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 (1:05 PM)
Hi folks, welcome to our weekly chat from spring training. I'm inside the Cubs facility as they prac outside. Games start on Thur after an intra-squad scrimmage on Wed. Hope you're enjoying it all in my Cubs blog. Good stuff in there. Will be posting a podcast I did with Jeff Samardzija. He has opinions on everything. Will be up later. Fire away with questions
Ray (Winter's back, Wisconsin)
Will the Cubs be ready to contend in 2015?
Jesse Rogers (1:06 PM)
I doubt it but at least it's not a definitive no like this year is. It would take several rookie or young players having huge years which isn't likely to happen but at least those players will have higher ceilings than many on this team. So, no, but we should really start to see the youth of this team take over.
looking at vine clips it looks like castro has gotten bigger, you see him close up, is it fair to say he is bigger and stronger and is it showing at batting practice ?
Jesse Rogers (1:07 PM)
Definitely more muscular in the arms and a little leaner...You can tell. Hard to really see it in BP..I think it pays off over the course of the year.
Randy W (Manteno)
I have been looking at the Cubs regular season schedule and I think it's a lot tougher than last year. Will the Cubs lose 100 games this year?
Jesse Rogers (1:08 PM)
If you think the AL east is the best in baseball and NL central is right there as well then that's why it looks tougher..NY, Bos, Tampa, etc. Ouch.
Justin Koehneke (Chicago)
The future 2nd baseman for the Cubs will be Javier Baez? (assuming olt or bryant are play well and starlin bounces back)
Jesse Rogers (1:10 PM)
It's logical. Could end up in the outifeld for all we know, though that's not the plan, so sure 2nd seems best chance given your parameters. Then again Bryant might end up out there and Baez could be at 3rd! Just don't know how things play out. We can speculate but that's all it would be. The Cubs don't know either. Last year at this very moment Junior Lake was the third baseman of the future.
Do you believe Jeff Samardzija will remain a Cub through this season? If not, what is his trade value? I understand much of his value depends on how he performs through the trade deadline. But, what do you believe they will be able to get for him, if they trade him at all?
Jesse Rogers (1:13 PM)
As of this moment, no he won't be here in August. He or the Cubs would have to change their minds regarding his deal. I don't think that is likely to happen but not impossible. Right now the Cubs bascially want other teams No. 1 pitching prospects. We've heard that several diff times. He can prob net you no. 2 type guys so the Cubs are probably hopeful a team gets desperate at the deadline and gives up a No. 1 type. Think Archie Bradley of Az. The Cubs would jump at that but Az isn't budging.
Bearlychi69 (Atlanta Ga.)
Wassup Jesse! I believe with the bullpen being much improved. We will win another 10 to 12 games. But my question is do you see any chance that we break with an outfield of Lake, Brett Jackson and Schierholtz? I believe Jackson is a 25/25 player and that this would be a very athletic outfield for 2014.
Jesse Rogers (1:15 PM)
I tend to doubt it but maybe. He's still finding his way back but I suppose for he and Vitters the chance to win a job is still there. They simply arent the favorites but spring games will determine a lot. Dominate and they win a job. No one knows if they can or will. Otherwise it's back to the minors.
Are Len and JD around camp at all? Isn't the first WGN broadcast on Thursday?
Jesse Rogers (1:16 PM)
Just saw Len a few min ago. Ron Coomer is here. He and Pat will do Fri game.I'll tell Kasper you were concerned
mike, kimberly wi [via mobile]
Is going .500 this season unrealistic? What are chances Castro gets dealt at deadline?
Jesse Rogers (1:17 PM)
Not realistic in part, once again, because they will trade some major pieces inclduing Hammel, Schierholtz, Veras and maybe Samardzija. I doubt Castro is dealt at the deadline. If it ever happened that's an offseason deal. He's not some rental.
jojack (aurora, IL)
ESPN 1000 bidding on radio rights, to broadcast Cub Baseball Games? Would you join the Broadcasting Team?
