Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cubs

One of the franchises I truly admire and been a fan of for my whole entire life is the Chicago Cubs. As we all know, the Cubs haven't won a world series since 1908 (105 years). But it hasn't been without trying. The Cubs have just been filled with bad luck and bad atmospheres. If you don't recall, the black cat running on the field, the Billy goat being brought to the game and the Steve Bartman incident. It's not like the Cubs have had bad players through the 105 years,the Cubs have actually a lot of good players, here's to name a few ... Ron Santo (RIP), Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson, Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. So, as you can see, the Cubs have had greats in their franchise. Even though the Cubs haven't won in forever, you still can't go wrong with them. I will never change from being a Cubs fan ever. Just NO! When the Chicago White Sox won the world series in 2005, I didn't even have the thought of changing over teams. Manly because I'm a die heart Cubs fan and I can't stand the White Sox. I know many people did switch over in the bandwagon and I was never ever going to be a trader.
                Well with the Cubs trying to find a new foundation, their strategy has completely changed. The Jim Hendry era finally ended almost 2 years ago and the Tom Ricketts era started a little bit before then.
                Before then, the Cubs were owned by the Chicago Tribune Company. At that time, the Cubs were trying to win by spending, spending and spending and trading away all prospects. That let to back-to-back sweeps in the 1st round of the playoffs. So, that didn't work out and a change was in need. Tom Ricketts decided to fire Jim Hendry in August of 2011 and revamp the whole front office. Mr. Ricketts "traded" for Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox and was signed to a 5-year contract worth around 18 million. Epstein's title with the Cubs is President of Baseball Operations. The Cubs sent relief pitcher Chris Carpenter and a low-tier prospect back to Boston. Crane Kenney, of whom was the original President of Baseball Operations stayed in the organization and switched over to President of Business Operations. Kenney is not a baseball guy and the move to the business side was much needed. When Epstein came over, he stole buddies Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod from the San Diego Padres. All of them were in Boston together. Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod were the big names brought over. However, Epstein brought in a dynasty front office when he came over. Epstein's plan was to build up scouting and build from within. And so the team can be a dynasty for years to come with all young players on the team. Epstein's only job is not just about the players its self, but he fires/hires the coaches and front office. Epstein is the final decision maker in most cases, but Hoyer is the General Manager and he more deals with the personnel on the field. Also, if money is involved - player contracts or if the Cubs have to eat money on a contract - Chairman Tom Ricketts will usually have the final word on that matter since it's his money in play.
                Since Theo and Co. has taken over the Cubs, the team has not looked great. In the 1st year under the new management, the Cubs lost 101 games. So far this year (2013), the Cubs have won of the worse records in baseball and aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Yes, the Cubs have to put players on the field and want to win because losing is not fun. However, that's not Epstein's main focus and his main focus is to build a foundation below. It's the Cubs time to go through the rebuilding phase and there will be hard times for a few more years, maybe more. Every team has to go through a rebuilding phase. Going through the rebuilding process is always a gamble as you can't always count on prospects - players in the minors. Players in the minors could have the best stats, get the call to the majors and completely leave a goose egg. Meaning the player was not the players the team though out to be. As he will be labeled a failed prospect. So, yes rebuilding is always a gamble, but if your plan works out, you will have a good team for a while.
                Now to look at the current state of the Cubs and what moves could be ahead of them. The Cubs are reportedly already open for business and ready to make deals (trades). The trade deadline is a month away (July 31st), so moves are on the way soon. If I was the General Manager of the Cubs, here are moves I would make or at least try to make:
                The Cubs do have trade chips and there will be trades made. Trade candidates consist of SP Matt Garza, SP Scott Feldman, SP/RP Carlos Villanueva, 3B Luis Valbuena, INF Cody Ransom, OF Nate Schierholtz, OF Scott Hairston, OF Alfonso Soriano, OF David DeJesus, RP Kevin Gregg and RP James Russell. Here's a more in-depth look at each player and there trade possibility:
