It’s going to be a bullet-y kind of day, with a Lukewarm Stove and Prince Fielder update on the way. First, some Bullets on Yu Darvish, and more…

  • The drum beat of a Toronto Blue Jays high bid continues to grow. The New York Post reports that, although “there is a belief the Cubs also made a large bid,” most have a sense that the biggest bid came from the Jays. “Several sources” tell the Post that the Blue Jays made a “monster bid,” and Jim Bowden says he’s heard the same. Obviously nothing is yet certain – and there were rumors that Team X had won the Matsuzaka post before the Red Sox were revealed as the winner – but you can set your phasers to “anticipating disappointment.”
  • If the Cubs end up not winning the Darvish post, Toronto is the best landing spot for a variety of totally speculative, theoretical reasons: (1) it probably takes them out of the Prince Fielder race, (2) it leaves the Rangers in the market for Matt Garza, and (3) might spur the Yankees on to wanting to acquire someone like Garza even more.
  • Also if the Cubs end up not winning the Darvish post: I hope their bid was very large, but that the Jays’ bid cleared the second place bid by $20 million. Why? Because screw them. That’s why.
  • For more on Darvish, which may soon become a wistful look at what could have been, BN’er Brian wrote up pretty thorough scouting report on the BN Message Board. One interesting note: Brian says the NPB started using baseballs like the ones MLB uses (before last year, they’d been slightly different – more apt to “move”), and Darvish’s numbers only improved.
  • A look at how excellently things have gone with respect to the Fenway Park renovation, and how crappily they’re going at Wrigley Field, with both approaches looking at the “landmark status” side of things. In short: in Boston, landmark status for Fenway is a goal everyone can’t wait to achieve. In Chicago, landmark status is a roadblock that dramatically limits the Cubs’ efforts to improve their revenue situation. And, here, Chicago has a reputation as this dirty political town. Where’s a briefcase full of unmarked fifties when you need it?
  • If the new CBA was the first step toward an international draft, MLB and the MLBPA have taken the second by forming a committee to determine how the sport should proceed “if” an international draft is implemented. This is an issue that will take more time to evaluate, but my sense is this: while teams with more resources, who can scout all over the world, will have a slight advantage, that advantage pales in comparison to the one that already exists: namely, the ability of teams with resources to drop top dollar on amateur international players. The new CBA largely took away that advantage anyway, though.
  • Commenter Luke puts together a multi-part list of the Cubs’ top prospects at his writing home, Cubbies Crib. Here’s one through seven, with links to the rest of the top 21. Relative surprises in the top seven? Matt Szczur all the way up at number 2, and Tommy John recovery Robert Whitenack cracking the top 5.
  • Former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa is defending Albert Pujols’ decision to leave St. Louis in favor of the Los Angeles Angels. “I know it was a painful decision and it pains him now,” La Russa said. “He deserves what he got. He earned it. There’s no bad guy here. I think the Cardinals went where they thought they should go. If they can’t go farther, they shouldn’t …. I believe in Albert’s case he was disappointed there wasn’t more enthusiasm from the Cardinals. The Marlins came at him hard and then here comes Anaheim. I think that the Cardinals were being careful.” In other words, the Cardinals were being smart. I really hate that.
  • At least one report says the reported $20 million purchase price for the McDonald’s across from Wrigley Field was “a bit high.” Every dollar counts.
  • EtotheR

    Ness: Never stop, never stop fighting till the fight is done.
    Capone: What’d you say? What’re you saying?
    Ness: I said, “Never stop fighting till the fight is done.”
    Capone: What?
    Ness: You heard me, Capone. It’s over.
    Capone: [sneering] Get out, you’re nothing but a lot of talk and a badge. YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A LOT OF TALK AND A BADGE!
    Ness: Here endeth the lesson.


  • Fishin Phil

    Yup, damn shame the Cards refused to cripple themselves.  We could have had some real fun in a few years.

