Closers Of The Future

Well, let me introduce myself before you read my dull words, that somehow made it into this very-appreciated site. I'm Carlos Rubi, an eighteen year old high school senior from Merida, Mexico; I've been a Cubs fanatic since 1994, and will be one until... well, until I stop caring. Or until I get married. Some of you may know me from the Parachat; I'm usually there to spend every other game, classes-permitting I also run a weblog Dusty Says, along with two other people. Well, then, I shall leave you with the article. Thanks to TCR for giving me this opportunity... He has the stuff to be the Cubs' closer of the future! How many times have we heard that in the past ten years? Try to remember the number. Three, four? Wrong. The closer role is as vital as a bag of carrots; though, in the modern way of playing baseball, it must be a role well defined and set to an individual. Through the minor leagues, and even in the major leagues, several lethal pitchers with arrow fastballs and knee-buckling breaking stuff have joined the spinning wheel that is the Cubs bullpen. Guys like Myers, Gordon, Alfonseca, Veres, Remlinger all have closed games for the Cubs, but all of those were acquired by trades or free agency. This story, though, will focus on the guys scouts have labeled as the perennial closers of the future (COTF); none of them, at the time of this article, have been able to succeed at that role. NOTE: The difference between his projection and future role is that the former is what scouts expected the player to become during his development; future role refers to the player ceiling relative to age/progress/statistics. Terry Adams Draft situation: Fourth round, Cubs pick. The story: Terry Adams was first called a COTF when he started to develop additional breaking stuff to go with his 98 MPH fastball that used to keep hitters out of control. He got to the Major Leagues pretty soon at age 22, becoming a full-job middle reliever by age 23. However, by the next year he was down again in Iowa working on his mechanics, something that the coaches of the time couldn't fix; he ended up with an ERA in the high fours and a terrible peripheral set of numbers. Terry came back in 1998 as a vital piece of the Wild Card Cubs even if his role was nothing more than a set up man and not the closer everyone was expecting. His K/9 rate went through the roof, ending at a nice 9.x for the season. Later, a year to be exact, he was slowed down by injuries and started the season on the DL. He did rebound nicely and ended up saving thirteen games for the 99 Cubs. He was traded, then, to the LA Dodgers for a bucket of paint and bombed there in two seasons as a no-role reliever/starter. The Dodgers got fed up of his never-potential-reach and proceeded to ship him to the Phillies; he, then, played for Toronto and Boston, and landed on the Phillies again. He announced his retirement the night of August 2nd and he's now, at age 32, a former major leaguer, never reaching his potential. His projection: Swingman, mid-to-late inning reliever Future role: Watching reality TV show, parenthood, most likely Where is he now?: Planning his retirement. Francis Beltran Draft situation: International free agent signing. The story: Francis was always overhyped as the savior of the Cubs' bullpen. Born in 1980 and still only 25 years old, he has been more time on the DL than any other of the players listed here (okay, except TJ surgeree Will Ohman) and has never actually pitched a complete season in the Major Leagues. His story goes further than you can imagine; he was a Guillermo Mota and Felix Rodriguez teammate in the Dom. Republic, and looked more developed than those two other players according to scouts. He throws a flaming 98 MPH fastball and a 85 MPH slider, and could well be in the plans of any team willing to deal with his injuries. He was part of the deal that sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs, therefore joining the Expos in late 2004. He pitched a disgusting eleven innings for them, after being shut down with tendinitis. He has been on the DL ever since. His projection: Set up guy, middle reliever with power. Future role: His fragility might tend to tweak his stuff and he might never end up a closer, but he's still young enough to be a big part of a bullpen. Remember, he's still only 25. Patience. Where is he now?: DL. Kyle Farnsworth Draft situation: Forty seventh round pick, Cubs. The story: Oh, Kyle. That Kyle that has made us angry through the years. The most famous of any COTFs, Kyle throws flames in an indescribable 100 MPH fastball. A late draft pick, he exploded into Rookie ball where he posted a great 0.87 ERA in his first professional year. Kyle is a headcase, to be honest. His arm is one of the most valuable assets of any team he arrives to, but in order to control that batter-plunking expert arm, a good mindset must be obtained. Ever since being moved into the set-up role with the Detroit Tigers, he has been able to control his mind and posted a great ERA in the middle of the season months. He, then, won himself a trade to the Atlanta Braves after tackling a Royals' pitcher and became, again, the set-up man for the Braves. He's still valuable as his age shows, but he's always been and always will be a project for the pitching coach in turn. His projection: Set-up man, power pitcher, capable closer if mindset is obtained. Future role: Set-up man. Where is he now?: Atlanta Braves. Kerry Wood Draft situation: First round pick, Cubs. The story: It's well known. A great starter turned into reliever in 2005, at least until his injuries fade away. Most Cubs followers would like to see him try the closer role after his first relieving performances of the year; his fastball and slider combination is pure gasoline for a dominating closer. Wood, though, has denied the rumor about him becoming the Cubs' closer of the future. His projection: Starter. Future role: Possibly a closer. Not on the Cubs, though. Where is he now?: Relieving for the Chicago Cubs. David Aardsma Draft situation: First round pick, Giants. The story: A minor league closer that's only 22, Aardsma came to the Cubs in the LaTroy deal, that also sent Jerome Williams to the team. Aardsma was a piece of the San Francisco future, often referred to as the puzzle piece missing in an aging bullpen; he's being stretched back and forth in AA West Tenn right now, waiting in line to see what his role on the Cubs will be. He's the current COTF. His projection: Middle reliever, effective, power pitcher- Future role: Closer, if control somehow develops. Where is he now?: AA. Michael Wuertz Draft situation: Eleventh round, Cubs. The story: A closer in AAA last year, Wuertz has spent part of the 2005 season in the Major League roster as a middle reliever, and has been rather streaky; he consistently gets hitters out with his great slider, but lacks the fundamental mindset of a closer that is not letting situations blow away. He looks a bit scared on the mound when in pressured situations, and gives up a lot of walks; still, he was part of a COTF campaign by whoever is typing these words and half the Cubs fanatics; though, he started the year fifth in line in the closer royalty. His projection: AAA closer, middle reliever for a MLB team. Future role: Set-up man if control finally develops. Where is he now?: Middle reliever, effective, for the Cubs. Will Ohman Draft situation: Eight round pick, Cubs. The story: A former Pepperdine student, Ohman was named the COTF for the Cubs of the late nineties, when his ability to get righties and lefties on a consistent basis was the word around Cubs scouts everywhere. He had a semi good season in 2004 in Iowa that lead to his promotion in 2005, after he was three years out with Tommy John surgery. He got the closer role in the Winter League in Culiacan, and went 16-for-16 in save opportunities with a great 1.46 ERA, a sign that showed the Cubs that he was ready either for the closer job or a smaller role in the 2005 bullpen. He started the season in AAA but quickly was promoted on the Chad Fox DL placement; he throws a good 90 MPH and has all the signs of becoming a LOOGY in the future. His projection: LOOGY. Future role: LOOGY, closer for smaller leagues. Where is he now?: Reliever, Chicago Cubs. Scott Chiasson Draft situation: Fifth round pick, Kansas City. The story: The less known of the Cubs' COTF, Chiasson is a whole story. This article by The Cubs Chronicle explains it better than I could ever: Scott Chiasson: remember him? He's the guy the Cubs traded Eric Hinske for; He 'will throw a simulated game Monday. If all goes well, he could pitch in a game Thursday,' reports MLB.com. In 2001, Chiasson looked for all the world like the Cubs future closer, putting up a 1.76 ERA at West Tennessee and coming up to the big leagues for a cup of coffee. A disastrous start to the 2002 season eventually led to Tommy John surgery, however, and Chiasson was out all of 2003. He was non-tendered in December, and so is no longer on the 40-man roster. He stuck with the Cubs, though, and hopefully will find a spot in Iowa's bullpen this year. He, then, forgot all about the Cubs and joined the Rockies the following spring. I wish him the best. His projection: Bullpen ace. Future role: Probably a set-up man, who knows. Where is he now?: Colorado Rockies minor league system -- surprised?
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Comments

cool idea for a post, carlos

maybe jermaine van buren is the man that breaks this streak?

