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It’s an interesting time to obsessively follow Prince Fielder rumors, given the knife’s edge the Cubs are currently walking (by which I mean rebuild, no rebuild (and what exactly the organization might mean by “rebuild”)). Still, by most accounts, the Cubs remain theoretically involved in the Fielder sweepstakes, but are clutching firmly to their position that, if Fielder wants to play on the Cubs, it’s a short-term deal, or no deal. We’ll see what happens…

  • Buster Olney says the Cubs have been doing their diligence on Fielder, but reiterates what I’ve been saying for weeks on the Fielder front: the Cubs want Fielder, but only on their terms. A short-term deal, high annual value. Ten years is out of the question (as it should be).
  • Jon Heyman still lists the Cubs as a suitor for Fielder, though he drops notes on several other teams. Heyman says offers are being floated, and lists a ton of teams in on Fielder, together with the Cubs, including the Mariners, Orioles, Nationals, Blue Jays, Rangers, Marlins, and Brewers. The inclusion of the last three, each of which is probably no longer a viable landing spot for Fielder, suggests to me that Heyman is simply listing every single team that has plausibly been connected to Fielder at any point this offseason.
  • Heyman said separately that the Orioles are quietly pursuing Fielder, and the Mariners have made an offer. Seattle’s front office is said to love Fielder, but to be tight on cash.
  • Bruce Levine believes the Cubs still have “a great shot” at Fielder, especially if he takes a shorter-term deal (I’d hazard a guess that, if Fielder is willing to take a five-year deal, the Cubs are the prohibitive favorite).
  • Phil Rogers says he doesn’t believe the Cubs are actually in on Fielder anymore. The reason? The Cubs don’t want to block 29-year-old “prospect” Bryan LaHair. Sorry, Phil. Can’t go with you on that one. LaHair may wind up the Cubs’ first baseman next year, but only if all other plans fall through, and only if the Cubs have no plans on being even a .500 team in 2012.
  • Cerambam

    The Marshall trade would almost completely rule out a fielder signing right?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not completely (given Marshall’s age, contract situation, and the fact that he’s a semi-replaceable reliever who might net a ML-ready starter), but it’s a signal in that direction.

    • ferrets_bueller

      I disagree.  He’s a reliever, they’re pretty easy to replace (relatively speaking).  And the rumored return would be an SP…which would immediately improve the team, with a chance to be a significant improvement, immediately.  The Marshall trade could easily make us better both in the present and the future.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    This will get its own post, but Kaplan cites ML sources – read: not Cubs sources – who expect the Cubs to rebuild:

    http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/cubs-talk/post/Kaplan-Cubs-to-go-through-a-complete-reb?blockID=616644&feedID=8487

    • Kyle

      Well, at this point it’s the only path left. If you want to try in 2012, you need, what? Fielder, Kuroda and one more starting pitcher, at *least*?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        And another big bat.

      • The Omnipresent Mystery Team

        The DeJesus signing suggests that the Cubs are not “going young” in the sense of playing whomever (LaHair, Flaherty, etc.) and spending no money at all.

        I think we are trying to acquire young talent at the commitments that make sense for a team that will need a lot to break right to contend in 2012. We probably took a shot at a number of the guys who are off the board and did not meet their asking price. This off-season isn’t like the one that gave us Soriano – we don’t NEED anyone and won’t bid like we do.

        But the fact that we’ve signed DeJesus and kicked the tires on back of the rotation lefties means that we’re going to field a major league club. And if Stewart finds himself, if Cashner stays healthy, etc. if things break right, we’ll be in the position to fight for it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Kap is selling this piece on Twitter as “BREAKING NEWS: Cubs Will Rebuild,” which is pretty sensationalized for what the article actually says. It’s a shame, because the substance is interesting enough as it is (three ML sources, including one other team’s exec, say the Cubs need to rebuild starting now, and they generally expect the Cubs to do so). I’m disappointed in Kap.

      • Martin

        Disappointed, but not surprised.

      • cls

        Agreed. Typical media sensationalization to get people to read it, by exaggerating what the article actually states, leading to misunderstandings in the fan base. What is stated in the article may actually happen, but that is not confirmed by anyone inside the Cubs organization. This is simply a conjecture piece, based on some assumptions by individuals not within the Cubs organization.

        Again, it may very well play out that way, but this isn’t “Breaking News” or an announcement from the Cubs that they are going to blow the team up and rebuild.

      • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

        If you take it combined with what Theo supposedly told him in Dallas then I could see where he is connecting the dots.

