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The divisional round of the playoffs starst today, with the A’s taking on the Tigers at 5pm CT, and the Reds taking on the Giants at 8:30pm CT – both games are on TBS.

  • The Wild Card round of the playoffs played out yesterday, with the Orioles taking out the Rangers 5-1, and the Cardinals voodoo magicking their way to a 6-3 win over the Braves. The latter game was, I’m sure, a frustrating affair for the Braves, who made a number of costly errors, and who were burned by a questionable infield fly rule call when a pop fly dropped in left field in between the shortstop (going out) and the left fielder (coming in). It was sufficiently screwed up (1) that Braves fans littered the field with debris, something you almost never see at baseball games, and (2) that the Braves officially protested the game, which was upheld by MLB shortly after it ended. The Braves had won 23 straight games started by Kris Medlen, but they clearly hadn’t been facing the Cardinals in an elimination game in any of those starts.
  • Rangers fans booed Josh Hamilton, who finished his night 0-4 with 2 Ks, and maybe finished his career with the Rangers.
  • Bruce Miles is, as usual, the man, and he hooked readers up with the full quotes from Theo Epstein about Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson, which quotes provide necessary context for understanding why the Cubs called up Brett Jackson in spite of a belief that he would struggle, and why the Cubs have handled Josh Vitters the way they have. Each is now expected to start 2013 back at AAA. Theo’s quotes, from Bruce:

Actually, I don’t think it was really surprising what happened with either player. And you can’t generalize. You have to talk about each player specifically because they’re at different points of their development, different skill sets, different personalities.

Josh Vitters is a player who struggled initially at every level that he’s advanced to. That’s Josh’s nature. It takes him a little bit longer to get comfortable. It takes him a little bit longer to learn. It takes him a little while to manage that anxiety level. So it takes longer for his skills, which I think what he does well with experience will play at any level. It takes him longer to adjust. It’s not surprising at all that coming to the big leagues maybe a little bit before he was ready that it’s not surprising to see him struggle and struggle pretty dramatically. That’s to be expected. I think that will help him down the line. He’s got major adjustments to make, but really for him, it’s more of a process of getting comfortable. That’s the type of person he is. He needs to get comfortable. I think he will.

Brett Jackson was promoted for specific reasons. We sat in Dale’s (manager Sveum’s) office and those of us who had seen him play at Triple-A and those who know him a lot better than I do realized that right now, his swing is not ready to compete up here. He does a lot of other things very well. We don’t think he’s necessarily ready to succeed up here, but there were other reasons to get him up here. Dale wanted to see it firsthand. We wanted Dale and James (hitting coach Rowson) to have a chance to work with him, and we wanted to show Brett certain things, certain adjustments that he needed to make to ultimately have success at the big-league level. I think he’s going to have a much more productive off-season because of what he was exposed to than if he had stayed at Triple-A in what was for him somewhat of a disappointing season that he recognizes and needs to work hard to bounce back.

  • Idaho Razorback

    The divisional round of the playoffs starst today, with the A’s taking on the Tigers at 5pm CT, and the Reds taking on the Giants at 8:30pm CT – both games are on TBS.

    Proof Read Brett.

  • Mat B

    How could they expect Vitters to begin to get comfortable without any time on the field?

    • Turn Two

      That is the only thing I do not understand.

    • King Jeff

      They are saying that they knew Vitters would struggle, so they limited his exposure to that struggle, while still letting him gain experience. At least that’s how I see it. It’s an interesting contrast between how they handled the two, and you can draw parallels to Anthony Rizzo and Dustin Pedroia to see that Hoyer and Epstein have done this before with young hitters.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Also, Vitters played more than enough to get comfortable. He simply was completely overmatched by MLB pitching. His contact skills were adequate for AAA pitching, but MLB pitchers easily exploited Vitter’s complete lack of a batting eye. It’s not comfort: it’s skill.

      • Turn Two

        “It’s not comfort: it’s skill”
        Doc, just clarifying, you disagree with management then, not the idea that he didn’t have enough time to adjust. When you say that he had enough at bats to get comfortable, then I don’t think you understand what “comfortable” refers to here. The quotes from management clearly show that they think he needs an unusually long amount of time at each level to get comfortable at that given level and then he figures it out and has the skills to excel at each level. I am making the point that he did not get those at bats consistently and therefore could not overcome the lack of comfort glitch in his game that they are referring to.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I think that management is just being politic. Vitters is very much not the kind of player that Jed & Theo recruited during their Sox days. They know that guys with Vitter’s hit tools (great contact but no batting eye) rarely succeed in MLB: for every Yogi or Vlad, there are hundreds of flops.

          That said, they might not have better options for 3B next year: there almost certainly will be no good 3Bman on the FA market (I doubt that the Mets let Wright go), and it’s not clear that anybody will be available via trade. Moreover, trading for a good 3Bman will be really expensive: and the Cubs system is not up for that.

