The Calm Before and Other Cubs News and Notes

The first Friday of the New Year is in the books and teams continue to work on their rosters with Spring Training just around the corner. And what ended up being a quiet week should change in the coming days.

The Hall of Fame debate continued and with the announcement only four days away (Jan. 8), Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio appear to be on their way to enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Masahiro Tanaka stayed in the news along with which teams will end up signing the remaining free agents on the market.

As for the Cubs, the front office appears to be focused on Masahiro Tanaka while looking into other free agent options to add a starter to the mix.

Masahiro Tanaka

Speculation continued on Friday on which team would end up signing Masahiro Tanaka. And depending on the source of the report, the favorites to land Tanaka ranged from the Mariners, to the Diamondbacks to the Yankees. With Casey Close still on vacation, it is too early to tell which team should be considered the favorite to sign Tanaka and how much it will cost.

Pete Abraham reported the Red Sox “are not expected to chase Tanaka” despite Boston’s front office being impressed with his talents. And it is “unlikely at this point” the Red Sox “will add or subtract a prominent starting pitching before Spring Training begins” according to Scott Lauber.

The Tanaka Sweepstakes will kick into high gear next week and figures to continue right up until the deadline at 4:00pm CST on Jan. 24.

Mike Olt

The Cubs are looking for Mike Olt to compete for the third base job this spring. Olt did not play ball this winter and was given the winter off to hit the proverbial reset button. Olt spent time at the Cubs’ facility early in the off-season before he went home for the holidays.

Mike Olt is expected back at the Cubs’ facility soon to prepare for the start of Spring Training.

Jonathan Mayo was asked about Olt and he is not sure how he will perform with the Cubs, if he is given enough playing time. Mayo thinks Olt will “show some power, but not hit for a very high average.” Mayo suggested 20-25 home runs and around a .250 batting average.

Mike Olt was considered a top prospect in the game just a year ago. If he was able to hit the reset button on his career as the Cubs are hoping, he could be at third base for the Cubs on Opening Day in Pittsburgh. Olt will be at the top of the Cubs storylines to follow this spring.

Cubs 40-man Roster

When the team announced the one-year contract with Jose Veras on Dec. 27, the veteran reliever took the last open spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. So in order to sign another player to a Major League contract this winter, the front office will have to clear a spot, or two, on their big league roster.

The Cubs have a couple of players they could put on waivers and try to sneak through in order to keep in the system. And of course, a trade or two could also be made to clear space on the roster. Players such as Darwin Barney, Nate Schierholtz, James Russell, and of course, Jeff Samardzija are thought to be available in the right deal.

The recently acquired Brett Marshall could be one option. The Cubs claimed him off waivers from the Yankees prior to the holidays (Dec. 23) and he passed through the American League without being claimed. Marshall has a lot of upside and could be used as a reliever or a starter. Plus Marshall has two minor league options left which would give the Cubs flexibility in the spring.

Alberto Cabrera is another possibility. Cabrera has a big arm and was very good in a starting role for Double-A Tennessee last season. Cabrera went 9-3 in 18 starts for the Smokies with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In 112 2/3 innings, Cabrera struck out 107 batters, walked 39 and surrendered 102 hits. But when he was promoted to Triple-A Iowa he continued to struggle with his command and walked nearly as many batters (12) as he struck out (19) in 15 relief appearances (20 1/3 innings). Cabrera made only seven appearances out of the Cubs’ pen and walked more hitters (5) than he struck out (4) in six innings.

Alberto Cabrera turned 25 in October and is out of minor league options, which does not bode well for his future with the organization. The front office appears to view him as a reliever and he is slotted behind other right-handed options such as Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Blake Parker and Arodys Vizcaino as well as both Justin Grimm and Carlos Villanueva if they are not used as starters next season.

Theo Epstein is on record stating Brooks Raley has been moved from a rotation option to the bullpen and the shift of Raley to the pen gives the Cubs’ four lefty relievers on the 40-man roster. The Cubs could waive Raley and try to keep him in the system but he has shown the ability to retire left handed hitters in the majors and minors. For his career, lefties have hit .194/.293/.306 against him in 14 big league games and left handers hit .244/.294/.369 against Raley last season in Iowa. Raley’s stuff could play better in a relief role, plus he has one minor league option left. And of course, he is a southpaw. If the Cubs are able to move James Russell, Raley would give them another lefty in the pen, along with Wesley Wright, at the beginning of the season and would allow Zac Rosscup to get the development time in Iowa that he needs.

