Cubs News and Notes: Wrigley update, Soler, Tanaka, Olt, ZiPS, MLB Draft, and Podcasts

Cubs News and Notes: Wrigley update, Soler, Tanaka, Olt, ZiPS, MLB Draft, and Podcasts
Arismendy Alcantara

It's a busy day and we're a little late with our usual Monday morning news and notes because of the coverage of Baseball Prospectus' Top 101 list.  There's a lot to catch up on, so let's get started...

Wrigley Renovation Saga

Chicago Crain has an update on the Wrigley renovations and it appears the Cubs are moving forward.  They applied for a permit on the RF sign that according to the author is, " an action that almost certainly will set off a legal war with neighboring rooftop club owners."  The Cubs would rather come to an agreement but they need to act, according to a team spokesman.

The rooftops response?

"This is an unfortunate turn of events because our hope was to find a solution to this matter. Rooftop owners believe any blockage of our views violates the contract we have with the owners of the Cubs. We have instructed our legal team to proceed accordingly," said Ryan McLaughlin, Wrigleyville Rooftops Association.

A predictable response and once again I'm unsympathetic. I understand the value of contracts but at some point you have to renegotiate and work something out instead of hiding behind it all the time.

Boycott the rooftops!

More Prospects: Soler just misses OF list

If you've been following the position-by-position rankings by MLB.com, you may have noticed Soler was omitted from the top 10 list.  It turns out he just missed the cutoff:

Soler’s huge raw power earned him a nine-year, $30 million contract after he defected from Cuba. He also can hit for average and play a fine right field, though scouts say he needs to play with more consistent effort.

Tanaka contract looking risky for the Yankees

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote an excellent analysis of the Yankees over-payment for Masahiro Tanaka's services.  His last paragraph articulates much of what I've been trying to say,

I see a lot of ways this contract can go badly for New York, and very few ways in which this contract is likely to have been better than just going after a couple of the mid-tier free agents for the same total cost. The Yankees should absolutely put a high price on their own marginal wins, but in doing so, it’s hard to justify going into a season with so many weak spots when there were upgrades available that ended up in other cities. If we’re going to play the “it’s the Yankees, who cares about the money?” card, then we have to answer why they still have so many holes on their roster, and why this still doesn’t look like one of the five best teams in the American League...

But they don’t have unlimited funds, and we shouldn’t pretend that they do. In reality, the Yankees chose Tanaka over other players, and are going to go into 2014 with a flawed roster because they allocated so much of their money to outbidding everyone for Tanaka’s services. At this price, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a decision they came to regret, and maybe sooner than later.

The Yankees have multiple holes and could have gotten two or three pitchers for the price of Tanaka.  Let's face it, they're set up to win in the short term and Tanaka's value is largely as a long term guy.  In the short term, however, he may not add enough to vault the Yankees back into the playoffs.  They are not in the position to set their sights on just one player to put them back on top.

Cubs Inbox with Carrie Muskat

Carrie Muskat answers a variety of questions, including who will play 3B for the Cubs this year, questions on Darwin Barney, Justin Ruggiano, Jorge Soler, and the Cubs need for speed.

Mike Olt

Speaking of Mike Olt, Sahadev Sharma does an excellent interview with him for Bleacher Nation.  It answers a lot of questions about his health/eye issues.

ZiPS Projections and Comps

I've been referring a lot to Steamer projections but in the future you'll also hear me refer to ZiPS from Dan Szymborski and the PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus.

ZiPS is out today and you'll want to take a look at it as there are some interesting projections for a couple of Cubs prospects.  Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez project as two of the Cubs top 5 players -- for 2014.  We shouldn't be surprised by Baez, who is comped to Cal Ripken.  He projects as a 2.2 WAR player with a line of .246/.295/.486 with what would be a team leading 28 HRs (one more than Rizzo's 27).

Alcantara projects even better at 2.4 WAR and a line of .255/.307/.405 with 12 HRs and 25 SBs.

Also encouraging is a bounce back for both Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.  They rate as the top two Cubs players in terms of WAR, both project to be around 3 win players -- about that of a solid 1st division regular.

Interesting comps: Castro's comp is former Cub killer Rennie Stennett.  Rizzo's comp is former Cub Carlos Pena.  Nate Schierholtz comps to former twin and current Cubs asst. GM Randy Bush while Ryan Sweeney's comp is Davey Martinez.

As far as pitchers go, Jeff Samardzija is easily the Cubs top projected pitcher for 2014 and most valuable player overall with a 3.2 WAR.  They project him to have a 3.56 ERA (3.43 FIP) for the season.  Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson project as roughly average starters.

As for the younger players, Justin Grimm and Kyle Hendricks top the list though both project as roughly 1 win players for 2014.  Grimm projects slightly better than the two with a 4.27 ERA (4.00 FIP) while Hendricks projects to have a 4.46 ERA (4.35 FIP).

The most interesting comp for the Cubs pitchers?  Edwin Jackson's comp is another former Cub, Jamie Navarro.

MLB Draft: White Sox have multiple options at #3 -- one pick ahead of the Cubs

Colleen Kane of the Tribune writes about the Sox options with the 3rd pick and she lists East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman, Texas high school right-hander Tyler Kolek, North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner, California high school outfielder/catcher Alex Jackson and shortstop Jacob Gatewood and Vanderbilt right-hander Tyler Beede.

Assuming Rodon goes first and Hoffman second, the Sox are the team that controls the Cubs pick here.  My thought on the White Sox here is that they'll go for a high upside high school bat and two players make a ton of sense for them.  The first is Alex Jackson.  The Sox have an even bigger hole at catcher than the Cubs organization and Jackson would be an impact player at the position.  The question is whether he can stick there, but for the Sox that is less of a question because they lack position player prospects overall.  Jackson is a good athlete who can move to either 3B or a corner OF position.  The Sox have needs at those positions too, particularly 3B. In that light, Jacob Gatewood also makes a lot of sense.  He may have more bat potential than Jackson, but his positional flexibility isn't as good.  I think if the Sox think that Jackson has a decent shot of sticking at catcher, he could well be the best choice for them.

As for the Cubs, I don't think they have the same thoughts on this pick.  My guess is that they'll go for either Tyler Beede or Trea Turner in this position.   Of course, much is to be decided and if either player breaks out in a big way, it could force the Sox hand and they could snatch one of those two players up.

 Podcast Links

I've been doing a few radio appearances and podcasts of late and we'll be doing more for the prospect lists.  Two of those podcasts are now available.  As I've often mentioned, I never listen to myself on these things and once even left the room and went for a walk when I heard myself come on the radio (I would have turned the station but my wife was there and she wanted to hear it).  Call it a quirk, I guess.  Anyway, if you want to listen, here are a couple of links.

  • Ivy Envy with Corey Fineran.  Corey does an excellent job with his podcasts and it was great to be on.
  • ChicagoLand Radio with Dan "Danimal Planet" McGuiness.  This was my first interview with Dan and it was a lot of fun.

I will link others as they become available, including a podcast with Joe Ostrowski of The Score 670 and one with Jason Thomas, also of ChicagoLand radio.

Your feedback is welcome.  Good or bad,  I"ll have to take your word for it.

 

 

 

 

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  • fb_avatar

    I think you and I actually disagree on this, John, but I think the Yankees would have been better off matching the Mariners for Cano's services and filling in center, catcher, and the rotation from the second tier of free agents. Same money, stronger team, more draft picks.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree with you on that Mike, I don't see why they didn't try harder to sign Cano, politics I suppose.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'd actually agree with you on that. I do like the McCann signing though. That was my favorite one for them.

  • They should have fired Dale if for nothing else, beating up on the White Sox and losing out on the #3 pick to them, ha ha.

  • In reply to peoria cubfan:

    I've never been so sorry to beat those guys.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I thoroughly enjoyed beating the Sox all four games last year. The value of that was: PRICELESS Let's do it again this year. Don't worry,Theo will get an elite prospect at #4.

  • curious for anyones opinion on this,

    i think that if baez moves it should be to third, however if olt wins the 3b job out of camp and when baez comes up they put him at 2b do u put bryant in RF when he comes up or do u move olt to the OF and put bryant at 3rd?

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Good problems.

    I think Bryant goes to the OF. Baez's best position is 3B but if Olt becomes the player scouts once thought he could be, then the Cubs may have to decide between Starlin Castro and Arismendy Alcantara (with Baez staying to SS if they trade Castro or going to 2B if they keep Castro)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i think bryant goes to the OF as well. Im curious though, the front office talks a lot about getting more lefthanded that i cant really see an infield of olt-castro-baez. i think alcantara almost has to get involved somehow because of his ability to hit from both sides of the plate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Again - there are far worse problems to have than an overabundance of ML-quality SS/3B/2B players with the collective upside of Olt, Castro, Acantara, Baez and Bryant,.... not to mention Christian Villanueva.

