New Year’s Eve Doesn’t Scuttle the Rumor Mill and Other Bullets

New Year’s Eve marks the kinda-sorta anniversary of Bleacher Nation, started in the final week of December in 2008. The readership in those days numbered in the hundreds, the comments in the ones, the Twitter followers in the tens, and the Facebook fans in the zeros (it didn’t exist until much later). Now the readership  regularly clears 30,000 a day, the comments regularly clear 500 a day, the Twitter followers are up over 12,000, and the Facebook page exists. It’s been a long, surprisingly-work-intensive three years, but I wanted to thank you all for being a part of it. Here’s to an enjoyable, successful 2012, both for BN and for the Cubs.

  • The Matt Garza trade rumors continue apace, holiday or no holiday, GM child birth or no GM child birth. The latest bit is a report from Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal noting that the Detroit Tigers have joined the pursuit, which, of course, would be news if they hopped in a time machine and reported it a week ago, but is still relevant: each new report adds legitimacy to the early rumors (reported here, for example). In other words, the more voices you hear saying Team X is pursuing Player Y, particularly as national reporters add their voices to the chorus, the chance that Team X will actually end up with Player Y increases incrementally.
  • The Fox Sports duo add in their report that there’s no momentum in talks with the Blue Jays, the Red Sox want Garza but might not have the pieces to get him, and the Yankees are backing away because of the Cubs’ demands. They also note that, with respect to the Tigers, the Cubs are likely to ask for the team’s two top prospects, pitcher Jacob Turner and third baseman Nick Castellanos. The A’s asked for those two in talks about Gio Gonzalez, and the Tigers refused.
  • San Diego Padres’ first base prospect Anthony Rizzo remains a shadowy character in the background of the Garza trade talks, as it is no secret that the Cubs would like to land Rizzo before the offseason is up, but might need the spoils of a Garza trade to do so. San Diego writer Bill Center recently held a chat in which he predicted the Cubs would indeed land Rizzo … by way of a trade to the Tampa Bay Rays. Given that the Rays, themselves, could use a long-term first baseman, and the total lack of context or discussion given by Center, I’m going to chalk this up to a writer’s from-the-hip speculation, rather than something he’s heard.
  • As expected, the Cubs have officially hired former Red Sox Major League scout Keith Evans (whom the Cubs did not “take” from the Red Sox, because he’d already left the organization), and put him in charge of video and advance scouting.
  • Also official: the Cubs’ hiring of Bill Buckner as hitting coach for the low-A Boise Hawks.
  • Jon Heyman gives the year by year breakdown of Albert Pujols’ contract, which he says is actually ten years and $240 million with $10 million coming tied to post-playing obligations. If true, you could argue that the average annual value of Pujols’ deal is just $24 million, not the $25.4 million that has been widely reported (there are incentives that could take the deal as high as $265 million total, apparently). Prince Fielder’s expected contract just went down slightly.
  • Heyman also notes that CJ Wilson’s deal with the Angels is so backloaded that he’ll get $20.5 million in 2016. That means that, in 2016, the Angels will owe just about $50 million to TWO players (Pujols and Wilson). Either the Angels are going to be hurting in a couple years, or we’re entering a new era of team payrolls based on television contracts, in which teams regularly touch the luxury tax cap (and possibly eclipse it) of $178 million.
  • An anonymous Nationals player says the team is definitely going after Prince Fielder. Shrug. If the Nats do land Fielder, you can expect the Cubs to be a rumored destination for the then-displaced Adam LaRoche (even if, at that point, the Cubs would probably be better off just letting Bryan LaHair have the job).
  • Cot’s Contracts, one of the most useful baseball resources on the ‘Net, has moved to Baseball Prospectus.
  • Some beautiful photos from 2011 at Wrigley Field.

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

168 responses to “New Year’s Eve Doesn’t Scuttle the Rumor Mill and Other Bullets”

  1. Dougy D

    That picture of the Ernie statue with the snow is awesome.

    1. LARRY

      I love that picture too.


    Happy New Year/Anniversary BN.

  3. Oswego Chris

    After doing some research on Jacob Turner (not to be confused with  Joey Turner the Yankees ace in The Bad News Bears)

    I think he is far away from a “top end” pitching prospect….really has never dominated at any level…I know strikeouts aren’t the most important stat, but when looking at prospects I like to see a K an inning….


    1. JasonB

      In Turner’s defense, he has always been extremely young for his level because Detroit has this incessant need to turn every pitcher into Rick Porcello so he has basically played against players 2-4 years older than him at every level.  But I agree that he needs more seasoning and would not want to see him in Chicago next year unless he starts blowing away hitters in AA and AAA (i.e. closer to the 9 K/9 that you’ve suggested).

    2. EtotheR

      Yeah, but Chris…how do we know that Jacob’s father isn’t going to come out to the mound, and slap him for throwing at Fielder (even though he’s really smacking him because of his own pent-up rage and inner feelings of failure)?

  4. kindergartencubs

    Thanks. I love knowing that there is always someone else up somewhere wondering what’s up with the Cubs. Happy New Year, all.

  5. BFM

    I don’t take the Tigers pursuit of Garza seriously.

    They desperately need some starting pitching to compliment Verlander, however, they don’t have much of a minor league surplus to comfortably give up prospects in order to land Garza.

    If they aren’t willing to give up Jacob Turner and Castellanos, not to mention another lower level prospect, the chances of them being serious about Garza are slim.

    1. JR1908

      Hopefully they are getting desperate now that the market is depleted, and are now willing to part with their big dogs.

      1. JasonB

        The Tigers’ pursuit of Garza should be taken very seriously.  They have two elite players in their prime and they just missed a WS appearance last year.  Plus Dombrowski has a history of making high impact deals.

        They can win the AL Central with their current lineup assuming the Royals don’t improve unexpectedly this year (next year, the Royals should be a real threat), but they need more horses to win the WS and Garza could be a key component.

        1. Toosh

          Supposedly they like Garza but they thought the asking price for Gonzalez (Turner and Castellanos) was too high. I’m not sure they’d include both in a trade for Garza.

          1. JasonB

            Nobody said that Turner and Oliver wouldn’t be a good return.  If that isn’t enough, the Tigers have some intriguing high ceiling guys in the lower minors.

            And while I understand that Gio is more valuable because he is under team control for longer, Garza is a far superior pitcher.  Gonzalez’s control is a huge issue with him – he’s settling in at a 4.1 BB/9 and given that aces should have K/BB > 3, he’s never going to fill the bill if he doesn’t start walking fewer hitters.  Missing bats is nice but not if it comes at the cost of missing the plate too much.  I wouldn’t give up anything of value for Gio either.

        2. JustSwain

          In my opinion Garza would be a much better piece for the Tiger to add than Gio Gonzalez or Matt Latos. The Tigers aren’t looking to add pieces to help them get to the postseason, they are looking for players to help them win once they get there. GG and ML have a combined total of 0 innings postseason experience. Not exactly known factors in that regard. Garza has a total of 31 Innings post season play, has put up a 3.48 ERA in October, and a 2-1 record. If the Tigers add a significant starting pitcher (instead of just punting with a move like Maholm) Garza makes the most sense, since he is the only young pitcher on the market that has significant post season experience. Oswalt would be a second option but he has a much higher chance of spending October on the DL. I don’t think that the fact that the Tigers balked at the price of Latos or GG is any indicator that they will do the same with Garza. He fits the Tigers needs much better than either of those two guys.

  6. JR1908

    Interesting info on Pujols contract. Weird how contracts seem to never be what originally reported…

  7. Mike F

    I don’t know how anyone can say Jacob Turner isn’t a top notch prospect. He’s 20, he’s not roiided up, he’s got great size, a great arm, overhand curve, solid mechanics and by the time he grows up he’s going to fill out and throw in the mid 90′s. He’s a quality prospect and the best name yet that is rumored in a package. And bluntly K’s are just one component and not nearly that important with a 20 year old kid that will get bigger and stronger. If you want eternal prospects that are overvalued and held down by their organizations trade with the Yankees and the Jays, I’m sure Kevin Boy will rave, but detroit has some quality and there is nothing wrong with this kid. If you’re looking for Kerry Wood or Greg Maddux type can’t miss, even Castro, not those guys don’t get traded, but this kid is closer to that than people give him credit for. I have no issue keeping Garza and spending some of that 40 M pile saved, and frankly think that is still a very good if not best scenario. But the Detroit system and the pitching is the best yet the Cubs have been offered in rumors and a hell of a lot better than the Toronto retreads.

