Cubs Home Opener Notes and Preview: Renovation deal close? MLB Draft, Jeimer Candelario

Cubs Home Opener Notes and Preview: Renovation deal close? MLB Draft, Jeimer Candelario

Baseball is back at Wrigley today as the Cubs take on Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers.  Here are some news and notes to tide you over.  I also added a graphic today on pitcher vs. hitter matchups.  Let me know if you'd like me to do that more often.

In the News:

  • There was not yet a renovation deal between the Cubs and the City of Chicago as of this morning according to David Kaplan, but CBS Chicago is reporting that sources tell them that a deal will be announced later today. Stay tuned.
  • Lots of draft stuff in the past couple of days.  I don't know if I linked the Patrick Mooney article yet, but if not you can find it here.  Mooney writes that the pick is coming into focus and that there is a sense that the Cubs will take one of 3 college pitchers: RHP Mark Appel of Stanford, LHP Sean Manaea of Indiana State, or RHP Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma.
  • In case you missed it, Manaea was held back from his Friday start because of a hip injury but did make his start the very next day.  It looks like it wasn't a problem as Manaea went 6 innings, struck out 9 and walked none.  Phil Rogers chimes in on the draft and aside from the college arms, he also notes that the Cubs have scouted Georgia high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows very closely.  ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers also notes the Cubs have scouted the two outfielders.
  • In case you missed it, Tom talked to a rival scout about Jeff Samardzija and whether he was an ace.  The scout said, “He (Samardzija) still has to prove he can be consistent, he has enough stuff to be an ace. He had too many roles at the beginning of his career but just maybe he is settling in.” For his part, Samardzija seems to understand the pros and cons of striking out so many hitters.
  • I wrote a piece for the Ivy Drip newsletter on Jeimer Candelario but there has been some delays with the publication.  I will link it as soon as it is ready.  In a nutshell, I've been impressed with Candelario, from his natural skill as a hitter, to his ability to adjust, to the work ethic that has him in great shape to start the season.  In my opinion, the young 3B is poised for a breakout season.
  • Reader/contributor JiveWired writes his own blog, which is often about music (one of my passions outside of baseball!).  Today he is writing about the Cubs and some of his personal memories.  He also has great things to say about the blog and the community here.  Thanks for the kind words JW!
  • Some info from Baseball America on missing Cubs minor league players...
    • Released: RHP Jay Jackson, RHP Hayden Simpson, RHP Brett Wallach, RHP Joe Zeller, LHP Casey Harman, LHP Dontrelle Willis, C Mike Brenly, OF Evan Crawford
    • Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Esmailin Caridad, RHP Marcelo Carreno, RHP Dayan Diaz, RHP Michael Jensen, RHP Chang-Yong Lim, RHP Matt Loosen, RHP Jose Rosario, RHP Casey Weathers, LHP Kyler Burke, LHP Jeff Lorick, LHP Andrew McKirahan, C Yaniel Cabezas, C Carlos Escobar, 1B Greg Rohan, 3B Brad Zapenas, OF Albert Almora
    • Meanwhile, Jose Paniagua is still awaiting his visa.

Today's Lineup

  1. DeJesus cf
  2. Castro ss
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Soriano LH
  5. Schierholtz RF
  6. Castillo C
  7. Valbuena 3B
  8. Lillibridge 2B
  9. Jackson P

What to Watch For:

There is a strong wind blowing out today and Opening Day needs a Tuffy Rhodes to celebrate.  Who is the most likely to have a memorable home opener-- and no, we don't (necessarily) mean fade off into oblivion afterward.

John:  I'm going with Beef Welington.  He takes a mighty rip and if he connects, he's going to have a big day.

Tom: Starlin Castro is going to HR today at least once today and maybe throw in a gapper or two.

Felzz:  Luis Valbuena.. Someone who you don't expect to steal the show. He's as good a guess as anyone. So I'm going Luis V......

Comments

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    Happy Opening Day

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Woohooo! Happy Home Opener!

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    Thanks for the plug John! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    You're welcome. Thanks for the kind words.

