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Well, that’s back to back series losses to a couple of the worst teams in the National League, which would probably be more disconcerting if the Cubs weren’t, themselves, one of the worst teams in the National League.

Junior Lake was the Cubs’ offense today with a solo blast. The story, though, was Scott Baker, who was making his Cubs debut after a long, long Tommy John recovery. He sat in the upper-80s with his fastball, and had some nice movement every now and again. He looked the part of a wily veteran, but it’s really hard to judge based on five innings against the Brewers.

Still …

sept 8 box

Full box.

  • Believe in 2015

    I think Lake can become a regular starter in the MLB

    • TOOT

      I know Lake IS a starter. I’m tired of saber stats being reeled off about how he is somehow destined to decline. The guy is th best hitter on our team right now, how can one deny that? To suggest that Rizzo and Castro are saberstatically better than Lake is unbelievable, and I will never buy it.

      • Mr. B. Patient

        Thank God saber stats and saber ninja’s don’t really matter. You have to play the games.

        • TOOT

          I like that Ninja game comparison to Sabermetrics. So true.

      • Kyle

        He can simultaneously be the best hitter on the team right now, destined to decline, and a starter. None of those are mutually exclusive.

        • TOOT

          What’s your point brother?

          • NyN

            I believe he means that he can simultaneously start, be the best hitter on the team, and be destined to decline based on his babip (which is quite unsustainable) all at the same time.

            That being said i love lake and hope he sticks as a big league regular. He has shown these flashes throughout the minor but the bad streaks have cancelled them out. Maybe its time to figure it out

        • N8theGr8

          With this comment I declare my belief that Kyle, in reality, actually has “LOGIC” tatooed on his digits.

      • jt

        Stats math guys should be rigorous in defining that which they study and careful as to the samples they create. They should also leave themselves a bit more wiggle space to indicate that they deal with trends and not written in stone projections.
        But if you want to gain a deeper knowledge of the sport then listen up when they speak. They do have a lot to say that is worth listening to.

      • DarthHater

        Yea! Lake’s unsustainably high BABIP has gone from .372 in July to .378 in August to .571 in September! Suck on that, saber-ninjas! ;-)

        • hansman1982

          Clearly the .372 was unsustainable. It’s only gone up since then.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Lake is clearly trying to take care of the BABIP issue himself by hitting more HRs.

    • TOOT

      If Lake is not a starter in 2014 I will be shocked.

      • Pat

        At this point he’s more or less earned a chance to begin the season as a starter. But keep in mind he has still played less than fifty games at the MLB level.

        • TOOT

          Yes, but he has produced at the MLB level from the start and has not quit. I am a beleiver in that he is the real deal.

          • Pat

            He very well might be. But there is enough in his peripherals and history to question whether he can keep it up. It would be great if he can, because that could lock down center field, but I wouldn’t put money on it just yet. Which doesn’t matter at all. Whatever we get from him is pretty much a bonus as he wasn’t expected to perform this well. Start him next year and see what happens. But there are legitimate reasons to question if he can keep it up, I wouldn’t knock anyone for pointing them out.

          • Starlin Backer

            Add to the performance the athleticism-tremendous. You truly have something to work with here. If he doesn’t start next year, it better be because they picked up 3 OF starters via free agency.

          • Hansman1982

            If Theo and Jed could substitute him for one of the big-4 in a trade for Stanton this offseason, I hope they do.

            There is just too high a probability that what we are seeing out of Lake won’t last in the long term. He may have a good 2014 but to expect him to lock down CF over the forseeable future is, probably not a good bet.

            He has three things working against him, a higher than his career normal BABIP (this indicated he’s had more batted balls fall in for hits than what he has had in the past), an elevated K rate (which indicates a lower than average contact rate and batting eye), and a poor BB rate (poor batting eye which will lead to prolonged slumps of abysmal productivity).

            To put his high-ish contact rate into perspective. Anthony Rizzo, this year, has made contact with 80% of the pitches he has swung at. Lake is at 68%. Throughout Lakes career he has K’d swinging at rates higher than the league average.

            I love his production and these stats in no way claim that he hasn’t been one of the cubs best hitters since his July callup, but to expect this to continue would be setting yourself up for disappointment.

            He remains an intriguing super-utility guy.

            • MichiganGoat

              For these reasons I’d say we’re dreaming to think Lake could ever be a substitute for a Big 4 prospect in a trade for Stanton. He might be a nice addition to get a Stanton and if Almora + Lake could get Stanton would be very impressive. I still think the Marlins will begin and end their discussion with Baez.

              • Hansman1982

                Most likely you are correct; however, even us saber-ninjas can do some unfounded dreaming from time to time.

              • http://It'searly Mike F

                I would trade Castro, Lake and Almora for Stanton and sign Ellsbury. But you may well be right, they would likely demand Baez, but I wouldn’t bite. Baez is a legitimate .270 40 HR hitter in the ML. i wouldn’t want to trade Almora, but that’s likely what it takes for a guy like Stanton or Price. In Price though, I would be concerned about the drop in velocity and what it will take to sign him.

                • TOOT

                  No way in hell I make that trade. And I think Theo would agree.

                • TOOT

                  Rizzo and Castro for big prospects?

