Tagged: Jake Fox

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

The Cubs are finally beginning to invest some real money into player development now that the Ricketts family has taken over as owners.  This is exciting news for me as a Cubs fan.  If you don’t think player development matters take a look at the New York Yankees.  Derek Jeter was a 1st round draft pick in 1992.  Mariano Rivera was signed as an amateur free agent in 1990.  Andy Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft.  Bernie Williams was signed as an amateur free agent in 1985.  Jorge Posada was drafted in the 24th round of the 1990 draft.  Those players helped form a dynasty in the mid to late 90s. 
 
The Cincinnati Reds are another example of player development paying off without the luxury of a large payroll for expensive free agents that your big market franchises have.  All Star first basemanJoey Votto, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft.  Jay Bruce was drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft.  Drew Stubbs was a 1st round pick in 2006.  Homer Bailey was a 1st round pick in the 2004 draft.  Johnny Cueto was signed as an amateur free agent in 2004 and Aroldis Chapman was singed as an amateur free agent in 2010.  These players were instrumental in helping the Reds to the playoffs in 2010 and should provide the Reds with a bright future.  The Reds also acquired some quality players through trades in Edinson VolquezBrandon Phillips and Scott Rolen
 
The Cubs have done so-so in the last 10 years in the amateur draft.  In 2001, we drafted Mark Prior in the 1st round, Ryan Theriot in the 3rd round, Sergio Mitre in the 7th round and Geovany Soto in the 11th round.  2002 wasn’t as kind though, but we did manage to draft Randy Wells as a catcher in the 38th round.  In 2003 Ryan Harvey was our 1st round pick and unfortunately he never worked out for us.  We also drafted Jake Fox in the 3rd round, Sean Marshall in the 6th round, Casey McGehee in the 10th round and Tim Lincecum in the 48th round but obviously he didn’t sign with us.  In 2004 our draft didn’t work out too well.  We drafted Mark Pawelek in the 1st round in 2005, but he never panned out.  In 2006 we drafted pretty well.  Tyler Colvin in the 1st, Jeff Samardzija in the 5th, Jeremy Papelbon in the 19th (Jonathan’s brother) and a few others that are still in our system working their way up.  2008 and 2009 seem to be decent drafts for us too, but time will tell.  Most importantly we need to draft well, sign amateur free agents like Carlos Marmol (1999) and develop these players better than we have done in the past.  Combine all of that with the ability to spend a lot of money and the Cubs will hopefully start winning on a regular basis and finally bring home a World Series Championship.

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Business of Baseball

With the winter meetings right around the corner I guess it’s a good time to talk some business.  The Chicago Cubs have a lot of work to do….mainly involving Milton Bradley.  It is my opinion, that the Cubs will try to deal Bradley starting next Monday.  I am halfway tempted to make the drive to Indy and tell Jim Hendry what I think.  Then again, I know I wouldn’t even get a chance to say hello to Jim or any other exec so I won’t waste my time. 

So, far the Cubs made a good move trading Heilman.  We need to trade Aaron Miles too while we are at it.  I have read that the Cubs may shop Jake Fox to some American League teams.  While I understand the business side of this I really like Fox and would love to see him playing for the Cubbies in 2010. 

The Cubs decided not to offer arbitration to Kevin Gregg, Chad Fox, Rich Harden and Reed Johnson.  While I love Reed Johnson I understand we have Tyler Colvin and Sam Fuld that could take over Johnson’s role with the team.  I would also like to see Harden back with the Cubs, but I know he will command more money than the Cubs will be willing to pay. 

The Cubs have a lot of work to do.  There are rumors about trading for Curtis Granderson.  I like Granderson a lot.  Yet, I don’t want to trade away too much young talent to get a guy that strikes out a ton and hits for a low average. 

Some of our minor leaguers that may attract interest from other teams are SS Starlin Castro, 3B Josh Vitters, P Andrew Cashner and P Blake Parker.  These are just a few of our young players that other teams may inquire about in any potential trades.  I would prefer not to trade any of them away personally, but if the right deal comes along……who knows?

