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Well, I’m finishing up my prep and heading to my colonoscopy this morning. I will have limited ability to post for the rest of the morning, so, to the extent any big news or rumors break, please let folks know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to write anything up once I’m back to lucidity.

  • Baseball Prospectus came out with its first PECOTA projections of the offseason (basically they use super-advanced math to project stats for each player on a team’s roster, and then project how the team will perform in the upcoming season – it’s all premium content stuff, so if you the juicy bits, you’ll have to get a BP subscription). Overall, the projection has the Cubs with a .460 winning percentage, which is about 74.5 wins. That sounds about right, and might even be … encouraging.
  • For the individual players, most of the numbers look about as you’d suspect. PECOTA sees a big bounce-back for Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto, but sees a pretty significant regression in store for Matt Garza. Indeed, PECOTA doesn’t really like many of the Cubs’ pitchers, projecting bad years for Travis Wood and Randy Wells, and awful years for Chris Volstad and Jeff Samardzija. Oddly, at this point, I see the Cubs’ pitching staff as a strength.
  • Keith Law ranked MLB’s farm systems (another premium article, so, once again, you want all the good stuff, you gotta pay) and the Cubs came in at number 20. Obviously that seems a tad low, but Law explains: “An unfairly maligned system, in my opinion – not a great system, but not a disastrous one. And I say that as someone who’s relatively bearish on some of the Cubs’ more famous prospects.” The theme this year for the minor league system remains: with so much high upside talent at the low levels, the Cubs’ system could really break out. Or, it could continue to hover around “aspirational.”
  • Law isn’t alone, by the way – John Sickels, who likes the Cubs’ system for what it is, also ranked it 20th in baseball.
  • New Cub Adrian Cardenas, in addition to playing ball, is also a writer, studying his craft at NYU. He sounds like a smart, very hard working dude. The Cubs are making a habit of adding guys who are very easy to root for. (h/t CSN)
  • Fluff on new Cubs manager Dale Sveum. In short, Sveum works very hard, and he expects his players to do the same.
  • Fishin Phil

    Well, if they win 74 or 75 games, that would be slightly better than last year. I’m projecting more like 78 or 79 wins. My projections are based upon my Magic 8-ball.

    • MontelleW_IA

      I only got slightly better news than that when I asked the leprechaun that I found at the end of the rainbow, guarding his pot of gold! lol

  • steve

    Brett, after the insensitive cheesburger comment yesterday, let me say I hope your proceedure is non eventful.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish my hash browns, bacon, and gravy biscuits.

    • Hrubes20

      With a side of sausage and more bacon. Bacon, the candy of meats.

  • Oliver dehart

    I would be very happy with 74 wins this season.
    I personally don’t see that happening without a few
    Surprises. Defensively they should be a little better depending on
    Who starts in. Left field…pitching, I can’t believe it’s possible
    To be worse among the starters…Hitting , when we are all
    Struggling to guess who will be the cleanup hitter, that
    Scares me a bit.
    Anyway I am a fan of 60 years..
    GO CUDDIES!!!!

  • pfk

    Good luck today. The survival rate is 76.3% so 3 out of 4 make it. (LOL). We will be throwing spitballs at each other while you, the teacher, are out of the room. On another note, it would be interesting to see where the Cubs farm system would rank if you put back in the minor leaguers given up for in the trade for Garza.

    • CubFan Paul

      “it would be interesting to see where the Cubs farm system would rank if you put back in the minor leaguers given up for in the trade for Garza”

      how about after we trade garza! he’s so gone by august. Garza’s value is easily at least 2 prospects (hopefully pitchers) that would rank in our consensus top 10 now

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        It would probably be about the same as now since by then, Jackson and Rizzo will likely be in the majors.

        • hogie

          They might still have rookie status by then though. That would make them still prospects by ranking standards.

  • pfk

    I guess we have to do the posts while you are away. OK, here’s some news that just came in off the wire…the Cubs traded Darwin Barney to the Yanks for A-Rod.

