Cubs News and Notes: Cespedes, Soler, Law, Schedule

Pitchers and catchers report in 10 days!  Here are some news and notes to ponder as the 2012 season draws near…

  • Some less than encouraging news coming from the Yoenis Cespedes camp via ESPN.  The Cuban outfielder recently said this, “It would be good [to play here in Miami],” said Cespedes. “There are a lot of Cubans and they would support me a lot. Hopefully I can play for the Marlins.”  That’s not want to hear if you’re a Cubs fan hoping they’ll get Cespedes but keep in mind that it’s still early and it could simply be a negotiating ploy.  It’s worth noting that they seem to have the momentum now and many are starting to believe the Marlins are the favorites.
  • The Marlins are playing it cool, saying they don’t need Cespedes, but would like to have him.  Again, it could be negotiating strategy.  Team president does say that they are negotiating aggressively and an offer could come as soon as today.
  • Jorge Soler, meanwhile, continues to be mired in paperwork in Cuba and has still not achieved residency, much less free agency.  You certainly hope that process speeds up.  In the unlikely event that it drags into July, it would be a disaster for Soler and the Cubs as the new CBA would take effect.  I still think the Cubs are more likely to sign Soler than Cespedes, but they will pursue both.
  • Any musicians out there?  WGN is having a contest for a new Cubs song to be played on air during Cubs broadcasts and promotions.  Here are the rules…To enter, write an original song about the Chicago Cubs and email it as an mp3 file attachment to by February 29, 2012. The lyrics must mention the Cubs and WGN Radio, but may not mention names of individual players, coaches or Cubs management. Songs longer than four minutes will be disqualified. You must also include your name, address, daytime phone number, email address, and age in the email. Entries on behalf of a group must provide the required information for each member of the group.  For more rule detail, please visit the WGN Radio site…
  • Wondering what numbers the Cubs will be wearing this spring?  Carrie Muskat has the lowdown.   The list includes all the Cubs new acquisitions except for Adrian Cardenas.  Matt Szczur is wearing #72 and Josh Vitters is wearing #61.  That will tell you everything you need to know about their chances of making the team this spring.  Here’s a full list of roster players and non-roster invitees.
  • Check out this interview on Cubs draftee, RHP James Pugilese (h/t Michael Caldwell).  Interesting stuff from a draftee/prospects point of view.
  • Keith Law came out with his organizational rankings and put the Cubs at #20.  I’m a little disappointed in the ranking considering how far the Cubs have come, but even with the low ranking, he called the Cubs system “unfairly maligned”.  He also gives a hint as to why they aren’t ranked higher, saying he’s bearish on some of the Cubs more “famous” prospect. I do know that Law thinks of Anthony Rizzo as a top 25 prospect, so I suspect he was talking about Brett Jackson (concerns about his contact rate), Junior Lake, and Matt Szczur.  He has been outspoken about his disdain for Lake’s approach both at the plate and in the field.  He has openly wondered if Lake wouldn’t be better off on the mound.  He once compared Szczur to Juan Pierre, but that was before he developed power, strengthened his arm, and became a much better defensive outfielder.  My guess is he still isn’t all that high on Szczur because he’s still older than most prospects who are as raw as he is.
  • Law says this about the new CBA, “The new collective bargaining agreement, which clamps down on teams’ ability to acquire premium talent in the draft through higher bonuses, was the result of a long-standing effort by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who wanted to force other teams to play by his rules.”.  I once wrote an article on that very same premise.  It’s always nice to hear someone as established and intelligent as Law echo your sentiments.
  • Josh Byrnes, the San Diego GM, had a chat in which he states that Andrew Cashner is throwing well, but doesn’t know yet if his long term role is as a reliever or starter.
  • The Cubs new TV schedule is out!
  • Pecota, the Baseball Prospectus system, predicts the Cubs will have a .460 winning pct. this year.  That’s roughly 75 wins.  Sounds about right but I’m hoping the Cubs overachieve.

