The Daily CCO: Starlin Castro is the Cubs Shortstop and Other News and Notes

Starlin Castro was front and center prior to the opener against the Mets at Citi Field and was asked about the trade rumors to the Mets that popped up after the Cubs acquired Addison Russell from Oakland. According to multiple reports, Castro was unaware of the rumors, but the New York media is convinced the Cubs will trade one of the shortstops for pitching. And the Cubs and Mets would be a perfect match-up for a deal in the not-to-distant future.

Starlin Castro wants to stay with the Cubs for his entire career. And he pointed out there are “a lot of shortstops in the minor leagues” but he doesn’t think that matters because they are all athletes and “can play wherever in the infield.”

Starlin Castro does not want to change positions according to the Sun-Times and Jed Hoyer was glad to hear Castro say that.

PrintJed Hoyer was asked if there is room on the big league roster for all of the shortstops in the organization. According to the Sun-Times, Hoyer thinks the Cubs will be “better in a lot of ways” if they can. The front office does not feel “compelled to trade even one” of the shortstops and Gordon Wittenmyer reported that Castro “might not be as expendable as many may think.”

Starlin Castro is having a good season at the plate and in the field. After a bad July, Castro extended his hitting streak to 14 games on Friday night and is hitting .421/.441/.526 with three doubles, a home run and a .967 OPS over the last 14 games.

Dan Straily

Rick Renteria reiterated prior to Friday’s game, the plan for Dan Straily is to have him start Saturday and send him back down to the minors. Straily is expected to make starts in September for the Cubs once the roster expands and Iowa’s season is over.

Straily was with the team Friday and talked about the improvements he’s made during his time in Iowa since the trade.

Bruce Walton, Iowa’s pitching coach, Chris Bosio and others according to a report from Carrie Muskat, made “some minor changes” to Straily’s mechanics and those changes have helped. Straily’s fastball command and velocity have improved as well. And Straily thinks “maybe this whole change of scenery thing is what it’s made out to be.”

Straily was asked about the prospects the Cubs have in the minors. Straily played with Addison Russell during Spring Training and is playing with Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler in Iowa. Straily told the Sun-Times, “There’s a lot of talent down there. There’s just a whole culture of winning that’s being instilled. It was something I felt when I was with Oakland coming up. We won, and you see that group of guys, and then that’s just kind of the trend that you keep going down there, and eventually it starts to translate. It’s exciting to be here.”

Junior Lake

Junior Lake was optioned to Iowa following Friday’s game to make room for Dan Straily on the active roster. The plan for Lake is to play every day and hopefully working with Brian Harper and Manny Ramirez will have the same impact on Lake it has with Mike Olt.

Junior Lake acknowledged after Friday’s game that he needs to play and he needs more at bats.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Lake was told he will be recalled in 15 days when the roster expands.

Junior Lake was not on an optional assignment and it was reported incorrectly that optioning Lake to the minors would use his last option. As long as Lake is recalled within 20 days, he will still have one minor league option left.

Roster Moves

Rick Renteria will have an even shorter bench Saturday than he’s managed with this season. The active roster will have 14 pitchers on it with only 11 position players. That gives Renteria two position players and the back-up catcher. Based on the way the team has handled call-ups this season, John Baker will likely start behind the plate for Dan Straily.

The Cubs will send Straily down following Saturday’s game and replace him on the active roster with a position player. And that position player was thought to be Jorge Soler when Junior Lake was optioned out.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the call-up could be “a much less exciting move than dropping Jorge Soler into The Big Apple this weekend.”

News and Notes

Luis Valbuena received Friday and Saturday off to “clear his mind of recent tailspin” according to a report from the Sun-Times. Carrie Muskat reported Valbuena is battling a cold. And Mark Gonzales reported Valbuena would be held out of Friday and Saturday’s games but was available to pinch-hit.

Minor News and Notes

Pierce Johnson put together another scoreless outing Friday. Johnson gave up three hits in four innings with three walks and seven strikeouts. Johnson has not allowed a run in his last three starts and is 2-0 over that span with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. In 16 innings, Johnson has allowed six hits with six walks and 21 strikeouts.

Mark Johnson addressed the plans for the recently promoted Mark Zagunis. The Cougars skipper said Zagunis will play most left field and DH and maybe catch once a week.

