Quantcast

theo epstein and jed hoyerWith the White Sox series – two at Wrigley and then two at the Cell – kicking off today, you should gird yourself for the coming deluge of organizational comparison stories, especially if the White Sox win the first game or two.

Generally speaking, these stories will likely do a handful of things:

(1) Point out how the White Sox went out and got Jose Abreu, price be damned, and Abreu has been fantastic;

(2) Dream on the future of the White Sox lineup with an obvious superstar mashing in the middle of it for years to come;

(3) Contrast the rebuilding approaches of the Cubs and White Sox, explaining how the White Sox proved you can stay competitive while rebuilding; and

(4) Awe at how much better the White Sox are now than the Cubs.

Given their situation, I do believe the White Sox have done a fantastic job simultaneously extending a window of competitiveness that actually dates back several years, while also grabbing some future pieces to perhaps get back to competitiveness more quickly than you would see with a deep rebuild.

The key words in that sentence, of course, are “given their situation.” Other than playing in the same city, the two Chicago baseball organizations don’t really have a lot in common when it comes to the situations that preceded their respective rebuilding programs.

What these comparison stories will ignore about the Cubs and White Sox …

(1) The Cubs were but one of 28 – twenty-eight – teams that didn’t get Abreu, and none of the finalists for the hulking slugger were National League teams (there’s a reason for that). The Cubs weren’t going to displace Anthony Rizzo on a gamble, and Abreu can’t play the outfield (now how about those 28 other teams that “missed”?). The White Sox could put Abreu at first base *OR* DH him, a luxury most teams didn’t have;

(2) It’s been only a month – after his first month, remember what an obvious superstar Yoenis Cespedes was? Remember his well over .800 OPS through the first week of May? You might. What you probably don’t remember is his pedestrian .240/.288/.426 slash line from that point on, or his strikingly similar .240/.294/.442 line last year. Why don’t we give Abreu more than a month before we declare him the next anybody, lest he become the next Yoenis Cespedes (nice player, not a superstar, not really outperforming his contract);

(3) The White Sox had a core of young, big league pitching from which they could deal to focus on nearer-term young players, a luxury the Cubs didn’t even remotely have when their rebuild began;

(4) The White Sox have a true ace in Chris Sale, under control in his prime for several cheap years – when you have that, you build around him and go for it; and

(5) The White Sox are two games under .500, and have a mere 3.4% to 10.4% shot at making the playoffs based on their projected performance the rest of the way. That’s higher than the Cubs, but it’s still one of the lowest playoff ranges in baseball (and they’re projected to win just a few more games than the Cubs). The White Sox project to be a bad team this year, and, at the end of it, what will they have to show for it, vis a vis the Cubs? A less deep, less impact, older core? A worse draft pick in 2015? 50,000 more butts in the seats?

I’m not saying I disapprove of the way the White Sox have gone about their rebuild, because I understand the need to take some swings when you’ve got a roster that suggests now is as good a time as any. I simply disapprove of the notion that the White Sox are “proving” anything with the rebuild, other than the fact that they are proving a team in the White Sox’s situation can give themselves a 3% to 10% playoff odds with some savvy moves the year after losing 99 games.

I mean. OK. Neat.

To me, however, that doesn’t say a thing about how the Cubs have approached their rebuild in their specific situation. On that front, I remain relatively satisfied, regardless of what’s happening on the South Side.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Looking at the number of runs the White Sox have given up, I’m not sure:

    (4) Awe at how much better the White Sox are now than the Cubs.

    is entirely accurate (though it will be no doubt be the prevailing story).

    That offense is serious over-performing right now, and when some of those guys start to come back to earth I suspect the White Sox are going to plummet down the standings in a hurry.

    • Darth Ivy

      Your comment triggered the idea to trade Abreu in fantasy. I haven’t even thought about that before now. I really do think that he’s going to be highly productive all year even though his first month isn’t sustainable.

      Nah, not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QHHGHve_N0

    • JulioZuleta

      To be fair, you can’t plummet THAT far when you’re only 1.5 games out of last place.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        You can if you’re looking at MLB wide standings.

        • JulioZuleta

          I know, I was just making a sarcastic remark. I’ve heard people comparing these “rebuilds” in the context of, basically, “The Sox have done it better than the Cubs.” I just don’t understand why people are pretending that the Sox are a good team this year….Or that they didn’t finish with a WORSE record last year. This is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 8 years, and has shown moderate improvement, despite an extreme hot start from its offense. I just don’t get it. I have this argument with White Sox fan friends on a regular basis–they seem to think they’re some sort of model franchise which I find hilarious.

          • Pat

            Both teams (Cubs and Sox) last made the playoffs in 08, so I’d call it a draw on that front. One of the rebuilds will have to work before we can make any real judgements even if we ignore the different situations.

    • CubsFaninMS

      With Eaton, Sale and Garcia on the disabled list (Garcia for the rest of the season), this team may be overperforming right now but Sale and Eaton will almost certainly make the team better this year. So many varibles to consider when projecting how a team like the White Sox will perform over 162 games. Abreu may come down to earth (ala Cespedes), additional injuries may occur, performances of players like Viciedo may come down to earth. All of that being said, if the White Sox are over .500 at the end of the season, I’d be a little surprised.

      • JulioZuleta

        Eaton basically just went down, and Sale has only missed 1 start (fill-in SP won that game) so far. Their absences haven’t effected the team’s record yet. Also, Eaton is another one that I believe will see some regression. I don’t think he’s a .270/.364 guy. I could be wrong on him, though.

        Also, for Garcia, Viciedo has filled in for him and hit .330, including the game winning HR yesterday. I don’t think Garcia would be out-producing that.

      • BT

        Eaton has missed 2 games. Sale has missed 3 starts, and his spot has (improbably) been filled nicely by Scott Carroll. Garcia certainly hurts, except HE was essentially replaced by Viciedo who is currently OPSing 50 points higher than last year. Sale coming back obviously will help, but in the short term his numbers haven’t been missed, and neither have Garcia’s. Eaton’s been gone too short of a time to draw any conclusions. If their replacements start tanking, then Sale’s and Eaton’s return will help, but right now, they’d only keep the Sox where they are.

  • Jon

    What are the cubs “proving” with their respective rebuild?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s a fallacious question.

      “Bob isn’t proving anything by digging that hole.”

      “Oh yeah? Well what is Steve proving by chipping into that rock?”

      • Fishin Phil

        That rocks are harder than dirt?

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        That’s a Jon question.

  • ssckelley

    I still wish Abreu was hitting in the middle of the Cubs lineup, behind Rizzo. I would not care where they played either of them defensively.

    • J. L.

      I’ve seen this kind of comment a lot lately, “his bat is so good I don’t care where they would play him”. The thing is, they’d still have to play him somewhere. If not by displacing Rizzo, where would Abreu fit? I have no idea. It would have to be either him or Rizzo in the lineup. And, to quote Brett, “the Cubs weren’t going to displace Anthony Rizzo on a gamble”.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I think that we focus too much on how much a guy’s poor range will hurt a team’s run-differential. That would not be trivial here: Abreu is extremely ungainly around first, and he’d make Greg Luzinski look like a good LFer. The bigger issue, though, is that if Abreu played LF for any period of time, then there is a too high a probability that he’d hurt himself.

  • mudge

    Methinks thou dost express relative satisfaction too much.

  • WernerT

    See, this is a subtle and reasoned argument, which of course won’t fly in this day and age. It at least reminds me to watch the series with the sound turned off.

  • BenW

    Outside of Abreu and Sale, I think the White Sox aren’t in great shape. They don’t have a great farm system, and their pitching is in real trouble.

    This doesn’t mean the Cubs players will all pan out. But, I don’t feel the White Sox are “farther” along.

  • Jon

    “(3) The White Sox had a core of young, big league pitching from which they could deal to focus on nearer-term young players, a luxury the Cubs didn’t even remotely have when their rebuild began;”

    This is of course hysterical

    Garza+Marshall > Santiago/Reed.

    I’m not even including Cashner, which they had/used as a trade asset.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Those aren’t the kinds of guys I’m talking about (Santiago/Reed are a different, longer-term type asset), but if you want to go there, we can talk about Jake Peavy, too.

      • Jon

        When the Cubs “inherited” Garza he was 28 years old and still had two years of team control. Not to mention being waaaay better than a Hector Santiago. He was always a way better asset. Let’s not move the goalposts here.

        • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

          Garza was a better asset, Cubs got a better return. Is this inaccurate?

          • Jon

            TBD

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            In terms of value of the assets, yes the Cubs got a better return.

            In terms of Major League production of those assets, like Jon said, TBD

      • Kyle

        Jeff Samardzija still exists.

  • V23

    Sale is better than Shark. However, Cubs have a nice 2-3 right now in Smardj and Wood. That’s not a terrible place to start.

    Plus, the reason the Cubs aren’t even .500 is there terrible hitting a few bullpen blown losses. Would adding Bryant/Baez next year and a another #2 make the Cubs contenders? I believe so. The bullpen shows a ton of promise.

    That’s if, Bryant/Baez are stars. If they aren’t, as fans, we’re fd. Also, Ricketts has “said without saying” that he isn’t spending until renovation starts. So, maybe it all doesn’t even matter until then, as we are held hostage?

  • JulioZuleta

    Also-call me crazy but I don’t think Tyler Flowers will bat .345 all year, or A. Ramirez .333, or Dayan Viciedo, .330, or Adam Dunn .273, and I don’t think Abreu will hit 60 HRs (current pace). The pitching might improve somewhat, but the hitting is due for a regression.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Abreu is the great unknown in that. Of course, that is part of the issue: he’s a great unknown for the pitchers, too. They are just getting heat zone data on Abreu now: it will be interesting to see if this reveals many exhaust vents! (I’ve honestly no idea.)

      However, the regression is going to be largely negative for the rest of them: off the top of my head, I cannot think of any ChiSox batters that we can expect to regress upwards right now.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        De Aza was in a slump for awhile. Maybe him?

        I haven’t checked his numbers lately.

      • JulioZuleta

        He definitely is the unknown. But I feel pretty confident that he won’t hit 60 HRs.

  • Kyle

    “(3) The White Sox had a core of young, big league pitching from which they could deal to focus on nearer-term young players, a luxury the Cubs didn’t even remotely have when their rebuild began;”

    The Cubs were an expansion team. Any pre-existing history is an illusion.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/30-appeal-to-extremes

      Ok, guys – how many of these fallacies can we knock out in one thread? GO!

      • Fishin Phil

        But, but, but…. Kyle is the Fist of Logic, dammit!

        • Kyle

          In the entire history of human discourse, no useful point has *ever* been preceded by the “but, but, but…” device.

          • Fishin Phil

            If I had been striving for a useful point, I would be hurt by this statement.

            • Kyle

              Butt, butt, butt

          • DarthHater

            In the entire history of human discourse, no useful point has *ever* been preceded by the “in the entire history of human discourse…” device.

            • Kyle

              butt butt butt

              • Fishin Phil

                Well played, sir.

        • Isaac

          But, but, but…Edwin Jackson is worth four Pierce Johnson’s!

      • Kyle

        It’s only a fallacy if I were attempting to make a logical point.

        We’re *way* past that in this ongoing discussion, so I was just going for a glib, emotional jab.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Roger that.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    What we have is a relatively good defensive team combined with good pitching. Presently the production from the outfield is less than average. Also the platoon at third is lacking the production levels from last year. I didn’t like having Barney and Baker in the lineup at the same time because those two combined with the pitchers spot leaves us with only six bats to do the damage. We have had some games where we have gotten some good production at the bottom of the order, but last night was the pits. Except for Hammels base hit that brought in two runs.

