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37 players are on the MLB RESERVE LIST (three slots are open)

Last updated 11-17-2023
* bats or throws left
# bats both

Adbert Alzolay 
Michael Arias
Javier Assad
Ben Brown
Jose Cuas
Kyle Hendricks
Porter Hodge
* Bailey Horn
Caleb Kilian
Mark Leiter Jr
* Luke Little
Julian Merryweather
Daniel Palencia
Michael Rucker
* Drew Smyly
* Justin Steele
Jameson Taillon
Keegan Thompson
Hayden Wesneski 
* Jordan Wicks

Miguel Amaya
Yan Gomes

Nico Hoerner
Nick Madrigal
* Miles Mastrobuoni
* Matt Mervis
Christopher Morel
Dansby Swanson
Luis Vazquez
Patrick Wisdom

Kevin Alcantara
Alexander Canario
* Pete Crow-Armstrong
Brennen Davis
# Ian Happ
Seiya Suzuki
* Mike Tauchman


Minor League Rosters
Rule 5 Draft 
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We Could Use a Hero

On the day after Anthony Rizzo's first HR (and 2nd game winning hit) as well as the first day of the month that Ron Santo finally gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame...

John Grisham was at Wrigley Field earlier this season while on his book tour promoting his first baseball novel,  "Calico Joe". The famed author of Legal Thrillers like "The Firm" decided to take on America's favorite pastime. Born in Arkansas and educated in Mississippi, Grisham weaves a historical fiction in the tale of Joe Castle, the greatest rookie ballplayer ever. It's ultimate Cubbery rivaling the reality of the last 104 years including Brock for Broglio, Lee Smith's 8th inning pitch to Steve Garvey and Moises Alou's tirade against Steve Bartman.

The baseball season is 1973, a year the Cubs were not expected to compete for the pennant (so what else is new?). This team resembled the trailing embers of the infamous 1969 Cubs.

The actual Cub roster in 1973 included a pitching staff of veterans Fergie Jenkins and Milt Pappas, 2nd year starters Rick Reuschel and Burt Hooton,  and still younger pitchers Bill Bonham and Ray Burris. The infield seems familiar but aging: Jim Hickman, Joe Pepitone, Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger, Ron Santo and Randy Hundley. The outfield was solid with 35 year old Billy Williams plus Rick Monday and Jose Cardenal. Theo Epstein would have given his eye-tooth to have had a starting point this good. Just add one awesome rookie and presto! To make the baseball story seem more realistic, Grisham accessed his Arkansas/Mississippi roots via Don Kessinger as his main baseball consultant.

The story is told by Paul Tracey, the 11 year old son of 34 year old journeyman pitcher and known headhunter, Warren Tracey. Tracey is still hanging on in the back end of the Mets rotation with Seaver, Koosman and Matlack.

There are two timelines, 1973 and 2003.

Fortunately, Grisham doesn't beat us up with the Cubbery of the 2003 baseball season in his story, such as Alex S. Gonzalez in the 8th inning. Albeit, a missed opportunity to rub salt into that wound. Very kind of Mr. Grisham.

The 2003 season finds former Met pitcher, Warren Tracy completely disengaged from his 1973 family, distanced by four subsequent wives and newly diagnosed Pancreatic cancer at age 64. Tracey was a piece of work in 1973 as well, with all night drinking sessions, extramarital carousing and a marriage and family clearly on the rocks. As we are about to learn, the adult son, Paul Tracey had overcome most of the obstacles that his father in his playing days had  set before him. As an 11 year old, Paul was pitching with some success in little league and more importantly loved everything baseball. Paul Tracey made scrapbooks of his hero's and a new and fantastic hero was about to come on the scene.

