Chat with Jesse Rogers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Tuesday, Jesse Rogers stops by to chat about the Chicago Cubs.
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 (1:02 PM)
Hi all. Welcome to our weekly Cubs chat. Big news late last night (I was asleep) as Jorge Soler is headed to Cincinnati. He'll arrive late today and play tomorrow, more than likely. So now most of the main guys are here save maybe the best in Kris Bryant...then comes the next wave of A. Russell, etc. but for now we get a good look at what next year could look like. Fire away with questions!
rodney wade (Cincinati Ohio)
What is the time line that the Cubs organization set for themselves to become serious contenders?
Jesse Rogers (1:03 PM)
I know they feel their peak is 2017/2018/2019..in there....that's not just an arbitratry timeframe. It's based on the progression of these guys...that's the hope...Doesn't mean it can't happen before then.
Scott S. (Chicago, IL)
Jesee, who does J. Soler remind of you the most? Current or past player? Also, do you think his floor is higher than the other top four prospects ('cuz of OBP), but ceiling not as high?
Jesse Rogers (1:04 PM)
That might be a good way of putting it. He should always have the ability to get on. In fact, he'll look more disciplined next to Baez right off the bat. I don't know what his ceiling is because he's such a good athlete..it could be sky's the limit. Let me think about who he reminds me of...
Do you think Wada will be in the bullpen (middle relief) when the Cubs start signing FA pitchers? or trade bait?
Jesse Rogers (1:07 PM)
He's not going to the bullpen the way he's pitching. You would rather trade him then send him there...The Cubs have an option on him. I would suspect they would exercise it and he has a chance to start next year. It's not like they're signing a bunch of guys better than what he looks like right now. Maybe 1. So unless there are financial/age concerns I think he starts next year unless he's traded. And he would only be because of his age.
Given the lack of power across the league, is Olt's rebound in AAA making him a an asset again.
Jesse Rogers (1:08 PM)
Only if it translates in the big leagues..just as he was kind of thrown in with CJ Edwards last year..that could be his fate this offseason or whenever..No one cares how much you rake in the minors if you've failed to do so in the majors...So if he comes up and hits, that will help. All he's done so far is prob earn a Sept promotion. That's it.
So... the future is here (kind of). What does tomorrow's lineup look like? 1-Alcantara CF, 2-Baez 2B, 3-Castro SS, 4-Rizzo 1B, 5-Soler RF, 6-Valbuena 3B, 7-Coghlan LF, 8-Castillo C, 9-Turner P?
Jesse Rogers (1:11 PM)
No. Castro hasnt batted 3rd all year. Now, with him returning and now his season kind of broken up, and Baez with time under his belt and Soler coming, I would change it up. AA, Castro, Rizzo, Baez, Soler, etc. However, the Cubs have liked putting the new guy at No.2 so Soler could hit there. I like my lineup. When Bryant comes, he moves to 4 and everyone moves down...Or Rizzo goes to No.2 and Castro down or , or , or...
Jesse, walk me off the ledge but it just seems like this team (and therefore Future teams) are playing more fundamentally sound ball while getting extremely solid starting pitching from Arrieta, Hendricks, and Wada plus a solid bullpen. Is this the type of team we will see under Theo and Co...while I like wins it is a much better watch to see good pitching, defense, and hitting...then just watching the Cubs trying to smack home runs and having a good season once in every 10.
Jesse Rogers (1:13 PM)
The point of this whole rebuild is to contend every year for a long time. Yes, defense would be nice but hitting is at a premium these days. They need the HR's, nothing wrong with that. Bigger concern is OBP. Let's see if Soler and Bryant help bring it up..and maybe finally, Castro, can draw a few more walks in a good lineup. We've been waiting for "protection" for Rizzo/Castro..their numbers should be even better moving forward. It's about stress on the pitcher and having to throw strikes to someone...A great team has the whole package.
How do teams market top prospects to the casual fan? Obviously diehards and hardcore fans know everything about the farm system and the like, but a good portion of the fans probably will be at Soler's first game and were at Baez's first game and had no idea who he was. You can't market them too heavily because not everyone follows prospects, right?
Jesse Rogers (1:15 PM)
Not exactly sure what you are asking. This is the Cubs. If they are good, they will market themselves. Some get more pub then others by nature of things. Speaking english, flash to their game, and of course the production. People will know the names real quick if they're good. Also, since this has been an obvious rebuild the more casual fan, I think, does know these names...not all of them but a lot.
