Cubs need to stick to their plan when it comes to Kris Bryant and the rebuild

Cubs need to stick to their plan when it comes to Kris Bryant and the rebuild

I'm a pretty patient guy.  If I start a project, I have to make sure it's done right and that it will last.  I think I get that from my mother.  My father is the kind of guy who wants to rush to the end.  He wants to see results.  And when he gets those results, he wants to move on to the next thing and then get those results. That sounds great, but the problem is, I distinctly remember my dad having to re-do those projects all the time.

I think he reflects the mindset of many Cubs fans.  The idea of having a plan, trusting it, and letting it develop in time is foreign to us.  We have seen it in fits and starts but we have never seen it to completion.  We first saw it with Dallas Green in the early t0 mid 80s and then the early days of McPhail and Hendry.  Eventually both plans were scrapped before they could be fully implemented.  Like my father, ownership inevitably rushed to the end in pursuit of quicker results. They clashed with Green and eventually hired yes man Jim Frey (facial tic, twitch, vein bulging in forehead) to focus on short term success while the Hendry teams shifted to win now mode in 2007 in part to raise the value of the franchise, giving the Cubs a small window of success but leaving the franchise in total waste once the damage of long term contracts and special clauses took their toll.  We also can't forget the Ed Lynch days when, sensing a shot at the (gasp) wild card for his deeply flawed team, he tried to fast-forward the process and traded his top two pitching prospects for  middle relievers (facial tic, twitch, vein bulging in forehead).

The current Cubs are undergoing another rebuilding plan with a new front office but this one is even larger in scope than the one of their predecessors.  Most people were okay with it initially, but in the 3rd season, patience is wearing thin.  This despite the fact that there was complete transparency and we were told it would take up to 5 years.

Most people expect to see tangible process.  They want to see results.  If we go on a diet, we don't want to wait for results to show, we want to see it right away.  When we don't, we often quit.  If we were asked to choose to go on a diet that will make us lose 10 pounds in 10 days or a slow one that will take months but will provide us with a sustainable new lifestyle, most of us would choose the former.  We would choose the quick fix diet because we think we can switch to the long term one afterward.    But it never works that way. once we find the short term success we crave, we go back to our old habits and re-gain the weight.  Then we need the quick fix again.  It becomes a hard cycle to break.

It's really hard to see things in terms of process and big pictures.  We require some sort of tangible, incremental progress to keep us motivated.  In absence of seeing this on the MLB team, we have turned to the minor leagues and the top prospects.

When we see Kris Bryant mash in AA but he stays there, it doesn't feel like progress.  It feels like running in place,  Or maybe it's like Groundhog Day.  We are excited to see him hit HRs but frustrated that he is seemingly no closer  than he was yesterday, no closer to the ultimate goal of helping the Cubs.  But trust me, he is progressing toward Wrigley and he doesn't need an Iowa uniform to prove it.  We tend to see progress as one step at a time, we want to see things approaching gradually and we look for that consistent pattern of upward mobility.  In the real world, progress doesn't work that way, it looks more like this,

 

 

Or if you prefer, something like this...

In other words, this will all come together quickly and suddenly for the Cubs like it did for Sir Lancelot here. Just when the Cubs seem to be running in place, they will suddenly be rushing right on their opponents.  They won't know what hit them and by the time they do, it will be too late.   The Cubs will wreak havoc and leave a trail of carnage in the NL Central.

Well, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but you get the point.

The same goes for Kris Bryant.  His seemingly endless two month stay at AA has come to symbolize what seems like stalled progress for the organization as a whole.  We want to see him move ahead just as some wanted to see Javier Baez make the team out of spring training, or see Mike Olt start more games.  We want to see it so  that we can at least feel like we are taking  a step forward.  We want it because in a larger sense, it makes us feel like the Cubs are getting closer to the kind of success we were promised, one built with a talented young core of homegrown players.  We want to see that next piece fall into place.

I get it.  I want to see it as much as anyone.

But we need to look no further than the Houston Astros, the Cubs partner in futility over the past 2+ seasons.  The Astros had 2 top  prospects who were much further along than the Cubs top prospects in George Springer and Jonathan Singleton.  Despite being more advanced than the Cubs prospects, the Astros took their time, let Springer dominate in the minors, and then moved him along as they felt he was ready.  Meanwhile the MLB team took their lumps in even more humiliating fashion than our beloved Cubs,  Now MLB ready, Springer has fueled a resurgence and tonight he was joined by Singleton, who homered to help the Astros to another win.  They are 16-15 since April and 14-8 since May 10th.  Once the talent is there, you can get better fast -- but you have to wait until that talent is ready.  Springer got more than 300 PAs in AA despite dominating it almost as much as Bryant did.  He spent another 300+ PAs in AAA.  Singleton spent a full season worth of games in both AA and AAA

I think the Cubs can make a similar turnaround as their own prospects become ready sometime in the 2015 season.  We have seen how rushing prospects adversely affected Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro's development despite their great success in the minors.  They are catching up now.  Let the front office stick to it's development plan for each hitter and do it the right way, it's not like they didn't have success doing it their way in the past.

Trust the process and let it develop as planned because if we wait until prospects are truly ready -- as judged by those who do this for a living rather than those who follow the box scores, then the Cubs will soon get to where we want them to be -- and when they do get here, they won't just trickle in, they will come in waves, ready to make an impact right off the bat.

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  • Amen John!

    Also, this FO is on record as saying that they would like players to get 500 PA's at each level. Those that are "special" can move quicker by dominating, but almost never in less than 300 PA's. Bryant is just now making enough noise for serious consideration. But people act like he should have been promoted a month ago.

    Also, it's simply not in the TEAM's best interest to displace Villanueva at AAA right now. I those expecting to see Bryant & Baez before the super two cut-off date in 2015 are going to be disappointed. It's simply in everyone's interest (except the impatient fans) to wait...

  • I agree completely on not rushing prospects. Where my patience wears thin is the talk of dismantling the starting rotation each year and putting less than stellar ML talent in positions where there are no players being blocked- ala 2B. I like role players like Valbuena and Barney, but if you're going to take a shot with Olt and Lake, then have a guy at 2B who is an average to above average major leaguer. The Cubs have the resources. Overpay a veteran guy for a couple years like the Reds did years ago with Scott Rolen, when they were building their club, and maybe his leadership will help develop the younger players .

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    In reply to Cuyler:

    In principal, that's a good idea, but when you go through the list of players that are likely to sign a 1-2 year deal, and are more than decent, that's a very thin list. Above average major league regular free agents get big and long contracts....that's just the way it is. There are some players here and there that may make sense.

    I happen to like the 1-year rotation sign and flips. It's been a really effective way to build young talent with little risk, while filling rotation slots in the meantime.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Can't argue with the results (so far anyway) with most of the veteran pitching sign& flips since 2011. Baker was a bust, Veras was a bust (and I would argue a predictable bust), but when you look at what they have gotten in return for the expiring contracts and veteran signings from Garza, Maholm, Feldman, Dempster and Marshall and the add-ins in some of those trades (Baker, Reed Johnson, Clevenger, and maybe even the guys got in return for Soriano and Campana),.... the net appears to be a huge positive.

    Would I love to see the Cubs resign Shark (on good terms) or try to bring back Hammell? Absolutely. Carlos Villanueva as a swing guy I wouldn't mind seeing back either. But if the return is good, and since we probably have guys that can be servicable replacements for Jackson, Villanueva, Hammell or even Shark lurking in AAA - you almost have to pull that trigger.

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    In reply to Cuyler:

    I really wanted them to sign someone like Eric Chavez last offseason to fill that sort of Rolen-type role.

