Chat with Jesse Rogers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET!
Jesse Rogers (2:03 PM)
Hi all. Welcome to the first chat of the 2014 (pre) season. I'm at the new spring training facility in Mesa where they cut the ribbon on it today with a ceremony involving the mayor of Mesa, the governor of Az and all the Cubs people. It's a pretty incredible facility. If you can make it out here you won't mind the weather either. 80 and sunny right now. Tomorrow, Theo and Jed will give their state of the uniuon address and then we're off and running on Fri with the first workout for pitchers and catchers. Fire away with questions!
Cesar [via mobile]
Jesse, do you think the cubs dodged a bullet from missing out on tanaka? Seems like there's 10 Japanese busts for every good player. Cubs can now invest that money elsewhere like masterson or price
Jesse Rogers (2:06 PM)
I don't know. Eventually you have to roll the dice on someone and that will mean paying them big money. I'd rather committ it to a 25 year-old then someone 30 or over. I look at it this way, it owuld have been nice to have him but if you use the money correctly you can make up for not getting him. They're not ready to win anyway so it's more urgent when they are in a year or two. Then you have to get someone. And it will cost. So you;re not wrong but I wouldn't say it's a good thing.
Dino (Hoffman Estates)
Jesse! I envy the warm you bask in currently.Do you think it makes sense for the Cubs to call up two players at a time? With all the crazy hype around these prospects the pressure will be enormous. Bringing Baez up with Olt or Alcantara or Vitters would disperse some of the pressure. Is that something you have heard is considered in the MLB?
Jesse Rogers (2:08 PM)
When I covered the Blackhawks I always thought it was really good for Toews and Kane to start their careers at the same time. Def spreads the pressure around. In this case, there are enough young players all over the place if you include Castro, Rizzo, Wood, etc. so I don't think they have to make a conscious effort to bring up two at a time. Staggered or at the same time, there's "enough" to go around. But it's not a bad point that you bring up.
Paul (Arvada, CO)
When will Jason Hammel be announced as the newest member of the Cubs?
Jesse Rogers (2:09 PM)
Now that Brett Marshall has been claimed by the Reds (today) there's room for Hammel signing and announcement. So expect that today or tomorrow.
Jay (Chicago) [via mobile]
Hey Jesse. Another Q, what's your take on the outfield? Lake(LF), sweeney(cf), schierholtz(rf)? With ruggiano(4th)? Who else makes team? Vitters? He can handle LF, RF, 3b, 1b.
Jesse Rogers (2:12 PM)
I think those 4 you mention rotate around. Ruggiano will def see time against lefties. It might just be a straight platoon with Sweeney in center excpet I don't think Schierholtz plays every day against southpaws. I know Sveum liked Sweeney against some lefties so he might get some starts there as well. I would hope and assume Lake plays almost everyday. yes, Vitters might have a shot or McDonald or whoever performs in spring games, basically. No longer is Vitters first up. Performance dictates at this point...
Jay (Chicago) [via mobile]
With Barney possibly getting traded this summer, why doesn't the front office see him as a utility player/bench player? He's got outstanding defense, and can possibly learn other positions, we all know is bat lacks. But, do they not see that? Or is Watkins that player? With better bat?
Jesse Rogers (2:15 PM)
Of course they see that. But maybe they also see a 2 year decline under Sveum (who worked extensively with Barney) so maybe he gets a shot to rebound. His glove is great and if he hits he either becomes better trade bait or someone else does. Obviously, he would really have to show something to keep his job past this year as others are coming. But it's not easy to hit. Let's see if Alcantara can do it in the majors or even Baez. Point is, besides a horrendous 2013 at the plate Barney has established himself...275 a couple years ago..lets see others do so before giving up on him. But the heat is on.
Dwight Smith (Birmingham, AL)
If Shark gets traded this year for prospects, do you think that increases the chances that they sign a top of the rotation starter next season? They will need someone to take his place as the team starts to turn the corner. I believe they haven't spent because no FA's made sense but next year there could potentially be pitchers who are worth pursuing.
Jesse Rogers (2:16 PM)
If not after this season then after next. Source over the winter kind of indicated that after 2015 might be the time..trade or FA or maybe both..
Is the Cubs next NL MVP in the on the team, in the farm system, or not within the organization? If he is in the organization, who is he?
