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chicago cubs logoGiven that the 2013 Chicago Cubs long ago passed the reasonable possibility of a playoff run, we’ve instead started to look on a regular basis at where they stand relative to the worst teams in baseball, rather than the best. Although the playoffs are the best outcome for a regular season, and competitiveness (and missing playoffs) could be a close second, depending on where you are organizationally, falling far back in the standings really isn’t all that terrible (assuming your ownership can stomach the short-term financial pain). Not only do you reap a higher draft pick in 2014, but you get more funds to spend in the Draft, as well as in international free agency.

Obligatory caution: I’m not saying I’m into actively rooting against the Cubs on a day-to-day basis. I’m saying only that losing a ton of games has its silver linings.

One of the biggest silver linings upon which I’ve been focusing is the concept of a protected first round draft pick in 2014. If a team signs a free agent who has been extended a qualifying offer (one year, $14ish million), that team loses a draft pick. Unless the team picks in the first 10 selections overall, the pick lost is a first round pick. If the team picks in the first 10 selections, they lose their second round pick instead. Thus, if you want your team to pursue top free agents – and the Cubs have been linked to Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo already – it would be handy to have a protected first round pick.

To the standings, in reverse order …

1. Houston Astros – 44-88

2. Miami Marlins – 49-82

3. Chicago Cubs – 56-77

4. Chicago White Sox – 56-76

5. Minnesota Twins – 57-74

6. Milwaukee Brewers – 58-74

7. San Francisco Giants – 59-74

8. Seattle Mariners – 59-73

9. Toronto Blue Jays – 60-74

10. New York Mets – 59-72

11. Los Angeles Angels – 59-72

12. San Diego Padres – 60-73

13. Philadelphia Phillies – 61-72

14. Colorado Rockies – 63-72

From there, there is considerable separation, and the better teams don’t have a realistic shot of falling into the bottom ten.

As you can see, the Cubs have “pulled” into “third place” by themselves, a half game worse than the White Sox. It is safe to say that the Cubs won’t be catching the Marlins (and, ha, definitely not the Astros), so the third spot is the best (worst?) the Cubs can get.

For my part, I’m not interested in focusing too closely on the precise spot where the Cubs will land – there’s too much season left, and the teams in the 3 through 14 spots are so closely clustered, relatively speaking, that it’s not a good idea to start meting out specific spots.

Instead, I remain focused on whether the Cubs are a good bet to stay in the bottom ten. At present, the Cubs are five games clear of the Mets and Angels (in the loss column) in the 10th/11th spots. But the Cubs have played two more games than those teams, and are thus just three games clear in the win column. The Cubs’ remaining schedule is semi-tough, with 13 games left against “bad” teams, and 16 games left against “good” teams. (Of particular note: seven games remaining against the Brewers.) By contrast, the White Sox face almost exclusively “good” teams the rest of the way. I suspect they will “pass” the Cubs, which is another reason I’m staying focused on the bottom ten, in the aggregate, rather than any specific spot.

Looking at those fringe bottom ten teams, the Mets have a fairly even schedule the rest of the way, the Angels and Padres have a slightly tough schedule the rest of the way, the Phillies have an extremely easy schedule the rest of the way, and the Rockies have an extremely tough schedule the rest of the way.

All in all, it looks like it would be tough for enough teams to “pass” the Cubs for them to fall out of the bottom ten, but if the Cubs go something like 19-10 over their last 29, they would finish 12 games under .500. Judging based on where the teams on the cusp of protected pick status are right now – a shade worse than 12 games under .500 – and a presumption that they could very well play sub-.500 ball the rest of the way, I think that’s probably the danger zone for the Cubs.

  • Isaac

    Brett –

    with the assumption that the Cubs land in the 3-5 range in the draft, who would you like to see them target?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It is much too early to say.

      This time last year the top targets in the 2013 draft were thought to be Appel and Meadows. Gray and Bryant were on the fringes of the Top 10 lists and not really considered candidates for the top spot at all.

      That sort of thing happens every year. Someone(s) will come up, someone(s) will move down, and the list in June will not look like the list from 3, 6, or 9 months prior.

      We can say that overall depth is looking pretty good in this draft, but even that could change before draft day arrives.

      • On The Farm

        Ryne Stanek from Arkansas was looking like a good pick after the 2012 draft, but he end up falling to the end of round 1. I saw one mock draft that had Stanek to the Cubs all the way until March.

        • Patrick G

          Same with Sean Manaea. Wanted the Cubs to get him so bad in preseason and wound up late 1st round. Obviously love Rodon and Beede but anything can happen

          • macpete22

            In a way I want the Cubs to pick ahead of the Sox and the Brewers. Rodon won’t fall past #2 (I know it’s early) I would like the Cubs to draft Alex Jackson. Adding a future catcher to the “Big 4″ would be awesome

    • SenorGato

      Tyler Beede if he picks up on the throwing strikes aspect in any quantity. I think he’s the most talented college pitcher. I don’t get why he doesn’t throw more strikes.

  • ETS

    Other than Rodon, are there any “big” names in next year’s draft yet? (all it’s still way early caveats apply)

  • TheDondino

    Instead of stating “five games clear of the Mets and Angels (in the loss column)”, wouldn’t it be more prudent to discuss in terms on games clear in the win column? Since this is a reverse of talking about being behind a playoff race. If the goal is to finish worse, or stay worse than these two teams, the object then is to lose more game than those teams. If all three teams were to lose out (essentially the goal here), we would be only three games clear of the Mets/Angels instead of 5. Think we need to think about separation in terms of games clear in the win column to see how much space we really have.

  • Rich

    It is sad when we get excited about draft standings..BUT…I would love to pick up a player that is like a Kris Bryant that could move through the system quickly. It is exciting to see the young talent come up and succeed. Plus the young players in trades.

    Following this site with Brett and Luke ( and others ) has helped enjoy the minors!

  • Chris

    Here are a handful of guys that all could be potential impact players in the 2014 draft:

    Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
    Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
    Tyler Kolek, RHP, HS – Texas
    Jacob Gatewood, SS/OF, HS – California
    Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
    Alex Jackson, C/3B, HS – California
    Touki Toussaint, RHP, HS – Florida
    Nick Gordon, SS, HS – Florida
    Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State
    Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
    Michael Gettys, RHP, HS – Georgia

    • EQ76

      “Touki Toussaint” – I would have loved to hear Harry Carey try to pronounce his name!

  • Steve123

    Hopefully we can get a nice pitcher in the draft. Then trade about half of out international money for young solid prospects. We got 800,000 for torreyes, so imagine if we traded something like 1.5 million. Could return something nice.
    Offseason thought:
    Sign either Nelson Cruz or Corey Hart as a starting left/right fielder.
    Good buy low candidates, whom probably won’t be offered the $14 million

    • On The Farm

      The only problem with trading out international “money” is that other teams might not value it as much as the Cubs did. The teams we are trading our pool to still have to spend the money they acquire, so we could very well end up getting a Torreyes player for $1.5 million, whereas last year it only cost $800K.

    • JayPaul

      Only issue with Hart is that unless Cubs offer a much greater contract than the Brewers, i believe i’ve read Hart is inclined to sign a make good deal with the Brewers.

  • Jeff

    Pretty sad set of affairs that all we have to talk about is our best possible pick from our pathetic performance on the field.

    As a fan for over thirty years it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any optimism on this new ownership delivering a product the fans can be proud of.

    After four years of the new regime, my prediction is that this team will be no better off than it was under Hendry.

    We still lack premium pitching prospects, you can argue all you want on how we have added depth in the minors, but depth doesn’t equal quality.

    We are a long way off from being competitive, a very sad fact indeed. I’m glad I’m not a season ticket holder, I would feel like I’m being fleeced for my hard earned money.

    Until we acquire some quality arms, we will never be competitive enough to win a championship, pitching and defense wins ball games.

    • Cubbie Blues

      “Pretty sad set of affairs that all we have to talk about is our best possible pick from our pathetic performance on the field.”

      Not true, you found plenty of other stuff to gripe about as well.

    • On The Farm

      “Until we acquire some quality arms, we will never be competitive enough to win a championship, pitching and defense wins ball games.”

      The Tampa Bay Rays called and said that you need more than pitching and defense to win a championship. Thanks!

      • Jeff

        Yeah, their 75-56 record sure looks alot better than ours right now, that pitching really sucks that they have!

        • On The Farm

          Quoting you, you need pitching to win championships, the Rays have had one of the bests staffs over the last 5 years and still haven’t won one. So there is that. Also, the Cubs have had a top starting pitching staff for most of the year and still had a terrible record, so don’t preach to me how pitching solves everything.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            Yeah, it takes pitching to win championships….and by the way it takes hitting to win championships. I just love it when people think you can only win one way.

        • mjhurdle

          what does that have to do with a championship?

        • ari gold

          Look how bad they sucked the 10 years before 2008. They had a ton of high draft picks that came up around the same time. Sound familiar?

      • Chris

        The San Francisco Giants called and said, “No you don’t!”

        • On The Farm

          NL MVP Buster Posey and his friend Pablo Sandoval say hello! You can’t tell me that the Giants were all pitching and defense when they had one of the most elite hitters in the NL, thanks for trying though! :)

          • Jeff

            No, they won that championship because Zito and Vogelsong pitched out of their minds and Cain and Baumgarner were their usual good.

            Sure it helped that Sandoval got hot in key games, but with that Detroit offense, the Giants would have been sent packing if it weren’t for the awesome pitching.

            • On The Farm

              So its just pure luck that Sandoval got hot at the right time off of one of the best pitchers in the game, Justin Verlander, maybe you forgot, but Detroit’s staff is pretty damn good too. You acknowledge that Sandoval helped them win that series, but then drag on about how it was all San Fran’s pitching. It doesn’t matter if Zito, Cain, et al, hold the Tigers to 1 or 2 runs a game if Sandoval doesn’t have his 2 or 3 RBI games. You need someone to be able to score runs on offense.

              • Jeff

                You still are not getting the point, we don’t have a staff that can limit a top tier team to 1 or two runs, regardless of whether or not we can score 2 or 3 runs.

                Other than game one, the three other games were only separated by two runs in game 2 & 3 and 1 run in game 4.

                Game 1 8 to 3
                Game 2 2 to 0
                Game 3 2 to 0
                Game 4 4 to 3

                You cannot seriously argue that pitching isn’t what made the difference in that series are you, sorry the statistics don’t back you up.

                • On The Farm

                  Yeah lets subtract the one game the giants scored 8 runs, just so it helps your argument right? Maybe you should check your facts, over the 16 games the Giants played last post season they averaged 4.3 runs/game. But yeah they only one because of pitching. By the way the Tigers were a top three AL staff last season so the fact they put up 4 runs a game in the WS against a staff that only allows 3.75 ERA, yeah its totally because of the Giants pitching. Nice try.

