Cubs Notes: Valbuena, Castillo added to roster; Cain, Rizzo, Castro, and quick Dempster trade?

If you've been following my minor league reports, you know that Luis Valbuena has been mashing AAA pitching.  Not just this year, but for the past few years.

There is no doubt he can hit at that level.

The question has always been whether the 26 year old infielder can hit at the major league level.  Take a look at the comparison between Valbuena at AAA and the majors.

AAA (parts of 6 seasons and 1183 PAs)

.304/.385/.476  (.861 OPS)

Majors (Parts of 4 seasons and 806 PAs)

.226/.286/.344 (.630 OPS)

We know that Theo Epstein doesn't believe in 4A players and he put his money where his mouth was by entrusting Bryan LaHair with the 1B job.

Could the Cubs find themselves another LaHair type late bloomer in Valbuena?

We'll have to wait and see.  He gets the start today but don't necessarily  judge him by his performance in this game.  He'll be facing Justin Verlander, who has made many a hitter look like they belong in AAA.

In another related roster move, the Cubs will DFA Koyie Hill to make room for Valbuena while Welington Castillo will be called up to take Ian Stewart's place on the active roster.

Odds and Ends

  • Matt Cain's 14 strikeout perfect game was one of the best games ever pitched according to his game score, an all-encompassing measurement invented by statistics guru Bill James.  Cain's game score was 101.  The best game ever pitched according to James?  Why it's Kerry Wood's one hit, 20 strikeout game, which scored a 105.
  • One scout doesn't believe the hype on Anthony Rizzo.  The reason?  He feels that he only hits weaker pitching.  Of course, many, such as Keith Law of ESPN, have noted that Rizzo has corrected all his flaws this season and is among the best prospects in the game.  Either way, we'll find out soon for ourselves.
  • Gordon Wittenmeyer talks to one exec who believes that the Cubs position as definitive sellers early in the trade season may mean that teams may make a quick strike for Ryan Dempster.  He also quotes the Dodgers and Yankees as the most likeliest landing spots for Dempster.  We talked about possible targets on the Dodgers.  As for the Yankees, it's probably the usual suspects, LHP Manny Banuelos and the fast-fading RHP Delin Betances (no thanks, unless the Cubs are very confident he has a fixable flaw).  For some more interesting prospects, check out the Yankees Class A affiliate Charleston, led by C Gary Sanchez and OF Tyler Austin.
  • Baseball America has a nice article on the quickly improving Matt Szczur.  Observers note that Szczur has the ability to adapt quickly because of his athleticism, coachability, work ethic, and overall mental makeup.  Hmmm... haven't we been saying that all along here?  Szczur, by the way, is recovering from a sore knee that is not believed to be serious.  He's on the DL but the Cubs seem to expect him to be activated soon.  They are just being cautious.
  • Brett of Bleacher Nation has some good notes from Theo Epstein's appearance on the Waddle and Silvy show Theo Epstein's thoughts on Starlin Castro so I won't repeat them here.  I will say that Epstein pretty much repeats what we've been saying here all along.  The skinny...He's improved his fundamentals and looks outstanding at SS. He does lose focus at times but he cares and he's working on it -- and that he will develop patience as he gets older, especially as pitchers start to work around him other words, he expects Castro to improve.  We have had non-Cubs sources here that have said Castro isn't going anywhere, either in terms of a trade or position, for quite some time and it's great to see Epstein sees it the same way.


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  • What, Koyie Hill was released?? UH?? What a bummer! ;^]

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Tough break for you Norway. I know you were the president (and only member) of the Koyie Hill fan club.:)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Koyie wasn't much, but credit him for being a good soldier. Everybody, including him, knew that his time with the club was limited to however long Clevenger, Castillo, and Soto were out. I'm sure he's at the stage of his career that he's just hoping to hang on a little bit longer.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    No doubt. He's a good guy and an intelligent baseball player. If he doesn't get an offer anywhere, would love to see him on our coaching staff.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The worst Cubs offensive catcher since Tim Blackwell back in the day

  • I cried every time Koyie Hill played in a game.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    His play was less than inspiring, but I think if we could somehow instill his knowledge and experience into Welington Castillo's head, we'd have an all-star catcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hill should be proud of his mlb contribution. He played for years with baseball IQ and determination and little athletic gifts.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Despite my dig at the top, I will always be impressed at how Hill managed to come back and have a Major League career after that sawing accident where he severed several fingers. Tougher than I will ever be.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    I second your statement Bilbo.

  • Looking forward to getting a look at Valbuena and seeing if the light goes on for him here. Also, off-topic but I have to ask: is there any way to get the video player on the right to stop playing Sox ads (or stop playing anything period lol). Those Sox ads are the last thing I want to see when I come here.

  • In reply to Ricardo:

    Haha! That MLB ad helps pay the bills. I wish we could filter Sox stuff out though. Kind of like a V-Chip or something. :)

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    In reply to Ricardo:


  • Like LeHair and Mather just give him a chance. With other pitchers
    and hitters that might hit the market, I hope the Cubs don't wait to long to trade Dempster, Garza and others. Only at our price.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Dempster trade will happen, but trading him or anyone else quickly depends as much on the other team.

  • Valbuena will likely hit more than Two Oh Something which means he's an improvement.

    They better have learned from the Lilly Debacle when they trade Dempster. DeWitt for The Riot is a fair trade... we just gave them Ted as a throw in.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Sheez, when you put the trade that way, it sounds even more awful! ;)

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    In reply to eaton53:

    I disagree that DeWitt for the Riot is fair, I feel we even lost out on that part of the deal.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    One backup scrub for another.
    The Riot did manage to beat out the supremely talented Mike Fontenot for a job. Somehow.

    Hey, come to think of it... both those guys have rings. They must be great compared to such losers as Banks, Williams, Santo and Sandberg.

    So I guess I have to take back The Riot being a scrub.

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    In reply to eaton53:

    I'm not denying that Ryan Theriot is not a below average big league player but at least he wasn't sent down for Adrian Cardenas.

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    The first time Koyie Hill was let go was a very happy day, and now I get to experience it all over again. WOOO HOOO!!!

    On a more serious note, the whole Yankee versus Dodger thing is messing with me. As a whole, I like the Yankees system more than I do the Dodgers system, but the Dodgers do have some parts I like. Also, I'm not convinced the only teams bidding for Dempster's services are just the Dodgers and Yankees, but if it were just those two, here are some suggestions as far as packages go.

    Yankees: Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez and Bryan Mitchell

    The Yankee took Mitchell in the 16th round of 2009, and they bought him out of a commitment to UNC for $800K. His fastball sits low to mid 90's with a lot of movement that gets swing and misses when it's around the zone. His curveball is said to be a power downer coming in around the low 80's. His change-up is a work in progress. He has command issues, and he walks to many hitters. However, that may be due in part to a delay in his development. He was a late sign, and he didn't play at all 2009. He then missed part of 2010 with an abdominal injury, but he has a lot of upside with the potential to be a #2 or #3 starter.

    Dodgers: Chris Reed, Ethan Martin and Garrett Gould.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I agree, and these names look good. Like I said before we have
    to leave it up to the scouting dept. do do their jobs and select
    the right prospect(s) for us.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    I wonder, if you included LaHair with Dempster to the Dodgers, could you get Zach Lee in addition to Reed, Martin and Gould.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I just throw interesting names out there. I leave it up to you guys to create specific trade packages :)

  • Tyler Austin or Dante Bichette Jr. would be a nice pickup for the Cubs in a Dempster trade. I think Banuelos is still hurt and Betances is just god awful. While the Cubs are in DIRE need for pitching prospects, I also wouldn't mind picking up an OF prospect like DB2 who would grow and add depth to where we have 4 or 5 good OF prospects.

    Valbuena strikes me as a simple stopgap fill in. Hopefully he'll raise my eyes but I don't see either him or Mr. Cardenas being anything more than a utility fill in player.

  • In reply to felzz:

    More than likely, Valbuena and Cardenas are utility players, but this is a good year to find out one way or another. The 3B prospects on the horizon -- Vitters and Lake -- have a few questions of their own right now.

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    I think this Valbuena situation has more implications than we realize. Nobody has mentioned it but what if Luis is auditioning for the second base job right now should Barney get traded? I don't think its too farfetched to say they want to see if they can trade him without a large drop off in production.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It's certainly possible. The Cubs are keeping all their options available at this time of year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I still think the trade to be made is with Detroit, and I'd bet my left nut that Dombrowski sat down with Esptein and Hoyer at some point during this series.

    They desperately need another starting pitcher, and they could use a good defensieve middle infielder that can at least hit a little.

  • Castro through 62 games in 2012:

    BB 6
    K 47

    3 BBs in April, 2 in May and 1 thus far in June.

    Enough to make Shawon Dunston blush.

    What kind of track record of improvement can be proejcted for a guy with such an awful bb/k line?

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    In reply to JK1969:

    Lines like that are fine for him because he hits over .300 and figures to develop more power. But he has to constantly maintain a high batting average to even out the walk/k rate.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    I don't think Castro will strike out a lot long term. As for the walks, it isn't easy but Castro's odds are better than most 1) he's 22, 2) he's talented and has good pitch recognition and 3) he wants to improve and 4) he works very hard.

  • With the Cubs going against Verlander today, does anyone else have visions of Leslie Nielson from Naked Gun going through their heads? The home plate ump may be calling strikes while Verlander's in the windup.

    He's so dominant. We may see a follow up to Cain's performance.

  • In reply to Greg Shuey:

    The first time I saw that scene my ribs were aching for days afterward. Great movie. Thanks for the reference!

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