Initially, I was going to go see Daytona play the Lakeland Flying Tigers on Tuesday night, in which I had planned on taking videos of Javier Baez and provide you all with a first-hand scouting report on the Cubs top prospect, but the game was postponed due to unplayable field conditions… so instead of getting some awesome analysis and videos of the best bat in our system you get some lingering thoughts about the team… enjoy!

I still like Chris Volstad

Despite being terrible this entire season after giving up another big inning in his last start, I still want Volstad on the team next year.  Not really about advanced numbers saying he’s better than he’s been, believing Volstad is a part of the future, or any crazy idea like that.  I think Volstad could be valuable to a contender next deadline – It’s a lottery ticket system.  I’m buying another Volstad ticket and hopefully this time we win. His stuff isn’t bad…  so he’s gotta be tipping his pitches.  Or at least that’s what I will continue saying next year when he’s getting shelled.

When will the Cubs be competitive again?

Looking at what we have now and where our prospects are… I am leaning towards 2016 now  instead of my initial guess…  2015 still has a shot, but everything needs to go right – which just doesn’t happen often for the Cubs.  We’d need Castro to rebound, Rizzo & Samardzija to continue to develop, Baez & Soler to shoot through the minors, Vizcaino to return and stay healthy… and probably another piece or two to work out.  Then the rest is depth for the bench, bullpen, injuries and trade bait.  We need a core of young players to build around before we entertain free agency.

It’s not only chicks that dig the long ball

You ask Kevin Goldstein or Keith Law why Matt Szczur is seen only as a 4th outfielder and their answer is because he’s a slap hitter with no power potential.  Despite plus speed, hitting for a high average and showing good discipline he’s seen “nothing to get excited about.”  On the other hand, you ask why Jim Callis likes Szczur so much, it’s because he saw a Szczur batting practice where Szczur was crushing balls in Arizona, flashing power that he has yet to tap into in games.  I’ve wondered why fans fall in love with guys like Colvin and LaHair over a hot month of hitting… and will flat out trash valuable players like a Kosuke Fukudome or David DeJesus…. I’ve come to the conclusion, dudes dig the long ball too.  No matter how good advanced metrics tell you a player is, if he doesn’t hit HRs the majority of fans don’t care.

Speaking of LaHair

What would you do in his situation?  He’s not part of the Cubs’ long term plans.  He’s not a lock to be on the 25-man roster next season.  He’s not even a sure thing to be retained by the team given his age, production drop off, and state of the roster with recent call-ups.  Japanese teams called last year, and it’s a pretty safe assumption they’d still be interested this season.

Would you go over there and make a bazillion yen (conversion rate may not be accurate), be worshipped by an entire country just to hit mammoth HRs or would you chase the dream of staying in the majors at only 500K a year.

Has any player ever made the ASG in their first full season and by the next year be out of the MLB because they couldn’t hack it?

Soriano’s bat change

A lot was made out of Soriano going to a lighter and shorter bat, but has anything really changed?

I would say the only thing that has changed is his BABIP normalized to league average this season after a career low last year(and for his career it’s .303).  Everything else is right in line with standard deviation.

Next year’s draft

Looks as we are pretty safe in top 3 and have a good chance at the second pick.  I would love to get #2, which would nearly guarantee us Mark Appel, if we want him.  I don’t think Houston would take him after what happened with this year’s draft.

I don’t normally advocate for drafting for need, but in this case I would.  Appel should be ready for AA by the end of next season given that he’s a 4 year college arm.  Slotting him with a 2014 late season call up, and in the rotation by 2015, the same time the core of our farm should be hitting the majors.  The trio of Samardzija, Vizcaino, and Appel would be a nice foundation for a rotation.

Darwin Barney’s Defense

First, I think Barney is deserving of a gold glove this year.  Even though he has a few weaknesses, he’s steadily improved since becoming the everyday 2B.   He’s been the best defensive second basemen in baseball this year, but these types of rewards are more based on reputation than merit, so watch out for Brandon Phillips getting another.

Second, at some point this week Barney’s WAR was 4.6 and Ryan Braun’s WAR was 4.5.  People were calling this a limitation of WAR because no one in their right mind would choose Barney over Braun.  But is it?

While I wouldn’t take Barney over Braun either… but can you not win the game with defense just as easily with offense?  If you make a great play that stops the tying run from scoring, isn’t that just as important as the guy who knocked in the winning run?

I think baseball just needs more straightforward defensive stats like other sports for the masses to truly understand what players are doing.  You can say their UZR/TZR is +15, but what does that really mean?  You can laugh at people who try to mention fielding % & errors in arguing how good a player is defensively, but is it really their fault?  Now if I said Barney made 22 plays that saved a run more than the next second basemen, you understand that.  If I said Rizzo made 64 picks this season that saved errant throws, that’s easily understood.  That’s why people still cling to errors, fielding %, and assists so much, they’re easy to understand.    We need simpler defensive stats to make it easier to decipher who’s actually good at defense and who’s not.

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