        If it is true we are out on Fielder then all signs point to a rebuild.  It was getting really old believing contention was there when it required 15 people on the 25 man to have career years.

      • DRock

        Completely agree with you, Brett.

        BTW, I love Reed Johnson, but how is signing him re-building? Also, DeJesus isn’t exactly young.

        Didn’t Theo say when he first came on board that he wanted to be competitive every year but also build a strong farm system so we can have sustained success. He said he didn’t want to pay for past success but on future potential. Signing Fielder who is only 27 in my opinion is signing for future potential. He’s not even in his prime yet and look what he’s done so far! Hope Kaplan is dead wrong that we are out on Fielder.

  • Oswego Chris

    One thing working in our favor…I think of the teams being mentioned..Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles..the Cubs would have to be the most desirable landing spot…it’s just convincing Mr. Boras not to have to have the ten years…

    Seattle will zap ten homers a year off his total…

    Orioles………nuff said

    Blue Jays…Maybe, his dad played in Toronto, but he doesn’t speak to his dad….

    6 is the utmost I would go on him…

     

  • MC2

    I think you’re spot on with the Rogers comment, and Heyman is waxing nostalgic with a pair of “Dusty’s Dugout Dice”. It pains me to see or hear from Heyman as much as Gammons these days. Has Heyman actually been right about anything lately, he always seem  about 10 steps behind… …

     

  • Tim Mo

    I don’t mind the idea of a “rebuild” but if that is the plan, I believe they should let the fans know. I do understand no one likes to use the R word but I think it is fair to let us know because most of us are sitting on the edge of our seats waiting on the next “big” move. I’m patient but there are a ton of people that are not, this will at least give the perception that their is a plan in place.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ve been on board with a rebuild since December of 2010. The CBA changed the thinking ever-so-slightly, but I’m still game, especially with these guys in charge.

    • Jeff

      You can’t use the R word when you still expect to fleece the fans with outrageous ticket prices.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Ticket prices are determined by supply and demand, regardless of the product on the field.*
        I have to major sports pet peeves- people complaining about athletes salaries, and people complaining about ticket prices. Both demonstrate a nearly complete lack of understanding of economics.

        *which contributes a little to demand, but not nearly as much as people think

        • Jeff

          That’s because people are stupid, why pay the premium?

          Pay fair market value.

          I have no problems with large salaries

          • ferrets_bueller

            What people pay dictates the market, regardless of their intelligence. If you’re selling out, the fair market value is either what you charged, or some number above that. There is no intrinsic “fair value.” Fair value is what people are willing to pay.

        • Kyle

          The quality of the team significantly impacts demand.

          • Pat

            Perhaps, but most of the ST holders I know live in fear that if they cancel their tickets they will miss out on The Year.

      • JulioZuleta

        I’ve never really got the ticket price complaint. Yes tickets are pretty damn expensive, which is why I go to one or two games a year tops. I’ve always wanted the Cubs owners to charge whatever price nets them the highest profit.

        • Pat

          I don’t begrudge them the ticket prices either. Not that I’m willing to pay that much more than once or twice a season, but when you have 27,000 plus season ticket holders and another 20 – 25,000 waiting for tickets there’s no reason to charge less than they are.

          Note – I know the season ticket waiting list is over a hundred thousand, but I’m exceedingly doubtful more than 20 percent of those people can actually afford them and would choose to buy them right now.

        • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

          BEST RESPONSE EVER

          You, sir, get a slow clap.

  • Oswego Chris

    as good as his sources are…Kaplan hasn’t always been spot on either….still not sure on the rebuild…can’t see them cutting payroll that much…..

     

     

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      I don’t care if the payroll is $20M next year, as long as that other $100M goes somewhere visible, like stadium improvements, massive spending in the draft, etc…

    • Pat

      However, you could take that extra money and pay down the debt. Some of it, the 450 million, can’t be paid down for a few more years due to the agreement with the Trib, but there’s another 250 – 275 million that they could touch. That way, when you’re ready to go the big FA route again, there’s more money for payroll since less has to go to debt and debt service.

      Or they can put some of it towards renovations, or front loaded extensions for players they are planning to keep.

  • Martin

    Watching sportswriters over the last two and a half months has been almost as interesting as watching the front office. Its fascinating to watch them scramble as what I’m sure have been myriad reliable sources (from Hendry on down) get moved out and replaced with almost a completely new group. It seems like a lot of reporter’s careers are hanging in the balance this offseason, and judging by the desperation in the reports coming from previously connected reporters, there could be a sea change in terms of where us fans turn for reliable news about the on-goings of our favorite team.

