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Missing out on Yu Darvish, alone, is not a reason to give up on 2012. There are free agents left. Trades can be made. Players can surprise.

So, in that regard, we don’t really know more about the Cubs’ offseason plans today than we did last night.

But, the nice thing about landing a pitcher like Darvish? It can signal your team is “going for it” in 2012, or it can signal your team is committed to building for the long-term. At just 25, Darvish is barely older than the average AA/AAA prospect. Landing him would not have shown what direction the Cubs were going to take, but it would have given me confidence that either path was getting off to a great start.

I am not interested in seeing the Cubs make moves just to make moves. But I am interested in seeing the organization move toward one direction or the other: either sell off valuable pieces to build for the future, or add legitimate, impact pieces to try and compete in the near-term.

So far this Winter, the Cubs have done neither. The 2012 team looks appreciably worse than the 2011 team (which was, itself, no prize pig), and the Cubs have not made a single move designed to build toward the future. I still have “trust,” “patience,” and all that. But the time has come to make a decision. Darvish represented the crossroads. The Cubs missed out, and now it’s time for tough decisions.

We all need to be realistic about where the Cubs, as currently constructed, stand in the next couple of years. Without a number of significant additions this offseason – and I mean Prince Fielder PLUS another big bat somewhere PLUS a good starting pitcher (better than Paul Maholm) – I cannot see how this roster can compete for the playoffs in 2012, short of a Disney-style miracle. Adding those pieces remains possible. But, given what we’ve seen in the aftermath of the 2007 spending splurge, is it really the path we want the Cubs to take?

Keep in mind why we were so excited to get Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in the first place: we believed they knew how to build a roster and an organization from the ground up. With every big name that goes off the board to a team not called the Cubs, it seems more and more likely that building from the ground up is exactly what Epstein and Hoyer plan to do.

That said, it’s time to get to it. And that means aggressively shopping the few valuable pieces on the roster who may not be around to contribute to a winner in 2013/2014 and beyond.

I’ve already discussed my belief that the Cubs should be shopping closer Carlos Marmol and catcher Geovany Soto regardless of their plan for 2012. That should continue, unabated.

Now it’s time to talk more seriously about finding a home for Matt Garza and Sean Marshall.

The viability of trading Matt Garza has been discussed around here – and elsewhere – at length. With Darvish off the market and headed to Texas, the picture for Garza changes a bit. The Rangers, for all intents and purposes, are out, which is a shame, because they may have been his hottest pursuer. Everyone expects the Blue Jays – who’ve now whiffed on both Darvish and Mat Latos – to step up their pursuit of Garza. As a 28-year-old, excellent starting pitcher under control for two more years, Garza is attractive to every team looking for a starter. But he may be even more attractive to teams like the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox, who’ve seen him up close and personal in the AL East, where he was successful.

Ken Rosenthal agrees that the Blue Jays, among others will be in on Garza, and adds that teams are very interested in lefty reliever Sean Marshall.

Theo Epstein recently called Marshall the best left-handed reliever in baseball, which I can only assume was designed to remind those teams who come to the Cubs asking about Marshall to come hard, or don’t come at all. And, you know, Marshall may indeed by the best left-handed reliever in baseball.

Marshall, 29, is coming off back-to-back dominant seasons as a full-time reliever (160 ERA+ in 2010, 173 in 2011). He’ll make just $3.1 million in 2012, his last before free agency. When the San Diego Padres dealt similarly successful, but older, more expensive, and less left-handed reliever Mike Adams at the deadline last year, they netted two top pitching prospects, Robbie Erlin and Joe Weiland (both of whom would have been in the Cubs’ top ten prospect lists last year). Keep in mind on Marshall: under the new CBA, players must have been on a team’s roster the entire season to qualify for draft pick compensation if they leave via free agency. That means if the Cubs waited until mid-season to deal Marshall, the return would be dramatically reduced.

Marshall will soon be a free agent. Garza will soon be very expensive, and then a free agent. Both are likely to be 30 by the time the Cubs are competitive again … and they’ll cost the Cubs a much larger chunk of the budget at that time.

I understand that the idea of shipping off the best pitchers on the team for prospects is an unappealing and foreign concept for many of us – and is particularly foreign in recent years in Chicago. But, if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer plan to build a foundation for sustained success in the long-term, dealing valuable pieces like Garza and Marshall may be the first step.

  • Buzzamus

    I agree completely. Marshall and Garza are both great now, but by the time the Cubs are ready for a serious run, how good and expensive will they be then? Better sell them while they are hot and let their talent not become a waste.

    • Alex

      If the Cubs don’t contend until 2014, Garza and Marshall will still be good. As far as being expensive is concerned, that won’t be an issue, unless we become a big market version of the Padres, Royals or Pirates.

  • NL_Cubs

    My God, the new front office has only been in place for not even two months and yet some expect major moves to be made before they even have their desk drawers organized and pictures hung on their office walls.

    I like the slow, methodical (giving benefit of the doubt) approach they are taking thus far. Give the Boyz time! Geez.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I really can’t understand how that was your takeaway from this article.

      • NL_Cubs

        Example #1:

        “I am interested in seeing the organization move toward one direction or the other: either sell off valuable pieces to build for the future, or add legitimate, impact pieces to try and compete in the near-term.”

        We all are but it takes time.

        Brett, I love BN and what you bring. Don’t get me wrong. I understand you need to write, keep things fresh etc. My comment is not as directed at you as much as it is at the media in general and “impatient” fans as a whole. The Theo project will take time and two months on the job does not, and should not translate into a meaningful or result oriented action plan.

        Carry on.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I understand. I just want to be clear that, within the context of the entire piece, the message isn’t “OMG DO SOMETHING ALREADY1!!!!!!” In fact, I think I was pretty clear that is not what I’m saying.

