NL scout's take on Cubs camp

Talked with a NL scout that had a mixed take on the Cubs camp thus far.

Let’s take a look at the good and the bad.

The good

The scout told me that Dale Sveum and his coaching staff are turning heads all over the league. Many are impressed with their teaching ability, as well as the way they have connected with the players.

“That’s a hellifed coaching staff, and they were lucky to steal Dave McKay”

I keep thinking back to how much I liked the idea of Mike Maddux early on in the managerial search, but I can’t imagine being as excited as I am about the prospects of Sveum and his staff.

Apparently, many around the league think Theo and the gang got it right again.

The scout says the way they have Starlin Castro responding to working on his defense is the key. “If he gets it, now you have a defense that will make a difference”

“You couple that with Stewart’s glove over a diminished (Aramis) Ramirez, you are going to lower your ERA from last year dramatically”

On the subject of the pitching staff he says the Cubs are looking to be much improved, but he still has some questions.

“They couldn’t go wrong with (Chris) Volstad, but (Travis) Wood has not looked the same from early last year” “(Randy) Wells is the interesting guy in that mix, he pounds the lower portion of the zone the way they want”

He said if the Cubs were to shop Wells, his team would be interested.

Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo have impressed as well as Junior Lake.

“They may have a nice problem soon with Lake. I like his bat, if they can find a way to settle him down, he may come fast”

He says third base may be his only position.

 The bad

This scout was very down on Bryan LaHair.

“I just don’t see it right now, I think they know themselves. I think they would be much better off with Rizzo even today, but they aren’t going to rush him”

The scout says that Rizzo does have to work on some things but has closed the gap a bit from his short stint last season. He really feels like Rizzo isn’t far off from what he eventually will be, a 30 HR, solid glove guy, with a lot of strikeouts.

“The strike outs are going to be there, but they usually are with guys like him”

As far as Brett Jackson is concerned, he says he is clearly the Cubs second best position player in camp, but yet understands the patience the Cubs are trying to practice.

He does say it would be “criminal” if Jackson were in Iowa any longer than May.

So there you have one veteran scout’s quick takes on the Cubs. Some big question marks like Wood and LaHair, and some nice words about our leadership and some key younger players like Castro, Rizzo, BJax, and Lake.

All in all he feels the improvement will be visible on the field even if it doesn’t reflect much in the win column.








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  • Music to my ears! Or in this case my eyes.

  • Interesting stuff, especially on LaHair and Lake. LaHair had begun changing some scouts minds last year but maybe he starts changing them back again the way he's played so far. I'd say he's rusty but he played winter ball. If anything he should be ahead of the other hitters.

    Always love to see good stuff on Lake. I talked to a different NL guy a while back who likes him as well so that gives me some hope. You see some extremely negative things written about him by certain prospect experts, but that view is not the consensus by any means.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LaHair hears footsteps.

  • Nice read Tom, i really am excited to see how the coaching staff is able to unlock some of these players talents. Should be fun to watch, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

  • I have to say I'm really curious to see what happens when Lake, Baez, and Candelario are all big-league ready. The scout is right about the "good problem" lying ahead, but it's a mystery of how it will be solved. I don' think any of the 3 are capable of playing 2nd. 1st will be occupied by Rizzo/Vogelbach. Somebody's going to have to play outfield, which would really complicate things if Jorge Soler is signed, as BJax and Szczuur would be locked into their roles at that point. While I hate to lose any of these guys, somebody is going to have to go. One of them will have to be involved in a deadline trade for some pitching. Then again, maybe I'm completely wrong about this, and the "problem" at hand will never live up to its potential.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I'd like to point out that the trade I'm speaking of wouldn't come about until around 2014

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    The one thing to keep in mind that it's almost certain that one or two of them won't pan out and reach their potential, so it's good to have depth and numbers. Lake is going to get the first crack at it along with possibly Vitters but if they prove inadequate, I can see the Cubs extending Stewart for another 2-3 years until Baez and/or Candelario are ready.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    From what I gather the situation could be a nice issue if Lake, Castro, and Baez all have to be in our infield.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Hypothetically speaking, if you knew for a fact that all of the guys mentioned were going to live up to their potential, would you even bother signing Jorge Soler?

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    Of course! You can never have too much talent. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I believe the Cubs will be able to swing a Halliday-like deal for a #1 stud SP. To do that the Cubs need a lot of good prospects.

  • A long time ago I mentioned that Lake has a very interesting mix of tools, but that he didn't really fit into what this regime is wanting to do. Past that, I was sure that there are teams who are willing to take on a toolsy, low OBP guy and that Lake has a good bit of value on the trade market.

