Cubs News and Notes: Team on the verge of WBBM deal; Law does new mock, and more

One thing I failed to mention yesterday for the minor league recaps is that CJ Edwards' MRI came out clean and he should be pitching again soon.


The Cubs can't afford to lose any of their top pitching prospects, especially to a shoulder injury, so that is very good news indeed.

Here are the rest of the news and notes...

Cubs finalizing deal with WBBM

Robert Feder has the story on why the Cubs left WGN and not surprisingly, it's money.  WBBM simply offered significantly more.  As for sentiment, I grew up on WGN radio with Vince Lloyd and Lou Bourdreau.  As a kid, I remember taking all of Sweet Lou's "for all you youngsters" tips to heart as I climbed my way through the little league system.   It will be strange, but the Cubs need to move forward and keep pace with today's more lucrative media deals.

Jon Greenberg of ESPN has more info after transcribing a radio interview aired on 87.7 The Game  with WGN radio president and general manager Jimmy de Castro, who indicated that the deal was beyond their capacity to match.

"We're very proud of our long-time association with the Cubs, but it has to make good business sense and the current arrangement does not,"

WGN offered several options but the Cubs chose a lucrative "cash deal" with WBBM, the terms of which have not been disclosed as of this writing.

The games will be heard on WBBM next season.

MLB Draft 

  • Keith Law has a new mock draft out and he once again has the Cubs taking Michael Conforto.  I don't see that happening.  He seems to believe the Cubs will go with an underslot strategy this year if Brady Aiken or Carlos Rodon aren't available.  Yesterday I went through an analysis of who the Cubs might target if they go underslot and I really don't believe Conforto is in the mix.  Yesterday was strictly a think piece, but I'll have more info on that in the next couple of days as well as my final final prediction (for real this time) as to whom the Cubs will pick tomorrow.
  • Law also softened his stance that Tyler Kolek is a lock for the White Sox, saying they also have interest in Aiken and "maybe" Rodon and Aaron Nola.  Yesterday I shared some industry buzz I heard that the Marlins had an agreement to take Alex Jackson with the #2 pick.  It may or may not make a difference as I am not convinced the Sox won't take Rodon or that the Cubs will take Kolek if he is there`.
  • Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider has his final board out and I agree with his top 4 (Aiken, Rodon, Nick Gordon, Kolek).
  • Kiley McDaniel of says the Cubs are looking at Kyle Schwarber.  So does Jon Heyman.
  • Baseball Prospectus takes a historical look at the draft with a lot of "What If" scenarios.  Fun to think about how the landscape of baseball would look if only teams had made better choices.

Odds and Ends

  • The Rockies have called up Eddie Butler as they seek to bolster their pitching rotation.  Butler has been in rumors involving Jeff Samardzija.
  • Jed Hoyer talks about the Jose Veras DFA on,  “For us, when we sat down and made the decision, ultimately we have a lot of young guys playing well and competing well in important leverage situations. We want to stick with those guys right now.”  You see, they aren't afraid to go with young players as long as they are sure they are ready.
  • Kris Bryant and Paul Blackburn were named player and pitcher of the month for May, respectively.  You know what that means, right?  Promote Blackburn!!
  • Another point of view on Kyle Bryant and why he hasn't been promoted.


  1. Bonifacio, 2B
  2. Ruggiano, CF
  3. Rizzo, 1B
  4. Castro, SS
  5. Schierholtz, RF
  6. Cogliano, LF
  7. Olt, 3B
  8. Baker, C
  9. Jackson, SP

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    I give the FO credit for admitting the Veras mistake, and cutting bait on him. He actually was pitching decently after return from D/L, but we clearly have better arms.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I dont understand the release of Veras right now. I understand that he has failed miserably as a signing so far but bailing this early is folly.

    Why not give Veras a chance to build his value in low leverage situations and see if you can flip him for something at the deadline. We all agree that he had started to pitch better. Why bail so early? I know the young arms pitched well but unless someone is out of options, you keep Veras up. You may not get a top prospect as you hoped but something is better than nothing. Veteran bullpen arms are always in demand especially as teams are looking for that final piece before the deadline.

    OR It seems the Cubs might have missed an opportunity to trade Veras as a trade piece to acquire a Compensatory pick from the Marlins who were desperately looking for a bullpen arm (they were looking to trade their pick to Jim Johnson of A's before they signed Gregg) and willing to trade the pick. They eventually made the deal with the Pirates. Veras seems like better options than both Johnson and Gregg considering he was gettting back into shape after injury.

