Room for Coghlan on defense?

As the winter weeks run long and the spring training still feels very far away, my mind often turns to the Cubs and the upcoming season to occupy itself through what is easily the hardest part of the year for me, as the winter meetings and the flurry of activity that they bring are well behind us and spring training is not set to begin for several more weeks. The waiting for the season to begin has never been more challenging than this winter, as I think, and like many of us, I have very high hopes for what this team can do in 2016. The Fangraphs and ZiPs projections for this team have already been addressed here, but I am curious about what one particular facet of the roster will look like when it is finally brought down to the 25 players who will start the season in April. I mean, I can’t be the only one who wakes up in the morning on a cold January day thinking about the Cubs depth chart, right?

With that said, there’s one particular player who, as of now, I expect will still be on the roster when the season begins and who seems to no longer have a clear place on the team, at least defensively. That’s Chris Coghlan. I’m a fan of his and have appreciated what he was done as a member of the Cubs, particularly when he stepped up and essentially took over at second base when it became apparent that Starlin Castro needed some time off and Addison Russell needed to move over to his more natural position at shortstop. Coghlan spent 15 games at second in 2015, and this was after not having played the position really at all at the major league level (He’s had just 2/3 of an inning in 2013 and 7 innings in 2009 at that position prior to 2015). Along with that, he spent bits of time at both corners of the infield and both corners of the outfield. In all, five different defensive positions in 2015. Just the kind of defensive flexibility that we can see plainly that Joe Maddon appreciates in a player.

And there’s no question of what Coghlan brings to the team at the plate. Even with all of the shuffling around on defense, he put together a 3.3 fWAR season with a wRC+ of 113 and a wOBA of .337 in 2015. He upped his BB% from 2014 by 2.5 percentage points as well. In 2016, depending on where you look at projections, he is expected to stay above replacement level even with the expected reduction in playing time. According to ZiPS, he could be a nearly 1 WAR player, and Steamer has him at a half of a win above replacement level. The recently released Fangraphs projections are a little less optimistic, placing him at just barely above replacement level. Again, these projections are taking into account the generally expected reduction in playing time, of course, so the drop from over 3 WAR should be taken with a grain of salt. With the roster added to as it was this offseason, Coghlan will inevitably see less opportunity to work his way into the lineup.

So the problem lies, of course, with what to do with Coghlan to get him on the field and to the plate as much as is possible. Recently, Phil Rogers speculated a bit about trade possibilities with the Rays, one of which included Coghlan, but there are no real expectations in the works that he’ll actually be traded. And, given that he recently settled on a contract for 2016 to avoid arbitration, it is looking increasingly like he will be a part of the Cubs plans going forward.

With that in mind, the Cubs bench will likely consist of Coghlan, David Ross, Javier Baez, and possibly Tommy La Stella. If they decided to go with one less pitcher and another bat for the bench, I can see someone like Matt Szczur being added to provide some backup for the outfield when needed. Given Coghlan’s still very small amount of experience at second base and the fact that Ben Zobrist and Baez will be manning that position for the most part, he will have to get most of his starts in the outfield. Given current roster configurations, there is not a real defensive backup for Anthony Rizzo, and though Coghlan did spent some time at first base last season along with Baez (ok, it was just one inning, but it’s something), Rizzo has shown so far in this career that he is not going to need a day off with any real frequency.

So, in my opinion, here’s how I think the Cubs can get the most from Coghlan while they still have him:

Stick to the outfield

The first step is to get him as many starts in the place where I think that is most likely to happen. I hate to be pessimistic about any player, especially a young one like Jorge Soler, but experience has shown us so far that he is going to need days off, and that he stands a good chance of landing on the DL at least once or twice during the season. Coghlan still has pretty limited experience in right field in general, but he has shown that he can handle one of Wrigley’s toughest spots with relative ease. With the small sample size for defensive statistics caveat assumed here, Coghlan is actually a defensive upgrade from Soler anyway, at least so far. (In 2015, Coghlan’s UZR/150 in the outfield was 16.4, and Soler’s was -12.7. Of course this is based on rather limited data, so we shouldn’t read too far into this.)

And then, in what is probably his natural position, left field, Coghlan will also have regular opportunity to be written into the lineup. Kyle Schwarber is going to need days off as well, and he will probably get chances behind the plate with some kind of regularity, as I don’t expect that the Cubs are ready to move on from the idea of him as a catcher just yet (he’s been doing yoga this offseason to improve his flexibility in hopes of enhancing his defense in general, and he has been working with Mike Borzello to focus on his catching skills specifically). So this means that Coghlan could have pretty frequent opportunities to play in left field particularly.

Another intriguing option is center field. Even with the work that Baez has been doing there, Coghlan has actually spent more time in center in his career than he has in right, though he has not played that position since 2013 with the Marlins. On the days that Soler needs to take off, Jason Heyward can move to right and Coghlan can handle center, making for a pretty strong outfield defensively.

Time to trade him?

Coghlan will turn just 31 this June and he has shown that he provides great value to a team on both offense and defense. If he can get as frequent opportunity as possible to showcase himself in 2016, I think he will be an appealing (and cheap) acquisition for teams around the league. In spite of some injury plagued years with the Marlins following his rookie campaign in 2009, I think Coghlan has shown in his two seasons so far with the Cubs that he is a very valuable player. The aforementioned Phil Rogers speculation aside, the rumor mill involving Coghlan has been really pretty quiet, however. The Cubs have such ample young talent in the farm system that it makes sense that teams would look there first when engaging in trade talks, so it is understandable that Coghlan’s named hasn’t really been rumored so far.

That being said, I wonder at the possibility of a mid season trade. I know this is looking probably way too far ahead, so I’ll try and limit myself here, but he would be a very affordable and very useful player for a contending team to acquire at the deadline. This doesn’t mean that the Cubs will be sellers at the deadline, by any means, but I can see the need to add arms at the deadline for a playoff or division race, when that comes.

Whatever does happen with Coghlan, I have a very hard time picturing him in a Cubs uniform beyond 2016. For as good as he has been since leaving the Marlins, the presence of Zobrist on the roster and the expansion of Baez’ work on defense, Coghlan looks like he is getting pushed to the margins. My hope is that the Cubs can capitalize on his value both on the field and in the trade market that will develop as the season progresses.

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  • No, you're not the only one! A few of us were commenting yesterday on the encouraging news of the Baez progression in CF. I think Baez being able to be the primary back-up in CF may actually help keep Coghlan on the team, as I feel if we have to sign someone else, we may have to deal Coghlin. There should be plenty of, though reduced, playing time. Scharber will get starts behind the plate, strategic days off based on pitching match-ups, and let's not forget this will be the longest season of his life. Cogs is such a great piece to have on the bench, starting-caliber player at several positions. I am with you though, as the season progresses and other internal options present themselves, he may prove to be a valuable trade piece. He won't bring huge returns, but will be a sought-after commodity to possibly upgrade an unforseen need.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sorry, Schwarber, it's early.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    If you look at all the OFers the Cubs have in the minors, as well as depth in the majors it could be an option to trade Coghlan if they could get a return that could help the team. I do not believe he is any more than average defensively. After having a decent year, it may be the perfect time to trade him with him entering his age 31 year. The question is what his value is currently. I know they tried to move him to the Nationals for Drew Storen. It could be advantageous for the team if they could get an above average bullpen arm or be part of a bigger deal. He is expendable in my opinion.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

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  • Is Cogs at the convention this weekend? I don't remember him being intro'd.
    Also, I'd rather see Zobrist go to 1B and Javy play 2B on those days Rizzo needs a breather.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I'd rather put Bryant at first and Baez at 3rd fwiw.. The really fun part is that I bet we see every possible combination because we have the talent and a manager who aren't afraid to shake things up. Not unlike Q the way he shuffles lines seemingly at random but not really.

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    In reply to PeteyB:

    I like Baez at 3B also in those situations. I think he is a plus defender at 3B plus his versatility is really an asset for the team.

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    Javy is the best option for 2B defensively,so Super Sub Zobrist would make sense as Rizzo's occasional days off guy.

    What an exciting time to see all the depth going into the season. I don't really see the need to swing a trade,but come all star break things might change due to injuries.

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    With Cogs and Baez and Zobrist we have 3 players who can play almost all infield and outfield positions. Maddon's dream of a depth team is realized, and that's not including KB playing 3rd, RF and CF too.

  • I appreciate your appreciation of Coghlan and share the same feelings about the guy. He's been an unselfish player and good Cub through some nasty times, perhaps a larger or clearer role for him opens up if and when they pull the trigger on the big trade some people still are expecting.

  • That would be 'whittled'.

  • Another interesting spring is on the way. Anxious to see more of Almora Contreras, and some of our other young talent that continues to blossom. Great having a farm system that continues to supply fresh talent to go with our core of Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Soler, Heyward, Russell.

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    here is a Jim Bowden trade idea from espn article.
    I started laughing.

    The Trade: Cubs get center fielder Ender Inciarte and right-handed pitcher Julio Teheran; Braves get outfielder Jorge Soler and right-handed pitcher Ryan Williams.

    The Cubs need a center fielder and another controllable No. 2 or No. 3 type starter and they could get both in one-stop shopping with the Braves. The Cubs would solve center field with Inciarte, who hit .303/.338/.408 with 21 stolen bases last year for the Diamonbacks. Getting Inciarte would allow Jason Heyward, the best right fielder in baseball, to play his normal position and it would solidify Kyle Schwarber as the team’s starting left fielder (his defense will get better, I promise). The key for the Cubs will be also landing Teheran, who at 24 years old has averaged 13 wins and 200 innings over the last three years and hasn’t even hit his prime yet. A rotation of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Teheran and Jason Hammel would certainly make the Cubs a realistic bet to be a 95-100 win team and also protect them in the future if they can’t extend Arrieta or when Lackey departs in two years. Teheran is also controllable and signed reasonably through 2020. In return, the Braves get a potential middle of the order bat in Soler, who has a chance to develop into a 25-home run, 100-RBI type run producer. In addition, they get one of the Cubs' top pitching prospects in Williams, 23, who had a breakout year last season when he went 14-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 26 games and 24 starts at both A and AA. The deal also relieves the Braves of close to $40 million in payroll commitments that they can use for other pieces in their rebuilding program.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I'd make that deal yesterday. A prospect and a huge question mark in Soler for a promising, young, cost controlled pitcher and a solid, young MLB CF? I'm not sure why anyone would object to that, except maybe the Braves.

  • In reply to TC154:

    "Huge question mark".
    Let's revisit that opinion later this summer. You have been pretty consistently down on Jorgie.

  • In reply to TC154:

    My biggest issue with trading Baez or Soler is that in 2019, Bryant is not going to be a Cub. And Russell may soon follow. I don't count on any Boris client to avoid free-agency. That said, surplus is of great value. I think the Cubs need to keep their most talented kids to replace at least Bryant, if not more. If Soler shows he can't stay healthy this year, doesn't get at least 450 ABs, then I would listen.

    Right now I consider Torres, Contreras, and Soler pretty vital to long term success.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Isn't Bryant controlled through 2021 due to holding him back last year? (Normally 6 years extended to 7?)

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    In reply to RachOp18:

    Yes. It will probably be a choice between him and Addison Russell.

  • In reply to RachOp18:

    Yes, it would be 2019 to give 2 years of value. How much harder would it be to trade for one year when his contract in FA could be huge?

