Five Smokies Named to Post-Season All-Star Team and Other Cubs News and Notes

With the big league season heading into the final month, the focus for the Cubs continues to be on the minor league system. The Cubs have two minor league affiliates that have already punched their ticket into the post-season. The D-Cubs and Smokies just keep on winning and appear to be hitting their stride as the minor league regular season comes to an end.

Daytona posted their tenth straight win on Friday night behind five big flies from Bijan Rademacher (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI), Zeke DeVoss (2-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored), Dustin Geiger (2-for-3 with a home run, two walks and two runs scored), Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) and Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a home run). Meanwhile, Tennessee smoked Chattanooga 12-1 behind an excellent outing from Eduardo Figueroa and a huge night at the plate from Justin Bour (3-for-5 with a home run, a double and six RBI).

Six of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system were named to their league’s post-season All-Star teams on Friday. OF Matt Szczur, RHP Kyle Hendricks, 2B/SS Arismendy Alcantara, SS Javier Baez and 3B Christian Villanueva were named to the Southern League post-season All-Star team. The five Cubs’ prospects represent one-third of the players on this year’s Southern League postseason All-Star team.

Rock Shoulders was named to the Midwest League postseason All-Star team, the only player on the Cougars roster to be named to both the mid-season and post-season All-Star team.

September Call-Ups

The Cubs are expected to add at least two position players to the active roster on Sunday when rosters expand. Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney will be activated from the disabled list according to multiple reports. The Cubs will have to make a change to the 40-man roster to create a spot to activate Ryan Sweeney. Once the Iowa Cubs wrap up their season, J.C. Boscan and Dave Sappelt are expected to finish the year with the big league club.

Rafael Dolis is on his way back from the DL, and like Sweeney, the Cubs will have to create a spot on the 40-man roster before activating him from the 60-day disabled list. It is unclear if Dolis will be healthy enough to pitch for the Cubs again this season after being on the DL with a right forearm strain since May 27.

The Cubs are still hoping Scott Baker will be able to pitch in the majors this year. Baker is making another rehab start for Kane County on Monday.

Dale Sveum said on Friday there will be a lot of player evaluation over the last month of the season.

Arodys Vizcaino

Arodys Vizcaino is going to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, which will be his first action on a mound since he had Tommy John surgery in March of 2012.

The Cubs view Vizcaino as a starter moving forward but according to a report from Patrick Mooney, Vizcaino might be used as reliever next season so the Cubs can control his innings.

Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are “excited” for Vizcaino to get back on the mound. Hoyer explained, “The hardest thing about him at this point is that you do have to be aware he’s missed two seasons. So we do have to bring him back slowly. I think he can start, for sure. Whether that means he starts at some point next year or maybe we control his innings a little bit as a reliever, I’m just excited for him to get back on the mound.”

Arodys Vizcaino does not turn 23 until November 13 and is currently preparing for the upcoming AFL season at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa.

News and Notes

Smokies’ hitting coach, Desi Wilson, discussed the changes in Javier Baez from last year to this season. Baez is slowing the game down and he is no longer afraid to hit behind in the count.

Jeff Passan posted a report on Friday that provided details of some of the language the Cubs include in their contracts. This is a must read. Passan’s research is excellent and well worth the time to learn how contracts are actually worded.

The Cubs have hit 88 home runs at Wrigley Field this season, second in baseball behind the Baltimore Orioles (94) for the most longballs in their home park.

Dale Sveum is trying to contain the frustration around the Cubs according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

Both Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson have allowed at least five earned runs in six starts this season.

Lou Piniella reflected on his days as Cubs’ manager with Paul Sullivan just before he turned 70 years old earlier this week.

And … beating the Cubs is extra special for Ryne Sandberg according to Patrick Mooney. Sandberg rubbed it in a little bit after his team battled back and topped the Cubs on Friday. Sandberg made the comment, “The empty seats is something new to me. Most of my career, from ’84 on, it was a tough ticket and a sellout, so a little odd to see the bleachers that empty.”

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

    Great to hear they still see Vizcaino as a starter, as I had expected. But I don’t mind one bit if he relieves next season. Ease him back, let him get strong next year as we likely won’t have a world series contender anyway, them in 2015 if he has looked good as we hope in 2014, we might just have a bonafide #1 starter.

