It's early, but should Cubs consider making changes? Here are a few suggestions...

It's early, but should Cubs consider making changes?  Here are a few suggestions...
Josh Vitters (photo from BoysofSpring.com0

The Cubs are doing exactly what we were hoping they would not do -- and that is get off to a bad start.  There has been some progress but mostly the Cubs have been just good enough to lose.  Close losses and moral victories can only satisfy for so long.

The Astros called up one of their top prospects, George Springer, and I felt a twinge of jealousy that they have made their first significant move toward the future.  And while it's too early to call up Javier Baez or Kris Bryant, the Cubs could make some minor changes to shake things up a bit.

1. Ditch the platoon system

I understand why the Cuba are doing this and other teams such as the A's have found success with such a system, but the sporadic playing time, especially from the short-side of the platoon has led more to inconsistency than hitters maximizing their strengths.

It's time to play Mike Olt and Junior Lake on something closer to an everyday basis.   Platoon two veterans at 2B -- Emilio Bonifacio and Luis Valbuena.  Bonifacio's ability to switch-hit gives the Cubs some flexibility here because Valbuena can slide over to 3B and spell Olt against some tough lefties.

2. Send down Ryan Kalish, call up Josh Vitters

I really like Ryan Kalish and he clearly outplayed Vitters this spring in every facet of the game.  But Kalish hasn't played a whole lot in 2+ years and he's missed a lot of much needed reps.  He's put up some decent ABs but just can't seem to fall into a rhythm up at the MLB level.  I think Kalish is talented and still a potential piece for the Cubs in the future, so perhaps it's better to get him playing everyday right now at Iowa, then call him up when he's hitting on all cylinders.

Josh Vitters has gotten off to a solid start and has been playing with more effort since he was sent down -- even hurting himself trying to make a diving catch.  While I don't want to see him get hurt, it's a lot better than the alternative, which we saw when Vitters let a foul fly ball fall just a few feet away from him.

Another player who has performed well in AAA is infielder Chris Valaika and I think if the Cubs trade Darwin Barney, then Valaika should take his spot and provide a more offensive minded utility infielder they can bring off the bench.

3. Keep Zac Rosscup in the majors

I think the Wesley Wright signing was a mistake and I know that's harsh to say in April but his velo is down and he doesn't have the sharp command to pitch around that.  It's pretty obvious the Cubs (or at least Rick Reneria) have lost confidence in him as he went 9 days without pitching despite an overworked bullpen.  Rosscup is throwing strikes and we know he can miss bats.  He fits in with the younger, more talented portion of the Cubs bullpen.

4. Call up Jake Arrieta

The Cubs have had good pitching for the most part but that has basically come from Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, and Jason Hammel.  The Cubs can still improve the bottom two spots in their rotation.  Arrieta pitched into the 6th inning, throwing over 80 pitches, so it appears he's ready to take on a full load, if not now,then at least after one more rehab start.

5. Stop bunting and start walking

Easier said than done, right?  The first part is easy. The Cubs are an inefficient offense to begin with and they keep giving away even more outs.  And while Welington Castillo bunted on his own yesterday, the Cubs should re-focus on out avoidance.  They've had some good ABs but it still seems that even when they get to a 3 ball count, the Cubs are eager to swing away rather than just get on base.  That culture has to change.

6. Start shopping veterans

Short term trades

(And by this I mean just start looking around --- no rush to deal anyone but no harm in putting out feelers)

Nate Schierholtz and Darwin Barney

It's nice to have these types of veterans around but if they aren't helping you win, then it's time to move on and see if you can find player who can -- if not now, then in the near future.  The Cubs probably won't get much for either player.  Barney is essentially a utility player at this point and Schierholtz is a platoon outfielder.  I think Schiertholtz should continue to start as long as he's here but if he doesn't appear to be part of the future -- and the present is starting to slip away -- then the Cubs should start to see who can help in 2015 and beyond.

The LHRPs

We mentioned Wesley Wright as a guy they may need to move on.  They can't trade him at this point, but at a $1.43M salary it's not going to be a huge loss if they lose him on waivers.  James Russell is walking more hitters and giving up more line drives.  He's still young and cheap with a solid track record as a lefty RP so he may still have some value.

Trades down the road

Edwin Jackson

Even if you think he can turn things around, it's becoming doubtful he's a core player and if the Cubs aren't going to win in the present, then what's the point of keeping him around?  I don't think the Cubs should do this soon as his value is at rock bottom right now.  The Cubs will have to eat salary and take little in return.  But if he starts to rebound then it's possible somebody will take a chance on a good, still relatively young arm with a solid track record.  Kyle Hendricks is pitching well despite the high ERA at Iowa (1.97 FIP) and the Cubs could insert him as a replacement.  He'd give the Cubs a different look -- less velo but a guy who will throw strikes and avoid hard contact.

Jeff Samardzija

If the Cubs continue losing, Samardzija will not want to stick around for another fire sale -- and it will make him even  less willing to sign a team friendly long term deal when the team has an uncertain future.  Previously interested teams like Arizona -- who could be in panic mode because of their poor start due to poor starting pitching -- or Toronto, who are off to a solid start but could still use an upgrade - could both  renew interest.  The Mariners continue to be a darkhorse, particularly after possibly losing Taijuan Walker, but they really don't have a lot to offer right now as far as MLB ready talent.

7.  The Lineups

Vs. RHP

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
  2. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  3. Starlin Castro, SS
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  6. Mike Olt, 3B
  7. Junior Lake, LF, occasionally Josh Vitters to keep him fresh
  8. Welington Castillo, C

Vs. LHP

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
  2. Justin Ruggiano, CF
  3. Starlin Castro, SS
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Mike Olt, 3B
  6. Junior Lake, LF
  7. Josh Vitters, RF
  8. Welington Castillo, C

Rotation

  1. Samardzija
  2. Hammel
  3. Wood
  4. Arrieta
  5. Jackson (Hendricks if you can find a taker for Jackson)

Will this make much of a difference for 2014?  Probably not.  But it certainly can't make them any worse than 4-10.  There is still no reason to panic after a dismal 4 game losing streak, but it might be getting close to finding out what the Cubs have and begin to answer questions for 2015.  But no matter what happens, the Cubs need to get veterans this offseason -- preferably ones that can get on base with some regularity -- to team up with their young core and upcoming prospects.  And if the Cubs finish with a top 10 draft pick again, the Cubs may even want to take a risk and try to land that ace they've been lacking.  The Cubs can't just rely on prospects and whether it's through trade or free agency, the Cubs need to get more experienced (but not old) MLB talent to surround the talented kids for 2015 and beyond.

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  • Platoon system was a great idea but its failing spectacularly. This team isn't going to sniff .500 so I agree, get the guys that matter as many at bats as you can and see if they are in the long term plans.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    The Cubs dont have a Josh Reddick or a Brandon Moss, like the As do, who put up above-average, not league average , numbers against opposite handed pitchers. Reddick hit 32 HRs 2 years ago in 480ABs 2 years ago, the Cubs platoon players dont come close to that, and Moss hits in the low 300swith 20plus HRs. If we are going to platoon , thats what you need. Not .180 hitters with 5 hrs.

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    I like your thinking. I'm just done with barney's bat and want to see Olt play everyday. I would consider sending kalish down just to get ABs and have him come back to play everyday when he's ready.

  • Pretty much agreed on every point you make John - although I was never very happy about the W. Wright signing this offseason. Even IF he had been as good as he has ever been - he's at best an expensive improvement over what the Cubs already had on staff in Rusin and Rosscup to spell Russell as the lefty out of the pen. And yes - I know that Rusin still has some value as a spot lefty starter,....

    Have never been a fan of platoon systems - especially if there are young players who need reps involved in them. If it was a pair of Veterans splitting time, or journeyman FAs filling space until something better came along needing live playing time - then as a short-term plan a platoon can be built to be better than the sum of its parts. The Cubs don't have that right now - they've got the youngsters needing playing time.

    And Vitters appears to be earning the right to get one more whack at the bigs with the Cubs - he's outplaying what we have in Kalish right now (although I agree Kalish is more of a potential long-term piece) - and if the Cubs EVER want to see value out of their Draft pickof Vitters, and the time he has spent in the minors with them - now's the time.

