New Article and Poll: Should Cubs sit veteran starters vs. Rockies and Astros?

New Article and Poll: Should Cubs sit veteran starters vs. Rockies and Astros?
Should the Cubs sit Alfonso Soriano?

I'll probably stir up a hornet's nest here, but should the Cubs sit players like Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus against the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros?  Maybe even shut down Carlos Marmol to keep him healthy for next season and see if any young pitchers can step up into that role?

When the Cubs were playing the Pirates and the Cardinals, there were playoff implications at stake.  It's an unspoken rule that you put your best team on the field out there because you are unfairly balancing the playoff race if you do not.

But what about vs. the Rockies and Astros...and possibly even the Diamondbacks if they are eliminated by the time the Cubs arrive?

The truth is the Rockies (because of injuries and horrific pitching) and the Astros (because of a thinly-veiled plan to tank the season to get the #1 pick), aren't competing at an MLB level right now.  The teams they are trotting out there everyday, with the exception of a couple of players, look like average AAA teams.  Maybe it's a good time for the Cubs to play their young guys down the stretch to evaluate what they have.

That's not to say they shouldn't give it their best effort on the field.  If you play young guys fighting for jobs next year and looking to make an impression, you're pretty much guaranteed to get some inspired -- yet occasionally head-sratching - baseball.

Why not see if Adrian Cardenas can play OF and whether he can hit with more consistent ABs?  Can Dave Sappelt play MLB caliber defense in CF?  Why not let Bryan LaHair get some ABs down the stretch vs. lefties and righties to see if he can increase his value?  Should the Cubs start Josh Vitters at 3B the rest of the year?  We know what Luis Valbuena can do and we know he's better suited to help the Cubs win now, but why not give Vitters some consistent time and see what he can do with steady ABs?  What kind of progress has he made as far as making adjustments at the plate?  Can Anthony Recker challenge Steve Clevenger for the backup catcher role in 2013?

Let's find out the answer to those questions.

Let's take it a step further.  Why not call up Junior Lake and Logan Watkins to give them a taste of MLB life?  Lets see how they adapt and adjust.

There has been an ongoing debate on this site about whether the Cubs are better off losing down the stretch.  In all honesty, it is better for them in the long run if they end up with a higher draft pick -- yet some fans (including myself) can't actively watch the Cubs and root for them to lose.  Maybe this is the compromise.  Field a team that is better for development and get a head start to answer some questions for 2013.   It's a team we could root for in terms of wanting to see the young talent succeed-- and frankly, a team that could compete with -- and  probably still beat -- the Astros and Rockies (who have lost 16 of their last 18 games).

At the same time, it gives the Cubs the best shot of "competing" with the shell of what was once known as the Colorado Rockies for that #2 pick. Just as you shouldn't make it easy on teams trying to compete and make the playoffs, maybe you shouldn't make it easy for teams to tank the season for draft picks.

What say you?

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  • I think we need to see if the Little Sisters of the Poor can play better that some of our guys.

  • In reply to SFToby:


  • Mather in CF could be fun

  • In reply to tim815:

    If that's the case, I've had way too much fun this season ;)

    Realistically you play Jackson, but part of me wants to see them try Sappelt,though the reports aren't too good on his CF defense.

    Watkins would be fun too.

  • In reply to tim815:

    Vogelbach would be a riot, but I kinda doubt they'll start the service clock just for smiles.

  • Since I'm sure the argument will come up in regards to "respecting the game", I fail to see how it's any less respectful of the game than the lineup the Reds trotted out the day they clinched the NL Central against us. It was Johnny Cueto, Ryan Hanigan, and the Louisville Bats.

    I'd personally love to see what guys like Cardenas, Vitters, Sappelt, and Recker can do. Wouldn't mind seeing Clevenger at some alternate positions, either.

    At the least, it protects guys like Soriano from injury. On the subject of Sori, now that he's proven for the whole season that by just about every metric, he's a top 3 defender in LF in the NL, has 30 bombs, a career high in RBIs, and an .821 OPS (good for a 119 OPS+), can we finally say he does potentially have trade value, assuming the Cubs are still willing to eat all but $2-3 million annually on his contract?

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    I think he has some value if the Cubs are willing to eat about $30M of that remaining salary. We can't expect a whole lot in return other than opening that spot for a young player or bargain FA next year.