    You keep a set of them to stock the infield,.... you maybe shift one of them to corner OF,... and you trade the surplus for the next 'crop' of prospects.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Exactly. You want those kinds of "problems". It gives you all kinds of options.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Question: Have the Cubs, in recent memory, ever had a glut of young players at any one position? Ones that we traded to fill other holes?

    I can't think of EVER having that "problem".

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Prior, Zambrano, Cruz in the early 2000s. They didn't trade Cruz, but they didn't really have room for him in the rotation once Zambrano beat him out.

    We also had Kelton, Hinske and a couple of other guys at 3B in the system around that time. They were willing to deal Hinske because they thought Kelton would be the long term solution.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I can't either. They've had decent systems, but never this kind of depth.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Zonk:

    Palmeiro/Grace

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Olt is a place holder/bench guy for me. Bryant in right, maybe left. Baez at third. Alcantara at second.

    Should Junior Lake have a better year than he is projected to while playing good D, that will have an interesting effect on where everyone ends up. Plus one of these guys is bound to miss significant time in 2014.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Agreed - Lake is kind of a wild-card.

    If he hits similarly well to how he did last season (maybe a bit fewer Ks) and can play average or better defense in LF or CF (especially CF) it gives the team less pressure to bring up Almora before he's really ready,....

    And - having a good defense/offense guy with the potential of Lake around gives the team yet another piece of surplus that can either be used on the team (and on the cheap for a couple of years), or that can be used as a trade-chip for some other unfilled niche.

  • fb_avatar

    Beede or Turner? Good choices to have..

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Indeed.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I really, really hope we have that choice.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If we don't then that means Hoffman falls in our lap. Kind of hard to lose with #4. Would loved to have had #3 but I think #4 is a great spot. Would have been much more worried if they had the 5th pick. Great players still but it gets a little dicey at that point. Of course, we know things will change at least a little over the next 4-5 months.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Or it could mean, my personal fear, that Rodon, Beede, and Hoffman are the first three picks. Then we get a choice between the high floor college bat (Turner) or the high ceiling high school arm (Kolek).

    But, as you say, we all had Appel, Stanek, and Manaea as 1-2-3 at this point last year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Kind of like Bryant or Gray

  • Hopefully the Sox don't draft Turner or Beede. My guess is they go with Kolek or Jackson (If the draft were today) Maybe even Gatewood.

  • John, thanks for the link to the Bleacher Nation article on Olt. It is very exciting to think about the possibilities if Olt can have a spring that has him starting at 3B.

  • In reply to 1945AD:

    Olt's success would certainly open up a lot of options for the Cubs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes, it would. For one, I feel like if Olt, Baez, and Alcantara all hit, somebody is going to get traded for pitching. And that doesn't even include what-if Villanueva hits too, and if Bryant stays at 3B. And Castro recovers.

    We could have a real log-jam of talent on the left side of the infield, if things break our way (crosses fingers)....

  • I forget where, but I heard somewhere that the Sox would be looking for pitching in the draft.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I believe that is a smokescreen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There's not a lot of incentive for teams to put out smoke screens in the MLB draft, let alone 6 months before the draft. There's no trading of picks, so it's not like anyone can trade up in front of the Sox to get their guy. And it's not like other teams are going to pick a pitcher because they think the Sox are going to take a hitter or vice versa.

    Sure, Hahn could be messing with people just to mess with them, but the Cubs (for instance) have been fairly transparent about their draft preferences and have stuck to those preferences.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    The Cubs didn't go out and say they wanted Appel or Bryant or Gray. Speculation from informed parties helped us figure that out. The Cubs didn't say anything about their preferences.

    If the Sox announced their preferences, then it's b.s. because they have no incentive to do that. They have nothing to gain from doing so and even if what they have to lose is minimal, say drawing attention to certain players, that very small risk is still more to lose then anything they have to possibly gain from announcing their intentions.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, they didn't specifically name any single player, but they have been vocal that the best bets at the top of the draft are typically position players.

