Coming off a 101-loss season, the Chicago Cubs could use any ray of hope available for 2013. One of the most obvious prospects is the arrival in the farm system of Cuban signee Jorge Soler, but fans shouldn’t necessarily expect to see him at the major league level this year.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, manager Dale Sveum suggested that the franchise is in no hurry to promote Soler. “Fast track? There’s no reason to do that,” Sveum commented, citing the almost-21-year-old’s lack of experience with top-level pitching.
Fans, like Sveum, are well aware of how badly the Cub lineup needs the kind of power threat that Soler has obvious potential to provide. Painful though it will be, though, both fans and team will be better served by waiting for the youngster to develop at his own pace.
It's entirely probable that Double-A is the highest Soler will rise this season, and that's just the way it should be.
The Chicago Cubs have made no secret of their interest in trading aging left fielder Alfonso Soriano as they reshape the roster for the future. Although the veteran slugger seems an ideal fit for a designated hitter role, at least one proposed trade would keep him in the National League.
According to CBS Sports, the Cubs have discussed sending Soriano to the Phillies in exchange for perennial outfield prospect Domonic Brown. In that scenario—which appears unlikely to go through—Chicago would foot the bill for $26 million of the $36 million still owed to Soriano.
For all that both teams have a stake in getting a deal done here—Chicago in unloading Soriano, Philly in getting a productive bat to protect Ryan Howard—this proposal is not the move that either team needs. The trade would likely do more harm than good for both teams if it turned into reality.
After a year in which no Chicago Cubs pitcher won more than nine games, it’s hardly a surprise that the team is looking to add starting pitching help this offseason. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re planning to dive into the multimillion-dollar Zack Greinke sweepstakes.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs are looking to continue last year’s approach of targeting bargain-priced free agents this offseason. The paper suggests that with the potential trade for Dan Haren having fallen through, the team’s top candidates include two more righthanders: Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy and Milwaukee’s Shaun Marcum.
All three pitchers have reasons to appeal to Cub management, though ex-Cub Haren—now a free agent after the Angels declined his option—is likely to be out of Chicago’s desired price range. Of the two more affordable starters, McCarthy appears to be the more encouraging prospect.
The Chicago Cubs’ 2012 season mercifully ended on Wednesday, leaving Cubs fans to do what they do best: hope for a better showing next year. On the plus side, the team’s late-season performance offered some obvious reasons for optimism, and even the youngsters who arrived with the September roster expansion showed flashes of productivity.
Here are the three most promising performances from the late-season arrivals:
1. Dave Sappelt can hit major league pitching now
He’s no Miguel Cabrera, but Sappelt improved dramatically over his shaky performance with the Reds in last September’s trial run. The pint-sized outfielder—nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” by Dusty Baker while in Cincy—hit .275 and slugged .449 in 26 games in a Cub uniform.
Those numbers added 30 points in batting and 130 in slugging to what he’d shown previously at the Major League level, making Sappelt a legitimate candidate for a reserve outfield spot next season. He’s not going to be a superstar, but every team needs solid utility players of the kind he looks ready to become.
2. Chris Rusin has the mental toughness to be a starter
As the Chicago Cubs’ 2012 season limps to a close, players such as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo have given fans good reason to look forward to the team’s future. If Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office want to maximize that future potential, though, they’ll make every effort to have Alfonso Soriano off the roster by Opening Day 2013.
As ESPN notes, the once-untradeable outfielder is finally far enough along in his exorbitant contract that the Cubs could pick up enough money to convince another team to acquire him. The network speculates that the Rays, Indians, Orioles and Athletics might all have an interest in adding Soriano if the price were right.
Obviously, if the Cubs do absorb a large chunk of Soriano’s contract, there won’t be much financial gain from shipping him out. However, his departure would free up a full-time spot in the outfield that could be used to develop a younger player—or more than one—whose impact on the Cubs’ long-term success would be vastly greater than that of the 36-year-old Soriano.