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.
- Coghlan, LF
- Baez, 2B
- Rizzo, 1B
- Castro, SS
- Valbuena, 3B
- Alcantara, 2B
- Castillo, C
- Sweeney, RF
- Arrieta, SP
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