It's been one of those days where there is news but nothing that directly affects the Cubs all that much. It seems like a good time to round up some of today's events along with some interesting links around the interwebs...
- Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis, both of whom write for brooksbaseball.net worked up some interesting spreadsheets on catcher defense. It's interesting to note that, according to their data, the art of framing is a more valuable run-saving tool than blocking pitches. Intuitively this makes sense because the amount of pitches that require framing far exceeds those pitches that need to be blocked. Welington Castillo rates as one of the best in the blocking pitches category as he even surpassed Gold Glover Yadier Molina in that metric. However, Castillo still has a bit to learn about framing pitches. He did improve to where he didn't hurt the team in that respect, even outperforming catchers like Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, and the always wily A.J. Pierzynski, but players like Molina show how much value you can add to a team simply by stealing a few extra strikes. Here are the strike zones used in the framing study.
- Dylan Hernandez tweets that the Masahiro Tanaka decision could take awhile. If so, I believe this works in the Cubs favor as contending big market teams may not be able to wait too long for risk of being left without any other options. Meanwhile, the Cubs continue to be content to lurk in the weeds on this one.
- The Cubs have announced their 2014 minor league manager, coaching, and coordinator staffs. A couple of interesting notes: Derek Johnson now has an assistant in Mike Mason, which should free up Johnson to do a lot more this season. I've also noticed that the Cubs are keeping their development message consistent with regards to their lower level pitchers. Storm Davis, who I've heard raves about, will follow his students up to AA Tennessee, a staff that could include top pitching prospects C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson. Meanwhile Ron Villone goes from Kane County to Daytona and David Rosario moves up to Kane from Boise. Both will undoubtedly be reunited with some familiar faces as well.
- There is a potential available CF from the international market. Rusney Castillo, 26, is a 5'9", 180 lbs. CF'er out of Cuba. Ben Badler writes about him here. I've heard he profiles more as an extra outfielder than a starter so I don't believe the Cubs will be making an investment here unless their people feel he has greater potential than that. Considering he is 26 and athletic, there is a possibility, but as a hitter who is prone to chasing bad pitches, he doesn't seem to fit the Cubs profile as a player they'd put a high priority on. It depends on the market, but I don't see it as a fit right now on a big league deal given the Cubs current needs and lack of roster space. Another CF'er, 32 year old Yoshio Itoi has decided to stay with his his team in the NPB. Some scouts like Itoi better than Norichika Aoki.
- Professor Parks of Baseball Prospects hosted a chat and in it he mentions Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler. He believes Soler has the better ceiling and is capable of hitting 30 HRs but that Alcantara has a better chance of reaching his ceiling, which is lower. Personally, I like Alcantara's ability to make adjustments on the fly. He has adapted well to the Cubs new philosophy and he's one to watch at AAA -- but then again, haven't we called Alcantara a player to watch every year?
- Sahadev Sharma writes a piece on the Cubs new bench coach Brandon Hyde for ESPN Chicago. Hyde feels that his experience gives him a unique perspective, "I'm fortunate that I've had a lot of experiences [as a coach] and then this past year as the farm director, I saw a totally different side that I hadn't seen," Hyde said. "To be a part of meetings like the winter meetings, to be able to hear and be a part of conversations in Theo's suite during the game or just being involved in that kind of interaction, really opened my mind to the game instead of just being on the field. So I think that will benefit me to go back on the field because I was able to be a part of those conversations."
- Keith Law chimes in on recent moves around the league (insider only) and mentions Jose Veras as the best bargain among RP signings though he feels Joaquin Benoit is the best of the bunch.
- In news around the league, it's been a pretty busy day for minor moves and I'm sure Mike will catch you up on Saturday. A couple of notes: Shin-Soo Choo reportedly turned down 7 years and $140M from the Yankees. The Yankees have moved on and signed Carlos Beltran for almost $100M less. Drew Stubbs, as we expected, was traded but it was not to the Cubs, it was to the Colorado Rockies. He was a player we thought could be interesting at the right price as a role player who can play all 3 OF positions, start vs. LHP, and provide power and speed off the bench. When the Cubs acquired Justin Ruggiano to do basically those same things, it became apparent that Stubbs would have just been redundant. Just as importantly, the Cubs were able to trade from depth whereas it appears the Indians were looking for a quality, experienced LHRP. They wound up getting Josh Outman. I don't know about you but Bogusevic for Ruggiano makes a lot more sense for the Cubs than say, Russell for Stubbs.
- As far as the Cubs, there are still reports they are interested in Kurt Suzuki despite recently signing George Kottaras, Eli Whiteside, and John Baker. I'm thinking this might just be recycled news from an agent who is trying to show there are multiple teams interested in his client.
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