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Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Straily on a roll as organization gets solid pitching all around

Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Straily on a roll as organization gets solid pitching all around
Dan Straily

It's a rather light day as the Smokies were off and Daytona rained out.   The Cubs got some good pitching today, including from one pitcher who could help them as soon as this season.

We also had our first recap as Sean, "The Sinister Urge" had a nice debut.  If you missed it, you can check it out here.

In case you missed it, the meeting place for the UA game will be at Mullens on Clark Street.  I will be there at 2 pm until about 3:30 or so at which time time I will leave to check out the HR Derby, which starts at 4.  The game starts at 6.  If you want a quick cheat sheet, you can read my take on all the players here.

Anyway, on with the recap...

Iowa 3 - OKC 0

  • Maybe competition is bringing the best out on some of the Cubs upper level pitchers.  First they have seen Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Dallas Beeler have some success at the MLB level.  Then the Cubs acquired former top prospects Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner.  Lastly we have seen Eric Jokisch pick up the pace and vault himself into consideration for a roster spot.  But we cannot forget about Dan Straily.  The third man in the deal with the Oakland A's, Straily was sent to Iowa to get his bearings and after a couple of so-so starts, he has has really turned it on of late.  He pitched 6 scoreless innings to give him 19 in a row to improve his record to 7-6 and lower his ERA to 4.06.  Straily allowed just 2 hits, though he did walk 3.  He also struck out 4.  He has walked 3.4 batters per 9 IP at AAA while striking out 9.4.
  • Zach Rosscup pitched a scoreless inning and for the 3rd straight outing, did not walk a batter.  He lowered his ERA to 2.33.
  • Armando Rivero struck out the side on 13 pitches.  He is still walking around 4 batters per 9 innings, but he has been missing bats with startling regularity -- 14.1 batters per 9 IP.  His ERA is at 1.61 in AAA and 1.58 between AA and AAA this year.  He is putting himself in position for a call-up this year, but it's possible the Cubs save the roster spot until the offseason and let him compete for a job next spring.
  • The reliable Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 1,16 and earning his 23rd save.
  • Matt Szcaur did a nice job out of the leadoff spot with 2 singles and a walk.  He stole 2 bases, giving him 26 on the year.  He also scored a run and added an RBI.
  • Logan Watkins made it a solid 1-2 punch with a single, run scored,, and an RBI.  Watkins and Szczur are both turning into solid role players at Iowa, though it remains to be seen whether they can hit enough to be useful at the MLB level.
  • Nobody is doubting Jorge Soler much these days.  He doubled and had one RBI today.  Earlier Keith Law of ESPN suggested he may end up being the best of the so-called core 4.  That would have seemed crazy just 2 months ago, but it suddenly seems like a very distinct possibility.  Nobody in the Cubs system has a better combination of power, patience, and the ability to make contact.
  • Josh Vitters had a pair of singles, stole his 4th base and scored a run.

Boise 11 - Eugene 6

  • 7th round pick James Norwood stretched out to 4 innings today and allowed just one run.  Norwood has one of the best present FBs in terms of velocity among the Cubs recently drafted pitchers but he will have to develop the rest of his game to have a shot at the rotation down the line.  Norwood walked one and struck out 2 in lowering his ERA to 2.92.  He has shown much better control since joining Boise, walking 2 and striking out 10 in 12.1 innings.
  • Brad Markey pitched the next 2 innings to get credit for the win.  It was his first pro win to go with his 3.00 ERA.
  • Daniel Lewis, the undrafted free agent we are all rooting for, pitched another scoreless inning, walking one and striking out 2.  He has yet to allow a run in his first 3 outings (3 IP).
  • Charcer Burks is becoming an on-base machine.  He singled and drew 3 more walks, giving him 10 in 65 PAs since joining Boise.   That is a 15% rate and it has him at a .415 OBP to go with his .302 average.  He also stole his first base in the NWL.  He also has just 10 Ks, cutting down his K rate in half since his promotion.  Burks hit well in the AZL but he is becoming a better all-around offensive player at Boise.
  • Mark Zagunis went 2 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored.
  • Big game for Danny Canela who went 3 for 3 with a walk.  The big hit was a 3-run HR (6) and he drove in 4 runs overall.  He has improved his walk (8.5%) and K rates (18.4%) since his demotion from Kane County and his hitting .309/.363/.466 on the season for Boise.
  • David Bote went 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI and is hitting .333 since joining Boise.
  • Bryant Flete has not skipped a beat since his promotion.  The 21 year old middle infielder isn't much for power but he can get on base.  Flete went 3 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored, upping his average to .333 to go with a 10% walk rate that has his OBP at .394.
  • OF Calvin Graves went 2 for 4 with a triple and 3 RBI.  He also scored a run and is hitting .226

