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Cubs have power in system, but who will set the table for them?

Cubs have power in system, but who will set the table for them?
Arismendy Alcantara

I've had a hectic weekend.  First my 10 year old Rottweiler, Eva, got sick.  Then it was me.  Not the same thing, I hope.  Anyway, I'm taking another day to recover, but Cubs Den contributor Kevin Gallo just came up with a great question (and some good answers)...

Who will set the Cubs table?

by Kevin Gallo

We hear names like Baez, Bryant, Soler, and Vogelbach, and we think, "Wow that is great looks at all that power."  We all know about the lack of impact pitchers or even left handed bats in the systems but the real question is who are these big bats going to drive in?  I am going to go through each level of the Cubs system and see what that have as far as players who can set the table for all of these future impact bats.

Boise:  The first player we are going to take a look at Jacob Hannemann.  Hannemann has speed and enough power to keep the defense honest. He also looks like he has the instincts to develop good on base skills.  Shawn Dunston, Jr. has shown OBP skills and plus speed but doesn’t have a lot of power.  All and all they are both good options because of their speed and OBP abilities, it also doesn’t hurt that they are left handed bats. The one thing going against them is that they are very far away from being major league ready.

 Kane County has one outstanding player with the on base ability that fits the table setting model.  That player is Albert Almora.  Almora can hit he takes good at bats and shows enough power to keep the defense honest.  The one thing he doesn’t have is outstanding speed.  Gioskar Amaya also fits this role loosely.  He shows the ability to get on base but has a little more swing and miss in his game.  He shows above average speed and at times shows at least average power.  I like Almora more as a table setter even without the speed.  Je would be my first choice for a #2 hitter in the Cubs future.  But then again they are also a few years away also Almora could take big steps quickly.

Daytona have two possible table setters in Zeke DeVoss and Pin-Chieh Chen.  Both have excellent on base skill but DeVoss doesn’t make strong enough contact to be effective and Chen doesn’t hit for a lot of extra bases to keep the defense honest.    They both have good speed but I just doesn’t see them as viable options for being table setters at the Major League level.

Tennessee had two very interesting candidates for the table setting role in Arismendy Alcantara and Matt Szczur.  Alcantara is the closest to being the perfect candidate for a leadoff man the Cubs have in their system right now.  Is he going to be a .300 hitter? Most likely not.  But he will have a very good OBP and has plus speed with enough power to keep the infield and outfield back.  Szczur is a player I really want to believe in but his lack of power makes him an 4th OFer for me.  I like Szczur’s other tools but it’s the power going to play well at the Major League level.

 Iowa:  I know Brett Jackson didn’t have a good season at all he really isn’t on the Iowa but if he could get his strikeouts under control he could be a great table setter. 

All and all the table setter situation turned out the way I expected with Almora and Alcantara being the top candidates that are the closest for the job.  The biggest question is where Alcantara will play on the field.  He is an ideal 2B but Baez could push him off that spot.  Almora is viewed as a fixture in CF for the Cubs for years.  Of course being the Draft Guy I am, I have to throw in a draft possibility in Trea Turner.  He could change the landscape if drafted.

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  • fb_avatar

    Feel better, John.

    If Almora can take the walks -- and I think he will -- he could be an outstanding leadoff guy even without plus speed. His hit tool and approach could make him close to a .400 OBP guy year-in-year-out.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't disagree but I like his bat control better at 2.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. I think he's a #1 or #2 hitter. I like the #2 hitter to be the best hitter on the team and I think Almora can be that in terms of average/OBP.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    totally agree John , Almora in the 2 hole, Alcantara leading off, The development of Alcantara and Almora are the keys to the Cubs future lineups, Cubs have depth of power hitting guys but the tablesetters are not in excess . Alcantara HAS to be the one to replace Darwin McWiffle . People talking about trading him for Price or whomever need to realize the Cubs cant trade him period,

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    That right there is one of the reasons I wrote this piece.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    Let me play devil's advocate here: if you cram a lineup full of guys who work the count and will take walks, then the prototypical leadoff guy is less important. Dustin Pedroia on that 2007 team wasn't a burner, but he got on base -- and even there the 8.1% walk rate goes under good-not-great -- and set up the rest of that lineup.

  • It's hard not to look and think about the possible logjam in the infield. But the truth is not all of these guys are going to pan out. Eventually all of this will sort itself out and I am just going to sit back and enjoy the ride

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Agree, can't wait to see whos at 2nd and 3rd in 2015. Will have
    some trade bait after July 2014.

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    I really do think Almora, Baez, Bryant and Soler will pan out, just a question of whether they are merely really good or great or greatest of all time.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I think Soler gets traded at some point.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    i trade Soler 100 times faster than Almora or Alcantara

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Depends on the return for each. If you can get a #1 pitcher for any of them I would do it. If they had the Almora pick over again they take Wacha (sp?), I bet.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    You are the expert but please give me a ballpark estimate about how much trade value Soler could possibly have? Any team in baseball could have had him a few months ago and he is still owed a significant amount of money until his contract runs out in 2020. I am cautiously optimistic about Soler and the rest of the big 4 but I can't imagine them flipping Soler for a legitimate asset before he proves himself.

