Chat with Jesse Rogers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Tuesday, Jesse Rogers stops by to chat about the Chicago Cubs' offseason.
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 (1:03 PM)
Hi all, welcome to our weekly Cubs chat from spring training now! Pitchers and catchers have been working out for about a week. Position players start tomorrow though most are here at the facility now. I'm sitting outside after watching the Cubs prac and play some basketball. Ryan Sweeney just beat Rizzo and Baez in a game of horse. Fire away with questions!
Why won't the cubs let Alcantara try to beat out Barney for second base job?
Jesse Rogers (1:05 PM)
I talked to Theo Epstein about that concept during a podcast we taped this morning. It will be avail soon. They just feel there is a progression for players and he hasnt played above Double-A so he's not a finished product yet. Simple as that. I also talked to Alcantara and for what its worth it sounds like he knows he has some things to work on.
D.Knight peori,il [via mobile]
Mike Olt isnt getting as much talk as i thought he would.He was untouchable just a year ago, clearly his vision problems were affecting him, do you think he gets every chance possible to start 3b. I would think so.
Jesse Rogers (1:07 PM)
Depends what you mean by "every possible chance." He gets a chance, yes. But they arent going to be handing it to him. And you know what I mean by that. Some guys get jobs without good springs, etc. He needs to show it in all ways to win it. I dont think he's the favorite but production will tell the story.
Hey Jesse, do you think finishing .500 is realistic? That's what I'm hoping for as a fan. That would be a very successful year IMO. Thanks.
Jesse Rogers (1:07 PM)
Almost no chance...only way is if top prospects come up AND are lights out...even then, prob not enough.
Andrew (Chicago, IL)
Realistically, how many games do you see the Cubs winning this year? Over/Under 72?
Jesse Rogers (1:08 PM)
If Vizcaino stays healthy do you see him getting a chance to start in future season?
Jesse Rogers (1:09 PM)
Tough one. A chance? I suppose. Always would rather have a talent start then close but his arm problems might relegate him to the bullpen. If you're telling me he's back to where he was as a prospect then sure, he gets a chance but not until next year.
Rene [via mobile]
Any updates on Mike Olt? How's he looked? Thanks
Jesse Rogers (1:10 PM)
Too early. Position players aren't going through official drills. All on their own.
Tom (Southern California)
Jesse, Do you agree that if Castro and Rizzo don't have good season the Theo-Ned Plan takes a major back step backwards. To me Rizzo is the key for the plan to get a boost. Thank you for your time. Go Cubs!
Jesse Rogers (1:11 PM)
I assume you meant Jed. Yes, of course, any core player that takes a step back hurts the plan. No doubt.
Steve S (Batavia Ia)
Isnt the reality of this season that StL is so far ahead of the Cubs talent wise that no matter what the record is 7/1, team Theo will be forced to start flipping players for prospects?
Jesse Rogers (1:11 PM)
Joe B (Oxford, CT)
Assuming Baez has a strong 1st half at Iowa, when do you project him being promoted to Chicago? Mid June like Rizzo was to keep another year of team control, July 1, post All Star break?
Jesse Rogers (1:12 PM)
Late June makes sense. Rizzo was June 26, so yes, that timeline should work if he's performing.
Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Bryant...why can't the cubs be more competitive this year at mid season? Bullpen looks better, Rotation isn't terrible.
Jesse Rogers (1:14 PM)
Because Bryant and Baez will be in the minors. And Lake is a rookie. And the other 2 OF players are really good reserve guys and the rotation is just ok and, and , and ....
What are the chances that Emilio Bonifacio becomes the opening day 2B? He played well in his small stint with KC last year, and he brings a better career BA/OBP than Barney. And Bonifacio steals bases. It would be a downgrade in defense at 2B but I think the offensive upside justifies the switch. What are your thoughts?
Jesse Rogers (1:15 PM)
I think Barney gets his shot to show he can be better at the plate and I think he deserves it. If Castro and Rizzo get to rebound from bad BA, why doesn't Barney? Can always make the change later.
lgb (Evanston, Il)
Jesse some photo's on the internetz seem to indicate Baez with a noticeable weight gain (not in a good way). Any first hand observations? #Want.
Jesse Rogers (1:17 PM)
He says he put on some muscle..I can't tell a huge difference. I just posted some vid of him playing basketball on twitter so take a look and you decide. @espnchicubs
Hey Jesse.I know its very early into spring training for pitchers, but what pitchers are fighting for a starting job? And who do you think will be our starting five going into the start of the season? Thanks.
Jesse Rogers (1:18 PM)
Chris Rusin and James McDonald are fighting it out if Jake Arrieta can't go. But right now it sounds as if Arrieta might be ok. He says he'll throw off the mound by Friday. So Wood, Samardzija, Jackson, Hammel and Arrieta are the top 5 right now
Steve, (Peoria) [via mobile]
Hey Jesse love your stuff! We all know pitching will be addressed heavily in the draft, but with the first round pick I have read a lot about the cubs liking Trea Turner. Any truth behind that?
Jesse Rogers (1:21 PM)
If you're hearing rumors now it's way premature. Of course they can "like" a guy but I talked to Jason McLeod at the convention and asked him the process. Honestly said each new year they absolutely keep an open mind because that season at hand (college or HS) 99 times out of 100 tell the story for the top picks of the draft. These are kids who go up and down and so with seasons just getting going, it's simply way too early. There is always an exception or two but I'm not even thinking about that until April and we see some years plasy out, etc.
Bryce Harper played 134 minor league games and Mike Trout played 286. With that said, how do you think the Cubs will treat this year with Kris Bryant? If he tears the minors apart do you see him in the big leagues this year or do they give him a full year in the Minors no matter what and then have him break with the team next year out of camp?
Jesse Rogers (1:23 PM)
Unless there is a change of plans, almost assuredly next year. I don't see it in 2014. I suppose a slight chance in Sept but I really doubt it. If they have the pitching I could see Iowa having a good year and Bryant being there for a playoff run, etc. That would be the experience they want for those guys more than a cup of coffee at Wrigley.
Assuming bonifacio makes the team, who do you think has the best chance at the last roster spot?
Jesse Rogers (1:25 PM)
It's a good question. They're pretty good in terms of lefties and righties, etc. and the mix of infielders and outfielders in terms of positions so my point is it doesn't seem like they'll have a specific need for that 25th man. It might just come down to who's ripping it in games. Former rookie of the year Chris Coghlan might be the guy or Ryan Kalish so I guess my answer is I dont know! There is nothing pointing in one direction or another. Maybe it's Mike Olt.
Joe Iazzetto (Chicago) [via mobile]
Do you think Mike Olt will be the Opening Day 3rd basemen?
Jesse Rogers (1:26 PM)
Just to answer this again. If I had to choose yes or no, I would say no.
Two years in to his tenure, do you think Theo had any idea of what he was getting into with the continual circus around the organization due to Wrigley and the neighborhood?
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
Mark (Orland Park)
When Hammel and possibly Samardzija or Jackson are traded, who steps into the rotation to fill their spots?
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
Hendricks, Rusin, Villanueva, surprise candidates?
Jesse Rogers (1:28 PM)
BTW, Villanueva could be a deadline guy to go as well.
The Cubs seem to be relying heavily on Wellington Castillo coming through for them at the catcher position. What do you think his max potential is? If he does not pan out, does Theo and Co. really have a back up plan in terms of someone in the farm system or will they most likely look at the free agent market if need be?
Jesse Rogers (1:31 PM)
I think defensively he can be one of the best in the game if he's not approaching that now. He's right behing Molina in the NL that's for sure. Offensively, I don't think we'll see the next Piazza or anything. He's got some muscle but he's not a big guy. He got better at taking walks in the second half last year so that's good. If he can be a .350 on-base guy with 10-12 HR, I think that works..Maybe he can get to 60-70 RBI but he has a ceiling. After him there isn't much but I think he's going to be fine based on his defense alone.