    4-10 is depressing - to be sure. But I would actually be somewhat less depressed if those 10 losses were uniformly blow-outs. There were a bunch of very winnable games in that mix if only there had not been a bullpen implosion or if any semblance of offense had been around that day.

  • lake is more primed for right than vitters IMO.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    I think LF is easier to play and Lake still has some issues reading. You could probably try it either way and see what works best.

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    When I saw that Rosscup came up for the game yesterday, I had to check and see if he had ever logged any innings in the past (10 appearances last year). Had he only played yesterday and then had some Moonlight Graham moment, he could have been a great trivia question as only player to exclusively wear #42 since Mariano.

    This is what 4-10 does to you.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    I too forgot that Rosscup got about 6 inning with the Cubs last year, so I was thinking how awesome it must have been for this kid to be at Yankee Stadium facing Derek Jeter (and getting him out) in his first big league appearance. But even if it wasn't his first time in the show, I'm sure it was still awesome for the kid. And he looked pretty good. Let's keep him up here!

  • John:
    I love your reports. But I just don't understand you and others trying to build the Legend of Mike Olt. His fielding is not superb...not as good as Valbuena's and his hitting is somewhat dismal...Have you checked his average lately? I don't see how playing him every day will improve the Cubs.

  • In reply to HankSauer rules:

    Olt's got the talent to be the long-term answer at 3B. Valbuena will never be more than a platoon player on a non-competing team unless he's hitting 8th or 9th. If the potential is there, now's the time to find out if he can do it or not. Olt's OPS+ is also almost 20 points better than Valbuena's. Let him play, see if we fleeced Texas or not. We know what Valbuena can do if Olt's a bust.

  • In reply to HankSauer rules:

    there is no legend of Mike Olt but to say Valbuena needs AB's over Olt is crazy. Olt is a very good defender (he has had a couple early hiccups) his average/SO are the same as Valbuena and Valbuena is hitting at his career numbers we dont know what Olt's numbers are yet. Olt has more power and RBI's let him play give him until july ist if he isnt hittiing by then. I think we will see Alcantera at 2nd and Baez at 3rd. Past June Valbuena doesnt factor in with the Cubs only as a utility player and that is what all Cub fans should expect.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I meant if Olt is still hitting somewhere under .240 by July 1st. I think we will see Alcantera & Baez get their chances in the infield.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    John I agree on Kalish if he isnt going to play send him down. Though he doesnt looked over matched at the plate, he needs to play everyday to improve. There is a lot to like about Kalish.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Agreed -- I think he just needs to play everyday and if you're not going to do it at the MLB level, do it in Iowa, but I still think he can very much be a part of the future in Chicago.

  • In reply to HankSauer rules:

    I'm not John, but my thing with Olt is why not play him. The chance that Valbuena is a core piece is about 1%, Olt may be only at 10%, but it's worth the risk. Same with Lake.
    The one thing I think John hit on the head is consistent playing time. I may be old school, but I think players perform better when they play regularly.

  • In reply to HankSauer rules:

    I don't think Olt is a star, but I think he can be a solid everyday regular at 3B if he hits and fields like he did two years ago. It's worth finding out. Valbuena is a very good utility player, but a marginal starter -- though I do like that he gives good ABs. And at any rate, he can get the same amount of playing time at 2B.

    Neither Olt or Valbuena are going to hit for average, by the way. They just aren't that type of hitter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Valbuena starts more than twice a week, that's a problem.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    Valbuenna shouldnt be getting more than 250abs in a season.

  • Unless they are content to live with another 100 loss season, they need to do something. I think this team is better than shown, but the platoon system is preventing anyone from getting in a groove. Any and all of your options should be considered. Based upon what I have seen of teams in both leagues so far, they are not far off. In any case, nothing that a few clutch hits would not cure.

  • In reply to xhooper:

    xhooper, yes, they don't care about losses again this year. SO why play anyone over 25 years of age? Why not play Lake and Olt every day, and Vitters, Jackson and Watkins as well. We already know Valbuena, Ruggiano, Sweeney, and Barney are not starters in this league, and that Schierholz is, at best, a platoon guy.

  • With Rosscup's success last year, I didn't really understand why the FO went out and signed Wright. With Russell, Rosscup, Rusin, and Raley, the Cubs had plenty of LHP options. But no, they had to mess with that nice pattern, go with a different letter to start last names for their lefties, and look where we are.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Rosscup had command issues last year. Giving him a spot on the big league club this year without competition would have been foolish. The issue is they signed a terrible pitcher (Wright) to pitch in front of him. Had they made a better choice in FA there wouldn't be an issue here.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    The Cubs could have tried to sign Matt Thornton or Jhonny Venters. Even Eric OFlatherty would have been worth a good look. Wesley Wright sucked in Tampa, he sucked in Houston and he sucks even more in Chicago.

  • I think you buried your headline- what do the Cubs have to lose? The upside is they develop long term pieces, become more watchable and find a better fit for wrong place/time guys like Barney and Nate.

    The downside ....well it's hard to envision a more offensive offense.

  • Hank Sauer fail comment, Valbeuna is an established MLB utility guy , Olt is a former top 20 spect in all of baseball that fell because of injury, he is healthy now and needs to show if he is that top 20 spect type player or a MLB bench type after injury, also all thru his minors career he was regarded as a plus glove in the field , young players who are used to playing everyday usually have issues when having to come off the bench add to that the jump up in competition and its not hard to see a young guy struggle when coming of injury plus not getting the playing time he is used to. If your happy with Valbuena as a starter then you are happy with a sub .500 team in the coming years as well

  • I agree with most of the points, but vehemently disagree with one. Castro should not be put in the three hole, he has never hit well there and is much more mentally suited for 5-6-7 and has had success there recently.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Maybe so. I'm of the mind that you hit no matter where you are given a large enough sample size.

  • John,

    Where do you stand on Alcantara's readiness? I believe we're already past the point where he'd pick up a year of service time this season and I'd really rather see him than Bonifacio/Valbuena/Barney, even though the former two have done nothing to lose their jobs.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    We're not close yet, the Super 2 cutoff is at the 22% mark of the season, which would fall in July. The only reason Springer of the Astros got brought up so early is because his agent and the union were trying to file a grievance against the team for keeping him down. I think it will still be a while for the big prospect names to get called up.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I think he needs to be a bit more patient before they bring him up. He's been in swing mode and he doesn't have enough of a track record as a disciplined guy for me to have confidence. He's hitting, but want to see him down at AAA for awhile.

  • Funny you write this piece, John, I was just asking that question on the previous article lol... Thanks for the answers.

  • John: I generally like your ideas - smacks of panic after 14 games but I see the point. I wondered about sending Olt down to get AAA at bats after his problems last year. I do not get a chance to see many games (not a bad thing so far) so I have not seen him hit much. Then I looked at his line next to Valbuena's. Almost the same guy except one takes walks and the other hits home runs and gets RBIs.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    They're all very minor changes so I don't know if it's panic. It's basically re-using what they have in a different way and letting a guy like Kalish get ABs, I've far from given up on him.

  • Kalish is one of the things I totally agree on. He looks lost and may indeed have real potential. I think the trade off veteran ideas would seem like panic (right or wrong). As you noted, there are teams with much higher hopes that are not much better, or worse in the case of Arizona. And it is so early. But I do not necessarily disagree.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    I meant the trading of veterans to be more down the road -- but I think if they get an offer for Barney, they should consider it even this early in the season -- and I feel the same to a lesser degree about Schierholtz and Russell.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Russell has a dead arm, John.Not only is his velocity down, but his breaking pitc hes have no crispness. The "pitch" he threw to Alvarez last week that got crushed a good single A player would have sent into orbit.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I say release Wright & Barney lets see what Rosscup & Alcantera can do.

  • John,I agree a lot with what you said. It's probably too late now to even worry about the Shark. I'd trade him now to the highest bidder. As for the platoon system, lose it. I think it hurts more players than it helps. They get to the point where they don't know where they stand and since the manager thinks they can't hit in certain situations then they start believing it of themselves. A good example of the negative effect of this is LaHair. He may not have had the skills to last but Sveum undermined his confidence by infrequent play after one month when he carried the club and then even yanking him for a pinch hitter. There may be others in this same category.

