Catching Up with the Cubs on a Break from the Cactus League

The Cubs take a break from their Cactus League schedule Wednesday and while they might not be playing an exhibition game, it is far from a day off for the team.

The Cubs announced another spring roster cut prior to Tuesday’s split squad games. Lefty Chris Rusin, who received a non-roster invitation to camp, was assigned to minor league camp which reduced the Cubs spring roster to 48 players, 33 on the 40-man roster and 15 non-roster invitees. The Cubs are expected to announce the sixth round of roster spring roster cuts Thursday.

The Cubs could have named their Opening Day starter Tuesday without saying a word. When camp began, it was reported that if Matt Garza started in a ‘B’ game or a minor league game on the Cubs’ only off day in the Cactus League, then he would be in line to start the first game of the season. The Cubs announced Tuesday that Matt Garza will start the exhibition game against the Rangers on Thursday and Paul Maholm would make a start Wednesday in a minor league game. Unless the Cubs alter Garza’s schedule, which is not expected, Ryan Dempster will start his second straight Opening Day.

Here’s the update …

Carlos Marmol
Carlos Marmol gave Dale Sveum and the coaching staff a mild scare Tuesday when he started shaking his hand prior after throwing a pitch to Mike Olt. Marmol’s right hand cramped up and neither Marmol nor the Cubs are concerned. Marmol was expected to undergo an MRI for precautionary reasons.

The Opening Day Bench
The Cubs could officially name their Opening Day roster within a week and while the announcement has not been made, it appears to all but be set … at least for the 13 position players.

According to multiple reports, as it looks now the Cubs’ bench will consist of Joe Mather, Reed Johnson, Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker and either Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger.

Blake DeWitt’s name has surfaced in trade rumors and that would obviously change things.

If the Cubs decide to have both Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather on the Opening Day roster, they will have to create two spots on the 40-man roster first. DeWitt and Mather received non-roster invites to camp and neither one are on the big league roster. According to ESPN Chicago, if the Cubs deal DeWitt than either Adrian Cardenas or Alfredo Amezaga (Amezaga is not on the big league roster either) could begin the season as the Cubs backup middle infielder.

Dale Sveum said Monday that by next Monday or Tuesday they will probably have everything done and the players will know where they are going to start the season. The back-up catcher position might be the only spot that drags out to the end of Spring Training.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago. Here are the highlights:

  • Teams like the Phillies should be contacting the Cubs about Blake DeWitt. Levine thinks DeWitt has more value to the Cubs than the marginal prospect they would likely receive for him. Joe Mather is certainly capable of being a good backup and might allow the Cubs to explore trading DeWitt or Jeff Baker to Philadelphia.
  • Levine does not think Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are concerned about Bryan LaHair’s struggles this spring. They are more concerned with the quality of LaHair’s at bats rather than the results.
  • The Cubs have talked about trading Marlon Byrd to make room for Brett Jackson and according to Levine that could happen at some point but not necessarily for the beginning of the year. They would like for Brett Jackson to play a few months in Triple-A and they are not looking to start his arbitration clock.
  • Levine has not heard any updates on how the process is moving along on Jorge Soler (note: as of this writing, Soler has not established residency in the Dominican Republic).
  • Levine is trying to find out whether the front office is working on a long-term deal with Matt Garza or not. When Levine asked Theo Epstein about it, he politely told Levine that they would be keeping that information in house.
  • Levine this Jeff Samardzija will be in the rotation … and they will make Randy Wells available to other teams.
  • Dale Sveum and the coaching staff really like Rodrigo Lopez.

News and Notes

Ian Stewart’s wrist may never be 100 percent but according to a report from Cubs.com, the good news is that it hasn’t slowed the Cubs third baseman down.

Paul Maholm pretty much locked up the third spot in the Cubs rotation Tuesday with the endorsement he received from his manager. With Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm the top three and Jeff Samardzija expected to be the fourth, the fifth spot in the rotation appears to be down to Chris Volstad, Randy Wells and Rodrigo Lopez … and Randy Wells looks destined for a bullpen role according to ESPN Chicago.

The Cubs’ pitching staff has hit 18 batters this spring, twice as many as the next NL staff.

Dale Sveum really likes Jeff Baker.

Jay Jackson could end up as the long man in the Cubs’ pen according to ESPN Chicago … and Jeff Samardzija making the rotation increases Jackson’s chances. Jay Jackson received a non-roster invite to camp and is not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

Quote of the Day
Travis Wood from Cubs.com: “You get traded for a guy like Sean Marshall, who’s an outstanding pitcher, and you want to come over here and show what you can do and I haven’t been. It’s all going to work out. I’m going to get it together and get after it.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • Ripsnorter1

    “Ian Stewart’s wrists may never be the same.”

    Here’s how I translate that: there goes his power to drive the ball. That explains the zero HRs in 2011. And now you can expect him to look like Xavier Nady. (And yes, I am aware that Nady’s injury was to the elbow. I am comparing his statisical decline in power numbers). 

    THIS IS NOT GOOD NEWS. It means any expectation of 20-25 HRs is unrealistic. It may also mean that this HR totals may be more like 5. And he’s a guy with low contact rates, which means his top BA is likely to be .250 at the very best if he had the power.

    I think you are going to see Mather, if he can hit for average and field the position, over at 3B quite often. I know they want to deal DeWitt, but they may find no takers. And they are going to need a spare 3B. [Please: no "Jeff Baker can play 3B" statements since he cannot field the postion]. : )

    I’d like to see them deal Jeff Baker.

    • Jashawx

      Well Guy let look at the numbers! Mather CAN NOT FIELD THE POSITION AT ALL! Maher has a minor league career 3rd base fielding % of .896 in 136 games with a 2.28 ranger factor. While Baker has a MAJOR LEAGUE career fielding percentage of .943 in 85 games and a 2.58 range factor. I believe the stats prove you are wrong Mather will be a disaster at the hot corner.