AZL Cubs 8 - AZL Rangers 1

  • Few of you may remember that Jose Paulino was the Opening Day starter for the AZL Cubs.  He got off to a brutal start.  He has shown signs of coming around of late.  The 6'2" RHO had his best game of the season, working 6 scoreless innings while walking none and striking out 6.
  • Ho-Young Son is starting to look like yet another find by the Cubs scouts.  The 19 year old has hit better than expected, getting 2 hits to improve his average to .300 with a solid .364 OBP in is first 55 PAs.  He has stolen 8 bases, though he was caught for the 3rd time today.
  • 17 year old Gleyber Torres went 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI.  He continues to hold his own with a .282/.366/.387 line in his first 142 pro PAs.
  • CF Kevonte Mitchell, a 13th round overslot pick, is proving to be worth the investment.  He doubled and tripled as that power is beginning to show in games. He scored and drove in a run.  Mitchell is hitting .327/.400/.373 on the year.
  • Yasiel Balaguert is rehabbing and went 1 for 5 with a triple.

Comments

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  • Past three starts for Straily: 19.0 IP 12 hits 0 ER 4 BB 18 K's (3 wins).

    Sounds like he's starting to figure it out a little bit and get into a groove. I expect him to be given the next call-up should an opportunity arise.

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    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I doubt it considering they just got turner and doubrount. I'm wondering what the rotation will be now after arrieta, wood, and Hendricks. With wada, turner, doubrount and E Jax all starters. I dope they dfa Edwin.

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    In reply to Spoorthy Vemula:

    With 2 more years on his contract, I doubt they'll DFA EJax just yet....

  • In reply to Jason Heer:

    Possibly with hopes someone might need him for their playoff run?

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    In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Then you put him on revocable waivers, not a DFA. If someone makes a waiver claim (nobody will) he's their headache. If he clears waivers, he can be dealt and maybe you find a taker if you're willing to eat salary.
    . If you simply DFA him, once he clears waivers (he would), he is then a free agent and you are still on the hook for the remaining 2+ years of his salary (appx $25mil)

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I would put him on waivers just to see what happens. Considering we got something for Barney (who I consider even worse, though lower paid) even if we had to pick up some of the tab on him I would consider that. Let's say we paid $12-15M of his contract we might get something. Not a high end prospect, but it would be something.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Agreed. I don't know why it's taken them so long to put EJax on waivers, but there's no better time than no since he hasn't been awful his last few starts.

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    In reply to bzalisko:

    If I'm not mistaken, teams can only put a player on waivers once in August. If he's pulled back he can no longer be traded. Perhaps the Cubs are waiting for the ideal time.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    I guarantee you that have already put him on waivers and he went through unclaimed.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I think so too. It would be huge if Straily can regain that 2013 form and become a solid 4/5 option for awhile

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    In reply to Cubswin2015:

    It would be huge, but at this point I consider it unlikely. I was looking at his numbers:
    2012 his HR/9 was 2.5 and his FIP was 6.48
    2013 his HR/9 was 0.9 and his FIP was 4.05
    2014 his HR/9 was 2.1 and his FIP was /is 5.67.

    Obviously FIP is closely related to HR allowed. His other "rate" numbers were extremely similar all three years.

    He is young enough to possibly still turn it around and the two years with the high HR/9 totals had low enough IP totals that they could be skewed but I am not holding my breath. We'll see what happens next year. I don't see it as likely that he will make any real impact this season.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Considering his pre-Cub issues, he may need more time in AAA.
    Like Olt, the key is making sure the issues are really fixed rather than simply a hot streak.
    Maybe a September call up, but hopefully he'll be ready to compete for a place in the rotation in ST.
    If DJ and Bosio can work their magic, we could be pretty happy with the Straily, Turner and Doubront additions.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Straily's last 3 starts have been great. My optimism is still reserved due to his his ground ball rates being really low. I love his stuff & the results. But I think this FO has targeted more sinker ballers as it is what plays best @ Wrigley. Not that Strailey can't have success, but lots of GO's will help him immensely.

