I really need to find a good gingerbread cookie. I always have the hankering, but I figure now is the best time to make it happen. I’ll report back.
• It is often the case that the best farm systems don’t feature prospect-laden Triple-A squads, because the very best prospects sometimes don’t spend much, if any, time at Triple-A, and also are frequently being shuttled up and down to and from the big league club. But the best and deepest organizations always have guys you can recognize as clear big league contributors at Triple-A, and it has felt for a long time like the Cubs have really struggled on that front. Ever since the big wave of positional prospects came through in 2014-16, it just hasn’t seemed like the Iowa Cubs roster was more prospects than journeyman vets (who, by the way, also do serve an important purposes, so this isn’t a shot at them!).
• As we’ve discussed, the rotation is starting to approach an improved mix of prospects and veterans, and the lineup is getting a little more prospect-y, too:
Potential Iowa Cubs lineup, 2022
Greg Deichmann, LF
Brennen Davis, CF
Alfonso Rivas, 1B
Nelson Velazquez, RF
Jared Young, DH
Christopher Morel, 3B
Ildemaro Vargas, 2B
PJ Higgins, C
Dixon Machado, SS
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) December 19, 2021
• You could even include guys like Chase Strumpf and Andy Weber and Nelson Maldonado in the mix there at various spots, and you’d have a Triple-A group that was a vast majority of prospects who project as possible big league contributors. You don’t need me to say again that the concentration of top Cubs prospects remains at the lowest levels of the system – and you could argue that only Davis and Velazquez have a real chance at being everyday big leaguers – but I can still see some fun there at Iowa.
• It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where you’ve got all those positional guys going, plus Caleb Kilian, Brailyn Marquez, Ryan Jensen, and Jordan Wicks all going in the rotation, too. Probably won’t all line up like that, but hey, if it did – that’s a pretty prospect-loaded Triple-A roster! (Here’s where I kick rocks thinking about Miguel Amaya being the starting catcher there if he hadn’t gotten hurt.)
• An interesting stray element in Clint Frazier’s decision to choose the Cubs over other possible small guaranteed deals? His fiancee, Kaylee Gambadoro, who went to college in Chicago, is best friends with Nick Madrigal’s girlfriend. How’s that for a unique recruiting angle, given that Madrigal hasn’t yet even played an inning for the Cubs? Frazier also pointed out the Carter Hawkins connection – his former farm director with the Cleveland Indians is now the GM with the Cubs – and the obvious considerations: “[Hawkins] gave me a pat on the back and he was like, ‘You need a pat on the back, dude.’ So, you factor in those along with the potential of me getting more chances to go out there and play, the fanbase, the stadium, it’s like, ‘I’m going to Chicago.’” A good mix of reasons.
• Marcus Stroman, in addition to everything else, is a helluvan athlete. That matters not only in how he fields his position, but also for aging/repeating mechanics/staying healthy/etc. purposes:
• If Stroman had to play shortstop for a game, I wonder how he’d look. Could he pass for “below average”? I kinda think maybe he could.
• At FanGraphs, Ben Clemens writes about the five “most extreme” home runs of the year – as in, the homers that were hit on pitches the furthest away from the strike zone. Three of the five came above the strike zone (Kyle Schwarber hit one that was like a foot above the zone), one was Giancarlo Stanton doing his thing with a pitch down and in, and the most extreme was one that Eddie Rosario took nearly off of his shoes to send out to right. I don’t know how you barrel this and keep it fair:
• A good primer here at Beyond the Box Score on spin efficiency (aka active spin) if you were wanting to understand the concept a little better – it’s how sometimes a 2200 RPM fastball can actually be considerably better than a 2400 RPM fastball (among many other things).
• I would say I 60% chuckled at this – particularly the picture choice – and 40% thought, eh, OK, yes, there are still some aspects of player and team success that we cannot yet quantify:
— MLB Nerds (@MLBNerds) December 20, 2021
• This is a fun video:
.@Sut_40 threw 𝐒𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐍 complete games in his Cy Young season, including one to clinch the division!
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) December 19, 2021
• Rick Sutcliffe made 20 starts for the Cubs that year after the trade from the Indians (where he made 15 starts), and threw 150.1(!) innings in those 20 starts. And, of course, he was dominant.
• Computers, clothes, drinkware, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad