Sifting through the position player bargain bin

Sifting through the position player bargain bin
Travis Snider

Yesterday I was among many invited to attend the On Deck 14 event in which both Crane Kenney and Theo Epstein spoke about the club's future both from a business and baseball standpoint.  I will have a recap on that event for tomorrow since there are still season ticket holders who have not yet attended.

Epstein re-emphasized the farm system and once again reminded us of the perils of free agency.  The average free agent player is 32 years old and on the downside of his career.  He's likely to be overvalued and paid on past performance.  Don't expect the Cubs to be doing a lot of that this offseason. He noted that of the 50 rostered players in the latest World Series, 35 of them came from the farm system or from trades involving those prospects.  The Cubs top prospects are coming.  It seems that most of them will be here by 2015 and it won't be long after that the Cubs can sort out their prospect depth and make trades for veterans to fill additional holes.

While much of the excitement has been about the potential position player free agents available, it's not realistic that the Cubs will sign a major free agent such as Robinson Cano or Jacoby Ellsbury even though both would be great short term fits for the club.  Reported asking prices are going through the roof and it's very difficult to see where the Cubs will find value.

The Cubs are loaded with position player prospects along with young stars Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Welington Castillo.  Spending a lot on a free agent who is already in his 30s may be a bit premature.  But there are interesting players to be found in less expensive places.

There are alternatives for the short term.

There's nothing exciting about the bargain bin.  Future star players rarely get non-tendered or become minor league free agents.  They're usually fringe MLB players but that doesn't mean there isn't some talent.  Unfortunately, what you only see is unfulfilled talent.  Optimistically, you can label them as players that didn't yet live up to expectations.  These are the kinds of acquisitions that may not have much in star power, but they can be the most intriguing pick-ups for scouts and front offices.  Everyone can identify the big names, but there is something more gratifying about picking up that little known name that winds up being a solid contributor at great value.

Often the more intriguing talent is traded.  It's an avenue the Cubs have taken in the past, but it has not worked out well for them in general with the most notable flops being the trades for Chris Volstad and Ian Stewart.  But neither cost the Cubs much to at least take a look.  Volstad cost the Cubs Carlos Zambrano while Stewart cost the Cubs replacement level utility infielder D.J. LeMahieu and the recently DFA'd Tyler Colvin.  As disappointing as Stewart was, it was essentially risk free gamble on a talent ballplayer.  In that sense, I still see it as a move the Cubs would do again if given the opportunity.  It just might work out next time and even if it doesn't, it's almost certainly not going to come back to haunt you.

There are also minor league free agents.  And while you aren't likely to ever find a David Ortiz type player again, a good example of a recent find by this particular front office is Chris Denorfia, now of the San Diego Padres,who was signed as a minor league free agent in 2009 by Jed Hoyer and has gone on to be a solid starter, including a 3.9 WAR year last season.

So what's the harm in rummaging, right?  You aren't risking much and you never know when you're going to find a useful piece of the puzzle.  We've already seen the Cubs bring in Aaron Cunningham as a minor league free agent.    He's a fit in terms of plate discipline and solid defense.  He's also been a good minor league hitter and some believe there is power potential there.  There is certainly no harm in finding out.

Potential non-tenders are as listed by MLB Trade Rumors and minor league free agents taken as listed from Baseball America

Potential Non-Tenders

Drew Stubbs OF:  Strikeouts are an issue but he's an athlete with some pop and discipline.  He offers a RH platoon bat for either Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney, or Bryan Bogusevic.  Stubbs is 29 and wouldn't be so much an upside play as a short term fill-in who fits the Cubs profile until the prospects arrive.

Travis Snider, OF: As a LH hitting corner OF'er, he's probably a bit redundant, but Snider's name has come up before when the Cubs would talk trade with the Jays.  They can now offer him a chance to compete with Bogusevic for a spot.  He'll still be just 26 for the entire 2014 season, just entering his prime.

Scott Sizemore, 2B-3B: Sizemore is a 28 year old versatile, RH hitting infielder who can play 2B and 3B.  He showed a solid approach at the plate with some pop in the minors but injuries have derailed the start of his major league career.  If healthy, he could come in and bring some competition for an infield spot.

Nolan Reimold, OF: Just turned 30, Reimold was once a solid corner OF prospect for the Orioles but like Sizemore, injuries have been an issue.  He's another guy with a good approach, some power, and a RH bat to platoon in the OF.

Minor league free agents

Jake Smolinski, OF: Smolinski will be just 25 next season and while he's never been a great hitter, he'd be a RH bat to add to the mix, he's versatile though he isn't particularly strong at any position, having played 3B and all 3 OF positions.  He has the kind of plate discipline the team likes.  Could make a 5th OF'er.  He also happens to be local, hailing from Rockford, IL.

Zelous Wheeler, 3B: An athletic 3B who moves from SS, Wheeler can be thrown into the infield mix, perhaps as a player to compete for Donnie Murphy's platoon spot with Luis Valbuena if Mike Olt isn't ready to start the season.  Wheeler is a good contact hitter with discipline and extra base power.

Sawyer Carroll, OF: He's been a sleeper prospect in the Padres system so this front office knows him well.  Like Smolinski he's an OF'er who probably fits as a corner and as your 4th or 5th guy but he'll take a walk, make consistent solid contact and is still just 27.  In a way he reminds me of Ryan Sweeney because he's a big 6'4" OF'er who has never hit for the kind of power you'd expect from his build.

Max Ramirez, C: Remember him?  Ramirez spent spring training with the Cubs in 2011 but was optioned to AAA and then released soon after.  He's a good hitter with some power and plate discipline, though his defense is lacking a bit.  With Welington Castillo ready to assume full-time duties, the Cubs may just want an inexpensive back-up should they not be able to re-sign Navarro.  Edit: Ramirez signed with the Red

Chris Marreo, 1B:  This would be a pure depth pickup as Anthony Rizzo is entrenched at 1B.  The Cubs current emergency 1B, Brad Nelson, is himself a free agent.  The difference is Marreo is still just 25 years old and still has time to develop into a useful asset, though he hasn't really come close to the potential the Nationals once believed he had.

 

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  • fb_avatar

    I cannot wait to read the comments on this post.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yeah, it isn't the kind of column that gets people exciting. It's a sobering look at reality :)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sobering. For The Win.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Haha. Wake me up when this season is over.

  • I would like to see the Cubs obtain a backup catcher that can be a mentor for Castillo. However, if we add Henry Blanco to the coaching staff, I would feel better about a Max Ramirez pickup.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    He just signed with somebody i think the Reds.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Henry Blanco as the catching coach can mentor Beef and provide that comfort zone for him.It works for me.

  • Funny to see this article John... Here's what I posted on Thursday in the Mike Olt article:

    "John... We have talked several times about the Cubs non-tender candidates... But how about the non-tender candidates out there that could be good picks?

    Travis Snider, Seth Smith, Andrew Bailey, Mitchell Boggs, Scott Elbert, Daniel Hudson, Jose Mijares, Jeff Neimann, Esmil Rogers, Joe Thatcher and Jonny Venters (although the latter one has a very questionable arm, after 2 TJ surgeries)... Either way, I like those names as flyers or minor league deals."

    I like Travis Snider because he's got some upside and is still very young... Could be a late bloomer.

    I know Mike Partipilo will like reading Smolinski name there.

    Oh and John, about Max Ramirez... The Reds signed him to a minor league deal yesterday, if I'm not mistaken.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I thought about Smith too. And some of those pitchers will be on the pitcher version of this article :)

    Thanks on Max. I made the edit.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Awesome... I think there's some interesting options from the non-tender list... Thanks for the article.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Caps:

    Sizemore and Snider may be interesting players to watch..... Venters may be a low risk pick up but being a TJ player will have his every move watched and crtitiqued like Viscaino has. Mlb network was just talking about Stubbs being an interesting non tender as well

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Sad but true... Vizcaino is something like 22-23 and is already considered a bust before he even gets a real shot.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I'd like to add that he's being considered a bust "by some"... Not everybody.

  • In reply to Caps:

    It seems Cubs more likely to look for pitching.

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    John, did Theo mention anything about trades? By my count the Cubs have a high number of pitchers (9 or 10) that are guaranteed roster spots. That's if I understand the rules correctly, and admittedly I do not. If I'm right, and with no trades, we pretty much know the entire staff right now, right? I'm probably overthinking this.

    I'm just trying to figure out what spots are actually open, minus any trades, to add new players.

  • One big change I'd recommend for today's sessions. No more 5 minutes of Dave Kaplan questions. The guys has opportunity to ask Theo, Crane questions all the time on his various shows. They had about 10 minutes for fan questions and used half of it up for predictable Kaplan Q's. what was the point of that?

    Overall - I thought the session OK. Theo made up for the fact crane Kenney went on too long and I felt like us I was in a market research study with about 50 minutes of videos.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Good point. Fans only got to ask about 5 questions.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Less time for fan questions makes it less likely a negative question comes up.

  • John, By the end of next week how many spots will be available
    on their 40-man roster. I'm for signing anyboby, not to old, who
    could help them in 2014 or beyond

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Hard to say. Depends on what kind of moves they make.

  • Stubbed would work. Speed, some pop, and should bounce back up a tick returning to nl central.

    Most curious about who the FO will reach out for a closer. It needs to be someone with a very low BB rate but no idea who is out there to sign or trade for. I almost prefer Strop in the 8th inning.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rbirby:

    Isn't Fujikuwama due back by opening day?

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    According the the last things I read - he isn't expected to be ready for opening day - better expected sometime during the Summer.

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    Drew Stubbs might be an interesting add - hadn't thought much about him.

    Although - he's kind of the established version of what Brett Jackson would potentially bring (at least ceiling-wise) to the mix and Jackson would be cheaper.

    Although - Jackson's celing and Stubb's floor heavily intersect. Cold do worse that Stubbs I suppose depending on his asking price.

  • Reading the comments in the Trib this morning from Theo, I am now convinced that Castro is going to be traded. What Theo is looking for in a player is not what Castro is. And though Theo does say in part that the message the team was giving out to players hurt, I think they realize they cannot change Castro to what they want, and therefore he will likely be traded.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Duck!

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    If they is so then trade him to the AL. Must get 2 of a teams top
    5 prospects and more

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    So Theo signs Castro to a long contract just to trade him a year and a half later? That makes sense.

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    In reply to Demarrer:

    Theo may actually not be perfect.

    Key to successful people is to recognize when you made a mistake and don't repeat/get married to it.

    This by no indication am I saying Castro is going to be traded this winter, but I guarantee he will be shopped.

    Most people here knew when this FO came that since Castro was not there type of player, that his game would have to evolve or his time may be in jeopardy plus signing him to that long deal increases his trade value.