 

Finally, the Braves and Phillies made some moves this week that I like.  The Braves signed Billy Wagner.  If he stays healthy the Braves will have an elite closer.  Meanwhile the Phils picked up Placido Polanco to play thirdbase.  Polanco will hit for a good average and play great defense while hardly ever striking out.  Good moves by both teams. Hopefully, the Cubs will make some good moves next week!

I’m Back….and Still Can’t Figure Out What The Cubs Were Thinking

It’s been almost 2 months since my last post.  I would like to say it was mainly due to laziness.  I don’t plan on taking any more breaks either.  But I will start back by trying to figure out why the Cubs brass did what they did last off-season. 

I just don’t understand what the Cubs were thinking last off-season.
They had a team that had just won 97 games in the regular season.  I
know there was pressure to “tweak” the roster so they could perform
better in the post-season, but the moves they made have backfired.
Jason Marquis, Mark DeRosa, Henry Blanco and Kerry Wood are all gone.
That may not seem like much, but it’s had a huge impact and I am going
to attempt to explain why. 

Jason Marquis may not put up dazzling numbers, but he gets the job done
every fifth day.  What I mean by that is he is one of those guys who
pitches and gives his team a chance to win almost every time out.  As of
today, he is 14-8 with a 3.47 ERA for the Colorado Rockies, who look
like they have a good chance to win the wild card.  Considering the Cubs
injuries to their starting rotation this season they sure could have
used him.  And it doesn’t hurt that the team he’s played for has made the
playoffs every season during his major league career.  But trading him
away for Luis Vizcaino was a mistake, especially considering the Cubs
don’t even have Vizcaino anymore. 
The Cubs also decided to trade away super-utility man, Mark DeRosa.
Not only was DeRosa capable of playing almost any position, but he did
it without complaining or letting it affect his hitting.  With the
injury to Aramis Ramirez this year, the Cubs really could have used
DeRosa at third base.  Or, DeRosa could be the starting second baseman
and Fox could play third when Aramis is out.  Or, DeRosa could play
leftfield or rightfield when needed.  He’s got a good bat and plays
solid defense wherever the you put him.  To make matters worse, he’s now
on the Cardinals.  I wish DeRosa the best, but I would love to have him
back in a Cubs uniform. 
The loss of Henry Blanco may not seem like much to most fans.  But to
me, it was a huge loss.  The Cubs let him get away via free agency last
off-season.  Here’s a guy that was a mentor to Geovany Soto.  Soto went
on to win the Rookie of the Year award and I would like to think that
Blanco was a factor in that.  Plus, he hit well when he did get to play
last season. 
Finally, the Cubs let go of Kerry Wood allowing him to sign with the
Cleveland Indians.  That made me mad.  I understood that baseball is a
business, but Wood had been with the Cubs since 1998.  As the Cubs first
round pick in the ’95 draft, Wood quickly became one of my favorite
Cubs.  While his career has been plagued with injuries, there is not
doubt that he possessed the talent to be a good starter early in his
career and a solid closer now.  So, the Cubs let him go and then go and
trade minor league Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg.  As much as I want Gregg
to succeed he hasn’t been consistent as the Cubs closer.  So, the way I
see it, the Cubs gave up Kerry Wood and Jose Ceda (and his 98mph
fastball) for Gregg.  Another move that hasn’t worked too well. 

Equally important is the chemistry the team had last year.  The loss of
these four guys wasn’t just a loss on the field but in the dugout,
bullpen and clubhouse.  There is no doubt that this year’s team does not
have the chemistry of the ’08 Cubs.  I believe that loss combined with
injuries to Soto, Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Reed Johnson and
Carlos Zambrano is the reason why the Cubs are struggling to stay above
.500. 
It will be interesting to see what moves the Cubs make the remainder of
this season and this upcoming off-season.  Will the Ricketts family give
Jim Hendry a blank check book?  Will Lou Piniella stick around for
another year or will Ryne Sandberg be the new Cub manager?  Will the
Cubs even finish this season over .500?   We’ll just have to wait and
see.

