Cubs Notes: Soriano, Porcello, new minor league coaches, Olt

Cubs Notes: Soriano, Porcello, new minor league coaches, Olt
Mark Johnson

Just a few mid-afternoon notes to catch you up on some of the minor Cubs related news around MLB.  It appears that both players and free agents are starting to get a feel for the market and we're starting to see a bit more steady activity.

Hopefully that translates to a Cubs move soon...

  • The Cubs also offered Alfonso Soriano to the Astros as a DH, according to Danny Knobler of CBS.  That deal doesn't make sense to me on any level.  1) Why would Soriano leave Chicago to go to a team that's even further behind in its rebuilding process? 2) Why would a rebuilding team like the Astros give up what the Cubs want, which is long term assets for a 2 year DH?  3) the Astros would need the Cubs to pick up the entire salary to make it work financially for them and 4) The Astros are not building for the present and are certainly not going to bend over backwards to take on a win-now player.
  • As we've known for some time now, teams have shown interest in Tigers starter Rick Porcello but he's going to be the Tigers 4th starter and they need him.  The Tigers are not making him available at this point.  That means one of two things.  Either they are being forthright here or they are telling everyone they have no intention on selling low.  My guess is the latter.  In either case, that makes it a problematic situation for the Cubs.  They'd have to off the win-now Tigers an upgrade over Porcello and the only person they can do that with is Matt Garza, but only if there is certainty about his health --which there is, of course.   Carlos Marmol is not enough to pry Porcello loose.  If he were, the Cubs would have gladly done it a long time ago.  The situation could clear up once Anibal Sanchez signs somewhere.
  • The Cubs have made some minor league coaching changes.  It's interesting that the Cubs continue to move development types into coaching positions.  The latest is to move minor league catching coordinator Marty Pevey into the AAA managerial position.  After seeing how ill-prepared both Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were to play in the bigs, it's a smart move to put an instructor at that level that can prepare prospects better for that last jump. Pevey will also get a chance to work with Steve Clevenger, who had some struggles at the big league level, causing the Cubs to acquire Dioner Navarro as a backup.  Another interesting move is that Mark Johnson will accompany his talented Boise squad to Kane County.  Makes for some nice continuity and emphasizes how much the Cubs value that group of prospects.  The Cubs also made multilple changes to their player development team.  See all the changes here.
  • Two other 3Bs are off the market.  Kevin Youkilis has signed with the Yankees and Jack Hannahan has signed with the Reds.  The Cubs didn't appear to have much, if any, interest in either player.
  • It's a good thing the Cubs went for their preferred low risk, high reward pitchers (Scott Baker, Scott Feldman) early because it appears two big market teams, the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are now trying the same strategy.
  • David Kaplan said the Cubs have had interest in 3B Mike Olt and may have already dealt Matt Garza for him if he hadn't gotten hurt.  Any rekindling of that type of deal won't happen until Garza proves he is healthy.  It's a good piece by Kaplan if you're interested in potentiall offseason activity.  It seems to me that this is going to be a long offseason for Cubs fans, one in which we'll have to be patient until the market dries up and their top trade chip, Matt Garza, proves himself to be healthy.  Kaplan also talks about adding a pitcher this offseason though they won't pay big for one unless he is a significant upgrade.

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  • Yankees, Orioles & Rays are the only Buyers for Soriano......

    Can't see any big trades for Cubs until July.....

    Forget about Porcello......not going to happen.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Soriano is going to be so hard to move. It will be a minor miracle if we can get anything valuable in the future for him.

    1) Older
    2) 10-5
    3) Injury issues
    4) Price

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    And this is based on what? Your whims?

    You're constantly dismissing that which isn't your own idea, but we base our stuff here on more than just whim and fancy. We base it on quality info and sources.

    I don't write about Soriano to the Rays for example, because there is nothing to suggest that's remotely possible.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It would seem to me the Rays just took care of the power-hitting outfielder issue.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    bah, that was supposed to be in reply to CubsTalk.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And Myers fits their MO so much better. I do think he'll struggle for a while, but Rays are most patient than most teams.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    In many ways, this trade was the best thing that could have happened to him. He's going to a team that fully commits to young players and has shown an incredible ability to develop them.

