In truth, following 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes became an Obsessive Watch weeks ago.

  • Although Cespedes is free to negotiate with teams at this point, as has been discussed, he’s still waiting on clearance to come Stateside and work. It is expected soon, and it, alone, is not expected to hold things up. To that end, Cespedes’ agent Adam Katz says he is expecting Cespedes to sign in him to join his new team at Spring Training. “We are aware of the [Spring Training] dates,” Katz said. “We expect him to be in camp with one of the clubs.” Even though Cespedes is not expected to make a team out of Spring Training, his team is still going to want that time with him – and he’s going to want that sliver of a chance to make a big league team right away.
  • Jim Bowden adds that Cespedes, himself, will be travelling to the States in about 7 to 10 days for face-to-face meetings with teams. If that’s planned, I’d think offers would be in place by then (if they aren’t already), and the meetings will be about additional “selling” Cespedes on the organization, and about getting a final feel for the player teams are offering to spend so many millions on. Positional players report to Spring Training – for the Cubs, at least – by February 23, so there won’t be much of a window for additional negotiations if Cespedes isn’t going to sign for 7 to 10 days, but is going to sign within 23 days.
  • Bowden says there are about six teams hot and heavy on Cespedes, and five of them are the Cubs, White Sox, Marlins, Tigers, and Orioles. No real surprises there.
  • For those who remain skeptical about Cespedes’ talent or value, Baseball America’s Jim Callis wants to clear up any confusion. Callis calls Cespedes “a center fielder with well above-average power and speed” who ranks as a 70 overall on the 20-80 scouting scale, and adds that Cespedes’ risk of busting at a “medium.” That combination makes Cespedes a top 15 prospect in all of baseball, and as high as number 7 overall. He would easily be the Cubs’ top prospect.
  • Steve

    It just occured to me. This kid has never played in weather remotely close to Chicago April – May. Lake Michigan wind is like a razorblade. That’s a chillin thought….

    • fearbobafett

      Good point but with the exception of the Marlins, all the teams looking at him have similar weather early in the season.

    • JulioZuleta

      could cause problems in future years, but he probably won’t be up until mid May or June. It’s going to be nice, just around the time we are out of contention, Rizzo, Jackson, and maybe Cespedes will come up and reinvigorate us.

      • CubFan Paul

        maybe mcnutt or rusin or a surprise pitcher too once dempster & garza go at the deadline

      • rcleven

        Won’t be much warmer in Des Moines, IA in spring.

        • Katie

          Amen, and Des Moines is windier than Chicago as well.

  • fearbobafett

    Tigers do they really have the cash for another longer term deal that he is looking for?

    Marlins – Hope the reports that he doesn’t want to play there are true and that the marlins don’t blow away everyone else with thier offer.

    Orioles – Unless it is all about the money why do you want to play there?

    White Sox – makes sense, but they may be hurting for money.

    Cubs – still seems like the logical landing spot, but then again Fielder seemed like the logical fit when the off-season started.

    Still am holding out hope that we can get a trifecta of Cubans.

    • JulioZuleta

      Kenny Williams made a comment that their payroll is set. They would probably need to move Floyd if they get Cespedes.

    • @bobbleheadguru

      Biggest threat? The Tigers.

      They have the cash. They took Maggs and Guillen off their roster at the end of 2012. Both Salaries? $23M. Insurance on VMART? $10M. Total savings from all three: $33M.

      Cost of Fielder in 2012? $23M…. They are actually AHEAD by about $10M… of course Verlander and other salaries have gone up, but they really did not break the bank in 2012 for Fielder.

      They are realistically looking at a 500,000 increase in attendance 2011 to 2012, due to their playoff run and of course, Fielder: Net revenue increase with more fans: 500K * $50/fan = $25,000,000… and that is before merchandise sales.

      Also, Mike Illitch, Tigers owner, has basically footed the bill for Fielder outside of their normal budget.

      It seems like if the Tigers like Cepedes, they will get Cepedes. Only scouting “red flags” will prevent them from pulling the trigger…. or if Cepedes flat out does not want to come north… which would put the Cubs in the same boat as the Tigers.

  • ferrets_bueller

    *time. 😛

  • North Side Irish

    I’m finding the whole Cespedes pursuit story to be really interesting. On all the different baseball sites I read (sorry Brett, I do read other blogs), it seems like scouts love his tools, GMs are excited about his potential, and fans do not want their team to sign him. It’s actually sort of funny to me how many fans are sure he’s going to be a bust based on 35 ABs in the winter league. And he may be a bust, but I’d rather see my team trying to improve the talent in their system than being scared to take a chance on someone with his tools.

