Cubs Thread: Everyday is Javydad; Rusney Castillo; Cubs pitching, and more

Cubs Thread: Everyday is Javydad; Rusney Castillo; Cubs pitching, and more
Photo by Ben Nicholson-Smith

The Cubs have said they were hoping to be buyers for this deadline.  It didn't work out that way and the Cubs once again sold off 40% of their rotation and like the previous two years, they were the team's most productive pitchers.

The Cubs lost 15 of their next 19 games after trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and it looked like another late season swoon for the Cubs.  It started to smell like more of the same baseball down the stretch. It's the part of the season where we start looking at the reverse standings and checking the top ranked amateurs for next season.

But a funny thing happened on the way there, the Cubs started winning again.  In fact they have won 6 of their last 8 games, including yesterday's game in dramatic 12 inning fashion as Javier Baez launched his first career HR.

Now it seems like something may be cooking in Cubville.

Cubs working out Rusney Castillo 

I just haven't heard the Cubs as connected with Castillo as the Phillies, Red Sox, or Yankees, all of whom are interested in bringing in the fleet CF for a tryout, but apparently they are being a bit stealthy about it.  They are holding a private workout for Castillo.  As I have mentioned before, I talked to one scout earlier this year who wasn't that impressed and considered him more of a 4th OF'er type.  Don Olsen, via Twitter, also talked to a scout who expressed some doubts,

Talked with one of my scout friends about Castillo "CF, no other position. Backside collapse an just above average raw power. Forced swing. He thinks Rusney could be a regular if he shows the line drive path consistency. Worries if the bat speed drops at all, no longterm deal."

The thing here is that the Cubs already have a fleet CF'er in switch-hitting Arismendy Alcantara and the smooth Albert Almora just a year and a half behind in Tennessee.  Is Castillo worth it on a long term deal for the Cubs when they appear to have in-house options?

That depends on how good the Cubs think he can be.  The report above isn't as enthusiastic as some of the others we have seen --some of which have compared him to Jacoby Ellsbury.  If the Cubs are of this mindset, then it is certainly worth it to do more than due diligence.

The fact that there are 3 other big market teams in this race indicates Castillo won't come cheap and we know the Cubs will set a limit based on how much they value Castillo's long term impact potential.  If they do sign him, he could be ready as soon as this year, and certainly by 2015.

Looking ahead to the next couple months and beyond: The Pitching

The Cubs are suddenly worth watching again and it isn't solely because of the new MLB core 4 (Baez, Castro, Rizzo, Alcantara).

They are worth watching because it will be interesting to see who emerges from a young group of arms.  Jake Arrieta has established himself as a mainstay at the top of the Cubs rotation.  I believe Travis Wood will finish strong as well.

What we should hope to see is one or more pitchers establish themselves beyond Arrieta and Wood for next year's rotation.  Kyle Hendricks has taken a big step in that direction, but I am curious to see what Bosio can do with Doubront and Turner, assuming the Cubs complete a deal on the latter.

Hendricks and Doubront strike me more as solid 4-5 guys, as does Wood.  Jackson appears to be the odd man out while Arrieta looks like he can be a #2 starter for the 2015 rotation.  But getting Turner changes the equation for me because I think he can be a mid-rotation starter -- and a cheap one at that.  It it happens, it affords the Cubs tremendous payroll flexibility to go out and get a veteran arm to lead this staff.  And I think you have a pretty good idea by now about who I think that should be.

At the same time, my expectations are tempered on Turner.  I was asked if he was more Jake Arrieta or Chris Volstad.  You probably won't like my answer here but I think he is closer to the Volstad side of the spectrum.  That's not to say that he will become Volstad, just that Turner has work to do and he doesn't have the same kind of stuff that Arrieta does.  It's going to be up to Turner to take that next step.  He is on his 3rd team and he is just 23  -- and he was just DFA'd by a sub-.500 team.  He can't live on his prospect pedigree for much longer.

Cubs DFA Nate Schierholtz; Activate Kyuji Fujikawa

This move shouldn't be a surprise to anyone as the writing has been on the wall for Schierholtz for some time now.  As a player who only had 2 months left with a team that is going nowhere, the loss is minimal.