This Day In Cubstory

2013 – Ryne Sandberg was named interim manager of the Phillies

2012 – Cubs signed free agent Horacio Ramirez

1997 – The Cubs acquired Frisco Parotte from the Yankees for Rey Sanchez

1992 – Greg Maddux gave up four hits in the Cubs 1-0 victory over the Astros

1988 – Justin Grimm, born

1956 – Dee Fondy homered and “Sam Sam” Jones struck out 13 batters as the Cubs beat the Braves at Wrigley Field.

1932 – It was Charlie Grimm Day at Wrigley Field. The Cubs rallied in front of 32,000 and beat the Braves 4-3.

1930 – The Cubs beat the Phillies 10-9 in the first game of a doubleheader and the second game of the twinbill was suspended in the 11th inning due to darkness with the game tied at three. Gabby Harnett drove in the winning run in game one and Hack Wilson hit his 41st homer of the season.

1911 – Frank Schulte set a record that would be broken in 1955 by Ernie Banks, when he hit his fourth grand slam of the season. The Cubs beat the Braves 13-6 in Boston

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  • cubtex

    Castro is special. Not many in baseball history have done what he has at his age. Look at Alcantara,Olt,Lake,Baez. Most every prospect struggles initially. Some adjust….most fail. That is why it is unrealistic to think this team will be competitive next year. Castro is the franchise player and you leave him at SS and move the others until Castro ages.

    • Jeff in Az

      Exactly. Why would you trade an All Star Major League Shortstop, under team control for several more years, who is not even in his prime years yet?

      If we trade with the mets for pitching (which I agree is just New York inventing the dialogue) I would have to think we would trade one of the unproven blue chip prospects. I’m sorry but I don’t even have Addison Russell in the same conversation as Starlin Castro because Starlin has already proved himself time and time again at the major league level.

    • cubtex

      or to expand on that…once Russell or another prospect proves they can be an everyday mlb and then you can move them. The O’s moved Machado to 3rd initially instead of moving Hardy to 3rd. That is the way it should be done. You keep the established player there….until thrr prospct proves themselves in the majors.

      • TheWrongGuy

        They are all suspects till they prove otherwise.
        I love A. Russell, but as mentioned above he is “not” playing at the ML level as a SS like Starlin Castro. until A. Russell proves he can and beats out Starlin Castro for SS. Starlin Castro has nothing to worry over. A. Russell could be a nice trade piece to NY Mets for N. Syndergaard one of the only top pitching prospects “not” hit with the TJ injury bug this season. And the CUBS scouting team has been watching the AAA games Syndergaard has been pitching, as Neil reports have shown. Maybe there’s a trade and maybe not.

        • Theboardrider

          Don’t trade Russell! Please. M
          Don’t trade Castro either. But Russell is likely to go on to be an MVP caliber player. Don’t trade any of them. I don’t think we will. Russell isn’t going anywhere.

  • Tom U

    Like I said before, just a bunch of self-serving crap by the New York writers.

    • cubtex

      Mets fans are starving for a SS. They are tired of Ruben Tejada.

    • Jeff in Az

      Amen to that, Tom.

  • Swish23

    what’s the phrase; “careful what you wish for”. way too many fans, many the Theo lover clan, that think every prospect is a future all-star so Castro can go. well, Castro is a JH guy, just like Alacantara, Baez, really all the kids now are JH guys on the MLB roster (Cashner brought Rizzo), Castillo, and Castro IS a 3-time all-star, not hoping he can be, or wishing it, he is; at the age of 24…….and he did it batting out of his regular line-up spot at clean-up, with a horrid hitter behind him in Valbeuna. I’ve watched the Cubs for 40 years; so I just missed the Banks years. Name another homegrown all-star SS…………………….exactly, there isnt one. Castro needs to stay. Russell hasn’t even played 50 games at AAA yet. Let’s see what Castro does when he has a good team around him, something he has not had yet, and not wehn Valbuena is batting behind him.

    • jtrain23

      I have been saying for a long time that Castro is undervalued by the media and the fans. I realize he is streaky, and is not a “top notch” defensive shortstop. However, he is a great athlete and is still 24 years old, so there is plenty of time to improve. Players of his caliber really are hard to come by. He plays every day, gives you 150-200 hits with doubles, homers, and good run production for a “non power” hitter.

      To assume that any of the prospects are going to be as successful as Castro has been this far is asinine. I hope they pan out, but you cannot trade Castro now hoping someone can replace him in the future.

