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Friday, July 04, 2014

A’s acquire Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel from Cubs for Addison Russell

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says the deal is done and that the A’s will get both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, giving up top shortstop prospect Addison Russell in return. He adds that other players and teams may be involved.

Repoz Posted: July 04, 2014 at 10:56 PM | 186 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, oakland

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   101. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4744371)
The Cubs could do a ton of stuff over the next two years and still not have their payroll get even close to absurd. If they sit out this FA we might as well become White Sox or Brewers fans.
   102. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 05, 2014 at 06:51 PM (#4744384)
FWIW, Hoyer did say they will be active in the FA market.
   103. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4744390)
Well, it better be for more than the Valbuenas, Feldmans, and Schierholtzs of the baseball world.
   104. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 05, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4744398)
They were on pace for 10.

But my point is who are the MLB players who are going to be average or better regulars on the mythical 90-win 2016 Cubs?

You've got Rizzo and Castro. Maybe Travis Wood is an averagish SP.

Who else? Jackson is looking toasty. None of the RPs have any track record. Maybe Arrieta, but 65 great IP doesn't outweigh 400 terrible one; he's still an enigma.

Even if Arrieta is decent, you need to find 6 regulars, 4 SPs, and likely a whole bull-pen and bench in 1.5 years. That's hard to do. Especially when your owners show no inclination to spend money.


You make good points, especially about the staff.

But Rizzo & Castro are 24 years old, Castro has been one pace for his 3rd 3 WAR season in 4 years and Rizzo is averaging over 3 WAR per 160 games as a Cub. It seems pretty reasonable to get 6 WAR a year out of them, if not more if they improve in their prime, and with four average position players and two 1 war types to have an average starting lineup. They have some high ceiling position player talent on the farm that should come up the next 1-3 years, if one turns into a 4-5 WAR position player the Cubs will be able to field a good starting lineup with retreads and platooning.

Pitching will likely require some clever trades/signings before it's good again.
   105. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4744402)
The Cubs are currently around 1.5 to 2 games ahead of the worst record in the majors. I think with losing your 2 best starters and in all probability Valbuena the Cubs have a pretty good chance at the worst record in the majors. I think at the very least they land a top 5 draft pick and probably a top 3 pick for next year.
   106. KyleJRM Posted: July 05, 2014 at 07:23 PM (#4744418)
Kris Bryant and Arismendy Alcantara could lose 300 points of OPS each in the flight from Des Moines to O'Hare and still be immediate upgrades for 2015.

I think if you sit down and do WAR projections for the 2015 Cubs and assume that they won't just leave the starting rotation empty, most would be surprised how not bad they project to be.
   107. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 07:33 PM (#4744421)
Chicago is at -1.4 below average right now and just lost their two best starting pitchers with no real clear cut answers to replace them. I don't think you can automatically pencil in a good pen so regressing them a bit, along with doing that for Arrieta, and finding two more starters leaves the Cubs having to replace a lot of wins just to get back to below average. Factor in that next year they have to cobble together an OF and will likely be trying out prospects and the win total doesn't look good for next year.

Obviously there is a lot that can be done between now and then so take the guess with a grain of salt but as of right now I expect the Cubs to lose somewhere between 65 and 72 games next year.
   108. KyleJRM Posted: July 05, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4744426)
Well, yeah, if the bullpen gets worse just because, and they do nothing to add more starting pitching, and we just assume prospects will be bad, then yeah, they'll be pretty bad.

But I'd say projecting the pen to stay the same is conservative, let alone get worse. They've got an excellent crop of relief prospects killing it in the upper minors on top of a young, strong bullpen this year.

Of course they are going to find two pitchers. Will they be as good as Samardzija and Hammel? Maybe, maybe not, but it won't be two replacement-level black holes heading into 2015. They've got the resources available and have repeatedly shown in recent years that they have a skill at finding undervalued, useful starting pitching.

They've also gotten -2 WAR from their two outfield platoons and -1 WAR from their "Whichever Position Valbuena Isn't Playing" Olt/Barney combo.

Again, if you just fall back on lazy truisms like "prospects could be anything!" or "the bullpen will probably regress because bullpen" and assume they add nothing, then they probably do look bad. But if you actually break down the players being fielded for the 2015 Cubs and what they could be reasonably expected to do, and don't assume that they'll run a $50m payroll, then they don't look bad at all.
   109. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 07:50 PM (#4744428)
I think before we get into a debate about you better tell me how many wins you think they'll win next year.
   110. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: July 05, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4744438)
I think before we get into a debate about you better tell me how many wins you think they'll win next year.
Didn't you just spend the first page of the thread debating snapper without actually specifying what chances you give the Cubs of winning 90 in 2016, save that it's "not guaranteed?" And no, challenging him to throw down $80 doesn't count, tho it is a nice rhetorical trick.
   111. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 08:39 PM (#4744442)
What does that have to do with the question I posed? If he thinks they are going to win 73 games next year then there is no point in debating between the two of us. If he thinks they'll win 50 or 80 there is differnence enough for discussion.
   112. Walt Davis Posted: July 05, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4744464)
I expect the Cubs to lose somewhere between 65 and 72 games next year.

woo-hoo!! Playoffs here we come!

As to 2015 ... it's very unlikely they'll be any good at all. The things that need to happen for them to be good in 2015 are they same things that need to happen for them to be good in 2016 except the prospects will have 1 year less development/ML time and Theo needs to fill 4 positions, bench and a couple of good starters in one offseason rather than two.

The Cubs won't project well for next year. There's nobody on the Cubs who is under-performing substantially and their current over-performance has mostly been traded away. The Cubs bullpen consists of about 200 IP from guys who've never been any good before.

And don't worry, Cub pythag and 2nd/3rd order win %ages will come back into line as the season goes on. The removal of Samardzija and Hammel is enough to bring this season's pitching performance down to league-average, add that they will be replaced by below-average maybe even replacement-level pitchers, add in regression from the pen and maybe some improvement from Wood and Jackson ... probably something like a 90 ERA+ the rest of the way. Add that to our 85 OPS+ and you have a team that looks worse the rest of the way than the 2013 Cubs (88 OPS+, 99 ERA+). In fact that seems right about where our overall 2014 numbers will probably end up although, fair enough, they had 71 pythag wins last year.

The 2014 Cubs disconnect has mainly been due to their terrible 13-21 record in starts by Samarzija and Hammel (most Samardzija of course). They will now likely go 13-21 if not worse in the starts by their replacements.
   113. KyleJRM Posted: July 05, 2014 at 09:52 PM (#4744468)
"I think before we get into a debate about you better tell me how many wins you think they'll win next year."

Back of the napkin roster-wide WAR projection including moderate free agent investment: 84
   114. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 10:09 PM (#4744473)
Back of the napkin roster-wide WAR projection including moderate free agent investment: 84

So let us see:

C: Castillo Combo 1.5 WAR
1B: Rizzo 4.5 WAR
2B:
SS: Castro 4 WAR
3B:
LF:
CF:
RF:
SP: 9.5 WAR
RP: 4 WAR
Bench: 2 WAR

The 9.5 WAR is roughly what the starters did in 2013 and the 4 WAR is an increase from last year but a decrease from what they are on pace to do this year. Gave the bench a 2 WAR just for the heck of it. Probably should be somewhere between -1 to 1 WAR but I'll be generous though I doubt they'd be that good. So that is 25.5 WAR which gets the Cubs to 73 wins. So to get to 84 wins you basically need the 5 other starters to be an average player (2.2 WAR) to hit that mark. That is a tall order.
   115. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 05, 2014 at 10:17 PM (#4744477)
The effort of handicapping the win total for the 2015 Cubs strikes me as only slightly more worthwhile than trying to predict the next Powerball numbers.
   116. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 05, 2014 at 10:19 PM (#4744479)
The effort of handicapping the win total for the 2015 Cubs strikes me as only slightly more worthwhile than trying to predict the next Powerball numbers.


Right. before today's 13-0 loss, the Cubs had scored more runs than they had allowed and were 8 games under .500. How does that factor into projections?
   117. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4744481)
The effort of handicapping the win total for the 2015 Cubs strikes me as only slightly more worthwhile than trying to predict the next Powerball numbers.

I don't know, arguing over a company one has no control over nor a voice that can be heard by it doesn't seem to be all that worthwhile either and yet we do it.
   118. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 05, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4744493)
I don't know, arguing over a company one has no control over nor a voice that can be heard by it doesn't seem to be all that worthwhile either and yet we do it.

Well, I myself try to limit that. I might not always be happy about it, but I have learned to keep my expectations consistent with the actual constraints that the organization imposes. Those constraints don't seem to exclude the Epstein regime's bottom-up model of development. This model has been slow to unfold and hasn't yet yielded any success, but they have indeed made a lot of changes in the right direction. I was willing to take a "wait and see" approach for decades when the organization clearly had no ####### idea what it was doing, so I'm willing to cut them a little slack when they're trying to do what I've been asking for, even if they are being cheap about the current on-field product.

So to me, worrying about 2015 is not a very good expense of emotional energy. Epstein says he hopes this is the last year the Cubs are sellers mid-season, and yeah, I hope so too. Sorry, but arguing about the number of wins for the 2015 team, when its roster will probably look very different from the current one, strikes me as downright comical.
   119. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 06, 2014 at 02:25 AM (#4744559)
And for those who are interested bryant is eating up aaa pitching just like he did at aa. I cant wait to see him at wrigley.
   120. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 03:12 AM (#4744566)
Ok. I just looked up Kris Bryant. Holy ####! I don't follow prospects from around MLB - only really Angels kids - but damn if he doesn't look unbelievable. His K-rate is pretty high, but he'll figure that out, I think.

My question is this: what justification do the Cubs have for not promoting him right now? He's clearly ready. Ok - maybe another 15 games in AAA could be clarifying. But aside from money - what keeps the Cubs from bringing him up and finding a place to play him?
   121. bfan Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:02 AM (#4744583)
2015 be hanged; who cares whether you are 72-90 or 78-84? They are looking at being a great team, starting in 2016, and that is exciting, especially since it will be hitting driven. I loved the old 12-8 games at Wrigley when the wind is blowing out, and they can certainly counter the 1-0 and 2-1 games floating out of Petco, every day.
   122. KyleJRM Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:51 AM (#4744590)
" So to get to 84 wins you basically need the 5 other starters to be an average player (2.2 WAR) to hit that mark. That is a tall order."

That's more or less reasonable. You can always quibble a win or so either way with any given player (I was actually a bit lower on Castro, but I think they can do a bit better in the rotation), but I don't have a problem with the template you posted.

Now consider the case of Kris Bryant. He's currently 1.200 in AAA after doing more less the same in AA. I don't think a 3-win projection from him is at all unreasonable for a late April call-up. It syncs pretty well with what Anthony Rizzo did putting up 1.7 fWAR in 87 games at roughly the same age in 2012 after putting up slightly lower numbers in AAA at 1b rather than 3b or RF. It's a full win lower than his Oliver projection.

Luis Valbuena gets one of the infield jobs. He was worth 1.4 wins in 90 games in 2012, 2.0 in 108 games in 2013, and so far 1.5 in 76 games so far. I don't think a 1.5 win projection is out of line for him.

So now you're at 78 wins with 3 positions left to fill. One of those is almost certainly Alcantara, the others are either going to be offseason acquisitions or cobbled together from guys they have now. Whether you think they get 3 wins from these positions or 6, I think we've come to the agreement that the 2015 Cubs shouldn't be a "lol, they're going to lose 95 games again" type of discussion.

   123. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 06, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4744612)
The A's sent down Tommy Millone to make room for Shark. Brad Mills moves to the pen. There's gotta be another piece to this as Millone has been very good and Hammel still needs to be added to the roster. Jim Johnson has to be the odd man out. HAS TO BE!
   124. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4744618)
The A's sent down Tommy Millone to make room for Shark. Brad Mills moves to the pen. There's gotta be another piece to this as Millone has been very good and Hammel still needs to be added to the roster. Jim Johnson has to be the odd man out. HAS TO BE!

Wouldn't you move Chavez to the pen, and slot Hammel in the rotation? Chavez has been nothing special since his awesome April (ERA of 4.02 in May, June, July).

You could ditch Mills or Johnson.
   125. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4744619)
And are the Cubs working with a 24 man roster right now? Is Straily on the roster? On the Cubs website they only have 24 men listed.
   126. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: July 06, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4744629)
TB went from 66 wins to 97 wins. Detroit went from 71 wins to 95 wins. Baltimore went from 69 wins to 93 wins. Cleveland from 68 wins to 90 wins. Arizona went from 65 to 94 wins. The Cubs themselves went from 67 wins to 88 wins. The Padres went from 4 wins to 87 wins.


Ah yes, the year Kevin towers accidentally rented Air Bud instead of Moneyball. Tommy Lasorda was a surprisingly good manager for them, though.
   127. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 06, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4744630)
Wouldn't you move Chavez to the pen, and slot Hammel in the rotation?

Millone had an option and he's not scheduled to pitch for a few days. His demotion looks to be temporary as Beane sorts out the next move.
   128. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4744632)
It is good to know someone actually reads my posts.
   129. greenback calls it soccer Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4744640)
Brandon McCarthy was just traded to the Yankees.
   130. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:22 AM (#4744648)
For Nuno
   131. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4744649)
Man, ESPN et al have to be pissed as all hell right now. World Cup going on, 4th of July weekend, and the whole trade deadline frenzy was supposed to be weeks away.
   132. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4744652)
The Cubs have the pieces to go after Price but a) are they willing to pay him and b) he kind of looks like Matt Garza all over again.
   133. Ziggy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4744653)
I realize that being a Cubs fan isn't the sort of thing that engenders optimism, but I really don't get what's bothering McCoy here. Trading mediocre pitchers, without much team control left, for blue chip prospects is exactly what bad teams should do. And Semrdk&dj; and Hammels really are mediocre pitchers, even if they're having good years. (Lets remember who we're talking about here. These guys have career ERA+s of 101 and 96, respectively. That's servicable, but not good.) It's no fun losing, and trading these guys is admitting that you're going to lose this year. But realistically, we all knew that the Cubs were going to lose this year anyway, and this trade (together with an awesome farm system and a low payroll) puts them in a good position to be competitive soon. We've been talking about 2016, and that sounds about right. Bryant on his own is going to make a difference, that guy's slash line this year is 357/453/717. He's striking out in 26% of his PA, which is a lot, but not prohibitively high for a slugger. Let him work on that in AAA in the second half, and then win a ROY in 2015. It'll be a long July-September on the north side, but the future is really bright.
   134. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4744657)
You don't know what's bothering me because I'm not bothered by the trade.
   135. Squash Posted: July 06, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4744668)
(Lets remember who we're talking about here. These guys have career ERA+s of 101 and 96, respectively. That's servicable, but not good.)

