Rambling About the Cubs While Hoping for a New Day

Hello again, everybody. It is just not getting any better. Maybe it will, but it is rough right now. Yes, this is Captain Obvious saying ‘hello.’

There was a legion of fans supporting Tom, Theo and Jed, but that group is winnowing, and the sharks are out in full force now. It’s an interesting conversation to be had, but I still do not think many fans understand how empty the cupboards were when Hendry departed. However, to be fair to those with which I do not agree, it is bad today. Very bad. And I think some of us thought it would have started to improve by now.

So, with that said, let’s get down to the BRASS TACKS, and start rambling.

Hey, at least someone in the Ricketts’ family won in the past 48 hours. So that is a good thing. This is a joke, and in no way does it invite a political rant from either side.

Jason Hammel came back to earth Thursday. My guess is that we will see this more often moving forward. I hope I am wrong.

17 runs in one game for one of the worst offensive teams in baseball. Only in baseball does this make sense.

No one has truly succeeded in life without failing. Abraham Lincoln is a great model for that statement. So let’s stop freaking about about Baez.

The time to freak out about this is over a year away. Let the kid learn. Let the kid grow. Let the kid develop.

I was about to write, “Please correct me if I am wrong,” but then I remembered this audience. I know you will correct me. I do not believe any current Cubs’ prospect in the past ten years has ever been in the top-10, until recently.

  • Bobby Brownlie, Felix Pie, Corey Patterson, Sean Gallagher, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters … do I need to go on …
  • None of them were in the Top-10, or Top-20, of all prospects in baseball.  Let’s just take a breath and see what happens.
  • There are people truly freaking out about a 21-year-old six weeks into the MiLB season. That is simply insane.
  • Might I remind us all that on May 16 of 2009, most Cubs fans had no idea who Starlin Castro was.
  • On May 16 of 2010, the guy was the Cubs “savior.”  We all need to slow our role a bit. Or a lot.
  • On the other hand, Kris Bryant is the greatest player ever and will be a Hall-Of-Fame player for the Cubs.
  • Sounds eerily similar to what I heard about Rizzo and Baez in recent years.
  • Speaking of Anthony Rizzo, the star-turned-disappointment-turned-star-turned-disappointment … turning back to star.
  • You see what I did there?
  • We all want to pontificate. We all want to pretend we can see the future. We all want to think we know more than the other person. The truth is, none of us know anything. We can only react to what we watch. So I implore everyone to just watch and see what happens.
  • And it’s that time in the Ramblings when we focus on stats, so here goes:
  • Rizzo’s OBP is 125 points higher than his batting average. That is simply huge and shows great progression.
  • Mike Olt may be the next Rob Deer, but let’s hope he can figure out his batting average. The power he has is ridiculous.
  • And finally, if I am wrong, please tell me, but would you rather have Matt Garza … or Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez and C.J. Edwards?
  • Personally, I like the latter, but we shall see.  And yes, I understand I should have included Chris Archer in that, but, in the end, I think the Cubs win out with what they acquired for Garza. So, in a way, as empty as Hendry left the cupboard, he gave those that followed him a key cog to restock it.

I hope all of you have a simply phenomenal weekend.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • BillyFinT

    Brian, good to see you back in full force. Well, when the truth is “none of us know anything. We can only react to what we watch,” then it’s not fair to say any prospect has at least a 50-50 chance of making it (*).

    (*I’m paraphrasing Bill James, whom I know you know he knows nothing as well.)

    That’s what Terry Ryan thought about David Ortiz when he ditched the big man for nothing. That’s what Lasorda thought about Pedro Martinez not serviceable in any form. You can be a smart GM, or you can be an adamant cock, and make the same mistake. It doesn’t matter, right? Because none of us know.

    They should know. If Watkins can play, call him up. Play someone else at third base. Move the line along. Promote younger players. If one fails, then send him back to the Minor. Fix that one thing. If he improved and protected his weakness, then see if he excels in that skill between May and October. Call him up again.

    That’s what a 162-game season is for a rebuilding ballclub. The WHOLE FREAKING CLUB must improve, and show SIGN-s of winning. You don’t “Rebuild” because you want to lose more. You rebuild so you can win for a long, long while. All the men on your roster, not just one team or one man. I rest my case.

    May the Force be with y’all. And also with me. I’m not Catholic, by the way, and this is not a mass.

  • Tony_H

    I agree with you on the no one has succeeded in life without failing. Most of the time, you learn more from failing then succeeding.

  • Tony_H

    I will take the latter, especially since both Garza and Archer are in the 5 range for ERA and mid 1.4’s in WHIP so far this year. Theo and Jed pulled this one out and brought back major league ready talent.

    CJ Edwards was the centerpiece, yet Ramirez, Grimm and Olt have all made it to the majors already. I wouldn’t be surprised if on or both of Ramirez and Grimm get a chance to start later this season after we trade off 2 or 3 of our rotation.

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

      I will take the latter as well. Although Archer is a pretty good pitcher.

    • GaryLeeT

      Being Major League ready talent on the worst team in baseball, is a pretty low threshold.

      • Tony_H

        Just shocked that you have a pessimistic opinion.

        • GaryLeeT

          I am not being pessimistic, just realistic. Exhibit A, John Baker is in a ML uniform.

          • Tony_H

            You are the poster child for pessimism, no different than Board and I are for optimism.

          • GaryLeeT

            You’re wrong, again. It is psychologically impossible to be a Cub fan, and not posses an infinite amount of optimism.

          • Tony_H

            You seem to find a way to break that rule on almost every single post.

          • GaryLeeT

            However, you could easily make a case for masochist.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Ain’t that the truth!

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

    Been thinking the same thing about Hammel. Trade this guy ASAP! I hope he comes out and has a couple good starts in June and gets some value back up and they unload him.

    I don’t think we’ve gotten even a glimpse of how good Rizzo can be. His potential is off the charts.

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  • raymondrobertkoenig

    I’d say the “rebuild” is going just as new ownership and the new FO planned. Put money into player development and Wrigley Field while putting a 25-man roster together that will succeed in getting higher draft picks and more slot money.

    • GaryLeeT

      Wrigley Field?

      • raymondrobertkoenig

        Giving them the benefit of the doubt there.

        • cc002600

          Why ? This goat rodeo with the rooftops has been going on for 3 years now and still no agreement.

          Heck, at this rate, you might as well just wait for the contract with the rooftops to expire. I thinks that’s in 10 years or so.

          • GaryLeeT

            Goat rodeo. Ha! good one.

  • GaryLeeT

    When Hendry left, the Cubs had the 16th ranked farm system. I would not call that bare. Castro, Rizzo (via Cashner), Castillo, Baez, Samardzija, all Hendry picks. Plus, his farm was stocked without the benefit of the Cubs being perennial losers.

    • cubtex

      add Travis Wood(via Marshall) Rosscup, Vogelbach and others. 3 years later and blame is still given to Hendry :)

      • cc002600

        did you see that article from Tom Verducci that I posted last night ? That was all for you :-)

        It was all about how the torque and strain (“or the stress of violent pitching” as he calls it) that hard throwers put on their elbows and shoulders will almost always lead to blowing out their arms. Its just simple physics. Which is why we’re seeing this latest epidemic of TJ surgeries. He thinks they should lower the mound again. I agree.

        I also thought his thoughts on the pace of the game, higher strikeouts & walks. less offense, etc were also interesting. I think he hit the nail on the head. I totally agree with him. The games are so much harder to watch now. You have 2-1 games lasting 3 1/2 & 4 hours. Its crazy.

        Here it is again.
        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20140513/jose-fernandez-miami-marlins-injury/index.html

        • cubtex

          yes. I agree with a lot of that but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t draft hard throwers. What team has ever won a WS with a bunch of soft tossers?
          The games are much harder to watch now because the strike zone is soooooo small and you have players like Valbuena who only is in the show because they take pitch after pitch.

          • cc002600

            Agree. But I think its better to have those hard throwers be in the bullpen. I just think that hard throwers as starters will eventually break down. 200+ innings of that stress will eventually take its toll. Not saying you shouldn’t have ANY hard throwing starters, but I guess you just have to expect their arms will eventually blow out. sad.

