Kris Bryant Wins AFL MVP and Cubs Continue to Explore Options

Weekend Update

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up the 2013 season on Saturday with Mesa losing 2-0 to Surprise in the Championship game. But before the contest, Kris Bryant received the Joe Black Award for the Most Valuable Player in the Arizona Fall League. Bryant was impressive during the fall league and created quite the buzz. Bryant edged out Solar Sox teammate, C.J. Cron for the honor.

Kris Bryant hit .364/.457/.727 with eight doubles and one triple. Bryant led the AFL in home runs with six, drove in 17 runs, walked 14 times and finished with a league leading 1.184 OPS in 20 games. Bryant played third and was used as Mesa’s designated hitter.

As for the big league team, it will be a busy final full week before the Thanksgiving holiday for the Cubs’ front office. The Cubs have roster decisions to make, a coaching staff to fill and are expected to continue exploring free agent signings and trades.

Renteria’s Staff

The Cubs are expected to announce Rick Renteria’s coaching staff at some point during the coming week. Chris Bosio reportedly signed a two-year contract to return as pitching coach. Lester Strode will be back as assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach. And Mike Borzello is expected to be part of Renteria’s staff.

As for the other five positions on Renteria’s staff, the front office is believed to be talking to Bill Mueller about the hitting coach job. Gary Jones and Bruce Fields appear to be in the running for the base coach positions and Jose Castro is thought to be in line for a coaching job.

Mariano Duncan could end up as the Cubs’ assistant hitting coach. Duncan received rave reviews for the work he did as Daytona’s hitting instructor last year and Starlin Castro had his second best month of the season when Duncan was with the big league team in September. Alex Cora and Henry Blanco are also thought to be in the mix for a coaching position.

After reports suggested A.J. Hinch could leave the Padres’ front office to be Renteria’s bench coach, those reports were shot down by Comcast SportsNet late last week. It is unclear at this point who the leading candidate or candidates are to be Renteria’s bench coach.

40-Man Roster

Wednesday (Nov. 20) is the deadline for all teams to file their Major and Minor League reserve lists to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs’ 40-man roster currently sits at 37 players.

The Cubs have until Dec. 2 to tender contracts for the 2014 season to arbitration eligible players and could create room on the roster by Wednesday by addressing their arbitration and automatic renewal players.

Daniel Bard, Darwin Barney, Mat Gamel, Donnie Murphy, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz, Pedro Strop, Luis Valbuena and Travis Wood are the 10 players that are arbitration eligible for next season. Donnie Murphy seems to be a non-tender candidate.

The front office has a long list of minor league players they could add to the 40-man roster to protect from the Rule 5 Draft but the most likely additions are IF Arismendy Alcantara, OF Jae-Hoon Ha and possibly LHP Eric Jokisch. Teams may look at RHP Dallas Beeler, LHP Austin Kirk, RHP Matt Loosen and RHP Frank Batista closely before deciding all four of the young pitchers are not ready to be on an active big league roster for an entire season.

Minor League Roster Moves

The Cubs confirmed the signing of OF Aaron Cunningham to a minor league contract and announced they signed free agent infielder Walter Ibarra to a minor league contract.

The 26-year old Ibarra has been in the Yankees’ organization since he signed as an 18-year old in 2006. Walter Ibarra split time at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Yankees’ system a year ago and hit a combined .276/.308/.367/.675 with seven doubles, one triple and three home run in 58 games. At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Ibrarra hit .254/.300/.344 with five doubles and two home runs in 38 games.

Cunningham’s deal includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. It was not announced if Ibarra’s contract includes the same.

There is also an unconfirmed, but reliable, report that the Cubs signed catcher Eli Whiteside to a minor league contract that includes an invite to big league camp.

Jeff Samardzija and Other Cubs Rumors

The Jeff Samardzija rumors should increase in the coming week. The list of teams interested in trading for Samardzija should also increase from the Diamondbacks, Nationals, Blue Jays and Pirates. The front office would like to keep Samardzija in the fold and sign him to a long-term, team friendly contract that would not include a non-trade clause. But Samardzija is willing to go year to year with the Cubs at this point. If the team cannot work out a deal with him they are expected to shop Samardzija at the Winter Meetings.

Nate Schierholtz could also be on the block with Arizona being the only team linked to him by the mainstream media so far this winter. The Pirates were thought to have a lot of interest in trading for him last July and there could still be a fit there.

As for additions to the Cubs’ roster, the front office is looking at the second and third tier free agents such as Nate McLouth to fill a spot in the outfield and both John Buck and Kurt Suzuki as possible backups for Welington Castillo.

Scott Baker is thought to be on the Cubs’ radar as well as Josh Johnson and Phil Hughes. Hughes, the former Yankee, could fit into the Cubs plans past the 2014 season and there appears to be a lot of interest in signing Hughes. Many feel that once he is out of the American League he will reach some of the projections from early in his career.

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  • Dorasaga

    I removed Frank Chance from my “Like” athletes last week, and added Kris Bryant. His brilliant smile and swift motions
    will make him the steve garvey of Chicago Cubs, and we’ll see him from
    2015 to the Year of World Series.

    BTW, Neil, great quote from Ernie for the day. The Great Mr. Cub lights me up everytime.

    • Ripsnorter1

      It wouldn’t be very hard for me to keep Frank Chance and remove, ahem, Mr. Anthony Rizzo.

      • Dorasaga

        I think Tinker has been underrated while Chance rightfully earned his status, where he was placed in history. The same went for Cavarretta as opposed to Santo. I root for all of them. I love them all. But if I must devote my energy and time researching, they would be the underdogs. I don’t need to root for Travis Wood, who’s proven himself and earned my respect. I must root for Rizzo, and expect better things from him. It’s just me.

        • Ripsnorter1

          It’s easy to see, then, that you favorite of all time must have
          been Augie Ojeda.

          • Dorasaga

            Com’on, even you must admit that Tinker, played through the DAMN DEAD BALL ERA, was the top hitting middle infielder, as opposed to Ojeda who retired a few years ago, and had his career through the best offensive era since 1920s.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Of course! : )

            But somebody on this board has to give you a hard time, Dorasaga, or else
            you just won’t feel loved, will you? : )

          • Dorasaga

            As long as you’re happy, I guess?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      I know you mean Garvey’s external persona as a player, and obviously he was a great competitor, but from all I have read he is such a crappy person that I would hate to compare Rizzo to him!

      There are also some hilarious ESPN Classic “Cheap Seats” episodes that make fun of 80’s Garvey tv specials…sooooo good.

      • Dorasaga

        I was comparing Bryant’s TV-friendly face and demeanor (all the time, impressive), but yea, we now call Garvey a fake or some sort. Back then during his play-days, fans bought that. People loved him. He almost got into the Hall of Fame, at first. But things happened. Negative news. Anyway, it’s rare to have young athletes like Bryant looking THAT nice on TV.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          I said Rizzo but you were talking about Bryant…either way, I get your point. The “looks like a ballplayer” thing is very real, and if you want to grow your female fan base, they do notice the good-looking players, and vice-versa, the guys that grab their crotch non-stop (Leon Durham) or have too much chew (Dykstra), etc…

          My mother would probably still get a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye if I said the name “Scott Sanderson” to her…lol.

          • Dorasaga

            Your earlier post was a reply to a post that was talking about Kris Bryant.

    • Roe Skidmore

      And he’s an athlete. Runs like a deer for a big hitter. Very excited a Kris.

  • Ripsnorter1

    “Donnie Murphy seems to be a non-tender candidate.”

    Wow. He’s got the best bat of any arby elgible.
    .255 BA
    .319 OBP
    .530 slug.

    He hit RHP at .254 and LHP at .257. He both with power–.503 and .600 slugging.
    He plays 2B, SS and 3B.
    The Cubs are desperate for power.
    And it looks like he’ll be non-tendered.

    Barney slugged .303 in 2013.
    And heaven forbid that buddy Daniel Bard get non-tendered! He’s a Red Sox buddy.

    • Sonate

      You were probably being “tongue in cheek” on Murphy, but for the price ($1mill) they could do worse. Next year, Murphy projects to an OPS of about 680 in a part-time role. (Hey, what do you expect for “only” $1 mill?) Marlon Byrd projects to an OPS of 740 next year and someone is gonna pay $8mill for that!?!

      • Ripsnorter1

        I was not being tongue in cheek on Murphy.
        He played well enough for another shot, I thought.

        Put Valbuena at 2B–I can’t stand him, but his “bat” (if that’s what
        is in his hands when he’s at the plate) is better than Barney’s wet noodle.

        We need some power in the lineup.

        • Tony_Hall

          Most teams have 6 infielders on their roster.

          Rizzo, Barney, Watkins, Castro, Olt, Valbuena are the 6 I believe will be introduced on Opening Day.

          • coachdon

            Watkins has shown nothing to prove he deserves to be anywhere near a Major League team’s roster. I agree with Rip, Murphy would be a much better option until June when it all is supposed to change.

          • Tony_Hall

            Murphy is a short term asset with no trade value, that will be 31 come Opening Day.

            Watkins has the ability to be a utility guy for a few years.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Olt? Who knows what he can do. He might even be another Vizcaino.
            Watkins? No bat even at AAA.

            I noticed you did not include Vitters……

          • Tony_Hall

            Vitters is a LF now and I would bet against him being the 5th OF at some point next year.

            Olt and Watkins are both because they have no where to play in Iowa.

            Iowa’s infield to start 2014
            2B – Alcanatara
            SS – Baez
            3B – Villanueva

            If Olt and Watkins play back up in Iowa, wouldn’t it make more sense to be a part of the infield in Wrigley? If they fail, at least we know, if they do ok or better is all good.

          • Dorasaga

            Two thumbs up. Streamline your talents who have nothing to prove down the farm, play the season. I’ve LOOONGed Watkins to play full time. Let’s see how Renteria handles him differently from Swammy.

          • Ripsnorter1

            My guess:
            Renteria just sends him to AA and says, “FORGETABOUTIT!”

          • cubtex

            Dorasaga don’t take this the wrong way, but besides being totally incompetent as a manager, I am also glad that Sveum is gone so I don’t have to see you calling him Swammy.

          • Dorasaga

            Hahaha.

          • coachdon

            So you are saying that a couple of guys that aren’t good enough to start at Iowa should be on the major league roster? Hilarious. Watkins couldn’t hit AAA pitching and won’t hit ML pitching. He is a little dude with no value. I agree that he has the ability to be a utility guy for a few years, for a Northwoods team maybe.

          • Tony_Hall

            No not at all, they have already announced that those 3 will start in Iowa. That should tell you they don’t plan on sitting the others on the bench in Iowa.

          • coachdon

            Then drop them back down to AA or cut them.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL, that make ZERO sense.

          • coachdon

            If they(Olt & Watkins) aren’t good enough to play ML ball, and they aren’t as good as the guys at AAA then where do you put them if not AA? Maybe that’s where Olt needs to go to reestablish himself offensively. And AA was the last time Watkins hit and acceptable level.

          • cubtex

            I think Olt needs to start in AAA. He had such a brutal year last year that he needs to have some minor league success first before trying to sink or swim at the major league level.

          • Tony_Hall

            Log jam at 3B!

            Olt, Villanueva, Bryant, Candelario.

          • cubtex

            Trade Villanueva or Candelario.

          • Tom U

            If they are serious about Baez at shortstop, you need to hold on to Villanueva.

          • cubtex

            what do you think Tom? I think they envision Bryant as an outfielder so scratch him off at 3rd. Who do you like better? Villanueva or Candelario? I heard concerns that Candelario won’t hit with enough pop to stick there. Thoughts?

          • Tom U

            Sorry for the delay cubtex, busy securing the compound for the severe weather.

            I don’t think Bryant will move off of third base unless he shows that he can’t play the position. I feel he is a little more reasonable than a certain shortstop in that regard, and will make the adjustment if that is the case.

            Villanueva deserves every accolade he receives for his defense, and could be the best defender Cubs fans have seen in a couple of generations if he ever makes it to Wrigley. I’ve often likened him to Vance Law, but a much better defender with a lot more power.

            I’ve met Candelario personally and he is a very nice, earnest young man. He is a much better athlete than he is given credit for, but he does not have a lot of speed. As a 19 year old, and a switch hitter, Candelario had 11 HR’s and 35 doubles. As he matures, those numbers could increase,

          • cubtex

            thanks for your reply Tom. I have seen the weather reports in the Chicago area. That is the reason I don’t live there anymore. A beautiful sunny and 80 degree day here in Austin. Can’t beat wearing shorts in November!

          • Ripsnorter1

            Villanueva won’t hit enough, either.

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are saying that Villanueva needs to cover the entire left side of the infield.

            Hmmm. I always thought Jake Fox looked nice over at 3B.

            LOL

          • Tony_Hall

            Villaneuva maybe, but I agree with Tom, wait until Baez comes up and plays where.

            No way to Candelario.

          • cubtex

            I think Bryant is an OF at the major league level

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree.

          • cubtex

            why do you say no way about Candelario?

          • Tony_Hall

            I think he will be the guy at 3B in 3-4 years. He has played at every level, as the youngest guy and has done very well.

            A lot of this depends on Baez though. If they put him at 3B, and he sticks there, all of these guys are trade bait or need to find new positions. 3B is a very weak position in MLB, tough to fill with decent glove and power. Cubs are in a good position to cover our 3B, plus be able to trade off the surplus.

          • cubtex

            I guess we shall see. A lot will happen next year. I think it makes the most sense for Baez to move to 2B.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Trade Olt. He’s 25.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            no…I want to see the guy play. If he is good, we can keep or trade. If he sucks, you have Villanueva/Bryant to follow. I think that is the whole point of depth. We can’t assume any of these guys will make it. I want them to continue trading short-term assets and only trading marginal prospects when needed.

            I get it…Thoyer has a plan. But every GM thought their can’t-miss guy was awesome, and all I need to say is: Patterson/Pie/Colvin/Guzman/BJax/Vitters. And even if they make it, they could be short-lived ala Mark Prior.

            So please, keep the depth…we will need it!

          • Roe Skidmore

            Good point Jason. Depth is a key, you never know who may blossom.

          • cubtex

            You can’t just rush a guy who isn’t ready because of a logjam either. That is not in the best interest of the player or organization.

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t believe Olt is being rushed. He first appeared in MLB in 2012. They could always send him to AZ and do extended ST, if they feel it is just getting reps in to get back from his concussion and vision issues.

          • cubtex

            I am still excited about what Olt might be. We might have stole him if he bounces back to what he was a couple of years ago but he needs to have some success at AAA first. He needs to get a little confidence and swagger before trying to play with the big boys

          • Tony_Hall

            Unfortunately, he would need to DH or play 1B to do that. Both are good gloves, but Villanueva is the better defensive player.

            Good problems to have.

          • cubtex

            Check out this quote about Olt from Luis Salazar. All the reports I have seen says that Olt is a very good defensive 3rd baseman.

            “He reminded me of when I saw Evan Longoria in
            Double-A,” Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar said. “He looks just like
            him. He’s a tremendous athlete, he can pick it at third base and he’s
            got good power to right-center field. This kid is a major league third
            baseman.

          • SuzyS

            That’s an impressive quote. It would be really great if he realizes his potential.

          • Tony_Hall

            To say that I agree with him is an understatement and why I feel if he has a good ST, he will be the starting 3B for your Chicago Cubs.

          • cubtex

            The reason I don’t want that is because of his year last year. It is better for the player to be more cautious with them than overzealous. I hate to have him struggle in the majors right away and have to send him back down and have doubts about his future.

          • Tony_Hall

            That’s why Theo and Jed get the big bucks, to make those calls, that anyone can make :)

          • Ripsnorter1

            Anyone could do as well as Team Theo. I am so glad you finally agree. : )

          • Tony_Hall

            So many tough calls, but they must be easy, we all agree on all of them all the time.

          • SuzyS

            I agree with you in principle cubtex…but we are actually reaching a critical mass at 3rd in AAA…with Bryant, Olt and Villanueva all vying for the same potential spot.
            Although many assume Bryant will go to the outfield…he hasn’t played there yet.
            If I’m not mistaken, Villanueva is supposed to be the best defensively there.
            There will be a trade, reverse of the type we’ve been seeing, once it all gets sorted out.
            I would think Villanueva or Olt in a package for either a good catching prospect or pitcher.

          • Roe Skidmore

            Great point. We see guys in minors that do quite well, then take a step back due to an injury, then some think they can’t make the leap. Sometimes they are ready and sometimes they stay too long in the minors…

          • Ripsnorter1

            Are you promoting Villanueva to AAA, or leaving him at AA for the start of
            the 2014 season? He only hit .261 at AA, though slugging was .469.

            Olt: he hit .168 at AAA Iowa. Doesn’t seem that he’s quite ready to take MLB by storm.
            Yes, he had a concussion. But I still need to see some AAA hitting to show he’s ready.
            He’s never hit at the AAA level. I say “No way he is ready for MLB in April, 2014.”

            Bryant: I’d put him at AA.

            Candelario: .256 at Kane County. KANE COUNTY!
            Not ready for the show just yet. Daytona is a promotion for him right now.

          • Tony_Hall

            Ah Rip, not sure you understood.

            Promotions are done in a different office then mine :)

            I wasn’t saying Candelario was ready for the show, actually stated 3-4 years from now.

            Jason McLeod already stated that Villaneuva, Bryant, Alcantara would be the infield at Iowa next year.

            Bryant will be in AA, and I believe skip AAA all together.

            I believe Olt’s ST will decide where he goes. If he looks healthy and productive, he will be in Wrigley playing 3B.

          • Tony_Hall

            Other guys behind them that need to play. Bryant will be at 3B in AA and Tennessee has options there as well. They need to move up and either they are good enough to keep a spot or they are not.

          • Tony_Hall

            Good farm systems have to keep moving guys up. If they put Olt at 3B and Watkins at 2B in Iowa, Alcantara and Villanueva go back to Tennessee, and they need to move up. That required Olt and Watkins to move up and sink or swim.

          • cubtex

            They need a RH bat alternative to play 1st base on the roster next year as well. Vitters can do that. If he hits this spring, I think he has a good chance to stick(OF course depending on what else they add this offseason)

          • Tony_Hall

            I believe Vitters will have a decent major league career as a platoon guy playing corner IF and LF.

          • cubtex

            I think the Jeff Baker comparison that Neil brought up is a very good example of what Vitters could be.

          • SuzyS

            I agree…but Vitters will need consistant abs from management to get himself established….He always seems to start off slow at a level until he gets comfortable.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            consistent abs are tough to get…I should know. Always gaining 20lbs, losing 20lbs…doesn’t matter if I do cardio or paleo diet, I just can’t seem to consistently get abs. :)

          • Eugene Debs

            That seems to be the best case scenario for Vitters. Worst case is Ian Stewart.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Suprise! Surprise! Surprise!

    Boston needs a SS. Mr. Drew decided he’s taking his trade elsewhere.

    Castro to Red Sox is the next move.

    • Tony_Hall

      Xander Bogaerts

  • Ripsnorter1

    Castro’s ZIPS 2014 projection: .274 with only .406 slug.

    • Sonate

      Baseball-Reference similarity scores for Castro at age 23 (he doesn’t even turn 24 for four months!) include Edgar Renteria, Robbie Alomar, Travis Jackson, and Jose Reyes in the top-5. Two of those are already HOF and two others (Renteria and Reyes) have had great careers just short of HOF standards. I think Castro will be “over” the ZIPS projection by about 40 points OPS. (Hope it’s more.)

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Oooh…I like the castro to boston idea! Free up a spot for baez and maybe get a good pitching prospect. Doubt it happens though.

    • cubtex

      what is the rumor?

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        no rumor…Rip said it above…I was in a hurry so didn’t credit him. So that is why I called it an “idea”.

        I still think we had a missed oppty when the dbacks appeared willing to trade Justin upton for Castro. Gawd. Talk about over-valuing your own prospect. We should have made that trade!

        Even if he gets the average back up, I just see Castro as a slap hitter with low OBP as he doesn’t take walks. Not a real SB threat…makes mental errors a lot. A lot of holes in his game. I will take the Baez upgrade please.

        • cubtex

          I disagree on what you think Castro is. I think he is the best piece the Cubs have on the mlb roster.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I am not a huge expert on advanced stats, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they are relevant. I remember the Score discussing the fact that basically Castro had the least “hard hit” balls of, I believe, anyone at his position. When you combine that with a propensity to not take walks, it is like a slower Juan Pierre. A player like that is only useful, imo, if they hit .290 or above…otherwise it is just an endless series of groundouts and missed rbi chances.

            what part do you disagree with specifically though? the mental errors, not being above avg sb threat, the lack of walks??

          • cubtex

            I think he has a very bright future. How many 23 year olds have done what he has? He had over 200 hits in a season. There aren’t many SS in the game that have his potential offensively as well as defensively. Be careful what you wish for. Castro is a hell of a young player.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I personally liked Juan Pierre, as I felt his SB made up for lack of power and walks. But look at his stats and you see 200 hits, or close to, very often. But you don’t normally hear people rave about Pierre. In fact, we couldn’t seem to wait to let him go after 2006 season. Grudzielanek (sp?) was similar…I thought he was solid, but the high avg wasn’t enough. In CF, SS, 2B…if you aren’t going to have power, it seems to be expected you will have an above-avg glove, good speed, take a lot of walks. If you don’t, there seems to be less value.

          • cubtex

            Castro plays SS! Look around baseball at that position. Look at the Cardinals. Do you not think they would take Castro in a heartbeat? SS is the hardest position to fill imo.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Tulowitski, Reyes, Jeter, Rollins, Hanley, Drew, Andrus, etc etc

          • Tony_Hall

            Actually Jeter should go on this list nowadays.

            Jeter, Cozart, Escobar, Miller, Ryan, Kozma.

          • Ripsnorter1

            You watch: he’s dealt this off season, imo.

          • cubtex

            no chance in hell do I believe that Castro had the least amount of hard hit balls at the SS position as anyone in baseball. No chance!

          • Ripsnorter1

            Even if he was, he still hit more hard hit balls than Darwin Barney over the past
            two years combined.

        • Tony_Hall

          Castro is not a slap hitter.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            ok…he is an OPS monster with tremendous power. You win.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL, you are right, he is going to start hitting 40 HR’s every year.

            Hmmm, I think he is somewhere in the middle. Slap hitter, that is funny though.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4579&position=SS#battedball

            50% groundball hitter.

