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Monday Mailbag: Mental Makeup, Doubleheaders, Samardzija, Lopez, and punting the MLB draft

Monday Mailbag: Mental Makeup, Doubleheaders, Samardzija, Lopez, and punting the MLB draft
The Cubs Den staff

The blog is getting bigger and as much as I'd like to, I can't keep up with the mail as quickly as I used to (look at that staff we've had to hire!).  I also get some very good questions that I think we could share with the rest of the readers, so my solution is to have a mailbag, which we will run on Mondays.  I haven't yet decided how often we will do this, that will depend on volume and your response to this feature.

I apologize for the delay in starting this and some of these questions may be a bit older, but they are still relevant.  I have more in the hopper but I will save some for the next time...

Q (Dipesh):  I know the owners/players association don't want to lose money from have less games scheduled, but i was wondering why not schedule double headers a few times a year (a day/night game for two paid gates) and have the games be 7 innings instead of 9? I would think it will be good for a few reasons off the top of my head.

  • shorter game with more emphasis for the players to play for a win in shorter time frame
  • less stress on bullpens, especially these days w/all the over the top match righty/lefty
  • pitch counts for starters
  • more regular positional players able to play both games

A: I would love to see this and I think it is a great idea, actually.  They do this in the minor league games and it makes fora great day of baseball.  However, you answered your own question in the very first sentence.  Not to be cynical, but it is always about the money and with the Cubs ownership constantly looking for ways to increase revenue, this would decrease it.  It is especially important because the Cubs revenue is so driven by their attendance, more so than any other team in baseball.  Great idea from a fan's standpoint, but I don't see MLB doing this -- and I think the Cubs would be especially reluctant given their unique dependence on attendance.

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Q: (Thomas):

Why would the cubs trade Samardzija rather than extend him? Even with a significant overpay?
Are these assumptions wrong:
  1. Any prospect or package of prospects will be more risky than extending Samardzija.
  2. The Cubs don't have many (any?) first, second, or third starting pitching prospects at the upper levels.
  3. There is no reason to grab a free agent other than Samardzija, and no free agent pitcher his age is likely to be as good.
Given those, isn't an extension the only reasonable course to pursue?
A: I agree with your reasoning and I have heard some whispers of late that Jeff Samardzija may be more agreeable to an extension than is publicized.  I've always thought the Cubs would prefer to keep Samardzija and would only trade him if they got significant surplus in return that will lighten the risk and give them the MLB ready pitching prospects they lack.  So far teams seem reluctant to do that and with the Cubs closer than we might think to putting a competitive team on the field, I am sure they will exhaust every opportunity to sign him to an extension rather than risk trading him.
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Q (Bob): My question relates to a phrase you use often in prospect write ups. It's when you refer to a player as having 'great makeup'. I get what this means in a general sense. But I'm very curious as to how scouts quantify this. It seems like a very important aspect to this Cubs front office and you seem to value it highly as well. But, it seems very subjective, not something that can be easily quantified or graded. If you have a chance in some of your prospect writings to expound on this, it would be great.
A: That is a very good question.  Mental makeup is a blanket term for a lot of things scouts look for in a player: Work ethic, aptitude for the game, how coachable he is, how well his teammates and those around him like him, leadership skills, competitiveness, etc.  I think the Cubs have done a great job with this and you can see a little bit about what they mean when we look at their two top prospects: Kris Bryant and Javier Baez.
Here is what Cubs West Coast Scout Alex Lontayo looks for in this piece about Kris Bryant...
Kris is a special player and person.... Has a solid work ethic and a quiet confidence that makes you believe he will be an impact player at the next level. He comes from a great family, which is extremely supportive, and has guided him to become the person he is. Such a high character person that you immediately become a fan after talking to him. The more I watched him and spent time with him, the more convicted I became. All the background work I did turned up the same results, people that have had the chance to really know him, absolutely believed and liked him. Positive feedback across the board both on and off the field, including the classroom, dating back to high school. I’m excited and look forward to watching his continued development and career in our organization.
The Cubs also did their homework on Javier Baez and while many teams backed off a top talent because they thought he was cocky and a bad teammate, the Cubs found just the opposite.  His teammates liked him very much --and still do.  Here is what one of his former teammates with Daytona last season said about him,
"In my opinion he is a natural born leader. He shows that on and off the field. I can't speak for others but... I loved watching him go about his work. He is a guy that understands what needs to be done and does just that. I cannot think of one negative thing to say about him."
 In fact, one reason Javier Baez wouldn't commit to a college early before the 2011 draft is so that college scouts would keep coming to the game -- but Baez didn't want them to keep coming to see him, he wanted them there to give his teammates another look and a chance at a baseball scholarship.
And perhaps no piece speaks better to what kind of person Javier Baez is then this article by Carrie Muskat.  Confident, maybe even cocky on the field?  Yes?  Bad person or teammate?  Nope, you won't find one person close to him--  past or present -- who has bad things to say about him.
Mental makeup alone doesn't make the player, that is mostly decided by talent -- but think of mental makeup as that intangible tool that makes it more likely that a player will make the best of the physical talent he has.
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Q (Randy):   Please, Please, Please write a story that rips apart Telander's article. First he starts out by comparing Ricketts to Putin. I find many similarities to Donald Sterling, Prince Charles comparing Putin to Hitler or for that Sheriff calling Obama the N-word. Then he demeans Ricketts by comparing him to a "man with a hot dog caught in his throat" running around like an idiot trying to save himself. Telander really exposes his and the Sun Times agenda right here in this article. It is time to squash this type of personal attacks on Ricketts and the entire Cub World!

A: I did consider doing this but it struck me I would bring attention to the article, which is the one thing Telander wants.  He and the Sun-Times have stopped writing interesting, insightful articles a long time ago, so their strategy is to write inflammatory pieces that draw attention to themselves and increase readership.  The next time I link a Telander piece will be when he actually writes something worth reading.  That may be awhile.

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Q (Nick): Would it be reasonable or possible to "punt" the #4 pick in the draft?  For example, if they don't have the option of snagging Rodon or Aiken, then they grab BPA and play hardball to sign underslot.  If it doesn't work, then the Cubs would be looking, baring a big change to the rest of the season, at 2 of the two four picks in 2015 draft.  I am sure the preference would be to get the guy in the system as early as possible, but if the "right" guy isn't available then it may be an interesting strategy.
A: Obviously this question came before the draft but I didn't get a chance to do the mailbag segment until now.  It is still relevant since this kind of question gets answered all the time.  The answer is teams don't like to do this for a couple of reasons.  One is that they loose that pool money and a lot of flexibility as to what they can do later in the draft.  We know now that the Cubs had big plans among their first 7 picks so they will need that pool money.  If you punt that first pick, then you essentially also punt the opportunity to use that pool money to get high ceiling talent later.  The second reason is more simple, nobody likes to throw away a year of investment and also lose a year of development.  If this ever happens, I imagine it will be a team with a  lower pick in a weak draft -- not just in the first round, but also in terms of high ceiling prospects who might fall later.  This strength of the draft was the high school pitching and the Cubs got 3 of the best prospects in Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Dylan Cease.  Had they punted this pick, not only would they have lost the chance to draft a hitter they really liked in Kyle Schwarber, but they also would have missed out on significant overslots like Sands and Cease.  That's 3 great prospects in exchange for the unknown of next year's draft.
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Q (Thomas): Is Rafael Lopez for real?
A: That depends on what you mean by real.  Lopez has always been a good hitter with a solid approach and a line drive stroke.  He was the most advanced of the 3 offensive oriented catchers they drafted in 2011 (Justin Marra and Neftali Rosario were the others).  He is limited in size (5'9") and that may affect his power numbers at the MLB level and while he is a good athlete (a former middle infielder), he is still relatively new to catching and is still improving at the position.  I think he can be a backup, perhaps what we hoped Steve Clevenger could have been -- a complimentary lefty off the bench who can provide a little offense.
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Q: (Marty): Were your links taken off Bleacher Report? Not a big deal as I read regardless, but it was often my avenue to your articles.
A: I do not know, but thanks for bringing it to my attention.  I was informed recently that my articles are often linked on Bleacher Report but I think the is best way to get access to our articles is to subscribe.  You can do so with the subscription box at the right hand corner or through the link below.  Subscription doesn't cost anything and your email is not sold to anyone else.  It's just a way of getting articles sent to your email as soon as they are published.

Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

 

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  • Not from the Chicagoland area but I do know of the Sun-Times hatred of all things Ricketts, my question is why? I've never read a single issue of that paper and wonder when and/or why they (or at least the baseball writers) want to run Ricketts out of town. Also terrible that Telander & Wittenmeyer get regular appearances on Kaplan's CSN show since that show moved away from the Tribune. To me they just seem petulant & childish but I guess if they're desperate to sell papers they'll do whatever to do that.

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    Same reason shock jocks took over the radio long ago, it just took print media longer to figure it out. Controversy sells. The attention of casual fans (the majority of a fanbase) can be drawn to these types of articles. Articles about whether Rafael Lopez is for real (unfortunately) do not.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Yeah I assumed that was the point but thought with the amount of venom they spew out towards them it was something more.