  • In reply to Sandberg2014:

    He is no different then any other top 30 prospect in value. By himself he isn't worth much you aren't going to get Price for him or anything. He could be the center piece for a bigger deal but you may have to eat some cash though.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    I've got that same feeling about Soler, he may be able to fill a few holes for us in a deal for other prospects or he'll be the guy dealt to get us someone at the deadline in a couple of years

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Exactly. It's a nice problem to have and the Cubs will make this work -- and if it's surplus, even better.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I feel like we have a surplus in the works, but the fact is that most top 100 prospects fail to live up to expectations. I will be very happy if we get 3 of the big 4 playing to potential (strong starting mlb /infrequent all star). With that said I can't agree with trading out now, until we give them a chance.

  • Couldn't agree more on Almora being a #2. And seeing the Cubs draft strategy in the past two years Turner would be the ideal fit. Seems like a classic lead-off hitter and solves a pressing need for the Cubs.

    If the option of Hoffman or Turner is there, (too early and unlikely I know) which player would they take?

  • In reply to Buzz:

    My preferences: Kolek, Turner, Gatewood, Beede, in that order. Can't see either of Hoffman or of course, Rodon lasting to #4. Right now, my heart leans Kolek more than my head because I have visions of Kerry Wood, v.2.0 and I'd like to try that very much thank you.

    But if available, yes, Turner would seem to be the safe choice.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    I have a feeling one of the two will be there. I sent John my Scouting report on Trea Turner or you can go to my site BigLeagueFutures.net.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    i would just draft Aaron Nola and forget about it unless Rodon or Hoffman are there at 4 .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I need to see him live but I have not heard good things about his stuff. I have heard he FB is flat and his secondary pitches are above average.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    aren't above average.

  • The evidence is pretty conclusive that stolen bases are drastically overrated. Unless the guy in question can lift 100 SBs a year like Rickey, Vince Coleman, Omar Moreno, etc..., then the SB-as-a-key-leadoff-man canard can be put to bed.

    The key for a successful leadoff man is BA and especially, OBP. Period. SLG is a bonus, not a requirement. Who cares about run-producing capabilities when the guys hitting in front of you are the 8 hitter and the pitcher? Focus on getting on base for the #1 and #2 hitters in a lineup.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Agree. OBP is key in those spots (and contact/hitting behind runners as well in the 2 hole).

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    OBP is favorable but stealing bases at an efficient rate 75-80% is beneficial.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I think slug is important because like a said it keeps the defensive honest. You don't want the Def to chest in in the OF because they know he can hit it over their heads and then they take away what would normally be a base hit.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    thats what makes Alcantara the guy . He will hit 10-20 dongs and steal 30-40 bags a year , Kid is a stud .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I doubt that. Has he even cracked any significant Top 100 lists yet?

  • In reply to Yemi:

    He will be in the top 100 this offseaso. he has his break out season last year but got hurt and miss most of the season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Dead-On....SBs are very overrated.

    As John said, statistically anything less than a 75% success rate actually hurts the team. There is some disruptive impact to pitching. But you need a high success rate.

    OBP is king

    Choo is a great leadoff guy, and he doesn't steal bases. He has the wheels to take the extra base; that is important. But not SBs.

    I hate players like Juan Pierre; he is an out-making machine

  • In reply to Zonk:

    If you can have both OBP and an efficient stealer, that's the best of both worlds.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    You must have seen different evidence than I have.

    I HAVE seen evidence that stolen bases don't help much if you steal at a rate below about 70 - 75%, but if you do, they help substantially.

    During the steroid era, stolen bases were extremely devalued because with your 3 or 4 hitter hitting 50 HRs per year, you didn't want to waste the outs. But that era is over, and you are much more likely to be getting 25 to 30 HRs from your top power guy, and much more likely to be getting singles from them. In the near future, both leagues are going to revalue stolen bases as a way to scrape out a run or two. Any lead off man who can steal 50 bases in 60 tries is going to be gold.

    That is not to say that OBA will not still be a major part of the job requirement. But stolen bases are going to be the next undervalued stat in Moneyball.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I agree about stolen bases being undervalued. When Kenny Lofton was in his prime whenever he got on base he tormented pitchers. He could steal bases at will & pitchers were less likely to throw breaking balls because they would never throw him out. Baerga, Belle, & Ramirez would sit dead red & just crush the ball. He didn't even have to steal a base, he disrupted the pitcher just by being on base. Hopefully the Cubs can find a guy in that mold, if they do they will be able to generate a lot of runs and a lot of excitement.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    what is far more valuable than the actual stolen base is getting the pitcher in the stretch and annoying the devil out of him so he perhaps makes a mistake to your 3 or 4 hitter .

  • fb_avatar

    This is exactly why I want the Cubs to draft Turner. He is projected to have a high average and is an absolute burner on the base paths.

  • In reply to gas34:

    Turner also would likely have more upside than Alcantara and could be the 2B of the future

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Turner is a gold glove SS. He is a lot better defensively then Castro.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Exactly. That is my dream pick right now. Future line up.

