Cubs Kris Bryant was smartest bet in a crapshoot.

Cubs Kris Bryant was smartest bet in a crapshoot.

Took a bit of a break as we fully focused on what Theo Epstein said were the most important days for the Cubs of the year.

So let me weigh in on the Cubs first pick a bit. The Cubs by selecting Kris Bryant, placed the surest bet in what is ultimately a huge crapshoot known as the MLB draft.

Regarding the draft, there was so much great work and analysis done here by John. We all have put more and more emphasis on the draft since this regime took over. It’s all about building around here, and the draft is one huge part of the equation. I found myself immersed enough to almost forget about the big club for a bit (not a terrible thing sometimes).

It really is not for everyone to have even a semblance of knowledge regarding any of these players past the first round. That is OK. That is what some of you come here to learn about. However, the MLB draft is quite possibly the biggest craphsoots of them all.

Joe Sheehan reminded me just how much that is true, and to be patient with some of the players drafted.

"We focus on the rockets like Stephen Strasburg and Michael Wacha, but on balance It takes a while for drafted players to reach the majors. Two years ago, the draft was still 50 rounds long, so you had more than 1500 players picked. Of the ones who signed, just 11 have reached the majors, and they've combined for 1.8 Wins Above Replacement. Two years out, that draft has had essentially no impact on the league.

That being said, I like letting the Cubs future ride with Theo and Jed Hoyer rolling the dice. Some polished college hitters taken at the top of the draft can come pretty quickly. Bryant’s plate approach gives me hope he can fit that bill.

My original thought was the Cubs simply couldn’t pass on either Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray. Gray was a tantalizing prospect. He would have been a huge boost to the system that doesn’t really have an apparent ace in the making.

This pick was ultimately was too important for this organization to miss on. Hopefully they won't be picking this high ever again. Under much pressure they made the safer pick, the right pick.

From what we heard, Bryant was in the Cubs picture all along. However, I believe he made his move past Gray somewhat recently. Did the Adderall thing play in? Possibly, but I think in the end it was just a philosophy winning out (hitters are the surer move up top like Theo preached).

Gray could be an ace one day soon, and he could also be a Tommy John surgery waiting to happen.

Even if Gray pans out, if Byant and Jorge Soler are wreaking havoc in the middle of the line up in a couple of years we won't regret much. Bryant just adds to a system that seems to have built up enough equity in young hitters, that it can withstand some inevitable failure, and still boast a dynamic young line up.

One last nugget, the other day I saw a tweet that predicted a future Cubs outfield of Bryant, Soler, and Almora.

Everyone is trying to change Bryant's position already. See, he was meant to be a Cub.

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  • I think one piece I would love to see come up the pipeline is a true leadoff guy with speed and high OBP to get on ahead of Soler, Bryant, Baez, and Almora.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Coming into this year, this might have sounded crazy, but how about Arismendy Alcantara to fit that bill?

    He's now at a .364 OBP and 15 of 16 in steals in AA.

    And I think you're going to see him land on quite a few top 100 lists this offseason if he keeps playing the way he is.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    He seems to be pushing his way into the picture, I wonder if he is ultimately a lead off guy for this FO?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    If only Zeke Devoss could get that avg. higher. He seems to be a natural leadoff

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    In addition to Alcantara to lead off, we have Szczur, Watkins, and Hanneman as real possibilities.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    If Alcantara could hit righty better Id agree. Right now, hes a switch-hitter who hits much better LH, ala Jerry Mumphrey.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Oh I liked him as a Yankee.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Arismendy Alcantara seems to trending to be the perfect lead off batter but the question is what to do with Barney ?

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    Those are nice problems to have. I think they love Barney's defense but ultimately they will keep the dynamic talent. Either could be a valuable trade chip.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I'm starting to think Darwin Barney is what he is, a great defensive 2B that is absolutely horrific with the bat. I really don't see another team willing to give up much for him.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    True and maybe he would have to be packaged.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    The Cubs may have drafted him when they named Jacob Hanneman on the 3rd round.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Holy Cattle, they may have drafted that leadoff guy in the third round when they picked Jacob Hanneman.

  • Yeah maybe they can add that piece outside the organization if need be. Watkins maybe the kind of guy that just gets on base or maybe Ellsburry makes sense there if he doest cost too much.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Watkins and Lake could be a dynamic and cheap super utility crew. Would be great to see both of them make it. The two of them can literally cover the entire infield and outfield, with overlap at a number of different positions. That would offer immense roster flexibility.

  • Cubs have to have the best pitching prospects in the majors, right?

    Soler, Almora, Baez and Bryant basically a lock for top 50 status. Alcantara with a good shot at top 100. Candelario probably a candidate as well, with guys like Villanueva and Vogelbach not far from that top 100.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    D'Oh! Best position prospects in the majors.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    It's becoming deep enough like I said that even if half of those guys make it, we got something crazy good. Could be talking NYY/BOS type lineups of the past decade.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I think the NL needs the DH. Imagine Bryant, Soler Baez Vogelbomb # 3-7. Remember the 95 Indians lineup, with Belle, Murray, Ramirez, Thome 3-7? This potential lineup could be that good, and I havent even mentioned where Castro/Rizzo would hit.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Yeah we are going to need that DH. Though we may have to let T Wood hit.

