The Cubs are incredible drafters

In Uncategorized by myles47 Comments

I have a funny game that I'd like to play. It's no secret that the Cubs have been tremendously lucky over the past 4 years, drafting-wise (and even Almora is good from 5 drafts ago). What shocked me is just how good the Cubs have been – they could easily have not had an opportunity to take Bryant or Schwarber and ended up with them both. Happ was the 9th pick in the draft his year, and looks better than many drafted ahead of him. That got me thinking. Which package would you rather have:

Option 1

Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ

Option 2

Jon Gray, Kohl Stewart, Clint Frazier, Colin Moran, Nick Gordon, Alex Jackson, Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland, Cornelius Randolph, Tyler Stephenson, Josh Naylor, Garrett Whitley

Option 1 is who the Cubs drafted. Option 2 is the 4 players afterwards in each of the drafts. There's a lot to unpack, so let's organize those 12.

Flotsam (projected lifetime WAR of 1.0 or less)

Alex Jackson, Cornelius Randolph, Tyler Stephenson, Josh Naylor

Intriguing (org top 10, not top 101)

Kohl Stewart, Kyle Freeland, Garrett Whitley

Nice Prospects (top 101 prospects)

Clint Frazier, Nick Gordon

Role Players (bench pieces, back-end starters)

Colin Moran

Starters 

Jon Gray, Aaron Nola

Superstars

None

First, let's start with Ian Happ. I think he's probably worth all the intriguing guys and flotsam combined – in fact, the Cubs would probably need a little more than that in the theoretical trade. Still, it's close enough, and it's a 7-for-1. Stewart is probably a 7th inning guy, and Freeland (who I still like a lot) profiles as a 5th starter/Travis Wood type. Out of the other 5, you'd be surprised if you got a bench piece, but they were first rounders for a reason.

Next, let's deal with Schwarber. If the Cubs traded Schwarber, they'd clearly be able to get Gordon and Frazier, with Moran as more-or-less a throw-in. Frazier is a legit stud prospect, and Gordon is probably a starting 2B in the near future. Moran is a corner infielder on the bench, but that's still a valuable piece for a rookie contract. I don't think you could get Gray or Nola AND the rest of that package, though – just look at the price that young pitching has commanded recently.

That said, Bryant could return Gray and Nola and the Cubs would need way more to say yes to that. This seems obvious. I'm super-high on Gray, but super-high means that "I think he can solve his high-leverage problems and become a No.3 starter." Aaron Nola is a No.3 starter right now. Kris Bryant is the 2nd, 3rd or 4th best player in baseball depending on how you feel about Kershaw and Donaldson.

Put it all together, and I think you'd pretty convincingly rather have Happ, Schwarber, and Bryant over the 12 players drafted after them. That's sort of unbelievable to think about, and yet it's extremely plausible. Moreover, you'd probably agree with each one for each year:

2013 – Bryant over Gray, Stewart, Frazier, Moran (this is probably close, but edge to Bryant certainly)
2014 – Schwarber over Gordon, Jackson, Nola, Freeland (again, this is probably close, maybe even dead even, but Schwarber is the highest impact and a relative sure thing)
2015 – Happ over Randolph, Stephenson, Naylor, Whitley (this isn't close)

That's just some incredible, incredible drafting by JedCo. We are extremely fortunate.

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  1. Ryno

    NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah “would not be shocked at all” if the Redskins and 49ers agree to a trade involving Kirk Cousins at the Combine.
    — rotoworld

    Apparently the deal would be Cousins and No. 17 overall for SF’s No. 2 overall.

    Not sure how to feel about that…

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  2. EnricoPallazzo

    josh:
    Reading this article is the most attention I’ve paid to the Cubs since October. Spring training always sneaks up on me.

    oh man, that sucks…the cubs totally ended up winning the world series in november. too bad you didn’t stick around for just another few days. it was great though, i recommend looking up the youtube highlights.

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  3. Edwin

    Ryno,

    Doesn’t sound great to me, but I have no idea how good or bad Cousins is, and how valuable or not the #2 pick is in the draft this year. I’d probably hope for Washington to include either their 2nd round or 3rd pick as well. Or maybe a pick in next year’s draft? I’m trying to think back to what the Bears gave up for Cutler and how this compares.

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  4. Ryno

    Edwin,

    If Myles Garrett isn’t there, SF should try to trade out of the No. 2 pick.