    Agree with trading Schierholtz and Barney, but I'd call up a few players now to shake things up and not just pitchers. And yes, get rid of so much bunting. If the player knows what he's doing its fine but apparently they don't have skill. If they did, a suicide bunt could be useful.

  • And keep in mind everyone, that these are suggestions. None are certain to work and none are major changes -- so even if they do work it won't make a big difference.

    I also want to add that these changes don't need to be made today, the Cubs can give the current set-up more time, but I think eventually they'll need to tinker with the roster.

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    I'm kinda shocked seeing you suggest some of these.

    I was cautiously optimistic about this team until the St. Louis series. They were getting good pitching and having good at bats and I could see the pieces start to come together. And then, almost like a switch had been turned off, they started helping the pitcher and just breezing through innings. That was magnified by Bonifacio's unsustainable start unsustaining itself. They got very lucky that Grimm and Castillo bailed them out of the first St. Louis game or we'd be looking at a 6 game losing streak right now.

    Last night was my worst fear for this team, and the vision I had when I made my prediction at the start of the season: Castro and Rizzo playing well; everyone else on the team regressing (or just being themselves.)

    I argued from the beginning that Olt should be starting every day at third, and the logic was that, if we were to have a surprisingly good team, his failure wouldn't mean the difference between winning and losing many (if any) games and his experience could come in useful down the road. At this point, the season is close to lost, so it's time to start playing the kids.

    I'd go a step further than you, Kalish needs ABs, so let him get them in the 8 hole every day. The starting outfield should be: Kalish-Lake-Vitters. (I think Vitters absence might be about more than his play right now, though.) It's time to get a serious look at where these guys can fit because the big waves are very close (Baez should be up by July-August) and knowing where there is room for them short term is going to be important.

    The Astros have been rebuilding from the beginning and everything they've done has been to serve the rebuild. The Cubs have been trying -- despite the "tanking" grief they get -- to serve two masters. I think it's time to commit to the rebuild fully and see where that takes us.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree. They're not going to even win the division so play the kids and add with another house cleaning and possibly the #1 pick in next year's draft. And how do we fix the pick off problem?

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    In reply to edubbs:

    I'm serious here: if you had Lake, Olt, Kalish, Vitters, etc in the starting lineup every day, they might just surprise and compete. There's a lot of talent there and, if they develop it, things could come together quickly. But I just don't think that's going to happen when Olt gets embarrassed against Tanaka and then sits against (the easier) Pineda.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wow I couldn't agree more. They all have so much more talent than the people playing now. Why not give that a chance? Kalish lake Vitters rizzo Castro Castillo and olt are players who could actually be a part of the teams future if they perform. If they don't perform it is not like anything is lost considering how bad this team is right now.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Well, I think they're minor changes but if they aren't going to win with veterans than they may as well play the kids. They may want to give it more time, but I think they have to start thinking about tinkering and looking ahead.

  • How would you grade RR as a manager so far? Is it too early for a grade? I'd love to see more hit and runs instead of the bunts.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    No stupid nicknames a la Quade earns him at least a 'C'.

  • I'm not in favor bringing up prospects who are still developing in AAA, including those that are hot hitters at the moment. Vitters has 500+ at bats in Iowa so get him up here and play him, but no hurry with Alcantera no matter what the mlb guys are doing.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    agreed. It's time to see if Vitters can hit MLB pitching as expected.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed.

  • Good piece and completely agree. While I would like to see Olt play most everyday, also don't want to forget the guy went through a brutal season last year. The coaching staff has a tough job with him to build his confidence by setting him up to succeed, but still giving him enough bats to develop and top it off by doing it at the major league level with everyone watching. Ideally if the Cubs weren't so log-jammed at 3rd might have served him well to spend a month or two at Iowa to build confidence if nothing else.

  • Way too soon to panic and start selling off pieces. The season isn't even 10% in the books yet.... I haven't researched it, but I'm certain there's others teams that started as bad or worse and ultimately ended up making the playoffs.. Granted, we have a MLB talent void... but anything is possible.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't disagree with anything and would be okay with most of those changes now... I just think it's too soon to sell off pieces. Some teams in the hunt nearer the deadline may pay more then than they would now...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree about not selling off yet, just talking about minor moves over the next few weeks, Sell-off won't be until later in the season -- if it happens at all.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Selling off pieces is not panic. It is just a confirmation that has-beens and never-weres are not worth watching.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    The "has-beens and never-were's" will not bring back a bag of peanuts in a trade. If an asset has value to a competitive team, them certainly they have some value to a team starved for talent like ours... To prematurely pack it in on the entire season 14 games into a 162 game season qualifies as panic and sends the wrong message to everyone. Why sit tight through FA all winter only to sell off 2 weeks into the season?

  • RR gets an F from me, playing DFA vets in place of young players the FO needs to see develop, too many bunts in the wrong situations , literally a different lineup every day where no 1 player can get comfortable. not using pinch hitters ie yesterday for Barney . inconsistant use of the bullpen , this guy is a bench coach and it shows early on, learning on the job shouldn't be done at the MLB level , just my opinions .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I agree with everything you said, however, if Rizzo and Castro continue to show improvement, that would be enough for me to raise the grade to a C-.

  • John,

    I am afraid your attempts at Upgrading the Cubs overall performance is an exercise in futulity..,but they gotta keep trying. For gosh sakes we only played 14 games.

    The one things that stands out for me is OLT. Let him play Most days..,see what he'll give you. You've got Bryant for later..,so play Olt now. If he fails, a .210 player , Valbuena, isn't gonna outplay him and makes us all say "Oh, if we only played Valbuena everyday, we would have been a .500 club". Besides, you can get Valbuena in at 2B until you do something with Barney. Barney would benefit, slightly, if he went to a team that hits and needs a little "D".

    Secondly, I agree with you on Kalish. Send him down, let him play EVERYDAY in the minors, put Sweeney,Sherholtz, and Riggiano to the test.

    Thirdly.., be careful with Arieta. Take your time. One thing we know for sure.., we want him to become a Core pitcher for our rotation, so give him every chance to succeed.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Oh, I don't know how much this is going to actually improve the team, but it can't hurt and maybe you find out about some young players in the process.

  • I think there are situations where a successful sacrifice bunt can score a runner who otherwise wouldn't have scored. But the bunts I've seen so far resulted mostly in strikeouts after failed bunt attempts, force outs or double plays. If your players can't execute a successful sacrifice bunt, don't try it.

  • Strange weather this year, and it's still cold, really hard to make judgements in my view. I wonder how much it is effecting the Cub hitters. The other teams are getting it done, but not by much more than the Cubs when they are facing us.

    Would much rather make these judgements at the end of the month, but no bad suggestions above in John's article.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Good points. It's not like the teams the Cubs are playing are crushing the ball right now.

  • If one is a marginal MLer(DFA/platoon) pushing 30yrs. old, he had better hit the ground running or get out of the way. Nate pulled it off last year and Bonifacio this year, but Barney, Ruggiano, and Sweeney have not. Time is not on their side.

  • I've said before that I hate these platoons. Nobody gets into any sort of groove and you end up with days like yesterday where the Cubs almost score a run in 18 innings of play.

    Why not bring up Vitters?
    The guy's been in the minors long enough. Maybe he'll do something.

  • I'm afraid Emilio Bonifacio is turning into Neifi Perez 2.0

    A guy who has an unbelievably hot start and parlays it into an entire season of out making at the top of the order. I know we are not spoiled for options at this point, but why is our utility guy penciled in to start every game?

  • With the season sinking fast I don't think even .500 can be salvaged.

    I'm all for getting rid of Spellcheck soon. He's actually exceeded my expectations so far. I don't think the Dbacks will bite though. The worst team in baseball, albeit mid-April, making a move for him would be disaster and their GM should be veto'd and fired if he considered it.

    Hopefully the Jays/Mariners keep up decent starts.

    I've been anti-Vitters but this is one of the worst OF's in baseball, couldn't hurt to give him another chance.

    Our #4-#5 starters are a gaping hole, with the run support our good starters get we'll still be a bottom of the barrel team.

    Rizzo and Castro are doing good so far and the team is losing, I'm ok with that. Let's get rid of Shark to highest bidder before August 1st and try to get that #1 pick.

