chicago cubs logoFootball is officially back, with the Broncos stomping the Ravens last night – in Denver, since the Orioles/White Sox game in Baltimore booted the reigning Super Bowl champs westward. I’m glad that the baseball and football seasons are generally staggered – they are my two favorite sports to watch.

  • ESPN once again ranked each of the 30 MLB organizations in an overall way that considers not only the makeup of their current team – the Cubs would not fare well – but also the state of their farm system, their finances, their management, and how much they could improve in the near-term. The rankings purport to be a “futures” ranking of the organizations best equipped to have success over the next five years. The Cubs came in at number 6, ahead of every team in the NL Central … except the Cardinals, who are number 1 overall. Naturally. The Cubs’ ranking is particularly impressive when you consider that their present team is among the worst ranked on the list, and that is one of the most heavily-weighted factors. Picking nits? The Cardinals’ minor league system is rated higher than the Cubs’, and I don’t think too many rankings services will be thinking that come the offseason. All in all, if the Cubs prove to be the sixth best team in baseball, overall, over the next 5 to 10 years, I think I’d be pretty happy with that. That’s a whole lot of playoff appearances.
  • … of course, ESPN might be a little generous in projecting the team’s financial advantages in the next five years. (*ducks*)
  • Marc Hulet at MLBTR put together a prospect all-star team, and, once again, the Cubs are nicely represented. Although they placed no pitchers on this one, Javier Baez took the spot at shortstop (over an absurdly talented crew at the position), Dan Vogelbach took first base (in part because of a lack of top prospects at the position), and Kris Bryant was mentioned as the likely successor at third base to Miguel Sano (though both could be in the big leagues by next year).
  • Tom Ricketts must be checking out each of the Cubs’ affiliates in the playoffs, because the Tribune caught up with him at AA shortly after the Sun-Times spoke with him at High-A. There’s not really anything new in the Tribune piece, though I think it’s nice that he’s checking out the minor league teams this time of year.
  • Javier Baez is the face of the Cubs’ successful minor league development this year.
  • Outfielder Dave Sappelt cleared waivers after being DFA’d this week, and was outrighted to AAA Iowa.
  • A long write-up on Kevin Gregg, who has been solid for the Cubs this year, and remains one of the biggest 2013 surprises.
  • macpete22

    Thanks as always Brett. Here’s to hoping we don’t have another situation in the comments like there was yesterday

  • Eternal Pessimist

    I would bet an uninjured Soler would have made Hulet’s outfield list.

  • Berselius

    #6org :/

    • macpete22

      In just 2 years, that’s a good thing. We’ll have another top 5 pick and will continue to add more talent

    • terencemann

      @Berselius, what I thought, too. LOL.

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

    I read the Gregg writeup with great interest. I’m having a hard time imagining the Cubs offering Gregg anything other than a minor league contract next year. It’s debatable wether or not he deserves more than that from anyone, but signing him to a real deal certainly doesn’t seem to fit into the Cubs plan. I suppose MAYBE a one year deal at low money, hoping that if he does pitch well in the front half of 14 he could be traded for something. But considering the lack of takers this year, I’m doubting that’s even possible.

    And if he has no future with the club, why is he still pitching at all, especially in save situations? Shouldn’t Strop or Parker get every save opportunity from here on out?

    • ssckelley

      No way Gregg just gets a minor league deal next year. If the Cubs do not want him there are plenty of teams in need of a closer that will take a shot on Gregg. But if the Cubs do resign him it does not mean he is locked into the closer role next year.

      • Jason

        Kevin Gregg will probably be elsewhere but with a pretty good payday. He sure did not get much respect from fans but memories are long.

      • CubsFanSaxMan

        Gregg may not be pitching with the Cubs, but he will be pitching somewhere in the majors, probably for as much money as his agent can get for him. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as the 8th inning guy for the Cubs, setting things up for Strop. I believe that “most of the time” that would be a pretty good combination for Cub wins.