  • E

    Brett, don’t get me wrong here. I super-seriously-enormously enjoy what you do here. But damn it sure seems like you’re carrying water for Rickets/FO sometimes with articles like these.

    For one, you’re arguing against a strawman. I haven’t read a single article comparing the two different methods of rebuilding or heard it implied that anything like this will be occurring outside of this site.

    Second, there is some merit to a “competitive rebuild,” though not as much as it’s fans claim, in my opinion. When Theo took over, I don’t know of a single Cubs fan, you included, that would think we would be losing 100 games a year through 2015. The one thing Theo has been right about is the lack of pitching in the system, but I don’t see how a complete tear-down of the roster makes any sense now. We platoon Lake/Kalish and still pay Soriano his 13 million? The only way that roster spot is valuable is if we are giving the time to see what we have in a prospect. Lake barely gets any playing time, and I’m not convinced Kalish should even be on an MLB roster.

    At least if we had kept Soriano, we maintain the veteran presence that Barney is supposed to be so good at providing and we see a return on the 13 million (Corey Black is as yet an unproven commodity).

    Anyway, I’m not trying to pick on you or start another debate over whether or not Barney should have even been tendered. I’ll be the 1st to say that Theo has to know way more about all of this than any of us. But as a fan, I don’t want my son growing up with the same soul-crushing disappointment that is the Cubs. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have an opinion about what they are doing.

    • Darth Ivy

      I’ve had many conversations about the differences between the Sox’s and Cubs’ rebuilds. I can only assume that these conversations aren’t exclusive to my life, but are probably happening elsewhere throughout Chicago.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      There is merit to a competitive rebuild in the right situation.

      There is also not a competitive rebuild taking place in Chicago at the moment.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “But damn it sure seems like you’re carrying water for Rickets/FO sometimes with articles like these.”

      Best way to have a thoughtful conversation? Start by implying an integrity problem.

      • Sandberg

        Everyone knows you’re Theo’s cousin.

      • Kyle

        Your integrity is beyond reproach, imo. You just happen to be wrong.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I got no beef with wrong.

          (Not that I am.)

        • YourResidentJag

          Brett’s integrity with the business/legal aspects of the Cubs is beyond reproach. It’s when he gets into the baseball side of things that I tune out. ;)

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Theo basicly said over the winter that initially he had hoped to do more of a two pronged approach to the rebuild. Neither he or Ricketts envisioned the obstacles they would encounter when he was hired. News of the debt service restrictions only came to light in the last year. As far as Brett carrying water for the FO I can only say that if you are earning your living writing and reporting all things cubs, then it would be stupid to be overly critical which would impede access to sources within the organization which could be very benificial to both Brett and the readers here. I think Brett is usually careful to present both sides of the story and if he chooses to be more optomistic than others that is his right.

      • YourResidentJag

        Lots of wrong here.

    • JulioZuleta

      “When Theo took over, I don’t know of a single Cubs fan, you included, that would think we would be losing 100 games a year through 2015.”

      Last lost 100 games in 2012. 2012 is not that close to 2015.

    • bbmoney

      I was not aware the Cubs had already lost 100 games this year and next. Tell me more.

      • JulioZuleta

        *And last year.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “Why don’t we give Abreu more than a month before we declare him the next anybody, lest he become the next Yoenis Cespedes”

    Yeah, I’m betting that this was similar to what we’ll see with Abreu. Cespedes was the first guy in a while for whom pitchers were “blind”: without prolonged miLB data, there just wasn’t much on which to go. Abreu’s heat zones should be showing some separation at this point, and MLB pitchers will start attacking the blue zones once they learn them.

  • Kyle

    “I didn’t use the word ‘rebuilding’ and I wouldn’t. That’s a buzzword in baseball that leads people down the wrong path.” – Theo Epstein, Oct. 25, 2011

  • ThatCubsFan21

    THE FOLLOWING TRADE SUGGESTION INVOLVES JAVIER BAEZ. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

    now that thats out of the way. I was thinking this over last night and assuming Baez turns it around as I expect he will, what are your guys thoughts on this possible trade with the Marlins:

    Marlins get: Baez, Soler, volgelbomb, and a pitcher

    Cubs get: Stanton

    Am I crazy for thinking this is a possible trade that would be worth the cubs pursuing? Any other shuffling to the trade that makes it more realistic? Without giving up bryant, almost, or any of our top pitching prospects?

    • Kyle

      Marlins laugh and hang up.

      • ssckelley

        Marlins GM is that dumb?

        • Kyle

          The Marlins are over .500 and just 1.5 back in the division.

          They aren’t trading their .401 wOBA major-league outfielder for a guy whiffing on 45% of his swings in AAA, a guy who can’t stay healthy who has $20m left on his contract, and a future AAA DH.

          • ssckelley

            Any team that hangs up on the Cubs when they are offering Baez would be stupid to do so. I agree on Soler and Vogelbach but any conversations the Cubs would have with the Marlins about Stanton would begin with Baez.

          • DarthHater

            But you left out the pitcher we would include in the deal, Kyle. :-P

          • Louis22

            Firstly, I don’t think the Cubs trade away a 21 year old with GENERATIONAL bat speed. Secondly, you can throw the numbers from his first experience at any level away because we all know he starts out slow at every step of his career. Lastly, I do think one or more of our top ten prospects will be traded to improve the team in other ways (pitching), but not this year.

            • DarthHater

              “I don’t think the Cubs trade away a 21 year old with GENERATIONAL bat speed.”

              If the Cubs were competing in the Olympic bat toss competition, I would have to agree.

              • Louis22

                We’d have gold medals for bat flip and bat toss

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              Stanton is the one available player I’d trade Baez for. Stanton is what we are hoping Baez will become (albeit the position weights might allow Baez to be more valuable), and is still only 24 years old

            • Kyle

              Stanton is a generational talent in the big leagues *right now*.

              Baez is enough to get you almost anything you want. But Stanton’s one of the few that he isn’t going to get you, especially right now. In the offseason? maybe.

          • another JP

            My, my… how quickly Mr. Logic is to hop on and off the Javy Baez bandwagon! What kind of lies are you going to spew when Baez, Soler, and Vogelbach starting raking again and prove you wrong?

            What an absolute joke you are.

            • ssckelley

              I agree, Kyle has flipped on Baez more than Valbuena’s bat.

            • Kyle

              Not thinking he’s enough to be a serious Stanton trade piece to the Marlins right now is not flipping on him. They aren’t trading him mid-season while their team is in the race for anything less than an insane overpayment.

              Come this offseason, sure, he might be the centerpiece of such a deal.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Now this can agree on. The thinking that the Marlins would trade Stanton or the Rockies would trade Cargo while they’re in a postseason race is absolutely nuts

    • ssckelley

      Any conversations the Cubs have with the Marlins start with Baez if they hope to acquire Stanton, so you are on the right track. But I think the amount owed to Soler yet would hinder them being interested in him, especially with the injury risks. Vogelbach does not add much value to any trade involving a NL team. So substitute Almora for Vogelbach and Soler and I think the Marlins listen.

    • YourResidentJag

      Hunter Harvey for Shark. Much more realistic in a trade package.

  • Norm

    36.4% fly balls are going over the fence for Abreu. I have a feeling that won’t last and he’ll settle in as a player not as valuable as Anthony Rizzo and we’ll all be rather happy that the Cubs stuck with Rizzo over Abreu (they would have to choose one or the other, enough with this “put one in the OF” garbage)

  • Jon

    Really this is the issue at stake here……

    A) It’s been pounded into our heads that the only way to rebuild an organization “post-CBA” is with a half decade of pure suckiness and accumulating a handful of top 5 draft picks.

    B)In comes a GM and with a handful of savy moves, takes a team with equally of dire circumstances, and flips them on their head in one off season.

    C) Certain folks take note and begin to question part “A”.

    D)The remaining folks work feverishly to construct a list of circumstances of why it’s unacceptable to even “remotely” compare the two situations.

    E) As a side, point D becomes hilarious within itself…. I mean, both teams play the game of baseball no? This isn’t like comparing a baseball and cricket team. Surely they can be compared to some degree….

    • Kyle

      It’s very important, in the process of D, to severely overstate the lack of talent in the Cubs organization on Sept. 30, 2011.

      • bbmoney

        Whenever someone makes this point and it eventually gets to the listing of talent actually in the Cubs organization on 9/30/11, I always come to the conclusion that the person making this point is severely overstating the talent that existed int he Cubs organization at the time.

        The list really isn’t very impressive.

        • Kyle

          “not very impressive” is vague enough to be accurate.

          It wasn’t “very” impressive. But it was enough for a supposedly genius front office to do better with.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Was it??? They were 71-91. Here are the players under 30 that they had

            Starlin Castro, Geovany Soto, DJ Lemahieu, Darwin Barney, Tyler Colvin, Blake DeWitt, Welington Castillo, Tony Campana, Bryan LaHair, Steve Clevenger, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Chris Carpenter, Rafael Dolis, Casey Coleman.

            Solid core huh??

            Here are the top 10 prospects

            Brett Jackson, Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, Trey McNutt, Dillon Maples, Welington Castillo, Rafael Dolis, Junior Lake, Josh Vitters, Dan Vogelbach

            Yes Kyle, there was an extreme lack of talent in the organization.

            • Jon

              What’s funny is in that list I see 3 of the top 5 Cubs best players this year(Castro, Shark and Castillo). And the 25 man 3 years ago doesn’t look much better than it does today.

              They have gutted and tanked to shoot the farm system rankings up. That’s pretty much it.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                And shooting up the farm system rankings strongly correlates to future success

                • Kyle

                  14 teams have had a top-5 BA farm system in the last five years. They can’t all be winners.

                • DarthHater

                  This is an empirically verifiable or refutable statement. Somebody less lazy than me should do the requisite research. Thanks.

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Hell I made the statement (Knowing it might not be true) and even I’m too lazy to do the research. Where’s Doc when you need him?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Um, that’s a lot of data to look up. This goes from “not being lazy” to “I need a couple of weeks!” I’m betting that there is such a correlation but only from a first-principles argument. After all, MLB batters at least now seem to hit their peak around 24: so, the faster they are shooting up, the more rapidly they are perceived as being better than the surrounding talent during that time where we still see “improvement” in performance.

                      However, that’s the basis for a hypothesis, not a test of one!

                    • DarthHater

                      “This goes from ‘not being lazy’ to ‘I need a couple of weeks!'”

                      We can wait, Doc. How about if you report back on Monday, May 19?

                    • Kyle

                      The problem is that people who are new to drooling over the farm system rankings don’t understand how volatile they are. Everybody shoots up and down the rankings. If you are low on the rankings, you probably just graduated some guys. If you are high on the rankings, you probably have some guys about to graduate.

                      BA top-5:

                      2010: Rays, Rangers, Indians, Giants, Red Sox
                      2011: Royals, Rays, Braves, Blue Jays, Yankees
                      2012: Rangers, Royals, Padres, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays
                      2013: Cardinals, Mariners, Rangers, Rays, Marlins

                      It’s cyclical. Some of those teams have had a lot of success, some have had none, some have had middling success.

                      Getting to the top of the farm rankings is not particularly hard to do, especially when you divert massive amounts of resources to doing it.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      “Getting to the top of the farm rankings is not particularly hard to do, especially when you divert massive amounts of resources to doing it.”

                      Yet from 2009-2011, the cubs were nowhere near the top of the farm system rankings or the MLB standings

                    • Kyle

                      “Yet from 2009-2011, the cubs were nowhere near the top of the farm system rankings or the MLB standings”

                      Well, the 2010 Cubs were in the top half.

                      But there were a lot of factors for that.

                      First, of course, is that the old front office wasn’t very good at developing young talent. We all know and agree on this.

