Five Year Plan

Posted: January 2, 2014 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, sports, Uncategorized
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We all know the stats on Theo Epstein. Youngest GM in history at the age of 28. Broke the Bambino Curse with the World Series win in 2004 at Fenway Park. But then again, didn’t they win because of the little boy who lived in Babe Ruth’s house was at a game and was hit in the face with a ball, so that broke the curse, right? Theo then resigned in 2005, only to be rehired back in 2006. He brought another World Series ring to Boston in ’07, in ’08 they made it to the ALCS only to lose to the Tampa Bay Rays and were swept by the Angels in the ’09 ALDS. It appeared that Boston was crumbling. Bad deals were made, guys were injured. Francona was gone and in October 2011, Theo resigned from the Red Sox, to take the job as a president of the Cubs. He hired Jed Hoyer and they brought over Anthony Rizzo from San Diego. Since the Five-Year plan has been set into motion, all we hear about in Chicago is the farm system and how everybody can’t wait till they all hit the bigs. The Big Jack & I, along with many fans, analysts and “baseball people” have been trying to figure out what they are doing. So, I’m taking a look back at Theo’s draft picks in Boston.

2003 17th pick in first round, David Murphy. He debuted in 2006 and played only a couple games before being traded to the Rangers with two other guys for Eric Gagne in ’07. A first round supplemental pick, compensation for losing Cliff Floyd in free agency, Matt Murton. Here in Chicago, I know that name because he came over to the Cubs in a four team trade that included the Twins, Expos and Red Sox. The Cubs also received Nomar Garciaparra and the Red Sox with Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. In 2006 he played 144 games and had a batting average of .297, 13 hr and 62 RBIs. Sadly he didn’t play much after that. He went to the A’s then Colorado where he played his last game in the bigs, in 2009. Jonathan Pappelbon was drafted in the fourth round. He debuted 7/31/05. He had 35 plus saves from ’06 – ’10. After 2011 like Theo, he left as a free agent to sign with the Phillies.

2004 in the second round 65th overall…Dustin Pedroia. He debuted in 2006 and played in 31 games. Next season he was awarded the 2007 Rookie of the Year. In ’08, he earned the MVP and a spot on The All Star team and again in ’09, ’10 and most recently in 2013. He’s a career .302 batter and has over 1200 hits and just under 500 RBIs. Cla Meredith is the only other draftee of this class that spent significant time in the majors. From Boston to San Diego to playing his last major league game with Baltimore. He appeared in 286 games posting a .500 record at 14 with a 3.62 era.

2005 was a big draft for Theo with the first round landing two compensation picks, the first one, 23rd pick was Jacobi Ellsbury first appeared in 2007 and since has a career .297 avg and has lead the AL in steals three times. In 2011 he made the All Star team, received the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove. Jacobi was a compensation pick from the Angels for Orlando Cabrera. But on December 6, 2013 he inked a seven year deal for $153 million with the Yankees. Pick 26 was a compensation pick form the Dodgers for Derek Lowe, Craig Hansen a relief pitcher that spent about 4 years in the bigs but ending his major league career in 2009 in Pittsburgh he appeared in 92 innings with a 6 plus era. The 42cd pick was supplemental for the loss of Pedro Martinez. Clay Buchholz, the two time All Star is 58-33 with a 3.6 era. He has only pitched two seasons with at least 25 starts. If he were to stay healthy, I wonder if he’d be up for the Cy Young in 2014. Jed Lowrie was the 45th pick that was given to the Bo Sox for the loss of Orlando Cabrera. He hasn’t really had a full season of play until 2013 with Oakland, where he racked up 75 RBIs and a .290 avg with 45 doubles and 80 runs. The last supplemental pick in the first round for Boston was pick number 47, Michael Bowden for the loss of Derrick Lowe. Bowden is a relief pitcher that played minimally in Boston but Theo sought him out in 2012 and he is now a Cub in middle relief. In the 14th round, Pedro Alvarez was drafted but did not sign. He entered the 2008 amateur draft and was the number 2 pick by the Pirates.

2006 #1 draft pick was outfielder Jason Place. He spent six years in the minor league system and left in 2011. 2cd pick, was Daniel Bard he’s a pitcher with just over 250 innings pitched and a 3.6 era. Josh Reddick came out of this class but is now playing in Oakland. Justin Masterson is the last notable signing to come out of this draft but he is now in Cleveland and went there for Victor Martinez. Both Brandon Belt and Logan Schafer were drafted in this class but didn’t sign.

In 2007, the first pick for the Bo Sox was Nick Hagadone who was a supplemental pick for the loss of Alex Gonzalez. He would later be involved with the trade that sent Masterson to the Indians for Martinez. Will Middlebrooks came out of the fifth round. The third basemen didn’t see the majors until after Theo left in 2012 because of a Kevin Youkilis injury. In 2013 he qualifies as a rookie playing in 94 games but didn’t put up great numbers. Let’s see if he can get 500+ at bats in the next couple of seasons. The 6th round produced, now Cubs starting first basemen, Anthony Rizzo. In 2013 he put up a .233 avg with 80 RBIs, 40 doubles and 23 home runs. Justin Grimm was drafted in this class but didn’t sign. He was later drafted by the Rangers but was acquired by the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal with Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez and CJ Edwards on 8/23/13.