      If Stewart fails as the starter the Cubs will field Baker and Dewitt in a platoon at 3rd. There are no Minor league 3rd base prospects that have shown the ability the hit major league pitching so the Cubs will likely give Stewart an extremely long look before cutting bait.

      • ChadAudio

        Yeah, also Dewitt is a 3B too.

    • cubs1967

      so why did we trade for him again??
      he’s of no use for the future; that will either be Vitters or down the road Baez or a move by Castro from SS.

      just like the Marshall trade…………what was the point?
      roster fillers could of been done FA.
      not like this team is gonna contend in 2012 or 2013(not when team theo made the team worse)!!

      really gotta wonder wtf is going on…………

      • Ripsnorter1

        “Losing Big on the Cheap”

      • BrutalTruth

        so folks on this site could have something to bitch about over and over

      • RMercer

        I can see a future of Lake and Castro on the left side of the infield…not sure which one will be the 3rd baseman. I would like to see Lake there with his size, he seems more suited to be a 3rd baseman

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JKQGSH67PHSCQL7OCOLRJHIGY TomO

    Sveum and the coaching staff really like Rodrigo Lopez?
    I’m just not seeing how he fits in the Cubs’ plans.  He’s 36 and hasn’t had a season ERA of less than 4.42 since 2004.

    He’s not exactly young or loaded with upside.  If they’re looking for an arm to fill out the bullpen I say give a guy like Jay Jackson a chance.

    • Ripsnorter1

      You are thinking like someone who manages the Atlanta Braves, or the Phillies, or the Yanks. 

      Tisk, tisk.

      As someone on here so sagely commented, “They never said they are having a youth movement.”

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA!

    • cubs1967

      it’s JH all over again…….

      just a bunch of BS about a youth movement; at least for 2012.

      team theo and ricketts are all talk and NO action.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        IMO that is a really crazy statement after 4 months on the job…

        • BrutalTruth

          he just needs something to bitch and complain about. he was silly enough to expect 1-2 people to come in and change over 100 years of culture making in a few months.  he just had completely unreal expectations about what was going to happen.

      • Steve Rock-Vegas

        All talk and NO action?  How can you even begin to make that statement? They’ve completely gutted the team off all the dead weight and bad attitudes and have JUST STARTED, what five months ago, remaking this into a team for the long run. It’s not his fault no one will take on JH’s disaster signings of Soriano and Byrd for a bucket of balls yet.  For fans that have patiently waited 100 years for a winner they now suddenly can’t wait one year to rid this team of JH’s junk roster.  Relax people, he’s only half done with what I’m sure he’d love to do with one swift move, but it takes time and trade partners willing to make moves.

        • cubtex

          Kind of what Boston is doing now as well taking on Theo’s disaster signings over there :)

  • John_CC

    Thanks for the team update, Neil. 

    Why does Levine think that DeWitt means more to the Cubs than a low level prospect?  They cut him lose just over a month ago…all of a sudden he is “valuable”? I don’t think so. 

  • paul catanese

    They really like DeWitt and Baker? Dosent say much for the trades and additions they have made.
    Beginning to look a lot like Dejavu all over again.
    And when a team say’s they really like Rodrigo Lopez,isn’t that reversing the direction they are supposed to be heading?
    And I don’t understand the Bjax situation, either he can play or not,
    how long will the Cubs play the arbitration game? They go out and
    spend money on retreads and has-beens and yet are afraid to be placed in a position that may cost them a few bucks in the future.
    Is this an indication why the Red Sox were coming apart and the Brewers didn’t get to the World Series?

    • Tony_Hall

      On BJAX, it’s not just money, it’s control.  Bringing him up on Opening Day, makes him a free agent 1 year sooner.

      I will believe Dewitt and Baker as the 2 infielder on the bench when I see it.   I still say one will not be there, one way or another.  

      • cubtex

        I don’t know why you think Baker will not be on this team? Like Neil said a couple of days…..Baker will be on the team.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

          The reason that Baker could be the one to be moved is that he has the most value. We know what he is and when put in the proper situation he is very good. The only problem as other people have said you have to use the Tony Larussa approach with him. Limit his exposure and he looks great. Put him in there in situations that are not taylor made for him and he is going to struggle.

        • Tony_Hall

          Couple of reasons

          As Richard points out, he has value.

          They have a replacement for him in Mather, who is even more versatile – From the article about Sveum liking Baker “and Joe Mather, who is a younger version of the versatile Baker.”

          Teams like the Phillies should be contacting the Cubs about Blake DeWitt. Levine thinks DeWitt has more value to the Cubs than the marginal prospect they would likely receive for him. Joe Mather is certainly capable of being a good backup and might allow the Cubs to explore trading DeWitt or Jeff Baker to Philadelphia

          All in all I think a trade will happen before Opening Day that will make the bench not have Dewitt and Baker sitting next to each other.

          • cubtex

            Yes, I see that logic…but if no trade is made…Baker and DeWitt will head north is all I am saying.

      • Redlarczykg

        Tony,

        Theo trades Marshall because the Cubs now have Travis Wood under control for next few years.  The problem is Theo’s scouts failed to discover that Travis has no control of his pitches. 

        • Tony_Hall

          Not following what that has to do about BJAX.

          Not sure any scout saw him being this bad, he does have a history and stats that aren’t as bad as he has looked this spring.

          • Redlarczykg

            Tony,

            My focus was on control (pitching and money)  T Wood went from a 3 to 1 SO to W ratio in 2010 (86 so 26 w) to less than 2 to 1 (76 so 40 w) in 2011.
            Not to metion the worst pitch you can throw is one down the middle because you fell behind in the count.  T. Wood is a “control” pitcher. (currently not in control – remember Rich Hill?)

