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.