    • Brady

      Ug, unless the yanks were eating most of that paycheck I dont like the trade.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        what he forgot to mention is the “peripheral” guys in that deal

        Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees
        Derek Jeter to the Red Sox to settle compensation issue
        Robinson Cano to the Cubs with $10M
        Mariano Rivera to the Padres for compensation issue
        1 bottle of Eau de’ Yankees to Theo Epstein, just cause

        Oh and it was found out after the trade that ARod’s contract had a clause hidden in it that stated if he were to be traded then he is immediately considered retired from baseball.

  • Kyle

    I’ve got them at 77, and the 2.5 win difference between me and PECOTA is probably entirely in that I like Wood and Volstad a lot more than it does.

    • CubFan Paul

      and Ian Stewart?

      • The Other Matt

        and Bryan LaHair?

  • Cheryl

    I waved my magic wand amd got 79. Waved it again and found several rainouts at strategic times The leprechuan said two more trades coming and the signing of one more cuban player are in the works.

    • CubFan Paul

      that’s easy. Dempster & Garza are traded by deadline for sure and Cespedes knows the Cubs will match any marlin offer within reason

      • Dougy D

        It sounds like the Cubs would have to beat any Marlins offer to get Cespedes, according to yesterday’s article. I think that they will do it if they really want him. I would love for an AL team to have a DH problem while in the playoff race and take Soriano off of our hands. (Of course I would love it even more if it happened before the season started.)

  • The Dude Abides

    Law’s rankings that show the Cubs at 20th in farm systems ranks Theo’s old team the Red Sox 18th mentioning lack of talent in upper levels. Padres were number one even with Rizzo gone. What to make of it I’m not sure but Theo didn’t leave a stocked system for all of his accolades of being an expert in the amateur draft and taking advantage of the system. Obviously Gonzo cost them a few prospects we can only hope he gets it right this time.

    • K Rock

      Where is the Padres GM now? With us……….Who’d he learn everything from? Theo…….That’s one way of looking at it

      • KCubsfan

        You forgot about Jason Mcleod and I am sure the brought 1 or 2 scouts with them. Mcleod was by far the most under the radar pick up that will have the biggest impact.

        • Mick

          +1

          I gurantee within 5 years Jason McLeod will be a GM. This is a pretty historic FO, I just hope they all stick around long enough to produce a WS.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      Well, the Sox did just graduate their best prospect last year, the Gonzo trade stripped them bare and there were a couple of trades this offseason that depleted them as well. If I remember correctly, the Sox were a top 7-8 farm system before last season.

      • tjtrigo

        And, picked to win the World Series for that year by many with the addition of AGon and Crawford.

  • Dave H

    I have them at the 75 mark also. I think we’ll hold that goal unless they send Garza. Tough to see the future it is,,,,,

  • Caleb Duncan

    66 wins. No more, No Less. Gonna be a tough season to watch.

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    I’ve always been drawn to players with brains, who have a life off the field. Over the years they’ve included Glanville, Girardi, Fuld, and last year Fernando Perez.

    Cardenas sounds like a guy who won’t have to work on his cliches.

    • Dante Hicks

      “Clark Addison” is right about the Cubs loving the intellectuals. I was thinking same thing. I’m just hoping that Cardenas is more Doug Glanville (or Joe Girardi) than Fernando Perez. Even Sam Fuld would be a big bump up.

      Well said Sir.

      And Go Cats in honor of Joe and his lovely wife.

  • Elwood

    Ok, I heard on MLB/XM radio yesterday that Cespedes is being compared to Sammy Sosa in terms of tools. Ok, are they talking about a juiced up Sosa, or the 20-25 HR Sosa that was a sucker for the outside slider/curve in the dirt. If it’s the latter, I’ll pass.

    Also, “swagger”-in my opinion-shows to me that Cespedes thinks he’s a star. While I hope that is just confidence, I can’t help but think it is more cockiness and hype. If he signs with the Cubs, I hope I’m wrong.

  • Chaz

    This season will not be hard to watch IMO.
    When we expect our team to fight for a playoff spot and only get 75-80 wins, then it’s hard to watch. When we expect our team to win 70 games and they win 72, we will be happy because we weren’t expecting much. We have young guys wanting to play, no pressure to get to the playoffs so I feel it’ll be a fun year to watch.

    • pfk

      I totally agree with you. I’m really looking forward to watching this team develop. In fact, I think the fans will take this group to heart and love em.

