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We’ve entered the prospecting offseason, a period which lasts from about November until mid-January, during which a number of publications will release their “Top X-number of Cubs Prospects for 2012.” We’ve already seen an updated post-season top prospects list from MLB.com, as well as a number of league-specific lists from Baseball America.

Now we’ve got a top ten list from Baseball Prospectus, which ranks the Cubs’ top ten thusly:

1. OF Albert Almora

2. SS Javier Baez

3. OF Jorge Soler

4. RHP Arodys Vizcaino

5. 1B Dan Vogelbach

6. OF Brett Jackson

7. RHP Pierce Johnson

8. RHP Duane Underwood

9. 3B Christian Villanueva

10. RHP Dillon Maples

Immediate reactions: Almora over Baez at the top is a mild surprise, and suggests that BP is extremely high on Almora (because everyone is high on Baez right now). Vogelbach ahead of Jackson and Johnson is also a mild surprise, but folks seem to be coming around to the idea that Vogelbach’s bat is just that good (even if he’s a true 1B/DH-only type). I’m surprised to see Underwood and Maples make the list over, for example, Juan Carlos Paniagua. His lack of professional experience would seem to be the reason … but those two don’t have much professional experience yet, either. All in all, I’m encouraged to see at least four pitchers on the list.

In the subscription portion of the article, BP mentions that Paniagua, Marco Hernandez, and Jeimer Candelario are considered prospects “on the rise,” while Tony Zych, Trey McNutt, and Junior Lake are listed as the most likely to make an impact in 2013 (the former two, presumably, because they’re strict bullpenners at this point, and the latter because he’s already on the 40-man, and it’s time to show something). Overall, BP is complimentary of the Cubs’ system, both because of its impact talent at the top, and overall depth of talent.

Thoughts? Reactions? Complaints?

  • LWeb23

    God I love Theo. 3 of the top 4 are his guys, not to mention Rizzo already up and doing damage. For the people who are getting frustrated that we most likely aren’t going to compete next year, look at all the progress already. Love it.

    • Kyle

      71 wins to 61 wins is not “progress” no matter how pretty the prospect rankings look.

      • Carne Harris

        With a rebuilding club that’s about the worst yardstick you could use.

        • Kyle

          That’s always the best yardstick. If being a “rebuilding” club means you lose sight of that, then being a rebuilding club isn’t a good thing.

          • CubFan Paul

            so would you be disappointed if we finish with 65-75 wins in 2013 but along the way 3-5 Arodys Viscainos & Villanuevas are acquired from trading Garza, Stewart, Marcum, & McCarthy

            One more year of trading short term assets and Hendry-guys, along with the 2013 Draft would put the Farm/Foundation and major league team in a very good position to be badass in 2014 and beyond.

            • Drew7

              Here’s my concern: if you sacrifice talent this year and don’t sign players that will help a good amount in 2014, how can we expect to be anywhere close to competitive in 2014?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                This is a great point, and the one where Kyle makes his bones … problem is? This year’s free agent class suuuuuuuucks.

                • Kyle

                  That’s exactly the problem.

                  Let’s say 2013 goes a lot like 2012, which I’ll be the first to admit saw a truly impressive amount of talent infused into the farm system.

                  You sign a couple of Maholm types to flip at the deadline, and it works. You get a reasonable haul for a presumably healthy Garza, and Soriano nets you a not-worthless prospect. Throw in the No. 3 and 40 picks in the draft, and you’ll probably see us with a top-3 farm system and probably the deepest I’ve ever seen.

                  But you are heading into 2014 needing an entire outfield and more than half a rotation, and probably still a 3b. If you aren’t making progress on the medium-term prognosis for the big-league club this offseason, you’ve put yourself in a big hole for 2014 as well.

              • CubFan Paul

                “sacrifice talent”?

                i also nothing about not sgning long term free agents (i’d take Upton at 5yrs 60ish million, or Either, or Justin Upton (signed to an extension to get his prime years))

                we can rebuild and compete at the same time knowing the playoffs aren’t going to happen in 2013

                • Drew7

                  Those three guys you list aren’t improving a putrid pitching staff, though. You mention flipping essentially every pitcher of worth save Shark and Wood, which leaves gaping holes in the rotation going into 2014.