Fujikawa becomes a free agent at the end of the year if the Cubs don't exercise his option.  The buyout is minimal at $500,000, so he is going to have to give the Cubs a reason to want to keep him.

 More on Javy Baez

Our own Mauricio and his Baseball Prospectus partner in crime wrote up Baez from different perspectives: Scouting and Fantasy Impact.

Today's Lineup:

  1. Coghlan, LF
  2. Baez, 2B
  3. Rizzo, 1B
  4. Castro, SS
  5. Valbuena, 3B
  6. Alcantara, 2B
  7. Castillo, C
  8. Sweeney, RF
  9. Arrieta, SP


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  • That line-up is the best we've had all year. Will be even better in Sept with Soler plugged in there.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes it's pretty good lineup with a platoon of Ruggiano/Sweeney. When Soler comes up then you have those two as righty lefty options off of the bench. Ruggiano maybe spells Coghlin against lefties. Lake waits it out, plays sporadically and uses his final option year next year to try and get to another level.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    Coghlan is hitting .375 vs LHP this year...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Why bat Baez 2nd? Switch Valbuena and him around. Baez's in not an OBP guy and Valbuena is.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I think the priority is Baez's development. he will see more FB's in front of Rizzo & Castro than he will behind them...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    ah, makes sense.

  • John, have you heard from any sources about the level of the Cubs interest in Castillo? Obviously, they're being discreet as most didn't even know about the private workout today until after the fact. But I heard they had a large contingent of their scouts/cross checkers there.

    Seems like a lot of trouble and expense to go to if their interest is only lukewarm...

  • Thanks for giving us your insight on all things going on with the Cubs
    Lets hope who we give up for Turner will not hurt us

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    John speculated earlier that it may be Marco Hernandez or Gioskar Amaya. I'd take that trade for Turner, even if it was both.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    Marlins have no leverage. I doubt we give them anything that valuable.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    Hernandez is supposed to be a true SS prospect. No way should they give up that much value when Miami has such little leverage

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    BP says he has plus-plus defensive potential. You don't trade that at a premium position like SS unless it's part of a deal bringing back a valuable piece

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    How about offering the PTBNL (or $200K) that the A's owe us?

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    How much would it take to land Hamels, if the Cubs were the club to claim him?

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    In reply to Glen Krisch:

    They've asked for a lot for him previously. I doubt that fits into phase 2 of our plans very well.

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    In reply to Andrue Weber:

    I was thinking Hamels + Lester = playoff team in 2015.

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    You're not being realistic. It's fun to dream, etc... but those are not realistic expectations on a bunch of rookies/kids.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't know that I would "expect" the playoffs, but a starting rotation of Hamels, Lester, and Arrieta would certainly take a ton of pressure off of a very young lineup. I would expect that team to compete for a playoff spot though. Either way, I don't think we will see Hamels in a Cubs uniform.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Regardless of the starting rotation, you're expecting too much from a line-up with potentially 4 rookies playing everyday. regardless of what their ceilings are; none of them will achieve their ceiling as rookies...

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    They would ask for Bryant, Baez, Russell, or Soler -- maybe more than one.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am not saying I would do it but I would be tempted to trade Russell for Hamel. I would give it some thought.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What would you do for Hamels John? Maybe Almora & McKinney type deal or is that too much?

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    In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    Not sure about Addison. But maybe the Cubs offer prospects a level below and quantity. CJ Edwards, Olt, Vogelbomb, Almora. And pay Hamels' salary.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    I would do that deal but the Phillies wouldn't.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're probably right. Maybe Schwarber instead of Vogelbomb and throw in Hendricks. Anyway, fun to think about.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    cant trade Schwarber until after next years draft...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am not in the mood to bail out the Phillies before they hit rock bottom from all of the bloated contracts they have been handing out over the past few years.

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    In reply to Glen Krisch:

    WAY too much.

  • The end of the Nate Schierholtz era in Chicago. Time for a schnappes.

  • CF Alcantara
    2B Baez
    1B Rizzo
    3B Bryant
    RF Solar
    LF Coghlan
    SS Castro
    C Castillo

    The Cubs will not have a protected first round pick next year.

  • Some curious news...

    Shawon Dunston just got pulled from the Kane County Cougar game after one AB.

