Cubs Preview and Thread: Castro, Baez and the Wrigley debate continues

Cubs Preview and Thread: Castro, Baez and the Wrigley debate continues
Happy Birthday Starlin Castro!!

Happy Birthday to Starlin Castro, who turns the ripe old age of 23 today, an age where many ballplayers are still prospects.

News and Notes...

UPDATES (2:45):

  • The Yankees continue to prefer rummaging for lesser players than giving up something to get better quality.  After picking up Brennan Boesch off the scrap heap, rumor is that they are after Vernon Wells.  The Angels are likely to ask for a very small amount of salary relief and a fringe prospect.
  • Scott Baker will miss half the season and won't even start throwing again for a month.  This assures he'll be put on the 60 day DL, which opens up another roster spot for the cubs.
  • Rafael Dolis was optioned to AAA Iowa.  He never really had a shot to make the team, so it's surprising he's outlasted many other candidates.  The guess here is that he was doing some work with Chris Bosio or someone else from the big league staff.  He has made some tweaks to his delivery.

From earlier...

  • Patrick of CSN wrote an excellent piece on Javier Baez.  Sr. VP of Scouting Jason McLeod and Farm Director Brandon Hyde have been impressed with his progress yet they know he has some work to do.  Hitting coach James Rowson talks about working with him as well.
  • Dave Sappelt is out of today's game after getting struck by a ball yesterday while standing at 3B.  He's okay, just a big lump on his neck, but will be held out a couple of days.
  • Dave Kaplan tweets, "If Tom Tunney really wants to play this ridiculous game of hardball at some point Tom Ricketts has to call his bluff and look around area." I agree they need to step it up and at least look.  For more check out the @thekapman twitter feed, as he debates/discusses the subject with ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg and others.

Today's Lineup

1. Lillibridge - CF
2. Navarro - DH
3. Rizzo -1B
4. Soriano - LF
5. Castro - SS
6. Hairston -RF
7. Castillo -C
8. Barney -2B
9. Gonzalez - 3B
Chris Rusin - SP
What to watch for...
  • Felzz: Chris Rusin- Just because he's going to Iowa doesn't mean he cant make a statement to Dale and Chris Bosio. Rusin has had a great Spring. Here's hoping he ends it on a great note.Let's see if Cub pitchers can avoid the big inning today.  It was a problem last year. Seems to have survived the winter and has been prominent in the spring.
  • Tom: Brent Lillibridge is in CF today and it will be interesting to see how well he handles it defensively.  Lillibridge will likely see he most time at 3B, but he made the team on the strength of his versatility.  This is yet another way he can help, by filling in as a 6th OFer when needed.
  • John: Three of my favorite sleeper prospects are available on the bench today: Reggie Golden, Trey Martin, and Stephen Bruno.  I'd love to see Golden and Bruno get an AB for different reasons.  Golden is built like an NFL fullback and has the strength to match.  He takes a huge cut and can hit the ball a long, long way.  Bruno is more of a pure hitter.  He consistently squares up the ball and hits line drives.  Trey Martin is interesting for his defense.  Hoping to see him in CF and gets a chance to track down a ball in the gap.


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  • Nice article, John. I always enjoy them

  • In reply to Gerald:

    Thank you Gerald.

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    I want to see the Cubs make a serious look at what else is available outside of Wrigley. The team is bigger than the field they play. If they move there will be a lot who bitch and moan about it to begin with. But will still follow the team whether they stay or not. I want them to tell Tunney to shove the the rooftop clubs he is protecting. See how well they do when the Cubs are no longer there to be leeched off of.

  • In reply to Brian Katowitz:

    I agree that the Cubs should look seriously. Right now he's probably worried about keeping his job. If he gives in to the Cubs, the backlash is he risks getting ousted out of office. However, if he actually loses the Cubs to another area, he's really done. The Cubs need to make the threat big enough to make him worry about the latter.

  • Are both Golden and Martin good prospects, if so why

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    They're both talented but high risk prospects. Calling them "good" is a stretch. I'd call them "interesting". Golden needs to stay healthy and refine his game -- but his raw talent is tremendous. Martin is a good defender, but needs to work on his approach and maybe shorten his swing a little.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    How has Golden looked so far this spring? Have you heard anything about his performance so far?

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Haven't heard much on him this spring, but expect to see him at Kane this year.

  • I actually like that lineup from 3-9. 1+2 not so much. If they could get a couple more hitters they could grind out some wins this year.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Interesting that Castro is back in the 5th spot. He was aggressive again yesterday and I can't help but wonder if the Cubs are sending him a message.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Castro always says all the right things about changing his focus, approach etc etc but the cubs continually seem to have to send him messages? If he doesn't start showing it on the field I think you have to look at trading him. He's already more or less given up on beiing a base stealing threat, don't want to have things slipping the wrong way or wind up with a soriano situation again.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    He just turned 23 years old. They are not going to trade him. Cut the kid some slack.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    You obviously haven't seen how hard Castro works at his game. And he is the best player on the team, is signed at a rate that is good for an average SS when he's a well above average player, and will almost certainly get better because of his youth (he hasn't come close to reaching his peak years yet!) and work ethic Yet you want to trade him now? Sorry, but that just doesn't make any sense at all.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It has to be tough to change your approach when at such a young age, he shows such great plate coverage and already has two 200 hit seasons.

    Its almost contradictory.
    Be more patient. Take more walks, and while you're at it, don't forget to get 200 hits.

    I'm certainly not complaining, and I'm also not excusing him. But most players his age are getting a "taste" of the majors.
    He's somehow expected to play not good but Great, while also dramatically improving his game.
    No pressure or anything.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Agreed. It's tough to change on a fly. I think he's done a pretty good job for the most part of adjusting his approach between last year and this spring, but he was hacktastic yesterday.

    All I want from Castro is an average walk rate -- 8% or so -- and he'll be a huge asset. He's not that far away from that.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I love Starlin also but to date he's only cracked the 200 hit barrier in one season so far -- in 2011 with 207. He had 183 hits last year and 139 in 2010. However, he has batted .300 twice -- .300 exactly in 2010 and .307 in 2011.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    What do you think Castro is failing to show on the field? He has looked pretty good to me.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not so much of a message in Spring Training. Seems like Sveum is looking at other options in the batting order. Now if this was June or July, then it's a message.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    First two sentences contradict each other.

  • Both at in most top 40 or 50 lists. Golden needs to stay healthy. He was a top prospect a couple years ago but multiple injury issues have delayed his development. Martin is already a pretty good CFer that shows some promise at the plate. Bet he picks up the slack for Almora at Kane County early this year.

  • Bruno is one of my personal favorites. Would love to see him pick up where he left off last year. Maybe even has a shot at AA by years end if the hitting translates well out of Boise to A/A+. May even start at Daytona this year.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    He's a fun guy to watch hit and an underrated athlete. I'm a fan too.

  • Let the Cubs move to Rosemont. ..... Ricketts will not have to waste $300 million to renovate.....City would lose revenue..........all those bars and businesses would close up......real estate prices would fall......the alderman would lose his job......Wrigleyville would become a major crime ridden area............Rosemont offers free land to Ricketts.....he shoudl take it...........the revenue $$$$ would be big for Rosemont........Ricketts can lease Wrigley out to area high school or college teams for day games......a new Cubs park would have decent seats, deluxe boxes suites, larger clubhouses, training rooms, up to date signage, better field and better concessions and restrooms...... ........maybe this Wrigleyville alderman is doing Ricketts a favor.......if the Cubs really want to improve, then a new ballpark is one of the main areas to improve would the Cubs pay for the new stadium?.....not one dime by taxpayers....all by corporate money, Rickett's money, and shares sold through Cubs supporters as some type of a stock option in the stadium.........believe me, a new stadium would bring in a better atmosphere for all.

    New Slogan for 2013 and beyond should be...."DUMP WRIGLEY - MOVE TO ROSEMONT"

