Cubs News and Notes: Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kyle Hendricks

Cubs News and Notes: Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kyle Hendricks
Kyle Hendricks (photo SmokiesonRadio.com)

UPDATED 1:00 Saturday

Kyle Hendricks, perhaps the most divisive prospect in the Cubs system, is getting his first taste of spring training at the big league camp.  Hendricks was the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year last summer after a dominant season in Tennessee that ended up in Iowa.  While he had some adjustment issues in Iowa (3.18 FIP in Iowa vs. 2.65 in a notorious hitters part in Tennessee), the season was an unqualified success for him.

Carrie Muskat had a piece yesterday evening talking about the first three batters Kyle Hendricks faced in spring training: Anthony Rizzo, Welington Castillo, and Starlin Castro.  I think it's fair to say the Cubs wanted to show him their best in that particular lesson.  It's somewhat unclear from the writeup, but it sounds like Rizzo got a hold of one.  Either way, the results are unimportant.  Giving the young man this big a challenge right off the bat suggests they want him to know exactly what big league hitters can do to him, so he understands the work he has to do.

1:00 PM SATRUDAY UPDATE: Dan Vogelbach Update

I wanted to give a brief update on Vogelbach.  Carrie Muskat reports that Vogelbach lost 30 pounds over the offseason and is unrecognizable.  I'm of two minds here.  Getting in better shape will prolong his career and possibly improve his defense, making him more valuable.  However, to the extent that some of his power was coming from his mass, I'm hoping this doesn't impact the power tool too much.

6:30 PM UPDATE: Draft Update

The college baseball season has started, and so it isn't too early to start looking at possible draft picks.  Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede is supposedly on the Cubs radar.  After an exceptional outing tonight against UIC -- 6 IP, 1BB, 1H, 1ER, 11K -- he may be taking the first steps to taking himself off the Cubs radar, as he will be gone long before the Cubs pick.

North Carolina State SS Trea Turner is 9-for-20 with two walks and strikeout so far in the young season.  He is also 5 for 5 in stolen bases.

East Carolina's Jeff Hoffman had a solid but unspectacular start, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up 5 H, 3 BB, 3ER, 6 K.

The Eyes Have It?

In the same Muskat piece is a story about Mike Olt's first batting practice.  Olt claims, "For my first at-bats in a long time, it's the best I've ever felt in Spring Training.  I'm not even counting last year, but the year before that. I saw the ball really well."

This sounds good, obviously, but this is just step one.  If he's honestly feeling like the guy who ripped apart AA in 2012, the Cubs could be big, big winners in the Matt Garza trade.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Carlos

Carlos Villanueva has emerged as a leader on the young Cubs team.  Manager Rick Renteria says of the right hander, "Every team has players that people gravitate to because they feel they have a certain amount of trust with them. Villanueva has been around. Guys like him, they know him. He’s someone they can talk to."

Villanueva himself knows that he would make an attractive trade target at the deadline, and would rather remain on the Cubs.  "The bittersweet part would be leaving this organization which I feel very comfortable in now.  It takes me a while to get to a place where I can be myself. My normal, loud self."

Just Joshing Around

OF Josh Vitters, the almost forgotten 2007 #3 overall pick, is striving to avoid injuries this year.  To that end, much like Starlin Castro, Vitters spent the winter working on his conditioning.  "This year, I'm more prepared than ever, therefore I'm more confident than ever. I'm really just starting to learn the way that it really works to keep building off of different things I'm doing over the offseason to become an everyday player."

If the Cubs were looking for Vitters to show that he cares about this, it sounds like he's making the first steps in that direction.  The bigger question, for me, is why all of this is starting six years after he was picked.

Go' Wittenmyer is an Island

Theo sat down with Gordon Wittenmyer recently (does he receive hazard pay for that?) and addressed questions about the Cubs financial situation and bringing the prospects up to the major league team.

We need to make sure that when the next wave of prospects comes up, they don’t take too much of a burden. We hope to have strong players around them, hopefully an impact player or two around them on the club so that they can break in the right way. You don’t want your prospects breaking in carrying too much responsibility. You don’t want them hitting in the middle of the order. You don’t want them having to carry a club or playing an instrumental role on the club.

Gordo of course takes this to mean the Cubs need to spend extensively or everything is doomed but, if you read what Theo is saying here, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro re-emerging as impact players fills in some of the holes.  Welington Castillo continuing to develop could fill in another impact player.  I also found this response particularly telling:

I’m not disappointed in the least bit.  We know we have something special brewing here. … We really believe in our young players, we believe in ownership, we believe in our business side, we believe in what the Cubs are becoming.

Gordon seems to have been trying to get Epstein to express "disappointment" about the financial issues but Theo wouldn't bite.  I think much of the interview needs to be read as Theo responding to leading questions.

 

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  • fb_avatar

    I'm really tiring of this idiots attempts to gain readership by appeasing the many ignorant meatball fans out there who just don't get it. I understand being a contrarion, but it has to have some sort of truth to it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    there is truth to it though
    take Wittmeyer out of the equation.

    payroll has gone done every year since Rickets bought.
    They get an Extra $60 Million from MLB national deal this year

    Its not wrong to ask where the money is going.
    If its going to pay for stadium repairs thats fine - but say it.
    Rickets has been coy in his answers.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    They've said the money would be reinvested in future teams. No one really knows if that will happen or not, I believe it will, but what's the point in asking that over & over again?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to deport soriano com:

    Name someone you wanted them to sign this year? They went hard after Tanaka he chose the Yankees over all other teams. You don't want them to make another Soriano or Milton Bradley deal do you? When the time comes they will pay a premium to fill the holes they need to whether its a position player (which is unlikely since that is most of their prospects) or more likely a pitcher or two

  • Finally some actual baseball news! I know a large number of guys would have to have career years in order for the Cubs to do anything, but it seems like there are a good amount of guys that could do just that.

  • I don't want to accused of being out of touch with reality, but with the exception of driving for and being in the post season, this is the most exciting time ever to be a Cub fan. This organization has never had a future quite this bright with all the upside prospects.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I agree with you 44slug- as a fan since 1968 I believe this is really as good as it gets. The promise being shown by the youngsters is fun to watch and when they starting contributing in Chicago it's going to be better than when Dallas Green took over. That was a big deal but certainly nothing like what this management team is accomplishing. It's unfortunate there's so many negative bashers that only see the W/L record of the past few years and base their entire evaluation of Theo on that.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I agree Slug, and I can't help but wonder how even more bright the future would look if some of the old rules had been in place. I love baseball and I love the Cubs with all my heart, and I'm also fascinated with reclamation projects in all walks of life, getting in on the ground floor, tearing something down, building it back up again, watching the process, watching it grow, enjoying the journey. I love this. Not long from now the Cubs are going to be an absolute powerhouse, and they will win a World Series.

  • Is it really the job of the meatball fans to get it or for Theo to better explain, why a large market team should not be after 3 years into the rebuilding process

  • In reply to Paris:

    I really don't see how Theo could explain it any better. Yes, it's the job of meatball fans to get it. Some apparently lack the intelligence or the emotional stability to listen and understand. Some just get off on outrage and self-righteousness.

    I agree with 44slug: 2014 is going to be a really exciting and suspenseful year if you watch the organization as a whole.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Not only that, but Theo specifically refused to put a timeline on the rebuild every time he's been asked. All he would commit to is "these things take time". Some how the media and the "meatball fans" interpreted that to mean that you could completely overhaul an entire organization from top to bottom; and reverse a 100+ years of disappointment in 2 full seasons... Crap, he wasn't even hired until Oct 2011, yet they claim we are 3 years into this rebuild.... SMH

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Hey, stop with the meatballs...I'm getting hungry.

  • I'm hoping that Villanueva has a good season (be it as starter or out of the bullpen) and does emerge as a team leader. He is among the most veteran guys on the squad now after all. If somebody gets traded at the deadline - Hope it is Hammel rather than Villanueva,.... but if both go I want them to get a shot at the playoffs and a good shake in the meantime.

    AND - whenever either of these to either does falter, get injured (not a wish on my part - just a likelyhood that somebody will go down at some point), or get traded,....

