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javier baez aflI liked being able to tell The Wife the other night, when a certain rapper won an award at the Grammy’s, “That’s Robinson Cano’s agent.” I was even happier when she responded, “I know,” instead of, “Who’s Robinson Cano?”

  • On the heels of BP’s top 101 prospects, Jason Parks chatted about the list, and Cubs fans turned out in droves to ask questions (the first two questions were Cubs-related). Among Parks’ thoughts: (1) if C.J. Edwards can sustain his performance (not just results, but stuff) over a full season’s workload, Parks may change his stance on Edwards’ future as a starter; (2) Jorge Soler could be in the show in 2015, and he could be a 30-homer guy (but there’s a lot of work needed for him to get to that ceiling – nice to have more confidence in the development staff than in years past, yes?); (3) on why Javier Baez has a case to be the number one prospect in baseball: “It was put to me this way, which helped tun the light on a bit (even though we’ve been high on him and I’ve seen him play before): Baez could end a 40 HR shortstop. That’s his ceiling. That’s actually a possibility. Likely? Not sure. But its possible. How many prospects in baseball can make such a claim? That’s a truly elite ceiling. That’s a generational talent. That’s why he has a case for #1.”; (4) Parks believes Kris Bryant will see time in the big leagues this year; and (5) Albert Almora’s poor (relatively-speaking) speed will always hold him back in center field, even if everything else he does out there is fantastic.
  • You got the sense throughout the chat, by the way, that Parks believes Javier Baez is the best prospect in baseball, in terms of ceiling.
  • In her latest Q&A thing, among other things, Carrie Muskat implies that the outfield could see a great deal of moving around, with Justin Ruggiano and Junior Lake seeing time in multiple positions (including center field). While I still think it’s a lock that Ryan Sweeney will see the majority of starts in center, I’d still really like to see what Lake could do there, if given a meaningful shot. It’s still hard to see Lake’s bat playing in left, but if he were able to play average or above-average defense in center? Then he might become an asset. From there, Sweeney could still play regularly against righties, but, heading into 2015, he could be more of a fourth outfielder, where he may be better suited (and, to be clear, Sweeney could be an excellent fourth outfielder).
  • Apropos of yesterday’s Santana/Jimenez discussion, Jeff Sullivan writes about which teams could net the most wins by signing Ervin or Ubaldo. The Cubs aren’t high on the list (presumably because, since the offense ain’t great, adding an upgrade in the rotation doesn’t really add many more wins), but the Reds, Giants, Phillies, Astros, and White Sox are. I guess it’s kind of a compliment to the Cubs’ rotation, but a criticism of the offense.
  • Dan Szymborski chats at FanGraphs, and notes, among other things, that he expects the NL Wild Card battle to look a lot like last year’s (i.e., Pirates and Reds at the top of the heap). He also still projects the Astros to be worse than the Cubs. Huzzah!
  • The Phillies have hired someone to work on analytics in their front office. It is 2014.
  • For those who haven’t been following, Jay has been reviewing the Bears’ positional groups, and he just hit one of the more eye-pleasing ones: the ball carriers. That means Matt Forte. That means awesomeness.
  • Austin8466

    I’m not familiar on Parks’ stance on Edwards as a starter. Does he or doesn’t he think he can be a starter in the bigs?

    • ssckelley

      Everyone that I have read thinks he has starter stuff, the durability is the big question.

    • Canadian Cubs Fan

      Yeah, it’s the size of his frame that seems to be an issue with scouts, but you could point to a ton of “smallish” pitchers that have had great MLB careers.

      • mdavis

        to me it shouldnt be an issue until he makes it an issue (ex. his stuff falls off, he gets injured etc.) granted they watch the work load in the minors like hawks, but he’ll certainly have more innings this year than last. If he responds well, then we could be cookin with gas. I’m cautiously optimistic. Also glad to see Pierce Johnson getting some love. hey, 2 pitchers in the top #100….improvement!

        hoping for big jumps from Blackburg, Skulina, Zastryny (sp?), and some of the guys from last years draft.

