A lesser-discussed piece of the new CBA’s changes to the Draft is the ability to trade draft picks … well, the picks acquired in the competitive balance lottery, anyway. The other picks remain off-limits. And, even then, if you acquire one of those picks, you get only half the slot value of that pick added to your bonus pool (in other words, it’s kind of like getting the pick, but having to select a much lesser player with that pick). Not much of a real draft pick trading system. Certainly not like the NFL, where I just read that the Redskins have *insanely* agreed to acquire the number 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft in exchange for their number 6 overall pick, the number 38 overall pick, and the Redskins next two first rounders. All of that to move up four spots and grab Robert Griffin III. Makes you wonder what kind of insane baseball trades we might see if draft picks were fully tradable.

  • Randy Wells, who entered yesterday’s game in relief (bases loaded, one out, and coaxed a double play ball), sounds a whole lot like 2010 Sean Marshall, who had the best Spring of any rotation competitor, but who could better help the team in the bullpen. Marshall was a good soldier, and repeatedly said that he simply wanted to make the team, and do whatever he could to help. “[Starting] is just what I’m comfortable with,” Wells said. “I’ll do whatever it takes. What the team wants me to do I just want to be here. I think we’re on the right track. I think we’re onto something special and I definitely want to be a part of it. Whatever way I can be a part of it that’s what I want to do.” Wells added: “Hopefully, I put myself in position to earn a roster spot here or whatever they want me to do.” You’d hate to think that a guy would be bounced from the rotation competition because he was too kind not to bitch, but it’s nice to see a guy saying he just wants to do whatever he can to help the team. It’ll be interesting to see if Wells gets some bullpen looks, but if his arm is feeling good and his velocity is back where it was two years ago, Wells may be the best rotation candidate of any trying to win one of the back two options.
  • Rick Sutcliffe, who’s been tooling around camp the last week or so, helping guys out here and there, had some harsh words for where things stood last year at this time in the Cubs’ organization. “There’s some nice things going on here,” he said. “I wasn’t here last year. I wasn’t on board with what was happening and I love the Cubs, pull for them, but I didn’t feel I was welcome. I’ve been around the Phillies and the Yankees, and when you go down to a bullpen and watch five or six guys throw, you sit back and almost every other guy, you go ‘Wow, he’s got a chance.’ There wasn’t a whole lot of ‘wow’ going on here [in Cubs camp]. It was disappointing. You’ve got to know where you’re at to get better …. There’s the truth and the fact that this is a mess. To me, the chain of command was broke, people were going in different directions with no leadership. There’s leadership now.” It’s easy to criticize after change has been made, but, man, if Sutcliffe is being fair, it paints a pretty bleak picture of where things were before the recent transition.
  • Dale Sveum was complimentary of pitching prospect Trey McNutt, who was re-assigned to Minor League camp yesterday. “He’s got the stuff, he’s got the makeup,” Dale Sveum said of McNutt. “He’s just got to be more consistent with his breaking ball. He’s got to understand how to use it and when to use it. He works as hard as anybody. His makeup is great. It’s just a matter of going out there and being more consistent on an every start basis.”
  • TCR’s Arizona Phil puts together an exceedingly helpful piece on Minor League camp, including a camp roster for each of the Cubs’ Minor League levels (players are technically on the Spring roster of one of the Cubs’ Minor League teams). Those rosters change frequently as players are sent to Minor League camp from the Major League camp, and as players are shuffled up and down levels. That said, the rosters can give you an early idea of where the Cubs are thinking about starting various prospects out (a very rough idea).
  • Dale Sveum and White Sox manager Robin Ventura are chummy, having been former teammates.
  • Semi-forgotten back-up catcher candidate Jason Jaramillo apparently tried to play through his quad injury, and is paying for it now in a protracted recovery. “I thought I could get through it, and it didn’t go away,” Jaramillo said. “It came to the point where I had to say something and had to get it fixed. Where I’m at is I’m getting a lot better. I’m hoping to get out there soon.” Trying his best to make the team and continue his career, you can understand Jaramillo’s hope that he could play through the injury.
  • Aramis Ramirez defends Carlos Zambrano by, well, criticizing him. “He did a lot of wrong things. He did a lot of things that you’re not supposed to do. He disrespected his teammates a lot – he knows that – by leaving the field or packing his stuff and going home. You don’t do that. But at the same time, he’s human. He made a lot of mistakes; he’d be the first one to tell you.’’
  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    “And, even then, if you acquire one of those picks, you get only half the slot value of that pick added to your bonus pool (in other words, it’s kind of like getting the pick, but having to select a much lesser player with that pick).”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that means you have to take a lesser player with the pick.
    So the Cubs have about $8M in draft pool dollars. The #6 overall pick they take Giolito and spend $4M of that.
    They have $4M left and acquire one of those bonus picks (so add half the slot to the $4M). They can still spend $3M or so, and just have have $1M and some change left to sign the remaining picks and possibly losing future pick if they go over 15% of slot?