    OR maybe trade Veras for international pool bonus money

    Overall, this move seemed very contrary to the current logical process of the current FO. Yes, the young arms earned the spot more than Veras but with the FO always talking about working on parallel fronts, it seemed counterintuitive.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    Given that the move was contrary to the typical play, I am guessing the scenarios mentioned weren't options. I would have taken Johnson or the Pirates reliever or Veras. Although I would love grabbing Gregg, he hasn't stumbled like Veras and is very cheap.

    Also, I think I read something on Bleachernation about a possibility of Veras either going to AAA or forgoing money to become a free agent. Neither will likely happen and he will probably get waived, but I think those were scenarios that may have led to that route of action.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    As an Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signed a major league contract after 11:59 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, Jason Hammel and Jose Veras will have an automatic "no trade" restriction through June 15th. (Ryan Sweeney was eligible to be an Article XX-B MLB free-agent post-2013, but he re-signed with the Cubs in October, so he does not receive an automatic "no trade" right).
    NOTE: An Article XX-B MLB Free-Agent who receives "no trade" rights this way can waive the right, but if he does, his club can trade the player only for player contracts and/or cash with a maximum aggregate value of $50,000. (per the Cub Reporter)

  • I hope Blackburn can put a full pro season together with no consistency/injury issues like his dead-arm last season from here on out. If he can, I think we have something there.

  • Re: Conforto, is this a situation where *you* don't like the pick for the Cubs at 4, you don't think the *Cubs* will take him at 4, or a combination of both?

    Pretty much just my overly long way of asking what you think of him, because I've kinda warmed to the idea. Adding another player that could fit the Theo/Jed mold as far as patience/high character, intrigues me. Plus pitchers are just falling apart everywhere you look. Jackson is probably my fave (of the non-top 3 candidates), but it sounds like there's no chance Cubs take him.

    Also, I don't understand what people see in Gordon. Doesn't appear to have a tool that really stands out. Questionable how much he'll hit at the next level. Only real plus seems to be that he'll stick at short (which is nice, but meh). If he wasn't related to Tom and Dee I wonder if there'd be as much hype.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    I'm 99.99% certain they won't take him (or Jackson, for that matter).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Gotcha, thanks.

    What do you think it is about Jackson that they find so unappealing?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Anything can happen tomorrow. I think Kolek goes #1. Nolan Ryan might encourage that pick. If Jackson goes #2, we probably end up with Rodon, since the Sox would be all over Aiken.

  • In reply to jkcutback:

    You never know, but that would surprise me. Happy kind of surprise.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Why no to Jackson? Have you heard this from a source?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's a shame. If they can't get Rodon, I'd love to see them take Conforto. After that Nola. But I guess it doesn't look good for either. I don't like the idea of Jackson, Gordon or Kolek. No high school guys, please. Cubs need help well before 2020.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    I agree with a lot of this except maybe on Conforto. He seems a lot like Ceccini to me, which will be a good piece but not what you want in a pick that high in the draft.

    Jackson seems to be out of the question for the Cubs by everything that I've read, but I mean, an elite bat is an elite bat. I really don't care where he ends up playing as long as he can be somewhere other than first and mash, I want it.

    I guess I'll trust the experts on Gordon, but if it was me I wouldn't be all that thrilled if you told me the guy we picked was an elite glove, above average speed, no power, and a hit tool that has come around to be good this year but was a question mark in the past. Seems risky, I want impact on offence or potential 1-2-3 pitcher with my first pick (Kolek, Rodon, Nola, Jackson). But some experts say Gordon will hit for sure, so I'm torn on him.

  • Conforto just doesn't make sense. His bat isn't "special" and he plays a non-premium position only. I would be flabbergasted/shocked if the Cubs went that route.

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    In reply to JB88:

    Cubs need all the ultra-disciplined guys they can get. I'm really weary, and wary, of free swingers.

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    Off Topic

    I saw that Joe Gardner had a real gem with the Smokies today. He retired 18 of his first 19 batters. The guy is 26 years old already. Is there anything we should be looking for with this guy? Is just another possible reliever of the future?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    He is more of an organizational filler especially considering the holes in the Smokies rotation. Like you said 26 years old, but if he keeps that up he can get a taste of the big leagues. But most likely small sample size success looking at past history. But of course I am no expert. Players can always decide to turn on the switch at any time. But don't believe anything here other than to keep prospects at appropriate levels especially since AA is a big jump.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Gardner is a non-prospect

    FLASH! Kris Bryant did NOT hit a HR today

  • Assuming the top 3 pitchers are gone and based on what John tells us the FO looks for in a top pick positional player, Nick Gordon is the guy. He plays a premium position and is expected to stay there. I know most of you want a college player because they can help the Cubs sooner, but if the best fit is a high school player, then you take him (like Almora).

  • Kiley McDaniel ‏@kileymcd 2m
    The Cubs at 4 are still the biggest mystery for tomorrow morning's final mock draft. Now I'm hearing Kyle Schwarber is in their mix, too.

    Dear God no. (Sorry Moody)

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Like I said to Brett on Twitter -- it just took Theo a week to realize my brilliance! In reality, when I gave John that pick, I told him he is my pick even though it has no chance of actually happening. So of course he will now be a Cub.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I've been drooling over Schwarber's bat for some time now, mentioned it here before but nobody really likes him if he can't stick at C. I say screw that, draft the best freaking bat and find a spot for him. I've seen him play a serviceable LF for the Hoosiers. To me, his bat is clearly the best combination of polish and upside. He has a great approach with sick power. I'd rather have that over one of the lesser pitchers. Don't get me wrong, if Aiken or Rodon fall, I'm all over them. I just doubt that happens. Might as well get the best bat at under slot and go after high ceiling arms after.

  • In reply to Mike:

    Mike, IF both of Conforto and Schwarber are going to end up LFs, I would want the better bat with more power. How do they compare? From what I've heard Kyle is like a lefthanded Bryant lite... I could get on board with that!

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    In reply to Rudy:

    Hit tool is roughly comparable from what I understand but Schwarber has better present power. When all is said and done they could be similar hitters.

    I'm a huge fan of Schwarber. If I were picking, he'd be my choice. But Theo thinks a lot differently than me -- and, admittedly, he has two more World Series rings than I do -- and I don't think Schwarber is a guy Theo would pick this early in the draft.

  • In reply to Rudy:

    Conforto is a solid bat as well, however he strikes out too much for me if we are comparing the two. Schwarber hits for average and power and rarely strikes out. He also walks a ton too. Conforto would absolutely play the better LF, but I really don't care because the Schwarber's bat is that good (at least for me).

  • In reply to Mike:

    Here is a show of Schwarber's power.

    Indiana's Kyle Schwarber just absolutely crushed a home run and then showed some "swag" with the bat flip. WATCH— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) May 25, 2014

  • In reply to Rudy:

    I don't think Schwarber can play the OF. He's really big...and really slow.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Neither could Manny and it didn't stop Theo from paying him a quarter of a million dollars. We'll just have Almora cover everything in both center and left field.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm pretty sure it was Duquette who signed Manny in Boston.

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    In reply to Tem99:

    Please don't interrupt my sarcasm with correct facts...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He did well enough for a team that made the CWS last year. He didn't look all that bad out in left in the few games I watched him play out there and his bat can certainly make up for any faults he has. Best bat in the class in my opinion, I think if we can under slot him we need to go after him. If everything pans out, we have a ridiculous hitting catcher that can't be any worse at framing than Castillo. He probably will always have trouble throwing out base runners though. However, this is all moot because he will be in left field somewhere.

  • In reply to Mike:

    I think the Mikes have converted me. Give me Schwarber! Seems to have the best combo of floor and ceiling offensively and will probably sign a major underslot! Lets corner the market on power!!!

  • In reply to Rudy:

    Also, if he sticks a catcher it's just gravy.

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    You made me spit my crackers and peanut butter all over my key board. When did you develop sarcasm NSI? Ohhh wait you are serious ....... Ahhhh crap.

  • For all the talk about some thinking it'll be Gordon, with others thinking underslot strategy, my question would be why wouldn't you then draft Trea Turner in this scenario? Granted, no one thinks he is a top 5 talent at this point like they did last year, but most of the other underslot names aren't top 5 talent either. OTOH, Gordon won't go underslot, and Turner vs. Gordon sure seems like a ceiling wash to me, with similar question marks about the bat. With the advantage in Turner's case that he has a track record of production against more advanced college competition than Gordon, wouldn't he make sense in this scenario?

    That said, I'm thinking if Rodon is there, the Cubs pick him. If not, they go underslot and take Pentecost because he plays at a premium position and it's one of organizational need. Kolek's unusual (unprecedented?) size makes him too much of wildcard for this FO, no data so no way to project whether a big HS kid like that can reach his ceiling or crash to his floor.

