Rambling About the Cubs on the First Friday of 2013

As we open the page on 2013, I would like to echo Neil’s sentiments regarding all of the fabulous readers and posters on Chicago Cubs Online.  I would also like to thank Neil for his unparalleled commitment to this great website and what it represents.  If you only knew the amount of time he gives on a daily basis to this great love of his …

And a big thanks to Tom for his dedication to reporting on the Cubs Minor League System.  He has debuted a new twitter handle, @TheCCO_Minors, and I encourage you to follow immediately.  It is hard to believe this will be the eighth year for the CCO, and I am excited to have been a part of it since almost its inception.

Now, with that said, let’s get to a New Year’s version of rambling and hopefully create some conversation on this first Friday of 2013.

  • Either times have changed, or the Twitter era has taught us that a guy normally agrees to a contract weeks, or in fact months, before he actually signs the piece of paper.
  • I mean, I am pretty sure Napoli still isn’t officially a member of the Red Sox.
  • I like how the Cubs brass split up and went to meet two different pitchers at the same time, knowing they would only sign one.  Does Edwin Jackson care that he was second fiddle?
  • He might have, but if it were me, I would be able to get over it quickly when I received the $8 million signing bonus.
  • Trading for Justin Upton intrigues me, but I think it would take too much.
  • I will say this for Theo and Jed.  They have a clear and painstakingly detailed plan, which they won’t budge from.  Upton is not part of it.
  • At first, I was totally against the Edwin Jackson signing.  It has grown on me in the past few weeks, if only from the perspective that you can bank on him for 200 innings.
  • And, as some have speculated, his transient ways via trade could be attributed to his former agent.
  • Nate Schierholtz has never had more than 335 at-bats in a single season.  If you extrapolate out his stats from that year over a whole season, he would hit about 17 homers with close to 80 RBIs and a .280 average.  I would take that.
  • And yes, I know my previous bullet is a huge stretch.
  • If you have time, and some extra coin, research the charity David and Kim DeJesus have started in honor of a friend with ALS.  The Cubs also sent an email about this.  I respect anyone who takes free time to raise money to help the sick.
  • Speaking of David DeJesus, he had a .350 OBP last season.  That is very acceptable for someone in his pay grade.
  • Do you know what Starlin Castro’s middle name is?
  • That’s right … DeJesus.
  • See the fun things you can learn when you spend an evening on Baseball Reference’s website.
  • I think this is a very crucial season for Darwin Barney.  If he repeats his performance of 2012, he will be the Cubs second bagger for multiple years.  If he regresses, we shall see.
  • First and Short seem to be finalized for a decade while Second and Third are so much more undetermined.  It will be interesting to see what happens and how it is all handled.
  • When will we start discussing Mark Appel?  Or whoever will supposedly be the hot choice at second overall in the draft.
  • 37 days until pitchers and catchers report!!
  • And, in my selfish moment … GO IRISH!!

That is all for this Friday.  Let’s just have super radical chat about all of this below.  And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • Tony_Hall

    Does Neil put in more than 24 hours a day….because that is what it looks like it would take to keep up with everything he posts?

    It is hard to believe that people thought DeJesus was overpaid, He was and still is a good value.

    I think Barney needs to increase his AVG/OBP to be the 2B for many years. I wouldn’t put anything past him, but I am just not sure that he can do it. He may be what we think he is, a top defensive 2B with an 8 hole bat. Nothing wrong with that, but I would like to see my 2B in the 2 hole. If he can get his OBP up, he could fit there or just be a much better 8th guy. What helps us in the middle infield for batting order, is the SS is where you can justify the 8th spot and take defense and Castro will definitely be above that all of his career.

    • coolpdxcubsfan

      Judging by his work ethic and the way he plays the game, I would be very surprised if Barney doesn’t improve everything. He is awesome as a fielder, just a delight to watch. Yes, this is an important year for him and I hope he can silence all the people who love to bash him and not include him in our future.
      He has been a proven winner on every level he has played so I doubt that this one will be any different.
      I love this infield too as it develops with experience, Castro to Barney to Rizzo..