    (Funny thought experiment -- imagine Dusty Baker as Reds manager.)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well said.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just a thought....is Texas an opton for Soriano (perhaps even with a combo Garza trade)? They have openings at the DH/SP positions, they have a VERY DEEP farm system (including a currently blocked ready to go 3B prospect in Olt), they are in win now mode, and with two trades within the last 4 months the Cubs/Rangers have proven history

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John I feel what you are saying. If we can all hold on for a little longer we are about to go through something out of this world. The FO is doing what has to be done. By 2015 the Cubs are going to fall into the can't miss TV category. By 2016 they will turn our fine city upside down.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I have to disagree. With the improved defense and the amount of cheese the Cubs are talking about picking up. There are a lot more suitors for Soriano then we think. Just 5 potential things slowing them down

    1. Hamilton
    2. Swisher
    3. Cody Ross
    4. Soriano's NTC
    5. Protection for Rizzo/RH Pop

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I think you nailed it Jim. Of course, it makes no sense for the Cubs to give Sori away. It only makes sense if they get some potential long term value.

  • I gotta agee with the lack of making sense from the Astros perspective of trading any young prospects for Soriano - DH or otherwise. That trade would be just silly even IF the Cubs ate his entire salary for he next two years.

    Not sold on Porcello anyway as being better alternatives to what we have on staff now anyway - other than the big healthy "If" factors around Garza and Baker. I'm betting Porcello stays put to start the season in Detroit.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Imagine if the Cubs were talking about such a trade for a player like Soriano. We'd all be scratching our heads as to why unless it didn't cost a future asset.

    Prying Porcello loose in the short term will be difficult but I think eventually they'll trade him. If not to the Cubs, then somehwere. Could be later, could be next offseason.

    There are many teams interested in Porcello here. Don't underestmate his ability based on things like ERA.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I can't remember who was quoted, but it was on MLBTR today that Porcello may well be a non-tender candidate this time next year.
    Obviously said by someone who isn't high on his value.

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    Great writeup as usual.

    Porcello doesn't have the command needed to pitch the way he does. Even if they threw in something extra for a Garza package, I hope the boy genius is smart enough to say NO!.

    Unless Garza us damaged to the point he will not be the same pitcher he was, he needs to be part of this teams future. God forbid, shark takes a step back and Baker takes more time to mend then expected or is more rusty then anticipated.

    We need Matt Garza for us real die hard fans to be able to dream after a fast start (16 or so wins April :) that this team could make a run like the 2012 A's/O's

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I'm not suggesting the Cubs trade Garza for Porcello, only that that's about the only player that may interest the Tigers, who are trying to win now. Marmol isn't enough, Garza is too much -- unless the Cubs feel like they can't re-sign him. In that case, a few cost controlled years of a 24 year old pitcher with good stuff and upside is more valuable than one year of a pitcher -- especially if you don't expect to compete in that year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Of course I know you didn't imply a 1 for 1 trade hence why I used the word package.

    I just think Garza is 1b/2 starter and at worse a 3, while IMO, Porcello is a 4/5 and at worst AAAA. For example if they didn't want to trade Garza in a package to Arizona for Bauer or vice a versa or to some other team.( I have no inside knowledge)

    Yes, a young pitcher is always going to be a risk esp for a proven veteran, but IMO ( and so far Jedsteins) you don't trade him unless your getting a prospect w #1 potential and we all know that's not Porcello ( Even if they added Crosby and something else)

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I disagree on Porcello, though. He's had enough success in the majors where labeling him AAAA is not even among the realm of possibilities. He has #3 starters stuff and command, but the results just haven't shown it. But you really have to question a groundball pitchers results with one of the worst IFs in baseball behind him. The peripherals, however, are pretty encouraging. If I have one concern about Porcello, it's the early workload he's taken on as a player who went from A ball to the majors. The stuff, command, and makeup are all mid-rotation quality.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The Tigers were a horrible IF last year. Your 100% right on that.

    2011 they were middle of the pack

    2010 they were a little better and were actually 3rd in the AL in DP's ( to some the DP is the pitchers best friend)

    2009 they were better then 2011

    His Whip has gone up every year, but so has his K-rate.

    Sometimes the problems pitchers have can actually be contributed to lack of missing bats/missing the spots/scouting reports.

    Even if it all all clicks (big if), he becomes a mid-rotation type guy. Since we are talking about a large market team (yes the cubs are still a big market team contrary to what we have seen lately) the smarter move is to pay the cash and sign the 1a /2 front line starter over the young inferior cost controlled pitcher + some more spare parts.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't believe I labeled him a AAAA pitcher. I meant if he regresses a little at worst hes a AAAA pitcher.

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    I'm glad to see them making more changes with the developmental staff. They must think highly of Mark Johnson to keep him with that group, and they must think highly of Pevey as well.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Those guys are in pretty important positions. Lots of responsibility for each.

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    Mark Johnson was a Hendry hire, I believe. (It looks like he was hired prior to the 2011 season, but that's Wikipedia.) It's pretty unusual for Theo and Jed to have that much faith in a Hendry guy. One explanation is that he's so good at his job any reasonable baseball person sees it, too. Nice asset to have, if true.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Which Mark Johson are we talking about? There were two, and their careers overlapped. One was and OF/1B and played for the Pirates, Angels and Mets between 1995 and 2002. The other was a CA who played for the White Sox, A's, Brewers and Cardinals between 1998 and 2008.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    The latter is, I believe, the new Cougars manager.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    The catcher.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They have faith in quite a few. Randy Bush being a prime example and they've kept Wilken around and have allowed him a key role in the decision making.

    I think Hendry really understood the scouting part of the game quite well. He just wasn't organized enough to run a team from top to bottom. He's playing a big role for the Yankees now, but not one where he has to worry about structure and organization.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree John.

    Hendry wasn't as big of a donkey in a suit as many of the Cubs fans believe.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    He had some strong points. Good "old school" scout and great people person, but just didn't embrace what new technology and new information could do for him, especially when it came to organizing thata information and getting a more complete view of a player.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed! When it came to the overall scheme of things, he wasn't up to the task. The Cubs didn't necessarily draft poorly during his tenure. In fact, they often drafted well according to those who covered such things. Hendry's great failure was in player development. It would seem that prospects were allowed to develop on their own without any sort of guidance. His failings at the major league level were just as obvious. He was a terrible negotiator. He often telegraphed moves by leaking them to the press. Opposing GM's and agents pay attention to that kind of stuff.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Exactly. There was no consistent plan for player development. Just draft some talented high risk guys and hope they figured things out. Trouble is high risk guys is where you need the most coaching and structure for the guy to have a chance.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That 2002 draft had the potential to be something special, and I can't help but think, if this front office had drafted those pitchers, some of them might have turned out.

    Who knows how Corey Patterson might have turned out had he been drafted by an organization that had a clue how to develop him?

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I've sometimes wondered if Corey Patterson's "bad attitude" was him extending the middle finger to what was considered development at the time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You probably know this better than I do. What does Randy Bush do?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's a good old school type scout but has better organizational skills. Did a lot of the detail, behind the scenes, type of stuff that this organization values. Hendry would have been lost without Bush and for this new org, he fits in while giving them a similar talent evaluation perspective that Hendry did, not to mention first hand knowledge on the current organization.

    His personality is more adaptable and I could still see Bush being a GM someday after he learns some of the new school way of doing things. He has a fair amount of respect around the league.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    special assistant to the GM, whatever that means.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Unlike many new managements, this administration has NOT gone out of their way to get rid of everyone from the old administration. They kept, and extended, Castro. They gave Samardzija a chance that even the old administration didn't give him. They seem intent upon salvaging Brett Jackson, and certainly don't seem unhappy with
    Barney or James Russell. They seem to be keeping the players that play the game the way they want, and getting rid only of players who do not do that, or who are short term assets that will be lost anyway.

    It seems the same with coaches and managers, Those that are agreeable to the "new way" of doing things are being rewarded, such as Mark Johnson and Carmelo Martinez, and those that are not, are replaced. I have not seen ANY indication that anyone had been replaced merely because he was drafted, signed or hired by Hendry.

  • It is very important to have managers and coaches with the
    right skills to help develop your prospects the best of their
    abilities

  • I have closely followed Cubs minor league baseball since 1968, and the word around the league has always been that the Cubs did a very good job of drafting (with a few glaring failures, as every team has) but their development staff was generally considered to be a joke.