      • cubtex


    • JasonPen

      “Name another homegrown all-star SS”

      Challenge accepted: Shawon Dunston.

    • Asmith

      Shawon Dunston 88 & 90

      • Swish23

        good call. I can’t believe I forget Shawon-o-meter……..but he only had 2 ASG appearances ever. Castro has 3 already.

        • Theboardrider

          I love Shawon. But Castro is a higher caliber.

    • Neil

      The phrase you used to describe the section of the fan base that supports the Cubs current regime is not to be used on this site. I have asked you in the past to please follow the commenting rules of the site. This is the last reminder to follow those rules. Comments can be made without putting people down and/or name calling.

      Thank you once again for following the rules.

    • Theboardrider

      I have not read anyone say that Castro should go. Maybe I’ve heard that if someone had to go its him instead of Russell. I agree there. But I don’t wantto see any of them go.

      Most of the “Theo clan,” wants to stick to the plan. Which is to keep all the bats. Castro, Russell, all of them…

  • Tony_H

    The talk of the Cubs trading a SS for a pitcher is coming out of the NY media, not out of Chicago and not out of the FO. But love how people run with it like it is real. Could it happen down the road, of course, every team has a point where if another team is overpaying they will say yes.

    And the Cubs have been saying Castro is the SS, and all evidence shows Alcantara moved to 2B in Iowa then to CF in Chicago. Baez has moved to 2B.

  • Denver Mike

    Two weeks ago you would’ve thought the sky was falling on the 24 year old, 3 time All Star shortstop of the Chicago Cubs. I think he was batting mid-.260s and a couple fans on here were predicting he would finish the year back at .240 where he was last year. If I were a less-opinionated fan I would have thought we would be lucky to trade him at all. Well, one 14 game hit streak later his .286/.335/.429/.764 line looks pretty fine to me. How does that compare to his 200+ hit season?

    2011: 674 AB, 36 2B, 9 3B, 10 HR, 66 RBI, .307/.341/.432/.773
    2014: 482 AB, 31 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, .286/.335/.429/.764

    It’s obvious that he is hitting fewer singles as his average is lower this year. But he’s bulked up and is flashing more power, at the expense of some of the speed he had when he first came in. More homers, soon to be more doubles, and fewer triples is evidence of that. This is pretty much what was predicted for him since day 1, that he would add some weight/power, and lose some of his speed. Overall, if Castro could repeat the season he is having this year, every year for the next 10, he should be a Cub for life and no-doubt HOFer.

    But what the hell, let’s trade him for a couple unproven TJ candidates :)

    • gary3411

      Averar defensive play and a mid 700s OPS gets you inyo the hall of fame these days? Wow cooperstpwn better start looking for new real estate.

      Castro is a very average player but still has room to improve, though unlikely much as he hasnt yet. His allstar seasons can be attributed to hot first halves. He has never finished a season anywhere even close to a top-5 overall shortstop in MLB, period.

      Give me the pitching. Worst case scenario, if russell doesnt work out (which i would bet my money against), this offense should be plenty good to sign a stephen drew type defensive minded SS. We wont miss castro.

      Castro for syndergaard and norris. Im in.

      • Denver Mike

        Syndergaard is young and has all the potential in the world, but has had elbow problems already this year where it was feared he would need TJ, and his numbers this year at AAA are nothing to be amazed at. So yeah, trading a 24 year old All-Star SS for him makes perfect sense.

      • Denver Mike

        Here is a list of all shortstops currently in the Hall of Fame. Lots of “mid 700s OPS” guys in there from what I can tell. Castro has played for 5 years, so I took his career stats to this point, extrapolated them out over 10 more years and put them at the bottom along with where he would rank among the other 24 HOF shortstops. He would only be 34 at that point, but if he were to retire at age 34 he would be middle of the pack or better among all of them.

        Sure there are a lot of things that could alter his career path, but there is far less risk than a couple of 20ish year old arms. But if you think a couple of unproven pitching commodities sound like a fair gamble, more power to you.

        • BillyFinT

          Enshrining Rizzuto was a bad decision. Almost all his Yankee teammates made it to the Hall of Fame (I think in my Stan Hack article this was mentioned as problem to media bias).

          Reese benefited by his era, a hitting haven in the 1950s, but he also had leadership skill and was a supporter of Jackie Robinson.