  • No top prospect should be rushed just to please the fans. Don't
    bring them up untill they are fully ready and pass the magic date.
    Remember it is better to have them locked up for 6 years unstead
    of 5.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Couldn't agree more, especially with that first sentence.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Love the graph! Wish there was way to show what happens to the productivity when the player is advanced before mastering the skills required for the next level.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Haha! It is a crude graph but I'm glad you liked it ;) I think the kind of graph you speak of would be difficult, since it would seem to rely on some subjectivity. Maybe players who had less than 300 ABs at AA and AAA -- but even that isn't a perfect solution.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    What the hell is the magic date?
    A very big percentage of people that comment really need to stop regurgitating every damn article they read... Let's be realistic here, Bryant is ready NOW to play in the Bigs. He is ready, point blank. His defense isn't ready, but why waste his bat in the minors? Why?????

    P.S.
    You don't own the Cubs, so please stop worrying about "control" and stop referring to "fans" like you're a ufcking scout. Control is $$$, the Cubs have it. Did "control" stop Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr, Starlin Castro, et al?

  • In reply to Daddy:

    the magic date is the service clock timeline for rookies...a player's arbitration eligibility is determined by the number of MLB games he was on the 25 man roster for (not counting Sept callups). if he's in the majors before a certain date in a given season, then he's eligible for arbitration a full season sooner than otherwise...which means fewer years of club control.

    ...and, really, not sure how you can be so definitive about bryant's readiness for the show. wasn't baez just as impressive in AA last year? wasn't HE ready for the show as they were breaking spring training this year? unfortunately, he's not been able to translate that performance into sustained success at AAA since. i'm happy for him to have those growing pains in the minors, frankly, than on the big stage of wrigley field.

  • Don't bring up a top prospect just to please the fans. Also remember
    the magic date. It's better to have them under control for 6 years
    instead of 5.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Correct me if i am wrong, but i dont think "super two" loses a year of control. I just think they get 4 years of arbitration instead of 3

  • Yes, that is correct but the disadvantage there is that it sets the bar higher for every subsequent contract leading up to free agency. It adds up.

    I expect Bryant to get at least 300 ABs to a full season in AAA.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    No Way! Bryant will not get 300 AB'sn AAA.
    Just yesterday I believe you suggested he would be up after the all-star game. Which is it?

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    He will be up in AAA after the all-star game.

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    I think he meant he would move up to AAA after the break

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    In reply to Randy Michelson:

    He never said "up". John said "promoted" as in to AAA. And just a disclaimer if Bryant gets 300 PA's in AAA that puts his call up in about Sept of 2014. Be patient.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    Yes, that is what I meant.

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    AAA.

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    I believe Johnny A was refering to Bryant coming up after the DOUBLE A all-star break (not the MLB), and coming up to TRIPLE A (not the majors).

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    They never said we would have the worst team in baseball for 3-5 years.

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    They said progress isn't linear -- many times. Got to read between the lines there.

    I can't emphasize enough how progress is not an incremental step by step process in the real world. I don't know why people don't see it when it comes to baseball, Teams have periods of lulls and big leap forward all the time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So, the question becomes, when will we see 'incremental' progress with the big league club. Lets assume some incremental progress and test if everyone is OK with it. 2014: 65 wins. 2015: 70 wins. 2016: 78 wins. 2017: 82 wins. 2018: 85 wins. 2019: 89 wins and 2nd wild card. 2020: 92 wins and Division title.

    Raise your hand if you are OK with not making the playoffs until 2019?

    Now, some of you will say 'yeah, but then we will be in the playoffs for XX consecutive years!!!!'. And that may very well be true, but I'm not really interested in discussing the possibility of the Cubs making the playoffs from 2020 - 2025. I'm interested in the team making the moves to put a competitive team on the field sooner rather than later.

    John at what point do you get to the point where you can openly criticize the team for not attempting to be competitive? Will you do that if by 2016 they are still throwing up 63 win seasons? 2017?

    I have this sinking feeling that we will be having this same discussion 12 months from now. And then again 24 months from now.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    As a general rule, I don't believe in linear incremental progress. That is my point. I believe in plateaus, occasional dips, and great leaps forward.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, what would you consider 2014? Or the projected 2015 unless Theo actually makes some signings that will impact the club long-term? A plateau or a protracted trough?

    From and organizational perspective, we are in a better place than we were 3 years ago. The component that matters the most, the big league club, we are actually (based on our current record) in worse shape. And if we trade a potential Cy Young candidate, it won't get much better in 2015. If[when] we trade away Shark and Hammel, we will be, most likely, 100 loss team.

    My 'argument' is - why can't Theo actually fulfill his initial plan of building through parallel paths? Theo has done basically zero to improve the big league club. The only thing he has done is trade for Rizzo. He gave up talent to get talent. Rizzo has been more valuable than Cashner, but its not like it was completely uneven.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    i, for one, hope to NOT see incremental improvement in the MLB team.

    what i'm hoping for is an exponential improvement as the result of the lineup being filled with low-cost avg MLB performers from the minors.

    we're starting to see the fruits of those efforts, BTW...the bullpen is composed of high-floor, low-cost arms. the IF has a few holes to fill...which we're likely to see as Olt picks up more playing time and a certain converted-shortstop takes over 2B in the coming months.

    the OF may be another story as Alcantara might patrol CF well enough to earn a spot in the MLB lineup, but the bar isn't being set too high in either LF or RF for an impact player to step in and really improve the lineup.

  • In reply to ratay1:

    Its crazy to me that people actually hope for the team to be terrible or not improve. A team able to go from 65 wins to 85 wins from one season to the next is very rare. It just doesn't happen all that often. And even wins in the high 80's doesn't guarantee you a playoff appearance.

    Besides, it would likely take at least SOME impact FA signings to get there. The assumption that Theo will drop major cash on multiple FA in one off season is a dream.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    with all due respect, i don't "hope" for a terrible cubs team.

    but, if the tradeoff is between having an 80 win team, winning nothing and taking "10" years to develop a talent pipeline from the farm system to give you a chance to compete OR having a 60 win team and taking "4" years to develop the farm system to the same state, i'll take plan B every day and twice on sunday.

    plan A brings with it several other variables to consider...like overpaying for talent that won't be contributing in the out years of their contracts, blocking valuable young players' ascensions at specific positions.

    is it a crap shoot? sure. not every high draft pick is going to bear fruit, but signing draft-pick-compensation free agents reduces the number of lottery tickets the FO holds, incremental salary across multiple years at MLB-average levels hampers the ability to keep the powder dry for that impact FA when he's available.

    this is the bitter pill we have to swallow and i, for one, would rather take all my medicine right now, thankyouverymuch...

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    In 2006 the cubs won 66 games. In 2007 they won 84 and won the division. It has happened recently enough that it isn't out of the realm of possibility.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Ricketts say this Cubs team "will compete" for the playoffs this year? At the convention?

  • In reply to Melancubby:

    no, he said he felt the team had the capability to compete for the playoffs..just like theo "estimated" the re-build to take 4-5 yrs. fans trying to set these things in stone is ridiculous.

  • In reply to Melancubby:

    Ricketts is the owner. His job is to sell tickets.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yankees haven't had many lulls.

  • In reply to Melancubby:

    Huh? From 1982 to 1994 the Yankees didn't go to the playoffs NOT ONCE. Steinbrenner tried to build the team through high=price free agent veterans which was a recipe for mediocrity despite having some good players. That was until Steinbrenner hired Howard Spira to uncover damaging information on Winfield and was busted and suspended from day-to-day operations by the Commissioner . That allowed GM Gene Michael to shift from high-priced free agents to developing talent through the farm system. That led to Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. That's how they became a dynasty starting in 96', through losing and development...despite people's revisionist history.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    +1

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    In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    They haven't been the "worst team in baseball" in any year under this regime (though they're on pace this year). Seriously though, would 2 3rd place finishes have you feeling better right now?

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Yes, Matt, and 2 third place finishes would likely put us further behind because we would not have Kris Bryant to be waiting on. When the time is right the free agents will begin to arrive.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    such a great point and it really can't be understated...

    being upset that they're not "in" on avg MLB talent via free agency is missing two critical points:

    1) avg MLB players are in demand...they don't sign 1-2 year contracts and certainly not at bargain basement prices

    2) avg MLB players are probably worth an addl 1-2 WAR ea...fuzzy math, but if you add enough of them, you're in the 80 win range and considerably worse off as it relates to draft position.

    there aren't that many ways to acquire high-impact talent under the new CBA. the IFA rules changed dramatically. MLB FA-loss compensation changed dramatically. all these things pointed in one direction for a rebuild like the cubs had to take on...tank it till you make it.

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    I've been commenting on Twitter that this year has really been weird for me. With the rough spot picking fourth has put us in this year, I want the #1 overall pick more than ever next season.

    But during the game, I pull for the team so hard. Especially guys like Rizzo and Castro. It's nice to see the pieces coming together.

    And then, the second the game is over, I feel a little sick to my stomach if they won. I have this horrible feeling we're going to sweep the Rays in August and that pushes us out of the cellar.

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    I agree. It's tempting to promote everybody because you want to see improvement. But the only "Pro" is immediate gratification; there are many "Cons" to promoting Bryant and Baez and everyone else early. Personal development is important. There are also 40-man roster considerations; Baez and Bryant do not have to be added this offseason. That will give the Cubs additional flexibility. Finally, service time considerations are also important, because we need to save our money to add players around the core via Free Agency when the time comes.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Yep, agree with all of this.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    great point on the 40 man. It still grinds my gears thinking about when Hendry lost his depth at 3B with McGhee

    as for this team, let the prospects mature according to plan but please don't make me watch a lineup that has 4 position players with OBP's less than their weights.

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    In reply to Cuyler:

    I forgot about McGahee, but that's a great example. 40-man spots are valuable, particularly in the offseason. Teams with a couple to spare can grab a couple extra guys on the cheap, when other teams are struggling to keep it to 40. Valbuena and Rondon are two players on our club as a direct result of a 40-man roster crunch by the Indians.

  • Great article, John. There was a terrific piece by Joe Posnanski a few days ago about the Oakland A's, pointing out that the success of their Moneyball approach isn't that they're smarter than everyone else but rather that they stay disciplined. It concludes: "See, the A's are not a testament to genius. They are a testament to doggedly stopping themselves from making the mistakes everyone else makes." The article is at http://www.nbcsports.com/baseball/mlb/oakland-way

    So here's my question: are Theo and Jed as disciplined as Billy Beane and his management team -- will they resist calls for quick fixes and stay focused on the big picture? Your article sure gives me hope that's the case.

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    In reply to October:

    The Red Sox are still being run the way Theo set them up to run, so there's a litlle evidence there as to how Theo would do things, and it's pretty encouraging.

    Despite a rough start and poor record, they didn't promote Mookie Betts who was killing the minor leagues even moreso than Bryant. They really didn't make any panic moves at all.

  • John,

    this doesn't pertain to Bryant, but do you see any of the bullpen arms like Ramirez, Grimm, or Rondon getting a chance at starting in the future?

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    In reply to NathanE:

    I would like to see Grimm get another shot. He will still have an option next season.

    Rondon has had arm trouble, and you hate to mess with success; I would leave him be.

    Same for Ramirez; some arm issues, he's doing great, and also he is out of options after this year. He needs to settle into his role now, because we won't have the flexibility to have him stretch out at Iowa or work out control problems there next year. This is it.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree for the most part but you don't have to stretch out at AAA. You can do it during spring training without needing options.

  • I think the majority of people who say wait, wait, wait are the same people that will be complaining that playoff tickets are too expensive for the "real" fans.
    Houston has 5 million people, Chicagoland about 10 Million...yeah were just twice as big, why not use the same business/player development model. I also love how anyone who wants to see Bryant in the major leagues must obviously be "someone who just checks box scores" and doesnt really know whats going on.
    Write this blog in NY and you would be run out on the rails...but winning is actually important to them, not tanking for a draft pick

  • In reply to ChiTownD:

    thankfully this isnt NY

  • In reply to ChiTownD:

    And how does any of this suggest that Bryant is ready for AAA? How does any of this have relevance when it comes to responsible player development. (Hint: it doesn't).

    Bryant will not make the Cubs a winner and you know nothing of player development. All you want is a shiny new toy to make you want to utilize your season tickets more. I cannot think of a worse reason to promote Bryant.

    And I guarantee you such reasoning will fall on deaf ears in the front office. They care about what's best for the organization, they are not here to entertain you.

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    In reply to ChiTownD:

    You were the same guy yesterday in the minor league recap giving the impression that the Cubs practically owe it to you to bring up the great prospects they have because you are a season ticket holder. Just keep it cool, man. I don't understand why people are clamoring for them to come up every year like these players are Greek gods. I'm as big a Cubs as anyone, but we've never had a FO with as much talent and management abilities as this one. For example, they decided to go with Kris Bryant in the 1st round of last years draft when the Cubs "needed" a TOR pitcher. That is great scouting in drafting the highest impact player in the draft. Not to mention the Garza trade that netted 3 major leaguers and the Cubs top pitching prospect for 2 months of Garza. In my opinion, Cubs fans need to look at the track record of a FO like the Cubs and let them do what they are brought here to do. Especially the Chicago media writers like Patrick Mooney and Jesse Rodgers. The FO has done a great job so far and we owe it to them to give them the benefit of the doubt with every move they make. Not every move is going to be perfect, (Edwin Jackson for example) but name me a FO that's batted 1.000 for their career in trades, signings, and draft picks. Be patient and appreciate what we have that's making us have hope for the future success instead of frustrations with large bloated contracts, a farm system with a bleak future, and a team that continually under performs despite a high payroll. (I'm talking to you LAA) Btw great article, John. Coming through as always.

  • In reply to Bobby1005:

    Thank you Bobby.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "Bryant will not make the Cubs a winner and you know nothing of player development"....Wow, I dont know which of those statements is more fallacious. First off, you may write alot about the Cubs but that doesnt give you any player development credibility. I wasnt aware of your long track record of cultivating high school players and freshly signed Dominicans into solid everyday MLBrs. Please educate me as to your most recent successes...you must be the Dave Duncan of the blogoshphere. Taking guys from the scrap heap to Kyle Lohse status..
    Kris Bryant would make us a better team tonight. Its fine you dont think so, I know it would because "I read box scores" damnit. He would bat third tonight moving Rizzo to the number two slot w/ high OBP and some power ala Joey Votto. Rizzo is not a 3 or 4 hitter and has been miscast...like so many other Cubs prospects. Was Corey Patterson a leadoff hitter, absolutely not, but Dusty Baker messed him up real good. How about Starlin Castro, is he a patient Number 2 hitter? No, but Hoystein's hand picked boy wonder, Dale Sveum, messed him up almost to the point of no return. Those are just two examples of prospects being messed with, one by the current regime.
    Regardless if I have season tickets or not at least I have the guts to say losing almost 375 games in 4 seasons is an embarrassment, especially in our market with such passionate fans. But there will always be apologist "journalists" who refuse to speak truth to power because u may lose yur sources and contacts if you dare call them out...

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    In reply to ChiTownD:

    "at least I have the guts to say losing almost 375 games in 4 seasons is an embarrassment"

    I'm also going to show guts by taking some controversial stances:
    Puppies are cute
    Education is important
    Cancer is bad

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    LOL! Nicely played.

    As for me, I'll just say it, "Losing 375 games in 4 games is an embarrassment."

    I feel 100% more gutsy already!

  • In reply to ChiTownD:

    I never said I did. I just said you don't. I do know people in scouting and development (many who are not with the Cubs organization), however, that I talk to on nearly a daily basis. I also know the Cubs front office people are very good at player development with an excellent track record. On the other hand, I doubt you have sat and evaluated Bryant on a day to day basis (or would have the training to do it properly even if you had), so sorry if I don't take your off-the-cuff evaluations of Bryant's MLB readiness seriously.

    And you keep assuming that front offices to do things to appease fans. They don't.

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    John,
    lt is time for Bryant to arrive. He was a college kid and is now in Cub orgization one full year. HE IS READY as soon as the super 2 date passes.

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    You are setting yourself up for disappointment here.