          And, of course, “trade” is important on the other end. Vitters could be a trade chip for some other team desperate for a 3Bman. I don’t think that you could get much for him, but you might spin him for, say, a great-stuff, poor-control pitcher who you might make serviceable with the right coaching.

          This is one area where I definitely agree with Kyle: it’s too bad that the Cubs did not retain ARam, as getting a good hitting 3Bman is really hard. (That big gap between Santo and ARam sort of illustrates this point….)

          • Turn Two

            Thanks Doc, that is much clearer than the original post. Though I do tend to agree with management that he has an unusual ability to make it all click late and it could still happen. Wish he had more at bats this year to get closer to that point as I don’t see Valbuena starting on a championship team, but Vitters at least has a small chance.

            • Tommy

              I read a lot of posts that are down on Valbuena and I can understand to a certain degree. But then I hear people clamoring for Vitters and/or Cardenas to get a real shot at 3rd, and I guess I just don’t see much difference. If you look at these 3 players, you’ll find their statistics from AAA very similar (I’m speaking offensively only, here).

              I guess my point is, for a kid who just came up and got his first shot with the Cubs, I think Valbuena played admirably. I won’t say I disagree with your point of not seeing Valubuena on a championship team. I just don’t know what Vitters has done so much better than him that would make you see him as a more likely candidate.

          • jt

            Red Sox under Theo handled Josh Reddick in a similar fashion as they are with Vitters.

            • The Dude Abides

              quick trade him for a top flight closer like Bosox did with Reddick(is that his last name is really spelled)so who raises there hand.

          • Kyle

            As always, I think you are severely overstating their interest in high-BB players and the necessity of such skill to succeed. They prefer it, but it’s not the obsession you make it out to be.

            Also, note that the NL average for walks was 8.0% of plate appearances. Vitters walked in 6.9% of his PAs in the majors and 7.0% total between AAA and MLB. He’s made some pretty impressive strides in his BB rate in recent years, to the point where it’s still below-average but quite unfair to say that he has “none.”

            • DocPeterWimsey

              They are not obsessed with walks per se. However, walks are a symptom of the trait they do want: very selective swinging. Walks are a big part of an outcome that they want: high OBP.

              Winning teams draw more walks than they allow. That’s half pitching: but it’s also half batting. Ergo, guys with below average walk rates are hurting their team on that score. Unless they make up for it with a lot of power, their contributions to run-scoring will be at the mercy of the BABiP goddess, and we know how fickle she is.

              • Kyle

                Winning teams do a lot of things more than they allow. I don’t think walks are unique in that correlation.

                • Tommy

                  So you agree with Doc, then.

            • Drew7

              Where was his “severe overstatement”?

              Doc has shared with us the things that have the highest correlatiin to winning, and net walks were the 2nd most highly correlated (behind only TB I believe) with winning.

              • Kyle

                His severe overstatement is his continued assumption that the front office has no interest in players with mediocre or below-average plate discipline. Vitters’ BB rate has improved to about 7%. That’s just a tick below league average. The Red Sox most successful lineups routinely featured at least a few players with below average BB rates.

                It’s a long way from “walks are desirable” to “players with below-average walk rates are useless or draw no interest from our front office.”

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  I follow the Sox as closely as I follow the Cubs. In those years, the emphasis was always on guys who had good batting eyes, with the only exceptions being for guys who could play “skill” positions who projected to have excellent power (e.g., Middlebrooks).

                  In short, they didn’t draft guys like Vitters.

                  • Kyle

                    “In short, they didn’t draft guys like Vitters.”

                    Jacoby Ellsbury says hi.

                    Ellsbury career BB rate: 7%
                    Vitters 2012 BB rate (combined majors and minors) 7%

                    Again, I think you take it too far. You go from “they prefer to draft guys with high BB rates,” which I agree with, to flat-out stating “they didn’t draft guys like Vitters,” in which case you run into Mr. Ellsbury, whom they drafted, developed and put a half-decades worth of CF on.

                    • Tommy

                      Dude – you really need a hobby other than Bleacher Nation. I think you have an unhealthy obsession.

                    • AB

                      Ellsbury walk rate in the minors was much higher than Vitters. He also struck out at a much lower rate than Vitters. Now you are just chosing suitable, non-parallel periods of record to prove your point??

                    • Jeff

                      AB, his walk rate was not that much higher, and Vitters strike out rate isn’t that high compared to say… a Brett Jackson.

                      54 to 77 strike outs in a little over 400 AB’s at AAA is still low. Your really grasping at straws to discredit Vitters based on Ellsbury’s stats.

                      Vitters has been a slow performer at every level he has advanced too, I wouldn’t be so quick yet to give up on a 23 yr old, he’s not Lahair yet

                • Drew7

                  So the ’03 team, sporting all of 1 regular (Nomar) with a BB-Rate below 7.4%, or the ’07 team featuring *no* regular below a 7.6% rate? The ’04 team did have 3 non-regulars that had below average rates, but also had 6 full-time players with BB-rates over 10%.