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    They're not gonna trade him unless there's a disaster. They'll be right in their window so it will make sense to ride the contract to FA, much like Jake Arrieta.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    So Bryant will be a Cub through 2018 and what happens to the cost control of 7 years? That takes him through 2021? Are they trading him with 3 years of cost control left?

  • In reply to chibob:

    No, I think mid-season 2019 would be a target or after the 2019 season. That leaves 2 years.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Ya, that is one of the few trades trades that I agree to.

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    In reply to Brian Steiner:

    More realistic than some proposals I've seen. I just watched MLB Network's list of Top Ten CF. Heyward was listed 5th; Inciarte not on the list. I'm curious where Soler lands for RF, and where both he and Heyward land at the end of the season. It seems worth the risk to give Soler a little more runway to see what he'll become.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Done and done. Where do I sign? And where does Bowden get this stuff?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think he made it up. If I'm the Braves I probably hang up the phone.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The performance of Teheran declined greatly last year in everything by his won/lost record. He has been rumored to be on the market for the entire off season, and yet no team has really made a run at him in spite of the soaring value of pitchers, especially controllable pitchers.

    There is no way I would make that trade if Soler is included in it.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Hi K/9 is still good and his BB/9, while it isn't as good as a couple of years ago, is still acceptable as well. Teheran was very good in 2013 and 2014 who's to say 2015 wasn't an outlier? He's got good stuff and decent velocity and he's 24 years old.

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    I don't think the Braves would touch that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Neither do I. Soler is projected a 1 WAR player for 2016, Enciarte projects at 1.5 and Teheran at 1.8. I get it that we expect Soler to be better than that but I'd expect the Braves players to be better as well.

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    In reply to TC154:

    So are you just skeptical of Soler or do you really like Inciarte? I get the idea of wanting a young pitcher, or even moving Heyward back to RF, but go look at Inciarte's splits. That .253 OBP vs. lefties is ugly. He's okay. I'd like to see what Soler becomes. His upside is better than both those players. Let is play out a little.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    It more of the latter but a little of the former. I think it's possible that Soler becomes better than both those players but I think it's just as likely that he's just a nice everyday player with some pop in the 2-3 WAR range most of the time. In Inciarte I think you have a CF in the 1.5-3 WAR range plus in Teheran an MOR starter who could be much better than that. Then there's the issue of putting Heyward, who's certainly in the discussion of being the best RF in the game, in his natural position. For me, for the impact it would have on the Cubs, it would be a steal. Even if Soler becomes the 5 WAR player some think it wouldn't be a bad trade unless Teheran runs into serious injury.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Fair enough. I appreciate the fact that this management team seems loathe to trade away prospects. Last year half the people here thought Soler would have a better season than Bryant. It seems like it is those very people who are now eager to trade him. I'd like to see it play out. And if a trade does happen, it follows the Castro model: a player who proved what he was and was pushed out by a better player. You could run the risk of not optimizing his value, but a Riske worth taking. Peace, brother.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Very subtle shot. It's possible to think both that Soler is a potentially outstanding hitter and a terrible fit for the team as currently constituted. And, really, is Adam Warren fair value for a Castro who proved what he was? A year ago people didn't want Noah Syndergaard for him. Would he have been worth more if he'd put up a full season like his second half last year? (Answer: probably.)

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think Warren is fair value for Castro. I agree that Soler may ultimately not be a great fit. That is especially true if Almora, like Russell, could force a trade. But Soler could be a great fit. I don't see the urgency of trading him now. They are projected to win 95 games. ESPN ranks the outfield as #2 in the league. I like their hand right now. I'm not discarding right now in the hopes I pull out something better. Maybe later.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    The reason you do it now instead of in July is because the player you want may not be there in July. If the Cubs outfield turns into the place where fly outs go for doubles -- and Theo clearly acknowledges that possibility in the Rosner article -- you have to improve the defense. If there isn't a CF on the market come July, too bad. You have to pray you get lucky.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    True. That's a risk. I'm not saying what you think say is dumb, it's not. The flip side is that Heyward may turn out to be a very good defensive CF and Soler and Schwarber turn out to be better defensively than last year. I would be willing to test that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I was not one of them! I wanted the Syndergaard trade with a fever. What if?

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I worry about pitching. It's the one and only major concern I have going forward. The defense s a concern but to me one you can roll the dice with. The proposed Braves trade addresses both and looks to make the team better for 2016 and beyond. That said I think that this team does look like a 95 win team and if this our hand I'm good with it. This particular was was just intriguing.

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    I would definitely make that trade. It would allow them to put Hayward in his normal position, and put a plus defender in CF. It also gives the Cubs a legitimate leadoff hitter and adds to their SP depth. I have my doubts that the Braves would make that deal.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    The brAves wouldn't do that trade.. we would probably have to add atleast 2 more mid grade prospects like a zagunis and maybe almora or something along those lines.. I read a trade idea 3 team that had the cubs trading soler to the braves, in cart going to the Astros and the cubs getting carlos gomes who is a free agent in a year,I would not do that.. I would trade soler for incarte straight up and think it would be a good trade for both sides.. If you can get Teheran involved I would love that as long as your not touching the big league roster.

  • Just one injury, and Maddon's deck of cards, I mean Cubs, is shuffled.
    Coghlan, Baez, LaStella, others may have to be "next man up".
    Quality depth is always needed.

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    Agreed. I think the fact that any if those guys can step in and start, all but LaStella at multiple positions, is huge.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Yes they can but at vastly different degrees of quality.

  • Jared, great piece of work. I definitely see Cog, Jorge, and Schwarber getting around 400 ABs each. I think each will play an important role. Javy should also get around 400 ABs. I think Kyle will catch each of Hendricks and Hammel's starts this year. Miggy will catch Jake and Lackey. This should free up ABs for Cog and Javy. The bench will be very interesting also. LaStella looks to be odd man out, since he can only play 2B and Cog/Javy can play 2B. The competition should be between Villanueva, Szczur, and Alcantara for the last spot. LaStella has minor league options left, so when Joe expands his position roster for the playoffs to 14 players, he has a chance as a ph. This is going to be fun to watch at spring training.

  • In reply to TROS:

    I agree, I think seeing just how the bench plays out this spring and how it is used as the season begins will be very interesting to follow.

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    This link is a pretty detailed interview/article with Theo. It provides a good overview of his thoughts on trades. If accurate, he seems content to go into the season with the team as currently constructed. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160116/sports/160119096/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Agreed...and with the obvious prospect redundancy we have (thinking Candelario, Vogelbach for starters), we figure to be active in the trade market. Let's see how this group plays together, and figure out what can be tweaked at the deadline.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Those two guys. McKinney might be a redundant guy. Almora is very interesting. He could play so well that Soler becomes redundant. Or vice versa.

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    One point on Soler: remember last Spring Training I caught a lot of grief for believing that Russell was the long term solution at shortstop and Castro would either be moved or traded to make that happen. Might have been the blind chicken. Might be I understand something about this front office.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm going with the "chicken" option.

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    You left out four letters.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Castro's minions have now become Soler's minions. Pay them no mind, if you ask me.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Tend to agree. I definitely think Theo is listening on both Baez and Soler but won't make a move unless he gets exactly what he wants at this point.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yep. I'll even go as far to say that both Baez and Soler would be in a deal if the right package comes back. That should tick off a few folks. lol

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I do see where Theo is coming from though. (Just had a debate about this with an old friend of the site.) I think if he doesn't get exactly what he wants now, waiting for the deadline makes sense. You just don't know what's going to happen. If Arrieta goes down in the first week, you need to be able to replace him. If Rizzo suffers a season-ending knee injury in July, you have to replace that bat if you're gonna make a real run. (I could see Baez in such a deal but not Soler.) If Almora rips the cover off the ball in AAA, that really changes your outfield picture. So I do understand waiting. I just strongly disagree that they aren't shopping both players. There is clear evidence that they are.

    What you want to avoid at all costs is where you desperately need a player and your only option is to trade Torres.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Or Contreras.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agree on all points. I think Torres and Contreras, for that matter, are in the big picture. I'd also love to keep Baez but as a super sub which has to be somewhat of a let down to those that are honest with themselves. He was a God and a can't miss HOF'er just 2 years ago as the #1 Cubs prospect. Now being pitched as the next Zobrist.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    i agree, but baez potential versatility makes him the more likely candidate to be held on to. soler i think will be traded and really have no problem if he does. sure he might become a stud but it's not something we will even be kicking ourselves about with the way the roster is constructed. you don't have to be 9 deep with hitters. alcides escobar led off for half the year for the defending world champions.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    No, not necessarily.I was not a Castro minion but I am Soler minion. Castro had plenty of years to prove his worth. Soler came off 2 years away from baseball and has had 455 ABs in the majors, or about 3/4 of a season.
    .268/.325/433/.758 stat line.
    Talk to me after this year and we will decide whether to renew my club card.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    I thought Castro was going to be traded too. Younger players who were cheaper passed him up. But I would like to keep Soler for a couple years, at least, to see what we have. I have a feeling he will break out and I want it to be with the Cubs.

  • In reply to John57:

    hear, hear! Most people gave me negative comments last year over the Syndergaard/Castro deal. Now they want to trade Soler and or Baez, and I think both will be better than Castro. I am not sure I see the logic in this turn ..........

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    My big deal with Soler is the injuries. Even the best projections have him playing 120 games which would be a career high for the guy. I'm more than fine trading him if our price is met but think him and his ski mask probably starts the season with the Cubs.

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    that's kind of the problem though. this team is built to win right this second. is a bat only corner outfielder the best option when they already have that in schwarber? i don't hate holding on to him, but only if you can't find a trade you like. honestly if you can deal hammel, coghlan, soler. vbach for a salazar or corrasco i would be 100% fine with that.

  • In reply to in theo we trust:

    This is how I see it. The team is built to win now and for the next 10 years. You don't really want to get your team uber good now by hurting it for the long term. We are already good now with no upgrades. I would let things ride unless of course some team blows us away with a trade offer.

  • In reply to in theo we trust:

    I am not against all trades. But I have to break even to like it. That is why I liked the Syndergaard/Castro trade. I felt we would get the better of the Mets in that trade. Now look back at it. I am not a baseball pitching expert. I learn a lot here about mechanics from these guys like John. How do Salazar and Corrasco project in the rotation in the future? If a #1 or #2 perhaps, but a #3? No way I trade Soler for a #3 starter. I would trade Vogelbach and McKinney, etc. for a young controlled #3.

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    Let me ask it this way. Let's say Eloy Jimenez goes on a tear this summer and is shockingly ready to play in the majors on July 31. Would you advocate moving Schwarber to C (with no further improvement in his defense) to get Eloy's bat in the lineup? If not, where does the defense/offense trade-off happen for you?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Eloy is not going to be ready this July so I don't have to worry about moving Schwarber to C this year. July 2018 would be the earliest Eloy could be ready. But what I would do is by July 31,2018 if Soler has been playing well I would be willing to trade him for equal value for whatever we need (who is kidding, it is going to be pitching) and then bring Eloy up to replace him.

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    In reply to John57:

    That's sidestepping the question. Where, exactly, is the trade-off between offense and defense settled in favor of defense? If defense is unimportant, why not put Vogelbach at shortstop where the bat plays extremely well?

  • In reply to John57:

    Mike,

    I would imagine every case/move is different and has to be done based on its merits. I am sure the FO models what the possible results would be to a move and they would take the move that increases the team's chance of winning. Most fans would probably want more runs and excitement when the best move might be fewer runs for us if there would be even fewer runs for the opponents. But the thought of Vogelbach at SS made me smile. He is my DH. :)

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I too, like Quasimodo, never would be known as a Castro minion. But unashamedly would submit to be called one for Jorge. Although he does need to ditch the ski mask.
    I think his ceiling as a hitter was previewed in the nine consecutive AB's in the playoffs against top pitching competition. I think his value will come to light very soon.

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    I do understand everyone's love for his potential. I do. But a couple points of order here if I dare.

    #1. All anyone here usually discusses is the loss of a player. Rarely do I hear about what the team might look like if a certain type of return is received. That is,, of course, until a change is made and folks are forced to deal with it. Example: Castro's departure.

    #2. We are no longer a team about waiting for potential. We are in a win now mode. If dealing one (1) player's "potential" gives a a guy that can make this team stronger today and for the next 2 or 3 years, the deal should be made. If the Cubs struggle because one with "potential" is traded, then we have bigger problems than any of us can really see.

    #3. How can anyone confirm that a guys production will be out of this world based on 9 consecutive AB's in the playoffs? As I recall, a guy named Murphy had an outstanding playoffs and not one guy talked about acquiring him. Solar gets a pass because of his age and injuries here, but let's not give him more credit than he deserves for such a small sample size.

    I know that I'm in the minority here. I still see a blockbuster trade going down over the next 12 months. I was really hoping to have seen it already but am fine with waiting if it brings us that big arm potential ace that is under control for at least 4 years. I also think there are a few that might agree with me even if we don't see them verbalize it here.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I've verbalized here, but can't fault some Cubs fans love of the prospects, especially when that's all we had for a few years. I wrote a few days ago explaining my life-long dread of the idea of trading young talent, only focusing on the possibility of losing a future star, and having to force myself to consider the current benefit. With the competitive nature of this team for the foreseeable future, it is time for us prospect-lovers to steele ourselves.

    I, too, see a large trade coming. Theo just said, definitively for the first time I recall, that he expects to dip into the farm system in the next 12 months to make a deal. I believe they fully expected to this offseason, but the market was somewhat skewed for young pitching. I admire their patience. But the deal is coming, and Soler is at the top of the list of talent being dangled.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Basically I base my opinion of Soler not on 9 at bats, but his knowledge of the strike zone, his power, his ability to square up a baseball and his plate discipline.
    He does have to show he can stay healthy and get more acclimated to cold weather though, those are fair concerns.

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    Good points as well. It's those very things that make him the valuable trade chip that he is. I guess we just wait to see how this thing plays out. Gotta admit that this type of problem is a lot more fun than any alternatives we have ever had in the past! LOL

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    Jorge Soler would be a starting corner outfielder for me over all but maybe 7 or 8 major league players. Unfortunately for him, two of those guys are currently on the Cubs roster.

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    knowledge of the strike zone? league average walk rate with a 30% SO rate. he chases low and away sliders all the time. he is an excellent fastball hitter, nothing more atm.

  • In reply to in theo we trust:

    I don't think you're seeing the whole picture. His minor league numbers point to his ability to manage the strike zone better than he has in his 1st 501 major league plate appearances. And remember, those PAs were interrupted by an off season and time on the DL. In the minors he struck out 17.1% of the time while walking 10.8%.

    Plus, he improved as the 2015 season went along. Early on last year and well into the summer, he was chasing that low and away slider. In April, he K'd 36.2% of the time. In May, that dropped to 30%. He was injured for almost all of June. He K'd 29.3% in July. I watched almost every game (not saying you didn't) and to my memory, he was laying off the sliders a lot better the last few months. The numbers reflect this. From August 1st through the end of the post-season, he had a 24.8% K-rate and a 14% walk rate.

    This is his first prolonged exposure to major league pitching. He's seeing the best breaking pitches in the world at the ages of 22 & 23 after having only 637 PAs in the minors. When looking at all the evidence, he seems a safe bet to continue getting better the more major league caliber pitches he sees.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    RE: #2- I think we need to reevaluate this "win now" mentality I keep seeing on the site. Sure we are positioned to be one of the best teams in the league this year but what makes the FO's work masterful is that the window should be open for the next half decade. And it may run beyond that. My point being there is no reason to trade either Baez or Soler when we strongly believe their potential could be a major contribution over these next few years.

    Secondly, I don't think trading both of them could net a true 'ace' at this point b/c they haven't had ample time to prove themselves at the big league level. You'd be selling low and only on projection.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Hear, hear!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    This is a bit of a cheapshot, I think. How do these two players even compare? I've never been a Castro fan, and was relieved to see Russell move to short, but I am definitely for giving the current starting outfield a chance. They were ranked #2 in the MLB by a person who is fairly knowledgeable about baseball.

    I do unabashedly like Jorge. He has power, a good knowledge of the strike zone, is fairly patient at the plate, and keeps coming up big in the most important games. There's a lot to like about him.

    He has things he has to work on with his defense, most definitely. And he needs to prove he can stay healthy. I have no problems with anybody who thinks it best to trade him. Why should you have problems with people who think it's best to keep him on the team?

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    In reply to HefCA:

    I was and am a huge Soler fan. But that all changed the day Heyward was signed. Heyward was paid a club record $184M. I simply believe when you pay someone that kind of money, you should be thinking that you want him playing his best position, which happens to be RF.

    I understand that Heyward may turn out to be an above average CF. But you don't pay a guy $184M to be just above average. You pay him to be an elite guy.

