Weekend Update … The Young Cubs Make More Lists

Apparently there is some big game on Sunday involving a team from Chicago against a team from Wisconsin … and the Cubs and Brewers are not involved.

After spending last weekend hearing and seeing numerous visual reminders, the future of the Chicago National League Ball Club continued being the hot topic during the week.

Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Starlin Castro received nods from the mainstream media. Here’s the update …

Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com released his top 10 lists by position of the top prospects in the game. The MLB Network will unveil Mayo’s list of the top 50 prospects in the game on Tuesday night at 8:00pm C.T. Starlin Castro made the cut a year ago.

As for this year’s top 10 outfield prospects, Brett Jackson ranked sixth in all of baseball.

From MLB.com report:

6. Brett Jackson, Cubs: Taken in the first round in 2009, Jackson jumped on the fast track by making it to Double-A in his first full season. While his individual tools may not grade out as plus, he can do a little bit of everything. He hit 12 homers and stole 30 bases last year, and there should be more power coming. While he strikes out a lot, he’ll also draw some walks and he’s capable of playing all over the outfield. With Brandon Guyer gone, Jackson could be the first outfielder the Cubs call up from the Minors when the need arises.

Brett Jackson should receive a non-roster invite to big league camp this spring. Jackson received a NRI last spring and turned a lot of heads in Arizona. Many feel Jackson will make his Cubs’ debut at some point in 2011.

Josh Vitters made Mayo’s list as the seventh best third base prospect in the game. The upcoming season is a big one for Vitters, as pointed out by Mayo. Vitters will be 21 on Opening Day and will not celebrate his next birthday until August 27 but with that said, it is time for the former first rounder (third overall pick in the 2007 draft) to take the next step (or steps) in his development.

The Cubs are happy with the progress Vitters made last year, before his season was cut short due to injury. Vitters has already participated in “Camp Colvin” and should receive his second straight non-roster invite to big league camp.

From MLB.com report:

7. Josh Vitters, Cubs: Chicago pushed Vitters up to Double-A when it had a hole to fill, and while he didn’t put up good numbers at all, the organization was pleased with how he prepared and dealt with the adversity. He still has the great swing, bat speed and raw power that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 Draft. He hasn’t been so great at making adjustments and doesn’t draw walks at all. He’s not great defensively, but has a good arm and should be able to stay at the hot corner. The 2011 season could be a big one for Vitters.

Starlin Castro
Jayson Stark’s All-Underrated team included a familiar name … at shortstop, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro. As Stark pointed out, Castro’s debut got lost in the national media among the amazing rookie class of 2010.

Castro made history as a 20-year old. As Stark mentioned, the numbers Castro put up landed him in the company of Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey, Jr. as the only other 20-year olds in the last 50 years that put up numbers like Castro did last season. Castro hit .300 with a .347 OBP and a .408 SLG.

The question about Castro has been keeping focused on a daily basis. With that said, Stark agrees with one of his scout buddies “this kid’s going to be a star – and I don’t know how many people realize that.”

One final note … The Cubs logo was also ranked this past week and checked in at number 11. Jim Caple said, “It works well enough because it is so identifiable and enduring, but I think perhaps it is also too derivative of a bulls-eye. As in, we’re an easy target for every team to beat like a drum.” Click here for Caple’s ranking of the 30 Major League logos.

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Well, there’s the update … GO BEARS!

Quote of the Day

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

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  • Tony_Hall

    I am still seeing the Cubs, following the same path as they did with Castro, and will call up Jackson to take over in CF in June.

    Last year we saw Berg, Cashner, Coleman, Diamond, Maine, Mateo, Russell and Stevens get to the majors and today, are still on the 40 man roster. How many guys will we see this year make it to the mound at Wrigley?

    Offensively, we saw Castillo, Barney and Castro, make it to Wrigley, and Colvin (who had a Sept callup in 09) hit his way onto the 25 man roster in ST, and the starting lineup during the year, and these guys are still on the 40 man roster. We need another year of major league debuts, to help get this team younger, but the key is they have to be able to stick. Cashner, Castro, Colvin seem to be sticking, along with Maine, Russell, Barney and possibley Coleman.

    So bring on Jackson, I think he will stick as well.