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  • fb_avatar

    Did you take note of the book Pugilese is reading? I wonder if that is the new regime's idea or if he is just doing that on his own. Either way, they have to be pleased.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I did. I think he did it on his own. Nice to hear that he's doing some reading in general. I haven't read that book but seems like something I might want to check out, believe those are moneyball guys.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just want to say thanks to including the article on the site and thanks for reading. I have a bunch more interviews and stories coming. Any suggestions as to whom you may want to see a story from?

  • In reply to ChasingTheDream:

    Your welcome. I enjoyed the interview. Matt Szczur might make an interesting story from the more well known prospects. Zeke DeVoss seems like a smart guy, could be interesting to hear what he has to say. Let us know the next time you have a Cubs guy on there!

  • On the song, I'm not giving Tribune Co. a freebie.

    I was thinking along the terms of "When the Cubs Win the World Series" by the Cleaning Ladys, but it mentions Sandberg and Grace being long gone (maybe being on Fox is long gone for Grace), thereby violating "not mentioning any players" rule. I thought it also mentioned Santo, but an mp3 on the web indicates that it doesn't.

  • In reply to jack:

    It's some exposure at least if you're an aspiring musician and get your work on the radio. If I was more inclined musically, I'd probably give it a shot.

    The Cleaning Lady's song would be interesting. I'd be cool with that.

  • Miami is not the only team that really does not need him. Our
    future of good outfield prospects is great. Enough said.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I agree that the Cubs don't need him. That said, you can never have enough young talent. You never know who's going to pan out and who flops. RH power is also a shortage in the system.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    power period is a shortage in the system. i dont think any of the teams going after him minus the orioles, desperately need him but hes an asset and every single team in the majors could use more assets.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    That's a good point. It depends on what you mean by "need". Do the Cubs need Cespedes specifically? Maybe, maybe not. But they do need to acquire as much top end talent as much as possible.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    right which is exactly what i was trying to convey.
    all of the teams chasing him need more assets and top end talent, but the orioles cant get any free agent worth a sack of peanuts to sign with them, so they desperately need him.

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    Cespedes would be nice, but his bust potential as compared to what a team is going to spend is high. I'd much rather have Soler.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    If I had to choose, I'd take Soler and build for the future -- but no way will I be disappointed if they got Cespedes instead.

  • John, Dave Sappelt is wearing 17. A non-roster guy is wearing 20, and another 16. Brett Jackson is wearing a high number, too. I hope there isn't a correlation between uniform number and probability of making the squad.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    I was mostly joking but there's probably a tiny correlation. I don't think Jackson will make the team and that Sappelt has a better shot at the opening day roster. Interesting, though that Tolbert (20) and Mather (16) have such low numbers. They seem to have little shot of making the maybe I'm wrong and there's no correlation at all.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Chris Rusin, by the way, has the highest number at 88.

  • I hope being" with his people" is just talk. Money can solve many
    issues and problems he may have.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Money is usually the biggest factor. I think those things come into play if everything else is equal.

  • Heard the BP report on the way home and thought the winning % was about right as well. I won't be disappointed at all if they win 75-80. I still think they will end up surprising a lot of neysayers.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I hope so. I'm really looking forward to the Cubs just heading in the right direction and for some players in the majors and minors to have breakthrough years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm still holding out for 83 wins and a run at the division. If they can win some of the close ones we just might do it.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I don't think that's unrealistic. Will take some bad years from 3 teams (St.Louis, Cincy, Milwaukee) but even if the Cubs just win 83 I'd take it as a huge step in the right direction.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's all we can ask for and just enjoy them develop

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    Not to change the subject, but it just occurred to me as I was looking at video of Rizzo on, that his stance and swing remind me of someone. Anyone care to guess just to see if we are thinking the same thing? I will give you a hint. The player I am thinking of didn't retire all that long ago, and he never played for the Cubs.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm going to say maybe Jim Thome? Holds the bat up high, has a bit of a lift in his swing, both hands on the bat all the way through.

    Speaking of swings, really like the way Javier Baez whips the bat through the strike zone and doesn't always look like he's swinging hard. I saw him swing for the fences a couple of times at Boise, but the swing I saw in that video was controlled but with incredible bat speed.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm sure this isn't correct, but his swing reminds me of Jason Giambi.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    John, Thome is a good guess, but he isn't who I was thinking of.

    dgedz27, another good guess, but like John, not who I was thinking of.