                      Second, they made the very savvy Matt Garza trade, which lowered the farm system rankings but improved the overall of the organization.

                      Third, they were drafting awfully late because they had the audacity to win some games from 2007-2009.

                      Fourth, their most successful young player from that time period, Starlin Castro, was *so* good that he shot right out of the prospect rankings and into the major leagues. Which is yet another reason why farm system rankings and becoming obsessed with them is dumb: The best young players get promoted right off the lists.

            • Kyle

              You say that sarcastically, but yeah, that’s definitely something to build on.

              Starlin Castro is an AS shorstop at an absurdly young age
              Soto was a starting catcher, and Castillo is one now
              Sean Marshall had a serious case as the best left-handed reliever in baseball
              Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner are a trio of power arms that many teams would be jealous of.

              The rest are role players of varying utility.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                There might be a couple decent pieces in there, but it is not the core for a quick rebuild.

                They turned Marshall, a reliever, into a quality starter in Travis Wood. They turned Andrew Cashner into their current best player, Anthony Rizzo. They turned 3 months of an oft-injured but solid Matt Garza into a top 50 pitching prospect and 2 current MLB high leverage relievers.

                Look at the top 10 prospects. Matt Szczur, who was always at best a 4th outfielder, was their #3 prospect.

                • Kyle

                  “There might be a couple decent pieces in there, but it is not the core for a quick rebuild.”

                  That depends entirely on how it’s used and how skilled the front office is. Starting a year earlier, Oakland turned a similar set of circumstances into a winner. Mostly be dominating the crap out of the Gio Gonzalez trade.

                  The fact that we could make those trades you listed shows exactly that those players had some serious value, so attempting to whitewash the list is futile. If I were ranking teams’ overall positions 1-30 at that point in time, I wouldn’t put it in the top 15, but it wouldn’t be in the bottom 5 either.

                  Matt Szczur was only their third-best prospect to people who couldn’t look past the outlier ranking that Baseball America gave him. Jackson/Baez/McNutt would have been a much more reasonable top 3. The farm system at the time was well-known (at least to those of us paying attention) to be deep on potentially useful players and shallow on impact players.

                  • ssckelley

                    “The farm system at the time was well-known (at least to those of us paying attention) to be deep on potentially useful players and shallow on impact players.”

                    That is the statement all shitty farm systems make.

                    • Kyle

                      It really isn’t. And if they do, they are wrong.

                    • ssckelley

                      Sure it is, I guess those of you “paying attention” at the time really had the Cubs farm system completely over rated at the time if you honestly believed that.

                      I found this quote on BA interesting “One pro scout who covered the Cubs opined that they had more future big leaguers than any other organization.”

                  • bbmoney

                    I’m intrigued by the Gio comment. I’ve got that trade as a wash and probably favors the Nationals in the MLB production to date sense (if AJ Cole becomes a good MLB pitcher that could change to a win for the A’s moving forward).

                    Derrik Norris has been good, but not amazing. Same with Tommy Milone. Peacock stinks. Gio has pitched like a legit #2 starter in Washington or at the very worst a very, very good #3 guy. Maybe it’s a win for the A’s, but in terms of current MLB production (which is I think what you’re implying) it’s far short of dominating the crap out of.

                    I realize it really doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the Cubs, but I was just assuming they got Sonny Gray in the deal if they dominated it.

              • CubChymyst

                So looking at those 6 players (Castro, Soto, Marshall, Garza, Samardzjia and Cashner). Castro is still on the team and was signed long term. Marshall was traded for Travis Wood. Garza was traded for Grimm, Rameriz, Edwards, and Olt (the front office wasn’t going to give Garza a long term contract with his past arm issues), Samardzija was turned from a reliever to good starter. Soto decided he couldn’t hit anymore. The front office did a good job with the talent they had on the team already. I don’t think the FO doing a poor job with the existing talent is a good argument. The argument you could make is that they have done a poor job supplementing that talent with FA.

                • Kyle

                  That was the argument.

                  • CubChymyst

                    My take on it is that the FO has not decreased the young talent on the team since they taken over. They have managed to roll much of it over. They got better prospects lined up now then they had when they took over. The past few years the Cubs have been as bad, and hopefully in the next few years the Cubs will begin to rise back to contention. Maybe they could of taken a different path to contention but they picked the one they are on and they are sticking to it. Only thing fans can do is go along for the ride.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Of course they haven’t decreased the young talent on the team. It has literally been the only thing they’ve focused on.

              • ssckelley

                “Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner are a trio of power arms that many teams would be jealous of”

                Are you friggin insane? Cashner was a prospect at the time and Samardzija was in the bullpen, Garza was, at most, a #2 starter (I am being very generous here). I seriously doubt there were many teams “jealous” of the “power arms” the Cubs had.

                The fact you even mention Soto being a player to build on is hilarious. Marshall was good, but how much is “the best left-handed reliever in baseball” really worth?

                Castro was the best asset the Cubs had in 2011 and they still have him.

                • Jon

                  Luckily, we can say they didn’t ruin Castro. But they sure did a good job of just pissing a year of his prime away by messing with his swing and approach.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    IF the experiment had worked, then Castro would be a much, much more valuable player than he is. Trying to get batters to improve pitch recognition is completely uncharted territory: baseball only recently has figured out that players just do not do it on there own. (Heck, baseball has only recently figured out that’s an actual tool, and not pitchers being afraid of guys.)

                    But, all along, Castro was Castro: once he started swinging (usually with a 0-2 or 1-1 count), he did the same as ever. Giving the opposing pitchers 1 or 2 free strikes just reduced the frequency of PAs where he put the ball into play.

                    • Jon

                      So experimenting in uncharted territory is a wise risk with a player that may be on a HOF trajectory regardless?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Castro really wasn’t on that trajectory. Remember, on a good team, he would have been batting much lower in the order: his OBP simply was not (and is not) high enough for top-of-the-order. His impressive hit totals would have dropped substantially with 80 or so fewer PAs each season (i.e., the average difference between a #1 and #6 hitter in the NL last year). Castro’s ability to stay at the top of the order long-term was contingent on him being able to recognize pitches.

                      The other possible plus is that Castro might have improved his power game more if he could have become more selective. By 2035, I am betting that this will be a very important consideration above and beyond hit totals.

                    • Jon

                      “Castro really wasn’t on that trajectory”

                      Yes he was. He had more hits at his respective age than Pete Rose. Now you could argue if hits are the best metric to valuate a player which is fine. but the bottom line is still 3K hits gets you in the HOF*

                      (minus Biggio who should get in soon, and Palmierio is a PED user)

                    • CubsFaninMS

                      I’m glad someone else agrees with me on this. I do believe the Sveum group caused some confusion between approaches with several players, including Rizzo and Castro. That being said, I believe it was worth a shot to attempt turning Castro into a more powerful, selective hitter. That approach didn’t work and it is nice seeing the old Castro back. Hopefully he will return for good, as he was a valuable player before 2013.

                      Before 2013, it seemed that many often suggested that they should try turning Castro into a more selective hitter. When they attempted to do that and it failed, many criticized the club for attempting to do so. It was frustrating to watch, but was worth a shot if he ends up return to his previous form.

                  • DarthHater

                    Maybe Castro learned some things in the past year that will make him a better hitter going forward than he was in 2010-2012. I’m not saying it’s true, but I don’t think it’s clearly false. And if it turns out to be true, then the down season in 2013 would be a small price to pay.

                  • ssckelley

                    butt, butt, butt

                    Had to steal Kyles line, it is the smartest thing he has posted so far today. :D

                  • JB88

                    When did a player’s prime begin in their Age 23 season?

                    • Kyle

                      Sometime in the early 2000s, I’d guess. It’s always been earlier than people think, but in the last decade it’s been shifting younger.

                • Kyle

                  “Are you friggin insane? Cashner was a prospect at the time and Samardzija was in the bullpen, Garza was, at most, a #2 starter (I am being very generous here). I seriously doubt there were many teams “jealous” of the “power arms” the Cubs had.”

                  And yet now all three are featured in MLB rotations. It’s *almost* as if smart baseball observers wouldn’t just recklessly throw labels on them like that and look forward to what they were going to do in the near future.

                  • ssckelley

                    NOW, of course NOW…quit moving the friggin goal post. We were talking in 2011, come on keep up Kyle!

                    • Kyle

                      The entire point of this conversation was to determine how much of a foundation they had for future success when they took over in late 2011.

                      If you want to only talk about how the players were *perceived* at the time, then both Cashner and Samardzija were thought of by at least some people as future starters. And Brett Jackson is a starting-quality CFer and top-40 prospect.

                    • Karl Groucho

                      The players who panned out: “we’re talking only about how they were viewed in 2011.”

                      The players who didn’t pan out: “they are not good in 2014, clearly they had no value in 2011.”

                • 1060Ivy

                  “The fact you even mention Soto being a player to build on is hilarious.”

                  How dare you mention the 2008 Rookie of the Year and All Star as a potential player to build on!

                  • BT

                    Exactly Ivy. That must be why we are currently building around 2009 ROY (he must be one year BETTER than Soto!) Chris Coughlan.

                    • ssckelley

                      Funny, until I read your comment I was not even aware Coghlan won the ROY in 2009.

                      Woo hoo, maybe he will be like Bonifacio and go on a tear. #buildtradevalue

                  • Karl Groucho

                    You mean the guy who put up 3.6/1.1/3.2/2.2. WAR in each of his first four professional seasons?

                    The continued volley of “we’re in 2011″ for guys who outperformed expectations and “we’re in 2014″ for those who underperformed is making my neck sore.

              • Chad

                Why does everyone get caught up saying Cashner was so awesome. He had 1 start as a cub before being shelfed for the year. He was facing the same criticisms about durability as all young power pitchers. he was nothing special for the cubs and Rizzo could prove to be a pretty good player for the cubs when all is said and done.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Plus, if you want to have some fun, look at his home/road splits since becoming a Padre

                • Kyle

                  The fact that Cashner was good enough to be traded for Rizzo proves that he was a valuable asset at the time.

                • Jon

                  If he was nothing special at the time, he never would have netted Anthony Rizzo.

            • ssckelley

              *Boom*

              You just knocked that one out of the park Tommy. I cannot wait to hear Kyle’s response to that one. He will be wrong of course.

            • Kyle

              No team that simultaneously controls the 2011 versions of Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Javier Baez, Matt Garza, Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija suffers from an “extreme lack of talent.”

              That’s the exact hyperbole I’m talking about. It’s not enough to say they weren’t in good shape. In order to justify the front office’s failures, we have to press the issue to the extreme, when the historical record just doesn’t justify it.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                If you look at the overall talent pool of every team in baseball in 2011, I would wager that core would definitely rank in the bottom 10 teams, more likely in the bottom 5.

                • JB88

                  If you looked at the overall talent in the NL Central, alone, I’d think it would be in last, if not second to last.

                • Kyle

                  You would wager wildly incorrectly. This is exactly what I’m talking about. You seem quite literally ignorant of the recent history of the Cubs’ farm system. You’ve replaced actual knowledge with this mythic narrative that has taken shape around Epstein coming in and saving the Cubs from their terrible farm system.

                  The pre-2011 Baseball America farm system rankings had the Cubs’ farm system at No. 14. The 2011 draft and IFA period featured the Cubs adding significant talent.

                  They weren’t a bottom-5 system in any way, shape or form.

                  • Kyle

                    *- No. 16, not No. 14

                    • Kyle

                      It’s almost amazing how the narrative surrounding the farm system *always* seems to lag the reality by a year or two.

                      The Cubs’ farm system bottomed out around 2008/2009ish. By 2011, they had bottomed out and were on the way up. But the narrative is slow to catch up.

