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It’s Friday morning, and it’s time to round up the latest (non-Prince Fielder) rumors and news touching on the Cubs…

  • While we’ve waited on Yu Darvish and obsessed about Prince Fielder, one of the other big names attached to the Cubs has fallen by the wayside: 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. He’s fallen off the radar not for a lack of interest, mind you, but instead because he still hasn’t reached free agency. Cespedes defected from Cuba and came to the Dominican Republic months ago, and more than a month ago began the process of taking up residence there – required for him to achieve free agency in MLB. The process was expected to take but a couple weeks. Here we stand, and it still isn’t done. Is there a reason to be concerned? Nobody seems to be, and Danny Knobler says he’s heard free agency will be coming “fairly soon.”
  • The new CBA, which restricts amateur spending both in the draft and internationally, has made a guy like Cespedes – who, even if the limitations were already in place (they aren’t until next year), wouldn’t be subject to the restrictions as a 26-year-old (spending limits apply only to players younger than 23) – an even more attractive candidate for teams’ dollars. The starting point of negotiations remains Aroldis Chapman’s six-year, $30 million contract, with a belief that the years could increase to seven or eight, and the dollars could ultimately exceed $60 million. The Cubs have long been expected to be one of many suitors.
  • The Cubs are also interested in Cuban prospect, 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler, whose price tag – like Cespedes’ – is climbing thanks to the new CBA. Teams want to grab a player like Soler while they can still do so without any kind of spending restriction (assuming he signs before July 2 of next year). Soler, once he’s granted free agency, is expected to get a deal that tops the $15.6 million Major League deal older Cuban prospect, Leonys Martin got from the Rangers earlier this year. That same link has Baseball America’s thoughts on Soler as a prospect, and he comes in for sky-high praise. Were he in the 2010 draft, Jim Callis believes he would have gone in the top five.
  • If the Cubs are still listening to offers on Matt Garza, the prime competition on the trade market is the Oakland A’s, who are still shopping lefty starter Gio Gonzalez. The A’s demands, however, are extremely high – one report had them asking the Marlins for Mike Stanton. The Blue Jays are rumored to be in heavy on Gonzalez, which could change, I suppose, if they land Darvish. That could put the Rangers onto Gonzalez, and off of Garza. Then again, as I said this morning – and Ken Rosenthal just tweeted – missing out on Darvish, alone, could make the Rangers go after Gonzalez or Garza. This is quite a web, eh? The Reds, Red Sox, and Mets are also interested in Gonzalez.
  • Bruce Levine had a chat earlier this week in which he touched on a number of Cubs rumors. His tone was uncharacteristically dour, poo-pooing the idea that the Cubs would be doing anything of note for the rest of the offseason. No big money free agents, no trading off valuable pieces, no unloading Soriano or Zambrano. I’m not sure if Bruce was having a bad week, or if he got some glum news about the Cubs’ plans. I can say this: if the Cubs go into 2012 with the roster as currently constructed, the limits of our faith in the new regime will be tested – much sooner than anyone would have expected (which is not to say going into the season with the team as constructed isn’t part of an overall plan that is the right plan – it just seems to me: either sell off, or make the roster respectably competitive. The middle road never works). I still expect some movement, be it for the near or long-term – Theo and Jed know what they’re doing.
  • Hiroki Kuroda, a theoretical Cubs target, continues to receive interest from a number of teams, including the Yankees, Rockies, and Diamondbacks.
  • Chase Headley is both the most targeted, and most likely to be moved Padre.
  • About 10 teams are interested in non-tendered Oriole, Luke Scott. The Cubs are keeping Scott in mind as a back-up plan.
  • Despite their acquisition of Mark Melancon, the Red Sox are still looking at closer options. I mention this only because, at one time in the past, the Red Sox were vaguely attached to Carlos Marmol, if the Cubs were looking to move him. This is not to say there is any actual interest there. But maybe there should be.
  • SouthernCub

    So Cespedes is 26 yo, that means hes really 28, playing what amounts to High-A ball. Am I the only one that finds the Cubs pursuit of him (if it is genuine) ridiculous.

    • ferrets_bueller

      I seriously question the pursuit of all the teams.  Especially at that price.

      I believe his potential is severely overstated.  If it isn’t, then it may turn out to be a good deal.  But a 26 year old who has never faced top pitching?  I’d rather pass, I think.

    • Kyle

      We don’t really know how closely the Cubs are pursuing him, so I’m giving them a pass. But yeah, not real excited about a guy who is at least 26 and has never consistently learned to hit a AA-quality breaking ball.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I think this is one where a team has to trust their scouts. Yes, he beat up on inferior competition, but we can’t really hold that against him. He beat up the best competition he had available. From a statistical standpoint, that’s really all we can say.

      His ability to succeed against a higher level of competition can only be gauged by the scouts who have watched him play. If the scouts believe he has the quick hands and the bat speed to turn on an inside pitch, the coordination to go get the pitch, the batting eye to recognize and respond to breaking balls, etc. then there could be good reason to believe he’ll have success. Given the number of teams who are interested in him, I think it is safe to say the scouts league wide are generally in agreement on this guy. They think he can play in the majors.

      After all, let’s say he does get 8 years, $64 million. That’s only $8 million a year. If his defense is very good, as it is reported to be, he really doesn’t have to hit all that well to be worth $8 million a season. For an outfielder, that dollar amount would equate to a WAR in the range of 2 (I think – I could be wrong on that). That’s only a little better than Tony Campana.

      I don’t like going 8 years as a general rule, but if the Cubs could land Cespedes for an average $8 million a year, I don’t think it would be that bad of a deal.

    • die hard

      Theo is doing payback feigning interest to strap team who signs big money FA as to future moves so he can swoop down and get guy he really wants

  • ferrets_bueller

    I still really, really like Soler.  He’s definitely the guy I want the Cubs to target the most this offseason. 20 million for a top 5 pick, 5 tool talent?  I’ll take it.   You’d be hard pressed to get teams to include a prospect like that in a for Garza, so why not go buy one while you still can?

