A Look Back at the CCO’s Top Cubs Prospects of 2011

Before looking ahead to the upcoming season, it is time to take a look back at the CCO’s Top Cubs Prospects prior to the 2011 season.

The Cubs’ system had its ups and downs a year ago mainly due to injuries to several of the Cubs’ top prospects, especially on the pitching side.

Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt and Chris Carpenter topped the CCO’s list of the top prospects in the Cubs system last February … let’s see how the top names down on the farm performed in 2011.

Players with extensive time at the big league level were not included on the CCO’s top prospect list, as well as players that had yet to play professional baseball.

The CCO’s 2011 Pre-Season Top Cubs Prospects
1. Brett Jackson, OF
2. Trey McNutt, RHP
3. Chris Carpenter, RHP
4. Jay Jackson, RHP
5. Josh Vitters, 3B/1B
6. Matt Szczur, OF
7. D.J. LeMahieu, IF
8. Reggie Golden, OF
9. Rafael Dolis, RHP
10. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
11. Michael Burgess, OF
12. Ryan Flaherty, IF/OF
13. Alberto Cabrera, RHP
14. Justin Bour, 1B
15. Junior Lake, IF
16. Welington Castillo, C
17. Aaron Kurcz, RHP
18. Brooks Raley, LHP
19. Logan Watkins, 2B/SS/OF
20. Marwin Gonzalez, IF/OF

Click on the player’s name to go to their page on Baseball-Reference

#1 – Brett Jackson, OF
Brett Jackson would have made his big league debut this year if he did not hurt his pinkie sliding back into the second base bag back in May. Jackson ended up on the DL around the same time Marlon Byrd was hit in Boston. Once Jackson returned, he could not get back to where he was in time and ended up finishing the year with the I-Cubs.

Brett Jackson put together an excellent season and performed well with Team USA in the PanAm Games.

After compiling a .256/.373/.443/.816 line in 67 games with the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A), Jackson finished with a .297/.388/.551/.939 line in 48 Triple-A games after a slow start. Jackson seemed to flourish in the hitter’s league and hit more doubles (13) and just as many homers (10) as he did in nearly 20 fewer games at the lower level (10 doubles, 10 homers). Jackson compiled 102 total bases in 48 games with the I-Cubs compared to 109 in 67 games with the Smokies.

In 115 total games last season, Jackson hit .274/.379/.490/.869 with 23 doubles, five triples and 20 home runs. Jackson also stole 21 bases and was caught seven times. A 20-20-20 season … not bad for the 23-year old outfielder in just his second full season of pro ball.

One of Jackson’s underrated assets is his defense. Along with several other players, Jackson helped raise the defensive level of the Iowa Cubs to tops in the PCL. Opposing Triple-A managers ran on Jackson early and often until his eight outfield assists deterred them.

Many felt Jackson deserved a September call-up but with the organization in flux, it made sense to leave him off the 40-man roster and use the spot for one of the many players the Cubs need to protect this winter. Jackson will receive a big league invite to Spring Training but will likely begin the year as the starting centerfielder for the Iowa Cubs.

#2 – Trey McNutt, RHP
When last season began the feeling was that Trey McNutt would see time in the show before the year ended. Like so many pitchers up and down the Cubs’ system, McNutt dealt with one injury after the other. Early in the season it was a blister issue but soon after he was able to get that under control, he dealt with a rib injury after a collision on the base paths.

McNutt was 5-6 in only 23 games, 22 starts, this season with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP. McNutt struck out only 65 batters in 95 innings while walking 39 batters and giving up 120 hits. McNutt finished the year healthy and made up a little the time he missed in the Arizona Fall League.

McNutt was 0-2 in seven starts for the Mesa Solar Sox with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. McNutt surrendered 22 hits, seven walks and four home runs to go along with eight strikeouts in 18 innings.

Trey McNutt turned 22 in August and has shown he has big league stuff. McNutt could still figure into the Cubs’ plans in 2012 but he will need a huge Spring Training to keep from starting the year back in Double-A with the Smokies.

#3 - Chris Carpenter, RHP
Chris Carpenter had a big year that ended on the DL. Carpenter started the season in Iowa and struggled. He was sent to Double-A to build his confidence and it worked. Carpenter was added to the Cubs 40-man roster and received a call to the show.

Carpenter showed a lot of promise in a short time in Chicago before returning to Iowa. Carpenter was a combined (Double-A and Triple-A) 3-4 in 32 minor league games with a 5.91 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP … with the Cubs, no record in 10 games with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP.

The hard-throwing right-hander must work on his control (27 walks in 42 2/3 innings with 34 strikeouts) in order to be an effective big league reliever.

Chris Carpenter turned heads in the AFL in the fall of 2010 and was 1-1 in 11 games last fall with the Mesa Solar Sox. Carpenter struck out 18 batters, walked two and gave up 15 hits in 13 2/3 innings (3.29 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP). Carpenter figures to be in the picture for a spot in the Cubs’ this season … especially with the departure of Andrew Cashner.