          But it’s very much time to set the direction of the team for 2012. Otherwise, the market passes you by. That has nothing to do with the new guys’ two and a half months in charge, and everything to do with most teams having their rosters set by January.

    • Cedlandrum

      Yikes what the hell are you talking about? I don’t read that from this article.

  • Robert

    I wouldn’t mind sending down marshall and soto and maybe someone else for Arencibia?

  • Tom B

    I can’t agree more with your last statement. It will be a rough couple of years but it needs to be done. I don’t even want to think about this years lineup. It will be awful but, like they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.

  • Cedlandrum

    i’m fine with trading them. But I think if you start down that road you have to go all the way. Marshall, Garza, Soto and Marmol. You also have to be willing to give away all of Zambrano and Soriano and you also have to be willing to pick the first pick in the next draft. You also get rid of Byrd.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I agree completely.

    • Spencer

      I don’t feel like they should trade Marshall AND Marmol.  If you want to get rid of one, fine, I guess.  But trading away both your set-up guy and closer doesn’t seem like a very pragmatic approach to have.  Move whichever one you think you can get more value from.  Marshall might be easier to trade because of his contract in comparison to Marmol.  I think the return for Marmol would be greater than for Marshall, but he’s probably also harder to move.

      • Smitty

        From what they are saying, they are going full on fire-sale with the team and expecting to truly build from the ashes. If that is what you are doing, then why not get rid of both of those guys. You don’t need quality relievers if you are truly giving up on the season(probably next two seasons) if that is their plan. Might as well let the young guns pitch in those roles and get the practice.

        I’m not interested in spending 2 more years like last year, but I understand the logic.

  • Eric S

    Great stuff as always Brett! Maybe Garza, Marshall and Soriano can all go in the same deal? That would be a nice pipe dream! This way the Cubs don’t have to eat as much of Soriano’s salary, can get some great prospects for Garza and Marshall and plug in a guy (Jackson, Crisp etc) into left field as a stop gap while the kids in Iowa get ready. I would hate to lose Garza or Marshall but if it helps us get kids in the system like Brian Lahair I’d be okay with it.

    • Cedlandrum

      If you bring up Jackson you play him in center to get acclimated. He is a natural there and he will have a tough enough adjustment at the plate, you can’t mess with him playing a position that isn’t his natural.

    • Joe

      How is LaHair a kid? I mean, I like him, but the dude just turned 29 — he’s older than Garza, same age as Marshall.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Think of the haul Garza and Marshall could get us from a team like the Blue Jays. The Cubs farm system would look very different. Add in the prospects if Geo and Marmol are traded… WOW.

  • jr5

    I understand this point of view, and I’m sure they do have to make some decisions. But I just have such a hard time imagining them cutting payroll by the amount that would have to be cut to enact this scenario.

    The Cubs, a team that generates a huge amount of revenue, are going to roll out a, what, $80 million payroll next season? That’d be something like a 40% cut from last opening day. I just don’t see how the team can sell that to fans that already proved they had no problem not showing up for tickets they paid for, which costs the team enough in lost concessions and other expenses. I guess you could argue that the money would be saved by the payroll cuts, but considering baseball operations money was supposed to remain the same as last year, and considering the new inability to spend on amateur signings, I just don’t see where else they’re going to spend the money.

  • ari gold

    I really think this new CBA messed everything up for what the Cubs were trying to do. I think we’ll go hard and land either Cespedes or Soler or possibly both. They could turn this around within 2 years if they can get Fielder, Cespedes/Soler, along with trading Garza and Marshall. Besides signing big named free agents, they need to restock the farm system, which Garza and Marshall trades would do.

    • MoneyBoy

      Ari – Agree on the Seligdorf’s CBA !!!   Fielder is NOT gonna happen nor should it.  Given that Cespedes is from Cuba (birth certificate) it’s unclear he’s worth the investment.

      As Brett knows I’ve long advocated either locking up both Garza and Marshall or trading them now … for all the reasons Brett’s mentioned.  Soto is in the same boat – but no way is he worth locking up.

      As one of those season ticket holders jr5 spoke of … in my renewal letter to the members of my group I stated “Renewing for 2012 is an act of faith and an investment in the future for all of us.”  I don’t care who has to go as long as the return gets us where we WANT to go.  The Studio 42 interviews were fabulous and poignant … all 3 said they wanted to be present when the Cubs finally win a WS.

      Either Epstein or Hoyer (or both) IMO need to state publicly what their plan is.  I am of the opinion that, like the stock market, the fan base despises uncertainty.  While there will always be a vocal minority who will bitch about a rebuilding process, noted motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “Make a decision and go 100mph.  If you’re wrong you’ll find out sooner.”

  • Timmy

    Funny that you started with a quote from the Communist Manifesto. I wouldn’t get too over-excited yet, but it does seem like the team has gotten markedly worse and not better at all so far. Sure I’m up for a rebuild, we need it.

    But why not put together a few pieces so we can at least compete at the same time? I’m not going to attend ANY games this season if it means watching 2nd tier players play slightly-better-than-average defense surrounded by 2nd tier minor league call-ups.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Funny that you started with a quote from the Communist Manifesto.

      I did? If it was clever, I want credit. If it was bad, I had no idea I was doing it…

      • Timmy

        “A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism.”

        The notion of the specter looming over what could/should be is usually considered Marxian.

        Actually I’ve been thinking after watching the Ken Burns documentary. It’s not the goat that haunts us. It’s the fact that we won our last world series by cheating. Why doesn’t anyone every talk about that?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The cheating thing comes up every now and again, but it doesn’t stick in the narrative for whatever reason.

          (and, thank you for the info – I now choose to believe I was being “clever.”)

          • JulioZuleta

            Oh, I thought you meant “Missing out on Yu Darvish, alone, is not a reason to give up on 2012.” and I thought that was quite an odd quote to begin the Communist Manifesto.

        • Bric

          Is that the communist manifesto? It sounds more like part of a quote from Winston Churchill. Anyway, it’s scary to think that this year’s team maybe even worse than last year’s but it’s true.

          Brett, your point about making moves quick is accurate. Hendry waited too long last year and then overpaid for Garza. I’m starting to wonder if Hendry’s indecision over the last few years wasn’t so much as the ownership watching the budget.

          After all, Epstein and Hendry have two very different styles yet both seem to be acting in the same way. The worst part about the comparison of Hendry/Epstein are the two elephants in the room (Zambrano and Sori). Neither the old GM or the new one wants to even talk about these two train wrecks. That’s what really makes me think Ricketts is more worried about money than improving or rebuilding this team.

          • Wilbur

            The season record could be worse, which is the ultimate barometer for any season.

            However, if you were watching better baseball (e.g., good defense at third, improved outfield play, improved base running, batters working counts, etc.) by several new players that would still be bad, but you would likely be seeing leading indicators of a better record in the future.

  • http://bleachernation Stephen

    If we are smart ( egads!!! Did I just say that??), we can restock the top 5 spots in our farm with 2 moves ( Garza and Marshall) I agree, it’s hard to sit on our hands while a lot of teams are dancing. That being said, I believe Theo is balls deep in negotiations for both of the aforementioned pitchers.
    Stand by…for news!!!

  • rbreeze

    I’m fine with trading anyone and everyone except Castro.  But patience is what we need to have right now.  Theo will take care of all of the family business when he is ready.  And he will answer all of our questions once he meets with the other 29 families.  Cuneo, Strachi, Tatalia, Moe Greene, Josh Byrnes, Daniels, Cherrington, etc.  He will take care of all of the family business and it won’t be personal just business!!!

  • Cedlandrum

    if you do go into a total rebuild the DeJesus signing is even more of a head scratcher.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sort of. But there are two possible answers: (1) he wanted to sign early, and it came before the Cubs knew what direction they were going to go; (2) he’s under contract for a couple years, and doesn’t have a no-trade clause. He could be moved in July.

      • Wilbur

        Not really for DeJesus and similar type players. If you are in total rebuild you need MLB level talent on the cheap to fill the roster until the young talent arrives. Plus if they have a comeback year you can deal them for more prospects or play them however the options seem appropriate.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      Eh maybe but if he has a good year someone could be looking for that type of player at the deadline and we get a decent prospect or two out of it. If not its not like the Cubs are locked in forever.

  • Buzzamus

    I think you could draw the line on who to aggressively shop by a certain age. Will this player be declining by the time we are ready? I think Cashner and Castro are the only two that fit in that age and even then if someone wants to pay an outrageous amount for, I would listen. Everybody else (Soto, Marshall, Marmol and so on) are at that age where their talent is either about to reach the peak, or already has.

  • Spencer

    lol you quoted what i said last night in the comments verbatim.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I didn’t see it (until now), but it’s a spot-on point.

  • Martin

    I think it is not so much an impatience to win again (which would be terrific, of course), but an impatience to learn the direction of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

    If the Cubs start next year with a lineup that features names like Rizzo, Perez, Snider, Jackson, Castro, Cespedes, etc., I will be ecstatic and happy to fork over season ticket money to see that group grow up.

    If the Cubs start next year with a lineup that features names like Fielder, Garza, Soto, Marshall, I’ll enjoy watching them try to compete for a playoff spot in a terrible division, and then who knows.

    As they stand right now, it seems as if they’re in a middling position and my guess is that they’re still determining not only the best course of action, but how to pursue that course of action (i.e. which players to target). As a fan, it is frustrating to not know…but that’s all it is. If February 21st comes along and most people still feel like they don’t know the direction, well…that’s more of a problem.

    • Timmy

      I agree with everything in this post.

    • Cedlandrum

      yep agreed

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Let’s make it a trio. Agreed.

      And it’s not as if there isn’t a kind of middle road that might work, but it’s the kind that requires big free agent signings coupled with moving guys who can be replaced internally or externally with the savings from the pieces you move (and pocketing the prospects you receive in return). Even that route will require movement in the near term, however.

    • Christopher Trengove

      Echoing the choir: agree with Martin entirely

    • Lou

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Total agree.

  • http://bleachernation Stephen

    I hope at least 1 person got my Paul Harvey impersonation…..??

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If I’d seen it initially, I would have.

  • Jeff

    I really can’t stand what has already become with Tom Ricketts as the owner of the Cubs. The real reason Theo Epstein was able to be so successful with the Red Sox was that he spent a ton of Money! He won the bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka with a bid over 50 million dollars. I’m sure if Ricketts allowed him to he would have put in the same type of bid for Darvish. If Ricketts really wanted to be cheap and have a Payroll someday under 100 million dollars he should have went after Andrew Friedman of the Rays. He has been very successful with a small payroll. Like I said earlier Theo has done well with the Red Sox with the second highest payroll in baseball!!!!! In this league you have to spend money to win and Tom Ricketts should have known that before purchasing the Chicago Cubs. I can’t stand fans that say this guy is too expensive or we should trade this guy because he will be expensive in the future. ITS NOT OUR MONEY THAT WE ARE SPENDING. Wrigley Field is sold out almost every game. We should be able to be the 3rd highest payroll in baseball under the Red Sox and the Yankees. If Rickets is that cheap to go for Rizzo and not Fielder it will show how greedy the man really is.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      Hooray! Tom Ricketts is a Cheap Bastard Who Has Crapped On All That Is Holy! - that “argument” never gets old.