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    There will be no shortage of starter candidates heading into 2015. One way or the other E, Jaxx goes away.My list would be Lester,Arrieta,Wood,Hendricks and Straily.I'm hoping Turner,Wada and Doubront have some say in the matter as well.Who else? Jokisch and maybe the biggest wild card of all C.J. Edwards.It looks to me that's a lot of spare parts for Theo to work with.

  • In reply to Loren Ronzheimer:

    I love how this FO has stockpiled SS, 3Bmen, Catchers & starting pitchers this will serve us well when we need to add big league talent in a pennant race

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    They have more than their share of good relievers as well.

  • In reply to Loren Ronzheimer:

    I mostly agree with your thoughts but want to disagree a bit. EJax isn't likely going anywhere unless he is traded this month; he might be worth a flyer in a pennant race, but wouldn't give any return in the offseason unless he keeps with the good starts the rest of the way.

    Travis Wood is similar but may have more trade value (one very good year, then a down year, another team might be hoping for a rebound). Personally if I had one pitcher I hope is not back next year it is Wood. I believe last year was an aberration and his value will continue declining the further removed from 2013 we get. Turner, Doubront and Straily are wildcards and I hope one or more of them can get Bosio'd and reach their potential. But I am not sure we can count on more than Arrieta as a #2 or so and Hendricks as a BOR. Otherwise there is a great deal of uncertainty.

    Unlike past years though, this uncertainty has a very high ceiling, as Arrieta could become a TOR, Hendricks a MOR, Wood and Jaxx have shown MOR in the past and Turner, Doubront and Straily all have MOR ceilings. Not to mention potential solid BORs like Jokisch, Beeler and Wada and potential late 2015 contributers like Johnson and (though I think less likely) Edwards. As such, I definitely agree that there is a great deal of possibilities going into next year.

  • In reply to springs:

    Don't forget about pierce Johnson and Corey black as well. They are both pitching well and in AA and on keith laws top 10

  • In reply to Jjdgolf:

    He mentioned Johnson as a "potential late 2015 contributor".

    I like Black, but there are still lots of questions with him. Lots of people dont think he will stick as a starter. I think 2015 @ AAA is critical for him. If he can develop some consistency with his control, he can stick as a starter. He may need more refinement in his command to take that to the MLB level, but we can wait til 2016 on him. If he can't develop more consistency though, I think they move him to the BP when they bring him up to the mLB.

  • Agreed Lorenz, I see: Lester(hopefully) ,Arrieta,Wood, a free agent veteran, Hendricks then at AAA you have Wada,Turner, Straily, Doubrant,Jokisch,Beeler then Edwards & Johnson close behind.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Turner is out of options. That's how we got him to begin with.

  • I'm all for landing Lester, but I think the Cubs will get another starter from the others you mentioned, unless they find a deal on a veteran FA that is better.

    Hopefully, EJax is hearing LOUD footsteps from behind...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think they definitely could find a keeper, maybe two from this group.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Seems like more upsides than spots to put them.

  • It could be just me but Jorge Soler bears a striking resemblance to some dude I remember who came up with the expos in the late 90s. That guy was pretty good.

  • In reply to mike2109:

    Vlad? You mean physically? I can see a little. Both big guys, both always smiling...

    Hopefully he hits like Vlad, even if their styles are a little different.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Speaking of Vlad, perhaps the Expos should be the target the Cubs shoot for in terms of minor league production. While the draft system has certainly changed, they would be a good target for long term stability -- I am not sure many teams continually brought up good players as well as Montreal, though they then started losing all of them to free agency.

    Starting in 70s drafts with Gary Carter (3rd rd, 1972), Tim Raines (5th rd., 1977), Andre Dawson (11th rd, 1975), Ellis Valentine (2nd rd, 1972), Tim Wallach (1st rd, 1979), Warren Cromartie (1st rd., 1973), Steve Rogers (1st rd, 1971), Bryn Smith (49th rd, 1973), Larry Parrish (undrafted free agent, 1972), Scott Sanderson (3rd rd, 1977) and Bill Gullickson (1st rd., 1977 (out of Joliet Catholic)), the Expos were regularly good.

    Then they had:

    Andres Galaraga (signed 1979)
    Larry Walker (undrafted free agent, 1984)
    Randy Johnson (2nd rd. 1985)
    Delino Deshields (12th rd., 1987) (later traded for young Pedro Martinez)
    Marquis Grissom (3rd rd., 1988)
    Jose Vidro (6th rd., 1992)
    Vladimir Guerrero (signed 1993)
    Michael Barrett (1st rd., 1995)
    Milton Bradley (2nd rd., 1996)
    Bradon Phillips (2nd rd., 1998)
    Grady Sizemore (3rd rd., 2000)
    Cliff Lee (4th rd., 2000)

    If you can continue to restock like this, you can be good perenially.

  • In reply to springs:

    Amazing things is that the Expos weren't good perennially. I was young through a lot of those years, but seem to recall the Expos were consistently up and coming, but never seemed to arrive. Weren't they dominating in '94 when the strike took out most of the season?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Yes...1994 was an amazing and dominant Expos team that got screwed by the strike.

    You are right though -- bringing the players in isn't everything. The Expos lost players through free agency and made some very bad trades that cost them what potentially could have been a great run.

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    In reply to springs:

    Thanks for mentioning Marquis Grissom. A fine ball player and a class act. One of the best guys in the game and a hero to one of my favorite players, Angel Pagan.

  • In reply to mike2109:

    I think he reminds me more of Dawson than Vlad. He doesn't have his speed, but size, arm, power all remind me of him.

  • Count me in re: enthusiasm for our rotation options. I know that there are many here who believe the Cubs are going to go after another Hammel / Maholm / Feldman type in the offseason, but my hunch is that the FO decided on snatching that "reclamation project" pitcher up during the season. It's Dan Straily, Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner or Tsuyoshi Wada. All of these guys have the potential to be solid contributors to the back end of the rotation, and then you add in the prospects Hendricks, Beeler, Jokisch, plus the possibility that a guy like Grimm gets a chance at the rotation... It's quite a numbers game. Bosio and Derek Johnson only have so much time to coach these guys up, and I'd rather they spend that time grooming our prospects who are 25-and-under versus investing that time in some 30-year-old pitcher trying to bounce back from a bad year.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Well said.

    Jed Hoyer acknowledged the success they had in signing/flipping, but said that he didn't think they could do that again. 1). Everyone has caught on to that inefficiency, so he expects those SP's will get more than 1yr and bigger $$ too. 2). He specifically named Straily as a candidate for Bosio to turn around. Since it was before the Doubront & Turner acquisitions, one can assume this is how they are getting their new turn around projects. 3). They don't want to be sellers at the trade deadline.

    Their focus is clearly on getting turn around MOR/BOR SP's that have some cost control left.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    How did it take so long for people to catch on. I remember when they signed Feldmann: "When looking for lodging, rent, don't buy." The Cubs had no use for a 30-year-old guy UNLESS he was going to be flipped at the deadline. Yet the Cubs did it again with Hammel this year. While Beane is getting better performance this year out of his haul, in 5 years people are going to say, "I can't believe the cubs got these guys for Samardzija and Hammel."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Most Cubs fans are still following the Wittenmeyer, Telander, Morrissey, etc. line on the rebuild. There was an interesting article last week in Fangraphs on players whose WAR declined drastically after age 30. I mention it here because it mentions how it was the aftermath of the trade of popular icon Nomar that finally made Boston fans believers in Theo's abilities. I believe the Samardzija trade will eventually turn most anti-Theo Cub fans around. Not because I expect Samardzija to revert to past performance, but because the haul will turn out to have been so spectacular and Samardzija will turn out to have been so easily replaceable.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    I think the Cubs will still pursue short term pitchers, but the term short term will be redefined as two or three years. And they will still be trading them near the end of their contract, with the aim of gaining long term assets in exchange for short term assets.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    With them grabbing Turner, Straily, and Dubrount, it looks like the Cubs have found their way in front of the trend. I don't see them going after a short term option this winter because I think they already found theirs at the end of this year.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Likely true, but who knows? If they find a Hammel and he performs well for us, maybe he becomes a contributor to a contending team rather than a candidate to be flipped.

