The Arizona Fall League kicks off its season Tuesday afternoon and the Mesa Solar Sox open the 2014 fall league with a trip to Glendale to take on the Desert Dogs. Mesa’s first game begins at 2:35pm CDT (12:35pm MST).
Several of the Cubs tops prospects including Addison Russell, C.J. Edwards and Dan Vogelbach will spend the next six weeks in Arizona facing some of the best young talent in the game.
The Mesa Solar Sox play its home games in the AFL at Cubs Park and it was announced Monday that C.J. Edwards will start Thursday night’s game in Mesa against the Salt River Rafters.
Eight Cubs prospects are participating in the fall league and Ron Villone is one of the Solar Sox’s pitching coaches. Gerardo Concepcion, Zach Cates, Ivan Pineyro, Bijan Rademacher and Jacob Hannemann along with Russell, Edwards and Vogelbach are the players representing the Cubs in the AFL.
Previews of the position players and pitchers from the Cubs system can be read by clicking on the following links: Meet the Mesa Solar Sox: Position Players, Meet the Mesa Solar Sox: The Pitchers and Coaches.
The 2014 Arizona Fall League wraps up its regular season on Thursday, Nov. 13.
Hunter backed off the statements he made after Detroit was swept out of the playoffs and said he plans on playing next season. Levine thinks the Cubs should have a conversation with Hunter about being a part-time player for the Cubs.
Levine, like the report from ESPN Chicago, did not mention that Hunter has publicly stated that he would not sign with the Cubs because of the brick walls at Wrigley.
Torii Hunter might have changed his stance over the years. And if he has and is willing to spend one of his last years in the game providing veteran leadership to a young team, then the front office should have a conversation with Hunter and try to sign him.
Hector Rondon, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm and the Bullpen
Theo Epstein said last week that both Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm will stay in the bullpen. The Cubs have no plans of moving either of the one-time starters out of the relief roles they excelled at last season.
And if the front office would have listened to Chris Bosio, the Cubs would not have wasted the money on Jose Veras last year according to a report from the Tribune.
Chris Bosio thought Hector Rondon could handle the closer’s job after the way he pitched in the second half of the 2013 season. But the front office insisted on the team needing a veteran to close games and signed Jose Veras. Plus at the time he was signed the thought was the Cubs would be able to flip Veras for more young talent at the deadline.
Hector Rondon was better than good closing games, especially in the second half. Rondon was 18-for-19 in save opportunities after the break and in 29 appearances (29 innings) he gave up four runs, two earned, on 17 hits with two walks and 24 strikeouts (0.62 ERA, 0.66 WHIP).
The front office added a lefty reliever to the roster Monday in Joe Ortiz, but could still explore other left-handed relief options to give Rick Renteria another southpaw beside Wesley Wright next season.
Joe Ortiz and the 40-Man Roster
The Cubs have roster decisions looming. There are three players still listed on the 60-day DL and the Cubs will have to clear spots for OF Justin Ruggiano, OF Ryan Sweeney and RHP James McDonald. All three players are under team control for next season. Ruggiano and McDonald are arbitration eligible and Sweeney has one season remaining on the two-year contract he inked last fall.
Travis Wood, Luis Valbuena, Wesley Wright, Pedro Strop, John Baker, Chris Coghlan, Felix Doubront, Jake Arrieta and Welington Castillo are arbitration eligible for next season. Ryan Kalish will likely be designated for assignment and it is unclear how Chris Valaika fits into the Cubs plans moving forward. Brian Schlitter was one of his skipper’s favorite relievers during the season. Like Valaika, it is unclear what future the front office sees for Schlitter and Blake Parker with the Cubs.
The Cubs will gain a roster spot when Carlos Villanueva becomes a free agent immediately after the conclusion of the World Series. And the Cubs will have to decide whether or not to pick up club options for the 2015 season on Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyuji Fujikawa at some point after the World Series.
Around Major League Baseball
The Giants could not complete the sweep and there will be a fourth game in the NLDS between San Francisco and Washington. The Nationals capitalized on a bad decision by Madison Bumgarner, Bryce Harper launched a solo shot and the Nats outlasted San Francisco on Monday afternoon.
In St. Louis, the Cardinals took a two games to one lead with a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers. Matt Carpenter smacked another home run and a pinch-hit two-run shot by Kolten Wong in the seventh inning was the difference in the game.
News, Notes and Rumors
Kevin Encarnacion had three at bats in Monday’s intrasquad game in Mesa. Encarnacion “struck out twice and popped up to second base” according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Anthony Rizzo is trending up while both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are going the other way with their careers.
The Sun-Times posted early projections for Kris Bryant in 2015 at the big league level.
Jason Hammel is a potential free agent bargain according to Ken Davidoff. And Hammel could be an option for the Cubs this winter.
This Day In Cubstory
1984 – Cubs dropped game five of the National League Championship Series to the Padres 6-3 at Jack Murphy Stadium.
1945 – Hank Greenberg hit three doubles and led the Tigers to an 8-4 victory over the Cubs in game five of the World Series, Detroit took a 3-2 series lead.
1943 – Jose Cardenal, born
1939 – With two out and two on and the Cubs down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Hank Leiber hit a three-run homer at Wrigley as the Cubs beat the White Sox 5-3. The Cubs took a 3-1 lead in the City Series.
1935 – Cubs lost 4-3 to the Tigers in game six of the World Series in Detroit on a Goose Goslin single that plated Mickey Cochrane in the ninth inning. The Cubs dropped the series four games to two.
1934 – Sammy Drake, born
1904 – Chuck Klein, born