                • cub2014

                  Lake has higher babip because he doesnt hit flyballs. Which are mostly outs and heleads the league in bunt singles. Could he decline yes will he decline history says yes but i hope he makes it. The most encouraging thing for me was the hit yesterday to right field

                  • cub2014

                    Remember that kid on the junior high
                    baseball team that every time he saw
                    an off-speed pitch he swung so hard
                    and missed his helmet fell off. That’s
                    what Lake does, if he makes a few
                    changes (hit to the right side, lay off
                    some breaking balls, keep the same
                    swing) he could sustain this success.

                • The Cleanup Poster

                  Then flip Stanton for Castro.

            • TOOT

              What? Then trade Rizzo or Castro before. The probability of those two not cutting it are higher than Lake not cutting it, Facts are right there.

              • http://It'searly Mike F

                So you just said below Castro is seeing his trade value dimmish and now you think Almora, Lake and Castro are far too much? You need to make your mind up. Stanton is a 23 year old premier power hitter. He’s a proven real deal, and I am as high as you can get on Lake, but let’s get real for a moment, If Theo could make that deal I think he would. Lake forced his way into the conversation and is intriguing, but don’t act like that is too much for Stanton, because it simply isn’t. Sure its more quality than the Cubs got for Garza, but there’s a big age difference here and Miami won’t give Stanton away.

                One more thing, while I’m high on Lake, let’s not act like he’s a sure thing, he isn’t. He’s had a nice run, and has plenty of tools. But he will have the time when he has to prove he can adjust and he’s never been a can’t miss prospect.

                • Eternal Pessimist

                  …and Stanton has 3 arb years remaining which is huge. Stanton for those three in a heartbeat.

              • JoeyCollins

                What facts support that? I’d like to see anything that points to Lake having a higher probability of success than Castro. Lake is the same age as Castro and has played 50 games while Castro is a two time All star.

                • hansman1982

                  The facts of life, man, the facts of life.

                  [img]http://www.bittenandbound.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Heartthrob-George-Clooney-in-his-The-Facts-of-Life-days.jpg[/img]

                • TOOT

                  All star?(cough,cough)

                  • hansman1982

                    Who’s the All-Star? Lake?

                    • TOOT

                      Can’t say it’s Castro based on this year. And I would add it’s not coming next year eIther. The guy sucks. Just doesn’t have it.

                    • hansman1982

                      Ok, so we are ignoring Castro’s 2 All-Star bids and his >.800 OPS over the past few weeks and just claiming that Lake is an all-star.

                      Ok.

                  • FullCountTommy

                    Time to play everyone’s favorite game….Delusional or troll??? Or is it both??

  • jkppkj

    How does Grimm get a hold and a loss?

    • jkppkj

      Never mind, inherited runner scores.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Grimm’s stuff is not ML caliber after seeing him in two outings. He will best be used as part of trade package in off season or be stashed in Iowa for next year as insurance in case of injury.

    • caryatid62

      The second part of your first sentence makes it hard to believe the first part of that sentence.

      • mjhurdle

        i don’t always judge pitchers after 2.1 innings, but when i do, i make sure i do it anonymously on the internet.

  • Die hard

    Ought to be a law against these teams playing against each other in Sept if neither is playoff bound- brutal

  • ssckelley

    I was close to calling Bakers performance. The other day when everyone was moaning about Baker starting I predicted 6 shutout innings, he got 5.

  • cubmig

    Was Baker’s “not too bad” showing partly because he’s new to hitters?

    • jt

      “Was Baker’s “not too bad” showing partly because he’s new to hitters?”
      –cubmig
      dunno!
      But you can not under estimate location location location
      I thought he was locating well vs not the greatest hitters.

  • Stevie B

    Lake is a great athlete. He has incredible raw skills. Let him start this next year and if he struggles, who cares?
    I know its kinda silly, but he so reminds me of a young Sammy Sosa…and not just his looks. He’s really holding his own, if not thriving.
    “Let the players play”….someone said that…I think.

    • Starlin Backer

      Stevie, I also don’t see Lake chasing a lot of bad pitches-something you would expect at that age and not being tagged as a “top prospect.” Just a little better on the curve and he could be very good. The fact he doesn’t chase bad stuff too much gives him a better chance to get there.

      • Hansman1982

        Actually, he swings at more pitches out of the zone than the league average. He’s just getting them to fall for hits so its not as ugly, yet.