his stats in AAA are absolutely crazy, i can't believe he wasn't given a chance to be a setup man in the majors all year.

next year he will be the 8th or 7th inning guy i would imagine....then again, maybe dusty can't turn his back on novoa.

umm....this is from cubs.com talking about jermaine van buren

"He has a 1.98 ERA in 52 relief appearances, and was honored with a selection to the all-Pacific Coast League team. When Iowa manager Mike Quade called Van Buren into his office after Monday's game, the pitcher thought he was going to be released. Instead, he got a ticket to the show."

he thought he was going to be released after the season he's had?!?!!

either 1) JVB is quite slow and does not understand baseball at all or
2) the cubs have done an amazingly bad job at communicating to him that he has done a good job and would be rewarded very soon.

might be a little of both. wow....

Wasn't Carlos Zambrano a COTF back when he was 18 or 19 years old? We were hearing about him for years before he came up to the bigs. Mike Myers is another one.

Good post.

I hope Billy Wagner is our closer of the future.

I hope Billy Wagner is our closer of the future.

I don't. For one, he doesn't seem like a guy Hendry typically goes after.

Two, he is getting old, and I am not sure that he is a guy that you can count on for more than a year or two - but I am sure that he would demand at least a 4 year deal.

It is the same problem with Damon.

Both Wagner and Damon will be overpaid, and will come back to haunt the teams that sign them.

Big Low:
"I don't. For one, he (Wagner) doesn't seem like a guy Hendry typically goes after."

Well, it isn't like Hendry has built any championship teams yet, so maybe he should try something different and actually go out and get one of the best closers in baseball. We all talk about how much money should be freed up for next year, but with the FA crop being bad, where is he going to spend the money? On mediocre players, who are demanding top $$?

Barring any major trades in the offseason, the Cubs will have like $30 million free, not counting the $$ they saved this year in the late season salary dumps that should be rolled over into the budget next year. So saying they have $35 million availible, where are they going to spend it in the FA market?

Burnett (aka Kerry Woods injury prone brethern) will be sought after by MANY teams and price will be driven WAY overpriced for a not that great pitcher.

I understand not wanting to sign guys for 5 years, but signing Wagner to a 3yr/$24, would not bother me at all.

Espn radio and Bruce Levine are reporting that the Cubs and White Sox are discussing a trade for Todd Walker.

The cubs should demand brandon mccarthy or brian anderson for walker simply to remedy that amazingly awful karchner for garland trade of '98

From the tribune...

Cubs right-hander Kerry Wood had successful arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, the team announced Wednesday.

Reds team physician Timothy Kremcek performed the surgery, which involved reinforcement of the labrum, and clearing any damaged tissue near the rotator cuff and bursa. Kremcek also operated on Cubs pitchers Ryan Dempster and Scott Williamson and repaired Cardinal Scott Rolen's torn labrum Monday.

Wood will begin a four-month rehabilitation program on Monday, and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2006 season, the team said.

oh well, my html sucks. it's on chicagosports.com

What's Hendry going to do, sign a whole team in the offseason? Second is one of the spots the Cubs are okay. They've got potential openings at five other positions coming up, plus a rotation spot and God knows how many bullpen spots to upgrade if they're going to compete next year. Why create yet another worry when you've got such a low-cost guy. You know, I'm starting to wonder if those rumors about Dusty not liking Walker last year are true.

Jesus. Trading Walker makes absolutely zero sense.

Oh, and Carlos-- interesting piece, man. I enjoyed it. Wonder if Aardsma has a shot to make it in the show next year?

"We're going to play them. They're going to get Ö I can't say the majority of playing time Ö [but] they're going to play."

Got to love our idiot of a manager.

"You don't know how to project young players because you don't know when they're going to get it together for an extended period of time," Baker said. "One of the problems with youth is consistency. You don't know sometimes what you're going to get."

Hmm, I can use the same thing on washed up veterans.