      IMHO We have many bigger question marks to settle before worrying about our gold glove 2B.

      • GaryLeeT

        In fact, I would not be surprised if Barney comes to ST a few pounds
        heavier with some added muscle, in an attempt to generate more power,
        and have more stamina throughout the season.

      • Tony_Hall

        I completely agree that Barney has a great work ethic and wouldn’t be surprised if he does improve. But it does take more than a work ethic to keep a starting MLB job, as someone will be coming up behind you that may be more talented and have a good work ethic as well. I really don’t understand the concept the if you don’t believe he is a core player you are bashing him. I would love to see the day that better players come up and replace Castro and Rizzo. It just isn’t likely to happen with them, while it is totally realistic to think that it could happen with Barney. Now if he can increase his OBP he may be a core player.

        Also, WE have no issues to settle before worrying about our gold glove 2B, as WE don’t make any decisions. The topic was brought up about Barney and whether or not he would take the next step and turn into a core player. At this point he is not there yet.

      • triple

        “IMHO We have many bigger question marks to settle before worrying about our gold glove 2B.” – Amen!

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Barney may not be a top bat. But I believe he gets timely hits. If a game was on the line and we needed someone to put a ball in play I would expect Barney to get it done. To me, he has the “clutch,” gene. Just my opinion. He’s a gamer…

      • http://www.facebook.com/rich.hood.144 Rich Hood

        He is still just Mark Lemke. A winning ball club can afford that type of player. A team that has 100 loss season and has problem scoring runs can not.

        • coolpdxcubsfan

          With all due respect, Darwin Barney is not just Mark Lemke. 246/317/324 Not even close. In 11 seasons Lemke’s war is 4.6 and that is total, in his last 3 years it was 2.0. Lemke’s highest WAR in those 11 years was 1.9 Most of the time it was 1.0 or less.

          Darwin Barney 263/305/349 and his war for last 2 1/2 years is 6.6 It was 4.6 last year and is IMPROVING.

          Barney’s fielding % last year was 99.7% in 155 games.. Lemke’s isn’t even close to that for one year. In the one year that he managed 150 games he was 98.2%

          A team that has a 100 loss season has lots of more important things to improve before worrying about this player. i.e.: OFs and 3B and C. Not to mention a bunch of questionable pitchers with no ace apparent.

          • http://www.facebook.com/rich.hood.144 Rich Hood

            I do agree that there is bigger problems than Barney on this team. What I am saying is he is just a bridge and do not get attached. I really thought he was going to get traded to Detroit last year before they Infante. On a good club he will be a back up middle infielder when it is all said and done.

      • Ripsnorter1

        We can measure the “clutch” gene in Mr. Darwin F. Barney. It’s called “Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position.”

        So let’s see what his BARISP actually is:

        .241 with RISP vs. .289 leading off an inning vs. .255 bases empty. His average is down slightly.

        But check out this slugging!
        .405 slugging RISP vs. .329 with no runners on base. If he slugged .405 all the time, he’d be an acceptable 2B. David DeJesus, who hits like a 2B, slugged .403 in 2012.

        Factor in the fact that Mr Barney had a lousy 44 RBi for the entire season, and that with 7 taters, and you can see he is not a big run producer.

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    With respect to Appel’s talents and the organization’s lack of impact pitching prospects, I’d like to see the Cubs draft the best hitter available at no. 2.
    I think the team can get at least 2 very good pitching prospects in exchange for Vogelbach if he continues to mash.

    • Rational Logic

      I think if our system were more pitching heavy I’d agree with you. We’re just creating logjams if we take another hitter with the second overall pick, even if he’s an outfielder. I think it’s imperative the Cubs take a pitcher to add some depth. I like Appel and Stanek.

