If teams want Samardzija, they're going to have to come and get him

We've been hearing the Samardzija rumors for a while now.  Expectations went from prospects as highly rated as Archie Bradley down to Aaron Sanchez and Nick Kingham, and then down to perhaps a package that contained a low upside MLB ready #4 type arm and a couple of low level, high risk/high reward prospects.

I've heard a wide range of opinion from industry sources.  Some think he may be worth as much as a top 25 prospect and others more along the lines of  the package I outlined above.  Some may even think he's worth less than that.

We can argue all we want about what Samardzija's value is, but the only opinions that matter are those of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.  And it appears that this front office values Samardzija highly.

They view him as more than just any #3 starter with 2 years of cost control.  He's not your average mid-rotation guy.  You won't find many #3 pitchers who can consistently hit 98 mph.  His average fastball velocity has been among the top 3 starters in baseball over the past two seasons.  He throws a splitter that is considered among the toughest pitches to hit in baseball.  Hitters swung at 293 of Samardzija's splitters and whiffed on 145 of them.  He misses bats -- a lot of them.  That doesn't tell the whole story in terms of present day results, but sometimes that skill translates to greater things down the road.

He also has the athleticism to develop better command and the build to take on a huge workload.  He's been healthy his entire career and has about half the career innings pitched that most starters his age have.

And while the results have been average or slightly above, the peripherals have been better than that .   Samardzija ranks 17th in all of baseball in xFIP, a metric that measures those things a pitcher can control (strikeouts, walks) and normalizes the HR rate to that of the league average.  That xFIP is better than that of Justin Verlander, James Shields, CC Sabathia, RA Dickey, and Jon Lester over the past two years.

Sure, he hasn't put it all together, but those numbers indicate that there may be a monster lying underneath.  We've seen that monster at times and he can completely shut down the opposition.

But teams trying to trade for him will tell you he's just an average starter with some cost control.  They'll tell you they don't notice any of that other stuff.

Yeah, right.

I can't help but think of another fireballing RHP who struggled to find consistency early in his career.  In his age 27 season, he put up a 4.43 ERA (4.14 FIP, 3.70 xFIP) and a 2.6 WAR.  He had a strikeout rate of 28.7%.

Last year, in his age 28 season Samardzija put up a 4.34 ERA (3.77 FIP, 3.45 xFIP), a 2.8 WAR, and a strikeout rate of 23.4%.

That first pitcher is Max Scherzer, who went on to be an 11 WAR pitcher over the next two seasons, including a 21-3 record with a 2.90 ERA and a Cy Young last season.

Like Samardzija, Scherzer was once more thrower than pitcher, but Scherzer has learned to harness his stuff and use it more efficiently.  Can Samardzija do the same?  I don't know. But the ability is there.  He's competitive, athletic, and intelligent --who is to say he won't find a way to improve his approach and his knowledge of pitching?  We've already seen him come a long way since his disastrous 2009 and 2010 campaigns out of the bullpen and turn himself into a an above average power SP.  I'm not yet ready to count him out as far as taking another leap forward.

It certainly doesn't hurt much for the Cubs to wait to find out.  If teams are offering the Cubs a trade package based on what they believe he already is, then it stands to reason that that value won't change much by July.  Even if he doesn't improve, the Cubs can likely draw the same kind of offers they are getting now.  There will be 4 months less of cost control, but when you have teams in a position to win working with a deadline, that seems to create a greater sense of urgency.

There are a number of ways things can unfold this season for Samardzija...

  1. He can stay at the same level and the team will be bad, in which case the Cubs can get the same kind of offers next July, anyway.
  2. He could stay at the same level and the team could improve -- and the Cubs may just want to hang on to an innings eater.
  3. He could improve and the team could stay bad.  In that case his trade value increases.
  4. He could improve and the team could improve, in which case both sides may decide they want to get that extension done.
  5. He could get hurt and/or regress.

Four of those 5 things are about even or better.  I like those odds and I'd rather take that risk than take a package that is less than what the Cubs believe his value to be.