    Hendricks will get his shot.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    From watching the process the past couple of years, Epstein has been pretty clear about how they view a season, broken down in parts of three seasons: Offseason, First Half, Second Half. The first half is always an opportunity to get into contention and if not, you take those short term resources and build longer term resources until one day that first half does turn into something successful and then you put a hold on things and add around the deadline instead of flip players. He's said this on multiple occasions and I think it is understandable to the staff and players that a strong first half will push a different set of actions. There's no sense in trying to get to .500 after July 31 if it is not going to get you in the playoffs, so you deal for longer term assets with those short term assets you have that are attractive to teams in the hunt. Some call it tanking but I would call it a smart organizational move to reload in hopes that things will kick in the next First Half. If they didn't have the total bullpen meltdown in the first half of last year they may have gotten to that point of adding and trying to stay in the race, but we'll never really know. This Offseason season they looked around and didn't see much that was enticing except for Tanaka and it is probably good they didn't, or were not able to, put in the same commitment the Yankees did (including that 4th year opt out). Not smart for the position they are in. So say this year some guys do break out and a few of the gambles pay off, they've held some money in reserve to potentially add at the deadline. If not, then you deal again and reload, then go into the Offseason and see what makes the most sense. And pretty soon they'll be reaching critical mass where a ton of prospects are filtering in or close, and that's when you decide who to go with and who to deal for any holes you may have in the Offseason and at the deadline. It's not about spending money on payroll in the Offseason to keep it "steady" but putting assets where they make the most sense at the time. If you're a smart investor and wise organization you don't just invest a certain amount of money every year because you have to, but you pick your times and investments wisely. Of course the Ricketts family has some issues with the terms of the purchase, but everyone seems to have known this, including Epstein (he's a smart guy, I'm sure he was pretty aware of what he was getting into), and they are patient because hell, it has been 106 years, why try to turn everything around in one or two offseasons instead of building something that is built to last, which from everything they say, and from all that they've done (Dominican Academy, new Cubs Park in Mesa, attempts to rebuild Wrigley and pay for it themselves, investing in smart investments in the IFA and MLB draft and gambling on comebacks from former top prospects signed on flyer deals (Kalish, Sanchez, etc.), is what they are trying to do. Things have been slowed down, possibly, but actually when you look at it, everything that has been done in the last two offseasons is on par with what they say they want to do. I think the first couple of years that Ricketts owned the team though there were a lot of issues and it was unclear how to proceed, but I think once they got Epstein, Hoyer and McLoed on board the process has been very clear and straightforward. The Boras' and the Wittenmeyers' of the world do not necessarily like this, but the former certainly will when his clients are getting paid and the latter will be squeezing sour grapes and say he was right all along that they could have invested in MLB payroll sooner (without considering whether those investments would have been wise, or would have blocked players, etc.). Boston is a prime example of all this. At the 2012 deadline they dealt and reloaded, though they already had a really strong foundation, so were able to get right back up there in 2013 with some smart, timely moves that did not break the bank. I have a good feeling in two or three years the Cubs organization will be in that same position. They have the assets now to do some of those things, but then that would take away from investments like I mentioned above, which really would not make as much sense at this time.

  • In reply to Michael Standaert:

    Hear, hear!

  • In reply to Michael Standaert:

    well done...

  • In reply to Michael Standaert:

    Good points.

    But please use paragraphs. Hard to read.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Noted. I went on a bit longer than intended, but should have broken that up a bit.

  • My goals for the Cubs are

    Stay healhy
    Develop the young players
    Work harder on the mental aspect of the game
    Hope that all the July tradable players have a good first half

  • Hendricks seems to be just the type of pitcher that will learn from his mistakes, so now is a perfect time to figure out what he needs to do in order to be successful. Olt might be the story of ST... if he succeeds and takes over 3B it's a major boost to the lineup.

    The whole Vitters thing is a bit annoying as you allude to, Mike. My belief is that he didn't show this much initiative sooner is because he was a top prospect that thought he'd eventually be a major leaguer on his bat alone. Now that he's been forced to change positions, the writing's on the wall for him.

    And why even pay any mind to what Wittenmeyer writes or says? That dude is an absolute tool.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Not all that surprising that a 19 year old phenom just assumed everything would work out after being drafted. At least it sounds like it clicked for him. Better late than never.

    I equal you're excitement on Olt. It would be great to see him get going early in the year a build confidence for the whole team.

    Also, I know that there are a lot of the 'feel good' stories coming out of ST, which is common and really not that big of a 'story,' but I do like to hear a lot of positives leading into what is expected to be a bad year. I do think the team will be a little surprising because there isn't a player on the roster that doesn't have something to prove. Everyone seems to be fighting for their place and have each others back.

    Much better than having a guy come in 40 pounds overweight and the GM say they aren't expecting anything out of them.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I second you assessment on Vitters. When a HS kid is plucked #3 overall and then not given a clear objective/development plan can we fault him for not making it as quickly as we'd like? Like you said, better late than never. He's only 24, so its still not a make or break season...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I didn't mean that as negative on Josh as it's being taken. More along the lines of: is this an outcome of the Hendry Development System? Did the Cubs new FO misread him and his needs when they took over? Was there miscommunication on what was required of him? Or, as a final option, did the bell suddenly ring in Josh's head? I'd think the front office is interested in answering that question as it will help development efforts in the future.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I didn't mean you were being negative on Josh. More of a "we cant fault an immature kid for being immature if there's no structure to guide him" type of sentiment. Yeah, I'd like to have seen more "fire in his belly", starting with being sent home from Venezuela last winter.... but he's still a kid. hell, at 23yo, I was in the bars raising hell every night...