This is exactly what concerns me about this as an A's fan. Most likely Hammels is going to fall back to earth and Samardzija isn't actually a star. I wouldn't be surprised if Hammels is actually a net negative for the rest of the year as the Cubs have likely already drunk the cream of his season. Maybe Russell really is never going to be healthy, but if you're trading a blue-chip SS prospect for a rental and an almost-rental, it seems like you should get more.
   136. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 06, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4744671)
Jeff Samardzija is not a mediocre pitcher.
   137. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4744674)
You don't know what's bothering me because I'm not bothered by the trade.


For a guy who's not bothered, you sure seem like you're complaining a lot.

Not a criticism, just an observation.
   138. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4744675)
Man, ESPN et al have to be pissed as all hell right now. World Cup going on, 4th of July weekend, and the whole trade deadline frenzy was supposed to be weeks away.


Doesn't seem like it should be that hard to cut into the World Cup coverage in favor of a sport that people actually care about.
   139. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4744682)
For Nuno

Great trade! Who'd we get?
   140. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4744689)
Jeff Samardzija is not a mediocre pitcher.


He might be. He has a career 103 ERA+ as a starter. His career high ERA+ as a SP in a full season was his 107 two years ago.

Maybe he's a guy that fades down the stretch. Last season, he had a 3.34 ERA (3.74 RA/9) through 17 starts with 5 unearned runs allowed in 113 IP. He finished with ERAs over 5.00 every month beginning July. This year he has a 2.83 ERA (3.67 RA/9) through 17 starts with 10 unearned runs allowed in 108 innings. And maybe Samardzija won't even wait until July this season as he had a 5.45 ERA in June.

I'm not saying that he's gonna be bad down the stretch, just that it wouldn't surprise me if he were. It also wouldn't surprise me if he pitched well the rest of the way. Right now, despite the quality of his stuff, it's not a slam dunk that over the course of a full season Samardzija is all that much better than mediocre. We'll see this year. I hope he's great, since he's pretty fun to watch pitch.
   141. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4744697)
For a guy who's not bothered, you sure seem like you're complaining a lot.

I haven't complained once about the trade from the Cubs perspective nor have I really complained about the trade from the A's perspective other than to say they had bigger problems to solve than starting pitching. Hell, I don't even think I've complained once in this thread to tell you the truth.
   142. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4744698)
I think I've already said in this thread that I think both Hammels and Samardzija are going to come back down to Earth in the second half. I think both will have less than a 110 ERA+ in the second half with a good chance that one of them will have a below 100 ERA+.
   143. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: July 06, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4744701)
[61]
The A's have no 5th starter right now. Samardzija is going to take 100 IP that wouldn't have been thrown by $1 Brad Mills, or some other assortment of AAA talent. That's a big upgrade. Next year Samardzija will likely take 200 IP that would have gone to their 6th-8th SP, another big upgrade.
Does their competition? Does their competition even have a 3rd or 4th starter anywhere close to the A's 3rd or 4th starters? The A's have one of the best if not the best starting rotation in the league. And as you already mentioned the A's have a good track record of finding talent. Jeff wouldn't be replacing replacement level talent.

He is literally replacing replacement level talent. As mentioned in the post quoted. Brad Mills is starting every 5th day and Brad Mills is the real-world representation of the Platonic ideal of replacement level talent.

Looks like the rotation as of now is Kazmir-Shark-Chavez-Gray-Hammel in some order anyway.
   144. Ziggy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4744728)
For all the moaning about prospects being over-valued, their value sure seems to have dropped. It was only a few years ago that a Russell-style prospect bought C.C. Sabathia. (Although that trade is also a lesson about how top prospects don't always pan out.)

