Rambling About the Cubs While Spring Has Not Sprung

Well hello again, everybody! It’s that time of year … I know you have all been looking forward to it , waiting with bated breath, and anxiously anticipating some incoherent, nonsensical, random and ridiculous stream of consciousness.

That is right … Ramblings is BACK!

For many reasons, including, but not limited to, the 472 “Top 100″ Prospect reports, along with the new Spring Training Facility updates and Tom U’s fantastic Minor-League coverage, I put Ramblings on a respite.

But now, we are back, and by no means, better than ever. But we are back. So let’s get Rambling …

  • I have a feeling about Mike Olt … it is positive, and I am really hoping I am right. If he can be the player everyone thought he would be two years ago, the Cubs could really have something there.
  • The Cubs have had plenty of “can’t miss” prospects over the years, but I am not sure any of them were even close to as good as Javy Baez. I saw the term “generational talent” the other day from a writer. I hope that writer is an accurate writer.
  • Jeff Samardzija’s future with the Cubs is so unpredictable. I have said all along that I think he will stay with the team long-term, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point.
  • Yes, feel free to call me Captain Obvious. I deserve it.
  • Is anyone else rooting for Donnie Murphy as much as I am? I think the guy earned a roster spot with his performance in the second half last year. He should make the team, no matter his performance this Spring.
  • Spring doesn’t really matter. Joe Mather anyone?
  • With that said, I am so all in on Ruggiano’s Spring performance thus far. He will be an All-Star. #sarcasm
  • Hey, I hope he progresses and turns out to be a great signing, but it is March 14, not June 14. If he is hitting .533 in June, then maybe, JUST maybe, I will be wrong.
  • I believe Bonifacio should start over Barney. We know what Barney can do and will do. Gold Gloves are fantastic. Batting .208 is not. If it is truly possible, he is a junior version of Theriot.
  • I am very intrigued by Vizcaino. Plenty, and I mean plenty, of pitchers have had great careers after Tommy John surgery. If he can do what he was projected to be capable of, then Maholm was very much worth it.
  • I look forward to watching Junior Lake’s second season. He stunned me, and I would guess many others, by hitting .290 after his three-month call up. He has become an afterthought who might be capable of greatness.
  • Did I just overstate something? No way. Also, I am waiting to hear that Malaysian Airways flight flew into a space-time continuum.
  • In 18 total at-bats, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters have a combined three hits. I’ve always been rooting for those guys, but …
  • Yes, I know I said Spring Training doesn’t matter, but it is the good that doesn’t matter. Some, if not most, of the bad should be taken seriously.
  • If you read this website, then I am sure you are familiar with the 2007 draft. Vitters was third. It hurts to read some of the names that were selected after him.
  • I believe this to be a make-or-break year for Welington Castillo. I am not comparing him to Barney, but Castillo opened some eyes last season. He needs to follow that up in a strong fashion.
  • CCO, help me here.  I am trying to think of the last Cubs catcher who was a starter for more than three seasons in a row. Anyone, anyone? Bueller? #Jody #Servais  #Wilkins #Barrett #Kendall #Bako #Soto #Icouldgoonforever
  • I have long thought that Matt Szczur was going to be an impact player in the Bigs. I may have long thought wrong, or erroneous, but he will be in 25 in July. If it is ever going to be his time, it needs to be his time soon, very soon.
  • Please tell me what I am missing about Ryan Kalish. I just don’t see it. Also, I am not, nor have I have ever been, a professional scout.  #armchairquarterback
  • And I will leave you all with a question. Below, please tell me what becomes of Dan Vogelbach. I would like to proffer a guess, but I have absolutely no idea.

That is all for now. Ramblings will be back more often as the season is close to starting. I wish each and every one of the loyal CCO readers a happy and safe St.  Patrick’s Day weekend.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • cubsin

    I think Kotteras, Ruggiano, Bonafacio, and Valbuena are locks for the bench. Kalish, Murphy and Couglan are battling for the last bench spot. Murphy and one of the OF’s make it if Barney is traded before the regular season starts.

  • cubsin

    If the NL adopts the DH rule as part of the 2016 CBA, Vogelbach is the Cubs DH. Otherwise, he’ll be traded to the AL.

    • mutantbeast

      Im with you on that. Personally, Ive seen Vogelbomb 2 seasons ago down in AZL and that was the Fatboy Vbomb, and he could mash then. Kids a 30HR plus type waiting to happen. Im hoping its on the Cubs.

  • SuzyS

    Mention Wellington Castillo, and I get very nervous for the Cubs.
    I believe Castillo can do a great job, provided he stay healthy.
    Just not sure Castillo can stay healthy…and if not…where the heck are the Cubs at the catcher position…??

    • TheWrongGuy

      I agree 100% Suzy.
      That is why I hoped the FO would sign D. Navarro this past off-season, or at least a better option than what they got (Kotterras/J.Baker). Signing Navarro to $2.5-$3.5 as the back-up would have been fine with me.