    Ryan Klesko is who I was actually thinking.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Completely forgot about Klesko...Hopefully he plays a little like Klesko did with the Padres. He had some good years there especially the first 2 or 3.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I would definitely take Ryan Klesko. Nice call on that one. Completely forgot about that guy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Klesko had some good seasons with the Braves before that too. I just couldn't help but think Klesko as I watched the video. Rizzo's stance, the way he holds the bat to the way he moves in the box all remind me of Klesko.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I can see why you thought Thome though, and that may be a better comparison.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Klesko works for me. He had a of talent. Rizzo's a better defender and if he can hit as well as Klesko did at his peak, the Cubs will be in great shape.

  • I think Keith Law is out of his damn mind ranking our system #20. After the draft we had, the trades we made, and the international signings..... No way in hell we are #20, just saying. I'd say between 10-15. If we get Soler and or Cespedes, I would say closer to 10.

  • In reply to dgedz27:

    I'd put the Cubs at 15, but I have to admit I don't know other systems as well as I know the Cubs', which I know like the back of my hand ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It never hurts to be under the radar and underrated. There is no hype to live up to. Just play ball.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    True. And I do think rankings tend to lag behind reality whether it's too high or too low. Looking at the Cubs, though, it looks like they're trending upward.

  • I agree John, 20 is a bit low. I think your right with 15, around 14-15 if you ask me . I think by this time next year , the Cubs will be in the top 10 at least

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I guess I meant to say in the 15 range...didn't do enough research to rank them to an exact number. I'm hoping you're right, they definitely seem to be on the way up. With a lot of good prospects in the lower minors, they seem poised to move up if those guys succeed in higher leagues.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It might be the lack of star quality pitching in the minors that's holding the Cubs back to a low ranking, since pitching is so important. If they could obtain one or two top quality pitchers somehow (perhaps by trading Garza) then maybe they'd jump up in the rankings.

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    It seems like all the Cubs fans are upset with Cespediesdeses comments, but what was he supposed to say when a Miami reporter asks him if he wants to play for Miami?

    His comments in public mean nothing

  • In reply to mblum876:

    That's true. I just saw a video of him walking out from his meeting and they asked him, "What did you think?" and he said, "I was very impressed."...but his body language didn't convey it and like you said, what else is he supposed to say? It's too hard to figure these things out from trying to interpret every word. In the end, he'll probably just take the best offer.

  • Hey John, do you have a link or 2 on the latest Cespedes videos?

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Do you mean the videos his agents put out there?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No I was referring to the videos of him speaking in the airport terminal, I still havent seen them

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    In that case, here's the link that I saw...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You are truely da man! Cheers!

  • In reply to johnnywest333:


  • Two things, first of all you have to take anything that Law says about the Cubs farm system with a grain of salt. He has never been very high on the Cubs, regardless of what they do or who they draft. I am convinced that the the Cubs could have 14 of the top 15 prospects in baseball and he would still say it is an underperforming organization, with limited upside potential.

    Second, what else you would expect Cespedes to say in Miami to the local media? "Gee, I just toured the city and the new facilities, but no amount of money is ever going to convince me that I would want to play here." He is playing the game that all free agents play. He is letting all the suitors know that he can be had for the right amount.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    He seems to like them a bit more lately. I think he used to like them more in the past. We'll see what happens if some of these guys pan out.

  • Hi John,

    Re: the new CBA ... I haven't read a ton about it (it's on the list) but isn't the biggest change just that teams IFA money will be tied to record? Meaning the teams with the worst record will be able to spend the most money in the IFA markets?

    If so, I'm not so sure Soler dragging on into the new CBA is as disastrous for the Cubs as you say. The Cubs' record will still probably be pretty bad next season, and they'll be towards the higher end of the cash allotment. If I'm understanding the changes correctly.


  • In reply to jackweiland:

    Hi Jack,

    That's exactly it on international FAs -- and maybe you're right, the Cubs should have the 6th amount of money to spend and more than all their rivals for Soler. But maybe I'm just being greedy and I want Soler plus whoever the next great IFA is out there in June from the Dominican, Venezuela, or wherever ;)

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