    I'm guessing the trade would have to be to an AL team in warm weather to have the best chance of going through.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Soriano will get ABs out of respect, and to allow him to build his RBI total. It's not like Jorge Soler was a September call-up, totally different is someone decent was in the wings.

    I personally don't think much of Cardenas. I think he can hit better than he's shown, but what is his upside? Basically Blake Dewitt, IMO. He's a terrible fielder, which is ultimately why he won't have much of a ML career. He hit at AAA, but Valbuena hit almost as well, and he's a plus fielder at several positions.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree. I have to admit the article is not completely practical. You can't just bench Soriano the rest of the year, but I hope they give him 2-3 days off at least.

    I think he's a lot like DeWitt in that both are natural hitters with fundamentally sound swings. To me, though, Cardenas has a better approach at the plate-- and that gives him a better chance to make use of his natural hitting ability.

    I do agree, though, that Valbuena has more value because of his good defense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think he's proven he's worth more than 3 million a year, so I think we could expect more in return than just opening up a spot for one of our own guys.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I agree they'll get something, I didn't mean to imply that they would give him away, but I'm not expecting a Grade A prospect, It's either going to be a low ceiling guy who can help soon or a high risk lower level guy.

    I hope I'm pleasantly surprised and they get someone worth getting excited about, but I don't foresee that right now.

  • Yes, the veterans should sit, but still bring them in a key
    PH situation. I have been a Cub fan for 35 yes, I have never
    wanted them to lose a game on purpose. But if they play a
    good game and still lose at least they tried their best. Playing
    very young prospects is not try to throw the game.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    You know I'm on your side, but I think this is stretching semantics to the point of breaking. If you're starting Dave Sappelt and Brett Jackson while sitting Alfonso Soriano, it's impossible to argue that you're trying as hard as you can to win.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I see your point, but playing Soriano just to build up his
    stats is for the best interest of the team in the long run.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Oh, no, I'm with you. Though, his numbers are SO good, you could argue that top free agents will be less willing to come to the Cubs if you sit him. It's a real tightrope when someone is having a season like Sori is.

    I just don't think we can want Sori to sit for draft picks and not say we're advocating "throwing" games. Even though it clearly isn't Black Sox level of throwing. (Or Houston Astros level of throwing, for that matter.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No argument there. Playing those players would be strictly about evaluating for next season. They can't pretend they're trying their best to win if they bench DeJesus and Soriano.

    That said, the Cubs can still compete and win against the Astros and Rockies while sitting those guys. Agreed that it's not trying their best to win, but I also wouldn't go so far as to say they're trying to lose.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Fair enough -- it's a pretty grey area. But I'll agree, we're not marching out 25 guys from the stands knowing full well they'll never hit a major league pitch. Something like that would be actively trying to lose. The Cubs version is simply not minding the loss.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    To me, blatantly trying to lose would involve benching Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, and Barney. All young guys who figure to start in 2013 but are still productive and among their best players this season.

    You can make an excuse for occasionally benching Soriano or DeJesus, (i.e. keeping them healthy into the offseason, evaluating younger talent). Really hard to justify benching the young starters.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I buy that. Castillo is looking better than advertised, isn't he? If he can learn to play the position defensively, look out.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's gotten better defensively as the year has gone on and he's much better than he was at this point last year. That's key if you can get that catcher spot taken care for the next 10 years...or at least 6.

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    If they're going to, I think the classy way to do it is to stick a note on Sori's locker every day that reads: "If you'd accepted the trade to the Giants, you'd be starting today. Be careful of splinters!"

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think it would be even classier if Sir Jon Gielgud or Alec Guiness were still alive to deliver the message in person.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think if it would be classy for either of those guys to deliver that message, but it would be scary as sh*t because they're both dead. The message would be coming from zombies. Poor Fonzie.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It sounds like instead of Gielgud or Guinness, it was Polonius from Hamlet, saying to Sori, "To thine own self be true."

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Quoting Shakespeare...this site gets more highbrow everyday!

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    I think it depends entirely on the player or situation; I don't think there is an across the board answer.

    For Vitters and Jackson, both have signficant flaws that need to be addressed this offseason, and there is a plan there. It doesn't make alot of sense to put them out there with the current bad habits. They can sit and learn.

    I would pitch Marmol to build trade value this offseason; he's had a good run lately, a longer good run will help prove that his earlier control issues are "fixed".

    Soriano, I could go either way. I think the big thing in the OF is playing Sappelt, to see if he is a viable 4th OF next year, which would save us from spending $$$. LaHair isn't a bad idea. Regardless, we need to see no more of Joe Mather, as he will not be with the club next year.

