Hey folks, caught some sort of malevolent flu bug last night. Fever went as high as 101 which made me feel like a disembodied head floating around. But (in Monty Python voice) "I'm getting better!", but not quite there yet, so for now I'll chime in with a few Cubs related notes around the league...
- The Chicago Cubs have announced that they have hired former Giants, Brewers, and Tigers slugger Rob Deer as an assistant hitting coach (h/t quedub). Deer was a minor league hitting coach for the Padres for several years before becoming the team's minor league hitting coordinator. Deer was known for three things as a player: HRs, walks, strikeouts. The Cubs need help in 2 of those 3 categories, but perhaps Deer can help with the 3rd. Deer struck out in 31.2% of his plate appearances in his career, but did manage to cut them down in to the high 27-29% range during his peak years. If he can Brett Jackson to do the same thing, that alone would be worth the hire. But Deer is a guy who knows that his style of hitting isn't ideal and it's not the way he teaches. As he said in an interview on milwaukee.com,
I don't teach the way I hit. I understand how to hit .300. I know what it takes. We tell the guys to be selectively aggressive. We want that to be their approach. We tell them 'Be patiently aggressive.' That's our motto. What does it mean? If you get a good pitch to hit and you take it, that's your fault. We don't ever want to take aggressiveness away. But, we don't want to swing at bad pitches, either."
Similarly he told Baseball Prospectus the following,
“I don’t teach the way I hit. I'm a big guy who understands the importance of using the whole field and wants hitters to understand a two-strike approach. Those are the things I implemented in my hitting system.
“I tried to teach (the) things I couldn’t do. I didn’t have a two-strike approach when I played, so I try to make that an important part of teaching. I didn’t hit the ball the other way, so I try to make them more complete hitters by having them do something I couldn’t do.”
- For Rule 5 fans, Baseball America has a preview of the draft by naming some players who they believe have a chance of getting picked. The list includes some from our own preview, including RHP Josh Fields and OF/1B Mark Krauss. The list has a few too many 1Bs for my taste, at least from a Cubs-centric view, but there are some intriguing, but very raw arms such as LHPs Braulio Laria (Rays), whom they said has the best pure upside in the draft and Jon Keck (Royals). RHPs include Fields, Ryan Chaffee (Angels), Juan Sosa (Phillies), and Randy Henry (Rangers). Coty Woods is another pitcher who made the list. He doesn't throw as hard but is more polished, and like Fields, is more likely to help right away.
- Dave Cameron wrote an article for ESPN (insider only) and picks Cubs Den favorite RHP Rick Porcello as a bounce back candidate because of an increase in velocity, strikeouts, and groundballs -- but only if he has a good infield defense behind him and that will probably have to happen on another team. If that sounds familiar, it's because we wrote about it here. Many GMs think he'll be traded this offseason and as we talked about as early as last December during the Matt Garza rumors, the Cubs would be interested.
- One SP alternative may be Michael Bowden, who has been starting in winter league ball with some mixed results (1-2, 4.70 ERA, 5 walks, 9 Ks in 15.1 IP). Bowden doesn't really have what you'd call a reliable out-pitch and he has average command, so he'd profile more as a bottom of the rotation starter, but he's young and cost-controlled so he could add value even in that role. There's no harm in trying. At worst you return him to the bullpen.
- According to Buster Olney via twitter, it turns out that is Dan Haren's hip, not his back, that is causing concerns with teams around the league, including the Cubs, who backed out of a deal for Carlos Marmol.
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