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mlb logoThis year’s MLB Draft is still three months away, and the various amateur seasons are only barely underway. But, damn it, if there’s two things Cubs fans really like right now, it’s prospects and drafts. So we might as well at least see what folks in the industry see as the early possibilities for the Cubs, which gives us some names to follow over the course of the season, if nothing else.

The Cubs pick fourth this year, and the good news is that prevailing thought – which could change as the weeks go by – is that there are a solid five or six excellent prospects at the top of this draft, most of whom are interchangeable in terms of projected draft spot behind N.C. State lefty Carlos Rodon, who is a prohibitive favorite to go number one overall. In other words, the Cubs are extremely likely to get another top 100 type prospect out of this draft. (And, when it comes to picking so high, would you bet against this front office getting a stud? I would not.)

In three recent mock drafts, prognosticators have the Cubs taking three of those prospects with their fourth pick.

Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball has the Cubs taking college righty Tyler Beede out of Vanderbilt. Although he was always expected to be a top-half-of-the-first-round type coming into the year, Beede’s stock has rocketed up thanks to (early) indications that he’s honed his control considerably. And, yes, as everyone is likely to point out: Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson worked with Beede when he was a freshman at Vanderbilt.

Dan Kirby at Through the Fence Baseball sees the Cubs opting for the likely top collegiate position player, N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner. We’ve mentioned Turner before because of his blazing, almost Billy Hamilton-esque speed. Turner doesn’t have much pop, but he’s a good hitter who plays excellent defense at short. That the Cubs already have a couple shortstop options in place doesn’t really impact the selection here. As we’ve said countless times, the Cubs will take the best available player, in their view, regardless of position. When you’re picking in the top five, you have to make sure you hit on an elite prospect. You deal with the fallout later.

Finally, MLB Draft Insider has the Cubs taking top high school hitter Alex Jackson, who is nominally a catcher, but whom most believe will eventually move to the outfield. It’s nice to know that, when picking four, the Cubs will definitionally have a shot at at least one of the best high school hitter, the best college hitter, the best high school pitcher, or the best college pitcher. Not that you rank guys in buckets like that for the purposes of making a pick; I’m just saying it’s nice to know.

Among the other big names to follow, outside of Rodon, who will not fall to the Cubs: East Carolina righty Jeff Hoffman, high school righty Tyler Kolek, and high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood. You can read the mock drafts for more on those guys, as well as some more names to follow. As the amateur seasons move forward into April and May, we’ll start to get a slightly better sense of the guys who are emerging as clear top five types.

  • http://www.chicagocubsbleachertickets.com Cub Fan Dan

    I’m fearing that Rodon, Hoffman, Beede go 1-2-3. They’re still in line to get a good player at 4, Id just like to see a closer-to-the-pros pitcher.

    • cubbiekoolaid2015

      I have a feeling the Sox go high ceiling with their 1st pick and select Kolek. Some would argue that Kolek has a highest ceiling in this class.

    • Edwin

      Yeah, ideally it’d be nice of a college arm falls to them, hopefully a fast moving one.

    • Mike Moody

      This would not be terrible for the Cubs. Kolek may well have the highest upside of anyone in the draft — including Rodon — and we could be looking at Roger Clemens/Nolan Ryan here. It’s a guy well worth adding.

      However, keep an eye on Hoffman. He’s struggled a bit with command which has dropped him from consensus #2 to potentially being there for the Cubs. Obviously, taking a pitcher who has struggled is a risk, but the stuff to be special is there. He bears a lot of similarities to Justin Verlander and could be a huge, huge addition for us.

      • MightyBear

        I like Kolek. Any hard throwing kid out of Texas is going to get the Nolan Ryan/Roger Clemens/Kerry Wood comparisons but he throws 100 mph, he’s 18 and has a pretty good head on his shoulders for 18. He would take longer to develop but he might be worth it.

        • Jon

          He throws 100, is 250 pounds and hasn’t been through any collegiate/professional weight program. I fantasy what his stuff could be two years from now.

        • cubbiekoolaid2015

          Plus the fact that if you pick a high schooler in Kolek or Jackson, you’d have a strong second wave of prospects(Eloy, Gleybar, Kolek, ect…) after the first wave comes up… Just like Theo preaches.