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    I'm surprised to see Manaea's name there after all that's been said to this point in the draft process. They must still like his ceiling a lot to have him in serious consideration with Appel and Gray.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I was too. He's still throwing well and even though his stuff might be down, it's still pretty good. Have to wonder how much of it is smoke either way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wasn't surprised per se. Happy to see it, though. I voted for him in our last poll.

    I agree he isn't the leading candidate at this point, but there's a lot of college ball left to play. The Cubs are all about adding impact players. Their scouts and front office seem well versed in a player's projection, and I still think Manaea's upside is as good as anyone's in this draft even if he's not performing at his ceiling right now.

  • Ryan Braun is out of the Brewers lineup today with a stiff neck. Third day in a row I believe. Let's hope the Brewers' team hotel finds a few lumpy pillows for him. Keeping him on the bench all week would be nice.

    Also reported that the Brew Crew have yanked their own erratic Closer, John Axford, replacing him with setup man Jim Henderson.

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    Saw on Twitter that he was in. Maybe a last minute change?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry, I misread. Braun is in the lineup. Wishful thinking I suppose.

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    I wish you were right too!

  • Schierholtz hits two.

  • I can see that. In fact, I almost picked him too. Tom also had him as his second choice.

  • Completely agree with you on Candelario. He's been my favorite prospect since DSL and he seems to have a star persona. I finally got a chance to see him in person over the weekend. I can't wait to go back. I posted some videos of Candelario and others for anyone who hasn't gotten a chance to see them in person yet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWEPtHMAWDw
    I'm hoping to see Castro hit a couple out today as well. He looked better yesterday, and I think he's going to start rolling.

  • In reply to gocubsgo:

    Thanks. I have some video as well and tons of pictures. Hopefully will be able to post soon.

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    Classless move booing the guy that just lost his job during the intros...

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    I had a feeling that was going to happen. It's too bad. It's not like the guy was trying to lose the game.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes, not surprising, just hate to see a guy kicked while he's down...it'd be different if he was coming on in the 9th

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Marmol looked as though he knew it was coming. I would imagine he is releaved to get a break from the pressure of closing.

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    Hoyer says in the article he hopes it isn't an annual thing with the Cubs picking #2. I think we all do.

    This team isn't giving me the warm and fuzzies to this point, though.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I hear ya...but did we really expect them to? I hate to say it, but I'm already in the mode I was in the second half of last year. That is, not rooting for them to lose, but more just rooting for the core guys to contribute, and hopefully the vets do enough to build value. The losses haven't really hurt too bad.

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    Honestly, I was rather vocal about wanting another solid draft choice next year. But Team Theo went the other direction and tried to build a team that would win more games and, if everything went right, compete. I'm a little troubled -- not panicked, not calling for Theo's head, but troubled -- that the offense is this bad, especially when guys we're counting on long term are struggling.

    I want to emphasize I don't think the long term prognosis is bad and I think it will get fixed. But, objectively, the returns have not been good just yet.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I guess I never really believed they were trying to put together a winner this season. All the FA signings were of the "let's see what we can get out of this" variety. If Feldman, Villanueva, Schierholtz, or Hairston can build any value by the deadline then their signings were a success. I don't think any of them were intended to be more than trade chips, or depth if other vets are traded. Trying to win more games? Maybe more than 60, but I don't think Theo & Co. ever had their eye on competing this year. I think the improvement below the big league level has been tremendous for the Golden Boy.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No, they're not ;) But I do have a feeling they're going to step things up this offseason.

  • Maybe Felzz is right...in the mlb.com player projections, Valbuena is the only Cub they project to have an 800+ OPS! Astounding...

  • Brewers hitting grounders to the rest spots.

  • This is starting to get away from the Cubs already.

  • I think the Cubs are still reeling from that blown 2nd game in Atlanta. There is a residual effect from those kind of defeats.

  • Castro gets no borderline calls.

