Tagged: Josh Vitters

FUTURE AT THIRD BASE

The Chicago Cubs haven’t filled the hot corner since the departure of Aramis Ramirez.  We’ve used a platoon of Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom this year.  Valbuena is hitting .225 and Ransom .215 as of today.  Last year we used Valbuena, Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters.  Valbuena led those three players with a .219 average for 2012.  So, it’s pretty obvious we haven’t had much production at the hot corner.

However, the future at third is bright…..but who will it be.  Here’s some of our minor league players that could end up being our future at third.  

Josh Vitters will turn 24 later this month.  He was the third overall pick in 2007 out of high school.  He has been plagued with injuries this year and that really has hurt his chances despite hitting .289 in triple A Iowa.  Last year he had a successful year in Iowa batting .304 with 17 HRs before getting called up.  After he was called up, he struggled to hit big league pitching.  He finished with a .121 average in 99 at bats.  His best chance is to get healthy and have a strong spring training in 2014.  Even then I’m not sure if he is our long term answer.

Recently acquired Mike Olt, from the Texas Rangers, is next on the list.  He is exactly one year older than Vitters and will turn 25 on August 27th.  He was drafted in 2010 in the first round by Texas and has some amazing raw power and a good glove at the hot corner.  Unfortunately, he has not hit the ball well in the minors this season despite putting up great numbers in double A in 2012.  Supposedly, he has been battling a problem with his eyes that has contributed to his hitting woes this year.  I’m hoping this is true because he could be our starter at third next year.

Christian Villanueva, 22, is another third baseman that the Cubs acquired from the Texas Rangers last year.  He’s in double A Tennessee this year and has hit 14 homers in 404 at bats with a .260 average.  He shows quite a bit of promise, but is a little farther away than Vitters or Olt.

Next on this list is 20 year old Javier Baez.  He is currently playing shortstop but could projects as a power bat at the hot corner or a corner outfield slot.  He started the year at high A Daytona and earned a promotion to double A Tennessee.  He has unbelievable power and bat speed.  The 2011 first round pick by the Cubs has hit a combined 28 homers this year between Daytona and Tennessee.  He also possess the most speed of any of the players on this list.  One concern is his high strikeout rate.  That’s something he needs to work on.  Also, his glove at SS has been shaky.  He’s committed 38 errors so far this summer and that is another reason he could shift to third.  One thing is for certain though…..it’s his bat and unbelievable power that will get him to majors.

Finally, this year’s second overall pick is the last player on this list.  Kris Bryant, 21, is currently assigned to short season Boise.  He’s batting .292 in 48 at bats with 3 homers as of today.  He’s another power bat that could end up as a corner outfielder or stay put at third.  Either way, there is a lot of promise with Bryant.  Also, he won the Golden Spikes Award this year as the best amateur player in the country.  

So, there it is.  Vitters, Olt, Villanueva, Baez and Bryant.  One of these guys will hopefully be our future at third base and be a long term solution.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

What in the world is going on this season with Starlin Castro?  I have watched the Cubs enough this year and I believe our star short-stop looks lost at the plate and lackadaisical in the field.  I don’t know if Theo & Co. have tried to change his hitting approach in order to draw more walks or if he’s trying to hit homeruns everytime up or if pitchers have finally figured him out and he hasn’t adjusted.  Whatever the case is, I am very concerned with his performance this season at the plate.  His defense has always bothered me.  I believe he is capable of much better play in the field.  His errors occur on simple plays way too often.  Whatever his problems are I want him to correct them soon.

The Cubs minor league system has me excited.  It’s mainly Daytona and Kane County that have the most talent, but Tennessee has a couple of players as well.  The number of players I have bookmarked on http://www.milb.com  continues to grow.  Two of those players have been chosen for the Futures game.  Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler are the two guys.  There is also a fan vote that could put Javier Baez on the roster for the Futures game as well.  

Maybe the upcoming All-Star break will help Castro.  I think he could use some rest.  I imagine the next month Theo & Co. will be active.  Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, Matt Garza and several others could be traded.  It will be interesting to see who gets traded and who the Cubs call up.  I’m betting Josh Vitters will if he can stay healthy and so will Junior Lake.  