          • Chad

            I could care less who they get with the 4th pick because it will be a good player whether it is a pitcher or positions player, high school or college. Pitchers are so hard to project though so that is concerning. I would love to see Rondon slide for some odd reason, but I doubt it will happen. If not, Beede, Hoffman, Kolek, Turner, or Jackson would be my choice. I think all of them offer the cubs something a little different but that is not a bad thing.

        • Napercal

          Or Colt Griffin

      • Napercal

        Or Kerry Wood

    • Jason P

      It’s still so early. A Johnathan Gray could still emerge and eradicate those concerns.

      • Cornish Heat

        Jonathan Gray was already in the top 6-ish picture by mid March last year. I sincerely doubt anybody else not currently being mocked in the top 8-ish will slide into the top 4 (i.e., we’re likely looking at some combination of Rodon, Hoffman, Beede, Kolek, Jackson, Gatewood, and Turner for the top few picks)

        • Chad

          Are you sure, I thought he started much lower and then jumped up to the top of the first round later in the season?

          • waittilthisyear

            remember though, gray’s rise was complimented by manea’s fall. as likely as it is for someone to shoot into top 5 consideration, it is just as likely for one of the prospects we salivate over now to be far less enticing come draft day. as one poster said earlier though, i have a great deal of confidence that the FO will bring in a stud

            • Cornish Heat

              waittilthisyear, good point. Certainly Hoffman (for example) could begin a precipitous draft-day fall starting with his performance last weekend.

          • Cornish Heat
            • ssckelley

              That was fun to go back and look at. A very good example of how far off these mock drafts usually are at this point of the season. The Cubs actually drafted the player at #33 (Jeremy Martinez) in the last round of the draft, obviously he did not sign. But one thing to note is that many of the top 10 players they had correct, just not going to the right teams. Denney was a big swing and a miss due to sign-ability concerns he slipped to the 3rd round and actually signed relatively cheap with the Red Sox. I was moaning the Cubs passing on this guy on draft day as they picked ahead of the Red Sox and went with Hannemann.

        • NathanE

          There could be a few names enter top five consideration. I know Keith Law was talking about Erik Fedde as a possibility

  • Edwin

    I figure BPA works well, because even if they take a SS, they may be in a position where trading that SS makes sense in a couple seasons. I think the Brewers did that with Matt LaPorte. Drafted him 7th overall or something, even though they already had Fielder, and then flipped him to Cleveland for a half season of CC.

  • dwest9cubs

    What do you guys think of the Cubs going after one of the two Clemson catching propsects Garrett Boulware and Chris Okey? Both are great hitters and solid catchers. Bowlware played ever game last year at catcher and Okey was drafted in the 32nd rd out of high school before going to college. I havent seen. Any positional rankings but both have to be top 10/15 catchers nationally.

    • Edwin

      I’d assume they’d be considered in a later round, although it depends who else is available. I don’t think either would creep up to #4 overall, but you never know.

      • dwest9cubs

        Okey actually might. He was 1st round material last year but went to college, and our catching depth is so pathetic….

        • Edwin

          I don’t think our depth matters though. He probably won’t be ready for 2-3 years at most. Cubs might do better drafting the BPA, and then flipping that player in a couple seasons for a catcher. Unless Okey actually is considered the BPA, I don’t see the Cubs taking him. I don’t think minor league strength/depth at any position will really change their selection at the top of the draft. Maybe in later rounds they might take a few more catchers than normal though.

        • C. Steadman

          Okey’s a freshman so he can’t get drafted this year

          • Edwin

            I suppose that does hurt his chances at being a top pick this year.

            • C. Steadman

              and next year unless he meets the age rule(something about turning 21 as a sophomore you’re eligible or something to that effect, i just know its possible but extremely rare)

  • dwest9cubs

    What do you guys think of the Cubs going after one of the two Clemson catching propsects Garrett Boulware and Chris Okey? Both are great hitters and solid catchers. Bowlware played ever game last year at catcher and Okey was drafted in the 32nd rd out of high school before going to college. I havent seen any positional rankings but both have to be top 10/15 catchers nationally.

    • dwest9cubs

      Whoops! Ignore this one

  • Jon

    You can’t steal 1st. Pass on Trea Turner

    • Edwin

      I thought his “hit tool” was supposed to be pretty good.

      • Mike Moody

        It’s plus to plus plus and he is more than willing to take walks. He’s a four tool player, with power being the obvious missing tool.

    • Cornish Heat

      I’m with Jon, and am not a fan of Turner at #4 (as I say so below).

      Opinions on his hit-tool vary. Yes, some say “plus,” but I’ve also read it’s just “average,” while his defense is just “good.” I don’t want an average hit tool, below average power, and good defense pick at #4. Speed is the last tool one should prioritize. Turner feels like such an old school type prospect…

  • Javier Bryant

    I’m not high on Kolek for whatever reason, probably the risk factor. If we end up with Jackson, Turner or Beede I don’t think anyone can really complain. Keith Law was on Buster Olney’s podcast and thinks Hoffman could fall to the Cubs with Rodon, Kolek and Beede going 1-3 respectively

    • TulaneCubs

      I agree on the risk with Kolek and drafting HS pitchers in general. It’s pretty scary. I’m hoping one of the top 3 take Kolek so that one of the college pitchers falls to us at #4.

      All that being said… I have a feeling the Cubs draft another position player. I think this FO stays away from pitchers early due to the injury risk and the higher success rates of position players at the top of the draft. If I had to guess, I think they’ll take Trea Turner.

      • Mike Moody

        I think that gets a little overplayed. Last year, their top choice appeared to be Appel, even though they lucked into the best pick in the draft when he wasn’t available. I think they’ll take the guy they view as BPA, regardless of position.

        • TulaneCubs

          We don’t know if their top choice was Appel or not. Not many expected them to take Bryant #2.

          And BPA is complicated. You have to take into account injury risk when you’re deciding who will have the highest expected future value.

          • Mike Moody

            I am fairly confident their top choice was Appel but, you are correct, they’ve never announced it. Nor will they.

          • Mike Moody

            And by draft day it seemed pretty clear that Kris Bryant was their #2. You can’t really hide who you’re extensively scouting — to my knowledge they didn’t go back and talk to Jonathan Gray’s high school teachers like they did with Bryant.

            • TulaneCubs

              I don’t know about pretty clear, it had certainly become a higher possibility than originally thought, since for a long time it was just assumed the Cubs would take whoever fell out of Gray/Appel. Then it became clear that the Astros were going to take Appel #1 and it was Bryant/Gray in a coin flip, instead of Gray being a slam dunk as was originally thought.

              • itzscott

                Both Bryant and Gray have done pretty well since the draft and both maintain the high ceilings initially bestowed upon them.

                Interesting thing is if the Cubs had taken Gray, they wouldn’t have the good problem of how to fit in Baez and/or Villanuenva. That wouldn’t even be a discussion right now.

                Additionally, with Gray as a TOR prospect not far from the majors, they may not feel the need to shop Shark right now for the TOR pitcher their system lacks right now.

                Picking Bryant over Gray created a whole different dynamic going forward.

                • SenorGato

                  Eh, Baez was never locked into 3B by the organization like he has been by those outside the organization. Villanueva’s not the kind of guy you go out of the way to make room for and I’m not sure it is a discussion right now anyway.

                  • Chad

                    Villanueva screams super ultility guy for the cubs. Bryant could easily move to the OF if they thought Baez or Olt could hold down 3B. It’s not that big of a deal.

                    • SenorGato

                      I’m very convinced that Baez is the 2B of The Future.

                    • Chad

                      I wouldn’t argue that either. Alcantara can then move to CF, be a utility player as well, or be trade bait. There are so many possibilities with the prospects that saying drafting Bryant messed things up is just silly.

                  • Cornish Heat

                    Chad, I don’t think itzscott was saying “drafting Bryant messed things up.” Rather, I believe he was suggesting that it created a different dynamic than what drafting Gray would have created.

                    Now – I’m not sure I agree with that either. The Samardzija trade talks are not about finding a young TOR guy; it’s about turning a potential short-term asset into a long-term asset. If Samardzija won’t extend with the Cubs at the Cubs’ asking price, then this FO will turn Samardzija’s two years into many more years in the form of younger players. Drafting either an elite hitter or an elite TOR prospect is fairly irrelevant to the Samardzija situation.

                    • Chad

                      I agree with your Shark assessment. We just hope it is TOR, but I would take other position assets that could turn into TOR down the road.

                      I took itzscott to say the dynamic was not a good thing, or not ideal. I don’t know if drafting Gray would have been ideal either, so I just think the Bryant pick didn’t affect the cub’s negatively in any way, probably more positively than anything else obviously.