    • MoneyBoy

      Two words for ya … MO RON

      • Jeffrey

        Really you don’t like that comment. I’ll tell you what if you were living in New York a fan of the Yankees or better yet a fan of the RedSox you will never see a discussion about spending less money. They make a mistake and they spend more to correct that mistake. Believe me if Mark Cuban owned the Cubs we will have Darvish, Fielder or Pujols and a ton of other high priced free agents. It’s funny how after so many years of losing that Cub fans are OK about a rebuilding process when you don’t have to if you spend on free agents. A lot of the high priced players right now on the Cubs are going into their last year on the team anyway. Yes, Tom Ricketts has proved to be in his years as a 3rd largest market owner with a team that sells out every game CHEAP! If you want to make a comment on that give me reasons to prove that he is not cheap or that what I’m saying isn’t valid.

        • BetterNews

          Jeff—-I agree with you and would like to add this whole thing is turning into a fiasco. I just can’t believe how far the Cubs have fallen in 4 years. From needing a couple of “tweaks” to a complete rebuild. It’s ludicrous.

        • Pat

          The Cubs do not have anywhere near the resources that NY and Boston do. Not even close.

          In addition they have a ton of debt service, a ton of debt, an awful TV/radio contract for another 6 or 7 years, and a stadium that needs a ton of work.

          Remember, when Tribco riased the payrolls towards the end they did not have the debt or debt service, and knew that the stadium wasn’t their problem since they were selling soon.

          The team does not generate the kind of money needed for the kind of spending you are talking about.

          • BetterNews

            What? The Cubs have the HIGHEST average ticket price in baseball and have no problem filling the park. Where is the money going?

            • Pat

              Well, 30+ million of it is going to service their debt. Not pay it down, mind you. That’s just paying the interest.

              3 million fans at an average of $50 is $150 million a year. Boston, NY and several other teams make more than that just for their TV rights. The Cubs also have no naming rights income, no parking income, and less advertising income than almost any team in the league.

              • BetterNews

                But you also have to consider the fact that Tom Ricketts infused the team with cash “supposedly” with his vast holdings outside of baseball operations which has to be taken into consideration. Thus, a lack of signing/signings because of a lack of money makes no sense in my mind nor Jeffs, which is where the original arguement started.

                • Pat

                  First off, Tom Ricketts does not have “vast holdings” outside of baseball. His father Joe does. Tom does have another business, which according to his father finally became profitable the year before he took over the Cubs. After nine or ten years. One profitable year out of ten does not equal vast holdings.

                  Additionally, Tom mentioned in the opening press conference that the Cubs would keep all profits reinvested in the organization. The unsaid part there was that additional cash was not going to be infused.

                  So take what the Trib was spending, add in any profits they pulled out,but subtract debt service, debt payments and improvements to Wrigley. There just isn’t as much money there as you suspect.

        • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

          Then why didn’t the Red Sox or Yankees sign ANY big name free agents this year?  Pretty sure the Red Sox are 2 years removed from the playoffs and now 4 years removed from a WS title.

          It isn’t about spending MORE money, anybody can come in and just buy up all the free agents, it is about spending the money wisely and part of that is upgrading the facilities.  The Cubs have some of the WORST player accomodations in the major leagues and that NEEDS to improve in order for the product on the field to improve.

          I think Ricketts has proven that he isn’t a dumb owner.  He polled major league owners and execs and it was a resounding “THEO EPSTEIN”.

          I just get sick of hearing about how the Cubs haven’t built a winning tradition EVER and then 2 months into what will be a painful process people are already crying uncle.  I got sick of hearing how crappy Epstein was because he overpaid for Crawford, WELL GUESS WHAT, the Angels overpaid for Pujols, the Cubs would have had to overpay for Wilson, and signing a Boras client early is a sure indicator of overpaying.

          • BetterNews

            Hans—Sorry I don’t agree. While the Cubs are lacking in player accomodations as you stated, there is no correlation between that and the product that can be put on the field. That was an arguement they used in Pittsburgh to build a new stadium for the Pirates. Build it and they will come and than a better product can be put on the field will the increased revenue. How well did that work out? I don’t buy that arguement at all.

            • Lou

              I have to agree with BetterNews. Knowing how upset some people I know from Pittsburgh were at the increases in taxes that they had to pay to fund that stadium. Pirates had how many losing seasons with the “rebuild” philosophy? Big market teams don’t engage in the 3-5 year complete rebuild philosophy. They restock because they’re big market teams with fanbases willing to pay higher ticket prices and go to out of market games live. I think it is VERY telling though that Epstein did that in Boston, overpaying for free agents. What bothers me are those in the Chicago media who I’ve engaged with in discussions through social media who are ok with big contracts in 2014. If you’re so into rebuilding, then become a team like the Royals, who have emerged FINALLY as an up and coming team, and see it through.

              I also think you are JUST wrong when you say that it isn’t about spending money. Actually, Hansman, it is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking about the how successful the Yankees are as a franchise (the most successful franchise in all sports, I believe), the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, the concept that the Angels (with the bloated Pujols contract) are now major players in the AL, and the Rangers (who’ve turned into Yankees south). Bottom line people like Theo like to talk a good game about drafts and development, when a large emphasis is put on big $$ contracts, if the team has the money. Sure, you give yourself a short window to win, but if the Cubs had won it in 2007-2008, not even yourself would be talking about Hendry and his contracts. Let’s face it….no one would. And another point to be made here–I know Ricketts (for now) are staying out of baseball ops as owners, but many ownership groups are behind the big spending that occurs. Owners will have their say (right or wrong). Ultimately the reality is that it becomes more about big $$ and less about slow rebuilds or operating from a statistical analysis perspective. Unfortunately, that’s how it is–win now and worry about it later. Not that that is a solid business model, mind you.

              • http://Yahoo Dooglass

                The teams you are mentioning already have an excellent organization in place, we don’t. Also no one is saying that we need a new stadium, he’s saying that when you are competing in the modern world for star athletes, they kind of like to be pampered and have the finest facilities. We do not offer that. Any GM that sits in the Cubs GM seat definitely negotiates from a point of weakness when it come to the amenities for the players. Seriously comparing this current organization to the NYY and the Sawx just shows ignorance. Do you read about the Cubs minor league players being as desired as the Yanks and the red Sox? Look at the core of both teams winning lineups. They are filled with homegrown talent, then the big signings occur.

                • BetterNews

                  I believe when a player comes to the Cubs, he knows about the amenities at Wrigley, and this is not compelling interest in becoming a Cub. It is the history of the organization, the history of Wrigley, the whole Cubs experience that lures players to the Cubs organization and money! Yes money! Can’t tell me a lack of amenities would stop Fielder or anyone else from coming to the Cubs for a “fat” contract. It comes down to money!

                  • http://Yahoo Dooglass

                    Yes but you have to offer more money for them to come. See our history as a team for example. All I’m saying is we will never know how many players say, “I’m not going there, I want a professional batting cage just down the hall from my dugout”. If you think that hasn’t discouraged a player from coming here I would take that bet any day. I’m not going to do the leg work necessary to win that bet but I’m confident, it wouldn’t take long to find a dozen players that didn’t even consider us because they are use to those kind of amenities. I would like Fielder too, but adding just him to this team would be exciting for maybe the month of April, and may. We are competing with a lot of teams who are in go for it mode. They have the talent to trade for pieces and they have the money to go toe to toe with us for free agent services. It’s just not going to be easy to throw money at this and make a huge difference. I’m a realist and idealist trapped in the same body. I’ve had this argument with myself over the last year and I’ve come to the painful conclusion that this isn’t going to be easy nor fun but I do believe that we have some of the best and brightest baseball minds and couple that with the fact that our minors are middle of the road and not horrible give me hope that with some patience, (something most of us don’t have including myself) we can have the organization we have been wanting and deserved for all these years. Also our TV contract is horrible and I can’t wait to negotiate a new contract or start our own station.

                • Lou

                  Actually, man, I’m not comparing just the Yanks and Sawx to this organization. I don’t were you’re coming from with a new stadium. I’m agreeing that that is what the Pirates sold to fans and it didn’t work. Think before you post and call someone an idiot. Owners are behind the big spending short window approach both with what has occurred this offseason in LA and Miami. You wouldn’t take what Miami did winning two WS as an expansion franchise before the 100+ years of Cubs futility. I find that HARD TO BELIEVE.

                  If you could read, I also looked at what Texas and the Angels are doing. The Angels have some homegrown talent. They also have bad contracts and old players, like the Cubs. In fact, LA made two of the worst moves last offseason (getting rid of “homegrown talent” in Mike Napoli and acquiring Vernon Wells). Again, think before you post.

                  • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

                    I was merely alluding to what needs to happen so our Cubs can be competative.  Using facilities that aren’t in the 21st century leads to players not being able to train, rest, recouperate, relax properly which adds to the wear and tear of the 20 extra day games at Wrigley each year.  It is a snowball effect and ALL of these things need to be addressed.

                    For those saying that a rebuilding HAS to take years upon years you also reference teams that solely go the farm system route.  It would be wise for the Cubs to purge the dead weight of the team, get as many prospects as possible now that the new CBA is in place and gobble up the big names as they come down the road.  I sincerely doubt that when Tom or Theo talk about rebuilding they mean going a Marlins/Rays route.

                    • Lou

                      Well, if they go the Rays route, then people need to see it through and stop complaining about a Sean Marshall trade when there’s no lead to protect. They need to stop complaining about a Matt Garza trade when you’re investing $20 mil in a player (for 2 years of arbitration) that alone didn’t help the Cubs win more than 71 games last year. He shouldn’t be expected to do that without help in the SP rotation this year. Not saying you’re making these statements. Like you, I’ve got my beefs and I’m SICK of people saying these aren’t necessary moves. Yes, yes there are!

                    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

                      Festivus is Friday…Airing of Grievances!!!

                      I GOTTA LOTTA PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Friday is going to be a good day

        • http://Yahoo Dooglass

          Mark Cuban has been on the record saying he would not be able to outspend the bad contracts that the Cubs have on the books. And if you pay attention to the NBA you would now that he is constantly doing that with the Mavericks. So it would be hard to do that for both teams. also Mark Cuban has been a majority owner of the Mavs for 11 years. So throwing money at a team took him that long to win the title. This coming year will be Ricketts second year, why don’t we see where this goes.

        • http://www.twitter.com/MrRobbins MrRobbins

          Ricketts did spend…
          $18 million Theo
          $20 million on amateur players this year
          $22 million on the McDonalds to build and grow
          Add in firing a coach and front office
          Hiring a new coach and front office

          If he was being a “cheap ass bastard of an owner” he wouldn’t be spending on the building blocks to a successful team.

          And honestly, he’s missed out on 1 player who seemed a likely target in free agency so far this year (Darvish). A maybe you consider a quarter of a billion for Pujols a wise investment, but that’s not a home run.

          • Jeffrey

            I didn’t even notice this post, but I think it’s really funny that you are defending Mr. Ricketts spending by showing off that the most he has spent this offseason is on McDonalds. That really just put a smile on my face. Tell me MrRobbins where is McDonalds going to play. Will it be in on first base. :)

      • http://Yahoo Dooglass

        Jeff I don’t agree with you. This is just a painful wake up call to how badly this team was mis-managed over …….. well along time. We could maybe win a bad central division crown if we brought in the people you and most everyone else have mentioned, but that wouldn’t be a world series contending team and it certainly wouldn’t point towards sustained success. What is going on here is never been attempted in my life time. People mention MacPhail as someone who was brought in similarly to do a rebuild, but at that time the Cub’s minor league system was in much worse condition. MacPhail brought us into the family photo of respectability but there was, and still is much to do. I know it’s hard to trust when it comes to a team that hasn’t won in our life times and when the owner has the money, but this team needs to be totally over hauled. The proof is in the fact that none of the other teams are beating our door down to get to our players. We have, and still are over rating our major league and minor league talent. I think Ricketts knows exactly what a rebuild will cost him in attendance and concessions and I’m sure he’s nervous, but this is the painful path that has to be taken in order to finally get this team to where we all want to go. Sustained success and a world series title. Take the summer off of baseball if it’s to aggravating, I’m sure the 2013 team will look closer to what some were hoping for this year. Also setting the plan for the future so the fans know the plan is great for us, but it also helps all the other FOs. I think that Theo has learned his lesson from dealing with Cashman.

        • Bric

          I agree. I’ve been lit up on BN in the past for stating the Cubs minor league system is overhyped in the past but the logic I always used was the lack of interest from other teams and Hendry’s responses. if he was right about the quality of the Cubs farm system then why did he always have to trade or sign so many free agents?

          Every year when a position needed to be filled or the rotation it was always with outside players. And unfortunately it still is. And so Brett can light me up, I’ll say again Vitters and McNutt will never make the roster, both should have been traded when they had value, and 6 infielders with a .220 avg don’t equal 2 infielders with .440 avg.

          • Lou

            Not sure about Vitters. Totally agree with McNutt. Seen a video of him–difficult mechanics to repeat and violent delivery. Sorry, don’t remember where the video was. Also, for our #1 prospect, I’m not sold on BjAx either.

            • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

              I think BjAx will be a solid, regular.  A guy who might make a couple AS games but he is NOT a Jacoby Ellsbury.  Maybe more along the lines of Marlon Byrd.  Not a bad guy to have in CF.

              Vitters K’s too much and BB’s too litle.  At his current rates he would have to hit 30+ homers in AAA in order to hope to stick in the majors.

              • Lou

                Problem is–the way this team is currently constructed we need an Ellsbury. That’s fine is you think he’s a solid player–I just see him as a complimentary player when the Cubs need impact bats from their system…like soon.

                • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

                  Very true, and if you can use Jackson to acquire that guy, great, do it…otherwise plug and play (come June 15 obviously).  Realistically, even if he is just a .280/.340/.450 20/20 type player with above average defense, I will take that out of a cost controlled center fielder.

        • Jeffrey

          Doogless,

          A perfect example of teams that bought a championship is the 1997 Florida Marlins. If the Cubs purchased those big free agents and we won in a weak division anything can happen in the playoffs. I think the Cardinals definitely proved that this year and the Marlins proved that in 2003. You get yourself into the playoffs and anything can happen. Rebuilding takes forever and rarely ever works. When it does work it works 10 years down the line. Look at the Tampa Bay Rays. They were horrible for many years and now they’re good, but still haven’t won a World Series Championship. Like Lou said the great teams are the ones that spend the money. I say if Ricketts didn’t have the money to spend for a winner he never should have bought the team!!! We deserve an owner like John W. Henry or Steinbrenner. There are no excuses why Ricketts can’t spend money to make this team great. He should have let Mark Cuban buy it!!!

          • Jeffrey

            Also, Dougless Mark Cuban would have spent a lot more money with the Mavs if they didn’t have a luxury tax to worry about. In the MLB there aren’t any Luxury tax unless your up in the 200 mil dollar mark. That’s a main difference. For every one dollar your over in the NBA you pay dollar for dollar. That doesn’t happen in the MLB. Believe me Mark would have loved to be immortalized as the owner of a championship Cubs franchise. But, all of that is mute point now that Ricketts owns the ball club

            • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

              I was just thinking yesterday, I haven’t heard anything about Cuban since about August 15th…

              Jesus, we lose out on a blind auction and a bunch of free agents we didnt really want and people are ready to freak out.

              Deep breaths are called for all around.

          • Lou

            I said that teams that spend money do win, but I also echo the sentiment here that it’s a short window and can certainly be a poor business model. (Look at Tom Hicks and what happened after he signed ARod with the Rangers). So, there are CERTAINLY large risks playing that way, just as much with totally going draft and development. I stress more in the way of a middle ground philosophy. Also, I don’t know if Tampa is a good example to counteract the argument against spending. The Rays have the SP pitching development model down to a science unlike any team I’ve ever seen. That alone could get them back to the WS. The Pirates, A’s and Royals historically are better examples of rebuild movements, which up to this point in time, haven’t achieved any amount of sustained success.

          • http://Yahoo Dooglass

            Eff, u are mistaken,
            Those Marlin teams still had huge talent come from their minors, and in the case of the 1997 marlins their big pickup was Bobby Bonilla, thats it. 2003 marlins you are way off on. Cabrera, Beckett! They don’t win in 2003 without Beckett period!!!!! All I’m saying is we over value our talent and the league and how they are responding to our talent is proving me right. Marlins had young talent coming out of the bung hole. Also everyone likes to forget Cubans legal trouble around the time of purchase and the fact that MLB owners didn’t want anything to do with him. But I notice a lot of people like to forget the facts of what went on in sports history in this town. Truth is in the details.

            • Jeffrey

              Dooglass you are completely wrong about the 1997 Florida Marlins. Get your facts straight. Florida had one of the highest payrolls in baseball that season. They had the 5th highest payroll. They went all out for a championship that season. They went from 19,141,000 to 52,465,000. That year that was huge. They went all out for a championship and won. The next year they dropped right back to 25,311,000. That’s called going all in for a championship. Your right Truth is in the details. Get your facts straight! The whole point of 2003 was the point that just getting into the playoffs mean everything. Anything can happen when your in the playoffs. Cuban didn’t become the owner of the Cubs because Stern and the other owners wouldn’t allow it. Really get your facts straight Dooglas

              • Jeffrey

                Also, Dougless with the 1997 Marlins they splurged on 3 big free agents that year, Bobby Bonnila you had right then Moises Alou and Alex Fernandez.

        • baseballet

          Couldln’t agree more.

  • Cheryl

    Brett, Good article. I agree that besides building up the front office they have to start setting the direction for the future. Yes, trading Garza, Marshall to restock in five areas makes sense. They do need the big bats but I don’t think Fielder will be coming to the cubs. We basically have to wait – but I hope for not too long – to get this ship floatig in the right direction.

  • WGNstatic

    The Cubs certainly need to develop a plan for Sean Marshall. To me, he is the most intriguing asset the Cubs have. I see four options:

    1) Keep him in his current role.
    2) Move him to closer.
    3) Move him to the starting rotation.
    4) Trade him

    To me #1 makes the LEAST sense, although it is the easiest route. As a pending free agent he will soon be a pretty expensive set-up man, a luxury that I don’t see the Cubs splurging on in the next couple of years.

    As a free agent reliever, he will be on the market as a closer, albeit a largely untested closer. If Theo and Jed really do believe that he is the best lefty reliever in baseball, then put that to the test and see if he can handle the closing responsibilities this year. Of course that means moving Marmol, which, although I like the idea of in general, there might be some argument that he’d best moved later when he, hopefully, has built his value back up a bit.

    The option that most intrigues me is moving him to the rotation. It is nice to dream of a CJ Wilson type of transition for him. There are no indications that this is being pursued though, and I’d think that Marshall would need/want to know soon with regards to his off season training.

    This of course leaves the trade possibility. Certainly possible. That said, it will be very interesting to see how the trade market for middle relievers develops. Yes, an in season trade will not bring back draft pick compensation. However, holes in the bullpen are the types of things that many teams go into the season hoping (justifiably) that young internal guys can handle the job, then, in July when the team is desperate and sees the weakness they spend on at the deadline (as both the Cardinals and Rangers did this season in a big way.)

    • MoneyBoy

      WGN – For whatever it’s worth I’ve had many of the same thoughts regarding Marshall.  I stated earlier that the 1st 3 require locking him up long term.  I saw his velocity increase last year and he developed a “Lilly-like” willingness to throw his FB inside to right handed hitters to keep them off the back door curve.

      Writers, bloggers and others have said that his curve ball, as a starter, takes a toll on his arm and becomes less effective – which I find odd.  I always believed a slider is harder on the elbow than a curve.

      “Problem” is … he’s a FA next year – so whatever you do, you have to commit in either direction – soon.

    • Dougy D

      WGNstatic,

      The Cubs already gave Marshall a shot at making the rotation (last year or the year before I believe, I will attribute this to bad memory). He wasn’t able to pull it off. That doesn’t mean that he can’t do it now, but I personally like him in the pen. He is very versatile and can come in to close a game, or pith 2-3 innings where needed. I think that the cubs should close games with the best match up possible at pitcher, and not with a guy that has the title “closer.” As Marshall is one of my favorite Cubs, I would hate to see it happen, but my guess is that he will get traded in the off-season or by the trade deadline. I just hope they get a haul for him, as I agree with what Epstein said that he is the best bullpen lefty in the MLB.

      • WGNstatic

        I’m not sure I buy the “failed starter” argument. Marshall hasn’t started more than 10 games since 2007, starting 7-9 in 08 and 09, and none since. No, he wasn’t a great starter at the time, but he was also only 25. Most viewed him as a potential long reliever/6th starter. It is not as if he moved from the rotation to the back of the pen, as Marmol did.

  • Dumpman

    I think out of everyone Marshall and Byrd need to be moved the most. I say that because at this point all that can happen is an injury or poor play to decrease their value. I think both guys can net us some good prospects. Neither one will really be in our long term plans.

    Garza should be moved if we can cover multiple holes we have. For instance Garza to the Yankees for (Montero, Warren and Noesi) That would cover 2 rotation spots and a long term 1B. Or Garza to the Blue Jays for Syndergaard, Hutchison and Cooper). Syndergaard and Hutchison would immediately become our 2 best SP prospects, and Cooper is ready to play 1B.

    The only destination that makes sense to me for Castro would be Atlanta. They would have to give us a ton for consideration really.

    • Dougy D

      I don’t see the Yaks moving Montero for anything. If they do, I definitely would like to see him playing at Wrigley.

  • Oswego Chris

    the problem witth the rebuild is even after ARB the Cubs will be at least 30 million below last years budget……do you spend money just to spend it?….and you can’t funnel it to the amateur side as much….

    so I still think they will have to sign somebody…

    I am very wishy washy on Fielder…somedays I want him, somedays I don’t…but how much better would Castro be hitting in the number 3 spot with Prince behind him?…..

    Fielder…jackson,,,and trade for a bat behind Prince and I say you could contend…..

    but Fielder sucks on D

    see….wishy-washy

     

    • EQ76

      well they could spend the money on a couple stop gap starting pitchers like Maholm, Saunders, Kuroda, etc. and they may go hard after Cespedes, maybe another positional player or two.. we could see the 30mil spread out that way. again, nothing sexy, but not too many risky moves either.