SP Matt Garza: A Matt Garza trade is overdue and a trade would have been  made last year if he didn't injured his throwing arm. Garza was later shut down for the rest of the season and just returned about a month ago. As of late, Garza has been pitching great baseball and looks to be dealt soon. From reports, Garza will be the 1st big player traded this year. At first, I thought signing Garza to a team-friendly contract is the way to go. However, I don't think the same anymore. Garza pitched on Thursday and looked great in front of many scouts. At least 5 teams were in attendance at Garza's start. The Cubs will likely trade Garza as they will get a good offer for him, the Texas Rangers are the favorites. It's all a matter of time when Garza will be in fact traded.
SP Scott Feldman: Feldman was a signee in the off-season in preparation if he pitches great, he will be dealt in-season. Feldman has looked good all season and one of the surprises of the season. The Cubs signed Feldman to a 1-year contract in the off-season. Feldman will be traded, it's just a matter of when. In Feldman's last start, there was 12 teams scouting his start. There is a lot of interest in Feldman and why it's a guarantee he'll be traded.
SP/RP Carlos Villanueva: Villanueva would have been traded for sure if he was still starting. Since he's not starting anymore, he most likely won't be traded. Since his value dropped from the transition to the bullpen. When both or just one of Garza or Feldman is traded, Villanueva is most likely going back to the starting rotation. I see the Cubs keeping him until next year's trade deadline when he'll stay in the rotation the whole time.
3B Luis Valbuena: Valbuena is not your typical starting 3B, but he's come into his own. He has a good OBP and a good glove. He's not even hitting too bad this year either. Valbuena is a good stopgap 3B until a young prospect is ready. Manly you keep him because he's cheap and cost controllable. I'll be shocked if Valbuena is gone by the end of the season.
OF Nate Schierholtz: I'm 50/50 sold on if Schierholtz will be traded. He's a cheap body who has performed well. Plus he's a great defender and can play RF at Wrigley. There will be interest in Schierholtz at the deadline. If the Cubs can get value for Schierholtz, he will be traded, but if not, he will stay. If he does stay with the Cubs throughout the season, he's a possible re-signing in the off-season.
OF Scott Hairston: I'll be very shocked if Hairston is moved. He hasn't looked good all season and value is down. Plus, Hairston still has a year left on his contract. If the Cubs do move Hairston, they will get no significant return. Also, there are not many teams interested in him if any at all.
OF Alfonso Soriano: It seems like this is a yearly discussion ... will Soriano be traded or will he not? Soriano still has a year left on his contract after this year. He's owed 18 million next year and around 12 million this year. The Cubs will eat most of Soriano's contract if the Cubs can get value back for him. Soriano hasn't looked bad this season and was great last season. There will be interest in Soriano, it just depends on how much the other team is willing to offer for his service.
OF David DeJesus: I would have said DeJesus would have been traded a month ago. Since he's having a good season, he's a good defender, smart baseball guy and is a great clubhouse guy. But since DeJesus is out with a bummed shoulder , he won't go anywhere before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. However, he could be traded at the waiver deadline if a team puts in a claim for him and isn't blocked.
RP Kevin Gregg: The Cubs signed Gregg to a minor-league deal right after this season began. He has been very sharp, better in his 2nd stint with the Cubs over his 1st stint. Gregg will be traded and most likely right around the deadline. Teams have expressed interest in Gregg (ex. Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies) and why he will be traded, teams are always looking for bullpen help.
RP James Russell: I think there's a very slim chance Russell will be traded, but teams will call on Russell. The Cubs need relief pitching badly, so why trade a valuable young relief pitcher? That makes no sense and why he won't be traded. Especially since he's a RP and teams don't offer big value for a RP.
                Players the Cubs will not trade at any point of this season are Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Darwin Barney and Welington Castillo.
                Trading is one way the Cubs build a foundation below in the minors. Other ways the Cubs are doing so is by the player draft and International free agency.
                Since the Cubs have not been great in the recent years, they have had top picks in the draft. 3 years ago, the Cubs had a top 10 pick and went with high school shortstop Javier Baez. He's now playing for High-A Daytona Cubs and is the Cubs number 1 prospect. Baez started the season off very slow, but has picked it up as of late. Baez actually hit 4 home runs this year in a game for Daytona Cubs. The 4 home runs did come in High-A; however, it's still an accomplishment of its own. As of right now, the Cubs have a future shortstop in Starlin Castro and if/when Baez does make the majors, someone will have to be moved. There has been talk that Baez will move to 3B or Castro will move to 2nd. But that's all speculation right now and the move will be made when the time comes. In last year's draft, the Cubs selected another high school player and that was OF Albert Almora. Almora miss the beginning of this season with a broken hand. Almora is back in action and