Cubs now teeming with talent, options. Where do they go from here? Industry opinion on trade and it's ramifications

Cubs now teeming with talent, options.  Where do they go from here? Industry opinion on trade and it's ramifications
Keep ALL the shortstops

It's hard to imagine that the Cubs could acquire a talent so significant that he can be included in the discussion as to who is the best prospect on the Cubs.  But they did exactly that.

Addison Russell has been compared to Barry Larkin -- but with more power --  by more than one scout. One exec said he would take Russell over any other Cubs prospect, Kris Bryant included, though that preference seems to be at least partially dependent on the makeup of his team.

Nobody seems to doubt Russell is going to hit.  You have the Larkin comps for one.  This is what scout had to say,

He will always hit, good bat head control.  Barrels up a lot and power should round out to above average with some maturation.

The question is more about where he is going to play on a team already loaded with middle infield talent, particularly at SS where Starlin Castro is entrenched at the MLB level.  Javier Baez is handling SS well at Iowa and Arismendy Alcantara is capable of playing SS as well, though he has been the first to change positions (2B, CF), in part because he is the best pure athlete of the bunch, though all 3 are athletic enough to play pretty much anywhere on the field.

Here is one take on the trade from another industry source,

The Cubs/A's deal ... WOW!!  I like it more for the Cubs.  I love Addison Russell.  If he can stay at SS and Bryant could stay at 3B they will have the best left side of the infield for a very long time.

So where does Starlin Castro fit in?  Some of the industry buzz seemed to indicate that Castro could be traded with perhaps the NY teams interested.  The implication is that the Cubs would trade him for pitching.  The concerns with Castro's concentration lapses and approach at the plate remain and some question whether it makes him an ideal fit for the organization.  But, to be fair, he has improved both weaknesses this season.

Another industry source thinks you keep Russell at shortstop but isn't sure he stays there long term.

I will always worry about Addison weight. He comes from a large family and tough to control as he ages. The tools are present, but do they stick in his late 20's when the metabolism really slows?

I also asked Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus for his opinion.  When I asked him who the best SS of the bunch is, he replied that it was Russell without hesitation.

Russell is a SS all the way.  Baez could be trade bait or move to 3B.  Bryant eventually to RF.  Maybe Castro to 2B, Arismendy to the OF?

Parks then added that it is much harder to ask a vet to move for a rookie than a rookie to move for a vet.  We all remember how well Larry Bowa and Ryan Theriot took the news.  So that could mean that either Castro stays at SS or gets moved in a trade.

So you have some very smart baseball minds who all seem to love the trade, but with different ideas of what the Cubs can do.  That illustrates the unprecedented options the Cub have right now and they may be able to just sit back and see how this plays out.  Which option gives them the best value overall?  That question may not have an answer just yet.

I told Parks that I understand there is the possibility of trading Castro and that it could bring them the pitching they need.  At the same time, you have a team in the Cubs that is heavily dependent on prospects and as Parks himself has titled his prospects pieces, "Prospects will break your heart".  History has shown that other teams with similar groups of elite prospects had at least some degree of mixed success.  Nobody had a situation where everyone panned out.  Is it wise for the Cubs to trade an established 3 to 4 win player at a premium position  knowing there will almost certainly be some attrition among their top prospects?

The other question is how much value Castro has on the trade market.  He is cost-controlled and relatively cheap given his current level of play, but he is still owed close to $50M.  The source above noted he doesn't quite fit the Cubs philosophy, yet the Cubs went out of their way to reassure Castro that they are happy with his play this season.  As Patrick Mooney of CSN tweeted,

Theo calls Starlin a centerpiece to plans and says Cubs SS shouldn't be looking over his shoulder.

The Mets seem lukewarm on the possibility of trading for a player with Castro's more aggressive approach, even if his OBP of .335 is about average and his power well above average for a  SS.  This could just be the Mets posturing to get the price down.  GM Sandy Alderson isn't exactly known for giving up a lot of young talent or taking less long term value in return.

The Cubs know what they have in Castro and that is an imperfect, but immensely talented player at SS who they know is already capable of performing at a high level -- and he is just 24, with plenty to time to improve.  He is 3 years removed from his prime seasons.  That has tremendous value, if not to another team, then certainly to their own when you consider that his floor is an MLB all-star level SS right now.  The Cubs are a big market team that can afford to keep their established players without having to roll the dice every few years on prospects alone.

We know that Castro has said he has been willing to move for Baez.  Might he be willing to move for an even better defensive shortstop in Russell?  That would seem to be the best solution on paper, but it's not that easy in the real world, as Parks noted.

For what it's worth, Castro responded to the news in a positive light,

"A lot of great talent...they know what they're doing."

Too much talent.  It's a great problem to have but we as Cubs fans are unfamiliar with the concept.  Thankfully the front office is not.

What would you do?



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  • fb_avatar

    Here's what I would do as an armchair GM. Add Major League pieces. Not "try" to add Major League pieces. Not give it "our best shot". Add. No matter the cost in players or money.

  • Nothing right away. Baez and Bryant start at 2B and 3B or 3B and RF until Russell starts knocking on the door which is probably in another year. Alcantara should be out in CF at this point or play a Bonifacio role and rotate between the two. There is plenty of room for all three SS at short, second and third.

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    Move Bryant to RF, Baez to 3rd, and Castro to 2nd. Tank big the rest of this season and get a top 3 pick. Give Lester and Scherzer buckets of cash this off season.

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    In reply to Joseph Winner:

    If all of the players are cool with playing where it gets the max number of them in the lineup at the same time, I think that this is the best option for 2016. Rizzo at 1B, Castro at 2B, Russel at SS, Baez at 3B, Bryant at RF, Alcantara at CF, Soler at LF? We can dream, its not that far off...

  • In reply to Bender13:


  • In reply to Joseph Winner:

    Agree 100%, once they are all up, but Russell probably won't be up next year. In the meantime, I'd keep Castro at SS, Bryant at third, and Baez at second for next year. I'm not as convinced as many are that Baez is going to pan out—it seems to me that he is the most likely of thse guys to fall well short of his ceiling. But, yeah, if and when the hoped-for logjam occurs, your solution makes the most defensive sense and I would like to think that Castro could deal with it.

  • In reply to Joseph Winner:

    I agree with the move Bryant to RF, Baez to 3rd and Castro to second. I would also put Alcantara in center.

    I wouldn't go after a TOR pitcher. Way too much money for what you get. Sign 3 or 4 Hammels, extend the ones that succeed, and move Rivero and Vizcaino to the MLB bull pen.

    Get 6 decent innings out of your starters, close out the opposition in the 7th, 8th and 8 9th with your bull pen, and let your sluggers outscore the opposition.

  • In reply to Joseph Winner:


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    That prospect piece is a great reminder that not all prospects work out. Between Baez, Bryant, Russell, Alcantara, Almora, Soler....odds are that approx. 2 will become all-stars, 2 will become solid regulars, and 2 will fail. Problem is we don't know which ones. Castro at least is a proven commodity, even if he has a couple warts.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I wonder if the stat heads have put a number% to the success of top 10 overall prospects. (Mike.... paging Mr Moody...)

    I realize there's lots of prospect attrition, but I want to think that goes down substantially with elite level prospects like Bryant, Baez, and Russell....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    There's this...

    It's a little dated covering years 1990-2003. It doesn't breakdown the differences between players ranked #1, #2, #3 overall but instead looks at top ten, top twenty and so on.

    One interesting find was that scouting and developing seemed to be improving over that span as more players were succeeding that were ranked in 1999-2003 than in the previous 4 years and the same for the 4 years prior to that.

    This study done two years later takes it a step further...

    Finally this blurb from in March of this year...

    "For example, Baseball America’s No. 1 slot gets 46 WAR from 1995’s top prospect, Alex Rodriguez. But the top spot loses 1.9 WAR from Todd Van Poppel, one of the game’s all-time biggest busts. Among 18 players from 1990 to 2007, the average for Baseball America’s top spot was nearly 20 WAR.

    Do this for all 100 slots, and you arrive at an average, early-career WAR total for each ranking. It’s not a perfectly smooth drop-off from each spot to the next — for instance, the average at No. 10 (15.5 WAR) was quite a bit higher than the average at No. 5 (9.3) — but overall, the shape of the list’s average WAR resembles a logarithmic curve. In other words, a disproportionate amount of WAR is generated by the top handful of prospects."

    The vast majority of highly successful baseball players come from players ranked in the top ten as measured by WAR. But there is still great variance. This only underscores the necessity of scouting and development.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Then there's this from a student thesis paper done at Claremont College, it appears...

