Position-by-Position Preview: Castro and Baez subplot bears watching

We’ve taken a brief Tanaka-imposed hiatus on our position by position analysis, but we resume today with the position of shortstop.

Shortstop is spoken for at the moment by 23 year old two time all-star Starlin Castro, but things are about to get very interesting.  Javier Baez will begin the year at AAA and he will also play shortstop.  His stock is on the rise.

Professor Parks of Baseball Prospectus had this to say about Baez,

Based on recent conversations w/ industry sources, I think ranking Javier Baez #4 overall in MiLB is going to look foolish. Case for #1.

Something has to give.

The assumption is that it will be Baez who gives.  Theo Epstein has said as much    In fact, the news out of the convention is that Javier Baez will play some 2B this spring.

But anything can happen over the next season or so.

Scouting VP Jason McLeod believes Baez can be a shortstop at the big league level.

“There’s still some of the mental mistakes (where) you wouldn’t want to necessarily just put him right into the environment here,” McLeod said. “I do think Javy is a kid who steps up to the environment that he’s going to be in. Some (errors) might be lack of concentration. Some of them might be because he does get to balls that other guys don’t get to – he’s trying to make the great play and ends up throwing it away. 

“Do I think he can come up here and you’d want him to be the shortstop catching groundballs (at Wrigley Field right now)? I can’t sit here and (pound) the table today. (But) I think he will be that guy, (or) could be that guy, for sure.”

Complicating the situation is that Starlin Castro took a step backward last year.  There was a combination of factors here.  Castro came to camp out of shape, management tried to change his approach, and Castro had to deal with failure for the first time in his career.  He was never really able to right the ship.  There was no late surge to give you optimism heading into this season.

So, for the first time since his big league debut, Castro faces questions this spring.  Physically nothing has changed.  He hasn’t lost bat speed or athleticism.  He does work hard and he does care — though I’ve had some scouts suggest that he needs to mature a little.  But all the skills and athleticism that made him a core player and up and coming star are still there.

He’s still young, so it’s not shocking that he makes mistakes and loses focus from time to time.  People mature at different ages, but I also wonder if the old front office did him a disservice by rushing him to the big leagues.  The fans were getting frustrated with the team and Jim Hendry was feeling the heat, so the Cubs did what you should never do to a young player — call him up with the burden of rekindling fan interest and saving the GMs job.  As gifted as he is, Castro still had a lot to learn on and off the field when he made his debut just 2 months after his 20th birthday.

Castro was ready from a physical skills standpoint.  His plate coverage and ability to make consistent hard contact made him a tough out.  He started hitting from day one and didn’t really stop until around May of last year.  That’s when he struggled mightily for the first time in his career.  One of the unintended consequences of his early call-up is that he hadn’t developed the skills in the minors to work his way out of it.   He floundered, lost confidence, and ultimately grew frustrated.

The hope is that Castro takes this as a learning experience and does a better job of handling adversity the next time it happens.  Only time will tell in that respect.  The Cubs are making a preemptive strike by having him work with strength coach Tim Buss this offseason.  Get him focused early, make sure he gets into good shape, and perhaps help instill some of that confidence he lost.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a top 5 prospect at your position just one level behind you to keep you focused.

All of those things are intangibles and while those things are difficult, if not impossible to measure, we can look at what Castro projects purely from a statistical standpoint.  Steamer has the following projections for next season:

  • .277/.320/.411
  • 11 HRs
  • .319 wOBA
  • 98 RC+
  • 2.6 WAR

So what we’re looking at here is roughly a league average shortstop.  That in itself would be a boost from last season, but there is little question in my mind that Castro has the talent to easily exceed those projections.  He may have to if he wants to fend off the hard-charging Baez.

As for Baez, he also has work to do.  He needs to cut down on the errors.  Like Castro, he has the flair for the spectacular on defense but he too can lose focus.  His contact skills aren’t as good as Castro’s and his walk rate projects to be about the same.  The defensive potential is similar. Where Baez separates himself most is with his power potential, a tool that would be elite from a middle infield position.

Those are things he needs to work on at Iowa before the Cubs deem him ready for the majors.  The test for Baez won’t be if he can handle AAA from a physical standpoint.  He can and he will.  A pitcher’s raw stuff at AAA is really no different than that in AA.  He will crush mistakes at all levels.  For Baez it’s going to be about facing more experienced pitchers who will be better equipped to set him up and exploit his aggressiveness.

Baez will have to build upon the more disciplined approach he began to show at Tennessee late in the season.  He walked at a career high 8% rate in AA and there is some reason to think that rate is legit.  Baez’s walk rate has steadily risen since walking in just 3.8% of his plate appearances for Class A Peoria in 2012.  It has gone up at each new level and season.

But walks aren’t the end goal.  They should be just one of the many possible positive results that comes from developing a good approach at the plate.  We follow the minors here closely in our recaps and what we began to see was Baez working counts, getting ahead, and getting better pitches to hit as the season went on —  even before the walk rate reflected that improvement.  To me, this isn’t a fluke or something that has happened overnight, it’s been developing slowly but steadily over time.  He’s not ever going to be a walk machine, but if he can do it at something near a league average rate and at least get ahead in the count more consistently, he’s going to be a menace to pitchers everywhere.  Given that he shows the ability to have this kind of offensive impact from a premium position, Baez has the potential to be a monster.

Baez is also intelligent enough to know that pitchers will try to make him get himself out and that his power is a threat, so he will get pitched around.  He began to show signs of adapting to this reality midway through last season.  As Baez’s power began showing up with regularity, so did the walks.  It’s been part of his maturation process as a ballplayer — and thankfully the front office has let him develop that at a proper pace in the minors.  There’s no reason to think that they won’t continue to do so.

We won’t expect Baez to have the same kind of patience as far as his timetable.  You just hope he doesn’t revert to his aggressive approach and tries to blast his way to the majors.  You hope that he understands that what will get him to the majors isn’t the 450 foot HR or the occasional jaw dropping defensive play (though that is a whole lot of fun) — it will be consistency at the plate and the field.  Baez needs to continue refining his approach as he faces more experienced pitchers.

If he understands that, then things will take care of themselves and he may just force the Cubs hand at some point later in the season.

As for how it will work out at shortstop long term, it’s too early to tell.  There are too many variables.  The Cubs have two very talented young shortstops.  That is a wonderful luxury for this front office — especially if each reach their respective potential.  If Castro reminds us that he can indeed be the long term answer at shortstop, then Baez is gifted enough to play just about any other position in the field.  And we know his bat can play anywhere.  These things take tend to take care of themselves.

The Cubs also have other talented infielders knocking on the door.  Kris Bryant, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, and Arismendy Alcantara may also have some say as to how the final pieces will fit together.

So, for now, we have to be content to sit back and watch this play out over the next few months. In a season that isn’t expected to produce excitement in terms of win totals, the long-term shortstop situation will be a subplot well worth watching.



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  • I love the idea of Castro rebounding. What an opportunity for Epstein/Hoyer if he does! All we can hope for is Renteria reaching him and provide mentorship. I enjoy the fact that Tim Buss is checking on him this winter to make sure he is in shape. He is also past the sexual assault claim. I hope Castro doesn't put too much stress on himself to rebound and get in his own head a bit too much.

    That being said, I love the idea of Baez putting pressure on Castro. Competition can only be good. When was the last time in Cubs history when we had to debate over young shortstops?

  • In reply to Gator:

    You bring up a great point with Renteria and your other points here as well.

    The closest thing I can remember at my age to a SS debate was when Dunston took the spot from Bowa and when Castro took it from Theriot --- but I think that was more about feisty little infielders unhappy about having to move than a real debate ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Dunston /Bowa was the only one I could think of but Larry was already too old at that point. He was surviving on guile alone.

  • Question, John. Can Alcantara be that true lead-off man that the cubs have been lacking for years? If he can, why not play him at second, keep Castro at shortstop, move Baez to 3B, put Bryant in LF, Almora in CF, Soler in RF, Castillo at C, of course, Rizzo at 1B, and use Lake as super-sub and get him enough ABs by occasionally resting each of the others (except Castillo) by playing Lake. Bryant or Vogelbach at 1B would enable an occasional rest day for Rizzo. Vogelbach would also be PH extraordinaire. Olt or Villanueva becomes trade-bait. But the question is Alcantara. Is he that lead-off man, the table-setter? Does he have that make-up?

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    I like the way you're thinking. Don't discount Alcantara as a CFer. I would think he could handle that well until Almora is ready. I feel this is an extremely important year for Olt, Lake, Castro and Rizzo. If it goes well for all 4 of them (not likely) and Almora arrives, I like (I said "like", not "predict") this lineup:
    Alcantara 2B
    Almora CF
    Baez 3B
    Bryant RF
    Vogelbach DH
    Soler LF
    Rizzo 1B
    Castro SS
    Castillo C
    For this the Cubs need the DH to be adopted in the NL and they need an additional LH'd bat.

    Super subs or trade bait: Lake and Olt. If all the players in my line-up don't make it (which they won't because of lack of individual development, injury and/or trades, etc.), there's an line of additional talent developing behind them, future draft picks and additional talent from trades.
    In Theo and Jed I Trust. Go Cubs!!

  • Yes this problem of too many good IFs is one I never remember the Cubs having.

    My guess is Olt is going to get a hold of 3B sometime in the first couple months and he is not going to let go of it.

  • In reply to John57:

    That's simultaniously a 'worse-case' and 'best-case' scenario.

    But man,... if Olt is what he could be (or was once projected to potentially be),.... you have this year's immediate problem at 3B solved,.... and you have at least 2-3 potential guys you can either trade, or whom could fill in for him at 3B if he were to be traded, and fill up some more holes in the system.

    Especially if you could flip one of the 3B cadre for a major-league projectable starting pitcher or two.

    It means that the Theo/Hoyer brain trust gets a chance to show us what they really can do once given a stocked system.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I would think Castro would eventually be traded when he rights the ship. He would bring the most talent back since he is a two time all star who is young and cost controlled. Then Baez could take over SS, Alcantara goes to 2B and Bryant has to go to RF.

  • In reply to John57:

    I am a fan of Castro John57,.... and I would love to see him play on this team for years to come.

    But you are absolutely correct. IF he get it together, AND Baez is knocking at the door by end of this season - he's the most valuable trading chip if anybody is going to get traded.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    But who knows what will happen. Maybe Baez will struggle in AAA and Castro has a fantastic year. The Cubs have to be flexible to whatever happens and I think our FO will be able to handle whatever comes our way. These are exciting times for Cub fans.

    I was just thinking. What if Castro has a really good year, do you think the Rays would trade David Price for Castro one for one? Would be a way to get that TOR starter and a lefty to boot.

  • In reply to John57:

    If we want David Price, I would rather just wait until FA.

  • fb_avatar

    More Tanaka insanity. He posted on twitter he was undecided on what avatar to use. And it was originally interpreted as being he is still undecided on what team he was gonna pick. So people pulled back on that. Now the always "reliable" Jim Bowden said that Tanaka's family has it's heart set on the Dodgers. If he chooses to follow their wishes. This is really getting silly now.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    I'm thinking about putting up a Tanaka dedicated thread, but I needed a break from the silliness first :)

  • I don't know, even a .500 team can be fun to watch. And if we do land the big fish, there could be good reasons to bring some of the youngsters up later this season. Assuming of course, they are ready. There seem to be many guys that will get a chance to impress. A couple of good showings from say Olt, Lake, or Hendricks and who knows. I'm having fun thinking about it anyway.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    The way I look at it is this: If the Cubs are playing .500 ball because Castro, Rizzo, Samardzija, Castillo, Lake, and a young guy like Olt and/or Arrieta are playing well, then I'm ecstatic with playing .500 ball. Not just because it'd be nice not to lose all the time for a change, but because if it happens that way, that's going to get me really excited for 2015.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ya baby!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't understand the focus and all the talk about the Cubs being a long shot because they're not contenders... That was in 2013... The 2014 season hasn't started and while the Cubs are not favorites for anything, Tanaka makes a difference... Besides, the Cubs will surely contend at some point during the length of his contract.

    Either way, he makes a difference and I'd love to see him sign with the Cubs, but the Cubs can still rebuild and do well without him.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Absolutely. Still have to play the games and anything can happen in baseball.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I think the Cubs will be better than we think. I thought they were pretty decent the first few months last year. Would have been interesting to see what they could have done with a good bullpen, a healthy Garza from day one, and better years from Castro and Rizzo.

  • It is weird to think about where castro would be if our front office was in place then. He may have not seen the big before 2012

  • Not sure if it was mentioned but Kris Bryant made it to 2nd best 3B prospect in the mlb.com list.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Have not mentioned it. I'm preparing my own list. Really want to get everything set up by Monday, but we'll see.

  • I wasn't at the convention but can anyone tell me if castro stayed for the whole thing ? I see no interviews,or pictures after the opening ceremony.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Not sure if you'll read this Sean, but Castro was late to his autograph session. Someone in line said he did the same last year. Not that this means anything...

    On the convention, as I went with my kids, Brooks Raley did a fantastic job teaching pitching. He was engaging and is now my 9 year olds favorite player. Kottaras was the same way in the batting cages.

    I get the fact that Castro, Rizzo, and Shark would have been bombarded with autographs and such so they have to be a little less out there in the public.

  • Thanks for that comprehensive and realistic look at our young shortstops John. Both have some work ahead of them. I thing Javy will need most of his AAA reps to refine those important skills. Starlin could just all at once figure it out and realize that he has all that he needs to be successful.

  • Great article, John! One of the best possible problems to have in the game.

    I think Starlin' s contract hangover bares mention as well as his off the field problems. Things like girls pressing charges and dropping charges, people at Dominican academies suing for a bigger piece, mentors like Aramis and Soriano leaving town all wore him down. Then once the team establishes that it's going to be bad early on (the players can tell you by the end of April roughly how many games they can win) there isn't much left to play for if you've already signed your deal. He just packed it in. I'm hoping he has a happier life off the field. If he does I think she'll have his career year. He's got .313/.361/.441 with 18 & 85 and 25 bags in there somewhere.

    Since he's shown a propensity for immaturity I am more than a little worried how he'll handle Baez' s presence. To be an above average big leaguer on defense it helps to be a standout in the minors. Javy isn't that so I'm not really worried about him playing short. They'd know by now and I think they're just being diplomatic.

    For young guys like Rizzo and Castro who have their money, it's all about winning. If the team can get off to a solid, competitive start as a whole, I think those two will get better and better as the year goes on. If they're way out of it by July watch out for a couple of swoons.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    If by "packed it in", you mean quit trying, I saw absolutely no evidence of that. if anything, he was trying too hard and was too eager to please the various people giving "advice".

  • I'm thinking there's going to be enough stuff going on from the draft, the prospects and their developments, Rizzo and Castro's re-focus, back to what got you there and man did I learn alot last season so let's do it, breakout performances, to Renteria and how he hopes to mold, teach and show these young guys what big league ball is all about and even the wary old wrigley renovation thing. Man!, isn't baseball great? So much to pique our interests this season, let alone the fact that if things start to gel a little and some more wins start showing up, there's actually alot to look forward to. Let's do it.

  • おはようございます(^^)
    He's awake.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    LOL. What's for breakfast?

  • that's kind of cool. they have the 4th rated prospects at 1st and 2nd, ant the 2nd rated prospects at 3rd and short

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    I'm so glad to have something not T***** related to read right now. I've made it clear that I think Baez should be the shortstop. I want the best defender there, period, and everything else can be build around that.

    But I trust the front office and if they think the best way to build the team is with Castro at short and Baez at second, I say let's see what happens. I just hope Jason McLeod's voice is heard on this.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I have them rated about evenly. Castro has the edge in range, fluidity, and overall feel to playing SS while Baez has the instincts, demeanor, and slightly better focus over Starlin. IMO you can't go wrong with either one. Castro's bat plays the best at SS whereas it doesn't matter where Baez plays. Thats the defining factor for me.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    You can't just hand the job to Baez at SS. Castro nailed it down and was rewarded with a big contract. For Baez to be our SS, he has to take it from Castro by outplaying Castro.

    But here's a thought. If (big if) that does occur, does Castro start to pout about losing "his" position? His immaturity could be his downfall in this whole situation. Would the Cubs want a disgruntle Castro in the clubhouse?

    That would be something that needs to be carefully watched, imo

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    Agreed. Castro has earned the right that, if all things were equal defensively, he should be the SS. Heck, even if Baez is slightly better Castro should still be the SS for morales sake. Maybe Baez would be a much better second baseman than Castro so the slight increase at SS would mean nothing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I get what you're saying about Baez at second, but that's where I disagree. I want the absolute best possible defensive shortstop on the field because that position is so important, and then everything else places around that person.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    If eventually Castro will be traded, as many think, the best way to enhance his value is to play him at shortstop.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, I've heard people argue both sides of the debate, but I think Castro is the better shortstop. His range is quite good as evidenced by him leading the league in 2011& 2012 in assists, put outs, total chances and range factor.
    He also seems to be cutting down on the mistakes the older he gets. I think the best thing to do is leave him where he is unless he shows signs of regression.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Agreed. If he can maintain his focus - like he did a large piece of the middle of last season - Castro's going to be a fine (and improving) SS for years to come.

    He'll probably never be a GG guy - but better than league average and fun to watch.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What leads you to believe Baez will be the better defender?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben20:

    Both having seen them both play and the opinions of prospect gurus. I looked for them and, unfortunately, the only one I could find was this: http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/09/would-the-cubs-be-better-off-with-baez-at-ss-and-castro-at-2b/

  • Question -- how much does Baez's value change if he ends up at 3B? How about 2B?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Value at 3rd with his bat profiles into a middle-of-the-order power-hitting 3B with good D. Pretty high in value but not as much as playing up the middle.

    It's 2B where his value skyrockets. I can't name a single 2B playing right now bar Robinson Cano who could make a bigger impact with the bat than Baez potentially could. SS has guys like Tulo, Hanley, Desmond, etc who put up big offensive numbers. At 2B you could be looking at a potential MVP-caliber player every year.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Pretty much zero. He is an MVP level player at any of the three positions. Obviously SS/2B is better in regard to positional value, but not so much as to make a difference. 3B has a few more top level offensive talents than the middle infield, but the overall positional average is still well below what Baez is capable of.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    He'll be more valuable from a WAR standpoint at 2B but he should play wherever the Cubs need him, they're not going to put him at 2B just because his bat is more valuable their compared to other 2B.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    In the near term, it would not affect his value at all. Anyone that wanted to trade for him would be looking for him to play shortstop anyway.

  • Sorry to go back to T********. Earlier today the SCORE quoted the YES network out of N.Y. which I guess is the N.Y. sports network or something that he was down to either the Yanks or Cubs. Be nice if true, I was most worried about the Evil Empire West.

  • In reply to ruby2626:

    The YES Network is the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, the channel created in 2002 by the Yankees to broadcast their games and now the Nets games too. It's the same thing the Cubs want to do after 2019 when the CSN deal ends. I would imagine they might have the Blackhawks as a partner and either Comcast/NBC or Fox as the 3rd member.

  • In reply to ruby2626:

    Recycled rumors. I know the source on that one. I took it as speculation.

  • fb_avatar

    Starlin was fine until Dale or someone messed with him

    there is nothing wrong with being a "hit collector" if you are close to 200 hits a year - will most likely get Biggio into the HOF.

    I would think IF Baez pushes the issue - Castro could easily move to 2nd. Based on last 2 years from Barney - we would love 200 hits from our 2nd baseman.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    In theory, or on paper he could easily be a good second baseman. Any SS in the game would pretty much fit that bill. In reality I don't think that would be as easy as it sounds. It's not like he's an A Rod or Cal on the downside of his career and needs to move off of SS and does so voluntarily. That move would essentially be the demotion of a young player in favor of another unproven young player who is similar and maybe worse on D. It would likely cost him several million on his next deal as SS' s are generally worth more. I don't think he'd handle it and it would be an ugly episode.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    True, Biggio did walk a lot more, though. I'd take more .300 seasons and an average walk rate and double digit HRs. That's a very good bat at SS.

  • I dont like the idea of moving castro off SS. If Baez was a GG defender it would be one thing, but it sounds like they are neck and neck. I think it could ruin castro's confidence and i would feel better about baez learning a new position. I do think castro in the outfield would be interesting but unlikely.

  • If Castro went to the outfield it would have to be as a center fielder as his bat doesn't play well on the corners IMO,but Pierre and his noodle arm did play LF later in his career ,so who knows ? Makes me think of somebody pounding the wrong piece into a jigsaw puzzle.

  • I am seeing it in a lot of comments about the maturity concern with both players. I wonder if it will come down to whoever is mature enough to make the position switch rather than their natural ability to?

  • In reply to Gator:

    I don't see it as major concern. They're both good kids. Just young.

  • fb_avatar

    I suppose if you look at it this way, Sandberg was moved to 3B because SS was blocked by the mighty Larry Bowa.

    On another note, I think it makes the most sense to move Baez, who will have the luxury of learning his new position in the minors, which exist for the sole purpose of developing players, as opposed to the major league level as Castro would have to do.

  • The only way that Baez winds up at SS is if Castro is bad and goes away.

    If Castro is good or better, why move him? He is more experienced and his confidence could be affected if the team moves him.

    But if Castro repeats this past season, then Baez takes his spot and Castro is dealt for a replacement type player.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I agree with you. I think if Baez is playing short Castro will be on another team.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    That's my feeling as well -- either that or hes just average (like the projection) and Baez and Alcantara are killing it in Iowa.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I would shudder to see that scenario play out. Trading Castro anytime in the next few years would be selling low, unless he plays to his first few years and re-establishes his value.

  • There are far, far, far worse thing to have than two (or more) ML-quality guys who could fill in for a single defensive position AND who won't hurt you offensively.

    Beaz and Castro

    Olt and Bryant and Villanueva

    With the 'extra' player being able to be moved to an alternate defensive position or potentially being traded for some other club need.

    There are worse things to have happen.

  • Well, Castro could have a good year and still be the second best option at SS, 2b, and 3b. Alcantara, Olt, Bryant, and Villanueva will all get a say.

  • So its about 1:30 in the afternoon in Tokyo. Anyone staying up tonight? I think I'm on a new insomnia streak.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John I was reading an interesting article on how he pitches, speeds and frequency of pitches I.e. Fastball , splitter, and shuunto is listed as he throws it 13.6% of the time. What is this pitch?

  • In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    IIRC, It's something like a screwball in that it breaks in the opposite direction as your normal breaking pitch. Circle changes have similar break but the shuuto is a pitch with more velo and some slight, late movement. I think the best description may be like a cutter but with break toward arm side. Purpose for that sort of pitch for RHP is to either ride it in on a right hand hitter or try to go back door and get a strike on the outside corner.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    By that description, Maddux had a similar pitch. It was such a joy to watch him pitch.

  • Then there is the possibility (however remote) that Castro bounces back, Olt locks down third and Baez and Alcantara treat AAA pitching like a bunch of Gingers and Daywalkers. That would make Castro a nice trade chip, move Bryant the outfield and make Villanueva and Solar redundant. No, cocoa. I did say remote.

  • I'm curious if anyone knows how to fix castro at the plate.

    He was swinging way outside his zone on low and away sliders (made we want to face palm picard style) and he couldn't catch up to any good heat.

    Was it his load that was causing him to be late on fastballs or was the he out of shape?

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    I think he was thinking too much up there and just got started late. He's an instinctual hitter and they took that away from him, made him look lost, slow. I think he'll be fine and something closer to his 2nd or 3rd season,

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    Ive given up on anything happening tonight. I've followed you and brett all day on Twitter and no good but dry eyes came of it. I think we get our TOR arm before 2015 no matter what. And by then we'll be littered with 3/4 types

  • In reply to NateDHummel:

    I was pretty inactive today because nothing much going on. Just more of the same --- one tweet he's going to Chicago, tnen NY, then LA, and then back again. Just keeping my eye on things. May run a thread tomorrow as he could well decide by then.

  • Could it be that we won't know about Tanaka until the deadline when the winning team has a press conference? It's been so quiet it occurred to me that it'll remain so.

    Maybe the winning team already knows and the whole wrapping things up is underway. If so any leaks could come from the losing teams and it'd start a process of elimination game for all of us on the edge of our seats.

  • Closing in on 5pm here in Japan, and a quiet day - nothing seems to be happening. (John, get some sleep!) Tanaka was working out again at Rakuten yesterday. I haven't heard if he was yet again today but I don't think so.

    I suspect he was still undecided and mulling over the teams & their offers today. Thursday in Japan, 12-24 hours from now, seems like when a decision could be made (my speculation). With him working out in Japan this week, I'm not so sure a press conference with his chosen team in the US is going to happen right away. I think we'll simply hear from the team/MLB first, and perhaps Tanaka will say something as well in Japan. Then a formal press conference & welcome next week??

  • Will Castro rebound to his "old" self? Will Baez respond to AAA? Will Alcantara make a statement at AAA? All these are very important factors going forward, of course, but I still think that Olt is the biggest factor of all. If he becomes a "must play" 3rd baseman, now we have a real situation to behold with our infield (given that the other factors are in play). This would be a great position to be in for the FO, but I don't know what I would do then. I'm too emotionally invested in all these guys to want any of them traded, but that may be the way to go regardless. Again, given that all these guys are playing well, who would it be? Can we give up a top of the order table setter who switch hits so Baez can play 2nd base? Boy, I don't know about that. Castro? Give up a proven 200 hit machine who is playing better and better defensively? Perhaps, but wow - don't know about that either.

  • DBacks are out of the running for Tanaka (per MLB Trade Rumors). Looks like Cubs, Dodgers, or Yanks will prevail.

  • It's over. Tanaka to Yankees. (per Rosenthal)

  • In reply to BarryB:

    Crap! (Just saw that too)

  • No Surprise! Now get some sleep John.

  • Who needs Tanaka anyways..

  • 7yrs/155 mil with a buyout at 4 years? I wanted Tanaka bad but that is a pretty high price for a pitcher who hasn't played in the MLB yet. Now all I want to know is what our highest bid was so I can at least feel confident we made a solid run at him. Here's to seeing what we have with Arrietta, Rusin, Hendricks, etc!

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    Way to go Cubs. Maybe Mike Krukow is available.

  • So far Rosenthal is the only source. Maybe he was smoking crack.

  • The first time Tanaka is at Wrigley while wearing pinstripes, I expect a high tight fastball his first at bat. I am kidding of course...

  • I gotta think the midwest is just a lot less sexy especially from the perspective of someone living in Japan.

    Screw him! There will be more chances for TOR pitching in the future, and the FO has obviously shown they are willing and ready to pursue it to the ends of the earth if that's what it takes.

  • So, next on the agenda - trade Shark. We'll have to brace ourselves for this coming year. As for Tanaka, you were right John. We really had little chance to win this one. Until some of the rookies start to catch on it's going to be tough being a cub fan.

  • It is an interesting dilemma. It looks like if Baez and Alacantra perform as expected and Olt surprises Castro will be gone. IMO we need Alacantra as the lead off hitter but maybe they will want to settle on Castro at the lead off spot and keep the 200 hits potential.

  • It's looking like another year or two added too the rebuild.There really are to few # 1's in baseball,but I wouldn't sell the farm for a Price or a King Felix.

  • I would say it looks like Beede in the June draft,but that means at least another two years before we could see him in Chicago, or who knows maybe 3 years.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    If Beede has really found his release point (as scouts have reported he has) then he could be a very fast mover. His 4-FB, 2-FB, CB, & CU are all plus to plus-plus pitches and are ready to go. When he maintains a consistent release point, he pitches with great command, his pitches become plus-plus, and he becomes all but unhittable.

    Of course the Cubs have the added bonus of Minor League pitching coordinator, Derek Johnson (several other Major League teams pursued Johnson who won National Pitching Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and was named top assistant coach of the year in 2010) from Vanderbilt where he was the pitching coach for 11 years and recruited Beede to Vandy.

    I'm sure both DJ and the Cubs are watching Beede like a hawk. If he does have his command, he could be the Ace pitcher the Cubs need to front the rotation. I think Beede could be up by the 2nd year come Sept. and ready to start a new a era for the Cubs come 2016 along with our top position prospects. I can dream anyway. ;-)

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