Up ’til yesterday the Ricketts Administration has been less then refreshing. Many people, myself included, thought the change of guard would immediately show it’s worth. Now, I understand it takes time for these things to show up in the win column, but at least give us a sign that change is on the way!
When the Rickett’s family took over ownership of the Cubs two seasons ago they noted that team strength was going to come from Player development. Gone were the days of dumping money into free agents. Many educated baseball fans were inclined to think this would be a new day dawning on the north side. After a year and half wait, there is finally some substance to the promise.
The draft is one of the best ways to develop your system as a whole. The baseball draft works out much differently then the NFL draft. Just because you draft a player doesn’t mean he will eventually sign. In many ways, drafting the player is kind of like asking a girl out on a date. Just because she accepts doesn’t mean she won’t cancel between now and the actual date. High school baseball players have more then one option when it comes to their baseball future. If a player is good enough to be drafted they more then likely have a college scholarship offer hanging out there too. If you draft a player and he goes another route instead of signing by the deadline, then the player goes back into the draft for the following season for another team to grab. Up until this season, the Cubs weren’t exactly killing it with their draft picks.
Tim Wilken, the Cubs Scouting Director, acted as though he tripped in a rabbit hole and ended up in some sort of prospect orgy. You see, yesterday was the deadline to sign the recent haul from this years draft. The Cubs signed 34 of their top 50 picks. This is a good result. Even better, they signed 20 of their top 22. Go here to see previous draft results (some of the 2011 results are not updated yet.)
Baez and Vogelbach were the key signings, both are power hitters who occupy corner infield spots. Sounds like something the Cubs need, yes? There was also an interesting pickup in the 14th round of Dillon Maples, projected as top two round talent but with a hefty price tag, many passed. He had a solid scholarship offer from UNC and was leaning that direction. …. $2.5 million changed his mind.
As noted in Norm’s game recap (you know, the game where Marmol basically re-affirmed he had gone from inhuman to sub standard over the course of a season) the Cubs spent over $12 million to lock up the draft day haul. One caveat however, the draft is anything but a gaurantee. All of these players are prospects until proven major leaguers. That being said it comes down to what we do with the prospects from here that matters. This is an area where Hendry and company have failed miserably in the past. Did the owner just dump $12 million for nothing?
So, are we finally seeing a new direction under the new regime? Is the Rickett’s family slowly but surely making an effort to turn this once proud franchise around? The money spent in this draft definitly confirms their commitment to build through player development.
We are going to learn a lot about this new ownership in the months to come. Tom Rickett’s is suppose to address the media in the next few days regarding the club and it’s future. Key decisions, whether it be standing pat or letting some people go, will be made from top to bottom. Decisions that will effect the future of this club for the next ten years and beyond. Will it be another press meeting like the one earlier this year, when he gave unwavering support to Jim Hendry and Mike Quade? The draft is a nice start, but the hard work, the dirty work as they say, needs to be done. I have this funny feeling that the masses won’t be satisfied. The draft signings might be it, and that falls short, as some heads need to roll.
That being said, I have one question for the readers….
If you are Tom Ricketts, and you can only replace one person from the following list going into the 2012 season, who would it be and why?
A) Jim Hendry
B) Mike Quade
C) Crane Kenney