            As far as the strike zone being smaller, I think you are right, but I don’t think that’s wrong. I thought it was wrong when catchers would setup outside, and the umps would call a strikes that were 9 inches off the plate. That wasn’t fair or right. I just think there are more strikeouts now because these guys are throwing so hard now. Like Verducci said, you have these bullpen specialists coming in and there are sooooo many of them that throw 95+ now. That used to be rare, not so much anymore.

            I really don’t like this brand of baseball right now. Its MUCH harder to watch, we agree on that. Baseball is fun to watch when the ball is in play.

          • Sonate

            I agree. I also agree with one of the main points of the article — lower the mound. An increase in the strike zone might reduce the number of pitches thrown (and perhaps injuries), but it would also reduce offense — and bring back memories of Gibson with an ERA of just over 1.00 and YAZ winning a batting title hitting something like .301. Bleah!

          • cubtex

            look at some old Bob Gibson video and the strike zone back then. Anything close was a strike. Games were 1:45 when he pitched and batters new they needed to swing the bat.

          • cc002600

            Well, another difference between now and then is the amount of commercials between innings. Its just ridiculous today. Anything to make more money now, but they are losing the younger generation to the other sports. Its VERY short-sighted. and very dumb. You can thank uncle Bud for that. The first thing he always quotes is the amount of revenue the game now brings in. Great, but is the game better ? In some ways, yes, but in many other ways, no.

          • Bryan

            I also think that the pace of the game can be improved if every darn player didn’t back out after every pitch, adjust the gloves, take their practice swings, take their time to dig back in, etc. The umps need to move the at-bats along.

          • BillyFinT

            Yup, 20 seconds in every move like that. A few broadcasters such as NESN and YES already timed their pitchers. Quite astonishing how much each can add up. The real problem I think is pitching change.

            A manager signals the catcher to talk. The Catcher stalled and walked slowly to the pitcher. The umpire walks toward them and stares, the manager strolls like an afternoon dog-walk to the mound. He signals. He talks. The reliever makes one more pitch in the bullpen, he walks slowly to the mound.

            The reliever pitches 5 more. The ground crew cleans up stuff. Home team entertainment like the Friar and Despicable Marlins send out their cheerleaders. The pitcher walks away from the mound. The umpire signals the game starts. The pitcher walks back…

            That takes too long. The game is screwed everytime they relieve a pitcher. How boring it can be for international viewers, you can imagine, who can’t imagine what really goes on the ballpark as I described. And my description was only partial.

          • cc002600

            I agree with your points. But it seems to me that has been going on forever. There is a difference today then say just 5 or 10 years ago. To me, its the huge increase in walks and strikeouts, and the numbers bear that out. PLUS the length of commercials in between innings. They need to do something, because younger people are not watching baseball they were when we were kids. If the MLB powers that be don’t understand that, they are really stupid, which I’m sure is the case.

          • BillyFinT

            Starting pitchers were expected to finish games before the 90s. Before 90s, games ended in two-plus hours. Now, three-plus. It was one-plus hour in 1910. It’s a rapid pile of time wasted between the 90s and 21st Century. And more pitching changes these days than say, the 90s. Now all teams carry a situational leftie-pitcher AND a situational rightie. Managers relieve three pitchers in one inning. It’s ridiculously time-consuming.

          • cc002600

            Agree !! We need more offense, not less. I’m not saying I want to go back to the steroid era, cause that wasn’t real, but there are too many 2-1 games, and they are taking forever.

          • cubtex

            we agree on that. I do not like the brand of baseball right now either. All these hitters taking pitch after pitch. Umps calling balls on pitches that are strikes and hittable pitches. This saber stuff is ruining the game imo.

      • John_CC

        What? Wood and Rosscup were not there when Hendry left, I don’t understand your point.

        • cubtex

          did you read GaryLee’s post? It was to disagree how bare the cupboard was when Hendry left. Sean Marshall was brought up through the “barren” farm system and was turned into Travis Wood. Zac Rosscup came in the Garza deal,

          • John_CC

            Sorry but Marshall was a major leaguer, not part of the farm system when Hendry left. The point Brian made was that the system was bare when Hendry left, nothing to do with the guys on the ML team that came up through. Otherwise you might as well add Garza because he was aquired with Archer, etc.