    That sounds about the right level of prospect for Turner.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


    But honestly I am higher on Amaya and Hernandez than Shawon.

    Are we already to the point where we start to lose our MiLB depth? I know its greedy, but I want to keep them all!

  • We can't keep them all. We should try to keep the best. I trust our FO to manage our farm system well.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Kap seems to think a deal is close. Maybe your "eyes" at the game you the right heads up. Dunston may be the guy in play here....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    No problem losing Dunston as a prospect but having been a big fan of his dad as a Cub I was rooting a little harder for him than most prospects of his ranking to make it as a Cub. If they trade him I will continue to follow his progress and hope he has success in his next stop.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Me too. A bit of an "Oh, shoot. Oh well," from me if Dunston Jr. is the guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


    As you know I usually don't comment much here, But I have to give you props. You're always on top of everything. You write excellent and very insightful articles. On top of all that, it seems you're working 24 hours a day! My hat is off to you, sir.

    Prior to finding this site a couple of years ago, I had always had an interest in prospects, but hadn't been able to find a good source for info, let alone knew that one existed. Thank you for your excellent work over the years! I always give reco's to this site for other fans that I know.

  • In reply to giamby:

    I echo the compliments. You guys, including the knowledgeable CD blog community (which is very large) are right on so many times, even discussing Turner being picked up before it even happened.

    I got a chuckle today watching MLB (or maybe ESPN) talking about Baez, and one of the talking heads spoke, almost with bated breath, how he personally saw similarities with Gary Sheffield's swing!
    This comparison has been brought up in this blog over two years ago IIRC, and repeated numerous times! Cubs knowledge that is 2 years ahead of the "experts" is about right.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Uncanny, isn't it?

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Thank HefCA!

  • In reply to giamby:

    Thank you giamby! Much appreciated.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hopefully it's a promotion?

    Dunston, Vogelboom, and Szczur are 3 guys I am always pulling for..

  • I like it.

  • In reply to since1970:

    Ya. Me too.

  • Looks like pitchers think it's best to attack Baez with fastballs up. I think he'll force them to change that strategy very soon. Just missed in at bat #1 tonight.

  • This is funny: A Baez/Natural mashup:

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    Who's playing CF in this lineup?

  • In reply to Michael Klein:

    Alcantara. The lineup just had a typo.

  • In reply to Michael Klein:

    Egads! Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Not to be forgotten...Double-A goes BOOM!

  • Arrieta is NOT having a good night,.....

  • This is getting ugly. Arrieta doesn't have it tonight.

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    Breaking News: Arrieta mortal.

  • His stuff disappeared into thin air.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    He wouldn't be the first.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I see what you did there :)

  • Baez is lifting (raising his upper half vertically) a little. His swing looks good but he's not staying through it.
    Fuji's sinker looked impressive. His velo is down but he could help someone in a race.

  • And while many were excited about Baez's 1-6 debut bc of the HR, I see the 1-10 start to his career and think we are seeing a player who will struggle initially but even at his best may only hit .250.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Way, way, way too early to put that as his ceiling after 10 at bats. Not to mention even if he is a .250 hitter, having 30-40 HR power as a 2B is still incredibly valuable.

  • In reply to Eric:

    But if we predict by the first 10 ABs and assume a BA of .250, that's at least 50 HRs, a slugging percentage of 1.000 and an OPS of 1.250!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to INSaluki:

    I have to disagree. I think Baez will absolutely hit 270-290 one day. The kid is just so talented. His drive to be the best will take him far IMO. Might not be for a few years but I think he will get there.

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    Couldn't they let us enjoy the good play just a little longer?

  • This is difficult to watch now... 13 Runs...

  • Harmen Killebrew?

  • Did I miss something? How did Rusin get back on the 25-man roster?

  • In reply to stephenwdavis:

    Never mind, I see that he's been there for a week already.

