There has been a lot of talk about the newest free agent in major league baseball. If we know one thing, this man has one hell of a production staff, I mean look at this quality (Click to open the 20 minute Cespedes showcase video, yes 20 minutes, there’s a pig on a spit at the end, not sure why, but if you are against that type of thing, please don’t watch). The video in it of itself is impressive, there is no denying that, it’s just hard to get past the “second coming” feel it has to it. What we also know is that the Cubs have been consistently mentioned as one of the 6 teams that are showing serious interest, along with the Marlins, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers (not so much since Prince?), and a mystery team. When we really take a look at who he is, does the baseball talent warrant the hoopla surrounding the latest Cuban defector? Let’s get to know him.
“El Talento or La Potencia”…. I didn’t make that up, was born on October 10, 1985 per his birth certificate, and wikipedia, not sure which I trust more. So let’s stop right there, he is already 26 years old with no minor league experience, let alone major league experience. New Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has already
gone on record saying if the Cubs were to ink Cespedes that he would want at least 100 at bats at the minor league level before cracking a major league roster. Something else to consider, before Cespedes was declared an MLB free agent he took his talents to the Dominican Winter League, and struggled hitting .143 and striking 10 times in 35 AB’s. The Dominican Winter League is basically the equivilant of MLB’s AAA, so those numbers would speak to Hoyer’s concern about getting Cespedes enough at bats.
However, Cespedes did star for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic hitting .458 with a double, 3 triples, 2 home runs, 5 runs, and 5 RBI in 6 games. The performance in the WBC obviously opened some eyes among MLB scouts. He also has put up consistently solid numbers in the Cuban National Series. His numbers seem to only get better the older he gets. That is a perfect argument for say, Adam Katz, Cespedes’ agent. He can clearly demonstrate a track record of constant improvement, as well as the fact that his client has had MVP type numbers that last few years at 24 and 25 years old.
Those are just a couple of the arguments, or examples out there being for or against the Cubs going after him. I don’t think that either the WBC or the results of the Domincan Winter League are a large enough sample size to say Cespedes will be this type of player or that type of player. That being said, the thing that has me a little turned off about Cespedes is the obvious attitude, or cockiness that he and his “crew” have. Don’t get me wrong, great players need to have the certain something about them, it is a part of what makes them great. But Cespedes has never done anything outside the Cuban National Series, and that’s not his fault, he’s never had the chance. My concern is how will he react when he struggles at the
highest level, because all baseball players do, it will happen. Can he make the necessary adjustments after major league pitching adjusts to him? Remains to be seen. Another thing to think about is the changing culture of the Chicago Cubs. Theo and the new regime have built this team to resemble the complete opposite of what it used to. This team is now made up of guys that are baseball players, and judging by Cespedes’ video, he’s great at catching a ball behind his back, but can he hit a cut off man? That’s what this organization wants, a ballplayer, not a sideshow, and I’m worried that he is more of the latter than the former.
Finally, in my opinion, if the money is right I think the Cubs have nothing to lose in acquiring Cespedes. But if they are going to get into a bidding war, than it’s not worth it. The Cubs can’t afford to throw a boat load of money in his direction (which he is rumored to be getting offered from the Marlins), because that would resemble the way the Cubs used to do things. There is no reason to add a long term, payroll eating contract, but if they can find a way to see what this kid has without breaking the bank the Cubs might find themselves a five tool CF patrolling Wrigley Field for years to come.
What should the Cubs do with Cespedes??
Thanks for reading!
– George Cotugno