Cubs send Junior Lake to Iowa to make room for Dan who comes up afterward?

While the move to bring up Dan Straily is reportedly a temporary one, the corresponding move to send Junior Lake going to Iowa is not.  He will stay there for the rest of Iowa's season and then presumably get the call when rosters expand.

That sets up an interesting scenario in AAA.  Lake is almost certainly being sent down so that he can play everyday, so somebody in the Iowa outfield will be the odd man out.  The most logical choice for that would be Josh Vitters, who has struggled to a .219/.276/.349 season -- that is a Darwin Barney-esque 60 RC+, and from a position that is supposed to be more offensively oriented no less.  Vitters is also a below average defender.  If anyone is going to the bench, it's him.

There is also a question as to who would be called up once Straily makes his start.  They could just keep him up if he pitches well.  The Cubs already have Chris Coghlan, Justin Ruggiano, Arismendy Alcantara. and Ryan Sweeney out there.  They could probably hold the fort with that, especially since Chris Valaika can also play there if needed.

The juicy scenario is to call up Jorge Soler, but he has been mired in his first slump (1 for 19 with no walks) of his abbreviated season.  Is it the right time to call him up or do the Cubs want to see him make adjustments and break out of that slump?  Perhaps the Cubs don't feel like it's a slump at all and just a run of bad luck.  He has made contact in 15 of those 19 ABs.  He could just be getting BABIP'd, but the no walks could also mean he has relaxed his good pitch selection and not waiting for pitches he can drive.

If the Cubs just want a 5th outfielder to replace Lake, than Matt Szczur fits the bill.  Szczur has hit .315 with a .357 OBP in the second half, plays good defense at all 3 positions and provides speed off the bench (30 SBs).  Such a move would allow the Cubs to play Junior Lake in CF at Iowa, something that would increase his value.

Logan Watkins is always a possibility because of his versatility.  But he is Iowa's full-time 2B right now and the Cubs don't really need versatility with Chris Valaika on the roster.

Szczur makes the most sense.  He is a fit off the bench, which would surely be his long term role anyway.  And it would reward him for turning around his season after a slow start.  My  thought is that Soler has never been at any level long enough to make adjustments after pitchers have found a way to get him out, so there is benefit to him staying at Iowa.  However,  if the Cubs feel Soler's recent tailspin is more about bad luck than a bad approach --  or perhaps they think he is getting into bad habits and want to correct him at the MLB level, then maybe Cubs fans can celebrate a Soler call-up a little earlier than expected.

I am expecting Szczur, but like any fan, part of me is hoping for Soler.  Mike Olt is another realistic possibility.

Or maybe the Cubs keep Straily up and make changes to their starting rotation.  For a minor move, this could be interesting to watch.


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  • I am wondering if they bring Olt back since he's killing it and Luis has been struggling so bad for the last month or so.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    That is another good possibility. They could call up Villanueva again to replace him.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    Only if he gets significant playing time!

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Agreed. If Olt has really addressed his issues, he should get a solid month at 3B for the Cubs to end the year.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Totally agree. I think that's what derailed Olt ... inconsistent playing time. If/when they bring him back, it needs to be as the everyday 3B.

  • Glad to see Lake get demoted. He was struggling badly and needs to work on quite a bit which he won't/can't do at the MLB level. I hope to see Szczur up as well. A nice reward for turning his season around and also a chance to see him in the only role he will have going forward: 5th outfielder.

  • Sound logic. Small chance they would carry an extra pitcher? Only one lefty.

  • I have no rational basis for it, and I still think I would love to see Soler stay in Iowa for the playoffs. I saw what it meant to those kids in Daytona to win the FSL last year - what a great game, and THEO in attendance - and I think it would be cool for Soler and Bryant to have that opportunity together.

    I think Strally stays up

  • In reply to JamesInFLA:

    I agree with you James. These guys are better off experiencing some post-season success, and build on the camaraderie they can have together for the next 5-8 years of playing together. I hope that Olt can come up and they just leave him at 3B the rest of the season. And I also hope EJax and Vitters find new homes within the next ten days.

  • In reply to JollyCharlieGrimm:

    I'll echo Jolly Charlie. The playoff experience was heralded after the season by the F.O. Let Soler stay... esp after his experiences last year and early this year.

    He'll get a taste in Chicago... and (hopefully) be ready to break with the big club next spring.