    • Kyle

      I was pretty down on him when it first started coming out. In recent weeks, some of the analysis I’ve read has turned me. Cuban players have a pretty good history of coming to the United States and doing well, including some immediate jumps to the big leagues. The statistical projections look pretty good.

      He’s not going to be a superstar, but I expect a solidly above-average overall outfielder.

      • Brett

        For me, it’s all about his defense in center field. Some teams think he can’t hack it, which makes me nervous – his plus defense in center field is a big reason I was very exciting for him in the first place (gives the Cubs a very, very exciting, very, very good defensive possible future outfield). I’m not saying he has to stick in CF long-term – just that the idea that he could makes me excited.

        • SirCub

          The dude can catch a pop fly behind the back. How could his defense get any more plus than that?

        • Luke

          Even if he isn’t quite plus in center, he’ll be pretty darn good in left. Cespedes, Szczur, and Jackson would be a very impressive defensive outfield.

        • OlderStyle

          To me, he does not have the build to be long-term in CF. If he’s got the power, a move to a corner OF spot seems more logical if he sticks in majors. If it’s with Cubs, BJackson could facilitate that.

          I can’t remember, does he have real good arm too?

        • DocWimsey

          But doesn’t a CFer really have to provide some solid OPS to be worth the (probable) investment that Cespedes is going to get? Great fielding CFers are dime-a-dozen: but ones that can hit well enough to even make it to upper miLB is much, much rarer than that.

          • Brett

            I’m assuming the hitting part. That makes me smile. The CF part added to the hitting part? That makes me excited.

          • Kyle

            Sure. But everyone’s pretty equally convinced that his power and batting eye are legit, so he’s not likely to be terrible offensively. The question is whether he’s going to hit .240/310/420 (pretty useful for a plus defensive CFer) or 270/340/450 (awesome for a plus defensive CFer).

            • DocWimsey

              Do you really see an isoD of 0.07 for this guy? (That is a genuine question, not an incredulous or rhetorical one.)

              Moreover, shouldn’t his projected isoD have an effect on his BA & SLG? After all, one of the things that improves BABiP is taking pitches outside of your “sweet” zone(s) and restricting the swing to particular zones. isoD (& sometimes Ks) increase, but BABiP & SLG usually do, too: more liners and fewer popups and weak grounders.

              • Kyle

                I think .060 ISOD is more likely, but .070 is in the range of possiblities. Here’s an article with some ZIPS projections.


                We’ve been over this agaain and again about BABIP :) You’ve still got it pretty backwards. You’ve got it in your head that good hitters tend to hit lots of line drives and thus have great BABIPs and bad hitters tend to hit lots of weak popups and such and have bad BABIPs.

                BABIP does not really track like that. High BABIP is correlated with the following:

                1) Speed
                2) Ground ball hitters (ground balls produce more hits, fly balls produce more extra base hits)
                3) Luck

                That’s about it. Being a great, selective hitter doesn’t mean you have a great BABIP. In fact, it’s frequently the opposite.

                • DocWimsey

                  Frack! Now I need to find a way to make time to actually see if these correlates hold true. Challenge accepted! (But I don’t know when I can get to it….)

                  That being said, you must view guys like Juan Pierre and Cesar Izturis (good speed, low-K’s, bad BABiP) as exceptions to the general rule.

                  • Kyle

                    Why would they be the exceptions?

                    Juan Pierre: .313 BABIP
                    Cesar Izturis: .280 BABIP (not that fast, a bit of a fly ball hitter)

                    Compare that to some of the patron saints of “wait for your pitch and crush it”:

                    Barry Bonds: .285 BABIP
                    Mark McGwire: .255 BABIP

                    Waiting for a good pitch to hit improves your power and your OBP, but it doesn’t do anything for your BABIP.

                    • DocWimsey

                      We are talking about something extremely different here somehow. Here is the 2011 Top 10 for BABiP. Here, BABiP is simply H/(AB-K): that is, BA subtracting the ABs that ended with K’s (no contact). The ball has to be put into play somewhere. (SF and SH are left out, which would reduce all of these a little; however, the numbers are small enough that they do not affect the point very much.)

                      BABiP Player
                      0.440 Matt Kemp
                      0.417 Adrian Gonzalez
                      0.411 Alex Avila
                      0.408 Miguel Cabrera
                      0.399 Michael Morse
                      0.398 Ryan Braun
                      0.394 Hunter Pence
                      0.394 Joey Votto
                      0.392 Alex Gordon
                      0.386 Mike Stanton (tie)
                      0.386 Jose Bautista (tie)

                      Now, if you look on this list, there are a lot of guys who take a lot of walks, K a lot and slug a lot. There are guys with speed (Kemp, Braun), but also some real slow pokes (Avila, AGonz).

                      For the top 120 MLB batters, there is a significant correlation between isoD and BABiP (r2=0.10). However, it turns otu that the correlation is much, much stronger between BABiP and isolate Power (slugging – BA; r2=0.29). The correlation between isoD and isoP is nearly as good as that between BABiP (r2=0.20).

                      There is a positive correlation between K and BABiP, but that is tricky to evaluate because K is effectively part of the denominator in BABiP.

                    • DocWimsey

                      Incidentally, we HAVE to be talking about different things. Barry Bonds career BA was 0.298 (2935 for 9847). Unless you have more SF and SH than K, then your BABiP > BA: you are subtracting from the denominator, not adding to it! Bonds had 91 SF and 4 SH in his career to 1539 K’s, so even if we penalize Barry, we still get 2935 / (9847+91+4-1538) = 0.349.

                    • Norm

                      Subtract Barry Bonds 700+ homers…HR’s are not considered “in play” for BABIP calc’s.

                    • DocWimsey

                      Kyle just pointed that out. So, what I really have been describing is BAGC: BA given contact. And this makes sense: BABiP was originally an issue for *pitchers* in order to calculate Fielding Independent Performance.

                      So, change everything I said to “successful contact,” and I think that we should all be on board.

                      *knock on wood*

                    • Brett

                      So, general question: why is it that BABIP excludes home runs? I mean, from a theoretical standpoint, what’s the rationale for excluding it? What does BABIP do *better* than BAGC?

                    • ferrets_bueller

                      I think it comes wanting to remove any hits that are independent of defense and baserunning, and just determine  whether a guy has been lucky on the balls he’s put in play.  You cant really get ‘lucky’ on the placement of a homer, to an extent, as much as you can on other types of contact.

          • rcleven
      • rcleven

        If he turns out as projected I’m in. Last chance to bolster a minor league system without penalty. Scouts were pretty right on with Alexei Ramirez, though it took until his third season to adjust to the league.

  • Cubsin

    Signing Cespedes might also slightly improve the Cubs’ chances of signing Soler, since he’d be relatively sure of having at least one Cuban teammate if/when he reaches the big leagues. The Cubs have already signed a Cuban OF to play along side him in the minors.

  • Quintz

    I feel like it’s apples and oranges. I understand the dude defected, so his late arrival is not his fault. But, to rank a “26” year old who has been playing competition below his talent level (I think they say it’s like A+ ball) to the 18-23 year olds here seems almost impossible. Not judging him either way, maybe he’s way better than Callis’s speculation. Just not really buying the comparison between him and prospects who go the conventional route.

    • Quintz

      ….Don’t get me wrong I’d be the happiest moron in the world if we signed him.

  • Edgar

    He kinda reminds me of a bigger Corey Patterson. I would be happy if he signs but I think he will reach the potential scouts are talking about.

  • Daniel Guerra

    I’d be shocked if the Cubs end up bidding high for cesPEDes. One, the Cubs are in rebuilding mode and Cespedes is a fix me up with a MLB center fielder next year. Two, the Cubs don’t have the cash to spend. Three, the Cubs don’t want to spend that kind of cash right now. Four, we still have Byrd and he’s apparently the 9th best center fielder in the game (Ha, he’s not in the top 10 of center fielders in my opinion).

    Ok, so you say the Cubs have “Shown interest” in Cespedes. The scouts are just doing there jobs. Do you rather have the scouts talk to some baseball player in Europe who has no chance of making it into the Big game?

    • Brian

      Who says the Cubs don’t have the money to spend? And, Cespedes, himself said that the Cubs have shown the most interest in him from the beginning.

      • Daniel Guerra

        Brett wrote an excellent article on the Cubs money situation.

        Ok, so you say the Cubs have “Shown interest” in Cespedes. The scouts are just doing there jobs. Do you rather have the scouts talk to some baseball player in Europe who has no chance of making it into the Big game?

        • Brian

          Has anybody on this board heard first hand that the budget is X and not to exceed Y? The new CBA deal also changes how money will be allocated.

    • Matt

      When you can bring in players with the upside of Cespedes with only money involved, it isn’t that hard to jump all in. Right now the money we have saved towards free agent spending has went towards trying to sign 3 Cubans. This offseason has kept us around the 120 million mark. We will spend money to get Cespedes and Soler.

