Trades with Texas could start paying off this year

The Cubs had a lot of work to do when it came to rebuilding the farm system.  The Cubs addressed the lower levels of the system with the draft and international signings, but the upper levels were bereft of young talent as well.

The problem is nobody really likes to trade good upper level prospects, especially for 2 months of a starting pitcher, so the Cubs had to get creative.

Cue up the Texas sextet.  The Cubs have acquired 6 near MLB ready prospects from the Rangers over the past two seasons.  All but one will start the season at either the AAA level or the big league club.

The Dempster Haul

Both Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva don’t blow you away physically, so they were considered sleepers in a very good Rangers system.   The flipside, however, is that the Cubs felt they were polished players with great makeup with the ability to adapt and move quickly.  They were right.  Just a year and a half later, both will be at the AAA level to start the season.

The Garza Haul

Last year the Cubs had to cobble together a package of imperfect talent.  Mike Olt had his vision issues, Neil Ramirez had questions about his shoulder, Justin Grimm was forced up too early last year and didn’t make a good impression, and CJ Edwards has questions about his size/stamina despite great stuff and outstanding minor league numbers.   Three of those 4 players will be at the AAA level or better and Edwards will be the furthest away at AA, but with the raw talent to close that gap quickly.

There may be some flaws and/or limitations in this group, but there is no question there is talent.  There is no way they get this level of talent without a few question marks — not for 2 months each of Garza and Dempster.

Here’s a quick look at those players and their chance to contribute in 2014 in order of likelihood/impact

1.  Mike Olt

Olt appears to be overcoming the vision issues that led to his struggles in 2013.  It’s easy to forget that Olt was a top 50 level talent as recently last year — he would have ranked in the Cubs top 5 this year had he repeated his 2012 numbers. Again, they never would have acquired him if that happened.

Olt is being given a shot at winning the 3B job this spring.  Luis Valbuena didn’t do anything to lose the job.  He was productive despite a low batting average, but he is a role player filling in as a stopgap.  He’s not going to get in the way of a younger, potential long term player if the Cubs think that player is ready.

What you want to watch for this spring with Olt is his contact rates, the quality of his contact, and his defense.  Regardless of the numbers he puts up, those areas will tell you the most about Olt and whether he has overcome his vision issues and is ready to contribute at the MLB level.

If he makes the team and plays well, there are implications down the line.  It affects the ultimate defensive position of the Cubs top two prospects: Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.  Bryant’s move would be simple.  He goes to a corner OF spot.  With Baez it is a bit more complicated as the Cubs have a good young player at SS in Starlin Castro and another prospect they like, Arismendy Alcantara, at 2B.  Those are the kinds of problems you want the Cubs to have as they begin to fill out their lineup because it will give them all kinds of flexibility to move players around or move them in trades to fill other needs.

2. Justin Grimm

It’s no accident the Cubs had Grimm included in the Garza package.  They’ve liked him for a long time.  He’s an athletic pitcher with ideal size at 6’3″, 200 lbs and the good stuff to match.  Grimm averaged around 92 mph on his fastball but hit as high as 96 mph last year out of the bullpen.  His curveball is a potential out pitch though he has to gain consistency with it in terms of command.

Grimm fits either in the rotation, where he can be an innings eater from the 3/4 spot, or as a late inning bullpen arm, where he can likely pitch in the 95-97 range and can focus on his FB/CB combo.

ZiPS is relatively optimistic about Grimm, whom it sees as a 1.1 WAR pitcher.  That isn’t much, but it is good for the 5th highest projection of any Cubs pitcher.  Keep in mind too that this modest projection reflects the struggles he had as a pitcher who was rushed to fill a rotation spot last year before he was ready.

Perhaps a change in scenery and work with pitching Chris Bosio can vault this former top 10 pitching prospect (#5 in the Rangers system before the 2013 season) to the next level.  The formula worked with former Reds #7  prospect Travis Wood, who bounced back when given the opportunity.

If the Cubs don’t pick up a veteran, Grimm has a good shot at the #5 role this season.

3. Kyle Hendricks

Hendricks was the Cubs best pitcher at the minor league level last year.  His stuff isn’t quite as good as Grimm’s but his command and pitchability are the best in the Cubs system.  Hendricks took a step forward last year when he learned to cut his fastball, creating movement and drawing weak contact with it.  It gives him something closer to the go-to pitch he has lacked early in his career because he commands it well and can use it when he’s behind in the count.

Hendricks fastball is in the high 80s but he plays it up by spotting it well and setting it up with his good change-up.  Adding to his effectiveness is his abiilty to pitch with good downward plane, allowing him to keep the ball down in the zone and keeping the ball on the ground and in the park.

Pitchers who lack the ability to beat hitters purely on stuff are in the position of having to prove themselves at every level and that is no different with Hendricks.  As the hitters get better, their margin for errors in the strike zone get smaller.   So far, however, he has been up to the challenge, making it all the way to AAA Iowa where he put up a 2.48 ERA (3.18 FIP) in 6 late season starts.  Hendricks will return there to start the season but if he continues that success he could be in line for a promotion, perhaps as soon as the all-star break.

Like Grimm, Hendricks projects as roughly a 1 WAR pitcher in 2014.

4. Neil Ramirez

Ramirez is yet another former top 10 prospect who has hit a bump or two on his road to the big leagues.  Ramirez struggled with his delivery and command in 2012 and nearly fell off the prospect charts, posting a 7.66 ERA with the Rangers AA affiliate.  Last year, however, Ramirez bounced back and put up tremendous strikeout rates in his second chance at that level.  He struck out hitters at a rate of 11.1 Ks/9 IP — a whopping 30.5% of hitters he faced.  Pitchers cannot live by strikeouts alone, but his ability to miss bats gives testament to the quality of his stuff.  Overall, Ramirez went 9-3 with a 3.84 ERA.

Ramirez has the quality pitches to be a starter, including a big breaking curve, an improving change, and a slider that he has turned to more and more often.  The curve, as pretty as it can be sometimes, is difficult to command and can get him into trouble when he leaves it up in the zone.

There is plenty to work with here but Ramirez still needs work, so don’t expect him to start the season with the Cubs.  He needs to continue to develop consistency with his delivery and command, two things that go hand in hand, but when he does, he will have a chance to help the Cubs by the end of the season.  He most likely projects as a late inning reliever, but the Cubs have no reason to rule him out as a starter yet.

5. Christian Villanueva

There are a lot of names that come up when we talk about future Cubs 3Bs and Villanueva is one name that tends to get lost in the shuffle.  He doesn’t have the elite bat speed of Baez, the all-around skills and polish at the plate of Kris Bryant, or the combination of athleticism and solid approach of Mike Olt.  He lacks the power or flashy tools that all 3 of those players possess.  However, Villanueva does have solid tools across the board — a guy whose sum is greater than the sum of his individual parts.

Villanueva is currently the best defensive 3B in the Cubs system.  What he lacks in elite quickness, he makes up for with instincts and anticipation.  He has soft hands and a strong arm.

Offensively he began to develop some doubles power at AA Tennessee and hit for a career high 41 doubles and 19 HRs.  After struggling early in the season, Villanueva adapted to the higher level of pitching and finished a strong, a sign that bodes well for him.

If Villanueva needs to work on something, it’s continuing to develop an approach that can get aggressive at times.  He does have some good pitch recognition skills.  Despite a change of scenery and a new opportunity, Villanueva remains a sleeper and if Olt isn’t ready this year, Villanueva could well get the next chance to supplant the Valbuena/Murphy platoon at 3B.

6. CJ Edwards

The most highly regarded prospect on the list is also the furthest away.  Edwards was absolutely dominant at the A ball level last year, going 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA (1.78 FIP) and striking out nearly 12 batters per 9 IP with the Rangers.  He was even better with the Cubs in 6 starts, upping his K rate to nearly 13 per 9 IP — whiffing an incredible 36.3% of hitters while walking a very respectable 7.7%.

