Cubs Notes: Baez, Hendricks, Strop, Baker, CarGo

Some news and notes as the Cubs try to stave off the Braves and not let them clinch their title on their turf.  Hey, we’re rooting for small victories these days…

  • Megan Montemurro writes that Javier Baez is willing to switch positions and farm director Brandon Hyde believes it’s not just talk.  “I do believe it’s true; I think he wants to be in the big leagues,” Hyde said. “Javy’s going to do whatever it takes to play in the major leagues. He’s super confident guy. I think he thinks he can play shortstop but I think he thinks he could play center field [or] second base. He just wants to be here and help contribute.”  Those days where some questioned his makeup — a concern that could have dropped him out of the top 10 at draft time had the Cubs not done their homework — seem a thing of the distant past now.  Kudos to the old Cubs regime, who get credit for digging a little deeper.  The new regime, however, gets plenty of credit for doing much of the actual development.  Hyde believes Baez is just scratching the surface and has some improving to do, but has the intelligence and instincts to do it and once he does, “he’s going to hit a lot of home runs in the big leagues.”
  • Montemurro also has some good stuff on Cubs minor league pitcher of the year Kyle Hendricks.  He talked with the Cubs on what he needs to improve on, which seems impossible after a 13-4, 2.00 ERA season in which he walked less than 2 batters per 9 innings.  However, the club wants him to improve vs. LH hitters, who hit .313 against him at AAA Iowa, which seems odd because his best pitch is his change-up, an offering that is usually effective against opposite handed hitters.
  • One of the reasons to keep Kevin Gregg may be the mentor role he has played with Pedro Strop, which Strop talks about here.  Gregg has influenced Strop since they were teammates with the Orioles, helping him develop a routine and giving him advice on how to approach hitters.
  • Scott Baker was pleased with his 3 outing audition with the Cubs and hopes to return next year, “I think it’s a wonderful place to play,” Baker said. “I kind of feel like with these last few starts, there’s less of a question mark about me next year than there was going into this year … Hopefully, whether it’s the Cubs or other teams, [they] feel the same way.”
  • Ken Rosenthal says that the Rockies would prefer not to trade Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, but of the two they are more likely to trade CarGo.  Rosenthal mentions Texas as the team to watch because they’d have young pitching to offer as well as middle infielder Jurickson Profar.  The Rockies seem to prefer a versatile middle infielder. My thought is if Texas is going to trade Profar, they’re going to beat the Cubs best offer.  It also gives some insight as to what kind of prospect the Rockies would ask for.  Obviously the Cubs would not part with Baez, but Arismendy Alcantara would make some sense if they’re looking for a versatile middle of the infield player.   When it comes to trading players, you can’t always take what teams say at face value.  When teams say they’d prefer not to trade a player, it can also be a way of creating some leverage — or at least an attempt not to lose any leverage.


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  • John, are the Cubs hoping that Baez has another hot spring and if so would they start the year with him as our 2nd baseman?

  • In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    He won't start the year there, in my opinion. But midseason is a possibility. Even if he gets hot, they feel he has things to work on.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Javy had arguably the best ST of all position players last year. Yet, he still started the year in Daytona. I would expect, given his skill set & drive, he would be one of, if not the best in ST again. That will cause some to scream for them to break with him on the MLB squad. But I love this FO's disciplined approach. Javier simply is not a finished product yet. Even though he may be very good, he has the chance to be great. I like that they will keep him in the MiLB to work out the kinks in his game and force him, to force his way onto the MLB roster.

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    In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    Lee, I agree with John. I think even if he bats .500 and plays flawless defense in the spring, he'll still start the year in AAA, if for no other reason than to delay his service time clock.

  • Great stuff as always, John. I get the feeling that the Cubs will probably be more active in the trade market than in free agency this off-season. If they don't land Cargo, what other names might they target?

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Thanks. I think that's something I need to explore and use for a future article. I'd look for OF'ers, OBP guys, and lefties.

  • Matt Kemp.

  • That would be nice, think we could get him for Barney, Brett Jackson, and McNutt?

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    In reply to supercapo:

    I think it would be a mistake to think Brett Jackson has any sort of trade value at this point. It's too bad what's happened to his career.

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    In reply to Cubs 27:

    27, I think he was being facetious. Jackson, barney and McNutt probably wouldn't even get Kemp's baseball card in return, let alone the real thing. I'm pretty sure supercapo knows that.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Have to throw in Rock Shoulders and Darnell McDonald.

