View From The Bleachers

January 23, 2013

Who Would You Invest In?

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 4:34 am

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Last week we looked at the players who were arbitration eligible and we talked a little about what I would do with each of those scenarios. None of the three got long term deals, but all are in the fold with one year contracts. That, coupled with an article (subscription required) by Jim Bowden has me thinking about which of the players in the organization I’d be interested in locking up long term. I qualify that by saying that I look at these players in a vacuum without regard to current contract because there is no telling what the future holds in regards to players acquired via trade, draft or free agency. I’m simply looking at these guys based on what we know and deciding who I’d invest in if everyone was a free agent going forward.

Starlin Castro – Note that Castro is already locked up to a long term deal, so this is assuming he wasn’t. I believe he can be a top five shortstop in the Majors as he continues to develop. I think the power will continue to blossom, eventually leading to a season along the lines of .300 / .350 / .480 with 25 HR, 35 doubles and 15 steals. That is great production out of a shortstop, especially considering his age. I also don’t believe those numbers are more than two years away. The time would be now to put your chips in and invest in Castro as a building block of the future. The only downside I see is that I don’t project him as a 3-4-5 hitter in the lineup, so it’s a lot of capital to invest in a guy that may hit 2nd or 6th, but I’d act on it.

Anthony Rizzo – If Jed and Theo, particularly Jed, believe that strongly in Rizzo, and it’s obvious they do considering they picked him in Boston, traded for him in San Diego and then traded for him in Chicago, then take the production we saw last year (particularly that of AAA) and lock him in as the biggest run producer on this team going forward and surround him with pieces in a quest for a title.

Jeff Samardzija – I wrote it in the piece linked above and I’m going to write it again. I’m all for a four year deal for Samardzija. I believe in his talent and I think we’re going to see more improvement this year. There were times last year he was flat out unhittable and I think that’s just the tip of the talent he has. It’s so important to remember how little he focused on baseball in college. It was his second sport. Now it’s his primary focus and we’re seeing the light go on. I’d lock him up.

That’s my three. I want to hear from you. Am I crazy? Am I missing someone? Let’s hear it.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail

  • YUCottonPickin

    Castro is already locked up, I would wait a year before I lock up Rizzo, same with Samardzidja

  • Joe Aiello

    I know he’s locked in, I wanted to base it as if no one was locked up.

  • YUCottonPickin

    Well I would have locked up Castro.

  • Verncrowe5

    Lock up Castro now, wait for a full ML year with Rizzo and wait until next year with Samardzija.

    When do we play the Rockies this season? It will be nice to be on the other end of a one inning Volstud explosion.

  • YUCottonPickin

    With Cubs luck, he’ll mow us down for 6 innings

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Volstud…where was that last year?  King Chris Volstud.

  • cap’n obvious

    when your entire organization only has 3 young players with legitimate long-term major league talent, yes, I think you invest in keeping them around…doing so doesn’t make Thed smart or good at their jobs.  If they were smart or good at their jobs, 2 of these 3 would be second tier guys.

  • Bones

    Castro and Rizzo you lock up now. With any pitcher you wait it out due to the amount of injuries that occur.

  • Noah_I

    While I think Castro could hit 25 HRs a year, I think that’s a ceiling number.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he settles in more in the 17-22 range, which would still be great for a shortstop. But Castro already is nearly a Top 5 shortstop in baseball. He had the 6th highest fWAR among full time shortstops in 2012, and a modest jump in walk rate, power numbers, or his fielding would easily catapult him into the Top 5. I think the real question is if he makes the jump into the argument for the best shortstop in baseball with a group that will likely be manned by Jurickson Profar, Manny Machado and Troy Tulowitzki (if he can stay healthy) over the next several years.  

    Rizzo and Samardzija I both wait a year on.  Rizzo won’t even hit arbitration until 2015, so you really won’t effect his cost and you’ll see how pitchers adjust to him in his second year and how he adjusts to pitchers.

    I want to see Samardzija pitch a season without an innings limit before signing him long term. Even if you wait a year and sign him to a four year deal at that point, you’re buying out his last two years of arb and his first two year of free agency, and get him for his age 29-32 seasons.  I wouldn’t even really be concerned about going longer with him (depending on discount) up to 6 years, because if he has no issues this year he definitely has the athletic “starter’s build” that has as good a chance as anyone to avoid injuries into his mid-30s.

  • Seymour Butts

    In that case, let’s try to lock up Theo.

  • Seymour Butts

    Perched on a top shelf where only the very tall could reach it.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    This hypothetical scenario is confusing.  Maybe we should stick to condiment fingers.  

