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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cubs’ Epstein defends Ricketts

The Chicago Cubs’ thrifty offseason doesn’t mean that President Theo Epstein has lost faith in the ownership of the Ricketts’ family, which hopes to make more progress with the rooftop owners that will enable them to move forward on improvements at Wrigley Field and increase funds.

“They know they’re doing the right things to lay the foundation to get this right, to turn this into a franchise they can be proud of for generations and generations,” Epstein told a group of fans Saturday morning at Cubs Convention. “I’m more proud of them for their willingness to take that heat and stick to their plan than I would be if they panicked the first time their name was dragged through the mud publicly and said, ‘we can’t do this. We need to put lipstick on this and we need to find some quick fixes just to keep the fans at immediate bay.’

“They’re dragging the Ricketts’ name through the mud. They are in this for the long haul and because of that, they’re giving us the ability to lay the foundation.

“The Ricketts’ vision is a long-term one, and our job is to implement it.”

Thanks to Edd.

Repoz Posted: January 19, 2014 at 09:53 AM | 145 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: January 19, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4641834)
Lack of vitamin D is the new market inefficiency.
   2. JE (Jason) Posted: January 19, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4641835)
Fearing the wrath of Kent Sterling, the Cubs have gone all-in on Clark the Cub Tanaka:
Five major league teams made formal offers to Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, per Nikkan Sports. The report says the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs and White Sox all made offers of over $100 million for six years.
   3. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4641852)
For generations and generations? That's a bit much.
   4. Shibal Posted: January 19, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4641904)
Uh oh, the dreaded vote of confidence from the GM.

Ricketts ain't long for his job, me thinks.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 19, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4641926)
Anyone else think Theo should be getting some heat?

Going into his third season, and what's in place for the next Cub contender?

Castro (big question mark), Rizzo (question mark) and Travis Wood (question mark)?

It's very possible that there are no above average position players or starters on the current MLB roster, that will be on the next good team. You can't expect a farm system (even a highly rated one) to generate that much talent in the next 2-3 years, and the Free Agent market is getting more and more sparse and expensive.
   6. Bob Tufts Posted: January 19, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4641934)
Lack of vitamin D is the new market inefficiency.


You would think that playing so many day games this problem would be solved.

Perhaps "Epsteins" are the new market inefficiency, JE?
   7. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 19, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4641941)
[5]what did you want him to do? The owner handcuffed his payroll to the point that he hasn't been able to bring anybody in at the major league level for the "next contender"
   8. TerpNats Posted: January 19, 2014 at 04:45 PM (#4641966)
In Epstein's defense, the Cubs are a bigger, more complicated building project than were the Bosox when he took over. The North Siders had a weaker farm system and overall organization. He's going about it the right way, just as Mike Rizzo did when he inherited the Bowden mess (and by now, everyone should realize the Nationals are far more than Strasburg, Harper and a bunch of nobodies, so don't say the two #1 picks were the prime reasons for the Nats' rise to prominence).
   9. McCoy Posted: January 19, 2014 at 04:59 PM (#4641979)
How is a large market team with large revenue streams purposefully tanking 3 to 5 seasons, at least, the right way to build a good franchise?
   10. SteveM. Posted: January 19, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4641982)
I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Ricketts have money problems.
   11. zonk Posted: January 19, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4641990)
I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Ricketts have money problems.


There is some very strong evidence in support of this --

For example, the Cubs have sorta, kinda, quietly indicated that the Wrigley renovations are going to span about 4 seasons -- and the word is that it's a matter of the Ricketts having difficulty securing all the financing.

So much for all the brave talk about "just give us permission and we'll do it all ourselves.
   12. McCoy Posted: January 19, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4641991)
Things Rizzo did to build the 2012 team and beyond.
Draft Strasburg-Everyone would have done that.
Could argue that he drafted Storen as well but Storen only threw 30 innings in 2012 and was awful in 2013.
Traded for Mike Morse but he only played 102 games at a 111 OPS+ with wretched defense in 2012.
Traded for Sean Burnett-great in 2012 gone before 2013
Drafted Bryce Harper-which again virtually everyone would have done.
Signed Jayson Werth
Traded for Tom Gorzelanny who was okay in 2012 gone before 2013.
Drafted Anthony Rendon-Remains to be seen the value of this.
Traded for Gio Gonzalez-gave up players acquired before Rizzo became GM and only Norris had a whiff of being a prospect.
Signed Edwin Jackson-left after 2012 and I'm sure most fans were not sad to see him go

And that is about it. I don't really see a blueprint here that anyone really should follow.



   13. McCoy Posted: January 19, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4641999)
There is some very strong evidence in support of this --

For example, the Cubs have sorta, kinda, quietly indicated that the Wrigley renovations are going to span about 4 seasons -- and the word is that it's a matter of the Ricketts having difficulty securing all the financing.

So much for all the brave talk about "just give us permission and we'll do it all ourselves.


They've also said that the plan was originally going to be a 5 year plan but that they are willing to increase costs by about 10% to get it done a year early. There renovations are kind of extensive(adding a hotel and plaza) and they have yet to get the go ahead on much of it which is part of the problem. But the plan is to start this year and finish the video board before the 2015 season.
   14. zonk Posted: January 19, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4642013)
Anyone else think Theo should be getting some heat?

Going into his third season, and what's in place for the next Cub contender?

Castro (big question mark), Rizzo (question mark) and Travis Wood (question mark)?

It's very possible that there are no above average position players or starters on the current MLB roster, that will be on the next good team. You can't expect a farm system (even a highly rated one) to generate that much talent in the next 2-3 years, and the Free Agent market is getting more and more sparse and expensive.


Well, the farm system IS in a much better place than it was 3 years ago. Other than significant weakness behind the plate, there's a healthy mix of talent that goes pretty deep everywhere else.

That said, I do tend to agree that Thed SHOULD be getting heat for the absolutely terrible big league roster. I've been vocally fine with not "contending while we rebuild" -- but the idea that the Cubs are content with thinking Ryan Sweeney is gonna get 4-500 PAs in the OF next year is absolutely ridiculous. Heck - the fact that Brian Bugosevic and Sweeney were the plan for PAs after shedding DeJesus and Soriano is ridiculous....

My big complaint with the big league roster management is how utterly uninventive Thed has been.... I wasn't expecting wave after wave of actual prospects to get tryouts, but you're telling me you can't find something better than what we tried last year - and from the looks of things, will be trying again this year?

