With the Cubs Convention, the last major baseball event before spring training, out of the way, there really isn’t much for us to do but prep our fantasy rosters and debate whether or not arbitration contracts are slightly too high. Fortunately, spring training will be here soon.
Speaking of the Cubs Convention, there are a few interesting items pertaining to the minors. Once again, Carrie Muskat has done a fine job compiling about everything you need to know. There are few things she brought up I’d like to highlight, however.
Matt Szczur: According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs expect to hear within the next month or so whether or not their fifth round pick Matt Szczur will play baseball for a living, or risk his chances in the NFL draft. This is fantastic news for the Cubs. That timetable should increase the likelihood of Szczur opting for baseball. The NFL is heading into a labor disaster of a size and scope that is all but unprecedented for that league. Right now, whether or not there will be a 2011 season is an open question. I think (commenters, let me know if I’m wrong) that the 2011 NFL Draft takes place under the current labor agreement, meaning it will go ahead regardless of how bad the negotiations are going. In other words, it is entirely possible (even likely) that a player drafted in 2011 may not set foot on a professional football field until sometime in 2012.
In the case of Matt Szczur, that means he can try football now and risk sitting for a year doing nothing, or he can go play baseball. I’ve seen his NFL Draft stock as anywhere from the third to the fifth round. That’s not bad, but consider that if the NFL does lose a season, he’ll have to fight for a job against the 2012 draft choices as well as his own draft class. Meanwhile,in baseball land, by the summer of 2012 he could well be booking a plane ticket to Iowa.
Hayden Simpson: First the good news – he’s recovered from mono. Now the bad news – he lost thirty pounds. But for more good news – he is planning to attend Camp Colvin.
This could set Simpson back. I had hoped to see Simpson start the season in Peoria or Daytona this spring, but if he has lost a bunch of weight and hasn’t put it all back on yet he may be kept in extended spring training for awhile. However, the fact that he is planning on heading to Camp Colvin is a very good sign. It does not look like Simpson will be one of the first round picks who expects a job to be handed to him on a silver platter… not surprising in his case. When darn near every Cub fan and baseball analyst was proclaiming him a bust before he ever threw a professional pitch, he really didn’t have the chance to get overconfident. Even a set back like mono won’t slow him down for long if he really dose have four pitches that grade plus or higher that he can throw for strikes. I remain extremely high on this guy… admittedly, before he has ever thrown a professional pitch.
Camp Colvin: Speaking of Camp Colvin… 40 players attended! The only name mentioned was D.J. LeMahieu (other than Colvin and Simpson), but Brett Jackson has been linked with the training sessions in the past. LeMahieu has gained 20 pounds in the workouts, presumably most of that is muscle. Since the biggest knock on LeMahieu’s game is that his college power hasn’t translated into the minor leagues (they said the same thing about Colvin for a time), this is very good news. I haven’t found a list yet of who else is in Mesa, but if one comes available we’ll have it here.