  • Don't forget Valbuena and Bogusevic and Murphy and the plumbers daughter as well.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Only if the Dodgers eat some money,tongue firmly implanted in cheek. With over 120 M on his contract no way does he fit the rebuilding Cubs.

    The Dodgers would definitely get a chuckle or two if offered that pkg.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I think it will take a bit more than that ;)

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    In reply to supercapo:

    You're being sarcastic? or at least Ironic?


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    In reply to Giffmo:

    The Dodgers were low balling the Cubs in the Dempster talks. It would serve them right.

  • I meant to comment on this in the last CarGo thread: we need to be realistic about his cost. He's not a spare minor-league parts type package. He'd require that we give up something of real vlaue(I.e one of the big 4). Also, for anyone groaning about his salary, he's a bargain at that price.

    The Dodgers situation bears watching. We may be forced to acquire an OFer via trade b/c it's gonna require an overpay to get an FA here right now-given our location on competitiveness curve. Grandy might be an exception, due to local ties.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I agree you aren't going to get Cargo for spare parts. But I don't see the Cubs giving up one of the big 4 so I don't see this trade being very likely to happen. And if $63,500,000.00 for four years is a bargain, what do you consider fair compensation?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I'd say that at the very least Baez, Almora, and Bryant are off the table and Soler probably will be as well. If the cost for CarGo and his salary is a top 30 prospect, I think you have to consider another direction.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    How much do Theo/Jed value power,speed and defense ? Granderson would need at least a 2-3 year contract with @least 15 M per.Don't think Granderson is an option and his K rate doesn't fit the Cub Way.

  • Cargo is a top talent and I see no problems with him hitting just as well in Chicago as Coors. I like Arrieta and think he will be a solid starting option next year but if it takes him, Alcantara and even Vogelbach I don't see how the cubs can't be very interested. Vogelbach and Alcantara might be stuck behind people anyways by 2015 with Baez at second, castro at short, Bryant/olt at third, Rizzo at first

  • In reply to Cubswin2015:

    Yes, I agree. That would be something you really have to consider.

  • In reply to Cubswin2015:

    "Cargo is a top talent and I see no problems with him hitting just as well in Chicago as Coors."

    While he does get on base, his IsoD is basically league average (especially away from Coors). Plus, his K/BB ratio away from Coors has been worse than at home every year. In 2011, his K/BB ratio at Coors was 1.65, away 3.0. In 2012, Coors 1.73, away 2.44. This year, Coors 2.3, away 3.8. He's likely seeing a lot more breaking balls away from home because they actually bend at lower altitudes and not doing very well at recognizing them.

    Matt Holliday's success since leaving the Rockies has been used as an example as to why CarGo's away splits aren't all that meaningful. First off, let's recognize that Holliday is a better hitter than CarGo. Unlike Gonzalez, Matt Holliday's K/BB ratios while with Colorado were basically the same home or away. Also Holliday's away numbers weren't nearly as bad as CarGo's. Road OPS's for Holliday's last three seasons in Colorado: .819, .860, .892. Improving every year. For CarGo over his last four years: .775, .757, .706, and then .987 this year in 210 road PA. Notice, they were all declining until this injury-shortened season. Is his 2013 season an outlier or a sign of things to come?

    For what it's worth, after leaving Coors, Holliday only had two seasons in which his OPS was noticeably better at home (2013 & 2009) than on the road while every year in Colorado there was a huge difference. Also, his OPS in his last 3 seasons in Coors (.973, 1.012, .947) were never as good after leaving Colorado (.902, .922, .912, .877, .861). In fact, if you follow the progression of Holliday's road OPS while a Rockie and his overall OPS after leaving, they basically follow the expected curve relative to his age (.819, .860, .892,.902, .922, .912, .877, .861).

    All of this leads to two likely conclusions: 1) There is clearly a Coors Field effect, and 2) Road splits away from Coors, at least in Holliday's case, are decent predictors.

    Certainly a good case can be made for acquiring him at the right price, but whether the Rockies are willing to meet that price is another matter. They have plenty of reasons to be a motivated seller. He's about to get more expensive. He may have a lingering finger injury and fingers wrap around bats which are used to try to hit baseballs. And over the last 3 Septembers combined, he's had a total of 111 plate appearances. These all seem like good reasons to trade a guy. Are there enough good reasons to acquire him?

