Hi all, welcome to our first weekly cubs chat which will take place every fri at this time. Looking forward to covering the Cubs..follow me on twitter @espnchicubs and make sure you read the blog everyday, many times! Im in AZ, in my apt here for the next 7 weeks..will head over to camp tomorrow..and then sunday they officially report..at least the pitchers and catchers do..full squad is a week later...Its "only" 58 degrees here...fire away with questions
What's your expectations on castros season at the plate?
Pretty big..as I wrote in preview blog, with Rizzo protecting him and his contract status behind him there is no reason not to grow..he's perfect to get better under the cubs new regime cause they stress patience and getting that walk when its there...cut down on whiffs, increase walks and his whole game will be better...its a big task but its right there to be handled. So yeah big year
do you think that Marmol, Soriano, or Garza will be traded before opening day?
Def not garza..prob not soriano...marmol is the wild card...Its hard to know because it might happen if a team gets antsy about their closer as camp progresses. He has the best chance in my opinion though Soriano has to look inviting to some AL teams...how much will the cubs pay? Still a question
Who do you think goes into spring with the advantage at the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation assuming scott baker is healthy?
Assuming Baker is healthy than him for sure...I still like Wood at 5...feldman is better out of the pen these days...and so is Villanueva for sure..Lets put it this way, I think because he was here last year and showed flashes, it should be Wood's job to lose..but Im not sure baker will be ready opening day...course might need that 5th starter..
OK let's be realistic. What is the over/under for wins for this season to be considered successful?
Oh man, realistic? 75..unless they clean house again and have nothing leftover but even if they should do that they should be better off because now, Jackson, Vitters, and even those god awful pitchers from second half have some experience...have to be a little better right? They are deeper with the feldmans, etc so they should be better off...if all breaks right maybe even closer to 80..I like that infield...health is huge..they dont have much behind the starters..andthe OF is just eh. so again, all has to break right...otherwise, closer to 70
Do you expect a significant drop from Soriano compared to last years #'s?
I do. I just think at an older age he had a nice year but I just dont believe he'll repeat it..could go either way..Im not a fan, never have been so maybe Im biased..still, he is the type that even if he's down, that still means 20-25 hr, 70-80 rbi...you take that as a secondary guy but not a lead dog..maybe he'll surprise and repeat.. I have my doubts..
Where does Brett Jackson start the season and where does he finish the season?
Great Great question...no way does he make the team out of camp...I think they want to gobble up some wins and try to create a buzz and have some fun, etc before turning back to the minors for development..so I say he finshes with the big club..I coiuld say any OF on that roster being moved as a little piece (or big one in soriano's case) to help another team which opens up room again..swing has been re-worked so looking forward to seeing that in camp
Do you expect Castillo to win the full time job behind the plate, or will it be a season long platoon with Navarro?
I think it's Castillo's job to lose..they know what they are getting in Navarro, which isnt a whole heck of a lot..Nothing wrong with giving a guy a full chance and if he falters you change..you can do that when you;re rebuilding..not so much when contending
The Cubs seem to be lacking utility infielder depth outside of Valbuena. Do you see them picking someone up or is there a surprise player we should look for?
Another good question..I wrote that yesterday in my blog...man are they thin behind the startes in the infield..Brent Lillibridge is prob going to make this team...Valbuena is there and Alberto Gonzalez, who they picked up...If rizzo doesnt play 162 Ill be surprised...same with castro..so guess they wont need much...barney will play a ton too..valbuena will spell stewart and there you go...tons of time for those first three though..Gonzelez I guess would be the surprise cause he signed a minor league deal
Should we hope that Baez pushes Castro off SS or moves to 3B?
One of them, undoubtedly will be moved to 3rd...suppose small chance it could be second..Im not smart enough to know who it will be..I think Thoe said it right, it might become kind of obvious...someone is bulking up, or range is better with one guy...so early for Baez, lets see it play out...good prob to have when they come to it
When will the Cubs announce who will be DFA'd in order for Scott Hairston to be added to the 40 man roster. Also, who do you think is the most logical choice?
Gotta be any day..Im like most fans I like Campana..so Sappelt? Unless they are working a samll deal which is possible
Assuming that this is another "developmental" year (re: sacrificial lamb of bad-to-mediocre baseball) what's the realistic timeline to start seeing results from this roster/farm-in-progress?
The infield needs to make strides..huge yr for Barney...the easy answer to your question is next year but that MIGHT be too soon for a few guys..Hopefully jackson is ready...really is impossible to put a timeline on prospects no matter how good they look...rizzo was up and down before staying...2015 seems eve more realistic for the top guys who arent at AAA right now..but you never do know..no one does...
I read that city hall was wanting a deal between the cubs and rooftop owners to be completed soon. Have you heard any progress being made?
There is behind the scenes progress being done..I think the less you hear the better...Its like both sides made their public announcements, maybe to gague fan support, and now they are doing things quietly..there will be a deal..there will be rooftops used to watch games...ricketts wont get everything but he's still rich. lol
Will the Cubs try to trade Matt Garza at the trading deadline, that is if his healthy, to get prospects?
I still think so becasue the alternative is a huge payday...Its a risk/reward cost/analysis type thing..for example they know what they are getting e. jackson...lots of innings, hopefully better than .500 record, etc...to pay HUGE money to garza not really knowing if hes a true No. 1 or if he;ll stay healthy...i dont think so..but again, thats ot to say he's not needed..they need every talent they can find...so maybe they change thier mind..you have to replace him once you trade him but it might not be worth the money
Ok, good first showing..we'll expand these as we move into the season but right now, lets throw it to Doug Padilla for some sox conversation...All yours Doug!
Hey there, good to be back covering the White Sox again. Should be an interesting season. Let's begin.
What are your expectations for viciedo? I like to think he will have a monster year but I'm not sure.
As hitting coach Jeff Manto put it yesterday, Viciedo put up 25 HRs and 78 RBIs last season while going through a ton of issues. The small leg kick they have him working on sounds interesting. If it helps get his timing down (especially against right-handers) there's no reason he won't get better. A year of 30-100 would be huge, but shouldn't be a shock. It's going to be tough to get pitches, though, down in the second half of the batting order, where there is little to no protection.
Everyone keeps talking about a left handed hitter on the wish list. Who out there do you think the Sox will actually go after with spring training on the horizon?
Barring a last-minute move, which isn't expected, the White Sox appear done with significant roster moves. GM Rick Hahn said at SoxFest that he won't add a lefty bat just for cosmetic effect. It would have to be for impact. De Aza and Dunn are the only lefty bats projected to start, but remember, Rios and Konerko hit righties well and Keppinger isn't so bad himself.
Sorry for the slow start. Tech difficulties have been resolved. We will extend the chat a little longer.
What can the White Sox expect in a return at this point if they traded Gavin Floyd?
If you're looking for a significant lefty bat, that probably won't happen. A prospect in the lower half of a team's top 10 might be worked out along with another prospect thrown in. Gavin's problem is that he posted innings-eater numbers last season but didn't eat nearly enough innings. That has to change this year.
What is your predicted timetable for when the Sox will feel satisfied or not with John Danks enough to possibly trade for a left-handed batter?
Not sure if these two are necessarily related. Danks thinks he can be ready to start the season, but the club is prepared for him to miss at least the first two starts. Spring training will be telling for him. As for the lefty bat, see the previous answer. If RH pitching remains a concern the bat will probably be added at the trade deadline if it warrants.
Who would you expect to come up from the minors this season and who would you expect to be traded away? Doesn't next season look as though the Sox will be young most everywhere (no Konerko nor Floyd plus only 1 year left for Dunn, Rios, etc...? Thanks.
The White Sox are certainly getting old in some areas. Looks like Jared Mitchell could be a significant call-up this season, but probably not until the second half. He still needs some Triple-A seasoning. But the development staff has been raving about the progress he is finally making after that gruesome ankle injury in his first spring training.
How well do you think Chris Sale's arm will hold up this year and for his career? Also, do you think anything will happen such as a continuous decrease in velocity, less movement on pitches, etc....thanks
There is always a HUGE concern the year after a guy makes a big innings jump. Sale made a big jump last season, his first as a starter so this is the caution year. The main precaution the White Sox will take is allowing him to get a later start this spring to avoid wear and tear. It might not be that big of a deal, though, since the spring is extended by about 2 weeks because of the WBC. This guy can be the franchise so the White Sox will take it as cautiously as possibly.
I know Flowers has a much better arm to play against the run than AJ did, but I also heard some people saying his game calling was also going to be better than AJ's. I always thought AJ was a great game caller, does Flowers really have that good of a head on his shoulers or was someone being a little too optimistic about Flowers? Or was I just wrong about AJ?
Game-calling wasn't a strength for Flowers when the White Sox acquired him. He has improved a ton in that area but it seems to have come at the expense of his offense. Flowers should certainly be better against the running game. AJ was very good at game calling. Flowers shouldn't be too far behind, though. One thing seems sure, talking to him at SoxFest, he was as intense as I have ever seen him. And that was just chatting in the hotel lobby.
Doug, what are the chances the whitesox make the playoffs as the tigers seem the big strong favorites this year. Gonna be wierd without AJ.
The Tigers are the huge favorites, as they should be. The White Sox need to play like they did last season but extend that solid play through September. But they'll also need the Tigers to slide back to them a bit. Teams with tons of superstars can have chemistry issues. The White Sox have to hope that happens at least a little bit with the Tigers. Not expecting it, though. Hunter is a a big asset in the clubhouse and should help those guys big time.
And yes it will be odd without AJ. The quiet clubhouse is going to be bizarre.
Do the Royals have a legitimate shot of contending in the AL Central this year?
If they played the White Sox more than 19 times a year they'd be going to the playoffs. They should make noise. Their offense is obviously dynamic. Not sure they have enough pitching to get the job done, though.
With the Sox roster pretty much set, it looks like the team will be able to compete for at least a division title. With the Cubs fielding another low expectation minor league type team, do you think the Sox might draw some Cub fans to the Cell? The Cub fans might want a chance to watch some competitive baseball.
David, David, David. When I lived in LA, like you do now, I might have thought the same. Now that I have lived in Chicago for the better part of the last decade I know better. You don't just cross lines that easily, and if you do you weren't a real Cubs or White Sox fan to begin with.
Thanks for the questions. And again, it's good to be back. Let's do this again next Friday from Glendale, Ariz. Talk to you then.