    This is why I changed my tune. Everything else that Soler minions argue to defend Jorge is just noise to me. Those very points that make Soler's projections so attractive are the very same things that should eventually land us the impact cost controlled power arm that this FO said they were looking for when the winter started.

    Unfortunately, my experience on this site labels you a supporter or a hater. There could be a third choice which is you really love the player but want the team to be stronger if the RIGHT trade opportunity is presented. It just hasn't happened yet in the case of Soler or Baez and that's why they are still wearing Cubbie Blue.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    You use a lot of good logic here, Boca. I don't agree with everything, but this is sound reasoning. If you believe Soler can stay healthy, there is also good logic for keeping the status quo in the outfield situation (#2 ranked outfield in MLB is fairly awesome!).

    I like to debate stuff like this. Probably a lot of the commenters on Cubs Den are the same way. There is some fairly reasoned logic for both sides of many arguments posted here. Not everyone has a perfectly cut-and-dried case for a particular theory.

    We shouldn't be knocking people who disagree, however. Argue against an idea you don't agree with, sure that's kind of fun actually. But saying that an opposing idea is not ever worth listening to, not such a fun idea.

  • Interesting or coincidentally Epstein spoke to this seemingly roster problem in a recent interview with Rozner (http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160116/sports/160119096/)

    "I've made that mistake in the past," Epstein said during a quiet moment at the Cubs Convention, referring to his time in Boston. "There's a real tendency to try to build an uber-team, and you can actually mess things up by trying to do that.

    "You think you have to address every single spot, you need double-redundancy, need a star player everywhere. You do that and you end up putting yourself in a bind, because you spend all your resources.

    "You become inflexible, you can't adjust midstream and there becomes kind of a hubris associated with the team at that point.

    "I prefer to build a really good team that we believe in going forward with flexibility and with certain guys challenged in certain roles, and see what comes of it."

    Therefore Coghlan is about flexibility and competition allowing for flexibility when the inevitable happens. I actually could see Coghlan starting in LAA at the start of the season in LF with Schwarber in the DH role during that series. Coghlan like Baez, Zobrist and Bryant all are IF'er/OF'ers where Schwarber is OF/C'er. If La Stella can take a few reps in the OF as well Cubs could have a real interesting tactical roster.

    BTW I know by default many think Szczur is the 25th man on the roster but I think it will start with Alcantara. He can play CF and also all the OF and three of the IF positions as a utility player and one my scout friends said their reports from winter says he seems to be advancing in his plate discipline and capability. Offensively he slashed .259/.336/.379 (.707) where his K-rate at 22% BB rate at 11%. BTW his last ten games his K rate fell a bit to 20% and BB rate up ticked to 14% from his league average with a slash line of .333/.429/.333 (.762). I was told he beginning to recognize off speed pitches better and laying off the garbage.

    Adding Alcantara to the mix with Baez, Coghlan, La Stella (and Ross) would allow more tactical situational roster moves during the game where Alcantara offers more baserunning capabilities than Szczur and can bat from both sides of the plate negating the L/R switch. It all comes down to contact, role playing expertise and fielding multiple positions. Therefore Cubs have depth here where both Alcantara and Szczur have Rule 6 options remaining and can be on the Des Moines merry-go-round through the season.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I should add if Alcantara sticks this time around this allows flexibility with Szczur and Almora in the regular season.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I don't think Cubs will go with 5 backup potion players. Like last year, I think they will have 13 pitchers & only 4 backup position guys. Right now, that seems to be Baez, Cogs, LaStella & Ross. So the only way Alcantra or Szczur make the roster is if one of the other 3 get traded. I would be very surprised if Baez gets traded because he is the only backup SS on the team. And Maddon seems to love him. I thought I heard him say that Baez is the best defensive player he has ever seen. Ever. That's a pretty strong statement
    I can see Theo shopping Cogs/ LaStella & Soler, but if he can't get what he wants, I'd assume Alcantra & Szczur will be on the Iowa shuttle

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Szczur is out of options. He needs to make the team out of spring training. His shuttle pass expired.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I like Szczur a lot. He is a fine young man. But if Alcantara is turning a corner and figuring things out, he would be just what Joe Maddon ordered. Another "Zobrist" type player who plays multiple positions and is a switch hitter. Flexibility is Golden.

  • I find myself - for once - and uniquely when compared to the last several years - hoping that the Cubs do not make any additional moves through at least mid Spring Training,....

    They find themselves in a truly unique position - of having more talent on the staff than they do playing time for members of that staff.

    Stand largely pat until April,.... I like this roster - including Cogs.

  • This has been a theme of the FO to keep depth and flexibility on the roster and Coghlan provides both. I think he will see a decent amount of pinch hit, double switch, late inning defensive replacement for Schwarber and Soler. The front office is all about this approach with the 4 swing men in the bullpen and players that can play multiple positions. Their roster is pretty well insulated from injury and it raises the floor in worst case scenario in how many wins they get. This is what good teams do to sustain success and look no further than what the St. Louis Cardinals have done for the past 15 years.

  • No to Coghlan in CF. He can start once a week for Schwarber and once a week for Soler. He can get more starts in the event of injuries. The rest of the time he is a pinch hitter and will get extra ABs with double switches.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Yes, definitely not for CF. As you stated, he can give rest to Schwarber and Soler, start in LF for interleague games when Schwarber DHs and pinch-hit. Perhaps, most importantly, he will also provide quality depth in case of injury. When going for a division title and championship, being able to sustain an injury and have a small drop off in production is very valuable.

    Which brings me to the thinest position on the team. Center field. If Heyward goes down, as of this moment, his long-term back-up is Baez whose experience in CF is 4 games in the Puerto Rican Winter League and shagging flies during batting practice.

