Cubs wish list: catcher, OF, SP, and closer as team expects to field a lot of calls this offseason

Cubs wish list: catcher, OF, SP, and closer as team expects to field a lot of calls this offseason
Denard Span

While there have been rumors that perhaps the Cubs would get creative and look for a LH hitting catcher, Patrick Mooney says that is not the case.  Instead of Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Brian McCann, the Cubs are eyeing Kurt Suzuki.

Such a signing would be a clear indicator that the team sees Castillo as a potential long term piece.  Not only is Suzuki a prototypical backup, but he is also known for his knowledge of the game and is well-suited to continue the veteran mentor role they will lose when Dioner Navarro signs elsewhere.

It's not an exciting signing to me except in the sense that it does appear the Cubs are committed to their young catcher Castillo.  But, of course, he can't do it on his own.

“We’re really happy with Welington, but we need to find another catcher,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “We’ve cast a pretty wide net and we’ll keep on narrowing that focus down.”

Per Mooney, the Cubs are said to be looking for an outfielder, a starting pitcher, and a closer aside from a backup catcher.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Cubs may look for that through the trade market as well as the FA market.  I listed some potential starting pitching targets here, a list that includes Masahiro Tanaka, Josh Johnson, and Scott Kazmir.

Another name that could be interesting is Brett Anderson, LHP of the Oakland A's.  Anderson had his option picked up, so he is not a free agent, but the As already have 5 solid starters in Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, and Sonny Gray.  Its also believed the A's want to re-sign Bartolo Colon.  That could leave the A's with a surplus of starting pitching and one of those odd men out could be Anderson.

Anderson has been injury plagued in his career but when healthy, he has shown solid 91-94 mph velocity to go with a good slider and change.  Last year he was just 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA, but an xFIP of 3.26 bodes well for some improvement in his performance next year.  Perhaps the Cubs can buy low here and add a second, in-prime, lefty to their staff -- and the fact that he was once considered a top of the rotation type prospect doesn't hurt either.

I alluded to the trade market above and it's interesting to note that while the Cubs aren't shopping their young players, teams are calling about them.  There is expected to be heavy interest in Jeff Samardzija and even Starlin Castro, but the interest in trades is coming from the outside.

That does give the Cubs an advantage in that teams will have to pry them loose with a significant offer.  The Cubs have very little incentive to trade Castro this year, so some team has to create that incentive by offering significant surplus value.

The same holds true to a lesser degree in regards to Jeff Samardzija, who has but two years remaining.  The two sides still plan on getting together this offseason to try and hammer things out, but teams are aware the Cubs haven't been able to come to terms with him on an extension thus far, so the Cubs are will get calls.    We've mentioned Arizona and the Nationals as having the heaviest interest in the RHP with other teams possibly in the mix as well.

Names here are purely speculation but we do know the Cubs have always been fond of Lucas Giolito (and why wouldn't they be?).  He is the big prize in the Nationals system.  Other pitching prospects of note include A.J. Cole, arguably the top pitching prospect after Giolito, Taylor Jordan and Nate Karns, both of whom are nearly MLB ready and had cups of coffee with the Nats last season.  As he's mentioned before, our man Kevin Gallo is a fan of LHP Sammy Solis.  Solis would fill a void in the Cubs system in that the organization lacks power LHP prospects and he is may be close to the majors as well.  Kevin believes he has the ceiling of a #3 starter.  Matt Purke, once a very highly regarded as an amateur before his injury, is another LHP who may be of interest as he appears to be coming back strong and has pitched well in the AFL.  Things really begin to thin out beyond the Nationals top 10 prospects or so, but one scout told me he likes Jake Johansen, a 6'6" RHP with a live fastball and the tools/athleticism to develop more with good instruction.  He also mentioned an intriguing young lefty named Brett Mooneyham, who put up some good numbers in A ball last year.

We also know the Nationals have openly made Denard Span available.   That's not normally a Cubs type target but Span's contract fits perfectly as a bridge to Albert Almora.  He is signed for 2014 with a team option available for 2015.  Span isn't a dynamic offensive player but he does bring speed and plus CF defense that would allow the Cubs to push Ryan Sweeney to LF and give them a potential good defensive OF across the board with Nate Schierholtz in RF.  Schierholtz himself is considered a potential trade target by other teams, most notable the Diamondbacks, whom we mentioned yesterday.

Getting back to a potential matchup with the Nationals. there isn't a whole lot of depth in their system, so Span would give the Cubs some immediate impact and provide a cheaper transition than some of the expensive OF'ers on the market.  It would potentially give them 3 LH hitting OF'ers, but the Cubs have Junior Lake and Josh Vitters as potential RH complements and I've mentioned Franklin Gutierrez, Nate Reimold, Drew Stubbs, and Chris Young as RH options from outside the organization.

As for the closer options, there are some bigger names available such as Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Joe Nathan, and Edward Mujica, but with experienced closers often overvalued in the open market, I think the Cubs are more likely to try and create value with a good reliever or perhaps a closer coming off of injury or a poor season.  I mentioned a few of those type of candidates in this article here.  Those candidates include Tommy Hunter, Andrew Bailey, Jonny Venters, and Kevin Jepsen.

All in all, expect this to be a busy week for the Cubs.  Even if a major signing or trade doesn't take place they'll be fielding tons of calls and looking to at least lay some groundwork for the rest of the offseason.

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Lets hope we can put Jeff in a package with either Nate or Barney

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Or lets hope he comes back down to earth and signs and team friendly deal of 5 years 50 mildo

  • John,

    What do you think is a realistic return for a Shark/Sheirholtz package to Arizona?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    It all depends on how much a team is will to give. Towers is known for going overboard sometimes.

