NL Central Notes: Cubs, Pirates

Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Gordon Wittenmyer opines that the Cardinals should be the model for the Cubs as they work to establish a player development pipeline. The reigning NL champs haven't drafted in the single digits in 16 years, but have continued to find major league contributors in later rounds, including 2013 All-Star Allen Craig. "Anybody can pick out a No. 1 selection and think that’s a great deal," former Cubs GM Dallas Green commented. "But you make 30 or 40 selections [in a draft], and three or four of those guys have gotta play." Here are two more NL Central links:

  • Cubs scouts and crosscheckers convened last week to discuss the team's strategy for this year's draft, but the front office isn't ready to narrow its draft board down to a final 25 players, according to GM Jed Hoyer (via a report from MLB.com's Carrie Muskat). Club executives have reportedly been in attendance at recent starts by high school right-hander Tyler Kolek, who has shot up draft prospect lists this spring.
  • Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiled Pirates prospect Stetson Allie, who was drafted as a pitcher but is now a first baseman. In just 26 2/3 innings across low- and high-A, Allie compiled a 7.76 ERA and walked 37 batters. He dominated low-A in 2013 as an infielder, however, hitting .324/.414/.607.


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20 Comments on "NL Central Notes: Cubs, Pirates"


LazerTown
1 year 4 months ago

People often forget this though. The Cardinals have been taking advantage of a really weak division for years. 2005 they were really good, 2013 they were really good. In between, they were a mediocre team in an awful division. Sure they won 2 WS, but put them in AL East, they wouldn’t even made it to the playoffs. The Cards look really good now, but all these writers try to make them sound like a juggernaut that has kept payroll low, and kept a farm. TBH I think the Rays have been a better model over the recent years. Sure they really boosted themselves with many top picks, but now they have kept competitive for several years.

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
1 year 4 months ago

Those mediocre teams were in the WS three times and won twice.

LazerTown
1 year 4 months ago

True. Honestly though no one has figured out how to build a true playoff contender, it is more luck. 2006 team won WS, but do you honestly think an 83 win team in a division with 2 95 loss teams is respectable? Sure it’s great and all they won, but I’m going to say it was lots of luck, not a model.

Brodor
1 year 4 months ago

Well Baltimore lost 92 and Tampa lost 101 in the East in 2006. It’s not the AL East back then was much better than the NL Central.

LazerTown
1 year 4 months ago

Is a bit different though when you had 2 dominant teams in the RS and NYY though handing losses to those teams. Both teams were free wins, but Cards used that to get to 83 wins, while NY used it to get to 97.

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
1 year 4 months ago

Very true, building a guaranteed playoff winner before the season is an impossible goal. Too many variables. A team with a .716 win percentage can lose in the first round and a team with a .516 win percentage can win the WS.

Calling it luck though I think diminishes a team’s accomplishment. Perhaps this is because the definition of luck seems to rely on supernatural events. While the Cardinal teams from 2006-2012 will probably never go down as the greatest teams ever, calling some of them lucky dismisses them. They were teams built to compete and last through the October push.

I still say that for more than a decade the Cardinals have been the best organized and coached franchise in MLB.

RyanWKrol
1 year 4 months ago

I wouldn’t consider calling it luck as diminishing their accomplishments. Baseball is one big crap shoot in the end. One could argue that teams that are lucky enough to escape major injuries are often the ones that make the playoffs. I cited above how lucky the Angels got with their bullpen in the previous decade. They were also lucky enough to get a lot of health from their young starting rotations during that period. I guess just stating how there are so many variables is the safer way to describe the differences between a team’s success and failure.

LazerTown
1 year 4 months ago

small sample sizes, any team can do anything. 2006 cardinals team wasn’t really built to last through october. The incredibly washed up Marquis/Suppan/Mulder was their 2-4 starters.

0vercast
1 year 4 months ago

Luck and fortune plays a big part, but that’s what makes the MLB playoffs so fun to watch. Anybody can come out on top.