      • TheWrongGuy

        I do NOT like Appel he loses many points for being our choice as number 2 overall because of his agent(Boras). He also refused to sign or even respond to being drafted by the Pirates. He loses a lot showing he is not wanting to be a part of a team. Stanek seems ok but I don’t have anything really good or bad on him. Sean Maneaa though… WOW!!! I really like him. Very athletic big size and, OWNED the NYP league. He also is from North West Indiana close to Chicago. He is left handed throws around 96mph. Still learning control of his off speed stuff.

        That’s my 2 cents!

        • 43hopping

          I also want the Cubs to pick Manaea. I think this kid has the potential to be a very good pitcher. I also like the fact that he is from my alma mater Indiana State University.

        • John_CC

          He’s certainly high on their draft chart as of now. 12:1 K ratio, 94mph fastball, leftie…yeah. Sounds like CC or Price, I’ll bet Derek Johnson will have some input on any college pitcher they draft. He did coach Price at Vandy.

    • mutantbeast

      If Vogelbach continues to show his power(and Ive seen him in person-he is an impact power bat) Id want to keep him. At worse,hes Adam Dunn, but hes actually relatively nimble for his size and has a better contact approach, I can see V-boom as a .270Ba 35Hr 100 rbi hitter.

      • daverj

        How can you say that a guy who hasn’t hit above single A has a floor of Adam Dunn’s level? At worst, Vogelbach never sniffs the major leagues. Adam Dunn’s performance levels over the last 10 years would be a high level for Vogelbach to shoot for. Of course, Vogelbach may end up better than Dunn, but it is not a likely scenario.

        • mutantbeast

          I meant IF Vbach reaches the MLB level, I can see him as an Adam Dunn-type hitter. Truth be told, I see him as potentially better, VBach does hit to all fileds, 3 of his 10hrs last year at Boise were to the opposite field. Of course he might not make it, Ive seen enough of him to think hes got a real shot.

    • DWalker

      I don’t like Appels attitude or his agent, and i even question if he’s as good as the hype as some scouts put that in doubt. However, I think a major factor in when Appel goes is if one of the early slots can sign him for signifigantly under slot. If they can, that gives them some major leverage they can use to overslot later on. This is going to be one of the few times we might actually see this situation under the new rules.

      Right now I haven’t heard anyone really putting a clear cut no contest top #1 and #2 pick, so a hitter might be best player available. Pitching is a big concern no matter how you slice it though, the club just doesn’t have enough. The other big spot to me is catcher. Be nice if a Zunino type prospect was available again this year, but at this point nobody is on the radar for a top 10 pick as a catcher. I would not be suprised if our second round pick is for one though this year.

      • John_CC

        How in the world do you think it would be possible to sign him for significantly under slot this year, with the 2nd overall pick?

        He didn’t sign last year because no one would go over slot. Boras did not advise him to go JC so that he could be drafted and signed for less this year than he would have received last year.

  • Mat B

    I have mentioned this on multiple sites, but not here. Justin Upton has committed 45 errors in the outfield in his 5 year major league career. He is a younger, less productive, less positive Alfonso Soriano. I don’t want him in a Cubs uniform.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jose.adelman Jose Adelman

    Saw this on twitter ; Shoud cubs draft M.Appel ? , yes sirrr , lets draft him. We need a solid Sp down there (farm) with Vizcaino. i dont really like what we have there, almost most of them are bullpen options. THEO DONT WASTE 2ND PICK ON A BATTER, We have almora, baez, soler, villanueva, Vogelbach,BJax and inconsistent J.Vitters

  • GaryLeeT

    I know the Cubs are desperate for pitching, but I would hate to see them sign a pitcher out of college. Without doing any research to back me up, it just makes sense that someone who spends all their time in a professional system, would be that much further ahead at the same age as the college player. And albeit it’s usually more brief, the college guy still has to go through the minors. I can’t think of any pitching stars with staying power, that were drafted out of college. In fact, when I think of Mark Appel, I think of Mark Prior. Heck, he even looks like him.

    • cubs4ever

      How about David Price?