    So my point is, I *think* a team can still pay for the best talent available at the expense of spending on later picks and possibly losing a future pick.
    A team like the Brewers or Phillies or Giants might not worry about losing a draft pick if they gain one for losing Greinke or Hamels or Cain.

    Am I wrong in understanding the new CBA?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re not wrong. That’s why I said “it’s kind of like.”

      The point is, if you acquire one of those picks, you don’t get the full slot value added to your bonus pool. And, in this system, I suspect that kids aren’t going to be crazy about signing for much under slot.

      • hcs

        Does anyone know if the drafting bonus pool will involve hard slotting, a la “pick number 6 is valued at $4.5 million, pick 12 is limited to $2.25, etc”? Or is it an open system where the teams are allowed to allot a huge sum to their first-rounder, and skimp on the rest of the draft?

        I could probably look it up myself, but if anyone has the knowledge handy and is willing to inform the uninformed, it would be appreciated.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The total bonus pool is based on the slot values, but, no, there is no hard slotting, per se. But, because of the pool, I think you’ll see some teams doing something very close to hard slotting.

          • hcs

            Thanks, Brett.

  • Brian Peters

    Aramis is STILL a crooked…..well, you know.

    • Reality Check

      You sir, are a moron.. Or a bent tool.. You choose.. :))

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Agree Brian, Mr. No Hustle. lazy millionaire should worry about cleaning things up himself and not what happens with others.

  • CubFan Paul

    ‘Wells may be the best rotation candidate of any trying to win one of the back two options’

    Why do u have such a hard on for Wells? He’s 29, with no upside. Samardzija, T.Wood, & Volstad are all younger, cheaper, with far more upside than Wells. We’re rebuilding therefore making Wells the least best back of the rotation candidate.

    Theo&Co built this rotation without Wells on purpose and got a nice spring surprise from samardzija to complicate things further

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Selective quoting much?

      If you would care to look at Wells’ WAR in 2009 and 2010 (when his velocity was in the low 90s – the part of the post you ignored), it was 3.0 and 3.2. You wouldn’t want that in the rotation?

      That 3.2 in 2010 was the 22nd highest for a pitcher in the NL. There are 16 teams in the NL. Think about that.

      • CubFan Paul

        Randy wells is mediocre. He was mediocre on the mound in ’09 and ’10 despite his WAR, that you always bring up.

        Wells is not a longterm solution. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, & Volstad are/could be longterm fixations in the rotation. Everyone has already given up on 2012 as far as making it a transition year to get better in the future. A soft tossing 30year old righty is not what I want in the rotation despite his WAR/numbers from 2-3yrs ago that he’s not guaranteed to reach (he may, but he would be stunting the development of the other 3 younger pitchers with far more upside than his ’09 and ’10 seasons)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Don’t let facts ruin a good narrative, right? “Randy Wells is mediocre.” The numbers say he isn’t. “Who cares what the numbers say?”

          What you seem to be missing is that, even if you want to use the rotation spots for the sole purpose of rebuilding (as opposed to trying to win this year, which, like, it’s March – I certainly hope there’s still a little “try” there), a successful Wells has a whole lot of trade value. If he’s toiling at AAA or in the bullpen, that trade value drops significantly.

          Wells was among the best starting pitchers in the NL in 2009 and 2010, and then was hurt in 2011. When he finally recovered from that injury, he pitched well again. These are facts. Fight them all you want, but, since they’re cemented in the past, they aren’t changing. You call that “2-3yrs ago,” I call that consistent when healthy for three straight seasons.

          Whether he’s a long-term solution or not, *IF HIS VELOCITY HAS RETURNED* there’s very little justification for keeping him out of the rotation *TO START THE YEAR.* The reasons are many, and are tied not only to the Cubs being competitive this year BUT ALSO to the Cubs rebuilding via trade.