        • jt

          Junior Lake plate discipline from fangraphs.
          rate pitcher throws pitch in K zone 45%
          % pitches swung at 48.9%
          outside K zone swing 35.2%
          inside K zone swing 67.7%
          Contact rate of pitches swung at 67%
          Contact rate of pitches swung at out of K zone 42%
          Contact rate of pitches swung at in K zone 83.5%
          Now, I don’t know if foul balls count as contact? I assume that is not the case.
          *
          Don’t know what all this means.
          the pitcher tosses a non-k 55% of the time and he swings at 35.2% of those pitches.
          so, .352 of 55% is 19.4%.
          That is about one of every 5 pitches (1/5 = 20%) is both out of the K zone and he swings at it.
          Fangraphs states that he has had 201 PA’s and has seen 741 pitches
          So…he sees an avg of 3.7 pitches per PA and chases a bad one every 5 pitches.
          So.. on avg he chases a bad pitch every 1.3+ PA’s.
          So on average he swings at a non-strike 3 out of every 4 times he comes to the plate. Well, sometimes he hits the first pitch and sometimes he hits several foul balls with a 2 strike count. But you get the idea
          He hits a bad pitch in play 0.42 of the time that he has swung at.
          (1.3)/(0.42) = 3.1
          So, on avg, he puts a ball in play that was a pitchers pitch a bit less than once every 3 PA’s. I don’t know the rate of K’s caused by swinging at strike 3 out of the zone.
          I don’t know the % of hits he gets when he hits a pitch that was out of the K zone but he has put in play.
          *
          Today, he shortened his swing and poked a liner to RF for a hit.
          The next AB he turned on an inside pitch and put it in the seats.
          That ain’t the run of the mill hitting.
          I see him hold up on those sliders Sori use to chase and Castro seems to be trying to lay off. I see him hold up on the ankle high pitch that drops off the table.
          Dunno, maybe I’m seein’ what I want to see.
          Yeah, I do see some swings that I’d lay off of while I’m sitting on my couch.
          I was a J. Lake doubter.
          Now I’m just confused.

          • Starlin Backer

            That’s what I’m saying too jt. I see him able to hold up on those sliders off the outside corner-the type Sosa couldn’t layoff until one year he came back er, bigger. Yes, maybe I’m seeing what I want to see, but I have coached and watched enough baseball to have a realistic opinion. Guys, he was a top 10 prospect for a reason. Would you automatically dismiss our #7 or 8 prospect right now because he’s not top 5? Is Alcantera a never will be to you strictly numbers people? Can a player not grow? Is Lake not just 1 year older than Bryant?

            • jt

              Hansman is sayin’ that he is swinging and missing on a lot of pitches.
              We tend to forget those whiffs when the next pitch is a hard hit ball. But they do exist and should not be ignored. 48 K’s in 200 PA’s is ok for a slugger but Lake has been a hybrid of bunts, bloops and dingers.
              *
              I’m not a big proponent of the will to win belly fire on the field. But work put into preparation is another story. After the HR today, Valbuena wanted him to play to the TV camera. Lake wouldn’t have anything to do with it. It seem(s)ed he was there to work and not flaunt. It seems his head is always in the game. Hey, that is were stuff is happening from which he can learn.
              Don’t know if he can sustain. I’m getting to like the guy though and am really pulling for him.

          • Starlin Backer

            My frustration is that the “numbers guys” seem to want Lake to fail to validate their mathematical models.

            • DarthHater

              My frustration is that anti-numbers-guys don’t understand the difference between having doubts about whether a young player can sustain surprising early success and wanting that player to fail.

            • TOOT

              Amen.

            • Kyle

              Reader error.

              • TOOT

                No, he has a good point.

                • Kyle

                  Only to people making the same error.

                  • TOOT

                    error-error=0

                    • hansman1982

                      Mathematical errors too!

                      Error X Error = Holy crap.

                      I don’t want Lake to fail. Not at all. I would love, love, love, the Cubs to have a .800 OPS CF that is making league minimum for 3 more years.

                      However, before we go chiseling his name into the 2014 depth chart, we need to understand that he probably isn’t going to be an .800 OPS player because of things that have statistically shown (through tens of thousands of samples) to be bad for a hitters future success.

        • N8theGr8

          Lake kind of reminds me of a guy named Vlad that thrived on hitting bad pitches. I don’t check numbers, so ninjas go forth and attack fangraphs, swiftly, silently, precisely.

          • hansman1982

            Vlad owned a K rate of 10.9%. Let’s start the “bad pitch hitter” comparisons when Lake is merely doubling those numbers.

            • N8theGr8

              Pretty small sample size for Junior in the bigs so far, so maybe we just have to wait for more data. I assume there’ll be some regression and anomalies and whatnot. Sorry, not really fluent in ninja; I am more of a samurai.

    • Hansman1982

      ” Let him start this next year and if he struggles, who cares?”

      Because that’s a roster spot that we have below-average production from. I believe that this front office can cobble together a team that would only be two-three lucky breaks away from contention next year.

      • Starlin Backer

        So Lake is just “lucky” and you don’t believe in luck-it’s unsustainable. And then in your next post you say the Cubs could contend next year with 2-3 lucky breaks. Huh?

        • hansman1982

          I never said I don’t believe in luck (although the proper term is something along the lines of “variation from expected results”).

        • DarthHater

          The Cubs could contend if they get lucky, but their success would be unsustainable. What’s contradictory about that?

          • terenceman

            It’s like saying “I have a hard time believing but I really want to believe”. Makes sense to me.

    • terenceman

      I don’t see the problem letting Lake start somewhere in the outfield next season. If it’s just going to be a placeholder why not let it be him? The Cubs have some replacement level backups if he’s really terrible.

  • Matt

    He is actually quite good at picking up, of not always laying off, breaking balls. The two things that give Lake a real chance despite a rocky developmental process over the years are the athleticism everybody references and an apparently great work within/ coachability dynamic.