    Recker probably needs some ABs; Clevenger stinks IMO, and either Clevenger or Recker is going to AAA next year to be available in case of injury to someone.

    Our young-ish bullpen arms are already getting plenty of work with mixed results, to say the least. At least Bowden has been OK, but everyone else needs some work, or needs to go away.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Zonk:

    One thing I forgot.....Castro has played a ton. Who is the backup SS next year? Castro might sit a game or two to take a break, and we can see how Valbuena handles SS. I don't think he's had a chance there.

    Notice the Cubs aren't playing Campana much; I think they've seen enough to think he's basically a one-trick pony (which he is, IMO)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Castro seems to have been slipping in the field lately -- and it hasn't been on throws so much as physical errors in the field. Maybe he's wearing down. The Cubs need a backup for next season. Valbuena played SS at Iowa and he can probably handle it with limited exposure.

    As for Campana, I think they sometimes get frustrated with his approach at the plate.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Campana strikes out way too much for a guy with plus plus speed and zero power. At the age of 26, if he hasn't fixed that, he probably won't.

    He probably is a candidate to get DFA'ed if we need a 40-man spot.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I can see Barney sliding over and someone else handling 2nd.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree they have flaws but there is only so much you can learn by watching. They should be getting one on one work on the side and then getting a chance to put those lessons to practice in a real game environment. You can limit their exposure, but I do think they need to play.

    As for the relievers, Sveum has said he's also been impressed with Chapman, Dolis, and Cabrera, so I look for them to continue to get looks in the bullpen along with Bowden.

  • Barney must play every day because of the streak.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Agreed. I think that's a given barring maybe a day off to keep him fresh.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to eaton53:

    No question....and if he finishes the season with just that 1 error, I think he has the Gold Glove. If he doesn't, it's questionable......he's earned it IMO, but Brandon Phillips has several advantages: He is the incumbent, he can hit, and plays for a winning team (the last two shouldn't figure in, but you can bet they do). Phillips has also had a good year with the glove, Barney just better IMO.

  • I think playing the young guys to give them a taste of the majors is a good idea. Logan Watkins, Junior Lake and Jae Hoon Ha would be interesting players to watch. They all had solid seasons at AA. Would this interfere with them playing in the fall league? Is there a limit on the number of players they can bring to the expanded rosters?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    The limitation is that September call-ups have to be on the 40-man. Only Junior Lake is on that list, and I don't think he's ready, and probably Cubs don't either.

    Watkins is Rule-5 eligible; he'll probably be added in offseason.

    Ha needs a year at AAA, and there is no rush to add him to 40-man

    Expect a ton of 40-man turnover this offseason, particularly with pitchers.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think putting the 40-man roster is going to very important.
    Also keep in mind that if they draft 2-4, then they need a
    spot for that player. No matter what level a prospect is if
    he as potential then put him on the 40-man roster

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I agree with you managing the 40-man roster is not easy. Also since the Cubs will likely have either the 2nd or 3rd pick they will get a very good talent but I don't think he has to be added to the 40-man roster right away. Almora has potential and is not on the 40-man roster now but I am sure he will get there when he has to be added.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    There are no more MLB contracts for draftees, so the Cubs won't need a roster spot.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't foresee a lot of trouble this year as far as opening spots on the roster for players you want to protect. Honestly there aren't a whole lot of guys that are rule 5 eligible that are locks to be taken if they're left exposed.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    That is true.....the Rule-5 eligible guys we have are not locks to be taken, they are pretty marginal for that. The most interesting include:

    Logan Watkins, Trey McNutt, Staring Peralta, Nick Struck, Christian Villanueva

    I think Villanueva will get added, and maybe Watkins. McNutt and Peralta are raw in different ways. Struck is more polished, but has a low ceiling, and isn't the kind of guy that gets taken.

    I don't see a ton of risk for us here. Even last year's losses, Marwin Gonzalez and Ryan Flaherty, didn't exactly set the league on fire

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think those 5 are the most likely. Villanueva only played A ball, but he's too good a prospect to leave unprotected.

    Guys like Watkins and Struck don't have high ceilings but they can probably contribute off the bench/bullpen now with potential to be starters down the road -- though neither is likely to be a star. But if you can pluck a possible 4th or 5th starter like Struck at no cost, why wouldn't you? He'd be someone I'd look at if I were a rebuilding team that's short on quality arms. I think he gets protected unless he flops in the AZL the way Marcus Hatley did last year. Speaking of Hatley, he's probably on the fence too. Another guy who can touch 96-97 and he has been as high as AAA.