          • CubFan Paul

            to end this amicably: You like Wells, I don’t. We obviously view the word mediocre differently because in my opinion any slug who’s able to get 30 starts should have a 3.0 WAR

            I just don’t think Wells is impressive on the mound at all and if not for the tight purse strings by Ricketts since buying the team I don’t think Wells would be anywhere near a Chicago roster

            • Ogyu

              “in my opinion any slug who’s able to get 30 starts should have a 3.0 WAR”

              Last season, there were 36 pitchers in the NL with 30 or more starts and 14 of them had a WAR of 3.0 or higher. So over 60% of those pitchers do not rise to the level of slugs in your opinion. Must be nice to have such high standards. Now try applying them to your own reasoning.

              • CubFan Paul

                Those 16 pitchers are obviously mediocre :)

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              We good.

          • Bric

            Paul, I don’t think most of us have already given up on ’12 season. I actually think most fans are more excitede this year than last.

            But Brett, your point about WAR is always questionable, at least to me. WAR is not a stat, it’s a projection. A weak, questionable projection based on a snap shot of statistics at any given point in time. It’s like a five day forecast that’s bound to be changed by the time you get to the weekend. By their own admission, the sites that generate WAR all use different methods to calculate it. That in itself makes it very suspect to say “This guy’s worth 5 more wins than somebody else…”

            • CubFan Paul

              Bric, don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about the 2012 season. I like the direction of team by the front office, but we’re going to suck (again). The talent and depth just isn’t all there yet (could have been with a little more spending on certain spots (3rd starter, 2B, 3B, & 1B))

              • Turn Two

                You can always spend money and see a few more wins. However, what the Cubs are finally doing is truly assessing what they have at both the major and minor league levels before they go out and spend the money. You have to know at which spots you need to spend in order to do that. So you take chances on guys who have a high probability of rebound, you let rising prospects be just that, rising prospects and you wait to shell out money until you see what positions are not being filled in house. Going out and throwing money on mediocre players to add a few W’s to your season is what gets us into trouble every year. Those guys just suck up available positions to test your kids and end up having contracts that no matter how short seem too last too long.

                We need to let the FO view and assess everyone, we need to let this first batch of kids under the new regime rise or fall to whatever level they will rise or fall to and then when things get settled, Ricketts will spend the cash to fill in the holes, potentially even fill them in with stars. From that point forward you have the next generation of prospects prove themselves in the minor leagues and eventually work their way in to open spots on the major league roster. This first generation of kids though being led by the new FO is going to be the one that gets everything organized and therefore will run under a different model. Eventually we can start spending on the free agents, but it would be pointless right now and maybe even counterproductive to do so.

                • CubFan Paul

                  More selective quoting: ‘Ricketts will spend the cash to fill in the holes, potentially even fill them in with stars’

                  You’re assuming. Ricketts hasn’t done that in the 3 seasons he’s owned the team. Week 2 of 2011 when cashner and wells went down says it all

                  • Turn Two

                    You are not understanding the entire purpose of the post then. If you understand baseball, then you understand now is not the time to spend the money. He would be an idiot for doing so. When you spend on a good player you sign them for multiple years, otherwise they don’t sign. We don’t want any multi-year deals until we assess what we have. This seems like its fundamental reasoning.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      You’re right, I don’t understand baseball

                    • ferrets_bueller

                      Exactly.  There is no point in spending at the wrong time.  There really is a fundamental misunderstanding of at least some aspects of baseball here….

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              WAR is absolutely NOT a projection; it tells you what he did in the past.

              Let me ask you, how do you determine Randy Wells is better or worse than another pitcher?
              You look at something; be it ERA, K’s, BB’s, HR’s given up, velocity, etc, right?
              Then you look at the same variables from Pitcher B.
              Then you smash all those variables together and come up with a final ruling, that Pitcher B is better/worse than Randy Wells.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Setting aside the predictive piece (WAR is a stat, not a prediction – you can find predicted WAR, though), I could point to other stats that suggest Wells has been good. He’s had more success at the big league level than, for example, Volstad, Wood, and Samardzija. That’s really all I’m saying.

              • Caleb

                I’m turning 29 next month and I can assure you I’ve never had more upside in my life.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  False. Just turned 30 – it’s straight downhill.

              • Bric

                I see what you and Norm and others are saying but again, WAR is considered a statistic (I guess) simply because it’s a number. A number that is derived in a variety of different ways which results in a total lack of mathematical fidelity, which means it’s only worth anything if intepretted properly, which makes it a projection. ERA, BA, OPS are valid stats because they are calculated the same way by everyone, WAR is not. That’s why I don’t put a lot of stock in it. That’s all I’m saying. We good?