                  • Jeff

                    no sense arguing with a child..good luck

                    • On The Farm

                      Really, I point out your flaws by showing you the Giants score 4+ runs a game in the playoffs, shows you the Giants were in the top half of the MLB in offense, and you are giving up because you are arguing with a child? Yeah you really come off as an adult. Eat your crow like a man.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      Jeff, this is really simple math…say the league average for pitching is 4 runs/game given up and batting is 4 runs/game as well. If you have league average pitching (4 runs/game) and your line-up produces 5 runs per game, then 5 – 4 = 1 one run + differential. That team loaded with bats is going to have a chance to win a championship with hitting, OPS, etc…and yes you could also win championships with pitching or both.

                      Glad I could help clear this up.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      And I must say, you are suffering from small sample size (no pun intended). Yes, they won 4 games in the series. A pitcher may have been off, some other batter may have been on, can’t really draw the conclusion that the team couldn’t have won a championship just because they didn’t.

                  • mjhurdle

                    Your statistics are off On The Farm…
                    If you remove every run the Giants scored in the playoffs, then they scored 0.00 runs a game.
                    But they still won the World Series while scoring 0.00 runs a game.
                    Thus, hitting had nothing to do with it, obviously.

                    • On The Farm

                      Ah I knew I was missing something from my equation. The fact that the Giants averaged more runs/game than the Tigers normally allowed per game just was making too much sense to be true.

                • bbmoney

                  It’s all about making it to the playoffs. Then the sample sizes are small enough that it’s largely random.

                  Having great pitching helps. having a great offense helps. having great talent in general helps. But in a best of seven its largely about who gets hot (it’s not like Vogelsong or Zito are any good…at least anymore with Zito).

                  • mjhurdle

                    totally agree with this.
                    Playoffs are about who is hot, and having the best lineup or rotation does not foretell who ends up winning all the time.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      It helps though…

              • Scotti

                No one here, and no one anywhere, has ever suggested you don’t need to actually have guys in the lineup (and field). Yes, guys will need to score runs (and field the ball). Pitching is still key.

                The reason is that, from a team perspective, a defensive shutout is always a win. 5 runs scored, offensively, often is not a win. 8 runs scored isn’t always a win. And, for that matter, neither is 10 runs. The offense can’t be perfect. Teams have lost scoring 20 runs. Pitchers/defences can be perfect by simply shutting out the opposition (no need for a no-hitter, perfect game or a lot of K’s).

                When you’re in the playoffs the other team likely has good/great pitching as well. That doesn’t mean the offense is more important. Take away your good/great pitching and you stand little chance.

                Parenthetically, a good example would be What makes a professional model–good looks or hard work? Hard work might get you longevity but you don’t even get hired without good looks. Same with pitching and the playoffs. If your pitching isn’t pretty you don’t get the job. Conversely, the prettier your pitching is, the more grace your offense gets if it shows up late and strung out on heroin.

                • C. Steadman

                  Here are the past ten champions and where they ranked Runs per game on offense and runs per game defense in the MLB(im not arguing either way..just put these together real quick because your argument got my curiousity going)
                  Champ R/G Bat R/G Pitch
                  2012 Giants 12th 8th
                  2011 Cardinals 5th 15th
                  2010 Giants 17th 2nd
                  2009 Yankees 1st 15th
                  2008 Phillies 9th 5th
                  2007 Red Sox 4th 1st
                  2006 Cardinals 14th 10th
                  2005 White Sux 13th 5th
                  2004 Red Sox 1st 14th
                  2003 Marlins 17th 8th

                  • mjhurdle

                    This list makes me hate that 2006 Cardinal team even more….

                    • C. Steadman

                      yeah, they sneak in with a lackluster record and got hot at the right time…

                  • mjhurdle

                    interesting that the Champ had a top 5 offense 4 times, a top 4 pitching staff 4 times, and both only once.

                  • C. Steadman

                    yeah i figured these rankings would be a lot higher than what most of them are…only one team was top 8 in both categories

                  • Eternal Pessimist

                    This completely demonstrates the point…you can win either way, with pitching or hitting providing more of the impact.

                  • Scotti

                    Steadman, remember that teams go to 3-4 man rotations in the playoffs so what a team’s final ERA was is not as important as what they are going into the playoffs with. The 2003 Cubs, for instance, had an excellent 1-4 (Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Clement) and a clunker for a fifth starter (Estes and his 5.73 ERA).

                    Teams can also be impacted by injury/trade/even late free agency whereas they have a starter or two available for the playoffs that they didn’t have for much of the season.

                    • C. Steadman

                      i wasnt using this as any statistical substance…it was a visual aid to my curiousity just to see where the champs stood in the rankings..i just quick threw the numbers together..also i didnt use ERA I used Runs per Game for and Runs per Game against

                • mjhurdle

                  I think both are important, and either can play a role in winning.
                  My only issue is with the myth that somehow pitching is more important.
                  Even with your example of throwing a shutout, if you do not have a lineup capable of scoring against the other teams (probably) above average pitching, then you will simply succeed in having a 20+ inning game that is then decided by who gets a run first off of the other team’s positional player that is pitching.
                  Good hitting gives your pitchers some slack, good pitching gives your hitters some slack.
                  Try to get as much of both as possible. :)

                  • Scotti

                    Yes, get as much as you can. But, again to my reference, no one is suggesting you go in with an offense that can’t score even one run against another team in 20 innings. Even this current line up can do that (it did so just the other day).

                    Re. the “myth:” I think it’s a myth that it’s a myth.

            • mjhurdle

              The Giants would also have been sent packing if they didn’t have a top 10 offense either.

              5th in average, 8th in OBP, 12th in runs scored.
              Just because they didn’t hit a ton of homers doesn’t mean they had a bad offense.

              but that doesn’t support your argument, so we should probably ignore that….