                    • itzscott

                      Cornish Heat –

                      Exactly…. All I’m saying is that the Cub front office would be planning the future from a different perspective and that draft actually changed a lot of things.

                      btw… I was hoping the Cubs draft Bryant over Gray at the time.

                    • Cornish Heat

                      Certainly an elite TOR prospect in your system can change your perspective, just as an elite power hitting prospect can.

                      They weren’t choosing between two pitchers or two hitters. When you’re choosing between a hitter and a pitcher, your choice is bold regardless. Hopefully they made the right one…

                      After Appel was taken, I, too, was hoping they draft Bryant over Gray.

              • SenorGato

                I’ve been noticing this perception that Bryant kinda came from LF last year to hop over Gray. To me Gray was the LF guy last year, Bryant was a name I read in all the preseason talks as the best college bat in the draft who might be (and turned out to be) the best bat in the draft.

                I really would have loved to have Appel in this organization, but that’s water under the bridge at this point.

                • ssckelley

                  Bryant was a top 10 pick but he was not considered for the #2 until May. That perception he came out of nowhere is because us Cub fans did not think much of him as an option.

                  But you’re right, Gray did come out nowhere. I think it was April we started talking about him, before that it was Manaea.

                  • Cornish Heat

                    It wasn’t April for Gray; it was mid-March – about this time last year.

                    • ssckelley

                      I thought we were still talking Manaea at this time last year?

                    • Cornish Heat

                      ssckelley, I believe we were. But Gray had entered the picture, too.

              • Mike Moody

                I disagree with your recollection of events. It wasn’t clear the Astros were taking Appel until the day of the draft. The Cubs had long since finished their due diligence by then and they had focused almost exclusively on two players — Appel and Bryant.

                • SenorGato

                  That’s pretty much how I think it went down. Houston taking Appel was kind of a surprise, a very disappointing surprise. Really really liked Appel. The way he carried himself always reminded me of guys like Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina…really thought/think highly of that guy as a pitcher.

                  • Cornish Heat

                    SenorGato, I agree with your assessment of Appel. But I would argue that Bryant carries himself pretty darn well, also.

                • TulaneCubs

                  I never said when it was clear that Appel was going #1, but I meant that it was clear the day of the draft.

                  I wholeheartedly disagree with your recollection of events that it was down to Bryant/Appel for the Cubs. Here’s a thread from CubsDen (which you participated in) on the day of the draft and you can see that it was not clear if the Cubs would draft Bryant or Gray. Saying that it was clear is revisionist history.

                  http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/06/what-if-the-astros-pick-appel-a-look-at-the-pros-and-cons-of-drafting-jonathan-gray-vs-kris-bryant/

                  • C. Steadman

                    In that link, Bryant looks a lot like Zach Efron in the picture.

                  • Mike Moody

                    And this is what I said in that thread: “It does kind of feel like we’re careening into Bryant.” Even at the time, I was sure that Bryant was our pick.

                    I’ll also point out what John said one place above: “It’s quite possible the Cubs have already decided.”

                    Information that came out later — such as the Cubs going to great lengths to interview Bryant’s old high school teachers but doing the same for Gray — only makes it more clear that the choice on draft day was Appel or Bryant.

                    • TulaneCubs

                      “It does kind of feel like we’re careening into Bryant,” in no way portrays that you were sure that Bryant was their pick.

                      “It’s quite possible the Cubs have already decided” says nothing about who they’ve decided on.

                      My argument was that the public perception was not that the Cubs were going to draft Bryant on draft day. Saying they’d decided or using information that came out later to make an argument that the public perception was that they were drafting Bryant is silly.

  • NoGloveLove

    Today, on Buster Olney’s podcast, Keith Law had 1-5: Rodon, Kolek, Beede, Hoffman, Holmes. He had some interesting stuff on Kolek to the Marlins.

    • Cornish Heat

      I hate the White Sox so, so much. (I want Beede).

  • Featherstone

    I know we got bats for days in our system but, the attrition rate for pitchers is just so terrifying when picking in the top 5 of a top-heavy draft. You absolutely cant afford to miss on a pick this high in a draft.

