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 Post subject: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:25 am 
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Before Theo and company had a chance to revamp the organization, BA's projected 2015 line-up looked like this:

Catcher - Geovany Soto
First Base - Dan Vogelbach
Second Base - Zeke DeVoss
Third Base - Javier Baez
Shortstop - Starlin Castro
Left Field - Josh Vitters
Center Field - Matt Szczur
Right Field - Brett Jackson

No. 1 Starter Matt Garza
No. 2 Starter Andrew Cashner
No. 3 Starter Trey McNutt
No. 4 Starter Dillon Maples
No. 5 Starter Dae-Eun Rhee

Closer - Carlos Marmol

After a year at the helm, here's the roster BA projects for 2016:

Catcher - Welington Castillo
First Base - Anthony Rizzo
Second Base - Starlin Castro
Third Base - Jeimer Candelario
Shortstop - Javier Baez
Left Field - Brett Jackson
Center Field - Albert Almora
Right Field - Jorge Soler

No. 1 Starter Jeff Samardzija
No. 2 Starter Matt Garza
No. 3 Starter Arodys Vizcaino
No. 4 Starter Edwin Jackson
No. 5 Starter Pierce Johnson

Closer - Juan Carlos Paniagua

3/5ths of the rotation (4/5ths if you credited the FO for the successful transition of Samardzija from reliever to TOR starter), 2/3rds of the OF, their closer and a cornerstone 1B in one year. What will year two bring...?

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:34 am 
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Castro moving to 2B for Baez, I can't see that happening.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:41 am 
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Tryptamine wrote:
Castro moving to 2B for Baez, I can't see that happening.

Yeah there's a very small chance of that happening, something really weird would have to happen like Castro injuring something that would impact his speed/range/throwing strength or putting on like 30+ lbs and becoming to big for the position, imo. Baez will be the one who moves off of SS to one of 2B/3B/LF/RF in all likelihood.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:35 am 
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Nice contrast. Theo's had some comments about the poverty of rotation pitching. Man, nothing highlights that more clearly than the inclusion of Rhee and McNutt in BA's list last winter.

A fun game is to look at a list now, and guess which several guys are most likely to be off the list next year.
At first it's easy to distinguish likely core pieces (Castro, Rizzo, Samardz if health permits....) from guys who seem shaky to be long-term assets But interesting that some of the weaker candidates, there isn't much depth behind.

LF Jackson: most likely to be off, clock is ticking. But, not likely that we'll spend a premium pick on an outfielder, and there isn't much for 3rd outfielder prospects in the system. So if Jackson struggles, but we don't acquire a serious young OFer from outside, who might replace him? Szczur? Martin? Schierholz? Or wold they put some good-bat who's currently an infielder like Vogelbach? Candelario? Not a compelling group of Jackson alternatives. Jackson might have a mediocre but not awful season and possibly still show up next year.

C Castillo: I'm not sold that he's really going to be a keeper as a starting catcher, offensively or defensively. But if he doesn't look good, we've got nobody this side of the draft to consider. If we don't spend a high pick on a catcher, Castillo could have a pretty disappointing year but still return to that list next year.

Candelario: Obviously pretty iffy whether he'll hit so well and also show enough defensive progress to make the list again. (I sure hope so, it would be awesome if he advances to full season and improves his hitting enough to still project like a middle-of-the-order bat, while at the same time improving his defense enough to still look plausible at 3B.) But zillions of options here, in case he doesn't impress. Assuming Baez justifies his big-prospect status, and BA finally accepts Castro as a SS, then Baez can list at either 2B or 3B. So basically the 3rd infielder spot could go to whichever of Candelario/Vitters/Stewart/Villanueva/Barney/Watkins/Torreyes/Amaya/Lake/draft-pick looks best. Seems like plenty of options there.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:29 am 
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Tryptamine wrote:
Castro moving to 2B for Baez, I can't see that happening.


I really appreciate what BA does and the thought they put into it. But they are sometimes slow to change an opinion. They've had this idea for years that Castro would outgrow SS.

I have heard people think that Baez SS/Castro 2B might actually be a better defensive alignment than the reverse. (Although maybe that was Arizona Phil...). Probably unrealistic, though. Teams don't move established SS's for an upcoming prospect whose defensive profile isn't really very different than that of the established SS.