#4 – Jay Jackson, RHP
Like Trey McNutt, Rob Whitenack, Chris Carpenter, Hayden Simpson and the list goes on and on, Jay Jackson dealt with injuries all season and was never able to get on track.

Jay Jackson posted an 8-14 record in 26 starts with a 5.34 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP after beginning the season on the DL. Jackson struggled with consistency and like Brett Jackson, will all of the injuries at the big league level if he would have been healthy (and effective) enough he would have been in the big league rotation … instead of spending the entire year at the Triple-A level.

This spring will be a big one for the Cubs former ninth round pick (2008).

Jay Jackson turned 24 years old last October (October 27, 1987) and still has plenty of time to get back on track … and end up in the Major Leagues.

#5 – Josh Vitters, 3B/1B
Josh Vitters had a rough start to the season but finished strong … and for the first time in his pro career, he stayed healthy. Vitters played in a career-high 129 games for the Smokies this season (plus the post season).

Vitters put together a .283/.322/.448/.770 line with 28 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs in 129 games at the Double-A level in 2011.

The free-swinging Josh Vitters also learned how to take a pitch or two and ended up walking a career-high 22 times. Vitters makes contact (54 strikeouts in 488 plate appearances), which is good … and bad all at the same time.

After promotions took away many of the clubhouse leaders for the Smokies, Vitters really stepped up his game. While trying to lead the team to a second half championship, Vitters always seemed to come up with a clutch hit as the team fell just 2.5 games short of their goal.

The feeling is Josh Vitters will end up at a position other than third base. Vitters continued to struggle at third base defensively last season and spent time at first base. The Cubs sent him to the AFL where he spent a little time in left field … and first base. The Cubs have said he will begin the season as a third baseman but if improvements are not made early on, look for him to be moved around the field.

While in the AFL, Vitters hit the cover off the ball … .360/.383/.540/.923 in 24 games (100 at bats) with 36 hits, six doubles, four home runs and four walks.

Josh Vitters was added to the Cubs 40-man roster this winter … but figures to be at least a year away from making his big league debut.

#6 – Matt Szczur, OF
Matt Szczur put together a good first full season of pro ball and was even named to the XM Futures Game. Szczur hit a combined .293/.335/.423/.758 with 22 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs in 109 games with the Peoria Chiefs (Low-A ball) and Daytona Cubs (High-A ball). Szczur excelled while with the Chiefs (.314/.366/.431/.796 with 15 doubles, a triple and five home runs in 66 games) but struggled after he was promoted to the D-Cubs (.260/.283/.410/.694 with seven doubles, two triples and five home runs in 43 games).

The main concern with Szczur offensively is his lack of patience at the plate. In 480 plate appearances last season, Szczur walked 26 times. Scouts rave about his speed but until he learns how to take a pitch, and a walk, he will not be a successful big league ball player.

Matt Szczur is applauded for his work ethic and character … and the upcoming season is an important one for the 22-year old outfielder (July 20, 1989). Some scouts are rating Szczur as one of the organization’s best defensive outfielders.

#7 - D.J. LeMahieu, 3B/2B/SS
D.J. LeMahieu made his big league debut last season but did not survive the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer house cleaning. At the minor league level, LeMahieu hit a combined .319/.354/.423/.777 in 108 games with the Smokies and I-Cubs. LeMahieu hit 22 doubles, three triples and five home runs … but only 25 walks in 449 plate appearances.

If LeMahieu can develop a little power he could end up having a good Major League career.

D.J. LeMahieu, along with Tyler Colvin, was traded to the Rockies on December 8 for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers.

#8 – Reggie Golden, OF
Reggie Golden had a rough 2011 season and like many players in the Cubs’ system, the upcoming season is very important for his career. Golden showed up to Spring Training out of shape, ended up staying in Extended Spring Training and playing only in Short-Season A-Ball in Boise.

Once he began playing with the Hawks, he struggled to the tune of a .242/.332/.420/.752 line with 10 doubles, five triples and seven home runs in 64 games (265 plate appearances). Golden walked 28 times to go along with 68 strikeouts. However, Golden’s numbers really improved in the final ten games of the season. Golden hit .305 with five home runs and 12 RBI, good for Player-of-the-Week honors for the season’s final week.

Reggie Golden has the tools to be a very good ballplayer and projects to hit with power … maybe this spring he will show up ready to play.

#9 – Rafael Dolis, RHP
Rafael Dolis began the season in the Smokies’ rotation but soon moved to the pen and flourished. Dolis was 8-5 in 51 games, four starts, with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Dolis saved 17 games for the Smokies before receiving a call-up to the Show in September.

Dolis has a power arm but struggles with his command from time to time (35 walks and 48 strikeouts in 51 innings). If he can harness his fastball and slider, the Cubs could end up with another impressive late-inning reliever.

#10 - Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
Jae-Hoon Ha spent last season going between the Daytona Cubs and Tennessee Smokies. After beginning the year in High-A ball, Ha was promoted to Double-A when Brett Jackson went to the DL. When Jackson returned, Ha was demoted … then promoted again when Jackson went to Iowa.

