Looking ahead to the 2015 Cubs

While frustration mounts with another losing season, the Cubs seem to be going ahead as scheduled and positioning themselves to take a step forward next season, much like the Houston Astros have done this year.

Spring training will hold some intrigue as Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara will have had about a full season in AAA while Kris Bryant will likely have had a half season.  Some players, like Alcantara, SP Kyle Hendricks, RPs Arodys Vizcaino and Armando Rivero could well see some action on the MLB team in 2014 and head into 2015 with an inside track for a job.

The Cubs will have some decisions to make going into next season about who to keep, who to subtract, and who to add. Matt Spiegel of the Score started daydreaming about some possible scenarios for next season — and Jed Hoyer giggled.

Here are mine.

The names can vary and there are many alternatives, but the point is the Cubs have all kinds of inventory and payroll flexibility to turn this thing around if they play it aggressively this offseason.

First of all this is who I would keep.

The locks:

  • Anthony Rizzo
  • Starlin Castro
  • Welington Castillo
  • Jake Arrieta
  • Travis Wood
  • Hector Rondon
  • Neil Ramirez
  • Justin Grimm

Anthony Rizzo is tied for 2nd among all MLB 1B in WAR, behind only Miguel Cabrera and tied with D-Backs 1B Paul Goldschmidt as the best in the NL.  Starlin Castro is in the upper 3rd of SS but ranks as one of the top 5 offensive SS in baseball as measured by wOBA.  Arrieta has made significant progress with his command and Wood has developed into a steady presence on the mound.  The bullpen has 3 strong young arms to count on for next season.  Castillo is a borderline case as I do think the Cubs will continue to look for young catchers given Castillo’s inconsistency, but we are going to keep this with as few moving parts as possible.

The cost among this quasi-core is minimal which sets the Cubs up to add more experienced pieces via trade or free agency.

Role players who I would keep unless I can get better value in return:

  • Luis Valbuena
  • Junior Lake
  • Justin Ruggiano
  • Wesley Wright

I think Lake is a cheap bench piece who can help you with power and speed when he is locked in.  Luis Valbuena is still just 28 years old and cost-controlled for the next couple of season.  That is a lot of value and I suspect it is far more value than they can bring back in a trade.  His ability to play 2B, 3B and even SS in a pinch give him utility even as the minor league prospects begin to emerge.  Justin Ruggiano has shown to be a good fit, improving his approach, providing some RH power, and showing  the ability to play all 3 OF positions.  He is also on board with the rebuilding program and can be a good influence in the clubhouse.  I also like the idea of keeping a young veteran like Wright in the pen, though the Cubs have options if they can’t keep him.

That leaves over half the roster to figure out for next season.

Young talent who should be ready in 2015

  • Kris Bryant
  • Javier Baez
  • Arismendy Alcantara
  • Rafael Lopez
  • Kyle Hendricks
  • Armando Rivero
  • Arodys Vizcaino

The Cubs should begin to filter in some young talent either by Opening Day or perhaps after a couple more months of seasoning (and/or adding cost control).  Like the Astros, the Cubs can bring up two of their best prospects to fill a couple of holes.  Both Bryant and Baez are potential impact players in the middle of the lineup while Alcantara and Hendricks have a chance to be solid regulars who can fill spots cheaply for the next 6 years and give the Cubs payroll flexibility to add veteran talent at other positions.  Rivero and Vizcaino  Will give the Cubs an embarrassment of riches in the bullpen, so much so that the Cubs may seek to move one of the young arms into the rotation, most likely Justin Grimm and/or perhaps Neil Ramirez, both of whom started regularly in the previous season.  Rafael Lopez could be a factor as a complimentary catcher who can play good defense, show a good approach, and provide a lefty bat to spell Castillo or pinch-hit.

Trade additions and subtractions

It seems a foregone conclusion that the Cubs will trade both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.  We can expect the Cubs to add young talent that is close to the big leagues, so we may more to add to the list above.  We will have to revisit this piece after the trade deadline.  The Cubs may trade other players but I think only the two SP will bring back near MLB ready talent with impact or at least starter potential.

I would also look to move James Russell, Darwin Barney, Nate Schierholtz and Edwin Jackson because even if the Cubs don’t get great talent in return, they can open up some more payroll and roster flexibility to bring in other veterans who may be better fits for the 2015 team.  I may also consider trading Strop but I would want some value in return there, perhaps as part of a larger package.