  • In reply to MikeT2008:

    Well the Suntimes has traditionally been the White Sox paper and the Trib the Cubs paper so there may be some residual affect from that bygone era that still bleeds through at the Sun Times.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Haha! We just write what we like and I am so glad to have a reader base that like the same kinds of things about Cubs and baseball that I do!

  • How many of the first 10 picks do you think will sign?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    10

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think they will all sign.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it is almost certain that they will sign 9. There is a good chance they can sign Cease, but he will definitely be the most difficult. But they have a couple of insurance policies in later rounds to which they can allocate any surplus overslot money.

    I have heard some good things about that Boise kid that is almost certain to sign for slot or below. having a part time baseball player isn't the greatest thing in the world, but it gives them a long look at him, and if they think he is the real deal, they can always try to sign him to a baseball-only contract, as they did with Samardzija.

  • My question for you: Why haven't you figured out how to add a 25th hour to the day?

    You already post articles at 1 AM, something tells me you would make pretty good use of this extra time.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Ha! I am not much of a sleeper. Catches up to me sometimes, but I am usually good with 5 hours or so.

  • I agree the Cubs may be closer than people think. How many more wins do the Cubs have this year if you put Kris Bryant in the middle of the line up instead of the crap sandwich the Cubs have had in Ruggiano/Schierholtz/Olt/Kalish/Coughlan/etc. If Bryant can come up and produce and they add a legitimate veteran bat, the Cubs could be in wild card contention next year. If Baez and Bryant can come up and produce next year, the Cubs could be a dangerous little team.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I agree. With offense so depressed around the majors right now, a team with just 2-3 impact bats will field a good offense. Rizzo looks like he is becoming that type of player, and as soon as one or two of the Baez/Bryant/Soler group can develop into that type of player at the MLB level this team will be a playoff contender. And I think both Baez and Bryant can have an impact right away next year.

    The bullpen looks like it can be at least solid if not dominant for years to come with the number of hard throwing options they are developing. A good offense and good bullpen can win a lot of games even if the rotation struggles a little. If Bosio can continue to work his magic on a patchwork rotation, or the Cubs go out and spend some money in FA the next year or two then I think the rebuild can be officially put to an end.

  • Fabulous questions, John... and, as always, thoughtful, insightful answers. I've never been a big fan of letting Shark go. His arm is still so "young" for his age. He's a big, physical kid who's not likely to break down. Essentially hometown kid who is clearly interested in being here when they begin to win. He was here in 2008, so he knows how crazy things get.

    I agree about the Sun Times and especially Telander. He and Rosenbloom over at the other one are pathetic. Telander *used* to write really good articles for SI. Really the only reason to read either daily is for football coverage. No need for baseball with the fantastic work done at Cubs Den and Bleacher Nation!!!!

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I was never a fan of Telander. His true colors showed when he was a Host on the Score. He was so full of himself, I couldn't stand listening to him and he was an instant dial changer for me. The Score saw this too and his stint was a short lived one. And from Day One I said not to trade Shark. I was and have always been a proponent of inking him to a long term deal and keeping him around to build the staff around. I wouldn't mind signing Hammel too.

  • After watching the meltdown that Machado had this weekend, I'm glad the Cubs front office has drafted guys like Bryant, Almora, Schwaber. And traded for guys like C.J. Edwards and Rizzo. For at least some of these players you hear "makeup is off the charts". I know Machado is still learning and growing but still its embarrassing for his organization. At least Soler's meltdown was off camera in single A, right?

    I remember reading that K.Law said that Baez has some makeup issues, does that simply stem from Javy's cockiness on the field or is he just trying to rile Cubs fans?

  • In reply to couch:

    The Machado incident was nuts.

    I imagine Law got that from people outside the organization and one pattern has been clear: opponents and outsiders don't like Javy but those close enough to actually know him like him a lot.

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    In reply to couch:

    The thing is, Machado supposedly has off the charts makeup. It seems possible that his weekend blowup was frustration about the deep slump he's in. Part of the reason this front office wants guys to have slumps and get out of them in the minors. Castro can tell you how much fun being in a prolonged slump in Chicago with the spotlight on you can be.

    I'm not trying to justify it. I think he should be suspended for the remainder of the season. But it does explain it.

  • I am glad that someone finally mentioned Rosenbloom. Good work Moneyboy!
    Rosenbloom is a disgrace. The words snarky and smarmy come to mind. His writing is poor and lazy. He is extremely condescending. He seems not to realize that most ball players are trying their best in a very difficult sport. His "analysis" is on a 5th grade level. As a journalism school graduate, it pains me to think that the Tribune (World's Greatest Newspaper indeed) sees fit to publish his trash

  • In reply to tboy:

    I agree about Rosenbloom. I don't even read his articles anymore. I never understood how someone could be so harsh and snarky. How does a man get up in the morning and report to work knowing his job is all about tearing down and demeaning other people. Pretty pathetic!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to tboy:

    Just as John spoke about not giving credence to Telander and the Sun Times brand as that's what they want I would suggest just ignore Rosenboob entirely as if he didn't exist.

  • I'd like to put a response out there for Thomas from someone that does want to trade Samardzija...

    Your 3rd assumption is wrong, in my opinion. There are plenty of reasons to grab a free agent starter and there are several pitchers close in age that are just as good.

    The camp that wants to trade Samardzija sees it this way:

    Prospects you can get for Samardzija + player you can get for the $$$ you'd pay Samardzija >>>>> Samardzija at the deal he'd sign.

    Obviously, we're all guessing in terms of the prospects and the contract that he wants. Assuming he wants something in the Homer Bailey range and that you can get a package better than Garza, you can get more value from trading him and then re-using that money than just signing Shark to a contract with that money. Even if you have to overpay the guy in free agency, the value that the prospects bring will exceed the increased cost.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I saw more than one person say this same exact thing about trading Garza and signing Edwin Jackson (and I'm not making fun and won't name names). Obviously it isn't always that cut and dry -- even in the event you can actually sign your target, which the Cubs found with Sanchez, Ryu, and Tanaka, is much easier in theory than reality.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't recall those clamoring for that swap, but OK. If they'd signed Anibal Sanchez like they were trying to do (and which they might have been able to if they had a bigger budget), then it would have been a pretty darn good strategy.

    Signing guys on the free agent market or through international bidding has an element of risk, no doubt, but so does giving extensions. Particularly if an extension of #2 starter worth is given to a guy that's never put up a full season of #2 starter performance.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    You don't recall people writing that on my site? Oh. Well, I do. I also remember seeing it suggested elsewhere on at least one other site, but again, I don't feel the need to mention names. Not that it's a big deal because it was a sound idea in theory, I'm just pointing out you can't count on it turning out as well in reality.

    As for Sanchez,

    If they did sign him, that is another good reason why it is so much easier said than done. Cubs gave that everything they had and came up short.

    What guarantees are there that the Cubs can sign Scherzer or Lester? And who else is a worthy replacement? Masterson? He scares me much more than Samardzija as far as risk goes.

    I think it looks nice in theory but pulling it off and then having it work out the way they planned is a different story.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think there was some clamor for Ulbaldo. After the A's gave home such sound thrashing last night, I'm glad the Cubs stayed away from him. He may be even more volatile than E-Jax.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry, I don't remember people saying that, but I believe you. I just don't remember much buzz at all about Jackson until right before that deal popped up.

    And if the circumstances had been different when the Cubs were going after Sanchez and they had the increased budget we expect them to have in 2015, it may have ended differently. The Cubs gave everything they had then, but they should have more to give this offseason.

    Can my scenario go wrong? Sure. So can extensions. So can anything a front office does, frankly.

    But most of the time, I think you're going to be significantly better off with my scenario than you are by signing Samardzija to the near market level extension I think he's looking for. And all indications are the front office feels similarly. Even if you have to overpay to attract a Lester or Scherzer type.

    In terms of guys around Shark's level, James Shields and Ervin Santana certainly come to mind. While Shields is certainly getting up there in age, he also has a much better track record and would likely require a much shorter contract. Santana is following up his breakout year with an excellent year this year. Santana, Lester and Scherzer is a solid group to choose from (I wouldn't expect them to go after Shields due to age) and I'd expect the FO to get one of them this offseason after getting a haul for Shark this summer.

    And let's not forget, as much as we want it to be a guy that replaces Shark in 2015, it doesn't have to be. I don't think this FO is going to do a deal they're not comfortable with because they feel some immediate need to replace Shark.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Are you convinced that Samardzija will be as good as he has been April to June 9th for the rest of this year and six more years? I don't have the exact numbers and timing, but about this time last year, Jeff was having a nice season (not as good as this year, but good numbers). From mid-June on, he got hit hard.

    Thus a question I have for all of those who want to sign Jeff S. and not trade him when he is at his all time highest value is how do you know that the last two months is indicative of the next six years as opposed to the inconsistency he has shown the rest of his career?

    I don't believe Jeff S. is going to be consistently good, so that is why I want to trade him; his price will, IMO, be significantly higher than his value. But I would like to better understand the viewpoint of those who believe Shark has become a TOR pitcher.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to springs:

    I think with the results we'll get from Shark are likely to be better than anything we get in return given how risky young arms are. When you have a guy of Shark's age and ability, keeping him is the best bet.

