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The State of the Cubs Farm Part 1......Why it Matters
Posted 29 January 2012 - 06:32 PM
However after following the Cubs for 36 of the 43 seasons for which I have been alive(I get slightly annoyed when people say, "I have been a fan all my life!"...Really? When you were 2?) my thoughts and ideas about prospects continue to evolve. I have come up with two divergent theories: A prospect hysteria has now gripped the MLB, (which will leave most fans disappointed )yet it may also be the most important time in baseball history to have a good farm system.
Using Baseball America( because one, it is highly respected and two, I own the last four years of the Prospect Handbook) I want to try and correlate the World Series champions to their system rankings, over a five year period before their title.
2011 WORLD CHAMPION ST. LOUIS CARDINALS( yes, that is tough to write) BA RANKINGS: 2011-24th, 2010-29th, 2009- 8th. 2008-16th, and 2007 23rd.
2010 SAN FRANSISCO GIANTS BA RANKINGS: 2010- 4th, 2009- 5th, 2008- 23rd, 2007-20th, 2006-18th
2009 NEW YORK YANKEES BA RANKINGS: 2009 15th, 2008 5th, 2007 7th, 2006 17th, 2005 24th
2008 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES- BA RANKINGS 2008-21ST, 2007 22nd, 2006- 20th, 2005-22nd, 2004 21st.
2007 BOSTON RED SOX-BA RANKINGS 2007-9TH, 2006 8TH. 2005 21st, 2004 23rd, 2003 27th
2010 and 2011 TEXAS RANGERS(back to back runner ups) 2011 14th, 2010 2nd, 2009-1st, 2008-4th
Simply put, only the 2008 Phillies did not have a previous season ranked in Baseball Americas' top ten in the 5 years prior to their championship. Most of them had two seasons. Recent history would then indicate that you don't necessarily have to have the best farm system to win, but you need to show that you have a good one.
Why else do farm systems matter more now? Free-Agency is not what it once was. Teams now lock guys up younger and longer. Leaving free-agency to consist mostly of expensive players over 30, or at least in their late 20's. Case in point this year, The Angels gambled heavily in the free agent market and arguably got the best hitter AND pitcher available. Yet the Angels will be lucky to make the play-offs because of past free-agent mistakes.
The 2012 season for the Cubs 8 minor league affiliates will be of equal importance to what the big club does. 2011 was as lost at the minor league levels as it was at the major league level.(especially after the injury to Robert Whitenack, who appeared to be a legit pitching prospect at one time.) In Part 2, I will assess each level...and (CLICHE WARNING) there is some good, some bad, and yes some ugly.
Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:08 PM
Yes, the team suffered from massive pitching injuries at the top levels of the system (Jackson, Whitenack, McNutt) and a general lack of success in Iowa, but other than that things went pretty well. 2011 wasn't a flashy year by any means, but I wouldn't say it was a lost year at all. It was the sort of methodical development season that will elevate the Cubs into a Top 10 farm system by the end of 2012 (and likely a Top 5 by the end of 2013).
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