    What I am scared about is Baez is not really a Theo type player either. hopefully he makes the necessary adjustments next year.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I don't think he'll be shopped -- if nothing else because he doesn't need to be shopped. Castro is the kind of player teams call about.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You are right. Teams will be going coming to the Cubs. I think the same thing will happen with Samardzija. Teams will come to the Cubs.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    In my mind the extension only makes Castro more tradeable, every gm looks for young cost controlled talent.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    That's not the impression I got from listening to him speak yesterday. He seemed to think that the coaching staff messed him up more than anything.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    But where does he bat in the lineup? 7th. I will forever see him as a 7th place hitter. It's as though he should have said "We got ahead of ourselves on that one." with this contract too. Just because they extended him doesn't mean that they can't trade him,too.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    Even if that happens, a solid average defensive shortstop hitting 7th at his price is a bad thing?

    And scout I talked to the other day-- who was pretty balanced between criticism and praise, thinks he can be much more than that if he learns to focus. Theo talked about his need to focus as well.

    And the other side of the equation is, "if all he is is a 7th place hitter" why would you think that would bring anything worthwhile in return?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    ^This. I see him as a 6 hitter, and not in a bad way at all. All he has to do is be a 20 WAR player by 2019 to be over his value for the contract, and that's using the fangraphs 3M per WAR for SS through 2012, I'm sure it went up the last two years and will go up over the course of his contract.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Well, if he can return to some semblance of pre-Dale Svuem for, possibly. If not, your statement is just as likely not to apply.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Well, if he can return to some semblance of pre-Dale Svuem form, possibly. If not, your statement is just as likely not to apply.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, I might know through being around him for two years that he is a 7th place hitter for my team. Other teams around baseball, particularly in the AL, who haven't had as much exposure to him may not.

    And sorry, John. No, I don't extend that.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    There is so much information and so much advanced scouting that I don't think any team from any other city knows less than we as fans do. In fact, they very likely know a lot more.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    I understand that some teams actually have scouts that watch the other teams. It is possible that some of them know as much about Castro as we do.

    Who knows? Even those teams that have no scouts might have someone that reads this blog and knows how bad Castro is.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    They believe its an environmental thing and it maybe.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Ha! Just said something similar (except the part about reading the blog).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It is lack of maturity is the cause of the lack of focus.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    The two often go hand in hand. The good part of that is Castro is 23. If he were 28, I'd be a lot more worried.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But then you look at players like Almora and Bryant who are very mature.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    People are different. Some mature early, some mature late...and some never mature at all. When you're 23, though, there's still time.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    John,
    I used them has an example of the type of players Theo, Jed and Jason look for.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    that is good to hear.

  • Castillo took a huge step forward last year and I still believe in Rizzo and Castro but to refer to them as "young stars" is a bit much.

  • In reply to Eric:

    They are under 25 that's young.

  • In reply to Eric:

    You're probably right. Young potential stars or young talents would have been better.

  • Scott Sizemore is an intriguing guy. The rest, pass.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    I like him too

    Although Nolan Reimold has shown flashes of being a real player

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I like Reimold as well.

  • fb_avatar

    In defense of Theo, he made those huge signings like Crawford, Lackey, etc not because he necessarily wanted these players. You have to understand the dynamic of being a GM in Boston at a time when the Yankees were the spending Yankees of the past. If Boston didn't sign a big name free agent, then they went to the Yankees. That is exactly how the system played out for a 4-5 year period. The system forced Theo to sign players he would never choose to sign. Anytime he didn't sign a big name, it was guaranteed that the enemy would snatch him up. He cannot be blamed for that atmosphere of spending as he was thrust into it.

    Theo's game is the small game. I feel like he loves maximizing talent anywhere he can. Even if he can find a better 5th outfielder than the one he has, or a better back up catcher than the one he has, he will because he knows those incremental increases in talent can slowly add up to the value of the team as a whole. We are witnessing the type of President Theo always wanted to be. He wants to be able to acquire who he wants, but he loves the diamonds in the rough. I feel like for him, its a throwback to feeling like he is showing his "small market" abilities.

    This opportunity with the Cubs is a way to show that Theo and Co. are not just a bunch of check writers. They are showing how they build a team from the ground up. Ben Cherington should be given credit for the World Series win, but that core MLB players and the stability of the minor leagues was due to Theo. Boston ownership knows this, which is why they try to screw over Theo any chance they get from their lingering feelings of bitterness of him leaving. They are petty, for sure, but wouldn't you be too when you know a baseball mind like Theo's just left your team?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to the real alman:

    I like this perspective. Great points.

  • In reply to the real alman:

    Well said.

  • In reply to the real alman:

    The ability to 'write some checks' will come in handy in a year or two (or three). But isn't really what the Cubs need at the moment IMO.

    At some point - it will become clearly obvious what it is that the developing Cubs roster is lacking. My guess - it will be a frontline legit #1 pitcher. But stocking the farm system with trading chips and getting to trade off a chip or two or three for a good frontline pitcher is just as good a way to get that 'guy' when you really need him.

    I think the offense will take care of itself and the defense will take care of itself, and the relif pitching can largely be built from within.

    For now - keep the FA signings short-term and relatlvely low budget.

  • Is there any chance the Cubs could package Samardzija and Castro?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Phaedrus:

    It would have to be a blockbuster. I don't know what teams would be or have what the Cubs would want for 2 of there best assets.

    Cleveland indians perhaps? Maybe a Justin Masterson reunion?

  • Until 2015, and hopefully more money to spend, we just have to
    continue signing low cost players

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Timing will be nice.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Until 2015, and hopefully more money to spend, we SHOULD continue signing low cost players.

  • fb_avatar

    Smolinski would be an excellent fit. He's versatile, having played every position as a professional except SS, C and P. He has gap power and hits his share of doubles every year. Smol has shown good discipline, draws walks, rarely K's and while he doesn't put up great numbers, he has been very consistent at every level.