"You dont know how to project washed up veteran players because you just don't know when they are going to get it together for an extended period of time." MikeC said. "One of the problems with washed up veterans is consistency. You don't know sometimes what your going to get." (I would argue washed up veterans are worse than rookies because they have a track record of failure, examples Holly and Neifi)

I guess it's just a matter of perspective. Washed up veterans are not consistent and you don't know if they can put it together for long streaks at a time or at all. It sounds a hell of alot like what Baker is saying about rookies. It is also probably one of Baker's dumbest quotes to justify what he is doing.

The biggest problem in that quote is that Baker truely shows how much he despises younger players by automatically grouping all younger players into the inconistent categorey. This gives him a ready made excuse to play his vets who are probably worse than any rookie coming up.

Any sane manager knows not all players are created equal and just because you have more service time in the majors than another player, doesn't mean the more experienced player is always better, more reliable, or consistent.

purely based on hope, a middle infield of furcal and nomar (at second) would be pretty amazing. Finding a starting SS is difficult enough, finding a reasonable backup is even tougher. You'd have Furcal as your starting shortstop and if he goes down, your backup is NOMAR!!! If Nomar goes down, you have a great backup in Hairston.

Of course I have no idea if Nomar could handle second. He should be able to, moving from short to second should be pretty effortless, but who knows. Just a pipe dream of mine...

Hey Curb...was there any speculation on who we would get from the White Sox? I like Walker and I don't want him gone...What about the Indians? What would they part with for Walker?

let's see what else baker has said recently about the kids...

""September is tough to evaluate because you see guys coming up and nobody knows them," Baker said. "They usually kill it, just like that young man [Victor Diaz] who beat us in New York [last September].

"You come up in September and nobody knows you. That's really the easiest time to play. Nobody has a book on you. Nobody has a scouting report. After that, it depends on how you adjust."

So wouldn't the same hold true if you're called up in say, July? So letting a kid play that no one has a scouting report on, would be a good thing and most likely advantageous? So if let's say Nomar goes down for 15 games, putting in Cedeno, who no one knows about apparently, would be smart, cause no one would know how to get him out yet and it would take awhile for the league to adjust. Compared to Neifi who everybody in the league knows how to get out.

''They talk about me and kids and [stuff]. How many kids I got?'' Baker said. ''Damn near half my team is kids. Probably 80 percent of my pitchers. You look at [Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa, how many kids has he ever had? He has nothing but veterans on his team, and he always has.''

I don't know where to begin with that one...

''The only thing about teaching at the big-league level is you can't teach them until they make a mistake,'' he said.

''You don't tell a guy about the cutoff man until he misses it. You assume they know that stuff when they get here.

''That's the only thing about teaching at the big-league level is that they make mistakes here. At the minor-league level, if they make mistakes, it's going to be in the Des Moines Gazette. It's not in USA Today or on ESPN, showing you getting picked off.''

There's also a quote that I can't find, about how the kids need to watch and can learn a lot from watching. But if they already should know the stuff when they get here, there's really no point to them sitting on the bench, is there? And if he's talking about hitting, you can't learn a damn thing about hitting unless your standing 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher. You can watch all you want from the bench, on-deck circle, video, whatever, but nothing can replace the benefit of staring down a guy and seeing his release point, the movement on his pitches and his breaking stuff.

well...cedeno's book is pretty easy...throw it and he'll eventually put it somewhere in play...most of the time 100-200ft. from the plate.

murton got away with a bit until advance scouting saw how he handles the inside. once he adjusts there other teams are in big trouble.

september callups barely get a chance for advanced scouting to determine what they can do and boom, the season's over or practically over.

you see a lotta guys come up in sept. to tear crap up only to show up the next season being exploited like hell.

hopefully cedeno can put some meat on his frame to add some pop to his good contact and murton can go inside to kill the book for 06.

Hairston
Neifi
Lee
Burnitz
Nomar
Walker
Barrett
Patterson
Rusch

So Walker hasn't gone anywhere yet... unless Baker's spiting Hendry by playing him (or however the Gerut "conspiracy" went, I forget).

apparently you missed my point or maybe you were just addressing another one...

Why would there be no scouting reports in Sept, but there would be in July or May or August for the same guy coming up?

