Pitching Depth is Good, But … and Other Bullets

james russell cubsIn satisfaction of an obscure joke lobbed my way on Twitter yesterday: I opted for Cinnamon Toast Crunch this morning.

The truth is, I’m something of a cereal nut. Presently, I have the following cereal options available to me in the house: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Peanut Butter Crunch, Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries, Frosted Flakes, Rice Crispies, Cocoa Crispies, Trix, Multigrain Cherios, Kashi, Honey Bunches of Oats (with Almonds), Special K, and Cracklin’ Oat Bran. Variety is the spice of life, and cereal lasts a very long time. Also, I eat a crapton of it.

  • It sounds like pitching coach Chris Bosio is pleased with the Cubs’ depth in the rotation and the bullpen, if nothing else. Bosio tells Tony Andracki that having Wesley Wright – the long-awaited second lefty – in the bullpen is going to make a huge difference, given how much James Russell has had to shoulder over the last two and a half years (Russell was not only the primary lefty, but was also one of the primary setup men). The Cubs do have an extreme volume of depth for the bullpen, and they also have a ton of back-end starting options. These are good things. What they lack, however, is a high volume of difference-making arms. It’s unlikely that that will change between now and Opening Day, even if the Cubs do add another starter, so the depth will have to carry the day. That should make for a slightly less bumpy post-July period (the same was largely true in 2013 thanks to the addition of Jake Arrieta and development of Chris Rusin – remember the Justin Germano/Jason Berken/Brooks Raley/Chris Rusin era of 2012?), but, as in recent years, that’ll mean only so much if the Cubs are careening toward another 90+ loss season.
  • The Cubs are packing up for, and heading out to, Spring Training in Mesa.
  • A write-up on the top talents in the Cubs’ farm system in Vine Line, I believe from Sahadev Sharma.
  • Jim Callis says the Cubs have the 6th best pitcher/hitter prospect combo in the minors, with Javier Baez and C.J. Edwards.
  • Speaking of which, looking at top ten prospect lists over the years – many hits, many misses. Not that you didn’t already know that. But it’s a reminder that guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, even as elite as they are, aren’t locks to be good in the big leagues – or even serviceable.
  • Starlin Castro is listed among five players by David Schoenfield for whom 2014 is a make-or-break year. Castro turns 24 in March, so I don’t think that’s quite fair to say … but it’s surely an important year for him to turn things around a bit.
  • Jayson Stark on the legacy of Bud Selig’s commissionership, one year before he is set to retire. It is certainly a rosy portrait, and, for all of issues with Selig’s time, it was clearly a prosperous and peaceful time for baseball. Even if you don’t care for some particulars, the devil that you know …
  • MLB has approved padded caps for players, with the intention of providing protection from line drives for pitchers. The problem? It doesn’t sound like anyone is actually interested in wearing the version that’s been created. It is apparently too bulky, too hot, and doesn’t sit well as the player moves. Safety is paramount, but I can understand why pitchers wouldn’t want to risk their performance being negatively impacted. Kind of a sticky wicket.
  • Relevant insofar as it involves “pro” sports and Chicago: football players at Northwestern are formally trying to join a labor union. This could be the start of something.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

125 responses to “Pitching Depth is Good, But … and Other Bullets”

  1. Fishin Phil

    Kashi is not cereal. It is a collection of twigs, bark and nuts.

    1. Brocktoon

      Golean crunch is heaven on earth

  2. CubFan Paul

    I’m a 2% milk kind of guy. Makes cereal taste better.

    Although, I have been seeing a commercial for vanilla milk or something…

    1. sleepy

      I like 2% too, but find 1% to be pretty good. Skim milk just doest cut it.

      1. ssckelley

        Me neither, to me skim milk is like pouring milk flavored water on my cereal.

  3. Jon

    Indeed, not all prospects, even the elite ones pan out. Unfortunately, the Cubs have kind of “hitched their wagons” in terms of any future success to the assumption that most of these prospects will pan out.

    1. The Instructor

      They have definitely “hitched their wagons” to this. The front office has sold the fans on this and as a result provided a less than quality product at the major league level due to this. I am all for a good farm system. I think it is absolutely necessary for “sustained success.” But what happens when only one of these big four work out and we still have a weak big league roster in two years? What then? Are the big signs in the outfield gonna save the day?

      1. Jon

        Here lies the problem..you are dependent on 4-5 kids to raise a 65 win team to a 85-90 win team. Those are unrealistic expectations. Why not focus on the margins in free agency and trades and try to bring this team to around 75-80 wins and then your influx from the farms system puts you offer the top.