  • Why would they burn Lake's last option with only 2 weeks to go??!!!

  • In reply to Caps:

    they aren't.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Isn't he getting optioned to AAA today?

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    In reply to Caps:

    If he's down for fewer than 20 days, no option is used.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I think there is a time limit before the option is considered used. If he is only down for 20 days? the option is still intact I think.

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    In reply to Caps:

    I don't see any hope at present for salvaging Lakes current issues,high K rate and less than stellar defense. Why bring him back up in September and take playing time away from other Cubs prospects,he is after all a one trick pony, who likely is not a long term answer to the Cubs future puzzle pieces.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    They bring him back in September so he can, if need be, spend all of next year in the minors.

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    To my understanding, Lake had just one option year remaining. Why burn it now with just 2-3 weeks left in the MiLB season? Unless the FO is saying they don't see Lake in the organization next year, wouldn't it have made more sense to save the flexibility for next year?

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Looks like I have my answer. I checked and the other posters are correct, there is a 20 day rule.

  • I read somewhere that Lake had 2 starts since early June. If that's accurate, you have to wonder why he was kept on the 25-man roster so long, when he could have been working on his flaws on a smaller stage and getting significant ABs at the same time.
    I don't harbor any illusion that Lake has a future with the org., but perhaps a few months at Iowa in 2015 will give him enough time to work on/improve plate discipline to the point where another team would accept him as part of a bundle in a trade after the ASB.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    The answer is posted above. If Lake had been sent down earlier, he would have wasted his last option. As it stands now, he can play in AAA all next year to prove and improve himself, if necessary.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Honestly, I don't think a half-year (2014) or a year (2015) at AAA would make any difference to Lake at this point. It would merely speed up the process of how and when how would be waived/traded.

    A mid-June 2014 demotion would have given him at least 200 ABs this year that he didn't get for Chicago, and would have either shown the org that he could improve his batter's eye or not. Add another 150-200 ABs in Fall League, if necessary (to say nothing of winter ball), and there probably wouldn't have been any need for a 2015 option at all.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Actually, the real reason is we didn't have any better options to replace him with. If any of the OF'rs on the 40 man had been tearing it up, they'd been up and Lake sent down weeks ago. But only recently with Szczur and Soler have we had any worthwhile OF play since Coghlan replaced Kalish.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Lake had a nummer of starts end July, early August, when the Cubs played the Rockies and their primarily left-handed starting rotation.

  • I like the idea of Szczur, if only to enhance his trade value. If he can continue his strong 2nd half at the MLB level, Lake gets more time to work on his issues and be ready for ST. Both will probably end up as trade bait, anyway, so anything that helps them improve increases their value.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think Sczcur deserves it. .315 in the last 30 days, and a good reward for having done everything the org has asked of him since he was drafted.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    And by Sczcur, I mean Szczur. I think.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    He's not going to be anything more than a 4th OF. He wouldn't even start consistently in this terrible OF. I'm not sure how much he can raise his trade value.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Even 4th OFers have a value, don't they? Right now, he's not even that.

  • John really should edit his post to let folks know that Lake is not burning through his last option, as long as he gets called up before a certain day (9/4?). Just so there is no confusion about this.

  • You guys are right, Lake would need to be down for 20 days... If he comes back up on Sept 1, that's about 15 days... I thought it was 10 days.

  • It really should be a right handed bat, whoever it is. Olt would be my choice right now, if indeed Valaika can play some outfield. He's been crushing the ball since he went down, and has more potential value to this team in the long term than Sczcur.

  • Personally, I think Lake is likely finished in a Cubs uniform. He hasnt made adjustments and has lost confidence. He might be a change-0f-scenery candidate.

  • Whoever the Cubs call up, the only consideration should be which player would most benefit from it. There is no reason at all to worry about which call-up would benefit this year's team the most.

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    Although you guys say Lake has 20 days before his last option is expired, I don't see why this FO would bring him back before the 20 days. It just sets a bad example. You might as well keep him with Chicago the whole year and then start him at Iowa next year if you have plans to keep his last option viable.

    There are plenty of guys worthy of of look right now. So do you just bring them up for a weekly look then send them back because you must bring back Lake? What does that say to the prospect that must get demoted even though he was worthy of the promotion to begin with? It's playing mind games, imo....

