Cubs Notes: Reports on Vogelbach, Soler; Barney, Rizzo finalists for Gold Glove

If you’re like me, you’re a little manager search weary, so I’m going to turn the focus today back to the players.

Scouts thoughts on Dan Vogelbach

Vogelbach gets criticism in some circles but I was able to get some scouting opinion on Vogelbach and it was pretty good stuff.

“Impact bat and a future middle of the lineup bat.  Better glove than thought but still below average”

One scout said he’d love to have him in the organization and feels he’s capable of hitting 40 HRs with a batting average around .290 in his peak.

For what it’s worth, I spoke earlier to some evaluators who weren’t too concerned with his defense.  They just say he needs to be adequate and the bat will carry him.  “He’s going to get paid to hit”, was what one scout told me.

AZ Fall Recap

  • Jorge Soler came back from his residency issues and went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI.  So much for small sample size and “slow” starts.  Soler is now hitting a solid .282 in the Fall League despite inconsistent playing time over the past 2 years.  The guy just has a lot of talent.  A reader who attended the game said that Soler showed showed patience and that all 3 hits were line drives.
  • Dallas Beeler started and had a solid outing, going 4 innings and allowing 2 runs but walking none and striking out 2.  Both runs scored on a rare HR allowed by the sinker ball specialist.  Other than that it was a very good outing.  33 of 48 pitchers were strikes and he generated 5 ground ball outs.
  • Matt Loosen relieved Beeler and also allowed a HR but otherwise was very good.  He walked no batters, which is a huge key for him, and struck out 3 in 2 innings.
  • Lendy Castillo pitched a scoreless inning and struck out.  He did walk 2 batters, however.
  • Albert Almora and Kris Bryant got the day off but they are in the lineup today, along with Jorge Soler.

Gold Glove Finalists

Some good news and bad news for Cubs fans rooting for some Gold Glove awards.  Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo are finalists while Welington Castillo got snubbed.   Castillo led all catchers (including Yadier Molina) in runs saved but it’s likely his passed ball and error count swayed some old schoolers away when it came to the voting.  It’s a shame.  There has been some progress as far as voters taking advanced defensive metrics into account, but the vote is still largely based on reputation and outdated statistics such as fielding percentage.

Odds and ends

  • Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors tweets that Jacoby Ellsbury may get $150M in free agency this offseason.  Both Tom and I have heard the Cubs are interested in adding the speedy outfielder into the mix but you have to figure price has to be a factor here.  It’s not like the Cubs don’t have the money, but it’s likely that Ellsbury’s best two seasons will be his next ones while the Cubs aren’t contending.  The question is whether he’ll be worth the money in 3 years when he probably moves to LF in favor of Albert Almora.
  • There’s another Korean pitcher available and it’s Seung-Hwan Oh but the Cubs are not listed as one of the interested teams.  Oh throws 94-96 mph but is 31 years old and stands just 5’10”.  The Yankees are said to be scouting him closely.
  • The Nationals have hired Matt Williams to be their next manager.  Williams was never mentioned as a candidate for the Cubs.
  • Rick Renteria is getting an interview with the Seattle Mariners, who have also interviewed Brad Ausmus.

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  • We fans have a tendency to draw conclusions from short sample production and non production. I didn't do that with Soler because I really like the way he handles himself on the field. I think he belongs with the best.

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    I am one who is not in favor of Ellsbury. Sure, I like him, but his value relies alot on speed, and speed is one of the first things to go. He will be looking for at least 5-6 yr. deal, which will take him into his mid-30s. What kind of player will he be in 2017, at age 34? A light-hitting LF? No thanks.

    Crawford and Bourn should be two examples that give us pause

    I feel Ellsbury is going to be a very risky sign based on where his price will end up (not $150mil, but probably pretty high)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Totally agree

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed Zonk. Both Choo and Ellsb ury are looking for huge paydays, and niether is worth what BoreUs is likely pushing.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    No, his value is his OBP, not his speed

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    In reply to Ike03:

    His career OBP is .350 not .400. He has a career .789 OPS. That's not worth $20-$25M per year.

