Cubs Notes: Could Cubs deal Bowden? Orioles interested in Feldman? Updates from AZ prospects

My schedule is somewhat reversed from many in that I have less time on the weekends, so let’s catch up on some news and notes over the past couple of days.

Cubs activate Matt Garza, DFA Michael Bowden.  Is a minor deal in the works?

I was at the game yesterday when the Cubs DFA’d right-handed relief pitcher Michael Bowden and so I know this isn’t breaking news.  But it was a curious move to say the least.

Bowden is a middle reliever and there is nothing in his profile that suggests he’ll ever be more than that.  Still, it was surprising.

Many assumed the RP on the chopping block was Shawn Camp, who is off to a slow start and at age 37, he doesn’t factor much in the Cubs future.

It’s hard to tell right off the bat why they preferred to risk losing the 26 year old Bowden.  His peripherals either tell you his performance is legit this year (3.27 FIP) or is due for regression (xFIP of 5.00), depending on what metric you prefer to use.  The xFIP mark, however, is closer to his career numbers.

He has showed a slight dip in velocity, but at this time of the year, that’s not unusual.  Pitchers typically throw about 1-2 mph slower in cold weather.  It’s certainly nothing to be alarmed about at this point.  Bowden’s velocity has only dipped by 0.5 mph.

I certainly don’t see him getting through waivers either.

Perhaps the Cubs just see this as an opportunity to sell high on Bowden and pick up a prospect who has a similar ceiling but affords them more roster flexibility.  While Bowden isn’t much more than  a replacement level player, there should be enough interest where the Cubs may be able to get something in return.

Matt Garza is scheduled to start tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Cubs will have a decision to make in regards to Garza’s future with the team.  The Cubs would like to sign him at a deal that makes sense, but if that isn’t possible he could become trade bait.  If Garza pitches well, he’ll almost certainly be worth the qualifying offer at the end of the year, so the Cubs have the right to ask for something more valuable than that in any return.

Orioles intrested in Scott Feldman?

Jim Bowden speculated on MLB Radio (h/t Michael Caldwell) that the Orioles may have interest in red-hot Cubs starter Scott Feldman.  Feldman may be one of the better pitching values out there on the market today.   He will certainly regress at some point but even advanced metrics suggests he’ll be a solid starter overall this season.  Feldman is only 30 years old and signed for one season, so he offers whatever team signs him the flexibility of extending him, knowing he should still have some productive years left.

Update on Cubs farmhands

Every once in awhile we have to say thanks to AZ Phil for providing us with unique information that we would not be able to get from the main media outlets.  He makes a a thorough record of the Cubs player stats at extended spring training and the instructional league.  Here’s a link to see complete statistics (take stats with a grain of salt here, but they do tell us a little bit about how well they’re playing).  Here are some players of note.


  • Everyone is curious about Albert Almora and he has played 5 games in extended spring training and appears right on schedule for a late May return to action.  I expect to see him by the time I go to my next Kane County game, which will be June 2nd.  If he gets the call early, I’ll definitely have to make an earlier, unscheduled trip, however.
  • Among the most interesting players is  Reggie Golden, who is built like an NFL fullback.  He is hitting with patience and power over the past 10 games (.355/.484/.581) and surprisingly has kept the strikeouts at a minimum (6), while drawing 11 walks in 61 PAs.
  • Carlos Penalver is the next middle infielder to keep an eye on.  He is an athletic player with a good feel for hitting and a solid approach at the plate.  His defense is good enough to keep him at SS for now.
  • Marck Malave was the Cubs biggest bonus baby in the international free agent class of 2011.  He has advanced hitting skills and is still at extended spring training — significant because Malave is Venezuelan and the VSL has already started.  It appears the Cubs have bigger plans in store for the strong, stocky 18 year old 3B.  Perhaps he starts with rookie level AZ or maybe even Boise.  Malave has hit well and shown patience in the last 10 games, hitting .320 with a .469 OBP.  He has 11 walks in 57 PAs.  Curiously, this year’s bonus baby Frandy De LaRosa is also still in extended spring training, though he is struggling.  Perhaps the Cubs are keeping their top signees stateside to keep more of an eye on their progress and development.
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr. is tearing things up, hitting .417/.455/.564 overall and .517 over his last 10 games. Dunston has yet to master Boise so he could get a return ticket there this season.  He’ll likely battle the injured Trey Martin for playing time in CF  in the near future.


  • Duane Underwood has a 1.80 ERA though as you might expect, his control isn’t yet where it needs to be (8 walks in 15 innings), so I expect him to start the season in Boise until he improves that.  He has struck out 13.
  • Erick Leal, the more advanced of the two pitchers the Cubs acquired for Tony Campana, has also pitched well, posting a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 innings.  He has walked 5 and struck out 14.  Leal just turned 18 but I think there’s a good chance he starts in Boise.
  • A sleeper down there could be Michael Hamman, who has a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings with 5 walks and 14 Ks.  Hamman showed flashes of good velocity as an amateur but was inconsistent.  He was also wiry thin when drafted, so perhaps if he fills out he can reach those low to mid 90s with consistency.