Not only that, if you're only getting a package with two low level high risk/high reward players, then you should at least get one of those players back with your compensation pick, as Samardzija will certainly be worth the QO.  As for that MLB ready low ceiling #4 SP, it doesn't seem hard to imagine the Cubs can develop that type of pitcher over the next two years within their own system.

If you reverse the situation, you can see this as a relatively low risk deal for the opposing team.  You trade a surplus starter and two low-level guys, but the comp pick would replace the value of one of them.  Basically that package amounts to trading starting depth and one low level/high risk/high reward pitcher.  Why on earth wouldn't they make that kind of deal to get 2 years of a pitcher that is at least an innings eating #3?  If I were Toronto, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, or Arizona and I'm looking to compete in the next two years, I wouldn't hesitate to create that kind of package for Samardzija.

I'm with the Cubs front office, here.   It needs to cost more than that.

You want him?  Come get him.

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  • Great article with plenty of facts to back up why the front office is absolutely doing the right thing.

    I think Shark is set to have a big first half and the Cubs will get what they want at the deadline.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    Thanks, 2015. Either they get what they want or they decide to keep him. But I think the odds are pretty good that he won't lose much value by then. They're not losing a lot by passing on that deal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Couldn't agree more. Been thinking this for weeks. What's the hurry? Continue his development and let the market come to you.

  • "That has been among the top 3 in starters the past two seasons" Can you explain this? I assume it's a typo or brain fart or something, unless you really think Samardzija is one of the top 3 starters in the league.

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    In reply to Andrew:

    I believe he was referring to Jeff's consistency at 98 mph. The exact quote was, "You won't find many #3 pitchers who can consistently hit 98 mph. That has been among the top 3 in starters the past two seasons."
    I could be wrong, but that's the way I infer it.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Yes, that is exactly it. I edited that to make it flow better.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Easy there, Andrew. I'm talking about his average FB velocity.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    rereading it that makes sense, it just wasn't clear the first read through. I didnt really think you thought he was a top 3 starter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Velocity means nothing. Do you know how many Minor Leagues throw 95 to 98 a lot and 90% flame out. Don't use Velo as justification it means nothing. Its nice to have it but give me a pitcher with plus command with a FB that sits 92 to 94 with good late movement and a plus change and at least an above average CB. If you basing his value on Velo you would be the only one.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I can't believe I just heard velocity means nothing. Sure 94 with command and late movement is better, but how many guys in the world can do that? Five?

    Velocity allows you to get away with mistakes. It also presents the opportunity to tweak his approach and maybe convince him to take a couple MPH off to try and refine the command a little.

    And of course John obviously isn't basing his value solely on Shark's fastball since his very next sentence brings up the fact that he has one of the best secondary offerings in all of baseball. And then goes on to describe other positives. We get it, you don't think Samardzija will improve and you think his value is at its peak. You may be right. You don't need to start making stuff up though.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Velo is not as important as people make it out to be.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Agreed. But it means something. It does present the player and the pitching coach far more options to improve the pithers results.

    Sorry if I came off like a jerk. Woke up, read the article, and my first thought after reading was I wonder what Kevin will counter with. Needless, not what I expected.

    Went to bed in good mood. Hawks dominated last night, got my ticket to the outdoor game at Soldier Field in March. Should be happy. Maybe its just the thought of going out to start my car in negative five degree weather. Anyway. Sorry.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    You won't have to ask what will Kevin Counter with anymore today is my last day on Cubs Den.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Will you be moving to a new blog? I really value your opinion on prospects. Thank you for all of your insights in the past. I feel I am a more educated fan for having read them.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Kevin... I enjoy reading your opinion. So, ope it is for a better opportunity and not because of anything negative here...

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Sorry to hear that. Now I really do feel like a jerk. I try to always stay positive in my replies. I'm upset my last exchange with you will have that tinge.

    I'm glad my web filter at work is letting me post today (sometimes it doesn't) so that i can say thank you for all the draft knowledge you brought to the table this year. And let me echo the sentiment from GoCubs: I hope you are moving on for a better opportunity. Good Luck.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    First rule of scouting a pitcher radar gun isn't everything. His split is very good and it had a swing and miss of 50%. But I would like to see how many times it was taken for a strike. Because if he throws an average of 100 pitches a game and throws it about 18% of the time. And

  • In reply to KGallo:

    He has pitched 33 games that 3300 pitches and at 18% that 594 times he throw his split. So he got a swing on about 50% of the time. But my question is what was the % taken for strikes.

  • Well said sir.

  • I can wait. Either for Jeff to improve and become a monster or for a deal that Epstein likes. I am happy we have Theo on our side.

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    Yup, this pretty much nails it. Zero reason to make a trade just to make a trade -- worst case we get the comp pick and we might just win or something between now and then.

    Also, by waiting, we go from a position where Samardzija is one of many pitchers on the market now to being the best pitcher on the market at the break.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. The more I looked at this, the more I realize there wasn't a whole lot to lose by not making a deal now.

  • Solid analysis. It's becoming clear that trading Large Mardj now makes little sense, what with big names like Tanaka, Scherzer, Lee, Hamels, Price etc floating. Seems that letting the market play out and catching a team feeling desperate closer to the start of the season, or even midseason, is the way to maximize value. If a breakthrough happens on extension talks in the meantime, even better.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Thanks. I think we tend to get lost in the trade talk and it builds momentum...but we forget how much value he has even if he doesn't improve. You have two years of a cost controlled 3 and at worst, a supplemental first round pick. And in my opinion, you have to factor in that upside.

  • I've been saying many of these same things for a while John. You put it all together very nicely though.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks. I've always been ambivalent about the idea and I actually almost had a sense of relief when he wasn't traded for a high risk package. I know the Cubs are asking a lot if they want a guy closer to the bigs, but I don't blame them for doing it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But this FO has been very deliberate and methodical from day 1. Theo even went on record as saying that you should never trade a core piece unless you are replacing them with two new core pieces. he may be a defacto Ace, but he's still our best pitcher (stuff & potential). So I never saw them moving him for less than surplus value. I also never bought into we had to do it now. Predicting injuries aside, we have a full year before his value declines because of the timeline. I like the fact based argument you made for an injury or regression resulting in decreased value being a very sound gamble...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Good point. If you get two low level high risk prospects, you will be lucky to get one core piece out of that. Makes sense from that viewpoint as well.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Love Cubs Den - read it every day.

    This is the most convincing account I have read with respect to identifying numerous good outcomes associated with keeping Samardzija. Great article.

  • Thank you. I appreciate the kind words.

  • I have a feeling the Cubs keep him and we see the same pitcher we saw in the final three months thus hurting his value come July.

  • In reply to Papa Bear Halas:

    Could be PBH - but could be exactly the opposite.

    We'll see come July.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    PBH. OMG. Google acronym finder, here we go. (sigh) Oh. oh. OH! For SHAME on me! I call myself a Bears fan! Wow. Could have used a COMMA in there"," DKM. Ten minutes of my life? poof. Finished by now with this blog until later today? poof. On with my pennence(sp?): Our Papa, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name...

  • I think a Samardzija trade is on hold until the Tanaka situation is sorted out and Matt Garza has signed. I still think Samardzija goes to ST with the Cubs and w/o an extension, but we'll see.

    In the meantime, I just finished reading the Trib report on today's city council vote and the mayor chiding Chairman Tom about getting started with his Wrigley rebuild. In the arena of public opinion, the Ricketts family gets another lesson in Chicago politics, not to mention what Scott Boras is shoveling their way. I don't know why the Chairman is so worried about a lawsuit from the rooftop owners. Can't he find a judge in Chicago who's open for business, or hire a team of lawyers that can rig a jury? Even if he doesn't resort to the underhanded, he should still take it to court and have his settlement money ready, because that's all this really is. The rooftop owners continue to line up at the Wrigley trough and oink for more, so he may as well just give it to them. As it always is in the City of Big Shoulders, you have to spend money to make money.

    When I was a kid back in the early 1970s, my uncle used to always wonder why Duh Mayor didn't declare eminent domain, condemn all the buildings on Waveland and Sheffield, and put in parking lots for the fans. Oh well, at least condemning some of those buildings still sounds like a good idea to me.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    The rooftop owners who will have their view compromised are not going to sign anything unless they are fully compensated (based on the current contract) so unless the Cubs pony up I don't expect the rooftop owners to compromise on anything. And based on what Ricketts said (cryptic) at the winter meetings and how lawyers work it could be tied up for years. It's all up to how the revenue contract with the cubs had been written and how flexible the Cubs want to be.