I'm not talking about any specific players, just Dusty's supposed philosophy?

back to the vets...

Hairston LF
Neifi SS
Lee 1b
Burnitz RF
Nomar 3B
Walker 2B (definitely not traded yet)
Barrett C
Korey CF
Glendon P

Murton is no major league right fielder, but he's played plenty there in the minors. SIt Burnitz...who cares what he does the rest of the year.

http://www.sammyisgone.com

SOMEONE NEEDS TO START A SITE LIKE THIS FOR DUSTY!

No Cedeno, no Murton?

This really pisses me off. I am seriously ill.

Fuck you, Dusty... fuck you.

"Why would there be no scouting reports in Sept, but there would be in July or May or August for the same guy coming up?"

there arent advanced scouting for most new players til days/weeks after they hit the bigs depending on the depth of their game and its pros/cons.

a lotta things missing from most any sportswriter's quotes are the questions asked that resulted in the responses given.

sept. callups generally put up fast feast #s and arent exploited til the next season if they dont plug those holes.

"sept. callups generally put up fast feast #s and arent exploited til the next season if they dont plug those holes."

those with the skills to feast in the first place, that is...

you cant expect much outta some A-ball SS who's brought up for a cup of coffee..for instance..

Green Lantern:

That... or Carrie Muskat is a horrible, horrible beat writer and is once again nearly fabricating what really happened. Nahhhh.

www.firedustybaker.com is the site you're looking for

You can't make a stupid person smart. Sorry to say, but we're stuck with Dustbag for another year.

andy

yes, that definitely occured to me as a third option a little while after i posted.

and THANKS dusty, for letting the kids sit. they were very tired after being out past their bedtime last night. no WAY that these young and weak kids can handle a day game after a night game.

With Rusch pitching you can bet that the Cubs will get behind early on in a game...hope the offense kicks into gear soon...i'm off to a meeting.

Very nice interesting Rob G. Brought up some names I had thankfully forgotten...Veres especially.

I didn't read Carlos' article, but I found the part about being a Cub fanatic "until I get married" to be pretty funny. I've been married four years, and I'm more of a fanatic now than pretty much ever, which probably coincides with moving back to Chicago after the wedding.

not me, Carlos Rubi wrote it, I just posted it for him....

trade barrett and sign ramon hernandez
or ben molina
this team needs a game-caller behind the plate
trade barrett for aubrey huff
he'd be average in left field but if you've got somebody with legs in centre (get joey gathright from tampa with brian dopirak in the package). and i still think aubrey could be a bigtime producer with other bats in the lineup
huff would also provide emergency backup at first and third
offseason signings?:
furcal, of course
hernandez or molina
jacques jones
forget nomar, forget walker, defence is needed
hernandez, furcal, cedeno (2nd) and gathright up the middle sounds the trick
batting order:
furcal
gathright/cedeno
lee
ramirez
huff
burnitz (to become felix pie)
hernandez
gathright/cedeno

Please, no more mentions of Felix Pie as if he's right around the corner. With a K/BB ratio of over 3:1, 9 CS in 32 attempts, all at AA mind you, this guy shouldn't even get a peek at Wrigley Field until next September at the earliest. Bacon, Sing, McGahee and Greenberg all have higher OBPs than Pie. What's most exciting about Pie is his age and the possibility that he has time to become alot better player than he is now.

And what difference does it make if the Cubs let him develop in Chicago or Jackson or Des Moines?

They have far too many holes to have a legitimate chance to contend next year. With St. Louis increasing their payroll quite a bit while moving into the new park, the Cubs have even less of a chance of contending than they did in 2004 or 2005.

Why spend the money on someon Cf when you have one you hope to have ready in a short time and you can let that guy develop on the job in Chicago?

makes no sense. I guess everyone here just criticizes Dusty and then acts just like him. Oh well. Fan mentality, I guess.