          Tinker and Maranville were questionable choices. Again, they were enshrined because of “intangible-s” that only dazzled contemporaries.

          The next two seasons will define Castro, who’ll be entering his baseball prime. The league has been favoring pitchers, so if Castro can continue hitting like this… He’s no longer a young prodigy, but a veteran of the clubhouse. He will need to step up his game and show leadership.

          • Theboardrider

            He seems to be doing that. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve heard about his leadership with Alcantara and Baez. We need it and he’s doing it.

      • cubtex

        Red Sox thought the same thing and they have been looking for a SS since Nomar. Castro is 24. Average Player? How many 24 year olds in baseball history have as many hits or performed as well? You act like guys like Castro are a dime a dozen. Far from it my friend.

        • Tony_H

          Nomar’s best days were in Boston and he spent the rest of his career getting hurt and no where near the level of production he put up in Boston.

          The SS they traded that they regret trading is Hanley Ramirez, except that turned out pretty well for them if memory serves me right.

          • cubtex

            still haven’t replace Nomar have they? And Boegarts hasn’t exactly lived up to his hype yet….has he? :)

          • Tony_H

            But keeping Nomar wouldn’t have replaced him either. Drew did very well last year 253/333/443/777 is pretty good at SS. World Series ring and all.

            I think Boegarts will turn it around.

          • cubtex

            another example about prospects. As was mentioned earlier…it is unrealistic to think Russell will be anywhere near as good a player as Castro. Hak Ju Lee was supposed to be a mistake to trade and how he would have been this upgrade over Castro etc etc etc

          • Tony_H

            Boegarts is 21 years old. I wouldn’t write him off already.

            I have no intention of trading Castro, but I still think that if we look out 5 years, Addison Russell is the SS. Castro could be at 2B, 3B or with another team. But I wouldn’t bring up Russell and move Castro to another position, Russell would go wherever to get in the lineup and earn his spot first.

            Lee was never an upgrade offensively, but defensively. But when he had his knee blew out last year, he may never be the same player again.

          • cubtex

            not writing off Boegarts but as been mentioned most all prospects struggle and very few live up to the hype. Look at Bryce Harper. One of the most highly touted prospects ever and he has struggled. There are very few Starlin Castros. Boegarts was ranked as a better prospect than Addison Russell. Doesn’t guarantee anything but that goes to show you.

          • Tony_H

            Injuries and being 21 is a bad mix. If it wasn’t for ridiculous new rules in FA, Drew would have been there all year and made it a lot easier on him being able to play 3B.

          • Theboardrider

            It’s great when a guy starts good immediately. But I think I almost prefer a guy that improves steadily. Start slow, adjust, get better every year. Kind of like Rizzo. Consistent improvement.

            Not how u start, how you finish.

          • SirGladiator

            I’d say the opposite, that it’s unrealistic to think that Castro will be anywhere near as good a player as Russell. This isn’t just another prospect, this is ‘the’ prospect, the best SS in the minor leagues, a guy who’s ready for the bigs right now (the main reason he isn’t in Chicago right now is because it would move Castro off short and hurt his trade value) . Gold Glove defense, high average with power, there’s a reason he was compared to Barry Larkin. Castro is good, but I’ve seen Castro, and I’ve seen Larkin, and Castro is no Barry Larkin :) .

          • cubtex

            And I have some prime South Texas real estate to sell you :)

          • Theboardrider

            He’s just saying what most professional baseball people say. What did you not like about Russell al those times you scouted him live? How did your analysis match up with Beane, Theo, and their staffs? Cause they all say what Sirgladiator said. What do you know about him they dont?

          • Theboardrider

            I do they why uou and others try to use Castro and his success to make other guys look bad or the prospects look bad? Those done follow. Castro is great, Rizzo is great, the prospects are the best in baseball and have our system ranked number 1. Likely they will be very good too.

            How is any of these facts mutually exclusive to any other? We’ve got stuff to be excited about all over the field and system.

          • Tony_H

            He will always downplay Cub prospects and players. If Russell was in Oakland still, he would use him as an example of what a real prospect looks like and how is better than all of our SS prospects. Now that he is in the Cubs system, not so good of a future anymore.