            And how do we as Cub Fans want to watch Byrd in center for 3 months, delaying BJAX learning on the ML level?

          • Tony_Hall

            Well, Cub fans have been watching Byrd in center for 2 years and if watching him in CF for 2 months will extend our control on BJAX by 1 year, I am all for it.  

            Just wait until Castro is in arb as a Super 2, and then a FA a year earlier.  You will wish JH had waited a few extra weeks to bring him up.

          • GaryLeeT

            There are other ways to control players, and avoid arbitration. They are called contracts.

          • Tony_Hall

            I have stated I would have locked up Castro already.  

            But, his getting to arbitration, still gives him more leverage in the negotiations.

          • cubtex

            Exactly!

          • cubtex

            Tony, You make decisions sometimes that is BEST for the PlAYER as well as what is best for the TEAM. This is not always so one sided like you argue!

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree, but most teams keep their best prospects in the minors until end of May, early June.  They get to make sure they are ready by the short stint to start the year in AAA and keep the player for one extra year.

      • cubs1967

        this little issue which is really a big issue should of been eliminated by the commish in the most recent labor deal or tell the players NO deal, if mlb had a real commish, it’s silly to tell fans teams put their best team on the field, yet they don’t becuz of this stupid arb rules………..can you imagine if football had this and the best young players were held out till week 5!!

        come on Bud!!! how do you promote a product like this. all tickets in april should be 50% off!

        • Tony_Hall

          I forgot about the NFL and their minor league teams that play at the same time as the parent club.  It is a great place to stash young players so they can develop…oh….they don’t have minor league teams.  I guess that explains why young players learn on the fly after giving them 1st round pick money.

          The rule is needed because players need a way to make more money before free agency. They also need a minimum amount of service time to be able to do this and it is 3 years.  They then allow the top XX% to also be aligible as a Super 2 status and gain a year of arbitration, but doesn’t make them a free agent any sooner.  

          If the Cubs thought BJAX was the missing piece to making the playoffs, this year he would be their on Opening Day.  Since he is not, keep in Iowa with Rizzo and Vitters and see if those 3 can develop together.  All 3 could be up this year together anyway.

          50% off…if you don’t like it don’t buy it…and I know you won’t be.

          • cubs1967

            arbitration should of been dumped or FA should of been shorten to 5 yrs; I’m really not gonna have pity for someone making 450K (MLB Min. or close to it) playing a game. if you are good; you’ll get your millions.
            then could also build in mins. for players in 3 and 4 yrs if renewed. the system sucks. it puts inferior products/players on the field becuz of it.
            and at this rate; the iowa team is better than the mlb team.
            that’s an embarassment!
            famous last words theo: cubs fans should demand a winner……. (but still show up for the loser I just put out in the field……..blah-blah-blah_)
            and the NFL players that dont make the team; ur right no minor league system……so they get real jobs!!

          • Tony_Hall

            You are so clueless.

            The Iowa team is better than the mlb team…wow.

            Arbitration is one of the fairest systems in all of sports.  

            Plus, I have figured it out.  You hate all things Cubs, plus all professional athletes because of how much they make.  

            Why do you follow the Cubs and any professional sports, if you hate everything about them?

    • cubtex

      I would rather give Cardenas a shot. Maybe they can trade DeWitt to the Phillies.

    • cubs1967

      welcome to the 2012 chicago rays……..except we draw twice what they do, but NO we have NO intention of putting the best team on the field…….just cheapest and crappiest cuz the “genius” team theo front office can’t trade marlon bryd.

      at this point, just like with JH, after the marshall trade and the wasted monies on dejesus and maholm, plus bringing back dewitt-baker-rod lopez, I’m scared to death of what team theo will get for soto if he has a good year like he does in “even” years or marmol, both of which should bring some kind of longterm asset, but just like the ted lilly trade; we’ll get useles parts back.

      • BrutalTruth

        if you’re so smart then get off this website and put your hat in the ring to run the Cubs and provide them with the leadership you think they should have.

        you have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the scenes and what it takes to get a trade done.  did you stop to think that maybe teams don’t want to trade for Byrd, don’t want to give up the pieces that perhaps staff feel should be had in a return, or leadership realizes that this is rebuilding year and that there is absolutely no good reason to give up a year of control on BJax just because fans want to see him for an extra few months in a rebuild season. 

        • cubs1967

          sorry i have an opinion.
          here’s a thought; don’t read it.

          how old are you 10?

          are tix discounted when I watch bryd?? NOPE…so if I have to pay top dollar; how about putting the top team on the field.
          common sense dude…..really!

          • Scott

            Just because you don’t agree with his opinion doesn’t mean he is “10″.  What are you, 8?

            What would be the “top team” on the field?  Do you “know” that Jackson would be better than Byrd?

            And no one said that you had to pay top dollar.  You don’t have to go to a single game.  Honestly, I would hope that when I go, I don’t sit near you because your complaints would ruin the experience.

            Why can’t you realize that Team Theo took over a team AND an organization that was a complete disaster and had to learn players at every level, build a front office and figure out how to start the ball rolling to make the team as  competitive as possible in 2012 without jeopardizing the future.

            Patience.  Common sense dude…..really!

  • Tony_Hall

    Why does everyone jump on every word?

    They really like Rodrigo Lopez.  Great.

    That doesn’t mean he is making the team.  

    It means he is well liked and being a team player.  He is accepting that he is going to Iowa and is just like reinsurance.

  • cubtex

    How about Bryan LaHair??? Also 0 walks this spring. What a difference from Pena!  As I said before, unfortunately LaHair is absolutely a AAAA player(just like Micah Hoffpauir) He will start the season just because they do not want to start Rizzo right away…..but by the end of June both Rizzo and Brett Jackson will be brought up and start. More than likely LaHair will be released and he will probably follow Micah Hoffpauir’s path.

