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Member Since 08 Jun 2012
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 10:51 AM

Topics I've Started

Trading for "Blocked" Prospects

03 April 2014 - 10:17 AM

I have a feeling that by the time this 2014 draft comes, and any sell-off that might take place, Chicago is going to have a lot of spare parts that could be moved. I found list of "blocked" prospects and think it's worth discussing. Also of note Chicago has some IFA Pool money that could be traded as well. 


J.R. Murphy C -NY Yankees 


Currently blocked by McCann, Sanchez, Cervelli and Romine to an extent. He's athletic and only 22, he does bat right handed so not a real platoon option with Castillo but it would be a depth in a spot where we need it. "He produced a .773 OPS in 108 games split between Double-A and Triple-A, and later made his MLB debut"-Hulet 


I see this as a fit because the Yankees need youth and the Cubs have a lot. Maybe we can move Bonifacio, or a reliever and some IFA pool money? 



Devon Travis 2B(OF maybe) - Detroit Tigers


 The Tigers have moved prospects for ML guys before. If anyone of Schierholtz, Kalish, Ruggiano get hot for an extended amount of time then possibly they could be interested. They lost Andy Dirks and are relying on ageless Torii Hunter and this kid is blocked by Kinsler. Could see them needing relief as well so we match up a bit. Travis is a college guy that can put up double digit home runs, steals and walk percentage with a low K percentage. He's interesting and if the cost is a 4th OFer then I don't see why not. 



Jacob DeGrom SP Mets


 Former TJ Recovery and 25 I think. Sits 91-94 can touch 96 and just started throwing a curveball as his main off speed pitch. He's not a real game changer but the FO seems to like guys with good fastballs and maybe a different coaching staff can coax a little more out of this guy. He's at AAA and the cost wouldn't be too outrageous. Maybe the Mets take Barney, a reliever, or some pool money. 



I think the situation could also reverse itself where we are in the position to trade our blocked guys. 

We could move: Hendricks, Jokisch, Beeler, Parker, Ramirez, Rosscup, Vitters, Sczcur, etc. IF the team is performing at a high enough level if not then I see us moving....


Hammel, Schierholtz, Veras, Barney, Bonifacio, Ruggiano, Kalish, Wright/ Russell 

Redefining "Ceiling"

19 December 2013 - 02:30 PM

Former Baseball America contributor Conor Glassey came out with a post last night about productive major league players that weren't recognized as being a top prospect. Such names like Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Mike Sweeney, Tim Hudson, etc were never ranked in the top 100 of Baseball America. A lot of Cubs make the list of current minor leaguers that he sees having similar careers. What I found interesting is in the current era of so many scouting reports, opinions and statistics available online it leads to many fans making predictions, projections and throwing out words like ceiling and upside but are we overlooking what actually makes a major leaguer successful?


For example here are what scouts were saying about James Shields around 2005-2006.

  • John Sickels ranked him 9th below Wade Navis, Jason Hammel, Niemann, and two other pitchers that did very little.
  • raysprospects(dot)com ranked him 12..."12. RHP Jamie Shields - Though not overpowering for a righthander, Shields showed he has the overall package to be a solid fourth starter in the big leagues."
  • joeposnanski(dot)COM/joeblogs/prospects-2006/ This guy has a breakdown of every team regarding top prospect and best actual prospect. He is correct on..just about every team, very impressive. Here's what he said about the Rays. "

    No. 1 prospect: Delmon Young (No. 1 overall).

    Best actual prospect: No. 12 Jamie Shields (as James Shields was known then)."

  • Earliest article regarding Shields from baseballprospectus in 2006 was his callup replacing Casey Fossum. "he's coming off of an outstanding first two months in Durham: ten starts, 61.1 IP, 64 Ks, 60 hits, six walks, and three home runs. You don't want to use a word like junkballer to talk about a 24-year-old, but he throws two breaking pitches for strikes, a good change, while also fooling some of the people some of the time with a fastball that can nose over 90."


Using Fangraphs Shields has put up 28 WAR since 2006. Ranking him 14th next to Matt Cain, Adam Wainwright, and Tim Lincecum. That's averaging 4 WAR per season and projected to hit 4 again next season. Is that the upside of a "4th starter"? That is currently anchoring the Royals rotation? So no he's not a classic ace but he has been ace like (Dont call him Big Game James for nothing) and if anything he's a number 2.


So why am I talking so much about James Shields? Here are a couple more scouting reports and guess who they are referring to.


