It’s a bit of a slow day. In fact, it’s been a slow month as rosters begin to get finalized. There are still some names out there and teams may reassess needs late in the spring, so it’s likely it will pick up later. But for now we’ll pick up on some odds and ends…
Around the league…
- Chris Carpenter has been DFA’d by the Red Sox, meaning they have 10 days to trade him before trying to waive him and then hoping he clears so that they can re-sign him. Until then it’s possible that a team will try to acquire him via trade or waiver wire pickup. The Cubs appear to be one of those teams, according to Bruce Levine. I think the Cubs would only take Carpenter back on a a minor league deal. To claim him would mean clearing a roster spot and it’s doubtful to me the Cubs are significantly higher on Carpenter than some other BP arm they’d have to cut to make room. If they do think Carpenter is at least a minor upgade then perhaps a minor deal would be in order. All in all, I think it’s unlikely he returns. If I’m the Cubs and I just gave up as what I thought was fair compensation for Theo Epstein, I’d at least make appearances that I was still interested.
- Speaking of ex-Cubs, Joe Mather has been signed to a minor league deal with the Phillies and will get an invite to spring training.
- A more signficant signing by the Phillies in Cubs fans minds was their deal with OF Delmon Young. The good news for them is that he signed to very incentive laden contract ($750K) with a chance to make well over $3M if he reaches certain goals. The bad news is that the Phillies aren’t just using Young as a RH bat bench/platoon guy, they’ve pretty much declared him their everyday RF, a position he hasn’t really played in 6 years, not to mention he’s a bad defender at any position. A curious move for a team that has a short window to contend, but Young is known as a bad defender with questionable makeup and poor OBP skills. Hes been a replacement level player the past 2 years and has never even held the value of even an average regular. This rules out any chance of the Cubs trading Soriano there for now, though I think that deal has been dead for weeks. Perhaps it could be revisited if Young struggles, the Cubs get off to a poor start, and Soriano is playing well. But for now, expect Soriano to start with the Cubs.
- Another possible Soriano suitor, the Baltimore Orioles are far more interested in Jason Kubel . The D’Backs are said to be looking for young pitching and the Orioles have Chris Tillman, whom they should not trade, in my opinion but perhaps they can interest them with LHP Brian Matusz instead. I think the Cubs would likely ask for the same players but that the Orioles would be more likely to give them up for the younger Kubel. The Orioles also like Rick Porcello, a one-time Cubs target.
Down on the farm….
- Prospect guru John Sickels has a write-up on Cubs LHP Brooks Raley, whom he seems to like a little bit. His report doesn’t say anything we haven’t said here before, that Raley has average stuff and thin margin for error, a guy who relies on command more than pure stuff. That said, you have to like Raley’s athleticism and thus the potential to repeat his delivery and develop that kind of command. It’s looking like he can at least be a LHRP, perhaps a LOOGY, for a while in this league. Sickels thinks he can even have a Scott Diamond-like season. Diamond made 27 starts and went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA for the Twins last year. I think the Cubs would take that.
- There is some debate already as to where Jorge Soler should start next season. The Cubs would like him to start above Kane County (probably Daytona) but he’s going to have to earn it. Soler turns 21 in February and you’d like to see him get a shot at reaching AA by the end of he year along with fellow mega-prospect Javier Baez. Soler is enormously talented but there are some questions with his swing. Keith Law has said he has a deep load which might catch up to him later, but thinks his hands are still fast enough to get through the zone in time. Other scouts have described what they’ve seen as an arm bar, and the two can often go hand-in-hand. What an arm bar means in scouting terms is an early extension of the lead arm, causing a long swing and less torque generated through his mid-section. This coincides a bit with what I saw in instructs where the Cubs were working with Soler to use his lower half better. Obviously Soler will have to show the Cubs he’s ready to make the proper adjustments before he moves up to the higher levels. He can get away with the hitches now, but that could change later. Which brings us again to what a tremendous, pro-active approach this front office has to player development. Diagnose and fix the problem before the player has a chance to ingrain those habits later. You also have to be careful not to tinker too much, as Law noted and as many have seen with Soler’s Kane County HR, Soler still generates tremendous bat speed despite the slight hitch. The balance is tweaking it just enough while not affecting his bat speed and power.