  • People need to realize that while Gordon is a nice player with plus tools and pedigree... he's still really far away. He's not like Almora as a HS senior. In fact, until this year, Gordon was over-powered/matched by elite HS talent. So some of "what" he becomes is based on projections, like any other 17-18yo I guess... but to expect him in Wrigley in less than 4-5 years doesn't seem very realistic.

  • All the speculation, wonkish analysis and whatnot is fun, but at the end of the day, the MLB draft more than the draft in all the other top sports, is such a crapshoot. But I have tremendous faith if our brain trust, so I can't wait to see what they decide. Are we in for a surprise? I don't know why, I'm thinking they will surprise somehow.

    Last year, many/most/all here would have been doing cartwheels if the Astros had taken Bryant and Appel fell to us. Right? Yet, Appel was sent down from Lancaster to extended spring training in late April and a few days ago in his first start after getting recalled to Low-A Lancaster, he allowed 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings. Ouch! What happened to him?

    In the meantime, Gray is cruising right along at AA. Would Cubs have taken Gray over Appel? I seem to recall that Gray was considered more of risk.

  • Conforto's defense makes Jr Lake look like Omar Vizquel , i just cant see that pick and would be very, i mean very dissappointed if He is the pick at 4. That said 24 hrs and counting baby!!!1

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I don't think you have to worry. You don't take a leftfielder 4th overall.

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    In reply to TD40:

    Essentially, that is what they did with Bryant at No. 3 last year, isn't it?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    No, Bryant is a fringe 3b in the majors (projection), with the probability to move to RF...much more demanding position.

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    john I have a LOT of respect for what you do here, but I'm not sure there's a reason to mock people who want to promote Bryant ("promote Blackburn!"). There's certainly a case for promoting him to AAA, and possibly an argument can even be made (which I don't agree with) to bring him to Chicago. But his case has nothing in common with Blackburn - Paul Blackburn is no Kris Bryant, and everyone knows that.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Why not Blackburn, actually? Pitchers can usually make easier transitions and Cubs promote them more aggressively than hitters (i.e. Johnson, Edwards, Hendricks). He is throwing strikes. I am pretty sure he can handle a pitchers league like the FSL. There is nobody blocking him. I said promote Blackburn because nobody is clamoring for it and he is deserving of consideration -- but nobody cares because he isn't a big name and it wouldn't put him one step from Chicago.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    ok, then I apologize, I thought you were taking a sarcastic swipe at people who want to see Bryant kicked upstairs as if they're clueless hicks.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think both should be promoted in a couple weeks. Just wanted to give Blackburn some love ;)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I was actually thinking this a while back but held off on speaking about it. I see no reason why Blackburn can't be moved up. He has the stuff and pitchability to hold his own in the FSL and is pitching very well currently.

    Move 'em up

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    He decided to lend doubt to your thoughts tonight....his control has really failed him of late.

  • Too bad you can't trade draft picks (other than the competitive balance ones) as this would be a prime year to trade back... though I think it would be difficult to find a dance partner. It just seems like most of the names and scouting reports of everyone that the Cubs might pick at #4 (outside of Rondon or Aiken slipping) are sort of... underwhelming. Not bad players, but not guys you want to spend a #4 pick on.

    If one of the top three arms falls (including Kolek), I hope the Cubs pick them. Otherwise, I'm sort of leaning towards a big underslot with Pentecost.

    John--have you run an article on who might be there in the 2nd round? Particularly guys that might be there to draft overslot if it comes to that?

  • Tim Sheridan ‏@BoysOfSpring 20m

    Manny Ramirez new Iowa #Cubs coach, hits - 450 foot bomb today in Tempe. Boys of Spring photo by John Antonoff.

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    In reply to Rudy:

    great, that's all Baez needs, an incentive to keep swinging for the fences on every pitch....

  • In reply to SKMD:

    A quick look at Manny's career shows a LIFETIME .312 BA, .411 OBP, 555 HR, 1831 RBI (good for EIGHTEENTH place on the all time list), and 12 AS appearances. And a K / PA of 18.5% (compare to Reggie Jackson's similar HRs and RBIs but a 22.7%)

    From what I've read, Manny was a hard worker and one of the first in the locker room. Mike Ott and A. Ethier have nothing but good things to say about the help Manny gave them.