Mike ALIOTO (Oak Forest)
Will Baez have any chance making the team out spring training or is going to triple A and wait until June
Jesse Rogers (1:32 PM)
Please read my blog for these updates. Go back and look at stories in there. Been stated and written many time since the end of last season. Triple-A shortstop. Just click on the Cubs blog!
What are the players' opinions on the new facilities? All rave reviews I'm assuming? And how about that Baez jump shot!!
Jesse Rogers (1:34 PM)
Actually, one weird quirk is in the locker room. In the morning the sun shines directly on one side of all the lockers so it's right in players faces. And this is Az. No clouds. I saw catcher George Kottaras climb up on a locker and try to block the sun with a cardboard box. And it's a little small in there with all the players for spring but outside, the facilities are great. The fields are perfect, etc. And behind the scenes in the wieght room, etc are very nice.
How does the Bonifacio signing impact guys like Barney, Valbuena and Murphy? A chance one does not make the opening day roster?
Jesse Rogers (1:35 PM)
I think they all make it opening day including Bonifacio. It's competition, no doubt. But I think he's a super utility guy until something changes, either one of those guys falters or there is an injury. It's those other guys jobs to lose.
Jason (San Diego) [via mobile]
What are the chance the cubs lock up Samardzija in %?
Jesse Rogers (1:37 PM)
Less than 50...but things do change. I did a podcast with Theo today where we address that and I like what he said. When you have an impasse and you have time on your side, you table the discussion and see if things change. And things can change based on how Samardzija pitches this year and of course how the team does. But right now, it doesn't look good. One thing I know, if they can't get a deal done by July, he's gone for sure by the 31st of that month.
Dan (Lincoln Park) [via mobile]
After Shark, who is most likely to be traded?
Jesse Rogers (1:38 PM)
Schierholtz, for sure. Veras. Villanueva? Ruggiano?
what are the chances KB stays at third as he progresses through the minors and eventually makes the big leagues? Seems like Baez and Alcantara will be here before he is, and if they are proving to be legit big league building blocks, does Bryant just go to left? Seems wrong to put Soler in left with his cannon.
Jesse Rogers (1:40 PM)
If many of the infield prospects work out before Bryant is here then he will go to the OF. Soler would stay in right and Bryant would go to left. But right now, they're thinking 3rd base until further notice.
ryan (des moines, iowa)
Do you think that the ongoing legal battle with the Cubs ownership and the rooftop owners will be rectified in the near future? Do you see that as a bigger issue for the team and management to not be further along in the rebuilding plan and do you favor one side or the other in this battle?
Jesse Rogers (1:42 PM)
I'll just answer the last question. AS crazy as it sounds I actually lean towards the rooftop owners. I don't want to get into the whole thing but I think the Cubs could make an adjustment or two on size or placement and this would all be done. Maybe they make a few less dollars but they make free money (I know the rooftop owners are stealing the product. I know, I know.) off the rooftops. They did sign a contract. That contract did not just give the Cubs money, it protected the rooftops. THATS WHY THE ROOFTOP OWNERS SIGNED IT. Now I know there is a ton of gray area here but those are my basic thoughts.
In your opinion, what is Rizzo's ceiling? Castro's? Do you think Castro can turn it around and have a solid season to keep the rebuilding process on pace?
Jesse Rogers (1:45 PM)
No reason not to believe Rizzo can't be a .275, 30 HR, 100 RBI guy with a .375 on-base..The RBI are a product of his teammates so he needs better players in front of him. And he's proven he has the power. Let's see if he sacrifces power for BA or what not. I don't think he will. I won't garauntee anything with Castro. But if he can't succeed with this new coaching staff and all the tools and resources they're giving him then we might have a problem Houston.