Edwards has an electric fastball and a wipeout curve — two legitimate swing and miss pitches — to go with a solid change.  There is no question about his stuff.  It’s all about whether he has the stamina to be at the front of the rotation.  Edwards carries just 155 pounds on his 6’2″ frame.  He’s doing all he can,

 “Anything I see, I eat,” he said. “Last night at the hockey game, I had an Italian sausage, cheese fries, Sprite, Coke and a hot dog with cheese on it.”

No doubt the Cubs will couple Edwards efforts with strength training to make sure he puts on the right kind of weight.  Whatever happens, however, Edwards has the ability and makeup to make an impact.  And if he never develops the strength and stamina to be a frontline guy, the Cubs would be thrilled with a mid-rotation type with the frequent ability to pitch like an ace.  I can’t help but think of Rich Harden when I think of Edwards, another slightly built pitcher with dominant stuff, so the Cubs will have to monitor his workload closely.

Edwards is one of the most exciting, most talented pitchers the Cubs have had in recent history — and to top it all off, he’s an impressive individual who will be easy to root for.  He’s unlikely to contribute in 2014 but raw talent has a way of making a mockery of time tables once it all comes together.

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  • When does that Phil Nevin kid make his debut?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Do you mean his debut in the 16 inch softball league with the keg at 2nd base?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:


  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You make that sound like a bad thing.

  • Good stuff! With the current rebuilding of the system and the many trades the Cubs have made, it's easy to loose track of all the acquired talent. Nice to know how the talent is progressing and where.

    How about future updates from the other trades?

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Thanks. And sure, we can do that with future deals -- or if current ones become more prominent. Hopefully we'll get a chance to write about how well the Scott Feldman deal worked out for the Cubs by the end of the season.

  • Nice summary John,... as usual.

    The management has done a very good job stocking the minors with undervalued (via injury, inconsistency, or lack of 'flash') assets, and in bringing in a few good warm bodies to flesh out the big-league club (Rizzo and Wood as existing examples, Areitta and Strop as upcoming examples) in the meantime.

    If you had told me that we would be able flip a few months of Feldman & Clevenger for players with the potential fugure utility of Arietta and Strop at this time last season,... I would have mocked you,...

    They make what appears to be good trades,.... Even the Stewart / Colvin trade seemed like a good one at the time (although it's largely been a bust for both sides).

    Now - can the field a team with enough talent to regularly scare opposition teams? Preferably for years to come,....

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks. If I didn't know the outcome, I would do that Stewart deal again because there wasn't a whole lot of downside to it.

    All they lost was a utility IF'er and a 5th of'er/fringe MLB'er and they could have gotten themselves a starting 3B. It didn't work out, but it was a pretty low risk deal.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It was fine; the only long-term impact was LeMahieu, and he is basically just a useful bench guy.

    Remember how criticised the Marshall deal was at the time? Going by WAR, we already won that one.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Criticized only by the same elements of the fanbase who are mad that the Cubs aren't buying free agents to try and finish at .500. Forget those fools.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    One site had a measurement of present and futre value gained in trades and the Travis Wood deal was near the top on the side of the Cubs.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    NOT trading Marshall (regardless of his health and impact post-trade for Cinci) would have been foolish 2 pre-seasons ago. Even IF he had stayed healthy he would have been an expensive, lefty set-up man for a bad team.

    Probably have gotten at least as much value as we would have gotten from holding onto Marshall as we have gotten from the relatively less expensive (and as it turns out much healthier) Russell - and at the same time we've gotten about a year and a half (with more to come) of useful lefty starting pitcher Wood in return for trading Marshall. Would have been an even 'better' outcome if Sappelt had panned out as a fringy OF for couple of years.

    Every trade has added 'something',.... even if it was the addition by subrtaction of swapping Volstad's woes for Zambrano and his meltdowns and high price-tag.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Um, you realize we still paid zambrano's high price tag anyways, right?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    We paid Zambrano's salary and Miami paid Volstad's. We got some salary relief but not much.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Yes - we ate some significant cash. BUT - as much as I used to like Zambrano before his mental issues started to outweigh his on-field value - Zambrano's flare-ups became somebody else's clubhouse problem.

