Cubs Placing Smart Bets On Youth

Cubs Placing Smart Bets On Youth

Gamblers are not usually seen as the wisest people. When it comes to young talent, however, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer like to roll the dice.

Jacob Turner and Rusney Castillo are just the latest examples that the main focus of this program continues to be on hoarding young chips.

Turner, the former first-round pick recently DFA'd by the Florida Marlins, was officially acquired on Friday when the Cubs placed a no-brainier claim on the big arm.

The Tigers took Turner ninth overall in 2009 and quickly handed him a major-league contract and a $4.7 million signing bonus. As a result of that payday, Turner's development may have been hastened a bit, at least in the eye of the Cubs brass.

The Cubs have had some recent and significant success in turning around a former top-pitching-prospect-turned-castoff in one Jake Arietta. Never mind Arietta's most recent performance; he was do for a stinker and let's just go ahead and blame it on Colorado.

Turner, however, may need a little bit more work than Arrieta did. But that doesn't mean he's not worth the gamble. Any time you can take a flyer on an arm like Turner's, you simply do it. That is particularly true when you consider that the Cubs gave up only marginal prospects in return, and considering the need for impact arms in the organization.

This is also a clear sign that the Cubs are leaning heavily on their pitching infrasctructure, led by pitching coach Chris Bosio, to hit some more jackpots. The Cubs are betting on Bosio to work some of his magic here again.

Epstein seemed to be thrilled to get his hands on Turner.

"He was one of the better starting pitching prospects in all of baseball a couple of years ago and we feel like that talent is still in there," Cubs president Theo Epstein told The Associated Press. "If you look at his velocity, it's still there. If you look at some of the peripheral numbers, they're still pretty decent.

"We've had some success with talented pitchers who are going through tough periods, kind of just getting them here and letting them reset a little bit."

As for Castillo, the odds aren't quite clear. Our ChicagoNow counterpart, John Arguello, has spoken with some scouts who still wonder if Castillo will even be much more than a fourth outfielder.

On the other hand, there are some who think the speed and skill Castillo possesses can translate to a top-of-the-order presence, another sought-after commodity for this organization. Baseball America rated Castillo with a 70 speed, graded on the 20-80 scale.

There is much interest in the young Cuban, as Castillo's age (27) and free agency appeals to many teams. He has also been linked to the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners.

Neither one of these players are sure bets.

But if you are going to gamble, it is always good to bet on youth.


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  • Your comment on the Cubs' "pitching infrastructure" is worthy of an extensive article IMO. If Bosio, et. al., are able to resurrect pitchers on a reasonably consistent basis, this would seem to represent a huge organizational advantage going forward. Thanks Tom!

  • I was told recently that the Cubs recent accent on resurrecting pitchers has as much to do with their technology improvement and being able to pinpoint mechanical and approach issues to where Bosio and staff are better able to then apply this knowledge to the pitchers. They also use this technology to better scout opposing teams.

    Last point of reference from someone who said look for the Cubs to try something very new to the convention of MLB---going to six starter rotation something some Japanese pitchers have discussed even in public.

    What this also does is place at least 13 pitchers on the active roster which we already see the Cubs often carrying 8 relievers anyway. It was said that the Cubs are looking to not over work bullpens or fatique starters, especially with the Cubs crazy schedule of night and day games...

    What this then goes to their position player roster where players must have the ability to play multiple positions, (notice how Madden used Zobrist and others around the diamond, especially in late innings). So a player like Alcantara becomes ever more valuable with position roster of 12. I think once Baez gets comfortable the Cubs will have him take some OF reps as well. Add in Coghlan who once was a 2B and you see how things could emerge as the rebuilding emerges.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Very interesting! Thanks for your thoughts Rnemanich!

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