There was a post in the convention thread saying that Castro looked a lot bigger.
Quote:
Anyone see Castro? Looks like he's beefed up considerably.
If so, hopefully that's good muscle that will help his power, at no expense to his defense. But despite already being a 3-year veteran, he's still only 22, an age where a lot of guys are getting heavier. Perhaps BA's notion that he'll outgrow SS will be vindicated. It may be that Castro will need to fight to keep himself slim enough to maintain his SS defense, but that fight will come at the expense of some power. If so, and if Baez can basically replace the slim-Castro defense, then perhaps letting Castro beef up into a 20-30 HR guy at 2B rather than a 15-HR guy at SS might be well worth it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:44 pm 
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Your right, this is a fun game...

craig wrote:
LF Jackson: most likely to be off, clock is ticking. But, not likely that we'll spend a premium pick on an outfielder, and there isn't much for 3rd outfielder prospects in the system. So if Jackson struggles, but we don't acquire a serious young OFer from outside, who might replace him? Szczur? Martin? Schierholz? Or wold they put some good-bat who's currently an infielder like Vogelbach? Candelario? Not a compelling group of Jackson alternatives. Jackson might have a mediocre but not awful season and possibly still show up next year.

If what Hyde mused at the convention comes to pass, Vogelbach is the clear choice here. Of course, he still has to continue to produce at the higher levels, but since we are projecting anyway, he tops the possibilities for me. With the FO's emphasis on defense, about the only position that will be allowed to be average or below would be LF. That would bring Candelario in as a possible LFer of the future. If both those guys fail to hit at the big league level, a free agent signing is the next most likely answer.

craig wrote:
C Castillo: I'm not sold that he's really going to be a keeper as a starting catcher, offensively or defensively. But if he doesn't look good, we've got nobody this side of the draft to consider. If we don't spend a high pick on a catcher, Castillo could have a pretty disappointing year but still return to that list next year.

The dearth of good options after Castillo has me hoping the Cubs land one of the highly touted high school catchers in the draft this year as well. There are a couple of prospects worth watching already in the fold in Chadd Krist and Justin Marra. A lot will be learned about Krist at Daytona this year. Marra is farther away and no matter how he performs next season wouldn't make BA's projected 2017 line-up. Another long shot is Stephen Bruno. I don't know if he is still trying on the tools of ignorance or if that experiment has ended, but if it's still going, I'm intrigued.

craig wrote:
Candelario: Obviously pretty iffy whether he'll hit so well and also show enough defensive progress to make the list again. (I sure hope so, it would be awesome if he advances to full season and improves his hitting enough to still project like a middle-of-the-order bat, while at the same time improving his defense enough to still look plausible at 3B.) But zillions of options here, in case he doesn't impress. Assuming Baez justifies his big-prospect status, and BA finally accepts Castro as a SS, then Baez can list at either 2B or 3B. So basically the 3rd infielder spot could go to whichever of Candelario/Vitters/Stewart/Villanueva/Barney/Watkins/Torreyes/Amaya/Lake/draft-pick looks best. Seems like plenty of options there.

I'm with you here. I love Candelario's mix of performance and youth, but he is a long way away and the early reports on his defense are less than stellar at third. I think it is far more likely that one of Baez or Castro move to third and one of the many middle infield prospects takes over second.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:20 pm 
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I agree on the depth at catcher. Not much coming up the system. The Cubs definitly have a chance to address via the draft this year with a relatively deep class of prep talent. Reese McGuire seems to be the most highly thought of but he would not be available by the time of the Cubs second round pick. I'm not sure the FO would be willing to take him second overall though. If the Cubs go pitcher first they might use the next pick on a decent catcher. But I suspect they will go position player first which means the focus for the next few picks will be pitching. Oh well, there are other ways to get a catcher.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:24 am 
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Bilbo161 wrote:
But I suspect they will go position player first which means the focus for the next few picks will be pitching. Oh well, there are other ways to get a catcher.

There certainly other ways to get a catcher, but a good one? Getting a good catcher is on par with getting a good SS. Once you get one you like, you tend to hang on to them through their primes. Plus, the position is so physically taxing, that a catcher's window to perform at their peak is shorter than other positions. This puts a premium on being able to draft/IFA sign and develop good catchers.

