Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 02/13/12

Greetings to everyone at the CCO … With the Winter League seasons over and Opening Day for the Minor Leagues weeks away, it’s time to step away from reporting and move to more feature articles. As a preview to Spring Training, the Down on the Farm Reports returns to a feature entitled …

Bubble Players and Bubble Busters

Each year, a number of players are “on the bubble” as to making the Major League roster. This article takes a look at whom some of those players could be, and which players could “bust” their bubble.

Bubble Player: Tony Campana – By now, most Cubs fans are familiar with the story of Tony Campana. Drafted in the 13th round in 2008, the spritely Campana, made his Cubs debut last season. As a child, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and underwent 10 years of treatment. He is now in remission. The left-hander captured the attention of the Cubs Faithful with his blazing speed. Campana stole 24 bases in 26 attempts, with only 155 plate appearances. He also electrified fans with his inside-the-park home run at Wrigley Field in August. However, there were some flaws to his game.

Campana batted only .259, with only eight walks against 30 strikeouts. While his defense at the Major League level was fine, his track record in the minors was a little less than desired. In four seasons, he fielded only .983 with 12 errors and 21 assists.

Bubble Buster: Dave Sappelt – Acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Sean Marshall deal, Sappelt was drafted by the Reds in the ninth round in 2008. He was named the Reds’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2010 after batting .361 for Double-A Carolina. He was also named to the All-Star team and was awarded the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player in 2010. The right-handed hitter just missed making the Major League cut out of spring training in 2011, but was recalled at the beginning of August.

Sappelt hit .243 in 38 games after posting a .313 average at Triple-A Louisville. Sappelt brings with him a very good all-around set of skills. He can hit for average and has 86 stolen bases in four minor league seasons. He displayed good defense, with 14 errors and a .988 fielding average for his minor league career. Sappelt also had 36 assists including 11 double plays.

Outlook: The make-up of the Cubs’ bench will take a whole new complexion this spring. Normally, with the right-hand leaning Cubs, hitting left-handed would make you a shoo-in. However, the additions of lefties Ian Stewart, David DeJesus, and Bryan LaHair to the line-up may bring more balance to the bench. With Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and Reed Johnson, along with DeJesus, secure on the roster, the slots for a left-handed bat will narrow. Can Tony Campana’s speed be the deciding factor? Or will Sappelt’s more well-rounded game win out?

Bubble Player: Alfredo Amezaga – The Cubs’ management signed a bevy of middle infielders to compete for a back-up role, including Edgar Gonzalez, Matt Tolbert, and Bobby Scales. However, the one I find the most intriguing is Alfredo Amezaga.

Selected by the Angels in the 13th round of the 1999 draft as a shortstop, Amezaga struggled to find a footing in the first four major league seasons in Anaheim, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. Signed as a free agent by the Florida Marlins in 2006, he was recast as a centerfielder. He posted batting averages of .260, .263, and .264 in three seasons in Miami. However, the switch-hitter’s 2009 season was cut short by a devastating knee injury that required microfracture surgery.

Amezaga attempted to come back in 2010 as a minor leaguer in the Dodgers’ organization, but winded up on the disabled list for the year. He was re-signed by Colorado in 2011, but failed to make the team out of camp. He was called up to the Rockies at the end of April, but designated for assignment a month later. Amezaga was then picked up by the Marlins again, were he finished out the 2011 season. This past winter, he batted .274 for Mexican champ Obregon, while returning to the shortstop position. Amezaga brings versatility to the table, having played every position in the majors except pitcher and catcher. He’s a so-so hitter who is able to free up another roster spot with his ability to switch hit. While he no longer has the great speed that used to be a big part of his game, at 33 years-old, he can still steal a base or two.

Bubble Buster: Adrian Cardenas – The Cubs recently picked up the 24-year old Cardenas off of waivers from the Oakland A’s. The former 2006 first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies was traded in 2008 with left-handed pitcher Josh Outman and current Cubs’ farmhand Matt Spencer to the A’s for pitcher Joe Blanton. He was named to the 2007 All-Star Futures game squad in a season in which he would hit .295 with nine home runs, 79 RBI, and 20 stolen bases for Single-A Lakewood. Cardenas owns a lifetime .303 hitting average in six minor league seasons, along with 77 stolen bases. However, there are some concerns over his defense.

While Cardenas has mainly played second base during his first five minor league seasons, with a .976 fielding average, he had also lined up at third and shortstop. But in 2011, Cardenas spent the bulk of his playing time in left field, where he only fielded .974. Even more curious was that the player receiving more playing time at second rated as both a worse hitter and a worse fielder. Cardenas ended up the season hitting .314 with five home runs, 51 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.

Outlook: Once again roster make-up will play a big role in who comes North with the team. Bear in mind the veteran Jeff Baker is virtually a lock for one infield spot. Also looming in the background are Rule 5 draftees Marwin Gonzalez and Ryan Flaherty, who will have to be offered back to the Cubs if they don’t make the Major League rosters of the Astros and Orioles, respectively. The competition this spring will be fierce. Will Amezaga’s experience and switch hitting ability win out? Will Cardenas’ offensive potential and left-handed bat be the call? Or will another candidate step forward?

Bubble Player: Welington Castillo – Like third base prospect Josh Vitters, catcher Welington Castillo is a prospect Cubs’ fans have seemed to have heard about “forever”. The soon to be 25-year old was an international signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. He played only ten games in the Arizona Rookie League and Short Season-A Boise that year. His first full professional season was spent in Single-A Peoria in 2007, where he batted .271 with 11 homers and 44 RBI in 98 games. Castillo rose quickly in 2008, playing at Advanced-A Daytona, Double-A Tennessee, and a game at Triple-A Iowa; hitting a composite .287 with 19 home runs and 37 RBI.

Castillo struggled offensively in 2009 and 2010 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, hitting .232 and .255 respectively. In 2011, he seemed to be turning things around at Iowa, hitting over .300 in the early part of the season. However, injuries caught up with him and he ended up at .298 with 15 home runs and 35 RBI in 61 games. Defense has always been Castillo’s forte, with throwing out runners a specialty.

