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But It's Only a Second Round Pick

But It's Only a Second Round Pick

It seems pretty clear at this point that the Cubs will finish in the bottom 10 in wins for the fifth year running.  In addition to the opportunity to add to their collection of impact players headlined by recent 1st rounder Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber, one of the big benefits to finishing this poorly is the ability to sign a free agent who has been given a qualifying offer and only surrender a second round pick instead of a first round pick.  There is significant support among Cubs fans to take advantage of this and sign someone like James Shields or Max Scherzer.  I think this is exactly the wrong thing to do, for several reasons.

First, I hate the phrase "it's only a second round pick."  It's true, second round picks tend to not make the majors but it's also true that a lot of really talented players have come out of the second round.  The 2009 second round, for example, yielded Billy Hamilton, Nolan Arenado, Jason Kipnis, and Patrick Corbin.  The upside from second round picks is extremely high.  That upside has value even if they never reach their full potential: the Tigers just traded second rounder Drew Smyly to the Rays as a major piece to acquire David Price.  This is critical to us as, eventually, we will want to make a deadline deal to boost our chances in the playoffs.  Having prospects with elite upside is a valuable commodity in today's game.

Looking just at Cubs second round picks since Theo has taken over, Duane Underwood, taken in the second round in 2012, was taken as a raw but athletic high schooler.  Despite consistently being among the youngest guys in every league he's played in, he's starting to harness his loose delivery and plus fastball into consistent performances.  His secondaries will determine whether he will be a top of the rotation starter or a reliever long term but he has a lot of value right now.  2013 and 2014 saw them use the pick to increase the depth of drafts.  2014, in particular, allowed them to take Dylan Cease, Carson Sands, and Justin Steele in the middle rounds.  At least one of those pitchers would have been unsignable without the money from the second round pick.

Admittedly, this looks minor when compared to our system as a whole.  Of the guys I've mentioned, only Underwood pokes his head out at the bottom of our Top 20.  However, what's important to keep in mind is that the Cubs system is stacked right now precisely because we've been focusing on stacking it.  Of the guys in mlb.com's mid-season Top 20, 8of them are the direct result of the decision to acquire prospects and draft picks at the cost of current wins:Addison Russell, C.J. Edwards, Billy McKinney, Arodyz Vizcaino, Pierce Johnson (acquired for not re-signing Aramis Ramirez), Victor Caratini, Kyle Hendricks, and Corey Black.  This ignores recent graduates from the system Mike Olt and Neil Ramirez and Christian Villanueva, who fell off after an up and down first half.  It also ignores the acquisition of high floor talent like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber through the strategy.  While it is a good thing but this collection of talent is about to graduate from the Top 20, the talent will need to be replaced somehow.  It will no longer be from deadline deals -- in fact, we're likely to reduce our minor league talent through deadline deals in the future.  The next stream of talent will have to come from the draft and IFA signings.  In this new world, second round picks are a critical means of bringing in talent and, indeed, picks acquired using either the pick or the money from the last 3 second rounds seem likely to be well represented on Cubs Top 20 lists in 2016 and beyond (Underwood, Hannemann, Zastryzny, Stinnett, Sands, Cease, and Steele).

In addition to this, there are reasons related to organizational behavior as to why I'm against giving up a draft pick to sign a free agent.  If the Cubs had identified one of the players receiving a qualifying offer as a player the absolutely want, then I have no problem giving up a second round pick or even a first round pick for him.  Just reading tea leaves, David Price seems to fit this bill.  In this case, it really is a one time decision to give up a pick to add the crown jewel to your team.  However, if an organization goes into every offseason and says, "We need to improve at position X.  Player Y is the best X available and all he costs us is a draft pick."  The issue becomes you can find an upgrade available every year.

Consider this scenario:  Cubs sign Scherzer this year.  Well, next year they sign Price because they wanted him all along.  The next year Giancarlo Stanton is on the market and how can you NOT try to grab a sure fire Hall of Famer in his mid-20s?  All of a sudden, you look up and you've given up picks for 3 years running.  The talent coming into your system is going to suffer.  The Cubs skewed heavily towards minor league talent acquisition for the last 3 years but, now that we've acquired talent, I'd argue it's a mistake to skew towards major league talent acquisition.  Being balanced is going to leave us in position to make big deadline moves to make deep playoff runs year in and year out.

It's been a long road and we can finally see the end.  That doesn't mean now is the time to abandon long term thinking just to acquire short term fixes.  We've already seen the benefits of long term planning.  Those benefits will continue to accrue, even if they take different forms.

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  • Good read Mike.

    I agree, I oppose giving up our 2nd rounder for the likes of Scherzer/Shields, etc.

    1). We are not close enough that a TOR SP in 2015 is going to make much of a difference.

    2). I have really high expectations of 2014's 2nd rounder Jake Stinnet. Kevin is high on him and another scout I know & respect trememndously compared him to Shark. He will likely fly up prospect rankings in 2015 and he's really not more than a cpl years away. Robbie Z in Daytona (2013's 2nd rounder) shows a lot of promise too.

    3). Scherzer is going to want BIG $200MM+ kind of dollars. So not only do we loose a draft pick, we lose some payroll flexibility. That's not that big of a deal for now, but it will be in the last few years of his contract and will essentially be our "Cliff Lee".

    4). Stay the course. There's way more value in a high 2nd rounder now (for our organization) than there is to sign a 30+yo TOR SP who will likely be fading into obscurity and overpaid/negative value as we enter our window of WS contention.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I probably don't give up a 2nd rounder for Shields, but I do in a heartbeat for Scherzer. The big concerns there are future injury, but that's the same with any hard-throwing 2nd round pitching prospect. Think of it this way, the Tigers gave up a ML second rounder, a ML starting OF, and a Single SS for Price. If that doesn't tell you that a recent Cy Young winner is worth more than the future potential of a second round pick, then one is over-valuing draft picks.

  • eh, sort of extreme, and I don't see the Cubs pursuing Stanton anyway.

    One pick is no big deal. This Front Office has discipline. You get Lester. If you need another one, then give a pick.

  • In reply to Cubmadness:

    I agree. What are the chances of us getting 2 big players like Price and Stanton two years in a row? I understand what you're getting at but the front office can't be too timid to start buying talent to help us start winning in the next couple of years.

  • At some point the attention will turn to going for it each year versus just trying to be a top farm system. With the volume of young talent in the system right now, we should be able to keep a lineup full of cost controlled young, talented players. We have lots of inventory of pitchers to fill part of the rotation for years to come. Yes at some point the need will arise to replenish the system, but at some point the need to make moves to put the major league team in position to win will become not just necessary but mandatory. Doing this off-season when it will only cost a 2nd rounder (2nd rounder that's all!!!!) is an absolute no brainer. To say that that means we do it again moving forward with 1st rounders is not using common sense. They are not connected in any way.

  • In reply to Theo Epstein:

    So you are saying that your average mainstream Cubs fan will be satisfied doing this once and won't clamor for it again if they come up short next year? And again in 2016?

    You don't think fans will come out and say, "Look at the Cardinals! You can find good talent anywhere in the draft!" and "Our farm system is fine, we need to win now!"

    You may be ok with doing it once. I may be fine with it too, as would Mike, who wrote this piece...but do you really think the Cubs fan base thinks that way in general?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If they feel so inclined to further infuse our deep minor league system with talent in 2015, they can wait and see how Bryant, Baez, and Alcantara play in the MLB for half a season next year then trade Castro. He will return some serious impact talent due to his long-term control. That being said, I don't necessarily sign on to that idea because I believe trading Castro before 2015 will net roughly the same prospects as when we trade in a year or two later. When you have an embarrassment of riches like this though, you can afford to do that. Getting back to your point, if we lose that second round (and possibly third round) draft pick in 2015, that would be more than enough to make up for it. Exciting times. Personally, I see a big old huge red bullseye on Lester for next year. No draft pick compensation, former Theo guy, #1/#2 guy.

