It seems like a news and notes sort of day. This time instead of focusing on veterans and free agency, we’ll look at the players and teams within the system…
Cubs goal: Make less outs
One of the things that is often discussed around here is how the lineup will be comprised in the future. We concern ourselves with OBP, strikeouts, walks, power, and speed but Theo Epstein simplifies it even more –– just don’t make outs. However you are going to do that is up to the individual player. Epstein said you can live with the strikeouts if a player works counts, walks, and hits for power. He almost seemed to directly address Kris Bryant in that respect. The Cubs seem to be set in the middle of their lineup for years to come with Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant. Theo Epstein talked about those players and the possibility of other players joining the lineup in the future, players such as Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell.
Those two players represent two different approaches: Schwarber is very patient while Russell is an aggressive hitter but both should limit their outs. Schwarber will likely walk more often but Russell is the kind of player that is expected to hit around .300. Combine that with an average walk rate and you may have both players getting on at about the same rate.
Epstein also addressed Arismendy Alcantara, saying he expects he will walk more as he gains experience. We’ve said similar things in the past in that Alcantara doesn’t have a naturally patient approach and that it is something he consciously works on. That being the case, he may just need more time to adjust and get comfortable with how pitchers are approaching him. Epstein went so far as to say that Alcantara does a better job of grinding out ABs than some of the other Cubs young hitters and has a better chance to walk more in the future. Sounds to me like they consider him a keeper and expect him to continue to improve over the next few years. He even mentioned as a guy who can get on base in front of the big bats — but don’t mistaken him for a slap hitting table setter, Epstein thinks Alcantara can hit 20 HRs a year in the big leagues.
Addison Russell: “Wherever they need me…”
By midseason we should be recovering from the effects of Kris Bryant fever. Not that he isn’t going to do well — I think he will, but you know how things go. We go bananas for awhile for the new guy, it lasts for awhile and whether he does well or not, we soon start moving on to, “Ok, who’s next?” mode.
“Who’s next” is Addison Russell.
We know who, but we don’t know where. Starlin Castro is the incumbent and the front office continues to say he is their shortstop, most recently 3 weeks ago.
“He’s our shortstop,” general manager Jed Hoyer reiterated. “And there’s a reason why we have Javy [Baez] playing second base right now.”
“Just kind of wherever they need me,” Russell said. “I’m a person that if you put me in a new environment, I’m going to try and learn about it and just get the job done. They haven’t said anything about me moving or anything like that. But if that’s the case, then so be it, I’ll take on that role and put something new on my resume.”
I was just saying today that Addison Russell is a 30 year old man in a 20 year old body, just wise and mature beyond his years. He is, however, the Cubs best shortstop right now, so that leaves the Cubs with an interesting decision, though it’s one that I don’t think they will address this offseason.
Wherever Russell plays, he is going to hit. As good a defender as he is, it’s his bat that stands out first. Here is what one player said about him,
“One of the things that I noticed most about him is when he made outs, they were really loud. I mean, off his bat they were just incredible. He’s a great shortstop. Really good hands. Strong arm. Really good kid, too.
“He’ll be great. He’ll fit right in. I’m excited to see him again.”
A player who is great, makes loud outs, is a good kid and fits right in?
The player who said that was Kris Bryant. I guess it takes one to know one.
Speaking of Kyle Schwarber, he will headline the list of players heading there this fall and he is presumably heading there to work on his catching. There was some earlier thought to Schwarber going to the AZ Fall League but it makes more sense to bring him somewhere where the Cubs can control how much time he spends catching. Besides, we already know he can hit and doing it again in AZ isn’t going to tell us anything new. Another factor is that he has basically played non-stop since he started his junior year at Indiana. This has already been the longest season of his young career by a wide margin.
The Cubs will also get a longer look at midseason acquisitions OF Billy McKinney, C Victor Caratini, and RHP Jonathan Martinez. Carrie Muskat also lists the 2014 draft picks who will attend…
I have some hopes of attending this year but with our travelling budget used on a wonderful trip to France, the spring seems more likely at this point. Still fun, but the instructional league is my favorite place to watch these guys.
Myrtle Beach’s TicketReturn.com Stadium rated as top ballpark in the Carolina League
So, the Cubs had pretty good reasons to move to Myrtle Beach. Theo Epstein has called the Carolina League the best league for prospect development. Now, Stadium Journey ranks Myrtle Beach as the best stadium in the best league — at least as far as fans are concerned.
The Pelicans have done an amazing job of catering to both local die hards and casual tourists. With the massive variety of food options and many entertainment options, TicketReturn.com Field is easily a premier minor league venue.
I didn’t need any incentive to plan a Myrtle Beach vacation but this certainly doesn’t hurt.
- Alcantara CF
- Baez SS
- Rizzo 1B
- Soler RF
- Valbuena 3B
- Castillo C
- Valaika 2B
- Szczur LF
- Hendricks P
You could make a case that all of those players will be on the roster next year, so this one will be fun to watch.
Hoping I can confidently say, “You better get used to it!” after this game is over.
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