Elias Rankings for Cubs Free Agents
The official Elias Rankings are out and MLB.com does their usual job of half-assery by not giving out the full list, but at least we know Joe Mauer is the top AL catcher. Gee thanks!
The ESPN free agent tracker gives the listings for those that have filed so far and it looks like SI.com has finally come through with the full list of potential free agents. For those unaware of the system or need a refresher, Elias has come up with some rather archaic ranking system that takes the last two years worth of stats and ranks every player in baseball...mostly relying on counting stats (decent explanation of the point system can be found near the end of this mlb.com article or read through this Tigers fans blog who is trying to reverse engineer their rankings). The importance of it is that MLB uses it to figure out free agent compensation. A type "A" player that is offered arbitration by his former team and is signed by a new team will net his old club a first round draft pick and a supplemental draft pick between the first and second round. A type "B" free agent nets his old team just a supplemental pick. Also, the first 15 picks in the draft are protected, so a team drafting in one of those slots that signs a type "A" free agent would give up their second round pick and so on.
For the Cubs...
Ryan Dempster - A
Bob Howry - A
Kerry Wood - A
Jim Edmonds, Chad Fox, Henry Blanco, Daryle Ward and Jon Lieber weren't in the top 40% of their positions. It's important to note that for the Elias Rankings there are essentially five positions - starting pitcher, relief pitcher, catcher, outfielders/first basmen(and DH for the AL), and infielders (2B, SS, 3B).
Bobby Abreu - A
Raul Ibanez - A
Mark Teixeira - A
Orlando Hudson - A
Derek Lowe - A
A.J. Burnett - A
Brian Fuentes - A
C.C. Sabathia - A
Derek Lowe - A
Milton Bradley - B
Randy Wolf - B
Garrett Anderson - B
Milton Bradley - B
Joe Beimel - B
Rafael Furcal - no compensation
If you're wondering how Bob Howry is a Type A free agent, remember it's two years worth of rankings and there are a lot of relief pitchers in baseball....apparently 80% of them worst than Howry. If you're wondering how Furcal isn't rated at all, he's only played 172 games over two seasons and is being compared to every second basemen, shortstop and third basemen in the league which sure doesn't seem fair. Of course, it's not fair to group center fielders with first basemen and corner outfielders either. The non-ranking Furcal will certainly boost his stock a bit in the free agent market as will Bradley's "B" status.
The rankings for Dempster and Wood are good things for the Cubs. Since they want to keep both pitchers, it's a no-brainer to offer them arbitration even at the risk of paying a potentially higher one year salary if they do accept it. Since both players will certainly be signing multi-year deals, there's really no risk of them getting inflated arbitration prices. And if they end up losing them, the Cubs will be compensated handsomely. The Type "A" for Howry though is unfortunate. If he was a Type "B" free agent, a team probably wouldn't hesitate to sign Howry, even if he was offered arbitration by the Cubs, since they wouldn't lose any draft picks. The Cubs though could gain one in the supplemental round. Think Jason Kendall last year, a Type "B" free agent that the Cubs weren't planning to bring back, but since it didn't cost the Brewers a draft pick they signed him before the arbitration deadline and the Cubs received an extra supplemental round pick. The same happened with Juan Pierre and the Dodgers the year before which turned into a key trading chip (Josh Donaldson) in getting Rich Harden. WIth Howry a Type "A" free agent and assuming he's not coming back to the Cubs, there's a good chance he won't be signed until after the deadline to offer arbitration (December 1st) as teams will not want to risk having to give up a potential first or second round pick (or possibly third if they go on a Type A spending spree). That leaves the ball in the Cubs court and risk offering Bob Howry arbitration and the chance that he'll accept it, which would likely mean a one-year salary a lot higher than the Cubs would want to pay for Home Run Howry's services. As Arizona Phil in the comments explained, the Cubs could get away with offering arbitration to Howry in hopes of still getting draft picks and if he does end up accepting it, the Cubs could just release him in spring training at a severe discount, something the Padres did recently with Todd Walker and a loophole I'm sure the MLBPA will be sure to get removed in the next CBA negotiations.
If the Cubs do dip into the free agents waters, their first round pick at #32 is certainly not protected but low enough that it's not something they need to really worry about it. If you're wondering why they're picking #32 when there are only 30 teams, three ballclubs (Nats, Mariners, Yankees) get an extra first round pick for not signing their first round picks last year. And if Dempster, Wood or Howry were to sign somewhere else the Cubs would likely get some extra supplemental draft picks and improve their spot in the first round.The Cubs have so far expressed a desire for left-handed hitting and bullpen arms although indications have been they prefer the trade market over the free agent market but that is all subject to change. We'll see what they do about a left-handed middle of the order bat but guys like Alan Embree, Brian Shouse and Joe Beimel might be interesting relief options as Type "B" free agents.
trevor clifton (high-A) could be interesting in a couple seasons...could even become a high/middle rotation guy. he's got a lot of pluses in his pitching except control.
eric leal's (high-A) progression through the minors should be worth watching even if only projects to be an mid/end-rotation starter.
we also gotta keep a long-distance eye on guys like jose paulino (ss-A) and preston morrison (A).
As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.
I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.
Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.
Wow - Pierce Johnson with an ERA of 8.01 in 42IP!
What a stud prospect! Must be pitching with a pierced johnson.
Looks like Ryan Williams is the only legit prospect there. That is sad...
Well it would seem that's all they need now. "Stropy" can have his moments, but he's been more consistent post-asg.
Take THAT, Cardinals -- you beat Fernandez, we beat Sale.
I really like Lackey as a 6-inning pitcher.
Three amigos? Because the Dominican, the Venezuelan, and the Cuban?
Maybe the three-headed dragon?
Who says Contreras can't frame? Stone cold robbery of Eaton with that called third strike for the first out in the eighth
Three amigos time?
he should hit more of those. that would be an ideal outcome. /moneyballs
Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.
...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.
I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.
He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.
How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.