Results tagged ‘ Josh Vitters ’
For the second time in two weeks, the Cubs made a base-running gaffe that was unexplainable. They stranded runners at third in the second, third and fifth innings against the Rockies on Wednesday, and had runners at second and third in the seventh with one out when Dave Sappelt hit a fly ball to left. Joe Mather, who was at second, tried to advance as Josh Vitters headed home but Mather was easily thrown out to end the inning. Luis Valbuena did the same thing in Houston earlier this month.
“I went 30 years without seeing it, and unfortunately, I’ve seen it twice in the last two weeks and in pretty relevant situations, which is the odd thing about it,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I might have come across it when maybe my team was up two or three and it was a irrelevant play.”
Mather’s decision to go left Sveum scratching his head.
“It’s bone-head plays,” Sveum said. “[The players] know they are. It’s just not thinking ahead, and Joe has good instincts. … For whatever reason, they forget what the score is and the situation. They can’t slow the game down to go over all the scenarios before the next play happens.”
“I thought I could make it,” he said. “I shouldn’t have gone. it was bad baserunning. We’re down 6-0, I took an RBI away from [Sappelt]. It was just bad baseball.”
– Carrie Muskat
At this point in the season, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer would prefer to be sweating over last-minute postseason travel plans than scheduling meetings to evaluate the roster and coaching staff.
“When you’re not in the playoffs — you hate when you’re not — but when you’re not in the playoffs it’s a really good planning time,” Hoyer said.
For example, Josh Vitters started at third Wednesday. He’s one of the many prospects being looked at for next season. The results so far have been mixed.
“Some have shown a lot and some have done enough to not earn a position with the team but strong consideration for the winter,” Hoyer said. “Some have indicated they need more seasoning and starting next year [at Triple-A Iowa] would be the best. It is a mixed bag. Every guy who’s come up hasn’t shown we need to reserve a spot for him next season but that’s to be expected. We need to get better next year and having depth at Triple-A is important. A lot of those guys may feel they’re ready but if they start the year at Iowa, that’s probably a positive for our roster.”
Hoyer knows first-hand that some players take a little longer. He promoted Anthony Rizzo to the big leagues last season with the Padres, and watched the first baseman struggle to hit .141.
“That first time in the big leagues, I think it’s really difficult to evaluate,” Hoyer said. “I’ve had a number of players tell me the butterflies don’t go away that first time up, they’re nervous all the time, they have a hard time calming themselves down. Maybe the second time, the third time they come up, it’s like, ‘OK, I belong here.’ It’s hard to evaluate a guy when he’s nervous. It’s hard to blame them sometimes. This is their dream, they’re up for the first time, the game is faster. Sometimes those things can snowball. It did with Rizzo last year.”
The Cubs do have a significant amount of money coming off the books and it could be a busy offseason.
“We will have financial flexibility,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been diligent to make sure we do have flexibility and we’re efficient going forward. We’ll obviously be active in the free agent market. That’s a big part of our research and work now is evaluating free agents. We have some money to spend and we’ll focus on it heavily.”
Hoyer isn’t looking at the Cubs record this year.
“People in every walk of life focus on round numbers,” Hoyer said. “One hundred losses is a round number. I’m not going to feel any better about a 96-loss season or a 98-loss season or a 100-loss season. In any way, shape or form, we have to get better. I don’t want to lose 100 games either. That’s something people talk about and it’s a round number we clearly want to avoid. If we avoid it, it doesn’t mean I’ll feel better about our season. We have to get better. That’s the focus.”
– Carrie Muskat
Ian Stewart, who underwent surgery on his left wrist in June, was examined on Tuesday, and whether the Cubs re-sign the third baseman for 2013 will likely be determined by doctors’ reports.
“Obviously, we’ll spend a lot of time getting to the bottom of how it looks going forward before making a decision on his future with us,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. “It is a year that’s hard to evaluate given the wrist. It’s challenging. … He’s got a lot of ability, the same ability that we saw when we traded for him. He’s got big power, he’s left-handed, he’s a really good defensive third baseman. There are a lot of pluses there. we need to figure out what part was the wrist and what part wasn’t.”
Stewart, acquired from the Rockies in a deal for Tyler Colvin, batted .201 in 55 games with the Cubs before he had to be shutdown because of the wrist. He is arbitration eligible. If not Stewart, then who would be the Cubs’ Opening Day third baseman? Luis Valbuena has impressed the Cubs with his defense. Josh Vitters is likely headed to Venezuela this winter to play and challenge for a spot next year, too.
“[Valbuena] is a guy, you look up and see .215, and you think it should be at least .260-ish or something,” Dale Sveum said. “It doesn’t seem like his average should be that bad. He’s given us so many quality at-bats late in games and walks. He’s done a really good job — a great job — except for that one glaring number, .215, for a batting average.”
But is Valbuena good enough to be a regular at third?
“I see him on the team,” Sveum said. “He’s definitely a quality guy, a left-handed quality utility player who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, give you quality at-bats all the time, catch the ball where he’s at. If we don’t sign somebody, you could definitely see him [at third on Opening Day]. He’s done a heck of a job.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Dave Sappelt could be the next Reed Johnson on the Cubs. Sappelt, who batted leadoff on Tuesday for the first time this season, is trying to impress the Cubs that he could handle the role that Johnson filled, which was providing a right-handed bat off the bench plus someone who could sub in the outfield. He made a good impression Tuesday, hitting his first Major League home run in the first.
“Since he’s been here, he’s shown us some realy good at-bats and shown the ability to hit a fastball and get his walks as well,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday. “I thought I’d stick him in that leadoff spot and see what happens.”
A right-handed batter, Sappelt was hitting .333 against left-handed pitchers in 18 at-bats since he was called up from Triple-A Iowa Sept. 1. At Iowa, Sappelt batted .331 against left-handers and .236 against right-handed pitching. Johnson opened the year with the Cubs but was dealt at the Trade Deadline to the Braves.
* Sveum has recommended to third baseman Josh Vitters and outfielder Tony Campana that they consider playing winter ball.
“The more you play, the better you’re going to be,” Sveum said Tuesday. “I think some people nowadays use the winters too much sometimes to work out and rest when you can go play instructional league or [Arizona Fall League] or winter leagues. There’s no substitute for playing.”
Sveum said he and the front office have talked about having Brett Jackson spend the winter working on some of the adjustments they want him to make rather than play.
* Arodys Vizcaino, whom the Cubs acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, was at Coors Field Tuesday to workout. Vizcaino is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and will be ready to pitch in Spring Training but Sveum said the right-hander is a starter candidate for 2014.
“He’s going to come into Spring Training ready to pitch but we’ll baby him through everything,” Sveum said. “We’ll baby that situation as much as you can and have him ready for the next season.”
– Carrie Muskat
Rookie Josh Vitters has been starting at third base against left-handed pitchers but Cubs manager Dale Sveum instead inserted Luis Valbuena in the lineup Sunday against the Pirates’ Jeff Locke.
Vitters still has work to do on his defense, and Sveum wanted a good glove behind starter Chris Volstad.
“It’s the routine plays that seem to be giving [Vitters] him the most problem,” Sveum said. “The spontaneous plays, he’s made all those and in great fashion. He’s gotten up and made good throws on the dives and body control plays. He’s gotten a lot better since the first day I saw him.”
One bad habit Vitters has developed is watching the baserunner when he fields a ground ball, which Sveum said will get a fielder “out of whack right away.”
“On routine plays, he wants to look at the runner and pick up the first baseman and it kind of throws the rhythm off,” Sveum said.
Are the problems mental or mechanical for the young third baseman?
“You never really know,” Sveum said.
– Carrie Muskat
Got a question for the Cubs Inbox? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown.
Q: The 2012 season isn’t over with but I’d like to think next year will be better. My question is what do you think the 2013 Opening Day lineup will look like? — Ty S., West Des Moines, IA
A: Here’s an early guess:
RF David DeJesus
2B Darwin Barney
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Starlin Castro
After that, I don’t know. These final weeks are huge for players like Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Luis Valbuena.
Q: It’s time to start purchasing jerseys for the future. Before I buy a Josh Vitters or Brett Jackson uniform, what are the chances they change their numbers? — Clay B., Paris, IL
A: Clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann asks the young players each spring what number they’d like if they make it to the big leagues, and since Vitters and Jackson were given single digits, not No. 88 or No. 75, I’d guess they’ll stick with Nos. 5 and 7, respectively. That said, you never know what will happen if the Cubs sign a veteran, and he has always worn No. 5.
Q: Against the Reds on Aug. 9, Steve Clevenger was ejected during an at-bat and replaced with Welington Castillo. Castillo struck out, which was charged to Clevenger. To whom would a walk, hit, put out or other play be charged? — Marvin W., Bellingham, WA
A: If Castillo had walked or gotten a hit or grounded out, he would’ve been credited. According to Rule 10.17 (b): When the batter leaves the game with two strikes against him, and the substitute batter completes a strikeout, charge the strikeout and the time at-bat to the first batter. If the substitute batter completes the turn at-bat in any other manner, including a base on balls, score the action as having been that of the substitute batter.
Q: Would you know the dates for next year’s Cubs Convention? — Ben
A: Jan. 18-20, 2013.
Q: What is the all-time (not single-season) record of error-less games played by an infielder? — Ethan J., Chicago
A: According to the Elias Sports Bureau:
1B: Casey Kotchman, 274 games, 2008-2010
2B: Placido Polanco, 186 games, 2006-08
3B: Jeff Cirillo, 99 games, 2001-02, and John Wehner, 99 games, 1992-2000
SS: Mike Bordick, 110 games, 2002
Q: How do you feel about Adam Greenberg trying to make a comeback? Is there any chance now that the Cubs are out of the playoffs they will give Adam a chance? — Yoel G., Hollywood, FL
A: For Greenberg to play for a Major League team, it would mean someone would have to be taken off the 40-man roster. I was there when Greenberg was hit, and certainly hoped he would have another at-bat. Right now, it feels like a publicity stunt.
Q: I know the new management wants to build the club from within and help improve the club by improving the Minor League system but do you think they could at least bring in a couple free agent pitchers to help some of the young guys develop? I don’t know how beneficial it is for players like Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin to be lit up by Major League lineups when they are clearly not ready. — Joe S., Lansing, MI
A: I wish pitchers like Rusin and Raley and Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood had someone like Ryan Dempster or Paul Maholm around to help them deal with the ups and downs in the big leagues. The front office will likely look at adding more experience for the rotation next season, either through free agency or a trade. What you hope is that Raley and Rusin learn from this experience, learn what they need to do, and become better for it.
– Carrie Muskat
Here’s Monday’s lineup vs. the Astros:
Luis Valbuena started at third base for the Cubs on Thursday, and may be getting more playing time in the final month than Josh Vitters, which is a switch from Dale Sveum’s plan a short time ago. Vitters was batting .093 (5-for-54) with 19 strikeouts and hitless in his last four games.
“I’ll still mix and match,” Sveum said. “You might see Valbuena in there a little bit more. We’re just giving Vitters some time to kick back here now and see what happens. You’re trying to evaluate but you’re trying to win ballgames at the same time. We’re having trouble scoring runs, period, so the at-bats — Valbuena is getting on base, he’s swinging the bat well, playing good defense.”
Sveum admitted it’s a change from earlier.
“I have shifted gears a little that way because we’re not getting anything out of that position,” Sveum said. “A guy who hasn’t struck out much is striking out quite a bit and not making contact. We’re just going to evaluate and keep plugging along to determine what do we have and moving forward and evaluating these guys in situations that hopefully they’re going to succeed.”
Vitters is working hard, getting extra time in the cage with hitting coach James Rowson.
“I can hit at the Major League level now,” Vitters said. “There’s always adjustments that need to be made. I’m working on making strides to be where I need to be next year.”
Part of that is developing a game plan every at-bat and sticking to it, plus trusting himself. He was batting .304 at Triple-A when called up on Aug. 5 but said he wasn’t consistent.
“It’s the same story now,” he said. “I’m hoping the hot part comes or I can find a way to be more even through the whole season.”
His splits at Iowa: .261 in April, .284 in May, .324 in June, .301 in July. His strikeout numbers did increase — he went from 10 in 20 games in April to 29 in 27 games in July.
– Carrie Muskat
Josh Vitters is back in the Cubs lineup, playing third, as they open a four-game series against the Brewers. Milwaukee has had the edge this season, posting a 10-3 record so far. This week is their last meeting of the year. Justin Germano takes the mound. He lost to the Brewers last Monday at Miller Park, giving up seven runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. Here’s the lineup:
– Carrie Muskat
Chris Rusin makes his Major League debut Tuesday night for the Cubs against the Brewers. The lefty will be the 16th rookie to play for the Cubs this year, and 10th player to make his ML debut this season on the team. Of the 16 rookies, he is the ninth rookie pitcher. The Cubs last had more than 10 players make their ML debut in the same season in 2010 when 11 did so, including 10 prior to Sept. 1. The nine rookie pitchers is the most in the NL and tied for fourth most in the Majors with the White Sox, trailing the Athletics (11), Tigers (10) and Blue Jays (10). Here’s the lineup:
– Carrie Muskat