And one other thing, St. Louis will spend that money wisely. The Cubs will not. They have never done so. Expecting them to do it this offseason is assinine. They won't. They'll blow the money just as they have every other year. It's what they do.

from ba.com regarding a reader question comparing Matt Murton to Paul O'Neil"

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/columnis...
---
Good news for Murton: The recent Matt Lawton and Todd Hollandsworth trades give manager Dusty Baker no choice other than to play Murton, who merely hit .339 while getting only sporadic playing time during his first month in the majors.

Murton, a 2003 supplemental first-round pick by the Red Sox, wound up with the Cubs in the Nomar Garciaparra trade last year. The Expos wanted three prospects to give up Orlando Cabrera in the deal, but they weren't interested in Murton. To get the deal done, Chicago GM Jim Hendry offered to take Murton and send infielder Brendan Harris to Montreal.

....He hits more for average than power, though he has size (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) and strength and can put on a show in batting practice. He won home run derbies at the Connie Mack World Series (1998), the Cape Cod League all-star game (2002) and the Florida State League all-star game (2004)....

Murton runs well for his size and plays a solid outfield, but he doesn't have O'Neill's arm. That's his lone weakness from a tools standpoint, and it limits him to left field. But he's a legit prospect who should be an everyday player in the majorsóif Baker gives him the opportunity.

"And what difference does it make if the Cubs let {Pie} develop in Chicago or Jackson or Des Moines?"

I don't know. Maybe 70 to 100 points in batting average. Maybe he strikes out five times for each walk instead of three times. Maybe he gets thrown out stealing 80% of the time instead of 40%. You know, stuff like that. The Cubs already have a centerfielder who can deliver bad numbers.

Now Pie would be cheaper than KPat. So if your whole desire is to have a decent defensive centerfielder with no clue at the plate, by all means, bring up Pie and let's save the Trib some dough. But you also paint such a nightmare scenario for the '06 Cubs that I'm not sure why you would rush Pie. Or anyone.

Players who have reached a certain level can learn on the job in the majors. Pie ain't there yet.

unless the wires are lazy or the teams are tight lipped...walker seems to be a cub still.

wee.

there was a blurb in chicagosports.com that walker asked hendry about the trade rumors and hendry told him it would have taken a good package

"Based on my option next year and the fact I'm a .300-hitting second baseman who comes fairly cheap, for him to give me away doesn't make much sense," Walker said.

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sport...

"Based on my option next year and the fact I'm a .300-hitting second baseman who comes fairly cheap, for him to give me away doesn't make much sense," Walker said.

i love it when walker handles his own trade rumors.

put a mic in front of walker, press record...go home early.

ah, life must be good for the cubs beat writer in the walker-era.

Great quote by Walker.

Bad quote by our resident idiot...

Baker - "Fortunately, we have an off-day [Thursday]. If you're going to win down the stretch here, you've got to overextend some."

Soooo like sending out pitchers for 130 pitch starts in a meaningless season? Sounds like a smart idea. -rolls eyes-.

Hey, but in Bakers world we need to "over-extend" to win some worthless games in Sept! I guess Lee has to "over-extend" some down the stretch after he fouled a ball off his leg. Just suck it up dude and if the injury gets worse it was all worth it to try and get back to .500! Ladi Frickin Da.

draft question...

anyone know if mark holliman has attended classes at ole miss yet?

...eligable sr. this year, cubs 3rd round.

btw...hill was used last night in a single inning of relief in the middle of the game.

seems a sept. callup is on its way damn soon.

I hope Hendry's telling the truth about Walker ... seriously, we have a 2nd baseman that we can win with and we don't need to spend $millions to get a little better glove, a little higher average. Money much better spent elsewhere. As a fan, I like having a guy like Walker on the team as opposed to some of our surly ex-Cubs (Alou, Sosa). Those guys were definitely not loveable losers.

hollimann supposedly signed a couple of weeks ago, doesn't seem like got assigned anywhere though.

Levine was saying that they could trade him in the winter to Texas or Cleveland. Hill will be called up for Friday. Mitre and Soto will be called up next week.

CRUNCH & ROB G: The Cubs signed Mark Holliman a few days ago, but like with Grant Johnson last year, the Cubs have allowed Holiman to return to school and get his degree, before starting his pro career next season.

thanks and thanks.

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