    If the Cubs go with 13 pitchers, they're bench will consist of Ross, Coghlan (corner OF, 2B, 1B) Baez (super utility including CF), and I presume La Stella (2B, 3B, emergency SS). That's a lot of versatility for just 4 players, but only one who MIGHT be good in CF.

    There is some flexibility in the starting line-up. It's conceivable that Bryant could play some CF in an emergency capacity, and Zobrist started 7 games in center (45 innings) as recently as 2014.

    The only other players with experience in CF currently on the 40-man are Szczur and Alcantara. Szczur's lack of options and the Cubs talent-packed projected 25-man means we could see him released or traded (Villanueva as well) this spring which would open up a spot for a defensively-oriented CFer who has options left.

    So I expect the Cubs to make a 40-man roster move this spring for greater depth in case of a long-term injury to Heyward. It would have to be someone with options. That could be Almora or preferably someone from outside the organization.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    In the event of a long term injury to just about any starter, most teams have to go outside the org for a replacement. Its not like every team has a starting caliber player waiting at every position in AAA. The Cubs are actually situated better than any other team in that regard. I really don't think the backup CF "hole" is that big of a deal. The Cubs have a couple of good athletes that can cover in the short term (Baez, Bryant), a couple of prospects (Almora, Alcantara) that potentially could step in if the make some progression in their game. That is a lot of options. Yes, it would be nice to have a proven backup like they have with Coghlan at the corners, but Baez should be fine out there in my opinion.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    This among other reasons is why it would be really helpful this year if Arismendy didn't suck. Having a player with an option left AND defensive versatility is going to be handy if he can just lay off the junk a little bit!

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The one exception to that, as usual, is the Cardinals. Although even they had to make a trade to replace Oscar Taveras. But how many teams would win 100 games after losing their ace for the season?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They were able to absorb the loss of a pitcher, but as you said, they had to go out and get an OF to replace Taveres. No team has adequate coverage at every position.

  • But does no one think that swapping Coghlan and a redundant positional prospect for a Boxburger type wouldn't be beneficial? Would Alcantatara or a defensive specialist in the outfield be that detrimental to our massive lineup? I don't think so.

  • As this thread progressed yesterday I noticed an interesting contrast in the two players being primarily discussed here, Coghlan and Soler. Coghlan was the subject of the piece and Soler came up in response to a Jim Bowden speculated trade proposal. What I find fascinating is how differently theses guys were discussed. Coghlan was portrayed by several posters as a guy, mainly due to his defense, who no longer really fits and the Cubs could easily part with while Soler was mainly given a pass on his defense and injury history because of potential.

    Look, I get it in Coghlan he really doesn't fit this team provided the team is healthy but what if it's not? He can play all 3 OF positions (yes, yes CF not very well) and 2B. Plus he was a 3.3 fWAR last year. Granted he won't get the PA to duplicate that, but he is a solid player. If he had 3, or even 2 years of control he would be an ideal trade piece but with 1 his value is likely greater to the Cubs than in a trade.

    Then there's Soler. Nobody wants to trade this guy, and I mean that including myself and others who seem more willing to trade Hume than some. He could become a very good player, at worst he's a serviceable piece but the fact is he was barely replacement level last year and mat projections have him at a 1 WAR this year. His defense is an issue and, if you could pick up a good defensive CF that can hit some, you have the best guy at Soler's in the league on your roster. A trade was proposed that, if you look at it logically,was lopsided in the Cubs' favor and a majority said "no thank you". In response to this bocabobby said that people tend to only look who goes in a trade not who comes back and clearly that's what is happening here. Teheran is a promising young pitcher who is under control for 4 more seasons and Inciarte is under control for 5, the same as Soler. So in terms of control you would get 4 extra seasons and 2 players who would make your team better for a prospect who's still some time away from MLB and Soler. On top of that the combined projected WAR for the 2 players coming in return is much higher than Soler's. Yet because of potential people wouldn't make the deal.

    In the end I guess what's fascinating to me is that so many fans are fine with trading guys who aren't that useful in a starting role, despite having lesser trade value, than guys they think will be very good even if someone is willing to overpay for that player. Sometimes you really do have to look at a trade more in terms of how it helps than how it hurts.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I think most of us would make that deal, but the braves would hang up quickly on us. Cogs is an interesting position, no way he is back next year, and he is not a QO player, so long term the best option is to trade him, but he is a good lh bat on the bench and flexible enough. If this was not a potential WS year, I would trade him for prospects, but this shows how you start to lose long term value for your team as you go for it.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Last season, Teheran had a worse ERA than any starting pitcher on the Cubs. So he automatically slides into the 2016 rotation? Inciarte had a .253 OBP vs. lefties. Long-term, he's likely a platoon player, and I'm not comfortable platooning him with Baez. These are not great players. You are eager to trade Soler. Bobby is itching for a big trade.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I understand Teheran had a bad year last year but he had two good years prior to that and he's 24 years old and under control for a long time. As far as Inciarte goes didn't have those kind of lopsided splits in the minors so 2015 could be an outlier. He was even better in his rookie year with the D-Backs. I swear I'm not eager to trade Soler but help me understand why you would expect him to get better but not a 24 year old former top 25 prospect with TOR projections and a former 1st round draft pick with some good numbers after being picked up in Rule 5 by Arizona? All three of these guys are very young player and all three have good ceilings and have proven themselves to have reasonable floors. As prospects I would call Soler and Teheran nearly equal. The Cubs are in a bad spot with pitching going forward. If you can project Teheran to be a #2 in 2018 once you've lost Arrieta and Lackey why wouldn't you want him?

