Buying a Career: Growth and Value Investing Applied to the Cubs MLB Draft strategy

Buying a Career: Growth and Value Investing Applied to the Cubs MLB Draft strategy

For those of you watching the draft on Thursday, there was a little bit of shock around the table when the Cubs selected Indiana's Kyle Schwarber with the 4th overall pick in the draft.  It wasn't that Schwarber wasn't a good player, but he was, in their minds, far behind players like Nick Gordon and Alex Jackson.  In the prospect rankings, Gordon and Jackson were rated consistently in the top 10, whereas Schwarber ranked only in the mid-teens.

The immediate assumption was that the Cubs were taking a lesser player in order to spread money throughout the draft.  Then Cubs Director of Scouting Jason McLeod claimed that Schwarber was #2 on their board, behind only California prepster Brady Aiken.  Assuming that's true, and I believe it is, how is it possible that the Cubs' rankings were so different than the experts rankings?

An answer to this leaves the realm of baseball and goes into the real of investing.  Certainly there are similarities between the two, as highlighted by Jed Hoyer's statement last month that in the MLB draft, "You're buying careers, you're not buying seasons."  So whereas investors buy companies to get a string of future cash flows, baseball GMs buy careers to get a string of future WAR.  Traditionally, investors have been broken down into two different groups: value investors and growth investors.

Growth investors, as the name implies, look for companies that are situated to significantly increase their sales over the coming years.  They will pay far more than the company is worth today in the expectation that, over time, increased revenues and profits will cover their initial investment.  The stocks of the "tech bubble" are a good example of the trade offs inherent in growth investing.  While some of those companies -- Apple, Amazon, QUALCOMM -- have grown into market titans and repaid their early investors, far more -- Cisco Systems, Dell, and, famously, Pets.com -- either stagnated or failed altogether.

Value investing, made famous by Warren Buffett, focuses on assets that are undervalued in the market.  The classic value investor looks for companies with either assets or cash flows that are worth more today than the market price.  This type of investing tends to be safer than growth investing -- since you are buying assets at a discount -- but lacks the explosive returns growth investing can provide.

A balanced portfolio, however, will include a collection of both types of stocks.

This concept can be applied to baseball prospects fairly easily.  "Growth" prospects would be young, generally high school, level players with holes in their games that you expect will improve with time and age.  In the Cubs system, Javy Baez is an excellent example of a high schooler drafted with an amazing collection of tools but a lot of refining necessary in his game.  He has done a lot of that refining, though there is still work to do before he is ready for the majors.  Jose Fernandez is an example of a high school pitcher who improved his slider, change, and command after being drafted to become a legitimate ace before elbow surgery put his future in doubt.  Josh Vitters and Kyle Drabek are examples from the much larger group of high school players who never developed the skills necessary to be impact players in the majors.

If that's growth, "value" would apply to prospects with a current set of skills that makes success in the majors a reasonable conclusion.  These will almost always be college players for the simple reason that men's bodies have filled out at 21 but not at 18.  Moreover, given that pitching prospects tend to be so risky -- as in TINSTAAPP (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect),  the better value historically has been with the college hitter.  This doesn't guarantee elite players -- consider Pedro Alvarez -- but it does give a reasonable chance of getting major league average production out of the pick.

So where is the disconnect?  Prospect gurus tend to see ceilings and extreme upside of every prospect.  In the most recent draft, for example, Kolek got high marks for his 100 mph fastball while his weak secondaries were often overlooked because lots of high school pitchers need to work on their secondaries.  If Kolek doesn't work out, their jobs go forward with no hindrances.  This is not to demean the prospect experts.  They serve a valuable role by immersing themselves in prospects and helping to educate us on what their ceilings really are.

However, GMs are in a different position.  For a GM, the draft is an opportunity to add young talent into an organization which can be used to build a team.  Some GMs, obviously, go with the highest ceiling player available with a strategy much like the growth investor -- if just one of every five hits, he's set.  However, I would argue the Cubs' front office is taking a value approach early in the draft to give their drafts, as a whole, a reasonable floor.  Consider their 1st round picks: an extremely polished high school outfielder and two college hitters with an advanced approach.  This year, they took it a step further by taking an advanced college pitcher in the second round and an athletic college catcher in the third round.  After that come the upside picks: Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, Rob Zastryzny, Jacob Hannemann, Carson Sands, Dylan Cease.  So far, the Cubs have used the first pick for a safe bat, but that doesn't have to be the case.  For example, there are reports that if the Cubs had gone with Mark Appel in round 1 last year, they were prepared to take 3B Ryan McMahon in round 2.

This strategy looks to provide a stream of solid major league players while, at the same time, planting the seeds for extreme returns should some of the later round picks work out.  So, for the Cubs, a guy with a very good chance of being, at the least, a major league average first baseman has a lot more value than a guy like Alex Jackson, who could stall in the minors if his game doesn't improve.  It's a pick that let's them gamble on high upside arms in rounds 4 through 6 without sacrificing the entire draft if they don't work out.

Now we turn from the draft to the trade deadline.  What are the implications of this strategy in trades?  The Cubs will demand AA and AAA talent in any trade for Jeff Samardzija with, perhaps, a high ceiling low minors talent included in the deal.  This is because talent that has succeeded in the upper minors has a better chance of success in the majors than talent in the low minors who still have to refine their skills.  Consider the two Garza trades.  The first trade, for a year and a half of Garza, yielded Martin Perez and (pre-concussion) Mike Olt, two players who were on the verge of the majors.  Perez looked like he could be, at worst, a middle of the rotation arm (injury has cut that short) and Olt looked like a major league average third baseman if he could cut down on the strikeouts (jury is still out, but it isn't looking good).  A year later, when Garza's short term contract took Perez out of the picture, they had to settle for a damaged Mike Olt and two organizational top 20 prospects (Grimm and Ramirez) who were near major league ready to provide the floor of the trade, with young arm CJ Edwards providing a nice upside if everything worked out well for him.

Filed under: 2014 MLB Draft

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  • fb_avatar

    This FO has said, basically, that prospects are currency, and you can never have too much.

    We always have to remember, though, that prospects are suspects until they make it, and many don't, even the surest bets. I would be surprised if Bryant didn't make it, but even he's not 100%; you never know.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    That's kind of sidestepping the point though. The fact is Bryant, with the tools he had at the time of the draft, was much closer to playing in the majors than was Javy Baez with the tools he had at the time of the draft. Hence, he needed a lot less improvement to make it to the majors.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    No argument there.

  • Love the analysis. As usual, many people resent using economic theory to ask and answer questions in areas where they think it has no "business" poking its nose into. To say that management of baseball franchises are engaged in maximizing profits is a working assumption. Where the economist can really shed light is to ask how the most efficient firms go about it given the constraints they find themselves operating under. This analysis has really helped me understand the principles guiding the moves this front office makes--whether they themselves realize that's what they're doing or not. I would be surprised if this isn't how they look at what they're doing, and it seems to me to be the best way to go about it given the hand they were dealt when the Ricketts family (who are very familiar with the world of finance and investing) hired a similarly-oriented GM to manage their investment, which is certainly an undervalued asset relative to what it could return if there was a consistently winning and playoff contending team on the field.

  • Just read on the other thread where Kevin Gallo referred to Schwarber as "this years Kris Bryant" . Boy would that be nice, particulary if he can stay at catcher.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He was my guy this year just like Bryant was last year. I don't think he will put up Bryant numbers but he could move up quickly.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    If we have to live with .300/30 HR out of our left fielder I guess we can find a way to make it work.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    What chance to you think he has to stick at catcher?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I will be doing a detailed scouting report for Cubs Den on the best pick osf the draft,

  • Agreed, no prospect is 100% certain, which is why I think this article even more important. If you buy a bunch of 50% chances early and stock up on the 25% chance guys later (random numbers for sake of discussion), you give yourself a better chance to succeed and get the best value in the draft.

    I think the Cubs made a nice mix here, they gave themselves the best chance possible to get an impact player at 4, got that at value, and then used that surplus to take risky "growth" guys later.

  • I told Mike I had a scotch theory to the draft.

    If you gave me $300 to buy scotch, I could buy a Johnny Walker Blue (which is very good but much overvalued, IMO) and maybe one more good scotch or a few cheap scotches with the rest of the money.

    Or... I can get a Lagavulin 16 at 1/3 the price (which I like better anyway) and still have enough left to buy 3 very good scotches or 4 good scotches.

    No brainer for me. If the Cubs liked Schwarber like I like Lagavulin (and I suspect they do), then I totally get this draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And I was excited to see baseball and economics presented in a single post. You bring scotch into the picture and I may need to starting drinking before noon.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Haha!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Of course this analogy works even better with wine since wines have the aging factor going for it. Some wines you buy and need to enjoy quickly while others improve with time. The problem with some wines (prospects) is they turn into vinegar after time. I would never have thought of this without the scotch reference so please forgive me.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    Nice analogy as well! I very much like wine worked at an Italian restaurant through college. Wine classes were part of our job.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed on both accounts. I always have a bottle of Lagavulin on hand and go for cheaper but sure thing scotches for guests such as Glenlivet as well as scotches with potential crazy upside or bust potential like Ardbeg Alligator. Better to have multiple workable options than to blow the bank on Johnny Blue (still very good) or obscure and well-aged Maltmaster editions.

    If only scotch and live baseball matched up better. Can't drink scotch in the blazing summer sun.

  • In reply to CGunz:

    Nicely done!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great article John, although a lot of question marks on the later round pitchers we all hope a couple come through. And although we could of have Schwarber in the middle 1st and the rest of the draftee's in the middle of each round we would have not had the pool money if we weren't picking 4th to sign (assuming we sign) these later round picks. For me it still comes down to how long will Ricketts still feeds his clients Two Buck Chuck (aka Major League Roster) before they go to another bar. I know it is a delicate balance but more and more of the patrons are waking up to nasty hangovers from his Rot Gut.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Had never really given scotch a thought but first Spiegel & Rosner talking about it now this, it is making me want to try it.

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    Ha! I would start easy, don't go Lagavulin right away, it can be overpowering at first. I would start with a GlenMorangie 10 first or maybe Auchentoshan or Dahlwhinnie first. Those are easier ones to start with in my opinion. Of course it depends on what you drink now. If you are a bourbon guy, I'd definitely go Auchentoshan first.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    For many reasons (medical not legal) I don't drink very often, when I do it's primarily whiskey (Jameson) or rum (Shellback Spiced Rum) mixed with cola.

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    STMFs!

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    STMFs!

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    I like a good Irish Whiskey too. I will say I drink semi-often, maybe 3-4 times a week, but it's always just one drink. Two whiskeys is usually my limit and that is when we are doing something social.

  • I'm just wondering how different this FO's draft approach was from other teams. Don't they all try to get a mix of value and growth? It just doesn't strike me as being outside the box or particularly ingenious. Seems to me the real work is not in developing that rather obvious strategy, its in the execution -- that is, in making the right calls simply from a talent evaluation point of view.

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    In reply to TTP:

    Well, yes and no. If you look at the Marlins, their first 3 picks were high school guys, all of whom need a lot of development to be major leaguers. That team just loves big high school arms and, in fairness, they have a decent record building them. The White Sox went: pitcher, pitcher, pitcher. All 3 of them are upside plays just based on how risky pitching prospects are. (Remember, a year ago, people were touting Mark Appel as a fairly safe arm.)

    This is also something I've noticed about them over time. So while the Mets took a very safe pick (Michael Conforto) in the first round this year, they swung for the fences last year with 4 high school players in the first 4 rounds, including a very raw but extreme upside Dominic Smith in round 1.

  • Like the 'investment' anology Mike,... very good food for thought.

    And like investing - a lot of the results (given some variance due to the future being somewhat unpredictable) in building up a pool of prospects and developing their skills are going to be dependant on how good the scouting and background due dilligance that have been done really are and how good the management is.

    Just about anybody can get lucky now and again and get a 'muli-bagger' from picking stocks,.... but the trick is to work to make a lot of your own luck easier.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Good point. Yes, by doing the groundwork, you stack the odds in your favor.

  • When the cubs picked Schwarber my immediate reaction was like when the Bears choose Kyle Long.

    You can also view some of the picks as GARP (Growth At A Reasonable Price) investing. Instead of picking a growth company with no earnings and 30% growth estimation. Pick a company who already has earning (known 90 Mph fastball) and 12% growth rate (teach slider). If they work out they turn into a utility stock/value over their career.

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    In reply to ucandoit:

    In my non-baseball life I'm a huge fan of Peter Lynch. I considered going there, but thought I'd thrown enough investing lingo around in one article. It's an excellent point, though. I think it describes what they're doing very well.

  • Great article Mike. Love the economics aspect of it. Great strategy and the discipline to execute. Reminds me of an interview on the Score leading up to the NFL draft. NFL execs bring in consultants who have done tons of economic research. The research tells that you are pretty much always better off trading down than trading up in the draft. Each year, some teams don't have the discipline to follow the advice. You see teams who trade away picks to grab a quarterback. 2-3 years down the line and that team lacks skill players around the QB or linemen to protect him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    Thanks. I'm impressed by it, too. I think when the system is stocked and consistently producing major league talent they might go for higher ceiling guys but, right now, there is a strong focus on not "giving away" drafts with high picks.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    I second this comment. Very nice article Mike.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Thanks.

  • fb_avatar

    I like the fact that the Cubs used the No. 4 pick to grab a player who could contribute sooner and later rounds for the higher upside guys who won't be helping out until 2020 or later.

    However, the majority of the analysis I'm reading outside this blog states that Schwarber has little chance to stay at catcher and is probably headed for first base.

    This fact, along with the Cubs insisting that he was the second best player in the draft, make me wonder if it might be possible (I say possible, not likely) that he may become part of a trade package involving Samardzija to sweeten the pot (obviously they have to sign Schwarber first).

    Perhaps there has even been discussion with a particular team about this possibility, which in effect, would mean the Cubs were getting around the rule of not being able to trade draft picks.

    If this is true, and again, I realize it is a stretch, then we should be looking for a team that needs a first baseman as a possible trade partner.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Schwarber can't be traded until next June.

    And there is some belief that hecan maybe handle LF as well.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    He can't be traded for a year after he signs, so that is unlikely. I'm not sure about the exact rules regarding PTBNL but I imagine Selig would step in if they were that obviously attempting to circumvent the rules.

    They think he's athletic enough to play Matt Holliday quality left field with the bat more than making up for any defensive failings, at least until his late 20s.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. I couldn't remember if there was a restriction, but it makes sense.

    There does seem to be a range of opinions on Schwarber regarding his defense and how it projects.

    Regardless, I like the pick. I'd be happy if the Cubs never again took a player who listed among his weaknesses a poor approach at the plate. At least in the upper rounds.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Didn't think they could include newly drafted players in most kinds of trade packages Gregory. Isn't there a rule that (generally) players cannot be traded before a minimum period post signing?

    Or am I getting the Byzantine rules for Minor League players & trades messed up in my head somehow?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Interesting theory, but I'd say there's a less than 1% chance that's the case. Players can't be traded for a year after they're drafted. I just can't see the Cubs selecting a #4 overall pick for someone else.

  • Regarding Hoyer's comment that Schwarber was rated #2 on their draft board, is it possible that they factored in how much money they could save from an underslot signing in this ranking? In other words, his excellent hitting ability PLUS the capability of drafting better players later in the draft made him the 2nd highest ranking.

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    In reply to HefCA:

    Definitely possible. The question would then become: why weren't they considering Jeff Hoffman in that slot?