  • ruby2626

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/22443507-419/lowly-cubs-forcing-fans-to-focus-on-highly-touted-prospects.html

    Awesome article mostly focusing on the Cubs 45 inning no earned run streak in the High A playoffs. Tenn also won today, forcing game 5 for all the marbles. No hits for Javy today, it was funny in that batters 8,9,1 and 2 did all the damage.

  • Matt

    What do you guys think the tag looks like for Stanton? Do the apparent high floors of Bryant & Soler influence your willingness to include Baez?

    • MichiganGoat

      If we were the Marlins we’d start and stop initial conversations with Baez, Solar might interest them because of the Cuba connection but since he hasn’t played much this year he’d be a major risk vs Baez. If the Marlins don’t get what they want over winter they will wait until the deadline and see if a team gets desperate.

    • BlameHendry

      absolutely not. I dont want to see ANYONE from our top 4 prospects traded for Stanton. Forget Stanton, we’re not going anywhere next year and probably not in 2015 either and Stanton by himself wont change that. It would be a waste. I’d rather see our top prospects emerge and carry this team themselves, because their peak years are still a ways ahead of them and they will be cost-controlled for longer.

      • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

        A Waste to get Stanton. Ok guy is 23 years old am has proved to be a Big league talent but yeah he is a waste.

        • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

          Damn iPhone.

      • Kyle

        Stanton is like a mega-prospect who just happens to be in the majors already. He’s basically prospect-age but with 100 home runs in the big leagues instead of 30 in A-ball.

        • hansman1982

          He is the OF version of who we hope Baez could be in 3 years.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Occasionally I ponder the 2014 lineup if the Cubs could flip Rizzo in a package for Stanton and sign Abreu out of Cuba.

            And the 2015 lineup if the Cubs could make that deal while keeping Bryant and Baez.

            And then I usually start wistfully adding Olt’s name to the list.

            And then I feel depressed and go do something else for awhile.

          • Bill

            My biggest concern with trading for Stanton is the injuries. Very good player if he can stay healthy but can he stay healthy for an entire year and is the risk, of trading away several of your top prospects, worth it?

    • Jimmy James

      If I was trading top prospects it would be for an honest to god number one pitcher……that would sure help them take the next step. Shark and twood are nice but I would rather them be the teams 3rd and 4th starters.

  • willis

    Bravo Baker, you proved me wrong. I still don’t buy him just quite yet, but he did it today and for that I applaud him. Good movement mostly.

    But what was weird, putting in Russell in an important situation, and before you know it, the cubs don’t have the lead anymore. I mean, it’s not like that has ever happened before.

  • cubchymyst

    Surprised by Baker’s performance. Was expecting him to get hit a lot harder and a lot more often then he was. Will be interesting if he gets another start or not.

  • Matt

    Stanton isn’t a whole heck of a lot older than any of the Big 4. Hence, his peak yrs are still likely ahead of him. Dave Cameron- in his recent trade value piece- pointed out that not since Cabrera has a young franchise player come into play like this. Another similarity is that Cabrera had been coming off some nagging injuries at the time. Assuming Baez was headlining the deal, what else would it cost?

    • Voice of Reason

      The braves are not trading Stanton.

      People come on here and make these fantasy baseball trade ideas.

      If they ever traded stanton its certainly going to take a player who has proven he is a solid big leaguer and a top minor leaguer or two. I don’t want the cubs giving all that up. We finally get some minor league talent and everyone wants to trade them away. Be patient and let them develop.

      • MichiganGoat

        It would be A-MAZ-ING if the Braves traded Stanton

        • ferrets_bueller

          I know! Imagine what they’d have to give up to get him, then turn around and deal him again?!?

          • MichiganGoat

            It’s like the DeJesus trade all over

            • hansman1982

              So you’re saying the FO is to blame which means that Castro is to blame.

              Damnit, Castro, quit causing the Braves to trade Stanton. (something tells me that sentence isn’t properly constructed but I can’t figure it out.

      • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

        Hard to take you serious when you statement has one huge glaring flaw. How long before you notice it I wonder

      • DarthHater

        Says the guy who went on endlessly last year about how the Cubs would never be able to get Olt in a Garza deal.

        • Brains

          We don’t need to trade our minor league talent, we need to stock the lineup with experienced players so they can mature in a normal baseball environment. It’s like once Theo came in everyone forgot how they played baseball in real life and turned the entire game into a video game. The face of the franchise isn’t a low-paid president of operations with a hankering for top-down control, it’s the team. And we need to put together a team in which a young player can fit in, and not be expected to take over at age 22. Baseball is comprised of teams. It’s about teams. It’s the team. We watch baseball to watch a team play. You crazy people.

          • hansman1982

            “We don’t need to trade our minor league talent, we need to stock the lineup with experienced players so they can mature in a normal baseball environment.”

            So don’t trade minor league guys for a proven MLB stud because we need proven MLB players?

            • http://bleachenation Sacko

              Which really doesn’t make sense to trade for Stanton. We are almost as bad as Miami and he’s not turning anything around for them so why would he be so valuable to us in addition to trading top minor league players.

              • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

                Cause Stanton is a great talent who is 23 and has proven to be able to handle the big leagues and would tear Wrigley to shreds. Guess what Felix Pie, Corey Patterson, Bobby Hill, Kevin Orie, Jake Fox, Hee Seop Choi ok that’s enough for now hope you get the point I’m making here.

                • http://bleachenation Sacko

                  I get it but they will want pitching also. So how much do we give up for him while trying to replace them. So he gets 50 HR’s on a hs team. But he tore it up.

                  • http://bleachenation Sacko

                    Do you see Stanton having a Dawson career? Andre came for nothing and tore it up on a last place team. And..well that’s about it.

              • Brains

                Exactly. Trading away the farm for Stanton makes no sense, though I could see the argument of trading Castro for him.

                We need our farm cause it’s good. We need free agents because they have experience. And we need to trade pieces for pieces. The whole Cubs culture has become so emotionally unbalanced that in 2 years we’ve forgotten basic standards of baseball, including that it’s a team sport.

                • TOOT

                  Castro value is dimming by the minute.

              • Jason P

                “We are almost as bad as Miami and he’s not turning anything around for them so why would he be so valuable to us in addition to trading top minor league players.”
                That’s a ridiculous line of reasoning. Are David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Felix Hernandez, and Chris Sale not worth trading for either because they play for a bad team? Baseball’s a team sport, and nobody, not Miguel Cabrera, not Mike Trout, possibly not even both combined, would turn Miami into a playoff contender the way that team is currently constructed.

                Stanton’s a proven ML performer with an .838 OPS in his “down year”. Landing him even if we have to give up Soler would single-handedly accelerate the rebuilding process to the point where we’d be maybe one quality second basemen away from having a very good offense.

            • hansman1982

              I like how I pointed out the logical flaw in the statement and the comments are:

              “Ya, man, who wants to trade for a 23-year old with a career .889 OPS!”

        • Voice of Reason

          Sometimes I wonder how this darthhater gets by? Use your head!

          The Rangers were not going to give us Olt for Garza LAST YEAR! In baseball, things change from year to year.

          This year the Rangers were not going to give up their top talent for Garza. They gave us Olt and a couple of others, but none of the top prospects this year! Olt had fallen out of their list of top tier prospects this year.

          Last year, the Rangers were not going to give up their top talent for Garza. At that time, Olt was one of their top tier prospects. They were, however, willing to give us some prospects that were not on their list of top tier prospects. Just as they were willing to do this year.

          Does this make sense, Darthhater?

          • DarthHater

            You really need to use more exclamation points. They add so much reason to your voice.

          • Cubbie Blues

            You need to use yours first.
            1. Braves don’t have any right to Stanton
            2. The claim was that last year you said the Rangers would never trade Olt for Garza (obviously never was not the case).
            3. Olt was not the headline of the deal.
            4. Not all prospects are going to make it. We will need to trade some of the surplus (read as infield glut) in order to get positions of need.

            • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

              Shit ill take any position at this point we need everything.

  • Dustin S

    Good for Baker today, even if it’s not for the Cubs in 2014 a good September should help him find a #5 spot somewhere next year.

    TBH my attention is more on the farm teams in the playoffs at this point.

  • chrisfchi

    If Castro goes back to this old hitting numbers, and say Lake continues to have success at the plate, is it inconceivable to think that we would have one of the best 1&2 hitters in the league?(wishful thinking on my part)

    • jon

      Lol wut?

      • chrisfchi

        Next season, Castro reverts back to all star form, Lake continues to make solid contact and ride the success he has had, why not bat Castro lead-off and put Lake in the 2-hole?

        • terenceman

          The problem with Lake is he’s walking about the same rate as Castro and striking out more. There’s a lot of luck involved with what he’s doing so I think a lot of people want to see him more before they put a lot of faith in him. He’s hitting the ball hard, don’t get me wrong, it’s just the .380+ BABIP that’s not sustainable unless he had Michael Bourn’s legs grafted onto him.

          • Scotti

            That BABIP is inflated because of his bunt hits (which are legitimate–he is an exceptional bunter). Lake can have a very high, and legitimate BABIP. Maybe not .380 but very high. I would expect that he starts walking at a rate more in line with his AA/AAA stats as he settles in and I also expect to see his power start to develop a bit more (20-25 hr / year). He has excellent size, bat speed and he takes a healthy cut–he just needs to learn to get some backspin.

            The BIG question for Lake has always been defense. Right now he’s a bad outfielder but that is a massive improvement over being an abysmal infielder. Time will tell on his defense but all signs point to him settling in and not being a complete embarrassment in the OF (as he unfortunately is in the infield).

            • Jason P

              You had me until the 20-25 HR part. I could see maybe 20 in his peak years, but 20-25 consistently is probably a bit of a stretch.

              In the end, I think .280/.340/.440 is a reasonable projection for him.

              • Bill

                Which would be a very nice player, especially if he can play CF.

                • Eternal Pessimist

                  Lake’s BABIP has been high throughout the minors (compared to Castro, and especially Rizzo at the minor league level). His current 388 is probably a bit high, but he looks good at the plate and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue to perform at a reasonably high level for CF even with some expected regression.