  • David

    I don’t see the Post reporting anything other than the same speculation there has been about the Jays for a couple of days. Everyone is out there comparing numbers except Theo. If the Cubs bid is not known, but believed to be large, I don’t see why the Cubs would be out yet.

    Basically, if they don’t have a clue as to what the Cubs are bidding, they have no idea if Toronto’s $40-50M bid won (a number which honestly seems a bit light to me, anyway – for a “blow away” number at least, given what Dice-K netted).

  • johnbres2

    The Cardinals are ALWAYS smart–that is why they win all those World Series. The unfortunate reality for Chicago fans is that perhaps the two smartest franchises in all of sports are the St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers, our two biggest rivals.

    • cubincardinalland

      It’s amazing how smart a guy like Albert Pujols can make you look for ten years. I believe this is the start of a long and painful decline for this club. This is an old and getting older team, relying on a farm system they continually pump up, with most of the prospects except for Miller being 19 years old. Good chance they lose Molina after this season, Berkman, Carpenter, Holliday, all on the downside, Wainright off surgery and going to take a ton of money to keep in 2 years. Things ain’t all rosy as they make it out to be. I think the Reds are the team to beat the next couple years.

      • Lou

        Not sure I totally agree. The Cards have a solid track record with prospects, unlike the Cubs history. After all, that’s how they found Pujols. Many, many teams could have obtained this guy.

        • JasonB

          And they have Jaime Garcia who is starting to look like a beast with high GB rate and solid K rates.  I think the Cardinals will be fine for the most part.  John Sickels thinks very highly of their current system with Miller at an A and four others as B+.  And I saw Carlos Martinez pitch in the future game – kid has electric stuff.

  • Bren

    If Toronto winning Yu takes them out of the Prince derby and simultaneously increases the Garza market, assuming you’re advocating signing Prince, isn’t that a bit counter intuitive? (not to mention, counter productive?)

    My biggest fear with Theo and Jed is that they’re half stepping, go one direction and stick with it, we can’t compete whilst simultaneously rebuilding

    • JB88

      The new breed of GM looks for inefficiencies in the market and look at non-traditional ways of improving a club. Accordingly, if you can trade Garza for 3 or 4 pieces that make your club better than the club with just Garza you do it.

      So you’ve improved the club but that also doesn’t mean you stand pat on Darvish and Fielder because signing them also improves the club. You can’t look at a Garza move in a vacuum. Sure you are losing Garza but you are also likely improving the club at 3 or 4 other positions as well.

      • Bren

        I disagree, assuming the Cubs lost on Yu and trade Garza and still sign Prince, you’d essentially be wasting his remaining 2-3 absolute peak years b/c the pitching would not nearly be ready to win, regardless of the level of prospects you’d receive….so what would be the benefit of that? By the time the acquired pitchers became effective, Prince would be on the downslide.

        If they’re gonna spend Nine figures on Prince, to me, it would mean you’re in a win now mode, more so b/c Prince and Garza are still fairly young, so the win-now could extend to a 4-5 year window, but if its just Prince and Prince alone, I dont see how getting rid of Garza helps you win in that same window, unless they immediately reallocate Soriano and Z funds once those deals are up

        • Brett

          The theory is that Garza is a controlled asset, which the Cubs can turn into “more” assets, both for 2012 and beyond (which is better: Garza, or two ready-to-go pitching prospects and Edwin Jackson (as an example of what the Cubs could sign with the money saved by moving Garza)? The answer *might* be Garza, but it might be the latter three). Fielder is not a controlled asset, but is one the Cubs can go out and buy. There is nothing inconsistent with maximizing what you can get – either in performance or in trade – from a controlled asset, and at the same time, going out and buying other assets.

          In fact, the two work in concert. We’ve just been trained to believe that the difficulty in pulling off the first part (i.e., getting better immediately by trading a valuable pitcher like Garza) means trying to do so isn’t logical. But it’s possible, and should be explored.

