Cubs plan to attack power pitching with volume now...and spend later?

As we go into these meetings scouring for rumors about who is going to be traded, we should also think about what the Cubs should be getting in return.

Not long ago, that wasn't a difficult to question to answer.  The Cubs needed just one thing: Impact talent.  It didn't matter what position or what level, the system was completely bereft of potential impact players.

That is no longer the case.  The Cubs have built a farm system that is among the best in the game.  By most accounts it is a top 5 system and one could make an argument that it is the best system in baseball, or at least in the top two.

But there's still something missing.  You've often heard me describe building the Cubs system as a process of building inventory and not so much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Just keep stockpiling assets.  Get the best players you can and then let things sort themselves out.  At that point you can more easily address organizational shortages with organizational surplus.   The issue with that strategy is that it can leave your system a little unbalanced.

That is where the Cubs stand now.

As some of that top talent approaches the majors, things are indeed beginning to sort out and there are a couple of things that are clear.  The Cubs have impact bats but have not built the kind of inventory of powers arms they would like, though they are making headway.  As noted by many on this site, they could also use catching prospects but for this article, we will focus on the pitchers.

It's no coincidence that the Cubs have attacked this area with volume.  Drafting and acquiring pitching prospects are risky, particularly when compared with position players.  A lot of things can happen: injuries, they don't mature physically like you would hope, breaking pitches don't develop, command never gets where it needs to be, etc.

But this is  exactly why you get as many of them as possible.

I've often read here where readers envy the Cardinals and their ability to develop pitchers.  It seems like they hit on every pitcher no matter where they draft them.   Now admittedly, the Cardinals are good at developing pitchers, but they're not that good.  Nobody is that good.  No team hits on every power pitcher.

So what is their secret?

What the Cardinals do is draft a lot of pitchers.  They focus on pitchers who project as power arms and athletes.  Why?  Because those are two things that you can't create out of nothing.  Some of that ability has to be present by the time a player is drafted.  It gives you a point from which to start.

This is basically what the Cubs are doing now, though they've only been doing it for 2 years.  The front office understands that you can find these kinds of athletic power pitchers anywhere in the draft.

Evaluating young draft eligible pitchers aren't easy.  They are rarely near finished products the way Mark Appel was last year.  It involves projection.

  • Does the pitcher have a frame that will allow him to put on more weight and throw harder and/or allow him to pitch with stamina in the future?
  • Is the pitcher athletic, which makes it easier for him to learn to repeat his delivery and thus develop command?
  • Does he have or can he develop the grip strength to be able to sheer off the ball on breaking pitches?
  • Are their subtle mechanical flaws that can be resolved?
  • Mental make-up plays a role.  Is the pitcher coachable?  Does he have the work ethic needed to do what's needed to stay healthy and go from thrower to pitcher?
  • Pitchability -- Does the pitcher understand the art of pitching and make the most of his stuff?  Kyle Hendricks is an excellent example of a pitcher who does.
  • Genetic profiles play roles in projecting pitchers.  Is a pitcher susceptible to injury. For example, there is the rather common genetic pre-disposition to grow a lot of scar tissue after surgery.  That can be a temporary inconvience for someone like me but for an athlete that can obviously be a big problem that could delay recovery or even require a second surgery.

It can be as much art as science and teams like the Cardinals are good at it.  We are seeing the Cubs taking a similar approach.  While some pitchers are ahead of others and put up more successful numbers, you can still find this type of skill set anywhere in the draft.  That is why it can be a good idea to go with volume rather than gambling that you will get it exactly right with one arm at the top of the draft.

That said, in this upcoming draft we talked about 4 pitchers we like at the #4 spot:  Carlos Rodon, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Beede, and Sean Newcomb (L).  It seems very likely the Cubs could reverse their recent trend of selecting position players in the first round. But I suspect that even if the Cubs do draft a pitcher at the top, they will still attack with volume later.

It's been the pattern so far.  Here's a quick look at the inventory of potential power pitchers the Cubs have acquired since this front office took over during the 2011 offseason...

  • Jake Arrieta
  • C.J. Edwards
  • Pedro Strop
  • Justin Grimm
  • Neil Ramirez
  • Arodys Vizcaino
  • Corey Black
  • Armando Rivero
  • Pierce Johnson
  • Paul Blackburn
  • Duane Underwood
  • Ryan McNeil
  • Josh Conway
  • Juan Carlos Paniagua
  • Zach Cates
  • Hunter Cervenka
  • Trey Lang
  • Rob Zastryzny
  • Tyler Skulina
  • Trey Masek
  • Scott Frazier
  • Trevor Clifton
  • Erling Moreno
  • Jefferson Mejia
  • Jen-Ho Tseng

That's 25 potential power arms in just two years and the oldest one in the group is Pedro Strop at 28. Obviously they aren't all going to turn out. But that's a lot of inventory.

And there is still work to do.

I expect the Cubs to add even more to their 28 and under power pitching inventory.  The big prize this offseason is the 25 year old NPB star, RHP Masahiro Tanaka.  They may also add to it if they do ultimately trade Samardzija (I would expect they get at least 2 pitchers back) as well as in the 2014 draft, quite possibly with their very first pick.

The Cubs still need to add pitchers who profile more as front of the rotation arms, but even a steady supply of power arms to fill the bullpen and the mid to back of the rotation would be a tremendous asset as the Cubs attempt to build a team that can compete year after year with waves and waves of talent.  In the words of a scout I talked to,

At the end of the day, who cares if it's starter or bullpen with prospects? Any regular role is a bonus for a team that values cheap labor to offset the costs of getting guys on the second contracts.

By second contracts he means free agents and/or trades for players with larger contracts.  In other words, if you have guys like Edwards, Vizcaino, Grimm, and Strop filling your bullpen spots (and/or mid to bottom rotation spots) cheaply, then you can re-allocate those saved financial resources to acquire that big name free agent to head your rotation.

That is why it's important to build those waves of power arms the way teams like the Rays and Cardinals have and for a team like the Cubs, they have the financial wherewithal to keep their best young arms and/or fill in the missing pieces.  That's how you use your financial might.  You don't use it to build your team.  You use it to add pieces and sustain what you have built.

But building comes first and while the Cubs have come a long way, there's still a bit of work left to be done.

 

Comments

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  • Just for reference, what is criteria for being a "power" pitcher? I don't really think of Zastryzny or Tseng as power guys. I'm just curious what the criteria was.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Cubs consider Zastryzny a potential power pitcher, which is what McLeod said after drafting him. He hit 95 consistently during regionals. I wouldn't take the drop in velo as a pro too seriously yet. It was a long year. We'll see how he rebounds next year.

    Tseng is a polished pitcher but he has potential for above average velo on his FB. Scout told me he had him at up to 94 and he's still just 18. May just stick there or perhaps even drop the way Maddux did, but always potential could even hit that consistently with physical maturity.

  • Great article, pitching is the name of the game, but with the 4th
    pick in the draft would still go for a hitter if a great one is available.
    Get 2 top pitching prospects with trading Jeff

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Thanks. I think there are some very good high school bats but only one potential college bat I'd take at #4 (Trea Turner). Pitching may well end up being the BPA this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If a college power arm is there go for it

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I've been calling for the DJ - Tyler Beede, Chicago Reunion for over a year now.

    I just hope Tyler Beede gets to the Cubs. I know I'm going to get killed for saying this but I truly believe that he will end up being the best pitcher to come out of this draft, possibly the best player.

    One wild card I see is Michael Gettys aka Mike Trout 2.0 - if his hit tool develops then he could be an MVP caliber player.

    Alex Jackson's bat is something special too, and while some worry about him staying at catcher his pop up time this summer at PG was 1.73 (the best this summer) and consistently sub 1.8 - That's elite, so he definitely has the cannon to stay behind the plate. I think it just depends on how his body fills out.

    Of course I'm really liking the reports from John and others on Sean Newcombe as well 6'5" 240 lbs LHP that hits 97 mph, yes please.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    You will not get 2 top pitching prospects for Jeff

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    And you base that on what exactly?

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Reality. I can't see a organization giving up there two best pitching prospects for shark.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Well, don't say that when they ask you, ok?

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Don't follow you ?

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    What I meant was, when the other GM's ask you what you think, don't tell them not to give up their two top pitching prospects.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Got it. I will tell the GMs it will cost 3 top prospects.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Emart, if we're getting 2 top pitching prospects in a trade for Jeff, we're gonna haveta include Barney. Nay, just messing with ya Emart. You're alright.

  • I like the strategy of adding power arms through the draft and trades. So far, so good. We also have guys like Rusin and Hendricks now battling for a spot in the rotation next season along with what assets we obtain if Shark is traded. In addition, we can still add inexpensive arms through free agency that can give us 5 plus solid innings, if we shore up our bullpen. The future is getting brighter.

  • Great article! You could add Corey Black to that list of power arms too! Well, think that's his name anyway...

  • In reply to dgedz27:

    I just did. Thanks. If I forgot anyone else, let me know.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - he doesn't get a lot of press, and his fastball isn't in the high 90s, but I would add Ivan Pineyro to the list. His fastball is better than Hendricks and his command is quite good.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I like Pineyro, it's just that the info I got was the FB was usually in 89-91 range. He may be underrated and someone to watch, but I have a hard time calling him a power pitcher.

  • It would be great if a quarter of that list (6) makes it. The odds of half them "getting a cup of joe in the show" are even more astronomical. But if they did, that would be quite the drafting and development coup d'etat!

  • Looking at that list, I am baffled people still think the front office is not doing a good job

  • IMO, the only thing the FO has missed (with any importance) was their first choice for manager and his coaching staff (with the exception of Bosio and McKay).

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    maybe they didn't miss and it was planned to only have him fo 2-3 years but the fact that it wasn't explained to cubs fans

  • When this team turns the corner, it could be in a very big way if a significant portion of the fruit on the tree ripens at the same time. It's coming..............