    Bottom line, it's good to hear about him & B Jax both, with a fresh start. I'd like to see Mueller get them both back on track. Both could be inexpensive, long-term and very valuable bench/role players for us.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Remember #1 pick Pawelek lhp from Utah? He was top dog there. His dad was his guru, and he was rather spoiled. How did that work out for him? He had a great arm, lesser character and work ethic! When you look at the FO picks, you have to admit that Almora and Bryant are the "right types"!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    couldn't agree more about the FO picks. They dive so friggin deep into a kids character, it truly is what separates the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Injury aside, it is ultimately what determines if a player reaches his ceiling. Knowing Baez as well as I do and to a lesser extent VogelBOMB, it is why I've never really been too worried about them "making it"; even though there the previous regimes picks.

    I saw Pawelek's name on the Netherlands WBC roster. How did he manage that? I haven't kept up with him, anyone know if he's in a camp anywhere?

  • In reply to Paulson:

    This is an exciting time to be a cub fan, I cant remember
    the last time we had 2 starting pitchers dominate like
    Edwards and Hendricks did last year and the number of top
    hitting prospects is crazy, though many of them will be a
    bust.

    If Edwards or Hendricks ends up being a solid starter
    and two of our prospects end up being quality big league
    hitters I honestly think we are a TOR and quality left
    handed OF from being a consistent playoff contender.

    Thats only 2 players we have to go out and get. Maybe
    one trade and one free agent.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I agree and disagree. Of the top prospects, you have Baez, Bryant, Almora, Soler, Alcantara. I think 4 out of the 5 will succeed, and I thin only Alcantara and Soler have any risk of not being regulars in the future, though I feel positive about both.

    Edwards, Vizcaino, Hendricks, and others. In the future I think Edwards and Vizcaino will be impact, but I hope they stay healthy. And I can only pray one of these two great arms can remain a starter. Beyond them, I think the Cubs will develop 3 or 4 #3 type starters. That means filling in 2 at the top of the order from within, or without.

  • I hope that for the year

    All stay healthy
    The young player develop
    They work harder on the mental aspects of the game
    All the July tradable players have a great first half

  • fb_avatar

    Couple more notes from camp today. Lake and Scherholtz collided. Scherholtz went home but Renteria says he will be back tomorrow. Also Baez was hitting massive BP home runs. And he smashed the windshield of a car in the parking lot. http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-nate-schierholtz-head-injury-20140221,0,7148015.story

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Nice,.... the Baez part of your post that is.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Good news at camp today. Baez hit several bombs over the 50 foot net in left field, including one that deposited the ball inside the car thru the passenger window. Olt also hit well depositing one ball over the net. Soler was in great shape and was swinging loosely. Strop was simply overpowering and dominated. And the BAD news today was that all Baez could do against Strop was to make contact once on a swinging bunt out of about 15 pitches. And MacDonald couldn't hit a barn door. But it's early and beautiful in Mesa, Az. I had to wear a sweatshirt at first because it didn't get up to 70% until noonish. Those 55% mornings just make me shiver. Wish all could join us. ~~Cheers.

  • In reply to NilesNorth:

    Great firsthand observations!
    Keep them coming, when possible! Thanks

  • If Gordon Wittenmyer is so unbiased and impartial... Then why is it that every time we hear from him is just bad news? I mean, certainly the Cubs have been pitiful at the MLB level and certainly, the Cubs have some financial issues that have kept them from doing more than we would like to see them do... And I am pretty open minded when it comes to anything negative about the team, because it's good to know both (negatives and positives)... But when someone only writes the negatives and even tries to get Theo to express disappointment... At some point you start losing credibility for that writer... The same way as I've lost some credibility from some writers who write as if everything was great and perfect.

  • I dont know,but a 3.18 FIP in the hitters paradise than the Intl league is happens to be really good. Id like to see what Shelby Miller did at 3a before his promotion to the majors.

  • One other thing. If Gordo wants to discuss disappointments, maybe he should look in the mirror first. Tell me Gordo, if the Cubs become contenders in 2015/16, are you going to write about how wrong you were about Ricketts, Epstien and the front office?

  • like someone said "Don't let the truth interfier with a good story"

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Seems to me you have about as much respect for media types as I do. Which isnt much.

  • Biggest thing to watch in Spring Training, Mike Olt. Biggest thing to ignore, Gordon Wittenmeyer.

  • fb_avatar

    It really sucks that I have to work for a living and can't post comments when they remain relevant, but c'est la vie.

    There were some comments posted regarding 670 WSCR earlier today, and in all fairness I do have to defend them once. Most of the guys on 670 are arrogant blowhards, and Boers and Bernstein are arrogant blowhards on steroids. BUT. I simply haven't seen any evidence that they are Cub-haters. In fact, B&B spent all afternoon today defending Ricketts, Theo and the rebuild plan, and trashing Wittenmeyer and the Sun-Times. B&B have never questioned either the rationale or the execution of the rebuild and have repeatedly and consistenytly ridiculed the impatient fans that demand the cubs "spend like a big-market team." Dan McNeil doesn't seem to hold strong baseball opinions, he seems to be more of a hockey/football guy, but I have likewise never heard him trash the rebuild, and Matt Spiegel is strongly in the B&B camp.
    Now, do these guys all agree the team sucks? Yes, of course, but who here - or anywhere in baseball - doesn't? The truth hurts. But let's give credit where it's due - WSCR is NOT a "Cub-hater."

  • fb_avatar

    "If he's honestly feeling like the guy who ripped apart AA in 2012, the Cubs could be big, big winners in the Matt Garza trade."

    The Cubs already are big, big winners in that trade based on CJ Edwards alone. CJ for 2 months of Garza? Biggest no-brainer in the history of earth.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    Right now Edwards is a guy with outstanding stuff and very real questions about his ability to stick as a starter. I like him, but we have to be realistic about what he will be.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I can see both sides. But you have to think, "if they had already given up on the notion of re-signing Garza"; then even just a lottery ticket like Edwards makes us winners. But we got 4 lottery tickets (Olt/Edwards/Grimm/Ramirez). So even if all 4 end up flaming out; you still do that deal for us.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    exactly. any time you get something that could be valuable, for something you were about to put out on the curb, it's a win. Antiques Roadshow is built on this premise.

    And on that topic, I'm getting rid of a really nice heavy aluminium
    All-Clad wok, in case anyone's interested. ;)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    and now I've committed a sin I'm usually poking other people for: kerb, not curb

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    My point here: we clearly did well to get something for Garza. However, if all we end up getting from it in 5 years time is one or two high leverage relievers, it's a good return for us.

    If, in 5 years time, we have the 2012 Mike Olt at third or CJ Edwards as a #2 starter, it becomes an excellent return for us.

  • fb_avatar

    Flat out, GW is a hack! He writes for a dying medium and needs to be a shock jock. Instead, he cant write an article without mentioning Zell and the finances.

    BTW, Big Dick and Little Dick at the Suntimes are complete sellouts and hacks. Remember when Big Dick (Telendar) was an award winning writer and was once respected?

  • “It sucks for the person who parked there,” Baez said. “They’re parking too close to the field.”

    I love it! Apparently, Mike Olt hit a few Bombs today too.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Soler apparently left the park, too.

    Logan Watkins had a good point on this, though: "He doesn't even care," Watkins said. "He's like, 'Oh, cool.' It's not cool for whoever's car it was."

    I get that he's young and immortal, but my first thought would be, "Can I fix your window for you?"

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    And just after I post that Javy tweets this: "Sorry about the window, i will pay it if i have to. But just dont park there again. Lol"

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's actually a good kid. While his English is good, it's not his native tongue and so sometimes things (like that tweet) can be taken with the wrong tonality.

    Hitting 450+ ft bombs in BP is nothing new for this kid. I saw him working out back in January. He was in total beast mode. I've since talked to a few in his circle, including former coaches. One of the coaches told me that right now, with where he's at mentally and maturity, etc... Javier is twice the ballplayer he was this time last last year. Javier himself is expecting some really good things this year.

    While they didn't mention specifics, the feeling I got is that Javy is supremely confident that he will force his on to the MLB line-up card, sooner rather than later...

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    Hi SKMD,

    I agree with you that the SCORE are not Cub "haters"..rather they tend to give the Cubs less air time than the White Sox (since they announce their games)...And yes, I have heard B&B say positive things about their rebuild program and their up and coming farm system.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Bob from Salem:

    compare that to WGN which gives more airtime to the Cubs AND whitewashes their shortcomings.

