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The three headed goofball debates itself…..

The three headed goofball debates itself…..

So Arguello is in France., Probably face down in the Seine river, but still, in France. That leaves myself, The wonderful Mauricio Rubio, and the just OK Mike Moody ( I KEED…… I kEED.) to talk some Cubs baseball as Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa today. Here's what transpired.

1) What, if anything, was your favorite off-season move?

Mauricio: Jose Veras, and not signing Jeff Francoeur. Veras solidifies a much maligned bullpen and as an added bonus he's not Carlos Marmol. Not signing Jeff Francoeur is a key move in any winning offseason. So long as the Cubs continue to not sign Jeff Francoeur I will hold out hope.

Felzzy: Mauricio- I feel you on Jeff Francoeur. I double Dog hear you on Jeff Francoeur. Not only is he a terrible player but putting those big teeth in right field during all those 3:05 games….. Well the glare would not be fun

Mauricio: Oh my god those teeth and the whole mouth region is just weird to me in general. It's not awful, just makes me uncomfortable. Teeth are Osmond white.

Felzzy: However, The Cubs then turn around and fill an outfield spot with Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano put "Replacement player" in "Value over replacement player." While I don't believe in handing out money simply to hand out money, certainly we could have aimed a little higher than "The Rouge" Couldn't we……?

Mauricio: The Rouge has #DemPlatoonSplits though, so it's gonna be interesting at the least.

Moody: Probably hiring Rick Renteria.  But, if we're looking at players, I really liked the Wesley Wright signing.  It gives the Cubs another lefty to take the pressure off of James Russell and, should they trade Russell this season, leaves the bullpen with another experienced lefty out there.  (I know this is damning with faint praise.)

Mauricio: Mike, Really like the Wright signing as well and anything that restricts Russell to LOOGYdom is a good move in my book. Same with Hammel but it's like a move of zero consequence.

 2) What was your least favorite move of the off-season.

Mauricio: James McDonald. I know it's a minor league deal and it won't have much if any impact but that last phrase, "wont' have much if any impact" describes pretty much any move they make at this point. I'm not a McDonald fan.

Moody: I don't hate the move, but I'm not sure what the upside is with Hammel.  If we're talking about this season, I'm not sure he gives you more than Rusin.  If we're talking about a flip candidate, I'm not sure he gives you more than Carlos Villanueva could as a starter for half a season.

Felzzy: Hammel ( And I guess Macdonald to a degree) was an underwhelming signing for me too. I don't see these guys as Pinhooks that you can fix up and trade into real prospects like a Feldman. If anything I see these signings as the next challenge for Chris Bosio. OK, You remade this pitcher, now the water gets deeper. If Bosio can turn these guys into regular starters, then we have a better pitching coach than I thought, and I already think he's a pretty good coach.

3) What will you be watching during Spring training?

Mauricio:  I'll be watching #TheUnicorn try to figure out Luis Mendoza and other 4A pitchers. I'll also be keeping tabs on Anthony Rizzo and seeing if he can find any of those missing singles.

Moody: Of all the big 4, I think that this spring will be most telling for Jorge Soler.  After a start and stop season and some negative press, I'd hope he shows up focused and ready to give 100%.

Felzzy: I'm looking at the pitchers from last year's High A team- Johnson, Edwards, Black, etc. I mean, none are going to make the team. But those guys were shredding bats in September on their way to the title. If they take the next step in Tennessee this year, suddenly, the Cubs have the type of prospects they're trying to acquire with Samardzija.

Moody: John's man-crush Paul Blackburn is another guy to watch this season.  He won't be anywhere near the big league camp in Arizona, but I think -- and this is just speculation -- that there was something physical bothering him the latter half of last season.  If he can get to where he was in June and July, he could blow past every other prospect we have in the minors and be far and away the Cubs #1 pitching prospect by this point next season.

4) Biggest roster surprise come opening day?

Mauricio: Luis Valbuena, starting 2B, moving Darwin Barney to a really solid UTL role and making room for ST Super Hero Mike Olt.

Moody: Josh Vitters is the 5th outfielder.  (Just what you want out of the #3 overall pick...)

Fells: Kyle Hendricks is your fifth starter.

 And finally, What is Arguello doing in France right now that is driving Mrs. Arguello up a tree….?