                  “Frequently featured a few guys with below average BB-rates” may be a stretch. I think it’s pretty clear that good batting-eyes (and approaches) are pretty high priority.

                  • Kyle

                    The average walk rate in the 2003 AL was 8.2%.

                    That team included Nomar, as you mentioned, with 3.9% and Todd Walker at 7.4%, both very comparable at worst to Vitters’ 7.0% in a league where 8.0% is average.

                    When the 2004 team needed a SS to replace the low-walking Nomar and Pokey Reese, they went out and got Orlando Cabrera, who proceeded to walk at a 4.4% rate. It also prominently featured Gabe Kapler (4.8%).

                    I guess if you prefer “a couple” to “a few,” that’s fine.

                    It’s important to pay attention to what is being argued here. Nobody is denying that they emphasize or prefer good batting eyes, or that it’s a high priority.

                    The two points that are being made are:

                    1) They have been perfectly willing to use guys with below-average walk rates, and those don’t necessarily have to be high power guys, when that is what is available to them.

                    2) Vitters walk rate is not nearly as terrible as it is being made out to be. He’s gotten a reputation as a pure hacker, but his BB rate has been trending upward for awhile now, and has now gotten to the point where it’s very close to average. He’s not a Nomar up there.

                    • Drew7

                      “He’s not a Nomar up there”

                      No question about that. I’d be willing to bet Vitters’ BB-rate will never even sniff Nomar’s 6.6% career rate.

                • Drew7

                  *about* 7%?

                  I calculate the PCL BB-rate this year to be 8.55%, with Vitters at 6.6% – 23% below league average. I’ll take your word on the NL BB-rate being 8%, but I see Vitters’ rate at 6.4 – 20% below league average – at a time where the Cubs were facing pitchers with horrific control.

                  For being the King of Semantics, your description of Vitters’ BB-rate being “a tick below average” seems a bit off. :)

                  On top of all that, I fail to see a consistent upward trend in BB-rate with Vitters. I haven’t done the exact calculations, but I’m seeing yearly rates (since ’08) of ~4.5%, 2.5%, ~6%, 4.5%, and 6.6% – not exactly convincing, though its possible seeing how each stacked up to the league average each year may be more telling.

          • droppedsomething

            Well, that gap between Santo and Ramirez was’t exactly entirely barren. Bill Madlock was quite a good hitting 3rd baseman for the 1st 3 of those years before he was traded to the Giants for Bobby Murcer. And, of course, Ryno started at 3rd (and was more than credible there for 1 season) before he got moved to 2nd base. Anyway, just saying.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              And Ron Cey posted two great years at 3rd, too. However, the Cubs really did not have a long term 3rd baseman between Santo and ARam.

              The Cubs were hardly alone in this regard. The Dodgers, for example, went through 3Bman at a high rate between Ron Cey and Adrian Beltre. Third base is a poorly represented position in the Hall of Fame. It’s simply a tough position to fill with a decent hitter, if only because it’s actually a very tough position to play without hurting yourself. 3Bman probably dive more than any other player, and they have to make one long, rapid throws. So, we see lots of sore wrists, sore shoulders, etc., from guys playing that position.

              For that reason, we shouldn’t rush to push Vitters out the door: the probability of him amounting to much is low, but even that is worth something for this particular position.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Neither vítter or Jackson are going to amount to much

  • Ash

    That IFR call last night was ridiculous. The crowd would have reacted the same way at Wrigley or anywhere else.

    • Pat

      Probably, despite the fact that it was the correct call.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It’s a judgement call, which means that there is not a hard fast “correct.” However, it was a horrifically bad judgement call: every Texas leaguer ever hit is an infield fly given that judgement.

        • Pat

          So you don’t think the infielder could have (obviously did not, but could have) made they play without extraordinary effort?

        • Kyle

          Which part of the ball do you disagree with?

          1) It was a pop fly

          2) An player had reached it with ordinary effort (he was set up under it and hadn’t exactly sprinted)

          3) That player had began the play positioned in the infield

          4) There were runners on first and second with less than one out.

          The only part that is debatable, I guess, is No. 2, but when an infielder is stationed under the ball, the umps will make that call every time.

          • Picklenose

            I think it was a bad call, because it came too late. It was not a particularly easy catch, but while I am not sure that it is appropriate to call infield fly when the outfielder should be calling the shortstop off, that judgement could go either way. My problem with the call was that the ball was nearly down before the ump decided. The point of the rule is allow the base runners to remain on base without fear of a drop and force out. That catch was not sure enough until the last second, so the runners had to go halfway anyway.
            I generally played center and left field. On that play I would have called the shortstop off so I would have a shot at doubling the runner off second.

