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javier baez aflPerhaps it is because I like Jason Parks’ style (and Kevin Goldstein’s before him), but the Baseball Prospectus top prospect lists have aways been among my favorite. They offer a list, bits on prospects just outside the list, deep dives on each of the mentioned players, and a good sense that they’ve been scouting these guys – and speaking extensively with other people in the business – for a long time to develop their opinions.

If that sounds like a sales pitch for subscribing to BP (to see the full ranking stuff, you have to pay for a subscription), I guess it is, but I’m not trying to sell you. (BP doesn’t even know I’m saying these swell things.) I just thought I’d give them a little extra love in this space for the great work.

Ok, enough of that. On to what you want: the BP Cubs top prospect list as we head into 2014.

1. Javier Baez
2. Kris Bryant
3. Albert Almora
4. Jorge Soler
5. C.J. Edwards
6. Arismendy Alcantara
7. Pierce Johnson
8. Dan Vogelbach
9. Christian Villanueva
10. Jeimer Candelario

No huge surprises in the list, or in the ensuing praise for, in particular, the top four. The Javier Baez write-up is particularly shwing-worthy, with words like “elite,” “highest offensive ceiling in the minors,” and “Miguel Cabrera.”

As we’ve seen, there’s a touch of consensus building about the top 8-ish guys (there was always strong consensus on the top five, at least, and probably top seven), and Jeimer Candelario has been a popular guy to be right in that 8 to 10 range. Christian Villanueva is making his first top 10 appearance, but, if you’ve been following along around here, that’s not a huge surprise. Jason McLeod doled out heavy praise for Villanueva this weekend, and it sounds like BP is hearing the same things.

Choosing one of the top ten to share some of BP’s thoughts … how about Alcantara?

Alcantara would receive more attention in a weaker system, as the 22-year-old infielder has impact tools and could develop into a first-division talent at the major-league level. From the left side, Alcantara is an offensive threat, with bat speed and game power, but he struggles from his weaker right side, as the plane is flatter and the contact not nearly as hard. The speed is a weapon on base and in the field, and with more refinement should give him another above-average tool. A heavy dose of Triple-A secondary stuff will help the five-tool talent refine at the plate, and with any luck, Alcantara could get a major-league taste in 2014. While I’m not a big fan of comps, especially if they are forced, the industry suggested Jose Reyes-lite fits Alcantara very well.

That’s the number six prospect in the system.

The three prospects listed by BP as “on the rise” are pitchers Paul Blackburn (2012 supplemental first rounder), Rob Zastryzny (2013 second rounder (with a 70 grade Twitter account)), and catcher Mark Malave (a 2011 bonus baby who has moved around the diamond). You’ll have to subscribe to BP to see the write-ups on each of the three (they make you smile), but here’s a taste on Blackburn:

The fastball has the potential to develop into a true plus-plus offering, but the command was well below average at times and the secondary arsenal was inconsistent. But several sources really liked what they saw from the 20-year-old, and a step forward in fastball command could allow the plus potential curve to miss more bats. The ceiling could go as high as a no. 2/3 starter, and at this time next season, we should be talking about Blackburn as a no-brainer top 10 prospect in the system. Based on ceiling, he has a legit case for inclusion on this year’s list.

The three prospects listed by BP as potentially contributing to the Cubs this year should be no surprise: Mike Olt, Arodys Vizcaino, and Neil Ramirez. On the latter two, BP very much likes their potential to be excellent future contributors in the bullpen.

When ranking the overall young talent in the Cubs’ organization, it’s worth noting that Starlin Castro still ranks ahead of Kris Bryant, but behind Javier Baez. Anthony Rizzo slots in after Bryant, but before Albert Almora. The huge surprise on the young talent list? Junior Lake shows up at number 10, ahead of the Vogelbach/Villanueva/Candelario trio. Wow. Are folks in the game starting to believe that Lake can put together his incredible athleticism and tools at the big league level? I have never been particularly optimistic about Lake’s future, but that ranking right there makes me wonder.

All in all, it’s a great read that makes you feel very good about the Cubs’ future (at least as far as internal player development is concerned). Dare I suggest that there’s a great deal of #sparkle here?

BP also makes sure to remind folks at the end that, while we’ve all heard about the impact talent in the system, the Cubs also have a ton of depth. And, hey, that’ll only improve after another year of sell trades and high drafting. Not that you wanted to hear that part right now. Sorry.

Hooray prospects!

  • Jon

    Miguel Cabrera was raking in the bigs at 20 years old. That comparison is a bit much at this point.

    • ari gold

      You just love to shit on all things Cubs, don’t you

      • Jon

        I actually love Baez and can’t wait till he’s here and I can watch him. Show me were I shit on anything? oh that’s right i didn’t

        It’s important for everyone to temper expectations with these prospects……Baez could actually be 1/2 the player(offensively) as Cabera and still go down as a great player, mufti-season all star, etc, etc.

        • Norm

          Did they say Baez was going to follow Cabrera’s career path, or did they say he has the same potential with the bat?

          • itzscott

            What gives?

            Up until today Baez was being compared offensively to Gary Sheffield.

            Now it’s Miguel Cabrera?

            • Norm

              No, his “bat speed” was being compared to Gary Sheffield.

              • jp3

                I think it’s doesn’t really matter which player of Sheffield or Cabrera he’s being compared to, if hes close to either it would make me giggle like a little school girl.