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    In reply to Randy Michelson:

    holy jeez. ONE FULL YEAR!?!?!111!!1!

    A FULL ONE? FOR REALLY REALZ?
    Well gosh, WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?

    let's start with playing a full season, and see how it goes from there.

  • We Cubs fans have too often seen the results of rushing players to the MLB before they are developed. Corey Patterson was a great example of a hot prospect that was promoted based on minor league performance, only to quickly fizzle at the top level. It can be argued that he shouldn't have been drafted in the first place, but he certainly would have had more chance to make it if his atrocious habits at the plate had been addressed before moving him up. Most Cubs fans can substitute a long list of names for Patterson's in this story.

    Bryant will be ready when he's ready. I'll wait.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I've never agreed with the premise that Corey Patterson 'fizzled'. He just never lived up to some of the hype.

    The guy had a very servicable 9-10 year career, and was actually quite good (mostly not for the Cubs sadly) in a couple of those seasons. 4000-5000 Career at-bats, 100+ HR, 400-500 Runs & RBI, 200+ stolen bases,...

    But IF your point is (and I suspect it is) that Patterson could have better prepared to cover some of his flaws if he had been developed more slowly - wlll wholeheartedly agree there.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Yeah, Corey gets a bad rep because if he had been developed correctly and fixed his holes, he really could have been a star. So that part is really disappointing, but guys who get 4000+ major league at bats are no slouch. Could have been much more though.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Actually, Patterson's slash line with the Cubs is slightly better than his 12-year career average. Compared with the current Cubs outfield, we should probably resign him!

    Even so, the "hype" was, in part, justified by his tools and potential, albeit overestimated by some. He showed flashes of the player he could be, but was wildly inconsistent throughout his career. Better development MIGHT have helped, but who's to say?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    RE: Better development MIGHT have helped, but who's to say?

    Yeah, and working out and lifting weights might make you stronger, but who's to say?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I don't think another year or two in the minors would've helped Patterson's baseball IQ. The guy never adjusted his approach at the plate. I also remember watching him play center. He was lackadaisical and "drifty".

    I'm not saying promote Bryant to the bigs right now, but he's shown that he adjusts, which is so important for a player to not only stick, but excel.

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    What you describe (approach at the plate, being "drifty"in the field) are problems that can be addressed with proper coaching and a disciplined development plan. The Cubs front office at the time Patterson was coming up had neither. He was promoted without showing improvement in his approach, and that likely had him be less than he could've been once he reached the majors.

    This is exactly what the Cubs are trying to avoid with their top prospects today. I agree with you that a player's ability to adjust is definitely important. But then they must be given adequate time to make those adjustments. Based on previous players examples, the 300 PAs number seems to be the minimum amount of time needed to see if adjustments are being made.

  • 100% behind the re-build.. I agree, make sure these guys are ready.. also, there is definitely no need to bring them up now.. we have the worst record currently, and it would be more beneficial to stay the worst team for the first pick in next years draft.. let these guys develop.. possibly give a few sept call ups and get em ready for June call ups next year and get the gears in motion then.

  • Seems like this is an 'all or nothing' type of discussion. Either sign ALL THE FA or go the Houston Astros route. Which it shouldn't be. I'm not advocating for Bryant to be called up right now. I'm advocating for, if he continues to play well, to be called up in September. Along with Baez and have a legitimate shot at cracking the 25 man roster in April. However, if Theo trots out another team that is 'guaranteed to lose 95+ games' - I'm generally OK with keeping him down to get the extra year of control.

    But thats my major problem. Its the fact that they aren't actually trying to field a winning team. 1, 2, MAYBE three years of tanking is generally OK if you need to let the deadwood float away [i.e. bad contracts] - or if you are a small franchise. But this is the Cubs and we are looking at another year futility in 2015 unless Theo does some major work. Travis Wood, TRAVIS WOOD!, will likely be our #1 on August 1st. And will probably be our #1 on 4/1/2015. Our outfield will be filled with waiver wire pick-ups and Junior Lake. MAYBE Alcantara will be at 2B.

    For those hoping for a terrible team to get that elite prospect, one has to look no farther than the 2014 draft class. If the Cubs were picking 9th, they could still probably get Pentacost, or whoever they have in mind. Hell, they could probably get Pentacost at #18. Or #22. BUT, BUT, BUT our second pick! Well, look no further than the performance or our 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th round picks of last year. Or, look at what the Marlins traded for the 37th pick in this year's draft.

    Theo is a smart guy. Jed is a smart guy. 'Elite' if you will. Why can't they find a way to do the parallel path scheme they themselves discussed when they were hired?

    Lets assume Theo trades Shark and Hammel. Assuming arb raises and a Feldman-type deal ($8-10M), the Cubs will be fielding a $70M payroll in 2015. To me, what Theo does, or doesn't do this off season will be critical. His grace period ends on 4/1/2015. If we are looking at a similar roster on Opening Day, things could get ugly very quickly.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    His grace period doesnt end on 04/1/2015

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Agreed. I'm personally continuing to see what I view as progress being made even when the record looks this bad.

    I'm seeing this through until at least the beginning of year 6 before I start to get overly vocal. Real and sustained building projects take time in planning and in execution.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Well, Theo signed a 5 year contract. Either he is extended, or we are looking at his replacement. Then will the clock start over because you 'need to give the new guy time'?

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I don't think I am going out on a limb saying this but, Theo is doing a great job and will get extended. So don't worry about giving a new guy time, that won't happen.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    That's his opinion. He's entitled to one just like everyone else.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I agree on the opening line, it is not all or nothing. I have no firm opinions on the minor leaguers, I do not see them to know. I think there are a few things that can burn even some who support the rebuild.

    One is what can seem like a different all or nothing approach. No reason to have any productive veterans until after the prospects arrive. So, as mentioned above, the big hitters start to arrive and are depended on to produce and lead from day one (overstatement I know - Rizzo and Castro are there). And the pitching is (likely) mediocre because, again, no need to be anything but bad until ready to be great. I really wonder how many teams immediately turn the corner with ALL young players.

    The other thing is the lip service to winning - "every season is sacred," etc. I have pretty well tuned out the team at Wrigley and read here to follow the rebuild. I do worry that the FO is serious when it says it is trying to win - that would not reflect well on its evaluation skills.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Curious as to what makes you think right now that Baez will be ready for a call-up in Sept.?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I would advocate a call up to help him with the adjustment period. Help him understand how pro players go about their day. Get used to the travel and all that comes along with being in MLB (travel, social scene, girls, etc.). He would also get a taste for major league pitching to help him get a jump start on his transition. Aside from getting on the 40-man, there is basically zero downside.

    And before anyone starts complaining about the 40 man, there are easily 6-8 guys that could be taken off and the team wouldn't miss a beat.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    What about the whole playing like crap thing?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    IMO - IF Beaz continues to develop (offensively and defensively) and can get his K-rate down to managable levels and BA consistently over ~0.275 or so - they almost have to give him a cuo of coffee when the rosters expand in September.

    Although - if he is going to do so AND Castro is still having a solid year at SS in Wrigley - THEN they are going to have to experiment with what defensive position they want him to play when he hits the bigs, or they have to make preparations to move Castro to some other defensive position. They can't play them both at SS at the same time.

  • I see no need to rush prospects but I do see a need to make sure they are challenged enough to provide positive analytical and experience. It worries me slightly that there are these perceived limits. No two humans react alike. Bad habits form more out of easy success than out of failure.

    Granted there has been undue pressure, mostly media driven feeding off of the angst. The media has to report something and good news is far easier to report than bad news. So there are the questions of why not move someone up. I get that. It is natural. People want validation the bill of goods that was laid out is one being executed properly and two is providing return.

    It is alright for us to question if this process is valid and if the plan is working prior to the outcome. Just as it is alright for them to tell us to keep waiting.

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    In reply to Gator:

    great post.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Bryant has really only had one dominant month in AA. That is not the basis for a promotion under any circumstance, no matter who the player. Moreover some of that is due to unsustainable BABIP levels, which will certainly drop and his average, especially given his K rate, will fall down with it. On the bright side, the K rate is gradually moving downward, so that will help.