    Turner 2B
    Almora CF
    Baez 3B
    Bryant RF/LF
    Rizzo 1B
    Soler RF/LF
    Castro SS
    Wellington C

  • In reply to gas34:

    Or you can have
    Turner ss
    Almora CF
    Bryant RF (I like him better there because of his approach)
    Baez 3B
    Rizzo 1B
    a LH LF
    Wellington or Salty C
    Alcantara 2B

    and the Cubs get a outstanding pitcher for Castro. I would only trade Castro if they get Turner.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    I think Castro will have a better year (batting average wise) than last year which would give him a higher trade value. If that's the case the front office can take it 2 ways. Trade him when his trade value is high or realize that he is too important for the future and keep him. It will be interesting to see what happens if he does raise it back to the .280 - .290 range and they draft Turner.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    This is why I think Choo is a good fit for this team. Besides being immediately their best on base guy, there is a lack of left handed hitting in the organization anyways.

  • I have some questions.

    1. Do you think Castro, if he reverts to his .300 BA, could be a table setter?
    2. Szczur has good speed and OBP so who cares if he has little HR power since he is a table setter?
    3. I think Hannemann will move quickly through the minors. Do you agree?

  • In reply to John57:

    1) No doesn't take enough pitches and doesn't walk enough.
    2) it isn't HR power I worry about its extra base power. He doesn't show enough for them not to chest in and take away liner in the shallow of.
    3) I really hope so.

  • So I saw a few comments earlier today flowing from Saturday's thread about the "Cardinals Way" and started looking at how they built this current team and what really stood out is that their front line pitchers are ALL FIRST ROUND picks: Lance Lynn ('08), Shelby Miller ('09) and Wacha ('12).

    Carpenter, Craig, Freese (in trade for Edmonds), Jay, Molina were drafted in the 13th, 8th, 9th, 2nd and 4th rounds respectively. Of course, Holliday and Beltran were big FA signings. Mujica was undrafted FA who they acquired at last years trade deadline for a guy who was DFA'd this spring and Rosenthal was drafted in 21st round in '09.

    So it seems the Cardinal Way was draft pitchers in first round and develop the rest from latter round picks and two huge FA studs.

    Our cupboard was barren a few years ago, so we had to build with everyday players first, but following this model it's now seems time to take pitching in first round year after year.

    As for Kevin's post, it seems that our Top Four prospects really are "can't miss" and hopefully Alcantara continues his progression, so our future line up looks like this:

    2B Alcantara
    CF Almora
    SS Castro
    1B Rizzo
    LF Bryant
    RF Soler
    3B Baez
    C Castillo

    We can quibble about the order 3 through 8, but I like it -- except for only one Left-Side bat. Who do you give up from that lineup to get CarGo?

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Rockies owner recently said they're not giving him up. That's not to say he CANT be traded but sounds like it's going to cost a major overpay to wow them.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Alcantara is a switch hitter and Rizzo is a lefty. So we have two left side bats.

    And I don't think we need CarGo. Also Colorado doesn't want to trade him. We need pitching more.

  • fb_avatar

    Nice Job Kevin!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thanks

  • fb_avatar

    Get better John.... I kept checking over the weekend to see what I had missed.

    I think... if we end up with the homegrown lineup in 2015 Castro is the #6-7 hitter.
    2B Alcantara
    CF Almora
    3B Baez
    RF Bryant
    1B Rizzo
    SS Castro
    LF Soler/Sweeney/Hanneman
    C Castillo

    an infield of 3 SSs and Rizzo is rock solid.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    Louie101,
    This is the line-up I envision, wit one change.
    Alcantara and Almora switching spots, basically for one reason. Breaking up the three righthanded hitters.
    If your line-up starts RH-LH-RH-RH-LH you make the other teams bullpen work harder.

    Oh, BTW, this line-up will be our next 200 Home Run team. (2017?)

  • In reply to Louie101:

    Thanks Loui! I'm liking that lineup.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    I like that line up.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    Louie I too really like your lineup. But if we are hoping for ideal, then we can have the DH in 2015.

    2B Alcantara
    CF Almora
    RF Bryant
    1B Rizzo
    3B Baez
    DH Vogelbach
    LF Soler/Sweeney/Hannemann
    SS Castro
    C Castillo

    If the LF is Sweeney/Hannemann then they will be 8th instead of 7th.
    This gives the lineup a better lefty/righty mix.
    That will give us 3 left handed bats and an infield of 3 SSs

  • In reply to John57:

    That lineup looks great to me, especially if the NL adopts the DH and we dont have to trade Vogelbomb. Seems so far all these guys show the ability to be big leaguers-Im just hoping attrition wont set in.

  • Good wishes to you and Eva...and probably to your wife having to aid you both. I realize how often I come to this blog expecting something new and it was disconcerting to have so little change....I think I may have an addiction.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks. My wife is a saint. ;) I should be back up to speed tomorrow.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think we knew that some time ago. Eva doing better?

  • What a load of homer crap! These are all completely untested kids, all of whom have talent at the levels to which they have been exposed. The big leagues are for those who have proved their talent at this level. I hope they all wow us, but I've seen how few of them meet expectations over more than 60 years.. That's why I'm convinced a Manager needs that level of experience too. We know damned well we are going into next year with a load of un-polished raw talent to ride herd over..

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I was being sarcastic a couple days when I said that we're going to start seeing Turner in future mock line-ups by people, and lo and behold, they're doing it.

    Cringe worthy to say the least.

    Shocked that no one goes a step further and tries to predict the future rotation...