    • Fishin Phil

      I’m with you there. I really like Soler!

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      If I could only have one of the two, I’d rather have Soler.

      But my first choice would be to sign them both.

  • EQ76

    I think we should go after Kuroda & Saunders..

    • CubFan Paul

      ewww …how about edwin jackson and the japanese free agent chen

      • DRock

        Not a big fan of Jackson, but he’s not a bad consolation prize if we can’t get Darvish or Kuroda in my opinion.

        • ferrets_bueller

          All three are terrible options.  Saunders is a guy who will only be average or above average with a great defense behind him.  He’ll get killed on the Cubs and in Wrigley.  Kuroda is 37, and will be worth nowhere near the money he’ll get (same with Kuroda).  Jackson is a terrible pitcher.  Good thrower, terrible pitcher.  And I know this has been said a million times, but it still rings true, “If Dave Duncan and Don Cooper can’t fix him no one can.”

          It would be absolutely absurd to spend that much money on a project.

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            The upside on Saunders is that he would eat innings. If he could pitch 200+ innings and at least keep the Cubs close most of the time, I’d take him as a fifth starter.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Saunders, as a fifth starter, is more than fine.

              • CubFan Paul

                hell yea, because that would mean, samardjiza, wells, cashner are pitchers 6, 7, and 8 or not on the team

              • Lou

                Actually, Brett, I think he would be a 4 starter on the team–with Wells being the #5.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  He may well line up that way on the Cubs, but my point stands: as a 5, he’s fine. As a 4, it gets dicer.

                  • Lou

                    Given that he’s pitched over 200+ innings last season, though, I see that as a #4 on most NL teams. I don’t Wells ever doing that in his career. Sorry.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      You’re missing my point. I’m saying only that Saunders would be a good fifth starter on any team, regardless of where he’d place on the Cubs or what his ceiling is. It’s a compliment.

    • DRock

      Agreed. I’ve been tooting the Kuroda horn for quite some time. Not sure why the Cubs haven’t been connected to him in any rumors at least thus far. To me, he is the best pitcher FA pitcher available, minus Darvish.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Maybe because he’s going to be 37, and is looking for a muli-year contract worth over 13 million a year?  Maybe on a one year, if you’re going all in this season, but anything else…hell no.  He should drop off the cliff soon, and be worth nowhere near that money.

         

        • Lou

          Totally agree. If the Yankees want him for that price, I say let them have him.

  • SouthernCub

    Even if Soler is 21 I’m in. Been doing some reading on him and seems to have a great skill set, but I guess we’ll see.

  • john

    There was another can’t miss Cuban who has yet to become an everyday player. Dayan Viciedo 4 yrs/10 mil includes 4 mil signing bonus

    • ferrets_bueller

      But Dayan has produced in every chance given to him in the majors.  Its not his fault that Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen are idiots.  Obvious general consensus was that he should have been playing for the Sox at the ASB, but Ozzie wouldn’t take Dunn, Rios, or Pierre out of his lineup.

      • john

        That’s funny since Dunn had 156 AB after the All star break and Dayan had 102 AB.
        Morel was exploding and would you really bench Quentin?

    • Hrubes20

      Actually, Viciedo wasn’t nearly as highly-touted as this most recent crop of Cubans. His fat contract was a big stimulus for many of the Cubans to defect, actually. They looked at Viciedo and said, “Hell, I’m better than him and he’s getting $10 million? Get me a boat!”

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Too soon to panic. Sixty days until pitchers and catchers report. Lots of off season left.

  • john

    Like Soler Dayan was 18 when he arrived and 10 mil later he is ready to go. He is only 22

  • john

    If you really think about it, have the Cubs missed out on anyone yet? Only the big dollar old guys and injury proned. The youth has yet to be in play. Trade hold-ups because of uncertainy. Still plenty of moves towards youth to be had.

  • john

    I think they handled Dayan properly. He had weight issues and position issues. He was a 3rd base candidate early on. Better to reach a comfort level than to rush him. Maturity

  • Kyle

    I’m wavering, but at the end of the day I just can’t believe that the Cubs would go into 2012 with $40 million unused and this roster. That’d be foolish in the extreme.

    Teams that tank like that don’t just rebuild and bounceback. Historically, the best you can say is that a scorched-earth tanking doesn’t slow down the rebuilding process, but there’s certainly no proof it speeds it up.

    For one thing, it could severely affect future revenue. Attendance has been trending downward for several years, and yet another fifth-place finish will drive it down even further. We could be looking at our first sub-3 million season since 2003. And attendance usually lags a year behind results, so you are probably talking about low attendance in 2013 as well. That’s many dozens of millions of dollars being left on the table.

    For another, you have to be ready to compete again sometime, and when you do, you’ll need good players. If the Cubs don’t make any major moves between now and then, then they will enter the next offseason with one more year of Matt Garza, Starlin Castro, a few random pieces of mediocrity, and $80 to $100 million dollars in payroll space. You can’t realistically expect to spend all that in one offseason, maybe even two. So now you are looking at *maybe* being competitive by 2015.

    I know a few people will say “Good, that’s the right way to build, slow and steady,” but they are wrong. I’ll keep repeating this into the void for the forseeable future, I guess, but here goes:

    The Cubs are not bad right now because of bad contracts. Yes, they have some bad contracts, and it’d be nice if they didn’t have them. But so what? Bad contracts are a part of big-market baseball. All big-market teams have them, they are simply the cost of doing business. If you want your team to have good baseball players, you have to be willing to risk the occasional bad contract.