            Maybe you don’t like the word “slap” hitter so use whatever word you like. Point is he doesn’t take walks, has limited power, hits mostly grounders.

            He had an historically bad season last year. Can he rebound? Sure. But for 2 years I have been hearing about how he will increase his power and it hasn’t happened. I don’t even want him to increase his power…I want a higher OBP, better baserunning, and less mental errors. That is what I would like from a SS at a minimum.

          • Tony_Hall

            As Tex said (not sure I have said that too many times before), how many 23 yr old SS have done what he has?

            Take a good look at what Drew gets paid this year and then look at Castro and his contract, and that he is 23 years old, 4 years from his prime.

          • cubtex

            haha. Mr. Hall and myself on the same side defending Castro! Are pigs flying outside your window Tony?

          • Tony_Hall

            No actually bad storms. Crazy weather. 60’s, with strong storms and tornado watches warnings all over, even at Soldier Field for today’s Bear’s game.

            Wait a minute, the Geico commercial with the flying pig just came on!

          • cubtex

            what is wrong with a 50% groundball hitter? You want that. Do you not understand that you have a better chance of getting a hit with a groundball?Remember……he is a SS! How many SS hit over 30 HR’s!

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            only if you hit the groundball hard. Unless you have Ichiro’s speed.

          • cubtex

            not true at all. many ground balls can find holes and get to the outfield.

          • Tony_Hall

            Is he really trying to compare Juan Pierre to Starlin Castro?

          • Sonate

            Fair enough except for one issue. Shawon Dunston, who spent 10 years as somebody’s regular SS had his first full season at age 23. (He was sent back to AAA at age 24 for part of the season). Castro has played four full seasons before age 24. I know, Dunston was no HOF’r and had many of the same issues Castro does now. But he matured enough after age 23 to be on at least two all star squads. Castro has already appeared on two all-star squads.

  • cubtex

    Cubs signed minor league free agent catcher Eli Whiteside? Geez, they are really desperate to add catchers to they system. If you can only hit .187 at Round Rock(a hitters paradise) that says it all.

    • Tony_Hall

      34 year old catcher, sounds like extra bodies for camp and AAA back-up, most likely replacing JC Boscan who is about to turn 34.

      • Ripsnorter1

        JC Boscan is gone, gone, gone.

        • Tony_Hall

          That is why I said most likely replacing Boscan.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    OPEN COMMENT:
    Starlin Castro is perhaps the greatest young SS in the game. At 23, and under contract, his potential is stratospheric at minimum. No criticism or alternative opinion of him should be uttered.

    Also…Ricketts wallet is WIDE open people…my gawd that man is burning cash. Just not at mlb level, but, hey, you can’t fault the guy! So get in line with the company line or have your Old Style permit revoked forever!!

    As you were. I am off to Costco.

    • cubtex

      Jason. Are you 100% sure that Baez can play SS at the major league level better than Casto currently does? Nobody is saying Castro is perfect but he is still 23 and he has a ton of upside. SS is not an easy position to field.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith.
        How would you define them: by their best year, or body of their work?

        Let’s all hope Castro gets back to hitting .300…but what if that is not who he is?

        All I am saying is, if he is no better right now than Ronny Cedeno, why the emotional attachment? If someone wants to trade for the guy and give us a quality pitching prospect (which we need more of) than I am all in on that idea.

        You guys are really crimping my Costco departure. New Topic: Mark Grace would totally beat Mark DeRosa as a bar wingman…discuss!

        • cubtex

          cmon dude. Ronny Cedeno? Look at his 162 game average that I just posted after 4 MLB seasons.

          • Tony_Hall

            Cedeno over 162 games
            246/289/354
            22 2B’s
            4 3B’s
            7 HR’s

            Seems a little short of 52 XBH’s that Castro has averaged so far. Actually is not quite as good as Castro’s bad year he just had.

            Castro 2013
            245/284/347 seems similar

            34 2B’s

            2 3B’s
            10 HR’s

          • cubtex

            Jose Reyes career XBH average is very comparable to Castro’s as well.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I am pretty sure I would rather have Reyes over Castro, whether just for a year, or for a decade.

        • Eugene Debs

          The problem with Mark Grace as a wingman is that he’ll get blitzed drunk and smash your car, fall down your stairs, and sleep on your porch.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Correct: Eugene has won the internets!

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I also forgot to mention that Mrs DeRosa probably has a ton of similarly hot friends, giving Mark DeRosa another edge on double-date scenarios.

    • Tony_Hall

      Costco? are you kidding me, you should be going to…..

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        are you kidding ME? 3 boys and an ex-wife…you can’t find a cheaper/tastier lunch of hot dogs and pizza, and get a year’s supply of gallon ziploc bags all in one fell swoop!