  • Lets hope that can put either Nate or Barney in a package with
    Jeff

  • Oh, and even though I specified John, anybody is free to respond.

  • fb_avatar

    You forgot lake in left Sweeney is a good 4th outfielder

  • Kurt Suzuki would be a good fit. Perfect back up catcher and definitely seems to fit the bill as a veteran presence

  • fb_avatar

    Barney needs to be traded so Baez can take over he doesn't need seasoning that's what spring training is for

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Bob11:

    Barney is not blocking Baez. When Javy is ready, he'll start.

    Spring training is for guys to warm up and get ready for the season. Javy has to learn how to adjust to major league caliber pitching. The best way to do that is by facing guys multiple times in AAA. There's no reason to push him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And lets not start his arbitration clock too soon

  • In reply to Bob11:

    He does need to cut down on his strikeouts and he does need to improve his focus (not rushing the play) on defense. If you're putting him at 2nd base, he needs to get used to the angle of the ball coming to him, the angle of his throw to first and his different role in the pivot plus the rest that I'm just dumb about. That's a lot to master in ST when you're a young up and comer with high expectations and a desire to impress.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    Bryant, Almora, and Acantara are all more patient than Baez at the plate. Javy still chases and over swings. He has work to do and he will figure it out quicker than most. His fans impatience is tied to Javy's patience.

  • In reply to Bob11:

    Tell that to Theo. Baez will see AAA for a good portion of 2014, as impatient as we are we have to wait on the "big 4." Barney can go if we're that hard up for a D specialist, then there's always a Punto too be had. Barney could hang on as a reserve infielder if somebody steps up like Alcantara and shows he ready.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    When will the big 4 be ready?

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Taking the Cubs brass at their word,it looks like 2nd half call ups for Baez and maybe Alcantara, jmo though. Soler and Almora late 2015. Again just guesses on my part.Who knows what moves are made by Theo this off season.Can't wait till deals are made by all the teams and the domino effect it causes..

  • I didnt realize till last night both Suzuki and Barney are of American -Japanese heritage. I just assume Kurt was from Japan, born in Hawaii, and didnt know about Barney.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rbirby:

    Barney is also part Korean

  • fb_avatar

    Story is out that the Cardinals flat out rejected Miller for JJ Hardy, which makes me wonder about the Castro and Ramirez deals. Unless they're closer than people are letting on to acquiring Tulo.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I can't say I blame them. If the price is going to be Miller, I'd want someone better than Hardy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Cards also rumored to be looking at Jhonny Peralta as a FA SS. I would have to think his value is down after his PED suspension, but maybe not. If the Cards are willing to take on most of Tulo's contract I can't see how Peralta is too expensive an alternative. Although Peralta is 32 next season and they may want someone younger to help build around. I'd still have no problem trading Starlin in the right deal but we'd have to get back at least one premium pitching prospect who is knocking on the MLB door or already here, IMO, plus another piece or two.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hardy is good, but he's 30 and only has a year left. I can't believe that would even be close to the complete offer for Miller who is already a stud at 21.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Cardinals are trying to dump Miller for a reason. Teams figured him out in August and September and hit him hard, lay off the high fastball. His secondary stuff is really quite average.
    He couldn't get in a playoff game. But the Cardinals are impossible to trade with, they want to screw everybody, way overvalue their own players.

  • fb_avatar

    Miller also pitched almost 40 innings over his career high in 2013, he was likely just exhausted at the end of the year and they were protecting him. I don't think anyone has soured on him as a top young pitcher.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Just Win:

    I agree. People are making way too much out of the playoffs. Miller is a beast. Same with Saltalamacchia and Boston. He made a bad throw, a stupid throw, really, and cost them a game they should've won so he was benched. No one ever said he was worse than the guy who replaced him. But in a seven game series, giving one game away is bad. You can't take a chance that you might give away two.

  • What makes you think the Cardinals are trying to dump Miller? Is that coming from the same source that says the Cubs are trying to dump Castro?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Cards GM said Miller is not available. They're not trading a kid who just went 15-9 with a 3.09 era as a rookie.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    If they want to trade him, he would fit in here just fine.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    If they want to trade him, we'll take him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hardy is just the same as Kozma. Good D, no bat. Why would they five up pitching for that?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Hardy is way better than Kozma on offense. There's no comparison at all.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to d evans:

    Better than Kozma is not saying much.

    You're talking about a slight offensive upgrade over a terrible offensive player.

    When I said they were the same, I meant it leaves them with the same problem. And worse still, he's old and bad.
    Giving up any promising young arm, even a bullpen arm for Hardy is crazy.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It's not a slight upgrade, it's a large upgrade.

    .263/25/76
    .217/1/35

    He's also 31 years old. That's not old.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It's not even like that was some crazy outlier season from Hardy. He has a 162 game average of ... .260/23/76

    Could you post some numbers that suggest that "Hardy is the same as Kozma"? I must have missed something.

  • fb_avatar

    It's an interesting situation with the Nationals. Their window is now. I'm hearing on MLBNR from multiple commentators and guests that they are unlikely to pay the price to get David Price or Max Scherzer. Those same people are also saying that the free agent starters out there don't seem to be good fits for the Nationals either. Samardzija is the name that keeps popping up.

    I think you ask for Giolito, but be willing to settle for Cole, and I think I'd ask for Goodwin before settling for Span.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    How close is Giolito? Or Cole?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Pura Vida:

    Cole finished in AA. Giolito will probably make his full season league debut next year, and I wouldn't be shocked it he started in Hi-A, given how he dominated SS ball.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Span may make them willing to part with better prospects. Goodwin isn't as good a CF prospect as Almora, so while I like Goodwin, I'd take Span for short term if it meant getting better pitching prospects.