    I really don't see what they have to lose by saying something as simple as "we'll probably take a pitcher" in a draft where the strength at the top is pitching. It's not going to change what the Marlins or Astros do with their picks. Does it make it slightly more unpredictable for the teams behind them if he's using it as a smokescreen so that maybe they'd make a mistake? I mean, I guess it makes it a little more unpredictable, but I can't imagine those teams are going to adjust their preparation around what the Sox are going to say.

    And, of course, Hahn didn't really say anything too out there. That 4 of the top 5 picks do appear to be pitchers right now and that their pick will "probably" be spent on pitching.

    I could be wrong, but I think Hahn was saying this at the White Sox convention. If so, there seems to be very little benefit to me about lying about the direction they're leaning.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Well, let's just say I am not leaving everything to imagination. I do hear industry whispers from time to time and I have reason to believe otherwise. I'll leave it at that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I do not hear industry whispers, but I'll confidently throw against the wall that I think they'll take a pitcher. ;)

    Long way to go, though, who knows who will emerge between now and June.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Yes, anything can happen from now until then.

  • fb_avatar

    Many answers will come this year but at the same time could raise more questions. This has got to be the last winter we just have to wait for the prospects to mature.

    The whole key for this thing to me is the play of Mike Olt. If he is the real deal and can nail down the 3B job, then the shuffle can start.

    I think there is a very good chance that Castro may be the odd man out. No matter how much I love the guy it just makes sense if Castro is used to get that #1 TOR guy. Alcantara is our 2B of the future. His speed and switch hitting is a big need for a Cubs team that desperately needs more lefties in the lineup and a spark plug that gets things started for the big boppers of Rizzo, Bryant and Baez.

    I know, I know..... Here we go with the trade Castro mess once again. But if we agree that Baez is about equal to Castro as far as defense then wouldn't it make sense to trade Castro and his team friendly contract for that #1 TOR pitcher we need?

    Damn Yankees. you just had to mess things up!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It makes sense in a pefect world, but I don't think castro is going to net us a TOR pitcher. I love castro too but he is going to have to have a few troy tulo type seasons to get that kind of haul.Remember there is a player that always comes available that we don't see coming. I would not trade castro for the sake of alcantara, because I feel castro is the better player. To me talent out weighs left vs right, lets first field the best nine guys.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I disagree. Castro could bring in a TOR pitcher in a trade assuming he returns to form. He is 24 years old, 2 time All-star, cost controlled SS, no health problems. Heck how does that not say TOR pitcher? Remember Theo is good at making trades. I like the kid but if he brings in a TOR pitcher or multiple top prospects for the rotation, I trade him.

  • In reply to John57:

    Castro alone won't get you a TOR pitcher, Teams just don't give up those arms. I am confident that castro will return to form because I think he is very talented but like I said teams are holding on to there prospects.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Teams also don't give up All-Star shortstops. If Castro returns to form and the Cubs look to trade him, he absolutely could bring back a TOR pitcher.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I agree that Olt could be the key this offseason. If he can revert to his old form that made him one of the top prospects in the game, he pushes everyone else to other positions and provides other depth for us.

    I disagree on Castro. If he doesn't rebound, he has no value other than a throw in piece. If he does go back to his form, than why would we want to trade a young, cheap building block.

    I think Baez would have much more value than Castro.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Baez and Bryant should be the guys that push players to other positions. The Cubs will figure out where they want those guys to play and then fill in around them with everyone else. Even if Olt establishes himself at the MLB level the Cubs aren't going to move either Bryant or Baez off of 3B if they think that is the best position for them. If Bryant can play MLB quality 3B, the only guy that could dislodge him from that opportunity is Baez.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    As seankl says, Castro will not get us a TOR pitcher. The players that get you that kind of return are the ones that you don't want to give up.

    Baez or Bryant, if traded, could get us back a stud TOR prospect. That's pretty much what it would take......which is why those trades rarely happen

  • In reply to Zonk:

    A good example of what you mean is when the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez to get Josh Beckett. Other players involved, including Anibal Sanchez and Mike Lowell, but shows that gettng a good young SP is very difficult to do. Extremely expensive.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Also an example that Theo won't hesitate to trade a top prospect in order to bring back impact talent, if the timing is right. In that particular case, they don't win the '07 WS without Beckett (or Lowell)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    True.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think Theo was the GM when they made that trade. I could be wrong, but I think that was during his short 'departure' from the Sox. I thought I read that Theo said he wouldn't have made that trade if he were at the helm. I could be wrong though.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Theo became Red Sox GM on November 25, 2002. The trade was completed exactly 3 years later to the day, November 25, 2005. Odd.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Good catch....I looked it up, you're right. Someone else at the helm