    • wax_eagle

      My guess is that he’s still pitching because the Cubs are nice and want to see him succeed so he can go get a contract somewhere next year. They don’t really have much to lose by letting him continue to close games. Sure it’d be great to see some younger guys in save situations, but ultimately the capital they gain from letting him have a resurgent comeback year is probably worth the slight loss of game experience for a couple of fringe bullpen arms.

  • chrisfchi

    Thank god Payton Manning put on a highlight show last night. Needed that winfir the confidence pool

    • Brett

      And thank goodness that Denver cornerback dropped his pick-6 before he got into the endzone. Oh, no, wait … I have Denver’s defense in both of my leagues. Thanks for costing me six points, jerk.

      • Mr. Brent Kennedy

        I was thinking the same as I have Denver’s D in both my leagues. Then again, I do have P. Manning and D. Thomas in both leagues as well. Winner winner chicken dinner.

      • willis

        Ha, in my bigger money league I’m going against Denver’s D. I screamed “F NO!” and then squealed loudly, all in about 3 seconds of time. This FF world simply makes us all insane.

        • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

          Same here my money league I played against a guy this week that has Manning, Welker and Broncos D starting. Dude has 78 points just in those 3 so far. I still have hope though of a come back

          • willis

            Either Baltimore’s defense blows, which I find hard to believe, or Peyton Manning and his crew are unstoppable. Which if that’s the case, I’m afraid we’re all going to be giving the trophy to whoever the person is with Peyton on their team.

            • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

              That offense looked unstoppable last night. But honestly Manning after the first quarter hardly saw any pressure. He’s to good to give him that much time

            • Coop

              I think Baltimore’s D blows a little bit. They weren’t great last year, even though everyone loved to hype Ray Lewis. They looked old, slow, and out of shape last night.

      • chrisfchi

        Ouch. I have my hometown bears D in my league. I hope they still play that pick&score game that’s made them famous

      • figgelbert

        I have Denver in 3 leagues but benched them for all three.
        If ever managers want to win leagues and point titles they need to stream defenses for match ups.
        Except for those rare dominant d’s which really arn’t around anymore.
        I went with Indy in 2 leagues and Tampa in 1 instead of Denver
        Next week is a bad match up for Denver too.NYG’S

        Total pts is a free year in almost every league i play in so it’s a must streaming D’s all year.

      • brandon.t

        Beats having Peyton and not starting him :'(

        • ThereWillBeCubs

          Considering Manning gets drafted within the top 3 rounds of almost every league, if you benched Peyton Manning for another QB then:
          1) you wasted a draft pick
          2) you wasted a roster spot
          3) your evaluation of defensive match-ups is flawed

  • jon

    Man, imagine if we could have got Odor out of the Garza deal. Cubs would have had three reps on the team.

  • ncsujuri


    I had started a discussion on the message board yesterday about these rankings. I was actually surprised that our total ranking was lower now than it was preseason even though the overall spot in the rankings was #6 both times.

  • jon

    The Rays literately have ZERO first base prospect in their system. James Loney is a FA at the end of this year. Is there anyway we can use Vogelbach, along with some other pieces to nab Price(without giving up Baez or Bryant?)

    • jon

      Does Vogelbach, Alcantara, and Pierce Johnson get it done? They are pretty pitching heavy at the top, so if they balk, I might even consider Vogelbach, Almora, and Alcantara. Thats a pretty damn impressive package.

      • willis

        I think the cubs would have to throw two young arms in there…so I think Vogelmomb, Alcantara, Johnson and maybe Cabrera…plus one mid to low level guy would get them listening.

        Also, if Vizcaino is proven healthy in the Fall league, he could be dangled in a deal like that and hold a ton of weight on the cubs side.

        • hansman1982

          Vogel-MOMB? Is there a clever yo-momma joke in there?

          • willis

            Haha, hungover typing at its best I suppose. I’m dumb.

            • miggy80

              that makes two of us

      • Brett

        You don’t get Price without one of the Big Four. I just don’t see it.

        • Good Captain

          Nor should the Cubs consider it absent coming to an agreement on an extension w/ Price first.