    • Aaron

       I happen to agree with you on this. LaHair looks NOTHING like the guy from last year, and even winter leagues. No walks? WOW…That was kind of his ticket to the big leagues last year, and during the winter leagues…was patience. With the patience, he was able to wait for his pitches and then rush them.

      What gives him the leg up on Hoffpauir, however, is that the Hoff was an offspeed hitter ONLY. He couldn’t catch up to fastballs more than 93 mph. LaHair can hit the heat, and has a more compact swing than Hoffpauir’s Rizzo-esque loopy swing.

      I don’t believe in the 4-A tag given to players, just like Hoyer and Epstein don’t believe in it either. I believe it has EVERYTHING to do with a player given a full opportunity. Notice that guys like Brandon Wood, Dallas McPherson, etc. have all been labeled as such, yet never given a full opportunity. This will be his first full opportunity, and we need to give him the benefit of the doubt  right now.

      I believe Byrd, Johnson, Soriano, Baker, DeJesus, LaHair, Soto, Wells, DeWitt, Garza, Dempster, and Maholm won’t be with this team at the end of the year. The ONLY way they’re with this team is if it’s winning, or if they get injured.

      They will be replaced by:
      Jackson
      Sappelt
      Szczur
      Ridling
      Lake
      Rizzo
      Castillo
      McNutt
      DeVoss (if he starts out hot)
      T. Wood
      *and 2 pitching prospects they pick up in those trades

      Does anyone agree with this take? I just believe that it’s all about wins and losses with the rebuilding this year. If they are within 5 games of first, or in first place through June, there’s virtually no chance this team is blown up further.

      The only other move I could see them making if they were in first, or that close to first is dealing Garza if he doesn’t sign an extension early this year, because they simply cannot afford to risk him leaving via FA

      • Ripsnorter1

        LaHair NEVER was a big walk guy. He NEVER was a big contact guy, either. He is what he is: AAAA.

        The scouting reports I have read on LaHair is that he cannot handle the heat inside. He’s not quick enough. And that’s what I read.

      • cubtex

        I do believe there are quite a few AAAA players. Look at many AAA rosters and you will see guys in their 30′s who have had success in AAA but can make it to the next level. Bobby Scales is another AAAA guy. Casey Coleman is another AAAA guy in my opinion. They can have success in AAA but not in the show.

      • Dorasaga

        It’s ST, guys try different things. Maybe Lahair adjusted his swing to create better contact against MLB pitches? Who knows what adjustment he’s going thru’ to be ready for 2012?

        No need to press the panic button. You know better. Observe until May to decide the cut.

        • cubtex

          LaHair has got an opportunity and he is not working on anything. He is NOT a veteran. He is a AAAA player who shouldn’t have been promised a spot to start the season. That was a huge mistake to name him the starter before spring training.

          • John_CC

            …So There!

            Only veterans work on their mechanics? Wow, I learn something from you everyday…

          • cubtex

            Glad I could teach you something John! Do you honestly think LaHair would change everything he has done in the past…..sacrifice his spring stats, knowing he has an opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of starting in the majors to work on something??? Haha. I know you are smarter than that

          • John_CC

             There you go again. Who said that he was changing “everything”?

            I’ll ask again, are you saying that only veterans work on mechanics?

          • cubtex

            So LaHair is going up to bat not trying to get hits? He is working on going the other way….right???? He wants to work on hitting with 2 strikes so he intentionally gets in a hole to work on that???right? Have you ever been involved in competition before trying to beat out a player or win a position? He is NOT working on something and then the lights will go on once the season starts. He has a once in a lifetime opportunity and he is pressing and failing,,,,That is what 100% what is happening

          • John_CC

             yes. that is exactly what i said.

  • Aaron

    Couple thoughts…I posted the other night what I thought SHOULD happen with the roster, but here’s the conundrum the Cubs face right now.

    According to the lists I’ve seen, the Cubs have no room on the 40-man to add anyone. However, they could DFA the following guys:
    Sonnanstine
    Coleman
    De La Cruz
    Mateo
    Gaub
    Cabrera
    Sappelt
    Johnson-while he signed a FA deal, and is still fairly valuable, no other veteran that I can think of has had a worse spring than him. Granted, like Garza last year, he had an awful spring, and had a phenomenal season…so who knows?
    *****(most likely will be Sonnanstine, De La Cruz, and Gaub…we might see Sappelt DFA’d, but they simply don’t have enough MLB-ready OF depth to do that)

    Candidates to be traded are:
    Baker
    Mateo-could be DFA’d if they can’t trade him, but he’s out of options, so they have to either go north with him, or he’s gone
    DeWitt-(not on 40-man)
    Byrd
    Wells
    *****(most likely will be Wells from that list…others are virtually assured of starting the team according to comments from both Epstein/Hoyer and Sveum)

    Candidates to be added to 40-man:
    DeWitt
    B. Jackson
    Mather
    Amezaga
    Corpas
    Lopez
    E. Gonzalez
    Jay Jackson
    *****(most likely will be DeWitt, Mather, Lopez, and Jay Jackson from that list if you believe reports)

    See the conundrum? The Cubs need to create significant room on the roster to do what they want/need to do.

    Here are the guarantees for the roster right now:
    Garza
    Dempster
    Maholm
    Samardzija
    ? (Volstad-as long as he doesn’t screw up big time the rest of the way)

    Marmol
    Wood
    Dolis-this was straight from Sveum’s mouth, basically
    Russell
    ? (personally, I believe the last 3 spots are between L. Castillo, who has to remain with the team or be offered back to the Phillies, Corpas or Jackson, and Maine)
    ?
    ?