Castillo nailed 44% of base stealers in 2009 and 39% in 2010. That dipped to 29% in 2011, but with a smaller sample size. There are causes for concern in Castillo’s game. While he is good at thwarting the running game, he has averaged 11 passed balls a season over his career. There also have been well documented accounts of problems with game-calling. Offensively, he seems to hit in bunches and generally does better the more he plays.

Bubble Buster: Steve Clevenger – Clevenger came to the organization in 2006, drafted as a second baseman in the seventh round. After playing his whole first season at second for Short Season-A Boise in 2006, he returned to Boise in 2007 and split time between first base and catcher. After 18 games, he was moved to Advanced-A Daytona, again dividing his time between first and catcher. Through it all, Clevenger kept hitting, a combined .340 in 2007 and .298 in 2008.

In 2009, Clevenger first saw his career intertwine with Welington Castillo. Clevenger played 26 games at Double-A Tennessee and moved up to Triple-A Iowa, batting .265 in 68 games. The organization then flipped catchers in 2010, moving Clevenger down to Tennessee while moving Castillo up to Iowa. Once again Clevenger stayed strong offensively, hitting .317 with five home runs and 47 RBI in 88 games. This past season saw the 25-year old open again at Tennessee. However, he was moved up to Iowa twice due to Castillo’s injuries and raked Triple-A pitching, hitting .407 with a homer and 15 RBI in 25 games. Overall, the left-hander hit .319, eight home runs, and 54 RBI in 120 games.

While not in the same defensive class as Castillo, he can hold his own in the running came, tossing out 28% of all base stealers in his career. He also appears to be more agile behind the plate, with a .992 fielding percentage and averaging five passed balls a season. He also has experience at first, second, and third base.

Outlook: As in the infield and outfield, how many left and right-handed hitters are wanted on the bench may determine this battle. Also figuring into the mix is switch-hitting 29-year old Jason Jaramillo, who was signed to a minor league contract. Castillo has the ability to totally erase another team’s running game. However, his overall make-up may not be suited for a back-up role, and his game may regress with inactivity. If there is one thing Clevenger has demonstrated, he can hit. His defense at catcher is adequate, and his versatility could mean that the team doesn’t lose its back-up catcher if they use him as a pinch-hitter.

Right-Handed Pitching
Bubble Player: Manny Corpas – In an effort to bolster their bullpen, the Cubs signed former Rockies’ closer Manny Corpas this off-season to a split contract. The Panamanian was signed by Colorado at the tender age of 16 in 1999. Corpas made his debut in the Rockies system in 2002, and spent five seasons in the minors compiling a 14-15 record with 26 saves and an overall ERA of 4.01. He came to the majors in 2006, going 1-2 with a 3.62 ERA in 32.1 innings. In 2007, Corpas took over the closer role after the All-Star break due to the ineffectiveness of Brian Fuentes. He ended up at 4-2 with 19 saves in 22 chances and a 2.08 ERA. Corpas and Fuentes battled again for the closer spot in 2008, with Corpas ending the season at the position.

As 2009 arrived, Corpas again found himself in competition, this time with Huston Street. Street eventually ended up as the closer while Corpas was 1-3 with a 5.88 ERA in 33.2 innings as a set-up man. Corpas and Street again vied to be the Rockies’ closer in 2010, as he posted 10 saves along with a 3-5 record and 4.62 ERA in 62.1 innings. The Rockies released Corpas following the 2010 season, and he signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. However, he would miss the entire 2011 season, needing Tommy John surgery.

The now 29-year old brings a contrast to the bullpen. With his low-90’s fastball, cutter, and slider, he’s more of a ground ball pitcher, compared to strikeout pitchers Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood.

Bubble Buster: Chris Carpenter – When it comes to having a blazing fastball, Chris Carpenter has the stuff to be able to challenge current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Carpenter was actually drafted twice before the Cubs selected him in the third round in 2008 (2004 by the Detroit Tigers and in 2007 by the New York Yankees). What ended up scaring other teams away were Tommy John Surgery in 2005, clean-up surgery in 2006, and a tired arm in 2007.

By the time that Carpenter became property of the Cubs in 2008, he had put all of that behind him. He made his organizational debut in July 2008, and ended up 4-2 with a 4.64 ERA in seven starts in the Arizona Rookie League and Short Season-A Boise. In both 2009 and 2010, Carpenter continued as a starter. He was 6-7 with 118 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA at three levels (Peoria, Daytona, Tennessee) in 2009 and 8-6 and a 3.41 ERA and 112 strikeouts at two levels (Tennessee, Iowa) in 2010. He was invited to the Arizona Fall League after the 2010 season, where he was used in relief and made scouts sit up and take notice with his 100 MPH-plus fastball.

Carpenter began the 2011 season in Iowa, but returned to Tennessee to adapt to his new bullpen role. He was called up to the big leagues on June 14th, and had ten appearances with a 2.79 ERA, eight strikeouts, and seven walks. Upon returning to Iowa, minor injuries reduced his effectiveness and ended his season early. However, Carpenter was ready for action again for the 2011 AFL season, and once again impressed scouts with 18 strikeouts in 13.2 innings while regularly hitting 100 MPH. Control has always been an issue for the 26-year old, as his 1.384 career WHIP can attest.

Outlook: As with the position players, roster make-up will have an effect on the decision making process. If Corpas is able to demonstrate he is injury-free and a can get big league hitters out, the Cubs may try to have the best of both worlds. The club can start with taking Corpas north with them and building up his résumé, making him attractive to teams at mid-season. In the mean time, Carpenter could sharpen his skills at Triple-A Iowa. The thought that Corpas may be coming back too early from surgery remains to be seen. But his split contract gives management the cushion of retaining him and furthering his recovery in the minors. If Carpenter breaks camp with the big league club, he’ll bring the biggest fastball Wrigley Field denizens have seen since Kyle Farnsworth in 2004. Whether he is as inconsistent as Farnsworth or becomes the next Goose Gossage remains to be seen.

Left-Handed Pitching
Bubble Player: Scott Maine – The 2011 season may be a crossroads for 27-year old Scott Maine. Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 for pitcher Aaron Heilman, Maine had a similar draft history to Chris Carpenter. Maine was originally drafted in 2003 by the Seattle Mariners in the 15th round. He was also was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 23rd round in 2006 before signing with Arizona after being drafted in the sixth round by them in 2007. He spent three years in the Diamondbacks’ system before being dealt to the Cubs.

In 2010, Maine split his time between Tennessee and Iowa, going 4-2 with 10 saves and a combined 3.14 ERA. He also had 13 appearances with the parent club, and posted a 2.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts and five walks. Maine returned to Iowa to start the 2011 season, but was recalled in mid-May and had seven appearances, serving up four home runs and posting a 10.29 ERA for the Cubs.

Maine was back down in Iowa at the beginning of June and was placed in a set-up role to John Gaub. Maine contributed five saves to end up with a total of 12, while ending with a 3-4 record and a 3.68 ERA. The 6-foot-3 University of Miami product sports a low to mid-90 MPH fastball, along with a curve, slider, and change-up. Scouting reports state that he has a hard time repeating his delivery, which leads to inconsistency.

Bubble Busters: John Gaub – The Cubs acquired John Gaub in 2008, along with pitchers Chris Archer and Jeff Stevens from the Cleveland Indians for Mark DeRosa. Gaub was originally drafted by Minnesota in the 23rd round of the 2003 draft. He chose not to sign with the Twins and was 21st round selection of the Indians in 2006. He split his first year in the Cubs’ organization between Tennessee and Iowa, going 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA and five saves. He spent the 2010 season dealing with minor injuries and was 3-4 and a 6.52 ERA in 29 innings at Iowa.

As 2011 came around, several pitchers were contending for the closer role at Iowa, including Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, Chris Carpenter, and Blake Parker. However, the decision was made to turn the reins over to Gaub shortly after Maine returned to Triple-A. From early June on, Gaub was 2-3 with six saves and a 2.93 ERA and finished at 4-4, 3.42 ERA and seven saves before a September call up to the majors. Gaub ended up pitching 2.2 innings for the Cubs, surrendering two earned runs while striking out three batters.

Prior to a shoulder injury in college, Gaub was able to throw in the high-90MPH range and occasionally touch 100 MHP. Now, he has a more modest lower-90 MPH fastball, along with a biting slider and a curve he uses like a change-up.

Outlook: What happens here will depend a lot on how the new management views James Russell and Jeff Beliveau. Russell is the odds-on favorite to take the left-handed set-up role vacated by the trade of Sean Marshall. The 2011 minor league Pitcher-of-the-Year Beliveau also figures prominently, but his role is less certain. Recent reports indicate that the organization sees Maine as more of a specialist, while Gaub would be a multi-inning pitcher. If Beliveau looks more like a specialist, Gaub would have the upper-hand; vice-versa for Maine. Both will have to look over their shoulders in Spring Training, as the organization also signed veteran Trever Miller.

Caribbean World Series
Congratulations to Dominican champions Leones de Escogido on winning the Caribbean World Series. Their victory marks the 20th series victory for the Dominican Republic, the fourth for Escogido, and second for manager Ken Oberkfell. The Lions won the title with a 4-2 record in round robin play on the hot hitting of Detroit outfield prospect Andy Dirks. They were followed by Puerto Rico and Venezuela at 3-3, with a 2-4 record for defending champion Mexico.

Australian Baseball League
The best-of-three championship between the Melbourne Aces and the Perth Heat began on Friday. In the first game, Perth had a complete game five-hitter tossed by right-hander Virgil Vasquez, as the topped Melbourne 4-1. Game two saw the Aces second baseman Brad Harman single in first baseman Josh Davies in the 13th inning to squeak past the Heat 3-2 to force a game three. In a pressure packed final, Perth centerfielder James McOwen raced home on a wild pitch in the 13th inning to give the Heat back-to-back championships with a 7-6 victory.

Attention CCO Readers
When the minor league season begins, I will track the progress of ten players throughout the entire season. Let me know which minor leaguers you would like to see tracked in a post. I would like a representative sample of positions and levels of play, and I’d prefer to track at least one player acquired by the Cubs in the off-season.

The CCO’s Top 20 Cubs Prospects for 2012

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Brian K

    Zeke DeVoss and Ronald Torreyes get my vote for who you should follow this season.

  • Tony_Hall

    Great look at the upcoming battles in Spring Training!

  • gary3411

    Yes, definitely, very good recap, reminder, and outlining of the stage of battles.

    I think it will be Clevenger as the backup mainly because of R/L, and I don’t think they want to keep Jaramillo and make Clevenger go back to AA to go regular playing time, he’s too advanced. Also, I think Castillo is the future starter and they will want him getting his regular AB’s at AAA until Soto is hopefully traded.

    I have a feeling Cardenas will start the year in AAA, with whichever of the veteran infielders that has the best offensive spring training start the year as the backup SS and 2B. Reason being is to mainly keep giving Barney and Cardenas regular AB’s. This however will not happen if Cardenas has a rather strong Spring Training, if he does he will be on the 25 I’m sure and will have a gradual platoon with Barney with the hotter hand getting the edge for the rest of the year.

    Outfield is the hardest to predict, we just don’t know how much the new front office will value Campana and his speed. My guess is they keep Sappelt at the 5th and tell Campana to go to AAA to work on one thing and one thing only, get on base as much as possible! Him and Sappelt will probably float back and forth all year.

    Relief pitching will almost certainly depend on who has the best springs, hard to predict with Corpas and Mateo coming off injured seasons and Carpenter’s wildness. This one I really have no clue, but would like to see Carpenter finally solidify himself as a major league pitcher, he’s running out of time.

    I really hope Wells makes the rotation, I still think he can be a valuable starter when healthy. But, I’m also confident a bullpen stint to the start the year won’t mess with him too much and he should be able to bounce right back into the rotation when someone goes down with an injury.

    Gonna be a great Spring!

  • Aaron

    My vote for bubble busters includes:

    That would likely leave a roster of:
    T. Wood

    Marmol, Wood, Samardzija, Russell, Miller, Carpenter, and Wells
    *Lendy Castillo, Dolis, Maine, and Gaub would be the odd-men out. I believe they’ll try like heck to deal Wells, and in the event they are able to trade him, they’ll likely keep Castillo, as Hoyer had high hopes for him as a starter eventually…either that, or they’ll try to hide him with an injury or something

    C-Soto, Clevenger
    2B-Barney, Cardenas
    3B-Stewart, Baker
    CF-Byrd, Sappelt
    RF-DeJesus, Johnson

    *that would leave 5 lefties…6 would just about give you a 50-50 split. I’m pretty sure this is the one they ultimately go with…or they could sub out Jaramillo for Clevenger or Amezega with Cardenas 

  • Neil

    According to Buster Olney: Sources: Oakland has agreed to terms with
    Yoenis Cespedes, 4 years, $36 million. Tim Brown is reporting that
    Cespedes has received the unblocking license.

    • John_CC

      HA!  I love it. 

      Once again, many Cubs fans can creep back in off the ledge.  When will you guys stop putting so much stock in the twit-O-sphere?  And when you start believing that Epstein and Hoyer have a plan, and it’s probably better than yours?

      • cc002600

        So True.  Now just wait for the Theo haters to criticize him for being cheap for not getting Cespedes.

        Some people just have to complain about something every day or they don’t feel right in their miserable lives.  


      • BosephHeyden

         I don’t know of anyone who would have been “on the ledge” because we weren’t getting ready to overpay for a guy who can’t hit breaking balls.  I’m confused by this signing, though, because Oakland isn’t really going anywhere anytime soon:  they’ve just been kinda spinning their wheels for the past few years, and Cespedes isn’t really the type of player that turns an entire team around.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Billy Beane caught Jim Hendry disease. Imagine dumping Cahill and Gio Gonzalez for this loser. 

          He needs to go see a shrink. 

  • John_CC

    Will Campana’s speed be the deciding factor for 4th OF?  It is really all he has. Is it worth using a bench spot for a one tool player? I did not know that his defense was so suspect, I knew he doesn’t have even have the arm of Jacque Jones.  I sure hope Sappelt can make the transition to the big leagues.  He averaged 20+ SB over 4 years, but he can get on base and can hit.  Tony’s speed is blazing, and I love that as a former sprinter.  But he can’t hit and he doesn’t walk. So he is a pinch-runner specialist.  Sorry Paul…

    • ChadAudio

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say Campana is one dimensional.  His defense is still solid, despite his weaker arm.  Campana covers a lot of ground out in CF and LF, and even has that “Sam Fuld-like” fearlessness of making the play.  Campana certainly needs to work on the walks/strike-outs, and how to get to bunt for a base hit more consistently.  But, I have hopes he is still young enough to offer substantial improvement in those areas.

      Come spring training though – we will all just want the best player for each position.  So, if Sappelt can really step up… I guess I’ll want him instead :)

    • paulcatanese

      Thats ok John, its the nature of the game, even though I would be very disapointed if thats what happens. If he doesent hit or walk his way on, he still had his day in the sun. And I will hold onto the tape of his inside the park home run forever, as I am sure he will.

  • John_CC

     Great report, Tom.

    On Cardenas – worst case, if he doesn’t make the team out of ST, he will still be sent AAA, correct?

    • Tom U

      Correct John.

      Cardenas was claimed off of outright waivers and he has two minor league options. However, what position he plays will depend on what happens with Blake DeWitt.

      If DeWitt goes unclaimed and he accepts an outright assignment, he has an option left and would probably join Iowa as their second baseman. That could mean Cardenas would have to look for playing time in the outfield and at shortstop.

      • John_CC

         Thanks Tom.  Interesting, do you think they would rather have DeWitt taking up playing time at 2B over Cardenas, even though his future is bleak for the Cubs?

        • Tom U

          DeWitt’s experience and ability to play multiple positions (insert your own comment here) make him somewhat useful. It all depends on which veterans have a good showing this spring and how far management feels some of the prospects are from the majors.

  • Neil

    Cespedes has signed a 4-year, $36 million contract with the Oakland A’s. Multiple outlets are reporting. 

    • John_CC

      Are you sure, Neil?  I mean someone tweeted that Miami wanted him and he wanted Miami and it was a forgone conclusion.

      • Neil

        I’m positive, just heard it from his agent on XM.

        • John_CC

           sarcasm, Neil. Sorry for wasting your time.

          • Neil

            I took it as sarcasm … No worries.

  • daverj

    I hope we land Soler.  Castro, Jackson, Rizzo, Baez, and Soler could form the core of a young, potent offense by 2014.  The next step would be to extend Garza and sign 2 from the group of Hamels, Cain, Greinke, Marcum and A Sanchez next offseason. 

    • John_CC

       Baez in 2014?  Have you heard that kind of projection for his rise through the system?  He just finished HS, that is Bryce Harper speed to the majors…I don’t think anyone is expecting that.

      Sorry to nit-pick, I hear what you’re saying and agree.  The future is bright. Hell, sometime this year we should see Castro, Rizzo and Jackson together.  I’d like to see Soler added to the mix, for sure.

      • daverj

        Baez will start at low A this year as a 19 year old.  With some success, he could start at AA next season and AAA in 2014 … putting him in line for a call-up to the Cubs in June 2014.  He needs to play well, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of reality to think Baez could be in Wrigley by Summer 2014.

        • John_CC

           It’s possible. I hope you’re right, Dave, that kind of trajectory – A to pro in 2 years – would mean they have a true potential star. I keep waiting for Longoria. 