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    I've been out on the lake. So this is my first chance to chime in on this topic, but for those of you on suicide watch, please look at the schedule and the current and 2013 records of the teams we've played so far. After doing that, if you still want to go jump off the Sears tower or play out the suicide scene from The Godfather II, be my guest.

    Are there some things I'd like to see changed? Yes, but I'm not shocked at the Cubs record, in spite of some pretty good starting pitching from Shark, Hammel and Wood and demonstrative improvement from Rizzo and Castro.

    They've played some pretty tough teams. Also, some of the personnel on this team are what they are, and they're never going to be anything more than that. It just is what it is. They're warm bodies to fill positions until hopefully much better talent arrives.

    No one with half a brain thought or thinks this team is playoff caliber. A lot of things would have to go right just for this team to finish near .500, but that doesn't mean this team can't or won't show real measurable improvement after 2014 is all said and done. Lets see how they play against some struggling teams before passing judgement. Baseball is a game of averages. Lets see if things even out somewhat.

    I've said it before, and I'm going to say it again, so deal with it. It's possible for the young core of this team to get better and the team's record to not get a whole lot better. There are just to many holes around them. 3 good starters and 2 crap ones does not a good rotation make, and Castro and Rizzo can't score all the runs by themselves. They need help.

    So I stand by what I said before the start of the season. The core shows real improvement, but the team doesn't improve enough overall to cost them a protected pick in the 2015 draft. To me, that's plenty of progress for 2014.

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    Has John changed his stance on Vitters? Just giving you some crap.

    I agree with almost everything-especially Kalish-Vitters and the platoon system. Need to give lake more reps on both offense and defense. Olt won't find a groove unless he plays and 4th outfielders like Schierholtz, Sweeney and Ruggiano should be coming off the bench or moved.

    I think promoting Hendricks and putting Jackson in the pen would be good moves too.

    Aside from the bunts I like Ricky. He's experimenting but you can see a diff in Rizzo and Castro.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Ha! I think he deserves a 2nd chance at least. He just has to make up for it by working hard and being prepared to play. Hopefully the results follow, but even if they don't,. at least you have a better idea if he can help you.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Vitters gets a bad rap. He's had an ops of over .800 in almost every season as a pro. Yes-we all expect more from a top pick but that doesn't mean he sucks. I also think he arrested his development trying to make it work at 3rd. Sweet swing, lots of doubles in that bat.

  • Really outstanding ideas, JA. I like to play me some contrarian roles in this Blog sometimes, but danged if I could find one of your ideas that didn't make sense. And nothing to add really, you took all my ideas ;-(

    More Lake, Olt, bring up Vitters, red carpet for Arrieta, yes. I really, really wanted DarBar to get off to a good start and prove last year was a fluke. But we really need offense, and he just isn't providing any to speak of.

  • The Cubs have one of the most difficult opening schedules of any team in the majors. The only sub .500 team from last year that they play the first month of the season was the home opener against the Phillies. The Cubs had very little chance to get off to a good start record-wise.

    I am not surprised by the lack of wins. I am disappointed in the slow starts by some of the vets that are MLB caliber players (Schierholtz, Jackson, Veras, Sweeney, Valbuena). I am frustrated by the lack of playing time for Lake, and to a lesser extent Olt (not a big fan). I am disgusted by the bunting. On top of everything else... I have to watch BUNTING?!?!?!?!

    To me there are only 10 guys on the roster right now that matter, and nine of them have all played well to begin the season: Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, Lake, Shark, Wood, Rondon, Grimm, Strop. The only one that has struggled is Olt. The other 15 guys are placeholders, and not very good ones at that. A couple of them may get flipped and return a little something for the future (Hammel in particular), but is anyone particularly surprised that a team composed of more than 50% placeholders can't compete with the likes of the Pirates, Cards and Yankees?

  • In reply to mjvz:

    This is how I am tracking progress:

    Last year that were 5 guys on the opening roster that mattered: Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, Shark, Wood

    By adding Lake, Olt, Grimm, Strop and the development of Rondon now means that number has doubled.

    By this time next year that number should be doubled again. Some combination of Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, Villanueva, Szczur, Vitters will be added to the position player group. And some combo of Hendricks, Jokisch, Edwards, Rosscup, Ramirez, Vizcaino, Rivero will be added to the pitching staff. The time for place holders is almost at an end. But it isn't here quite yet.

  • I probably veer on the letting the kids play more than most -- I thought the Olt and Lake platoon was bad from the beginning because I do not think of Sweeney and Kalish (and definitely not) Valbuena as meaningful pieces going forward. I know I could be wrong about Kalish especially, but I just really don't see it.

    With that intro, I am surprised that everyone is ready to believe in Vitters. I agree I'd like to give him a chance if he continues to perform, but I'd also like to see his continued performance into at least mid-May. This seemingly contradicts my position on other players -- what has Olt or Lake ever shown at AAA, for example? But Vitters struggled not only with performance at the majors but also effort. I want him to continue his pace at AAA, where he can hit 3rd or 4th and be an important piece (and protection for Javy B) and demonstrate this run is more than just a Bonifacio-esque early season hot streak.

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    Agreed on every point John.

    The only thing I would add/change is the fifth starter spot. I think Grimm should be the fifth starter over Hendricks for a few reasons.

    1. If this will be a losing season he is completely wasted as a reliever.

    2. He has already shown that he can get hitters out in the bigs.

    3. Has had more than a few months of AAA under his belt.

    He hasn't really done anything to make you think "he can't be a starter" yet and hasn't had a chance here. I'd like to give him one more before we move on to Hendricks(who I think needs a full year at AAA).

    everything else spot on.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    This might be a double post but I really like the Grimm idea. Never thought of it, great job Marcel.

    I'd like to see the second half rotation as 1. Wood 2. Arietta 3. Grimm 4. Hendricks 5. Jackson (I mean we still have to play him)

  • I see I'm late to the party again, but this post is so refreshing. Love pretty much all the suggestions... love the lineups... and I also love the idea of the Cubs actually acquiring a couple of vets to start leading this team by example. I honestly wouldn't mind a Greg Maddux (redux) type signing as long as it's not blocking a younger, developed pitcher... that is to say, give one slot on the pitching staff to a wily veteran pitcher who can be a sort of 2nd pitching coach for Hendricks, Arrieta, et al.

  • John, agree with all of this (and the sooner the better) but curious about your thoughts on Veras?

    Also, can you speak to the Cubs culture of the FO relationship with the Manager? In other words, assuming that Theo/Jed agree with your recs, are they the types that wouldn't hesitate to sit with Ricky and suggest that he play Olt/Lake, stop platooning, and enough with bunting already? Or, would they take a hands off approach?

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I think Veras would be a decent 7th and 8th inning guy. He seems to have LaTroy Disease - fear of the 9th. I'm not sure what they were thinking with Wright. He has always sucked.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I agree with what Rob said. Make him the 7th or 8th inning guy. Command isn't good enough to be a closer. I'm not sure the Cubs future closer is on the team right now, though. Strop and Grimm have great arms and filthy out pitches with the breaking balls, but can't throw strikes. Rondon might be a better fit since he's more consistently around the plate, but his stuff isn't quite as nasty.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What about your thoughts on the FO r/ship with the Manager?

  • Great article once again John!!! It's getting to the point that I don't need to even see the author's name. I can just read the intelligence and know it's you. With that said, you have taken the words out of my mouth with this article. I agree 100%

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    May I suggest that Ricketts sell the team to an owner that's willing to spend money at the Major League level. The Cubs have the richest ownership in their division and the highest revenues and profits and they're the most valuable franchise in their division yet they have the 2nd lowest payroll. That's ridiculous.

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    In reply to Ray:

    Yeah, because we all know payroll directly correlates to winning championships.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I never said that. It's obvious however that the new FO has not spent much at the Major League level. The Cubs will never win anything by only spending on the draft and IFAs.

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    In reply to Ray:

    They're not close enough to make it worth the expense just yet. If you want to spend just to spend, bring the Tribsters and Jim Hendry back, but I don't think you'll be any happier. No sense pouring good money down a rat hole. This organization, as painful as it has been to watch, needed a complete tear down and rebuild. There will be a time to spend, and it's not like they haven't tried. You can't sign people if they're not willing to sign with you, and overpaying the way the Yankees always do and the Mariners recently have is just utter nonsense.

