Cub Notes: Alcantara to play OF; Wright on paternity leave, Parker up, Ruggiano starts

Cub Notes: Alcantara to play OF; Wright on paternity leave, Parker up, Ruggiano starts
Arismendy Alcantara (photo : Boysofspring.com,)

Let's do some quick news and notes before we watch the Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants at AT & T park at 9:15 CT.  They'll be going for the series win.

Alcantara to play the OF for Iowa

The Cubs have to know that this has to start speculation about players getting promotions.  The preferred position for Javier Baez is 2B with either Mike Olt or Kris Bryant slotting in at 3B.  That would seem to leave Arismendy Alcantara as the odd man out.  But the Cubs like him and would like to get him into the lineup, so he's playing the OF for Iowa tonight, according to Carrie Muskat.

UPDATE: Carrie Muskat is saying that Alcantara is playing CF because the team is short-handed until Ryan Kalish arrives  Hmmm..  Don't buy that.  Why not put Watkins in CF?  He's played it before -- this year, in fact  So has Matt Szczur and Brett Jackson.  Looks like Cubs are trying to temper expectations here but I don't doubt the intentions behind this move -- the Cubs want to get a look.

Alcantara is the most MLB ready of the Cubs upper level prospects and the move was likely more about him than Javier Baez.  His walk rate has been a much more acceptable 8.7% in May after struggling with more experienced pitchers early.  It helps that Alcantara has hit with such consistent extra base power, meaning that pitcher may approach him more cautiously.

That extra base power also means his bat can play in the OF, especially CF, where he is slated to play tonoght.   His ISO of .240 and .520 slugging pct. would rank first among Cubs regulars and he would add switch-hitting as well as an element of speed and athleticism to the Cubs lineup.

As for Baez, we can't ignore the fact that his preferred position suddenly became unblocked at Iowa.  Baez is still playing SS, but a transition to that position will be seamless.  Utility man Logan Watkins is playing 2B for now but the Cubs will move him when the time comes.

Wright on paternity leave, Cubs call up Parker

Blake Parker has been pitching extremely well at Iowa and is too good to stay there for very long.  The emergence of Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon, and Justin Grimm left Parker as the odd man out, but instead of sulking, he just went out and dominated the PCL, posting a 0,77 ERA with no walks and 15 Ks in 11.2 innings.

Wesley Wright went on the paternity leave list, opening up a spot for Parker.

Today's Lineup:

  1. Bonifacio CF
  2. Ruggiano LF
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Castro SS
  5. Valbuena 2B
  6. Castillo C
  7. Schierholtz RF
  8. Olt 3B
  9. Arrieta P

It's nice to see Justin Ruggiano back in the lineup, though it comes at the expense of Junior Lake, who has played well this month.

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  • fb_avatar

    I don't think there is another way to interpret AA moving to CF. The FO is getting him ready for a midseason call-up. I like him in CF until Almora is fully developed. We can worry about what to do with Alcantara when we get there. Right now this makes the most sense.
    I can see Arismendy giving up similar production to Bonifacio, just with more power.

    The emergence of Valbuena at 2B and Olt developing at 3B can give Javy all the time he needs to make sure that we comes up, he's here to stay for good. No need to rush him.

    When was the last time we had a middle-infield combo with the offensive and defensive potential of Castro-Baez. Can't wait to see those two with Rizzo and hopefully Olt become staples in our lineup for a few years.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Couldn't agree with you more Marcel. The potential of Castro-Baez as an offensive keystone combination could be the best the Cubs ever had, including the 1981 combo of Strain-DeJesus ;)

    The "plan" seems to be accelerating this month, just hope it is not a mirage. Really curious to see the roster come August 1st; I prefer we get Samardzija signed and get rid of EJax. I am patient for Baez and Bryant until next April, and open to moving Soler in a deal if it brings back more of what we need.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I don't think this is so much related to anyone else other than just getting AA some flexibility. They know he can play SS and 2b, and he is on the 40 man roster, so why not try him in CF a bit. I doesn't seem to be part of a domino theory that some people here suggest, but simply a smart way to get a prospect that is on the verge of being useful at the ML level some flexibility. Too many things can happen as far as injuries at the minor and ML level for any of these players, so it is smart to find possible ways to use him other than the two they already know about. If space is cleared in either the middle infield or CF and he's meeting his goals, he's probably get the call. Right now the ones that look ready, though they aren't top prospects, are Valiaka and Watkins, and they're both pretty much projected utility types, with Watkins having the benefit of being on the 40 man as well. I expect they will clear some space at 2b in the next month or so, whether it is Barney, Valbuena or Bonifacio, the latter which does open up a CF slot (that either Watkins or AA could possibly fill).

  • Does Alcantara have service time factors? I know he has room for improvement but getting him in Chicago allows more time for adjustment and evaluation.

    It's a good problem to have, finding at bats for everyone, but still a problem.

    Yanking Schierholtz and Barney may be the best for the club but it won't help with trade value.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Yes, but Cubs wouldn't have same concerns about extending him.

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    In reply to rsanchez11:

    At this point, neither of them have any discernable value outside of a throw-in.

    No one wanted Shierholtz last year when he was playing well and he no longer is. Barney is a triple-A player.

  • This might just create one of those "redundancies" Theo and Jed are always talking about. There was sort of already one at 2nd base, now maybe one in center?

    I love Albert Almora as much as anyone, but something like this could allow him to be moved for something BIG.

    Love this move.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to JRS1:

    Alcantrara won't be blocking Almora for three years. Plenty of time to sort that out.

  • With Vitters now on the DL, one has to wonder if Kalish has made it to Iowa yet. So is this a move for a single game, or is The First Move of all the dominos that fall as guys start moving up a level and playing their probable MLB positions.

    Starting to get real exciting to be a Cub fan.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Carrie Muskat tried to tweet that (I updated the article), but if that is the case, why not play Watkins in CF and leave Alcantara at 2B? Watkins has played 24 games in the OF this year, some in CF. Matt Szczur can play CF, so can Brett Jackson.

    I think they're just backtracking because of the speculation it caused. Alcantara is playing CF because they want to see him there, no doubt about it in my mind.

  • Cubby occurrence?

    Fair chance that this game gets rained out....

  • fb_avatar

    Love the move of AA. There is definitely an opportunity in the Cubs OF for speed and offensive production.

    Not thrilled that Lake is sitting instead of Schierholtz but I suppose they want Nate's numbers to look respectable so they can move him.

    In response to your previous thread-we have 3 bats we need to make room for over the next two months-AA, Baez and Bryant. Even if you don't bring up Bryant, you're still not going to block him.

    You have a starting pitcher in Hendricks and possible bullpen arms in Vizcaino and Rivero. Jokisch is possible too.

    So, you have to clear the decks over the next two months to create room for the new guys. We'll finally start to see the next wave of talent. This is the first real turn the organization has made with the new regime and it's really exciting to see it taking shape.

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    In reply to Dale Miller:

    curmudgeon that I am, even I have to admit this is interesting and exciting to think about. It's been such a long drought since you could say that about the Cubs.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    YOU think YOU are a curmudgeon SKMD? What does that make me then?

    :D

    I love the fact that things are continuing to get more interesting around here for Cubs fans. Haven's seen that trendling in almost a decade.

  • fb_avatar

    If Bryant and Baez stick in the IF, just imagine the athletic OF of Almora, Lake, and AA or Soler. I like it.

  • At the beginning of the year I thought the first player up would be Javy. I thought Baez would be up in July sometime. AA I thought would be up in Sept. It does not really matter though. The waves are starting and things should be getting more exciting.

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    Interesting, but the consensus opinion seems to be that it's just that the Cubs are sort on OF. I know Watkins has some games at CF under his belt but is at 2nd while Alcantara is in CF. That's kinda suspicious. You think they are greasing the skids so he can get called up soon? With he and Bonifacio 1/2 that could be pretty interesting.

  • If I remember right Ruggiano had a terrible game when he got hurt. I don't understand putting Lake on the bench for him.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Maybe RR noticed that Ruggiano is 4 for 7 lifetime against Hudson.....or possibly just to get him some game action right away. I've never liked resting a hot bat though. Junior has hit in eleven of his last dozen games in which he's had at least one AB. Hopefully he's back in the lineup tomorrow.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    That is a good point.

  • Awesome. Alcantara in CF just goes to show he's inching closer and closer to Wrigley. Maybe the Cubs include Bonifacio in the Samardzija or Hammel deals and bring Alcantara up shortly after that.

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    In reply to Javier Bryant:

    I think Bonifacio would have decent trade value on his own. A tick higher than Scott Hairston for sure. I'd think someone like the Mariners would want him and possibly over pay in desperation to land a playoff spot.