    Soto, either Castillo/Clevenger (most likely Clevenger)
    LaHair
    Barney, ? (most likely DeWitt)
    Castro
    Stewart, Baker
    Soriano, ? (most likely Mather)
    Byrd, Johnson
    DeJesus

    If I am Hoyer or Epstein, I’m looking to deal the guys I mentioned very aggressively right now. Here’s why:

    Baker-Mather or Cardenas could handle all the positions he can handle, and would earn less than he does. Oh, and both can hit right-handed pitching, which Baker CANNOT

    DeWitt-while he’s not on the 40-man, I firmly believe that Cardenas is the better player of the two, and all you have to do is look at their stats coming up through the minors. The Phillies need a 2B, and DeWitt fits what they need. Someone mentioned on TCR that DeWitt could be dealt to the Phillies for Lendy Castillo, which would allow the Cubs to send him to the minors for more seasoning

    Byrd-B. Jackson should be the starter, and everyone knows it. The Nationals need a CF, and the Rangers need OF depth

    Soto-I didn’t mention him above, because I haven’t heard anything about him being dealt. HOWEVER, he’s set to earn a HUGE amount in arbitration next year, so he needs to go. The Royals needed him, but the Cubs missed their chance. The Rays need him. Would they consider an Archer for Soto swap? What I believe is that Castillo should be the starter, and Clevenger should be the back-up, which would allow Jaramillo and Lalli to be the catchers in AAA

    Wells-He needs to go. Ever since his break-out year, he’s had more excuses for poor performance than anyone I’ve ever seen. Everyone remember his, “too big for my britches” comments? The Cubs need to capitalize on his newfound success in Spring Training. Teams are always looking for pitching this time of year with injuries, etc., and his value might never be higher.

    I feel that with all the roster spots that need opened up, this is going to end badly if their previous moves are any indication. I get what they’re trying to do…rebuild an awful team…but at the same time, they’re moves are making the team worse right now, and even the near future. Just look at the Marshall trade for an example. Quantity over quality does NOT make a good trade…I sure hope they know what they’re doing, because it sure seems like they’re setting this team…and first-time manager Sveum up to fail. It sure as hell sounds like the Cubs and their manager do NOT intend to lay down this season…even in a rebuilding year..but unfortunately management does not look like they are willing to give them the right players to succeed.

    Again, if you are trying to rebuild, then why on earth would you include guys like Johnson, Baker, DeWitt, Byrd, Soriano, and even their “big” FA signing of the year…DeJesus?

    And if you trade your best reliever from last year….and arguably the best lefty reliever in the league last year, why would you obtain a guy like Sappelt that needs included on the 40-man roster and then block him with veterans? Why wouldn’t you ask for a lower level OF that doesn’t need included on the 40-man…or even another pitcher?!?!? It just made no sense whatsoever.

    I think what they’re trying to do is get cute with all of their signings and trades. They want to be seen as geniuses, where they prove everyone wrong by finding some obscure stat, and pointing to that as a reason for them to be able to turn their careers around. They said the peripheral stats were reasons they went after DeJesus, Volstad, T. Wood, and Sappelt

    • paul catanese

      Aaron, I like you’re expanded version, very much to the point.
      As a fan for over 65 years I do not see these guys winning it all at least for another 4-5 years, if then, as other teams will not sit still and let them just walk in.
      To me it’s not how good the Cubs are going to be, but how bad the other teams have to be.
      I wish it were different, but thats how I see it.
      Again too many opposites have to happen.

    • Jeff in AZ

      Aaron-

      You know what I like about your posts? You are critical of certain things on the team but you articulate in a wy that I believe you are still a fan. I truely believe you want this ten to succeed and you dont get caught up in the constant negativity others display on the team. You are a perfect example of looking at things objecively without Being discredited as just Bering negative. Keep up the good work! You add a nice demension to the site.

      I may not agree with you often but I appreciate your approach to conveying your observations.

      Jeff

      • Jeff in AZ

        Sorry about the typos but I typed it on a tablet with word correct.

      • GaryLeeT

         Hey Jeff,
        I have seen you make the “those who are negative for the sake of being negative, are ruining the site” comments before. I think you are looking at some people’s comments the wrong way. When a team is as bad as the Cubs are now, fans are looking at all the positions on the team that need to be fixed. Since they are numerous, it stands to reason there are more negative comments now, than there were, say, in 08. Some people come here to vent their frustration, and that may be their only point to what they write.  I say, ” I feel your pain”. I just don’t understand why you can’t see the negative comments for what they are. It’s real Cub fans being really pissed, and just let it go.

        • Jeff in AZ

          Real cub fans use Neil’s site to enjoy being a fan. Most of the negative posters use this as their leather couch to complain and cry. DO NOT question if I am a fan because I don’t get “really pissed”. I don’t feel anyone’s pain but my own. Try not to be judgemental with me because I choose to be positive about the season and compliment Aaron for his insightful posts.

          Negative post after negative post does ruin this site for me and I know I am not alone. I have found sites with inferior content but with a more positive fan base to be more appealing. I come back to this site for Neil’s content, not laughable input from a bunch of negative fans.

          You negative fans live in a bubble, nothing positive gets in.

          • GaryLeeT

            Huh? How did you interpret what I said as questioning whether you were a Cub fan or not? I was just curious as to why negative comments bother you to the point where you feel the need to take the time to call them out. Why not just skip over them, and let it go? Why can’t each individual just take what they want from the site, and ignore the rest?

    • Ripsnorter1

      What is Johnson, aged 35, doing on this “rebuilding” team?
      Sure, he has a nice glove. But he’s a .255 hitter in 2012. No speed anymore. No power anymore. Nice guy. But then, he’s a roster spot that we could use to test our Sam, er, Dave Sappelt. 

      • cubtex

        I think we both agree that Theo hasn’t done a very good job constructing the 2012 Cubs. The thing we will have to look forward to is seeing Rizzo,BJax and hopefully Vitters taking over as starters by midseason.

        • Ripsnorter1

          We agree.

