Lukewarm Stove: Byrd, Garza, Fielder, Soto, Rizzo, Cespedes, Barney, LaHair

Though the offseason may be advancing into its later stages, there is still plenty to discuss on the Chicago Cubs’ front. ESPN’s Bruce Levine held a chat this afternoon to discuss the latest rumors, and the direction of the franchise. Among the highlights:

  • Though he hasn’t come too frequently in trade rumors, Marlon Byrd is still likely to be traded at some point, says Bruce. It probably won’t happen until after the Cubs sign Coco Crisp or trade “for a young CF from the Blue Jays” (I believe Bruce is speaking generically here, using the Blue Jays to illustrate a point – but more on that in a couple bullets). Interesting to note: Bruce’s response assumes either that Alfonso Soriano will not be dealt or that Brett Jackson will definitely break camp with the big club, because David DeJesus is the only other set starting outfielder, outside of Byrd and Soriano. That is to say, dealing Byrd wouldn’t be contingent on another move if Jackson was going to start with the big club, and signing Coco Crisp wouldn’t signal a Byrd trade if the Cubs were going to trade Soriano.
  • Bruce believes the Cubs are still regularly discussing Prince Fielder with Scott Boras, and even cites a source who tells him that some of those discussions have been “intense.” But, ultimately, Bruce guesses Fielder ends up with the Dodgers. If that were to happen, you have to wonder if the Cubs would go trolling to pick up the James Loney scraps.
  • In talks with the Blue Jays, the Cubs are targeting a number of young players in a possible trade for Matt Garza: pitchers Kyle Drabek and Deck McGwire, and outfielders Jake Marisnick and Anthony Gose. Brett Lawrie will never enter the discussions. Sorry.
  • Bruce, as I do, sees Geovany Soto as trade bait. He’s coming off a down year, but even Soto’s down offensive year still puts him in the upper half of offensive catchers (and he’s at least average defensively). Given his relatively low contract cost, age (28), and his ability to produce offensively (at least in alternating years, apparently), Soto has a fair bit of value. Because he’s under contract for two more years, the Cubs can afford to see what they have in Welington Castillo at AAA before making a move on Soto, perhaps mid-year.
  • Carlos Marmol is someone the Cubs would consider trading, which, like, duh.
  • Bruce is uncertain of the Cubs’ ability to land Anthony Rizzo in a trade from the Padres, whom Levine says are looking for pitching. I’m not sure I agree on that- the Padres, I’m told, would prefer to acquire middle infielders, above all else. Even if the Padres were insistent on pitching, I strongly suspect that, in all of their Matt Garza trade talks with teams other than the Padres, the Cubs are at least checking in with the Padres with respect to the prospects being discussed.
  • The Cubs will be in on both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, as I said this morning. Bruce sees Cespedes getting $45 to $55 million, presumably over six years (though Bruce doesn’t say).
  • Darwin Barney is likely to remain the Cubs’ starting second baseman this year, because no better option has surfaced. I’ve made no secret of my opinion on Barney – great, inexpensive utility option, but not a starter on a team with playoff aspirations – but since the playoffs in 2012 seem like a distant dream, I’m fine with Barney keeping the job in the very near term. I’ll even be pulling hard for a shocking break-out season.
  • Bryan LaHair has a chance to be the Cubs’ starting first baseman in 2012 … if the Cubs whiff on all their other options.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

200 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Byrd, Garza, Fielder, Soto, Rizzo, Cespedes, Barney, LaHair”

  1. jacob

    Dodgers… really Bruce?

    1. MichiganGoat

      MLB radio was saying a similar thing, mainly it’s about McCourt driving up the cost of the team for a resale (sound familiar).

  2. Leroy Kleimola

    This is going to be a long year…..

    1. ferrets_bueller

      This is going to be an awesome year of watching new players get a chance and seeing the Cubs actually building the correct, smart way.

      1. MichiganGoat

        BOYCOTT! We must win NOW!

        1. ferrets_bueller

          NOW! In December! Why aren’t the Cubs playing? WHY HAS EPSTEIN DELAYED THE START OF THE SEASON TO JANUARY!!!

          1. MichiganGoat

            YEAH, Join the Ferret & Goat. We will not watch baseball in January until Theo & Ricky start the season now. We deserve January baseball, don’t support this sideshow anymore. DEMAND THE SEASON TO START NOW, and join us in our boycott until Theo does exactly what we want. Viva la Revolucion

            1. Kansas Cubs Fan

              LETS TAR AND FEATHER THEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            2. EQ76

              Since the other sports had lockouts, we could have a lock-in and force them to play in the off season!

              1. SirCub

                I like it.

          2. JasonB

            That’s it – I’m cheering for another team.  Fire Epstein! Fire Hoyer!  Bring back Hendry – he’ll sign Fielder to 12/300 with a full no trade clause because that’s what this team needs!  We should also sign Edwin Jackson because he’s the best pitcher available and we have to have better pitching!  And then we need to hire Sandberg as manager, Greg Maddux as pitching coach and Mark Grace as hitting coach!

            Why isn’t this happening?!?!  Theo is so stupid!

            1. Kansas Cubs Fan

              Finally someone with a level head.

            2. MichiganGoat

              GOOOOD I can feel the hate in you growing.

              1. JasonB

                The sky is falling!!

              2. coal

                We’re too righthanded!

            3. Jim

              Not only should Hendry come back and sign Jackson but he should do it from a hospital bed – that’s real GM’ing.

            4. Papa G

              I think you mean Greg Maddox and Ryan Sandberg.

              1. Joepoe321

                TOny CAMPANA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            5. ncsujuri

              LOUD NOISES!!!!