    • Dave

      For me bad baseball is hard to watch regardless of your expectations.
      I would be more inclined to say that there will be little disappointment based on our expectations.
      If Jackson and Rizzo both come up it will make it a bit more palatable to watch.

    • ottoCub

      I also agree. I’m really looking forward to watching the 2012 Cubs play. I can’t wait to see better baseball than we’ve seen in the last three years: better fundamentals, fewer errors, fewer missed cutoff men, fewer base-running mistakes, more aggressive first-to-third style base running, pitchers who pitch to contact and let the defenders play, hitters taking pitches and working counts in their favor, and better hustle and drive.

      Will this translate into more wins? We’ll find out. But, as long as the baseball is better than we’ve had to watch in recent years, I can’t wait!

      • Deer

        Why do you think any of those things will happen when most of the everyday personnel are the same? Let’s not believe Sveum is the 1st manager to preach fundamentals and aggresiveness. Every manager does it.

        • ottoCub

          Most of the everyday personnel are not the same. The Cubs have turned over half the pitching staff (both starters and relievers), there will be new players at first, third, and right field, and there will be a completely new batting order that will no longer be centered on middle-of-the-order power. And you’re right, there is also a new, hungry, fundamentals-based manager. And there’s a new pitching coach and mostly new coaching staff. This team is going to have a very different on-field presence than we’ve become used to watching.

          • Deer

            I hope you’re right Otto, but I would have liked to see more turnover in the field to guarantee better defense. Also, Ian Stewart is no gold glover. Even Lou preached fundamentals and defense, but it’s up to the guys playing in the field. Good news is the defense can’t possibly be worse than it has been the last 2 years! Anyway, should be interesting to watch, at least early on.

        • Brian

          And maybe the Cubs finally have a FO and field manager in place that will do what is necessary, sit your A down, when you decide to daydream during the game or stand and watch a sure home run turn into barely squeaking out a single!

        • DocWimsey

          Really, it makes a good sound bite and nothing more. Here is a useful exercise: take the total bases + walks that each offense gains; subtract from that the total bases + walks that each defense (mostly pitching, some fielding) allows; plot that against winning pct. You don’t need to know stats to see just how strong the correlation is! If you want “fundamentals,” then those are it right there. Only 5 teams (Ms, Pirates, Orioles, Astros and Twins) did worse than the Cubs (-203!) there.

          (The playoff teams were ranked 2-8, with the DBacks coming in 10th. The Sox and Braves rounded out the top 10; in other words, the Top 10 was all 10 teams that still cared about baseball on the last day of the season!)

          • ottoCub

            True, there are a variety of stats that link up with a high winning percentage. And I hope the Cubs improve in all those statistical categories. But, I’m thinking about WATCHING the team play. And, for me, what makes a team difficult to watch is poor execution in the fundamentals I’ve listed. And, in the last 3 years, the Cubs have been atrocious at these parts of the game. I’ve turned off many Cubs games, completely frustrated by the simple errors in judgement that cost the Cubs a run here, a run there.

      • DocWimsey

        There is an inherent contradiction here! You ask to see “better baseball” and then question whether it will lead to more wins. Better baseball = more wins, plain and simple, and if these “fundamentals” do not contribute to winning, then this won’t be better baseball.

        So, the Cubs ranked 24th in winning pct. last year. They ranked 20th in net HR (the #1 correlate of winning), 29th in net walks (the #2 correlate of winning) and 15th in [doubles+triples] ( #3 correlate of winning). Now, they did rank only 16th or so in estimated runs prevented by fielders; however, this was correlated pretty poorly with winning (the Cards ranked in the bottom 5!), and 2 or 3 playoff teams (depending on the estimate) did worse than the Cubs.

        In short? I want to see more HR hit & fewer allowed, more walks drawn & fewer allowed, and more double hit & fewer allowed. Do that, and you can do the little things as badly as the Phils or Cards do, and do them in October, too!

        • ottoCub

          You’re right, better baseball should lead to more wins. But in terms of watching baseball. it is more difficult to watch bad baseball (errors, errors in judgment, players who do not advance runners, missed cutoff men, bad base running decisions, aggressive swings against pitchers who are struggling to find the strike zone, missed sacrifice opportunities, failure to put the ball in play to advance a runner, etc. etc) If the Cubs can do less of these things, they should win more close games. But even if they don’t, I will have a more enjoyable time watching them play!

          • DocWimsey

            I can sort of understand that at an emotional level. However, a lot of it is scrounging for pennies under a sofa when your bill is in thousands of dollars. (Admit it: we’ve all done it!) Indeed, some of it is counter-productive: I am very much of the school that making outs to advance runners is BAD baseball, tactically! (The Sox almost never do this, and I’ll be surprised if Theo does not work to remove it from the Cubs playbook.)

            Remember, winning teams rarely are particularly good at winning close games; they are good at making games not close! (Bad teams are good at that, too, but let’s not go there…..)

        • Deer

          Agreed, but there’s no way the Cubs hit more HRs than they did last year.

          • DocWimsey

            Half of net HR is down to pitching. If the Cubs hit 30 fewer HR but give up 40 fewer, then they will improve net HR by 10. If they had done that this year, then they would have been up to -4: i.e., basically 0.500 ball before the walks.

            The walks are the worst part: the Cubs gave up 155 more than they drew. Only the Astros were worse: and, these days Astros = worse than worst! (They basically broke even on [doubles + triples].)

            • ottoCub

              I agree with this completely! The Cubs have to give up fewer walks! The pitching staff, and the defense, will improve dramatically if they can improve their ability to pitch to contact. Pitchers will throw fewer pitches, going deeper into games and avoiding stressful deep-count at-bats. The defense will also improve, because players won’t be back on their heels. And, for those stat-hounds out there, if more balls are put in play, all the fielders will have more chances, which (assuming the same amount of errors) will increase their overall fielding percentage.

              • DocWimsey

                Steve Stone used to say that when he was broadcasting for the Cubs: pitchers should not complain about fielders losing concentration when the pitcher was not throwing strikes. (Or being Steve Trachsel!) That certainly makes sense to me!

                As for your suggestion that the number of plays increases fielding percentage, that is an interesting one, and one that could be put to the test. I can imagine some counter-arguments: for example, many fielders make most of their errors at the “end” of their range, so getting to more balls would increase their errors. Still, it would be worth investigating.

                • Dougy D

                  Is that Castro’s problem; he’s at the end of his range? ;)

  • Cliffy

    Matt Spiegel & Barry Rosner’s radio show on 670 WSCR returns on Feb 26th per tweet from Spiegel.

    QT @MattSpiegel670: Starts Sunday Feb 26th, w/ @BarryRozner. Gonna be a great year. Of shows if not baseball. RT @Cliff Lippert Any timeline yet for Hit & Run?

  • Dave H

    I just want to see us fighting and competing instead of a bunch lolly-gaggers out there. I think the FO is going to have a lot more work to do but are making great strides. Soler should be the other cuban signed.

    • CubFan Paul

      Cespedes can help now. Soler can’t help for 3-5years. thats 2 AllStar games, at least 70-90HRs and maybe a gold glove for Cespedes before Soler sniffs AA

      we can sign both. the only suitors mentioned that can outbid the cubs is the Yanks (resources/cash)

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Is that sarcasm on Cespedes’ production?

        • CubFan Paul

          over a 5 year stretch? no, no sarcasm

          • hogie

            It is not going to take 5 years for Soler to hit AA unless he busts.

            • CubFan Paul

              3-5years.

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                2 All Star games before Soler is in AA? Under
                70 homers? Under
                Gold glove? Under

  • MightyBear

    Projections are a bunch of bullshit. Why is samardjia projected to have an “awful” year? He may but indications are he started to get it in the second half and he always had good stuff. I think the Cubs farm system is already improved with Epstein and Co (and they were 17 last year) adding a bunch of prospects in the offseason including three Cuban players that didn’t cost them anything (except money). How do they end up 20? Its fun to make predictions and argue about that stuff but it doesn’t mean jack. Only thing that matters is what happens on the diamonds this year.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      well, unfortunately, the Cubs system had an off-year last year and many of our prospects just didn’t take that next step.

      With that said, I do think it is odd that our system is ranked so poorly, but I think that is more a case of the Cubs farm systems not having much impact talent at the top.

    • DocWimsey

      Even for batters, it has been shown that the 2nd half of a season predicts how well a player does the next season only slightly better than flipping a coin. For pitchers, the sample size of playing time is so small as to make it even worse. With relievers, whole seasons cannot predict the next season. This is why last year’s hot closer so often is this year’s punching bag and vice-versa.

      The other issue is that the minor league rankings probably follow a normal distribution: a few really good systems (Pads, Rays), a few really bad ones (ChiSox) and a bunch that are in the middle. Chances are that the difference between #10 and #20 is much less than the difference between #1 and #5 or #25 and #30.

    • Canadian Cubs Fan

      Oh my God! Mightybear, it’s like you tapped into my head, stole my thoughts, and typed them here for the world to see! I absolutely HATE PECOTA and shit like that. All the advanced stats are for people that don’t even bother watching games, and would rather simulate an entire season than actually watch what happens on the field. I swear that some fans trot out BABIP and VORP and other crap just to make themselves look smart.

      Maybe I’m cranky because there’s no real news with just over a week before pitchers and catchers report. I hope Cespedes signs with the Marlins, and totally FLOPS. I’d rather have Soler and Concepcion.

      Okay, I feel better now :)

      • Kyle

        There are those of us who watch the games *and* enjoy advanced statistical analysis. You don’t have to pretend like it’s a one or the other choice.

        In fact, the absolute king of emphasizing that both sides are extremely necessary is currently the Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations.

        • DocWimsey

          Some of my favorite advanced stats are the defensive ones on range. Those are done by *gasp* having people watch each play and charting how frequently guys get to balls! (This is best done without wearing Derek Jeter goggles, however…)

          The other thing is that the “old school” never has agreed on what “good baseball” is, anyway. Gene Mauch was old-school. Earl Weaver was old-school. They played diametrically opposite brands of baseball in many ways. That is why people use statistics for anything: is Plan A or Plan B more effective? (Here’s a hint: Plan Earl wins!)

          • Dougy D

            Good baseball to me is: hit and run, bunt single, stealing home, great defense, hit the ball according to where it is pitched (not try to pull every ball over the fence). I am sure that I could come up with a few more. These are the type of things that make “good baseball” for me. I appreciate a complete, 5 tool player much more than a DH that can hit 60 HR in a year. And by the way, the DH is far from good baseball.

    • Mick

      I like it dude, you speak the truth. Stats just reflect how a player performs on the field. If people want to spend their time prognosticating future production or performance they should focus on something more productive like Wall Street. I can’t wait to SEE how the Cubs’ perform not read about it on FanGraphs.

  • rbreeze

    Right now our roster seems like the Land of Misfit Toys.  Maybe a couple of these guys use this as motivation to have career years.  We won’t know until they play the games.

  • die hard

    If Soriano is platooned with Campana and Baker with LaHair, the righty lefty advantage alone will mean 5-10 more wins and get max production out of all 4, especially Sori….if this is done and Garza given long term deal, Cubs could win 81….if none of this is done, Cubs win 50 is how I see this year

    • Cliffy

      This actually makes a lot of sense. You can bet the Cubs will you the analytics much more this year than past years.

      • DocWimsey

        No analytics would suggest this. Campana’s OBP is barely better than Sori’s and Campana has no power, so playing him over Sori against righties cost the Cubs net runs. A platoon of Baker & LaHair is probably a slightly-better-than-replacement-level platoon, which is a step down for Pena’s production last year.

        • die hard

          so you discount the prior news about the new Arnold Campananaegger pumpin’ iron? hope ur wrong

          • Mick

            Yea, because Campana going from 165 to 175 is going to make him a beast who can’t bend his arms or run fast. This coming from a guy who’s probably never touched a weight in his life.

            • MichiganGoat

              The added weight could actually hinder is one and only plus skill – SPEED. If he was not fast he would not be on any roster in the MLB and I will not be shocked if he loses his spot in spring training, and then the Scrappy Love fans will be all over here asking him to get a chance again.

              • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                He stated that with the added muscle he increased his speed. Maybe a few more of the soft liners to SS will turn into bloop singles.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “soft liners to SS will turn into bloop singles”

                  that’s the key to Campana’s 2012 season/holding on to that 5th OF spot over Dave Sappelt

                  if Campy shows in spring training that he can bloop balls into Left behind the SS he’ll easily bat .270/.360/.350 because of his speed to stretch some of those into doubles

              • Mick

                If Campana had added 40 lbs of muscle that could be deterimental considering his 5’8″ frame but 10 lbs is nothing. If anything, he nows has extra strength to make himself run faster. Plus, most MLBers add muscle in the off-season only to see it melt away throughout the long season. The reason I commented was because diehard has repeatedly stated that Campana’s muscle gain is in some way a negative.

                • die hard

                  Good that Soto and Campana been living at the gym over winter….result of new FO with new expectations….translating to wins like Moneyball would be nice?….replacing production of Pena, Marshall and Ramirez not unlike issues faced by BB in that movie

              • Can’t think of a cool name

                Have you ever looked at the physiques of sprinters, very muscular. Increased muscle could very well make him faster. There’s a huge industry that uses science to get bigger and faster. Think of all the tight ends in the NFL running 4.5 40′s at their size.

  • pfk

    I like Samardjia too – but as a reliever. I think he needs a 3rd pitch in order to be an effective starter. He also think has still has control issues, although he seemed to improve as the year went along. He’s got tools, no doubt. One way or another, he will be a valuable pitcher this season.

  • North Side Irish

    Law clearly isn’t high on Brett Jackson…ranked him #89 in his Top 100 Prospects today…which is 56 spots lower than MLB.com had him.

    Rizzo was #36 and Baez was #95…

  • DocWimsey

    I had not been worrying too much about Jackson’s K-rate simply because guys who walk a lot usually K a lot, too: and guys who walk a lot have such high averages when they put the ball into play that it usually makes up for the K’s.

    However, Law points out that Jackson compares to two guys who have good isoD (Stubbs and Reynolds) and great batting averages when they make contact, but low OBPs because their BAs are really, really bad.

    (I had been lumping Jackson with guys who K 20% of the time, not 30%!)

  • MontelleW_IA

    Wonder if anyone else saw this on BleacherReport?

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1056491-50-players-guaranteed-to-underperform-based-on-their-2012-contracts

    The funny part is that Zambrano made this list. The Sad-For-Us part is that Soriano is on it too :(

    • Matt

      Not really funny when you consider we are paying for both.

      • MontelleW_IA

        Wow! Reality Check! You are correct, Sir! now I’m twice as sad :(

  • Dante Hicks

    Just wanted to wish Brett all the best today with the unpleasant procedure. Your thousands of readers want you safe, happy, and healthy (as does your family I’m sure) first and foremost. I truly admire you and read you daily. Let’s hope all goes well. Your health, IMHO, is far more important than Cespedes or even a championship. As Chicagoan Lou Rawls once sang, “you’ve got one life to live. Live it in peace, live it in truth.” Maybe that is better advice for Crane. That has nothing to do with the Cubs actually. So be well Brett and see you soon online.

  • 2much2say

    The rich got richer this year, so who are the weaker teams? Once you get past the top 4 there is a big drop off. The Marlins Philly SF Cincy? should all be in the mix. I don’t think any team stands out. Cubs 87-75

  • 2much2say

    CUBS 87-75

    • TWC

      this year?

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        he forgot to include the word “Iowa”

  • North Side Irish

    Law also had the Top 10 for each organization…he doesn’t seem to like Szczur as much as most either. But I do like seeing Zach Cates on his list.

    Chicago Cubs
    1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B (36)
    2. Brett Jackson, OF (89)
    3. Javier Baez, SS (95)
    4. Trey McNutt, RHP
    5. Zach Cates, RHP
    6. Welington Castillo, C
    7. Dillon Maples, RHP
    8. Josh Vitters, 3B
    9. Reggie Golden, OF
    10. Matt Szczur, CF

    • Cedlandrum

      Law has a very narrow vision of what he likes. I personally don’t care for him. He seems petty when asked why he grades guys the way he does. Anyway I would listen to Jim Callis or Kevin Goldstein any day over Law.