          • EQ76

            If we lose on Darvish, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cubs don’t go after 2 pitchers rather quickly (Saunders, Kuroda, E. Jackson, Maholm) and trade Garza. especially with all the talk of getting more pitching depth. Getting 2 of those guys, getting 2 MLB ready pitching prospects, added to Demp, Z, and Wells could be a nice move.

    • Toosh

      The waiting continues. Now you’ll hear that everyone’s “waiting” on Fielder or Cespedes or Soler or fill in the blank.

      • hansman1982

        I think that is the case…I think right now the dominoes are in the order of:

        1. Darvish
        2. Fielder
        3. Cespedes

        Once the Cubs know either way on Darvish see big moves on Fielder.  Additionally, Cespedes is waiting for citizenship in the Dominican

    • fearbobafett

      I keep debating the rebuild vs. win now with my friends. They agree with Bren, however i look at darvish, fielder, cespedes, soler as players that you are rebuilding with. Fielder is the oldest of the bunch at 27. You don’t have to go 100% youth to rebuild, these are all guys (making the assumption here that the internationals all pan out at some level) that you can contend for the next 5+ years with and build around in the future. These are exactly the types of players they keep talking about. Also, doesn’t it make more sense to bring a couple of players in there to take the star treament off of Castro, at his young age, beucase right now that kid is it for the cubs, sure Wood will jump in front of the camera as the team’s spokeperson, but right now the reporters are going to be all over Castro, beaause there is no one else to occupy thier time.


    Why wouldn’t Toronto make a “monster bid”? They could low ball the kid’s contract offer, get the bid money back, prevent New York and Boston from getting Darvish and still make a push at Prince. The way I look at it the Jays would still have 30 days to make a strong move on Prince, singing Darvish if it does not work out.

  • Robbo

    Was the Jays bid in Canadian Dollars? Those are like real dollars but….fun

    • Brett

      “This park does not accept Itchy and Scratchy Money.”

      • EQ76

        what’s that abooot?

      • hansman1982

        The Jays bid was 3 Loonies and 2 Toonies – the Japanese think they are getting: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky, Tweety and Sylvester.

        • TWC

          Hans, baby, bit of advice:  DON’T open with that one at your next stand-up gig, dig?

  • Bluekoolaidaholic

    Strictly my opinion, but I think Albert is a bum. The classy thing to do would have been to take the highest bid of the team that loved and nurtured him all those years. Yes, I know it was 30mil or so, but what is that when you have 220 or so compared to your honor and the value of intangibles. The city, fan base and media would have gone nuts with love and appreciation. He would have for sure replaced Stan The Man Musial as the greatest Cardinal of all time. Now he is just another rich bum. Show me the money, right?
    Right on Albert. Hope you enjoy all your dough in your declining years while your fans cry.
    You will fit right in at LA, that’s where all the rich bums go.

  • jtfromthed

    The Ham Fighters don’t know who made what bid apparently, and I don’t think the cubs have been going around flapping their jaws about how much they bid. I think there are a lot of GM’s in baseball that like to talk to each other and that’s where the Darvish/Blue Jays rumors are coming from.

    I’ll be surprised if the Blue Jays actually win the bid. Theo and Jed certainly aren’t talking about what they bid. The only way I’d be more positive of that would be if I was somehow privvy to their conversations.

    • Toosh

      Here’s how the posting system works. The player’s team only get to see the amount of the bids, not which team made which bid. Only MLB knows that. Then the player’s team can only accept or decline the highest bid.

      • jtfromthed

        Right, that’s how I thought it worked. The MLB would be the only people that knew who bid what.

        • CubFan Paul

          i think the Blue Jays rumors this morning are a smoke screen for another team

          • Hawkeyegrad

            If the Ham Fighters (I love that version of their name) leaked the the winning bid amount (which I thought I saw somebody posted a Japanese newspaper translation that specuatled that amount was $49.4 million) then the teams would know if they won/lost the bid.

            It sounds like the Ham Fighters are happy with the bid but are leaving it up to Darvish if he wants to negotiate. I’m sure Darvish wants to know who he would be negotiating with prior to making that decision so it would be in their interest to leak the winning bid information.

            • hansman1982

              Eh, right now the Fighters are trying to mull if they would get a significantly larger bid next winter.  It doesn’t hurt them to accept it, unless they were grossly under-bid regardless if Darvish wants to sign with that team or not.

              Lets say the Rays won the bidding, odds are they arent going to offer a big contract and Darvish probably wouldn’t sign.  What if the Rays got an itch in their crotch one day and suddenly offered what Darvish wanted?  Who bid on the rights doesn’t matter as much as how much they bid.

              • Hawkeyegrad

                I’m not so sure…if Darvish says he is not interested in moving to Toronto and it would take an absurdly HUGE contract to change his mind the Ham Fighters would need to think about it. If Toronto can not get Darvish signed, Darvish’s absurdly high contract demands will be out there thus lowering the posting bids next year. This assumes that Darvish is not a FA next year (there are some conflicting reports)

              • paul

                Darvish is a free agent at the end of the year. His team doesn’t care what he wants to do. They will accept the bid. The only thing that his team has to decide is … do we take the cash and loose the player, or keep the player and loose the cash. end of story. I don’t know why this is so confusing to so many of us.

  • MC2

    So “IF” the Jays win the right to talk to Darvish and he does not sign what exactly happens to him? Do the Ham Fighters return any of the money, does he become a true FA next year available for anyone? The BJ’s need pitching anyway you look at it, it doesn’t make sense to me for them to go after Fielder, especially if he want’s to be somewhere else as has been speculated.

    • Toosh

      Nippon only gets the posting fee if Darvish signs with the team that placed the highest bid.

  • Mike Foster

    Brett, any idea who Yarvish’s agent is? What’s been the history on that in these negotiations?

    • Brett

      Nokamura, I believe. There haven’t been many of these, but the negotiations tend to go smoothly.

    • farmerjon

      Arm Tellum ,as well, I believe.

  • Kurt

    If he doesn’t sign this process starts again next year, as I believe he’s still under team control. Whereas MLB teams have 6 years of control Japan teams have 9 years. So if he’s still under their control he’s not a free agent and you have to dance with the team, again.

    Toronto gets all their posting fee back which would behoove them to post high just to block the Yankees/Bosox.

    Don’t see it but the Cards could get in the Fielder sweepstakes with the money they would have spent on Albert. There pitching seems closer than the Cubbies for another run.

  • Luke

    Thanks for the press, Brett.

    The last edition in the series went up this morning, rehashing the Top 21 and including a few general observations.

  • die hard

    Bid rigged to allow Toronto to win because Darvish wanted to live in Canada and especially Toronto which is more diverse and accepting of Iranians is my speculation…no proooooof…just thinking aloud

    • Toosh

      Actually, Darvish would prefer to live, and play for a team, on the West Coast.

      • TWC

        Jeez, Ray-Bob, careful.  You’re obfuscating his rant.

        • Toosh

          Sorry. Normally I don’t respond to Die Hard I or II.

          • TWC

            I think the original Die Hard is still the best.

            • die hard

              thank you but doesnt matter what people think of me just as long as they think

              • TWC

                Yo, Grampa Tidrow!  I’m talkin’ about the mooooovie.  You familiar with those?  I think you luddites called them kinescopes or some nonsense back in the day.  Anyways… best Christmas movie EVER.

  • ncsujuri

    “because screw them that’s why”


  • JulioZuleta

    They are the Nippon Ham Fighters. Nippon Ham…….Fighters. Not the Nippon…..Ham Fighters, although that version is more amusing.

    • Brett

      Ham Fighters today, Ham Fighters forever.

      • hansman1982

        I just like to think that Nippon is the brand of the ham they fight with/over

        • http://Bleachernation Bric

          Damn Japanese anti-semites.