  3. MichiganGoat

    Because we won’t win? I’m excited to see the new philosophy and direction the Cubs are going, it’s going to be an exciting year if you can see three to five years down the line.

  4. 2much2say

    The fact that they signed Jarmillo would indicate Soto is not going anywhere. If it were Varitek I would agree that Soto was a chip. Now Castillo is a chip.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      ….how so?  I’d say Jarmillo is just as/possibly more qualified to carry a larger load at this point than ‘Tek would be, making it more likely that this indicates an intention to move Soto.  In fact, I doubt Varitek is even capable of playing more than 60 games at this point.  And even then, there is no indication that Jaramillo is anything more than AAA fodder to begin with.

  5. RoughRiider

    I would prefer that the Cubs be a contending club with a plethora of talented players and on track to contend in 2012. Since it’s pretty much a given that the Cubs are rebuilding, I’m satisfied sitting back and seeing what develops. I have no problem with Barney at second nor LaHair playing first. What I don’t want to see is a bunch of marginal players come in and take playing time from a developing young player like Jackson or Castillo. At this point we might as well see what they can do. The same goes for Vitters if he starts out well at Iowa.

    But please Theo, don’t take too long. Some of us don’t have that much time left on this earth.

    1. bluekoolaidaholic

      Whenever I see the word “plethora”, I always think of Howard Cosell. I think he is the only person I have ever heard use it. I think I remember him berating someone (like Ali or Don Meredith) that he thought didn’t know what it meant.
      As long they don’t tie us up financially Soriano like with The Greedy Prince or Cespedes, I’m ok with the trials and tribulations of rebuilding.
      It would even be ok with me to bring Pena back instead of way overpaying Boras and the fat tub of goo for 1B

      1. MichiganGoat

        I always think of the Three Amigos:
        Jefe: We have many beautiful piñatas for your birthday celebration, each one filled with little surprises!
        El Guapo: How many piñatas?
        Jefe: Many piñatas, many!
        El Guapo: Jefe, would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?
        Jefe: A what?
        El Guapo: A plethora.
        Jefe: Oh yes, El Guapo. You have a plethora.
        El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora?
        Jefe: Why, El Guapo?
        El Guapo: Well, you just told me that I had a plethora, and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora. I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.
        Jefe: El Guapo, I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education, but could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?

        1. hardtop

          me too.
          …i think it was a male plane…

          1. EQ76

            “together we… BURNED THE VILLAGE” and… “RAPED THE HORSES” and.. “RODE OFF ON THE WOMEN…”

            1. hardtop

              …and pruned the hedges of many small villages….

              1. RoughRiider

                A plethora of linguistic litany !!!

    2. aCubsFan

      There’s no way the Cubs are going to contend in 2012, nor should they. They need to tear the club down to the core and rebuild from the ground up. When that happens there is no contending for at least 2-3 years.

      “Wanting to contend” has been the problem of the Cubs for decades. Always trying to buy their way to a championship, but the results have never matched up with reality. “Wanting to contend” is how they got into the Soriano, Bradley, Zambrano, etc. messes.

  6. 2much2say

    At 28 Soto isn’t even in his prime yet. Most catchers take longer to develop than position players.

    1. JasonB

      Aside from his power, Soto is regressing.  His contact rate is now troublesome and he’s basically become a three outcome offensive player – time for him to go if we can get a good return for him.

    2. ferrets_bueller

      Thats a myth.  In fact….most catchers have very short productive careers.  Especially if they’re fat.  Especially in the case of catchers who begin young, who begin to decline as their peers at other positions are just beginning to hit their offensive peaks.  Soto won’t have nearly as much value left in two years IMO, making him a blatantly obvious sell candidate.

      1. 2much2say

        How old is Varitek Posada Napoli Ivan Rodriguez Ausmus B.Molina Loduca?

      2. Kevin

        correct

        McCan, Mauer, Suzuki, a few examples of some catchers who found a way to compete well before 28.Mauer btw is now 28 and has seen his WAR decrease every year since 2008. McCan’s WAR dropped 40% last year and he is now 27. Catchers have a shorter shelf life. Peek years for many catchers are 24-28. Sure many play quite well after that age and into their early 30′s but few are able produce the same way.

        1. ferrets_bueller

          Exactly.  Its more a function of when they start playing, not the age that they are.  If they start carrying the load earlier…they’re going to decline earlier.  Completely independent of age.

      3. MoneyBoy

        I hate bringing facts to the table … but, Baseball Reference lists 116 catchers in 2011.

        27 between 21-25, 57 between 26-30, 27 between 31-35, 5 over 36

        21-25 – average of 45 games, 4 – 120 games +

        26-30 – average of 50 games, 7 – 120 games +

        31-35 – average of 48 games, 3 – 120 games +

        Our beloved G. Soto turns 29 this January and will be 31 in 2014 when he’s a FA

        1. hansman1982

          take a look at the productivity of those groups, I bet you will find that it trends downward from 27-28 on.  Catching is just too damn hard on the legs.  Piazza gave an interview for ESPN a while back that said by June 1 he couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs.

          1. MoneyBoy

            I admit I was a bit surprised at the numbers … but they do make some sense.  The young ones are still learning their craft and pitching staff; 26-30 seems to be peak years in terms of # of games caught.  I think the Twins are smart letting Mauer DH and play 1B on occasion — and he turns 29 in April !!!

            1. ferrets_bueller

              What those numbers still do not take into account, however, is when they started catching, as well as the most important part, their offensive production.  They really don’t have much of a bearing on the argument at all.

              1. MoneyBoy
  7. aCubsFan

    Has Bruce Levine ever had any creditable news that he broke? I wouldn’t believe anything he says.

  8. die hard

    one thing for sure….with all disabled players being picked up by Theo, Cubs will have best chance of landing a comeback of year candidate…

    1. Kansas Cubs Fan

      Ha, diehard actually made some sense.

      1. MichiganGoat

        die hard is cool, he is welcomed as compared to the others

    2. R.I.P. Santo

      Its the new to way to rebuild. Take chances on injured ,or once good players,and try to catch lightning in a bottle. Trade the player(s) for prospects at the deadline

  9. 2much2say

    Is it me or isn’t there too much talk of OF prospects coming back to the Cubs. I really think a young 1st baseman and 3rd baseman are top priorities. We need a power hitting 2nd baseman like Uggla or Johnson (not them, but like them). With Soler Cespedes Jackson Szczur out there we are loaded for Bear in the OF. We need the Hot corners.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      …what?  The only OF we have in the upper levels is Jackson, who is nowhere near a sure bet.  Szczur is still incredibly raw, and nowhere near the majors. He’s still a shot in the dark at this point.  This team has huge holes everywhere except SS, including the OF.  You need impact players, and a guy like Marisnick from TOR could be exactly that guy.  We don’t have anything resembling a logjam at any level, including OF.  Not to mention, the OFs that have been mentioned are much safer bets than any other prospects that have been mentioned.

      1. 2much2say

        Let’s see if we signed Cespedes and Soler and still have Dejesus and Jackson. Not to mention Byrd, Soriano and Reed. I’d say with Soler and Szczur in the wings we were loaded for bear. Thats not taking into account the unknowns yet to be developed in the minors i.e. Junior Lake

        1. ferrets_bueller

          …as was discussed days ago, Byrd, Johnson, Soriano, and DeJesus are standing on no one’s way.  At all.  At all.  You’re talking about two 4th OF types (Byrd, DeJesus), a 5th OF type (Reed) and a piece of crap.  Why are you counting on the Cubs signing both Cespedes and Soler?

          Jackson is our top prospect, but not an elite prospect.

          Soler is only a teenager.  Szczur is raw.  Neither is even close to the majors.  In your 2012-2013 future, you have one OF graduating to the Majors- Jackson.  Thats it.  A good system has players graduating all the time.  There is a considerable gap between Jackson and the lower level guys.

          You have a much lower level of talent at every position than good systems, including OF.  Especially in the levels that are going to produce in the near future.

          1. 2much2say

            You’re making an argument removing 2 guys the Cubs may very well get.
            Dejesus is lefty and has value. I expect Soriano and Byrd to be gone. Reed is a good 4th OFer. So, Cespedes Jackson Dejesus would be a good start

            1. ferrets_bueller

              …not really, especially as you’re playing for the future.  DeJesus is a valuable player, yes- but he’s not a must-start guy.  He’s a supplemental type piece on a good team, ideally a platoon/4th OF type guy.  Not a stud, not a guy who wouldn’t be supplanted in an ideal situation.

              Jackson is questionable, and Cespedes is even more so.  Marisnick or the other OFs mentioned are a much safer bet, with higher ceilings.  Even if you sign Cespedes and Soler, you still only have two OFs in the majors before 2014- Jackson and Cespedes.

              1. Wrigley11

                I don’t think you can say Marisnick is a much safer bet than Jackson. I agree with your statement regarding Marisnick having a higher ceiling, but in my mind Jackson’s floor is about as safe as you can get. Also don’t think that Marisnick’s ceiling is higher than Cespedes. Don’t mean to nitpick, just think that while Jackson may not ever be a star, I haven’t read or seen anything that makes me believe he won’t at least be a capable regular in the majors, which can’t necessarily be said for a 20 year old who hasn’t played above low A ball.

                That’s not to say Marisnick isn’t going to be a star, either. Just tough to call a low level prospect a “safe,” with a few exceptions.

                1. Pat

                  Not sure about how safe Jackson’s floor is. You’re talking about a guy who struck out in 27% of his plate appearances last year (and 32% of official AB). If that gets worse at the ML level, there’s reason to question if he can stick as anything more than a fourth or fifth outfielder, if that.

                  1. Wrigley11

                    Jackson obviously has issues, and the one you mentioned is his biggest flaw. But, as I said in my post, I haven’t heard or read anyone say they expect him to flame out due to strikeouts. Will it limit his ability to hit for average? Absolutely. But he still has a great approach and it’s not like he doesn’t know how to take a walk. In all likelihood he ends up as an average starter. I’m more concerned about him slowing down and moving to one of the corners, where his value is decreased.

    2. JasonB

      Sure, but you also have to look at who you’re trading with.  Aside from Lawrie, who as Brett mentioned we aren’t getting and D’Arnaud (Catcher), the Blue Jays top prospects are pitching (too many to name) and OF (Marisnick and Gose) so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to acquire their corner IFs who aren’t really very good.  Acquire the most talent and figure out what to do with them later.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        Exactly.  Not really all that hard to understand, either.

      2. Toosh

        The Cubs should be careful if they trade with Toronto. The Blue Jays usually get the best of the trades they make.

        1. ferrets_bueller

          Well…yes, and no.  His overall rating is obviously quite high, specifically because he managed to pull of a complete and utter miracle in the Wells trade- either that, or those in charge of the Angels went temporarily insane.

          The problem there is that he then dealt Napoli for frank fransisco- a loss.

          He pulled a win in dealing Brett Wallace for Gose.

          I’d say the Hallday deal is pretty even.  Most of his other moves are still up in the air.

          We’ve yet to see him buy yet- which is what he would be doing in this case.  he’s sold (halladay) and made parallel level moves (wells, wallace, etc..)