started off very well, hitting everything in his path. Since the fast start, Almora has slowed down a lot and is in a slump. He's currently playing for Low-A Kane County Cougars. Almora is currently the Cubs number 3 prospect. By season's end, Baez will be moved up to Double-A Tennessee Smokies and Almora will be moved up to High-A Daytona Cubs. The MLB just had this year's player draft on June 6th and the Cubs had the number 2 overall pick. The Cubs need pitching in the minors more than anything and many believed that's the way they would have gone. However, the Cubs went with 3B Kris Bryant. Bryant could have gone number 1 overall and is highly rated. He's listed as a 3B, but many people think he'll move to the outfield. The Cubs have yet to signed Bryant and reports just came out they both sides aren't close to a deal. But don't worry, the Cubs will sign Bryant and will most likely be a deadline deal. The Cubs wouldn't draft Bryant, if there was a chance he wasn't going to sign. When the Cubs do sign Bryant, he'll be in the Cubs top 5 prospect list. A matter of fact, the Cubs signed 9 of their top 10 prospects - the only player to not sign is Bryant in the top 10 picks. Drafting is a big part of the Cubs way now and is taken very serious.
                Another way the Cubs are making noise is from International free agency and overseas. The Cubs are in every country, trying to find the best prospect that could turn heads. The Cubs are known to be in Cuba and are well-respected. The Cubs signed Jorge Soler to a 9-year deal worth 30 million last summer and he's said to be a 5-tool prospect. He has a lot of pop, good defender and knows how to play the game. Many teams were interested in Soler, but he eventually picked the Cubs. He's currently playing for High-A Daytona Cubs, but it looks like he's done for the season with a stress fracture. He's currently the Cubs number 3 prospect, but looks like he will be the real deal. Cub fans can't wait until we see him at Wrigley. The Cubs have signed other Cuban Defectors, but Soler was the big name and some others have not worked out (Conception). The Cubs also seem to be on every player as well, if they sign the player or not. The Cubs were in on Yu Darvish (finish in top 3), but the Texas Rangers won the big by a long shot. The Cubs have been finishing in the top 3 of a lot of the big time players coming over to the USA (Puig, Cespedes). Tom Ricketts is willing to give Epstein all the money he wants to go after all the top International players. Soler has been the only big one the Cubs have signed, but there will be more on the way. Starlin Castro signed with the Cubs overseas when he was a teenager (16) and looked how that has worked out so far. There have also been smaller names that are opening eyes in the minors as well.
                If you are a big Cub fan, you would know the Cubs lack pitching in the minors. And why most of the players the Cubs focus in the draft is pitching. The Cubs may have a good pitcher in the making and that is Pierce Johnson, but he's still far away from the majors. When the Cubs do compete, they will most likely have to acquire a big-time pitcher as there are no top free agents out there. The pitcher will likely be the ace to go along with Samardzija, Jackson, Wood and possibly Johnson depending on timeframe. The Cubs will likely have to trade prospects for one and with the Cubs having a lot of top bats in the minors, they may be able to pull off a trade. David Price of the Tampa By Rays will be available and the Cubs are already linked to him. Price is just entering his prime and a player Epstein would be willing to add. Since he's a top pitcher in the league and has won the CY, he will cost and it all depends on if the Cubs would be willing to do so. I would only trade 1 of the top 3 prospects for Price and I would go with Baez. The other 2 seem to have a better chance to succeed (Almora, Soler). It would be more than Baez of course, but he will be the main piece going back to Tampa. That seems to be the plan of how the Cubs will land a top flight starter. However, that's still to be determine and if that Cubs will in fact pull off a trade like that.
                When the Cubs do sign Bryant, the Cubs are expected to finally have a top farm system. One analyst has the Cubs number 2 behind only the Minnesota Twins. If it's not number 2, they are in the top 5 of pretty much all of the other analysts ranking. That's a huge accomplishment for Theo and Co. because when the new front office came over, the Cubs were in the bottom of the pack of the minors.  Now if it all pans out and the Cubs top prospects do perform well, watch out and the Cubs will be on to their 1st world series champion since 1908. Let the riot in Chicago begin. That will be my happiest day of my life and I'll for sure be downtown right away!
                I know the assignment said, if you were GM what moves would you make. However, that's too difficult to predict as you don't know his value, market, how the prospects are rated on scouting reports and what players are available and not available. I've been writing Cub articles since I was 16 on a blog and I have done that before, but was too hard to predict. So, that's why I went this direction and what moves could be ahead of them and the chance from the Jim Hendry era to the Theo Epstein era.