  • Span would be a great get,I saw him play many times for the Twins and he brings hustle,speed and good defense.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Could add speed at top of the order and some great defense in CF. Move Sweeney to a corner and you've got yourself an outfield that can cover a lot of ground. Pitchers would love that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One problem I see with Span, Sweeney, Schierholz is they are all basically platoon players. Youd need at least 2 RH hitters with them , since Nate isnt that great against lefties and niether is Span. Young and Guiterriez as likely platoon righties?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Why do you keep trying to give away Junior's starting job? Sweeney can be the 4th OF. JR is, and should be the Cubs starting LF.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Agreed, I think junior should definitely start in the OF.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Span would fit the idea of RR wanting to run a bit more on the base paths too, agree?

  • Not sure why we can't just re-sign Navarro.

    I don't recall any stories of him wanting a starting job and bigger money next year. Unless of course the Cubs know more about his status than we do.

    I would be all in to sign Navarro, even if it costs us 3-4m per year. We really need his offense. With Suzuki we are basically getting good "D" and a another guy who puts up Darwin Barney-type numbers offensively.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    He's going to get good money as either a starter or a backup who gets a big chunk of playing time. Not going to happen here in Chicago.

    We're talking about a backup catcher, that's not a spot where you look to generate offense.

  • Span,Nate Karns and Matt Purke could be a reasonable pkg. for the Nats to send us for the Shark.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TheRiot2:

    Thanks, but no thanks! This deal should not be done unless either Giolito or Cole is coming back to the Cubs. I'm not against getting Karns or Purke, but they shouldn't be the center-piece to this potential deal. The Cubs need to hold fast and shoot for the moon like they did with Garza. Look what Texas gave up for 2 months of Garza. Samardzija, who is basically the same pitcher but with more time value, should fetch the Cubs more than Garza.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Remember that the Nats have a history of trading prospects for top pitching. The Gio Gonzalez trade is a more likely guide for what they'd be willing to give up.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Nats would jump all over that. I'd hold out for Giolito.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i feel the same, gioloto is a must if we're making this trade with washington. when u give up a guy like samardzija u have to get someone back who has the potential to be as good as him. i just don't see that in cole.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I agree. Shark is proven pitcher.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jshmoran:

    Cole's K/BB numbers last year are very good. He has a fairly high ceiling in his own right.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    agree...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    What about Espinosa as part of the deal? I know he has had trouble getting on base, but is that correctable since he had decent OBP in the minors? In any event, he's way better than Barney offensively and somewhat lesser defensively and better than Valbuena all the way around. Shark + Raley or Rusin (Nats are looking for LH middle relief) for Giolito, Span, and Espinosa? Maybe even ask for Storen or Clippard, although I think Strop has a shot to be a good closer and next year would be a great opportunity to audition him.

  • I don't see how trading for Brett Anderson makes any sense unless the Cubs FO feels extremely confident they can rebuild his value and trade him at the deadline for more than they'd give up now.

    I also wouldn't want to give up any assets to trade for a guy in Denard Span who will provide no value to future contending Cubs teams. Again, only attractive in my opinion if they can flip him later for more than they gave up.

    I feel very confident that the Cubs FO is not going to give up controllable assets for short term band-aids unless they are almost positive they can trade those band-aids for better controllable assets.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Span wouldn't cost a prime prospect, certainly not a top ten guy I wouldn't think. So he actually makes sense because he holds a position until Almora is ready.

    Washington probably will not trade him because they would need an OF to replace him, so maybe if they sign Ellsbury or Choo to play CF and bat leadoff they would be forced to trade Span or keep him as a fourth OF. In that scenario his trade value is greatly diminished unless another contending team needs a starting CF and leadoff guy.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    He was worth 2.4 WAR last year and has a very reasonable contract, so I don't think the Nats are going to give him away for peanuts.

    I'm fine with signing someone that will hold a spot for Almora, but I'm not fine with giving up prospects for a band-aid until Almora gets here, particularly if that band-aid costs $6.5M as well.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    The Cubs aren't going to be acquiring players just to flip them. That's a misconception that I think has really gone overboard. It's not always about flipping players.

    Yes, the Cubs have traded 40% of their rotation the past two years, but there are also guys they acquire with the intention of keeping. Travis Wood is the most obvious example. Jake Arrieta is another. Anderson would be a potential long term piece.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, they're not going to acquire Span or Anderson in order to flip them. I'm saying that's the only way I think either of those makes much sense.

    Anderson is completely different from Arrieta and Wood because they don't have long term control of Anderson. He's under contract only 2 more years, with one of those being a team option at $12M, so it's not even particularly cheap. Giving up prospects for 2 years of Brett Anderson when the team isn't expected to compete in those 2 years doesn't make sense to me unless 1) they intend to sign Anderson to a below market contract or 2) they think Anderson will rebound and they can trade him for better prospects than they traded for him.

    I don't think the team is interested in either of those possibilities, so I don't think Anderson fits.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Great point, very ustute.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Brett Anderson is only 26. Still young, sort of like Travis Wood was when the Cubs got him, just hasnt been consistently healthy. Hed be worth a b-level propsect . He was a pretty good LHsp before he got hurt.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He's under control for only 2 more years, so he's quite different than Travis Wood when the Cubs got him. It's certainly not worth it to me to give up a B-level prospect for 2 years of Brett Anderson when the Cubs aren't going to compete in those 2 years.

  • Seems to me the Cubs have an opportunity to attract a really good bullpen guy, giving him the opportunity to be a closer and increase his value. Someone like Jesse Crain comes to mind, who was unhittable at times for the Sox. He hurt his shoulder though, so not sure of his health.

