Why Tools and Mental Makeup Still Matter: Thoughts on Junior Lake and other Cubs prospects

Why Tools and Mental Makeup Still Matter: Thoughts on Junior Lake and other Cubs prospects
Junior Lake

The sabermetric revolution rolls along and it's a great thing for baseball.  It has given us a much deeper understanding of the game and the kind of statistics/trends that lend greater chance for future success.  Advanced metrics have become an indispensable part of the evaluation process.

As you all know, I'm a huge proponent of these metrics and use them quite often in my evaluation -- but the deeper I have become involved in the game and the more I talk to experienced evaluators, the more I realize that the game outside the numbers still matters -- the tools, the mental makeup  -- all of it is still a big part of the evaluation process, especially early on.

We tend to look at the word toolsy and think, "Okay, here's another raw, hacktastic athlete with no baseball skills but can hit the ball 500 feet in batting practice, throw lasers, and run like a track star -- but who is going to get schooled in A ball."

And this may well be true, but one thing that really left an impression with me was a response in a previous article I did on Derek Johnson, the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator.  It was an innocuous question toward the end of our conversation.  I asked what advice he has for my nephew, who wants to be a pitcher.  His answer was a lot simpler than I expected.

"Just Throw."

Johnson then went on to talk about how you don't want to have him worry about skills early on.  They can always teach him how to throw breaking balls, proper mechanics, throwing strikes consistently etc.  For now it was important for him to develop his athleticism and find what works best for him.

And that's the thing -- you can teach skills, even later in the process, and while athleticism is largely innate, it also has to be developed from an early age.

We've seen the Cubs target these kind of pitchers in the draft the past two years -- Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, Duane Underwood, Rob Zastryzny, Tyler Skulina and others are very good athletes with good arm strength.  The tools are there for the Cubs staff to mold and develop.

The same thing goes for hitters and I got a related response from a veteran non-Cubs scout I spoke with recently at a Kane County game.

I asked him what the first thing he looks for in a hitter and the response was swift,

"Can he hit a fastball?"

I could have smacked myself in the head when he said that.  All the skills in the world aren't going to help if you can't catch up to an average MLB fastball.   We all know this intrinsically and this scout actually told me something similar last year.  In fact, it came up last year when we went to see a game in Peoria and a certain statistically successful player smoked a HR over the LF fence.

"Hanging slider", said the scout.  Watch and see if he can turn on a good fastball.  He didn't. At least not on that day.  So it then becomes a legitimate question as to whether such a player can sustain success at the upper levels.

The same scout told me that the ability to hit a good fastball is the main reason he likes Kane County hitters Gioskar Amaya and Willson Contreras despite their struggles so far this season.  Amaya, however, seems to be coming around now and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him finish strong.

Again, bat speed is a result of a player's natural ability.  You can take a struggling player in A ball and work with him and try to teach him Javier Baez bat speed.  But it's not going to happen. You can improve it to some degree, but elite bat speed is a different story.  On the other hand, you can teach a guy with good bat speed mto be a more disciplined hitter, perhaps not to the degree where he's a .400 OBP guy, but enough to draw some walks and, more importantly, work counts and get themselves in better hitting situations. We've seen the toolsy Arismendy Alcantara make that improvement.  We've seen Jorge Soler show patience even after a long layoff after he defected from Cuba.  And now we've seen Javier Baez become a more disciplined hitter, though he's just scratching the surface there.

Last night, many of us saw an example of perhaps the player that seems to best define the negative connotation of the word "toolsy", Junior Lake.  Lake may not have the greatest approach and he's been criticized by some well-known prospect analysts -- and perhaps they are right, but I can tell you without hesitation that those evaluations are not the consensus on Lake.  There are some well-respected evaluators who like what he brings to the table.  You need high upside guys like Lake in your system because you can always find guys who have great baseball skills but limited upside and athleticism.  The toolsy guys don't always work out, but when they do learn just enough baseball skill to take advantage of their great athleticism, you could really have something special.

So, how do you know a player can learn those skills?