        • Ivy Walls

          Note: Regardless of Edwards/Johnson being in the Top 100 or Top 101 there are 51 pitchers on the MLB list, and 44 on the BP list, therefore by definition Johnson is ranked 51st in MLB and about 41st on BP’s ranking and Edwards is 20th on MLB list and 37th on BP’s.

          When looking at the landscape Edwards’s ranks in the bottom third of a distribution of all clubs on the MLB list and on BP’s more critical assessment both rank in the second third albeit in the top third of a second round. For a club drafting at or near the top this goes to the heart of the club seeking high ceiling talent at the position level. The others mention probably rank in the 102-201 level if at all.

        • CubsFaninMS

          I’ve mentioned this before, but C.J. Edwards has the stuff to be a light’s out closer for years to come for us. Clearly it’s in our best interest to plan for and HOPE he becomes a starter but just consider this bullpen in 2016…

          Arodys Vizcaino
          Jeff Russell
          Brett Parker
          C.J. Edwards
          Justin Grimm
          Pedro Strop

          Throw in a few extra bullpen arms and add the rotation below.. and you have a very solid set of arms.

          (I won’t list out by number for those of us who don’t like the “he’s a #1″ and “he’s a #2 talk)

          Homer Bailey
          Max Scherzer
          Jeff Samardzija
          Travis Wood
          Jake Arrieta/Neil Ramirez/Kyle Hendricks/Pierce Johnson

          Yes, some can easily argue (oh we’ll never get Scherzer AND Bailey) but few can argue we’ll have the budget available to do so. And with as many high-upside position prospects streamrolling through our minor leagues, why not invest heavily in MLB pitching?

          • CubFan Paul

            “Brett Parker”

            I’d replace him with Alberto Cabrera

          • Jon

            The beauty with all that payroll flexibility is that the Cubs can be “in” on both Scherzer and Bailey without actually signing them. The “hunt” for both will be fun and we can award the Cubs the participation trophy and pat them on the back for “really trying hard”

            • baldtaxguy

              It’s definitely fair to be down on any front office who fails to secure the pieces needed to improve the team. They lost out on Tanaka (and others) and therefore, boo for the FO. But this story that the FA process for the Cubs is a theatrical production with the goal being acted out as a ruse is beyond (at least my) belief. I mean, I loved the X-files too, and maybe there is truth out there beyond these facts, but sometimes failure is just that.

              • baldtaxguy

                Actually, most of the time failure is just that…..

    • BenRoethig

      CJ averages less than 5 innings a start. Less than Pierce Johnson who people also have concerns about his future as a starter. If they can pitch 150-160 innings and still be dominant, I’d say there is hope. Especially if given one more season in the minors to stretch out and come up early mid to late 2016.

      • ari gold

        Has nothing to do with innings per start. Once they reach their pitch limit, they’re done.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Most A ball pitchers average right around 5 innings a start. Pitcher at that level tend to be on pitch counts.

        Part of that is to protect the arms, but it also helps make sure that all the pitching prospects in the bullpen (and you can and do have legitimate pitching prospects in the bullpen) get enough innings.

        We’ll get a better sense if Edwards’ durability will be an issue this season in Tennessee. That’s really the first level where starting pitchers are more regularly asked to take the ball into the seventh.

        • CubFan Paul

          “We’ll get a better sense if Edwards’ durability will be an issue this season in Tennessee”

          Yeah we’ll get a better sense, but the book is already out on him

          • Cizzle

            So the book on his durability is out before he’s given his first chance to show his durability?

            • CubFan Paul

              “So the book on his durability is out before he’s given his first chance to show his durability?

              Yes. 2013 wasn’t his 1st year pitching

              • Chef Brian

                You certainly like to talk in definitive statements. Pitchers do improve over time hence the use of words like “floor” and “ceiling”. He will probably gain weight as he gets older. He will grow more. No one including your mentor Parks has closed any books on him.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “You certainly like to talk in definitive statements”

                  On this subject it’s because I knew of Edwards before he pitched *23* innings for the Cubs.