    We were going to eat the rest of his salary anyway,.... at least we got some minor salary relief, and a 'warm body' they could trot out every 5-ish days to fill that spot. Volstad was one of those guys who looked like he should fare better than he did,.... but always seemed to have '1 bad inning' in each start that killed him.

    Even accounting for that - moving Zambrano at the time was addition by subtraction. That was my point - no added value in prospects, no real salary relief, but added value in clubhouse stability.

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    I felt all the mid-season trades last year, the FO did a great job. Getting Strop and Arrieta for Feldman, the Garza trade, a real prospect for Soriano (Casey Black), and an actual baseball player for Scott Hairston (Ivan Pineyro).

  • In reply to Zonk:

    The DeJesus deal was a head-scratcher. It's not wrong to say we don't need him this year, but he was a fan favorite and a solid leadoff hitter and would have only costed 6.5 mil. It seemed like the front office got duped on that one.

    But I guess the bottom line is he wasn't going to make us much better this year anyway. Anyone know what exactly we got in that deal?

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    Looks like A. J. Burnett just changed his mind about only wanting to pitch for the Pirates next season or retiring.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Wonder if he'd do a one year deal with the Cubs. They can always deal him if he wants to play on a contender. Guess for me though is that he'd sign with Baltimore since I believe he's from that area.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's what I was wondering too.

  • Great if we can keep on acquiring young talent with giving up
    anyboby that fits our plans. If we can develop them slowly
    then maybe it will be worth it in the long run

  • If Olt makes the team, do the Cubs trade Valbuena before opening day? Move him to 2B and bench DB?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I think you have to keep him as a utility guy and insurance to both Olt and Barney. Not much trade value there.

  • I saw the CJ Edwards quote and laughed, that's a nice problem to have. Wouldn't you think the Cubs would have an awesome dietary plan for players and prospects? I would think they'd have some nutritionists on staff to make plans for guys like this, or guys on the opposite end of the spectrum.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    I'm sure they do, but some guys don't put on weight easily. When I was a kid, I used to down protein shakes and eat 4 1/4 pound burgers in a sitting and I wouldn't gain a pound.

    I don't have that "problem" anymore.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It sounds like he may have Celiac disease. Can often lead to issuesputting on weight.

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    In reply to TheMightyGin:

    He could just have a really high metabolism too.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That used to be my issue. Age slowed that down a bit :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ha! A problem I also 'used to have'.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Seriously who told this kid to binge on junk food to become a front-line starter? Not the way to become an elite athlete (or healthy human being of any sort) IMHO.

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    They have some on staff, I went to culinary school with 2 that currently work with the Cubs. This front office covers all their bases.

  • Good stuff.. You didn't mention Barret Loux, even though he came from the Rangers, but I believe, his already lower stock took another hit last season after a shaky first half and walk issues.

    But speaking of another trade partner... John, do you think Vizcaino makes the Cubs bullpen at some point this season?

  • In reply to Caps:

    Too young and talented to try to hurry

  • In reply to Caps:

    True. But Loux is probably a middle reliever at best. I think the Cubs may end up losing that deal because Soto has at least been a solid veteran backup catcher for the Rangers.

    I think they should take their time with Vizcaino. If he shows he's healthy then maybe he can force his way up.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Loux may very well be released this spring. Only so many spots on the Iowa and Tenn pitching staffs and there are enough higher upside guys that need them.

    I'd like to see them start Vizcaino out as a starter in Iowa and get him some innings in April/May so he can work on all three of his pitches and at least give them the option of keeping him as a starter next year. Move him to the pen in May and potentially give him a shot with the Cubs as a reliever by June/July.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    True, I think Loux is a non-factor player right now and I'd like to see Viz make the rotation but i think they should take it easy with him this year... Maybe the bullpen in 2014 and try to the extend him in ST next year, depending on our bullpen situation... He could be a solid starter or closer someday.

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    Coming this July: Alfaro,, Gallo, and Jackson for Jeff Samardzija.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I cant wait to watch the Chicago Rangers play.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha! exactly what i was thinking. any chance they throw in Odor as well if Shark surprises this year, possibly putting up a sub 3.00 era?