Well, you don't.  And that's part of the harsh realities of scouting.  But what you can do is do your homework on not just the player, but the person. No matter who you ask in the Cubs organization, they'll always talk about a player's mental makeup.  We've heard Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer talk about it through the media, but it permeates the thought process at every level of the organization.  Perhaps nobody put it better than Cubs area scout Alex Lontayo when he agreed to give us his thoughts on Kris Bryant.

Kris is a special player and person. Very athletic, plus arm, can run for a player his size and as almost everyone knows, has incredible leverage and power in his bat. Has a solid work ethic and a quiet confidence that makes you believe he will be an impact player at the next level. He comes from a great family, which is extremely supportive, and has guided him to become the person he is. Such a high character person that you immediately become a fan after talking to him. The more I watched him and spent time with him, the more convicted I became. All the background work I did turned up the same results, people that have had the chance to really know him, absolutely believed and liked him. Positive feedback across the board both on and off the field, including the classroom, dating back to high school. I’m excited and look forward to watching his continued development and career in our organization.

So yeah, Kris Bryant has tools, but he has the mental makeup needed to give him a better than average chance of making those tools work for him on the baseball field.  The same can be said of the other prospects we've talked about in this piece.

The Cubs have made prospect watching fun again and that means following their success through box scores and great sites like Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.  They are great tools but, by themselves, they are not a substitute for evaluating how a player plays the game and determining whether he has what it takes to take it to the next level.  Tools and mental makeup still matter when you are looking for impact players at the highest level of the game.

 

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  • Given the derision that his game has received from the aforementioned prospect gurus (Law, KG, Parks, etc)-whose work I really appreciate- its impossible not to root for Lake. Another thing I noticed watching Lake last night is that you can tell he just loves to play baseball. That was one thing about Sosa, despite his grandstanding, etc, he really loved to play baseball. It is something that makes watching a young, struggling team a lot
    more enjoyable. I don't think you have to worry about a guy like Lake giving it his all out there.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    All Cubs fans are rooting for Lake. But I really want the lineup of the Cubs' future to be filled with guys who drive pitchers crazy by laying off pitches just off the plate, even if they get called out on strikes two or three times a week.

    If Lake can learn to do that, he'll become one of my favorites.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Greg, I get it. If things break right for him , he's probably a 300-400 AB super sub. The reason that guys are bench players is because they usually have at least one significant flaw. Lake's significant flaw is plate discipline. My point was that's it's nice to see a dynamic, athletic product of our farm on the big-league filed. Joey Votto he isn't. That being said, there is a place for him on a future contending Cub team, if he continues to improve on his weaknesses.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    You do want to root for him but I think even those guys would admit that scouting is such an inexact science that even the gurus can miss badly at times. It's the nature of the business.

    And Lake really did play the game with energy and enthusiasm. I think he really gave the team a boost last night.

  • Nice work John.

    We always grade the 5 tools (hits for Power, hits for Average, Speed on the bases, Defense/Glove, and arm strength). But their mental tools are usually what determines whether or not they'll make the most of their physical tools. This FO is also really emphasizing what should probably be a 6th tool, and that is their "approach".

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed. And i'd like to add for some of the literal-nazis out there that a good approach doesn't automatically correlate to taking a bunch of walks. Walks can be a byproduct of a good approach but isn't what determines it.

    A good approach imo is having good pitch recognition and knowing your strengths and weaknesses at the plate so you know what the pitcher is going to try to do to you. Having a good feel for the strikeout. Taking pitches for no reason and trying to walk is not good approach imo.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think most people who know the game understand that. It's more about not swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. If it were just about taking pitches, I could do it.

    However, I think there are some PLAYERS who think that there are only two choices - being aggressive or taking pitches (I won't mention any names). They don't get the nuances of getting yourself into a hitter's count and then waiting for your pitch.

    And I do think it's about being willing to be called out on strikes once in a while. It's kind of like sending the runner from third with two out in a 50/50 situation as to whether he is going to be thrown out. You always send the runner, unless that run doesn't mean anything (if say, you are behind 4-1 in the late innings). Even if your stud is on deck, your odds are better at 50/50 sending the runner (again, if there are two outs and that individual run in crucial).

