Its been a tough year, so positives are tough to really talk about on the major league club. To please to topic, I'll start with the small things.
Nate Scheirholtz. Gotta be honest, thought this guy was a bottom feeding, lifetime bench player at best. I'll call him a nice surprise.
Kevin Gregg's hot streak. Now he looks shitty, but his 15+ great appearances is something to see in a positive light on a likely 95-100 loss team.
Junior Lake's little run. Cooled off then picked up again the other day.
Sadly that's about it. I thought about Travis Wood, but he's been so average lately. Overall starting pitching? I guess that can be a positive.
Otherwise, I agree with Salami regarding the current direction of the team. I have absolutely ZERO problem with restocking the farm system and building a nice little core there. I have a gigantic problem with the 3rd highest revenue generating team intentionally tanking seasons for the sake of putting all the eggs in the farm system basket--and the McDonalds and Hotel-to-be.
I get a lot of fans are excited about the farm players like Baez, Bryant, Soler, Pierce, Almora, CJ Edwards, Vogelbomb, etc.; I am for the ones who make it and stick around. But we all gotta remember some things here. Not every prospect makes it, in fact we should consider ourselves lucky if 2-3 of these guys make it. Hello--Kansas City Royals with Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakis, Luke Hoechevar, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, and right now, looks like SS prospect Christian Colon is about to join them. Need more examples? I'll be happy to show it.
What would I have done? Well--there's no guarantee it'd be a playoff team, but I would never have traded Cashner for Rizzo, signed Prince Fielder, CJ Wilson, and Nick Swisher for starters.
Its easy to play revisionist historian here, but I sincerely dont give a shit if the Daytona Cubs win the championship, because that banner wont fly in Wrigley. I want to see the team now win.
I understand the building process, I just dont like it because I know the team will lose and understand that prospects are essentially lottery tickets. When you win, you win big. But you're going to lose a lot more than you win with prospects. My highest hopes are for Baez, Bryant, Pierce Johnson and CJ Edwards......but even then I'm half-empty until I see them in the bigs.
It's just as easy to cite prospects who've made as those who haven't. There are some rose-colored glasses folks who think that Almora, Baez, Rizzo, Lake, Bryant, Soler etc will all be All-Stars during the 2015 World Series run, but I think they are the exception not the rule.
There is real value in the farm system at the moment, whether it ends up busting, developing or being traded for value remains to be seen.
At this point I think Cashner for Rizzo is pretty uninspiring on both sides. Cashner has a lot of velocity, but putting up a near 4.00 ERA while pitching mostly at Petco Park in close to 200 innings is nothing exciting, he's performed a bit below average. Rizzo is really slumping and there is plenty of reason to be concerned about his hitting, click here for a piece that is particularly depressing about his hitting. I'd say both have shown flashes, neither have wowed. I'd give a slight edge to Cashner at this point.
I think Travis Wood has been a nice positive, but not in a "there's a cornerstone of the rotation" sort of way, but rather as a solid middle of the rotation guy. There is a good amount of organizational depth for starters too, and some credit is due to Epstein/Hoyer on that front in light of the fact that in the season before they took over Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez, and Ramon Ortiz had to be brought of a cryogenic storage to fill out the rotation.
I agree that signing Fielder would have been very nice, and having Cashner in the rotation instead of Rusin would bring a whole lot more confidence and upside than Rusin.
This offseason will tell us a lot about what this organization wants to do. The roster lacks bonafide impact players, and I'd like to see them acquire one or two.
I'm curious who Salami would like to see signed. Cano? Ellsbury? Choo? McCann? Abreu? Pence? Santana? Beltran? Garza?
I'm in favor of pursuing Pence, Abreu, McCann, Ellsbury and Choo. Obviously there would be no reason to sign them all, but each would upgrade the roster.
I'm sure folks will give the Abreu doesn't fit with Rizzo, and Ellsbury or Choo would block Almora/Soler, and why McCann when Castillo looks like a solid option. All of the "blocked" prospects and incompatible pieces are not proven impact players. If any of those guys can be had a reasonable price they should be signed. Having a surplus of talent with value is not a problem that I find particularly concerning.