  • Crain is great when healthy, but I tend to shy away from shoulder issues. Not nearly as easy to fix as elbows -- and we already know how tough it is to fix elbows.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Still think Edwin Jackson would be a beast as a two inning closer. His record as a starter doesn't stack up. I realize Theo signed him hoping he would catch fire and turn the corner as a starter, but what happens if he continues pitching the same as 2013? Why would anyone trade for him? We would have to eat salary...so why not sign some more guys to fill out the rotation at a low cost(Baker, Feldman types or trade for Anderson type). At least we get something out of EJ's great arm.

  • fb_avatar

    If the Cubs have a lot more money to spend, why not resign Dioner?

    Secondly, why is Lake disregarded as a starter for next year?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Stomper90:

    I think the Cubs promoted Lake out of need last year and they would like him to get some more minor league at bats. That's not to say he cannot win the job in ST.

  • Lake might need a full year in AAA to be ready by 2015 when
    other top prospects might be ready

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm of the thought that at least a half season more in AAA can only help.

  • If they trade Welly it should be to make room for wieters not salty. Cubs should of drafted him over bitters anyway and he is available. And then if they could add another power LH bat for the OF our offense improves drastically.

  • In reply to The Show:

    Maybe, but Wieters has graded out as a tick below average offensively in his career. I don't know if he'd drastically improve the offense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with you, just saying I would rather have him over salty if they decide its best to move Welly and get more LH. And the offense only gets better with wieters and a power LH outfielder. Or a 2b (Cano)

  • In reply to The Show:

    Don't trade a top young catcher, please!

  • Bautista's name has come up in some rumors. Would there be any interest in him by the cubs?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to pricewriter:

    Considering Philadelphia is willing to ship Dom Brown and a prospect to Toronto for Bautista (and Arencibia) I think the Cubs should stay away.

    I think that deal is almost done and I don't think the Jays are actively shopping Bautista but how do you turn that down? The Phillies are going to need walkers for all those old guys by the All Star Break and I would think they would be looking for a pitcher to replace Holliday rather than an trading youth for an aging OF and a poor-hitting catcher, but I am not Ruben Amaro.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Thanks. Wondered about him as a transition to the prospects coming up.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to pricewriter:

    I'd love him as a transitional player, but not at an equivalent price or better as compared to what Philadelphia will allegedly send Toronto. Just my opinion though.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    You would probably make a better MLB general manager.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eddie:

    I wish!

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    According MLB Rumors.com Amaro at Philadelphia said they are NOT interested in getting rid of their young players (like Dominic Brown).

    He said every team is looking for young cost-controlled players and the the Phillies are doing the same.

    I would be surprised if they traded him.

  • I wouldnt trade shark unless it involves giolito. Would shark for giolito, span and a low level prospect? Or is shark worth more/less?

  • A proven pitcher like Shark trumps unproven, unless you know you have a sure thing. Like the Yankees trading for Willie Randolph, no brainier.

  • When I look at the Nats, I wonder why they wouldn't just go all in for Tanaka or Garza, or sign a short-term solution like Arroyo. It would seem like they have more money than depth to trade from and would Shark really be the missing piece that puts them over the top compared to the other FA pitchers out there?

  • Here's a thought with respect to Span, and really any terrific OF: I know the feeling around here is that the Cubs aren't looking at the 1 year, sign him and flip him type pitcher this season. That said, if the Cubs DID try to go that route once more, the easiest way to get a high upside lottery ticket pitcher to put up great numbers is to put a terrific defense behind him. I'd love for the Cubs to acquire a short term solution like Span or Gutierrez for that reason alone.

  • I really like the Brett Anderson idea. I think it's worth mentioning that he will be a free agent next year, so much like the Jed Lowrie situation the A's NEED to trade him this season in order to get value, because if they don't they will lose him for nothing due to the fact that they are not worth QO's and the A's don't have the money to buy their free agent years. I'd kick the tires.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    he has a 12mil option for 2015

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Yes but with so many other options who have been just as productive and much cheaper (Gray, Griffin, Straily, Milone, Parker, possibly Colon coming back) they will definitely not pick up a 12MM option unless he outperforms them by leaps and bounds, which I don't think will happen. Therefore he will be a FA next year, so right now is the most logical time to shop him to get the best return.

  • Samardzija has tools equal to most top of rotation starters. And he has performed adequately in the last two years for the second worst team in baseball.

    With two years to go, I would not trade him unless I could get two TOR potential prospects. Generally, one of the two could be expected to fail to reach his ceiling.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    A lot of pitchers have the tools to be TOR pitchers 90% of them can't do it. Samardzija is at the stage that he should have taken that big step but he hasn't.

  • Anderson and Josh Johnson would be nice to have. Anderson, if healthty, is a quality lefty, Travis Wood with better stuff. Johnson just needs to stay healthy.

  • John,

    Heard a rumor last night or this morning (can't remember) that the Cubs are in talks with Marlins to acquire some pitching. Seeing how they have a surplus in the minors and the Cubs have a surplus of position players, what players do you see as being traded and which pitchers would Cubs get in return?

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Want a guess-Miami has a large Cuban population-Almora and Soler for starters-And NO, I wouldnt make those trades.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to lokeey:

    Do the Marlins have any TOR starters in their system? I haven't looked at all the NL teams yet.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Heaney, Nicolino

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Thanks. I won't take a look at the NL East until January but I will keep those guys in my scope.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Both are very legit.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to lokeey:

    If it was Heyman's article, it's speculation. Here's the opening sentence: "Officials from the Cubs and Marlins both agree they may have something to talk about."

