In what seems to be a continuous fall and winter refrain, The Little Girl is under the weather and home with me today. I’ve got a ton to write today, so hopefully she will take the carrot of “watch as much TV as you want today and just rest,” and you won’t notice a thing here. Doesn’t she know the GM Meetings start today?
- For those keen on trying to project the arrival timeline of top prospects, Theo Epstein suggested to Jesse Rogers this weekend that Kris Bryant could follow something like Evan Longoria’s trajectory with the Rays. Longoria, also drafted as a top college bat at third base, reached AA in his first partial minor league season (Bryant reached, and crushed, High-A, but he’s also playing in the AFL, which has a great deal of AA-level competition). He started out at AA the next year, finishing at AAA before making his debut early in the following season. If that’s how Bryant progresses, which is certainly possible, we’d see him reach AAA by the end of 2014. He’d then enter 2015 as a guy we’d be looking to come up after the Cubs secure an extra year of control (i.e., he stays down about a month) or ensure he doesn’t reach Super Two status (he’d have to stay down until some point in July, likely). I wouldn’t rule out a 2014 debut just yet (in the second half), but the Longoria track seems pretty reasonable. And, hey, maybe the Cubs can get Bryant to sign the same kind of amazing, pre-arb deal that Longoria did after being in the big leagues for a week.
- That there timeline, by the way, is pretty much the same that you’d like to see Jorge Soler take, as well. Javier Baez is likely a year ahead of those two, and Albert Almora is likely a year behind. That would put your hopeful arrival timelines as Baez 2014, Bryant 2015 (maybe 2014), Soler 2015, Almora 2016. (Obligatory caution: these are merely the projected tracks. Injury, ineffectiveness, and other unforeseen developments always pop up. The odds that all four of The Big Four become significant contributors to the Cubs by 2016 – or ever – remain extremely low. Consider this: even if each of the four, individually, has a 75% chance of becoming a solid contributor at the big league level (and I’d argue that’s too high), the odds that all four would reach that level are just 31.6%.)
- The Cubs recently re-signed a couple of pitchers who would have been minor league free agents, but were re-signed before they got to that window: Dae-Eun Rhee and Eduardo Figueroa. The former was once a top pitching prospect who fell off the radar a bit after a lengthy Tommy John recovery, and the latter is a righty who has quietly and slowly been climbing the ladder in the Cubs’ system since he signed seven years ago as a teenager. Neither is likely to make a future impact, but they’ll probably start the year out at AA as extreme depth. I still remember how good Rhee looked a couple years ago in Spring Training. Just never came together, I guess.
- Baseball Prospect writes about the “one move” each team in the NL Central could make to become or stay competitive. Because of the conceit, I’ll forgive the fact that there’s probably no “one move” – unless it was a magical single trade for three big bats and two top arms – that makes the Cubs competitive in 2014. The one move selected by BP for the Cubs? Trade for David Price. There certainly remain reasons to do it, but, with 2014 looking more and more like another throw-away season, and with the elite prospects in the system actually looking like future impact talent, adding Price at the expense of one or two of The Big Four and a couple more top 10 prospects increasingly seems like a poor bet.
- FanGraphs applies game theory to the possible new posting system for Japanese players. It turns out that it might not actually drive posting prices down, as MLB teams hope.
- A hearty thank you to the veterans out there on Veteran’s Day (and every other day).