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Who can fill the lefty hitter void for the Cubs?

Who can fill the lefty hitter void for the Cubs?
Vogelbach is potentially a great hitter, but could find himself blocked at 1B.

Cubs prospects Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, and Mike Olt have all impressed so far this spring.  Additionally the Cubs have Jorge Soler, who hasn't set the world on fire, but he has still impressed manager Rick Renteria.  Then, of course, you have core pieces like Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo.

If you haven't seen the pattern yet, you'll note that they are all RH hitters.  Anthony Rizzo is the only LH hitter who is penciled in the lineup for the next few years.  While that's not a huge concern, most managers prefer to have some balance.  At the risk of looking too far ahead, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at some options.

Current Options

Nate Schierholtz

Having just turned 30, Schierholtz probably isn't a long term option for the Cubs and he's pretty much cemented in as a platoon player at this stage in his career.  Still, Schierholtz showed he could be a real threat against RHPs, hitting 20 HRs in 439 PAs and slugging just a tick under .500.  While the Cubs would likely prefer a younger, full-time player, Schierholtz could end up being a late bloomer and bridge the gap until a long term solution can be found.

Ryan Sweeney

Sweeney is just a year younger than Schierholtz but could also be a late bloomer.  He also showed well vs. LHP in limited play and has better potential to be a full time player.  He also adds value in that he is a solid runner and can play CF.  What Sweeney has lacked despite his good size is HR power.  There were glimpses of it last season and perhaps if he can be a 20 HR guy with an average OBP or better, he can fill that void as the young RH hitters begin to populate the lineup over the next few years.  Statistical projections, however, aren't so optimistic, so Sweeney will have to continue to improve and refine his skills.

Near MLB ready minor league options

Ryan Kalish

An interesting wildcard, he was once frequently mentioned along with Josh Reddick as 2/3 of the future Red Sox outfield.  Reddick blossomed after being traded to the A's and perhaps Kalish can do the same with some health and his own change of scenery in Chicago.  He's likely ticketed for Iowa to get some ABs and catch up after playing just 93 games since 2010.  The talent is there but Kalish has missed a lot of development time.  If he can return to his previous form, the potential is for a corner OF"er with a solid approach and average tools across the board.

Arismendy Alcantara

If Olt and Baez continue to build on their spring success, Alcantara appears to be the odd man out.  However, he's an excellent athlete who is likely capable of moving to the outfield if necessary.  But the question isn't so much whether he can defend, it's more of a question of whether his bat can carry the position, particularly if he plays LF where teams normally desire an OF"er.  However, if Baez is at 2B, he makes up for some of the power void and perhaps the Cubs could live with a speed/OBP type in the OF.  It should also be noted that Alcantara has been much more effective as a RH hitter.

Brett Jackson

The one-time top Cubs prospect has fallen on hard times as he continues to struggle to make contact.  His future is now in serious question.  Everyone knows what Jackson can bring -- speed, average to above average power, good defense, and good OBP skills.  The problem is none of it matters if he can't make more consistent contact.  It'd be a major surprise at this point if he can re-establish himself and put himself back on the Cubs radar, but his strong mental makeup and work ethic ensures he'll do whatever it takes to make it back.  Whether that's enough remains to be seen.

Long term minor league options

Dan Vogelbach

Having lost another 30 lbs., Dan Vogelbach is looking about as svelte as we are ever likely to see him.  What he has lost in sheer mass, he will gain with better flexibility and rotation.  It should also result in better range at 1B.   But therein lies the rub.  The Cubs lone LH hitter, Anthony Rizzo, also plays 1B.  Despite slimming down, it's very unlikely Vogelbach can play the OF at anywhere near an adequate level by today's standards.  The best hope for Vogelbach is that the NL adopts the DH.

Jeimer Candelario

Like Alcantara, Candelario is a switch-hitter and has the potential to put up good OBP numbers and average power -- perhaps a bit better.  Candelario is a 3B and he has improved at that position with a lot of hard work.  Most scouts believe he can stay there, though he probably won't win a Gold Glove there.  A position switch seems unlikely as Candelario has a thick lower half and doesn't have the kind of speed you would like in an OF'er.  He does have the advantage of playing 3B and if Olt falters or moves to the OF, Baez moves to 2B, and Bryant moves to RF, he could sneak in at the 3B spot down the road.

Outside the organization: Trade/Free Agent candidates

Carlos Gonzalez

It's difficult to pinpoint trade candidates at this point, but there were whispers this offseason that Carlos Gonzalez could be made available if the Rockies decide to go into rebuilding mode.  He's still young at 28 and has a few prime years left.  He'll likely be costly but the Cubs have the payroll flexibility to take on his contract, which could lessen the prospect haul for the Rockies if their priority is to save money.

Colby Rasmus

Rasmus is 27 and is a tremendous 5 tool type talent with a solid approach -- but he's been inconsistent and was traded to the Blue Jays after reportedly clashing with then Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.  After two mediocre seasons, Rasmus broke through with a 5 WAR season last year.  Whether that's a sign of things to come or just another high point in a roller coaster career (he also had a 4 WAR season in 2010) remains to be seen.  Whether he's made available depends on how competitive the Jays are -- and whether the Cubs consider acquiring a player who is in his last year before free agency depends on how well the Cubs are doing and how confident they are about signing an extension.

Chase Headley

The Cubs front office is very familiar with Chase Headley and they continue to keep a friendly relationship with the Padres.  Headley is a switch-hitter with very good plate discipline and average tool across the board, though he did hit 31 HRs 2 years ago.  Perhaps with a move to a less spacious stadium like Wrigley, Headley can consistently put up better power numbers.  There are a couple of drawbacks.  One is that he plays 3B and the other is that he is a free agent after this season, so unless the same scenario that we laid out for Rasmus happens for Headley, then it's unlikely the Cubs would trade for him.  They could wait until he becomes a free agent, when he'll be 31 years old, but that may also depend on how close the Cubs think they are to contending.  On the bright side, Headley is a good athlete and those type of players tend to have longer longevity.  It also means he is capable of playing the OF, as he did earlier in his career.  He is not an ideal solution, but could end up being a solid fit depending on how the season plays out for the Cubs and their young talent.

Pablo Sandoval

There is no question Kung Fu Panda can hit, get on base, and hit for some power.  The question is whether the Cubs will need a 3B because it's unlikely Sandoval can play anywhere else except for 1B, which is already taken.  Even if a 3B spot opens up, it's also questionable whether the stocky Sandoval can stick there long term.

What the Cubs have right now are options and time to sort things out, so there is no real rush to fill this void.  They can wait to see if current players like Sweeney can bridge the gap or perhaps a flyer like Kalish or a position change candidate like Alcantara comes through and becomes a solution.  Maybe the NL adopts the DH soon-- but if none of these things come to pass, then it seems very likely the Cubs will have to look outside the organization to add balance to their lineup.

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  • Sorry if this has been asked before.
    Are the Cubs in a similar situation to the Cardinals in terms of players more suitable to 1B but are quality hitters that should be in the lineup? Could Rizzo move off his natural position of 1B and play an OF position similar to how the Cardinals have moved Allen Craig from 1B to OF to make room for Matt Adams?

  • In reply to CO CubsFan:

    ;Rizzo just isn't that athletic. He's been tried in the OF in the Red Sox system but that ended pretty quickly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What do you think the realistic chance is of the NL moving to a DH league? I have traditionally been a traditionalist and against the idea, but with the surplus of bats in our system I think it may be a good thing for the Cubs in the future. I would hate to trade away the next Papi because we don't have a spot on the roster for him.

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    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    That's like hoping it's a bad winter - but not just this winter , but every future winter - because you have a great snow blower. If you have the next Papi, don't change 120 years of rules, tradition and stats to use him - trade him for the next Maddux.