The Cubs’ daily roster shuffle figures to resume once the season begins and they will have at least one roster spot they will be able to use to add a player currently not on the 40-man once Kyuji Fujikawa is placed on the 60-day DL at the end of Spring Training. But for now, with the way the roster is currently constructed, Cabrera, Marshall and Raley figure to be the prime candidates to be removed from the roster if the front office needs to clear a spot.

TV Contracts

Add the Phillies to the list of big league teams with a huge television contract. According to reports, the Phillies signed a 25-year contract that will pay the team $2.5 billion. The Phillies agreement with NBCUniversal and Comcast SportsNet also includes equity stake and “some ad revenue.”

The Cubs currently receive $60 million per season from Comcast SportsNet ($40 million per season) and WGN TV ($20 million per season) to televise their games.

News and Notes

Bill Chuck posted on Peter Gammons’ site (Gammons Daily) the salary relief the Yankees will receive once the Alex Rodriguez suspension is handed down and Jon Heyman reported the announcement could be made as early as Friday, Jan. 10. The Rodriguez decision will reportedly impact their negotiations with Masahiro Tanaka.

Carlos Marmol has discussed a Major League deal with three teams according to a report from Hardball Talk. Marmol was linked to the Brewers and Red Sox during the Winter Meetings and could sign a contract this month according to the report.

And last, but not least, Buster Olney addressed qualifying offers and free agency in his Friday blog. Olney reported, “The cost of a draft pick is a deal-breaker for a lot of team. The big-market teams want and need access to draft picks and draft dollars attached to those picks so they don’t wind up in the predicament that the Phillies and Yankees are currently in – relying on expensive free agents to fill roster holes. A lot of the small-market teams see the draft picks as their lifeblood, the currency they must hae, because they can’t sign expensive free agents.”

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • Dorasaga

    Neil, thanks for the Hall of Fame updates. I really enjoy the vote data. The thinkfactory link fails on my connection, but I’m sure it’ll come back by Jan. 8.

    Winter baseball, despite all its rumor distraction nowadays and the overworking youngsters across the seas, it’s really about the joy of seeing greatness acknowledged. This is really the time to celebrate true legacies of baseball. I wonder what it’s like for most people when I was a kid, in the 90s.

    Did baseball fans follow the news on the Hall of Fame votes? I can’t help but be curious if we are the luckiest generation, witnessing greatness and remembering them via the Internet, while guessing if Maddux will don himself in Cubbie Blue or the Georgian colors? Will this be the last year we debate about Jack Morris and what reporters saw in him, or we yet need to see the best debate about the postseason sensation?

    I’m not going to talk more about Phil Cavarretta, because I know the Hall is not his home. His honor belongs to the Cubs and its fans, not all baseball’s. For those who grew up in impoverished islands or the middle of the Heartland, there is a dream to play on the best field in this world.

    Once the few fortunate-s got here, the dream doesn’t stop. The next stop is the Hall.

  • triple

    Tanaka: 1315 IP (188/year)
    Darvish: 1268 IP (181/year)
    Maddux: 1402 2/3 IP (200 1/3/yr)
    Kershaw: 1363 1/3 IP (194 1/3/yr)

    These are all during the players 18-24 age seasons, with the exception of Clayton Kershaw (ages 19-25).

    Numbers don’t lie…who pitched more innings between those pitchers?

    Cubtex, I guess by your logic, Kershaw would be a terrible signing for the Cubs if he were available. Now I totally understand why Larry Himes took his chances with Jose Guzman, Randy Myers, and Dan Plesac instead of giving Maddux that $25mil/5yr contract. He probably looked at his IP totals and said, “He’s only got 3 years left.”

    And it doesn’t look like Tanaka has had to work too hard pitching in Japan with his 1.44 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 7.6 K/BB ratio over his past 3 seasons.

    • GaryLeeT

      Great work on those numbers, but I am sure Ray will talk about pitches per game as his main reason for being wary.

    • cubtex

      Triple. My concern with Tanaka has more to do with the culture he has grown up in and his mechanics. It’s not just averaging out innings pitched. It is about throwing 700 plus pitches over 5 days at age 16. It is about throwing 160 pitches for one game and then going to the bullpen the next day and throwing another 100 plus(that doesn’t happen here) It is about many Japanese pitchers like Dice K and yes Tanaka does this as well(where they have this slight hesitation at the peak of their windup coming almost to a stop and then having to drive again where the entire stress of the delivery goes right to the arm.
      He is not a normal 25 year old. He has a ton of wear on his arm. He has HUGE injury concerns. Look back at the link I posted with his mechanics. To give this guy a 7 year 140 mil contract(that is what is being reported) for where the Cubs are at….doesn’t make sense. This is for a team looking to win a WS now and the next year or 2. This is the same thing as signing Ellsbury to a 7 year deal. You will probably get 4 or 5 years production and plan on eating the last couple. If you win a WS…that is worth the price.