  • I like the bruce lee game of death picture up top. Great piece john, at this time teams think that there pitchers or other pitchers on the market are cheaper. Once sping training or during the season they will look at shark different and come closer to what the cubs want. Right now the teams are trying to get something for nothing.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Ha! That would have worked well too. This one was actually Theo's head on Morpheus from the Matrix. I do think that teams have offered up fair value, but the Cubs aren't pressed to trade Samardzija. They don't want to deal him unless they can get surplus MLB ready value -- and one with impact potential. It's a high price but the Cubs don't have any intention of backing down right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know, It just reminded me of the movie game of death. But your right about the shark situation, don't trade him unless you get more than fair value. The guy has two years of control that is a lot of time,but I also would like to thank you and all the writers on the site you guys are the greatest.

  • Great summary John - and exactly why I've been thinking all along that that the Cubs need to keep Samardzija under contract - unless somebody makes just a 'stupid' crazy offer for him.

    They can always trade him later,..... and those comp-picks if they don't trade him and can't sign him to a mutually acceptible deal in the meantime are valuable. And in the meantime both Samardzija and the Cubs get a chance to demonstrate why he and they need to stay together.

    Loved the comparison to Scherzer btw. It's not that far off of where Randy Johnson's stats were at age 27-28 as well His WAR (for example) at age 28 was +2.3 with an ERA of just under 4.00 - although at that stage Johnson had a lot of problems with the walk rate and general wildness, even more so than Samardzija.

    Not saying that Samardzija is going to be the 'next' Big Unit - but there are a lot of pitchers who don't get it figured out until their late 20s.

  • Every Cub fan should be hoping for scenario no. 4. FO needs to do more to make that a reality.

  • "Four of those 5 things are about even or better. I like those odds..."

    If you're doing two options for him improving (he gets better team gets better, and he gets better team gets worse), mathematically you gotta do the same for regressing (he gets worse team gets better, he gets worse team gets worse.) So it's at least 4 out of 6. Maybe 4 out of 7 if you count injury as another option. That's just my math minor rearing its ugly head - I'm with you on liking the odds. Especially since a minor regression won't affect the return much. The only thing that really scares me is injury.

  • OK John you have a few of flaws in your thinking. The biggest is the Samardzija vs Scherzer one. Scherzer problems were mechanical if you look at His mechanics from before to today they are very different. Samardzija mechanically us very good but his release point is inconsistent which is why his command inconsistent. This is a matter of touch and feel not athleticism. Because of his demeanor there is a good shot he never gets it.
    If I was running a team he is not the type of pitcher I would trade for or sign but if I did he would be a closer. I have heard from a lot of people that he is his own worst enemy and that confidence he has is more of a hindrance then a benefit.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Great points.

  • When I read Scott Boras is critical of the Cubs FO, my faith in them increases exponentially!

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Agreed. If the Cubs are doing something that as end result (not by intent) frustrates a guy dependent on creating bidding wars for his clients - then they are building a team the right way for the long-haul.

  • I Scott Boras is bashing you, that kind of says your team is doing the right thing. Scott Boras could care less how teams are run or their philosophy, all he wants is more big market teams bidding for his clients, boosting their price. As for Samardzija, I had a feeling this would happen. Unless teams feel the pressure to get a pitcher to put them over the hump, and unless the pitcher is considered " elite" you are not going to get top prospects. The Cubs should wait until May / June when his stock will increase.

  • There is the thing Samardzija is apparently unhappy with the Cubs if he is asking for FA value in return for signing a new contract. And it is not like the doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve. Does anyone else see a problem coming here?

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Jeff Samardzija will end his career as a lower ranked pitcher than Kerry Wood. I think he is one of a few players whose talent belies his outstanding peripherals. I think that puts everybody in a precarious situation when it comes to true valuation. As long as he doesn't further implode someone will pay up for him at some point. But it won't be some team' s top two pitching prospects plus.