              • On The Farm

                Yeah I guess his blinders work both ways, funny how that works

                • mjhurdle

                  well, first it was the Rays, until that was shot down. then he went to the Giants, but now that well is dry.
                  will be interesting to see what he comes up with next while “deferring to reality”

                  • On The Farm

                    Not to mention he seems to have changed his argument from winning a championship to being 75-56.

        • Jeff

          lol, very true…

          On the farm, sure the Rays have not won it all and you can claim that a lack of hitting has hurt them in the playoffs, but how many times have they made the playoffs in the last six years? how many times have we???

          • mjhurdle

            so your goal is to simply make the playoffs every year and then lose?

            • Pat

              Yes, the goal is to make the playoffs every year. And because there are nine other teams also making the playoffs, most of the time you are going to lose.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              If you make the playoffs every year, then you will win some years. There is no formula for winning in post-season. In general, teams that play poorly in September get eliminated in the first round: but that usually leaves us with 4 good teams that were playing solid ball in the LCS.

              As there is no particular rhyme or reason to who plays well in September, all a GM can do is try to put together a team that makes post-season often enough to be playing well some years.

          • On The Farm

            We haven’t made the playoffs because we had no hitting! Posey was a MVP guy, when is the last time the Cubs have had one of those? Are you getting it yet? You need pitching and hitting. The Cubs pitching staffs have been decent over the last two seasons, but have had terrible offense. You can’t start an argument that we won’t make the playoffs or win a title because of our pitching prospects, but completely ignore how good our pitching has been, and how pathetic our hitting has been.

            • Jeff

              I’m not arguing that we don’t need hitting, but you failed to grasp the point that i am making that we lack any kind of quality pitching…what team has slugged it’s way to a championship alone…it doesn’t happen.

              Wake up and realize the pitching sucks…who cares if in 3 years we can score 6 runs a game when this lousy staff gives up 8 runs a game.

              • On The Farm

                You fail to realize that before Feldman and Garza were traded we had one of the best SP staff, crazy thing is that Shark was the only guy in the rotation to start the year that was a farm product. This FO has done a great job acquiring arms through trades and FA. But again lets just whine about how we don’t have a bunch of top 100 pitching prospects. Actually your whole post about bagging on the Cubs started with whining about how we are “rooting” for a good draft pick, which is where we will get our impact pitching you so desperately want.

                • Jeff

                  But….Fieldman and Garza were traded

                  But….Theo and Jed don’t take pitchers in the first round cause they might get hurt…

                  Chicken or egg…Chicken or egg??

                  Either you draft premium pitching talent in the first round or you don’t..they ether get hurt or they don’t, but you can’t get them in your system if you don’t draft them..

                  Zach Grenkie 6th pick, Clayton Kershaw 7th pick, Matt Harvey 7th pick, need I go on????????

                  • Josh

                    You really wanna use matt Harvey as an argument here?

                  • BT

                    You’re using Matt Harvey as an argument FOR picking pitchers in the first round and to disregard the chance they might get hurt? Really????

                    • Jeff

                      Simple question, who would you rather have? Edwin Jackson or Matt Harvey??

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      I’m guessing Edwin Jackson will help the Cubs more next year than Harvey will help the Mets. Sadly, Harvey may never be the same again.

                    • Jeff

                      I think Edwin Jackson was a horrible signing and made no sense whatsoever. By the time this team is ready to compete he will be past his prime, he already almost is. It was a complete waste of resources. We would have been better off signing more players like Fieldman then flipping them at the trade deadline

                      Example: Liriano short term, flipable

                      Buckle up, it’s going to be a long bumpy ride to even a .500 team

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      Past his prime? He is only 29 and we only have him under contract for 3 more years. We may be a little better in 2014 and downright competitive by 2015 and 2016 when his is 30, 31 and 31…before the big drop-off typically occurs.

                      Not arguing he was a good signing as he doesn’t look like he has good stuff to me.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    A list can be made both ways. Have you ever heard of these guys? Matt Anderson, Kris Benson, Paul Wilson & Brien Taylor. They were all #1 overall picks. Just because you came up with some good pitchers taken at the top doesn’t mean that all pitchers take there make it. Hitters have a much better success rate than pitchers do and the last couple of years we have not been in a position where we could afford to miss.

                    • BT

                      Someone else came up with another great list: Pawelek, Simpson, Hagarty. Those are all good examples of first round pitcher picks that didn’t work out, and that poster was pretty adamant that he was tired of the Cubs drafting guys like that. Who was it that posted that again? Oh wait, that was JEFF.

                    • Jeff

                      Who has a better long term chance of making it? Mark Appel or Rob Zastryzny??

                      I’m not saying that pitchers don’t have a greater risk of breaking down and never making it.

                      What I am saying is that the Verlanders, Scherzers, Cains, Maumgarners, Grenkie, Kershaws of the world are not drafted in the third and fourth rounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Now, that is funny.

                    • Jeff

                      I never said i was tired of the Cubs drafting those players…i think they chose the wrong ones, but the Cubs have always chosen the wrong ones for years, that’s not new.

                      The point that premium talent is taken in the first round is proven by statistics. That’s something too many on here are taken from granted.

                      Sorry, there aren’t too many Greg Maddux’s in the second round anymore, the art of scouting is vastly improved.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      … and the front office’s point is that if you are going to spend your money as efficiently as possible (e.g. the highest likelihood of an impact at the major league level), then it makes the most sense to sign a position player with your first/highest bonus pick and fill out the rest of the draft with pitchers.