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Oh I certainly agree. But believe it or not there are lots of people out there(including scouts) who believe if a player doesn't walk much then by extension they MUST have a bad approach at the plate. I just don't agree with that sentiment.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yes, that's ridiculous. In fact, just being passive at the plate is probably the worst approach, I would think.

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Marcel, hope it was clear there that I was agreeing with you and not saying what you said was ridiculous!

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Haha, you're find Gregory I understood you :)

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks and absolutely. Approach is that "6th" tool and mental makeup is what gives you that hope that those tools translate to baseball skills.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Excellent point. I really think that should be a tool. Never thought of that.

    And they should probably rework the tools evaluation anyway. You can survive by having a lot of one tool (say, the hit for average tool) and not much of another (throwing arm) but not necessarily the other way around.

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    Great, great article John. We all like to play scout here but at the end of the day most of us have not even scratched the surface of talent evaluation. There soooo much that goes into it and there's no one proper way do it right. You have to pool a hundred differing forms of analysis into one objective conclusion.

    I love the way you've been able to adopt the "new school" way of analysis and scouting while also being able to completely dismiss the "old school" way of things. I'm trying to learn as much as I can and have found this site as a very valuable resource in that journey.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thanks Marcel. I think even the most veteran scout would tell you he's still learning. It's an ongoing process and it's one of the things you love about baseball. You can always learn more.

  • The evolution is constant, is it not?

    As soon as last year.......I was more of a proponent of Oakland A's style of baseball. Work the counts deep.

    But, after reading this site, and so many others, I slowly became more of a proponent of "zone hitting" and also I'm slowly becoming a fan of not giving pitchers "free strikes" so to speak.

    In all the complication, it really just seems so simple. Save your best swings for balls in the middle of the plate. If you are a pitcher, you need to attack the zone with the pitch you control the best, the fastball generally being the best in my view, and make sure to change speeds and keep hitters off balance if you see they are squaring up your stuff.

    All so simple. Right? :)

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    It does sound simple! Good stuff.

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    In reply to givejonadollar:

    You only give the pitcher free strikes if you don't know the strike zone. I don't recall any "new school" guys ever saying a player should go to the plate and take pitches just to be taking pitches. I've never heard that approach suggested by reputable baseball minds.

    Again, I think some players and maybe even managers don't get the nuances. So they end up telling their players to "be aggressive" instead of "be aggressive in the zone."

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    ask Brett Jackson about taking pitches for taking pitches sake. It helped get him a very high K rate.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    "Save your best swings for balls in the middle of the plate". Now that's a great, simple philosophy that I imagine players are taught but forget while they concentrate on hitting. It's been a long time since I've played but I'd think a great rule of thumb would be if you have to take an unnatural swing (i.e., anything deviating from your best practice swing) then let the ball go by. When I saw Castro reaching a foot outside the plate and lift a lazy fly ball to RF last night I thought it was both a great display of making contact and a lousy job of plate discipline. He lets that ball go by he's still able to take a walk or get a better pitch to hit. But it looks much easier from my sofa than it is on the field.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Sometimes I do see Castro getting to passive with a ball right down the middle, then the rest of the at bat he's down in the count with borderline strikes, then bam a slider a foot off the plate and a weak grounder or strikeout.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    Right, that's the pitch I wish he could lay off. It wouldn't be so bad if he was fouling it off, and I know he has gotten hits off it, but that's an example of a pitch - or a location - he needs to recognize.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Sounds like you talking about the Cardinals approach. They are ranked for about 17th in the league in walk %, but they grind at bats and will make pitchers pay when they get in hitters counts. Craig and Molina are not walk guys, but they have the ability to punish mistakes and get pitchers to make mistakes.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    You know who was awesome at fouling off pitchers pitches until he got his pitch... Bill Madlock. Dude was one of my favorite Cubs of all-time, doesn't get much mention anymore. Career .305/.365/.442 hitter with 8.2% BB & 6.9% K rate. Wish we had a line-up filled with guys like that.

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    I think as sabermetrics advances, there is more competition among the toolsy guys to also bring those other things to the table. There is better scouting now and pitchers do a better job of exploiting guys who don't know the strike zone. So obviously you're going to take the toolsy guy who also incorporates those other elements.