1973 in fact and in fiction was a year that most of the teams in the NL East were hovering around .500 in early July.  Two injuries, including a back injury from Jim Hickman and a pulled hammy by the AAA Wichita first baseman, lead to a callup of AA Midland's hottest prospect, Joe Castle. At the time, Castle was hitting .395 with 20 HR, 50 RBI, 40 SB and only one fielding error at first base. Castle was from a small Arkansas town, Calico Rock and gets some pregame encouragement from outfielder Rick Monday (originally from nearby Batesville, AR) and of course the other Arkansas native (Forrest City, AR), SS Don Kessinger. Did I mention that I'm a sucker for historical fiction?

Then all the Cub fun begins.

July 12th, 1973 versus the Phillies. Calico Joe became the 11th major leaguer to hit a HR on the first pitch he saw. Calico Joe's 2nd at-bat in the 5th hits the LF foul pole and became only the 2nd player to hit HR's in his first two at-bats. Statistically correct, the other is Bob Nieman of the St. Louis Browns on 9-14-51 at Fenway.  Eleven year old Paul, listening on the radio from NY to the Phillies broadcast by Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner is struck by baseball lightening and his newest ballplayer-hero has arrived.

As a side note, yesterday, Padres rookie catcher Yas Grandal hits HR's in his first two mlb at bats, one from each side of the plate. So now there are really two players to achieve career starting back-to-back HR's.

In the 7th, Castle precedes Tuffy Rhodes 1994 opening day history with you know what and of course, no rookie has ever hit 3 HR's in their first three at-bats. Same game, top of the 9th, 2 outs and the score tied 6-6. Don Kessinger on third. You know what's coming. No you don't. Calico Joe lays down a perfect bunt (OMG, he's the ultimate team player).

"The crowd sat in stunned silence. Players from both teams looked on in disbelief. With a chance to hit four HR's in a game--a feat baseball had seen only nine times in a hundred years--the kid chose instead to lay down a perfect drag bunt to score the go-ahead run."

Cubs win 7-6. To quote the Budweiser commercial, "Here We Go."

Calico Joe starts his mlb career going 15 for 15 before he finally makes an out.  Additional magic includes a 19 game hitting streak to start his career,  first rookie to steal a base in 9 consecutive games plus 2nd and 3rd in seven consecutive games.

August 6th, Joe Castle makes the cover of Sports Illustrated, Calico Joe - The Phenom. We all know what ominous premonition that gives us.

Speaking of premonition (but not to ruin the story, so i'll be vague). August 11th, journeyman lefty for the Braves, Dutch Patton buzzes Joe's head. The Cubs dugout is going berserk. Castle digs in and as the lefty gets ready to release the next pitch:

"Joe dropped his bat and sprinted toward the mound...Patton managed to swing his glove at Joe, who ducked and shot a right cross into Patton's mouth. A left hook to the nose knocked him down and , like a jackhammer, Joe pummeled him with five more shots to the face, each one drawing blood."

Johnny Oates finally pulls Joe off the pitcher and the brawl lasts 10 minutes. Patton leaves on a stretcher and is out for a month. Calico Joe gets a 5 game suspension and the Cubs lose all five of those games.

Castle's first game back from his suspension is August 17th. I must admit I love his description of in-game action. Calico Joe's already had a single, double and triple. Naturally, the Cubs needed a HR to win the game vs the Dodgers. Castle comes up with Ron Santo on 2nd:

"...he poked a blooper down the right field line, and as it rolled slowly to the wall, the race was on. Ron Santo scored easily from second with the tying run, and when Joe sprinted to third, he ignored the coach's signal to stop. He never slowed down. The shortstop took the relay, looked at third, where Joe would have had an easy triple, then hesitated at the sight of him streaking home. The throw was perfect, and the catcher, Joe Ferguson, snatched it and blocked the plate. Fergusion was six feet two, 200 pounds. Joe was six feet two, 185 pounds. In a split-second decision, neither chose to yield an inch. Joe lowered his head, left his feet, and crashed into Fergusion. The collision was thuderous and spun both players in violent circles in the dirt. Jose would've been out by three feet, but the ball was loose and rolling in the grass." (an inside the park-HR and an in-sequence hitting-for-the-cycle, to win the game)

The woven timeline is the key to the story Gresham is telling and I'm not going to ruin it for you other than to say something ugly looms ahead. I just wanted to highlight some of the baseball sequences. Needless to say, it's the fiction that mirrors ultimate Cubbery, not the fact. Or did I get that backwards?