            • DarthHater

              I don’t subscribe to BP, so I don’t know exactly what kind of comparison was made, but it seems pretty clear that Baez has more work to do on swing-and-miss issues than Cabrera has ever had to deal with. Perhaps the comparison is that Baez potentially could provide Cabrera-like power numbers while holding down a middle or left infield position. I guess that could be true, if Baez reaches his potential and sticks at SS, 3B, or 2B.

        • DarthHater

          “It’s important for everyone to temper expectations with these prospects”

          Actually, it’s utterly unimportant for everyone to temper their expectations. It’s important for the FO and the coaching and internal scouting staffs to temper their expectations, but we have no reason whatsoever to believe that their expectations are not properly tempered. Whether some anonymous fans on the internet get pleasure out of dreaming about a few prospects is completely insignificant.

          • mjhurdle

            wait, are you saying that my hopes and dreams don’t have tangible effect on the actual MLB club?

            mind = blown

            :)

            • DarthHater

              [img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7302/12103830803_27bb3a90ba_n.jpg[/img]

              • When The Musics Over

                Part of the problem with expectations isn’t necessarily what the front office or you or I or anyone else truly thinks what these players will become, it’s that the front office/ownership has, at the moment, pinned almost the entire future success of the organization on these guys, and has therefore sold them as saviors. And that’s the part that annoys me.

        • Chef Brian

          I don’t know who appointed you as the “expectations checker” or said you need to appear on all hopeful Cubs and make sure to temper enthusiasm, but your shtick is getting old and I for one would love it if you gave it a rest. Also you absolutely shit on all things Cub related and when they inevitably improve in a season or two, I don’t want to hear you say shit about how you were a fan from the beginning because you’re not and you haven’t been. I can’t wait for the day that your whining stops.

          • Jon

            Reading is really fundamental….

            • Chef Brian

              I have read this site for years and you’re the Douche Bag Debbie Downer of this site. You can up and down the page and deny it. Those of us that read this site daily know that ragging on the Cubs is your attention grabbing thing. Like a 5 yr old that needs a hug.

              • Jon

                Douche Bag Debbie Downer

                Why thank you! I’m flattered!

                • Chef Brian

                  Well great, we found common ground! There is hope for us yet!

    • On The Farm

      The thing about a comparison is that it is just that a comparison. I haven’t read the article, but I doubt Parks said Baez is exactly like Cabrera.

      In fact Merriam‑Webster defines a comparison as: “the act of looking at things to see how they are similar or different”. So you don’t have to be so literal and just take it for what Parks actually meant it to be. How the two are similar.

    • NorthSideIrish

      The Miggy comp was from scouts he had talked to, but even Parks called it an extreme comparison

    • Greenroom

      You sh#$ on everything. Period.

      • Jon

        Except I didn’t. Learn to read moron.

        • Steve

          Jon, that’s Moran.
          Get it right, bro.

          • DarthHater

            Anti-Irish slurs will not be tolerated. :-P

        • md8232

          I can’t read moron, will klingon do?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Heh. I get it.

            • ssckelley

              nerd alert!

          • jkt

            grammar slam! fantastic.

          • Soda Popinski

            Oh, man. Stupendous!

        • jammin502

          It’s better to be moron than to be moroff …

        • Greenroom

          Ok Jon, one time you said something positive out of so many comments. The other 99% of the time, shiza. I could cut and paste so many of your comments, the evidence would be overwhelming. As ChefBrian pointed out so clearly, debbie downer indeed. I do not even care that you are negative all the time, but the constant, “i know this to be true” garbage, is just that, garbage. And anyone who uses the word moron, well, that just speaks for itself.

          Baez is going to rake and be up by mid-season. Even with the high K%, I am hoping he can find a happy medium and lower it and increase his BB%. peace~

          • Jon

            For the life of me I don’t know how anyone could take the statement that a comparison of a prospect(no matter how great he is) to not only a future HOF, but one of the greatest hitters of all time is a “bit much” as being a “hater”.

    • hansman

      He did well for a 20-year old but I think Baez could have posted a 106 OPS last year as amazingly amazing he was playing.

      If he gets the call this year, he will be all of a year behind Cabrera.

      Expecting a HoF-style career is a bit much.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Miggy also had great pitch recognition at that age. It does perplex me that people seem to have forgotten this critical weakness is Baez.

  • On The Farm

    Just a quick question. I always thought Parks had an unhealthy infatuation with Almora. I am I the only one that finds it curious he ended up slotting Almora behind Bryant? I maybe wrong (probably am), but I was thinking it was BP that had Almora as the #8 prospect in baseball. Now, since then I know Parks has come out and said an argument “could (and should) be made for Baez to be the #1 overall prospect”, but I guess I am just a little surprised he went Bryant-Almora rather Almora-Bryant.

    • NorthSideIrish

      I think that was Kiley McDaniel at Scout.com and ESPN who had Almora in his Top 10 overall…

      • On The Farm

        Thank you. I figured I must be wrong, but I was hoping someone else could remember for me. For some reason when I think of Almora’s glowing evaluations Parks’ name just comes to my mind.

    • ari gold

      It wasn’t BP, although Parks has a huge man crush on him. I can’t remember the exact list but it came out last week. I think Brett wrote an article on it last week.

    • Norm

      Parks had Almora at 15, Baez at 17, and Soler at 31 in his mid-season rankings.

  • ari gold

    Very good stuff on Blackburn. Was kind of shocked he struggled with control/command this year as he was more polished for a high school pitcher. Hopefully he develops above average command. A plus-plus FB and plus CB with above average command is a #2. I know that’s his celing, but even a #3 would be fantastic!