  • In reply to CaraBear:

    I would say that would be a very distinct possibility..

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    In reply to CaraBear:

    So after making my joke -- and it was a joke, I think the Cubs would want major league caliber pitching coming back in any Samardzija trade and the Rangers don't have it to give -- the Blue Jays rumor that appeared dead months ago poked its head out of the hole today.

  • Do you see any issue with Olt coming out of spring training as the starter if he shows his vision problems are behind him?

  • In reply to Theo Epstein:

    I don't. If his vision is okay then I think he's ready.

  • John-
    I recently found the blog and I admit I am an avid follower now. Thanks for all the great insight and education regarding sabermetrics etc .
    Question for you to discuss if possible:
    Dreaming that all the talent in the pipeline reaches their potential, what do you envision a lineup looking like in 2-3 years? If Olt resorts back to the "Untouchable prospect" McCleod referred to last week-is he the 3rd baseman of the future? Does that push Bryant to Right or Left Field with Soler and Almora? Would that preclude to a Castro/Baez SS/2nd tandem up the middle? Who are the likely prospects that get squeezed out by so much talent and become elite trade bait? I assume Voggelbach is a candidate for an American League team...
    Thanks again

  • In reply to CDUB:

    Thanks CDUB. We are about to start our prospects list next week and I think we may be able to do something like that for a conclusion. It may not happen for a couple months though, since we're stretching out the list over 7 weeks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sounds good John, I look forward to reading it. It's nice to think about the bright future they front office is building. Even more exciting to think we will have all the chess pieces we need to play a wicked game of play 'em or trade 'em when we need to. Keep up the good work!

  • In reply to CDUB:

    If Olt really returns to his original projected form, I believe he will be the third baseman of the future. From the reports I have read, Bryant is projected as a good corner outfielder, while Olt is not. And Baez looks as if he could play anywhere.

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    Nice article John, I'm working on a machine that will merge Grimm, Hendricks into one pitcher, combing only their best features.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks. While you're at it, maybe you can insert Edwards talent and arm on to Barrett Loux's solid frame.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm getting there. The time machine is broke right now, but once I get the DeLorean fixed, I was thinking of merging Edwards with a young Lee Smith.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    If we combine Bryant and Almora we can have our own Mike Trout!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    The Cubs will win against Miami in the 2015 World Series. It has been foretold in the historic document that is Back To The Future II.

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    John, it seems there was a flurry of ptbnl's over the past couple of years which I've lost track of - ddj turned into cash, but can we run down the others?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Could research that. PTBNL's rarely turn out to be the jewels of trades but we'll take a look back soon. Will have to research. I think others may have turned into cash as well.

  • Just read that the Jays are still interested Jeff. They don't want
    to give up a draft pick for any FA SP. I think he has more value
    now than in July

  • Was Ivan Pineyro a PTBNL? He's a guy I think could turn out to be another in the how-did-we-steal-that-guy-for-HIM series.

  • In reply to Deacon:

    He came back in the Scott Hairston deal, Deacon.

    John... this article was just wonderful !! Thanks so much.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Thanks MB!

  • In reply to Deacon:

    Pineyro was definitely a steal, even if he's a 5th starter or a BP arm. Great value for Hairston.

  • Didn't know if this is new or old material being rehashed by Ken Roesenthal ??

    The D-Backs were willing to lose the 16th pick for free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, and their top priority remains a front-line starter. But they are more inclined to revisit a trade for Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija than pursue Santana or Jimenez.

    Outside of A. Bradley, not sure what Arizona has left as far as prospects that the Cubs would have interest in ??

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    In reply to SouthsideB:

    I've read that both the D-Backs and the Blue Jays have been talking to the Cubs about Samardzija.

  • I'm surprised we haven't heard any chatter of the Cubs and Rangers making another deal for Shark with the injury to Holland. They've invested a lot of money getting Choo and Fielder to have one of their top rotation guys out for half the year. They still have some guys in their farm that Theo would covet. Just thought I would hear some rumors.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I agree, possibly something along the lines of Shark + Nate for Alfaro, Jackson, and Odor/Gallo?

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    In reply to 2ndChance:

    how do you people keep track of other teams' farms so well, do you not work?

  • John, all this concern about Edwards' weight has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. All the Cubs have to do is wait until he's 40 and then he'll have NO problem putting on the pounds...

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I'd be happy to do a metabolism swap with Edwards. I'm willing to help in anyway I can.

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    That's an impressive list for some rentals. I'm still amazed at the return on Hairston.... Here's hoping that CJ follows in the footsteps of other smaller-build guys like Pedro Martinez & Maddux.

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    sorry, totally off topic for a second, but there's a devastating article on the Pirates' off-season, on YardBarker. Interesting stuff, I had no idea:

  • In reply to SKMD:

    That was an interesting read, though I think fans (especially the media) place way too much emphasis on off season acquisitions. Anyways, thanks for sharing.

  • The best part of the Rangers deals-- these are all players with huge upside potential and none are part of the "Core Four". And don't include Johnson, Alcantara, Vogelbach, etc.

    And I think the weight issue of Edwards is becoming way overblown to the extent that it could have a psychosomatic effect on the kid down the line. This weight/stamina correlation is a fallacy and currently being discussed on another forum... this article has some great research on the topic-

    This discussion is in reference to Corey Black but the point can also be made for Edwards. If the kid handles 7 innings at TN and puts up his same stat line as A ball he'll be a top 20 prospect by next year.

  • I enjoyed reading this article. It gives me more reason to be excited for spring training. With all the negatives this past week it is a breath of fresh air.
    Couple of thoughts that popped into my mind while reading this. Is there a chance olt and Villanueva r in Iowa? I look at valbuena as not playing well enough to keep job. I would like to compare Edwards frame to Pedro Martinez? One thing that scarres me with olt is why were rangers willing to part with him this year when last year he was untouchable. I am rooting for him. I hope he is guy rangers thought he was. Also if those arms start off in Iowa. U could argue Iowa has better rotation then Chicago?

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    ok, my off topic comment clearly got lost in space - interesting article about Pittsburgh's off season on yardbarker, link in Fangraphs.

  • Paulson thanks for the link, this is an interesting article. I wonder if others are updating this research from 2010. My key takeaway was this quote "when it comes to players who are good enough to be drafted in the Rule 4 amateur draft, the correlation between height and a player’s effectiveness or durability is not statistically significant."

  • In reply to rsanchez11:

    Yeah, the data in that piece was an eye-opener for me. The way I see it, the apprehension related to Edwards is similar to what Baez encountered before last year until Javy lit up Daytona & Tennessee. Now every prospect evaluator out there is giving him the respect he deserves.

  • Jon Heyman (Baseball Insider) is reporting that Blue Jays are still talking to Cubs regarding Jeff Samardzija.

    Considering that Toronto GM/Sr.VP of Baseball Ops, Alex Anthopoulos has been quoted stating that the Cubs are asking for Sanchez AND Stroman and more...and they are still talking for this long seems like a good sign for the Cubs re: acquiring at least one top pitching prospect. Bruce Levine confirmed Heyman's reporting 45 minutes later..

    Bruce Levine ‏@MLBBruceLevine
    Confirming Jays interest in Jeff Samardzija. @JonHeymanCBS . Cubs still trying to sign pitcher . Jays have been most aggressive team

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    Sanchez alone doesn't get the deal done IMO but that seems to be what the Jays want to do. One top-notch prospect and two good ones feels like quite the haul but a reasonable one considering his two years of cost control, front line potential, and low mileage. Compare that to what we got for 2 months of Garza and Sanchez + Stroman + 1 doesn't seem all that farfetched.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    They need to keep a hard line. Overpayment or nothing. The Jays are the team that feels it needs to make a deal. I have no qualms about letting Shark play out the next two years without an extension. If he becomes an ace, we can afford to pay him market price. The chances of Shark becoming a TOR starter are equal or greater than either one of Stroman or Sanchez becoming one. His stuff is just as good, he is a best athlete in the group, and he already has shown stretches of becoming that guy at the MLB level. The only way I make a deal is if we improve our chances of getting a TOR starter, and the only way that happens is if we get both of them. Or the D'Backs send us Bradley. I'm a huge believer in him. Bradley is better than Shark.