Jesse Rogers (1:18 PM)
We are and I have no clue. I think I should do color.
Sass-man (St. Louis)
There have been quite a few expectations placed on the "Core4" and beyond. I fully understand that they are preparing physically, but how are the Cubs preparing them mentally for the type of scrutiny they will receive?
Jesse Rogers (1:19 PM)
They're talking to them that's for sure. A few weeks ago I likened it to Kane and Toews coming up together with the Hawks. I think there is safety in numbers. It helps there's 4 (and more) that can experience things together.
No one really ever discusses the upcoming relievers in the minors until they are about to burst onto the scene. Do the Cubs have anyone they are excited about and could potentially be a long term closer option coming up?
Jesse Rogers (1:20 PM)
Well Pedro Strop is already here and so is Vizcaino. You don't really groom closers in the minors. Many times pitchers just turn into them because they can't handle the rigors of starting or what not. That's why you don't hear it. In the minors, 9 times out of 10 your best pitchers are the starters.
T.J. Couch (Fayetteville, AR)
Any updates on Arrieta? Could be a big blow to the Cubs if he doesn't recover, I thought he had a really good chance of breaking out this year.
Jesse Rogers (1:22 PM)
Slow going but no setbacks. Throwing but not off a mound. Hard to know if its more serious or not. He may not know. So one step at a time. The red flag was when Renteria wasn't sure if he's be ready by April. He sounds more optimistic so I don't think anyone knows till he ramps it back up. Hopegully, only truly is stiffness and not serious. Check the blog for updates. Had one 2 days ago in there.
Where do you think the top prospects will start? Edwards, solar, Almora, Baez, Bryant, alcantara and johnson? Thanks
Jesse Rogers (1:24 PM)
Hate to do this to you but read my blog going back to convention week. I document all this but Bryant is AA, Baez AAA. Edwards AA..there's a few answers. Alcantara at AAA as well.
Andy (K-Ville, Iowa)
Jesse, if you were Mr. Ricketts right hand man would you try to convince him to get the Cubs out of Wrigley? Honestly nothing good has come from playing at Wrigley Field! Now they can't even update it!
Jesse Rogers (1:25 PM)
No, I would "give in" to the rooftop owners. Seriously. Giving in doesnt ruin their whole project, in fact, it gets it started. Move the Jumbotron or make it smaller or whatever. I think it's a small price to pay but maybe I'm being naive.
Blake (Chicago) [via mobile]
What has impressed you most about the cubs team thus far in the spring. Granted it's early, is there a story line we all should follow over the course of spring training?
Jesse Rogers (1:27 PM)
Probably the progress of Arodys Vizcaino and to a lesser extent Olt. Vizcaino is such a wild card prospect. Hasnt picthed in 2 years but now throwing great. Could be a find for the future. I say to a lesser extent re Olt because right now Bryant is the third baseman of the future but if Olt takes the job that could change things. Power is a premium these days in baseball. He had it in the minors so we'll see....
Ryan S (Elk Grove Village)
I don't know what it is but I have a good feeling about this team. They all seem extremely eager to prove everyone wrong. They are professional baseball players. Why do you feel the Cubs cannot compete in 2014?
Jesse Rogers (1:29 PM)
Ceiling on the talent level. Especially on offense. What kind of prodcution are they really going to get in the OF? Lake isn't a natrual, top prospect so even if he proves himself I still think he's going to have some ups and downs. CF and RF have limits, not to say they arent decent but a contender has all-stars out there.Bullpen is better than last year, not sure the starting staff can repeat their first half but maybe.Then they will flip the vets and it will slide backwards again. That's why.
Matt (North Center)
What's more likely for Vizcaino to start this year -- a reliever on the MLB club, or a starter in the minors?
Jesse Rogers (1:30 PM)
They've already said he's a reliever this year, wherever he is.
Ricky (Fort Wayne Indiana)
who do you think will be the best prospect out of Bryant, Baez, Soler, or Almora?