        1. MattM

          That’s what I’ve been saying all along! What does happen WHEN this occurs! Teams don’t have EVERY first round pick come up and be awesome. It does not work that way! They have no back up plan other than to turn around and do the same thing over and over until they hopefully get lucky and every employee finally pans out…

      2. CubFan Paul

        “what happens when only one of these big four work out and we still have a weak big league roster in two years?”

        You answered your own question. Yes the advertising and signage will pump more money back into baseball operations.

        Hopefully as soon as this year with the new RF signage going up.

        1. Jon

          What is the definition of “working out” ?

          I think ideally, we would like Bryant to become a 5-6 win 3rd baseman(or OF), Baez same, for wherever we plays. I think expectations for Almora and Soler are solid 3-4 win players in the outfield.

          But if only one player becomes that 5-6 win all star player and the rest are just kind of “meh” (1-2 win players that hang on the roster) the Cubs are in trouble.

          1. CubFan Paul

            “and the rest are just kind of “meh” (1-2 win players that hang on the roster) the Cubs are in trouble”

            Not everyone’s top few prospects become all stars/valuable players. By your definition 20 plus teams would be in trouble.

            1. scorecardpaul

              Sorry CubFan Paul, this is where you are missing his point. We are doing nothing with the big club but tanking. Most teams try to build through any means that they can afford. I am still good with the plan, but we need to be able to see the point that Jon is trying to make. His point is very valid. If all of our prospects suck, we will be in a world of hurt. The point that I feel Jon is missing is that we hopefully have better people in place now to draft and develop our players. I have real hope in our prospects, but he doesn’t.

              1. CubFan Paul

                “this is where you are missing his point”

                No i’m not. I just don’t agree with “If all of our prospects suck, we will be in a world of hurt”

                “doing nothing with the big club but tanking”

                That’s “the plan”. Hopefully we draft another polished Bryant or Almora in June 2015 after getting another one of them this June.

                “I have real hope in our prospects, but he doesn’t”

                I want Logan Watkins to get 500 at-bats this year.

        2. brickhouse

          How do you know the money from the signage will go back into baseball operations ? Couldn’t the money be used for the renovasion /expansion ?

          1. CubFan Paul

            “How do you know the money from the signage will go back into baseball operations ?”

            That’s the promise. “the plan” is waiting on revenues.

            1. smackafilieyo

              I think the new tv deal will help out with the payroll too…

              1. CubFan Paul

                It definitely should come 2015.

                If not Ricketts is not a man of his word.

                (he already isn’t because revenues have gone up since he’s taken over and even moreso since Theo&Co have been in place)

                1. MightyBear

                  Revenues have gone up? Evidence please.

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    Crane Kenney has been a busy boy.

                    He’s earned every bit of that extension Ricketts recently gave him.

        3. The Instructor

          So without the signs, cubs can only afford a 65 million dollar payroll? But with the signs all of a sudden they can afford to spend? How did the tribune manage to spend so much money?

          1. CubFan Paul

            “So without the signs, cubs can only afford a 65 million dollar payroll? ”

            No, only about $105M-$110M

            “But with the signs all of a sudden they can afford to spend?”

            Exactly. More money = more spending.

            “How did the tribune manage to spend so much money?”

            They bought the team for $20M not $850M

    2. ari gold

      Can we go 1 day without you complaining. Just 1 friggin day!

      1. Fishin Phil

        No, apparently not. We need a baseball game to break out, that might distract everyone for a while.

        1. hansman

          Nope…just more complaining about lineups and bullpen usage.

          I give Renteria 2 weeks before someone says to fire him.

          1. Greenroom

            For some people on here, 2 weeks is optimistic. :)

    3. Javier Bryant

      Which is why they’re trying to add as much impact talent as possible

    4. AP

      The other end of that is that the Cubs have a very, very deep farm system. So while top prospects don’t always pan out, the fact is that some of the lower end guys that no one is talking about, do pan out. The Cubs’ system isn’t just 4 deep, they’ve developed a farm system replete with guys who have a chance of sticking at the major league level and they’re trying to give all their guys the best chance of developing properly in the minors to make that happen. This doesn’t mean the whole team will come from the system, but just because the top end talent might not work out, doesn’t mean the whole system is dead.