Prediction: The Cubs will be competitive and have a chance to win the world series in 2015 and see a huge improvement in 2014!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taking Time Off...

I know I've very inactive as of the last 2 months or so, and I apologize. I just have been too busy as of late with school, work and other activities.

Instead of writing posts here and there, I decided to just take time off, until I'm not as busy. I love to write, but no time makes it hard. I had the blog for about 2-3 years and it has been fun.

When I have time, I will get back to writing more posts.

Thanks...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NO Dice-K for Fukudome Trade...

We heard a couple weeks back that the Cubs and Red Sox were talking about a trade that would send the Cubs Dice-K and the Red Sox Fukudome, per Phil Rogers. Now just yesterday Phil Rogers said this trade could be in the works. However, Peter Gammons shot down Rogers and said it's not happening.

This is from ESPNBoston.com
"Daisuke Matsuzaka’s name did not come up during the Chicago Cubs’ recent organizational meetings, according to a baseball source. That doesn’t preclude the possibility the Cubs and Red Sox had a conversation about him as part of a proposed deal for Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, as the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers reported Wednesday.

But it’s a deal that doesn’t make much sense. It’s understandable that the Cubs would seek to dump a bad contract in Fukudome, who is due to be paid $13.5 million in 2011. But Matsuzaka has two years left on his deal, at $10 million per, so if the Cubs are looking to free up some money for another move, like signing free agent Adam Dunn, a Fukudome-Matsuzaka swap has limited benefit."

I honestly wouldn't get this trade for the Cubs because it takes a spot in the rotation, Dice-K has one more year more than Kosuke on his contract and Dice-K has not pitched good as of late.

So, like the report said, I doubt this happens. I give it a 1% of happening.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quick Hits...

Here's the latest news and notes. Also, some rumors.

Aramis Ramirez excercised his 14.6M option yesterday. He still has to file the paperwork and that has to be turned in my Thursaday at Midnight.

Ryne Sandberg will leave the Cubs organization. He will look for other jobs out there. I hope for the best for Ryno!

The Cubs will remain in Mesa, after the Mesa voters voted to keep the Cubs.

Brett Jackson has been sent him from the AZL because of an infection. He had a good run and showed that he has what it takes to make the majors.

Cubs minor league pitcher Chris Carpetner could make the Cubs bullpen out of spring training. He has hit triple digits in the AZL.

The Cubs will add pitcher Chris Archer to the 40 man roster soon.

Xavier Nady is not expected to return next season.

Rumors:

Jim Hendry likes Nick Johnson and he could be a Cub, if his mkedical records are good. They will pursue him then.

The Cubs will have their eye on Kerry Wood to be apart of the pen next season.

The Cubs are expected to make a run for Adrian Gonzalez next season and XM radio says they have what it takes to get him. The Cubs will most likely have to depart with Vitters and JJ, among others.

That's it for now....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Player Profile: Jay Jackson...

Jay Jackson is a 23 year old pitcher, who the Cubs drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 draft. He has made his way through the Cubs minor leagues in a good pace, as he inches closer to making the majors. He's currently playing for the Iowa Cubs in Triple A. Who Ryne Sandberg was the manager. Will Sandberg be back in Triple A to coach him if he starts the 2011 season down there? Only time will tell us....but he was offer the position again. Jay Jackson started the 2010 season with Triple A, but as a reliever not a starter. However, he was switched to the rotation because Andrew Cashner went to the bullpen. But, Cashner is now a good pitcher for the Cubs bullpen.

Jay Jackson was alright last year, as he posted a 11-8 record with a 4.63era, 48 walks, 119 strikeouts in 157.1 innings pitched. As you can see, nothing spectacular but a decent year for him. I like his strikeout to walks ratio. Jackson has 4 or 5 pitches than he can throw for strikes and get outs. I think he will be a good pitcher in the Cubs rotation some day. When will that come? I don't know, but I expect next year some time.

I don't believe Jackson is playing winter ball because I have not seen stats on him or any news-notes on how he is doing. Maybe he just wants the time off from baseball and to relax. I think if he did play winter ball and he performs well, I think there would be a better chance for him to make the team out of spring training (Cubs).

Bruce Levine says Jay Jackson will make the Cubs sometime next season, if it's out of spring training or a mid-summer call-up. Member, we don't know because we have to see if Jim Hendry makes any moves to the starting rotation this winter (FA signings, trades, etc). Also, Ben Badler who writes for Baseball America heard from a scout that Jackson has a nice fastball with a nasty strikeout pitch.

Jackson is not considered a top prospect in all of baseball or even in the Cubs organization, but he has been recognize around the league. He has been in the rankings of the Cubs top 10 prospects, around the mid (4-7). Before the 2010 season, Baseball America had him ranked 98 in all of baseball. That's actually not too bad with everything into consideration. But, will he drop in the 2011 ranks? I think there is a good chance he will. The Cubs Reporter had Jackson ranked 6th in the Cubs organization and I have to agree with that rank. I think he fits right around their.

However, if the Cubs want a top tier pitcher like Zack Greinke, Jackon will most likely have to be included. But, I don't see that happening as Jim Hendry will be reluctant to trade top prospects and the price for Greinke will be too high. Will Greinke be in Cubbie blue to start the 2011 season? I say one out of a million. So, N0!