          And my comparison with Harper was bad, he’s just 18 or 19 right now and headed to the show this year, isn’t he?

  • Jeff in Az

    Where is Gary?

    The egocentric A**hole took more money per year (4 years 36 million) with the Athletics (Brutal), than 36 Million over 6 years with the Marlins (where he would have had a built in Cuban fan base and played for team much closer to being a contender).

    I rest my case. Thank goodness the Cubs did not sign this guy.

    P.S. I’m not the only guy who has this perception of him. Out of respect to Neil I’m not going to post any links to other Cubs websites, but a simple google search will yield the same opinion. One author even metions the Sunglasses indoors (airport or no airport). LOL.

    Now lets sing this Soler kid and I think we will have landed the best 2 out of the 3 Cuban ballplayers available.

    • gary3411

      So now he’s egocentric ahole for taking more money? I’m not connecting the dots. I sure wouldn’t care too much if I had some supposed Cuban fanbase (then again I’m not Cuban and don’t know the culture ties). Maybe he hates his country. And I’d have personally rather played for the A’s for 4 years as well.

      I have no doubt others have similar opinions to you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is something to that form. I just didn’t see the justification of calling him that based on that single article by the tribune with a few selective quotations, a workout video, and picture of him getting off a plane wearing glasses, that was all. My point was none of those things mean he will be a bad teammate or present a lack of effort between the lines, which the jury still remains out for even now.

      Was it confirmed Miami offered him 6-36?

      • Jeff in Az

        I took the miami numbers from Clark Spencers twitter feed. Believe me Gary, you will be very glad we passed on this guy by the end of spring training. I’m not sure what value the A’s see in this guy except to put some fans in the stands.

        Why would you rather play for the A’s? World Series potential? Sellout crowds? Big city marketability? Maybe you could be in the Money Ball Sequel? LOL.

        Who needs a bunch of Cuban defectos living in the Miami area buying your jersey or showing up to watch you play. (sarcasm) Oakland is where it is at. (The money that is).

        • gary3411

           Don’t like Ozzie Guillen lol. Or Miami. Or Florida.

          • Jeff in AZ

            We agree on this. :-)

  • Redlarczykg

    Cespedes may end up being a Choi, Fuko, Patterson, Colvin, Billy Cowan (I’m showning my age) Nelson Mathews (really showing my age), but at least he represented some hope for 2012 (if he can hit a major league curveball).  Now what do we have?  Not wait til next year, but for 2014.

    • Jeff in Az

      I’m not sure we are a Cespedes away from being competitive in 2012. Not sure how this signing would have done much more then provide some marketing value for the team.

    • gary3411

       Next year could look like this:

      Jackson (.5)
      Castro (4)
      Ethier (15)
      Rizzo (.5)
      Soto (7)
      LaHair platoon with someone(.5) Soriano if LaHair proves to be
      Stewart (3)
      Cardenas/Barney platoon (.5)

      Hamels (21)
      Cain (21)
      Garza (10)
      Wood (.5)
      Volstad/McNutt (3)

      Marmol (9.8)
      Samardzija (3)
      Wood (3)
      Russell (1.25)

      Bench (8)

      Maholm (.5)
      Soriano (15.5)

      $129 million dollar major league payroll. That still gives us some flexibility, assuming Rickets can afford in the 140-145 range, especially with the money we saved this year. No more spending it on prospects, those days are over unfortunately :(

      I like that team going forward!

  • Anthony

    Centipede to Oakland is a good lesson in Mass Media rumor mills and the fact the internet can make a journalist out of an elementary school student………………

    Is this craze over Cirqe’ de Soler all about a Cuban mystique, a false perception that being a Cuban baseball players means inherent better tools, talent, and ability?

    1. FIELDING- the ability to consistently man your defensive position and catch the ball.

    2. SPEED- the ability to have enough running ability to man your defensive position and run the bases adequately

    3. ARM- the ability to have enough arm strength to field your position adequately

    4. HIT- the ability to make consistent, hard contact with a reliable swing that can handle velocity, the ability to recognize pitches and adjust accordingly on a consistent basis, have the ability to adjust(approach) according to the situation

    5. POWER- to have the strength and/or fast hands to drive the ball over 400 feet with a wood bat, the ability to impart backspin

    So if I understand this fascination, and someone wants to throw around figures in the 25M dollar range, then this kid must be the following:

    He can cover CF better than anyone in MLB history, jump the walls and rob HR’s with a Superman leap of 5 feet, can cover all the gaps, and will routinely call of corner outfielders on balls hit near the foul lines. He runs a 6.1 60-yard dash, can run down a 400 foot rising liner in deep CF, spin, whirl, and fire a seed from 400 feet away, on the fly, on the money, then

    He will come to the plate and get a hit every time.

    Am I getting this correct, or am I missing something?

    In the real world, this kid would get a slot bonus of $500k and a Standard Uniform MILB Contract.

    Hopefully, Oakland signs him!

    • Jeff in Az

      I’d rather spend 27.5 million with 7 years of control (what seems to be the offer described) on a 19 year old with 5-tool capability over 36 million for 4 years on 26 year old (Cuban years = 32).

      Contract for Soler described = 3.92 million per contract year

      If this kid develops into an MLB ready guy in 3 years that 3.92 million will look pretty good. If not, you are right and this move will be a bust. I just think that its is a cheaper and better risk to go with the 19 year old that still has time to be developed over the newest oakland athletic who refuses to take any minor league at bats.

      • Anthony

        I was not comparing Soler vs. Cespedes

        I was comapring Soler to MONEY

        • Jeff in Az

          I was using the Cespedes comparison to try and demonstrate why Soler’s contract is not as lucrative as you where painting in your post. If Cespedes is worth 36 million (not necessarily worth it but more a reflection of the market) then Soler at 27.5 for 7 years seems like a good value.

          Apparently the cubs are damned if they spend money and damned if they don’t.

          Just commenting on your post which is what I thought was the idea..

    • cc002600

      Apparently, you are not familiar with the simple laws of supply and demand, and leverage.

      He is essentially a free agent, free to sign with ANY team.  Therefore, price goes up.  If he was drafted by 1 team, he would HAVE to sign with that 1 team or go back into the draft, so the player does not have anywhere near the leverage of a
      free agent, like Soler.

      HELLO ?????????????

      • cubtex

        Just like when the Cubs paid 7 mil for Gerardo Concepcion when the next highest offer was 2.5 mil????

        • gary3411

           They made a mistake if that’s true. But, I’m sure they did not know that was the highest offer, plus maybe they through 7 out there to blow him away and get it signed before another team had a chance to act.

        • cc002600

          Yep, exactly.

          That’s what its called a free market, and why Soler will get 25M, and not 500K, like whats his name said.

        • paulcatanese

          And you have people complaining about Soriono’s contract. Bottom line, someone puts the money out there, begs them to sign and when they do, fans object about the player and want them out of there. “clear the money”.

          • paulcatanese

            Cubtex, I didnt mean you have people complaining but fans out there.

          • cubtex

            Understood. Thanks!

      • gary3411

         no use

      • Anthony

        Using English, in a direct manner.

        Soler is NOT WORTH anything more financially than a draft prospect of the same age

        Paying 25 million to a kid on projection is STUPID

        And yes, I have an MBA in multiple concentrations, so don’t talk ECON 101 with me

        The kid hasn’t played past 18U baseball yet, and you will hang your hat on interent reports of broad shoulders, a decent arm, OK speed, a pull happy swing, yada yada

        All HYPE once again, wasn’t even the best player on the JNT


        • cc002600

          Well, gee, maybe you should go back for a refresher on that MBA.

          Let me explain this to you:  Many teams bidding mean price goes up.

          clue: cubs are NOT the only team bidding.

          Price is rising. 

          Just wondering, have you seen him play ?  Have you scouted him in person ?  I have not seen him play, but the cubs have scouts down there that have. They see something in him, as well as other teams have as well.  I trust them a hell of lot more than I trust you.

          Also, when teams are paying players 25M PER year for 10 years, I do not consider 25M over many years to be a HUGE risk.  I don’t care what age he is.   It’s well worth the roll of the dice to possibly get a potential stud

          • cubtex

            Ha! Spoken like a true Team Theo fan :) Outbid everyone on a foreign player here……Spend some more money there……Waste some more here…..John Henry will always give me more…..Ooops I mean now I hope Tom Ricketts will give me more. Lol

          • gary3411

             No one will ever again get to spend 25 million on a prospect. Not Theo not anybody. So, yes after this, all the money will problems and big decisions will be based on major league talent so we are going to have to overpay for free agents, or be looking from the outside in. We just have to try to hit on the longest-lasting ones.

            Let’s say you put Soler at 30% chance of being an everyday major leaguer and 10% chance of being an allstar. It’s still worth it! Cuz this is the last chance to acquire a prospect through simply offering a load of money. After this, its a scouting contest, like Jed said.

            25mil over 7 years. If he makes it we’ve got a gem for cheap right when it seems like our best prospects are going to be peeking. If he doesn’t we lost 3.5mil per year, not the end of the world.

          • cubtex

            I am not against signing Soler but l am against overpaying just to sign an international player. Theo has a habit of outbidding teams by millions and millions.

          • cc002600

            Spend money where ?

            All Theo has done is CUT payroll and get low risk guys.

            Next year’s financial committment is peanuts right now.

            What numbers are you looking at ?

    • John_CC

       Anthony, first off – I agree about the mass media hysteria.  The instant, constant, incessant bombardment of and access to “information” has turned us, we the people, more hysterical over more issues – real and perceived, important or frivolous – than ever before.  The blog-o-sphere, twitterverse, 24 hour news cycle means that journalists (real and perceived) need to put things out constantly to in order to keep up.  Think about it, if someone would have tweeted that Cespedes was going to sign with: the Twins, the Rays, the Cubs, the D-Backs and the A’s, but he did that over the course of 30 hours, each new tweet would have been fodder for the hysteria….and though the “reporter” barely hit 40% accuracy, he “broke” the story! As if that matters.  I suppose he could then go to numerous blogs and post a bunch of “I told you so’s!”

      Any, off my soapbox now.

      I digress, my point was, I agree with your take on mass-media and hysteria, but then you immediately follow it up with throwing about bogus numbers as a measuring stick for judging this next young prospect.  Why do that?  The $60M figure for Cespedes that you screamed about for a couple weeks was almost twice the actual landing price! 

      My point…I don’t if I really have just one, but why focus so much on the money, and worse, the rumored money?  It’s just the way the game is now, players both young and old, foreign and domestic, good and bad…they all make a lot of money! More than most of us will earn in a lifetime.  Being a fan, and dwelling on the fact is pointless.

    • gary3411

       I think we are in the real world? And he’s not going to get 500K for reasons already stated on here a million times. If he was coming out of HS he would get a lot more than 500K. If he was coming out of his fourth year of college, yes maybe he would get 500K, depending how he did in college. Have teams not scouted this guy? They have all seen him, NONE of us have.

      I don’t think anyone’s giving him $20mil because he’s “Cuban.” People don’t become GM’s making decisions like that.

      The only way to win a World Series is to have multiple players playing at all-star level while playing for very cheap (under $10mil), some people call this the “core.” You get those guys by acquiring as many high-ceiling prospects as possible. That is what Soler is and why so many teams are after him.

      Or your the White Sox and have every player on your team have a career year, then play out yo minds in the playoffs, but that only happens about once a century if that.

  • Patrick_Schaefer Here is a good scouting report on Dave Sappelt. Especially about his swing mechanics.

  • paulcatanese

    Congratulations to the A’s, and to Cespedes for getting together. I couldn’t be happier that he went there. His coming to the Cubs defied all logic.
    Cespedes is a top salesman and his resume was the best self promotion I have ever come across. Got to hand it to him, he pulled it off.