    • On The Farm

      I am really looking forward to him putting together his first full season of pro-ball for Kane County. I hope I can catch some of his starts.

      • mjhurdle

        i seriously doubt that Kane County is going to allow you to gear up and get behind the plate just so that you can catch one of Blackburn’s starts…
        :)

        • Fishin Phil

          Depends, OTF what was your OPS last year?

          • On The Farm

            Well considering the lack of catching depth in the system, I actually figured that was my best bet at making the roster. I don’t like to give out my OPS to strangers, but my sCRAP is off the charts.

            • farmerjon

              OTF, I’m also on the farm, north of Davenport about 20 min…where you at?

              • On The Farm

                Cedar Rapids

        • Steve

          Just lol’d at that one ^^^

  • Enjoytherebuild

    While the Tanaka news was mildly disappointing, the prospect reads are wildly exciting.

    Our farm system, the precursor to a great team, is very strong. It always was going to take awhile to build the system up because it was so bad when the new ownership took over. In a few years when some of the guys currently in the system are up playing for the big league club, and the guys who are in the low minors advance to the high minors we are going to have a plethora of options to improve our club.

    I truly believe this FO/ownership group is going to get us a world series at Wrigley Field. It is a great time to be a Cubs fan. We should enjoy the building of the organization, the struggles will make the successes so much more meaningful when the Cubs do win.

    I guess you could choose to be negative and assume a lot of these prospects won’t amount to anything, but with so many in the system, you know some are going to hit and be stars. I will continue to enjoy the incremental progress of the organization as a whole, it won’t be too long before we are playing in October regularly

  • Elden14

    Speaking of prospects, I did a little looking around MLB.com’s top 10s and noticed Springer’s absurd numbers as a center fielder. Why isn’t that kid getting more love?

    • Norm

      They don’t project them based on stats.

      • Elden14

        I understand that, but they have to account for something. His numbers weren’t just impressive, they were gawdy.

        I know a high strikeout rate can indicate future troubles so maybe that’s the red flag…

        • bbmoney

          Yeah scouting reports I’ve read on him (never seen him myself) worry about a lot of swing an miss for a 23 year old in the minors. Could make him a ‘low’ average guy and not let the power play as well.

          The fact that his numbers were put up in the PCL and Texas League the past couple years make them somewhat less gawdy as well.

          • dw8

            I’ve read and heard about him getting Mike Cameron comps. I consider that pretty high praise

  • arta

    love it!

  • newsguy23

    It took me 10 minutes to remember my password as I don’t comment much here anymore. Seems to be the same old people railing on the same people. Not to uphold anyone but I like the fact that Jon has balls and doesn’t drink the crap that he is being served. He is being quite honest with his thoughts. I actually like it. It just seems to be Brett is always on the side of management, payroll like. I enjoy the fact that someone can disagree and have his thoughts. I for one am really concerned that many prospects don’t pan out. I am not saying to spend money frivolously. My hope is they can rebuild and spend money. With a payroll of around 65 million according the score, I am a little less than enthusiastic about what is happening. Before you throw your rocks and say who would you like them to spend money on there are plenty that were available and still some available. Also its isn’t my money and I don’t care about debt this and that. I just want them to be competitive. I didn’t lose sleep about Tanaka however it shows they have money just choose not to spend it.

    • BWA

      My belief is that they will spend it when the time is right. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 2 big free agents signed next offseason to supplement the wave of prospects that will potentially be coming up and making an impact. They will need to sign some pitching for sure and probably an outfielder.

      • Jon

        The time was never more right than Tanaka.

        The position player pool is really “meh” next year in FA.

        All the TOR starting pitchers outside of Homer Bailey are 29 or older next year year.

        • Voice of Reason

          Jon:

          The timing WAS NOT right for Tanaka.

          The franchise shouldn’t be signing players to big contracts because we are not at that point yet.

          And, Tanaka was not going to come to the Cubs right now.

          If Tanaka would have waited two years and come in 2016 THEN the Cubs could have had a better chance of selling him on the future of the team and the Cubs organization.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Disagree VOR, I liked the timing to sign Tanaka. The franchise shouldn’t be signing 30 year old players to big contracts because they are not at that point yet. Tanaka is 25. He would have had a season or two to adjust to the big leagues, and then when the Cubs have a better chance to compete, he would still have multiple prime years left.

            Big deals to Ellsbury, Choo, Cano-No
            Big deal to Tanaka-Yes

          • Jon

            “The franchise shouldn’t be signing players to big contracts because we are not at that point yet.”

            This is a “loser” mentality in my book, so we will never agree on that I suppose.

          • On The Farm

            “The timing WAS right for Tanaka.”

            Fixed it for you. It is always the right time to sign a 25 year old 4 win pitcher. It accelerates the rebuild by an ace (which are extremely rare to find”. To say that signing him is not the right time because the Cubs aren’t competing next year is the WRONG way to think about this. The Cubs would also have him for the next 6 years after the poor 2014 season.

            Sorry, but you are buying way too much into tanking if you think Tanaka was not the right thing to do. Want to know how I know your wrong? Because the Cubs Front Office actually tried to sign Tanaka. If he made zero sense at all to sign, they wouldn’t have even submitted a $20 M bid to get his rights. Obviously they thought he could help, hence the trying to sign him.

            • Jon

              Assuming that that they only offered 120/6(and that is an assumption) where they in it solely to get him, or for good will with the fans?