  • I think Sanchez , Nolin, and say one of either Drabek or Gose would elicit the serious attention of Theo & Jed. I have a feeling that they're going to be holding on tight to Stroman.

    Here's an interesting question: would trading Shark make us any more inclined to sign someone like Jimenez ? You could make an argument -I'm not making it necessarily- that they could leverage Jimenez' depressed value- draft pick cost & Garza #- and sign him for a reasonable sum. Jimenez could help provide a nice bridge to a newly acquired Sanchez, Edwards, Johnson, et al. I get why we're listening on Shark but , on the other hand, we need to prepare for the possibility that this offensive group might be ready to get after it in '15. Jimenez- laughable as it may seem- might be approaching "value " status. Just a thought; I expect a torrent of objections -for loss of 2nd rounder if nothing else.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    If we deal Shark, I would actually not have a problem with signing Jimenez and/or Santana if they were willing to sign 3 yr deals. I would extend offers of 3/40-45 or so to both of them. The Cubs can't look at prospects as the only assets they can collect. On a short contract, both of those guys are very valuable assets. They can provide on field performance now, and if the hitting prospects do happen to burst on the scene and turn the offense around in 2015 then the Cubs will already have a decent nucleus of a rotation in place and won't necessarily have to wait on pitching prospects or make trades. If the offense doesn't hit the ground running, those guys would be tradeable assets next season to acquire younger prospects (and certainly more valuable prospects than a 2nd/3rd round pick).

  • In reply to mjvz:

    That is exactly my rationale. If we wait around for someone to hand us T Walker or A Bradley to fix our SP issues, we're going to be in trouble. Solving the SP riddle without sacrificing one of our prized hitting prospects is going to require some creativity.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    So, John and I have both the made the point that the Red Sox, the most successful team in baseball in recent seasons, are having nothing to do with players tied to a qualifying offer. That's been said many times already.

    I'd like to make a point about organizational decision making: organizations tend not be like people. They either have a policy or they don't. If you have an organizational policy against signing players with qualifying offers, then you don't do it. If you don't have such a policy, then you'll go out and do it when there's a player you like. The issue with this second one is that, 10 years down the road, you look back and see you've given up 3-5 late first round/early second round picks. Given Theo and Jed's history, that's at least one impact prospect gone.

    If you have such a policy and break it for "something you really, really need," then for all intents and purposes you don't have such a policy. In two years time, when something else you "really, really need" becomes available, you've already established that you'll break your policy to get him. And, in 10 years time, you're in the bad situation again.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Excellent point here, Mike.

  • Thanks for the article, John. I can't help but feel all kinds of giddy looking at all this upside in this group of young arms which doesn't even include our drafted young hopefuls. I have high hopes that at least some of these kids are going to emerge and that we'll then have that "great problem to have" with pitching like we see with all the bats on the horizon. I don't know if any of these will be that TOR ace we're going to need, but it really doesn't matter at this point if we can deal from a position of strength in the near future.

  • Great article John, I am actually pretty excited for this year, I feel we finally have a farm system that is talented at most every level (still a little light on pitching). And even better, we should start to see glimpses of these guys at the big league level.
    For instance, I would be more than happy watching the big three through spring training, Castro, Rizzo, Olt (hopefully) in the 1st half. And if we are lucky either Baez, Bryant, or Alcantara call up in the 2nd half! Seeing forward momentum with these individual parts is more exciting to me than wins and losses this year.
    The only thing I could think to add to this article would have been a "Texas Forever" title, and a picture of Timmy Riggins drinking a beer (Friday Night Lights reference yo).

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    Luis Valbuena didn't do anything to lose the job. Well if he was hitting 280 would he still have a challenger?

    #1 & #5 play 3rd base. Seems a bit crowded. And another prospect is a SINGLE A pitcher.

    if this is the best, we are in trouble.

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