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    In reply to Pooch7171:

    Thank You! I keep hearing about his OBP, but it's nothing compared to Choo's. If OBP is what we need Ellsbury is not the guy.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Even Choo is a platoon player. His numbers against lefties stink.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    No one that's puts up .400 OBP for a season is a platoon player.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Why is his speed "the first thing to go" and what do you base that on? Ricky Henderson kept his speed well into his 30s and when he "lost a step" he played smarter and relied on his instincts. Ellsbury's value is more than just one category or he wouldn't be seeking or getting the contract he will sign before Spring Training. He is a better hitter and defender than both of those players you mentioned and when he loses speed he has shown he can revert to a power game without sacrificing his OBP. Everyone says 2011 is a fluke but if you look at his peripherals it was simply an adjustment to how he was pitched and what he needed to provide to the Red Sox offense. True he is probably not a 30-HR guy but if he hits 15-20 HR, scores 100 runs, bats .315 and drives in 65-80 runs with 50 or more stolen bases, how is that a bad thing?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    You make good points, there is no way to really be sure. Problem is the player you described at the end of your comment is not a 150mil dollar player. Not even 100mil, which is said to be Ellsbury's asking price. Like Zonk said, I like Ellsbury, but I don't like him on any contract longer than 3 years, speed player or not. I'm tired of seeing 36 yr old players on the decline getting paid like they're 26 and in their prime.

    No more albatross contracts. 30+ yrs old getting 5 yr + deals. Its inefficient. Ellsbury fits that category

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Nice to see you, Marcel. At some point we may have to sign that contract to get, say, the slugging lefty the team needs to put us over the top. But I agree we're nowhere close to that point yet.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactly. Nothing against Ellsbury, but we need to save that signing for when we are just one piece away from making a run. Then we capitalize on his prime seasons while the team is in prime contention.

    It's just the wrong time to be signing anyone to $100M+ contracts.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    And what if that player is not there in 2015 but he is now? That's taking a bit of a risk isn't it?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Why do you assume the one piece is a guy whose value is largely tied to positional value when we have a top 30 in all of baseball prospect who looks to be an elite defensive center fielder? The trick right now is we have no clue who is going to make it and who isn't, and so we're trying to guess what hole we need to fill in.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    What if by then, our one piece is a big power hitter? Do you really think Ellsbury can add that to his game? Or what if we need him to play infield?... Too many "what if's". If the time isn't now, you don't negate your payroll flexibility now by signing one today who may or may fit in 2 years. Wait for your talent to develop, that will dictate what our needs will be (because they won't all make it). Then if what we need isn't available, we make a trade for the guy. All the more reasons for collecting assets and building depth in the minors.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    right now, Tana.ka is a better sign than Ellsbury, given his age and the position he plays. The Cubs have a potential Ellsbury-like player 2-3 years down the road in Almora. Right now, we have no TOR in our system, we have to hope Spellcheck dev elopsTanaka or else Tanaka signs here and lives up to his advance notice. Tanaka is also only 24, so time is on his side. Ellsbury is already in his 30s, his odds of going downhill and becoming the next Hamilton or Pujols bad contract grow quickly.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Also Tanaka is a much bigger risk then Ellsbury. We know what Ellsbury can bring to the table and what he is capable of doing against major league pitching. We have no clue what Tanaka is going to do or how he will handle major league hitting. I just don't like giving up 150 million for a guy that plays once every five days. What if he has to pitch two years in the minors? That would be expensive Iowa pitcher.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I agree with Mutant beast. We need a TOR pitcher. If Tanaka becomes a #1 a #2 or a #3 it doesn't matter, we need all of them. But Ellsbury doesn't fill a need when we are scheduled to be good. Almora will be here and at a fraction of the cost. But I do agree with you in that there sure is risk with Tanaka.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I completely agree that we shouldn't be looking at Ellsbury at 150 mil but the player Michael described is basically Andrew Mccutchen with more steals and he is going to win the MVP and absolutely would be worth at least 100 mil on the market. The only problem is Ellsbury probably won't put up those stats and definitely won't do it for the next five or six years so I would pass on him

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    In reply to Matt:

    Exactly. If he was 25 putting up those numbers, easy 100mil. 31 with a history of injuries. Pass.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Carl Crawford became a 100 mil player without the benefit of a 20 HR season. I think the player he described is easily a 100MM player. Agreed with you that while I like Ellsbury, he's a guy I wish we could sign to a three or four year deal. Not 6 or 7.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    And the Crawford deal is now and was by many at the time considered a very bad deal. One bad deal doesn't excuse another.

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    In reply to Pooch7171:

    But one bad deal shouldn't prevent a team from signing a player. You just cannot make that argument. Was it a bad deal when the Cubs extended Marmol? Not at the time. Was it bad deal in hindsight? It was pretty horrific just based on 1/2 of last season alone.

    You are trying to predict one player's future based on another player's past. It is folly to do so in any market.

    Further, the free agent market is dead. I have yet to determine if that increases the value of available free agents due to scarcity, or if it decreases their value because so many teams are pursuing other options, leaving less buyers. I'd say the former but it is a coin flip.

    Also, teams have more money to spend, thanks to again, scarcity in the marketplace, restrictions on contractual dollars toward draft picks and international free agents, increased television revenues (I think each team gets an extra $25M this year) and a soft cap (aka luxury tax) so when you have too many dollars chasing too few products, what do you have? You have demand-pull inflation.

    That inefficiency in the market works toward the benefit of the few free agents.

    So is Ellsbury worth $150 million dollars? Absolutely not. But he can get that because nobody has any place to spend their money. To me, it's not a question of what he costs (and it will be closer to 6/100M with an AAV of $16.67) as long as it doesn't prohibit the Cubs from making other moves. But what else is out there? Trades? Reclamation projects? The Pacific Rim?

    Factoring in all of that, I'd pay Ellsbury the 6/100M and maybe a little over. I am not worried about age regression when he is 34-36 because he can move to LF and adjust his game and still be a very productive player, I would think. I also wouldn't worry about injuries because both of his injuries were accidents. It's not like he doesn't take care of himself, and if you worry about injuries, why sign anybody?

    At some point you take a chance. I think of the free agents this year, Ellsbury is about as close to a guarantee as there is.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    I'm not justifying it. I'm trying to say that 100 million dollar players aren't what they used to be, if you will. My point was that you're only a 100MM player if somebody pays you. Crawford was able to get it with inferior to or similar number to the ones Michael listed.

    The going rate has gone way way up across the board. Sometimes I think we all lose sight of that. Five years ago I would have never predicted guys like Ellsbury and Choo to be sniffing nine figures. But there they are. Sniffing nine figure contracts.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I will bet you 50 buck will have a comeback year next yr barring injury.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    That may be, but what good idea that do us?

    John said gua best years are probably the next two. I think next year will be good but downhill after that.

    Theo has states explicitly that they don't play for past performance. And at 150M, there's no way he can produce enough to justify that contract in terms of future production.

    Outside of the ocassional outlier, players lose speed with age. Anyone that denies that is kidding themselves.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Because speed is Ellsbury's only asset, correct?

    Because in free agency you never pay for past performance? Or rather, in free agency are we to expect that a player actually increases his value and that his skills will actually advance over the life of the contract?

    How do you define downhill? Are you saying that by year two Ellsbury will be nowhere near the money he will be paid? How can you rightfully predict that? What are you basing that on?

    What contract would you give Ellsbury if you were a GM?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Speed isn't his only asset but a lot of his value is tied up in his speed.

    If you want to pay a guy well into 9 figures on the off chance he retains his speed, I question your decision making ability.

    There are countless examples and speed guys that lost that with age. You mentioned Ricky before which itself is telling. Anytime your best example is the best ever at the subject you're referring to, your argument is pretty weak.

    Are you a Bears fan? Watch Hester return kicks and tell me he's as fast as when he was 26 or 27. He just had a TD last week and the commentary guys were talking about how Devin spoke with the firmer record holder, whim told him that once he got close to 30, he'd gave to start relying on strategy and blocking much more.

    We're not making this up as some part of an anti-Ellsbury conspiracy.

    (Hell, honestly Ricky probably did lose speed, but he was so so much faster than everyone from the start, you don't notice. )

    And if I were a GM, I think the 100M wouldn't be unfair. He's probably not worth quite that, but I can accept a slight overpay.

    Unfortunately, Haciby is reportedly asking for 150M and Choo wants 100M. I like Choo more but that's WAY too much money for either player.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    A lot of his value is not tied up in speed. He is a five-tool player and speed is his best asset but not his only asset. And why can't I use Ricky Henderson? How does that make it a weak argument? A weak argument is comparing a dedicated return guy in football to a five tool baseball player. What the hell is that? Why not compare Ellsbury to Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus or Martina Navritalova.

    How about Andre Dawson then? He signed with the Cubs when he was 33, and in five years he finished Top 20 in MVP voting 3 times. Yes, that means he was one of the 20 most valuable players in the National League well into his thirties - ON BAD KNEES.

    I never said it was an anti-Ellsbury conspiracy and obviously if you like Choo better with his horrible defensive shortcomings I have to question what you value as being worth $100 Million anyway.

    Frankly I don't give a rat's ass what Deion Sanders (the record holder) has to say anyway. The next time he makes a discussion not about him will be the first. And THAT is a weak argument.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I like your argument regarding the economics of the marketplace favoring an Ellsbury signing, while the counter argument is the value of Ellsbury as an asset over the life of the contract. Regardless of his production with his next team, his asset value will decline, but that's not necessarily the point either. If the market dictates that a top of the order CF is worth $20 million per year, he will get $20 million per year.