Mauricio: I heard that Arguello is negotiating a peace treaty between two unnamed rival nations. My #sources (Cotillo) indicated this is really sensitive information but I felt that I had to leak it. Another source thinks he's just being bourgeois as all hell and enjoying expensive coffee made cheaply for Americans.

Moody: Insisting on drinking espresso at every cafe along the Seine, resulting in him lying wide awake tossing and turning all night.

Felzzy:  I like the idea of French woman after French woman slapping Arguello in front of Mrs. Arguello as they mistake BABIP and VORP for some kind of French insult…..

 

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  • "Mauricio: Luis Valbuena, starting 2B, moving Darwin Barney to a really solid UTL role and making room for ST Super Hero Mike Olt.

    Moody: Josh Vitters is the 5th outfielder. (Just what you want out of the #3 overall pick...)

    Fells: Kyle Hendricks is your fifth starter."

    Color me weird (or optimistic if you prefer),.... but I could actually see all 3 of these moves working out,... with the least likely being Hendricks as #5,... just because I think that role will go (until July trades) to Hammel and/or Villanueva so we can spotlight their trade value.

  • If I had to guess, the biggest thing driving John's wife nuts is his insistence that they go to the French Riviera for a "walk" to check out the "scenery".

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    That last one by Fells is hilarious. LOL

  • Hammel could easily turn into a Feldman-type sign and flip acquisition. Look at the year he had in 2012.

    Ruggiano will likely play mostly against lefties and his #s are just fine for that.

    There are rumors Macdonald may have signed a major league deal (which I don't like if true). Otherwise why open up two spots on the 40-man? Unless they are looking at Bonifacio.

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    As much as my instincts wanted them to, I'm really glad they didn't go all Seattle Mariners on us and sign someone stupid. Fans are getting antsy...

    And yes, I'm crazy excited for #TheUnicorn here in Des Moines. I plan on going to almost every home game, so if you want me to send Cubs Den some photos, let me know. I can't guarantee they will be of any quality, but I'll take them with heart and passion, unafraid to get my pants dirty for the cause. Okay, that's a lie, but I'll take some average photos anyway... Maybe we could do a CD Iowa meetup of some kind., too.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    I'd be up for a CD meet up at any Iowa home game.

  • Haha the banter between all you guys is great. If there was a cubs-den sitcom, I would definitely watch!

  • Well, let us work on a podcast first….

    Coming in March I'm told….

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    Thanks Felzzy, I'm home sick today. You made me laugh so hard I threw up again. Good job!

  • Won't be the last time Caldwell…..

    Feel better

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    In reply to felzz:

    Thanks bub!

  • In reply to felzz:

    I just read this article in a kimono and no underpants, is that wrong of me? funny stuff guys enjoyed it.

  • 1. Bill Mueller
    2. Clark
    3. Kris Bryant(live)
    4. Darnell McDonald
    5. John developes facial tic

  • Great stuff I'm looking forward to spring training and seeing who is closest on the biggest surprise. Maybe we could set up a poll for Denizens

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    In reply to rsanchez11:

    Is that what they call us? "Denziens?"

  • In reply to Phil James:

    I think my spelling could be improved...maybe Denizens?

  • Olt as the starting 3b -Valbuenna/Murphy as your 2b-Barney Rubble to the bench as UTIL or traded. Hendricks as the #5 starter. Spring training wishes.

  • Biggest thing to watch in AZ is whether Olt is 100%.

  • If Olt can produce as a MLB starting 3B the seasons arrow starts to point up. Otherwise we have to wait for Baez or Bryant to arrive for that to happen.

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    My hope is that Mike Olt just doesn't win the 3B job by default but he leaves no doubt by being the hottest Cub out of Spring Training. I would also love to see Logan Watkins win the 2B job outright. This would leave both Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney as our infield subs.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    That would make for an interesting roster bocabobby,.... I wonder what happens to Murphy at that point,.... Both Valbuena and Barney can likely cover any IF spot other than 1B. They just need then to figure out who the need to keep on the roster to spell Rizzo at 1B. Such a lineup might favor somebody like Vitters who likely can cover 1B and who seems to hit Lefties better than Rizzo showed last year.

    I'm pulling for Olt for several reasons,.... not the least of which is that if he can hold down 3B, then it gives time to sort out what to do with Beaz, Bryant, Alcantara as they continue to develop.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I was thinking the same thing about Vitters. He would be our 5th OF'er and possible sub for Rizzo as you point out. And it's about time for the Cubs to fish or cut bait with Vitters. He's either gonna help this squad as a sub that can hit or we gotta find another solution.