            • Tommy

              I don’t know why they can’t wait until the play is over to decide if it was IFR or not. Obviously if the play is botched or everyone is safe and the defense doesn’t get the call, this would dissuade them from trying it in the future.

              • Picklenose

                Players can get hurt (fielder collisions, hit by throws, spiked, bad slides) if you play through. Also you are substituting the ump’s decision on if the ball is easily played, for the ump’s decision on if an error is intentional. Despite this argument, I’d much rather trust the ump on whether the ball is easily played.

          • baldtaxguy

            It should have been the 3B ump’s call imo. The outfield ump should not be calling an IFR, he is (in a way) out of position.

        • Kyle

          “It’s a judgement call, which means that there is not a hard fast “correct.” However, it was a horrifically bad judgement call: every Texas leaguer ever hit is an infield fly given that judgement.”

          Every Texas Leaguer that an infielder can jog and set up under, yes.

    • CubsFan4Life

      I completely agree with you Ash. I currently live in Atlanta and the Braves are my second favorite team, so I went to the NL wildcard game last night. Even the Cardinals fans sitting near me agreed that it was a horrible, game changing call. I actually saw a drunk Cardinals fans throwing beer cans on the field to protest the infield fly rule call.

      Nobody wanted to see the umpires decide the game. It took the Braves out of a bases loaded opportunity with only 1 out, and completely killed the comeback inning momentum. As a baseball fan, I had to question whether MLB had decided to use replacement umpires for the wildcard playoff games.

  • Josh

    Imagine if that call would have happened at Wrigley. It would be Bartman all over again. Possibly even worse

    • Jason

      Maybe not quite Bartman level since this wasn’t to go to the World Series and call wasn’t unarguably wrong, but I’m sure there would be plenty of outrage.

  • Ken

    If a player is not ready for big league ball, he doesn’t belong in the big leagues. Big league baseball is not a laboratory for stat geeks to test their theories. There is no justifiable reason to field an inferior team in the wan hope that they may get better in the future.

    It’s not the losing that bothers me. I’m a Cubs fan. I’m used to it.

    It’s purposely fielding an inferior team with the aim to lose that bothers me. If I want to see AAA baseball, I’ll go to Iowa to see it. Trying to pass it off as the real thing at Wrigley is borderline fraud.

    I’ll not be spending any money at Wrigley until I’m confident that I’ll once again be seeing major league baseball.

    • Spencer

      I don’t think the Cubs are aiming to lose, they just can’t help it because they have a young team that is not very good at baseball. Bringing players up that aren’t quite ready is part of player development, and it happens every year. That is probably the main reason why the rosters expand to 40 in September; so clubs out of playoff contention can get some of their younger players big league experience because the minor league season ends so early.

    • sclem21

      It isnt like there’s no precedent for bringing up a player before they are ready, (Rizzo, Trevor Bauer, Starling Marte, even Machado ‘wasnt ready’) and thats just a few off the top of my head from the not so distant past. There are many reasons why sometimes this can give a jolt to the development process, some of which are listed in the article above…did you even read it? It has zero, zilch, nada to do with ‘stat geeks treating it as a laboratory’. Again, did you even read the piece?

      There are also plenty of reasons to field an inferior team in the (not so) ‘wan hope that they get better in the future’, especially in year one of taking over a team. If it was that easy to put out a contender dont you think every team would do it every year? I mean its pretty basic logic here, its a process.

      Its also not ‘borderline fraud’ when they tell you from the get go the next couple seasons are going to be tough, but they believe in the process and are going to stick to it. Maybe you just need to listen better.

      • Ken

        “It isnt like there’s no precedent for bringing up a player before they are ready, (Rizzo, Trevor Bauer, Starling Marte, even Machado ‘wasnt ready’) and thats just a few off the top of my head from the not so distant past.”

        So that should be team policy, then? Hey we bought up some guys before who weren’t ready, so lets do that all the time. No need to field a competitive team when lightning might just hit in a bottle.

        Yeah, that makes sense.

        “There are many reasons why sometimes this can give a jolt to the development process, some of which are listed in the article above…did you even read it? It has zero, zilch, nada to do with ‘stat geeks treating it as a laboratory’. Again, did you even read the piece?”

        It has a great deal to do with it. Did you read the article? Yeah, I read the excuses offered for the lackluster performances we were subjected to this year. So once again, when did big league baseball become a laboratory for testing? These guys can’t perform against minor league competition,. so let’s bring them up and let them not perform against big league competition.

        Good thinking.

        “There are also plenty of reasons to field an inferior team in the (not so) ‘wan hope that they get better in the future’, especially in year one of taking over a team. If it was that easy to put out a contender dont you think every team would do it every year? I mean its pretty basic logic here, its a process.”

        Every team but the Astros and the Rockies managed to field a more competitive team than the Cubs. I expect that most of them are striving to be better in the future, too. If you’re content to watch minor league ballplayers trying to learn their craft with the big league club, by all means continue to make excuses for them.

