Winter Leagues Week 14

Good morning! A very happy Martin Luther King Day to all. As the winter leagues continue through their playoffs, Cubs prospects are playing key roles. For more about their feats, take a look inside!




Venzuelan Winter League

Bravos de Margarita

Manuel Rondon

Manuel Rondon

It was a doubleheader sweep for Margarita on Sunday as they completed it with a 6-2 victory over Caracas in the nightcap. Cubs left-hander Manuel Rondon was able to nail things down in the seventh by setting down the side in order, including a swinging strikeout to end the game. Margarita 6 – Caracas 2, 7 innings

Cardenales de Lara

Lara brought out the bats in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Sunday as they beat Aragua 11-4. Ildemaro Vargas led off and lined up at second base, going 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored in the win. Lara 11 – Aragua 4, 7 innings

The Cardenales started the playoffs right on Wednesday by edging out Aragua 7-6. Second baseman Ildemaro Vargas was a big contributor, as he went 3-for-4 with a walk, double, and triple from his lead-off spot as he scored three runs. Lara 7 – Aragua 6

It was another tight contest on Thursday as the Tribe bowed to Aragua 5-4 to make the series even at 1-1. Ildemaro Vargas continued to impress at lead-off, as the second baseman went 2-for-5 with a run scored in the loss. Aragua 5 – Lara 4

Down 10-8 to Aragua on Friday, Lara stepped on the gas in the top of the ninth and cruised past the Tigres 19-10. Top of the order man Ildemaro Vargas walked and score in the ninth, as the second baseman was 1-for-5 with two walks, a double, two runs scored, and 2 RBI in the victory. Lara 19 – Aragua 10

Caribes de Anzoategui

Things didn’t start out well for Anzoategui on Sunday as they dropped the opener of a doubleheader with Zulia 4-1. Lead-off hitter Rafael Ortega was 1-for-3, while Designated Hitter Erick Castillo went 0-for-2 in the loss. Zulia 4 – Anzoategui 1, 7 innings

Wednesday was swing from the heels night as the Tribe and Magallanes combined for 29 hits, with Anzoategui coming out on top 12-9. Centerfielder Rafael Ortega went 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored from his lead-off spot. Ortega also contributed on defense, nailing two runners, at second and at third, for two outfield assists. Anzoategui 12 – Magallanes 9

The playoff series with Magallanes evened up on Thursday, as the Caribes fell 2-1. Rafael Ortega would go 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in the loss as he remained at lead-off and centerfield. Magallanes 2 – Anzoategui 1

It was a total collapse for The Tribe on Friday, as neither the offense or pitching were able to contain Magallanes as Anzoategui lost 4-1. Rafael Ortega moved to second in the batting order going 2-for-2 while Erick Castillo went 0-for-1 as a defensive replacement at catcher. Magallanes 4 – Anzoategui 1


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  • Good luck to Mark Gonzales, Cubs beat writer for the Tribune, leaving for other pastures.
    Now that many of the International signings have been
    announced, when will MLB rework the the top 30 prospects of
    each club ?
    Jon Lester to the Nationals, good luck to big Jon.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Looks like I am rooting for the Nationals. After the cubs of course.

  • Cubs still need to sign:
    1 starting pitcher
    2 left handed second baseman
    3 leftfielder
    4 defensive outfielder
    Any thoughts on who those 4 might be?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    My question is why do the Cubs have what seems like zero dollars to spend?

    Large market Cubs, who have a tons of fan support appear to be in a bleak financial situation, especially when compared to other large market MLB teams. Cubs should be able to use their large market financial might to help them when they reset/rebuild the roster, and during tough times like 2020/2021.

    I sure hope the Cubs are able to add multiple mid-level players before the off-season ends. This market is built for short term deals, with one eye on trading veterans during the season.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I'm guessing that the Cubs have money to spend if they wanted to do so. Big Jon was a good Cub, but doesn't fit into near or long range future plans. The Cubs are moving on. This team is toast. They have not won a playoff game since 2017. When the good player comes along that fits short and long term, they will have money to compete for his services.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I hope you are correct about Cubs ability to spend. I have very little interest in the Cubs bringing back players like Lester. Lester was a Cub for six years, and paid very well, time to move on. Wouldn't mind the Cubs literally trading every player with value and limited control.

    Cubs are the one large market team that had more than $100 million dollars of contracts come off the books last two off-seasons. They should have money to spend, but for some reason Cubs have done very little in the way of spending for the last three off-seasons.

    Why wouldn't the large market Cubs, even during a covid-19 rebuild look to add mid-level free agents?

    Trust me I have no idea, but this looks like a perfect off-season to jump start the rebuild by signing 3 to 6 mid-level free agents on short term deals for a total combined annual salary of $25 to $50 million. Large market Cubs should be able to do that, while still trading players away, & could even trade away some you sign mid-season to get more future controllable players/prospects.