Steve S (Batavia Ia)
It appears that the Cubs defensive roster is basically set with the exception being the 3rd base and a utility infield/outfield player(s). Doesn't that seem a bit odd there is no competition for playing time on a team that could loose 100 games?
Jesse Rogers (1:46 PM)
Yes and No. If the young prospects were ready there would be more competition. But right now, you're just filling some holes like in the OF and 3rd base until they're ready.
With the Cubs keeping Baez at shortstop in the minors, do you think there is any chance they may trade Castro? The Yankees seem like a logical choice if they decide to trade Castro since they'll be looking for a replacement for Jeter but I don't think the Yankees have what the Cubs would want back in return. What do you think?
Jesse Rogers (1:48 PM)
Yes, of course there could be a chance. A series of things have to happen but he's untradeable. his contract his friendly and the Cubs do have pitching needs. But you are correct, right now the Yanks don't have those kinds of prospects. The Cubs need a No.1-2 starter for Castro unless he's just awful. Then again if he's good again, they could use him. It's not like they have 8 positions all set. We have to let this all play out. Too many variables.
Mike (St Louis)
I'm on board with the rebuild and would love to see the Cubs trade away anyone they don't see in the plans for 2016. Hopefully that means another sell off this summer. Any idea why the Cubs weren't able to trade Gregg at the deadline last year (or Camp the year before)? Was the return not worth taking the arm out of the bullpen? Is it better to set something instead of nothing?
Jesse Rogers (1:49 PM)
From what I was told about Gregg, there were no takers. Don't know about Camp.
Greg (Bloomington, IN)
Hey Jesse, I just read your article on Samardzija focusing on boosting his value. If Jeff finally takes that big leap this year and starts consistently pitching like the ace we all hoped he could be when he was drafted and have seen glimpses of throughout his career, does that increase or decrease the likelihood that he gets traded? Will the Cubs be willing to pay the guy the money he wants if he shows more consistency or will they jump at the chance to offload him when his value skyrockets? With attendance projected by some to be at an all time low at Wrigley this year, does Jeff's ability to put butts in the seats play any role at all in the Cubs' decision to trade him? As someone who's been a huge fan of the Shark since he was catching passes for Brady Quinn at ND, I'm really hoping that by some miracle this won't be his last year in Chicago. Is there any scenario in which that makes sense for the Cubs or do you believe they're better off dealing him at the deadline?
Jesse Rogers (1:52 PM)
I think I mention that in the blog. Do the Cubs up the ante or just get more for him if he's going well? My head says he's still traded but my gut says they need this guy too much. And if he finally proves he can do it for an entire season then they up the ante. However, the price goes up if they wait until next offseason. I know that for a fact. The closer he gets to FA the more it will cost the Cubs. So we're caught in a catch-22. Cubs want to see he can be the man and then maybe they'll pay him but by then he'll want more. Again, listen to the podcast today with Theo in my blog.
Jesse, Where do the Cubs stand with the rooftop owners at this point? Do you think there's any possibility of working out an agreement so that these renovations don't get pushed back even further?
Jesse Rogers (1:53 PM)
I don't have an update. Been ensconsed in spring training and that story gives me a headache. We're pushed back pretty far now so what matters now is just getting it done, forget a timeline. No update though.
Jorge Soler 100% healthy? Where does he start the year?
Jesse Rogers (1:54 PM)
Dan (Lincoln Park) [via mobile]
It seems like this year could be Castro's last year if he struggles. Do you get that perception from the Front Office, too?
Jesse Rogers (1:55 PM)
No, because they will never say that privately or publicly so I don't get that impression. However, they see what we see and if Baez is ready and is playing well at short and Castro's days are numbered then we know what could happen. I also think they believe with Renteria in the mix he will return to prominence.
Where do you think Almora and Soler end up this season?