Hey, they didn't even need to be top prospects. Not that long ago Carlos Carrasco bought you a reigning Cy Young award winner. (Or maybe the Indians just don't like guys who win Cy Young awards.)
   145. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 06, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4744738)
It's not Kerry Woods and it's not Jason Hammels.
   146. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 06, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4744739)
Samardzija was much better in the 2nd half of 2012 than he was in the 1st half. This is the first of his 3 starter seasons where he hasn't drastically underperformed his peripherals
   147. SteveM. Posted: July 06, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4744745)
For the record, I was the one ######## about the trade. It's not the prospects that they irritated me, but the continued cheapness of the Ricketts. You would get cranky too if you had to watch a Cubs outfield of Lake, Sweeney, Coughlin, Rugganio and Schierholtz.
   148. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4744749)
Complaints about the Ricketts', er, thriftiness are legitimate, but unless there's something significant the A's know about the prospects they shipped out that we don't know, it looks to me like the Cubs got a pretty good deal regardless.

Put another way, were I a Cubs fan I'd be happier with this trade than I would have been with extensions for Samardzija and/or Hammel.
   149. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: July 06, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4744829)
It's also pretty friggin' obvious at this point that Lester is going to the Cubs this offseason.
   150. KyleJRM Posted: July 06, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4744841)
I'm perfectly comfortable with all of the following being true:

1) Ricketts has botched his handling of the franchise's finances
2) Three years of tanking sucks
3) Trading Samardzija was the right baseball move for where they were on July 4, 2014
4) They are going to be pretty good pretty quickly thanks to those three years of tanking.
   151. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:07 PM (#4744846)
Well, it will probably be 4 years of tanking by the time the Cubs have a legit chance of being good. If everything goes as close as possible to the plan the Cubs might actually achieve success at the end of a 5 year plan. Though I think 2017 is a more likely year where we can expect them to win 90+ games. Which don't you know leaves them 1 year away from when they can get out from under their crazy partnership they had to join in order to buy the team.

Now then I do think it was possible for the Cubs to be good without tanking and there really is no guarantee that tanking for 4 or 5 years is going to set the Cubs up for success for a very long time. All Theo might have done is trade being good now for a short period of time for being good later for a short period of time.

Beane has proven that he can build a farm system and have a bunch of talent that can play at the major league level without continually draft in the top 5. Theo has yet to prove that. So as much as he might be finding the right talent now it is unlikely he'll find much talent once the Cubs are drafting 20th or 25th year after year.
   152. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4744847)
It's also pretty friggin' obvious at this point that Lester is going to the Cubs this offseason.

What indication do we have that the Ricketts are wiling to outbid all the other teams that will be in on Lester?
   153. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:13 PM (#4744850)
They'll have a payroll of about 35 million dollars next year.
   154. zonk Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:40 PM (#4744856)
While I don't expect stardom from either of them, I am at least mildly interested to get more looks at Dallas Beeler and I kinda like Jokisch a bit, too. There's also Kyle Hendricks, who might have an outside shot at stardom or at least front half of the rotationdom.
   155. Squash Posted: July 06, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4744858)
Complaints about the Ricketts', er, thriftiness are legitimate, but unless there's something significant the A's know about the prospects they shipped out that we don't know, it looks to me like the Cubs got a pretty good deal regardless.

I would say definitely, regardless of what this does for the A's. You're not going to get much better than a top 5 position-player prospect for any rental-ish kind of package, and it's not like they shipped out two irreplaceable studs. Cubs fans should be jumping up and down over this.
   156. SteveM. Posted: July 06, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4744868)
I would say definitely, regardless of what this does for the A's. You're not going to get much better than a top 5 position-player prospect for any rental-ish kind of package, and it's not like they shipped out two irreplaceable studs. Cubs fans should be jumping up and down over this


After three years of tanking, its kind of hard to be excited about yet more prospects several years away. The Ricketts unwillingness to pay for MLB caliber players gives me little hope they will go after Lester or any other free agent. No doubt the extra $5 million save from this trade will go to pay off the debt, not back into the ballclub or organization. The Cubs play in the 3rd largest market in America. Start acting like it.
   157. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: July 06, 2014 at 11:15 PM (#4744910)
Addison Russell doesn't appear to be several years away. If he keeps hitting the way he's hit in AA, an August or September call up would probably be warranted. Given his current development it would take an injury or poor performance for his timetable be beyond the 2015 super-2 cutoff.

For now I'm happy. But I wouldn't be surprised if I'm annoyed in August or September when Arismendy, Bryant and Russell are still in the minors when they should be getting major league PAs. It'd be hard not to distrust management's motivation for keeping those guys down. Just because the Cubs brass can make plausible arguments about Alcantara's walks (though last year was the outlier there, this year is in line with his minor league career), Bryant's Ks and Russell's injury, doesn't mean that those guys wouldn't be the best options for 2b, 3b, and LF later this season.

