Guest Column

Soler vs. the Cubans

by CubsfaninCA

There have been a lot of opinions on the floor and ceiling for Jorge Soler since he started his career. Most agreed that he had a solid floor, but opinions on the ceiling varied and he was even described as “possibly the best in the organization, might be better than Bryant.”  I think it’s safe to say that’s not going to be the case. (If it is, he’s got some catching up to do this year already.) With most players you could easily pull up some players for comparison, but Cuban players generally have different developmental paths than most major leaguers do.

Soler has passed the 300 PA mark, so it’s typically safe to say a lot of his numbers are stabilizing to some point. He’s been heating up lately so maybe he’d fare better if I waited a couple more weeks, 300 is a nice round number. We can thus take some similar Cuban players over their first 300 PA--I actually used their first 72 games, in most cases about the same--and see how they worked out. Obviously there are some apples to oranges, especially considering the advanced age of players like Jose Abreu, but these are the 12 other significant Cuban players still in the league compared against Soler. The left side of the chart is their career numbers (thus far) and the right side is how they fared after their first 72 games, ranked by their OPS after those 72 games.

Do the Cardinals Really Know How to Draft Pitchers Better?

by CubsfaninCA

Much has been made over the Cardinals “voodoo” that suddenly takes no-name pitchers and makes them stars. They seem to do the same with some hitters on occasion, but it’s mostly the pitchers that seem to come out of nowhere.

I wondered if it’s luck or voodoo, or do they really just know how to draft and/or develop pitchers better than other teams.  So I went through the last 10 drafts and pulled out the pitchers drafted by 4 teams—the Cards, our Cubs, the Braves (who also seem to have an abundance of young pitching) and the Phillies (who lately as an organization don’t seem to be doing anything well). I listed the pitchers who got to the majors and to eliminate the cup of coffee guys, used 20 Ks as a minimum threshold.   

There were a few interesting anomalies: the Cards drafted Michael Stutes but he didn’t sign and later signed with the Phillies, the Cubs originally signed Sonny Gray but he also didn’t sign, and it was fun seeing our own Brian Schlitter’s name in another team’s column.

Best Cubs Drafts

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:

Who’s On First in 2012?

Sweet Lou brings us a guest column on what the Cubs may do at first base in 2012

It will be interesting to see who will be playing first base for the Cubs in 2012. There was talk in recent weeks that the Cubs had an interest in Albert Pujols, but that obviously didn’t materialize. Now that Pujols is headed to California, who might the Cubs turn to to fill the void at first base?

The Lee-Ramirez-Zambrano Cubs

Reader dcf (he of the Ron Santo for the Hall pieces from a few years back) stops by with a guest column on the Lee-Ramirez-Zambrano years


The August 18th trade of Derrek Lee to the Braves for three minor league pitching prospects represents not only the end of an era, but also the end (and to some extent the failure) of a long term strategy. For some time, the Cubs have built their team around three core players, Lee, Zambranoand Ramirez, allocating a large percentage of their available salary dollars to these players in long term contracts. This strategy has not yielded the results anyone would have hoped for.

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  • Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.

    billybucks 26 min 9 sec ago view
  • Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.

    billybucks 1 hour 9 min ago view
  • 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!

    billybucks 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.

    billybucks 1 hour 11 min ago view
  • Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.

    Jackstraw 1 hour 15 min ago view
  • 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.

    billybucks 1 hour 15 min ago view
  • Baez still learning

    jacos 1 hour 43 min ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 2 hours 47 min ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 3 hours 53 min ago view
  • brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.

    crunch 4 hours 42 min ago view
  • 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.

    VirginiaPhil 9 hours 12 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561343809737202839-4

    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.

    Rob G. 1 day 23 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #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

    Rob G. 1 day 28 min ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    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.

    Rob G. 1 day 33 min ago view
  • great defense

    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.

    Rob G. 1 day 45 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 1 day 56 min ago view