    Brett Jackson is probably in the same boat as Vitters, imo.

  • Its official Hammel on a Major League deal and McDonald on a minor league deal. I was way off on Suk-Min Yoon that was wishful thinking because I was aware he had to just take his physical, I just thought Yoon had a lot of upside. Anyway, the other roster spot must be for Bonafacio(spelling maybe off) or the other unsigned Cuban player Diaz. Glad McDonald was minor league deal though. Whats the report on Diaz?

  • In reply to notownlikeChicago:

    Both are on Magor league contracts, see below.

    ChicagoCubsOnline @TheCCO

    #Cubs announce the signings of Jason Hammel and James McDonald to one-year Major League contracts

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Magor - Major

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Bosio has his work to do.

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    I'm pretty sure I don't like signing McDonald onto a ML contract nearly as much as I do a MiL contract,....

    But presumably the front office has a plan and has liked something of what they have seen from him.

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    Yes, McDonald signed to non-guaranteed major league deal. $1m for 2014 with bonuses. Cubs control rights throughout 2015 season.

    How much do you dislike that deal now, Mauricio?

  • Shoulder tightness for Cubs' Arrieta

    lol. That didn't take long.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    That's why you need waves of pitching,....... Oye!

  • Ha! I got a kick out of those. Great stuff. Having a fantastic time out here -- and yes, drinking tons of coffee (as usual).

    Driving Mrs. Arguello up a tree by zipping through the metro stations. She has to keep reminding me we're on vacation. Maybe I'm having flashbacks from the days I used to take the train to my job downtown. Or maybe it's just all that coffee.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    They have the internet there? Cool! Don't believe everything you read on it though, John. Watch out for those claiming to be french models.

  • In reply to Ray:

    LOL!

  • My hope in 2014, and I admit it runs counter to my intuition, is that Castro rebounds and hits .315 with authoirty and suddenly grows up and acts interested over a full season, especially in the field.

    Probably shoudn't be buying any lotto tickets anytime soon.......

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    In addition to Arrieta likely missing start of season, Justin Grimm has been moved to the bullpen; he won't be starting. I wanted to see how he would do as a starter, but most scouts and Cubs must feel this is his landing place. I thought that was interesting news.

    Carlos Villanueva might start the season in Arrieta's place....showcase for a trade, maybe?

  • Well, THEOretically the Cubs still have a roster spot once they put Kyuji on the 60 day DL. McDonald on a Major League deal is a bummer because Marshall and Raley had options, unless the FO feels they(Marshall and Raley) were not in the future of the Organization.

  • Hey John bring us back a boatload of French Fries and some French Toast please! I look for Olt to win the 3B job, and Luis Valbuena will try to unseat Barney from 2nd base. Is there a market for a light-hitting second baseman? Maybe he'll be traded before ST ends. Great work guys, love reading this.

  • I'm as hopeful and optimistic on Olt as anyone... but after 2013, the likelihood that he isn't ready and needs more time at AAA to work on things is far greater than the likelihood that he locks up the 3B job coming out of ST. Let's keep our fingers crossed, but our expectations realistic....

    And for those calling for Hendricks to get any MLB starts this year, he's had 6 AAA starts. He's a finesse pitcher, with ZERO margin of error in hitting his locations. Unless we have a rash of SP injuries, don't look for him before September...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    One could say the same for Baez and Alcantara. I wouldn't look for them until September either, as both have things to work on and will need their reps at AAA.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I absolutely agree.... But I haven't seen many calling for them to be "the hottest player in ST" or "lock down a starting job on the 25 man roster" like we've been hearing for Olt & Hendricks for some time now. While it's possible for Olt, it's not realistic and anyone thinking that is setting themselves up for disappointment. Again, we can hope for the best, but that is a small probability compared to a more natural progression... Hendricks has a zero chance of making the 25-man, IMO....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree HD. Olt probably needs a little time in AAA to get his confidence up to where it needs to be. He did have a good last couple of weeks in AAA last year but I think Theo likes to promote prospects when they are dominating at a level for more than a couple weeks. I can see him coming up around June and doing well. Baez on the other hand is a quick learner. I see him coming up after dominating AAA in June/July. Those will be a good 2 bats to add to the lineup mid season. And there is an outside chance that Vizcaino will be able to be added to the bullpen midseason to replace anyone who is hurt or struggling.

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