  • I think the cubs will have the surplus cost controlled prospects, arms with upside, or spare part vets to pry anyone they would like away for that bat. IF a majority of the prospects look like they will pan out, I think we see these deals being made sooner, rather than later. You know we're in the final phase of the rebuild when you see a deal being made for a left handed middle of the order type hitter, and a TOR starter, and given the projected talent coming to the surface, I don't think deals like this are too far away.

  • In reply to salesguy:

    Agreed that if Cubs look to deal for a LH hitter before next offseason it's a sign they think they're getting close.

  • The thing with AA is that we could afford a weaker power bat in the OF if we have big sticks across the IF and in the other corner OF spot. WC at catcher will be decent power and that would leave you with just two weaker power bats and the pitcher in your lineup. That is not a bad problem to have.

  • In reply to Bama Ben:

    I'm of that line of thinking as well.

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    Is what? Is what?? The best hope for Vogelbach is what?? The cliffhanger suspense is killing me!!

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Me too!

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I'm guessing that it would be that the 2016 CBA brings the DH to the NL. Or something more realistic like a trade. Or that Vogelbach is secretly the love child of Todd Ricketts and Beth Murphy...now that would make a good cliffhanger!

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    love your cliffhanger theory...lol

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks! I'm kind of hoping John doesn't go back and fill in that line. Just leave it as a mystery for the conspiracy theorists.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    LOL!

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Yes!! I knew it.

    Todd Ricketts: WILD CARD

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Ha! I had that filled in, I must have accidentally deleted it somehow.

  • I've never been on the Carlos Gonzalez 'bandwagon',.... but of the options obviously at hand - he may indeed be one of the better outside of the current system choices.

    Alcantara in LF or RF does fix some of the problems - at least potentially,.... but then the Cubs have to figure out how to split up the avaialble corner positions among Olt, Bryant, Soler, Baez, Candelario, Castro, and Rizzo. Obviously,... assuming all of these guys develop - somebody is going to end up on the trading block.

    Again,.... it is not a bad problem to have,.... but one has to admit for our Cubs,..... it has been a historically rare situation to find ourselves in.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    If a player like Alcantara or Turner is not on the Cubs team, Castro and Almora might be the only regulars who have 10 SB. I don't think every game, wind blowing in for example, the HR can be relied on for offensive effectiveness.

  • I've said it 1000 times on here.... it's way too early to worry about the 2015/2016 line-ups. First and foremost, we have to discover who will actually make it, as in they HAVE made it. Then we know which voids to fill.

    With the depth we've built up, we should have a few chips to trade for any voids.

    I really like the Kalish signing. We have something there.

    I'm really starting to grow impatient with B-Jax. He completely missed the go sign from the 3B yesterday and should have scored.

    Alcantara isn't the 2B of the future unless he hits his ceiling and others that are better than him (Baez/Castro/Almora) either fail or are traded. I just don't see his as LF... if they all pan out, he's trade bait. people want to fixate on his speed & switch hitting. But thats not enough. Castro can steal 25 bases and Baez might have a few 30 SB seasons in him...

    Sweeny, meh... if he is a late bloomer then sure. otherwise, he's Nate part deux to me. Which for the next 2 years might come in handy.

    CarGo & Rasmus are intriguing targets....

    I don't see this FO spending for Headley or Panda... Our future 3B is somewhere in our system currently.

    I thought they should have moved Candelerio to Catcher this winter... but I think they're smarter than me so....lol

    No love for Reggie Golden?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    *disclaimer to my Headley comment.... "IF" they are able to move a guy like Olt for a nice haul and have a protected pick and already going to lose a pick or two for puruing a TOR arm or two, then Headley is a possibility for a few years... we'll have the payroll flexibility and other positions will be cost controlled so.... Just so many moving parts it's hard to see it coming to fruition.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Golden bats RH, Hoosier.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    total brain fart on my end... I was thinking Rubi Silva... not sure why I mentioned Golden.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I disagree, if Alcantara hits his ceiling he is better than Castro. And I don't think it is possible for Castro to steal 25 bases. He tried last week to steal one and got hurt.