I agree the Cubs will look to add pitchers in volume in the first 10 rounds again this year. But the only reason the Cubs would take a position player #2 overall is if he is clearly the best player available. And I don't think that principle is in place just for the first round, meaning if the Cubs pick comes up in rounds 2-10 and a catcher or another position player is clearly the best player available, they'll take him and wait on adding an arm until later. Case in point, based on the interviews afterward, I don't think the Cubs were targeting an infielder, but when Stephen Bruno was still there in the 7th round, they had to take him. So even if they go with Meadows or Frazier or whoever else distinguishes themselves with their first pick, they could still take one of the prep catchers if he is regarded as the BPA. And while I think organizational need is a factor in their decision making, so is positional importance and catcher is one of the most important, if not the most important position on the field.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:02 am 
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I agree Cubswin, catcher is hard to find. I think it's THE hardest, much harder than SS. And I think BPA definitely applies, the question is how to apply it.

Random tangent thoughts:
1. If one of the catchers actually justifies first pick, that would be pretty amazing.
2. Given the physical wear, you almost want to avoid potentially "wasting" a high first-round pick on a catcher. I don't know, but I'd think the failure/attrition rate could be as bad or worse than a pitcher. On the other hand, the skills/tools requirement for a good catcher are so many, that it's hard to find a perfect guy very deep into the draft. So 2nd/3rd round seem potentially very good places to try.
3. Theo mentioned at convention that statistically players have best success in rounds 1 and 2. So I don't think a player needs to be above-and-beyond to get taken in either of those rounds. I think tie-goes-to-the-player in both of those rounds (or should).
4. Need: While pitcher is viewed as organizational need overall, relative to "players", catcher is a class unto itself. There is no organizational need more acute than at catcher. So if there is ever a BPA tie, need should go for the catcher over a pitcher. There will always be some projectable good arm available the next round that perhaps you can coach up. But not so for catchers.
5. BPA is a very fuzzy term, and involves projected likelihood of becoming good and staying good and how good (ceiling). A college catcher doesn't last beyond round one without having known flaws. (Donaldson, Fox, Gibbs, Flores, Muyco, Richie, Hannah, Jorgensen, it didn't take time to realize they weren't perfect, that was understood from day one....) There just aren't that many who have the arms, the receiving abilities, the intelligence/leadership/communication skills you want, enough strength for power, and the ability to hit all in the same package. Especially hard to balance BPA for catchers against pitchers when there are so many factors and when comparing a catcher with some obvious ceiling-limits to some good arm.

6. Man, Castillo is really a significant variable. WE know he strikes out too much and his hitting doesn't look that fast or great. So he's not going to be a perfect star. But if he could hit enough HR's to make his offense viable, and improve his game-calling so that he'd be an overall plus defensively, it would sure make a huge difference to have him stabilize C for a bunch of years as a solid/average-or-better-overall catcher. I want Jackson and Vitters to work out, but if either or both fails, the next option isn't that far behind. But the hard-to-find-replacement-if-he-fails situation at catcher makes Castillo a much more important hinge guy.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:10 pm 
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craig wrote:
I agree Cubswin, catcher is hard to find. I think it's THE hardest, much harder than SS. And I think BPA definitely applies, the question is how to apply it.

Random tangent thoughts:
1. If one of the catchers actually justifies first pick, that would be pretty amazing.
2. Given the physical wear, you almost want to avoid potentially "wasting" a high first-round pick on a catcher. I don't know, but I'd think the failure/attrition rate could be as bad or worse than a pitcher. On the other hand, the skills/tools requirement for a good catcher are so many, that it's hard to find a perfect guy very deep into the draft. So 2nd/3rd round seem potentially very good places to try.
3. Theo mentioned at convention that statistically players have best success in rounds 1 and 2. So I don't think a player needs to be above-and-beyond to get taken in either of those rounds. I think tie-goes-to-the-player in both of those rounds (or should).
4. Need: While pitcher is viewed as organizational need overall, relative to "players", catcher is a class unto itself. There is no organizational need more acute than at catcher. So if there is ever a BPA tie, need should go for the catcher over a pitcher. There will always be some projectable good arm available the next round that perhaps you can coach up. But not so for catchers.
5. BPA is a very fuzzy term, and involves projected likelihood of becoming good and staying good and how good (ceiling). A college catcher doesn't last beyond round one without having known flaws. (Donaldson, Fox, Gibbs, Flores, Muyco, Richie, Hannah, Jorgensen, it didn't take time to realize they weren't perfect, that was understood from day one....) There just aren't that many who have the arms, the receiving abilities, the intelligence/leadership/communication skills you want, enough strength for power, and the ability to hit all in the same package. Especially hard to balance BPA for catchers against pitchers when there are so many factors and when comparing a catcher with some obvious ceiling-limits to some good arm.

