Rambling about the Cubs on the First Day of the Second Half

Hello again, everybody. The All-Star break has ended, the American League won again, making it 47 out of the last 51 for the DH’ers, or at least it seems that way.

As I started saying, today is the first day of the second half, of what I hope is the final “total giveaway” season of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer regime. I expect the Cubs to be a .500 baseball team next year, if not a little better. This year’s second half should show us some of what we might see for a few years to come, or hopefully, many years. So with that said, let’s get to some ramblings and to talking about the things you and I would like to see in the second half.

  • ‘Mendy got off to quite a hot start hitting .391 in five games. I think many will agree that he should be a regular coming out of the break. He can play his way into the starting centerfield for 2015.
  • Are we cool with ‘Mendy? Is ‘Mendy already his nickname? Is that bad? What should it be?
  • Sorry, I have been off of the Twitter this week and don’t know what has been twitted or who what twitting, or what or anything was said on the myspacer thing.
  • I think it is cool that Brian Schlitter is batting 1.000. When your last name is Schlitter, you really need to be a bada** at something.
  • Someone please point out that he has one at-bat. I am dying to be educated here.
  • PrintHow about Justin Ruggiano’s close to the first half? Kid has earned the right to start for a good few weeks coming out of the break. Get him out there. I remember a few people saying this acquisition could be great for the Cubs. I would like to see more.  With all due respect, Nate Schierholtz is not the answer, and after his start, he is not proving to be a trade commodity.
  • After one-half of baseball, how do we feel about Ricky?
  • I will say this about him … 330 days ago; many thought Castro and Rizzo might be lost causes. I mean, people thought this to the point where they were saying they’d rather have Cashner instead of Rizzo. This year, Castro and Rizzo were both All-Stars. Hard to argue with that.
  • The Front Office is going to have an interesting situation to attend to this off-season.  While they need to turn their attention to Jon Lester and others, they also need to be ready for new contracts. Do they sign Bryant and Baez to 7- or 8- years- deals?
  • Or do they only offer one of them, or neither of them, or what? I do not think this is necessarily an easy answer. Not whatsoever.
  • I was big on this guy in the off-season. I was big on him in the first half. Welington Castillo has to prove he is a starting catcher in the Major Leagues. The Cubs need to know this, and know it soon.
  • Jake Arietta had a 25-day span that made so many of us “Cubbie Kool-Aid-Drinkers” dreaming a TOR. Is he? Is he a 2? Is he a 3? Who knows? I want him to show us during the second half that he is at least one of those, if not a very solid No. 2. Asking for more than that is just being greedy at this point.
  • Junior Lake and Mike Olt have about 70 days to prove their worth. I am not saying either should be cut because they are both young. However, like Castillo, they need to show something.
  • Then again, Baez and Bryant could both be busts. We don’t really know, but I hope Olt and/or Lake understand the urgency of the moment and answer it. And answer it strong.
  • I would really like to see the young arms in the bullpen maintain their performance.  I have been highly impressed by Rondon. Should I again mention that he was a Rule-5 pick?
  • I would like to see the Cubs package a few bullpen arms for a promising starter.  This can happen. Teams will be desperate in the next two weeks. Russell (James) and Wright could command a decent return. And please, I said, “Could.”  Not “Should” or “Would.”
  • I would like to see if Kyle Hendricks could be a Major League starter. I saw some posts were fans were slotting him as a 2 or 3. I will take that at this point. Let’s be hopeful, but also realistic. He is not a No. 2.
  • Luis Valbuena’s yo-yo of a first half was fun to watch. Up and down and up and down and up and …
  • Here is to Castro and Rizzo keeping it up and even improving on their first-half performances. Ricky might be on to something, you guys. Really a full spread. The works, you guys.
  • And my final hope for the second half … Break Ground Tom!

Happy Friday to all. Happy Weekend to all. I will be at Wrigley this Saturday evening to see Blake Shelton. I am not a country fan. I am a good friend and a great brother. I have heard I should pay attention to the daisy-duke shorts and the boots. This makes me look forward to Saturday night.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Now there's three things you can do in a baseball game: You can win or you can lose or it can rain." - Casey Stengel 

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  • triple

    No reason to talk about Baez and Bryant earning contract extensions for quite some time. As long as they don’t get promoted until late April next season, Bryant will be under team control through all of his 20’s, and Baez wouldn’t become a free agent until he turns 29. If they both pan out, this team will have already reaped the best benefits of having them playing in Chicago, so the best thing would be to trade them if they aren’t willing to negotiate a fair contract. Geez, honestly I look at Mike Trout’s contract and I don’t even want to think about what it’s gonna cost to sign a guy with his kind of talent in another 5 years while he’s making $33.25M/yr.