    I don't claim to be an expert on these things, but Manny seems EXACTLY like the guy I would want sitting on the bench next to Javier Baez!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to DropThePuck:

    I couldn't agree more. Some just get consumed by the " manny being manny" stuff. When that guy was in Cleveland, he could rake. Yes he was surrounded by a lot of sick bats but I remember after his rookie year being one of the most feared bat in that lineup.

    Manny was drafted right out of high school like Baez and was up and contributing in the show at 22-23. ( what we hope and pray we get from Baez)

    I hope if Manny is succesful in Iowa that in a couple years, he's the hitting coach here in Chicago.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    That isn't what manny was (is?) as a hitter. He took what the pitcher gave him and deposited it where the defense wasn't. But when the pitcher made a mistake, he squared it up and put it into orbit. His approach at the plate was incredible and it never seemed like the pitcher was controlling him, he was controlling the pitcher. That is the influence that the cubs are looking for manny to give to baez. Understand what the pitcher is trying to do, then take advantage of it. And when the pitcher makes a mistake, put it into orbit...

  • Why is it when I read the 'draft-related' blogs here that my brain fuzzes out?

    Probably - it's because I have no contact with anybody likely to be drafted at this stage in my life,.... and my brain just drops into "yadda, yadda, yadda,..." mode.

    I trust the front office to draft well. They appear to have certainly done a bang-up job on that front so far. What I want to know is - how do they work to develop the guys they manange to snag AFTER they get in the Farm System,....?

  • fb_avatar

    From Carrie Muskat: GM Hoyer says report that #Cubs asked about acquiring competitive balance Draft pick and slot money in Samardzija deal is "totally false"

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Take a bow Jeff Passan, another baseless rumor you spread proves to be "totally false"

  • I'd like to see a separate post/topic/discussion someday John regarding the pros and cons of MLB eventually allowing draft picks to be traded. Why can't they do this like the other pro sports? Man, would we have a field day with THOSE kinds of scenarios! And it would make the July trading deadline one heckuva lot more fun.

  • My two cents.....I'd like a college arm or a HS pitcher, so Rodon or Nola. I like to have some quality starters that are ready by mid-late 2015, if not next April. If the desire is for an under-slot position player, then Pentecost (catching depth is necessary) or Turner (added middle-infield depth that is a year away helps with trade chips down the road). Ideally, a LH Kris Bryant that could play the OF would be great, but not there in the first round.

    Hope my thoughts haven't been devalued ;)

  • Wow. Nasty changeups by Edwin. Where did that come from?

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    RIP Don Zimmer

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    I just saw that. I really liked him, he was quite a character.

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Bummer - one of my favorite Cubs coaches.

  • Kiley McDaniel says he's hearing lots of crazy draft rumors tonight...

    Kiley McDaniel ‏@kileymcd 50s
    To give you an idea, a crosschecker gave me his mock top 11. Includes Schwarber at 4, Beede at 10, no Kolek in top 11. It's getting wacky.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    That's a wacky mock indeed. Either that's totally off the wall or there are bad medicals for Kolek floating around.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    No, I think the concern with Kolek is that he is really huge, so no remaining physical projection; his velo is down a tick this year; he has poor command of anything other than his FB; he's just a HS arm, with all the uncertainties and low quality competition that goes with it; and his mechanics are not repeatedly sound. Too many question marks for a lot of teams to risk a high pick with. But he'll surely go somewhere top 10, I think that's a given. Some GMs can't ignore a triple-digit FB.

    As for that mock, come on. No way Beede gets picked over Kolek. I'll put good money on that.

  • RIP Don Zimmer

  • In reply to Naf023:

    Indeed. He will be missed.

  • Did anyone see the picture of Manny with Eloy Jiminez today from Arizona? Eloy is a beast! And he's only 17 so he's probably going to keep growing.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    It's my picture for the recaps today.

  • fb_avatar

    "Fix it"? Why don't you go ahead and also command John to do 100 push-ups as penitence for his typo?

  • From espn's profile for conforto:
    "Defensively, however, Conforto is a bit of a mess. He doesn't get good jumps on the ball in the outfield, and when he does get to the ball he has a poor throwing arm that runners can take extra bases on."
    For an organization that values defense so much, this seems incredibly contradictory to they type of player they want.
    Looks like exactly the type of player I would want (and the organization too) at the plate, but if he can't play defense, as of now there is no DH, and I am afraid no place in the org for him.
    Or am I misreading something?

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