Ariball analyzes four players

  • Cubs stat guru Ari Kaplan has a website called Ariball.  It’s a good insight on advanced statistics and in this piece he projects whether 4 players (all non-Cubs) will continue to produce over the course of the season.  The news is good on RHP Matt Harvey and 1B Paul Goldschmidt, but not as optimistic with OF Carlos Gomez and LHP Patrick Corbin.




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  • Im not sorry to see Bowden go, he never has amounted to much in my book. the game he pitched in where him and E Jax combined for 5 wps in an inning against the Giants was fairly typical of how much he stunk when brought into tight situations. Good riddance.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Really? I wouldn't have released him because of that -- especially since Navarro was glacial moving behind the plate that day. I know because we sat right behind him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Love your term "glacial"! It paints a picture better than Piccaso could have, given the subject matter and put a large smile on my face.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Haha! Thanks. Glad you liked it!

  • I have to think there's more to the Michael Bowden DFA. The Cubs have 10 days to put him back on the roster. Is it possible they're just buying time and could re-add him to the 40 man and then maybe DFA/trade Camp or Marmol?

    I just don't get why they'd rather let go of Bowden instead of Camp. At this point, Camp/Marmol are unlikely to bring you a comparable long term player to Bowden (if they'll bring you anything). So why keep those guys instead of keeping Bowden?

    Doesn't make much sense to me.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I don't know. That's what makes it such a curious move. It made me wonder if the Cubs simply gauged more interest in Bowden and figured they could at least get something for him rather than selling low on Camp and Marmol -- both of whom may not bring anything in return right now. If I was a team looking for a bullpen arm, I'd certainly want Bowden over the other two guys at this point.

  • Rather sad to see Bowden go. I realize he's nothing more than a run of the mill middle reliever, but it was cool having someone who grew up a Cubs fan on the team.

    I'm also starting to wonder if the Cubs could get a better haul from KC for Schierholtz than DeJesus. What Scheirholtz lacks in veteran leadership, he makes up for with a better arm and more power. Both would fill the same role (platoon RF), and it doesn't seem unreasonable to have Ryan Sweeney take over in RF, should Scheirholtz be traded.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    That's a good point. The Cubs do have a ready replacement in Sweeney (or they could also deal Sweeney himself). There are some options there. They'll probably take the deal that brings the most in return -- so in some ways, it may be the rest of the league that determines who the Cubs trade.

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    In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    I agree with this in principle, but Moore has been gushing about how much Shields has brought to the a young team with his veteran presence and -- being quite familiar with DDJ's work -- I think he'd be more inclined to take DDJ for his veteran presence and lesser numbers. Either works, and they desperately need help.

    I do wonder if both DDJ and Shierholtz will have new homes at the break, though, since Soriano is looking like he's staying. That would open up playing spots for Jackson and Sweeney. Bogusevic is the hard luck Iowa starter in that scenario.

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    I'm hoping but also doubtful that Almora will get called to Kane County for the series this week in Peoria. I just need to figure out who for KC will be pitching which day.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Suddenly some nice power arms in that Kane rotation -- Johnson, Maples, Rosario (assuming he hasn't lost any since the injury).

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah I might have to try to make it to two games. It looks like Maples might pitch Thursday and Johnson on Friday.

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    In reply to Zachary Myers:

    It really is nice to see Maples pitching regularly. One of the highlights of the young season.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    It is a nice surprise to see him pitching. I saw that Keith Law had a less than favorable opinion of him the other day stating that he's a reliever only if he can even stay healthy, so I'm hoping he's wrong.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    I'm sure that assessment has to do with Maples less than ideal delivery and lack of command. The top 2 pitches are front of the rotation quality.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    I'm jealous! Let us know how they're throwing if you go. I've seen Johnson anywhere from 91-96 this year. Haven't seen Maples yet. Curious on his velo and I'm going to need to sit behind home plate and check out that hammer breaking ball when he comes to Kane.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm excited about the last outings for Underwood, Johnson, & Maples... Love the upside on these kids. I know Johnson & Underwood are Theo pics... but Hendry & Co did us some good with that 2011 haul by spending heavily on later picks like Maples.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Hendry/Wilkens did a real nice job in that draft. That was the start of restocking the system that Theo and Co. have continued. That was their parting gift -- a head start on rebuilding that farm.

  • Great Article John, nice to hear about the extended spring training prospects!

    here is a great article I just came across on Cubs top Prospects...

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Thanks! I know people have been asking about those guys and it's great that AZ Phil keeps track of all that for everyone.

    Sahadev did a nice job summarizing those prospects -- though I have to say I'm not as high on Watkins as he is. I see him as more of a grinder type.

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Thanks for the link. Interesting that he quotes an AL scout saying that Baez's struggles were expected. He also added "Baez's disappointing start isn't something to get riled up about, but how he reacts and adjusts to these issues in the coming months will tell us a lot about his future. "

    I'd say that sums it up pretty well. I think Soler will pass him as #1 prospect by year's end, He's likely to be a mainstay in the MLB line-up on a regular basis sooner. like the author mentioned, Soler's game requires less of a maturity breakthrough. But both should be in the top 15 of all of baseball. Especially if they sniff AA.

    Also love how he mentioned minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson being this FO's most important acquisition. He is our "wave maker".....

  • Why does Boise start in mid-June? Also is Boise considered the lowest level of A, KC mid-level A and Day highest level A?

  • In reply to Buzz:

    I think to accommodate recent draftees. And yes. Boise=a-, KC=A, Daytona=A+

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    John, you know you didn't have to credit me, but thanks anyways. I don't know where Bowden comes up with this stuff. I can see where the Orioles might like Feldman, but I can't see where the Orioles have much to offer the Cubs in exchange.

    The Orioles system is extremely top heavy. Beyond Bundy, whom as Moody mentioned is hurt, and Gausman, they have no one that gets me excited. I simply don't see the matchup here. Whether we're talking about Garza or Feldman, there are other teams I would rather try to make a deal with first.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I know Michael, but I missed the show and wouldn't have known otherwise, so thanks. You guys all help out by noting things since we can't possibly pick up on everything. The contribution all of you make helps makes this blog what it is.

    The Orioles system doesn't excite me all that much either. The pick, as some have mentioned, is intriguing and a nice way for a team to pick up a piece without losing a present player -- and for a team to gain upside without raiding it's farm system.

  • I've seen a lot about the Royals lately, and Texas earlier. Toronto seams to be fading. Are there any other good trade partner candidates out there?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    How about Pittsburgh?

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    In reply to Bilbo161:

    Texas may still yet be a good candidate. The Yankees don't have much in the way of pitching, but they have some bats I'd like to have. Boston is a possibility also. Cleveland has some interesting prospects, and they could use another starter as well. Washington and Pittsburgh could use more arms, and they have pieces the Cubs would like to have as well, and I would say everyone in the NLW, except for Arizona, is a potential match for the Cubs. Arizona probably doesn't need pitching.

  • The Orioles being interested in Feldman is something I find intriguing. The Orioles have the 37th pick and it is trade able. I also think they should make a deal quickly so they don't have to stretch out Valnuneava again.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I agree that 37th pick is interesting. It's their system as a whole that bothers me though. If they'd trade Bundy and that pick for Feldman, that might be worth discussing, and we already know this FO is not beyond taking a flyer on a young pitcher with elbow issues.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think the 37th pich would be a great pick up for Feldman. He has pitched well this season but does a a track record of not doing so hot in the AL. If you could get the pick and another solid prospect it would be great, there is no way in hell tey give up Bundy for Feldman. There is no way the give up Bundy for Garza either.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    KG, I don't disagree, but I'd sure as hell find out if they would. Aside from the pick, who do you like in that system that is realistic.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I think they might give up Bundy for Garza. An elbow injury before he's 21 is a scary thing. Depends how serious they think it is. I guess, in a way, I'd be less likely to want him if they're willing to trade him.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I fully understand this is pie in the sky thinking, but if we could move Feldman for the Orioles pick and Garza/DDJ for Zimmer and the Royals pick, this could be the best month for the rebuild since Theo took over.

  • That would be huge to gain the 37th pick from Baltimore and the 34th pick from Kansas City. Since building through the draft is the way we are going, it makes a lot of sense.

  • Interview with Ian Stewart...

    Not sure how he didn't see riding the bench at AAA as a possibility. I was rooting for him, now I could care less. Though it would be nice if he could get hot, get a few games at the MLB level and be "flipped" for prospects...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Saw the piece in Carrie Muskat's blog. He's pretty much staying for financial reasons.

    I really like Stewart and he seems like a great family guy, but the truth is that when you're a ballplayer sometimes you have to make those sacrifices. It's not easy and while I don't blame him for choosing family first, it makes it harder for him to succeed if baseball isn't his priority. I'm not sure that it is and I get the Cubs (at least Dale Sveum) feels the same way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think that's the case for any profession, not just ballplayers. We all put family first, but they aren't going to hand you (Stewart) anything. You (Stewart) have to go out and earn it by outplaying the others. I got a bit of sense of entitlement from him, which really turned me off.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:


  • Since were at least 2 years away, I would trade almost anybody
    for the prospects and or picks.

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    Thought this would be of general interest. Kevin gets an anonymous mention in this post. (He was actually responding to me, ergo I'm taking all credit.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wo Hoo!

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    How much should be read into the Astros owner accompanying his GM to scout Colin Moran? It seems unlikely that the Cubs could have their pick of the litter.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Moran makes sense for them, given -- and only given -- how they played the game last year. He's unlikely to go Top 5 (and certainly not Top 3) if the Astros don't pick him. So they could sign him for around $4.5 million or so, and use the rest on the second round pick.

    My read of the situation -- which is probably wrong -- is that the owner wants no part of this and wants to take Appel or Gray. Luhnow is trying to convince him that Moran is worth the pick, and showing him in person Moran's upside.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is a logical read of the situation, and I concur.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's pretty much exactly what I emailed Kevin earlier today. Moran is a definite darkhorse because they have enough leverage to get a deal done quickly with him. The same holds true for Frazier and Meadows but word is Astros prefer a college player. At this point, I'm not stunned if they take Moran. He's a safe pick, a better pure hitter than Bryant, who will probably make the majors -- and importantly for them, allows them to spend money later in the draft.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, assuming we're right, here's hoping Luhnow is very convincing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Where it does get interesting is Kohl Stewart. If the Astros do take Colin Moran and Stewart somehow slips out of the top 10, the Astros could walk away from the draft with Moran and Stewart as their 1-2 picks. I think I'd still rather be the Cubs with Mark Appel to complement the rapidly expanding core, but that isn't at all a bad outcome for the Astros.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think the Astros are hoping something like that will happen -- and if not Stewart, then someone like Ryan Boldt may be around

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree John, the Astros will pick a safe college player. I get the feeling that the Astros will not pick either Appel or Gray but go with a safe college hitter like either Moran or Bryant. Either way the Cubs will be very happy to pick between Gray or Appel

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think the Cubs are in a great position. THey'll either get the best pitcher or best hitter in the draft -- and all signs are that they may choose a pitcher, but I'm not writing that in stone just yet.

  • As many of you know i like uderwood. I really want the cubs to take a high upside second round pitcher. Just in case on or two make it. It would most defently help

  • Getting back to Bowden's DFA, this is a situation where fans really depend on the few reporters who have access to the Cubs FO. I hope Kaplan or Levine can get to the bottom of this, because none of the scenarios make much sense to me, and I'm really curious what angle we're playing. Why get rid of a guy who you went through the trouble of acquiring a year ago, especially at a time when even below-average relievers are precious to an erratic Cubs bullpen? It's not like Bowden's blocking some hot-shot reliever we have on the farm.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Tom or I can try and find out from our contacts but really I don't see it as that big a deal. Curious, but I don't think it's outrageous. The only thing that makes sense to me is they have the parameters of a deal in place to get something back. There really isn't much difference at that level of RP, you figure Camp will at least be something closer to what he was last year. Bowden may just be the best combination of replace-ablity and trade value of the bunch.

    Now if they don't deal him for anything, then I'm at a loss.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Obviously you would know better than I John, but is it really that inconceivable that Bowden clears? I don't see why a 26 year old middle reliever with a career 4.47 ERA is appealing to other clubs.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    It is not inconceivable at all and that's the flip side to my thought. Maybe they've gauged very little interest in Bowden (and more in a veteran like Camp) and think he'll sneak through waivers. In reality, every organization has Michael Bowdens, so nobody will go out of their way to pick him up unless they have an immediate need for a guy with some experience, a decent arm, and a guy who may help for more than a year.

  • Just today I read an article wondering if Houston would pick the
    best pick or a safe pick and use the extra money on their 2nd pick.
    Can the Cubs be this luckly?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It's possible the Astros take a very good, but lesser rated player to try and save money for later in the draft.

  • John, I'm curious about Dunston Jr. The handful of ABs and defensive innings I've seen from him were intriguing (of course the name alone makes him intriguing to Cubs fans). What kind of floor/ceiling does he have and do you have major league comps you could offer? Thanks as always for the terrific reporting!

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Thanks. It's tempting to compare Dunston to his father but he is not as fast and doesn't have as strong an arm. He also has better plate discipline and has a chance to be a better hitter overall. I don't know about a comp to a specific player, but good CF defense who hits about .280 with 12-15 HRs and 25 SBs seems reasonable. Some think he can grow into some power once he fills out.

  • Maybe Bowden will enjoy the Miami summers!

  • Trade?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:


  • Is Wayne Gretky's son still in the Cubs organization and, if so, where is he, how is he doing, & what are his current projections?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    He is is in AZ extended spring training and he's doing well. Power not there yet but he's a real tall skinny kid -- at least the last time I saw him last fall, so that may come when he fills out. He's another candidate for Boise.

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