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wrigley scoreboard featureThere’s going to be a whole lot to discuss today, so, if you don’t see something here in the Bullets that you expected to be discussed today, sit tight. It’s coming. Also, if you didn’t catch anything from this weekend, there was a lot there, too. Here’s your catch-up.

  • It has been said recently – and not-so-recently, too – that any organization picking in the top 10 in the draft for five straight years can build a strong farm system. Whether that’s true or not (and whether the Cubs, with an historically good farm system, have done something above and beyond that), that’s not really what we want to know. We want to know how likely this kind of stretch is to lead to actual winning at the big league level. Baseball America looked at this situation, where a team picks in the top 10 for five straight years (as the Cubs will have by this time next year), and, based on the 10 times it’s happened in the draft era, the team in question pretty much always winds up with a winning record in the five years after the five down years. I’d argue that the Cubs are in an even better position that just about any of the other teams studied, thanks to the elite system, the impending available resources, and the heady front office.
  • On average, teams improved from a winning percentage of .408 in their 5th year of losing (the Cubs are at exactly .408 right now, coincidentally) to .443 in their 6th year, and then over .500 for the next six years. Is that the path we see the Cubs taking? I’d like to see the Cubs closer to .500 next year, but that depends on a number of offseason decisions that have yet to be made an executed. In any case, it’s modestly reassuring to know that even the “average” team in the Cubs’ situation is on the doorstep of a long-term period of competitiveness. No, being over .500 doesn’t assure you a playoff appearance – much less a championship – but it does tend to put you in competition for the playoffs until late in the season. Right now, I’d take that, man.
  • *(h/t to BN’er Hansman for introducing the discussion of the BA piece)
  • The broader, more philosophical question, of course, is whether the losing will ultimately be “worth it,” in terms of our fandom/hearts/time/money/whatever. For me – for now – because I view the losing as a byproduct of The Plan, rather than the goal, in and of itself, I tend to bypass the “worth it” question. I agree with what the Cubs have done, and how they’ve done it (given the new CBA environment and the financial realities of the organization), and I’m smart enough to know that, when you do things like that, you’re going to lose a hell of a lot of games (which will, in turn, do some nice long-term things for your organization). So I struggle to answer the question, because there wasn’t a value judgment for me – it wasn’t, “Should we try to lose so that we can win?,” it was simply, “This is the right way to build for the long-term, and winning right now is probably not going to happen, so … losing is very likely.” Hopefully the Cubs are a competitive team – not necessarily playoffs each year, but competitive – for the next 10 to 15 years, and the answer will be obvious.
  • The Cubs.com wrap on yesterday’s loss has lots of quotes from and about Kyle Hendricks’ third start, which was an unqualified success. As I said in the EBS yesterday, you wait until the league gets a second look at Hendricks before you divine too much about his future, but so far, this is pretty much everything you could have hoped to have seen: tons of groundballs, very few walks, virtually no mental mistakes, commanding his three primary pitches (sinker, cutter, changeup), working in three other pitches occasionally (four-seamer, slider, curveball), and keeping everything down. That’s the recipe for a guy like Hendricks to have success in the big leagues, despite a lack of top tier velocity.
  • It sounds like C.J. Edwards could start again today for the AZL Cubs, and he’s hopeful that it’ll be his last rehab start before returning to the Tennessee Smokies.
  • If you missed any of Greg Maddux’s Hall of Fame induction speech yesterday, you can read the transcript here. He joked, in a good-natured way, about heading to Atlanta to win a World Series (and apologized to Chicago for the same), and offered a lot of praise for Chicago and his time with the Cubs.
  • I wish I could look at Maddux’s Hall of Fame plaque and just enjoy the awesome fact of it, but, no, the solecism jumps out at me like an angry puma:

  • A little behind the curtain from Len Kasper on his preparation for Cubs broadcasts.
  • The latest Houston Astros flap – seriously, you thought this negative attention/PR stuff happened only to the Cubs – has the organization promoting 2013 top pick Mark Appel to AA despite some struggles at the lower levels of the minors, and coming to Houston to throw a bullpen session for the big league coaches. This bothered a number of big league Astros for some reason (promoting Appel is about his development, not about an unearned reward; and pitching at Minute Maid Park was presumably so the big league coaching staff could watch and diagnose any issues, again, not an unearned reward). The Astros seem to be in one of those spirals – we know how these things work – where everything that happens is going to be regarded extra closely, and without much benefit of the doubt, because of the buildup of negative press and the years of losing. I guess you could say I have a soft spot for them in that regard.

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