My prediction: He will make the Cubs during the 2011 season. I don't think he will make the club out of spring training because all 5 spots would be taken. However, I see him being a call-up because a pitcher is slumping, injured or traded. As for being a Cub down the road, I see him as a 3rd or 4th starter in the rotation and he could be one of the best. I just hope for the best for him and can't wait to see what he does this spring training.

Jay Jackson page: MILB.com
Jay Jackson page: Baseball-Reference.com

Do you think he will be a good pitcher and when do you think he will make the majors?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bruce Levine's Chat: 10/26...

I'm back! Now to Levine's chat recap. I will share information that I thought was interesting:

1) The Cubs will find out next Tuesday, if there 84M training facility will be approved in Mesa.

2) Adam Dunn is still the Cubs number 1 priority.

3) Kosuke Fukudome is likely to be traded.

4) The Cubs could look at Cliff Lee, but nothing major. Don't look for any legs on the Lee movement.

5) Levine does not even know how much the money the Cubs will have to spend on free agents this winter.

6) Levine states there's a good chance Hendry is gone after 2 years when Quade's contract is up.

7) Jim Hendry can probably fit Adam Dunn in, if Kosuke is traded.

8) The Cubs will have interest in bringing Kerry Wood back, but the Yanks are preparing a contract for him.

10) Levine thinks Brett Jackson and Jay Jackson will make the team sometime next year. While, Archer could be a summer call-up.

Next week I'll have his recap again. In the next few days, I will have another player profile; that will be Jay Jackson.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Player Profile: Josh Vitters....

Josh Vitters is a 21 year old third baseman, who the Cubs drafted in 2007 with the 3rd overall pick. He was 17 years old and was drafted out of high school. He's currently playing for Double A Tennessee Smokies in the Chicago Cubs minor league system. Vitters could be making the transition from third base to first base. As he is playing first base in the Arizona Fall League, but he is also third base too.

Vitters started off the 2010 season in the minors with High A Daytona posting a .291/.350/.445/.795 with 3hr and 13rbi in 28 games and 110 at-bats. Then, Vitters was called up to Double A and posted a .223/.292/.383/.676 with 7hr and 26rbi in 63 games and 206 at-bats. Before breaking his wrist and being out for the remainder of the season.

Vitters is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and he's not doing so well. The league pretty much just started and as of right now he's posting a .222/.211/.244/.655 with 1hr and 5rbi in 4 games and 18 at-bats. Like I already mention, he's playing third base and trying to make the transition to first base. He's trying to make the transition to first base because the Cubs ordered it. His stats don't look good in the AZL, but it's still early and he's coming off a bad wrist injury. Just give him time and hope he comes around.

Vitters was once the Cubs top rated prospect, before the top spot was taken over by 20 year old SS Starlin Castro. Who is now the Cubs starting SS. He was ranked number one in the Cubs system in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 he was ranked number two. He was ranked number 43 in 2008, 51 in 2009 and 70 in 2010 in the whole minor league system for all 30 MLB teams. That is all according to Baseball America.

Vitters has gone through his share of injuries. He has suffered two injuries, in which he missed significant time. That is one reason why he's on a setback from reaching the majors.

Also, Vitters might not even be a Cub when and if he makes the majors because he could be traded. Vitters has been in trade talks for the past 2-3 years, but general manager Jim Hendry was reluctant to trade him because of his potential. If Vitters would have been included, the Cubs would have either 2B Brian Roberts or P Jake Peavy. Josh Vitters was the deal breaker in both deals. But, Jim Hendry might be more open to trade him because of his struggles in the minors. With the recent news that the Royals will take offers for P Jack Greinke. The Cubs are expected to be a team after him and most likely will have to offer Vitters in a deal with more. So, will he be a Cub when he makes the majors? That question is still to be determine.

My Prediction: He will make the majors in 2012 as a first baseman. I think he will be a Cub because I don't see the Cubs acquiring Zack Greinke and the Cubs are more reluctant to trade young players. He will get an invite to spring training in 2011 to see how he produces. Vitters still has to work on his plate ability. He strikes out a good amount, swings at bad pitches and rarely walks. However, he does have ability as he has hr power and is a guy who can hit 3-5 in the batting order. I also think he will make the Cubs because the Cubs have no third baseman or first baseman in their minor league system are are not going to spend on players anymore.

Josh Vitters page: MILB.com
Josh Vitters page: Baseball-Reference.com

So, when do you see Josh Vitters making the majors? Do you even think Vitters will make the majors?