    "The results of the analysis in this study show that prospect ranking on the lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and John Sickels is highly correlated with future Major League value. For every ten spots higher a player is ranked on a BA top 100 list, he is expected to produce .7 more WAR in his first five Major League seasons. For BP, a rise of ten spots predicts 1 more WAR; for Sickels it predicts .6. These results support my hypothesis that these
    publications, which scout and analyze the prospects they rank, are able to identify players who will produce more at the Major League level. It does indeed matter how highly a player is ranked.

    There are other factors that are associated with prospect success as
    well. College attendees produce 1.5 more WAR than those who were drafted out of high school or signed as amateur free agents. Perhaps college provides some extra skills for players during their
    development; or maybe the simple fact of their larger body of work makes their projectability easier for scouts. Additionally, prospects close to the Majors—those who had played in AAA or had some Major League experience—produced between 2 and 3 more WAR than those in the lower levels. I suspected this would be the case; there are many pitfalls and obstacles to becoming a Major Leaguer, and the men closer to the big leagues have already surmounted many of them. The odds of a player in Rookie or A leagues busting are much higher than for a playeronly a level or two away."

    Basically it says that BA, BP and Sickels kind of know what they're doing and there is a correlation between how highly they rank a player and his WAR once reaching the bigs.

    Interestingly, college-educated thirdbaseman have the highest probability of succeeding. Kris Bryant anyone...?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Excellent stuff Quedub. So one can safely assume that with the new CBA and every team now focused more on scouting & development that in theory, top prospects should have even more success going forward... I'm curious what the #'s look like for teams like TB & Oak, etc that had to focus on player development vs a team like the old Cubs that did very little development.

  • The way I see it, we have at least a year to make up our minds on how the lineup shakes out.

    Things don't get interesting until Baez and Bryant are ready for Wrigley, which won't be till around July 2015. Even then, Bryant goes straight to 3B and Baez goes to 2B, with Russell moving up to Iowa. Alcantara may shift from 2B to CF. Then we get a half-season to evaluate Bryant and Baez, plus more time to judge Castro's development. Ideally, they'll all be a success, and if that happens, then Russell is the trade chip that brings back a TOR starter. More likely, there will be an injury or someone will bust, and we'll need to plug Russell into the infield in place of the busted prospect.

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    I say you sit tight for now. Too many variables still out there. Does Bryant become your everyday 3B or RF? Baez to play 3B or his preferred 2B? But with that said I am really starting to feel that Castro's days are numbered. Not because I think there is anything wrong with him but more that he just doesn't seem to fit the Theo mold for a player. Russell will be our SS, imo.

    And although Castro says he would gladly move to another position, I gotta believe he would do so with a little attitude. And since his value has been re-established he might be used for that pitching we need. I also think it might be good for Castro to move because he just will never get a fair shake in this town. He is the constant object of what is wrong with the Cubs by the media.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I agree on the wait and see. The other element is what other teams will offer for our surplus of young shortstops. I don't expect Castro to be traded this year, but if someone was to blow Theo/Jed out of the water with an offer, I'd expect them to pull the trigger. But Castro is not a traditional trade deadline pickup as he doesn't have that veteran aura/track record.

    Also keep in mind that the Cubs won't be eager to prematurely move any of the SSs to a different position until they have to as they all have greater value as SSs than at another position.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    "Not because I think there is anything wrong with him but more that he just doesn't seem to fit the Theo mold for a player"

    So that;s why they signed him to the long term deal?

    "And although Castro says he would gladly move to another position, I gotta believe he would do so with a little attitude."

    Why do you gotta believe that? That seems to more about you than Castro. He obviously matured. I don't think he would be selfish when it comes to his team winning. This is going to be a very good team. Why would he want to miss out on that?

  • In reply to ddevonb:

    Can someone please point me to the article where Theo says he doesn't like 20+ HR Shortstops that, at a minimum, play solid defense?

    I don't get this argument at all - Maybe Castro doesn't have the eye and patience that Theo prefers to see - but, 97% of MLB players also can't square up pitches like Castro can either.

    Castro is young, he's good, he's a 2-time AS who is regaining his form, he plays good defense, he's signed to a team friendly deal, he works hard, and he seems like a nice guy and good teammate. What exactly doesn't Theo like about him?

    Amazing how much one comment from Bobby Valentine, a guy who turned a good baseball team into a bunch if bums, can have on the perception of a player.

  • In reply to JasonB:

    Yeah, this talk of the "Theo mold" is pretty irritating. There are no absolutes. Castro is a top tier athletic SS. Less than a handful of those in all of baseball.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Castro has been criticized for a great many things, but I have NEVER heard him accused of attitude problems.

  • Because of all the talent in the minors there are bound to be changes at the major league level. There may be a trade or two before the deadline but it looks like the major action will be in the off season. What are the cubs options for say the third pick in next year's draft?

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    Given that it took 2 quality arms to get Russel (and a couple other guys, obviously), it might be time to move a top prospect or 2 for an already established TOR guy. I've read many comments from people who think we should trade for other teams top prospect pitchers, but why not go for a guy who we know is already a TOR, instead of guys who probably won't ever get there? Perhaps a Price?

    that might be why Theo and co. just traded for another bat, when everyone thought they'd pick up pitching prospects. while all prospects are hit or miss, pitching prospects seem even more so, plus they have a higher chance of injury.

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    In reply to brober34:

    Why trade when you can sign them as a FA?

  • In reply to Joseph Winner:

    I would pay for the best SP we can get this year since we may not have a protected pick any time soon. If we over pay a bit I think it's worth it to protect the assets for later trades

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    In reply to Joseph Winner:

    OK, but so far we haven't been able to sign any good free agents. and based on the Cubs history here, many of the ones we've signed have been busts. Maybe this could be an option for next year (or off season) if they miss out on Scherzer and Lester.

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    In reply to brober34:

    big name signings I mean. the new front office has done a nice job with under the radar guys, though, so I guess they could keep doing that and wait and see which prospects stick.

  • That Mets article is hilarious. $49M is a "big commitment" for an All-Star level SS who is 24 years old and cost-controlled for 6 more years? And what do they even have to offer the Cubs for Castro? Certainly nothing at the ML level (unless they want to part with Harvey) which the author acknowledges. Perhaps a more realistic article would address that very question: What would they have to give up to get a very good player for a very team-friendly deal?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    *with a team-friendly deal

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    they offer Matt Harvey.. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Yeah

  • I have a hard time trusting people that cite Castro's frequent concentration lapses. Not watching the same guy I watch. I think the trade Castro crowd is nuts.

  • In reply to cubsker:

    He has had some, but they are definitely becoming less frequent. Not everyone sees him everyday, so there is always and adjustment period.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    isn't it a bit of a stretch to be expecting russell in the Cubs' lineup in 2015? I mean, really, there's serious doubt the Cubs break camp with bryant & baez...

    that said, if the horizon's that far off, why would we do anything right now with regard to trading a positional prospect for pitching? wouldn't we want to "know" which prospects shake out as credible, every day players? and, in the process of figuring out who's going to make it, wouldn't we be advertising said players' effectiveness and thereby drive up another team's cost of acquisition?

    think the smart play here is to hold until you have a lot more data...

  • In reply to cubsker:

    To me, Castro can not be traded. At least not now. While I do believe Baez, Russell, and even Alcantara can play the position. I've seen nothing that makes me believe any of them will be an upgrade defensively. Castro is also the most likely to stick at SS for his entire career. Baez and Russell are both thicker and I can visualize them getting heavier and being relegated to 2B/3B after they're prime. Alcantara will still have the speed/range, but he is the weakest defender of the bunch at SS now so...

  • In reply to cubsker:

    It's not even the concentration thing I think might get him moved, him facing the wrong way is OBVIOUS, i personally think it's the advanced feel for the game- example: tie game, 9nth inning, men on 1st & 2nd, 1 out, slow little bloop towards second, Barney gets to it & backs up so he can let it bounce & turn an easy two, Castro steps in front of him and catches it on a fly. To some it's a no-brainer, so Barney shouldn't have to call for it, but to Castro it didn't occur to him.

    However, he can learn more & more each day, he seems like a good kid, AND he's SO gifted at the game athletically, when the flood of elite prospects start coming up, if castro's batting 8th in your lineup, I'll take that lineup any day.

    But if Alcantara is hitting 20+ HRs & stealing 40 bases at 2B, baez is hitting 40 HRs at 3B, and Russell is a perennial all-star at SS and the leader of a dominating team, I think everyone will have forgotten about Castro if he IS traded. Even if not a single piece of the return pans out.

  • In reply to MikeyB:

    Mikey with people on 1&2 and in the infield it's a infield fly anyway so it would matter

  • In reply to cubsker:

    I agree cubster. Castro is on his way to another 200 hit season and his fielding is vastly improved. He's only going to get better.

  • Keep the prospects until it's time to make a run. We have time and it's crazy to think all of the fantastic 15 will pan out.

    We have basically 8-9 open spots considering Rizzoli, Castro and Beef are solid. Let the best guys WIN.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Until there's a good hitter at every position and they have another good hitter with no position, no need to trade anyone.

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    I'm hoping Bryant sticks at third, I think it just plays out better for the team defensively if he does. But who knows? I suspect that Rizzo and Bryant are the only untouchable everyday players. Castro, Baez, Russell, Schwarber, Almora, Soler, McKinney, Bruno, seems that some of these will be dealt. But who? I have no idea.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    "I'm hoping Bryant sticks at third, I think it just plays out better for the team defensively if he does."

    But what is your reasoning. He projects as a very good RF with a great arm. The goal is not for Bryant to stick at third. It is for the Cubs to have as many good hitters in the line-up as possible. Who else makes it to the line-up will decide where everyone plays.

  • In reply to ddevonb:

    there are fewer 3B that can field the position at an average level and produce what he's projecting offensively. IOW, finding another player to man a corner OF spot with above-average offensive production is less difficult to do than moving bryant to the OF and replacing him with a capable 3B and higher-than-average offensive production.

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    Next year Bryant goes to 3b (to get comfortable), Baez to 2nd, with Castro and Rizzo at SS and 1b. Alcantara goes to center/moves to RF in a few years when Almora's ready or stays there when Soler's ready. lake can play either OF corner. When Russell's ready you move Bryant to LF - Baez to 3rd and Russell to 2nd. Please KEEP Schwarber at catcher. You stick him in the middle of this line-up in 2016 we will have the best line-up in baseball by FAR.Give Lester and Scherzer big contracts (cause they can/owe US) or get Lester (which I think is a given) and Trade for a #1/2 (I'd give up Almora and /or Soler for a #1 or 2).

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    So far I like your thinking best. You then get to see what you have before you lose something great in a trade.

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    In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    At present Almora & Soler won't be enough to get a #1 or # 2 period. A team willing to trade that kind of pitcher will want a Baez or Bryant to be included as well. Lets move on to some other idea.

  • Now lets sign Yasmani Tomas who defected from Cuba a couple of weeks ago.

  • I'd keep all the big prospects for now with the possible exception of Soler. I could see maybe trying to move him in the offseason (once he's had a chance to show he's healthy and is still a top notch hitter) with an arm like Johnson or Edwards and see what you could get for that package. If nothing to their liking, then hold on to them and keep developing.

  • We just have to get used to people saying castro is not theo's guy even though he says he is every chance he gets. I say I would keep all of them, because LIke parks said prospects break your heart. We don't know who will be good to great in the majors or just flames out. I hear a lot that castro should be traded for minor league pitching but that is a huge gamble to take.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I think they are right to some degree, but ultimately Theo's kind of guy is someone who is a plus at their position, which Castro is.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, If the cubs can produce a lineup like all of us think they can then pitchers will flock to the cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A plus at his position AND a value, which really makes him Theo's kind of guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Things change, for sure... BUT, if Castro wasn't Theo's guy, why sign him to such a long term deal? Granted, Baez was further away, Alcantara hadn't really broken out yet and Russell was nowhere near this organization... but still.

    I think Theo saw a guy who was a 2 time AS, still very young, and the potential to be even better and said, "you're our guy here's our long term commitment to you". Castro still fits that description to a Tee....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If you think he's talented but not necessarily the guy you want long term, it still makes sense to extend him at a reasonable rate as it gives him more value in a potential trade.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't buy he extended him so that he could trade him. He's all about accumulating long term core pieces. That's what Castro is...

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    In reply to seankl:

    Just curious: how would expect Theo to behave if he DID plan to replace Castro with a better defender at some point?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Replacing castro at shortstop and putting him somewhere else on the field is different than trading him because people say he is not theo's type of player. Again if you move castro off shortstop that's fine by me but I doubt theo calls castro's agent and tells everyone about his conversation with his agent. And I don't think he is thinking about replacing him with a double A shortstop because a lot could happen in the future. Russell comes from a big family and You just don't know how he will grow after getting older,so again I'm sure theo and the front office thought of it.

  • I'd out everyone on the market and see if I can get someone to blow me away with a package.

    If they don't, I keep them, find a place for them all to play, and put together an offense that gives opposing managers nightmares.

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    All this talk about pitching, yet the Cubs seem to find some decent pitching year after year and still lose because they don't score enough runs...

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    In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    I total agree with you. Were going to have MURDERS ROW in a few years. Theo and Jed are going to find pitching like they've done every year. But this year I see a serious splash...

  • In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    Absolutely agree here.

  • In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    winner winner: chicken dinner

  • I appreciate Theo's comment that you don't plan your rebuild around pitching because of arm injuries. You build around stud position players. So I see no reason to rush into trading any of these guy. Seems like Bryant to RF is a no brainier:

    LF Soler/Schwarber
    CF Alcantara/Almora
    RF Bryant
    3B Baez
    SS Russell
    2B Castro
    1B Rizzo
    C Castillo/Schwarber

    WOW! What a line up! Options galore!

    Now how about we trade some of our non-pitching prospects not on the list above for a vet or two outfielder and starting pitcher for this year and next. Don't tank this season. Give these guys a chance to succeed. Or is that too asking for cookies.?

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    In reply to TTP:

    Want them to be bad enough to protect our 1st round pick if we make a big signing this off season.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Just watched Bryant in OKC. There is no way he stays at 3rd. He looks totally lost there. Baez/Castro/Russell one will have to play 3rd.

  • In reply to d0a0v0e:

    I saw him last year in Daytona, and I think he can play it. I think ultimately, once he's past his prime he's destined for the OF. But I think he can stay there for the next 5-8 years easily. Not expecting that he'll ever be considered a GG candidate though.

    Having said that, I believe Olt, Villanueva, Baez, Russell, etc are defensive upgrades from him at the hot corner.

    Him & Soler both profile as prototypical RF'rs imho.

  • In reply to d0a0v0e:

    Interesting. Every scouting report I have heard in the past month is that Bryant is beginning to look like a gold glove third baseman.

  • In reply to d0a0v0e:

    I have seen Bryant several times in Tennessee. He did not look lost at 3B, but I didn't think he moved well at the position either. I think he has the ability to be a pretty decent RF. He definitely has the arm for either 3B or RF.

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    I feel like we have some legit elite infield talent.
    You could trade Castro/Baez for pitching- But why?
    Castro stays at SS. Russell at 2B. Baez at 3B. The infield range would be insane.
    Bryant and Alcantara go to the outfield. That helps solve that offensive black hole. And provide at least decent defense.

    We sign Shields for 2-3 years. Go into '15 with Shields, Arrieta, Wood, Hendricks and Jackson.
    Maybe we deal Hendricks/Wood if CJ or Pierce looks ready. Maybe we make a midseason trade for another TOR arm. Hell, maybe we try to sign TWO of Lester/Shields/Masterson/Scherzer. There are plenty of good options.

    That still leaves us with a surplus in wave #2- You monitor Almora, Schwarber, Soler and McKinney. Even Eloy Jimenez/Jacob Hanneman. There's a glut of potential top 100 kids you can start to deal for pitching. It also works as insurance for the prospects that don't make it. Then, we start trading. For prospects AND proven starters...All after the position talent sorts itself out.
    Those fictional lineups are starting to look downright unbelievable.
    It wouldn't surprise me to see them try and fast-track Schwarber to play LF by the end of next season.

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    1) keep Castro - currently our only home grown all-star, and cheap.
    2) if you must trade for pitching, forget about Price - dropping velo, already expensive, unreasonable cost in prospects
    3) John can you clue us in on this Japanese kid Maeda? Billed as Tanaka-lite?

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    In reply to SKMD:

    Also 4) don't assume that the FO took Russell because they're not high on Castro. Russell was just the BPA, no different from draft philosophy. Take the guy, worry about where to put him later.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Maeda has put up pretty similar numbers as Tanaka in Japan, and they are about the same age, but Maeda is two inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter. He projects as more of a middle-of-the-rotation kind of arm who won't be an "ace" but will be a good pitcher (think Matt Garza, Ricky Nolasco-type).

    The smallish stature (6'0" 165 lbs.) and lack of a go-to pitch will kind of prevent him from being an elite pitcher but he makes sense for any team. I like him as a fit on the Cubs as a #3 (assuming they go out and get a legitimate ace and use Arrieta at #2).

  • Off topic,.... but it appears that the Yanks have DFAed Alfonso Soriano,.....

    Anybody wonder if perhaps the Cubs should try & pick him up after he clears waivers and slot him in as a veteran presnece and potential offense piece in the OF?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    they're already paying his salary. but why would he want to come play for a loser instead of the possibility of even being a bench player for a contender?

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    The salary point was kind of my point steve - we are already paying for his time,.... didn't say that Soriano would want that as his first option,....

    Obviously,.... we don't have much in the tank offensively for the OF ourselves that he would be stealing playing time from. He's a quality guy though, and hope wherever it is he lands, he gets a chance at a playoff run.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Which .200 hitting outfielder are you worrying abut him stealing time from? He has a good relationship with the young players on this team If he was going to retire after this season then I would like to bring him back to finish his career here and then maybe ring him back as a coach next year.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    I wasn't worried about Soriano 'stealing' PT from any of the current crop of OFs Bhen,.... that was kind of my point. He wouldn't be slowing anybody's development out there in that group.

    Lake is the only one getting any regular PT now who is even remotely a longer-term piece. Until Kalish proves he has some sticking power, the AAA OFs not named Alcantara aren't being slowed either.

    I would love to see the Cubs attempt to sign Soriano on for the remainder of the year,.... don't know if going to a cellar-dwelling team for his twilight years is Soriano's plan though. He really needs to be at most a part-time OF at this stage and a part-time DH.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I understand it from the Cubs' side. Just saying I don't think it makes sense from his.

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    I like what the Cubs are doing. But I live in the Bay Area, where every year the Giants would draft a starting pitcher and their fan base would go nuts: "that's not the way to build a team!" Well, two World Series later, that approach turned out ok.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I'm out here too, in Walnut Creek.
    I find the A's fans to be much more passionate and die-hard than the vocally fairweather Giants fans. I kind of like the A's.
    But it seems every year I try and tell the Giants fans "You aren't going to win it all", they bring in another World Series.
    ...Wish that would stop already. Rather see the A's win.

  • If was me, I'd probably trade Castro and prospects not named Baez, Russell or Bryant to the Marlins for Stanton. Preferably, those three play 2B, SS and 3B.

    I'm not worried about pitching. Theo and Jed have shown they can find good pitching in FA and on the scrap heaps in trades. They've also went the quantity route of drafting them in hopes some will pan out.

    I have one question and one hope: would Castro be fine in CF? And my hope is that Olt puts it all together and this roster discussion/trade chip discussion becomes that more complex...

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Man that Stanton trade sounds juicy. Castro as the centerpiece.

    1. Alcantara (CF)
    2. Russell (3B)
    3. Rizzo (1B)
    4. Stanton (RF)
    5. Bryant (3B)
    6. Baez (2B)
    7. Soler (LF)
    8. Schwarber (C)

    Good luck on stopping that.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Whoops. Russell at SS.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    They like their latin players and the Cubs could even pick up a huge chunk of his salary. His ability, his ethnicity, and a long-term, cheap (after Cubs pick up a huge chunk) contract would have value to Miami I would think.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Sad to say, but the only thing Olt will put together is his clothes in a suitcase. Two more strikeouts yesterday...If he played full time he could challenge the NL record for strikeouts in a season. And his fielding in subpar. The Legend of Mike Olt isn't likely to develop in Chicago.

  • In reply to HankSauer rules:

    Olt is still about three years away from hitting his prime years. He may be what he is, he may end up growing. You speak as if you never saw Sammy Sosa as a youngster...

    In any case, I refuse to root against a guy potentially succeeding in the future. I'm not a homer about it, but I'm not as black and white about what people are and what they can or can't become.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Sammy was already putting up huge numbers by his age 24 season.

    If you want to play the prime card, let's not give up on Jackson/Vitters, they are still years from their prime years. Some guys just aren't good enough to cut it.

    He was 2 for 35 with 21 SO in June. And it's not like this is new, he struggled badly last year. He can't use the eye excuse anymore.

    Can he turn it around? Maybe but he hasn't showed anything this year to suggest it. Hitting .147 into July is pathetic.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    His age 24 year was his 5th year in the majors. In his first four seasons, he struck out 405 times, or once every 3.65 ABs. Yes, Olt is worse over his much shorter span of MLB action, at a K/2.33 ABs.

    But the fact is, in the minors, before the eye incident, his K% was below 25%, so I don't share the same feelings as HSR.

    And it would be great for the Cubs if Vitters and Jackson did turn it around.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    In a trade for Stanton, Castro could be the center piece, but the prospects would have to include a couple of guys named Baez, Russell or Bryant to get the trade done.

    And then the line up doesn't look quite as good.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I completely disagree. I believe you're really devaluing Castro....and the value of the shortstop position in general. Or the fact that he is a proven MLB talent, not a prospect.

    I could see saying that you might as well take out Alcantara and Soler from that lineup, but to I don't see the argument for saying you'd have to give up ANY of Baez, Russell or Bryant with Castro included, let alone saying you'd have to include a couple of them.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Castro AND some combo of Baez, Russell, Bryant is a huge overpay.

    Castro is signed for six more years and Stanton for only two. Castro/Almora and maybe a solid 3rd piece should be enough to get it done.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think it is time to move on from Stanton and focus on pitching if we are going to trade prime prospects. And as many have already stated, not until after off season free agency.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    I don't see this front office trading for pitching. I could very well be wrong, but I don't see them liking the risk. But who knows, maybe they'll surprise me. But for now, they seem to have been stacking up draft picks on pitching, and have shown the ability to go out and get pitching in FA and to get back "broken" pitchers as throw-ins in deals.

  • Which Cub could be on the move next ????

    RT @ChrisCotillo #Cubs have scouting contingent at #Pirates-#STLCards High-A game today.

  • Why worry about what to do with Castro?
    The Cubs have plenty of crappy players these prospects can replace!

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:


    What's the combined fWAR of our OF this year? -2?

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    winner winner: chicken dinner

  • Addison Russell is making his Tennessee Smokies debut, and he just committed an error in the first inning.

    Suffice to say, he's probably a little bit nervous :)

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    Hey John, how does this recent trade affect your stance on acquiring a guy like Cargo? I would assume it has drastically changed. But I'd like to know your thoughts.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think it's much less urgent to get that kind of player now. Pitching should be the priority.

  • I would just let it all play out. No point in trading Castro at the moment. Trading a proven commodity, who plays every day, for pitching that can have their arm fall off at any point is unnecessary. Whether it be a stud like Price or a top of the line prospect from the Mets, there is an enormous amount of risk, as we have see older pitchers such as Verlander declining and young pitchers like Harvey and Fernandez going down to Tommy John. Arrieta is showing ace potential and with Wood and the money to go after two top of the rotation talents, even if we have to overpay them, as well Hendricks, Edwards, Johnson, Tseng, Blackburn, Underwood, Clifton, etc., I really wouldn't worry to much about pitching.
    Castro's defense continues to improve at short and should provide at least average defense and he can play anywhere in the infield. Only time will tell if he will move positions or be traded, but what happens if Baez or Russell fail or they grow to big for the position? Trading Castro now doesn't make sense, especially when he continues to improve. The team needs some sort of backbone to build on. You can't depend on the Cubs' prospects to succeed in the majors right away, especially as expectations for the club will at an all time high. In a way, Castro has had to deal with a brunt of the frustrations of fans and the media. While he isn't your prototypical leader like Rizzo, there's no doubt he would help deflect the pressure off some of the younger guys.
    As of this moment the Cubs have Rizzo and Castro as proven MLB talents, which leaves 5 positions for Bryant, Baez, Russell, Alcantara, Soler, Almora, McKinney, and Schwarber to fill, plus catcher which Schwarber most likely won't stick at. The 1st 4 of those should see action by next year and perhaps Soler, but the others are at least a couple of years away. The Cubs will have plenty of time to see who is successful in the majors, before a massive log jam ensues. And at the end of the day, a few prospects will break our hearts. If 5-8 listed become regulars and fill out our lineup by 2016/17, it would be incredible and would give the team payroll flexibility to make them dominant.
    By the time guys like Almora, McKinney and Schwarber are up, the Cubs should know where they stand with the others. There's no point in rushing into things. As we have seen with this front office, minimizing risk is important. If there's a log jam, it won't come until at least 2016 and if that's the case, the Cubs should be in a position similar to the A's this year. That's when it's time to strike and take advantage of our surplus. If we need a pitcher, we can go out and get the best one available to put us over the top. At least then, we will know that they will be healthy for the pennant chase.

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    Already provided my stance on this a few times so I wont go all broken record here but long story s hort keep them all.

    You can never have too many prospects and impact players, especially when you could argue only 2 maybe 3 positions on the big league club are locked down for 4+ years. There is room for Baez, Castro, Russell, Soler, Alcantara and Bryant on this team right now. Almora, Schwarber, and Mckinney are a bit further away and by the time they're ready we'll have a better idea of how these pieces fit.

    Again, keep them all until you literally cannot find playing time for the ones that get blocked. That's the safest investment to be made.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Absolutely. Well said.

  • No reflection on the Cubs Den or J. Parks, but to me the overly-simplistic story line of the Cubs got Russell so now they will trade Castro or Baez, etc. is just that, an easy story for media and the fans who need that kind of black & white simplicity. I think the truth is a much more nuanced shade of gray. Theo said himself he doesn't know exactly what the future holds, and I think the final composition of the team will be determined by many factors, i.e. prospect/player development, injuries, etc., as well as thigs out of theo/jeds/the players control such as another GM making a crazy offer for someone that you can't refuse, or an unexpected opportunity presenting itself.

    “We acquired all these guys because we like all these guys,” Epstein said. “We want to see this group play and develop together. We’re not smart enough to see how the pieces fit together, but it’s easy to be excited about a lot of the different permutations.”

    If moves are made with any of the elite prospects I expect them to be at least 12 months down the road when the FO has a much better idea of what they have. However rookies need veterans, and at the ripe old age of 24, Rizzo & Castro will be key to helping the younger players, and the team as a whole, succeed and create a mature and winning atmosphere in the clubhouse.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think what we tried to do here is present different opinions and perspectives. There are some in the industry see this as teams getting the opportunity for a team to deal for Castro and for the Cubs to rake them over the coals for young pitching.

    I'm not so sure that happens because I think the Cubs need established talent to build around.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. Like I said, if somebody offers Theo/Jed some crazy offer that they can't refuse that's one thing, otherwise I see them waiting to see how this plays itself out over the next 12+ months before moving any elite players/prospects that have a chance at being part of the "Core" moving forward. Secondary young players/prospects Olt, Villanueva, etc are a different story altogether of course as it's a numbers game in some respects.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    And not one person said that trading Castro was going to happen, they raised it as a mere possibility, which it is. It is one of many options. I'm not sure your response wasn't ,more knee-jerk than any of theirs.

    What they all agreed on was that Russell was a SS until it is absolutely necessary to move him. But if you ask most people, including myself, the Cubs would be best off in theory if Russell was the SS regardless of who is traded and who stays because he is the best at the position defensively. The real world may mean Russell moves, but ideally he is your SS.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    To play devil's advocate here, there have been multiple media outlets, some well known) treating the possibility of Castro or Baez being traded soon as a forgone conclusion instead of a possibility(which we all agree it is). As if it's already written in the history books.

    GD did make a point that his comment was not a reflection on the Den or a few others but the wide scope of media. And if one were to go looking around you'd find much more "Russell in? Castro is outta here next week" than not.

    But that's lead to another thing, that's why Cubs Den and similar sites are the best. It's not about click bait. It's about pure analysis of the short and long term picture and that's exactly what this article is.

    Just my two cents.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thank you Marcel

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'm guessing that is stemming from the reports of the involvement of a third team...

  • I don't do anything with Castro until 2 of these prospects show they are upgrades at the ML level on him. He is the one who has proven he can be a major league all-star, not any of the prospects. If some of the kids come up and show they are going to be upgrades then you can discuss trading him, but trading a proven player at a premium position and turning the position over to a prospect is risky.

  • In reply to augiepb:

    Yep,.... with Castro - they know what they have got. AND he's been relatively consistent for several years now without seeming to have peaked yet.

    Only a bunch of fools would hand over Castro's roster spot, let alone his defensive position on the field, to an unknown.

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    I agree Ghost Dawg. Too many people buying the media's easy storylines.

  • Castro will probably be traded a few years down the road when he sounds like he wants to hit free agency and all those singing trade Castro today will be upset that the front office did not offer Castro enough.

    Keep everybody. Do not trade them until you have someone succeeding but no place to play them. Unless someone offers you a deal too good to turn down.

    Try to sign a top free agent pitcher this off season and maybe another Hammel / Feldman type. Keep on developing pitchers.

    Generally, excess talent should be traded, as much as possible, for high risk/high ceiling prospects so the situation of more talent than they know what to do with is not fleeting.

    I do think Schwarber should be given opportunity to stick at catcher. With the talent coming up, if we wait an extra year for Schwarber I think we can live with that. If Schwarber becomes a league average defensive catcher the wait will be more than worth it.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    "Castro will probably be traded a few years down the road when he sounds like he wants to hit free agency and all those singing trade Castro today will be upset that the front office did not offer Castro enough."

    Castro is signed thru 2019 so that scenario won't come to pass for another 5 years. But I agree with you on the rest.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    So we are in complete agreement.

  • With that said, I'll take a shot at the near future roster/lineup for 2016-17

    Arismendy Alcantara (S) - CF (backup 2B, SS)
    Addison Russell (R) - 3B
    Anthony Rizzo (L) - 1B
    Kris Bryant (R) - RF
    Kyle Schwarber (L) - LF (3rd catcher - allows backup C to pinch hit)
    Starlin Castro (R) - SS
    Javier Baez (R) - 2B
    W. Castillo (R) (or a free agent upgrade) - C

    R. Lopez (L) - Backup C - 27 yrs old next year (6 years of cheap cost control as the backup lefty Catcher)
    Other OF's - Jorge Soler (R), Albert Almora (R), Billy McKinney (L) - All three can probably play all 3 OF positions if they had to.
    Utility IF's - Bruno, Amaya, Darvill

    That's 15 position players so something has to give by 2016, especially because their is now way that you can have talents like Almora, Soler, McKinney as the backup OF's. Also I've obviously left off a ton of secondary prospects, not to mention upcoming drafts, free agency, etc. which are sure to change the composition of the expected future roster. Still this team projects to have unbelievable talent and will be VERY cheap as well, so any missing pieces, pitching, etc that need to be filled through free agency/trade can be easily added.

  • the cubs definitely want and need more pitching, but i dont think that they are going to have to give up a huge name to do so.

    the big name position prospects in my mind are: baez, bryant, russell, alcantara, soler, almora, mckinney, schwarber.

    of those guys the only one i care to dangle would be soler, just my personal preference.

    but beyond these guys the cubs still have a ton of talent.

    1b: vogelbach
    2b: watkins, bruno, amaya
    3b: villanueva, candelario
    ss: hernandez, penalver
    of: vitters, szczur, jackson, kalish, devoss, rademacher, dunston jr, hanneman, martin.

    none of those guys lights the world on fire, but you could argue that vogelbach, villanueva, candelario and hanneman would all be in several teams top 10's. several of the other players would be in a lot of teams top 20's, these guys have value.

    Targeting pitching prospects does make sense, but couldn't vogelbach or villanueva be the centerpiece in a trade for the rockies brett anderson? with the goal of the trade being to extend anderson while his value is low.

    a rotation of arrieta, anderson, wood, and jackson or (insert a 4,5 pitcher here) only awaits an ace (lester anyone) and all for giving away guys who are considered depth prospects at this point.

    the trade could even be opened up to include carlos gonzalez and soler. soler, villanueva, vogelbach and another piece or two for anderson and gonazlez could make a lot of sense for both sides and the cubs wouldn't take much of a hit prospect wise.

    my whole point with all of this is that before people decide that one of baez, bryant or russell needs to be moved, lets look at other options.

  • My shot as GM of the moment:

    As long as Baez continues to improve this year, I would look to play him at second the end of this year and during ST next year. If he is progressing well, I would start him at second in 2015. If Bryant continues to dominate, I think it would be difficult to hold him back from the starting 3B job to start 2015. That would give us a starting infield of Rizzo, Baez, Castro, and Bryant. Only fixture in the outfield would be AA, with FAs at the corners.

    I would push hard for Lester as a FA, then a couple more reclamation projects for Bosio to fill out the rotation. At AAA I would have Russell, Schwarber, and Solar with the hope that if one or more would be late playoff push call ups. If Russell is dominating, then he starts at 3B and Bryant moves to corner OF.

    2016 will figure itself out.

  • I think the Cubs are in a great position and can wait for teams to come to them. They have so much flexibility they can mix and match with anybody to get a TOR starter if they so desire.

  • Am I missing something? What does Russell coming from a large family have to do with his gaining weight as he ages?

  • In reply to Jim Hickman:

    Body types tend to be genetic. They are large and many think he will continue to grow as well. His shoulders are already very broad and he has a rather thick build. He's a big kid.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, My family on my mother side are big people not fat big but just big, and the later generations are the same so it is possible that he has no choice but to be a big kid.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Just throwing it out there, but when I saw the I-Cubs, I couldn't believe how think Javy's lower body was. Looked like he can squat 800 pounds!

  • In reply to Jim Hickman:

    I was confused for a second by that too because I come from a large (as in numerous) family. The comment about Russell coming from a large family alludes to his family being physically large, not numerically large.

  • In reply to MKE cubs:

    Thank you.

  • In reply to Jim Hickman:

    Ummm...genetics? Family was big, he will probably be big...bigger is not better at shortstop...they outgrow the position.

  • since we arent gonna be pressed into worrying about who plays where until after next year.. I think all this "guessing" about who gets moved or doesnt is a lil ridiculous. Alcantara will be up in sept, Bryant and Baez most likely next June.. Russell may press a sept callup next year.. so until then. we can find out what we have then and go from there.

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    Have to give it to Soler. When he's on the field he does nothing but hit. Hit a bomb today..

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Did I miss something. I've had the gamecast open for the Smokies game.....

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Nevermind, the gamecast must be delayed for the Smokies game. It just showed the Soler HR....

  • It means people in his family, regardless of the number of its members, tend to be large as they age. Seems an absurd worry for a professional athlete with trainers & dieticians.

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    ok, so we've spent 2 years envisioning packages for Stanton that included Baez, Almora, Soler +...
    Now, what if the headliner was an established cost controlled young all star (or nearly) caliber SS? What other prospects would we need to add to Castro to get Stanton? Castro/Alcantara/Johnson?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    That is way too much and everyone here is undervaluing Castro.

    Castro is fifth most in hits over last 4 years, is on pace for 40+ doubles and 20+ HRs as a SS at the age of 24. There are very few position players that we could not get straight-up for Castro and, putting aside positional needs, there is not a prospect we couldn't get for Castro. Castro and Johnson (a #3 pitcher) is too much for Stanton, IMO.

    If we trade Castro, we will get just about anyone we want, assuming Castro continues at his current pace.

  • In reply to springs:

    I think you may be slightly overvaluing Castro, but I agree overall. Someone suggested we'd still have to include two of Baez, Bryant, and Russell. I think that is very far off base.

    He's still 4 years from entering his prime years. He is latin. He has a long-term contract at a reasonable rate, and the Cubs could always throw in cash to make his value compared to cost even greater. Add in that he is an established major leaguer and players the most prominent defensive position, and I have a hard time not seeing his value as being underrated. But I also want err on the side of caution in regards to not overvaluing him.

  • OT: That Tennessee lineup sure looks different with Russell batting third and Soler (DH) fourth.

  • Its very nice to have this type of problem.
    Lots of other good prospects we have that could trade for young pitchers

  • Soler just went deep!

  • And though he is 4-5 years away, lets not forget about Torres down in AZ League right now.

    I am inclined to keep Starlin in order for him and Rizzo to be the leaders of this team come 2016. Need some stability and leadership and it would be great if it could come from a home grown player.

    I think the whole focus thing has been blown out of proportion a bit (Thank you Bobby Valentine). He works very hard, is getting better at the little things and is getting stronger.

    Hit and Run had a writer from BA on this morning talking about Russell. He said that Russell projects out to be a .280-.290 hitter, 20-25 HRs and playing very good defense. Abbatacola and Rosner were both saying that Russell then needs to be the SS if that is what he is. I am screaming at the radio "That is what Castro is doing right now. At the Major LEague Level"!!!!!

    The other way to look at it is to say you trade the guy with the most value to get the SP that you want/need down the road. That could be anyone for all we know.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I think the Cubs should keep Castro, but move him to 2nd base when Russell is ready. Castro's bat plays very well for 2B and defensively playing there will reduce his number of errors.

    Once Bryant and Baez arrive at Wrigley, RR can drop Castro to 6th or 7th in the order and that will be the perfect spot for him.

  • In reply to Alex:

    There is no guarantee that Castro commits fewer errors at 2nd. In the short term, he might commit more.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Funny you should mention Bobby V...I was listening to his show yesterday on ESPN and he said there "was no end in sight" for the cubs, inferring they are going to be this bad for a long time. I was flabbergasted that someone on a major sports network could be so uninformed. The farm system is the best in the league, and there is talent coming up. I have no idea why he doesn't get it...

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    If Corey Black could cut down the walks we might have something special from that Soriano trade.....

  • I'm very curious to see how Russell will be viewed by Cubs fans. From various sources there's an argument to be made that he could be the Cubs best prospect, but can we really accept that as people who have been following Baez and Bryant for their entire pro careers and really know very little (if anything) about Russell? Would we as fans be much more open to trading him for pitching than we would be if it were Baez or Bryant just because we haven't grown emotionally attached to him - even if he is the better prospect?

  • In reply to MKE cubs:

    Wasn't Russell being on the AFL roster as a preferred position player (not sure that is the right term...each team gets to have a player get the bulk of the playing time at one position, or something like that, from what I understand) one of the reasons Baez didn't go to the AFL? I understand it was also to rest him as he had played a lot of baseball, but also because he wasn't going to get the bulk of the playing time?
    I saw Russell in was the one guy outside of Bryant that stood out every time he was on the field.

  • In reply to Pappy:

    No Javier was allowed to opt out simply because he had played so much baseball and wanted to rest, spend time with his handicapped sister, etc... He had already played in the AFL and mashed AA pitching, so he really had no benefit to going. He played some 3B in his 2012 stint in the AFL and knew he was going to get looks at other positions in ST. Russell's presence or pt at SS had nothing to do with him opting out.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I must have misremembered :)

  • This feels like a Cubs 'Golden Generation'. God, it feels good...

  • This team is built around hitting 200 home runs per year and just killing bullpens.

  • It's time to start releasing the Kraken!

  • Using this fangraphs article as a baseline

    Working under the assumption that we have 3 top ten position players, one top 25, 3 top 50, and 2-4 top 100 prospects, we may have the best farm system ever. My quick math had us around $250 million in value through our first 12 prospects.

  • In reply to Wall e:

    It is all subjective but I used last years BA top 100 along with some updates to come up with $232M of value for the ten prospects Baez, Bryant, Russell, Alcantara, Edwards, Almora, Soler, Johnson, Schwarber, and McKinney. But according to the valuation of this site- which takes age of the prospect into consideration- the valuation of those ten prospects is $347M...

    Whatever method is used, it's an absolute haul and probably one of the best five ever assembled for top ten group of prospects within an organization.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    I'm curious if you ran the numbers on some of the other "great" farm system of the last 10-15 years (06 dbacks, 06 dodgers, 07 rays, and 10 royals) and where the cubs stack up using the age based methodology?

  • It's very simple to me. As some others have said you simply wait unless someone comes to you and offers you a package (for whoever) that is too absurd to turn down.

    I don't think we see Baez and Bryant until the end of April/early May next season (and rightfully so). It wouldn't surprise me if we saw Alcantara later this summer or early 2015 (no idea what the front office will do there).

    Pitching will be addressed this offseason and I have to think the OF will as well.

    I do think we can compete next year if moves are made and a lot goes right but I tend to lean towards it being a more developmental year (but still a fun and exciting one) as our young guys will have their peaks and valleys.

    See what you have going into the 2015 trade deadline and 2016 offseason and go from there. I have high expectations for 2016 and beyond.

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    Just wondering...... For all you guys that just say keep them all, period.

    What's your answer to a phone call from Seattle and the initial off is Taijuan Walker and James Paxton for Castro?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    You have to seriously think about it, but that is a fantasy trade. It will take more than just castro to get that that done, you would have to put a couple of top prospect in as well. I think the people that say keep them all( I am one of them) are saying you don't have to trade anyone at this time. There is a way to keep all three if they choose and it would not be a bad idea.

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    In reply to seankl:

    I'm not so sure much more would be needed to get that deal done. Seattle is under a lot of pressure because of the Cano deal and their SS play is worst in all of baseball. Walker has a few health issues as well. But even if we had to offer up a guy like Vogelbomb to get this done, I'd gotta be wishing Castro well in Seattle....

    Just say'n.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I'd go a step further, I don't think two pitching prospects, one of whom has a ceiling of a 3, is enough for an elite offensive shortstop signed to a very team friendly deal.

    Honestly, I think it does make sense to move him off of short for Russell, eventually, but they would have to be blown away by an offer to make a trade before this off season at the earliest. More likely, IMO, Russell spends 2015 in Iowa and a decision has to be made next off season. That's when things will get really interesting. I think the first choice would be to move Castro to second or third but the development of other prospects may (happily) not make that an option.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I kinda found it interesting also that Theo mentioned that Baez is probably going to move off SS but he said that OF may also be a spot for him.... That may really change the landscape of things....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Definitely. But even there, Soler, McKinney, and Schwarber are still out there and they may need somewhere to play.

