Phillies scouting Cubs system as Cubs bullpen starts to show signs of life again

The Cubs have targeted at least one area for improvement and that is their bullpen.  Having recently signed former Rays and Nats closer Rafael Soriano, they now seem to be targeting Phillies current and former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

According to one report, the Phillies are scouting the Cubs farm system.

Recently, Ruben Amaro, Jr, vehemently denied rumors that he was looking for top pitching prospects James Paxton and Tajuan Walker in exchange for Ben Revere.  Amaro’s asking prices have reached mythical proportions of late and it is questionable as to how accurate they are.  They have every right to be aggressive in their asking prices.  Revere aside, they have good players who can help contending teams like the Cubs suddenly are.  But they need to get something worthwhile in return.  The Phillies aren’t a small market team and can handle paying for their big contracts.  The only reason to trade them is to give them players that will help them rebuild.

Like most big market teams, the Phillies probably aren’t looking for a protracted rebuild.  That is a difficult sell in Philadelphia just as it was a difficult sell here in Chicago for a great portion of the fan base.  My guess is the Phillies would likely want players at AA and above to help turn things around sooner rather than later.

There certainly appears to be something beyond smoke here, although as Sherman noted, obstacles remain.  The Blue Jays are also in on Papelbon so the Phillies will work the two teams against each other to extract the highest return possible.  At the same time, however, there is some urgency on their part to get a deal done.  Tyler Clippard of the Athletics and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds could soon become available as well and will give both teams a quality alternative.  What makes it especially urgent is that the Cubs have shown some interest in the past and appear to work well with Billy Beane, while the Blue Jays very narrowly missed out on signing Chapman as an amateur — so you have to think there is considerable interest there as well.  So while the Phillies have the upper hand for now, they’ll have to be careful not to overplay it — and indeed, the Blue Jays are already beginning to look elsewhere…

And as a side note, don’t be surprised if Cole Hamels name gets brought up again.

Curiously, the upgrades are coming at a time when the Cubs bullpen has started to perform better and may soon get an internal boost, not just from Soriano, but also rehabbing RHP Jacob Turner and prospect CJ Edwards.  Turner, however, may be deployed as a replacement for the struggling Tsuyoshi Wada, who replaced the struggling Travis Wood, who beat out the struggling Edwin Jackson for the 5th starting spot.   Wada, however, will keep his rotation spot…for now. Edwards, meanwhile, has to start throwing.

But it is not just about what is on the horizon.  The current Cubs bullpen has stepped it up as well, as Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat noted before yesterday’s brilliant performance of 6 scoreless innings by 5 different relievers, including former starter Wood, who pitched 2.1 big innings in relief of Wada.

The bullpen is coming around, though it could always use a boost and the offense seems to be getting into a rhythm as well.  The Cubs are off to a good start but there hasn’t yet been the feeling that they’ve hit their stride as a team.  If the bullpen continues to improve from within and external moves, the offense continues to click, and Jon Lester gets on track as they continue to get strong starting pitching from Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks, then the Cubs might make that transition from curiosity to serious contention a lot sooner than we thought.

On that note, here is today’s lineup…

  1.  Fowler CF
  2. Rizzo 1B
  3. Bryant 3B
  4. Montero C
  5. Castro SS
  6. Coghlan LF
  7. Denorfia RF
  8. Hammel SP
  9. Russell 2B

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  • I try not to forget about Neil Ramirez either. If he and Soriano can both show up at the same time, sorting out the bullpen may be a good problem to have.

  • In reply to cbrooks105:

    That Maddon said he hadn't heard anything about ramirez (per muscat) has me worried

  • In reply to Tnighter88:

    Ramirez pitched in an intrasquad game today in Mesa. Only 17 pitches (11 strikes) as he eases his way back.

  • Glad denorfia is in the lineup. Just provides a better approach than Lake - not as 'fence happy'. Here's hoping Castro can get it going. Stick with the opposite field approach.

  • In reply to Tnighter88:

    I agree this is probably the best lineup the cubs can put out there right now.

  • It would be great to make the playoffs but we should not mortgage
    our future. Remember the bad trade Houston made many years
    ago when they gave up a young prospect for an aging pitcher

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed. We are 'limping along' quite nicely right now. Bullpen is improving back to 2nd half 2014 statistics. Young hitters are showing a decent approach but struggling at times. The ace of the staff looks nowhere near an ace. RISP is awful. Defense is awful. We're 6 games over. 500. Against good competition. I'll take it.

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    Yeah I'm very weary of overpaying for a bullpen arm. Even one like Papelbon, who's had a pretty good year so far. The Cubs shouldn't give up a big prospect for him. The Phillies are the team that is desperate not the Cubs. The pen has been better lately. The Phills needed to start rebuilding 2 years ago. The pressure is on Amaro to get something for all these aging players. So the Cubs should drive a hard bargain on Papelbon. Don't give up too much.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Agree, we have some good prospects that don't really fit in our future

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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    I think the 2015 Phils are right about where the 2010/2011 Cubs were

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    I'm fairly comfortable that Epstoyer are aware of all thwe active parameters of the market, and aren't likely to be fleeced by Alomar or anyone else.
    .

  • Wait.. what? Why are we interested in adding to our bullpen? The performance has evened out with more help on the way.. (Ramirez, Edwards, Soriano, Black maybe etc...) I think they are just fine right now. It took them so long to build up all of this depth in the minors. Let's take advantage of this and watch it all play out. By the end of the year the answers should seem clearer. This is just the first year of many years of contention.. The fan base should remain patient.

  • crazy trade thought with Phillies ...

    Cubs acquire Cole Hamels, Jon Papelbon and Chase Utley
    The Cubs also receive financial help with contracts of Papelbon
    and Utley to make it work.

    The Cubs trade Starlin Castro, Hector Rondon, Wilson Contraras,
    Albert Almora , Travis Wood and Corey Black.

    Russell slides to shortstop. Utley second base and provides veteran leadership and a left handed bat. The only issue is that
    Utley has a 500 AB option for next season for 15 Million.

    The Phillies get a cost controlled shortstop, a closer, two good prospects and a MLB starter.

    Just a wild thought..be kind

  • In reply to JKos:

    Utley is batting .185. I'd rather have Tommy La Stella play injured.

  • In reply to JKos:

    The Phillies would probably get more by selling each guy individually. If they were asking two bona fide prospects for Hamels alone, they aren't settling for less than that in a package with all three of their big trade pieces.

  • In reply to JKos:

    That is a big downgrade in the infield if you ask me. That utley contract is horrible. Phillies want Russell not Castro from what I've read

  • In reply to nukee:

    You don't always get what you want.

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    In reply to John57:

    Exactly. If Hamels is a Phillie Aug. 1 Amaro should be immediately fired. He needs to get the best deal he can, whatever it turns out to be.

  • In reply to JKos:

    I believe Amaro would want more. Almora is an unproven prospect at this point and sss for Contreras. Castro is a buy low candidate. Black's control is iffy. Wood is well...Wood. Amaro is going to want a major league ready prospect (Subjective) to help keep his job and fill some seats. That takes Baez, Schwarber, or Vogelbach (then he can move Howard) in addition to the aforementioned.

  • In reply to JKos:

    Bite your tongue!

  • I'm wondering if it is really worth it to trade for a reliever right now. It seems like we've gotten into a good rhythm lately and some of the biggest question marks are suddenly a lot less scary (Jackson and Wood adjusting to long relief roles, Motte pitching better than he did early in the season). Picking up Soriano should be enough for now, and we have internal options with Edwards and Yoervis Medina that are worth a shot as well.

  • Rafael Sorianos contract includes an opt out clause, if he's not in the Big Leagues by the All star game.

  • In reply to GSmit:

    Well, let's hope he has been throwing a bunch since ST. That would be an utter waste of time then.

    I didn't hear that. Thanks for sharing.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    No problem!

  • This FO is looking to improve appropriately when opportunity presents itself with a deal/deal, [why they can work with Beane and Rangers GM], buying is different than buying, but a deal/deal needs a marketplace of demand when selling or lack there of when buying.

    Implications however are that someone on the 13-man staff would have to go if .Papelbon is acquired, my guess it is Rondon and when Soriano is called one of the long relievers or a starter who really is a long reliever.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    meant buying is different than selling

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    My sense is and has been that the only remaining major move will be a TOR starter at the deadline. I'm pretty certain it won't be Hamels. I get the sense that he just doesn't get any credence from our FO. Price and Zimmeran are a different matter.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Price and Zimmerman will not be deadline pickups this year. They are less likely than getting Hamels. If we get someone it will probably be a lesser type deal.

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    I will be happy if the Cubs don't make a trade. I will be happy if they do decide to pull the trigger. I'm just happy that the script has flipped and they aren't sellers again. Yeah, there must be some excitement being a Phillies fan and anticipating what new prospects your team will get. But I like watching the Major Lesgue team win and dreaming about the playoffs.