        If I want to watch minor league ball, I’ll take a trip to Iowa.

        Watching the occasional rookie develop in the bigs is fun. Watching a major league ball club consistently playing kids who are hitting a buck and change, isn’t.

        • Tommy

          So Ken, if you were the manager what would your starting lineup have looked like daily?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “These guys can’t perform against minor league competition,. so let’s bring them up and let them not perform against big league competition”

          Setting aside everything else (with which I don’t agree – guys on the cusp of playing the bigs frequently get a great deal of value out of being with big league teammates and coaches every day), that quote there is just factually inaccurate. Each of Vitters and Jackson was – even considering Jackson’s strikeouts – “performing” against minor league competition. Vitters’ line – .304/.356/.513 – as a 22 year old was pretty darn great, even in the PCL.

    • cubsin

      If you did that, Sveum would have only had about a dozen guys on his roster to work with. And that includes Joe Mather and his 0.00 ERA.

    • Tommy

      I don’t think the Cubs purposely fielded an inferior team. I think that once they decided they weren’t in the playoff hunt, they decided to trade as many players as they could for younger players that would have more of a chance at helping them in the future. We could have kept Dempster, Maholm, Soto, Baker, and Reed Johnson and been a better team for the rest of the year – but to what gain? By trading them and getting young prospects, we look much better for the future.

      The Cubs lost an considerable number of 1 run games in the first half of the season, as well as having a long losing streak that was just unfortunate (many close games from my recollection).

      I believe the FO fully intended on being competitive this year, but once they were out of it, they turned into sellers. If you’re looking toward the future, I can’t see how any of the moves they made would be considered bad ones. Most of them were players that weren’t even signed beyond this year.

      So please stop saying they built a team to lose. We lost 100 games only after trading away half of our starting rotation and losing Garza for the year. Not many teams can lose 3/5 of their starting rotation and be very good, but at the time the Cubs did it, they were out of the playoff hunt. They made the wise decision at the right time.

      • Kyle

        Okay, so if the team was built with a chance to be competitive, why did they leave so much money on the table in the offseason? Was that a good decision?

  • Shep

    That was a horrible call and it was wrong

  • Spencer

    Kind of dumb Hamilton got booed last night.

    Boiler up!!!!

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah that was classless it will be interesting to see where he ends up and what teams are willing to do. Go IU (oh wait bball hasn’t started so IU isn’t relevant)

      • Diesel

        Hamilton has been mailing it in lately. I went to the game where the A’s clinched against the rangers and Hamilton looked like he didn’t want to be there. It was quite sad really.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Well call it what you want. I am a fan of Theo coming here. But having said that, the team on the field in Wrigley the second half was nothing short of disgraceful. With all due respect, we need to stop all the spin and nonsense and just be honest, there’s not much that was redeeming. They hit like Sh t, they weren’t fast, and the staff on the mound was a putrid bunch of soft tossers for the most part.

    No, I still maintain hope, but I don’t buy the poop smell from the front office that you have to lose a bunch and accept a couple, which is largely undefined, losing seasons. Further they know its nonsense in a major market or they are making a gross miscalculation that will have severe consequences.

    My belief is they will try now to lay the foundation for winning at the major league level having established the minor infrastructure. I believe that for the same reason I wanted them here and because Ray Charles from the grave could see the 2012 Cub team that ended the season was a disgrace. I think we have to tell it like it is.

  • Big Joe

    Agreed. Terrible call.

  • mudge

    Everything is terrible.

  • MichiganGoat

    THE HORROR THE HORROR, the Cards are at it again. I can’t deal with another run by those fans.

    • Jeff L

      Deal with it you want to follow Epsteins plan. Your going to have to see 2 more years of it at least. But it seems that you guys “Epstein Followers” seem to be ok with the losing.

      • Njriv

        Lol you act like you have a choice to follow it or not. It doesn’t matter what you think, if you still continue to follow the Cubs, then you are going to have to follow the plan.

  • RoughRiider

    I find it interesting that both Dempster & Maholm were left off the rosters for the playoff games.

  • Chris

    For a one-day playoff, if it wasn’t their turn in the rotation, I don’t think it’s that peculiar. It would be more interesting if they were left off a 7 game series.

    • nkniacc13

      dempster beig left off makes sense as he pitched in the last or next to last game of the regular season so he couldn’t throw anyway

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Having separate rosters for the 1 game WC and the 5 game LDS is a bit silly in this sense. You have no reason to go with more than 2 starters and you then can load up on relievers.

        (Of course, most MLB teams don’t have more than 3 relievers that they want in a post-season game, so this is a theoretical complaint, I suppose….)

        • Picklenose

          Maybe a third starter in case of injury. Also this year with the 2-3 format, your game 5 starter is on really short rest.