What the Cubs might look like one year from today

By June, the Cubs roster could look like this:

Position Players

  • C: Castillo/Lopez
  • 1B: Rizzo
  • 2B: Baez/Alcantra/Valbuena
  • SS: Castro
  • 3B: Bryant/Valbuena/Olt
  • OF: Bryant/Ruggiano/Lake/Kalish/Free Agent veteran/Trade acquisition


There are obvious holes here and the Cubs need to address.  Keeping Valbuena, Ruggiano, and Lake gives them fallbacks and/or placeholders until the kids are ready while also being able to easily transition to platoon roles or roles off the bench if needed.  I think between Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, Olt, and Valbuena, the Cubs should fill the 2B and 3B spots and if they all work out then Bryant and/or Alcantara have the skill to move to the OF.

I would like to see the Cubs make a trade similar to what Houston did for Dexter Fowler, an in prime player with OBP skills for the lineup.  It cost the Astros a pretty good pitcher in Jordan Lyles in what has been a good trade for both teams, but this is why you build inventory/redundancy — to use those players to get a similar talent at a greater position of need.

In all, would like to see the Cubs add two veterans to the lineup — a top of the order hitter OBP type and a middle of the lineup presence to take some of the pressure off Rizzo, Castro, and eventually, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez.

Starting Rotation

  • Free agent/Trade acquisition
  • Travis Wood
  • Jake Arrieta
  • Edwin Jackson?
  • Kyle Hendricks/Dallas Beeler/Chris Rusin/Grimm/Jokisch/Free agent/Trade acquisition


  • Rondon
  • Ramirez
  • Vizcaino
  • Rivero
  • Rosscup
  • Strop
  • Wright
  • Schlitter
  • Grimm/Cervenka/Rusin/Hatley/Cervenka/Jokisch/Parker

Obviously the key here is to get an arm to replace Jeff Samardzija and possibly Jason Hammel either through trade or free agency, but the Cubs have some viable in-house options to slot in at the bottom of the rotation.

Spending the Cubs money and playing GM

I left a lot of names out just to show you what the Cubs have to build with but since Mike had some fun with speculation yesterday, I will have my fun today.

The Rockies are essentially out of the NL West race though they are in it for the wild card.  Suddenly their OF seems fine with Corey Dickerson doing a great Carlos Gonzalez impression in LF.  Drew Stubbs has had a resurgence in CF, and Charlie Blackmon is having a great season in RF.  That is a cheap, productive, in-prime outfield that has at least a few good years left in them.  Meanwhile Cargo’s salary is about to escalate for next season.

What if we forget pitching prospects and use Samardzija as bait for Cargo, maybe expand the deal and throw in Valbuena to solve their 3B vaccuum?  Rockies improve their rotation and 3B, their two biggest weaknesses, in one fell swoop.  The Cubs get a power hitting/OBP lefty hitting LF’er who is still in his prime and can hit in the middle of their lineup and provide their veteran presence.  If the Rockies want to keep Cargo and wait for the offseason, then look to deal for the future and get prospects,  then I’d (gulp) consider dealing Javier Baez or Jorge Soler.  Maybe Alcantara is in that mix somewhere.

Then you go out and get a veteran for the top of the order who can play CF and provide leadership.  Might I suggest Denard Span on a 2 year deal?  That should give Albert Almora enough time to develop and provide the Cubs with an ideal short term solution in CF.

So far, considering the Cubs are going to shed so much payroll (Soriano off the books alone pays for Cargo), the financial impact has been minimal.  In fact the Cubs probably come out saving money.

So go out and get Jon Lester — or at least make him your target with Justin Masterson as plan B (I don’t think they can get Max Scherzer).  There is your big FA splash, make that Anibal Sanchez-like push but this time close the deal.  If you can shed Jackson’s salary, then go get a 2nd veteran RHP, maybe Brandon McCarthy or an older short term fix like Josh Beckett on a one or two year deal.  Not sure getting Masterson in the second spot is possible, but who knows?  He has  close ties with this front office and if the Cubs can get someone to take Jackson’s salary, it could work.  But honestly I am not sure if I am all that comfortable with two long term SP contracts, so we’ll choose an all-out play for Lester.