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    Looks like the Brewers domination of us from last year might start to become a trend......wow

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    I just hope the Cubs can score some runs.......another poor offensive outing vs a suspect pitching staff w the wind blowing out is not going to give any of the pitchers much confidence out on the mound

  • As a player it's tough to be positive after that Atlanta loss. At this point in today's game, you normally think 4 runs is not insurmountable in Wrigley, particularly when the wind is blowing out. But given this lineups difficulties creating offense, you have to wonder how they feel.

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    In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Def 4 runs in not insurmountable , but whose to believe the Brewers will stay on 4 runs w 24 outs left

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    I think they need to string a few hits/walks together and maybe that will get them going.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    God I hope so, getting shutdown by Estrada w wind blowing out would not be good for this offenses confidence and team moral

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    This may sound weird, but I need the team to win so my son doesn't stop being a cub fan. I've been a cub fan since I was 5, i survived ray fontenot and steve swisher and bump wills and calvin schiraldi. never even had a thought about rooting for another team. But kids these days have so many options - every team available on cable, not to mention the NBA; my son wears the cap of whatever team is the flavor of the month, but he still is a cub fan at the core. I worry if that can survive another season - let alone 2 - of 100 losses. The eye-rolling has already started, and yesterday Jed was "the worst GM in the history of baseball. " Ricketts needs to watch out for losing kids like my 12 year old, they might not come back.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    Good point.....if I was kid growing up now, I wouldn't be a Cub fan now. Esp if you understand the economics of baseball, it makes being a Cub fan even more painful.

    SKMD.....you need to get your son in love w a player. The Cubs were brutal when I was a kid, but I loved Andre Dawson and his jeri curls and it didn't matter how many runs the pitchers gave up, I just wanted to see the Hawk hit and throw the ball w that Cannon !

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I became old enough to follow baseball in the years 1948 - 1960. If you could be a Cub fan during that period, you were a Cub fan for life.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    that's hard enough to do in this age of free agency where every season is fruit-basket-upset, but when the FO is signing guys specifically to get rid of them in a few months it's almost impossible. 3 birthdays ago I took him to Field of Dreams to have a shirt autographed by Ryan Theriot, and for a time The Riot was one of his favorites - but where's Ryan Theriot now? Yes, there will be a core to follow one day, but my point is that there's a generation out there that doesn't have that sort of attention span.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    My first game was one where Steve Stone gave up 5 HRs to the Reds. If that didn't scare me off, nothing will!

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I totally get where you're coming from SKMD, but I honestly think that winning will cure all ills. The Cubs may lose your son and a lot of other kids while they suck, but I'm sure if they start contending on a yearly basis that they will come rallying back.

    Look at the Blackhawks. They were "attracting" 5,000 fans or less in their nadir, but now people are clamoring for tix. And that's hockey (which is, actually, my favorite sport but seems to be an afterthought for most people).

    But I'm hoping the rebuild happens as quickly as possible too. I think I can suck it up and support a poor team again this year, but if we are staring at a lineup with the likes of Lillibridge and Valbuena as regulars next year, I think my attention will start to wander as well.

  • Hey John, I haven't seen anything about Roni Torreyes, where is he? Did he stay behind in extended ST?

  • In reply to Caps:

    Yes.

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    This guy is just hanging pitches.......Cubs can't keep missing them

  • Congratz on the prediction, John!!

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    Good call on Beef, John!

  • Beefff!!!

  • Good call on Beef John!

  • Haha! Thanks. Game not over yet, though.

  • WTF is going on with this ump's strike zone??? This is totally amateur hour.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I saw the same thing in Pitts and Atl... The quality of umps have gone down since last year, IMO... Especially behind the plate where their strike zones are not consistent.

    Or maybe I realize now with all the technology we have to track pitches.

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    I think John said this earlier but Castro gets absolutely no borderline calls. It seems like the ump gets surprised when he doesn't swing at it.

  • Deshais really does a good job. He and Len seem like they have been working together much longer than a few games.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Yea he seems a bit nervous at times when they talk about off-topic things but that's just a matter of getting comfortable. The guy knows baseball though(not that Brenly didn't) so he'll be fine.