    1. CubFan Paul

      i like the Toronto (rumored) OF prospects but their top pitching prospects are way young and Theo&Co. said they want close to ML ready prospects/pitching. Detroit also has a young leftie (whose name im forgetting) that I’d take

      But only the Yanks & Tigers have the close to BigLeague Arms that Theo&Co want/need

      1. Lou


  8. Toosh

    Nice pics of Wrigley.

  9. Toosh

    I changed my Gravatar.

    1. TWC

      It’s like we don’t even know who you are anymore!

      1. Toosh

        I get that from a lot of people!

  10. Matt

    Some of the TOR pitching prospects being discussed are upper level. Drabek has big-league experience and McGuire is close. The OF guys are a little further away.

  11. Mike F

    Kyle Drabek is now a 24 year old suspect with a huge rep without accomplishment. At 24 if he had any chance of living up to his prospect there’s no way Toronto would be trading him. Drabek is looking more and more like can’t miss that missed and missed big. Wouldn’t consider him unless he was the 3rd pitcher and nothing more than a throw in gamble.

    1. JasonB

      Agree with  Mike F – if Drabek 1) didn’t have his last name and pedigree and 2) wasn’t the centerpiece of the Roy Halladay trade, he wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar.  He hasn’t done anything to justify a TOR projection since he was in high A ball.

      1. CubFan Paul

        Sooo, that leaves the Tigers & Yanks to trade with? I dont think a deal gets done if at least two pitchers are in the deal and of which one is ML ready/a july call-up ..the Tigers have a couple candidates that fit that criteria and so does New York

        1. JasonB

          Deck McGuire should be close to ready but everything I’ve read says that he may be more of a #3 than a TOR guy.  I’m not overly concerned about the pitchers being MLB ready in 2012 considering that we won’t have a team that will be ML ready in 2012.

          1. CubFan Paul

            you may not be overly concerned but Theo&Co. is, i mean, they said they want ML ready pitching for any big we trade

            the Cubs pitching cupboard is bare and will lose veterans (probably Demp, Z, Samardjiza) at the trade deadline, so i can see why MLB ready/July call-up pitchers are very important for a trade involving Garza.

            1. JasonB

              Fair points – if we can snag someone who may not be ready until 2013 though, then I don’t necessarily think that will preclude them from pulling the trigger.  Even though they’ve said that they’re looking for ML ready pitching, they’ve also said that they’re going to make decisions based on the long-term best interests of the team.

              Our opinions of ML ready could differ as well.  For instance, Jacob Turner is ready to pitch in the majors – he just isn’t ready to pitch well in the majors.

  12. Ryan

    The interesting thing will be to see if the Cubs would flip any of these players they were to get in another deal if they would then the players they take maybe a touch lower in the moinors that if they are planning on keeping them all

  13. Cheryl

    What about Byrd? Any chance of getting a midlevel pitching prospect and a lower minor leaguer with a good ceiing for him?

    1. Ryan

      You maybe able to get a midlevel bullpen arm and a lower prospect with an OK ceiling depending on if your eating any of Byrd’s salary

  14. BD

    My favorite picture is the marquee that reads “Cubs Welcome Theo Epstien”.

    1. Toosh

      Might want to double check the spelling.

  15. Coach Harris

    According to JacobTurner’s average velocity was only 91.6.

    I know..I know…you are not supposed put much stock into velocity.  In fact, it seems like people are always saying things like “I don’t care how hard he throws” or I believe I once heard Bob Brenly say “I’m not a radar kind of guy”.  Its funny that Brenly would say such a thing considering he won a world series, largely in part because of two guys…Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.  Two guys that threw really freakin hard.

