Posted on: January 19, 2009 10:49 am

The Value of Organizational Depth: The Cubs Farm

We have all at one time or another questioned Jim Hendry and his moves.  He has basically been in control of player development since the mid-nineties and we have failed to bring impact players to the major league level.  Of course there have been successful player in that time and even some all-stars (i.e. Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood, Geovany Soto), but the overall assumption is that Big Jim has been a Big Failure when it comes to the young guys.

What the Cubs have done over that time is build a team that is a contender.  They have won 3 division titles in the last 6 years.  They have accomplished this because of two thing.

1. the trib decided at some point that if they opened up the purse strings that the team would be more valuable.  This value was important for the first time in 30 years due to the fact that the trib wanted to squeeze every last penny out of the club before selling them.  We have brought in top talent such as Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, and Mark DeRosa.  The Cubs have also been able to re-sign their own top talent instead of letting them leave via free agency (Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, etc...). 

2. Through trades.  

We have all questioned the bringing in of so-called "mid-level prospects"  but what have mid level prospects given us over the years?  Lets compose a list of what we have gotten from the "garbage" prospects, as most people refer to them.

Aramis Ramirez:   Ramirez was brought in during the 03 season and was acquired for at the time current major leaguer Jose Hernandez and two mid level prospects;  Matt Bruback, and Bobby Hill.   Plus we received Kenny Lofton in the deal as well

Derek Lee:  acquired before the 04 season for who some cubs fans would call a top prospect Hee-Seop Choi.  However, when examined in comparison with the rest of the league Choi was merely a mid-level guy.

Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin:  Cubs trade 4 mid-level prospects for two solid pitcher to help down the stretch in 08 who were both under contract for 09. 

Nomar Garciaparra:  This trade didn't really work out but it could have.  We landed Nomar for more of these mid-level guys. 

Some of these mid-level guys have also contributed at the major league level for the cubs.  

Ryan Theriot:  this is a player that no one thought would ever be an everyday major leaguer.  He has proven to be slightly above average in the field and a decent hitter.

Geovany Soto:  reigning NL Rookie of the Year.  a mid-level prospect?  yes in fact he was.  he was drafted in the 11th round and until 07 was not even considered to be one of our top prospects.

Mike Fontenot:  even if Aaron Miles take the majority of starts at second base this season, Fonty has proven his worth as a mid-level prospect.  

Carlos Marmol:  converted catcher who appears as if from nowhere with the nastiest slider that I would guess most hitters have ever seen.

Sean Marshall:  Gives the Cubs solid starting depth and allows them to use guys like Rich Harden with out too much worry.

almost every player that fits into that fill-in role in our bull pen would also fit into this list.

The moral of the story is that while the Cubs farm has not been a monumental success, I do not think that you could say it has not been a success.  


Posted on: January 7, 2009 12:35 am

Was Losing Mark Derosa Addition by Subtraction?

This will probably strike a nerve with several Cubs fans since Mark Derosa was a fan favorite.  So please take it into consideration that I am merely making a comparison based off of computer stats, not personal opinion.  Let's step back and compare DeRo with a possible internal replacement, Mike Fontenot. 

Mark DeRosa was a slightly below average defender at second base in 2008 (UZR -8.8), as well as slightly above average offensively at the position.  his replacement should be......

Mike Fontenot.  Fonty's UZR150 (16.5) is way better than Derosa and Fangraphs predicts that he would be a significantly better defensive second baseman over the course of a season than Derosa.  However, 16.5 is a bit of a stretch since he was not an every day player.  They suggest that a modest adjustment would be to take half of that number.

Now lets move to offense for a second.  Mark Derosa is coming off of a career year and he will more than likely never duplicate that production.  Mike Fontenot had an excellent offensive season as well but mainly faced right handed pitchers.   Derosa's career average would be around .280 13HR and 65RBI.  That is probably a more fitting projection than the 21 and 87 he had this season.  Mike Fontenot's career consists of roughly 500 at bats (essentially a full season).  A number of those at bats were pinch hits as well (which add difficulty to those at bats). Over his career Fontenot is a .290 12HR and 69RBI.  those are very comparable to Derosa's career average.  So, from that we can conclude that Fontenot is a comparable offensive player.

Mark Derosa is projected with a WAR 2.0.  this means that as an overall player Mark Derosa adds 2 wins over an average replacement.

Mike Fontenot is projected with a WAR of 3.4 over a full season.  That would mean that Fontenot is 3.4 games better than the average replacement and 1.4 games better than Derosa.  So, from a statistical point you could make a strong argument that Mike Fontenot is a better player and that by losing Derosa and replacing him with Fontenot the Cubs actually upgraded at second base internally.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 4, 2009 1:23 am

What To Do When You are Out of Options

The Cubs roster is starting to take shape.  The Team has made several moves (some good, some not-so-good, some debatable) and has a big one left to make (Milton Bradley).  My question is, what are we going to do with all of the guys we have that are out of minor league options?
Felix Pie has been a hot topic for years now.  However, if the cubs do in fact add Milton Bradley, it will give us 974 outfielders.  Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Joey Gathright, Micah Hoffpauir, etc...  Where exactly does Felix Pie fit?  If you answered nowhere you are the 64 thousand dollar winner.  So, what do the cubs do with him?  Well, they have to trade him right, but to where and for who?  Are we going to have to trade him to the Orioles for Garrett Olsen straight up because we have no other options? 
What about Rich Hill?  He is the next Erik Bedard, or at least that is what we all thought in the spring of 08.  He is also out of options.  Can we even move this guy, much less afford to keep him on our major league roster.  I dont think he gotten bad enough to clear waivers so that we can assign him back to the minor leagues.
Ronny Cedeno?  What to do with poor Ronny?  He could make the team, actually he has a way better shot than the other two listed above. These are a couple of questions the team has to be thinking of addressing in the next couple of weeks.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 12, 2008 9:30 pm

Derrek Lee for Matt Cain? Is this real?

I am sure that by now a lot of you have read the article suggesting that the Giants are looking for three players via trade in particular.  those three being Dan Uggla, Paul Konerko, and Derrek Lee

It goes on to suggest that it would not be beneficial to acquire Uggla since he is one dimensional (i agree). 

It also adds that it would probably take one of either Jonathan Sanchez or Matt Cain to acquire either Konerko or Lee.  (i also Agree)

But seriously, would we trade Derrek Lee.  I have been avidly against the idea in the young off season but, Matt Cain is a cy young potential talent.  Acquiring him would free up the money we would be spending on Ryan Dempster to be spent on a replacement (not Micah Hoffpauir). 

are there valid replacement available?

well, we are all aware of Mark Teixeira and his talent, but is he a possibility (not really).

who else then?

Rich Aurilia (37)
Hank Blalock (28) - $6.2MM club option for '09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Sean Casey (34)
Tony Clark (37)
Carlos Delgado (37) - $12MM club option for '09 with a $4MM buyout
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jason Giambi (38) - $22MM club option for '09 with a $5MM buyout
Eric Hinske (31)
Doug Mientkiewicz (35)
Kevin Millar (37)
Richie Sexson (34)
Mark Teixeira (29)
Daryle Ward (34)

oh wait none of those players are worth signing outside of tex. 

oh wait, i doubt the giants would seriously trade cain or sanchez so this entire post was completely hypothetical in the first place.

Posted on: October 11, 2008 10:23 am

does everyone love the Hoff?

of course we all love david hasselhoff and his light up jacket on the Berlin wall and of course his cameo in Spongebob Squarepants the Movie.  but i am talking about micah hoffpauir, Cubs minor league player of the year.

the Hoff that we are talking about has created a name for himself as a possible starter on next years squad for many fans who are tired of Derrek Lee's double play debacles.  So is Hoff the answer?

no thanks, says this cubs fan.

derrek lee may be on the downside of a solid career but still provides ample offense and above average defense.  Does a contending team make a move like this?  No, they do not.  this would be a move made by a struggling team looking to get cheap.  Not a team looking for its first world series in what has now been a drought of over a century.

Hoff is appealing and could provide power from the left side of the plate but........  his defensive ability will hinder him from being a regular in a tricky right field at wrigley.  He is also not a better replacement to three time gold glover derrek lee.  so the question rises.  What do the Cubs do with the Hoff.

I say for the sake of the player and the sake of the team they should trade him.   He is not a spring chicken by any means.  He will be 29 when next season starts.  Could the Hoff bring in a top player to help this team? 

not by himself.  but as a part of a package he could be useful in bringing in a solid player like Brian Roberts or even (in my dreams) Ichiro Suzuki.  But he could also hold merit in being traded for a quality relief pitcher (which we know is always a need of every team).

we all love the Hoff but lets think about our 09 title run and what the needs really are.

Posted on: October 5, 2008 7:13 pm

No Tears in Heaven..... Even for a CubsFan?

Eric Clapton wrote the song and we have all heard the saying that there are no tears in heaven.  Every religion world wide regards heaven as a peaceful place where sorrow is unknown.  Does that mean... do i dare say it... that when I die I can see the Cubs win a world series title?  It would surely be true if the saying held merit.  That means my grandfather (an 80 year cubs faithful) is watching this years Cubs win another world series crown, and  one day I too will see the same.

Is this what it is going to come to?  Many, at this point would agree that it is.  100 years is monumental.  A ridiculous amount of time.  Is it fair for anyone to suffer for so long?  All questions a Cubs fan must answer on a daily basis.