Jesse Rogers (1:30 PM)
I've been asked this before and the best way I like to answer is the most sure thing prospect of the group is Bryant.
John Hoskins (Accounting Class (Indy))
Are the young pitchers soaking up the knowledge from Fergie?
Jesse Rogers (1:31 PM)
Yeah, he offered his assistance to whoever needs it and I saw a few talking to him.
Chris (Arlington, VA)
Jesse, thanks for taking the questions. One of the few negatives to Welington Castillo's defense in 2013 was his pitch-framing ability. Any early word on how Bozello and the staff are working on improving that facet of his game?
Jesse Rogers (1:32 PM)
They are doing it every day. Borzello showing where to place his glove, etc. I know he wants him to catch the ball a little deeper instead of reaching out for it, etc. They are def working on it. Castillo is a great pupil. He's real close to being an all-star I think. Needs some more offense, of course and catching isn't the deepest position around the league.
Mark (Iowa City)
What would be a more entertaining game to watch this year.....a chicago cubs game or an Iowa Cubs game? Love those prospects
Jesse Rogers (1:33 PM)
Neither. Double-A..all the good pitchers who won A championship last year plus Bryant and Soler.
Henry A (Deland Fl)
Have you watched Mike Olt in batting practice yet? Says his vision is fine... But is he picking up the ball well in your opinion?
Jesse Rogers (1:34 PM)
Yes, but VERY hard to know for sure. I mean, he's not swinging and missing when the coaches pitch and when the Cubs pitchers throw the hitters have only just now started to make good contact. Games will tell us everything about Olt soon enough.
Justin Koehneke (Chicago)
Over/Under Anthony Rizzo 30 HR's ?
Jesse Rogers (1:35 PM)
I'll say under only because I think he might have a natural instinct to sacrifice some power to raise his average. Just a guess. Over 20 but under 30.
Dan (Lincoln Park) [via mobile]
Has Baez fielded any position other than shortstop in defensive drills so far?
Jesse Rogers (1:35 PM)
Not that I've seen but I could have missed it. I have seen at SS a bunch.I'll ask him today if he's in fact moved around. Probably has but they have things going on , on 4 fields at once.
If Schierholtz is to be flipped by the deadline, he must not regress to only 9 HR this season...He needs to have at least double digit HR. Do the Cubs honestly believe they can get some value for him from another team?
Jesse Rogers (1:36 PM)
Doesn't matter, he's a free agent at season's end. There is no reason to hold onto him unless no one calls so yeah he has to be decent in the first half.
Colin (at work)
If the Cubs trade Samardzija isn't it sort of a step backwards? He hasn't proven himself enough to earn the contract he wants, yet the Cubs sort of set the bar by signing Jackson to his deal. So if/when they trade him are they expecting to actually get major league ready prospects? If not then won't their rotation be even worse the second half of this season and next season, unless they go out and sign a legitimate FA starter? As a fan watching this rebuild, I don't expect them to instantly be competing, but I would like them to atleast improve each year.
Jesse Rogers (1:38 PM)
I agree it would be a step back. They need all the picthing they can get even if he's a No .3 or whatever. I would bite the bullett and sign him. You've heard me say it and write it. I think he's a better pitcher on a contending team. If so, then what he does or did -- as hard as it is to swalllow -- last year or this shouldn't matter too much. When the Cubs are good, you want Samardzija out there. I think.
Nate (A Cold Basement Office)
Its unrealistic (IMO) for all of the core 4 and AA to make it in the bigs, the odds against it no matter how good a prospect is. Will the FO make a trade or two in the next couple of years with these kind of assets?
Jesse Rogers (1:39 PM)
Yes, but too soon. They want to see who pans out and where the needs are.
Can you tell much difference between a Svuem camp and a Renteria camp so far?
Jesse Rogers (1:39 PM)
No. Renteria a little more vocal during drills.
Jeff ....south side [via mobile]
Are any teams in nl central due for a decline in the next couple years?