    I'm a no go on CarGo. Injuries, contract, no more Coors Field, not the greatest timing in the rebuild, and injuries.

  • If CarGo isn't traded in the offseason, why not wait and see if, maybe Starlin Castro can pick it up, and trade him for CarGo? Just a pie in the sky thought.

  • In reply to pkm613:

    Because Colorado has Tulo.

  • I still think we should target Nelson Cruz or Corey Hart type as a stop gap vs giving up one of our top 5 prospects. Nothing against CarGo, but with the $$$ involved, it'd be hard to call him a value if he have to give up much to get him.

    I'd rather have the stop gap until some of the youngsters make their way up.

  • I think trading Castro, a 23 year old MLB talent at a premium position for a soon to be 30 year old injury prone LF'er is not good value. The Cubs would ask the Rockies to take on bigger risk, which means prospects or unproven guys like Arrieta.

  • Well said.

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    I don't see giving up that much talent AND have to pay his escalating salary. The Cubs may be better off offering less talent to take one of their OFers.

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    "Their" is LA's overcrowded OF situation, sorry.

  • Since the farm system has the best talent in years does Theo have
    to examine his long term plan? I think its best to keep away from
    over 29 year old players for any our top prospects and long
    term high price contracts. At the end of 2014 is the time to try
    going after these veteran players. Also with the good players we
    draft in 2014 our farm system will be even better and have more
    to trade only for value.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think he is getting close to the point where he needs to create windows to win and that will mean acquiring established stars. Not all the prospects will work out, so the Cubs need to get themselves some in prime veterans at some point.

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    If Baez is our 2B moving forward- (And I like that idea.)
    I'm okay with dealing Arrieta and Alcantara for Carlos Gonzales.
    I want to hang onto Vogelbach. His value will get higher once he succeeds at the AA level. He may very well be better than Rizzo.

    I really like Alcantara. I don't want to trade him. But, if we can get CarGo, deal from a middle-infield surplus and acquire a potential superstar in a major market- I'd do it.

  • Unless, of course, Bryant moves to the outfield and Baez moves to third. That leaves plenty of room for Alcantara.

  • CarGo's performance away from Coors is far from superstar or even potential superstar level.

  • If the Cubs did get CarGo I think Soler will have to be moved.

  • So my question to all of you is, if the Cubs have some financial constraints, then how do Cargo and Tanaka fit in? Are you dreaming that you can have both or not? And if you had to choose one or the other, which would you choose for the same purse?

    * It looks like Cargo would average about $16million over the next 4 years, PLUS prospects!
    * With this price you get questionable results away from Coors.
    * You get a guy at 31 at the end of the deal. He would be 30-31 at the time of probable contention. Not too bad!
    * You get a LH bat which the Cubs are short of, especially if Jackson doesn't pan out.

    24 year old phenom with no. 1 potential, which the Cubs do not have a lot of either. No prospects, only money. 26-27 when the Cubs are ready to contend.

    Is it easier to buy a No. 1 or No. 2 starter or an 80 RBI RF'er?

  • The plan of the FO has been to build minor league depth. Think about it! Two years ago Brett Jackson was our "savior" in waiting. Today, as I have mentioned to my dad many times, Felix Pie and Corey Paterson were mentioned by the Pittsburg radio commentators as two guys rushed to the big leagues, who never fulfilled their potential! Yes indeed! And Corey was where Jurikson Profar was last year, the NO.1 prospect in baseball. I think some of you anxious nellies need to get a little patience and understand that 2-3 more years is reasonable to achieve such a sustainable goal. And some may not pan out, but numbers are the insurance. If you start trading 5 for 1 and 4 for 1, now you have no minor leagues with 9 top prospects gone, and you have 2 starters on a roster of 25, just as the Cubs so often have had in the past! All you have to do is look at who walked into the sunset today? Mariano! There was a core of minor leaguers that gained NY all those championships, boosted by other minor leaguers and some free agent pieces. They didn't choose the pieces first!

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    Felix Pie had almost 2,700 PA in the minors before he joined the Cubs in 2008. He was not rushed at all, that's 5 full seasons of PA before he got the call up. Those guys on Pittsburgh radio are idiots and that's why they broadcast on a radio station as powerfull as the one my high school operated.

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