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not sure where, but it was the radio.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Just speculation. The Marlins don't have a single pitching prospect who is as good as the Cubs top 4 guys. It'd be equivalent to reaching for a need.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Not to mention, the speculation wrongly assumes the cubs don't want so many position player prospects.

    Targeting position players high in the draft is their primary strategy, so why the hell would they trade them for some pitchers in the back half if the top 100.

  • Based on Theo's comments on Cubs.com a couple of days ago regarding the closer role, I'm thinking they actually are going to go after a proven closer. He admitted they had guys available who could close so I don't see them bringing in another "could close" guy like Hunter, Venters, or Jepsen and bestowing him with the job over Strop and Grimm right out of the gate. Bailey makes sense for sure. Either way, I love the direction of finding a guy for the back end of the bullpen who's better than the guys we have now. The reason I love that so much is that I really like Strop, Grimm, and Parker! The pen has a chance to be special in 2014. You guys probably get tired of seeing me say this but if your team has 4 or 5 guys in the bullpen with ERA's in the 2's at the end of the year, your team has most likely just had a really good year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben20:

    ERAs in the 2.00 range without a lot of innings would make you a playoff team. The best teams have their starters go 6-7 innings then have two or three guys that completely shut it down. One of the principles of "The Cardinals Way"

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    There you go! Imagine our 2013 Solid-ish starting rotation with a lock down bullpen attached to it for an entire season. To me, 7-10M per for a closer is money very well spent.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    As as the closer doesnt walk hitters. Marmol blew at least three games over the first six or seven last year. Talk about a kick in the nuts to start the year off.

  • Mark Feinsand ‏@FeinsandNYDN 8m
    Source says Mariners have "no interest" in Ellsbury. Market looks thin, but source adds that Cubs are stealthily waiting in the wings.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Just don't see it unless the market completely collapses.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Remember how Michael Bourn worked out last year. It looked like after all the trades of CF'ers there wasn't a team willing to pay him close to what he wanted, then Cleveland gave him 4/48 that can vest to 5/60. He responded with his worst season in 5 years, at age 30. Ellsbury will be 30 next season. He's a better player than Bourn when healthy but still, he's been inconsistent his entire career and is not worth, IMO, much more than Bourn because of that. I can't see how he would fit in financially with the Cubs either. $15 mil + per that he will likely get in this market just doesn't make sense for that skill set that doesn't age well. I suppose on a 4 year or less deal there is less likelihood Ellsbury will decline too much but he's going to get at least 4 years, probably more from someone.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Just Win:

    Its hilarious to look back and see how wrong all those pro-Bourn posters were last year. The worse part was even that, it was the stubbornness in regards to how much they thought we "needed" him and refused to consider the 5ft tall amount of evidence that it would be a terrible signing and would have cost us Rob Zastryny this year. John was vehemently against it, as we're most of us here.

    I think those people have learned their lesson this off-season. Not as much of that going on. Not around here at least.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    I think we'll probably see a lot of "Cubs are waiting in the wings" rumors this offseason because the team has money and more holes than a game of Battleship. However, I'd wager most of them are coming from agents looking to help their clients -- much like the Michael Bourn rumors last winter.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Indeed. You also have to assume that the Cubs would need to pay a significant premium to land a guy like Ellsbury. We aren't expected to contend in 2014 and its a difficult sell to say we will compete in 15.

    I'll ask the question again - why would the Sox let Ellsbury walk? Is it because they have Jackie Bradley? If so, my response is - we have Almora who is widely viewed as a better prospect (though I agree that he is much farther away).

    I can see an argument (and one that I've made) that we need some veteran leadership and there is a need to generated some interest in the team.

    If you could spend 7/$110M for Ellsbury or 6/$140M for Tanaka - I'd say Tanaka as its the biggest need we have and he is 5 years younger...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I didn't even realize Boras is his agent. Definitely Bourn all over again.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    The premium goes way down when we're in January and Ellsbury hasn't signed. I think they're waiting for the guaranteed years to go down from 6 or 7 to 4 or perhaps 5. If its late January and he hasn't signed, and the Cubs swoop in at 4 years 66M or something in that range, he may sign that. That way he has another chance at a multi year deal at age 34. He's an interesting FA. He's a really good player but he's really not a 7 year guy. I think the Cubs would be ok with paying him 16 or so million a year but not for 7 years.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben20:

    Not necessarily. Bourn signed late and Fielder signed late too. Both still got paid.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Okay that's fair.

  • Boras will wait it out. He's known for that.

  • fb_avatar

    One thing though, hot stove talk is fun.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Just Win:

    Indeed!

  • It just seems like it is gonna be very difficult to obtain a legit number 1 guy for our rotation. Seems like the best way to get a TOR guy is to get a foreign player that wants to come to the MLB or hope you draft one. It just seems like trying to trade for one is gonna cost a lot of talent and players. And to get two teams to be completely satisfied with the move is gonna be a tough task. Any thoughts?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I agree.

    Seems like there are no easy ways to acquire a TOR pitcher these days. International market has big risks (Tanaka) and Free Agency prices have gone thru the roof to the point that your team has to be in "win-now" mode to make it even worthwhile spending that kind of money.

    We just have to be patient and ride this whole rebuild out to its conclusion and try to develop that TOR pitcher(s) from within our own system. It will take a while, but maybe not when you look at St. Louis and how they develop their young pitchers. They did it pretty fast.

  • Junior Lake , the Cubs 6'3" , 220lb , 5-Tool prospect played 64 games last year for the Cubs, that's 40% of the season, so it's not just a cup of coffee.

    In those 64 games his stat line was .284/.332/.428 with an OPS of .760
    He also had a .1000% fielding percentage in Left Field.

    I don't seen any reason that Junior is going to lose his job. He should be the Cubs starting LF from day one next year. It's not like we are going to be in the the thick of the playoff race. This is the time to let young players get their knocks. Did JR come up earlier than the FO wanted last year? Probably, but he played 40% of the season last year and held his own, there is absolutely NO reason to send Junior back down to AAA at this point and I'm positive that the FO feels the same way.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    The front office wants him to go to the minors *if he doesn't win the job* and if they have too many good players that is a really good problem to have.

    Also, the same people (not saying it is you Ghost Dawg) that are now saying Starlin Castro was brought up before he was fully developed are now asking that the Cubs do the same thing with Lake.

    Makes no sense. If he wins the job, give it to him. If not, more time at AAA cannot hurt him. It's a can't lose proposition. And it's a good problem to have.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    That makes sense. I guess I just hope Junior has a great spring then and wins the LF job outright.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Did Hoyer or Epstein say that he has to win the job again? I guess I missed that which is why I thought this was just crazy talk.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think what he said is that "ideally" Lake starts at AAA which to me would mean they have a better option in place short term. They have a policy of a minimum number of ABs and as they have shown with everything else, the rarely waver from that policy. So last year he had to come up because I believe Soriano was traded and Sweeney was injured.

    If you bring up a player like Lake you start him, that's the prudent move, he gains nothing sitting on the bench. But he still has some holes in his swing and as a perfect example, look at Will Middlebrooks - a very similar situation in 2012, he came up due to an injury, outperformed everybody's expectations, and then totally regressed last year, and needed to go back to the minors for six weeks to get it figured out.

    I don't think the Cubs would like that scenario for Lake. It hurts his growth and hurts his trade value.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Lake proved he can hold his own and then some. We has exciting and a spark for the team. Even if he has some things to work on, I'd like to see him work on those these up here, not a AAA. You work on hitting MLB pitching by facing MLB pitching. AAA is a step back and more likely to retard his progress. Since we're not gonna be competing for anything, its a no brainer to let him play up. I feel the same way about Baez and Bryant -- assuming they pound AA pitching for 2 or 3 months.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Lake is most likely a good utility player.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    Sorry, I disagree. If working on major league pitching was the only flaw in his game I could agree with you. But there are other aspects you need to learn that are better served to work on in the minors. He pulls everything. He is a horrible two-strike hitter. He's over-aggressive. He hasn't adjusted to inner-half pitches. He strikes out a lot (26.8%) and he rarely walks (5.1%) so he needs to work on pitch recognition and knowing the strike zone and really, not to be such a hack. His swing is messy. His contact rate is 66%. The league average is 79.7%. 255 major league plate appearances is a really small sample size. All those stats scream regression, and to boot he has an abnormally high BABIP, though, he has carried that for the past two years in the minors. He overcompensates because of bat speed and athleticism. Sometimes it works, but if you can still refine him and make him a better product, why wouldn't you?

    Your point that the Cubs won't win next year is not a point for keeping him up in the bigs, it is an argument for keeping him down until he is ready. It is much harder to unlearn bad habits against the best pitchers in baseball.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Hear, hear!

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Great post

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    Hoyer has already said that Baez will begin the year at AAA, not AA

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I'm with you on this. I feel like this Junior can start in AAA talk kinda came from nowhere.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    As I recall, we gave away Soriano in order to give Junior more playing time. So, why has that plan changed?

    Obviously, Junior is most productive when he leads off and is able to use his speed to beat out infield hits and the occasional bunt. Batting him 7th with Beef on 1st is part of the reason that Dale's mail is now being forwarded to KC.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to DropThePuck:

    They didn't trade Soriano to open a spot for Lake. They traded Soriano to get out from beneath as much of his contract as they could and still get a prospect in return.

    Sweeney was to take Soriano's place but he was injured and the Cubs called up Lake. In a full season Lake will be horribly exposed, but, he does have the tools to compensate somewhat as he showed this year, bunting for hits being one of those tools.

    He needs more time in the minors. Almost every baseball analyst agrees on this and I believe the Cubs front office does as well.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Soriano wasn't traded because of Lake. I will bet you $100 that Lake is not in the starting lineup when they make it to the Playoffs next time unless there is an injury. He is a utility player.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Now you are just being childish Kevin. You'll bet him $100 dollars, cmon?

    Also saying that Lake is for sure a utility player is completely ridiculous. He has 5 tools. Does he need work on his plate discipline? Yes. To say that you are positive that Lake is a utility player when both his talent and results over 40% of a season have shown otherwise is just ridiculous, and makes me take the other stuff you say with a giant grain of salt.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    255 plate appearances is a REALLY small sample size.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    64 games is 40% of the season - 254 PA is 3.9 PA per game

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    It's still a small sample size. Talk to me once has has had 550+ plate appearances.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    and I'm not saying that Junior will not be a utility player...just to say for certain that he is only a utility player is ridiculous when he is still so young, has all the talent needed to succeed, and has held his own in 40% of a MLB season already.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    A great comparison for 2013 Junior Lake is 1989 Dwight Smith, the exception being that Dwight Smith struck out about half as much. You guys are giving Junior Lake way too much credit. He's exciting. Exciting sells. It doesn't make you a 5-tool player.

    And FTR, Dwight Smith was a career platoon/utility player.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    First, let me say that Junior Lake does not have above average or elite power, so he is not a 5-tool player.