    Shark
    Edwards
    Johnson
    Arrieta
    Wood

    The first team in major league history with five aces!

  • Thanks for the breakdown, Kevin. Hope you feel better, John. You deserve a vacation!

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Thanks Pura Vida. Much appreciated.

  • If Alcantara can hit, they will find a spot for him... I don't expect Olt, Bryant and Baez all to pan out but if they can't find a position around the IF there's always the OF.

    And if there's no spot for him at all, then it means Castro got back to his .300 BA form and he can hit atop of the order... It would also mean the team is doing just fine offensively and someone will be a good trade chip.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I don't see Castro as a table setter because he doesnt take enough walks and he doesnt see enough pitches.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Well, his .300 BA and .340 obp that he put in his first couple of years, along with the 20 stolen bases speed would overcome his lack of walks and pitches per ab... Look at Ellsbury, lead off man that doesn't see that many pitches or draws a lot of walks, but he hits the cover off the ball and maintains a high obp through a high BA.

    I think Castro is going from loved to underrated, I'm not giving up on him just yet.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I like a difference of .050 between the Avg and OBP for a leadoff man. Castro strike outs to walks concerns me.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I like a bigger spread than that but the higher the BA, the lower the spread you can live with.

  • In reality this team is not that far from contention. The bullpen is the biggest problem, second base production and incompetent management in the dugout that won't permits sleep-walking by its future stars., Throwing to the wrong base should earn pine. It didn't under Sveum.. That's why he's gone The kids on the farm are going to need discipline. You don't tame wild animals without a whip.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Is say the offense is by far the biggest problem. Back to back years finishing 28th in runs scored.

    Rookie Baez/Bryant coming up midseason (best case scearnio) aren't going to solve the offensive woes. People make it seem like once they're up everything is fine.

    Even a return to form of Castro (again, best case scenario) won't guarantee success. This team hasn't been in the top half of runs scored since the playoff years or in other words, pre-Starlin.

    Theo better have a better plan than hope Castro/Rizzo bounce back and the kids come up and produce immediately or else this is another 95 loss season waiting to happen.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Yemi:

    agreed. offense problem is because of 1) low team OBP and 2) dismal average with RISP. Not sure those are things that can be taught at this level, most of these guys are what they are. definitely need a FA boost, like Choo.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    You add Bryant and Baez it takes the pressure off everyone because you now have 3 or 4 players that can drive in runs. Bryant seems to excel with player in scoring position.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    Baez also hit a lot better with runners on vs. bases empty at AA this year:

    a 1.216 OPS (and an 11/22 BB.to K ratio in 98 AB's)
    vs.
    a .790 OPS with no one on (and an 8/47 BB to K ratio in 120 AB's).

    almost seems like he's swinging for the fences more with no one on?

    either way, that's what we need - someone to come up big with runners on base. Seems like this kid has got it.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Baez and Bryant may not solve the offensive woes, but they both have big bats and will likely be playing positions whence the Cubs currently get very little offense (2B, 3B). Those two guys in the place of Barney and Valbuena could make a significant difference, if they hit the ground running. If the Cubs add someone like Choo, additionally, those three additions have the potential to completely transform the offense--especially if guys like Castro and Rizzo bounce back.

  • Kevin, excellent work. I sense a soft spot, which I share, for Szczur . Although the power is a significant limitation, there are so many other things about his game to like(speed, OBP, defense, general #want).

    He falls into the "grinder" category but he's one with enormous athletic ability. I feel like he might be a rarity for the CHC system: a prospect who outperforms his projection. Just a gut feeling.

    More importantly, when are you and/or John going to lay out a scenario where we develop and/or acquire enough SP to be competitive in the SP-laden NL Central? I keep wracking my brain and.....

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I have the same 'gut feeling' with Szczur. I was encouraged by his 2011 line in A-ball, but the low slugging and poor SB% were disappointing this year. Hopefully he'll make the most of next year's September call-up..

    Been silently enjoying this site and its discussions for a while. Thanks for the good work.

  • This article has so many grammatical mistakes it's not even readable. Did you take any English classes in your life? This is not even high school level quality writing.

  • In reply to chitown cubs25:

    NO I am only 5 years old.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    LOL!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    Usted no habla Inglés?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Que?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    that's awesome!

  • In reply to chitown cubs25:

    Kevin's a baseball guy, not a writer. It's my fault. I should have edited before publishing.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Last I checked, this was not The Grammar Den.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    That would not be a fun blog, I would think :)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to historyrat:

    My Grammar used to sit in the den every night, knitting us ugky Christmas sweaters. I miss my ol' grammar.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was so focused on the baseball stuff I didn't notice the grammar.

  • In reply to chitown cubs25:

    You must be the man then. Are you offering to be the editor or simply saying that you will go read some other blog then?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to noscbs:

    cool it, please, both of you. .

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to chitown cubs25:

    Oh, just super. It appears one of the trolls wandered over from cubs.com

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Gotta love the grammar Nazis...

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I check this blog each day and I think it is great. Perhaps the original poster could have been more constructive but he was right in that the grammar left A LOT to be desired. If you want a site that has a reputation for high quality content (which is usually the case here), then an article should absolutely be proofed before it is posted. It was painful to read at times.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eric:

    I'm an ex-sportswriter turned novelist, and those things usually don't get past me. But I guess I was so excited that we actually have prospects worth reading about that I got caught up in the baseball and didn't notice the errors. So, in that respect, the writer most certainly did his job - at least for me.