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I think there would be better sites than rosemont, arlington maybe. If the ricketss or that alderman what's his name have any doubts if the cubs fans would support a team in the burbs or show up for games, all they need to do is check the attendance figures for the cubs games at miller park. The cubs have been consistently selling out that publicly funded parking lot since it oppened. The brewers charge premium prices, premium parking, schedule long weekend series and all the home dates with the cubs they can get, and rake in the cash. Cubs fans have been paying for the brewers salary increases and for years were the only games let alone series that sold miller park out. Put the cubs out in st charles on the old arthur anderson campus and start raking in the dough like the Selig family did off the cubs.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    Hard to believe ANY Cubs fan would be advocating leaving Wrigley. Wrigley is the Cubs, the Cubs are Wrigley. Rickets would have to be crazy to ever leave Clark and Addison and he ain't crazy.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I just want to see the Cubs win the World Series. I don't care where.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Moving out of Wrigley should be a last resort. Those of us buying tickets, concessions etc. will help pay for the renovation. In addition, increased revenue through advertising (score board, outfield signs etc), more night games, street festivals as well as reducing/eliminating the 12% amusement tax we all pay to the city each time we buy a ticket will help pay for the renovation. It is a business like any other, in order to pay the $300-500 million, the Ricketts are trying to increase revenue. As Cub fans, it is in our best interests to see the Ricketts to get everything they are asking for from the city. And as far as I'm concerned, we as fans need to boycott spending money in the neighborhood outside of Wrigley field this summer until they give into the Ricketts demands. As paying customers, we have the power, we just need to organize and let Tom Tunney, the rooftop owners and the bar owners what the priority is... That is winning a World Series and giving the Ricketts family every advantage needed to do just that. Imagine if every Cub fan, boycotted the rooftops and local bars for the month of April. I'm pretty confident this issue would get resolved pretty fast.

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    As a resident of the Hoosier state, I'm against moving to Rosemont. Wrigley is a far enough drive.

    Gary has all the space in the world and could use the income!

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I grew up in Gary. It is a crap-hole. The Sox are already on the southside, the Cubs need to stay where they are or move west/north...the closer to the city with rail/bus/I-state access, the better.

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    In reply to Ray A:

    Oh that comment was definitely in jest. (although GI fits as far as rail/bus/I-state issue :p) But I'm all too aware the thr crapiness of GI. I work EMS there. It's an awful place. And while, again, I don't advocate building there for real, I'd rather they build an amazing stadium in gary than go through with their current plans in Wrigley.

  • I'm naturally partial to fixing up Wrigley and not "dumping" it. My late Cubs-fan mom grew up in the neighborhood, and an uncle worked for the Cubs. I went to my first game there at age 4. (Yes, some of the same seats and troughs are still there decades later, but all that can be renovated.)

    But even IF...IF the Cubs were to think of moving, there is no reason to grab the first offer. Rosemont is an arid dump, a patch of land, that's all. Arlington Park, with the Northwestern line and lots of parking, makes more sense, and I'm sure other readers have good location ideas too. But I can't see it happening--there's too much downside to leaving The Friendly Confines.
    Moving to Rosemont just because some politico offers a cheap deal is as likely as, say, 88 wins this year.

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    If the Cubs are serious about moving, and I don't think they are, they should consider the far northern suburbs - such as Waukegan -- to get away from the Cook County amusement tax. That would allow them to lower ticket prices and forms a pretty credible threat.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That minor league team didn't exactly work out in Zion did they? Nor did the Lake County Rifles back in the 70's. The only problem I see if they move to Rosemont would be the darned planes landing and taking off every 10 seconds. Stay in Chicago, renovate the Stadium, and keep the drunk fans peeing on the Wrigleyville lawns. Waukegan has too many illegal aliens living there now.

  • Posted some updates on the article:

    Baker out until mid-season.
    Dolis optioned to AAA
    Yankees after Wells. Starting to wonder if it's their turn to fall like the Red Sox did.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    So, what you're saying, is that we won't be flipping Scott Baker for Randall Delgado this July?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha..that train has left the station. Curious to see what they do now. Do they try and re-sign him or cut their losses after the season.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Scott Baker will answer that with how well or poorly he does when he can start throwing again. Based on what we saw last week: cut losses.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    New Yorkers are about to see hard times for their baseball teams in the coming years. Mayor Bloomberg will ask a ban on all Blue Jays and Tampa Rays games in the A.L. East.....

    I don't believe the Yankees can be above 500 this year....

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I think they could even be battling to stay out of the cellar this year. When was the last time the Red Sox and Yankees finished at the bottom of their division?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't find the answer to that, but came close in 1992 when they finished fifth and seventh in the AL East. (The Tigers finished sixth, a game behind the Yankees.)

    It's been a while.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Found it. 1966.

    The Yankees finished 70-89, the Red Sox 72-90, last in the league before there were divisions.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Cool. Thanks, Mike.

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    I joke about relocating but I want Wrigley to stay where it is, which the disclaimer that I hate the renovation plans.

    I think Wrigley should be torn down (with maybe the exception of the outfield wall and bleachers) but the rest shod be torn down and built up brand new. The current grandstand is just insufficient.

    Especially when you consider the history of the Cubs (in the MLB context, not the losing context), the market size, and popularity.

    We need a NEW stadium. And I'd like it to be where it is.

    As much as I love the north side, if I had to choose between a half-ass renovation and building something in Rosemont (or wherever) that more closely resembles Miller Park, I'll take Rosemont.

  • John, can you please give us a list of a sleeper prospect at each
    level that you are hoping develops as expected.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I have something like that tentatively planned for next week as a follow-up to top 25 prospects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I pitcher and 1 hitter at each level if possible. Thanks.

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    3B is Lillibridge's worst defensive position by far. So this season is going to be like last year when Sveum started a RF at 3B and a 3B in RF?

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Statistically, it was Lillibridge's best defensive position last season. Small sample, but he was well above average.

  • Favorite play of the game so far was Castillo throwing behind LH batter to pickoff runner at 1st. Best arm for Cubs catcher since Steve Lake?

  • Thanks for the link to the Mooney article. I'm liking his work more and more with each piece. It's good to see the FO so enamored with Javy, yet Sveum things in perspective. I just wish he was so even keeled with the vets vs. his man-crush on Joe Mather last year.

  • To - The Rickett's Family
    Subject - Dump Wrigley

    Can I just start off by saying,,,,"F*** Tradition".....The Cubs Organization is a business. The two main goals are, Winning, and Making Money. To get to these two levels, you need better players, good coaching, great farm system, excellent scouts, fans....and a stadium that helps your team to win. Right now, Wrigley Field is a Dump. Sure it has history, but history does not help you win championships. What the Cubs need is a new stadium for the players and the fans. If it has to be built in Rosemont or some other suburb that can handle the traffic and have great access, then it should be done. Where does it need to be built? That is up to who wants the Cubs, and what tax breaks and land deals they can give to the Rickett's family. This is all about business, not about politics. This is about improving the quality of playing and watching baseball, not about late night neighborhood parking, roof top signs or some city alderman. This is about making money!

    Yankees had a great historical stadium, but built a new one.....why not the Cubs? Yes, Wrigley can stay as a museum or a ball park for local college teams to rent out. There will be less fans in the area, more parking for residents, no more night games...this should please the alderman and residents....... and who really cares about those who own the local bars or roof tops...... So let get the Cubs a new stadium, have a better surroundings for the fans and players, and tell Chicago City Hall to stick their politics & White Sox fan base up their (censored).

    So "Dump Wrigley" and lets build a new stadium. Lets move into the 21st Century, and not be stuck with a situation that Cubs ownership will regret later on. Having new corporate suites would sell out fast. Developers can easily build a
    Sports / Entertainment / Hotel complex nearby the new stadium.

    We can rule out any locations south of the City, anywhere in Indiana, and locations that do not have easy transportation access. A location that has major North / South, and East /West expressways nearby should be considered.

    So what do you say Mr Ricketts? Do you have the Major League Balls to do this? It is not a gamble, but more of a investment to your club. This is easy subject matter to decide, just as easy for the Cubs winning 88 games this year. Those who want us to keep playing in Wrigley and keep with tradition, are the same ones in life who think they can overcome their fear of flying by learning to be a pilot, then don't have the sense not to fly in a snowstorm or filed a flight plan. And we really don't miss or learn nothing from those type of people.


  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    sorry not gonna happy cubstalk

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    meant not gonna happen

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    OK say the Cubs move to Rosemont into a shiny brand new stadium in 2016. It's a retractable roof stadium. They brought the original bleachers, the original scoreboard, the red Marquee, the flags, etc. They have expensive corporate suites, and can seat 50,000 people. It even has ivy-covered walls. Now here's the problem. The Ricketts gets sued by the City of Chicago for leaving. It's a class-action lawsuit brought by the bar owners and the rooftop owners. The people of the 44th Ward don't have people peeing on their lawns anymore.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    As they say, any idiot can file a lawsuit.
    What is the lawsuit based on?
    Lack of Beer piss on neighborhood lawns?

    A judge would throw any lawsuit brought on by the City if they sued the Cubs.

    They are no agreements between the City and the Cubs of staying at Wrigley. But if the City files any lawsuit or by the local rooftop bar owners, Ricketts lawyers will seek to recoup all legal damages by all parties who brought on the lawsuit.

  • Rusin with 2H and 3BB's through 5IP. No ER's. Nice outing in response to being sent down. Looks like a solid 6th starter until others start to come back.