              It cost a few plane tickets and man hours to pursue Tanaka. It would have been interesting to see if this was a non-refundable fee that all teams had to pay that wanted him, what would have happened then,

              • On The Farm

                Well we don’t know they didn’t offer 7 years. I thought I read that if any team was going to sign Tanaka he was looking for a 7th year. I was actually agreeing with you, and it doesn’t really matter since they would have him at the same price/year. Whether they would have him for 5 or 6 years after a poor 2014 really doesn’t matter if he is a 4 win pitcher. It’s all about cutting down the time on the rebuild which is what everyone wants.

            • Voice of Reason

              And, the Cubs have never “pulled the wool” over our eyes before in saying they tried their hardest to sign so and so, but it just didn’t work out…..

              You’re saying that Tanaka is an ace? The so called experts project him as a #2. A little premature to say he is an ace.

              Players and games aren’t won or successful on paper. We don’t know what Tanaka is going to do with the Yanks. He is projected as a #2. I don’t want to pay $25 million a year for a #2. He could be better, he could be worse. Save that $25 million for when we are a really good starter away and make a trade or sign one as a free agent at that time.

              Put down whatever you want on paper. I said it from the start that he wasn’t coming to the Cubs and I said he would go to the Yanks or the Dodgers. I’m glad he isn’t a Cub! Too much money for uncertainty.

              • On The Farm

                They said the same thing about Yu Darvish, the same thing about Cespedes, and the same thing about Puig.

                The fact of the matter is the Cubs are spending a ton of money on the FO being the best of the best. Pouring money to make our scouting department the best of the best. McLeod is considered one of the best minds in scouting. These guys aren’t paid to be scared of risk that these players won’t live up to expectations. In fact McLeod even came out and said they had been scouting Tanaka for years. They should know exactly what they are seeing and should project for Tanaka. Sure the uncertainty is there for the fans. But, do you honestly believe we have the same information that FOs have on players? Not a chance. The Cubs should know what Tanaka was worth and you can call it playing games on paper if you want, but the simple fact is the Cubs are paying these guys to be the best in the industry and if they can’t live up to those standards time to go find someone who can.

                And while some in the industry are saying Tanaka will never be more than a #2, some are saying he could be an ace. Just using one or two scouts view on Tanaka to fit your narrative isn’t looking at the whole pitcher. If you are going to say games aren’t played on paper, then you also need to accept the fact that scouts can be wrong on a player and Tanaka could be way better than a #2 and he is still young enough to actually become a better pitcher.

                So, it could be premature to call him an ace, and it could also be premature to write him off as not being an ace. How do we know that a 29/30 year old Homer Bailey that they sign the next season won’t blow out his arm (a risk that increases with a pitchers age). How is investing that money in an older arm that much more of a better investment.

                • Voice of Reason

                  You bet we’re paying the front office big bucks and they are doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID THEY WOULD DO!

                  Now, we’ll just have to be patient. Let the minor leagues develop.

                  You run the Cubs like a business. How can you invest $25 million into something when you have no track record of performance? It’s a big risk. With Garza, Santana, Jimenez, we have something to gauge them by.

                  The front office isn’t pouting over the loss of Tanaka. Less than a year ago nobody had even heard of this guy. We didn’t even know up until a month ago if he would be available. Now, everyone is up in arms that we missed on him and the rebuild is in jeopardy.

                  Our front office has a much bigger picture and isn’t as short sighted as many on this little message board.

                  • On The Farm

                    “You run the Cubs like a business. How can you invest $25 million into something when you have no track record of performance? It’s a big risk. With Garza, Santana, Jimenez, we have something to gauge them by.”

                    Exactly, and companies that don’t take risks often get left behind by new start up companies. Do you think Google or Microsoft would be as big if they didn’t constantly spend millions of dollars on up-and-comers who present a potential risk to making their company obsolete? Sometimes business have to take risks to make sure they survive.

                    “Less than a year ago nobody had even heard of this guy. ”

                    Maybe you have never heard of this guy, but that goes against what McLeod says when he said their team has been scouting Tanaka FOR YEARS. Also, if the Cubs FO is only finding out about players the same time I am, they are doing a really poor job. They need to find the next big thing before he is a big thing.

                    “Our front office has a much bigger picture and isn’t as short sighted as many on this little message board.”

                    You are still ignoring the fact they tried to sign Tanaka. I am not being short sighted because I wanted to sign a potential 4 win pitcher. For the record, I never said the Cubs should have outbid the Yankees, I disagreed with your original statement in which you said now is not the right time to sign Tanaka. You sign 25 year old talent when you can get it. You should be the voice of delusion, because you are clearly missing something and ignoring when I point out your flaws.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      On the Farm:

                      this is all I need to quote from the post you just made which rivals the Bible in length:

                      “You sign 25 year old talent when you can get it. ”

                      That’s all I needed to read. the problem is you don’t know what you’re getting with Tanaka. You say “talent”, but you just don’t know! And, for $25 million bucks you can’t afford to swing and miss. You say not signing Tanaka hurt and I’ll say that signing him would have hurt more when he doesn’t pitch like a #2.

                      Again, you want to say on paper he is a 4 win pitcher. On paper, the Cubs weren’t supposed to lose so many games last year and the Yanks were supposed to win so many games. Baseball isn’t won or careers aren’t built on paper.

