Cubs Notes: Barney in demand, LaHair in the OF, and notes, video, links on Cuban and other international players

Cubs Notes: Barney in demand, LaHair in the OF, and notes, video, links on Cuban and other international players

Here's a few odds and ends as we wait for the Cubs to try and take game 2 in Mobile Telephone Company Ballpark...

  • In his latest article, Ken Rosenthal writes, "Don’t rule out the possibility of the Cubs trading second baseman Darwin Barney rival clubs frequently ask about Barney, but none has offered value that the Cubs consider sufficient for a regular second baseman. Barney might end up more of a utility type.  Both Tom and I have talked to non-Cubs baseball people and we've gotten the vibe that he's a well-respected ballplayer around the league.  He's not going to dazzle you with tools or big numbers, but he'll give you good middle infield defense and he'll hit enough to not be a liability in your lineup.  I think if you're a contending team with a hole at SS or 2B, you can do a heck of a lot worse than Darwin Barney.  On a team with a strong lineup, you can definitely live with some sub-par offense considering everything else he brings to the table.  On the other hand, Barney is an asset to the Cubs in that he's a young, inexpensive starting infielder.  His smart play is a steadying influence for Starlin Castro as he continues to learn the nuances of the game.
  • Manager Dale Sveum says that the Cubs are going to see more Bryan LaHair in the OF, at least against RHP.  His debut was a smashing success.  Not only did he hit the 2-run HR to put the Cubs ahead to stay, he also made a nice running catch over his head in the OF.  What LaHair lacks in athleticism and speed, he makes up for with good instincts. The Cubs are preparing not just for Anthony Rizzo's arrival, but  for the possibility that they will keep LaHair.  Like Barney, he's productive and he's cost-controlled, though he's not quite as young.  If nothing else, LaHair can be a nice bridge as the Cubs build a competitive team over the next couple of years.  The questions with LaHair are his ability to hit LHPs and how long he can be a viable option in the OF as he ages and slows down.  After watching his surprisingly solid  play last night, that's obviously not going to be a problem in the short term.  It also serves as a message to possible trade partners that may be trying to lowball the Cubs on LaHair.  Showing that the Cubs are willing to keep -- and play -- LaHair even when Anthony Rizzo is promoted gives them a bit more leverage.  The Cubs have no reason to trade LaHair unless they're going to get surplus long term value in return.
  • Matt Garza is the latest to defend Alfonso Soriano.  And to commenter "Jose", thanks for the kind words!
  • The Cubs are said to be among the teams interested in another Cuban pitcher, this time, Armando Rivero, whom I wrote about in January as a possible Cubs target.  Here is what I said then, "Rivero was a teammate of Concepcion's and is very much the opposite type of pitcher.  He's older (23), he's a power guy (96 mph), and he projects as a reliever.  Some think he has a chance to start because he does have 3 pitches, but his quickest road is through the bullpen. He could start at AA."  Rivero is said to top out at 98 mph with his 4 seamer, but also has a 2 seamer that may end up being the better pitch because it has better movement.  He also has a slider and a change.  Built like Texas reliever Mike Adams. He's a closer prospect.
  • Ben Badler from Baseball America, who does tremendous work on the international front, lists 9 players to watch for the international signing period.  Unfortunately, the Cubs aren't listed as front runners on any of them, but Badler promises to have a more extensive list later.  Badler also has video on a few of the players.  Great stuff as always.  I wrote about a few more here.
  • Cuban OF'er Yasiel Puig just defected and intends to sign before the international signing period begins on July 2nd so that he isn't restricted by the new CBA.  He's not as established a ballplayer as Yoenis Cespedes, but he does have more experience than Soler and he's just 21.  Last year, the athletic 6'3", 210 lbs. Puig was something of a surprise, hitting .330 with 17 HRs in his second season for Serie Nacional but did receive a disciplinary suspension late in the year that threatened to keep him out for part of this season.  The suspension may have been for previous attempts to defect from Cuba (h/t Joao).  He is a talented ballplayer, however, and he should attract a lot of attention.  Would the Cubs enter the bidding for Puig after dropping $30M on Jorge Soler and $6M on Gerardo Concepcion?  It's definitely a situation worth monitoring as the Cubs are looking to add as much potential impact talent as possible and they've shown the willingness to spend for it.  In the past 2-3 years, the team has signed more than it's share of Cuban baseball players and is becoming something of a preferred destination.  Is Puig next?  Here is some video if you're interested.  Puig comes to bat at the 4:20 mark...