Jesse Rogers (2:16 PM)
Kris Bryant of course. Maybe. Possibly.
Tony Perkis (Tony Perkis Island)
Is there anything Arismendy Alcantara can do in ST to earn the opening day 2B spot?
Jesse Rogers (2:17 PM)
Probably not. You never say never but I'll say highly, highly doubtful.
Do you think with potential big-time impact infielders looming in the minors but getting closer to the major league level will put pressure on players like Castro, Barney, and Rizzo to perform well this year? How do you see each responding to this pressure?
Jesse Rogers (2:20 PM)
It would be hard not to say yes. Now of course Castro and Rizzo have long term deals so they get paid no matter what and in Rizzo's case I think his leash is much longer but sure they hear footsteps like anyone does. Obviously Barney is the one guy more than the others. I want to think Barney can get it back. He battles. Fouls off a lot of pitches, etc. But is he the talent that Baez and others are? No, so his days might be numbered.
Steve (Batavia ia)
Sooner or later something must give with Baez and Castro both at SS. Which is more likely switched to a new position?
Jesse Rogers (2:22 PM)
It's still Baez. The other guys is the incumbent and has been an all-star at that position. Baez isn't exactly Ozzie Smith on D either so all things being equal, right now it's Baez. But we all know things can change..
If Mike Olt truly is a MLB caliber player who was simply suffering from vision issues, shouldn't he make the roster out of spring training if those vision problems have been corrected?
Jesse Rogers (2:24 PM)
Sure. If he hits the ball. This is baseball, what's to say his vision is fine but he's lost his timing or he changed his swing to make up for his problems, or a million other things. Plus, I'm not entirely convinced his issues are in the past so we'll see. It's what we love about sports and baseball in particular. Performance dictates everything and in baseball it's right there in front of you. Don't have to go to the tape to assess a player like a right guard in football, for example.
I hate when people say the Cubs are not ready to win (like yourself). Are they not professional ball players and should always be ready to win? What does winning in the minors get you? Let the kids develope against the best. Enough of this it will hurt there developement, either they're ball players or not end of discussion.
Jesse Rogers (2:26 PM)
Ha, not always as easy as that. Plenty a player has been ruined -- like completely -- when up too early. Now, do I tihnk Kris Bryant can start today at Wrigley? Yes, but there's only a few of those out there and there is still nothing wrong with being sure he's ready. "Ready to win" isn't about being professional. It's about being good enough. You can't just draft guys and send them to the big leagues, in most cases.
Non-Cubs question, but Derek Jeter is retiring. Are you planning on talking/interviewing him when the Yankees come to town in May?
Jesse Rogers (2:26 PM)
Sure, me and 1000 others. But sure. We go there first, in April ,right? So get to see him against the Cubs twice. That's cool.
Jack (Chicago) [via mobile]
When should we expect to see Fujikawa back on the mound?
Jesse Rogers (2:28 PM)
I think we're looking at mid-year if all goes right. Maybe a little sooner.
How much time should fans give Castro & Rizzo this season before officially writing them off after last years' disappointing season?
Jesse Rogers (2:30 PM)
Are people nuts? A guy is a finalist for a gold glove. Hits over 20 home runs. Drives in over 70 RBI on a bad team, takes his walks but hits for a bad average, all in his first full year in the big leagues and he gets written off!! They should give him the whole year. Less patience with Castro. That I get. But stop including Rizzo in this arguement.
Beautiful new place in Mesa,AZ. Vizcaino (P from Braves trade). What do the Cubs expect from him this year?
Jesse Rogers (2:30 PM)
Health. if all goes well, middle relief at some point. But it's been 2 years so we'll see.
Jole (Salem, Il)
What do you see as the most important factor in the Cubs being in the wildcard hunt this year. the last 2 years we were close before sell off's, so do you see us making another step this year?
Jesse Rogers (2:32 PM)
I suppose not having to sell off..but it starts with starting pitching, which they had last year. A little better bullpen will do wonders. Still probbaly not enough but if they don't sell, it does give them some hope of a decent second half. I see this is a major transition year..more than in the past two..Young players will really start to take over..so will be more bumps in the road, etc.
Does Murphy have a chance to be the opening day starter at third?
Jesse Rogers (2:32 PM)
Yes. Especially if Liriano is on the mound.