                  • Chef Brian

                    We all follow baseball and I’m pretty sure that most of us were aware of the existence of one, CJ Edwards before his trade to our fine organization. I’m still not sure how his having pitched before his arrival means he has ceased growing as a player? Pitchers generally throw many innings over many seasons before the book can be closed, right? It’s why there are levels of development in the minor leagues. You know your skills progress over time. He hasn’t pitched in AA yet much less AAA. So how is the book closed? I’m just confused by how certain you are that he will never be a starter when no one else can say that as definitively as you. You know people that have actually met him and seen him pitch.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “So how is the book closed?”

                      I never said it was. You’re assuming that i’m talking in “definitive statements” just to argue, instead of adding anything intelligent to the conversation/topic

                      That said, i’ll change my opinion on Edwards when he finds a way to keep on weight. This is not the first offseason he’s been on the protein and cheesburgers diet, nor is it his second or third.

                    • Ivy Walls

                      you all are not interpreting what scouts say and do. They project, not predict and they base their projections on empirical evidence of past percentages and likelihoods based on history of previous players. There are always exceptions in the human competitive experience, but exceptions are not part of the projection rationale.

                      So Edwards as it stands now is anomaly and why he was included in the trade for Garza as the big risk/reward payoff that the Cubs are seeking a TOR starter. Rangers knew it and drafted him as a good bet as a possible bullpen arm based on his physical limits but strong FB.

                      MLB knows a 145# starter is not physically long for the mound, but a 165-175# lanky starter could if he also had the stuff of Pedro be something. How long again no one knows. That is projection.

                      Now how he does in TN will refine a projection. I am hoping he stays healthy, refines his 3-pitch repertoire and gains 10-15#’s to 155-160 this year. Cubs probably have placed him on an individual training regimen and all that. There are skinny players in all sports and gaining mass is nothing that knew, but genes still predominate.

                  • Chef Brian

                    First of all, I have added as much to this conversation as you. You haven’t exactly rattled off any empirical evidence to back your “the book is out on him.” Other than to get pissy as you always do when pushed on your statements. In past conversations you have said that he has no chance of being a starter. All I asked was how do you know? He is a young man with room to grow. That’s it. Right now it’s all projection, he still has a chance to reach his ceiling. That’s all. Why you can’t give that much, I don’t understand. You offered opinion, I offered mine back. As far as intelligence is concerned, tread lightly there fella. You haven’t showed an abundance of that, only inflexibility.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      More e-jerkness.

                      You should learn how to talk to people. Have a nice day.

                    • blublud

                      I don’t think CubsfanPaul knows what evidence is. If you ask him for some, he gonna accuse you of calling him a liar.

                    • Coop

                      The book is out on Paul – he is an ass. And there isn’t much projection for improvement.

              • hansman

                There is a book out on him, but there is room for more pages at the end.

                Like Baez there is a weakness that, as we read the story, we hope the protagonist can overcome that weakness and defeat Voldem…oh, oops, nerd alert.

                Now, the flaw has a chance to be fatal and the protagonist is killed on page 975 but there are more pages to be written.

                • Greenroom

                  All I could think of was this.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTSGp4UdEvQ

                • Napercal

                  Thanks for the summary. If Edwards had been rocked at every level, no one would be talking about him and he’d be looking at an independent minor league team at best. He’s dominated at the lower levels. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him thus far. The limitations in his game thus far have been placed on him by the teams he has played for and are in keeping with all pitchers at those levels. I am shocked by the level of negativity some posters have about Edwards. Projections are educated guesses. He may flame out at AA, he may not. He could easily add 10-20 pounds. He’s still a kid. Let’s enjoy the ride and hope he remains healthy.

              • Chef Brian

                I will Paul. You question my intelligence and contribution, and I’m the jerk. You need to learn how to debate beyond pissy quips and insulting condescension. You need to grow a thicker skin and learn that when people question your opinion it’s not a personal attack.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “it’s not a personal attack”

                  No, the first thing you did was attack at 10:27am:

                  “You certainly like to talk in definitive statements…No one including your mentor Parks has closed any books on him”

                  • blublud

                    Paul, you down talk people call people names on a daily basis, then try to act like victim. Dude, maybe you should learn he to talk to people.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Blubud FTW

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      *Blublud

                    • blublud

                      Wow, maybe I should learn how to type.

        • Edwin

          As well as seeing how Edward’s stuff translates at AA.

          • terencemann

            Yeah, I got the impression Parks just thinks Edwards dominance of A ball was because he was advanced for his level so the real test will come at AA.

      • MightyBear

        I have not heard one scout/analyst/baseball ops person say they have concerns about Johnson as a starter. Support please.

      • CubsFaninMS

        I’ve not seen where anyone has questioned Pierce Johnson being a starter.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    It’s going to be hard to move the stros off of that #1 pick. But I think we can do it.

    • Boogens

      LOL. We’re aiming high this year!

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Here’s hoping we see Baez at Wrigley in June, because by that time we’ll really need a ray of light.

    • BenRoethig

      I’d rather have him ready. He needs to see some more major league type pitch sequencing at AAA and he also needs to work on his defense. There’s also the question of position because of the log jam. You have a 2-time AllStar in Castro, 2 top 10 prospects in Baez and Castro, a guy who was a top-25 prospect going into 2013 in Olt, and Arismendy Alcantara who would be a top prospect in any farm system all vying for 3 positions. Cubs are in a very unique position where they have all-star potential from all 7 fielding positions and al the potential is 25 or younger. There’s also risk involved with every single one of those players, especially when most of them are low-mid average power hitters.

    • Ivy Walls

      Yeah like June 30th so I can see him play a series in Colorado Springs. That would be super. Actually will see him and Alcantara in late April as well, weather permitting of course.

  • Diamondrock

    Question, Brett: I’ve been following baseball for quite a while now, but there are still a lot of things that get thrown out there by the experts that continue to puzzle me (it used to be all the acronyms, but I looked them up and have since internalized them).

    My question is: what exactly do scouts, etc. mean when they say “so-and-so’s bat won’t play at such-and-such a position”? Is there a chart somewhere I missed that says that you have to be a certain kind of hitter to play a specific position? It continues to befuddle me, and it’s not easy to google for an answer.

    • Edwin

      Here’s a start:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/position-adjustments/

      Some positions, like SS or C, are very demanding defensively, so even though a player might not be a great hitter, they can make up for it by playing good defense.

      Other positions, like 1B (or DH), are not very demanding defensively, so to provide more value, a player needs to hit.

      • Diamondrock

        Ah! I see! I figured it was something like that. Thanks, that’s very helpful.

        • Ivy Walls

          A little more complex than that from standard deviation models of both offense and defense WAR’s

          When a person says that Baez has a 40 HR potential at SS that is AROD level, you could put in CF and if he had Mays level defense he would be commensurate. By placing Baez at 3B you diminish his WAR differential value in that even if he is a Gold Glove defender the ideal 3B is a much better overall offensive WAR. Now you can make up for that by having an increased WAR at 2B, (the potential of Alcantara and why Utley or Sandberg or Morgan were so valuable), if Alcantara has Reyes offensive potential at 2B his WAR is projected to be something between 3-6 per year.

          If all were said and done the best possible projection based on positional WAR is that Baez comes in as a SS in 2015 after coming up as a 3B in 2014. if he has 40 HR potential that equates between a 6-9 WAR. If Castro returns to a +3.0 WAR (his then2011, 2012 years) and Cubs trade him for value ideally a TOR pitching prospect. Then Bryant who has a potential WAR value at 3B that is superior joins Alcantara and hopefully an improved Rizzo (with a WAR of 3-6 as well) where Bryant’s WAR is projected between 4-5. The puzzle then gets complete with Soler if he materializes in RF as a ceiling of 30 HR’s and again a WAR of 3-5 and Almora in LF/CF and similar WAR’s

          That is the puzzle, move pieces and WAR’s change, like when we moved Hank White (Henry Blanco) to 1B.

    • Edwin

      For example, Darwin Barney. He’s a pretty bad hitter, even in his “good” year. But since he plays amazing defense and plays a premium defensive position, he was able to provide some decent value in 2012.

      But if he was to switch to 1B, he’d almost all his defensive value, so all you’d be left with is his hitting.

      This type of thinking is helpful when looking at prospects. If a prospect can handle a tougher defensive position like 3B, CF, or SS, it puts less pressure on their bat. If they need to move off the position, it puts more pressure on their bat.

      • BWA

        I wrote about this on the message board at one point. IMO, playing a particular position certainly helps a prospect gain trade value, but as soon as it comes to where they play for the cubs it doesn’t matter a whole lot because if you are moving them off of their best position then you already like who you have playing there. Then they simply become the best option at another position.

  • mdavis

    piggybacking off of Brett’s last bullet, Bears fans should go check out the BN Bears tab if you haven’t. Jay does good work and the few of us over there commenting have some good conversation i’d like to think. Check it out!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nicely done.

  • itzscott

    Can Baez be the Cubs’ Pujols?

    Interested to compare Baez’s numbers with Pujols’ numbers at the same levels to see if the trajectories are similar.

    • EQ76

      it looks like Pujols only had one minor league season..

      • mportsch

        Yeah, Pujols was a weird case. He somehow lasted until the 13th round of the 1999 draft as a 19-year-old with one season of community college under his belt.

        The next season, he tore up single A as a third baseman, got some time at high-A, and even played a few games at AAA.

        Then, as a 21-year-old, he mashed in spring training and made the opening day roster. The rest is history.

        How often do you see a 13th-round pick make the majors after one season in the low minors? As such, it’s hard to compare anybody’s trajectory to that of Pujols.

      • Coop

        Depends on if he has the same pharmacist….

        • beerhelps

          Exactly

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Baez and Pujols looked nothing alike in miLB. Here are some fairly impressive numbers that Pujols put up in his 1 year: 544, 46, 47. Those are his PAs, walks and K’s. He did that while getting 67 extra-base hits, too.

      (Pujols’ walk rate picked up in MLB, although much of that reflected huge numbers of intentional BB; take those out, and his “drawn” walk rate is about 45% higher, which is an unusually big jump only partially explained by the 15% increase in K’s.)

      Given Javier’s miLB numbers, we’d also expect him to get 67 XBH in 544 PAs. However, he’d have only 32 walks and 131 K’s. That’s obviously better raw power to get the same number of XBH in so many fewer ABs: but that’s also a ton more outs.

      The closest thing to a Pujols type of hitter (average walks, low K’s, high power) in the Cubs system is Almora.

      • CubbiesOHCubbies

        I will buy into he walks and K’s being a comp, but where has Almora EVER shown he has anything resembling high power? All projections show his as maybe a 20 homer guy. While that is decent power for a CF, that’s far from high power. Or were you implying he can pop out on balls hit higher than others?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Hence the phrase “closest thing.” LA is closer to Sydney than are either Chicago or Boston. This is not to say that LA is actually close. Ditto that here.

          (However, nearly 1:1 BB:K ratio is very critical and very predictive of MLB BB:K ratios: few people appreciate just how important that has been to Pujols’ value.)

          • JacqueJones

            I’m officially pissed if Almora is any less of a hitter than pujols now. Thanks a lot.

            • DarthHater

              And I’m officially pissed that I can’t drive my car to Sydney. :-P

              • CubsFaninMS

                “And my tiny little nipples just went to France!”

            • DocPeterWimsey

              You need an electric car!

              • hansman

                I think that would end rather tragically as soon as you shoved off from land.

                What Darth needs is this:

                [img]http://www.designbuzz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/amphibious_lamborghini_f1sfm.jpg[/img]

                • DarthHater

                  Awww, shit! Justin Bieber drove his car into the ocean!

                  • ChrisFChi

                    One could only hope

        • BWA

          20 homers certainly isn’t a ton of power, but I think you be surprised how few players did that last year. It’s very much a pitchers game these days.

          • CubFan Paul

            yeah, fans need a crash course on the 20/80 scale and what’s average/above average.

      • Coop

        Damn you and your fancy maths.

      • blublud

        I would argue that Vogs is easily more of a Pujols comp than Almora. Except, Vogs is even better at taking walks. High walk rate, low SO, good contact, lots of power. If Almora is LA in relation to Sidney, than Vogs is Melbourne.

        • hansman

          Vogs has the power but not the K rate (double that of Pujols).

          He’d be floating somewhere off the coast of San Diego.

        • JacqueJones

          There are very few players that have ever played that are on the same continent as Pujols.