At least they've sort of found some potentially interesting pieces for 3B and back of the rotation tryouts.... For a team that knows its not going to compete -- and also knows its best prospects are probably 2+ years away, you ought be running through a lot of former prospects now working through their last chance at regulardom, not guys that are known org fodder in their late 20s/early 30s. Ryan Sweeney is NEVER gonna be anything more than a 4th/5th OF. Everybody knows this.

I guess I would say, so far as a Thed report card:

- I think he's done OK with trades. Some misses -- Vizcaino looks like an injury bust at this point -- but I think he picked the Rangers' pockets on multiple occasions. All in all, strong B maybe even B+

- International signings have been pretty good - I especially liked the whole "just buy everyone this year and deal with the limitations and penalties of going over budget next year" gambit. They get an A in my book here.

- It's awfully early to grade out Thed drafts -- but early returns looks promising... After being hurt to start the year, Almora put up strong numbers, 2012 2nd rounder Pierce Johnson is a real unheraled comer... However, the Cubs went really young in the 2012 high rounds so that ones gonna take some time to shake out. They did go more advanced in 2013. I'm gonna give them a B here, too.

- Free agency -- I'm actually OK with staying out of the mix on the big contracts handed out the last couple of offseasons. There really aren't any good examples of "I'd have liked to see us top that offer" -- in virtually every case, I'd have folded below the final price, too. However, it's on the fringes that I really think Thed has failed -- fringe FAs, minor league FAs, etc. I think they should have done a LOT more here. With the top levels of the org so bereft of near-term help, this is where I'd have expected a frenetic smorgasbord of signings... and we really haven't seen that. I'd give them no better than a C here, and that's mainly because they haven't hamstrung the team with any bad contracts.

- Even though they aren't looking good thus far, I do want to say that I still like locking up Rizzo and Castro. If those guys don't turn around, this regime is sunk anyway, but in the same situation, I'd have signed those deals over and over again.
   15. McCoy Posted: January 19, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4642022)
I don't think this regime is sunk if Rizzo and Castro don't turn it around. This regime is sunk if the farm doesn't produce a handful of good players and they don't make astute major league pickups. You most certainly can have a Alex Gonzalez and Eric Karros manning SS and 1B and win games.
   16. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 19, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4642069)
Valbuena is one of those fringe guys you're looking for zonk, as is Sweeney. Chalking him up as a 4th/5th ofer is underselling him a bit. He's far from a piece you have to hold on to but he's perfectly fine as a stopgap at a cheap rate.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 19, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4642103)
How is a large market team with large revenue streams purposefully tanking 3 to 5 seasons, at least, the right way to build a good franchise?

I think 5 is optimistic. This team will suck in 2014, and that's year 3 of suckdom.

Is anyone good in the farm closer than 2 years away? I don't see this team as remotely competitive before 2016-17.
   18. Transmission Posted: January 19, 2014 at 09:39 PM (#4642235)
# 17 - I'm no minor-league expert, but I read Sickles' website pretty religiously. Around there, the ETA for Baez and Bryant seem to be late-14 or early 15.
   19. Bhaakon Posted: January 19, 2014 at 11:41 PM (#4642433)
How is a large market team with large revenue streams purposefully tanking 3 to 5 seasons, at least, the right way to build a good franchise?


Now that it's much harder/impossible for teams to stockpile picks, throw money at top talent that drops in the draft, and buy up entire islands worth of international FAs, the "big market" aspect is a lot less meaningful in building a farm system. I also suspect that the growing trend of teams buying out the first few free agent years of their home-grown player makes free agency an even less viable avenue of team building as well (not that it was ever a great one).

So, basically, baseball has done a lot of things to 1) make market and payroll size significantly less relevant in building a team, and, 2) make it a lot harder to turn a farm system around in a hurry.
   20. McCoy Posted: January 19, 2014 at 11:58 PM (#4642437)
It would seem to me that it would also signal that teams shouldn't rely so heavily on their own farm system producing especially when it was so depleted. The Cubs had a chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2012 and be respectable in 2013 and beyond while developing their farm system. They chose not to do it. They gained virtually nothing by tanking the last two years and probably the next 2 to 3 years as well. Losing didn't give them their 2012 picks nor any of the international free agents.
   21. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 20, 2014 at 03:08 AM (#4642468)
The Cubs had a chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2012 and be respectable in 2013 and beyond while developing their farm system. They chose not to do it. They gained virtually nothing by tanking the last two years and probably the next 2 to 3 years as well. Losing didn't give them their 2012 picks nor any of the international free agents.


They had 4 of the top 67 picks in 2012, basically twice as many as the average team in the most valuable portion of the draft. This was due to two reasons, tanking enough to get the 5th pick overall and 7th pick in 2nd round (basically a Yankee first rounder) and 2 comp picks for letting Ramirez and Maholm walk.

In 2013 they didn't get any comp picks, but they picked 2nd, which gave them 2 picks in top 41.

So tanking actually DID give them two extra high picks in 2012, picking at the front instead of the back of rounds is a significant advantage. The Yankees 2013 3rd rounder was the 103rd pick, the Cubs 2013 4th rounder was 108th. That advantage is significant, every round the Cubs pick is only slightly less valuable than a good teams prior round pick.

Drafting is still a crapshoot, but the Cubs git themselves more and better bullets. That's not virtually nothing, it's very valuable. There is a reason that the Rays drafts have been better than the Yankees the last decade that has nothing to do with how smart their respective GMs are.
   22. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:09 AM (#4642478)
Guy sticks up for his boss. Film at 11.
   23. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4642514)
the idea that the Cubs are content with thinking Ryan Sweeney is gonna get 4-500 PAs in the OF next year is absolutely ridiculous


If you're going for a bargain in one of your OF slots, I don't think Sweeney is a bad choice at all.
   24. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4642521)
They got two picks for letting Aramis and Carlos Pena walk.

The 43rd pick in the draft has historically produced bupkis at the MLB level. Aramis over the last two years has produced 6 WAR. Wade Miley who got drafted in 2008 looks to be able to outproduce that and you have Scott Hatteberg from 1991 doing better. It's a lottery ticket that rarely paysoff. Now the cubs could have still let Pena walk and could have still taken Rizzo but if they had kept Pena the 56th pick has JJ Hardy as the winning lottery numbers and Scott Linebrink as the $3 powerball number. In otherwords the Cubs tanked to pick up one or two extra (really just one) lottery tickets that are unlikely to payoff and let 6 WAR walk out the door for those lottery tickets.