    The Cubs are bad because they utterly failed to draft and develop with any consistency in the mid-2000s. While a team like Boston got Pedroia and Ellsberry, we got Tony Campana. If we had a few young, talented position players to fill in around Castro, we’d be in much less dire shape. If we had even one or two decent young starting pitchers ready to step in last season, we would have been a .500 team or better.

    So while we count on Epstein and his team to fix that, there’s no reason we should be unilaterally disarming ourselves by refusing to spend money on players. That’s taking a plastic knife to a gun fight.

    There’s still plenty of time left in the offseason, but the early returns make Epstein/Hoyer look like MacPhail part two: big talk and an uncanny ability to make the third-best offer to every major free agent.

    • ferrets_bueller

      I agree with everything…until the last paragraph.  What early returns?  Pujols and CJ Wilson?  Two guys who are not going to live up to their contracts? No thanks.  If the Cubs end up not landing one of Fielder, Darvish, or the Cubans, then there is no return.  But the guys who have gone off the market already were NOT, in any way shape or form, good targets for the Cubs.  The moves we’ve made? …they make us look a lot more like the 2000s Red Sox than a McFail/hendry team- at least our teams ceiling went up, without giving up much of anything.

    • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

      If we have $30-40M in unused funds on the roster and Fielder goes for 6/$130 and all the other remaining free agents go for cheap then yes I will be pissed; however, if Fielder gets his 10/$250 and Jackson gets 4/$60 and the other free agents go for high dollar amounts then I say, good job Theo Epstein, you managed not to overspend on overvalued assets.

      With that said, we haven’t missed out on anyone yet and if the $53M offer to the Fighters is true, and we miss out on Darvish, then so be it.

      Patience young padawan.  The only teams that have really spent money so far have done so foolishly.

      • Kyle

        There’s a point where if everyone is doing it, it’s not foolishness, it’s the new market price.

        If the Cubs can’t compete with the new market price, then the outlook for the future is pretty grim.

      • Lou

        Yet, Kyle has a point. The Cubs (early on) seem to me to be ushering in the philosophy of the Pirates or the Royals. Both are teams that over the past 20-25 years have, for $$ constraints or for better/worse, used the drafting and development strategy to stay away from big money FAs and have gone with youth, players that “needed a change of scenery” and are always linked to guys or go after guys at the twilight of their careers (much like the links of the Cubs to Varitek and Wakefield). Where exactly has it gotten them? Irrelevancy, mediocrity. Now, I suppose one could say they didn’t draft well (they didn’t have Theo running their draft) or couldn’t afford that top player in the draft and let that player slip down in the draft to the larger market teams. While that may be true, these teams were seemingly and continually picking at the top of every draft for years and years. That had to afford them the ability to go and get “their guy” with the draft pick they had.

        The bottom line is teams that spend money win. And to add to this, fans follow teams for star power. While people may say they’re ok with LaHair being a bridge to the future, no one is going to tell you that they would take more interest in this team, regardless of the outcome, with Fielder as a member of the Chicago Cubs. You see it with people that cover the team in the media. First, it was “LaHair, yeah I fine with that, let’s see what he can do the entire season.” Next, it was “LaHair he’s fine, but who’s going to drive in runs.” Currently with Pujols gone from the NL Central, Fielder unsigned and not going to the Yankees or Red Sox, it’s “I like LaHair but if this team could get Fielder for the right deal, I’m on board with that.” The circumstances changed from a LaHair experiment to watching a star player at Wrigley and secretly (or openly) coveting him coming to the Cubs.

        It might not be practical, it may not be sabremetrically or statistically sound, it may be a poor business plan to spend on monstrous contracts, but this, as Kyle states, with tv revenues, new ballparks, and fan interest, this is what the sports world and its contracts for its marquee players has become. As a Cubs fan, I would rather appreciate what Marlins fans don’t–that my team has two WS championships over the past 15 years. As a Cubs fan, I would rather say that we did twice over in the past 15 yrs, even though it was a poor business approach, than we’re waiting for year 110 to win something.

        After an utterly embarrassing season in 2011, no one (I repeat no one) can rightly say that they want baseball to be meaningless for the Cubs by May next year, or the year after that and maybe the year after that. The baseball season is meant to be played through Sept. I just wonder if Theo and his troops understand that. Not saying that they need to be making moves right now dammit, but I just wonder.

        • EQ76

          Great thoughts Lou.. I totally agree.. and Theo’s track record in Boston was to build like the Pirates and Royals AND spend like the Yanks.. I think he sees the big picture and gets it.. strong farm and a strong MLB roster.. I believe they’ll put a good team on the field in 2012.

          • Lou

            Like Theo initially said both have to work together…strong farm system and MLB team. Who’s to say Cubs can’t do both. If Fielder is acquired and, say, Joe Saunders, and the Cubs leave at that, totally fine by me. Would just like to see Jackson get playing time. That’s not Hendry spending of the past. though some would contend it is.

        • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

          The Winter Meetings have been over for, what, ten days? And people are already questioning Epstein’s commitment to winning?

          The off season is just getting started. It isn’t over. It isn’t winding down. It’s just now underway. If the Cubs’ roster looks exactly the same in six weeks, then it will be time to start questioning Epstein and whether he wants the Cubs to be horrible for another year or two. Right now it is just way too early.

          • Lou

            Questioning a commitment to winning….actually Theo came into of a team that had Ramirez on a big contract and left with AGon, Dice K, Lackey, and Crawford contracts. So, this isn’t unusual for Epstein to spend $$ on big contracts he sees fit. So, I want some star power on this team–so sue me! Face it Luke, deep down you do to…that’s not impatience. That’s me wanting to take and interest in next season beyond May and realizing that Fielder is only a start at chipping away at the loss column.

  • Cubbie Blue

    I’m beggining to lose trust in theo. We haven’t done a single thing.. i check this site literally every 30 minutes to see what breaking news is going on with chicago, but everyday.. NOTHING. im done…………..