  • In reply to Theo Epstein:

    "At some point the attention will turn to going for it each year versus just trying to be a top farm system."

    Your argument assumes little/no relationship between a "top farm system" facilitating a team "going for it each year."

    Given the construct of the CBA, I'd argue it may be the single largest determinant of MLB success.

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    Good article. Disagree. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush. I didn't see a single name in this article that I wouldn't trade for any of the big name pitchers you said. Isn't it obvious that at some point you have to start working on the major league team? Who cares if you have to give up second round pick? If you want Dylan Cease so bad draft him in the third round and pay him. If this front office passes on a guy like Price or Stanton so they can have extra pool money to sign guys who have very little chance of ever making it to the majors then they are idiots. Why take this big needle here when I can continue to root around in this haystack and have an incredibly small chance to come up with a bigger one? I am not advocating destroying the farm system for the possibility for of a couple of good years but you can't have everything you want in life. Right now the Cubs are sacrificing the Major League club for the future of the farm system and hopefully in the very near future they sacrifice having a top 3 farm system for a top 3 major league club. The whole point of having a Major League baseball team is for the Major League team to win. Let me say it again, I am not advocating for the depletion of the minor league teams but the only point of even having a minor league system is for the Major League team.

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    Wow. That is all.

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    You are looking at it wrong. It's not for the sake of the future farm system the Cubs do this its for the MLB team's future. They cannot be separated like that.

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    In reply to Bilbo161:

    I understand what you're saying but the whole article was based around not giving up to many picks because it can effect the future. I understand the logic but successful major league franchises sacrifice all the time. In theory it should be pretty easy to build a farm system when you have top ten picks consistently. Where the real challenge comes is making the most of the picks you do have. I don't know for sure but I can't fathom that the Cardinals have had anywhere close to a top ten pick in the last Decade or more, yet they have a fantastic farm system.

    Instead of looking at it as baseball look at it as a business. You have to balance your production capabilities (Minor League system) and you actual production (Major League Team.) The Cubs have given all of their energies into their production capabilities over the last couple of years but you can't continue to do that.

    Once you have the ability to produce it is a lot easier to maintain that if you do it right than it was to build it. I am not suggesting that it will be easy but ignoring the fact that the collective bargaining system and the draft system are different from ten years ago is just burying your head in the sand (and I'm obviously not talking about you personally just speaking in generalities.)

    The Cubs management has done an excellent job of working the system and I have complete faith they will continue to do so but its not about stock and stash anymore with the way talent acquisition has changed. You have to choose (perfect example is the way they used their international pool last year compared to this year) and if you are talking about top of the rotation talent over a second round pick like this article states then in my mind its a no-brainer. You honestly wouldn't trade 3 second round picks in a row to have Price, Stanton and Shields in your rotation? In my opinion its all about perspective. I understand the consequences of losing those picks I just disagree that the risk is higher than the reward. And in today's game you can't have both.

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    In reply to Bilbo161:

    Agreed....and what's the difference in giving up a pick for a quality free agent or a player in a deadline trade? It comes down to making quality decisions....but all of this is done with the big league club in mind. Plus, a free agent for a full year is a better deal than a two month rental, provided it's a wise choice.

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    Kinda sounds how the Yankees got off course. They really needed to make a deal at the deadline, yet they have a farm system that has a serious lack of talent.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It is very much how the Yankees got off course, but it won't stop people from wanting to do it anyway.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Exactly and it really showed up this year. The Yankees just couldn't compete with the offers teams like the Athletics, Cardinals, and Tigers were making so they had to sit by and watch the big names go elsewhere at the deadline. That's the type of thing that could haunt us if we're competitive and one of our big free agent signings is either hurt or ineffective.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, you're a stats guy. Put this in perspective for them... Can you pull together all the 30+ year old FA's signed for 5+ years and 9 figures salary that actually provided positive value to the team signing them?

    I imagine several will initially, but that's somewhat near sighted as we really need them to be in their prime years from 2017 on when we are legit contenders, not 2015.

    If Scherzer gets a 7yr and $200MM+ contract as rumored (plus the draft pick comp) I can not imagine he could ever fulfill that entire contract and provide positive value for the duration. Do people really expect him to be a 5 WAR pitcher every year until he's 37?

    btw, he's only been a 5 WAR player once (2013) in his career....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If I can get the data set, it's a great idea. Might just involve some actual work on my part. I hate it when that happens...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    oh snap! Wouldn't want you to have to do any actual work for our entertainment. lol

    Seriously though. This rebuild is like a marathon. We have to stay the course. The time to sprint all out to the finish line is in the last 1/2 mile. Not the last 8 miles. they seem to forget celebrating when we landed Sori (6.6 WAR in 07) and then cursing him during his down years when he was 1.0 WAR or even negative...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    "The time to sprint all out to the finish line is in the last 1/2 mile."

    Well stated. The Cubs aren't there yet and when they are I want them to be at the front of the line to make the trade that gives them the best chance to get to and win the World Series. We need a well stocked farm system to do that. Hell, I'll throw my grandmother in on the deal at that time...She'll understand. :-)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I also would really appreciate some data analysis on this. I'm not really sure if the value in the first couple years and the negative value in the last couple years ultimately end up canceling out or if the overall value is negative and by how much. Although, my gut tells me that the end result will not be positive value, thus, those contracts ultimately hurt the franchise if you don't win the WS in the first couple years.

  • I understand the premise and how you are saying there is a lot of value and importance in keeping the minor leagues full of prospects, and also that there is essentially more to signing a legit free agent than just giving up a boatload of money, however...

    If you tell me that as your scenario states that going into 2017 the Cubs would have Price and Scherzer at the top of the rotation with whomever behind them and Stanton in the middle of the lineup with whomever works out from our current system and all we had to give up was a bunch of cash and a second round pick in 2015 and (assuming they finish outside the top 10 the next two years) a 2016 and 2017 first round pick I am absolutely in.

    If the Cubs truly feel like there comes a point in time where they can "go for it" the farm is going to suffer and that is okay. It will be up to the front office to figure out a way to keep replenishing it, knowing that they aren't going to get the automatic huge boost of a top 5 pick.

  • Im with John, IF we want to sign a Lester or a Scherzer, give them fewer years and a higher AAV. Lester at 4/100 might be doable.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Mutant... I believe if you insist on going 4 yrs (which I agree with) you may have to go way beyond 4/100. Maybe more like 4/120.

  • So you're going to be bummed if we end up surrendering a 2nd round pick for a front line starter? Every 2nd round of every draft also yields 15 guys who never make it to the show. That is a very valuable pick. You're 100% right about that. But giving up a faceless player who you'll never have to get a grown man who's already a guy...I'm all day long on that.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Given those parameters, who wouldn't be?

    But when you say that "the guy" requires a contract that takes him well past his prime and the committed $$$ is at "stupid" levels...people might rethink their agreement.

    You're saying draft picks are less valuable than FAs, which flies in the face of what's been happening in Cubdom the last several years.

    Building the foundation to compete at a high level, with regularity for a long time happens by growing your own cost-controlled players and sprinkling expensive & old FAs here and there to fill gaps.