  • YoungCub

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but all the reports I’ve read haven’t had an exact number on the bid for the cubs.. they all say something along the lines of “Toronto outbid New York and the Rangers. They must be the winner. On a side note, the Cubs also put in a bid, but we don’t know how much that is so let’s just ignore it to write this story.”

    Anyone else think that’s odd? And maybe a reason to hope…?

    • hansman1982

      It was very interesting to read some national reports tweet that the Yankees put in a “modest” bid and then 5 minutes later say that the Blue Jays put in a giant bid but they arent sure if it beat the Yankees bid.

      From what I have seen it appears that the Yankees are nowhere near the front of the pack, but, and ESPN seems to be the worst, writers love to mention the Yankees (maybe they giggle everytime they see/type/say Yankees) whenever they can.

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  • http://Bleachernation Bric

    I’m a little behind the times on the Darvish scene because I think his contract and production are going to end up looking like Fuk’s (after all, his numbers are based on facing guys like Bobby Scales and Micah Hoffpauer),
    but has the nickname “The Whirling Darvish” been thrown around a lot already? If not, I claim it on behalf of the Bleacher Nation! (Ace, quick give me a flag to plant…)

  • Brian

    What’s up BN’ers!!

    Few points I want to make here….

    1. Ham Fighters will know who the highest bidder is, if we all know.

    2. Nippon means Japan

    3. Some of Japanese media believe that Blue Jays offered 70MM.

    4. Nippon Ham might just refuse the deal and Darvish will return to his team because the posting fee is way too higher than they expected.

    5. Darvish was the most expensive baseball player in Japan this year, re-signed with Nippon Ham for 6MM. And he made more money by CFs, selling iPhone apps and merchandise. I would guess he made north of 10MM this year with comfort of being home. As we think he has high risk factor, so does he. He will be dealing with language barrier and culture shock. He will have to lose his big fan base in Japan. It seem very logical to ask for minimum of 20MM per year.

    6. Do you see Blue Jays offered 50-70MM and sign him for more than 20MM for 5 years? At this moment, it looks like Darvish will return to Nippon Ham for one more year.

    7. Nippon Ham will do everything they can to convince Darvish to leave their team, because they just can’t afford him anymore. So even if Darvish returns to his team next year, he will be available again next year. I am not sure it will be FA or Posting System though.

    • hansman1982

      The funny part? Nippon Ham is an actual company, they are the company that owns the Nippon Ham Fighters  Hokkaido is the “state” the team plays in so if you wanted to be correct, and more in line with MLB – Hokkaido Fighters would be the best way to say it without including Nippon Ham.

      4. Makes no sense – they would absolutely accept the offer and hope that Darvish accepts the contract

      5. His contract has been speculated at $10M a year, add on endorsements and businesses over here and he will easily take home $15M a year.  No way in hell does any team offer him $20M a year contract, on top of your reported $70M posting.  That would be a $30M a year committment.

      6 & 7. Darvish would be with the team for 2 more years.

  • Brian

    His contract with “Japan Ham Company” Fighters for this year was 500 million Yen which is 6.4 million US dollar as of today and that 500 million Yen was 20% of Nippon Ham’s total salary of this year which was 32 million in US dollar.

    Posting fee north of 50MM is almost 2 full years of salary for the whole team without Darvish and that is a lot of money for the team. For that reason, Nippon Ham will try hard to convince Darvish and his Father, so at least they negotiate with the highest bidder.

    But Darvish’s father was pretty clear on that he doesn’t want anything more than 40MM as posting fee. And he might try to teach us a lesson by refusing the deal.

    He will be available next year, because Nippon Ham wants that 40+ million dollars. Can you imagine what cubs will do, if they have 300MM in cash by giving up their ACE?

    • Brett

      Whew. Matt Garza’s a swell dude, but I’d sell him for $300 million in a moment. I’d sell my elbows for $300 million.

  • Brian

    Jim Bowden deleted his post on twitter. It might be us won the bid!!!!!