The Rays have drafted better than the Yankees because they sucked for so long that they got numerous 1 picks and numerous top 5 picks. Except for Carl Crawford almost 15 years ago there 2nd through 8th round picks have either never produced or have largely been organizational filler.

Even the A's and their famous 2002 draft got almost all of their value from their 16th and 24th pick.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4642576)
In otherwords the Cubs tanked to pick up one or two extra (really just one) lottery tickets that are unlikely to payoff and let 6 WAR walk out the door for those lottery tickets.


Pena is a first baseman who's been good for a 91 OPS+ over the last two seasons. He's a significantly worse player than Rizzo, and I can't imagine that the Cubs miss him at all.

Ramirez was good in 2012, but he missed about half of last season with injuries, and he's going to earn $16M this season and $18M in 2015. Would you rather spend that money on the decline phase of Ramirez's career, or on a large fraction of Tanaka's new deal?
   26. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4642584)
The Cubs aren't the Pirates they can do both.
   27. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4642628)
The 43rd pick in the draft has historically produced bupkis at the MLB level.


This is the laziest type of analysis. Whatever the specific 43rd pick has done historically hasn't produced a sample size large enough to make any reasonable valuation. The draft has been around since 1965, so less than 50 43rd picks total. What have 40-45th picks done in general is a much better proxy for it's value, and we have good reason to believe it's valuable.

The Rays have drafted better than the Yankees because they sucked for so long that they got numerous 1 picks and numerous top 5 picks. Except for Carl Crawford almost 15 years ago there 2nd through 8th round picks have either never produced or have largely been organizational filler.


It's obviously cherry picking to focus on 2nd through 8th, since they had many successful picks right after the 8th round, and that advantage of picking at the top of every round still helps them. They've done almost nothing the last 5 years, but they weren't picking at the top of rounds anymore, coincidence?

2nd Round
Carl Crawford - 37.7 WAR

4th round
Dave Bush 3.5 WAR
Jeremy Hellickson - 6.8 WAR
Alex Cobb - 5.3 WAR

5th round
Aubrey Huff - 19.7 WAR

8th round
Joe Kennedy - 7.5 WAR
Matt Moore - 4.2 WAR

And lastly, organizational filler is what often helps get good trades done. Some guy drafted 43rd may never make the majors, but might be an important component of a key trade.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4642632)
# 17 - I'm no minor-league expert, but I read Sickles' website pretty religiously. Around there, the ETA for Baez and Bryant seem to be late-14 or early 15.

Sure, but you can't expect them to be above average regulars from day 1. You're looking at 2016 before either should be expected to make a real impact.
   29. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4642640)
One of the comp picks for Aramis was Pierce Johnson who is rated the 6th best prospect in the organization by BA. I don't know what kind of MLB career he will have, or who he may be eventually traded for, but the hindsight we do have doesn't condemn their decision to let Aramis walk.
   30. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4642647)
This is the laziest type of analysis. Whatever the specific 43rd pick has done historically hasn't produced a sample size large enough to make any reasonable valuation. The draft has been around since 1965, so less than 50 43rd picks total. What have 40-45th picks done in general is a much better proxy for it's value, and we have good reason to believe it's valuable.


Exactly. If the Cubs got the 46th pick instead of the 43rd, he wouldn't have said boo. In the last 20 or so years, the 46th has produced Yovani Gallardo, Jimmy Rollins, and Scott Rolen.

The 57th round (in reference to the 56th and Carlos Pena) has produced Jon Lester, Brandon Phillips, and Brandon Inge. Also Robbie Ross, a 24 YO with a 163 career ERA+, and Billy Hamilton.
   31. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4642648)
the idea that the Cubs are content with thinking Ryan Sweeney is gonna get 4-500 PAs in the OF next year is absolutely ridiculous


Ryan Sweeney is a perfectly good long end of a platoon, especially given that he can play CF.
   32. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4642649)
It's obviously cherry picking to focus on 2nd through 8th, since they had many successful picks right after the 8th round, and that advantage of picking at the top of every round still helps them. They've done almost nothing the last 5 years, but they weren't picking at the top of rounds anymore, coincidence?

No it isn't. Finding good players after the 4th or so round is heavily dependent on the team's skill at identifying talent and luck and has little to do with where in the round you draft. You don't tank a season so that you can be the 5th pick in the 6th round. The vast majority of value comes in the first round and at the top of the first round.

This is the laziest type of analysis. Whatever the specific 43rd pick has done historically hasn't produced a sample size large enough to make any reasonable valuation. The draft has been around since 1965, so less than 50 43rd picks total. What have 40-45th picks done in general is a much better proxy for it's value, and we have good reason to believe it's valuable.



Sure but the point remains the same. Picks 40 through 50 aren't likely to outproduce what Aramis has done so far and will do over the next two years.
   33. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4642660)
Vizcaino looks like an injury bust at this point

It seems to me a bit too early to write Vizcaino off -- he had a setback from his TJ surgery recovery last year that required a further procedure, but he is reportedly now finally healthy. I'd be inclined to wait at least a few more months before declaring him a bust.
   34. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4642662)
Sure, but you can't expect them to be above average regulars from day 1. You're looking at 2016 before either should be expected to make a real impact.


How certain are we that Aramis Ramirez is going to be an "above-average regular" at third in 2015? His Oliver projection for that year is .264/.344/.433, and it's not like his defense or baserunning are putting many runs on the board, either. And that's if he stays healthy in the first place, which he couldn't do last year.
   35. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 20, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4642706)
1. The Cubs had a high draft slot in 2012 because of the 2011 team being terrible. That had nothing to do with a purposeful tank job. Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod weren't in place until after the 2011 season.

2. Ramirez is not due 18M in 2015. He can either have his option picked up for 14M or he'll get a 4M buyout.
   36. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 20, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4642711)
I wouldn't call Vizcaino a bust yet, but his chances of being a starter are probably pretty close to nil.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4642719)
How certain are we that Aramis Ramirez is going to be an "above-average regular" at third in 2015? His Oliver projection for that year is .264/.344/.433, and it's not like his defense or baserunning are putting many runs on the board, either. And that's if he stays healthy in the first place, which he couldn't do last year.

I wasn't arguing to keep Ramirez. I'm just saying that this team is looking at 5+ years of being terrible under Thed, before they can hope to compete, which is not the sign of a good plan, or excellent management.
   38. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 20, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4642741)
The Cubs will not be terrible through 2017. That's ridiculous.
   39. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4642742)
So does that mean you think they'll be good in 2017? 85 wins? 90 wins? What does 2016 look like for you? How about 2015?