    The risk is all on the Cubs and Samardzija now. I think his post-all star stats are more indicative of his future than his pre-all star stats. I wouldn't want to trade for him right now, not knowing the compensation he is seeking when weighing it against the cost to acquire him and the risk that the regression is real. To me, 200 strike outs in 200 innings is normally a great thing, but if you struggle getting the other 400 outs it doesn't mean quite as much.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I don't disagree with you. But what is your solution? Trade him for less value? Even if what you say is correct, trading him for high risk prospects in A ball doesn't seem the best. John's statement that we wait until the trading deadline is the right risk based on expected payouts still seems correct.

  • Agreed with most of you on Shark. Either get what you want or no deal and just keep him these next two years. By that time, many things can happen, not the least of which could very well be that two or three of our own prospects (see John's list of our prospects in the minors) are ready to be SPs at the MLB level. There's a lot of talent down there and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an emergence, especially with Johnson overseeing their development.

  • Holding on to Shark does not have an 80% chance of working out favorably because there are 4/5 favorable outcomes. This logic is flawed because the 5 outcomes almost certainly do not have equal probability.

    This is best explained with an example. Suppose I buy a lottery ticket. There are two possible outcomes, either I win or I lose. If I think my chances of winning are 50% then I have overlooked the most vital information. The chances of winning are much less likely than the chances of losing because of the lottery process.

    I think the probability of Shark getting hurt is greater than the 20% assumption. I would put it at 25-30% because pitchers get hurt pretty frequently*. Then there is the chance that he does not get hurt, but pitches poorly. I would put that at 10-15%. This puts the odds of even being in a position for a positive outcome significantly lower than the article (assumedly) claimed, in the 60% range.

    Others will have different estimates of the chances of Shark getting hurt or regressing, it's normal to disagree when forecasting future events. I think that the discussion would be much more rich, and useful, if it were based around estimates of probability.

    * I am not assuming here that Shark has a greater chance of getting hurt because of his previous history of health (that he is "due" to get hurt). That would be the gambler's fallacy. I based my number on the probability of any pitcher getting hurt, on average.

  • In reply to TBQ1:

    So what is the risk of injury of anyone Theo trades for? John's possible outcomes did not imply equal probability, just possible outcomes. So, do you get a better than 60% chance of failure from who is coming back in a trade? I doubt that.

  • In reply to TBQ1:


    Good analysis. And this shouldn't be taken as a clear indication that holding onto Samardzija isn't the right thing to do. But it should help underscore the argument that it is not necessarily a "no brainer" to hang on to him because there is an 80% chance of a favorable outcome. Pitching poorly and injury and probably much greater probabilities at this point in Jeff's career than him becoming an elite TOR starter.

    I have confidence that the Cubs' FO understands all of these probabilities.

  • Sorry, John, I just skipped to the comments. The next article I stop to read about the Shark will have a headline of ,"Samardzija Traded" or "Samardzija Signed".

  • Nice article John. This FO is not activity based. They are deliberate, methodical - plan the work, work the plan. These guys pull the trigger when it fits the plan.

  • I think there is a factor that no one writes or talks enough about. You have to get high quality value in any trade right now, because it has a significant impact on the entire 40 man roster. The Cubs, in my opinion, are at a point right now where they need quality over quantity. For that reason, I thought this might be the season to start to "go for it" (turn multiple prospects into 1 higher level player).
    I don't think the Rule V is going to be kind to the Cubs today and I can see it getting worse. It's not a reason to panic, but I think it plays a major role in any possible trades.
    I know everyone wants a big-time starting pitching prospect (and I do too), but I wonder if the Cubs could have traded Samardzija straight up for Trumbo. I know he may not be the exact "fit" this front office is looking for.
    The point I'm making is that there might be a better trade out there than the one for multiple prospects. It might be a one for one that gets you a quality player with more cost control and saves you some money. I like Samardzija, and I'm fine with the way this is playing out. You get what you want or you keep him and take the draft pick.
    I wouldn't rush into anything.