    It's a game of musical chairs right now. It's possible (likely?) that a very, very good player is traded away because we just can't get ABs for him. Nice place to be.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And that may be so, but Schwarber is at least two years away and McKinney is 3 years away. Quite a long time to figure some things out, including if they will be Major League Players.

    Soler is intriguing. If healthy, it is a possibility he could get called u next September.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, I am in agreement with you on moving castro for Russell, but then you have to move bryant to OF for Baez, correct? I have been reading Bryant is adamant about staying at 3b. So do you move him to OF and hope he doesn't get pissed, or keep him at 3b where he is happy and mashing? What about Baez to Rf? He has stated he doesn't care where he plays as long as he is helping the team. Does he project well into the OF?

  • In reply to Pappy:

    Baez has the tools to play anywhere on the field, including Catcher. Which he played some in HS. But I think he would be a better defensive 3B than Bryant and from what we've heard about Bryant's make-up, moving positions would not create any pissy attitude from him.

    The reality is that Russell & Baez are far more likely to have to change positions off of SS after they turn 30 or so... Castro should not. Why move a 24yo 3-time AS off of SS for an unproven SS? If they take it, fine... but for the foreseeable future, Castro is our SS.

    Assuming they all pan out, then the ideal scenario would be:

    SS - Castro
    2B - Russell/Baez/A.A.
    3B - Baez/Russell/Bryant
    RF - Bryant/Soler/Baez
    CF - Almora/A.A./McKinney/Hanneman
    LF - Schwarber/McKinney/Bryant/Baez/Soler

    They wont all work out.... but if they do, we have 4 really really valuable trade chips plus VogelBomb, a plethora of #4/5 SP and BP arms as trade chips also...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Good points...thanks for the analysis!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Like you said he had health issues, but castro and vog is not doing it. Your right they are under pressure but I doubt they trade both there young guys. We are forgetting to look at the cubs point of view, moving castro now without knowing what you have in the system is very dangerous. You get walker who has had shoulder issues, what happens if he turns into wood or prior ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    A pitching prospect who hasn't done much at all in the majors is of higher value than a 24 year old SS on pace for .280 40+ 2bs and 20+ HR? Putting aside any positional needs, there isn't a prospect in baseball that the Cubs couldn't get straight-up for Castro.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    What were the specifics on Taijuan's shoulder injury again?

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Not sure of that but he's pitched 2 games now for the big club....

  • Does anyone know a website that you can find out the minor league transactions. Like when the cubs transfer someone from high A to low A or from AZ to Boise?

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    In reply to T dizzle:


  • In reply to T dizzle:

    The minor league team sites often have it.

  • In reply to T dizzle:

    If you go to the milb site, click on stats link. It brings up leagues. Click on specific league, and on left column will be a link for transactions. There is no one site for all league transactions, afaik.

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    Spoke with a friend just now , he said Skulina and Tseng looked great today. I believe in this management team. They will develop pitching.

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Was there too. Both had very good stuff, but Skulina didn't appear to have the command Tseng did, as a handful of his offerings weren't in the same zip code as the plate. Bummed that Schwarber wasn't playing but hoping to catch him in Davenport this week. Dunston looked great as well and made a great catch in foul ground as he ran nearly full speed into a mildly padded fence.

  • My two cents...

    Given that no one knows how this will play out, we obviously have to keep all options open.

    That said, I would start making plans for moving Bryant to the OF. IIRC, the FA OF options this off-season are meager at best. Valbuena will be more than serviceable defensively at 3B, and serviceable offensively as long as he doesn't have to bat 5th all the time.

    But beyond the start of the 2015 season, who really knows? Keep the powder dry.

  • Kris Bryant just did what Kris Bryant does.

    It was a two-run SHOT.

    Any chance he gets a call up for the MLB All-Star Game next week to represent the Cubs?

  • not trading Castro any time soon. he is a proven mlb player.. until Baez and alcantara show what they can do, Castro isnt going anywhere for a while

  • Guessing it's Baez, not Castro, that's traded for pitching. Really pulling for Soler in right.

  • Kyle Hendricks goes 2 innings tonight and then is pulled.

    I am assuming that they treated tonights game as a side session and he is getting a call up to pitch Wednesday or Thursday.

    Looking forward to seeing him pitch.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Oh man, that'll be fun.

  • Nice A's debut for Shark today. Got a win and went 7 innings and gave up only one run. Good for him. Rooting for the A's now & will still be rooting for Shark & Hammel even though not Cubs anymore. Kind of bummed NY released Soriano. They never let him play enough to go on one of his patented hot streaks. Be interesting to see where he ends up. Plus keep Castro at short. He is young and proven. Mover the other guys around not him.
    I don't want any of the young core traded, be interesting to see how it all plays out in the long run.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Same here. I'll be an A's fan this year. I've always respected Beane, and they have an exciting lineup. Plus, if Shark and Hammel can help the A's over the top, that's a great advertisement for the quality that other teams can expect when dealing with the Cubs.

    Shark has always shown flashes of being a true ace, but my hunch is that it was hard for him to focus when he knew that his team wasn't going anywhere. I think he'll respond favorably to the intensity of a pennant race, and we may not see the late summer slump that tends to afflict him.

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    In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Soriano appeared in 67 of the yankees 86 games, stepping to the plate 238 times. I think Girardi gave him plenty of playing time.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Wish the A's would pick him up to DH

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    A's don't really need a DH though. Offense is NOT one of their problems.

  • Castro named as a reserve to the All Star team. (Rizzo is one of the options for the final spot vote).
    Agree with the all the people wanting to keep Castro. He will have 3 All Star appearances and almost 900 hits by his 25th birthday. His best years are ahead of him. Trading him would be crazy!

  • Congrats to Castro, would have liked to see both him & Rizzo be named. They are both deserving but likely because of Cubs record they only picked one Cub.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Jeff S. also is an all star. Rizzo can still make it too if enough people vote for him.

  • In reply to John57:

    Samardzija, a member of an American League team that has a good chance of playing in the World Series is a member of the National League all star team.

    This is the definition of conflict of interest.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    He's not going to pitch for the NL.

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    Hendricks going on the 40 man roster?

  • Reading through all these comments and projected future lineups, i noticed that a lot of people have forgot about one Albert Almora. Let's not forget about one of our best prospects who happened to be selected 5 spots ahead of Addison Russell. But I can't believe how deep this farm system is now! Good problems to have! I'll never be on the trade Castro wagon because he is exactly what this front office is trying to trade for, young cost controlled players! I would also hate to see Javy Baez hitting bombs for another team.

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    In reply to Joshnk24:

    I think it's mostly because Almora is a center fielder and only Alcantara kinda challenges him for that spot. If the bat plays as even slightly below average, he's in the lineup. Period.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Bobby McKinney and Hannemann join Alcantara in challenging Almora.

  • Soler, Bryant, and Baez all hitting bombs today. How awesome is that?

  • I think what the trade on the 4th proves is that no one outside the organization really has idea of what Theo or Jed are going to do. This is a FO that not only thinks but also operates outside the box of traditional thinking.
    To be perfectly honest, the one contract I want to see talked about, and extended, is Theo's. 2016 isn't that far off.

  • In reply to Chicago TARDIS:

    And Bosio.

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    "One reason Addison Russell made sense for the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal is that Russell is unlikely to stick at shortstop, meaning that he won’t be blocked by Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez."

    One of the few guys that is saying this right now. Interesting....

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    John, I have pictures from Birmingham today. Can I send them to you?

  • For me, Baez is the guy most likely to be moved . I think that Prof Parks & others make compelling points about why that makes some sense(preference for Theo & Jed's guys, whispers about makeup concerns). Obviously, they'll only do something like that if the value is appropriate.

    The upside with Baez is scary but the emergence of Bryant as a likely 35-40 HR guy and the snapbacks of Castro & Rizzo make that potentially tough choice easier to make. You need to trade value to get value- see Russell/Shark deal.

    I think the first domino to fall is AA replacing Barney. I think you move Bryant to RF, sooner rather than later with the understanding that either Russell or Castro ultimately ends up at third. As far as Castro, keep him at SS until Russell knocks him off or let him stay long-term. Let's face it, as Prof Parks pointed out , he's the only one who's been successful at the position at the major-league level.

    This scenario limits the amount of positional changes and the changes involved consist of players moving to positions that in both cases(Bryant and Russell) they've already played(RF and 3B). You've also blended in a more balanced offensive skill set with Russell- bat-to ball capabilities.....

    What type of return does Baez fetch?

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    They have been so consistent about Bryant being a third baseman I just have a hard time seeing him be the one to move. I think he'll be the third baseman, at least until his late 20s when he may have to move.