Walk us through your vision of the Cubs over the next three seasons.
   40. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 20, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4642745)
To preface this, trust me, I think Tom Ricketts has been a miserable failure as an owner and is not allowing the Cubs to spend the money that they should be. That said:

-I think the Cubs will be signing a monster TV deal with FOX in the next couple months to replace the WGN games that expire at the end of this season. This will force even cheapass Ricketts to spend money.
-I expect Baez and Bryant to be in the opening day lineup in 2015.
-I expect a trade before the 2015 season of some assets for a 4ish win player on the major league level. (Probably a pitcher)
-I expect a big free agent signing next offseason.

If the Cubs can actually get Tanaka, I expect the Cubs to compete in '15.
   41. SteveM. Posted: January 20, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4642755)
On a selfish note, I hope WGN bids to keep games. I am not certain ho they can justify being a national cable channel without the Cubs. My fear of putting all the eggs in rebuilding solely through the farm system, which right now seems to be the plan, is that not all prospects pan out, and the system is really light on pitching prospects. And while this has no basis in any sort of stat evidence, I suspect it would be easy to compete with a very young roster of positional players, with some decent MLB pitching. That is why the talk of trading the Shark has troubled me. The one pitcher in the rotation with an above average arm and command and you want to trade him if he doesn't sign a friendly contract? When did the Cubs become the Royals?
   42. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4642768)
The free agent class of 2015 is pretty weak.

Hanley Ramirez and maybe Chase Headley for positional players. Justin Masterson, James Shield and maybe Max Scherzer & Jon Lester for pitching. Not much in the way of a big free agent signing.
   43. Moses Taylor World Re-Tour 2.0: Warszawa Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4642790)
On a selfish note, I hope WGN bids to keep games. I am not certain ho they can justify being a national cable channel without the Cubs.

As a Chicagoan with no emotional ties to WGN, I cannot wait until the Cubs (Bulls/Hawks and yes, even Sox) are off WGN. The production quality gets worse every year - or at least the gap from CSN to WGN as WGN broadcasts fewer and fewer games. The angles, replays, etc are all noticably worse on WGN and well below par compared any other network (this includes the games on WCIU, since they're pretty much WGN broadcasts). Of course, being local, don't have to deal with any add'l packages to get the games, so the only difference between WGN and CSN is quality.
   44. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4642794)
The downside of the Cubs coming off of WGN is that I'll get even less Cubs games then. At least with WGN I could catch a dozen or so games a year on TV here in DC.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4642797)
The Cubs will not be terrible through 2017. That's ridiculous.

Well, 5 years of terrible takes us through 2016. Thed have 2 terrible years already in the bank, and 2014 looks like a lock.

I agree that by 2014 they'll probably be average.

-I expect Baez and Bryant to be in the opening day lineup in 2015.

Bryant only has 200 professional PAs, and hasn't played above high A. That's very aggressive.

And even if they are, they'll probably take some time to become good major leaguers.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4642798)
Hanley Ramirez and maybe Chase Headley for positional players.

Which doesn't work at all for the Cubs, since their two top prospects are likely 3B.
   47. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4642811)
Bryant is starting the year in AA and is coming off being named MVP of the AFL. It's not aggressive at all for an advanced college hitter. He and Baez are both top 10-15 prospects depending on the source, it's not like I'm projecting a fringe top 100 guy to be contributor here. Expecting them to not contribute for a year just because they're young is silly.

I can't imagine the Cubs will be adding anyone to their IF beyond a one year commitment. You'd have to think with Baez and some mix of Alcantara, Villanueva and Mike Olt's corpse they'll fill out the 2B and 3B slots in '15.,. Bryant will almost certainly wind up in RF.
   48. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4642815)
Brett Gardner, Colby Rasmus, and Nick Markakis will also be out there(assuming Baltimore declines his 17.5M option.
   49. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4642820)
Bryant is starting the year in AA and is coming off being named MVP of the AFL. It's not aggressive at all for an advanced college hitter. He and Baez are both top 10-15 prospects depending on the source, it's not like I'm projecting a fringe top 100 guy to be contributor here. Expecting them to not contribute for a year just because they're young is silly.

You shouldn't expect anyone who has never played in AA to be an MLB starter a year from now. I don't care what his prospect rank. Young players struggle to adjust to higher level of competition.

We really can't let the Trout/Harper/Machado experience blind us. That kind of immediate production is very, very rare.

The Ackley, Hosmer, Smoak, Domonic Brown, Lawrie, Montero, experience is far more usual.
   50. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4642827)
I don't think anyone would consider Brett Gardner, Colby Rasmus, and Nick Markakis as big free agents.
   51. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: January 20, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4642833)
I dont think bryant starting in 15 is a reach. He will have over a full year of pro ball under his belt plus he did play in college so its not like were counting on a 18 year old to suddenly fill out and advance.
   52. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4642837)
I dont think bryant starting in 15 is a reach. He will have over a full year of pro ball under his belt plus he did play in college so its not like were counting on a 18 year old to suddenly fill out and advance.

Didn't they say the same thing about Smoak and Hosmer?
   53. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4642847)
2002
Nick Swisher-2005 102 OPS+
Mark Teahen-2005 82 OPS+

2003
Aaron Hill-2005 92 OPS+
David Murphy-2008 105 OPS+
Carlos Quentin-2007 63 OPS+
Andre Etheir-2006 113 OPS+

2004
Stephen Drew-2007 71 OPS+
Hunter Pence-2007 129 OPS+
Dustin Pedroia-2007 112 OPS+
Kurt Suzuki-2008 96 OPS+
Seth Smith-2009 122 OPS+

2005
Alex Gordon-2007 90 OPS+
Ryan Zimmerman-2006 114 OPS+
Ryan Braun-2007 154 OPS+
Troy Tulowitzki-2007 109 OPS+
Jacoby Ellsbury-2008 88 OPS+
Jed Lowrie-? 2011? 2012? 2013?
Cliff Pennington-2010 88 OPS+
Chase Headley-2009 102 OPS+
Nick Hundley-2013 94 OPS+

2006
Evan Longoria-2008 127 OPS+
Drew Stubbs-2010 105 OPS+
John Jay-2010 113 OPS+

2007
Matt Wieters-2009 96 OPS+
Todd Frazier-2012 118 OPS+
Josh Donaldson-2013 148 OPS+
Zach Cozart-2012 82 OPS+

2008
Gordon Beckham-2009 106 OPS+
Buster Posey-2010 133 OPS+
Jason Castro-2013 130 OPS+
Ike Davis-2010 115 OPS+

2009
Dustin Ackley-2012 77 OPS+
Jason Kipnis-2012 102 OPS+

And that is about it. If you were a college kid drafted in 2005 you did pretty good for yourself but most first and second round college draft picks needed at least two seasons before they got to start 100 or more games at the major league level and even then most of them weren't adding much that first year in the majors.
   54. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:15 AM (#4642970)
Was my argument that anyone drafted from college becomes a starter within 2 seasons?
   55. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:35 AM (#4642975)
Half those guys never even cracked a top 50 list. Top of my head, only Ackley was drafted as high as Bryant, and only a handful were even top 10 picks. I have no idea what guys like Zack Cozart, Jon Jay, and Nick Hundley have to do with Kris Bryant.
   56. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:43 AM (#4642979)
Didn't they say the same thing about Smoak and Hosmer?