  • In reply to Zonk:

    ??? No, Theo was at the helm when Hanley Ramirez was traded to the Marlins as you originally stated.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Very realistic and intelligent analysis. To get a TOR pitcher will have to hurt. It won't be getting rid of guys we don't love for someone we do love. Our best hope is the draft (possible) or internal development. This is why I hope the W Sox do not select a pitcher.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    If the Cubs are dealing from a position(s) of strength, it shouldn't hurt much. Say that Alcantara and Olt grab 2b and 3b, we could still have Castro, Vogelbach, Villiaueva, and one of Soler/Bryant to trade for a TOR and/or left side corner outfielder. If Bryant/Soler and Olt/Villanueva are hitting for power we could move Baez. Only hurts if there is no replacement.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    But we do love Castro. He has tremendous value and he will bring back a TOR pitcher. But the TOR won't be as young or as injury free as Castro. He probably will cost more in salary but he still will be a TOR guy.

  • I think signing 2 of Garza, Santana or Jimenez would've added more wins than 1 Tanaka for the Yankees, but I could be mistaken.

    I know they have Tanaka, Ellsberg, Beltran, McCann, Roberts, Kelly Johnson... Not sure if I'm missing anyone... But as much as they have spent this offseason they have also lost Marian Rivera, Robinson Cano, Andy Pettite, A-Rod and Granderson...

    Also factor older guys like Jeter, Soriano, Kuroda, Beltran being another year older... And many health concerns regarding guys like Brian Roberts, Jeter, Texeira, McCann and Beltran... All have dealt with plenty of injuries.

    They are all but a given.

  • With the #4 pick and a potential top 10 prospect for Shark, our farm should be good again. It is possible we could graduate Baezand Bryant, and still have a top 3 farm!
    Also I would not be suprised if next year we have a pitching-heavy top 10. Edwards and Johnson should be there still, along with possibly Beade (4th pick) and Stroman (shark bait), plus guys like Blackburn and Zastryzny.

  • If Baez and Bryant are out of the system, it is still possible that we would still have a top 3 system. It is a long shot, but next year we will have track records for Eloy Jimenez, Gleybar, Galindo, Tseng and others. In addition, some of the plethora of power arm college pitchers drafted in the last two years should begin to separate themselves from the pack. And finally, there are future international players to be signed, as well as the 2014 draft led by the #4 pick.

    And all that assumes that there are no Samardzija (or whoever) trades that bring in young talent.

  • Roof Top owners, what a joke. I'd settle and block 'em out completely. I'm sure they will recoup all that money back.

    I agree, a boycott is definitely in order.

  • If Barney bats .260 - .275 this year do we even consider him to be apart of the future or is he just someone filling up a short term roster spot no matter what? Also kinda wonder about this question on the draft. Bare with me, it's all hypothetical but if the draft was tomorrow and this is what the board looked like what do you think the Cubs would do?

    Cubs Player Rating Draft Board Draft
    1. Rodon 1. Astros - Rodon
    2. Hoffman 2. Marlins - Hoffman
    3. Beede 3. Sox - Beede
    4. Turner 4. Cubs take ...?
    5. Kolek
    6. Any other pitchers

    Do they reach for Kolek or some other pitcher or do they take turner or another position player if that's what is highest on their board?

  • In reply to INgold91:

    that got messed, it was supposed to be separated sorry.

    Cubs Player Rating Draft Board
    1. Rodon
    2. Hoffman
    3. Beede
    4. Turner
    5. Kolek
    6. Any other pitchers

    Actual Draft
    1. Astros - Rodon
    2. Marlins - Hoffman
    3. Sox - Beede
    4. Cubs take ...?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to INgold91:

    No because Barney would still be a glorified utility man. He'll be 2nd time arbitration eligible next winter and a waste of money at that pay scale.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Oh I don't know about that. If Barney hits .275 with .325 OBP and has GG defense, I think that is pretty darn good. That is not a utility man.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    Congratulations, you have just described Rey Sanchez.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I think you are either over estimating Barney's or under estimating Sanchez's raw sexual magnetism.
    However, Barney makes up for it with nicknamification.

  • In reply to INgold91:

    If the Cubs weren't overflowing with high ceiling IF prospects Barney would stick around if the bat showed anything. But the Cubs have so many infielders that can hit and play defense that I can't see Barney here in the long term. He could potentially stick around through the end of 2015 in a backup/utility/mentor role, but I don't see anything beyond that. Even in the unlikely event that Baez/Alcantara/Darvill/Bruno/Amaya eventually all bust, they are at least going to need playing time in order to determine that so Barney's days as a starter are numbered.

  • fb_avatar

    With regards to the third pick, rumor has it the White Sox are scouting Ron Schuelers's other daughter.

  • Question for john or anyone, Who has more power javier baez or hanley ramirez ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    Baez

    Baez isn't a guy that has good power for a SS. He is a guy that has good power for anywhere on the diamond. 40 HR potential.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Baez has more raw power, but we have to see if it translates to games.

  • fb_avatar

    "Let's face it, they're set up to win in the short term"

    We've been saying that of the Yankees for the past 40 years, going back to the days of Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson. This is their model - when the current crop of veterans ages out, they'll just buy some more. They don't have lean years the way other clubs have lean years, and they do not rebuild.

    Anyways I guess we now know where the Tanaka money is going to go - the legal fund! Only half serious, but is it a coincidence that they applied for this permit right after they found an extra $120 mil in the bank?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    The 80s/Early 90s were lean years for the Yankees. They tried to buy teams and didn't develop enough of their own players. They didn't rebuild their dynasty until they rebuilt their farm system and brought up the Jeter/Soriano/Rivera/Pettite/etc. core.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mjvz:

    5 "lean" years 1988 - 92. No losing seasons in the past 20 years; apart from those 5 years even their losing seasons were barely below .500.
    It's simply a different model than most other teams, although the dodgers, angels and rangers may be following that line now. My point is, don't expect them to be dumpster-diving for DFA's any time soon, they'll be fine now AND in the future.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    They won't sustain success. And yes, it's a different model, but 89 wins in the AL East doesn't cut it in the Bronx. They bought their players, they expect a title and I for one, will be very surprised if they get one soon. And if they don't win a title in the next 2-3 years, which I think is likely, it's going to get even tougher over the next decade.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "Though does protest to much?"

  • In reply to SKMD:

    The Yankees and now maybe the Dodgers are on a different financial scale than any other team. Even other 'big market' teams. New York and LA have the largest population bases and TV markets and the Yankees also have a worldwide brand to go along with it. If there are any teams that can sustain such a model it is those two. And I think they can have middling success with it. I think they can always be in the 80+ win territory by doing that, and it will get them into the playoffs off and on by doing so, and once you get into the playoffs anything can happen, but you can't sustain a dynasty purely through payroll.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mjvz:

    "but you can't sustain a dynasty purely through payroll."

    but - you can, and they have, and they will. I'm not advocating the cubs go in that direction, but it's whistling in the dark to keep saying this can't go on for ever, the Yankees will collapse any year now

  • In reply to SKMD:

    They haven't won a championship without a homegrown core. They have stayed competitive and hey, it may only take a couple of good young players to come through, and that could happen at any time so I'm not saying the Yanks couldn't uncover a gem or two soon.

    But let me put it this way, the Yankees just spent half a billion dollars this offseason and they still have a starting lineup that projects to have Kelly Johnson at 3B, Brian Roberts at 2B (.249 in 77g last year, the most he has played since 2009), a 40 year old SS that hit .190 in 17 games last year, a 1B that hit .151 in 15 games last year and David Phelps as a 5th starter. I smell championship.

  • I agree with bocabobby above. Getting a TOR arm is proving more and more difficult in this new CBA. Thanks, Yank-mes.

    One of my immediate reactions after the Cubs lost out on Tanaka was to think that this increased the chances of the Cubs taking a pitcher, no matter what, in the 2014 draft. As we've found out, it's so difficult to get a TOR pitcher. And, as we've always known, you need at least one ace to compete for a WS.

    The Cubs passed on Jonathan Gray with the 2nd overall last year. Verlander was picked with the 2nd overall pick in 2004. They passed on Giolito with the 6th pick the year before. Kershaw was taken with the 7th pick in 2006. You can't equate Gray with Verlander and Kershaw with Giolito. The question marks on both of those players are still many, but, looking back, would drafting those players been a worthy gamble? With the make-up of this team right now which BP top 101 list would you rather have?