      • Kyle

        Law is basically the shock jock of the prospect world. He likes to take rather extreme stances and insist they are correct, because he knows he gets attention and page views when he gets people riled up.

        • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

          The best advice is to simply ignore ESPN.

      • Jim

        I don’t like him either. I think I read somewhere that he is a Cardinal fan, which in itself clouds my perception of his analysis.

        • bt

          That’s Dayn Perry.

  • OHBearCub

    I think the Cubs will be better defensively even if Soriano is in left field because there will be new rules of engagement i.e. you better play hard or your rear end will be riding the pine. I think setting the level of expectation up front is going to make a big difference in how the game is approached. IMO and from my coaching experience it makes all the difference in the world. Plus a positive mind set and work ethic changes things significantly. Lack of ability can be overcome to an extent with drastic improvements in these area’s. I don’t know how many 1 run games the cubs lost last year or games they lost when ahead after the 6th inning. I see where improvement in this area with better fundamentals of the game and the willingness to play some small ball should increase the wins in this area by at least 25 to 30%.
    Just an educated guess but that would add a large number of wins to the Cubs end of season record. I don’t think it will get us in the playoffs. It could improve our chances of being 3rd or higher in the NL Central. I believe the Reds are probably the best team in the Division with Ryan Braun out 50 games and I really don’t know what to expect from the Cardinals. The Reds downfall is Dusty Baker as manager IMO. He can lose a lot of games for the Reds all buy himself. The Cubs really need to be good at knowing when to yank their starting pitchers and properly use the bull pen. That IMO will be a big difference in the outcome of many games this year. I personally would have anyone after Garza on a short leash until they earn some leeway as the season progresses. The reason we have depth a starter even if it is average is so we can have the starters on a short leash. After Garza if anybody get’s 3 trips through an opposing lineup it’s time to pull the plug and get some else in the game who provides a different look/approach i.e. righty to lefty and strengths vs. strenghts of opposing lineup. We have more pitching depth than last year and it should be a little better with regard to longer innings relief guys. I would love to see someone step up and move into the closer role and solidify the set up roles very early in the season. The quicker Sveum gets that ironed out the better. Quade was clueless in this area. He was clueless when it came to managing the utilization of his pitching staff anyway. Sveum will have to intentionally be bad to be worse than Quade.

  • pfk

    Brett asked us to oct breaking news…so here is some news fresh off the wire…The Cubs just traded Jeff Baker to the Yankees for Derrick Jeter – straight up!

    • http://aeonimaging.com Cubbie Blues

      That was Selig’s decision for the compensation to the Red Sox.

      • DocWimsey

        That’s a lousy deal for the Sox: they just lost 10 singles up the middle and 8 more to left field…..

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    I’d bet Law is right just as often as the other guys…I find it ridiculous that people think any of these rankers are doing anything other than ranking them in the order they truly believe they should be in.
    Is it REALLY a shocker that someone thinks Brett Jackson is going to struggle enough with batting average that he’s ONLY the 89th best minor leaguer?

    • Kyle

      I’m not that upset about the Brett Jackson rating. I have grave doubts about him myself.

      The insistence that Szczur comps to Juan Pierre-like power is where Law lost me forever. Even when he was shown how wrong he was, he kept insisting he was right. He didn’t have the character to say “I was riffing off the cuff, and I didn’t realize how much power Szczur had really shown.”

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Law said on Szczur, when asked about the Pierre comp:
        “He has one of the shortest, slappiest swings I’ve seen on a “prospect” – no leverage, no rotation, just flicks the bat at the ball and meets it out front. Until that changes, I don’t see him hitting for any meaningful power in pro ball, and it’s not like he’s got great plate discipline.”
        -
        He does NOT insist he’s right, he’s just saying what he saw. I don’t know why anyone would think he’s not being truthful…hitting 10 home runs in Single A as a college player is not a sign of things to come in the majors.
        If you’re equating “power” with “strength”, I can see where you’re going, but Law isn’t talking about strength, he’s talking about how many balls are going to leave the park. And his explanation of the swing makes plenty of sense to me.
        If Szczur makes it to the big leagues and hits for power like so many thing he will, Law will have no problem saying how wrong he was, just like he’s had no problem naming Vitters as the prospect he’s been most wrong about.