Ha put together a .279/.315/.413/.728 line in 132 combined games in his first full season of pro ball. Ha hit 31 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs while being successful in 17 of 30 stolen base attempts. At the Double-A level (61 games), Ha hit .283/.320/.403/.722 with 16 doubles, a triple and three home runs while hitting at the top of the line-up for most of his stay. Not bad for someone who turned 21 at the end of October. After being signed by the organization as a catcher, Ha was rated by Baseball America as the system’s best defensive outfielder with only three years of experience at the position.

#11 – Michael Burgess, OF
Michael Burgess came to the organization from the Nationals in the Tom Gorzelanny deal last January. Burgess struck out 111 times in 122 games last season with the D-Cubs and managed just a .225/.323/.427/.750 line with 24 doubles, one triple and 20 home runs. The numbers reflect Burgess’ raw power, having a combined 45 extra base hits but only one stolen base.

Burgess is only 23 years old (October 20, 1988) and he needs to take the next step in his development.

#12 – Ryan Flaherty, IF/OF
Ryan Flaherty had a big year with the Smokies (.305/.384/.523/.907 with 20 doubles, two triples and 14 home runs in 83 games) before receiving a promotion to Triple-A. Flaherty struggled again with a promotion. One of the knocks on Flaherty has been his inability to adjust and the numbers he put up with the I-Cubs proved the point (.237/.277/.399/.676 with 11 doubles, a triple and five home runs in 49 games).

As a whole, 2011 was a very good year for Ryan Flaherty (.280/.347/.478/.824 with 31 doubles, three triples and 19 home runs) and it earned him a chance with another organization.

The Baltimore Orioles selected Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 draft and he will compete for a spot on their 25-man roster this spring. If Flaherty cannot adjust to big league pitching, he will be offered back to the Cubs.

#13 - Alberto Cabrera, RHP
The 23-year old right-hander (played last season at 22 years old), had a rough year splitting time with the Tennessee Smokies and Iowa Cubs. Cabrera was 6-2 in nine starts at the Double-A level with a 5.36 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP and was 3-6 with the I-Cubs in 19 games, 17 starts. Cabrera posted a 6.60 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP in 88 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level (67 strikeouts, 53 walks and 118 hits).

Cabrera is another player on a long list that needs a bounce back season in 2012. Cabrera was added to the 40-man roster prior to the 2011 season … and his options clock is clicking.

#14 – Justin Bour, 1B
Justin Bour played a career-high 133 games last season and put together a .277/.335/.478/.813 line with 30 doubles, a triple and 23 home runs in 558 plate appearances. Bour, like a majority of the Cubs’ system, showed little patience at the plate and managed only 46 walks to go along with 105 strikeouts.

Bour did not adjust well to playing an entire season in the hitter friendly Florida State League after a .291/.375/.436/.811 line the year before at Peoria.

#15 - Junior Lake, SS
After a great start with the Daytona Cubs (.315/.336/.498/.834 line with 11 doubles, four triples and six home runs), Junior Lake struggled at the Double-A level and had some thinking the Cubs would try to put the 21-year old on the mound. Lake hit just .248/.300/.380/.680 in 67 games with the Smokies (10 doubles, two triples and six home runs) and still refused to take a walk (six walks in 216 plate appearances with the D-Cubs, 13 walks in 262 plate appearances with the Smokies). Lake really struggled when placed near the top of the batting order, but seemed more comfortable at the lower end. Lake stole a combined 38 bags last year.

Junior Lake truly struggled with his defense. Lake committed a combined 34 errors last season and that was down from a combined 41 errors in 2010 and a combined 42 errors in 2009. Lake continued to have problems defensively in the AFL, committing another five errors, both fielding and throwing.

Lake had a very good AFL season and turned a lot of heads (.296/.352/.548/.900 with eight doubles, three triples, five home runs and 18 stolen bases in 28 games). The Cubs added Lake to the 40-man roster and are hoping his fall league performance is a sign of good things on the horizon.

The Cubs are very high on the 21-year old (March 27, 1990) Junior Lake.

#16 – Welington Castillo, C
Welington Castillo dealt with one injury after the other last season and managed only 75 games at three levels of the minors last year. Castillo hurt his hamstring in Spring Training last year and was not able to get back to 100 percent all year.

In just 61 games with the I-Cubs, Castillo showed improvement at the plate and in the field. The 24 year old catcher hit .286/.351/.524/.875 with nine doubles and 15 home runs.

The Cubs have always like Welington Castillo and he improved his stock last season in limited action. Castillo is expected to compete for a back-up job this spring.

#17 - Aaron Kurcz, RHP
The Cubs’ 11th round pick in the 2010 draft had a very good first full season in pro ball. Aaron Kurcz was 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 32 games, 12 starts, with the D-Cubs. Kurcz walked 34 and struck out 91 in 82 1/3 innings. Kurcz appeared to perform better as a reliever. In 20 appearances he had a 2.72 ERA with a better than 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (49 strikeouts, 12 walks) while holding opposing hitters to a .169 average.