  • In reply to chitown cubs25:

    Who cares. I'm in communication and half of my comment have errors.

  • In reply to chitown cubs25:

    OK, so what do you think about the content? if your reading and comprehension skills are good enough to decipher it. We're really interested about your input regarding the baseball content, not the grammatical content. Thank you.

    PS. Sorry for my grammar, English is my 2nd language.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Our computers change/assume so many words for us now that it's not always the writer/poster's fault.

  • fb_avatar

    couple of thoughts on the manager search:
    1) Mattingly apparently is not locked into returning in LA; he's looking for more than a 1-year deal and he wants all his coaches back, but Ned Colletti was non-committal on that. Could Theo and Jed be dragging this search out just a little bit to see what shakes out in LA?

    2) Nick Cafardo offers a couple of names we haven't seen thrown around yet:
    "Dave Magadan, hitting coach, Rangers — Magadan is being viewed as a managerial candidate by some executives. He certainly has the pedigree of having served under Terry Francona in Boston, but now he’s spent a couple of years with Ron Washington, as well. It was thought that if Washington had been replaced, Magadan would have been a candidate in Texas."
    "Gary DiSarcina, manager, Pawtucket — Let’s see how it all shakes out after the Red Sox’ season ends. If there’s an opening on the major league staff, it appears DiSarcina would get it. But he may have other choices for a major league coaching job (Angels?) and perhaps even be considered for a managerial position. Yes, DiSarcina is that good, and the Red Sox would hate to lose him."

    DiSarcina might be another guy Theo and Jed are waiting for as his parent club is still playing ball.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I met Dave magadan when I was in HS at his resturant in Tampa. Great guy and he could the time to talk to a HS kid about hitting. Great guy.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Some interesting names. Haven't heard them but I can try and find out. Mattingly probably isn't going anywhere, though.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    well it just speaks to my point from a couple of days ago where I made a back-of-the-napkin estimate that there are about 250 possible candidates out there, and we've been fixated on 5 of them. None of us (even John when healthy) can know all of them, so I like to read any tidbits I can about new names.

  • The thing about having this logjam of talent is there are plenty of open spots. Baez probably has the most position flexibility of all of them and his bat will profile anywhere. Bryant is limited to the 4 corners and hopefully, Rizzo has one locked down for years and the other is locked down by Olt or Villanueva and if they both make it, one is trade bait. Alcantara is limited to 2B (assuming Almora has CF locked up). Soler is limited to corner OF and VogelBomb is strictly 1B/DH.

    Most of this will take care of itself via attrition of some form (failure, injury, etc). But it sure will be fun to watch...

  • Regarding the draft Tyler Kolek is massive at 6'6 250 but I think a team like the white sox will grab him. I like Turner who plays a main pos in SS he is also a college player so he is more developed so he'll reach mlb faster. But looking after the 1st round do u have any names to watch in Pitching and position players?

  • In reply to Chicago Cubs Fan 24:

    I have an interesting name for the 2nd or 3rd rounds Karsten Whitson a RHP from UF.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    if he can stay healthy Whitson has good stuff .. Kid from Ankeny Iowa , a power lefty i hear is pretty goodtoo for a 2-3 rd pick

  • In reply to Chicago Cubs Fan 24:

    As for the position players I like Marcus Wilson a HS OFer.

  • Look...

    There is NO way that this new regime is going to build a lineup that is entirely home grown. A veteran, can, will and must be added.

    Theo and Jed are very good at pinpointing areas of inefficiency. Well, what's missing exactly? Just talking about offense:

    1. Leadoff man. OBP and speed.
    2. Soon, lefty bats.
    3. Probably need an outfielder - certainly next season, probably for three-plus years. We have a lot of infielders, we have a nice catcher.

    There are four choices to fit tgese criteria, but it is hard to know who may be available:

    1. Sign Choo. My fave. OBP god!
    2. Sign Ellsbury. Not my fave, but I do like his all-around game in center. But he is injury prone, his OBP is good, not great, and you can count on his speed diminishing.
    3. Dexter Fowler. Swich-hitter with speed and power, might just break out. He is inconsistent, but younger than the above two. Of course, you gotta trade for him, and if the Rox want to keep Cargo, he's one of their only chips.
    4. Brett Gardner.

    Who do you trade? That's easy. Samardzija. But get even more for him. Get a nice pitching prospect plus a leadoff guy for Samardzija and Schierholtz.

    I think this table-setter is a HUGE part of this upcoming run for the Cubs. I'm okay with overspending on Choo or Ellsbury for that reason. This guy is going to be a central force on this young team.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    What about Adam Eaton and Archie Bradley from Samardijza, Soler and Sheirholtz?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Hmmm. I like the players, but I think we could get more for that package.

    Also, the over-arching criteria here, IMO, is the fact that we need veteran leadership. Grab that veteran guy and satisfy those major needs all at once.

    If we overpay for Choo, remember that also means we didn't trade for this much-needed player. Samardzija remains a fantastic trade piece. Essentially, the money that may have gone to Samardzija goes to Choo.