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    As I say that Ryan Braun gets the most borderline of all borderline of all calls.

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    Castro just missed a homer by an inch, literally.

    Good calls today guys.

  • Rizzo looks lost at the plate.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Seems like he's pressing. As other guys start to hit better I think he will too.

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    castro on 2nd, nobody, out, can't bring him home. I'm so glad we have that bunting tournament in ST, that seems to be time well spent. Maybe the video guy can pinch-hit?
    At some point the finger has to point to the manager.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    Who would you have lay one down? Rizzo? Soriano? With the wind blowing out at 30mph!? You can't blame the manager for the team batting sub .200.

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    look, when your team is batting .131 you have to scratch out a run any way you can. Is there a law that the 3-4 hitters aren't allowed to bunt?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Didn't he move the runner?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Good point. Rizzo's at bat was as effective as a sacrifice bunt. Soriano put the ball in the air, just not deep enough to score Castro on a sac fly. That's an execution failure not a manager's strategy failure.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    No law, but I certainly wouldn't make that call.

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    7-2, I'm done.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I might be done with the season. I might just be talking out of frustration, but I didn't think the start would be like this and make me feel like they have not shot of staying close. I know this is a rebuild and this was bound to happen, but not even the terrible teams look this terrible early on. Leaving guys on, no big hits, walks, runs given up...just extremely disappointing.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    This, "I'm done," will have as much to do with your son not being a fan as the losing. If you cannot project why the game is fun even in a bad loss, then your son will quickly lose interest.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    The Cubs lost, but that ending was a lot of fun. I hope SKMD didn't leave early. Baseball is fun. Wrigley is beautiful. The wins and losses happen when they do. But the game is can turn interesting at any moment.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Ok, two responses: 1) Richard Beckmann is right, I do need to project more optimism for my kid. In fact he came home from school , first words were, "cubs on?" next words were, "let me guess - losing, say, 5-2?". 2) I was not in fact done - I went ahead with house work, had the game on in the background, I did stand and watch the 9th. without optimism.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Glad to hear it, SKMD. That last half inning was fun.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    :)

    I agree it is a different environment today, but if you keep positive...

    I became a Cubs fan in the mid sixties when I was nine years old. No one in the house was a Cubs fan. Dad was a White Sox fan (though I had no idea that he was a Sox fan until many years later).

    I credit Ray Rayner for making me a Cubs fan. He showed highlights every morning and was always positive. I was well hooked long before they started winning. And Ray kept me hooked.

  • I wonder if Theo and Jed will look at results from the first 2 months of the season to help dictate what they do in the draft. Through 4 games, starters haven't done all that well. If that continues, do they look to draft Appel or Gray with the hope that they are in the rotation July of 2014?

    Samardzija, Garza, EJaxx, Wood, Appel/Gray? Not to bad.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I don't think they will base their pick on the deficiencies of this year's team in April and May. They might be swayed a little by weaknesses in the organization overall, but for the most part they will go with the best player able to make the greatest impact at the major league level. That takes scouting, projection, statistical analysis. I'm so glad the Cubs have the front office they do. I have so much faith in them at this point.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Baseball teams, especially this front office, does not draft based on need. Not the same as football or basketball.

  • My two cents on the runner on 2nd with 0 outs: I would think about if it was a game tying/winning situation, or if the pitcher was at bat. But down a bunch of runs, on a day with the wind blowing out and with your sluggers coming up, no chance.

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    Rally caps...

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    You want me to rally?

  • In reply to Caps:

    Ha!

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    Not sure I get pulling the lefty DeJesus for Sappelt against a righty...

  • DeJesus was pulled when Gorzelanny came in. Gorz is a lefty.

  • Lendy Castillo with a decent outing in KC. 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.

  • Funny thing is... The wind shifted and was blowing in, in the 9th... That last out by Castro would've been a hr 2 innings ago.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Not just a HR, but a game-winning walk off grand slam! Nature is such a fickle wench...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    As are many women.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That's what I was thinking!

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