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. Last month of the season is here. Plenty to talk about so fire away with questions!
I recently noticed that there is a second baseman named Andrew Ely in AAA. We drafted him this year in the 32nd round and the only other level he has played at is rookie ball in Mesa. I'm sure there's a reason behind it, so why is he already in AAA?
Jesse Rogers (1:03 PM)
Ha. That's all due to the many call-ups the Cubs have made recently. They needed someone to play. Not sure why him in particular but they needed bodies with Watkins, Alcantara, Szczur, etc. all up here...
Is it killing Rizzo to sit out all these games now that the young guns are being called up?
Jesse Rogers (1:04 PM)
He and Castro like playing every day (who doesn't) but it would kill him more if they were in the race.
Any talk of shutting down Rizzo or are we waiting on the MRI?
Jesse Rogers (1:05 PM)
Up in the air. Just talked to someone close to him today. Rest, MRI all on the table...not like they have to make a decision with rosters expanded. Don't need to DL him, etc. They'll play it safe for obvious reasons. Hopefully, it's just a nagging thing not anything more...
Jessica (Rogers Park)
Will the Cubs look to keep Louis Valbuena next year once Bryant comes up? If they do, does it make sense for Valbuena to learn to play 1B and LF to have more versatility so he can be a Ben Zobrist type of guy?
Jesse Rogers (1:07 PM)
I think it's a good point. He would be the ideal role player that gets 1-2 or more starts a week depending on pitcher, rest for others and injuries. So yeah, another position or two wouldnt be a bad thing. First base is not a bad idea because they really won't have the luxury of a pure back-up for Rizzo.
Tommy (Denver) [via mobile]
Will the Cubs go after Jon Lester in the offseason?
Jesse Rogers (1:09 PM)
I think they will look under that rock for sure...They've done well with the whole AL to NL switch with 2nd tier pitchers, this guy is still at or near his prime and never misses a start. That might not last forever so I don't know if you go the max with him but if he'll discount the Cubs a bit they would have to listen. Or maybe they do go over $100 mil etc. Fluid situation but yeah, they will add one. Have to, so why not him?
George (Aurora) [via mobile]
Hey Jesse, do you think the Cubs should keep schwarber at catcher even if it takes longer for him to develop amd make it to the show?
Jesse Rogers (1:10 PM)
At this point, yes. Too tantalizing to have a left handed, power hitting catcher....why not.
Joe Melrose Park [via mobile]
The front office says they want a veteran bat in the line up next year to help the kids. However, I don't see a spot on the field to play one without taking ABs away from the kids. How are they going to do this?
Jesse Rogers (1:12 PM)
Would have to be a quasi back-up. Or a platoon guy like a Tori Hunter or someone like that. Def an outfielder though. Maybe not a pure back-up but I don't see them signing a big money guy at 30-plus years old. No way. They just need a guy in the room not necessarily one to lead on the field. A vet pitcher makes sense though.
Max S (Hollywood, Fl)
Cubs timetable in winning advanced in my mind out of the production I see this year... chances we sign Lester or Schezer and speed it up even more. Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks? isnt to bad to contend in the NL wild card where the marlins are in the discussion this year
Jesse Rogers (1:14 PM)
Yeah, like I just wrote. Literally, all they need to do is sign one big money guy. I would leave the rest of the roster to homegrown. You have back-ups in Watkins, Szczur, Sweeney, Valbuena. Fine, get a cheap vet outfiedler if you want. Leave the bullpen alone. Sign one starting pitcher and see where you go. Then after 2015, you know your needs and you go get them for the long run of contending but you never know, maybe they can make some noise in 2015. You just don't go ALL out just yet.
Those double plays from Castro/Baez looked pretty smooth yesterday, are they developing a good rapport?
Jesse Rogers (1:16 PM)
I think so. The Cubs are being justified in the whole middle infiedler thing. Baez does look pretty good over there just as Alcantara does in CF. And I'm sure Russell can play anywhere as well. The athleticism is showing up when they move positions.
Do the Cubs try to hold on to Castillo as a backup if they bring up a catcher in the next two years?
Jesse Rogers (1:18 PM)
I doubt it. The back-up should be that guy that specializes in the def aspects of the game, especially game calling, etc. If Schwarber is the eventual starter then they go get a def specialist. A blog I'll write this week will document the pitching staff with Baker behind the plate as opposed to Castillo. The numbers are striking...not that it's completely fair just to look at numbers but Castillo, in my opinion, hasn't advanced as much in that dept.