  • Broadly speaking , John is this what we can roughly expect from offseason ?:
    1. Strategic FA signing of a SP-think Johnson or bringing Baker back.
    2. A little dumpster diving for a RH OFer-think Chris Young
    3. Here's where things MAY get interesting -a trade of either Shark or Castro. Assuming it's highly unlikely both are moved. Purpose would be to acquire front-line potential SP prospects or young vets.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think it starts with Tanaka. Jed Hoyer said in no uncertain terms that the Cubs would be in on Tanaka.

    IF, and it is capitalized for a reason, they do get him, needs and opportunities change. Don't get him, and the team and outlook is a little different.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    We aren't getting Tanaka, plain & simple. What do we expect them to say? We were "in" in Darvish & Ryu, also. I think our expectations need to be a bit more modest. NYY is all business this offseason . If not them, LAD or TEX will nab him.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Out of curiosity, based on what are you so emphatic that the Cubs won't get Tanaka?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I do not think the Cubs will get Tanaka either. They may be all in, but the Dodgers and Yankees will be all in and then some. It's not like we think the Cubs won't try. But other teams will be absolutely ridiculous, I'm sure. Hoping though.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    They won't commit the resources Yanks & Dodgers will, for starters. Secondly, posting changes may give him some choice in matter, which isn't good for us.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    That would be the only reason to trade either.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think so. I think teams will call about Castro and other young talented players but I don't see a deal going down until the Cubs are blown away. But if you think about it, at least part of the reason they're calling is to try and buy low. The contract situation with Samardzija makes him the most likely of the three core players, but I'd be a little surprised if any were actually moved this offseason. I get the feeling the Cubs want to take another shot with this core and see what happens with the young players in 2014.

  • This:

    "The Cubs top prospects are coming. It seems that most of them will be here by 2015 and it won't be long after that the Cubs can sort out their prospect depth and make trades for veterans to fill additional holes."

    Castro may be traded, but not yet. Until the prospects arrive in force, no one knows where the holes will be.

    The only reason Samardzija may be traded is the continuing difficulty in getting an extension signed.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Is major issue the no trade?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Is this in reference to Samardzija's contract negotiations? I only know what I read on this site which leaves me to understand it is all about money.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Yes. I thought theo doesn't like to give out no trade clauses?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    That is my understanding (again, from reading this site), but I have no memory of reading that Samardzija is demanding a no trade clause... doesn't mean he isn't.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Wonder how far apart the two sides are?

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    We have heard he is looking for that. I think what he really wants is to be assured he won't be traded before the team is competitive. He believes they are closer to winning than many fans do.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good it is cool to hear/see a player that wants to stick around for that.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Its about Samardzija wants a NTC and Theo/Jed don't give them out.

  • I'd give some consideration to John Mayberry Jr., Tommy Hanson, & Jeff Niemann, too. Of course, I mention those pitchers not knowing their health status.

  • I thought about Mayberry. In fact, he was on my original list. Those two arms may be on my pitcher version of this article.

  • John. U did some good research to find those names. I am not familiar with most on it. My concern or question for you is. If the cubs go out and get one or two of the outfielders you mentioned does that mean lake and bogo will start in AAA to get more time to develop?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Thank you.

    I think you bring them in as competition for Lake and to give you an option. Lake probably needs some more seasoning in AAA and if you can give him another half year, that would probably benefit him and the team in the long run.

    Bogusevic is a bit older and doesn't need time in AAA, he is who he is so if you get a lefty like Snider, it would be with the intention of upgrading and getting a bit younger.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is there a league in the off season for veteran minor leaguers like Brett Jackson or josh vitters? I hope they can bounce back. I assume they will be at spring training ?

  • My neighbor went to Boylan hs with Smolinski, I remember him being over a couple of times. Can't say I've ever seen him play though.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    My son played at Boylan too, but is a couple of years younger than Jake. Former Cub farmhand Matt Weber also attended Boylan

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I didn't know Matt, but that's awesome! I'm from South Beloit, so anyone I know from Boylan is via my neighbor (who got "asked" to go there for football). I'm a couple years younger than Jake, however.

  • fb_avatar

    Went to the afl game yesterday-my videos suck but I have a couple of comments:

    Soler let a foul pop fall in front of him as a result of a very lazy effort. Fans of other teams commented as well-the play stuck out like a sore thumb.

    Bryant walked twice, struck out twice and grounded out. He saw a lot of pitches and seemed very patient. Made a very agile play on a slow roller at third but also muffed two- one ended in a force play- the other an error.

    Almora is mr. Smooth in the outfield-he played left field.

    Soler does have a quick bat and it jumps off his bat.

    Washington prospect Sammy Sollis looked really good. Hard throwing lefty.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Dale Miller:

    Soler still isn't moving 100% on that leg. Looking back, could it be that it was a "timid" effort, rather than a lazy effort?

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Good point. He may have even been told to tone it down.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm pretty sure he was... The other day he struck out on a ball that bounced in front of the plate and he didn't run to 1B... He didn't even attempted... And even when he's running from HP to 1B, he's not running at full speed and even kind of limping at times... I don't think it's laziness... If it was, I think he would've been benched after too many incidents... Even Soler said it himself that he's not at 100% yet during an interview.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed. I think that has to be the case or he would have been benched or even sent home by now. The Cubs very likely just want him to get his swings in and his timing back. Make up some of the ABs he missed. They don't need him trying to get infield hits.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Yes, in a recent interview, Soler said himself that he still wasn't 100%. I believe that he's in AZ stritckly to get AB's for his timing. Running right now is an after thought, imo.....