    Baez (4), Bryant (17), Almora (25) and Soler (45) or Baez (4), Giolito (13), Gray (16) and Soler (45)? There is something to said for balance.

    I've been a fan of the idea of gathering value-based, impact players no matter what the position (BPA) and evening out the imbalance via trade later. But as John just pointed out, the team trading for the pitcher is often giving up more in terms of value. That begs the question, if your org need is great enough, when do you abandon the strict adherence to BPA draft strategy in order to roll the dice on the best pitcher available turning into the ace that you need?

    Are pitchers really that risky to draft? Is there truth to TINSTAPP? If Beede doesn't make improvements to his control this spring, is it so unlikely that he couldn't still as a pro? Kolek's a high school power arm which many assign a very high risk to. At what point does org need make it worth taking that risk?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Building around prospects is always risky. Building around pitching prospects even more so. I mean we all remember the 2000s dynasty we built with Wood/Prior/Zambrano/Clement/Cruz right? Wood, Prior and Cruz were all BA top 10 prospects in all of baseball within a 5 year period. That got us a 2 year window, and then a bunch of towel drills. And how could we forget the Wilson/Pulsipher/Isringhausen dynasty the Mets built in the 90s?

    Building around position players gives you a longer window in which you can take your shots at acquiring pitchers at the right times. A Baez, Bryant, Almora core could provide a 8-10 year window, in which time we could rebuild a pitching staff twice.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I wasn't asserting that pitching prospects were less risky than position players. I agree with you on that. I was asking a question about balance.

    You say you could rebuild a pitching staff twice in an 8-10 year window. Okay, without using top 10 draft picks to get an arm and with no true TOR pitcher becoming available in FA (and even when one does having to outbid everyone to get him), how are you going to rebuild a staff twice in that time. Trades and getting lucky with hitting on a lower round draft pick are the only two options I see. But if it's your position players that you draft with your top 10 picks that have given your team this theoretical window, do you trade them to get the pitching you need? With the rarity of true TOR pitching, how much will you have to overpay to get them?

    The question I'm truly asking (and I don't know the answer) is:

    Is the risk of drafting a pitcher with a top 7ish pick greater than the price of trading for one who has already established himself as an ace in the major leagues and is still in his prime or pre-prime years?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Quedub:

    Some folks were saying that trading Castro wouldn't yield a TOR arm that we need. I would disagree with that wholeheartedly. If Castro bounces back to the type of #'s that this article John just wrote, he would be very good trade bait, imo.

    I also like the way that Theo went with a best player available approach to the draft. But let's face it, Theo has a much better track record of drafting position players that TOR arms. There is nothing wrong with that. But at some point you need to fill in those missing pieces.

    Those pieces were acquired in free agency in the "old days." But with more and more teams locking up that talent when they are young, the only other way to do it is by using your players in a trade.

    So the question then arises. Which guy do we trade to go get that arm we need?

    Not really important going into 2014. But the need grows more as these young guys work themselves up to Wrigley. And as the need grows the more desperate the Cubs may get to acquire a TOR arm.

    A bounce back season for Castro sets the ball a rolling in my original post but with one caveat. Olt needs to secure the 3B job. This allows Baez to stay at SS and Bryant the ability to lock down RF.

    Then the pieces start to come together as Alcantara takes the 2B job and Almora makes his presence known in CF.

    LF is waiting for Soler or another LH bat. Too bad Vogelbach can't play the OF!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think your vision of how things work out is a good one. I like it. And I keep Vogelbach around in case a couple things happen. 1 Rizzo has health problems or 2. NL goes DH. And even if those things don't happen he would be a great bat to pinch hit on the bench.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I'm not saying pitching should be ignored, and if they think there is a guy that is worthy of the 4th pick this year I have no issue with them taking one because I believe the offensive core of this team is going to be in place in two years. I don't believe in getting pitching before hitting because pitchers breakdown more frequently and more quickly than hitters decline. TOR arms can be found later in the draft or in international FA or via trade for veterans or even occasionally via FA, not just in the top 10 of the amateur draft. Only 4 of the top 20 pitchers in WAR last year were top 10 picks. So it is not the only way to get it.

    I don't think TOR pitching is going to be as rare as people think though. MLB is in the midst of or possibly just the dawn of a pitching era. Call it a 'clean' era, or just an unconscious response to the steroid era, whatever. Baseball tends to be cyclical and I think the pendulum has swung to pitching right now. I think power is going to more difficult to find in the near future.