    • Pat

      If they do have money leftover, I would like to see them actually front-load some deals for a change. For instance, sign Garza to an extention where a big part of the cost is absorbed by this year’s payroll. That way you leave more payroll space available in upcoming seasons.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      I would use that $30M to get rid of Soriano and Z, or set aside to pay the draft tax each year.

      I don’t want them to spend money just to spend money, take the plan they have made and stick to it.  If Fielder demands more than you want to spend, walk away.

  • EQ76

    If Garza, Marshall, Soto & Marmol can net us Rizzo, a second starting position player and at least 3 good starters in our rotation in the few years, I’d be happy. it is hard to imagine that the highlight of this off season was the front office hires only.. I think we all got our hopes up a little bit.

  • boredomINcubdom

    across the bottom line last night came the following on mlb network…key dates: feb. 19th…date for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training. i checked my smartphone and it was dec. 19th. i was never that strong in math growing up but i was able to decipher that there were exactly 2 months before spring training is getting underway.

    Sure hope some things get done, one way or the other in the next 2 months!

    i was holding out hope that we could win on Darvish now i’m just a little depressed about things. Clearly the Reds are going to be good, the Cardinals are STILL the clear cut favorite in the division ( just shows how bad the cubs situation is that Albert can leave, and the cards are still the clear cut favorite) and the Cubs have not done much to improve their team.

    Brett, i’m curious what you think the chances are that Soriano and Z start the season with the Cubs. It would blow my mind if Garza is not a cub and Z is!

    I still have tons of faith in Theo, Jed, and Ricketts (although i’m wondering how much money Ricketts now wants to spend on baseball) .

    let’s be honest: if you look at the Red Sox the majority of their everyday lineup are guys that came through the Boston system AND clearly the Sox never were shy about spending big money when they wanted/needed/had to. So spending money and building a great farm system have nothing to do with each other. I mean maybe they do, but the sox had a great farm system and they spent big money whenever they wanted.

    I don’t really know what i want them to do now! if you sign prince for 6/7 years at least 4/5 of those years you have him you’ll be competitive, at least i’m hopeful of that.

    all in all it looks like 2012 is going to be as bad as 2011, in fact as of now probably worse…because if all that dead weight returns next season then i can’t imagine them getting better just because Theo is the GM and Sveum replaced Qball.

    the new draft rules and CBA seems to have thrown a kink into the plans, but all the complaining about it and how upset the Cubs are over it just reeks of the first scapegoat for when this team doesn’t win anything anytime soon.

    Loved the costas sit down with Fergie, Ryno, and Hawk last night. Ryno is definitely not a talker per say and i could see him a little edgy even in a hall of fame sit down…Fergie is pretty cool and man he still looks like he could go out and throw some innings.

    • EQ76

      “because if all that dead weight returns next season then i can’t imagine them getting better just because Theo is the GM and Sveum replaced Qball.”

      FYI, Theo’s not the GM, Jed Hoyer is.

  • boredomINcubdom

    my fault…Theo as Prez and Hoyer as GM, i’m sure you understood my point though, right?

  • boredomINcubdom

    as currently constructed:

    c soto
    1b lahair
    2b barney
    ss castro
    3b stewart
    lf soriano
    cf byrd
    rf dejesus

    garza
    dempster
    Z
    well
    ????

    cashner
    marshall
    wood (assuming)
    marmol

    Yikes!

  • EtotheR

    I just looking up Theo’s trade/transaction history with the Red Sox.

    It’s very interesting…over 90% of his winter moves come after December 15th. He seems to let the market develop before he moves…

    In fact…the Adrian Gonzalez trade went down on 12/4/10.

    He can’t tip his hand…so, it’s going to be hard to know his motivation. Isn’t it possible that his patience is the exact thing we’re paying him for?

    That said…I remain open to trading anyone, and rebuilding the organization. That’s what he did in Boston. I would have loved Darvish. I’m interested in Fielder. Still…there are lots of ways to right this ship, and much of it will be dictated by the market. Remaining fluid will help us take advantage of breaking situations.

    I remember Hendry saying that the DLee trade developed over a couple of hours.

    • EQ76

      interesting stuff. maybe we’ll be highly active over the next couple of weeks then..

      you know, we’re all very worked up, opinionated, freaked out, whatever on here.. bottom line is we can’t adequately judge anything yet. we may lose 100 games next year, we may be in the playoffs. who knows? I think I’m just getting tired of waiting..

  • Levo

    Since we need starting pitchers, what’s the issue of converting Marshall back into a starter as they’ve done with Dempster when he requested it? Granted we need relievers, but the only reason he was converted to a reliever is due to the fact we had an abundance of starters at that time. No need to have a long reliever if you are hurting for starters.

    • Bric

      I believe he was always a starter in the minors and has been given shots at the rotation in the past (albeit long shots). If the Cubs don’t pick up any more pitching he’ll probably be given the shot again. But I think the consensus is that he belongs in the pen due to the number and types of pitches he throws as well as comfort zone and effectiveness.

      I never understood the James Russell experiment (even before he blew it). It seemed like another Hendry “I can MAKE it work” type attitude. If Marshall isn’t going to be in the Cubs pen then trade him. But don’t F around with something that’s working well or you’ll get less than nothing in return.

  • lenny

    expect huge deals this week

  • Brian

    Why would you get rid of garza and Marshall? They are both young enough to be around for the rebuilding of the the team. I just can’t see trading them away when they are two solid pitchers. Marshall is almost lights out and you are always poking for a great lecture let alone out of the pen. Cubs say they are looking for pitching, but they want to possibly trade two of their best arms. Doesn’t make sense.

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