    • C. Steadman

      the reason its a top heavy draft is because of all the pitchers though

    • SenorGato

      I also look at it this way – good scouting and a pick at the top of the draft gives you a chance to get a pitcher who is significantly more likely to survive being a pitcher through his own individual tools and talents. I blame teams more than I do players in most situations – for instance there was zero reason to take Hochevar or Reynolds over Longoria in ’06.

      • Napercal

        The reason I like Beede is that Derek Johnson probably has a good book on his past – even back to high school. The fear with these high end pitchers is the use/abuse they took in high school before anyone was paying attention. Even though Beede was taken in the first round in 2011 and was well scrubbed then, the Cubs should be able to have a bit more insight into some of the intangibles. I also like the fact that Beede has improved every year in college. It allays the fear that he peaked too soon.

  • SenorGato

    My favorite players for the Cubs are Beede, Brady Aiken, or Jackson (assuming they like him to catch).

    Beede is far and away my favorite, been a fan since the 2011 draft so why not. Aiken was reported to throw 93-94 against Jackson’s HS recently, sitting 93-94 in the mid innings or something along those lines. He keeps it up and I think he’s the best HS pitcher in this draft, Kolek’s raw size and arm strength be danged. Jackson, if he can catch, might be the best position player in this draft.

    • Cornish Heat

      Agree completely. Beede was good enough for Toronto in 2011 who does a very good job of drafting pitchers, and I’ve been eyeing him over the three years since. And now he’s just on fire this year. Plus the whole Derek Johnson connection…

  • itzscott
    • Chad

      A lot of risk there. If the cubs pick him I will be happy but I have a feeling that he wouldn’t be the ideal choice for this FO

      • Napercal

        My take is that Kolek, like all Texas high schoolers, is high risk/high reward. You really have to believe in your scouting on whether he’s been abused or not.

  • Funn Dave

    It cracks me up that there’s an acronym for best player available.

    • Edwin

      popular phrase, it saves time. Like TOR (although I always think Toronto when I see that).

    • Darth Ivy

      my water bottle is BPA free. eye here that best player available is bad four you’re digestive system.

      • bbmoney

        At first I read this and shook my head. Then I saw who you were replying to and chuckled.

        • Funn Dave

          Haha yeah same.

  • Cornish Heat

    I do not like Turner for the Cubs at #4. Some say he’s a great hitter, but others say “average.” He has below average power, and he’s also not “excellent” defensively at SS; rather, he’s “good” defensively. The only thing that is elite about him is his speed (and possibly his makeup, too). I do not at all want to draft a guy in the Top 5 because he’s an 80-grade speed. This isn’t football; we don’t need a WR. I agree with MLB Draft Insider that Turner is not a top talent. He seems so much like a guy that an “old school” talent evaluator would love.

    As for the two top prep bats, both Jacob Gatewood and Alex Jackson look too high-risk to me. Brett’s absolutely right: you cannot get a Top 5 pick wrong.

    So that leaves three pitchers, and since at least one of Hoffman, Beede, and Kolek will be available at #4, I hope the Cubs draft one of those guys – and of those three, at present, I’m certainly hoping it’s Beede.

    • Edwin

      If the speed/defense/OBP are all there, then I’m fine with him being a top pick. But if you’re right and his defense/OBP grade out as just average, then I agree, I’d rather not put a premium on speed.

    • Edwin

      Although, Jeff Samardzija was a WR, and he’s turned out pretty well. Maybe the Cubs should draft more WR.

      • Cornish Heat

        Haha. Touche.

    • ssckelley

      Top high school position players are not as much of a risk than HS pitchers. You never know the Cubs might get the next Trout or Machado.

      I like the idea of the Cubs continuing to corner the market on power. I like Jackson or Gatewood in that order if available. Keep using rounds 2-10 to grab a slew of pitchers.

      • Cornish Heat

        It’s certainly not a bad strategy. I just don’t hear Jackson or Gatewood getting the same hype that Clint Frazier received in 2013, Correa, Buxton, and Almora in 2012, Bubba and Baez in 2011, or Harper in 2010.

        Perhaps I’m biased by hindsight, but I’m just not terribly comfortable with either Jackson or Gatewood in 2014. However, at the time, I would’ve been very happy with Frazier in 2013, any of those three in 2012, and either Bubba or Baez in 2011.

        • ssckelley

          You don’t think Jackson is hyped? I have been hearing his name for a couple of years now, I seen his name being mentioned as a top 10 pick even after last Junes draft. But when you see words used like “tremendous raw power” and “His power is arguably the best in the draft” along with “plus hit-tool” in regards to Jackson, I would think it would be hard for the Cubs to pass on him. I read they say plus hit tool with Turner as well but I think we would all trade 40+ stolen bases for 40+ homers per year.

          I think it would be neat for the Cubs to get the top rated position player 2 years in a row. Who needs pitching when you can simply out slug the other teams? :D

  • brainiac

    i’m enjoying the “ok, i give up” tone of the blog the past few weeks, Brett.

    of course you don’t give up, you’re more of just going with/reporting the flow. but a lot of us are ready to give up on this administration’s idiosyncratic “hide the beanbag” strategy to governing. how about just trying to make the team better through recognizable and time-tested tactics?

    • Cornish Heat

      Like signing Robinson Cano to 10 years, $240 million?

      • Kyle

        That wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’d be preferable to doing nothing.

        • Norm

          I’ll stick with nothing.

          • TulaneCubs

            Same.

        • Cyranojoe

          I… are you for real? OK. You apparently like the unending cycle of make the playoffs and lose out, followed by years of futility, then back again. Whee!

          • Kyle

            You are incorrect about the reasons the Cubs have lost in the past.

            • MightyBear

              Why don’t you enlighten us instead of just saying we’re wrong.

              • Kyle

                I’ve been trying for years. It hasn’t stuck with many, unfortunately.

                Signing big-ticket players does not stop you from developing an effective farm system. It is not an either-or choice. The Cubs have failed in the past for a wide variety of reasons, but a good shorthand would be not developing an effective farm system in concert with leveraging their market-size advantage at the right times.

                • MightyBear

                  Do you mean leveraging their market size by signing free agents?

                  • Kyle

                    Frequently, yes. The Cubs have done it at certain times in the past, just like at certain times in the past they’ve had an elite farm system, but they’ve also let it slide at inopportune times, also similar to the farm system.

                    • MightyBear

                      What about prior to free agency? How did they not leverage their market size prior to FA?

                    • Kyle

                      There were times when they were fairly cheap with existing players, and they were pretty chincey with amateur signings in the pre-draft days.

                      There’s a great story about how they seriously lowballed Ron Santo in high school but he signed with them because of loyalty to the local scout and the belief that a terrible team would be the quickest path to the majors.

                    • MightyBear

                      And this goes back to?

                    • Kyle

                      “And this goes back to?”

                      One of the Wrigleys, iirc.

                • Jason P

                  I guess it depends on how you define big-ticket, but signing guys like Robinson Cano could limit future financial flexibility and make it tough to sign guys when we have an actual homwgrown core for them to supplement.

                  If by “big-ticket”, we’re talking Ricky Nolasco/Curtis Granderson contracts, then I would agree, we could have been more active.

                  • brainiac

                    i like that some retorts to “the cubs are currently engineering the worst club in the history of the franchise for reasons that have nothing to do with competition” is countered with “dude, robinson cano has a big salary”.

                    most of us who have been trying to point out that “the plan” is not only not a plan but in fact a kind of purposeful inactivity concealed by a PR division have lost this one pretty badly. but that’s actually part of the fun. Kyle grows more frustrated with how dense and indignant some people can be, i eat a few more doritios. Brett makes more cash. it works out for us in our own ways.

                    • DarthHater

                      Dammit, now I’m hungry for doritios.

                    • brainiac

                      i just ate some. what some fans need is a crash course in primary-school-level logic to see the difference between advertisements and logistics. or, things could continue as planned and i’ll try to come up with clever rhetorical ways to change their mind for 10 minutes, since facts and probability don’t work.

                    • Jason P

                      No, that’s not what happened at all.

                      Kyle said “Signing big-ticket players does not stop you from developing an effective farm system”. I said “signing guys like Robinson Cano could limit future financial flexibility and make it tough to sign guys when we have an actual homegrown core for them to supplement”.

                      You’re not responding to what I wrote, you’re responding to what other people have argued in the past.

                    • brainiac

                      it’s true that i was responding in broad strokes there, not directly to you

                  • Kyle

                    Being awful and letting attendance crater is also hurting long-term financial flexibility.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      …but not nearly as much as mediocre TV contracts or signing big-ticket free agents.