      • triple

        Well let’s hope the Yankees get him and we’ll see how they do with him.

  • Sanibelchuck

    In Texas they remember the Alamo. In Chicago we remember Soriano. We do NOT need to pursue Tanaka with a Soriana contract. I hope Theo learned something when he was at Boston by signing a Japanese pitcher.

    • SuzyS

      Sanibel Chuck…Do you have room to house half the Cub Nation down there? With a projected -10 below temp for Monday in Chicago…I’m thinking it’s time for a change in venue. I hate the cold.
      Regarding Tanaka, I’m officially on the fence about the whole thing. We need TOR pitching
      badly…but you, cubtex and others are correct about the risks that come along with such mind-boggling contracts.

  • SuzyS

    Cubtex, I apologize for my post yesterday to you. I singled you out when I was in a bad mood…and I’m not very proud of it. Again, apologies.

    • cubtex

      Thank you for that Suzy. No worries. I enjoy our discussions.

  • cubtex

    I understand the logjam at 3rd base in the minors but I think it is foolish to have Olt start the year with the Cubs. To play Devil’s advocate. What if he has a good spring(very possible) and they hand him 3rd base. He struggles mightily in April(also very possible) Villanueva is at 3rd in Iowa and Bryant in AA. Olt will have to sink or swim immediately. If he sinks, he will be relegated to a platoon player. He will probably go to Iowa and DH, play the OF and see if he can get his stroke back. I hope he hits right away because I don’t think it is fair to Olt to do that to him. This could be another Gary Scott. Remember Gary Scott? The next Ron Santo. Had a great spring training in 1991. They handed him the 3rd base job without ever playing AAA. 2 years later he was never heard from again. Let Olt have some success in AAA first and then bring him up.

    • J Daniel

      Nice post, Tex. They are not going anywhere this year so I agree with you, take your time.

    • SuzyS

      Actually cubtex, I agree with this thinking on any of our prospects…they are too important to the future of the franchise to be really rushed.
      On the other hand, If Olt does come into ST raking…it will be really difficult for the Cubs to hold him back.
      Hoyer is on record, according to another site, saying that Bryant is the type of player that could skip AAA altogether before hitting the mlb.
      That could be setting up the scenario you’re talking about….with Villanueva being the odd man out and getting screwed a bit.
      I actually envision Bryant in the OF…(Cubs keeping him at 3rd as long as possible in the minors to maintain his value).
      If Olt is doing well, I see him on the parent club sometime in June.

      • coachdon

        I really wish the Cubs would give Vitters the first shot at third. Olt has never had any success at AAA and in fact really struggled there. It could have been the eyes or it could have been a jump in competition. Vitters, on the other hand, had a great year in 2012 hitting over .300 with 17 homers in less than a full season before being brought up to the Cubs. Of course, Sveum treated him like a red headed stepchild and played him sporadically at best. And he struggled in his big league time. But what is the harm of giving him a chance to play regularly to see if he can play at this level before writing him off. I think he’s earned the shot. Plus, he would give you a right handed backup for Rizzo on the roster.

        • cubtex

          Agreed on Vitters. I think it is too soon to write him off without giving him a shot to play at the major league level.

          • BosephHeyden

            And by shot, that means not calling him up and having him ride the bench five out of every six games. Again.

          • cubtex

            Sveum was ridiculous. Good thing he is gone

        • Ripsnorter1

          Coachdon,
          I always enjoy your posts. And I certainly agree about Vitters. Since 2014 is already a lost season, why not let Brett Jackson play as well? He can catch the ball. If he makes some contact, he can hit it out.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Vitters has been moved to the outfield last I read

        • Tony_Hall

          Vitters is no longer considered a 3B. He is a LF now.

    • John_CC

      It is a good post and can agree with your premise. But didn’t Olt already spend time in AAA? And weren’t the Rangers satisfied enough with his play to bring him up? Yes, his struggles are well documented, but if he has great spring whose to say it won’t translate?

      I am hopeful in general with the crop of 3Bmen in the system though. Out of Olt, Bryant, Villaneuva, Candelario, and maybe Baez there are finally some promising options. With Olt, Baez and Bryant all pushing for PT in 2014 I like the competition and promise.

      • cubtex

        Mike Olt in AAA last year.