    Taking it all, in, the state of sports journalism in this town, since Lincicome, Bayless and Verdi packed it in, is absolutely abysmal. The papers are all geared to a 6th grade reading level, their "reporting" is usually nothing more than either summarizing talking points that have been rehashed over and over again or are thinly veiled press releases from the teams; I haven't bothered with local TV news (or national TV news, for that matter) in at least 10 years, and the radio talk is mostly suitable for background noise. No reporter does any investigating, nobody asks anyone in authority any tough or even uncomfortable questions, it's all go-along to get-along, a good ol' boys network.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    It is hard to believe that anyone could be worse than Bayless

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to DaveP:

    didn't like bayless? I dunno, I did.

  • It took Vitters 6 years to get it?

    I work with teenagers and constantly try to figure out how to help them realize that being successful takes work. So many of them say "I want to be a professional skate boarder" or "I want to be in movies", but when I ask about their plan to get there I get a bunch of cliches and BS.

    Learning that grit and commitment that it takes is a tough thing.

    That begin said, the athlete in me, the kid who dreamed about playing for the Cubs thinks "if I had that opportunity I wouldn't have to learn how to work hard. I do everything in my power to make it. Show up early, stay late, come to camp in shape, learn from the veterans, etc." It's shocking to me that many prospects have to learn this.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Morgzie:

    I've coached at an elite travel level and still give private lessons with my son. He played in college and was a dam fine player until recurring shoulder injury ended his career. Almost every kid that played for me from 2006-2008 went on to play in college. A couple were drafted.
    There was a kid on another site that wanted to be a big leaguer. He talked about it being his dream, how determined he was etc.
    Undersized kid, but supposedly fast and on the varsity as a soph. Anyway, he talked all heart and soul, but deflected any advice. I told him to get to as many showcases and camps as he could, and to make a short DVD to send to colleges and MLB orgs.
    He said if it was meant to be, the scouts would find him. I tried to explain that this isn't the 1970's and it's not a movie. Gone are the days when a scout will routinely drive from cornfield to cornfield on a hunch, when the best kids all attend the showcases and camps and many have videos uploaded.
    He was stubborn, and eventually, I kept my advice to myself. I think he's the type of kid who would someday rather sit around a bar and talk about how great he could have been if only the right scout would have found his way to Bumblefrog, KS, rather than do all the right things and then perhaps fail.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    "I think he's the type of kid who would someday rather sit around a bar and talk about how great he could have been"

    And maybe someday Springsteen will write a song about a guy like that.

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    Hear, hear!

  • I'm disappointed about the Tyler Beede news, he's been my guy since day 1 for the Cubs, but how can both Miami and the Sox pass on this dude? I agree, I don't see it. Damn White Sox!

    I think Jedstein will need to pick instead from Kolek, Turner and maybe Gatewood. I think I'd go Turner given those choices, and grab pitchers beginning with the 2nd round.

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    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Seems to be the MO. Grab the best player avalable in the first round and look for power arms after that

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Thank you, White Sox sweep.

    Beede looks incredible. I think he might just jump over Rodon.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Don't be disappointed, we will get a very good prospect with the #4 pick. Would you feel better if Beede got rocked in his last start?

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    In reply to John57:

    Yes, actually, because the talent is there. Him getting rocked means he drops to us and we could have fixed his release point, as it clearly was a fixable problem.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This is a stacked year for prospects. There are 8 to 10 really good prospects. Don't worry we will get a very good one. Theo/Jed/Jason will get the BPA available to them on the 4th pick. It may be Beede, who knows. Personally I think Turner is their type of player. Hey if Rodon or Hoffman falls to them that would be nice too.

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    In reply to John57:

    Hoffman may slip, but only because he's struggling this year. He's the early nominee for the Ryne Stanek award. Cross Rodon off the list. If he somehow slips past even #2, he'll simply return for a senior year.

    We will get a very good player, but Tyler Beede looks special.

  • I love this blog, but I really was hoping for more spring training coverage, especially on all the prospects playing potentially major roles this year. Seems we're settling for nuggets of posts on twitter and hearsay/rumors in the comments.

    Maybe make this a subscription based blog and send somebody down there to cover it?

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    In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    Position players are just getting started. There'll be more to report when the games begin.
    I like your idea of subscription, but on the other hand I don't. John and his writers, Mauricio, Felz and Mike are not doing this to get rich. they do it for love and passion for the game. I think John chose this type of format, in part, because it is not exclusionary.
    I wouldn't mind a split, like some other sites. Where, for a small, and I mean small, subscription price, maybe you get some additional content that is then made available to the rest of the blog 72 hours later or something. But really, I like the fan friendly format here.
    On another site last year, a fan who went down to spring training annually began reporting (in post form) better than the staff at the other site. maybe a fan out of state could contribute some content.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    What happened to him? Never heard from him again... Been hoping for someone in the area to go watch these guys and come back and report.

