Stay or go? Cubs prepared to start making decisions
September 26, 2012, 12:15 am
DENVER – The day after the season ends, the Cubs will gather for the postmortem.
Manager Dale Sveum will meet with team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer on Oct. 4 and analyze the anatomy of what could be a 100-loss season.
Whether or not the Cubs (59-95) hit triple digits – the anti-magic number is stuck at four after Tuesday’s 10-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies beneath the steady rain at Coors Field – the impressions have already been formed. They’ve begun identifying the keepers, the goners and the guys on the bubble.
“You have a really good idea,” Sveum said before a game that was called after a 48-minute delay in the seventh inning. “Now whatever we do in the wintertime is a different story of where we’re going to fill holes and that kind of thing. But you’ve definitely got a good idea of maybe the character of people, the pitch-ability (and) being able to repeat things.
“Does he still have a chance of making our team, or does he need to develop? I think we’ve seen enough of everybody for that.”
Then again, a new regime made quick judgments on Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu and pulled the trigger on the Ian Stewart trade last December. The two ex-Cubs went 5-for-7 with three runs scored and three RBI combined. They look like pieces for the Rockies, another team closing in on 100 losses.
So even if minds are made up, here are the quick hits: Sveum had seen enough of Chris Rusin by the fourth inning. The 25-year-old left-hander gave up six runs as his ERA soared to 7.30 in six big-league starts.
Dave Sappelt – who envisions himself as a Reed Johnson, fourth-outfielder type – has shown Sveum that he can hit the fastball and led off this game by hammering one into the left-field seats for his first home run in the majors.
In terms of player development, Sveum has spoken with Josh Vitters and Tony Campana and recommended that they play winter ball. Vitters is almost certainly ticketed to Triple-A Iowa next season, and it’s possible that the Cubs have already set most of their position players for next season.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see this on Opening Day 2013:
C: Welington Castillo
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Darwin Barney
SS: Starlin Castro
RF: David DeJesus
CF: Brett Jackson
LF: Alfonso Soriano
Third base remains a question mark – even though Sveum is high on Luis Valbuena – because Stewart didn’t benefit from a change of scenery or take advantage of what could have been a great opportunity. Stewart left the team to have wrist surgery and rehab from his home in North Carolina and looks like he’ll be non-tendered.
Colvin – who’s hitting .288 with 18 homers and 70 RBI – also could have used the fresh start and certainly benefits from playing at Coors Field.
LeMahieu should hit for average (.288), maybe not power (one homer), and has shown he’s a smooth defender at second base. One talent evaluator even thought he could eventually play third base at a Gold Glove level.
It’s easy to pick out one trade from the series of building blocks that Epstein and Hoyer have acquired – Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora – to design their “foundation for sustained success.”
There was a certain logic to the Stewart deal, as third basemen are extremely hard to find these days, and he was a former first-round pick who could put on a show during batting practice and make highlight-reel plays on defense.
But as Epstein said in spring training: “If you have the best evaluators, the best systems, the best people, the best decision-making process, the best you can hope to do is shift your odds for any given transaction from maybe 50/50 to like 53/47.”
At the deadline, the Cubs felt the risk was minimal in trading veteran left-hander Paul Maholm to the Atlanta Braves for Arodys Vizcaino, a 21-year-old prospect who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Vizcaino hasn’t thrown off a mound yet, but has been throwing on schedule and traveling with the team. Eventually, he should compete for a spot in the rotation. Whatever comes out of the end-of-season debriefings, this sounds like another move looking ahead to 2014 and beyond.
“He’s going to come into spring training probably ready to pitch, but it will be on a (plan),” Sveum said. “Definitely we’ll be babying him through everything. I’m sure his innings will be whatever next year – 100 innings – I don’t know the exact number we’re going to end up with. It’s not going to be a full, blow-out scale with him next year. He’s so young and everything you’re going to baby that situation as much as you can, and have him really, really ready for the next season.”
Tags: atlanta braves
, Theo Epstein
, Colorado Rockies
, Josh Vitters
, Chicago Cubs
, Starlin Castro
, Reed Johnson
, Tyler Colvin
, Brett Jackson
, Alfonso Soriano
, Paul Maholm
, David DeJesus
, Darwin Barney
, DJ LeMahieu
, Welington Castillo
, Anthony Rizzo
, Jed Hoyer
, Tony Campana
, arodys vizcaino
, Dave Sappelt
, dale sveum
, Jorge Soler
, Ian Stewart
, Chris Rusin
, Albert Almora
, Luis Valbuena