Fingers crossed that the mid-50s weather holds out today, as we might get to take the kiddo to the zoo.

  • Patrick Mooney profiles the Cardinals’ organization, standing in stark contrast to the Cubs’ organization over the last 10 years, in a way that will make you respect the Cardinals, and then feel depressed for doing so. In the piece, a reminder in the form of a sobering quote from GM Jed Hoyer: “From Day 1, we’ve been staring at the same picture. It’s a minor-league system that was devoid of pitching prospects. Its upper levels aren’t producing the depths that we need. It’s not a problem we’re going to fix this offseason. We’re going to do our best and spend our money as wisely as possible this offseason to improve it, but organizationally it’s a three-, four-, five-year project. It’s drafting pitchers. It’s trading for pitchers. It’s signing pitchers. I guess you never feel like you have enough pitching depth.”
  • Keith Law chatted on a variety of subjects, as he does, and touched on some bits relevant to the Cubs: (1) Keith saw Paul Blackburn (Cubs second supplemental first round pick in 2012) twice in the AZL, and said he looked like a back-of-the-rotation type, with velocity around 93 mph; (2) Keith likes the Scott Baker and Scott Feldman signings (much like Sahadev said on the most recent podcast, who would you rather have: Ervin Santana, or Scott Baker AND Scott Feldman for the same money? When viewed through that lens, the Cubs played this one just right); (3) On those signings, Law says, “figure one of them works out and becomes trade bait in July”; (4) reworking Brett Jackson’s swing is the right thing to do, and the only way he’ll make it in the bigs; and (5) Matt Szczur is the next Cubs prospect who needs a reworked swing, because he barely looks like a big league 4th outfielder at this point (to Law).
  • Brett Jackson isn’t thrilled about knowing he’s going to open 2013 at AAA, but he’s using the offseason to work on the things that hampered his game when called up to the bigs in late 2012. He’s working hard on his approach, and plans to be back in Mesa by January. Hopefully his unsuccessful call-up, which included a 49% K-rate, showed him the things he needs to work on, much in the way that Anthony Rizzo’s unsuccessful 2011 debut helped him going into the offseason.
  • More on new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer, who’s already started to help the Cubs by working with Jackson and Darwin Barney in Mesa this week.
  • For you early draftniks, Baseball America has released its top college prospects and top high school prospects lists for the 2013 Draft. They are subscription-only content, but the names at the top – given that there’s still an entire season of amateur baseball to be played before the draft – shouldn’t surprise you: Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier at the top on the high school side, Mark Appel, Sean Manaea, and Ryan Stanek at the top on the college side. Sure, the Cubs could be choosing from among those five when June rolls around, but it’s still way, way, way too early to say. Sorry – I know that’s deeply unsatisfying to some of you, but it’s true. Far too many things can change between now and then to make any kind of credible predictions. But at least you know some of the top names to follow.
  • An interesting take on why Sammy Sosa’s Hall of Fame candidacy isn’t going to get much of a fight. In short, he doesn’t have a strong sabermetric case, so those folks won’t be all about him, and he doesn’t have a great “traditional” case, because, although he’s got the big homer totals, he’s also got the steroid cloud.
  • NSBB is crowd-sourcing a top 30 prospect list, and you can participate here. In some ways, this kind of process nets the most reasonable version of a top 30, because it is distilled by dozens of opinions, and it comes from folks who tend to know their own prospects well.
  • The MLBullets at BCB look at the rash of extensions lately, with David Wright and the Mets being the latest.
  • Cubbie Blues

    How long did it take to get your fingers to type that headline Ace?

    • Brett

      Kept inverting the words …

      • Cubbie Blues

        I would expect that kind of article out of Sharma, but Mooney? Are there any Cubs writers left that actually like the Cubs?


      • ETS

        First, Sahadev drools all over the cardinals in your podcast and now Ace types up this headline? I forget what team does this blog follow?

        • ETS

          there should be a 😉 in there somewhere

    • Spriggs

      My fingers won’t even let me click on the link.

  • Spriggs

    So for Law’s take on Blackburn, should we take “back of the rotation starter” as a compliment? Agree with him on Szczur’s swing.

    From what I saw, I liked Ryan McNeil very much too (AZL)

    • Smitty

      Good or bad, at this point it would be nice if the farm system produced a #3-5 starter that would win some games instead of getting worked over like Coleman did. Not to mention we wouldn’t have to be paying millions to the Baker/Feldman types if it was able to produce some starting pitching talent.

    • funkster

      I gotta be honest, that comment was slightly deflating.

      • Spriggs

        For me it was too. There are at least 6 or maybe even as many as 8 guys who pitched on that AZL team who you could say (at least) the same thing about (“back of the rotation” or better in a case or 3). I was hoping he saw a little more in Blackburn that I’m afraid I did.

        Johnson, Blackburn, Maples, Underwood, McNeil, Lang, Prieto, that big Cuban guy (Martinez?), and maybe even Perakslis (sp?) make 9 guys who looked pretty good.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It should not be. Law was projecting Blackburn to be an MLB caliber starter, but not a stand-out guy. He projects most minor league pitchers to be (at best) bullpen material.

        As most guys never reach their projections, and as relief is a fall back if starting does not work out, it seems that Law thinks that Blackburn has a better chance of making the bigs than most other guys.

        • Spriggs

          Yes, I was sort going back and forth at first… but this sounds about right.

    • college_of_coaches

      Hey Spriggs, can you tell us more about what you saw in McNeil?

      • Spriggs

        Sure. I think I saw all but one of his games this summer. McNeil is a big kid – appears to be a little bigger than what he’s listed at, which is like 6’3″, 220. He throws hard. He is only 18. I didn’ ask any of the scouts, but I would say McNeil’s fastall sits a tick – or maybe a couple of ticks – above Blackburn’s. It is his out pitch at this point. Blackburn and Johnson are, as one would expect, a little more polished. Especially Johnson. He struggled with his command and control in a couple of the games I saw, but in the others was dominating. Hitters don’t appear real comfortable against him.

        McNeil is a very intense competitor and he will be interesting to watch as he develops and advances through the system. I’d guess that his ultimate success will be determined by how well he can command his breaking stuff.

      • Spriggs

        I would also say, that strictly judging from what I saw… if I didn’t know anything about either him or Blackburn, and if I had to pick one or the other… I would say give me McNeal. Easy.

        • college_of_coaches

          Thanks Spriggs! Two thoughts based on what you’ve reported: I seem to remember that Greg Maddux was a 2nd round pick, and what set him apart early on in rookie ball was his fiercely competitive nature. (I’m not saying that McNeil is going to be the next Maddux, but I am saying that it is good to hear that McNeil’s a gamer.) The second comment regards his size – when I graduated from high school, my parents bought me a tailored suit. A year later, at age 19 the suit did not fit. I don’t think that we fully appreciate the youth-factor in these draftees, especially those of us (myself specifically) who follow prospects almost exclusively through what we read rather than what we see.

  • cubchymyst

    You think Rob Deer has busted out the Vizubat yet with Barney.

  • hansman1982

    “But quietly they have already built the scouting and player development machine the Cubs like to talk about…”

    I am noticing a theme with the teams that have long-term success.

    • bbmoney

      crazy right?

  • Myles

    I sent an email to and my life has never been better! I hope it gets read on the air, though it’s criminally long.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Brett, it’s Ryne (not Ryan) Stanek University of Arkansas but otherwise, great work as always. As a diehard Razorback, I’ve seen Stanek pitch on TV. He’s a stud! I hope we take him with the 2nd pick in next years draft. As for hoping for mid 50’s weather, I’m hoping the weather stays in the upper 30’s here as we have storm after storm ready to hit us for the next 10 days. Please rain, no snow.

  • Frank

    It’s no secret that the Cardinals have been a smarter organization in recent memory. The way I see it, Theo and Friends are trying to mirror the Rays and A’s. The thing is, those two teams spent years getting to where they are today. It didn’t just happen overnight. We’re tearing down a monstrosity and starting from scratch. Think of us as the early -mid (Devil) Rays. Hard to stomach for a huge market, high revenue franchise, but the good news is that when we do get close to where we want to be with the home grown players, we’ll have a ton of cash to fill the remaining holes. We could be very good for a very long time. We just have to be patient.

  • ScottGoat

    Urgh making me start my Friday by thinking about the Cardinals – THE HORROR THE HORROR

  • stu

    I’m curious why it took so long for Brett Jackson to realize that his swing needs “reworking”.

    In AAA last year, he was already striking out at an alarming rate. Why didn’t they sit him down last year and do it?

    Maybe this is a ploy to make him a little more tradeable. I think his issues are more fundamental.

    • BD

      You don’t rework your swing in-season. Before last year, the Ks were a concern, but not to the point that he was losing his prospect position- I think we were all thinking the rate needed to improve in 2012. Since it got markedly worse, now he needs a lot of help (somewhat like Rizzo during the last offseason).

    • cubchymyst

      How long do you give Brett Jackson to rework his swing? Is the Rizzo timeline (1 offseason and half a season in AAA) standard or is that an accelerated pace.

  • Smitty

    What is Victorino looking for in a contract? Could we get him on a Two Year deal? CF looks bleak if Jackson will be spending 2013 in Iowa.

  • justinjabs

    Crowd-sourcing the top prospects is a really neat idea.

  • Spencer

    is sbnation a good website?

    • Brett

      It’s comprised of a ton of smaller, mostly team-oriented sites. They’re only as good as the people running them. So, that is all to say, it depends on where on SB Nation you’re looking. Rob Neyer runs the “Baseball Nation” (named subsequent to the existence of “Bleacher Nation,” I’ll note), and it’s pretty good.