    • Brett

      He did? Doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t the Jays – could have received pressure from someone to pull back the reigns. Interesting nonetheless.

  • ncsujuri

    Brian, you seem to be the most in touch with this story….why would Darvish’s father care what the posting fee is?

    • Brian

      Darvish never wanted to go to MLB. It was people around him includes his father kinda forced him to go.
      Culture in Asia is very different and it seems like Darvish obeys his father. It was his father made most Darvish’s financial decisions. Darvish even posted in his blog that we wants to stay with fighters.

      Darvish is extremely popular in Japan and has large number of hardcore fans. He even did photoshoot in nude. Since his divorce, his fan base is getting even bigger. He has thousands reason to stay in Japan.

      He is doing this for his father. That’s why his father care what posting fee is.

      • Toosh

        If he wants to stay in Japan, he can. All he has to do is not accept a contract offer from whatever team won the posting fee bid.

        • Deer

          The Ham Fighters will try to convince Darvish to leave. They play in Sapporo, which is in Hokkaido, away from the mainland. While baseball is big in Sapporo, that team was established just a few years ago, it’s nothing like how it is in Tokyo or other major cities where they sell out. $40-50M would be huge to the team in Sapporo

  • Cubbie Blues

    Theoretically there is x dollars a team would want to have invested in a particular player (including posting fee). The posting fee then would be taken off the top of the contract dollars (read: less money for Darvish).

  • JulioZuleta

    Say the Yankees knew the Red Sox were big on Darvish, and there any rules in place to stop a team from bidding say $100 mil, and then offering the league minimum for ten years, just so he goes back to Japan and none of their competitors can get him?

    • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

      I don’t think it makes sense to the Yankees who have such a high profile, world-wide brand. If you do this you will upset the Japanese and potentially break the posting system. Big market teams do not want to break the posting system or risk their name overseas. The Jays or A’s (last year) just might want to break the posting system.

    • Derek

      No they can out bid everyone just to block a team from getting him and then once he doesnt sign they will get their posting fee back and yu will have to wait another year to come stateside

  • john

    Still @diehard The Cubs would take Hanley Ramirez straight up for Garza in a heartbeat.

    • Brett

      I doubt that for a variety of reasons, among them: Ramirez’s contract, attitude, position, and down year.

      • die hard

        Eh?…down year is what Theo looks for, I thought?…Attitude couldnt be worse than Z…position could be positive as move Castro to 3B and Stewart to 1B if Soriano not going there…contract unknown could be sticking point but, what the hey, some say Cubs have deeeeeeep pockets…3 way trade something to consider

        • Brett

          Not in exchange for the Cubs’ most valuable realistically-movable piece.

    • Rick Vaughn

      With so many fans still bashing the franchise for how they keep giving Zambrano chances, I can only assume they’re going to avoid Hanley.

      I wouldn’t mind having the guy, but personally I’d rather keep Garza. Pitching is in such high demand. If Garza goes, I would hope a couple stud pitching prospects would come our way, not a shortstop with an attitude problem coming off a terrible season.

  • john

    How about Castro to third Hanley SS and Stewart at 2nd

    • MichiganGoat

      I don’t think the Cubs want to gamble with Hanley, he’s shown himself to be Milton Bradley-esque with his selfishness and that would make Chemistry Cat very unhappy.

  • john

    @Diehard …but then again that stuff only happens in your world
    Where the Cubs spend 200 mil+ and depletes their farm system all an effort to appease the one the only Die Hard

    • MichiganGoat

      It’s best to avoid thinking about die hard’s logic, it makes the word irrational look good.

  • john

    Managers don’t negotiate with players GM’s do. The Cubs are talking to Boras.

    • die hard

      not entirely true…Wood did his own last year…Most famous was Andre Dawson who told Cubs to give him whatever they felt was fair…

  • die hard

    Darvish likes hockey too….would make great winger with that wingspan….two sport player?…ala Fergie Jenkins