    • diehardcubfan

      Tony, I will have to disagree with you here. As much as I would love to see Jackson in center sometime this year it all depends on how the team is doing.

      With Fukudome, Soriano and Byrd tied up contract wise and Colvin likely the starter in right I just can’t see Jackson getting a lot of playing time unless the following occurs:

      1. The Cubs are struggling to get above .500 and need a boost.

      2. Fukudome gets traded. Good luck there. We can’t get rid of him now and I would actually prefer Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez on the bench over Fukudome but given Fukudome’s contract will find it unlikely that anyone will want him. The Cubs could consider releasing later in the year but doubtful.

      3. Byrd gets traded if he is having a good year. As many have commented and I agree Byrd maybe used as trade bait to land the other pieces to the puzzle if the Cubs are actually contending.

      4. Colvin struggles in his sophomore season and gets benched.

      I would personally love to see Jackson in CF but at the same time we have to many obstacles. Castro did not have the same number of obstacles. We all understoond Theriot was not Castro and Theriot’s contract was not Soriano’s, Fukudome’s or Byrds. That provided Castro with opportunity which the Cubs realized Castro was a better option at this point and the Cubs not in contention only made it easier to do the switch. I guess we will have to see as the season unfolds.

      • Tony_Hall

        Wow! You disagree, yet give 4 examples of how it could happen.

        1 – Cubs struggle – He will be here if this happens
        2 & 3 – Byrd or Fuku traded. I actually could see both traded during the season, of course depends on how they and the Cubs are doing.
        4. – Colvin struggles – could happen.

        Now, lets add some more.

        5) Soriano gets hurt.
        6) Jackson shows he is ready. Do you really think, IF he is ready, he won’t play over Marlon Byrd?

        • paulcatanese

          no.6 Absolutly,without a doubt.

        • paulcatanese

          I meant absolutely Jackson would play over Byrd,sorry about the mis-post

      • Keller

        Sorry to interject slightly off-topic, but I’ve starting have get irritated with the Fukudome bashing and the Colvin worshiping. Yes, Fukudome is overpaid for his level of production. But take the time to compare him to Colvin: same AB, better average, way better on base percentage (due to the almost 2X walks), more hits, more doubles, slightly fewer 3B and HR. And defense?: better fielding % and fewer errors.

        So. . .given that we all pretty much agree that the Cubs can’t trade Fukudome’s entire contract and will have to take a hit, why wouldn’t the Cubs want to keep an excellent defense outfielder that had generally better offensive stats than the golden boy Colvin (who isn’t exactly a baby at 25 years old). If he has a solid year, he could be a great bargaining piece at the trade deadline to fill a pitching or infield need.

        • The Maven

          Whether a player lives up to a contract is a tricky matter. If a player clearly under-performs, then it’s totally on him. However, if management over-values him, then it’s on them. In Fukudome’s case, I believe it was management’s fault for the contract, not his lack of performance. While he hasn’t done poorly, the Cubs could have saved the money and gotten comparable performance out of a combination of Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, and Tyler Colvin. I believe that this is were some frustration sets in.

          • Gary J

            This was a guy that had won MVP and batting titles in Japan – and hit with both average and power. He was comparable to Hideki Matsui and a legitimate star. A three year deal seemed reasonable at the time to lock him up while at the same time not having a huge time commitment just in case he didn’t adjust to the U.S. And while he’s shown flashes of promises a couple of times, he has no doubt under-performed the big expectations.

            It was a bit of a risky signing as success in Japan doesn’t always translate directly to the states, but it seemed like more than a worthy risk at the time. He was a star in the prime of his career. All he had to do was carry it over to MLB… which has been the problem.

            So while I agree there was some risk – this is more a matter of the player not adjusting to MLB rather than a failure of the management. Call it 70-30%. We weren’t the only team in on this guy after all.

            And other guys are right as well – having him as a player isn’t the problem. He’s been a solid defender and at times he gets red hot (although not nearly as often as we’d all like) – so he’s worthy of a roster spot. He simply hasn’t lived up to the money.

          • Cheryl

            People seem to forget that it was Fukudome who showed the most patience at the plate when he faced major league pitching. And, no one questioned his defense. But everyone hoped for more from him throughout the season. I think, like Gar, that he’s worthy of a roster spot, but I also think it would be better for the Cubs and for him if he could be traded. He’s no loafer. He tries. Management didn’t make a mistake with him. His record in Japan shows that. The question is what’s best for the Cubs and for him? I would much rather see Fukudome play in the outfield than Soriano. Could he play left field? If you could split Soriano and Fukudome in left and bring up Jackson for Center, after Byrd is traded and play Colvin in right that may be a partial answer.

        • diehardcubfan

          Wow, what controversy this has caused. Personally, I am not a Fukudome basher but at the same time I am a realist.

          As Gary J pointed out the anticipated level of production from Fukudome has not materialized for whatever reason. I personally like his defense and patience at the plate as he is one of the few Cubs who will actually take a base on balls.

          The biggest issue with Fukudome is his consistency. He is at best erratic. After 3 years in MLB one would hope he would be able to make adjustments but he has not and as others have pointed out makes his contract definitely over priced for what we are getting.

          The biggest thing on Colvin’s side is his age. Colvin as you pointed out is only 25 and that was his first full season. As for Fukudome he will be 34 in April so given that Colvin has more potential at this point I will have to go with Colvin.

          Colvin has the potential for much more upside than Fukudome at this point.

          To me Fukudome does not fit into the Cubs plans of the future to include the immediate future.

          Can Fukudome serve as a serviceable leadoff hitter, YES, but given Fukudome’s age and the likely higher upside of Colvin to me you have to play Colvin and then if he struggles get Fukudome in there.

    • paulcatanese

      You are right,look for Jackson this year. If he has a good spring training. Look for Byrd to be traded to make room. Fukudome,Soriano, because of contracts will not be traded.So Byrd would be possible and probable.Now if we can only get another backup catcher.

  • Chuck

    Look for the 4 Cs to foresee the future: Colvin, Castro, Cashner, Coleman. Do I need to say more?

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I agree this is a huge season for Vitters, and I am not ready to give up on him just yet, one thing that really concerns me is his injury history. We already have a 3b who is very injury prone. Maybe with the added muscle he put on this winter and moving from 1b to 3rd base he will be able to stay healthy. His strikeout % went up drastically last year, while his walk rate didn’t.
    Maybe with the added muscle we will see his power numbers shoot up, but he still needs to have better pitch selection. In a typical 1st baseman you want Power and OBP.
    Hopefully with the added muscle his confidence is increased, because it has to be down after last year. I am glad he will be at springtraining with the big league club, maybe Jaramillo can help to get him going in the right direction.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I agree this is a huge season for Vitters, his injury history concerns me hopefully with the added muscle and moving to 1b he can stay healthy. His strikeout rate went up last year, his walk rate did not.
    I hope with the added muscle his confidence is increased it has to be down from last year. I think his power numbers will jump, but his pitch recognition/ walk rate needs to improve.
    I am glad he will be at spring training with the big league club, maybe Jaramillo can get him pointed in the right direction.

  • paulcatanese

    15 minutes to kick-off,
    GO BEARS, BEAT GREEN BAY

    • paulcatanese

      I should have kept my mouth shut.

  • Bryan

    Off topic…but I can’t believe that Cutler didn’t finish that game today. Can you imagine a Rothlisberger, Favre or Rodgers sitting out at 14-0. I sense the local media is not going to write kindly on Cutler’s mental and physical makeup. It isn’t going to be pretty.

    • Aaron

      I watched how that team rallied around Hanie, and it almost seemed like Cutler had lost some of his teammates throughout the course of the season.

      It’s almost like what happened with Zambrano. You show up your teammates one too many times, and they soon put you in your place, allowing you to fail (baseball-fielders drop/let balls go through; football-lineman stop blocking, and receivers won’t try as hard).

      And while I know it’s just a movie, a perfect example of this was the Longest Yard, where Adam Sandler quit on the team and they knew it…..When he decided he wanted to come back and help, his offensive line let the pass rushers straight through and pound him.

      With Cutler, you can see some of the receivers just give up on a lot of balls and not even try to bat down easy interceptions. You can also see some of the linemen give up easy sacks without putting up much of a fight, and you’re thinking to yourself, “seriously…these guys simply cannot be THAT bad” There’s probably a little truth to what I’m saying with his teammates getting tired of his act.