    I read an article about Ted Williams years before sabermetrics in which he pointed out how difficult it is to sustain a batting average (and obviously OBP) if you don't take your walks. It was an oversimplification, but he said that it's unrealistic to think that you can get two or more hits every day. But if you only get one, your batting average will still go up if you draw a walk or two. He said 1-for-2 or 1-for-3 looks a lot better than 1-for-4 or 1-for-5. And of course, if you don't chase you're going to get better pitches to hit.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    There's a bit of a pendulum when it comes to the two disciplines and I think at some point it swung too far over to the numbers side. A balance is required for the best evaluation possible, in my opinion.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    We can definitely agree that you have to have the raw baseball tools, at least to some degree, to succeed. And there definitely is a balance. The argument might be where that balance is, just like with anything.

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    John, I do a little writing and I am amazed at the output and depth you can deliver, in such a short amount of time. Thank you for all you do, and I hope you are the vanguard of a wave of intelligent, analytical Cub fans.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    Thanks Ray. I appreciate that. I've seen Cubs fans get made fun of for just being homers or drunks who don't know the game. I have found that to not be the case at all, as you and the readers demonstrate here on a daily basis.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    Great reply Ray. I totally agree. John writes great knowledgeable articles and writes them in an easy method to read and understand. Unlike say...Bernstein.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Thanks Buzz.

  • Great change of pace article, John! It was nice to read about something else besides the trade of which we must not speak.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Thanks. I miss baseball! Rumors are fun and a nice diversion, but I miss the game itself.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Wait, is there a possible Cubs trade in the works?

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    :D

    I hope that was sarcasm,....

  • John, I've been reading for a while and I'm obviously very big on stats.

    That said, I thought this was one of the better pieces you've done. Great post.

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    Or, as Hawk has said, The Will To Win?

  • In reply to Dave Boer:

    TWTW isn't what I'm talking about here. Not even close.

    I'm talking about the personality traits in a player that make him likely to take the best advantage of his tools and turn them into baseball skills. We're talking about guys with work ethic, mental aptitude, coachability, etc. We're talking about how it affects play on the baseball field not some magical drive that turns bad ballplayers into good ones.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Wouldn't TWTW be part of that personality trait? Not sure we're not thinking about the same thing.

  • In reply to Dave Boer:

    I think that's more of an intangible, competitive factor in a player's personality but I'm not sure it adds to their skill set like the other things I mentioned.

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    In reply to Dave Boer:

    Somebody call Brian Kenney.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    one of the funniest things i've seen is H Reynolds trying to explain to B Kenney that a high OBP is not required for a #2 batter. Kenney just didn't get concept of taking pitches and giving yourself up to move runner over.

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    In reply to kansascub:

    Sabermetrics says you don't give up free outs and Kenney is a by the book proponent of sabermetrics. I love watching those two.

  • A quote from many years ago "Million dollar talent, ten cent brain"
    Lets hope the Cubs find and develop the "6th sense" in a prospect

  • Very nice piece, well done!

  • In reply to JB55:

    Agreed, very nice work as usual John. Those writing skills will hopefully come in handy for you when you are scouting and preparing reports for the Cubs one day. Just promise us you will continue to pass along some of that analysis to those of us here who knew you before you made in big:)

  • In reply to JB55:

    Thanks JB!

  • I hope that Lake is part of the Cubs "The future is now" plan

  • Great article. Very interesting read.

    You really get the sense that Theo and co. value makeup as much as anything else. They probably have certain character traits that they look for to help determine if the player is more or less likely to make it, and be a real impact player.

    Even though I'm just an average joe fan, whenever I hear about a player my team just drafted (in any sport) I always like to look up interviews on youtube first, just to try and get a sense of them as a person. In some cases I think it's more useful than watching highlights.

    As an example, even though I knew nothing about Rob Zastryzny when the Cubs drafted him, someone linked to a video of him being interviewed while with Vanderbilt (could've seen the vid here, actually), and right away I was very encouraged by the pick. He just seemed like a smart, confident, competitive guy. I'm sure that played a big role in the Cubs taking him in the second round.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    Thanks Juicebox. Those words are everywhere in that organization. It does mean a lot to them and I think if you can become proficient at evaluating mental makeup then you have yourself an advantage.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    Good points, jerry. However, Rob Zastryzny went to Mizzou (like Scherzer, Kinsler, Aaron Crow et al.)
    I like everything I read about his approach, and in the early going he looks like another promising and intelligent pitcher in the Cubs' system.

