Blog Entry

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 


By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Comments

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:52 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

A very very damning article about the failure of the Hendry regime.  Sure, most teams get better via free agency, but most teams also have some good components via their own farm club.  The Cardinals and Red Sox, most recently, have some of their best players from their own system and then they fill in the rest with bought talent.  The Cubs have had little or even less talent from their own system.

Back in the 80's, Cubs fans could talk about the players who got away, like Joe Carter or Palmerio.  Right now, no one wants what the Cubs system has to offer.  

If Theo can turn this team around and take em to a WS, he should be elected to HOF the day the WS ends.....this ship is hopeless. 



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:18 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

Hey johnU11:

Directly from my text above: "the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons."

That applies to all of the years you listed.

If you want to attack me, that's fine, but you should feel free to use actual text I've written instead of jumping to your own conclusions in an attempt to smear me.

Thanks.

- Matt





Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:35 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

Put simply, they're not in the business of winning games. Cubs games are parties where the result on the field is incidental. The fans support the team same whether it's good or bad, meaning demand is inelastic, so there's not much incentive to improve the performance on the field.


Have you seen attendance or tv numbers the last few years?  They definately make a lot less money when the team sucks.  Pretty easy finding seats this year.  That argument is tired.  If they had a 30 mil payroll I could buy it, but they are consistantly one of the highest payrolls in the majors.  Look at the contracts of Soriano, Zambrano, Dempster, Ramirez, Fukodome, etc. etc.  Their problem is not an unwillingness to spend, it is that they have consistantly spent their money foolishly.  And that has a lot to do with the fact that the top guys are never baseball guys.   Also, spending for in their prime free agents, which is what you have to do when your farm system is broken, is far more expensive, and risky when a deal goes bad than growing your team from the ground up.  All of this is why the writer ranks them one of the worst organizations in this whole homegrown experiment.  He goes on to say that as bad as they were last year, they would have been a good deal worse if they had been forced to rely on their homegrown talent.  Sad but true.  I am not ready to coronate Epstein a genius, but I was plesently suprised that Rickets actually hired someone to run the organization with a baseball backgroud, instead of having a GM that had to answer to a lawyer, accountant, PR guy, or newspaper man.  Obvious, right?  But a welcome departure from the norm. 



Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:30 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

Sandberg, they got in a trade, so that doesn't count.


The Cubs have not won a championship in decades and yet we are asking the reader to evaluate the men who are currently in the major leagues, all of whom are "homegrown" Cubs talent, either with the team or not.
From 1918 until 1945, none of the above applies.
From 1945 until recently, none of the above applies.
From 2012 onward, none of the above applies.
But to list the current crop of Cubs signees and compare it to a feeble post-season effort twice in the last 4 years, actually ... this author really has missed the cutoff man.




Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:26 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

Dunston probably.  Sandberg doesn't count, as he came up through the Phils organization in the minors.



Since: Aug 2, 2010
Posted on: November 27, 2011 8:50 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

"The truth is, until Castro they have not produced a middle-infielder of any quality."

Since when? Since Ernie Banks? Ken Hubbs? Or perhaps Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert? Or maybe not since Shawon Dunston? Ryne Sandberg? 



Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

Cubs, sdp, pirates, the twins, and then Yankees that's my ranks so far.



Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: November 27, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

There is a pretty solid chapter in the book Scorecasting about the Cubs' futility. Put simply, they're not in the business of winning games. Cubs games are parties where the result on the field is incidental. The fans support the team same whether it's good or bad, meaning demand is inelastic, so there's not much incentive to improve the performance on the field. The most important aspect of Cubs management is setting beer prices, because while the team's performance has had almost no effect on attendance, and fans will pay one of the most extensive ticket prices in MLB, they won't do it when beer prices go up, which is why the cheapest beer in MLB is sold at Wrigley Field.

As a business, the Cubs are hugely successful. It's why they've been sold for as much as they have, regardless of being such a failure in terms of winning games.





Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: November 27, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

syeely3000:

We only used the current 40-man rosters and those who filed for major-league free agency. But yeah, if Moyer does come back -- and it looks like he will -- he would be in the starting pitching mix. He was a 6th rounder for the Cubs in .... wait for it .... 1984.

Thanks!

- Matt



Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: November 27, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs

OMG that starting lineup is HORRIBLE! And Fukodome shouldn’t count because he is not a true home-grown Cub. Not that he is any good anyway and deserves to be in a lineup. Replace him with Patterson, really nothing gained or lost.

Pitching isn’t too bad, and the bench is awful. The lineup does have some speed, but you can’t steal first. People can really look no further than this as to why the Cubs have been so bad for so long.

The truth is, until Castro they have not produced a middle-infielder of any quality…and Castro is really not a good defensive shortstop. Virtually all the everyday players on this list are poor situational hitters, again except for Castro.

And also, players like Wood, Pie, Colvin, Zambrano, Soto…they were all projected to one day be superstars…mostly by Cubs management. But none of them are really better than marginal players, though some had moments of glory.

This is why Epstein has his work cut out for him; he has to start at the bottom and rebuild this system.

As a footnote, one player missing is Jamie Moyer. For sure he was drafted by the Cubs 27 years ago, and is currently not on a roster, but he would be the ace of this staff, even now.



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