    I swear people say things like “I’m not a radar kind of guy” because they think that is something that they SHOULD say.  As if it makes them sound smarter or something.

    The same thing applies to watching TV.  How many times have you heard somebody say that they don’t watch TV very often?  “I just don’t really watch TV that often”…Hmmmn…really?  It is as if they think that is what they are supposed to say…like it makes them sound smarter.

    Forget that.  I love TV!  To quote Bart Simpson “It gives so much and asks so little of you”

    Furthermore, I may not sound like a smart old baseball guy here but…

    I would prefer my pitching prospects to throw hard.




    1. Kyle

      Velocity matters a lot.

      But Fangraphs uses Pitch F/X data, which I believe measures velocity as the ball crosses the plate. Most of the time when scouts are talking about velocity, they mean when it leaves the pitcher’s hand, which is a couple of MPH faster.

      91.6 on Fangraphs isn’t an elite fastball, but it’s definitely above-average.

      1. KCubsfan

        Velocity doesn’t matter. Movement matters. When did Greg Maddox throw in the high to middle 90s? Never

        1. Kyle

          Greg Maddux threw in the low 90s. It’s not like he was a soft-tosser.

          More importantly, he’s the exception and not the rule. The list of historically great pitchers is mostly populated by power pitchers.

  16. JR1908

    Just a thought but does anyone know if the Cubs have discussed a buyout with Soriano? I don’t see any other team paying more than 2 mill a yr. of his joke of a deal. Clearly he isn’t a fit at this pt. Ultimately a buyout may save Cubs more $. And he could then go and choose his team to restart his career. It’s a long shot but you would think he may want a change of scenery too. His underproduction has to be waying on him in Chicago at this point..

    1. Kyle

      Soriano has a guaranteed contract. He has no reason to accept a buyout, so it wouldn’t save us any money.

      There really isn’t such a thing as a buyout in MLB. I’m not even sure if the CBA allows for it.

      1. JR1908

        I know the contract is guaranteed. My pt. is that he may be willing to only have the Cubs pay 75-80% of it (or something like that). And allows him to play for a different team with the chance to make up the difference else where. Where fans dont have expectations of a 18 mill a yr. player. I know it’s wishful thinking, but that guy has to be miserable in Chi-town. Everyone thinks he is a complete joke, and one of the most overpaid players in sports history.

        1. JR1908

          Yeah, I am not sure about CBA for mlb with buyouts. I may be watching to much about the NBA…

  17. Ryan

    I wonder after this Padres deal with CWS if it will change what the Padres want for Rizzo?

  18. Derek

    So are we cashing in the chips for this year? I dont see how we are going to draw fans when we start a minor league team in a major league uniform. Im sorry im a die hard cubs fan and want to see them great for years to come but how can you say someone is the type of person you would build your franchise around only to dangle him out there to the highest bidder. Understandably Theo and Jed are looking long term which is great but are any of us ready for 100 loses this year. I know im not and im not saying one man changes that but he gives us hope that the season isnt totally lost.

    1. JR1908

      I hear u Derek. I have been saying same thing for awhile. Long term is important, but to have a 45 win team in 2012 is going to be painful in more than one way. I see Theo as having too big an ego to allow for a historicly bad team on his watch.. But I’m not sure what he can do to help team in 2012 at this pt. Other than sign big boy Fielder…

    2. IrishGold

      I understand what you are feeling Derek, but the Cubs were horribly mismanaged the last few years and as a result have a bad major league team with few valuable assets, a minor league system without a lot of major league prospects ready to help, Trading players (or working with them to produce draft picks) with value to make the team better will pay dividends this year and in future years is what has not been done in past year that has put the team where it is at.

  19. Cliffy

    QT @MLBInsideNews: Was told again this morning: #Cubs and #Tigers are very close to a Garza deal.

  20. pfk

    Brett, thank you for a wonderful bog. Its always a fun part of my day even if I don’t comment. I love reading the regulars and seeing their personalities. Its also been a treat to see BN evolve. I love the humor, the images and the analysis is the best in the business – period. Very well thought out and thought through. I’m dying for the Enhanced Box Scores to return!!