  • nkniacc13

    I would kinda like the cubs to sign meek from pitt

  • Picklenose

    NU Mildcats take the lead with 30 secs remaining! (in the half)

  • Carew

    so DeWitt, Wells, and Hinshaw elected free agency according to mlbtraderumors…

  • daveyrosello

    Vitters is a joke, another busted Cubs top pick. Many of us were bitching at the time that it was a horrible choice with Weiters on the board, and sure enough, our fears were realized. I mean honestly, over the last 15 years, the crappy Cubs have been crappy enough to be one of baseball’s three crappiest teams 4 times, and just now it’s become 5/16. That’s over a .300 batting average there champ. And how have all those high picks helped the Cubs organization?

    Corey Patterson. Lou Montanez. Mark Prior. Josh Vitters. And yeah, we can throw a #6 pick (Ryan Harvey) in there for good measure. Depressing. Hopefully Almora is a change in a positive direction, but the Cubs’ inexcusably bad performance in the June draft is a (the?) primary factor in the current sorry state of this team.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Vitters is a joke, another busted Cubs top pick.”

      How many years are we going to hear this?

      Vitters may yet prove to be a “joke” or a “busted pick,” but it’s pretty hard to say that now. The kid just turned 23 in late August, and raked at AAA as a 22-year-old. What part of that demonstrates that he’s a “joke”? Because he was clearly overmatched in his first stint in the bigs?

      Give him a year.

      • daveyrosello

        Enough with the “he’s just X years old” canard. Vitters has been in pro ball for 5 years now. You don’t take 5 years in the minors to reach the majors, put up nothing-exciting numbers during those 5 years in the minors, totally be out-classed when you sniff the majors, and THEN, at some point, become an impact major league player. Guys that are useful at the major league level don’t take long to get there, and they put up great to monster numbers in the minors while moving up.

        Vitters is a zero, period. He’ll never be a regular in the major leagues. His upside, such as it is, is to maybe be a roster-filler guy in the majors at some point. You want to hang your hat on that? Busted pick.

        • Dr. Percival Cox

          This took about 2 minutes of searching:

          http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/liebemi01.shtml

          A former #3 overall pick who took almost 6 years in the minors to develop and became a major league regular. I’m sure there are others at other picks, but I’m not going to dig through it. Point is: it can happen.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            “Can” and “probable” are two very different things! Also, remember that Lieberthal was stuck behind Darren Daulton, who was a Philadelphia icon due to his presence on the 1993 team and his mullet. That Phillies team stuck with a few icons a season or two too long.

            • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

              The statement wasn’t about what was probable, but what was possible. And there are a number of examples of quality major leaguers taking five or more years to develop. Vitters is never going to be a star, but it is not of the realm of possibilities that he could be a league average starter at some point.

            • Dr. Percival Cox

              Completely agree. I think, on average, Vitters probably doesn’t make it. But to say that he’s been in minors for 5 years and age is irrelevant is not correct. That’s what I was pushing against. (And if you look at Lieberthal’s numbers, part of the reason he was stuck behind Daulton is because he wasn’t hitting all that well in AAA.)

              • Carew

                Sir, i love your name

                • Dr. Percival Cox

                  Thanks, Newbie.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Lieberthal’s AAA numbers were not eye-popping, but they were quite solid for a catcher. That’s always a tough position to get an average bat. I don’t remember if the big power he developed later was foreseen at that time.

                That said, getting an average bat to play 3rd is not to easy, either….

        • Stinky Pete

          You don’t take 5 years in the minors to reach the majors, put up nothing-exciting numbers during those 5 years in the minors, totally be out-classed when you sniff the majors, and THEN, at some point, become an impact major league player. Guys that are useful at the major league level don’t take long to get there, and they put up great to monster numbers in the minors while moving up.

          http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/boggswa01.shtml

          Just sayin’

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The only possible outcomes for minor leaguers are (1) impact big leaguer or (2) joke/zero?

          • Drew7

            Well, yeah- ya know, except for the other 15-20 guys on every team’s roster…

        • Can’t think of a cool name

          See David Freese and Allen Craig from the Cardinals. Is it my imagination or do the Cardinals always seem to have a few players who’ve been in their minor league system awhile and then produce eventually in the majors?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Voodoo magic.

            • Matty

              It’s not voodoo magic, Brett. It’s the deal with the devil they made long ago. Rest assured, all people associated with the Cardinals will burn in hell for all eternity. Thank God for that. It allows Cub fans like us to go on.

              • bluekoolaidaholic

                Excellent post, I agree completely.

