Cubs Sign OF Coghlan, plus notes on Convention, Renteria, Maholm, Kershaw, and more prospects lists

Cubs Sign OF Coghlan, plus notes on Convention, Renteria, Maholm, Kershaw, and more prospects lists

As we hit mid-week, things remain quiet on the Cubs front, but with a full roster and Masahiro Tanaka still available, we may not see anything major get done until that situation is resolved. That will be within the next 10 days.

UPDATE 1:13 PM:

Cubs sign OF Chris Coghlan

The Cubs made a minor move today, signing former National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan.  Coghlan hit .321/.390/.460 with 9 HRs that season.  He hasn't really come close to repeating that since.  In fact, he's been below replacement level in his last 3 seasons.

Coghlan, 28, gets thrown into that mix for 5th OF'er, assuming Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, and Junior Lake fill the other 4 spots.

A left-handed hitter, Coghlan has hit a more respectable .279/.344/.410 line vs. RHP and is right around league average for his career.

Defensively he can play all 3 positions but is below average at all of them, with LF being his best fit.

It's a minor league deal, so nothing to lose here.  If he doesn't perform this spring, the Cubs will cut him, but if he does earn the right to stay on, he can either play a role with the MLB team or provide depth at Iowa.

Cubs Convention and Meet-Up

The Cubs Convention starts on Friday.  I will not be attending in part because I am going to be very busy this weekend (and pretty much every day up until I go on vacation in a few weeks).

But if I'm going to be perfectly honest, I must say that I've never been much of a convention fan. I just like baseball.  I'd much rather attend instructs without all the frills surrounding the game. I'm not an autograph hound and I've always held some disdain for the consumerism run amok.  I'm glad to hear the Cubs will be limiting opportunistic vendors, so maybe I'll go next year.  Most of the time I go to get together with old friends, but those times have become less frequent over the years.

That said, I will be attending the gathering on Friday night if anyone is interested in meeting up.  It is at a bar called Lizzie's Irish Pub.  The official time is 8 pm but from what I understand, some people show up earlier.

It appears they have a great selection of irish whiskey, but I can't say I know as much about that as I do scotch (or bourbon or rye, for that matter), so if anyone has a recommendation I'm all ears.

Rick Renteria...secret weapon?

Patrick Mooney wrote an article on Rick Renteria and how he may be the right guy at the right time for the Cubs.  I think Renteria is an important piece here.  I've never been big on a manager's impact as far as strategy, but I think his job is to get the most out of his players and in the case of younger players, help them get to the next level.  Dale Sveum did not show the ability to do that and it cost him his job.

Kevin Towers is a big fan and would have hired him had Kirk Gibson not taken then interim role and held on to it the way he did.  Of Renteria, Towers says,

“He’s a special individual. The Cubs are a better organization for having him. He can relate to star players and young players. He’s a disciplinarian. He’s going to expect the guys to play hard and play the game the right way. He’s bilingual, loyal. He just needed an opportunity. He’s the right manager for that club. Theo couldn’t have picked a better guy.”

Any chance for Cubs success depends on it's young core developing and Renteria will play a big role one way or the other.

Paul Maholm to return?

Mark Gonzalez of the Tribune writes that the the Cubs have interest in bringing back the popular Paul Maholm to Chicago.  I like this move if it happens (and it may be contingent on whether the Cubs can sign Tanaka first).  Maholm would add a second lefty to the rotation.   He's more of a back of the rotation type now, but at the right price, it'd be nice to have a veteran in that spot who can save your bullpen and keep you in the game.

Arbitration Filings

Eight Cubs players have filed for arbitration.  The are as follows...

  • Nate Schierholtz
  • Justin Ruggiano
  • Darwin Barney
  • Luis Valbuena
  • James Russell
  • Pedro Strop
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Travis Wood

Under both Hendry and Epstein, the Cubs have preferred to avoid arbitration hearings, so look for most, if not all of these players to sign before their hearing date.  In some cases, notably Samardzija and Wood, the Cubs would like to sign them to a multi-year extension.

 Dodgers in negotiations with Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers have a mighty task ahead of them,  and that is to extend the contract of perhaps the top pitcher in baseball before he hits free agency.  Kershaw is thought to be looking for 10 years and $300M.  The Dodgers have said they want to get it done this week.  This might be a little pressure on the lefty ace, as the time frame fits closely with the negotiating window of an alternative option -- that of Masahiro Tanaka.  If the Dodgers can't get it done with Kershaw, it wouldn't surprise me to see them make a ridiculous bid to get Tanaka and insure they aren't left without a top of the rotation arm. If they do extend Kershaw, then that lessens the urgency to some degree.  Not that the Dodgers don't have enough money to sign them both, but it may not be the most efficient allocation of resources for them.  Then again, when you have a quadrillion dollar limit on your payroll, who needs efficiency?

For what it's worth, Buster Olney reports that the the Dodgers are at the one yard line, so it looks like it's going to get done.

Prospects List

Chris Crawford wrote up his top 14 Cubs Prospect List and it contains one major surprise -- Eloy Jimenez is #10, and a few minor surprises, starting with Arodys Vizcaino nailing the 8th spot down.  He is impressed with Vizcaino's improved health and the reports on this great stuff this fall.  Crawford feels Vizcaino has a chance to be the Cubs closer as soon as next year.

As for Jimenez, Crawford admits the ranking is aggressive -- but he also thinks he has a chance to shoot up the list after his professional debut.

Another interesting selection is Scott Frazier at #13.  For what it's worth, I spoke to a scout who really likes Frazier's potential as well.  For Frazier it's about command and developing better secondaries -- which is what you could say about a lot of college pitchers.  But Frazier's size, arm strength (91-98 mph on his FB) and good athleticism make him an intriguing pitcher to watch.  Crawford thinks he has the upside of a mid-rotation starter.

Crawfor also has Neil Ramirez higher than most at #14 and feels he can be a #3 starter if his command takes a jump forward, but is more likely a back end starter who will be more pitch-to-contact than a strikeout pitcher.

Notably absent is Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, Kyle Hendricks, and one of my personal favorites, Paul Blackburn.

Here is the entire list..

  1. Javier Baez
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Jorge Soler
  4. Albert Almora
  5. CJ Edwards
  6. Arismendy Alcantara
  7. Pierce Johnson
  8. Arodys Vizcaino
  9. Jeimer Candelario
  10. Eloy Jimenez
  11. Rob Zastryzny
  12. Dan Vogelbach
  13. Scott Frazier
  14. Neil Ramirez

 

 

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  • The Jimenez ranking is silly. 16 yo, never played an inning of pro baseball. But yeah, let's rank him ahead of players with actual experience. Dumb.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Depends on philosophy. If you are a guy who leans heavily on ceiling, it makes sense. I lean a bit toward upside, but too much risk there for me.

  • where is eloy starting at in 2014? Arizona or Dominican?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I think that will depend on how he performs in extended spring training. But there have been reports saying he has a chance to start stateside.

  • Hopefully Kershaw keeps LA ties up until the Cubs can sneak Tanaka out from under them. Also, I wouldnt be suprises if Jimenez starts 2015 in Kane County.