        • Chad

          And Bryant can’t be traded this year since he was just drafted I believe. I don’t see anyway the cubs trade Baez, I just don’t see it. If they want to part with Soler or Almora I am ok with that. But if they believe in those guys then that’s fine by me.

          • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

            I would choose Soler to trade over Almora. Here would be my offer.
            Soler, Vogelbach, Alcantara or Olt and Blackburn. Good news is the Rays are so pitching prospect heavy that they need the offense and nobody has more then the Cubs Overall I believe.

            • Cyranojoe

              That’s a lot of faith that Price isn’t having problems that will linger…

            • Kyle

              Soler’s contract makes trading him in a traditional prospect for talent deal pretty much impossible.

              • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

                Yeah how is that. Just curious his contract was 9 years 30 million so how does it make it impossible

              • Jason P

                Wasn’t a good portion of that paid already in the form of a bonus when the contract was signed?

    • ssckelley

      They can’t have Bryant anyway until after next Junes draft. The Rays could be interested in Vogelbach but it would take more than just him to get it done. If I am the Rays the deal starts with Baez.

      • wilbur

        I don’t trade Baez, but if the rays are serious about a trade then I think Castro and/or shark should be on the table too with some of the minor leaguers mentioned above. Price has what, two years until free agency? Marlins can’t afford to wait too long if they want to trade him for max value. In another year teams may decide to just wait and try and sign him as a free agent, I dont’ think the cubs will trade one of the “big four”, unless they get a high draft pick this year and are able to select a player they like better as a prospect, so they’d just be trading one of the “big five” then..

        • cub2014

          I think Price will be FA after 2014. So include
          Soler (with Bryant he is expendable) and
          Blackburn and fill in from there. 2 more of
          this group based on there needs: Grimm,
          that should be close to getting it done.

          • ssckelley

            Bryant cannot be traded until after next June’s draft.

            I would not be so quick to give up Soler either, just because he was hurt people tend to write him off. He may end of being the best of the “big 4”.

            • Chad

              I don’t think anyone is giving up on him, but I think people see him as being the best available for trade value out of the Big 4. I personally think it is Almora, but not sure the FO will give him away yet. I would be more inclined to send them Castro than any of the Big 4, and no I’m not a hater of Castro, I just believe that he has more value to the cubs as a trade chip. I have for a few years.

            • Coop

              Soler’s contract may be a bit of a turnoff for acquiring teams, too.

              • Jim L.

                Exactly, everyone keeps forgetting this when making proposals. Tampa and Miami (for Stanton) are probably not going to take on much salary when they will have so many suitors.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Also, every team has firstbase prospects by proxy: you can move almost any position player there. OK, he might not remind anybody of Keith Hernandez with a glove, but just as long as he doesn’t remind you of James Loney with the bat, then it’s a plus!

      It might seem to be a crazy thing is that TB has done a great job of developing good bats for “skill” positions, but they never seem to have two more for 1B and DH. However, many of the Rays’ “plus” skill position hitters are below-average 1B or DH hitters; and as free-agents price themselves largely on TOPPS, not WAR, that makes genuine sluggers expensive. So, maybe Vogelbach would tempt them more than we realize.

      (Baez might, too: but the Rays might also be very afraid of his K rate, as they quietly emphasize OBP.)

  • ssckelley

    When will we know if Bowden cleared waivers? (again)

    • Melrosepad

      According to the DFA Tracker over at MLB trade rumors it has to be resolved by 9/13 but I’m pretty sure it will happen sooner as Sappelt was DFA’d on the 3rd and already outrighted.

  • TheDondino

    Curious on the ESPN futures rankings, why did the Cubs drop about 5 points based on Mobility? Their explanation of mobility: MOBILITY (1/3 weight): Do they have a lot of young, cheap players, or old, immovable guys? Isn’t that the very definition of what the Cubs are these days? Especially when we got out of the Soriano contract (yes we’re paying most of it, but he’s not taking up a spot on the team anymore) the drop from the preseason rankings is hard to understand. I would think removing an immovable “old” guy would raise that ranking, not drop it. No position on this team is blocked other than first and that’s not that immovable. If we want Abreu, we’ll figure out something to do with Rizzo, his contract isn’t a hindrance, other teams would line up to trade for him. Castro isn’t an impediment at SS as he can move to 2B if needed to make room for Baez. We only have 3 definite starters signed for next year and those guys are relatively young and under very good contracts. I see us as being very mobile. That one’s a head-scratcher.