    5. mjhurdle

      I would say the Cubs’ success is more tied to the continued strength of the minor league system as a whole, not on the dream that each of the Big 4 becomes 6+ win players.

      1. Jon

        I should have said “near term success”.

        There are some nice pitching options coming up in free agency(assuming they make it).

        But the cupboard is bare in terms of position players in free agency the next couple of years… it’s really ugly. The Cubs have to hope the pendulum swings a bit and position players start turning down these deals that buy out their arbitration so they can cash in on the UFA madness.

        1. mjhurdle

          around this time every year, the next year’s FA class is always said to “look weak” or “lack impact talent” and yet come November there will be 2-3 impact guys out there that everyone is screaming for. Happens every year.

          1. Jon

            Who though? Who is available(or on the radar) in terms of stud position players? I’ve done some brief research and can’t think of anyone to save my life.

            We know the players in terms of pitching, and we hope the suspects like Bailey, Masterson make it to FA.

          2. Brocktoon

            I’d say the opposite is true. FA classes always look good 12-24 months before they happen then magically the other 29 teams realize they can exchange their money on goods and services and the class is cut in half

    6. dunston donuts

      I think the Cubs are thinking the depth of the farm system will pan out. I don’t know that they think all the elite prospects will pan out. The expectations are just higher on the elite prospects.

      Many elite MLB players weren’t originally ranked as elite prospects. The depth of the farm system should generate the future of the MLB team. I think a few guys will surprise us this year. Keeping the depth of the farm system intact should be the goal.

  4. The Instructor

    What could be the results of a successful union formation at northwestern? Could this lead to college athletes getting paid?

    1. Jon

      I think you mean, getting paid “legally”

      1. conysdad

        I think he means, “all getting paid and not just the stars getting peanuts under the table.”

        1. mjhurdle

          I’m still paying off the college “peanuts” that the stars got, hard to feel much sympathy there.

    2. CubFan Paul

      They should be more concerned with Michigan and Ohio State.

      1. mdavis

        from what i read, its not to get paid, and this movement will only apply to private schools. What the N’western kids are making a movement towards is having better health coverage and things of that nature.

        1. mdavis

          also its about having representation within the NCAA, which as a former college athlete i think is a great thing. NCAA is incredibly corrupt in my humble opinon, and considering the billions of dollars these kids bring into their institutions and the NCAA, they should have a voice when it comes to certain topics.

          1. Brocktoon

            But it’s such a tiny percentage of ncaa athletes that bring in those billions of dollars. Does the 3rd string punter for Nevada get a say too?

        2. scorecardpaul

          I don’t know why every body in today’s world thinks that they need free protection and help for life? If I tore my knee up while I was in college my university wouldn’t have paid a dime. My insurance that I paid for would have paid until I was better. What ever happened to taking care of yourself?

          1. Brocktoon

            If you got acid in your eye blinding you during an improperly supervised chemistry experiment would be a better analogy

  5. When The Musics Over

    Try mixing sometime. It’s awesome.

    Cocoa Puffs and Golden Grahams is a real good one.

  6. brainiac

    i read stark’s piece earlier. he’s known for looking only at positives, and why not since sports is entertainment?

    no doubt that selig improved the bottom line for baseball dramatically during his tenure. but he also oversaw the widest enterprise of player and staff cheating in the history of sports. to the point where no major stars from his era even qualify as legacies for the sport’s enshrinement. he also allowed baseball inequities to expand dramatically, so that some teams would never have high payrolls and others would pull away and simply be able to buy playoff teams. it’s a checkered legacy, one in which fairness was a lesser value in a sport defined by its aspirations to emulate integrity.

    1. Luke

      To be fair, he also oversaw the efforts in the last CBA to close that economic disparity.

      With some success, it seems, at least so far. The IFA field is much more level, most teams are much more concerned about the luxury tax than they used to be, revenue sharing is up (I believe). We’re aren’t there yet, but I think the trend is moving in the right direction.

      1. Jon

        Selig is a plague. He’s done nothing to close any economic disparity. The latest CBA screwed small market teams like the Pirates. Overspending in the draft was their last “lifeline” so to speak, in terms of even trying to keep up with the big boys.

        Worst professional sports commish in the modern era. The only worse ones were the racist commissioners in the early 20th century.

        1. hansman

          Football did a much worse job handling concussions.

          1. mjhurdle

            “Football is doing a much worse job handling concussions.”


            1. Jon

              Baseball just banned home plate collisions this year. I’m sure if Selig was NFL commissioner you would still be able to crown your helmet into a QB or defenseless receiver.