Lineup* (Alternative Lineup below)

  1. Denard Span. CF
  2. Justin Ruggiano RF
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Kris Bryant, 3B (eventually, may start with Castro in this spot)
  5. Carlos Gonzalez, LF
  6. Starlin Castro, SS
  7. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  8. Welington Castillo


  1. Jon Lester, LHP 
  2. Josh Beckett, RHP
  3. Travis Wood, LHP
  4. Jake Arrieta, RHP
  5. Kyle Hendricks or Justin Grimm


  • Neil Ramirez
  • Hector Rondon
  • Wesley Wright
  • Justin Grimm
  • Arodys Vizcaino
  • Zac Rosscup
  • Armando Rivero

It’s one big trade, one big FA signing and two stop gap veteran FA signings — I think that’s doable.    And with those 4 moves you are suddenly not relying on prospects to be saviors.  There is still going to be lots of prospect depth if you have to trade a top prospect or two, especially considering Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel should help replenish the system. You will also get another early pick in next year’s draft.

Even if you can’t pull off the large trade for Cargo (or another impact hitter) then you can sub in Baez for Cargo and put him lower in the lineup –and/or perhaps sign Seth Smith or Melky Cabrera as a stopgap and stick Baez at 2B in place of Valbuena.  Like this…

*Alternative (and more plausible) lineup

  1. Denard Span. CF
  2. Justin Ruggiano RF
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Kris Bryant, 3B (eventually, may start with Castro in this spot)
  5. Seth Smith or Melky Cabrera, LF
  6. Starlin Castro, SS
  7. Javier Baez, 2B
  8. Welington Castillo

Eventually you replace that LF/5th spot with Kyle Schwarber and it works for the long term.  I could go on and one with different scenarios (i.e. you can trade prospects for pitching rather than sign Beckett or Lester, trade for Jason Heyward or Matt Kemp etc,) but I will let you do that in the comments section so that this article doesn’t end up being too unwieldy.

The point is the Cubs have the inventory and payroll  flexibility to reinvent this team with just 3-4 doable transactions, at least 3 of which can be short-term deals that won’t affect the long term plan.

No wonder Jed Hoyer is giggly.

If they can do either of those scenarios or many others within reach, then the NL Central title suddenly seems winnable while still keeping that long term pipeline in tact (particularly in this 2nd scenario).  Now if I can get the other teams, agents, and this front office to cooperate…


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    I like it. A lot.

    While we're talking about next year, here's a guy to keep an eye on if the Cubs draft in the 4-6 slot next year. He is the closest I can find to the Bryant/Schwarber mold in next year's draft. Doesn't have quite as much home run pop as the two of them to this point, but he does have power and shows an excellent command of the strike zone.


  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Looks to have some very nice bat speed.

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    I'm ready for some prospects to become productive Major League players.

  • Just read that Wieters is having Tommy John Surgery. Wonder if Cubs would be willing to pair Castillo with Shark/Hammel to Baltimore to really raid their system?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Why are so many infatuated with Weiters? We need outfielders that can hit and get on base!!!

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I can't imagine we would trade Castillo. He's not a great player, but he's cheap and under control and better than anything else we have in our system. We're trying to get players like Castillo, not trade them away.

    The other problem is that there is a risk that the Orioles just throw in the towel, or hope for organic improvement from Davis and Machado

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I wouldn't rule it out, but Castillo is hurt and it would preclude a deal from getting done quickly unless the O's are willing to trust he will be ok and take him as a PTBNL.

    And like Zonk said, he's an avg big league catcher making near the minimum. That is good value to the team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John... Not to argue too much, but Castillo is about to get a whole lot more expensive. Arbitration starts after '14.

    A point you didn't make - This roster might make it a whole lot easier to attract Free Agents. All of a sudden the Cubs are relevant. The chance to be on a winner is alluring to a FA.

  • I am ready to see some prospects come up as well. But I agree some players with a track record need to be brought in. Because unfortunately some of our prospects are just not going to be good enough and unfortunately we just dont know which ones are going to fail.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    Well put.

  • I am in favor of signing a #1 like Lester, a stop gap like Span and trying again to extend Shark closer to the trade deadline. I just don't feel like value is out there for a fair trade. I would rather see what Alcantara could bring vs Ruggs myself.

    Either of your lineups would be something to get excited about!

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Ruggiano has been a good OBP guy and I don't think Alcantara's bat plays well in a corner. If Bryant sticks at 3B, Baez goes to 2B, and the Cubs sign Span, then Alcantara may either stay at AAA for another year or become trade bait.