Jesse Rogers (1:40 PM)
I think the Reds could easily have that decline. Pirates might but they have a good system so they may have enough young talent to sustain. Def the Reds at some point will go backwards in my opinion.
Matt (North Center)
I know this is sort of an "offseason" question, but how the heck are the Cubs going to acquire much-needed top flight pitching? Do you see some of the stud prospects being traded? If so, when?
Jesse Rogers (1:42 PM)
It's a legit question. It's why they wnet after Tanaka. I don't have an answer and I'm sure they don't either. Yes, a trade could happen. They will definitely go after a FA pitcher. If not next winter then the winter after for sure. I think they spend after 2015 more than after 2014.
Is baez likely to play third or second when he eventually gets called up?
Jesse Rogers (1:43 PM)
You tell me which position is open at the big league level, that's where he'll play. Let's say Barney is having a good year, then he'll play 3rd. If he's at .208 Baez will go to 2nd.
Do you think Vizcaino will make opening day?
Jesse Rogers (1:43 PM)
That's a good one. Hmm. I'll say yes.
Travis (Cedar Rapids)
I was very impressed with Jake Arieta last year. In my opinion he lacked some control but other than that his stuff looked really good. What is his ceiling as a starter and where do you project him to be in the Cubs rotation?
Jesse Rogers (1:45 PM)
He's got to get mentally there. I agree his stuff is very good. The best on the team, possibly. High ceiling. He claims the pitching coach in Balt screwed him up so if he's right then I think he flourishes under Bosio. If that's an excuse, that's a diff story. They did fire Adair in Baltimore so maybe he's right
Justin Koehneke (Chicago)
Will the cubs be worse than last year?
Jesse Rogers (1:49 PM)
They could be, simply because they've moved the more talented veterans and as they break in young players you have to assume there will be some growing pains. Now, Baez might win rookie of the year in a half season if he comes up but you cant ASSUME that. Have to assume the opposite because that's more likely in the game of baseball. So without the more talented vets, young players going through growing pains and the flipping of vets, yes they could be worse. HOWEVER, the bullpen is def more talented and they will only flip Veras if they can so that alone might keep them above water.I do think there is a lot of irony here though. The worse they are -- once again -- they better they might be for the future. Get those growing pains out of the way plus another high draft pick. This cycle has to end soon though...and will I think.
What is Welington Castillo's ceiling offensively in a full season catching?
Jesse Rogers (1:50 PM)
My opinion, it's a 10-15 HR, a .270 avg with a decent on-base if he picks up where he left off from last year. RBI are a product of where he hits and his teammates ability to get on so won't predict that but I think you get the idea.
Grant W (Dayton, OH)
Hi Jesse, I have two questions for you. 1) Why is Jeff Samardzija being mentioned as "trade bait" at all? He's young and could dominate for at least a few years. I don't see why they aren't focused on locking him up long term. 2) why isn't Travis wood being mentioned as our #1 ace?? He was by far our best pitcher this year, and only had a few "bad" starts. He's a lefty, and I think he would be a great guy to lock up for a while. Why isn't he even being mentioned as an "ace"? Thanks
Jesse Rogers (1:52 PM)
He wants big money. Money most starters with a 4.34 ERA and still a couple years away from FA don't get. That's why it's not done. And you are right about Wood.He is the ace at this moment. Maybe that's why Renteria hasn't named an opening day starter yet. Between him and Samardzija
Jesse, have you talked to Olt much? I know swinging in a cage is different than game action but with the bright sunshine, how do you think Olt has fared seeing the ball?
