Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

MLB New Year’s resolutions: One 2019 Opening Day goal for every big league team

(From MLB Daily Dish, see the full article HERE.)

A new year brings new dreams for each of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Let’s take a look at one resolution each team should stick to for a healthy and happy new year.

Arizona DiamondbacksTrade Zach Greinke. May have to swallow some pride and eat that contract, but the Padres are on the up and the Rockies and Dodgers are not going anywhere. The Diamondbacks have to get back on track quickly, and if the cost is lower, plenty of teams would love Greinke.

Atlanta BravesGet a veteran starter. An ace would make this team frightening, but a solid presence like Sonny Gray — who has certainly had his share of ups and downs — would be grand for these young studs.

Baltimore OriolesScout some international players. They finally hired a leader in Koby Perez. The Orioles farm system is vastly improved, now it’s time to take the next step.

Boston Red SoxBattle back. The 2014 follow up to the Red Sox last title wasn’t so strong, but they did reach the ALDS in both 2008 and 2005. This team is loaded, but the window is small with a not-so-sexy farm system.

Chicago CubsFly the W. After what seemed an eternity of mediocracy, the Cubs have been one of the more consistent teams in the MLB with four-straight 90+ win seasons and that elusive World Series title. See the Red Sox: that window may be closing so may as well make one more run in a suddenly stacked division.

Chicago White SoxDon’t waste this farm system. And you can start by plugging Eloy Jimenezand his super human power into the Opening Day lineup.

Cleveland IndiansTrade Corey Kluber. His value is arguably higher than any other pitcher in baseball on the market, and let’s face it. The Indians can still win the AL Central without him while starting to get better for the future.

Colorado RockiesWin the NL West. The Rockies had one pitcher in Kyle Freeland with a sub-3.00 ERA, and another young gun in German Marquez post a 3.77 ERA. If Jon Gray can finally throw together a full season of greatness instead of small spurts, the Rockies may have their best pitching staff yet.

Detroit TigersLike you’ll see with the Royals below, it’s all about patience. The Tigers have an exciting top 15 for prospects, but they aren’t ready. With the demand for Nick Castellanos seemingly high, move him and make it an exciting top 20 prospect list.

Houston AstrosStop getting better. Come on, guys. You didn’t need Michael Brantley. Let the Athletics at least have a fighting chance.

Kansas City RoyalsBe patient. The Royals are arguably the most improved farm system in baseball and, much like the Braves, it is built on a lot of exciting young arms. It’s not going to be a fun 2019, and 2020 may not be much better, but it’s coming.

Los Angeles AngelsGet Mike Trout to the playoffs. Fifteen career plate appearances in the postseason isn’t fair to him or us. At the very least get him on some billboards on the East Coast.

Los Angeles DodgersWin a World Series (no, that is not a prediction). The only thing stopping the Dodgers from having the most dominant run over the past five years is the American League.

Miami MarlinsTrade J.T. Realmuto already. We’re all getting tired of the rumors and false leads, am I right?

Milwaukee BrewersClone Christian Yelich. Eight times. And if he can pitch, do it a ninth.

Minnesota TwinsSolve the Byron Buxton enigma. Either get it going or move on, we’re tired of waiting.

New York MetsShock the world. Well, they kind of did that with the hire of Brodie Van Wagenen, but the former agent has made some nice moves and has stood firm on holding on to his Big Three. If this team pulls off the turnaround they feel they can, plenty will be surprised.

New York YankeesSpend money. I mean really. Who are these guys?

Oakland A’s: Keep grinding. This was a fun team to root for last season. If that pitching staff comes back healthy, the Athletics could be better.

Philadelphia PhilliesAt least earn a Wild Card spot. This team has spent some money this offseason, and the likes of Andrew McCutchenJean Segura, and now David Robertson surely brought in some veteran moxie for this young squad. With the money they had to spend, the Phillies faithful are expecting some October baseball.

Pittsburgh PiratesIf the Mets don’t step up and shock the world, perhaps the young Pirates can. The outfield is exciting, the infield is fun, and the pitching is solid and likely only getting better if Mitch Keller can become the star most envision.

San Diego PadresCompete. The Padres have plenty of young, shiny pieces in place to be the 2018 Atlanta Braves. Let’s see it.

San Francisco GiantsWell, it’s an odd year, so we know there will be no magic by the bay. Maybe it is time to dangle Madison Bumgarner out there at the All Star break when the Giants are out of contention.