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    In reply to TC154:

    Teheran might be the 7th best starting pitcher on the Cubs in 2016. To me, saying that the rest of us don't want to trade Soler because we love him and would bypass this obviously lopsided trade is in accuracy. I'm on this site daily, and I can recognize the biases.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Ok, I get that you think I have an an anti Soler bias. Maybe I do in that I don't see a superstar, I see a solid player that will struggle on defense but still make a couple of All Star games and maybe a 4 WAR season or 2. That's a good player but it's also a guy you'd consider moving. Teheran in his age 22 season had 2.89 ERA, a 3.49 FIP and a 1.081 WHIP. That's a number 3 starter. I guess I don't get why you think his 2015 is so definitive just a year later. I really am not trying to make this discussion heated I just want to understand why with two very young players, that were both similarly rated prospects, that you see their upsides as so very different despite both struggling in 2015 after showing promise in 2014.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I don't think you have an anti-Soler bias. I think you have a bias toward wanting to trade a position player for a young controllable pitcher who is going to develop and be really good by 2018 or hopefully sooner. Soler is the guy you see as expendable and could get that. It is far from clear that Teheran is going to become the player you want.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Ok, that's fair. I do hold that bias. I guess over the last couple of years that what I assumed was going to happen and so far the pitching, outside of Hendricks, has come from FA and one really amazing trade. I'm not a guy that thinks you have to have a staff full of aces to win a-la the Mets but pitching does still win in the playoffs. This year I think the Cubs are well set up with Lackey as your 3 and someone out of Hendricks/Hammel/Warren that will emerge as a 4. I think that works but I'd like to see a young guy with TOR potential as that 4 if at all possible. Ian Kennedy got 5/$70 million over the weekend which tells me that pitching is becoming affordable unless you develop it. I worry about that particular weakness. I want to see this team with multiple shots at the brass ring as I do think the playoffs are largely a crapshoot. Honestly though if they win the whole thing this year I might not feel as angst-y. It needs to be April soon..

  • In reply to TC154:

    I would not really agree with your statement, "The Cubs are in a bad spot with pitching going forward. "

    I saw where the Cubs pitching staff was rated #3 in baseball for the upcoming year. If we are in a bad spot being #3 what do you call the spot the 27 teams with lower rated pitching are in?

  • In reply to John57:

    When I say going forward I don't mean for 2016, I mean for 2018 and beyond after Arrieta and Lackey are gone. If the plan is to get a young pitcher and let him develop into a TOR getting that guy and letting him compete in a World Series contention year would be a very good scenario. Guys like Teheran and Salazar from Cleveland aren't TOR pitchers quite yet but project to be. I'd like to see the Cubs get one now that grow with the team.

  • In reply to TC154:

    OK I see what you are saying. But for me 2018 is too far away for me to think about. I am thinking about this year and I think it is going to be fun. I am sure our FO is thinking about 2018 and beyond. that is what they are paid the big bucks for.

  • In reply to TC154:

    There are two things I would like to ask. First, there are 8 offensive players on the field at a time. There are 4 or 5 who also contribute. There is a slightly more lopsided perspective when viewing starters and relievers. A starter on offense or defense is worth more than the reserve (reliever). How do you maximize that core of player's WAR? The more star power you have, the less likely you are to have fabulous players on the bench, unless they are young and cost controlled. Some trades, like trading Hammel and prospects for a #3 have been proposed here. I think Hammel and Baez were mentioned?

    How does that help your total value?
    How does a trade affect chemistry, which Theo alluded to?

    If the Cubs trade for Inciarte, will he be effective enough against left-handed pitching, or will he be a platoon player which it appears he might be? Kind of like, "Soler will get hurt this year!" Now you have a platoon guy whose defense is worth less than what it would have been. Just asking! And when it comes to Teheran, who had a 4.04 ERA last year with a 1.31 WHIP. That is like a #5 on the Cubs staff. Cost controlled yes, but Teheran is also more of a fly ball pitcher than say, Shelby Miller. I think it portends caution. People talk about Soler just having "potential", then laud Teheran's "potential".

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    I should have said, "There are 4 or 5 bench players who contribute."

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    I agree with you that Soler and Teheran both have potential with neither quite realizing it yet and that term is fairly applied to both. Maybe Teheran is a step ahead with his 2013 and 2014 seasons but 2015 was a problem and he needs to turn it around. So does Soler. I think their potential is about equal and the proposed trade, which was just talk radio nonsense. added a player with some value in the Cubs current situation. My reason or doing a trade like that is more about the pitcher than it is the CF situation but the dovetail in that scenario. All that said I'm sure there will be other deals but what if Soler and Baez are both playing really well at the deadline or even all season leading up to next year's offseason? I'm guessing people here will be even more reluctant to give them up for pitching.

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    By 2018 I would expect our minor league pitchers to be ready. Look at Johnson and Cease and Sands and Steele, etc. I'm not against trading for a young cost controlled pitcher, but Soler has so much upside that I just have to keep him for the next few years--and then he's only 25 or so, younger than Heyward is today. Let's see what we have first. As John 57 said, we have the #3 pitching staff for next year--we don't have to make a rash move now. Let's see how the season progresses.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Hear, hear!

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    i would count on exactly 0 of those guys. and other than johnson, i see none of them being ready by 2018. 2019 and 2020 unless they show they can't handle a starters load and move to the bullpen where they can move quicker through the system. these aren't bryant and schwarber bats that can fly through the system in a couple years.

  • Couglan is a real asset with his versatility. We can rest any of our outfielders and not feel too much pain with Chris in the lineup. I am thinking about how much less confident I would feel if our best substitute were someone else from our current 40-man roster or like someone from past rosters - think Matt Sweeney, perhaps. Szczur is a guy I want to like, but his bat continues to disappoint. If Baez works out in center, and according to the latest reports from Hoyer, I think that is more than a dream, then who are the other two starting outfielders from the group of Schwarber, Heyward and Solis? Difficult decision.

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