  • In reply to HefCA:

    In John's story posted this morning, it says the Cubs had him rated #2 on their board not taking cost in to consideration. They saw him as the BPA when they were picking and better than Kolek and Rodon.

  • In reply to John57:

    Sorry it wasn't in John's article. It was in the ESPN article he linked to. It had a quote from Jason McLoud that said their rating of him was on talent not financials.

  • In reply to John57:

    In any case, thanks for the FYI...

  • In reply to HefCA:

    In his original statement, Hoyer said that he took cost into account.

  • Anyone else kind of hoping Maryland loses tonight in the CWS so we can get Jake Stinnet and Charles White signed sooner rather than later?

  • fb_avatar

    Expect a lot more of this in the next week, but Trevor Clifton, 12th round pick out of HS in last year's draft, is headed to the Hawks. (His MOM broke the story on Twitter. Gotta love it.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah, based on his performance at EXST and looking at the players around him, it was pretty clear and AZ Phil had predicted this, but it's only official when it happens. I guess it's happened.

    Moms...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Tech savvy mother, mine still has troubles with the DirectTV remote haha

  • Thoughtful article, Mike.

    I admit I panicked when they drafted Schwarber, having read scout comments that Gordon was a "future all-star".

    Fortunately Ghost Dawg talked me off the ledge, and after giving it some thought, the logical value of the Cubs' strategy became more apparent.

    It seems Theo & Co have the discipline to stick to their strategy.

  • Good investment analogy. Its all about risk reward. Aiken was the only 18 year old kid it made sense to give 6 million bucks too. I had heard they never liked the arm action of Kolek, and there is simply no projection left.
    I said on here 3 months ago the Cubs would not take a pitcher this high, the talent level just was not there, and they Epstein and McCleod just dont like the risk factor of young pitchers at the top of the draft.
    Friend of mine in the Tampa area says the Cubs got a real diamond in the 31rst round with Brad Depperman. Just turned 18, the ball comes out of his hand sweet, very smooth and athletic young man who will continue to fill out. Was hitting 93 in the spring. Wants to start his pro career.

  • Depperman was a nice late round pick. Hopefully the can sign him.

  • The question is, did Theocorp do something out of the box? Or could you look at almost anyone's 2nd - 10th round picks and say 'They employed a 'Value' or 'Growth' strategy? I'd imagine you'd find a similar thing. So not sure if its correct to characterize the Cubs draft strategy as 'special'. 2 weeks ago it was all about BPA. BPA this, BPA that. Sure, Hoyer said Schwarber was #2 on their Boards. And that may very well be true - but if Rodon dropped, would they have passed him up? If so, how would we all react??

    Just about everybody on this Board, and others were all over Rodon and were hoping he would fall. And now, everybody loves Schwarber because we picked him. Moody, I give you credit for making that prediction, but very few on this Board were saying, 'I really hope we pick Schwarber at #4..'.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Most of us (myself included) don't get to see these guys even on TV, let alone in person. Rodon was proabably one of the few that some people have actually seen multiple times. He was also the most famous name. So of course there was probably more excitment about him than any other prospect.

    There is probably less than 5 people on this site that actually have much insight into the drafted players that can claim whether any of these guys are actually to be valued. I mean how many on here can claim they went to a HS baseball game in California or Texas or even on the showcase circuit and saw Aiken or Kolek pitch live for more than an inning or two? Same thing is true even with the college guys. Is IU baseball a big draw? I assume the BTN or ESPNU showed a few of the games, but did anybody actually watch them?

    I think the general positive reaction to the Schwarber pick is just a reflection on the faith most of us have in the scouting ability of the FO and the fact that he at least checks a few of the boxes people were hoping for, a college hitter with lefthanded power and either a C or LF.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mjvz:

    You forgot that we also got too see the whole strategy work out over the weekend so we saw that there was some upside to drafting this guy whether he sticks at C or not. Again I will state any time John Hart and McLeod agree on a prospects plus's and grades and both beam about him as soon as a mic is in front of their face then I am sold.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I honestly would have been surprised if they passed Rodon but i know a couple of scouts who had other players ranked higher than him -- so if it happened, I would have been shocked initially then it would occur to me that maybe the Cubs felt similarly to those scouts when it came to Rodon. And they are pretty honest guys, they didn't have to say they liked him better than Rodon. They could have just said Schwarber was our BPA at #4 or, we thought he was the best hitter after the top 3 pitchers were picked. The fact that they went out of their way to say he was #2 makes me think that they are being quite honest about it.

