I do this every year. I come up with a “TO DO LIST” for the Cubs. Each year, I am a little ambitious in my list. This year, will be somewhat similar. So, let’s do this!
1. The Cubs need to hire a new manager. Some of the names that have been floated around are Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Mike Maddux and Manny Acta. I would prefer Mike Maddux, but I have a feeling the Cubs will go with Rick Renteria. Just think, we could have had Ryne Sandberg a couple of years ago, but Theo & Jed went with Dale Sveum. We see how that worked out!
2. The Cubs have a lot of holes on their roster. Free agency cannot fill all of them realistically. Yet, there are some potential moves that could happen.
Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-soo Choo are both viable options to sign and become our new leadoff hitter.
3. As much as I like Welington Castillo the idea of signing Brian McCann is enticing. His bat in the lineup as a catcher would be an upgrade. Yet, no matter if the Cubs make a big splash in free agency, we do not have the depth at pitching needed to compete with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central at this point and time.
4. Trade options. Trading for David Price would cost the farm…..literally! But it is an option. Heck, trade Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in a deal for him. I know it would take more than just those two, but it is a start. Don’t trade Javier Baez or Albert Almora though. Those two have too much talent to lose.
5. Stay patient and wait til our younger players arrive. Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant all have high ceilings and are not that far off from playing in the big leagues.
Basically, the Cubs have a lot of money available to spend. It’s hard to believe that the Cubs were 3rd in payroll in 2010 at just under $150 million. Since then the Cubs no longer have to pay the huge contracts for Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee. The farm system has been restocked with hitters at every level. Pitching is still a little bit thin, but it is improving. I truly believe the Cubs are not that far off from competing. But it’s going to take some work. The Cubs have too many holes to fill in free agency this off-season. I say let the young players earn their way to the big league roster and get their feet wet. Our infield could have Javier Baez at SS or 3B, Rizzo at 1B, Barney at 2B and Castro at SS or OF. The outfield could consist of Almora CF, Bryant LF or 3B and Soler in RF.
Whatever decisions are made I’m still a Cubs fan. First things first though. Let’s hire a manager. I want Maddux but am predicting Renteria.
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.
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.
Well, I was surprised to see the Cubs draft a hitter with the #2 overall pick. Kris Bryant has tremendous power and a great bat. He currently plays Third Base in college, but a lot of scouts feel he is better suited for First Base in the majors. Since the Astros drafted Mark Appel I guess the Cubs decided to draft Bryant. I have no problem with that….I’m just surprised.
The Cubs other Day 1 draft pick was a left handed pitcher out of Missouri named Rob Zastryzny. I like this pick a lot. I am a firm believer that the Cubs need arms. While our current starting pitchers are performing well, I want to build/draft for the long haul.
There will be more rounds today and it will be interesting to see what the Cubs do.
I’m hoping that Kris and Rob sign quickly and get started on their professional careers.