    I'm not convinced the Ricketts business model subscribes to this vagary of the marketplace salary structure, however. Based on what we are seeing, Ricketts will likely reinvest earnings into baseball operations in order to keep player costs down and talent flowing through the development pipeline. The deals signed by Rizzo and Castro are more representative of the compensation value Ricketts places on position players. Based on the Edward Jackson deal, one could argue that Ricketts will either pay more for pitching or pay more for an acute need. Either way, they bowed out of a bidding war with Detroit in the Sanchez derby and settled for Jackson.

    All in all, I agree that Ellsbury will be worth $20 million per year on his next contract, however, I would be very surprised if the Cubs felt likewise.

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    In reply to Cleme:

    Well, most teams are doing that already. It's common sense. My point is that if Ellsbury fills a need that is not available in the organization he will pay the market value. He probably won't go over market value and for that matter, Epstein probably wouldn't either.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Agree, Ellsbury is a need, but for the sake of argument, and if money and term are no objects, then the Cubs should actually consider paying Cano $30 million per year. Dispelling the injury and declining skills concerns with Ellsbury could be worth the extra $5-$10 million a year, in addition to filling a need for a LH power threat to balance the batting order of the future. It could also be worth it to pay more for Cano's DR connection and mentorship abilities. Besides, very few teams have a true leadoff hitter, yet the market will still dictate that Cano is worth more than Ellsbury, even if all needs are equal.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    He may not be worth his contract but that's kind of how free agency works with the big names. If he can still hold enough value to be a bridge and then a solid veteran contributor when the young kids are around, it may be worth the overpay for them. I'm not sure if they'd do that at $150M, but he might be worth it to them at some price.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If you're going to overpay, I think Choo makes way more sense.

    Not as pricey, not nearly the injury history, far better OBP, less value tied up in speed.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Choo has had hamstring and oblique injuries throughout his career. Ellsbury's most significant injury was the result of an OF collision. I don't follow the injury history comment. Plus Choo is a year older than Ellsbury. Do you research this stuff or just throw it out there?

    Some relevant information regarding Choo:

    Has averaged 585 PA and 3.0 WAR over last three seasons.
    Has averaged 3.0 WAR per 600 PA over last three seasons.
    Recorded a 5.2 WAR in 712 PA in 2013.
    Is entering his age-31 season.
    Made $7.375M in 2013 on one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
    Choo career UZR -20.9

    Some relevant information regarding Ellsbury:

    Has averaged 564 PA and 5.4 WAR over last three seasons.
    Has averaged 5.8 WAR per 600 PA over last three seasons.
    Recorded a 5.8 WAR in 636 PA in 2013.
    Is entering his age-30 season.
    Made $9.0M in 2013 from a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
    Ellsbury career UZR +43.7

    How do you define "far better" OBP - .350 vs. .389 is "far better"? That's 27 times on base more over the course of the season based on 700 PAs. Considering the deficit in runs caused by Choo's horrible defense I am not buying "Choo makes way more sense." Sorry.

    How is Choo a better choice? Maybe you do have an anti-Ellsbury conspiracy.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Are you serious or are you trolling at this point?

    #1Choo had injury issues years ago, but of the last 5 years he only didn't play about 150 games once, and he still played over half the season.

    Ellsbury missed almost 30 games this year, more than half of 2012 and missed essentially ALL of 2010.

    He had only 2 of the past 5 years healthy.

    #2 390 and 350 are insignificant differences? That's statistically insignificant now? Wow.

    Hey now a guy that hits 250 for the year can just claim he hit 290, right. Same thing.

    Chop has better OBP AND SLG Almost a 60 point advantage even considering 2011 Ellbury's SLG jumped over 100 points for some reason, power never to be heard from again. This last year Choo had an OPS over 100 pts above Ellsbury. But you probably think that's insignificant too.

    Sure Ellbury is better on D. There's that. How much is that worth to you.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There is no why he gets Ellsbury 150mils. He would have to get a 8 yr deal for the value of his Contact to be less then 20 a year. He is a at most a 16 mil a year player at most.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Agreed. Tim Dierkes threw out $150 M. I haven't seen it elsewhere.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    That was Tim Dierkes' estimate, not mine.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Why? How many players recently have got more money than anyone predicted?

    Free agency money has gone crazy and it seems like there's always a couple GMs willing to take bidding too far.

  • Great to see Soler back quickly. I got a little nervous about his residency issues. Now hope he can focus on getting better and more reps in.

    I think we are all a little nervous about manager search.

    That is good for Barney and Rizzo, but to bad for Wellington. It is hard to look past how many errors he had as a catcher. The category is best defensive catcher or gold glove, so it would be tough in my eyes to give it to a guy who had one of the most errors despite any new school stats we have.