  • Jedi

    This is what I mean about the overvaluing of prospects.  Machado is currently NOT a SS (and the Orioles won’t part with JJ Hardy because they don’t want to move Machado-yet); Profar had some fairly horrendous results in his first 17 MLB PAs.  BOTH are 19 years old.  So before we start saying that they’re just going to be the elite SS in the game over the next few years, we might want to give them an opportunity to actually play the position every day.  Just a few short years ago, a rather large contingent would’ve penciled in _____ as an elite player for years to come…sometimes prospects just go sideways.  (There are plenty of ‘can’t miss’ names that would fit in that blank-Mark Prior is the one that comes to my mind immediately)

    Plus, I love the notion that Castro has to prove he’s on par with a guy who has 17 PAs…how about Profar actually prove that it’s more than hype first? (and he very well might…but for now you’ve got the cart way out in front of the horse).

  • Noah_I

    When did I say that Castro has to prove he’s on par with Machado or Profar?  I merely said they are the likely candidates to be in the argument for the top shortstop in baseball.  Why is this?  Well, because there is a lack of really good young shortstops in baseball, and it’s a position that is difficult to continue to play well as you age.  Desmond has one year of being great, and a much longer track record of being mediocre.  Elvis Andrus is very good, but at his ceiling.  And I trust the scouts a lot more than I trust 17 PAs, good or bad.  Sure, I could be wrong.  But you could pick all current major leaguers as the likely candidates to be the top shortstop in baseball over the next several years and have just as big a chance of being wrong.  Who knows if Tulo will ever be healthy?  Who knows how long Reyes’ health issues will allow him to continue to play at the position?  Now, if I was choosing a player in short season ball or a just drafted player, or even putting Javier Baez in that list right now, I’d say that’s putting the cart before the horse.  But a player who is MLB ready is fair game for any such list, in my opinion.  

    For example, anyone who would have said two years ago that Mike Trout would be the best player in baseball at this point would have been right.  And it’s not disputable that Castro has yet to reach the argument for best shortstop in baseball.

    I’d also argue with an implication that Prior was a “miss” or a guy who went sideways. There are two types of prospects that end up with bad results: guys who weren’t as good as the scouts thought they were, or guys who got hurt.  Prior was just as good as the scouts thought he was.   In 2003 Prior was one of the best pitchers in baseball in a season he pitched mostly at age 22, putting up Koufaxian numbers (10.43 K/9, 2.13 BB/9) while posting the third highest fWAR of all pitchers in baseball behind only in their primes Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez. The scouts weren’t wrong about how good Prior was. He just couldn’t stay healthy after that. With pitchers, that’s just a crap shoot, though. Although I would say that people should be even more wary about overvaluing pitching prospects than hitting prospects, because of injury attrition. That sort of injury issue that just ends a hitting prospect’s career is much less likely.

  • Jedi

    “When did I say that Castro has to prove he’s on par with Machado or Profar?”

    Now you’re just being disingenuous.  In your eyes, Castro has to ‘make a jump’ to be in that class that you surmise will include the two 19-year olds.  The question (from you), posed another way, is whether Castro can be in a class with those two.
    Never implied Prior was a ‘miss’ you need to re-read; had nothing to do with his performance, it was entirely about the fact that he would’ve been lauded as a future elite for many years and it didn’t work out that way.

    You’re taking two guys who have barely begun their careers and ascribing to them future success at the game’s highest level because they’ve looked so good up to this point.  It’s a fool’s errand.  Let the kid do something, then start claiming he’s elite (which is exactly what should be done with Mike Trout or any other ‘can’t miss’ prospect).

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Norm, Noah.  Whatever.  

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    The Dread Pirate Samardzija is a tough one for me to figure out. The way he surpassed expectations last year has us all recalibrating his ceiling, but what if we’ve already seen it? What’s more likely: that he takes another step, repeats the success of last season, or regresses a little bit as other teams get more familiar with him? And if he does actually improve, will it be by so much that his price tag skyrockets? Seems doubtful to me, and that’s why I like the wait-and-see approach the Cubs are taking.

  • cap’n obvious

    actually, Prior was in a 3rd category….”Guys that were on the juice…”

  • cap’n obvious

    (Theo to Jeremiah)…”as you wish”

  • Buddy

    Sounds like Scott Hairston is a Cub. 

  • YUCottonPickin

    That ought to help out my friend at Disney (who happens to be Don Beebe’s nephew). He is from Florida, but the first time I met him, he had a nametag saying he was from Naperville. So when I asked him about it, he told me the story, and he was like where is Naperville. I was like it’s a western suburb of Chicago, very affluent suburb. If any guest asks you about it, say you were next door neighbors with the Hairston family, 3 generations in baseball, they’re from Naperville.

  • Chuck

    The unusual part about Shark is that he has not pitched nearly as much as other pitchers his age due to football.  This makes him somewhat hard to measure.  I think he still has a lot of growth in him if he puts in the work.

  • YUCottonPickin

    How so? He played baseball in college, and then when it was time to go pro, he decided to play baseball and give up football

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