With the Cubs off today, seems like a good time to catch up on some links. I have to say that some of them have me in a bit of a feisty mood...but I have nothing against these guys. I like what they do, but I don't always have to agree with them. That would be boring, wouldn't it? The odd thing is that one of the guys I'm agreeing with here is Steve Rosenbloom. (Cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria!)
- There have been a couple of articles recently on Starlin Castro worth noting. The first is by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. The title is Jose Altuve is Starlin Castro 2.0. Now, I respect Cameron and his tremendous work, but I'm not a comps guy -- especially when they're based on a statistical snapshot. They're fun and it can stir debate, but for me it's hard to take them all that seriously. Castro and Altuve are different players with different body types, long term projection and ceilings, not to mention they play different positions. The problem with this kind of analysis is that you can take so many pairs of players and make this sort of comparison if you take the snapshot at the right time. Cameron tried doing this just last year by declaring that Aaron Harang "was" Matt Garza.
- The second article is by Buster Olney of ESPN, who talks about players the Cubs may have to trade, such as Matt Garza, Bryan LaHair....and Starlin Castro. Now don't get me wrong, nobody is untouchable but it really is hard to get value for a 22 year old budding star at a premium position, especially when he is making something near the MLB minimum. Those are the kind of guys you want to bring in, not trade away. Moreover, Olney uses concerns about Castro's defense and OBP as his reasons. On defense, he cites his error total. Aside from that being just part of the defensive picture, Olney says nothing about 7 of the 8 errors coming very early in the season. Nor does he say that Castro rates as a well-above average defensive SS so far this season when range and other factors are taken into account. As for the OBP, I think it'll come around. Castro will always hit for a high average, so he needs only an average walk rate to have a good OBP. Things like OBP and walk rates miss the bigger picture. The Cubs need talent, and they don't have a more talented player in their organization than Starlin Castro.
- In an odd turn of events, I'm on the same page with Steve Rosenbloom, at least when it comes to bringing up Anthony Rizzo.
- Speaking of Anthony Rizzo, ESPN's Keith Law is liking the adjustments he's made this season (including hitting LHP) and has moved him into his top 25 prospects (Insider only).
- Kevin Goldstein has his updates on top prospects (Insider only). Among others, he lists Matt Szczur -- but despite Szczur's improvement in key areas, Goldstein remains somewhat pessimistic. In the comments, Goldstein responds to a reader and seems to soften his earlier stance a bit, acknowledging Szczur has picked it up, but he does say that he still doesn't think he will be a star. That is probably true, but I think most Cubs fans would settle for a solid CF'er who plays plus defense, has some extra base power, gets on base at a solid to good rate, then wreaks havoc once he's on -- which is a realistic expectation for Szczur.
- Goldstein also has an article on trying to find loopholes in the new CBA. Interesting point in that some feel that if anyone can find a loophole, it's agent Scott Boras, who obviously stands to gain from such a discovery. Goldstein's sources don't believe teams will be willing to give up picks, partly because there is no player worth that and partly because nobody wants to be the first to do it and create that kind of market for future players.
- Here is an interesting article on the draft comparing the success rates of college players/high school players/pitching/positional players. The skinny is that college position position players fare best both in terms of making it to the majors and making an impact once they get there. Interestingly, although college pitchers have the higher success rate as far as making the majors, high school pitchers are far more likely to make an impact once they do.
- MLB's Jonathan Mayo has his top 20 mock draft up. Like many mock drafts, he has the Cubs taking CF Alberto Almora. It's become something of a consensus at this point, which makes me wonder if it's going to happen. I think this draft is going to hinge on what teams think of two players: Lucas Giolito and Carlos Correa. In the case of Giolito, if he's healthy, he should go top 5. In the case of Correa, he has a lot helium right now, Law ranked him as the second best player in the draft behind Byron Buxton. If both of those players go top 5, which is not unrealistic, that will likely leave 3 of the following 5 players available: Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, Mike Zunino, and of course, Alberto Almora. That could leave the Cubs with an interesting decision: college arm, college bat, or high school bat.
- As for our own poll, it wound up a tie with Lucas Giolito and Carlos Correa each receiving 33% of the vote. At some point, I'll put up a new poll. Because the draft is so volatile and almost anyone can fall, with the likely exception of HS OF Byron Buxton, I'll put up a poll asking who you would pick if you could have anyone in the draft.
- While we're on the subject polls, I added a poll question to Tom's article.
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