           

        2. JasonB

          Didn’t do so well in the Drabek/Halladay deal since Drabek looks like a bust.  Any time you deal with a smart GM, you have to be careful.  Fortunately, we have a smart GM as well.

          1. ferrets_bueller

            D’Arnaud may very well make up for it, though.  I love the guy.

            1. JasonB

              Good point – forgot that he was in that deal.

        3. JR

          Toronto unloaded Wells and his trainwreck of a contract and only payed 5 mill. I still have no idea what LAA was doing. They had a ton of young outfield talent plus Hunter and Abreu. So yes Toosh, they can pull some scams..

  10. DowntownLBrown

    Might as well hold onto Soriano unless we get a decent deal. Who knows, maybe he will put a couple of hot months together this year and get decent attention at the AS break. Probably what the Front Office is (wishful) thinking.

    1. JR

      Agreed, as soon as he strings together a couple bombs move his a$$.

  11. Eddie

    I don’t think the Cubs will get Fielder. I think they are more than willing to spend their money on Cespedes and Soler, and rebuild around them and Castro. Once the big contracts of Zambrano and Soriano are up, im sure they will make a splash in free agency.

    1. Bren

      wouldnt they be afraid of a ‘Castro’?

      1. Rick Vaughn

        Haha, I liked that.

  12. 2much2say

    Unless the Cubs get a Michael Young/David Wright to play 3rd, Vitters and Dominguez are the best young options. 1) Trumbo 2) Alonso 3) Rizzo 4) Moreland best 1st base options

  13. 2much2say

    Anything other than pitchers coming back from Toronto will be used to trade for a 1st baseman. The Cubs are not looking to trade for an outfielder. Unless they loose out on the Cubans.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      The Cubs are looking for, and have a huge need for, every single position aside from SS.

      1. 2much2say

        They have to prioritize each position. We have no 1st base options. We have a limited 3rd base option We are set at SS 2nd base is a ? The OF is plentiful.

  14. Mick

    What I got from the Levine chat:

    1. He didn’t know much because he showed up 10 minutes late to a 30 minute chat
    2. He sees a potential match between the Cubs and Jays for a Garza trade.

    Everything else was obvious rebuilding fodder. The Jays do seem like the obvious trade partner and I liked the names he was throwing out there like Kyle Drabek, Deck McGwire, Jake Marisnick and Anthony Gose. Gose sounds like the real gem and acquiring him would definately make Brett Jackson expendable or Rizzo acquirable.

    In my opinion, I would opt to keep Gose because from what I’ve gathered, Brett Jackson is good at everything but isn’t elite at anything and best projects as a 4th outfielder. I think we need to strike on Rizzo if Brett Jackson is the price tag. Here’s a link from a third party scouting report of Brett Jackson…http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20024221&topic_id=8878538&c_id=chc

    1. ferrets_bueller

      Gose averages around a strikeout per game, and has never batter over .262.  I would be very, very disappointed if the Cubs acquired him as a key part, as opposed to a player like Marisnick. The same goes for Drabek, vs.  Toronto’s other SPs.  Toronto has a large amount of players i’d love to have for garza- but Gose and Drabeck are definitely not two of them.  Especially Gose.  Yes, he has a massive ceiling, but he yet to show anything remotely close to it.  If you’re giving up a player like Garza…you need to get something a bit less like a shot in the dark, unless the arms coming back are definite sure bets.

      1. JasonB

        Agree Ferrets – Gose has a high ceiling but his floor is REALLY low so I’d to get a little more certainty back for him such as Marisnick.  Drabek has been a train wreck outside of A ball and that typically doesn’t end well.

        For pitchers, I’d like to see us get Syndergaard, Nicolino or Daniel Norris ahead of McGuire because they have more intriguing upside although McGuire should be a solid #3

        1. Mick

          In 137 games in New Hampshire, Gose posted a .253 batting average with 20 doubles, seven triples, 16 homeruns, 59 RBIs and 70 stolen bases. Who needs that, right? I don’t want to pass the buck to their AA coaches but the their team only averaged .259. You pair him with any 2 of those pitchers JasonB listed and I’d pull the trigger. Here’s a write up on Gose, take the blinders off, this kid’s going to be a star…http://bleacherreport.com/articles/993879-blue-jays-top-prospect-anthony-gose-on-his-way-up

          1. JasonB

            Or he could be Felix Pie – flip a coin.  Too many Ks for my taste.  And he wasn’t just a hacker at AA – he also struck out a lot in A+ ball.

            No thanks

            1. Mick

              No, not like Felix Pie, bad comparison. Pie only stole 122 bases in his 9 YEAR minor league career and only another 20 more when he played in 5 MLB seasons, http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/piefe01.shtml.

              A better more recent comparison because of his speed and defensive abilities would be Carlos Gomez but even he never approached Gose’s 70 SB one season total or 194 total in his 4 minor league seasons. I’d expect a lot more from Gose on a MLB level though because of their difference in attitude and work ethic.

              1. JasonB

                I know Pie was a bad example because he didn’t steal as many bases but I couldn’t think of anyone else at the time.

                We’re just going to have to agree to disagree here – you like Gose, I don’t.

          2. ferrets_bueller

            LMAO @ citing BleacherReport.  Thats like using Yahoo! for news. Carlos Gomez was actually a much better hitter in the minors than Gose has been.  As was Chris B. Young. As was BJ Upton. As were probably quite a few players i can’t think of at the moment who were extremely toolsy players who had no idea how to hit.