  • In reply to John57:

    Oh I checked and I am wrong. Castro stole 25 bases in 2012 but got caught 13 times. I still don't see him as a stealing threat at that success rate.

  • In reply to John57:

    You can disagree if you want.... but you're wrong.

    Castro has already stolen 25 bases in a single season at the MLB level. It's not like he's lost a step. he's only 24yo and still hasn't hit his "ceiling". Speaking of ceilings, he's already hit .300+ and made the AS twice, as a MLB regular... most think he is capable of 20 HR's in a season, though he's yet to hit more than 14. and he still hasn't hit his ceiling. Whereas the census "ceiling" for Alcantara is .280 with 12-15HR's.

    Oh, and he's head & shoulders above Alcantara defensively too....

    this is a ridiculous assumption by far too many. I like A.A., but if Castro & Baez both pan out, A.A.'s only hope for everyday PT is if one of them gets traded. Which I don't see them trading the better player and keeping the lessor one just because he's a S.H. Since he lacks the offensive ceiling for a corner OF, and Almora seems to be a safe bet to stick... he's either traded or a super-sub on future Cubs teams...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with everything, I like AA as well but lets not put him the catagory as some others. People act like castro is not going to get better and he is 30 years old. Castro is the better player and his ceiling is higher than AA. Why are people willing to wait on players that are older than castro to develop but castro is who he is ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    Sean, Castro is older than AA.

  • In reply to John57:

    I know castro is older I am talking about players like rizzo,olt. You wouldn't say they are finished products but its ok they have time.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I didn't mention Olt or Rizzo. I thought you were comparing AA and Castro. Sorry I didn't understand what you were saying.

  • In reply to John57:

    Thats ok I wasn't aiming it at you. Just pointing out that some people give the players and prospects that are older or same age as castro time to develop or reach there ceiling but not him.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with you on pretty much everything. I could see AA as a super utility type player. It would be nice to have a switch hitter come off the bench to start an inning if we really need a run or a pitch runner. The only problem is that, if he does hit his ceiling, he should be more than this, which is where your "trade bait" comes into play. It would be nice to have the Ranger's Profar situation in a year or two and flip someone for a good haul.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    quick clarification: I am not saying that AA is Profar-level talent. More comparing the situation of having 3 up-the-middle Tier One starters on a team. Gives you the option for dealing the odd man out for a position of need.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    HoosierDaddy, I just checked Fangraphs for their projected WAR values for Castro and AA. Fangraphs project out for the next 5 years. And the way I read their data, Castro has the higher WAR the first two years and AA the higher WAR the next 3 years. So it looks like their value is pretty close to each other. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. I would give Castro the higher AVG and AA gets the higher OBP and speed. For a leadoff type player, OBP and speed are very important. Then there is the left handed situation. The Cubs look like they will need more LH hitters in the future. AA solves that problem too. The Cubs don't have to decide right now what to do with AA since AA will probably spend the whole year in AAA learning how to play 2B and Castro will be playing SS in the majors.

  • Barney at DH today. lol.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    More like DEO. Designated Easy Out.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Two sets of nouns I never thought I would see used together.

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    And here's to hoping the NL does adopt the DH and that they do it soon. I am largely a purist, but if one league has the DH (and the player union will never allow for the DH position to be eliminated entirely), then it's quite unfair for the other league to not also have it. Because of the DH, the AL has an advantage over the NL not only when it comes to head-to-head match-ups, but also during free agency for position players.

    For those reasons, I'd like for sides to even out ASAP. Plus I'd like to pencil in a theoretical lineup that includes both Rizzo and Vogelbach...

    Thoughts on when the NL could possibly adopt the DH?

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Dont be surprised if in the next CBA the NL adopts the DH. From the Cubs standpoint, dont forget Vogelbomb has said he wants to play in the field and not DH.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Vogelbach and Rizzo could share the DH and 1B positions letting Dan play in the field some.

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    Oh, and one more thing - Jason Heyward could be a potential LH hitter target in the near future. His walk-year is 2015, and he'll be only 25 years old that year...

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I've got a few friends that went to Disney for Braves ST and they said J-Hey was looking great and he has reportedly added some muscle this off-season. This is a big year for him. If he finally breaks out and has that MVP type season that everyone was predicting for him... no way the Braves let him see FA...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think that guarantees he hits FA. Braves can't afford MVP caliber players at market prices. Their TV deal is apparently one of the worst in the majors. Heyward breaks out and he is a guaranteed FA that only big market teams can afford.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Thats what happens when the TV station owner basically owns the team. Turner made his $ off TBS being one of the first cable stations, and the contract is just like the Cubs and WGN.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    So Freddie Freeman isn't all-star caliber?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That's certainly a strong possibility. That said, there's a sense from my readings that the Braves had enough "superstar" cash for only one player, and they had to choose between Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. Obviously, Freeman received the huge extension this past offseason, while Heyward received only a two year deal that only bought out his two remaining arbitration years.

    The Braves aren't super rich, and I think there's a chance Heyward could be made available via trade next offseason. Not a huge chance, but a chance.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    You and mjvz might be right... but the way they've been locking up their young core players, I just don't see them letting him get away. Assuming he becomes what everyone originally thought he would be. That 2yr deal may have come with that caveat.

    Injuries have been a big part of it, but still he's been inconsistent year to year... But if can be had, I'd love to get him!

  • Jason Heyward. FA in 15-16. 25 years old at that time. The Braves are locking up everyone they can, but it appears he is headed to FA.Gets on base, good defense, some power. Seems like a guy this FO would jump all over him I think. The bidding will be huge, but if a left handed hitter is what we need, then he is the guy to get.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I can see a scenario with the Cubs having a roster filled with exciting and cheap young players at the end of next season, and then the Cubs open the wallet and sign Heyward and Price for huge money to fill in the missing pieces for their order and rotation.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    As I noted above, I've been eyeing Heyward, too. If he reaches free agency after the 2015 season, then it's plausible he'll command a $200mm contract. So I'm thinking the Cubs should maybe target him next offseason via trade and then extend him. The return price will be steep, but Heyward has potential superstar ability for the next 8 years.

    A lineup of Almora, Heyward, Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Castro, Castillo, and (8th guy) sounds awfully tempting...

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Heyward is an interesting possibility. I've thought about him in the past but he slipped my mind today. If he becomes available, I would love for the Cubs to inquire.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Other than both his previous performance and projected ability, what I love about him most is that 2014 is only his 24-age season. There's so much potential left in that guy. Just needs to stay healthy.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    My question for Price is like my question for Fielder 2 years ago. Will he take less than a 5 year deal?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Defintely have to be wary of a deal for Price. I think he will be 31 at that time, so length of deal is more important than salary in my opinion. I don't see him taking less than 5 years though. I think 5-6 years is the minumum for him. They key would be avoiding 7-8 year deal. Assuming he is still pitching at the top of his game at that point, I would not have an issue with 5 or 6 years at $25-30M per for him. Prior to the 2016 season seems like the right time to start supplementing our young guys with big FA/trades. We can afford a couple of overpays in FA.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Good name if he becomes available.

  • O/T, but has anyone heard anything about Marcus Mateo from the D-Backs camp? He was reportedly healthy and looking really good in the Dominican League and I hated that we lost him in the rule 5. He's out of options so not really sure if we could carry him all year with all the BP power arms we have anyways... just curious.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Mateo pitched yesterday. Seems like right now the Snakes might have to either return him to the Cubs, or work out a trade. Didnt look great yesterday, had velocity, no command.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    So the old Marcus is back? lol

    Thanks for the update.

  • These are Top 100 lefty hitters in the Minors.
    The Pirates, Dodgers, Rangers, and Red Sox have most of the left handed hitting prospects that could be available. Guys like Taveras and Singleton probably won't get traded or are not needed by the Cubs.
    Maybe another Cubs and Rangers trade. Vogelbach and Joey Gallo.

    Oscar Taveras, Outfield, Cardinals
    Gregory Polanco, Outfield, Pirates
    Joc Pederson, Outfield, Dodgers
    Corey Seager, Shortstop, Dodgers
    Rougned Odor, 2nd, Rangers
    Austin Meadows, Outfield, Pirates
    Jackie Bradley, Outfield, Red Sox
    Joseph Gallo, 3rd, Rangers
    Garin Cecchini, 3rd, Red Sox
    J.P. Crawford, Shortstop, Phillies
    Reese McGuire, Catcher, Pirates
    Jon Singleton, 1st, Astros
    Dominic Smith, 1st, Mets
    Taylor Lindsey, 2nd, Angels
    Nick Williams, Outfield, Rangers

    Switch Hitters
    Raul A. Mondesi, Shortstop Royals
    Blake Swihart, Catchers, Red Sox
    Alen Hanson, Shortstop, Pirates
    Rosell Herrera, Shortstop, Rockies

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Getting Joc Pederseon would be interesting to me. Polanco too, of course, but he' likely untouchable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What do you think about Shark+ at the deadline to LA for Pedersen and Zach Lee. We would pry have to add something of value to even it out tho.

  • And how desperate are the Dodgers for a starter? I am not sure they are, but injuries could make them so. Unless there is an OF'er traded, Joc is blocked. I don't know how Lee projects. I am sure John knows something.

  • May I ask why Vogelbomb isnt being included in the equation? Hes losing weight, apparently prefers not to DH and seems to have an excellent approach.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Because if he makes it he replaces Rizzo which doesn't add a left handed hitter to the lineup.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Vogelbach is on the list.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Soory John. didnt scroll down far enough to see VBomb.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I love watching the kid play. I'm rooting for him in the biggest way.

    After seeing him in Daytona, and watching some video of him in Boise & KC. A couple of things jump out me. He is deceptively quick once he's gets a head of steam. His feet are lethargic, and his first 3-4 steps are like he's in sand....

    With the weight loss, one can't help but think that should improve his range and defensive ability. But even under the best of circumstances, Rizzo is the superior defender. Not sure if VogelBOMB's new physique will profile him in LF or not. His bat will play there. He has the top end speed to be okay, but what about his routes and instincts? He's athletic for sure, but doesn't have the quick change of direction to recover if he gets a bad jump or read on a ball, etc... Haven't seen him throw so no idea about the arm. Not sure that's too relevant for a LF'r... Though you'd like them to be able to throw through the cut off man when necessary.

    IDK, I'm afraid the best hope for him to play in CHI is if the NL adopts the DH or Rizzo crashes & burns (which I dont see happening). Most likely, his value increases as he gets closer and we trade him, unfortunately.

  • If you look at BPA studies in the draft factoring in hit rate of picks is higher for position players, you have to look at Derek Fisher from UVA (LH OF), Braxton Davidson (LH OF/1B), Mike Conforto (LH, OF) as potential options for the 1st few picks in the entry draft.

    For the people in your minors Danny Lockhart also should be mentioned. He was further down in short season but thought enough of his pedigree and performance to use him as an emergency call up to AA last year.

  • In reply to Gator:

    I've seen Conforto and that kid can hit. He's not a good left fielder so he's very bat dependent. Would be interesting if he lasted until their 2nd pick but I just don't see that happening right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yea there are some lefties in the draft but not any that look like number 4 overall picks. How about a college lefty in the second round could any of the decent ones drop? Fisher will be gone but I didn't like him too much because of poor defense. I'm hoping Mike Papi is still there. Have you heard anything about him John?