Really, Arismendy should be up now. He's 24th in the PCL in OPS, behind mostly AAA filler and only a handful of real prospects, most of whom play in supercharged ballparks. Iowa is one of the tougher places to hit in the PCL (88 PF for runs), so his MLEs should be pretty solid. Most importantly, he can't be any worse than Darwin Barney.
   158. Willie Mayspedester Posted: July 07, 2014 at 01:16 AM (#4744935)
Even if the Cubs don't win 90+ games they will be fun to watch when some of these top prospects come up. The A's came out of nowhere 2 years ago so there's always hope.
   159. Scott Lange Posted: July 07, 2014 at 06:56 AM (#4744972)
But I wouldn't be surprised if I'm annoyed in August or September when Arismendy, Bryant and Russell are still in the minors when they should be getting major league PAs. It'd be hard not to distrust management's motivation for keeping those guys down.


There's a difference between keeping guys down to delay arbitration and free agency in a season where you have no shot at the playoffs and one in which you do. Keeping those guys down this August has zero impact on the Cubs' chances to make the playoffs this year. Its not a Pittsburgh/Polanco situation.

As for the idea that they "should be getting major league PAs," do we know that that is true? Has anyone ever done a study that shows that facing major league pitching for six months is better for development than murdering AA pitching for those same six months?
   160. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 07, 2014 at 07:42 AM (#4744977)
So far so good for Samardzija. And an all star selection to boot!
   161. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 08:33 AM (#4744994)
with the Cubs payroll they shouldn't have to worry about the arbitration clock for anybody.
   162. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4745017)
with the Cubs payroll they shouldn't have to worry about the arbitration clock for anybody.

Ha, ha. That's funny.

Rich people like money; that's how they got that way.
   163. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4745026)
So then the cubs are going to have a 35 million dollar budget forever? The point of playing with the clock is so you can have a workable budget that maximizes your wins within that budget. The cubs payroll is so low and will be so low for so long that they don't have to sacrifice wins now for dollars tomorrow.
   164. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:48 AM (#4745030)
The Cubs play in the 3rd largest market in America. Start acting like it.


You think they aren't sending in their massive Revenue Stealing checks every year?
   165. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4745034)
So then the cubs are going to have a 35 million dollar budget forever? The point of playing with the clock is so you can have a workable budget that maximizes your wins within that budget. The cubs payroll is so low and will be so low for so long that they don't have to sacrifice wins now for dollars tomorrow.

No, they'll probably raise it to $90-100M eventually. But, the slower the increase, the more $$ the Ricketts pocket, or use to pay off debt in the interim.

We've seen competitive teams in an actual pennant race play service time games. No reason at all non-competitive Cubs teams won't do that in 2014, 2015, and maybe even 2016.
   166. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4745035)
Who knows whether they'd develop better at AAA or at the big league level? But if the three prospects I named were to get the call this year, we'd have better information about how they'd perform at the big league level than if they were to stay in the upper minors.

But it's about putting their best team on the field. Alcantara's downside has to be Barney with slightly less glove. I'd guess his 50th percentile projection is a 100 OPS+ or so with above average defense. I'd imagine Olt or Lake is Bryant's downside with a 50th percentile projection of a 110 OPS+ or so. If the Cubs decide not put their best team on the field this year for financial concerns, I think annoyance is appropriate.

Maybe if they were the Pirates or the A's I'd care about the Cubs' bottom line in 2017-18. It should be pretty good even if they open up the wallet to sign a top tier free agent or two. And the race to the bottom stuff doesn't sway me. I'd rather the Cubs get the #12 pick in the 2015 draft and put an entertaining team on the field this year than earn the #3 pick with an OF of Lake - Sweeney - Schierholz.
   167. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4745041)
They can't payoff the debt until 2018. The increase will be slow regardless of when they start the clock. We're talking big dollar amounts 5 to 6 years from now not tomorrow or next season.

We've seen pennant race teams do it and they are stupid for doing it. That they do it isn't evidence that they should do it.
   168. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4745042)
I don't see a real pressing need to bring up the uber prospects this year. I think Hendricks should be up and that is about it. Possibly bring some up in September but if they continue to do well this year they should start the season in the majors next year.
   169. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4745054)
We've seen pennant race teams do it and they are stupid for doing it. That they do it isn't evidence that they should do it.

Right, but if they do it, that shows you the general mindset of owners/management. No reason to think the Cubs are different.
   170. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4745071)
how many large revenue teams with the payroll this slow have done it? Generally it has been teams with an already high payroll or low revenue teams.
   171. Ziggy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4745098)
A reason for fans (as opposed to management, the reason for them is obvious) to want the prospects to chill in AAA for a while is that it means that you'll have them on the team in 2021 instead of losing them in 2020. And by then they'll be in the prime of their careers. An entertaining team in 2021 is worth having. Of course you might put a discount on future entertainment, but being entertained in the future sounds pretty good to me.
   172. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4745114)
This is the cubs we're talking about. They can keep their players if they want to.
   173. zonk Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4745116)
I don't see a real pressing need to bring up the uber prospects this year. I think Hendricks should be up and that is about it. Possibly bring some up in September but if they continue to do well this year they should start the season in the majors next year.