        • Tony_Hall

          Yes, I was kidding you. But I am in the food distribution business, I can tell you, most cheap food is cheap for a reason. Not sure you want to know the reason though.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Costco would never serve me substandard food stuffs.

            And Ricketts’ wallet is wide open.
            And the rooftop owners should have a seat at the table.
            And Old Style is a classic and needs to be kept at Wrigley.

          • Tony_Hall

            Costco, Wal-mart, Sam’s, McDonalds, etc all serve products that if you knew what was actually used to make them so cheap, you wouldn’t eat them, for a week or so.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      “Greatest SS in the Game”…..NO
      “Ricketts Wallet is Wide Open”…..NO, Rich People’s wallets are always tightly close.
      “Off to Costco”……..Me too!…Just don’t cut me off in the free food line Jason!

    • cubtex

      Starlin Castro 162 game average so far in his brief MLB career.

      185 hits 35 2B 7 3B 10 HR and 61 RBI with a .283 Avg and .322 OBP………AND He is still 23!

      As I said….be careful what you wish for. Aren’t many in baseball history who has put up that type of production before they have turned 24!

      • Sonate

        I made a similar reply to Jason above regarding Castro’s accomplishments relative to his age. I didn’t realize you had said similar things two hours earlier. (I guess great minds think alike, but I’m slower than you!)

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          But the Castro averages include his great .300 average year…what if that year was the fluke, and not last year?

          Think: Corey Patterson, Hee Sop Choi, Dwight Smith, Jerome Walton…how many started strong or had a solid year but a mediocre career?

          My concern is he is a .270ish hitter with low-walks, average SB threat, and mental errors at key defensive position. His contract isn’t horrible…and I am ok with keeping him if he can hit his career avg. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be untouchable for trades…that is my whole point: he isn’t so great that we should be close-minded to trades that bring in P or some other area of need.

          • Sonate

            We agree for the most part, but conclude differently. I think Castro has HOF potential, but agree he also has potential to be a weak fielding Leo Cardenas. Me? I don’t want to get rid of a potential HOF candidate. You, I presume, don’t want to keep a potential weak fielding Leo Cardenas! Just a difference in perspective.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            yep…great way to put it. I would also say if the right piece was offered, I think you have to consider it. I don’t think Castro is the worst thing in the world if we have a better lineup around him.

            In 4 years, we will be having our daily “Eloy Watch” anyway…

    • Ripsnorter1

      I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, but didn’t Wrigley revoke that Old Style permit, and now
      it is Budweiser?

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        The Cubs haven’t driven you to drink? That is a strong constitution you have!

        Not sure…but it would make sense that Bud will be pushed heavily due to their expected advertising/banner.

        I would love to see some side kiosks in the concession areas (when they improve them) with some local brews.

        • Ripsnorter1

          I prefer a cold Coca-cola with crushed ice.

          : )

      • Tony_Hall

        Old Style is gone, Budweiser is King.

      • cubtex

        One of the partners for Old Style lives in my neighborhood and their son ran cc at the same high school as my son. I remember he went to renew the contract a couple of years ago but told me that it could be the last renewal they would sign. He was right.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Below is a list of past Arizona League MVP’s courtesy of Carrie Muskat…..

    2013 — Kris Bryant (Cubs), 3B, Mesa Solar Sox
    2012 — Chris McGuiness (Rangers), 1B, Surprise Saguaros
    2011 — Nolan Arenado (Rockies), 3B, Salt River Rafters
    2010 — Dustin Ackley (Mariners), 2B, Peoria Javelinas
    2009 — Grant Desme (Athletics), OF, Phoenix Desert Dogs
    2008 — Tommy Hanson (Braves), RHP, Mesa Solar Sox
    2007 — Sam Fuld (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
    2006 — Chip Cannon (Blue Jays), 1B, Phoenix Desert Dogs
    2005 — Eric Duncan (Yankees), 3B, Grand Canyon Rafters
    2004 — Chris Shelton (Tigers), DH, Grand Canyon Rafters
    2003 — Jason Dubois (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
    2002 — Ken Harvey (Royals), 1B, Scottsdale Scorpions

    What scares me is that past winners never made it big yet in the majors.

    • Tony_Hall

      Do you think it is a curse? Otherwise, one player winning it has no effect on another player. It is a short season Fall league. In no way can it be a bad thing that Bryant won the MVP.

    • triple

      Ok, I’ll play… why don’t you think a little bit about the position players listed and consider their age and experience in pro baseball before lumping a kid who’s 21 years old and has only played 36 games at the pro level, (which he has pretty much dominated by the way) as a future failure.

