Rambling on the Eve of the Eve of Pitchers and Catchers

During the slowest six weeks of the sports year, hearing “pitchers and catchers report today” can warm up the coldest of bodies on a blustery, snow-filled day in the Midwest.

These days players spend half of the winter at their Spring Training homes so reporting has lost some of its luster, but the fact that baseball is less than two months is music to my ears.

So let’s start talking some baseball.

  • I am enjoying all the love the Cubs system is getting, and everyone seems to be pretty confident Javier Baez is going to be a stud.
  • I think some of the same people were pretty sure Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson and Bobby Brownlie were going to be studs as well.
  • I would be stunned if the Cubs drafted a pitcher with the second overall pick.  Theo has been pretty clear about it. Let’s start guessing.
  • It is really too bad the Astros moved Leagues. That would be a good 10 more victories for the Cubs.  They are going to be historically bad.
  • I like the agreement between the Cubs and Northwestern.  I think it will be very beneficial for all involved. Northwestern has been trying to advertise itself as “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” for a while.  This will help that catch on, if it ever does.
  • I love how the Cubs offer to pay, the city backs off some restrictions, but then demands a deal with the rooftop owners be completed by a specific date.
  • I love this City. Just ridiculously delusional. Rahmbo, let’s worry about things that actually matter.
  • Too bad I can’t draw or else I would enter the contest to create the Wrigley Field 100 Year logo.  I could be one of tens of thousands who enter.
  • That is going to be a lot of work for a few rather unlucky employees.
  • I have tried to defend Mr. Kenney in the past, but the Cubs lost one of the best Marketing brains in the business for “whatever” reason.  I am done.  Inexcusable.
  • Clearly, this was the last straw in a long line of, um, straws for Wally.  And I like TR backing him as quickly as he did.  I would not be surprised if Crane has a new job sometime soon.
  • Back to the Minors, I do think, from what I have read, and what he has done, that Baez could be an amazing big leaguer. And wouldn’t that be fun.
  • Question for the readers: How much time does BJax have left to prove himself?  I have to think that he has a little over a year. One more year.  If he doesn’t make the team as a starter in 2014, I imagine the Cubs cut bait.
  • Your thoughts? He will be 25 in August.
  • Ah, PEDs, Schilling, Boston, Hoyer … good, great, grand, wonderful!!!!
  • Cannot wait for the all of the crap that comes out of this one.
  • So, let’s start the speculation on numbers.  What is your prediction for Rizzo’s line this year?
  • I will go .302, 22 HRs and 87 RBIs. Weigh in below. We have a lot of guessing games and predictions to go over in the next few months.  Shall be fun.
  • And who stays with the Cubs the longest this year: Marmol, Garza or Soriano.  My money is on Soriano.
  • As Spring Training is about to start, let’s raise a glass of Cubbie Kool-Aid to the 2013 edition of our beloved team.  Here’s to a meaningful game in August!

Enjoy your respective weekends; enjoy the golf at Pebble Beach, watching it that is, and until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

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"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
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  • brent carmona

    Bjax is a curious case, we know pre Theo and crew the ‘development’ plan for prospects was to let your talents work and just let them play. now there is a intense focus on development plans..bjax did do well statistically until the leagues caught onto him (stats somewhat plummeted), but now he has been told specifically what to work on (starting just now this offseason?). so I want to say he has until midseason to fix his swing, but being that he is just now getting different instruction its possible they will let him slide until 2014….who knows?

    • DWalker

      Yeah, thats the big kicker, just what is the real developmental gap between the old system and new. From what we are hearing, its somewhere between night and day and death vally to everest. I don’t buy that the old regime was THAT bad at player development. I’ll buy it was bad or even very bad, but I find it hard to believe the whole system was as haphazard and totally clueless as it appears in the media. But, then again, from player comments and whatnot, it does seem that could be the case. A year for Jackson, no problem, he gets that. IF he doesn’t, where does he go? his trade values almost zilch, but he has enough talent I don’t see them just releasing him.
      Now, Sveum had said Jackson has revamped his swing and is having a Rizzoesq winter rebuild. Thats interesting, so I’ll be curious to see if it bears true. I have my doubts.