      I’m telling you, I could see it on the sidelines how the guys rallied behind Hanie, and they made a game out of it. If Cutler throws that same pick to Raji where he rumbled into the end zone, it’s highly likely it would’ve snowballed from there, and the Packers likely would’ve won by 21 or more…but Hanie calmly came back, and led the team on their very next possession into the end zone.

      After the game was over, my buddy looked at me, and without hesitation, we both said, “Lovie and Cutler both have to go”…..and this is coming from a guy (me) that loves Cutler’s potential.

      But here’s the deal….The measure of a good QB is NOT his arm or athleticism….it’s what’s between his ears. Look at the QBs that are left. Big Ben and Sanchez are not regarded as true elite QBs. I’d argue that Rodgers really isn’t in that same category as ESPN did a special on him awhile back with how most of his wins came in victories of 14 or more points, and he rarely won the close games…But you look at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning….and even Philip Rivers, and none of those guys are athletic specimens, or even have cannon arms, but they win the big games because they’re smart with the football. Rodgers, especially this year, has started to be in that class.

      But you can relate a lot of this back to baseball, especially pitching. Look at guys like Maddux, Glavine, Buehrle, Pettitte, Niekro, etc., all but the currently active Pettitte and Buehrle have won over 300 games, and yet not a single one of them is the type of physical specimen that a Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, or Justin Verlander is, all of whom were very hard-throwing starters that have not, or in Verlander’s case, likely will not come close to the aforementioned pitchers in career wins.

      Because being the most athletic pitcher or quarterback, and throwing the hardest ball in the league can only get you so far. In order to take it to the next level, you have to master the mental aspect of your respective sport, and neither Cutler, nor Zambrano has figured this out. When Zambrano was coming up, and with the excessive movement on his pitches, I was like, “if this dude can get his stuff under control, he’ll likely win over 200 games”….with Cutler, people have said it ever since he entered the NFL with the Broncos, that once he realizes his potential, he’ll be an elite QB. We still haven’t seen it, and probably never will.

      The best thing that could happen to both the Bears and the Cubs is to get a no-nonsense guy as head coach that demands accountability, and won’t give veterans the benefit of the doubt just because they’ve been playing longer than younger guys.

      When Collins came into the game, I almost vomited….All of us watching the game at my house were like, “Collins?!? Really!?!?!? Wasn’t he demoted because he sucked last time he had to come in for Cutler, and Hanie was elevated.” And I think that, more than anything, is a huge reason why my buddy and I simultaneously said Lovie’s got to go (along with Cutler). Lovie gives veterans the benefit of doubt, just as Piniella (and we found out Quade does too late last year, didn’t we?)

      Until you get some no-nonsense coach/manager like a Bill Cowher, Joe Girardi, or LaRussa type in for both Chicago teams who have become FAR too complacent, you can expect the same results.

      Here’s a couple things I’ve noticed about both teams:
      1)Why does Bowman get the quick hook early in the year for botched coverage, but an undersized Tim Jennings makes countless boneheaded moves, AND penalties, and still retains his job? At the time, it was said that Bowman is young and still learning…

      2)Why does Collins get elevated to back-up when he was so blatantly overmatched early in the season when he replaced Cutler the first time? Just because he’s a veteran? Which seemed to be the common theme.

      3)Aromashadu gets the quick hook early in the season for supposedly poor blocking and performance with the slot position. But yet you have Knox and Hester consistently running poor routes, and not helping the QB by coming back for the ball, and they keep playing.

      Or…in the Cubs case:
      1)Quade benches Castro as one of his first moves due to mental lapses, but doesn’t even hold Soriano (hustle) accountable, or ARAM (fielding miscues, etc.) either.

      The Bears should find a sucker to overpay for Cutler (Raiders…LOL), and just go with Hanie, and start rebuilding the team with a new philosophy (Cowher). They need help at CB, safety (still), DT, OT, OG, WR, and they need to develop young linebackers to eventually replace Briggs and Urlacher as both are getting older. Soooooooo….like the Cubs, they pretty much need an overhaul of a majority of their roster, mostly due to age.

      The Cubs needed help at 1B, 2B, 3B (health/age related), LF, and depth at RF in case Colvin tanks his sophomore season.

