MESA, Ariz. -- Let’s take a closer look at the major events on Day 2 of full-squad workouts for the Chicago Cubs:
Popular base-stealer Tony Campana was moved to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two 17--year-old Venezuelan pitching prospects. It says a lot about how people felt about Campana that he got a bigger ovation at the Cubs Convention than two-time All-Star Starlin Castro, but that’s mostly because of his underdog persona that goes along with his size (5-8).
Analysis: Though it’s not a blockbuster of a trade, it does -- once again – indicate where the Cubs are in terms of their development. They aren’t done acquiring prospects. The Cubs brass knows Campana is a useful piece, but only for a contending team. He was a luxury the Cubs didn’t want to afford. And the Cubs have not hidden the fact they need pitching at all levels.
“We have a little depth in the outfield, we have less depth in pitching,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We’re happy we got two arms we like a lot for a guy that was designated for assignment.”
Hoyer pointed out one positive in the move.
“Those decisions are getting harder and harder,” he said. “Tony has value but as you get more and more good players on the 40-man roster you’re going to have to make harder decisions. I hope we have harder decisions ahead.”
The bottom line is the Cubs will need a Tony Campana when they’re ready to win, but as a 27-year-old specialist he wasn’t a priority.
Alfonso Soriano addressed reporters for the first time on Monday and, as usual, he did it with a smile on his face. He had a career year in 2012 -- both on offense and defense -- and though he’s owed $36 million he might make a good addition to a team that needs a slugger near the trade deadline. But he’d have to approve a deal. He said there are six or seven teams he will go to. One is obviously not the San Francisco Giants, to whom he rejected a trade last season.
Analysis: It sounded as if Soriano might have regretted turning down a trade to the eventual World Champion Giants last year, as he indicated on Monday he didn’t think the Giants were going to win it all. If the Cubs fall out of contention, expect a move to a Southern team, or one that plays inside. Another question might be how to explain that Soriano finally played good defense in left field after six mostly bad years out there?
“I had Dave McKay, a very good outfield coach, working hard with me in spring training,” Soriano said. “I see the difference, everyone sees the difference last year. I’m very proud how I played with my defense last year.”
That’s an indictment of every coach that came before McKay, mostly in the Jim Hendry era. But it’s also an indictment of Soriano. He claimed that’s the first time he had worked with an outfield coach. Did he seek out help and was denied? Was Mike Quade that bad of an outfield coach during Lou Piniella’s tenure? It’s too bad such a good season by Soriano in 2012 was wasted -- and that when the Cubs needed better defense out of him earlier in his career they didn’t get it.
Matt Garza's mild lat strain still isn’t considered serious, although that could change when the Cubs see the results of an upcoming MRI of the left side of his body. More than likely it’s simply something that will set him back in spring training.
Analysis: The injury itself isn’t necessarily the concern, it’s what comes afterwards. How much of a setback will it be for a pitcher already coming back from an elbow injury? And does this lead to other problems? What’s troubling is Garza made a point of saying he got his body in tip-top shape this winter, then 20 pitches into his first live batting practice session he goes down. Proceeding with caution certainly makes sense, but if he struggles with health or production this can be looked back on as the start of his problems. It’s too early to know if that will be the case.
Dale Sveum’s second annual spring training bunting tournament began on Monday with eight players advancing, including video guy Nate Halm. Halm won the play-in tournament featuring front office staff and now is competing against actual Cubs players. He beat pitcher Hector Rondon in Round 1.