          • Theboardrider

            Yes, this whole Castro lovefest thread was puzzling to me. I love Castro too. He’s one of my favorite players. But somehow twisting him around as a way to make others look bad? There isn’t too much negative to say about the prospects. I hear people want to punish and laugh at Russell because people have made lofty predictions for him. An I don’t mean me, I mean baseball scouts and guys like Billy Beane. Billy Freaking Beane! Probably, the single most successful talent evaluator in baseball. One other guy who may give him a run for his money-but he’s more of the creative, delegate and dominate type…Theo Epstein. And both think Addison Russell is aces. Good enough for me. Well
            I see and read a lot of what those guys post, an just because they say something, often it’s not true or there guesses end of greatly missing the mark. Sorta like most all of us. But the Beane and Epstein guys? What do they know?

            Here’s how it makes sense to have approached this thread from the first post.

            “Castro is an amazing player. We are lucky to have him. Right now he’s our franchise guy and to trade him doesn’t make sense IMO. The prospects we have accumulated are incredible, and there’s a better than average chance that several of them will become stars, potentially even better than Castro. But he’s the proven deal and I don’t like any thought of trading him.”

            Something akin to that makes more sense and shows a better understanding of the big pitcher IMO and not just trying to say, “x,” is good, therefore “y,” is bad.

            Castro did hit from day one of his career. He took the league by storm. But then he took a “Coghlanesque,” swan dive into mediocrity for two years. He’s been better this season again. Although still had these long patches of poor play that can be concerning. To laugh at anyone who was concerned a couple weeks ago when his average dropped below .265 doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t hit for much power or OBP currently, so we have to live and die with his BA. It was a legitimate cause for concern, especially when you factor in that he has been very streaky this season and is coming off two poor seasons. He seems to be back now, and I hope is. And regardless he’s my guy and I’m sticking with him until we have such a plethora of banging talent we can afford to consider something else. Whih due to the outstanding surplus of prospects we have in the minors is a possibility, but by no means assured.

            And focusing in his career start and saying how it makes him so much better than others and “special,” is folly. He did come in the scene and raked for two years. Looked like next Ichiro. Then his bat disappeared for te next two seasons and he looked like he could end up a footnote. He also had many off field issues and shower a lack of maturity. Questions arose about his commitment and his lack of offseason training. Is he the next Jeter? Or Coghlan?

            Well now he seems to be back k his old self. Hitting very well, with some interludes of poor streaks mixed in. I think the best is still yet to come from him. But I wouldn’t mind going back an havjng his trajectory look more typical where year one and two were promising but not world-beating, then year 3 was special, and 4 even better, and 5 the best yet. Many prospects follow this path. Whih is better? Tough to say, some will prefer the shooting star who eventually shows those years weren’t a fluke but has the struggles many others initially have in year 3 &4. Others may prefer the typical guy that comes up, shows glimpses but struggles mightily too, ten seems to improve each season.

            I love Castro, he’s my guy. Until skmekne moves him off short with superior defense leave him there. But that’s my opinion. The FO, who are so often accused here of bungling and “poor roster management,” seems to agree with the folks that want Castro at SS no matter what. So there you have it. I hope Castro retires as a Cub. I enjoy his play, he seems like he’s a good dude that learned from youthful indescretion, special hitter for the most part, and he signed a team friendly long term contract at a young age. The last point alone, really endears him to me. Now too, he seems to be a clubhouse leader, and I love what I’m hearing about him mentoring the young Latin studs.

            Keep him, keep them. Stick to the plan. Acquire proven pitching through FA and buy low guys we can turn around (which had worked famously so far). And keep drafting quantity over quality and let’s find out who comes up eventually. Appears Johnson, Edwards, Black, Tseng, Cease, Steele, Underwood, Martinez, Pinyiero and a few others have TOr potential but are young. Stick to the plan. I think givjng up a rare talent like Castro, or Addison Russell, will prove to be regrettable.

          • Theboardrider

            I wouldn’t trade any of these bats that people with massive professional baseball accomplishments feel will be so special. For young arms tat are so frsgike and while impressive, likely t spend time on the DL.

            And I said draft quantity like we have. Because drafting pitching wuality is so risky. So far we are throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. And it appears tht at the lower levels, we now have as much potential pitching talent as any team in baseball. Some will get hurt. So stick with quantity. It appears to be working out well for us.

          • Theboardrider

            You my friend, are in the same page with most professional baseball people.