    Now since Baez is a year younger and doesn’t have the greediest agent in the universe, if he does reach his potential in the next 3 years, it may be worth trying to buy out 2 or 3 future years and have him till he’s 31 yrs old. As far as Bryant, even if he turns into a perennial all-star, I can see them trading him near the end of his current contract just because the return would be worth more than what they will have to pay him against what he will have to offer the team. Hopefully by then, we’ve won a World Series (or two)… but the prospects he can garner if he is the real deal, can supply another wave of talent down the line.

    • GaryLeeT

      “No reason to talk about Baez and Bryant earning contract extensions for quite some time.”

      If they are considered pieces of the future, Jed will get them under contract like he did with Rizzo and Castro. If not, the final years of control are the arbitration years where they get paid the going rate for their performance, so there isn’t a ton of saving if they turn out to be stars. All this hand wringing over the start of a players service time is nonsense.

      • Jeff Wilson

        The extra year of service time, would you rather have the extra year for a few months of a young player’s performance, for 1 Million, or wait till spring, and have a 29 year old STAR’s year at 1 Million?
        Is it just me, or does TheoStein know what he is doing, and at this point is making very decent deals?!

    • Tony_H

      Actually we should wrap them both up in their first year before they get to an expensive level like Trout (but boy I would love for us to be talking about either of these guys as $30M/year players in a few years!!) Control is one thing, cost certainty is another and as young guys it might be hard to walk away from a 7/$25M contract that is guaranteed. I would expect Baez to sign and Bryant not to. Bryant has already made $6.5M bonus and has an agent that won’t be pushing him to take a deal, where Baez made $2.65M bonus and may have a harder time saying no to a deal.

      • triple

        Yeah if they are showing that they will develop into above average players in the first couple years of their major league careers and are willing to sign at a discount like Castro and Rizzo, then yes, wrap them up!

  • Tony_H

    Arrieta is a 3 in my eyes. If he comes back in the second half and keeps pitching well (not great), I would say he has moved up to a 2/3. 2/3’s have stretches where they look like they could be an ACE, but that ACE title is tough to come by and for many pitchers is short lived anyway. He definitely has the potential to be a TOR pitcher.

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

      Very true. But if he finishes as he has recently I think he’s a 2. Most 3’s can’t post sub 2 ERA’s and have back to back games go to 7th with no hitters. I’m not sayin he’s there yet, and he may never be a true ace as those are few an far between, but he can be a 2 an with another good year could be a 1 on many teams. For us in a championship run he is probably a 2 at best.

      • Tony_H

        When I use ACE, TOR, 2, 2/3, 3, 3/4, 4/5, 5 as ways to differentiate pitchers, I don’t use that as way to say what they would be on any team. Arrieta is our #1 right now, doesn’t make him an ACE or TOR pitcher. Good rotations can end up with no 4/5’s or 5’s in it just like good rotations can end up with no ACE or even TOR pitcher in it.

        • John_CC

          Oakland is devoid of a true Ace pitcher, Gray is excellent and arguably an Ace but it is his first full season so I don’t put that label on him. But Samardzja is now their #3 and Hammel #5. That makes an incredibly strong rotation.

          Oakland’s run differential is 145!

  • Tony_H

    Lake and Olt need to show something, but both will be in Iowa next year to see if they can regain any form.

  • No Baseball In Indiana

    I doubt either Olt and Lake will develop due to a sense of urgency. Some players have plate discipline others due not, deadlines don’t change that.

    • Tony_H

      Players use to be able to get away with poor plate discipline and still have good careers, but with so much more information about players, it gets exposed and usually creates a very short career.

      • No Baseball In Indiana

        Tell me about it. Even I can look up pitching heat maps and pitch values against batters, imagine the stuff MLB staffs are working with. I saw a really cool demonstration of Bloomberg Sports Analytics for MLB scouts and the degree of cross-referencing for every pitch of every at bat was jaw dropping.

  • texcubnut

    I don’t know if Renteria had anything to do with the turn around years that Rizzo/Castro are having, but he has done a credible job with this team. Certainly an improvement over SveumQuade and what we’ve seen the last 3 years.
    As far as nicknames go, Mendy is O.K. as long as Bania does’nt want to take him to lunch there. ” It’s the best, Jerry, the best.”

  • Tony_H

    Today will be interesting to see how the Astros clean up their mess. I hope they sign Aiken as I don’t want them getting an extra pick at #2 next year.

    • John_CC

      You mean if they fail to sign him that they could have the #1 and 2 pick next year? That is insane, how dumb is this system?!

      • Denver Mike

        Yeah, it should be a compensatory/supplemental pick at best. Otherwise, what is the penalty really?

      • Tony_H

        Hard to believe!

        This new system has accomplished somethings, but with all ways to try and stop something, created new things to fix.

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

    Don’t know if we could get a starter by packaging the bullpen arms. Maybe?

    I think Hendricks can absokutely be a 3. And while it may never happen I think his ceiling is as a 2. His mine league numbers are really good. Comps are to some pretty good pitchers. Compare them to Travis Wood. Hendricks are much better.

    I think Renteria has been great. He has exceeded my expectations and I feel he’s the right guy to lead the Cubs or a while.

    I’d love to see Bryant and other prospects get locked up in 10 year deals if possible. Probably won’t happen and there is plenty of risk but I think it would be a calculated move.

    • Tony_H

      Hendricks is a 4/5, sorry, but if he exceeds expectations he could stretch to a 3/4. He is a smart pitcher and I hope he exceeds my expectations, but he doesn’t have the stuff to be a 2 or a 3.

      10 year deals??? No thanks and I am sure no agent would ever suggest that. A 6 or 7 year deal or a deal that goes through arb years and 1 or 2 FA years is hard enough to pull off and gives the player “set for life” status. But you would have to offer very risky type dollars for a team to get a player to sell off their early 30’s at such a young age.

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

        Tried. But I’d rather give 10 years to a young guy then when Punols got his.

        And we will all just have to agree to disagree on Hendricks. I think he will be a 3. His stuff isn’t lights out but he’s just effective. And he’s added speed and with his build he can add more. His change up is sick and his minors numbers point to better than a 4/5.

        • Tony_H

          I would never give a 10 year deal in FA. The only time I see a 10 year deal being an option was a Mike Trout case, where you know it is going to be huge money, but they are young enough to not have it go to the late 30’s. But even then that is huge risk.

          I will go by the scouting reports and what I have seen. Minor league stats are not the best way to say what a player is or isn’t. Not saying they aren’t worth looking at, but not to determine floor and ceiling.

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

            Maybe not 10 but long term. I jut kinda threw that length out there. The Indians locked all their guys up in the 90’s and I like that strategy.

  • Tony_H

    Baez was on plan to be called up once his Super 2 status was thought to be clear. But he struggled out of the gates and plans change. But he has improved and could his playing 2B be a sign that they are about to call him up, after the trade deadline and/or someone is dealt away.

    If Boras was already telling people Bryant should be called up, what would happen if Baez gets called up (a little later than planned) before Bryant.

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

      I think you could be right Tony. The FO has always said they would wait on position changes until guys were close and they had to tweak things to get them on the field in Chicago. Bryant would be bummed I’m sure to lose his running mate, especially when he probably feels he’s as deserving. If Baez comes up I imagine this won’t be the last weve heard from Boras.

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

        But I have absolutely no problem waiting until next year with Bryant. I don’t see why bring him up now and start the clock when were not really going to push for playoffs or anything. Bryant ha shown his ability and I don’t think starting him next year in the bigs will be that hard. He’ll struggle as anyone will but he’s the type that takes wherever he is. Probable favorite for ROH next season.

        • Tony_H

          I agree. This is Bryant’s first full professional season. I say let him go home beginning of September, send him to the AFL and call it a year.

    • paulcatanese

      That’s easy, Boras will go out and get drunk, and spend a month in the corner, crying.
      Don’t get me wrong, I would like to see Bryant up sooner than later, but it frosts me to think that Boras would have anything to do with that.
      That is a FO decision, right or wrong, and Boras should be spanked and sent on his way.

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

        On your list of things that have gon awry in modern baseball. Paul how high do you rank roaches like Scott Boras? Agents are okay but the idea has been perverted into some celebrity that actually holds sway in the game.

        • paulcatanese

          Just got back in. Boras, at least what I have been privy to is not a person I would like to know. If I were a player
          I don’t think I would like him to handle my affairs. He does one thing well in the end, gets the player top money, however then one has to live with him afterwards. I don’t know how tough it would be to sever
          ties with him, but I would. Has to be tough for a player and his relationship with the parent club.
          It’s very apparent that he takes care of Boras first.
          I couldn’t trust that he had my best interest in his heart.

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