[ ]

In reply to by Old and Blue

plus he spent most of his early in-NC rehab days cheating on his rehab while telling the world he's not...but that's not uncommon in early "rehab." he's got a hell of a wife...she's a lot stronger than sheet rock and car parts, anyway.

Trib article on the day Grisham was at Wrigley Field in April.…
"This summer I'll go to a Washington Nationals game or two. The stadium's not far from me. I'll probably watch the Rangers play. Nolan and Ruth Ryan are friends. I'll probably make it to Fenway. I'll get out to 10 games this summer hopefully. I'll go to St. Louis at least once. Growing up in the South, it was all Cardinals. My father, my grandfather, Cardinals fans. I didn't growing up hating the Cubs like most Cardinals fans. I had a baseball card of every major leaguer as a kid. I was a serious collector. I had Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Don Kessinger, who is a buddy of mine. I had their cards when I was 10. That's why I set the book here."

Nick Cafardo's latest Sunday Baseball Notes...…
Apropos of nothing 1. Former Red Sox farmhand Anthony Rizzo had 163 RBIs in 163 games between Tucson in 2011 and Iowa this season. He is now the Cubs’ regular first baseman.
Updates on nine 2. Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, Astros — Yankees GM Brian Cashman would love to find starters to replace CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte from within, but if that’s not possible, he’ll look outside. One National League GM said that while Rodriguez would be a good fit for the Yankees, he doesn’t believe he is their cup of tea. They would likely gravitate more toward Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, and even Zack Greinke. The Yankees have the young chips to satisfy any team.

miles and muskat tweeting that Cub 2nd rounder rhp Duane Underwood is throwing in Wrigley bullpen this am. implies his contract is signed. He's posing for pics with his family. Lineup vs Wandy: Johnson, Castro, Rizzo, Baker, Soto, Mather, Barney, Valbuena, TWood

In the process of building a team that is capable of making history for its suckiness, I believe they have done a good job on a nucleus. I've posted my middle line ups in other threads so you know who they are (I'm referring, of course, to the 2 or 3 people who pay attention to my posts) Rizzo seems to me almost Pujols-like. He doesn't have the same command of the strike zone or eye, as he showed the other day when he flailed on that one at bat after his HR. On outside curveballs, buddy, welcome to the show. But he is built like a truck, fields very well, etc. We have a non TheoCorp entity in Castro. We have Garza, whose fielding antics are silly and is still a good pitcher, and young. He won't be traded unless it's an amazing deal. We even have Demptster the comdiian (what has he ever said that if funny, btw?) who could get traded and simply return to the Cubbies. We have, yes, Darwin Barney, and I know my comment will l ignite Theriot type arguments, but is a player I really like a lot. We may not have LaHair, who I sort of took on as a personal karma project. He isn't a very good fielder and he is getting overmatched, as I see it. But gawld darn I still root for him. So, this is no longer a team I hate watching. And, maybe Swaimy isn't so bad. the coaching looks good, too, when I watch. I can finally watch this team again. Oh, and Sori is the most underrated player in the league. Discuss. There is no sarcasm color for my last comment so don't get too harsh. Unless you expect harshness back. Remember, I'm clever.

[ ]

In reply to by Old and Blue

I root for LaHair as trade bait/injury replacement type in hopes we get a LHRP in return. Also, I hope we keep Campana for a couple of years as a ninth inning threat since we are mostly playing small ball. And, in general, the minor league system is really looking better, what with AZP's recommendations, the Dominican Academy and Cubans defecting. (Imagine that, they are still defecting...)