        Round Rock 65 games .213 avg
        Iowa 39 games .168 avg

        Spring Training shouldn’t even matter. How many young players have had great spring training stats due to seeing mainly fastballs early in the spring and get inflated numbers? Tyler Colvin was Mr. Spring Training. Jake Fox. Even Jolly Joe Mather. Spring training stats don’t normally translate what happens once the season starts.

        Let Olt have some success in AAA. See what you have with him first. Look how he finished at Iowa last year. Let him get some confidence and then give him a shot. If he fails then….at least he had a fair shot.

        • GaryLeeT

          Jed needs to know sooner rather than later if he’s their 3rd baseman of the future. Time is not on Olt’s side, because the other kids, they are a comin.

    • Tony_Hall

      And where would you play Olt in Iowa? Villanueva is at 3rd. Do you move him to 1st? If Olt wins the job in ST, he wins the job. As you said others are coming and coming fast, so if he doesn’t win the job in ST, he may have a chance to win the job with the Cubs again. I don’t view him as who they want long term at 3B, as Bryant, Villanueva, Candelario are look to be better all around players. Olt provides power and D.

      And in the what if game, what if he wins the job and hits 25-30 HR’s this year hitting his sub 250 average with a decent enough OBP and plays good defense. And if he does struggle, it won’t ruin him, he won’t be a platoon player forever. Players come up all the time and struggle and get sent back, only to become starters in the majors the next time they come up.

      Either way, if he wins the job (his competition is Valbuena and Murphy) we should see what he can do against major league pitchers. He is not a young 22 year old, he is 25 years old. Vitters who everyone wants to be given a shot already is 24.

      • cubtex

        How many teams would even consider having a guy who struggled as bad as Olt a starting job to begin the season in majors? All you are looking at is who is behind him. He was once a top prospect. Let him have some success at AAA before even consider starting him with Cubs. How realistic is it for him to succeed immediately in the show after last years struggles? It isn’t.

        • Tony_Hall

          I would say that depends on the teams situation and who they have instead of that player? I don’t believe they will just hand him the job, but if he looks to have his concussion/vision problems behind him, and player like his 2012 minor league numbers show he can do, he will be the 3B.

          • cubtex

            Spring training is not indicative of how he will perform.

          • Tony_Hall

            Is he better than Valbuena should be the deciding factor on this decision? He is 25, not 21.

          • Bredstik

            No, but all teams have healthy competition in spring training to determine who wins spots on the 25 man roster. This is not a new concept.

          • cubtex

            Of course. Competition is great for players who should have a chance to be on the big league team. How many teams would give a player a shot to make the team after a year like Olt had in the minors?

          • Bredstik

            I think quite a few would when they have a wide open position. Plus, they’re just giving him the opportunity to win the job, they’re not planning on handing it to him or penciling him in.

            I’d be totally fine with Vitters getting that chance for the same reason. It sounds like they may prefer him in the OF now, but let’s see how things play out in spring training. If he rakes and none of the others step up I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Vitters gets another shot at 3B.

          • cubtex

            As Coach Don said. Vitters had success in AAA. Olt has not.

          • Tony_Hall

            Here is one that I would have no problem handing him the 5th OF spot, let him start against LH’s and if he struggles (like he does to start every level) you can send him to Iowa for a few weeks to play everyday, DHing of course.

          • cubtex

            You think quite a few teams would give a guy a shot to win a job who hit .168 in AAA after the team traded for him? Really?

          • Tony_Hall

            39 games and he still wasn’t fully recovered, regardless of he (and/or the Cubs) thought he was.

            Move on from this small sample size as an end all.

          • Bredstik

            Definitely. He probably wouldn’t have even played AAA at all last season if he hadn’t gotten hurt. The reason the Cubs told Olt to NOT play in the fall league was to take a break from a lost season and start with a clean slate in 2014.

          • cubtex

            If you think that definitely happens. Can you think of anyone or any names where a team did this?

          • Tony_Hall

            Ray do you really believe that anyone wants to look up every successful major league player to see if they can find one that is similar. Most people would only know this off the top of their head if it happened in recent history with their team.

            Do you really think this has NEVER happened? I have a really hard time believing that.

            If you want to spend the time reviewing all the players that were in this same position and showing us what they did in the year after their injury I would review your list if it included all players who fit the criteria. I think I would rather watch football now though.

          • cubtex

            I guess Corey Patterson could be an example. He hit .258 in AAA in 2001 and was the starter in 2002. He had almost 200 PA in the majors though before that happened. He hit ..253 with a .284 OBP that year.

          • Tony_Hall

            Go watch football or go outside I am sure it is perfect out. They just cancelled school for Monday and very likely Tuesday will be cancelled as well.