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    I like Solis one of my favorite LHP prospects.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    He looked really impressive. Really attacked hitters-plus fastball, not sure I'd curve or off speed stuff as highly but he throws hard with movement. Reminded me of a left handed Big Z-of course when he was good.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Yeah is FB is a 65/65 CB is a 50/55 CU is 60/70. His command is average but I think he could have above average command.

  • fb_avatar

    Ill say it again - I love the optimism on the site about the pipe line
    of prospects that is coming - however in the article above

    "replacement level utility infielder D.J. LeMahieu and the recently DFA'd Tyler Colvin."

    lets remember Colvin was a 1st round pick and - I believe LeMahieu was a 2nd rounder - so the pipe line is suspect at best until proven otherwise

    KC has been rated in the top farm system - some of those guys arent working out - same with Seattle - Dustin Ackley was a top 10 pick, Justin Smoak - big prospect.

    Im not a big Dusty fan - but he used to call prospects - suspects
    and I understand why.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    You do know you are talking about two different FOs right.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    so your saying

    this time its different -
    Call me skeptical - Why is Hoyer - better and smarter than everyone
    on this list?

    Randy Bush (Interim) August 2011 - October 2011
    Jim Hendry July 2002 - August 2011
    Andy MacPhail July 2000 - July 2002
    Ed Lynch October 1994 - July 2000
    Larry Himes November 1991 - October 1994
    Jim Frey November 1987 - October 1991
    Dallas Green October 1981 - October 1987

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to deport soriano com:

    Theo/Hoyer/McCleod have a long track record of success. Nobody hits on 100% of their picks, not even in the first round, but they have consistently had quality major league ready talent in their farm systems. That's starting to show up here in Chicago.

    For various reasons with the past GM's, we didn't have owners who understood the value of investing in the farm system and drafting/signing international talent, coupled with some GM's who put all their eggs in the win now approach. Not all of it was the GM's fault, ownership was to blame for a big chunk of it. Look at the last (and only) class Hendry was allowed to spend money on. Tim Wilken had a long record of good drafts in Toronto, did he suddenly become an idiot when he came to the Cubs? LOL. No, he ran into an owner who refused to put money into the draft. That's why Tyler Colvin was drafted, from what I understand, a huge reach that they would sign under slot price. That's the type of picks a front office is stuck making when owners refuse to spend on the draft. Thankfully Ricketts is not only smart but patient. He also hired some great people. This should all start to pay off around 2015 when the team is going to be much more fun to watch and we start to have a pretty steady supply of prospects ready to fill needs every year or so.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    Some of the guys drafted under Theo/Hoyer/McLeod in Boston that have become big leaguers (some were traded)

    2003, their first draft:
    OF David Murphy (traded to Texas for Eric Gagne)
    OF Matt Murton
    RP Jonathan Papelbon
    2004:
    2b Dustin Pedroia
    and 5 fringe players have reached the majors
    2005:
    OF Jacoby Ellsbury
    SP Clay Buchholz
    SS Jed Lowrie
    plus 7 other players including 2 future first rounders they were unable to sign, 3b Pedro Alvarez and C Jason Castro
    2006:
    RP Daniel Bard (recent Cubs pickup)
    SP Justin Masterson
    OF Josh Reddick
    1B Brandon Belt (unsigned)
    plus 8 other players who have reached the majors
    2007:
    Will Middlebrooks
    Anthony Rizzo
    Justin Grimm (unsigned, drafted higher by Rangers)
    Yasmani Grandal (unsigned, drafted higher by Reds)
    and 4 other players in the majors
    2008:
    SS/P Casey Kelly (traded with Rizzo and Fuentes for Adrian Gonzalez)
    and 6 other players
    2009:
    P Raymond Fuentes
    plus 2 others so far have already reached the majors
    2010: Theo's first draft in Boston without McLeod and Hoyer:
    This is where most of the prospects for any team are still working their way up. Red Sox have OF Bryce Bentz, P Anthony Reynaudo, and SS Garin Checini are 3 top prospects from that draft.
    2011:
    Theo's last draft with Boston.
    OF Jackie Bradley has already reached the majors and has gobs of talent. Plus SP's Matt Barnes and Henry Owens, and C Blake Swihart are 3 legitimate top prospects in all of baseball.

    McLeod/Hoyer's 2 drafts in San Diego:

    2010:
    3b Judd Gyorko
    and 2 others have already reached the majors
    2011:
    1 guy has reached the majors. Top pick was 2b Corey Spangenburg who is a very good prospect.

    Bottom line: they have a long track record of multiple major league players being produced every single season. Nobody has all-stars coming up every year, but 2-3 (or more) major league ready players coming up every year makes for a very healthy franchise. The Cubs have never had a farm system like that, ever.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    totally respect your post /view
    the counter would be as follows -
    under Theo:

    Worst draft picks
    1. Jason Place -- Boston selected Place in the first round (27th overall) of the 2006 draft, and gave the prep outfielder a $1.3 million bonus, passing on players such as Joba Chamberlain, Chris Perez, Trevor Cahill and Zach Britton. Place went on to hit .230 over his minor-league career, never made it past Double-A and was released by the Red Sox in March 2011.

    2. Mike Rozier -- After drafting Rozier in the 12th round in 2004, Boston gave him a $1.575 million bonus, one of the largest bonuses ever given out by the club to that point. The right-hander struggled with confidence and weight issues during his minor-league career, ultimately posting a 16-24 career record with a 5.23 ERA. He played in only one game above A-Ball during his career, and was released by the Red Sox in March 2009.

    3. Jonathan Egan -- The Red Sox took Egan in the second round (57th overall) in 2005, and gave him a $625,000 bonus. He ran into some legal trouble early in his career, and after posting a .235 career batting average, the catcher was released in March 2008. He never played beyond Low-A Greenville.