    • john

      Wow, maybe you’re right we should be signing guys every 30 minutes.
      At the end of the day we can take those 40 guys and trade them for 40 other guys and so on and son …..

      • Cubbie Blue

        didnt say that. i mean atleast ONE big move would be nice instead of signing all the people who arnt gonna make a damn difference. (stewart, weathers, dejuses)
        i mean damn. id rather have fukudome back than dejuses.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Patience.

      The entire offseason hinged on Pujols.  That was step one.

      Now its step two- everything hinges on Darvish.  Once Tuesday comes around, there wont be anyone waiting around anymore, and moves will get done.  But you can’t moves until those are sorted out.  The trade markets aren’t developed yet, until they’re off the board.  Then once Fielder goes where he’s going, then it will really open up.  But he’s most likely not going anywhere until Darvish is gone.

      • Toosh

        Cub fans are the most patient fans in baseball. 103 year’s worth. Waiting on this player or that player is just making excuses.

        • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

          WHO HAVE WE MISSED OUT ON BECAUSE THEO IS DRAGGING HIS FEET?

          I am 100% positive that Theo and Jed aren’t sitting in their offices playing Words with Friends all day while the phone rings from Boras with a 10/$5M contract offer for Fielder.

          • Toosh

            Wilson, for one. He signed for a lot less than anyone expected and might have been a good addition.

            • ferrets_bueller

              Future performance projections aside (he won’t be that good, IMO..)…

              do you honestly think he would have signed anywhere else for that little?  It’s called a hometown discount…he grew up a block or two from the stadium.  He signed for a lot less money, but gets to live his dream.  Something no other team could offer, which is priceless.  In his mind, he got MORE than any other team could hav epossibly offered.

            • TWC

              I thought I remember Wilson making it quite clear that he was uninterested in coming to Chicago due to several factors, one of those being the gun laws.  Paying him a ton more money might have allowed him to overlook some of his issues, but how much more that $15m/year would you have been willing to go for an unproven (but hot commodity) starter)?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                He didn’t specifically mention Chicago. It was fair to infer from his list of personal requirements that Chicago would be a dicey destination.

                • TWC

                  I know he didn’t say specifically no to Chicago, but wasn’t the question that he was answering along the lines of, “Can you see yourself coming to Chicago next year?”

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Without going back to look, I think that was how the writer framed the article, but the actual question and answer were generic. He could have had Chicago in mind, though, because I believe he was separately – same interview – asked specifically about the Cubs, and he said something cute and left it at that (about the Cubs, specifically).

                    • ncsujuri

                      Yeah, after reading his responses regarding state laws and guns being important to him I definitely inferred that meant NY/BOS/CHI teams weren’t going to really be considered.

            • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

              Wilson turned down a large offer from the Marlins to play with the Angels.  In order to pry him away from a team that is going to be really good for a couple years we would have had to grossly overpay (6/$100+)

          • JasonB

            We could have paid a diminishing 31-year old $300 million over 10 years I guess.  And I’ll take your analogy a step further and say that over the last month, neither Theo nor Jed have spent more than 8 hours a night away from their office, except of course when they’ve been out of town.  But even when they’re out of town, they aren’t exactly shopping and visiting tourist attractions.

            These guys are here, and we wanted them here, because they’re among the top minds in baseball – let’s reserve judgement until the team takes the field.

            • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

              I remember a lot of people wanting to hang Tom Ricketts last summer (I was starting to become one of them).  How about let us give Epstein more than 3 months on the job before we decide to run him out of town.  He wasn’t exactly running a sinking ship over there.

              • Kyle

                There’s a biiiig difference between “Let’s hang Epstein!” and “I’m not entirely sure I like the early returns.”

                If this were anyone other than Epstein, few people would be satisfied with our offseason being a poor man’s Fukudome in right, a guy who couldn’t make Colorado’s roster consistently at 3rd, a new house for Epstein and a McDonald’s.

                • Toosh

                  Well put!

                • JasonB

                  “a poor man’s Fukudome in right”

                  This statement is laughable.  DeJesus has been a better offensive player than Fukudome and is a much better defensive player than Fukudome.  So we’re getting a better player for 1/3 of the cost.  How is this a bad thing?

                  You can’t have Prince Fielder at every position.

                  • Toosh

                    I liked the DeJesus signing and I agree he should be better than Fukudome offensively. Not so sure about defensively.

                  • Lou

                    I agree than the comparison of DeJesus as “poor man’s Fukudome” is just downright ludicrous. Problem is, I wanted Brett Jackson (our future and what is supposed to make this team competitive by 2014) playing RF for the entire season. Not DeJesus. Barring a Byrd trade, that’s what we’re seeing.

                    • Kyle

                      If you think this team can’t be competitive, why would you burn one of your pre-arbitration years with Jackson? That’s a waste of resources, especially considering he’s barely dented AAA and surely has plenty to learn there.

                    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

                      I’d much rather see Jackson stay in Iowa until early June, and then be called up after the team trades Byrd.

                      An extra 150 ABs in Iowa wont’ hurt him a bit.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      It also wouldn’t hurt the Cubs, as it would probably prevent Super Two status.

                    • JasonB

                      Agree with keeping Jackson in Iowa for beginning of next season.  He was striking out way too much in AAA and was getting extremely lucky.  He needs more seasoning.

                    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

                      Strike outs are probably going to always be a part of Jackson’s game, but he’ll make up for it with fairly nice OBP.

                    • JasonB

                      “Strike outs are probably going to always be a part of Jackson’s game”

                      Yes, I know and I’m fine with it because he draws so many walks but he was striking out at like a 30% clip and that is simply too high, even for him.

                    • Lou

                      I’m fine guys if you feel this way about service time and arbitration. But I hope it doesn’t justify a move like signing Crisp if that’s what Theo is thinking.

        • ferrets_bueller

          Thats absurd.  NO ONE was going to sign Fielder until Pujols was signed.  NO ONE is going to trade a 1B until Fielder is signed.  Likewise, NO ONE is going to trade for an SP until they’re out of the running to sign Darvish.

          Also, for teams interested in both Darvish and Fielder (presumably, the Cubs, Rangers, Mariners), you have to wait to see which you’re going to bid on, if not both.  If the Cubs and Rangers are in on both, but say, the Rangers only can pay for one, they’re going to wait on Darvish to bid on Fielder.  Fielder’s agent knows this, and won’t let him sign anywhere or accept offers until Darvish is off the market and the Rangers can make an offer.

          I don’t understand how anyone can fail to grasp the logic behind this.

          • Toosh

            More excuses.

            • Toosh

              Another player off the market. Cuddyer. Did he sign out of order? Wasn’t he supposed to wait for Darvish or Fielder?

              • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

                Did you want the Cubs to offer a 33 year old outfielder a 3/$33M contract?

                • Toosh

                  Didn’t say that. Just said he was off the market. Also, the Cubs were rumored to be interested.

              • ferrets_bueller

                Think, think, think, think……before you post.

                He’s an OF/IF, in an entirely different tier.  He’s an additional supplemental piece, not a core player, and not a direct replacement or second option to either Fielder or darvish.  And, his agent isn’t Boras.

                • Cedlandrum

                  Like DeJesus

            • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

              Meh, the earlier you sign a Boras client the more you overpay for them.  The only way to land Fielder before Pujols was to offer the 10/250M they state they want.

            • ferrets_bueller

              Is this guy just another Diehard/Betternews type troll?

              • TWC

                Toosh is legit.  He’s consistent and honest.  You may disagree with him, but he’s not trolling.

                • ferrets_bueller

                  Ok, thanks.

                • Toosh

                  Thank you. You are right. Not trying to stir things up. Just posting my opinions.

                  • ferrets_bueller

                    Sorry if I may have been insulting in any way.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  What TWC said.

                  • Toosh

                    Thank you as well, Brett. Hope all’s going with with your daughter and also hope you and your’s have very Happy Holidays.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Just an hour after the procedure, she was acting like nothing at all had happened. She’s a trooper. Thanks.

                      And Happy Holidays to you as well. We don’t always agree, Toosh/RRK, but I always dig the consistency.

    • jtfromthed

      Personally I’ll save my disappointment until opening day. There’s still plenty of time to work out deals. It’s smarter to let the teams eager to bust their wad on bad deals in December.

      So far I don’t think Theo and Jed have done anything to hurt the team.

      • Toosh

        I believe that was part of Ricketts’ criteria before hiring Epstein and before Epstein hired Hoyer. “Don’t do anything to hurt the team”.

        • jtfromthed

          solid strategy eh?

  • Pakman23

    There is a lot of offseason left. But I am beginning to wonder. What is going on? What is with some of the guys the Cubs are rumored to have interest in, Crisp? Capuano? These guys dont help clubs win, they arent justifiable depth, their terrible, replacement level players who have no right on our roster. And despite there interest in legitamite players like, Fielder and Darvish it seems Theo doesn’t have the same ability to get the guys he wants regardless of cost. I understand these guys aren’t gone yet, but all indications are Blue Jays won on Darvish and the Cubs won’t go ten years on Fielder, which I would assume some other team will. So where does that leave us? A well below average team with aging inconsistent, overpaid players and no viable canadites left to improve the roster for now or in the future, sounds to me like a lost offseason. I’m not giving up hope in theo, or even questioning his plan yet, that would be stupid, I haven’t seen him do anything that would give me an indication what his plan is. I’m sure that’s what is bothering me, being a long time fan what I fear the most is the unwarranted optimism, Theo has givin me no reason to be optimistic yet, so I think I’ll do the logical thing and reserve it for a legitamite roster….. If that ever comes.

    • ottoCub

      I love Bleacher Nation, but lately the anxiety level in the posts has been difficult to manage. We all need to relax, wait for the Cubs to make moves, trust the process, and realize that the Cubs management is doing everything they can to make this a better team.

      And keep in mind, they’ve made a LOT of moves already this year! Signing DeJesus, trading for Ian Stewart, traveling to the Dominican to make a bid for Cespedes (and maybe Soler?), making a bid for Pujols, making a bid for Darvish… and it sounds as if they are in serious conversations about Fielder. From everything we’ve heard, all of the trades and bids have been reasonable and SMART. This is the kind of activity we’d all love to see from the Cubs: going after the best talent with bids and trade options that are within budget, don’t extend into long-term contracts, and keep the Cubs farm system strong and growing.

      This has already been an active off-season. I feel very optimistic! The Cubs are moving and shaking in all the right directions. They’re thinking long-term while building for 2012. I like it!

      • Toosh

        We all have been waiting. What other choice is there? I expect the wait to continue.

      • Kyle

        So a hot young executive with two World Series rings comes into town. He makes a lot of promises to rebuild the farm system and trying to be competitive every year. He immediately begins to sign a few retreads while making not-good-enough offers to all the good players on the market.

        Are we *really* sure this isn’t MacPhail part two?

      • Pakman23

        I’ll trust a process when I see positive results of the process. If this is year three and the Cubs have a good young nucleus and are coming off a 90 win season Im not anxious by the lack of moves. This roster needs an overhaul and as other teams fill their needs with free-agents a nd trades, our trade canadites lose value and our options to improve become slimmer. To improve you need to be aggressive, in free agency, in international free agency, in the trade market, and the draft. The draft is yet to be seen, but I’d give a less then average grade in those other areas as of right now. Not saying that can’t change, but I don’t like what I’ve seen.

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    The team WILL be pretty much what it is right now.

    There just aren’t that many wise moves to be made out there, at least of the big variety. It would test my faith in Theo more if he went out and tried to make a big splash this year just for the sake of doing something. Assuming Theo has patience and stays true to his philosophy this is going to be a several year process. Yes, we could spend a lot of money and be competitive in a weak division. Is that what you want?