Will next spring be the best time to make a trip to Mesa for seeing all the top guys on the field at once?
Jesse Rogers (1:16 PM)
For sure...they were there this past spring be it will be even more pronouced in terms of top picks, etc. next time around. And for the first time, I would say "if the stars aligned" they could actually compete...so the unknown of 2015 will be somewhat exciting though predicting playoffs would be a leap..young players go up and down and you would have to expect that. Then again you never know.
Andy (Des Moines)
Will Schwarber, Russell, and Edwards start in AAA next year? Any likelihood of them reaching the majors in 2015?
Jesse Rogers (1:18 PM)
My guess is Schwarber is AA then AAA next season. In any case, if any are at AAA then they have a legit shot at the majors that season. We could get into service time issues with Schwarber like Bryant but in general, they would have that shot...just like Hendricks, Baez, etc.
If and when Almora is major league ready, what happens to Alcantara?
Jesse Rogers (1:20 PM)
It's a mystery wrapped inside of a riddle. It will all play out...if all these guys make it, it will be a surprise and quite the team. Someone will be used as trade bait, etc. The answer is I don't know. And I'm sure they don't know. AA still has to prove himself for the ling haul. Too long to say it here but for these top picks you have to understand gettting to the majors isn't the "hard" part (of course its hard but you know what I mean). Sticking here is the challenge. They get an opportunity then they have to take it. But the more that are here the better for the Cubs.
David (Logan Square) [via mobile]
It seems like this question is brought up a lot, but will Ramirez make the "Shark" jump from bullpen to starter next season?
Jesse Rogers (1:22 PM)
I still do not believe that's a done deal. In fact, I'm leaning against it where I was going the other way a few months ago. I think they have concerns about his arm long term as a starter combined with the fact he seems perfectly suited where he is, I think they leave him there. I could be wrong and I'm sure Ramirez will push for it but they have tried to bring him a long as careful as possible. Harder to do as a starter. I would say no
With Soler's promotion to the big league club do you believe he will be a starting outfielder when the Cubs break camp for the 2015 season?
Jesse Rogers (1:24 PM)
Yes, that would be the plan. You bring him up now to get his feet wet. If he doesnt look completely overmatched he's the fav to start the season in right.
How come the Cubs are more willing to give consistent playing time to Javier Baez when he's doing exactly what Mike Olt did? I understand the need to play everyday, but if they understand that with Baez, where was the understanding with Olt? Im' not trying to argue that Olt's as good as Baex could be, but seriously both of their experiences in the Major Leagues are either hit the ball out of the park or strike out.
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
I'm pretty much with you. It was inconsistent. However, Olt ended up looking so bad it's hard to argue they didnt give him a chance. Is it the chicken or the egg? Did he struggle because he didn't get that early playing time or did his struggles doom him? Bottom line, I would have liked to seen him play every day in April. It is quite the coincidence the two guys they bascially platooned, Olt and Lake, both stunk it up. So all you can say is maybe if they tried it the otehr way a different outcome would have occurred. The argument is sound and no one can dis-prove that notion because we can't go back in time. Not yet.
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
Sorry for typing mistakes...head going faster than hands. Typical.
Hey Jesse, thanks for taking my question. With Soler being called up, does this mean the end to the Ryan Sweeney show in Chicago?????
Jesse Rogers (1:29 PM)
I think this related to Justin Ruggiano now Sweeney. Sweeney is signed for another year. I heard a few things over the weekend and that's why I wrote in a Monday morning blog that the Cubs might not be done dealing..the fact that Soler was pulled late last night tells me this wasn't exactly planned. I think there could have been a claim thing going on and maybe there is a deal to announce. Otherwise there is a DL stint coming..
I think that Ricky is doing a great job this year. Like the kids he is dealing with, he has made mistakes but has learned from them. My question is why get rid of the guy who is doing exactly (If Not above) what you asked him to do?
Jesse Rogers (1:30 PM)
Who's getting rid of him? Remains to be seen. He'll have to continue to prove it though. He won't have the benefit of the doubt some veteran manager would have. So far, not so bad.
It was good to see Logan Watkins get an actual shot this year with Castro on the bereavement list. Does his versatility give him a shot at sticking in a reserve role (a la Valbuena, DeRosa)?
Jesse Rogers (1:31 PM)
I think he and Szczur could have that show next year but it's not like Watkins is a sure thing there. The fact that he can play OF now helps his cause. If he can pinch-hit that will as well. More valuable this year than last.
