 4 picks be signed. I would not
    gamble on a player (High school) unless your %100 sure you can sign them. Can't lose draft picks going over slot amounts.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed! High schooler in the first round, maybe, but if a 1st round HS talent slips to the second round, probably a good idea to skip him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In other words, no way do you draft a Dan Vogelbach or a Dillon Maples next year if it isn't in the first round.

  • John,
    How does the new CBA draft rules compare to other sports? Why give teams different amounts of money? Bad teams draft first. Good teams, last. It doesn't seem fair to punish good teams by capping their spend. Shouldn't all teams get the same cap? It doesn't make sense.

    Also, I know it's been mentioned that players like Dillon Maples would not have signed if not for the money. As emartinezjr said, long shot high school picks will probably be shied away from more. Could this eventually be a benefit, as the college system will be more talented and have more ready candidates for the draft?

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Basketball is similar and I think that's what Reinsdorf was shooting for. They slot every pick and there's basically no negotiation wiggle room. It works for basketball because once those guys declare, they can't go back to college as they can in baseball.

    Agreed. No way the Cubs even draft Dillon Maples with this CBA.

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    Why don't the Cubs sign Roy Oswalt? He seems cheap, wants to play in the Midwest, and would make for a formidable rotation with Dempster, Garza and Maholm. Plus he gives you flexibility if you trade Garza or Demopster, OR, conversely, he would be a very valuable asset to trade to a contender at the deadline for a prospect or two. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but I'd rather that you guys who are more knowledgeable provide feedback.


  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    Hey Mike,

    I'm not sure how eager Oswalt would be to sign with a rebuilding team. It becomes a possibility if there's a big difference in money, but not sure the Cubs want to pay a lot for a one year player in year they don't expect to contend.

    There's also the question of development. Guys like Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, and possibly Samardzija give Cubs cheaper options who might also be longer term solutions. Oswalt doesn't help them build beyond 2012, but starting Volstad or Wood or someone like that, will give them an idea of what they have going forward.

  • Just read that the Pirates are upset that they might only have
    around 6 million to spend, while Tampa might get around 10 million.
    Which team had the worst record? Why the difference? Bud!

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    According to Callis' chart, the Pirates have $6.56M to spend while the Rays have $3.87M. The Pirates do have less to spend than the Red Sox and Rangers. They also have less money to spend than any one else in the NL Central, incuding the Cubs.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It goes based on the number of draft picks and how high the picks are. That means that even though the Cardinals won the world series, due to high compensatory picks for Pujols, they are getting a lot of money to spend. They try to even this out by including a lottery that gives some of the small market and generally bad teams a chance to get other supplemental picks.

  • This draft thing is kind of crazy. Here is the reason why: They were trying to make it like basketball (which works decent), but forgot about one flaw with that.

    Basketball's kids have to declare for the draft, and they can't go back to school after they declare. In baseball, the kids simply go to college and the team loses out on their pick.

    As has been stated by John and others, basically this just means that HS kids who aren't 1st rounders aren't going to be picked after that. Why waste the pick if you know that they'll go to school instead of take the contract they are due.

    So here is my idea, and I'd like to know what you think about this John. Why not just go crazy picking HS talent and overpaying them? Yes, you'll lose some picks and have to pay a penalty, but if you are the only team doing it then you can afford to lose your first 2 rounds picks since you'll be getting all the best HS talent. Thoughts?

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    Great points. Do you think they will ever change it so anyone entering the draft will have to sign if they are drafted?

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    I'm not exactly sure how the penalties work. It seems like you'd have a pool for the first 10 rounds. If you only lose your first pick one year then maybe it's worth it, especially if you pick late the next year. But if you're getting fined for going over the recommended slot for each pick, then it seems to me that the penalty would be too high. I believe the latter is the case. Even though you have a pool, there is a slot number for each pick and you get fined if you go over that amount.

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    With 4 of the top 65 picks maybe the Cubs should go all out and
    sign them no matter what. They will not get this chance again.
    Unless it somehow affects the 2013 draft monetary big time.

  • Off-topic a bit here, most of us assume that Castro will outgrow the inconsistencies and mental lapses , defensively , that have plagued his first 2 seasons and become an average/above average defender @ SS. What if he doesn't? How long will Jedstein give him to shake the erraticism? Who replaces him at SS if you have to move him? Does Castro go to 3B or 2B? How would a position shift affect prospects who are angling for the 3B spot, long-term(Lake,Vitters, Baez)?