  • A fun exercise. Personally I'd prefer to wait until we know a bit better what we have that will stick before we start trading away prospects for high priced vets. Much prefer going after those vets when they are free agents and don't cost so much in prospects. Now if we had that roster already put together and only lacked that one or two veterans I'd say go for it.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    They could wait but I think they probably already have a good idea of which prospects they'd trade (if it came down to that).

  • In the last 162 games Carlos Gonzalez in Away games has hit
    BA .184
    OBP .250
    Hr: 27
    I think this is the reason Billy Beane traded him

    I would offer Shark $85M with another $15-$20M in performance bonuses.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    He had a .153 RC+ away from Coors last year. That is pretty good. Splits are never that literal. He is not a .184 hitter and then suddenly a .300 hitter in Coors. And most Rockies players do fine after they leave.

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    In reply to ucandoit:

    Given the finger problem, I think you largely have to look past his statistics for the recent past. As one observer pointed out, they're pretty good for someone that had an octopus growing in his finger.

  • I like all of the ideas, and almost all are very plausible except for maybe Beckett, just because I can't see him leaving a sure contender, but you never know. That lineup is super stacked, so I would Never put Ruggiano in the 2 hole. Way too many more at bats for a much much less productive player than the others. Many consider the 2 spot in the lineup to be the most important and that it should have one of, if not your best, hitter occupying it. Ruggiano is not that. Your OF acquisition or Rizzo would be better suited for it. In the same situation I would make the lineup

    1. Span CF
    2. Cargo/Seth Smith/Melky Cabrera (which ever is acquired) LF
    3. Rizzo 1B
    4. Bryant 3B
    5. Valbuena 2B
    6. Castro SS (pretty interchangeable w/ Valbuena)
    7. Ruggiano RF
    8. Castillo C

    Many more at bats for your most productive players.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Edit: After the super 2 date I would also move Baez up to play 2B, and move Valbuena into a super-sub role where he plays 4-5 times a week at either 2B, 3B, or one of the OF corners.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I think if Ruggiano sustains his OBP then I like him at #2. I can see your point about the ABs but studies have shown that optimizing your lineup doesn't make that big a difference unless you do absurd things like hit Castro 8th and Rizzo 9th.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I just like my chances of Cargo putting up a similar OBP while hitting a lot more XBHs with Span on to produce runs than Ruggiano. But overall if you're a manager, as long as you play the 8 most productive players, where they bat doesn't make a season altering difference.

  • Who will catch?

  • The Cubs need bats. Lots of 'em.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    They'll be fine with 2 from outside the org plus Bryant.

  • RIP Mr. Padre. You caused me quite a bit of pain, but you were a master and all class.

  • John, I like everything that you have outlined. How much will Jeff's
    value drop if they wait until Dec. to trade him. I'm for acquring young
    veterans no older that 31.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I thnk this year they may acquire older players to fill gaps since the kids are getting close. Only on short term deals of course.

    As for Samardzija, it will drip because it's 2-3 months less of Samardzija that a team will be getting, but the opinion of him as a pitcher won't change.

  • I wonder if you would be selling low on Shark considering Cargo's recent statistics?

    Not to say I wouldn't pull the trigger on it myself, but it makes me pause a little if he is struggling while playing in THAT ballpark.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    He's struggling more because of his finger injury, which has affected his ability to grip the bat.

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    John I agree with a lot of what your saying but I see the Cubs making a even bigger splash alla the Angles with Pujols and CJ Wilson because #1 the cap will be at a all time low and #2 they owe us as fans period to get this team rolling next year. I see them making a run at Lester 100% but why should they weak on the second pitcher. Go get Max Scherzer or Justin Masterson TOO!!! With 2 superstar pitchers are they even hitting 100k in the Salary Cap? Here's my Lineup to start 2015:


    Bonifacio. CF - Why not bring the table setter back???
    Justin Ruggiano or Junior Lake RF
    Anthony Rizzo 1B
    Kris Bryant, LF
    Starlin Castro, SS
    Javier Baez, 2B
    Luis Valbuena or Mike Olt (I'm not giving up on him at all - Look at Rizzo) 3B
    Welington Castillo C


    Max Scherzer , RHP
    Jon Lester, LHP
    Travis Wood, LHP
    Jake Arrieta, RHP
    Kyle Hendricks or Edwin Jackson


    Neil Ramirez - Love this guy
    Hector Rondon - CLOSER
    Wesley Wright or Armando Rivero
    Justin Grimm
    Schlitter - Love this guy
    Arodys Vizcaino
    Pedro Strop
    Zac Rosscup or Armando Rivero

    SICK Team -Capable of winning the division and the World Series. The only way the Cubs win a world series is if they make a splash with there pitching and go with a Young Power Laddened Offense and this does it.

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    Ha! You think bigm but I don't like expensive long term deals for multiple pitchers in their 30s.

    And that splash by the Angels didn't exactly work out so well :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The thing is they can go big now and should. They will have a top 2 or 3 farm and a competitive team in 2015. I agree the Angels route want good because they spent a lot of money on a guy that was on the just starting down side of his career (AP). But CJ Wilson's been solid for them and putting 2 solid starters at the top of this team would turn us around fairly quick. Plus they need some pitchers to show Edwards, Hendricks, and the haul were getting for Shark/Hamel the road to success. Why not two 1#'s to show them the way if they can afford it. This kills many birds with one two stones - 2 veterans that can teach the team how to win, create a really competitive atmosphere/great club house, and create a very competitive team quickly!!!

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    I really like Bonifacio, and everyone says he's an awesome clubhouse guy, but if you look at the numbers he's not as impressive as he seems when you watch him. Maybe it's the first week of the season still lingering in everyone's heads, but overall his OBP is only .311 which is pretty terrible for a leadoff hitter. And his career numbers don't indicate that he will correct it much.

    That being said, I still absolutely want him on my roster because of his speed, versatility, and what he is in the clubhouse.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I think he might be more effective if he didn't play everyday -- but even then, it means he is a utility guy, so they aren't going to lose a whole lot. Nice player and I would take him back on a limited role, but they need an upgrade.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You could argue that if Lake and Ruggiano are on either side of him, he's the one you need to upgrade most. But someone who can play every middle of the diamond position besides pitcher and catcher is a good one to have around. Just not to play every day.

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    So far I like your ideas the best. who cares if they overspend They should have some to give.

  • John, love this piece and the focus on actually taking big steps forward next year. Music to my ears!

    But are the trades of Shark and Hammel (especially Shark) really necessary to continue to acquire prospects as part of the rebuild? Is that why their trades are a foregone conclusion? Hasn't Shark's performance this year earned him the big deal contract we wants? I mean why not show Shark the money? Is Shark's trade a forgone conclusion because he wants more than the FO thinks he's worth?

  • In reply to TTP:

    I think the trades are a foregone conclusion because the Cubs have been unable to extend Samardzija and they only have 2-3 months left of Hammel.

  • In reply to TTP:

    And thanks!

  • In reply to TTP:

    I heard on the Score this weekend that he was looking for $130 million. Pretty sure it was Levine who said it. He didn't say for how many years.

  • I know there's been talk about trading for CarGo or Stanton... But how do you feel about a buy low candidate like Jason Heyward? How realistic would that be? I think he would still cost a top prospect, but more along the lines of Alcantara and Pierce Johnson rather than a top 10 like Baez.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I like Heyward but I don't think he'd be that low a buy. Would be very interested at the right price.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, he's having a pedestrian season power-wise and would be a free agent after next season if he doesn't get extended... That's why I said buy low... I guess that's more relatively speaking, based on Stanton's and CarGo's value.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I see what you mean. It's buying lower, though not necessarily low.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the idea of Heyward as well, but I wouldn't have a big problem with an overpay. It could be the Cubs' Jayson Werth.

  • A .500 pitcher is not worth $70-80 million

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Pitcher wins mean nothing in baseball.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    what was Nolan Ryan worth in 1987? He was just 8-16 that year. Of course, he also led the league in ERA (2.72) and strikeouts (270).
    Like nmu says below, Wins, as a means of judging a pitcher's value, mean nothing.
    Didn't Smudge lead the league in ERA earlier this year without a single victory? Which do you think is a better indicator of how he pitched?

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    I do wanna say that at the point when we're seriously talking about shipping out Baez or Soler for CarGo, I much prefer my solution of going for Stanton. Yeah, you give up more young talent, but CarGo's production isn't even in the same area code as Stanton's. So you're still losing one of the two highest upside guys of my Stanton proposal but not getting close to the return.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It depends how you look at it. If you trade Baez, Soler, Almora, Vogelbach, and P.Johnson for Stanton, and maybe Baez and Vogelbach or Soler and Almora for Cargo, there are a few things to consider. I think the production of Stanton alone is similar and maybe even less than the production of CarGo+Soler+Almora cheap for 6 years, and P.Johnson cheap for 6 years. (or the other scenario of Stanton v. CarGo+Baez for 6 years+ Vogs for 6 years+ Johnson for 6 years). It's what you prefer on high floor (Stanton only) v. high ceiling (CarGo +prospects saved on Stanton deal). The prospects won't all turn out, but if one of the two or three that you save on the CarGo deal turn into a regular (a decent chance) then for example I think CarGo + 6 years of a starting CF who can bat in the 2 hole (Almora) or CarGo + 6 years of a slugging 2B who strikes out a lot (Baez) is still worth more than Stanton alone.

    The other factor is that both players are injury prone, so putting all of your eggs in one basket so to speak with Stanton is mildly risky itself. With the CarGo deal at least if he battles injuries you saved three very good prospects. Stanton's outfield play is questionable as well. He has a cannon and is athletic enough to be solid now because he is young, but he is a big man, and a move to first base may be in his future to save his legs and to maximize his bat.

    I'd probably be willing to do both to be honest, but if both were presented I'd do the CarGo deal. It's a bit lower of a floor overall, but still has huge upside similar to the Stanton deal. You're still getting a very productive player and mitigating some injury risk by keeping 2-3 very good prospects in your fold.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Care to change your opinion after that at bat? :P

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Absolute lazer beam... Makin me look silly

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't really want to sell the farm for Stanton -- and I think Marlins may not trade him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You may be right but I don't think they're going to extend him. So if they don't trade him, we need to have the free cash to win that bidding war.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh they will trade him alright--beats paying him what he is worth. Not a Marlins move to pay anyone.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The thing is, as you know, most prospects - even the best ones - either fail or don't reach their ceiling. The asking price for Stanton may be too high, but I think one of the biggest mistakes GMs make is overvaluing their prospects or being afraid one of them will come back to haunt them.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactly. Go for the sure thing. The Cubs have been guilty of trying to save money by not going for the best of the best players for years. Even Soriano was 1A in my opinion.

  • Lot of nice ideas in the article and comments. I'll leave the talent issues to you guys and offer my my change(s) for next year. The uniforms. With the beginning of a new era, time for new looks on the players backs. On the road, I would go with the mid-60's grays worn on Friday against the Phillies. At home, they should be based on the 20's or 30's throwbacks worn earlier this season preferably with a darker blue.

  • I like some of the proposals you've made John. Some other interesting players would be Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Kenta Maeda. Earlier last week, I proposed trying to sign Lester, Maeda, and Markakis...and trading for Wieters.

    With Wieters injury I don't see that happening now, but signing Lester and one of Maeda/Markakis/Cruz would be pretty nice. I also wouldn't rule out Baez headlining a Gonzalez or Stanton deal in the off-season

  • Would Nick Markakis be a possibility in LF? I can't imagine the Orioles would be willing to exercise that $17.5 million dollar option. He's certainly not CarGo, but he's got a bit better track record of staying on the field, he works counts, he doesn't strike out often, and doesn't have the ugly Seth Smith platoon splits. Not to mention he'd cost 0 as far as draft pick compensation (though Smith wouldn't either). I know it seems like a David DeJesus move but I'd just see a bit more value in going that route.

  • In reply to JRS1:

    I think this is a very Theo-Hoyer type move. I'd put my money on this happening over a bigger name who is going to be more pricey in either cash, draft picks, or prospects.

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    I am not a fan of denard span. Currently sporting a 305 obp and 327 last year. He only swiped 20 bags last also. I would rather just let aa have a shot or at the worst plug Castro in again.

  • In reply to marcf:

    3 win player for his career. The guy can go get in CF and I'll take a .347 OBP, which is his career avg.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Span is a decent CF, but the Cubs are stacked with middle of the field guys. Give Lake a chance, and if he doesn't work out, there's plenty in the pipeline. Where the Cubs lack are hard hitting corner outfielders, so this is where they should concentrate on. I'd take Stanton over Cargo as a big move, since the Coors Field factor doesn't come into play. At that point, they can consider some stop gaps for RF (Kemp/Ethier/?) with more pop than the Cubs collection of AAAA players. Bonifacio is a good utility guy. I think they'll need Bryant at 3rd.

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    My O my how a year changes everything. Last year if anyone suggested that Baez might be part of a trade (even if it was with a "gulp"), he would have been attacked with pitchforks and torches.... lol

    But I really think you may have something there John. Baez has never had the approach that this FO really looks for. But if he gets traded (big if), I would have to assume it would be to the American league. Just so we really don't have to face him regularly.