      I’m not going to talk to much about the Bears, as this is a Cubs site, but I just don’t know how the Bears can improve next year.

      Guys like DT’s: Adams, Harris, Harrison
      CB-Jennings
      OT-Omiyale, Williams, Shaffer
      OG-Garza
      S-Manning, Steltz, Bullocks
      TE-Clark, Manumaleuna
      WR-Davis
      RB-Wolfe, Bell, Taylor

      …….these guys added almost nothing to the team this year. That’s quite a lot of guys that need replacing. How do you replace them? The draft doesn’t offer many impact players around where the Bears will pick.

      • paulcatanese

        Aaron you didn’t talk too much about the Bears. Actually if you would have replaced the name “Bears” with the “Cubs”name its almost an identcal scenario in your post relating to the Cubs.

        • Aaron

          That’s really funny….My brother sent me a text during the game that said “there’s always next year….wait, since when are the Bears morphing into the Cubs?”

          There’s a TON of similarities…too many to list. The McCaskey’s have always been like the Tribune, and the Wrigley’s prior to that.

          While the White Sox and Bulls are on the uptick, the Bears and Cubs are on the downswing, and it can be related DIRECTLY to ownership. Reinsdorf just doesn’t spend dumb money. He’s always said, in relation to the Bulls that he’ll go into luxury tax territory if it makes sense….he won’t just throw money around just to make a splash. It’s the same deal with the White Sox. I just got done reading an excellent article about how Andrew Friedman, the Rays GM, is following the same blueprint set forth by Kenny Williams prior to the 2005 season, where he allowed Ordonez to walk and traded Carlos Lee, dealing with a limited budget, and filled the holes with inexpensive, but quality veteran free agents.

          It astounded me when I heard the Rays have TEN…..10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freaking draft picks prior to the 2nd round:
          http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-spt-0124-rogers-on-baseball–20110123,0,419572.column

          So…..with already having a stocked system to begin with, and a young roster littered with young players such as: Price, Shields, Nieman, Hellickson, Davis, Jaso, Brignac, S. Rodriguez, Longoria, Jennings, Zobrist, and Upton, PLUS, their recent trades of Bartlett and Garza to land them guys like Archer, Guyer, Chirinos, and Lee….

          Then, you look at teams like the Steelers, Patriots, and Colts in the NFL, and you begin to see how fielding competitive teams is done. It’s done by making difficult decisions, cutting ties with fan favorites, all in the name of improving the team by recognizing when a veteran player is hitting the downside of his career.

          Just think about this for a minute…..Let’s say that in seasons where they were set to become free agents, we instead traded the likes of Sosa, Lee, ARAM, Dempster, and Zambrano. Just think of the haul we could’ve received for those guys at the deadline prior to their free agency. I’m not suggesting you do that with every single player, but the Cubs need to be smart about who they’re giving the big bucks to. The guys you build your franchise around are mid-20’s players just coming into their peak years. You can then identify which ones you want to give extensions, and the ones you want to use as trade bait to retool.

          All good teams realize this. It takes serious balls to trade/release popular players, but just look at the apparent dynasties built by the Steelers, Patriots, and Colts, along with the Red Sox, and soon to be the Rays. It’s just unbelievable that this franchise, along with the Bears haven’t realized that yet.

  • diehardcubfan

    In response to Tony_Hall, I would find it hard to believe that Jackson would play over Byrd. In my opinion I would find it more probable that Jackson would play over Colvin.

    I agree with you that if Soriano gets hurt then we will see Jackson. That to me is the most likely scenario.

    The second most likely scenario will be if Byrd gets traded and that again is a maybe.

    I think we agree it will depend more on how the Cubs are doing than anything.

    We will just have to wait and see.

    • Tony_Hall

      Really! You can’t see Jackson, playing over Byrd. IF Brett Jackson is called up in mid-season, the whole reason would be to start in CF.

      Brett Jackson IS going to start in CF over Byrd when he comes up, it is just a matter of when, not IF.

      • diehardcubfan

        You of course are assuming that Jackson will be called up at midseason. We are not the Cubs management and only during the season will we know if Jackson gets called up. At this time it is all speculation on our part.

        • Tony_Hall

          That is what I meant when I wrote “IF Brett Jackson is called up in mid-season”