    Or do you want a team that, after a year or two or three, is solid top to bottom, with emerging stars (not stars that we signed and overpaid), but perhaps without a superstar. A team built for the long haul without irreplaceable parts. Say we get Fielder – what are all the things that could make us sorry we signed him? Injury? Decline in power? Poor defense? A ton of money tied up in one player who HAS to succeed or we’re screwed?

    No thanks.

    I wouldn’t even want two players like that. Darvish? Same thing with even more risk.

    We need a deep team which doesn’t rely on one or two players to do the heavy lifting and that will take a little time to put together.

    • Kyle

      “Or do you want a team that, after a year or two or three, is solid top to bottom, with emerging stars (not stars that we signed and overpaid), but perhaps without a superstar. ”

      What path do you forsee to getting there without signing significant free agents?

      In an absolutely ideal world where everything works out perfectly, we’ve got three position spots filled long-term in 2012: Castro, Stewart (ick, but fine, we’ll pretend he’ll be good) and Jackson in CF.

      The long-term outlook for the rotation is even worse. Beyond 2012, we literally have Garza and almost nothing else.

      “A ton of money tied up in one player who HAS to succeed or we’re screwed?”

      This is not PIttsburgh. This is not even St. Louis. The Cubs are in the third biggest market in the league. With a field not optimized for revenue and a mediocre TV deal, we can still roll out $140 million in payroll and not flinch. In a few years, we should be approaching the luxury tax threshold.

      Unless that “one player” is making $70 million a year, it’s not a problem.

      • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

        We do have to sign significant free agents. It just seems to me that a lot of the big ones out there this year are huge gambles. I realize any signing is a gamble but I’m gun shy thanks to the Soriano deal. I was excited when we signed him although I was afraid we had overpaid and over committed.

        My main concern is being stuck with guys we gambled on and gave huge contracts to and who can’t be moved once they don’t work out. I want Theo to develop a quality supporting cast, a lineup and rotation that contributes from top to bottom and has the depth to replace a player who may be injured.

        That being said, if we get Fielder I’ll be excited.

        I may be contradicting myself a bit but I’m a Cubs fan and as such can veer wildly between optimism and pessimism.

        • Lou

          I don’t think being stuck with contracts we can’t move would be a problem if the only big contract we sign (and at this point he would be that as it appears) would be Fielder. Dempster and Zambrano drop off this year. The only bloated contract left is Soriano. Most teams (including the Twins, mind you) have these kinds of contracts on their roster. The ones that don’t clearly can’t afford them to begin with and those teams consist of the Royals and Pirates, i.e., who haven’t been relevant for decades.

  • john

    If you think of Soriano as a LF’er and you’re paying 19 mil for the position why not cut him and replace with someone who can play at that 19 mil level whether it’s Cespedes or Crisp or Jackson or some other guy

  • JP

    Yeah as much as I’m sure Theo and company know what they’re doing and building for the long haul I can’t help but wonder why the hell would anyone want to go out and watch our prospective lineup? I live in North Carolina and I make the trip to visit Chicago at least once a year to see the Cubs play, there is no way I pony up to see this AAA lineup play. I’ll just stay and watch the Durham Bulls play in AAA with a better lineup for a lot cheaper. At least previous seasons there were signs of hope other than hey we have some nice prospects in low A ball…. Sorry for the rant I’m just getting frustrated with all these mediocre signings of has beens or never was players…

  • john

    We expected Soriano to be a 30/30 guy .300/.370/.500
    To replace that you need to combine 2nd base and LF to achieve
    example Kelly Johnson and Bret Jackson/Cespedes

    • Pakman23

      Soriano had never been even close to .370 obp and hit .300 only once. If the Cubs expect that they were even dumber than I thought. I think they expected .270 .350 .500 and 30/30 which is still rediculously high.

  • Michael Vazquez

    Blue Jays are the favorites to land Darvish but I actually want Texas to win so that they can stop messing around with Garza. If we win, then hey that’s awesome we’ll have 3 good starters. Cubs should immediately extend Garza while he’s at his prime, that’s right now. Forget about trading him, am I the only one that really hate the idea of dealing Garza away?

    We need pitching, for crying out loud. Yes we need to build the farm system but “trying” to trade your best pitcher at this moment which is Garza seems so ridiculous. We only have 2 good pitchers (the other one being Dempster), Z is still a decent pitcher though we have to wait next year to see if he still is (that is if he’s not dealt which seems likely at the moment). Don’t really know what to expect from Wells, can he be that pitcher back in his rookie season? We’ll have to see. As for Cashner, he was really good in spring training and we’ll see if he can do repeat that again is spring training.

    Trade Soriano, i heard the Cubs are willing to move him despite what Bruce Levine says, I usually don’t listen to him. You could get some minor leaguers back in return. I also would like the Cubs try to move Byrd who’s not a bad player at all, he’s a good team player but would like to what Jackson brings.

    As for Marmol, I always liked Marmol (yes he’s always wild) and yes he did had his worst season of his career. I still think he’ll have a bounce-back season next year.

    If we can’t get Darvish, go after Kuroda. He’s always gived Cubs a hard time anyways, I like him, he’s underrated. Cespedes or Soler, I’m definitely in.

  • SouthernCub
  • john

    1st ? / 2nd ? / SS chk / 3rd base chk? / RF chk / CF chk /LF ? / C chk
    Ace? / #2 Garza / #3 Z / #4 Demp /#5 Wells

  • Dumpman

    Brett,

    I read earlier that the Pads asked for Brett Jackson and Andrew Cashner for Headley. No wonder hes not a cub.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I hadn’t heard that, specifically, but I did hear that the ask was absurdly high.

      • EQ76

        when did Headley become a superstar?? did I miss something? that’s WAY too much for him.

