Cubs Notes: Cubs hire Deer, Rule 5, Porcello, Bowden, Haren

Cubs Notes: Cubs hire Deer, Rule 5, Porcello, Bowden, Haren

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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  • So a few days ago, Cardinals star David Freese runs into a tree after swerving to avoid a deer. And today, the Cubs hire a Deer.
    Coincidence?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I think not!

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    Did the Baseball America preview include any current Cub farmhands on their list? Anyone we might lose? It sounds like Struck isn't on there, which means leaving him exposed was maybe a good idea.

    Converting Bowden to starter would be tougher, though, because he is out of options, so he would have to start at the ML level right away.
    Also, the Iowa rotation appears set at this point (Raley, Rusin, Struck, Vizcaino, Cabrera, maybe Coleman)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    No Cubs farmhands but it was just part 1. Will update when part 2 comes out. These guys were mostly higher upside guys who were pretty raw. Maybe the next list will include more polished players.

    As for Bowden probably why he's getting stretched now and possibly in the spring. It's worth a look, but it doesn't excite me as Samardzija did last year or Cabrera this year.

  • Deer's hittiig approach sounds similar to what you recommended on this site.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    It is very similar. I don't like the idea of taking a hitter's aggressiveness away and turning them into walk machines. Be aggressive in the strike zone. These are MLB pitchers and you don't get a lot of great pitches to hit, so you have to take that swing when you can.

    That said, you have to be patient and wait for that particular pitch. The Cubs still do pitchers too many favors by swinging at not just pitches outside of the strike zone, but even strikes that are located well and difficult to drive.

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    RE: Deer, let's hope he dishes out advice better than takes it, because his approach in the majors was terrible; he led the league in strikeouts 4 times, including that year he batted .179 (and got over 500 PAs; you don't see that often). Not a guy we want to have the youngins emulate!

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He did walk a lot, though. Just had holes in his swing. I think when he said he "knows how to hit .300" he's telling the truth, he just didn't have the swing, contact skills, or hand/eye coordination to pull it off.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I beg to differ. 4.14 P/PA 12.7 Career BB% seems like a pretty solid plate approach to me. Just because he didn't make average doesn't infer that he didn't know what he was doing at the plate. We should be so lucky to have a Cubs player come close to taking as many pitches in an at-bat. (DeJesus closest one to that at 4.09)

    Then again, we also don't know if he can even teach his plate approach skills to players.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    He did spend a lot of time with the Padres, which is a good sign. He certainly knows what he wants to teach.

  • Rick Porcello is my first choice as far as trades go, Im with you john cabrera has me very excited about his potential as a starter.Can you imagine if he pans out as a starter ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    Has a chance to have at least one plus pitch and maybe two. With an average change and average command, you're looking at 3rd starter, maybe even a #2. We'll see. His first stint as a starter didn't go well in the minors, but he's a much better pitcher now.

  • I like Porcello very much myself as a possible return in a Garza deal.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    i think garza barney marmol and soriano (plus cash, all of sori's deal and most of marmols) for porcello and castellanos and maybe another pitching prospect.

    from the cubs point of view, we get our 3b/lf of the future in castellanos and porcello to fit into the rotation, present and hopefully future. our part, like most deals we make, is all about the future. our future infield could consist of castellanos at 3b, castro and baez at 2nd and ss and rizzo at 1st.

    the tigers deal is all about winning in the next two seasons. they get garza to make an already good rotation elite and barney to shore up second base. i think to get castellanos we'd have to eat pretty much everything on sorianos deal, but itd definitely be worth it. the tigers can afford sorianos defense because jackson in center and hunter in right give them 2/3 of an above average outfield. barney also adds better defense to a pretty shakey infield.

    i think the real value in this deal comes in the fact that no one is going to want to play this team,
    their power rotation:
    verlander garza scherzer fister crosby
    and their power lineup:
    jackson cf
    avila c
    cabrera 3b
    fielder 1b
    martinez dh
    hunter rf
    soriano lf
    peralta ss
    barney 2b

    would be a lot to overcome especially in a 7 game series.

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    However, Detroit still has Omar Infante at 2b w/1 yr $4 mil left. They could of course trade him to the Cubs for the second time, we could always flip him later.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I heard in a Garza deal last year. I haven't heard anything specific this year but I have to think the Cubs are still interested in Porcello. Makes too much sense, especially if he's a buy low guy or somewhere they can pick up some cost control.

  • Another SP candidate is Bret Myers who wants to return to starting. He should be cheap, which fits the club's agenda.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He's the kind of guy looking for opportunity. Cubs could certainly give him that. Only question is his makeup.

  • I just saw on MLBTR that the Red Sox outrighted Ivan DeJesus Jr. As I recall, he has a good glove and a light bat. Could he be an inexpensive IF backup for the Cubs?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I saw that too. Maybe. Cubs can't claim him on waivers unless they let go of a player, so they have to hope he clears than declares free agency. If so, would like to have him on a minor league deal.

  • please lets discuss garza for wil myers. maybe even take bruce chen to ease the salary difference. as well as give us a reliable starter with a possible midseason flip. i think the royals might like garza more then lester which seems like a real possibility.

  • In reply to cubs and red sox:

    Their best prospect for a recently injured starter with one year of cost control? I don't think KC would do it even if the Cubs paid Garza's salary. Lester and Shields give them similar production for more control, there is more value...and even then I think they're making a bad trade.

  • Who is the "face" of the Cubs and their future?
    Who are the players that Theo & Jed are building around?
    Castro?
    Rizzo?
    Samardziija?

    or is it Stanton?

    What is the plan?
    Isn't it to build this team to contention?
    Isn't pitching the #1 problem on this team?

    We have no third basemen, we have people who want to trade Castro & Barney. Who replace them? Is Watkins ready for second?

    Has Rizzo really arrive as our future first baseman? Or is Vogelbach "Plan B"?

    Are we planning 2015 or 2019 to return to the playoffs? If the Cubs trade combination of players like Castro, Almora or Soler for a hitter we don't need, it might be 2019.

    Does Manny Trillo have a son named Manny Trillo Jr. who the Cubs can pick up on waiver line? Team up with Ivan Jr...........

    Lets hope there are no Paul Reuschel Jr out there who wants throw for the Cubs. We are trying to get rid of Joe Coleman's kid.

    Will Rob Deer get Vitters to lose that "Deer in the headlight" look after getting called out on the third strike?

    If you feel I create problems in your life, please place your tongue on a Clark & Addison light pole tonight.....some people say it takes like chicken.

    It is cold out there tonight.

    .

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