    4. Kris Johnson -- A left-hander out of Wichita State, Johnson was selected in the supplemental first round (39th overall) of the 2006 draft and given an $850,000 bonus. While he showed a few flashes of brilliance during his minor-league career, he was mostly mediocre and was released after putting up a 12.63 ERA in eight appearances with Pawtucket in 2011. Over his minor league career, Johnson was 28-49 with a 5.10 ERA.

    5. Mickey Hall -- Boston selected Hall in the second round (54th overall) of the 2003 draft, passing on the likes of Andre Ethier, Scott Baker, Shawn Marcum and Drew Stubbs. The Sox traded Hall to Cleveland for Paul Byrd in 2008. He hit .234 over his minor league career, which ended following the 2009 season.

    Other high-round picks that didn’t pan out: Abe Alvarez (2003, 2nd), Andrew Dobies (2004, 3rd), Craig Hansen (2005, 1st), Scott Blue (2005, 4th).

    Other high-round picks that haven’t panned out (yet): Caleb Clay (2006, Suppl.), Ryan Dent (2007, Suppl.), Derrik Gibson (2008, 2nd), Peter Hissey (2008, 4th)

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    Cubs 1st round picks that haven't panned out:

    1965-2010. Every pick.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Looks to me like the FO odds of over 60% of 1st Round picks making it to the big leagues is working in your favor Just Win. I feel like getting drunk after reading some posts. Keep up the good work!

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    Most draft picks fail. In fact, most first round draft picks fail. That is why volume is so important.

    One big advantage in Boston was that they consistently paid overslot money for lower picks. Thus they ended up with 3 or 4 first round equivalent picks every year, while the Cubs had one at most until the draft rules were changed.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    "lets remember Colvin was a 1st round pick and - I believe LeMahieu was a 2nd rounder"

    This is how Jim Hendry got fired.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    Many good prospects fail.

    But many more mediocre prospects fail.

    Colvin and LeMahieu, as prospects, were not anywhere near the class of Baez and Bryant,.

  • It seems we may need to keep Rizzos back up on the big league team this year. Olt/Gamel/Youkilis/back up C. Bour needs a shot at AAA so Nelson may not be back.

  • "Choo seeking to exceed Worth's 126MM Contract" - per MLBTR.

    Jeez.. No thanks..

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    No way at that price. No way.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Timing of Theo's comments of 30-something contracts being a risk seems to be right on the money with Choo's demands. Good luck to the team that lays out that sort of scratch for him.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Was Choo given a QO?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Yes

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I won't say that nobody will hire him at that level,.... but it does limit the alternatives for him - especially with the draft-pick compensation issue.

  • The Cubs have reconstructed an entirely different pipeline since then. Anyone thinking that the top Theo/Hoyer picks of the past couple years like Almora, Johnson, Bryant will fail haven't been paying attention to how successful Epstein's picks have been to Boston's WS run the last ten years.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Referring to Deport Soriano's post...

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    In reply to Paulson:

    same comment as above - Theos picks:

    Worst draft picks
    1. Jason Place -- Boston selected Place in the first round (27th overall) of the 2006 draft, and gave the prep outfielder a $1.3 million bonus, passing on players such as Joba Chamberlain, Chris Perez, Trevor Cahill and Zach Britton. Place went on to hit .230 over his minor-league career, never made it past Double-A and was released by the Red Sox in March 2011.

    2. Mike Rozier -- After drafting Rozier in the 12th round in 2004, Boston gave him a $1.575 million bonus, one of the largest bonuses ever given out by the club to that point. The right-hander struggled with confidence and weight issues during his minor-league career, ultimately posting a 16-24 career record with a 5.23 ERA. He played in only one game above A-Ball during his career, and was released by the Red Sox in March 2009.

    3. Jonathan Egan -- The Red Sox took Egan in the second round (57th overall) in 2005, and gave him a $625,000 bonus. He ran into some legal trouble early in his career, and after posting a .235 career batting average, the catcher was released in March 2008. He never played beyond Low-A Greenville.

    4. Kris Johnson -- A left-hander out of Wichita State, Johnson was selected in the supplemental first round (39th overall) of the 2006 draft and given an $850,000 bonus. While he showed a few flashes of brilliance during his minor-league career, he was mostly mediocre and was released after putting up a 12.63 ERA in eight appearances with Pawtucket in 2011. Over his minor league career, Johnson was 28-49 with a 5.10 ERA.

    5. Mickey Hall -- Boston selected Hall in the second round (54th overall) of the 2003 draft, passing on the likes of Andre Ethier, Scott Baker, Shawn Marcum and Drew Stubbs. The Sox traded Hall to Cleveland for Paul Byrd in 2008. He hit .234 over his minor league career, which ended following the 2009 season.

    Other high-round picks that didn’t pan out: Abe Alvarez (2003, 2nd), Andrew Dobies (2004, 3rd), Craig Hansen (2005, 1st), Scott Blue (2005, 4th).

    Other high-round picks that haven’t panned out (yet): Caleb Clay (2006, Suppl.), Ryan Dent (2007, Suppl.), Derrik Gibson (2008, 2nd), Peter Hissey (2008, 4th)

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    So a supplemental pick, 2 first rounders, and a 12th rounder they took a flyer on didn't make it under Theo... WOW! I'm convinced now.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    That should be a supplemental pick, 2 2nd rounders, and a 12th rounder - ( I hate it when I mess up an argument!)