    Having said that, I think he will be traded because he doesn't want to sign an extension. Though, as John says, he seems to be softening his stand on that.

    The ideal solution has us extending Shark and then signing someone like Lester to give us a big 1-2 at the top of the rotation to complement the young power hitting lineup we're putting together.

  • In reply to springs:

    I think he is going to be a pretty good pitcher for the next few years, likely better than any pitcher they get in return unless someone overpays. Results will vary but his peripherals have been pretty steady since he joined the rotation. I don't even think he is much different than last year except he has toned down his aggressive approach a little bit.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The thing I get caught up on is that it's not about him being better than any pitcher they get in return. It's about him being better than the package they get AND the player(s) they can get with the money they would have paid him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. Plus, Shark is only in his third year as a starter. I think he'll keep getting better. His mental make up is off the charts as well. He doesn't have fear. He wants to be the best. This is the kind of guy I'd extend in a heart beat.

    No reason to get rid of him and hope the return in the trade ends up being as good. It would hurt a lot to see him continue his upward climb as a good to great pitcher on another team while the return we get in a trade suffers the growing pains we've watched Shark go through already.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    My swap had nothing to do with pitchers but made a similar point. I was all for trading Dejesus and signing Angel Pagan to replace him.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    You make a valid point that I seldom see mentioned.

    Let's assume that you can sign Samardzija, or a free agent just as good, for 25 million per year. (insert your own figure if you prefer).

    They can sign Samardzija now and have a good TOR pitcher for the next 6 years, OR they can trade Samardzija now (insert whatever date you wish) and sign a free agent next year, and end up with a TOR starter AND the prospects you get in the trade.

    Can they sign a TOR on the free agent market. I don't know. But I think that Hoyer is in a better position to make that call than I am.

  • fb_avatar

    I have been thinking for the past 2 weeks or so that Shark may indeed sign an extension with the Cubs. This past 5 game winning streak helped this idea. Shark has to be feeling the winds of change are on the way for Wrigley and I'm sure he wants to be a part of that. If this happens and we can sign Shields or Scherzer this rotation would be as good as anyone in baseball.

    I also have been thinking that it's possible that we don't see Bryant promoted to Iowa at all this season but rather straight to Chicago next Spring. Olt's struggles still leaves the 3B job open for a long term guy to fill it. I first thought Bryant might get moved to RF if Olt took the promotion and ran with it but that's not what we see. I know think Olt is that RH bat we use off the bench and he could fill in at any of the corners. Bryant becomes our guy at 3B for the next decade.

    What are your guy's thoughts?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Olt shows flashes of being the guy some of us (myself included) thought he might be - especially in certain lighting/visibility conditions at the plate. Olt's defense does seem solid (if not exceptional so far) at 3B and at least adequate at 1B (with small sample size), his power is pretty much as advertized, but the strikeouts and all-or-nothing contact are worse than we might have hoped for.

    I was guessing no better than a 0.240-0.batting average, but not quite the dismal hit rate he has. At the plate he kind of reminds me in a lot of ways of what Chris Davis was like a few years ago with Texas, before he got it figured out and terrorized pitching for the Orioles the last couple of seasons.

    I guess what I am trying to say is I don't think you want to give up on him too early. But if Bryant is ready and can handle 3B before Olt gets it figured out (if he gets it figured out) - you pretty much have to hand the job to Bryant and then figure out what to do with Olt.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to drkazmd65:

    You may be right but I was thinking Olt could be that guy that gets his AB's filling in at 3B, 1B, RF or LF. But the majority of AB's for the 3B position would go to Bryant.

    (I can hear Kevin Gallo saying, "I told you guys so! Bryant WILL play 3B.")

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I fear that the winning streak will be a distant memory by the end of this road trip. The little blip was nice but as a whole the major league team has been a disappointment this season. For all of the patience that has been preached Shark has shown his frustration with the way the front office sells off at the past two deadlines. It's a necessary evil but I don't think he's on-board with the way things are handled. Last thing I want to see is the Cubs continue to try to woo him and he's not responsive thus dropping his value entering this off-season.

  • Hey John, here's a very good piece with updates about the draft picks, I have the feeling you have been on top of this already, but here it is in case you have missed some of them.

    http://www.bleachernation.com/2014/06/09/draft-signing-tea-leaves-schwarber-cease-sands-steele-norwood-griggs-mitchell-depperman/

  • In reply to Caps:

    I like BN and love the work Brett does, but honestly (and I mean no disrespect) I don't read their draft stuff. We just prefer to use our own contacts and personal knowledge we have accumulated since we started covering the draft, practically by ourselves, over the past 4 years. We only like to use public stuff (i.e Keith Law, BA, MLB.com, etc) when our private stuff is off the record, which it often is. It's something we cover year round. We kind of do our own thing in that regard and I get very wrapped up in that.

    Here is the best site (run by Yags of PSD) if you want to track public signings rumors and news stories around the web. http://ccdt.webs.com/

    Like I said yesterday, pretty much all the public draft signing rumors come from there first :)

    Bottom line is expect the top 15 to sign, and probably the top 20, then expect it to be hit or miss after that because the Cubs will have a finite amount of money to spend and they are going to offer it around and see who takes it, so I wouldn't expect more than one or two to sign. Martarano is a good bet, because he is in Boise, which we talked about earlier this weekend.

    The problem with signing players that late is you run into the Jeremy Martinez conundrum, which we laid out last year. Basically it's this: Those players are going to want a lot of money to be talked out of college and it becomes a question if their current prospect value warrants the price it would take to buy them out. With Martinez, the answer was a decided no. The same may be true of Riley Adams, C (37), Michael Cantu, C (30), DJ Peters (36). I imagine Gilliam is the guy they'll pursue the hardest (though he won't be easy to sign) along with Martarano. Depperman is also more likely than some other late round picks. Many of the other guys are just org type guys.

    We will let Yags at PSD cover the signing rumors because he does that better than anyone out there, so we will defer to them for that news.

    We will do what we do best, which is to get you original info from our own sources and information. We should have some great draft-related stuff coming you the next few days, but in all honesty, I am not going to chase draft signings. They'll sign and we'll report it when they do.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL my apologies, I guess I used the wrong thread to post this link, truth is, I don't care about whatever is being said about BN in relation to Cubs Den... I value a good read wherever I can find it... And I've found myself well identified with Cubs Den and the way you think, I also post here (and not on BN) not just because I remember you from the cubs.com board, but also because you and felz are approachable individuals willing to have a good respectful conversation... I don't think I have ever interacted with Brett and I'm sure he's a nice person.

    I guess I just wanna clarify that it was pure coincidence that this link was from BN, I was surely not thinking about the BN question in this article lol.

    I am loving the confidence I've seen regarding the top 20, hopefully at least 18 of them sign and I'd be thrilled if they signed some of the surprise picks between 20-38... Baseball America said something like if the Cubs signed their top 7, they could get an A grade.

    Anyway, thanks for the link and I will follow Yags of PSD.

  • In reply to Caps:

    He is a very nice person. I didn't mean it at all in a bad way that I don't read the draft stuff. We are just too busy doing own thing with the draft and have been doing it since the blog started -- and really I have been following the draft before Cubs Den for about 35 years with pretty much the same passion, back when I was a kid sitting there with all my BA magazines, notebooks, and yes...prospect lists! :)

    I haven't heard anyone call their draft anything lower than a B so far and quite a few believe it has "A" potential.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Perfectly understandable... Good man, John, I'm much younger than you, but I have been following the draft with passion for the past 15 years or so, even as a kid playing in what is now known the DSL.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Really? You played in the DSL? Very cool. What position?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was 2B back in the late 90's, but I hurt my shoulder and it required surgery so I opted to go to college... In the DR is different than in the US, you don't have HS or College baseball teams, so you either go to college to try your luck with baseball.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Ahh. Very cool, Looks like you made a good choice, though I imagine it had to be a hard one.

  • Speaking of top prospects. I've been thinking about Alacantara lately. I really like this kid and think he's the first top position player prospect we might see in Chicago. However, I'm not sure that he will make a huge impact. Is he that much better than Valbuena? What you gain in speed, you lose in OBP, right? I'd love to hear that I'm wrong.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    There is room for both.

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    In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Alcantara probably has more power but, you're right, he comes at the cost of Valbuena's excellent at bats. In the short term, no reason you can't play Alcantara at 2B and Valbuena at 3B/LF.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Alcantara might be E. Bonifacio 's replacement after the trade deadline ?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think it much more likely that Alcantara is the one in the outfield in that scenario. Much more athletic, much better arm.

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    I'm not too wild about the trend I've noticed this year (maybe it's old and I just never noticed it before) of draft contracts including "college tuition" which does not count against the draft pool money. As if Nick Gordon, who signed for 3.8 mil, and whose father had a baseball career, needs extra dough to pay for college in case this baseball gig doesn't work out. It's a blatant ploy to work around the slot money rules - and think what you may about them, rules that are in place should be enforced in letter and spirit. What's next - throw in a million dollar house, and buy one for my mom?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Cherry picking an example there big tim, probably 1% of drafted high school players are in his position. For 99% of them, and especially the ones after the first couple rounds who get a LOT less bonus money, they are about to face the almost inevitably cruel prospect attrition rate and then have no education to fall back on if they don't make it in baseball. This is not an avenue around slot money rules, it's the baseball industry using its success to be able to provide its players a sound fall back opportunity while letting them chase their dreams.