    • Jeff in AZ

      Agreed. Good take Paul.

  • Anthony

    I will say this once again in laymans terms.

    Most 19 year old boys are either entering college as freshman, or getting a job, having a social life, chasing girls, making mistakes, lack maturity, and

    you are saying you want to put $25,000,000 in his hands because he has broad shoulders?lol

    I am not talking baseball, I am talking any kid.

    In affiliated professional baseball, and in college baseball, there are kids who can make an outfield throw as good, or better than Soler.

    In affilated professional baseball, and in college baseball, there are kids who can run as fast, or faster than Soler.

    In affilated professional baseball, and in college baseball, there are outfielders who can play defense as good, or better than Soler.

    In affilated professional baseball, and in college baseball, there are players who can hit as well, or better than Soler.

    In affiliated professional baseball, and in college baseball, there are players with swings as good, or better than Soler.

    In affilaited professional baseball, and in college baseball, there are hitters who have as much, or more power than Soler.

    If you disagree with that, then you may need your head examined.

    No offense, but this gaga, and trying to justify the expense using ECON 101, “hey, the CBA says we have to do it now before they take that away from us” is simply STUPID

    Peace, Love, and Harikrishna

    500K tops

    • Tony_Hall

      Your offer to Soler at 500k would get you laughed out of the room…and that agent would never take you seriously again.

      You just don’t get it, and nothing any of us says to try and explain it to you will ever work…

    • gary3411

       Are those college/pro players available right now? If there’s one that can do all those things better than Soler at age 19, let’s go get them now!!

    • gary3411

       I’m really wondering this not being sarcastic. Are you denying that those ECON 101 elements exist in this case? Or are you saying you acknowledge them but that if you were GM you would completely ignore them and they don’t matter whatsoever?

      There’s more to say but not worth it anymore

    • Jeff in AZ

      You know this would be his (Soler) first job in Ameica, why not start him at minimum wage? (Sarcasm)

      7.25 per/hr tops

    • daverj

      Who cares if others are better than Soler … they are not free agents.  Soler is a free agent.  It may not be fair, but it is reality.

      ECON 101 is not  justification … it explains why Soler will get more than the high school and college players you mentioned.   And the CBA reason is why it makes it “smart” to give Soler big money, not “stupid”.

  • Jeff in AZ


    Great article by the way. Keep up the good work! I know I’m speaking for alot of readers on this site when I say that I am a much better informed fan regarding the entire organization after reading your articles Every Monday.



    • Tedtop16

      Great article. Good information. Contributions like yours make this a great site for information.

    • Tom U

      Thanks Jeff and Tedtop16

  • Nathan

    Im hearing via twitter that the cubs are suppose to come to terms with soler as soon as he becomes an eligiable free agent! The report is from CSN Chicago. If this is the case, the cubs off season just got so much better

  • Aaron

    I couldn’t be happier that Cespedes signed elsewhere. Soler is a far better choice (assuming they can even get him).

    But what is most perplexing about Team Theo is the average/below average players they’ve signed/traded for this offseason. While I understand that part of their “genius” has been to trade for players coming off down years or injury, it’s really not impressing me much, and I’m beginning to think that reports of Theo wanting Byrnes more than Hoyer are true, because not many of his moves have made any sense, and I’ll run them down for you in case you forgot:

    M. Gonzalez (selected by Astros…HIGHLY likely to make their roster)
    Flaherty (selected by Orioles…HIGHLY likely to make their roster if you read the recent article today about him)

    DeWitt (subsequently released when they needed a spot for Cardenas)

    Bianchi (subsequently released when they needed a spot for Wood)
    Corpas (subsequently DFA’d but remains as NRI)

    Marshall (problem with this trade is they netted Sappelt and Travis Wood who needed to be added to the 40-man, which reduced roster flexibility…and aside from Torreyes who ironically did NOT have to be added to the 40-man, they didn’t really get better…go figure)
    Zambrano (added Volstad to 40-man)
    Cashner (added Rizzo to 40-man)
    LeMahieu (LeMahieu and Colvin both netted Stewart and Weathers who had to be added to the 40-man)
    Colvin (see above)

    Here are the only above average signings/trades the Cubs made:

    Hoyer indicted himself BIG TIME when after the Rule 5 draft, he said that the Cubs didn’t want to lose Flaherty and Gonzalez, because it hurt their depth, but they were willing to take the risk (even though plenty of experts had the Cubs losing them, including Rhee, who luckily was not lost)

    That move forced the Cubs to sign Bianchi, then Edgar Gonzalez, and then Amezega, then when they needed a roster spot, they had to expose Bianchi, who like Flaherty and Gonzalez, was a young prospect with upside….which then forced them to sign Cardenas. Do you see how just one bad decision can lead you down the path of having 2 crappy veterans like Amezega and Gonzalez at the AAA level instead of ACTUAL prospects?!?!?

    I swear with their roster management, I was literally watching Jim Hendry operate this team remotely from some bunker under Yankee Stadium.

    T. Wood, Sappelt, Johnson, Weathers, Sonnanstine, Corpas, Volstad are average MLB players. Sappelt is the only one out of that group that has a chance to be above average if you read the excellent article posted by Patrick (thanks Patrick, by the way). Johnson is hold, Weathers can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a pitch. Corpas is coming back from injury/ineffectiveness, and Wood, Sonnanstine, and Volstad are poster children for the “one-hit wonder” label….also known as “The Randy Wells Award”.

    The problem with the new regime is that they actually believed they were coming into a situation with NO MLB-ready prospects. So…they subsequently did not value players like Gonzalez or Flaherty, and traded for the average prospects I just mentioned above. Don’t get me wrong…trading Zambrano and Marshall were wise moves, but the talent they got in return should have been either better (in the case of Marshall), or NOT on the 40-man roster (in both cases), which would have allowed for a great deal of roster flexibility, and created not only flexibility to add decent young players (such as Cardenas off waivers), but also would’ve allowed for greater competition is Spring Training for roster additions.