Kurcz throws his fastball consistently in the low to mid 90s and showed improvement with his slider.

Aaron Kurcz should begin the season at the Double-A level and if he keeps performing like he did last year, he could reach the big leagues before his 23rd birthday (August 8, 1990).

#18 – Brooks Raley, LHP
The 23-year old southpaw (June 29, 1988) had a good year at the Double-A level and helped lead the Smokies to a first place finish in the Southern League. Raley was 8-10 in 26 games, 25 starts, with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP (80 strikeouts, 45 walks and 170 hits surrendered in 136 1/3 innings).

#19 – Logan Watkins, 2B/SS/OF
Logan Watkins bounced back from a poor showing in 2010 and put together a solid season in a career-high 125 games in 2011. Watkins hit .281/.352/.404/.756 with 15 doubles, 12 triples and five home runs with the Daytona Cubs. Watkins walked 44 times in 502 plate appearances to go along with 97 strikeouts. Watkins stole 21 bases, good for third in the minor league system behind Junior Lake (a combined 38 steals) and teammate Evan Crawford (32 steals)

Watkins also showed off his versatility by playing all three outfield spots (one in right, three in center, eight in left) and three of the four infield positions (45 at short, one at third and 72 at second base).

Logan Watkins improved his stock last year in his second full season of pro ball.

#20 - Marwin Gonzalez, IF/OF
Like Ryan Flaherty, Marwin Gonzalez’s very good season earned him a shot with another organization. Gonzalez hit a combined .288/.343/.400/.742 in 124 games between the Smokies and I-Cubs last year. Gonzalez helped lead the first place Smokies in the first half (.301/.359/.421/.780 in 64 games) and helped the I-Cubs play better ball in the second half (.274/.326/.376/.701 in 60 games).

The Red Sox selected Gonzalez in the Rule 5 Draft and traded him to the Houston Astros. Gonzalez has a real shot of sticking on the Astros’ 25-man roster throughout the entire 2012 season.

Coming Soon: The CCO’s Top Cubs Prospect List for 2012

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • Tony_Hall

    Great recap on the 2011′s CCO’s top prospect list players status.

  • Tony_Hall

    For anyone thinking the Tigers are looking at Soriano to fill their hole from VMart being lost for the year as DH.  This here lists 10 options, and no Soriano…even lists Fukudome or DLee…ouch that hurts.

    “Before Carlos Pena re-upped with the Rays, it appeared he was at the top of theTigers’ list.  Now, Stark says that the club could deal for Bobby Abreu, sign Yoenis Cespedes, or bring Johnny Damon back for another go-round in Detroit.  Outside of those players, the club could look into left-handed-hitting free agents such as Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibanez, J.D. Drew, and Kosuke Fukudome.  Right-handed options include Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez, Cody Ross, and Derrek Lee.”

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have signed Matt
    Tolbert to a minor league contract that includes an invite to big league camp

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/tolbema01.shtml

    • cubtex

      Haha. Another sub .200 avg added as an invite to major league camp :) How many is that now? Amezega,Tolbert,Stewart… I think I should make a comeback :)

      • Tom U

        I understand the skepticism, Cubtex, but I actually feel the signings of Gonzalez, Amenzaga, and Tolbert are better than Augie Ojeda last year.

        Unlike Ojeda, this year’s signings are just ballplayers who can possibly make the team better, or not. There are no emotional attachments or favors involved. Just strictly business. 

        If you do make a comeback, let me know. I’d like to be there to cheer you along.

        • cubtex

          Lol. I don’t think this old body can play 2 days in a row anymore!

      • paulcatanese

        There gonna need a bigger park in AZ.

        Start practicing you’re pivots:)
        Third base is always open for the older guys:)

        • cubtex

          how about it Paul…. You can take 3B(until Castro pushes you out :)

          • paulcatanese

            I know I could still bunt the ball, but then who would run to first base?
            Still have the hands to field it, again, someone would have to throw the ball for me:)

          • Dorasaga

            That’s why you keep Castro at shortstop.

          • paulcatanese

            Smart axx:)

          • paulcatanese

            please don’t take my response literal, it was meant to be funny.For Dorasaga

          • Dorasaga

            It sure was. Same here. :)

  • Anthony

     Other than Matt Garza, which Cub would bring in the largest haul of both MLB ready and prospects?

    Epstein sees each season as a “sacred opportunity to win” and insists the Cubs “have more talent than we’re given credit for.”
     
    They see a plan. They see a roster getting overhauled. They see reason to have hope, and right there with them are the owners, the Ricketts family.
     
    We do have a lot of depth, albeit at the lower levels. I think with a few more acquisitions and prospects and a solid draft, you’re going to see our system start to creep up into the upper third

    Epstein also intends to “take a creative look at the big league team.”
    When he began talking about “parallel fronts,” “supply and demand dynamics” and “information management systems,” it was glaringly apparent Cubs baseball boss Theo Epstein was operating on a different plane than his predecessors.
     