    We have to be careful not to be too myopic about our own players. Pedroia showed more polish at AA than Bryant did and it's quite a leap to say Bryant is a special case where Pedroia (an MVP player) was not.

    I really haven't seen any good argument for a promotion to be honest. I think most of it is really driven by a desire to see visible progression and none of it has to do with what is best for his development.

  • fb_avatar

    I was not in the camp of Baez making the team out of spring training, or any of the other immediate gratification camps mentioned in the article, but I think it's getting a bit ridiculous with Bryant. After the AA All-star break is fine, but if he continues to dominate AAA anywhere close to the way he has AA, I will be pretty annoyed (for whatever that's worth) if he doesn't get a shot in September, or break camp in 2015.

    Baez clearly hasn't dominated AAA. And, if his numbers stay anywhere close to where they are, he'll be staying put for awhile. But, if he continues to rebound, the way he has at every other level, I can't see any justification for him to be left at AAA for a season and a half.

    I just want the progress of these guys to be determined by performance, not need of the big-league club, fan pressure, super-2 dates, or my own innate need to see progress.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    You're comment is correct. At this point, we need to do what's best for our prospects. Nothing less.

  • Good article, John... The Astros are a good example.

    I often hear people say that there is no progress because the record has been almost the same since 2012 and while I don't think that's any indicative of progress, the suggestions usually imply something about how the Cubs should've added about 5 wins every year through free agency each season and that isna scary thought that would've never worked with the situation at hand... By year 3, the players from year 1 wouldn't represent 5 wins, maybe 2-3, maybe they're gone, the payroll tanks again, etc... Plenty of reasons not to ditch the current path.

  • In reply to Caps:

    actually,, what the astros are doing this year, is what we will be doing next year.. Springer and Singleton June call ups.. next year we could see Bryant and Baez as June call ups.. and hopefully we will have the #1 pick in the draft like the stro's this year.. :wink

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Springer was up in April but really struggled. Good thing the Astros let him work through and make adjustments and now he looks much better.

    I wish Bryant or Baez was up right now but w basically no protection on the team and no real veterans to learn from. Let them dominate AAA along w learning from one of the best right handed hitters of this generation Manny Ramirez can not hurt.

    I just hope we aren't killing Castro and Rizzo w all this losing. So much losing that they get that mentality of expecting to lose before they even get to the ball park

  • In reply to Caps:

    The Astros are a good example. An example of a team that drew 0 Neilsen ratings on several games this and last year. If the Cubs are going to be this bad and only one or two of them are going to still be on the "real" team whenever that shows up, I'm probably going to stop watching for a while, it's too painful. Also the lack of talented veterans on this team to show the kids how it's done I think will come back to bite us on the ass.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    they did draw 0 nielsen ratings.. and they currently have one of the hottest hitting rookies in baseball and just called up another one and have greatly improved their play since Springer has been called up.. they also were allegedly the team with biggest profits last year.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    You don't have to watch the Cubs right now if you dont want to... I meant a good example but didn't mean it up to the 0 Nielsen rating, I don't think that will happen to the Cubs.

    But if next year they called up Bryant and Baez and they lead the Cubs to a 14-8 month of May and the best start in at least 5 years, don't you think the low ratings will be forgotten and fans will hop on the bandwagon again? I bet the ratings and attendance have started to pick up again for teams like the Astros and Marlins.

    As far as talented veterans go... There's no reason to think that some of the "non-talented" veterans can't teach them... After all, Springer and Singleton have less than that and don't seem to have much problem... Andrew McCutchen didn't have a lot of talented veterans around him and he turned out just fine... But I totally understand your points.

  • My point on this is that you need leadership in the clubhouse. You just can't let a bunch of young players mill around looking for direction from the coaching staff all the time. Instead of selling at the deadline trade and spend money and get one legitimate leader who leads by example and is a star player.

  • In reply to Cuyler:

    veteran leadership is doing wonders in philadelphia.. leadership is a piece of the puzzle.. but a small one imo

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    There are no young players to be led in Philly. It's literally ALL veterans. So it's a different situation.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    and when they tear that mess down.. they wont have any veteran leadership either to make a difference in the win loss column. so the point is moot.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Yeah, they're in a pretty rough place right now. Glad I'm a Cub fan not a Philly fan.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    The veteran leaders led the Phillies to a title, sure the future looks bleaker than most but I bet Phillie fans wouldn't trade the title for the Cubs future.

    And people would be lying if they said they wouldn't trade the Phillies title for the Cubs future.

  • In reply to Simmons:

    leadership is a role that someone can mold into also.. Like Stanton with Florida.. I also think Rizzo and Castro have mad great strides in that regard.. maybe with a little help from Renteria.

  • First off got to say this is my first post here, some friends turned me on to this site and I got to say it has fast become one of my primary places to get Cubs info.

    Regarding the article I couldn't agree more. Theo & Crew never sugar coated it, they weren't refurbishing a house, they had to tear down the old one and build up something new. Let the prospects get their ABs in the minors and let them learn there and become more seasoned. The article where John compared Baez's struggles to a boxer learning how to be a fighter instead of a brawler was a great analogy. Raw talent is great but learning how to perfect your craft is what the minors are for.

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    Thanks Mike! I appreciate the kind words and the insightful comment.

  • Patience with prospects is not just reserved for promotion to the next level, but also includes patience in development before releasing or moving prospects at the lower levels. With all the struggles at third, yet we had and lost people like Eric Hinske, Casey McGehee, etc. We had Josh Donaldson. Heck, didn't we have Josh Hamilton at one point? All the kids we sent to Tampa, etc. Mistakes of lack of patience happen there as well. (And I know all teams can provide examples of people who developed after giving up on them.) How about Greg Maddux? I know they knew he was good, but didn't want to spend the money and maybe thought he would break down because of his high innings at a young age, but clearly a huge error. Just want this FO to not make as many of those mistakes as past regimes. I'm on the wrong side of 60 and would like to have a series in my future.

  • So draft the killer rabbit, stockpile the holy hand grenades, hire the knights who say Ni! for the grounds crew and we may win upper class twit of the year! Oh and figure out what that joke was that single handedly beat the Germans! I know, but its been so long. How about fawlty towers as the name of the new hotel?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Haha!

  • I've bought in with the rebuild. I know the losing now is to build a better future.

    That being said, if Theo can't put together a season below 90 losses (looks like 3 in a row this season) I don't see how the Cubs can justify extending his contract. At that point I don't give a damn how the prospects are doing or how good the farm is.

    The rebuild was absolutely necessary. But at a certain point, I'm giving it 5 years, the length of his contract, then change must be made.

  • doubt Ricketts is judging Theo on the success of the MLB team currently.. he is being judged on how the re-build is going. and its going to how it was drawn up.. he has been a success in that regard

  • Do you think the FO will wait until June to call up Brant and Baez, no matter how they handle AAA this year. If so, I don't see us as major players in free agency and having a similar start as this season.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    Most Likely

  • In reply to ejs1:

    That's a good point. Having placeholders at 3B/2B/OF for the kids for the first 1/3 of the season gives the Cubs a greater chance to come out of the gate stumbling.

    Get ready for more of Barney/Olt/Valbuena.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    If Baez and Bryant don't play at Wrigley in September, they will NOT be there until June of 2015. If we don't get any big free agents, 2016's trade pick will also be in the Top 5. I'm very nervous about our pitching going forward. I hope Rodon falls to us this year.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    sorry, didnt expand on the second part.. No, I dont see us being major players this offseason.. I think they want to see how Baez, Bryant and Maybe Alcantara do first... or how does Olt play out along with those prospects.. I think the want to figure out who plays where and having a good fee in that regard before we go out in free agency.. that probably will be the same with some of our young SP's also..

  • I want Bryant and any other prospect to be promoted because that means they have met the objectives of the FO to earn promotion and that in turn, means that they are that much closer to reaching the Bigs and impacting the team.