  • In reply to springs:

    I think Jed's point was those type of guys will be offered more money and more than a one year make good type of contract. The impression I got was that they don't want to invest the time/effort into a one year deal now. They'd rather invest that time/effort into a younger SP that they can control cost effectively for a few years. Not saying they wont go out and sign a 30yo FA SP. But I think TOR is their focus going forward with FA after accumulating so many MOR/BOR options since July 4th.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree...I think I didn't grasp that point as well in my response.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It is just a gut feeling but I would be surprised if they sign Lester and/or Scherzer. Those guys are going to command A LOT of money and they are getting a little old to be "core" guys. I would rather preserve our financial flexibility for when we need it and not have it gobbled up by a pitcher on the decline of his career. Remember, next year will be a possible first full season for Baez, Hendricks, and Alcantara with Bryant and Soler likely making their debuts (unless Soler gets called up this year). While things look very promising they could also tank in a hurry. I suppose a starter like Lester/Scherzer could be a stabilizing effect they would still tie up too many resources to allow us to build around them if our prospects don't work out and, if the prospects do work out, I don't know that we need a prototypical "TOR" guy right now. We could probably just get a guy who is productive and can stay healthy.

    Instead, I think they see what kind of mileage they can get out of the guys they have and maybe a smaller free agent signing until we start to contend. At that point maybe we sign/trade for the big name guy to put us over the top.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I don't think they'll go that route, because they already have a few of those guys &/or guys who could be the next "flips". Wada & Wood are here & flippable in my view. EJax if he pitches better & to the right fit. Arrietta is the only guy here right now that I see as not a flip candidate. Hendricks is looking good, but not a guy that I view as flippable, though they could... Doubront could be flippable. They have that already so I don't see them getting more of the same. I could see them rather getting pitching in the offseason that would upgrade, a TOR candidate, that they would want to keep going forward, not for flipping purposes.

  • I've got my tickets for the TN vs. Huntsville game on Friday night. I'm hoping Johnson gets the start as he pitched Sunday. Don't know if Smokies give 4 days rest between starts or not, however. Does anyone else know?

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    According to the Smokies website, Johnson is pitching on Friday night. Edwards is pitching on Thursday. I've seen Johnson in person a couple of times now. I haven't seen Edwards yet. I'll be going Thursday night. Let me know if anyone is interested in meeting up on Thursday at Smokies Park.

    By the way; things change on the fly with the Smokies. Buddy Bailey doesn't appear to consult with anyone on his starting rotation or his lineup.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    Thanks, AB. I'll be really looking forward to seeing PJ for the first time. Hope he gets the start.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    I don't know who's starting but I will be there in section 105 (rows 10-11) with UTK friends for the Friday game. It would be fun to meet another Chicago Now contact! Ask for Wolfeman!

  • In reply to Tennwolfeman:

    Sounds good. My wife and I will be in 107, row 3, seats 7 & 8. I'll have my Cubs cap and Cubs Hall of Fame T-shirt on. Hope to see you there.

  • Outside of an ace like Lester, I see no reason to grab a sign-and-flip veteran. Theo and Jed have shifted their strategies - we have some strong, young depth now, and frankly there is no room left.

    I think it's funny that Edwin can start to pitch adequately now that his job is on the line. A little bit of that from Travis too. In my opinion, rest is required. As in "sit down for the REST of the year" so we can see what these other guys are made of. And next year, I count a dozen solid starters competing for the four jobs behind Lester. Competition like that breeds success.

    Final note: Schlitter's DL stint removes the last long-hair from the pitching staff. Unfair! Stick it to the man!!!

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    You could be right. Cubs may need just one starter. Between Bosio and the competition the Cubs have created, maybe they can fill out the rest of the staff behind someone like Lester and Arrieta. If they need another top guy, they can address it later. They don't have to do it all at once.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I could see Iowa looking like a MLB squad in a year or two....full of guys with nowhere to play:

    Only 2-3 spots for these SP:
    D Straily
    J Turner
    F Doubront
    E Jokisch
    P Johnson
    CJ Edwards

    And these guys will (hopefully!!) be blocked:

    3B - C Villanueva (blocked by Olt or Bryant or Russell)
    SS - M Hernandez (blocked by Castro or Russell)
    LF - B McKinney (blocked by Bryant or Scwarber)
    CF - J Hanneman (blocked by Almora)
    1B - Dan Vogelbach

    That's a good problem right there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with this. If they want to build long term success there is no need to figure everything out this offseason. They now have several potential starters to fill #3-#5. Let's see what we got. Maybe someone with talent just below Arietta surfaces. Maybe two do. If it happens we'll be positioned very well moving forward. I think this same philosophy can be used for all our position prospects. Let's figure out what we got before making many big moves.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes. If they get a TOR starter during the offseason (preferably via free agency), then I think with Arrieta they have the "core" of a contending-team rotation. Then, if they're in a playoff race and think they need that second (or third) TOR, that's when they can go the trade route and pay through the nose like Oakland did.