  • Isn't it nuts? I'm even talking about the weakness in their system and I was still able list 24 potential power pitchers.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And that was just the power arms... Not to mention Travis Wood and Hendricks, who don't qualify as "power arms" but have proven to be real "finds". Woody may even be part of the L/T core in the rotation...

  • That struck me as well. As I read I thought of how many folks seem ready to call the FO out as having failed. They may still be right but, so far, I think they have accomplished a great deal in a relatively short time.

  • People who think they're not doing a good job have only one criteria for that: ML wins.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    They've done a great job. No doubt. But can't they be more aggressive to either speed things up, or spend more $ to put a more competitive team on the field next year. To splurge in a way not inconsistent with the rebuild. Or are those two mutually exclusive concepts?

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    They are mutually exclusive concepts.

    And I don't mean that it would hurt the draft pick.

    They look like they are going to spend a lot of money to try to sign Tanaka, and that is completely with the rebuild. And that's a good signing because he will be hitting his prime when we are competitive and we know we will need a top flight starting pitcher.

    But what else will we need? If Olt, Baez, and Alcantara make it, infielders will be the least of our concerns.

    If Soler, Almora, and Bryant make it, we won't need outfielders.

    The problem is, you use big, long term free agent signings to fill in holes, but we have no idea what the holes are.

    They are signing players -- Schierholtz, Hairston, etc -- to fill in holes short term, but the key is short term. They're signing one or two year contracts so that they will not be taking up salary space when the kids are ready. As a general rule, the big time free agents won't be open to one or two year deals, so we're out on them, even if we were willing to spend the money to land them.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    you also have to remember the CBA has changed the way that you build a farm system. Its different than when they built the Red Sox so when people look at that they don't understand that

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    That's a very generalized and inaccurate comment.

  • Agreed,..... it's just at this phase of shelf restocking - that the results are not yet evident at the ML level.

    2015, 2016 and beyond - when some more of these guys starting hitting the bigs - that's when we'll really be able to assess how well they have been doing.

  • By this time next year add good FA's is what we will be talking about
    not how to improve the farm system

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    agreed. And it looks at least likely that the free agents available will fit our needs (Starting Pitching, mainly).

  • Youve hit it on the head again, this blog is the best. Nothing like power arms coming at you in waves. Right now, Id like to see a Mike Harkey late 80s type coming out without Harkeys injury problems. That would be ideal for this team. I still remember Gordie Goldsberrys assessment of Harkey at AA in 1988-"there are 2 pitchers in the Eastern League-Mike Harkey and everyone else"

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He looked like he was going to be beasty, but why the cartwheel, Mike, why???

    Just goes to show you never know and that's why you need a lot of guys, but one potential front end type would be nice indeed.

    And thanks!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Jack Magruder ‏@JackMagruder 10m
    #Dbacks to name Mike Harkey pitching coach, sources with knowledge say. Monday announcement likely.

    Weird...two Mike Harkey references in one day. Not sure who was president the last time I heard that name.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I worked in Boston then, so I used to drive out to Pittsfield to see a great AA Cubs team. Harkey threw hard, Mark Grace was very polished for his age, but the player that really stood out for me was Jerome Walton. He hit the ball hard, flew around the bases and played a great CF.

  • Great article, John! Loved seeing Hendricks get a touch of love even though its a power pitcher article! Kidding aside, you have to love where the organization is headed. You have to figure that a potential Samardzija haul coupled with a premium pitcher at the top of the draft should put the Cubs over the top as best system in the game. Was Ivan Pineyro left out on purpose?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Thanks! I had to sneak Hendricks in somehow. Yes, I don't consider Pineyro a power pitcher, he's more like Hendricks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Look at Ricky Nolasaco making the jump after Hendry traded him to Miami. Wish we never traded the guy.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    I remember being worried at the time. Seemed like an overpay for a player whose traditional stats made him overrated.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    But Nolasco always threw harder than Pineyro does.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good point, but why did we let him go so easily with his arm. He had tremendous stats. Other point is that he made a quick jump to majors. How does he compare to Hendricks?

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Bad judgement. The Cubs became obsessed with filling a need. A good example of what was quickly becoming a badly run franchise. They didn't understand analytics or the concept of cost control value. They traded for one year of Juan Pierre, an exciting player but a one man out machine because he didn't walk, play good defense, and he didn't steal bases efficiently.

    In short, ineptitude.

  • fb_avatar

    OT: MLB Trade Rumors ‏@mlbtraderumors 45s
    Ted Lilly To Retire http://dlvr.it/4PVMfC #mlb

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Cubs could use some of that bulldog mentality again.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Like, Jeff Samardzija, maybe? LOL

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Exactly ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Do you think he would make a good pitching coach assistant? One that taught Bulldog mentality 101.

  • In reply to John57:

    I think he could make a good pitching coach on some level.