            Doesn’t matter, stoopid pointless stuff. Everyone know the farm system was very weak and devoid of players coming up through.

          • GaryLeeT

            What’s stupid is saying that a team with a 16th ranked farm system had its cupboards bare. Maybe all that winning Hendry did had something to do with not getting all those can’t miss prospects.

          • BillyFinT

            The problem was that when GM Hendry claimed in 2010 that he was one or two moves away from making to the postseason, he was truly not. The farm was already bare by then. No depth. Two top prospects who made it, so what?

            The farm had little to show by 2011, and going to be bare for two more seasons if Hendry & The Smallest Front Office that he amassed dutifully carried on his wishful plan for another season.

            You know what they say, be careful of you wished for. And that’s coming from a baseball observer who wished Hendry fired. I got my wish alright, and I would wish for it again if Back To The Time.

          • John_CC

            I don’t many people who would brag about being 16th out of 30.

            I meant that all the nitpicking was stupid and me spending my time doing it. So it was mostly directed at myself.

            But claiming that the farm system was not weak because Epstein (how dare he!) made an incredibly shrewd trade with a player that was on the ML team is beyond comical.

            So I guess you are calling Brian stupid since it was his bullet point that the cupboards were bare. I was simply responding to a comment that was too much of a stretch to let go without reply.

            For the record, the Cubs record was 749-748 under Jim Hendry’s leadership. The mark of true mediocrity!

          • GaryLeeT

            5 out of 8 winning seasons, 3 first place finishes, “hope” every year but the last, and it all seems like it was a lifetime ago. I would LOVE to see a mediocre team right about now.

          • Tony_H

            I didn’t have hope the last 2 seasons. It was obviously time to rebuild the team. Because he didn’t do it on the fly is what has created the need to completely rebuild the organization.

          • cubtex

            Excuses Excuses Excuses. 3 years in and look at what Boy Wonder has accomplished.

          • John_CC

            Right. And so you are trying to argue that because Sean Marshall, a failed started who became a really good relief pitcher (for a few seasons), came up with the Cubs that somehow this is proof that the entire Cubs farm system was in good shape?

            Or are you saying that Epstein took one good player with little value to a losing team (relief pitcher on the losing team he inherited) and turned him into a good starting pitcher and good relief pitcher that it proves the entire Cubs farm system was in good shape?

          • cubtex

            Right…..And Theo inherited the most difficult job in baseball and no one could have done a better job over the last 3 years. hahaha.

        • GaryLeeT

          Don’t understand the point? Saying the farm system was bare when Hendry left, is implying he didn’t know why he was doing. That is just plain false, hence the examples of success. As I am you sure you are well aware of, most prospects just don’t make it, even ones that look promising at some point in their Minor League careers, like Jackson, and Vitters.

  • John_CC

    While there are a lot of people that do honestly freak out over Baez and even Almora’s slow starts, to be fair there are others that are simply pointing out that Baez may not – probably will not – be the Cubs savior that nearly everyone is piling the hope onto this kid. I am not freaking out about him, more realizing that if he doesn’t make some very big adjustments he will not be the savior of the Cubs, and certainly not this year or even next.

  • Tony_H

    Here was a description of the Cubs farm system from the off-season before 2011 when JH got fired. It also includes Archer, Lee, Guyer and Chirinos to get to the 16th ranking people use as a bench mark for what Theo inherited.

    “Castro is a fantastic young hitter who will compete for batting titles and add power to his game, but he’ll likely need to slide over the second base by the second part of the decade, as he has a thick lower half and is just an average runner. Cashner could be a late-inning reliever, but the Cubs spent so much time and effort with developing him as a starter, and it would be a shame to see that work go to waste. Colvin hit 20 home runs and slugged .500 as a rookie to prove that 2009’s breakout was for real, but he doesn’t hit for average, swings at everything, and as a corner outfielder and/or first baseman, his offense is still below average. DeWitt was a constant source of frustration in the Dodgers system as a first-round pick who looks like he should really hit but never does. By being on this list, at least age is on his side.

    Summary: While the Cubs’ system is a deep one that will produce plenty of big-league talents, the team still needs to look outside the organization for the kind of impact talent to turn their fortunes around.”

