Vizcaino a wildcard for Cubs pitching staff in 2014 and beyond

I’ve finally returned from Paris and recovered from jet lag.  Even in France I found time to read Cubs Den everyday as Adam, Mauricio, and Mike all did a great job keeping us all up to date.  I was able to keep up with the beginning of Spring Training from across the Atlantic.  It was a welcome break but I miss baseball and the community here.

One development that has me really excited is the health and development of Arodys Vizcaino, who was clocked at 98 mph yesterday.


For someone who is coming off of two major elbow injuries, however, the best news may be the simplest.  Vizcaino reported that everything felt good after his session.

Vizcaino is unlikely to make the team out of spring training, as he hasn’t pitched in live action since 2011.  But it may not be long before he’s helping the Cubs in some capacity.  If he continues to impress the way he has so far, he’s going to force the issue.  Perhaps with some time early in Iowa (or perhaps Tennessee if the Cubs want to keep him in warmer weather early in his comeback) he could be knocking on the door sooner than we think.  As long as he stays healthy, it is no longer an “if” about Vizcaino.  The question now is when…the all-star break? Maybe even May?

The Cubs will also have to decide his role in the future.  Starting him in the minors will allow the team to control his innings better.  The minors give the Cubs the advantage of being able to make him as a starter but give him reliever innings. With the depth at the upper levels, the team could have another starter piggyback Vizcaino’s starts.  To me, this is the ideal solution because starting him gives him ample time to warm up and develop a regular routine, which could help keep him healthier early on as he continues to gain stamina and strength.

But Cubs fans might be more concerned about what his future role will be for the big league team.  It may be too early to know that but Vizcaino may be the first Cub to break in Cardinals-style.  That is, his route to the big leagues may start out in the bullpen to get his feet on the ground and keep his innings count low early in his career.

As a reliever, Vizcaino looks like he should be able to make an impact from day one.  The high 90s heat and hammer curve ball give him two out pitches from the get-go.  But Vizcaino also has the change-up and the potential for good command that separates starters from relief pitchers.  The tools are there for him to eventually be an impact starter.

For right now though, it’s all about staying healthy.  The questions about when Vizcaino will make the jump to Wrigley and what role he will play when he gets there will eventually resolve themselves.  There is reason to start believing that when he’s ready Vizcaino will make an impact in whatever role he is asked to fill — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him give the bullpen a big shot in the arm by midseason.


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    Welcome back, and yes, the three stooges did do a great job of holding the fort down. As for Vizcaino, I agree 100%.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thank Mike! Glad to be back.

  • Hey John, welcome back!

    I've been a big fan of his and celebrated the Maholm trade to get him! The only questions with him are health... His stuff screams TOR impact starter, if he can stay there.

    There's actually a lot of good news coming out of ST so far. I know, it's ST and we're Cubs fans, but still. At least the good news reports are guys that are part of our future (Baez, Olt, Vizcaino, etc)

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier!

    I was excited when they got him instead of Delgado. Delgado was the safer pick up ceiling is much higher with Vizcaino. I also like the floor because if he doesn't make it as a starter, he's going to be one heck of a reliever.

    Read the stuff on Olt and I'm excited. I'm irrationally excited about this season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    irrationally excited?... That's a good way of wording it. I am too! I'm not too much concerned with W & L record, but if we can identify Olt & Vicaino as core pieces, see a rebound in Castro & Rizzo, consistency in Shark... we'll surprise a lot of people and be sitting pretty nice headed into the 2014/2015 off season.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    agreed. I tried pessimistic last year and that didn't turn out well. Happy to be back on this side of the spectrum.

  • Welcome back John. Just to let you know we all missed you and are glad you're back.

  • In reply to HankW:

    Thanks Hank!

  • Welcome back, John. (Nondorf, here. Switched to Teddy P a few weeks ago, and now will forever be TTP at The Den).

    My enthusiasm and optimism for THIS SEASON is growing. In July 2012, we were drooling at the thought of getting Olt. In August 2012, we were excited about Vizcaino and his ceiling. By August 2013, Olt and Vizcaino were largely forgotten due to injury and our focus and attention turned to and has remained, justifiably so, on the "Core Four."