  • In reply to Ray:

    I get what you're saying Ray. Anytime anyone wants the Cubs to spend any money people think you want Hendry back. That's the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

    When you don't spend anything, you get this 4-10, this isn't a surprise to me.

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    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Thank you, Jimmie. I'd just like to see Ricketts and the new FO care as much about improving the Major League product as they do about making money and improving the ballpark and the player development system. All of these things can be done at the same time.

  • In reply to Ray:

    I agree, Ray -- but what would have happened if the Cubs signed some of these guys some fans really wanted: Pujols, Fielder, Hamilton,
    BJ Upton, Michael Bourn? They signed one expensive FA in Jackson and everybody dislikes that signing -- even though I know some here wanted the Cubs to sign him for 2 years in a row.

    I really can't remember any guy that was bandied about these boards that I'd really like to have right now. It's one thing to say to spend...but on whom?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you, John. I would have liked to see the Cubs spend on any hitter or pitcher under the age of 30 who still figured to have some productive seasons ahead of him. There are always some available.

  • In reply to Ray:

    That fits the description of Edwin Jackson, though, doesn't it? They also acquired Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta.

    The thing is I don't think starting pitching is the problem with this team.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. I had no problem with the Jackson signing. I also agree that starting pitching is not the problem with this team and that the 'pen will come around. The offense is a joke.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Aagreed. The offense is indeed a joke.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Absolutely John - although this Cubs team doesn't have an 'Ace' starting pitcher - it has several quality starting pitcher arms.

    Shark (until traded - if traded), Wood, Hammell (was not a fan of this signing but it looks like I was dead wrong there), Areitta (when healthy), potentially Grimm, and the prospect pool are all up & coming. Even Jackson has his moments of being above average.

    Offense is the problem here - most in this venue (myself included) have figured that would be the weak spot this year. It's just weaker (so far) than most of us figured.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Maybe they should sell it right back to the Trib, they used this mentality.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Again, I'm not advocating that the Cubs spend just to spend. Since Ricketts bought the team, ticket prices are higher and the payroll is lower. He obviously has the money. Every off-season there are FAs under the age of 30 available who only take money and possibly draft picks to sign. Every season before the trading deadlines there are similar players available who only take "prospects" to acquire. The Cubs have money and "prospects". The new Cub FO owes it to the fans to put as much effort into acquiring Major League players as they do into acquiring minor leaguers.

  • In reply to Ray:

    When the Cubs have had a chance to acquire talented young MLB ready players they have: Anthony Rizzo, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Jake Arrieta, MIke Olt, Justin Grimm, etc.

    What I see is a lot of hindsight but I don't see any specifics -- I can archive all the FAs people wanted to sign in the past and I think we'd be frightened when we re-read some of the suggestions.

    It's really hard to find a team with a system that was as barren as the Cubs who have rebuilt the MLB team and the minor league system. Teams have really chosen to do one or the other. And the teams who have chosen to build the MLB team aren't good enough to be anything beyond a 1st round and out playoff team thus far, some haven't even made the playoffs, like the Blue Jays. And when those players age and still have to be paid, where do they go?

    It seems to me that some fans want the Cubs to do exactly what Hendry did -- they say, "no, this is different". But how? Hendry signed mostly mid-level FAs: Lilly, DeRosa, Fukudome, Bradley, Marquis...some worked, some didn't -- that is the nature of free agency, but the problem is it gives you a small window and when it's over, you're back where you started.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I have no interest in looking back to see which under-30 FAs the Cubs haven't signed since Ricketts bought the team or since the new FO took over. Let's not pretend that there weren't any. I do agree that some recent trades have worked out.

  • In reply to Ray:

    But see, I think that's the problem with this point of view. EVeryone says, "Buy, buy, buy" but they don't want to think of the potential consequences, which we know first hand and from teeams around the league that those consequences can be significant. Looking back gives us an idea of all the possible outcomes of FA signing. And the truth is that most of them haven't worked out.

    Here are the under free agents from the last 2-3 years: Kyle Davies, Felix Pie, Joel Zumaya, Brennan Boesch, Dallas Braden, Joey Devine, AAron Laffey, Jose Ligares, Edwin Jackson, Zack Greinke, Masahiro Tanaka, Anibal Sanchez, BJ Upton, Carlos Villanueva, Prince Fielder, Casey Kotchman.

    I don't know if I missed any but this was a quick search.

    Cubs signed 2 of those players, really went hard after 2 more (Tanaka, Sanchez) and had no chance at Greinke. So other than that, which one would you go back and sign if you could?

    I agree with you on some of this Ray, a low payroll makes it difficult to compete, but I think we differ on how we want to get there. I think we both would like to see the Cubs take on salary if a guy has some years left (i.e. Cargo); But I'm not big on free agents. Bring the salaries on via trade and by signing the young guys who work out to long term deals.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That list is putrid.

    I'd like to add that I don't mind signing guys in their mid-30's.

    People dismiss the guys who are past their prime yet are counting on pre-prime players to help save the day.

    I see it as a type of bell curve, just because production goes down at a point doesn't make them any worse then the guys who are at the beginning of the curve on the upswing.

    Yeah the post prime (in theory, let's not forgot there's some guys who are still very productive late in their careers) players aren't future pieces but they bring leadership. That's something the Cubs are woefully lacking and can help pay dividends even when they're gone.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I wouldn't mind it in the right circumstance -- and as a fill-in, more than a guy you depend on.

    I think it's just hard to get those prime players without either overpaying (Fielder, Pujols) or signing guys that people are letting go for a reason. In that respect, maybe you get a better deal on guys in their 30s like the Cubs did with Feldman and Hammel.

    But for me, if you want to get a prime age player, you got to get it via trade from a team that is only letting him go because they can't pay for him or doesn't figure to be competitive and wants to rebuild. I gave Cargo as an example but the Cubs can probably dig around for more. We saw the Cards do this with Edmonds, Holliday, and others -- or similar to what Hendry did when he acquired A-Ram an DLee. And also re-signing players who are still in their prime like they did with Rizzo and Castro.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Totally agree, if/when we can pick up a player like Cargo that the Rockies might not want anymore due to whatever (financial constraint/rebuilding etc) that financial flexibility we have will come in handy and we'll have more of it to dole out.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Jimmie, the problem with signing a Pujols or a Fielder isnt usually money. Its the length of the contracts. Does anyone really beleive Pujols or Cano will be 20+ million $ talents in 5 years? I wouldnt have minded Fielder , but not on a 9 year contract. We already had that issue with Soriano. Any contract with a 30 plus player shouldnt exceed 4 years.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I didn't want to sign a Fielder or Pujols. That plays right into my "Anytime anyone wants the Cubs to spend any money people think you want Hendry back. That's the complete opposite end of the spectrum."

    Any time signing free agents comes up Pujols/Hamilton/Fielder come up. Those guys aren't the middle of the road free agents I was talking about.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cespedes, Ryu, Puig, and Iwakuma are some other names. They should of got Cespedes, but wouldn't go along with a 4 year contract. I can't believe the A's got him over us. The Cubs scouting must of not thought highly enough on the other 3 guys i mentioned.

    The Anabil Sanchez fiasco just felt like bad negotiating tactics. We got used and his agent went back and said match this offer detroit. We should of been like this is the offer, take it now or its off the table.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    We had no chance on Ryu & Puig or Tanaka for that matter. Ellsbury, Choo & Cano contracts were too long. We helped Sanchez drive his price up to detroit but he didnt want to leave detroit. As far as Cespedes goes, I really dont think he is that good. This year (and winter) the cubs IMO will be laser focused on signing a couple all-star caliber players. They had better.

  • In reply to Ray:

    For all the hate Hendry gets he got us closer than we've been in a very long time. There were some great seasons with him. Lee/Ramirez in the middle of the line-up was downright scary. I always felt like Ramirez was going to come through in a clutch situation. Barney is the anti-Ramirez.

    His downfall was that he didn't develop the minors. Theo is doing that. But I wouldn't mind if Theo took a page out of Hendry's handbook on running the major league team. Those middle of the pack free agents would only get us to 80 wins or so but when you add the WAR's of the Baez's/Bryant's etc when they do come up, you're talking about a contender.