  • Was at the game yesterday. Soler showed great patients at the plate waiting for a pitch he could drive, and did the first three times at bat. (SOLID LINE DRIVES) Struck out the last time but still ran the count up. Beeler looked good after that first inning as John wrote. It's so nice to see a game for $6.00! Will be going down again soon.

  • In reply to Cubs26:

    Awesome. Great to hear the good approach and that they were solid line drives. Thanks for the details. Please let us know when you go again.

  • I like Castillo and am happy with his defensive improvement, but he's no gold glover yet.

  • Just a heads up: ESPN Deportes (& the former will be televising the Tigres del Licey vs. Aguilas Cibaenas game at 6:30pm central. Hopefully, Alcantara and Candelario will start (Arismendy went 1-4 with 1BB and 1K yesterday batting leadoff).

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Thanks Eldrad!

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Thanks Eldrad!

    Anyone know of any sites that stream these games?

  • ". . . But it's likely that Ellsbury's best two seasons will be his next ones while the Cubs aren't contending."

    Sure, John, go ahead and burst my bubble on a lovely Friday afternoon. What happened to "Cubs are not as far away as most think?" There are a number of "ifs" no doubt, but I really do believe Cubs can and should be "contending" at least for a playoff spot in 2015. No? And if they are contending for a playoff spot, then anything can happen from there.

    Shoot, last night I watched three 22 year olds shut down the best team in baseball.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Haha ;) Ellsbury would speed up the process and I think the Cubs could surprise next year and in 2015, but I don't think they'll be WS contenders yet. It's a close call. If Cubs are good by 2015/2016 it may well be worth it as long as price doesn't get too crazy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thats why if we did sign Ellsbury, try to keep it at 3 years. Sorianos contract became an albatross because it was too long, not because of just $. I dont personally see Ellsbury or BoreUs willing to sign for 3 yrs. Or even Choo.

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    John did you see Keith Law's Top 30 prospects for 2014 draft? Trea Turner is #15.

    Here is his top 5:

    1. Carlos Rodon, LHP | N.C. State
    Owner of perhaps the best amateur's slider in recent memory, Rodon is a power lefty with present stuff and a strong track record of missing bats (184 strikeouts in 132 innings last spring). He brings ace potential to a draft that lacks much of that kind of impact.

    2. Jeff Hoffman, RHP | East Carolina
    He popped for scouts in the Cape Cod League this summer, moving up boards with a very sudden velocity spike that jumped him ahead of almost all other college arms, but he has never shown the kind of dominant performance that Rodon has, and has to show he can hold this stuff for a full season.

    3. Alex Jackson, C | Rancho Bernardo HS (San Diego)
    He’s more likely to end up in right field than behind the plate, but Jackson has elite bat speed and above-average power potential to all fields.

    4. Jacob Gatewood, SS | Clovis (Calif.) HS
    Boasting enormous raw power, Gatewood has one of the highest upsides among prep hitters this year, but has to show he's got the hit tool to make the power play and will likely end up at third base in pro ball.

    5. Braxton Davidson, OF | T.C. Roberson HS (Asheville, N.C.)
    Davidson may have the most offensive upside of any hitter in the class, thanks to a plus hit tool and the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark.

    15. Trea Turner, SS | N.C. State
    Turner has elite speed and should be able to stick at shortstop, but there might not be much offensive upside.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yes, I wrote about it yesterday :) You must have missed that one.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Oops. Thanks. Man, you are churning them out lately. I will hit the archives!

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    The way Law is he also is heavy HS in the beginning.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    My response seems to have disappeared into the ether. Apologies if this double-posts.

    The writeup on Hoffman makes me wonder if he's next year's version of Sean Manaea.

    The key to Turner is the hit tool. Law is obviously down on it but others -- like Kevin -- are quite high on it. If he has a plus hit tool, elite speed, and can stick at short with a plus to plus plus glove, he's going to be quite valuable.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Full agreement. I am interested in getting more data on Turner. Gotta be a treat to scout he and Rodon at the same time.

  • Thanks for the switch back to onfield baseball, John. The manager list was becoming so long I was starting to watch for my name. When a manager finally gets hired we can switch to "coulda, woulda, shoulda mode" - and believe me many will.

    I think we should only look to a FA outfielder we can sign for a two year max. Given all the positive reports, I'm dreaming of an outfield logjam from our own system in 2 years. Hey, it's what being a Cub fan is all about.

  • Revenues are up around baseball, so the price tag doesn't mean "as much" as it did 5 or 10 years ago.

    However, I always wonder what is going to happen to Baseball when real world inflation catches up? Yellin is going to send us into hyperinflation at some point, so I just don't know.

    Teams like the Marlins and Astros would look like gems in that scenario.

    Ignoring inflation realities, or the world dropping the dollar as the reserve currency, it makes sense to splurge on a guy here and there. You have to keep the fans excited. There just are not going to be awesome free agents in their 20's anymore, at least not for a while.

    I'm "half" for signing Ellsbury. It's going to be an overpay, without a doubt.

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    This is going to be the Mesa game to see. Almora leading off, Bryant 3rd, Soler 5th.

    That has a nice ring to it...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Is the game available on internet in any form?

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    In reply to Moonlight:

    There's a gamecast if you Google Mesa Solar Sox. That's the only way I know of, though.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks, I'll give it a shot.

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    I agree. I think you almost have to overpay for impact talent through FA (at least in terms of $/WAR) these days. The key is picking your spots to do so. I don't know if Ellsbury is the right guy to do that on, but Theo and Jed probably have a better idea than I do if he is! I wouldn't say I'm all for signing him, but I'll be cautiously excited if they do.

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    Oops...meant to reply to givejonadollar

  • I chuckle at the Welington Castillo's Gold Glove "snub." Of course, not being a Gold Glove finalist doesn't make him a scrub. But it hardly surprised me, and I guess "all knowledgeable observers believe Castillo to be the top defensive catcher in the NL" didn't include the managers and coaching staffs who vote for the Gold Glove - but what do they know. =) Those stodgy old-timers somehow still think of "passed balls and throwing errors" are related to fundamentals like catching the ball and throwing it accurately. In my assessment, Castillo went from a poor defensive catcher in 2012 to above average in 2012, but not yet elite. Plus advanced sabermetrics do not evaluate the ability to manage a pitching staff. So is it any wonder Martin and Molina were obvious choices ahead of Castillo?

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Yes, Dusty Baker knows more about what makes a good defensive catcher than a Sabermetrician.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Me thinks Martin and Molina are getting a fair amount of consideration for GG because of their gold bats.

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    In reply to Moonlight:


  • Who are the finalists for gold glove among pitchers? If Travis Wood is not one, I would include him among deserving Cubs who are overlooked

  • Question - why don't the Sox resign Ellsbury? Is it simply because they have Jackie Bradley in the system? Certainly they can afford his contract as much as any team in baseball (maybe excluding Dodgers / Yankees).

    If its b/c of Bradley, my next question is: Why would the Cubs sign him if we have Almora (who is probably a good Bradley comp)?

    To me, you overpay for a guy when you think he is the 'missing piece' to your puzzle. Or, you don't have to overpay as much if you are viewed as a contender that could get a guy a WS ring. I know that there are some in the Jason Werth strategy of signing a big name guy before your window opens. I agree with that strategy but not for 8/$136...

    I think Theo / Cubs have 15 months of goodwill left. We might not see a .500 team in 2015 - but the signs need to be there or they need to make a FA splash. Tanaka this year could do it - but the casual baseball fan has no idea who that is. Bryant / Baez coming up and having an immediate impact would help as well.

    Will be interesting to see how they navigate a next 15 months...

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    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    The Red Sox may sign Ellsbury. They do not have to make that decision yet. The threat of not signing him may be to lower his demands. But with Boras, that won't happen. Further, I think Boras would like his clients to test free agency, so it may be Ellsbury's choice not to sign.

  • What is the general process after the AFL for the prospects? Do some/all/few play winter ball and if so where? And what determines where they play or do most just rest after a full minor league year?

    Ellsbury for 3 years max gets my vote and maybe we can all thank Keith Law for ranking Turner that low, lets hope the Marlins and Sox listen to his advice so we can scoop him up at #4.

  • I updated the piece with some scouting opinion on Dan Vogelbach. Good stuff.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sounds like a left-handed version of Billy Butler

  • After watching Prince Fielder's fielding in the playoffs, if he can still keep a job based on his hitting, Vogelbach should be able to find a job in the majors.

  • Vogelbach sounds like Greg Luzinski. A fireplug bully with the bat who can catch the stuff hit to him.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Vogelbomb has quicker hands than Luzinski. Luzinski was also a dead pull hitter. VBomb can hit them out even to the opposite field, even now. Right now, 2-3 years down the road calling him aLH Billy Butler seems a decent comp, since VBombs SO to BB numbers are fairly close.

  • That's good news on Vogelbach. Every syory I've read about him says he's working har to be a complete player and doesn't want to be just a DH. Next year will be pivotal for him, If he keeps on improving on his defense he may challenge Rizzo at some point. And if the cubs decide to stay with Rizzo at first it appears V will be a valuable trade chip,

  • The thing about Luzinski and his ilk is that they must hit 30homers, 90+rbi' s and have a decent batting average to help their teams. As soon as they lose half an inch off their swing its time to hang it up. Prince will soon be in that boat.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Indeed-Tigers are going to have to decide soon whether Miggy or Prince DHs. They are going to regret that contract. Notice how much Prince sucked in the ALCS this year.