From 2008 until 2011, the most notable draft pick would be Jackie Bradley who was chosen in the first round of the 2011 amateur draft and Allan Webster, P who was drafted in the 18h round by the Dodgers in the 2008 amateur draft and was sent to Boston along with James Loney in the deal that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodogers. The man heading up the Red Sox minor league system is Xander Bogearts, he was signed as an amateur free agent in 2009. He has played a handful of games for Boston in 2013 splitting the 12 games at 3rd and Shortstop. All in all, at the end of the day the Boston Red Sox farm system is ranked #1 according to Baseball America’s 2013 rankings. Where were the Cubbies, you ask? Well tied for fifth, with a team that mirrors it’s rebuilding phase, the Kansas City Royals. The major difference between both systems, market size. Chicago is the third largest market in the country, whereas Kansas City doesn’t make the top 30.

Boston is considered the seventh largest market and hosted and won the World Series for 2013. This starting lineup held four of Theo’s alumni with an average age of 30 with the exception of David Ortiz at 37 and 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks, 24. When it came to the World Series Middlebrooks was replaced with Xander Bogearts at 3rd and we saw Pedroia, Saltalamachia and Ellsbury. Even Buchholz had a swing at the plate when he started in St. Louis. The MVP of the World Series, “Big Papi” David Ortiz. Compared to the 2007 World Series team that had Pedroia and Ellsbury, Theo’s picks and only a handful of starters that came out of the Red Sox farm system. Theo was able to bring a second World Series to Boston in 4 years by building a team similar to the 2013 World Series team with a mixture of youth and expeirence.

The 2012 draft for the cubs started out with OF Albert Almora. He’s expected to play center field and should be ready for the MLB in 2016. He’s considered a five-tool player. This young man drafted out of high school is expected to fall just shy of being a star but should have great fantasy numbers. With this description, I think of Aramis Ramirez, who left the Cubs for Milwaukee, giving Theo a first round supplemental pick, Pierce Johnson. The 6’3 right hander owns a plus fastball with the potential for a plus curveball. Cubs fans should expect to see him in 2015. Second supplemental pick in the first round for the loss of Carlos Peña, Paul Blackburn. Out of high school and into the minors, the right hander out of California went 2-3 in the Arizona fall league with a 3.3 era and started 12 games. With continued development, he could be ready to start in time to be competitive in 2016.

The 2013 draft saw 3B Kris Bryant taken in the first round, second pick. He spent a majority of 2013 in single A, where he posted a .336 batting average. With only 128 at bats, he was able to hit 9 home runs with 32 RBIs and 22 runs. He did K 35 times, but he’s expected to be a power hitter. He’s solid on the field and in 88 chances only had 3 errors and was able to turn 3 double plays. All subsequent picks, have very little playing time in the minors, leaving them under the needs to get more playing time.

At the end of the day, to have a winning team, a strong farm system is great to build on but no matter how effective the Nationals farm system was before Strasburg and Harper came up, they haven’t won a World Series or even their division. The Astros farm system in 2013 was ranked #2 and they weren’t even close to any shot a playoff run nor will they be considered to make any kind of run soon. Theo’s five year plan starts to take hold in 2016 which don’t be fooled, doesn’t mean that they will win, it means they will be competitive. With Jeff Samardzjilla, seemingly on his way out of Chicago, he’s due for free agency in 2015. That leaves us with Edwin Jackson who has four years left on his contract and this offseason, Theo and Jed have been very noncommittal with contracts, making most deals with one or two year contracts. As a Cubs fan, all we can do is sit and wait. Wait to see if in 2016, Theo & Jed can make a few key free agent signings or trades to bring some veterans to the line up to mix up the youth expected to invade in ’15 & ’16. With the drafting and filling the system, how many of them are just future trade pieces? As I said, we’ll have to wait and see. Now I know through out this I threw some random pieces in there. Boston 7th largest market 3 World Series in 10 years after a “curse” was lifted. Kansas City, not even in the top 30 for media markets in the US but they’re farm system is tied with the Chicago Cubs system. Boston has the best farm system but the Astros and Padres follow them to beat out the Rangers at the four spot, which is in the 5th largest market, that hosted the World Series three years straight. If the Rickets are using their own money to fund the renovations of Wrigley Field and the one “oh so Horrible” contract of Alfonsio Soriano is now gone. Then essentially there should be money to spend, not just to spend it but spend it wisely to “compete” in today’s market where multi-million dollar contracts are handed out like candy on Haloween. Is Theo right or wrong with his five year plan? Do I as a Cubs fan have to like it? No. As I said before We’ll have to wait and see. I’m wondering if Theo was brought over just to dispel the “curse.” Then again he can only do that if he produces a World Series, which I don’t see happening during his tenure as President of Cubs operations. What confuses me is, in Boston, he did it in four years? But as a Cubs fan, haven’t we waited long enough but to the office, what’s a few more years? Then again, Theo’s five year plan has driven me to jump on the Dodgers bandwagon, where they’re President said we want to win now, unlike some other teams with their five year plans. Not only would a World Series at Wrigley Field break the curse and have the biggest celebration for a World Series winner. They could even do a World Series winner tour of the continental US. But more important than anything to every Cubs fan would be able to say yea but you guys won in 2005 so go Suck the Fox!

@mantime8

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