Vitters a Priority to Develop and Other Cubs News and Notes

Ian Stewart’s comment to Carrie Muskat and the Des Moines Register about Josh Vitters being the “future at third base” prompted the media to ask Dale Sveum about Vitters’ future prior to Tuesday’s game. For those that missed it, Stewart discussed the conversation that he had with Theo Epstein following his demotion to Triple-A Iowa and said that Epstein told him that Josh Vitters would be getting a majority of the at bats at third base because they feel Vitters is the future at third.

According to a report from the Tribune, Dale Sveum would not say Vitters is the Cubs’ future third baseman but did say that Vitters is a priority. Sveum explained, “Who knows about him being the third baseman of the future, but he’s a priority to develop as that guy.”

Josh Vitters is only 23 years old and can hit the fastball but according to Sveum he still has “a lot of development left in him.”

Dale Sveum likes the job Luis Valbuena has done and told the Tribune “if Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he’s our third baseman.”

Josh Vitters has a ton of ability and has shown signs of putting it together in the minors. But questions about his maturity continue to pop up, as well as questions about his defense at third base. The Sun-Times reported Vitters is off the radar as a high-expectations prospect. If the light ever goes on and stays on, Vitters could be a piece of the puzzle going forward for the Cubs, even if it is not at third base.

Theo Epstein explained the conversation he had with Ian Stewart following his demotion. Theo Epstein from the Sun-Times:

“I called Ian to give him an honest assessment of his situation so that he could make an informed decision regarding whether or not to accept his assignment to Iowa. I told him things had changed because Valbuena was playing well and was now our major-league third baseman. I told him Josh Vitters was a prospect and needed to play a lot at Triple-A. If Ian accepted the assignment, I couldn’t promise him at-bats, and we owed him that candor since it impacts his career.”

Roster Moves

The Cubs officially designated Michael Bowden for assignment on Tuesday in order to make room on the 25-man roster for Matt Garza. The Cubs claimed Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the Cardinals and sent him to Triple-A Iowa.

Dale Sveum was asked why the Cubs designated Bowden and kept Shawn Camp following Tuesday’s game. Sveum said, “Camp can get righties out with his sweeping slider. He’s durable. He can pitch. That’s why.”

The Cubs 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players with Tuesday’s roster moves.

Cubs Bullpen

17 of the Cubs first 44 games have been decided by one-run. The Cubs are 6-11 in one run games this season … and have blown 10 saves as a team. Shawn Camp was charged with his third blown save on Tuesday night after his latest implosion.

Shawn Camp was not happy following Tuesday game and according to the Sun-Times, snapped at a reporter that asked about the problems he is having with his changeup after Camp dismissed his velocity issues.

The Cubs added a reliever to the 40-man roster on Tuesday when they claimed Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the Cardinals.

Dale Sveum was asked about the bullpen issues following the latest meltdown. Sveum told ESPN Chicago, “Seven weeks into the season to have 10 blown saves and losing games that you have in the bag.”

News and Notes

Albert Almora is expected to make his debut for Kane County on Wednesday.

Patrick Mooney spoke with Ryan Dempster about the end of his Cubs’ career and why he did not want to leave the Cubs.

Patrick Mooney caught up with Matt Garza following Tuesday’s game. Garza told Mooney that it felt great getting back on the mound. Garza said, “Felt great getting back out there but it sucks the way it ended. I felt I could have kept going but I’m just following the program.”

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Maybe someone should tell Sveum that Camp can’t get righties out with that sweeping slider, and that durability doesn’t matter if your ERA is above 7.30.

    • Theboardrider

      He was very solid last year. He’s one of few guys who has contributed. We need to give him a few more shots to get out of his funk.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Mr. Michael Trout hit for the cycle last night.

    “The Cycle” is virtually as rare as no-hitters in MLB history. There have only been something like 40 more cycles hit for than no-hitters pitched.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Speaking of winning teams having the highest OBP….

    the Brewers have the highest OBP among its top four hitters in all of MLB.

    Entering Monday’s game vs the Dodgers (42 games deep into the season)–the Brewers #1-4 hitters all have an OBP higher than .400.

    The Brewers currently reside in the basement of the NL Central division, having surpassed the Cubs for losses.

    Those hitters are Braun .408; ARam .403; Aoki .407; Segura .406. And Carlos Gomez has a .371 OBP as well.

    Of course the Brewers stink because they are not leading the NL in the one important stat: RUNS SCORED. They have scored a mere six more runs than Your Chicago Cubs.

    Brewers’ starting pitching has not approached the excellence of Your Chicago Cubs this year.

    Speaking of the Brewers….Tom Gorzelanny has pitched 15.2 IP, and given up only 6 H.

    • gary3411

      The Brewers are 7th in OBP in the NL and seventh in RUNS SCORED in the NL. Unfortunately, there are 9 players that bat in baseball. If only 4 did, I presume the Brewers would be 1st in runs scored.

      • Theboardrider

        Pitching, pitching, pitching…

  • Ripsnorter1

    It says right here that Sveum’s comment that ” if Valbuena keeps

    • Ray Ray

      “If Valbuena keeps playing the way he is” His average is down to .255 and sinking. He will be in the .220’s again shortly and he will not be “our” 3rd baseman. You cannot have a 3rd baseman with his skillset and be a successful playoff team.

      • Theboardrider

        Unless Stewart miraculously gets at-bats and turns it around, Valbuena is our best player there in a platoon situation. Therefore he’s our third baseman.

        • 07GreyDigger

          In the quote from Theo, he doesn’t say that Vitters is the future at third, he just says he’s a prospect and needs at-bats.

          Along the same lines, I agree Ray, Valbuena is not the long term answer, but unfortunately, he’s the best answer they have currently.

        • Ray Ray

          Hopefully Vitters can make some more strides this year in AAA and they can give him a “real shot” in the 2nd half. Play him everyday for 2 months and let him sink or swim.

  • Dorasaga

    I have a vintage thought here; make it two, relative review of this Cubbie Occurance. If we look back history:

    1. Pro baseball overrated shortstop defense since 1940.

    2. American baseball underrated third base defense.

    I specified “American” because if we look at Japanese and Cuban baseballs, then we can see that their strong, prospective third basemen who will end up pro (or “should be pro,” in the case of Cuban nomenclature) are very good defensive fielders. I’m talking about 16-18 years old kids, those who are weeded and trained to go tough on national and international tournaments.

    I’m simplifying the issue here, addressing the second part; wordy dashboard reply is a sin. Back to the States: Major league baseball really shaped how we perceive defense. And we select from a pro state of mind. Before 1940, third base was the toughest spot to field, while the double play combo weren’t expected as high as now. High school players nowadays don’t even need to be agile at third base.

    Had the Cubs ever sought sleek-fielding third baseman before they ever saw power? since Ron Santo? I’m talking about going to the extreme: light hitting, but good fielders? Darwin Barney type at 3rd? By the way, the Cubs were a Power House in 1900s and then 1930s by playing great fielders and good pitching, not hitters-first, as we’ve been seeing lately.

    Santo wasn’t a powerful hitter. He was quick (I read), had the eye, selective at plate, walked a ton, and made him more valuable than roping anything over the fence. I’m getting to 2000 words here, but I hope people got the idea:

    Winning it all can come via different boulevards. Barney can play third. Castro may play third. Baez should try third even if he’s batting, obp-s!, 0.306 as we speak. Putting out good fielding third baseman and light hitting infielders at plate is not wrong. In fact, at this New Deadball Era, I assume they need to revive how baseball was played for 40 years before 1940, and how baseball is played at highschool in Japan and Cuba.

    • raymondrobertkoenig

      Ron Santo, 342 HRs and 1331 RBIs. Enough said.

      • Dorasaga

        Yea, I wasn’t clear. I meant to say that Santo was a terrific defensive 3rd baseman. By no means I would say that he’s light hitting (I specified 1940 as the line, of changed philosophy). But upon further clarification: Santo was a power leader b/w 1964-67, leading the league in ISO and OPS, only behind Dick Allen. But I hope you got my point: The Cubs had not produced a regular, good fielding 3rd baseman for a while. They are not buying big bats, it seems to me, then why not make a change of direction? building a winner not completely different, but out of their current box?

        • 07GreyDigger

          It’s a good thought/idea, but that’s the beauty I’ve learned of the stat called WAR. WAR is all about how many runs saved/added based on a player’s performance.

          For example, you can have a weak hitting SS, because the runs they save outweighs the lack of offense they create. The argument at third however is that not as much balls are hit that way, so a weak fielding, but great hitting 3B can be hidden there, because his offense outweighs his defense.

          I think what you’re getting at is totally what the Angels have done at third with Alberto Callapso, a great fielding 3B that is not prototypical for the position. He hits in the 270s, with 10 HRs, 60 RBIs and a few SBs.

          That would be great in practice, but I think you have to have hitters everywhere else to get away with it.

          • Dorasaga

            The argument can go both ways. And war that incorporates Dewan’s (fielding) RunSaved, or wrc+ that weighs more of range factor plus uzr, either might show that a great fielding 3B who’s light hitting may outperform an above average 3B who’s a hole on the field.

            There’s no better position to hide a weakness. No team really “need” 3rd base to be a power spot. Teams may choose the outfield or 2nd base (or the bench) to place a player with obvious power but not much of a glove.

            Second base was, between 1900-the roaring twenties, the power spot of the century. What changed was an artificial adaptation to more need of Babe Ruthian philosophy. And the contrary to that norm is not a distant thought, with Cuban and Japanese baseball executing so at a younger level.

            What I’m suggesting is that the Cubs need a different way to win. When they were successful back in the teens and thirties, they had great in-fielding but less hitting from these dirt-runners. Contrary to public memory of the Chitown collectives, Ron Santo hit his prime with a losing team b/w ’64-’66. It wasn’t until the following year, then, the Cubs improved with better hitting. But they never won the pennant, and the rest was history.

  • willie smith

    the more sveum talks the more i think quade is around.
    if camp can get righties out; then why was he facing a lefty last nite???
    clueless in chicago mr sveum!!
    (but he fits the profile of losing on purpose; which under the ricketts ownership is the goal(and making the family the largest profit in baseball!)

    • DWalker

      I try to like Sveum, but he keeps doing things like last nights bullpen management, then he makes the mistake of opening his mouth and saying something that may be the correct thing in one strict sense, but sounds really stupid in most others.

      • Ray Ray

        He has never done a good job of handling the bullpen. Winning 1 run games have a little something to do with the manager pushing the right buttons late in the game. What is the Cubs record in 1 run games under Sveum? Do the Cubs come back late in games to win a game they are ever down? This is not all on Sveum but you can bunt,hit and run, keep a guy like Campana last year available to pinch run late in a game to score the tying or winning run instead of burning him up by pinch hitting him in the 6th inning.

        • Theboardrider

          The bullpen is definitely his Achilles heel.

        • 07GreyDigger

          The bullpen isn’t necessarily his fault either. Look at his choices, Camp, Marmol, Rondon, Fujikawa have not been good this year and that’s four of his seven. He can’t run Russell and Gregg out there every game, their arms would fall off! Sure, you can blame the choices on the manager, but it’s up to the players to succeed as well.

          • Ray Ray

            Part of putting the relievers in the “right” situation to succeed is on the manager. Sure…the players got to perform but when he has Marmol sit on his hands for 7 straight days instead of keeping him sharp by using him, that is on Sveum. When he put Marmol in the game to face Votto instead of bringing in Russell when both were warming up to have the LH LH matchup…that is on Sveum. He has done a terrible job managing the bullpen and that goes back to last year. His record is undeniable.

          • DWalker

            Now, I may be one of Rip’s blue kool aide drinkers, but I am sorry, it is his fault if he consistantly misuses what he has. He brought russell in and after 1 batter he pulled Russell to immediatly bring Camp in last night, then let Camp hang. At least have Russell pitch a few batters since he is already warmed up and out there, or save him. Though in a tight game with bases loaded, I would think you would want your best reliever instead of your current worst in that situation. He also had a new long reliever waiting to go correct? Fujikawa can at least be effective, and Marmol and Rondon are still better than camp right now. Yes, Rondon had a bad night last night but Sveum gave the game away. If it was one time he’s done it, that woudl be one thing. But again and again, Sveum will bring in a stong pitcher to pitch to a weak pitcher then switch him for a weak pitcher to pitch to a strong hitter. Sveum is putting the bullpen in positions where they are most likely not to succeed. I can usually understand the why of a lot of these moves even if I don’t agree with them, but Sveums bullpen strategy is something I don’t get at all, and the blown saves and late tacked on runs that put the famous cubs 9th inning rally’s just out of reach is the result.

