Later today Mauricio will write a bit on the PECOTA projections and they are not overly optimistic about the Cubs players for 2014, but a different projection system, ZiPS from ESPN's Dan Szymborski, really likes Cubs prospects. A lot.
What Szymborski did was run Keith Law's top 100 prospects through his ZiPS projection model and the results were rather surprising -- in a very good way for Cubs fans. The short vision: the statistical projection model likes the Cubs top prospects better than Law does.
- At the very top of the list is Javier Baez. ZiPS ranks him #1 (Law had him 7th). The comps are pretty exciting as well. ZiPS likens him to Cal Ripken, Alex Rodriguez, Danny Tartabull, and Tony Batista.
- Kris Bryant comes in at #9. One comp for him is Edwin Encarnacion. Ill take that. Other comps include: Matt Williams, Ron Gant, and Danny Tartabull (again!).
- Most surprising is Arismendy Alcantara, who ranks as the 13th best prospect in all of baseball according to ZiPS. He ranks ahead of Houston mega prospect Carlos Correa for one. He is also ahead of two of last year's 3 top picks: Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray.
- According to the article, the projection system sees consistent .260 seasons with 15-20 HRs but there is potential for even more than that. The model compares him to Robin Yount, Barry Larkin, and Michael Young. Wow. Between Baez's comps and Alcantara's, that's quite a DP combo.
- Albert Almora gives the Cubs a 4th prospect in the top 25. He ranks 24th overall.
- CJ Edwards also showed better in the statistical projections, ranking 53 compared to 67 in Law's ranking.
- The one Cubs prospect that Law likes better than ZiPS is Jorge Soler. Soler ranks 40th overall while Law ranked him at #26.
- And one more interesting note: Dan Vogelbach gets a tiny bit of revenge. He was unranked in Law's top 14 Cubs prospects list but ZiPS had him as one of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball (#94).
- You can see the 2014 Cubs ZiPS projections here.
It should be noted that ranking prospects is always more than just statistical projection. There are many factors to consider. Statistics don't consider things like size, athletic ability, and mental makeup.
Speaking of mental makeup, here is one of his teammates told me about playing with Javier Baez,
"In my opinion he is a natural born leader. He shows that on and off the field. I can't speak for others but... I loved watching him go about his work. He is a guy that understands what needs to be done and does just that. I cannot think of one negative thing to say about him."
Jeff Baker signs with the Marlins
Utility man and lefty-smashing Jeff Baker signed with the Florida Marlins today. I've always thought he was a useful player. It's rare to find a player who can play multiple positions and mae consistent offensive contribution from the short side of a platoon. Baker will likely get many of the ABs they lost when they dealt Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs.
Emilio Bonafacio DFA'd. Could Cubs have interest?
This is a bit old but haven't had time to squeeze it in. Emilio Bonafacio is a nice little role player and the Royals had to DFA him to make room for in order to sign LHP Bruce Chen. As a utility guy, he can give you speed, OBP, and defensive versatility off the bench. His last full season as a starter was in 2011, when he hit .296/.360/.393 and put up a respectable 2.8 WAR season.
Could the Cubs take a gamble? I'm guessing that Bonafacio would only come to Chicago if he was given the chance to start and I'm not sure the Cubs can commit to that, but with Darwin Barney coming off a poor season, maybe he sees a potential opportunity for playing time.
The Cubs still need to make room on their roster for RHP Jason Hammel and my guess is that with the addition of James McDonald as depth, the casualty will likely be RHP Brett Marshall. With rosters filling up quickly, the Cubs may be able to sneak him through waivers.
Suk-Min Yoon to sign soon
27 year old Korean RHP Suk-Yin Moon is thought to be on the verge of signing. The Cubs appeared to be on him early but with the Hammel signing, the guess is the Cubs interest has faded at this point. Several teams are known to make an offer, including the Baltimore Orioles.
UPDATE: Yoon threw in front of Cubs personnel today, so they are indeed still interested. However, Yoon is looking for a multi-year deal and isn't as close to signing as has been reported.
Fantasy Baseball Chat
Our own Mauricio Rubio held a fantasy baseball chat at Baseball Prospectus. You can check it out here.
Big Spending Cubs?
Maybe they didn't spend a lot this offseason on the MLB club but the Cubs spent more IFA money than any team in baseball except for the Texas Rangers. The Cubs blew past the limit by spending $8.22M. The Rangers edged them out at $8.42. The Los Angeles Dodgers were a distant 3rd at $4.48M.
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