Comments

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  • How in the world is Puig going to establish residency in time to sign before 7/2? Given the efforts it took to establish residency for Conception, Cepedes, and Soler, I think the percentage likelihood of him establishing residency/gaining citizenship in 2 weeks is nearly zero.

  • In reply to JB88:

    I don't know, but that's his (and his agent's) goal. I'm sure if it does get through this quickly, it might well be worth looking into.

  • With the new CBA just over the horizon the Cubs need to go after any international player that they consider an impact talent real hard.

    As for a Cuban disciplanary suspension, remember... it's Cuba. Say they wrong thing and they'll take you out back and shoot you.

    So... how do you say this guy's name? Yas-eel Pew-wig?
    I just figured out that Jorge Soler is Hor-hay Sol-AIR.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Agreed that they should get whatever impact talent they can. I don't know a whole lot on Puig right now because this was rather sudden, but will try and find out if he really is a potential impact player.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Ohh...pronunciation. Yah-see-EL Pweeg, is what I'm assuming.

  • How bout a trade with the rays involving players like Barney lahair and soto. Lahair will help the rays with a DH/OF plus Soto much needed C for rays and Barney help their middle infield. Maybe Cubs can land top pitcher maybe Matt Moore or get Chris Archer back?

  • In reply to Chicago Cubs Fan 24:

    They do seem like players the Rays would target, but it's not enough for Moore, and probably not enough for Archer, even though he has struggled with command.

    Archer, by the way, has been recalled and is starting tonight for the Rays.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Really I really want to watch that game

  • In reply to Chicago Cubs Fan 24:

    Actually, I'm not sure. Price is listed, but I read that they were either recalling him or considering it. Cant remember where now!

  • Jose is right!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Thanks :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd have to throw Tom in there too though.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Of course!

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    I've read that Puig's suspension had something to do with previous attempts to defect from Cuba, so I think it tells us more about Cuba than it does about Puig!

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Thanks for that info Joao! I will update the piece.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're welcome! And here's where I got the info from: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120619&content_id=33556394&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Great, thanks again,...my dad's name is Joao, by the way. Born in Curitiba, Brasil!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's awesome! I'm from São Paulo (and probably one of the two or three Cubs fans in the city, if not in Brazil as a whole, haha). By the way, this is the first time I post a comment but I read the blog everyday and appreciate it a lot. Thanks for all the hard work!

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Your welcome.

    By the way, I don't know if you are aware, but there is a LHP prospect from Brazil named Luiz Gohara. I don't know if the Cubs are in on him. The Mariners, though, are known to be interested.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I wasn't aware of that, no. I'll look into it!

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Sounds like what I was saying... don't trust Cuban discipline.
    He's lucky they didn't take him out back or down by the river!!

  • With the signing of all these Cuban players, do you think the cubs will go back to the Cuba road uniforms they use to wear?

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    May not be a bad idea. They can all feel at home :)

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    Which side does Puig bat from, and which arm does he throw with? I can find a lot about him, but nothing that tells me that.

    BTW, I just read that the Tigers have no chance to sign Puig. Something about Michael Moore being a big fan of Detroit. In fact, he was suspended for refusing to watch "Sicko." Apparently he stormed out of the indoctrination center saying Moore should go do something to his mother.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He's batting RH in the video above and it's against a RHP, so we can assume he doesn't switch-hit.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry, I didn't notice the pitcher was throwing right-handed.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    No biggie...I didn't know if you had watched the video :)

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    What does Dempster and Barney get us from Detroit?

