Cubs Notes: 7 Cubs in top 100, Wood avoids arb, Maholm, Garza, and more

Prospect talk continues to filter in and we will have our version coming up soon.  We'll do a top 35 with video, photographs, and 8 podcasts.  We'll get some scouting information, some help from Professor Parks of Baseball Prospectus, Tim Sheridan of Boys of Spring, and Brian Bedo of MiCubs.

I should also have some podcasts up in the near future including one from my appearance on The Score with Joe Ostrowski, a podcast with Ivy Envy (they do a fantastic job with their podcasts, you should check it out), and a couple with Jason Thomas and Dan McGuiness of ChicagoLand Radio.

Our own podcast here at Cubs Den is tentatively set for mid-March.

Here are some news and notes in the meantime...

7 Cubs in top MLB.com Top 100 Prospect List

The Cubs placed 7 prospects in the top 100 list compiled by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo.  Heading the list for the Cubs was Javier Baez at #7, which is about as low as we've seen him of late.  That may be because they expect him to move off of SS to either 2B or 3B.  Kris Bryant follows closely behind at #9.  Mayo and Callis feel that Bryant will be able to hit for average and stay at 3B, which undoubtedly helps his ranking

Albert Almora is at #18 and like a lot of people who have seen him play, they laud the instincts that help play up his average tools.

C.J. Edwards is next at 42 and they see potential for a frontline starter if he can hold up physically.  Jorge Soler's stock has dropped off a bit, but he comes in at #49 to give the Cubs a 5th top 50 prospect.  They consider him a prototypical RF'er in terms of power and arm strength.  The approach is good but Mayo/Callis have some makeup concerns.

Rounding out the list is Arismendy Alcantara at 89 and Pierce Johnson at 100.  They describe Alcantara as having exciting tools with some pop and base-stealing speed while Johnson projects as a mid-rotation starter because of his stuff and feel for pitching.

The Red Sox had the most prospect on the list with 9.  In fact, Dan Kirby of Through the Fence Baseball and I were doing a little counting and it turns out that Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod are responsible for 16 of the prospects on the top 100 list.  That would be every Cubs prospect except for Baez and Alcantara; every Red Sox prospect except for Trey Ball, plus Casey Kelley, Matt Wisler, and Austin Hedges with the Padres.

Where do the Cubs go from here?

Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (subscription required) talks about some Cubs plan B options in the wake of the Yankees signing Tanaka.  Among the in-house options are Chris Rusin, Kyle Hendricks, and Carlos Villanueva.

He also wonders if the Cubs may try to bring back Paul Maholm.

You may remember I made some suggestions as well.  Mahom was among those.  I do like the idea of Bronson Arroyo on a two year deal as well while Jason Hammel may present the best value.

What is perhaps more interesting is the first wave of young arms who may get their chance.  Miles mentioned Hendricks and Rusin.  I would also add Justin Grimm, Alberto Cabrera, and perhaps later in the season, Dallas Beeler.  I'm interested to see how Beeler's extreme groundball ways can match up with a good Cubs infield defense.  He could be a sleeper as a midseason call-up.

The Cubs avoid arbitration with Travis Wood

The Cubs signed Travis Wood for $3.9M, avoiding arbitration.  Wood had something of a breakout season, finishing 9-12 with a 3.11 ERA (3.89 FIP).

The Cubs still hope to sign Wood to a long term deal, though that seemingly has been put on the backburner for now.

Brewers set to sign Matt Garza?

This may disappoint some who were hoping the Cubs would re-unite with the talented starter, especially since he wasn't attached to a comp pick.  In all honesty, I never got the impression it was even a consideration.  A while back, one industry source told me that there are questions as to why such a talented pitcher has been so well-traveled.  It's interesting that the Cubs didn't make an effort to bring him back.  I'm not going to speculate as to why but some have said there are still concerns about his elbow.  For what it's worth, the Brewers said nothing came up in his physical and they have no such concerns.  There has, however, been a hold up.  If Garza does indeed sign, it will be the 5th team in 8 seasons for him.