Can we turn this around?

It is possible.  We have made a great step in putting together a winning franchise.  We have won back-to-back division titles for the first time in 100 years, and even larger have gone to the post season 4 times in the past 11 years.  We have the core of our talent locked up for several years and they appear to be in their prime.  So can the Cubs turn it around?

They have needs, all teams do.  But what they need more than anything is a little luck. They have lost their last 9 post season games. Is it Bartman's fault?  No.  Is it the Billie Goat?  No. Was there a black cat?  Not to my knowledge.  Worse teams have won the world series.  The 06 Cardinals for instance.  I just want to know when is our turn.  How about next year.  Next Year Now.  stop the pain.  End the sorrow.  No tears in heaven how about no tears on the corner of Clark and Addison for a change.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 12, 2008 10:55 pm

NL Power Rankings

another round of NL power rankings, nothing changing at the top (obviously).

1. (1.) Cubs.  the team is still winning games in spite of the worst outing of the year from Carlos Zambrano.  big game from Ryan Dempster coming out after Big Z's tough loss.

2. (2.) Brewers.  hard to argue with a 6-0 run.  i still wonder a little about the team chemistry and the stamina of the young players, but the vets like CC Sabathia have been nothing short of magical.  they NEED ryan Braun to get back in and stay in.

3. (4.) cardinals.  NL central is dominating but they keep winning and it is hard to argue with numbers and production.  tony larussa may be drunk but he is nothing less than a baseball genius.  oh yeah and that Albert Pujols guy is pretty good too.

4. (3.) Phillies.  hard to drop them a spot but they are an offensive team that has been struggling at the plate.  if that fact doesn't change fast that last month and a half could be a rough road.

5. (6.) Diamondbacks. a young team with great pitching and streaky bats goes out and adds the NL home run leader for essentially nothing...  hard not to jump the d-backs a spot despite their 4-6 mark in their last 10.

6. (5.) Mets.  do they even have a bullpen???  watching Aaron Heilman blow a save with Billy Wagner on the shelf made me thin that this team was headed right back for trouble once again.

7. (6.) dodgers.  the Dodgers have a worse record than the Marlins but they at least have run differential in the +

8. (8.)  marlins. lots of power in that infield but i cannot remember if any of them were able to bring their big boy gloves to the ball park or not.  a young team that is not far off, but needs to work a little bit more.

9. (NL) Astros.  really???  i had given up on them but they have climbed back to .500.  kudos to those guys, maybe they can save ed wade's job after all.

10. (NL) Braves.  I seriously almost put the Pirates here because they are so close to having the same record (and everyone feels sympathy for the bucs).  but seriously i was struggling to get to ten because the bravos season was over a long time ago.

everyone, better luck next time. the Rockies are disappointing and not quite poised for that run i mentioned last week after all.  and the rest are the bottom feeder that i left off the list last week.  congrats to walt jocketty BTW for finally shaking things up in the queen city.  you have to get worse before you can get better, trading Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey, jr. is the first step in his resurrection of the Reds.

Posted on: August 7, 2008 7:51 am

B-B-B-Brett and the Jets

I guess this move doesn't come as much of a shock since it was covered as heavily as the upcoming presidential election, but it still leaves many feeling lost.  The move of one of the greatest sports figures in history parallels similar career paths of Johnny Unitus, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, etc, etc, etc...  It still leaves me wondering a few things....

  • Is Aaron Rodgers really the guy in Green Bay?
  • Can we seriously believe he will duplicate anything similar to an aging Brett Favre?
  • Who will the pack take with their extra pick in the draft?
  • Did the Packers make the right move?
  • Can Brett Favre turn the Jets around?
  • Is there enough of a supporting cast for him to work his magic?
  • Is this move really even relevant to the NFL and its outcomes this season?

Here are my best answers to the questions posted above.

  1. No.  Aaron Rodgers is not the guy in the long run for the Packers
  2. No.  Brett Favre showed last year that the gun slinger still had some good seasons left in him.  I expect Rodgers to experience some growing pains this season.
  3. Assuming that Favre will play the required amount I would guess at least a second round pick is in order.  That could be a pick plus for the Pack next season.
  4. Yes.  It was time for the Pack and Favre to move on, the drama was seriously getting out of hand.  As a cubs fans i ranked the annoyance level as pretty darn close to ridiculous Brian Roberts off season trade rumors.
  5. I would guess that one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever suit up could almost turn any team around.
  6. Yes.  the Jets have two quality receivers in Cotchery and Coles, and should be able to establish a running attack with a hopefully reemergent Thomas Jones
  7. No. I doubt this move will have any serious impact on the league's outcome this season.  Both of these teams are probably looking at early playoff exits at the most. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or