Why Does Bill James Hate The Cubs?

For the second year in a row, Bill James has ranked the Cubs in the lower third in his top young talent inventory. Last year, the Cubs were 29th, this year they jumped all the way to 26th. He didn't even have the decency to rank Geovany Soto in the top 25 players under 30.


Here's the top 25:
1. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, age 24
2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins shortstop, age 24
3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants pitcher, age 24
4. David Wright, New York Mets third baseman, age 25
5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, age 24
6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, age 24
7. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder, age 23
8. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels pitcher, age 26
9. Jose Reyes, New York Mets shortstop, age 25
10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles right fielder, age 24
11. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals pitcher, age 24
12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23
13. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, age 24
14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies shortstop, age 23
15. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners pitcher, age 22
16. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher, age 24
17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, age 22
18. John Danks, Chicago White Sox pitcher, age 23
19. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres first baseman, age 26
20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, age 24
21. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop, age 25
22. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves catcher, age 24
23. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, age 25
24. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians center fielder, age 25
25. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds first baseman, age 24
My understanding, like all things James, is that he uses some statistical formula that incorporates age along with minor league and major league numbers and it doesn't seem like there's any room for defense in there (he uses Runs Created). Soto is probably still being penalized for just having one good minor league season, while some of the others on that list had more distinguished minor league careers. McCann would finish ahead of him just on the strength of already having a couple of plus major league seasons under his belt.
As for the Cubs 26th ranking, well don't fret, James has a ready-made excuse for the Cubs.

As James has noted often, “Competitive teams don’t have as much room to let young players thrash around, and consequently most of the top teams don’t show as having a lot of young talent. They may have the young talent; it just isn’t in the lineup yet.”

I believe James gives the players letter grades but I think you need to get the Bill James 2009 Handbook for that. So I'll give you my own...
Geovany Soto - A
Carlos Marmol - A
Rich Harden - A-
Carlos Zambrano - B+
Jeff Samardzija - B+
Felix Pie - B
Rich Hill - B-
Sean Marshall - B-
Micah Hoffpauir - B-
Angel Guzman - B-
Chad Gaudin - C+
Ryan Theriot - C
Casey McGehee - C-
Kevin Hart - C-
Ronny Cedeno - D+
I used the tried and true tested, "off-the-top-of-my-head" algorithm made famous by anyone who has ever gotten in an argument at a sports bar.


Of course his best player under 30 is a one dimensions tub of lard. oh, he sucks too.

Fielder is a horribly incomplete player, who, when not hitting home runs is rendered useless.

well can't say I agree with that, Fielder scored 109 runs in 2007 and 86 last year. 9.1 RC/G in 2007, down to 6.8 in 2008, but that's still pretty good. At age 24, he's got a bright future...as a DH.

If I was making a subjective list, I'd put Hanley Ramirez, David Wright and then Lincecum in the top 3.

and where's ryan howard? Only 1 season with a OPS+ under Fielder's career 130.

And he still managed to out-OPS Fielder.

you get knocked down considerably for age and Howard will be 29 next year.

Howard's RC/G since 2005: 7.2, 11, 8.2, 6.4

Fielder since 2006: 5.8, 9.1, 6.8

I do have issues with calling it a Young Talent Inventory if he's going to completely ignore defense.


This is a rather ridiculous enterprise. Let Bill James be more accurate and call it the top 30 players under 26. If you are indeed penalized for being closer to 30, as clearly seems to be the case, then the rubrik James presents is worthless.

I'd find an top 5 for each age a more interesting list. Give me the top 5 players that are aged 27, then we'll have a more interesting list.

Maybe I just haven't been paying attention, but is Dustin Pedroia really that good? I just attributed most of his hype to the fact that he plays for the Red Sox.

And Joakim Soria seems a little out of place among this group. Again, perhaps because of the team he plays for, although in the opposite way from Boston.

Dustin Pedroia doesnt have the blow me away stats but he more than makes up for it with...wait for it...


Nice to see you give Ronnie the "+". An outright D would have been harsh.

I am shocked and stunned -- Ryan Harvey and Mark Pawelek didn't make James' list?

It's a sham of a mockery of a travesty.

he got the + only because he's 25 (26 next year).

Do you realize that there was not one homosexual on that panel that made that list?

This list is a total joke. No Kinsler? Fielder over Han-Ram, Wright and Howard? I find it hard to believe that James even watched Baseball this year.

Wow... Matt Kemp - #7?


Surprising that Pie gets a B. He's above average defensively, but the rest of his game has been a C at best.

And Guzman's thrown so few innings I think a B- is generous, too.

not like I'm going to really spend a lot of time defending my rankings, I pretty much looked at their age and how I think they have done and willl do. But Pie will be 24 next year, there's still a lot of potential in there and he did look better at the plate in September.