  • The other advantage of the power-arm approach is tradability. The market over-values the potential of power arms relative to command pitchers and position players. A Double-A power arm with a 4.30 ERA has more value than a Double-A OF with tools but who has been stuck at .700 OPS. That said, many other teams have tried to replicate the Cardinals and only have a lot of Tommy John surgeries to show for it. (Jim Hendry is a great example.) Even the Rays haven't ultimately broken through with a title, and they had the extra benefit early on of better draft position than the Cardinals. I personally would like to see a few more Kyle Hendricks worked into the draft mix, as they can translate into more durable long-term members of a rotation (Ted Lilly, Moyer, Maddux). But if the Theo/Jed approach results in great trades for major league talent in a couple years, it will prove out.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Yes, it does add some depth in case things work out to the point where you have surplus pitching -- or if you're just in a situation where you are contending and want to get a David Price in the future.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I'm with you on that, Jeff. Remember when Glavine and Maddux came up there was no buzz around them, as opposed to Woods and Prior. I understand the whole "You can't teach power" thing, but at the same time, if you already have the control/command you don't need the power.

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    JIm Callas was interviewed recently by another Cubs blog (Sorry john), and asked who he liked out of the 2013 draft for the Cubs, besides the obvious.

    He really liked Masek and Skulina, two power arms with upside; he felt the Cubs got good value with those picks

    I couldn't agree more on this power approach. It will be frustrating as alot of guys with big FB just won't get over the hump (McNutt?), but we only need a few to hit.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    No worries. I read that too at CCO. Good stuff.

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    To underline John's point a bit, the Cardinals (justifiably) get a lot of credit for grabbing Trevor Rosenthal in the 23rd round in 2009. They took six pitchers ahead of him who haven't made the majors, in addition to Miller and Kelly in rounds 1 and 3. (They also had Matt Carpenter in the 13th round -- what a draft.)

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=franch_year&team_ID=STL&year_ID=2009&draft_type=junreg&

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactamundo.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Let's hope 2-3 years from now we can boast the same thing.

    Our big name guys are great but if can get some late round surprises. that's always good too.

  • with the farm system in as good of shape as it is, why doesn't the FO pat itself on the back, and transition into more of a win now mode. Do you 1 & 2 year deals really hamper anything?

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    In reply to peachcobbler:

    Easier said than done. You have to get FAs to agree to a 1 & 2 year deal.

  • In reply to peachcobbler:

    That's pretty much what they've done, but don't expect to get more than Scott Feldman and Paul Maholm types who need to prove themselves.

  • And I apologize for the strange font changes in the article. Those just sort of happened for some odd reason.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Would those happen to be Franklin Font changes? lol

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Oooh... thhe next time I see Franklin (shakes fist)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    literally lol'd at your response.

  • Cardinals have shown Cubs don't really have to tank season to get TOR power arms in the draft. Wacha, Lynn, Miller and Wainwright (Braves) were all 1st Round picks -- but none of them were drafted higher than 19th overall. Joe Kelly was 3rd round. So while Cards bullpen may be from development and/or quantity, their rotation comes from higher round picks. On the other hand, they've done a fine job drafting in the lower half of the first round.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    If you were to take a bigger sample, however, you would see that picking earlier gives you a much greater chance of success. Cards don't have magic beans.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    Which of the guys listed here were drafted in the first round? All of the guys listed were either later round picks or acquired via trade (technically, I guess Pierce Johnson was a first rounder, though not a high one). I don't think anybody's suggesting you have to tank to get power pitchers. In fact, the article points out how they're available throughout the draft.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Yep, it's about volume, not high picks. And that is an excellent observation about how Cubs acquired all of these guys after the first round (Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn were supplemental first round, btw) I suspect if they had a later first round pick they may be inclined to go with a pitcher first, but tough picking them in the top 5. too many bad things can happen.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Plenty of posters on this site have indeed repeatedly suggested tanking another season or two just to get a higher pick. And as John points out in the comment above yours, picking higher generally does give you a better chance of success. Yet Wacha and Miller were both the 19th overall pick in 2012 and 2009 respecitvely and Lynn was 39th overall in 2008 -- kinda like Pierce Johnson. I want Cubs to begin competing ASAP. And even if we don't get a top 5 pick, this FO just needs to be as good as Cards FO in making that lower first round pick. That's all I'm saying.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    That's pretty much what this is saying, that you can get these guys later in the draft, and it's usually pitchers. Wacha and Miller should have both gone higher and it's not certain Lynn would have fallen given the new CBA guidelines. The Cards have taken advantage of teams being reluctant to take slightly flawed but talented pitchers early in the draft. The Cards hope they fall to them and on occasion they have. Part of it is luck, part of it is their opportunistic draft philosophy, and part of is their ability to fix those flaws. It's good process and that is pretty much what the Cubs are trying to emulate.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    Of the three guys you speak, two were taken in the drafts of over two years. Before you call out this FO for not picking as well as the Cards, let's try to measure it the same way.

    This FO has been here in Chicago for exactly 2 years! That's it..... 2 stink'n years. And I'd take our picks again and again compared to whom the Cards received. I know we all want to be able to point the finger at something for all the losing.

    Here's an idea. Try the past ownership! Oh wait. Their gone now and could care less about the product now displayed on the field. Why? Because it was their job to make things look all rosey for fans and media so that the sales price could be justified.

    They got paid for those efforts! So get over it, sit back and swallow your medicine. The cure always hurt a little but the results will bear a long sustained joyful abundance of play-off baseball.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Whoa. I'm not calling out the FO at all. They've done very well with their two drafts, with both their top picks and in later rounds and -- with a few minorvexceptions -- the talent they've gotten in trades. Again I'm just pointing out that we don't need to suffer more 95+ loss seasons to draft front line players. That said, I sure hope they take the best pitcher available with their first pick in next draft and have the same skill/luck Cards have had in the future even though the picks are in he bottom half of each round.

    As for your disparagement of the Hendry regime, have you already forgotten '03, and the glorious '07 and '08 seasons? Sure they didn't get it done in the playoffs, but those 3 seasons (along with '84) were these were the best of the 43 years I've been living and dying with the Cubs. And who drafted Baez and signed Alcantara and acquired a lot of the guys who've been recently converted into promising longterm assets? I'd say that Jim Hendry was the most successful GM Cubs have had since WWII. And I suspect that if instead of going into a small market rebuliding mode, the Ricketts family had given him the financial resources commensurate with Cubs' revenues and value, Hendry would have reconfigured another playoff caliber team by now.

    But, alas, we're stuck with this rebuild and while I have confidence in this regimes ability to get there slowly and cheaply, I'd prefer a more aggressive approach.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all you Denizens!

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I don't think too many posters advocate tanking before the season even starts just to get a better draft choice. But most realize that if it is the end of July and the best possible outcome is winning 75 games, it is better to trade short term assets for long term assets and improve your draft position to boot.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think that sums up what many of us here think.

  • Armando Rivero is also considered a power pitcher.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Good one. Thanks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    How many arms on this list are projected as starters?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Most won't become starters but there are 8 or 9 with a shot. But even if you fill up your bullpen with homegrown power arms that is a nice asset to have and a great place to save money that you can spend elsewhere.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    And I added him to the list.

  • I loaded up on Harkey rookie cards back then and now they aren't even fit for the bike spokes.

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    In reply to cubman:

    Don't feel bad. Way back when, the kid next door fleeced me. I gambled and gave him a good Ripken with value for Brien Taylor. oops.

  • Off topic (or rather, previous topic): For those who don't think the Cubs are looking to add veterans who can teach/mentor, here it is from Jed Hoyer (via Vine Line)...

    It’s something that we’re focused on. We need to add some guys who can help teach our young players the right way to do things. No coach can do what a player can do. Player-to-player teaching, player-to-player coaching is so valuable. When you have really good veteran players who can take these guys under their wing and show these guys what they’ve done—as hard as coaches work, it’s difficult for them to have that same sort of relationship. So we know we have to add some leadership to the clubhouse, and certainly that will be a priority.

  • Excellent stuff John!

    So if we subtract Shark and whatever we get for him from our 2014 rotation, if we are lucky enough to land Tanaka; would this rotation be competitive?
    Tanaka, Wood, E-Jax, S Baker, Cabreara/Rusin, (Villuenueva as swing man/long relief) and then Grimm, Hendricks, Perez in AAA... so there's some depth to the mediocrity

    Granted, that's not playoff contenders rotation, but I think it's good enough to be similar to last years and our biggest challenge in 2014 will be the same as 2013... scoring runs. .

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier!

    I think that kind of rotation would compete.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Do you think Arrieta could be in the mix?

  • In reply to John57:

    I do! For some reason, I completely forgot about him. I actually like him a lot. He has the same issue as Shark... in that if he can develop some consistency; he'd make a nice #2 power pitcher. But he could also end up in the bullpen. I think he showed enough to be a starter in 2014 though. Though Rusin did too and to a lesser extent, so did Cabrera. Of those three, Rusin is the only one that can go back to AAA w/o clearing wavers.

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    This should probably be taken with a few grains (tons?) of salt, but:

    Joe Baker ‏@JoeBakerMLB 14m
    Wonder if a deal will develop later between Jays and Cubs. They both want before thanksgiving.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I would never believe this, and I still don't, and I promised myself and all y'all I was off of these boards until Monday, but my neighbor threw this at me a few minutes ago.

    Quick backstory: I play in two Fantasy Baseball Dynasty leagues, one is an AL-only league, the other is an NL-only league. If a player is traded out of the league, you lose his rights forever and cannot re-select him unless he is traded back in the league.

    As a frame of reference, that same year I drafted Bundy I also selected AJ Cole of Washington in the NL League. When he was traded to Oakland, I lost him. So I drafted him in the AL League. When he was traded back to Washington, I lost his rights again. Last year I did not draft him. We only get three draft choices per year (unless we trade for more picks) and I really hurt my asset collateral with that guy.

    I drafted Dylan Bundy in the third round of our farm system draft (minor league players and amateurs) three years ago right before the June draft in which Baltimore selected him. It was a risk, I think he went 4th overall and he could have gone 1-3 easily.

    Jack, my neighbor, told me this today when we were talking fantasy baseball: I'd trade Dylan Bundy if I were you.

    Here's my thoughts:

    1. Like Mike Moody, I think the Toronto rumor has the most legs.
    2. I'd really prefer to see a deal with WAS for a package of Giolito +.
    3. Is Jack telling me Bundy is coming to the Cubs? What would that mean to these boards?

    Now I am trying like hell to trade Bundy for Xander Boegarts.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    To add to the intrigue, Kaplan just reported the front runners to land Samardzija are the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, and Orioles.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Kaplan is a Chicago sportswriter correct?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yes, the Cubs reporter for CSN. He's been very good on trade reports with this front office.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    It occurs to me the rumors could be a leverage play, too. It's possible that right now the real market consists of the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays. If that's the case, talking up the Orioles (Bundy) and the Diamondbacks (Bradley) with the local media could convince AA to part with Sanchez.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's always a possibility.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Hmmm. Maybe. I know Cubs loved Bundy in the draft, but that was the old regime.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Interesting. Bundy is scheduled to be throwing again right about now, so it makes sense that he is healthy enough that he could be traded...
    From Aug. 9th

    Six weeks removed from undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, pitcher Dylan Bundy remains encouraged by his recovery and the progress he's making toward getting back on a mound.
    Bundy is on schedule with his rehab at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, which should enable him to begin throwing in late November - five months after his procedure.

    LINK:http://www.masnsports.com/school_of_roch/2013/08/bundy-i-feel-fine-and-im-right-where-i-want-to-be.html

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Seems like a very aggressive timetable to be throwing already.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It's pretty much the same as what Giolito did. I'm sure it's a slow process. He doesn't just automatically go to throwing off a mound.

    He'll soft toss and work his way up

  • Very interesting piece, John. I know everyone is hyper-focused on Shark trade rumors right now but do you have any sense of where we might be focusing , in terms of a veteran OFer on a short deal? I think we can all assume that we'll be making that type of deal this offseason.

    Obviously, Chris Young was one name that stood out but he's been taken off the mkt. McClouth? C Hart? Granderson seems more and more like a non-fit($,yrs, worries about park adjustment).

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    McLouth, Gutierreze, Grady Sizemore, maybe Drew Stubbs or Travis Snider in a minor deal. I don't think Hart can play the OF anymore and he seems most interested in returning to Milwaukee.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    And thanks.

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    Happy Thanksgiving, Cubs Den and followers!

  • In reply to Ray:

    Happy Thanksgiving Ray.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you, John. Unrelated, the Twins are reportedly on the verge of the most expensive FA signing in their history.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Looks like it's Ricky Nolasco. Curious to see how much they pay for a #3 type starter.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 1m
    Source: Nolasco deal does not exceed the four-year, $52 million one that Edwin Jackson received from the #Cubs

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. That's a lot of change. Chris does great work, but I'm curious why he needed a source to tell him that 4 yrs/$52Mdid not exceed Jackson's deal :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I misread when I posted -- he's saying it's somewhere less than 4/52. So we still don't know the number.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh, I misread that too.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    4/49

    https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/405874675856601088

    Yeah, I think we can trade Edwin Jackson if we want to.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    3 years and $33M left on his deal. Cubs pay a little down and it looks like a bargain.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think the Cubs could trade Jackson easy in this market but in Jackson's case I'd much rather he pitch this next year for the Cubs and improve his standing since he's bound to pitch more comensurate with his career stats. With a decent year and $22 Million left on is contract he could be a nice chip, or possibly at this trade deadline even.

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    In reply to Ray:

    I'm thankful for hot stove rumors. And to Twitter for spreading false rumors faster than a brushfire.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I like the rumors, too. Here's hoping the off-season isn't a turkey for the Cubs and their fans.

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    In reply to Ray:

    Nicely done.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thank you, Mike. Happy Thanksgiving!

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    In reply to Ray:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Ray.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thank you.

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    In reply to Ray:

    And to you and yours!

  • I forgot about Stubbs, love the athleticism. I'd guess something might happen with him- wherever he ends up before non-tender date.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Seems like a solid fit.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I would rather see the Cubs give Brett Jackson another shot than get Stubbs - after all - Stubbs is about Jackson's ceiling, and Jackson would be lots cheaper.

  • So they've solved (or are at least solving) bats and arms. It seems that the last remaining weakness in the system is catching. What does anyone think the priority will be when they begin to address this? Will it be hitting, defense or volume?

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    The last paragraph of Kaplan's article. It's enough to give all of us something to be thankful for:

    "The Diamondbacks and the Blue Jays both have high end starting pitching prospects in their minor-league systems and are dangling impressive prospects in front of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in hopes of landing Samardzija. Toronto has Aaron Sanchez, while the Diamondbacks have Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs. However, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers has consistently maintained that Bradley is a non-starter in any trade talks. Whether he remains that steadfast depends on how badly he wants Samardzija because as every baseball source I spoke with said, the price is really high and with the supply of big time arms very low, the price keeps going up."

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Great to hear! This is no time to settle for fair market value.

  • I know people keep focusing on the idea of P Hughes moving into a cavernous park given his FB/HR tendencies, but isn't there something for us to be interested in , at the right price. His velocity remains solid; he suffered from an extremely high BABIP this yr; and he's also merely 28.

    I realize a BEST case scenario would be that he recovers into like a 3.5 for us. What type of deal is he supposedly looking at. I'm just trying to figure out which of the "value" SPs make the most sense for us. One way or the other, I'm sure Epstoyer has a strong opinion on him , given their level of familiarity.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Maybe, he fits in some ways, but he does have a tendency to leave the ball up, which accounts for the HRs and probably some of the BABIP. I'd take a look and see if there was something that they could tweak to help him keep the ball down better. If that's the case then he could be worth a shot.

  • Speaking of which, Cameron suggested Roberto Hernandez- aka F Carmona-as a good value play for us. We'll see.....

  • To John, Felzz, and Mauricio... Happy Thanksgiving, hearty thanks, and much respect for all the wonderful work you do!! Welcome Mauricio.

    To my fellow peanut gallery members: A very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. We're a wonderful group. Intelligent, thoughtful and respectful comments, combined with fantabulous writing, keep me coming back!! All the best to all of you!

    John (aka MoneyBoy)

  • Junior Lake is putting up some good numbers in winter league ball. Maybe this guy might be for real, wouldn't that be a great surprise for 2014.

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    I think Granderson would be a great fit. Clubhouse leader, can move to left when Almora is ready and could hit in the middle of the lineup. 32 yrs old- 3 year deal. 65 mil. I think he'd be Soriano 2.0

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    You want to pay Granderson 22 million dollars a year?

  • Kaplan points out that teams run a serious risk by waiting for resolution to the Masahiro Tanaka situation since teams that miss out on the Japanese standout will swarm on Samardzija and other alternatives. One NL scout suggested that if he were a GM and didn't have pockets deep enough to guarantee landing Tanaka, he'd give up more than he'd like to get the Cubs' hurler.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Wow.

    Y'know, I like Tanaka and want him on the Cubs, but have been against the Cubs offering crazy high money... but after reading that I may just want them to break the bank.

    What a double bonus that would be. Get Tanaka and at the same time dramatically increase the demand for our trade bait.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I thought the same exact thing. Kill 2 birds with one stone as they say.

    I'm thinking that the Shark saga gets resolved before Tanaka gets posted though, cuz it still doesn't look like the MLB and NPB are anywhere close to an agreement.

    Phil Rogers also pointed out that star Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda might also get posted. he's also 25 years old, has stuff like Tanaka, but he is the Japanese CJ Edwards at 6' 0", 154 lbs

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    Open question here: Who was the last position player to come up through the Cubs' system (not necessarily drafted, but at least spent significant time in our farm system) to become a starter for the Cubs for, say, 5 years?

    I've only been following the minor leagues (besides only the biggest names) for a couple of years now, but thinking back, I can't remember the last time a position player came up through the Cubs system to become regular on the big-league club for more than a couple of years. Is Castro about to become the first to do so in a long time, or am I missing someone?

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    Geo Soto just missed 5 years, but I think he counts. But, you're right, there aren't many.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah, forgot about Soto. Theriot came close, too, now that I look it up. Kind of puts it in perspective, for me, how special this group of prospects could potentially be. If we get a superstar and a couple of above-average regulars out of this group, to go with the 2 or 3 solid guys we have now (assuming Castro and Rizzo bounce back), it would be a totally different animal to anything I can remember watching as a fan of the Cubs.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    starlin castro will begin his 5th year this spring.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yes, I mentioned him in my original comment. He's actually who got me thinking of the last time it happened.

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    I'd like to get the opinion of some of the top baseball nerds on here about something I was thinking about. How much would a potential package be worth of the players/prospects we would get for Shark. What I mean is if they package was on the open market for simply dollars, how much would it draw? $10 million? $15 million? Especially with Tanaka off the market? You would have to think that teams would want to get the best available arm that doesn't have draft pick compensation attached to it and Shark is definitely in that conversation. What I'm trying to get at is could the Cubs include this monetary value in the posting fee (if the system is worked out this year where Tanaka is posted) that they put out for him? Lets say that Arizona decides to put Bradley in a package for Shark. Would you pay $10-$15 million for that package? Strategy speaking, could the Cubs include that amount in the posting fee? If they're planning on posting $60 million, couldn't they bump it uip to $75 million, win the bid, then increase Shark's value on the market with Tanaka off the market? Just a thought.

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    Giving thanks: 87 days until pitchers and catchers report if my math is correct.

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    John: time for a new contest: how will the baseball gods screw up the samardzija mother-lode for the cubs? Will it be revealed Shark is actually a drug dealer/38 years old/ a woman? Will his arm fall off playing touch football on thanksgiving? Or will they get really creative this time? Let the readers decide...

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Haha :) Isn't that what Lou called a Cubby occurence?

  • I realize that the amount mentioned was just an arbitrary example, but I think that we will find that 75 million wouldn't bring us into the top 5.

    Think 100 million plus plus.

  • Though it's unlikely to happen, I think we're all forgetting the best outcome to this Shark situation is signing him to a reasonable 4-5 yr deal.