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    Reading the tea leaves, it does not appear to me that the Cubs have much of a chance on Tanaka. What concerns me is, if they don't get him, and if Samardzija is determined to test free agency (or even if he stays), where are the Cubs goinig to get the starting pitching to be competitive in the next three years even if they are going like gangbusters with their everyday lineup?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Jayson Stark‏@jaysonst47m
    Brought up the name, "Tanaka," to 2 people at owners meetings this morning. They both had the same response: Beware of the Cubs.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Good to hear!!

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Were the two names Epstein and Hoyer?

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Those two would be the most important, wouldn't it? But for what it's worth, I know of 3 non-Cubs scouts who feel the Cubs are a team to watch here, two of them have been in the Pacific Rim and have seen the Cubs presence there.

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    In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Lol. Great line.

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Honest question. Do front office personnel go to the owner's meetings or is it just ownership?

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    In reply to Ike03:

    The more I analyze it, the more important I think it is that they sign him. So I hope you're right. A legit No. 2 starter would be huge for this team.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    In a lot of ways,... for a guy who might want to be the 'top dog' pitcher (or at least try to prove himself to be) in a big market team, for a team that has money to toss his direction (in theory anyway), and that has potential to be a good, young team for years to come,...

    The Cubs make sense for Tanaka as much as Tanaka makes sense for the Cubs.

    But - he may not see it that way.

    But then again,.... he just might.

    :D

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    The tea leaves are being poorly translated.

    I had to laugh when it was reported that it was down to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels... Then a few days later its reported that the Angels never met and never made an offer.

    I'll have trouble believing the Cubs aren't in it until it's announced who signed him.

    Hell, even then. If the Yankees or LA bids something so stupidly high that we bow out, that doesn't mean a legitimate effort wasn't made.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Agreed. A lot of that stuff is put out there to draw readership and it's no coincidence that it panders to the largest markets. This is why I won't acknowledge these early rumors. There is nothing to go on. Not only haven't the Angels not made an offer, I'd be wiling to be that that no team has. We'll know a lot more over the next week or so. Right now it's just a lot of stuff thrown up against the wall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, when are you finally going to put something out just to draw readership? I'm sure we could come up with something juicy. How about :

    Flotilla of Cubs Scouts Discovered Off Shores of Cuba

    Or

    Cubs Outlaw Top 10 Prospects List, Say They Must Be Top 20 Minimum

    Or

    Rooftop Owners Release Their Own Mascot "Sheffield"

    Really, John. There is entirely too much integrity around here...

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    Now that the lists are starting to come out you can really see the depth this FO has built down on the farm.

    The top 5 have been no-brainersno-brainers but after that you see a lot of disparity between 6 and 15. That's a good thing IMO. Because if you have 10 players battling for 5 spots on the list that means those 10 players are all relatively close in skill level.

    I love the aggressive ranking on Frazier. I love his potential along with Skulina and Clifton, all from the 2013 draft. I'm pretty confused how we could leave out Blackburn though, maybe just hadn't seen him much?

    I like Ramirez and think he has #3 potential but as deep as this system is 14 seems a little high. Same with Zastryzny. He hasn't shown that great velocity yet.

    Keep em coming.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    The depth is great, Marcel, and I've enjoyed watching the development of these young exciting players. But if there's no Tanaka, and maybe no Samardzija, where do the Cubs get the starting pitching to compete in the next few years?

    I'm high on Edwards (I think he can be a No. 2) and Johnson, but I'm having difficulty imagining a playoff-caliber rotation before 2017.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    They've stockpiled pitchers the last two drafts, and I'd be amazed if they don't take a pitcher with their first pick this year. My pipe dream for the first two picks is Jeff Hoffman in the 1st and Brandon Finnegan in the 2nd.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    It will have to come thru trades and free agency then. As of now, there are a few good starters on the market in 2014's off season. We'll see how many get locked up before then. There are also some options left this off season, Tanaka being chief among them.

    One scenario has the Cubs future rotation looking like this:

    FA signing (Tanaka or otherwise)
    Samardzija or younger pitcher in return of a Samardzija trade
    Travis Wood
    Prospect arm Edwards/Johnson/2014 #1 draft pick
    Edwin Jackson/Prospect arm

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    That's a good point. A lot of ways you can rank these guys after the first 5.

  • Boy, aces are hard to find and when one is identified, he is prohibitively expensive.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Absoutely.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Which is exactly why it's best to draft and develop them yourself - and then happily sign them to extensions that compensate them nicely for their first few FA years if you can.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    This is where I hope we end up. The best teams develop their guy in house. Hopefully one of Edwards, Johnson, Shark, Arrieta, Frazier, Skulina, Clifton, Blackburn, or Underwood can take that next step and become the ace we need......or we get Tanaka.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Or maybe Beede/Hoffman/Rodon/Newcombe becomes an ace.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Until the there are a couple of devastating injuries the first year or so of the contracts, then you'll start to see the length or amount or both go down. Another reason they might go down is because the pitchers are human: they could get complacent and lose the fire in their gut that makes them great.

  • Love the idea of Maholm returning. Also, as a fan, happy to see a pundit rate Jimenez that high. Might have something good there.

    On another note, another hack job done on the Cubs, this time by Will Leitch of USA Today. Used the new mascot to take a run at the Cubs, even referencing the Passan article as a supportive piece. Had to make a comment. Where do they hammerheads come up with these arguments?

  • In reply to JB55:

    The hammerheads will change their tune when the Cubs win a couple World Series.

  • In reply to JB55:

    Once someone mentions it and gets attention, others follow, especially those who can't muster up their own ideas about what to write.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Meeoooww!

  • In reply to JB55:

    The media clowns are all from the NY/Boston/DC/Philly axis. They have a bias against anyone else. Just a snide attitude toward anyone or anything not a part of there inner circle.

  • I'd much rather bring back Maholm than Baker if we miss out on Tanaka.

    We are all admitedly enthusiatic regarding the hopes that some of the big position player prospects will be up by September, but the pitching infusion coming in the second half of 2014 with at least a handful of Vizcaino, Hendricks, Ramirez, Grimm, Rosscup, Hatley, Rivero, Beeler is pretty exciting as well.

  • Small edit: In the Maholm description, I think you meant to say that Maholm would add a second lefty to the rotation.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Either starting or the pen, as long as he keeps throwing strikes, I'm happy.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I did. Looks like I put him in the bullpen..needless to say, if he signs, he'll have a rotation spot.

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    I agree with you about the convention, John, though I have been several times and enjoyed it and understand its purpose.

    Glad to see Olt left off this list. He certainly shouldn't be on anybody's Top 10 until he shows that his awful 2013 was a result of his vision and that it is corrected. Counting on him at this point is being way too optimistic about the third base situation for 2014, in my opinion.

    I also agree with Crawford's elevating Arodys Vizcaino and have wondered why he has been so low on others' lists. I've heard nothing to indicate that his stuff isn't the same, though there are the obvious concerns over his being injury-prone. I guess its because he may no longer project as a starter, which does make some sense.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I get weary of it quickly. It's just not my thing. I'd rather see instructs or extended spring training.

    Vizcaino is ranked lower because many believe he won't start. RPs generally aren't ranked in the top 10 unless they have top closer potential, which Vizcaino does.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I figured that. Thanks. The potential FOR guys are dwindling. Go get Tanaka, Theo and Jed! :-)

  • Cubs have signed Chris Coghlan to a minor league contract, NRI to Spring Training. Sure, whatever.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    The Cubs have a ton of guys competing for one bench spot with the big club and then a couple to fill out the Iowa roster. Some of them are going to be released in ST as they can't all go to Iowa. By my count we now have McDonald, Wells, Coghlan, Cunningham, Maier, Vitters, Kalish, Jackson, Ha, Szczur and Silva. That's 11 guys for what I can't imagine being more than 6-7 roster spots. Barring a trade I think Vitters, Kalish, Jackson, Ha, Szczur and Silva are safe as Iowa players and maybe one dropping down to Tenn at the start of the year. That leaves McDonald, Wells, Coghlan, Cunningham and Maier competing for the 5th OF job and maybe 1-2 spots in Iowa. The rest are probably going to get released. Probably means very little though as none from that group figure to be here (or even in Iowa) in 2015.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    A left handed bat who hits .279 against RHP for his career.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Doesn't Coghlan play a little 2B/3B as well? Say hello to this year's version of Brent Lillibridge...

  • All of these guys they have signed to minor league contracts, Coghlan, McDonald, Cunningham, etc., makes me wonder what they will do with them after spring training. The AAA outfield figures to be Szuzur, Andreoni (he may stay at AA), Vitters, Jackson, and another one or two I am forgetting. Can't keep all of these guys as playing time becomes relevant. Seems they have about 8 or 9 potential AAA outfielders, many of whom have played in the majors if only briefly.

  • fb_avatar

    I also rather see Maholm than Baker. I alwayed liked a 3:2 ratio of right handers to left handers or vise versa. And space out the left handers so they won't pitch back to back. That way, we can keep opponents off track and out of rhythm, especially those who platoons.

    Shark
    Edwin Jackson
    Travis Wood
    Arritia or Kyle Hendricks
    Maholm

    PS: I too have a really hunch feeling about this Hendricks kid.

  • In reply to Cubsforlife:

    I can't imagine Hendricks making the team over Arrieta out of ST. If the Cubs do sign a Maholm type that guy will start the year as the 5th starter with Hendricks, Grimm, Ramirez and Rusin in Iowa just being a call away in case of injury. Hendricks is not currently on the 40 man roster though so he may need a severe (60 day DL) injury to one of the starters or wait until after the deadline when Shark/Jackson and the vet 5th starter figure to be in play and at least one of them moves out to free up roster spots for Hendricks.

  • fb_avatar

    I'm wondering whether people think that if the Cubs do somehow sign Tanaka, if it will be easier or harder to sign Samardzija to an extension. I think it will be harder, because I don't really buy all the talk that he just wants to play for a winner. I think if you sign Tanaka, say, for six years and $150 million, then Samardzija will want a nine-figure deal. Then again, maybe he already does.

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I guess I didn't mean extension, but to buy out his arb years and sign him to a deal.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I can tell you that Samardzija absolutely wants to play for a winner. I think success from the Cubs will make him more likely to sign, so hopefully adding Tanaka, if it happens, is a step in that direction.

    Samardzija is also a smart guy. I'm sure he understands Tanaka is a unique situation.

  • fb_avatar

    Here's a thought guys.

    Max Scherzer

    He's a FA after next season. Could there be a reason the Cubs are not going all in to sign Shark? Hmmmmm

    How bad ass is the Cubs rotation if we land Tanaka this year and Max Scherzer next winter?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    That would be an ideal situation. Land Tanaka, have some bounce back years and win 75-77 games, appear like a team on the rise. Sign Scherzer and have a rotation of Scherzer, Tanaka, Samadzija, Wood, Jackson while you let Baez and Bryant settle into a full time role on the team with hopefully Soler and Almora knocking at the door.

  • Here's a new take on the under-valuing of Kyle Hendricks in these prospect lists: it gives him lots of bulletin board incentive not to live on his impressive laurels to this point. 2013 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year? "Meh." Three consecutive professional seasons with a WHIP well under 1.100? "But he has yet to prove he can get major leaguers out." (An interesting Catch-22.) His ceiling projects to be a mid-rotation innings-eating ML starter? "But if an unproven higher risk, higher ceiling power arm fails to click as a starter he can always throw 60 innings as a back-of-the-bullpen reliever."

    So to note: this prospect list -- for a system supposedly light on pitching prospects -- not only has nearly half of the top prospects as pitchers (6 of 14). It also has 6 pitchers rated as better prospects than the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year who missed not a beat making the jump from AA to AAA late last year with a combined 13-4 record, 2.00 ERA, and career BB/9 of 1.5. This suggests a minor league system loaded with pitching talent. But of these six higher rated pitching prospects, one pitcher hasn't thrown a minor league pitch in two years and never more than 100 innings in a season (Vizcaino); two are touted 2013 draftees but who have yet to pitch more than 25 innings of professional ball and are at best three years away from sniffing the majors (Zastryzny & Frazier); and a former Rangers 1st rounder who in 6 minor league seasons with Texas had a cumulative 4.36 ERA and had to be shut down by the Cubs for injury worries after just 4 innings with the Cubs (Neil Ramirez).

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I know you are a big fan of Hendricks but there is much more skepticism in the industry. The WHIP statistic isn't all that predictive, neither is the record, ERA, or the fact that he won Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

    Statisticians look at more predictive numbers. The walk rates are a good measurement tool, but the hits against aren't as meaningful. There has been a low BABIP vs. Hendricks in recent years, a number he is very unlikely to sustain against better hitters in the majors. There is also the average K rate that projects to below average in the majors. You may not value strikeouts as a statistic, but history suggests that strong minor league K numbers are predictive of future success, and certainly more so than record or ERA.

    This correlates somewhat with scouting reports. When scouts see Hendricks, they see a guy without a true out pitch. The FB, slider, and change are average pitches and they won't play as well against MLB hitters, who will let more borderline pitches go by and pounce on mistakes. His command will have to continue to improve for him to get by with his current repertoire. Pitchers like Maddux (who had better stuff than Hendricks) are more the exception than the rule.

    I do like Hendricks, though. I can see him as a 4th starter, especially since he developed that cutter and can generate some weak contact with some late movement. If he becomes that, I will be happy to have a 4th starter who is cost-controlled over the next 6+ years. It's better than buying one on the free agent market. If he reaches that level -- and I think he has a realistic shot to do that, then that along will make the Dempster deal a steal for the Cubs from a value standpoint.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My point isn't one shouldn't be skeptical of Hendricks. He's a prospect like any prospect. But given that Vizcaino has only recently picked up a ball again after two years, wouldn't one be more skeptical of him? Or of Ramirez whose numbers across the board (except Ks) are weaker than Hendricks? Or Scott Frazier who has only pitched 20 professional innings and in those innings recorded a lower K rate than Hendricks had at the same level, in the same league?

    But I'm glad you like him. And you are right, I think Ks have been overvalued as a predictor of pitching success -- especially with the Cubs. They are a great predictor of more Ks, but not as useful for predicting a pitcher's success when a hitter doesn't strike out, or a pitcher's ability to manage his pitch count and pitch deeper into a ball game to hand the game off to the 8th and 9th inning specialists versus the less reliable middle-of-the-bullpen arms. Carlos Marmol was a great example in both the positive and negative extremes on this: feast or famine. Samardzija so far is a less extreme example of both poles: the classic "tale of two pitchers."

    You say Maddux is the exception, but it seems most successful control pitchers had K/9 rates very similar to Hendricks. Hendricks has a career minor league K/9 rate of 7.4 and a 6.9 in his most recent season. By comparison: Greg Maddux 5.7 (career minor rate), 7.2 (last full minor league season); Tom Glavine: 7.0, 5.4; Jamie Moyer 6.9, 5.3; Mark Buerhle 6.6, 5.2.

    My point is not to say Hendricks will be as good, just that the K rate has yet to be more than marginally predictive for control pitchers. It seems to say something about power arms, that their power arm will probably project into the majors provided there's movement on their fastball. But if you are a control pitcher -- or as Maddux recently put it at his HOF induction news conference "not a brain-dread heaver" -- then other stats like ERA, WHIP, BABIP must be judged.

    But of course, if no stat other than the radar gun and K/9 inning matter, then I guess that's how one rates Hendricks as only the 7th best pitching prospects in a pitching-weak farm system. But it's probably a good thing, as again, it gives Hendricks more to continually prove.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Let me clarify something on this. It is not overvalued. Statistical trends indicate that it is predictor. That is a matter of fact, not opinion. That's not to say that pitchers don't buck that trend, but those cases are less frequent. So when teams and scouts bet on players, they tend to bet more confidently in the pitchers that miss bats, because history has shown that they will be more successful at the big league level.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You are getting your semantics wrong. Any "predictor" can be overvalued or undervalued and still be a predictor. Statisticians refer to "correlation" and if someone values one predictor higher than its actual correlation, then that's an example of being overvalued. A great illustration is the idea of "momentum" in sports. And of course, the reverse would be an example of undervaluing. Fact/opinion... it's just a simple semantic truth.

    But it is certainly my opinion that these prospect lists appear to reflect an overvaluing of power arms without proof of future correlation. You hurl that like an insult. Quite odd. Of course, my opinion is an opinion. How do I or anyone know "what's really in a man's heart" as it relates to over-, under- or perfectly valuing different predictors? I guess one could launch an analysis of prospect lists and ratings from 5 years ago, etc., but I will simply leave my opinion as just an opinion. I realize this increases it being demeaned as "mere opinion" (which of course it is) -- but opinion is the necessary meat of all enjoyable conversation.

    Again, I've never seen a study that broke control pitchers out separately on the K/9 rate from the power arms and tried to analyze any difference in correlation of ML success. If you have, I'm happy to be directed to that data. I listed four control pitchers and their K rates in the minors that mirrored Hendricks very closely. I guess all four could be outliers (although that's a pretty large pool of outliers), but to call them outliers without any actual data to support would be just mere opinion as well. But I welcome opinions. Makes for enjoyable conversation and prospect lists. Nice article. Much thanks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    "Statisticians refer to 'correlation' and if someone values one predictor higher than its actual correlation,"

    There's actually an important point here. Statisticians refer to 'correlation' as something distinct from 'causation.' It's important in statistical work because, when doing regressions and the like, you often can't argue that one thing causes the other. For example, if I run a regression that shows that people who smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer, I can't then claim that smoking causes lung cancer. There is only a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. The causation claim can only be made when doctors and researchers test smoking empirically and demonstrate that, without a doubt, smoking cigarettes leads to a higher change of catching lung cancer. (This, obviously, has happened.)

    So, to some extent you're right. Statistically, a correlation can't be a predictor (causation) of anything. However, John's argument is actually deeper than that: his argument is that high strikeouts in the minors is indicative of certain properties that will make a pitcher better in the big leagues. In this sense, the correlation of high strikeouts in the minors and success in the majors is "consistent with" (another statistical term) John's theory that high strikeouts are predictive of future success in the big leagues. That argument, however, goes a lot deeper than simply looking at statistical correlation.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    "To some extent you're right." Actually I'm completely right. I was never arguing causation. A correlation is a correlation and not a prediction. But quite frankly, neither was John suggesting he could predict the future. No one in sabermetrics suggests they can use past performance to devine exact future performance (despite the fun they have trying to predict future season performance, but this is just a parlor game). But like a blackjack player, they believe a better understanding of some root odds can lead one to improve one's favorable outcomes in the aggregate. So the discussion here was about about the strength of the K/9 correlation to a subgroup of starting pitchers, but never a zero-sum causal claim by either party.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Jeff, I speak to a lot of people in the industry, you can choose to dismiss that, but I don't. Their "opinion" is a very informed one based on data and countless hours of observation. I'm going to value what they have to say on the matter far more than I do WHIP or a cherry picked list of 4 pitchers over a random time frame == especially a highly unscientific one that doesn't consider any other factors.

    I can also give you a very good link that shows the relationship between strikeouts and the ERA statistic that you also value so highly, but I'm not sure you're open to any evidence that contradicts your beliefs. My guess is you'll find a reason to dismiss that too.

    If you really are interested in learning, then I will assume you will take the time to do your own research. with an open mind and with no fear of being wrong, the way a truly curious mind behaves. The information isn't hard to find. If you sincerely want to expand your knowledge of the game, then I'm sure you'll set off on your own. But I won't hold my breath on that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, as usual, you misunderstand that I'm trying to convince you to agree with me or not. I'm not. Ignore my apparently illogical and unsupported opinions as the silly ramblings of a dumb former Division I jock. Not a problem. And you are right, a grouping of four pitchers is not scientific "proof." I never put it forth as such. I wasn't arguing a quantitative point or model. I'm arguing a qualitative point. As usual, I'm arguing against an extreme position (this time the significant over-preference of power arms over control pitchers) -- which, of course, is the easiest thing to argue against. By pointing out multiple exceptions to the extreme, I was suggesting the obvious limits of the extreme view (which, if I recall, wasn't even your position, but you seem to happily have taken up the mantel).

    And by all means, if you feel there are stats or other facts or links that support your more fact-based opinion, by all means share them. It would be stronger than the "trust me. People smarter than you don't agree," and far more in keeping with your preference to disabuse of non-fact-based opinions.

    P.S. -- I don't "value so highly" ERA. I previously argued against the extreme view that ERA has absolutely no value. And are you really suggesting to now have it both ways? Telling us at one time that ERA has little statistical value because it mostly measures outcomes outside a pitcher's control and now wishing to use ERA to buttressed a different point?

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I don't like to use the word significant because it opens things up to interpretatioin, but there is a clear preference around baseball for power arms and pitcher who have an out pitch. Hendricks has neither right now. I don't think you're dumb at all, I just questioned whether you were interested in any data I would give you since you seem to dismiss everything. I've written about this at length in the past, so I'm not saying trust me. I'm saying I don't care to re-explain when I get the sense you didn't care to see that reasoning the first time around.

    Here are some recent links to read if you're interested in pitcher's K rates and success

    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/4/1/4165664/how-can-strikeouts-be-great-for-pitchers-but-not-that-bad-for-hitters

    http://www.athleticsnation.com/2013/7/10/4501990/hold-the-phones-strikeouts-do-matter

    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/1/3/3816486/strikeouts-steve-mccatty-nationals-strasburg-mets-gooden

    As for strikeouts vs. ERA, I don't like to use ERA either, but it stands to reason that the correlation would be even stronger when we use more advanced, more predictive stats like FIP, since they put a greater value on K's than ERA does.

    All of this doesn't mean that Hendricks or any "finesse" pitcher can't succeed. Control is also a strong indicator of future success and Hendricks has that, but it stands to reason that because he doesn't miss a lot of bats, he is going to put a lot more balls in play -- and that in turn means he will rely more on an environment he cannot control. It also stands to reason that the more balls that are put in play, the more that will fall in for a hit. A .300 BABIP for a strikeout pitcher will result in less hits than a pitch to contact pitcher simply because that percentage will be taken from a smaller number of balls put in play.

    Again, that doesn't mean a finesse pitcher can't succeed. They can do things to draw weaker contact and that is what successful command pitchers do. But that puts a heavier burden on command and a smaller margin for error than it does for power arms.

    Now can a pitcher's control/command be so good that he can make up the difference by limiting hard contact and walks> Absolutely. But we need to consider all factors and the abilty to miss bats -- all other things being equal, is an advantage. That becomes clear when you set everything as equal and isolate that particular ability. That is the proper way to look at it because you cannot assume a pitcher who throws hard doesn't also throw strikes or limit hard contact.

    There's still more I want to talk about, but I'll end it here. Going to have a drink with my wife.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    There is an exception that proves the rule in terms of Minor League strikeout numbers, and its the guy in our wildest dreams we hope Hendricks comes close to, but he doesn't have the change that Maddux did. And he has yet to demonstrate that he has Maddux's pinpoint command against major league hitters.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Your point here suggests that only if Hendricks ends up (apparently in hindsight) being as good as Greg Maddux, should he ever be considered a better prospect than Ramirez, or someone coming off two years recovery from arm surgery, or any of 4 other power arms rated ahead of him. That's an impossibly high standard and helpfully argues (in exaggerated form) my point of the undervaluing of control pitchers. And what if Hendricks is only as good as Mark Buerhle or Matt Harrison or Jared Weaver or Kyle Lohse?

    My point is power arms are disproportionately given more benefit of the doubt that their "stuff" will translate at the major league level, without evidence that this is proportionately true. For example, how can Zastryzny & Frazier with their 45 innings of combined low A ball experience between them BOTH rate as having a better chance of getting major league hitters out than a AAA pitcher who has better stats across the board, aside from K/9? (Although, I'll again note Hendrick's K/9 numbers at A ball were actually better than Frazier's.)

    Or put it this way, if Scott Frazier was on a different team, would you trade Kyle Hendricks straight up for him? I certainly wouldn't.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    LOL...Matt Harrison and Kyle Loshse came up as hard-throwers. Jered Weaver's overall repertoire is far better than Hendricks. Not similar pitchers. Terrible comps.

    And as for your (as usual) unsupported assertions

    Is it disproportionate? W?here is your proof? Have you done a study to show this is true?

    Nope.

    Have you searched for one online?

    Nope.

    The evidence that contradicts your beliefs is easily found. That both scouts and statistician highly value K rates is also well established. If you want to contradict people you'll have to do better than poor comps and anecdotes. Where is the real statistical evidence to support what you have to say?

    There is none.

    The burden of proof is on you but don't bother responding with more random, useless anecdotes. Real statistical evidence only, though I suspect you'll have to do the study yourself because it isn't out there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I concede on Lohse. But not on Harrison. His minor league career average was 6.4 K/9. But hey, everyone can make a forgivable unresearched mistake, right? But I find it interesting that the point you apparently were arguing was that Ks/9 innings can be fairly applied to all pitchers to predict their success regardless of repertoire. But when I say I feel control pitchers would be better evaluated by segmenting them out, you fault me for not segmenting enough (by saying Jared Weaver is apples and oranges because while a control pitcher he has a different repertoire than Hendricks).

    But I'll stop here as you seem to have taken this all too seriously. Trust that I enjoy the articles, even if the replies often get needlessly churlish.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    That's inaccurate. I called Harrison a hard-thrower, which he is. Obviously velocity plays a role when limiting hard contact, especially when they can locate it the way he can. That helps pitchers succeed when they have low K rates.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Great stuff. Thanks, John.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I don't really have a dog in this fight but I'm going to toss this down which is basically what SkitSketchJeff is arguing in regards to Hendricks.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/looking-for-bias-in-top-100-prospect-lists/

    Henricks had sub 2 bb/9 at both AA and AAA. That is something he can control going forward. Whether or not MLB hitters crush his in the strike zone pitches is another matter. Obviously there are concerns there. I would however present a list of MLB pitchers who walked fewer than 2 per 9 last year. Those include the following.

    Cliff Lee, David Price, Adam Wainwright, Bartolo Colon, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Harvey, Kyle Lohse, Dan Haren, Jordan Zimmermann, Hisashi Iwakuma, Eric Stults, Doug Fister, John Lackey, Hiroki Kuroda, Chris Sale, and Clayton Kershaw

    Now clearly a number of those guys are higher k guys. However, Colon(5.53 k/9 2.65 ERA), Arroyo(5.52 k/9 3.79 ERA), Lohse(5.66 k/9 3.35 ERA), Zimmermann(6.79 k/9 3.25 ERA), Iwakuma(7.58 k/9 2.66 ERA), Stults(5.79 k/9 3.93 ERA), Fister(6.86 k/9 3.67 ERA), Lackey(7.65 k/9 3.52 ERA), and Kuroda(6.71 k/9 3.31 ERA) were all productive pitchers without being high strike out guys. In fact, the only pitcher in that grouping who wasn't was Haren as the rest were all sub 4 ERA.

    Now, its probable that there are a lot of guys who also profile similar to Hendricks who aren't major league pitchers because they can't get guys out. and thus you don't see them in stats. In other words, the guys I listed are the cream of the crop for players with that skill set. However, it goes to show you that pitchers who have great(and sub-2 bb/9 is great) control are undervalued. It remains to be seen if Hendricks is a Fister level prospect or not. But it's far from improbable.

  • In reply to beckdawg:

    This is not really a debate about whether we like Hendricks, we both do. We're also in agreement in the importance of walk rate for a pitcher. Lastly, nobody is saying Hendricks can't make in the bigs because he isn't going to be a strikeout pitcher.