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    And Kyle knows he is wrong so he has resorted to name calling. Keep punching yourself in the face with that fist of logic Kyle

                    • Kyle

                      Were you, or were you not, aware that in 2010 and 2011 the Cubs’ farm system was ranked No. 14 and No. 16?

                      And that’s not including the 2011 draft and IFA class.

                      How do you square this with your belief that the system had a good chance to be in the bottom 5 when Epstein took over?

                      Someone’s wrong and deflecting here, and it isn’t me. Yeah, I’m gonna throw some namecalling in here, because the willful ignorance when the facts are right there is frustrating to deal with. I understand that some fans just discovered the joys of following the farm system, but maybe they need to defer to those of us who were paying attention back then when discussing what it was like back then.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Kyle, in case you weren’t aware, you’re not the only person who has followed the Cubs for more than a couple years, even if you might think that’s the case. However, I can guarantee you that you’re nowhere near the most knowledgable

                    • Kyle

                      “Kyle, in case you weren’t aware, you’re not the only person who has followed the Cubs for more than a couple years, even if you might think that’s the case. However, I can guarantee you that you’re nowhere near the most knowledgable”

                      You’re right. There’s probably a few others out there that knew about the farm system before Epstein took over. I wish they were commenting instead of the ones we actually have to listen to.

                    • mjhurdle

                      “they need to defer to those of us who were paying attention back then when discussing what it was like back then.”

                      that is horrible reasoning for deferring to someone. Do people get extra credit for being ignorant longer than the average fan?

                      How about instead of having to resort to ‘old-man’ logic, we just evaluate positions based on the strength of the argument?

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      “we just evaluate positions based on the strength of the argument?”

                      Because when we don’t have strength in our argument, we have to resort to name calling

                    • Kyle

                      “How about instead of having to resort to ‘old-man’ logic, we just evaluate positions based on the strength of the argument?”

                      I’m doing both, in case you haven’t noticed.

                      I lay out a strong, objective case that the farm system wasn’t that bad. I list the pile of players that we had at the major league level.

                      Then Tommy says “nuh-uh.”

                      I’m not limited to name-calling or making a good argument. I can do both.

                    • Kyle

                      “Well their major league talent wasn’t very good (they lost 90 games in 2011 with a largely old roster), so given those rankings, they would be in the bottom 10 for sure with yes, a strong possibility of being in the bottom 5″

                      91 losses did not put them in the bottom 5 in the majors.

                      So if it wasn’t bottom 5 in the majors, and it wasn’t bottom 5 in the minors, what should we conclude about the possibility of it being bottom 5 when you combine the two?

                    • BT

                      Kyle, this thread is already too long, but do you think there were 5-10 major league franchises who couldn’t come up with a list of talent at least as long as the one you did for the Cubs in 2011 if they took into account their ENTIRE franchise? Even teams like the Royals (Hosmer, Moose, Butler, Gordon, Perez, etc) could come up with a list of 5-10 talented players. The Cubs had talent, but how did that talent match up with the rest of MLB?

                    • BT

                      So 3 years is enough time? Then by your own definition Rebuilding, you are talking about ZERO Theo drafts. Their first draft was the Almora draft, which was in 2012, which by my math was 2 years ago. The Baez draft was 2011, but that was under Hendry. So they’ve had less than 2 years for players from their first draft to show what they have.

                    • Rebuilding

                      The guys drafted in 2012 are now in their 3rd year playing professionally. No? More than enough time for 1 out of approximately 150 guys to break out to “He might make a MLB SP or position player”. Don’t you think? There are plenty of guys from the 2012 draft starting to get to the upper minors

                    • BT

                      No. Half a season, MAYBE in 2012, one season in 2013, and one month in 2014 does not make 3 years. One position player from the first 5 rounds (from what I can tell) has made the majors. That’s it. 2 pitchers from the first round. That’s it. If you want to make blanket statements (of course your original statement was based on “all” of their drafts, which is two), go ahead. I don’t think blaming them for not producing a late round major leaguer after a season and a half of organized baseball is particularly damning.

                    • bbmoney

                      “So if it wasn’t bottom 5 in the majors, and it wasn’t bottom 5 in the minors, what should we conclude about the possibility of it being bottom 5 when you combine the two?”

                      I’d like to follow up that question with an interesting to no one fact about my senior season of HS basketball where I lead the team in 2pt FG% and in 3pt FG% but not in FG%.

                      With that in mind I’ll say we can draw no conclusions from the two data points you’ve given.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Or I could make it simpler and say out of the 2012 and 2013 drafts who have we drafted after the Top 10 that is significantly over performing to the point where neutral observers would say wow, great draft pick at that spot? Anyone?

                      You are Icould have picked Almora and Bryant. What else do those drafts look to have produced?

                    • Kyle

                      “With that in mind I’ll say we can draw no conclusions from the two data points you’ve given.”

                      Don’t look at it deductively. Look at it inductively.

                    • Rebuilding

                      And yes, no one from the 2012 draft is making an impact at the MLB level yet. That wasn’t my point. Plenty of guys have outperformed their draft spot and are quickly rising up the boards of prospect evaluators. Same with the 2013 draft. Who are those guys in the Cubs org?

                    • Karl Groucho

                      Rebuilding:

                      You’re hitting on what I think will prove this FO’s mettle. If their deep picks pan out and we truly get a pipeline of talent — as much as we don’t need to tank to do that — I’ll be impressed with the work they’ve done.

                      If our deep picks don’t pan out and all we have are the high draft choices, I’m none too impressed. It doesn’t take great strategy to perform poorly and get high draft picks in return.

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    If you knew how to read, you’d notice that I said overall talent pool, not farm system rankings. Including MLB talent in 2011, the Cubs were not in a good place

                    • Kyle

                      I know what you said.

                      But when the major league team includes all the players we’ve talked about, including Starlin Castro, adding them helps my case and not yours.

                      I was referencing the only objective rankings we have, because that was easier than trying to get you to admit that Starlin Castro, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner, Geovany Soto, Welington Castillo, Sean Marshall and others are not a pile of talent that every single team just has lying around.

                    • Kyle

                      So again.

                      The Cubs’ farm system was No. 16 pre-2011, had the 2011 draft class and the 2011 IFA class added to it, and was ranked No. 14 pre-2012 (Castro falling off the lists kept it from going higher). Epstein took over between those two lists (and after the draft/IFAs).

                      As of Epstein taking over featured Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall, Starlin Castro, Soto or Castillo (whichever you prefer), etc.

                      Are you *seriously* arguing that that MLB young talent is *so* bad and *so* many teams have Castros and Garzas just lying around, that it drags our overall talent ranking at that time from No. 14 or No. 16 down into the bottom 5?

                    • Rebuilding

                      And, the difference making MLB talent (and Baez and Alcantara and Vogelbach) we had in 2011 is exactly the difference making MLB talent we have today or was used to acquire it: Samardzija, Castillo, Castro, Rizzo (acquired with Cashner), and Grimm and Ramirez (acquired with Garza).

                      The only other potential difference makers we have added are Bryant (tanking got us the #2 pick), Almora (tanking got us the #6 pick), Soler (good sign), Edwards (Garza), Vizcaino (Maholm).

                      So, in 3 years of tanking the potential difference makers we’ve added are exactly who you would expect – Top 10 picks and a few shrewd flips.

                      My biggest question about the FO right now is where are the impact players from outside of the first round of the draft? In 3 years we’ve yet to have 1 guy not drafted in the Top 10, signed internationally or from the previous regime that has emerged as a real MLB talent.

                    • BT

                      except for the guys they traded for which evidently don’t count.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Long story short – In 3 years what potential impact talent has this FO found in Rounds 2-49 of the draft? Or if you throw out Pierce Johnson, what potential impact talent have they found outside of the Top 10 in the draft. With all of the praise McLeod and our FO gets doesn’t anyone else find that strange?

                    • Rebuilding

                      You mean the guys I specifically referenced and were acquired almost exclusively with talent we already had on the roster in 2011?

                    • ssckelley

                      It was not bottom 5 at the time, it was a very over rated #16. But, who knows, our farm system may be over rated now for all I know.

                      You look at the Cubs top 10 list back then and it makes you want to throw up:

                      1. Chris Archer, rhp
                      2. Brett Jackson, of
                      3. Trey McNutt, rhp
                      4. Hak-Ju Lee, ss
                      5. Josh Vitters, 3b
                      6. Chris Carpenter, rhp
                      7. Matt Szczur, of
                      8. Hayden Simpson, rhp
                      9. Rafael Dolis, rhp
                      10. Brandon Guyer, of

                      The Cubs are still benefiting from Chris Archer as he turned into Garza, we all know what Garza turned into.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Farm system alone after the 2012 off-season, Law had them at 20, Goldstein had them at 20, Marc Hulet had them at 22, Sickels had them at 20….Trend here?

                    • BT

                      Are you kidding me? First of all it’s very difficult to find impact talent in the FIRST round, let alone after it. Secondly, it’s almost impossilbe to find that talent in a form that ready to show itself after only one or two years in the minors. If they were major league ready impact talent, they would have been drafted in the first round. They may have found some impact talent but we won’t know for more than the comically short time period you’ve given them to prove it.

                    • Kyle

                      The trend being that your “bottom-5 possibility” was absurd? Yes.

                      Like I said: Below-average, but not hopelessly horrible.

                    • CubChymyst

                      Kyle; Do you think the Cubs have more young talent now then they did 3-4 years ago?

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      “If you look at the overall talent pool of every team in baseball in 2011, I would wager that core would definitely rank in the bottom 10 teams, more likely in the bottom 5″

                      My exact words

                    • Kyle

                      “Kyle; Do you think the Cubs have more young talent now then they did 3-4 years ago?”

                      Yes.

                    • Kyle

                      “My exact words”

                      That’s even worse. Thinking it was a possibility is bad enough. Thinking it’s “most likely”? Eep.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Well their major league talent wasn’t very good (they lost 90 games in 2011 with a largely old roster), so given those rankings, they would be in the bottom 10 for sure with yes, a strong possibility of being in the bottom 5

                    • Rebuilding

                      I’m not kidding at all. In 3 years there should be someone drafted in Rounds 2-49 who at least looks like they have the possibility of being a MLB starter. Or someone crushing in the low minors.Or someone who got an extra 3-5 MPH on their fastball. Of the guys we’ve drafted who are they?

                    • ssckelley

                      Kyle, you and Tommy are a lot closer than you think. You state the Cubs were #16 pre 2011, that is only 4 spots above being one of the bottom 10 (which Tommy claims). Tommy says, if I am not mistaken, looking back on it the talent was bottom 10, possibly being bottom 5. Looking back on the list of prospects the Cubs had back then I cannot believe even you would argue that the talent was very good back then.

                      The Cubs had a handful of good assets on the MLB team, they either still have them or turned them into other useful assets. The results of the minor league system speak for themselves, not much gained outside of Archer.

                      I suppose once you throw in the 2011 draft and IFA then the organization looks much better. But that draft was a big reason why Theo was interested in coming to Chicago in the first place.

                    • Kyle

                      “Kyle, you and Tommy are a lot closer than you think. ”

                      Probably true. That’s what irks me about the whole discussion.

                      The Cubs’ talent from MLB down through the minors in Sept. 2011 was below-average, absolutely.

                      It’s just not enough to say “below-average” for some people. In order to help spin for Epstein, the narrative has taken hold that it was at or near the absolute bottom.

              • another JP

                Of all the players you mention only Garza has had an impact season of over 4 WAR. Some core that Theo inherited. And why mention Baez as such an important piece when you had just bashed him a couple posts earlier?

                If you wanted to mention core talent- given your issues that the FO won’t sign FA, then you should have added Aram & Sori.

                On every level this front office has made the best of the limited resources they inherited. The only player they might have retained that had true value was Aram… laying out money for EJax instead of Ramirez was stupid.