    Earlier today I read somewhere that Olt is mashing the ball, is no longer taking the eye vision medication, and is feeling great. Now it looks like Vizcaino is healthy and soon ready to contribute, possibly in a big way. It is not outlandish thinking that just a few important "ifs" break our way and Cubs actually catch fire and surprise the entire baseball world.

    I can't wait for Opening Day!

  • In reply to TTP:

    Thanks TTP -- it may take me a while to get used to the change ;). I totally share your excitement for this season. I keep thinking the Cubs will find a few more core pieces -- and in the process of doing so, will surprise us with their performance on the field.

    Have read good stuff on Olt as well. Really hoping he takes that 3B job.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The question is how much surprise our team will give us ? I see although early an improvement can be had with a better balanced (L/R) outfield and Lake hopefully sustains the numbers from 2013.

    The catching improving,once again Beef adding on to last seasons games caught, although totally dependent on Kottaras giving him enough rest. Welington starts 130-5 and Kottaras the rest.

    The infield hitting enough to carry Barney's bat would be nice,or opening up 2nd. base for competition.I would like Watkins to given a shot at the job until Alcantera is called up.

    Pitching if our starters are pitching to 2013 levels would work, as our relief guys are going to be a vast improvement over last years group. All this as seen through the eyes of a 6 decade die hard.

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    Welcome back, John!

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Thanks Chris!

  • I am an old man, and went to the University of Tournai on the Belgium/French border in the early 70's. I got insulted and punched in the face as often as I could have desired. I hope your vacation was more enjoyable and the French treated you without the De Gaulle contempt. Of course the waiters probably haven't changed though :-)

    We all have opinions about this game, but opinion is different from insight. I lack that insight and really appreciated reading details like Vizcaino starting in Tennessee instead of Iowa, and starting with controlled innings to manage his health. Super! Logical to me.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Thanks Quasimodo.

    The French were very good hosts to us. It probably helps that my wife speaks the language and I can string enough words together to get around (but i fooled nobody with my flimsy accent). e didn't get the rude treatment some said we would.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the language piece helps out a lot with the french. I studied in Europe while in college and both the French and the Spanish expect you to know the language.

    Who would have thought we would get so cultured reading a Cubs blog. I told my wife this wasn't a waste to time!

  • I forgot to say welcome home!

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    I as well say welcome back John.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Thanks to both of you!

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    Welcome back, John. I think I'm the happiest person here that you're back rested and refreshed and ready to go. ;-)

    Regarding Vizcaino, I'm also quite excited about him. I'm hoping they treat him with the kid gloves this year and, at most, make him a closer, much like they did with Dempster after his TJ procedure. As the elbow recovers and if DJ can work on his mechanics to reduce stress on it, then maybe consider him for the rotation next year or in 2016. All of that, however, follows the biggest test of all: how does his arm feel today?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, you did an awesome job in Johns absence. Thanks buddy!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed. He certainly did.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks Mike for doing such a great job. I like the Dempster comp as far as a potential comeback plan.

  • Very excited about this year. It seems to me that there is a different attitude about the Cubs. Vogelbomb dropped 30 lbs and and that shows he wants it. The best farm system the Cubs ever had. So many possibilities and I think its a great time to be a Cubs.

  • In reply to rockyje:

    I saw that -- if he can keep his power and improve his defense, he's going to be a beast.

    This is a great time to be a Cubs fan. Hopefully we'll witness the rise of a great organization.

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    In reply to rockyje:

    i as well feel renewed Rocky, so I guess "hope does Spring eternal" in Cub fans breast. The most promising farm team IMO the Cubs have ever had in my lifetime.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Your lifetime has it been that bad??? I can't wait for the season to begin and I'll have a great time following the minor league boxscores. However this is the best place to follow the Cubs and their prospects. Some of the best scouting reports you can get. Take care pal.

  • In reply to rockyje:

    Really? 30lbs?

  • Welcome back John.

    One could argue the two biggest stories of this ST are Olt and Vizcaino.

    I am holding out hope that Vizcaino is in the rotation come April of 2015. Agree with the Cardinal plan - let him come up in late May and pitch out of the bullpen during the season, then let him start stretching out in Winter Ball and be ready to go at it next Spring.

    He could be a TOR starter that kind of comes out of the blue and has an immediate impact.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Thank Irwin. From what I've been able to keep up with, I would agree those two are the guys to watch this year and both could make an impact at the big league level this year.

  • If Vizcaino is healthy and does report to Tennessee, that rotation is going to be FILTHY. Every team is going to hate facing them. Vizcaino, Edwards, Johnson, Black and Pineyro?

  • In reply to jswick23:

    Tennessee is going to be a lot of fun to watch this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Usually they're always fun... Even during the days Colvin, Brandon Guyer, Brett Jackson, Vitters, Chris Archer, Cashner, Castro and others were there... Last season they were fun too... But I've never seen a combo of a solid prospect rotation (p Johnson, Edwards, etc..) and serious power (Soler, Bryant, Geiger) in that team... Add their patience to Andreoli's and you've got a team that can grind it out, hit it far and blow it past you.

  • John. You made an interesting point about Tennessee since it is warmer. Is there a chance he has an extended spring training?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    That is a good point as well. I can easily see that happening and him going to Iowa in May and then the Cubs by midseason. Probably depends on how far along he is at the end of spring.

  • Welcome back, John!

    Mike and company did a great job filling in, but you were missed.

    Nice to know I am not the only one irrationally excited about 2014.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Thanks Richard!

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    Welcome back, John! Cubs' Den wasn't the same without you. Not saying it'll be better, it just wasn't the same. LOL.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Ha! Thanks

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    Welcome back !!! ! A friend of mine told me Kalish is looking like he did when he was a good prospect with Boston. Don't be surprised if he makes a solid contribution this year. I know it wouldn't be a popular choice , but wouldn't have it been worth it to sign Cruz to flip him at the deadline? I know this draft is loaded with pitching , just thought it might be worth a 2nd? I know it is irrelevant now , just thinking?

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    In reply to Sportsgod:

    Two important points here:
    (a) The assumption is that he would have been willing to take $8 million or close to it to play on a team as far out of contention as the Cubs. I don't think that's fair.
    (b) Corner outfielders are rarely traded at the deadline for a huge haul. Last year we got Corey Black for a pretty productive Alfonso Soriano, even when paying most of the freight. Black is a good player, but nowhere close to a mid-40s pick, which is what we surrender to get Cruz.

  • Welcome back, Which non-roster players have a chance of winning
    a job at rp, infield and outfield. Also which are young enough to be
    kept at AAA

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    emart, barring injury or trade, I would guess just Emilio Bonifacio. If something were to happen to Russell or Wright, I could see Jonathon Sanchez getting an opportunity, but he would still face stiff competition from Rusin and Rosscup.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Thanks E. I think all the non-roster players are a longshot. Best shot may be Bonafacio for one of the utility jobs.

  • Welcome back, John.

    I was going to comment that "warm weather" and "Tennessee" have not been synonymous this year. But then I saw that Chicago's predicted high today is 24 with a low of 8, while we're expecting a high of 66 and a low of 35. So, I'll hush. Might be a good time for you to visit your brother in law, though.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Ha! I guess warm weather can be a relative phrase :) I'm vacationed out for awhile, but maybe later this year I'll make the trip to TN.

  • I think with Vizcaino, and maybe Armando Rivero, the Cubs bullpen could be throwing some serious heat this summer, especially if Rondon picks up where he left up.

  • Arodys Vizcaino has 2.050 years of MLB service time, all but the .050 spent on the Disabled List. He'll be optioned to the minors and will stay there until it's too late to be arbitration eligible next winter as a Super Two. Barring a truckload of injuries to our relief corps, He'll probably be in the mix along with Fujikawa and Rivero to replace the guys we move in July.

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    Great news about Arodys Vizcaino! A thought occurred to me. Shark has to see the talent that will be arriving in Wrigley soon. If he really does want to pitch for a winner and loves Chicago as much as he says he does, the Cubs have to be his only real choice as a team to pitch for.

    It's all about the money. So this season he will need to prove what he says he is, a TOR pitcher with consistency. If he can do that then I see no reason the FO wouldn't pony up the money to get this deal done.

    On the other hand, if he stays inconsistent as he was last season, the money just can't be paid for what in all likelihood is just another #3 type of pitcher. We have plenty of depth with #3 type of pitchers.