    Peralta has a higher ceiling than Struck but he hasn't even played a full season at low A. That'll be an interesting decision. Teams tend to take chances on guys who can touch 97 and sit in the mid 90s as a starter. Given the dearth of big arms in the system, I don't think the Cubs can afford to leave him unprotected.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    PS: Our minor league pitching depth is thin, but is it me, or do we have a whole bunch of right-handed relievers who throw mid-90s gas, but can't throw strikes or get consistent results? Seems like we have a ton of guys that you can say: "He throws 95-97, but...." McNutt, Hatley, Peralta, Suarez, Cabrera, Dolis....I'm sure I'm missing some!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nice to hear, If they draft Appel then Boras can't
    ask for this as part of the contract.

  • In reply to John57:

    None of them are playing in the fall league, so no interference there.

  • It's dishonest to field a team to lose, even to root for your team to lose imo. Undermines the integrity of the game. If it's to evaluate talent though, I'm all for it, except in the case of off season trade chips like Soriano and Marmol, who I want in there as much as possible to pad their stats to maximize their trade value.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I think you can get away with an occasional benching of your veterans, but I agree that you probably can't do it for the rest of the season.

  • The Cubs should treat each individual game with the same mindset they used for the season as a whole. The primary objective of this season is to do everything possible to build towards a future of consistent success. The fans understand that goal and if they come to the ballpark and recent call ups are getting playing time instead of DeJesus or other vets then they'll understand why. And if that means that we don't play vets against teams in a pennant race then so what.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I think that's a good way to put it.

  • I think it'd be a good idea to try some of the bullpen guys in higher leverage spots. If we trade Marmol this offseason, we're gonna need a closer to replace him and it'd probably benefit us if we didn't have to go out and sign a 4-5Millon dollar guy for 2-3yrs also.

    I don't know if Russell, Bowden or maybe even Cabrera is the guy, but I'd rather they get some time with the season ending versus some poor teams to try and figure this out. I also think teams pretty much have an idea of the type of pitcher Marmol is, and a few saves probably doesn't do much imo. We probably don't benefit with Camp pitching either (he's either going to be on the team next year or he's not).

    Ditto on Sappelt getting some more playing time.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I think Cabrera is the guy long term but I probably wouldn't hand him the job right away if Marmol were to be traded.

    I think these would be good games to try those guys, if not at closer, then at least late in games with the game on the line.

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    In reply to Furiousjeff:

    It's a good question who a future closer would be. Cabrera is the best of a bad bunch of possibilities.

    Russell isn't a closer. He is strictly a LOOGY, and it's a bad idea to expose him to alot of RH hitters. He's kind of fringy as it is, I don't know how he's done even average these last couple years.

    Bowden shows some promise, but doesn't show the overpowering stuff you like in that role. Bowden doesn't really have a great out pitch, he's more of a general bullpen guy.

    Only teams that are contenders, IMO, should spend FA money in the bullpen. That's just me, but I think the bullpen is the last thing you build, the "dessert". You need a base of position players and starting pitching FIRST before you bother. That is my opinion not sure how others feel.

    Given that we're not there yet with that base, I think we'll do what we did last year, and probably have a pretty lousy bullpen full of fringy farm talent, developing arms, and other team's leftovers. Is what it is.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed on all counts. And yeah Bowden's most likely a middle reliever, but he's done a better job than most on this bp staff.

    I just don't wanna see them anoint someone like Cabrera to be the Closer with him not having any experience with high leverage situations. Just because they wind up having a good spring and throw a couple of good innings in the 7th spot. Kind of like what they did with Dolis, when he attempted to take over for Marmol.

    I totally agree with the dessert analogy as well. If we're spending any money yes it should be to the Staff and not the bullpen.

  • I understand the rationale of people wanting a high draft pick, but I believe that the idea of benching the veterans to get it seems unethical to me. For one thing, the fans (home or away) are paying to see the best players your team has. Moreover, I like that the team is playing hard everyday. Setting up an environment of failure for the rest of the year can not help the long term development of the young people on the team. There is a reason that the players don't want 100 losses on their record.