    As far as Cousins, he’s not as good as most people think. To get an idea of SF’s offense under Cousins, just picture Washington’s offense with worse running backs, tight ends, running backs and offensive linemen.

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  5. EnricoPallazzo

    I’m not sure why Sosa is getting so much heat. To me, his quote reads like he is specifically NOT comparing himself to Jesus. He’s saying “Everyone shit all over Jesus, I’m nothing compared to Jesus, so obviously all of the haters are gonna dump all over me even more.”

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  6. GW

    Interesting way of looking at it. Personally, the “next four” thing doesn’t carry much weight after consensus breaks down. Opinions from the time are pretty important, and they start to flatten out pretty quickly after pick 5 or 10, depending on the draft. Also, Josh Naylor is basically Hayden Simpson.

    I give them a highest honors for Schwarber, thank God that the Astros took Appel, and don’t really have strong feelings about Happ. Almora was OK, but hindsight hasn’t been kind. Outside of the first round, it would be nice to have seen a bit more.

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  7. GW

    EnricoPallazzo,

    If those quotes were from Luke Scott instead of Sosa, would you feel the need to defend them?

    I love Sammy, and think the rift is silly. But that won’t keep me from laughing when he drops a Jesus analogy. Arguments are not soldiers.

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  8. Myles Handley

    GW:
    Interesting way of looking at it. Personally, the “next four” thing doesn’t carry much weight after consensus breaks down. Opinions from the time are pretty important, and they start to flatten out pretty quickly after pick 5 or 10, depending on the draft. Also, Josh Naylor is basically Hayden Simpson.

    I give them a highest honors for Schwarber, thank God that the Astros took Appel, and don’t really have strong feelings about Happ.Almora was OK, but hindsight hasn’t been kind.Outside of the first round, it would be nice to have seen a bit more.

    This is true. Originally the idea was to do everyone drafted before these 3, but a) definitionally the Cubs couldn’t have drafted them and b) the 2015 draft made it extremely likely that the Cubs would want the other guys.

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  9. Myles

    Schwarber LF
    Bryant 3B
    Rizzo 1B
    Zobrist 2B
    Contreras C
    Russell SS
    Heyward RF
    Jay CF
    Lester P

    Is my best guess at the opening day lineup.

    I’d prefer

    Schwarber LF
    Bryant 3B
    Rizzo 1B
    Zobrist RF
    Contreras C
    Russell SS
    Baez 2B
    Heyward CF
    Lester P

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  10. Smokestack Lightning

    Edwin:
    Sounds like the Cubs and Sosa aren’t mending fences anytime soon.That’s a shame.

    Yeah, I don’t get it. It doesn’t cost the Cubs anything to do it other than possibly some howling from Yellon and other bitter, unforgiving meatheads. Cubs would also have plenty of cover given this being the Era of Good Feelings. It’d be the classy move.

    They don’t have to make him the face of the organization again. But an invite. Sammy Sosa Appreciation Day. Throw out the first pitch. Sit in a nice seat. Done. Where’s the harm?

    But maybe there’s more to it than what I’m seeing.

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  11. dmick89

    Smokestack Lightning: But maybe there’s more to it than what I’m seeing.

    I’m sure there is, but it’s been over a decade. It doesn’t really matter what happened at this point. It’s time for the organization to get over it and appreciate Sosa for how good a ballplayer he was. They don’t have to appreciate how good a teammate he was or how good he was at sticking around on the final day of the season. Nobody can argue about whether or not he was a really good ballplayer for the Cubs and the face of the organization for nearly a decade.

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  12. Rice in limbo

    dmick89,

    There are a number of theories, including:

    1. Bad teammate
    2. Left early
    3. PEDs
    4. This one I heard and I don’t know if it’s true, but apparently people believe that Ricketts takes his cues from Kerry Wood and Wood might have said to cut Sosa off. Although this doesn’t gibe with what Wood said a while back about welcoming Sammy back, so who the fuck knows anymore…

    Actually I guess Wood said something about retiring Sammy’s number and that he belonged in HOF, but not so much about welcoming him back? It’s been a while.

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  13. Myles

    Rice in limbo:
    Myles,

    I believe Joe is considering batting the pitcher 8th again to get a man in front of Schwarber second time through, which I am not against.

    That tradeoff only makes sense if the bottom of your lineup is offensively barren. I want to reduce the number of chances a pitcher comes up to the plate when Addison Russell is on base. It doesn’t make sense to me to give the pitcher 50 extra plate appearances in a year to replace the .165 OBP of the person in front of Schwarber with the .330 OBP of Jon Jay when difference between successful plate appearances of Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber isn’t going to be 50 PA (approximately 70 points of OBP). If you need people on base in front of Schwarber so bad, bat him 2nd and put Addy in the 1 hole.