    Welcome back John!

  • I've been saying , since late last season, how critical Olt will be to this rebuilding endeavor.

    If he breaks through in the midpoint of vintage '12 projections (.250/.340/.460) with plus D, you have a critical piece of the core. Many have speculated that if he rebuilds value that Epstoyer would look to move him. I disagree . Given his makeup skills & relative maturity , with respect to our other top prospects, I think they hold on. In my view , Olt's development gives them the flexibility to move someone like Castro, AA, or even one of the Big 4-it'd be very grudgingly - to help fill SP void.

    If he doesn't break through, we obviously have great depth @ 3B but it'll sting. The positive domino effect from his possible emergence is tough not to get excited about......

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    I have to agree with you Carl. But I might add that Baez needs to prove something as well. He needs to cut waaaaaaaaaay down on the errors. It's really the only way you could entertain the idea of a Castro trade.

    This would probably be argued by both pro and con folks, I'm sure.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Castro is younger than Olt and already more accomplished, he also plays a premium position and even if you find a better defensive SS, you can still move Castro to 2B or even LF... Trading Castro defeats the purpose of rebuilding, IMO... And you could be trading Castro for a lesser and unproven talent... There's a lot to lose by trading Castro at age 24... We just need him to bounce back.

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    In reply to Caps:

    In the very short term, I think Olt emerging as the starting third baseman would be very nice, indeed. Combined with comeback years for Rizzo and Castro, that would give you guys on the corners who will probably both will hit around .270/.360/.450 with 20-30 HR and play excellent defense and a SS who hits .300/.340/.400 with 10-15 HR. Add in Schierholtz -- even with a slight regression -- and Castillo improving, and that gives you the outline of a very viable lineup.

    I'm not sure it's enough to win a ton more games next year, especially if Shark forwards his mail to Seattle before opening day, but there's some punch on OBP in that lineup. You could insert guys like Alcantara, Baez, and Bryant into the top and bottom of that lineup and start to put up big run totals in a hurry.

    And, as Theo was saying in the Wittenmyer interview, there would be less pressure on guys like Baez and Bryant coming into such a situation.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Very good, that would be indeed the best case scenario here if Olt fulfill his promise, plus bounce back seasons from Castro and Rizzo, it would definitely allow lessen that pressure for the guys coming up.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What is a decent return from Seattle for Shark assuming that Walker is off the table

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    In reply to Adare cub:

    Very difficult to say. Diaz would have to be part of the package as a high upside arm. Paxton would have to be part of the package to take Shark's spot in the rotation. Guerrero, Hultzen, and even Zunino are names to keep an eye on, too.

  • In reply to Adare cub:

    Looks like Seattle has A LOT of AAA arms some with mlb exper outside of Walker (Hulzen, Paxton). Seems to be a good team to deal with, if they would only part with their prospects.

  • In reply to rickmonday:

    Hultzen had rotator cuff surgery on October and missed most of 2013 with shoulder issues.

  • Great that you're back. I missed your writing.

  • Welcome back, John.

    If Vizcaino makes it all the way back to the rotation I'd be thrilled... But I think he's on the same boat as Rondon, in reference to the 2 major elbow surgeries, so I would be OK if the mold him as the closer for several years.

  • In reply to Caps:

    To be clear, Vizcaino only had one TJ surgery. The stuff last spring was to just clean some things up - not related to the tendon.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yeah, well, like I said, I'm speaking in reference to the part of the article that mentions 2 major elbow surgeries... The other one was not TJ but still required 3 months of recovery... Which resulted in 2 years of not pitching at a competitive level... That has to be a concern similar to Rondon.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Thanks Caps. I do know one scout who thinks he should stay a reliever.

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    Lots of things to be excited about already

    Olt mashing and good vision
    Vizcaino throwing 98
    Baez hitting video game bombs
    Vogelbomb 30 lbs lighter
    Castro in great shape and spirits
    Vitters re-committing himself
    Strop making a hitter like Baez look like a little-leaguer

    I'm drinking the koolaid.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I am more to taking the negative on the Strop vs Baez than the positive. To me personally it means that Baez has some things to work on against a guy that knows how to pitch. Hopefully he will be patient agianst hard throwers like Strop and let them come to him or we may be seeing the "BUST" factor that all these prospect guru's are talking about with him.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    That's something Baez certainly needs to work on, which is why he needs more time in A AA and is not ready yet... But keep in mind Strop makes even some of the best big league hitters look silly with his 96-98 mph heater and sometimes devastating sharp slider... He can mix in a change up too...

    So there might actually also be positives in both... Strop looking good and Baez learning how an mlb pitcher looks like.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    I think it's too early to take anything from that exchange at all, other than the FO/coaching staff probably arranged that match-up deliberately to give Baez a look at top shelf MLB 'stuff" right out of the blocks. Nobody is claiming that Baez doesn't have some things to work on, but it was his first AB in months... Let him knock the rust a bit before judging him and determining what he needs to work on.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'm not quite ready to drink the 'kool-aid',.... but I'm feeling more comfortable in thinking this club has a chance to beat my early Winter win projection of 75 or so.

    With some luck - and a run of general health not knocking out some of the position players or pitchers,.... this could easily be a 0.500 team.

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    One important point on Vizcaino: He accrued service time the last couple years while on the DL. That means at this point he is eligible for FA after 2017, only 4 seasons total. I do think this can be set back a year if the Cubs start him in the minors, but I am not certain what that date would be.

    He is also, at this point, arb eligible NEXT SEASON. That may not be a huge factor as he won't have the track record that drives up arb awards, but it's there.

    I wonder if the service time issue was a factor in a) moving him to bullpen, since the clock is ticking on getting value back, and b) will be a strong factor in sending him to Iowa to start the season

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    If Olt is what the pre-hype scouts thought he was (.260/.320/.450) with above average defense at 3rd is it enough to hold off the Baez/ Bryant at 3rd talk if they both are pushing to Chicago this season? I do not know. Olt was never considered a Uber-Prospect. He was just a solid offensive player that would have huge upside with his glove and enough bat to hold on.

    We need to remember that when we pencil him in at 3rd even coming out of Spring Training. He has 30 HR power but that is his ceiling. I am not being down on Olt just trying to get the reality of what his ceiling has always been discussed.

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    In reply to Richard Hood:

    At this point I think you really have to believe that Bryant is a better fit in RF for the Cubs long term. So that leaves the question, where is the position that Baez will end up?

    I for one think that Alcantara is the best fit for 2B. His speed and switching hitting ability is vital for the lead-off of this power offense. So you are left with 2 spots. It's either his natural SS spot or sliding him over to 3B.

    Somebody will get moved. It either Castro gets traded for a TOR pitcher or the much needed big left handed OF bat that would make the line-up more balanced.


    Olt just get moved to LF, the bench or a trade.

    Anyway you look at it. It's one of the best problems we have!

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    With his offensive ceiling is LF really an option for Olt? If he could be a perenial 30 HR guy then the idea of him playing the OF till Soler and Almora are ready is possible but no one has ever said that they think his bat will play like that. You are talking about a VERY GOOD to GOLD GLOVE ability at 3rd but a league average bat. I just do not see his future in LF on an everyday basis.

    Now kind of a corner super sub that gets 500 PA's between 1st/3rd/LF/RF I could see some value there but would you want a young player to get pigeon holed into that role before his first season in the majors.

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    In reply to Richard Hood:

    You left out the 3rd option I spoke of as well. A trade is also possible.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Where do you see Baez going this July when he forces his way up? My guess is 2B or LF, but those positions are temporary. I would guess he will end up at SS or 3B when all things shake out. Either Olt or Castro will probably be traded to make room.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Alcantara is probably the worst defensively out of our 3 middle infielders and the lightest hitting (assuming Castro returns to his old form). He has the speed and switch hitting advantage. But if I were the GM, I move him before I move Baez or Castro.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I would keep Alcantara for several reasons.

    1. We need OBP guys. He is one.
    2. We need guys who hit from the left side. We are very right handed even with him.
    3. We need speed. With speed and high OBP he will distract pitcher when our big boppers are up.
    4, Given the whole year at AAA to adjust to playing 2B, he will be fine defensively.

    But I definitely agree with you about not moving Baez. He has an astronomical ceiling.

