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Cubs System Sonogram Looks Outside The System

This week, System Sonogram looks back more than a decade.

Brian Kersey

All tangential sports fans remember the 2002 MLB draft. Hailed at the time as a turning point, ESPN shifted coverage away from the NBA to it. When the Red Sox drafted Jon Lester, he was immediately hailed as a team savior. He was immediately run straight to the top of the major prospect lists, and stayed there his entire time through the system. Upon arriving in Boston, he never faced any struggles.

Except, none of that is true.

In June 2002, the Red Sox drafted Jon Lester. That much is definitely true. I'm not horribly conversant in what the Red Sox system (which is different from the talent in their system, which is easier to research) was set up like at the time. They had a rather talented system, I'm going to assume. It was a rather well-functioning system.

Some of the 2002 draft information is on the record, though. Lester was the 57th pick, right after the Cubs took Brian Dopirak. Joey Votto had gone earlier in the round, and Brian McCann would go later. However, to assume one guy would have had the same career in another system is a rather fruitless venture, as a system is a system. It isn't a vending machine, where you press D-7 and get a Snickers bar that tastes exactly like the Snickers bar you had last time. Development matters.

Nonetheless, Lester was the first pick for the Red Sox that year. Later that year, Theo Epstein would take the reins as the team's general manager. He would make a few changes, though I have no real idea what they were. What can't be very well argued is that much of Lester's early minor league numbers weren't very earth-shaking. He struck out quite a few. He walked more than you'd prefer. His WHIP was usually above 1.3. And he became noticed after a solid season in Double-A (surprise).


I'm going to take a tangent now. The minor league system is not the entirety of the Chicago Cubs. Nor is dealing with the rooftops. Nor is the parent club's roster. Or the history of the team. Also, there is no litmus test for being a fan of the Chicago Cubs, nor am I aware of any 'stars' of any value for knowledge or acute awareness. Cubs blogs are a place to get together and, largely, discuss information, opinions, commiserate, and gossip about the Cubs.

While I write on the draft and the minor league system, that doesn't make them any more or less important than they are. Or me than I am. While it is perfectly valid to "not care about" aspects of the club, from history to concessions or community involvement to lefty relievers, that doesn't make them unimportant. To claim that an aspect is unimportant is awfully close to claiming that BCB is "more yours" than someone concerned about minutiae. In reality, baseball is largely minutiae for most of us.

I will continue to write on the system (and the draft) because they are important to me. As my prattling usually gets commentary responses, these have weight with at least some BCB readers. Though the development of an outfielder in A-Ball might be nowhere near as important as the free agency situation for next off season, or the team's gate in 2014, there is no litmus test on BCB. Everything is important in the greater mosaic.


Back to the Lester vignette, to summarize the 'after' of the Boston system, Some changes, with Epstein and his deputies fingerprints all over them, were made. Some worked. Some didn't. But the "what" is far more important than the "who". Epstein as a figurehead is of very little relevance. What decisions in development are being made are very important. And will always be up for discussion here.

The name of the person only matters as that person tends to have a system, or style. The foundation, not the figurehead, is what matters. And yes, Virginia, a system does matter. As do parking problems and vacuums in the outfield. Regarding the parent club, I will be more interested in long-range questions than short-term items. Not because short-term isn't important, as everything is. Instead, my opinion on Darwin Barney's offense or Ryan Kalish's defense is of very little value. Other people are much better informed on those items. My bailiwick tends to be the minors and the draft. While arguably less important than some other aspects, I won't take kindly to either being considered unimportant.

In short, if you "don't care" about the affiliates, that's fine. However, if you think the past, present, or future of development in the system "isn't important", then, yeah, we'll disagree on that.

Three Up/Three Down

I could do the entire Three Down section looking at Daytona's stat page.

Dan Vogelbach has a OPS of .459.

Five of Daytona's starting pitchers (Rob Zastryzny, Jose Rosario, Tayler Scott, Ben Wells, and Yao-Lin Wang) have a WHIP at or over 1.7.

Iowa first baseman Lars Anderson has an OPS of .157

Kane County's Shawon Dunston Jr. has an OPS of .452.

Three Up

Tennessee third baseman Kris Bryant has an OPS of 1.050 and has committed only three errors.

Teammate Armando Rivero has a WHIP of 0.68. He has fanned 15 in 7 1/3 innings.

Iowa SP Tsuyoshi Wada has a WHIP of 0.56 through three starts. He has fanned over a batter per inning.

Last season's Cougars' WHIP was a league worst 1.49. This year, only five of the 15 pitchers on the Kane County roster have a WHIP over 1.38. The Cougars are currently third in the league with a WHIP of 1.26.

Daytona's Felix Pena has been nails so far. In four starts, he has a WHIP of 0.81 and has cracked The Zygote 50 at 19(P) replacing Dillon Maples, who remains injured.


Not in either section, from AZ Phil's reports, it seems that Eloy Jimenez is the everyday DH for the extended spring training Cubs. Translation to me, they want him to get every opportunity they can for him to hit, but they fear his glove might not be advanced enough to play in a game where 20-year-olds are better defensively. If Jimenez is taking regular reps in the outfield before games, and is (presumably) sent to the DSL to get every day playing time (including a spot in right field most days), I'm totally good with that. After all, players develop at their pace, not ours.

In any system.