Cubs Notes: Barney, Almora, Villaneuva, Vitters, AZ prospects, and the new moneyball?

It seems like a good day to round up some of the more interesting Cubs-related links...

  • TheFielding Bible rates Darwin Barney as the best 2B in the NLbut predicts Brandon Phillips will win the Gold Glove anyway because he does things that get more attention, namely having a good overall season and making highlight worthy plays.  As for Barney, they had this to say, "At second base, it has been all Darwin Barney this season. After a couple of neutral defensive seasons in 2010 and 2011, Barney exploded in 2012 with 27 Defensive Runs Saved for the Cubs, behind only Brendan Ryan at all positions. In particular, he has really improved his range on ground balls to both his left and right. Barney is a heavy favorite for the Fielding Bible Award, but he may struggle to beat out three-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips for the NL Gold Glove".
  • Fangraphs had a nice Q and A session with Cubs prospect Albert Almora.  The first thing you'll notice is his great feel for the game and how willing he is to be coached and work hard.  Among the things Almora wants to work on is his plate discipline.  We talk about mental makeup a lot, and Almora's responses in the interview pretty much show that his makeup is off the charts.
  • Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus tweets that "#Cubs 3B prospect Christian Villanueva was impressive w/ the bat yesterday for Obregon. Showing off his + bat speed; squaring solid velo" and "Villanueva doesn't have a crazy ceiling, but he has a good defensive profile at 3B, some legit pop in the bat, and ++ makeup."  Villanueva is considered the Cubs top 3B prospect (at least until Javier Baez moves there) and a top 10 prospect overall.  He should start next season in AA with a chance to join the Cubs by 2014.
  • Carrie Muskat notes that Josh Vitters and Tony Campana have been asked to play winter ball.  Given their struggles this year, it's a pretty good idea if they agree to go.  Both need ABs and Vitters needs a lot more work on his defense and approach.
  • Patrick Mooney of CSN says the Cubs are in wait and see mode with both Matt Garza and Ian Stewart.  Garza hasn't started throwing yet but the speculation is that once he's healthy, the rumors will probably start up again.  As for Stewart, Mooney says the Cubs may give Stewart another chance but says it's hard to see them giving him another opportunity and the benefit of the doubt.
  • This is a couple days old but BA ranked the top prospects in the AZ Rookie League and Albert Almora and Jorge Soler ranked #2 and #4 respectively.  Dan Vogelbach was 14th.  The Cubs pitchers didnt qualify but they did get mentioned in the chats.  Dillon Maples and Duane Underwood were both impressive with Maples reaching 96 and showing a good curveball.  Underwood and Juan Paniagua both touched 97.  Ryan McNeil and Paul Blackburn were also mentioned but both seem a notch below the big 3.
  • A very interesting article in SI by Joe Lemire on the A's finding new market inefficiencies with defense and platoons.  He also notes the complete restructuring of their pitching staff around rookies, only one of which was taken within the first 10 rounds (Jarrod Parker).  The A's resourcefulness in building their team around pitching, defense...and even speed, could be a model for the Cubs until they're ready to add those final pieces through trade and/or free agency.

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  • I know they need room on the 40-man roster, but I would not
    release Steward

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Per Bruce Miles, the Cubs staff was not thrilled with Stewart's work ethic. We are desperate there, though.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I get the feeling the Cubs are going to pick up a RH bat who played solid D and maybe platoon with Valbuena.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm trying to think who that RH would be. Wigginton can hit lefties but he can't really field. Inge can field but can't hit anymore. Jose Lopez? He's a better fielder than Wigg and a better hitter than Inge but doesn't blow my skirt up. Not sure Rolen, Youk or Reynolds would want to platoon. Maybe Polanco?

    I'd rather have Stewart as the LH compliment to the platoon than Valbuena. Luis is about at his best and it's no better than Ian's worst (or just about worst). Stewart just has more upside.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    Stewart's the more talented player, no question. The question seems to be how hard he's willing to work to reach that potential. If the Cubs decide he's worth bringing back, I think he gets a pretty short leash this time around. Time to show something more than potential.

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    RE: Darwin Barney and the Gold Glove, I wrote about this earlier. Not only is Phillips flashier, but he is the incumbent, plays for a better team, and is a better hitter (Yes, those last two should have nothing to do with it, but they do). I think Barney has a legit shot if he finishes the season without another error.

    You have to be impressed by Barney; he never played 2B full-time until last season, and two seasons later he is a model of consistency at the position. That takes hard work and amazing focus.

  • John, the link to Fielders Bible doesn't seem to be working. Any chance that can get corrected? Thanks in advance.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby, I just re-linked it. Let me know if it works.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Works good, but next time you might want to open it in a new window..


  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks. I'm sure that's an option somewhere in WordPress and I'll see if I can change that.

  • John,

    I couldn't get the Fielding Bible link to work. Might be me... I'm really starting to feel sorry for Darwin. It seems he may lose the GG to Philips solely on the fact that he isn't "flashy" enough.....

    Nice article with Almora. I think the instincts and work ethic combined with his natural talent (to go along with some humility) are what makes me confident in him (same for Baez) that they WILL impact at the MLB level.

    I'm a little disappointed Sveum hasn't given Campana more looks down the stretch. He seems to be willing to let everyone else except Tony & LaHair play through their struggles. I realize he is going to be a 5th outfielder at best for us right now. But he is the only game-changer we have on the bases right now. For a team struggling to produce runs, you'd think Sveum would be more receptive to manufacturing some runs....

    Carrie Muskat also has a recent article on about Stewart. in it she quotes Jed "He's got a lot of ability, the same ability that we saw when we traded for him. He's got big power, he's left-handed, he's a really good defensive third baseman. There are a lot of pluses there. We need to figure out what part was the wrist and what part wasn't." They;res obviously something they want to see/hear from Stewart before committing to him for 2013. Pickens' are kinda slim for an impact 3B so they may decide to him another look. Which, I'd be okay with.

    That is a very nice read by Lemire. While I was scratching my head with some of their trades of young MLB pitching (Gio?) they've certainly surprised everyone, apparently even themselves. lol Having said that though, how many of these bottom feeder type signings haven't worked out? IDK if that would work in Chicago, because every move Theo/Jed make is under the microscope. Will Cubs fans allow Theo/Jed freedom from micro scrutiny on every move for 2-3 years? Not likely.

  • Here's a link to another CSN story that will raise some hopes:

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Was just working on a story on that. Should be up later this afternoon.

  • I get the feeling those 'final pieces' are either going to be added through trade, or are going to be guys who can be had as free agents, but come with warts. Star players rarely reach free agency anymore, and when they do, they get contracts that can sink a franchise if they go bad.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I'd say that feeling is pretty much on the money.

  • Miami Marlins signed ex-Cub Adam Greenberg. Adam will bat against Mets Dickey next Tuesday. Selig o.k. the one day contract deal.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Don't mean to be cynical here but with Jeffrey Loria behind this, it seems less an act of empathy and more about drawing attention to his team.

  • I'm gonna go on record and say Barney's errorless streak has garnered enough enough attention that he'll win the Gold Glove. Pretty much every opponent's broadcast I watch mentions it.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    This is what I'm hoping too, Carne.

  • I don't see Stewart or Valbuena as the answer for the Cubs at 3B, Stewart has one of the worst swings to be a hitter you can depend on he had so many holes in his swing I am wondering how this guy ever made it to the show. Valbuena on the other hand is nothing more than just a sub player. After watching him this year I don't see what more we need to see from him that makes him a starting player for the Cubs past this season.

    We are in dire need for s 3B, Vitters has to make more contact he has to make more contact if he intends to play in the big show rather than in the minors like LaHair did. They Cubs can fill that void at 3B but in a year or two Baez will be up

  • In reply to BullySixChicago:

    I don't either. At least not a long term answer. It's possible we get another year with one of them as a starter, but they look like place holders right now.

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