Fangraphs - "The hurler’s numbers immediately jump out: 1.85 ERA, 107 hits allowed in 126.1 innings (7.72 H/9) and just 26 walks (1.85 BB/9). The catch with Hendricks, though, is that he has a fringe-average fastball in the 87-91 mph range. He’s dominated hitters in the minors due to above-average control and command of his four-pitch repertoire" -Marc Hulet


"...his below-average fastball sits at 86-90 mph with a bit of life, and his arsenal is no more than average across the board. He succeeds by throwing strikes and changing speeds, and it will be a challenge for him to find the same success at the upper levels while lacking an out pitch." —Kevin Goldstein



If you guessed this was Cubs prospect Kyle Hendricks then you are correct. Am I comparing Hendricks to James Shields? Yes that should be obvious too. They were both projected to have an upside of a "4th starter" with the focus primarily on their lack of velocity. Both can sit around 89 touching 91-92. Excellent control with 4 pitches. Now if a 4th starter can average 4 War per season for 8 years then by all means I'll take all the 4th starters available.


Just something to keep in mind when evaluating prospects with a lack of "stuff" with good control, old age for a league, lower draft status are concepts to keep in consideration but not to overlooked.


Similar Cubs players that can fit this trend. Stephen Bruno, John Andreoli, Arismendy Alcantara to an extent (Parks recently remarked as being a better major leaguer than prospect). Travis Wood and Welington Castillo I think are guys that the Cubs currently have that definitely fit this trend.

Will there be enough innings to go around?

17 December 2013 - 12:12 PM

Don't look now but Chicago is starting to have a bit of a log jam of starting pitching. Especially if the Cubs add another starter at the major league level (Tanaka! or someone...) There may not be enough innings to go around from Iowa down to Kane County.


A rough early depth chart of the usual 5 man rotation should look like this....


Chicago Cubs - Samardijza, Wood, Jackson, Arretia, Rusin (I'll slot him here for now).


Iowa Cubs - Kyle Hendricks, Liam Hendriks, Neil Ramirez, Dallas Beeler, (A battle between Loux, Jokisch, Rhee, Struck, Negrin, Kirk?)


Tennesse Smokies - Pierce Johnson, CJ Edwards, Ben Wells, Pineryo, Black, Peralta, Loosen, (Fallouts from above)


Daytona...Tons of guys

Kane County....tons of guys.


This doesn't mention guys that will probably make the bullpen but can definitely start. Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm and Brooks Raley. Throw in Arodys Vizcaino maybe gets some starts eventually. If Wada is signed he could start. It's looking like 7-8 starting options at each level especially if Rusin is kicked down.


How do you see the Cubs handling the innings? Do they simply cut a few guys to make room? The amount of relievers are piling up as well. Will they incorporate a piggyback system which I believe is a must in the lower levels already. Injuries and ineffectiveness are going to happen but with the amount of pitching right now, I dont think it's simply going to work itself out without some semi drastic events. 6 man rotation, anyone?


Anyway struck me as semi interesting. No one should become complacent because they "have a spot", the guy not getting innings will definitely be gunning for more.

The Ruggiano fallout.

12 December 2013 - 02:27 PM

The Cubs are more or less looking very set. Let's talk about who wins the 5th OF spot! 


Glancing at AZ Phil's Cubs depth chart there is a plethora of in house candidates. Ranging in different skillsets, draft position and prospect rankings. Some of my favorites are...


Jae-Hoon Ha: I have an unhealthly love affair for Hoon Ha. His AA (career) slash was .277/.347/.388 with a 17% SO rate and 8% BB rate. SO trending down and BB trending up. Mix in scouting reports as the Cub's best OF defender.  He was considered a bit of a tweener getting through the system but  he can definitely handle CF. I like this guy, I think he's in Denard Span/Craig Gentry territory. He did not have a great go around at Iowa but considering he spent parts of 3 seasons in AA an adjustment period is in consideration. I'm 30 minutes from Des Moines so I've seen him play and defensively he's great, base paths he hustles and does the little things. His BABIP at Iowa was .276 while in AA he was getting .331-.361. If he can show OBP skills at Iowa while everything else stays constant I see him being  the 4th OF for a long time. I think Gregor Blanco is a very fair comparison upside wise. Cherry on top was him taking Cole deep in the futures game, that was awesome.