Guzman will be 27 next year, but just based on "stuff' I'd give him an A-. He gets knocked for being older and the injury problems.

26th? Doesn't Bill know Tim Wilken has run our last three drafts?

One result of which is that Daytona won the Florida State League championship. James wasn't looking at high-A talent.

I just looked at the list of draftees in the three years (2003-2005) prior to Wilken's arrival, and among draftees actually signed I recognized the names of three major leaguers, two of whom (Gallagher and Blevins) are with Oakland. The lone Cub product of those three years is Sean Marshall, who frequently comes up in trade rumors.

The barren-ness of those three drafts is the reason the Cubs were low on talent at the double- and triple-A level this past season. The talent void was camouflaged at Iowa by a group of well-traveled players who could hit but are not really prospects.

The Cubs do tend to trade their younger players, with a lot of encouragement from bloggers. They have already traded Josh Donaldson, one of Wilken's five first-round and supplemental-round picks.

If MLB put all the players back into a draft and conducted it this offseason, Fielder should be happy to go late first round. Absolutely not the best young player in the game. He might not even be No. 1 on a list called Pure Power Hitters Under 30, though an argument could be made.

as I mentioned, it's really just a formula he uses based on the runs created stat and age, so there's not much use getting all bent over it.

But Fielder did slug .618 at age 23...


That's a pretty distinguished list of players who were able to slug over .600 before they turned 25.

You're right, I suppose the list is just poorly named. Runs Created before Age 30 or something like that would've been both more accurate and less attention-grabbing.

I have no doubt that he is an elite power hitter with Soriano-like team-carrying ability. Your Photoshop of the power of the man's bat sums it up perfectly.

With rumors of his availability, it's a shame there's zero chance he gets traded to the Cubs.

I wish I could take credit for that one....stole it from the Onion.

he doesn't carry that team. he doesn't do nearly enough to carry a team. He's a one dimensional player.

In order to carry a team you need to be a complete hitter/player. Soriano is that.

exactly what other dimensions did Manny Ramirez bring the Dodgers?

terrible example Rob. Manny is one of the most complete hitters in our lifetime.

Not to mention the lift his presence gave the dodgers.

well thanks for not answering my question, but exactly what are the dimensions that you speak of and which ones does Manny have over Fielder (power, speed, contact, etc?)

this just sounds like another I hate this guy rant, I'm not going to bother being objective about it

   Ramirez Fielder
AB/HR  14.4  15.7
BB/PA .135  .113
ISOP .279 .255
XBH 72.1  72.3
BB/SO  .73 .59

For XBH, I just did an average skipping Fielder's 2005 season and Manny's first two seasons. If you take out Fielder's 2006 season when he was just 22, those numbers are going to look even a lot damn closer.

I'm just curious what complete here is. Besides hitting for a better batting average (about 30 pts for his career), they look about the same to me. 

You asked what Manny brought to the Dodgers. Remember that. Cause you cannot call sample size when I post this:

Manny with the Dodgers: .396 .489 .743 219

you're clearly confused...

I'll make it simple, exactly what's the difference between Manny's offensive skillset and Fielder's and why can't Fielder "carry a team"?

I'll answer for you...not much and to "carry a team" you need to hit a shitload of home runs and XBH's which Fielder does in spades.

no you need to do more than just that. Adam Dunn doesn't carry a team. Ryan Howard doesn't carry a team. Dave Kingman never carried a team.

you need to be a complete hitter. also it HELPS if you are a good fielder (not a necessity but if you lack a bit with the bat but make great defensive plays, you team will rally around you). I know this is not the case for Manny. But when a guy like soriano nails the go ahead run at the plate, it pumps up the team.

Ryan Howard doesn't carry a team.

and we're done...

Howard's going to likely win the MVP because he "carried" the Phils in Sept, or so it will be perceived by the voters.

I clearly used a bad example there BUT!

it was far more than just home runs. he hit .352 that month with 31 hits. 20 of which were not home runs.


Point being that he was playing at an exceptional level all around.

so what, Fielder with a career .278 BA couldn't possibly get hot for a few months? He hit .333 last September with a .733 SLG, .316 with a .600 SLG this September

I am just trying to figure out what Soriano is doing in the coversation.... He's sure isn't a complete hitter, and when you have very good months and wind up batting sub .300.... that means you have bad months where the team carries you.

I don't know either, but I knew Chad was talking about Soriano being able to occasionally steal a base or make a big defensive play. But maybe by carry a team, Chad just meant really, really streaky.

As goes Soriano, so go the Cubs.

threepio and R2 are getting a lot of work with these trash compactors lately.

Soriano has more dimensions to his hitting than Fielder does?

As far as being a more complete player, I guess Soriano is good for a stolen base. But not your best example.

Hanley was robbed! Bullfuckingshit. No wonder Bill James didn't do shit for me fantasy-wise. He can play the slobbery blues on my meat-whistle for all I care.

with Brewers..


down to Randolph, Macha and Brenly

Cards say they're not interested, Padres scouting some Braves prospects in the AFL.

i would love Jake Peavy on the Cubs but I just don't see any way that it happens.

on the other hand, Braves say their best prospects are off the table


Hot damn, that's interesting. I wonder if they could still top the Cubs' best offer. If the Cards are out of it, and the Dodgers don't jump in, one wonders where Peavy would end up. Boston wants in, supposedly, and the Cubs couldn't compete with them either.

sadly, I don't see the Cubs even bothering unless Dempster backs out.

obviously not a decision I agree with, but Cubs seem to like him as much for his ability as his clubhouse presence.

a rotation of Z, Harden, Dempster, Lilly, and one of

Marquis, Hill, Marshall, Samardzija, Atkins

will still be one of the best in the league.

Dempster has to atleast be asking for 48/4, given that Lohse just got 41/4 so why not get Peavy for 56/3* then? I think this Dempster is staying talk was because outside of Sabathia and Lowe their just was not alot out there. Now that Peavy is on the market, they is are is a better option than Dempster with Dempster's price tag. Hopefully this thought has crossed Jimbo's mind. a Peavy,Giles, and Bell for Vitters, Marshall, Pie, Ceda, Hill, Atkins and Cedeno trade really benefits both clubs. We let Demp and Woody go in FA and use the draft picks to restock the system.

Ryan Howard in Sept.:

.352, 11 HR, 32 RBI, .852 SLG, 1.274 OPS.

I'd like a definition of "carrying a team" if that's not.

"12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23"

ah, that old chestnut. is it still 2005?

Remember when people thought that Zimmerman was bette than Aram and i said lets wait a couple of years?

It's been a couple of years and he's not.

remember when Chad said that Aramis is a better 3bmen than David Wright?


  Zimmerman Wright  Ramirez
2005  1.3  9.1 4.5
2006  6.6  8.9  5.6
2007 8.0  12  7.9
2008 4.2  9.6  6.6
Age  23 25 30


i still don't know how WARP can be trusted too much given how it's formula is proprietary...and that it keeps changing (at least it changes when people point out the flaws instead of being some immovable object).

it seems to be an aggregate of known stats weighted with adjustments.

either way, it's generally correct in pointing out the good from the bad though i wouldn't put too much weight in it for an arguement.

hell, you'd think aram had "issues" in 06 rather than it being his best season in that entire list of values.

as far as wright vs. aram, though...wright, easy...still, can't go wrong with either, imo.

Remember when Rob tried to show some stupid stats that don't mean anything?

How about OPS+?

Zimmerman's career high: 114

Aramis last 5 years are:


Well Zimmerman is young and Aramis is in his prime, right?

Aramis' first full year at age 23:


are they DH's?

Defense only matters when discussing Khalil Greene vs. Ryan Theriot.

Apples and oranges.

Don't accuse me of being inconsistent. My beliefs are very consistent. I want a shortstop who is a great fielder first and foremost.

I don't want a butcher at 3rd base but I want a masher. Aram is an ideal 3rd baseman in my book.

Zimmerman might be slightly better with the glove but not enough to over come the hitting.

Didn't Zimmerman have injury problems?

All good and well except it's not baseball being talked about. Don't you guys remember that the rules for Chadball are different? Check that: there are NO rules for Chadball. What Chad says, is.

2007 162 games .266 .330 .458 107


Hi, Neal. Thanks for writing and for your patience while we checked it out. Our tech crew agrees with you that we have an issue affecting DP% and netDP. They've identified the cause and will get it resolved, although we don't have a specific time frame.

We appreciate the head's up on the discrepancy. Thank you for reading BP!

Obviously Bill James is dumb. Nick Markakis #10 at age 24, Grady Sizemore #24 at age 25...lets be real...

Also Cole Hamels at 13 is a joke. My guess is of 25 if you asked GM and directors of pro personal which guy you would pick if you had to start a team from scratch, he would finish 2nd behind Braun.

Ryan Braun over Hanley Ramirez? I think not. But maybe that's just me.

Hamels at 13 seems a little underrated, but not drastically.

Fielder at 1 I think shows, however, that the uses of James's list are extremely limited. Plenty of guys I choose over him.

If this list were more relevant Kinsler, Hamilton, and probably several others that James's model doesn't include and I'm forgetting would be there. Also, K-Rod probably drops way down, Tulo drops way down or off the list, and Zimmerman drops way down or off of the list.

It's threads like that that make me so appreciative of the community here. Yeah, we have stupid, immature arguments from time to time, but it could be so much worse.




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  • Do you start him Sunday or not?

    @jonmorosi Pitchers w/ sub-2.00 ERA in year of 185+ IP this century: Pedro ’00, Clemens ’05, Kershaw ’13/’14, Arrieta ’15, Greinke ’15, Hendricks ’16.

    Rob G. 6 min 58 sec ago view
  • Yeah -- that would be rough for him. But, Monty is getting people out, he's a lefty and he has experience working out of the bullpen. Hammel? None of the above.

    billybucks 1 hour 1 min ago view
  • even if he's not starting, abandoning hammel would be a bit of a 'screw you.' i think it might be -monty +hammel, but it's speculation.

    either way, someone's gonna be disappointed.

    crunch 2 hours 2 min ago view
  • Joe said he is leaning towards 11 pitchers and 14 position players.

    - 4 starters, Chapman, Rondon, Strop, CJ, Wood, Grimm, Monty. No dice for Cahill or Smith.
    - 3 catchers, Rizz, Zo, Addy, KB, Javy, Heyward, Fowler, Soler, Coghlan, TLS and then Sczcur over Almora?

    billybucks 2 hours 14 min ago view
  • Cubs 3B Jason Vosler made two really bad throws on consecutive AB in the 8th. Fortunately the game was no longer in doubt at the time  

    The first one was a one-hop lob that allowed the batter to reach base on an infield single, and the second was air-mailed so far over the first-baseman's head that it went over the fence and landed in Field #4.

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 48 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Despite the HR, Donnie Dewees is really more of a slash hitter (the HR was an opposite-field line-drive) who can accumulate lots of doubles & triples. He's also a good bunter and can get on base that way, too. Although he was thrown out trying to steal in the game, he's actually a good base-stealer and baserunner.

    Defensively he has plus-range and tracks fly balls OK, so he can play CF, but he has a rag arm that requires the middle infielders to go out further into CF to make relays.

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 50 min ago view
  • I don't know how many of you remember Bobby Knoop, who played 2B for the Angels, White Sox, and Royals back in the day, but he is a coach-emeritus for the Angels, and works with the infielders at Minor League Camp, Extended Spring Training, and Instructs. He's pretty spry for a 77-year old, and he really knows his shit.

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 17 min ago view
  • With a big lead, Chapman was throwing sliders and changeups, something he's reluctant to do in a save situation. (Len and Jim covered this.)

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 26 min ago view
  • Maybe they have a bad owner, I don't know, but they still have players and fans and a franchise, all devastated by this loss of life. Plus, everybody who follows baseball is a fan of a guy like this. It's why I used the word tragedy, which other people throw around but I try to be careful with.

    I'm at an age where I remember old incidents better than recent ones, but I have to go back to Herb Score for something as disturbing.

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 42 min ago view
  • That was Dee Gordon's only HR this year. Wow.

    billybucks 3 hours 43 min ago view
  • Thank you PHIL.

    Glad you avoided temps in the 100s.

    I remember you mentioning Dewees needng plenty of work in th IF. How are his OF instincts?

    Also, did see much of Satchel McElroy? Only Satchel I have heard about other than the "orignal" and one of Woody Allen's kids.

    The E-Man 6 hours 29 min ago view
  • Hate to give the Mets credit, but they did everything right tonight in what had to be a very tough game for them to play. As Hollandsworth said on the Cubs post-game -- if you watched the game, you saw Mets players consoling Marlins players who were in tears during the game. Between that and the way Molina handled the Ross farewell -- maybe the Mets and Cardinal players aren't pure evil. Just the fans.

    billybucks 14 hours 36 sec ago view
  • New York Mets @Mets
    Dee Gordon lead-off home run. #AintEvenMad #BiggerThanBaseball 1-0 Miami.
    7:25 PM - 26 Sep 2016


    crunch 14 hours 37 min ago view
  • Amazing effort by Gordon -- truly remarkable.

    billybucks 14 hours 59 min ago view
  • Cubs get 100, KB gets 100, Hendricks gets below 2.00, Cards get absolutely destroyed by the Reds -- all good, other than some Rondon concern. Hopefully, he can get a few outings in this week and find his groove. Also, I guess Soler is still struggling with his right side. Hmmmm. Too bad Joe didn't let Addy bat with the bases loaded in the 7th -- great RBI opportunity.

    I assume all the relievers are on a set schedule this week, but it seems strange Chapman pitched back-to-back.

    billybucks 15 hours 1 min ago view
  • Barry Rozner article interviewing Greg Maddux (with comments on Kyle Hendricks).


    "I like watching him pitch," Maddux said of Hendricks. "I like guys that rely on movement and location. I can relate to him. That's what I had to do. "I'd rather watch him pitch than some lefty throwing 95 mph."

    Cubster 15 hours 22 min ago view