  • John, what is your take on why Soriano has generated so little interest. By all accounts he is a good teammate. Is it still salary albeit at a reduced amount, his age, or just the fact he is the poster boy for a bad contract? Seeing Ortiz and Youkilis get the deals they have as their injuries continue to build, you have to think a player that can get you 30 HR and 100 RBI is worth the flyer for a year or two, even at age 37, assuming the Cubs pick up the majority of his salary and comes at a price of 5M per year for the next team.

  • In reply to cubsfan:

    A couple of things. One is that old perceptions die hard. There was a lot of misconception about what kind of player and person Soriano was and is. Teams on the outside don't see the whole story. I think the image in Soriano has turned around a lot in Chicago but it takes a while for the rest of the league to catch on.

    The second thing is that he's 37 with bad knees. Any team that acquires him knows that he has the potential to regress and regress quickly. The Cubs are willing to assume a lot of the financial risk -- and I think if Soriano was out there asking for 2 years and $10M, he'd have been signed long ago and it would have been hailed as a bargain, but it might be the second part of the equation,giving up something of value, that is holding teams back a little.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Great points, but the price is right for anyone who misses out on the Hamilton/Swisher sweepstakes and if they don't want to overpay Cody Ross.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're right on about perception. That's what Sveum spoke about soon after taking over the club. He pointed out that from across the diamond, he never realized what Sori brought to the table, including work ethic, leadership, and teammate. Unfortunately, the other 29 GM's haven't had that insight and still hold onto the wrong perceptions.
    Proof of that is in the comments from the Phillies side expressing real concern about Soriano's ability to play LF. They only saw him 6 or 7 games and "old perceptions die hard".
    What do you think if the Cubs added a throw-in to encourage this deal? Russel? Campana? and paid less salary.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    I think Russell and Soriano is too much. Phillies would probably take that deal, though. Campana doesnt add much value.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's definitely perception. I wouldn't have believed how much improved Soriano's defense was last year if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Maybe Theo and Jed need to send out a "best of Alfonso Soriano 2012" dvd to the rest of the gm's sort of like the way Scott Boras prepares marketing portfolios for his top free agents.

  • Cubs claimed Sandy Rosario from Red Sox...Theo and Jed must have known this guy.

  • How long have the Cubs talked about trading Soriano?.....two or three years?..........The guy who will replace Soriano will be Soler......meantime, sit back and watch Soriano finish his career in Chicago......it is not about the money, more of his age and knees.......

    Another fact, which a is a good one.....other teams are noticing that the Cubs are building up their farm system with Studs.....so when other teams talk about trades, they will ask for our Prospects before players like Soriano.......

    Soriano was brought here by Sam Zell to sell the Cubs off......Theo will just have to tell Soriano and his agent that his playoff days are behind him......his last chance might have been turning down a trade to San Fran last July.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Soler is the Cubs top RF prospect. If anyone in the Cubs system is likely to take over LF long term, the first in line is Brett Jackson. If he can hit, he will likely play CF until Almora is ever ready. Soler's arm is better and more suited for right.

    I'm not as pessimistic on the Cubs ability to move Soriano but is a tough fit.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You know these "facts" how?

  • Keppinger 3 years/12m, Youkillis 1yr/12m. That Ian Stewart deal is looking better than it already did.

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    In reply to Carne Harris:

    Assuming he produces about 20x more then he did last year.

    If he doesn't, then he needs to start making it rain in all cat houses in the Chicagoland area, or he needs to find some other creative way to give back to the community.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    If Stewart can produce .....that is what will make his contract look better.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    But even if he doesn't produce, he gets cut. Remember the front office can drop that contract if Stewart doesn't make the team. I'd rather be in that situation than betting that Youk can stay on his feet all year or that Keppinger is worth the years/money.

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    In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Your a 100% right if it's your money that these players are going to be collecting.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    You don't have to wait for him to produce to see it's a good gamble in a weak 3b market for relatively-low non-guaranteed money. You can make that call right now, right where you stand, even with those shoes on.

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    Let's all hope and pray Ian Stewart can come back. He only needs to hit .260 to .280 and with his defense I would like to see him playing 3rd base for years to come. We have alot of studs in the minors and Theo&Co. will get us more of the same. I myself have waited for a long time and I can surely wait a few more. In a few years this team will be must see TV. I can't wait.

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