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    Does anyone know where Straily's fastball is sitting lately? Prior to the trade, he had shown about 3 mph off of all his pitches. I wonder if the Cubs have made a mechanical adjustment that brought back some of that lost velocity? Anyone know?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    IDK on the actual velocity. But barring injury, when they are still in their prime years (Straily is 25) mechanics is the most likely explanation for loss of velocity.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I don't know. The strikeout numbers are good, so that is encouraging, but he is also a man among boys at this point.

  • i agree they dont need to do the sign and flip guy but when it comes to a pennant race you want as many quality starters as possible. plus njuries are big part of every playoff run. i would hate to have to trade prospects to get a replacement starterr

    i will agree these 1 year deals are probably going to get more expensive but i hope its something this FO still considers this off season

    I forgot Turner cant be sent down, he will be morethan likely the 2015 version of Villanueva with a much larger upside. This team with adding 1 or 2 veteran starters and a legitimate hiting Of looks like a playoff contender to me.

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    I'm sure I missed this somewhere but is Eloy Jimenez hurt? He hasn't played in a while?

  • In reply to Jeff Rebholz:

    Don't know...news travels slow down there. Could be hurt or possibly they removed him to work on a few things.

  • my god the september callup is going to be really pitching-heavy.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    That's okay, with the way the bullpen has been used this year.

    I look at the last two months with a very interested eye, as there are a lot of auditions going on. We can assume the following:

    1. The starting rotation has AT LEAST two spots to fill. While Hendricks (so far) looks to have grabbed one (and Arrieta another), the ineffectiveness of EJax and Wood have opened up an opportunity for that list of guys including Turner/Wada/Straily/Beeler/Jokish/Doubront. My preference is still to go after Lester, as I don't feel as comfortable with a reclamation project/bounce-back candidate/rookie filling 3 spots.

    2. Despite being pretty effective overall, the bullpen has some options. I seem to be one of the few who seems to like Wright. Besides the way he wears his hat, I like Strop. Ramirez is filthy. I like Rondon, but not necessarily as the closer. After that, look at the crew of potential: Vizcaino, Rivero, Rosscup, Parker, Schlitter, Grimm, etc. The bullpen should continue to be an area of strength, but is hardly set.

    3. If we assume that at some point next year all of Alcantara, Soler, Bryant, and Baez are with the big club, the only spots left to fill are outfielders. While Olt and Valbuena may seem to be locks on the infield, keep in mind you've got guys like Valaika and Watkins on the 40-man. It might be time for Watkins to show the Cubs if he's got a future as a utility guy. I hope he gets a call. If we're looking at the outfield, and we know that the Cubs need to make some room on the 40-man, I wouldn't be shocked to see Sczcur come up in September for closer evaluation. It may be too early to consider dropping him, but if Soler arrives soon, it gets a lot more crowded in that outfield (goodbye Lake?).

    2.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Yeah, outside of Soler, there's a bunch of meh bats at Iowa this year on the 40-man that I wouldn't be surprised to see Vitters left off the roster, even though he's in his last option year. I think the brain trust knows what they have in Vitters without needing a call-up. So, what, Soler, Olt, Watkins, Sczcur? No one else leaps to mind.

    I suspect Mgmt will easily surpass a 9 starters trend next spring in Arizona to fill the 5 rotation spots. There are just so many fringy AAA/AAAA starters who are about equal in effectiveness, and with Wood and Jackson around, and potential FA/trade plus reclamation projects, it will be a real battle royale over the 4th-5th spots in the rotation.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Soler and Olt are the only important position players to bring up. They may bring up Watkins, but the only way he makes it to the 25 man roster is as a place-holder.