          • C. Steadman

            Rays have made it three times in last six years…Cubs twice…but yes Rays did make it to a World Series

    • mjhurdle

      the Chicago White Sox are top 7 in most pitching categories in the American League.
      the Chicago Cubs are top 7 in most pitching categories in the National League.
      the New York Mets are top half of most pitching categories in the National League.

      How is that working for them?

      To quote someone i read on Fangraphs once….
      “pitching wins championships, as long as you can also hit”.

      • Patrick W.

        What’s the difference between being top 7 and top half of a league? If you’re in the top half, you necessarily are in the top 7 and vice versa. If you’re 8th you are are both in the top half and the bottom half, or neither in both halves.

        • wilbur

          Well, sure but it’s still better to be half right, than half right half the time.

    • TheDondino

      It’s not just added depth in the minors (of which we do have), they’ve added impact players in the minors. True, none of them as of yet are pitcher, though C.J. Edwards is looking the part, but we have arguably the best collection of impact talent in the minors. Baez, Bryan, Soler and Almora (maybe even Alcantara) are all very high-ceiling, impact type prospects that we haven’t seen in a long while. We haven’t seen singular players like that in a long while in the Cubs system, let alone a cluster of them.

    • aaronb

      Bravo!!!!! Well said sir

    • Part of the Core

      Since Theo and Jed joined the Cubs, they’ve done exactly what they said they were going to do. They’ve haven’t deviated one bit.

      Regarding pitching, they said that they attack it with volume, whereas position players, the ‘impact’ ones are found in the early rounds. Also, this is what the ‘statistics’ say about drafted players’ success rates. So, after saying this in the early days of their regime, this is precisely what they’ve done in their first two drafts.

      So, for 2014, you can pretty safely bet a months paycheck that they’re going to draft the best available position player in round 1 and then draft 15 pitchers in the next 19 rounds.

      I know, pretty boring, or at least not as exciting knowing that a potential top quality pitcher is going to be passed in the first round.

      • CubsFaninMS

        I agree. I’m looking for one or two of our drafted/acquired pitchers to really shine next year. Edwards, Pineyro, Hendricks, and Johnson have shined already (albeit Pineyro in a short sample size). I wonder who will rise up next year? I like Zastryzny and hope we can see him pitching for the Smokies in late 2014 (if he REALLY shines) or 2015.

  • Mike Joyce

    Out-sucking the Cubs? Good luck, other baseball teams wanting a higher draft position. While I think a top 10 pick is the safer choice I don’t see us falling out of a top 5 pick, no way.

  • On The Farm

    “you can argue all you want on how we have added depth in the minors, but depth doesn’t equal quality.”

    What do you mean depth doesn’t equal quality. The way I see it the Cubs have both. They have a deep system, AND they have four prospects that are ranked in the top 30ish. If that isn’t quality, I don’t know what is.

    • Jeff

      Pitching prospects, not hitting prospects, sure we have 4 top hitting prospects but our overall pitching sucks.

      We lack quality future starters or impact bullpen arms. Nobody in this system is causing scouts to rave over their performances when it comes to pitching.

      Jeff Samardzija is the only Cubs pitcher I get excited about….that’s it

      • On The Farm

        Clearly you haven’t read any mid-season reports on CJ Edwards, who is gaining momentum, some have him in a top 50, and I think Sickels has him in his top 75. Pair that with 2012 draft pick Johnson who is a top 150 and you have good pitching prospects. Hendricks is starting his ascent into prospect-hood as well, but you just ignore the up and comers if you want.

        • Jeff

          You mention three guys who are no where near the top ten let alone within the top 50.

          Keep dreaming your dream, put on your blinders, argue your points..I defer to reality, sorry if the truth hurts your Cubbie pride.

          • mjhurdle

            there is something funny about a guy who thinks the 2012 Giants had no offense telling other people they are wearing blinders.

          • On The Farm

            Um, I said that CJ Edwards is a top 75 (I did mention he was a top 50 by one site, because Brett posted it yesterday so…yeah) Johnson I said was a top 150, and Hendricks is still a late riser. So I am not sure where all this top 10 and top 50 talk came from, but you are acting like there is not pitching talent when there are three decent guys in the system.

          • Eric

            If you think the team lacks a couple of potential impact bullpen arms then you don’t know the system very well.

            Pierce Johnson and CJ Edwards are both potential quality future starters that will likely start in AA next year. No, we don’t have a projected #1 right now but not a lot of teams do. That is likely the front office’s biggest challenge.

          • Joel

            Jeff, you’re the one who puts on blinders and doesn’t recognize some of the talent this group has acquired. You say you get excited when Shark pitches, but I get excited when I see guys like Edwards and Hendricks pitch in the minors and see how well they do. Whether they make it to the majors is up to them, but how can you completely ignore them and assume they’ll flare out in the majors

            • Jeff

              I will get excited when I see them in the majors, doing the same to major league hitters, I’ve seen my fair share of Patterson’s, Pie, Pawelek, Simpsons, Johnson’s, Hagerty’s etc who played well in the minors but never made it to the big leagues.

              The proof is in the pudding…don’t count your juvenile poultry till the process of incubation is complete.

              Nobody in the minor leagues is a sure bet, that all have risk associate with them. sure it is great to look at an increased talent pool, but if you’ve been a fan of the game, you must realize that most of these guys flame out and never make it.

              The last time we drafted a can’t miss pitching prospect was Mark Prior and look at what happened to his career..at we least we drafted him. Nobody in our minors comes close to that level of performance, we haven’t had a top tier pitching prospect in years.

              Sorry, the hitting prospects look good, but we are far off when it comes to pitching. And the free agent route and trade routes have been severely limited with the changing CBA, sorry it’s just a reality.

              I don’t see the Cubbies with rose colored glasses, I see them for what they are…

              • Eric

                Does your logic of only getting excited about players until they perform in the majors also carry over to hitters? Because our SP has not been the problem this year and our offense has been horrendous. Your logic is not at all consistent here.

                • Jeff

                  Eric, nobody needs to make an argument that the hitting sucks, just watch a game. I know everybody is excited about our hitting prospects, who wouldn’t be…our best player is Javier Baez in AA!!!

                  I’m just pointing out that we are in my humble opinion deficient in Quality pitching.

                  We have added to our depth but we lack in pure talent, the talent that we need to compete for a championship.

                  We have two pitchers in our top ten, spots 6 & 7, Vizcaino who has been nothing but hurt since we got him and Pierce, who is only at A ball and one of our few bright spots.

                  Sure Edwards is great, but experts better than you or anybody on this blog don’t even put him in our own top 10…yet, maybe he will move up, but maybe he will blow out his arm next year in AA. You don’t know, the only thing that overcomes injuries is having depth…we still lack quality depth in pitching.

                  Until we have 5 out of the ten spots filled with premium pitching prospects, we shouldn’t get all excited. preferably with them being in the 1 to 5 slots as to being in the back end.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    Just because they aren’t in our top 10 doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t good. All it proves is that our system is uneven with the position players being better.

                  • hansman1982

                    You’re right. There I said it, you heard it.

                    The Cubs don’t have a Stephen Strasburg in the minors. There are about 20 teams in the same boat. What the Cubs have focused on is acquiring the best players possible. If that means we don’t have a Trevor Bauer or some other top-pitching prospect that my mind is blanking on, so be it.

                    The goal is to assemble the most talent possible on one team. So far, the Cubs FO has done a pretty good job of that in the minors.

                  • C. Steadman

                    the reason CJ isnt in our Top 10 is b/c we have a strong system and he was a 48th rounder who is underrated..he’s producing in his 2nd pro season and will move up our board in the offseason…possibly top 10

              • Jason

                Pawalek was so mis-handled. He liked a pitching regimine of throwing every day–at least long toss. He was hard headed and we were worse. Only allowed on mound about every 4th to 5th day and he was lost. Kid had a left arm with natural movement and we lost out on 3 mill. and then he spent all of it later. One of many bad stories that takes place in the naked city.

              • CubsFaninMS

                I agree. The fact that every reputable source ranks the Cubs farm system in the Top 5 in the MLB shows how horrible the front office has done. You do realize they’ve acquired Pineyro, Arrietta, Hendricks, Black, and Leal right? They’ve also drafted Zastryzyny, Clifton, and Johnson. These potential ace #1 types don’t exactly grow on trees. How many “Mark Priors” are there in the Majors? Maybe 10? That’s the combination of the competetive drafting efforts of 30 Major League teams over the past 15 years. Perhaps we should exercise a little patience and see how it unfolds. And who’s to say one of the power arms mentioned above won’t have a better career WAR than Prior?

                • cub2014

                  (Drafting pitchers in 1st round)

                  NL top 15 pitchers:
                  8- 1st round picks, 3- undrafted
                  7- 1st rounders with original team
                  AL top 15 pitchers:
                  3- 1st round picks. 7- undrafted
                  2- 1st rounders with original team
                  all the rest any where from 25th round and up

          • Eternal Pessimist

            Jeff,
            you are forgetting that the top prospects list includes the pitchers and fielders.
            A top 50 overall prospect may be a top 25 pitching prospect. a top 20 pitching prospect may be top 10.

            And if you would just realize that you can win with preventing OR making runs you would realize that the overall prospect quality bodes well for the Cubs future…even if our pitching doesn’t lead the way.

            I suspect the near future Cubs team’s offense will be more responsible than their pitching for winning games and challenging for playoff spots…we are just set-up that way.

      • Senor Cub

        Gilrs, Girls, Girls…now

        Let me break this down, 1-0 wins a game just as much as 10-9 wins a game. All you need is to score one more run then your opponent. At the end of the day you need both pitching and hitting. Now settle down and enjoy the rest of this “next year”.

  • Tim

    Let’s just keep losing and turn our Big 4 into a Big 5.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      Prediction: By the time of next year’s draft, our Big 4 will be the Big 3, due to promotion. This pick will just be replenishment.

      Prediction #2: By this time next year, two more players will join the ‘almost Big 3. Look for Edwards and P. Johnson to join our top 5.

      • On The Farm

        There is a chance that by the end of next year three of our Big 5 reach the majors (Baez, Alcantara, and Bryant by August) with Soler in AA, and Almora in A+. I would say by 2015 at least our prospects looks like Baez, Alacantara, and Bryant are in the majors. Soler is a mid-to-late season call up. Almora and Vogelbach are in AA, and Johnson, Edwards, Wells, Pinyero, and Black are all in AAA, and another (#3 pick in the 2014 draft) on the way. If 2015 is truly the opening of our window it looks like the plan is working. We could add three players to the core of Castro and Rizzo. After the deadline we would have the ability to call up Soler, and any of our pitching prospects (some to be used in a starting role, some out of the pen). Also anyone who is in Kane County or Daytona could be come trade chips, and we seem to have a good amount of talent that a few trade chips should emerge from those teams.

  • Robert Johnson

    I want the Cubs to win every game. I think the best fans are the ones still rooting with 2 outs in the 9th when the Cubs are losing 5-0.

    • JUICED1

      I want the cubs to win every game and finish with the worst record. I know it makes no sense but having another top three draft pick would really set us up. Maybe we can finally have that legit ace in our system.