                    • On The Farm

                      “That’s all I needed to read”

                      Which is the problem, you should probably address the other factual errors I pointed out in your post, but whatever. (also my response was only 3 frickin’ paragraphs, the rest was quoting you, I am starting to realize why you have such a hard time understanding everyone on this site. You think three paragraphs is long. You must have poor reading comprehension abilities).

                      “You say “talent”, but you just don’t know! And, for $25 million bucks you can’t afford to swing and miss.”

                      So you must have missed the part of my response saying I said the Cubs SHOULD NOT OUTBID THE YANKEES maybe in all caps you will read it. The point I am making is that you said signing Tanaka was a risk, I agree. But, to say that it wasn’t the right time is just flat out wrong. This is the perfect time to acquire a young TOR arm pitcher.

                      “On paper, the Cubs weren’t supposed to lose so many games last year”

                      Huh? I am pretty sure “on paper” the Cubs were projected to finish in the bottom five of the MLB. They were not a good team. They were on paper, just as bad as they were on the field, that is just a wrong statement. And again, no one expect Puig and Darvish to be as good as they are, but that’s why you take risks! To look like a genius that you knew all along how good X player is.

          • mjhurdle

            The timing was definitely right for Tanaka.
            The cost apparently was not right.
            It is one thing to slightly overpay for a guy that fits what you need. It is another thing to give someone that projects as a #2 the 5th highest contract for a pitcher ever.
            I really wanted Tanaka, but not sure I would go the 180+ million that it probably would have taken to beat the Yankees.
            I guess time will tell which team made the right move.

            • Voice of Reason

              Oh, I’m with you on Tanaka and the money. The timing was right if we could get him for $15 to $18 million.

              $25 million is stupid and not a good investment RIGHT NOW! That’s why the timing was not right. I said it before and I’ll say it again… if we were that ONE STARTER away from going for a World Series ring then I would have been for signing Tanaka.

              Right now… not for $25 million bucks! To say the Cubs should have paid that much for someone they ASSUME will be a #2 is not a good investment for this team RIGHT NOW!

              • Jon

                Really you need to change your name to “Voice of Fantasy Land” if you really think you could get a 25 year old, #2 potential starter(call him whatever you want) for 15 million a year.

                #4 starters can get close to 15 million a year. You have no clue about the current day market.

                • Voice of Reason

                  #2 starters aren’t going for $25 million I can tell you that right now.

                  And, that’s a big assumption that he is a #2. That’s why I’d take him at around $15 million based on where the Cubs are at now. Again, if we needed a strong starter to compete for a title then I’d pay more.

                  • Jon

                    I think a good comp is Mat Latos. 26 years old #2 like starter. If Mat Latos came on the market today, he would get close to the 22 million per year (Tanaka’s actual salary, not including the posting fee). You are not factoring in the premium that includes the guys age, and no costs of draft picks or prospects.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      Latos has a track record of pitching in the major leagues.

                      That’s plays a much bigger factor than age! He could be 22 and flop or what if he was 30 and came in and pitched like Bob Gibson?

                      The problem is we just don’t know! With Latos at 26, there is a track record of success in the major leagues.

                  • twinkletoez

                    Jon Lester
                    James Shields
                    Yu Darvish
                    Anibal Sanchez
                    CJ Wilson

                    All make less then 12mil per year and some around 8-9

                    Cole Hamels
                    Felix Hernandez
                    Justin Verlander
                    Matt Cain
                    Zack Greinke

                    All Make less then 25mil per season

                    Outside of Kershaw’s new deal is there any SP’s actually getting $25 mil? and you want to pay a #2 that much?

                    • Jon

                      And what would those players get if they were on the open market today? I cringe to think what Darvish would get.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Sanchez makes 16/year and CJ Wilson makes between 15 and 16. Lester and Shields were on team friendly extensions from earlier in their career (09 for Lester, 08 for Shields) which bought out arbitration years. Both hit the open market after this year and will command much larger deals. Darvish was limited because he was only able to sign a contract with the Rangers, and if you factor in the posting fee, his contract would be worth more than 18 million/year.

                    • On The Farm

                      ^^ This team friendly extension, plus Darvish only being able to negotiate with one team.

                      Also, how many of them signed these contracts when they were 25, and had more than team that they could sign with?

                    • mjhurdle

                      None of those pitchers are valid comparisons to Tanaka though.
                      Darvish is closest, but his signing situation is so different that comparisons are a bit tricky.
                      The rest are completely different, because they have a record of success against MLB pitching. You aren’t signing Lester wondering and hoping he might be a #2.

                      Tanaka is more akin to a AA/AAA pitcher that projects as a #2.
                      Think of it as a more advanced Paul Blackburn. (not a perfect analogy, but close i think. Tanaka is more advanced, but also has many more miles on his arm). Would you give Paul Blackburn 25 million for 7 years with a 4 year opt out if he dominated AA and his stuff projects to be good #2? Would Blackburn get 25 million on the open market in that situation?
                      I dont think so, but that is just my opinion.
                      I really wanted Tanaka 1) because it isn’t my money and the payroll is currently low and 2) i didn’t mind them taking a risk at this point.
                      But that is a big risk

                    • twinkletoez

                      I am not really comparing them to Tanaka, it was more of an argument that #2 starting pitchers are running $25mil per year, and #4s for $15mil.

                    • Jon

                      Edwin Jackson made 13 million last year and I think he is the prefect definition of a #4 starter.

                      I don’t thinking anyone RATIONAL would argue that it’s a horrible contract.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      Garza just got 13 mil/ year and he is a # 3 at worse. Yes, injury risk, but no opt out risk either. I think you overestimate the #2 Market based on a single (tanaka) data point. Seems like the yanks think he will turn into a number one.

      • Voice of Reason

        I can see the Cubs signing one big bat after the 2014 season.

        If nothing else, just to help get asses in the seats. They will have to do SOMETHING because the 2014 Cubs could set the franchise record for losses.

        • Jon

          Where is the “big FA bat” in 2014 free agency? VOR fantasyland?

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          I disagree that this team will be that bad. They definitely lack pop, but is is reasonable to expect improvement from Rizzo, Castro, Edwin Jackson, Barney (if he plays), and Shark (if he’s here) from last season. The bullpen will be much improved. The outfield platoon doesn’t have a ton of pop, but it Schierholtz/Ruggiano/Sweeney should be reasonably effective. Then there is always the Mike Olt x-factor. I can definitely see this team getting to 70 wins, with 75 not being out of the realm if guys like Baez and Alcantara can make an impact later in the year.

          • Voice of Reason

            The starting pitching is just ok. It could be unwatchable or it could be better than average, but odds are it will just be ok.

            The offense… horrible!! Here is the lineup right now:

            1b Rizzo
            2b Barney
            ss Castillo
            3b Valbuena
            lf Lake
            cf Ruggiano
            rf Schierholtz

            That’s horrible. Probably the worst offensive line up the Cubs have EVER thrown out there.

            This team will lose right around 100 games AND could set the franchise record for losses.

            BUT, there is certainly hope and light at the end of that over 100 year old tunnel!

            • TWC

              No, that is certainly *not* the lineup right now.

              • Voice of Reason

                whoops, castro at short and castillo catching.

                You can say that someone else will play center or there is a platoon, but there all the same players. They are all fourth or fifth outfielders on good teams.

            • Jon

              If they are playing without a catcher and putting Wellington Castillo at short stop, then I’d say that’s a good bet for a very bad team.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              Agree that the rotation is ok, but I don’t think the lineup is as bad as you think. Yes they lose Soriano, but Ruggiano did show some power last year while playing in a power hitters wasteland of a ballpark, and if it wasn’t for an 0 for like 35, his numbers would look a lot better. Castro, Rizzo, and Barney (or Valbuena at 2nd) will all be better offensively. If Castillo can continue what he did in the 2nd half, he will be an above average offensive catcher. Mike Olt doesn’t need to hit for average, but if he can hit for some power at third, it provides some home run potential in the lineup. This offense isn’t good, but it’s no worse than last year, and I actually expect it to be better than last year. The bullpen is leaps and bounds better than last year, and that should add at least 5 wins right there.

              • Voice of Reason

                The rotation is without Garza and Feldman.

                The offense is without Soriano’s bat. Not that he was Babe Ruth, but he was putting up some decent numbers…

                This is a VERRRRRRY bad team!

                Again, I’m ok with it because we are continuing to develop the kids down on the farm. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

    • BT

      Yes, it certainly takes a poster with “balls” to complain about a sports team’s owners/management. Especially on a team with a losing record. You NEVER see that on the internet. Unless you actually go on the internet. And are capable of reading.

      Regardless of the validity of Jon’s position, the idea that it takes some form of bravery to complain about a teams management is beyond laughable.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        …but it is ok if you like Jon’s balls.

  • likquidswordz

    Need more starting pitching prospects

    • Voice of Reason

      Trade your strengths to upgrade your weaknesses.

      It’s hard to find an organization that is solid in every position. We have one of the top minor league systems in the game yet we lack starting pitching.

      That said, props to Theo and the gang. They have certainly developed quite a stable of young minor league talent over a short period of time.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Our pitching strength in the minor leagues could surprise people. We have multiple pitchers who may be in our top 10 for 2015, 2016. Blackburn, Zastryzny, Pineiro, Black, Paniagua, and Ramirez in the minor leagues. Also Grimm and Arrieta have the talent to surprise in the majors. Although several of those may become bullpen pieces, don’t be surprised if 2 or 3 from both lists combined become #2 and #3 pitchers in the Majors. We are obviously lacking a top of the rotation arm, but there’s a strong likelihood we will have one or two of those by July.

    • DarthHater

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we have at least 10 pitchers who could in our top 10. ;-)

      • DarthHater

        *could be in

      • Danny Ballgame

        Maybe even 12

    • Cubbie in NC

      I hope that they do surprise people. The Cubs have a lot of #3 to 5 starters.

      The prospect of having to extend Shark, and sign two other 1-3 starters seems like it is going to be very difficult. Plus another bat is going to be needed at some point once the positions for Baez, Bryant, Alcantra shake out.

  • 26.2CubsFan

    I’m a little tired of the TOR, #2, #3, #4 categorization. There’s more than 1 way to skin a cat/build a roster. It’s obvious to me that the Cubs plan on winning with offense and bullpen in 2015 and beyond. You don’t need a bunch of elite pitchers to be successful, and having a bunch of elite pitchers doesn’t guarantee success (ask the Dodgers or the Tigers of the last 2-3 years). Boston won last year with decent pitching that got hot during the post-season and a solid offense. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are not TOR guys. They’re both #2s by the going logic. Jake Peavy is probably a #4 at this point in his career. They did just fine.

    A rotation of 6 guys (someone is going to get injured, it’s almost guarnteed) who average 3-4WAR with a great offense will get you to the playoffs consistently. Everyone wants to add pitching, and the Cubs have certainly TRIED to do that over the last 2 offseasons, and have produced Edwin Jackson and a bunch of near-misses. They’re just going to have to count on some unproven young arms and win a bunch of 7-8 games on bullpen depth.

    • Jon

      +1 Agreed

    • Jason P

      I agree. Just an FYI, though, the term “top of the rotation starter” generally means #1 or #2, not just #1.

      • 26.2CubsFan

        Fair point, although a lot of people were referring to Tanaka as a “#2 at best” and therefore claiming he wasn’t worth the risk at $20mil per since he wasn’t a TOR.

        Technically, you are correct. And that’s the best kind of correct.

    • On The Farm

      In what world is Jon Lester not an ace? His WAR since joining the roster as a full time starter. 5, 6.2, 5.4, 3.5, 3.2, 4.3. That’s some pretty damn good numbers.

      Either way Buchholz and Lester paired together are two TOR arms which is what you need, two guys who if they are on their pitching games look like #1s. They may not always pitch like “#1s”, but they are a notch below and can turn it on and be a #1 for stretches of time.

      • 26.2CubsFan

        Jon Lester is not an ace in the world where his WAR ranked 49th among pitchers in baseball last year. Buchholz was 20th, so that gets you a little closer, but he’s still not among the top half of opening day starters.

        What I’m saying is, you don’t have to have 2-3 guys who are 5+WAR guys on paper going into the season in order to compete. You can have a bunch of Jon Lesters and other 3WAR guys and counterbalance that with a top 5 offense and be happy with the opening day roster.

    • CubsFaninMS

      I believe the “rating” of a pitcher based on slot in the rotation gets a little nauseating, too. That being said, it is an easy reference and judgment to make, albeit certainly not very accurate. To increase our chances of competing, having two or three top-of-the-rotation arms will be much essential. Honestly, with a better bullpen and MUCH improved offense, our rotation last season before the trade deadline would’ve sufficed for a playoff-caliber team. If Samardzija, Arrieta, and Jackson step up and improve, this year’s rotation has the capability of being just as good (although not highly likely). I fear this season will again squarely rest on the shoulders of our offense which is a very big question mark as of now.

  • Jon

    From Wittenmeyer

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/25120109-573/cubs-failure-to-sign-tanaka-another-blow-to-theos-rebuilding-project.html

    Internal attendance projections that estimated another 300,000 drop from last year — to 2.3 million — could be even worse after the unrealistically high hopes created by some of the exaggerated reports that suggested the Cubs were favorites.

    If I’m not mistaken 300K lost attendance = 18 million in revenue.

    • JB88

      If either Baez or Bryant appear in the majors this year, you’ll see the attendance spike—much in the same way it did when Rizzo came up.

      • Jason P

        There wasn’t an attendance spike when Rizzo came up.

        • jp3

          Rizzo is a solid player but there wasn’t near the hype that Baez or Bryant will get. Not even close I would wager.

          • Jason P

            He wasn’t the same caliber prospect as Baez or Bryant, but Rizzo was hyped pretty highly. There wasn’t much else going on in 2012.

            Maybe there will be a attendance slight bump, but I don’t think anything too substantial.

    • BlameHendry

      He would have needed to pay a reckless price, but it’s honestly something I think he needed to do, and he failed. Would you rather overpay by 5M per year or lose 18M per year in revenue? The viscous cycle continues, and I hope, for Theo’s sake, that his fabled prospects come through and carry him.

      • Jon

        The Ricketts are in over their heads as owners. They need a lifeline.

        • JB88

          As evidenced by your posts, they aren’t the only ones in over their heads …

      • fortyonenorth

        No one failed. Tanaka was not coming to the Cubs. Period. If the Cubs matched the Yankees offer, the Yankees would have offered more. Plus, the opt-out was a deal-killer, as it should have been, for the Cubs. Onward and upward.

        • cubsnivy56

          I agree, it was going to be east coast or west coast (wife) with a team that is ready to win now. I think he made a bad choice, I don’t see the Yankees as a World Series team even with Tanaka. He may in time regret his choice.

    • Kyle

      Well, the good news is that there’s probably some variance to that.

      Sometimes bad teams go like 30-25 for awhile. If we could just get lucky and open the season with that stretch, it would go a long way toward getting some butts into seats through June and could alleviate some of the attendance problems.

      But if we go 1997 Cubs to start the year, all bets are off.

  • MattM

    “The exec said that’s not only ­because of the declining faith among the fan base in what the Cubs are selling for the third-highest ticket prices in the game. There’s also a perception developing within the industry that the Cubs’ business plan won’t support the planned baseball renaissance.”

    That quote is BAD!!!!! I can say also that Vince Genero? (sp) from SABRE and a couple more qualified guys were on MLB network talking about how big of a blow this is for the Cubs! Everyone is starting to actually sit up and see what’s going on except for many Cubs fans.

    The minor league talent they’ve put together is wonderful but what does that mean? When does that minor league talent actually come up and compete? What happens if some of them tank? Do we just continue to wait for new prospects who will then be 3-4 seasons away like we are doing now?

    • BWA

      I think the plan is that by then we won’t have to wait because there is a steady pipeline of young players that can step up and contribute when another one fails. Unfortunately, its going to take 5 years of sucking and way too much lost revenue to get to that point.

  • Kyle

    On the downside, he describes Edwards as “potential No. 3, likely high-leverage reliever” and Pierce Johnson as “potential No. 3, likely No. 4.”

    No potential No. 2s in the entire system.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      You really are a glass half empty kinda guy, huh Kyle??