                  I understand you would hope to fill at least one of those holes with Vizcaino /players received from the trades you mention above, but I don’t see that being possible.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    Paul Maholm & a 4th outfielder got us Vizcaino. A healthy Garza (if not signed to Danks-like extension), a healthy Marcum and a healthy McCarthy would definitely bring at least 3 more Arodys Vizcainos

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  I would worry about BJ Upton. I have been a fan of his, but it’s almost like he’s aged 10 years over the last 3. He has the reputation for being a great fielder after stellar 2008-2009 seasons in which he seemed to apparate to baseballs. However, in each of the last 3 years, his range scores have been neutral or even below zero (depending on the score).

                  Also, his walk rate has dropped over the last 4 seasons: he went from be a very Sox-type ballplayer (slugging, K’ing & walking) to just slugging and K’ing.

                  Both of these are things you expect to see in a guy several years older than Upton, as they slow down due to age and/or vision.

                  This leaves me very worried that, in a couple of years, BJ’s signing is going to look like Figgin’s signing.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    maybe Upton needs Lasik or glasses.

            • Kyle

              “so would you be disappointed if we finish with 65-75 wins in 2013 but along the way 3-5 Arodys Viscainos & Villanuevas are acquired from trading Garza, Stewart, Marcum, & McCarthy”

              Absolutely, yes. The odds of the Cubs winning the World Series in the next 15 years is lowered by such a scenario.

              “One more year of trading short term assets and Hendry-guys, along with the 2013 Draft would put the Farm/Foundation and major league team in a very good position to be badass in 2014 and beyond.”

              It’s going to be awfully hard to be badass in 2014 when you’ve left yourself with a rotation of Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija going forward.

              • CubFan Paul

                the rotation post trade deadline in my scenario: Shark, Wood, Vizcaino, the ML ready pitcher acquired for Soriano (Delgado maybe), & the ML ready pitcher acquired for Garza/Marcum/McCarthy

                I’d take that in the 2nd half of 2013 over the vets we cheaply sign that would lead us to 80 wins

                • Kyle

                  Even assuming the Cubs are right and everyone else is wrong and Vizcaino can stick as a starter, he’s going to be on an innings limit that he’ll likely have hit before the deadline.

                  It’s certainly possible that we’ll pick up some pieces that can be used immediately in the rotation, but I would’t be writing it in in pen just yet. The 2013 rotation was supposed to have a guy or two from this past trading deadline, but it didn’t happen.

                  • JR

                    I really don’t know why the Cubs would waste any of Vizcaino’s clock next year at the ML level when he is going to be building/rehabbing to get back. It’s not like he would make them a playoff contendor next yr or anything.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      ‘don’t know why the Cubs would waste any of Vizcaino’s clock next year at the ML level’

                      to get his feet wet in preparation for 2014. Rebuilding and small markets do it all the time

                  • CubFan Paul

                    ‘The 2013 rotation was supposed to have a guy or two from this past trading deadline, but it didn’t happen’

                    because Garza got hurt/they stalled on trading him and Dempster fucked us (Delgado)

                    and not necessarily on Vizcaino (hitting the inningslimit in July) if they start him slow and leave him in Arizona for a couple months

                    you’re so damn doom and gloom about the future. The ‘rebuild’ has started, embrace it (with an eye on 2014 competitiveness)

                    • Kyle

                      “you’re so damn doom and gloom about the future. The ‘rebuild’ has started, embrace it (with an eye on 2014 competitiveness)”

                      Realism is not doom and gloom. I know some people enjoy being in an echo chamber where what they like to hear is repeated back to them, but I like looking at things a bit more objectively.

                      There’s a lot to be excited about in the minor leagues right now. This is the best Cubs farm system in the past eight or nine years and trending upwards. The 2011 draft class had an excellent 2012, and the Epstein and Hoyer added a number of interesting prospects in 2012.

