Who is Marquez Smith?

A few week ago, the venerable Dan Szymborski released his major league equivalents (zMLEs), which are basically predictions of how recent minor league performance would translate into the majors. Today, the ever-prescient Carson Cistulli observed a particular AAA Cub worthy of a second look:

Name: Marquez Smith, 25, 3B
Organization: Chicago (NL) Level: Triple-A
Actual: 341 PA, .314/.384/.574 (.358 BABIP), .412 wOBA
zMLE: 341 PA, .278/.340/.502 (.317 BABIP), .366 wOBA

• So far as I can tell, has never, ever, never, ever, never been on a prospect list of any sort. Or, at least not recently he hasn’t.
• Per Scout.com, was drafted a total of four times: 36th round of 2003 draft by Twins, 46th round of 2004 draft by Angels, 35th round of 2006 draft by Cubs, and, finally, by Cubs in eighth round of 2007 draft from Clemson University.
• Finished at +15 runs afield in 2008, per TotalZone, and +22 runs in 2009.
• Is native of Panama City, Florida, home of Shuckums Oyster Bar.
• Shuckums: “We Shuck’um, You Suck’um.”
First of all, Marquez Smith is from my hometown, and therefore my new favorite Cub. Secondly, he appears to have had a pretty stellar 2010 campaign. The only knock on his statistics seems to be his high BABIP (a career high for Smith). Szymborski's zMLE rightly projects a lower BABIP, but the other splits still look nifty: good patience (.340 OBP) and good power (.502 SLG).

If Smith can hack it at first base, he may pose an interesting problem to the Cubs front office this Spring Training. Otherwise, he's probably stuck in Iowa until Aramis Ramirez hands him the reins.

What this means for the Cubs:
While analyzing Kosuke Fukudome, we recently discussed the Cubs Big Six Contracts. Aramis Ramirez happens to be one of those contracts. With a young guy like Smith waiting in the wings, maybe soon is the best time to sell Ramirez. Perhaps the Cubs could exchange Ramirez for a mid-level prospect? Even he's as hot as he was at the end of 2010, maybe we can flip him for Stephen Strasburg? Kidding.

This is not to say Aramis Ramirez is worthless. Far from it: He's an amazing bat and has some good years left in him. Moreover, he signed under market value several years ago just to stay with the Cubs. He's a quality guy and losing him would not mean more wins for the 2011 Cubs.

At the same time, though, he's an aging slugger, he's a sub-par defender (according to UZR and, well, just about every thing and one else), and he's entering the final guaranteed year of his contract.

The 2010 season aside, Ramirez has hit close to a .400 wOBA for the last 20,000. a .400 wOBA is really good. But the Cubs probably aren't coming too close to a championship in 2011. So, if management is serious about restructuring and creating a "youth movement," then turning Aramis Ramirez into a 25-year-old outfielder is a great place to start.

Especially if it brings a Bay County product to the plate.

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  1. You've been putting up some great stuff lately, Brad.

    I've always been a fan of Smith's, but never knew if he'd have the bat to stick at 3rd. It was clear he had the glove to do so and now appears to have the stick as well. The question is, will the Cubs protect him or let him walk in the Rule 5? No chance some other team doesn't take him if he's available and if he's not on the 40-man, he'll be available. The Cubs added Chirinos to their roster today all but guaranteeing that Hill will be non-tendered, which is good news. They have 39 on their 40-man roster, but will free up some spot when players file for free agency (is Nady the only one?). The Cubs may have to move some other players off the 40-man (Guzman will come off), but it would be silly to not protect Smith.

  2. Yeah. Losing Smith right now -- in the waning days of the Aramis Ramirez era -- would be a real loss. If it looks like Smith doesn't have a spot on the 40 man, I'd rather see Ramirez get traded for two or three, cheap quad-A guys.

    Thanks, as always, for the input mb!

  3. The Cubs will lose Smith after all. They did not add him to their 40-man roster. I have no idea why and they appear set to tender Koyie Hill a contract despite having 4 catchers on the 40-man roster.