              • Scotti

                Again, Lake has very good bat speed, takes VERY hard cuts at the ball and is a big guy with length and wiry strength. His mentality is that of a slugger. He isn’t going to get shorter, smaller our lose that aggressiveness.

                If he doesn’t wind up being in the 20-25 range (for a complete season) it will be because he flamed out. As it stands NOW, his HR / AB ratio is well within the 20-25 range. BR has him at 21 HR over 162 games (41 2B). Again, that’s how he’s actually performing now.

                As to the “He didn’t hit for power at that pace on the minors” crowd… It is not unheard of for young players to add HR hitting to their skill set after graduation. And, FWIW, Lake had 14 HR in 143 games in the minors the past two seasons (16 on 162 games w/ 46 prorated 2B/3B). His ratio for the prior season is 17 on 162 games (w/ 38 2B/3B). He’s starting to come into his power.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  “If he doesn’t wind up being in the 20-25 range (for a complete season) it will be because he flamed out.”

                  Alternatively, it will be because MLB pitchers figured him out. They stay in the big leagues in large part by learning to pitch to the weaknesses of opposing batters: and they get a lot more data with which to work then do batters!

                  • Scotti

                    Don’t get what you’re saying here, Doc.

              • Scotti

                “In the end, I think .280/.340/.440 is a reasonable projection for him.”

                So, he’s at .309/.350/.468 now. Just looking at BA and SLG you’re looking at .439 SLG once you remove the 29 points of BA. Your assumption is that he will get MUCH better at taking walks (you add 10 points to his OBP while removing 29 points from OBP via base hits) but he will not get any better slugging with that improved patience.

                Regardless, assume all of that is true. He is still on pace for 21 HR on a full season with that SLG percentage (again, you are simply removing base hits). Batting .280 and slugging .440 on a full season, it is very possible to hit 20-25 HR.

        • cub2014

          I say keep Lake in the 7 spot and keep
          Valbuena and Barney (hitting .220 combined)
          hitting #2 JK. I just hope the front offfices isnt in
          charge of this decision, if so we are doomed!

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Ifs don’t cut it. Castro has been a legitimate .240 hitter this year, and last year clearly he was regressing. Castro has been exposed this year and surely its time to recognize this for what it is. He’s not nor has he ever been a legitimate leadoff hitter. Since they pulled Rudy out from underneath him, he’s been nothing special. Maybe its not Rudy v Dale, maybe its a lack of understanding of mental adjustments, maybe it is as simple as too much night life, but at some point it doesn’t matter. Right now he’s not a good fit for the Cubs if they can package him for someone who is or trade him for an arm or two, not just junk, but legitimate arms who are young and can help. Too many people bought in early to the HOF crap people assigned to Castro, he’s never been that type of player.

    As to the argument so many make about Stanton and Price, it all depends in on the cost. I don’t buy the stuff people seem to sell that Ricketts and the Cubs have 3 or 4 years of time. I think at the most, this thing could hold together through mid-season 2015 and that many be a push. While the official attendance numbers may be OK there is a real problem for the organization with butts in seats. The other problem is you have an entire staff of coaches, that are certainly concerned about jobs and at some point in a major market, it is insane to think winning at the major league level doesn’t matter.

    Every team wants a strong Minor League system and the Cubs should be applauded for emphasizing this. In a major market though, with a the TV contract the Cubs will seek, it would be a huge mistake to continue to ignore winning. People seem to ignore the rebuilding started before Theo came and in fact the 2011 draft strongly reflected that. The clock is running on this whole deferred winning thing, and its time to really start establishing a real core, frankly depending on what is at Major League level may not work, the Cubs will be challenged to use every avenue available including FA and trades.

    • TOOT

      Like.

    • hansman1982

      “People seem to ignore the rebuilding started before Theo came and in fact the 2011 draft strongly reflected that.”

      Except the 2011 trade deadline did not reflect that. Hendry said that the draft spending that year was a direct result of what he saw coming with the new CBA. That draft had nothing to do with Hendry wanting to rebuild the club.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        It also had a lot to do with Hendry finally having the money to spend in the draft. The Tribune Company didn’t like to shell out cash for amateur talent. I tend to think Hendry would have happily dropped $10 million on the draft in any of his years if he’d been allowed to do so.

      • Bill

        I’m not sure this is correct. Hendry spent more on the draft because ownership allowed him to do this where he wasn’t allowed to spend much money in previous drafts. The lack of trades was more Hendry not wanting to make moves he thought might contradict the incoming GM’s plan. If Ricketts told Hendry he was going to keep him on as GM and offer him an extension, I don’t think Hendry stands pat and makes no trades at the deadline. I might be wrong but it seems fair to me to say Hendry started the rebuilding program with his draft that year.

  • TOOT

    Question posed. How do the Cardinals briing up all these excllent pitchers year after year? We have smart guys running things. Why are we not bringing BIG arms up in our system?

    • terenceman

      The Cards have been working on their system for the better part of a decade. The Cubs have been working on theirs for just under 2 years. There was almost no focus on player drafting/scouting/development at the end of the Hendry years in part due to the ownership turn over.

      • terenceman

        Allegedly Hendry was told by the former owners to just sign stars and wasn’t given a lot of money for player development, anyway.