            I don’t know how anyone in their right mind can say a player with the complete lack of plate discipline or quality approach to hitting will be a star.  Could he?  Absolutely.  Is it even anywhere close to even odds that he ends up one?  No.  The guy is striking out at an absurd rate, in A, A+, and AA.  Unless he makes major, major changes, he projects as a guy who going to hit around .220-.240 in the majors, if that.  Hardly much of a chance to utilize his speed.  Same goes for Billy hamilton of the Reds- he of 100 SBs last season.

            Is he a guy you’d like in your system?  Yes- raw talent is always welcome (szczur, golden…).  But if you’re giving up an established pitcher like Garza…you better be getting better bets than that.

    2. Joepoe321

      brett jackson does not project as a 4th out fielder! right brett?

    3. Joepoe321

      Brett Jackson is not projected as a 4th of………….right brett?

  15. ty

    When the Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez I worked for Tom Hicks as needed for the ball team and his hockey team in a counselor fashion. When the deal was ready I voiced my trepidation and Tom ushered me into an accounting office . This young accountant advised me that the 25 mill contract would only cost us about ten mill due to added revenue such as free publicity, ticket sales, souvenirs, concessions, parking, and double spring training revenue in Port Charlottel . Of course we were in the tank during that time. Question to any good Bleacher Nation accountant–Would a Fielder sign be as significant and actually offer us figures.

    1. JR

      Good question Ty. I am sure that was part of how the Angels signed Pujols. He will be approaching historic records in the coming yrs. The problem with the Cubs is they sell out better than most teams when they struggle. So the Cubs economics might not be helped as much by Fielder. But i would love to see some hard figures.

    2. MoneyBoy

      Ty … You worked there … there are many who believe that Hendry (Soriano) made the same mistake Hicks ARod) made … essentially bid against themselves and allowed the agent to pull wool over their eyes with outrageous contracts.  Hicks wound up broke; ARod wound up a Yankee; Hendry – fired.  Course, if not for the interference of McDonough, we’d be done with Soriano.

      As to Pujols – the Angels got a new TV deal that took them from $50mm to $150mm annually.  No joke – Moreno paid more for Wilson & Pujols than he did when he bought the team.

      @JR … Cubs attendance is a toughie as MLB counts “sold” not actual attendance … but they’ve trended downward since 2008 … and that doesn’t take into account the secondary market, which was both oversold and underbid.

  16. Kansas Cubs Fan

    I’m dying to know whats going to happen with Garza.

    If hes going to be traded, signed to an extension, or just left alone. I want a time machine.

    1. JR

      Yeah me too. All u have to do is ask Betternews. He has some insight on Garza being traded.

      1. Kansas Cubs Fan

        HA BetterNews and his “sources”.  That dude cracks me up.

        1. BetterNews

          By all accounts, Garza is NOT going anywhere. See ya in April Matt!

          1. EtotheR

            By all accounts…by all accounts.

            You’re absolutely right, Better News. By all accounts…Garza isn’t going anywhere.

            With the exception of all the accounts that say he is going somewhere.

            How are things at ol’ Comiskey these days?

            1. BetterNews

              I have not seen or heard a “credible ” source that has said Garza is on the block. All I have heard are “rumors” about teams(many) being interested in Garza! I’m sure Matt is “flattered” and would say, see ya all in spring BN fans.

              1. Kansas Cubs Fan

                “Who” is a (credible) “source””?”

                1. Rick Vaughn

                  That “guy” cracks “me” up”!”

              2. EtotheR

                I appreciate the effort to sell your position, but I’m thinking that you just want to be able to say “I told you so”, if a deal doesn’t come down. It’s a risky proposition…but, if Garza isn’t traded, you can continue to pretend to be the insider. If he does…I don’t expect we’ll hear much from you.

                As for credible sources…when asked specifically (about Garza), THEO said “We are in a mode where we have to listen on everybody.” ESPN.com is currently running a sub-headline that says “Cubs’ Epstein Considering Trading Garza”.

                Is Theo Frackin’ Epstein a credible enough source, or are you holding out for his neighbor’s butcher’s aunt’s cousin’s dental hygienist’s mother-in-law’s electrologist?

                I don’t guess that we can keep you from playing your games, but you have to know that you’ve been revealed and discarded…right?

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Your attempting to use sound logic with an illogical childish mind, and that will only lead to insanity.

                2. Kansas Cubs Fan

                  Haha, nice comment all the way around man.

                3. BetterNews

                  ESPN “knows” Theo is considering trading Garza? This is “news” to me.

                  1. EtotheR

                    ESPN, which is one of the industry’s preeminent news organizations…asked Theo Epstein, who is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs…if he would trade Matt Garza. He answered with the quote I posted earlier.

                    If this is not good enough for you, young man…then you have got to start doubling-down on the masturbation. It will cut down on your irritability, fix the swelling in your ankles, clear up your complexion, and help you to find happiness with another like-minded Cardinals fan.

                    You gots to pulls your head out o’ your ass, BNews…you just gots to. It’s killing your potential…which is already limited, so you gotta work it.

                    Get on that, Happy…

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      Yup, but again I raise your logic with illogical ranting.

                    2. BetterNews

                      See, the problem is Theo misspoke to the media when he said anyone can be traded. He’s stuck in a corner now. We all know Casto will not be traded, and by the same reasoning, Garza will not be traded.

                    3. JR

                      Why Can’t Castro get traded? IMO every player in baseball should have a price. U telling me you wouldnt think about trading Castro for Stanton and other Marlin top prospects. Obviously chances are no team would offer enough, but you got to listen to everything. Especially in the Cubs situation.

                    4. MoneyBoy

                      yo EtotheR … gotta give major ups to the fabtastic reply!!!

                      Ditto to MichGoat !!!!

                      Like Moral Majority – Better News is neither ….