      • Kyle

        I’m a “whole picture” kind of guy. I know I can count on the rest of you to find the positive stuff.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Fair enough, I’ll be sure to keep it up then

    • JB88

      I see some No. 2 upside in Blackburn and Underwood, and am hoping for that sort of potential in whoever we select at No. 4 this year, but that’s definitely a glaring hole in the organization right now.

      Of course, I think most organizations with top flight rotations ended up with some guys who surprised based on their projections. Hopefully a bit of that luck will grace the Cubs one of these years ….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Actually, that’s where he pegged Blackburn’s potential upside. But your point is well-taken.

  • rabbit

    reports are that garza signed 4 year 52 mil deal with brewers….same deal jackson got…they got a good deal for garza seeing as the market for pitching is disgusting.

    • BlameHendry

      I would have taken Garza on that deal. Don’t know what the FO’s big problem with him is. Then again we probably wont be competing until 4 years from now anyway so he’d be useless to us for 75% of that contract.

    • Jon

      If we could get Jimenez around that figure, I’d wouldn’t mind it at all.

    • willis

      Fantastic. We’ll get to see him dominate the cubs for years to come. This couldn’t be worse…and how in the hell do the Brewers make a move for a proven pitcher and the cubs sit and do nothing but continue to cut payroll? It’s so depressing. Sigh.

      • dw8

        With Garza now in the division, the bunt tournament takes on more importance.

        • cubsnivy56

          LOL +1

      • Norm

        Garza is so good that not a single contender wanted him for a 4yr, $52M contract that didn’t even cost a draft pick.
        One of Keith Law’s chats said he heard teams were scared away by medicals.

        • rabbit

          you could say the same abut ejax

      • Jon

        Garza was never coming back. It would have been kind of award as well… would they have traded him again at the deadline :)

        Now if they aren’t in on Jimenez at this $$$, you have to wonder…

        • Jon

          *awkward

        • willis

          You have to wonder what? I think we already know everything we need to know.

        • rabbit

          I don’t see the Cubs getting Jimenez unless it’s on a one year deal

          • Jon

            Then they are not getting him.

            He makes the most sense of the remaining available options and here’s the kicker for all you prospect and draft pick smeagles,…if he does duplicate last year, you could flip him, for a prospect probably better than whoever you would get in the 2nd round of the draft.

            • willis

              It costs money though, Jon. You’re smart enough to know this team doesn’t spend money at the major league level…crying poor all the way to the bank.

              I’m with you though, it would be a good signing and fills a big need. Too bad.

              • jkt

                Recent post on mlb trade rumors said Cubs final offer on Tanaka was 6/120. Did not say if there was any willingness to go higher, but indicated that the sticking point was an opt out clause. If the front office is willing to spend $120 M on a starter, you can’t rationally argue they aren’t willing to spend money. There is no actual evidence that the front office is trying to “fleece” anyone with disingenuous contract offers. It does look like they exercise discipline in pursuing contracts that will actually help the team.

                I see Jiminez as a signing for the sake of a signing. If they are going to dedicate significant resources to a SP other than Tanaka this off season I would rather see a trade/extend.

            • ari gold

              I think the loss of a 2nd round draft pick is a little overblown. I’d gladly lose a 2nd rounder to sign the likes of Sherzer, Bailey, Masterson, etc. That’s why I hope we get a top 10 protected pick. Would suck to lose a 1st round draft choice if we sign one of them next offseason.

              • jp3

                Crap I forgot about that, is that how high it has to be to be protected? Looks like we’ve set ourselves up for a run at one of those guys then without losing a 1st rounder. No way we finish out of the top 10 in losses.

            • Jon

              I consistently argue that the Cubs are pissing away a market advantage by having a top ten protected pick.

              Here, they can grab a guy like Jiminzez and the cost to them is only a 2nd round pick vs a 1st Provided said player doesn’t become a complete albatross, you can always flip them to for more prospects.

              The only caveat is if players are avoiding the Cubs because they don’t want to be the next deadline flip candidate.

              • Norm

                Being a July flip could be an attractive thing for these players too. A one year, high salary ($19-20M?) could be great for Ubaldo if he can’t get the long term deal he wants.
                He would be guaranteed to end up on a contender and he wouldn’t have draft pick compensation stuck to him heading into free agency, all while still getting $20M.

  • Mr Gonzo

    I’m now inclined to believe that the young bats will need to come up and start producing before any big-time FA SPs are likely to sign. If/when Baez/Bryant come up and live up to or near their hype, they might have more FA SPs wanting to come to CHI than they will need. That will be a good problem to have… in time. #sparklethursdays

  • jammin502

    I have always been a big Junior Lake supporter and have thought that he could be a big time player. There are some guys that get the accolades early and others have to actually go out and earn them. I kind of have this same feeling about Dustin Geiger. Nobody really talks about him, but I think he could surprise.

  • fromthemitten

    “Miguel Cabrera” gave me whiplash.

  • cubbiehawkeye

    I’m ready for the Iowa Cubs to kick the season off. It’s going to be a good summer in Des Moines. Baez mania

  • Laffing Lawyer

    MLB.com currently unveiling its top 100 prospects list:

    100 – Pierce Johnson

    89 – Alcantara

    49 – Soler

    42 – Edwards

    18 – Almora

    Not bad! Glad to see Edwards so high.

    • Laffing Lawyer

      Bryant #9

      • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

        Baez at 7.

    • Laffing Lawyer

      Baez #7

  • YourResidentJag
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