Cubs Game Notes and Preview: Hayden Simpson released

Last exhibition of the season looks very much like a regular season lineup, except for the DH, of course.  But hey, maybe one day the Cubs will be able to stick Dan Vogelbach in that spot.  The Cubs take on the Houston Astros today at 1 pm CT.

News and Notes

  • It looks like we can officially call Hayden Simpson a “bust”.  It’s a rare first round whiff for Tim Wilken in terms of getting top draftees to the majors.  It could still happen, but it’s unlikely and it appears it will not happen with the Cubs.  The Cubs saw a little of Roy Oswalt when they drafted Simpson and when you see his build, delivery and early reports of a plus fastball and breaking stuff, it’s not hard to see why.  Unfortunately, Simpson’s bout with mono not only deprived him of his plus velocity, but also of much needed development time.
  • A couple of other familiar names were also released. The Cubs cut ties with Michael Brenly and Dontrelle Willis.  There were others and when we get the names we can pass them on.  I don’t expect any to be bigger than the names mentioned, however.
  • Interested in watching fast-rising pitcher Jonathan Gray in action?  You can catch a video of his complete game, 12 strikeout performance vs. Kansas here.
  • Speaking of the draft, Austin Meadows remains red-hot and has now raised his season average to .600.  In 15 games he has 8 doubles, 4 HRs, 13 SBs, and 8 walks.
  • The Cubs still have an open roster spot and continue to scour the waiver for talent.  One interesting name is Tyler Greene, a RH hitting infielder who can play all infield positions, though he doesn’t play any of them well.  He does do two things that may interest the Cubs, however.  He will grind out ABs and he also has some pop in his bat.  The 29 year old was just let go by the Houston Astros — so that in itself gives you reason to be wary.  The Astros aren’t exactly loaded with MLB talent.  If the Cubs don’t make any moves than Steve Clevenger and Hisanori Takahashi will get the last two spots.  Keeping Takahashi would require that the Cubs use that last 40 man roster spot.

Today’s Lineup

  1. David DeJesus, CF
  2. Starlin Castro, SS
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  5. Nate Schierholtz, DH
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  8. Darwin Barney, 2B
  9. Scott Hairston, RF

SP: Travis Wood

Filed under: Uncategorized


Leave a comment
  • Love the game notes and previews John. I'm kind of surprised about Brenly. He was a NRI this spring and the Cubs don't really have many quality catching prospects at the upper levels. Did you hear any word as to why?

  • In reply to Zippy2212:

    It turns out it was a really nice thing to do, in my opinion, if they were planning on releasing him the whole time. The reason being is it gave other teams a good look at him while demonstrating they trust him enough to handle their pitchers. Maybe he hooks on somewhere else because of that.

    The reason Brenly was released is likely big doubts as to whether he can provide anything on offense.

  • fb_avatar

    Another Hendry pick that didn't live up to the hype.

  • I'm not sure if I'm confusing him with Cashner, but I seem to remember Simpson being billed as one of those high-floor guys. The idea was that he might not be a frontline starter, but at the very least he'd be a good-to-elite relief pitcher. Just goes to show that even the high-floor prospects sometimes have a basement.

    I feel bad for Simpson. It's no secret that the Cubs are desperate to develop quality depth at pitcher, and so if Simpson wasn't worth keeping around, other teams may be wary of bringing him aboard.

  • In reply to Taft:

    He was thought to have a high floor before he fell ill and had a FB that reached into the mid-90s. He had a pretty complete repertoire and the athleticism to pitch with good command. Once you drop down to 87-88, that floor drops too. You have to have precision command and Simpson never developed that. Never came close.

  • I was looking for a site with more minor league especially about the Cubs and from what I've seen and read this is a great and informative site for us Cub fans. Thus, since the Cubs are rebuilding I am really looking forward to the draft and who they will take with the first pick.

    After seeing the video of Gray's performance vrs. Kansas, it would be hard for me to choose Appel over him. I mean 100 fast ball, nasty slider and that down and away change to the left handers. The Sooner commentators said last year Gray had low 80's offspeed pitches. Now they are upper 80's. I think John you mentioned that Appel is more conditioned that Gray, well after seeing this video you can teach and educate fitness, but you can't teach 100 mph.