      • Cyranojoe

        This. ^ ^ ^

    • Jono

      I’ve never wanted the cubs to lose and I’ve never been disappointed with a win. But wanting a top pick simply makes losing much much much easier and actually provides something of value.

  • Chris

    Whomever the Cubs get in the first round of next years draft is gonna be awesome. I like day dreaming about possible players but it’s so premature to assume who it’s going to be. I like the idea of adding an ace pitcher to the system or a top offensive catcher…but really…whatever they get from a top 5 pick will be awesome.

  • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

    I remember Brett saying book it Cubs will have a better record then the Brewers, that was a couple weeks ago. At the I said those words always come back to bite people in the ass. Again you have to score to win no matter how good the rotation is. Don’t bet the Cubs out of second either passing the Marlins

    • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

      Sorry, at that time I meant

  • Eternal Pessimist

    “but if the Cubs go something like 19-10 over their last 29″

    Good one Brett…you almost had me.

    • Jono

      that was pretty funny

  • When the Music’s Over

    This front office has proven that when they decide winning is not in the best long term interest of the franchise, they aren’t bashful about putting the team in the best possible position to lose, just so long as the byproduct doesn’t directly impact long term growth.

  • cubsin

    Two points need mentioning:

    1. The Cubs would win the tie-breaker (worse 2012 record) against everybody except the Astros. Any other team that ties the Cubs would draft after them.

    2. Having a protected first-round pick only adds value if you actually sign a free agent requiring compensation.

    • gocatsgo2003

      On point #2 — while true, that’s if the pick is considered only on the basis of protection, not the other benefits (increased pool money, etc.).

  • Eternal Pessimist

    Unfortunately, IMO, this years FA class doesn’t seem to line up well with Cubs needs and future projections. I don’t even think I would waste the 2nd round pick.

  • Jono

    Go White Sox!

  • Jason

    Jackson has been a .500 pitcher for many years–regardless of his many teams. I would guess by the time he leaves here he will seek that level again. The mystery is this guy has pretty good movement and pitching coaches like that.

    • C. Steadman

      warning..dont use W-L or Winning PCT in arguing a pitchers worth or you’ll get attacked

  • Jason

    Used to it. I’ll live with it because at the end of the day when your name is forever in The Baseball Encyclopedia and your grandkids read it–

    • DarthHater

      Wait a minute. People still read the Baseball Encyclopedia?

      • Jason

        I have memorized it up to the w’s. Hope to go to baseball heaven.

        • C. Steadman

          so Dyersville, Iowa then?

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Pitcher most likely to have success quickly in the majors fro the draft class of 2014 will be LSU’s Aaron Nola. Some scouts do not like his frame 6’3″ 180. But the kid has been great in the SEC since day 1 and his K/BB ratio is ridiculously fantastic. He throws his fastball in the low 90’s with heavy sink action and keeps his pitch count down by pounding the strike zone and working fast. He will be available when the Cubs pick no matter where they finish.
    Rodon and Beede get all the ink but I believe Nola will be in the majors by sometime in 2015 just like Wacha has done it in St. Louis.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      Lou, I would hope being fastest to the majors is NOT the reason the Cubs draft a guy. Best. Player. Available.

  • Jon

    I don’t know if this has been discussed, but any interest in Danny Espinosa?

    http://www.federalbaseball.com/2013/8/28/4668894/nationals-rumors-looking-to-trade-danny-espinosa-scott-boras

    He was a 3+ win player the past two seasons prior to this and is still only 26.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Not a bad “buy low” type candidate, but what would we be willing to trade for a guy who essentially duplicates Valbuena and/or Watkins? Luis probably won’t command much money in arbitration and he’s at least a known quantity while Watkins could earn a shot on the bench coming out of spring next year.

      Overall thought: he doesn’t seem all that different from the options we already have in-house and we don’t have to trade anyone to find out what they can do. Doubt it would be worth the cost.

  • Bilbo161

    Looking at the early Mock drafts and top 2014 talent lists there does ot seem to be any left handed bats in the top 10. In the absence of that I think the Cubs might actually go for a pitcher in round one. Of course, its very early yet for these type of predictions but fun.

    • macpete22

      They’ll draft the best available regardless what position or if he’s left handed or not IMO. I’d rather have 7 Righties with a good line up than 5 with an ok lineup

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Well, the Cubs severe underperformance early (especially in May) might pay off! If you went by net OPS, then the Cubs don’t get a protected pick:

    ∆OPS Team
    -0.122 Houston
    -0.085 Miami
    -0.065 Minnesota
    -0.052 Philadelphia
    -0.043 NY Yankees
    -0.041 San Diego
    -0.040 Seattle
    -0.029 Chicago Sox
    -0.029 Toronto
    -0.028 NY Mets
    -0.023 San Francisco
    -0.021 Chicago Cubs
    -0.010 Milwaukee
    -0.009 Colorado
    -0.009 Kansas City
    -0.006 Arizona
    -0.003 LA Angels
    -0.001 Baltimore
    0.005 Washington
    0.022 Cleveland
    0.039 Cincinnati
    0.041 Oakland
    0.046 Texas
    0.052 LA Dodgers
    0.055 Pittsburgh
    0.057 Tampa Bay
    0.058 St. Louis
    0.060 Atlanta
    0.067 Boston
    0.111 Detroit

    As is typical, over 80% of variation in winning percentage is expressed here. The variation in ranks is a bit worse: but that’s simply because so many teams are bunched in the standings. Only the Tigers and Yankees deviate further from expectations than the Cubs, the Tigers on the negative and the Yanks on the positive.

  • Jono

    Brett Myer was released by the indians. Would he be a buy low situation? Would the cubs have to pay him a lot of money?