          Vitters? Can’t field at all at 3B. Best suited defensively for the DH job that we don’t have. Doesn’t hit with enough power to warrant a DH, LF, RF, 1B or 3B job.   He’s a problem.

          • Chadaudio

            I too was very discouraged about the story of Stewart on Cubs.com.  Wrist injuries are really hard to get over… just ask D. Lee.

            I have also been disappointed in Vitter’s spring too. I really thought he would show up this spring and pull it all together… we really need him at 3B.  Without him – who?  I think Lake is probably two years away – don’t you think?

          • Chadaudio

            Clevenger started as an SS, but wasn’t developing fast enough, so they tried him at catcher.

            As a catcher, he was able to keep his at-bats up, and soon developed offensively (and defensively as a catcher).

            I wonder if he could now be switched to a 3B, and still keep his offense development up?  What do you guys think?

          • Ripsnorter1

            I don’t know about Clevinger at 3B. I haven’t enough info to be able to tell you. But I can tell you he doesn’t hit with power. He’s a singles hitter. And 3B is a power position. So in that regard he isn’t ideal.

        • BrutalTruth

          I think that all depends on how you define what a team should look like in a “rebuilding” year. 

          • cubtex

            Exactly! This is not what I would consider a team that is rebuilding to look like in a big market. Maybe the Pirates or the A’s….but not the Cubs

      • gary3411

         Because you don’t want future starters on your bench, and him being there doesn’t negatively affect the future.

        • cubtex

          Not every young guy is a future starter. Cardenas is not. Sappelt is not. Clevenger is not.

          • Chadaudio

            cubtex.
            I agree with you about Cardenas and Sappelt… but I am curious why you think Clevenger is not an every-day catcher?  He seems rather unproven at this point.

          • Tony_Hall

            Clevenger is projected to be nothing more than a back-up catcher. Of course not too long ago, they were projecting Samardzija to pitch out of the bullpen the rest of his career.  

          • Chadaudio

            Thanks Tony, I didn’t realize that.
            What do you think about moving him to 3B?

          • Tony_Hall

            I think defensively he would be adequate to fill in around the infield.  If his bat isn’t enough to be projected to start behind the plate, it won’t be enough to fill 3B.  

            I am not worried about 3B at all.

            Stewart 
            Vitters
            Lake
            Baez
            Geiger
            Candelario 

            I might have missed someone as well.

            Castro is there if they ever wanted to move him as well.

            3B is a problem, short term, if Stewart doesn’t work out and Vitters isn’t ready, but long term has a lot of options.

          • gary3411

             Yes, and when injuries occur like they do every year (Johnson), those guys will be there to fill in the backup roles.

            But yes, if those guys were on the bench it would not be a mistake because they are not future starters, but none of them are proven MLB bench guys and honestly does it matter whether Sappelt or Johnson is our backup outfielder this year? Not to me.

      • John_CC

         So, you guys don’t see any reason, no positives in having a hard-nosed veteran that always hustles, leads by example, and plays the game the “right way” on a “rebuilding” team?

        • Ripsnorter1

          If we suppose that this is a rebuilding year, then I would suppose that getting young players experience at the ML level would be important. Johnson is a wall to giving ML experience to young players. A coach could do what you are suggesting Johnson would do.

    • cubs1967

      team theo is very cocky, very much think of cubs fans as stupid drunken bleacher bums, and ricketts has had the same attitude thinking the tax payers should fix the Dump, which he bought knowing the condition.  at least JH was humble. this guys are not and the joke’s on them come july when the seats are empty again when the W-L record is gonna be as bad or worse than the JH/Quade tandem.  that’s unacceptable!!
      @4593dbdf82aec1823f3480ca6c76370f:disqus 
      i thought in 2-3 yrs team theo would turn this around. after making the team worse, they may have added another 1-2 yrs. does theo know his deal is only for 5 yrs? or did he really spend 250K over asking price on a home knowing he has a 1- yr handshake deal; which is why he uttered the words this is a 10 yr project……….hmmmmmm…just sayin’.

      famous last words from team theo; cubs fans should expect a winner……..So when??? can we???

      none of the east coast cocky wanna be ivy leaguers in the front office know the midwest; we don’t have boston or new york accents nor are we stupid drunk bleacher fans; this they will find to come back and haunt them after this year…..the “standing O” theo got in Jan at the cubs convention soon will be gone and fans are gonna start asking???…..104-105-106….how many more genius boyz??

      • Tony_Hall

        You really need to get off, whatever it is you are on?  

      • Scott

        What do you base your opinion that Team Theo is VERY cocky and thinks of Cubs fans as stupid drunken bleacher bums?  I would like to know what you are basing YOUR opinion on.

        • John_CC

           ’67′s opinions are based on his own psychotic delusions.  Just let him be.

          • cubs1967

            thanks dude. glad you think the 2012 team is an improvement over the JH era the last few years.
            perhaps you should listen to how team theo talks……..we should demand a winner he says SO…….where is it.

            yes…..after 44 yrs of watching crap put on the field any fan with a clue about baseball should be delusional at this point……..ya know 104 yrs isn’t embarrassing enough!!

          • John_CC

            your words:
            “team theo is very cocky, very much think of cubs fans as stupid drunken
            bleacher bums, and ricketts has had the same attitude thinking the tax
            payers should fix the Dump, which he bought knowing the condition.”

            “perhaps you should listen to how team theo talks……..we should demand a winner he says SO…….where is it…”

            We are not out of spring training yet!  They have not won or lost a single game! 

            Your rants are delusional. That’s all I said, I am sticking with it.

          • Will

            The front office is filling the roster spots and trying to gauge their young talent this year.  Not trying to rush them through the system.  It is understandable that they take a year to see where they are at as an organization.

      • brent carmona

        Didn’t Neil post something the other week about not being too negative on this site….?

