Chat with Jesse Rogers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Tuesday, Jesse Rogers stops by to chat about the Chicago Cubs' offseason.
Rogers joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.
Send your questions now and join Rogers Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Jesse Rogers (1:04 PM)
Hi all, welcome to our weekly Cubs chat from spring training. I was back in Chicago last week but now back in Az. where it is another perfect day for baseball. Cubs and Rockies will play at 3 pm CST. Players had their big meeting with their union this morning...Find out in a bit if anything interesting came out of that. Right now, fire away with questions as I watch workouts and BP in front of me
justin (singapore) [via mobile]
Are the cubs confident that Mike Olt can recover from the eye injury and make a big league impact in the next 2 years?
Jesse Rogers (1:06 PM)
I think they don't know. It sounds like he's alright and he does have a HR this spring. Wouldn't hit that if he's not seeing the ball, right? But he wasn't the main part of that trade, we know that so now maybe what they get from him is gravy in a way?? Not sure they look at it that way but until we really see him get his stroke back, it's wait and see. I still think he starts at AAA. I could be wrong.
Max (Hollywood, Fl)
chances of Cubs making the playoffs in the next three years?
Jesse Rogers (1:07 PM)
Not this year or next but sure by 2016 there is a chance..So many unknowns but assuming some slide back from Pitt and Cin., in particular, and progressin here, sure there's a chance. But ot in 2014 or 2015
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Jesse, Trade rumors going around that the Cubs Jeff Samardzija might be gone if another teams starter goes on the disable list while in spring training, what are the chances of happening before opening day?
Jesse Rogers (1:08 PM)
I still don't believe it will but it all depends on the desperation of the other team and little to do with the Cubs. If they get their asking price of a top prospect on the mound then they will pull the trigger. I also think a trade of him on the verge of the season will absolutely sink the clubhouse..From all indications a July deal seems so much more likely..but again if Atl. gets desperate..who knows. Nothing yet though as the Braves are just dealing with the news of their injuries, etc.
William (Chicago) [via mobile]
Just wondering why the Cubs organization or some of Chicago media does not talk about Vogelbach. Looks like he is very determined to get better and make the pro's. Any updates on him?
Jesse Rogers (1:10 PM)
I've talked to him but not written about him..Man, times have changed, people asking for updates on a Class A player. But I get it. I wrote about CJ Edwards. I know three things I can pass on: he lost a ton of weight, he's not moving off first base, he's probably not too long for the organization meaning he may never see Wrigley..Trade bait if he keeps hitting. I don't see any other possibility.
Adam (Rock Island, IL)
Outside of the core Soler, Almora, Baez, Bryant, etc.... Who would be some lower level prospects worth keeping an eye on this year, someone not on the radar?
Jesse Rogers (1:14 PM)
Hard to know what you consider lesser names, etc. Are they players not in major league camp or can I include some here? If so, I would give Eric Jokisch a shot at making some noise. I do like those AA pitchers that won a championship at A last year. Ivan Pineyro gets less pub than Edwards but keep an eye on him. As for the hitters, it seems like most people know the names, even the minor ones..
Phil (Frederick, MD)
Hi Jesse. Can you please compare Arismendy Alcantara and Starlin Castro in terms of skill sets and ceiling? Might they be considered somewhat interchangeable, with Alcantara being the cheaper option in the near term? I do realize they're on opposite sides of the bag, at least for now.
Jesse Rogers (1:16 PM)
Yeah, I think Castro is def more talented at the plate, def bigger and stronger...Maybe Alcantara will be the slicker fielder and I like the guy but in terms of potential I don't think it's better than Castro. But that's on paper...
Jokish has pitched really well so far this spring, is he projected to start the year in AAA? And what are the chances he makes the big league club this year?
Jesse Rogers (1:18 PM)
Once the season starts they'll call up whoever deserves it. Certainly, he and Hendricks are on that list...Neither is a sure thing -- as in their stuff is so good they can't miss so we have to see how they produce..But yeah, I've liked him more this spring than at any other time.
Jack (Chicago) [via mobile]
If Arrieta isn't ready by opening day, who do you think has the best shot at the 5th rotation spot? McDonald, Rusin, or other?
Jesse Rogers (1:19 PM)
I think Rusin might have the inside track right now. That's who I like.
Jeff L. (Des Moines, IA)
From what I hear, Mike Olt has been playing pretty well this spring. Do you think he opens the season as the starting 3rd baseman? I think it's the best thing for the organization if he can win the job and be productive in the majors at 3rd.
Jesse Rogers (1:21 PM)
He's been ok but he hasnt played a second of third base because of a bad shoulder. I don't know why they would hand him the job when everyone else has to "dominate" at AA and AAA, etc. He didn't do that last year. So no, I don't think he is going to win it but there are a few weeks left. Wouldn't mind seeing him actually play there.
Stephen (La Vergne, TN) [via mobile]
Really enjoy your work. The live chats are one of the highlights of my week. Thanks for all you do. Obviously Baez will start at AAA. Where do you feel Bryant, Almora, and Bryant will start???
Jesse Rogers (1:22 PM)
I documented that in a blog the week of the convention but will answer that here as well. It hasn't changed. Braynt and Soler will be at AA and Almora at high A, to start.
Are you surprised that Arismendy Alcantara is not getting more at-bats? I feel like the best case scenario for the Cubs would be for him to win the 2B job by the end of summer and move Baez to 3B.
Jesse Rogers (1:24 PM)
No, not surprised. Again, he has to dominate or at least be very good at AAA before being called up. Renteria is not going to give him more at-bats than anyone else. And soon he'll be sent to minor league camp. Patience everyone. We have no choice.
Will be making the trip to Vegas this weekend. Do you know who the Cubs will be sending? I saw Bryant as yes, and Castro as no, but any idea on some of the other names? Thanks!
Jesse Rogers (1:25 PM)
I'll know in about an hour. As soon as this chat is over and will post it in a blog.
Sagar (Lincoln Park)
Making my first ever trip to Cubs Spring training this weekend. Any restaurants you recommend checking out in the Scottsdale area?
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
Sure, there is a bunch. I like Bandera in Old Scottsdale. There's one in Chi on Michigan Ave. Don and Charlies is a famous baseball oriented place but I don't love it. It's a good scene though. Bud Selig, etc go there. And Goldman's Deli is the best. Steve Stone hangout
If Rizzo does in fact have a rebound year, is there anyone in the lineup who can offer him some protection? Also, if you had to guess now, who are the five starting pitchers for the Cubs on Opening Day?
Jesse Rogers (1:29 PM)
No real protection in the classic sense for Rizzo, no. Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Hammel, Rusin.
Chris (St. Charles )
What message was management trying to send by hiring Rick Renteria? As a fan, I look at him as being a member of a long line of dopey, ineffectual Cub managers ranging from Bayor, to Quade, to Sveum.
Jesse Rogers (1:30 PM)
Think he was hired with a specific talent: Communicating. Particualrly with young players. I see him much more hands on than Sveum. at least on paper that makes sense with a young team full of prospects. I don't know the long term results but right now I can see why they hired him for this team.
Tommy (Bloomington) [via mobile]
From everything I've heard, Kris Bryant is the most mature and MLB ready prospect the Cubs have. I've also heard he isn't expected in the big leagues until 2015 at the earliest. Is this true, or could you see Bryant make his way to Wrigley earlier?
Jesse Rogers (1:31 PM)
Unless he just goes nuts at both AA and AAA, next year sounds about right.
What is the deal with Logan Watkins? He had a cup of tea with the big league club last year but didn't get many at bats or time in the field. Whats the scouting reporton him? The word last year was that he was a good OBP guy but I never got to see him in action. How is his defense? Can he play multiple positions? Is he being crowded out by Olt, Bryant, Baez, Alcantara?
Jesse Rogers (1:33 PM)
Crowded out is a good way of putting it. I have no idea if he can cut it as a major league player/hitter but I know he hasn't gotten the chance. Maybe he can get on base 40% of the time, he's done it at other levels. But the bottom line is guys more talented and moving quicker through the system will prob get better chances than him. He might be a final roster spot type guy but that's about it, it looks like.