            Not the same situation with Corey, he wasn’t injured in between the cup of coffee and being the starter 2 years later.

          • cubtex

            Already went out for a long run with my daughter. Watching football now.

          • cubtex

            Can you believe Patterson is still only 34. Talk about a waste. They rushed him. He was the #2 prospect in all of baseball. This is another example of giving him another full year in the minors.

          • Tony_Hall

            He was 21, not 25.

          • cubtex

            I was asking Bredstik because he said that definitely other teams would. Give me an example similar to Olt’s case.

          • Bredstik

            I said that I definitely thought that other teams would give Olt a shot, not that that other teams definitely would.

            Olt’s case is unique in that he originally skipped AAA and only ended up playing there last season because of the injury. Not sure how many comparable situations there have been to that, but IMO I would think most teams would still give him a chance to win the job if they have an opening.

          • cubtex

            One more question for you and Tony. Tampa Bay needs a shortstop. Hak Ju Lee was out last year because of an injury. He is 23. He was having a really good start in AAA before the injury. Do you think that TB would give Lee a shot to start at SS if he has a good spring?

          • cubtex

            From the Rays. He has no shot to start.

            But Lee needs to prove his bat can maintain its worth against tougher
            competition. At 23 years old, he still does have time to put everything
            together, but his bat needs to prove itself next year as he goes back to
            Triple-A.

          • Tony_Hall

            It is possible, as defense is his best asset and they could bat him 9th and just deal with his bat not being ready. He has shown he is a one level per year guy. He wasn’t called up from AA for a cup of coffee in 2012 and is still only 23. If I was Tampa, I would sign a stopgap guy and let Lee spend the first few months in the minors and then evaluate. If he was called up in 2012 in September and was already on the 40 man, I would say go for it. But he wasn’t because he wasn’t that far along. All players are different.

          • cubtex

            this is my point. he has no chance to start at SS no matter how he looks in spring training. just like Olt should be looked at.

          • Tony_Hall

            He is 2 years younger.

            He didn’t get called up in 2012.

            He has shown be a guy who is one level at a time.

            He had a knee injury.

            Not the same thing.

          • cubtex

            Tim Beckham is out with a knee injury now. I would think that a knee injury is easier to see if he is healthy than vision problems but they won’t even consider having him start. He was in AAA to start last year. It is very similar to Olt. A need to fill a position. A top prospect in the minors who was injured. A shot to win the job in spring training Cubs willing to do with Olt but Tampa not with Lee

          • Tony_Hall

            Not similar at all. Beckham wasn’t the starter or expected to be the starter. They have Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist to play SS.

          • cubtex

            and we have Valbuena/Murphy/Tat Man to play 3rd. lol.

          • Tony_Hall

            You just proved MY point as to why the Cubs will give Olt a chance to win the job in ST and the Rays won’t give Lee. LOL!

          • cubtex

            I know the reason. At least Lee had success before his injury. Olt was terrible. If Olt was hitting at all last year in Iowa I would have no problem….but he got worse.

          • Tony_Hall

            Imagine if Lee would have not needed surgery right away and tried to play through it and put up terrible numbers, then had surgery after his season ended and was fully recovered for 2014. And then imagine that at the end of 2012 that they had called him up to the majors after the AA season.

            Olt and Lee are in different situations.

          • BigJonLilJon

            1 negative son of a bitch

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Please refrain from name calling and using language of this nature on this site. It is not allowed. Thank you.

          • Bredstik

            Agreed. Plus Lee didn’t end his season playing AAA, he started it there and hasn’t played since April. He’s going to need some time to recover from him knee surgery, and AAA is the right place to do that. He probably would have been given a shot this year if he hadn’t gotten hurt I’d think.

            Tampa also has Escobar at SS so there’s really no need to rush Lee.

          • paulcatanese

            While you make a good point, I have never been in the signing of Olt. Again he is another player with a pre-existing condition or injury. I guess if enough of those types are brought in, maybe one will produce, I doubt it.

          • Tony_Hall

            This was a concussion with vision problems, not Tommy John and he was a highly ranked prospect.

          • cubtex

            more reason to be patient with him and let him succeed in AAA first.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL, you will be the first one railing against Olt after a 3 strikeout game, as he should have spent more time in AAA.

            He is 25. He has 1469 PA’s in the minors, after a college career. If he needs more time in AAA, that is one thing, but if he shows the Cubs decision makers that he doesn’t, and is ready and is a better option than Valbuena, then he should be on the team.

            Plus, it will give you something to complain.