Neither of whom put up numbers anywhere close to what Bryant's done thus far. And if anyone said Eric Hosmer, drafted out of high school would be ready for the big leagues after a year and a half, which included a .695 OPS at age 19, then they're ####### morons. Nevermind that after 2.5 years, Hosmer put up a 118 OPS+ in his first year in the bigs even!
   57. rickey steals third person Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:55 AM (#4642980)
I am enjoying this discussion (as i usually do when I lurk on btf). To jump in on SouthSideRyan's thoughtful post:

- Free agency -- I'm actually OK with staying out of the mix on the big contracts handed out the last couple of offseasons. There really aren't any good examples of "I'd have liked to see us top that offer" -- in virtually every case, I'd have folded below the final price, too. However, it's on the fringes that I really think Thed has failed -- fringe FAs, minor league FAs, etc. I think they should have done a LOT more here. With the top levels of the org so bereft of near-term help, this is where I'd have expected a frenetic smorgasbord of signings... and we really haven't seen that. I'd give them no better than a C here, and that's mainly because they haven't hamstrung the team with any bad contracts.


Let's look at the value on the fringes:

So last year we have Valbuena (1.6 WAR, 2.1 over two years) DeJesus (1.6 WAR, 3.4 in 1.5 years), Schierholtz (1.4 WAR, 1 year), Navarro (2 WAR in 266 PA), Sweeney (.4 WAR and .9 oWAR in 220 PA), Murphy (1.0 WAR in 166! PA), Bogusevic (112 OPS+ in 155 PA, Gregg 113 ERA+ in 66 IP, Villenueva (1.4 WAR), and Feldman (114 ERA+, .9 WAR).

While I share your concern with the team at the major league level, the performance seems to indicate that Thed are really good at finding fringe value. Most of these players cost nothing, or were on relatively cheap one/two year FA deals. Judging from the production they got out of these guys--mostly fourth outfielders and utility infielders--the bigger issue is the lack of production from any all star level (Meaning 3 WAR or above) position players and a bullpen made out old rags soaked in kerosene. Finding a 3 WAR+ starter in FA usually requires the kind of crazy money that you stated you would pass on too.

The hope,of course, is that one of these guys turns into an all star level starter, which I'm not really seeing here, but I'm not sure how often you get that out of the kind of fringe signings you're describing here. So how do we find better starting position players?
   58. madvillain Posted: January 21, 2014 at 02:35 AM (#4642984)
While I share your concern with the team at the major league level, the performance seems to indicate that Thed are really good at finding fringe value. Most of these players cost nothing, or were on relatively cheap one/two year FA deals. Judging from the production they got out of these guys--mostly fourth outfielders and utility infielders--the bigger issue is the lack of production from any all star level (Meaning 3 WAR or above) position players and a bullpen made out old rags soaked in kerosene. Finding a 3 WAR+ starter in FA usually requires the kind of crazy money that you stated you would pass on too.


One big problem is your young stud shortstop putting up -.6 WAR in over 500PA. As you said, the Cubs need stars. Stars and scrubs is a fine strategy, especially for a large market team that can afford to overpay for decent (2 WAR) production on the FA market to get rid of a scrub or two in the offseason.

The problem isn't so much on the margins of the roster (that's a "good team" problem mostly) but finding a three our four position players you can hang your hat on for a combined 10 or so WAR every year. That's easier said than done.

I do think that McCoy's critique of the MLB roster is legit, just that he's making the argument poorly. If anything I'd argue the Cubs should have been in the Prince sweepstakes, they should have been in on the Fister talks, they should have tried to sign Ellsbury or Choo or Cano or _____________. Adding 4-6 WAR in one big chunk would do wonders for fan morale and excitement and more importantly improve the damn team.

Of course, if Ricketts does have cash flow problems and is using the Cubs as a piggy bank with a high annual return, then that explains the lack of action on that front.
   59. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:11 AM (#4642992)
Why wouldn't they be deliberate with promoting Baez and Bryant? No point starting the clock when you can give them another year of development.
   60. rickey steals third person Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:26 AM (#4642993)
Madvillain, I agree with most of what you say here, especially about Castro and this:

The problem isn't so much on the margins of the roster (that's a "good team" problem mostly) but finding a three our four position players you can hang your hat on for a combined 10 or so WAR every year. That's easier said than done.


However, I'm not sure which of the free agents you list (especially Fielder and Cano) would make sense for the current window, or considering who the Cubs have on the roster/coming up quickly through the minors. In other words, I highly doubt that the Cubs will be in on any free agent infielders in the near future, (rightly) because of Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, Castro, etc. So many of their big prospects are infielders. Now they could always move someone in a trade (say for a TOR starter), but I can see the wisdom in waiting until these guys hit AA before deciding on what they have/don't have in the pipeline.

I would love to see the Cubs add a 4 WAR type outfielder, but no way do I want to commit seven years to a left fielder (Choo) or an oft-injured center/left(eventually) guy (Ellsbury). I guess if I had to choose, Ellsbury might make some sense, since he does play a premium position. But man he seems to get hurt a lot, and you'd be betting a ton on his 2011 season.

I guess what I'm saying is that overpaying for a stud would be fine, I just don't think the right stud has hit the market (Rickey says that Rickey is available). I have no problem being patient (for one more year, at least). I would like to see Thed pull the trigger on a trade for an all star positional guy that we don't have to platoon. But who is available? Stanton? Kemp? Hamilton?

The guy I wish the Cubs were in on is Upton the younger. Hopefully the improvements to the farm system can enable them to get in on the next Upton/Cabrera sweepstakes. And Castro and Rizzo need to hit, dammit!