                      Attendance has dropped from 3,017,966 in 2011 to 2,642,682 in 2013. If we use the average ticket price of $46.30 and ballpark about $20 as the average spent on concessions, etc for each individual., we get a delta of approximately $24.8MM… or pretty close to one Robinson Cano. I’m also not completely sure whether the statistics are actual attendance or paid attendance.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      Should say “signing multiple big-ticket free agents.”

                    • Jason P

                      Do you think so? Attendance will spike right back up when the team is good , and the TV deal will probably only be marginally affected by the team’s current awfulness.

                      24 million per year is a big drain if that player isn’t performing like a superstar.

                    • brainiac

                      yeah, it’s just mere mis-management, from the top-down. what the goal of all of this is has been subject to a lot of speculation, but in the end it’s just bad baseball. theo left boston to participate in one of the 3-4 teams invested in “bad baseball”. this can’t be what he imagined when signing the contract, but he’s been extremely complicit in it, and in fact made things worse by turning the team into an exit ramp strategy that smears its own players.

                    • Kyle

                      “I’m also not completely sure whether the statistics are actual attendance or paid attendance.”

                      They are paid attendance. No-shows from previously bought tickets have been huge in recent years and would add to the total.

                      But yeah, that’s in the neighborhood.

                      “24 million per year is a big drain if that player isn’t performing like a superstar.”

                      It attendance spikes back up and the TV deal is unaffected, as you posit, then $24m isn’t really that big of a problem.

                    • Patrick W.

                      brainiac, if Theo Epstein isn’t happy with where he is he would bolt out the door tomorrow, and have new job on Friday.

                    • brainiac

                      so let’s not be surprised if/when he resigns next off-season after another horrific year in which he wasn’t allowed to make any meaningful additions

                    • Jason P

                      It’s still 24 million less than they would otherwise have to spend.

                      And it could close the gap considerably between what the Cubs can spend and what the Cardinals and Pirates can spend. Given the similar farm systems and the latter two’s massively better under 25 talent already in the majors, we need that gap to be as big as it can be.

                    • Kyle

                      So then we can’t really be affording to throw away $24m in ticket sales now that could be used toward laying the groundwork, can we?

                      /intentionallygoingincircles

                    • Jason P

                      Signing one big free agent to star on an otherwise terrible team doesn’t increase ticket sales much if at all; It would probably be a net loss next year.

                      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/big-ticket-signings-dont-drive-attendance/

                      I’m guessing your response is going to be something to the effect of “that’s why you have to sign more than one”, but I’m not sure it’s in the budget.

                      That’s why I would have liked to see multiple medium sized, 3-4 year free agent contracts instead.

                    • Kyle

                      I would have *preferred* multiple, medium-sized deals too. I just said I’d prefer Cano to nothing at all.

                    • Jason P

                      And I’m just saying I prefer our current approach to going all in on a 200+ million dollar contract for a guy who’s 31. I just don’t see enough benefit in signing a guy like Cano right now (as opposed to next year or the year after) to justify the negative impact it would have on future payroll flexibility.

                    • ssckelley

                      “another horrific year in which he wasn’t allowed to make any meaningful additions”

                      So Theo is not allowed to make any meaningful additions? I did not know that, you got a source, a link, or did you sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night?

                    • brainiac

                      here we go with the “how about edwin jackson?!!?!?!?!” comments again, from people who apparently have never looked at a stat line

                    • Jason P

                      Even with hindsight, I would still make the Edwin Jackson deal.

                    • ssckelley

                      “here we go with the “how about edwin jackson?!!?!?!?!” comments again, from people who apparently have never looked at a stat line”

                      This directed at me or Jason P? I asked you a simple question since you appear to have some inside knowledge to the ownership/FO situation, nothing about Edwin Jackson.

                      Quit hiding the beanbag!!!!

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      I suspect the ownership did the calculations and found the signing Cano would be a net financial loss, and a net financial loss further restricts net future spending.

                      If the $24 Million/year would drive an additional $24 Million and one I suspect they might gladly spend it to improve the team, though even this might be a bad idea as it may move them to being just bad/mediocre and only hurt the draft position and not really make the team exciting.

                      Embrace 2014 sulkiness while expecting harvest to arrive.

    • baldtaxguy

      “Hide the beanbag?”