        • paulcatanese

          I happen to agree with you. But in Sveum’s defense, he probably had Marmol as his next choice by design. I think bringing Marmol in with the base’s loaded again would have had a similar result.
          Now if he had Marmol come in instead of Camp it may have had a different result again, but
          who knows, at any rate Camp should have never been left in to load them once more.
          Losing 1 run games seems to be the norm.
          I agree again with saving some speed guy to pinch run, but Sveum didn’t do that last year the second half when he left Campana rot on the bench, no use of him at all.
          I still am waiting to see why Borbon was picked up, very weak with the bat and not great speed, what exactly does he do?
          The Cubs are not all that bad and could have a much better record, but the insistence of playing guys that they hope will become attractive at the trade deadline is just plain mystifying, because it causes stupid loss’s.

          • Dorasaga

            Paul, did you see my vintage idea above? I’m curious what’s your thought on the 3rd baseman to be good fielding, instead of a power spot. I think you lived that age when this recent philosophy wasn’t too stringent yet?

    • Theboardrider

      They aren’t losing on purpose. You undermine yourself with a statement like that. Ricketts is committed to winning, it’s a process.

      • Ray Ray

        He is committed to rebuilding.

        • paulcatanese

          Yes he is. A little here, a little there. The problem I see is that he has so much area to re-build that their is no concentration in any one spot.
          It seems that the area that gets the least attention is the product on the field, but am sure Ricketts is suffering along with the rest of us.
          On top of that rooftop owners, the city, and unhappy fans.
          It’s fairly obvious the empty seats during games, even though paid attendance is the same. But it does say one thing,
          people that have paid for season tickets would rather stay home.
          Sveum making rookie mistakes does not help either. But that’s on Theo, and I don’t think he would let Sveum go, as he has bought into the system or direction they think they need to go.
          Lets just hope it happens sooner rather than later.

          • Ray Ray

            that’s my point Paul. He is committed to rebuild and suffer with the major league team. He is not committed to winning NOW. Will this rebuild work? It could in 3,4,5,6 more years or it could not if the FO does not make the right draft picks or international free agent signings. I am already not crazy about their long term investment in Edwin Jackson. Made no sense. Meanwhile the major league team is a mess and they only have 2 core pieces that you can pencil in for sure in the everyday lineup for the next several years.

          • 07GreyDigger

            With good pitching, you can hide a bad offense. Look at the San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 and don’t have consistent production at 1B, 2B, SS and LF.

          • John G

            Rebuilding and winning now are mutually exclusive. If you are committed to Winning Now, that means you have already rebuilt. IMHO

          • Ray Ray

            I believe you can rebuild and still try and win. Cubs are rebuilding but not putting a quality product on the field.

          • Dorasaga

            I don’t think your distaste of Edwin above is a good example. His career showed he’s as good as Anibal Sanchez, if not better. Something’s wrong with Edwin this season, but who would have known?

            As of rebuild and win, yea, the Cubs if loaded with a farm like the Card or Royals, then yes, they should give it a run this year. But no, last year, the management was still worried about a streamline of pitching prospect not available in the system. And their best position prospects were still in the lower minor. Apparently, they were still a long way to go as far as prospects go.

      • willie smith

        so Jed really tried to put this bullpen together this bad………then what will make Jed good?
        either they are losing on purpose or Jed is a horrid GM. it’s one or the other.
        and we all KNOW Jed can’t figure out a way to contend and rebuild; so they are tanking seasons (till 2016) to get the higher draft picks and more international FA money.
        and then hopefully in 2016 the suspects will be good AND ricketts will stop worrying about his pockets and start worrying about the team’s W-L record.

        • 07GreyDigger

          But how was he to know the bullpen would be this bad? Camp and Russell were coming off good seasons, Marmol had a great second half, Fujikawa had good numbers in Japan and Bowden proved to be a decent pickup as well. The bullpen almost seemed like a strength. Did anyone see it coming that it was going to be THIS BAD?

  • Ray Ray

    Kevin Gausman the #4 player taken in the draft last year out of LSU has been promoted and will be making his major league debut tomorrow. This goes to show you how fast college pitchers can move through the system. Appel could be on that same fast track. It shouldn’t take him more than a year and a half or 2 years in the minors before he is starting in the big leagues.

    • Tony_Hall

      Appel should be ready in 2014, maybe even out of ST. The exemption not the rule.