Archive - 2014

The Hall of Fame Case of Lee Smith

Hall of Fame ballots were due by December 27, and the results will be announced on January 6. A player must appear on 75 percent of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballots to be inducted. I’ll have more commentary on the entire ballot soon, but in this post, I’ll more closely examine the case of one former Cub: Lee Smith.

December 26th

A Review of the Cubs 2014 Draft

Following on my previous two poss on the 2012 and 2013 drafts, here is an overview of the Cubs 2014 draft and where the players are now. Here again it only shows those draft picks who signed with the Cubs and lists their draft number, current age, position, current organizational level, and a brief snapshot of their 2014 performance. Another positoin player, Kyle Schwarber, is the headliner here; but the Cubs drafted 10 pithcers in the first 12 picks, many of them teenagers. While most debuted at low levels and only played the last part of the summer, there is a lot to like about the level of success of many so far.

December 25th

Feliz Navidad

The Cubs acquired/signed two Mexican players last week, 18-year old 2B Carlos Sepulveda and 19-year old RHP Jesus Camargo.  

Both played for league champion Diablos de Hermosillo of la Liga Norte de Sonora (the top Mexican professional developmental league) this past season. 

Camargo made a brief cameo appearance with Diablos Rojos del Mexico at the very end of the Mexican League season in August, and Sepulveda was the #1 draft pick of Naranjeros de Hermosillo (and the #1 overall pick) in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (Mexican Pacific League) draft this past summer.

The Cubs had previously signed 16-year old Mexican League RHP Hector Garcia in September, after acquiring the rights to the teenager from Leones de Yucatan.

December 21st

A Review of the Cubs 2013 Draft

Following on my Friday post on the 2012 draft, here is an overview of the Cubs 2013 draft and where the players are now. Here again it only shows those draft picks who signed with the Cubs and lists their draft number, current age, position, current organizational level, and a brief snapshot of their 2014 performance. Bryant is the headliner here; beyond him it was a pitching-heavy draft and many are moving steadily through the system with three reaching A+ by the end of the year, though one of those (Godley) was sent to the Diamonbacks in the Montero trade.

December 19th

A Review of the Cubs 2012 Draft

I’ve been a frequent commenter on TCR for over 8 years now and in the past I have sent Rob some guest posts, for example on the Cubs’ use of no-trade clauses and the Cubs’ best drafts of all time, and I have also written longer analyses directly the comments. Rob has now graciously provided me with my own login so I can now post commentary directly. I won’t be a frequent poster, but this will make it easier for me to share the longer form data collection and analyses pieces I like to do. In particular, readers have seemed to like my overviews of recent Cubs’ drafts that I have done in comments in previous summers. So to help us through the boredom of winter, I’ll post overviews of all three Epstein/Hoyer drafts in the next week, starting with 2012 today. Below you will see the pick #, player, the level at which they ended the 2014 regular season, and a short snapshot of their performance this past year.

December 17th

Cubs Trade Ruggiano

The Cubs cleared some 40-man roster space and made room for a "clubhouse dude" by sending OF Justin Ruggiano to the Seattle Mariners for 25-year old relief pitcher Matt Brazis. Ruggiano was acquired from the Marlins last offseason for Brian Bogusevic and put up an 111 OPS+ with an .846 OPS versus lefties in limited, albeit effective action. He can also handle all 3 OF positions which is a nice added benefit.

December 15th

Cubs Sign Motte

The Cubs have signed reliever Jason Motte to a one-year deal for $4.5M with a games finished incentive. Motte hasn't pitched a full season since 2012, but did have a helluva nice run out of the Cardinals bullpen from 2010-2012, including being their closer in 2012 where he knocked out 42 saves with a 2.75 ERA thanks to a 10.1 K/9 rate, 2.1 BB/9 rate and 0.917 WHIP that season..

December 11th

2014 Rule 5 Draft

UPDATE: The Cubs selected 2B-SS Taylor Featherston off the AAA Albuquerque roster (Colorado Rockies) in the Major League Phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and OF-1B Ariel Ovando from the AA Corpus Christi roster (Houston Astros) in the AAA Phase... The Cubs subsequently dealt Featherston to the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations... The 6'4 225 Ovando was signed by Houston out of the Dominican Republic as a highly-regarded 16-year old left-handed hitting slugging RF in 2010, but he has been unable to hit anywhere over the last four seasons and has yet to get past Short-Season "A" ball... The Cubs are expected to convert Ovando to a LHP... 

The Miami Marlins selected LHRP Andrew McKirahan off the AAA Iowa roster (Cubs) in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and the Texas Rangers selected 1B Rock Shoulders and the Houston Astros selected C Luis Flores off the AA Tennessee roster (Cubs) in the AAA Phase... A 2011 21st round selection by the Cubs out of the University of Texas, McKirahan underwent TJS in 2012 and spent most of the 2013 season rehabbing at Fitch Park, and so 2014 was his first full-season of minor league ball... He had a nice year combined between Daytona & Tennessee in 2014, but he fared better against RH hitters than he did versus LH hitters... A power-hitting LH hitter with below-average defensive skills at 1B, Shoulders was the Cubs 25th round draft pick out of a Florida JC in 2011. and he received an "overslot" bonus ($294,000, which is about equal to "4th round money"),.. Shoulders was blocked by Dan Vogelbach and Anthony Rizzo in the Cubs system, and the opportunity to rotate Vogelbach and Shoulders between 1B and DH every day (as has been the case the last three seasons) is not possible at AA (where the DH is used only sporadically)... A Houston-native, the 28-year old Flores was the Cubs 5th round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2008... He was eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2014, but opted to sign a minor league successor contract wiith the Cubs in October... He received an NRI to Spring Training as an extra catcher each of the last two seasons... Flores has a really good eye at the plate and has solid defensive skills, and he has been a role model and mentor to some of the younger Cub minor leaguers... 



The Rule 5 Selection Meeting (AKA "Rule 5 Draft") is the last order of business at the MLB Winter Meetings, and it is a mechanism that allows MLB clubs to select (draft) players off minor league reserve lists.

There is a "Major League Phase" where an MLB club can select Rule 5 Draft eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs for $50,000, a "AAA Phase" where a club's AAA minor league affiliate can select Rule 5 Draft eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a lower classification for $12,000, and finally a "AA Phase" where a club's AA minor league affiliate can select Rule 5 Draft eligible players off the reserve lists of Class "A" clubs for $4,000.

December 10th

2014 Winter Meetings Day 3

4:54: PM CST: Break out the salt shakers, but..."Cubs are talking very seriously with James Shields." -@injuryexpert @br_radio #BRAD". So the tweet comes from Jason Goff, who seems to host an afternoon Sirius radio show and I think he's talking to enemy of the state, Will Carroll, who I believe is the one saying the above. It would't completely surprise me, but it would be surprising in a way. I would think that after being able to sign Lester and a high draft pick next year, Cubs would prefer to have one more big draft class opportunity, but I could be wrong.

2:35 PM CST: Well, I suppose Johnny Gomes technically qualifies as a LF power bat.

1:49 PM CST: Jim Bowden (yeah I know), says Cubs are looking for a LF power bat.

My final take on this Jon Lester business. Yes, of course, it's too much money for too many years (aka big ticket free agency) and the full no-trade clause puts a bit of a damper on the deal, but with that much competition on Lester, it was probably necessary. It seems there is a $30 million signing bonus involved, with $20 million being paid to Lester right now and the other $10 million being spread out over the life of the contract. If that is how it works out, that's $135M over 6 years, which would be $22.5M per year. Let's say I'm a big fan if that is the case, using the savings from the last few years to make the contract slightly more manageable in the future. There is a 7th year option worth $25M that automatically vests if Lester throws 200 innings in 2020 or 400 total innings between 2019 and 2020. I haven't seen if that's a club, player or mutual option, but I would guess player. I'm not sure if there's a buyout involved. I'm also not sure what numbers I'm missing because the report is that it would be a total of $170M over 7 years if the option vests, but I get $180M ($155+25M), so there's something not adding up, but I'm sure it'll get figured out soon enough.  Lester also gets 25 hours a year of private air travel paid for by the Cubs.

In the end, the Cubs got the guy they wanted...the guy with the ability and make-up that they craved, the guy with 2 rings to show off to the youngsters. And there is some success in left-handers in their mid to late 30's (Lilly and Pettite come to mind) that the Cubs will still get something out of Lester on the backend of the deal. In itself, it's not enough to put them in playoff contention next year, but it's enough to start them down the path. And well, you never know, maybe the youngsters all come out hitting like they did in the minors and next year the magic begins.

More rumoring after the break...

The Cubs Get Their Man

Yes, that man...Jon Lester. Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal have both tweeted that Lester has informed Red Sox he won't be signing with them.

More to come...

UPDATE #1: The deal is for 6/155M.

UPDATE #2: Red Sox offer was 6/135, Giants were willing to go 7/168 according to Jeff Passan.


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