    He said his now famous computer program, or “information management system,” was being overhyped by the media and obscuring his belief in traditional scouting methods. He also pointed to his goal of working on “parallel fronts” — or building the scouting and player development department while also trying to win in the short-term.

    “As we do with all of our players, we weigh all of our options.
    Discussing and making trades is not a black and white business. Teams “discuss” dozens and dozens of players with dozens of teams each Winter (and mid-season). Sometimes the discussions are long, deep, and involve actual proposals. Sometimes the discussions are short, terse, and consist entirely of a five minute phone call checking in on the availability of a player (who proves to be unavailable).
    “being unpredictable is a competitive advantage.”

    Epstein adds, “I’m not going to say we aren’t going to make a move that’s unanticipated, or catch people by surprise, or not perfectly fit into that little box that’s generally our philosophy. That’s how we are evaluating moves as we look to build this thing.”
     
    …. Offensively, the things he has done is what guys who go on to be ten-time All-Stars and Hall of Famers do.

    the Cubs are telling other teams that they’ll listen to offers on everyone on the roster this Winter

    “Being a member of the Cubs carries with it a very high standard of conduct and responsibility,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday during a conference call to discuss the trade for Anthony Rizzo. “While we cannot address (the Castro) matter at this time, we do want to emphasize the organization’s commitment to being respectful members in the community and positive examples.”
    In the meantime though, it is clear the Cubs aren’t sure how to handle the prickly story since they reprinted new copies of their pocket schedule replacing Castro’s picture with another image.  
     
    ‘the team is taking the matter very seriously.’  
     
    was not made available to the media
     
    Epstein was not talking specifically about Castro. But he acknowledged that the Cubs will have to be able to find and develop players who can deal with all the temptations in this city. “It’s been a factor in ruining some careers,” Epstein said. “I’m sure it’s been (an) impediment to the Cubs of winning.
     
    “We’re not just going to say, ‘Oh, that’s the way it is in Chicago, boys will be boys, I’m sure they’ll get enough sleep and be able to show up the next day ready to play.’ That’s failure on the organization’s part.”
     
    ,” Ricketts said. “It’s really not appropriate for us really to talk much beyond that. We just all hope it gets resolved as quickly as possible and everybody moves forward.”
     
    It didn’t go unnoticed that the Cubs pulled Castro off as the cover boy for the pocket schedules. That is either their way of covering their butts for now, or maybe Castro lost his face of the franchise status.
    I doubt the Cubs would be thinking of dealing the talented, young shortstop after this incident. Even if he is completely innocent, with this front office you never know. They don’t appear to be afraid to move anyone.

    This was Castro’s second trip to Chicago since the alleged incident took place, at the end of September. He was in town in mid-November, which his representatives and the Cubs described at the time as a get-to-know-you meeting
     
    In one interesting twist, the Cubs have changed the cover of their pocket schedules from a photo of Castro to generic Wrigley Field shots.

  • WidespreadhisPanic

    Thanks for posting this recap.

    I’m looking forward to your 2012 CCO Prospect list.

    Seems like hitters’ lack of patience ran amuck in 2011 throughout the system. Health concerns too.

    • Tom U

      I attribute it to more of a culture than anything. Under previous management, prospects had to literally slug their way onto the big league roster, and even that sometimes wasn’t good enough.

      I believe the current management will be taking most of next season to weed out the players unable to grasp the new approach. Fans can possibly see a lot of prospects added to deals during the season.

  • Coachdon

    I see the Cubs signed Matt Tolbert. I’m beginning to thing Epstein is trying to show senile Uncle Bud that he is really not that valuable…

  • BosephHeyden

    Just noticed on the side there than Rizzo is the #1 first base prospect in the majors and Vogglebach is #10.  Just out of curiosity of what others thing, what happens if Rizzo has a poor Spring Training and Vogglebach doesn’t, and then Vogglebach actually performs better than expected in the minors (which would be very good since he’s a second round pick)?  I know they gave up a lot for Rizzo…is Rizzo a guy they’d actually admit any sort of failure on?  Would they trade Vogglebach to make Rizzo feel more comfortable?  Just curious, because this is the first I remember the Cubs have two top ten prospects at the same position.

    • paulcatanese

      To offer my opinion, I would say that Rizzo has the edge here simply because of his tenure and Voglebach’s short time in organized baseball.
      If it holds true as it has with Jackson and takes a while for Voglebach to advance, Rizzo really has an advantage, besides I don’t think Theo would have brought Rizzo in if he didn’t believe that he had a very good chance to succeed.
      Just an unqualifed observation.

  • Anthony

    The Braves are pitching rich. There SS solution is to bridge the gap with Pastornicky, young and inexperieced and see how Andrelton Simmons keeps developing in their system.

    RF Jason Heyward had his sophomore slump, stock fallen a little, and is young and athletic, with power(Theo likes Y and A).