    Paying market rates for an accomplished veteran hurler ON TOP of draft picks is a heck of a lot more expensive than trading for a top-flight, cost-controlled SP who will cost us prospects only.

    You have patience, you spot your opportunity and then you pounce. Taking the Yankee Way and mortgaging your future is a recipe for disaster.

  • My head says I agree. But given your example, my heart disagrees...I would love the next three off seasons to turn into Scherzer, Price and Stanton.

  • Great article Mike...well thought and very informative. And, as always, well written. If we're going to go after that "season difference maker", I argue we're a year away, or two at most, from acquiring someone, if that acquisition requires us to forfeit a 2nd round pick. However, still trying to avoid that pitfall in consecutive years. And I know I'm super conservative, but I wish this "den" would disallow people from posting using persons in this system's real names...e.g., "Theo Epstein", if in fact, that's not really Theo Epstein posting on here, which I highly doubt.

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    In reply to copinblue:

    I think readers are aware that the guy using the screen name "Theo Epstein" really isn't Theo Epstein. I've never been a fan of screen names period, so if this site wants to ban anonymous names, that's fine with me. But to target a specific group of anonymous names, nah.

  • In reply to Tim McCann:

    But my parents really did name me "Hoosier Daddy" :)

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    lol ^^

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ha ha! And a clever name it is, I will admit.

  • In reply to Tim McCann:

    Rey Sanchez isn't my real name and I am not 11. But he was the man.

    Nice article but I think the next analysis should be on how frequently TOR become available and what costs are associated.

    Timing may not be optimal but at some point we have to get in the game.

  • In reply to copinblue:

    EASY now!

  • I do agree the Cubs are not yet in a position to give up draft picks to sign free agents. I have advocated signing guys like Shields or Liriano in the past (though never Scherzer) but I believe my impatience was getting the better of me. I think it would be prudent to see how next season goes, get a read on how advanced Baez, Bryant, Alcantara and Soler are before we start sacrificing draft picks. Its not just the one player you sacrifice when giving up the pick, you also sacrifice the bonus pool money. Hopefully, the Cubs will begin to see some improvement with the major league club beginning next season, which means they are going to have only one more chance next June with a huge draft allotment to continue stuffing the prospect pipeline.

    Go hard after Lester and any other pitcher without a QO in the offseason. Then if the arrow is pointing in the right direction and a frontline starter is still a team need, then they could go hard after Price or Shark or some other pitcher that may have a QO on them after next season.

  • I must be in the minority here. Would I trade a high 2nd round pick, a mid 1st round pick, and a low 1st round pick for Scherzer, Price and Stanton?

    Every time. Wouldn't think twice about it.

  • In reply to djriz:

    100% agree.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Would you trade Javy Baez (#9 pick), Kyle Schwarber (projected mid round pick), Duane Underwood (2nd rd pick) and $200mm in 2019 for Scherzer, Price and Stanton in 2019?

  • In reply to springs:

    No but I would trade Schwarber, Underwood and 200mil for Price and Stanton. I understand that giving up draft picks is not smart. However, when there are FAs that meet your needs and timeline, like a Price or Stanton, then yes. Especially since in 2016 and 2017 the Cubs will only hopefully have a late 1st round pick.

  • I think a lot of people here are assuming everything will work out fine and dandy when you sign all of these players for a ridiculous amount of money that will hamstring your payroll for years to come.

    You all talk about the odds about the 2nd rounder panning out. But let me ask you this...

    What are the odds that all three guys play as expected, stay healthy, and lead the Cubs to a WS win?

    Pretty low and far more costly.

    You cannot keep adding indefinitely, payrolls are finite, and when your payroll is at it's limit, you can't add assets, and you have no farm system to add cheap control value, you know what you have?

    You have the pre-Theo Cubs.

    The post-Theo Red Sox were able to sustain a farm system because the CBA allowed them to accumulate extra picks easily, that is not the case this year. It also allowed you to sign anyone without regard to draft pool allotments.

    It's a different reality and there is a reason why teams tend to avoid FAs attached to comp picks.

    Recently we have seen the Yankees, Angels, and Indians try the strategy of "draft picks be damned, let's win now". How did the Mets strategy of forgoing a draft pick for Curtis Granderson work out? Which of these teams do you see winning a WS anytime soon?

    There are real costs here, there is a real loss in value from a big picture view and the Cubs would be foolish not to consider it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "You have the pre-Theo Cubs."

    or the current Philly's. They suck at the MLB level with aging veterans, boated contracts, at negative value.... and farm system that sucks too...

    I feel bad for Rhino...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes, I absolutely would have no problem with the Cubs being the Phillies right now: 5 consecutive Division Championship from 07-11, two Pennatns and the 2008 World Series? I'd take that for the Cubs' recent history, despite the Phils' current issues. Wouldn't we all?

    And, in any event, aren't the Phillies current problems based mostly on them signing their own championship players (Hamels, Howard, Rollins, Utley to long terms deals, keeping them together, rather than going out and splurging on other teams' FA? If we're lucky they're the Cubs circa 2021

  • In reply to TTP:

    well, that's a really easy thing to say right now...just a couple years removed from a division title and a few more from a world series win.

    but, what if the last couple years are the start of a decade-long (or worse) tilt in the wrong direction? would your answer be the same, then?

    could the phils have had that same success while still accumulating enough talent along a parallel work stream to remain competitive over a longer horizon? dunno.

    think at least part of the point here is, why wouldn't you want the sustained success the phillies enjoyed, but for 15 or 20 seasons instead of 4?

  • In reply to ratay1:

    No the easy thing to say is the Phils suck and we don't want to be them. They don't have payroll flexibility for a reason. They developed a sustained period of success but they didn't go the Yankee route. They built from within and won the WS and then they paid to keep the guys that got them there. So, if we are going to be an example, I'd say we want to emulate them.

    Now you can question whether they should have blown up their team and started over, but I suspect we'll all be screaming to re-sign our own World Series heroes when (not if) that time comes.

    Finally, what is the secret to 15-20 years of sustained success?

  • In reply to TTP:

    i think that's the core question, right? i'd argue the phils haven't cracked that code, despite all their recent success.

    if theo were given the mic here, i think he'd say the model the cubs are trying to put in place is intended to achieve success over such a long horizon...

    blowing up a world series team is possibly only if you have the constant flow of impact talent from the minors...unless and until they've gotten the farm system to that place, they run the risk of becoming the phils when (not if) they win that title.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I said "Current Phillies" as in their roster... not their History. You can twist it however you want.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I am somewhat surprised that I am saying this, but no I would not want to be the Phillies despite there most recent success. I don't want to win just one world series. I want to be in contention for it ever year, for a decade and beyond. Greedy!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, you know where the Cubs are, at this point in time, better than most. So I'm asking you to answer this question:

    Would you trade a high 2nd round pick, a mid 1st round pick, and a low 1st round pick for Scherzer, Price and Stanton?
    (allowing us to keep ALL of our stud prospects).

  • In reply to djriz:

    It's not a one on one trade. If you think of it that way in terms of which scenario brings you the better player, then it is a no-brainer. If you think of it in terms of value, it is not so simple. You may be buying an extra 4-5 wins over your current guy -- and that is being optimistic -- but you are paying a premium for it. That has a cost that reverberates down the rest of the roster, payroll and the organization for the next several years, and part of that cost is the loss of a significant long term asset that also has a specific financial value attached to it.

    Mike asked a complex question that doesn't have a quick, easy answer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Are you taking into account the value of our minor league assets? If we need to trade for TOR starters, it could cost us a Russell or Almora, or both. That has more value than a 2nd round pick.