    Carrie Muskats reports about Rizzo taking a big swing or Mike Olt saying he can see do not really explain the details.

  • In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    AZ Phil is your answer. He is there.

  • OMG. How about YOU, go subscribe to that based blog, so that they can send someone down to cover it. BA will take your money. Our people here make those trips. Meanwhile, Denizen's HERE will continue to enjoy what is HANDS DOWN some of the best original analysis, scouting reports, news, rumors and other features, including some of the best writers, contributors, and community of readers, anywhere. But I digress...
    Aside from Tom's Cubs Insider blog, there are other spring training sites out there that I keep an eye on, like Fangraphs, TCR, BP, ALOHO, BCB etc. plus Boys of Spring, Fire Jim Essian, W4C and WSD to help you (try) to keep up with all things Cub.
    Trust me, it is not like I would not gladly pay either. I just would rather not and quit making those kind of recommendations! (Please!) Stop Throwing Rocks!

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    In reply to rickmonday:

    Love the handle. Monday was my favorite player as a kid. I either wore 7 or 16 until I developed my man crush on Maddux and switched to 31.

  • Partipilo, thanks for the level-headed response. Rick, I'll ignore the defensive part of your post (we ALL think this the best, most original Cubs blog!), and just thank you for the other options for spring training updates. I guess I'd just rather hear those updates written by John/Mauricio/Moody/Felzz, and I'd pay for the privilege.

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    In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    No problem. You make a good point because this is a great site and some more in-depth, unbiased reporting on the nitty-gritty would be great. But these guys give insight that no one else does and I know John is always burning the candle at both ends and I'm sure the staff writers are too. I've been a part time contributor to this site as well, but my style is more whimsical and less analytical, so you don't see my stuff on here too often. (But I am grateful to John for posting my work)
    Another frequent poster and I are actually good friends off the boards and have talked about doing a site similar to what you describe. But we both need our 40 hour shirt and tie jobs, so finding the time and funds to dedicate have it on the back burner.
    I also am a novelist and am working on three projects at once. A follow up to my first action/conspiracy a novel, The Destination Project, a baseball novel called The Journeyman and a true story about a shared supernatural experience with my daughter, to the best of our recollection.
    (And thanks to John for letting me sneak in a cheap plug. lol)
    Bottom line. I love this site, the format and the open forum. A big thanks to John and his staff.

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    It wasn't all that long ago experts thought Beede could go #1 overall. If he's figured it out, it's hard to see him still being there at #4, but you never know. If none of the top 3 college pitchers is there when it's the Cubs turn to pick, I could think of worse scenarios than picking Trea Turner and going pitching heavy the rest of the way. Quality pitching in the college ranks is a lot deeper this season than in recent years, and there will be some high-upside arms available in the second and third round of this draft.with higher floors than in years past. It's not unlikely some of those kids will blossom with professional coaching.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    My concern is that one of the top arms falls out (Hoffman) and no one else re-emerges ala Bryant or Gray; and so Rodon, Beede, and Turner are gone... I really think 2nd or 3rd is the ideal spot this year.

    It's still really early so we'll have to wait and see.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This is my fear, as well. That would leave us with Kolek. I think you take him there -- 100 mph is 100 mph.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hoosier and Mike, is there a reason why Alex Jackson isn't in the mix for you at #4? Catcher certainly is a weakness in the Cubs system. I'm still hoping for an arm there, but if things fall wrong and the choice is between Jackson (who can hit wherever he plays and has the athleticism and amazing pop times to remain at catcher) and Kolek (whose body type raises some concerns and the mere fact that he is a high school pitcher makes him risky), is there some reason I'm not seeing why Jackson shouldn't be considered?

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Others are not as convinced as you of his ability to stay at catcher. If he can't stick at catcher, his value drops significantly.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm aware of the possibility of him not sticking at catcher, but isn't the bat supposed to be special? Or no?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I've never seen him play, so I don't really have an opinion of him. But not everybody has him in their top 5. There's more who think he can't stick at catcher than there are those who do. Right now, he's listed at 6'2" and 215lbs, at 17yo.. He can't really afford to get any bigger and expect him to stick at catcher. Some of the projections I've seen have him filling out at 240+lbs... That screams corner OF'r and it appears his bat will profile there so that's likely where he ends up... but again, I'm reiterating what I've read on the kid.