6. Man, Castillo is really a significant variable. WE know he strikes out too much and his hitting doesn't look that fast or great. So he's not going to be a perfect star. But if he could hit enough HR's to make his offense viable, and improve his game-calling so that he'd be an overall plus defensively, it would sure make a huge difference to have him stabilize C for a bunch of years as a solid/average-or-better-overall catcher. I want Jackson and Vitters to work out, but if either or both fails, the next option isn't that far behind. But the hard-to-find-replacement-if-he-fails situation at catcher makes Castillo a much more important hinge guy.

Thanks, craig. I agree.

I would be shocked if the Cubs took a catcher in the first round in the upcoming draft. Reese McGuire, Jonathan Denney and Jeremy Martinez would have to explode in their senior seasons to even be considered at #2. 2nd round was my target. If one of those can fall, and there are some other prep catchers beyond those three, to the 2nd or 3rd round, that would be great.

I don't think the Cubs would hesitate to wait until the 3rd round to take their first pitcher if the draft fell that way. But at some point in the first 10 rounds they will take several pitchers in a row. Despite what all the data shows me, I, selfishly, still want them to take a pitcher with the #2 pick. That's why I'm not GM.

And, yes, the more I think about it, I understated the importance of finding good catchers. It isn't on par with finding a SS. It's harder. Much harder.

I'd like to add Neftali Rosario to my list of catching prospects worth watching. The word is defensively he has all the tools. His stick has pop, but also a long way to go. And he years away from approaching AA/AAA as would any prep catcher the Cubs would take in the draft. So I agree about the cupboard being bare at catcher. Krist, Marra and Rosario are all long shots so the Cubs really do need Castillo to be good.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:15 pm 
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I just hope that the Cubs can better develop the talent they acquire. I have faith that they can, especially with the new pitching instructor. If they can find a way to teach some patience they will be rolling, it will make who they draft less important.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:02 am 
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CubsWin wrote:
If what Hyde mused at the convention comes to pass, Vogelbach is the clear choice here. Of course, he still has to continue to produce at the higher levels, but since we are projecting anyway, he tops the possibilities for me. With the FO's emphasis on defense, about the only position that will be allowed to be average or below would be LF. That would bring Candelario in as a possible LFer of the future. If both those guys fail to hit at the big league level, a free agent signing is the next most likely answer.


I am not a student of our farm system. I just read stuff here and some BA, BP and FG stuff. I like Vogelbach, but kind of assumed he would end up being trade bait unless Rizzo flames out. It seems that his body type/skill set would not make him a good choice for LF even if he can really bring a lot of power. I am more than hopeful that I am wrong about this. I understand that you mention that the FO is willing to be below average in LF defense, but it seems Vogelbach would be a stretch to just be below average.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:25 pm 
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I've always wondered where the phrase "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" came from. I've always assumed it meant that a major league baseball player was worth two minor league prospects.

I KNOW most of the prospects will flame out or be traded for known value.

The more prospects we have . . . the more working capital we have . . . the faster we get good.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:14 pm 
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NewUserName wrote:
CubsWin wrote:
If what Hyde mused at the convention comes to pass, Vogelbach is the clear choice here. Of course, he still has to continue to produce at the higher levels, but since we are projecting anyway, he tops the possibilities for me. With the FO's emphasis on defense, about the only position that will be allowed to be average or below would be LF. That would bring Candelario in as a possible LFer of the future. If both those guys fail to hit at the big league level, a free agent signing is the next most likely answer.


I am not a student of our farm system. I just read stuff here and some BA, BP and FG stuff. I like Vogelbach, but kind of assumed he would end up being trade bait unless Rizzo flames out. It seems that his body type/skill set would not make him a good choice for LF even if he can really bring a lot of power. I am more than hopeful that I am wrong about this. I understand that you mention that the FO is willing to be below average in LF defense, but it seems Vogelbach would be a stretch to just be below average.

