NL Central Smackdown: Shortstops
We march on around the diamond. Today it's the double play partner of yesterday's vote. The Cubs so far have the 2nd best first basemen and second basemen in the division. Can Ryan Theriot keep the streak going? Answer - no!
Your scrap-tastic contenders after the jump....
UPDATE: Thanks to you wonderful readers, it was brought to my attention to check Tejada's projections since he revealed his true age. His WARP-3 three year projection is updated in the chart and went down from 4.13 to 3.2. I'd still rate him first though even though he now drops behind Hardy and Wilson in the WARP-3 projections.
|Player||3-Year Warp-3 Average
||3 Year Warp-3 Projection
|Ryan Theriot||2.6 (2 years)||2.47||5|
|Jeff Keppinger||1.9 (2 years)||4||3|
The Justification: This one gets a bit difficult as the Reds muck up my little chart. They're going to do that a few times in this series. Alex Gonzalez is signed through 2009 with about $11 million owed to him between this year and next, plus a 2010 mutual option for $6 million. He also has a fractured left knee and a player currently playing in his place who is probably better than him. I'd dismiss Gonzalez altogether if it wasn't for the fact that he's got a contract to justify and has Dusty Baker as his manager. So what to do? Well I included them both in the chart above and if it was just Keppinger, I'd easily rank him third ahead of Jack Wilson and possibly second ahead of JJ Hardy.If it was just Gonzalez, I'd push him behind Jack Wilson for fourth (who's brilliant glovework makes up a lot for his deficient bat). Overall though, I'm guessing they share the playing time and I think the composite of the two is a just a bit better than Wilson for the three spot.
As for the rest of the rankings, Tejada still gets the nod as the top spot. He probably won't stay at shortstop for much longer or with the Astros, but stanozolol rises to the top with this weak competition. Hardy's twenty-plus homer potential and 26 years of age give him the two spot in my rankings. You can flip the three/four spots between Wilson and the Reds shortstops however you wish. I don't expect Ryan Theriot to last the season as the Cubs shortstop, either because of a trade or Ronny Cedeno taking over the job. He's only saved by the presence of Cesar's ghost in the division from being a bottom, which seems like a place Cesar is very comfortable occupying.
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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!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.