Well, we finish our series with the Brewers today and then travel to Seattle for some West Coast baseball.  I’ll be up late tomorrow night watching the game against the Mariners.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

I was surprised last week with the Cubs first round pick of Kris Bryant.  After the initial shock of not drafting a Jonathan Gray I was able to look at Bryant objectively.  I really like what I see.  I believe he is a perfect #4 hitter in any lineup.  He has tremendous power and his strikeout to walk rate this year impressed me.  I truly believe he will end up as a corner outfielder for the Cubs.

Here’s a sneak peek of what the Cubs lineup could look like in 2015.

Leading off in CF-Albert Almora

Batting second at SS-Starlin Castro

Hitting third at 1B-Anthony Rizzo

Batting cleanup in LF-Kris Bryant

Batting fifth in RF-Jorge Soler

Batting sixth at 3B-Javier Baez

Batting seventh at C-Welington Castillo

Batting eighth at 2B-Darwin Barney

That could be our lineup in the near future.  There are other players that did not make this list such as Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Dustin Geiger, Arismendy Alcantara and Daniel Vogelbach.  I think some of these names will be on the Cubs roster and could even be starters.  I also believe that some of these names will be used in future trades.

Any way I look at the Cubs future I get excited.  I think our lineup will be in place soon.  We still don’t have the pitching I think we need to order to win a World Series, but we are on our way.

MARCH MADNESS AND OTHER STUFF

The Cubs have begun to make cuts this week and the team is beginning to take shape.  We still have some battles going on for the starting rotation and bullpen along with bench player spots for the hitters.  We have two weeks to figure out who’s gonna stay and play and who’s being sent down or released.  

I was reading about trade rumors involving Chris Davis and to my disappointment the Cubs do not seem to be one of the teams interested in him right now.  I still say he would be a great power bat off the bench capable of playing both corner infield positions.  
Carlos Silva has been scouted by a few teams this spring.  For his sake, I hope he does get traded to a team that will allow him to start.  I don’t see him as a starter for the Cubs this year.  One idea I read about was Silva for Oliver Perez of the Mets.  I like that idea.  Perez would be a free agent after the season and he is a lefty.  We could use him in the bullpen and hopefully a fresh start with a new team would benefit him.  
I really like a lot of the talented young players the Cubs sent to their minor league camp this week.  Pitchers like Jay Jackson, Trey McNutt and Chris Carpenter along with hitters Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.  I think our minor league teams in Iowa and Tennessee will have good seasons with these players.  I think our starting pitching rotation at Iowa this year looks strong and I expect several of these guys to be pitching for the big league club soon.  
Finally, it’s March Madness and I’m excited.  I’ve filled out my brackets and I have the Kansas Jayhawks winning it all.  For the record, I filled out my picks before the President made his.  It just so happens he and I finally agree on something!  

MY THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY

This Albert Pujols deal is getting interesting.  I was listening to talk sports radio this morning and they were focusing on the idea that the Cards trade Pujols.  I don’t see that happening.  I believe the Cards will be able to sign him after the season if they are willing to meet most of his demands.  If for some reason he does not sign with the Cards then I see him signing with a National League.  I cannot imagine Albert going to the AL and having to be a DH even in the later stages of his career.  He’s too competitive and wants to be on the field at all times.

The Cubs’ Marlon Byrd is working with Victor Conte.  Remember him?  The guy from Balco labs that did jail time.  Byrd said he is not doing anything illegal and I believe him, but couldn’t he have found someone else?!?!  Sorry Marlon, but Conte isn’t someone I would want to be associated with. 

Jeff Samardzija is going to be a reliever this season.  No question about it.  The Cubs have enough guys competing for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation so Jeff will pitch out of the pen.  At least he knows what his role will be this season.  He’s out of options so if he doesn’t pitch well he may not stay with the Cubs. 

The Cubs traded minor league infielder, Tony Thomas, for 26 year old Robert Coello.  The former Red Sox minor league will probably start the year in Iowa and be called up in case of injury.  I believe he will be used as a starter in Iowa to start the season, but is also capable of coming out of the pen.  Personally, I didn’t care for this trade.