    • Brett

      I had the same question on that one. The Cubs seem a whole lot more mobile – based on their definition – than they were at the start of the year.

    • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

      Because the quality of the immovable piece was Alphonso Soriano who was the best player on the team.

      • TheDondino

        Then that should lower the “Majors” ranking, the ranking of the quality of players on the team right now. It shouldn’t lower the mobility of the team. One of the big reasons to trade Soriano was so that we could be more mobile and allow Junior Lake to see everyday playing time the rest of the year. Other than getting a decent player in return (a surprise) the trade of Soriano was all about increasing mobility.

  • chcfan

    Lol only a Cubs fan would settle for 6th

    • mjhurdle

      Cubs fans, oh, and fans of every team 7th and below

    • DocPeterWimsey

      6th usually gets you into post-season, and if you go into post-season having played well in September, then you have a very good shot at making the LCS, if not the WS.

  • Gutshot5820

    ESPN Power Rankings are worth about as much as Bleacher Report Rankings. Fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • wilbur

    All in all, if the Cubs prove to be the sixth best team in baseball, overall, over the next 5 to 10 years, I think I’d be pretty happy with that. That’s a whole lot of playoff appearances.
    … of course, ESPN might be a little generous in projecting the team’s financial advantages in the next five years. (*ducks*)

    Most would be very pleased with the progress the new owners and team staff have made. That should lead to a lot of playoff appearances, and then if the stars align and a few other pieces fall into place maybe a championship.

    It is less clear how much progress there has been on the team biz side, but as a fan I have less concern about these matters except where they impact wrigley or tickets etc. Fortunately or unfortunately, we have “forensic accountant” beat reporter Wittenmeyer investigating this matter with the same diligence as he does the free buffet in the press room. Soon he will have written the same article enough times to finally make a point however fuzzy. He probably doubles back in the buffet line all the time too before finally taking a seat.

  • miggy80

    Ace love ya love ya show, but Football smh. I don’t want to hear anything about football till after the last pitch of the World Series.

    • TWC

      “I don’t want to hear anything about football till after the last pitch of the World Series.”

      Then you’ve gotta stay off the Twitters (which shouldn’t be a problem for you, as you connect to the internet via Zune…).

      • miggy80

        Hey my Zune had been rocking Evil Friends non stop so take that!
        If you want to make fun of me make fun of my HTC phone.

      • chrisfchi

        They still make zunes? Thought those died with the dodo.

        • miggy80

          $10 bucks unlimited downloads!!! Zune Rocks!

  • http://bn Sacko

    The only tradable pieces (right now) are Vogs and another infielder. I don’t see us trading any pitching for pitching until they are all sorted out.

  • Brains

    We “might” be 6th best in 5 years, but still iffy as a playoff contender? Puke.

    • Brett

      The 6th best team in baseball would be making the playoffs essentially every year. What am I missing? Isn’t that, like, the goal?

      • Brains

        Yes, but that 5 year thing is tough…

        • Stinky Pete

          I don’t think it’s saying, “It will be five years before the Cubs are #6”. I think it’s more of a snapshot of how MLB will look in five years.

          • hansman1982

            My thinking is that, like Castro, the plan is going to explode and half the fans are going to be wondering what in the hell just happened (i.e. still claiming the Cubs suck).

            It’s been my belief that the Cubs team that does win it all is going to be a .500-ish team on paper to start the season, possibly see a slight mid-summer sell-off and then get super hot in September.

            • Brains

              It’s certainly possible if we make some serious inroads on the free agent market. Otherwise we should be prepared to lose another 90+ games next year. You just can’t win due to the law of averages. The team needs about 7 hitters, 2 starting pitchers, and a bench. Tall order for a one year turnaround, but possible if they loosen their platinum encrusted belts long enough to let revenues actually go toward the team.