    The Braves management is reluctant to trade Top prospect SP Teheran, but you never know.

    Castro for Heyward straight up is not enough in return for a young all-star SS. Castro for Heyward and Teheran could work, and maybe the new fit and trim Byrd rides in the package as a one year replacement for Heyward, and since ATL is loaded with arms, no Cub pitching is really required in the trade.

    I would want Pastornicky in the deal, and send one of our MILB outfielders to ATL.

    Castro at SS could be long-term, or not, and even if 3B ends up being his future position, ATL could slide him over and put Simmons to SS in the future.

    Enter Garza. By getting Teheran from ATL, it may allow Theo to back off Turner in DET, and get quantity and quality, more a package with Smyly, Castellanos, and Porcello.(or Oliver)

    The Cubs would be OK at SS with a combination of Pastornicky and Barney, and his newly added muscle and PNicky has stats Theo-likey type.

    Adding:

    Jason Heyward
    Nick Castellanos
    Pastornicky

    Teheran
    Smyly
    Porcello

    You would be trading your two best CHIPS for your starting RF, probable Porcello and Teheran in the rotation, frees up a trade of Dempster at a peak moment, your potential 3B of the future, and nice possibilities with Smyly, and a young SS who may never be an all-star, but a quality plug-in.

    Two plus quality players and a MLB veteran in exchange for 6 quality players.

    Chime in with your thoughts on Garza/Castro exiting using DET and ATL as your trade partners. Does it get your attention?

    • cubtex

      Starlin Castro’s don’t come around very often. Jason Heyward is a question mark after slumping badly for a season and a half. Teheran is a decent prospect but no way I trade a kid who got 200 hits in the mlb and plays SS for that return! I hold Castro UNLESS they are blown away….and that is not even close to being blown away.

      • Anthony

        make a package, that blows you away

        • cubtex

          Do you know what I am saying? Castro had 207 hits last year and plays a premium position. In my opinion….he is one of the most valued young players in baseball.

          • Anthony

            207 hits, .300 average, many plate appearances

            Cubs need more than one player, he could get 3 easily as mentioned above, as Garza can

            splitting an “asset” into several, and there is no guarantee he will perform annually like that, and defense is suspect, SELL HIGH

          • Gramps

            1 young proven commodity (Castro) versus 3 young not proven commodities = no trading Castro!!

      • Anthony

        Castro can easily have a down year, especially exposed with a weaker lineup around him in 2012, while Heyward can rebound(similar age to Castro) just as easily.

        Getting a potential Ace in Teheran and a replacement SS in a Pastornicky to bridge any gap fills three spots versus one.

        Also, these 3 in the example are all very young, like Castro, so t wouldn’t surprise me if he was dealt.

    • daverj

      Neither the Cubs nor the Braves would make the trade you propose.  Neither would risk trading a player with superstar upside (Castro or Heyward).

  • Denio

    I have to agree with Anthony on this one..
    I like the idea of splitting assets into many quality assets.

    Maybe Theo was asking for too much along with Turner… Detroit might part with him if Theo backs off a little
    .

  • paulcatanese

    Thought I would post a trailer regarding players who chose football over baseball.

  • cubtex

    With Scutaro traded to the Rockies that leaves the RSox with really no qualified SS. I am getting this sick feeling that team Theo might actually move Castro in a deal to them. I hope it is some bad fish or something because this better not happen!

    • Anthony

      wouldn’t surprise me

      Iglesias, their next SS can’t hit very well, almost an Ozzie clone, but Castro will never be the defender he(Iglesias) already is. The type that saves runs with his defense.

      Step back, put your home team emotion away, consider Castro is probably gonna move off SS at some point(according to experts), so that premium position aspect becomes irrelevant.

      Boston needs to win now, and are aging, and they also will remain big dollar FA participants and can plug holes with the best of them, like Theo did, as HIS farm left in Boston isn’t that great.

      Theo gave Iglesias a 6.25M Bonus in 2009?

      So start a package like this:

      Castro/Byrd/Ha

      for

      Ellsbury/Iglesias/Ranaudo/Alex Wilson

      You have a CF, a SS, developing Ranaudo, and a 4th/5th starter in Wilson, originally drafted by the Cubs.

      You really have to appreciate a defensive wizard at SS, and you also get another Cuban off the JNT.

      What if Castro ends up a .300/10HR ceiling player with suspect defense?

      • Tony_Hall

        You keep making up trades with Boston, centered around Ellsbury. 

        Why would they trade him?  I know why anyone would want him…it’s a no brainer…so why would they want to trade him?  

        They don’t.

        • Anthony

          tex said it in his above post

          and Theo knows what is in his old system better than any other club, even his new one

          then again, I favor positional players by old-fashioned profiles, and Ellsbury will probably level off(cycle off) to about 10-15 HR’s, good for CF

          Iglesias’ defense would spoil any fan of pure SS play, and, if Baez does everything the scouts say he can, like hit, look for a very fast track on him 2014 the latest—–at 3B

          Castro, an offensive SS, and an offensive tweener, as of now, off of SS, and the hot corner ain’t as easy as some think

          If I was constructing a team, my SS wouldn’t have to be a offensive juggernaut as long as the plays are being made.

          In other words, give me someone who can be more like Omar Vizquel versus Hanley Ramirez-like

          • Tony_Hall

            None of what you rambled on about, says that the Red Sox are wanting to trade Ellsbury.  You can keep making up info and trade proposals, won’t make it true.

      • cubtex

        I think Castro has a lot of years still left in him as a SS.
        The Red Sox had to clear payroll by moving Scutaro because Theo left that team in a financial mess with the luxury tax. They are pursuing Oswalt and didn’t have the money. Cherrington has to get creative now to be able to try and compete with the Yankees and Rays. I see the reasoning in moving Ellsbury since he will start to get expensive. They have so many big contracts that they need to get younger in some positions.

        • Tony_Hall

          The Red Sox can afford Ellsbury, they have around $40M coming off the books after 2012, that I can see all coming off the books, maybe they keep Youkilis.

          Youkilis $12M
          Ortiz ??$12M??
          Dice K $10M
          Jenks $6M

          Scutaro is no real loss and they still have those World Series Trophies to look at :)

          • cubtex

            Boy you like to live in the past Tony :) Otiz will be making closer to 14 mil this year. They will have a payroll over 170 mil this year and they will finish 3rd in the division. Ellsbury is a Boras client and they already have a 20 mil a year outfielder in Crawford tied up for several year. If you are the Red Sox…do you really want to tie up another outfielder at 20 mil per year??? Crawford is unmovable so it makes sense to move Ellsbury.

          • Tony_Hall

            Sorry, didn’t look up the numbers they filed, that is why I put the ?? marks.

            Ortiz $16.5M
            Red Sox $12.65M

            Actually they won’t be over $170M this year, with Scutaro gone.  They at around $159M with Oritz at $14M and Scutaro gone for about 22 players.

            I would keep Ellsbury, and try to extend him (I know Boras doesn’t like that, but Ellsbury is the client and if he wants to stay and gets an extension, he can say yes).  

          • cubtex

            No they will be over 170 mil. With Ortiz they are over 160 and they had 8 other arb elgible players that they needed to sign including Bard and others. I just read the article.

          • Tony_Hall

            Well if you read an article, that must be correct :)

            I am going by Cot’s and they show 
            $150,750,119
            for 22 players, and still with Scutaro, but without Ortiz.

            I also believe they are almost done signing their arb players, they have Aceves ($1.275m), Bailey ($4.025m), Bard ($1.61m), and Ortiz ($14.57m)
            left ,with mid points listed.

            $144M plus $21M equals $165M

            Here is an arbitartion tracker.

            http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/arbtracker2012

          • cubtex

            You did not include Melancon, McDonald, Ryan Kalish and the rumor is they traded Scutaro to sign Oswalt. There is the remaining $ that will take them over 170

          • Tony_Hall

            I didn’t include them since they aren’t arbitration eligible.  If they add Oswalt, you would have to add it to the $165M number…

          • Tony_Hall

            Not sure if you get these by e-mail or not it’s a little wider here.

            Those guys aren’t arbitration eligible, they are auto renewals at near league minimum.  

            If they add Oswalt, you have to add that to the $165M number.

          • Tony_Hall

            Red Sox Avoid Arbitration With Daniel Bard
            By Mike Axisa [January 21 at 6:32pm CST]
            The Red Sox and Daniel Bard have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract, the team announced. Earlier this week the SFX client filed for $1.825MM while the team countered with $1.4MM, and MLB.com’s Ian Browne says (on Twitter) that they settled at the midpoint: $1.6125MM. Our system projected a $1.6MM salary for the right-hander.
            Bard, 26, was arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. As a Super Two, he’ll go through the process four times rather than the usual three. He’s pitched to a 2.88 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 197 career innings, all of which were spent setting up the now departed Jonathan Papelbon. Bard will come to Spring Training with a chance to win a job as a starting pitcher this year.
            As our Arbitration Tracker shows, the Red Sox have three unsigned arbitration-eligible players remaining: Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, and David Ortiz.

          • cubtex

            One thing you are not realizing is how you build a team. You need to quit drinking your Theo Kool Aid and look where the Red Sox are at.

            Carl Crawford- 20 mil per year till 2017

            AGon- 21 mil per year till 2018

            Ellsbury get paid big time in 2014 so you add another 20 mil on to that in 14….  You will now have 3 players making over 60 mil and really only 1 at a premium position CF(if they keep Elllsbury)

            To tie up 20 mil for a LF like Crawford was idiotic and Agon( who can’t run now) will age badly in the last years of that contract.

          • Tony_Hall

            Get off the Theo bashing, it gets soooo old.  

            I never liked Crawford, nor like his contract, but it is what the market ran his cost up to,and obviously more than just Theo wanted to add him.