 

 

 

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  • When people try to poo-poo the Cubs farm system by saying prospects often don't pan out, I'd tell them to go back and look over the last several years at players ranked in the top 10. From Prospectus' list

    2011: Trout, Harper, Teheran, Chapman, Hellickson, Matt Moore
    2010 - Strasberg, Heyward, Stanton, Posey, Chapman, Feliz, Alvarez, Carlos Santana
    2009 - Wieters, Price, Bumgarner, Alvarez, Feliz, Heyward, Rasmus, Posey, Porcello
    2008 - Bruce, Bucholtz, Longoria, Kershaw, Price, Rasmus, Bailey

    For guys rated in the top 10, there is a better chance they end up being a star/very good player than a bust. People should be excited about Baez and Bryant.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    And they make it seem like all of them will bust, there are surely going to be a few busts, but there will also be guys like Beeler that could suprise.
    There is a reason why teams still pay scouts and build their farm system. It is the best way to strengthen your organization. Not to mention the depth to go out and get some help at the deadline.

  • There will also be guys that will never see a day in Cubs uniform that will benefit the Cubs greatly by being moved for major league talent. That is one thing Hendry did very well with the Cubs. Having lots of highly thought of prospects doesn't mean all of them will or even need to be starting for the Cubs in 2 years.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Baez, Bryant, and Almora have great chances of working out, imo. Almora and Bryant because they are so polished and Baez because he's so talented that I think even if he "fails" he can still hit for power from a middle infield position.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed, even if none of them become superstars, if all 3 of them can become 3+ WAR players per year on super low contracts, it makes your team a ton better because it allows you to use free agent dollars elsewhere. Its how I feel about Castro and Rizzo, they don't need to be 5-6+ WAR players, they just need to need to be 3-4 WAR players (something they are both perfectly capable of) for the Cubs to be good.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Why do I get the feeling even if Baez "failed" and we had him at 2B that he could be an even better version of Dan Uggla (circa 2006 - 2011) because of his athleticism on defense

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    That's the same feeling I get. Uggla with less walks but better defense and probably a better average.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    I don't disagree, but counterpoint....and sorry to be Debbie downer here

    6 Cubs in BA Top 100, 10 Years ago Today (before 2004 season)

    26. Angel Guzman
    56. Justin Jones
    65. Ryan Harvey
    77. Andy Sisco
    85. Felix Pie
    92. Bobbie Brownlie

    BA Top 25 Rankings, Chicago Cubs:

    2002: Juan Cruz, #6
    2003: Hee Seop Choi, #22
    2005: Brian Dopirak, #21
    2006: Felix Pie, #27 (ok 2 spots off)

    So, we Cubs fans can be forgiven for being a bit jaded

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think commercial scouting organizations are much better at what they do today. Plus again as you get further down the list, the potential for busting gets more prevalent which is why its no surprise those guys in 2004 busted out. My point was about guys in the top 10, they rarely are complete busts and are actually more likely to be star players than complete busts.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    In addition to the above list, the following additional players have made BA's Top 100, and failed to produce much at the ML level, or project to:

    Ronny Cedeno
    Mark Pawelek
    Tyler Colvin
    Josh Vitters
    Brett Jackson
    Donnie Veal
    Sean Gallagher
    Jay Jackson
    Trey McNutt

    So, that's 18 total failures in the top 100. Success? I count 5:

    Starlin Castro
    Shark
    Andrew Cashner
    Geo Soto
    Anthony Rizzo

    Even here, hard to count both Cashner and Rizzo, since we traded one for the other

    Again, I am generally optimistic, but not everyone makes it....

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    In reply to Zonk:

    The last time we had 7 players on a top 100 list? 2002:
    2. Mark Prior
    6. Juan Cruz
    40. Hee Seop Choi
    45. David Kelton
    48. Bobby Hill
    68. Nic Jackson
    80. Carlos Zambrano

    2 out of 7 aint' bad I guess; plus we flipped Bobby Hill for A-Ram, so that worked out for us, not so much for the Pirates

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    In reply to Zonk:

    That's actually a very good list there. Prior was good, just got hurt. Can't control for that. Z was a very good pitcher. Juan Cruz actually had a very nice career as a reliever from 2004 - 2012. Choi became DLee and Hill became ARam.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Zonk, do you think it's because we have drafted poorly or is it more likely we haven't had the right people in the minor leagues to develop the players we have drafted. I tend to lean towards poor development from previous regimes myself, I feel confident that won't be the case with this FO.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    All very fair points. But I would also encourage you to consider that the organization that Jackson, Vitters, McNutt et al came up in was a very different culture when it comes to development. I believe the player has 75% to do with their success, the other 25% is beyond their control, they need facilities, coaching and vision for their career. The current group of players appear to be in a much better situation. Lastly, none of those players on the "bust list" were nearly as hyped nationally as Bryant, Baez and Almora. I would be absolutely shocked if two of the three didn't turn out to be well above average MLB starters and likewise if they all became stars.

  • In reply to Jordan Dutcher:

    It is encouraging that our FO has either signed or traded
    for 16 of the top 100. Because prospects from 10 to 100
    are just like lottery tickets the more you have the more
    likely you are to hit some winners.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I don't disagree with your data and premise but were any of those prospects in an organization that was good at developing prospects? The landscape has changed for the better since those prospects were in our farm system.

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    In reply to John57:

    The organization is clearly different. And those lists that I posted do not mean we are doomed to repeat history....at least I hope not!

    But I thought it would temper expectations just a little, for many of us provide a nice, somewhat painful walk down memory lane

    All prospects are suspects.....

  • In reply to John57:

    Has anyone done a similar analysis of top 100 prospects in BOS under Theo & Co? Everyone has some attrition, injuries, etc... But I think their success rate at developing prospects into MLB players is more reflective of we will have going forward vs. what we've had under previous regimes that did little to NO development at all.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Last 2004-2010 years, top BA 100 for Red Sox, including highest BA ranking:
    Hanley Ramirez (#10)
    Brandon Moss-72
    Johnathon Papelbon-37
    Jon Lester-22
    Craig Hansen-54
    Dustin Pedroia-33
    Clay Bucholz-4
    Dice-K-1
    Daniel Bard-81
    Jacoby Ellsbury-14
    Lars Anderson-17
    Justin Masterson-64
    Jed Lowrie-73
    Michael Bowden-83
    Ryan Kalish-96
    Ryan Westmoreland-21
    Casey Kelly-24
    Josh Reddick-76

    There is alot more hit than miss. I count a few misses (Kalish, Kelly, Westmoreland, Anderson, Bowden), but alot of huge hits there too, and useful players

  • In reply to Zonk:

    And with that comes the news that Theo & Co. have signed Lars Anderson to a minor league deal.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I don't disagree with where you're going here. But in 04 we only had one guy in the top 50. Now we have 5. Higher Ceilings and lower floors. And Angel Guzman was derailed by injury. He had glimmers of success. Unfortunately, injuries can happen to anyone.

    The rest of the list does remind us to temper our expectations. Sisco and Pie did at least get to the majors for extended runs with other teams. Ryan Harvey...Did he even make it out of A Ball? Yikes.

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    In reply to Ratmoss:

    Guzman's problem was clearly injury, not talent, that's true. He was good. He was even good out of bullpen in that comeback year.

    Ryan Harvey is a classic example of a prospect who hacked his way out of baseball; Brett Jackson is just the next example.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Interesting, and comforting. Understand that we are all Cub fans...and with that comes a certain degree of pessimism. 8 out of 10 succeed? Weeeeeell guess who the two that don't belong to.
    Heck, I still pinch myself occasionally regarding the Blackhawks.

    Thanks for the pep talk. I think a lot of us need it.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Yep,... it ain't a guarantee,.... but it is s good sign.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I am looking forward to 2014 to see the young guys hopefully progress and a handful of other prospects make their debut. I would still sign someone like Maholm, because I think they will
    flip Jackson at the trade deadline. This would make room for a young pitcher like Hendricks. Our AAA rotation will be full of
    3-4-5 MLB starters this year and think how bad our staff was at
    AAA just 2 years ago.

  • After all these years finally some great home grown talent.
    Don's sign any FA that requires the 2nd pick

  • Some of the excitement has been lost with the announcement of Tanaka to the NYY. So it is a bit hard to look at alternatives for the back end of the rotation. That, coupled with it looks like Shark could be traded really seems to take the wind out of the sails on the rebuild.

    Really, really need Castro and Rizzo to bounce back and Bryant and Baez to make it to Wrigley in July or August. This team needs hope on the field and not on lists by baseball writers.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I agree. I hope they hang on to Samardzija and they find another pitcher or two in-house -- I'm patient, but I don't want to take a step back.

  • I'll be shocked if Garza pitches a complete season for them... but knowing our luck, when he faces us... He'll be lights out!

    Saw a blurb on MLBTR quoting Woods is content to do a year to year deal ala Shark vs signing an extension... that's a bit concerning to me.

    I wouldn't mind one of those vets on a 1 or 2yr deal... Gives us more depth and competition for that 5th spot but also some trade chips at the deadline. Though part of me is rooting for Cabrera to lock it down because he and Arietta could be huge wins if they can develop some consistency to go with that nasty stuff.

    Also, I'm rooting for Hendricks, but we need to be honest here... this Cat has NO (none, zero, nada, zip) margin for error at the MLB level.... Let's not be too quick to promote him up just to see him get pummeled...

  • Amen on Ivy Envy. I love those guys. Looking forward to hearing your interview with them John

  • John, I was reading in an interview, Jed Hoyer said the Cubs were "looking for innings" and I think Bronson Arroyo is the best innings eater out there right now.

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    Does anyone out there on the interwebs take all the major top 100 lists (MLB, BA, BP etc) and aggregate them for a "consensus" list? Just curious

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    I did it the last couple of years. Not sure if anyone else does.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    That's what the Scoutingbook.com top list is, it's an aggregate list that's automatically updated based on the rankings from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Scout.com, MLB.com, Sporting News, ESPN, and ScoutingBook's own staff scouts & writers...

    http://www.scoutingbook.com/prospects/

    (I'm not sure it's incorporating the new 2014 ranking yet, but it's a good site to bookmark)

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    What's really cool to me is that the Cubs have a player in the top 4 at his position at 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and the OF. That's amazing. I know that not all are likely to make it to the big club, but throw enough awesome prospects at the wall and some are bound to stick, right?

  • In reply to Bender13:

    Yep. You're going to have attrition, but if you're selecting from a large pool you have much better odds. Especially when that pool contains several big impact level prospects.

  • Power in numbers (To quote someone)

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    John, have you heard anything about the Cubs being interested in the Cuban catcher Yenier Bello?

  • In reply to Ray:

    Like most poeple, I dont have any real strong contacts when it comes to Cuban players. I could see them being interested. They've always wanted to strengthen their catching depth, so it makes sense. I'll see if anyone knows anything.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    according to MLBTR they are interested:

    "The 28-year-old Bello was cleared to sign by Major League Baseball back on Oct. 1 and has been scouted by as many as 15-20 Major League teams. Sanchez lists the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays as teams that have been connected to Bello"

  • Is there any interest that you've heard of John about the Cuban catcher Yenier Bello? MLBTR says he's 28 and looks to have moderate power from the catching position. No draft picks or compensation in any way. Kind of disappointed in Shark and it just seems to me that he's challenging the Cubs to pay up or he'll go. Part of me wants to sign him long term and the other part wants to say Good Riddance. Still looking for answers on him.

  • Nice to see 7 Cubs in the top 100 list. Worth noting too, is how many players teams like the Pirates (7) and the Red Sox (9) have on the list.
    There are some really loaded systems out there.

    Nice to also see that Theo and Jed have their fingerprints all over this list (which means good things for the Cubs in the future).

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    In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    The White Sox have 2, #75 and #80. Ugh.

    Brewers have only 1....Jimmy Nelson, #83. Ouch.

    Angels are the only team with NOBODY. And they better save all their extra cash for Mike Trout. This is what happens when you splurge badly in Free Agency, without a base of younger players.

  • I wonder if there is any offer Samardzija would take right now. It appears that he doesn't want to wait on a rebuild or doesn't believe that Cubs will be successful with theirs. Now Wood as well?

  • Hope our Hispanic connection helps in getting him

  • I've heard that Hammel is their choice from the FA starters left out there, wouldn't be surprised to see that happen quickly...

  • Today I'm getting the feeling that the Cubs need something positive to happen sooner than later. Last season the core regressed and this off season has been, according to many, a disappointment falling short on Girardi, Tanaka, and the renovations. I think that the Cubs are going to overpay for their 'Jason Worth' which in this case is going to be a TOR. The FO doesn't want to give up 2nd round pick or trade core or future pieces. My solution extend Jeff Samardzija and name him ace. If he falls short the Shark should still be a horse in the middle of the rotation for years. Why not?

  • Garza can't hit, can't field his position, and has an elbow held together by pins. His stuff is above average, and if pure pitching ability were all that mattered he would probably make for a decent 2nd/3rd starter, but factoring in the above issues he does too many things that hurt his team (in the NL anyway) and is too much of a health risk to get the results to consistently match his stuff. He is a fairly big risk for a pitcher, even at his relatively young age for a FA, so I am glad we didn't have any interest.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    If the Cubs face Garza, they should bunt, then bunt some more.
    I don't know why teams didn't do that, especially if he was pitching well.
    You just know one or more of those bunts is going to end up in the outfield.