Seattle MarinersMake the playoffs. With all the facelifts this roster has had over the past few seasons in a “win-now” mode, wouldn’t it be great to see them make the Wild Card when they aren’t trying.

St. Louis CardinalsTake back the NL Central. This was Cardinals Country not long ago, and they’ve made some nice moves this offseason. I seem to remember them being pretty good when they had one of the best players at first base some time ago.

Tampa Bay RaysGet a new stadium. And this isn’t on these guys. What the Rays did last year was a fun story, now get them somewhere people will come actually watch.

Texas RangersDon’t be terrible. That’s quite the pitching staff, huh? When you bring in Globe Life Park’s park factors, there could be a lot of homers hit in Arlington in 2019.

Toronto Blue JaysMake Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. the Opening Day third baseman. Or DH. Or first baseman. Just get the guy on the field ASAP.

Washington NationalsWhat every Nationals fan wants. Bryce Harper or not, this team needs to win a playoff series, especially in an ever-improving NL East.

The Atlanta Braves Izzy Wilson homers again in Arizona Fall League action

(From Minor League Ball, please see the full article HERE)

Young hitters keep hitting and Peoria wins again. Good morning everyone and welcome to the Arizona Fall League Morning Roundup for Sunday, November 11.

Let’s take a look at how it went down Saturday in Arizona.

Continue reading The Atlanta Braves Izzy Wilson homers again in Arizona Fall League action

The Chicago Cubs Trevor Clifton: 2017 Prospect Watch

This is the time of year that it is fun to take a look that prospects who may make a big jump in the coming season. It’s not so much a time to question whether or not Eloy Jimenez will be baseball’s best prospect by the years end (which he will), nor is it a time to wonder if Brent Honeywell is actually the most exciting pitching prospect (which he is).

No, this is the time to look a little deeper in the farm systems at several guys who had a big 2016 and wonder if in fact they are for real, ready to make their presence known in the Top 100. Guys like those who I have looked at in the past, like Carson Kelly and Joe Jimenez who seem ready for the big break, and other guys like Cornelius Randolph who are still climbing the ladder.

So, who is the first in the 2017 Prospect Watch?

Keep reading for the first of my prospects to watch in 2017.

Go Cubs Go: Fly the W the Cubbies jump the goat

There’s a lot that can be said about last night’s World Series victory by the Chicago Cubs, some of which will be discussed right here in the upcoming days. We saw Theo Epstein cement his legacy as own of the greatest masterminds in MLB history, and for all those that thought Joe Maddon was the best skipper in baseball, even in a losing effort Terry Francona proved otherwise.

Ben Zobrist showed once again that he may in fact be the most under appreciated hitter of his generation. We saw two dynasties form, as both the Indians and Cubs have even more talent coming up the pipeline that neither should go away. And we saw for all the hype, for all the commotion over service time and Kris Bryant, he was worth the wait and everything advertised. He has surpassed Bryce Harper as the best young player in the National League in my eyes.

Last night wasn’t about Theo showing the world he was right in his rebuild. It wasn’t about the young Cubbies rising victorious. It was about Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg getting their due. And it was about Cubs fans, finally hearing the call they had long been waiting for from one of the most beloved voices in the history of the game.

Thank you Budweiser and the Cubs and Indians for showing Harper that he’s clueless. Baseball is fun again.

From Ryno to Rizzo: My life as a Cubs fan

(Note from the editor: Today’s World Series Preview isn’t a prediction special. It is a recollection of what 36 years of being a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan is like in the words of my brother Jonathan. Thank you to my brother, who not only took the time to put his emotions and make his writing debut, but remained loyal to the lovable losers for as long as he has. Go Cubs Go!)

Here we are, on the eve of the first World Series for the Chicago Cubs in 71 years.The Cubs last appearance in the World Series was just two months after the end of World War II for the United States. I, like most baseball fans growing up in my town, idolized No. 23 though I was cheering for Ryne Sandberg and the Chicago Cubs, not Don Mattingly of the Yankees.  People do not realize watching the Yankees dominance the past 15 years how difficult it is to make the playoffs consistently. Don Mattingly never made it to the World Series. Ryno, in his Hall of Fame career, made only two playoff appearances, 1984 and 1989. I was too young to understand the epic collapse of the ’84 team to the Padres or understand the significance of the loss to the Giants in ‘89.  Just imagine this for one second however, if the Cubs win the ‘89 series, Game 3 would have been played in Wrigley, not Candlestick, and thus the earthquake would not have impacted the World Series.  A different history would have been written. 

Continue on for life as a Cubs fan

The Chicago Cubs Dan Vogelbach awaiting his turn in Iowa [Interview]

Hitting has never been a problem for the Chicago Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach. He’s done it quite successfully since the day he was drafted. This year, it has been business as usual as Vogelbach is enjoying an All-Star season that saw him as the starting first baseman for the Pacific Coast League Wednesday night in Charlotte.

Onward to my interview with Voglebach

Ian Happ and Pierce Johnson showing depth of Chicago Cubs farm system

The Chicago Cubs witnessed a coming of age in 2015. Their highly acclaimed farm system saw the true rookie seasons of Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler as well as the debut of players like Carl Edwards. Somehow, the Cubs farm system is still deep and still quite elite.

While many people eagerly await the arrival of Albert Almora and the return of Duane Underwood, two former first round picks are starting to heat up on the farm for the Cubbies.

Ian Happ, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, 2B

Looking to follow in Bryant and Schwarber’s footsteps, Happ was selected as the Cubs next great hitter ninth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft. He came to the Cubs with quite the resume, posting a solid three-year career at Cincinnati and two strong All Star campaigns in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

Happ became known as a smart hitter with a good bat and plus base stealing ability. He real strength, however, showed great awareness of the strike zone. He posted an insane 116 strikeout to 128 walk ratio in 574 career collegiate at bats, and even led the Cape Cod League in walks in his second season with the Harwich Mariners. He also showed modest home run pop with great base path awareness, showing off the tools that could one day make him a perenial 20-20 threat.

The 21-year old switch-hitter has a balanced, compact swing that looks nearly identical from both sides of the plate. He plants his front foot moments before the pitch arrives and his bat moves quickly through the strike zone. The result is often good contact and surprising power.

Happ’s professional debut showed his ability to get on base (40 walks in 295 plate appearances or 14-percent) and his balance in power and speed, but may have shown more of the reality in his average. Whereas Happ was a lock to hit .320 yearly in college, his consistency in contact was down in his debut. While it isn’t necessarily fair to judge a 21-year old in his first small sample size, he may be more of a .280 to .300 hitter in the bigs, hitting .259 over two levels of A Ball last season.

This year, Happ is already swinging a hot bat. He is slashing .313/.450/.547 and is coming off of a week that saw him belt three home runs and drive in eight while walking nine times. He is a perfect 3-for-3 on the season in stolen bases, while striking out 18 times and walking 15. Of his 20 hits thus far, eight are for extra bases. Simply put, offensively there seemingly isn’t anything that Happ can not do well.

It looks as if he has permanently switched from the outfield to second base. He already has committed five errors in his first 14 games as a second baseman, but a learning curve can be expected. While it may slow his ascent to the Majors in the short term, it could accelerate his arrival to the big leagues in the long term. Happ wasn’t expected to see Chicago this season, but as Ben Zobrist isn’t getting any younger and Billy McKinneyand Albert Almora are on the pipeline in an already overcrowded outfield, a successful switch to second could see Happ’s MLB debut as early as next season.

Pierce Johnson, Iowa Cubs, RHP

While Duane Underwood has stolen the thunder as the Cubs top young arm on the farm, Pierce Johnson my be proving he is the most Major League ready. What has held Johnson back thus far is his injury history.

The 24-year old righty was selected 43rd overall by the Cubs in the 2012 Draft. While he has posted an impressive 2.47 ERA and 1.22 WHIP since then, he has also had serious question marks about his durability. He’s made only 62 starts entering this season (that’s a mere 15.5 a season), which hardly is reliable for future top of the rotation consideration. A lat strain was his most recent ailment, and it delayed his season nearly two months in 2015.

For more on Pierce Johnson’s arrival time and progress as well as video footage of both Happ and Johnson, head on over to Minor League Ball for the full article:

Cubs prospects Ian Happ, Pierce Johnson heat up

Dan Vogelbach and Christian Walker: two prospects searching for a home

(from Today’s Knuckleball)

The Chicago Cubs’ Dan Vogelbach and the Baltimore Orioles’ Christian Walker have a few similarities between them. They are (or at least were) both first baseman. They both have some nice pop in their bats. Unfortunately for both, neither of their big league ball clubs seem to have any room for them.

Keep reading for more on Vogelbach and Walker.