    Pitching is much more interesting. Arrieta and Hendricks are virtually assured of starting positions, and if Wood is not traded, I believe he will be the third starter. The rest is a crap shoot among those mentioned above, but in addition they could look at making starters out of a number of relievers. Grimm should certainly be stretched out, and ramirez is a no-brainer if they think he is healthy enough. And Rivero is another candidate for starter. The bullpen is already fairly crowded, and they have a stream of potential relievers on the way. Vizcaino, Rivero almost certainly, and Black and a handful of others are behind them.

  • While I don't think they need to get a sign and flip guy, I would like to see them grab 2 starters on the FA market this year. The guy that I don't think gets talked about enough is Kenta Maeda, 26 year old pitcher out of Japan who is expected to be made available this offseason. He's in his prime & could be a mid-rotation guy, which the Cubs seem to lack behind Arrieta and (possibly) Lester. Signing Lester and Maeda would put the Cubs in a really nice spot going forward, with a 1-2-3 of Lester, Arrieta, Maeda and a ton of depth behind that in Jackson/Wood/Hendricks/Jokisch/Turner/Doubront/Straily/Beeler/Wada.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    With you, Tulane. Maeda good. With Lester, well, even with our rookie heavy hitting lineup, could be in contention.

    Regardless, agree with everyone that we don't need a flip candidate this offseason. Already plenty of depth with AAA guys & recent acquisitions. But I'd like to strengthen the top of the rotation.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I am aware of Maeda. I am not that high on him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wasn't suggesting you weren't, just a name I feel like doesn't get brought up as often as it should when people talk about future pitching options.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Saw something on another site saying they thought he would fetch the full $20MM posting fee and could command a 6yr $50-$75MM deal.

    He has to profile for more than a MOR to command that kind of coin. Unless baseball economics have gotten that ridiculous. Maybe they have IDK...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think $20M + 6 years, $50M sounds about right in the current environment if he's really a mid-rotation 27 year old starter. Would probably prefer shaving a year off of that, so 5 years, $42M or so. Gets him until he's 31, let's him hit the market again.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    But does he profile as being any better than what we already have (for a lot cheaper) in Straily, Doubront, Turner, Wood, Hendricks, etc...

    $70MM+ just seems like an awful lot for an unproven MOR commodity.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If getting Maeda gets us inroads to the two top 21 year old Japanese pitchers, then I do it.

    Otherwise, I am with HoosierDaddy on this one until proven otherwise by Maeda's performance or scouting reports.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If his #3 projection is correct, I think he's certainly a tier above those guys.

    We have a gaggle of back end guys, which is nice and all for depth, but we can't fill a rotation with 3 of them. Need to find guys that fit into those 1-3 spots.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    IDK anything about this guy, other than the few scouting reports I've read. But if it's going to be a $70MM gamble, shouldn't we gamble on someone with a higher ceiling? I'd rather they go after Masterson. 4-5yrs of him would have to be cheaper and he can, at least at times, pitch like a #2.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Wow Hoosier, I don't disagree with you too often, but giving Masterson a 4-5 year 70M deal is about the worst thing I could imagine the Cubs doing this offseason. That would be EJax revisited. A guy with great stuff and no refinement to his command is not the kind pitcher I would invest in heading into their 30s because once the stuff slips even a little, the results drop precipitously as the now average stuff is left over the plate to be hammered.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I never said $70MM for Masterson. I said he would be cheaper than the $70MM required for this guy. Prior to this year, Masterson was a solid #2/#3 guy. Theo drafted him and traded him to CLE. he may not like him, so no worries. But he may think Bosio can work some magic on him.

    my point was, $70MM for that guy who profiles as nothing more than a #3, at his ceiling is too much IMO. I'd rather they gamble it elsewhere...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think a lot depends on Lester. If we get him we will probably be willing to sit on that and maybe a short term deal for a 3 next winter. If we don't get him Maeda falls into a large group of Plan B pitchers.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    IDK that it depends on Lester at all.

    If our FO & Scouts feel like he is at best a #3, then he is NOT worth it compared to the plethora of young, cost controlled options we already have in house.

    A #3 is not a "plan B" to missing out on Lester.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agree. Obtain Lester's services and see what the Cubs have with the pitchers they have accumulated. We may have everything we need in house.

  • What has become apparent is the Cubs have become a league leader in pitcher development. When they turn around the fortunes of this many players in just a couple of years it certainly is no coincidence. Bosio, Johnson, and the minor league staffs are certainly in touch with what each pitcher needs to accomplish to be successful.