      • daverj

        I still think Jackson’s a major leaguer, but if he can’t improve the plate discipline enough, it may be along the lines of a fourth outfielder.

        • J Daniel

          It is not Jackson’s discipline that is the problem, it is the high number of strike outs. Jackson is very patient, probably to patient.

      • triple

        The old regime wasn’t THAT bad? Just look at how many perennial all-stars the Jim Hendry regime created… Who were they?

    • paulcatanese

      There is a big difference between telling or instructing a player on what to do and that player doing it. The idea of swinging at strikes and working the count takes some time, especialy under the pressure of game time situations,some players never grasp that.

  • Tom U

    How about those Yaquis! Mexico wins their second Caribbean World Series in three years in a record tying 18 inning marathon. Outfielder Doug Clark’s solo home run in the top of the 18th put Mexico ahead for good. Two former Cubs had a hand in the victory. Mexico’s starting pitcher was Rodrigo Lopez, who allowed only an unearned run and struck out two in 7.2 innings. Shutting down the Dominican Republic for the last four innings, Marco Carrillo gained credit for the win, and the Championship.

    http://tinyurl.com/b8tzm4f

  • Ripsnorter1

    Brett Jackson will stick around until he becomes a MiL Free Agent. That would be six years from the draft date of June, 2009. Therefore the Cubs have control over him until 2015. At the minimum, the Cubs will keep him until then.

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

      Agreed…

  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s talk 2013 Rizzo.

    20 HRs……260 BA…..85 RBI

    Rizzo….not a finished product just yet. He only had 337 AB in the bigs last year, so not a full year. The league will be studying films of him this offseason, and they’ll be making adjustments, to which he himself will have to adjust.

    But let’s take a cold, hard look at what we have in Anthony Rizzo.

    #1 At this point in his career, he does not hit LHP well enough to sustain him as a ML regular on a contending team. Being on a bad team will allow him to get plenty of ABs vs LHP. If he continues with his 2012 trend, note these variations:

    LHP…..202 BA

    RHP…..330 BA

    Okay, so he crushes the RHP, but he’s a platoon player vs LHP. Let’s look for and hope for growth in 2013.

    #2 Power was inflated for 2012. 18% of his fly balls went for HRs. That won’t continue. So expect a power drop for 2013. Last year, if he actually hit the ball, 46% of them were ground balls. 25% were line drives, and he had 29% as fly balls. If he gets 550 ABs in 2013, and he fans at the same rate as he did in 2012 (17%), and his line drives and ground ball rates continue as they did in 2012, and his HRs per fly ball rate normalizes to Joey Votto’s rate of 15% (hey, that’d be very good!), then Rizzo will hit 20 HRs.

    THAT’S ALL, FOLKS. 20 TATERS.

    Carlos Pena’s rate = 14% of FBs are HRs

    Cecil Fielder’s rate = 18%

    Albert Pujols’ rate = 14%

    Encarnacion’s rate = 19%

    Corey Hart’s rate = 18%

    Do your own math if you wish. I listed the top HR hitting 1B in all of MLB.

    • paulcatanese

      Add to that Rip, the times that Campana was on first and was held from stealing a base to give Castro a chance to swing the bat.

      And with BJax, not hitting and striking out most of the time, how many stolen base’s did he have?

      Thrown out each time if memory serves me right.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Mr. Brett Jackson managed to successfully steal a base in MLB exactly zero times.

        Your memory is correct.

    • visitor888

      snort, you make too much sense, and Jackson was and is a K machine, and approach isn’t the main culprit, but the one-plane swing is, i.e fouling off the most driveable pitch too often and the inability to hit a pitchers strike(on the black)

    • Brp921

      I agree with what I think your saying Rip, If Dan Vogelbach continues to hit, and I believe he will, then, if he can be close to an average fielder you trade Rizzo for pitching. I love Vogelbach’s upside, I believe he will be an exceptional player (at least as a hitter) and for a big man he seems to be somewhat atheletic.

      • J Daniel

        You might trade Rizzo but I don’t think Theo is, unless he is offered a lot.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Rizzo carries a glove at 1B. That means he’s nearly untouchable in Theo’s world.

          If anyone doubts that, just look at Mr. Luis Valbuena playing MLB for the Chicago Cubs. That .199 BA with no power and no speed is only explicable when you understand Team Theo’s mentality about the glove.

          • calicub

            Where are you getting your numbers He’s a UTL INF who last year had an .obp .91 pts higher than his BA and ten points lower than castro. I think the clutch/grind and solid glove are keeping him around. Also the glaring lack of options aren’t helping… I’m not saying he’s the next coming but i think your taking liberties…

            http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/valbulu01.shtml

  • DWalker

    Ok, heres another question, Sveum. Last year as a manger, he didn’t impress. Now, I admit, the front office was calling a lot of the shots to play struggling guys like Marmol to try and get them hot or at least out of their slumps and build trade value even when they had no buisness stepping on the field. But, he also seemed to make a lot of strange decisions that can’t be pinned on the front office, so whats he do this year?

  • http://twitter.com/Arcticnitepet Arcnite

    295 BA 31 HR 110 RBI

  • daverj

    As to your Baez comment, I completely agree. I’m also surprised whenever a fan is so “certain” about a prospect’s future.

    I’ve also noticed a similar view on Vogelbach. Sure, Vogelbach might be great and I like his prospects a lot, but he also might be the next Brian Dopirak. I think Dopirak as a 20 year old hit over .300 with 35+ HR and 100+ RBI’s in single A. He jumped to the top of prospects lists and that was his baseball peak.

    There are no guarantees with this prospect stuff. As Cub fans, we should know this better than anyone.

    If Baez and Vogelbach continue to develop this season and we can deal them plus a couple other prospects in the #5-#10 range in the system for Price, I’d jump all over that deal.

    • TheWrongGuy

      I agree 100%. Although I like the other possibility not Price. The Cubs have been rumored to like Hellickson and Odorizzi. I can see the Rays trading those to for almost the same as Price. So the more value I see is in Hellickson and Odorizzi. Especially since the Cubs lose Garza, Feldman, and Baker after the season.

      That’s my 2 cents.

      • daverj

        I’d love Hellickson and Ordorizzi too, but I thought the Rays pattern has been to hold on to their young pitching and deal the guys that are 2-3 years from free agency for more young talent.

        • TheWrongGuy

          True very true that is thier trend. But if they have chance to pick up a couple high upside prospects, Baez and Vogelbauch. Who knows? But that is what I am expecting is the asking price. For either Price or Hellickson/Odorizzi.

          That’s my 2 cents.

          • John_CC

            It’s about the money. The Rays will trade Price for a hefty load of young talent and keep Hellickson as they have control over him for many years.

            But even if that were not the case, Price is better than Hellickson. By a lot in my book.

          • Brp921

            Agreed.

      • Brp921

        WrongGuy, normally I agree with your logical discourse, or your two cents lol, but please tell me you are not proposing a trade of Baez and Vogelbach for Hellickson and Odorizzi. Hellickson is a #3 starter and Odorizzi is just a prospect. That would be a top twenty guy and a plus plus power guy who hits a ton, so far, for a guy who might win fifteen games and a prospect. C’mon, your not suggesting that are you?

    • Vivid_Reality

      Brian Dopirak is probably a good comparison to Vogelbach but keep in mind that Vogelbach has already proven more at a younger age than Dopirak had. Same power, better walk rates, lower strikeout rates, better average will a comparable BABIP. I would bet that Vogelbach makes it to the show if he can keep his weight down.

      • daverj

        Again, I sure hope you are right and I like Vogelbach a lot, but statistically (given what he has produced thus far at low A ball), the odds of him being a productive starting major leaguer have got to be far less than 50%.