That's how I felt about Vogelbach too until Hyde made these comments at the Cubs Convention. He has dropped quite a bit of weight, so who knows. He's got time to work his way there. If he wants to play for the Cubs bad enough, he will likely have to be able to passable in LF. If not, his dropped weight can only help him defend 1B and raise his trade value. Hyde did call him athletic. One thing is for sure, he's got to continue to hit if wants any chance to make the bigs. Everything I've read from scouts is that his bat is "special". We'll see...

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:25 am 
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Greg Luzinski played LF for some good teams I guess. Gary Maddox was a very good CFer though.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:00 pm 
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NewUserName wrote:
Greg Luzinski played LF for some good teams I guess. Gary Maddox was a very good CFer though.

Yeah, if you have a good enough CFer, and RFer for that matter, you can get by a lot easier with an average to below average LFer. If both Almora and Soler develop as expected, they will have exactly that.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:01 am 
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1B is WAY more important defensively than LF, I think. Grounders come quicker than flies and are harder to handle and require more bend/flex. Every non-force groundball out entails a throw to 1B, many on close plays and many involving throws that aren't perfect or easy. The 1B is just involved in a lot more plays, and a lot more non-trivial plays that discriminate between excellence and mediocrity, than is true in LF. (I think.) I'd think the difference between an excellent 1B and a mediocre one is probably much greater than between an excellent and mediocre LFer.

Obviously flat-out running speed matters more in LF.

So perhaps based on running speed, Vogelbach would just inherently be a lot more problematic in LF than 1B. But it's possible that if running is bad but bending is worse, that he might be as bad or worse at 1B than in LF, and it would hurt you more. Further, he is NOT a tall man. He's only 6 foot, and if anything his limbs seem short. So in terms of "stretch", his 1B stretch capabilities are probably well below 1B normal. What I'm rambling to here is that despite his speed problems, perhaps he's actually BETTER suited to LF than to 1B? That he'd do more harm at 1B than in LF? Or that even if he's no better or worse at one than the other, that his mediocre/average at both would be better placed in the less discriminating LF spot?


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:07 am 
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Even if he's slightly worse than Dunn in LF(doubt a professional could be MUCH worse), he could still have solid value. The power may be comparable and the hit tool is likely better.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Since there is a small handful of catchers in the early top 50 lists, I think Cubs go Mannea 1 then top available catcher 2. Then pitching. Since we need catcher I think this should be our strategy. We'll see if the FO feels the same several months from now.

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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:01 am 
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A New Era wrote:
Since there is a small handful of catchers in the early top 50 lists, I think Cubs go Mannea 1 then top available catcher 2. Then pitching. Since we need catcher I think this should be our strategy. We'll see if the FO feels the same several months from now.


BPA with no bias to any position.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:54 pm 
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Even if you didn't want to always go BPA, the only time it would make sense to target a position is in the first round.

If your organization is weak at catcher, and you take a catcher No. 40 overall, you are still weak at catcher.


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 Post subject: Re: Ah, the difference a year makes...
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:52 am 
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KyleJRM wrote:
Even if you didn't want to always go BPA, the only time it would make sense to target a position is in the first round.

If your organization is weak at catcher, and you take a catcher No. 40 overall, you are still weak at catcher.

True. Just maybe a little less weak.

I agree with the BPA rule in general, but I don't think it's a terrible thing to address a system's weaknesses especially if it's catching. Good young catchers who can hit and defend are rare and that gives a team a huge advantage when they have one. The price of trading for one is very high. You are going to have to overpay. They are non-existent on the FA market. You can always try to move a player over to catcher like they tried with Stephen Bruno. Castillo was a former infielder. But outside of that and signing one as an IFA, your only shot of getting this huge advantage over other teams is to find one in the draft.

Granted, the safest bets to getting a good one is by taking them high up in the 1st round (Wieters, Zunino). But short of that, if you've got the 40th pick and the BPA is ranked 37th on your board but there is a catcher ranked nearby, I'd have to look long and hard at taking that catcher. They are the hardest to find. And if there happens to be a draft that is deep in talented prep catchers, I wouldn't mind taking two of them in the appropriate upper rounds. Even if the system didn't have a weakness at catcher.

_________________
"I know my title is general manager, but I consider myself the director of spending for the N.Y. Yankees." — Brian Cashman.


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