Would there be room for Manny Ramirez to serve as a coach on our big league team? He really seemed to help in AAA, why not a 1B coach or hitting coach? Even as just an adviser? Are there any rules to how many coaches a team can have?
Jesse Rogers (1:19 PM)
It's a question for next year I suppose. Might come up today over at Wrigley now that AAA season is over. Not sure what he wants to do just yet either.
Do you think Kris Bryant will still be playing 3rd base when he is called up next year? What happens to Russell if he does?
Jesse Rogers (1:20 PM)
My (educated) opinion? He'll start to transition to OF in spring training next season then we'll see. Can't tell you for sure because I don't think they have decided for sure. Fluid situation.
Jesse, could you please let everyone know that expecting all these kids to lead us to the playoffs is asking a lot. Not saying it can't happen, but history says it's unlikely. It's going to be like a roller coaster next year, so everyone should just enjoy tthe ride.
Jesse Rogers (1:22 PM)
Agree...but I will say that in the past 2 spring trainings, Theo has used the phrase "we'll try to turn the narrative around" meaning surprise the league,etc. We knew that was B.S. But next year when he says it, we can at least believe, 'ok, there is a shot at that if things fall into place.' There was no chance in $%##%$%# that was going to happen this year. Agree, the odds are against it and I know the Cubs don't feel their PEAK time isn't for a few more years.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Jesse do you think Baez is better Off at third with Watkins at second and Bryant in left?
Jesse Rogers (1:24 PM)
First off, I think Watkins is destined to be a back-up here unless something changes..but your point is well taken. I can't decide who might be better at third..Castro, Baez or even Russell...if all 3 pan out then yes Bryant in left..and the three of them will be the infield. I think Baez or Castro could both play third. If you can play SS you can play third. Ripken, Arod, etc. And these guys would be moving there in their prime. We'll see.
Caleb M. (Tennessee)
Honestly, it is hard to watch baez take AB's. So far we are seeing a lackluster at best approach, at what point do they try and improve his discipline?
Jesse Rogers (1:26 PM)
Offseason and spring training. I don't think it's huge tweaks. I tweeted yesterday, if he just didn't swing at the high ones outside the zone, he would be that much further along. That's an easy fix, I think. He just has to get the K's down to a more normal 25-35 percent rate. These days that's normal. Especially if you're hitting home runs, which he will.
David (Bloomington, IN)
So who's coming up from Iowa today?
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
Straily, Vizcaino, Jokisch, catcher Rafael Lopez. Olt if/when he's healthy. I would assume Lake. Might be one or two more...(no Bryant)
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Jesse so far very impressed with Logan Watkins. What do you see his role being with this team?
Jesse Rogers (1:28 PM)
Like I said, a super sub. He's learned a couple new positions, especially in the OF so that will help him stick around.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Alcantara is Not a center fielder! Will he be packaged for a pitcher this Off season?
Jesse Rogers (1:28 PM)
I don't know but I think he's fine out there. Needs reps but he has the instincts. Doesn't happen overnight. I love his jumps.
Jesse Rogers (1:29 PM)
Ill post the next two questions, no answers. They were sent back-to-back
Tim (Chicago, IL)
Jesse, love the blog!! Thank you for all the hard work you put into it! While I have been excited as anyone to watch Alcantara, Baez, and Soler play in the Majors, I have noticed that Valbuena has been on quite a tear lately. He is now second in team HRs next to Rizzo and has a shot of hitting 20 this year. He also gets on base alot and sees a lot of pitches. I understand that he is probably more of a platoon player on a competitive team, but I think he has proven his worth over the past two years. I think Renteria and the FO really like him as well. However, with all these prospects coming up, will Valbuena be sent to the bench or traded? He seems like a type of player Billy Beane would love to have, but I am hoping we can find some way to keep him here in Chicago as a utility player. What are your thoughts???
With September finally here and call ups going to be happening soon. Can we please have someone else play 3rd base other than NoBuena? We all know hes a .240 hitter with mild pop. Can we please see what Olt can do on an everyday basis. He seemed to be ripping AAA pretty well since he got consistent at bats.
Jesse Rogers (1:30 PM)
Read them both. The nature of being a fan. One guy likes him the next guy, not so much.
Izzy. NJ [via mobile]
What is the future of Travis Wood? He took a huge step back this year and even when he looks to be somewhat back on track he has a terrible outing next time out.
Jesse Rogers (1:31 PM)
It's a good question. He's under team control and I don't think next year is the 'win at all costs year' so I imagine they see how he rebounds. Right now he's a #4. Maybe that's what he'll be. You sign a #1, Arrieta #2 (or 1), Hendricks is #3, then Wood then ______ (Turner, Doubront, Low level FA,et.c)
Got mocked by some character in this chat last week for a lineup proposal with Castro batting in the 3 spot. Correct me if I'm wrong, but since Rizzo has been out, Starlin is batting .370 in that spot. Just saying...
Jesse Rogers (1:33 PM)
Actually, this season he's been good in the middle of the order, for whatever reason. They have so many potential good hitters the order won't matter as much moving forward but to max out he's either a #2 or #6. You want your guys with HR potential up with men on base...that's not necessarily Castro...
You might not know the answer to this, but what is seen as a more impressive feat by those not affiliated with the Cubs: the way the farm system has been built up, or the way the Cubs have been able to work with all of these bargain-type pitchers (Maholm, Feldman, Hammel, etc.)? Thanks!
Jesse Rogers (1:34 PM)
It's both but they aren't the first to do well with reclamation projects. And they aren't the first to do well with building a farm. Doing both at the same time has been the most impressive. Usually, you strike out...guess they did with EJAx but not in the other aspects...at least not so far.
Danny (South Dakota)
If Schwaber does stay at catcher, how far away is he from the Majors? An improvement from Castillo seems notable
Jesse Rogers (1:35 PM)
I would think he spends a full year in the minors next season purely catching. Then we'll see.
Craig (Arlington Heights)
Re: Shwarber. Isn't there a concern that playing him at catcher could limit his offense production and shorten his career production/length?
Jesse Rogers (1:36 PM)
Of course. Like most great hitting catchers, maybe he starts behind the plate and then moves elsehwere as het gets older. Nothing is set in stone. And let's face it, OF or first base will be easy compared to catcher.
Any chance Baez gets sent down if its batting avg continues to plummet?
Jesse Rogers (1:38 PM)
Um, sent down where? Or do you mean next season? Of course there's a chance. Prob can't hit .181 all year. See Mike Olt. But you know they will give him every chance to get better. We all wanted him up here, so here he is. Maybe he makes it maybe he doesn't. But give him a much, much, longer chance. Should not care at all what he does in these 6 weeks anyway.
Hi Jesse. I'm going to miss asking you Cubs questions in the off season. Here is my question. With the expanded roster why don't they bring up a "true" first baseman to cover while Rizzo is out?
Jesse Rogers (1:39 PM)
Valaika played it all year in the minors until Olt arrived. They're fine there. He's looked pretty good in fact.
Ryan (Des Moines)
Do you think that theo and Jed will go after some pitching in the offseason or try with Wada, Turner, and the likes?
Jesse Rogers (1:39 PM)
Like I wrote previously, I think they go after one good one...
With Bryant expected to get the call up early next season, and Russell looking more like a mid-season call up, where does everyone play in the field? I always assumed Russell would move to 3rd and Bryant to RF, but now Soler looks like our RF. Can Bryant play LF? What is your prediction?
Jesse Rogers (1:40 PM)
Bryant def would move to left if he's going to the outfield.
Matt (Central IL) [via mobile]
How does this sound Jesse? Instead of spending 22 mil a year on someone due for arm trouble, lets spend slightly less and get James Shields to be in rotation. We can go Shields, Arrieta, Wood, Hendricks, and Turner. Bullpen is set for 7th, 8th, and 9th. Then we can get a veteran bench player who can pinch hit, and show the kids how to play the game.
Jesse Rogers (1:41 PM)
I have no problem "settling" this offseason, meaning not the truest of #1's. Then reassess next year.
Jesse Rogers (1:42 PM)
This just in, officially, the Cubs add Schlitter, Straily, Vizcaino, Rosscup, Jokisch, Lopez and Lake to roster.
Jesse Rogers (1:43 PM)
Olt still injured so prob why he's not here...
Jesse Rogers (1:46 PM)
That's going to do it for today. Thanks folks. Have to write up the news of the call-ups and do an interview. We'll go longer next week. If you have a question I didnt get to you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. appreciate the time. Check out the blog and follow me on twitter @espnchicubs.