      • Spencer

        Gotcha. I sorta got the feeling that I was on a Bleacher Report-esque site when I was reading the Sosa article. And I don’t like BR at all.

        • cubchymyst

          I used to go to bleacher report, till I started reading this site and fangraphs more. I now realize how uninformed some of the bleacher report articles are and how many of them post something idiotic simply to increase their comments. I also hate their slide show formatting.

          • MichiganGoat

            BleacherReport is a link baiting site that has very little value to a serious fan

          • cRAaZYHORSE

            Bleacher Report is a site for the casual fan that can access many Sports outlets on a variety of topics and or discussions think of it as USA Today..

            This site is great blog site mostly devoted to the Cubs that usually has three to four updates a day on the Cubs ..

            Each is great for your reading pleasure.

  • sven-erik312

    Even though I did live in Chicago, in Lakeview actually on Janssen street, just 2 blocks south of Addison street, and I did go through the anguish of the 69 Cubs, and all the rest of it. It’s hard for me to get the Cardinals hate. Here is a team who won the Series in ’11, came damn close in ’12. We should be looking at what we can glean from them and beat them at their own game. Yeah, they got us right now, but one day the tables will be turned and I hope we will be as Jimmy Valvano (I will always be an ACC fan) said: “to be in a position to win” every year. If we get it done or not is another story.But, I want to se the Cubs in that position and if we can learn something from how they do it, well, that’s just great.

    • Alou and Vinegar

      I think the Cardinal hate recently has come from two things, 1) Tony LaRussa and 2) the obnoxious asshat fanbase. You are correct in looking at what the Cubs can learn from them. To me that is player development. They do exactly what the Cubs want to do in that they are mostly homegrown players with some big money players added through free agency or more often trades to keep them at the top.

      They have a farm system that no matter where they draft (not at the top) or where the so called experts rank them puts productive players in the big leagues. It’s all about player development and not draft position. I hate the Cardinals, but their business model works and will work even more so for the Cubs with their money advantage.

  • BD

    I will have taken Baker OR Feldman over Santana, personally. Having both for that price is even better!

    Crazy thought- wouldn’t it be interesting if the incentives in their contract were “Whichever one of you has more starts get $1M at the end of the season.”??

  • Byron Browne

    It would be nice if the Cubs got a pitcher that they weren’t going to “flip” in July.

  • Dustin S

    The more I looked at BJ Upton’s stats, the more I realized that his lines are probably similar to the ceiling for Jackson in a best case scenario. Just my opinion, but I’d rather the team have more of a true CF (higher OBP, speed) vs a maybe .240ish 150+ K 20/20 guy at best. Unfortuneately it doesn’t look like Campana is that guy either.

    He could surprise us, but Jackson’s hill to overcome (completely revamping his swing and putting up different K/OBP numbers from anything in the mid-high minors) is so much higher than Rizzo’s where he just struggled for a couple months in a too early call-up. It gets hard to take a step back and take a realistic look at some of these guys sometimes because we need so many of our prospects to pan out.

  • North Side Irish

    The Cardinals may currently be better at developing pitchers, but they clearly need to teach better driving skills…

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The premise that the Cardinals have been consistently good since 2000 because they have drafted and developed players so great is a total MYTH. Actually until the last year, maybe two years if you want to be generous, other than 2 players, they had very few homegrown players have much impact, and their drafting was a disaster. Look at their rounds 1-3 picks the last ten years, bunch of busts.
    You must remember that one player they drafted was Pujols in 1999, in the 13th round with the 402nd pick. And Molina in 2000, in the 4th round.The Cardinals stunk for 15 years before Pujols came along and he became the best player in the last 50 years. He basically carried the team for 11 years. That combined with free agents and aquired players is why St. Louis was good, not a great minor league system.
    It is always brought up, oh the draft from 05 to 07 produced 24 major league players. Look at the list of them, 17 of them were cup of coffee short term call ups, who never stayed in the big leagues.
    Look at their 2011 luckfest of a World Series. Other than Pujols and Molina, who were the impact players. Carpenter, Lohse, Westbrook, Freese, Holliday, Berkman, Edwin Jackson, Dotel, Furcal. All either free agents or aquired in trades. Garcia and Motte were decent, they traded one of their many first round pick busts in Rasmus to get Jackson and Dotel.

    How about the dynasty 83 win team in 2006 that lucked their way to a crown. Pujols and Molina. After that, Eckstein, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Miles, Speizio, pitchers Wainwright, Carpenter, Suppan, Marquis, Mulder, Weaver, Isringhausen, Looper, Flores, pretty much other than the big two, the whole team was aquired, not developed in their system.
    What great players have come out of their system other than Pujols and Molina? And now that they have some young pitchers that can light up the radar gun, and a couple AA players in Taveras and Wong, people think they are some scouting gurus. At this point they are prospects. Just has not been true.