To keep our minds off a heartbreaking Bears loss, here are some news and notes to cap off the weekend...
- According to Professor Parks, the Cubs could have 7 prospects in the top 101 and 3 in the top 25. Leading the way is Javier Baez, whom Parks says is one of 5 shortstops ranked in the top 7 and one of the top 5 prospects overall. Baez is still considered somewhat of a high risk prospect because of the high strikeout rate and low walk rate, but those of us who follow the minors closely have seen a steady improvement with Baez's pitch selection. The ceiling on Baez is ridiculously high, particularly if he stays at SS.
- As to the other prospects, it's safe to say Kris Bryant and Albert Almora will be the other two prospects in that top 25. They are also the two Cubs prospects with the highest floors and not coincidentally, the first two top picks selected by the new front office. As for the other 4 prospects, Jorge Soler is certainly next on the list while Parks has hinted in the past that C.J. Edwards and Arismendy Alcantara would be toward the back end of the list. He has also told us here that Pierce Johnson has a shot at the top 101 and may have him ranked higher than Edwards on his personal list. The other candidate for that 7th spot would be Dan Vogelbach.
- Ben Badler says there will be 5 Cubs in his top 50. We know he's higher on Edwards than most so this one is a bit easier to forecast. That list should be Baez, Bryant, Edwards, Almora, and Soler. Badler also calls the Cubs system one of the strongest in baseball and thinks Baez has a chance to be a .350 OBP guy because of improving plate discipline, but power will be his calling card.
- Buster Olney has been ranking teams in various categories. I haven't paid attention mostly because I figured they wouldn't include the Cubs on most lists. One top 10 they should have cracked, however, is in the defense category but not surprisingly they got overlooked. The list concentrated on better teams and highlighted the discussion with marketable players. The Cubs lack the star power for that kind of list but defensive metrics suggest the Cubs deserved consideration. They ranked 5th in all of baseball in UZR (and 2nd in the last two years combined), 4th in range runs above average, and 9th in average defensive runs saved. Highly rated defensive players like Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney, and Welington Castillo aren't exactly marquee names, so the Cubs missed the list here. It'll probably remain an under the radar strength of the Cubs until the team wins and their more nationally known players have better seasons.
- In the 'Zona, a Diamondbacks blog, rates the Cubs as heavy favorites to sign Masahiro Tanaka, giving them a 55% chance. The Yankees are next closest at 25%. The Cubs have been a darkhorse nationally on Tanaka so it's nice to see someone besides us giving the Cubs a good shot at signing the former Ratuken ace.
- Speaking of Tanaka, a report from Japanese site Sanspo.com writes that Tanaka is looking for a 5 year deal in the $100 range. I don't want to speculate too much on this article because Google Translate has a... well... interesting translation for this article. Thankfully, we have a better translation thanks to a friend of Cubs Den reader Eddie. The first part of the article is translated as follows.."Masahiro Tanaka is seeking to move to the Major Leagues from [Tohoku] Rakuten [Eagles] through the new posting system. According to multiple US sources, Tanaka’s agent is asking for at least five years and 10.5 billion yen (100 million dollars). If this deal comes through, his average annual salary will be 2.1 billion yen (20 million dollars) which will make him the highest paid Japanese player ever. For those teams who can’t compete with “purchasing power” are adding interesting proposals such as golf club memberships and toilet seats with heating functions. [Many teams are] using a US style “hospitality” to take part in the bidding wars over Ma-kun bidding.
As the news over Rakuten’s approval over Tanaka’s transfer to the major leagues, the Daily News, the local news source for the Yankees, reported that [Tanaka’s agent] Casey Close (50 years old) is asking for at least a 5 year 100 million dollar deal."
- I'm a little late on this one but if you are still in the Christmas spirit give a listen to Christmastime in Wrigleyville, a tune written and performed by Cubs Den reader Kevin Henrickson.
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