          • cubtex

            You are so predictable with your posts. lol. you need some new material for 2014.
            I am not into rushing a kid and ruining his career when they are obviously not ready. Give me some examples of players who hit .200 in AAA and then started the season in the majors who had success? Good luck finding anyone. Would you give Olt a 10% chance? I believe it is even lower.

          • SuzyS

            cubtex and Tony, The whole conversation begs the question…why did the Cubs trade for Olt? What is really the plan, when they have Villanueva, Bryant, and even Vitters with Candelario in the offing? While most will say CJ Wilson was the prize…I still don’t believe Olt was just a throw in.
            The braintrust must have something in mind on what they want to do with this logjam.
            Cubtex, there are extenuating circumstances as to why Olt had such a bad performance in AAA….Consideration has to be given to that as well.

          • cubtex

            I agree Suzy. Olt was a former top prospect who struggle because of a concussion that brought along vision problems. He thought he had turned the corner at the end of the season but still hit .168 for Iowa. Who is to say that Villanueva is better and should be handed the AAA job. Villanueva was behind Olt with Texas. Give him a chance to regain his top prospect billing. If he is terrible again in AAA, then you cut your ties with him. If he gets his stroke back then you could have your 3rd baseman of the future or a top trade chip. To throw a former top prospect to the wolves after what he did last year will be a huge mistake.

          • Tony_Hall

            Then send Villanueva back to AA and Bryant in Daytona? Not gonna happen.

          • cubtex

            who is saying to do that? Mix and match Villanueva and Olt at 3rd base. You can give Olt some time at 1B and the OF as well. But if Olt hits immediately…make sure he gets plenty of reps at 3rd so he is ready defensively when he shows the team he is ready for the show. Olt showed in the past that he has more upside than Villanueva.

          • Tony_Hall

            Mix and match, LOL! They both need to play everyday. If the Cubs had come up with the mix and match plan, you would scream how stupid it is and how it will ruin these guys, and that they should be playing everyday.

          • cubtex

            you surprise me more and more each day. You really do not have a clue. You play Olt 3 days a week at 3rd and Villanueva 4 days. Olt can play 1st and OF when he is not playing 3rd and Villanueva can DH as well. THEY BOTH will be playing everyday.

          • Tony_Hall

            Villanueva can play 2B as well, so maybe Alcantara can get some valuable experience DHing as well.

            They need time on defense every day, not just hitting.

            Also, that line was totally uncalled for.

            Have a good day.

          • cubtex

            you are right. I apologize. Getting frustrated because you are not getting what I am saying. I was not saying not to play both. Play at other positions. Have a good day as well. Heard it is pretty cold over there.

          • Tony_Hall

            NP, I was getting what you are saying, it is just not going to happen that way.

            Wind chills in the morning at -38.

            I wasn’t highlighting the 38, it will be negative 38 wind chill in the morning.

            I was in St. Louis the last 2 days, and we left after the tournament at around 5 to get in front of 10-12 inches of snow hitting St. Louis overnight and this morning, only to drive through a snowstorm going 40/45 all the way.

            Austin is looking better everyday!

          • cubtex

            Olt has played 3rd,DH,1st Base and RF in the minors.
            Villanueva has mainly played 3rd and DH. Villanueva hit .261 in AA last year. Lets hand him the job at Iowa and not put anyone one else out there.

          • Tony_Hall

            Olt has 3 games at the position of DH in his minor league career.

            Villanueva has had 7 games at the position of DH in his minor league career.

            It is usually used for these type of guys when coming back from an injury. Not a weekly thing. It is not a solution for finding playing time, as they are really not playing.

            Villaneuva HAS been announced as the 3B for Iowa.

          • cubtex

            you can get both playing time everyday.

          • SuzyS

            Villanueva is considered to have far superior defensive skills at 3rd. If he can hit at all in the majors, there is room for that on your team…espewcially if you have power and OBP capabilities coming from other positions.
            I don’t advocate handing anyone anything…but give them a fair shot.

          • cubtex

            .261 avg .317 OBP with 117 K’s and only 34 walks in 542 PA. That is what Villanueva did in AA last year.

          • SuzyS

            So let’s see if he can handle AAA and do better.

          • cubtex

            OK. lets say Olt struggles in spring training. What then? He goes to AAA right? Same thing I am saying but regardless of what happens in ST. They can play both everyday and see who performs better

          • Tony_Hall

            He also hit 41 DOUBLES.

            Here is a report on him .