  • Starlin Castro will be the starting shortstop for the Chicago Cubs through the end of the 2019 season at least (barring injury).

    Get used to it.

  • Kris Bryant could play in the major leaguers right now.

  • Cubs should sign Nick Markakis in the off season. It would be similiar to when the Nationals signed Jayson Werth before there wave of prospects came up. Markakis has a good approach at the plate and is a good defender. As the article mentions some of the prospects will not pan out. I like Bryant and Russell to succeed in the big leagues.

  • I wish, for selfish reasons, that the A's would pick up Soriano to DH for the rest of the season.

  • A few others have said this, but I'd keep every single position player we have until we have a lineup filled out. No trade for Price, no trade for Stanton, no trade for Cargo.

    Once we have a lineup full of cheap, average to above average position players (includes Rizzo/Castro), then we can look at trading some excess position players for pitching. Yes, I realize some of the position players won't work out, but we have the quantity and the quality that we should be able to fill out a linup with those cheap position players.

    I'd much rather have a roster full of stud position players that are less likely to get hurt than trade some of those position player prospects for volatile and injury prone pitching prospects that leaves holes in the everyday lineup.

    From there, fill out the rotation by investing in pitchers through free agency, continue to get the Jason Hammel's out there and try and limit FA contracts to guys 30 or less and contracts <= 5 years. Considering how much cash we'll be saving due to the young position prospects, I'm really not against going big on a couple of guys. Money is going to have to be spent somewhere, so they can afford to take a risk and make a mistake.

    I feel pretty confident the front office agrees with everything up to the point of the pitching investments, but I think we'll see this offseason where they stand on that one.

  • I agree with the ppl who r saying we need to wait and see who is real and who may not make it before making a move. But we still are behind on starting arms to go with them. Ppl r talking about McKinney , Schwarber, Bryant and AA in outfield. Where does that leave Almora and Soler?

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    This article seems to not value Castro as much as I think he should be. Sorry but to many comments to read through.

    Castro is 24, fifth season in the bigs, third all-star and is playing better defense all the time. He is a leader and doing great on crap teams.

    I believe Castro stays right where he is and the new kids make the move to second, third and center.

  • In the next 2 years we could have a load of potential good young players at the MLB level.

    *Cubs OF:Almora,Alcantera,Bryant,Soler,Schwarber, McKinney (probably 3 years away), Lake,Kalish,Coughlan,Vitters
    *Cubs IF:Baez,Russell,Castro,Rizzo,Bruno,Vogelbach, Olt, Bryant, Villanueva
    *Catchers: Castillo,Lopez,Schwarber

    On top of those 20 we are heavy at the lower levels: Dungston, Henneman,Baez,Torres, Amaya,Hernandez,Candelario, Jiminez,Remilliard,Brockmeyer & many more I am leaving off.

    Thats 20 kids and we only need 7 or 8 of them to be really good players. We will have a young cost controlled murders row.

  • From mlbtraderumors:

    Cafardo On Bryant, Russell, Twins, Peavy, Mets

    By Charlie Wilmoth [July 6, 2014 at 8:00pm CDT]

    Cubs executive Jason McLeod sees flashes of Troy Glaus in top prospect Kris Bryant, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. “Definitely 40-home run power,” says McLeod. “There’ll be some strikeouts, but he has a great eye at the plate. He’ll take his share of walks and work the count.” Bryant, last year’s second overall draft pick, continues to dominate after having been promoted to Triple-A Iowa, hitting .364/.432/.773 in 74 plate appearances there. Here’s more from Cafardo.
    •One reason Addison Russell made sense for the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal, Cafardo suggests, is that Russell is unlikely to stick at shortstop, meaning that he won’t be blocked by Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez.

  • I think the real question here, is what would you take for Castro. You have three hall of fame caliber shortshops to perennial all stars. Somebody is gonna call for Castro and if someone blows me away with Trade, which teams will do, I would trade him.

    Look at the market that the Cubs are in now. A team with financial flexibility and player flexibility. The Cubs have a myriad of those options and scenarios. But, they are the ones with all the options in that market. If you look at the demand curve. The elasticity (how sensitivity people are to changes in price) for what the cubs have. Usually when too many dollars are chasing few supply the producer often benefits. Theo is an economics major from Yale. One of the basic principles in economics is making rational and emotionless decisions. When you talk about market inefficiencies, one that is glaring, is teams value their non labor activities too high. The Cubs are simply acquiring players with high activity levels. This in turn is good for the Fan. The Cubs organization (MLB/AAA/AA/A's) have never had this much talent assembled. Where potentially looking at the serious possibility of having 3 hall of famers and 2 additional players that will be perennial all-stars. This is huge. I don't think there is a system in the draft era with this much talent under 25 assembled. Get excited Cubs Fans, it's coming!

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    If the Mets want to give up Harvey and Syndegaard for Castro, I'll pack his bags myself. But they won't so I'd be happy to keep him.

    The point about moving an established player (an all-star no less) for a rookie is valid. So I would be happy to see Russell beef up to 220 (he was 215 in HS before dropping 20 lbs) and play plus 3B while we keep Javy at 2B.

    Bryant gets pushed to RF because the other 3 are are clearly and obviously far superior defenders. Alcantara plays CF until Almora takes over (I realize this kinda sorta contradicts my previous statement about not moving a starter for a rookie). But Alcantara would be a great super sub.

  • As Cubs GM here's what I'd do from here on out:

    Trade Barney, Ruggiano, and Underwood to the Jays for Norris and a mid level guy

    Trade Russell/Wright to the Angels for Ricardo Sanchez and Mark Sappington,

    Trade Nate/Mike Olt/Pirece Johnson/Cj Edwards to the Red Sox for Henry Owens

    Trade Edwin Jackson/Valbuena/Strop to Seattle for Peterson or NYY for Servino

    Call up Alcantara to play 2nd base, Call up Vitters and Jackson to play the OF. Call up Rosscup and Viscaino for the bullpen and Beeler to take Jackson's spot.

    Tank the rest of the season to acquire number 1 pick.

    Promote Russell and Soler to AAA. Russell to SS Move Baez to CF and leave Bryant at 3rd base. Schwarber to AA.


    Sign Kris Bryant to a 7 year $75 Million Contract so he starts 15' season with big club.

    Trade Castro, Servino, Peterson to Marlins for Stanton.

    Trade Almora, Soler, Norris to Seattle for Walker

    Call up Russell to MLB to play SS.

    Opening Day roster for 15'

    Alcantara 2B
    Russell SS
    Rizzo 1B
    Stanton RF
    Bryant 3B
    Baez CF
    Sweeney LF - Holding down til Schwarber is ready.
    Castillo C
    Arrieta P


    This is fun. :D

  • "Sweeney LF - Holding down til Schwarber is ready."

    Ruggiano is outplaying him by a country mile.
    Swingles will be an ex-Cub come October.

    I now believe that there is no need to trade for Stanton.
    Kris Bryant may actually be Stanton and isn't going be a FA in a couple of years.

    If the Cubs trade it should be for pitchers.
    But not for awhile..Let things sort themselves out.
    Go buy and reclaim some pitchers in the meantime.

  • @sdwyer - I enjoyed your take. Prospects are commodities from a business perspective, I think the Cubs are going to have to take some risks in terms of trading some before knowing whether or not they'll bust. Otherwise the value is destroyed. They'll also have to take risks in promoting some guys without knowing for certain whether or not they'll succeed or at least stick higher up the defensive spectrum. Thus far.they've been ultra cautious in managing risk and preserving value, but the passage of time is going to force their hand.

  • We have to salute young Mr Epstein. In the history of the game, no one ever has attempted to field an entire team with shortstops. Pitchers are a dime a dozen, but good shortstops who can play every position, are rare.

  • What great comments., from a GREAT SITE. I start my day by reading John and Company and build my hope for the Cubbies in the Future.

    1---Now that Theo and the FO have traded Sarge + Hammel, they have time to weed out/harvest a few more guys by the trade deadline.

    2---then go on a Quest for Top Starting Pitching while they use the rest of this year to Audition some of our minor leaguers.

    3---try to help Ricky and keep our Major League Cub Team from taking a NOSEDIVE in Morale. (Sure we want the highest possible draft pick, but hate to see some of our guys take a bloody beating in the 2nd half again.)

    4---let the dust seetle a bit in the minors and see what our guys do down there for the next weeks. Observe.

    In Conclusion,

    I am really worried about the loss of our 2 BEST pitchers(maybe tied with Arietta) and what that does to our team. I will choose to be optimistic as it is an opportunity to showcase some of our up and comers..,as long as it is NOT Rusin..,enough already with him as a Starter.


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