    I still hope Bosio can get Arietta to be consistent. If he can get his command Arietta and Vizcaino can be a potent 1-2 punch in 2015. Or Arietta may never get command and be a “what-if,” guy. It will be interesting to watch. I’ve enjoed storylines this year, but next year there will be much intrigue beyond wins and losses. Baker, Vizcaino, Arietta, Strop, Hendricks, Baez, Castro, Rizzo, Schierholtz, Alcantra, Olt, Villanueva and Bryant. All will be really fun to follow developmentally next year. Trade deadline will be interesting once again, will Shark go? Schierholtz? You have to assume they’ll stick to the plan and sign another Feldmanesque guy as well that can be flipped.

    Yep, no shortage of intrigue. Probably a shortage of wins but not intrigue.

    I just ordered my traditional ponstripe Cubs front license plate! Gotta represent when they’re down to enjoy the spoils when they get up. For us die-hards there really is no such thing as fair-weather I’ve learned. Frustrated…absolutely. But I where my Cubs love on my sleeve year round every year.

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

    Schierholtz has worn down in this his first year olaying full-time. Interesting to see what he does next year. I could see him as a borderline all-star if he continues to get a little better, which isn’t too much to expect. And if he can better condition himself or a full season he might hit 30 HR. i would have to say that would be his goal. It seems reasonable but certainly not easy, as a goal should be.

    If he does play like I’ve said is possible them he won’t hit #30 in a Cubs uniform I’d expect. But we’d probably have gotten a really good looking prospect or two. Both these possibilities are based on him getying better and havjng better conditioning, but if he does it I don’t think it is too much to expect from him and for him.

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  • Tony_Hall

    I would love to have a crystal ball and know who is going to be at 3B when the dust settles.

    Baez
    Bryant
    Olt
    Vitters
    Villanueva
    Candelario

    Who will be there, who will move to another position or team? Time will tell, but we have lots of options to fill this position and you never know we could see 2-3 playing in the same lineup at Wrigley someday, with the positional flexibility that so many of them show.

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

      Someone was conplaining last week about Lake not playing 3rd base. I think it’s clear why he is not.

    • Brp921

      My guess is Bryant or Baez with Olt as the darkhorse.

  • Tony_Hall

    Dempster for Villaneuva and Hendricks.

    2 months of Dempster and all the circus that was involved with trading Dempster, yet we did receive a very nice return with both those guys. Hopefully they both make it, but I feel pretty good we will see at least one of them have a major league career.

    • mutantbeast

      that trade might turn out to be awfully good, especially if Hendricks becomes a quality ML starter.

    • Brp921

      I’m looking forward to seeing Hendricks, hopefully next year.

  • Tony_Hall

    If you skipped this article that Neil linked above and labeled a must read, here it is again.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/are-mlb-teams-trying-to-make-contracts-more-like-the-nfl-s–132156423.html

    All I can say is clear your mind and take a deep breath, especially if lawyer speak is not your cup of tea. But it sure explains why it takes so long to work on a deal and the language of a contract.

    I, for one, would love to see baseball go to the NFL style of contracts. Bigger signing bonus’s and if you under perform your contract, you can be cut (or you have to accept a lesser contract). These long term deals (4-5 years) are just not good for the game and the career contracts of 8-10+ years are just ridiculous. I also would like to see a player able to be able to get escalators if they perform beyond their contract as well. This would be very complicated, but much better for the game. No team should have to watch a Braun or ARod collect huge checks after what they have done. Same goes for players whose abilities are declining yet their contract is escalating. If both sides had ways out of the contract, you would see deals that are more fair for all involved moving forward.

    • calicub

      So your saying the spelunking trip and wood chopping competition Anthony Rizzo and I planned this trip is off?

      • Tony_Hall

        Sorry man, try bowling that wasn’t listed.

        • calicub

          Oh that’d be as competition Rizzo would lose!

          • Tony_Hall

            Give me 2 weeks with an LH athlete like Rizzo and make sure he has the right equipment and I could make him competitive.

          • Tony_Hall

            Who down arrow this?

            Hilarious.

    • calicub

      I posted something similar to this a few months back.

      If teams structured their contracts on a tier, ie. they offer a league minimum guaranteed contract a 2x league minimum, 5x etc. each with a sliding scale of incentives which would allow the player to make much more when they perform well but cap their earnings in down years.

      I for one don’t like nor eve want anything similar to NFL contracts. Players holding out for more money by not showing up to spring training and teams cutting players in order to go after shinier players

      • calicub

        Just doesn’t sit we’ll with me..

        A contract is a calculated gamble. There was no duress forcing the parties to sign the deal. I say stand by your word and be smart about what you sign. Honor your word and the contract.