    Seems to me like he would be a great start to a yound pitching staff. How about a Appel video to compare them? Thanks for all the great info and articles.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    i am totally convinced this will be the Cubs pick. People who would choose Appel over Gray havnt seen Gray. This kid has Dylan Bundy type stuff and is a bulldog. No way he gets past the top 5 in draft . I pray the Stros dont take Him .

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Thanks Buzz. I would say the minor leagues and the draft are two of our biggest specialties.

    If I can find an Appel video, I'll link it. Keep in mind that he can hit 97 from beginning to end, so we're talking 3 miles an hour difference. Appel has that plus slider as well and a more advanced change/command.

    The fitness aspect is important because some guys just have to work harder to maintain that. Gray worked hard to get fit this year, but is this something he'll need to do year after year. We don't know if he will. It's a question mark that likely won't be answered until he's in the organization for a couple of years. That makes it more of a risk than a guy you already know has been fit for his entire high school and collegiate career.

  • Hayden, we hardly knew ye.

    John, thanks for the info!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    You're welcome!

  • Another bad draft pick. Don't know if they were badly scouted
    or developed. Hopefully the new guys will not make these
    types of mistakes.

  • Hey everybody, this is my first post as I have been following this site for a little under year now. I have to echo the comments of many other and show my appreciation for all the work John, Tom, Felzz, and Kevin (if I left anyone out, you have my sincerest apologies) do to help keep me informed on my rebuilding Cubbies.

    This being my first post, I wanted to make it a special one. And I saw a small piece on MLBTR that mentioned my first prospect love, Cory Patterson. It appears that the Mets have released him. I really haven't followed him in years so I have no idea where his game is at these days, though being released by the Mets after hitting .251 in Tripple-A certainly says something. Anyone here think the cubs could pick him up as a lottery ticket with the low payoff of a 5th outfielder who could possibly play centerfield? I'm sort of joking here but also curios to hear what people think about this.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ChuckR:

    Cory Patterson? Move along.... nothing to see here..... lol

  • In reply to ChuckR:

    Thanks Chuck!

    Patterson looked like the real deal for that first year or two. I think, though, that he was able to get away with stuff because of great natural ability. Now that he's older, he's likely lost some of those physical gifts but to me hasn't made up those gaps with learning the game better (i.e. improving his approach).

    I'd pass on Patterson.

  • fb_avatar

    No doubt that Gray is a top notch pitcher with a power arm. Appel is also a power arm and finished up his shut out performance with the radar gun hitting 97. But between the two pitchers Appel is a bit more polished and closer to major league ready. He is the safer pick amongst the two.

    But with that said. either pitcher would be a big addition to the Cubs!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    No way Appel is safer having the years and pitchcounts at Stanford, No way. Appel has polish, Gray has nasty and is a finisher .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I think the pitch count thing is exaggerated. He had a few games but he hasn't shown any affects. He's not missed any time and he's still sustaining 97 until the end of the game. This year his pitch counts have been around 110 and he's had less innings than Gray.

  • Bad news for the Ex-Cub-Tyler-Colvin-Is-Now-A-Lock-For-The-Hall-Of-Fame cadre: The Rockies sent Colvin down to AAA.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I'd still rather have him on my roster than Ian Stewart. I simply think he was traded because 1) he had 1 bad year, for a guy who had 2 bad years, and 2) he was a Hendry guy, or at least a BT ( before theo) guy and therefore by definition crap.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I can see why you might feel that way but I believe earlier this year that Theo mentioned that he may have been too hasty in trading Colvin as quickly as he did. That would leave me to believe that it wasn't personal or a Hendry-house-cleaning move.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    that was reported me...........(see last story)...........

    maybe you were taking sky diving lessons and missed it.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Wow. Didn't expect that at all.

  • Long time Cub fans have seen many fair to bad prospects
    get drafted 1st or 2nd and never end up playing any type of
    role in the teams future. I know Theo/Jeb are going to turn
    the system around.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agree. I think the ship is headed in the right direction. Got to get this pick right though. I'm interested in seeing how the list of possibilities changes over the course of the HS and college seasons.