Bloopers down the line don't roll to the wall & become inside-the-parkers...

t.wood hitting 93+mph again...2nd game in a row (may be longer, not tracking closely). what's got into him? ...or the stadium gun...

tony larussa vs the CIN reds snub of b.phillips + j.cueto = excellent. also, cueto's got some great theories... “I see that I have great numbers,” he said. “I thought the way I pitched this year, I’d have a chance to go to the All-Star Game. I don’t know what happened. I don’t if know the manager of All-Star Game is pissed at me because I went out with one of his girlfriends.” lulz…

4-1 with Rizzo, 25-48 without. Clearly, the Cubs would be 62-17 if Rizzo had started the year with the club.

jay bruce just made the most "wtf error" in the bottom of the 9th for the CIN loss...plenty of time to catch a popup for the 3rd out (tie game, 2 on)...totally misjudged...didn't even klank the ruled a double, but very much one of the worst "errors" bruce has made in a game.

I don't know how I missed this, but Rob's comment on the opening of a previous thread was spectacular:
Game 74 Thread - Wells vs. Gee Tue, 06/26/2012 - 4:11pm — Rob G. It was nice of the Cubs to start Wells to temper any real expectations we may have had for tonight's game.

Why does Rizzo catch throws so close to his body instead of stretching out a bit? I was at the game, and noticed this early in the game. The infield hit in the 8th should have been a routine out, but Rizzo waited for the ball to get to him before catching it -- looked like the ump was trying to teach Rizzo a lesson on how to play first base by making an emphatic "safe" call. If Rizzo had stretched even a little bit, it would have been a clear out. Great day for the new "Woody" - the kid swings a mean bat. Interesting Moneyball approach today -- no bunts in traditional bunting situations.

Recent comments

  • crunch (view)

    morel played somewhere besides 3rd and SS...he got 8 innings in CF, 2 putouts and an assist.

  • crunch (view)

    ryan flaherty new cubs bench coach.

  • crunch (view)

    bellinger wins comeback player of the year.  the AL winner was liam hendricks and his 5ip before he got tommy john...setting himself up for a 2025 shot at the award.

  • Bill (view)

    I hope that Perlaza goes on to have a successful career.  On most Cubs teams prior to the current administration, he would have been one of their more highly ranked prospects.  As far as the others are concerned, one or more may well go on to be much better than expected, but unfortunately there is no way to tell which one at the present time.  You can't keep everyone.

  • crunch (view)

    s.gray signs with the cards...3/75m

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    Another one of the nine Cubs post-2023 Rule 9 minor league 6YFA has signed, as RHP Carlos Guzman (acquired from the Tigers for Zack McKinstry at the end of Spring Training) signed a 2024 minor league contract with the Mets. 


    So RHRP Yovanny Cruz (SD), C-INF P. J. Higgins (CIN), and now Carlos Guzman (NYM) have already signed 2024 minor league contracts with new MLB organizations, and OF Yonathan Perlaza is headed for Korea (Hanhwa Eagles).

  • crunch (view)

    ...and back to 3rd for another game.  at this point i'm gonna hang back and when/if he actually plays 1st then i'll find it notable.  i am glad he's playing a good amount of 3rd, though...give the club one more good look at him there.  shrug

  • crunch (view)

    morel played SS last night (no errors)...hit a homer and a double.  he's got 2 of both in 19PA.

  • crunch (view)

    e.escobar was throwing 95-97mph on his fastball in 2023.

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    One more thing about Edwin Escobar. Even though he had accrued less than one year of MLB Service Time prior to signing with Nippon Ham in 2017 (he ended up eventually with Yokohama), he will have Article XIX-A rights by virtue of the seven seasons he spent in Japan. So he will be essentially locked on the 40-man roster (or at least he can't be outrighted without his consent), and he will be a FA whenever his contract expires.