    The only thing I'm saying is that most think that his ceiling is likely limited to a #4 type starter because he does not miss enough bats. Pitchers like Hendricks have a smaller margin of error and that margin only decreases as he moves up the organizational ladder as hitters become better. The fact that he has made it to AAA with some success is encouraging. However, for every comp you can find that makes it, I can find many more that don't to that level. We only need to look as far as Chris Rusin, who's highest walk rate was 2.01, which was his rate when he first reached AAA in 2011. He's had some success, but nobody would project him as more than a #5 guy at this point. When he misses his spots, he gets lit up. I'm not going to get into the comps Fangraphs did here because I think they get too linear sometimes. There's a bigger picture that they're missing with all of those pitchers that goes beyond their K/BB rate...Zimmerman's velocity, Arroyo's good slider and deceptive delivery, Fisher's abilty to pitch with tremendous plane and limit hard contact, etc. etc. Those kinds of qualities help you induce weak contact.

    Can Hendricks have that same success? Maybe. But he's going to need more than just good walk rates. He's going to have to continue to draw weak contact and continue refining his command against better hitters. He's going to have to refine at least one of his secondary pitches so he has a go-to offering to be more than a bottom of the rotation starter. I understand that he's working hard to improve this offseason, so he knows it and the Cubs know it too. That's encouraging.

    I'm only trying to say that missing bats is important. That ability is a weapon Hendricks won't have, so we cannot disregard it. It is a factor. It doesn't mean he can't overcome that obstacle as some of those other pitchers have -- and I think and hope that he will, but we can't disregard it and pretend the ability to miss bats doesn't matter. It clearly does.

  • In reply to beckdawg:

    Great link Beckdawg. Thanks for sharing. As a former Division I player, I know a lot of players who played in the minors and a few who made it to the majors. One of the major biases they always shared with me about organization's promotion process is draft position. As one of my friends who was an unheralded draft pick but clawed his way to the majors and even attracted some Rookie of the Year votes told me: "Top draft picks have nine lives with the GMs who selected them. They'll advance regardless and even get cups of coffee when their performance is obviously below other less heralded players." He said it's basic self interest. GMs are protecting their reputations as good drafters. Now does that prejudice creep into how prospects get talked up to writers and bloggers by "insiders"? I'd suspect. It's only human nature.

    More interesting is when a new GM takes over and has no attachment to the draft slots of his predecessor's picks. I wonder if there is any gamesmanship in perhaps less valued prospects getting talked up, hoping they get placed higher on prospect lists, only to make them look more attractive in trades. Kind of like how the Braves would only trade to the Cubs ultimately average arms like Micah Bowie, etc. Wouldn't surprise me if Theo/Jed would try to do some of that. No evidence of it, but it sure would explain Hendricks regular under-the-radar status.

  • I was glad to see names like Jiminez, Zastryzny, and Frazier on Crawford's list. I would rather read write ups on them as opposed to another report on Ha or Szczur being 4th OFers.

    I was surprised by some of the write ups, such as Bryant ending up at 1B because he’s not a good athlete..had seen many people suggesting he could handle RF pretty well. Also surprised to see him refer to Almora as a CF only in the short/medium term.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Bryant is a solid athlete, so I disagree with him there. He can certainly play a good corner OF -- and in fact, has already done so at the collegiate level. As for Almora, that scenario may play out if Almora loses a few steps since he's just an average runner right now, but I don't imagine that happening until after he is comfortably into his 30s (32-33 maybe) -- if it happens at all.

  • I think the Cubs are really going to go after Tanaka, even if it means that they pay more than whatever the market value is for a 25 year old #2 pitcher, which I'd have to believe is quite a bit more than $20M in today's market, considering how young he his.

    I find it hard to believe that Ricketts would head into the Cubs Convention with their only improvements being a few castoffs and a new mascot to promote. Tanaka at least lets them save face. For that reason, I think they get him. Their team payroll would still be small even if they got him, so I don't think money will be a problem in this case.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Agreed that Cubs would probably have to overpay to some degree to get Tanaka.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    It is extremely unlikely that Tanaka will sign in the next 4 or 5 days, so Ricketts is going into the Convention without him, one way or the other.

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    In reply to baseballet:

    In my opinion, it isn't so much what the Cubs are willing to pay as it is convincing Tanaka to come to Chicago.

  • I am enjoying the fact that there is movement list to list. I know this is all based on perception and projection but it does mean there is perceivable projection in the system of multiple players. I am still a Baez to 2nd and Bryant at 3rd guy. I look for pitching to take a step as guys have been in the system now. FUN

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    Dodgers signed Kershaw for 30 million per.

  • In reply to Ray:

    7 years $215 million....unlimited money

  • In reply to Ray:

    Yikes! Although if any pitcher is worth that much at this stage it is either him or Verlander.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Oh boy, stakes are getting real high. Even so, don't think many will be shocked or surprised.

  • Well, there you go.

    Kershaw signs for 7 years $215 Million. $30+ Million a year. No way he can live up to that contract.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    No, but at least the Dodgers were able to limit to 7 years instead of 10.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I wouldn't ever give a pitcher $30M a year becuase of the injury risk, but he is the best pitcher in baseball, and there wasn't any doubt he was going to get more than Verlander did given Kershaw's age. He is the best bet of any pitcher in the game of being able to live up to it. He is a big guy and a good athlete so he in theory should be as well off as anyone to withstand the workload, and he also will continue to pitch in a pitcher's park so that will help him if he loses a little on his fastball. And he is apparently a really good guy and Clemente award winner so there is little concern he does something stupid off the field that makes the contract look bad. Apparently an out clause after 5 years so he could be FA again at 30.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Oliver projects Kershaw to be a 6 WAR/yr player for the next 5 years. If the value of each win is now $6M as Dave Cameron suggests, it's actually not bad value. But with an injury or some bad seasons this deal will go sour in a heartbeat.

  • Now with Clayton Kershaw signing the 215 million-dollar seven-year contract to stay a Dodger,Tanaka may be one step closer to being a Cub... My fingers are crossed..! Cub fan since I was 3... The signing of Tanaka would be awesome to me..!

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    In reply to HeyHeyHolyCow:

    That rhymes.

  • Quick thought on Tanaka:
    Daisuke Matzuzaka signed for 6 years, 52 million ($8.66 million per year)
    Yu Darvish signed for 6 years, 60 million ($10 millino per year)

    The highest paid japanese player last year made 5.46 million (Kyuji Fujikawa was third at 4.85 mill). I can't see a team paying Tanaka much more than 12 million for 6 years. I just don't see it. So if the Cubs really wanted to offer say 6 years 80 million, I think they blow away the playing field and Tanaka's Hollywood interests can be attained with a quick flight to and from.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Tanaka is in a quasi open market. Some NPB players (i.e. Fujikawa) have come to the U.S., but none had the combo of youth and talent that Tanaka does. The previously talented players like Darvish were only able to negotiate with one team.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    The previous contracts to Dice-K and Darvish were so low because of the high posting fees the teams needed to pay and by the exclusive negotiating rights the team acquired. But just because the player didn't receive all of the money doesn't make the investment any smaller on the part of the MLB team. Now that the posting fee is capped at 20M, more of the money in the overall team expenditure will be directed at the player, especially since it is a bidding war rather than one team with rights. Plus team revenues are higher for because of TV contracts. Tanaka will absolutely get 100M+.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I understand this line of thinking. However, previous posts to NPB teams were 50 million +. I don't understand why MLB would decide to give less money to Japanese teams and then go, "oh, well now that we've got more money, might as well spend it all." Is this coming from his agent? Has Casey said they won't play unless it's 100+? Talk radio is all over that number. I just don't see it going that high. Great point, John, on the fact that multiple teams now bid but I still think the number falls far below 100 million.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I think you are going to be very, very surprised when he signs for north of $150 million.