  • Hey John... Brett Wallach, Casey Harman and Joseph Zeller.

  • In reply to Caps:

    And by that I meant to say they were released lol.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Caps:

    This should go to show that you never trust the "insider" information of a former player (Maddox). In the Lilly trade it was said at the time that Maddox had Hendry's ear about Wallach and DeWitt.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    Yep, I remember that... Which reminds me of the time Michael Jordan drafted Kwame Brown... That officially puts an end to the Lilly return, which can be considered a bad one... Neither DeWitt, Smit or Wallach are with the team, the Dodgers still have Lilly and even though he's injured, he's 24-19 with a 3.74 era for the Dodgers in 53 starts... Which is more than 2 minor leaguers that didn't make it and a utility IF with poor defense and poor hitting.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Thanks Caps. As I figured, no big names. Cubs gave Harman and Zeller really long looks last year so that was fair. Wallach just hasn't been able to stay healthy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would have liked to seen the Cubs give even a longer look at Zeller than they did. He was working on the knuckleball, and I thought Theo might see a little Tim Wakefield in him: an innings eater that could pitch in multiple roles.
    C'est la vie.

  • John: As the author of several books about the Cubs, and the old Cub Fans Calendar, I think you are the best commentator on the current Cubs anywhere on the web. Thank you for your insights.

  • I saw Tyler Greens play for the Cardinals minor league team some years ago......his girlfriend use to sit next to me during the games.....she was a Miami Heat dancer......Greene kept eying me all the time with his girlfriend when he was at shortstop......he was not friendly at all to me........I really don't know why..............she was a nice lady......a cute......i wonder if he married her?????

    Willis gone.......Bob's son gone........Simpson gone........D'oh......D'oh.....D'oh.......

  • fb_avatar

    My all-time favorite bad draft was 2002, which I believe was Hendry's first. Four picks in the first round, two in the second. Altogether, six picks in the first 62 selections. Brownlie (21st), Hagerty (32nd), Blasko (36th), Clanton (38th), Dopirak (56th, and only position player selected) and Jones (62nd)...none of them even sniffed the majors. Worse yet, the players skipped included: Matt Cain (25th), Votto (44th...skipped FOUR times), Lester (57th), McCann (64th), Granderson (80th), Josh Johnson (113th)...and a slew of other guys who at least made it to the bigs. A failure rate of this proportion is almost unheard of.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ray A:

    Hendry was a nice guy though.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    Those guys were all highly-regarded at the time and many experts thought the Cubs cleaned up that draft. Goes to show that draftng high ceiling/high risk arms can be a real crapshoot. Especially when you don't have the right development staff in place.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ray A:

    For me the all-time awful draft was 1989. Taking Earl Cunningham and bragging about how lucky you were to get him -- when in fact every other team in baseball had figured out his attitude stunk. That required passing over guys like Charles Johnson, Chuck Knoblauch, and Mo Vaughn. Add to that by taking "Third Baseman of the Future" Gary Scott in the second round, and then promote him feverishly, despite his not deserving it, because you're so determined to prove that the draft wasn't a disaster.

  • The lone time I saw him pitch, I thought Simpson had the ceiling of a middle reliever. Just wasn't too impressive, but was probably better than most of the 2011 Peoria Chiefs. Save for rehab stints by Zambrano, Wells, and Guzman, though, he probably was, which is truly indicative of how bad the farm system got under Hendry.

    Zeller, though, if that's true, makes me sad. I think most people have a soft spot for knuckleballers, especially young ones, given how long it takes to master that pitch.

  • Off topic: I just thought of a possible solution for the rooftop owners(RTO) saga. Here it is. What I read was the RTOs collectively make 24 Mil/year and give the Cubs 4 Mil/year to not do anything to obstruct their view. They keep 20 Mil a year. What if the RTOs let the Cubs do exactly what the Cubs want to do and the Cubs give them 10 Mil/year instead of receiving 4 Mil/year. This is done for the remaining years of the 11 year contract that the view is obstructed.

