Arrieta’s Rehab Moved to Daytona, Baez Could Return Sunday and Other Cubs News

Happy Easter

The Cubs announced Saturday that Jake Arrieta will make his next, and hopefully last, rehab start with the D-Cubs in Clearwater on Monday and not with the I-Cubs as previously reported. Monday forecast in Des Moines did not look favorable, so Arrieta will put on a D-Cubs jersey and face the Threshers (Philadelphia Phillies) in Clearwater’s park.

Jake Arrieta threw 82 pitches over 5 2/3 innings in his last rehab start on Wednesday and would like to stretch his pitch count up to 100 in Monday’s outing. Plus, Arrieta told Carrie Muskat he would like to work on his cutter and changeup “when he’s behind in the count.”

Unless Jake Arrieta suffers a setback, he should be ready to join the Cubs’ rotation during the series in Milwaukee (April 25-27) that starts on Friday.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez could be activated from the disabled list on Sunday according to a report from the Des Moines Register. Tommy Birch caught up with Marty Pevey on Saturday and the I-Cubs’ skipper said the team would wait until Sunday and see how is ankle is doing. If Baez is activated from the DL, he would be used as the team’s designated hitter and would not play in the field. Baez hit in the cage and ran the bases before Saturday’s game.

Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo left Saturday’s game prior to the eighth inning with back spasms. Rizzo expects to be back in the lineup on Sunday for the finale against the Reds. Rizzo told Carrie Muskat his back “started barking” on him in the fifth or sixth inning. Rizzo took himself out of the game after the Cubs took the four-run lead.

Carlos Rodon

A day after watching ECU’s Jeff Hoffman, Theo Epstein watched LHP Carlos Rodon pitch on Friday according to a report from Bruce Levine. Rodon was the consensus number one pick in the upcoming draft, but he has struggled this season, same as Tyler Beede, and some think his stock has dropped.

Rodon has not received much, if any run support, which has skewed his record. Rondon picked up his first win on Friday night since March 8 after he held Boston College to one earned run on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in eight innings.

The flame throwing lefty is 3-6 in 10 games with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP (79 strikeouts, 24 walks and 61 hits allowed in 71 innings).

Carlos Rodon projects as a top of the rotation starter in the big leagues. Rodon’s fastball sits in the 90-95 mph range. Rodon throws a four-seam fastball with what has been described with “nice backspin that tails away from right handed hitters.” His two-seam fastball (low-90s range) has “a good amount of hand side tail.” Rodon also throws a cutter or a baby slider “with tight, good bite” that is “more horizontal than vertical tilt at 89-91.” Rodon’s curve “has good shape” with “a lot of spin with late drop, but not heavy rotation.” And he throws a projectable change-up.

News and Notes

Arodys Vizcaino has impressed his pitching coach with the D-Cubs and Ron Villone knows a special arm when he sees one according to a report from The Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Cubs are being cautious with Vizcaino as he recovers from two elbow surgeries. The Cubs sent Vizcaino to Daytona for the start of the season so they can build up his arm strength, plus the warmer weather is more conducive for a pitcher recovering from two years of injuries.

According to the Des Moines Register, Brett Jackson is feeling “real good” as he works his way back from an oblique injury. The I-Cubs placed Jackson on the DL last Thursday with a right oblique strain.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Darnell McDonald is ready for his new chapter in baseball. The Cubs announced the hiring of Darnell McDonald as Baseball Operations Assistant last week, a job he did not think he would be doing when Spring Training began. McDonald said staying with the Cubs organization was a “no-brainer,” he wants to help the players get to the big leagues and “help these guys bring a championship to Chicago.” McDonald admitted he does need to buy some khaki slacks so he can look the part.

Mike Olt is delivering on power potential according to a report from ESPN Chicago.

According to Tony Andracki, Rick Renteria likes what he’s seen from Starlin Castro hitting out of the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup. Renteria would not rule out moving Castro back up toward the top of the lineup at some point.