  • In reply to les561:

    No question that the players and on the field staff want to win, and that will likely prevent the Cubs from shutting any more veterans down completely, but finding a little extra playing time for young players auditioning for 2013 jobs wouldn't be frowned upon.

  • Since it is the last week, I believe the Cubs should have celebs come up to bat or pitch an inning. Maybe pick a Cubs fan from the stands before the game. Odds are better I can hit the ball instead of Vitters. If I get on base, Cardenas can take over. I know in my heart I can pitch better than Dolis or Castillo. But lets go back to the Celebs for a moment. There are a couple of local stars out of work now. Toews and Kane. Let them swing the bat or pitch an inning. I even go as far as putting Pamela Anderson in the batters box. Just think of all the players who want to slap her behind when she gets back to the dugout!

    In other news.....Marlins about to fire Ozzie Guillen. How many managers since 2002 has the Marlins had?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'm not a celebrity, but I'd like to take a swing. Actually, I think I can draw a walk from one of the Rockies pitchers.

  • I'm as big of a Cubs fan as there is, but I'd hate to see a couple of meaningless wins in the last two weeks of the season cost them a chance at a possible top of the rotation type pitcher in the draft. It has been tough, but the last month I've been hoping against Cub wins but at the same time rooting for good individual performances from some of the younger guys. Maybe they should shut Wood down for the season too.

  • In reply to Dave S:

    It is tough. It's the least fun part of the season when you're not winning.

    The bad part if you're rooting for that draft pick iis the Cubs can play miserably and still win considering the competition for 6 of the last 9 games.

  • I don't think they should sit veterans to lose, but I would definitely not mind seeing some players get a little more playing time. Rekar over Clevenger for instance. Vitters getting a couple more starts over Valbuena. Jackson playing center and Sappelt in right sounds good (or even the reverse as John mentioned in his article to see how Sappelt handles center.)

    Soriano should play both out of respect for him and his career and also to build a little extra value (I'm sure teams already know what kind of player he is... but there should be no lingering questions about his health to hinder any deals or value we get back.) though I also wouldn't be opposed to sitting him 2-3 games.

    It's time to evaluate and develop some of these guys and if some extra loses come with it, c'est la vie.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think that's how it will probably go down the stretch. They won't be shy about playing rookies, but we'll see the vets in there too more often than not.

  • I'm beginning to wonder if some of you broke into John's Scotch, bringing Guinness and Gielgud into the conversation? You gotta love this site! I think you need to find a happy medium. You need to play the young guys, but some of the vets like Soriano have to play. Need to give him a chance to win the RBI title. Not like he's blocking anyone really? He's are starting leftfielder next year. His trade value come next year st the deadline anyway? I would like to see more of Jackson though, and Chapman in the bullpen!

  • In reply to ddbennett34:

    Ha! Haven't had any scotch...well, not yet anyway ;)

    I do think a happy medium is what will happen. We'll see a lot of these kids play but we won't see the vets sit out more than a couple of games.

  • 3rd pick in the draft or 5 more wins you pick

  • Wow...looking at the Rockies and Astros lineups tonight, it's just pathetic.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That lineup somehow pulls off a win. We're all tied up going into the biggest series of the Cubs season.

  • I'm a dynasty guy, so I love what Theo & Co. have done this season and find it's perfectly consistent to root for the team to lose in these conditions. At the same time, I'm rooting for young players to improve in the areas in which they need to develop. Like emartinezjr said, 3rd pick in the draft or 5 more wins.

    As far as sitting vets, I follow the same philosophy: whatever best serves the team's ability to compete for a world series down the road. If that means getting Soriano chances to reach 35 HRs to open some eyes at the winter meetings, so be it. If it means sitting Valbuena to play Vitters, fine. You never know who is going to have a great game, so sitting a guy for a hungry youngster doesn't necessarily improve your chances of losing all that much, if at all. Over the course of a season it does, but these last 9 games are too small of a sample to really have a predictable impact on won/loss record.

  • As long as Rizzo, Barney, & Castro are in the line-up - I don't see how anyone can accuse us of "tanking".

    Sori's playing time will do nothing to benefit his trade value or the teams position next year or subsequent years after. His value is as high as it will ever be (barring a desperation knee-jerk move to replace an injured player). Even though he's said all the right things this year, I'm sure that RBI title means the world to him.

  • I say no, not to bench players. Yes, it could land the Cubs the 2nd pick in the draft but for what?? The way the Astros and now the Rockies are tanking the season is unsavory and pathetic.

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