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    as a season ticket holder
    who has to write a check
    Im just not sold yet
    seen this story before

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I hear you, writing that check has to hurt. Even in good times that is a big pile of money.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    This is an irrelevant argument. The draft is a crapshoot for all 30 teams. You can look at any team and post successes and failures. What is the point? After the 45th pick in a great draft there is more luck involved than any skill at picking. In an average draft it probably goes 20 deep.

    Also, you guys are ignoring a lot of criteria that went into those picks: signability, projection, representing agent, budgets (before the last CBA), data systems, I could go on and on.

    The Cubs have historically drafted poorly. When Hendry was a scout, they actually drafted better than when Hendry was the GM. Why? GMs rely on their scouting staffs a great deal because to concentrate solely on scouting in that position would be detrimental to running the team. Comparing organizations and scouting staffs might be better, but again, budgets were different for every team until two years ago. Some teams employ more scouts than others. Some teams cover more acreage when scouting.

    The stats are there and they are the same for everybody if you use averages:

    Round 1 Selections - 66% Probability to Play in MLB
    Round 2 Selections - 49% Probability to Play in MLB

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Ghost Dawg, I wasn't singling you out. Just replying to all participants here. I actually sued with you if I have to choose one.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    those are solid stats

    So to follow through
    over 4 drafts - 4 players in the 1st and 2nd round will make it to the MLB and 4 will not.

    thats all Im saying half of these guys wont make it.

    you cant write in a line up card with Soler, Almora, Baez, Bryant, Volgelbach, CJ Edwards, Alcantara, P. Johnson

    because Half of those guys will not make it - period.

    I think Bryant and Baez will - we are all guessing about the rest
    most will fail - you need to have a contingency plan.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to deport soriano com:

    I think Almora is a solid bet. The others are less predictable. I think the point here however is the Cubs are drafting players with higher floors, more projectable skill sets and are sticking with a best player available strategy. So the risk is slightly less which in turn slightly increases the probability of success. If that is the argument, it is easier to defend than just saying "This will work because Theo is in charge." Realistically, any number of GMs could have come to Chicago and done the same thing.

    I'd bet historically Theo's staffs have out produced those averages, if only by a little. But, yes, I think minor league players may have more value in trade. But, starting from Ground Zero two years ago until now, and with what was inherited, the Cubs small number of projectable minor league assets prevents them from actively shopping those players for a legitimate return.

    And yes, I think a number of people who post here tend to overvalue Cubs players while minimizing the players of other teams. Bryant and Baez are the real deal. Almora is nearly there, would be nice if he could hit for more power. Still, if he can do what Austin Jackson does I have no problem with that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to deport soriano com:

    And, those probabilities are just making the bigs. Scaling out to 1.0 WAR players, 2.0 WAR players, 3.0 WAR players, etc. reduces those odds significantly giving the entire draft of each year a steeper downside slope.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I'll bet you that every prospect you named will accumulate at least 10 WAR in their major leaguer careers. Vogs will be close, but I think his hit tool is good enough to carry him to a career DH position.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    That isn't entirely true. I agree that half of the first round in any year will not make it. But WHICH half is not a random event. By the time a prospect is in the league for a couple of years, three quarters of them have already begun to show the signs of failure.

    Vitters is one example.

    If someone is still a top prospect after two or three years, their probability of success is greatly increased above the original 50%.

    Plus, the draft philosophy of the team has changed. Much more emphasis is currently being placed on floor, as well as ceiling, and this will show up in the success rates. A top college hitter is much more likely to make it than a top high school hitter, and substantially more likely than a top high school pitcher.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    That isn't the way it works though! Over time all prospects come out to those percentages, bot the 60's-70's O's beat the odds, so did the 70's Reds and Dodgers. The Dodgers had four ROY players in the 90's, and the Yankees and Braves built dynasties in the 90's on the backs of farm systems that beat the odds. The Rays have had a huge amount of success.

    My point is it isn't automatic that only half our elite prospects make it or even make it big. Those are global odds and teams bear those odds.

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    I'm intrigued by Sizemore and Snider on that list. Both were highly rated and still young. I'd give Sizemore a shot to compete with Barney along with Valbuena If, hopefully, he loses the 3b job to Olt.

    I could see a LF platoon of Snider + Vitters or Lake being productive with Lake spending time in CF and Vitters in RF/1B

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think those would be a couple of nice adds as well. Cubs could use a potential short term upgrade in both areas.

  • I agree that some of the bargain shopping has some merit when you consider the production the Cubs have had out of signings like Valbuena, Sweeney, and Navarro. But going forward those impacts are going to be less noticeable as the roster improves with the young impact talent that will arrive as of this year. For example, I don't see where any of the non-tendered FA OF will offer considerable improvement over the likes of Schierholtz, Sweeney, Lake, or Bogs... perhaps Stubbs or Snider would provide a bit of an upgrade at the right price. But the whole group are nothing but placeholders until Bryant, Almora, and Soler arrive.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    With the exception of Bryant, if he ends up being converted to corner OF, the rest of our OF prospects are 2 years away at best, so they do have more leeway to take a flier there.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Besides Lake which has been named and Bryant whic you said yourself, the Cubs have Szczur, B. Jackson, Ha, which are pretty much ready and R.Silva, J.Andreoli will be in AAA this year. I'll take any of those players vs. this list of cast-offs from other teams.