After Hendricks, do the Cubs have any other pitching prospects?
Jesse Rogers (2:33 PM)
Sure, they may not be close to being ready though. Dallas Beeler looked good in the Az fall league. And of course CJ Edwards was a stud last year. Pierce Johnson is in the mix. None are sure things and may not be top end guys either but there's a few.
Paul Lee (Chicago)
Why no mention of Almora in your prospects article?
Jesse Rogers (2:34 PM)
He's not close to making it yet. Not years and years away but he's not on the verge.
Where do you think soler and almora will start this year?
Jesse Rogers (2:35 PM)
Have a bunch of questions like this. Search my Cubs blog for convention week, I went player by player where they will prob start. Soler at AA, Almora was High A at Daytona, I believe.
Joe (West Town)
I know you love Jake Arrieta, so over/under 12 wins this year?
Jesse Rogers (2:36 PM)
Wins is a dangeorus game to play with this team. Can't judge at all by that. I'd take an ERA under 4.00. That would be huge.
Rocky (Chicago, IL)
Why are the Cubs so in love with Jeff Samard? I mean does he know if he can win games for us and be the ace and end losing streaks he can turn around our team from a pitching standpoint. He hasn't been able to do that and yet Theo and Co. are in love with him. I appreciate the fact that we may end up trading him, but i think he is overvalued. If he wants to win, it starts with him acting like the ACE of the staff and WIN.Thanks for taking my question!
Jesse Rogers (2:38 PM)
Ha. If they were in love with him they would be meeting his demands! They are not. They'll always say the right things and no doubt he's a gamer and a leader and has great stuff. But I don't think they love him like you think or else there woulnd't be these protracted negotations. Or be on the trade market for that matter.
Please give me a reason to watch the Cubs this season? There has been no offseason activity, the prospects are still a ways away, apparently the team is bankrupt, and I do not care about the renovations that may or may not start.
Jesse Rogers (2:40 PM)
Castro and Rizzo. Baez eventually this year we think. Mayube even Bryant later. Wood, Samardzija, etc. Lake for sure. Those are reasons to watch, since you asked. But no pennant race, that's for sure.
Ed (Queens Village)
Who is Cubs projected Opening Day pitcher?
Jesse Rogers (2:41 PM)
Probabaly Samardzija but Wood certainly earned it based on last season.
Joe (West Town)
I know he isn't a lock to make the team, but Over/Under 10 home runs for Mike Olt this year in the BIGS?
Jesse Rogers (2:43 PM)
Here's the thing. I honestly have no idea. When you think of eye issues, they aren't that common. Plus, have to be sure he's over them. Then we see if he's back the way he was a few years ago. And this is baseball, such a hard game. My answer is under because since I really don't know, I default to the negative...
Dan (Lincoln Park) [via mobile]
Has the front office thought about buying out the rooftop owners? It seems like that would speed up a lot of this "nonsense"...
Jesse Rogers (2:44 PM)
It's been brought up, etc. Not that easy they say. They have diff agendas and some won't sell. Not sure all the details but they say they've "tried".
Eric (Downers Grove)
Hi Jesse - thanks for the chat. Do you think Castro will bounce back this year with Renteria now driving him?
Jesse Rogers (2:44 PM)
Yes, he can't be much worse and I do think Renteria will have that positive impact. Is he an all-star this year? Hard to say but that average will rise. He's too talented not to.
Was wondering your thoughts on Justin Grimm's role going into 2014 and beyond? I read an article that believed the development of his cutter midseason led to a drop in his effectiveness. If he has a great spring training what will the Cubs do with him?
Jesse Rogers (2:45 PM)
I still thinks he's ticketed for the middle of the bullpen if he makes the team, etc. But you always need extra guys who can start so he can be in the mix. Has to prove it.
I realize you and the rest of us love Kris Bryant and couldn't imagine our farm system without him, but I would argue we'd be in better shape balance wise had we drafted Gray instead. What do you think?
Jesse Rogers (2:47 PM)
It might six, half a dozeon of the other. We know how valuable pitching is but so is power in this day and age. I think Bryant is the most sure thing in that draft right now. I have no problem taking him. But hey, they need both kinds of guys.
Andy (Des Moines)
With the signing of Jason Hammel, do you see him filling that #5 spot in the rotation until possibly being flipped? At that point, I would assume maybe Hendricks gets a look? What are your thoughts?