  • If the Cubs were faced with having too many LH batters, yes, I would be concerned, because LH pitchers can eat them up for breakfast, as a general rule. However, I am not nearly as worried about the opposite situation, i.e., having a lot of RH batters. It depends upon the individual RH batters, of course, but, for whatever reason, as a general rule, RH batters do not have the same level of difficulty against RH pitchers as LH batters have against LH pitchers. A mix is best, of course, but as a manager, I would rather see all RH batters on my field or bench than all LH batters. You can really over-analyze and over-do, as a result of over-analyzation, this whole lefty-righty thing. You have to be careful.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    I'd be more worried about having too many lefties too. And I certainly don't want the Cubs to force the issue just to balance the lineup (we all remember Milton Bradley came in for that very reason). I do think the Cubs want to add at least one lefty hitter to the group and I think they'll be able to do it without sacrificing too much.

  • John, which non-roster players might go to AAA, because they
    are still fairly young and have some value

  • John, which non-roster players might go to AAA, because they
    are still farly young and have some value

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think Kalish is a sure bet and I think the middle infielders are solid bets as well, since having guys who can play SS is a necessary depth. That means Jeudy Valdez probably has a good shot of getting a AAA gig, Valaika too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, what are your thoughts on Valdez? Do we have a SS for TEN? He's only 25, but never played above AA and didn't exactly dominate there either. I thought he might just be an organizational guy, but he's not going to get any meaningful pt in Iowa with Baez there.

    Valaika has been up and down to the show and they may want him in a bench/utility role in Iowa. Thoughts?

    I like the Kalish signing, but that outfield in Iowa is going to be crowded with 4th/5th OF'r prospects....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Darvill and Saunders will probably fill SS at TEN

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Darvill has been focusing on 2B and was in over his head in the AFL. He was okay @ Daytona, but he didn't exactly dominate... It's possible he starts the year in Daytona. Either way, I think he focuses on 2B.

    Saunders is a possibility, he's an intriguing player. He finished 2012 strong, but he struggled offensively in half a season at Daytona last year. I don't think an AA promotion is guaranteed just yet.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Darvill will probably bounce around the IF. Even if he starts the year in Daytona, he probably wouldn't be there the whole year. Saunders will bounce around too (he may play some CF as well). They also picked up a guy named Ibarra as a MiLB FA (first name is escaping me). He'll probably be down there too since there really isn't any room at Iowa for him, but I didn't mention him because he isn't really a prospect from my understanding, just a body.

  • Why is Andre Ethier not in the discussion?

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-easily-attainable-shin-soo-choo-alternative/

    And 53 PAs last year is not going to sway me away from Sweeney's career 67 RC+ vs lefties.

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    Think there's a typo on Alcantara: last year he was much better from the left (.280/.359/.478 vs. .240/.329/.372) and his career numbers are close (.281/.334/.431 vs. .274/.334/.389).

  • I'd like to see the DH come to the NL and not just for V-bomb. It's about making a stronger lineup for the playoffs, where the Cubs will be in the years to come.

    I wonder what the practical arguments are against it? More expense for owners? It's more offense and that seems to drive the game. I used to hate the DH but crazy injuries like Prior's make you think about that kind of risk too.

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    Another guy that's worth thinking about -- who desperately needs a good year this year -- is Jacob Hannemann. AZPhil has him playing with Daytona in spring training, which seems to imply he'll start in Kane County. That strikes me as an aggressive placement for him but if he takes it and runs with it, it could be very good.

  • No love for Silva or Hannemann?

  • In reply to John57:

    Silva is a backup option, not a starter. And Hanneman is still a big question mark. Apparently a great athlete, but having gone on a 2 year mission he is behind in his development. Hard to count on a guy like that. Kind of a lottery ticket.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree that back-up is what Silva looks like now, but he could be better than that. He's not in my top 20 but with just a little more plate discipline he's in the running for a starting gig. His arm is really good and he can play all 3 outfield positions.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I got to see him in JAX last August and he impressed me. He's exciting to watch. He is basically a LH version of Junior Lake. Silva's speed & arm are plus tools, and he has some power... but his approach is hack-tastic, and i'm not sold on his Instincts yet.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That sounds like an interesting comparison though I think right now Silva's D is probably much better.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Hi Defense is better, and Lake might have a slight edge on arm strength & speed. But both can play all 3 OF position if they hit enough.