    Part of 'The Plan' is acquiring assets to both build around and to obtain players to fill holes. Draft picks are nothing more than assets. If you can get your top player, who fits your needs, for a draft pick, you do it.

    I, for one, would be very disappointed if The Cubs didn't acquire the free agent that could make the difference (I know, no guarantees) for a draft pick.

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    In reply to djriz:

    A couple important points here:

    1) Everyone is in favor of the Cubs acquiring front of the line starters. What I'm arguing is that guys like Lester and Masterson, who come without compensation, are better investments.

    2) Timing is important. A prospect we trade now is a prospect now. In two years, he'll probably be a major leaguer. When we're competitive, we'll want to make a deadline deal for the best starting pitcher on the market. Giving up three years worth of high draft picks almost certainly means our system won't have the players necessary to make such a deal.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. And I am saying we kick the tires on Hamel since he's TOR.. Maybe not worth the cost but it's worth making an offer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    These are good questions to think through the emotional value of winning quickly (we all crave this) verses the financial logical value of making a good deal for a player that will secure long term success. For me personally, I think we need to error on the side of being competitive for several years and make sure we do not rush the program for only a few years of competitivness. Being competitive for several years increases your odds of winning it all one of those years. I do not believe the Cubs major league club is ready to be very competitive in 2015, so I would error on the side on not losing a 2nd round pick. Teams that have sustained success have learned that building and maintaning assets in the farm is vital to year over year competitiveness. Unfortunately, the Cards are pretty good at this.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This piece if THE thing on Cubs Den that I have most disagreed with this year. I like you coming to Mike's defense, John, so I want to look at your points. I apologize in advance for using all caps at times; I'd use italics but the site doesn't let me.

    The odds of the Cubs winning the WS with Stanton, Price, and Scherzer is extremely low because the odds of any one team winning the WS is extremely low. For example, baseball's best team (Oakland) has a 15.1% chance of winning the WS this year even though they're the best team in early August and they have a 99.8% chance of making the playoffs. Nobody ever has truly good odds of winning the WS. If you can get yourself into the 20% range, you're probably a juggernaut.

    Yes, it is far more costly to spend on MLB talent. MLB talent makes you spend more money. You know what else MLB talent does? Win more games than 18-year-olds! I love building up our system and all of the payroll flexibility that we've built. But here's the thing about payroll flexibility: it's only an asset if it's actually converted into TALENT at some point. If it's just money sitting around that isn't being spent on talent, well, it's not an asset to the club.

    You can keep adding indefinitely but only if there's actually cash to support such additions. Maybe we'll get there, but I doubt it. Even in a big market, cash is finite. And owners want to make money. That's fine, as long as they spend enough to field a winner.

    Having good young players is awesome. They provide value because they are talented and help you win games. They also provide value because they do so cheaply, freeing the club up to spend cash resources on additional talent. There's no award for having a blitzkrieging lineup of Alcantara-Russell-Rizzo-Bryant-Baez-Soler-Castro-Castillo for $25M if you spend $50M on the entire roster and go 79-83. You're just cheap. And a loser.

    Teams don't avoid free agents attached to comp picks. They avoid CRAPPY free agents attached to comp picks. Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana, and Nelson Cruz have two things in common: (1) they're good enough to be MLB players, but (2) they're certainly not stars. Curtis Granderson isn't a star, so he fits in that camp too even though he didn't have to sweat it out this winter. I completely agree that we shouldn't spend big bucks and a pick on crappy free agents. Would I have given up a 2nd or even 1st round pick for Robinson Cano? OF COURSE. HE'S A SUPERSTAR! Your options for acquiring a superstar are extremely limited: (1) draft your own and develop him perfectly, (2) trade half of your farm system for him, or (3) pay him a boatload of money and lose one draft pick. In options 1 and 2, you almost always get the right of paying him a boatload of money regardless.

    We'd all love for the Cubs to draft their superstars. We'd also all prefer that the Cubs draft AND sign superstars. Then you get more of them.

    The Yankees are a terrible example of a team that punted on draft picks. They didn't. There are two things that got them in trouble. First, they won a lot, so they rarely (never) got high picks. Second, they traded away tons of prospect talent for a few months or a year of a decent, non-star veteran. The Yankees have had at least one pick in the first or supplemental first rounds every year from 2003 to 2013 (they didn't in 2014, but that can't be blamed for their struggles this year). Over that time, they have made 17 such picks. The crappy Cubs have made 14 such picks. The horrendous Padres have made 28 such picks and they're the least talented team in the game.

    The Indians went for it last year...and made the playoffs! The Angels went for it too, fell flat on their faces, and now they have the second-best record in baseball with a 99.5% chance of making the playoffs. That's the GOAL!

    There's a missing piece here that isn't considered: the value teams get back on the back-end of these deals. Even in the most ill-fated situations, teams often get value back for broken down overpaid players. The Soriano contract was an albatross from day one. It was way too much money for too long. Even still, the Cubs got out from $5M of the commitment when they shipped him to New York last year, AND they got Corey Black, a recent 4th round pick. But Black wasn't just a 4th round pick, he was a recent 4th round pick with 135 very successfully professional innings on his resume. Needless to say, a recent 4th round pick who has already been playing professionally and is successfully climbing the ladder is significantly more valuable than an actual 4th round draft pick. It's probably more akin to, say, a 2nd round pick. So if the cost of signing a marquee free agent is a huge pile of cash plus trading a current 2nd rounder for a future 2nd rounder, it's almost exclusively about cash and a tiny bit about time value. Of course, if a team really doesn't want to be saddled by big contracts right away, they can follow the Jose Reyes-Mark Buehrle-Josh Johnson route by turning high-priced guys into half a pitching rotation and some gloves.

    There is plenty of risk in tying up a huge portion of payroll in a small handful of players. The opportunity cost of a megacontract is enormous. The 2nd rounder is a comparatively miniscule portion of the overall cost.

    One final note. The pre-Theo Cubs were certainly not the model franchise. Nobody contests that. But in the decade prior to Theo's arrival, we did win the division three times with other seasons of 89 and 83 wins. It's not like we stunk. During Theo's tenure, we have stunk completely.

    I'm fine with the rebuild, particularly given that the CBA's primary method of young talent acquisition is to (1) stink really badly, and/or (2) pay extreme tax rates on international amateurs. I'm also fine with the rebuild because we're on the other side of the mountain. It was far less fun in 2012.

    The Cubs would be foolish not to take advantage of the fact that they project to have an entirely homegrown lineup within the next year that consists entirely of guys who project to be average-or-better. If they can't spend the big bucks to grab a huge pitcher or two for the next 4-5 years while the offensive production wildly exceeds its meager cost and before such offense gets expensive, shame on the Cubs and particularly on the Ricketts.

    The point of the game is not efficiency or marginal improvement or profit. The point of the game is to win. That's it. We need pitching to win, and unless we're planning to give up much of our accumulated young position-player talent to acquire such pitching (if we are planning to do that, we're stupid), we should be spending money to do it. If that costs us a 2nd round pick, whoop-dee-doo! We can buy 10 2nd rounders on the international marketplace if we pay a big fine. It's all about cash. Spending cash efficiently (i.e., not on bad players) + young powerful core = wins.

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    The goal isn't making the playoffs for one year -- it is for sustainable success to make the playoffs every year. This to me is the same argument. I'd trade a player for a draft pick and one that ignores value.