        • Kyle

          10 home runs in A ball *is* meaningful power.

          Juan Pierre, the comparison he ends up making, didn’t reach 10 total home runs for his career until his 9th pro season.

          It’s a terrible comparison, he was wrong, and a swing that produces 10 home runs is the slappiest he’s ever seen, then he hasn’t seen very much minor league baseball.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            Just thinking of guys with no power, I see that Augie Ojeda hit 10 in AA in one season and then 8 more in AAA the following season. He’s never hit more than 2 in a big league season.
            I don’t agree that just because Szczur hit 10 in Single A, it’s usable (and I know a couple of those were of the inside the park variety). He won’t be able to have the same approach against major leaguers as he will with Single A pitchers and we don’t know anything about the stadiums he hit them in…were they home run parks or pitchers parks? Is it 280 ft down the line or 350?
            -
            Anywho, that’s why some guys hate comps (not me, I love them!) Nothing is perfect, and here we are arguing over a comp because of 5-7 homers per year.

  • cubbieblue

    Have you people lost it? To say if we expect 65 wins but get 70 it will be a good season is silly. Like it or not in sports sucess is measured in wins, not if you have a player who can write a nice editorial piece for the tribune. Anything short of making the post season is a failed year. Period. Then you shoould content for a WS birth, and WIN! I hope there isn’t a single GM that says their goal is to win 65-70 games… that’s pathetic.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      to say that you solely want to look at W/L when evaluating a team is like saying you look solely at BA/HR/RBI when evaluating a hitter. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you have to look at as well.

      Just seeing fundamentally sound baseball being played on the North Side will be enough for me this year.

      • DocWimsey

        heh, I’d never do that: if nothing else, then I do not think that RBI are an individual stat! However, I will judge a batter largely on his BA/OBP/SLG line. (Actually, I’d like 3-4 seasons of those.)

        Ultimately, it gets down to what you mean by “fundamentally sound.” For me, it’s out-homering, out-walking and out-doubling the opponent consistently. That requires both batting and pitching: and even some fielding!

      • cubbieblue

        Yes, I do look at the W/L record when evaluating a team… as does everybody! If it didn’t matter they wouldn’t keep score, nobody would win or loose, and we could all have a group hug on the pitcher’s mound after the game and everyone would go home a “winner.”

        • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

          Did I ever say to not look at the W/L? With most teams there are cycles that they go through from contention to non-contention. We are in the non-contention part of that cycle after a 2007-2010 window of contention. I just want to see a move towards building a contending team that has a window of contention from 2014-2020.

          Is this team going to be not-good, of course, I doubt we will out-homer, out-walk and out-double every team out there but if we see players hustling, making smart baserunning and defensive choices and smart managerial choices, I will be happy regardless of the W-L.

          • cubbieblue

            hansman 1982: I don’t think we will agree. 100+ years of a crappy team is enough. It is time to win…Period!
            DocWimsey: Let me know if you get that co-ed team off the ground…I want season tickets to that!
            Jay Jr.: Thanks for the props…70 wins is a bad season.

            • DocWimsey

              lol, those days are loooonnng behind me: you’d need Doctor Who, not Doctor Wimsey to see those games! (If you catch me in 1990, then tell younger-me that the LFer is a bit cracked: I was going to/will find out in a couple of weeks anyway, so it won’t mess things up too badly!)

            • bt

              so if we traded Castro, Jackson, Rizzo, and 8 other prospects, then traded for a bunch of high salaried veterans, and managed to win 90 games, that would be a “good” season?

        • DocWimsey

          Hey, if it’s coed softball…..

        • Jay Anderson Jr

          I agree. If we are 70-92, it a bad season, regardless of how much hustle and progression we see. But IMO, Any non championship season is a failed season. Teams are ultimately remember by chips, not improvement. Even though expectation are low, no way can a 70-75 wins season be view as successful. however, it doesn’t me we can’t still be excited about our team, and their progressions. I will very satisfied with 75 wins.

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            It will still be a bad season but if we can show progress I will take that along with the appearance of a coherent plan to build this organization into a long-term success with broad windows of opportunity over a cobbled attempt at a 2-3 window of success followed by more chasing of over-priced free agents.

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