Tag:Andrew Cashner
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:27 pm
  •  
 

Spring primer: San Diego Padres

Bud Black

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Padres' offseason was dominated by their trade with the Reds -- sending starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including projected starting first baseman Yonder Alonso and former All-Star Edinson Volquez. In an attempt to find more offense, the Padres also added Carlos Quentin in a deal with the White Sox. The Padres know their problem is scoring runs, and now it's just trying to figure out how to get it.

Major additions: OF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez
Major departures: CL Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Aaron Harang

Probable lineup
1. Will Venable RF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Cameron Maybin CF
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Jason Bartlett SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Stauffer
2. Clayton Richard
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Cory Luebke
5. Dustin Moseley

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Huston Street
Set-up: Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher

Important bench players
OF Chris Denorfia, 1B Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, RP/PH Micah Owings

Prospects to watch
While the Latos trade is one that will be referenced throughout the season, the team could ultimately benefit more from last season's traded that sent reliever Mike Adams to Texas in return for right-hander Joe Wieland and left-hander Robbie Erlin. Both Wieland and Erlin are control pitchers with flyball tendencies that will benefit from the trade. Both starters project to benefit from pitching half their games at spacious Petco Park rather than at the bandbox in Texas. Wieland went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts at Double-A San Antonio after the trade, while Erlin was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six starts for the Padres' Texas League affiliate. Both could find themselves in the big leagues later this year.

Fantasy sleeper: Edinson Volquez
"Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Yonder Alonso
"There are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The offensive additions bring a jolt to the Padres, with Quentin leading the way. While Petco does play big, it's not as extreme against right-handed pull hitters and he has one of the best offensive seasons we've seen in Petco. Speaking of offense, Alonso's left-handed but his natural stroke leads to a ton of doubles and with Maybin on base more often, he scores easily on so many of Alonso's two-baggers. The pitching staff benefits from the park more than the offense hurts and once again an unheralded pitching staff dominates -- led by a finally healthy Volquez -- and leads San Diego to a surprising run at the National League West title.

Pessimistic outlook
It's the same old, same old -- decent pitching at home, but not enough runs. Without scoring runs, the team slogs through another season, losing more than 90 games again. But hey, they're still in San Diego, so it's not all that bad.

​​​​​For more baseball news, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook. Or ...


Follow us on Twitter @EyeOnBaseball.
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
 

Andrew Cashner throws rather hard

Andrew CashnerBy Dayn Perry

Andrew Cashner, the 25-year-old right-hander and former Cubs first-rounder who was dealt to the Padres this offseason as part of the Anthony Rizzo swap, may yet fulfill his substantial promise. He was legendarily stingy with the home run coming up through the minors, and he boasts a fairly devastating fastball-slider combo. And then there's this: on Sunday, Cashner had a relaxing, just-stretching-the-legs, easy-breezy sort of outing against the Mariners that consisted of (apologies for the forthcoming all-caps, but it's justified) THROWING 10 FOUR-SEAMERS THAT AVERAGED 102.2 MPH.

Once more for emphasis: Cashner threw 10 pitches in his first official spring outing and averaged comfortably better than 100 mph. He topped out at 103.3, a figure that can safely be called "Aroldissian." I don't normally resort to exclamation marks, but: !.

Velocity, of course, isn't everything and we're talking about a vanishingly small sample of pitches, but if this proves sustainable then Cashner is going to be something to behold in 2012.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:11 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:54 pm
 

Cubs, Padres exchange Cashner, Rizzo



By Matt Snyder


The Cubs have traded highly-touted pitcher Andrew Cashner along with outfielder Kyung-Min Na to the Padres for highly-touted first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Zach Cates, the clubs announced Friday.

This deal is very notable for two particular reasons. First of all, it's a continuation of both teams' complete offseason makeovers under new leadership. That is especially interesting in this particular trade, because the Padres have a new general manager specifically because the Cubs do. Once Theo Epstein took over as Cubs team president, he hired Padres GM Jed Hoyer to be the new Cubs GM.

The second interesting part of this trade is that both (main) players are guys who have been ranked as top 100 prospects in baseball and haven't yet had long enough stints in the majors to see what they're capable of in the long term.

Cubs, Padres offseason trades
Rizzo, 22, was the major piece in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, but new Padres' general manager Josh Byrnes seemed ready to move on from Rizzo after acquiring Yonder Alonso from the Reds in the Mat Latos trade.

“The acquisition of Yonder Alonso provided us the flexibility to make this trade and acquire a quality, young power arm in Andrew Cashner,” said Byrnes in a release. “We are happy to add a pitcher with the pedigree of Cashner and an outfielder with the athleticism of Na.”

Cashner, 25, was the Cubs' first-round pick in 2008. He's a hard-throwing right-hander. He won the Cubs' fifth starter job out of spring training last season, but injured his rotator cuff during his first start of the season and was unable to come back until September. On the season he had a 1.69 ERA and 0.66 WHIP with eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. It's worth noting that he's moving to Petco Park, one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors.

But questions remain. Can he really be a starter, or just a one-inning reliever? His rotator cuff issue last year worried some. And on a conference call Friday afternoon, Byrnes said Cashner will be a reliever in 2012. Perhaps an eighth-inning setup man for Huston Street, but Byrnes said he's not ready to anoint Cashner with that role just yet.

Rizzo hit .331/.404/.652 with 26 homers and 101 RBI in 93 Triple-A games last season, but struggled mightily in his 153 major-league plate appearances (.141/.281/.242). He certainly benefits from moving out of Petco Park and into Wrigley Field, of course. It's extremely unlikely the Cubs would trade Cashner for Rizzo and still make a run at Prince Fielder, so those rumors need to die now. As for any Bryan LaHair fans, we have good news. Hoyer said on a conference call that Rizzo will open the season in Triple-A and LaHair will be the first baseman on opening day.

As with Cashner, Rizzo has questions as well. Is his swing too long to be a star in the majors? What did Byrnes and other Padres' front-office people see that made them want to pounce on Alonso and deal Rizzo so quickly?

Still, for now at least, this deal seems to make a good deal of sense for two ballclubs trying to completely alter the franchise.

The other two players involved appear to be throw-ins. Cates, 22, was 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA and 1.36 WHIP last season in Class A. Na, 20, hit .268/.358/.312 with 20 stolen bases in 83 games across four levels last season -- with most of his time spent between Rookie Ball and Class A.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 10:14 am
 

Cubs' job attractive, future options plenty



By Matt Snyder


Congratulations, Theo Epstein, on likely landing the new gig of Cubs president, CEO, general manager, czar, savior, curse-breaker and deity. In addition to all those millions of dollars, you now inherit a mess of a franchise. The good news is that statement only exists in the present and very near future. Things can be cleaned up rather quickly. Here's why:

• It's funny to read all over the place about how the Cubs have so many awful contracts and are so much more handcuffed on payroll than Epstein is used to. The fact of the matter is that only Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol are signed past 2012, along with the young players who will still be under team control and don't make much. And then Marmol's contract expires after 2013. Depending on arbitration raises and possible extensions (Matt Garza, maybe?) the Cubs are shedding somewhere in the ballpark of $50 million from their 2011 payroll. Come 2013, as things currently stand, only $28.8 million is committed (to Soriano and Marmol). In 2014, only Soriano's absurd $19 million salary is still on the books, but by 2015, there's nothing left.

• My guess is it's true, for now, that Epstein is likely going to be told to not exceed a figure like $135 million with his payroll and that is a good amount less than the Red Sox's current figure. But here's the mitigating factor: The Cubs are in the NL Central, where they easily have the largest market and revenue stream in the division. In Boston, Epstein was trying to keep up financially with the mighty Yankees. In the Chicago, his biggest competitor in terms of market size is Houston -- which is departing for the AL soon -- and in terms of revenue stream it's St. Louis. The Cubs have the resources to be the "big boy" in the division, which wasn't possible for Epstein in Boston.

• Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has already shown a significant commitment to player development. The Cubs spent a huge amount of money on the 2011 draft and they are building a state of the art academy in the Dominican Republic. They are looking to make major upgrades to Arizona's spring training facility, which would serve as a type of home base for player development. The Cubs also have a great reputation for international scouting. Put simply, Ricketts has noticed the biggest problem for the Cubs has been a system that doesn't regularly churn out its own prospects and he has done everything he can to rectify that issue in the short term.

So, that's why the job was attractive, but there's no doubt there's a lot to be done. This is a team that went 71-91 and has a pretty lackluster level of talent in the upper levels of the minors -- not to mention the aging major-league roster.

As every franchise faces when trying to make a losing team into a winning team, there are three distinct routes that can be taken. Let's take a look at each and get specific.