  • we just lost Marcus Mateo to the Diamondbacks in the rule 5 draft. I was expecting to lose more than just him...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Nobody had him on the radar. He's simliar to Rondon in some ways; good stuff, development derailed by injuries. As an older Rule 5, Mateo will either make it or he won't; it's not like an aggressive promotion is going to hurt his development (like Peralta last year)

    No great loss. Rule 5 just doesn't have alot of impact anymore.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Oh he's been on the radar. Unlike others, he's logged some work at the MLB level. He's struggled with control, that's been his biggest knock until the elbow injury. He appeared to be on mend, but still inconsistent last year. It was a calculated risk, and probably a smart one...

    I found this from Ben Badler which explains why someone would want him now.

    "Mateo, now 29, has been absolutely electric in the Dominican Republic, featuring a high-90s fastball and a filthy slider that sits in the upper 80s. He’s got results to back up the stuff, having gone 3-0, 0.98 for Estrellas de Oriente, with 22 strikeouts, seven walks and 11 hits allowed in 19 innings. In his last six appearances as teams finalize their Rule 5 pref lists, Mateo has struck out 12, walked none, allowed five hits and no runs in six innings over six appearances."

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I may be misremembering or confusing him with a different player, but wasn't Mateo the guy that was rumored to have a serious drinking problem when he first came up to the Cubs?

    Stuff has never been an issue for him. Control, recent health (and off the field stuff if true) have held him back. Good luck to him with the D'Backs. Hopefully he has harnessed his potential and gets his career back on track.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    May have been, I don't remember. The Cubs got him pretty cheap a few years back, so perhaps there was a reason for that.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Didn't lose much here. Besides, it might open a spot on a minor league roster for another kid to jump into.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Me too.

  • Didn't know you guys had a department of bad photoshops.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Truth is, I don't actually have photoshop. I did it with the basic ms paint program in about 5-10 minutes. If you think you can do better in that time frame with the paint program, be my guest. Would love to see it.

  • Bogusevic for Ruggiano swap. I think everyone saw us getting a little more right handed in the OF.

  • Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat now
    #Cubs acquire OF Ruggiano from Marlins for Bogusevic

    I like it...he can hit lefties...

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    This one has been obvious since the season ended. I think it is a great trade for the Cubs.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Agree! Right-handed bat!

  • Ruggiano is a Cub

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    We just swapped Brian Bogusevic, to the Marlins, for Justin Ruggiano

    I don't know much about Ruggiano, but from his stats, he looks alot like a right-handed version of Bogusevic: Some power, some speed, can play a so-so CF, struggles to make contact at times.

    Ruggiano probably is our 5th OF. From the standpoint of having Nate, Sweeney, we needed another RH OF besides Junior Lake.

    Trade makes sense to me in that both teams needed to change their "handedness", and that's what they did

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Yeah his #'s dipped with a bigger workload. He makes a great platoon player for us with some power.

    I'm wondering what this says about Vitters chances to make the 25 man out of ST?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I still think Vitters ends up on the 25 man roster as a guy who can play the corners IF and OF passably. At some point I believe he will be Schierholtz platoon partner in RF of the full time LF when Junior Lake moves to CF(which I also expect to happen at some point, just don't trust Ryan Sweeney in CF for 362)

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    IDK, with 500+ PA's in AAA and approx a .300 career avg there, he doesn't have anything to prove. But he is still very raw defensively. So would it be better to play everyday in AAA and focus on Defense or take his lumps while adjusting to MLB pitching?

    I certainly would discourage everyone from giving up on him entirely... he just turned 24 a few months ago. There's still time and he cost controlled for several years. If nothing else, he may prove to be a young, cheap, and solid RH bat off the bench. But by them trading for Ruggiano, that tells me this FO either wants somebody to push him or they've already decided that he will remain in AAA for the 1st half. They may be able to increase Ruggiano's value and flip him for a low level high upside arm at the deadline too....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think Vitters days in the Cubs organization are numbered. He'll be a toss-in on some minor league deal one of these days.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Possibly, but he's still just 24. He has proven he can hit at the AAA level, and his 99 PA's at the MLB last year don't mean much.