    • mutantbeast

      Dopirak never had Vogelbooms periphrials. VBoom avg an rbi/5.5 abs. Dopirak also never walked, had a 4-1 SO/HR rate and was the picture of an all-or-nothing hitter.

      • daverj

        I agree that the K rate is important. RBI’s, however, are so dependent on your teammates that it has little value as a measure of skill.

        There are never two exact players for comps, but my big picture point is that there are no guarantees with prospects particularly those who are 19 and have never played above low A ball. Vogelbach is somewhere between the 75th and 150th best prospect in baseball depending on who you ask and the vast majority of players in that range will not be successful major leaguers.

    • Brp921

      I haven’t seen where anyone has put a can’t miss tag on Voglebach. A lot of people, including myself, like his prospects really well, and when you look at the way he’s hit, he’s done real well across the board. What I have said, is that he would be a prospect I wouldn’t trade. When you throw a pitcher like David Price into the equation though, just about any prospect is tradeable.

  • daverj

    I’ll guess .270, 25 HR and 90 RBI for Rizzo. I have a real hard time seeing him hit .300 over a major league season a this point in his career.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Paul Sullivan:

    ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Tour of Cactus League teams will skip Cubs camp this year. White Sox featured on Feb 22.

    • mutantbeast

      same topic-MLB network is doing the Cubs first this year, 15 Feb.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Thank you for posting …

  • mutantbeast

    Rizzo 2013-25 hr 90 rbi 280BA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.barker.16547 Tom Barker

    Can we please stop using the term”drinking the Kool Aid” this implies Cub fans are being fooled by the course in which Theocorp has taken. As if there was a sure fire alternative. Like Kershaw and Verlander were available instead of Jackson and Baker. Either you believe in building a strong team through the minor leagues or you don’t. Giving the fans Kool Aid and passing it off as champagne is not what anyone is doing. They have been totally transparent, for better or worse.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Its not like transparency is a bad thing though. Granted I am a bit biased because Theo is doing everything I wanted from the last time we got swept out of the playoffs. At some point building through money will fail, you just have to have a prospect base to build from. Young players, plain and simple, give you financial flexibility. If you have 3-5 core pieces making less than 10mm a season it gives you the ability to add the overpriced Albert Pujols’ of the world. I would say at this point we have two core pieces in Castro and Rizzo. Shark may add the third and then we only have to rely on Jackson / Baez / Soler / Almora / Other to become the fourth. We have the unique ability, unlike most other mlb teams, too add payroll at a moments notice. When our core pieces are in place you can rest assured that management will have no quarrels adding the complimentary pieces to takes us to the World Series. 100+ years counting but I fully place my faith in Theo to not only take us to the top but to also build a dynasty.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tom.barker.16547 Tom Barker

        I completely concur. When I say transparent for better or worse, I mean whether you agree with the philosophy or not, they are not trying to pull a fast one. That is what drinking the Kool Aid implies. BTW, I believe Samardzija is a core piece.

  • Tom U

    Courtesy of third base prospect Dustin Geiger, here is a link to an article about LHP Hunter Cervenka

    http://wp.me/p1rXSW-8B1x

  • Steven Petty

    What about Brian Wilson on a one year contract with incentives? Be a good addition!

    • calicub

      The Mets were desperate for Bullpen help and they passed on him because he just wasn’t rehabbed, so maybe a NRI or MiL deal but it’d be a project/long shot since the Cubs pen is fairly set with:
      Marmol
      Fujikawa
      Russel
      Shawn Camp
      Rondon
      Villanueva/Feldman/Wood
      And depending on how many pitchers they carry:
      Dolis Bowden McNutt Whitenack, POSSIBLY Vizciano and then Casey Coleman, Jaye Chapman,Jensen Lewis,Nick Struck, Hisanori Takahashi are the NRI guys i’m looking forward to seeing

    • Vivid_Reality

      I would have traded the farm just for his personality two years ago. Thrilled is the only word I can think to describe my feelings if they got him on a NRI or even a mlb contract at this point.