Jesse Rogers (2:48 PM)
I think that makes a lot of sense. They liked the early trade of Feldman last year. I could see exactly that again and if Hendricks proves ready, he comes up. Makes sense.
Suppose Olt comes out of Spring training as the starting 3B and has a good year, where does that put Baez, Bryant and Alacantara in terms of potential position? Who goes to the outfield who stays on the diamond?
Jesse Rogers (2:50 PM)
Speculating but Bryant to OF, Baez to 2nd. Or someone gets moved, etc. Great problems to have but I don't think the Cubs have discussed it much at all. Things will take care of themselves and if they don't, and they have too many starters, they'll be celebrating and fig it out then.
Jacob (Crystal Lake)
Given his massive size and inability to play anywhere but first base, do you see the Cubs eventually trading Dan Vogelbach to an American League team, possibly in a package for a solid starting pitcher? He seems like a really professional hitter for his age and would benefit playing where he could DH.
Jesse Rogers (2:51 PM)
Saw Keith Law say in a chat when asked which of his top 10 Prospects was most likely to flop at the Major League Level that in his opinion it was Baez. Your thoughts?
Jesse Rogers (2:56 PM)
I'll say that's it's not shocking. I'm not predicting it but if you were looking for negatives or things that would impede him you could. His family is relying on him as the bread winner, that's pressure. He's kind of cocky so who knows how he takes to failure or intense coaching. His plate discipline could be an issue if he just swings for the fences. So again, if you're looking for things you can find them. It's kind of why I pick Bryant as the most sure thing in the organization. He doesn't have any POTENTIAL roadblocks. I have no idea if those were Law's reasons but I can see why he picked Baez.
Eric Kentucky [via mobile]
Are the Cubs looking to sign any other starting pitching before ST
Jesse Rogers (2:57 PM)
Hammel and James McDonald will offically be signed now that Marshall and Brooks Raley (just official) are gone. Marshall to the Reds, Raley to the Twins. But other than that, no I don't think anyone new is coming.
Jesse, every year I head up to Milwaukee for a Cubs/Brewers game. This year is no different however the game we are going to is occurring at the end of the season on Sept 26. I'm actually excited to see some of the youngsters. Which youngsters do you think will be up (not necessarily playing but up with the club at that time)...Baez? anybody else?
Jesse Rogers (2:59 PM)
I think Hendricks is there. Could be Christian Villanueva or Alcanatara but not both. Would be quite the year if Bryant is there. So hard to predict because it's not only based on performance -- which is hard to know for a minor leaguer at those ages -- but also what the Cubs want to do in terms of exposing them to the big leagues. So those are guesses.
Travis (South Elgin)
What do I say to a sour, old time cubs fan like my father who seems to have no hope with "just another GM who comes in promising changes?"
Jesse Rogers (3:01 PM)
Because they have already made changes. They haven't looked for the quick fix. They're being pateint and building something. What gets me is how many people over the years asked for exactly this but now can't stand it. I don't know if it will work but it certainly isn't business as usual. He should be happy about that.
Joe (Lincolnshire )
Who do you see backing up Rizzo? Seems like a situation where you'd want a veteran backup, bench bat to mentor him, right? What happens if he hits a major skid? Injury? Carlos Pena part two or a similar type player can be a low risk option. Thoughts?
Jesse Rogers (3:02 PM)
Donnie Murphy will back him up I believe. But they are committed to him. He's not that far off from being a really good player.
Peter (Olympia Fields)
Is there a pathway to .500? I don't see it with this team, Jackson, Shark, all their position players, would have to have "career" years.
Jesse Rogers (3:04 PM)
Right, all have career years then yes, good things could happen. But you don't want .500. You wnat 90 wins. Shooting for .500 means keeping players they don't need or want in the future. They will flip Veras, Schierholtz and 1-2 more by Aug. That's a good thing in my opinion.
Jesse Rogers (3:06 PM)
That's it for today. Hope to see many of you out here in Az over the next 6 weeks. I'll be here for almost all of it. Follow me on twitter @espnchicubs and read the blog everyday. Plus listen to ESPN 1000. I'll be on the radio again today at 4 pm CT. We usually do these chats on Tuesdays. Be back to that next week. Should be an interesting spring. Thanks again.