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    Clubs don't care who gets the money; it's about what the total investment is vs. the expected return and risk. The Rangers committed 6x60 to Darvish, plus a 51.7 mil posting fee; total commitment of 112 mil over 6 years.

    Most scouts think Tanaka is likely better, plus Darvish went a long way toward helping Tanaka by showing Japanese pitchers can perform.

    Tanaka will get at least $120mil, probably more with so many suitors

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    In reply to Zonk:

    While I agree Tanaka will get more than Darvish, I haven't seen any reports that he is "likely better"

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Agree on both counts. The consensus is that Darvish is better, the only argument is as to degree.

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    I think his age is the other factor. 2-3 extra years...

  • What's great about Cubs Den is the fact that the reader feedback can be as interesting as the great articles themselves. Read with particular interest comments/questions from Gregory Shriver with respect to where our future SP is going to come from; and skitsketch regarding the number of pitching prospects in the top 14. I have been thinking for some time now that one way we can acquire potential SP-and hopefully guys that project as possible TOR arms, is to deal from our position of strength-down the road. John touched on this topic awhile ago as I recall when there was discussion about trading prospects with the Marlins. With the position player depth the Cubs are accumulating in their farm system-there is little to no doubt that even if guys at the top do not develop as hoped(let's say a Soler), there are going to be guys from a pool of Vogelbach, Candelario, Alcantara or maybe a Jimenez, Hannemann that will be serious options to include in a package for a young SP. You could even look at the Skulina's, Frazier's, Masek's or other arms that may emerge. I will even go as far as saying that I believe Castro could be had after next season if he bounces back strong-but does not exhibit enough of the traits the FO is looking for long-term. Any way you stack it up, it is an exciting time to be a Cubs fan. The key is to let these guys develop a bit more, move up the minor league ladder and reach a higher level of prospect value. I may be wrong, but Vogelbach in 2015 should get you significantly more in a trade than pulling the trigger now.

  • In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    I don't think this is a bombshell here. This has been the plan all along from Theo and Jed. They have talked since day 1 about acquiring assets with the plan of developing them to be major league players or to trade for other assets.

    Certainly other teams have done this well and the Cardinals are in the position to do some great things with some of their young arms.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Sorry, I'll try to come up with something a little more profound next time. I agree with you regarding the FO's philosophy-but this forum creates a great platform to debate how that means to an end will play out. As far as the Cardinals go, it does appear as though they have done a masterful job of covering both their immediate and long term needs.

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    In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    Comments on many similar sites tend to be short and snarky. But I pick up a lot from reading the ones on this site. It's also been the only place that you can find team news and analysis of some kind every day as the Cubs have slid off the radar of the Tribune and other major new outlets this offseason. And even Bleed Cubbie Blue, for example, focuses a lot on historical stuff during the offseason.

    More than any other place for Cubs news and "talk," there is a passion from John and the other contributors to the readers. I mean seriously, could Mark Gonzales (or Paul Sullivan before him) seem any less enthused about the Cubs? And could John seem any more passionate?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Agreed 100%. I am an optimistic Cubs fan and think this FO is doing the right thing. Whether it takes 2 more years or 4 more years, it is going to be worth it in my eyes. I used to sift through every Cubs article written day in and day out trying to find out whatever I could about the Cubs until I found this site. Now when I read something from Jesse Rogers, I find my self almost laughing as I read it. The approach of the articles and comments on here are aimed in a much more passionate and optimistic way that it is very refreshing. Great point guys. Here's to the sticking with the plan!

  • In re Coughlin, any thoughts as to reasons for his inability to mimic his rookie season such as injury or do we attribute it to his inability to adjust? Either way, taking a flyer on this guy can't hurt.

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    This is probably just me talking up one of my favorite prospects, but I keep feeling like Pierce Johnson is being wildly under-valued. No, his fastball will never be confused with Jeff Samardzija, but he has a great off-speed pitch (curve) to go with good fastball command and a passable change. He reminds me a lot of Anibal Sanchez. And, even if he's technically a #3, Anibal can pitch for my rotation any day of the week.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm with you. Been a favorite of mine since being drafted, and I look forward to being able to watch CJ Edwards and him pitch in TN in the near future hopefully.

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    In reply to dabynsky:

    I'm hoping to catch them when they hit Jackson this year. Also going to road trip to Bowling Green when the Cougars are in town. (Road trips for the Hot Rods have to be among the worst in all of MiLB.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I've only seen Johnson a few times, but in every game I watched he was getting way too much of the plate. He can get away with that in A ball because he has decent velo and movement and his breaking ball is definitely good enough, but in my limited looks the FB command was not good enough. MLB hitters will kill 90-94 over the heart of the plate regardless of movement, especially if the changeup doesn't continue to develop. He hasn't walked a bunch of batters so the control seems adequate, but I just need to see him work more on the corners before I get too excited about him.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Fair point. You clearly know more about this than I do, but I assume if he can hit his spots in the middle of the plate in A-ball, once he gets to AA and AAA and the catcher starts setting up on the corners, he should be able to hit those spots, as well. Is that not the case?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Do catchers have to wait until AA to set up on the corners???

    Agree with you on PJ being undervalued a smidge. Looks like he could be a horse.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree, Mike. I still rate Johnson higher than I do Edwards, and I love Edwards.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think there's a great argument to be made for Johnson higher than Edwards. Definitely some reasons to prefer Johnson.

  • With Kershaw signing for $30MM a year, and wonder what that means for the Dodgers now.

    Yes, yes I know they have a boatload of money. How much exactly and what they are willing to spend, who knows.

    But their top 3 are Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu. Ryu is pretty cheap right now but Kershaw is horribly expensive. Are they willing to put $20MM toward a #4 or at best, a #3 pitcher?

    And of course, will Tanaka want to be the #3 or #4 guy on the staff.

    Will be interesting to hear the discussions over the next couple of days on this signing and the affect on the Tanaka deal.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I find it hard to believe any team would invest around $500M on 3 pitchers, but if any team was going to do it...

    It just seems so risky, especially considering their two 100M position players have been injury prone (Kemp) or in decline (AGon). its not like Puig isn't a long term risk given his personality and off field adventures. Having unlimited money is one thing. Investing all of it in high risk assets (and every pitcher is high risk) seems foolish to me.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    The Dodgers are starting to remind me of the earlier George Steinbrenner Yankees teams. If they land Tanaka, it will only make it easier to root against them moving forward. I'm sure Santana, Jimenez, Garza and their agents will be among the happiest folks around once this Tanaka situation is settled.

