Friday, October 14, 2011

Brett Jackson Is Fair Compensation For Theo Epstein?

Apparently, Keith Law of ESPN suggested that outfielder Brett Jackson is a "non-star prospect" and would make fair compensation for the Cubs acquisition of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Okay, that leaves us two items to ponder: (1) Is Brett Jackson being overrated by us Cubs fans? And (2) what is fair compensation for Epstein?

Brett Jackson's Value
Let's take a look at Jackson's numbers so far:

Year Age Tm Lev G PA HR SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 20 3 Teams A-A--Rk 53 249 8 13 2 .318 .418 .488 .906
2010 21 2 Teams A+-AA 128 580 12 30 11 .297 .395 .493 .888
2011 22 2 Teams AA-AAA 115 512 20 21 7 .274 .379 .490 .869
3 Seasons 296 1341 40 64 20 .292 .393 .491 .884
AA (2 seasons) AA 128 565 16 33 10 .266 .370 .454 .823
A (1 season) A 26 128 7 11 1 .295 .383 .545 .927
Rk (1 season) Rk 3 15 0 0 0 .455 .533 .636 1.170
A- (1 season) A- 24 106 1 2 1 .330 .443 .398 .841
AAA (1 season) AAA 48 215 10 6 1 .297 .388 .551 .939
A+ (1 season) A+ 67 312 6 12 7 .316 .420 .517 .937
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2011.

So, at age 22, he reached Triple-A, whereupon he hit .297/.388/.551. That's impressive to me, but I don't get to see him play defense, so it's kind of hard to get a full picture here. On top of that, he had only about 250 plate appearances — nowhere near a full season.

He has spent most of his time in Double-A and not really done too much there. Yeah, 21-years-old and hitting 266/.370/.454 in a league much older than you is indeed impressive, but not really Superstar impressive. Moreover, I am inclined to err on the side of Keith Law who, though abrasive on Twitter, certainly knows prospects.

So maybe Jackson is not a star in the making. Is he worth Epstein?

Jackson =/= Epstein
Here's the deal: As much as I love the Epstein hire, as much as I think this is the beginning of an amazing new era in Chicago Cubs history, I am pretty sure Epstein would agree that his acquisition is not worth a top tier prospect.

Let's face it: The Cubs pretty much are guaranteed to get Epstein at this point. Any leverage the Red Sox had went out the window when they named Ben Cherington as Epstein's successor. Both organizations have essentially emptied their leverage reservoirs and with Epstein whispering in Rickett's ear, I imagine the Cubs aren't willing to give up any potential starter in the transaction.

In Dave Cameron's FanGraphs article last week, he astutely pointed out how — though Epstein is a brilliant GM — he is not necessarily worth paying out the nose for in baseball talent. It makes the most sense for the Cubs to pursue a cash exchange, but if they need to throw in Jeff Baker or a medium-ceiling, low-level pitcher, then so be it.

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