    If we could lock him down for 12-13 mil/ yr + , presumptively, a stud power arm in next yrs draft, we'd have gone a long way toward securing a formidable rotation for our next contender.

    John, do you know if there's be any effect on Tanaka pursuit if Epstoyer extended Shark? Guessing on the terms they'd do a Shark deal, it probably wouldn't / shouldn't affect the Tanaka situation but financial situation remains opaque.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think the Cubs will pursue Tanaka regardless of what happens with Samardzija.

    Nick Cafardo did say the Cubs are still trying to extend Samardzija

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Considering the Cubs gave Edwin Jackson 4/$52M, I'm sure they'd do cartwheels down Sheffield Avenue if Samardija would do a 4/$48M or 4/$52M contract but that's not going to happen.

    My guess is Samardzija is looking for $16-$18M per year based on Jackson's contract alone. Maybe more. But it's just a guess.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    KGallo said Hi teens is the numbers He has heard Shark is asking for and a NTC .

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Eh, no.

    I like Shark a lot and have wanted to keep Shark. But possible packages coming from Washington/Baltimore/ and Arizona are probably a better outcome than re-signing Shark.

    Sure there's risk, but the those packages not only offer a possibility of a better pitcher, at a more ideal age, for cheaper, with more years of control.

    Not to mention the additional players.

    So, yeah. signing Shark is good but by no means is that the best possible outcome.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    And not to mention they can then spend the money they didn't spend on Shark elsewhere.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I disagree. The best outcome is getting an absurd package for Shark and then using the money we would have spent on Shark on someone else (although not necessarily this year).

    If we got an awesome return for Shark and then the FO finds a way to convince Ricketts that the $70M we would have spent on Shark is to be spent on Tanaka, I'll be doing back flips down Addison.

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    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Yeah, the best outcome is surplus value. If the package we get is gives us more value than 4 or 5 years of Shark, then that is a better outcome. If the value is not there in what teams are offering, then resigning him is a better outcome.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Yep. Agreed wholeheartedly.

    And that's why I think it's such a long shot they re-sign Shark. The prospect package + using the money elsewhere is likely to bring significantly more value than the contract Shark is willing to accept.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    While we would definitely have to sign Shark if he took a 4/48 deal, I am not sure that is the best outcome. Shark has been steadily inconsistent and is not, IMO, likely to improve significantly. He will not ever be a TOR pitcher (again IMO), so I would think the best outcome is getting one or two prospects and have them pan out to being a TOR pitcher (and having it occur at a younger age than Shark and at or about the same time as other Cub prospects are reaching the bigs).

    Truly, I would rather have Giolito and have him reach his potential than keep Shark. If we are judging outcome on actual results, that is better than keeping Shark. If we are solely judging the result as of April 1, 2014, I would still prefer to have traded Shark and gotten a TOR prospect, but I can see your argument that signing him is the best outcome.

  • Happy Thanksgiving Cub fans!

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    In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your's as well.

  • It's Thanksgiving morning. Thanks to all of you for making this site the greatest. John, specific thanks to you.

  • Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We should all be very thankful now that we finally have an owner who wants to win, a real FO, and the greatest Cubs blog on which we can all share the long awaited Cubs WS championship that is just around the corner.

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    Happy Thanksgiving to all! In regard to the Cubs, I am thankful for the leadership of Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod. They got the Cubs in position for continued success and multiple world series appearances. Progress starts to show midway/late in the 2014 season and will continue for years!!!!!! At least I have hope that I will see the Cubs in the world series at least once in my lifetime!!!! : )
    And of course, I am thankful for a great blog site in Cubs Den! Thanks John!!

  • The 2 Rule 5 guys can probably be considered power arm acquisitions.

  • So "IF" we:

    1). Sign Tanaka
    2). Get a TOR near MLB ready prospect in a package for Shark
    3). Draft a TOR college arm in June
    4). Sign a top FA SP in 2014
    5). CJE develops into a TOR MLB arm...

    our 2015/2016 starting rotation could be 5 TOR's SP's and all of our big boppers will be up by then....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    *If* all that works out, Theo will have retired having won 3 consecutive $100 million lotteries. ;-)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's pretty "do-able" though...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It definitely is, but for every piece to work out and for all of the pitchers they acquire that way to reach their ceiling seems like a long shot to me. This might be me being too easy on Theo, but I don't want to hold him to that high a mark to assess the success or failure of these moves.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm not suggesting we do. There are obviously a lot of "IF's" involved, but my point was we could easily have a dominant rotation within a couple of years. Even if say only 2 of those 5 work out, building around them with guys like Wood, Arrieta, Balckburn, etc.. is still a contending staff.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Totally agree. Could be a stocked system very easily.

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    I regularly search Twitter for all things Jeff Samardzija, and this one was so insane I had to share it here:

    McBain ‏@gangrenegang 1h @BlueJaysRant I do Stroman, JBau, Lind for Samardzija, Castro and Soler...but, I'm sure the #Cubs would pass.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Whoever that guy is, I don't think he understands what he Cubs are trying to do.

  • I also wouldn't be surprised to see Cubs do a prospect for prospect trade

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