   61. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 08:25 AM (#4643003)
Half those guys never even cracked a top 50 list. Top of my head, only Ackley was drafted as high as Bryant, and only a handful were even top 10 picks. I have no idea what guys like Zack Cozart, Jon Jay, and Nick Hundley have to do with Kris Bryant.

Those were the guys that actually got to the majors leagues and contributed something from the first two rounds of each year. There are plenty of college guys that either never got to the majors or produced either nothing or negative WAR.

There is virtually no way Bryant starts opening day of 2015. Not unless he agrees to an 7 or 8 year contract before 2015. Even if he is ready for 2015 they aren't going to start him opening day for arbitration reasons. It is more likely that he'll get 100+ starts in 2015 if he does knock the cover off the ball in 2014 in the minors. If he doesn't then he might just be a September call up in 2015 or be looking at a 2016 start in the majors.
   62. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 08:31 AM (#4643005)
However, I'm not sure which of the free agents you list (especially Fielder and Cano) would make sense for the current window, or considering who the Cubs have on the roster/coming up quickly through the minors. In other words, I highly doubt that the Cubs will be in on any free agent infielders in the near future, (rightly) because of Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, Castro, etc. So many of their big prospects are infielders. Now they could always move someone in a trade (say for a TOR starter), but I can see the wisdom in waiting until these guys hit AA before deciding on what they have/don't have in the pipeline.

I don't think you pass on a Cano because you have some guys down on the farm. If those guys develop into hitters you either find a spot for them or you trade them off to fill others at other spots. It is never a bad thing to amass many good players nor is it wise to pass up some guaranteed greatness*.


*Well, obviously there is always a risk of flopping.
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 08:46 AM (#4643007)
In other words, I highly doubt that the Cubs will be in on any free agent infielders in the near future, (rightly) because of Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, Castro, etc. So many of their big prospects are infielders.

There's a much higher chance that none of those 4 is a productive MLB regular in 2015-16 than that all 4 of them are. And there's already talk of Bryant moving to the OF. As McCoy says, you don't avoid elite talent because of prospects.
   64. rickey steals third person Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4643331)

I don't think you pass on a Cano because you have some guys down on the farm. If those guys develop into hitters you either find a spot for them or you trade them off to fill others at other spots. It is never a bad thing to amass many good players nor is it wise to pass up some guaranteed greatness*.


I don't think you really do either, but as you state there is no such thing as guaranteed greatness. I don't expect all four to be productive either, but we have more than just Baez and Bryant coming up through the system. I would not be at all surprised if Cano becomes available even a couple of years into his contract. I would like to see (and am patient enough to wait for) the Cubs start trading for bigger "bad" contracts, since they can often be had at a less crippling rate. I don't see the wisdom in outbidding Cano's contract (10! years, 240 million). A 32 year old second baseman??? Are you kidding?

   65. rickey steals third person Posted: January 21, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4643345)
There's a much higher chance that none of those 4 is a productive MLB regular in 2015-16 than that all 4 of them are. And there's already talk of Bryant moving to the OF. As McCoy says, you don't avoid elite talent because of prospects.


Most of the Bryant/OF talk is based around finding a place for everyone to play, not a problem with his defensive abilities. I'm not sure which 4 you are referring to, but besides Baez and Bryant, there is also Olt (obvious caveat here), Candelaria, Alcantara, and Villenueva close to the bigs. Hell, I don't expect them all to become all stars, but I would bet that at least two of them put up a 4 WAR season (more likely than all of them wash out). Let's see what happens at AA, and go from there. If they play well, they can either be part of the plan at Wrigley, or will have more value in a trade.

Again, I'm not saying I wouldn't want to sign any free agents, (I really, really want Tanaka) but how much bidding would it have taken for Cano? You can't simply say the Cubs should have signed him for what the Mariners signed him for, since they would have likely kept bidding. I remember hearing some of these same arguments for Pujols and Hamilton. How are those contracts (already) working out?
   66. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4643364)
I don't think you really do either, but as you state there is no such thing as guaranteed greatness. I don't expect all four to be productive either, but we have more than just Baez and Bryant coming up through the system. I would not be at all surprised if Cano becomes available even a couple of years into his contract. I would like to see (and am patient enough to wait for) the Cubs start trading for bigger "bad" contracts, since they can often be had at a less crippling rate. I don't see the wisdom in outbidding Cano's contract (10! years, 240 million). A 32 year old second baseman??? Are you kidding?

If Cano is going to be availalbe a couple of years into his contract all the more reason to get him now. IF you can unload him 4 or 5 years from now then a large revenue team like the Cubs should definitely be buying his services.

You can't simply say the Cubs should have signed him for what the Mariners signed him for, since they would have likely kept bidding. I remember hearing some of these same arguments for Pujols and Hamilton. How are those contracts (already) working out?


The Angels have a larger payroll than the Cubs and had/have more "bad contracts" than the Cubs and yet they have won a boatload more games than the Cubs over the last two years and have done so in a tougher division than the Cubs.
   67. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 21, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4643374)
The Angels have a larger payroll than the Cubs and had/have more "bad contracts" than the Cubs and yet they have won a boatload more games than the Cubs over the last two years and have done so in a tougher division than the Cubs.


And if Starlin Castro had batted .323/.432/.557 with 33 SB last year, you'd have a stronger argument.
   68. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4643398)
Snapper apparently believes there's a decent chance of a team plane crash if he thinks there's any chance of none of rizzo, Castro, Baez, or Bryant being a productive major leaguer in 2016

That group already has a 2 war 3/5 of a season and full seasons of 2.6, 3, and 3.6
   69. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4643405)
[61]if the other events play out as I expect and the cubs get tanaka, they're going to actually be trying for the playoffs in 15. They're not gonna puts around with arb clocks and run Darnell McDonald out in rf for a month and a half to save money they don't need to.

Regarding the college draftees, my point is very few of those guys have the pedigree that Bryant does. Acting like there's some sort of correlation with college draftee success in the bigs because some guys who have nothing in common with Bryant took a while to get to the bigs makes no sense. I'm not saying limit it to players who are top 10 prospects drafted #2 or higher but the net you're casting is way too wide. And that's kind of the point. Bryant is a unique prospect at this point because it's extremely rare for somebody to be In The position he's in right now 6 months after being drafted.
   70. madvillain Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4643420)
And that's kind of the point. Bryant is a unique prospect at this point because it's extremely rare for somebody to be I. The position he's in right now 6 months after being drafted.


I don't think you can pencil in any player, no matter how much he tore up A ball, no matter how great he was in college or what his tools are -- as a contributor on the MLB team before seeing how they adjust to AA and even AAA. The jump from the low minors to the high minors is as big of a jump as from the high minors to MLB.

If he tears up AA then sure, pencil him in for '15, but that's hardly a given.
   71. kwarren Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4643427)
I guess I would say, so far as a Thed report card:


Must be nice to have the balls and the knowledge to publicly "issue Theo Epstein his report card". Isn't in the norm for the teacher to have, you know, a little more knowledge that the students.

Anyways, I'm sure Theo appreciates your feedback....and he will give it the consideration it deserves as he moves forward.
   72. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4643438)
I fully expect them to putz around with arb clocks, playoffs be damned. For starters pretty much everybody does and secondly there is no way anyone can pencil in a playoff push in 2015 without the Cubs doing some really radical stuff. I mean I guess if Rizzo and Castro rebound into 5 to 6 WAR players, Tanaka comes over is a 5 to 7 WAR player as well, and Castillo shows himself to be a 5 or 6 WAR player as well in 2014 they night very well let Bryant start the year on the major league roster if he destroyed AA ball in 2014 and even then I'd still bet they wait on bringing him up.

As for college hitters if your view is that Bryant is a special hitter then there is no pool that will be acceptable to use as a comparison. He could be a 18 year old high school graduate and we could still use the "special hitter" exception. My point would be that 146 PA in low A/rookie ball does not a special hitter make. He's ranked high as a prospect right now largely because he was ranked high as a draftee. If he had been drafted in the 18th round and put those numbers up in 146 PA it would be unlikely that he would be ranked in the Cubs top 10. I'll also add that draft picks routinely get placed in a team's top 10 prospect list after getting drafted. Starting on opening day 2015 is right now a best case scenario that one shouldn't really expect. The more likely scenario is that he gets either called up at some point in 2015 or 2016 and worst case scenario is obivously that he busts but a more likely worst case scenario is he comes up in 2017.
   73. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4643460)
I'm not talking cubs top 10, I'm talking mlb top 10.

Bryant also went on to win the MVP in the afl, a league which usually is littered with top hitting prospects
   74. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4643472)
Baez needs a lot of work with the glove or for the Cubs to give up on his infield future and then get him acclimated to the OF before coming to the majors. Bryant needs more improvement with his glove and for the Cubs to give up on Olt (his only potential poisition of value is 3B presuming he gets untracked with the bat); OR for the Cubs to give up on Rizzo at first base and take time to acclimate Bryant; OR for the Cubs to give up on the idea of Bryant at 3B so they acclimate him to the OF.

I love both of their bats but there are a lot of defensive/positional issues to resolve before either guy is a mainstay in MLB. Bryant won't even see AAA until the Cubs make a determination on Olt or move Bryant off 3B.
   75. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4643473)
MLB has him at 36, Sickels has him at 19, and I don't know where BA ranks him.
   76. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4643484)
Snapper apparently believes there's a decent chance of a team plane crash if he thinks there's any chance of none of rizzo, Castro, Baez, or Bryant being a productive major leaguer in 2016

That group already has a 2 war 3/5 of a season and full seasons of 2.6, 3, and 3.6


Rizzo has a career 100 OPS+, 101 last year. He's not even demonstrated he can be a average 1B.

Castro has declined sharply two years in a row, and just put up a -0.6 WAR season.

These guys have as good or better a chance of being bench players in 2016 as they do being productive regulars.
   77. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4643486)
I believe parks alluded to the fact that he'd bein his top 10. When were those numbers from mlb and sickels?

Pops, Baez isn't moving to the of. He's still playing ss in aaa this season, and either McLeod or Jed said 2b or 3b would be his future
   78. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4643488)
Rizzo put up 2.6 bWAR last year, what is your standard for a productive major leaguer. Both are also entering their age 24 seasons
   79. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4643493)
Well, Rizzo did that largely on the DRS's view of his defense. As a hitter he was an average major leaguer which makes him a below average hitting first baseman. I'd rather not rely on his defense to make him a useful player or more precisely for WAR to view him as a useful player.
   80. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4643501)
http://mlb.scout.com/a.z?s=243&p=9&c=12&yr=2014&nid=287&lnid=287&rc=4&pid=88&pg=1

Here's mcdaniels list he has Bryant at 10 still trying to chase down the others

The mlb.com list looks like it came out pre AFL. They have an updated list coming out this week but in their position breakdown, Bryant has passed castellanos who the top 100 list had at 11
   81. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4643502)
McCoy beat me to it. That WAR is being carried by a +14 run outlier on D. If you use UZR, he was at 1.6 WAR.

What's league average now with the FG/BRef Grand Compromise? 2.3 WAR or something like that?

For "productive regular" which was my term, I'm looking for 2.5 WAR or better. Guys below 2 WAR you're looking to replace.

I also don't think age is that huge a deal, since these guys haven't been getting better. You need more than a projection of the recent trends on these two.
   82. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4643511)
These guys haven't been getting better but you're happy to use rizzos abominable first call up with the padres against his projection going forward
   83. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4643541)
I don't think you can pencil in any player, no matter how much he tore up A ball, no matter how great he was in college or what his tools are -- as a contributor on the MLB team before seeing how they adjust to AA and even AAA. The jump from the low minors to the high minors is as big of a jump as from the high minors to MLB.

My point would be that 146 PA in low A/rookie ball does not a special hitter make.


This might fall under the "Exception that proves the rule" category, but Frank Thomas. Drafted #7 overall, hit .296/.405/.425 in 289 PA in rookie and low A ball. Next year hit .323/.487/.581 in AA. Got called up in August and proceeded to repeat that line every year for the next 7 years.

Now, I'm not claiming Bryant is going to be an immediate MVP candidate, but one can be a lot worse than Thomas was and still be a productive MLB player.
   84. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4643545)
That's not an exception that proves the rule! Kidding aside, it's possible that Bryant is legit and can start next year or in 2015. My point is that I don't think you should bet the farm on it and I also don't think the Cubs will let him start the season on the major league roster in 2015.
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4643547)
These guys haven't been getting better but you're happy to use rizzos abominable first call up with the padres against his projection going forward

His OPS+ last year was the same as his career number. Call it a 107 career OPS+ if it makes you feel better. That's still not good enough to be a regular 1B.
   86. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 21, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4643559)
That's not an exception that proves the rule! Kidding aside, it's possible that Bryant is legit and can start next year or in 2015. My point is that I don't think you should bet the farm on it and I also don't think the Cubs will let him start the season on the major league roster in 2015.