          • blublud

            Actually, Vogelbach and Pujols were almost the exact same age when they play A and A+. Vogs numbers are right on par with Pujols. Pujols was better in some areas, Vogs better in others. But they aren’t that far apart.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yeah, I don’t think anybody else would be as close as New Zealand where Pujols’ miLB numbers are concerned!

          Vogelbach might also be on the North American west coast, however. in 544 PAs, we’d expect something like 68 BB, 86 K’s and 57 XBH from Vogelbach. That is more BB, but it also is a lot more K’s without added slugging! I would not be surprised to see his K rate rise (and take his BB rate up with it a touch) as he gets better at “selective aggression.”

          It is different from the near 1:1 BB:K beasts, however: those guys are pretty rare in general.

  • Greenroom

    First, sink or swim, I think we give Lake a decent shot at consistently starting. I agree his value is greater at CF than LF. Given our predicted record this year, the Cubs need to find out what they have with Lake. With the possibility of the moves for 2015, this year would be perfect to see where are chips fall with Lake. I like him, and I hope he sticks at CF. But in the end if he becomes a 4th outfielder, I wouldn’t be that disappointed. With his possible skills, even with his consistency issues, 4th outfielder may be the best case scenario.

    Second, the BN Bears section is awesome. Jay is a great writer and he puts together some good stuff. Definitely more than worth a read for Bears fans. peace~

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “Cubs need to find out what they have with Lake.”

      The Cubs (and everyone else) has 7 years of miLB data with which to do that.

      • Greenroom

        Hey Doc

        So can he hold down the CF position until Almora comes up or some free agent? I am not too familiar with WaR for CF’s. It seems his MiLB data for wOBA and wRC both equate to a pretty decent player. His numbers last year don’t scream all-star but I liked what I saw when he was on the field. I know MLB pitchers will adjust accordingly, but just curious what you see? thanks for the feedback.

  • Jon

    From what I gather, is that Edwards innings limit has been pretty much enforced by the Cubs. I haven’t heard any reports of him wearing down and out of gas after the 5th inning.

    Let’s see how he does this year before writing the book on him, no need to be so negative, all the time.

    • CubFan Paul

      “Let’s see how he does this year before writing the book on him”

      He pitched a 100plus innings last year.

  • ari gold

    Klaw rated the Cubs system #4. Pirates at 3, Cards at 12.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I’ve heard a little talk about Hendricks getting a good look also, but that was said a couple times and not mentioned again. If he is a possibility wouldn’t he be mentioned more?

    • BenRoethig

      Finesse pitchers are hard to get a handle on in the minors. They can easily get minor league hitters out, but there’s considerably less room for error at the major league level since they don’t have a natural out pitch. You do it right, you’re Greg Maddux. You don’t do it right, you’re batting practice.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Except that Maddux threw in the low 90’s…..

        • Coop

          Shhh, please don’t disrupt the popular misconception.

        • hansman

          Is that in cm/s? Othewise, you are WAAAAAAAAAAY off.

        • JacqueJones

          What does him throwing in the 1990’s have anything to do with this?

  • David

    Regarding Mr Baez & his awesomeness. … Does it make sense to start thinking of “protecting” him by putting him in the OF? Isn’t the OF significantly less demanding than short? I think I would want to do everything imaginable to protect our biggest asset by eliminating him from turning a double play & having a guy barrell into him…. 120 times a year. Not to mention the mental aspect of being a shortstop…. I would prefer if Mr Baez not have to worry about being the captain of the infield/ the backbone of the defense. I want him to fully concentrate on hitting 40 bombs and knock in 110 runs for the next 12 years.

    • Kyle

      No. A significant portion of his value comes from his ability to play SS.

      • David

        I believe his offensive production has a lot more value than his defense. Especially in the long run.

        • hansman

          In order to provide comparable defensive value that Baez’ bat brings, you would have to be amazing enough to field the entire left side of the infield and be amazing at it.

          Now, Baez’ bat is more special if he can take the place of a weak hitting SS.

          Last year, there were 6 SS that had an OPS over .700. (and only 1 that was over .800)
          18 at 3B
          14 at 2B
          15 at CF

          The minute he is unable to play SS, he becomes much more ‘average’.