Josh Vitters needs to have a breakout season in 2011 or I fear he may become the next Ryan Harvey.  I will be keeping an eye on him and I really hope he stays healthy and hits like he’s capable of.

Finally, Keith Moreland will be taking the place of Ron Santo in the radio booth.  I am happy for Keith and believe he will do a great job. 

THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY

I am still having trouble with my internet provider which is beginning to tick me off.  I live out in the country and have limited options for “high-speed” internet without having to spend over $80 a month for service.  It sucks!!!!  So, while I have been able to read other blogs, I have not been able to post comments, nor have I had much success at writing posts myself.  I started a couple only to lose them after not being able to stay connected.  Anyway, enough crying about that. 

The Cubs look like they are going to sign Carlos Marmol to a 3 year extension from what I’ve read.  Great move!  The guy hasn’t been a pitcher that long and continues to get better every year.  Let’s hope this continues. 

Pitchers and Catchers are close to reporting, but several Cubs are already in Arizona.  Jeff Samardzija has been there for a while now and I am expecting a great spring from him.  I anticipate he will make a strong case to be in the rotation for the Cubs in 2011. 

I always like to think of trade ideas for the Cubs along with potential free agent signings.  I’ve already mentioned several times in other posts that we should trade for Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and possibly Michael Young from the Rangers.  I still want us to get Davis and O’Day, but I have a few knew trade ideas.

First player I have in mind is Justin Upton of the D’Backs.  This kid, he’s young folks, is a good player that oozes talent when he sweats.  I would love to see him added to our outfield of the future. 

Another player I would like to get is Kevin Kouzmanoff.  He’s got a great glove and I believe his bat would play well in Wrigley Field.  I know Aramis is getting older and I’m not sold on Josh Vitters as our future at third at this point.  I must point out though, that I am hopeful that Vitters turns the corner this season and breaks out with his bat. 

I wanted us to trade for Adrian Gonzalez this winter, but the Red Sox beat us out.  I guess we can sign Albert if he miraculously doesn’t stay with the redbirds.  While I am trying to be optimistic about the Carlos Pena signing this offseason I am also thinking of ways to upgrade for 2012. 

Finally, it’s almost Valentine’s Day.  I’m not big into holidays like this.  I don’t get holiday pay or off work and I end up having to spend a bunch of money on flowers and such.  Not that I mind it.  My wife is great!  But even before I met my wife, I’ve never been fond of this holiday.  The middle of February has always been about pitchers and catchers reporting!  That should be a holiday!!!!

A LITTLE CATCHING UP

My internet hasn’t worked right the last few days so, I haven’t been able to write any posts.  I guess I can blame it on the winter weather the midwest has experienced.  I didn’t even call my internet provider because I know they would probably give me some lame excuse.  Anyway, here’s a few thoughts I’ve had the last couple of days.

The Rangers are shopping Michael Young to the Rockies.  Why in the world won’t the Cubs make an offer?!  We could package Soriano, Jeff Baker or Blake DeWitt and Wellington Castillo for Michael Young, Chris Davis and Darren O’Day.  Soriano and Young each have bad contracts.  The Cubs would probably have to eat around $9 million of his contract during the final year of his deal, but it would be worth it to me.  It’s just a thought.

Blake DeWitt.  I read that Greg Maddux had a role in the Cubs acquiring DeWitt.  So, while I have been skeptical of DeWitt, I am willing to give him more of a chance.  I trust Maddux’s judgement.  I hope he’s right.

Carlos Marmol and the Cubs are working on a multiyear extension that will give our closer a substantial raise and avoid any more arbitration years.  I think we should do the same thing with Matt Garza and get both players locked up so we don’t have to go through this again with either of them any time soon. 

Aramis Ramirez is getting older as is probably playing for a contract this year.  (I don’t see the Cubs picking up his option for 2012)  I wonder if the Cubs will try to sign him to a multiyear deal after the season or will we let him walk?  Should we let him walk and hope Josh Vitters can replace him?  I think this summer will give us a better clue on what to do.

I’ve got more, but I wanted to get this post in before my internet stops working again.  I will leave with this thought……..WHY HAVEN’T THE CARDS SIGNED PUJOLS YET?  HE’S THE BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!