I agree with this --

I think the big problem with the bats is where to play them. Bryant hasn't played anywhere but 3B (plus a few DH starts), so if his longterm spot is LF, he needs to get some time there. Hard to tell much from his minor league fielding numbers - they're not great, but not Ryan Braun-esque either. Given he's still playing 3B, it would seem that the Cubs plan to keep him there for now. That leaves Alcantara at 2B - for the short-term, I would guess until a decision is made about which of Castro/Russell/Baez gets moved to SS... or 3B, with Bryant learning LF. Alcantara probably makes most the sense as a utility guy - he can play SS, has been playing some CF at Des Moines, has good speed, and I suppose in a nod over Lake - he's a switch hitter, too. That's still one guy too many, though.

Ordinarily, I guess you'd say that this is a good problem to have -- and you'd also toss in a heaping dose of not counting chickens before they hatch -- but they're all pretty much knocking at the door (maybe Russell a year behind). Alcantara is hitting 310/352/541 (with 24 2Bs, 11 3Bs, and 10 HRs -- plus 21 steals against just 3 caught). Bryant is mashing and after a slow start, Baez has started to hit, too. This is all happening at Iowa, not Peoria, so I do think it's fair to say the time has come to start thinking about long-term lineup alignments.

The 'good' news, such as it is, is that I think both Olt and Lake are stretched as starters - Olt probably needs to go down to Iowa and get some time at 1B and maybe in the OF corners to potentially become a poor man's Russ Branyan, and Lake probably ought to get some time back in the IF to see if he can become at a least a passable utility guy. I think there's room for both on a future bench, even for a good team.

If the Cubs continue to be sold on Bryant at 3B, it seems near certain that someone has to be trade bait... If the Rays are going to be sellers, then I really do think that I'd be interested to find out what the price for Price is. Obviously, any deal would need to be contingent on working out an extension - and I suppose there are actual contenders who'd be in on that, too -- but it sure seems to me like the Cubs could probably out-prospect anyone else in a deal, and still not thin the future lineup too much.
   174. Ziggy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4745137)
I like the "don't count your chickens" bit. These are great prospects, but one of them isn't going to work out or will get injured or whatever. If they all end up hitting at the ML level, then you worry about positional logjams.

As for trading for Price: I don't see it. The kind of contract extension he'd sign would be at almost market value, and those kinds of contracts carry very little surplus value. Some, of course, and a bit more for the Cubs since they would plan on a playoff push during his tenure, but not much. If they trade for him, they're really trading for the value that he could provide this year and next. But, first, he's already expensive next year, and, second, the wins he could give them in 2014 and 2015 aren't worth as much as the ones they'd be paying full-price for in 2016. If they're going to pay for a good pitcher they might as well keep the prospects and buy Lester or Shields.
   175. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 07, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4745160)
Hendricks will start Thursday. The only other prospect of importance who has a chance of playing before late April '15 is Alcantara and Hoyers comments today make it seem like a 50/50 proposition. Alcantara has been playing quite a bit of CF lately FYI
   176. zonk Posted: July 07, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4745169)
The remainder of the Soriano money comes off the books this year and eating the rest of Jackson's contract becomes more palatable with each season - I'm not going all in on Price or anything, I'm just saying that the Cubs are looking at a schema where they've clearly got an extra IF, maybe two extra IFs.

Ordinarily, I think I tend to fall on the more cautious side of spending the Ricketts money (or spending their line of credit, such as the case may be) -- but I would think the Cubs could afford both. I guess they could have afforded to keep Samardzija, too -- but the numbers I was hearing seemed to be a bit steep for a guy that was really more of a nominal or ace-by-default than a true ace like a David Price. Granted, I imagine the price for Price is probably somewhere in the 20-25 mil per range.

I suppose they could also just hang onto everyone, sign a Lester/Shields, and see what unfolds after 2016 -- maybe Price ends up on the FA market, too.... Who knows, the Cubs find themselves in 2015 with a logjam of IFs and perhaps something else makes itself available.

It's a good thing that Castro and Rizzo have recovered -- those are both really nifty contracts for 3 WAR players... not so much for 1 WAR players. At the moment, the Cubs are only committed to about 27 million for 2015 and 2016 -- and 11 of that is Jackson. They've got a fair number of arb eligibles this offseason - but they're virtually all relievers and bit players. Only Travis Wood and if he keeps it up, maybe Arrieta, look like they're going to cost much.

I wish jackson wasn't the Sanchez sweepstakes consolation prize - 11 mil was probably a fair pricetag at the time, but Thed really should have known better than to give the guy 4 years... There's a reason he's been so nomadic - his stuff only looks tantalizing from afar. When you get to watch him pitch once or twice a week consistently, the shine wears off pretty quickly.
   177. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4745173)
Yeah, if the Cubs are gonna pay retail for a pitcher, they should just sign a free agent.

I want Alcantara and Bryant to be on the 2015 Cubs' Opening Day roster. I think they can and will buy another year of service time if they waited until May, but like I said earlier, I don't care about the Cubs' finances in 2020.
   178. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4745175)
Granted, I imagine the price for Price is probably somewhere in the 20-25 mil per range.

Given that Scherzer reportedly turned down a 7/144 extension, I'm guessing the free-agent bidding for Price/Lester/Scherzer starts around 8/200.

If you got Price now, maybe he accepts something a little lower.
   179. Ziggy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4745212)
If he does, okay, that's extra value. But these things don't usually involve much of a discount.

Scherzer is the reigning Cy Young winner. I'd guess that he's going to be the most expensive of the group.
   180. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 07, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4745220)
If he does, okay, that's extra value. But these things don't usually involve much of a discount.

Scherzer is the reigning Cy Young winner. I'd guess that he's going to be the most expensive of the group.


I think Price gets the most, being the youngest, and coming out alone, as opposed to with 2 other great pitchers.

They are all going to get an absolute boat load of money, barring injury/suckitude between now and FA.
   181. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: July 07, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4745336)
I think the big problem with the bats is where to play them.

I have no idea why this is a problem, and will never think it is. It's a problem if you have 7 DH types, but that's not the case here. And there's plenty of time to sort it out - no reason to think that can't happen in the bigs when the time comes.

Bryant hasn't played anywhere but 3B (plus a few DH starts), so if his longterm spot is LF, he needs to get some time there. Hard to tell much from his minor league fielding numbers - they're not great, but not Ryan Braun-esque either. Given he's still playing 3B, it would seem that the Cubs plan to keep him there for now.

From BA:
Bryant’s defense has also been a revelation. There was some thought that Bryant would be able to stick at third base, at least in the short term, but might need to move to the outfield before too long. The reviews of his defense this season are much better than that. He looks to be a solid long-term presence at third base with excellent agility with some scouts saying he may have gold glove ability there. He’s committed more errors than one would like this year (14 in 62 games in Double-A), but scouts see no long-term problems and he’s been flawless since his promotion to Triple-A.


Yet another reason you don't move someone before you have to, cause they might just grow into the role.

I'd rather the Cubs get the #12 pick in the 2015 draft and put an entertaining team on the field this year than earn the #3 pick with an OF of Lake - Sweeney - Schierholz.

Whether or not you agree with "the plan" - nearly 3 years into it - it's not going to change now. And this season is already toast, the idea that the Cubs should all of a sudden focus on improving the ML roster now is foolish and shortsighted and not in line with "the plan". Now, if they decide to start promoting guys - and I'm all for that* - and that means the more talent starts winning more, so be it.

*In spite of everything they've publicly said, I still wouldn't be surprised if Bryant made an appearance this year. Better to undersell and keeps expectations off, as much as they can, then say anything differently. Again though, I don't care about this year so much but the Cubs really have to have some of the future start showing up if they don't want to completely alienate the fanbase. I think several guys make the team out of ST, and like Theo/Jed have always said the goal is to sign them young, so I think the 2020/2021 stuff isn't really going to matter (I don't think any of them are Boras guys, but please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

---

I loved the trade, by the way. I could never personally buy into Samardzija's success, and the idea of paying him $20mil/yr and committing 5 or 6 years seemed crazy, regardless of what the Cubs' financial situation is or isn't.
   182. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 07, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4745372)
Bryant is a Boras guy and I'd be stunned to see him up before late April, doubly so if it happened without a callup this year
   183. McCoy Posted: July 07, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4745375)
For the most part there are no prospects nowadays that come up play their 6 years and then leave via free agency on large revenue teams. Heck, even most small revenues managed to get their prospects signed up to contracts that keep them with the club beyond their required 6 years.
   184. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:52 PM (#4745751)
Since we're talking D, has anyone seen reports on Baez's defense this year? Last season he committed 44(!) errors on 644 chances for a .932 fielding percentage. This year he's only committed 11 errors on 318 chances for a .965 fielding percentage.

The old reports always seemed to say he had tools but his error rates were alarming. So I'm hoping that he's flashing range and the arm while making big strides with his error rate.
   185. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 07, 2014 at 10:58 PM (#4745758)
I suspect the cubs will keep schwarber at catcher for as long as possible in the hopes of him being close to average on d. With all the infield prospects some will have to move to of to get mlb at bats and him being at catcher is one less person to contend with there.
   186. Dr. Vaux Posted: July 08, 2014 at 02:10 AM (#4745842)
I think the rash of injuries this year might hold down the pitcher free-agent contracts. Sure they're worth it if they stay healthy and don't fall apart, but the risk of both is just too high. I wouldn't be surprised if at least Scherzer signs well into the season (that is, the 2015 season).
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