  21. Miller

    Considering all the pitching prospects we’ve heard rumored for Garza, I like Turner the most. Drabek has big control issues, McGuire is more of a #3, Banuelos is only 5 foot 10 inches tall…Turner is a big, prototypical right hander. However, I like the secondary pieces that Toronto can offer a lot more than Detroit. The Tiger lefties seem overrated to me, so the deal would have to include Castellos. If not, I’d stick with Toronto and try to make a deal for two close to or in the big leagues pitchers (Drabek, Alverez, McGuire, Hutchinson), one high upside OFer (Marinsick or Goose), and a couple lower level high upside types…

  22. FromFenwayPark

    Derek has something here. Is Garza a number of Wins Above Replacement that can merely be calculated away (redistributed into 2013 and beyond)? Would it matter, Derek, if those wins were recovered sooner, in 2012, rather than down the road? Why or why not?
    I think it is important that a fan standing this close to the hot stove knows how he feels (and thinks) about the point Derek raises… and not just from a ticket sales/revenue POV.
    If it is any comfort, Theo will appear to be shopping someone (or bidding on someone) just to test (or to drive a market). The players seem to get this and they try not to let it trouble them…until it does.
    The Cubs are not just an interesting bit of creative destruction in 2012. For what it is worth, I see the Cubs being built to contend. Now.

  23. Dukie11

    I agree, it seems the only team that we can get some pitching from is Toronto. I am still not down on Drabek. He would be the 2nd best pitcher in any deal we get from them and he still has high potential. None of the other teams listed are offering a 2nd guy with as much upside as Drabek. Hoping Pads signed Quentin to swing in some sort of a deal to eventually land us Rizzo. Wood, Rizzo, some young Blue Jays pitchers, Cashner, McNutt, Samardjiza, all of a sudden we have some promising youth.

  24. Ryan

    I wonder if Wells or Dempster will get traded before the season starts.

  25. JJ

    Brett – first just wanted to say that like many others on here, I love the site even though I have never commented before, just read everyone else’s posts.

    For what it’s worth, I have been an Indianapolis Colts fan since they drafted Marshall Faulk. As soon as I heard Peyton Manning was not going to play most of this season, I rooted against them all season. Some will argue that I am a fair-weather fan but I believe I am as die hard as they come. I just put up with way too many .500 -ish type seasons that don’t get you anywhere. As a true fan, I would rather suffer through a horrible season with the ability to re-load with young elite talent and give us the best chance at competing consistently for championships than to just be average year after year after year. Hoping for a loss this week so we can draft a difference maker in Andrew Luck and have him for the next decade.

    I say all that to say I support Theo and an all out rebuilding mode to replenish the farm system so we can have young exciting talent that can compete for many years to come. Trade Garza – his value will never be higher than it is right now. You can get a lot for him. Cubs aren’t going to win this year and if Garza gets injured or starts out poorly, you lose a ton of value.

    1. CubFan Paul

      agreed, good stuff. as an indianapolis native/born colts fan, the expections of the April draft has kept me sane. this horrible season will only help

  26. hansman1982

    booo to cots moving…I liked their old website and how it was ridiculously simple to navigate but I understand that the $$ rules all

  27. CubFanBob

    Who currently is the DH for the Tigers ? Just wondering if there would be a spot for Soriano over there.

    1. JasonB

      Victor Martinez for the most part.  Cabrera is blocking him at 1B, Avila is at C so that’s about the only option for him.

  28. JR1908

    The Marlins have ”serious interest” in acquiring Matt Garza, a league source tells’s Ken Rosenthal.
    Per the report, the Marlins are looking to add another pitcher to complement Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle. Rosenthal speculates that Class A outfielder Christian Yelich could be on the Cubs’ radar, in addition to Matt Dominguez, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan and Jose Ceda. Garza, 28, is projected to make $10 million in salary this season, with one more year of arbitration left before he’s eligible for free agency.

    1. JasonB

      LoMo would be a must – aside from Yelich, their system basically sucks.

      1. JR1908

        Agreed. Cubs need to throw some of their garbage contracts in that deal too.

  29. Ryan

    wasn’t ceda already in the cubs system at one point?

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