    Sure, the Nick Gordon example proves that the rule may have holes that need to be looked at (and are you even sure they get the money outright or if it's deferred until the player actually enrolls? Probably not.), but it's an extreme cherry-picked one. I'm sure it has provided its fair share of career saving education for players whose baseball dream ended in injury or other problems.

    I think you're getting caught up in competition here and forgetting that it's still human beings, kids, careers that we are talking about here. Besides, it's not the baseball industry finding ways to put money back in the owners pockets or taking money from anyone or trying to up their bottom line or something along those lines. It's still going to the players in this case no matter which way you look at it, and going straight to education of all things. I don't think you're going to have a lot of supporters for taking away the one way in baseball for the industry to provide a fallback education for its players.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    The Cubs FO used slot money manipulation masterfully, to our benefit, in this draft - but that's often a matter of saving a 100 grand here, 150 there so you can sign someone who might be otherwise unsignable. That kind of money shifting is going to be the norm going forward, and so a team throwing an extra 150 grand in tuition money at a kid is definitely going to skew the system. It's chump change to a team but in this case that kind of minor rule-bending makes a leveraged difference in draft results, and that's why it's important. And as I say, where's the end point? Gordon gets an extra 150,000 - who's to stop the next kid from demanding something more, outside the slot pool? It's something that has to be looked at before it gets out of control.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I'm sure there are strict limits on it which you haven't bothered to look into before you claim that it's a problem. And do you even know that they get the money until they enroll? I think you're assuming a scam before you know any of the ground rules.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Not calling it a scam, it's just some agents and GM's staying one step ahead of the rules - I'm just saying it may be the camel's nose under the slippery sloped wedge.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Lost a long reply in the spam filter.. Hopefully it comes up soon.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I believe you would be interested in reading this, it's a great article by College Sports Business News and covers a lot of aspects of kids going into the draft, but one in particular that I would like to share with you:

    http://collegesportsbusinessnews.com/issue/january-2012/article/weighing-the-real-moneyball-question-when-is-college-the-better-choice-for-mlb-drafted-high-school-baseball-players

    "Each of these pieces of information would seem to push a player towards attending college unless they are drafted quite high. But there is one more thing to consider. It is the Major League Baseball College Scholarship Plan. Players that wish to pursue a college degree but want to play baseball as soon as they can have the ability to negotiate into their contract participation in what MLB calls “The Plan.” If enrolled in The Plan, players who choose to pursue professional baseball first can have the team that drafts them pay for college after their career is over. If enrolled in The Plan, it doesn’t matter if a player is released, retires or goes to the military; their original drafting team is required to pay for their college as long as the player meets the requirements.
    The player must start their college studies within two years of their last day of active service, cannot go two consecutive years without attending college once they have started, cannot be placed on MLB’s Ineligible list, and cannot use The Plan’s funds toward a degree beyond a bachelor’s degree. A player who takes advantage of The Plan can have the club that drafted him pay for his tuition, fees, room and board, and textbooks. It is the equivalent of a full scholarship.
    This is significant because there are very few players at the college level that get full scholarships for baseball. A college baseball team has a roster of 35 players, but they only have 11.7 scholarships to give out. It is also a rule that any player receiving a scholarship must receive, at minimum, a 25% scholarship. This forces college baseball coaches to fraction their scholarships to their players, in some cases as many as 30. It is ironic that the best chance that a baseball player has of getting a full scholarship is by foregoing college early on and negotiating enrollment in The Plan with MLB."

    A few other notes from the article and from other articles that I gathered:

    1. 69.2% of baseball players go on to use the plan to attend a university
    2. If a player is very academically inclined, the amount is prorated to the tuition of the college in which they got accepted into. So if you are smart enough to get into Harvard, they will up the ante and provide it for you (something they would not be able to afford otherwise).
    3. It should also be noted that any money left over from The Plan after college expenses are paid GOES BACK TO THE CLUB.
    4. If the player does not actually go to college within two years of retiring from professional baseball or if they cut their college studies short, THEY ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THE MONEY NEGOTIATED.

