Talked with a NL scout that had a mixed take on the Cubs camp thus far.
Let’s take a look at the good and the bad.
The scout told me that Dale Sveum and his coaching staff are turning heads all over the league. Many are impressed with their teaching ability, as well as the way they have connected with the players.
“That’s a hellifed coaching staff, and they were lucky to steal Dave McKay”
I keep thinking back to how much I liked the idea of Mike Maddux early on in the managerial search, but I can’t imagine being as excited as I am about the prospects of Sveum and his staff.
Apparently, many around the league think Theo and the gang got it right again.
The scout says the way they have Starlin Castro responding to working on his defense is the key. “If he gets it, now you have a defense that will make a difference”
“You couple that with Stewart’s glove over a diminished (Aramis) Ramirez, you are going to lower your ERA from last year dramatically”
On the subject of the pitching staff he says the Cubs are looking to be much improved, but he still has some questions.
“They couldn’t go wrong with (Chris) Volstad, but (Travis) Wood has not looked the same from early last year” “(Randy) Wells is the interesting guy in that mix, he pounds the lower portion of the zone the way they want”
He said if the Cubs were to shop Wells, his team would be interested.
Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo have impressed as well as Junior Lake.
“They may have a nice problem soon with Lake. I like his bat, if they can find a way to settle him down, he may come fast”
He says third base may be his only position.
This scout was very down on Bryan LaHair.
“I just don’t see it right now, I think they know themselves. I think they would be much better off with Rizzo even today, but they aren’t going to rush him”
The scout says that Rizzo does have to work on some things but has closed the gap a bit from his short stint last season. He really feels like Rizzo isn't far off from what he eventually will be, a 30 HR, solid glove guy, with a lot of strikeouts.
“The strike outs are going to be there, but they usually are with guys like him”
As far as Brett Jackson is concerned, he says he is clearly the Cubs second best position player in camp, but yet understands the patience the Cubs are trying to practice.
He does say it would be "criminal" if Jackson were in Iowa any longer than May.
So there you have one veteran scout’s quick takes on the Cubs. Some big question marks like Wood and LaHair, and some nice words about our leadership and some key younger players like Castro, Rizzo, BJax, and Lake.
All in all he feels the improvement will be visible on the field even if it doesn’t reflect much in the win column.