I was intrigued by the recent ESPN article that proclaimed the 1968 Los Angeles Dodgers draft to be the best ever. The Dodgers picks that year were exceptional. All told across the various January and June drafts, the Dodgers drafted and signed EIGHT players that would go on to have successful major league careers. They are listed below with their career WAR according to Baseball Reference:
I found some old photos in a box.
Crappy, from an old point and shoot in the pre-digital days.
I asked a buddy if he thought that was crazy Mitch Williams on the mound for the Cubs, he said he thought it was Rod Beck.
And then I simply had to find out what the shots were from.
I scanned 'em at high resolution and you know what? Fuzzy shots scanned at high resolution still look pretty fuzzy. But blown way up you'll see two #30's (starting pitchers) in the shot of the scoreboard. That would be Geremi Gonzalez and Todd Stottlmyre.
The batters, of course you'll remember Cardinal #25 and Cub #21.
With Derrek Lee's departure to the South and front running Braves, the Cubs lost one of their finest players over the last 30 years. But just how fine was he?
I think we can agree that since 1980 (arbitrary cutoff by me, live with it) that Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa are your top two Cubs depending on how much you want to dock Sosa for his alleged indiscretions. That leaves a quartet of Cubs vying for spots 3-7 among position players: Mark Grace, Andre Dawson, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.
Let's go to the HTML table:
Although the season ended in disappointment, the Cubs seemed to have something to build on after a mostly successful 2001 and a farm system rated as one of the best in the leagues with up and coming prospects like Corey Patterson, Carlos Zambrano, Juan Cruz, Hee Seop Choi, Mark Prior, Ben Christensen, Dave Kelton and Bobby Hill.
The New Year is fast approaching which means it's time for everyone's year in review articles. This year we get the added bonus of the end of decade. Due to the baseball schedule and offseason, I'll be looking at each individual season from the end of the previous season to the end of that season. Let's travel through the looking glass together and remember simpler times.
As much as I dread the current All-Star break, I was a fan once upon a time. Back before interleague play, having kids and cable television, the Midsummer Classic was a guilty pleasure to get a chance to see how our Cubbies did against the best of the best.
So part of the glacially-paced Wiklifield project, I put together this page that slices and dices the Cubs All-Star appearances. Some fun facts after the jump...
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.