    I don't want them promoted because I think they should be promoted and am anxious and want the team to be better.

    I think there is a major difference between the two of them.

    When the FO determines Bryant should be in Iowa, that means they are confident that they are one step closer to being in Chicago. That gets me excited about the future. As we all know, when Baez and Bryant are in the Majors, this team will be much, much better and much more competitive.

    So I want Bryant and Baez to achieve the goals (whatever those goals are) of the FO to gain promotion and get us one step closer to being a real MLB team.

    Hope that makes sense.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Makes a lot of sense, Irwin. Great points.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    For *some* of the people here, probably too much sense. Great stuff, Irwin.

    John... fascinating, fabulous article!!!

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Thanks MB!

  • I'm all for not rushing the prospects. Having said that, we can't continue to just pick up waiver wire AAAA guy's and hope one or two stick. We need to be locating some potential guys that can be leaders in the clubhouse and on the field. Last offseason was not great for guys like that, Choo was too old with bad splits, Cano's length and price were crazy. This offseason I would like to see a piece to the puzzle added to ease the transition of those guys coming up next year. I will start to get upset/annoyed if we continue to *ONLY* pick up the waiver wire guys and not someone who can actually contribute when it matters 2015-2016. Still think we should see Baez end of this year and Bryant after super 2 status next year

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubswin2015:

    The pitching is the real concern for me. We are not going to break the bank for mad max Scherzer, and we don't have an ace in waiting at any level. ( sure someone could surprise over the next couple of months ) If we draft Gordon w the the 4th pick, then our potential offense will even look more loaded. Unfortunately we need some pitching to develop/surface from somewhere.

    Those who think that Ricketts/jedstein will open up the check book to get the pitching we need better be ready for the possibility of disappointment. They didn't do it for Yu Darvish, ( nobody knew how good he would be along w the competition he faced, but anyone, yes I mean anyone who watched the guy pitched and looked at his perfect pitchers body would know he would have a chance to succeed at this level) came up short on Ryu, and the again on Tanaka. ( all perfect options for a rebuilding team w lots of offense coming thru the pipeline)

    Is tanaka over paid, probably yes, but when your a bad bad team and saving loads of $$ the past few years w very low payroll your going to have to over pay. Perhaps this is a moot point as some will say even If they beat the Yankees offer, he wouldn't come play for us.

  • While I agree with most of the arguments, I do believe, yes, Bryant is a special case.

    So, I think it's time for AAA or the Majors as the next step.

    I really don't see what else he has to "prove" in AA, when lesser players from Double A get called up all the time to AAA. If he falters in AAA, fine, leave him there, if he excels, life is short, don't hold the man down.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Why is he a special case? He has had one dominant month in AA. Remember Rizzo hit .331/.404/.652 with 26 HRs in 70 games with the Padres AAA team -- and he still wasn't ready for the majors. Similar player in power and approach and Hoyer always regretted bringing him up too soon. Needed another half year in AAA after that.

    Pedroia was even more polished than Bryant at AA and he got 300 PA before his promotion to AAA. You cannot convince me Bryant is any more special than Pedroia.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You make a good argument. ;)

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    ;)

    I do, but sometimes I like to play devil's advocate. I am all for promoting Bryant, but I am willing to wait 2 weeks.

  • I have faith the team will bring these guys up when they are ready. I see quite a bit of difference between Baez and Bryant though. Baez is just learning that he has to tweak his all or nothing approach if he wants to compete against smarter and better pitching. Last year and this year at new levels he has been forced to adjust due to slow starts at a new more skilled levels. At AAA this year the adjustment period has been especially tough for him. Bryant on the other hand has yet to be challenged enough to make him make significant adjustments. If that stays the same after promotion to AAA later this year and Baez finishes his adjustments satisfactorally then I can see a likely scenario of both getting a cup this year or at least on the 25 man by May next season when the team can save a year of control. Holding them back after that would not be nice at all. I do not expect a protected pick in 2016.

  • fb_avatar

    My only point of contention with this is that, if Bryant dominates AAA the rest of these season and has a strong spring, he should be brought north with the team. Particularly if they do go out and add some free agent talent to the team.

    Bryant is not only the best position prospect in the system, he's probably the Cubs best position prospect in my lifetime. He could be a big difference maker in the early months. If we're going to make a serious run next year, then let's put our best team on the field instead of holding back the best player on the team to get an extra year at the end of the contract.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This has been my exact and only point as well. Couldn't agree more Mike

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike,
    Let's not dismiss the importance of the "Super 2" date in regards to Bryant, especially if he is as special a player as we all hope. The fact that Boras is his agent, should lead us to believe that there will be no Cubs-friendly extensions and Bryant will pursue free agency as soon as he is eligible. This is Boras' MO. I am not saying the Cubs will not meet Bryant's asking price when the time comes. However, when the AAV of his free agent contract is in the $30 neighborhood, I think the short-sightedness of bringing him up too early in 2015 will really come back to bite the Cubs after the 2021 season when his free agent contract could have been delayed until after the 2022 season. This also does not take into consideration the extra year of arbitration. Look back at how much more Tim Lincecum was paid during his years of control than Ryan Braun in this link:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100506&content_id=9840460&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

    As much as I would love to see a much more competitive team on opening day next year, I believe that waiting on Bryant, and to a lesser extent Baez, until after the "Super 2" date in 2015 is the smarter way to go.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    I meant to say an AAV of $30 million.

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    In reply to rdacpa:

    I see what you're saying. Here's where I'm coming from, though.

    I'm concerned about development and maximizing competitiveness. If he can be developed better by keeping him in AAA, then do that. Absolutely nothing else matters.

    But if he is ready to go and spending time in AAA won't help him AND you've spent big over the offseason to bring in top players for next year (think Lester, trade for CarGo, and possibly Denard Span), then I think you're being penny wise and pound foolish by not bringing him up -- you're trading competitiveness in a year at the beginning of his contract with competitiveness in a year at the end of his contract.

  • I assume Bryant will be in AAA after the AA All-Star game. If he continues to produce at AAA through August I would expect him to be up in 2015 as soon the Cubs gain the extra year of control. I'd love to see him this year but don't expect it. If he is held down any longer than that for reasons other than performance I'll have a bit of an issue with that.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Eric and Mike I agree with you both. Best position prospect by far that I can remember due to the combination of power and plate discipline. I'd love to see a cup of coffee this year but that is up to performance. I can see what a couple good bats could mean to the team righ now so I am really expecting good things as soon as we start bringing in some bats next season.

  • In reply to Eric:

    That is my assumption as well.

  • Another brilliant and perceptive article, John.
    One difficulty for us long-time and hard-core Cub fans is the milieu we are in. Factors: the 100+ year thing; the often
    ill-informed media whose job it is to sell newspapers, not provide solid and thoughtful analysis; peripheral fans, those who want us to sign high profile free agents regardless of the consequences (less financial flexibility when needed for a few extra wins) and a culture of
    "Results now, dammit." The Cubs lame PR efforts (celebrating Ruth's "called shot")
    don't help.
    I am as pained as anyone to see the product currently on the field. But, what "deep-dish" Cub fans want is what John and others have been preaching:
    Solid, sustainable organization wide excellence resulting in annual successful performance.
    Oh yeah and a WS title now and then.
    To coin a phrase: Let Epstein be Epstein.

  • In reply to tboy:

    Thanks and agreed. This is why we can never have nice things.

    Sometimes Cubs fans remind me of kids going on a long trip incessantly asing, "Are we there yet?"

    Don't make Theo turn this car around people!

  • You don't rush Bryant just to rush him. But then the next question is, when is the proper time to promote him? If he continues to be the best player in AA then what is the proper amount of time to wait? It's possible he's ready now.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Nobody can be certain, so you have to go with trends and historical data. A general barometer has been 300 PAs for star level players. Bryant will be around that number in 2 weeks.