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  14. dmick89

    Rice in limbo,

    Even if all that is true, at this point the Cubs just look bad. In 2004 Sosa looked bad and was clearly in the wrong. Enough time has passed to let this shit go, but whatever. My vote doesn’t count for shit.

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  15. Rizzo the Rat

    Myles,

    I’d honestly rather see Rizzo cleaning up and Zobrist hitting third. (I mean, I’d like to see him get more at-bats, but the numbers people say the fourth spot is more important.)

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  16. Edwin

    I understand why Sosa’s comments might have made it harder. Teams expect players to play the role of apologetic prodigal son, filled with remorse over their foolish and shameful past descisions, and the Team gets to be the gracious host, accepting the player back into the fold as an act of supreme grace and charity. And the fans get to feel good that the egotystical player finally learned the errors of their ways and were punished justly for daring to believe that they were somehow better than the fans that paid good money and ate many sandwhiches in the OF bleachers to watch them play. Sosa basically said fuck that.

    I’ll freely admit that I’m biased here. Sosa became amazing when I was a kid, so he’s my favorite player ever. I put the 1998 season right up there with this past season as my favorite seasons ever. Sosa certianly could have handled things better, and if he would just swallow his pride and say “I did steroids, I’m sorry”, whether he did them or not (probably did), he’d be welcomed back fairly easily. But it would be just as easy for the Team to reach out to Sosa and simply bring him in and end this stupid fued. If they can handle the PR heat in bringing in Chapman, I see no reason why they can’t bring back Sosa.

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  17. dmick89

    Edwin: If they can handle the PR heat in bringing in Chapman, I see no reason why they can’t bring back Sosa.

    Good point. People can say what they want about Sosa, but to my knowledge, he’s nowhere near as big a piece of shit as Chapman and I was perfectly fine with the Cubs adding Chapman.

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  18. dmick89

    I was an adult when Sosa came along, but he made watching Cubs baseball fun. Even if the team sucked, it was must see baseball until you knew for sure he had his last plate appearance. Whether these fans want to admit it or not, they loved every minute of it at the time.

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  19. Berselius

    To-morrow’s base ball squadron

    Heyward RF
    Bryant 3B
    Rizzo 1B
    Zobrist 2B
    Russell SS
    Contreras C
    Jay CF
    Szczur LF
    Happ DH

    P Montgomery

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  20. Rizzo the Rat

    Rice in limbo,

    Kyle Schwarber, LF
    Javy Baez, 2B
    Jeimer Candelario, 3B
    Miguel Montero, C
    Albert Almora, CF
    Chris Dominguez, 1B
    John Andreoli, RF
    Munenori Kawasaki, SS
    Mark Zagunis, DH

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  21. Albaloney

    berselius:
    Awesome, Eloy Jiminez got into a game today

    A few really good ABs and meatball fans will be wondering if he will make the trip to St. Louis opening day.

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  22. sharpchicity

    Myles: That tradeoff only makes sense if the bottom of your lineup is offensively barren. I want to reduce the number of chances a pitcher comes up to the plate when Addison Russell is on base. It doesn’t make sense to me to give the pitcher 50 extra plate appearances in a year to replace the .165 OBP of the person in front of Schwarber with the .330 OBP of Jon Jay when difference between successful plate appearances of Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber isn’t going to be 50 PA (approximately 70 points of OBP). If you need people on base in front of Schwarber so bad, bat him 2nd and put Addy in the 1 hole.

    I think the idea is to have the most guys on base when you get to the part of the order where guys hit .300 vs when your hitter is a .250 hitter. Yeah, we kill a rally or two having the pitcher hit 8th, but we also have a few extra rallies with Schwarbryzzo up; likely having 0-1 out rather than 1-2 outs. In average run expectancy, it’s probably a wash, all things considered.

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  23. dmick89

    sharpchicity,

    From what I’ve read about it, the pitcher hitting 8th is usually a little bit better for run expectancy, but not a whole lot. It’s not so much that if the guy who hits 9th is going to take it personally that it’s worth it and until it’s more common, I’m sure every single player who hits 9th takes it personally. I can understand the benefits of the pitcher hitting 8th, but I think I’d still prefer them to be hitting 9th unless the pitcher is a really good hitter.

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