    Cubs waiting until the season get closer before adding free agents could really pay off, but only if Cubs are willing to actually spend some bucks this off-season.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    You say: "They should have money to spend, but for some reason Cubs have done very little in the way of spending for the last three off-seasons."

    Last year the Cubs payroll was third in all of baseball. Yankees, Dodgers and then the Cubs. They have been over the threshold for last 2 seasons. What are you basing your statement on that they have done very little spending the last three off seasons?

  • In reply to John57:

    Why do you say that? Cubs have had one top teams in baseball with total players salaries for those years. Money only spends once. Every org has a budget. This one has not been successful because they are cheap. In fact, they have been penalized for spending above the cap. That argument just doesn't stand.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don't understand what point you are trying to make. What I am saying is how can the Cubs be cheap when they are spending the 3rd highest amount for team payroll in all of baseball?

  • In reply to John57:

    I'm agreeing. Sorry about that. My comment was directed to those that are convinced that the owners are using the Cubs as a cash cow. I don t see that. It's a reset and the Cubs are not in a position to buy their way out of this one.

  • In reply to John57:

    The Cubs largest free agent contract since the start of 2018 off-season was a 2 year $5 million dollar deal.

    Last off-season Cubs Chairman Ricketts brought up how Cubs paid a $7.9 million dollar luxury tax. You cannot buy a team/winner have to build them- Ricketts said things similar to this. I agree with those statements, but Cubs in 2019 brought in $200 million dollars more revenue than 3 of the 4 other NL Central teams. 2019 estimated revenue for Cubs was around $465 million.

    I'm not a fan of long term high price contracts. I have zero issues with trading away any, and all players.

    Since the end of 2019 Cubs have let go one way or another
    Lester, Hamel, Darvish. Chatwood, Quintana, Zobrist, Morrow, Cishek, Strop, Kintzler, Russell, Schwarber, Montgomery, Descalaso, Edwards, & Almora.

    I know it is over two off-seasons, but that is three $20 million/plus a year contracts, and four $10 million/plus a year contracts off the books.

    This off-season is a good time for the Cubs to spend some money, and flex their major financial advantage by signing multiple mid-level free agent signings. Of course I believe Cubs ability to spend is their one big advantage over most teams in good times, and even during a potential tear-down rebuilds.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    There was some chatter about moving Bryant to LF, and going to Bote as the regular 3B. If they are going to let Hoerner get some seasoning in Iowa - then yeah - 2B becomes an issue if Bote stays at 3B. Any interest in bringing on Tommy La Stella? He's kind of a known quantity, and probably won't been horribly expensive? Good contact bat and a lefty

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    LTD does kind of fit, but 'been there, done that'. I think Jed is looking for new faces

  • Okay. So that fretting over the Darvish trade was somewhat understandable. We all expected higher rated prospects: I get it. Schwarber signing with the Nationals. Sure, some people are upset. But now Cubs Nations (at least on Twitter) is acting like someone peed in their Cheerios because the team didn't sign Jon Lester? The usual moaning about the owner being "cheap." The fanbase needs to get over itself. The team is not that good. It has a ton of holes. It is rebuilding. Signing Jon Lester makes zero sense. He doesn't help build for the future in any way. It feels sooooo like the old Lovable Loser days. "Please bring Jon Lester back! We loooove him." Yeah, I love him to, but jeez.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    Lester played very well for the Cubs the last 6 years but he is not the player they need going forward. Got to use your brains and not your heart if you want to do well going forward. Thank you Jon.

  • In reply to John57:

    Well put. I, like many, loved the '85 Bears. I remember thinking in the late 80s the team would have been better served starting Neal Anderson over Walter Payton, but it made sense not to because we all love Sweetness. Then I moved to San Francisco and watched the 49ers trade Saint Joe Montana so Steve Young could start. They cut Ronnie Lott for Tim McDonald. They traded Jerry Freaking Rice so Terrell Owens could star. They were coldblooded. I really liked it!

  • In reply to cubs09:

    The Cubs gave in to the lure of trading their future for a small shot at the present. The first step, and it was not a terrible one, was to trade Cease and Jimenez for Quintana. It was justified on paper. Quintana was a decent pitcher with several years of control.

    However, like most deals like that, it did not work out. Even with Quintana on the staff, they had a very small chance of going the way, and it broke the back of the "next wave" of young players needed to keep the dynasty going. And like all slippery slopes, it snowballed on itself. Soler for a one year relief pitcher, followed by lower level but functional prospects like Candelario.

    And once on the slippery slope, it became impossible to do the tough but necessary things going forward. With all their young core due to leave in 21 and 22, it became more difficult to trade players like Bryant, who was going to be impossible to extend. Fans and the press would have been all over the front office who "threw in the towel" when they could have contended. Of course, they couldn't have contended, and it merely made things worse.

    Happ was called up too early, and had to go back down to correct weaknesses he should have been working on in the minors. The same with Hoerner. And although every one can point to a few exceptions, late first round draft choices are generally not likely to bring prospects that become impact players in the majors. Finishing in the middle of the pack for several years can destroy a farm system, and can not furnish replacements for the impact players that leave through free agency, rather than trades.