    They make an intriguing future platoon tandem or 4th/5th OF combo.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    as you said, a LH Junior Lake.

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    Well, one of the guys they could have had was Adam Eaton, but they passed on that option.

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    I was kinda leaning at trying to pry a LH OF from somewhere. We have an abundance of RH hitters and then there is Vogelbach. I know that it's rare that we see prospects dealt for prospects. But this might be a case that we could see it.

    I would target Austin Meadows from Pittsburgh for Vogelbach. There may be some other pieces thrown in from either side but basically this would help both clubs, imo.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I like this. I think it would take a second top 25 prospect to get Meadows, since his stock is rising. The guy has 5 tools. Volgelbach has 2.

  • Prospect hunting isn't a bad idea. I'd like someone a bit nearer to big league ready though. If we wait until our guys shake out first we may have to go with MLB players that are staring on teams that can't afford them anymore. Pitsburgh is one of those types of teams but probably won't do it while they are in contention. They would also tend to keep their minor leagers and sell their high priced talent like they did with Lofton and Ramirez.

  • Matt Wieters.

  • Speaking of lefties, how is Rock Shoulders development coming?

  • i LOVE how much leverage you have gotten out of Matt's pic of Vogelbach!

  • In reply to JamesInFLA:

    I love that pic! Great shot.

  • I think Jay Bruce hits the market after 2015. Cubs need to add some experience, as well as a lh bat. Plus he seems to hit well at Wrigley,

  • This is why I was so desperate for Ellsbury or Choo. Not only do they hit lefty, they hit leadoff, and they play the outfield, which is the only place this extra bat fits.

    We could regret not ponying up. This was our veteran lefty. I'm not sure who we can add now. Sweeney might surprise us all - without injuries last year, he was really putting together a power stroke.

    Vogelback can lose 30 more pounds. It's easy!!!

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    By the time we are ready to compete those guys are going to be on the downside of their careers. If they were younger when they reached FA I would have been fine with getting them this offseason, but they will be like 33+ before we are ready for WS contention. By the time this "need" comes around, we may have found an internal solution with a prospect like Hanneman or his like emerging, or we acquire a left handed bat when we deal Hammel/Veras/Schierholtz/etc, or maybe we find a Nate Schierholtz type off the scrap heap that surprises and becomes a long term fit.

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    Only if Ellsbury or Choo have access to the fountain of youth.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    I dont know Hack. VBomb is down to about 220 now. His body type makes me think maybe 205-215 might be his ideal playing weight.

  • Christian Yelich is my outside-the-box guess. Him hitting arbitration lines up nicely with when the Cubs should really start hitting their stride, and we all know how Scrooge McLoria feels about paying players.

  • One of my favorite scenes from Moneyball is when Billy Beane is talking to David Justice in the batting cage. So, with that in mind, the Cubs can always consider squeezing the last ounce of talent out of salary dump guys like Crawford, Ethier or Hamilton. Not a long-term solution, but rare is the case when a team can trot out the same eight guys year after year. Think Jim Edmonds with 19 HRs in 298 PA's for the '08 Cubbies.

  • I think you are missing one obvious option, Ethier on the LAD, he will be available and the Dodgers would like to rid themselves of a $13-17M salary through 2017 for what is now a 4th OF'er sitting waiting for an injury to Crawford or Kemp or see of Puig is fools gold.

    Ethier still can play adequate CF in Wrigley but could take over LF until the system fills in. I think the Cubs could make a $$ deal along with spare parts that fill LAD, in fact Cubs could possibly use the trade to rid/dump Castro and gain Ethier and one of LAD's surplus LHP starting pitching prospects while Cubs ridding themselves of a 40 man roster spot like Jackson or Szczur

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