        • Jeff in AZ

          I agree. I think I read that article as well. Everyone behaved for a week and now we are back. Becareful though, I was told earlier that I’m not a real fun fan cause I don’t get pissed at the 2012 season that hasn’t started yet.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Better leave those peripheral stats alone.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to Baseball America, the Cubs have released RHP Yohan Gonzalez, RHP Jordan Latham, SS Rafael Valdes, OF Ben Klafczynski & OF Blair Springfield 

    http://tinyurl.com/6tdkknr

    • BrutalTruth

      oh great Neil…you had to post this news…this is just more ammo for cubs1967 to illustrate how Team Theo has doomed the Cubs for another century by letting go of these future all-stars. 

      brace yourself for more rants from cubs1967 everyone…get ready..here it comes…..

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I have to post the news. That is keeping up my commitment to the site. I understand and I really wish I did not have to today.

    • RickinMSP

      Was there a problem with Klafczynski? I know he didn’t really light things up last year, but based on his college stats, it seems he was worth more than a three month look. Injury? Bad attitde? Would rather do something else with his life?

      • cubtex

        I agree. I was surprised to see Klafczynski being released. Tom U……Your thoughts???

        • Tom U

          I try to get as much information as possible concerning what is happening in the minor league camp, but the information can be spotty.

          None of the transactions are a huge surprise, including Klafczynski. While he has a lot of tools, he hasn’t hit anywhere near what his past numbers would indicate. It seems that this may not have improved in minor league camp. We just don’t know a lot about what is happening there.

          The competition among outfielders in the organization is pretty high. I wish both Klafczynski and Springfield success. Hopefully, they can put it all together down the road.

          • cubtex

            Thanks Tom. I know some were high on his athleticism and his upside. I know his stats weren’t good.

          • Anthony
          • Just sayin

            What did the Daytona and Peoria OF and DH do today?? 0-12 and 2-14… Looks like they didn’t come prepared to play ball this spring. In his 2 opportunities to play, Klafczynski was 4-7.

          • Anthony

            people here said my posts were cryptic, and they were to let things unfold, and I was in Mesa, and Ben Klafczynski had a ST camp better than anyone there, which is why I kept my trap shut when my insiders informed me in advance.

            Tom U, you know Nada!

            Get with it. The Kid raked

          • gary3411

             in practice games?

            Just wondering, were you there all spring? More than 20 AB’s? Really honest question. Anyone can rake in 10-15 AB’s.

          • Tom U

            That’s right Anthony, I said in the post above that the information from the minor league camp can be spotty. When someone gets released, you can only speculate as to why. 

            Thanks for providing more information.

  • Jeff in AZ

    Again, I thought this was a site for the cubs faithful? More negativity from the same user names. Definitely diminishes the hits on this site from my IP address.

    Its a shame I don’t see any of the old posters here anymore. Just the same few bitching about the roster and management day in and day out. Funny how no time is spent talking about the coming out party of samardja, volstad, or mather. Just the same complaints day after day.

    Congrats, the three or four of you own the site now. Commence bitching while the rest of us go out and support the team.

    Neil, been a fun ride. Good luck with your site and I will hit you up when we win the series. Go cubs!

    Regards,

    Jeff in Az

    • cubtex

      Sorry you feel that way Jeff. I think everyone wants the same goal. Re-read what you just wrote(do me that favor) You are talking about the coming out party for Volstad and Mather??? I am very excited about Samardzija…..but if the only other 2 players worth mentioning by you are Volstad and Mather…. that says it all. When they start playing Rizzo and BJax and Vitters. When they start adding quality pieces to compliment these young guys instead of DeJesus, LaHair and Stewart….I am sure you will have more enthusiasm on this site! Keep posting! It is good to have several opinions.

      • wrigleylover

        i’m excited about the possibilities of Mather and Volstad also

    • Tom U

      Maybe stay for the articles?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you Jeff. I still wish we could have met at the first game this spring.

    • Agustinrexach

      Jeff you are an important guy here.  There are a lot of new posters but the site is the same…just more people.  With quantity  comes a lot of good and unfortunately some bad. I just scroll down faster now a days but the games will start shortly and the dead season ends.  Don’t get beat up by some bad posters…stand tall, make your posts and scroll down the ones you dont like! CYa soon in Talkin live when the season starts.

  • Rman8

    This will be a one time post.

    I have been a fan of this site since June 2011, and I thank Tom U, Anthony, and several others for some kind words extended to a player I care deeply about.

    The releases today actually happened this past Sunday morning.

    The player arrived to spring training with 15 pounds of added muscle and hit the ground running and raking, and nobody should ever question the makeup of a solid kid, one loved by his coaches and instructors.

    Baseball is business first, politics 2nd, and talent 3rd.

    No univested player regardless if he outperforms everyone else will replace a player that the club spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on, even millions because it stalls their investment.

    The player was released without the input of the daily field coaches and instructors and was told there were too many players at his position.

    The minor league field coaches were unaware of the release, shocked, as all of us were when we found out, and they are just as upset as anyone regarding this decision.

    For those who care, the player got huge kudos from all the instructors, mainly Billy Buckner as far as hitting. The player came more than ready and maybe the Cubs were surprised.

    In 2 squad games, the player was 4-7 with 2 doubles, 2BB, and no strikeouts. The player took the count to 3-2 five times of those 9 plate appearances.

    The Cubs made a business decision, and I always though finding a diamond in the rough at a low initial cost would be considered “brilliant”

    Our camp is hoping a better opportunity affords a great kid, one who deserves a full season to prove himself.

    Best wishes to all. I have enjoyed reading here and being a fan of the Cubs, even for a short time, but it is time to find another team to root for, one where the player ends up with a better opportunity.

    This was not an issue of baseball ability, and our camp remains confused, as do those coaches who were close to the player during the Mesa workouts. The player performed lights out in 12 short days, better than the .320 average he put up to close out the Peoria 2011 season.

