Our Top 10 Most Valuable Cubs

Jim Memolo of WGN mentioned Sunday (on his Sports Central show) that giving up Chris Carpenter to Boston was like giving up the 6th most valuable Cub.  He also included names like Darwin Barney and Geovany Soto in his top 5 of most valuable Cubs to the organization.

Naturally, we didn't agree with that opinon.  We set out to make our own list of who we thought were the most valuable Cubs.

We comprised the list by creating our own top 20 lists independently and then averaging out the choices to create a final, combined top 10.  There were some similarities but a few major differences in opinion on a few players.  In fact, we each had a  player in our own top 10's that didn't make the final cut overall.

 Here's the final 10...

  1. Starlin Castro:  Who else?  Both Tom and I had him rated first.  He's 21.  He's cost-controlled for 4 more years.  He plays a premium position and, well, he's the Cubs best player.
  2.  Matt Garza:  Garza has value as either the ace of a staff that is about to get a lot younger in the next couple of years or as a trade chip that could bring in a few more building blocks.
  3. Brett Jackson: Jackson figures to patrol CF for the Cubs for the next decade and provide OBP, athleticism, and solid to good tools across the board.  He's not going to be a star, but he'll be a mainstay as the Cubs transition from a slow aging team to a younger, more athletic one.
  4. Anthony Rizzo:  This was actually a tie between Rizzo and Baez but I went with Rizzo first because he's a safer bet to make it and should provide a middle of the order bat for at least the next 6 years.
  5. Javier Baez: The argument for Baez is that he'll play a position, 3B, where he can provide more value with his glove.  Not that there's a problem with his bat.  Some think he may be the best pure hitter in the Cubs minor league system.
  6. Trey McNutt: He is both the best and most advanced Cubs SP prospect.  McNutt is a possible #2 starter down the road but first he has to fix his delivery and command.  His athleticism makes him a good bet to improve the former, which should help him with the latter.
  7. Matt Szczur: Opinion is split on the former star WR, but there's no question he can provide great value if he improves his approach at the plate.  His bat will decide if he eventually bumps Jackson to a corner or backs him up in CF. The other tools are there as he should provide speed and defense to go with average power and an average arm.
  8. Dillon Maples: The Cubs considered him a 1st round talent and he and McNutt are the Cubs two best SP prospects by a pretty wide margin right now.  Maples, however, is not nearly as advanced at this point.
  9. Carlos Marmol: Like Garza, Marmol can provide some value as trade chip later but don't rule out a comeback where he stabilizes the bullpen and buys time for flame-throwing prospects like Rafael Dolis and Tony Zych to develop in lesser roles.
  10. Travis Wood: He may not be an ace in the making, but 25 year old LH starting pitchers with 4 years of cost control are a nice commodity. If everything goes right he can be a #3 starter, but even at the 4th spot, he should provide great value over the next few years.

Bonus: Two who missed the cut.

As mentioned Tom and I each selected a player in our individual top 10s that did not make the final list.  These are the two players

  • Tom: Dan Vogelbach 
  • John: Welington Castillo

Vogel-bomb has one major tool: Potential Game-Changing Power.  He should also hit for a decent average, but if he reaches his potential, he could be a 40 HR guy that hits cleanup and mashes balls over the beer patio.  If Rizzo doesn't make it, Vogelbach is next in line.

I liked Castillo because he plays a premium position.  His defense continues to improve and his throwing arm can control an opponents running game. He also could hit 15-18 HRs as a bonus. Castillo's development could also allow the Cubs to trade Soto for prospects.

Do you agree with our list or did we miss somebody?  Or maybe your list would be completely different.

Let us know what you think.




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    I just deleted a long response because I'd like a definition on "value". For example, Rizzo has value to the major league team because he can be traded for another major league player. Even though he's in AAA, it affects the team. Why is Maples on this list though? Can he be traded for an impact player if a deal went down tomorrow?

  • In reply to mblum876:

    It's a good question. It's just a general definition of value to the organization as a whole, with the main point being that value in 2012 is least important. Trade value enters into it but can't go by that alone as trading a player is an unknown. We wanted the definition of value to be open to some interpretation. I think if we made the parameters too specific, everybody's list would be too similar and that wouldn't be as fun. As it is, Tom and I had some similarities, especially near the top of the list, but there were some wild fluctuations further down.

  • I like your list John, I also think Voglesbach is the X-factor here. He has legtimate 40 plus homer potential, and that alone makes him a factor. If he develops, he could be the best home run hitting prospect that the Cubs have developed in a long time .

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thanks. Tom was the one who had Vogelbach higher on the list, actually. He was in my top 20 but low enough where it knocked him off the overall top 10 when I averaged the two lists together. I agree, though, that he could add a power dimension the Cubs haven't seen in quite some time.

  • You will need to add Jorge Soler to that top 10 list after he signs with the Cubs. Mark my words that will happen.

    He must have been more than just a little comfortable with the Cubs heirarchy after they visited.Otherwise the rumored story of Cubs offering 27 million dollar deal would not have surfaced.

    I cant believe the Bosox have a .chance to sign him. I dont think Larry Lucchino can provide the warm fuzzy's as Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer can

  • In reply to Cliffy46405:

    Soler would at least be in the top 5, in my opinion. He has value down the road as a prospect as well as symbolic value as a guy who would cement the Cubs as big players in Latin America and the international market in general.

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    If you are going to include Maples and Baez who don't have full seasons as professionals under their belt yet, I think you have to think about Samardzija. He's a potential #2 or closer. He has proven he can pitch in the majors.
    I think it says a lot that the majority of our most valuable players are not in the majors.

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    Can't say I agree with your optimism re: Samardzija. He's a solid bullpen guy but he's still just a two-pitch pitcher. He's been around a long time already and just hasn't shown signs that he's going to develop a 3rd or 4th pitch to elevate himself into a #2 role. I think that you're right that he could be a closer, though. He's got the pitches and the attitude for it.

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    I do see your point and it's why we left the list so open to interpretation and opinion. There was some consideration for Samardzija but not near enough to put him in the top 10. He was too much of a wild card for me. Could be a starter, could be a closer...but I think the most likely outcome is he stays in middle relief.

  • Sign of the times that only 4 of these guys are on the 25 man roster. Ugly.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Considered a few guys like LaHair, Volstad, Stewart because they're all still relatively young but they were kind of in no-man's land because they don't have the impact potential of many of the prospects. The one exception for me was Wood because he has a good shot to be in the rotation for at least the next 4 years, plus he's rare enough as a 25 year old lefty starter to have some value. There were reports the Red Sox wanted him as comp.

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    It's to bad this list is strictly limited to players, because I know an owner and some front office people who would otherwise deserve to be on this list.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You're going to make the Red Sox angry with that one ;)

    That could make for another interesting list sometime.

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    yeah, I was thinking the same thing, Eddie. And at least a couple of these guys will most likely never make it to the bigs.

    But, if most of them reach their potential, we'll be in really good shape in a couple of years!

  • In reply to brober34:

    Very true. And I wanted to be careful with those lower minor league guys because they are longer shots to make it. Baez and Maples were the only two exceptions because they have the best chance to be impact players down the line. You can also add Vogelbach to that list.

    The bright side is that 7-8 players could be in the bigs by the end of the year.

  • Just curious John & Tom, where was Candelario in your top 20s?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I don't think he made either of our top 20s because he's so, so far away. He may not play full season low A ball until 2013. Not a slight to Jeimer's ability, though. The kid can hit.

  • I guess I would put a lot more into value to the 2012 season because that is where players will have the least question marks. I think Samardzija, Maholm, Lahair and Dejesus all have a shot at it simply because i view value as what they can do this year more than anything else. Also, with the small contracts Maholm and Dejesus have, they could be big trading chips next offseason or during the season if they outperform themselves. I would also consider stewart, but since thats a pretty big question mark I would leave him off this. In short i would replace your 5-8 guys with Samardzija, Maholm, Lahair and Dejesus. Not in those places necesarily but I think major leaguers are more valuable than prospects albeit very good prospects. I leave Rizzo and Jackson because they are MLB ready so their question marks are not very big.

  • Great article guys. John/Tom would you be oppossed to putting your top 20 lists out there for us to see? I like the idea of this article and it's very interesting to say the least.

    I've got to say I'm with Tom on Vogelbach. The Cubs have failed to produce power from the minors for years. I'm not counting Colvin's blip on the power map as it wasn't sustained, and now he's huffing thin air in Colorado.

    We can't forget chicks dig the long ball. This might make for an ugly year on the fan cam. The camera crew is going to have to be on their A game this year.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    And Cubs will have to find chicks that love OBP and defense ;)

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    Thanks Bilbo! As far as the lists, I can tell you that Bryan LaHair, Geo Soto, and Rafael Dolis were near misses. So was Ryan Dempster, though much of his value is tied to 2012 at the moment.

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    Thanks, and I'm sure we can put out our 20 soon.

  • If you do this list next year, you should compare it to this year's list. With all the longshot/high reward types Jepstein are investing in, I bet this list will look totally different.

    My top 10 would have LaHair. I don't know what his years of control are or anything, but I like the look of that guy. My gut says he'll be a solid MLB player. Plus he's valuable in that he gives Rizzo time to mature in AAA. Add to all that the fact that if they both work out, you get to trade one of them for prospects and/or cusp players and yeah... LaHair.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I see your points on LaHair but if the Cubs were exposing players to an expansion draft I highly doubt he would be one of the 10 they protect.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Probably not, but this is my list. He seems undervalued to me. There's the age thing, but if you look at his stats, he could have been called up 2 or 3 years before his monster year last year. It's all a crapshoot until you see if he can readjust after pitcher's adjust, but if he gets 500AB's, I see him breaking out this year. We'll see.

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    Felzzwell predicts that Ian Stewart will work his way onto this list next year by having a slash line of .275/.350/.475 in over 600 PA and 500 AB. It is written.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    If he reaches those numbers while playing good defense, I'm buying an Ian Stewart jersey.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm really thinking he is going to be one of my favs this year

  • Good stuff and interesting variety of opinions! I'd really be interested to know whether or not a potential Cubs Den field trip to Peoria or Des Moines might be in the cards for this summer. I live in NE Kansas which is under a day's drive to both places. Might be fun!

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    I went to school in Peoria and I have friends in Des Moines. I'd be up for either. Both teams figure to have a lot of prospects this year.

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