  • I am starting to think Cubs 009 was right about Hamel. Every free agent pitcher to be has been coming with questions. Is it possible they are more scouting for his trade? If the Cubs close to 2 games or less by July 1st things could get very interesting. Cubs have a very manageable schedule in July. On paper July and September look like the months to cover the most ground. I tried tempering my enthusiasm for the season, but have to think we are getting to the point where we might make waves instead of ripples.

  • In reply to cub since 89′:

    If the season ended today we are a playoff team right now. I agree with Cubs 009 and trust any trade or non trade our FO makes. They will get fair value in a trade and not get taken advantage of. Amaro is trying to take advantage of us IMO.

  • In reply to John57:

    He is holding a very big puzzle piece, it just so happens it looks more and more to fit better with the Cubs because of our better positional prospects. That is what he is after and that is what we have. More than any other potential suitor. He could go to LA but they need theirs next year and beyond. Red Sox overspent in the offseason and you have to think their owner is mystified and not going to make any sudden moves in the offseason. Astro's seem interested but early on Philly always seemed to be about positional players. I think dealing with us always seemed to be their primary target, so we might be on deck. Every report on Hamel has been what other deals teams turned down except the Cubs and Astro's. The Cubs might take a prospect hit but we could benefit greatly, especially if we can replenish through IFA. Papelbon might be the best smoke screen for both franchises.

  • What did Jon Lester do to Jason Hammel? Hammel looks like Tsyoshi Wada out there.

  • Hammel not looking super sharp so far.

  • With Soriano, Ramirez and Edwards potentially all on their way back and the Cubs bullpen doing well of late, I think this Papelbon trade rumor is red herring put out there by the Cubs as they try to acquire Hamels with the Phillies scouting them. Sherman was one of the first to break the Theo to Cubs rumors.

  • In reply to chieftain:

    Disagree. GMs love to talk. Hamels is not a fit for the Cubs. He's just not worth the price, but throws from the wrong side

  • Can't believe in going to say this, but I think taking Hammel out right now and putting EJax in would give us a better shot.

  • Sorry everyone it's taken me a day longer to post this. I've set up a 'GoFundMe' acct. to raise money to reward John for his work, as I stated I would earlier. I'll post the link on a few of the upcoming posts as well in case some people only read certain posts, and it makes its way to all of our Denizens. I put a $200 goal on it, but realistically, I'm hoping it goes above and beyond that. It's a great investment from all of the benefitting we all do daily from John's work. I've made the first donation, and I encourage everyone to follow suit, even if it's $5. Every little bit helps reward him. Thank you in advance for everyone's generosity!!!

    http://www.gofundme.com/cubsdinner

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Copinblue. I just donated and sent it to Twitter via @scottwarbird. Thanks for organizing this. And go Hawks.

  • In reply to Third Generation:

    Thank you Third Generation!

  • In reply to Third Generation:

    Thanks Third. I appreciate it.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Tks for setting up chad...money well spent

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ratay1:

    My thanks too. For the price of a dinner or two look at all the pleasure we get. Just donated and posted on Facebook so we can get more donations too.

  • In reply to ratay1:

    You're very welcome ratay!

  • In reply to ratay1:

    Thank you, Ratay.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to copinblue:

    Chad, I just checked and we have $200 already. I have a feeling we'll raise a lot for John. Thanks so much for setting this up.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Awesome! I knew it would get over $200...thanks for being patient with my Johathan. And thank you for your generosity. You said it best the other day...it's the best investment we all make on here. I figure if John charged me a penny everytime I came to this site, I'd owe him a years salary.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Thanks for setting this up!

  • In reply to GSmit:

    You're welcome GSmit!

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Wow! I'm absolutely speechless-- and if you ask my wife, that is pretty hard to do :)

    Thank you all very much.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You're more than welcome John. As you can see, you're very appreciated by a lot of crazy Denizens. I hope the pot keeps growing and you can let your wife order off the prime side of the menu while you kick back with the finest scotch! Hopefully, the pot will grow enough you can do it twice. :)

  • In reply to copinblue:

    John, Can you list your favorite charity? I may be able to make a donation there in your name.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    I am not even sure where to start. Anything that helps those that are less fortunate and don't have access to the simple yet, essential things we take for granted such as health care, clean drinking water, proper sanitation, human rights, education -- and especially for children: Doctors Without Borders, DonorsChoose, Charity Water, OxFam...Kiva is an organization that helps those in need start their own businesses and support themselves. So many good ones,

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I certainly wouldn't tell John what charity he'd choose to donate to, but my 15 yr old son has Cystic Fibrosis, so if anyone ever needs/wants to donate to a charity, the C.F. Foundation is a fantastic one. The monies go straight to research.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    That would be a good choice.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Indeed, it is nice to see. Thanks to everyone.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for the many names. My brother died from ALS. So I will send in a donation to three charities in your name, John. They will go to ALS, the C.F. Foundation, and Doctors Without Borders.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    Thanks, PW.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    Thank you pricewriter. Very generous and thoughtful.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    Donations sent. Glad to help out.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Thanks for setting this up cop. i just put in my donation. Thanks John for all the hard work you put in so we are able to have a place to discuss the Cubs

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks Jonathan.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Made good on my pledge to match you, copinblue. Up to $370 now. You deserve it, John.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Thank you Quedub, great investment! I'll post the link on a couple of posts in the next few days, on various topics in case some read more particular articles than others. We'll let it sit around for a week or so to make sure everyone sees it, especially since maybe the traffic isn't as voluminous as maybe on weekdays. Everyone has come together which is awesome. This is a win win for all of us! And if anyone has any other ideas, feel free to share. I'm open to anything.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Thanks, Quedub.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    Made my donation a few minutes ago. Enjoy, John and Mrs. You certainly deserve it. Up over $400 now!

  • There are some things in this game which infuriate me.

    *The last time a college girl ran through my "stop sign" and got thrown out at 3B trying to stretch a double into a triple with 0 outs, she got sat down for a game. We were behind 4-2 in the 6th inning. No outs, 2 outs, doesn't matter! You don't do it.
    *I don't like runners stealing 3B unless it is 95% certain when 0 or 2 outs.
    *I don't like making the first out at home plate. I don't like the "contact play" with 0 outs, period!

    *And I do not understand what a pitcher is thinking when you have a guy with 17 HR and you throw him 3 straight fastballs in the zone? You have 2 strikes on him. Use that 3rd pitch as a "setup pitch" hopefully to change speed and eye-level for you "out" pitch. But no! You get the momentum back, and you throw 3 same speed pitches in the zone.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    doing something "all the time" based on preset conditions makes things alot easier for the other team

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Hmm! Well I have been coaching for 42 years now, the last 23 at the Division I and International level. I don't remember anyone calling me "preset". In fact I coached up there in Logan at Utah State Univ. at one time (softball).

    I probably call a steal on a 2-1 count half as much as all other counts combined. Preset or predictable? But I do run on other counts.

    In fastpich we are pretty high on squeeze bunts. I do it with one out more often, and I love to do it runners 1st and 3rd. But I also have done it twice with bases loaded, and one of those was with no outs. Sacrilege I think, and the heavens trembled, but I believe something else.

    You take what the Defense gives you.

    Yesterday runners 1st and 3rd. Winning run on 3B. 2 outs. Russel on 1B. He takes 2B. Defensive indifference. Good deal! He took what they gave him.

    You can't demand it! The games are games of odds. And I don't think living a lopsided advantage to your opponent makes you preset or predictable. They say a steal of 2B should work about 75% of the time. Well if you have a guy that gets thrown out 16/19 attempts, and you shut him or her down, I don't consider that preset. I call that smart.

  • MLB.com shows Phils have SS & CF covered with their #1 & # 3 prospects Crawford and Quinn. They also have a multitude of starting pitchers in their top 10 led by Aaron Nola who is kicking ass at AA already after being drafted last year.
    It appears they need help at C, 1B, 3B, 2B, & corner OF's. So with that in mind I am thinking Vogelbach, Alcantara, Baez, Contreras, McKinney, and Lake would all be possible matches in a deal for Hamels.

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    I would be happy to give all of the above for Hamels today. RAJ gets 3 likely very productive starters in Vogelbach, Baez, McKinney. Contreras is a wild card as he has finally started to show the talent we all knew he had. Alcantara has a floor of a useful utility player and a starter ceiling at 2B or any OF position, but his value is in his versatility. Lake is a cheap bridge player that can give you something in short spurts. That's not a bad haul really.

  • In reply to Chicago Aces:

    If Vogelbach is considered more than a throw-in it would be great, or make a American League trade with Vogelbach. As for another option it would be Olt.

    Package Olt (1B or 3B), McKinney, Almora, Lake, and Castro (2B or 3B) for Hamels.

    That would give us Hamels and Hammel. Now if we could just get them to reverse their jersey numbers.

    I want to hang on to Alcantra, Baez, and Contreras. I think the potential here is worth Castro.

  • Any ol' kind of a run wins it for the Cubs!

  • C'mon Starlin!!!

  • More errors by the infield another loss for the team

  • glad Castro didn't make that error , villagers would be out with torches and pitchforks, never mind He tied the game with that bomb and just missed that Chapman fastball .

  • Was it really the pitch to choose?

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