                • Kyle

                  “Of all the players you mention only Garza has had an impact season of over 4 WAR. Some core that Theo inherited. ”

                  That’s very true. We talked a lot at the time about how what the Cubs had was a wide base of useful players, but a complete dearth of true impact talent.

          • bbmoney

            This argument has been had ad naseum. Anyone could have done better if the primary goal of “better” was to win more games the past three year. Really competing would have been very difficult and I think the chances of it happening without the benefit of hindsight were slim.

            So they made the percentage play,given the exact circumstances facing them, in order to give the team the best chance to build an organization that can consistently complete.

            I know some people hate those words and terms and ideas. But I still think it was the smart move even if it required the front office to swallow some pride and ‘rebuild’ ….or whatever you want to call it. That’s really all I have to say.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      If B holds up through a 162 game season, then we can discuss A, C, D, and E

    • Norm

      Regarding A, who has ever said “it’s the only way”?

      • Jon

        The best way, it’s always assumed. The White Sox approach often gets accused of being a “shortcut”. The reality is the Cubs approach might result in the best long terms success (vs the White Sox). Or the White sox approach might win out. It’s wait and see game at this point.

    • J. L.

      You’re really at it today, huh, Jon?

      Brett’s article was basically dedicated to show why “B” is false. He wasn’t trying to come up with impediments on comparing both teams *despite* “B” being true.

      • J. L.

        “Showing”, not “show”. Dammit.

      • Jon

        “B” & “D”. Point D I addressed above.

        • J. L.

          Yes, I was able to follow your train of thought. I’m just not crazy about you portraying precisely what is in contention, “B”, as obvious and unproblematic. If it were so, it evidently follows that whoever denies “B” has to be either insane or dishonest. The matter, then, becomes not “B” but the “B”-deniers’ mental health or integrity.

          What you did is equivalent to presenting what follows as what’s “really at stake” in the God debate:

          “A) Some folks have been saying for a long time that God does not exist.

          B) But God obviously does exist.

          C) Seeing that “B” is true, some other folks start questioning the atheist position.

          D) The atheists try desperately to come up with reasons for us not to believe what we can clearly see is true.”

    • snyder27

      “B)In comes a GM and with a handful of savy moves, takes a team with equally of dire circumstances, and flips them on their head in one off season.”

      The White Sox were 14-18 last year through 32 games. They’re 15-17 this year with unsustainable offensive performances from Tyler Flowers, Alexei Ramirez and probably Dayan Viciedo. Jose Abreu’s power can’t keep this current pace (unless you actually think he’s hitting more than 60 homers) and even Adam Dunn is hitting .273.

      All that and they’re ONE GAME BETTER at this point than last year.

      And that’s flipping a team on its head.

      It seems to me all the arguments on this thread regarding the Cubs’ progress were misguided and we could have just shot down the entire post based upon the premise that the “B” part was a ridiculous statement. Just outrageous.

  • rabbit

    The White Sox can’t rebuild the way the cubs can. If they put the kind of teams the Cubs have been putting on the field the last 3 years they would be in as bad shape as possible financially. They only get fans to come when they have proven to be a winning ball club, so they kind of have to fast track that rebuild as much as possible. They also have an aging owner who wants to see another world series before he dies. These Cubs luxuries are why Theo agreed to take over the helm of the Cubs. If still owned by the Tribune he most certainly never comes.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Call me crazy, but I’m perfectly happy with Rizzo at the moment. Perhaps we are seeing the budding of an All Star-caliber shortstop. Rizzo was a known to our front office. Abreu was not. Initially, the White Sox gamble looks to have been a good one but it is way too soon to gauge a six-year contract’s value. Doing the numbers, Abreu is about 3% the way into his contract. Way. Too. Soon. Rizzos numbers last season indicated some positive regression this season and he’s proven that the case. I predict Rizzo’s contract will be a great value to the Cubs and he’ll be one of the biggest faces of the franchises for the next several seasons.

  • Rebuilding

    Comparing Cespedes and Abreu is like comparing Dayan Viciedo to Paul Goldschmidt (two of their closer similarity scores). If anything, Abreu is the one who hasn’t adjusted yet and it’s likely as he gets around that he’s going to draw a lot more walks and see his power go down slightly:

    Cespedes Davenport Projection: 244/307/467 (774 OPS)
    Cespedes Career (so far): 264/326/474 (800 OPS)

    Abreu Davenport Projection: 298/393/576 (969 OPS)
    Abreu Career (so far): 258/319/617 (936 OPS)

    Anyone waiting for the league to suddenly “figure out” Abreu and for that contract to look bad is going to be waiting awhile. I also wonder if the blank statement “he can’t play the outfield” comes from the same people who said he is going to be brutal at 1b? He’s been good so far, to the point where Stone brings it up almost every game. At Theo’s previous stop he had the following LFer: Manny Ramirez – no one could be worse in LF.

    28 other teams missed out on Abreu, but so did the Cubs – I’m not sure why that is so hard for some people to admit

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The pitchers have been throwing blind to Abreu. Even now, they have only a months worth of data. Chances are pretty good that he has blue zones.

      And Stone can say that Abreu hasn’t been brutal, but that is about it. His lack of range and awkwardness have been widely noted by other people.

      • Rebuilding

        No, actually he has been praised repeatedly. I get the MLB package so sometimes I have to listen to the out of town broadcasters if I’m watching the mosaic channel. People are “shocked” (and yes, that is not too strong) at how good he looks at 1b and how athletic he looks in general compared to the reports they had prior to the season.

        And why is it always the pitchers who are going to adjust and not the other way around? Abreu is hitting .348 on balls OUTSIDE OF THE STRIKEZONE. He is getting thrown almost nothing good to hit. As he learns to lay off the junk outside he’s only going to be better.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Pitchers use heat charts. However, the heat charts for Abreu were non-existant. They soon won’t be non-existant. Once the pitchers get those, they will then target the blue zones: and unless he’s Barry Bonds, then there will be blue zones. That’s how pitching works in the 21st century.

          As for people being “shocked,” I’ve read that only once, and ironically. (Sort of in the same tones as people being surprised that Vogelbach doesn’t cause seismographs to jump when he’s playing 1st.)

          • Rebuilding

            He’s already had several cold stretches, and adjusted out of them on fire. He’s nearing the point where sample size issues are going to fade away. And he’s hitting 348 on balls outside the zone showing he is an elite + hitter likely to improve as he starts to wait on his pitch. Keep arguing that Abreu isn’t an elite level hitter – and I don’t think you’ll agree with yourself over the next several years

            • DocPeterWimsey

              There has not been enough baseball for anybody to have had hot and cold stretches. April itself is not long enough to qualify as a “stretch”: the “hot” and “cold” starts about which the sports media makes such a to-do almost always turn out to be well within expectations given constant rates of performance.

              • Rebuilding

                Fair enough. Although there is a difference between bad luck BABIP stretches and looking lost at the plate. But regardless, I would maintain that there is a 50% chance he improves as opposed to regressing. But your prediction of Abreu dropping off a cliff as people get heat maps is duly noted. I’ll give you full credit if it happens

            • Drew7

              ” And he’s hitting 348 on balls outside the zone showing he is an elite + hitter likely to improve as he starts to wait on his pitch.”

              I find this interesting. Where did you get that data? No, snark – just curious.

              Anyway, I’m not sure his .348 avg on pitches outside the zone tells us he is an elite+ hitter. I would think if that were true, he’d be making contact more than 58% of the time on those pitches.

      • jeff1969

        I disagree with the analysis of his fielding, just based on what I have seen which is about 20 games on television. There is no awkwardness. Get over it. The White Sox snagged a nice player. Give me some evidence, quotes, I would like to see how widely noted this criticism is.

        • BenW

          Fielding Bible has him at -3 DRS. Not terrible, but also not good.

      • Rebuilding

        I know a few of you can’t stand the idea our FO missed on someone or aren’t perfect, but it happens. The attacking of Abreu, who is arguably a Top 5 MVP type and possibly hasn’t hit his ceiling, is just bizarre

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          There’s a distinct difference between being realistic and attacking

          • mjhurdle

            ^this

            It isn’t attacking to say that, after one month of MLB baseball, pitchers may not have a book on him yet. It is also not attacking to say that they will probably change their approach to him and that he will have to adjust.

            Abreu is playing extremely well. And maybe he just continues that forward for the rest of his career. Or maybe pitchers adjust and his production drops. Lets give it a couple more months before judging exactly what kind of player he will be.

        • Jon

          Agree Rebuilding. Mooney put it best on a twitter exchange the other day, it’s maybe not one particular player, but it’s a cumulative pattern of missing on elite young FA’s during this rebuilding period. (paraphrasing)

          The “28 other teams” argument is likewise silly. How many other teams in baseball have the gaping talen gap t in the outfield like the Cubs do? They have more need at the outfield position than arguably, anybody.

          • BT

            Abreu’s not an outfielder. It’s nice now that Rizzo is hitting the cover off the ball that you’ve magically dropped your idea that the Cubs should have per-emptively dumped him so they could sign Abreu, and NOW they should have magically signed him for a position he hasn’t played yet. Maybe the Cubs should have signed him and put him at 2b?

            • DarthHater

              I’d take Abreu at 2B over Barney, but we’d have to call in the Chicago PD Riot Squad to control the pitching staff.

            • YourResidentJag

              Who said he was referencing Abreau here????

              • BT

                when he said “Agree rebuilding” to a post regarding Abreu? When he referenced “28 teams missed” to Brett talking about Abreu”? God knows I follow EVERY word Jon says, but this seemed pretty straighforward.

            • Jon

              Troll much ? It’s like you didn’t read a single point in my post before responding.

              • BT

                No, I don’t troll much, but I’ll try to get better. Explain what I missed.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Pot meet kettle

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Well, the issue on Abreu in the national media is about whether several other AL teams that could have used a 1B/DH are regretting not pressing harder on Abreu. The Sox, Rangers and M’s all could have afforded the extra $$$ between what is thought to be their offers and what it took for the ChiSox to land him. The Sox and Rangers wound up pursuing other options (the Sox kept Napoli, the Rangers acquired Fielder), but they made those decisions after Abreu was signed.

            One of the suggestions is that too many AL teams have gotten hung up on their DH’s being able to play the field during interleague games, and Abreu was viewed as strictly a DH by several teams. (If true, then this is an unwise concern for AL teams: worry about the 155+ games you’ll have a DH before you worry about the 2 NL road series where you don’t.)

        • YourResidentJag

          BTW, you we’re also right last offseason…they could have also missed on Eaton.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            You mean the guy that has a sub-.600 OPS in his last 10 games?

            Right now, the jury is very much still out on how much the Cubs missed out on Eaton.

            • Rebuilding

              SSS much? You mean the guy who has a 363 OBP and had a career minor league OBP of 450? Yeah, I’m sure we couldn’t have used him considering we are using a 2b there for the most part.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                So far this year is a SSS.

                Right now, the jury is very much still out on how much the Cubs missed out on Eaton.

                • Rebuilding

                  So you are one to discount minor league statistics as predictive? Good to know

                  • roz

                    From what I can tell, we discount minor league stats as predictive for players that wish the Cubs hadn’t acquired, and we take them as the holy grail for players that we wish the Cubs had acquired.

                • Jon

                  At any rate getting Eaton in that 3 way deal and only having to give up Santiango is looking pretty good.

                  Hahn might want the Reed/Davidson deal back though.

            • YourResidentJag

              Sounds like you’re making an argument counter to what this previous regime is known for in terms of minor league OBP. And I wonder why people say your argumentation is ALL OVER the place. Now, I get to see it firsthand.

              • Rebuilding

                His arguments are consistent – whatever would be the company line for the FO. I asked the other day if there was literally anything the FO had done wrong in 3 years and got no reply. Surely we can all agree that Puig and Ryu were misses?

                • YourResidentJag

                  Yeah…well.

        • Sandberg

          It’s obviously still early and only time will tell, but if Abreu continues his success, the front office dropped the ball. The only thing that can mitigate that statement is if Abreu absolutely refused to try to move to the outfield. Talking about the rest of the teams in the league is ridiculous. It’s the front office’s job to be better.

          • JCubs79

            What?

          • JulioZuleta

            Abreu is really bad at first base. Absolutely no shot he could play the outfield. None. Also, “continue this success” = 61 HR, 178 RBI.

            And, a lot of reports said Abreu chose the Sox, in part, because of their relatively large Cuban contingent. So basically, Cubs should have found a few more MLB ready Cubans to stash on the 25 man roster, and moved Abreu to the OF, and paid more than $68M over 6. Simple.

            • Edwin

              The team barely has that many MLB ready players to begin with.

            • Rebuilding

              So says you. He is certainly not bad at 1b leading me to believe you don’t watch many Sox games. And there have been worse athletes playing LF, including our GMs previous LF who led him to 2 World Series. I think paying more than 6/68 is pretty much a no brainer at this point for every team. As for Cubans – can’t help you there

              • JulioZuleta

                He certainly is bad at first base. I’ve watched several. He’s bad both in terms of the “eye” test, and the defensive metrics. He is a DH that is being put out at 1B because the Sox already have 3 or 4 other DHs in their lineup.

                • Rebuilding

                  Sounds like you should get into scouting, because your “eye test” is exactly the opposite of every announcer and talking head that’s discussed it this year

                  • JulioZuleta

                    Show me one. Other than Hawk Harrelson, preferably. The best review I have heard is “he’s not quite as bad as we thought.” Show me one non-White Sox source that says he has been good on defense.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      The announcers on the Score, Steve Stone, Len Kasper, ESPN, MLBNetwork….gosh there’s so many.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Do you want me to hunt down audio from MLB.com? Pretty much every visiting announcing team I’ve heard. Also, Steve Stone goes on and on about it. Stone is a pretty smart guy (or at least people thought so when he was here). Or how about this:

                      “While his offense has been everything that many of us imagined, there’s been a pleasant surprise to go along with it. His defense has been good.

                      Currently, he’s got a slightly positive UZR at 0.1. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but, in 2013, Paul Konerko’s was -4.1 while Adam Dunn’s was -8.0. He’s showing significantly better range with a Revised Zone Rating of .800 and picking up three out of zone plays while Dunn and Konerko put up RZRs of .674 and .760 last season. Also, he seems to have a decent arm for a first baseman, having thrown out two runners on relay plays so far. He did mess up a rundown play early in the season by interfering, but, after last season, a lot of minor sins can be forgiven.

                      While Abreu probably won’t win any gold gloves, he can make the routine play. The idea that he would just switch to DH after this season is starting to seem unlikely now. If the Sox are looking to be a serious contender next season, Abreu might give them some additional flexibility when they look for a DH next offseason.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Rebuilding, you realize that quote was from a sbnation White Sox blogs right?? That’s like quoting Yellon for Cubs analysis…

                      He’s been average to slightly below average this year at first, which is of course better than expected, but it’s still not good.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      “Show me one non-Sox source”

                      You give me Steve Stone and a long quote from South Side Sox. Hah.

                    • Rebuilding

                      So, I assume you didn’t read the stats? Sounds about right. Did they just make those up? At worst his been average. And again, I’m not going to search every MLB broadcast for you – it’s been repeated on ESPN, MLB Network and every out of town broadcast. Len Kaspar has said it on the Score. And on and on.

                      Also, by your estimation we can’t trust Brett when he talks about Cubs players? Just because it’s a Cubs blog, right?

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Those metrics suggest he’s been average. DRS suggests he’s been below average at -3. Hence my evaluation of average to slightly below average.

                      If you’re going to compare Brett to Yellon, we’d all appreciate if you went over to his site and never came back. Good riddance

                    • Rebuilding

                      The original quote I was responding to said he was “bad” at first base. That’s not true. Pretty simple and it’s been commented on repeatedly by outside observers.

                      Is that White Sox blog closer to Brett or Yellon? I have no idea. They mainly just quoted statistics and said he appeared to have a decent arm

                  • JulioZuleta

                    Or one defensive metric that suggests he’s been even average so far. “Not as bad as we thought” does not equal “good.”

                    • Norm

                      Don’t bother with this. 1 month of defense metrics are meaningless.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      I know, my point was that even cherrypicking stats you can’t find an argument that he’s been good.

              • Norm

                You just said “SSS much” in an above post, but here you are judging Abreu’s 1B defense on a month of games?

                • CubFan Paul

                  Because that’s the same…

                • Rebuilding

                  Yes, because 10 days of at-bats is exactly the same as every commentator I’ve heard saying a guy is a MUCH better defender than they expected by the way he moves around the position. Geez

                  • Norm

                    So believe the “eye test” from every commentator you’ve heard even though they’ve seen Abreu for a whopping 3 games.
                    He’ll be in the bottom third of 1B defense ranks come end of year.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Because everyone is judging Abreu SSS because Abreu’s potential talent right now is > than Eaton???

          • DocPeterWimsey

            You can write that the Cubs FO dropped the ball, but what should be telling is that in the end, no NL team made an offer competitive with an AL team: the three finalists were the ChiSox, Sox and Astros. The Pirates and Rockies were initially very interested: but they simply were not willing to offer the years that AL teams were because they were skeptical that Abreu would hold up to playing on the field constantly.

            (This should sound familiar, btw.: almost all of the marquis position players in the last couple of off-seasons have gone to AL teams on contracts that basically are assuming DH years.)

            This won’t matter that much for the ChiSox: Abreu will DH in 2015 after Dunn leaves.

  • jeff1969

    I’m thinking the Cubs didn’t go after Abreu because they really like Rizzo, as a player and a person who they have a long relationship with through three different organizations. He’s clearly their guy. This would lessen their desire for another guy who can only play 1B. I also remember how much Abreu’s “slider speed bat” was talked about, and the discussion of how he just wasn’t the caliber of prospect that Puig & Cespedes were. Many were thinking he was a AAAA player at best. Some scouts thought he was the best hitter on the planet not playing in the major leagues. Whatever. It seems like only the Astros were willing to be in the same ballpark with the White Sox on salary for Abreu. Why didn’t the Pirates go hard after him? Or the Mariners?

    Abreu has been incredible, but it hasn’t all been red hot. He didn’t start off on fire, then he started hitting a little and then had a streak where he was 1 for 20 something. Then he adjusted. That’s what’s nice about him so far, he has adjusted a couple of times already and he is a much better/smarter hitter than anybody realized I think. His bat isn’t slow. He can hit the slider on the outside of the plate with power to the opposite field, he can bring in his hands and crush an inside fastball. The White Sox gambled and they hit it big so far. I’m thinking Abreu is going to be a good player for a while. While he’s not a gold glover at 1B, he knows how to play the position & is a decent athlete. I just think both teams are going to have pretty good 1B play for a while and that’s a good thing.

    • 1060Ivy

      Concern is not that the FO made a mistake in assessing Abreu but the number of other talented FA be they Cuban or domestic that the ‘smartest FO in baseball’ has missed out on in the last years.

      Other teams also misjudged these assets but most other team’s aren’t in the same circumstances as the Cubs – which I would define as a total rebuild focusing on identifying, signing and developing undervalued free agents and prospects for one of the top revenue producing teams in baseball.

  • Chad

    As possible trade possibilities pop up here is one about the Jays looking for a 2B. The cubs have 2 out of 4 on the list, and one of those is not Darwin Barney unfortunately. However, they could use SP help, but plan to bring up Stroman, but I could see a Shark/Boni trade to Toronto.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/05/al-east-notes-blue-jays-schoop-gray.html

    • YourResidentJag

      I like the Orioles more.

      • Chad

        I don’t disagree with you, but I just saw that article, What are the O’s needs right now?

        • YourResidentJag

          A TOR.

          • Chad

            Anything else?

            • YourResidentJag

              Probably a guy like Bono would hurt them as well. Have you noticed how many injuries have occurred with SP in the Toronto farm system over the yrs? Let’s see…there’s Osuna, Drabek, Hutchinson, Marcum, McGowan, And people have pointed this out before. Sanchez’s release point is troubling.

              • Chad

                I’m with ya. But again, I don’t know the Baltimore system is Harvey without Gausman or Bundy good enough to get Shark?

                • YourResidentJag

                  As long as they include guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Ohlman or Sisco plus a power arm like Michael Wright. It’s a solid package.

                  • Chad

                    Are you assuming Bundy and Gausman are untouchable then.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Pretty much.

    • Rebuilding

      I like Colorado even more. If you could somehow pry Butler away and pair him with Dickerson. Dickerson is this year’s Adam Eaton (with a lot more power) for me and he has nowhere to play

      • YourResidentJag

        I agree totally. But the Rockies seriously need to keep their SP. Baltimore can afford to let Harvey go while keeping Gausman and Bundy and still getting Shark for 2 yrs in a wide open AL East. Have you seen the AL East run differentials? Wow.

  • another JP

    The Abreu vs. Rizzo argument is ridiculous- Rizzo was already signed to a long term deal and is 24 years old. The Cubs didn’t need Abreu, end of story.

    Now if anyone wants to argue the merits of signing Soler instead of Puig, that’s a far more relevant and worthwhile topic to discuss.

    • Kyle

      If i’m given the choice between nothing (which is what we got this offseason) and Rizzo moving to LF for Abreu, then I choose the latter. But would have made even more sense to find a third option.

      • another JP

        First of all, the next game Rizzo plays in the OF will be his first ever. And the Cubs signed Bonafacio- who not only can play multiple positions but only cost the Cubs $2.5M this season against $8.6M for Abreu- who is a DH only. And they both have identical WAR values to date.

        Thank God you’ll never have a chance to make personnel decisions for the Cubs…

        • Karl Groucho

          The notion that an exceedingly well-known quantity of a 29-yo journeyman putting up a BABIP .070 points above his career average is somehow comparable to Abreu based on year-to-date WAR statistics made me chuckle.

          • Jon

            Yeah, that was pretty amazing

            • Jon

              Also, in addition to “narrative” can we also retire the type phrases “thank God you are not GM of the Cubs”

              • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                Can we also retire “Jon?”

                • Jon

                  If I wasn’t here then you couldn’t spend your days bitching about me. Then what could you offer to the community?

                  • Fishin Phil

                    Goat Cheese.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    +1 no correct that….+25 ;)

                  • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                    Fuck you you pathetic little man

                    • Rebuilding

                      Against the posting policy or does Goat get the usual pass?

                    • Jon

                      LOL! It’s not even 3PM! Are we starting early today?

                    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                      Ban me please brett

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Come on, MG. You can hold it together.

                    • DarthHater

                      Another goat successfully recruited to the Dark Side. The Emperor will be pleased.

                  • DarthHater
              • DarthHater

                Thank God that Jon is not in charge of what words and phrases may or may not be used on this board. :-P

          • another JP

            Yeah, I was kind of laughing as I typed it. But our resident-expert-on-all-things-baseball-related claimed the Cubs did nothing this off-season actually made an acquisition that best fit the needs of this particular ball club. And as of now it’s worked out so well that the little guy we picked up has an identical WAR value as the player everyone in baseball is slobbering all over… including the whiners that frequent this message board.

            • Karl Groucho

              If the goal of the Cubs was to land short-term assets who get lucky over a one-month span I suppose we could say “it’s worked out so well.”