    So far as our FO, they will play the #'s, and a I just don't see them taking any HS player at #4 right now. Lots can change between now and actual draft day though.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier. Always appreciate your input.

    My understanding of Jackson was that high school or no, his bat would justify him being taken around 4. Word was he was a McLeod favorite. He just raves about his make-up and that if all the college pitchers were off the board, that Jackson would be seen as an Almora-type selection who has a chance to stick at catcher.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Do you have links for McLeod saying that? I have no idea what our FO thinks of him. But they would have to be convinced he can stick at Catcher, not just a chance. The minute he moves out of that position, his value drops. 1B/corner OF'r types aren't typically taken that high in the draft. They would have to have an incredibly advanced bat and high floor, ala Bryant.

    I just don't see a HS bat regardless of position having the floor/ceiling this FO covets for our #4 pick.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    "100 mph is 100 mph."

    I used to think that until I had to watch Farnsworth pitch.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Couldn't agree more with your assessment. There is depth in both college and prep pitching this year enabling the Cubs to get quality arms in the top ten rounds as well as some upside in rounds 2-4.

    I won't be disheartened if they don't take an arm at #4. But it sure would be nice to get one of those top college arms.

  • a number of scouts believe Jackson wont stick at C and move to corner IF or corner OF , Bat should play at any of those positions however. this years crop of arms much deeper and has the elite arms at top , next years class is headlined by HS bats at the top Daz Cameron OF (Mike's Son) , Bredan Rodgers 2b/ss lead the way

  • It is good to hear Dan Vogelbach lost some weight. He seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to improve. Can't wait to see the pictures. How many SBs do you think he will get this year? He had 5 last year. I am guessing he still is big and strong so his batting won't suffer.

  • Vogelbach sure seems to have the drive & attitude that it takes to become a player. He seems to work his ass off - literally & metaphorically - which makes it seem like he's got that intangible thing going for him. Also gotta like it that a guy like him has a chip on his shoulder for being left off top 100 lists.

    Hoping for a big year from him.

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    I agree. I believe DV has the intangibles to excel at the MLB level. To lose that many pounds tells me his focus and mental makeup are off the charts! When you add his bat and power I think he will continue to develop and move up the system. I still think he'll be shipped out in a package deal to get a top notch pitcher in a year or two, but you never know...

  • VoeglBOMB's power doesn't come from his mass. The torque he creates with his legs and hips and natural upper-cut swing is creates his light tower power... He'll be fine. Hell, Javier is a biscuit more than 200lbs and look what he can do.

    VogelBOMB is deceptively quick for a big guy. His first few steps are lethargic, but once he gets his mass in motion.... I'll be curious to see how this effects his range/speed.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    HD, I would imagine his range/speed has increased, how could it not. I am curious how he lost 30 lbs. Did he work out day and night? Did he restrict certain foods like pizza? If he worked out a lot, did it include weight lifting. If it did he may even be stronger. I wonder if they are going to update his weight in his stats or are they going to leave it at 250 lbs. I love ST time. There is so much going on.

  • In reply to John57:

    IDK how or what he did specifically.... But I do know his older brother is a personal trainer & nutritionist. VogelBOMB was actually 275lbs on draft day, but he changed his diet some with the help of his brother and reported to his first ST at 250lbs...

    There is a chance they told him to do this as part of his individual development plan. But I still love the idea of him playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    John had a nice write-up on him a year or so ago suggesting that his power came from an excellent swing where his hips open just as the bat is making contact with the ball. It seems like the benefit of that would be leveraging his body using the hips as a fulcrum.

    And I get that Baez is tiny. He does it with mind-blowing bat speed, which Vogey doesn't have.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The legs & hips generate the bat speed & power. If you watch Baez, he actually begins his swing his back facing the pitcher... that's how he generates such torque, which generates the bat speed, which generates the power....

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    Vizcaino reportedly hitting 98 on the gun consistently in live sessions...

    *Shivers*

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yeah, how come there isn't an update of that? I think that's more good news than Baez shattering a window or even Vichy dropping 30 pounds... Not saying the other stuff isn't important but 98 is a good sign.

  • This is kind of related to Castro but what happens if he and Olt both play well? What if Olt makes the team and gets the 3B job? How do you prepare Bryant and Baez for position switches? What is the plan there? We know those two are starting the season in the minors, but when the season starts do the Cubs immediately focus on putting those two at new positions? And if that's the case how long will that take? I feel like the average Cubs fan won't have patience if they hear that both Baez and Bryant are hitting well but that they now don't have a position on the major league team

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    What happened to the article on RE24?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    They're both there in my view. One is a page back.

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