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    Since i see that the Nationals are putting Span out on the trading block, I wonder if a trade for him will cost us too much to have him leading off for us and staying away from the high dollar demands of Choo and Ellsbury

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    He gets on base at a pretty good clip, isn't expensive, plays solid D, and fills a big hole at leadoff for the Cubs. It's worth at least kicking the tires IMO.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    It would make sense to at least kick the tires and do their due diligence on Span and Jeff S may be an attractive target for the Nationals so it could net us a prospect as well

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Very true. I don't know a ton about their prospects, however. Kevin or John, who do you see matching up in a Samardzija to Nationals deal if Span is one piece from their side?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I think the Nationals are looking to bring back piece make a trade

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    In reply to rynofan74:

    Wonder why they are shopping him so soon. They gave up a stud pitching prospect to get him and those aren't easy to come by.

    Some red flags maybe?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I don't think they're really actively shopping, just gauging market value.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Same thing I was thinking. Alex Meyer is listed on the Twins site as their #3 prospect and we know how good that farm system is. The Nats are going to want something comparable.

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    When is the non-tender deadline?

  • In reply to Just Win:

    December 2

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Thank you.

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    Snider would be great. Somebody needs to just deconstruct everything he's done i know right been taught over the last two years and start from scratch. He has lost all the things that made him initially successful. I still think the power is coming with this kid but the plate discipline has to come back and the strike out rate needs to drop.

    I like Reimold, but the foot injuries scare me. Maybe he can play first in a back up capacity.

    I wouldn't mind Marrero, but I think the Cubs could get Mike Morse on a one year deal as an OF and back up 1B.

    Sizemore would allow the Cubs to NT or trade Barney and open up a space for Alcantara in 2015. That would be a smart pick up. I also wouldn't mind Jhonny Peralta at 2B on a one year deal, but he'll get 3/20 from St. Louis and stay at SS. The rich get richer.

  • I think if Stubbs market is low he would be a great short side platoon pick up. His career split vs. lefties is very good and he would be a very good defensive replacement and pinch runner/batter on the other days.

  • Excellent read!! Totally agree that it can be twice as sweet hitting on a player who's looking to make a name for himself!

    I also like Ruggiano a lot if he gets non-tendered or as a possible trade candidate.

  • Hey John, according to Gameday, Armando Rivero was throwing 96-97 mph, I heard earlier his fastball was in the 92-93 mph range... Hope you can confirm this because that would be a very good sign.

  • He was up to 95 when I saw him in Kane County midway through his comeback, he's definitely up to 96+ again.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I think Keith Law, or maybe somebody else, said was not impressed with Rivero in the AFL and that his fastball was only hitting 92-93 mph... I remember John saying the first time he went to one of his games he was around 92-93 too, but he was throwing across his body... Then I remember him writing that he went again and he had tweaked hi mechanics and was throwing 95-96 mph... So, I'm wondering if the same thing has happened since it seems he was at 95-97 mph today.

  • You also have to take into account, that some teams have almost none of their 1st and 2nd round picks who make the ML. Pittsburg for awhile was a good example. Look at Jim Hendry. Jim drug the numbers down for the league drafting guys out of his HS alma mater like Harvey and the one before him. Then you have FO's that are a little smarter.

    Secondly, you act as if the evaluation process stops at rookie league. When a draft pick, prospect, is in the minors for 2 or 3 seasons, don't you think there is a better understanding of their potential? Think of Cubs picks when they were drafted. They were an unknown who had never swung a wood bat or pitched to a professional hitter. Now they have gone through a process, like Harvey did, and Harvey was a washout before he got to Peoria.

    I think Soler, Almora, Baez, Bryant, Volgelbach, CJ Edwards, Alcantara, P. Johnson will all reach the majors.

    As I have said before, if Trea Turner is the Cubs best option, there being no front line starter available, then I think Castro will be gone by the trade deadline 2015. And Olt or Rizzo may go with him; in a trade. Then again, Renteria may have lightning in a bottle!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    I agree: If Casto goes, Rizzo goes too. Rizzo is like the perenially "potential" guy. And I think Hoystein will realize that by June 30. Reset, eyes on 2015. Oh and Castillo goes too.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Rizzo has been a gold glove caliber first baseman with an OPS of about 800 and 740 for the past two years. He has gone far past being a "potential" guy.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Right, get rid of the three most talented young players on the roster. Awesome solution. You should apply for a position in the front office.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    It is not an issue of lack of talent, or good players. It is an issue of abundance! As I posted previously, and Theo mentioned, they are going to sort out the chaff from the wheat. Depth! And if they draft Trea Turner, the Cubs will feel comfortable enough about the position to trade Castro. And as far as Rizzo is concerned, I do not think he is going to be a .300 hitter. His swing has gone downhill thanks to the coaching staff. Can he get it back? Perhaps, as I said, maybe Renteria has lightning in a bottle. Olt is in the same boat. I disagree about Castillo. Castillo would have to bring back catching talent, as we don't have anyone comparable right now close to the Majors.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Who gets drafted this year will have nothing to do with moves on the major league roster. You don't gamble your whole future on a draft pick. You worry about positional logjams when those players are getting close to the majors and there is a higher likelihood that they will be a major league player. No front office in the history of baseball operates on what you just suggested. Trea Turner is at the least three years away from major league baseball, if he even makes it which is always a possibility with prospects. Hell, he could drop over the course of the college season and be a late top ten pick. What you are suggesting is insanely premature to put it lightly. Getting rid of Castro AND Rizzo has a zero percent chance of happening. Trading one is a long enough shot by itself. Theo's job would be gone within the year if he traded both because 1) It is just a horrible move for the franchise and 2) It sets the rebuild back about 2-3 years. 3) It puts the success of the team in the hands of players who have never been in a major league dugout.

  • As expected, hitting coach James Rowson leaves the Cubs. He signed with the Yankees today.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Just so he takes Deer with him.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Rowson and Hendry can fix the Yankees!

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