    There are a couple sites out there with the legal document explaining all of the details if you want to go check it out yourself. It's a really well thought out process as I mentioned it probably would be. (Did you think the MLB would allow anything like that without strict guidelines set up by lawyers?) It's actually a fantastic opportunity for these kids and is a fantastic move by major league baseball to better educate their former employees. I actually have some friends who are on this exact plan, and if it weren't for it they would be flipping burgers with no education. And they're smart guys, they just didn't have any money coming out of baseball. (If you want some more research to do, check out the wages of minor league baseball players who didn't get a signing bonus, it's appalling. Many minor league players earn less than the federal poverty level, which is $11,490 for a single person, even though many have families. Most need to get second or third jobs in the offseason, so it's not all glamour. Remember how very few of them make it to the majors, about 10%)

    And referring to your example, Nick Gordon doesn't get to pocket the money. If he has a successful career and never goes to school, he won't see a penny of it. Next time you try to call a scam on something, do some research first.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Well, I learned somrthing today. Thank you.

  • Is it any wonder some people refer to that jerk as rosengloom or rosendoom?

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    In reply to AZBOB:

    permanently off his Prozac

  • With a .150 BA for Olt, I think it may be time for some fine tuning in the minors, where he can get regular at bats.

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    I'm a big fan of the subscription. I used to see your articles through your Facebook feed, though that is a bit unreliable... Have you ever considered doing a live chat like many blogs such as MLBTR and Fangraphs do?

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    comment lost in spam filter....

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    Hey John, have you checked out Boise's roster? Lots of kids from previous drafts whose profiles and scouting reports I have only a very passing memory of. In case you run out of topics for articles this week, would you consider breaking it down for us? Thanks!

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Usually there's a big preview on opening day, but if you want to get a jump start on looking at some of the guys, AZ Phil tracks all of the guys at extended spring training which usually make up a large portion of the Boise and AZL rosters along with the newly acquired draft picks. He doesn't do a lot of actual "scouting" per say but he goes to all of the games, tracks stats, and has some bits about players that are interesting.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    I have seen it, was going to link it and talk about it for the recaps. That roster will see some changes over next couple pf months

  • Trevor Cahill DFA'd. Should we take notice? I wouldn't mind him in place of Russell or Coghlan. Great stuff, hasn't harnessed it the last two years. Only 26 years old with a decent track record. A few seasons of 200+ innings.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Might be worth a flier. Stuff has been down though. Also bad timing because our rotation is full and pitching well. No open spots.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    If you claim him, you owe him the roughly $17 mil left on his contract through 2015. I think everyone will take a pass on that one, and he'll end up at AAA

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Wow. Didn't realize that. No thank you.

  • Bryant happened. Again.

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    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Baez happened too. It would be nice if he could do so over a decent stretch.

  • I like this format. It makes the blog even more accessible. Thanks John.

  • In reply to CGunz:

    Thanks for the feedback. Liked your Ignore the Blonde theory the other day, by the way,

  • John, lost a long post in the spam filter... Anyway to push it through?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Done. Sorry it took me awhile, Watching Iowa and doing the recaps.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No problem. Some good stuff gonna be in the recaps. Z and Baez with big days.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I really like the way Z has pitched, all things considered. Keeping walks down, Ks up. BABIP is brutal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hoping today is a sign of that turning around. 9K/0BB while only giving up 4 hits in 7 is a really nice outing... I don't mind that one was a HR and the other hits were clustered. It's hard to judge performance from box scores, but I think today it's easy to see he had his stuff.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I hope so too. Have most of recap written, but I may wait until tomorrow on such a late day.

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    Are the Cubs expected to trade most of their international slots due to the restrictions this year?

    INT slots would be an interesting supplementary aspect of a Shark trade.
    The Rockies have the eighth highest Int. allowance but could bump that up quite a bit. ( I just mention the Rockies because they have the highest allowance of teams we'd likely be bargaining with)

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Our first international slot alone is worth about 2.3 million.

    IINM, teams can only trade for 50% more than their original allowance, but I wonder if a loophole exists if the team we're trading to already intends to dramatically overspend anyways.

    The Yankees have been pretty public in saying they intend to do what we did last year.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm fairly certain there's no loophole meaning the only teams the Cubs could trade their 1st slot to would be Houston and Miami. My recollection is that neither of those teams historically spend a lot on IFAs. Can anyone check me on that?

    But I think the Cubs will be working to trade away their other remaining slots.

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    Been following the cubs den since chancing upon a tweet by John linking here 3 months ago and I have to say this is by far the best source of information for anything about our beloved cubbies. Definetely satisfies my hourly craving for cubs news. From the well thought articles from great contributors to insightful and thoughtful commenters just wanted to thank you guys for making this season a little easier to digest. Can't believe I used to get all my "insider" info from the cubs.com comment sections. Haha

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