Cubs/Red Sox drama
Route 1: The Complete Rebuild
Don't pick up the options for Ryan Dempster or Aramis Ramirez. Trade younger veterans of value like Geovany Soto, Sean Marshall and Matt Garza. Do whatever it takes to off-load Alfonso Soriano's contract. Do the same with Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Marmol and Marlon Byrd might land decent returns, so they would also be traded. Don't re-up with any veterans like Kerry Wood. Just completely revamp the entire farm system and build around Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner. Then tell everyone they need to be patient, as the goal is to grow the system from the foundation and start competing in 2014.

Chances this happens:
Decent to good, for at least part of this. Epstein very well may start completely slow and see how things pan out with several different young players. I do think he would keep Garza with Castro and Cashner and then start to pounce on free agents starting next offseason.

Route 2: The Chips to the Center of the Table
Re-up with Dempster and Ramirez. Do what it takes to sign Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson, including backloading deals to make the budget work. Move Starlin Castro to second base and sign Jose Reyes (again, backloading). Grab someone like Javier Vazquez, Chris Young or Joel Pineiro to fill out the rotation. That means the starting nine would be: Soto, Fielder, Castro, Reyes, Ramirez, Soriano, Byrd and probably Bryan LaHair. The starting rotation could be: Wilson, Garza, Dempster, Vazquez and Randy Wells. That leaves Andrew Cashner -- who is hitting triple digits on the radar gun in the Arizona Fall League -- to be the closer. Marmol can stay in the bullpen and hope to work on his control. Wood, Marshall and Jeff Samardzija would be the setup men.

Chances this happens:
Ridiculously slim. Actually, zero. Epstein isn't a moron and this would be absurd for the long-term health of the franchise, especially considering the team probably still wouldn't be good enough to win even an NLDS, if it made it. There's no depth, either, since the high levels of the minors don't have a lot of help coming. And could Epstein even get all those guys if he tried? Finally, the band-aid-on-a-broken-leg approach got Jim Hendry fired, so there's no way Tom Ricketts would hire Epstein to do the same thing.

Route 3: The Combination
I often chuckle when people think you absolutely have to choose either Route 1 or Route 2. In a small market, yes, you have to completely rebuild and hope all the young players get good at the same time, like the Royals appear to have happening in 2013 or 2014. In a large market, the resources are there to do both. Epstein developed the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia while also making trades for veterans and signing big-name free agents in Boston. It's a much bigger project this time around, but the goal can be to do something similar in Wrigley. While the farm system is being revamped for the Cubs, an effort can be made to start allowing the aging veterans to leave via free agency while players like Soto, Marshall, Marmol, and Dempster (with him, it's a one-year option and there will be enough money to retain him) can be kept around. Wood can be re-signed for another one-year, $1.5 million contract. And then you can fill holes with younger free agents. C.J. Wilson? Pass on him and keep your eyes on that 2013 pitching free agent class that could contain Matt Cain, John Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, James Shields and more. A 27-year-old Prince Fielder? Yes, please. The Reyes signing mentioned above, with moving Castro to second? Nope. Not now. Try Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija in the rotation? Yes and maybe. Give LaHair a shot in right field, absolutely. He had a huge 2011 season in both Triple-A and then hit the ball well in his short time in the majors. Do you think about promoting center-field prospect Brett Jackson and trading Byrd midseason? Sure, if the Cubs aren't in the race. The whole point is that, ideally, with this plan, you'd put a team together for 2012 that appears to be average, giving it the chance to overachieve and sneak into the playoffs -- but the eyes are certainly on 2013 being the turnaround year. From there, you strive to compete for the World Series title every ensuing season.

Chances this happens:
I feel like this is the most likely route. The main benefit is you don't completely punt 2012 after getting the fan base excited with the big-name hire. In the complete rebuild model, you're liable to lose 100 games and kill fan morale instead of capitalizing on all the excitement. And in the win now model, there just isn't enough there to bring it all together in one offseason. So here we are. Here, you can have a mildly successful 2012 season while getting the fans excited for a bright future. All the moves above are just examples of what can be done, as the plan can be the same but be done with totally different moves.