    • Rick Barkan

      Agreed i would have resigned Dioneer Navaro

  • triple

    It’s always great to read your ramblings Brian!

    I’m really liking the potential behind Mike Olt as our starting 3rd baseman.

    Bonifacio is definitely looking like the better option for 2nd base, and also the best option for lead-off man.

    I think Kalish would be interesting as the 5th outfielder. (Ruggiano, Lake, Schierholtz, and Sweeney as the others). Here’s hoping that Albert Almora stays healthy and has lots of positive stuff happen and hopefully see AA action by July…maybe even a September call up??? I honestly don’t think that is too farfetched. His defensive ability is worth it alone, why not get a gauge of how he handles the bat against the pitching?

    Here’s an opening day lineup I’d like to see:
    2B Bonifacio
    SS Castro
    1B Rizzo
    3B Olt
    RF Schierholtz
    LF Ruggiano
    C Castillo
    CF Lake
    P ????

    And the lineup I’d love to see in September**:
    SS Castro
    CF Almora
    1B Rizzo
    3B Olt
    RF Bryant
    2B Baez
    LF Lake
    C Castillo
    **Hopefully we’re seeing lots of lefties on the hill.

    ….pipe dream….

  • Tom U

    Thank you Brian! I know I’ve made it to the big time now that I have been part of the ramblings!

  • Tony_H

    If Olt not only ends up starting at 3B, but actually plays even close to his potential, you have to look at our return for Garza again. Olt was thought to be a throw in with Edwards as the main guy to go along with Grimm and Ramirez.

  • Tony_H

    I don’t see Murphy making this team, sorry and that would be because Olt took over 3B and pushed Valbuena to a bench spot. Bonifacio and Barney will fill 2B and another bench spot, so no room for Murphy, unless they only carry 4 OF’s and 7 relievers. But even if he does get the last spot on the roster, it won’t be for long.

    Both BJAX and Vitters should get time on the roster at some point this season as they need to make it stick at a 4th/5th OF or their 40 man roster spot will be gone.

  • Tony_H

    I see Vogelbach being a major leaguer, playing 1B for awhile until having to be a DH the rest of his career. Being a LH power hitter, he could have a long career (think how long of a career Matt Stairs had, look it up it will probably shock you).

    • Eugene Debs

      This is how I see it as well. It will be interesting to see if he is better in the field (or potentially more versatile) since his weight loss. As a young man, he has not played at this weight before, so he might be even better. Can he keep the weight off?

      • mutantbeast

        The million $ question. My vioew is I think he can, he seems to be the kind of player who will go a long ways to be sucessfull.

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

          I think his Cubs career is going to depend on Rizzo. If Rizzo has two more seasons about like last year, with very small improvement, then Vogelbach will get a shot and Rizzo will be traded. But if Rizzo gets his RISP up this year and then next year plays close to an all-star level then he’ll be our future.

          That said I believe in Rizzo. I think he’ll be the 1st baseman for a long time.

  • cubtex

    Unlike you….I worry about Junior Lake’s 1st full season. I see a regression and him being exposed. It would not surprise me if we see a change in the outfield and Lake being pushed out by June. BJax? Szcur?

    • Tony_H

      No doubt he will need to perform. He will always be a good bat against LH’s, even if he can’t be full time. I see BJAX and Vitters both getting shots along with Szczur before the season is over.

      • Eugene Debs

        Brett Jackson will be lucky to get AAA playing time. He was awful last year and has done nothing this spring to indicate he’s even as worthy as Darnell McDonald. BJAX is terrible.

    • paulcatanese

      I have said that about Lake, not the bat so much, but his defense, that needs to improve for him to stick, Poor routes, late jumps, still doesn’t know what to do with that power arm,
      If he doesn’t hit, the Cubs must do something else.
      I think you have a good insight on what I’m going to say here. On Baez and Olt. That was an awesome display of power with those home runs, but it is Spring training. When pitchers leave the ball up in the zone and over the middle, what’s a good hitter supposed to do?
      He should hit it and hard and they did. Point, Baez hit a changeup middle zone and up, yeah he killed it Olt got two pitches down the middle,
      zero stuff on them. They will hit no doubt, but I cannot get too excited over those home runs, ST.
      What I do notice in ST is defense, that cannot be changed. Baez picked a short line drive, long hop, like it was rolled to him, that was impressive.
      Bryant had the best home run of the kids the other night, did not get to extend his arms and hit the thing 420 feet on a line, that was impressive.

      • cubtex

        Lake’s bat worries me too. He has soooo many moving parts and has a long swing.
        On Olt and Baez. You are 100% right. It is nice to see but not to get too excited. Randy Wolf is not Madison Baumgardner at this stage of his career. Olt jumped on a first pitch fastball off Wolf and Baez crushed a mistake.
        I hope Olt makes it but once they face the tough righties when the season starts that will be the true test.

