Cubs News and Notes: Mujica, Ellsbury, Samardzija, Castro, and Baez

Let’s round up some of today’s news and notes as we head into the weekend…

Edward Mujica

On the heels of Mauricio’s great bullpen piece today, Chris Cotillo writes that the Cubs are one of 4 teams interested in Edward Mujica. On the surface, Mujica looks like a major addition based on his 37 saves and 2.78 ERA but those numbers may have him a bit overvalued. Mujica’s strength is his excellent control, as evidenced by a career ratio of 1.39 walks per 9 IP. Last year he averaged less than a walk per 9 IP (0.70). That alone should draw the Cubs attention as their bullpen currently features some good arms but a lot of inexperience and some potential control issues.

Mujica would probably be in the closer mix given his experience and if he wins it, he gives the Cubs more time to evaluate Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Hector Rondon as candidates for the long term role.  If he does not win the closer role, then he offers an excellent insurance policy in case one of the young arms falters in that role.  The Cubs were left scrambling for a closer to solidify the back end of the bullpen last year before finding Kevin Gregg off the scrap heap.  Mujica would give them that kind of veteran stability from day one.  It is not a huge signing but in some ways it’s an indicator that the Cubs don’t intend for their bullpen to give games away early in the season as they did last year.

The other teams involved are the Phillies, Orioles, and Indians according to Cotillo but the Cubs may have a built in advantage as Jed Hoyer had a previous working relationship with Mujica when both were with the Padres in 2010.

If the Cubs cannot land Mujica, another interesting option may be Andrew Bailey, who is a non-tender candidate with the Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury

David Schoenfield of ESPN believes that the Cubs should sign Jacoby Ellsbury. He believes Ellsbury could fill that table setting role and with the Cubs having little in terms of long term payroll obligations, the time to invest would be now. Next year’s market offers even less potential to add an impact player. I surveyed some in the industry and media and for the most part, the response was that this was not a good fit for the Cubs. This is not to say the Cubs should not spend at all, but most agreed there are better fits. Masahiro Tanaka continues to be my favorite as a Cubs big dollar signing and for the most part, that sentiment was echoed by those around baseball.

Jeff Samardzija

Peter Gammons reports that the Cubs are in no real hurry to trade Jeff Samardzija. Gammons writes,

The Cubs endgame on Jeff Samardzija is to let the market play out. Several teams including the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays have called on the righthander who will be 29 come January 25, but the Cubs’ feeling is that when the Masahiro Tanaka posting saga has played itself out and the free agent scrum has cleared, Samardzija and Tampa Bay’s David Price will be the jewels of the market. And their trades will lead us to and probably past Groundhog Day.

I think it makes sense. The Cubs know that there is little else in terms of young talented pitchers with cost control on the trade market. There is no need to rush into any kind of deal. And if the two sides have a breakthrough in contract negotiations in the meantime, who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Samardzija, as noted many times, i is being heavily pursued by a number of teams. Consistency remains an issue but he is athletic and his stuff is top of the line. Despite his struggles in the second half, some believe they saw some improvement in the big RHP last year.

Of course, this all depends on whether or not the Cubs can sign Samardzija. It’s one thing to say you want to keep Samardzija at value with the Cubs long term and quite another to say you want to gamble that the Cubs can either win or re-sign him at the end of two years. The trade value will be high this offseason, but it will begin to diminish as he loses some cost control and eventually, the ability to recoup a draft pick if the Cubs wait until the last year of his deal.

Extending the time frame means the Cubs are willing to wait out a better deal while giving the two sides another chance to come to terms.

Starlin Castro and Javier Baez

One more interesting tidbit to Gammons’ piece is the statement that the Cubs are convinced Javier Baez will remain a shortstop.  It echoes what Jason McLeod has said about Baez’s future defensive position.  Gammons states that if that holds true it will force the Cubs to make a decision on Starlin Castro sometime in the near future.

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  • fb_avatar

    It's not a stretch that Castro could play 2B and give the Cubs more production from that position than anybody else, and his current contract is not beyond out of range for a quality second sacker.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I said this to John earlier, Baez vs. Castro is going to be the next media feeding frenzy after the Samardzija issue is sorted out.

    There are so many moving parts here. Does Olt flame out? If so, you might be better off moving Baez to 3B and Bryant to RF. (Assuming both of them make it, which I think is likely but not assured.)

    What happens with Castro? Do you stop trying to change him? If so, do the Cubs even want him long term? Does Baez's defense improve to the point where he's such an obvious upgrade over Castro they have no choice?

    And, on top of that, there's another draft coming. If the Cubs take Trea Turner (I *don't* think that's happening at this point), he throws another monkey wrench into the works. If you think Turner is the long term shortstop, maybe you move Baez to 2B or 3B now just so you don't have to change everything again when Turner is ready.

    Buckle up.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes we do have a lot of moving parts and questions to answer. Olt is so key and can have a ripple effect on so many other players. If he can hit .280 and defend 3B well it will make the plot thicken. I just want to use the Baez vs Castro as a positive feature. I hope the media and public doesn't turn it into one vs the other.

    As far as a bullpen guy. How about Brian Wilson?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Well, I posted on another site long ago that we should take a shot at Brian Wilson or Mujica, so I'm fine with either one. Both should be nearly as effective as the top 3 and less expensive. I prefer Wilson though. It's imperative that we do sign a dependable closer though as Strop has a history of wildness. We have depended on young, inexperienced pitchers in the bullpen for years and rued the results.

  • In reply to krn99:

    He has the right personality to help the young pups in the pen. Fear the Beard

  • In reply to krn99:

    Is Mijica a free agent?

  • In reply to krn99:

    Is Mujica a free agent?

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    In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    yes sir, he is. Perhaps it is time the Cubs stand and face the mujica. lol (sorry, I know it's a little early for bad humor)

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Yes he is. And ask yourself why the yardbirds didnt use him in the playoffs. Something likely isnt right with him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Quite frankly, I believe that Starlin Castro will remain at shortstop. I don't think that the team will move him. I think that he is here for the long-term, and if that means moving an uber-prospect like Javier Baez to accompany the franchise player, then so be it.

    The Cubs invested too much into Castro and will not be giving up on him after one poor season. I think he's a bounce-back and the team will be looking to accommodate him rather than moving him to a different position. Javier Baez will likely move and ideally it would be to second base, allowing Bryant to stay at his third base position.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    All good points. I question if Turner will ever develop enough power but I have seen some services that are calling him a 1-1. He reminds of Garin Cecchini but with true 80 speed. Cecchini just has impeccable instincts. I'd almost be willing to try Turner at 2B as well. I think if he puts the ball on the grass a little more he is an excellent leadoff candidate with that elite speed and I've read he is an excellent bunter already.

    I don't see the Cubs trading Castro unless they do it this offseason. That assumption is coming right out of my ass though. My assumption is based on my opinion that Castro is more likely to be the player he was in 2013 rather than the player he was in 2011 and for half of 2012. If he has another year like last year his trade value plummets.

    I still think Renteria will turn him around though. Fingers crossed anyway.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Trust me Turner has enough power now.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I believe Arizona Phil at the other blog has regularly maintained that Castro always looked best when playing 2b (obviously this was when Castro was in coming through the system though).

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    In reply to springs:

    That's an interesting observation, as Castro only played 28 games total at 2B in his career. Pretty small sample size.

    What people tend to forget is that Castro led the league in assists, put outs and total chances in both 2011 and 2012. In fact, in 2012, he accounted for about 150 more defensive outs than did GG winner Jimmy Rollins. Even if you subtract the additional errors, that's still a differential of 135, almost an additional out per game.

    And finally, here's why I think it is Baez who moves and not Castro: Baez has the opportunity to learn his new position in the minors, where as Castro has no such luxury. I can't imagine them calling Baez up on a warm July day and saying, "Oh, by the way Starlin, you're a second baseman now."

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I agree with you, though I note that Az Phil was often watching in spring training games and practices as well as minor league games.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That doesn't mean anything. Castro lead the league in put outs by such a wide margin because he lead the league in chances. It's not his defensive prowess that lead to such a larger number of "chances". His Fielding % was still only .967 and his UZR of -3.3 is on the lower half of average.

    Baez will move because the F.O. has said he would be the one to move. That doesn't mean they won't or can't change their mind or trade one of them. Personally, I think they're fairly similar defensively but Baez's bat places a huge premium on him.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes, he led the league in put outs and assists because he led the league in chances, which indicates he has dynamic range and gets to balls others cant. And BTW, Cubs pitchers were in the bottom third of GO ratio in 2012, making his feat that much more impressive.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That says as much about scouting, positioning, etc as it does Castro... That in and of itself does not mean he has far superior range to any Shortshop in MLB as you imply.

    Using your rational, since he finished 3rd in total chances in the NL for 2013, exactly 97 behind the NL leader... he's lost a step or two. Yet he was still just 10th in the NL for fielding % and lead all in errors.

    Like I said, he's in the bottom half of "average NL SS's defensively.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Being the rational gentlemen that we are, I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I'm not even sure what we are agreeing to disagree on.

    You're not trying to argue that Castro is a plus defender are you?

    or are saying your stance is that TC is a truest barometer of his range vs the more advanced metrics available?...

    If it's either of those, then yes, we'll have to agree to disagree

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Hoosier, to clarify, I'm not saying he's an elite defender based solely on TC's, I think where we're apart is that I believe you view him as a negative defender, and I see him as having the "potential" to be an upper tier SS in large part due to his dynamic range. I don't disagree that he needs to continue to cut down on the errors (he did show improvement in that dept last year) and keep his head in the game.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I agree he has the "potential" to be in the upper tier defensively, but he has a lot of work to do to get there. He's still struggling with the same issues for 3 years now. 3yrs is long enough to fix that, if it's fixable. I am starting to think he may never reach that ceiling, but we shall see.

    Also to clarify, I never said "negative defender". I said he is in the "bottom half of average defensively". Maybe that opinion is a little harsh. But it's fair given he was 10th in NL fielding % and lead the league in errors (again).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think he may have meant he gets to more balls, has more range, thus more chances. Sometimes when you have more range, you try to make more great plays, coming up short on the stats side.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    What would be the problem with switching Castro to second mid-season if that is what the front office thinks is best long-term? It's not as if we are going to play any meaningful games for the foreseeable future.

  • I like your line of thinking, Moody. I agree that there is a lot of moving parts/ifs in regards to these prospects scenario. But I'd lean to Bryant staying at 3B, his natural position & having 1 of the SS slide over to 2B. Out Field seems easier to find/replace thru trade/FA etc. And with the Almora/Soler/Szczur prospects in addition to Lake if/wherever he may fit in. Then that would also throw another monkey wrench into the Alcantara aspect of the equation. Sounds like when it gets here, this is going to be a very good problem to have.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    The Kris Bryant I saw in the AFL, and I only saw two games, looks like he would be overmatched at 3B. I saw one brutal throw to 1B on what should have been a routine play that actually scared me. I think he is destined for the OF, but again, really small sample size. That throw is ingrained in my brain though.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I saw him in 25 games at 3B over the last 2 years. He can handle it. He won't be a GG winner but he will handle it.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Would the defense be improved with Olt at third and Bryant in right?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It would. Olt is a GG Caliber 3B.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's kind of how I see it. If Olt or Baez is a better defender at 3rd than Bryant, why would you not play them there? I think Baez's position is the ultimate TBD. You let Castro, Olt and Alcantara get their playing time and see how they do, then pick the best two out of those three and give Baez the position that is left over. Defensive flexibility is NOT a bad thing.

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    In reply to djriz:

    Olt is the best 3B in the system, defensively. I think Villanueva would be next in line. Bryant will likely end up in RF

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Actually think Villanueva usually rates higher than Olt defensively.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I saw throws like that come from a guy named Santo ,when he was young. He turned out OK.

  • 1-let castro play 2014 at SS.
    2-Baez play SS/2B at Iowa, 2B atChicago the second half. Then see where you are after the season. I think if Olt sticks you can trade Castro and have an infield of Rizzo - Alcantara - Baez - Olt.

  • Why would you do that? I like A.A., but Castro is far superior to Alcantara.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I disagree. I believe Alcantara will be much more valuable then Castro because of his ability to get on base and better speed. He has also shown more power then Castro.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Alcantara is not in the same league as castro.

  • In reply to scarter:

    He will have at least the same OBP as Castro. He shows the ability to make adjustments that Castro does not.

  • In reply to scarter:

    maybe not, but the difference between alcantara and castro might be worth it if starlin can net you a 1/2 starter, a LH outfielder, or whatever our need may be..

  • In reply to scarter:

    May be better tha Castro, I agree.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Alcantara has to stay healthy for a full season too. He's got a bit of an injury bug.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    He only missed 5 games last season so, I don't consider that a problem.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed. Castro is the more talented player. I think Alcantara will walk more, but he won't walk a ton, maybe average rate and he'll hit .270 or so, imo. I don't know if there is enough walks in there to make up the OBP if Castro goes back to being a .300 hitter. This is a big year for Castro, I think. He needs to go back to being similar to the player he was. He could make all this talk moot if he takes that big step forward.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think he returns to a 300 hitter.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    You said castro can't make adjustments, He has to make adjustment while hitting his way. Its hard to make adjustments from a philosophy your not use to.

  • In reply to scarter:

    I think he makes adjustments as a hitter. Had a harder time with the new approach -- and it didn't help he had too many people in his ear. I'm willing to see how he rebounds with a fresh start in 2014.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree 100%. You work on weaknesses or changes in the off season, not during the season. Castro was a completely different player last season due to people in his head.

  • In reply to scarter:

    His swing % only changed by 1.3% which is not enough to show he really changed his approach.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I think trying to learn the new approach had him thinking too much and not using his natural good instincts as a hitter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A very intelligent highly touted baseball man once told me. Once who step into the batters box the only person you can listen to is yourself there is no one else in the box with you. I think the approach thing is a lame excuse and kind of prove my point about adjustments.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He's going up to the batter box trying to do things differently. He was trying to do what the Cubs asked him to do not as he would do it himself. Adjusting as a hitter and improving your plate discipline aren't necessarily the same things. If you are going to judge hitters by how much they improved their plate discipline, then you will find a lot of good hitters who were unable to adjust. Walk rates really don't improve a lot from one year to the next or even over an entire career. I know you don't like Castro, but you have to judge him as you would every hitter. If you can find a large list of hitters who substantially improved their plate discipline that quickly, that early in their careers, then I'll be very surprised. It just doesn't happen. To make a blank statement that he can't adjust at all based on that is unfair.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Why do you say that thought Kevin?

    I respect your opinions, but we have a good size sample to work with here. Are you suggesting that 2013 Castro is what he will always be vs what he was the first 2+ years? I just don't see that, what am I missing?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    If Castro can hit say around 300, probably in the high 280's. He's gotta cut down the errors, and start swinging and stealing. Get on base ahead of Rizzo and the others. I hope Castro isn't looking over his shoulder with Baez being groomed to have a go at SS. That could rattle him.

  • That would be a Grand Canyon size drop off defensively. Alcantara has had defensive issues in the minors at both short and second. He's going to have to improve a lot defensively to help the team. Baez, of course, has had a plethora of errors at his natural position as well. His tree trunk legs serve him well when hitting, but not so much in the field.

  • In reply to krn99:

    First off Alcantara has had 111 games at 2B so he is still learning the footwork and angles. His skillset works better for 2B and I think he will become a very good 2B.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Kevin have you seen alcantara play a substantial amount? you're putting him in the same class a mlb shortstop after one injury free breakout year

  • In reply to NateDHummel:

    No I have a number of scouts I talk to that Love him at 2B. They believe he is a Rollins light type player.

  • The more I think about it, the more I want the organization to take a chance on Jacoby Ellsbury.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I subscribe to that Ellsbury camp as well. To me, 30 is still pretty young for where the Cubs want to be in the next couple years. I believe he would be great to have out there anchoring CF & hitting atop the order. Would give them a legitimate lead off hitter for some time or trade bait down the road, perhaps.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I have been against signing Ellsbury, but I'm coming around. I looked at the 2015 free agency position players and found little to help us. We have the second worst offense in all of baseball with no help in sight in the near term, so I think that Jacoby could help us support the starting pitchers a little better than who we have now.

  • In reply to krn99:

    Almora will probably come up in 2015. No need for a FA CF.

  • In reply to John57:

    Almora won't come up until 2016 at the earliest, probably 2017 since he missed most of this year with injuries. He's in A-ball.

  • In reply to krn99:

    Almora is one of the elite prospects we have. Even though he did miss a number of games this year, he was in the fall league and did just fine. The level of the fall league is generally considered somewhere between AA and AAA. I do not think he is going to need 3 more years in the minors and come up in 2017 as you say he probably will. I guess we disagree because I still think he will come up sometime in 2015, probably in Sept.

  • In reply to John57:

    I agree. One guy like Ellsbury for a TON of money at this stage isn't worth it. I am happy with Sweeney in CF until Almora arrives, plus we have some others loke Szur, Dunston Jr, Brett Jackson, and a few other that will want to compete for CF.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    How do we know Almora will arrive? How do we know he won't be Brett Jackson, Corey Patterson or Felix Pie when he does? There's 3 OF positions. Ellsbury, I'm sure, would only take 1 spot. I think many of you are putting way too much pressure on all of these fine prospects to get here, succeed as stars & make the Cubs instant contenders. Even the Cardinals went out & got Carlos Beltran & Matt Holiday. That's 2/3 of their OF.

  • Don't forget Allcantara. He will have a say as well. Bryant could play 3b in Wrigley right now, but he is not built for it like Olt and Villanueva, both who will need to show some offense. It's not impossible that Castro could be all that we could hope and still be our 2nd best SS, 2nd best 2b, and 4th best option at 3b..

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    I'm ready for some additions at the Major League level.

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    In reply to Ray:

    One of the reasons I'd love them to get Tanaka. A pickup that could make everyone happy.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hear, hear!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Tanaka is the perfect fit at the perfect time. I wouldn't mind overpaying a bit if thats what it takes to get him.

  • I like the idea of adding a proven bullpen piece so long as it doesn't affect them signing other impact free agents like Tanaka for example. If they didn't give games away last season like they did who knows how last season plays out. Jacoby Ellsbury is a no for me.

  • I still think Castro will not be a member of the Cubs when they are contenders.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Same here Kevin. If Castro does in fact have a bounce back season all this chatter will just fade away.... Just too many folks willing to write Starlin off as some kind of hindrance. This learning on the job stuff has really hurt his public profile.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think he will be important not on the field. I think he will be pushed out by Alcantara and Baez but will bring back good return.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I'd only agree to that statement if Olt can stick at 3B. Then I can see Castro used next season in a trade. The tandem of Baez and Alcantara would hit Wrigley together playing SS and 2B. I really want to see how this two guys click at Iowa. Are they being groomed to become a great DP combintion as well as a common bond of teammates coming through the system together?

    But if Olt doesn't stick then Baez will fill that void. Bryant will be in RF in all of my scenarios. Although Bryant can probably handle the 3B job, my feeling is that he could really blossom in RF with a few gold gloves to go along with all that power potential.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    If you put a gun to my head and asked me to produce a lineup for the 2016 Cubs, it would read:

    LF: (Soler traded for left hander)
    CF: Almora
    RF: Bryant
    3B: Baez
    SS: Castro (it would be a lock if he could get rid of that double-clutch)
    2B: Alcantara
    1B: Rizzo
    C: Castillo

    5 of those 8 (Almora, Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, and Castillo) would be in the GG hunt year-in, year-out. So, long way of saying I agree with your positioning.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I would guess this for the 2016 lineup.

    LF: Soler
    CF: Almora
    RF: Bryant
    3B: Olt/Villanueva
    SS: Baez
    2B: Alcantara
    1B: Rizzo
    C: Castillo

  • In reply to John57:

    Same here, if Olt takes the 3B job. Don't rule our Vogelbach at 1B if we see Rizzo continue to underachieve.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    I think Rizzo will be just fine when he gets some protection hitting behind him. Rizzo is the much better defender in the field too. Danny Vogelbach, I have a hunch he will be on the bench and possibly the DH when the NL adopts it.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I guess you've already dismissed Olt. Olt is the key, imo on how all these guys fall into place. We are still a year away before a projection can be made.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I haven't dismissed him but, if I were forced to make a call on it, no, I don't think he makes it. There seems to be significant doubt about him from the prospect gurus tuned into his rehab progress.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If Olt can hit 265 with 20+ HR and a 12% BB rate he will becone very valuable specially with GG defensive at 3B.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I sure hope you aren't counting on Olt being the key to anything on the North Side until proven he fully has his batting stroke/eye back and starts producing again.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    And Baez with a gold glove? I can see you really do have a man crush with Baez. lol

    I've seen the kid play........ a lot........ and he's got some work to do if those expectations are to be met......

    Gold Glove...... hahahahahaha..... that's rich.......

    Sorry didn't mean any disrespect but rather a pause so we might be able to check ourselves before we put these kids into the HOF...

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    How could one get disrespect from that?

    This is Jason Parks on Baez from last April;
    Javier Baez (Cubs)
    Placement on BP 101: 20
    Current Level: High-A Daytona
    2013 Sample: .207/.242/.483 (13 games; 58 at-bats)
    Notes: You can make the case that Baez has the highest offensive ceiling of any shortstop prospect in the game, thanks in large part to his elite bat speed. Baez generates silly amounts of torque in his setup and swing, which can make a baseball have a sad if he finds a way to put the barrel on it. The biggest hurdle has been an immature approach to hitting, which is a very see-ball, hit-ball mentality, and Baez often sees the ball and attempts to hit the ball when he shouldn’t. So far in 2013, the 20-year-old prospect is continuing to show an aggressive approach at the plate, expanding the zone and giving pitchers a roadmap for his exploitation. If he can work himself into better counts and not forecast the fastball timing in his swing, he should find more contact, which would let his near-elite raw power find its way into game action with more consistency. On the defensive side of things, Baez is better than people realize, with whispers of an eventual move to the hot corner but more than enough talent to handle the demands of shortstop; his arm is strong enough to play anywhere on the diamond and the hands are soft and the actions fluid. The range isn’t special, and as he continues to physically mature and add muscle mass, he is a good candidate to lose some lateral quickness and overall speed. He could emerge as a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman thanks to the arm and glove, but if the range holds, he can stick around at shortstop for the foreseeable future.

    So, you're actually making fun of him, not me.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ok Mike, my fault. Let's engrave the Gold Glove in advance. Professor Parks word is better than scripture and all other scouts or my very own eyes mean nothing.......

    You're a funny guy.....

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Please link one of these scouts' reports that says Baez will be anything other than plus defensively at third base.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike I am not disagreeing with you. But until he gets time at the position it is all speculation. He visually looks like he can handle it but until gets time there I wouldn't say is a plus defender at 3B.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Maybe it can be softened to say he's a potential gold glove winner at third, but to mock him as a poor defender there seems a bigger stretch than to say he's a gold glove winner. The tools he undeniably has at shortstop -- soft hands, a quick first move, and a strong arm -- play just as well at third as they do at short.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    First off, I never said he was a poor defender. I said he has got some work to do.

    So lighten up Francis!

    Second off, I said I saw the kid play...... a lot...... which gives me a first hand opportunity to make an opinion. I don't just sit here and search all over twitter for what my opinion should or shouldn't be. I go out and see the kid play for myself.

    Thirdly, my opinion may change as well. Not as often as yours does which could change day to day depending on who's ash your trying to kiss on that given day.

    If you really want me to go back and give you references, maybe I'll do that concerning your flip flopping. That would be a whole lot more fun for me than trying to find an article to fight with you about.

    But then again, what would that prove? My opinion means the same thing as yours in this forum.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    If Olt doesn't stick at 3B there is also C. Villanueva. He is the best defensive 3B in the Cubs system.

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    In reply to John57:

    I love Villanueva as well but think he is a bit further away. I'm really hoping Olt wins that 3B job. Villanueva could be one of those kids coming up in the second wave. It's just hard to say right now.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He should return some significant talent. Young, talented, cost controlled contract at a premium position. I agree he will be a very important trading chip.

  • The Castro/Baez situation is interesting but a decision is still a ways down the road. Most times, these things sort themselves out and there is no real decision to make. Castro and Baez will make the decision through their play, in all likelihood. I could see either one of them being moved to the OF, 2B or 3B, or even traded, depending on what they do in the next couple of years. Hard to say what will happen but it's a nice problem to have in a lot of respects.

  • I would like to see the three lefty outfielders joined by 'in house' players Lake and Vitters. Vitters also could backup Olt and Rizzo, and it is now or never for him. There will be lots of competition for infield spots soon. It's too early to pick, but Alcantara, Baez,, Bryant, Castro, Olt, and Villanueva will all have their say.

  • The F.O. has already said that Baez will move and not Castro. Keeping Baez at SS maintains his max value. Having multiple middle infielders is a good problem for a change.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yeah, they're starting to hedge on that a bit. Not least in their leak to Gammons that led to his story.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They're not hedging... McLeod has always maintained that Baez could stick at SS. So has Tim Wilken who originally scouted him with Hendry. Do a google search and you'll find articles saying the same thing back in 2011 & 2012.

    Why Gammons treated that nugget like it was something new is beyond me, it isn't new info.

  • Interesting the article mentions Edward Mujica's 2.78 ERA. The site's philosophy is ERAs aren't a useful way of assessing pitchers. Granted, the article says his ERA may overvalue him; however, for those who know how evaluate ERAs, this isn't very good for closers. ERA's are only of value for comparing pitchers in similar roles. SP to SP, MR to MR and closer to closer. A 2.78 ERA is an excellent ERA for a starter who pitches multiple times through a lineup and is charged when his inherited runners score. But for a closer, a 2.78 ERA put Mujica in the bottom tier of NL closers with 20 or more saves in 2013 (7th out of 10). It even puts him slightly below average (25 out of 47) for all relievers with at least 60 innings pitches... which as I noted above is a bit apples and oranges. Mujica's one impressive stat last year was his low WHIP of around 1.0, although this skyrocketed in the 2nd half to nearly 1.5 WHIP. His 9 surrendered homers in 64 innings is also a concerning one for a one-inning pitcher.

    But like with all FA acquisitions it's all about cost. If he is low cost why not add him. But this is doubtful, given interest from other teams and most team's over-valuing of "experience" in the closer role (but interestingly not the Cardinals).

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    It doesn't have anything to do with how his ERA compares to other players, it's about how his ERA compares to his own actual performance. That is what we are always referring to when we say overvalued here, it's a comparison of results oriented stats vs. process oriented stats like FIP.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So I agree with your point that some overvalue Mujica, but that in this case, the ERA stat cited shouldn't be used his supporters as evidence of his great value. Yet you find reason to disagree with my agreement even there too. So like argumentativeness for argument's sake. Have I walked into a Tea Party lair?

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    The last month of the season most reflects Mujica's "high" ERA when he was coming back from injury. When you look at a closer or really, any relief pitcher, ERA is almost meaningless. When you're talking about 45-60 appearances, you need to focus on the number of quality appearances. There are so many more meaningful statistics than ERA. How about something like a 12:1 K/BB ratio for starters? That's a nice post and great research but ERA is not pitcher-dependent and I'd rather have a guy who converts save pops with a 2.78 ERA than a guy with a 1.78 ERA who doesn't. His job is to close games. Mujica has been very successful in set up and closing roles. He's worth a 2/$18M contract. If the Cubs can get him for that he'd be a great addition to the bullpen.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    There is no single stat that tells any player's whole story. ERA, K/BB, quality starts, OPS, WHIP, etc. Yes, one can throw out an entire month of stats -- of blown saves, or runs allowed, or high K/BB -- but that can be done with any stat to make anyone's season sound better. The Cardinals obviously find him an expendable, replaceable asset. It's not surprising. I wouldn't give Mujica $18 million when it is so easy to replace a closer with a young hard-thrower or find a Kevin Gregg looking to rebuild his value on a one-year deal. Every year, half the playoff teams feature a new closer like this. After DH in the AL, closer is the easiest position for a contender to replace from year-to-year so it rarely makes sense to sink so much money into the position.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    The Cardinals can let Mujica go because they have INSANE pitching depth, which the Cubs do not, not because he is asking for too much money or because he isn't any good. It's not surprising because tit's the truth.

    And all I said was that ERA, the most misunderstood of the basic, old guard stats, tells an amazingly incomplete story. It's not pitcher-dependent. It is almost meaningless. And all those other stats give a much better synopsis of a pitcher's abilities than ERA.

    And I believe every single teams in this year's playoffs had interchangeable closers but all were due to injuries, with the only exception being the Dodgers, who jettisoned Brandon League and his 22-MPH fastball and his non-sinking sinker and Detroit ,who could have easily won 10 more games in 2013 had they not opted to ignore the role completely until mid-season.

    Hashtag PS - Mujica is probably better than any relief pitcher on the Cubs roster right now. If they had a comparable pitcher we wouldn't have blown 18 lat-inning leads last season.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Difference of opinion on ERA being "almost meaningless," but confuse me not. I don't think it's the most superior stat, as I detailed earlier. My favorite at-a-glance pitching stat is probably WHIP. But as I said before, no single stat tells the whole story on a player. For pitchers, WHIP provides any interesting quick entry point for determining over/under valuing for me. But of course is never the final word. If it were, I'd be doing cartwheels over Mujica's WHIP. But I can't argue that Mujica would not be a positive addition for the Cubs. Personally, I'd spend my $18 million in a different way -- pumping it into quality veteran leaders and/or long-term pieces. Like Salty or Ellsbury if their asking prices comes down, or for a Travis Wood extension. But it's all fantasy league money to us fans anyways. Have a good weekend.

  • I could get Peyton Manning and Ricky Rubio as my Wing men and still not be able to pass enough on Edwin Mujica.

  • In the likely event, at least IMO, that we don't make the cut for Tanaka, what are we thinking on next yr's FA SP crop?

    Scherzer is obviously attractive but in not sure that he doesn't end up back in DET. Homer Bailey is someone I'd have a lot of interest in. Guessing he might be traded @ deadline of CIN falls out of it, which I suspect they may.

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    Man, Scherzer is going to be expensive if he hits the market. Boras will hold out and look for huge money, especially if he has a similar year next season......

  • I've always been a big Castro supporter, but a potential Rizzo - Alcantara - Baez - Olt infield looks special. If Castro could get us an ace, it might be worth it to trade from a position of strength.

    Speaking of that, we are about to be in an unfamiliar position of having a surplus of talent waiting in the wings. So even if not all of the big guns make it, there could be a couple suprises out of the Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks types.

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    I dont know why you guys think
    Jstin Grimm can be a closer
    thats a pipe dream
    hes a 4A guy
    Period

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    His stuff plays better out of the pen. Is he a closer? That might be a stretch I think he is a good 7th inning guy.

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    I think you're basing that on the fact that he was called up out of necessity before he was ready. I'm glad you weren't in charge when Greg Maddux went 6-14 with a 5.62 ERA in his first full season. It sounds like you would have called him a 4A guy and shipped him off for a back up catcher

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I wasn't aware of that. What do you base your opinion on?

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    Going into 2013, I believe I've read that Grimm was highly regarded as a near Top 5 prospect w/in the Rangers system. The Rangers suffered an excessive number of injuries to their major league staff and likely rushed Grimm into service quicker than they otherwise would. Given that, I think Grimm's 2013 performance last year represents an important but incomplete purview of what kind of pitcher he may become.

    I lack the technical knowledge and general baseball experience many others here have, but I think/hope the Cubs development and coaching can, over the next year, raise his game and refine his approach. I don't necessarily expect him to blossom next year but I wouldn't be surprised if attitudes toward him improve.

  • Kevin, is there any consensus among you &your contacts on Olt's ability to get straightened out?

    His development would be so key, as it would provide an insane amount of flexibility for Theo/Jed. I like the idea of a lockdown defensive 3B, as well.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    No one knows Because its an eye sight thing. Its pretty much split.

  • The problem is that the question is better asked of doctors rather than scouts. Olt's problem is a medical one, and few scouts are equipped to make medical evaluations.

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    The Baez at SS thing baffles me. He's already racked up a fair amount of errors and I don't see him projecting at SS at all.

    He's already a good deal bigger than Castro and is still growing.

    I've read several times how Addison Russell is training to NOT put on muscle because he wants a body ideal for playing SS. He wants to be lean and fast.

    But Baez has power and obviously, visibly enjoys that power. He will certainly want to add more muscle to give his bat that much more pop.

    As he fills out, I think that will absolutely preclude playing SS, especially when you consider he is ALREADY considered to not have great range.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    While his errors were still high, he cut them down by a wide margin at Tennessee.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    His errors for the most part this year were throwing errors. Something that's not typical of him and are easily remedied. He admitted to pressing and seemed to be much better in TEN.

    He has been the same size for last year or so. Also his power comes from ridiculous torque which creates insane bat speed. He knows this much and isn't thinking he needs to beef up for more power. I've heard him say as much even.

    Castro's biggest knock defensively is mental/focus and not his physical tools. If he ever figures that out, then all of this is a moot point. But he's had time and still hasn't... In the even he doesn't, Baez can play a capable SS defensively. Having his tool would more than compensate for below avg defense, even at SS... but I think he'll be average or better.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Baez is not a big guy. He doesn't have the frame to add much in the way of bulk either. Maybe 10 pounds. Any more than that would be a mistake. I really don't know where these concerns that he will outgrow the position came from. I can't believe anyone who has seen him play in person can honestly believe that. If he doesn't make it as a SS it will be because he isn't talented/consistent enough, not because he is too big.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm with you. It seems as though these opinions were stated in his original scouting reports as early as 16. They've stuck and I no longer see the merit. The dude will be 21 soon and has been basically the same size for over a year. If he adds weight at this point, it was intended. But because it was written consistently from 16-19, everyone's an expert in human DNA and the Baez genetic tree....

  • Where is it said that his range is poor? Secondly, isn't it common knowledge not to put much stock in minor-league error totals-there are significantly more variable factors than in the majors. In Baez' case, I thought I remember hearing that he had a very, sub-par 1B @ either DAY or TENN.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    This is a generalization but usually shortstops have skinny legs/smaller backsides. Baez is gonna have some big hind quarters IMO and his range will suffer for it. I think he'll be sure handed and showcase a strong arm but when you think about what that package looks like:
    Strong arm
    fluid motions
    big legs
    limited range

    That's an ideal 3B.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    I worry he's a bit thick in the lower half as well. He still is just 20 years old so he may not be done maturing physically. I think he can play the position as of right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He might be able to play it for a few years after as well, but in the long run I think he moves off short, which isn't a tragedy.

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    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    I guess Ivan Dejesus was the exception to that rule. Especially in the era in which he played.

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    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Or ideal Cano-esque 2nd Baseman!

  • Has everybody forgotten about Christian Villanueva?

    It's Villanueva that is our best 3rd basemen defensively and has gold glove potential.

    It's Villanueva that set career highs for doubles (41), home runs (19) and games played (133) for Double-A Tennessee last year.

    It's Villanueva that was an All-Star in the Southern League (AA) at mid-season and in the postseason last year.

    It's Villanueva that led the league in doubles, extra-base hits (62) and total bases (230) while batting .261/.317/.469 overall in 490 at-bats.

    Mike Olt was a throw in on the Garza deal, and while I would love for him to succeed, he is pretty much worse in every way in comparison to Villanueva (Defense, Potential Power).

    If Olt doesn't win the 3rd base job in Spring Training then I hope that when they send him down to AAA that it is Olt that moves to the OF or 1st base not Villanueva.

    Villanueva dominated AA last year and he is going to be the starting 3rd basemen for AAA-Iowa, along with Baez at SS, and Alcantara at 2nd. I believe the 1st two at least will be up by September, maybe Alcatanra but I think the FO wants to get him more seasoning vs the other two.

    I love Kris Bryant but many scouts have said that he could be a premium corner OF vs an average 3rd basemen.

    I think it's a no brainer. You put the best defense out their you can.

    I also love Alcantara but unless Castro is traded (I doubt it, but anything is possible if the right offer comes along when you are rebuilding) then he will probably be the one to either go to the OF, become a super utility player, or get traded.

    I personally think we could get a haul for Castro but I wouldn't even think about it until next offseason. This year will tell the FO alot as far as what they really have.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Villanueva is a better defender, but if Olt's vision comes back, he has much better power potential. His AA stats (.288/.398/.579) dwarf Villanueva's (.261/.317/.469).

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    First of all that was 2 years ago that Olt did tha,t he was 23 at the time, and it was 95 games. Olt hit 17 doubles, 1 triple, and 28 hrs.

    Villanueva did it last year in AA at age 22, he did it in 133 games and hit 41 doubles, 2 triples, and 19 hrs.

    Villanueva does have better power potential then Olt, and some of those doubles will start to turn into home runs next year in AAA. Olt hit 20 doubles and 15 hrs last year, We will see what Villanueva does next year at age 23 - the same age Olt was in AA - I guarantee it will be better than that.

    Villanueva is better in pretty much every way.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    From CCO:

    The 25-year old would bat only a combined .201/.303/.381 with 20 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs and 42 RBI in both Double and Triple-A between the Texas and Chicago organizations. What has been glossed over with Olt is his defense, which at this point rates only average to below average. The right-hander has only a career .938 fielding average with a career-high fielding percentage of only .954 coming two years ago in High-A ball.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    We're going to use fielding average to determine defense? Christian Villanueva has a .933 career fielding average at third base.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Last year was a lost year for Olt because he suffered a severe concussion in winter ball that damaged his tear duct. We wanted to get him for Dempster and the Rangers flat out said no and offered Villanueva instead.

    IF he doesn't heal from the concussion, Villanueva is a better prospect. But the Cubs went back and got Olt because they are betting he will heal.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I love that you accidentally pointed out that at age 22 Villanueva hit 19 hrs in 133 games, and at age 23 Olt hit 28 hrs in only 95 games. If Olt had played in 133 games in AA that year and had sustained his hr pace, based on projections he would've hit about 39 hrs. Compare that to Villanueva's pace...and adjusting his projection down to only 95 games = 13.5 hrs. But yeah, continue to tell us about Villanuevea's better power potential. It's all contingent on Olt's eye sight...

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    You realize power doesn't just mean homeruns right?

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    OBP? Its not even close.

    And pretending that gap power will magically turn into home run power is just silly.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Pretending? It's called development and Villanueva has increased his power each year, why do you think that will magically stop right after he had a breakout year in AA? He is 22 going on 23 next year in AAA. Olt is 25 going on 26 coming off a terrible year.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    a 261 BA with a 317 OBP is a "breakout" year now?

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    No, the breakout comes when hits .245 at AAA and .231 in the bigs and his power tool diminishes to the 4-6 home runs one would expect out of a 160-pound extra infielder. I can't believe this debate is a real thing.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Why wouldn't it be a debate? Projections aren't that literal. They are based on past statistical trends. To argue statistical projections as if they are certainties is a misuse.

    Opinion differs on players all the time. Most feel that Villanueva can field the position extremely well. Whether he hits enough to play everyday is a different story. The odds are against him as they are with most prospects, but it doesn't mean he can't hit. And if he can hit enough to play everyday, there's nothing to say Villanueva can't win a Gold Glove. He has the skills and athleticism to be an asset defensively.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I agree that Villanueva is our best defensive 3B prospect and a potential GG defender. I disagree that he he will out slug Olt (assuming the eye issue is healed).

    Olt is a good defender, but I don't think he's as good as Villanueva.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I wouldn't say Villanueva dominated on offense either, but he did well and I like him. He is certainly in the picture. He is fun to watch at third base for sure.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    How in the hell is Villanueva a future gold glove 3B? Are you kidding me? Why are we even discussing this guy in terms of being potentially the best fielding 3B in the National League?

    This is where I have to say cut the crap. And seriously, Ghost Dawg, if Villanueva ends up as the starting 3B for the Chicago Cubs that would mean an almost systemic failure at all levels of the organization. His hit tool is a future 4/5 at best. His power is average. His arm is average. He is probably 3rd or 4th on the current 3B depth chart depending where you position Baez, SS or 3B

    Optimally Villanueva is Luis Valbuena. Realistically he is less than that.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think what Hoosier is saying is that *if* the hit/power tools played well enough for Villanueva to start for a major league team, his fielding is good enough to win a gold glove. I agree with Hoosier on that -- having seen him over the course of this last season, the glove is very good. I would agree with you that it seems a longshot at this point that he gets the chance to play every day and win a Gold Glove. His best bet is to become Mark Grace at third, but the batting average has to come up some for that to happen.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Well that sounds a bit pessimistic. Villanueva plays third with a lot of confidence. He is not flashy, but solid with a quick first step and Valbuena is probably a fair comparison. His offense is yet to determined, but he does have power. The thirrd basemen will show us who earns playing time. I wouldn't bet that Christian's time won't come.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Whoa there kid. Hold the phones.

    In all of this I never said he was a bad fielder. What I said was that casually throwing around superlatives like "Future Gold Glove Winner" is ridiculous at this point. So how is that pessimistic?

    Ghost Dawg has immediately placed him potentially at the head of the pack defensively of all current and projected third basemen in the National League and he is fourth on the Cubs depth chart and Hoosier Dude seconded that.

    I get the home team bias, but let's not go all Hawk Harrelson here. That is the longest of long shots. His hit tool will never carry Villanueva to the major leagues unless it is as a back up/role player. There is not one gold glove in this kid's future. Grab some bench.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    First of all I never said "Future Gold Glover" , what i said was "potential" gold glover. Secondly it was obviously in response to above comment referring to Olt as a potential GG.

    I'm going to remind you how you said that his hit tool will neber let him get to the major leagues and that if he is our 3rd basemen than it is a "systemic" failure of the organization when Villanueva is playing 3rd for the Cubs next Sept. and Olt is struggling to hit in AAA.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    He could be the third baseman next year but, if he is, it's because things have gone horribly wrong. The plan seems to be for Olt to win the job out of spring training and, if he doesn't, Bryant is on target beneath both of them.

    His numbers are very average for a third baseman and, as he's past the point where people tend to put on significant muscle as they grow, I don't see his home run totals ever going above 20. His doubles power and defense is enough to get a job on some teams, but probably not a team with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Mike Olt in its system.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Nice diatribe Canter. i base Villanueva's gold glove "potential: on the fact that many scouts and much more knowledgable baseball people than you say that he has gold glove potential and is the best 3rd baseman defensively in the Cub's system.

    On defense...

    Fangraphs, Mike Newman:

    "On defense, Villanueva is in the top three of third baseman I’ve had the opportunity to scout along with Marlins Matt Dominguez and Phillies Travis Mattair. He possesses lightning quick feet, soft hands and a strong throwing arm leaving little doubt as to whether Villanueva can stick at third base long term."

    SB Nation, Ari Berkowitz

    "Signed as an international free agent in 2008 out of Mexico, Villanueva has a nice line drive stroke that'll lead to occasional power. His third base defense is tremendous and coupled with a strong throwing arm makes him look like a potential future gold glove award winner. Since joining the Cubs Villanueva has doubled his BB%, an area of weakness for him. He projects to be a very good ballplayer for a long time."

    John Sickels:

    "Originally a shortstop, he moved to third base in 2009 following a knee injury. His middle infield background shows up at the hot corner: he is very impressive defensively, featuring above-average range, soft hands, good reliability on routine plays, plus unusually and consistently high double-play rates, generally a sign of quick reactions in a third baseman. He has Gold Glove potential as a third baseman if he hits enough to play regularly."

    Baseball America:

    Rated Best Defensive 3B in the South Atlantic League in 2011
    Rated Best Defensive 3B in the Carolina League in 2012

    And scouting Report from BA:

    "On the 20-80 scouting scale, one Cubs official described him as having 80 makeup, 70 defense and questionable power. Villanueva's short stroke is conducive to line drives more than longballs, and he tends to inside-out quality fastballs and serve them to the opposite field. He has the potential for average power, but he'll have to get stronger and turn on more pitches to get there. He can hit for solid average and provide some doubles. He has fringy speed but has the instincts to steal bases if the defense doesn't pay attention to him. Defense is where Villanueva really shines. He has the first-step quickness, hands, arm strength and savvy to make tough plays look routine. Chicago added him to its 40-man roster and will send him to Double-A in 2013. He could get a big league audition sometime the following year."

    Scouting Book:

    "CV, who was a malnourished-looking 150lbs when he signed, has been bulking up as hoped, adding strength while still smashing baseballs with quick, easy power. Even his smooth defensive play hasn't suffered: he still looks pretty capable of covering shortstop if necessary."

    So yeah Canter....You have no idea what you are talking about

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    RE: "There is not one gold glove in this kid's future. Grab some bench. "

    On defense...

    Fangraphs, Mike Newman:

    "On defense, Villanueva is in the top three of third baseman I’ve had the opportunity to scout along with Marlins Matt Dominguez and Phillies Travis Mattair. He possesses lightning quick feet, soft hands and a strong throwing arm leaving little doubt as to whether Villanueva can stick at third base long term. In fact, Villanueva’s defensive skills and body control are so strong, second base seems like a viable option..."

    Beyond The Boxscore, Ari Berkowitz:

    "The centerpiece of the deal was Christian Villanueva. Signed as an international free agent in 2008 out of Mexico, Villanueva has a nice line drive stroke that'll lead to occasional power. His third base defense is tremendous and coupled with a strong throwing arm makes him look like a potential future gold glove award winner. Since joining the Cubs Villanueva has doubled his BB%, an area of weakness for him. He projects to be a very good ballplayer for a long time."

    John Sickels:

    "Villanueva was signed by the Rangers out of Mexico in 2008. Listed at 5-11, 180, he is a right-handed hitter and thrower born June 19, 1991. Originally a shortstop, he moved to third base in 2009 following a knee injury. His middle infield background shows up at the hot corner: he is very impressive defensively, featuring above-average range, soft hands, good reliability on routine plays, plus unusually and consistently high double-play rates, generally a sign of quick reactions in a third baseman. He has Gold Glove potential as a third baseman if he hits enough to play regularly."

    "Although he has some issues to address, overall I think Villanueva is a solid prospect. He's at least a year away, but if no one seizes the third base job by 2014, he will certainly be in the picture for the Cubs. His defensive ability could give him an edge while he works the offensive kinks out."

    Baseball America

    Rated Best Defensive 3B in the South Atlantic League in 2011
    Rated Best Defensive 3B in the Carolina League in 2012

    and a scouting report from BA:

    "Blocked by Adrian Beltre and Mike Olt in Texas, Villanueva's chances for future playing time improved dramatically when the Rangers dealt him and strike-throwing righthander Kyle Hendricks to the Cubs for Ryan Dempster. He still has to worry about Jeimer Candelario and perhaps Javier Baez (if he moves to third base), but Villanueva suddenly has a lot more upward mobility. On the 20-80 scouting scale, one Cubs official described him as having 80 makeup, 70 defense and questionable power. Villanueva's short stroke is conducive to line drives more than longballs, and he tends to inside-out quality fastballs and serve them to the opposite field. He has the potential for average power, but he'll have to get stronger and turn on more pitches to get there. He can hit for solid average and provide some doubles. He has fringy speed but has the instincts to steal bases if the defense doesn't pay attention to him. Defense is where Villanueva really shines. He has the first-step quickness, hands, arm strength and savvy to make tough plays look routine. Chicago added him to its 40-man roster and will send him to Double-A in 2013. He could get a big league audition sometime the following year."

    ScoutingBook:

    "CV, who was a malnourished-looking 150lbs when he signed, has been bulking up as hoped, adding strength while still smashing baseballs with quick, easy power. Even his smooth defensive play hasn't suffered: he still looks pretty capable of covering shortstop if necessary.

    At A-level Hickory in 2011 he was overshadowed by Jurickson Profar, but Villanueva quietly put up a very impressive offensive line of his own, with 17 homers and 32 steals (in 38 attempts). His base-stealing fell off a cliff last season, but he still produced offensive numbers. He still has a lot to prove, especially once he sees some quality breaking stuff at higher levels, but if that power/speed combination holds up as his body blossoms, he could soon become a high-impact contributor in the new-look Cubs offense we're all waiting to see come 2014 or so."

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

  • As we've all pointed out , he'll have positional value @ friggin DH if he slugs .500+ like we hope/expect,,,......

  • Bruce Levine ‏@MLBBruceLevine

    Cubs still think Javier Baez is a future big league shortstop . That said they will consider moving him to second base if Castro stays.

    https://twitter.com/MLBBruceLevine/status/406524224312836096

  • Since the Cubs primary goal in trades is to acquire TOR pitching assets, then they will soon be considering trading Baez rather than Castro. Teams will be talking to them at the Winter Meetings, and Baez could bring back a projectable No. 1 from an offense-starved team, like Walker from Seattle or Syndergaard from the Mets. Baez also starts any conversation for an available MLB No. 1 like Price. If the Cubs then sign Tanaka and hold onto Samardzija, the rotation stabilizes and becomes very competitive that much more quickly. Having a Top 5 farm system gives them so many options and more money is on the way, but based on their rhetoric this offseason, I doubt they make a move with any core players or sign anyone to a huge contract.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    Baez is not going anywhere. He is our number 1, numero uno, prospect. If someone is getting traded, it is Castro. And even that probably won't happen in a while.

  • My thoughts-
    The Cardinals squeezed the Mujica lemon dry. He was a deer in the headlights in August and September.
    I don't care what position Javier Baez plays, as long as it is in the big leagues and he keeps improving on his plate discipline.
    Castro certainly changed the way he takes at bats. He saw over 300 more pitches last year, but his walk rate actually went down. The loss of Rudy Jaramillo hurt Starlin more than anybody. Just let him go like in September, he will hit .300 again.
    Yes, yes and yes to Ellsbury. Come on guys, Almora is 19, looks like a future quality player, but he is on the freshman team right now. Someone like Ellsbury helps the team in many ways, leadership, leadoff hitter, defense, winning culture. At 30, he has 5 good seasons left in him. Get him Theo.

  • No No No to Ellsbury. Almora will probably come up the end of 2015. Theo spend the money on Tanaka.

  • In reply to John57:

    What about the other 2 Out field spots? Can't have Almora & Ellsbury in the same OF? How do you know Almora won't be another Felix Pie, Brett Jackson or Corey Patterson?

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Ellsbury doesn't profile to be a corner OF. Do you really want Ellsbury a 30 to 34 year old CF for 150 million? That money would be better spent on getting Tanaka, a 25 year old TOR pitcher. We have multiple prospects to play OF. Ellsbury is a very good player when healthy but he is hurt a lot. I just don't think he is a good value for what he is asking for.

  • Life line-up wise will be much simpler IF Olt wins the starting 3B job to start out the 2014 season AND Baez & Bryant start out in AA or AAA.

    I predict a Starting Linup in the IF for April in 2014 of 3B - Olt, SS - Castro, 2B Valbuena/Murphy in platoon, 1B - Rizzo. I just don't see Barney (as good defensively as he can be) being slotted in as a starter in 2014. I think he is going to be released. I see 2B as being in a state of transition that sometime in 2014 will result in 'somebody' getting the fulltime gig. Might be Alcantara by end of season,.... might be Watkins,.... Might be somebody newly acquired.

  • 2014...Starting lineup...

    Castro >>> SS
    Watkins >>> 2B
    Lake >>> CF
    Rizzo >>> 1B
    Olt >>> 3B
    Sweeney >>> LF
    Castillo >>> C
    Scheirholtz >>> RF
    Wood >>> P

    Or something ...

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