Jesse Rogers (1:53 PM)
Tons of Olt questions. Yes, I've talked to him Please read my Cubs blog. Was a headline on Sunday, just two days ago. Says he's seeing it so well he doesn't mind being asked "How ya seeing the ball?" We'll see once games start. I'll give updates on him every few days so again, please read the blog. It's on this site!! lol
The Wrigley Field rooftops...I am of the opinion that they are as much a part to the unique appeal and history of Wrigley Field as the Ivy and the scoreboard and I for one would love to see them treated as an extension of the ballpark and get this whole ugly matter put behind us. No other field has them and I view them as a one of a kind upper deck. I'm no architect but is there a reason they can't be constructed to be built a bit higher to look over the new scoreboards they're afraid will block the view? What if the Ricketts included those bleachers in the Wrigley renovations? Maybe install a bunch of those telescopes you see at scenic outlooks and national landmarks?
Jesse Rogers (1:56 PM)
I like the fact you're at least thiking reasonably. I'm with you though I think we are in the minority. I don't remember Harry Caray bashing the rooftops, in fact it was the opposite. They have been part of the landscape for many years AND have a contract. Even if we split hairs on the wording the fact that the sides have a contract at all is an indication Wrigley people know they are part of the whole thing as well. Find a deal for god sakes. Or blames yourselves for putting them on TV all those years.
What differentiates the new crop of prospects from the Felix Pie's, Hee Sop Choi's, and Corey Patterson's who didn't really pan out? Can you tell a difference?
Jesse Rogers (1:58 PM)
I'll say this, having seen those other guys, these look like MUCH better pure athletes. Soler, Bryant, Lake are monsters. Almora is no small kid. That's just a non-scientific observation. As for baseball skill, etc. The Cubs farm wasn;t never ranked this high..but here is the point. maybe one of them will flame out like those names but they don't need all of them..need a few so 3 flameouts still doesn't wreck the plan. This is about numbers, the Cubs have them (not on the mound though)
Can you talk some about how Mueller and how he's approaching the hitters? Are him and Brum making suggestions at the cages?
Jesse Rogers (2:00 PM)
Yes, they are. Those 2 are so busy I haven't had a chance to talk with them plus I know they said they needed time with the hitters before they could really talk smartly about them. But, yeah they are right there helping out.
Have you had a chance to See Edwin Jackson throw? We need him to be the 200+ innings, 12-15 wins Jackson.
Jesse Rogers (2:01 PM)
A little . Hard to tell anything right now but W. Castillo went out of his way the other day praising him so maybe there's something extra there this time around.
Will there be anyway to follow the intra squad game tomorrow via the internet or radio?
Jesse Rogers (2:01 PM)
Other than my tweets, etc? Not that I know of. @espnchicubs.
Strop has a total of 4 career saves. Who else are the Cubs going to count on to close out games?
Jesse Rogers (2:02 PM)
They signed Jose Veras. Look him up. He's closed in the past
Matt (North Center)
Which scenario is correct -- Samardzija is overvaluing his worth and the Cubs are only willing to give market price for a #3 pitcher, or Samardzija wants to be paid market price but the Cubs only want to retain him at a below-value rate?
Jesse Rogers (2:03 PM)
I guess the first one. but it's not market price the Cubs are discussin because he's not on the open market. It's the price to keep him off of it. Anyway, it's the first one. I don't know if they up the ante if he has a good first half. We'll see.
Dane S (Gurnee)
Being realistic, the Cubs are probably still a few years away from contending for a World Series championship. When do you suspect the Cubs will at least become respectable (ex: .500) at the big league level?
Jesse Rogers (2:05 PM)
This is my opinion: all things being equal, they will go from a 90 loss team to a 90 win team in one season. Something like that. Since many of the young players are coming up within a year or two of each other, I think they will struggle as a team and then all of a sudden make a jump when it comes together and those guys get experience. I guess I'm saying they will bypass the whole .500 thing. Get ready for it...in 2017..maybe 2016. Tell your friends I said 2016. Make people feel better.
Jesse Rogers (2:07 PM)
That's it for today folks. Have to get out in the sun (though it was cloudy for the first time in 2 weeks today) and watch prac and do some interviews. Check out the blog later today for new stuff..check it out now for old stuff! I'll have a podcast with Samardzija up soon. Thanks for the questions. Talk to you next week after games start!!!