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"When Albert Almora was made the sixth pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, it was significant, because the high school outfielder would always have the additional tag of being Theo Epstein's first selection since taking over as the Cubs' president of baseball operations," Carrie Muskat writes at Cubs.com.
"The emphasis since Epstein arrived in October 2011 was to build a foundation for sustained success. The focus, he said, would be on developing homegrown talent and to find impact players through the Draft and international signings.
"On Thursday, the stakes are even higher for Epstein and the Cubs, who have the second pick overall in the Draft."
While most of the draft focus is on pitchers Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, and third basemen Kris Bryant and Colin Moran, we here at The Cub Factor have our own ideas about who the Cubs should draft. On our board:
* Orbit. He's ready.
* One of those kids from Kansas State. Toolsy, solid on fundamentals, real game-changers.
* The Kool-Aid Man. Good glove.
* This guy.
* Emily Mohler. They're gonna need her for years to come.
Week in Review: The Cubs swept the White Sox amidst stringing together five consecutive victories for the first time in two years - a pathetically Cubbie-like superlative - before giving up 20 runs combined in two losses to the Diamondbacks. In other words, situation normal.
Week in Preview: The Cubs have off-days Monday and Thursday, with a two-game set against the Angels in Anaheim in between. Then it's home for three against the Pirates, who start the week in second place with a 35-22 record.
The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney went 5-for-19, which means he's 7 for his last 41. He left four on base this week. He got all six starts.
The Not-So-Hot Corner Valbuena and Ransom each got three starts at third last week. God, this team is boring.
Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is hitting .270 at Iowa with a .343 OBP. Trade him now at his peak value!
Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro lost another 14 points on his batting average this week and 11 points on his OBP, which puts his slash line at .258/.294/.356.
"Alarm bells are going off, and nobody seems to notice or care," the Score's Dan Bernstein writes.
Yes and no. Alarm bells are going off and everybody is noticing.
Castro got a good workout on Sports Talk Live this week and Toni Ginetti writes for the Sun-Times that "Cubs' Slumping Starlin Lacking Discipline."
Castro also just played in his 500th major league game and has "589 hits, seventh-most among players during their first 500 games with the Cubs," ESPN Chicago reports.
Here's the deal: Castro is an immensely talented athlete who will likely get his 200 hits more seasons than not. But he lacks baseball instincts, both at the plate and in the field. And you can't teach instincts. He's the perfect example of a player with "tools" who is less than the sum of his parts.
The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Thus validating this line of coverage.
Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up another point to .272 and his OBP up another 10 points to .327 OBP at Reno. He's heating up, people! Unfortunately, he's been caught stealing - twice - for the first time all season (16-for-18).
Meanwhile . . .
"Bob Brenly sounded happy Friday about being 'home' and working Arizona Diamondbacks games on TV," Bruce Miles writes for the Daily Herald.
"And he says not once has he had to yell, 'Run it out!' during a telecast.
"'No, not once,' he said with a laugh at Wrigley Field, where the Diamondbacks opened a weekend series against the Cubs. 'In some respects, it's just a reflection of the manager, Kirk Gibson. He played the game that way, and he demands that his players play the game that way. They understand when they come in here that there are certain expectations and anything less than that won't be tolerated.'"
What does that say about Dale Sveum?
Also, Edwin Jackson, everybody!
And yet, not a candidate for the bullpen.
Finally, Kevin Gregg finally gave up an earned run. Highest value, Theo!
Shark Tank: Eleven strikeouts through six innings sounds great, but it took 115 pitches to do it and came with four walks. True a 2.96 ERA is close to sterling, but once he leaves his starts the beleaguered bullpen is left with an awful lot of work to do - and plenty of room to fuck up. Also, he's really becoming a loudmouth.
Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of Edwin Jackson for three more years.
Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til
next year 2016.
Over/Under: Starts until Matt Garza is hurt again: 3.
Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Brett Jackson is hitting .228 in Iowa, which just goes to show you.
The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!
The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.
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