    What about Baez and Shark to Boston for Henry Owens, Blake Swihart, Anthony Ranaudo and Brian Johnson. We would really give the rotation a shot in the arm and add a switch hitting catcher.

    Just a suggestion so don't shoot me. But then we have Bryant starting at 3B and Alcantara at 2B. Then you pick up Melky Cabrara or Seth Smith as you point out. You make the Lester signing happen!

    The lineup would have really nice balance and the pitching has many options. The overall strength of the club is much better, imo if you use Baez to get what you need.....

  • Cargo is hurt every single year.. let's quit talking about him please

  • If we trade Shark to the Braves, we should ask for Alex Wood, Lucas Sims and JR Graham

  • The Cubs have agreed to sign fourth-round pick Carson Sands to a well-above-slot $1.1MM bonus, reports John Manuel of Baseball America (via Twitter). He was taken with the 109th overall pick, which came with a $480.6K slot allocation.

    Baseball America and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis both listed Sands as the 53rd-best talent available. The lefthander, who had been committed to Florida State, reportedly has boosted his fastball into the low-to-mid 90s and has decent secondary offerings that he can command.

  • I love the Valbuena-Ruggs combo at 1-2, even when Bonifacio comes back.

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    Carson Sands signs for $1.1 million vs. a slot of $480,600. Leaves us about a million without taking the 5% overage into account. We'll also probably get some money from the Stinnett signing.

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    MLB Trade Rumors ‏@mlbtraderumors 16m

    Cubs To Sign Fourth-Rounder Carson Sands http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=38930

  • Hey guys, with Baez not performing as well as the FO likes, how is Albert Almora doing this year? I'd say make Scott Boras happy and either get him to AA, AAA or trade him. Include Almora in a package for Stanton or Lester. We all know Theo still has the hots for Boston players. As far as Span goes, he used to fly in CF for the Twinkies. Trouble is, he crashed into a moveable rubber baggie at the HHH Twinkydome. Bricks don't move at Wrigley, lol

  • Jim Callis now reporting that Steele signs for $1 mil bonus.

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    In reply to kSlee146:

    That's another 650k out of our bonus pool. Money from Stinnett and rounds 9 and 10 +5% overage should give us enough to go a million to Cease and call it an awesome draft.

  • Anyone interested in poking around @ eventual LAD OF garage sale?

    As I've said to John before, I could be interested in Kemp at the right price- in terms of $ back & prospects.

    That could be a great value. Health is obviously a crucial factor.

  • What are your thoughts on signing Nelson Cruz to a 2-3 year contract?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Can't field and the PED thing don't touch him

  • I think its too early to raid the farm for ML talent. Maybe I'm sentimental or believe that they are better than they really are but I would just spend on 1 or 2 pitchers, 1 outfielder and let it ride with the minor leaguers to take up the slack. Lets see what we have, evaluate and move on from there.
    I believe Olt and Lake still have something to prove, 1 more year and we might be glad that we didn't give up on them.

  • Does a guy like Carlos Villanueva have much value to other teams? Or even to sweeten a deal???

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    Nelson Cruz looks okay so far this year, lets see how he holds up the rest of the year w out PEDS.

    Also Melky Cabrera seems to be doing fine w out the PEDs

    Also, I think Colorado is set at 3rd base w Nolan Arenado who will be back from DL very soon. Guys on MLB network consider him a top 5 all around third baseman in the MLB.

    I really like the idea of getting a left handed power bat to compliment and protect Rizzo.

  • Does Carlos villinueva have any trade value?

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    Not a big fan of Shark and Valbuena for Cargo. Don't think that's a great deal. 7 years 81 Mil. for a mid tier talent? I'll respectfully pass. Not sure what this group likes so much about him, but i do know this particular group fawns over this guy. Had one special year in 2010. I mean he's good, but not that good IMO.

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    In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    7 years 81 million is a bargain in today's baseball economics.

    Look what Pujols and Miggy signed for. I can't imagine what Stanton is going to get if he gets traded to a team w money or he hits the free agent market.

    Mid tier player ? Last 3 yr avg

    .300 /.366/ .542

    25 hr 82 Rbi's and that's based on 124 games

    If he's healthy and can stays healthy and plays 150 games, those numbers would be much better.

    He just turned 28 so his peak years could be coming.