                      That doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge some things that people don’t want to hear:

                      1) Jed Hoyer has never GMed a playoff team in three tries, and a fourth isn’t looking good. This is the man we are expecting to run off a long string of consecutive playoff teams to make it worth it. Our undisputed “best front office in baseball” has left a smoking crater in its wake in two teams besides the 101-loss ship they captained this year. You want to blame everything about the Cubs on Jim Hendry? Fine. But Epstein and Hoyer left behind two teams that went a combined 34 games under .500 this season.

                      2) Javier Baez has an incredible ceiling *and* a low floor. There’s still a very good chance that he busts out. He could bust hard in 2013. He’s going to be facing a whole new level of pitching, and he hasn’t yet shown the plate discipline to handle it beyond the occasional flash of amazing power. He may never be able to handle it.

                      3) Virtually no one outside of the Cubs thinks Arodys Vizcaino can stick as a starter. He’s small, lacks endurance, and has trouble staying on top of the ball, which causes more stress on his arm and sent him to TJS in the first place.

                      I could easily go on. It’s not negative to acknowledge these things. It’s simply accurate.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      sorry, i should of said cynical instead of doom & gloom. i know where you’re coming from.

          • Carne Harris

            By your reasoning even if a team offered to pay all of Soriano’s contract and give us 100 top tier prospects, it would be a mistake to trade him because having him increases the current 2nd to last place team’s number of wins. In fact, by your reasoning, every trade by a seller team at the trade deadline is by definition a mistake because they’re trading for a future piece at the expense of the current team’s number of wins. Is the number of wins at the major league level the ultimate goal after the rebuild, sure, during the rebuild – not even close.

            • Kyle

              That’s argumentum ad absurdum.

              • Carne Harris

                If you know formal logic that well, you should know reductio ad absurdum is a legitimate argument. If it helps you to address the point though, change it to a team claiming Soriano off waivers at last year’s deadline. By your reasoning it would reduce our number of wins so would have been a mistake, despite us having no chance at the playoffs and despite it clearing payroll for moves that might help us when we do.

                Or think of it this way – say with the rebuild we build a foundation to constantly compete year in and year out so that our average number of wins over the next 10 years (including last) is 88. Now say without the rebuild that average over 10 years would have been 82. Which is better even by your own standard?

                • Kyle

                  That one’s begging the question :) The dispute is whether rebuilding actually does gain you anything over a decade, let alone 60 wins.

                  Other than that, you are taking a gentle reminder that the team had setbacks in order to realize those potential prospect gains too literally.

                  • Carne Harris

                    I wouldn’t address it either. Pretty untenable. :)

          • BT

            Wins is the most important yardstick to a rebuilding team? Even taking into account that this is a sports team message board on the internet, this is almost unfathomably absurd.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              As long as Kyle is consistent next June when the Cubs are picking second, and next July when they’re spending the second-most internationally, and he says that it’s not good and valuable that the Cubs are in that position, then I’m fine with him taking that approach…

              • Kyle

                It’ll be fun. But it won’t be as good and valuable as having good players on the major league roster.

            • BT

              Taking Kyle’s approach, we should have traded Baez and Jackson for Greinke, and hung onto Dempster and Maholm (and gone without the prospects we got back), in hopes of somehow making it to 73 wins, and that would have made us a “successful” rebuilding club. Again, absurd almost doesn’t do it justice.

              • Kyle

                The entire concept of a “rebuilding” team seems to be being used as a catch-all defense for losing.

                If being a rebuilding team means a big-market team losing 101 games is actually a good thing, then we shouldn’t be a rebuilding team.

                • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                  It’s not a good thing…or bad thing.
                  But if you’re going to lose 90 games, then it doesn’t really matter if you lose 100…and it actually does pay off to lose 100 instead of 90.

    • baldtaxguy

      Agree, there is marked improvement in the quality and depth of prospects when compared to a year ago.

  • August

    Let’s keep adding to the basket until it runneth over

  • Pingback: Wrigley Renovation Slips into the Bullets and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Kyle

    Has the roundtable been linked yet?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18860

    On Almora vs. Baez, says Almora’s is “a controlled aggression” whereas Baez is “a lunatic with a weapon.”

    I love Baez so much.

  • Pingback: Almora Versus Baez and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Pingback: Baseball Prospectus is Crushing on Cubs Prospects: Four in the Top 54 | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

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