    When Straily is deemed ready I suspect he will be promoted (probably September) and have results similar to Kyle Hendricks or Wada. That would be nice indeed.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    It would be great if the Cubs earn the reputation of being able to "fix" pitchers. That is so Cardinal-like.

  • In reply to John57:

    I think at this point the Cubs are more in the "fix" environment. If we see a couple of the young arms that have been drafted over the years develop into quality ML arms, then we can say we are into the "development" business as well.

  • This glut of prospective 4-5 starters is nice to have. They may no longer be looking to sell off next deadline, but it's easy to envision a scenario where some of these guys are expendable even if we are competing. Assuming of course that enough of them do well.

  • Looking at that picture of baez,bryant & soler together makes me think how much fun its going to be to watch these players mature and get better. We all know that they arent all going to be good. But to watch this group of young guys over the next 6-8 years will be fun. What a group (Castro,Castillo,Rizzo,Ramirez,Rondon, Arrieta,Hendricks,Wood,Grimm,Turner,Straily,Doubrant,Olt, Alcantera,Baez, Bryant, Soler,Russell,Lopez,Vizcaino,Rivero, Rosscup,Parker, Schlitter,Edwards,Johnson,Black,Beeler, Jokisch, Schwarber, Almora, McKinney,Vogelbach,Bruno,Zagunis Hernandez and even possibly Junior Lake) all these guys have a good chance of being quality big leaguers. Thats almost 40 right there that will be ready for the big leagues now or in the next 2-3 years.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    sorry that picture was on another site that can only hope to be as good as this one !!!!!

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I think I know the picture you are talking about, it was taken by Dylan Heuer, who does great photography out in Iowa.

    It is cool to see all those guys together. Should be reunited again very soon!

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    You can add Stinnett, Zagunis, Sands, Steele, Cease(eventually), Hannemann, Underwood, Blackburn, Paniaguia, Torres, Jimenez, Tseng, Mejia. That is over 40. IT IS GOING TO BE FUN.

  • In reply to John57:

    When I typed Zagunis I meant Zastryney. I saw you already said Zagunis.

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    I remember - and it wasn't all that long ago - when our hopes were pinned on Sczcur, Lake and McNutt.

  • In reply to Tim McCann:

    I don't know if they were hopes, but you're right, it wasn't that long ago when Vitters, Jackson, Sczcur, Lake, Logan Watkins, McNutt and Dillon Maples were the cream of the crop - 2011/2012. Crazy!

  • In reply to Tim McCann:

    Yes I remember when I said 2 years ago our lead off guys should be Szczur and Logan Watkins. Those two guys now, if they are lucky, can maybe be bench players. A lot has changed in 2 years.

  • I still like Watkins,Szczur and Vitters (he doesnt strikeout a great deal and this is the first year he hasnt hit for average, he may have success some where else probably not in chicago) and where is McNutt is he out of baseball?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I like the versatility of Watkins, as he has played just about every position at Iowa that isn't catcher. He's also got some speed, which the Cubs lack. Plus, he's a Kansas kid, and that's where I'm from. All that being said, I'm not sure if he's a piece. Realistically, his chances get pretty slim once you've got the infield of Bryant, Castro, Baez, and Rizzo...especially if the Cubs keep Valbuena around as a veteran presence/utility guy. Olt would seem to be the clear choice to get the other IF spot.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I don't see any scenario in which Vitters (or Brett Jackson) are on the 40 man roster after the rule V draft deadline. There will be too many others that need to be protected, and too many free agents that they want to have room for.

  • The K's got Bjax same as they could hurt Olt,Baez and to some extent Bryant going forward.

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    One thing to keep in mind regarding September call-ups. Although there are several players worthy of a look, the Cubs clubhouse is already cramped and crowded with just 25 men on the roster. Although one could probably rattle off ten or so deserving names, I wouldn't expect more than a small handful of players to be added, simply because there is no space.

  • Do you have to be added to the 40 to be called up in september?
    If you do then I can see Parker, Vizcaino, Beeler, Doubrant, Straily,
    Rusin, Rosscup, Schlitter, Soler, Olt & Watkins getting the call. Probably not Szczur though.

  • Yes, you must be on (or put on) the 40 man roster before you can be called up to the MLB team. Since it is full, someone needs to be bumped off of it before someone not on the roster can be called up.

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