                  2. KCubsfan

                    I bet And I am willing to bet my yrs salary that my scources are better then your BetterNews.

                    1. BetterNews

                      What’s your source? ESPN? I will not waste my time.

    2. hansman1982

      seriously, you have a time machine and you find out what happens to Garza?  Put me down for a one-way trip to Koyie Hill’s HoF inductment speech.

      1. Kansas Cubs Fan

        Ah man ya’ll are ruff on Koyie. I know his BA is lower than his weight but take it easy on my hometown guy.

        And I’ll be sure to send the delorean your way. Haha

        1. hansman1982

          I think the legend of Koyie Hill is only outshadowed by the legend of Dick Tidrow or Ted “I club baby seals with Chuck Norris’ fists” Lilly.

          1. Kansas Cubs Fan

            I can’t wait for Rock Shoulders to get to the big club.

            That name alone deserves a Hall of Fame vote. And will give Dick Tidrow a run for his money.

  17. MichiganGoat

    Peter Gammons just reported this on Twitter:

    “@pgammo: Several gm’s think Boras could do a 3 year Prince deal @ $26M per year, go back on the market @30 and beat Pujols’ AAV”

    So would the Cubs be willing to offer. 5yr for 26M a year for Prince, or is this just Boras being Boras

  18. JMike

    This year is going to be a good season for CUBS fans….as long as you dont look at the W-L record. Its going to be a great opportunity for a lot of youngsters to get Major League at bats, and playing experience. Which will be valuable later on down the line in the sense that these players will be able to produce for the CUBS in a couple of years, or will be more valuable as trade candidates after this year. I just hope that anyone of the youngsters who are brought up to play this year doesnt struggle to heavily destroying them mentally for awhile!!!

  19. Shawn

    Brett – I love the site but counting on Levine for information is a lost cause. The guy is ponderously bad at his job. He continuously misses on his “guesses” and is routinely scooped on stories by other writers, and seems to be at least days behind everyone else with his information. How he still has a job I will never understand

    1. MoneyBoy

      Ditto Rogers, Gordo, and WAYYYY too many others.

  20. kubphan82

    Perhaps this is where the 5 year deal happens, 3rd year player option, 4th year mutual or team… After his 3rd year he can opt out, and the Cubs would by then have in place someone ready or close to ready (Vogelbach) and would be able to cash in on a different FA with the fleeting Fielder money… Just trying to think about how the deal may end up working.

    Regardless, it’s refreshing to hear rumors come out of the 10 year range, it makes those assumed closed door conversations seem a little more real. Fielder talk could be heating up.

    1. hansman1982

      If you are the Cubs you do not want to give Fielder an opt-out after 3 years.  That would be right at the beginning of our window and Boras would be able to see that coming a mile away.  If there is a weak 1st base class that year Fielder is either a 7 year deal at 30 or gone, right when we would need his bat.  5 years would be ideal as that is the more likely time as to when Vogelbach would be nearing readiness.

  21. MichiganGoat

    Now Bruce Levine is reporting that the Peter Gammon tweet about Prince accepting a 3yr deal is in accurate
    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/7529/boras-it-takes-more-than-3-to-get-fielder?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Best quote comes from Boras:
    “Not only is that inaccurate and delusional, but it seems that some people have gotten into their New Year’s Eve stash just a little bit early this year,”

    Look at that wheel spin

  22. Brian Peters

    Wow!!! I have a new-found appreciation for Scott Boras! LOL!!! They should cut Gammons hands off and rip out his alcohol-soaked vocal chords. What an IDIOT!!!!

  23. Bret

    I like Barney. I thought he had a decent first year. Why does everyone beat him up so bad?

    1. MichiganGoat

      Look at his splits for the season he progressively became ineffective and was never a standout prospect.

      1. Ashley

        I always liked Barney and have always been a fan of the little guy who just hustled and did everything the right way. That was the kind of player Barney is but I feel that the Cubs might be better off with someone else at 2nd. Barney would be great off the bench but I do not think he is the 2nd baseman of the future.

        1. MichiganGoat

          So your saying Barney is scrappy?

          1. Ashley

            Just loved how hard he played and the effort he gave! When you watch guys half ass it as some Cubs do, its nice at times to see someone bust it down the line or drive for balls on defense. Just my opinion thought!

            1. BetterNews

              The problem at 2nd base is whom ever is the “chosen one”, he will always be compared to the HOF Sandberg. Big shoes to fill! I am not implying the “great one” has big feet.

      2. MoneyBoy

        Mich … I always thought Q played him a bit too much … but what choice?  DeWitt?   You’re quite right … he noticeably declined as the year went on.

      3. Kyle

        I don’t know why people obsess over splits.

        Every player looks bad if you split out his good months, and vice-versa.

        Barney is an acceptable stopgap starter so long as he is cheap, though he could certainly be replaced with an upgrade as well.

        He plays excellent defense and his offense, while not good, is closer to the average 2b than most people realize now that the offensive era is waning.

        1. BetterNews

          I’ll go along with that. Sound reasoning for sure.

        2. hansman1982

          The OPS+ stat would greatly disagree with you – 83.  That means he is 17% BELOW the average second baseman.

          Also, splits are important.  They are a quick look at if the players home park plays a significant factor in their overall stats, if they don’t do well in the cold months or if they wear out quickly, if they can’t hit LHP, if they don’t hit well during the day, etc…  It is all a piece of the puzzle.

          1. BetterNews

            Hans—Barney 17% below the average 2nd baseman? You need a new calculator or formula!

            1. MichiganGoat

              Check out baseballreference.com

              1. BetterNews

                Don’t need to. I’ve seen him play and that stat doesn’t hold water.