    If Baez pans out, could see Candelario develop into a sort of super sub, at least for the corner infield spots and maybe LF as well.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    He doesn't really fit the Cubs profile. Personally I've always seen Lake as more of a super sub. Scout mentions he only sees him at 3B, but I think he means as a starter. Doesn't have quickness for middle infield or bat for corner OF. I think he's a good enough athlete to play multiple positions for short doses (ala Joe Mather this spring).

    The Cubs have the luxury of waiting things out for the short term and see how some of these guys play this year. They'll get a much clearer picture of Lake this season when he faces AA pitching.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So you don't think Lake has a future for us as a starting player?

  • As I said earlier in the week, Cubs biggest problems seem to be lack of power, RBI's at the infield corners and relief pitching. IF LaHair is a BUST for the 1st 30 games, will the Cubs give him another 30 games??What would be the alternatives.?., and..., I would feel a whole lot better with Samarjja in the bullpen.., would that bother him you think.?., or wouild he see the Cubs dilemma and do it for the TEAM.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    He seems to be open to having to stay in the bullpen if that's what the Cubs think is best for the team, but there's no question he wants to start.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    From the interview Samardzija gave after yesterday's game, it's very obvious that he believes he deserves a chance to be a starter, "and if I don't get that chance I'd like to know the reasons," or something like that. I think he's right. And I think if you move him back to the pen at this point, you could have a very unhappy player on your hands, and maybe he's not as locked in as he was last year.

    On the other hand, if he gets his chance as a starter, and he stinks, then maybe he accepts that he's a reliever and he's more likely to try to be the best reliever he can be.

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    In reply to Taft:

    A starter is far more valuable than a reliever. The number of innings alone speak to that. If Samardzija can pitch, he is far more valuable than a Wells, Coleman, Volstad, Wood, or Maholm.

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    It's great to have a manager and coaching staff that others think highly of.

  • Yeah, usually our managers and coaching staff are among the biggest jokes in Major League Baseball....With Dustdick the Clown at the top of that list and Clueless Quade!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Yes, I'm hearing a lot of praise all around the media as well.

  • It is. McKay and Bosio look like great additions along with Sveum.

  • If LaHair goes bust, that's not a big deal. He's just keeping the base warm for Rizzo. And this is clearly a guy who's slumping, like all players do. LaHair wants so badly to make a big impression he's playing tight. Give him a month or two. So what if it hurts the offense? Worst-case scenario, he's at the Mendoza line in mid-May and so we have to waive him and bring up Rizzo.

  • What does it do to the confidence of a guy like LaHair to hear the negative assessment in this article. Even if he doesn't read it himself (these guys always say they don't read what is written about them), the word will get back to him. He'll say, "I've always had doubters and they don't bother me." But it's got to bother, especially when he knows that Rizzo is breathing down his neck. I hope there are people who have his back and are supporting him. If he could come through, he and Rizzo together could make this a stronger team.

  • In reply to JayPea:

    Sure Jay, I feel bad too. Keep in mind it's just one scout's opinion. Hopefully he is wrong and has a good season, but it can't come as a surprise for a 29 year old that is fighting for a his career. I'm sure he has heard this before. I'm sure he knows how Jed feels about Rizzo, but if he hits they will find a spot either here or some place else for him.

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    Looks like Sveum said Samardzija is a "near lock" for the rotation and Dolis will be in the 'pen. Per Paul Sullivan via Twitter.

  • Interesting to see what happens next, you would think Volstad is #5 for sure. Do they deal Wells? Send T Wood to AAA?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Tom, Sveum was happy with the catching depth, but was bummed to have to demote either Clevinger or Castillo...Soto's gonna get moved if he hits once the season starts ..or does he fit into the long term plans.??? I'd sell HIGH

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I've never been a huge Soto guy, that being said...if they like him I'd be good with him staying. It's a take it or leave it thing, his bat is above average but the catching and game calling..meh.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    This is what I am hoping happens. If Wood can get his stuff together, next year's rotation could be: Garza, Samardzija, Volstad, Wood, Maholm. Let's not forget, Volstad was a top prospect not long ago.

  • It's interesting to hear what the scout had to say--always fun to be in on those conversations--thanks for reporting it.

    As far as LaHair goes, there's a lot of guys--especially power hitters--who look VERY bad when slumping. Andre Dawson in his prime was one of those guys. I think you have to take a scout's opinion of how a guy looks OVER A TWO WEEK PERIOD with a grain of salt. I'm glad Cubs' management is putting their support behind LaHair. I think it still makes sense to give him a few months and see if he ends up having some value.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    No problem, I will always be open with stuff as long as it's kosher to do so. You would have to think he had more than a 2 wk period to judge LaHair, but you make a great point about sluggers and slumps. It never looks pretty when they struggle. There isn't much else they can so in some cases.

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