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On David Bote and the internet

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You read a lot of things about Bote online. Most of them are wrong.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The internet is the best thing ever for educating people about baseball. Equally and oppositely, the internet is the worst thing available for educating people about baseball. It depends upon whether someone is interested in learning, or droning. David Bote isn’t going to be traded, and no matter how many trade rumors it takes on-line, trading him is unlikely to ever make much sense.

I can’t go two days without reading (from Cubs fans) that David Bote is going to be traded. He isn’t. Bote is flexible defensively, probably better than Tommy La Stella, bordering on Mark DeRosa, and cost controlled for years. In a few years, if Kris Bryant leaves via free agency, Bote would be an entirely adequate (at worst) replacement.

Why do Cubs fans, of all people, think Bote has to be traded? The sense of dread is rather heavy. However, the logic behind “Bote has to be traded” is rather understandable. For classic internet-think reasons. To explain, I hop into the wayback machine.

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Which year do you want the prospect wayback machine to go to? July and August 2014 were ideal. How about the 2005 range? Or maybe the mid 1990’s? The early eighties, or the start of the seventies? Let’s choose 1991.

The wayback machine stops at 1991. Prospect coverage is magazines. You get no audio streams of baseball games, MLB or MiLB. You want to find out how that one kid you’re interested in is doing? You might get an update when The Sporting News arrives in your mailbox.

Things used to be different. It wasn’t a case of following people on Twitter who provide you clear video of the breaking ball of a system prospect. At least ESPN’s SportsCenter is about sports. However, their Top 10 is unlikely to track anyone in any team’s pipeline.

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This is what quite a few baseball fans are familiar with. They aren’t necessarily about putting together a Prospect Tracker on Fangraphs regarding a cross-section of line drive percentage and exit velocity. They know the guys on the parent club. This is reality. Not specifically for Bleed Cubbie Blue regulars, but for quite a few people. Including those on Facebook and Twitter, often.

When people talk trades, they want their team to add guys they are familiar with, and think will help the team win. From whatever backgrounds that incorporates. If a fan wants the Cubs to trade for Chris Archer, for instance, they’re often asked the basic response. “For what?”

These aren’t necessarily Baseball America subscribers. They like the Cubs, but have no specific time or interest in any sort of encyclopedic knowledge of the pipeline. They want Archer. Bote looks “expendable”, so he is their primary outgoing piece.

It’s as simple as that, usually. Baseball is a simple game, and fans like parades. If trading Bote makes the fan more expectant of another parade, they roll with it. Regardless the weight of “pre-arbitration” and “values against the spending limits”. They want Archer, and, to them, Bote makes sense.

Bote isn’t getting traded, unless a really good pitcher is suddenly made available very soon. And that organization likes Bote more than they should. Ben Zobrist figures to be gone by 2020, if not sooner. Having players in a pipeline that can fill in successfully is a goal. An even better goal is to have so much depth, that those players spend more time in the upper minors than they ought.

Adding quality is generally a good thing. If a team can do so at a relatively minor cost is even better. Bote isn’t blocked. He’ll get plenty of at-bats through September, and maybe into October. He isn’t likely to be traded, regardless what anyone online cooking to improve his brand says. Bote is exactly the type of player the Cubs dig drafting on the third day of the draft. And his development has been otherworldly.

Bote isn’t going anywhere. He’s more valuable to the Cubs than what he would bring back in trade. Largely, because he’s about an ideal Joe Maddon player. And Maddon is an ideal manager for the internet era. Maddon is ideal because people are manic about his managing, one way or the other. Which leads to people commenting on Maddon, and trades the Cubs should make. Like, trading Bote. Best thing ever: worst thing ever.