Wrigley Field Park Factors: Hits 94; Runs 94; HRs 110
(100 is average, under 100 is favorable to pitchers)
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: $8 2003: $29
Big, powerful and has a great breaking pitch, Prior was the second pick in the 2001 amateur draft and immediately became the consensus top pitching prospect in the minors. His change gives him a solid third pitch. Prior made his debut with the Cubs in mid-2002 and hasn't disappointed since. He has struck out 1.20 major-league batters per inning so far in his career. The guy to build your staff around. Prior's spring has been slowed by an inflamed Achilles tendon and he could miss the first month. I've softened his price.
Values ~ 2000: $0 2001: $13 2002: $8 2003: $16
Wood has a upper 90's fastball and a very impressive curve that he will throw any time in the count. He also has a much-improved change and will occasionally mix in a slider or cut fastball. When I last saw Wood pitch, he had a good fastball that was hitting 95-96 on the gun and a curve that was dominant when he got on top of the pitch and could master a sharp break. Occasionally he released from the side and the pitch would roll, becoming more hittable. His walk rate held last year after dropping from .64 in 1999 after returning from surgery to .53 in 2001 to .45 to .46 last year. But his K rate, already over 1 increased 24% last year and his hit rate decreased 9%. Scouts are concerned about further injury resulting from his high-impact delivery; in the meantime, enjoy the ride.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: -$6 2002: -$2 2003: $11
Zambrano throws a mid 90's fastball and a slider. He improved all of his ratios last year as he gained better command of his stuff. There's still some additional room for improvement since he'll turn just 23 in mid-season.
Values ~ 2000: $31 2001: $31 2002: $21 2003: $12
Maddux has become more dependent on a quality bullpen to secure his wins; he averaged just 5.97 IP per start over the past two years. Maddux still has exceptional control and throws a variety of breaking pitches, changes speeds constantly, and moves the ball around staying forever on the corners. Maddux works fast and consistently gets ahead of hitters, forcing them to either swing at a pitch just off the plate after falling behind, or to go after his first pitch. Consequently, he throws relatively few pitches per start. He has pinpoint control of a fastball that he starts off the plate and runs back to the outside edge. He's not as dominant as he was 1992-98 and it's very unlikely he'll return to $20+ value.
Values ~ 2000: -$4 2001: -$13 2002: $10 2003: $9
Clement's walk rate improved 6% last year after improvements of 17% and 18% the previous two years. His improved command has enabled him to fulfill some of the high expectations people have had for him. It's said if he just aimed for the middle of the plate, the movement on his pitches would be enough to make him effective. He is a sinker/slider pitcher who can get it up into the mid-90ís. He's capable of increasing value.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: -$2
Mitre is a sinker/slider pitcher who doesn't throw hard and has to locate to be effective. He showed good control at AA last year but posted a 1.11 hit rate and was roughed up during his brief visit to the Show. He could fill in the Cub rotation until Prior returns, but isn't a fantasy consideration.
Values ~ 2000: $12 2001: -$13 2002: -$19 2003: -$22
Dempster continued to free fall last year. His hit rate increased 6% following increases of 11% and 6% the previous 2 years. Dempster throws a low 90s fastball with some running movement. He has an outstanding slider with a tight rotation and will mix in a change. When he can locate the fastball and get ahead in the count, the slider is a devastating pitch because hitters have difficulty recognizing it. Dempster had Tommy John surgery last August and is not expected back until late in the year, which may enable the Cubs to decide whether to pick up his option for 2005. You can wait until next year.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: -$4 2002: $9 2003: $24
Borowski had been a fringe major-leaguer, pitching a total of 70.2 innings between '95-'01 but gave the Cubs much needed quality relief work and posted solid ratios in 2002. Still, it was completely unexpected that he would end up as Cubs closer when Alfonseca went down last spring and hold onto the job all season. He's got a low 90's fastball and showed a decent breaking pitch when I saw him. No reason now not to expect him to deliver a similar value in 2004.
Values ~ 2000: $13 2001: $6 2002: $14 2003: $17
After apparently turning a corner when he was moved to the bullpen in 2000, Hawkins reverted to his inconsistent form in 2001 and lost the closer role. Since being moved into a set-up role, his ratios have improved and he's been very effective the last two years. Most remarkable has been his .19 walk rate over the last two years, a 52% improvement over his career rate. I haven't seen Hawkins pitch recently, but when I last saw him, he was attempting to get by almost solely on his mid 90's fastball and showed little command of the occasional curve. I need to see him again. Also, he is said to leave the ball up in the zone when he gets tired, explaining why his HR rate, very high when he started improved significantly after the move to the pen. Normally I don't buy pitchers like Hawkins in the draft, but will seek one out when I have a roster spot to fill in-season because of the tremendous value they can deliver especially to your ERA and WHIP categories. Still, he belongs on most draft lists.
Values ~ 2000: -$10 2001: $10 2002: -$8 2003: $6
Inconsistency, thy name is Farnsworth; just look at his yearly values! Farnsworth basically has just two pitches - a two-seam fastball and a slider - and he can hit 96 with his heat. Back in 2001, Farnsworth had a walk rate of .35; if he can recapture that degree of plate command, he'd be one heck of a pitcher. I'll have him on my list based on that chance; with Borowski apparently holding down the closer spot, Farnsworth should be affordable.
Values ~ 2000: $13 2001: $7 2002: $13 2003: $4
Remlinger excelled as the primary lefthanded reliever in the Atlanta bullpen for four years but was considerably less effective last year with the Cubs. His walk rate was 38% higher last year than it was during his time in Atlanta and his HR rate was 77% higher. His best pitch is a change which he mixes in with a low 90s fastball and slider. He'll be 38 this year, although he could deliver a value in the $5-7 range again, I think I'd look elsewhere. Remlinger has responded slowly to offseason surgery and will open the season on the DL.
Values ~ 2000: -$6 2001: NA 2002: -$7 2003: $3
Mercker missed most of 2000 and all of 2001 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. His K/BB rate was unappealing and he's had high hit rates the past few years although his hit rate was better last year. He is a flyball pitcher and his HR rate tends to be high. Mercker pitched well when I last saw him, keeping hitters off-balance with a very effective change-up and mixing in a mid-80s fastball, slider and curve. I'll leave him to other owners. He's had a sore back this spring which has improved according to recent reports.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: -$3
Wellemeyer has put up good ratios while making steady progress through the minors. His numbers at A/AA in 2002 were noteworthy (Hit Rate = .80; K/BB Ratio = 3.35 with better than a strikeout an inning; HR Rate = .075) and had nearly identical numbers (.82/3.00/.058) last year at AA/AAA when he got the call. But then he struggled trying to pitch in relief in Chicago and was less effective when he returned to AAA. He's supposed to have a low 90s fastball and a good breaking pitch. Sometimes pitchers have trouble making the transition from the rotation to the pen; that may have happened here and it may have played on his confidence. Wellemeyer has had a good spring and is likely to open the season in the pen.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: $0 2003: NA
Pratt posted mixed ratios at AAA last year (Hit Rate = .94; K/BB Ratio = 2.09; HR Rate = .064), but continues to post high walk rates. He has the reputation of a finesse lefty with a deceptive delivery, an average fastball and good breaking pitches. It's hard to imagine him having success at this level without better plate command.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: NA
Wuertz repeated AAA last year without notable improvement. He has had both unacceptably high hit and home run rates and low K rates. Last years ratios alone: Hit Rate = 1.13; K/BB Ratio = 2.63; HR Rate = .129. Pass until he proves himself at this level.