Spring Training 2016; Arms Impress in Opener

cubs 3-3 line score

Full Box Score

It wasn’t the desired result for the Cubs but there were plenty of things to like in the Cubs spring training opener today against the Brewers.  Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Richard, Rex Brothers, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Spencer Patton combined to four hit the Brewers while walking one, and striking out thirteen.  The bats were slow to get going in this one as the Cubs group of hitters could only push across one run on seven hits.  Javier Baez got the start in center today, and struggled in the early going.  He played an out (maybe a double) into a triple right off the bat, then one hitter later he dropped a fly ball, it’ll get better.

Some of today’s standouts:

Kyle Schwarber:  1-for-3
Kris Bryant: 1-for-2
Miguel Montero: 2-for-2 with a double
Dan Vogelbach: 1-for-3 with a double, and an RBI

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Dexter Fowler Signs With Cubs, Coghlan Traded; Weeeeeeee!

Well, it’s been an interesting last hour.

Dexter Fowler is a member of the Chicago Cubs, again.  Earlier this week it was widely reported that the Cubs’ 2015 CF was signing a 3 year $33M deal with the Baltimore Orioles.  Apparently that is not the case as Fowler has just signed a 1 year deal to return to the Cubs!  Per Mark Gonzales Fowler will get $8M in 2016, and then there is a mutual option for $9M with a $5M buyout.

This news is coming on the heels of a trade that the Cubs announced earlier this morning.  The Cubs have traded Chris Coghlan to Oakland for pitch Aaron Brooks, not the point guard for the Bulls.  The outfield situation seems to be unfolding for the Cubs now and not later in spring.  The acquisition (re?) of Fowler means that Heyward goes to RF which pushes Soler into LF, and that could be to share time with Schwarber out there when he is not catching.  Crazy stuff going down right now, and I think the Cubs just got better, again.

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Fantasy Baseball 2016: The Cubs Infield Rankings from Baseball Prospectus

Russell Hi

There are plenty of reasons why I love this time of year. The weather is starting to warm up (marginally), spring training is just kicking off, and fantasy baseball is emerging from its off-season hibernation.

If you are in to fantasy baseball then I suggest you keep reading because I will provide some knowledge from one of the best brains in the game, Mr. Bret Sayre from Baseball Prospectus; follow him on twitter @dynastyguru). Bret specifically focuses on dynasty league rankings so you can expect that these rankings were put together with the idea that you might be freezing/keeping these players after this year. Typically that could mean that a player with a better future ahead of him might be more valuable in the long run than a player expected to achieve greater success in 2016. That’s just a heads up as some of you might notice that these rankings could be a little different than your average run of the mill fantasy baseball rankings. Because this is a Cubs blog we are going to focus on where Bret has said Cubs in his rankings, get excited!

** Rankings listed next to player are the positional ranking, not overall player ranking. Notes about the ranking are my own.

Catcher

2. Kyle Schwarber – All the way up to second, that’s pretty awesome. Obviously a popular topic is whether or not Schwarber will stick at catcher, regardless Schwarber should have eligibility at C heading into this year’s draft. If he does stick at catcher or at least has the eligibility there then his value is through the roof compared to if he was strictly an outfielder. His value would still be high, but you aren’t going to see the numbers he is going to put up from the position behind the plate typically.

14. Miguel Montero – Miggy falls just outside the normal range for your everyday starting catcher (typically top 10-12 are going to be your #1). It’s not a bad value for Miggy as he is still going to get a large amount of playing time in the middle of a lineup that looks to be very dangerous heading into 2016.

31. Willson Contreras – The Cubs number one prospect is getting some love from Bret and looks like someone to target late in drafts because of his future value behind the plate.

First Base

2. Anthony Rizzo – Only Paul Goldschmidt ranks ahead of Rizzo which seems reasonable giving how awesome that guy is. I love the ranking for Rizzo and it makes a lot of sense because he seems to be getting better with each season and now sits in the middle of a lineup that is ripe for production for the foreseeable future. Entering his age 26 season Rizzo looks to improve upon some gaudy numbers from last year, (38 doubles, 31 homers, 101 RBI, 17 stolen bases, 78 walks, 94 runs).

23. Dan Vogelbach – I’m not surprised that Vogelbach continues to receive favorable rankings in the dynasty leagues. The big man at first base is a threat across the board but he’ll probably have to find another team to play for in the National League, or move to the American League as first base/DH are his only options.

Second Base

9. Javier Baez – Baez has always been an intriguing option but this year his value takes a bit of a hit because of the acquisition of Ben Zobrist and the versatile Cubs roster. That doesn’t mean that Baez is void of value, he made improvements to his game last year and has been rumored to play a little CF this year. The more time on the field the better for Baez and his owners moving forward.

18. Ben Zobrist – The newcomer to the Cubs has never really had a ton of value at one position because he is so versatile. Teaming up with Joe Maddon this year means that Zobrist will be utilized to his full potential wherever the Cubs skipper needs him. Because of that I expect him to be in the lineup the majority of time which will give Zobrist plenty of value to be drafted as a utility/bench guy this year.

32. Arismendy Alcantara – Yes, he does still exist! Alcantara has been floating around these lists for a few years and is kind of the forgotten man in the Cubs organization. He still has a World of talent but needs to prove he belongs on the field as the next wave of Cubs prospects are nipping at his heels.

Third Base

2. Kris Bryant – Depending on what kind of league you play in Bryant might be the number one overall pick. No one in the game can match the pure power that he has, but he comes in on this list right behind Manny Machado. The fact that 2015 could be the bottom of the barrel in terms of production is enough to invest highly in Bryant as the cornerstone of your fantasy franchise.

34. Jeimer Candelario – The thing that has impressed me with Candelario is that he is a prospect that has seen a fair amount of failure only to learn from it and get better. Candelario has made some solid strides in the past year or so which gives him some value moving forward.

Shortstop

4. Addison Russell – I still contend that when it is all said and done Addison Russell might be the best of the bunch when it comes to the recent group of Cubs prospects. Russell does everything well, and flashed brilliance in 2015 before seeing his season end early in the playoffs due to an injury. I see no reason why Russell can’t get better with experience as he has shown the ability to make adjustments through his minor league career.

25. Gleyber Torres – Don’t look now but the Cubs have another shortstop that is making noise in the minors. Torres is the next big thing coming out of the Cubs’ system and he could be ready to make some sort of impact earlier than initially expected as he made it all the way to High-A Myrtle Beach last year as an 18 year old. Torres is definitely a guy that I would have no problem stashing in a minor league spot and waiting to see that investment pay off in a big way.

Once the full outfielder rankings, and pitching rankings are released I will put something similar together for you.  Thanks for reading!

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Spring Training 2016: Rizzo, Heyward, and Schwarber are Already Crushing Baseballs (PHOTOS)

Cubs Spring

It’s hard to believe, but the 2016 season is just about ready to bust down the doors as Cubs pitchers, and catchers are scheduled to report later this week.  I will have full coverage, well as much as possible, starting this week.

A few players have gotten an early start, and my buddy John Arguello of Cubs Den and Appraising Arizona is capturing the action.  Have a look at the pictures below, and give John a follow on Twitter.

Full set of pictures at Cubs Den.

Now with VIDEO!

Heyward and Rizzo

So this pic should whet your appetite for Cubs baseball #Rizzo #Heyward pic.twitter.com/gOEuV1FLio

— John Arguello(@CubsDen) February 15, 2016

Heyward and Schwarber

This may be my favorite pic of the day #Heyward #Schwarber #Cubs pic.twitter.com/i646jB50pz

— John Arguello(@CubsDen) February 15, 2016

Jake Arrieta tank top alert

A glimpse of you 2015 NL CY Young Award Winner pic.twitter.com/mttUQ2v2W5

— John Arguello(@CubsDen) February 15, 2016

** Header picture from Cubs.com

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