Felzz is currently ill so there is no Anarchist's Brunch today. I thought I might give it a shot and write a brunch for you, but the style is inimitable. And I am not a brunch guy. Anarchist maybe, but not a brunch guy. A good morning cup of coffee or three is more my style.
Please welcome our new writer, Cat Garcia
We are always looking for talent and unique perspectives here at Cubs Den and with that in mind, we are bringing you Cat Garcia (@TheBaseballGirl on Twitter). Cat is the author of The Sports Blogette and while you may notice she is a White Sox fan, you will also notice she is very objective in her analysis. Here is her take on the Cubs-Athletics trade and another piece here on how the Cubs came out on top in the Anthony Rizzo-Andrew Cashner deal. And besides, she has told me she would be thrilled to see the Cubs win a World Series.
But most importantly, she is a good writer and she knows her stuff -- and I am sure you will enjoy her debut article, which will be coming soon.
Please welcome her to the Cubs Den writing team!
Colby Lewis and Baseball Etiquette
I won't say much here because I think that our friends at World Series Dreaming said it very well, but why on Earth was Colby Lewis getting upset about Colby Rasmus bunting for a hit?
In case you missed it, Lewis took umbrage that Rasmus would bunt with a lead....but that lead was just 2-0 in the 5th inning.
Moreover, he was upset because he bunted against the shift.
"I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you're up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average," Lewis said.
Gee, a guy is employing an offensive strategy that effectively thwarts your defensive strategy. That's called competition. And getting on base and doing what you can to avoid outs is how you win games in baseball. You also score as many runs as you think it will take to win the game. With just a 2 run lead and the game just past the halfway point -- not to mention a struggling bullpen -- the Jays lead was anything but safe.
Perhaps Lewis is frustrated about a rough season for both he and the Rangers, but the anger is misplaced here.
Final Take on the Astros
I've been quite vocal about the Astros treatment of draftees Brady Aiken and Jason Nix, both of whom received offers that were later rescinded. In Aiken's case, the impetus was an "abnormality" in an MRI. There was no tear, no fraying -- it simply appears that Aiken's UCL is smaller than the average person's. It hasn't stopped him from being healthy or throwing 97 mph in his last start. And there is no data to suggest that the size of the UCL puts him at any greater risk of injury or that it increases the difficulty of repairing it should there be an injury down the line.
The Astros lowballed Aiken, offering instead the $3.1M required for them to get a compensation pick next year. Later, they reportedly "upped" the offer to over $5M, which they say the Aiken camp ignored. But here is the thing: If you are willing to get that close, why not just give him what you promised for a little bit more than $1M? That isn't exactly a huge amount of money in the world of elite player signing bonuses.
The reason is simply this: The Astros attempted to capitalize on a gray area (at best) concern to strong arm Aiken, save money, and use it to diversify their risk by signing the previously thought to be unsignable lefty Mac Marshall, a 21st round overslot. It wasn't about the money, it was about getting greedy. It was about using favorable rules to minimize risk at the expense of amateur players. It was about trying to have your cake and eat it too.
The guy who really gets burned here is Jason Nix, a 5th round pick who agreed for $1.6M but the Astros reneged on the offer when they lost the pool money that comes with the #1 slot in the draft. They would have lost their next 2 draft picks and rather than be accountable for their own miscalculation, they preferred to go back on their word and pass the cost down to a high school ballplayer.
What's more, they took some cheap shots on the way out, deliberately outing Brady Aiken and Jason Nix as having negotiated with agents, something the NCAA would be sure to investigate, thereby jeopardizing their college eligibility. Their strong arm tactics rebuffed, the Astros took it a step further by potentially further diminishing their remaining options. How petty.
We can blame the system here if we want and surely the MLBPA sold out amateurs in the new CBA so that they could protect free agency and established players. That may be true, but they aren't solely to blame here. The owners pushed vehemently for this CBA and were set to lock out the players over these very rules. How many of you would have sacrificed a season of baseball for amateur baseball? How many of you think that the average player had any chance of outlasting ownership in this kind of standoff? The MLBPA may have made a questionable choice, but in reality, they were backed into the corner on this. They had a choice, but it would have been an extremely costly one for them.
Business is business but that should work on both ends. If you make a commitment, you should be prepared to honor it and not weasel your way out of it at the expense of others, especially innocent bystanders like Jason Nix. The Astros could have just paid Aiken the extra million or so they promised, honored the Nix commitment, and dropped their pursuit of Marshall. It would have worked out fine. It would have cost them just a little extra money to avoid this debacle.
But the CBA as negotiated gave them little incentive to do that. They get the 2nd overall pick in next year's draft as reward for their questionable actions along with all the pool money that goes with what stands to be the 2nd and 3rd pick in the 2015 draft next year. Given that they freaked themselves out over the UCL and had buyer's remorse over Aiken, the Astros decided they were willing to make that trade. They have already talked about drafting a college arm to make up for lost development time. The careful calculation continues.
Their only chance to truly lose out on this is if players and their agents stick together and refuse to make pre-arranged deals with a team that is clearly prepared to abandon them at their convenience. But I won't hold my breath on that. The system favors ownership on this and they will probably come out of this just fine.
I hope we can someday say the same for Aiken and Nix.
Cubs interested in Cuban outfielder?
I haven't written much about the Cuban crop since Jose Abreu (and recently Yomani Tomas) because I just haven't received a lot of glowing reports. Keep in mind that my contact on this is from outside the organization, so he may well feel differently than the Cubs international scouting team on Castillo.
MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez writes that the Cubs are among teams scouting the small (5'9", 185 lbs) but speedy 27 year old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, whom I was told projects more as a 4th outfielder type, but again, the Cubs may feel differently here. And even if they don't, a 4th outfielder on a team that lacks three average regulars in the outfield would likely still be an upgrade. And given that it would only cost the Cubs money and not their coveted cache of prospects, it is certainly worth the due diligence if he can be a fit for the short and long term.
But it could be more than that, some scouts are more optimistic than the one with whom I spoke, According to Sanchez,
Cuban outfield prospect Rusney Castillo has been compared to Brett Gardner. Others see him as a player similar to Jacoby Ellsbury. One scout compared him to Kenny Lofton.
Castillo is expected to make a decision shortly, soon after his July 26th showcase. He would expected to join the minor leagues first and it seems reasonable that the Cubs could pair him with fellow Cuban Jorge Soler at AA Tennessee, then give him a shot to win a job in spring training next season.
Yankees still scouting Edwin Jackson
Gordon Wittenmeyer wrote that the Yankees scouts were heavily in attendance for Jackson's last start and there may be a fit between the two teams. The Cubs went pretty far down the road in trade negotiations with both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, so the teams probably have a pretty good feel for each other right now.
The Yankees don't have the depth to make a particularly large investment and the team's hopes don't warrant a big splash either. A flyer on a talented change of scenery type player that costs them less in terms of prospects may be their best bet.
Wittenmeyer writes that the Cubs still owe Jackson $26M and much like the Soriano deal last year, they may have to eat some of that contract, but if the Cubs can open up some roster space and acquire another prospect or two, it would probably be worth their while, especially considering Jackson is more of a short term plaeyr on a team with long term goals.
Jackson arm is still sound (averaging 93 mph) and he has been healthy overall for his entire career. If Yankees scouts and pitching coach Larry Rothschild -- who has had success working with power pitchers in the past -- see something they think he can fix, the ability is still there. It may be the kind of upside play that fits their situation best.
As for what I am listening today, it's Aenima by Tool. It goes well with coffee.
Filed under: News and Notes