            “The Cubs have quite a few 3B candidate but Villanueva currently projects as the best defender. Villanueva stepped it up on offense, specifically in the power department this year when he hit a career high 19 HRs which tied him for 5th in the league and 2nd behind Javier Baez on the team. He also led the league with 41 doubles, outpacing teammate Arismendy Alcantara by 5 in that department. It adds up to a .208 ISO and a .469 slugging percentage. Where Villanueva needs work is his approach at the plate. He walked 6.3% of the time while striking out in 21.6% of his PAs. Considering Villanueva hit just .261, the low walk total resulted in just a .317 OBP. He fits the Cubs profile in terms of defense and adding some slugging from the hot corner, but he’ll have to work on his plate discipline. Villanueva’s fate is directly tied to that of Bryant, Baez, Olt, and perhaps the player behind him on this list.”

          • cubtex

            I would put Villanueva #4 on that list. I still think Olt has more upside and power and profiles more as an everyday 3rd baseman.

          • Tony_Hall

            It should be predictable as I have explained this to you many times before. Maybe this time you will understand my position on Olt for 2014.

            – He is not being handed the job.

            – He will be given an opportunity to win the job in ST.

            – He was a highly ranked prospect who had a cup of coffee in 2012, then had an injury which led to a lost season in 2013 in which the numbers are bad.

            – He is 25 years old with plenty of positional depth behind him.
            – He very well could end up as a RH bench/platoon guy playing 3B/1B and Corner OF’er.

            – His opportunity is 2014 to be the regular 3B, as I don’t think he will have a chance to be the long term 3B, if he doesn’t grab it this season.

            To think that there has never been a player in the history of MLB, that was a highly rated prospect, who had a cup of coffee in one season, then lost a season to injury, then still made the major league team the following year and had a successful career, is ridiculous.

          • cubtex

            Was he successful in 2012 in his short stint with the Rangers?
            Did he have a good year last year? Did you come up with any players who failed as much as Olt in the minors who was successful immediately in the majors? Olt didn’t lose a season. He sucked last year. He got eye drops and thought he was healthy and still failed. He thought he was 100% healthy and still couldn’t produce. That is the main thing to consider.

          • Tony_Hall

            So if a player puts up bad numbers in 16 games and 33 AB’s in a cup of coffee, that means something?

            2013 was a year lost due to injury.

            I am not about to spend time looking up successful players to see if they match Olt’s criteria. Those guys success or failure have nothing to do with Olt and whether or not he is going to be a major league ballplayer if he is recovered from the concussion/vision issues.

            Exactly! You finally have figured it out, if he is healthy and the injury issues are gone, he is still a top prospect. And very well can skip AAA.

          • cubtex

            putting words in my mouth again huh??? You won’t be able to find any players because it doesn’t happen.

          • Tony_Hall

            Sorry, I don’t see where I put words in your mouth.

          • cubtex

            Players who skip AAA crush AA and are currently having success upon promotion. Do you want a player like Bryant brought up to the majors if he hit .200 in AA this year?

          • Tony_Hall

            Bryant struggling in AA would not lead to a promotion. EVER! A player who succeeded in AA and lost a season to injury at AAA, can be in the majors the next year, if they show they are recovered in ST and show they are ready.

            Can you even admit that it is possible? I will admit that players have failed in the past and that Olt could fail.

          • cubtex
          • SuzyS

            Thanks for the link…but most should be already familiar with this story…far beyond last June.
            If Olt is raking at ST…say a .350 average with cut down on SO…you’re saying it doesn’t really matter and start him in Iowa?

          • cubtex

            that’s exactly what I am saying. Look at his numbers last year after that link I posted. Mentally and physically he thought he cleared a hurdle but was absolutely brutal. How many fly by night players can have a good spring? Arizona is dry and many pitchers are working on mechanics and throwing fastball after fastball. Lets see what the Cubs have with Olt.
            Let’s put it this way. If Olt hits .350 in spring training and he the Cubs hand him the 3rd base job…..How confident are you that he succeeds? The jump from AAA to the majors is HUGE. It is not a small jump.

          • Tony_Hall

            Players skip AAA all the time.

          • SuzyS

            Cubtex, I agree that the jump from AAA to the MLB is huge.
            However, according to this scouting report (last February, before the vision problems), Olt has advanced pitch recognition skills and plate discipline.
            If he does happen to rake in ST…I would consider that to be an indication that his vision/concussion problems are behind him…and he should be given the opportunity to win the job. If he needs more seasoning, he could always be sent back down.
            Other than that, …Yup…he could be sent to AAA for a little more seasoning with a June call-up in mind IF he produces.

            http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130201&content_id=41322920&c_id=tex

          • cubtex

            My opinion is if they start him in the majors and he struggles. That will be the end of Mike Olt. Gary Scott 2.0

          • paulcatanese

            Still, it’s an injury, and a serious one to come back from, and that was the point. Wasn’t there a player with Boston that suffered the same type and really didn’t come back? I would have thought that would have been a red flag for sure.
            I admit, it takes a lot of guts for Olt to hang in, and for that I would like him to succeed, just not with the Cubs, they have enough guys trying to come back.