    • GaryLeeT

      Hey, thanks for the backup.

      • Tony_H

        Not sure how it backed up your claim. It says no impact talent and deep in future major leaguers (remember John Baker is a major league ballplayer). And it was before we traded away 3 of the top 11 prospects to get Garza.

        • GaryLeeT

          “While the Cubs’ system is a deep one that will produce plenty of big-league talents”

          • Tony_H

            Yes, like John Baker.

          • Tony_H

            Some current examples to help you understand what they mean in prospect talk about when they say major league players.

            14. Wellington Castillo, C: He has a plus arm and power; and could turn into nice backup or second-division starter.

            18. Darwin Barney, UT: He’ll never be a star, will rarely start, but Barney could play a decade in the majors

          • John_CC

            Mike Fontenot, Matt Murton, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Theriot, Jon Leicester, Sergio Mitre, Roberto Novoa, Glendon Rusch…

            Should I go on with all the MLB “talent” hidden deep in the Cubs system in the early to mid-2000s? Because these are the actual talents that made it!

            Here is the “hopeful” 2005 roster…look that OF! Makes me actually feel better about the current OF.
            Burnitz – CP – Hollandsworth. Wow, talk about exciting! HA!

          • GaryLeeT

            Now you are just performing some weird exercise in mental masturbation. You could make a list like that with any MLB team’s draft picks, or a roster in a down year.

          • triple

            Yes, you are right, you can make a list off all the failed prospects, but you are unable to make a list of all the Cubs successful prospects.

          • GaryLeeT

            You do realize of course that NONE of those players you listed at the beginning are Hendry draft picks, and are all but Murton and Rusch, were McFail acquisitions, right? And Tony hopped right in your lap on that?

          • Tony_H

            Even worse, that starts JH list out without even them.

            Down year….I think it was a down decade for the farm system.

          • triple

            Please… pretty please, with sugar on top, go ahead and list all the major league talent from the Jim Hendry run Cubs farm system who are consistently putting up worthy numbers on a year to year basis in the major leagues? He was around for about 10 years, so I’m sure there’s “plenty of big league talents” that are playing around the majors now… Please fill me in as to who these players are? I’ll even start and give you the first one… Starlin Castro.

          • GaryLeeT

            If you had read all of the comments, you would have seen several names brought up, but I am not going to do more work than that, it’s not worth my time. I mean, you would also have to also consider every transaction made with that draft pick(Choi for D.Lee), which is certainly should be part of the equation. However, I will tell you that only 17.2% of all drafted players make it to the Majors, and of course you would have to half that when you ask for those who are better than average.

          • triple

            Hahahaha… that is such a laughable response. You can’t think of any more. You backed yourself into a corner of an impossible task, and that’s your response? Just throw out some BS line like “17.2% of all drafted players make it to the Majors.” Well then if the Cubs signed even 20 players a year that they drafted over 10 years (and we all know I’m being fair and that is a low number / could be closer to 30 actually) of the Jim Hendry regime, then there should be about 35 players during the JH era that should be playing in the majors on a regular basis… who are all these players?

            And yes I did read your previous comments before commenting the first time…. time to get real with yourself instead of deflecting towards others. Yes, you listed Castro, Rizzo (via Cashner), Castillo, Baez, and Samardzija, since you are needing to rely on Jim Hendry’s fleecing trades of the Marlins (D. Lee), let’s include the Pirates and call Bobby Hill (A. Ramirez) a success too then. But by your own “fact” of “17.2%,” it should be pretty easy to rattle off at least 10 to 15 of the 17.2% percent of Hendry’s drafted picks who made it to the majors and have successful careers. Come on man! You are a big baseball and Cubs fan, surely you can come up with more than those guys. We are not talking about digging up all the failed prospects as we know there are thousands of them (although we do know you prefer to focus on the negative), just tell us who the successful major leaguers are who Hendry drafted.

  • Ripsnorter1

    In 2013, the ChiSox had the #30 ranked MiL system in all of baseball.
    They produced some impact pitching talent, and turned that (as well as Jake Peavy) into some interesting young position players in 2014.

    Hahn did a good job in turning a 99 game losing team into one that at least is competitive and interesting to watch.