Josh Vitters: Talk about going through the system on a snail's pace. Injuries derailed what could have been a solid year for Josh. In 2012 at Iowa he put up a very good line that was been discussed. .305/.356/.513, his 2012 line was even better albeit in far less plate appearances. Right now he is who I think wins the 5th OF spot to platoon with Schierholtz and spell Rizzo if needed. He's a bit stone handy but I've seen him make good plays at 3rd...in the OF I've only seen him make the plays he should make. He also hit the biggest home run I've ever seen (Cleared the OF Box seats left field @Iowa). You can find the highlight at milb.com somewhere. He put up slugger numbers with a 17% strikeout rate. His upside is ridiculous, there's a reason why was drafted 3rd overall. His realistic upside is still up for debate. I think the Cubs will give him every reason to succeed because if he does then we're talking potential legit starting left fielder. He's not a big on base guy but given he doesn't strike out either...you would kill if him and Brett Jackson could combine skill sets.


These two are my favorites hands down. They have spent the most time at AAA and thus have a leg up on guys like Matt Szczur and John Andreoli.


Outside shot of making the team...


Well it is Szczur and Andreoli - These are two New England players with similar skill sets. They both have serious speed and on base skills. Thus far Andreoli is a year or so younger and has had better production. Where it comes to ceiling I have no idea. These guys I think can jump Ha given the opportunity because speed is such a cherished tool that can be utlized in the 5th OF spot very well. Szczur has had a lower strikeout rate so maybe that correlates better for the major leagues, this upcoming season will tell a lot more about these guys. Also I want to note that although limited power (Szczur is said to have more) they both can put up .ISO around 100 or better so its not Campana/Revere bad. Or Jason Tyner for those that remember him.


Guys that interest me...in a strickly platonic baseball way


Rubi Silva - Turns 25 in June, slugged almost .500 in AA last year. He didn't walk off Cuba so the on base is lacking but pretty toolsy.


BJax - Please stop striking out. Still one of my favorite (failing) prospects. If he can curb his kryptonite a little bit, just a little bit.


Casper Wells - Meh, I'd rather see the movie Casper than watch the Cubs if he's playing.


Zeke DeVoss - I know he was drafted by Hendry but little you may know he was also a Red Sox draftee back in 2009 (Theo). He marked the first time I think I've seen the Cubs take a player based on OBP/Speed skills and brought some philosophical change to the organization. I remember message boards being excited to get this guy because of the BB skills. His OBP will probably always be higher than his SLG but thats alright because its been nearly .400 for his career. He's made a sportscenter top play. I hope he gets fast tracked a little bit considering he will be 23 in AA for the first time next season.


So I conclude this verbose message board post now. It's boring times studying for finals lol. Point being soon as in next year we won't need to be waiting for the Cubs to sign OF bench guys because plenty are on the way.



Something Possibly Being Overlooked

09 December 2013 - 06:58 PM

I'm going to post some lines and see if this makes sense to anyone else. FIP/xFIP/SIERA Numbers are from fangraphs and the stats can be explained here.

Quick and dirty. FIP is takes out what the pitcher does not control, xFIP factors in if the pitcher has an average homerun/Fly Ball rate and SIERA is more or less a true ERA.



  • 3.77 /3.45 /3.60
  • 3.86 /3.97 /3.96
  • 3.79 /3.86 /4.04
  • 3.89 /4.50 /4.50


These are the four Cubs players from last season that pitched 100+ innings. What I'm having trouble with is why there is so much chatter about moving one starter and zero about moving a different starter.


The names in order are as so...


Jeff Samardzija

Carlos Villanueva

Edwin Jackson

Travis Wood


Now I know baseball isn't played in a vaccuum but Wood had luck to reach his baseball card stats. I'll try not to turn this into a fangraphs breakdown because the point isn't just about performance. He had a 33% ground ball rate so with an average homerun/flyball rate his ERA would've shot well up in the mid 4.00s. Instead of the 3.12ish it ended up at. Wrigley Field isn't the best for fly ball pitchers especially when the wind is blowing out.


With 3 years left of control an extension seems risky so why not test the waters on him? I'd rather keep Samardijza and trade Wood unless the percieved market values are so drastic that the return from Wood would be minor.


Then again if he were a free agent today (assume he is few years older) What kind of contract would he be looking at? Comparing to today's market...the Garza/Santana tier or more of the Feldman/Kazmir tier?


Comparable extension I found was back in 2009 with Paul Maholm. 3 years of service time with total of 4.1 WAR the Pirates bought out his 3 remaining arb years for 14.5 million. Wood has 4.5 WAR past 3 seasons and 6.8 in Career. So if he is extended and it goes more than 3 years it would be a minor precedent for SP of his caliber.


In the end I like Travis Wood, but this just seems interesting. If he repeats and has another good season, I  definitely see a possible trade. I'd much like to see some actual baseball too! Come on March.

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