    That's my preferred chain of events.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I think you're overpaying there.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I am look for quality not quantity here. You are talking about 2 years of Samardijza (#3), 6 years of Soler (could be a middle bat but isn't even in AA yet) and Sheirhoktz (1 year of him and he is coming off a career year). Eaton was a top 20 prospect and a pure leadoff man. He is also LH and a outstanding OF with 5 years until FA. Archie Bradley has all the tools to be a #1 and you don't have to squint to see it. If he stepped in the Cubs system he not only would be their vest SP prospect but their best over all prospect.
    From what I have seen from Bradley I would trade him straight up for Samardijza and not even blink.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    So essentially you're saying you would deal Soler for Eaton.

    Interesting idea...

    I am still looking for a veteran in this lineup though.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Me too but that Hardee to find these days.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I see your point. It's not trading Samardzija that I have the problem with, it's adding Soler to that mix. If you look at the haul the Cubs got for a Garza rental, I think two years of Samardzija and a year of a very serviceable OF would be enough

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    They didn't get a player of Bradley's quality in that trade not even close. And Samardijza doesn't have as good of a track record of Garza.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Would you trade Samardijdza straight up for Bradley? Would they?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I agree with this strategy 100%. If Arizona makes this offer, I would take it without hesitation.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    This is the trade I've been thinking a lot about. I'd like to see if the Cubs can get Gregorious out of it too. If you include Alcantara and Szur it might be enough. I don't think your deal is an overpay by the way. It might even take more. I agree with you that the Cubs are at a point where they should start looking at the right pieces, not just as many as they can get their hands on. I'd love a guy like Gregorious at short. Baez goes to third, Castro to second and the defense is darn good. Eaton and Bradley are the two others I'd like to see inthe deal.
    Kevin, I know you've been high on Bryant from the start and it looks like you nailed it. What is your ETA for him?

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Drastic overpay by the Cubs, to me.

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    Wasn't he a first rounder a couple years back ?

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Yes he was.

  • re: possible trades. I've been banging the drum that a KC-Cubs trade this winter makes too much sense for both teams. Of course it won't happen, but I'll throw it out there once again along with my reasoning: Samardzija, Schierholz and Barney for Hochevar, Zimmer and TBD prospect (e.g., Mondesi).

    Royals replace Santana with a similar quality pitcher, with higher (perceived) upside, at less than half the cost. Further, they jettison an admittedly good setup man, but save $5MM in doing so. KC is dealing from strength there, they have multiple, cheaper options to replace Hochevar (Coleman, Duffy, Herrera et al.) in the 8th inning role. The $10MM+ the Royals save would give them the money to pursue a bat like Beltran or Choo. Finally, Schierholz and Barney, even in reserve/platoon roles, fit KC's current motif of strong team defense and pitching.

    For the Cubs, you immediately strengthen the bullpen with Hochevar, who could easily become the closer. A pen with arms from some collection of Hochevar, Strop, Bard, Grimm, Rivero, Vizcaino, Parker and friends could be exceedingly good. Further, you replace a #3 starter today, with a TOR pitching prospect (Zimmer) whose timeline for the bigs (AA Spring 2014) matches up with the Cubs' many hitting prospects. And obviously, he'd be much cheaper and under much longer-term control than Samardzija. Finally, Mondesi is a terrific IF prospect to complete the deal, some other decent prospect would also be fine, I chose him as one possibility.

    After typing all that, I get that cynical vibe that no one cares about these types of meanderings but the OP, but it's fun to think about scenarios for my own selfish sake, and the bandwidth is free :-)

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Who's leading off? I think that's what we're trying to figure out.

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    Who's not leading off. Who's on first.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I Don't Know.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Third Base!

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I enjoy reading trade ideas. Keep em' coming as far as I'm concerned. I like your idea but I like the idea of dealing with Arizona more. I think Bradley, Eaton, and Gregorious are perfect fits for this young Cubs team.

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    Kris Bryant: ..429/.485/.964 in his first seven games in the AFL. Leads the league in slugging, second in BA, third in OBP, first in OPS. 4 home runs. Kid just hits everything anywhere near the plate.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    1 for 2 today with 2 walks and a double, it seems they don't even wanna pitch to him... According to Gameday, even the AB where he K'd, he worked the count as the pitcher started 2-0 on him and worked his way back with a bunch of junk he swung at... Next at bat, apparently he made adjustments and hit a double.

    Kind of match what scouts are saying that he adjusts from one at bat to the next.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And runs. His hitting approach is getting to what it was in college with taking more walks. I guess he is getting more comfortable and things are slowing down for him.

  • I still like the 'idea' of Brett Jackson as a leadoff guy, and more than passable CF - at least for 2014.

    However - a potential table setter who strikes out 25+% of the time is pretty much a non-starter unless he also hits >0.300 BA. Something that Jackson is probably never going to manage. His ceiling is kind of the Drew Stubbs level - and his floor is percieved as pretty low now. Add to the fact that by the time a 'table setter' is going to be really valuable to the Cubs (c2015-16) - Almora or Hannemann may be making their appearance in Wrigley - and Jackson is not 'it' for the future.

    The table setter of the future is either in the system and at least 1-2 seasons from making an impact, or is going to have to be found via trade or FA - IMO.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Jackson was God-awful last year and was even demoted to AA after he came off the DL. He continued to be a massive suckfest even at AA and could likely find himself off the 40 man roster this winter. I don't see BJax getting another shot with this organization unless something miraculous happens for him.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    If they need room, I definitely don't think he makes the 40 man and furthermore, I don't envision him being taken Rule 5. If he was, I'd expect he'd be offered back to the Cubs somewhere prior to the season opener or shortly thereafter. It's too bad because he appears to be a quality guy w/ skills.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    As you know, I've been watching Brett Jackson since his first stint at Tennessee. My first impression of him was "what's all the fuss about?" and it hasn't changed since. Getting his Ks under control is a pipe dream, in my opinion. I have my doubts he'll even be in the Cubs organization come Spring Training, and also have my doubts about Josh Vitters being there (for different reasons).

    The window of opportunity is only open so long and I believe these guys' ships have sailed, at least in the Cubs' organization.

  • Soler is still a very exciting prospect. He's coming back from an injury but there's no reason to drop his stock. I hope to see him in right field, and Bryant either at third or in left.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I am not say in his stock as dropped at alll and think he will be a very good player but at some point the cubs are going to have to make a serious move for a pitcher. He is the most expendable piece. They have a surplus of power so why not use that surplus to go pitching .

  • In reply to KGallo:

    So lets draft 1st round pitchers and sign a top FA pitcher when time is right. Soler's ceiling is too high to trade now.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Says who? The player with the highest ceiling is Baez then Bryant, Soler isn't even the #3 prospect in my opinion. His power tool is about a 65, which is great but its the same as Rizzo. He most likely won't even be the #6 hitter on the team. Have a ton of power in the system is great but you need people getting on base. I know Soler will be a good player but why cut off an avenue to get a piece you need because your afraid to trade a surplus you don't.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I think you are way too dismissive of Soler, in general. It's very conceivable he could wind up being a much more productive player than your golden-boy. I'm not saying I'd bet on it, but you're talking about a top 30 prospect vs. a top 15, NEITHER of which has played above high-A.

  • Like stolen bases, I think having multiple table setters is an overrated issue. This entire discussion is based on the fact that the Cubs will have multiple power hitters in the middle of their order. Who will they drive in? Simple: Each other.

    Yes, it is nice having a nice combo of power/speed/obp at the top of the order. But it isn't necessary to score a lot of runs. Give me one guy with a good obp (don't care if he has speed) at the top and then start hitting your power guys in the 2 hole on down.

    CF Almora
    LF Soler/CarGo
    RF Bryant
    2B Baez
    1B Rizzo
    3B Olt
    SS Castro
    C Castillo

    This lineup would score just as many or more runs than
    2B Alcantara
    CF Almora
    ..
    ..

    Assuming a combo of Baez/Bryant/Rizzo form the 3-5 in some order, I would rather have another power hitter in the 2 spot than the 6 spot. Get the guys that do damage to the plate more often.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    You basically have just taken Alcantara out and replaced him with Olt. The line ups are pretty similar. But the one including Alcantara has more speed/OBP, and in games that have the wind blowing in or it is really cold (like in WS) power will be negated somewhat. I like the multi dimentional offense a little better. It gives you more options, runs and wins.

  • Gallo, I think you're right in bracing people for the reality that some if these prospects will be moved for impact arms and/or veteran left-handed bats. As interesting and exciting as it looks on paper , if we are any semblance of a big -market team, we'll have leveraged those resources to speed up the timeline a bit. Quite simply, we can't wait the amt of time it will take for the arms to develop , internally.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    A team that is built on all home grown talent is very unlikely. Going FA and spending big money may hurt the Cubs ability to keep those young players like Bryant, Baez, and Almora. Trading getting youth and being able to lock up those young players early is the best way to go.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Like the way we have locked up Soler with his nine year 30M deal.

  • In reply to John57:

    Who can opted out when Arab years come up.

  • We also should remember that whoever that "tablesetter" turns out to be, he is going to see a lot of hittable pitches for the mere fact that the power is sitting right there behind him. Pitchers wouldn't be wise to toy around with him and end up walking him, so he may not walk that much for that very reason.

  • Really enjoyed this article Kevin. Thanks.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Thank you

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    For what it's worth, I completely agree with the premise of this article, and I've even suggested as much in the comments section of other threads on this blog. Great job Kevin!

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "Live solely by the HR, and you will die solely by the HR." A season is a war, and a game is a battle. The truly greatest teams in all of baseball throughout the game's history had a balance of power and speed. This balance made them able to adapt tactically to situations as they presented themselves within games. Basically, the more things you can do reasonably well the greater your chances for victory.

    I've thought for a while now, given all the power (especially RH power) coming up through the system, that talk of sending players like Alcantara out the door was premature.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    My highest fear is the Cubs turn into the late 90s Rangers.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Look at Cubs history. It replete with examples of how that axiom is so true.

  • No one has mentioned a sleeper for setting the table. OF John Andreoli. 23 yr. split between Daytona and Tenn hit .305 - OBP .379 with 40 SB and only CS 5 times. John doesn't get much hype or respect.

  • In reply to GregRed:

    Very good point. As many have pointed out some of our top prospects may disappoint but others like Andreoli may pleasantly surprise us. You got to like Theo's strategy of volume and wave after wave of talent coming from the farm.

  • In reply to GregRed:

    Good point I did miss him thanks.

  • It seems like in this day and age that the true lead off hitter is very rare. I loved the Kenny Lofton, Otis Nixon, and Vince Coleman"s but these guys don't exist very much anymore. I would be happy with a average speed guy that can hit for a higher average. Matt Carpenter is a good example. I want a good patient hitter that can spray the ball all over the field.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    That is want Almora is but from the right side.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    That would make me happy.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    But if you could find a Coleman, I just remember how much base stealers disrupted everything in the 80's. How many times did a player walk and score without a hit. Seems to me Stoney and Harry complained about it a lot.

  • In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    If you can find those types, that is great. I can't think of a guy in the league that is comparable to Kenny Lofton.

  • Not sure why you all seem to want Castro down in the lineup. For one he's a proven hitter in the majors. Alcantara has just started to ascend. Another thing is Castro's splits tell you he excels at the top. I prefer him in the two hole. I think with his hand eye coordination you can do some creative things with the run and hit game. Castro has the ability to hit some pitchers pitches. He also has above average speed to avoid double plays. I personally like Almora As the leadoff hitter. He's probably the best pure hitter in the organization and getting him the highest number of PA's would make the line move along. Its rare you ever see the leadoff hitter leadoff an inning other than the first AB anyway so traditional thinking on leadoff hitter qualifications should not be a priority when filling out your lineup. To me matchup's and history should dictate how a lineup looks top to bottom. It should almost be a fluid situation.

  • Ellsbury and Choo? No, kidding. I always hope it's going to be Almora and Sczcur

  • Great read Kevin and commentators. I have long projected that Alcantara will be our second baseman and with the heip of Almora at the top and Bryant and Baez in the middle with Rizzo, the Cubs won't need to panic. Arismendy is the exact package that we need so 'do not trade' label is appropriate.

  • Right now, AA and Szcur are about the only fits as top of the order hitters. Unless someone like a Devoss makes a huge leap, or Rubi Silva starts taking some walks.

  • I talk to my dad about this issue all the time, because it is complex, and it is exacerbated by the left-handed hitting issue. I almost feel that the Cubs need to reserve a place for Alcantara. He is a switch hitter, but his left handed bat would be the greatest contribution because of the shortage of LH bats in the system, and among the top prospects. I have believed that Trea Turner may be the pick in the draft, but he is RH as well, right? And if Turner becomes the pick, and if Rizzo doesn't fix his issues, then what? And if Turner is a better defensive SS than Castro, and as good a hitter, better baserunner, then what?

    Could Baez move to 3B, Alcantara play 2nd, Turner SS, and Bryant move to 1B? Or Rizzo stays, Bryant LF, Almora CF, and Soler RF, and this is all pretty speculative, though I think Bryant, Almora, and Baez are safer bets than most prospects. Personally I hope Rizzo gets straightened out, and Bryant moves to LF, while Alcantara plays 2nd, and Baez moves to 3B. That would give the Cubs 2 LH bats against RH pitchers.

    Personally, I think if the Cubs do take Turner, it might be possible Castro gets traded down the road after 2015 (perhaps for a pitching prospect).

  • It's too early to think of guys like Choo or Elsbury,but as Free agents they would fit like a glove now, but not so much 2 or 3 years down the road.Alcantara probably fits the best and is closest, but I'd put him at 2nd. base regardless of finding a position that Baez fits best at.We're faced with a great dilemma if Olt does play 3B and deserves to stay there.We're always thinking of what to do with our outfield,why not move Baez to left field and see Bryant and Soler fight it out too see who plays RF? Loser (Soler?) can get flipped as part of a package to get a missing piece.It's nice to think of all those kids on the farm.This is the deepest talent level I've ever seen in all my years of bleeding Cub Blue.

  • Given the current personnel, I like Alcantara as a potential lead-off guy (the lower level guys are too far away to consider, for the immediate future). Castro is also not a bad idea, if he gets back to being a .300 hitter. True he doesn't walk enough but if the BA is high enough, the spread between BA and OBP becomes less crucial.

  • My dream scenario has Olt playing up to his status before the eye thing. Alcantara would be the utility infielder/offensive situational guy off the bench getting about 300 plus PA before eventually using him as an asset in a blockbuster trade. Baez at second. That would be one powerful infield and good defensively too. Possibly 3 annual 30 hr guys and maybe a 20 hr one in Castro. He did have 15 in 12'. Not far off of 20.A few more wind blowing out games and may have been one already. Than you might get 10 plus from Alcantara.

  • I like Alcantara, Almora, and Castro as well Baez ,Bryant, and Rizzo. So if AA plays 2b and Beaz plays 3b here's a thought for the top of the order. Castro, AA, Almora, 1-3 and Bryant, Rizzo, Beaz 4-6. 1-3 have 15+HR and 200+/_ hits, 280+or minus ba potential and 4-6 have 30HR, 260+ or minus Ba, 100ribi give or take production. Castro hits his best leading off, Alcantara projects as a top of the order skill set, and Almora as our best overall hitter in the 3 spot. Sets the table and produces runs.

  • This all sounds exciting. Could we possibly fast forward 2 -3 years?

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