    Given the emphasis that Jedstein have put on D and the importance of SS , it wouldn't surprise me if this is the deciding season for Castro, as far as determining his long-term position. I understand the argument about maximizing his positional value but they need to tighten up the middle infield D.As far as where he might profile defensively , I think his bat is slowly evolving into the type that could fly at 3B. It wouldnt surprise me if he hit 25 bombs this season. It would pose some difficult player development questions with regards to the aforementioned prospects, though. Just some random thoughts on a slow Monday.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think unless he completely flops, he'll get a longer leash than that. This kid has been playing at age 20-21 when most guys are playing in A ball. If you take even the best gloves from Class A SS, it's likely they'll commit a ton of errors over a season. He has the range, hands, and arm to play SS and I think they'll keep him there as long as he makes incremental progress, which he has so far -- and cuts down on the mental errors, which I expect will happen as he matures.

    At this point, it's not a question for me. He's much better than Derek Jeter was at age 22 when the Yanks won a World Series. He's also better than Jeter was during the Yankees championship years in 2000 and 2001. The Yanks stuck with him because they know how valuable his bat is at SS. I think Castro will stay at SS unless a) he regresses or b) there's a better option developed in the minors.

  • These draft rules will help the chairman and his puppet, Commissioner Err Bud. That's about it.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Exactly. Not to hard to figure out who benefits most by forcing teams to spend in rationed amounts.

  • Does anyone know if the rope across the plate routine is something that other teams employ? Kind of interesting to hear some of the things that this team is doing early on in camp. Bruce Levine popped on to ESPN1000 today and mentioned a pretty neat bunting competition the team is doing. It's a points based system for laying a bunt down in targets the coaching staff has designated along the first and third base lines. They will then have a match play competition with the pitchers on one side of the bracket and the hitters on the other side. Levine said that Kerry Wood was the odds on favorite for the pitchers.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    This gimmick reminds me of Larry Rothschild's towel drill.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    I think if nothing else, it breaks up the monotony of it. Makes it fun. At this point in their careers all of this probably seems so routine, so maybe they just go through the motions -- perhaps the competition will make them more focused.

  • John, do you ever worry that Castro mIght outgrow SS as he gets a bit thicker? Also, I get the Jeter comp but I must remind you that Jeter was never a good defender there . I just get the sense that Jedstein, with their emphasis on D , will eventually want to go with a shutdown defender at SS. For me, the question is does he eventually move to 2B or 3B.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I do worry about that more than I worry about him not having the skills to play SS. He's kind of thick-legged and it's possible he could lose some quickness as he fills out.

    I think a good defender is nice at SS, but if you have a player who play around average defense and be head and shoulders above most other SS on offense, it more than makes up the difference. It's a big advantage because you can then put another big bat at 3B and possibly 2B. I don't think you go in one direction or the other as far as defense. If he's terrible, that's one thing, but if he's at least average then I think there's much more value keeping him there.

  • John, this is off topic, but we went down to Fitch Park to see the Cubs first practice yesterday...Nothing much with just pitchers and catchers but watched the cathers BP, Geo looks fit and was going deep during BP..Castillo and especially Clevinger were thumping too...I'm not too familiar with Clevingers fielding stats but I'm convinced this kids gonna hit at the big league level,nice stroke at the plate..I wished Dale Sveum good luck this year and told him how we'll be looking forward to a team that hustles and plays hard..He responded saying more or less that's what HE expects to happen EVERY YEAR... Theo was there having a lenghty conversation with Oneri Fleita..It's great to see these guys up close..I can't wait to get back out there, we're there every weekend for the games...

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Awesome. Cool that you got to talk to Sveum. There's a picture of Fleita and Theo talking on Boys of Spring. Good site for spring training if you haven't seen it. Great pictures.

    Clevenger has turned himself into a good defender with an average arm. Agree that he has a nice swing made for line drives more than power.

    Really hoping to get down there in a few weeks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, let me know if you do..we'll be seeing a game or two every weekend.. We'll have a beer and talk Cubs...anyone else on here from Phoenix or gonna be down here for spring training?
    Yeah, I like Clevingers swing, plus he's a left handed hitter which may give him an advantage as the backup..The ball really moves off his bat..

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