Alcantara's arm does not play well in CF. His throws are bad and his arm looks weak and base runners are taking advantage of it. Is that really a teachable technique he can improve upon? It seems more like an innate skill to me; either you have a big arm or you don't. Can you shed some light? Thanks.
Jesse Rogers (1:33 PM)
You may be right about the big arm or not but two things, first he's made more mental mistakes than anything. How many times are you throwing home in a game? 1? maybe? And he is a converted shortstop so I think the arm is adequate but he does need to learn some techniques in charging or catching and throwing. A full spring there should help.
Jack (Lincoln Park)
Hey Jesse, with 3 top young prospects getting a start on 2015 now, and Hendricks and Wada putting up great numbers their first go around im pretty excited to watch the Cubs day in and day out. What are you most excited about seeing down the stretch here? Anything we regular Joes should keep our eyes open for?
Jesse Rogers (1:35 PM)
I think Baez needs to walk a little more and it's coming. He just can't strike out 175 times with a .210 BA. Even with the home runs he'll leave a lot of men on base so continued improvement there. And we've seen it. Hopefully Soler is the same at the majors as the minors where he has no issue taking a walk. As for Hendricks, I'm a big fan. Wada is gravy to me. And I hope Alcantara gets a chance at leadoff for the final month...set up your top 5 like you would for next yr save Bryant...Let's see how it plays out.
John Thomas (Maroa, IL)
when do you think Bryant will be called up?
Jesse Rogers (1:36 PM)
10 days into 2015. Or maybe 2 weeks so it's not such an obvious situation. That saves them a yr on free agency. Anyway, some time around then.
Now that theo is about 3 seasons in, how would you assess the job he has done? Does it fall below, meet, or exceed your expectations?
Jesse Rogers (1:38 PM)
Based on what his strategy is I would say exceed. They've drafted and traded far better than the avg I think. And they've implemented a good minor league system in keeping guys mostly healthy, no PED suspensions down there, etc. They're now getting the most out of Rizzo and Castro, etc. Not sure you can could ask for more in a REBUILDING situation other than a move (JAckson) here or there. And the idea that hitting is now the premium need was a brilliant strategy.
Cubsfankevin (Ireland )
I believe this has been touched on but how is Bryant's demeanor with these other prospects getting called up while he dominates MILb?
Jesse Rogers (1:40 PM)
I feel like I know him as well as anyone. He's no dummy. HE's had the best season of them all yet he's still down there. Rizzo once told me it seems like the biggest deal at the time. Once he's up here it will be long forgotten. Bottom line, he doesn't love it but if we're talking about 45-60 baseball days before he gets up here, I think he'll get over it.
Luke (Iowa City, IA)
After watching the Cubs sweep the O's last week, is it realistic to think that this ball club could play .500 ball in 2015? I mean, i realize they are not going to always play as well as they did against the O's, especially in regards to pitching, but this organization seems to have real promise for the first time since 2008.
Jesse Rogers (1:43 PM)
Right, that's the big question. What kind of a leap do they take next yr. I'm going to take the easy road and say it really doesn't matter because 75 wins or 81 isn't that much different. UNless the main guys really take steps back it's another growth year. You can hop Bryant wins ROY and Baez is a stud and Alcantara leads the league in OBP or whatever, but in reality, we know it takes time. So if that time means 74 wins, so be it. The leap will come. I've said that from the beginnig. 90 losses to 90 wins. (Or maybe 83 or whatever) Just can't tell you it's next year.
Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, beyond that who in the Cubs organization do you envision in the rotation next year? Wada? Jackson? Wood? Turner? Beeler? Someone or multiple are out of the equation if top talent is acquired.
Jesse Rogers (1:44 PM)
I would guess Wood and Turner get chances..and there is still Wada...somehow Jackson is going to be gone I believe. And you know they will bring in someone, either a big name or depth guys.
I understand growing pains from the young guys, but when you factor in how bad guys like Nate, Olt, Lake, Sweeney have been for us. How can you not see a major upgrade with Baez, Alcantara, Soler and Bryant being up next year.. I see us being much better than people think. 80-85 wins? Am I wrong?
Jesse Rogers (1:47 PM)
You could be right and predicting that next year as opposed to this year makes more sense for sure. But I still see another transition type season. I could be wrong and the only reason I think I might be is the parity in the league. I could see the Reds and Brewers going backwards, etc. I do like the bullpen if they continue on, that's as important as anything. So, maybe.