      • Pat

        The problem is that he’s at the point where you need to protect him on the 40 man. I might do that for next year, but unless he’s major league ready by then you really need to consider cutting bait and calling it a miss.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Even then, the question will be whether keeping Vitters on the 40-man roster exposes a more valuable player. But otherwise, I agree. This is not a case where Vitters is blocking someone with clearly superior overall skills from the position. Unless Wright somehow ends up on the market, this is not a case where the FO is going to take a pass on a stud free agent FA to go with a suspect prospect (i.e, what we’ve seen throughout most of the FA era from the Cubs). And if Wright does go on the market, then the bidding on him will be intense: if the Cubs fail to sign him, then it will be because he got a better offer from another team (including, say, playing on an obvious contender), not because the Cubs are in love with Vitters. This is not a case where the FO is going to pass on an appealing possible trade for a 3Bman because they are going with Vitters: again, it’s a tough market and any team with a promising young 3Bman is going to hoard him. Despite our wishes, Headley, Castellanos, Rendon, Olt, etc., are not going anywhere without a very high cost in players.

          And it’s really no use crying over spilled milk anymore. Yes, the Cubs could have drafted Weiters. But, then, how many Cubs fans would have given up on him a couple of years ago? The current FO did not draft guys like Vitters in early rounds in the past, and it’s improbable that they’ll do so in the future.

          • Dr. Percival Cox

            Wright could be a very interesting signing for 2014, though, depending on what’s happening with Baez. And even if Baez is awesome, his bat plays in left field so you could still sign Wright and move Baez to left.

    • baldtaxguy

      “Many of us were bitching at the time …”

      Statute of limitations on draft pick bitching is five years…your Vitters bitching has become irrelevant since June.

    • Bric

      I know this comment is really late but, c’mon, man, if you’re gonna rattle off that list and include Prior on it then you have to put Hayden J. Simpson at the very top in all caps, italicized, double under lined with a minimum of three exclamation points and circled in red several times. Just sayin’.

  • Stinky Pete

    I get your overall point, but I’m going to nitpick. Prior was a solid pick. Baseline collision and line drive to the elbow did him in. Those three other picks had nowhere near the success Prior did. But again, yeah. I get what you are saying.

    • Frank

      Prior was a solid pick? I am going to nitpick. Prior was more than a solid pick. Prior was a no brainer. A phenom. He was Strasberg before Strasberg was Strasberg. The only reason he fell to us at #2 was because the Twins didn’t want to pay for him. Nobody could have foreseen the injuries that deraled his career. I don’t know a ton about Montanez or Ryan Harvey’s stories, but Patterson and Vitters were also very safe picks, and as close to sure things as you can get. It could be very well argued that their failures were more a result of coaching and development than talent, and if you notice, player development was heavily overhauled when Epstein and co. took over.

      That draft in which we took Vitters was stacked. Before Vitters were David Price and Moustakas. Wieters was 2 picks later. Also scattered throughout the 1st round were Jarrod Parker, Jason Hayward, and Baumgardner. There were also other first round busts like Moskos, LaPorta, and at #9 was Casey Weathers, who we acquired along with Ian Steawart, and has insane stuff but 0 control, and is essential a homeless man with syphilis’ Carlos Marmol.

      • daveyrosello

        My original post wasn’t meant to suggest that Prior was a bad pick, I’d hope that was obvious. The point is that, thanks to Cubbery, it was another very high pick that did not help the Cubs organization long-term. The Cubs got one monster year out of Prior, and another year and a half of mostly useful pitching, and then he was done.

        Here’s another sad point about the Cubs’ futility in achieving good outcomes from the June draft. Going back now a full TWENTY-FIVE years, the ONLY 1st round pick of the Cubs that had reasonably successful, long-term career in the big leagues was Jon Garland–who of course, in true Cubbery style, was traded just one year after he was drafted for a worthless Sox reliever. The next-best 1st round picks of the Cubs were Wood, Prior, and Mike Harkey, each of whom had their careers derailed by injury. And then……nothing. Just awful.

        • Kyle

          Absolutely correct. And I don’t think it’s just drafting, it’s development. The Cubs’ ability to develop amateur players has proven abysmal in the last two decades.

          That, far more than anything they did with FAs or long-term contracts, is the reason the team fell apart in the last few years. And it’s something I think Epstein and Co. will do a fantastic job of fixing.

    • Stinky Pete

      Hey now. You can’t nitpick a nitpicker! Yes, i definitely understated and the baseball gods would have imploded had the Cubs not taken Prior. He sure worked out better than Colt Griffin, anyway.

  • Kubphan82

    Maybe it’s non-news but Dewitt, Hinshaw, R.Wells are now officially FA.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks. Definitely news – just not “busy on a Saturday” news. We went apple picking!
      :)

      • Kubphan82

        That’s awesome… I miss living in Fort Wayne, IN this time of year… We have J.Appleseed park, where his burial is, and they have an awesome festival… Sigh… Things I miss since moving to Florida… The smell of wet autumn leaves, I digress…

        I hope Randy “gets it together” with someone…

  • Picklenose

    Northwestern is the Bryan LaHair of college football. They look awesome for the first month or so, then fade to mediocrity. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

  • Robert

    Sigh… I’m so used to 3-5 posts a day about my Cubbies..

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    For those of you fans who thought the umpire(s) made the correct call on the infield fly rule, should we all assume that had he not made the call then Mike Matheny would have been out there arguing he should have made the call. I DOUBT IT. I rest my case.

  • North Side Irish

    FWIW…this seems timely for the Vitters debate. He was a legit prospect at the time of the draft.

    Jim Callis ‏@jimcallisBA
    If #Royals hadn’t been able to sign Moustakas in 2007, would have taken Vitters and #Cubs would have taken Jarrod Parker.

  • nkniacc13

    I kinda wish they would have taken Parker even thou I think Vitters will be a mlb player

    • Eric

      You mean in the 2007 draft? I kinda with they would have taken Jason Heyward. Who the Braves took at #14 the same year the Cubs took Vitters #3. And Heyward is already putting up great power #’s for the Braves while we are struggling to worry if Vitters can even begin to be an average 3rd baseman.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Spilled milk!

        • Eric

          But it pertains to the current team. It’s not spilled milk. We picked Vitters with the #3 pick. We have the #2 pick next year. I hope our current scouts can do better next year then we did in 2007. At the #2 pick we need to pick a guy who’s gonna be a strong major leaguer.

          • baldtaxguy

            I think we all hope that the 2013 #2 pick yields profit.

      • Kyle

        The story with Heyward is that very few teams had gotten much of a look at him because he declined to participate in a lot of the pre-draft showcases and such. Rumor was that the Braves scouted him, liked him, and being his hometown team, promised to draft him if he made himself scarce so that he’d fall to them at 14.

        • Eric

          That makes it a bit better, I still think there were a few clearly better picks than Vitters. maybe not apparent at the time, but the really great front offices should beable to hit the nail on the head in the 1st round more often than not.

  • Kyle

    “Ellsbury walk rate in the minors was much higher than Vitters. He also struck out at a much lower rate than Vitters. Now you are just chosing suitable, non-parallel periods of record to prove your point??”

    Ellsbury had the benefit of developing in a system that heavily emphasized walks, while Vitters was not. The assertion was made that the Red Sox simply do not draft players without superior plate discipline, and I think Ellsbury proves that point.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Sox coveted Els because, among other things, he had a good batting eye. They did not teach him that in the minors. Now, the Sox philosophy of “selectively aggressive” – i.e., swing only at pitches you can cream and swing for the fences when you do, at least until their are 2 strikes – might have helped refine that, but that was piano tuning, not piano building.

      Now, Els did not have huge HR power in the minors, but the Sox thought that he might (he’s really a 25 HR guy who had a good year in 2011) because of his selectivity. He’s actually not a humongous walk guy (although 10% in the minors was not too shabby), but walks are not the only manifestation of a good batting eye, just a typical one.

  • die hard

    Its laughable to think that Theo knows better than people who actually played the game about how fast a player should be progressing….its like putting a video game geek in charge of our armed forces….Theo would be better off saying no comment on such interviews…

    • Stinky Pete

      But when other people think they know more, that’s not laughable at all. That’s down right reasonable.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It’s just like that Jane Goodall tramp claiming that she knew more about chimpanzees than the chimps did….

    • BT

      Exactly. If Michael Jordan’s career as an executive has proved anything to us, it’s that “guys who have played the game” know more about development of players than geeks with computers, right? I mean if they don’t break up the Bobcats, and SOON, people will simply lose interest in the NBA because they get tired of them winning it every year.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, most people who played baseball have no clue what’s really happening. They just do it.

    • Njriv

      [img]http://i673.photobucket.com/albums/vv96/jesper1992/funny%20sjizzel%20dizzel/dont-worry-sir-im-from-the-internet.jpg[/img]

    • DarthHater

      Know what else is laughable and who else would be better off making no comment? No, I didn’t think so.

  • Stinky Pete

    My “other people” comment was intended for folks who go on message boards and talk like they could be a sports executive better than the folks who do it. Sorry to be so vague.

    • BT

      I had no problem with your comment, Mr. Stinky.

  • die hard

    lets see how much of Rickett’s wealth will be spent wisely by Theo in the off season before we pass judgment…hopefully Theo will consult those who have played the game before any signings of FA pitchers for instance….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hopefully the Giants bow out of the playoffs quickly so that Dick Tidrow will be available for consultation earlier rather than later.

      • die hard

        ditto ….adding him to front office will yield a better team overall by improving pitching staff..maybe he could convince some SF FA to come east or work out trades for them

    • BT

      Since when have former players been any better at talent evaluation, managing, or filling executive positions? Is there any evidence of this anywhere? Did Tony LaRussa’s 12 seconds in the major leagues make him a better manager? Does John Scherholz have to consult with players before he makes any moves since he never played? Where did this criteria come from, and why is it so important to you?

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