    I read somewhere the Cubs can make an additional 75 Mil a year if they get to do what they want to do. Cubs now give 10 of that 75 Mil to RTOs. The RTOs still could sell tickets but would most likely make less than 24 Mil/year they currently make (20 Mil/year after giving Cubs 4 Mil/year). Let's say the RTOs make half of what they made with nonobstructed views so that is 12 Mil/year. This is a total guess, could be more or less, who knows. Add the 10 Mil the Cubs pay them and they come out with 22 Mil/year when currently they only get to keep 20 Mil.

    So the Cubs come out 65 Mil a year ahead and the RTOs come out 2 Mil/year ahead. They both win and go home happy. Then the Cubs win the WS and Cubs Den people are happy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    The RTO's already give the Cubs a LOT of money as profit-sharing. More than 4 a year I believe.

    Not to mention, I have no idea what they make collectively and cumulatively from 82 Cubs games a year, but without those games their profits take a decent nosedive from current levels. 10M might not cover the loss of business. As in, the owners probably gain business on off days from customers satisfied with their game-day experience. There's a domino effect that could boomerand with no view at all.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    The article John posted from the RTOs a couple days ago estimated the money given to the Cubs is 70 Mil over the 20 year contract. That averages out to 3.5 Mil per year. That is the RTOs own data. I guess my saying 4 Mil a year is a little high. The amount of money given to the Cubs is supposed to be 17% of RTOs combined revenue for the 82 games. Using the 3.5 Mil number that makes the RTOs combined income between 20 and 21 Mil/year. My guess for their combined income is a little high too. I used 24 Mil.

    The 10 Mil the Cubs give them may more than cover their losses. I am sure whatever changes the Cubs propose will obstruct their view some more than their current partially obstructed view but won't completely block their view. They will still be able to sell tickets. I think people are more there for the beer and brats. They don't have to see the game. They just want to be close. And with the Cubs performance improving and excitment growing, their attendance may not suffer at all. Who knows?

  • Lets hope that Theo and Co. have the right staff though out the
    system to teach the new "Cubs way" and develop the talent to
    it's level. No more drafting top prospects without everyone
    involved giving their input.

  • 5 stitches for barney. Out for opening day and maybe DL.

  • In reply to GZUS:

    Kets hope this is not a sign of things to come

  • In reply to GZUS:

    Ouch. The Cubs are already thin with infielders.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wonder who's gonna be the everyday 2B in the meantime... Maybe Lillibridge... From the 40 man roster, the Cubs could call up Vitters to play 3B and Valbuena at 2B, but Vitters needs work defensively and didn't get to play much in Spring... The Cubs could bring up Logan Watkins, but he hasn't even played in AAA yet, so that wouldn't be the best move.

    So, if Barney goes to the DL it's going to be interesting, I'm sure the Cubs don't wanna DFA a prospect to put Alberto Gonzalez in, unless they go with a guy on the 40 man roster as the last bullpen guy and cut Takahashi.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Lillibridge is going to start Opening Day. Maybe they scour that waiver wire a bit more.

  • fb_avatar

    what happened

  • In reply to Dave Boer:

    Hit his knee against the wall chasing a foul ball.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sounds like it was to similar type of play to Bill Mueller's patella fracture in St Louis. Sliding knee first into concrete. Ouch.

  • fb_avatar

    Great, hope it doesn't turn into what happened to that third baseman whose name I can't remember. (getting young is fun)

  • In reply to Dave Boer:

    You're thinking of Bill Mueller, back in 2001-2002.

  • What about going with Clevenger at 3rd and Valbuena at 2nd?

    Is Clevenger too much of a liability on defense?

  • In reply to MrBillySir:

    I don't think they want to give him a lot of exposure there, but I can see him getting a few starts, maybe even at 2B.

  • fb_avatar

    Chone Figgins, anyone?

  • Pass.

  • fb_avatar

    At this point, bringing up Watkins/Lake from AAA is probably more advantageous.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Giffmo:

    Just thought I'd throw up, I mean out, his name.

  • fb_avatar

    Another reason to pick up a recently tossed infielder, maybe? David Adams?

Leave a comment