  • Yes, makeup is very important. Fans and the media can pick up
    when a player is about themselfs and not the team

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Completely agree, e!

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    For example,.... did you all read that article on the response of Phillips in Cinci about being 'offended' by being offered a 6 year $70+ million dollar contract?

    Fans notice that crud.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Not the first time Brandon Phillips has said/done some questionable things that got out in the media.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    The guy is on pace for 120 RBIs and nearly 4.0 WAR. That puts him below guys like Pedroia and Cano but pretty much above everyone else. If Pedroia is allegedly getting a $20m AAV deal, Phillips certainly is in the right to ask for a contract in the $14m-$16m range and that's probably a fair deal for him. His OPS is down about 40 points this year off his norms but he's still the third best 2B in MLB. Plus, he's currently on a 6y/72.5m deal that expires in 2017, so why would he eat the last 3.5 years of that deal for less money? I'd be offended too. They are basically asking him to take a pay cut in regards to AAV.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Your facts are absolutely correct Michael - he's having easily the best year of his career (at age 32). His current value is likely among the best at his position period - and easily the best in the NL this year as 2B. However - he is 32, and any team that overpays him for a future production at this level is asking for trouble. Will he be 'worth' that value in years 5 and 6 of the offered contract? Likely not.

    My point about Phillips isn't that he isn't good - he is and has been an above average 2B for years in Cinci. My point is that he got that offer, and didn't quietly and personally express that displeaure to his team's management. He chose to publically bitch and act like a seflish & self-absorbed teen about being offered 12-13 Million/year to play a 'game' for the next 6 years.

    That may be below what he is worth this year - in fact - based on his monster year he is underpaid (like $10 million for this season).

    Problem is - many Cincinatti fans, who will never make that kind of money - look at what he said and think he's being a prima-dona.

    A mature person would have his agent, or would himself, work the system rather than complaining the way he publically did.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I should state this differently. I personally wouldn't pay much more than that because of his age, I am just saying he is not wrong for wanting more. Sorry if it came across differently. If I'm the Reds, and I am not, I offer him a 3y/48m or 4y/60m deal. That gives him a bump of $4-$5m a year and if he is still productive, he can make up the difference in FA in 2018.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Absolutely Micheal - That would have been the way to do it if i were Cinci.

    My point was primarily about public perception of Phillips - not his actual current and potential future value to Cinci.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Also - going public, eh, he is a big Twitter dude. Truth be told, if any of us went on Twitter bitching about our salaries we'd get fired lol. So I see your point. Ah, the perks of professional sports. You can call people out without penalty.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yep - I know I couldn't get away with it.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think $20 mil for Pedroia, who doesn't have a ton of power and once he starts his natural decline will have a lack of power, not a great idea. Heck of a player but I just hate contracts like that for anyone.

    Brandon Phillips is a really good guy, great character, good in the community. It's a shame he was kind of dumb enough to say his stuff publicly. It is stupid to complain about $13 mil per year is insulting, but these guys live in another world AND they're ultra competitive as well. And salary is part of that competition. But they aren't dealing with the day to day struggle to pay bills like most of us. So when they complain about money being an insult, take it with a grain of salt. Very few pro athletes are really humble. But I'd take him on the Cubs any day of the week, but at his age, not for a 5 year deal.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I personally think $20m per year to play baseball is outrageous for anybody but I am probably just jealous because I won't make $20m over my next TWENTY LIFETIMES.

  • After reading about Bryant why would we want Olt? Valbuena can hold the fort until we get a better option. I also read that a trade with the Indians would include Chisenhall and Bauer. I'd say no but don't know who else may be involved. Again why do we want Chisenhall? I always thought that Sappel would be a good 4th outfielder. I've change my mind he dosen't seem to drive the ball at all. Great debut for Lake.

  • I never forgot those comments earlier this season about Amaya and Contreras, and it always left me wondering who else was playing that day, or if he was familiar with everyone over a period of games. Almora wasn't there yet, so obviously it had me thinking about Vogelbach and Shoulders, especially Vogelbach. If he can't catch up to a major-league fastball now, will he ever? Perhaps this is why he's hitting so many singles this year - maybe he's focusing on quickness and reaction time?

  • Lake is showing improvement in the K% and some with his walk rate.

    What has his approach looked like in Iowa this year?

  • It's going to be very good watching this young prospects develop
    and growing the next few years until their ready to make the team.
    Not all will do so, but the very best will.

  • A great post and some great follow-up comments too. One thing that hasn't been mentioned (or mentioned much) is how damn fun it was to watch Lake last night. Obviously, he isn't going to go 3 for 4 with a 2b and a SB every game, but he brought such energy and also those obvious tools that John wrote about. He may or may not succeed, but I have a feeling Lake will always at least be interesting to watch.

    I know he's not going to be a core guy, but to be honest, last night was the first time since perhaps the beginning of the year that I felt extremely excited to be watching the Cubs. It's just fun to see some of the development come to fruition (even if he gets sent back down when Kim DeJesus' cousin comes back).

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    *husband. Oops. Sorry I butchered your joke Felzzz.

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    I just want to throw this out there for conversation's sake, but could one of the motivations for bringing Junior Lake up have been to showcase him for other teams?

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Possibly. But man I could see Theo and co. sweating bullets if he's ever included in a deal. Lake is the kind of player that GMs give up on and trade away then the moment he gets in another uniform all that potential randomly manifests and he becomes a star. I hold on to him until i'm absolutely positive he won't put it all together.

  • I just hope they let him play everyday so the Cubs see what they have in him, time in season left for league to adjust to Lake and also time to see if Lake can make the adjustments back some. Give him a chance to be a core piece.

  • If Lake goes 3-4 the rest of his career, I could careless how many walks he takes.

  • You do not trade this type of talent until you have seen him play
    for at least 2-3 years.

  • Dont't want another Joe Carter give away to to happen.

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    I remember such a big deal being made about having a long swing, and his hitting mechanics.
    Honestly, even if he can hit 2.50 over the course of a year. He's still a decent power threat, and he runs well. He may turn into a really good super-sub if he doesn't work out on an everyday basis.
    I know the defense is horrible, but this is a great scenario. It's not like we're competing this year. Let's see what Lake can do, and if he'll make himself into a big-picture piece.
    Hell, he can always try to pitch if this doesn't work out.

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    In reply to Eric Foster:

    .250 as a super-sub would be acceptable, especially if he has some power. Jose Hernandez wasn't a great contact hitter but was very good in that super-sub role. Maybe Lake kind of fits as a Hernandez comparison, although Lake looks more athletic and probably has better speed.

    One of my favorite players of the 80's was Randy Ready, another great super-sub who was mostly with the Philles and then the Padres. Played everywhere and was almost in the lineup everyday. Having someone that good and that versatile is a benefit for any team.

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    Lake looks like a heck of an athlete. Certainly fun to watch. Couple of nice plays out there in CF and one dumb one tonight.

  • Another day, another great article, John

  • Man, I take one day off from baseball (and the never ending rumor mill grind) and decide to spend a day discussing, reading and seeing Shakespeare... and this is what I missed out on?

    I figured when I got back at 1 AM last night that I would just finally find out what Garza ended up being dealt for but instead I missed this!

    Great article John. And great follow up everyone else. Though I probably had more fun with the bard, I'm still sorry I missed out.

  • Here is what I take from what I've been reading about Lake. His tools are a plus arm, plus speed, and has some pop. Remember, we have one of the best, if not THE best, outfield coaches in baseball, so I think his defense will improve with experience and coaching. That makes him another of the true assets we see among our youngsters. If all he ever becomes is a guy off the bench, a role player if you will, then he becomes a very important part of the "win now" future. Every major sports team needs a role player or two - that 4th-5th defensive back, the defensive specialist in basketball, the "instigator, pain in the butt" hockey player. Those guys may not show up in the stats that much, but they help teams win.

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