  • fb_avatar

    Red sox are looking for a CF. Any chance this AA move to CF might mean Lake could be moving to boston?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Very unlikely

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    In reply to Javier Bryant:

    I only mention it because I imagine the Sox won't be looking for a big investment like Ethier or CarGo, they probably just want a small play to bridge them until Jackie Bradley gets his act together.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    Bonifacio makes way more sense.

    Lake's BABIP is almost 400. He's unsustainable, and has no approach.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Lake may have an underdeveloped approach, but I'm not sure his BABIP at .375 is entirely unsustainable. As noted elsewhere here, Lake is a power hitter with tremendous speed. That combination alone should allow his BABIP to hover at least at .350 (one would think) and his career BABIP is .376 over his 110 games in the league. He put up similar numbers in the minors as well. His BB% to K% are atrocious, though, and he isn't one for working a good count by any means. At least he has the tools to make magic happen?

  • In reply to Spiggydogg:

    I agree. As I posted yesterday...

    2012 (AA) - .353 BABIP in 448 PA's - .279/.341/.432
    2013 (AAA) - .347 BABIP in 170 PA's - .295/.341/.462
    2013 (Cubs) - .377 BABIP in 254 PA's - .284/.332/.428
    2014 (Cubs) - .381 BABIP in 149 PA's - .273/ .304 /.482

    It's been 2 and a half years now. At some point it's not a fluke anymore. And it's statistically proven that speedy guys can maintain higher BABIP's. Not saying Lake won't regress a bit on the BABIP, maybe closer to .350 but at the same time Lake is slowly improving and maturing with each and every game and at bat....and with his physical tools, as long as he keeps working he should be alright.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Spiggydogg:

    #1 Lake is NOT a power hitter. He has some decent power but that doesn't make him a power hitter.

    #2 Might Cabrera has a career .346 BABIP. With a .356 now and also for all if 2013, and .331 in his triple crown year.

    From 2011 to 2013, Joey Votto, Mike Trout, and Matt Kemp are tied for the lead with BABIPs of .366.

    So, the suggestion that he can maintain a .375 BABIP with no approach at all is patently absurd.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Giffmo:

    And if you want to extend the sample over the past 25 years (total), then Mike Trout's current career BABIP of .366 stands alone at #1.

    So, seriously, suggesting Lake's BABIP stays ANYWHERE near Hus current rate us just... insane.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I think he was only suggesting it could remain very high, around .350. which is valid. Even Fangraphs calculates his BABIP for the 2014 season at .350.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I just posted above (again) that Lake has posted a BABIP of over .350 for the last 2 and 1/2 years. So it's not absurd.

  • fb_avatar

    I do LOVE this move. I've always liked Javy at 2nd, and this seems like a precursor to me.

    AAs value goes way up if he can play a decent CF and allows Olt to stay at 3rd ( I think people are writing him off too soon ). If we can get Bryant to RF, we do become very interesting.

    (A trade for Joc Pederson, who appears ready for a MLB debut, to play LF would bring thins together nicely. )

  • I don't care for the move. Alcantara is a plus defender at 2nd so moving him down the spectrum decreases his value defensively while increasing the offensive expectation to a level at which he'll be lucky to be average. And picking up CF on the fly is no cakewalk. And why does Castro have to move? Here's a guy with a ceiling of Ernie Banks 1958 and we're going to move him into the meat grinder at 2B in deference to Hackmaster 1300?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to h vaughn:

    The supposition is that Baez, not Castro, would be moved to 2B.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Yeah this is the vibe I get from everything, not at all the other way around.

  • I think this could have more to do with Stephen Bruno being moved up than AA or Baez. Exciting as those two are, neither are dominating their current level and look to need a couple more months to adjust completely. Bruno on the other hand, is dominating his level (290/383/870) and while AA and Baez have the defensive and athletic ability to move positions, Bruno does not and is relegated to 2B.

    Might not be it, but it makes sense.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Great Point! I didn't think of that but it makes sense.

  • While it's obvious that this isn't just an emergency move and the Cubs want to get a look at Alcantara in CF, I'm not so certain that we should necessarily extrapolate this to mean that Baez is definitely going to 2nd instead of 3rd long term and that Alcantara is going only to CF long term. Consider the role Bonifacio has played for the Cubs this year: He's played 46 of 49 total games, with 36 games in CF - 15 games at 2B, 3 games at 3rd, and 1 game at SS. That has allowed him to play everyday and gives RR flexibility with the lineup this year.