    He's probably destined for a career bench/reserve role... but the kid can hit and he's cheap for a few more years... he may turn out to be a decent RH bat for us during his prime.... In a season that's going nowhere, why not play him and see what we've got? His trade value will never be lower so I don't we'll just give up on him and give him away....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Ruggiano strikes out quite a bit - but also has a decent walk rate. A bit of power, some speed,..... hits lefties well enough though.

    Probably a trade that helps out both teams. Although having to be mired in that cesspool of incompetence that is Miami's management is going to be a letdown for Bogusevic. Hopefully he'll get plenty of playing time and a better future contract out of it though.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    who is the fourth outfielder?

  • We took a AA Catcher from the Pirates in the minor league portion of the rule 5. We lost Justin Bour & Julio Borbon

    Nothing to get excited about either way.

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    Cubs lost Borbon to the Orioles in the AAA portion of the draft.

  • I think the chance of Vitters making the team out of ST were already extremely low. I doubt that this makes a lot of difference.

  • Cubs lost P AJ Morris from Tenn as well , Cubs selected LH hitting C Charles Cutler from the Altoona Curve, hit .298 with an OBP near .400 . might be a decent pick up for the Cubs who are short on Catching in the system. does the AAA phase guys need to be on the 25 all year?

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    not at all and both of those are just organizational fodder... Cutler's MiLB batting stats look good until you consider he'll be 28 soon and still at AA....

  • timdierkes ‏@timdierkes 2m
    Heard Cubs had been competitive on Roberto Hernandez, but he really wanted to go to Philly.

    Formerly Fausto signed 1 year deal with Phillies...Cubs could've traded him there in July if he wanted to go so bad.

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    For just the Winter Meetings - the Cubs are big losers.

    Hopefully the Cubs can strengthen their team in the next 9 weeks ahead of spring training. This is a 100-loss team right now. Ouch.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Help me understand why you think they are big losers?

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    In reply to ccia:

    They did not improve a team that lost almost 100 games last year. They did not settle the Samardzija situation. Just because they didn't trade him doesn't mean they are any closer to signing him. They made two non-impact moves with their bullpen, including acquiring one guy that few have ever heard of and another off most everyone's radar. They still have no closer. They still don't have one non-platoon outfielder, in fact, they traded one platoon OF for another and sacrificed defense, one of their weakest OF areas, for power, which I guess was just as week Lateral move, different outcome. They still don't have any consistent power. They do not have one .300+ hitter or one .800 + OPS guy. They still need a fifth starter.

    If your laundry list is that long, and you do nothing about it going into the winter meetings, then you didn't accomplish much. Unless you think keeping the roster intact was a good thing, I am not sure why you would question that.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Interesting response. Much of what you suggested here is either not going to happen (sign a closer, or a .300+ hitter), and collectively not going to make a step change improvement to the team. Much of what you have listed is in the long term plan and in the minors. Have to be patient.

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    In reply to ccia:

    But I am not talking about improving the team the Cubs field in 2015 or 2016. I am talking about the team that they field in 2014. And I never said they should sign anybody. I said they have a number of laundry items that need to be addressed immediately and were not. Finally, I said they were losers at THIS WINTER MEETINGS. I didn't say anything about patiently waiting for development (which is no guarantee) or a fixed point in the future where they can buy or acquire talent y trade.

    I merely said they did not improve the team.

    As far as making a step change improvement to the team, a closer to lead a bullpen that lost 22 games last year would be a HUGE step change improvement, many steps in fact. A .300+ hitter or an .800+ OPS batter would certainly increase runs, and an increase in runs increases your chances of winning ball games, without going all Bill James on you. And to be clear, I think my response was more spot on than "interesting."

    Nobody said they had to sign anybody. Certainly there were moves to make that could improve the team that the Cubs chose not to pursue, for whatever reason.

    Nothing was done that makes this team any better than last year's team, and minus players like Feldman, Garza, Navarro and Soraiano, combined with the additions of Kottaras, Ruggiano, Wright , Strop and Arietta, and that RP dude from Toronto, the Cubs are actually far worse off than last year's team as it stands now. Good day.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Good point. They did not improve at the winter meetings. I would argue it doesn't matter, but we disagree.

    A closer would make a difference. Where are they going to get a closer? If the solution is not on the team and they do not sign one, then they trade for one?

