Friday, August 2, 2013

Nothing’s certain when it comes to baseball and minor league prospects

2013 has been a crummy season for baseball fans in Chicago – the Cubs have been as bad as expected, and the White Sox have managed to be even worse.

Restoring the Sox to contender status?
Which is why the past week with its trade deadline has been anticipated – the idea that some established Major League ballplayers could be shipped off for several young prospects who will develop into talent.

TAKING THE REST of this season for a loss could pay off big! In theory.

My point being that minor league prospects are uncertain. There are so many factors that go into determining whether any success they had at lower levels of professional baseball will translate into success in the American or National leagues.
Replacing Ron Santo someday?

There’s no guarantee that Avisail Garcia (acquired from the Detroit Tigers as part of the deal that sent former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox) will be a big hitter for the White Sox – even though he has had some success in the Tigers’ minor league system.

The same goes for Corey Black, whom the Cubs acquired from the New York Yankees’ system in exchange for Alfonso Soriano. Or the slew of ballplayers – Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm, along with one or two players to be named later – that the Cubs got from the Texas Rangers in exchange for pitcher Matt Garza.

Best minor league trade payoff ever?
PEAVY, SORIANO AND Garza are all expected to help their new ball clubs be contenders for a playoff spot in 2013. That much is certain.

What is uncertain is whether the newcomers will translate into anything for the Chicago ball clubs? They might, or they might not. We’re not going to know for several years whether these deals were worth doing, or not!

So those people (particularly Cubs fans) who are convinced that they have now restocked their organization to the point where they should be regarded as pennant contenders ought to take pause.

It would be nice if it works out that way. Although trades such as the one in 1977 when the White Sox sent shortstop Bucky Dent to the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Oscar Gamble (who had the best year of his career during his single season on the Sout' Side) and several minor league prospects (one of whom went on to become 1983 Cy Young Award winner LaMarr "Dewey" Hoyt) are so rare.

I REMEMBER THIS 36-year-old deal so much because its payoff was so unique.

No wonder the Cubs haven't won in decades
Some of the biggest-name minor leaguers never translate into Major League success.

I still recall Karl Pagel – a former Texas League and American Association MVP while playing with Chicago Cubs minor league affiliates. I recall how he was supposed to be a power hitter who would be able to take advantage of Wrigley Field’s configuration and become a dangerous major league hitter.

In parts of 5 seasons (48 games overall), he managed all of 1 home run – which he hit while playing for the Cleveland Indians in 1981 after the Cubs gave up on him.

WHICH IS ABOUT the same as the one-time White Sox shortstop Harry Chappas – who had a big year in 1978 playing for Appleton of the Midwest League. That translated into him getting a shot with the Sox – although the only thing that’s really memorable about him was his height.

Remembered solely for his height (or lack of)
Officially, he was 5-feet, 3-inches tall, although some suspect he was more like 5’-6” and might have been more of a gimmick by then-Sox owner Bill Veeck. He did equal Pagel, however, in terms of total home runs hit in the major leagues.

These two cases aren’t the least bit unique. I’m sure other fans could come up with countless more names of ballplayers – both younger and older – who never amounted to their hype.

So are Garcia and Olt future All-Stars at right field and third base respectively for the White Sox and Cubs? Or are they just a few more additions to the list of no-names that gets longer and longer with each passing baseball season?


No comments: