Monday Morning Musings: The 25th man, Coghlan, Schwarber, and the next plateau

The first thing I want to say is thank you to Chad “copinblue” and all those who contributed for their generosity.  It is very much appreciated as we transition into a new home, new state, and for my wife, a new job and position.  The transition has been a lot about getting ourselves settled and acclimated — and we haven’t had a lot of quality time to ourselves yet.  With our anniversary coming up in about 10 days, we’ll be sure to enjoy it.

The Cubs now own the 6th best record in baseball but they are still just 3rd in their own division.  Yet you get the feeling the Cubs haven’t clicked yet.  The best is yet to come, yet they are learning to win with the group they have right now.

The 25th man…

I’ve been thinking about the rosters and some of the questions that have cropped up recently.  The prevailing thought is that you go with “your best 25 guys”, whomever that may be.

The problem is your best 25 guys on a roster and in the clubhouse isn’t the same as your best 25 players in a vacuum.  It’s easy to say the Cubs should bring up Arismendy Alcantara or another talented player to contribute off the bench.  The reality is different.

The Cubs have a pretty set lineup right now, especially once Jorge Soler comes back, so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room when it comes to getting everyone reps.  Chances are if a player is on the Cubs bench, he will only see sporadic playing time.

I think we get a little too frustrated when it comes to guys like Chris Denorfia, Jonathan Herrera, Mike Baxter, and David Ross but the truth is that sitting on the bench for much of the 162 game season and then getting put into game situations with expectations to produce is not an easy job.  It really is more about a mentality than physical talent.  We saw that Junior Lake and Mike Olt were not able to handle that kind of role last year.  Matt Szczur struggled it with it this year.  Asking young players who have seen such little MLB pitching to be productive with no set routine is unrealistic.  It will take time before they can be productive in that kind of role and some never quite get there.

In the meantime, the Cubs have filled those spots with veterans who are accustomed to that kind of role and while they may not be any more productive than the kids, they can add value in the way that rookies cannot.  They understand how to prepare and establish routines.  They accept– and appreciate — their roles.  When you are trying to manage a 25 man roster over the course of 162 games, those kinds of players make it a lot easier to get through the long grind of a season.  Eventually the Cubs may need more production from their bench and I think they will upgrade it as the team gets closer to the playoffs, but for now they are giving the young Cubs what they need.

The Kyle Schwarber situation…

Meanwhile, players like Alcanatra and Kyle Schwarber are better off getting reps in the minor leagues.  Schwarber, in particular, is a unique case because he is learning a new position.   Schwarber can add a lot of long term value if he can catch — even if it is just for 5 years.  So the Cubs must balance that with the perceived need to have another bat in the lineup.

The question then becomes whether a potential upgrade on offense in the short term is worth forgoing the long term benefits of keeping him at catcher.

What has made it more complicated is the emergence of Chris Coghlan, who in the last 25 games has hit .315/.375/.536 with a 7.5% walk rate and a 15% K rate, the latter of which rates really well on this team.  Coghlan also has hit the lowest rate of softly-hit balls on the Cubs this year and ranks 4th in hard-hit balls behind sluggers Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler.

For the year, Coghlan is hitting .249/.320/.453 with 8 HRs in 201 PAs.  That is above average offensive production for the MLB this year (107 RC+ where 100 is average).  And while we don’t know what Schwarber would hit if the Cubs were to promote him and play him in LF, expecting a player with less than a year’s worth of professional experience to be a significantly better than average MLB hitter is asking more than you think.  In fact, ZiPS projects Schwarber to be an average (100 RC+) with a line of .234/.299/.427 and 21 HRs.  He also projects as a 0.8 WAR player over a full season while Coghlan has already been a 1.1 WAR player and we are not yet halfway through the season.

So it is not just about whether it is a good idea to forgo long term value for the sake of short term gains, there is a legitimate question at to whether or not Schwarber presents an offensive upgrade at all in the short term.  And while there is no guarantee Schwarber sticks at catcher if the Cubs keep him in the minors, those odds drop to zero if you give up on it now and make him your everyday LF’er.  They him and themselves toh see if he can catch.  He has made tremendous progress with his receiving and game-calling while his ability to control the running game is showing signs of improvement as well.  It is not out of the question he can be an adequate MLB catcher by this point next season.


That is not to say he can’t be up this season as well.  The minor league season comes to a close around late August and the Cubs can call him up sometime that month, by which time he will have had substantial reps — and may even need some rest after his first full season behind the plate.  The Cubs may actually be able to accelerate his offensive development by exposing him to MLB pitching while also accelerating his defensive development by virtue of the instruction that comes not just from an MLB coaching staff, but also because sitting next to smart veterans like Miguel Montero and David Ross can only enhance that experience.

As for the Cubs as a team, they can benefit from having another LH bat and a 3rd catcher on the roster down the stretch.  I would expect Schwarber to play more OF if he were to be called up this year, but his ability to catch gives the Cubs added flexibility.

I think if the Cubs can wait just a couple of more months, they may be able to have their cake and eat it to with Schwarber.

The Next Plateau…

I have taught myself to play guitar but I will be the first to tell you I am at best a replacement-level player.   Yesterday, I was listening to Meat Puppets II, the second self-titled album of the influential Arizona-based punk band.

If I can get myself to play those creative, distinctive solos with a reasonable amount of skill, I will consider myself very successful.  The learning curve has not been so much a curve as it is an alternating series between short bursts of upward linear progress followed by stretches of longer (and sometimes frustrating) plateaus.

The past two dramatic wins aside, the Cubs appeared to have leveled off a bit as well as they continue to cling to playoff hopes through mid June.  But they’re learning to win with what they have as they balance their roster with dual goals of development and contention.  For now, development is still king, but as the season goes on, that balance will begin to tip a little bit more toward the short term.  It may not just be anticipated trades.  We may also see the likes of Schwarber, Alcantara, and others contributing off the bench to help the Cubs reach their next plateau.

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    Right. And also: Olt, Baez, La Stella, Soriano, Edwards, Turner.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    That is an excellent point. We have some excellent reinforcements coming from within the organization.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I don't think Olt and Baez can be viable bench players, certainly not at this stage of their careers. LaStella maybe.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I disagree. Why can't Olt and Baez be excellent bench players?

  • In reply to Morris:

    Because they are still developing and need consistent reps. And Baez in particular deserves a chance to play everyday, either here or somewhere. If you are talking about for a few weeks down the stretch, that's fine. But over the course of a season (i.e. next year) just don't see them giving surplus value there.

  • In reply to Morris:

    I think people seem to dismiss Olt, but here is why I don't think he will be a bench player. A wrist injury is one of the toughest for a hitter to come back from in a short time. He may not even be ready to comeback this year. However, if Olt does come back healthy, he is the best defensive 3rd baseman that we have. Have you watched the Cubs infield? There is a reason Baez started playing third...they need to move Bryant off the bag and improve the play in the infield. For some reason Villanueva has not been himself at 3rd this year, so he is not the answer. Olt will come back from his injury sooner than Baez, and if his wrist is healthy playing Olt at third and Bryant in LF gives the Cubs a better defense in the infield, and outfield (Cogs is better than last year...but still iffy out there). Since Coghlan has been splitting time with the Cubs, he would become a solid bench player, and spell Bryant during interleague games where he could simply DH. Lot the bats in the 7,8.9 spot where having a few homers every once in a while helps...but he is not killing you with the strike outs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Your point about having the right mentality sure showed up last night John. If not for the Ross double and Herrera sacrifice the Cubs lose the game 1-0. Production often comes from strange places and guys like this are valuable contributors.

  • Any Tommy La Stella sightings? Wasn't he signed to provide roster flexibility?

  • In reply to Gerlac:

    Haven't seen him at Mesa, but going there in a bit.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hopefully you'll see Ian Happ while you're there. Callis says he signed for under slot at $3 million. That saved the Cubs $351,000 which is almost the amount over slot the Cubs are reported to have paid for their 3rd round selection Bryan Hudson. Still no confirmation on Hudson signing or amount, but if the reported $1.1 million amount is accurate, Happ's under slot signing paid for Hudson's over slot inkage.

  • I think reinforcements coming in September could depend a lot on any trades, releases, and 40 man situation. I could see Schwarber as 3rd catcher/LF and Black as a reliever but that is 2 spots taken away from the winter unless the package some of the players eligible for rule V (why risk losing them without getting anything in return). If they are deep in the race looking like a team that can play in the playoffs these are upgrades that can help. If not, they will be practical, wait on them and let Schwarber go to AZ in the fall and then go into next season with more ammo.

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    Well said, John. I've been waiting for players to get healthy so we can hope for Herrera to be DFA'ed, but his sac bunt in last night's game was a testament to how valuable he is as 24th/25th man who embraces that role.

  • In reply to Daniel Svendsen:

    and the only game we lost in the series Herrera had a great game winning AB, but their left fielder said no.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    I meant Right but typed wrong. Edit button escapes me.

  • I do like Couglan, and have been in positions defending him this spring. It is not that easy to be an above average MLB player, or replace one.

  • Considering how many times Couglan got robbed earlier this year, I think his numbers look fantastic. He probably won't be a long term Cub, but you have to really enjoy the production he has had while in a Cubs uniform.

  • Good article and thinking John. I am puzzled by the Kyle Schwarber learning a new position thing though. He was a catcher in college and won the Johnny Bench award. To me, it's not that he is learning a new position, it's just that while his offensive skills were draftable, his defensive skills were not. You could live with replaceable defensive skills at many positions, you just can't behind the plate. Practice and reps are the only way to get better back there.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Thanks and agreed. He is getting far better coaching, as we said in an earlier article, he works hard, and he is getting plenty of reps. And the improvement is beginning to show. I think he can be adequate defensively, perhaps even average with potentially very good intangibles back there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Plus I think as he moves up in levels he should get even more help from his pitchers. After all one of the big differences between a minor and a major league pitcher is control.

  • Great article as usual John. I have not heard any news on Carlton Sands? Is he in Mesa? Is he hurt? I saw him in Rookie ball last summer, but have not seen his name mentioned except when Cole was being discussed as a draft option. You mentioned Mike Olt in your comments above - any news on his rehab? If that poor guy did not have bad luck, I don't think he would have any at all.

  • In reply to Big Blue:

    Thanks. Carson Sands will be going to Eugene. He pitched well here in Mesa from what I have been told, though I always seemed to miss his starts.\

    Olt may miss most of season and I don't really see anything but a September call-up at this point. I don't expect him to have an impact this year.

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    In reply to John Arguello: the sight and spend a lot of time on it since discovering it a couple months ago. As far as coghlan..everyone seems to dismiss him to the bench but he has come up big for us several times and is exactly the type of player a contending team needs. He's not a superstar but is hard nosed and goes all out. There's something I really like about him and would hate to see him go to the bench. I know we need somewhere for all these hitters to go but I'm with you as far as not seeing coghlan as easily replaced. Again love the site and furthermore the comments section is just as informative as your insightful articles.

  • In reply to Bill Judd:

    Thanks, Bill. I like Coghlan. Something about a guy who had it, lost it, and got it back again that you just know makes him know how much he appreciates being in the game.

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    My comment is related to the 25th man and please indulge me while I ask about the bullpen. As of today when Rafael Soriano is ready we get rid of Rosscup. When Neil Ramirez is ready it will be Russell's turn to go. When Turner is ready it will be Wada.

    IF Papelbon comes (which is looking more doubtful) I think EJax will be traded to Philadelphia with a boat load of money. He has shown some regained value and I can't imagine them just cutting him altogether.

    In my hypothetical GM role Travis Wood is both there for long relief and the LOOGY. Like they say "if you listen to the fans you will sit with them shortly."

    Does that make any sense at all? Is the likelihood of getting Papelbon going down everyday?

  • In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    Wada is more effective against lefties than Wood and provides that same type of long relief ability. And is cheaper to boot.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I don't think money is involved between Wada and Wood. Wada's ctt is cheaper but they both have ctts for this year wherever they play.

  • In reply to stix:

    I don't either, but it shouldn't be ignored either. They are very close in skill. But if you are going to get rid of one of them, and neither would figure to bring much of a return in trade, I think keeping the guy that actually would have a chance at making the roster next year (Wada) should have some bearing. Wood will be going to arbitration again in the offseason and will get awarded 6M+. No way they pay him that. He will get traded or non tendered.

  • In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    I think I would disagree that Russell would be dispatched so quickly. He's been as consistent as anyone this season. Keep in mind that the Cubs have carried an extra reliever spot for a good portion of the season, and Brian Schlitter currently occupies one of those spots.

  • In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    You must really trust Schlitter then. I would rather keep Russell who can at least pitch to lefties at the Major League Level. Whereas besides last night, Schlitter hasn't been able to pitch to anyone, right or left.

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    In reply to GSmit:

    I think Schlitter gets replaced in a week by a position player. No way we only have a 2 man bench (not including Ross) especially with Javy and Mendy knocking on the door. Schlitter going back to Iowa was supposed to go without saying.

  • In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    Javy is not knocking on the door. He broke his ring finger and is out 6-8 weeks.

  • These are all good points John, I'm just not really a believer in Baxter, his solid game the other day withstanding. In a season like this where you are scratching for a wild card, every at bat becomes meaningful. Over - exposing Jr. against RHP is particularly frustrating, although that's moot now that he is in Iowa. Just really have a preference for Mendy for these DH games upcoming.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Mendy also struggled as a role player and he is about as good a mental-makeup player as there is -- just a real hard role for young players. If they want an impact guy off the bench, it is going to have to be a veteran. The Cubs are giving Baxter a shot because he has a good track record as a pinch-hitter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Probably an ego thing as much as level of talent. ALL young guys think they're better than those that they are sitting behind on the depth chart. Older veteran types have had the experience in years to realize they fit a niche and try to succeed within those parameters. Frustration of not getting all the reps can lead to poor focus by the youngsters. Best to not stunt their growth by asking them to accept something they aren't sold on or mentally mature enough to do. I certainly remember my ego when I was 22. Yikes!!

  • In reply to Tnighter88:

    And in all honesty, you want guys like Baez to believe he is good enough to play everyday. Both Olt and Lake struggled with it last year. Szczur did this year. Just not an easy role for a young player.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    ...and it is much more difficult to make adjustments in limited playing time. Essentially the same concept as why players like Torres and Young have stayed in their respective leagues. Rake, struggle, adapt, rake, then move up. Without those consistent AB's, the process becomes ineffective and contrary to this FO'S philosophy.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    There are only 5 DH games coming up soon and if Soler doesn't need rehab work, he'll be available for 4 of them.

  • Great "reinterpretation" of a learning curve, John. Best description I have read to describe my efforts at learning a second language. I'll have to remember it.

    And, of course, as we become more proficient, the upward bursts get shorter and the plateaus longer. Looking forward to long plateaus of highly proficient Cubs baseball.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thanks...and agreed on looking forward to a long plateau of Cubs championship-level baseball.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Welcome back!

    At long last, a "Cubs Fan In Norway" sigthing.

    Hope neither of the new scoreboards is blocking your view!!

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Thanks, DTP. I read everyday, just don't have time to delve into the comments very much.

    Scoreboards are great, I have sightlines from CF!

  • I was very skeptical of Coghlan last year, and his defense was atrocious. But he did enough with the bat where I felt he had earned the right to be the starter in LF through the end of May, and then the team could reevaluate. He has played much better defense, and a run of horrible luck with the babip dragon not withstanding, he has been putting up consistently good ABs all season. I am in no rush to see anyone else play out there. Denorfia is plenty of cover as a backup/help against lefties if needed.

    My feeling on Schwarber all along has been that if the Cubs are in it and Schwarber is playing well they should bring him up in September, use him as a pinch hitter and occasional LF start. They can then send him back down to AAA to start next year and get more work at C.