    Looking at what defines a 5-Tool Player:

    1. Run -- Speed - well speed is speed
    2. Hit -- Hit for average vs. contact rate
    3. Power -- Hit for power vs. Home Runs per Batted Ball (HR/(PA-K-BB-HBP))
    4. Fielding ability UZR
    5. Throwing ability UZR

    Run -- Lake has speed.
    Hit -- His contact rate is 66%., well below the league average. To further define the hitting tool look at these criteria:

    I'll check off Lake if I think he possesses the tool --
    The ability to turn on a major league fastball. √
    The ability to consistently hit the ball hard. √
    Knowledge of the strike zone NO
    The ability to consistently hit breaking pitches. NO
    The ability to hit to all fields. NO
    The ability to make adjustments at the plate when fooled. NO

    Therefore: Junior Lake doesn't have an above average or elite hit tool.

    Hit For Power -- using the formula above I'll give four examples:
    Junior Lake .035
    Mike Trout .060
    Dom Brown .067
    Chris Davis .135

    I used Trout because he is a true 5 tool player. I'd say Dom Brown and Mike Trout have above average power, Davis has elite power and Lake is not even an average power hitter.

    For throwing and fielding, just use UZR.

    Lake is 5.1 / ( -2.1) / 3.7 in LF / CF / RF -- good but not elite. Above Average UZR is 5.0 so he is barely average as a LF and average to below average in CF/RF. In this case, sample size is a problem when grading Lake because he only played 996 innings in the field.

    So saying Lake is a 5-tool player is you reaching as much as you feel Kevin is reaching when he says Lake is a UT player. The fact is that Junior Lake is much closer to a UT player or 4th OF right now than he is a 5-tool player.

    He has gobs of potential, but he has a long way to go to realize that potential.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Sorry, you can't scout stats Michael. That's not the way it works.

    5 Tools

    1. Speed - Lake has it in spades, in the field and on the basepaths
    2. Arm - Lake has a strong, above average arm, plenty for an OF
    3. Defensive ability - Lake has both the Athletecism, speed, and arm to play the OF
    4. Bat Speed to hit for Average - Lake has it, and that's what determines the Hit tool, NOT his stats. Plate discipline can be learned.
    5. Ability to hit for Power - Lake has it, he could hit 25 hr, and 40 doubles

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I can't scout stats? That is incorrect not to mention I saw almost all of his at bats last year. Junior lake is NOT a five tool player. You can have all the bat speed in the world but if you don't actually make contact with the ball what good is it?

    25 HR and 40 doubles? Let's look at how many players did that last year shall we?

    In the NL - Jay Bruce
    In the AL - Chris Davis, Robinson Cano. Mike Trout missed it by one double.

    I need not go further, but stats are quantifiable and if I cannot scout stats, for the sake of argument, please tell me when you expect Junior Lake to be Cano, Davis, Trout or Bruce.

    Junior Lake had 6 HR and 16 doubles. At 550 plate appearances, that comes out to 13 HR and 35 doubles. Based on his contact rate, the doubles or home runs may increase but it will be at the expense of the other, right? Or, since we are doing best/worst case scenario, he may just hit more fly ball outs. I mean theoretically that's possible.

    Now you say plate discipline can be learned but you are in not so many words admitting he doesn't have it. It's okay, his quantifiable stats, which I cannot scout, say he has no plate discipline. He may never have it. I've seen pitchers run him inside and eat him alive. He never adjusted. I've seen those same pitchers follow with low and away and watched him miss by a foot.

    Now do you really think that batting in a lineup with no protection against the best pitchers in baseball is going to teach him to have better discipline? Is it going to help him make adjustments?

    Whether I am scouting stats or simply watching Lake play makes no difference. You are confusing potential with capability. They are not the same thing. Right now Junior Lake is Dwight Smith. Go compare the two. It's crazy close. Neither is/was a five-tool player.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think you're confusing the terms "toolsy" and "five tool". Junior is toolsy but his hit tool is what's up in the air after the small sample. He does have the tools to become more than just a utility player. The fact that he's only played OF should shut the door on the utility role. I'm guessing what Gallo means is that he's a 4th OF.

    To me, Junior Lake is not a guy that is going to create most of his own opportunities over the course of his career. In other words, he's a guy who will be able to find opportunities by guys being hurt or traded, or prospects not panning out. Guys like that have value in their own right and tend to have decent careers like Luis Valbuena and Reed Johnson, who have both been solid regulars at different points but have never kicked a door down and carved out their own niche. I think Junior's career will be a lot like theirs based on what I've seen so far. The x-factor here is that he has the tools to be more. If he were a five tool guy though, there would be no debate about his future by all of us. He'd be carved in there.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Does Lake have the defensive versatility to be a utility player?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cleme:

    hmmm to some degree. He could play at least 2/3rds of the outfield, was playing 3rd base in AAA and might be able to play short in an emergency. He has versatility, but you won't mistake him for a gold-glover.

    Junior isn't being "rushed" at this point, guys. He kind of "is what he is." There's not much more room for seasoning at AAA. He's been in the organization the same length of time as Castro.

    It confuses me when people on this board that are clearly on board with the rebuild (as am I) get squeemish about playing young guys. Our rostered outfielders on opening day could be Lake, Bogusevic, Sweeney, Schierholtz, and Matt Sczur/Josh Vitters. And guess what, that's ok. If we add Choo, Ellsbury or some other clear upgrade through a frugal signing or trade, that's even better.

    But I don't understand the fretting over rostering Lake who played well and really sparked the team. What message does that send him when he gets demoted despite outperforming every other holdover outfielder during his time in the majors(Sweeney's injury, Schierholtz's mild slump, Dejesus lackluster fielding and eventual trade)? What message does that send other young guys? "Roster Jenga and taking walks is more important than performing to my ceiling."? If Chris Young or Guittierez make this team OVER Lake, and not with him, I think it's a case of the front office out-thinking themselves.

    Hey, I'm the guy that wanted play Watkins over Barney though.