  • In reply to stephenwdavis:

    They added him when Russell was traded, I think

  • Dunston just felt ill. False alarm. He left temporarily to barf but he is back in the dugout now.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    womp-womp. I am dissapoint.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Was at the game and I was wondering why he was pulled. It was only like the first inning. Things that make you go, "Hmmm." Blackburn looked decent tonight, not great but good enough. 93 mph cheese with an impressive breaking ball around 82. A couple of great defensive plays, I believe in the 4th, by the two middle infielders (Lockhart and Penalver) saved his bacon. He exited after 5 innings and 66 pitches to record the win. KC scored all of its runs against Peoria starter McKnight. Barraclough came in relief and make the Cougars look silly at the plate, mixing heat and off-speed pitches nicely. All three outs in his one inning of work were punch outs and I think the first two were of the Special K variety. Wind was blowing in for much of the night. There were a few rides to the track, including Baez and Caratini, but no one got anything out of the yard. 3B Candelario went 3-for-4 at the dish. He made a great diving play and throw to first late in the game to help shut down a Chiefs rally.

  • This would be a great time to be in the jersey manufacturing business. Bet a bunch of folks are working some serious overtime putting out #9 Cubs jerseys these days!

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    Why haven't we cut ties with Rusin yet?? We have guys that are way more deserving of his roster spot.

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    In reply to William Ray:

    No. Not really.

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    Funny story. Today I went to the local minor league team here where I live in Billings, Montana. And Michael Cuddyer was here on a minor league rehab stint for the Rockies farm team. He went 3 for 3 with two doubles. So I guess every Rockies player was raking tonight. Arrieta was due for a tough one I guess. He's not the first Coors Field casualty.

  • David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 36m

    Very interesting report out of Philly. @MikeMiss975 says 1 team that put in claim on Cole Hamels was Cubs

    Oh boy. here we go. What do we give up? Schwarber, Tseng and Mckinney although it seems they would demand one of the top 5.

    I would think long and hard about a Castro for Hamels swap, but I would do it.

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    In reply to cubsdude74:

    While I don't doubt the Cubs claimed him, I don't think we need to worry about a trade actually happening.

    The Cubs aren't going to offer any top guys. Probably something like Villanueva/Hernandez/Amaya and not make the Phils pay any salary.

    But considering what the Phils were asking before the deadline, they will want top prospects and an offer to pay some salary, neither of which we are interested in.

  • In reply to cubsdude74:

    Best case scenario: Amaro forgets to revoke the waiver and we get Hamels for free

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    In reply to cubsdude74:

    The Phillies asked for the Dodgers top 3 prospects for Hamels. Including Pederson and Urias. So they will probably ask for Baez, Bryant and Soler.

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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    God, I wish I could hear that phone call.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Amaro, we want Russell, Almora and Soler

    Epstein **muffles - whispers- loud laughter** dial tone

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    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Amaro: We will pay 5 mil a year of his salary and in return, we get Bryant, Baez, and Soler.

    Theo: Everyone thinks you're an asshole, Ben.


    Theo: [mocking voice] I told you not to call me "Epstein," Ben!


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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    With that contract, I think you can only give up 1 top prospect and a couple lottery tickets, The phillies do not want to pay that salary.

    Perhaps a deal including a very disappointing Domonic Browncan be added. Maybe even take on Marlon Byrd'S contract and try to flip him.

    Would be real nice to already have an ace and another solid starter in Jake heading into free agency. Gives us a position to negotiate from weakness to at least be legit future contenders.

  • There's little if any surplus WAR in Hamels' contract. Keep all the prospects and spend the money on Lester or Shields.

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    In reply to cubsin:

    Who cares about surplus WAR in this case?

    The whole rest of the roster is surplus WAR.

    Rizzo, Castro, and Arrieta make less than 8 Million combined this year for what should end up (by year's end) being 12-15 WAR combined.

    WAR at the going rate, so to speak, would make them worth 72-90 Million. Yet they're being paid less than 8.

    Bryant, Baez, Mendy, etc are all essentially free.

    Soler makes 2.6M next year so he just needs to get somewhere around 0.5 WAR to "earn" his keep.

    (Just for fun, the Oliver projections for 2015 on Baez, Bryant, Soler, and Mendy adds up to 12 WAR So thats another 72 Million in WAR dollars, so to speak, for basically nuthin' :p )

    Theo has explicitly stated that he is okay with overpaying 1 or 2 guys, probably pitchers, as long as they're getting good value almost everywhere else.

    I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Not saying we defninitely need to go get Hamels, but if Philly's priority was just getting out of paying his salary over getting a prospect return, then I would absolutely not be worried about Hamels surplus WAR.

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