            AGon is fine, and is worth the contract, and of course his contract will look bad at the end, all big money free agent contracts do.

            Ellsbury is worth keeping, and it’s a little premature to think he will be $20M.  He will need another MVP level season for that to happen.

            And since when is the big hitting 1B, not considered a premium position?  Many of the best hitters in baseball are at 1B, it’s an elite position.

          • cubtex

            Just like it is getting old that you are not objective because Theo made a move for our beloved
            Cubs. You even defend a minor league pickup.
            1st baseman is the easiest positon in baseball to field imo. That is why I was against the Fielder signing. Look around baseball and you will see quite a few very good young 1st baseman. I definately think Ellsbury will get close to 20 mil per year. He has leverage now too since he can comare is stats to Crawford. That is why it makes sense what Anthony is saying that the RSox should look to trade him.If I am Cherrington….there is no way I want 60 mil tied up till 2017 with AGon ,Ellsbury and Crawford.

          • Tony_Hall

            Not defending minor league signings, they are just not anything to be critical over.  All teams sign lots of players that don’t make it to April, every year.  People get all worked up like they are going to be the starter for the major league team.

            1B is extremely easy to fill, just not at  the elite levels.  I think the Cubs are well positioned to fill 1B from within, as they  have many options now.

            Just because I’m not blasting Theo for making a trade or signing a player on here, doesn’t mean I’m not objective, or think every move he has made it perfect.  I have told you many times, I didn’t think of DeJesus ever, and wanted Headley over Stewart, because I really don’t like Stewart.  But these are short term, stop gap moves to try and change the way this team plays baseball and to not create a road block, for young players that are going to be the real foundation for the future.

            I hope the Red Sox let Ellsbury go, I would love to have him…not gonna happen, but what team wouldn’t want Ellsbury.

          • Anthony

            Theo Epstein gave Iglesias $6.25M signing bonus, an amount normally afforded to the 1st/2nd pick of the Draft under the old CBA

            Iglesias will be somebody’s starting SS for a long time. They want to get better defensively, where better to start than at SS

    • paulcatanese

      Wow, I cannot imagine that.

      • cubtex

        like I said…hopefully just bad fish :)

        • Anthony

          hope the fish was good

          • cubtex

            Tilapia….Good stuff!

  • Cubs 31

    Being here in Fort Myers and watching the Minnesota Twins, I can’t believe the Cubs signed Matt Tolbert.  He is a hard worker but never was a consistent player on the Twins.  Spent much of his time in AAA.

    • Tony_Hall

      Maybe that is why he was given a minor league deal.

    • cubtex

      Agreed. It goes to show you that losing Marwin Gonzales,LeMahieu, Flaherty,and more recently Bianchi hurt the minor league infield depth tremendously.

      • daverj

        Which players on the 40 man roster would you drop if you could have Marwin Gonzalez, Flaherty and/or Bianchi back?  Tolbert, Amezaga and E Gonzalez aren’t taking up 40 man roster spots.

  • Anthony

    Theo signed 3 veteran middle infielders to minor league contracts

    Tolbert and Amezaga have played SS, as does Barney
    Tolbert, Amezaga, and Gonzales have played 2B, as does Barney

    Maybe these guys are ST competition only, maybe they are to fill AAA only, or maybe one will make the team out of ST as a backup SS/2B to cover Barney and the Cubs SS?

    Assume Ricketts knew before Theo was officially hired about the potential legal issues, and naturally filled Theo in afterwards.

    Do you think Ricketts is a tad peed off at the situation?

    ,” Ricketts said. “It’s really not appropriate for us really to talk much beyond that. We just all hope it gets resolved as quickly as possible and everybody moves forward.”

    Hoyer said “While we cannot address (the Castro) matter at this time, we do want to emphasize the organization’s commitment to being respectful members in the community and positive examples.”

    Epstein says “…. Offensively, the things he has done is what guys who go on to be ten-time All-Stars and Hall of Famers do.”

    I call that PR, advertising 101, building over-value.

    Forget the legal aspects, think more along the lines of being at the Convention, and after, and your ten year old whips out the pocket schedule and says, “is this the guy who closes bars and hoe-chases all night”?

    The Internet is the Global Library and kids are good at it!

    Wanna bet Damage Control is an ongoing dynamic at Wrigley these days?

    I say they may move him under the guise of a solid baseball deal?

    • Tony_Hall

      Keep making stuff up…sooner or later you will be able to say you got something right…

      Are you Phil Rogers?

      • Anthony

        those are direct quotes from your baseball saviors

        • Tony_Hall

          I was talking about your story line and what you are suggesting…

          Are you sure your not Phil Rogers?  Because he makes things up all the time to.

    • cubtex

      Like I said…I hope you are wrong. I agree with your angle on the Sox moving Ellsbury though. If you read my posts with Tony……that will be a lot of dough tied up with a leftfielder and centerfielder.

    • RynoTiger

      Nope, you’re completely wrong. End of story and speculation. Close door.

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