    How many guys are there around baseball that throw upper 90s as starters? I bet it is more than at any time in baseball history. Meanwhile, we are creeping back toward offensive numbers that haven't been seen since the pitcher friendly 80s when having a couple of guys that hit 25+ HRs in your lineup meant you had a lot of power. There were two guys that hit more than 36 HRs last year in the majors. Think about that. The Cubs have two guys with the potential to do that year in and year out for the next decade in Baez and Bryant.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm going to use old school stats to further my point from above because I think it makes a profound impact when looked at in comparison to the type of offense fans have come to expect in the last 2 decades.

    The NL HR leaders last year:
    1. Alvarez and Goldschmidt 36 (the lowest league leading total since 1992)
    3. Bruce 30
    Nobody else hit more than 30. The Cubs may get that from both their SS and 3B in the near future.

    No one had 200 hits in the NL. Only 6 guys had 100+ RBIs.

    Meanwhile there were 9 starters in the NL with an ERA of 3.00 or below.

    I think the Cubs are going to be in a wonderful position moving forward with their potential lineup.

  • I don't understand this comment at all:

    "A predictable response and once again I'm unsympathetic. I understand the value of contracts but at some point you have to renegotiate and work something out instead of hiding behind it all the time."

    The Cubs and the rooftop owners entered into an arms length contract for consideration, end of story. Just because you think the rooftop owner got the better end of the deal, doesn't mean it isn't valid and it is ridiculous to try to imply that they are hiding behind a contract that is valid and enforceable.

    Imagine if you contracted with a bank for a mortgage at 4% for 30 years and then after 5 years the interest rates went up to 10% and the bank wasn't making as much money off of your loan as they could. Is it your obligation to refinance with favorable rates for the bank? The rooftop owners have a contract and don't owe the Cubs anymore than what the contract states.

    It is beginning to look, more and more like the Cubs made a deal they regret and now don't want to live with it. There is a simple solution for being in that type of situation and that is to negotiate your way out of the contract or live with the contract.

  • In reply to Cubz99:

    None of that matters. The only thing the matters to me as a Cubs fan is that they are put in the best position to maximize revenue from their ballpark. I have no sympathy for the rooftops who only care about their bottom line and providing entertainment with someone else's product. If you respect that, that's fine. I only care about the product on the field. I choose not to support a business that it at odds with what I value.

    Don't confuse for a moment that just because two outside parties make a deal that I have any obligation to support them.

  • David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 9m
    **EXCLUSIVE** A Look Inside the Chicago Cubs Contract With the Rooftops. A MUST READ. http://bit.ly/1f4NdUa

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Finally. As always, the actual language makes a huge difference. In this case:

    "Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this agreement, including this section."

    That is big trouble for the rooftop owners depending on how they defined expansion in the agreement. As Kaplan points out the city called the addage of signage and other items an "expansion" of Wrigley Field which I'm sure was no accident.

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out, but if I were the Cubs I would push the issue.

  • In reply to Cubz99:

    I think they've been trying to be respectful in their negotiations and trying to work out a deal. They would rather not go to court, but if they do, I believe they think they will win. I think it's coming to that until the rooftops realize they have a whole lot to lose here.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    If I'm a rooftop owner, I'm settling. Based off of the language provided by Kaplan, that case looks like a huge loser. Could lose your business and thousands of dollars in attorneys fees.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Makes a lot of sense and I like the Cubs chances in litigation. They've met their 8 year obligation and the rooftops know that. I think a settlement will be near and this will finally be behind us. I can't imagine the rooftops would push this through a drawn out court case and spend the money knowing it doesn't look good for them.

  • Why is Bryant always pegged for right field rather than left?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to wastrel:

    Strong arm and a predicted arrival ahead of Soler. Whichever comes up first would likely be inserted into RF, with the second moving to LF

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I think they both would be good RFs. Since Bryant is going to get up first he gets it. But it could go the other way. It doesn't really matter.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I think either w/b fine... but Bryants arm is a tick better. That's why he pushes Soler to LF. Ironically, Junior Lake may have the best arm in the organization, but you want his speed in CF if possible...

  • I think a lot of people are sleeping on Soler, and it's easy to lose him in the mix among Baez, Almora, & Bryant, but at this time last year some people were talking about him being the #1 Cubs prospect. Injuries of course have had a lot to do with this, especially with regards to his lack of effort concerns, IMO.

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