  • There has been some talk about the Cubs packaging Welly in the off season and signing Salty from the BoSox. I understand the appeal from the offense side of things as Salty brings a left handed bat with pop to go along with a good eye and ability to work the count.

    But his defense is poor and I thought that was something this FO did put some value on.

    Again, nice to have another bat, but if we are 2 or so years away, I don't see why you don't let welly develop further and he could in fact turnout to be a better offensive player than Salty (though RH not LH) far better defensively and much, much cheaper.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Watching saltalamachia(sp) hit in this post season, his swing looks long and slow compared to Beef. Maybe McCann is a better option if the front office does something like that. Wellington also moves and throws better than either. That idea played better with a sped up process with Girardi than stay the course rebuild.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I'm against going after either, but certainly McCann over Salty. This year was Salty's only year with a WAR over 1.2 and an OPS over .800 (.804). His career OBP is barely over .300!

  • Mesa up 2-1 thus far- Almora, Soler with BB and Bryant a 2B. Let's face it, the chances that the Cubs sign a FA for $100M+ this season aren't very good and the future of the team depends heavily upon the fortunes of the big 4 prospects. There's plenty of other intriguing guys like C.J. Edwards and Vogelbach, but the potential impact of the big 4 can't be ignored and will determine the success of the Cubs after 2015.

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    Bryant with 2 doubles and a strikeout so far today. Hitting .425/.467/.875. How many superlatives are there for him at this point?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's dreamy... Seriously, how asleep can the guru's be on this guy? He has to be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball right now.

    Nice call Kevin!

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think he's jumped past Baez. He's a monster. And the beautiful part is we get that bat associated with either a completely acceptable third baseman or a gold-glove caliber corner outfielder. Kevin on Twitter today said he's heard the Astros regret taking Appel instead of Bryant.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    IDK, he still hasn't seen a AA pitch. Baez dominated AA the last few months. But he has clearly shown enough to leap ahead of Soler & Almora and should be in the top ten of all MiLB.

  • Kris Bryant....yawn....has a couple more....yaaaawwwwnnnnn....doubles today.

    Sorry to bore you all with no news whatsoever....

  • Two things: Someone made the comp above for Vogelbach as Greg Luzinski. I'm thinking a better comp might be John Kruk (in his Phillies days) with better pure power. Shoot, they even LOOK the same. People forget that Kruk was a pure line drive .300 hitter to all fields with superb OBP skills. I'd take that with 25-30 Vogelbombs a year in a heartbeat. Barely passable glovework is fine by me.

    Two, Trea Turner is starting to sound an awful lot like a Lee Hak-Ju comp, no? With both guys, it all comes down to whether they can hit enough, though it appears Turner at least has a bit of drive potential with the bat. Lee OTOH is a pure-Judy guy.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Good point on Vogelbach. He might be Kruk with more power.

  • Soler just cracked a 2 run HR to right, always nice to see when they can go to all fields.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    He's a good hitter, not just hacking away up there.

  • The home cooking from Almora's mom is apparently the difference in his game now!

  • And when you hang sliders, they also get cracked to right, 3B for KB! Nice.

  • Soler was considered to have a better approach to hitting than Baez. Some people have forgotten that.

  • In reply to robertxyz:

    I haven't. If it weren't for Baez's demonstrated ability to keep adjusting at each level, he would be the one that I have the most doubts about. Right now, it's Soler, but only because of the amount of time he has missed.

    I keep trying to remind myself of the unlikelihood of all 4 making it as starters in the mlb, but they keep giving me hope!

  • Final line:

    Almora 0/4 with a BB
    Bryant 3/5 with 2 2B, a 3B, 2 K and a RBI
    Soler 2/4 with a HR, a BB, a K and 2 RBI

    I gotta wear shades...

  • I find it interesting that Bryant hasn't played any OF so far in the AFL. Will be interesting to see if he gets anytime out there.

    And if not, is that a sign that he is furthering his hold on that position as he moves up the ladder.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    He's already a pretty good OF'er because he has played it in college. In fact, he was good enough to play CF on occasion. In the majors he'd be a RF because of his great arm.

    I think the Cubs can switch him at the last minute and feel good about it. He's much more ready to play it right now than Lake was last year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have seen him in the OF he doesn't look bad.

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    i wa disappointed at first when Baez dropped out of the AFL, but in hindsight it's kinda nice.