  • P. Johnson and A. Vizcaino may be on that list as well.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Vizcaino will NOT be anywhere close to the list as all so called experts will want to see him pitch at least a little before claiming him back. Pierce will need to dominate upon his upcoming promotion to be even be considered.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    You're probably right about Vizcaino. The Cubs will have a top 100 prospect talent, but won't be on the list. I think Pierce has a good shot, but I agree that he'll have to do well in Daytona.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    At some point he has to pitch to be considered a viable prospect. He may go 24 months without a live professional inning. That's a massive layoff, especially for a guy already considered to be Mr. Glass.

  • The pitching equation rides heavily on what happens with Garza of course.

  • Classy move by the D-backs..34th round pick Corey Hahn was paralyzed from the chest down in 2011 stealing a base. This is a gesture that will be remembered by that young man for the rest of his life. Arizona just gained a fan named Carolinacub.

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    From the little that I read sounds like they want to give him a job in the organization somewhere. They wanted to emphasize it wasn't just a good will gesture. I think he has been coaching a little.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    I hadn't heard that part. If that part is true then I think this was an even nicer gesture to make. You don't need to draft this kid if you plan on bringing him into the organization anyway.

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    They not only gained you as a fan but myself as well. Thanks for letting us know about this.

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    Great analysis Tom, but I don't think the majority of Cub fans feel as we do. I would go as far to say, based on what I'm reading, that the majority of Cubs fans are not happy with this pick. Maybe it's just that they so used to hearing about draft picks and prospects that never turn out, but I genuinely fear that, if Bryant doesn't become a superstar, Cubs' nation, as a whole, will consider him a bust, especially if Gray goes on to become a superstar.

    Bryant really was the only choice for this front office. When they took everything into consideration, he was the best player available for them. They, more than any of us on the outside, realize just what a trip to the casino the MLB Draft is. So they went to the Black Jack table, counted the cards and made the safest bet they could.

    Bryant may not turn out, but the odds are better that he will versus Gray, and that's all that mattered to them. They spent the majority of their allotment on the bet most likely to pay off, the college hitter, and the spread their money out on the bets most likely to go bust, the pitchers.

    This is a very thorough front office, and they bring players into their system based in as much empirical evidence as they can gather, both as players and people, and they're not handicapped by an ownership that just wants to save money. They're not picking someone just because he happened to go to the same high school as they did or just because they know he'll sign for less than half the assigned value for that slot. They're using reason and logic to make their decisions.

    They're not taking Harvey when the BPA was Markakis.

    They're not taking Pawelek when the BPA was Ellsbury.

    They're not taking Colvin when the BPA was Snider.

    They're not taking Vitters when the BPA was Wieters.

    They're not taking Simpson when the BPA is Cowart.

    I'll even go as far to say that they wouldn't have taken Baez over Springer 2011.

    Of course, there wasn't a decent system in place to develop the players they did draft. So there is no reason to think past regimes would've fared any better had they picked those kids over the ones they did.

    Anyways, I could go further back, but what would be the point? Most Cubs fans either have forgotten what it was like to have a competent front office making player personnel and development decisions, Dallas Green, or they're to young to remember.

    I really do hope Bryant makes it, and he makes it big. Because if he doesn't and Gray does, this FO's days may be numbered, and that will be a shame. They're the best things to happen to Cubs fans in a long time.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yes it wasn't the popular pick amongst the mainstream but this pick was just so important and Gray was tempting but risky.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You summed it up nicely.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    "So they went to the Black Jack table, counted the cards and made the safest bet they could."
    That is a very nice way of putting it.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Anyone want to go to Rivers Casino?

  • Wow.

    KB really looks skinny in that picture.

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    I love the incite about Bryant and I was in his camp big time so I feel like it was a good choice but lets not put too many eggs in his basket just yet. Remember that Team Theo's ultimate goal is depth. Just because Bryant right now is look at as our 3rd baseman of the future does not mean he will be in Chicago in 2015. It just means we have another chip (HUGE chip who I think will be the top player in our minors next year but still just a chip).

    What I am meaning is before you start making out our 2015 line up cards and such you might want to wait until you see what these guys are going to do the rest of this year and the off season to open the competitive window for 2014.

    The way they approached the draft this year with so many college arms and guys that can fast track tells you that they are going to try and get competitive in a hurry now. With so many holes we see at the major leagues you have to question how. I think the trade deadline deals will start showing what their plan is in the next 6 months to make this team in the thick of the playoff hunt.

    I right now do not see how they think they can get really competitive till some of the guys in KC and Daytona get closer to the majors but I could be very wrong. The only way to make a competitive right now is trade high end minor league depth for guys that help right now. So I think that this trading deadline we could be very aggressive in acquiring talent that is ready for the show NOW. That might mean going big on Headley or expect close to the majors guys I do not know. I think it means we are going to be buyers and sellers at the deadline this year and go big on our "Jason Werth" this off season.

    I just think right now to even think about the 2015 lineup with this guy or that guy at the core is a little premature. Because by the time 2014 our daily line up is going to look totally different.

  • Good points all around. There are a lot of guys in lower levels and this group could catch up to them. Then we can see a wave of talent for sure.

  • I heard Sheehan talking about this draft and how risky the first round can be. Tough business, glad we went with high percentage pick. Theo alluded to it but I thought maybe there would be an exception with the two big arms up there.

  • A lot of prospect talk. Check back in about 15 minutes or so and my new prospect list will be up. New #1 prospect and some new names added in general. A lot of changes.

  • I have no problem with Kris Bryant as the Cubs #1 pick.

    This front office has the flexibility, in regards to the free agent classes last year and the next couple of years, to build up the farm system and take flyers on guys like Feldman. I wish that point was made more clear in the local media--it would be better to endure tough seasons in order to build the system up rather than hope for some free agent savior. Truth is the FA savior is not there in the next couple of years.

    Next years class of FA starting pitchers will or could include pending options: Garza, Feldman, AJ Burnett, Tim Hudson, Phil Hughes, Josh Johnson, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, Maholm, Marcum, Pelfrey, Ervin Santana, James Shields, and Volquez. MLBTRADERUMORS lists Suk-Min Yoon as well. Yoon and Hughes would be the only under-30 guy on that list. There is no one there any hardcore or casual fan would want to see on the Cubs for a huge contract.

    In 2015, there are potentially: Cueto, Brett Anderson, Billingsley,
    Gallardo, Clayton Kershaw, Masteron, Scherzer, and Carlos Villanueva. David Price is in the 2016 class.

    The front office has reaped the benefits on scouting for guys like Feldman and Travis Wood. Shark and Garza become crucial to the process. Shark, Garza and Wood would allow a stable rotation with Jackson expected to surely be better than he has shown. Then you have to look to filling a 5th slot. You can sign an aging veteran or give it to a rookie--or sign the next FA ace.

    I guess I just am enjoying the ride right now and am in no rush. It is nice to see the FO plan the work and work the plan. They have great scouts and seem to have people in place to develop the talent. I am glad they seem thorough on the behind the scenes things rather than signing some FA just for the headline. The FO seems capable of piecing together a starting staff with no true ace. Another bat or two and a couple more capable BP arms and this year would be very different.

  • fb_avatar

    The one thing about SP's that always gets me is how few games they will be in. 32 at best for the most part, so almost 130 games they do not have any factor in the outcome. Looking at it that way, a hitter is obviously going to have more impact, and as Sveum said, the last 10-15 years, the top college hitter has gone on to have a good MLB career. Hopefully even Bryant's floor is a more athletic Adam Dunn, regardless of what position he ends up at.

  • Tom where does Bryant end up once he signs?

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    Ive heard John speculate Kane County, maybe Candy gets promoted.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    That would be incredible. What is the time table on signing, I can't remember how long it took for Almora. I know Bryant is a Boras guy so who knows right?

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    Haven't checked into that but If I can I will. I would guess Boras would make it later than sooner.

  • "I found myself immersed enough to almost forget about the big club for a bit (not a terrible thing sometimes)."

    Took the words right out of my mouth, Tom. Especially on Friday and Saturday, the big league club were almost an afterthought. With the names Almora, Soler, Baez, and Bryant off in the not-to-distant future, I'm really kind of just wishing it were 2015 already.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    That is what they are counting on (he he).

  • I was staunchly in the Gray-as-our-backup-to-Appel camp heading into the draft, but the more the Bryant pick has percolated and been defended by the crew and some of the readers on this site, the more I am buying in. The kicker for me was when I thought about how pitching-dominated the game has become and that finding a legitimate 30-40 HR guy with good patience coming out of college is an increasingly rare commodity. Couple that fact with the higher attrition of SP prospects and the Bryant pick becomes the clear choice. I suppose that's why McTheoJed do this for a living...

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Yeah I don't think the choice was easy. Glad I trust them, esp J Mac.

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    In reply to Denim Dan:

    The thing about Bryant I can't get over, he had 31 home runs in 62 games at the college level. That's just unheard of. That pace in a major league 162 game schedule leads to 81 home runs. Now, clearly, he is going to face better competition and that number will drop. But he's also going to get better and stronger as he gets older.

    I wanted Appel, but Bryant could be the centerpiece around which we build our lineup for 10-15 years.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I totally believe in Soler, Almora, and this kid.

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    Here is a pretty thorough assessment of Bryant - I agree, if he works at it he could be the one true dominant player to come out of this draft. I had no problems losing Appel, though I do love Gray. But Bryant could be special.

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