Jesse, Whats your favorite spot to eat at when your at Spring Training?
Jesse Rogers (1:35 PM)
Actually, it's a breakfast spotin Tempe which I don't get to go to often because we have early mornings here. Called Ncounter. Really good,eat outside at the foot of the ASU mountain.
What is happening with Josh Vitters? Does he have a shot to make the big league club this spring? Also, with Mike Olt playing the majority of time at 1st base, any chance the cubs will consider trying vitters again at 3rd base?
Jesse Rogers (1:36 PM)
No, Vitters is done at 3rd. He has a shot, though. I think they like the idea of a right handed back up to Rizzo so he doesn't have to face every tough lefty. Murphy could play over there but this gives Olt and Vitters a chance to be more versatile.
What is the asking price for Samardzija?
Jesse Rogers (1:36 PM)
Top pitching prospect(s)
Joe (Chicago) [via mobile]
Hey Jesse, How far along is Fujikawa? And if he is close to returning, who do you think at this point is most likely to get pushed out of the pen?
Jesse Rogers (1:38 PM)
Not that close. Still into May at least. Blake Parker could end up being an odd man out...
Chances of Bonicafio starting at second (he's looking good batting lead of) and Olt at third??? That would make Barney expendable and Theo could trade him.........
Jesse Rogers (1:40 PM)
Again, Olt hasn't played there yet and is hititng just ok so I don't see it. Barney is the starter going into April...I think early results will help determine things but Barney is going to start right now...Bonifacio will move around.
Hi Jesse, can you comment on the development of CJ Edwards and where the Cubs project him to start the year?
Jesse Rogers (1:41 PM)
Double-A. He's put on about 7-10 pounds since last year so that's a good thing. Could end the year at AAA
I plan on checking out a couple games starting friday. Will the core 4 still be there, or will they be re-assigned?
Jesse Rogers (1:42 PM)
I think they will all still be here. There's a chance Almora could be re-assigned but with a bunch of split squad games sat/sun/mon I think they need bodies and the big 4 are here...I think.
Scott (Boise, ID) [via mobile]
If the Cubs are not going to compete for two more seasons, at minimum, why did they ever pay $52 million for any FA? Seems that money should have been better spent on minors, rehabbing Wrigley or just banking it? Even if Jackson won the Cy Young, this team goes nowhere
Jesse Rogers (1:45 PM)
Probably a mistake but one I'm not sure why they made. At the time, maybe they thought they would be contending sooner and they saw the need for a pitcher down the line...Or maybe it was just about the innings he would eat up. They had nothing in 2012 after trades and maybe they just wanted reliability. In not so many words, they've admitted it was a premature signing.
Brad (Cedar Rapids, IA)
If I want to watch a Cubs minor league affiliate early this season, which should I choose and why? Daytona/Tennessee/Iowa?
Jesse Rogers (1:45 PM)
Tenn for sure. Best pitching prospects and Soler/Bryant
Paul (St. Louis)
Have you seen any Tiger scouts around to validate any interest in Nate?
Jesse Rogers (1:47 PM)
Yes, but that doesn't validate interest in Nate. There are scouts at every game. I mean, they don't even know when he's going to play so no one is making special trip to see Nate Schierholtz right now not knowing if he's in the lineup. All the scouts are here and in Fla and all make their rounds.
Tracy [via mobile]
If Castro has another sub-par year with another manager "communicating" with him, how far out of favor will he fall from the eyes of management?
Jesse Rogers (1:47 PM)
I say pretty far
Anthony(Oklahoma) [via mobile]
I get the sense Bonaficio will break camp on the "Cubs" 25 man roster. How likely is Darwin Barney to do the same?
Jesse Rogers (1:48 PM)
Both will make it.
Travis (South Elgin)
Jesse, have you seen Arodys Vizcaino throw much? I remember chatter at the beginning of the spring that he has the best stuff in camp, do you see him having a roll in the pen this season?
Jesse Rogers (1:48 PM)
Yeah but have a feeling he starts at AAA...
What grade would you give Epstein and the front office up to this point?
Jesse Rogers (1:49 PM)
I would give him an A in terms of making the best of a bad situation. That may pay off.
Who are you predicting to start opening day? Shark or Woods?
Jesse Rogers (1:50 PM)
I guess Shark but it should be Wood. Not a big deal but Wood deserves it. Of course you'll get the best out of Shark if he pitches in Game 1 instead of non-descript Game 2
Watkins' ceiling is also likely as a utility player. He could be a good one, but on a good team he isn't an everyday starter. I wouldn't be surprised if he's called up to take that role once some of Valbuena/Murphy/Barney/Bonifacio are traded (my guess is 2-3 of them will be traded this season).
Jesse Rogers (1:52 PM)
Yeah, makes sense. But I could see him not liking not getting a real chance. I guess for some guys they just have to carve out their place and if it's as a starter it'll happen eventually. Others will falter or he'll just play his way into it. I don't disagree with you, maybe he's destined to be a back-up.
Is there a competition between the top prospects with respect to when they get to the majors? Given the supposed amount of talent in the system, some of them might be left out if they don't claim a spot first.
Jesse Rogers (1:54 PM)
It doesn't seem like it. One thing I've learned about baseball players is they are so focused on mastering the game (batting, pitching, etc.) that those other things truly do take care of themselves. It is such a hard game. Failure happens more often than success and the moment they focus on someone else they lose sight of things. Do they have fun with it? Maybe but not in open.
If service time weren't an issue, would the Cubs just play some of their younger guys in the majors right now? What's the harm in giving Baez, Bryant, etc. a shot at the majors? If they can't handle it, then send them back down. There is no way to prove that rushing players hurts them, because you can never tell if you promote slowly, that they would perform better.
Jesse Rogers (1:55 PM)
Makes a lot of sense. Hard to argue against it. But I guess you can ruin a player. He can lose confidence, etc. But I would like to see this team if service time wasn't an issue. Obviously, guys would be up quicker. But I do undertsand no one has ever been ruined (I assume) with more time in the minors as opposed to less. Works that way too.
Everyone keeps wanting Castro to hit for more power. That idea seemed to kill him last year. Are the Cubs changing their focus with him to accept that he should be more like Mark Grace and less like Ryne Sandberg?
Jesse Rogers (1:56 PM)
I think they are letting him be whatever he will be. Maybe the power will come more naturally as Theo said at the end of last year. I think they realized if worse he is, is "just" a 200 hit guy then that's ok.
We have all these ridiculous position player prospects, but what on earth does management plan to do with pitching? Seems to me banking on only CJ Edwards will not be a recipe for success...
Jesse Rogers (1:56 PM)
They will trade and/or sign pitching for sure. 100 percent.
Why don't the Cubs sign Samardzija to a long term deal? Is he asking for a top 5 pitcher in the league deal?? If he is top 10, why not pay him??
Jesse Rogers (1:58 PM)
He is asking for near-ace type money. They don't feel he's proven to be that type of guy. Simple as that. I say pay him too.
Jed Hoyer said that the Cubs minor league system was among the worst in baseball when he arrived, but they had Alcantara, Baez, Cashner (traded for Rizzo), Lake, and Castillo, plus more...that isn't that bad. BTW, 5 years to rebuild a big market team is ridiculous.
Jesse Rogers (2:03 PM)
I'll address that last point. It's the biggest myth of this whole thing. REBUILDING in a big market takes as long as anywhere else except maybe at the very end when you can add using $$. Having money is the advantage of being a big market team right? You don't rebuild by buying 31-year olds. By definition, rebuilding is with young players. You acquire those by drafting high and flipping vets as they've done. RE-TOOLING is diff. That's trying to keep a core together while adding to it AND flipping some vets for some youth..Harder to do but a lot easier if you're a good team in the first place. Argue with the strategy but once the Cubs decided to REBUILD, they've done it the right way, for the most part.
Jesse Rogers (2:04 PM)
Ok, that's it for today. Renteria is about to address the media then we'll get in the locker room before the game today. Follow mw on twitter @espnchicubs. And read the blog every day!! Thanks for the questions..good stuff.