    None of the middle of the pack free agents are albatross contracts either and in a market like Chicago, it's hard to stomach having the 23rd largest payroll, I understand bottoming out year 1 and 2, great draft picks we got, for that reason I'm not too upset they stink this year (actually hoping to get #1 next year). But next year this can't be accepted anymore.

    Baez/Bryant should be up. Fingers crossed but we need more pop in the line-up. The offense will be better but it's going to be scary if they're leaning on such young players to carry the offensive load.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Hendry took advantage of economics that simply don't exist any more. Lee and Ramirez would have been too expensive to re-sign. Stanton and McCutchen aren't going anywhere. To get that close again we have to find another route to locking up good young talent.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's a good point Mike.

    What do you think each guy who fetch in the current market? 150+ easily I'd bet.

    But I still stick by my point. Hendry gets bashed on here all the time but he did have success. Not total organizational success or ultimate success in the form of a WS but he got us close. He made going to Wrigley fun. That '08 team was something else, I thought they had it all.

    And even though he did take advantage of practices that can no longer be used it doesn't mean he's this failure that a lot of people make him to be.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    *would fetch, stupid iPhone keyboard, I miss my blackberry

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    that's why its so important to find another core bat this year ( Olt , Lake ect ) to help Castro , Rizzo carry the load .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    My personal opinion is neither of those guys will pan out.

    Lake looked foolish in his last at bat failing at an off-speed offering.

    I can see Olt hopefully being something halfway decent but the jump to "core piece" is a stretch to me at this point in time.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    jimmie ward, why does everyone want to give up on Lake? Let the guy play, since last July he has been arguably our best hitter (statistically he is right in their). He has bad AB's but let him play and learn if he makes adjustments the sky is the limit. If he doesnt he will be a very good super utility player. *cubs have a lot of guys that have ugly AB's*

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I can see him as a ML OF but to call him a core piece is a big stretch.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "It's really hard to find a team with a system that was as barren as the Cubs who have rebuilt the MLB team and the minor league system. Teams have really chosen to do one or the other. And the teams who have chosen to build the MLB team aren't good enough to be anything beyond a 1st round and out playoff team thus far, some haven't even made the playoffs, like the Blue Jays. And when those players age and still have to be paid, where do they go?"

    Exactly!

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    In reply to Ray:

    The guys available at the deadline are almost always have one or two years left on their deal. If you're trading for a guy for 2 months or a year and two months, you really need to be competitive. The Cubs, as you have said, aren't.

    You can say that the Cubs should have signed good young players but there really weren't that many. When you look at the last two free agency periods, the under-30 players have been locked up before they hit free agency. The one guy who stands out, Masahiro Tanaka, we know the Cubs *did* make a significant effort to sign and failed.

    The game has changed significantly even from the days when Hendry was picking up DLee and Ramirez for peanuts. The only way to get good young impact talent these days is to grow it. The Cubs started essentially from nothing and have been slowly building up over the last 3 years. (It really started with the Baez draft the year before Theo got here.)

  • All terrific points John. And it bears repeating about not being solely reliant on the kids. Case in point: The Hawks would not be where they are if they had not signed Hossa as an UFA and traded for Sharpie (and other reliable veterans) to surround the kid core of Kane/Toews/Keith/Seabs. And it is quickly becoming apparent that tweaks are surely needed here on the north side. Its one thing not to hit Tanaka. However, late in the second game Yankee depth relievers were throwing what appeared to be (via the CF camera) very hittable pitches. Barney and Kalish, to name two, just could not make solid contact. Sad but true.

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    "Ditch the platoon system" - THANK YOU.

    I've been very displeased with platooning both Olt and Lake from Day 1, 2014.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Saying it from day one doesn't mean it was the correct way to go. The Cubs were and still are trying to give the team their best chance to win early in the season by maximizing players value. It hasn't worked but it doesn't mean it wasn't the right approach.

    The team's responsibility early in the season is to win first and develop talent 2nd. That changes as the season goes on, but in April you owe everyone your best shot at winning.

  • I agree with a lot of this - I would trade Schierholtz immediately and bring up Vitters. I'd platoon Barney and Valbuena at second. Barney is done, I'm afraid. I would relegate Ruggiano, Sweeney and Baker to bench roles, along with Vitters. Kalish, Lake and Olt should start every day, or they should go to Iowa to start every day. I mean... what's the point of any of this? PS Brett Jackson is done - enough already. Trading Schierholtz and releasing BJax, and putting Fuji on the 60-day makes room for 3 more players on the 40.

    Yes, bring up Arrieta, and bring up Vizcaino already. We have no room for Vizcaino and Rosscup because of who, now? Release or deal Carlos Villanueva - I don't care if he had leadership skills, he has no value to our future as a soft-tossing long reliever. And any veteran reliever who is not getting it done should be traded, released or DL'ed. Veras, Wright and Russell have been pretty bad.

    When the youngsters have the ability to outperform the stopgaps, you have to get the stopgaps out of the way. Then we can gradually ease in Baez and Hendricks, and even Bryant by the end of the year. At least then, you have a respectable middle-of-the-order.

    I'm in full agreement about veteran additions to this team, but we struck out on all of them over the past several winters. We can't even reel in the international players like Tanaka and Ryu. Ellsbury would have been a nice piece to grow with. The pickings are a lot thinner this winter. I don't know what will happen then, but I do know one thing.

    This sucks.

  • Alcantara with a triple and RBI / run scored today so far today 5th inning

  • I agree with most of the suggestions - except 2 and I have a suggestion:

    1. Outfield. This is a disaster, and I had a bad feeling about replacing Sori's production/leadership. I'm pretty sure Vitters isn't the answer, and Lake still seems very raw. Nate's a backup on a good team, the rest aren't worth much. What they should have done was sign a cheap, short term vet who could have provided rbis and leadership (my choice was Michael Morse, who SF signed for 6 mil/yr. My suggestion for now would be to work a trade for one of the Dodger's extra outfielders (Ethier/Adrian Gonzalez) to play left field. Let Lake take center (his hit tool does not fit in left or right), stick with Nate in right and lost the platoons.

    2, Small ball - I don't object to small ball tactics (but the timing has been bad). An offensively challenged team needs to try to score runs when possible.

    I do think the young guys (Olt/Lake) need at bats, since this season appears to be a write-off at this point.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    I think it would be interesting to ask about Ethier or even Kemp just to see what the market was. Gonzalez has played 22 games in the outfield since 2004, and was very poor at it. He's a 1B/DH.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    I disagree with this. Makes no sense for the Cubs to trade for an overpriced vet. Dodgers arent Trading Gonzalez either.

    Dodgers arent gonna get anywhere close to the value for Ethier because of his high priced contract.

    they dodgers have been trying to dump Kemp, Crawford or Ethier for the last year.. there is a reason they are still on the dodgers

  • jon lester could be the cubs big signing, there are a few reasons why he would come to chicago and he is a big game pitcher.

    I would feel pretty good with a staff of; lester, shark, wood then choose two (arrieta,hendricks,edwards,johnson,grimm,ramirez, jokisch). then a bullpen of: vizcaino,rondon,strop,grimm,rosscup & cervenka plus schlitter, mateo & parker. with many options for long reliever (rusin,ramirez,pimentel.cabrera).

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Lester is so happy with Boston he came out and said he'd take a hometown discount.

    Idk what the reasons are that he would come to Chicago but they don't outweigh the words out of his own mouth.

    http://espn.go.com/boston/mlb/story/_/id/10340797/jon-lester-wants-remain-red-sox-take-hometown-discount

    "These guys are my No. 1 priority,'' Lester said during media availability at the Boston Baseball Writers' Association of America awards dinner. "I want to be here 'til they rip this jersey off my back.

    Lester said he not only expects to have to take a discount in order to sign an extension with the team, but he is willing to do so.

    "It's like Pedey [Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox second baseman]. He left a lot of money on the table to stay here. That's what he wanted to do. I understand that. That's my choice, that's his choice.

    "I understand that to stay here, you're not going to get a free-agent deal. You're not going to do it. You can't. It's not possible. You're bidding against one team. I understand you're going to take a discount to stay. Do I want to do that? Absolutely.

    But just like they want it to be fair for them, I want it to be fair for me and my family."

    Those are strong words.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    why did Lester turn down their offer and said he doesnt want to talk contract until after the season?

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Actually I just read that Lester turned down the Red Sox's offer and doesnt want to talk contract until after the season.

    Why might he consider Chicago because Theo drafted him and brought him to the big leagues. Obviously the money has to be there.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    What he said still rings true. It's common for guys to not want to negotiate during the season. He's staying in Boston.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    From MLBTR

    "The Red Sox' most recent $70MM extension offer to Jon Lester might seem low, but Lester himself is trying to keep it in context, John Tomase of the Boston Herald tweets. "They're trying to set up their business for the future. They're weighing risk," Lester says. "I can't just stand up and say, 'Pay me pay me pay me.'"

    Doesn't sound like a guy that wants to leave.

    Money matters, but not to the guy who said money doesn't matter. You know why money doesn't matter to him? The winning climate. But let me guess he's going to see the prospects and be sold, right?

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Come on jimmie I never mentioned prospects but that was a cute little answer. ellsbury apparently didnt feel the hometown discount did he, no he took the money and wasnt the first nor will be the last to do so. My point was if he leaves Boston (which he most certainly could), Chicago would be a potential place based on his history with Theo.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    When did Ellsbury say he would take a hometown discount?

    Two completely different situations, what's cute is that you're trying to fight the words out of the guys own mouth, it would have been easier to give up then show an example that isn't comparable because Ellsbury never said he'd take a paycut.

    You gotta try again.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    dream on!!!!! they want to trade shark. And if they do , they will be even worse off for a few years---or more. Lester will cost a fortune and I cant see Cubs spending Big unless its the winning , turnaround year!!! But we can dream, BC, we can dream.

  • All great suggestions. Can't argue with the Vitters point even though he is lazy, so why not one last chance on a consistent basis. Lake and Olt, definitely stop this platoon nonsense and let them get into some kind of rhythm. And Mueller working with Barney, please he can't hit period. All Spring it was the same stuff, one HR and a few singles. Most were weak pop-ups, bad ab's, with no line drive power.

    After watching most games in person this Spring, from the pathetic offense I saw to the high chance of trades at the deadline, I went with the under for wins at 69.5. I don't want to collect, but I also know what I saw.

  • Gee, the Cubs are 6 and 10. They've got a new manager and are trying to create some kind of chemistry in the clubhouse and claim some roles in the field. They are trying to do this while playing in the toughest division in baseball and I hear a lot of folks already writing the season off, and want to trade so-and-so for peanuts on the dollar or release them for nothing. The season is pretty much lost and we all knew that going into the season, and I know that doesn't make it any easier to watch, but this will be an interesting season nonetheless because we'll soon see the kids begin to come up.

    I'm glad these fans aren't running the team. I agree that they aren't hitting or getting pitching when it counts most, but they are in most games, and are looking at the beginnings of a steady stream of new talent coming up to the club. There's a fine line between winning and losing, and I think things have a chance to change sooner than later.

    I read where people don't think the club should be playing small ball, i.e. sac bunting, but when you have a bunch of players who are challenged to put the ball into play, and have been playing a lot of close games, you have to manufacture runs from time to time and can't wait for the 5 run inning. It only takes a run or two to win a lot of the games we've been losing.

    We need to begin trading assets with trade value and try to lose as little value as possible while doing so, or else send them to Iowa and trade them for someone else in the system. I for one would like to see Hendricks and Vizcaino come up and help the pen as quickly as possibly.

    Sorry for the rambling post. Go Cubs!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SFToby:

    4 and 10.

  • when a team has contact issues that's exactly the reason to not give away outs via sacrifice bunting . if the Cubs had 8 Matt Carpenters in the lineup then bunt away because the guy coming up 2nd / 3rd 1 out will put the ball in play but when you have guys like Barney coming up and Welly at the plate you don't use Welly to bunt , period .

  • is the draft here yet? lulz

  • I like the way the Cubs are handling Olt and Lake, nice and slow. We saw this rush treatment with Walton, Dunston ,Orie, Pie, etc with mixed results. Let's get these guys some confidence to build on before we throw them into the fire

  • In reply to kevie:

    By the way, K.C's Moustakas who was taken a pick before Vitters is hitting about a .120 so far this season.

  • I think it is still little early on RR. I do think he has some questionable strategy calls and odd in handling the bullpen. But I do believe is a breath of fresh air for the cubs. Dale was a stick in mud personality. I think rick will keep guys loose and playing hard and that will be a accomplishment with this team. Rich was dealt a terrible hand to compete with but if play hard and Castro and rizzo keep hitting that is a plus. Just let lake, olt and vitters play more.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    he wont be part of the re-build anyways. he is what 30-31 right now? we are 2-3 yrs away till all the big prospects get here.. he will be 34ish then.

    Trading him now isnt a bad option. actually think its the better option

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Then that brings me to my question. What was the thought process for Jackson. Who is similar age but not even similar stuff?

  • I have a question for people. I don't get the wanting to trade shark theory. If we don't have him it will set us back even further. My question is why would theo sign Jackson who is about 30 to a 4-5 yr deal and a back end guy then trade a 30 yr old guy who can be a 2-3 starter? That move doesn't make sense to me. So why would cubs do that?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    As someone who wants Shark traded I can answer that from my perspective.

    I want the Cubs to get the #1 pick this year. If they're going to suck, might as well suck the most.

    Theo would do that because the Jackson signing was a mistake, they weren't as close to winning as they thought. He shouldn't keep the same ideology if the course changes.

    I personally don't think Shark is that great. And even if he is really good, how long more is that prime going to last? 4 years or so? I'd rather take the gamble, and yes I understand it's a gamble, to get pitchers that primes coincide better with our upcoming core because I don't think the Cubs will be anything near true WS contenders during Sharks prime.

    Plus, the Cubs would still have to sign Shark, it seems like he wants to play for a winner, the Cubs don't look like that this season, you can't keep him and hope he re-signs (it's been a stalemate so far) to only end up with nothing more than a draft pick that hopefully pans out by 2020 when he goes elsewhere. At some point you have to trade him to get something or be left with nothing (other then a draft pick).

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I get the fact that shark may not want to resign but if he does which he has said he does then in my eyes it would be a step backwards. On a good team he will be a 3 most likely. So in return you will not get a top of rotation young arm for him. It just doesn't make sense why theo went after Jackson for five years and then unload shark ?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Shark said he would yet no progress has seemingly been made.

    He was questioned by the media about it and gave the safe answer. Of course he's not going to say "Yeah, I'm looking forward to free agency/leaving." It's the typical robot answer.

    A more candid answer is he wants to play for a winner, that's contradicting for wanting to stay and yet this is the current club climate, and if he believed in the future so much he would have re-signed by now. The Cubs have been trying to resign him for well over a year. He's happy to wait it out. I don't see him signing anytime during this season. Do you? The off-season coming off a third consecutive 90 loss season doesn't make me any more of a believer.

    Once next season gets here, I say he tests the waters because just dipping his toe in free agency even if he wants to stay with the Cubs makes him 10's of millions more.

    You trade him because he has shown no indication of staying. You could definitely get at least one 50 TOR arm for him with 1.5 years control.

    And again, Jackson was a mistake. The timeline was off. Things change.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I am not sure what will happen. I give shark credit for being professional and not throwing his teammates under the bus. He has pitched well this early season and I think he could be a 3 starter for another 5 yrs. I just don't see getting top of rotation guy for him. I see a side ways deal for him.
    Could one say that signing of Jackson meant that the cubs thought they could resign shark too? Or as I thought if Jackson got 55 million u gotta believe shark is thinking he is worth 65-70 million of same span?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Here here!!!!! But already done with Jackson.

  • But if JS is traded and the Cubs get the #1 pick (no sure thing) the chance of that pitcher being ready for the big leagues is 2-3 years. Once he arrives more than likely it would take 2-3 more years for him to solidify himself as an ace (no sure thing). This is why I'm not for trading JS. It seems people think you get a great prospect and he is ready to perform at an above average major league level right away. It takes time in the minors and time in the majors to make it. I don't want to wait six years to be good. The Cubs have worked hard at developing JS, why trade him after he becomes good (#3 starter on a contender) to just have to wait years to get the return from the trade at a level that JS is at now? Eventually the Cubs have to start building with major league ready players.