          • SuzyS

            Tony Conigliaro. But Paul, he was beaned in the face , broken cheekbone, eye socket etc.
            One of the ugliest injuries I ever saw…and the guy was on his way to stardom.

            http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Tony+Conigliaro&id=A6D74E2317487D8DA80ADC7A3C34DC75679F1446&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=A6D74E2317487D8DA80ADC7A3C34DC75679F1446&selectedIndex=0

          • SuzyS

            Paul, Here’s the actual story of what happened to Tony C. through the eyes of Rico Petrocelli. Tony was an icon in Boston for many years. Ted Williams considered him to be a sure -fire HOF back in the day.

            http://www.bostonspastime.com/tonycbeaning.html

          • paulcatanese

            I knew that Suzy, just did not want to come off as a know it all.
            Similar injury to the Cub ex-center fielder. Point I was trying to make was vision and dizziness for Olt, not a good thing.

          • BigJonLilJon

            He was essentially a throw in… give it time and see

  • jtrain23

    I will say that if Olt played 3rd base next year with 25 taters and a .250 average I would be ecstatic. I hope Mayo is right on this one.

    • Eugene Debs

      Seeing how that would be better production than we saw from Rizzo last year and he’s considered a “cornerstone” and all, yes I will gladly take .250 with 25 bombs.

      Heck, that would make Olt the 2nd best performing Cubs 3rd baseman since Ron Santo!

      • Ripsnorter1

        Aram? Or Bill Madlock? Both could play a little….

        I have absolutely zero confidence that Olt can hit .250 in MLB in 2014, and 25 bombs? That is a huge number. I don’t see it.

  • Tom U

    By the way, today is Kris Bryant’s 22nd Birthday.

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  • Sahm

    idk if its been talked about but if i was tanaka i would have hired an agent that wasnt gonna take a vacation the first week after i was posted. i know its the holiday season and maybe most of the mlb brass are on vacation too but with everything going on around tanaka you woulda thought his agent would be hard at it.

    • paulcatanese

      The longer Close is on vacation, the higher the price goes, he’s no fool, I believe that was on purpose.

    • GaryLeeT

      I doubt he threw his phone in the ocean while on vacation.

  • Eugene Debs

    Olt’s .170 average at Iowa should be caution sign #1. Seriously, he needs AAA or even AA time badly.

    We’re not talking a broken foot or something….this is a head injury. “Reset buttons” and all notwithstanding, he is going to have to prove he’s ready to even play in AAA.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Eugene,
      That was .168 in the PCL–and its a league of inflated offensive numbers.

  • Tom U
  • SuzyS

    Ok, enough about Olt…next subject…What do people think about the prospects of Logan Watkins making the team out of ST? Especially since his handling was one of the reasons the braintrust said they let Sveum go.

    • Tony_Hall

      I think he makes a good utility guy, and can get a few starts a week at 2B. The problem is if Olt (sorry) is the 3B, then Valbuena is utility guy, unless they trade him.

      • cubtex

        Let Valbuena go. Why is he even on the 40 man roster?

        • Tony_Hall

          I know you put no value in these numbers but a 13.6% BB rate and a 160 ISO is good and makes him a useful utility guy.

          • cubtex

            He hit .219 in 2012 and .218 in 2013. He also hit .209 in 2011. He cannot hit. Get rid of him and let a kid like Watkins fill his role. So he takes a walk. He is terrible

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t care if he is gone, but the utility role is where he will be useful.

            Yes average matters, but he does other things well to make up for his low average

          • SuzyS

            Actually, with Sveum gone, (a Valbuena proponent), Arbitration about to make Valbuena more expensive…and guys like Watkins needing an opportunity…I have to agree with Cubtex here….I want to see how some of our homegrown talents do…If they fail, bring in another utility guy.

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree. I was showing him why he is on the 40 man roster and if we just cut him, he will get picked up and put in a utility role where he can help a team.

          • Bredstik

            I agree. Valbuena has value as a utility player, but is replaceable once we have better internal options.

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

    I like the Olt comparison. I think he can have a year similar to Rizzo last year while he gets back to form from basically a lost year due to concussion symptoms.