Everyone here (I'm assuming) has some level of belief that the Cubs will be contenders in the next few years. What I don't hear is who they'll be overtaking in the Central to reach the top. I think that once the Cubs reach the level where they can be labeled contenders, it'll be them and STL duking it out, with the other 3 fighting for third (though I think Pittsburgh is the best of the other 3 teams). What do you think?
Jesse Rogers (1:49 PM)
Yeah, I don't like the Reds moving forward and I don't think the Brewers are built for years to come. That's been lightning in a bottle. Sure, considering the Cards farm, they'll prob be right there...and Pitt has the farm and young players too but prob won't spend so the Cubs should pass them up over the next few years.
Schmidty (Spearfish, SD)
We know everything is "fluid," but does this resemble what you'd like to see as the everyday lineup come next May?8 Alcantara6 Castro3 Rizzo5 Bryant4 Baez9 Soler7 Szczur/Coughlan2 Castillo1 Pitcher
Jesse Rogers (1:50 PM)
Makes sense to me. I think Coghlan has the leg up right now but yeah I like that.
Cubsfankevin (Ireland )
Who decides which questions are acknowledged/answered in the queue? What are they looking for in a question? Coherent points? Knowledgable fan? Someone who hasn't noticed that Castro has been hitting cleanup for months?
Jesse Rogers (1:51 PM)
Not everyone follows it the same. I decide. But mostly I just make sure there isn't a curse or one I've answered and I click on it. There are no bad questions -- just answers. As evidenced by this chat every week!
Jobin Jr [via mobile]
With the cubs playing well do you think they can go on a run and snag a wild card spot
Jesse Rogers (1:52 PM)
I take that back
Jesse, is Castro viable trade bait in the next year or so? Rumors I hard in the past say that the Cubs leadership isn't so high on him and wouldn't mind moving him. Thoughts?
Jesse Rogers (1:55 PM)
I think last year there were questions but you can't argue with his season. I think the NY rumours etc are completely media driven even though there might be a legit fit there. This is what I think: it's a simple risk/reward/what's best for the team situation. A good problem to have. If Castro nets them players they want and can't pass up then fine. If they can't get the right return then maybe Russell does. My point is I don't think you just target Castro to trade just because you think Russell is the guy. One is 3 time all-star and the other is a prospect. You act accordingly with them.
Jesse do you see the Cubs putting a package together and try to work out a deal with Philly this off season for Cole Hamel?
Jesse Rogers (1:56 PM)
I would not. You could get someone at that cost in FA. Or at least someone close to that cost.
Does Theo sign a FA pitcher for next year? One that moves the needle?
Jesse Rogers (1:57 PM)
I think so but I'm not 100 percent certain. If you ask me does he sign one over nest 2 off-seasons, I would be much more certain.
JoBoo Chicago [via mobile]
Why do the Cubs coaches allow Baez to swing for the fences every at bat, even with 2 strikes. Kid has so much power that he could still hit home runs even with a contact swing. Home runs are important, but we don't need a Adam Dunn type player. Drives me nuts when he cork screws himself into the ground with his power swing with 2 strikes.
Jesse Rogers (2:00 PM)
Rizzo said it best. He got here doing what he's doing. Let him be himself and slowly make adjustments. You start getting inside his heaad you take away confidence and maybe what makes him special. You're not completely wrong but let him kind of get there on his own with the coaches moving him in the right direction. PLus, we don't know he can't survive with that swing. He's already looked better but it does have to continue trending the right way.
The two guys they platooned stunk it up because they're the definition of AAAA baseball players - just not good enough to stick (the hard part as you say). Javy should not be lumped into that group.
Jesse Rogers (2:02 PM)
More than likely you are right but I don't mind pointing out they didn't get that same playing time that AA and Baez have gotten.Again, baez/ Bryant are in a diff class but it's not always about that as much as it is opportunity. And I pointed out before how Olt and Lake didn't exactly grasp thiers, even if it wasn't ideal.
George (Aurora) [via mobile]
Is Arrieta likely going to regress a little next season or will he be able to put up the great numbers he has put up so far this year?
Jesse Rogers (2:02 PM)
If he stays healthy I don't see why he doesn't keep it up. The stuff is so good and now he's in a great place mentally.
Jesse Rogers (2:04 PM)
That's it for today. Lots of good questions. Tomorrow night should be fun. Soler is exciting. Big, strong, athletic as heck. Power, good arm. We'll see if he can put it together at this level. Follow me on twitter @espnchicubs. And read the blog every day. Talk next week. Take care.