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.
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.
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.
Filed under: Uncategorized