  • I guess there could also be a 1B problem. Rizzo struggled with fastballs last year according to the latest report from Peter Gammons. He was one of the worst in the league. If he doesn't have the bat speed to catch up or turn on fastballs, it means a short shelf life. This could mean that if Rizzo struggles again this year, 1B becomes a landing spot for a prospect whether its Bryant or Vogelbach or someone else. There is also the challenge that sits out there in that if you get too many prospects at a position it jams up the system which is bad developmentally and mentally.

  • In reply to Gator:

    I think Rizzo struggled with fastballs because he was trying to hit for power too often. He needs to be content with shortening his swing at times and just driving the ball/making contact. Seems like he was too intent on showing he could hit 30 home runs last year that it lead to a lot of swing and miss.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Perhaps Rizzo fell under Sveum/Deer's spell and got messed up in the head. Cubs hitters specialized in strike outs, doubles, and home runs last year. Maybe Mueller's hitting philosophy will be what the doctor ordered.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Rizzo had decent enough numbers against righties last year. Even in an "off year" (can we really be sure that wasn't a normal year at this point? Remember, he was terrible in SD as a rookie). I think he is going to at least be a valuable enough piece in the long side of a platoon for the next several years. But he has done nothing to show he can be more than that at this point. I have no problem with playing him everyday at 1B next year to see if he can improve against lefties, but if he isn't making strides by early 2015 the Cubs will need to start looking at potential platoon partners (Olt/Villanueva/etc.). Those guys should be able to handle 1B as well as Rizzo and at least one of them should be able to put up respectable numbers against LHP.

  • Sorry to go off-topic here, but I read an article from a site called Fansided Daily this morning. There's a Cuban defector named Yenier Bello that has been the go ahead to sign with a MLB club. He's a catcher, and the article further goes to say the Cubs are in on this guy. Somehow the article didn't sound right. It said that he'd already may have signed a contract. Any news on this?

  • Baez outside of a top 5 is preposterous to me. Buxton is the only guy that I would put above him. Maybe Bradley. I think Boegarts and Tavares will hit for a better average but neither touch Baez for power potential and Tavares is going to be playing a corner OF so his positional value drops a little. At worst Baez should be even with those guys or right behind them. No worse than 5th.

    Sano has impressive power, but he is going to end up at 1B. Baez is going to equal his offensive production and do it from a premium defensive position. Walker is nowhere near the level of the other guys. His command is so inconsistent and his deliery is ugly. I just don't think he will ever consistently locate with the way he short arms the ball. To me his ceiling is Homer Bailey. Which isn't bad, but I don't ever see him being a consistent ace. He isn't even a top 10 prospect to me. Correa, Bryant, Lindor, Gray, Appel, and Bundy are all above him in my opinion and those are just the guys I have seen play. I haven't even seen guys like Syndergaard, Russell, Polanco, Stephenson, Sanchez, Zimmer and Glasnow.

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    7 in the top 100 is especially exciting considering that's not including former top guys that still could have tons of value if they can stay healthy like Olt and Vizcaino.

    Also doesn't include the top IFAs we splurged on that we all hope turn into the next Tavares or Bogaerts.

    And if we can get strong years from Vogel, Blackburn, Underwood, Zastryzny, and Candelario they could easily end up on future lists.

  • FYI, John I hate podcast, I hope your able to put the content on the podcast in article form as well. I know it's the new fandango thing, but I will not be taking any part in them

  • In reply to MyersTech:

    That's cool. I never even listen to myself on the radio. Once when I came on the radio (it was recorded earlier in the day), I left the room.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm the same way most of the time with podcasts, if you guys put up the transcripts afterwards that would be awesome ;-)

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Lol, that's funny john. A transcript would b great if possible. I have to admit, the tanaka, rooftops, and Samardjari thing got me a little down. But 7 in the top 100 w/out voglebomb/Olt/Hendricks/Villia, or Blackburn gets me excited about the minors this season and seeing how it all plays out. Can't wait for the recaps:) fantasy baseball will have to hold me over on MLB level, but would love to b surprised

  • In reply to MyersTech:

    Maybe we can do a summary of it. We'll try not to make them too long.

  • Gammons was on MLB Network and they asked him which Cubs prospect was most untouchable.

    He said Almora.

    Tell ya what... if he, Baez and Bryant make it the Cubs are gonna be poopin' in some tall corn (yes, that's a good thing). What other team has six good position players that are so young?

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