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

          He may struggle against righties all season. It seems to be a trend for a lot of players that in the first one of two years they have trouble against pitchers from their side of the plate. But as they progress they work it out and become good at both.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I agree. Lake has tools, but is very raw. And his BA vs RHP is not good enough. He WILL be exposed. Count on it. And then plan to mop up the mess on the field….unless Team Theo goes with the Barney Plan: continue to plan a very underperforming player to set new records of offensive futility.

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

        I don’t hink thy can afgord to do the anarmey plan with more than one position in the field. The leeway Barney has gotten isnt that unusual with a gold glove type defender but you cannot afford to do it with more than one spot in your lineup.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Theo knows Barneys glove is appealing to other teams. Barney will keep getting starts in hope he picks up his batting avg. Then Theo will be able to trade him and get something decent back

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

    I don’t think Murphy should necessarily make it because of last season. Kalish makes things happen, is still fairly young and was a top prospect a few years ago before injury setbacks. I think he gets the last spot.

    • Tony_H

      I really expect Kalish to go to Iowa and get regular AB’. If he performs, he will be up quickly though.

      • BigJonLilJon

        Unfortunately, I think your right. Unless they trade some one that is. I like this kid. Good speed, hustles, plays the game the way its supposed to be played. Am rooting for him. BJax – I think he was bad before Sveum and after.

    • cubtex

      Rider. No offense but you get too caught up with prospect rankings from a couple of years ago. Look how Casper Wells was described a couple of years ago. Lars Anderson, even Luis Valbuena. It is extremely difficult to be a productive mlb everyday player. You should read the book…Where no one knows your name.. lol… Touche. It has stories about different players and how hard it is to make it.

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

        I get what you’re saying and trust me, as any Cubs fans know, the pitfalls of potential production of prospects is prosaic.

        I just like what he’s doing this year. He’s getting on base without yet really getting hits. And once he’s on base he’s making things happen. His baserunning reminds me of Ellsbury. I think that hitting stroke is one of the last things to come back to a player after rehab. But Kalish was always known as a guy that could hit.

        I’ve mentioned Andersson a few times but only in passing. As far as I know he hasn’t done anything worth note or has he even played since the Cubs signed him? But Kalish is making things happen. He’s just a scrappy kid with pinetar on his gloves and dirt on his uniform. I like him and think his best days in basball are still ahead of him.

        • cubtex

          I have no problem if the Cubs traded Schierholtz and let Kalish start the season. It would at least give some new blood to watch. If you look at prospect rankings though….BJax was thought of more highly than Kalish. I would rather see our own guy get a shot. He is also still 25.

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

            At one time he was but more recently Kalish has been better thought of. And Kalish has been hurt, he’s recovering. BJax has just blown and never showed much improvement.

            Kalish is our own guy. He’s on the roster and in spring camp. I don’t have any preference which one gets a shot from the perspective of one having been in a Cubs uniform longer. Both are Cubs now, and Kalish to me, shows a ton more potential and current skill.

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

            Just to reiterate. I still like BJax and hope someday he can put it together. But right now, Kalish is producing runs for the big league team and appears to be able to contribute. BJax can barely contribute at AAA. You’re comment was kind of a non sequitur. I don’t understand why you’re saying you’d rather see BJax play when he’s shown no signs of being able to contribute in the MLB and Kalish quite the opposite.

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

            Not saying Kalish looks like an all-star but he does look like he a big leaguer. BJax, unfortunately, still does not.

          • cubtex

            If you read about BJax recently. Sveum screwed him up big time. They tried to re-invent his swing the last 2 years. He is going back to what he did when he was a top prospect. He is on the 40 man roster and was a former 1st round pick. Let’s give him one last shot to see if he is a mlb player.
            Kalish hasn’t done anything in the majors either. You aren’t talking about him producing in spring training…are you? He hit .229 in 2012 with limited playing time so he has not produced yet in the mlb. Spring training doesn’t mean much.

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

            Sveum may have messed him up but he was trying to fix something that wasn’t working beforehand. BJax was a K machine long before Sveum got his hands on him.

            I’m talking about right now, the eye test. Kalish looks like he can break camp with the team and contribute in a 4 or 5 outfielder role. BJax, not so much, at least not right now.

          • paulcatanese

            And Sveum was two for two in that department. He also messed with Castro’s approach and we all know what happened there.

  • Rick Barkan

    This season has to be better then the last two. I think the Cubs need 1 or 2 starting pitchers. Plus i would have liked the Cubs to resign Dioneer Navarro. Edwin Jackson might be better in the pen a total bust and a big waste of money. Maybe Barney and a few others Vitters and Brett Jackson (those 2 will never play for the Cubs) for a starting pitcher. Can we somehow get David Price from the Rays. Any thoughts?

  • Ripsnorter1

    Speaking of hot starts to ST….1 for 15 Ryan Sweeney celebrates his new Cubs’ contract.

    LOL

    And Jr. Lake is 3 for 18…

    • texcubnut

      As mentioned many times above……….It’s spring training.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Oh yes. That’s why I put “LOL.”
        It is very early.