                1. Rick Vaughn

                  I’ve also seen him play and I agree that stat doesn’t hold water. He was way worse than 17% below average.

                   

                  1. BetterNews

                    Rick—Give me some stats as to your comment. Seems to me you just don’t like Barney. I always had hope when he was at the plate with RISP, which is more then I can say about anyone on the team but Castro, and believe it or not, Zambrano.

                    1. Rick Vaughn

                      I love Barney, but having him play every day just makes me hate baseball.

          2. Kyle

            That’s not what OPS+ means. OPS+ is league and park adjusted, but it is not position-adjusted.

            That means he’s 17% below the the league average hitter, which includes lots of lumbering, slugging corners players.

            Home/road and platoon splits are useful. Arbitrary time splits are not. If all the games count in the standings, then use all the games. Don’t pull out a month or two to help frame a point. That’s biasing the data.

            1. hansman1982

              “Home/road and platoon splits are useful. Arbitrary time splits are not. If all the games count in the standings, then use all the games.”

              You can’t throw out one set of biased numbers if you are going to accept another set of biased numbers.  Looking at half splits, barney put up a .290/.319/.351 first half split against a .260/.306/.356 second half split. (Barney’s 71st game out of 143 came early in July)  .670 OPS vs .662 and his OPS peaked on May 18.

              1. BetterNews

                Bah!

              2. Kansas Cubs Fan

                Next year is Barneys chance to prove he can adjust to Major League pitching after they have adjusted to him.

                If he can figure out how to do it during a season he should be able to keep a job until someone can bump him out of the way. Until then I think its his job to lose.

                1. BetterNews

                  Kansas–I agree. Don’t know why I’m saying that, I must have had too much cool-aid. Anyway, I don’t think it was a matter of pitching adjusting to him, as it was more of a matter him adjusting to pitching. He did a good job.

              3. Kyle

                Platoon splits and park splits are valid, non-arbitrary distinctions.

                Time-based splits are almost always picked arbitrarily in order to emphasize a point, when they could just as easily show a much different point.

                I could chop off Barney’s September and he’d look pretty good offensively and then I’d say “Outside of one meaningless month, he was a solid hitter.” Or I could chop off his first month and say “Outside of that one month, he was a terrible hitter.”

                That sort of parsing adds nothing.

                1. hansman1982

                  It is perfectly valid to throw out a segment of data if it is the outlier and it appears that his first 40 games were an outlier, same could be said if he hit .210/.225/.250 for another 40 game stretch.  Now, we wont know definitavely for another season or two.

                  I agree that we cannot simply remove half of a season and say a hitter stinks, but in this case we are really talking about 40 games.  Look at Colvin, similar trajectory, if you look his falloff date was around June 15, 2010.  This happens all the time to prospects, they come up and are hot for a couple months and then fall off.  Basically, it is managers not knowing a hitters weaknesses to attack, learning those weaknesses and then attacking them.  The batter has to be able to adjust properly.  Barney appears to have done that (he had an .800+ OPS as of mid-May) and we see what he probably will be: a below-average hitter who won’t cost you games in the field.

                  1. Kansas Cubs Fan
    2. Spriggs

      I cringed every time I saw Barney’s name in the lineup. When the wind was blowing out and his name was in the lineup, I cringed twice.

  24. Kyle

    Just doing the quick math, the average NL 2b hit .258 .319 .380 for a .699 OPS.

    Barney hit .276 .313 .353 for an (amusingly) .666 OPS.

    Indexing his OPS+ to position instead of league average, he’d get an OPS+(p) of 95, just five percent below league 2b average. Throw in his above-average glove, and he’s quite a useful player on the cheap.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Agreed he is a useful player and good utility infielder, but my concern is if you take away his Mar,Apr,May numbers (the time it took for teams to get a book on him) his numbers are not as impressive. 2B is his lose lose (unless we acquire something more established) and the FO has not expressed a concern for second base so I assume it’s his job. He deserves the opportunity but I don’t want to see people cry if he’s not the regular 2B, as Cub fans love to do with the “scrappy” players.

      1. Rick Vaughn

        Nailed it.

        1. BetterNews

          The Goat hasn’t “nailed” anything in years.

        2. ferrets_bueller

          Your assertion that he nailed it nailed it.

          1. Kansas Cubs Fan

            X2.

      2. Spriggs

        I was glad when Barney beat out Ojeda for the utility infield job out of ST last year. Was shocked to find he was named full time starter after the awful spring DeWitt had. Was even more shocked (distressed) to see him batting 2nd nearly every day. And to his credit he went on to play well early and deserved the playing time he got.

        But the more he played the more he proved what most of us probably knew – he blows offensively. When Barney does play, he should never bat 2nd. And when the wind is blowing out, he should flat out never play. Those days with him and Hill in the lineup with the wind howling out literally made me sick.

    2. hansman1982

      not sure why I put in second baseman, I know better.

      Anyway, baseball-reference has the league average 2b at a .733 OPS park adjusted.  This puts him at a 91 OPS+.  Really, anyway you slice it he is below average at the plate.

      In the field, he is decidedly average, he ranks 8th, of 17 qualified second basemen, in MLB in UZR and UZR/150.

      There really isn’t anything special about Barney.  For the 2012 Cubs he is ok.  He certaintly will never be confused with Pedroia (best defensive 2b in the game) but he does have some value.

      For what it’s worth, wOBA has him as the 4th worst offensive 2b in the game.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        He’s a very nice utility player.  Thats it.  On a rebuilding team, who cares.

      2. BetterNews

        That’s all good.(Maybe) But I Have seen Barney “flip” double plays that not too many could make. Just saying.

      3. Kyle

        Haven’t we done this one before?