    I know health is the big concern, but even if you can find similar talent in the offseason, the price will be much much higher.

    Cubs need to find a way to get him or one of the dodgers surplus Kemp/ either plus cash of course.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Ok slightly above mid-tier. Someone who OPS's at under .900 to me is a very good player. Not elite! Premium pitching is MUCH more valuable than that and I personally would rather get a prospect package that exceeds the haul the Cubs got for Garza. specially the way this organization judges talent, and develops them. I would also point to his home/away splits. His numbers are pedestrian away from Coors.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    Id take Melky over CarGo in a minute. Fits better with this team and only costs $. I like Bryant and Baez to headline a future Cubs lineup.

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    And when Bryant is promoted to iowa I predict Baez will get hot.

    Concept of trading Shark for a real major leaguer is what I'd prefer. To the Jays for a pack of prospects seems more likely though.

    Why not bring Lopez up now? He's 28 and profiles as a back up-not much risk and couldn't hit worse than baker/whiteside.

  • My money says neither CarGo or Stanton ever play for the Cubs.

    Of course, I have no money so this does not mean all that much.

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    In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Few scenarios any of us think up actually happen. It's just fun to speculate and maybe some version of the possibilities might take place to some degree.

  • I would grab the guys who make pitchers work and can show some power.

    I could see this being the lineup.

    2nd Valbuena (L)
    SS Castro (R)
    1st Rizzo (L)
    Right Bryant (R)
    3rd Headley (S)
    left Markakis (L)
    Center Alcantara (S)
    Catcher Castillo/ Martin

    This line up has some power. Balance: 3 lefties, 3 righties, and 2 switch hitters Good OBP's: Martin (.351) Markakis (.360), and Headley (. 347)

    In this scenario Baez is probably going to have more time in AAA and Valbuena takes over 2nd full time until he refines his approach. I like Markakis like many others with his high obp and contact skills. I believe adding Headley improves the defense and he has solid numbers away from Petco. I also think he probably tries to reestablish his value on a 1 year deal.

    Also, I would consider replacing Castillo with Martin. Martin is an excellent defender with good discipline and much better framing than Castillo. It also buys us time to develop a catcher.

    Rough Estimate: Markakis 3 years 12 million
    Headley 1 year 10 million
    Martin 2-3 years 10-12million

    The Rotation could probably be filled with 2 guys from this list: Shields, Lester, Masterson, Liriano, Mccarthy, Ervin Santana, Billingsley, Beckett and of course the big prize Scherzer. Or maybe Hammels..

    I think the F.O. will find an underrated pitcher or 2 in this bunch.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Shields is the name I keep throwing out there. Might be 34, but hes a control pitcher who doesnt walk guys and has pitched well in big games. The other possible might be Beckett, who if healthy (a big if) can be a big-timer, particulary with a strong offensive team.

  • I keep going back to the stated acknowledgement of cost control as a priority for the FO. I just can't see them trading for a big contract/pending FA with a cost-controlled prospect, or multiple cc prospects as suggested.

    I can see adding a chippy veteran presence or two, a la Bream/Pendleton, but why change course 180 degrees?

  • Just saw this article but wanted to weigh in. I don't prefer Span to Valbuena in the lead off spot nor Cargo to Shark, so I wouldn't make these moves. Plus while the jury is still out, it seems you can keep Baez down in Iowa for awhile to start next year, so I'd be sticking with Luis V at 2b.

    I do like the Seth Smith or Markakis ideas. One of them could provide OBP from the 2 spot. (I have to admit I'm also intrigued by the Kemp idea some other posters have for LF).

    Also I'd just as soon have Alcantra or Kalish in Center than Span so I don't see much gained there at all.

    You nailed the bullpen and I can't wait to see that one.

    I would move Lake to right after Nate departs because I don't want to necessarily block Soler in right. Keeping Rugs to get some CF or RF reps is a good idea too.

    My line-up is Luis V., Smith/Markakis, Rizzo, Bryant, Castro, Lake, Castillo, Kalish/Ruggiano/Alcantra.

    Rotation is Shark, Lester, Wood, Arrieta, Jackson/Hendricks/FA.

    Don't know the deal with Maeda but he could be interesting.

    I think this provides potentially for the most organic change, which Theo has shown he is wont to do, supplements in the right places without taking on expensive contracts and puts a competitive team on the field without rushing anyone.

    Trying to enjoy the present while anticipating the future. Thanks.

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