BEYOND HERE THERE BE NONSENSE.
Do the Cubs think Ian Stewart will be ready to start playing when Spring Training starts?
— Barry S., Chicago
Was he ready to play when LAST Spring Training started? Was he REALLY???
CARRIE: They don’t have a definitive answer yet. Stewart, who had surgery on his left wrist in June, was examined in Chicago at the end of the regular season, and is scheduled to begin baseball activities soon.
Some might say people have been waiting for Stewart’s entire career for him to start participating in some baseball activities.
CARRIE: The Cubs will have to rely on medical reports to determine whether he’ll be ready. Stewart is arbitration eligible, which also complicates the decision.
Another complication is that Luis Valbuena is the only other “option” at third base.
CARRIE: “We’ll take a long look at his health situation before we make that decision, and look at the market as well to see what our alternatives are,” said Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. “We’re not going to rush into that decision and we need more information.”
“For example. Is there ANYONE else on this planet who can play third base?”
CARRIE: The Cubs do have infield talent in the organization in Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva and Jeimer Candelario, but they are expected to open 2013 in the Minor Leagues.
Also, to possibly close there.
CARRIE: “I really like the future at third for the Cubs, but we didn’t do a very good job of getting good production out of that position this year, to be honest, and it will be a challenge to do so next year,” Epstein said.
“Would you believe Joe Mather started 10% of our games this year at third base? LOL!”
With Starlin Castro finally showing major improvements to his defense at shortstop…
FINALLY! Dude’s like TWENTY-TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS OLD!
…is moving Javier Baez, who has eight errors in 13 games in the Arizona Fall League, really a viable option there?
— Kevin A., LaCrosse, Wis.
PROTIP: If you use a parenthetical interruptor, you will make it into the Muskbox.
CARRIE: Yes. Baez is a very good shortstop, and some of the scouts I talked to think he’s better than Castro. Baez is playing third for the first time in the AFL. Not to make excuses, but the infields aren’t the best. For the record, Baez has nine errors in 11 games through Wednesday (four at third base, five at shortstop). Let’s see how this plays out.
It’s currently slightly less PLAYED OUT than the Muskbox, but we’ll see.
In hindsight, it looks like drafting Lendy Castillo in the Rule 5 Draft was a mistake. Do you see the Cubs doing something like that again this year?
— Jim M., Lena, Miss.
“The Cubs? Make a Rule 5 mistake? NOT BLOODY LIKELY.”
CARRIE: I’d have to disagree that taking Castillo was a mistake. This was only his third year as a pitcher; he was converted from shortstop after the 2009 season. Castillo, 22, simply needs more time to develop.
We don’t have time for development! THIS IS THE YEAR!
CARRIE: This offseason, he’s pitching in the Dominican Republic — he gave up one hit and struck out two over 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday in his first game with Leones de Escogido.
“Lions of the Chosen” is a pretty badass team name. I will heretofore refer to the Cubs as “Cubs of the Fallen.”
CARRIE: The Cubs may take part again in the Rule 5 Draft as they try to stock up on pitchers.
Lendy Castillos don’t grow on trees, you know.
Michael Bowden was outstanding during part of August and all of September. If I’m not mistaken, he did not give up an earned run in his last 10 or 11 appearances. Why is there so little said of his stellar performance and his future on the Cubs roster?
— Bob B., Littleton, Colo.
Because no one outside of this weird, Muskbox world is still talking about the 2012 Cubs.
CARRIE: Bowden has stayed under the radar mainly because middle relievers usually don’t make the headlines. He did not give up a run in his last 11 games, and the main reason was that he was getting regular work. Bowden is definitely in the mix for the Cubs’ bullpen next year.
SOMEONE has to keep all these five-run deficits in check!
Is there any place on Cubs.com where the box scores are listed for the Arizona Fall League?
— Mike T., Saipan
You know, there ARE other websites than Cubs.com. Some of them even have naked ladies on them!
CARRIE: Go to the Arizona Fall League site for AFL statistics and updates.
That one does not have naked ladies on it. I checked.
What happened to a pitcher the Cubs drafted named Dillon Maples?
— Barry G., Springfield, Ill.
AND WHY HAS HE NOT YET RELEASED HIS OWN SYRUP LINE?
CARRIE: Maples, selected in the 14th round in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, had an elbow injury that sidelined him most of the season. He pitched in six games for the Cubs’ Rookie League team, and also pitched in Instructional League. I talked to him earlier this month, and will have a story soon on Cubs.com.
He writes for Cubs.com now? Oh, she means CARRIE will have a story on Cubs.com.
Have the Cubs settled with the Padres on compensation for general manager Jed Hoyer?
— Terry L., Sun City Center, Fla.
Yes, they gave the Padres Theo Epstein. FULL CIRCLE.
CARRIE: The Padres dropped their compensation claim for Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the senior vice president for scouting and player development. The Padres were expected to receive player compensation for the two after they left San Diego to take similar positions in the Cubs’ front office.
Trading players for front office members is stupid. Have I mentioned that before?
Do the Cubs have any plans to retire Kerry Wood’s No. 34?
— Matt T., Daegu, South Korea
I love Kerry Wood as much as the next guy, but even Sammy Sosa deserves to have his number retired more than Kerry Wood. That said, please don’t let Michael Bowden wear #34.
CARRIE: Not that I’m aware of. Considering how popular Wood was, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be issued No. 34 any time soon.
Good. I just bought an autographed copy of “Cubs by the Numbers” and I don’t want to have to buy the 2013 update.
Are the Cubs committed to keeping Tony Campana? I believe his talents are invaluable to the team. He can be their not-so-secret weapon at times. It’s like having Devin Hester on your team.
— Kelly W., Naperville, Ill.
Kelly, I will find you, and I will breed your line right out of Naperville.
CARRIE: Campana can only utilize his Hester-like speed if he gets on base, and he will be playing in Venezuela this winter to work on that.
The Cubs did not seem enthralled in Steve Clevenger as a backup catcher to Welington Castillo. Do they have another backup catcher to complement Castillo?
— John S., Mason City, Iowa
There’s only ONE October…for starting to worry about the Cubs’ 2013 backup catcher.
CARRIE: As of now, Clevenger is No. 2, although the Cubs will look at adding someone with more experience to be a backup.
Make sure you pay your phone bill, Paul Bako. Just sayin’.
CARRIE: Clevenger’s second half numbers weren’t good — .121 in 91 games after the All-Star break — and he really struggled on the road compared to Wrigley Field (.297 home, .120 away).
To be fair to Clevenger, his first half numbers weren’t good, either.
Has Hayden Simpson been removed from the Cubs’ radar? It seems like he has struggled mightily throughout his young career.
— Mitchell J., Byron, Ill.
You might say they’re now “hatin’ on” Hayden.
CARRIE: Simpson, 23, who was the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2010, has been slow to build up strength following a bout with mononucleosis.
Sounds like somebody should spend more time IN the bleachers and less time UNDER the bleachers.
CARRIE: He began this season at Class A Daytona as a starter, but was switched to the bullpen after four games and made 10 relief appearances (6.23 ERA) before he was then dropped to Class A Boise. In 15 games there in relief, he gave up 39 runs on 51 hits and 22 walks over 43 2/3 innings for a 6.18 ERA. He’ll likely take part in the Cubs’ November workouts in Mesa, Ariz.
And if he doesn’t work out there, the Cubs can always convert him to backup catcher. They’ve done it the other way enough times.