      • mjhurdle

        sounds like something that has a dubious definition on Urban Dictionary :)

        • DarthHater

          Nope, Urban Dictionary has:

          Hide the banana
          Hide the Bologna
          hide the candy
          hide the cat
          hide the chips
          Hide the Cob
          Hide the Crazy
          hide the cucumber
          hide-the-cutlery retarded
          hide the decline
          Hide the delorean
          hide the deuce
          HIDE THE DRUGS
          hide the duke
          Hide The Dump
          hide the eel in the cave
          hide the eggroll
          hide the hamster
          hide the hole
          hide-the-keys
          hide the lubricated gerbal
          hide the monster
          Hide the nazi
          hide the nazi in the jew cave
          hide the peanut butter

          But no hide the beanbag.

          • mjhurdle

            challenge accepted!

          • ssckelley

            We make up our own phrases here.

        • brainiac

          shows the different circles we travel in :)

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I want to see how Kyle Schwarber does at Indiana this spring. Brett used the term “elite” to describe the type of prospct they are looking for. Schwarber is 6′, 240 pounds and hits from the left side and batted .366 and was third in the nation in home runs with 18 dingers. I have heard that his defense isn’t the best as a catcher, but he can play outfield too. This guy has the potential to be an elite bat with high average and power.

    • Chad

      If you are going to do that you go with Jackson. He’s more of an elite prospect with a similar skill set as Schwarber (assuming both can’t stick behind the plate). As of right now I don’t think Schwarber is #4 material, but maybe in the 2nd or 3rd round if he is still available. Unless he can stick at catcher I’m not sure about that one.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        I just wonder if he hits the 2nd round. He would be perfect for an AL team.Probably a better hitter than V-bomb and with more versatility. Isn’t Jackson a high school kid?

        • Chad

          Yes he is high school, but the skill sets sound very similar at this point despite the age difference, so for me if you want to go that route, go with Jackson who probably has a higher ceiling.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            But if the skill sets are similar then I would have to believe that there is no comparison with the level of competition. How can you compare a high school conference to the big ten and a level of competition that took I.U. to Omaha? I doubt that the pitching that Jackson faced was even close to that in the big ten.

            • ssckelley

              Top high school prospects do go up against the top competition through AAU competitions and all star games (like Under Armour). Plus the Big Ten, while a power conference in football and basketball, is really a glorified mid major in college baseball since the schools are northern and they do not get the top recruits.

      • Mike

        Agreed, I think Schwarber is a 2nd rounder as I don’t think he sticks at catcher. I do think he could play in the outfield at a serviceable level though but I think he would have to work pretty hard to achieve that. His bat would certainly make you forgive many of the defensive flaws.

        Not a fan of Jackson at 4 though, just too much that can go wrong drafting a high school catcher. Really need to hit on a top 5 pick, so I’d rather go with a college arm or Trea Turner if none are available.

    • SenorGato

      I don’t think Schwarber is going to catch as a pro – at least not for long. I like Grayson Greiner among big college catchers, but not at 4.

      In my eyes the only hopes of landing a top catching prospect at 4 are with Jackson.

      • Javier Bryant

        I don’t think Jackson stays behind the plate

  • fromthemitten

    Not to mention there’s always the hope that someone decides to hit a home run every other game like Kris Bryant decided to do

    • ssckelley

      There are 2 players averaging a homer every other game, AJ Reed from Kentucky and Nick Vilter from UC Riverside. AJ Reed is listed in one of the mock drafts at #38 (first link) saying he has 70+ grade power. So you never know.

  • Forgetting Sean Marshall

    I spent and a lot of time watching the High school Perfect Game home run derby and game at Petco. Alex Jackson struck me as extremely mature and very level headed. I think he will be similar to Bryce Harper and move away from the catcher position.( though he won’t be as much of a star as Bryce). Gatewood was super nice as well and he is so excited to be playing. He has a lot of power potential. If Cubs go with a high schooler I hope it is one of those 2 but wish we could get something more like Kris Bryant again.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Great handle.

    • ssckelley

      If he does get moved from catcher it could be for similar reasons of Harper, to get to the majors faster. If another team drafts him then he will probably be moved, but I could see the Cubs sticking with him at catcher. The FO keep talking about the prospects coming up in waves and he could be in that 3rd or 4th wave that have those IFA prospects in it. But if he does end up in the outfield he could take that quick route similar to Harper, Machado, and Trout.

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