    • CubFan Paul

      I see a CF or a 3B when I project Baez. It’s looking like he’ll end up a 2B out of necessity which would still be okay.

    • DarthHater

      I want him to fully concentrate on not striking out 200 times per season.

    • Jon

      Why does everyone want to move Baez off SS? It’s not like that position is blocked for him at the major league level.

      • DarthHater

        I see what you did there.

      • Ron Bar

        I’ve heard he’s not a Major League short stop. Has a below average glove at the position. He does have a strong arm, maybe outfield makes sense. It’s going to be crowded in that outfield.

        • Jon

          Jon thinks Baez best value to the team is as a middle infielder.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Baez’s glove is much less important than his range. It’s not clear to me how good that is, although a strong arm helps take advantage of quick feet.

          At any rate, look at how productive Jeter has been while routinely giving the opposition more outs than any other starting SS in baseball.

      • Jon

        There hasn’t been a pure 40 home run short stop in baseball since AROD. Now imagine a guy like Baez doing that clean? We are talking a HOF like player. You play him at shortstop at AAA to let him learn his craft defensively there.

        Now, if it comes down to Baez tearing down the door in AAA, you figure out what to do at the big league level. If Castro is still struggling, Baez is now the full time SS and Castro slides to 2nd. If Castro rebounds then you might consider Baez at 2nd.

        These are “good” problems to have.

        • Jon

          also nothing personal against him, but I think Alcantara gets a “weee” bit overrated.

          • On The Farm

            Why is that? Just curious.

            • Jon

              It seems he just got on the map as a major prospect this past season(or maybe I’m incorrect on that).

              I’m just not ready to pencil him in the core yet, because in theory he would have to win a middle infielder job or CF and there is alot of competition there, which of course is a credit to the depth and talent in the system.

              • On The Farm

                Fair enough. I like him quite a bit. I don’t put the expectations on him that I put on Almora, Baez, or Bryant, but I think he more or less deserves his ranking because I think he will be a solid MLB player. Nothing fancy and I can’t think of a comparison off the top of my head, but a league average player with some good pop at 2B.

              • CubFan Paul

                “It seems he just got on the map as a major prospect this past season”

                You are correct. Alcantara became an all of sudden prospect because of success on the field, not hype & projection.

                I’d give him another few hundred at-bats in the minors to refine his switch hitting, then play him at 2B or CF.

        • DarthHater

          Who says Baez is necessarily clean? Have you seen how much he bulked up in the offseason? :-P

    • DocPeterWimsey

      This myth certainly is a tough one to kill. We’ve had a ton of highly productive bats playing middle infield over the last 30 years. None of them had their careers badly hurt by this sort of thing. (Jeter’s big injury came when he was 110 and while trying to catch a ball, not while having someone barrel into him.)

      Add this to what Kyle wrote (remember, your value is based on how much more you produce that the other guys playing YOUR position!), and there is no reason to move Baez from MI. His very low OBP almost certainly will lower his OPS so much that he won’t be spectacular in OF, anyway.

      • Ron Bar

        Isn’t Almora, Soler and Alcantra all of?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Alcantara is MI. I am not sure how that’s germane to how Baez’s bat profiles at different positions, however.

      • JacqueJones

        “your value is based on how much more you produce that the other guys playing YOUR position”

        That’s not entirely true. I cant find the stats right now but I remember seeing that the DH in the AL is currently batting worse than several other positions but that doesnt mean that a good hitting DH is now better than a good hitting 1B. It is about the value that you can provide in the field.

        • JacqueJones

          in 2012 the average WRC+ of centerfielders in the AL was 107 which was higher than every other position besides DH and 1B. A CF still gets a better positional adjustment than RF, and LF and the same adjustment as 2B and 3B because it is just as difficult to be league average CF defensively as it is to be league average defensive 2B/3B.

  • MichaelD

    Actually the Cubs are pretty far down the list in WAR gained by signing those pitchers. That is simply a comparison on the pitching side and nothing to do with hitting. It is a compliment to the quality of the 5th starter and the depth at starter more than anything.

