Should They Stay or Should They Go?
Now that the gauntlet has been dropped and there will be a new sheriff in town - eventually - let me take a look at what a new statistically inclined general manager may think of the current crop of Cubbies with the predisposition that the Cubs are not going into some full 3-year rebuild mode. That may be a faulty assumption on my part, but I assume the Ricketts would at the very least like to make the appearance of contending and with nearly $50M coming off the books and even more after 2012, no reason a savvy GM could not make things a lot more interesting, rather quickly.
Let me preface this with the explanation that this is intended more as a look at who may stay and who may go, then who will they try to bring in, although they'll certainly be some of that mixed in.
- Geovany Soto
- Koyie Hill
- Welington Castillo
I assume the second pen is laid to paper to sign the new GM's contract, Koyie Hill ceases to be on the Cubs 40-man roster. Soto's patience and power should be appealing as well as his low cost and he has improved his defense a bit this year. He's certainly worth dangling in a trade, but hard to see anyone that could be found that would be a worthy replacement. Castillo's power the last two years in Iowa has been intriguing, but what little I've seen at the major league level has me questioning that his defense would be any better than Soto's to justify what would likely be an offensive drop. And Castillo has shown little ability to stay healthy. If the new GM feels like committing to Soto as the catcher for the next 2-3 years, looking to trade Castillo and leaving back-up duties to Clevenger, Robinson or the like would suit me just fine.
- Bryan LaHair
- Carlos Pena
I only added LaHair since it seems inevitable he'll be added to the 40-man for a September call-up. But I can't imagine he's part of any future plan despite the gaudy AAA numbers this year. Bringing back Pena next year on another one year deal wouldn't be the worst thing, nor the best thing, but his patience and pop would likely be welcome. Jonah Keri suggests the Cubs pass on Pujols or Fielder because they likely won't be contending next year. This line of thinking always confuses me. If you're signing a guy for 6-8 years, I think you're intending to try to contend beyond just the first season of the contract and I doubt anyone as good as Pujols or as good and young as Fielder will be available anytime soon. There's something to be said about not spending your resources on a 32-year old that no one believes is 32 or a big-boned vegetarian who plays terrible defense and runs the bases poorly, but that something shouldn't be, "well we don't see ourselves winning in the first year of their contract".
- Darwin Barney
- Blake DeWitt
- DJ LeMahieu
- Jeff Baker
With the asssumption that no one is going to move Starlin Castro from shortstop anytime soon and my own reservations that Barney would be all that great of a defensive shortstop, I'm guessing one of the first jobs of the new GM would be to let everyone know that barely nipping at a .700 OPS is not good production from your second basemen, regardless how awesome his defense is suppose to be (awesomeness that hasn't really reflected in the defensive stats) or how dirty his uniform gets. I have no idea what kind of trade value Barney has, but I'd certainly look into it, cause guys like Barney run the risk of impressing their managers into playing time with their intangibles rather than their production when they're on the roster. Or to put it another way, do the Red Sox, Yankees or Phillies employ a Darwin Barney as a starter? Marco Scutaro is the closest comp I could think of, but his patient approach fits in better with the Red Sox philosophy and his defense (at least on reputation) is much more well regarded.
That being said, with all of Wilken's middle-of-the-diamond draft picks over the years, it's not a position you want to tie up with an expensive free agent contract. I would hope, just by sheer odds, that one of those picks should inevitably result in a decent enough regular. A Baker/Flaherty platoon would interest me the most for next season, but I could also see Flaherty struggling mightily out of the gate. I guess we'll find out how strong the committment to player development is, when the Cubs are losing lots of games with some of these youngsters.
- Starlin Castro
- Darwin Barney
- DJ LeMahieu
At age 21, Castro is 10th among shortstops in total WAR and 7th in wOBA. I assume that he stays where he's at and continues to get better. Barney as a bench guy makes more sense to me. LeMahieu seems more like a future utility guy and doesn't really have the approach that I care for, but I'm not sure what the the trade value is for a barely top-10 prospect, if any exists at all.
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jeff Baker
Is Ramirez worth the $16M next year in a bare free agent market for third basemen? This might be one of the tougher decisions for a new GM. The Cubs have the money to keep him and his production, and even with declining defense, he should justify the cost (for the most part). On the other hand, is it worth taking that $16M and putting it toward Fielder or Pujols contract as an investment for the future.
- Alfonso Soriano
If Ricketts is feeling generous, he'd say the sins of the past are not the burden of the future GM. Pay whatever it takes to make Soriano go away as quickly as possible. What that entails I don't know yet. The chatter is that Soriano is suited to be a DH, but I feel the demand for right-handed hitting DH's with wOBA's of .316 and falling and owed $54M for three years is pretty sparse. There's always the swap of bad contracts (Vernon Wells?), but what does that really solve? A deferred buyout or outright release would be the last ditch options. The other option is making him earn his playing time and benching him regularly, something I feel a certain Hall-of-Fame second basemen wouldn't be opposed to doing.
- Marlon Byrd
- Tony Campana
On the last year of a rather cheap deal, Byrd should have some suitors in the offseason trade market. The sort of leader type with good enough production that a contending team might look at. It's not a move that needs to be made, but the market should be explored. He certainly doesn't bring the trifecta of patience, power and good defense that a saber-inclined GM would want. Campana could be a perfectly reasonable last man on the bench, or not.
- Tyler Colvin
- Reed Johnson
Bringing Reed back again to hit lefties would be fine, he does it well enough and cheap enough, but that's a January decision. I think Colvin truly has 30-HR potential in him if he played everyday, but he'll never have the patience that you'd really want to make him an above average player. With the year he had, his trade value amounts to whatever lies above completely non-existant, so I assume he stays and maybe he earns his full-time shot in spring training.
- Carlos Zambrano
- Ryan Dempster
- Matt Garza
- Randy Wells
- Casey Coleman
- Andrew Cashner
Before Hendry got fired, I'd say Ryan Dempster picking up his $14M player option was inevitable. No such loyalty may exist now and Dempster could look to explore a multi-year deal. With a 3.62 FIP, the new GM would probably prefer Dempster stay, unless they'd want the financial resources to play around with. Z seems as good as gone if they can find a team, get Z to waive his NTC and eat some money. Good luck with that new GM. Garza's 3.01 FIP says he should stay, but he's also worth dangling in a trade to see what's available. No doubt he'd be one of the top 3 free agent pitchers if he was available, but I assume he stays a Cubbie. Wells and Cashner really depend on what else may be brought in, but both have their appeal to stay as Cubbies. I mean Cashner's not going anywhere, it's just whether he moves to the pen or sticks with being a starter. Coleman just needs to go away.
- Carlos Marmol
- Kerry Wood
- Sean Marshall
- Jeff Samardzija
- James Russell
- Chris Carpenter
- Scott Maine
- Berg, Cabrera, Caridad, Dolis, Gaub, Mateo, Schlitter, Smit
Unfortunately Marmol's second half implosion is likely to hurt his trade value, as is his declining fastball velocity. That makes trading him in the offseason, likely a poor proposition. If Kerry Wood wants back for $2M or less, that's a no-brainer. Marshall should of course stay, they can even try him out in the rotation or as a closer, but it's also worth seeing how much someone would overpay for him in a trade. I'd probably see if someone is just looking at Samardizja's ERA and not notice his walk rates. The rest are a case-by-case basis that I don't care to delve into today.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!