    The teams that have been most successful haven't been the ones that have purchased the top free agents every year, the teams like the Giants, Rangers, Cardinals, Braves, Rays,and others who have repeated playoff appearances have done it with the farm, value signings and good trades (note, not overly costly ones). I think these arguments need a closer look at what really happens instead of what we assume will happen.

    I'm all for signing someone like Lester to get things going, but if the Cubs need to dole out 200M contracts every year to compete, than this front office has failed.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I completely concur. Need to error on the side of not risking long term sustained success.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Of course the goal is making the playoffs every year. Having lots of talent is a better way to do that than having only some talent.

    Unfortunately, I don't understand exactly what else you're trying to say in the first paragraph, so I can't comment on it. It seems like maybe a couple of thoughts got mixed together.

    It is true that the most successful teams haven't bought the biggest free agent every year, but it's also true that the most successful teams tend to be among the bigger spenders. The Giants have carried a payroll of at least $117M for the last four years; similarly, the Cardinals haven't dipped below $105M in each of those years. Texas ballooned from $55M in 2010 to $120M in 2012. Leaving the Red Sox and their three titles in the last decade off of your list is an oversight, as you know; obviously they're among the biggest spenders every year. Even the Braves haven't dipped below an $85M payroll since 2000. For the latter part of the 1990s, they had a top-five payroll every year. The Rays are an anomaly, but as I noted above, one of the ways to get lots of talent is to suck for a really long time. That was the Tampa method and it isn't fun to endure.

    I don't want the Cubs to spend their money foolishly. The Edwin experience is a reminder that it makes sense only to spend on assets that you can't produce much more cheaply. The Cubs can't produce a TOR starter to complement Arrieta in the next year or two, no disrespect to Pierce Johnson or Kyle Hendricks.

    One of the reasons that the Cardinals and Braves haven't ever pushed into the top tier of spenders is that they don't have the financial wherewithal to do so. The other is that they recognize the value in producing similar value much more cheaply and they don't get tied to particular players. This is why the Cubs would be foolish to spend on an outfielder this winter (unless they think Rusney Castillo has impact ability; I won't even pretend to have an opinion on Castillo with such limited information). Yeah, they could spend on Melky Cabrera, but with Jorge Soler and whoever gets pushed to LF ready in the next few months, there's no sense paying Cabrera lots of money for similar production. Allocate that cash elsewhere, to where it's actually needed.

    It's a bit funny to see the Giants listed there among the teams that supposedly made good trade: the Wheeler-for-Beltran deal may be baseball's worst of the decade so far. The B.J. Upton signing by the Braves is also among baseball's worst.

    Finding talent and getting such talent to produce is hard. That's why it's important to use every avenue available to the team.

    I'm glad you're on board with Lester because I think it speaks to a mutual understanding of Lester's value to this team and our ability to acquire him for only cash and a #2.

    I'd actually push your final argument even further: If we need to dole out even one big free agent contract every year, the front office has failed. We should be loading up on Latino talent every third year with massive investments there given the restrictions on draft spending; we should be riding the core of top draft picks for a decade or more, supplementing from the outside. When it comes to finding an ace, if you can get one for only cash, do it, especially if the rest of the roster is so cheap.

    A closing reminder to everyone: it's not your money! In the most indirect sense, it is. But it's not. So if the Cubs throw their hands up and say, "Sorry, we reached $140M in total spending on baseball operations, we're all done," fans shouldn't throw up their hands and say "aw shucks!" They should say, "Screw that, we need XXXX, go find it." Don't hold ownership to a Bill Wirtz standard; hold ownership to a Mark Cuban standard.

    (btw, the Cubs haven't spent $140M on baseball payrolls - 40-man, draft, int'l bonuses, and dead money - since 2011. This year we're at $108.2M, a figure that would rank as the 15th highest 25-man roster payroll as of Opening Day. Spending is waaaaaaaaaay down.)

  • All they have to do is read what Theo Epstein said in a recent cubs.com article:

    "We look at this offseason and next offseason as a window during which we have to add and will add impact pitching," Epstein said. "We won't look at it exclusively this offseason."

    That should tell you that he doesn't think we are in a situation where they are going all out to win now. They are staying the course. They will be selectively aggressive with some FA's i.e.; Lester. but they were with Sanchez & Tanaka too, so we may not land him.

    the TOR SP's available after 2015 is very intriguing too:

    Price, Shark, Cueto, Zimmerman, etc...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yeah, I agree, Hoosier. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if in his mind he's thinking Jon Lester this winter and David Price in 2015.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Okay, but like I said, we may not land them.

    Believe me, I hope we do. But I was supremely confident that we would land Tanaka too. Whats to say the LAD, NYY, etc won't out bid us for Lester too?

    I hope we get him, but we can't count on it. Epstoyer has a line (where it no longer makes sense for us) and they will not cross it. Not losing the draft pick might increase it slightly, but I don't think they want a 7yr $175MM liability on a 30yo SP right now and that's what is rumored to be the cost for Lester, more (plus a pick) for Scherzer, Shields is too old plus a pick, etc...

    I think they have to find one more Arrieta type, that they can turn around (Masterson?) and then over pay for Price, etc next year... We have enough in the farm/and MLB fringe now to fill out 4/5 spots.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    We may not. But there is an important difference. Tanaka spent his entire time in Japan wanting to be a Yankee and he got what he wanted. We simply couldn't compete with that. Lester, on the other hand, has just left a place where he felt unwanted by the front office and the connection to Theo -- who drafted him and gave him his opportunity -- will be important. It may not be decisive but it's a factor in our favor we didn't have with Tanaka.

    With Price, look at what he said on it be being "cool" to win in Chicago. That's the kind of guy Theo would kill for -- the challenge is important to him and Theo can give him that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    At the end of the day, NYY made the highest bid. If Tanaka wasn't interested in playing here, they would have never negotiated to the point that they did. His heart was not set on NYY. He spoke with west coast teams and others too. his heart was set on the biggest contract. Yes, he was more interested in NY or LA for his wifes career, but... And with Lester, him and BOS have both said they'd be open to him returning and are expected to be serious bidders on him.

    I fear/suspect Lester will also go with the highest bidder. I doubt that will be us. Hopefully, but we can very easily end up as second place again...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Theo actually worked for the Padres when the BoSox drafted Lester. Hopefully his presence in the Boston system throughout almost all of Lester's career will be a big help in our attempts to land him regardless.

  • So to clarify, are you opposed to burning a 2nd rounder on Scherzer, or are you opposed to burning a 2nd rounder, period?
    I also think you're projecting an unlikely scenario with David Price, as it's not a stretch to see the Cubs finish with an exposed 1st round draft pick next season. The reason it makes sense to sign Scherzer this offseason instead of waiting on Price or Stanton is precisely because this is the last time I expect the Cubs to have the opportunity to buy one of these guys without losing their first round DP.

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    In reply to Darth Stout:

    I support using a pick if, and only if, you're getting the guy you want above all others for your organization. If you're settling *and* losing a pick, I'm opposed to it. If the Cubs front office believe that Price is the pitcher they want, period, and he will outperform Scherzer over the course of the contract, then I'd rather have Price and ditch the pick than to get Scherzer and "only" lose a second rounder.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    So that leads me to my next question: By fWAR, Scherzer has been slightly better than Price over the past 3 years. Price will hit free agency at approximately one month younger than Scherzer will. We both expect them to come with draft pick compensation attached. Why do you believe the F.O. prefers Price to Scherzer? I don't see it.

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    In reply to Darth Stout:

    Price produces a much greater number of ground balls which this front office prefers from its pitchers. In addition, backroom stuff -- such as hiring Derek Johnson -- suggest they've been trying to make Chicago feel like home to Price for years. Also don't underestimate Price saying he wants to win here. The willingness, even eagerness, to take on this challenge means something to them.

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    In reply to Darth Stout:

    Another way to think of it. In Winter 2012, it was pretty clear that Anibal Sanchez was our first choice and EJax a backup. Clearly, the Cubs were focused on pitchers that didn't cost a pick but I have no doubt in my mind if EJax came with compensation attached, most people would jave claimed that EJax would easily be worth more than whoever we got in the second round.

  • well if the Cubs can stink it up good enough the rest of the way Matuella and the Virginia LHP name escapes me are both TOR talent and could move very fast.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Nathan Kirby-kid had an incredible year-tough game in CWS unfortunately.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn we may have landed one with Jake Stinnet.

    I've got two prof scouts telling me he has the stuff to shred lower minors next year. That will launch him into our top prospect conversations with a 2017 eta. One compared him to Shark and one called him #2 upside. Kevin had a nice write up on him too.

  • All is not created equal when giving up the pick though. Two years of Kendrys Morales? No thanks. Four years of Lester? Yes, worth the pick. The likelihood of a second round pick being as productive of four years of Lester is less than one percent I'm sure, so if he's the target, I don't get how you can argue against that other than extreme cherry picking of examples. Give me some raw data of the number of left handed aces drafted in the second round and show me it's likely to happen for one team more than once every twenty years and I'll happily raise my hand and say I'm wrong.

    If Lester were under contract for four years, would anyone be giving him up for only Duane Underwood or a similar level second round pick? Like I said with the Morales example, the way in which you give up your second round pick are not all created equal.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Let me ask you this, in Winter 2012 would you have been willing to give up Rob Zastryzny and Jacob Hannemann for 4 years of Edwin Jackson?

    These players have extreme value. Even if they don't play a day in the majors for you, they are important cogs in trade negotiations. More so than Jon Lester this winter -- which we'll get for money -- we want to have the prospects to do what the A's and Tigers did this deadline that the Yankees couldn't. That's the risk here if the front office is not extremely disciplined with their use of draft pick compensation. (And this front office absolutely is.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It would be more like just giving up Zastryzny, but not getting Skulina or Clifton. If the FO really like Hannemann they would have sacrificed money from lower rounds to still acquire him. And yes, at the time if you told me would you rather have Jackson or Zastryzny and Skulina I probably would have taken Jackson. But Jon Lester is not Edwin Jackson, and I don't need to show you any stats to prove that, so I don't know where that comparison came from.

    The Cubs are in a unique position in that it is their last year (most likely) of having a protected first round pick and having TOR pitching that is within reach of acquiring.

    I'm not condoning doing this every year and handicapping payroll flexibility and minor league assets down the road. The minor league system has become infinitely more healthy the past few years and I think it will continue that trend with Theo at the helm, so ONE well placed signing in which you have to sacrifice a raw second round asset instead of a more polished product in a trade or a first round pick for the same type of talent a couple years down the road seems prudent to me.

    And to counter your point on the A's and Tigers, I hope we never have to give up the farm, literally, like the A's did for 1.5 years of a pitcher, which seems much more damning to the minor league organizational health than a second round pick lost. Why would you rather be in their position of not having the money and needing to throw someone the number 5 prospect in baseball, a previous mid 1st round pick, to get a 2-3 pitcher? Wouldn't you rather be in the Cubs position of giving up a 2nd round pick for a TOR pitcher? And the Tigers acquiring Price for "just Smiley" is not the whole story (they gave up Jackson as well) and an extreme cherry picked example, shame on you for hanging that as a precedent for future deals, because that isn't happening with any regularity.

    I would much rather be in the position of the Cubs to use their advantage of protected pick than the A's were this season. I understand the need to not hamstring your future, and one signing will not do that. The Cubs are in a better spot to do it now than they ever will be in terms of flexibility and position in the draft. This is the reason you work yourself to get flexibility. Just because I think now is opportune to make our one big sign, does not mean I don't think minor league talent or payroll flexibility are extremely important.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    And I used Lester as an example because he is who most thought would be the target, but he no longer has a QO attached to him as Hoosier says. But what I'm saying I mean to apply to Scherzer as well.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Lester doesn't have a draft pick attached to him.

    If we could sign Lester for 4yrs, Go for it, even with a pick comp!

    He is rumored to be looking at 7yrs $175M, Do you really think he is a 5WAR player at age 38? He will be 31 in Jan. What does that contract do to the organization from 2018 on... when we will be WS contenders every year, we will have a negative asset preventing ud from getting a difference maker when we need them most.

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    NOT having to give up a pick to sign Lester is exactly why i think that the Cubs will make a huge push for him, and possibly even overpay for him. Cueto and Zimmerman would require giving up a draft pick after 2015, and it probably won't be protected so we are talking about a 1st round pick. This off season is the time to strike and I think Epstoyer are smart enough to realize that.
    SIGN ALL THE PITCHERS!!!!!

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    I trust Theo and the scouting department to find the Lester's and Hammel's in the draft, also the trainers to fine tune their delivery and provide the proper training facility/equipment.
    In reality, every once in a while you will have a glaring need, one of your top guys goes down in the middle of a pennant race. That doesn't mean you have to go get the VERY best guy out there, if you have a team that picks up the slack, then getting a decent guy to fill in would do.

  • In reply to Jeff Wilson:

    They're not going to find Lester or Hamels in the draft; they never have.

    Top SP by WAR by Boston draft class:

    2003: Abe Alvarez (-0.4) (they did draft Jon Papelbon who has three starts in his career)
    2004: 0 MLB starts
    2005: Clay Buchholz (12.7)
    2006: Justin Masterson (10.4)
    2007: Nick Hagadone (-0.4)
    2008: Casey Kelly (-0.6)
    2009: 0 MLB starts (and no prospects left)
    2010: Brandon Workman (-0.4) (Anthony Ranaudo still kicking around)
    2011: Henry Owens and Matt Barnes are still going strong in the high minors

    That's it. Theo's BoSox drafted a handful of star players (Pedroia and Ellsbury among them), but when it comes to pitchers, the results have seriously underwhelmed.

  • One thing you didn't mention in terms of farm replenishment along the way. I have no doubt that the Cubs will always look to sell certain types of assets at the deadline. Guys in the last year of their contracts will always be candidates even when we are clear buyers. I expect when all these top prospects are superstars going into free agency we will not be able to extend all of them. Those we can't will be used to replenish.

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    In reply to Bilbo161:

    Doubt it. If the Cubs are competitive there is no chance the front office moves, say, Kris Bryant for prospects. Push for the World Series and make him a qualifying offer over the winter. When you're competitive, you go for it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not Bryant was the name at the top of my list. :) You should think about it a bit more. There will be many instances when we get to the FA years of these prospects when we will not want to pay what the FA wants. Those will be trade candidates to a desperate team for the right price. We will not be able to afford to keep all of these guys when they reach free agency anyway. So why wouldn't we trade some of them instead of QOing them.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Every competive team has down years to do these things in. I didn't notice you narrowed the focus to when they are competitive. But my point is that deadline trades are a way competitive team replenishes their farm system. They just sell off spare parts and soon to be FA that they will lose anyway. This will play a critical role in keeping our farm system up.

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    In reply to Bilbo161:

    Yeah, if we're out of contention in July we'll probably trade FA's we're not going to extend but the hope -- and expectation from the front office -- is that will be a very rare event.

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    When Theo took over as President of baseball ops he talked about building a franchise that could achieve sustained success. How do people expect him to do that if he is constantly trading prospects and signing compensation free agents to mega deals? Theo and co will continue to do as they have since they took over and that is to be very shrewd in their dealings and always thinking long term, not just the next 2-3 years. Its almost become an assumption that most of these free agents mega deals will hurt you towards the end. With that in mind I don't see them doing more than one of these in the next year or two if at all. I don't buy into this idea that you need to spend 150mil+ on a pitcher to build a good rotation. This FO is very smart and I think they will deliver. We just need to continue to be patient.

  • The Cubs have redundant stud prospects at key positions. I look for TOR from this source foremost. It is a huge risk to sign an ace for $$$ and years and give up a high draft pick as well.

  • O/T - but the Trib is reporting that the Marlins can pull Turner back off waivers and keep him if they don't reach a deal with the Cubs. Accurate, or have they messed up their DFA homework?

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    They can pull him back but I think because he was DFA'd even if they don't work out a trade he has to be put back on outright waivers. In which case the Cubs would just claim him again and get him for nothing. The only issue there is maybe Colorado decides to claim him the second time around and they would get him for nothing since they have a worse record.

  • Rain delay so I thought I would look up the 69' Cubs hitters.

    Remember these rookies and prospects dont have to be great just most of them have to be good. If you look at the 69' Cubs career numbers it make Rizzo and Castro look pretty darn good.

    69' Cubs
    C Hundley .236/292 HR/avg 6
    1B Banks .274/.330 HR/avg 28
    2B Beckert .283/.318 HR/avg 2
    SS Kessinger .252/.314 HR/avg 1
    3B Santo .277/.362 HR/avg 23
    LF Williams .290/.361 HR/avg 25
    CF Young .218/.323 HR/avg 4 (Lou Brock would have fit nicely here)
    RF Hickman .252/.335 HR/avg 12

  • I don't think you sign a big time FA ONLY when you're one player away. I'm all for signing a big time FA to get us to one player away -- and then sign another one. And in the abstract, I am perfectly OK giving up a 2nd round pick to sign either that first or that second big name guy. The only question is which FA to sign. Thankfully, we have the right guys to make that call.

    I'm looking forward to watching Cubs games the rest of the year (must watch TV all the sudden) and really looking forward to see what they do this offseason. Because 2015 will not be another wasted year at the big league level. It has begun!

  • The question of whether to sign a free agent and lose a second round pick may in itself be a red herring.

    Theo and staff are brilliant at exposing market inefficiencies not just regarding player development but also with team financial concerns (both short and long-term).

    So, do I expect them to sign Scherzer or Price for multi-year contracts and then watch as those player break down and the Cubs are stuck with albatross contracts? No way. I expect a patient and intelligent solution in acquiring TOR pitching -- something that we might be seeing now with the Cole Hammels waiver situation.

  • A couple of things:
    Does anyone know if there's ever been analysis done on the effectiveness various numbers of LH SP? I would assume having 2 would be ideal. Ie. potentially turning hitters over multiple times in a series. I know the theory is having 1 LH SP increases the effectiveness of all RH starters. I'm just wondering about adding Lester, and the plans for Wood, and/or Doubront.

    2. While I agree that this might not be the ideal off season to add a FA SP, given the Cubs outlook. One thing that needs to be considered is the likely availability in the future. Ie, if the Cubs deem 2014 to have a better class than 2015/16, it may force their hand to add sooner than later. A lot of things need to be taken into account. Obviously Price and Samardzija will be big ones in 2015, but Price could be extended. Essentially the market may dictate moves as well as projected outlook.

    All that said I'd like to see the Cubs sign Maeda (if posted). I'd be all over that Cuban Castillo if he hit LH, but as it is, they need to properly evaluate him, and be players if they think he can contribute strongly next year. Any surplus of hitting talent could be dealt in the future.

  • I have a simple solution (mainly due to me being a simple kind of guy) grow our own TOR talent. Or at minimum have three to four mid rotation guys. That would be a good fit for what we hope will be a killer line up over the next few years.

  • Mike, nice article. Being the Economist you are, assuming everyone acts rational, a team with a first round pick should value it more and spend less for said free agent. Lester's price should be inflated because no pick is attached, Max's depressed. In theory the market would say the Cubs should be willing to pay the difference between a 2nd and 1st rounder.

    It will be interesting to see if Theo looks at this years draft, like last years IFA. If he likes two or more free agents, then the price of your 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the aggregate might exploit the CBA.

  • I am going to have to politely disagree, from looking at Jed and Theo's draft record.
    Below are Red Sox 2nd round picks
    2010 - Brandon Workman
    2009 - William Wilson
    2008 - Derrik Gibson
    2007 - Jeffery Morris
    2006 - Justin Masterson
    2005 - Jonathan Egan

    A front line starter is well worth the price of any of these players. I fully understand the premise of having as many youngster as possible. But front line pitching would be a greater need at this point.

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    In reply to Food4Thought:

    You're conveniently omitting Dustin Pedroia who makes that look a lot better. Also, Masterson was eventually traded for Victor Martinez which was a big pickup for the Red Sox and, if you want to talk about Jed's draft record, you also have to include the Padres, where second round picks in 3 years included Austin Hedges and Jedd Gyorko.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Clay Buckholtz was taken 42nd overall too... While technically a supplemental 1st round pick. It's similar in overall placement value to our last two picks.

    Our 2nd rounder in 2014 (Stinnet) was 45 overall
    Our 2nd rounder in 2013 (Zastryzny) was 41 overall

  • John,

    I apologize if this has already been mentioned in the thread, I only skimmed through all of the responses. I don't disagree with the premise of the value of a second round pick regardless of the historical success rate, or lack-there-of. However, I see a huge contradiction to this logic compared to the logic of trading for Cole Hamels. I'm not saying you are the one with the contradiction, but assuming Theo and Jed subscribe to your opinion that sacrificing a 2nd round pick for a free agent is not prudent in the long term, then why would they ever trade a package of any combination of McKinney, Vogelbach, Villanueva, Johnson/Edwards, etc. for Hamels. The collective value of any combination of those players, not even including a former first rounder with the value of Almora far exceeds the value of a second round pick.

    Now, I understand the length and fair market value of Hamel's contract is smarter financially than giving a six year, 25+/per year deal to a free agent. However, I would argue that is exactly the place the Cubs should be and have put themselves in financially, i.e. the ability to spend more (another year or two on a deal and a couple million more per), so they don't have to sell the farm in trades.

    BTW, this is my first post here since I just discovered the blog a few weeks ago, and it's my favorite place for all things Cubs. You and your staff do a great job!

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    You know, last year at this time folks thought we were much further away than we actually were. Our top guys were just cracking AA and Bryant was still helping Daytona win a championship. But now these guys have come on like gangbusters and hope has crept back into our vocabulary.

    But that hope is quickly squashed by some when they look at our pitching situation. But I believe that Theo and Jed have done a hell of a job of getting pitching as well. Granted, the current pitching prospects seem to be about one step behind the hitters. But next year at this time we are going to see a few names that are real close.

    We aren't as bad as some want to believe in the pitching department. So if we can lure Lester here over the winter, I think that puts us in a good situation going forward. I'd probably pay the price of a draft choice for David price if needed the year after. But I just don't see us doing that type of business for consecutive years.

    Just my 2 cents.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    My opinion, I think this front office's plan is something along these lines:

    option A:
    - sign Lester this off-season to the best deal we can get, whether that be shorter years and more money or not.

    option B:
    - Lester gets a big payday that the front office isn't willing to give him (8 years at 192 million), so they sign Masterson to a reasonable deal and wait until next off-season to make a big splash.

    option C:
    - Lester and Masterson get too much money
    then I think they consider a trade for a guy like Hamels and probably have to sacrifice guys like Schwarber, McKinney, Almora, Pierce, CJ
    I've heard people complain about how much Hamels gets paid, but he only has a 4 year deal. In the next 4 years, our payroll should be able to easily handle 22.5 million going to an ace like Hamels. Honestly, he would only be 35 at the end of that deal. I'd prefer him to be 28, but he really isn't that old. BTW, his Postseason pitching stats in 13 games started, 3.09 ERA, 8.5 K/9 ( and he strikes out a lot more guys now than he did in his youth) 2.3 BB/9 oh and by the way, he has playoff experience in the big leagues, the Cubs certainly don't have enough of that.

    Option D
    - options A-C all don't pan out, then we WILL sign one of Cueto, Zimmermann, Samardzija, Medlen, Latos, Price, even guys like Fister, Leake, Porcello, Kazmir, Neftali, Chacin maybe get an older short term deal for a guy like Lohse, Iwakuma,

    There are plenty of options, the Cubs just should overpay this year, because they don't have to.

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    In reply to nukee:

    Samarzjia is NOT a free agent this winter. The A's have another year of team control.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    all of those under option D are FA's after 2015 season.

  • Does anyone not think Hendricks is a core piece? Guy is rolling!

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Can't watch but game cast shows that he's getting squeezed on his balls and strikes. True/false?

  • Interesting article. You make a good case for that point but don't agree. I would have like to seen your article talk about other ways to acquire a TOR guy. I don't want to trade 2 prospects here and 2 here and another 2 there. Next thing you know we have burned the the system. If you get a guy like Stanton who is that young and 2 fairly young quality arms. I think the organization can swallow up losing 3 consecutive 2nd rounders. Have to make sure scouts do an excellent job on the other early rounds.

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    JavyBomb !!!!!!

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    CastroBomb!!!!!!!

  • In reply to mjvz:

    wow! very impressive.

  • Ya really gotta like Hendricks' pitch counts. 12 pitches/inning seems about what he normally throws.

    And now that Javy's got a few dingers out of the way he can settle down.

  • Javier Baez,... Three Major League Hits,.... 2 HRs and 1 RBI single,.....

    Nice!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Javy & Castro go Back to Back...that has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

  • I didn't think that one was going out when he hit it. It looked like it got in on Javy a little, but the dang thing just kept going.

    That is some scary stuff, the rest of you National League.

    As for Castro... to quote Harry, "He really creamed that ball."

  • Regardless of compensation/draft pick penalty, I personally don't believe that the Cubs should sign any pitchers who are age 31+ to more than a 5 year deal. Even that is likely too long, but it is the price you pay to sign top free agents. If the player/pitcher will not accept more money to take a 5 year deal versus a 6-7 year deal, then the Cubs should move on. Just as their is a monetary limit of what they should pay for a particular player in terms of value, so should their be a term limit past which it no longer makes sense for the organization. Any years past age 35 are a huge gamble for pitchers.

    As far as compensation, 2nd round picks are valuable, but as others have said, the FO will weigh the value of the player they are considering acquiring, versus the value of the pick they would have to give up to do so. For instance, wasn't it you Mike who was willing to trade away a ton of players for Stanton? So why wouldn't you give up a 2nd round pick for him instead? Of course by then it will be a 1st round pick as I'm hoping it won't be top-10 protected, but even a 1st round pick is worth much less than the trade package I believe that you proposed for Stanton. So I'm not disagreeing, just saying that each case is it's own decision. Some players could be worth it to the FO, but then again you look at a team like the Boston Red Sox who have never given up a comp pick, but yet have gamed the system to receive a ton, and the success they have had...and it makes you think that their are always other players without the penalty who are viable targets. So yeah, I guess in my opinion both sides are right.

  • John or Mike,

    I'm a big build threw the farm system supporter. However, I am curious as to over the last ten years or so, what the farm systems were like for the WS teams. Do either of you have any data on that?

  • Wait for Stanton.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Why?

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    In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    I just don't get this love affair some folks have for Stanton with the amount of power hitters we have in the system. Is there a new rule coming out that will give teams 11 spots in the batting order that I don't know about?

  • Rizzo looks lost in the dugout while his fellow 'core' knock in runs.

  • Holy Crap! Another HR from Baez! now 4 career hits, 3 HR, 5RBI - every hit has driven in at least one run.

    Wow!

  • Holy crap.
    Why do we need Stanton again??

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    In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Exactly!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    ditto

  • Barney to Baez. Jeepers. Equivalent production leap coming up in right field.

  • Javy is en fuego!

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    Baez homers again, 3 for 4, 4 RBIs

  • Wow, Wow, Wow! Can only imagine the hype building more after Baez keeps hitting these blasts...

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    Jonah Keri ‏@jonahkeri 5m
    Javier Baez just made 30,000 people at Coors Field pregnant.

    My thought exactly. lol

  • And that other rookie just went 8.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Can't help it. Really want Hendricks to be better than the 4-5 everyone expects him to become. I almost want to say that Hendicks' development can be more important for the Cubs future than Javy-baby's. Almost.

  • I'd give up a second rounder to sign Scherzer - at THIS time. I'd expect that the current state of the pipeline will be considered every time there is an opportunity to pick up a FA. I also expect contracts that leave the Cubs free to deal players with time remaining to create space for our upcoming prospects AND get back prospects to restock the farm. Theo & Jed know about stuff like this...

  • Kyle Hendricks. Averaging nearly 7 innings per start. A 2.10 ERA. Less than 1.1 WHIP, even with shaky defense behind him at times. Wins against two playoff teams. Keeping the ball in the park in Colorado. Not bad for a pitcher with too few "plus pitches," an inability to miss bats (except for all those baffled swings), and an ability ceiling no higher than a No. 5 pitcher. Give me Price/Scherzer and four No. 5 pitchers like Hendricks, and you could go far into the playoffs. Score one against those highly touted, high ceiling "brain dead heavers" as Greg Maddux would put it.

  • Kinda funny - with all this talk about what we'd give up for a starting pitcher, Hendricks gave up two runs in eight innings and saw his ERA go UP.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    :-)

  • that Kyle Hendricks is pretty darn good. If He is a 5th starter I want 5 of them lol

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Yeppers!

  • Javy Baez makes me happy in my pants

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    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Now that's a little too much info! ROFL

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    You better get that checked out.

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    My Yankees fan sister got my dad's tickets for tomorrow's game. Wtf! He should have followed the plan and been patient.

  • Anything new on the Turner front?

  • Lol

  • It is NOT only a 2nd round pick. It's about the allotted money attached to that pick. It's time we start talking about "slot allotments" instead of a draft "pick" in the traditional sense. As the Cubs FO has shown they are able to use a slot allotment attached to one pick and turn that into 2-3 premium prospects selected later. Don't really have thoughts on whether to sign FA and lose a draft "pick," but I think the FO has a very good idea on the true ramifications of losing a draft allotment, which is it hamstrings your ability to sign multiple potential premium prospects. This is counter to building a long and sustained player development machine, which is the stated goal.

    COZ

  • No one here has mentioned the Cubs Carribean pipeline. By spending aggressively in 2013 and by all accounts ready to do the same in 2015, they can layer in players for the future. That will help mitigate any possible draft choice loss. For some reason AL clubs seem to be much more aggressive in Carribean than NL clubs.

  • Looking at the standings, especially with Houston getting an additional pick, I'm not convinced it will only be a second round pick.

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