But this is all purely speculation -- and fun, as is all hypothetical talk -- as the only person who really knows what is going in on Epstein's head right now is Epstein himself.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:50 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago Cubs

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Chicago Cubs
Record: 70-90, 24 games back in NL Central
Manager: Mike Quade
Best hitter: Aramis Ramirez -- .306/.360/.506, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 79 R, 35 2B
Best pitcher: Matt Garza -- 9-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 189 K, 191 IP

After the 2008 season, the Cubs were in the middle of a bit of a golden era in the franchise. They had been division champions three times in a six-year span. That isn't saying much for a lot of teams, but this franchise hadn't had that kind of success since playing in the World Series four out of five seasons from 1906-1910. Alas, they were swept in the NLDS in 2008, despite having the best regular-season record in the National League, so general manager Jim Hendry decided to do some tinkering. The Cubs finished just five games over .500 in 2009 before coming in fifth place in 2010 and are currently in fifth again. And Hendry's out of a job, likely to be followed by Quade and some other coaches.

2011 SEASON RECAP

They were 9-8 and tied for first place after the first game of a doubleheader on April 20, but that was the high point in the standings. The Cubs would go on to lose six of seven games and never be a serious threat the rest of the way. They fell to 10 games back on June 4 and never got closer than nine back in the Central from that point forward. They actually moved up to fourth place September 19 for the first time since May 26, but the overwhelming majority of the season has been spent in fifth place, thanks to the lowly Astros. The biggest positives: Starlin Castro is well on his way to being a major-league star, Darwin Barney appears an adequate option at second base, Matt Garza had a good season, Sean Marshall is still great in middle-to-late inning relief and Jeff Samardzija finally doesn't look like a huge bust. The biggest negative is that this appears to be a badly flawed roster with not near enough help on the way from the minors.

2012 AUDIT

This is the toughest assignment of the R.I.P. series, because there's no way to know the direction of the ballclub until a new general manager is hired. The club is not immediately set up to compete, but there's a stipulation: With more than $50 million in payroll falling off before 2012 and even more off the books before '13, the Cubs could decide to be a major player in free agency. The franchise has enough money to grab, for example, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and still have money left over to bolster the bullpen and find a fill-in at third base. On the other hand, many would argue that still isn't enough to make the Cubs immediate contenders in the National League. If the new GM agrees, he might be more in favor of leaving the payroll low for a season or two while building the system with a youthful foundation before pouncing on big-name free agents to fill holes in 2013 or 2014. One thing that should scare fellow franchises in the NL Central if the Cubs choose to spend big in the near future, is that the Cubs are clear of all big contracts except Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol (and Matt Garza likely has a deal by then, too, I'd guess) prior to 2013 and Marmol's off after '13. They have the resources to be the Red Sox of the NL. It's just a matter of if the Cubs can put the correct plan in place, and that all comes down to who chairman Tom Ricketts hires as his next GM.

FREE AGENTS

Aramis Ramirez, 3B (mutual option)
Carlos Pena, 1B
Reed Johnson, OF
Ryan Dempster, SP (player option for '12)
John Grabow, RP
Jeff Samardzija, RP (club option for '12 and '13)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Where to even begin? This roster is a mess. First of all, I'd listen to offers for everyone except Starlin Castro. That doesn't mean you have to trade guys like Barney, Marshall or Soto, but you never know if the return might work with the game plan of the new GM. Let's sort through some of this and see what can be done short-term with the eyes on the future. My goal would be to contend in 2013. If it happens in 2012, that's just gravy.
  • Get Prince Fielder. He's 27 and incredibly durable (has never played less than 157 games in a full season). He'd then be the anchor for the Cubs for the foreseeable future, even if it takes a few years to build around him and Castro. Also of importance, if you bat Castro second and Fielder third, Castro's strike zone woes become less an issue (though he has walked more times than he's struck out in September, so it's getting better already).
  • Give Andrew Cashner one last shot to stay healthy in the rotation and also see if Samardzija can be successful as a starter. Having a rotation of Garza, Dempster, Randy Wells, Cashner and Samardzija won't be winning any championships, but Dempster is gone after 2012 and there'd be plenty of money to go after free agents. By then, they Cubs will know if they need just one guy or up to four with Garza. And the list of free agent starters after next season could have some big names -- assuming they aren't granted contract extensions -- like Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum and James Shields.
  • Read the riot act to Carlos Marmol. Considering the Cubs likely can't contend in 2012 and Marmol is signed through 2013, he has one year to fix himself. Marmol has blown an MLB-high 10 saves (he's tied with Jordan Walden). You can't count on closers to be perfect, but let's say Marmol only blew four saves, which is a very reasonable percentage. The Cubs would be 76-84, which isn't awful at all considering some of the injury issues and poor roster construction.
  • Give Bryan LaHair a shot in right field. LaHair is 28, so he's hardly a prospect, but it's possible he's a late bloomer like Ryan Ludwick or Jayson Werth. LaHair had 38 home runs, 109 RBI and a 1.070 OPS in 129 Triple-A games. He's hitting .309/.391/.545 in 19 games for the Cubs this season. Again, the eyes are on 2013 here, so if he flames out as many expect, you can address the position next offseason. But he's at least earned the chance to get an extended look in the bigs.
  • If the Cubs do fall out of contention in 2012, Marlon Byrd needs to be traded at the deadline and prospect Brett Jackson can then take over in center field. If Jackson is deemed ready earlier in the season and LaHair doesn't pan out, Byrd could be moved to right. 
  • I'd personally bring back Aramis Ramirez for two or three years, assuming the Cubs don't have to break the bank. The last thing they need is another albatross contract, so if he's demanding something like four years and $50 million, it's time to move on. But if it's reasonable, it makes sense to keep him. He's only 33 and has shown has can still swing the bat. He's got to have two to three years left of above-average production at third base. Prospect Josh Vitters had completely fallen off all prospect rankings prior to this season, but rebounded with a decent showing in Double-A this season (.283/.322/.448 with 14 homers, 81 RBI and 28 doubles) and he's still only 21. In two years, the Cubs will have an idea if he is going to be the next third baseman or not. If not, they can look outside the organziation or perhaps someone in the farm system will have emerged. Keeping Ramirez is a natural bridge to when it comes to that.
And there's a lot more, too, but those are the big ones.