              • hansman1982

                So this team only has 1 hitter worth anything? Valbuena, Castro, Schierholtz, Rizzo, Castillo all take issues with that. Barney is saying “Ohhhh, yeah”, while doing The Carlton

                • Brains

                  Because that lineup has been so consistent this year…right? I certainly hope you’re right, I’m not in the crew that says lose as much as possible and then get a World Series because you got a draft pick. I think those people are probably emotionally unstable.

                  • hansman1982

                    Ok, then I’m emotionally unstable.

                    I want them to win and I want them in the playoffs; but if the playoffs are out of the question, I would much rather trade away everyone who isn’t going to be around the following season than win a few extra games in August and Sept.

                    I think you have grossly misunderstood those of us who share the “LOOOOOOZEGAMEZTOGETTOPPICK!!!!!!!!” mentality.

                    • Brains

                      Yes but when you trade away your team you move further away from winning and the rebuild is longer. It’s like being pulled out by the ocean current and then paddling toward the sea. We have to be realistic here and assume that Theo had a 2-3 year project stretched out into 7 years. Then we’ll feel less angsty about it. Basically Theo will build a 400 win and 600 loss ratio over those 7 years, then get fired, leaving us with a great farm system.

                    • Stinky Pete

                      You’re still adamant it’s going to take five years for the Cubs to contend?

                    • ssckelley

                      Brains, who did they trade away that makes the rebuild longer? Garza and Feldman were both free agents at the end of this year, if the Cubs really want them back all they have to do is outbid everyone this off season. Soriano was not going to be part of the future plans, Hairston was not worth a crap to begin with and they got a decent looking arm out of him, and the Cubs have better options than DeJesus.

                      The Cubs are coming out of this season in much better shape than they did last year. IMO the Cubs are only a couple of bats and another good starting pitcher away from competing next year.

              • hansman1982

                and my previous statement is not meant to only directed at the 2014 season.

                The FO did a good job of assembling a bunch of guys that, on average, should have played near .500 ball through June this year.

      • Sean

        Some fans expectations are extremely unrealistic. I feel like lots Cubs fans expect a Worldseries in 5 years, and expect Baez, Almora, Soler, and Bryant all to be perennial allstars. I’d take a good playoff run and cross are figures for the best

        • Brains

          What happens if, like 90% of other “former top prospects”, only one or two are sustainably major league caliber? You can’t bank on 20 year olds to win for you into the future. They start by contributing to a good team with older players who provide leadership, and then grow into their roles before leaders themselves. To say that we have four prospects so the future is secure is just fantasy baseball speculation. The reality is that we’ll probably only see one of those guys end up as a permanent fixture of the team.

          Then what?

          • Sean

            Brains: What is your point? I think you misunderstood my point. I don’t think all of the big 4 will pan out. Not sure what your getting at here

            • Brains

              I’m agreeing with you!

  • ajbulls23

    Love to see the Cubs move Castro to right field. Have Castro RF, Lake CF, Bryant LF, Rizzo 1b, Alcantara 2B, Olt 3B, Baez SS, and Castillo C

    • Drew7

      Castro’s bat wouldn’t play in RF

    • MichiganGoat

      Why would you move Castro into a position where his bat loses value? I really want to hear why you want to move him to RF.

      And this lineup is a pure fantasy right?

      • Brains

        This is right, he’s no right fielder. He’s mostly trade fodder at this point, but that could change with a better lineup to support him.

    • Sean

      Castro doesn’t have the power with the bat in order to play RF. If he moves positions it will be to 2nd base. Makes no sense to put him out in Right Field

      • Blublud

        Let me say first, I don’t agree with moving Castro to RF.

        However, if Castro has a bat for SS, Baez for 3B and Bryant for LF/RF, and they are all in the lineup, does it really matter if Castro is in RF, Bryant at 3B and Baez at SS. The point is, if they are all in the lineup, the position, other then trade value, is irrelevant.

  • CGruegs45