  • fb_avatar

    You could have said the same thing about Baez after last year's performance at AA. Yet this FO sent him to Iowa and said he had a few things to work on. Fans on the other hand were salivating to see him at Wrigley. Now a few months into the season fans have turned their attention to Bryant because of his "video game" type of stats.

    The FO was right about Baez and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on Bryant as well. Here's a thought, I hope Bryant has some struggles against some of this higher level talent. He showed he wasn't fazed with his initial start (0 for 5), but that was against much lower level talent. How quickly can he adjust to struggles at higher levels? All great players have to make adjustments. Everyone has some hit-less streaks but it's the great ones that recognize them quickly and adjust.

    Then I love how folks are still shouting about the payroll. The Cubs gotta spend money while we wait for these guys develop. Oh really? So we stay ay .500 forever? We also lose out on the ability to draft guys like Almora or Bryant because those few extra wins pushed us back in the draft order. Not to mention to sign the type of guy that fans want (Ellsbury) we gotta get tied down again with a contract for a guy that doesn't produce enough to justify the money he's being paid in about 2 or 3 years.

    Lastly, why do some fans just think the # of wins should go up a little each year in order to see progress? There are plenty of teams that go from last place to the playoffs the next season. Are you trying to tell me that the 2015 season will have the Cubs going from 5th place to only 4th place in the Central? I totally disagree!

    I may be in the minority here but I see the addition of Baez, Bryant and Alcantara in the 2015 lineup pushing the Cubs into the playoffs next season! They may not get that ring but making the playoffs yearly is where we want to go!

  • fb_avatar

    Hey John love what you do here on Cubs Den. It's refreshing coming to a site with actual substance and logic. I rarely comment, but if the Cubs want to sustain success, have a young core with a strong farm, and contend from here on out; this is what they need to do:
    (No need to explain each reason those who read this will see the understanding behind most)

    First, SIGN SHARK!!!! Like many say, on a contender he can be something special, why not our contender.

    Second, and most important:
    Try there best to convince a Marlins organization; notorious for over thinking things, to trade for Giancarlo Stanton, with a deal centered around.....I know I know God forbid on this site, but Kyle Hendricks, CJ Edwards, Jorge Soler, Christian Villauena and drum roll please Starlin Castro. Use the #4 draft for the best SS available. The rest of the draft should be nothing but pitchers that can be expected to replace Kyle Hendricks and CJ Edwards' worth. Which should be easy in a draft this deep with pitching quality.

    Next, Work some magic to get a good haul of prospects for Barney, Ruggiano, Nate, and whoever to restock the farm.
    Send Olt to AAA for consistant ABs, confidence, and maybe to learn the OF. Promote Bruno to AAA too, and........

    YES!!! Time to promote Javier Baez SS, Alcantara 2B, and Kris Bryant 3B to Wrigley. Why not allow them to prove how special they are/can be on our AAAA team already in place at the friendly confines.

    Result:

    MLB Team Rotation:
    1. Bonafacio CF 1. Shark
    2. Rizzo 1B (O-B-P!!!!) 2. Hammel
    3. Stanton RF 3. Wood
    4. Bryan 3B 4. Arreita
    5. Baez SS 5. Jackson/Prospect
    6. Lake LF (YOUNG SORIANO!!)
    7. Alcantara 2B Bullpen:
    8. Castillo C
    Already Set

    Bench:
    Baker (Keep the Hammel relationship intact)
    Valbuena (Utility)
    Vitters (1B/3B/OF)
    Coughlan/Kalish
    Developing Prospects

    Sorry the comment is long, not an easy team to fix. The team above is a YOUNG group that can contend every year without damaging the farm, allow the front office to focus on the farm for years, and spread the pressure to succeed where it counts most in the MLB; not, single A, Double A, or AAA.

    Finally, sign Sherzer next offseason and were set with a very young and solid rotation for years, great line up, solid bench, bullpen, and Farm.

    Thoughts?

  • I would jump at that deal for Stanton, but there is no way that Marlins trade for Castro and Soler with the amount of money they make. I also don't think you get Stanton without one of Bryant or Baez plus several other good prospects (Almora would be a guy that they probably want). Quality is always more important than quantity in a trade.

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    In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    I would say it's hard to resist a quantity of quality players like that. Especially to a team that's proven it has a tendency to do dumb things. Thanks for the input.

  • I'm all for keeping Shark if we can't do better by trading him. I'm not thinking it has to be done though. You can't mandate a player re-sign. It may well not be possible. Almost have to trade Hammel if you want to get anything from or for him at all. Always have a chance to get him back in free agency. Same with Shark a year later. As far as trades are concerned, teams are not going to want the prospects you proposed they are going to want their pick of the top 4 plus for guys like Stanton.

  • Thank WCTWL! I would actually love to keep Shark and pick up Stanton. One of my co-writers will have an article on Stanton after the draft, so that is something for you to look forward to.

    I don't think most of the players you talk about are ready, however, unless you mean at some point next season. Alcantara and Hendricks are the only ones along with perhaps another bullpen arm that might get the call this season if they continue to play well.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for the response.
    The current MLB isn't ready either.
    Why not give obvious talent a shot?
    They can learn from each other while learning against the best with Bryant leading the way on how to adjust everyday.

    What do you really think the chances are of a line up like that?

    And how interested would the Marlins be if Baez goes with package instead of Castro? I think Castro would fit the line up better as another veteran presence with Rizzo and Castillo.

    Looking forward to the article.

  • I think the better question is what purpose does it serve to have them up in the majors? The MLB is in no way a better learning environment, it is a harsh environment that can ruthlessly exploit your weaknesses, as Rizzo found out when he first came up with the Padres. It is not a developmental league the way AA and AAA are. Bryant needs work, so does Baez, so does Alcantara, and all their top propects and it is always better for them to learn in an appropriate environment.

    I truly don't understand the call to bring to the majors. I do not see a single advantage to it and I imagine the Cubs will get ripped by the other organizations for doing it. The Cubs should have moved past it by now, they have tried it in the past under Hendry and he has one of the worst developmental records in recent history. Now they have an organization with a track record for developing players. Why on earth would you not trust them to know what is best for their players and organization??

    I think Baez would be more appealing to them than Castro.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cooler heads ..................!

  • So how much money are you willing to spend on Scherzer? Signing Shark will probably cost 6yr/120m, so adding that to Scherzer's contract (which will, in all likelihood, be in the 6yr/160m-6yr/180m range), you are talking about future commitments of $300M for 2 pitchers, let alone the cost of the rest of the team. Stanton will want "Cano money" at some point, as well.

    Baez isn't close to being ready yet, and Bryant hasn't proven anything above AA yet.

    A lot of things would have to go right for all that to work for the Cubbies.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Scherzer already turned down a 6 year - 180 million contract from the Tigers

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Most reports had it as 6/$144M...Verlander got 7/$180M and the offer to Scherzer was reported to be less AAV than that.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Interesting, I must have remembered wrong, thanks. I'd love for the Cubs to get Scherzer, but paying a guy no matter how good he is now, $30 Million at age 36 is very risky. I would love a four year contract but that's not going to happen, in my opinion.

  • Ruggiano, Barney, and Olt are going to bring back anything right now. For next year, I'd like to see them spend money on 1 high level OF(preferably, a CF) and one high level SP. Would love to have Scherzer be that SP.

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    I'm not going to single anyone out because many people are saying it, but I do want to make a point about Bryant vs. Baez. I agree with John that Bryant shouldn't be brought up to the majors and, at the very least, should have 300 ABs in AAA to continue to prove himself.

    However, I don't think it's fair to say that Baez and Bryant were equal in AAA. Bryant has shown a much better approach than Baez, which has resulted in a walk rate over 6 percentage points higher than Baez. This approach -- not helping pitchers by swinging at bad pitches -- would put him in a better situation against major league pitchers at this point in his development than Baez would be in.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, I think we generally agree that the prospects should not be brought up until they are ready but that does not mean Bryant has to have 300 AAA at bats to be ready. If he takes to AAA like AA then 300 will not necessarilly be needed. In any case the extra year of control will be a consideration.

  • I am thrilled by the success that Bryant is having. That said I agree that he needs to be promoted. AAA will be a better test versus crafty if not overpowering pitchers. PCL is still a hitters league so I am very curious to see the results. I expected Baez to struggle, maybe not this much, but it will help him in the long run. My biggest frustration is that Soler can't stay healthy. He has an advanced approach and plays good defense and would have moved fairly quickly through the minors. Now I just want to see him get 500 AB's at any level.

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    If the first wave is almost here, what level is the second wave at right now? Or how long in between waves of talent?

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Next wave is the next season with Edwards, Johnson, maybe Almora, Bruno, Soler

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL. I guess I was thinking further down the line. Looking for some impact talent down in the low minors. I guess some of my questions will be answered in the next couple of days after the draft.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Further down the line is Paul Blackburn, Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Duane Underwood, and tomorrow and next year's draft pick could all end up being in one wave depending on if they are college or hs draftees

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Ah, further down well it depends on how far down. Blackburn and Tseng could be two guys.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Its so much fun that we can even be seeing a couple waves let alone three! Boy things have changed in 2 years. Now we need a sea of white caps just aching to break on our beach!

  • Assuming (and in my opinion (mostly based on what I've read here)) that Baez rakes the second half of the year in AAA and rakes in spring training, there is no reason for him to not be on the opening day roster.

    Assuming that Bryant moves to AAA after the all star game and does not miss a beat and does the same in spring training, there is no reason for him not to be on the opening day roster.

    If the development of the player is primary, then a player that is ready for the majors should not be held back for super two status reasons.

  • Based on performance, Bryant is clearly ready for AAA, and if he dominates at Iowa too, maybe even MLB. That being said, the Cubs after Theo's annual salary dump, will not be a good environment for developing young talent. Progress may not be linear (101-96-100+ most likely), but adding a few smart free agent signings (Michael Morse comes to mind) would have ensured a far less painful season, and provided the veteran leadership that seems to be missing since Soriano was traded last summer. The FO must, MUST sign some legitimate free agents (LF/RF/...) and make every effort to put a watchable, competive team on the field in 2015.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    Minor league performance doesn't always translate to MLB success. It is not close to being clear that the is ready. This has everything to do with Bryant's development and nothing to do with the state of the team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hear, hear!

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    per my post above, your "legitimate free agents" would've cost more than the 1-2 year investment window preferred during a rebuild, not to mention that those investments would come at positions likely to block the promotion of some of the "core four." on top of THAT, those free agents would likely push the MLB team slightly out of the NL Central cellar...maybe high enough that it cost them a top 5 pick in next year's draft.

    where's the "win" in that scenario?

  • Agreed, but he does need to be moved up to Iowa at least to see how he does at the next level up.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    Two weeks ;)

  • Brilliantly said John, this article summed up the feelings of many fans who are a less vocal minority but see that the organization is finally going in the right direction and doing things the right way. Hallelujah!

    Bryant, Baez, Alcantara and others will be up when they are ready, have checked off all the boxes on their development plan, and when it's in the best interest of the Cubs Organization long term, including financially. A prospect spending an extra 3 months in AAA in the grand scheme of things, and in the course of what hopes to be a long major league career, is nothing and will only make the prospects better, more prepared players when they reach the majors.

  • There is no doubt the slow, patient approach is the safest, most prudent approach with Bryant. I'm not saying he should skip AAA and come straight up to the bigs. But I hope John is right that he gets promoted to AAA in a couple of weeks after the AA all star game.

    Then if he dominates in AAA for two and half months, wouldn't it then make sense that he's a September call up? That's all I want. Not to have my shiny new toy, but only because he will have earned it. Oh, and I hope Baez's performance between now and the end of August also will warrant a September call up. Alcantara too? Now that -- those three or two out of three playing in the bigs -- would make for a fun and exciting and interesting final month to what otherwise appears to be another dreadful season.

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    I think there's no need for gloom and doom regarding 2015 already.

    I Still think there's a good chance that the FO makes some ballsy moves for pitching, but that won't necessarily improve our record much.

    I think there's a decent chance that Bryant makes his way to the opening day roster, but I'll be okay even if he gets the super-2 treatment. I think a big league promotion is too much of a distraction right now. I hope they tell Bryant that after the all star game, he will spend the rest of the season in Iowa.
    Sadly, the fan outrage could grow, because the PCL is so hitter friendly. Bryant's stats might look more ridiculous. But he has to get the K% down and adjust better to offspeed stuff. If he does that, then I would prefer to see him start next season on the team.

    Baez IMO is a guarantee to not see the Show until July at the earliest. He just isn't ready.

    I hope in a couple weeks that Alcantara gets "promoted" to the OF for the remainder of the season. and Bruno gets promoted to AAA.

    2015 is till up in the air. We've faced very tough schedules in April & may for the past TWO seasons. Maybe in 2015 we will get a more generous schedule. Castro & Rizzo's respective development helps. and I think Olt can still be very much productive. If Valbuena can make some contact at 2B and Alcantara can bring something to CF, things can go either way. It's not set in stone that 2015 will be bad.

    And honestly I'd MUCH prefer to bring Bryant up to a team that isn't playing bad. It's probably no help to young players to feel like they must save the team.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    The PCL is so hitter friendly? Why do you say that? Isn't the pitching better in AAA than AA? Isn't that why Baez has struggled to adjust to the more savy, experienced AAA pitching? Not picking a bone here, just wondering if that's true?

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    In reply to TTP:

    http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140203&content_id=66858162&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb&sid=milb

    Baez is struggling because he has no approach and thinks he can hit everything that leaves the pitcher's hand 450 feet.

    Iowa's park isn't as generous as most in the PCL, but overall the PCL is much more hitter friendly than most leagues.

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    In reply to TTP:

    It's very true. The PCL is behind only the California League in terms of hitters' leagues. Where I think the confusion is coming is that it's a "hitters league" assuming that the competition is equivalent. It might be tougher for someone like Javy to hit there because the pitchers are more experienced. (Also, the real airports tend to be out west.)

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/season-preview/2013/2614870.html

  • Add the last two Southern League MVPs (Brewers Hunter Morris and White Sox Marcus Semien) as further evidence that dominating AA does NOT mean AAA or MLB is going to be a piece of cake.

    But then there's Paul Goldschmidt (2011 SL MVP) who got 457 AA PAs, never spent a day at AAA, and has been making a few waves out in the desert ever since!

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    If Bryant had Goldschmidt's metrics, The Cubs might just be pushing him faster.

    Goldschmidt's walk rate was 3.5% higher while his strikeout rate was 6% lower. Pretty significant on both stats.

    Plus Goldschmidt's triple slash was very respectable without the benefit of a high BABIP.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Not entirely fair. Goldschmidt had a BABIP of .330. With that figure, Bryant's BA is .286 and OBP is .392. Still pretty impressive, especially considering Bryant is a year younger than Goldschmidt.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Go a step further, assume that singles and doubles are equally affected by BABIP and you get a triple slash of .286/.392/.620 compared to Goldschmidt's .306/.435/.626. It's really very close.

  • I know that I'll regret asking this, but who were the principals in the Ed Lynch trade of "2 top pitching prospects for middle relievers"?

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    Jon Garland to the White Sox for Matt Karchner.
    Todd Noel to the Marlins for Felix Heredia.*

    Not a month later, Randy Johnson went to Houston for a package that was, at the very least, comparable. (Probably worse)

    *Noel may not seem like that big a disaster because injuries cut short his career. However, before they did, the Marlins made him the key piece in a trade with the Yankees for a young third baseman named Mike Lowell.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Haha! Mike answered that one for me. It would have pained me to write it. Garland deal speaks for itself. Even if Noel didn't pan out, as Mike mentioned, the Marlins got a lot for him and the trade was so high risk/low reward -- they could have really gotten burned with just a wild LHRP to show for it. Horrible.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks, John & Mike.

    I now officially regret asking the question ("who were the principals in the two Ed Lynch trades of best pitching prospects for middle relievers"?)

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