    If he would've crushed it would've overshadowed how good Almora, Bryant, and Soler are. And if he would've been off it would've put a bit of a damper on things.

    Hell, there's been at least 2 articles I've seen on how disappointing Soler has been, now he's over 300.

    Great stuff on Vogel, John. I really hope we keep him around. If the Cards can find space for Matt Adams, Vogel will be fine. And if the DH makes its way to the NL, all the better.

  • My memory is that when Theo first arrived he said free agents make sense in two cases: getting short term assets to convert to long term assets, and to fill holes.

    He's been doing plenty of the first. I do not know how he can do the second until he knows where the holes will be.

    Remember that the odds against a minor league player making it in the majors is dragged down quite a bit by the teams who draft and develop poorly...seems like there are more that are bad at it than not.

  • I saw Vogelbomb 2-3 last year when he was with the AZL cubs rookies affiliate. Offensively, he is a beast. Great hand-eye co-ordination, has power to all fields and works counts. Personally, I wouldnt be surprised if he becomes a 25+ HR hitter in the bigs, hed likely run into 25 FBS a year hed crush. Defensively, hes limited. Little range, hes not that good at sc ooping low throws, but he does seem to have good footwork, so he likely will improve. If the NL adopts the DH, Vogelbomb should be the man there. I have little doubt at least offensively Dan will be a future big leaguer.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Last year Epstein said he thought the DH was coming to the NL. It still will be 2 maybe 3 years before Vogelbach gets to the majors. Let's enjoy watching his progress and see what he becomes. I know a lot a people want to trade him but I think the Cubs will regret doing that. I think he will be a .275 to .290 hitter with 25/30 HRs and 90/100 RBI. He is a great team mate and nice guy. But I will admit, he never will be equal to Rizzo defensively. NL go DH.

  • In reply to John57:

    Nobody wants to trade him, but without the DH he might not have a position.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Almost every thread that talks about Dan someone mentions that he will be great trade bait.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    The Cards carried Matt Adams almostbthe whole year. Teams find ways to get good bats into the order.

  • Suffice to say that the Cubs have some studs on the way. I think that all of the big four will be impact major league players. Add to that list, Arismendy Alcantara, as an ideal package for the top of the lineup with his speed, on base ability, switch hitting, and power and the organization is making room for five in 2015 and 2016. Of course, prospects flame out, but I don't think so this time. This group listens and adapts and is so gifted. Grab your ass with both hands Cub fans we are in for thrilling ride.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I agree with you, it is going to be a great ride. I just might hang on to something other than what you suggest though. :)

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Right on- the big four will be something to see by 2015 if they can stay healthy. Notice how most of the talk this off-season has been about the prospects and not much regarding FA acquisitions? I kind of enjoy those conversations rather than whose retread we should sign next.

  • The Mesa Solar Sox are going to enjoy next year's offense too. Perhaps Vogelbach, plus a last chance for Villanueva, Alcantara and Szczur. Maybe Candelario or... Trea Turner!

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    I'm a national league guy, and prefer pitchers have to hit, but just for the sake of finding some way of getting Volgelbach AB's for the Cubs I hope the NL adopts the DH soon! I also hope that the FO isn't so set on sticking w/their prized prospect Rizzo even if he continues to underwhelm at the plate that they wouldn't pull the trigger on trading him away and giving that 1B job to Dan. I realize defense is important, but I see a guy for the Cardinals playing 1B and doing just fine, and he's not exactly svelte. And I don't see Adams being a better hitter than Volelbach.

    Also not sure why Renteria gets a 2nd interview. What don't they know about him already? Didn't Hoyer hire the guy in the fist place? Why isn't Ausmus being considered?

    Really getting sick of all the negative media comments locally too. These guys don't even know about half the people they're criticizing. Speaking out of ignorance makes you an idiot IMO. I do however agree with the financial restraints cr5iticism thing if that's in fact true. There is no good reason to be on a budget at this time. Whatever the Cubs spend will indeed turn into gold if it leads to winning. Just the merchandising alone will make them wealthy. I just hope its because they're being smart with the money, although you can immediately argue against that with the Edwin Jackson contract which I still can't believe they did. Really hope they don't shell out 150 Mil. for Ellsbury. I feel that they have a few decent options in CF for now, and also feel that they have several future ling term candidates led by Almora. If anything I say invest in starting pitching and sink that doe there. I am leery about long term deals with pitching because arms blow out, but really what choice have they got at this point? You have to take a chance on this Tanaka kid. That's where the number one focus should be as far as FA money goes IMHO.

  • If I have to choose between the DH and to keep Vogelbach, then good luck to the V-bomb in the homerun derby league AL.

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