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…..