  • Dumpman

    Kaplan just put out an article stating were going into “complete rebuild mode”.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Scroll up.

      • Dumpman

        Hah, my bad. On top of it per usual.

    • ferrets_bueller

      While I hope he’s right…Kaplan is, IMO, a complete and utter moron.

      • Dumpman

        All bow at the feet of @Thekapman.

      • Lou

        So, lump him with Rogers, Sullivan, Rosenbloom, Rozner, and at times, Spiegel and you have a clown car. No wonder why I respect the Bears analysts much more in this city.

  • aCubsFan

    Brett…you need to stop this nonsense. Fielder is no where in the Cubs’ plan for the future. He has never fit the criteria of Theo or Jed. The future has always been about rebuilding the club the right way. The fans for decades have been clamoring for the Cubs to tear the organization down to its core and rebuild it from the ground up. That’s what Theo and Jed are going to do.

    It’s time for everyone to get their heads and asses out of of the sand and face the brutal but honest reality of rebuilding from the ground up.

    As Sveum said the other day, all the non-news and comments from the national and local media is Boras at action trying to drive up a market that doesn’t exist for Fielder.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I cover all rumors about the Cubs, regardless of the tedium. Fielder remains a theoretical possibility for the Cubs, according to multiple sources, Until he signs or Theo and Jed definitively say they will not be making an offer (they won’t do that), I have to cover it. And it’s not like Fielder is a 35-year-old shortstop. Whether the Cubs “rebuild” or not (a word that means different things to different organizations), Fielder could fit into that plan. I’m not here to say it’s likely. But I’m going to write about what’s out there.

      • BetterNews

        Here is my take on the Fielder issue. Sure the Cubs are interested as they should be. But the question is would Fielder be interested in coming to the Cubs in light of what is taking place I would say no, and the fact that the Cubs are not considering a long term contract with the man makes it even more of an improbability. LaHair is looking more and more as the heir to first base.

        • Lou

          Disagree about LaHair. For one season, maybe. Jed and Theo are looking at 1b prospects.

          • BetterNews

            I was strictly referring to odds at first base come April as things stand now.

            • Lou

              I guess I just got confused about “heir” reference.

              • BetterNews

                Lou, yes, there is no doubt the Cubs will be/are looking to upgrade at first, but until something happens, Lahair seems to be the man at first. I don’t see a “platooning” thing happening as some have suggested. And one other point I would like to make Lou, what happens if LaHair does turn out to be the real deal? I know the chances are not good given baseball history, but ya never know !

      • JulioZuleta

        Fielder at 6 or 7 years would still fit the mold of rebuilding. He’d still be around for the good years, while putting a few more butts in the seats for the bad ones. If we don’t sign him, and trade Garza and a few of the other guys with higher price tags, what is our payroll going to be? $90 million?

  • Mick

    Does anyone else feel like the Cubs aren’t sincerely interested in Prince? With the moves we’re rumored to be making and have made (Marshall for Wood, Byrd and others? for Harrison, Rizzo, Crisp, DeJesus, Reed Johnson, and Ian Stewart) it feels more like we’re building for 2-3 years out with stop gap veterans and buy-low candidates for the interim. Adding Prince Fielder would kind of fly in the face of our long term plan of sustained success because by the time we’re successful Prince would be in the decline of his career and conctract.

    With that being said, what do you think the Cubs plan on doing with their excess in revenues over the next few years. So far, our payroll is somewhere less than or equal to $90 million (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/chicago-cubs_112114177768677294.html) which is $47 million less than the average of our last 3 years team payrolls. If we’re not going to invest that money in Darvish or Fielder does that mean we’re going to be SERIOUS players in Cespedes and Soler?

    • Lou

      Soler, yes. Cespedes, not sure. No interest in Prince. Orioles are the team, I believe, barring something from way out of LF. Why the Orioles? Because Angelos is a stupid owner willing to give into Boras’s demands.

  • Daniel Guerra

    http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/cubs-talk/post/Kaplan-Cubs-to-go-through-a-complete-reb?blockID=616644&feedID=8487

    Kaplan pretty much nailed it in that article. The Cubs are a mess. I just realized even with an additional big time pitcher and a bat like Fielder, the Cubs are probably only a .500 team in 2012. As of right now, I’m 95% sure I want the Cubs to rebuild. The 5% goes towards hoping they will build a World Series team for 2012 which at this point is…..Wait Till Next Year (I hate that slogan)!