    And as much as I like to see these kids play, I haven't seen these guys as much as the Cubs guys or some of my scouting contacts, so I trust them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It was a tougher choice this year but they stuck to their guns last year. This year had more room for a full draft strategy with underslot and a surplus of HS pitching. Bryant was still a value pick. He did take up the full slot but imagine if he was a free agent (like international players) last year.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    I think both years were their BPA, it's just that this year the guy they like is undervalued in terms of their draft slot.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thats a good point. They could have used different language. I just find it really, really hard to believe they would have let him pass. I'm not saying Rodon was the consensus #1. I'm sure many people had others ahead of him. I doubt anybody had Swharber ahead of him though.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    And no, if you took the time to know all the draft prospects and examine each team's picks (and you have to include the first pick) you would find that other teams took different strategies. Its quite evident, in fact.

  • Great analysis John. Steve Stone had an interesting spin on growth vs. value drafting: "Check the remaining length of the GM's Contract". And, may I make a recommendation for a terrific entry scotch: Oban.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Oban 14 yr is decent but Macallen 15 yr is my favorite under $100

  • In reply to TD40:

    MaCallan 18 is wonderful too but it is so expensive. I usually treat myself to a glass on special occasions.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    I love Oban. Good stuff. I do, however, have an alternative value suggestion: Clynelish 14. It is 20 to 25 dollars cheaper and I like it every bit as much. Similar style and the same kind of balance you get with Oban. Oban actually used to be great value but there has been a big jump in price the last couple of years, so I have been buying Clynelish more often.

  • I know this is out of left field, but I had a fellow Cubs Fan inform me that he was very upset the Cubs brought Manny Ramirez into the system as a player/coach, due to his past track record. I haven't read much on Cubs Den on this topic, but are most of the other fans OK with having Manny onboard?

  • In reply to AshevilleCubsFan:

    We kicked the Manny topic around pretty good before the draft and there's people on both sides of the aisle.

    Some will never forgive his use of PEDs, accept his apologies, or listen to his acceptance of responsibility. Some don't understand the nonsense he was pulling during his last year in Boston (probably nobody does). And others are still put off by "Manny being Manny".

    Others, including myself, look at Manny's incredible LIFETIME BA, OBP, RBI, HR, and K % statistics, his approach, his first-in-the-clubhouse work ethics, and his obvious FUN playing the game. And we wonder who better than to be sitting next to Javy Baez and AA and lending an ear.

    Lots of potential upside for the Cubs and all the risk on Manny - he screws up and his last chance to stay involved in the game is gone!

  • Excellent stuff Mike! Like in investing the work done to find the right stocks and build the right mix is critical to long term success. Our FO has excelled at this and why the future is bright even when we are not drafting at the front (hopefully that day is sooner than later!)

  • Gregory Shriver: "Regardless, I like the pick. I'd be happy if the Cubs never again took a player who listed among his weaknesses a poor approach at the plate. At least in the upper rounds."

    This is is in response to that statement posted above. I could not agree more.

    In all the post-draft mortem the focus has been on how the Cubs under-slotted college guys early to save money to pound pitching later. And, so the narrative seems to go, in doing so, they somehow did not draft the player (i.e. BPA) they wanted but merely the player they could get to agree under-slot. I am amazed that this narrative still permeates in spite of Jason McCleod saying that Schwarber was indeed number 2 on their draft board. And the snarky and too-smart-amongst-us know not to take that at face value and read that as some cover to their true intentions, because only the truly naive would actually believe a statement to the media at face value. But when McCleod says they were "enamored" with Brady Aiken, who he admits was indeed Number 1 on their board, we accept that at face value, but the Schwaber comment we dismiss as cover. How cynical we as a society have become of "statements" to the Media.