    Lake needs more development. That part is known. So does 19 days at Iowa magically transform him? Let him now stay down there until maybe next summer of fall....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    The 20 days will be after Sept 1st, when active rosters are allowed to expand to as many as 40, so recalling Lake to save his option would not interfere with or limit calling anyone else up

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That was kinda my point. The 20 day rule isn't really an issue in this case. This demotion was an attempt to get him some regular at bats and then when rosters expand you just bring him back without penalty. But his time may still be limited if he comes back....

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    Hopefully this spells the end of the Edwin Jackson era! Waive him, eat his salary and be done with him!

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    I sure hope E-Jax stays on for the remainder of the year. The only thing left for him to do is help us get a top 5 draft pick.

    Keep sending him out there!

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    How about switching Jackson to utility outfielder and making Lake your starting pitcher? He probably throws harder and couldn't possibly have worse 1st inning results...

  • IDK that we are really short a position player while Straily is up. Except for the games he starts, T Wood is just as viable as a pinch hitter/runner as anything we'd bring up from AAA not named Soler. Olt has been red hot, but that pretty much began day one in Iowa, at a time when he looked lost/over-matched in the MLB. So there's no guarantee that it translates back up to the big club.

    I can see the argument for Szczur, and yes, he's a step quicker than T Wood; but he is far from a finished product. He may benefit more playing everyday in Iowa than a bench role here.

    It'll be interesting. I'll root for all of them lol.

  • I had kind of written Szczur off--I didn't realize his second half has been that good. That's pretty encouraging. Sometimes speed guys are late bloomers (Podsednik, Bourn, Glanville, etc). Maybe Szczur could even have an MLB future as a starter, just not until age 26 or so?

    One thing that the Cubs offense is going to need is a table setter, and Alcantara is probably not that guy. The strikeouts will probably always limit his OBP too much, even though he has great speed. Baez has speed but would be miscast at the top of the order as well, for more obvious reasons. Soler might be a decent option near the top as long as he runs well--like maybe in the 2 spot--but you'd rather have a real leadoff type ahead of him.

    Right now, it doesn't seem like there's an obvious leadoff type hitter on the horizon. I don't buy Watkins as anything more than a bench guy. He just doesn't have enough value offensively or defensively to make a compelling case for a starting job at the MLB level. The fact that he hits LH and can play some 2B means he has a shot as a bench guy down the road, but he's probably going to toil at AAA for a few years and need some injuries to happen to get a shot at an MLB job.

    Andreoli was always a long shot (more of a Dascenzo/Fuld type than anything) and has kind of fallen off the map this year. He looked like he was going well before the horrific slump and DL trip. And it's hard to take him too seriously as a future MLB starter.

    Ha has also fallen off the map. Most of the guys with compelling speed/OBP combos are at the very lowest levels right now.

    I think it's pretty clear at this point that Szczur isn't going to turn his considerable physical strength into HR power, but maybe he can at least continue to progress with the tools that would make him a decent leadoff option in another year or two. I had already written him off, but that was probably premature.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Why is it that when Baez and Almora struggled when they were promoted to a new league it was called "adjustment", yet everyone was so quick to write off Szczur when he struggled at the beginning of his first AAA season this year?

    And I've never understood the Negative Nellies thrown at Logan Watkins. Dale did him a real disservice last year, putting him in WITSEC at the end of the bench. NOBODY (capital 'N') can perform when given one PH opportunity every 5 games. I recall Dale giving Watkins 2 starts at 2B; both were multi-hit games (wasn't one 4-for-4?) and one had a spectacular def. play.

    Admittedly, I've only seen the two play a handful of times at AA and AAA, But both hustle 110% and are the team laundry person's worst nightmare. The Cubs could do a lot worse than having those 2 on their bench with occasional stints at the top of the lineup.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Yes they do work hard and the hustle is what is keeping them with the team. Watkins may not have been given much of a chance by Dale, but when both are OPS under .700 in hitter friendly PCL (all year of 300-400+ plate appearances), that is tough to warrant promotion. That is Szczur even for over his last 100+ plate appearances during his hot streak. That is right only 3 doubles as his extra base hits during that post all star! His walk rate is like 7%, so with no power, that is nothing worthy. He'll get a cup of coffee and if he continues to work at it, he can maybe squeeze into the 4th/5th/defensive. For Watkins post all star is way under .600 for OPS! And like 5% walk rate! These are after playing at least all year. So again love the hustle and if they work at it can maybe find a spot on a big league club, but far from starter even on a 2nd division club at this point.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Baez and Almora have more elite baseball tools than Szczur, and I think that's part of the reason people are more forgiving regarding their struggles. Although Almora's star could begin to fade a bit as he climbs the ladder if he doesn't continue to put up big numbers. Also, it's tough to really compare Szczur's numbers with Baez's. Yes, Baez had struggles, but he would put up monster numbers later in the season, and he was blowing through two levels per year. Szczur is in a different class altogether.