    • Rick Vaughn

      Wow that was depressing.

      • DRock

        Extremely.

    • Lou

      Yes they are. I don’t see a two year turn around unless, as Kap alludes, Cubs get PRECISELY what they’re asking for in key trades. I think it’ll be at least 2015 before this team sees the light of day. And, after further reflection, I’m totally fine with it if they want to model themselves after the Rays or the Royals philosophy with a top ranked farm system, because unlike those teams that could conceivably lock up that homegrown talent down the road. That’s where the big $$ contracts would come into play. Yes, I know, I said teams that spend big $$ do win but as people have responded to me, those teams also have homegrown talent. And as I clearly stated yesterday, it’s a short term window, largely perpetrated by owners and ownership groups. Just along as I don’t see a big money SP on this team next year or Votto in 2014. If you’re gonna go this route you, COMMIT TO IT WHOLEHEARTEDLY. Bottom line: pick a lane and stick to it. Don’t go for a middling approach, as Brett has said, and don’t get unrealistic about the return for Garza or Marshall. I may not know what that means, but I’m sure Theo does.

  • Shawn

    Its time to just blow it up and start over. Trying to build this team into a contender for 2012 was going to be difficult at best. They need a front line starter, a middle of the rotation starter, and two bats in the middle of the order, at the least, to have a shot at contending in the central. Going the free agent route to build the team has not worked and would push the payroll to the limits of the current revenue streams. At the same time the Cubs do not have the prospects to bring in a Gio Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Mat Latos or any other young star.

    The Cubs have one player in the minors who is ready to come up to the big club. They have a few pithcers, who project as middle of the rotation guys, that are within a year or two of being major league ready. The Cubs need an infusion of talent. Deal Garza, Marshall and whoever else and start over. It will be painful, but IMO necessary.

  • gary

    Is cashner going to be a starter next year?

  • baseballet

    Bryan LaHair’s OPS in his 20 game call-up with the Cubs was .885, which is higher than four out of Prince’s seven MLB seasons. And he’s a lot cheaper. Let’s pencil him in and save the 25M we’d have to pay Fielder and spend it on the Cubans.

    LaHair fever. Catch it!

    • Lou

      Let’s say that for one season and they really mean that we’re going to acquire Rizzo from the Pads or Cooper from the Jays to play 1b for the future. Rizzo or Cooper fever. Catch it!

    • BetterNews

      I think that’s exactly what Theo has in mind! The Cubs are going to need a big name to keep drawing the fans and I think Theo is betting that Cespedes is the man. More athletic, more exciting, more “intriguing” and less expensive.

    • JB88

      You have got to be kidding. Comparing a 20 game sample to an All-Star’s career is laughable in and of itself, but to compare a career minor league, 29 year old, to that same 27-YO All Star is beyond ridiculous.

  • SouthernCub

    Regarding the “rebuild” issue, isn’t this PRECISELY why Theo and Jed et al where hired in the first place

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      I think I remember them mentioning something about buidling a foundation for continued success a time or two

  • DRock

    Rebuild on a young future hall of famer, Prince Fielder.

  • baseballet

    More LaHair fever: he leads the Venezuela winter league in home runs and slugging percentage. He’s tearing it up. Bring on the mighty LaHair!

  • Frank

    Can’t help but think “LaHair = Hoffpauer”

    • BetterNews

      I don’t see how you can equate LaHair with Hoffpauir. LaHair finished last year hitting .288 and slg .500 something as compared to Hoffpauir’s last season with Cubs when he hit .170 and slg .235. Also LaHair continues to pound the cover off the ball. I am not saying he is comprable to Fielder, but just saying he is adequate for now. I’ll take a .288 BA over Pena’s .220 BA anyday.

    • Brian

      Lets give Lahair a chance, he might be good enought o at least fill the gap until we get a better prospect in. He did have good numbers in AAA and then he was called up. I feel bad for this guy, he kills it in AAA and when called up but we are ready to throw him to the wolves because his name isn’t Prince Fielder. I hope he starts this year and tears the cover off the ball!! Prince can keep his 10 year contract and go elsewhere, it’s not like Prince would be a defensive upgrade at all. If we wanted defense we would have kept Pena and his low batting average. Lets save some money for international signings since the CBA will be capped now, and we can go out and get the best international players there is to offer.

  • J.B. House

    Lahair was playing first in Venezuela. This week he is playing left field . Probably doesn’t mean anything but maybe it means they think something could be in the works at first.

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