        • Cubsfankevin

          Yeah i know. I would rather roll the dice with Stewart. I might be all wrong here, I feel like Darvish is the only way next year could be decent. With Fielder i worry he would lead the league in BB because we would not be protected at all. With a solid starting staff, a decent bullpen, improved athleticism and defense i feel the Cubs could contend in the central. i realize Darvish is not a proven commodity but i like what i’ve heard/read. i realize i am not presenting the best argument, i’m distracted with this stuff called work.

  • TSB

    An outfielder with power and speed; could be the next Willie Mays; than again, could be the next Felix Pie or Cory Patterson.

  • Caleb

    Its kind of depressing, but I think I half expect to not see any major cub moves. I’d sure like to see us free up some high salary positions, and land one of the cubans (Id prefer soler), or darvish, or fielder, but I’m also leery enough of huge contracts that I’d be okay with passing for this year. As long as there are consistent moves to improve our farm, with reasonable pickups that give us some hope (ie Stewart) and smarter coaching of what we DO have, I’ll be (barely) content with 2012. No amount of awesome theocracy can immediately salvage the hole were in, so I won’t judge too harshly the lack of any bold changes for this offseason (is now the time for bold changes?). However, my patience for competitiveness runs till exactly 2013. If Theo can’t make it happen with over a year to work with, what’s the point of his brilliance? Well see, but until then I’m suppressing my natural cubs pessimism and judgery.

    • Toosh

      I like this post as well.

    • Fishin Phil

      I agree with part of what you say Caleb. I too have my hopes pinned to 2013 rather than 2012.  I just hope those pesky Mayans weren’t right.

      • Caleb

        Cursed Mayans!  The end of the world is…2012.  No, wait, 2020.  Okay, kidding.  2026.  Ish.  Around then.  Well, definitely before 2040.  Or was it 3040?  Shoot.

        Mayans are like shoe shopping with girls.  They can’t make up their mind.  (not that I’d know, of course)

        There are certainly a few of us more reasonable types; I think I was just heading off the inevitable “Theo didn’t do what I wanted him to do, so he sux” posts. And when Brett, the president of the “I love Theo” fan club (PS he was also president of the “I love DJ Lemahieu” club) is already talking about testing the limits of faith, there could be trouble.

        Have faith, Brett (and others).  If you expect vision and long-term planning for a consistently winning team, you have to have the patience to not bite on whatever hot item is up for bids every offseason.  Huge contracts for untested Cubans and Japanese?  Giant contracts (even short-term) for overweight first basemen?  Soriano seemed like a sure thing when we signed him, too.  I’m not against spending money like we’re the Yankees on reasonable risks, or even landing one of these big names in the offseason.  I’m just saying that, if we don’t, look to the rest of the Cubs moves to see if there’s a consistent and logical plan behind everything.   Turning our farm into a top 3 system and acquiring players with risks but huge potential?  I’m sold.  For now.  But, like I said, I can’t live here in St. Louis for TWO more years with a crappy team.  You have a year, Theo.  Go.

        • Wilbur

          Agree totally with baseball assessment.

          As for the shoe thing, did it a couple of times over 35 years ago … haven’t done it since and I can truly say I am blissfully married with two adult daughters who love me, However, they never saw my shadow cross a shoe store threshold. Coincidence or causality, you be the judge.

      • JB88

        Interestingly, I was reading a book recently, and the archeologists who originally thought that the Mayans were saying the end of the world in 2012 later recanted and said they misinterpreted the totem they found that supposedly said that. What it actually said, was that a Mayan god was supposed to come down in 2012 and that everyone would, essentially, have a great big party.

        • The Other Matt

          I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but I thought essentially the reason it was determined the Mayan’s predicted the end of the world in 2012 was simply because the Mayan calender stopped. It had a finite end, thus – the end of the world? Did I miss the totem thing?

          • JB88

            That is incorrect but I am not surprised you thought that as it has been widely spread as the justification for that belief. The Mayans had two calendars, the Long Count Calendar and effectively their yearly calendar. Too many media outlets reported that the Long Count calendar stopped in 2012. That is actually quite wrong. The Long Count calendar, I believe, extends for like another 3400 years beyond 2012. So, the calendar continues on.

            Frankly, that is such an odd urban legend. At least with the original justification, it was based on a mistranslation that a Mayan god was coming down and a belief that the totem (I use that word for lack of a better one. I think there is actually a Mayan word, but I’m blanking on it) said that the God would effectively wipe out everyone (again, I’m bastardizing that a bit). About 5 years after that initial “finding”, like in 2001 or 2002, the original archeologists re-released their findings and concluded that the remainder of the totem actually explained that what was going to happen was basically a party.

            • The Other Matt

              Why, thank you for the education. I learned something today on Bleacher Nation!

    • Pakman23

      So you are proposing we forgo this offseason and compete next? Don’t you think we need to make some moves this year in order to compete next? You’re right, he can’t “fix” the team in one offseason, but he can begin to rebuild the roster looking forward and there is no reason to wait a year to do that.

  • Kyle

    “DeJesus has been a better offensive player than Fukudome and is a much better defensive player than Fukudome. ”

    Show your work on how DeJesus has been a better offensive player than Fukudome.

    Three-year averages:
    Fukudome
    .261 .362 .406 .768
    DeJesus
    .277 .349 .417 .766

    Given that DeJesus is coming off a worse year, I have a hard time calling his offense better.

    Defense is subjective enough to be debateable. I’d call it even at worst.

    I guess “Cheaper version of Fukudome” would be a better way of putting it than “Poor man’s Fukudome.”

    • Wilbur

      Kyle, you’re correct about their equal value, but I’d reverse the reference to make Fukudome a foolish man’s DeJesus.