    Turner, Crosby and Oliver? Maybe Tyler Collins or Curt Casali as a throw in?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I leave those trade scenarios to you, Michael! I'm more inclined to just list prospects the Cubs may have interest in. That proposal seems like a heavy price, however. If the Cubs can somehow snag Turner and a couple of upside prospects, I'd be thrilled.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Honestly, to get that haul, I think you'd have to give them Garza and Barney. I also think they'd be hesitant to trade both Crosby and Oliver. I'm actually surprised they haven't called Oliver up. He's pitched much better than Crosby in AAA this season.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Michael: I agree with you regarding needing Garza in that scenario. What I wonder is how the Cubs front office views those three pitchers. I am not as high on Turner as some; and it appears Oliver has walked 56 batters in 79 innings of AAA. I threw out the idea of Drabek for Dempster the other day; thinking high potential upside as well as transitioning from the battleground of the AL East to the NL. However; on top of the injury, Drabek has as many walks(47) as strike outs this year in 71 innings of work. Although "Threeo" may not give the media much to go on, they have stated with regularity that they want power arms with control. My sense is whatever we get back in return for Garza and/or Dempster/others-you are going to see guys that throw strikes with consistency.

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    Did anyone besides me watch Arkansas and South Carolina last night?

    Stanek looked like Greg Maddux with a better fastball the first four innings. He can bring it with the four seamer. It was mid to upper 90's, and it moved up and into the right handed hitters. However, it was his two seamer and what looked like a circle-change that he seemed to like best.

    Stanek also wasn't afraid to throw the curve or the slider at any point in the count. He didn't strike a lot of guys out, though I think he could have with his stuff. He seemed content to let hitter put the ball in play and allow his defense to do the work for him. He saved the gas only for those occasions when he absolutely had to have it. The 180 lb frame is very projectable. He did start to run out of gas in the fifth inning, and he was pulled after the sixth, but those first four innings were pretty impressive.

    Orel Herscheiser was part of the ESPN crew calling the game, and he was pretty impressed. Herscheiser said he got to talk with Stanek one on one before the game. He said Stanek seemed very mature for his age, and he seemed to understand the difference between pitching and just throwing.

    BTW, the Cubs had people from their scouting department at the game last night.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Scouting is year round these days. Try to get as much info as possible.

    I'm sure at this point Stanek is on the short list. Thanks for the info!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Stanek had a good year. It will be interesting to see how he does in the summer league. If he does well and then blows through the SEC again, he'll go in the top 10 easy.

    I hope Karsten Wilson heals up and returns to form. That should make for a great pitching duel.

  • Kind of blows your mind, but did you know per baseball reference, wins against replacement, none other than Mr. Darwin Barney is the #1 rated second baseman in major league baseball thus far in 2012. Ahead of Robinson Cano, Dan Uggla, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Rickie Weeks, Ben Zobrist, and Brandon Phillips among others.
    This may be an indictment against the whole formula, but you better believe general managers follow these metrics. At 26 years old, the kid has more value than I think we realize watching him everyday.

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    Barney is on a pace for about 7 hr's and 49 rbi, based on the same number of games played last year, 143. He'll probably play more games this year than last year. We'll see if he starts to fade in the second half like he did last year. I know he said he worked on improving his strength this offseason.

  • I'm going to take that rating with a grain of salt. Barney does have value, but not that much value. Most teams use their own advanced metrics. I know the Cubs do.

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    Hmm. Phillies injured 2b Freddy Galvis has been suspended by MLB for 50 games for a drug violation.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-phillies-galvis-suspended-50-games-for-positive-drug-test-20120619,0,5373964.story

    It says he starts serving it now. That makes no sense. He went on the DL a week ago or so and is expected out for the year. How can he serve a suspension when on the DL? That's the same as not being suspended.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Agree. That makes no sense.

  • MLB has many interesting "rules". Allowing injured players to serve suspensions while injured, allowing teams to put players on the DL even though they're not really injured, et al.

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