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 more...in 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.