Baseball during the day is so very nice, even if it doesn’t count yet. Pierce Johnson takes the mound for the Cubs today as they open their home portion of the spring schedule. Here is how they will line up, I believe the game is on MLB.tv with a subscription, and Cubs.com has the audio.
- Fowler CF
- Zobrist 2B
- Heyward RF
- Baez 1B
- Victorino DH
- Russell SS
- La Stella 3B
- Ross C
- Perez LF
SP – Pierce Johnson
On a personal note, Pierce Johnson is one of my favorite players, rooting hard for him. Go Cubs!
It wasn’t the desired result for the Cubs but there were plenty of things to like in the Cubs spring training opener today against the Brewers. Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Richard, Rex Brothers, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Spencer Patton combined to four hit the Brewers while walking one, and striking out thirteen. The bats were slow to get going in this one as the Cubs group of hitters could only push across one run on seven hits. Javier Baez got the start in center today, and struggled in the early going. He played an out (maybe a double) into a triple right off the bat, then one hitter later he dropped a fly ball, it’ll get better.
Some of today’s standouts:
Well, it’s been an interesting last hour.
Dexter Fowler is a member of the Chicago Cubs, again. Earlier this week it was widely reported that the Cubs’ 2015 CF was signing a 3 year $33M deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Apparently that is not the case as Fowler has just signed a 1 year deal to return to the Cubs! Per Mark Gonzales Fowler will get $8M in 2016, and then there is a mutual option for $9M with a $5M buyout.
This news is coming on the heels of a trade that the Cubs announced earlier this morning. The Cubs have traded Chris Coghlan to Oakland for pitch Aaron Brooks, not the point guard for the Bulls. The outfield situation seems to be unfolding for the Cubs now and not later in spring. The acquisition (re?) of Fowler means that Heyward goes to RF which pushes Soler into LF, and that could be to share time with Schwarber out there when he is not catching. Crazy stuff going down right now, and I think the Cubs just got better, again.
Some of my best memories at this blog have been writing and reporting about the Cubs minor league system because of how good it has been. Leading up to last year it was really the only thing to get excited about as the Major League team was subpar at best. Now the Cubs are World Series favorites, and the prospect rankings are not as top heavy but the talent is apparent throughout. That’s part of what makes this year so fun, winning at the major league level and still seeing a tremendous amount of organizational talent in the system.
Here’s how MLB Pipeline breaks it down (link to the list)
- Gleyber Torres – SS
- Willson Contreras – C
- Ian Happ – 2B/OF
- Duane Underwood – RHP
- Albert Almora – OF
- Billy McKinney – OF
- Jeimer Candelario – 3B
- Dylan Cease – RHP
- Oscar de la Cruz – RHP
- Eloy Jimenez – OF
- Pierce Johnson – RHP
- Donnie Dewes – OF
- Bryan Hudson – LHP
- J. Wilson – OF
- Eddy Martinez – OF
- Carl Edwards Jr. – RHP
- Justin Steele – LHP
- Mark Zagunis – OF
- Ryan Williams – RHP
- Dan Vogelbach – 1B
- Trevor Clifton – RHP
- Jake Stinnett – RHP
- Carson Sands – LHP
- Jen-Ho Tseng – RHP
- Victor Caratini – C
- Christian Villanueva – 3B/1B
- Corey Black – RHP
- Jacob Hannemann – OF
- Brad Markey – RHP
- Josh Conway – RHP
I really can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to keep an eye on all the arms that are on this list. I really feel like there are a number of pitchers on this list that are close to making a major impact in the system, and eventually on the big league roster. Duane Underwood (#4), Pierce Johnson (#11), Carl Edwards Jr. (#16), and Ryan Williams (#19) all have a great chance to be pitching on the North Side this year. I mentioned that the prospects near the top of this list might not have the same allure as a Kris Bryant, or Anthony Rizzo but they are players who will be part of the next wave of big league talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if Willson Contreras (#2) sees time with the Cubs this year as the backup catcher, or splitting time with Montero/Schwarber depending on what day it is. Please don’t sleep on Albert Almora, a healthy 2016 will go a long way to seeing if he is indeed the CF of the future for the Cubs.
There are plenty of reasons why I love this time of year. The weather is starting to warm up (marginally), spring training is just kicking off, and fantasy baseball is emerging from its off-season hibernation.
If you are in to fantasy baseball then I suggest you keep reading because I will provide some knowledge from one of the best brains in the game, Mr. Bret Sayre from Baseball Prospectus; follow him on twitter @dynastyguru). Bret specifically focuses on dynasty league rankings so you can expect that these rankings were put together with the idea that you might be freezing/keeping these players after this year. Typically that could mean that a player with a better future ahead of him might be more valuable in the long run than a player expected to achieve greater success in 2016. That’s just a heads up as some of you might notice that these rankings could be a little different than your average run of the mill fantasy baseball rankings. Because this is a Cubs blog we are going to focus on where Bret has said Cubs in his rankings, get excited!