The main thing here is the hire a new GM that puts the main focus on building the minor-league system. That way in a few years free agency won't be the only avenue to fill out a winning ballclub. Remember, people complain about the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies in free agency, but lots of players -- Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and several others were developed from within the respective systems. The Cubs have been terrible at developing their own in recent years and leaned on trades and free agency to bail them out. It needs to be a combination or everything will eventually fall apart like it did this season. From there, they can start to think about breaking a faux-curse and easing the pain of the legions of true fans.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 4, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Cubs unsure when Dempster will return

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan DempsterCubs starter Ryan Dempster was scratched from his team's Monday game against the Nationals with "intestinal issues" and manager Mike Quade seemed just as unsure about what was wrong with Dempster as when the right-hander would be able to make another start.

"It just seems like it's a product of his intestinal issues over the last couple of days," Quade told reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "I'm not smart enough to know that, but it's his whole [core] region."

Dempster was hospitalized on Saturday night, but released on Sunday. Dempster said he'd like to start again before the All-Star break, but Quade noted he'd like to see him throw off a mound before another start.

Casey Coleman started Monday's game for Dempster. 

With Dempster missing Monday's start, all five of the starters in the Cubs' rotation at the beginning of the season have missed at least one start. Carlos Zamrbano (back) and Andrew Cashner (shoulder) are currently on the disabled list. Ramon Ortiz will start in Zambrano's place Tuesday against the Nationals.

The 34-year-old Dempster is 5-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 18 starts.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 10:43 am
 

Pepper: Assessing chances of a K-Rod trade



By Evan Brunell

K-ROD TRADEABLE? For a while now, Francisco Rodriguez's $17.5 million vesting option has been seen as a major roadblock to any trade.

Rodriguez is a fine closer, but a $17.5 million figure for a closer is rather exorbitant, especially in recent years as the market for closers has appeared to plateau. K-Rod needs to finish at least 55 games for that option to vest, and he's at 18 through almost two full months. That puts him on pace to clear the threshold by the end of the year for New York, unless the Mets trade him first.

While Rodriguez could be traded to a setup role which would take care of that pesky games-finished requirement, reporter Andy Martino writes that his value as a closer may not be half-bad after all. He cites Rodriguez's dominant on-field play with his new personality off it, with Rodriguez demonstrating remorse for previous actions. It could be a good move for a team comfortable with trading for K-Rod to head up the ninth. It also helps that Rodriguez has expressed a willingness to tear up his current option and renegotiate a new deal.

Lost in this article is the bottom line: Rodriguez won't negotiate away his vesting option unless he stands to benefit by getting an extended contract from the team dealing for him. Helping matters is that K-Rod is willing to consider any team, even one of the 10 teams that are currently blocked thanks to a no-trade clause. But the bottom line remains: there's no reason for Rodriguez to tear up his 2012 option if he doesn't get something out of it. That kind of money over one season is well worth it to Rodriguez, who could then go get another big-money deal after 2012.