    • bbmoney

      I don’t normally consider much off the field stuff. But I don’t like wife beaters, I pretty much label them as bad people. One of the few blanket statements I’m cool with.

      • jono

        Oh, I had no idea that he had those types of issues. Character does matter.

  • Die hard

    Brett — you argued the case for why Sveum was hired over Sandberg as the latter would rather die than lose like the great mgrs such as Alston, Lopez, Durocher, Pinella et al… But can anyone make the argument for keeping Sveum after this year? He’s not a motivator or an educator. He can’t maneuver so as to have a chance to win each game. With the pitching being more than enuf to win over half the games then why hasn’t he found a way to
    mfg runs? He doesn’t think three moves ahead and at best is slow to react to game situations. So the Cubs get a higher draft choice with Sveum? That is small consolation for the damage to the desire to win of the current 40 and those behind them.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Diehard, only you can provide the bellyfire to push the Cubs from the 65 wins they will get this year to the 66 wins you want out of this club. I hope Sveum is around another 10 years just to drive you nuts. I have been a Cubs fan my whole life. I have endured losing and then losing in the most miserable ways. Watching your meltdown at the thought of the Cubs not playing with the Bellyfire you think they should have outside of some STDs is priceless. To think of it, I have yet to see a club run through the walls in the dugout to please you. The bellyfire has been sapped out of MLB. Diehards for generations will never be able to experience the Bellyfire you did in your time. Just a heads up though. It wasn’t bellyfire. It was roid rage.

      • Die hard

        Ron Santo Nellie Fox Don Kessinger Luis Aparicio Shawn Dunston Glenn Beckert all overcame deficiencies to make Chicago proud– you’re right … The horizon looks bleak

  • Sean T

    Interesting: Keith Law compares Anthony Rizzo to Brandon Belt…. I hope to god Rizzo will eventually surpass Belt. If all we get is Belt for that contract extension then that contract extension doesn’t look great anymore.

    • Sean T

      He spoke on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN Podcast.

      Here’s the link (57mins in): http://espn.go.com/espnradio/chicago/play?id=9613564

    • Die hard

      I see Rizzo upside equal to Votto… Just a little more discipline to work better counts will realize that potential … Is probably best move by FO

      • Hansman1982

        His minor league stats did beat Votto’s

      • Sean T

        I’m sorry but Rizzo will probably never be on Votto’s level. Maybe his glove will be but not the bat. Plus Votto’s batting eye and plate discipline are amazing. Rizzo is good but not on that level

        • Hansman1982

          At the same age Rizzo is now, Votto was just breaking into the league.

          • Sean T

            I just don’t think Rizzo will hit for as of an Batting Avg, OBP as Votto. I think Rizzo still has a high upside and actually has just as much power and maybe even more power Votto.

            Overall I just don’t see Rizzo being able to hold his own the way Votto does against Lefties either.

          • Sean T

            Hansman: Do you see Rizzo consistently having a +.300 batting avg, and .400 OBP, year in and year out a few years from now?

            I’m not trying to question your opinion, but I just want to gauge what type of number you think he’ll put up in his prime years?

            I personally don’t see Rizzo consistently be a .300 batting avg guy.

            • MichiganGoat

              Well the first problem is worrying about his batting average.

              • Sean T

                Goat: What do you see Rizzo’s numbers being a few year from now? .300BA or .400OBP guy?

                • Sean T

                  I get Batting Average isn’t the best stat but its simple. I think Rizzo’s been unlucky this year with his BABIP and other things.

                  I’m not one of those people that thinks Rizzo’s a lost cause but I’m not sure he’ll be the great star everyone thought he’d be. Still plenty of upside though

                  • MichiganGoat

                    It’s not simple it a very poor and archaic way to measure a batters success.

                  • hansman1982

                    The problem with BA is that, for individual players, it is one of the worst stats to indicate true talent and doesn’t correlate as well as others year over year.

                • MichiganGoat

                  I doubt either of those not am I expecting a player to have those numbers, but I do see Rizzo being a wOBA guy of .360+ be around .800+ OPS guy.

                  • hansman1982

                    Ick, even Derrek Lee isn’t a good comp at this stage in Rizzo’s career.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Those numbers are more of my floor for Rizzo which would still result in a successful MLB career.

                    • hansman1982

                      I meant that as more of a reply to myself. Lee was bad his first 3 years in the league.

                      Honestly, I fully expect a couple years of > .900 OPS out of Rizzo.

            • hansman1982

              I ran a few numbers last week to see where Rizzo would sit with a normal BABIP (.290ish) and the OPS was .850-ish.

              I think he is be VERY capable of posting a couple seasons of OPS over 1.000 and he broke into the league a full year younger than Votto with similar minor league stats. Their BB and K % through ~1100 PA are remarkably similar.

              Basically, if someone from the future came to me and said that Rizzo ended up being a better hitter than Votto, I would not be shocked. I don’t think it will happen and I think he will be more Derrek Lee, though.

  • JeffR

    I’m curious how people view the seasons of guys like dillon Maples, Duane Underwood and Paul Blackburn Obviously they’ve been somewhat sporadic, but also proven they can get guys out when they are on. So good year, disappointing year, or a so-so year? Obviously they all 3 have potential to be at least middle of the rotation guys, but certainly aren’t dominating low A ball right now.

  • Tank McMahan

    I don’t care what any of you say, this is what a human being calls a disappointing season. And where are the pillars on the major league level? I’m a patient man but this is like watching Jay Leno drive his Yugo to work when he has an airplane hanger full of classic cars. At some point these guys are just mocking us for being gullible and having expendable incomes.

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