              More likely, we can say frankly that Abreu will likely be a productive player for the Sox for the next six years and will probably prove to be a good investment. We can also say that logistically there was never a good fit on the north side for someone like him.

              • Karl Groucho

                Lotta adverbs

              • another JP

                Bingo.

      • JulioZuleta

        Of course you would have. But at the same time, the next time you pass up an opportunity to complain and nitpick will be the first.

    • Rebuilding

      We can’t make the Soler vs. Puig comparison though. It might call something into question about the FO. Pretty sure that the usual suspects told us last year that was a no brainer in favor of Soler

      • Rebuilding

        As a matter of fact I remember last year having the “conversation” with Hansman and Doc where they assured me that Puig was just off to a hot start and wasn’t very good. Much like our Abreu one today

        • YourResidentJag

          Well, the FO passed on these guys….so their determinations MUST be correct.

        • Jon

          It doesn’t have to be Soler vs Puig, I wouldn’t mind having both

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          I think you are missing the boat on what is being said with Abreu (and with Puig back then).

          Before we declare them Amazing Gods of the Rounded Lumber, let’s get a bigger sample size.

          (FWIW, I wanted the shit out of Abreu.)

          • ssckelley

            “I wanted the shit out of Abreu”

            Now that is just plain nasty!

          • Rebuilding

            Just out of curiosity, where is the boat if I’m missing it? Do you think Puig has enough ABs now? You were pretty adamant last year that he was just off to a hot start. He’s up to 560 PAs now with a 919 OPS. I was told repeatedly that his hitting was unsustainable because of his peripherals. Worst case he seems to be a 850 OPS guy.

            With Abreu we aren’t looking at him in a vacuum. There have been enough Cuban players come over that they can put together a reasonable projection of how a guy will hit within a range. Arguably, he’s underperforming that translation and has been one of the better hitters in the league.

            It’s not like I just started saying these things when Puig and Abreu got hot…

            • Karl Groucho

              The boat is floating ever out of reach.

            • Jon

              Last year many were certain that Puig was gong to fall flat on his face, even though is 2nd half numbers, while not video game like, were still very good.

              It’s time to admit he’s just a damn good ballplayer.

              • bbmoney

                Didn’t you see how their game ended yesterday? Flat on his face.

                But seriously I hope he’s ok (sounds like he is). That was a hell of an effort with the game on the line and exactly what I’d want to see from a Cubs RF given the circumstances (if it’d been in the third in a scoreless game heck no, but in a don’t catch it and you lose situation, heck yes).

                I still think the “Flat on his face” comment is an exaggeration. A lot of people thought he wouldn’t be as good as he was…so far he pretty much has been (or at least almost), which is incredible.

            • bbmoney

              No one is saying Abreu isn’t good (at least not that I’ve seen). Most are just saying let’s not anoint him as a great player after one month. Maybe he will be a great player. I’m not saying he won’t be. I’m just saying it’s not a given.

              • Jon

                I’d be interested to see the list of guys that hit 10HR’s and posted a 900+ OPS in their first full month of professional baseball and then completely fell back into being an average player. (Chris Shelton?) You don’t do that unless you have some talent.

                • bbmoney

                  Chris Shelton became an average player? News to me.

                • Norm

                  Who said Abreu didn’t have talent?

                  You sure do like looking for answers to questions that are never asked/statements never made.

                • BT

                  How many player’s first full month of professional baseball came as a 27 year old after being prepped in Cuban ball? Abreu’s “rookie” season is an outlier and to keep comparing it to other rookies is silly. It’s like pretending Ichiro’s rookie year was the same as Castro’s. They aren’t.

                  This concept isn’t that difficult to understand. Saying let’s wait to see if Abreu keeps this up after a few times through the league (hey maybe he won’t hit 70 home runs!) isn’t the same thing as saying we all believe he’s the next Tuffy Rhodes. My guess is that his floor is that of a good major leaguer. His ceiling might be perennial all star, but I also remember Fukudome having a 150 OPS+ in April 2008, so let’s not go all Winston Wolf on him just yet.

          • mjhurdle

            No Hansmann, it only takes 60 or so ABs before we can start minting the HoF busts for international FAs.
            And if you disagree, then you are “attacking” said international FA.
            No matter how many times you clarify that Abreu may in fact be this good, but we should wait for a large SS before proclaiming it as fact, you are simply attacking Abreu in a desperate attempt to defend the FO for passing on him.

            • Rebuilding

              Well, when you have a projection system, whose projections have been very close on numerous players from a certain country, project a guy is going to OPS 970 and then said player has an OPS of 932. What is more likely? That he is going to regress substantially or that he is about what you though he was?

              • mjhurdle

                well, seeing as how projections systems are rarely, if ever, wrong when it comes to projecting out players playing at the High A/AA level, I guess I have to concede that point.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Are we sure rebuilding isn’t the leader of a cult that worships Clay Davenport? PRAISE CLAY!

                • Rebuilding

                  I give credit where it is due – he has been pretty much right on Cespedes, Puig, Ryu, Tanaka, Iwukama and so on. If you are down to those kind of attacks Tommy I’ll just accept victory. Or I’ll come back humbly when Abreu collapses like Puig has

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    It was a joke man, chill out, but..

                    He had Cespedes for .240/.292/.442?

                    Also ,if you have his projections for Iwakuma, Ryu, and Tanaka handy I’d love to see them

                    • Rebuilding

                      We’ve already talked about Abreu.

                      Cespedes Projection: 244/307/467
                      Cespedes actual: 264/326/474

                      Tanaka projection: 3.05 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.5/1 K/BB Ratio
                      Tanaka Actual: 2.53 ERA, .97 WHIP, 8.5/1 K/BB Ratio

                      So, if anything he’s been conservative (I know that’s true for Puig). I will have to dig for the other guys

                    • Rebuilding

                      Ryu Projection (prior to 2013): 3.34 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3:1 K/BB Ratio
                      Ryu actual (2013): 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2.82:1 K/BB Ratio

                    • Rebuilding

                      Iwakuma Projection (prior to 2012): 4.30 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 2:1 K/BB Ratio

                      Iwakuma Actual (2012): 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.35 K/BB Ratio

                      Iwakuma was helped quite a bit by landing in Seattle’s pitchers park

      • another JP

        Unless you can name the people that made such a claim I’d have to chalk that up as a straw man argument, but I’ve been as supportive of management as anyone and I see no possibility that the Soler’s performance will outweigh what Puig has done. Never claimed it would and can’t remember many folks around here insisting the Soler deal was better. But once again, there’s still another six years on Soler’s deal and we have no idea if Puig was ever looking at another team other than LA.

        • another JP

          OK, and now you’ve named them. Good for you.

        • YourResidentJag

          The “we have no idea if IFA or FA X is looking at another team” is a REALLY tired one.

          • another JP

            No more tired than the perpetual bashing of Cubs ownership for not signing every free agent available- no matter what the reason.

            • YourResidentJag

              So, you’re saying both are tired. :)

              • another JP

                That’s fairly accurate YRJ.

  • Featherstone

    I’m sure this has been said by someone already but this is a very relevant point to those saying we should have moved Rizzo to get Abreu.

    Rizzo: .294/.421/.510 406 wOBA and 156 wRC+

    Abreu: .258/.319/.617 393 wOBA and 146 wRC+

    Bottom line: OBP is much more valuable than SLG.

    • bbmoney

      Whatever. Abreu has more RBIzzzzz. Case closed.

      • Featherstone

        Clearly a lack of TWTW is the reason why.

    • ssckelley

      I wanted Abreu with the hope that the Cubs could have found some way to have both in the lineup. But in the worst case scenario that neither could not play left field then the return for Rizzo could have been nice.

    • Rebuilding

      Yep. Maybe some others did, but I certainly never suggested moving Rizzo to get Abreu. Rather I hoped we would do what Theo did with Manny and have him trot out to LF every inning, stand around and get ready to hit

      • Featherstone

        Or, we just implement the DH already and have both.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          I really think the NL not having the DH really hurts teams in the NL.

          Sure they all play by the same set of rules but it is easier to take chances on guys when you can DH them. It is very interesting that a majority of the bats have gone to the AL the past few years.

          • Karl Groucho

            +1

            And it’s much more of a problem now that we have all-year interleague play!

            • Jon

              Wouldn’t any disadvantages say the Cubs have against an inter league opponents be balanced out by fellow NL competitors having those same disadvantages in interleague play? The only time it seems to come to fruition is in a World Series matchup.

              • Karl Groucho

                Yeah, that was in the back of my mind when I typed that. To me it’s less about an NL’s team disadvantage in making the playoffs, or even winning in that crapshoot. It’s more about a general poor distribution of bats that doesn’t serve competition well when you have AL and NL teams playing each other constantly.

                • Karl Groucho

                  In a way I actually kind of liked the DH/no DH split when they’re two very different leagues. It’s almost like two different types of game (strategically in discrete competitions and writ large in organizational tactics), with the best teams of each then facing off in the WS. But when the leagues are mainly different in name (and DH rule) only, it feels odd to relegate NL teams to a second tier w/r/t bats in this manner.

                  • Karl Groucho

                    I should have said: “best teams”

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                It has nothing to do with on the field. It’s about being in on long term sluggers that the team needs.

                Just pay attention where the free agents are going.

          • bbmoney

            Yeah I’m sick of the built in advantage the AL has. The Cubs could have realistically valued Abreu (or insert aging player or corner slugger) as highly as AL teams like the Sox if both leagues had the DH. It’s really starting to annoy me.

            I don’t like the DH, because I guess I’m stuck in the past, but I dislike the competitive advantage on the FA market AL teams have more.

            • DarthHater

              Yea, if the NL had the DH, then the Cubs could have finished second in the running for Abreu, instead of not participating at all. :-D

              • bbmoney

                Cute.

              • Cyranojoe

                LOL. Sad but probably true.

          • Jon

            If the NL had the DH Abrue likely would have signed with the Dodgers.

      • Karl Groucho

        Just for fun: over the course of ~1000 innings/year in LF, Ramirez put up a UZR/150 in the vicinity of -23 from 2003-07. That was good for dead-last of 62 players with at least 900 innings of LF play over that span.

        His WAR? Average of 3.3/year over that span, thanks to a SLG-heavy wRC+ of 151.

  • Pingback: Series Preview: Chicago White Sox (15-17) vs Chicago Cubs (11-18) | Obstructed View

  • candyland07

    The Cubs are rebuilding the cheapest way they can, which will only produce a higher selection of draft choices. The Cubs front office have done nothing great in the last past three years. The Cubs continue to lose and play disable list roulette to sign players which produces mixed results , for every 5 million dollars contract they give away to players like Baker , they have had minimum success in fetching quality starters that care to pitch in Wrigley Field over an extended period of time.

    Just because the Cubs find itself in a position to select early in the draft is no reason to celebrate, and after a half of decade of cheating its fans at the ticket booth with a sub par 25 man roster is not a brilliant and crafted plan. The rebuild is because the Cubs can not compete financially at a major league for many different reason which has to do with the ownership and no reflection on the front office but amount of money the Cubs do have to select and buy actual players has not been good, to many medical problems to overcome and the few that have had prolong time on the roster is neither of great production for the team or its fan base.

    When a team rebuilds on the Cheap (like the Cubs ) its not a” PLAN” its just the cheapest option available to every major league team and the Cubs do that very well.

    • ssckelley

      So which team is your favorite? You a Cardinals fan perhaps?

      • candyland07

        You already know I am a Cub fan. Not Rickets fan , not a front office fan. but a damn Cub fan.

        • ssckelley

          With as much crap as you spew on here it is hard to tell. If I felt the way you do I would find another team to root for.