Jesse Rogers (1:57 PM)
Would be intersting to see Soler and Bryant end up at Triple-A and play in a postseason run there. Almora should def be up to Double-A by then. But I'm not ruling out a full season at Double-A for Soler. He's still behind others in terms of games played. But listen, I don't have a crystal ball, if they're ripping the ball they move up. If not, they stay where they are. I think Bryant is the most sure thing in the minors though..
Any trades you think the make before the season starts?
Jesse Rogers (1:59 PM)
Can never predict for sure but there is always a chance Samardzija could be moved. I tend to doubt it but a team in the hunt might have an injury and come calling. Or I guess Barney if some team is in need of defense. That would be about all I could see happening but I would say probably not.
Your take re Arrieta? Start the season on the DL or just a small setback?
Jesse Rogers (2:00 PM)
Samll setback. He just passed by me and he said he feels great. Should be on the mound by this Friday.
Jesse - keep up the great work. How has the team responded to Rick Renteria? Have you noticed any significant differences in how the team responds as compared to Sveum?
Jesse Rogers (2:02 PM)
Nah. Too early. Not many guys know him at all. Some haven't met him. Every team is doing what the Cubs are doing now. Bullpen sessions etc. We won't see his personality imprinted on this team for a while.
Jesse, If Olt proves he can be the everyday third basemen do the Cubs start the process of moving Bryant to the outfield?
Jesse Rogers (2:03 PM)
Probabaly not this year. They would make that decision in the offseason I believe.
Travis (South Elgin)
Is it safe to say that the NL Central is poised to dominate the NL for years to come with Chi, StL, Pit farm systems? And how long until you see the Cubs as a contender?
Jesse Rogers (2:04 PM)
I think the Cubs can make some noise by 2016..Their peak is prob 2018/2019. Now get up off the floor you just fell on.
Al Smith (Downers Grove)
Are we going to see another bunting contest or something similar to that?
Jesse Rogers (2:04 PM)
Al Smith (Downers Grove)
Have you heard what the schedule will be for the workouts once they start?
Jesse Rogers (2:05 PM)
Basically they get outside around 9 am and go until about noon, give or take a few min either way.
What is Samardzija's attitude like given all the contract distractions? (IS it a true distraction - one that could affect his pitching, or the locker room, for him or anyone else?)
Jesse Rogers (2:07 PM)
Not for the locker room. And I can't get inside his head. He is supremely confident so I don't think he believes it will be one. He's going to make good money and probably play for a contender either here or somewhere else so how bad is it for him? I think he'll be fine.
Jesse Rogers (2:09 PM)
Based on projections they feel the same way but at this point it's about production. Did Maddux look like a HOF when he broke in? How many guys do? Projections only mean something because you have to base your needs on SOMETHING. In other words, if everyone's abilities dictated exactly what they would be then we know the Cubs are short top end rotation guys. So based on that, it's a need. But maybe it's less of a need in a year or two when we see Hendricks and Edwards, etc. Or maybe it's more of a need.
Nick B. (Omaha)
What are the chances of James MacDonald making a rotation spot if Arietta continues to have injury problems?
Jesse Rogers (2:10 PM)
Think it's pretty good.
I haven't heard a lot about the new Mesa, Arizona spring training complex. We're considering taking the family there. Can you tell us about it?
Jesse Rogers (2:12 PM)
It's nice. The new stadium is nice. The whole complex is very big. Plenty to do on the other side of the park for kids, etc. There's baseball and sunshine and a brand new park. What's not to like?
Jesse Rogers (2:15 PM)
Thats it for today. Renteria is about to start his daily press briefing. Check out the Cubs blog for info everyday, twice a day! Podcast with Theo will be in there today..story on Rizzo and the prospects went up a while ago. Follow me on twitter @espnchicubs. Next week for our live chat I have pitcher Travis Wood scheduled to join me so start thinking of some good questions. Ill be on ESPN 1000 today at 4 pm CST with my daily report.