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    CJ Edwards did not make MLB.com's top 10 RHPs list. And it's hard to argue he belongs on the list over any of the 10 guys there.

    One interesting tidbit: Jonathan Gray (who Jim Callis has always liked) placed 4th. Mark Appel was 6th.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, I'm no expert, but what jumped out at me the other night looking at the MLB list was the rather lackluster group of Top 10 LH pitching prospects. Certainly, there are some intriguing arms on the list, but to me it is a rather unimpressive list overall.

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    In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    Fewer left handed pitchers, so the best will usually be weaker than RHP. But the top -- particularly Heaney and Fried -- is very strong. Add in Urias whose performance as a 16 year old last year was one of the most remarkable stories of the season.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Gray ahead of Appel jumped out at me as well. One man's opinion and the fact that one os #4 and the other is #6 is a nominal difference, but nonetheless an interesting point.

    Will be fun to watch those two develop and to see who is the most effective.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Presumably, though, a difference of 2 on the top RHP list will be a difference of 5-6 or more in the Top 100, which does surprise me a bit.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Edwards is good, but there is a ton of talent on that list, including 2 guys Tallion and Stephenson who we will more than enough of in the NL Central

    I bet when the top 100 comes out, however, that Bryant will be ahead of Gray. I wouldn't be too upset if we picked Gray instead, but I still prefer Bryant.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I agree. I think he'll probably be the #2 third base prospect on the list, but I think you can make a real case that he's surpassed Sano at this point.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    IMO Sano's elbow injury makes Bryant the obvious choice. Sano has now had a serious injury, and Bryant hasn't. That makes Bryant far less risky, which makes him the better bet to succeed in MLB.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I know that Bryant had a great summer and fall league, but with the lack of TOR starters for the Cubs, I think that Jonathan Gray might have been the pick. We will let time answer the question. I do like Bryant over Appel.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's hard to knock the Kris Bryant pick, but if Gray becomes an ace and the Cubs struggle to contend in the near future because of a lack of a No. 1, it may not look so good. But that's why they pay Theo and Jed the big bucks.

  • What I like about Crawford's list is 6 of the 14 players listed are pitchers- and that's with Jimenez included and Hendricks excluded. It's apparent that the arms acquired the past several years are good enough to garner some attention, and 11 of the above were acquired by Jed/Theo. Quite an impressive job in two years time.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    He also said if there was going to be a 15th guy, it would have been Paul Blackburn, so we can even call it 7 out of 15 -- almost half, though the top impact talent are all position players.

  • I should be getting my "2014 BA prospects" book in a week or so.
    The days of not having 30 top prospect to list are over

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I ordered that for the first time last year, and it was well worth it. When is the new one supposed to ship out?

  • One important matter not discussed above, John like you I am a scotch then bourbon person. I don't really care for Irish whiskey. Although there is one that I keep at the house now because a friend brought it over as a gift and it was excellent, Knappogue Castle. It used to go by vintage, and I think I had the 1995 and 1996. Now they call it 12 year. Enjoy.

  • In reply to CWilli:

    Thanks!

  • I seen somewhere that Professor Parks has the Cubs system 2nd behind the Twins and ahead of Pittsburgh. IMO the Cubs would be ahead of Minny if they didn't have Buxton and Sano at the very top.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    Here's the Tweet: @ProfessorParks: No. 2 in baseball. Behind #Twins; ahead of #Pirates. RT @cubsman1980 @ProfessorParks hey Jason where would you rank cubs system right now?

    Twins also have some excellent pitching depth behind the big two.

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    John, I saw your comments on the convention, and I can understand how you feel. I've never been to the convention, but I have been to the Cubs Caravan a couple of times. I think you would probably enjoy the caravan.
    The venue is smaller, last time I went it was in the Boys and Girls Club building in Rockford, the time before that it was at the Clock Tower Hotel banquet room. The caravan is around twenty bucks a person, and that includes dinner. You're able to collect autographs and talk to the players and coaches personally, as well as in the formal Q & A.

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    Ty Colvin continues to get closer to the Hall of Fame, he just signed with Baltimore.

  • With .500 SP making 12-15 million yr its best to draft our own

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    With .500 SP, I agree. With true TOR pitchers being so rare, it looks to be worth using some of the payroll flexibility to buy one when they come available.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    In 1987, Nolan Ryan led the NL in both ERA (2.72) and strikeouts (270), yet his record was 8-16. I think there are a lot better metrics than W-L record by which you should judge a pitcher.

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    As well as Scott Baker pitched I am very surprised no one has signed him to a major league contract. I was worried the Cubs wouldn't get him because the competition would be too much.

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    I love P. Maholm returning as well

    but hers the thing I would have loved Feldman and Maholm
    for 3 yrs and $24 - ( So $48 Mil total)
    I would have even thrown Vargas into that Mix for the same numbers
    you dont get strike out but - low era guys and guys who make starts and pitch Inn.

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    Feldman's ERA has been over 5.00 in four of the past six seasons. The Astros were stupid to commit $30 mil to a career swingman with one good season under his belt

  • I like Coghlan. I hope they're thinking about converting him to 2b or possibly utility guy.

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    Heard on the radio today that Tanaka has narrowed his choices down to 3 teams and the Cubs were not one of the teams mentioned. Anyone else hear this?

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    Nevermine, looks like this is old news.

  • In reply to Port Pup:

    It is old news ;) and none of us are taking it all that seriously, especially since the Angels said they haven't even met with him. Just sounds like big market media wishful thinking and/or trying to draw hits/readers.

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    Carrie Muskat has a nice write-up on this week's "Rookie Development Program": http://muskat.mlblogs.com/2014/01/15/115-cubs-rookies-notebook/

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Thanks for the link, Joao.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're welcome. And I just found a slighty different, larger version of that article: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140115&content_id=66688260&vkey=news_chc&c_id=chc

  • Chris Crawford says he can't imagine a 21 year old Vogelbach getting any better on defense.
    I can imagine almost any you player getting better on defense if they work at it.

  • Can't remember ever for Cubs fans wanting prospects to make
    it so soon

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    With good reason.We're not going to trade off any of our top prospects and that leaves Castillo,Castro and Rizzo our current core pieces,not much too bank on IMO When the bidding on Tanaka ends we'll still be left without that coveted TOR starter.

  • Big stuff on Fangraphs this morning for Cubs fans. Their top 10 prospects list, and an interview with Pierce Johnson.

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    In reply to Eddie:

    That list will make Jeff happy.

    "Top heavy" is becoming a bit of a theme with the Cubs. Hopefully that will start to go away with big years from guys like Candelario, Hannemann, and Zastryzny.

    I also disagree that CJ Edwards ceiling is a #3 starter. It's a TOR guy, but I would argue he has less chance of reaching that ceiling than Pierce Johnson does of reaching his lower ceiling.

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