    HOPE

    • Tom U

      Thank you for your kind words. 

      For this player, I hope the old adage “When one door closes, another opens” gives him a great opportunity.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Hope, thank you for your insight. When I read the moves, they caught me off guard. I hope those players find a new organization and can realize their dream one day.

      • Just sayin

        Hope is right, it is a business. Whatever happened to: “For the Love of the Game”

    • Aaron

       Rman8,

      not sure if you’ve read on here much in the past, or if you reviewed the recap I did for the draft last year, but Ben was one of my “under the radar” picks, and I really believe he has what it takes to succeed in pro ball.

      I don’t know if you’re related, or posting as an agent or teammate, but what I can tell you is that several of my friends and former teammates have played minor league ball as well as MLB, and I can tell you that politics when you get to the MLB level is horrifying to the point of blatant racism (against “homegrown” US-born players, believe it or not)….it’s all a sham. There is so much I could post on here, but it would give some of them away.

      There are so many deserving ballplayers out there, but the thing is, there’s not much difference between ballplayers and corporate America…Usually the least deserving “earn” the most money and get all the accolades while the unsung guys just waste away.

      The problem with big name hires like Piniella and Baker in the past, or Epstein now, is that they all had success prior to coming over to the Cubs, so they weren’t as hungry to prove themselves all over again. Look at how all 3 of them have conducted themselves. It’s totally opposite from the type of hire that Sveum is. Any success the Cubs experience this year (especially this year) will be in spite of Theo and Hoyer, and NOT because of them.

      Again, if you look at their moves, it’s quite clear they had/have no use for any of the previous regime’s players, although they have a strange fascination with guys like Baker, DeWitt, and Johnson.

      Look at the Marshall trade and what they received.
      Look at the Colvin/LeMahieu swap for Stewart/Weathers, and how Weathers couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a pitch, and was essentially traded for LeMahieu, who did nothing but hit since he was drafted out of LSU

      I must say though, that the previous regime was even worse for young players than this regime.

      Best of luck to you in the future, and if you know Ben personally, please let him know that some very knowledgeable fans on this site valued him, and we wish him the best in the future.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    I am posting a link to an article that ran a couple of weeks ago for everyone to re-read. What was said then stands today.

    http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2012/02/ccoletter.php

    I was not able to monitor the site today like I usually do and the comments got out of hand. I received several complaints.

    I encourage those that must be negative for the sake of being negative to find alternative place to post their views. We welcome
    all comments and conversation as we stated in the article linked above. But the attacking and negativity can and will not be
    tolerated any longer. I hate censorship, so it is my instinct to give those offending others and breaking the rules of the site one more try. This is the last time I post this message.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

      You know I came here last spring to get away from just this type of thing on other sites.

      I have been away most of the winter working and helping my nephew get through his senior year ( he transferred up here from Texas to get away from a bad situation but that is another story). In the last 2 weeks or so I have began to come back a little bit as my mind is on baseball and spring again.

      The changes that have happened to the people on this board is startling. There was some arguments over this and that but for the most part we were civil.

       Now it seems like there is a line right down the middle. Half of the readers and posters are solidly in the new GM’s corner and the rest are split between the convince me (which I am in by the way) or down right hatred of the new regime.

      There seems to be more and more blasting at each camp instead of enjoying the fact that we are almost to opening day and get to see some of the best athletes in the world play a game that I can still watch and talk about for hours.

      We are all not going to agree, that is what is great about baseball.

      There are many ways to accomplish the goal which should be getting to see our team win a World Series SOON.

      Why must there always be the personal attacks and” oh I hate this guy” or that guy just sucks when each player has his points that make him a major leaguer. If do not like a player because of a reason be like Rip and spell out what the reason is (sorry to include you Rip but you are the best at hand picking stats to make your case whether they tell the whole picture or not is another discussion).

      Some of us actually enjoy a good debate but what is happening on this board today is not debate it is divisiveness. There are HATERS everywhere you look in life why do we have to see it spill over in the area’s we go to get away from life a minute or 2 and talk baseball.

  • Anthony

    Lets put this to rest.

    You can surmise, conclude anything you want from this.

    When a player with a pedigree background who chooses a different path from high school baseball to Pro baseball gets released after 4 years of college and a short pro window, that player had the maturity from Day 1 to choose it knowing the possible negatives.

    The player was a Nationally ranked player from the HS class of 2007 on Baseball America. That player competed with kids now in MLB at the 2006 USA Baseball Tournament of Stars as a HS Junior, I was there!

    The same player ended up getting an award as one of the Top 3 outfielders after his Senior year of HS along with Jason Heyward and Ben Revere. Tom U referred to that.

    Same player chose to stay home and help a mid-major program get some recognition, and in his 4 years, three Regionals and four Conference championships, and left his college holding various hitting records and his Conference leader in total bases.

    This released player was also a CCBL champion, and when nobody took him seriously, was an NECBL all-star and won the HR Derby in his sleep in 2010. There is YTUBE video as well as other footage of his athleticism.

    If you want to rummage thru his college stats, the player did extremely well against 1st round piching all 4 years.

    The Cubs maybe laid an egg. This player was released because he is better than an accumulated $5MM of bonus money spent on others.

    As I mentioned before. My involvement in baseball started with area scouting, hitting instruction, and college baseball. I follow many players, and watched a dozen last week that I saw in high school and college baseball while in AZ.

    The player in question raked, flashed the gun, and sold everyone except OF, JH, and the almighty TE

    This decision was political, then business.

    Done here. Wherever the kid ends up playing, I will follow.

    Good luck Cub fans.

    Over, and freakin OUT! here

    Neil…………….nice job on staying quiet

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

       Anthony, I hope you received the email I sent you tonight.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Cubs will face Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez in the first two games of 2012.