    An interesting article on recent draft pick Preston Morrison who just pitched a gem for TCU over the weeked in the CWS. Seems like a good kid that will be fun to root for:

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm glad you came over from the Dark Side on Coghlan. "Very skeptical" is putting it mildly.

    Also, I'm hearing much less about the horrible Cubs OF defense, even with Coglhan and Lake out there. Is this Doug Dazcenzo's work to be credited here?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    In my defense, a guy playing bad defense (last year) and who was having his first good offensive season in 5 years, doesn't deserve a lot of faith.

    I'm not sure where the credit goes, but the OF D has been just fine this year (with the exception of Lake, he is still bad out there).

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Isn't Davey Martinez the outfield coach?

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree with everything you said about Schwarber. My only question is, can they afford him on the 40 man roster at this time? I know they will lose some players in plan B so I'm not sure its such a good idea moving him up and possibly lose a player they want to keep. It sure would be nice having his bat in a playoff race though.

  • I like the idea of waiting until late August before bringing up kids like Schwarber, Alcantara, and Baez. Maybe even guys like Black and Edwards. My only concern in doing so would be the 40 man roster situation, given how many of our minor leaguers will be Rule 5 eligible But perhaps at that point guys like Baxter, Jackson, Valaika, Olt, and Schlitter will be acceptable casualties of a roster crunch? (not even gonna say Herrera, because I'm actually coming around and thinking him somewhat valuable.) Seems like you'd get the benefit of having the young players up at the majors getting instruction during a pennant race, while discarding some various bits of flotsam and jetsam in the process.

  • In reply to JFBaltzell:

    That's exactly what I was thinking. German, Jockisch, Schlitter, Lopez, Herrera, Villanueva, and Baxter we could probably outright without losing them.
    Others like Medina, Wood, Beeler, Olt, Lake, and Szczur would have some risk of losing, but they're in situations where they are running out of options and we probably will have to let them go soon anyway.

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    In reply to IACub:

    villanueva might be lost, jockisch and lopez probably a decent chance of losing. keep in mind chris rusin has starts this year, there are just some teams out there that want to take a chance on youngsters and hope they find lightning in a bottle. szczur would get scooped up as well. but it really is no big deal in the long run.

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    So if Schwarber can stick at catcher, he's untouchable in my book. But what if he can't? He seems like a perfect fit in Oakland to me: DH, first base, whatever. That's the kind of guy you could build a trade around for Sonny Gray. Ha! Thought I'd just stir the pot.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Good pot stirring but isn't VOGT that player for Oakland?

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I have wondered what the Cubs would do if every time we try and trade for a top player the other team insists on Schwarber. Would we just stand pat then? Is there any case where we'd trade him?

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    In reply to NepthuTheWizard:

    I wonder too. Despite my pot-stirring questions, my guess is that they would not trade him under any circumstances. He seems like such a good hitter, and fits in the middle of the lineup perfectly with Rizzo and Bryant. But if he can't catch and he's the guy everyone wants and they just keep drafting hitters....

  • In reply to NepthuTheWizard:

    I think Schwarber is about as close to untouchable as a prospect gets for the Cubs -- especially if they truly see him as a catcher when others do not. That automatically creates an imbalance in the perception of his value.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I've imagined Billy Beane agreeing Schwarber can catch and offering half his team (Gray, Vogt, Clippard, Zobrist) in return for Schwarber and others.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to NepthuTheWizard:

    considering schwarbers top end would be what vogt is doing right now i would have to say you are crazy to think he would be part of that return.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A young catcher, with cost control and power. Left handed bat that could hit between Bryant and Rizzo. The is about as much "Elliot Ness" as you can get.

  • Losing Denorfia, LaStella, Soler and to a lesser extent Olt has hurt the team and forced us to make do with a Baxter, Lake or Szczur, or a third catcher for way too long, not to mention a bench that has simply been way too short. With Soler soon to return, and Denorfia back and playing some really good baseball, there is probably no room for any kind of Schwarber acceleration anyway. I am pretty comfortable with Coghlan, Fowler, Soler and Denorfia.

    To me, the loss of LaStella probably hurts the most, because I had my doubts about Baez being mature enough to contribute. Our infield is not quite as deep as we'd like - Herrera is a 25th guy, but we also need that 22nd guy, a Denorfia of the infield. I know we may be looking at Hamels, but I wonder if we'll be searching for an extra infielder as well?

    Oh, right... Zobrist!

  • We already gave Oakland Donaldson. That should be enough for another 10 years.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    And they returned the favor by giving us Russell (and McKinney).

  • Good points on Schwarber. With Coghlan doing well, there is no need to change any plans for Schwarber.
    I remember when the Cubs first drafted him last year they warned fans not to expect him to climb the system ladder as fast as Bryant, and yet here we are.

  • More seriously, Gray is a young kid pitching like an ace AT THE MLB LEVEL. It will take a lot more than an untried left field prospect, regardless of how good that prospect is.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Of course, and a deal for a guy like Gray is more likely to be done in the offseason if it were to happen. I mention Gray's name a lot because I think he's exactly what this team needs but whether or not Beane deals him is a huge question. It'll depend on how many prospects he can get from the obvious deals he'll make this season Zobrist, Kazmir, etc. and how far away Oakland is to their next window. If he thinks their further away than the first arbitration year for Gray I think he'll listen. It's going to take a haul though. probably 3 top 10 organizational prospects and another high/risk high reward guy. For a 25 year old ace you'd do that in a heartbeat.

  • First I love this site John I have read every site that has cubs news and your the best.
    But why give up so early on the young guys I have been a cubs fan forever and they never had a minor league system like this let's slow down and keep our good players for once I hate our players going to other teams.

  • In reply to jimmy89:

    I don't like having young players off the bench. Not an easy role for players who haven't had reps at the MLB level -- and especially when all these guys want a chance to play everyday at the start of their careers. Keep the best guys for the starting lineup, bullpen, maybe a LaStella type off the bench, but you can't keep them all. At some point two of Baez, Castro, Russell, Torres need to play everyday and if they don't, the best value might be in dealing them to get a player they need.

  • Everth Cabrera was released by Baltimore. I know his offense has slipped, but he has good speed - an upgrade over 24th/25th man Herrera.

    Jed should know whether he's worth the trouble.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    He's not.

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    You may get a chance to see Cabrera in pinstripes......the horizontal black and white kind

  • I don't like the idea of bringing up Schwarber this year. He needs to take the Bryant route. If they do bring him up, he, Bryant and Russell will all potentially hit free agency the same winter. I know it's six plus years down the road and I am old enough I may not see it but for the longer term health of the franchise, hold off. No matter what anybody wants to say, the chances of the Cubs winning the World Series this year are remote, with or without Schwarber.

  • I think the bullpen situation is going to be very interesting as this year goes on. I am really hoping that Turner can come on strong and move into Wada's rotation spot. I would like to see Wada take over Wood's LH long man position. He can really confuse a team once or twice through the lineup, but is going to get pounded if he has to stay in much longer. That screams long man to me.

    We would have to feel pretty good sending out guys like Motte, Strop, Rondon, Ramirez and Soriano in the late innings.

  • I don't understand this... "Schwarber can add a lot of long term value if he can catch -- even if it is just for 5 years". Is the idea that Schwarber is only athletic enough to catch in his prime years? I'd think that the same would apply to LF.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    He has a big, muscular frame and that body just isn't made for crouching 150 games year in and year out for 10 years. He's athletic enough to at least play Soriano-level defense even as he gets older.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Schwarber's bat is elite at the MLB level in say a year or so, don't they move him off C as soon as they can?

  • In reply to couch:

    Giants have kept Posey behind the plate. Bench stayed behind the plate until his twilight. You can make it work.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    True but until belt took off, posey played a lot of 1st base ESP against left handed starters. He still plays more first base then most catchers as they need his bat in the lineup as much as possible.

    Problem w kyle is with Rizzo at first and his ability to hit lefties ( which wouldn't matter as kyle Ks left handed anyway ).

    I know John and other believe he can be an avg left fielder. ( perhaps in small left fields like Wrigley and Fenway ) I have my doubts but will differ to the experts.

  • In reply to couch:

    If the Cubs decide he won't make it as a catcher a year from now, then they can switch him permanently to the OF. But if they do feel he can catch, Miguel Montero isn't going to hold Schwarber back from doing that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think this calls for the Geovany Soto chicken breast diet

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe soriano light. Soriano gets a real bad rap, because he def had the tools to be a better outfielder. Soriano wasn't the most gifted or committed left fielder ( ESP when he first got here ) but he could run and had a cannon.

  • great article as usual John. Nice to see that Happ signed underslot. Not significantally under, but still an extra 351,000 can maybe get us an extra player we didn't expect to sign possibly.

  • In reply to jswick23:

    It will come in handy. We don't yet know how much it will take to sign Hudson and WIlson, but word is it will be significantly overslot.

  • Maddon thinks outside the box and doesn't seem to be afraid to play guys at multiple positions. Could you vision Schwarber being a September call up and playing almost every day rotating at Catcher, LF, and RF?

  • In reply to 1rungames:

    I can see that. Maybe not RF, but LF and C, yes.

  • I think a realistic goal for a player like Schwarber is to have him play about 100/120 games at C with his remaining starts coming in LF and 1B. If Players like Contreras, Zagunis, Happ, Dewees, Alcantara, Caratini, McKinney, Young, & Torres develop at multiple positions Maddon and the Cubs will have plenty of options to mix & match lineups to combat the opposition while keeping players fresh and healthy.

  • I liked Coughlan last year. Still like him this year. You make a great point about a vet being more capable of coming off the bench. I think Coughlan can make that transition to the bench as a fourth or fifth OF when the time is right. Still hoping that Baez or Olt right the ship and Bryant moves to LF. That gives us our strongest lineup IMHO and the bench gets deeper in the process. Use Lake or Szczur in a trade package. Preferably Lake. I like Szczur's grinder, scrappy mentality. Good for a bench role if he can get comfortable doing that.

  • I think that the Cubs want go for it this year. Who knows? Victory is possible. The one position player that can help the most is Zobrist. Veteran Inf/of switch hitter. My issue is the cost in prospects.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Totally agree. Zobrist is ideal for this team.

  • John, what is current status of LaStella, Olt, and Soler? Any update? Thank you.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Olt seems like he is still a ways away. LaStella too. If I see them rehabbing at Mesa I will let you know but if they have been doing that, then it has been inside the peformance center, which is Cubs personnel only.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Olt has played in Arizona inter-squad games this past week. He has played as a DH and at 3B.

  • I'm in the camp of do not rush Schwarber up this year... I see no real need to do so. There's no guarantee he comes up catching/LF playing/hitting the Cubs into the post season. With so many 40man decisions to be made, I feel it's not necessary to push him this yr. Call up Lopez Sep 1 & have him be the 3rd catcher. Let him earn his spot or decide he can be traded, DFA, &/or released knowing Schwarber is getting near &/or Contreras can be the next AAA guy in line while other Cs (Brockmeyer, Caratini) behind them move up the next levels. Teagarden still there as well.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I agree with you Mike. Schwarber wants to catch, badly, and if he's going to catch at Wrigley he needs a bunch of reps first. The value of that bat at C is so crazy high that it's worth trying to make it happen, IMO.

    But the cost of trying is all the reps he still needs at C. You either decide to pay that cost (more time in AA and AAA) for that opportunity, or you don't. In my book, pay the opportunity cost now, and hope he's an adequate defensive C for the first few Cubs WS champion squads in a long while. :-)

  • In reply to CubMartyrComplex:

    The people arguing that he come up in September aren't taking away any reps away from him at C though. The minor league season ends in early September. It wouldn't have any effect on his ability to stay at C long term.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    A September cup of coffee? I'm not opposed as a bat off the bench. I'm certainly no baseball expert, so take my opinion for what it is and what it isn't. But if you give him all his reps at C this season, when he's up in September you're having a rookie get a few AB's as a pinch hitter, or you have to expose him at C for a few games before he's likely ready for that task, or run him out to LF where he's had no reps. If, as seems increasingly likely, they're in a chase for a WC playoff spot, would he be too big a defensive liability? If he's strictly off the bench, are you putting him in a position to succeed, and would it help the team?

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm more concerned about the 40 man spot he'll take. He most likely won't be ready to start the season with the Cubs next year either so why burn a spot on a guy you don't have to if you have other useful players you need to protect. His offense will not provide enough value to justify it bc he isn't going to be starting & will just come off the bench. Let some of the guys already on the 40 or that would need to be added in the offseason & see if they are worth those 40 man spots next year

  • In reply to Bamacub: Vooglebomb maybe. I'd send Schwerber to AAA at maybe the all star break and then the AFL after

  • In reply to Luke Waynehart:

    Yeah. Vogelbach or Contreras or Lopez if you want a 3rd C. There are a lot of question mark guys that should get a look before calling up Schwarber. with Baez, Alcantara, TLS, Denorfia, Couglin, Olt (maybe), Villanueva I'd much rather use the call ups to figure out which guys are worth keeping & which ones can be traded/released. Schwarber will just take opportunities away to see what we actually have going into next year. This doesn't include the spots taken up by pitchers

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I think he should be called up before the roster expands so he can be on the playoff roster if we want him.

  • Off topic...pitcher we got.from cal state Fullerton is pitching right now.on espn2

  • In reply to Luke Waynehart:

    Kilichowski from Vandy vs. Peitzmeier from Cal St. Fullerton right now on ESPN. Both lefties looking good and future Cubs , maybe.

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    aren't they both seniors? 3 inning save maybe coming from Peitzmeier because.I'm pretty sure.he's there closer

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    Well, time for Peitzmeier to sign since he.blew the save and Cal st

  • In reply to Luke Waynehart:

    and Cal St is done now I think

  • Add in that Coghlan will be hitting .270 by then, do you want him out of the lineup? I say Schwarber spends time hunting with Lester and Ross in the off season, maybe play a little catch on the side. 15 days into the 2016 season, guess who's getting called up?

  • I hear a lot of talk of Zobrist & Gray, but what about Reddick? He's been good the past couple years & he's having a great season so far. The biggest thing that gets my attention is his k/bb ratio. Didn't he get drafted by Boston/Theo?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wrigley09:

    hes controlled for next year as well though. would imagine beane would want a similar return as what he gave up to get shark. which is more than the cubs would be willing to pay for someone who would take solers spot. unless its a deal for gray and reddick in which you include soler i dont see it happening.

  • Padres fire manager Bud Black. Really hope they give Rick Renteria a shot. He deserves it.

  • In reply to GSmit:

    I agree he deserves another shot but what are the Padres looking to do here? Rile up the troops while there's still time? If so wouldn't you go for a guy with more experience than Renteria? Honestly I don't quite understand this move.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Would think they go after an established guy. Renteria made some bad coaching moves that were overlooked bc the team was so bad. He was a nice guy & players liked him but I thought he wasn't a great manager for a playoff team

  • In reply to TC154:

    No chance Renteria gets a shot with the Padres, not what there looking for.. there better off keeping the interim manager Roberts and seei ng what he does..

  • Isn't today the end of the 2014-15 IFA signing period?

  • In reply to giamby:

    I believe so.

  • Adam Rubin ‏@AdamRubinESPN 38m
    Filed to ESPN ... Source: Dillon Gee to be designated for assignment by the #Mets. Will tweet link shortly.

    Does this mean they're not trading him for Castro?

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Maybe trying to get him thru waivers so he can be traded & not have to be on acquiring team's 40man...? Could be just a flyer to see who's interested...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    That means the Steven matz era will begin shortly

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Dillon gee is no where near the return that starlin deserves, and as of late he's raising his trade value, actually making him more untouchable then anything because of how clutch he is..

  • I told you schwarber would be called up to d.h.! Obviously baez being hurt accelerated that decision but it's a wonderful thing and I can't wait to see him hit in the d.h. spot against majors.. and if he does well it wI'll accelerate there decision in September to have him on the expanded roster as a 3rd catcher amd a backup left fielder..

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