Some great discussion yesterday on prospects and that theme is going to continue today with a couple more articles, one of which will be Keith Law's top 100, which will be out later today..
There are a few news and notes to catch up on, though, so we'll start the day with those.
- Pitchers and catchers don't officially report for another 5 days, but there's already great news from Arizona. Matt Garza threw a pain-free bullpen session. He threw 30 pitches in front of GM Jed Hoyer and pitching coach Chris Bosio. “Matty looks like he is in great shape,” Bosio said. “It looks like he worked hard in the offseason. His legs are in great shape and I believe he is ahead of where he was last year when he reported. He has been on his program all winter and has not had any hiccups at all. The ball was coming out of his hand great today. He should be pretty happy and it was good to see him pitch with no concerns at this point.” Per Bruce Levine's article, Bosio said the plan will have Garza throwing every other day at the beginning of camp . After two or three bullpens the starting pitchers throw live batting practice every fourth day with a side session in between. Garza and the rest of the Cubs’ rotation pitchers will then pitch every five days when the Cactus League season begins Feb. 23. It seems Garza is very much on target to start the season healthy and in the starting rotation.
- Mattthew Leach of MLB.com considers the Cubs signing of RHP Scott Feldman as one of the 5 best bargains of this offseason. Leach acknowledges that pitchers like Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster, and Edwin Jackson are better pitchers, but says "Are they all much, much better than Feldman, so much so as to justify the difference in salary? No way." Leach cites Feldman's ERA+ of 96 as one reason. He won't be a star but he'll give the team solid innings -- and perhaps bring back a prospect or two at the deadline.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America talks a bit about Josh Vitters in his latest chat. There's still some mixed opinion in the Cubs organization as to how good Vitters will be, but his supporters think he'll be able to play 3B and hit .275 with 20 HRs. Callis, however, considers that more of a ceiling and has doubts whether he can be an everyday 3B because of concerns about his defense. If he has to move to LF or 1B, it puts even more burden on his bat. He also speculates he may end up being a platoon player.
- Oneri Fleita is back in baseball as a consultant with the Cincinnati Reds. The hire of Jason McLeod marginalized Fleita's role in the organization. Theo Epstein tried to find a reduced role for him, according to Patrick Mooney, but was unable to find a fit. Fleita took the dismissal well. "“(Theo) could have put me in a cubicle and let me rot,” Fleita joked. “You get the keys to the buildJiing, you have to make tough decisions. In this business, we all know change is inevitable (and) you just understand it. You respect it.”
- Ben Badler writes an interesting piece on the challenges of scouting young international players.
- Some quick thoughts on the Astros-Athletics deal which saw SS Jed Lowrie and RHRP Fernando Rodriguez go to the A's for prospects RHP Brad Peacock, 1B Chris Carter, and C Max Stassi. Peacock is the highest ceiling prospect in the group with some thinking he could be as much as a #3 starter if he makes some adjustments after struggling mightily in AAA last season. Chris Carter was once considered a top prospect but has struggled to make contact. Still, he offers a cheap, cost-controlled three outcome (HRs, Ks, BBs) style of DH. Max Stassi is a solid catching prospect as both a hitter and a receiver, but injuries have slowed his development and he remains at the Class A level. Some talent there but he's at least a couple of years away. It's a good return for the Astros considering that they've pretty much thrown 2013 out the window anyway. They're trying to add talent they can use 3-5 years down the road. On the flipside, I do this trade if I'm the Athletics every time. They expect to contend and Lowrie gives them a solid average player at a premium position -- one in which they had a huge hole, so it's a big upgrade for them. They had soured on Carter and have a young staff that would have been tough for Peacock to crack if everyone were to stay healthy. In the end, its a good deal for both sides as both teams got what they needed given the states of their respective organizations. The A's traded players/prospects from depth while Houston is in a position to give 2 of those players significant roles right off the bat. I particularly like the fact that they got a couple of ready or near ready MLB players in this deal. The Astros traded away a solid player, but when you're looking at another 100 loss season either way, does it really matter? Lowrie doesn't figure to be around whenever the Astros start winning.
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