    All it would’ve taken was this:
    -non-tender/trade-Baker and DeWitt
    -allow Gonzalez, Flaherty, and LeMahieu to battle it out for 2 roster spots
    *instead, now we’ve heard from “Cubs insiders” that the Rockies actually asked for DeWitt in the Stewart trade, but the Cubs instead gave up the younger, more effective, versatile, and cost-controlled LeMahieu instead….then they had to DFA DeWitt anyway….WOW

    Anyway, I hope they get their heads out of their a$$e$, and realize that the Cubs already had several MLB-ready prospects. Perhaps they aren’t superstar-caliber, but if you look at the guys they’ve acquired….NEITHER ARE THEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    One of the things that should NOT be dismissed is that a lot of the teams with good young talent like the Braves, Twins, Marlins, Brewers, Reds, Rangers, Rays, etc., had their players come up through their own system playing with each other. When that happens, you have a sort of family feel, and guys legitimately pull for each other. When you have guys either being signed as FA or traded for from a bunch of different teams, then it becomes harder for them to mesh together and win. They knew this….How do I know? BECAUSE THEY ACTUALLY SAID IT WHEN THEY WERE INTRODUCED AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So why would they all of a sudden change that philosophy? Personally, I believe that Team Theo is trying to get “too cute” by trying to take on all of these reclammation projects. Honestly, aside from Cardenas, Torreyes, Maholm, there’s not a single player acquired that doesn’t come with huge baggage (and Maholm even has some…he’s just not coming off a season with baggage like the others…or in some cases, entire careers)

    I still want to see a roster similar to this:
    Volstad/T. Wood/Wells/Jackson/McNutt

    L. Castillo (because of his potential as a starter)

    C-Castillo, Clevenger
    2B-Cardenas, Barney
    3B-Stewart, Lake
    CF-Jackson, Sappelt
    RF-DeJesus, Johnson

    Why these guys? I know comments by some would be, “but this roster will lose ____ games, blah blah blah”. Really?

    How about this:
    C-Soto, Jaramillo/Clevenger
    2B-Barney, Cardenas
    3B-Stewart, Baker
    CF-Byrd, Sappelt/Campana
    RF-DeJesus, Johnson

    How’s that lineup working out for you? Do you honestly think it’s better than the one I just listed above?…because I don’t think so at all. Lake can play SS, 3B, and OF; Jackson and Ridling provide more OBP potential than both Byrd and Soriano, and in Jackson’s case, more power and speed than Byrd; Castillo has a better arm and at this point, a better bat than Soto, and Clevenger can also play corner IF in a pinch.

    • Tony_Hall

      I get most of what you are saying, but the majority of your argument and your problems with the off-season, all stem from losing Gonzalez and Flaherty.  I think Gonzalez will stick all season with the Astros, their roster is really bad, but he may not.  Flaherty very well could start the season with the Orioles, but it is very difficult for a batter to be lost to Rule V, for the whole season, unless he does win a starting job.  But the Orioles are really bad as well.  I liked Flaherty more than Gonzalez, and would have like to see him at Wrigley at some point.

      But, the thing you keep not considering, is that Theo and Jed didn’t really like them (or they would have protected them), and Bush/Fleita/Wilken obviously didn’t make them sound like keepers as well.  If they had fought and defended both of them like you do, they would still be here, but they have seen them both for many years…and didn’t do it…they must have had their reasons.

      Dewitt for Stewart straight up was not an option and it sure was more the Rockies not wanting Dewitt, than the Cubs not wanting to part ways.

  • cubs1967

    the Trib is stating Soler to Cubs……….upwards of 27.5M.  Really….he’s worth what Bryce Harper & Stephen Strasburg signed combined!………money is money……forget 2 got drafted and 1 was a foreign FA.
    call Gm Rizzo right now and offer that trade; after he gets back up on his chair and stop laughing hysterically…….Click!

    this can’t be true…….for that kind of money!

    wow—good luck theo in your next job…….’cuz ya just put your very short cubs career in jeopardy…….that kind of money for a 19 yr old playing in cuba……..and everyone got mad at JH for Fukunuts; who was a Japanese vet with MVP honors and .330 avg season or two…

    this kid will be in the majors when??……….


    • Tony_Hall

      Soler is able to negotiate with all teams in MLB.  Harper and Strasburg only could negotiate with the Nationals.

      I just can’t believe that people don’t understand the difference…it is so basic…put yourself in that same situation and think of the negotiations and you will figure it out…I hope.

  • cubs1967
    • Tony_Hall

      Let’s hope this is true and what the contract really is versus the rumors.  You do remember that Cespedes was going to get $60M+ and received $24M less than that.  

      You talk about prospects as suspects, yet believe rumors as transactions. 

      • cubs1967

        just points of conversation………….
        don’t believe anything till it happens.
        and like i said; forget the money; Soler is not worth twice harper/Strasburg………FA or not……’s still 27.5M……….anything over 10M is overpaid.

        • Tony_Hall

          The market moves to dollar amounts based on competition.

          $27M over 4 years is just over $6.5M/year.  Now I have hard time believing the rumored 4 years, and expect to see more, but I bet a good chunk of this money is a signing bonus, which should make you happy to know that they are spending more dollars this year :)

          And yes, he will be overpaid, as a prospect.  They get overpaid due to the low volume of players that can be signed as prospects on the open market. If all players in the US were on this same system, we would look like football where to make money you need to be drafted in the 1st round and the rest drop considerably.

        • Tony_Hall


          If Harper or Strasburg were allowed to be FA’s instead of in the draft, do you think they would have received a contract for $27.5M (yes)  $36M (yes). 

          I would say it would have gotten to ridiculous levels.Compare apples to apples.

          • daverj

            Harper and Stras would have commanded $50+ million each if they were free agents instead of subject to the draft.