    Incredibly small sample size and it is ST, but Castro has 32 PA's and 3 walks. Right around 10% walk rate. Doing this while batting over .400. Again, tiny sample size, but I would love this for the season. Also has 3 stolen bases in 3 attempts.

    Lastly, for anyone who takes to much stock of ST stats (much like I just did above) Felix Pie has a slash line of .317/.417/.585. Includes 6BB's and 5K's in 47 PA's. Hard to believe he is 28 years old.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I think he's thrown himself into the plans for next year. It's really nice to possibly have a cost-controlled, quality lefty to round out the rotation. Especially if Wood comes around as the 4 guy.

    The rotation will get better, but a 2014 staff starting with Samardzija-[Appel?]-Jackson-Wood-Rusin is a really nice place to be. If Johnson, Paniagua, or the like are ready, we can move Wood for more good young players.

  • Did Yankees contact Theo on Soriano before the Yanks took Vernon Wells?

  • if we draft appel is it a thought that he could start out right away at the major league level?

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    In reply to mditka:

    I don't believe that had ever happened.

    And if it has, Appeal is DEFINITELY not that good.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It has happened fairly often. The last time I am aware of is Leake, of the Reds.

    I think Mike Morgan did it also.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Greg Swindell had only 3 minor league starts.

    I don't see any reason to think Appel couldn't do it, the way he is dominating college hitters. We should never expect a guy to make that kind of a jump, but there is nothing about Appel that disqualifies him from being one of those guys.

  • In reply to mditka:

    Some scouts think he can pitch in the bigs by the end of the year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As a RP not a SP.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He can definitely start. He has the pitches and command to do that right away If he comes up late in the year and doesn't start, it would only be because the team chose to limit his innings this year.

    That said I don't a team will bring him up unless it's a wink-wink part of the deal he signs. No reason for a team like the Astros or Cubs to call him up. They won't contend and they'll just speed up his arb clock. Boras would want that, of course, but the team will wait to call him up as late as possible.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The Astros would also be endangering their race with the Marlins for Rodon by calling him up, so that would also argue against it for them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He won't start in 2013 at the MLB level. He won't have the arm strength developed to go that unless you want to risk getting hurt.

  • As a Cubs fan who lives in Central Illinois, and goes to more games in Stl than in Chicago. I'm all for a new stadium. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Busch Stadium, it is nice to have all the room in the concourse and parking all around the stadium. Cubs fans down south might go to more games if parking wasn't such a pain in the ass like it is around Wrigley and ticket prices are cheaper because there isn't the 12% tax. And no matter what, I'm still going to listen and watch every Cubs game no matter where they call home!

  • John, between now and open day many fairly good still young
    players are going to be released. Is it worth to the Cubs to
    stock AAA with some of these players who might have some

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    There aren't going to be any real good young players released. The best you can probably hope for is another Luis Valbuena type.

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    I love wrigley as much as the next guy and maybe more. I have so many great memories there and it would hurt to move to a new park, but I feel we can't hold on to it forever and the Cubs FO needs to look around just to test the water. Sooner or later there will be a new park, and now seems to be a perfect time. I remember my first beer there, I must have been 15. I ended up with a stack of 4 and after the game everyone would throw the cups on the field. Sometimes if there was a bad call or the Team was getting beat it would happen throughout the game ....ahhhh the memories.

  • Len Kasper on Starlin

    Why a really good team would hit Castro much lower

  • Some stuff from KLaw:

    On Appel - he tweeted he can probably start in AA then reach majors in Sept. Cites use of 3 pitches.

    Also said Whitenack's fb sat at 85-87 in minor league game.

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    In reply to Furiousjeff:

    That Tommy John recovery thing really ain't working so well for us this far.

    Here's hoping Vizcaino breaks that run.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No, it's not. Whitenack velo is very disappointing. He's had plenty of time to recover.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Recovery is not at about 18 months, but obviously it depends on the individual. Recovery from any surgery depends on the individual, just ask DRose.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Interesting. Is that a brand new article? Completely agree on Appel. Not great news on Whitenack, though.

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    Expanding on what Jeff said, here's the Keith Law quote: "A reminder that Tommy John surgery isn't a riskless procedure - Rob Whitenack is sitting 85-87 here in a minor league game."

    It's hard to see this as anything but the end of the road for Whitenack. Too bad -- he looked so good before that injury.

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