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  We good. And, for what it’s worth, I *kind of* agree with you.

  • Dustin S

    That Sutcliffe article is pretty eye opening. It’s even more surprising that it’s an article from the Cubs website which is usually a little toned down.

    Not that it’s something that everyone doesn’t know, but another harsh quote from that article was “Those guys [they drafted] in ’02, ’03, ’04, they’re supposed to be carrying us now,” Sutcliffe said. “Those guys are no where to be found [with the Cubs].” Ouch.

  • Ivy Walls

    Last year an old high school friend who made it AA went to Spring Training in Mesa and told me that the Cubs organization was atrocious that the Cubs were going to suck in 2011, that Quade and Co were running a friendly camp instead of training. That Quade simply wanted to be liked by the vets and had no authority or respect of the players.

    Unfortunately my friend passed away suddenly this winter so my annual personal report is never to be there again. But Sutcliffe offers a more practiced and knowledgeable eye and quite a slam within MLB circles.

    1) “but I didn’t feel I was welcome” translated, Sutcliffe was a threat in that he is also a national broadcaster even though his affection for the Cubs comes through.

    2) “when you go down to a bullpen and watch five or six guys throw, you sit back and almost every other guy, you go ‘Wow, he’s got a chance.’ There wasn’t a whole lot of ‘wow’ going on here” translated the Cubs talent pool sucked last year.

    3) “You’ve got to know where you’re at to get better …. There’s the truth and the fact that this is a mess. To me, the chain of command was broke, people were going in different directions with no leadership” translated, the Cubs were lying to themselves and believing their own marketing BS.

    Turnarounds happen faster because few things are actually linear, more like snowballs. I see this team getting better quicker, possibly 10-12 games better next year and coming in around .500. I think Sveum will demonstrate some things as decisions present themselves. Soriano might see the bench much of the time, Castro if he doesn’t play fundamental defense might also see the bench. Players will respect the AB and play to move runners or put the ball in play and not seek the fence at every AB. And if BJackson has a great spring and shows he is ready, they might just pull the trigger.

  • college_of_coaches

    Interesting break down of the Sutcliffe quote. Also, I agree with the comment on the above dialogue regarding Steve Stone. The friendly exchange of well-thought opinions is one of the reasons I enjoy this site. Regardless of our fond memories for Stone as a broadcaster, he’s clearly moved on. Also: for those who insist that Harrelson is the worst announcer in the game, need I mention Marty Brennaman? Worst. ever.

    …sorry to bring up his name.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That would be quite a competition for worst announcer (and if you include color commentators, how about throwing in the one and only Joe Morgan?).

      • AP

        I still go to FJM periodically and read articles just for old time’s sake. What’s always puzzled me about Morgan is that he’s exactly the kind of player SABR teams would love – high OBP, good power for a second baseman, everything, yet he hates Sabermetrics.Back on topic though, I had to watch a Cubs game that he and Jon Miller did a few years ago and had to mute it half way through the first inning.

        • college_of_coaches

          I heard Miller once say (It might have been that game) that Randy Wells probably grew up a Cubs fan because he was born and raised in Illinois. Really? Belleville?

          • CubFan Paul

            Nope. Wells grew up a die hard Cardinal fan. Some of his best games/performances have come against the Cards for whatever reason.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Did you know that Ken Tremendous from FJM is Michael Schur, the creator of Parks and Rec?

  • Cheryl

    On the analysis of the minor leaguers, any more word on Hayden Simpson?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nope. He’s camping with Daytona right now. He had a late-season elbow injury that he tried to pitch through last year (after the massive mono). 2012 is not going to be a year to watch him come all the way back – it’s going to be a year to hope there are signs that he might eventually be useful. I feel bad for the kid.

  • http://BleacherNation Mugsy

    If Wells can grow up and keep his ass out of the bars late night, he will be better than that WAR rating. He’s got the makeup of a decent pitcher, he just needs to grow up. I agree with Brett that he has good trade value especially if he performs well early.

  • Joshua Edwards

    Wells is underrated because his stuff isn’t flashy, and he’s never posted eye-popping stats.
    (Though I’d argue that his WAR of 3+ in 2009 and 2010 is exceptional, as Brett points out. Because no matter how you measure it, when the same calculation is applied to every other player in the league and he consistently outperforms his peers that means something.)

    To me, his success despite a lack of traditional numbers and a clear strikeout pitch illustrate he knows how to pitch. And I think he gets more mileage out of his mediocre stuff than several more capable players can get from theirs. I want that guy around young pitchers.