    Have to agree a .300 hitter would make a difference. Where are you suggesting this .300 hitter come from? Since you did NOT suggest signing one, then a trade?

    You do not need to get "Bill James" on me as I have a degree in math and statistics.

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    In reply to ccia:

    Does it really matter how you acquire players to make your team better? Certainly there are better options available than Kevin Gregg as a closer through trade or free agency or the four stooges who will be patrolling the OF for the Cubs this year.

    See now we are off topic. slightly. I said the Cubs failed at the winter meetings because they did not address any team needs. You are asking me where these players are coming from. That is the job of the front office. Now I am as much of a proponent as anybody for a youth movement, but if you can improve the team without sacrificing youth and without embarrassing long term contracts then you should do that.

    Look what Washington gave up for Doug Fister. The Cubs couldn't have matched or beat that? They need a fifth starter. Fister would slot in as a #1 and move everybody down.

    They could have signed or traded for any number of closers. But even if .300 hitters and .800 OPS batters or dependable relief pitching or a fifth starter were unavailable or if their asking prices in free agency were prohibitive, there were still moves to be made that could have helped the team in the short term.

    Again, the Cubs may make those moves. I said that at the Winter Meetings they were losers for having not made any attempt to make their club better.

    And hey, kudos on the degree. I love math. I traded options for eleven years. I see numbers and can immediately calculate probability in my head. But if you know math and you know statistics then why say "collectively [those laundry list items are] not going to make a step change improvement to the team"?

    Absolutely those changes would.

    Again, the Cubs are losers coming out of the winter meetings because they did nothing to improve a team that was stripped of any remaining impact talent at the trade deadline last year. They have four potential impact players: Samardzjia, Castro and Rizzo, all coming off subpar years with downward trending indicators; and Castillo, who despite one full season still represents a significant risk for regression because he offers is too small of a sample size to make a fully accurate prediction going forward.

  • Very well written article John. Based on a lot of the points you make, I kind of wish they would just lock him up for the 5 years.
    I was talking with a guy from my area who scouts locally for the Padres. I asked him about Samardzija and why teams would value him, his stats have been very up and down.
    He made the point that Jeff had two complete games last year, where he was throwing 97mph in the 9th inning, with as good if not better stuff than he started the game. That is a rare thing to find in baseball, and tells you he has the ability and skill set to develop into an ace type of starter. Doesn't mean he ever will, but he has the goods to become that. Very few starters who you can project that.

  • Yes...and some scouts privately will tell you this. I've talked to people who like him a great deal and others don't see him as more than a #3 who eats innings. The scouting end of the equation is always difficult. You'll get a pretty nice range of opinion. If we were to do a pure statistical projection based on Samardzija's age and past performance, I'd more than likely would have traded him for the lesser package described above. But given the rarity of Samardzija's stuff and stamina, I think the Cubs need to find out if there's still another leap forward in him.

  • I'm a long time reader, first time poster. I'd like to thank all the writers and commenters, this is my one stop shop for Cubs news and maybe the only place on the Internet where it's worthwhile to read the comments section.
    Someone above mentioned the Fister trade. I've got a ton of free time (I also work in an options pit), and after scouring the Internet I can't find any news on how the Cubs didn't top that offer.
    Seems like a fair number of people here have some contacts in baseball. Can anyone explain how our front office, which I trust a great deal, dropped the ball there?
    Certainly Detroit must have wanted to maximize the return. Is it possible they just took the first offer to come along?
    This is the first time I've felt let down by the front office that was supposed to have super powers and take care of me.
    Now I know how my kids feel when I wake up after a night of too much whiskey.

  • In reply to supertecmo:

    Haha! A whiskey man and a Cubs fan. You'll fit right in.

    From what I understand, the Cubs could have topped the Fister trade. They considered it a non-factor in their own trade negotiations even though the pitchers are similar in terms of value.

    The difference may have been Detroit, who is looking to shed salary because of their own hangover following the 2011-2012 binge spending. They're now concerned about keeping Scherzer and Cabrera. Fister freed up some money, as did the Fielder deal earlier.

    The other explanation is that the Tigers could have been a lot higher on Robbie Ray than other teams but even then I can't see it as enough.

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