  • mportsch

    I don’t see anything in the Sullivan piece (the one on who improves most with Santana/Jimenez) related to offense. As I understand it, he simply took 200 innings away from the worst starting pitchers in each depth chart and replaced those innings with a 3 WAR, 200 IP season from Santana or Jimenez.

    The Cubs’ placement toward the bottom of the list is a function of the depth of starting pitching options at the Cubs’ disposal. In other words, the Cubs’ worst 200 IP (in this projection) are better than a lot of other teams’ worst 200 IP.

    That said, the depth chart used for the Cubs looks a little wonky to me. The 200 IP being replaced are coming from the following guys:

    Carlos Villanueva
    Casey Coleman (he’s now a reliever)
    Arodys Vizcaino (might now be a reliever, if healthy)
    Justin Grimm
    Liam Hendriks (I think they meant to put Kyle Hendricks)

    Collectively, that group is projected to be pretty decent, so replacing them with a 3 WAR season doesn’t move the needle much.

    I do think the Cubs have solid rotation depth, but the top-end pitching just isn’t there. Adding Tanaka would have made this rotation look a lot better. I’m still hoping for a decent addition (Hammel/Maholm).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Maybe I was reading too much into it, but I was assuming that doing what you lay out doesn’t really tell you the entire story, in terms of the marginal impact of adding a “better” 5th starter. He would mean more on a team that could actually use his performance. Yeah, I might just be overthinking this – part of the reason I started down that train is because ZiPS is out for the Cubs (discussion later today), and it REALLY doesn’t like the Cubs’ back-end of the rotation. In that event, I would have expected the Cubs to be higher on this list.

      • mportsch

        I agree with you – I don’t like the back end of the Cubs’ rotation as much as the Fangraphs depth chart does. I do think that adding a solid starter like Maholm (my preference) or Hammel would be a very smart move, just to reduce the number of turns going to guys with a high risk of disaster.

        I’m sure we’ll discuss it more as the season approaches, but I’m not seeing this Cubs team being as bad as last season. I feel like this is a 77 win team as currently constructed. Adding a guy like Maholm or Hammel would bump that by a win or so.

        Looking forward to the ZiPS discussion!

        • CubFan Paul

          I’d rather those innings go to the Grimms and Brett marshalls of the world in preparation for the 2015 rotation.

          Let Bosio earn his check.

      • MichaelD

        Having looked at this more it really must be a depth issue. The Reds are at the top of the list for gaining from Jiminez or Santana, but they have a decent top 5 rotation. Their fifth starter would almost certainly have to be preferred to the Cubs one. They do not have much beyond those five.

  • Ron Bar

    Santana has a huge flyball rate. He’s would get shelled at Wrigley. If the Cubs get him, it’s another Edwin.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Baez would have to do some very amazing things on a consistent level with his glove to move Castro. Unless Castro has another 2013 season with the bat he’s not moving.
    Thinking about a IF that puts up 40 hrs which he hasn’t done yet would sound better at 3rd anyway.

    • ari gold

      I’d rather have an average SS put up 40 homers than an above average 3B put up 40 homers. Besides, Bryant (if he sticks at 3B) could put up 40 bombs also. Hoping Castro has a monster year and Baez improves at SS. Then maybe Castro gets traded for pitching.

      • Ivy Walls

        hear….here. The best possible option is Castro brings his WAR back to +3, Cubs trade him to a team that needs a SS now and willing to trade TOR pitching prospect…like Miami or Philly or someone who needs a SS for the balance of the decade and willing to live with a good, happy swinging SS. Baez settles into SS as the Cubs pipeline ascends…with power and solid defense in every position. What they are missing is a left handed hitting CF’er (if the best possible defense is Almora if he is a true TOP 20 prospect) in LF and is akin to Ellsbury in offensive production. That left handed CF’er would top off the entire puzzle, if

        Baez continues and can play SS

        IF

        Bryant continues and can play 3B

        If

        Alcantara continues and can play 2B

        If

        Soler continues and can play RF

        if

        Almora continues and can play LF/CF

        and Rizzo improves and Cubs can trade Castro and possibly Olt for value and they get a TOR pitcher and/or catcher to compliment Castillo

        then they can have something….to compete with PITT, STL and CIN

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