But working in favor of the Mets is Rodriguez's $3.5 million buyout. If New York agrees to fund the buyout -- which it must pay regardless of the option vesting -- other teams may change their perception of Rodriguez's value. Instead of digging into their pockets in free agency to sign the likes of Heath Bell and Jonathan Papebon, a team could address the K-Rod issue by having the Mets pick up $3.5 million at the trade deadline, giving the acquiring team one-and-a-half years of Rodriguez at a 2012 price of $14 million. Still hefty, but not outlandish and worth the price of doing business on a short deal. And as we've learned, short deals for closers is a smart route to go. (New York Daily News)

BOBBLEHEAD CURSE
: Sure, Omar Minaya was a pretty bad GM in New York and now Fred Wilpon is on a media blitz designed to tell his side of the story but is only complicating things more. And yet, what might be to blame are bobbleheads, part of a yearly giveaway. Previous bobblehead players have ended up injured or ineffective after garnering the honor. This year's recipient? Ike Davis, currently on the DL. (New York Times)

NO TROUT
: How tired do you think manager Mike Scioscia is of answering questions about 19-year-old prodigy Mike Trout? He continued to deflect any speculation that Trout would be called to the majors despite tearing up the minors and seeing L.A. limp along in left field with Alexi Amarista and Reggie Willits, although he did crack the door open for a promotion in a month. "I think that's a huge risk to take with a player with his upside," Scioscia said. "We see the growth in Mike. He's made an incredible amount of progress from last year to now. He's bridging that gap. Maybe in a month, this would be a different conversation, but right now, there's some growth he needs to be ready for that challenge of the major leagues." (Los Angeles Times)

WELLS ON MEND
: Angels left fielder Vernon Wells made progress in his return from a groin strain. He's not ahead of schedule, but underwent light agility drills and came away without complaint. (Los Angeles Times)

MY TURN: Mike Fontenot knows what groin strains feel like -- he just suffered one Thursday night that will probably get him on the 15-day DL. That's bad news for S.F., which already had a tattered left side of the infield. (San Francisco Chronicle)

RUNNER'S LUCK: The Giants also saw Darren Ford hobbled by a lateral sprain on his left ankle that will likely see the pinch-runner hit the DL. Bruce Bochy said there it would be "a longshot" for Brandon Belt to replace Ford on the roster. More likely is Ryan Rohlinger or Travis Ishikawa. (San Jose Mercury News)

STANTON'S BOMBS: Florida Marlins sluggger Mike Stanton is an attraction during batting practice these days. In San Francisco he drew applause from Giants fans as he launched home runs, including a standing ovation for a batting practice moonshot that went more than 500 feet. The applause quickly dissipated when he carried his home-run swing over into the game. (Palm Beach Post)

CASH IN THE BULLPEN
: When Andrew Cashner returns from his injury, bet on him moving into the bullpen. "When you miss a few months with an arm injury you cannot just go right back to pitching six innings or more when you return so I would think that he would be in the pen when he does come back this season," Cubs manager Jim Hendry said. If true, the Cubs are going to have to find another starting pitcher somewhere. They're so close in getting Casey Coleman out of the rotation, but still have Doug Davis to contend with, with only Coleman as depth. (CSNChicago.com)

SIZEMORE NEAR: Grady Sizemore has come through his rehab work so nicely that he may actually be activated the first game he is eligible for, which is Friday. His replacement on the major-league roster, Ezequiel Carrera, was seen shaking hands with teammates. Sizemore ran the bases prior to Wednesday's game and came through with no issues, putting him on track to be activated for the weekend series. (MLB.com)

BAD STEW: Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart pulled his hamstring in a game in Triple-A on Wednesday, so it looks like he will be out of action for a couple of weeks. Just another bad day in a line of bad days for Stewart this season. (Denver Post)

NO. 2: With the Mariners a surprising game under .500 and a weekend series with the Yankees coming up, Seattle needs to find a way to boost its offense if they hope to come away with a series win. How about batting Brendan Ryan, in the midst of a hot month, second in the order? (Seattle Times)

THOLE DIVE: In this day and age, if you mess up, you can bet everyone will soon be giggling at a .GIF of it. Josh Thole is no exception. (SB Nation)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com