  • Tony_Hall

    And we wonder why batting averages keep going down.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-most-startling-trend-in-baseball/

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      cue a crusty old-timer to declare that NO ONE threw as hard as Smokey Joe Wood:

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/393747-the-10-hardest-throwing-pitchers-in-mlb-history/page/5

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      they should make a B movie on this guy, due to the Ted Williams reference:

      “Steve Dalkowski was a flash in the pan minor league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, but peers raved that he was the hardest throwers in the big leagues. Dalkowski’s legend grew stronger when Ted Williams claimed he could not even see the ball from Dalkowski.

      Dalkowski struck out 1,396 in 995 minor league innings when he reportedly hit 105 MPH on numerous occasions.”

    • Dorasaga

      Yup. Like I replied you before, Major League batters had put the ball in play better in time. The trend was probably a result of better bat control and knowing the opposition (beat the shift, understanding the scouting report, better scouting in general…), but their batting average had also dropped in time, a result of increased strikeout rate.

      It is not obvious that the way baseball plays had changed a lot between 1950 and 2010. I’ve read that late 1970s and early 1980s had more exciting baseball. My guess was because there was more balance between pitching and batting, so as a consequence, more teams tried new strategies all the time, and built their teams with more dynamic, allowing players of diverse talent to stay on the roster.

      Now, that’s just by reading into the stats. I might want to claim that baseball this decade adopted more dynamic and more interesting baseball, as opposed to the station-to-station, wait-for-longball approach of the last twenty years. Or it’s just me?

  • cubtex

    Here’s another thing to consider when talking about your young core and putting a future roster together. Say they trade Castro and put Baez at SS. Rizzo is kept at 1st and Olt sticks at 3B. Soler is in RF Almora in CF and Bryant in LF. Who is at 2B? Alcantara? and Castillo at C. So let’s look at the team.
    C Castillo

    1st Rizzo
    2nd Alcantara
    SS Baez
    3rd Olt
    LF Bryant

    CF Almora
    RF Soler

    There are a lot of K’s in that lineup. Baez,Soler,Olt. Rizzo only power LH bat. I think a trade will happen with at least one of those prospects. As I have said, I would move Soler out of the 4.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      no Junior Lake love? I am guessing they keep Castro and I could see Baez over at 2B.

      I don’t buy into the need for so many righties vs lefties. Cubs saw good success with Ramirez/Alou/Sosa/Lee…even part-time Nomar…offensive wasn’t an issue.

      Would be nice if they all made it. Mainly because you should have less turnover for a while…that makes it fun when you can cheer for the same guys for a while.

      • cubtex

        The chance that all those players make it is extremely extremely slim. Castro is not a big K guy and he helps balance out the lineup. Castro at SS and Baez to 2B makes the most sense. We shall see.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          what about Junior Lake? Just a guy without a position..a supersub? I thought he showed great promise for half a season, although he cooled off right at the end of the year. He is another righty, but will he stick as a starter, a platoon guy, or does he get moved as a piece in a trade? Also…could you put Lake over at 2B…he used to play IF?

          • Tony_Hall

            Junior Lake is done with the infield. 3B was his last shot. Lake at 2B would make you think Castro is Ozzie Smith.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I know…but Darwin is just that bad at the plate that I consider it an option.

          • Tony_Hall

            True. Alcantara, I believe will be given a shot to be the 2B later this year, assuming he keeps progressing at AAA.

            That is why I would like Watkins to be give a shot to platoon with Barney.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            what about Valbuena at 2B short-term…glove didn’t seem that bad, and at least he gets on base, and gives you a lefty bat.

          • Tony_Hall

            We know what Valbuena is and what he is not. He is a utility guy, and not a starter. Watkins, is most likely a utility guy as well, but if he could have a short successful run, he could be a valuable trade piece. I use to always think about the Cardinals trading guys like Watkins, Barney, etc and wondering what they were doing, but they knew they had a similar replacement player available.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I guess my point is that I would rather resign Dioner Navarro, to play 2B, than suffer through another year of Barney.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Barney included in a trade this off-season. We are still 3 months to ST and I expect a trade or two between now and then.

        • DWalker

          Olt for sure I wouldn’t be penciling in any lineups. Hey, he may have his issues fixed, but right now he’s Brett Jackson til he proves otherwise.

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  • Tony_Hall

    If you think buying your way to a title is the way to go, the free agents of the last 4 years may not agree.

    Peter Gammons ✔ @pgammoFollow
    In the previous four free agent off-seasons, 8 players changed teams for contracts greater than $100M. None have a ring
    6:24 PM – 17 Nov 2013

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