    What if, just maybe, Schwarber was actually their #2 player on their draft board? AND, what if they got him under-slot as well BECAUSE THE REST OF THE INDUSTRY IS STILL CHASING THE TINSTAAPP. As Mark Appel has shown, there is way more risk in blowing a first-round pick on pitchers. And the Cubs braintrust, because of the inherent risk, are not chasing the TINSTAAPP. Risk is the new market-inefficiency.

    After 2.5 years of the plan coming into place, there have been some definite philosophical patterns and choices I feel can be gleened by the choices this front office has made:

    1) Will Favor Position Players over Pitchers: This should have been obvious in the Cashner for Rizzo deal. It is even more crystal clear in the last 3 First Round draft picks being position players.

    2) Will Favor Approach at the Plate: What I find amazing is no one seems to be excited by the "type" of hitters we are drafting...and this started with the trade for Rizzo....

    Kyle Schwarber:
    2012 (So. Yr) - .300/.390/513; K/BB: 24/30; 8 HR's
    2013 (Jr. Yr) - .366/.456/.647; K/BB: 42/37; 18 HR's
    2014 (Sr. Yr) - .358/.464/.659; K/BB: 44/30; 14 HR's

    Mark Zagunis:
    2014: (Jr. Yr.) - .330/.426/.426; K/BB: 20/32

    Kris Bryant:
    2012 (Soph Yr.) - .366/.483/.671; K/BB: 38/39; 14 HR's
    2013 (Jr. Yr.) - .329/.493/.820; K/BB: 66/44; 31 HR's

    3) Will Favor Power & Approach over Speed & Defense.

    When Theo took over he said they will look at the ballpark effects of Wrigley and try to discern any advantage out of it that they could. This statement has never been re-visited to see how these philosophical choices the FO has clearly made coincide with possibly playing to the ballpark effects of Wrigley.

    To me, it is crystal clear: In this day and age, where power is at a premium, and teams are trending back toward a focus on speed and defense, we are trending in the opposite direction: APPROACH AND POWER. OBP. 3-RUN HR's. PLAYING TO OUR BALLPARK.
    When the speed and defense teams come to Wrigley, where speed and defense do not play up, we will simply out-mash them. Home Field Advantage. Heaven forbid when the wind is blowing out, and our mashers put the ball in the air, while the speed and defense teams are hitting groundballs. No more Larry Bowa's on this team. Mashers at the expense of defense. Blowouts. Run differential. Our FO gets it. They have plan: The CUB WAY. Or is it...simply: The Oriole Way in sheep's clothing. I cannot wait until Theo serves us the full meal, it will be delicious and filled with 3-HR's. I can see it now. I can taste it.

    COZ

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to C COZ:

    "Risk is the new market-inefficiency."

    This is the article condensed into one sentence. Nicely done.

  • In reply to C COZ:

    Schwarber 3 college years are freshman, sophomore and junior. He is not a senior. But I agree with your post.

  • In reply to C COZ:

    Awesome post. Really couldn't agree more.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Thanks. I've been thinking of making this type of post of my observations for quite some time. The criticism and disappointment by many on here of the Schwarber pick led me to post more of a big-picture view, something that is easy to lose sight of at draft time. I think it is awesome that we have a Front Office that has made some definite, well-researched I'm sure, philosphical decisions. Viewed through that prism, Schwarber makes absolute sense and he makes sense as #2 on their board.

    COZ

  • Very interesting chat on the draft on baseball prospectus, believe it is a free to all post. Talks about the cubs strategy, the question was they might have gone for high school kids earlier instead of the the pitcher from maryland, and gotten some higher rated over slot type pitchers. Mentioned reid-foley as one. Would not have been able to get three with that strategy however. If they sign them all, it is a win win.

  • I think Reid-Foley and Flaherty were probably on their list of targets.

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