I think y'all are getting too hung up on specific players. Kris Bryant is a stud. Javier Baez is a stud. The Cubs have a handful of other hitting prospects who look to be really, really good. Jason Parks just said on Twitter that he ranks the Cubs as having the second-best minor-league system in baseball. Time will tell what that translates into at the major-league level, but, all other things being equal, I'd rather root for the team with the 2nd-best minor-league system in MLB than the team with the 30th-best system in MLB.

As for Rizzo and Castro, in my opinion, Theo's biggest failing so far was the hiring of Dale Sveum. If Castro and Rizzo had just repeated their 2012 performances in 2013, the Cubs would have likely been somewhere in the mid-70s in wins. Which isn't great, of course, but would at least show an obvious trend in the right direction. Certainly, there's a chance that Starlin Castro's best season is already in the past and that Anthony Rizzo's upside is league-average first baseman, but I'm willing to give them and the new coaching staff at least one more year here to see what they can do.
   87. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4643577)
I don't think the difference between Rizzo & Castro 2012 and 2013 equals 10 wins. Goes and looks it up . . . . the difference was about 4 wins.

But the thing is is if we're going to play the what if game or projections there is now way you can project 6.4 wins out of the C sport for 2013 nor can you project that going forward. Just like you couldn't project Darwin Barney to put up a 5 WAR in 2013 either. So say they somehow get to 70 wins last year there is still little reason to think they would improve upon that mark in 2014 and if anything you would expect them to slide a bit as the Cubs look to be putting filler out there in many spots this year. Which is the final thing to bring up which is that except for Castro and Rizzo there doesn't seem to be anything on this team that is being built with the future in mind. Almost everyone else looks to be placeholders. There is talk that Jeff Samardzija will get traded, Castillo just kind of fell into their lap, and the only other guy that might be around for the future is Wood.
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 05:09 PM (#4643585)
and the only other guy that might be around for the future is Wood

He's Theo's biggest achievement to date.

We'll have to see if the hit suppression is sustainable, but he is a big FB pitcher, so maybe he can.
   89. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4643619)
Parks also said if he could re-do his list he'd have Baez as the #1 prospect in baseball (Ahead of Buxton~!)
   90. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4643645)
Parks also said if he could re-do his list he'd have Baez as the #1 prospect in baseball (Ahead of Buxton~!)

His plate discipline scares me. It's real hard to be a great hitter if you K 1/3 of the time.
   91. Weeks T. Olive Posted: January 21, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4643658)
His plate discipline scares me. It's real hard to be a great hitter if you K 1/3 of the time.

Looks like his K rate is about 25%. Not sure where you see 1/3.

Edit: Of course, that's still higher than you'd like to see, but nowhere near as alarming.
   92. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 21, 2014 at 06:46 PM (#4643666)
Of course, that's still higher than you'd like to see, but nowhere near as alarming.


Then again, how many 20 YOs hit 37 HR at any level? Adam Dunn didn't. Manny Ramirez didn't (he did hit 31 as a 21 YO). Pujols didn't. ARod did (36, in MLB of course). Miggy C hit 22 combined majors and minors.
   93. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4643681)
Brian Dopirak :/ Although he was at A ball all season while Javy hit his over Hi-A and AA. Dopirak fell apart once he hit Hi-A.
   94. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4643686)
Joey Gallo hit 40 home runs last year in his age 19 season. Miguel Sano hit 35 in his age 20 season.

Marcus Giles hit 37 in his age 20 season as well.
Aaron McNeal -38 21 yo
Russell Branyan -40 20yo He would hit 39 the next year as well
Mike Glendenning -33 20yo
Ron Wright -36 20yo
Andruw Jones -34 19yo
Here is a name for you-Brian Dopirak -39 20yo
Brandon Wood -43 20yo
Giancarlo Stanton 39 18yo



   95. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 21, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4643688)
Brian Dopirak :/ Although he was at A ball all season while Javy hit his over Hi-A and AA. Dopirak fell apart once he hit Hi-A.


Yeah, but he was in the Cubs system. Their prospects never pan out.
   96. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4643695)
Mike Glendenning appears to be an intersting player. He got drafted 3 times back in the mid 90's. Never had a really good batting average but he knew how to take a walk and could hit for power. Of course strikeouts were a problem for him and they made him a left fielder from the get go which is probably telling you something about his defense. Never made it to the majors and only got up to AAA once in his age 23 season where it looks like the Giants where at that point where he had to prove himself or they would cut bait on him. After that assignment didn't work out they sent him off to Arizona where it kind of looks like he just gave up at that point. It seems kind of common to me where a guy works his tail off for awhile and then once he reads the writing on the wall his performance takes a nosedive.

Read an old article about him which makes him even more interesting. Apparently he has/had dyslexia and in high school before it was diagnosed he couldn't play baseball his sophomore and junior year. It finally got diagnosed and he was able to play his senior year. He hit something like .365 with 1 homer that year and for whatever reason the the Cardinals take a flyer on him in the 60th round. He goes to a junior college instead and does alright. The Cards draft him again in something like the 64th round. Mike doesn't sign and instead plays out the season and does really well. He plans on going to Cal State Northridge but ends up getting drafted in the 10th round by the Rangers and he decides to go pro instead. He's currently an instructor at some baseball facility.
   97. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 09:02 PM (#4643755)
Looks like his K rate is about 25%. Not sure where you see 1/3.

Edit: Of course, that's still higher than you'd like to see, but nowhere near as alarming.


29% at AA, climbing as he's promoted. 33% was my guess for his MLB rate.

Then again, how many 20 YOs hit 37 HR at any level? Adam Dunn didn't. Manny Ramirez didn't (he did hit 31 as a 21 YO). Pujols didn't. ARod did (36, in MLB of course). Miggy C hit 22 combined majors and minors.

No question he has huge power. But so do lots of guys, as McCoy points out. The Mark Reynolds career path is a definite risk with that K rate.
   98. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 21, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4643776)
Mark Reynolds didn't hit AA until he was 22 and was never a top 100 prospect.
   99. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2014 at 11:04 PM (#4643817)
Mark Reynolds didn't hit AA until he was 22 and was never a top 100 prospect.

The point is not that he isn't a better prospect than Mark Reynolds; he is.

The point is that with a 30%+ K-rate and a <10% BB-rate, it's very hard to be a great MLB hitter.
   100. McCoy Posted: January 21, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4643821)
I'm not worried about a 54 game (240 PA) sample for a player moving up to AA for the first time. Like a ton of Cub prospects this will be the year in which we find out a lot of things about them.
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