    Szczur was once a hyped prospect, but it was more projection than performance. The idea was that he was a college football guy who might take a leap forward as a pro who is 100% dedicated to baseball. But his physical strength never translated into any kind of power at the plate, and both his hit tool and ability to draw walks have been a bit inconsistent.

    Szczur still has a shot at an MLB career as a starter, IMO, but if he does it will probably be something along the lines of guys like Glanville and Podsednik--guys who emerged later than normal and had maybe 2-3 good years as a starter before they faded into oblivion.

    As for Watkins, part of his problem is his inconsistent glovework. The other problem is all the strikeouts which keep his BA down and will probably prevent him from ever being a legit MLB table setter. So, I don't see him becoming a defensive oriented guy a la Barney, and I don't really see him becoming a guy who can lead off and have a prominent offensive role, either.

    Watkins hitting LH could help him cobble together a role on a bench somewhere in his late 20's but I personally don't see enough value--offensively or defensively--there for him to become a MLB starter.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Not to be argumentative, but where does the description "Watkin's inconsistent glove work" come from? His 2013 MLB 2b fielding % was .982 (1 error) and his 2014 MiLB 2b fielding % was .986 (2 errors). Also note that this year he's been the ultimate jack-of-all trades, playing 60 games away from his natural 2b position.

    And could you expand a little more on "all his strikeouts"? His stats show 73 Ks in ~329 PAs, for a 22% rate. I dunno, is that high? AA's Iowa totals were 83 Ks in ~360 PAs, for a higher 23% rate.

    Also, please remember that this is Watkin's first full year at AAA, as last year was wasted rusting on the Cub bench.

    Again, I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I can't understand the continuing calls to write this guy off.

  • Since they aren't going to call Bryant up this year (mainly because of player control, not development issues) and Valbuena isn't the future, I would have no problem with them recalling Olt for the final month and a half of the season. Granted I think he is a AAAA player, but I'm willing to see what he does again. If he surprises me than great the Cubs have a future option at 3B or he increases his trade value. If he flops, again, which I'm pretty sure will happen, then we might finally get the Olt cheerleaders to shut up and quit calling for a promotion and start at 3B.

  • And I still wish Szczur could buy a vowel. Maybe Alcantara would sell him that silent 'a'.

  • I'm hoping that it's Szczur that gets the call - he's a guy who might have value for next season - especially before guys like Soler or Bryant (if moved to the OF) are moved up from AAA or need a spell back down there.

    But I think that Vitters is definately the odd man out in Iowa now. He's got to see the writing on that wall already. Cubs should just cut him now and waive him - give him the chance to catch on with some other club's MiL system now. The roster spot is much more valuable now than is the potential left in holding Vitters.

  • Just saw a Tweet on the Cubs Reporter site that said Szczer was getting promoted.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Great news. I always did like the young man. Hopes he runs with this opportunity. Go Szczur!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    What's it like for you overseas guys always having to watch "today's" game "yesterday", or is it "tomorrow"?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    What's cool is that afternoon games at Wrigley start here at 8:20 pm, so I am done with work and can have a late dinner and refreshment with the ball game. Extra inning games starting in the evening or West Coast games are ending as I wake up, so I can usually catch an inning or two with breakfast. I nearly got to see the end of the Baker game with my breakfast, before I had to catch the bus for work. It's only a 7 hour difference, so it's not that bad. I bet the Far East fans have a different story to tell.

    I am really glad the recaps are back (thanks Urge and Gunther) because that is usually my 'morning paper' so to speak. That and John's minor recaps, usually.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Hail Szczur!

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Veni, vidi, vici (let's hope).

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    Cubs should promote Manny Ramirez! Boom!

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