  • Tom U

    Thank you for the shout out, Brian!

  • SuzyS

    Hey Brian, Thanks for the Ramblings!
    Yes, it’s a crucial season for Barney…but with all the infield options in the minors…I’m not sure either way that Barney will be with us long.
    I like Barney a lot…but something tells me not to get to attached to any ONE player on the team with team Theo in charge. Nevertheless, I’d love to see Barney pick up his offense a bit.

  • SuzyS

    I think we can do better than Appel by the time the draft comes around again.
    I’d love to see him drop out of the top twenty for signability reasons. It would make Boras look bad…and I’m all for that. Appel has no real fall back position this year…he’s a senior…he either signs or goes someplace else like Japan…either way…it will be really interesting to see where he falls to in this year’s draft.

  • Ripsnorter1

    To get those 17 homers via your math, it would take Mr. Schierholtz 650 ABs. Castro led the Cubs in ABs last year with 646. No one else got even 600. Soriano got 561 (that surprised me; I thought he got only 500. Shows you what good health can do). Barney got 546 and DeJesus got 506. Then Lahair (340) and Rizzo (337), and Valbuena (265), Mather (225), while Everyone else was in the 100’s or less.

    Schierholtz hit .175 vs LHP in 2012 with .238 slugging.

    He hit .234 in 2011 vs. LHP, but again, with no power.297 slug.

    He’s better than Joe Mather. I’ll give him that. But Joe Mather wasn’t a starter, either.

  • triple

    Take a look at Omar Vizquel’s numbers from his 1993 season with the Mariner’s. He was 26 (just like Barney was this last season) and won his first Gold Glove award that year, just like Barney did. Seattle traded him to Cleveland after that season for Felix Fermin, Reggie Jefferson, and cash. Did that return do anything for the Mariner’s future? I think it’s a sad mistake for anyone to think Barney needs to be replaced. He’s a player with 4 more years of team control who is just coming into his prime years. With the exception of Omar stealing 6 more bases (although he also was thrown out over 50% of his attempts), and his 17 more BB’s than Barney, which accounts for Omar’s OBP being .020 higher, they are basically the same player. And Barney isn’t a high strikeout guy, so I think as he matures (and learns the league’s pitchers better) he will be taking more walks and raise his OBP.

    I don’t see Theo and Jed trading away a player like Barney until there is a “sure thing” replacement waiting in the wings who can play above average defense and hit for power and average. And if that happens in the next 4 years, I could see them keeping Barney as a middle infielder off the bench, unless Darwin Barney’s value is so high then, that they can actually receive good prospects or fill a another hole in trading him.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Unless someone wants to part with a high end pitcher, Barney won’t be going anywhere. That is really the only move that makes sense. We have a lot of options at every hitting position except catcher. Detroit would be ideal with a Smyly for Barney swap but that is extremely unlikely to happen without at least more pieces involved.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rich.hood.144 Rich Hood

      A couple problems with your little comparison. One Visquel played Short and was replaced by AROD. Two Felix Fermin AND Reggie Jefferson were top prospects. Three this will be Barneys age 27 season not 26. Four and most important. Visquel was already compared to Ozzie Smith defensively when he was traded.

      Your comparison though nice is way too off on the subjects. Barney is no Omar there will never be another guy who can literally take over a game defensively then teach himself to be a hitter good enough to get 2900 hits. It is like all other comparisons to players that have played before. If you want to look at a player to compare Barney to look at Mark Lemke because that is closer to who he is and will be.

      A team that looses 100 games can not afford to have a defense first 2nd baseman it is an offensive position.

      • triple

        Rich, here’s my thoughts back for you. I’m not trying to argue anything with my “little” comparison….just good conversation about baseball comparisons. With stats, I believe history shows us a lot of truths, while nothing in the future is guaranteed. I wasn’t trying to say that Barney will become Omar Vizquel, but that history shows that he has that potential, much more than the potential of being a Mark Lemke. Barney already has one more Gold Glove than Lemke achieved.

        1. Arod wasn’t a full-time player till ’96, that’s 3 years later. And as far as SS/2B, don’t they both basically serve the same purpose in the game today? Solid defense up the middle and hit for average and power.

        2. Top prospects that didn’t pan out, probably the same kind of prospects the Cubs can get for Darwin.

        3. I never said Barney will be 26 this season. I was talking about Barney’s season he just played at the age of 26. Just like Vizquel’s in ’93 at age 26.

        4. People are just now starting to realize who Darwin Barney is. Brandon Phillips learned the hard way. And obviously Omar was a way flashier/spectacular defensive player than Barney, but Barney just proved he can play D as effectively as any infielder has ever played the game.

        I don’t see the likeness to Lemke, especially when you compare WAR. Barney’s WAR from his age 26 season: oWAR=1.3 and dWAR=3.6. Lemke, also in ’93 (same year I was talking about Omar), but Lemke’s age 27 season had his best dWAR of 2.2 (his only season it was over 2), while oWAR of -0.1 (never had a positive one while Barney’s at least has been positive for the last 2 years). Hell, Barney’s WAR over his 2.25 seasons adds up to 6.6, while Lemke’s WAR over 11 seasons adds up to 4.7. So that’s not even close!!! Now compare Barney and Vizquel, both from their ages 24-26 seasons:

        Vizquel: WAR 7.3, dWAR 7.0, oWAR 3.2
        Barney: WAR 6.6, dWAR 4.8, oWAR 2.5

        Keep in mind that Vizquel also played a little over a 100 games more than Barney did in the majors during that 3 year span, so that would account for Vizquel’s numbers being a little bigger.

        Just for good measure here’s Lemke’s career: WAR 4.7, dWAR 9.9, oWAR -3.3

        As far as a 100 loss team not being able to afford having a defensive 2nd baseman in an offensive position. The FO seems to want the best defense they can get on the field because that will help with the severe pitching deficiency. Have you seen the Cubs play defense in the last 20 years? The Cardinals field way better defensive teams and they are in the playoffs almost every year and win championships (God I hate admitting that)! Do you not think that Rizzo and DeJesus have improved our defense? Is it just a coincidence that this was the year a Cubs coach actually motivated Soriano to play better defense?

        And as far as “there will never be another guy who can literally take over a game defensively then teach himself to be a hitter good enough to get 2900 hits.” I’ve always thought Michael Jordon’s career would be untouchable, but Kobe Bryant and LeBron James sure both will make a pretty good case by the end of their careers as well.

        • triple

          I want to ask a question Rich, did you actually look at all 3 ballplayer’s stats, or did you just go off of the deception of memory, perception, and opinion?

      • RynoTiger

        what’s your obsession with mark Lemke?
        check baseballreference.com. AT age 26, Billy Doran and Tommy Herr are closer comparisons for Barney. Lemke isn’t even listed within the top 10.
        work on your statistical reference jabs before making them.

    • Tony_Hall

      I think you are the first one to argue for keeping Barney that understands “until there is sure thing replacement waiting in the wings”.

      One there are no absolute sure things, but there will be very good players coming up that play middle infield who will push and possibly push out Barney.

      2B is not SS. 2B has more offensive minded players than SS, even as there are more SS who can provide good offense the last few years.

      Your comparison to a SS just doesn’t work for me. It would be like comparing LF and RF since they are both corner OF’s.

      I feel he will be traded at some point and hopefully well before he starts to cost higher dollars in arbitration. 1st year will be not too bad, but far too much to pay a defensive glove, if he hasn’t raised his OBP to a more respectable level.

      2B is a position that should be easy for a team who is loaded in the minors at 2B, SS and 3B prospects to fill. We should use it as a way to bring up the best, raise their value, then flip them when they start to get expensive in arbitration years for more prospects. Unless a Cano comes are way this would be a very effective way to fill 2B and continue to fill our system with more prospects.