  • In reply to John57:

    I didn't say I didn't like Alcantara, but if Castro bounces back, there's no way I move Castro & keep AA. I see one of three scenarios for AA.

    A). He, Castro, Almora, and Baez all hit their ceilings, in which case Alcantara has the lowest ceiling... so I'd move HIM not 1 of my 3 All-Stars

    B). One of those 3 don't hit their ceilings for whatever reasons and he does. In which case he's an everyday player at either 2B or CF.

    C). He doesn't hit his ceiling, but becomes a utility middle infielder and SH/PR off the bench...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I really think Castro will bounce back big. He seems to have matured both emotionally and physically this offseason. But I don't think AA and Castro are competing against each other. The competition is between Castro and Baez. They both play SS. Which one do you keep? I think Baez has the higher ceiling. And I think AA has the potential to be an All-Star too at 2B. What the FO has to do is pick the 8 position players that mesh together to form the best team. Who knows maybe the infield will be Olt, Castro, Baez and Rizzo with Soler, Almora and Bryant in the OF. With Castillo at C that has the team with just one lefty in Rizzo. Do they want to do that? I don't know. I guess everyone will have to wait and see but it is exciting to me to be a Cubs fan.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Point taken

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I have never heard anyone specifically compare the three, but I would have thought from the general reports I have seen that at least at second base, Alcantara would be the best of the three defensively, with Castro second and Baez third.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I see this as pretty simple if everyone works out: As Baez and AA come up Baez goes to 3B, AA to 2B, Olt to LF and if Bryant makes it up this year he goes to RF if Soler also makes it next year then you can trade Castro or Olt (or both) in the off season/next year to make room for Soler in the OF and possibly eventually Trea Turner at SS if that's the way they go in the draft. Of course the chances off all these guys panning out are remote.

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    In reply to Richard Hood:

    Richard, Olt was, indeed, once considered a super prospect. (guess it depends on your definition of super prospect but I think two top 50 rankings qualify) He has been ranked as high as #22 prior to the 2012 season by both and Baseball America. He was ranked 43rd by both the year prior. If healthy, I see Olt at 3B with Baez possible at 2B and Bryant in RF.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Mike if you go to and look at the rankings for 2012, Olt is ranked #16. Being 16th best prospect should qualify him as a top prospect.

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    In reply to John57:

    Thanks John. I was using the figures I found on bbref. 16th is even more impressive

  • You saw different scout reports than I did.

    What I saw was projections of 260/350/480, with above average to gold glove defense. If he comes close to that (and that is an extremely big if), it will be enough for the Cubs to look for other positions for Baez, who has the ability to play several positions.

    I think Olt's ability to take a walk moves him up substantially in the eyes of the current front office.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    I like his walk rate before the eye injuries don't get me wrong just with average disparity between AA and the majors seems to be more inline with what I had seen than the projection you showed.

    I seen those same projections after his AA season where he down right dominated till his promotion to Texas. The ones I was quoting was from before that when he was the number 43 prospect.

  • Welcome back John. Sounds like a good trip.

    Anyone have any info on Arrieta and his shoulder?

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    From Carrie Muskat, yesterday afternoon reports : Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, slowed by tightness in his right shoulder, threw off flat ground from about 90 feet on Saturday.

    The key will be how Arrieta feels Sunday, Renteria said, before they determine the next step. So far, Arrieta is making progress, but whether he'll be ready by Opening Day has not been determined. He has yet to throw off a mound.

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    Thanks. Nothing yet...but I have to admit I'm a bit concerned.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I read somewhere that Jake thinks he just went a little overboard throwing too much too early. So now they are going very slow. He thinks he will be ready for opening day. I guess we will have to wait and see.

    And welcome back John, you were missed.

  • I still beleive Viz winds up a relief pitcher, his small frame and the power arm almost dictate that. Nor only is he likely a bP guy, but Id be surrpised if he pitches back-to-back games anytime soon, sTILL, stuff looks lights out. We havent had that since a young Kerry Wood.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He is listed as 6'0" and 190 lbs. Doesn't sound like small frame to me. But I would imagine the Cubs being very conservative with him and use him as a BP guy for at least 2014 and 2015. Now maybe 2016 they could stretch him out for the rotation if we are still looking for a TOR SP.

