Cubs

Cubs' latest front office acquisition another steal from San Diego

842251.png

Cubs' latest front office acquisition another steal from San Diego

The Cubs continue to cull talent from San Diego while molding their front office.
The Cubs have hired San Diego Padres director of amateur scouting Jaron Madison to fill the same role in Chicago. Madison joins general manager Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, senior vice president of scouting and player development, who also left the Padres for the Cubs.
Jaron understands our systems and the processes, McLeod said Saturday. Hes a talented evaluator himself and a great manager of scouts, very organized and detailed.
The Cubs also promoted Tom Wilken, director of amateur and professional scouting, to special assistant to the presidentgeneral manager.
Tim is such a talented evaluator, McLeod said. His history speaks for itself. It allows us to utilize his strengths to reach more areas of the organization. I know hes really excited about it. It makes him feel, notre-energizedlike he needed it, but hes been in amateur scouting so long and done such a great job there, I know he feels like he was ready to contribute to other departments of the organization.
McLeod also addressed the progress of several prospects in the Cubs minor-league system, including outfielder Albert Almora, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Almora was hitting .262 through 15 games at the rookie level.
The two months off from his high school season ending, not signing till mid-July, certainly that set him back as far as his timing and seeing pitches, McLeod said. Hes really getting back in the groove of things. Right now there are no immediate plans other than keeping him playing down there and letting him get his timing back.
Jorge Soler, the Cuban outfielder who signed a nine-year, 30 million deal, recently made the jump to Single-A Peoria from the rookie level.
We dont have any big expectations for him this year other than to get professionalized, learn his teammates, get assimilated to the country and baseball in the United States, McLeod said. So far, hes handled that part of it very, very well.
First baseman Daniel Vogelbach, the Cubs 2011 second-round pick, has eight home runs in 16 games with short-season Boise.
Hes only played 40 games or so (this season), got 15 home runs, big, strong, McLeod said. Hes got a chance to really create some havoc. It remains to be seen (if he stays in Boise). If he continues on this pace, he might force the issue a little bit. Hes already hit his way out of Mesa and 10 games or so in Boise now hes doing the same thingthere.

Joe Maddon is liking the look of Cubs 'backwards' lineup

Joe Maddon is liking the look of Cubs 'backwards' lineup

No matter how much people complain and Tweet, Joe Maddon will never go with a set lineup every game.

But that doesn't mean he won't let certain spots in the lineup settle in for a couple weeks in a row.

That's what may be occuring right now with Anthony Rizzo holding serve as the "Greatest Leadoff Hitter of All-Time" once again.

Rizzo made his 5th straight start atop the Cubs order Friday after collecting a pair of doubles and a walk in Thursday's 9-6 victory.

Initially, moving Rizzo from the heart of the order to the top was in part to help the Cubs first baseman get going. Maddon is a big fan of hitting guys leadoff to help them reset mentally and find their stroke again.

But it is working — Rizzo entered play Friday 8-for-16 with 5 doubles, 3 walks, 3 runs and 3 RBI in the leadoff spot over the last week. The promptly reached on a hit-by-pitch and walk his first two times up Friday.

He's also been the team's biggest cheerleader:

So how long will Maddon keep this unconventional lineup?

"I don't know," he said, smiling and shaking his head. "I don't know. He came up again in crucial moments [Thursday]. He looks really good out there. I don't know. That's my exact answer."

Yes, Rizzo is looking good in the leadoff spot, but his insertion atop the order has given the Cubs lineup a new dynamic. 

With Rizzo first and Kris Bryant second, the guys that are historically the Cubs' top two run producers are hitting atop the order and "behind" the pitcher's spot. 

But they're also the Cubs' top two on-base guys and Maddon is liking the look of Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist — two high-contact guys — following Bryzzo in the order, as they have done recently. (It doesn't hurt to have the NL leader in RBI — Javy Baez — hitting cleanup, either.)

"It's almost a backwards way of doing this right now that I'm finding fascinating," Maddon said. "So I'm just gonna let it play for just a little bit and see where it takes us."

It's taken the Cubs on a 4-game winning streak endcapping the All-Star Break, though the Cardinals got up big early Friday afternoon.

For a team that leads the NL in just about every important offensive category, it's going to be a huge key moving forward if Rizzo gets going on a consistent basis in the second half.

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

The Cubs didn't wait long to make Joe Maddon's words come true.

Roughly 5 hours after Maddon said the Cubs are definitely in the market for more pitching, the front office went out and acquired Jesse Chavez, a journeyman jack-of-all-trades type.

It's a minor move, not in the realm of Zach Britton or any of the other top relievers on the market.

But the Cubs only had to part with pitcher Class-A pitcher Tyler Thomas, their 7th-round draft pick from last summer who was pitching out of the South Bend rotation as a 22-year-old.

Chavez — who turns 35 in a month — brings over a vast array of big-league experience, with 799 innings under his belt. He's made 70 starts, 313 appearances as a reliever and even has 3 saves, including one this season for the Texas Rangers.

Chavez is currently 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He has a career 4.61 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while pitching for the Pirates, Braves, Royals, Blue Jays, A's, Dodgers, Angels and Rangers before coming to Chicago.

Of his 30 appearances this season, Chavez has worked multiple innings 18 times and can serve as a perfect right-handed swingman in the Cubs bullpen, filling the role previously occupied by Luke Farrell and Eddie Butler earlier in the season.

Chavez had a pretty solid run as a swingman in Oakland from 2013-15, making 47 starts and 50 appearances as a reliever, pitching to a 3.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 across 360.1 innings.

"Good arm, versatile, could start and relieve," Joe Maddon said Thursday after the trade. "I've watched him. I know he had some great runs with different teams. 

"The word that comes to mind is verstaility. You could either start him or put him in the bullpen and he's very good in both arenas."

It's not a flasy move, but a valuable piece to give the Cubs depth down the stretch.

There's no way the Cubs are done after this one trade with nearly two weeks left until the deadline. There are more moves coming from this front office, right?

"Oh yeah," Maddon said. "I don't think that's gonna be the end of it. They enjoy it too much."