    So I think this move is much more likely about the near term, so that if Alcantara comes up in the 2nd half, and Bonifacio is traded he can play the same role, and still get in the lineup everyday. The FO doesn't want to bring up AA unless he is going to play all the time. Long term I think that the question is not yet settled. I still believe the best long term lineup is Baez -3B, Castro-SS, Alcantara-2B, Bryant-RF/LF. That would be our best defensive lineup, but in the short/medium term the Cubs don't have a CF so he might very well get most of his starts their.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think opening 2B for Baez is just a side effect/fringe benefit. It's all about Alcantara right now, but having 2B open doesn't hurt.

  • OK, as we head into extra innings in Huntsville, Bryant has walked four (4!) times. That's not all pitcher wildness, or him being patient -- the rest of the Smokies' lineup only has two walks combined. Rather, it means that they're giving him the Barry Bonds-on-steroids treatment.

    Maybe it's just Huntsville, but if we see other teams use this strategy, then clearly it's time to promote Bryant to a league where pitchers will challenge him. Namely, the PCL.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Taft:

    I was thinking the same thing. I'm fine with Bryant not coming up this year, but it's getting close to time to move him on to Triple-A.

  • IMO - I dont think Olt sticks.. Alcantara @ 2b, Baez to 3B, Bryant in RF,, Until Soler comes up.. then moves to LF is the future I see.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Agreed. Olt has no more eye or allergy excuses. He's just not good. His swing is horrible.

  • John,

    The Baltimore Orioles appear to be the leading team of interest in the Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes. Sources confirmed the two teams are mutually interested.

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/05/27/levine-orioles-have-interest-in-samardzija/

    What type of package do you think the cubs could get from Baltimore ?

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    I'd ask for Gausman, Bundy, Schoop, Rodriguez. They don't have anybody else worth getting excited about except for Harvey, but he is not yet eligible to be traded. Not all of them, but a couple as headliners at least.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Harvey would be eligible by the time a trade is likely to happen, though. He's gotta be a second piece, I would think. As you said a week ago, don't want an A ball pitcher to be the primary piece.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    True and I agree I would want a more MLB ready player headlining the deal.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SouthsideB:

    I imagine Theo is asking for Bundy and Hunter Harvey. (Gausman would be nice but he's too close to helping them. )

    I would LOVE a Baltimore deal.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    fap fap fap fap fap!!

  • John any idea what just happened in the smokies game? According to Gameday Austin Kirk walked the last three batter to lose the game in the tenth and it may have been intentional?

  • In reply to ultimatecubsfan101:

    GameDay doesn't always track pitches so they'll just count 4 straight balls for every walk and 3 straight strikes for every K. Watching Cubs so I missed broadcast.

  • I've been enamored with Aiken for a few months now; but if the Cubs can land Bundy as the headliner in a Samardzija deal, and ended up drafting Kolek-boy, the MLB prospect guru's will be singing a completely different tune about our minor league pitching prospects...

  • fb_avatar

    That ball Olt just hit is a home-run in any other ballpark.

    Smoked it.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thought it was going to go through that wall.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    And Arrieta threw a pitch that looked like it was possessed by evil spirits.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Like you said before. Arrieta beats himself and this inning was a perfect example. Didn't have a single ball hit hard against him yet gives up another two runs albeit with a bit of luck on the Giants part.

    Jake just looks like he dominate every time out if he could just find some consistency. the package is there.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Olt is such an odd guy. Can't figure out what he is -- but he's gonna have to boost that OBP somehow with Bryant breathing down his neck.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    What I'm seeing from Olt is a guy who will give you work deep counts, take some walks, hit for power, and provide plus defense.

    Normalize his stupid low Babip to a league average rate, bring the K% down about 5-7% (which I think he is capable of) and you have a solid, possibly above-average starter.

    Ill take that from 3B the next few years or use him as trade bait.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    The issue I have is I'm not entirely sure that BABIP is going to normalize. He only has a 10% line drive rate and is so slow he isn't outrunning many infield singles.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Just to play devil's advocate, let's say his BABIP stays low.

    It's .164

    That is bewilderingly low.
    Even Barney's career BABIP is .100 higher.

    Not to mention that assessing just about anything on 130 PAs is not good analysis.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thank you Marcel!

    Seems like everyone in here is just dying to pull the plug on Olt and I, personally, still think there's tons of awesome potential there.

    I agree with everything you've said there. Well said.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I am willing to give Olt more time too. He has a lot of potential and he is slowly improving. Personally I think he should have been in AAA for a couple months to start the year to knock the rust off and gain confidence. But there was no room at AAA.

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