      • loyal100more

        i like the way you think matt. its like were at the casino and we have money to play with… the only way to come up is to get your game on and go with the best odds. i think with the new cba and the fact that this guy has alot of potential you go all in. we certainly went all in on fukudome. you gotta have some guts but going with the odds here there is a chance of a significant turn out…. cha ching jackpot? we’ll never know unless we go to the casino and bring our $$$!!

      • Daniel Guerra
    • Jim

      It’s more than the scouts just doing their job. Theo and Jed went down to the DR to see this kid, the Cubs are a little more than just showing interest.

      • Daniel Guerra

        Please provide your sources. I haven’t read anything that mentions that Theo and Jed personally went to DR only to just talk to Cespedes. I can see them going down there to see how the Cubs system was operating and to meet certain people in the organization.

        • CubFan Paul

          try espn or here. Theo, Jed & the clan mcCloud all went to the DR to see cespedes workout & meet him

  • Smitty

    It has been mentioned that some of the teams pursuing him are set/lacking flexibility to their payroll. My question is, if he starts out in the minors, does his contract go on the major league payroll as it concerns to the luxury tax, etc. I realize that the Cubs pay all the contracts for even the kids in Boise, I’m just wondering how it does effect the major league contract.

  • Kyle

    “We are talking about something extremely different here somehow.”

    You appear to be counting home runs in BABIP. I don’t know of anybody who calculates it that way. Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs both calculate it by what I know as the traditional way: Excluding home runs as well.

    But yeah, including home runs makes everything you’ve said about BABIP in the past make a *lot* more sense. I’m glad we figured that out :)

    • DocWimsey

      We seem to spend a lot of time disagreeing about the fact that we actually agree…..

      Oh, and I typed the prior post before reading that one. Yeah, excluding HR explains the difference, and I see why you do it for FIP. It never occurred to me to do that for HR becuase, well, they are in play! Just make your OFers jump higher, right? 😉

      Do this, and speedsters jump to the top. Bonifacio, Bourne and Young are at the top. However, AGonz and Avila round out the top 5, too.

  • jim

    SIGN him!

  • Kyle

    “So, general question: why is it that BABIP excludes home runs? I mean, from a theoretical standpoint, what’s the rationale for excluding it? What does BABIP do *better* than BAGC?”

    BABIP is the part of hitting that is least influenced by the hitter himself. There’s a lot of defense and luck involved in it.

    So when a hitter is doing everything else (walking, K-ing, homering) at about the same pace he always has, but has a singificantly different BABIP, it’s a safe bet that he’s experience some unsustainable variance and will be back to his normal self in the immediate future.

    Hitters have a little more control over BABIP than pitchers do, but there’s still a ton of variance involved.

    • Brett

      So the theory, then, with respect to homers, is that a player DOES have control over his ability to hit homers from year to year?

      • DocWimsey

        I’m not sure that “control” is the right word: I would go with “trait.” The 2011 league leaders in HR overlapped heavily with the 2010 league leaders in HR and it will overlap heavily with the 2012 league leaders in HR. Sure, once in a while you get a Brady Anderson, and every year or two some slugger just has a horrible year. However, barring injury, we can bet that the usual suspects will be vying for the HR crowns next year.

      • Kyle

        Yes. Well, I wouldn’t look at it binary as “control” or “no control.” A hitter has significantly more control over home runs than he does over balls in play falling for hits. They are cliches for a reason: a lot of line drives are at ’em balls and a lot of bloops look like frozen ropes in the box score.

        For home runs, there’s essentially two components:

        1) The percentage of fly balls a player hits
        2) The percentage of those fly balls that become home runs

        Fly ball percentage is actually a pretty consistent skill. Unless something about the hitter’s ability changes (injury, old age, something), it tends to hold up pretty well year to year.

        But the percentage of fly balls that are home runs (FB/HR%) is attributable to both skill *and* variance. The more power a guy has, the higher the percentage of his fly balls that go over the fence. But also, a guy can have a year where he hits a lot of 335 footers that just happen to go down the line, or a lot of crushed balls into the wrong part of the park.

        It’s a very inexact science, but if you combine it with scouting, you can get a good idea of whether a change in HR/FB% is likely to persist in the future or not.

        Take Joe Mauer. From 2005 to 2008, his first four full years in the big leagues, his HR/FB% ranged from 6.5% to 10.8%. In 2009, it jumped to 20.4% After 29 homers in three seasons, he hit 28 in just one.

        So if you are scouting Joe Mauer after 2008, you have to ask yourself, did he bulk up or change his swing to improve his power, or was it a fluke? Turns out it was a fluke. The last two years he was back to 6.7% and 5.2%, respectively.

        Another fluke was Tyler Colvin’s 2010. He had 19.4% of his FBs go for home runs. Tyler Colvin’s got some pop, but 20% HR/FB is something only elite power hitters can sustain. That placed him 11th in the league, amongst the likes of Paul Konerko (19.8%) and Miguel Cabrera (19.9%). It wasn’t hard to predict that he wouldn’t be able to keep it up.

        • MichiganGoat

          This as been an extremely intelligent series of responses and I truly feel educated. Nicely done guys.

          • BetterNews

            What do you mean by “extremely”? HaHa or RahRah?(LoL)

            • Brett

              He means the opposite of comments like that.

              • MichiganGoat

                **sigh** yeah that’s exactly my point!

    • DocWimsey

      Right, and given that BABiP initially came into discussion when talking about Fielding Independent Pitching, the makes perfect sense because it is trying to assess what happens when a hit ball might be fielded.

      And, as Kyle mentions, BABiP also can be useful for batters because if a guy has an unusually high or low one in 2011, then chances are good that his overall BA will regress to “average” in 2012 even if his K rate and HR rate remain the same.

      However, BAGC might be more useful for projecting slash-lines because HR contribute to all three elements and the guys who hit a lot of HR in 2011 are good bets to hit lots of HR in 2012. I’m sure that someone has worked out how to do this already.

    • Norm

      Home runs aren’t included because the defense doesn’t have a chance to field it.

      BABIP is another way of asking “What % of the time does a ball in play fall for a hit?”

  • Jeff L

    The question I have to ask everyone here: Is Cespedes another Kosuke Fukudome? I know one is from Cuban and one is from Japan. Their makeup is different, but you may not remember-
    Fukudome was a power hitter in Japan with similar numbers to Cespedes. His last full year in Japan was a 351 average 31 homers and 104 RBIs.
    Cespedes last year 333 average 33 Homers and 99 RBIs.
    Fukudome signed with the Cubs for four year 48 Mil…. About 12 Mil a year

    Cespedes is asking for around the same amount of money… maybe a little more maybe a little less. Is the Cuban league tougher or easier than Japans league? I generally think it’s safer to go after a known mlb commodity than a talent from overseas.

    • Kyle

      I’m still not entirely clear on why Cubs fans are convinced Fukudome was a bust.

      He was a perfectly fine player. Maybe paid a bit too much at $12 million/year and didn’t quite live up to the hype, but still an above-average starting corner outfielder.

      If Cespedes is another Fukudome, we need to jump right on that bandwagon and get ourselves a bargain.

      • BetterNews

        Kyle-He was a perfectly fine defensive player.

        • MichiganGoat

          No Barney is a fine defensive player, Fuk is a better hitter.

          • BetterNews

            Compared to whom @ 12mil? Barney makes minimum.

          • BetterNews

            I hope I never see another player with a “helicopter” swing! Could have spent his contract money on a couple of actual helicopters.

      • Luke

        I blame the hype. I think too many people that the Cubs were getting Ichiro with power, and that just wasn’t his game.

        That and he slumped pretty badly in the second half of his first season. I’ve noticed, though, that a lot of players tend to struggle in their season or so playing in Wrigley. It seems to take a couple of months for most players to get acclimated and start producing back at their career averages. I haven’t dug into the numbers enough to know if there is any substance to that observation, and if there is if it is league wide or just with the Cubs.

      • Jeff L

        lol Fukudome not really great numbers for a corner outfielder 263 13 homers and 64 rbis… His best year in the majors…. his last year a total of 8 homers and 260 average and 35 ribs… and making 12 mil a year…. best homer year is 13 homers after hitting 33 homers in Japan….. Makes you think what does the future hold for Cespedes who had extremely similar numbers in his last season in Cuba

        • Kyle

          You ignored OBP, which is kind of important and something Fukudome excelled at.

  • Elwood

    Fukudome was an All-Star caliber player… from April to June. He was a borderline bench player from July to September. Add solid defense and good arm and you have a Cody Ross-type player. Good enough to be in the majors, but not good enough to start.

    If Cespedes is ANYTHING like Fukudome, I would want the Cubs to pass on him. But, I think (KNOW) the Cubs braintrust is better than the one that scouted Fukudome. If we get him, great!