    It is possible for teams to be dynasties. But it requires discipline from the front office, and the ability to refrain from falling in love with your stars. You should NEVER allow your top players to leave through free agency, leaving you with nothing but a second or third round draft choice. They should have traded Bryant three years ago, and Schwarber two years ago. Baez and Castillo should have been given top level offers to extend last year, and if refused, they should be traded with the first reasonable offer.

    For God's sake, learn from the past. Do not bring up prospects who are not ready, and lose a couple of years of production while they learn on the job. Do not sacrifice the future for a long shot at the present.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I wonder if the cubs are going to rely on a rookie to play CF or RF?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Maybe one that gets on base?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    They don't really have a rookie ready to play either of those positions. I suspect that Heyward will play right, and Happ center. There is an outside chance (one that I am rooting for) that Alfonzo Rivas can play left. If not, if they don't sign someone, Bryant is likely the one in left.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    John57. You might like this bit on the Cubs in The Athletic. They rank the Cubs as doing the second best, behind Houston, in the international signing period.

    It’s been a disappointing offseason thus far for the Cubs, who have been in sell mode, but they made a splash with the signing of shortstop Cristian Hernández out of the Dominican Republic. The 17-year-old is long (6-foot-2) and lean (175 pounds) with a frame that has plenty of projectability.

    Last month, The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney wrote about the impending Hernández addition, saying: “Hernández garnered comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado because they had similar body types in high school — the kind of rangy, wiry, 17-year-old body scouts believe will fill in nicely and should be a pretty strong player when his development is completed. His twitch and explosiveness make him appealing both at the plate and as a defender. … Those who have worked with him rave about his work ethic and high baseball IQ for his age.” Click here for the full write-up.

    The Cubs also signed catcher Moises Ballesteros out of Venezuela. The left-handed-hitting backstop reportedly has easy power despite not yet filling out his frame. Baseball America ranked Ballesteros among its top-50 international prospects.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    With Hernández, Howard, Reginald Preciado and Yeison Santana we have 4 very good prospects to play SS. Made and Morel are not chopped liver either. Nice problem to have. Kinda reminds me when Castro, Baez and Russell were our SS players.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    Everyone who talks about Hernandez says very nice things. Also I read somewhere that we signed 10 IFAs total this period that experts were impressed with. I don't think it was the Athletic, but can't remember who. Sounds like Hoyer is trying to build the next wave.

  • In reply to John57:

    Yeah, this article was written before those additional IFA signings you mentioned. It's pretty clear where Hoyer is focused. I hope all they guys you mention are part of a second wave. My hope is Hoyer can trade guys on the team now that will add to Brailyn Marquez and Brennen Davis for the first wave. And then the changes in drafting will work out. They really do have waves and waves of prospects. And there becomes no more need for these painful teardown. It's hard to do!

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    Lately I have more faith in the IFA we sign than in the players we draft. Maybe we have better international scouts but look who we signed--from Torres and Jimenez and Brailyn Marquez to Amaya, etc. That doesn't even include those who we signed this year and last.
    I wonder who got the better prospects, the Cubs or the Pirates in the Musgrave trade? I haven't seen anything written about the comparison.

  • Kris bryant to reporter on baseball doesn’t “ have that joy right now” This dude is a mental midget and doesn’t belong in a winner’s clubhouse. I don’t care if cubs get nothing in return, hope he gets gone.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Maybe KB could phone fellow multimillionaire Yadi and they could commiserate about respect.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Still bitter AF I see.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Awesome. So you support underperforming crybabies? Typical dope.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Do you support anyone? Or just take out your pathetic resentment on someone who helped win a WS. GTFO.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:


  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Your dislike for Bryant is well documented in here. But let’s not take the article out of context. There never is joy when you hit .203 as the only player in the history of baseball to be college POY, MILB POY, MLB ROY, and MLB MVP in 4 consecutive years. He spoke about finding the joy like “when it hit my first HR as a kid when my dad picked me up”. You conveniently left that part out of the article.

    And your talk about a winning clubhouse—let’s be clear as the Cubs have done nothing but WIN since his arrival. 3 division titles and a WS win. Consecutive win totals of 97, 103, 92, 95, 84, 34 (92 wins over a full schedule). I hope we have many more players like Bryant coming through. Yes, he had some injuries. Took a 96 mph fastball to the head. And seemed to slump in a couple critical spots. But his body of work has been stellar. Let’s not let personal dislike get in the way of what actually happened. Bryant has been a great player for the Cubs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Good post.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Of course, the issue with Kris' statement is that it sounded like a whine. It's legit to feel that way sometimes, but it is best to keep it to yourself. "If you whine, you don't eat"
    Cliff Booth
    At this point Bryant needs to just stay healthy and produce. He is a real good at baseball.

  • Hey, Cubs just signed a below replacement level catcher as Willy's backup. The winter is turning around.

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