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

    Let Mike Olt play! I don’t care if he strikes out. His pace could easily get him 25 HR this season with regular play and he can’t improve against righties if he doesn’t face them. That progression will rely so heavily on seeing the release and it’s completely a repetition thing. Release Valbuena for all I care. I’ve backed the guy and he is a serviceable player but strictly as a 5th infielder and pinch hitter against righties. Last year I could live with him but he is blocking Olt’s progression. Get him outta there.

    • Cory Beckham

      You are so right please play Olt. Also stop benching lake for sorry ass Sweeney. Another thing I can’t stand is I bet my life on it even with the home run by Olt today he won’t be in the lineup. I mean come on how do you plan on this man to get in a groove.

    • Tony_H

      I’m sure they will, but there is more to it than him just being penciled in the lineup everyday, he has to be able to start everyday and it was just last week, that he was on the ground looking like he still has a sore shoulder.

      • Larry Schwimmer

        I agree with you Tony. Let’s not forget that are only fans. We don’t know what’s going on with a player’s health or some of the other reasons by a player like OLT doesn’t play everyday. As soon as he’s 100% healthy, he will play everyday. Valbuena is a bench player. I would release him as soon as it seems feasible because the CUBS have enough depth.

    • BigJonLilJon

      On an offense challenged team, Olt is tied for most home runs while being 8th on the team in total at bats. Obviously… we do not know if there is something wrong injury wise. But from what I have seen, there seems to be nothing wrong with the throw from 3rd to 1st. I just don’t get it.

  • Tom U

    A very Happy Easter to everyone at the CCO!

    • SuzyS

      Happy Easter back at ya Tom…and to Everyone Else from the CCO.

      • Tom U

        Thank you Suzy!

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Happy Easter Suzy and to everyone

    • TheWrongGuy

      “A very Happy Easter to everyone at the CCO!”
      Same to you Tom and everyone else here at the CCO!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      You too Tom.

      • Tom U

        Thank you, as always, Neil!

  • Brp921

    Thanks for the link to the Vizcaino article Neil, it was a good read.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I now remember why Barney was mentioned before as a core guy over a year ago. He is a star defensively. Neither Bonifaco and definitely not Valbuena would have made that double play. He is truly fun to watch in the field. He has Superior range.

    • Larry Schwimmer

      I agree Patrick. We should not be so quick to want to just get rid of Barney. The other day when Bonafacio played 2nd and threw the ball away…I promise you: Barney would have turned that into a double-play.

      Smart money says, you see if you can get Barney to bat .220-.250 – and then see if he can be part of a trade package as we get into July. His fielding adds .25 to .50 points to his batting average!

  • Tom U

    Minor League Notes:

    The offensive crisis fans are seeing at the major league level has spread throughout the system. Every Cubs affiliate is at or near the bottom of team batting for their respective league. Here’s a look at the problems of each level:

    Iowa: The front office has a fairly direct hand in their .213 team average. They failed to protect 1B Justin Bour in the Rule 5 draft, and now he is hitting .365 with 2 HR and 11 RBI for AAA New Orleans. His replacements, veterans Chris Coghlan and Lars Anderson, are hitting a combined .169 with no homers and 3 RBI. Iowa is also paying for piece of mind at the major league level as catching vet Eli Whiteside is batting .179 while Rafael Lopez, who was moved down to Tennessee to accommodate him, is hitting .286 with a home run and 5 RBI.

    Tennessee: With the Smokies’ team average of .215, it could be just a matter of time before Zeke DeVoss (.156) and Wes Darvill (.172) are demoted. Both look overmatched at this time, and Daytona’s Bijan Rademacher is red hot (.381/1/6). Infielder Tim Saunders has also batted over .300 with a homer and 6 stolen bases in his last 10 games. The switch could benefit both teams.

    Daytona: At a team average of .240, the problem has been two major cogs, Dan Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario, and two lesser ones in Rock Shoulders and Willson Contreras not performing as expected. The four have combined to hit .180 with only 3 HR and 20 RBI. All could benefit from moving down to Kane County temporarily to get their bearings, but it would be a team composition nightmare.

    Kane County: The Cougars are at 11-5 despite a team average of .236 due to great pitching and defense. Getting Candelario from Daytona would solve a huge hole they have at 3B and allow David Bote, an emerging offensive player, more time at 2B. Kane Co. is also in danger of losing Yasiel Balaguert to promotion, as the clean -up hitter is 7th in the Midwest League in both batting (.333) and RBI (12). Catcher Will Remillard needs to show more offensive consistency, but may also be ready for promotion by the end of May.

    • Tony_H

      Iowa’s Pitching is leading the PCL with a 1.18 WHIP. Only one other team is below 1.31 and that team is at 1.27. The bullpen has been dominant so far led by Marcus Hatley, Blake Parker and Zac Rosscup The rotation has been led by Tsuyoshi Wada and is stellar 0.84 ERA and overall good performances by Jokisch and Hendricks.

      Tennessee is leading the Southern league with a 2.91 ERA. The rotation is dominant as expected with Ivan Pineyro and his 1.15 ERA and his 1.02 WHIP shows. Jake Arrieta has rehabbed here and is one more rehab start away from taking his 0.73 ERA adn 0.81 WHIP to Wrigley. Top prospect CJ Edwards has a 2.45 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.

      Daytona is led by Feliz Pena and his 1.38 ERA and 0.81 WHIP and Arodys Vizcaino and his 1.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP to go along with his 10.8 k/9 rate.

      Kane Country is 3rd in the Midwest League in WHIP at 1.26 Paul Blackburn’s time in Kane County may be short with his 1.00 WHIP and 3.60 ERA. Tyler Skulina (3.78 ERA/0.96 WHIP) and Jen-Ho Tseng (2.61 ERA) have also pitched well by Duane Underwood and his 1.13 ERA and 1.00 WHIP has looked very good.

      These are all good signs and positive things to talk about for a system that is full of top hitting prospects and needs to get some pitchers to come up through to Wrigley.

      • Eugene Debs

        Good counterpoint TH. Pitching has been a pleasant surprise on the farm. Plus, we have some pretty good hitters not playing right now in Soler and Baez.

        Hopefully the bats warm up with the weather.

      • cubtex

        Look at Iowa’s starting rotation again my friend. Not pretty. Only Wada has been good. Jokisch is next with a mid 3 ERA and everyone is else is way over 4. And how did that have anything to do with what Tom pointed out?

        • Tony_H

          As Eugene stated, counterpoint or as I like to call it the positive to the negative.

      • Tom U

        The overall pitching has been better, but some great performances have been absolutely crushed by very bad offense.

        All of the moves I mentioned above were debatable by the organization, and it appears that every one of them has come up snake eyes.

        Wins and loses at the minor league level aren’t as important as development. However, I have been consistent in saying that a team approach is necessary in order to build player confidence and promote growth. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, adjustments need to be made, no matter how high they appear on someone’s Top Prospect list.

        • Tony_H

          So you are saying that the Cubs FO made a mistake in letting Bour go in the Rule V draft?

          2013 AA – 237/313/461 – terrible numbers, but it gets worse, it was his 2nd year in AA

          2012 AA – 283/360/455 So he regressed from these numbers, yet he is some how now an elite prospect (you have recently implied he could be our 1B instead of Rizzo) that will be in the majors soon, based on 3 weeks of AAA stats to start the season. Even though he is in the PCL, a hitters league and has been playing in New Orleans and Oklahoma (warmer weather) until their trip to Iowa. While the Iowa Cubs has played in Iowa and Memphis.

          It is always easy to find minor league examples of players that are failing or not hitting expectations. But shouldn’t we focus more on the players that are doing good, as they are the ones that will move up, which is all we should care about, which players can make it through to the majors, not the ones who won’t?