What Are the Cubs Going to Do?

The Cubs need a boost.  I don’t think there is any denying it.  We have had injuries this season to Aramis Ramirez, Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano and the list goes on and on.  Milton Bradley hasn’t hit well and neither has Soto.  Fontenot has been playing out of position at third since Aramis went on the DL and his hitting has suffered since moving to the other side of the infield.  The Cubs have brought up Bobby Scales, Andres Blanco and Jake Fox.  I say we keep Scales and Fox up and let go of Freel and Miles who are both on the DL.  Blanco is a great defender, but is not known for his hitting.  If he gets sent down it won’t bother me one bit. 

I still want the Cubs to acquire Jake Peavy.  I say we trade young Josh Vitters, pictured below, to obtain Peavy.   

Josh Vitters.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cubs will hopefully be active this summer before the trade deadline.  I want to get another stud pitcher.  Peavy is at the top of my list.  He may be the kind of guy that puts the Cubs over the top.  I would hate to lose Vitters in a deal, but I also understand that it would take a deal involving him to get Peavy.  I would be willing to make that sacrifice.

Bring up Jake Fox

Fox.jpgIt’s time the Cubs call up Jake Fox from Triple-A Iowa.  The man is on fire with the bat and the Cubs could use someone to spark their offense.  As of this post, Fox is hitting .423 with 17 homers in 149 at bats.  Put him in left field and let Soriano play second.  We need to do something in order to score more runs.  It is very aggravating that this team isn’t hitting right now.  Why in the world won’t the Cubs bring this kid up?  He is doing everything possible to earn his way onto the big league roster.  But as I have said many times in the past, I am not the GM.  Hendry and Sweet Lou are paid the big bucks to make these decisions.  Yet, I somehow don’t understand why they don’t bring him up.  We need something to happen soon. 

It’s going to be June soon and I imagine the trade rumors will start heating up soon.  I love it when they do.  I think it’s fun to speculate who’s gonna get traded and where they will go. Maybe the Cubs will do something big and land a stud pitcher or hitter.  I can dream!  

2009—The Year the Cubs Shine?

Ever since the 2003 collapse in the playoffs against the Florida Marlins, I have been waiting for the Cubs to return to the post season and win.  2007 and 2008 were great regular seasons followed by utter disappointment by getting swept out of the playoffs each season.  This year is different for me.  I am not as confident as I was last year.  I look at this current team and still see some holes that need to be filled.  However, I strongly believe that any issues the Cubs have this year will be taken care of once the sale of the team is finalized.  I am putting a lot of faith into Tom Ricketts, Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella and the players and other coaches.   Here’s my quick preview of what I think this year’s team has entering spring training.

The starters should look something like this to start the season:

C-Geovany Soto

1B-Derek Lee

2B-Mike Fontenot

3B-Aramis Ramirez

SS-Ryan Theriot

LF-Milton Bradley

CF-Kosuke Fukudome

RF-Alfonso Soriano

Here’s the bench:

Micah Hoffpauir-1B,LF,RF

Aaron Miles-2B, SS, 3B

Paul Bako-C

Reed Johnson-OF

Joey Gathright-OF

Jake Fox has a chance to make the team as a versatile player capable of playing 1B, 3B, C, LF and RF. 

Koyie Hill has a chance to make the team as a backup Catcher. 

Here’s a quick look at our pitchers:

Starters first.

Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly.

Guys that could start or come out of the bullpen.

Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and Aaron Heilman

Guys out of the pen.

Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Luis Vizcaino, Neal Cotts, and Kevin Hart. 

I am sure things will look a little different when the season starts, but I imagine the team will come out of spring training with a roster consisting of most of the players listed above.  A few will start the season at Iowa and hopefully get called up when needed.

Things look bright for 2009.  But we can always improve.  Go Cubs Go!