  • cubsklm

    So far the only thing the Cubs have acquired of value is the McDonalds across the street.
    My understanding of this years free agent market is:
    First Pujoles comes off the board,
    Second, the Darvish bidding
    Third, the acqisition of a Mc Donald’s
    Now, the offseason action can begin.

  • Toosh

    Maybe the McDonald’s acquisition is supposed to help convince Fielder to sign with the Cubs.

    • Toosh

      I can picture the commercial now if the Cubs sign Fielder, “Hey Chicago, there’s another Big Mac in town. And our’s is no juicer.”

      • cubsklm

        If Fielder comes to the Cubs we’ll never see his McRibs again for the money he’s going to get.

        • BetterNews

          Fielder is not coming to the Cubs. Pay attention.

  • JulioZuleta

    I think Levine might have lost a couple of his main sources in some of the turn over of lower level fron office people that came with the new regime and is getting frustrated. Either his source was fired, or doesn’t have the type of access the Theo and Jed that he had to Jim. Bruce has really been having a rough offseason so far. Hasn’t reported anything of substance in quite some time.

  • cubincardinalland

    One of the main reasons the Cubs got into their current state is by making moves because they had to make a big splash. I have waited my whole life, I can wait a little longer and let these boys make the smart moves. Timing is everything in life, I believe in the new blood.

    • JasonB

      cubincardinaland – very well said.  You should be named king of the internet today.

      I equate the Hendry era to a series of sugar highs.  And now that that mentality is gone from the FO, it appears that most Cubs’ fans are opening up the drawer only to find that they ran out of candy bars.

    • Pakman23

      Darvish is not a “big splash” he is a 25 year old with 5 pitches and a fastball that averaged 93 mph over his career. He is a justifiable risk to return on an investment, as is Fielder. You don’t get quality players without investing money, simple as that. Unless you want to be the Rays and suck for a decade in order to acquire the first pick in ten straight drafts, there is simply no other way to win.

      EDIT: Just found out his average fastball was 94.7, only one starter in the major leagues averaged more and that was some no name from Detroit at 95.

      • EQ76

        well those flashy moves did get us in the playoffs more last decade than since the early 1900’s.. to me it wasn’t the flashy moves alone that got us in trouble, it was handing out no trade clauses like candy and Soriano’s immediate decline that nobody really saw coming so soon.. the single biggest problem on our team’s payroll is what we’re paying Soriano vs. what he’s producing.

        • Pakman23

          And almost every big market team in baseball has a similar problem. It shouldn’t be crippling at all. You get creative and continue to be agressive, Soriano should be a non-factor at this point.

        • JM

          Agreed, it was the more ownership’s refusal to allow the FO to replenish the team via free agency as the veteran core it established after the 2006 season aged, coupled with the farm system’s lamentable failure to produce impact players to make up the difference. If Hendry had been allowed to do more than tinker after 2007, then he’s likely still here, and the Cubs are likely still in contention, though with a massive payroll on par with Boston and New York.

          The failure of the Hendry era then imo, was the inability to produce cheap, cost-controlled players capable of performing at a high level. At some point, even if you’re the Yankees, you gotta come up with some young guys that can do this. Hendry didn’t, and when the money spigot got turned off, it inexorably lead to where we are now.

          But the flashy moves didn’t doom the Cubs. Quite the contrary. It created a three year contention window that produced two division titles and probably would have gotten the Cubs a third if the 2009 team hadn’t been hit with so many injuries. The problem is the Cubs spent like a big boy team for one offseason, then went back to their old spending habits the years after, and then failed to produce anything from their farm system. If you’re not gonna do one, then you gotta be able to do the other. The Cubs did neither.

          • Pakman23

            Couldn’t agree more. Well said.

          • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

            I agree with a lot of this.

            I think Hendry’s greatest failing was the organizational lack of discipline that was allowed to fester. That lack affected some of the prospects that looked to have the tools to succeed (Patterson) and it still affects us with players not living up to their potential (Soto, Z).

            Hendry was above average in scouting and in trading. But the whole system lacked discipline and accountability and this held us back in a number of ways.

            On the other hand, I was considering how differently things might have gone had Hendry finalized that deal with Rafael Furcal the winter of ’05-’06 and we had subsequently traded for Mike Cameron instead of Juan Pierre. I think a few small differences here or there and Hendry’s window of contention could have been much longer than it was.

            • Kyle

              If the farm system had been able to come up with one more above-average position player and we had a couple of MLB-ready pitching prospects last year, we’d have probably been in the WC hunt all year.

              • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

                Not sure if you’re joking, because obviously the what-if game is easy to satirize. I acknowledge that.

                I simply think that a lot of Hendry’s poorer decisions came from wanting to balance the lineup with a left-handed hitter and with more speed. Hendry was at his best when he found players who were undervalued and found a way to make them fit. It was when his player acquisition was directed by “We need x and only x” that he ended up getting the wrong player.

        • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

          The problem was handing out giant contracts, no trade clauses AND not building a strong farm system.  Pakman is right, every team in baseball has albatross contracts, the good ones just have a good farm system to fill in the holes around that player (the others have a DH they can put a Soriano into.

  • Stuart Williams

    I like the comments that Theo has put forth about value, paying for future performance not the past, etc. This turnaround is going to take a few years. Does it really matter if we lose 90 games next year or 105?

    I remember when they signed Soriano a few years back. Who were we bidding against? Nobody. That is how stupid the decision making process has been with the Cubs in the past. Hendry would “reward” players instead of calculating their future value.

    Also, too many times pitching and defense were not highly regarded because of the sexy homers from the SOSA’s of the world. Baseball is no longer a game of waiting for the 3-run homer.

  • jim

    Need new post … Soon … Feel…. Wooo zy without… Woo zee, woozee

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha, sorry, Jim. Friday evenings and the weekend tend to feature lighter (but still existent) posting.

  • die hard

    Garza and Barney to Seattle for “the King” ?

    • Rick Vaughn

      Serious posters only please.

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