** Rankings listed next to player are the positional ranking, not overall player ranking. Notes about the ranking are my own.
2. Kyle Schwarber – All the way up to second, that’s pretty awesome. Obviously a popular topic is whether or not Schwarber will stick at catcher, regardless Schwarber should have eligibility at C heading into this year’s draft. If he does stick at catcher or at least has the eligibility there then his value is through the roof compared to if he was strictly an outfielder. His value would still be high, but you aren’t going to see the numbers he is going to put up from the position behind the plate typically.
14. Miguel Montero – Miggy falls just outside the normal range for your everyday starting catcher (typically top 10-12 are going to be your #1). It’s not a bad value for Miggy as he is still going to get a large amount of playing time in the middle of a lineup that looks to be very dangerous heading into 2016.
31. Willson Contreras – The Cubs number one prospect is getting some love from Bret and looks like someone to target late in drafts because of his future value behind the plate.
2. Anthony Rizzo – Only Paul Goldschmidt ranks ahead of Rizzo which seems reasonable giving how awesome that guy is. I love the ranking for Rizzo and it makes a lot of sense because he seems to be getting better with each season and now sits in the middle of a lineup that is ripe for production for the foreseeable future. Entering his age 26 season Rizzo looks to improve upon some gaudy numbers from last year, (38 doubles, 31 homers, 101 RBI, 17 stolen bases, 78 walks, 94 runs).
23. Dan Vogelbach – I’m not surprised that Vogelbach continues to receive favorable rankings in the dynasty leagues. The big man at first base is a threat across the board but he’ll probably have to find another team to play for in the National League, or move to the American League as first base/DH are his only options.
9. Javier Baez – Baez has always been an intriguing option but this year his value takes a bit of a hit because of the acquisition of Ben Zobrist and the versatile Cubs roster. That doesn’t mean that Baez is void of value, he made improvements to his game last year and has been rumored to play a little CF this year. The more time on the field the better for Baez and his owners moving forward.
18. Ben Zobrist – The newcomer to the Cubs has never really had a ton of value at one position because he is so versatile. Teaming up with Joe Maddon this year means that Zobrist will be utilized to his full potential wherever the Cubs skipper needs him. Because of that I expect him to be in the lineup the majority of time which will give Zobrist plenty of value to be drafted as a utility/bench guy this year.
32. Arismendy Alcantara – Yes, he does still exist! Alcantara has been floating around these lists for a few years and is kind of the forgotten man in the Cubs organization. He still has a World of talent but needs to prove he belongs on the field as the next wave of Cubs prospects are nipping at his heels.
2. Kris Bryant – Depending on what kind of league you play in Bryant might be the number one overall pick. No one in the game can match the pure power that he has, but he comes in on this list right behind Manny Machado. The fact that 2015 could be the bottom of the barrel in terms of production is enough to invest highly in Bryant as the cornerstone of your fantasy franchise.
34. Jeimer Candelario – The thing that has impressed me with Candelario is that he is a prospect that has seen a fair amount of failure only to learn from it and get better. Candelario has made some solid strides in the past year or so which gives him some value moving forward.
4. Addison Russell – I still contend that when it is all said and done Addison Russell might be the best of the bunch when it comes to the recent group of Cubs prospects. Russell does everything well, and flashed brilliance in 2015 before seeing his season end early in the playoffs due to an injury. I see no reason why Russell can’t get better with experience as he has shown the ability to make adjustments through his minor league career.
25. Gleyber Torres – Don’t look now but the Cubs have another shortstop that is making noise in the minors. Torres is the next big thing coming out of the Cubs’ system and he could be ready to make some sort of impact earlier than initially expected as he made it all the way to High-A Myrtle Beach last year as an 18 year old. Torres is definitely a guy that I would have no problem stashing in a minor league spot and waiting to see that investment pay off in a big way.
Once the full outfielder rankings, and pitching rankings are released I will put something similar together for you. Thanks for reading!
If it’s one thing that the Cubs organization likes doing it’s signing players that might be down on their luck, or just coming off bad seasons/injuries. The latest example of that philosophy happened today as the Cubs signed right handed relief pitcher Aaron Crow to a minor league deal. Crow (29) did some solid work out of the Royals bullpen from 2011 – 2013 before being acquired by the Miami Marlins. The ground ball specialist struggled in 2014, I would think a lot of that had to do with a drop in velocity, and subsequent Tommy John surgery.
Definitely a no lose situation here for the Cubs as they look to solidify their bullpen as camp opens. The bullpen battle is definitely something to keep an eye on as the spring progresses, there are a number of talented arms in said race. If Crow can prove to be healthy, and see an uptick in velocity then there is no reason to think that he won’t be a major player in the Cubs’ pen. Quite possibly at the back of the bullpen as well because you really can never have too many bullpen arms.
** Photo credit: Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America
Crow probably won’t be available until June.