        Sorry for the two posts the iPhone is fighting me this morning..

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree, I don’t like the holdouts and don’t believe that should be allowed, but cutting a player who is making too much money would be a great thing for baseball. So many teams have bad contracts on their books and to make players have to keep performing at that level to get paid at that level would be good. Far too many baseball players production drops after signing a big contract.

        • calicub

          Agreed..

  • Tony_Hall

    The link to the article with Desi Wilson talking about Baez is great.

    Here is the part on Baez. He is going to be great!

    “He didn’t shorten it. It’s just real slow right now. Real slow and getting down on time. He’s recognizing pitches, offspeed and breaking pitches and fastballs. He’s selective. He faced this pitcher last time, the lefty [Andrew Chafin], and he had an idea, just from watching video and talking about keeping the same approach against lefties. …

    “I think, more or less, when pitches are in the zone, he’s laying off the sliders and getting his pitch to hit. That’s what we talk about every time in pregame. Talk about the pitcher you’ll face, what you’ll see. He’s a student of the game, and it’s paying off. He looks so comfortable at the plate.

    “Last year, I think everything was speeding up for him. Basically, he was just swinging at everything they threw up to him. Everything was going so fast. He was just trying to do too much. Him going to big league camp, going to Spring Training and the work he’s done, it obviously has paid off because his leg kick is not as high as it was last year. Last year, he wasn’t selective at all. He was swinging early in the count. Now, he’s not afraid to fall behind 0-1, 0-2.”

    Bad news for pitchers….

  • Bryan

    Data question for the group here. I mentor a bright young man who is mid-stage in completing his MBA. He is doing a sport related research project as part of his program requirements. He is seeking to find data on how many tickets (on average per game) go “unsold” per each franchise (I’m sure not many on the Cubs, but that’s the exception). These aren’t tixs sold, but fans not attending, but rather seats that never get sold initially. Additionally he is seeking to find data on the average spend per fan for non-tix items like parking, concessions, souvenirs, and the like. Would anyone have recommendations on where this type of information may be published? I would welcome any ideas. Thank you.

  • cubtex

    Heard some great discussion on mlb radio yesterday afternoon. Hopefully some of you others heard it as well. Bowden and the other host were talking about Joey Votto and how he said he won’t change his approach to hitting regardless of the situation in the game or the score. Bowden is the GM who drafted Votto for the Reds. Both announcers had a huge problem with this. They basically said that you have to do what is BEST for the team. Votto is a proven 100 RBI guy who did that back to back. He has only 61 this year. Bowden was saying that he should go back to “THAT” guy. The guy who swung the bat with RISP and swung early. “That” guy would help the team more and not just worry about OBP, If you have a player who is a lesser hitter hitting behind you…it is a win for the pitcher to have that guy swing the bat rather than Votto. Sounds pretty simple. What good does getting runners on base if nobody can drive them in. Same issues the Cubs have had all year.

    • Tony_Hall

      Same old argument that you keep reposting over and over again. Is he taking pitches that are hittable or not expanding his zone?

      Is he trying to work a walk or being patient and not swinging at pitchers pitches?

      We all know by now that you listen to those guys because you agree with what they talk about. Swing early and often. Try listening to others who talk about not swinging at pitchers pitches and getting into a better hitters count where pitchers have to give you a better pitch to hit and drive. Read the info on Baez that Neil linked about this topic.

      Read an article that helps to explain why people don’t look to RISP as the best stat.

      http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/08/the-risp-problem/

      “Get better baseball players that hit better all of the time, not just with RISP.”

      Actually read this article, it is very good on this topic.

      • cubtex

        It is the conversation of doing what is “BEST” for the team. Even Bowden was saying that “in a perfect world if you have a Miggy Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting behind a Votto” then he can continue to do what he is doing. How many teams will EVER have 2 or 3 Miggy Cabrera’s in the lineup? Sacrifice a little OBP for the good of the team. This is the part that you don’t understand. imo. Who would the team rather have swing the bat???? Your best hitter. Not option #5

        • Tony_Hall

          Not going to get into this SAME argument again. It is over semantics of what we consider what pitches to swing at, whether they are pitchers pitches or driveable pitches. Quoting old school guys to support your argument is like asking a Cardinal fan whose the best team in baseball.

          • cubtex

            Gm’s in baseball and former players don’t know what they are talking about. They only do this for a living.