  • In reply to David23:

    I'm not for trading Shark just because of the draft pick. The draft pick is a a bonus. You missed the entire point of my post.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    It's also a two way street, he's going to have to want to stay. Your post didn't address that.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    There is a good chance he'll stay if the Cubs give him the going rate for what he is worth. If the Cubs say we're done flipping players, we're done not signing the big name free agents.

  • In reply to David23:

    What is the going rate he's going for what he is worth? That's a hypothetical number that you can't pinpoint.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    You find out the going rate during negotiations. It will be closer to the Homer Bailey numbers than what the Cubs are offering. You pay up because if you don't pay know you'll pay much more for guys like Lester and Scherzer.

  • In reply to David23:

    Lester is going to re-sign with the Red Sox. Scherzer turned down $144 million, you don't turn down $144 million to hold out for $150 or even $160 million, Scherzer is going to want $200 million, as unreasonable as it sounds all it takes is one team to cave. *cut to Cano in a Mariners uniform*. The Cubs won't be players for either.

    The homegrown way is seen for the way to develop the hitting prospects that's why we haven't splurged on OF or a real 2B, it's the same way for pitching. If you feel that's Shark fine, again, we'll have to agree to disagree, nothing he has shown me indicates he's going to sign, the terrible start to this season isn't helping.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I guess I want to be done with the growing pains as soon as possible. The start to this year (especially yesterday) is very frustrating. We have a known healthy starting pitcher with upside in JS. I don't want to trade him away and watch him flourish on another team while the Cubs suffer more growing pains with the prospects they receive in the JS trade. I want this to stop. I'm losing patience (and I've supported the FO up to this point).

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I feel the same way man. I just see it as part of the process.

    Season ticket holder. It's HARD to put up with this. And it's annoying to hear from non-season tickets holders who go on Wrigley once or twice a year on discounted tickets about waiting, waiting, waiting. They're not the ones cutting a big check each year.

    The stadium is half empty for every game except for opening day this year. I went into this season with 0 expectations. I was not going to get my hopes up at all. With no significant free agent signings and the way the team was last year none of this was a surprise to me.

    My grandson comes home from college this year and is getting an apartment in Wriglyville, I plan on eventually giving my tickets to him, he grew up as a Cubs fan, I just hope it's a gift he likes instead of "Cubs tickets, oh thanks". I don't want to wait anymore either.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    My point still stands even if you count the 3 or 4 prospects you get after trading JS. It will take time before any are ready to be as good as JS. Perhaps two or three are as good but what if none make it to his level? Also, what if JS keeps improving after you trade him? I just think way too much time has been put into developing him that trading him isn't worth it. The Cubs need to start building with major league ready talent and not keep trading their good players for prospects. If they do we'll be stuck at 95 loss seasons for the foreseeable future.

  • In reply to David23:

    Again you didn't address his reluctance to sign.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I did in the above this post. (The order got mixed up.) I think he'll sign if the Cubs stop low balling him and give him fair market value. Also, if they tell him they are serious about buying Free Agents to become good as well as waiting on their prospects.

  • In reply to David23:

    Sorry that's my fault, I read them out of order. But if you're hinging him signing on the Cubs caving to his demands, even if that is market value when most people sign their own free agents at discounts, then we'll agree to disagree.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I'm ok with that. My thinking is risk is involved both ways. Would rather keep him and hope to sign him than trade him and hope the prospects turn into gold. I understand where you are coming from.

  • top few kids in the draft for 2015 aren't even pitchers, Dazmon Cameron Mike Camerons kid OF is #1, #2 IS bRENDEN Rodgers a SS out of FL , both HS bats

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    A... LOT of time left for other players to emerge. Cant really base anything on who's ranked highly now.

  • According to Phil from AZ (The Cub Reporter), Pierce Johnson made another start and was clocked as high as 97 mph in the 2nd inning, he threw 5 shutout innings, allowed 3 hits (all singles), walked 1 and K'd 7.

  • In reply to Caps:

    He's ready, He may have been ready last Saturday. His promotion is likely tied to Arrieta's.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    That's my guess as well, Arrieta may have 1 more start at the most before he gets the call.

  • Three weeks ago you all were vilifying Vitters as a has-been and wanted him gone, and now you all want to hand him a starting position at the MLB level.

    It's a long season, folks. Relax. Geez.

  • In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    Not all of us...

  • LOUD NOISES!!!

  • Awesome stuff, John.

    James Shields is my guy at 4 years 62 million rather than 7 and 162 for Scherzer. It sucks because its tough to get guys to come to losing teams without backing up the truck.

  • I like a lot of these suggestions. The only issue I have is with Vitters. If he replaces Kalish, then Vitters becomes the one sitting most of the time, and he needs the ABs too after missing much of last season with injuries.

    If it were up to me, I would send Lake to AAA and keep him there until he proves he can strike out in less than 30% of his PA or not. I'd give LF to Kalish or Vitters and let them play every day for at least a couple of months.

  • If Kalish and/or Barney had driven in those two runners on second and third, people would be praising Castillo's wisdom in bunting them over.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Not me. You have to play percentages and over a large sample size, bunting costs you runs. All the data supports that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    When you're losing small, and the Cubs are consistently losing small, you take your chances and play small ball. There's a reason why bunting in certain situations has been a part of this game since it was first played.

    Why the heck weren't either Kalish or Barney taken out for a pinch hitter? First time I've been critical of Renteria, but the boat sailed without him.

  • I'm on board with the youth movement 100%. Unloading Barney, Schierholtz, Carville, Valbuena, Wright, Veras, Ruggiano, Bonafacio, & Ejax can't happen fast enough. Trade Shark & Hammels and that's eleven spots for young guys to fill. So by bringing up Rosscup, Arrieta, Hendricks, Vizcaino, Wada, Vitters, Alcantra, Baez, Schlitter, Valaika, and Szczur we can get a bunch of prospects while giving a ton of PT to the kids. No sense losing with career journeymen on short term contracts.

  • Didn't have a chance to chime in on this post, but I'd agree with those who say it's just a tad early for most of the moves John recommends. I agree on playing Olt every day -- he's learned all he can from the dugout; now it's time for him to make in-game adjustments. Same with Lake.

    The good news is that the players who've been the biggest drag on the offense are not part of the long-term plan. But still I think you have nothing to lose (except games) by letting them try to work themselves into shape. So I'd hold onto Barney, Schierholtz and Sweeney for at least another few weeks, just to see if they can move back toward their previous career norms. Vitters takes an eternity to adjust to a new level; if he's to have any chance in the big leagues, I think we need to let him sustain success at AAA.

    I know we all wanted more vivid signs of progress this spring, and it would have been great to see our young guys mesh with some journeymen to make a feisty .500 team. But that was always a long shot, and the long play here remains the same: We're killing time until the kids are ready and until we generate the revenue we need to make a splash on the free agent market. This time next year, we may have signed a free agent ace, with another potential ace added through the 2014 draft and (if this season is any indication, another top 5 or 10 pick in 2015). Baez should be in the lineup -- and possibly Bryant, with Almora and Edwards knocking on the door. It's always darkest before dawn. There will be rays of sunshine on the horizon, and Cubs' progress will suddenly get "linear" awfully fast.

  • Olt on the bench again today. The only game he's started this week has been against Tanaka, thanks RR. If this team is going to lose 90+ games again, I'd rather they do it with guys like Olt, Lake, & Kalish in the lineup to see what we might have. No one is benefitting from playing every two or three days, can't get into any kind of rhythm. I also agree 100% about all of these bunts, make them stop.

  • I feel it! I see it. I can sense it! The optimism draining from OUR Bloggers Balloon. Losing today with our ACE makes us 4-11, picking up momentum on that downhill slide.

    Man I bum myself sometimes.

    1- Play Olt 5 out of 7 games.

    2- Sign Shark or trade him. (I am starting to think they will sign him for very close to what HE wants as a PR move)

    3- Play Shierholz 5 days out of 7 and Trade him to the first team that will take him and his salary.

    John, are we agreed???

  • Folks...go easy with the negativity....Forget the sparse crowds, high ticket prices, slow start....I maintain this team is two players short of being seriously competitive...after serious in depth analysis, those two players are Mays and Koufax....

  • Baby bears are easy to pitch to. Just keep a RHP on the mound.

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