          • candyland07

            The only people that spew crap on this site is all the headbobbing done to the front office and it wonderful jest of a “plan” Which is do to virtually nothing in three years but a carry a triple A team with some major league players.

            The Cubs lose because they have focus on a plan to do nothing at the major league level . Ownership has handcuffed this front office. Then this front office has done little but collect and sign players that any absented minded front office can do when they lose .

            The Cubs have how many seasons losing 90 plus games , and how many more of a 90 plus season do the Cubs need, So a paying customer should not feel cheated at the gate

            Yeah that right attendance is down – no shows up – the cycle continues

            • ssckelley

              Tell me what is wrong with fans that do the “headbobbing”? As a Cubs fan I buy into that plan with the hopes that it works, for me I have no other choice. It is either that or I sit and bitch about it every day on a blog. Like I said if I felt the same way about the ownership and the front office as you do I would find another team to root for or I would be done with major league baseball.

              I have not been 100% happy with the FO moves either (see below, I still bitch about Abreu) but I will be done bitching about it soon (probably not until after the Sox series) as I realize nothing I say or do will change the past.

              I like the way this FO is building the organization with young players that have a ton of promise. The last time the Cubs took this approach they came within a game of the World Series and I think they are closer to being a decent team than what some people think. I felt all off season the Cubs were a right handed slugger away from being a decent team this year, and I was pretty vocal on here about it. It kinda makes me sick that the FO did not put more effort into this season as I don’t think even they realized how good this pitching staff and bullpen would be (minus Veras of course).

              • DarthHater

                “Don’t tell me what is wrong with fans that do the ‘headbobbing'”

                FTFY

  • cmuir

    Everyone is declaring Abreu the next great thing, and he is going to be compared to Rizzo for the next 6 years naturally. The funny thing is, according to baseball reference, Rizzo has been the more valuable player overall, posting a 1.0 WAR vs a 0.8 and according to fangraphs, they are equal both at 1.0. Rizzo is also three years younger, signed longer and for cheaper. I think we need to be patient here on Abreu. The league hasn’t had time to adjust, and he hasn’t had time to make adjustments to those adjustments. Questions still remain: Does he have a glaring weakness? Can pitchers exploit it? Will he be able to adjust? As we look at history, we could look at Chris Davis. Who is now injured (and who knows how much that factored into the slow start), but he has been terrible this year after crushing the ball last year. He was brought up and hit 17 homers in 80 games for Texas and was declared the next big thing. Then he was terrible…Then he made adjustments…Questions still remain, but I am very content with Rizzo at first base.

    • candyland07

      Except, this is Abreu first month and he has done well. I think he has surpassed in A month what Rizzo has actually shown in any half season . But yes it will be interesting to see how the league adjusts to Abreu and how Abreu adjusts back. With Rizzo everyone already knows that he slumped badly last year and the early part of this year was not so great. Rizzo has rebounded and hopefully he continue to be a better player .

      At this moment in time Abreu is the better player until he starts to fail, Rizzo in three years of professional baseball level has given baseball fans a poor half season with the Padres, a good half season with the Cubs followed by a poor season last year. This Rizzo is doing good overall- Abreu has just played 1 month and already the debate begins – Just having a debut shows Abreu has already won respect from baseball fans .

      • Patrick W.

        “I think he has surpassed in A month what Rizzo has actually shown in any half season.”

        Thinking’s not your strong suit, is it?

        • candyland07

          What a insightful candid reply, Abreu has just given one of the best months of rookie production in MLB, and you want to compare that to Rizzo – who is just recently overcoming his horrid batting – ( his walk ratio is great Wink wink- That is where the debate ends in this point and time)

          • Patrick W.

            If that’s where the debate ends for you, then my reply is insightful.

            Tommy below has laid out the exact numbers that show Rizzo, RIGHT NOW is as good as (at minimum) Abreu RIGHT NOW. No, first month vs. half a season nonsense, right now in the first month. Is the argument that Anthony Rizzo in the first month of this year is a different Anthony Rizzo who has half seasons’ worth of stats to look at? I don’t understand at all what your argument is. It’s cuckoo.

    • ssckelley

      Moar Rizzo vs Abreu!

      I don’t understand why people keep making this an Abreu vs Rizzo, it is not about that at all. The Cubs could have went after one of the top free agent hitters on the market, someone who ended up signing for a reasonable contract. They did not even get in the game for him. Why? Because evidently people think they would have had no place to play him. Most of us that wanted Abreu did not care where they played both Rizzo or Abreu, you would hope one could be developed into a left fielder. In the worse case scenario you get Abreu and neither can play left field so you trade Rizzo, and you should have been able to get some good value in return for a left handed, young, cost controlled, good glove first baseman.

      All the stats, and the number comparisons mean nothing. It would have been nice to have BOTH productions in the middle of the Cubs lineup. Heck if they would have had to trade Rizzo perhaps we would have gotten a good hitting outfielder to play in place of the many 4th/5th outfielders the Cubs have been starting.

      We keep beating a dead horse over this issue because it was never going to happen anyway. The FO decided that they did not want Abreu, so now the White Sox have him.

      • cmuir

        With this argument then why didn’t the Reds go after him? You could just put Votto in Left? Definitely an upgrade over Ludwick? Why would you trade Rizzo? He has been just as good, if not better than Abreu so far this year, is younger and has a better contract? It is 100% Rizzo vs. Abreu. The possibility of both was not an option. Abreu is a 1B/DH and Rizzo is a 1B. Not an OF/1B. Defense is a part of the game (an important one) and just sticking Rizzo in a new position would be completely counter productive to his growth and development as a player. Regardless of all of that, Abreu is at first for the Sox and Rizzo is at first for the Cubs for at least the next 6 years these guys will be compared. You cannot change the past, but you can be positive about the future. I would take Rizzo over Abreu (as of right now).

        • ssckelley

          “With this argument then why didn’t the Reds go after him?”

          I don’t know and I don’t care, none of the NL teams went after Abreu. I guess the Cubs FO should just follow the lead, I would hate for them to be the trend setters or anything.

          Reminds me of the Moneyball quote something along the lines of “if we keep thinking like the Yankees in here we will lose to the Yankees out there”.

          • cmuir

            You don’t care? You don’t care that no NL team went after Abreu? That doesn’t seem important to you? I believe they couldn’t think like the Yankees, because they didn’t have the money like the Yankees. Seems the Cubs are in that kind of predictament as well. And Abreu cost money. A lot of it. Not a lot maybe compared to some other contracts. But a lot for an unknown Cuban player who can’t play defense and has to adjust to American baseball as well as American life (not going so well for Puig). The Cubs go to the scrap heap (like the A’s) and find some duds and some studs. Feldman, Hammel, Wood (not really scrap heap but still Marshall wasn’t much to give up), Bonifacio, Valbuena, and on and on.

            • Kyle

              On what are we basing that “no NL team went after” Abreu?

              • mjhurdle

                I know that Olney and Gammons had the Rangers, Red Sox, Astros, and White Sox as thw final bidders (Olney had the Astros as the most likely landing spot). The Rangers backed down, and then the Red Sox.
                Earlier on, he was tied to the Rockies, Pirates and Marlins. But that was when basically every team was in on him. the reports of their involvement dwindled rather quickly.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  It was the years according to the Rox and Pirates GMs. This has become a really strong pattern: the “DH years” seem to be a huge factor in a lot of recent FA signings.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                The Pirates and Rox were initially in on Abreu. However, they dropped out after the bidding went to too many years. For some reason, we were told that Abreu was going to choose between the ChiSox, Sox and Astros: that might be how the “AL only” idea started.

                There was a bit of tooth-gnashing by Pirates fans, as they had thought that Abreu would be in their price-range and 1B was such a need for their team. Rox fans were looking at Abreu as Helton’s replacement, too. However, both FOs said that they didn’t think Abreu would be able to play 1st for as many years as the bidding went.

  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    “I think he has surpassed in A month what Rizzo has actually shown in any half season”

    2014 Anthony Rizzo WAR: 1.0
    2014 Jose Abreu WAR: 1.0

    2014 Rizzo OPS: .930
    2014 Abreu OPS: .936

    2014 Rizzo wOBA: .406
    2014 Abreu wOBA: .393

    2014 Rizzo wRC+: 156
    2014 Abreu wRC+: 146

    2014 Rizzo OPS+: 153
    2014 Abreu OPS+: 149

    Foot, meet mouth

    • bbmoney

      You forgot about RBIs though. What about RBIs?!?!? Rizzo doesn’t have the same ability to get guys on base in front of him that Abreu has shown. The RBIs.

    • candyland07

      Rizzo half season is not over ,He may slump as he usually does. I hope Rizzo can continue to do the stuff that you believe him to do. Abreu is just the better player at this moment in time, and time will tell you wins this argument, Can Rizzo sustain his success and can Abreu sustain his success.

      If Abreu continues to play the way he has this will not be debate for much longer

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        I just showed you all of the stats saying that Rizzo is the better player (or they’re even) AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. You are trying to argue two different things, and you’re doing a poor job on both fronts.

      • cmuir

        Abreu’s “half-season” isn’t over yet either. I am just saying people need to tap the brakes a little before declaring him a ‘stud.’ Again I think Chris Davis is a great comparison. Huge debut, and then was declared a bust and was traded for Koji Uehara (who is dominating right now but seriously? A slugger like Davis for a relief pitcher). Then Davis adjusted again. Will Abreu be able to adjust when pitchers change the way they pitch him? We will see. But let’s slow down a little on how great he is and is going to be.

        • Rebuilding

          Yes, like every other player he’ll have to show he can adjust. I’ll just point out that he is already being pitched like a veteran slugger – he’s seeing the 3rd lowest percentage of strikes to pitches in the league (behind Trout and someone else). His weakness so far has been breaking balls out of the zone (no surprise there) while crushing everything close to the plate. The usual pitcher adjustment for a slugger is to throw them breaking balls in the dirt, but that’s already been done with Abreu. If he’s the one to adjust next and lay off that stuff then look out

          • DocPeterWimsey

            You do realize that Ike isn’t president anymore, don’t you?

            • Diehardthefirst

              Last decent Republican President

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            Ok…we get it. You have a man crush on abreu. And on Clay Davenport.

            Maybe if post the same stuff again tomorrow and every other day for the next month that’ll change Abreus sample size.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        So rizzo is going to slump but abreu just needs to show he can keep this up?

    • Coop

      Don’t forget the difference in defense, too. Rizzo plays GG-caliber defense; I suspect that will never be the case for Abreu.

  • Diehardthefirst

    If Cubs got Tanaka would Cubs be in first place? If Tanaka then Other moves to try to win weak division? Woulda coulda

  • CubFanBob

    WTF ? from mlb traderumors chat today

    Comment From Mike
    With the Crosstown series in Chicago, there is a lot of debate on Abreau vs. Rizzo. Most of the beat writers are taking Abreau. I, on the other hand, feel like Rizzo has been just as good as Abreau so far this year (looking at advanced metrics and defense), is younger,and cheaper. Am I crazy?

    2:11
    Steve Adams: I can’t side with you on that one. Abreu’s torn the cover off the ball in his first month and will likely continue to improve. Rizzo may be younger, but he’s long struggled against lefties, and it’s a mistake to put much stock in a month’s worth of defensive metrics — especially at first base.

    • Karl Groucho

      This inspired me to look into Rizzo v. L this year… .400 BABIP, with a BB/K rate nearly half that against R, and a 42% HR/FB rate. Regressing him against L back to earth, he’s .261/.355/~.450.

      The good news: that’s still alright for the weak side of his splits! And his BABIP v. R is actually down a bit, so his “true” stats — ignoring splits and luck — might not be that much lower than where they are now.

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs. Neither MLB nor the Chicago Cubs have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover the Chicago Cubs.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Google+