        By using only qualified batters in the rankings, you are pulling out all the 2b who were so bad they couldn’t keep their jobs. It’s a survivor’s bias.

        1. hansman1982

          Isn’t that what you want to compare Barney to? Successful second basemen?  Why do we want to compare him to second basemen that couldn’t hold a job against my dead Meemaw.

          You can’t just keep throwing stuff out that doesn’t fit a certain profile.  Plain and simple, Barney is worse than 16 other second basemen, the fact that he beat out 45 second basemen but 42 of those weren’t full time starters (which can lead to small sample size issues) just proves the point even further.  He is only good enough to be an upgrade over 3 full-time starting second basemen.

          I am not saying Barney is an atrocious player, just below average in about any metric you can find.  Do I enjoy watching him play, absolutely.  A starter on teams that need a lot of magic to contend, fine.  A starter on a perennial powerhouse, no.

          1. Kyle

            “Isn’t that what you want to compare Barney to? Successful second basemen? Why do we want to compare him to second basemen that couldn’t hold a job against my dead Meemaw.”

            He should be compared against the opportunity cost of using him in that role. That’s why we compare against replacement level.

            “You can’t just keep throwing stuff out that doesn’t fit a certain profile.”

            I agree. So don’t throw out the second-base production of teams who did not reach a qualified number of at-bats.

            ” Plain and simple, Barney is worse than 16 other second basemen, the fact that he beat out 45 second basemen but 42 of those weren’t full time starters (which can lead to small sample size issues) just proves the point even further. He is only good enough to be an upgrade over 3 full-time starting second basemen.”

            Exactly. 16 teams got clearly better offensive production out of 2b than the Cubs got from Barney. That makes him roughly average, maybe a bit below, offensively.

            “I am not saying Barney is an atrocious player, just below average in about any metric you can find. Do I enjoy watching him play, absolutely. A starter on teams that need a lot of magic to contend, fine. A starter on a perennial powerhouse, no.”

            These kinds of distinctions are meaningless. Give me A-Rod, Jeter and Pujols, and Barney is a starter in the greatest infield of all time. Give me Ian Stewart, Ronny Cedeno and Bryan LaHair, and Barney is starter on the worst infield in the league.

            He is a 2-WAR player. If you give him your starting 2b job for the entire season, your total production (combined offensively and defensively) from 2b will be very close to the league average, which is about 2 WAR per position.

  25. ty

    Just read that Bryan LaHair in winter league has 14 home runs and 28 rbi. Now here is an amazing stat–he has not hit into a double play in 45 games. winter ball may be a push but it*s not a pushover. Could we be so lucky or is this all smoke?

    1. Cheryl

      I hope it is real. Everybody seems to think he’s going to flameout. But give the guy a chance.

  26. KCubsfan

    Better News,

    This is why your statement is idicotic. First, to say someone who only has 2 years of team cobtrol is not going anywhere, it would be stupid for Theo and Jed to not at least dangle him out there and see who bites. And I know for a fact that Jed and Theo are not stupid. Second I also Know that Garza has a ton of interest, because battle tested ALE playoff experieced pitchers don’t grow on trees. So teams Like the Blue Jays who are on the cusp of playing with the big boys will over pay. Theo will Pull the Trigger.

    Last you have no idea who I am or what I do. From my experience the people that run their mouth the most normally are talking out the wrong hole.

    1. BetterNews

      Yikes! Don’t know how to answer that one. Who are you? The band?

      1. KCubsfan

        LoL

  27. Mike F

    don’t you mean who not you,

    1. KCubsfan

      Yes thanks that what I get trying to do 3 things at once.

  28. Mike F

    I’m getting old, gave me a good laugh. I was just having that talk with a woman, they seem to multi task better than we do, we are too focused, so much so we often read our own intent into it. And then along comes my, wife, my daughter or someone of the female persuasion to lower the boom. I’m like Mark Twain, someone is always trying to reform me.

    It should be fun, we are all taking it too seriously I think they have a plan of some sort and it likely isn’t widely disseminated. Wouldn’t be stunned to see them sign Fielder and still trade Garza for prospects only to sign Crisp and Wakefield and then package Wells, Byrd, and two or three of the Cubs higher prospects like Jackson and Vitters for another cusp pitcher like the Texas rumored big LHP . Change the names or refill as like. Finally Cashner and Marmol could go, and either prospective catchers or Soto are likely on the block. So it should be a lot of fun and fiery debate, probably just advisable to not takes things personally. Wish Soriano though would take his performance as personally as we do the things we say to one another.

  29. Cedlandrum

    “Darwin Barney is likely to remain the Cubs’ starting second baseman this year, because no better option has surfaced. I’ve made no secret of my opinion on Barney – great, inexpensive utility option, but not a starter on a team with playoff aspirations – but since the playoffs in 2012 seem like a distant dream, I’m fine with Barney keeping the job in the very near term. I’ll even be pulling hard for a shocking break-out season.”

    You mocked me when I made this claim. The only difference between what I said and you is that management will view other needs as more important. Welcome to hell. Darwin Barney starting second baseman of the Chicago Cubs

  30. Oswego Chris

    The thing that many of us don’t like, and maybe that’s too strong, why many of us don’t see Barney as a starter is there is very limited upside…..if you look at his minor league numbers they are almost identical to last years season…..you know what you are getting .280ish….under 5 HRs…..around 50 RBIs…9 or 10 steals and a high .600, low .700 OPS…at 26 I just don’t see much more of a ceiling…..what you see is what you get

    1. BetterNews

      Yes that’s what you get offensively. Factor in his defense and Barney is not that bad in my opinion, certainly capable of getting better.