Hope you all got to watch the Javy Baez show this weekend. If not, here's a close look at his swing in case you missed it. Although he and fellow top prospect Jorge Soler have been assigned to the minors they will be in the heart of the Cubs lineup today...
News and Notes...
- We'll keep the Javier Baez theme going here. ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers asked Baez what he learned this spring, he didn't hesitate to answer: "Take pitches." This is great news and we saw Baez effectively work counts in Sunday's game. Of course, he did take 3 straight first pitches deep in the two games prior to yesterday, but I'm good with that too. You don't want to take away his aggressiveness. As Theo has said, it's about pitch selection, not taking pitches for the sake of taking them. If a pitcher wants to challenge Baez with a first pitch fastball in the strike zone, then I'd much rather he take him take that pitch deep than fall behind 0-1.
- Meanwhile Jorge Soler said he learned that he isn't always going to get a 2-0 or 3-0 fastball at the major league level, where pitchers generally have better command and confidence in their breaking pitches. Additionally, Alfonso Soriano gave Soler some advice, “You have big money but that s not enough. Money will come but you have to work and be better."
- The signing of Cuban fireballer Armando Rivero is now official and it's for a much higher amount than I expected: $3.1M. That is undoubtedly due in large part because of the premium placed on Cuban players. They are a rare commodity and their prices will always reflect that, even more so now that the CBA limits what you can give to younger international players. Rivero is 24, so he was not bound by the CBA, but he undoubtedly benefited from teams getting the rare opportunity to bid openly on an international player. It's not just the market, however, Rivero is advanced and possesses a fastball that can reach 96 mph, however. He projects as a middle or possibly late inning reliever, though he does have 3 pitches and may get a shot at starting. Here's the story and scouting report by Baseball America's Ben Badler. One note on Badler's article: We all got that information via AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter a day before Phil Rogers reported it, so I'm giving them credit for breaking the story.
- Here's a nice story passed along by Cubs denizen "Breaking the Curse". As much as we talk analytically about getting value for players, it's good to know that the game can be more than just a cold business. The Phillies traded right-handed reliever Mike Cisco to the Angels on Sunday for "no compensation," even though he posted a 1.80 ERA in 40 appearances in the Minors last year and is said to be healthy. Why? Because the Phillies didn't have room for him on the roster and wanted to give Cisco a chance to pitch somewhere.
- In case you missed it, we talked about Cubs Opening Day Roster scenarios.
- Sappelt, CF
- McDonald, LF
- Soler, RF
- Baez, SS
- Clevenger, C
- Maysonet, 3B
- Lillibridge, 1B
- Gonzalez, 2B
- Jackson, P
5 Things to Watch for...
- Let's see if Javier Baez builds on Sunday's game and continues to practice what he is starting to preach -- be more selective and put himself in favorable counts.
- Jorge Soler has no problems with pitch selection and getting ahead, but we'll see if he can adjust as well to that 2-0, 3-0 breaking pitch. It's better to look for a certain pitch in the certain part of the zone at that point, and if it doesn't come, Soler is better off taking it -- even if it's a strike. He may just end up with a few more walks also as a consequence.
- Dave Sappelt played a solid CF and though he's not going to win a Gold Glove there, I didn't see any real drop off from starter David DeJesus. He's getting a lot of starts in CF, which tells me it's more about preparing for his regular season role than trying to earn a job. He looks to have that 5th spot sewn up right now.
- Steve Clevenger is my favorite right now for that 25th man spot on the roster. I like the idea of his versatility there and ability to pinch-hit -- and saving the roster spot.
- Edwin Maysonet, Alberto Gonzalez, and Darnell McDonald also have outside shots of getting a roster spot, so it appears they'll get at least one more good look before the Cubs have to make their next roster cuts, which should be coming this week.
Filed under: 5 Things To Watch for