          • Theboardrider

            It’s not unrealistic. Castro is a great player. He will be for a long time. But it seems you have him confused with Cal Ripken or Derek Jeter. He’s so far not been a once a generation guy. He’s had 3 good years. 2 bad years.

            But really I should stop this. He’ a homegrown Cub and I love him. He does a ton more good than bad. Could be in HOF some day. But to say he is one if a kind or unreplacable. There are few players like that. I would say so far we don’t have any. We may coming up though.

          • Theboardrider

            But they did get a few rings.

          • Theboardrider

            Tough to use this century’s Red Sox as an example of what not to do.

          • Larry Schwimmer

            Don’t forget Tony…that despite Hanley Ramirez’s talent he spends a lot of time injured on the DL list.

            That’s another to appreciate Castro’s durability. He’d play all 162 games if it were up to him. I’m impressed at how motivated he is to improve. That’s what will change him into an even better hitting and fielding SS/

          • Tony_H

            Yes he does, but his first 5 years he played 150+ games 4 times and 142 in the 5th season. SS is pretty demanding and does take its toll after awhile.

          • Theboardrider

            I hope he does try to improve. I think he does. Just never seen him as a real student ofthe game. Or return season to season showing off the new skills he works on all offseason. I think he probably will work harder this offseason than in the past. Because of all the talent coming up. But til now it seems he’s mostly relied on naturally ability. Maturity will be good for him.

        • Theboardrider

          He’s a great player. Lucky to have him. Don’t trade him or any of the bats. Stick to plan. NY media doesn’t tell our FO what they should do.

    • Theboardrider

      I don’t remember anyone saying he’d go to .240. There was concern. Justifiably so.

      And yes, word is Addison is Barry Larkin with power. I believe the people that say t because they know their stuff

  • Jeffrey Rogers

    The Cubs are going to keep their best players / prospects and sign FA pitchers, IMO.

    The money saved on home grown position players and back of rotation starters will pay for #1 and #2 starters.

  • Tony_H

    I see a lineup that looks like this next year after Russell comes up.

    C Castillo
    1B Rizzo
    2B Baez
    SS Castro
    3B Russell
    LF Bryant
    CF Alcantara
    RF Soler

    After 2015, I could see a trade happening once all the SS are in the majors. But even then, I think they could trade from the next wave of prospects coming up versus this group. I also think once all the SS are in the majors and settled in, that we could see some shuffling of the positions. This could happen by days off and seeing how others look or when any one of them get hurt and need a little time off. But eventually I think the infield will lineup differently than how they first bring up these guys.

    • cubtex

      I think they need to mix in a veteran or 2 somewhere. Hopefully a proven guy in the OF. They need to trade one of those prospects for pitching and sign at least one other established position player. A CF leadoff contact guy would be great. Adam Eaton would be perfect for this team. .304 average .370 OBP with only 66 K’s in 414 PA. The Cubs need a guy like that.

      • Tony_H

        This isn’t Opening Day. Coghlan will be in LF and Ruggiano/Sweeney will likely cover RF. 3B is either Valbuena or Olt. I think if they add another vet to the Opening Day Lineup it will be at Catcher.

        You do love the White Sox!

        • cubtex

          I love what Hahn did. Eaton and Abreu added last year for Hector Santiago? Wow! Abreu hasn’t exactly slowed down has he?

          • Tony_H

            Abreu has been nothing short of amazing. But if his name was Rizzo, you would be saying wait until he does it again next year.

          • cubtex

            Abreu has never struggled. Rizzo struggled for 1 and a half years. Have you seen Abreu? He hits good pitching. He has 127 hits 29 2B 31 HR and 89 RBI with a .304 average. His numbers are amazing

          • Tony_H

            Yes, I actually watch games and have him on a fantasy team so I have followed his year pretty well.

          • Theboardrider

            He’s also 27 and played Cuban pro ball for 5 years when he got here. Can’t wait to see Rizzo at that age and experience level!

          • BillyFinT

            What is 5 years of Cuban “pro ball?” The level of play of Cuban league in general has been maybe single-A. We don’t really know because the National Series of Cuba is an amateur league that does not import players, while having total “player stick to where you live that’s where he plays.”

          • Theboardrider

            Well it’s good enough that they’re guys come here and often have Immediate success.

          • BillyFinT

            Not “often.” Most players from the Cuban Nationale didn’t have success. By percentage, players from the Japanese, real “pro league” have had more success. I’m trying to figure out “what it really is,” to say that the Cuban league is like another lower minor league. It’s like the Marlins calling up players from single A or AA to try to hit a jackpot.

          • Theboardrider

            I dunno. Just seems like a lot of their guys come here and excel. Pitchers and hitters. I’m sure not all will. But that’s one reason I’d like to see us sign Castillo.

          • BillyFinT

            There were I think 80 players from Cuba, who played organized ball there, of this Century. Only less than 20 made it to the Big league here.

            There are also Cuban players who dominated their National Series but couldn’t play as well elsewhere. Maya the pitcher who signed with the Nats here, and Alfredo Despaigne in Japan now. Just two examples on top of my head.

            Most Cuban players just aren’t that good enough to be everyday ML players. Just like most Minor league players aren’t. Not to say the Cubans aren’t good. But the requirement of discipline and command is different in higher level-league, if you want success.

          • Tony_H

            I think the success rate the last few years has been very high and is what Board is talking about.

          • BillyFinT

            Sure. This Century is 14 years; 2 out of 8 is high. Then you count the Japanese league comers, guys like Lewis, Vogelsong, Uehara, and on and on. How about the Korean league? Suddenly, it’s 8 out of 10.

            The Davenport translation (a sabermetric inspiration, not the end of such discussion) found the Cuban league single A. I’ve been watching int’l tourneys, and I agree. The Korean league is AA at best. Their “minor leaguers” are nowhere near AA, but their Big leaguers are interesting.

            The Japanese league, to my surprise, has been harder to translate, due to its nature. It’s like MLB, a pitcher’s league, but if you look at their BABIP and ISO, not really.

            Saber Rule of thumb: Pitcher’s League > Hitter’s League. Cuban hitter stats look celestial in their National Series… I digress.

            This original point was that you can’t say Abreu played 5 years of National Series so he’s better seasoned for MLB. It’s like saying you played 5 years of single A so you can play MLB right away.

            You “can,” but you’ll fall pretty fast and not playing regularly.

          • Theboardrider

            I get your point, and I appreciate your insight and sharing what you learned about it. That makes sense, that it’s about like A ball. But they did make it to finals of WBC a few years back. They’ve got talent. Cespedes, Soler, Abreu, Chapman, Fernandez, Puig, Hechevarria, K. Morales, D. Viciedo, Y. Escobar, Betancourt, L. Martin, E. Ramirez. Lots having success now, and more on horizon. Even these guys have room to improve. I expect Abreu will be even better next year, he’s an absolute stud and I’d take him over Puig. He’d put Rizzo on the bench if we had him now, but I think in 3-4 years Rizzo will be as good or better.

            The Cuban pro experience may not measure up. I accept that. But it is pro ball, so they learn certain aspects involved in being a pro. It’s different than college or HS, no matter where the league is. And there are good guys there. If every month you face a Fernandez or Chapman, you’re getting good experience. Better than in high school. College players here are probably better or at least as well prepared. But a guy like Rizzo came out of HS.

          • Theboardrider

            I think one of the biggest transitions is just being a pro athlete. No coach regulating you like in college or HS. Guys in other pro leagues have experience with that. I think many young players never make it to MLB because they don’t handle being a pro well, and thus never develop physically like those that adjust to pro life quickly.

          • BillyFinT

            No idea if we have enough info to claim it being A, higher, or lower–It’s not as good as Japan’s NPB–that’s the safest claim I can make. I don’t even know if the National Series rates as good as Mexico’s AAA. (I’ve avoided “pro” because they weren’t paid. Playing ball was not their job.)

            The best Cuban hitter of our generation is A.Despaigne. He’s at NPB right now. I’ll keep a close eye on him. The opening of their economy allows Cuban players to go abroad legally (aside from to the States; we are officially their enemy and vice versa). With more players going out, it will increase sample size (for a good compare of player talent, at least).

            If your “Good” means “playing pro ball good,” not ready to sustain a long ML season, then yea, I totally agree. It took Soler a few seasons in the Minor to translate his raw talents into baseball skills.

            Why, I don’t expect Abreu in the near future to perform as hyped this season. Regress to means. Noteworthy: Viciedo is a typical Cuban player. All talents, never developed the sills as good as advertised.

          • BillyFinT

            Please read my reply to Tony below (above?)… too much digression here. I was trying to est. which level to translate Cuban players, as opposed to the original point you brought up.