      • cubtex

        Let me help you out.

        Hendricks 4.82 ERA
        Jokisch 3.57
        Rusin 6.32
        Pimental 6.75
        and the one saving the staff
        Wada 0.84 ERA 21.1 IP 10 hits 23 K’s and a 0.56 WHIP.

        So you can see it is 1 starter who is performing outstanding .

        Neil Ramirez 9.00 ERA

        • cubtex

          Here are some AA pitching stats for some of the better prospects. Notice control and walks are one of the biggest issues.

          Corey Black(who we got for Soriano) 4.09 ERA 11 IP 9 WALKS with 8 K’s

          CJ Edwards 2.45 ERA 14.2 IP 11 hits 16 K’s(excellent) 6 Walks

          Pinyero 15.2 IP 9 hits(excellent) 15 K’s(excellent) and 9 Walks(too many)

          Hunter Cervenka is a name to keep on eye on. possible loogy 4.1 IP with 0 walks and 7 K’s

          • Tony_H

            Small sample sizes, that was kind of my point, Tom was condeming the Cubs FO and the hitters in the minors after 3 weeks of a cold spring, yet not also talking up the good start by the pitching staff……makes me wonder if there is a reason the Cubs offense is low and the Cubs pitching is up, sounds like overall little offense happening in these cold spring games. Small sample sizes are just not a good way to base much on.

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          Rusin had one really bad outing early but has been pretty solid since.

          • cubtex

            Really? Do you consider 6IP 4ER while giving up 3 HR’s solid? That was his last start.

        • Tony_H

          I pointed out the good examples, no doubt you would extend Tom’s negative examples.

          Hendricks had a poor 1st outing but his last 2 have been good.

    • SuzyS

      Tom, Doesn’t a rule 5 pick (Bour) have to stay on the mlb roster for the season or be returned?

      • Tom U

        If the Cubs had placed Bour on the Triple-A reserve list, he would have needed to be on the major league roster all season.

        Because the Cubs didn’t do that, Bour was able to be selected in phase two of the draft, much like the Cubs did with catcher Charles Cutler. Bour is now a member of the Marlins’ organization free and clear.

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          Isnt Bour 26

          • Tom U

            Yes, but so is Lars Anderson, while Coghlan is 29. Who would you rather have right now?

          • Tony_H

            Are any of them really much of a difference? Coghlan could help a major league team, but Anderson and Bour have a lot to prove,

    • GaryLeeT

      I am surprised your notes did not mention Kris Bryant’s 1.050 OPS, and the great start to his season.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    All – I happened to be in the offices of Shark’s agent yesterday, and amazingly he had Shark on speakerphone and I could hear them clearly talking about contract demands. I came in mid-conversation, but this is what I heard:

    Agent “what else you looking for Jeff?”

    Shark “I also expect them to build a new suite at Wrigley, with 24/7 access, just for me…oh…but connect it to, like, a ramp, and I want those Mall Cop special bikes…”

    Agent “you mean Segways, Jeff?”

    Shark “yeah man…Segways. That way I can get to and from my customized Cubbie-Blue Ferrari without my feet every touching the ground.”

    Agent “well you deserve it, Jeff.”

    Shark “Oh…and my suite should have a hairstylist that lives there, so I can get a shampoo and treatment for my incredible mullet any time I want. And they need to stock the suite with a lifetime supply of Kérastase Homme Bain Capital Force Densifying Shampoo…not that Redken crap…only the best for Shark Dog’s mane, you feel me?”

    Agent “Of course, Jeff.”

    Shark “I mean…look…none of this is for me, or about me…I am doing this for the guys that come after me, you know? I am doing it the right way.”

    Agent “You’re a selfless humanitarian Jeff.”

    • Richard Hood

      I do not know whether to laugh my butt off or throw up.

  • Tom U

    Javier Baez officially activated from the DL. He will DH and bat third tonight.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Happy Easter