          • Shawon O’Meter

            Tex that argument holds no water. The Rays do this for a living and they have built their entire franchise around the philosophies you hate. There are clearly divides. I could also point out that Andrew Friedman is considered amongst the best in the business and there is a reason Jim Bowden doesn’t collect a check from a team. There are two sides of this coin. I happen to agree with the approach teams like the Rays and people like Theo support. You agree with an approach teams like the Royals and and people like Bowden support.

          • cubtex

            do the Rays have a good offensive team?

          • CubbyDenCritic

            I think they lead in being shut out.

          • cubtex

            yep. and that will be their achilles heel. they are middle of the pack in most offensive rankings. when you are so desperate to pick up a David DeJesus….that tells you something :)

          • Tony_Hall

            MLB Rankings

            4th OPS
            7th SLG
            4th OBP
            10th AVG
            9th Total Basea
            12th – Runs/Hits/ HR’s

          • Shawon O’Meter

            Do the Royals?

          • cubtex

            Detroit, Boston and St Louis lead all of baseball in runs scored and hits. What place are all 3 of those teams in? It is about scoring runs. You need to get hits to do that.

          • Tony_Hall

            They all look to be at the top of OBP.

            http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/batting/sort/onBasePct/order/true

            1 Detroit 349 (79 Wins)
            2 Boston 346 (80 Wins)
            3. St Louis 332 (78 Wins)
            4. Tampa 331 (75 Wins)

            And no not every high OBP team has the most runs scored and/or the best records. Just like the top 4 avg teams don’t, and the top 4 slg teams don’t and the top 4 ERA teams. don’t….etc.

  • cubtex

    Brian Schlitter has had a good month. They need to bring him up in September and see if he could be part of the bullpen for next year. Only Strop,Russell and maybe Parker should be considerations for next year. I would like to see Rosscup get a shot. His K numbers are ridiculous.

    • Tom U

      Expect the Cubs to be conservative next year, as the already have Fujikawa and Chang-Yong Lim under contract. A dark horse consideration could be Yoanner Negrin.

      • cubtex

        Fujikawa is out next year as well…isn’t he?

        • TheWrongGuy

          Fujikawa will be back right around the trade deadline. IF his recovery time does not change.
          As far as bullpen arms for next season I was hoping the FO looks at another lefty for the pen like maybe Boon Logan of the Yanks. It would be nice to have a lefty who can throw above 92mph as an option out of the pen vice having 88-91 mph guys like J. Russell, B. Raley, C. Lim. No offense to those guys all are good pitchers with good control at times but J. Russell got way over used this season. And Sveum hasn’t went to his bullpen much this second half as he has no confidence in his middle guys. Only Gregg Strop Russell have been used regularly or seems Sveum has any confidence in using. I personally don’t blame Sveum for this, as none of his other options were very effective this year out of the pen, especially earlier this season when Marmol and Fujikawa seemed walk into a wall in the 9th, and other arms failed to show any effectiveness.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    I love to see that same line get repeated over and over….”Cubs hoping to see Scott Baker pitch in the majors this year”
    Odds are better watching Carlos Marmol pitch in the World Series this year.

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

      I don’t think so. I imagine there’s an 80% chance we see Baker this year. And next year for sure, hopefully for us.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        If Baker does pitch, what will be his inning out put per game?…3 or 4 innings?…what is up to date velocity?….it will be like batting practice to the other team…..I love to see Baker get flipped by Theo next July if he resigns, but Baker needs to be healthy and pitch……in all honesty, I think the Cubs will say Baker gets shut down…..signs a minor league deal off season.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Crystal Ball Time…….
    Lets look at the Cubs position by position….who will be here when we win the title….
    First Base…..if Rizzo is not out guy, who will be?…..Vogelbach sounds like a DH…..Candelario is the next choice…..
    Second Base……Barney is not the guy….Alcantara will be…..Watkins will be a good back up……
    Shortstop……Castro or Baez?……I say it will be Torres…..Cubs will have a great “Latin Connection” on double plays….
    Third Base…….Only Ron Santo knows this answer……but I am putting my money on Villanueva.
    Catching……..lets say the guy is not in our system yet….Theo will need to address this area in a hurry in the next draft.
    Outfield………Baez, Soler, Almora & Bryant should be in the mix….
    Pitching……..a few of our top minor league pitchers……a top free agent or two……and the return of what we get for Castro & Samardzija…..
    Manager…….2014 will be a big year for Dale……I like to see how he handles our “Future” players.