          • Theboardrider

            Gotcha…I’ll look for it. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

          • Theboardrider

            Yep they are! So are Rizzo’s! Loved that HR he hit two nights ago. That pitch ws so far in and low. Few guys would have made contact on it, let alone gotten that one out. I also love how he seems to do so well against the better pitchers in the league. Can’t wait to see what he does at Abreus age and experience level!

          • Theboardrider

            Abreu is 4 years older, and played in Cuban leagues for over 5 years. Plus international competition and World Baseball Classic.

          • Tony_H

            You always make this reference, over and over and over again like Santiago is a throw away nothing player.

            Yet this year he has done pretty well again.

            3.59 ERA 16 starts 21 games 1.24 WHIP

            Not bad for a 26 year old LH starter. I would have thought Hahn would have gotten more for such a young cost controlled LH starter.

      • Theboardrider

        Don’t trade any of those top bats yet. Any one or two of them could be our best player in a couple years. Or several of them.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Its an interesting, yet unrealistic lineup. At least for a any extended period of time. At some point in 2015 and for a little while – yes. Some of these prospects won’t make it. They will have to be tried and rooted out and then replaced and/or sent back down for work and be replaced.
      I think we will net better than the average success rate with these guys, yet I can’t see them all making it in the long run. AKA Junior Lake. A year ago we thought he was the bomb. Now where is he at?

      • Tony_H

        I never thought he was the bomb, he had far too many holes in his swing and a very unrefined approach. Our success rate will be pretty high with these guys, most would be the #1 player in a lot of systems.

        And I agree the chance that we see those guys all line up together is slim as injuries, trades, ineffectiveness can change things.

      • Theboardrider

        Some likely won’t make it. But it’s not a foregone conclusion. These aren’t average prospects. It’s conceivable that every single one does make it. But I’ll concede it’s not likely.

        I think this lineup is reasonable though. To me the biggest question marks are Baez, Soler and Alcantara. And two of them are already up! Bryant and Russell, to me, are both future studs. In 4 years, I predict they are the two best players on our team. Rizzo and Castro are already good and I think Rizzo especially has a lot of improvement ahead. Castro just needs to get consistent again. If he goes back to year 1 & 2 form, which I believe he will. Then he doesn’t need to improve much. That year 1 and 2 Castro is a future HOF level player.

        I do believe in Soler. I think he will be an absolute beast. Could end up the best of the bunch. But he’s also more hit or miss than Bryant or Russell.

        But if a couple don’t make it, we’ve got Hannemna, Schwarber, Catarini,

  • Tony_H

    Szczur is not in the Iowa Cubs lineup tonight and rumors are that he is on his way to Chicago.

    • Tony_H

      And some congratulatory tweets to Matt Szczur.

      Retweeted by Harry Pavlidis
      Kevin Wilson ‏@KWBaseball 20m

      Congrats to my man @superSZCZ4 on getting called up to the big leagues by the @Cubs today! #GoodBatting #MLB

      • Swish23

        ??????? makes zero sense. where will he play?. Ricky already has screwed up Alcantara moving him off the lead-ff spot; so he and Baez could see good pitches in front of Rizzo and Castro. If Soler is to be called up after the Iowa playoffs, then just do it now and let’s see what the kid can do.

        • Tony_H

          You really can’t hate every move with out working on it.

          He is here to be a backup OF. That is all he is really expected to be anyway. Think Reed Johnson. He makes the most sense out of all the options.

          Soler has just gone through a mini slump for the first time in the minors. Best to let him work through it in Iowa to see how he does.

        • Theboardrider

          Well Theo and his staff have proved pretty adept at this stuff over their long championship levels careers. Tend to give them benefit of the doubt don’t you

          • Tony_H

            No, he and many others don’t. Their first reaction is always negative.

    • cubtex

      good for him.

      • Tony_H

        I agree great person, who deserves a chance. I have been rooting for him.

        • TheWrongGuy


  • Tony_H

    Tommy Birch ‏@TommyBirch 5m
    Matt Szczur not at the park and not among the guys on the field stretching for batting practice. #Cubs #PCL #MiLB

  • Theboardrider

    Guess the Lake situation makes sense. I said we. Jumped to conclusions by saying “bad roster management.” Turns it we didn’t have a clear understanding and FO did.

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