Get your foot in the door, play a couple weeks of good ball, catch a couple breaks, and next thing you know, you’re hoisting the trophy. The best example I’ve ever seen is the mediocre 1987 Twins with 85 wins.

LazerTown
1 year 4 months ago

Right it can be exciting, but that is why I think the best a GM can do is try to make it so his team can get to the playoffs every year.

Joe Valenti
1 year 4 months ago

I think this will be a little more legitimate when their top picks have moved past their arbitration years. They managed to replace BJ Upton (or at least his formal self) but they are still reaping the benefits of guys like Longoria, Niemann, and Price. If you are over analytical like me you can even argue that guys like Hak-Ju Lee and Archer are products of their early round picks because they were acquired for Garza, who was acquired for Delmon Young.

Of course, you could argue that my latter point only strengthens your argument because they were savvy enough to make those trades

Joe Valenti
1 year 4 months ago

I also feel like one of the things about the Cardinal teams of the last decade or so was they were well coached, so while they may not have played well enough to compete in the AL East, if they were actually in the AL East I think they would have been able to elevate their game.

I know that’s not the most logical evaluation, but I just look at their ability to elevate their play at the end of the year and in the playoffs every year and I get the sense that they could use that trait to thrive in a tougher division.

LazerTown
1 year 4 months ago

Don’t buy it. Coaches might be able to affect it in small samples, but over the long season it’s not really happening. 2006 Cards: out of their top 7 starters only 2 had an era under 5.00. 2011 they were at least somewhat more respectable.

RyanWKrol
1 year 4 months ago

I think coaching is a valid reason. That was a big factor in the Angels success in the last decade (’02-’09). They got maximum value out of a lot of overlooked talent just like the A’s have from time to time. But the Halos didn’t get quite the same credit because unlike the A’s they did it mostly with a high payroll. They also got lucky with developing an elite bullpen and playing in a weak division themselves. So the pattern I’ve seen in the Cardinals success reflects the Angels previous success.

burnboll
1 year 4 months ago

The main difference is that Cardinals haven’t been able to grab a top draft pick in 15+ years.

Tampa, while I think it’s an awesome organization, has been picking very high fairly recently.

I think Matt Adams and Allen Craig are very good examples of Cardinals extracting maximum value out of the draft.

Even better example is David freese. For a couple of years, he was a very good 3rd baseman, and when his production went south, Cardinals traded him for very good talent from the Angels.

IMO, that could be one of the most lopsided trades the last decade.

Tony
1 year 4 months ago

This isn’t true. In 2000, the Cards had 95 wins, won the Central, and lost in the LCS. In 2001, they had 93 wins, as did the Astros, who took the title because of a one-game advantage in head to head play. They lost in the LDS, 2-3, to the eventual WS winners. In 2002, they had 97 wins, and lost in the LCS. In 2003 they had 85 wins and didn’t make the playoffs. In 2004 they had 105 wins, and lost to the Red Sox in the WS; the Wild Card team was the Astros, same division. In 2005 they had 100 wins, won the division, but lost to the Astros in the LCS; same division. In 2006 they did win a very weak division, going 83-78, but winning the WS. They had a losing season, then a winning season, then in 2009 they won the Central with 91 wins. Then they won 86, nowhere; then in 2011 they were the Wild Card team with 90 wins, while the Reds had 96, I believe. In 2012 they were again the WC team with 88 wins, while the Reds had 97. In 2013 they had 97 wins, most in baseball, while the Pirates and Reds were both WC teams, with 94 and 90. What the heck more do you want? Who in the NL has been better during that time?

1 year 4 months ago

Wittenmyer still has a job. Okay.

Brodor
1 year 4 months ago

Right? I don’t get it. Jed and Theo are reading this right now thinking, “Oh that’s all we have to do? Why didn’t we think of that?” Another stroke of genius from good ol’ Gordon

Cyyoung
1 year 4 months ago

Green is 100% correct.

raymondrobertkoenig
1 year 4 months ago

The Cubs had many players with the potential to become Major Leaguers in their system when the new FO took over. Why couldn’t they be developed?