  • In reply to Theo Einstein:

    I think if we had to have some hope for Junior Lake being that type of player. You could look at a player like Carlos Gomez. Pretty similar players...

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Lake doesn't understand the game yet. He is all instinct. Once the league clues into his weaknesses he's toast.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Absolutely agree. No reason whatsoever for him not to be the opening day left fielder. I hope he's somewhere doing something to get better as we speak.

  • John, I just read a blurb about us being a fit with the marlins to trade for some of their top arms- Bryant, baez, & almora were mentioned. Now, I know nothing about the marlins top arms- but please tell me this is just bad speculation. I feel like the possibility of a those three playing at wrigley for a solid decade is too promising of a core to mess with. Especially when we can nab a big time pitcher or two when we do start spending. What do you think. Am I wrong and am I getting too attached to these kids? I get there's no can't miss prospects.

  • In reply to MikeyB:

    Bryant & Baez might only be 1/2 a year away from being Cubs. They are both Role 7 players. The Cubs are NOT trading them for pitching prospects. It's pure speculation.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    What is a Role 7 player?

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    1st division All-Star

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Awesome! Thanks!!!

  • In reply to MikeyB:

    Bad speculation. I haven't found anybody to corroborate. The Cubs top 3 prospects are better than anything Marlins have to offer in terms of pitching. Not going to happen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And Bryant can't be traded yet.

  • I find it amusingly sad that the Cubs claim they are looking for a closer. What's wrong with Blake Parker and Pedro Strop. I thought the whole purpose of September was to find out if one of the two could close. Are they now saying that neither are good enough to close?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to JeffK:

    They are saying that a true closer makes their bullpen tons more productive because they can leave those guys in their proven roles as dominant set up men.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Unfortunately, Dale disagreed with you and wasted Sept. running Kevin Gregg out there. Same situation at 2b where Dale sat Watkins while watching Barney's BA free fall. Just another reason why Dale's mail is now being forwarded to KC.

    But, that's OK. We'll figure out our closer in ST. Just like last year.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    I think all they are saying is they want to get some depth there. You want to count on those guys for closer? I'm not sure I do. They dont need to spend on a name closer, but I think a veteran with the ability to pitch late in games can only help.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Depth is OK but we do have Strop and Grimm that could close. Black is close for a tryout as well. There are also quite a few projected as closers as well. Weather the storm see what you have and adjust accordingly. We do need another starter IMO. I think Lake should stay wit the big club as well.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Strop might be able to handle it, but I do agree.
    A veteran is a very smart, cautious move.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    The bullpen was weak. They want it to be stronger. What could possibly be so amusingly sad about that? What's wrong with looking for better guys than the ones you have? Better yet, they know they have two or three decent options already so why not bring in an option that is a little bit better? Then theoretically you'd have a great option to go along with all the other good/decent options you already had. I would characterize that as refreshingly pleasant.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Completely agree with what you said here and above, Ben. Pick up guy(s) to build a strong pen now with reinforcements coming in the next couple years. Winning close games builds the attitude we want to see.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    You're so right about winning close games. There's not a single thing that demoralizes a team (and a fan base) more than losing a lead late. Wilson would be my guy. Two years 15-17 M.

  • Jim Callis ‏@jimcallisMLB 1m
    #Cubs OFAlbert Almora just made terrific running, over-the-shoulder catch to rob Eddie Rosario in deep RC. Future Gold Glover.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Good stuff!

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Almora also hit a rocket to center field off of Twins phenom Alex Meyer, who was throwing 99mph today. Salt Lake is trailing tonight, if they lose, Mesa will be in the championship game on Saturday. Soler with a double to right field and a walk.

  • I see in an ESPN.com piece Boras is bashing the Cubs for not spending more money. I have always hated Boras and his tactics. This just smacks of desperation on his part. I hate that he normally gets his way.

  • In reply to Cubs4Life:

    The Cubs are spending money, just not an obscene amount on veteran FAs. They are spending on acquiring elite prospects, development facilities and developing the prospects. It all takes money. Boras just doesn't like the way we are allocating our spending. Too Bad.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    Amen.

  • fb_avatar

    Boras can see the lay of the land is changing. Signing big name FA by the boatload days are coming to a close. It's a new era where teams are signing their "core" guys way before they reach FA status. Boras' tactic just don't work as well as they used to and his days are numbered.

    Couldn't happen to a nicer guy if you ask me...

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Don't know about "nicer" but I can't thinking of a more "deserving" guy!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    Boras will adjust. He always does. And he still represents those guys who sign extensions and he gets percentages of all their revenue streams. I don't like him but he is the best at his business. He always has an angle and he always finds the loophole.

    I imagine when he retires it will be a celebratory day for a lot of people. But that guy will probably work until the day he dies.

  • fb_avatar

    My wishlist-
    1. Accelerate this rebuild a little and go all in on Tanaka.
    2. Package Samardzija and spare parts to acquire a young ace. (Gioloto, Bradley)
    3. Sign Kurt Suzuki, Mark Ellis and Josh Johnson/Scott Baker.
    4. Draft a young pitcher with the #4 pick.

  • fb_avatar

    And in terms of Brett Anderson, that's not a bad idea.
    But trading with Billy, you know we'll have to give up Candelario.

  • fb_avatar

    my wishlist-
    (assuming we don't get tanaka)
    1. trade shierholtz for some sort of pitching.
    2. sign granderson. what we get for sheirholtz is equivalent of the pick to me.
    3. sign benoit. bullpen bullpen bullpen. will win you games you shouldn't win.
    4. look for MORE bullpen help. take a flyer on almost anyone with a hard fastball.
    5. sign kazmir or josh johnson.

    bonus i heard texas was shopping ian kinsler... thoughts?

Leave a comment