      • TOOT

        terenceman–I understand. But I can’t believe our drafting/scouting/development was all that bad. If it was, why wasn’t mentioned the years before this happened?

        • terenceman

          Luke went into more details below but, if you want the full story, you’ll have to do some research. There were a lot of bad drafts for the Cubs where they low upside picked college players and they made some bad picks in a few drafts that were panned at the time. That combined with the years where they didn’t even have a 1st round pick due to signing Type A free agents….

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Not bad so much as badly underfunded.

          And that lack of funding was mentioned, repeatedly, by pretty much everyone who covered the minors.

          Until Hendry’s final year when Ricketts gave him the funds he needed to draft intelligently the Cubs were bound to one of the lowest draft budgets in the game. It is extremely difficult to build a depth of high ceiling talent under that scenario no matter how amazing the scouting and player development departments might have been.

          • terenceman

            True – even some of the guys this front office have let go seem to be really well respected like Fleita.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Not quite right.

        The Cubs were badly underfunded in the draft for most of Hendry’s time at the helm, but his final year was a notable exception to that. Hendry also did a pretty good job getting good people into the organization. Many of the key coaches and trainers in the Cubs farm system were originally Hendry hires.

        • TOOT

          Excellent comments by all. But who really knows what the Hendry “fund” consisted of.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Quite a lot of people, actually. All of that information tends to leak pretty regularly to the minor league press after the draft and signing periods are over each year.

            Put it this way – if Hendry had been consistently given a $12 million draft budget but was only drafting in a way to use $4 million of it, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and half a dozen other well connected publications would have been writing an ocean of ink on the subject. There is literally no chance something like that could have been kept quiet.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Check back in 2015.

      Under the new front office the Cubs have shifted to a volume approach on drafting high (or high-ish) ceiling pitchers in the draft, but those pitchers will still take time to develop (or not, as the case may be).

      A small wave of pitching could arrive in the second half of 2014 or so – Hendricks, Vizcaino, Cabrera, Rosscup, Zych, Jokisch, maybe a few more.

      But the first really good wave is about year behind that. By mid 2015 we could start to see Johnson, Edwards, Black, Pineyro, and maybe Zastryzny arrive.

      And the wave behind that wave is starting to come together as well. That will be the Maples, Underwood, Blackburn, Clifton, and so forth group. We’re probably look at 2016 at least for that crew to hit.

      And next June the Cubs will draft more candidates for the 2016 wave and starting building the 2017 arrivals.

      And on it goes. So long as the Cubs stay committed to drafting pitching in June, the Cubs will soon have their own pipeline of arms.

      • TOOT

        I do believe you, I really do Luke. I see the pithing and hitting coming together.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        Luke I agree with most of that. In many ways, Hendry and Theo share a lot of the approaches for talent. I also agree the wave of pitching is probably 2015 or a little later but some could actually be a little sooner. I think the big difference is how much emphasis Hendry put on big arms and to me, was little less concerned about quantity and more about quality.

        I think too you have to qualify the early years from the late. The tribune seemed to de-emphasize the minors sometime before the Zell fiasco when the financial troubles started. I think Kenney effectively shifted the blame to Hendry, but he has been in on a lot of the problems. Hendry had a great eye for talent in arms, something he almost never gets credit for going back to his days at Creighton.

      • cub2014

        I love the draft philosophy if you have a
        top 5-10 pick go for the best hitter after
        that load up on pitching and pick a need
        position and go heavy on that (catching
        in 2013 draft). I like the strategy and we
        will see how it works over the next few years.

        • cub2014

          Sorry I meant top 10 pick

        • ssckelley

          I like the approach as well but I think the Cubs would have pulled the trigger on Appel last June had the Astros not taken him #1 overall. I get the feeling they already had a deal in place with him and they were left scrambling a little when Houston took him. After that happened I got the feeling they were in a coin flip situation between Gray and Bryant which caused delays in having their pick announced.

          • Rebuilding

            Everything I’ve heard is just the opposite. The Cubs fully expected the Astros to take Bryant, but when he wouldn’t take what Appel eventually did they passed. Then we were left to lob a call into Boras to see what number Bryant was looking for that made Houston not select him. Both organizations value hitters over pitchers that high in the draft. We were fortunate

            • ssckelley

              This is the not the exact opposite to what I am suggesting happened. What I meant about the “coin flip” was about the money. I think the Cubs were close to picking Gray only because Bryants bonus demands were so high. I completely agree that the delays were due to numbers being passed around. If the Cubs anticipated the Astros taking Bryant then I believe they already had a deal in place for Appel.

              • Rebuilding

                What I’m saying, from people I trust and were in a position to know, is that Bryant was #1 on both the Astros and Cubs board. All indications were that the Astros were going to take Bryant and it was being negotiated. The Cubs then would have taken Appel, but no proposed deal was in place because Boras didnt want to float a lower number than the Astros eventually gave him. That ended up being smart as the Astros eventually came back and said here is the max we’ll give the #1 pick, which of your guys will take it? If neither then we’ll take Gray.

                • ssckelley

                  I don’t dispute anything you say, and I believe it. But my point to the comment I responded to is that the Cubs were close to taking a pitcher with last Junes #2 overall pick. I think if the Astros had taken Bryant or if Boras/Bryant had to high of bonus demands the Cubs would have taken a pitcher. I don’t think the Cubs would have went down to the next best available position player, either Frazier or Moran.

  • Jason P

    If the Marlins asked for Jorge Soler as the centerpiece in a deal for Stanton, the Cubs would be crazy not to take it. Absolutely crazy. Where talking about one of the top-5 power hitters in the game. His OPS is .838, and everyone’s talking about what a “down year” it’s been for him. And he’s 23 and under team control through 2016.

    If the deal was Soler, Johnson, and any other prospect outside our top-10, I’m still taking it and not thinking twice.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      I doubt they would be as interested in Soler. I believe his contract pays him over 3 Million/year in the minors/Majors (his contract is 30 million guaranteed over 9 years). Once he gets 3 years of MLB service time he can opt out of his contract and become a FA.

      I think any trade for Stanton will be for a player who is cheaper now, and has more potential cheapness in the long term than Soler. Also, if Soler ends up sucking the Marlins would still be stuck with the remainder of his guaranteed contract.

      • ETS

        I agree the cubs would be crazy not to take that. I agree the marlins have no interest in soler’s contract.

        Pretty well sums up that hypothetical.

      • hansman1982

        “Once he gets 3 years of MLB service time he can opt out of his contract and become a FA”

        This is wrong. Once he becomes eligible for arbitration, he can opt out of his contract into arbitration status.

        The Cubs would get no less than 6 years of MLB service time for Soler.

    • mjhurdle

      The reason i wouldn’t trade for Stanton is not because he isn’t talented, but the fact that he has had 3 significant injuries and he is only 23.
      I understand anyone can get injured, regardless of history, but if i am paying that high of a price for someone, i want that player to be as low-risk as possible.

      • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

        Finally a good argument to why they should not trade for Stanton. Maybe I missed a few but all I see is somebody saying no way and that’s about it or why trade our prospects. I would be in on a trade but really depending on the package we would have to send to Miami.

      • ssckelley

        He injuries that Stanton have had do not worry me and it would not stop me from trying to acquire him. But what would stop me is the demands the Marlins have for him. It was rumored that the Pirates made a significant offer for him before the trade deadline and the Marlins passed, and other teams were inquiring as well.

        The Marlins will not trade Stanton unless a team overpays to acquire him, it very well could take at least 2 of the Cubs top 4 prospects in order to get it done and the conversation starts with Baez and Almora. I think it would take both Baez and Almora along with a couple of the Cubs top arms to get him.

  • chrisfchi

    I agree there will be regression. I would think the walk number would drop. Maybe he changes his approach at the plate next year. Maybe he swings at more pitches in the zone. Either way we don’t have this crystal ball we can peer into to. My point is if the guy continues to hit well, why not have him behind Castro (assuming Castro starts smacking the ball again like in 2011)

    • chrisfchi

      Oops this was ment to be in response to terenceman comment on my original post

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Miami doesn’t want Soler. They could have signed him in 2012, didn’t and he won’t be the centerpiece of a trade. Face it, no way you get either Price or Stanton without Castro and Almora or trading away Baez. That’s going the centerpiece of any Stanton deal Castro and Almora or Baez and then several of the top 5-12 prospects depending on the mix. They aren’t going to give these guys away that are this young. Just like the Cubs when Arizona asked for Jeff S, the Cubs immediately asked for the two pitchers in their system for starters.

    • http://BN sacko

      I have read all the good possibilities on Stanton and Price. However this would go against a lot of the emphasis of developing the farm system and recently budget talk. Who should we believe?

      • brickhouse

        One of the reasons you develop a strong & deep farm system is to use those prospects in trades. The budget will be changing as more revenue comes in from national & local tv deals, the jumbotron and other advertising ad other new revenue streams.

  • @cubsfantroy

    Hi.

  • cavemencubbie

    After reading the give and take on statistical analysis, what is missing is the effect of the batting order on a hitter’s performance. Is the hitter being protected by good hitters before and after him, or just made a sitting duck by a pitcher. I am not sure statistics alone determines a future hitters performance. Just my opinion. Would like to see some discussion.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      That has been pretty thoroughly examined, and there is no evidence that “protection” exists.

      Many years ago (1997, I think), Steve Stone provided an excellent explanation of why that is. Some sports talk person was stating that Sammy Sosa needed “protection” so that pitchers would be forced to throw strikes to him. Stoney stated flatly that Babe Ruth could hit behind Sosa Sosa and Sammy was going to keep seeing pitches a foot outside. That was sismply because pitchers knew that they could get a K or weak contact on those ptches: and pitchers throw the pitches that they think will get guys out. I think that he actually said at one point that pitchers were not throwing balls because they were not afraid of walking Sosa: they did it because they were not afraid that they would walk him. On the other hand, everyone knew that Sosa could crush balls over the plate. So, pitchers had nothing to lose and everything yo gain by throwing pitches out of the strike zone: and who came up next was moot.

      (Sammy’s near magical acquisition of a batting eye in 1998 represents the single biggest improvement in walk rates in the last few decades: but Stone had no way of foreseeing that!)

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