              1. Jon

                Football is just in rough spot with this…it’s kind of the nature of the game.

                My prediction is that HS football will be a thing of the past 20 years from now.

                Did boxing used to be a HS sport?

    2. Edwin

      I’d pump the breaks on “widest enterprise of player and staff cheating in the history of sports”. Baseball was an incredibly dirty game from the start. One team even threw a world series. And players have been popping pills and trying to cheat since the 60′s. Only difference is now those pills are more effective.

      Selig probably should have done more, and done more sooner to take a stand against PED’s, but it’s human nature to cheat.

      1. Brocktoon

        Nope the heroes of yesterday never cheated. Cheating in baseball started when guys started hitting a lot of hrs. It’s science.

        The worst thing Selig has done for the sport is bad mouth it nonstop for the last 20 years. He was a right place right time doofus.

    3. TWC

      “… the widest enterprise of player and staff cheating in the history of sports …”

      Obviously you’re not familiar with the sport of cycling.

      1. Jon

        yeah, but nobody really cares about cycling…

      2. brainiac

        hah – or more appropriately, i don’t care because i’m not a frog.

        1. TWC

          Well, so long as your dismissiveness doesn’t get in the way of your ignorance, good for you.

          1. brainiac

            the real question is why are you so dedicated to defending cheating in baseball?

            1. TWC

              Now you’re just making shit up. I’m not interested.

              1. brainiac

                i still don’t think you actually did anything to convince us that selig was a good commissioner. though i get that you like potatoes.

                1. TWC

                  I said nothing about Selig.

                  Just because I take exception to your rhetoric doesn’t mean I’m taking a diametrically opposed position.

      3. mjhurdle

        obviously doesn’t follow much international football either. Not sure there is a dirtier sport in the world.

  7. CubFan Paul

    “it’s a reminder that guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant,…aren’t locks to be good in the big leagues – or even serviceable”

    They’re close to locks, because they’re blue chippers/5 Star prospects.

  8. Edwin

    A few more kids cereals than I expected.

  9. Soda Popinski

    Here’s that top 10 prospect list Brett was talking about. It starts in 1994. I thought it was pretty interesting to see:


    1. Oregon Cubs Fan

      Great and interesting read. It is sad to look at the lists and notice the lack of Cubs prospects. After the Wood, Patterson and Prior, Cubs are almost non existent – even in the “other notables.” Sad statement about our drafting and development in the ’90′s and early 2000′s.

  10. Austin8466

    Look, I’m all about Unions, but what exactly are these kids going to collectively bargain for? Something deemed illegal by the NCAA and their Conference? Doesn’t seem like this is going to go very far.

    1. Edwin

      It’s not, but hopefully it raises awareness and gets the discussion started.

  11. mr. mac

    Cinnamon Life cereal is where it’s at, dude.

    1. mxb

      yes on Cinnamon Life. The Vanilla Life cereal is new and when added with Vanilla soy milk, it is an awesome breakfast or lunch or snack or dinner.

  12. TWC

    So when I say that a real breakfast must involve homemade sourdough toast covered with homemade almond butter, along side a bowl of home-mixed oats, chia, and hemp hearts hot cereal, covered in dried raisins, cherries, and blueberries, that’s when you roll your collective eyes, and sigh (disdainfully), right?

    1. On The Farm

      I more or less wonder where you have the time to have any of that on hand.

      1. hansman

        I’m sure Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s carries all of that.

        1. TWC

          Well, as I said, the bread is typically homemade, the almonds are bought in bulk at the farmers’ market (or sometimes Costco) before being roasted and ground at home. Oats are bought in bulk at the local natural foods shop; the chia, too. Hemp hearts are from Costco. Dried fruit is, yes, from Trader Joe’s.

          I don’t care much for Whole Foods.

          1. DarthHater

            I assume that your computer was also hand-crafted using silicon mined in your backyard?

            1. TWC


            2. DarthHater
          2. hansman

            But you could get all of that at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

            Didn’t mean to offend you so…

            1. TWC

              One *could*, but where’s the fun in that? But I’m certainly not offended. I just don’t care for Whole Foods. Eating well and fresh shouldn’t — and doesn’t — require paying the premium that Whole Foods demands.

              Nevertheless, I’m well aware that our family lifestyle shades a touch into the anachronistic.

              1. hansman

                Eh, with how popular farmer’s markets and the “green” movement are. It’s just another sub-culture in America.

    2. Fishin Phil


    3. DarthHater

      No, man, we were sighing disdainfully looooong before that. :-P

    4. mjhurdle

      I would sigh, but I dont want to interrupt my bacon eating.

      1. TWC

        See, the bacon and eggs are more of a weekend thing for me, along with some potatoes (yes, often homegrown). I’m trying to hold off on the inevitable chicken coop that my wife and son so very dearly want, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to resist — there’s not much better than still-warm fresh eggs.

        1. mjhurdle

          potatoes (non-fried versions) are one of the most underrated of the breakfast foods in my opinion.

          1. hansman

            The potato is one of the most underrated foods.

            So tasty when done right and so good for you.

            1. TWC

              And incredibly easy to grow for oneself.

              1. CubFan Paul

                Seriously? I eat a lot potatoes…

                1. TWC

                  Yeah, no digging required, really. New potatoes form above the seed tuber, so they’re really easy to grow vertically (no digging required). I typically put a couple of shovels full of compost in a pile, put the seed potatoes on top, and continue to bury them as they grow for a few months. Once they flower and/or the tops begin to die back, the potatoes are ready.

                  There are even simpler ways, too. I’ve read articles about potatoes being grown in old trash cans filled with straw, etc.

                  1. Internet Random

                    I’ve seen people grow them in old tires, adding a tire to the stack and more soil as needed.

                    1. TWC

                      Yep. They’re really one of the easier vegetables to grow. In some places in the country you can get 3 or 4 harvests a year. In a typical Chicago summer you might be able to eke out 2.

            2. mjhurdle

              and there are so many ways to do them right

          2. CubFan Paul

            “potatoes (non-fried versions)”

            for breakfast?

            Fried potatoes with onions and/or garlic is the BEST.

        2. scorecardpaul

          Funny story, hope it doesn’t get to long. Guy at work had a wife that liked to complain. Had 2 little kids and a chicken, He advised against chickens but was obviously over ruled by wife. He was at McDonalds buying lunch for the family (chicken sandwiches). He’s in line ordering when wife calls histerically yelling at him because “his chicken” just attacked the girl. He finally gets her calmed down enough to realize that it was an issue, but every one was ok. (simply a scratch) Guy returns home with lunch, and calls family to the table to eat. He tries to calm family down, and repeatedly says don’t worry just be glad you are OK. He tries to assure them in a calm manner that it will never happen again, . His wife was constantly nagging at him, and saying stuff like “how can you just eat when your chicken just attacked her” He was trying to stay calm so as to not upset the kids. this continued for about 15 minutes until he finally couldn’t take it any more. He said The damn bird is dead, I cut his head off as soon as I got home,. What more do you want me to do. Can we eat now? Sorry it was so long, and possibly not funny, but if you knew this guy, and heard his version you would still be laughing

    5. Edwin

      What, no pop-tarts? Lame.

  13. Big City Mick

    Actually, the Baez/Edwards would rank #7. If you read the blurb about #2 Alex Meyer/Byron Buxton you’ll see the Twins combination of Kohl Stewart/Miguel Sano would rank #6.

    1. Eternal Pessimist

      Seems like combining the top pitcher/position player combo is one of the more worthless exercises that could be performed.

  14. rabbit

    i love cereal as well especially the sugary ones lol were you like me brett and denied all that goodness as a child and now are making up for lost time

  15. Mr Gonzo

    Here in Austin, breakfast tacos are the choice of champions. Take your favorite combination of: barbacao, bacon, ham, fried garlic potatoes, hash browns, eggs, cheese, green onions, avocados, or re-fried beans… just throw it into a fresh, grilled flour tortilla… it’s an orgasm in your mouth.

    1. Mr Gonzo

      *barbacoa. There is a breakfast taco place on every street corner in Texas.

    2. smackafilieyo

      I love barbacao…..I live in Houston, Texas…and nothing beats breakfast tacos from a taco truck

    3. TWC

      Well, with the exception of that final simile, that does sound delicious.

      1. smackafilieyo

        That or any Cracker Barrel in the US is damn good….

  16. Patrick W.

    Even put in the ellipsis!

  17. Sect208Row8

    Blueberry mini wheats from Aldi’s. 1.79 for a box of joy. I loved how cocoa pops turned the milk chocolate. I sold cookie’s for 8 years (we had both Cubs and Sox buckets) and the package and cardboard box can cost more than the product. Locals remember Maurice Lennel pinwheels and jelly stars.

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