  • Hope you had a memorable trip to France, John. It doesn't surprise me that you'd make Vizcaino your first topic upon returning... his early performance seems to be the most promising item coming out of ST so far. Waiting for injured high-profile prospects like him and Olt can be most frustrating when the team needs impact talent, and the longest part of the wait seems to be over for both. If both were performing well in Chicago by June it would be a major boost to our lineup & bullpen. Bringing in Alcantara and Fujikawa would only help matters more. Can't wait for opening day!

  • If you are talking about this year, the odds of Vizcaino being a starter are almost nil. But I think the Cubs intentions with him are similar to the way they dealt with Dempster after signing him.

    Look for a year in the minors (2014)and/or in MLB middle relief followed by a year as closer (2015), followed by a TOR starting job.

    It may not work out that way, but I doubt that we will see him as a starter before 2016.

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    had an informational meeting with my son's travel ball team tonight - we have a tourny in Omaha during the CWS, tickets to that are included in our entry fee. Any tips or pointers about Omaha and or the CWS are appreciated. I don't know if any of our draftees will be playing, but john is there any chance of having a few words with them if they are?

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    In reply to SKMD:

    We had the same set up in 2003. That was in the old Rosenblatt stadium. To be honest, i don't really remember much that would be helpful to you other than that we stayed at the Country Inn and Suites (always did on the road) and in that particular one, a sweet little 93 year old lady named Ida came in to make waffles for the continental breakfast.

    As for the game, we saw LSU play (I believe) Rice. It was really hot and humid and I went through a $3.50 lemonade every inning.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Of course, that was ten years ago and Ida is probably making cloud waffles now. (Thanks for the waffles, Ida!)

  • In reply to SKMD:

    My son played in a tourney in Omaha a few years ago. You will have a great time! We were there before the new stadium but Im sure the atmosphere is just as great! I cant remember where we stayed but everything is pretty reasonable. We looked up some places that were on Diners,Driveins and Dives and ate there. Youll have a great time !!

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    OT question for the internet's smartest sports fans: I live in Northern Illinois. Just now I was outside with my dog, Payton. In the southern sky, but very nearly over head, was a large, bright body in the sky? Anyone know what that was? It looked too close and bright to be Jupiter, and it wasn't reddish like Mars. Mercury maybe? I have no idea...

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I was going to say Jupiter because it's at it's closest point to Earth in one heck of a long time. Today is supposed to be best time to view, so I'd say that is most likely scenario.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    Excellent. Thank you. I'll be watching for it again tonight

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Had you been drinking? Sounds like the moon to me.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    It was likely Jupiter or Venus depending on where you were looking. Saturn also out this time of year.

  • She would only be 103. My mother is currently 104 1/2 and still going.

    She doesn't make waffles that much any more, though.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    104 1/2. Wow. Good for her!

  • Welcome back John. BTW My name is Larry Cutler (no relation to Jay) I really hope Vizcaino has recovered well enough from his surgeries.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Thanks Larry! I hope so too on Vizcaino. We won't really know until he starts pitching in live games.

  • Welcome back John. Missed your morning write ups on the Cubs.

  • In reply to EasternCub:

    Thanks Eastern! Slowly getting back into the swing of things!

  • Welcome home, John. Glad to hear all went well for you in Europe. It's hard to keep myself from getting giddy over Vizcaino and Olt. Not that long ago, I was all kinds of excited over BJax thinking we had a young Jim Edmonds coming, so tempering my enthusiasm is still in order. However, this is an entire collection of young talent, the likes of which has probably never been put together before in our history. We will indeed see at least some of that talent come to fruition soon. Who knows? Even BJax may finally emerge. One can hold out hope.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks. I think we should be somewhat reserved about both players though the starts are encouraging. But you're right -- it was just 2 springs ago that BJax was impressing Sveum and a lot of fans.

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    You had me until that depth thing. Do you honestly think we have depth in pitching?

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    In reply to Dave Cookfair:


    With Johnson, Edwards, Ramirez, and Rivero(who they plan to make a starter) not far off in AA.

    Is this not depth?

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    The Cubs have tons of pitching depth,.... just nothing resembling an Ace starting pitcher.

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    Depth in the sense that there are alternative options and young pitching at the upper levels of the minors.

  • Welcome back John. I'm wondering why the Cubs wouldn't schedule an MRI for Arrieta? A projected starter with arm problems shouldn't be in "a wait and see" scenario IMO.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Thanks! I think they're going to see how he responds first. The fact that they haven't had one done yet is a good sign to me.

  • Gordo reported something about Mike Olt shagging fly balls during BP yesterday, with a bat! As in literally shagging fly balls (which is common for all players) but instead of a glove, he was taking a swinging bunt at them. Say what you will, and IDK about the merits of this as a normal practice... one would think there's lots of things that could go wrong here... but I think this says more than anything else about his eye/vision problems... as in they are PASS TENSE!

    He's got a few other obstacles, but if his vision is that good.... :-)

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This is the time of year when optimism reigns supreme and, right now, there's a lot to be optimistic about with Mike Olt. He's such a critical piece, too, because if he slots into third, the Cubs have a ton of options. The immediate result is that Christian Villanueva can be dangled to get either a pitcher or a left-hander for the outfield.

    Then, Kris Bryant can develop with Olt at third, When Bryant is ready, the decision can be made to either put Bryant in right and keep Olt at third, likely opening the way for Soler to be moved for a big return, or trade Olt for a very nice return and slot Bryant into third.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't like to use the word "Critical" for him, because he's not critical to our success... but his success certainly makes many, many more options available to us.

    I'm not really expecting him to break camp with the big team this year. He may completely blow them away in ST, but I'm not banking on it. He doesn't have the pre-requisite success or 500+ AAA AB's this FO requires so I look to him as a mid season call up. But still, if his eyes/vision are no longer an issue, one can't help but get excited about his potential and the impact it will have for us.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That's fair on "critical."

    As far as where he starts, there's kind of a logjam at the moment if he's in Iowa. I'd imagine they want both him and Villanueva to get starts at third, so perhaps they trade starts there and at first base (since Justin Bour is no longer there to fill in at first).

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It is a bit of a log jam, and they'll have to get creative for sure. But unless he's a finished product and ready to go from day 1, I don't see this FO making room for him on the 25 man... Then again, the career utility/back-ups manning the platoon that is projected may make their decision to bring him with the big club for them if all of them stink it up...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think for Olt & Villanueva either one to have any significant trade value, they need to show a track record of success at AAA and preferably even a successful cup of coffee with the big club. Then Epstoyer will be dealing from a position of max value on them, which is what we want.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agree there. My thinking was Bryant is likely going to spend all or most of this season in AA given Theo's recent comments, so that gives Olt a full season to establish himself in AAA or the majors. Villanueva most likely goes this winter if they elect to trade him.

  • If not critical for future success, a successful Mike Olt would still have huge ramifications throughout the Cub lineup in the next several years. As long as Bryant continues to improve defensively and remains relatively athletic, he's a lock for 3B and you figure Castro would stay at short with Baez moving to 2B.

    But what happens if Olt hits 25-30 HR and becomes a 3 WAR player? You can put one of them in the OF but in the next few years Soler and Almora should arrive with Junior Lake already out there. And then there's Alcantara. Sure, they can be traded but I don't think Junior, Arismendy, or Olt will necessarily net the TOR type pitcher we need. I guess a similar question can be asked if Vitters also started raking in the majors- there's only so many ABs available.

  • If as you say Olt hits 25-30 HRs and becomes a 3 WAR player at 3B, I would leave him there. Bryant would make a GG caliber RF. I think he ends up in RF eventually and is not a lock for 3B.

  • There is not a single player that is "critical." Not even Baez.

    That is the whole point of this rebuild. It is a given that some prospects will not make it. The depth makes that ok.

    Not every player can be traded for the fabled Ace TOR pitcher. If not enough prospects fail, then the excess will be traded for more, younger, prospects.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    That is a true statement-- today. But once the Cubs become a 90 win team, then Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Castro, Vizcaino, and every other productive player becomes a critical player. The significance of leveraged wins for winning teams is much greater than when a team wins only 65 games.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Even when we are a 90 win team, every productive player is not critical. If you have a prospect ready to take his place with comparable ability, then he is in fact a good flip candidate to load up on younger prospects. See Tampa Bay MO.

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