Ask Away: Draft Strategy, Prospect Trades, Bleacher Nation Getting Meta, and More

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Ask Away: Draft Strategy, Prospect Trades, Bleacher Nation Getting Meta, and More

Chicago Cubs

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Ask Away número tres. As always, I’d like to thank everyone who has sent in a question, and encourage you to keep them coming! I take questions of all kinds, so give me what you got.

If you recall, there are two ways to get questions submitted for next week’s Ask Away. First, you can think about one really hard, write it down on a piece of paper, stuff it in a bottle and release it in Lake Michigan. I usually have a hard time finding those, though, so you should try the second way: sending in an email to AskAway at BleacherNation dot com. Yeah, that might be better. Try that one.

Last week, we discussed outfield moves, gaps in Sabermetrics, my personal Rat Pack selections, and much more, so check that one out if you missed it.

Okay, intro over. Ask Away …

Given the price of young pitchers in trade and free agency, do you think the front office will switch their first round draft priority from position players to pitchers? Tom (ColoCubFan)

I can say, with relative certainty, that this front office will not switch their first round draft priority (or strategy) to cater to the needs of the Major League team, or to respond to the ebb and flow of the big league market. Unlike in most sports, as we know, MLB draftees have a much more difficult time quickly reaching the majors after being selected – even from the first round. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule (Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Carlos Rodon), but, for the most part, it takes such a long time that the needs of the team on draft day can be entirely different from the needs on a player’s debut.

However, that doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t take a pitcher in the first – or any – round of the draft. But the strategy has always been, and always will be, taking the best overall talent, regardless of position, age, experience, etc. That may result in multiple years of polished college bats, but that’s a byproduct of the strategy, not the strategy, itself.

In the 2013 draft, for example, the Cubs were believed to have starting pitcher Mark Appel ahead of Kris Bryant on their board. But then – after fate decided to shine brightly on Chicago – the Astros selected Mark Appel and the Cubs went with Kris Bryant (over another starting pitcher, Jon Gray). Sometimes, taking the best talent over the organizational need works out, eh?

Thinking of guys like Javier Baez or Chris Coghlan – might some hard feelings develop over lack of playing time in 2016?  Matthew – Clive, Iowa.

This isn’t a bad question, because, intuitively, it feels possible; however, I am extremely confident this will not manifest in 2016, and I’ll tell you why. First and most importantly, let’s talk about Joe Maddon. Pretty much any manager worth his salt should be able to keep players relatively happy while also keeping expectations in check. But Joe Maddon isn’t any manager. He is notoriously good at keeping clubhouse spirits up, is extremely open with his expectations, regularly plays the hot hand and is one of the most well respected managers in the game. Look back to 2015, for example, at the benching/role change of Starlin Castro. Maddon benched the longest tenured Cub – a 25-year-old, near 1000 hit, 3-time all-star shortstop in one of the most publicized Cubs seasons in recent memory and there was not one.single.peep. Managing the clubhouse is his forte.

Even so, let’s pretend Maddon forgets to do this part of his job. What then, happens to Chris Coghlan and Javier Baez? Consider the context. In Javier Baez you have an extremely talented, hardworking individual that went through, possibly, the most up-and-down year in 2015 after a sobering 2014 journey at the Major League level. Having spent such little time at the Major League level last season, playing time isn’t going to be the first concern for Baez – securing a permanent spot on the team will be.

In Chris Coghlan, you have a corner outfielder that had two solid years in a row, after a four years spent shuttling between the minors, the DL, and MLB. His role may be reduced in 2016, but there’s no doubt he’ll get his playing time. Apart from spelling Kyle Schwarber in left when he catches, and Jorge Soler in right against tough righties, Coghlan will be worked in the games as the first bat off the bench and possibly as a defensive replacement late in games.

What is the possibility/desirability of moving one or more of the Cubs top positional prospects for a top starting pitcher prospect? Jonathan (Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache)

Straight prospect for prospects swaps almost never happen. There are a lot of logistical reasons, aside from the high amount of risk associated with such deals, and they’re just not all that common. Moreover, you have to consider where the Cubs are at in their competitive spectrum. If they are going to deal from their prospect depth, right now, it’s going to be for pieces that can help at the Major League level. Also, teams almost never deal upper-minor pitching prospects, and lower minor pitching prospects are insanely unpredictable. After all, TINSTAAPP.

In lieu of the straight up fun stuff, let’s get Meta for the personal questions, this week …

Are there any plans to change or improve the appearance of the site Stephen King (Ooh Spooky)

We are working on a long term strategy for improving the aesthetics of the site. Whether that materializes as an app, an update to the site, itself, or something completely different, has yet to be determined. We are, of course, extremely invested/agree with the notion of constantly improving the site, but we want to avoid changing the actual Bleacher Nation experience as much as possible – a tricky balance. There are several smaller changes we make daily, hopefully without you noticing, to improve the site. But going beyond that, right now, would create an unstable, unfamiliar environment every time you checked in. Rest assured, this is something on our minds. Stay tuned, because I suspect we will have updates for you throughout the year.

How different is the BN workload/work schedule in the offseason Matt – Richmond, VA

This is a question I get asked quite frequently, having just come aboard full-time. While most expect the offseason to be the quiet time, easy time, nothing could be further from the truth. Aside from July, for obvious reasons (trade deadline), December is one of the busiest months here at Bleacher Nation. Sure, we all love the actual games, but there’s something devilishly addictive about the Winter Meetings, Lukewarm Stoves, rumor mongering and free agency. So, then, November, December and January are very big on that sort of stuff.

Typically, February might be considered a slower part of the year, but in 2016, the huge free agent class extended the “super busy” time all the way up to, well, now – when pitchers and catchers are beginning to report for Spring Training.

Is there a way to add a forum on the site for the BN community to communicate/plan on getting together for the games/season? Elliot

This is another question that gets asked quite frequently around these parts. Heck, I asked this question all the time, before coming aboard the Bleacher Nation team. If it were up to me, I’d do it in a heartbeat, but it’s that damn Owner/Lead Editor guy that’s always getting in the way. Here’s what he has to say on the matter:

We had a message board for a few years a while ago, and it was lovely for what it was. The problems with message boards, though, are myriad (which is why very few sites still have them anymore), including constant security issues, constant moderation issues, constant server issues, and constant liability issues. Unfortunately, it’s just not something we can have right now. Hopefully, Michael quotes me on this so that you can direct your hate and disappointment at me and not him.

Geez … a simple “No” would have sufficed. But in all seriousness, it is an unfortunate but very real truth and I’d like to thank Brett for laying itout so succinctly.

For now, and for the purposes of meeting up before/during/after games, you can use the “Series Preview” and/or “Pre-Gamin'” posts that are used to set the stage and discuss the Cubs game on tap. If you need an example of what these look like – and are feeling particularly masochistic – check out the final one of the season: NLCS Pre-Gamin’: Mets v. Cubs.

Don’t forget to send in your questions to AskAway at BleacherNation dot com. See you next week!

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami