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Of course that headline is an exaggeration. Bullets…

  • The rotation decision remains so difficult (except, perhaps, the Jeff Samardzija part of it – more on that in a bit) that the Cubs have had to add a “B” game today, in which Randy Wells will get the start against the Indians. Travis Wood will start in today’s regular Cactus League game. Each start could be the last one the guys get before Dale Sveum makes his decision.
  • Tony Campana was relieved to finally get a Spring hit, though it could be a little too late, with Joe Mather running away with the 5th outfielder/last bench job. “I really needed a game like this,” Campana said. “I kind of came out and maybe pressed a little bit too much. Everybody had been patting me on the back and telling me, ‘It’s all right,’ But every day you don’t get a hit you’re like, ‘Man, it’s got to come soon.’”
  • Ian Stewart, who’s been dealing with a sore quad, is expected to return to game action on Tuesday.
  • Rafael Dolis is “likely” to make the bullpen, Dale Sveum has said. Dolis, 24, has been in the Cubs’ system since 2006, but was only just converted to a full-time reliever last year. His Minor League numbers don’t really blow you away, but scouts and Cubs’ management have always said that, when you see him in person, he’s a very impressive pitcher. Let’s hope so.
  • The Cubs’ young outfielders are enjoying their Spring around the old guys. Everyone seems to agree that Brett Jackson is just about ready to produce in the bigs, but could stand to work on his two-strike approach, and work on cutting down his swing-and-misses in advance of those two-strike counts.
  • A day after it was reported that Mike Maddux said he would have brought his brother Greg on board as the pitching coach if he’d got the Cubs’ managerial job, Maddux reversed course and said that isn’t true. Greg also denied the story. Weird. It doesn’t really matter now.
  • Low expectations for the Cubs could provide a bit of cover for Dale Sveum, if the Cubs are indeed terrible this year.
  • Fluff on infielder Adrian Cardenas, who is unlikely to win a roster spot at this point, thanks in large part to Sveum’s apparent preference for Blake DeWitt.
  • Kerry Wood wouldn’t say who his favorite teammate of all-time is, but two guys he mentioned at the top of the list are Moises Alou and Mark Grace.
  • MLBullets over at BCB, considering, among other things, Andy Pettitte’s return to baseball.
  • SirCub

    Brett, don’t you think that headline is a bit of an exaggeration?

    • NL_Cubs

      It’s just an ongoing attempt at humor…I think.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You got me.

      • Ron

        I though it was an attempt to go mainstream with sensationalism.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nah. That would be “The Chicago Cubs Have Too Many Pitchers, Boobs, Explosions, and Kittens.”

          • Sircub

            No such thing, no such thing, no such thing, no such thing.

            • FromFenwayPahk

              I agree in the first case. In the third and fourth I have too little data to go on. But in the second case (as it is with martinis) three is too many.

              • DocWimsey

                I think that you want to change “three” to “odd numbers”….. 8-)

                I live for the day when Brett posts a headline asking: “Are the Cubs now taking too many walks?”

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  “Are the Chicago Cubs Leading the NL Central By *Too Many* Games?”

  • http://www.cardinalsbern.ch Jan Forty-Two

    So that’s what Epstein was talking about in February – http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/02/epstein-says-cubs-could-surprise-with-pitching-depth/
    The depth is there, definitely. We’ll see if the big league quality is there, too.

    • Kyle

      I’m pretty high on the rotation. I really think it’s going to be above-average this year.

      Which makes it even more annoying that the front office, while brilliant, needlessly chose to give up on 2012.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        What moves have/haven’t been made that indicate they’ve given up on 2012?

        • Kyle

          Our starting corners are Brian LaHair and Ian Stewart, and our best hitter is probably Geovany Soto.

          You don’t trot out an offense this bad if you are trying to win that season.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            So the Cubs should have done……?
            Re-signed Ramirez?
            Signed Prince?
            Pujols?

            • Kyle

              All of the above, and a few others too.

              This is a pointless exercise. We don’t know what was out there to be had. We do know that when Epstein and Hoyer put their mind to something, it gets done.

              We didn’t know that Travis Wood and Christ Volstad would be available before the offseason, but when Epstein and Co. put their minds to getting young rotation depth with upside, it got done.

              If they’d put their mind to putting together a competitive offense in 2012, they could have done it. They chose not to.

              I understand that choice, but I don’t agree with it.

              • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                You are right, if we wanted to re-sign an aging Ramirez to an overpaid contract around 3/$36M, we could have gotten that done

                If we wanted to sign Prince to 10/$240M, we could have gotten that done

                If we wanted to sign Pujols for 10/$265M, we could have gotten that done

                If we wanted CJ Wilson for 4/$80M, we could have gotten that done

                If we wanted Yu Darvish for 6/$115M, we could have gotten that done

                If you wanted a team that would have had a 3 year window of contention followed by some terrible contracts on the books, Ricketts should have kept Hendry on. Instead we have a front office that built a team where a management clearing season is 89 wins.

                • ferrets_bueller

                  Actually, the CJ Wilson part is untrue. It would have taken at least 90, probably much closer to 100m to get him to sign anywhere besides LA. Even then, he’d probably still be an Angel.

                  • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                    Ya, as I was typing that I figured as much, and probably another year or two but I figured that number would be a nice middle ground.

                    Interesting factoid: Epstein’s teams won an average of 93 games a season, but only won the AL East once.

                    • Ron

                      So you are saying that he is not a winner. I mean a true GM should win his division at least twice in 10 years.

                • Kyle

                  If this front office is half as good at drafting as they are supposed to be, then the Hendry comparisons are pointless.

                  The Cubs are not bad because of big contracts. Everybody has big contracts. We want to be the Red Sox, right? Do they avoid big contracts because they are scared of them being bad later on?

                  Epstein and Co. would have been perfectly capable of building for the future *and* trying to win in 2012. All we needed was a few of the offensive versions of Wood, Volstad or Maholm. Instead, we got the offense versions of Rodrigo Lopez and Doug Davis.

                  • DocWimsey

                    Right, but my point is: what GMs from other teams got those offensive equivalents? Moreover, although *you* disagree vehemently with the assessment, don’t a lot of people consider Stewart to be a Volstad/Wood analog?

                    As for better deals, well, ultimately it doesn’t matter how bad one is shaking: if the dealer is not on the corner tonight, then you go without!

                    • Kyle

                      Those people are wrong. Both Wood and Volstad have been much more productive in the major leagues than Stewart, and lack the major negative indicators that Stewart brings.

                      Do I really have to go over the entire MLB 2012 offseason and find every example where a team acquired a better offensive player than LaHair, Stewart or DeJesus?

                    • DocWimsey

                      No, but I am restricting my thinking to positions where the Cubs clearly need(ed) upgrades. Maybe you can get Alonso from the Reds (although probably not), but you can only play him at first. I cannot think of a particularly good hitting 3Bman, 2Bman or RFer who was dealt this off-season. The couple of relevant free-agent signings were not too relevant here: they were older guys like Beltran who wanted to go to (obvious) contenders.

              • Stinky Pete

                “Christ Volstad”
                That’s placing a LOT of expectations on a guy…

              • OlderStyle

                I would agree with you Kyle. I have expressed my disappointment in the long road taken by organization on this board previously. I have become resigned that the FO have fewer resources than imagined because of debts, remodelings, Dominican facilities, new salaries and McD’s purchases. Perhaps it was a choice of pitching or offense and they chose the former.

              • DocWimsey

                “If they’d put their mind to putting together a competitive offense in 2012, they could have done it. They chose not to.”

                I guess that I just do not buy this as a premise. OK, never minding the “lets break the bank” sarcasm above. The Cubs needed offensive upgrades at a few positions, 3rd and 2nd being foremost. Now, if there had been a good 3bman or middle infielder traded for a price (in prospects) that the Cubs could meet, then we could say that the Cubs didn’t try to get those players. However, there really were not any such trades: despite “buzz,” Headley never went anywhere, and Scutaro’s trade was a beast of a different sort.

                Now, given that lots of other teams need help at either 3rd or 2nd, we really have to assume that other GMs were trying to fill the same gaps. However, none of them succeeded. This does not mean that Hoyer & Epstein tried: but it does mean that trying was of no avail for anybody this winter.

                • Kyle

                  They declared LaHair and Stewart the starters very early in the offseason. That’s a pretty clear indication they weren’t trying to do better.

            • ferrets_bueller

              Sign Pujols for 3B. Prince for 1B. Get Cuddyer, put him at 2B. Trade for Vernon Wells. Sign CJ Wilson. Trade for Gio Gonzales. Trade for AJ Burnett. Sign both Papelbon and Madson. Sign Sizemore, surgically attach Campana’s legs to him. Resurrect Ted Williams.
              The front office just didn’t try hard enough.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                This is making for some very humorous fodder, but I think you guys are being a bit too hard on Kyle. I understand the overall point he’s making. The offense looks to be terrible, and there was no effort to improve it for this year. Maybe that will prove to be the right decision. Maybe it will prove to be frustrating, if the pitching turns out to be competitive this year.

        • Dave

          “What moves have/haven’t been made that indicate they’ve given up on 2012?”

          Forget about wht moves you only have to look at the roster to see thats the case.
          If this is a roster that Theo and Co thinks can compete for a division title (which I don’t think is the case) then Ricketts hired the wrong guy.

    • NL_Cubs

      That’s a good article and puts the first order of business the front office had in mind into perspective. I don’t think the Cubs have given up on 2012. I do believe they are building a foundation which starts with pitching depth. The other components of the project will be delivered in the coming months and a few short years.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        Agree, some people fail to see that the 2011 team was not a Prince Fielder and CJ Wilson away from contention, so what this front office did was use the short term assets that we had to convert them into players with years and years of team control. Are these guys superstars? No, then again look at what we have traded away, a starting pitcher who is on the downside of his career, a setup guy and a middle reliever that might be a closer some day.

        I am not a fan of the prospects that we lost in the Rule 5 draft but I guess I will chose to have faith in the guy whose worst season so far is 86 wins.

        • Kyle

          I see that perfectly clearly.

          What *you* fail to see is that the 2011 team was a good hitter, a good pitcher *and rotation depth* away from being competitive.

          They could have tried for a competitive offense in 2012 and still traded Sean Marshall for a trio of interesting, long-term assets. They could have tried for a competitive offense in 2012 and still traded Cashman for Rizzo. They could have tried for a competitive offense and still been very active in the foreign FAs. Really, the only thing a competitive offense would have kept us from doing is maybe overpaying for Concepcion.

          I have unlimited faith in Epstein and the rest of the front office. When they put their mind to a goal, they execute it with brilliance that stuns me sometimes.

          But I still believe that the decision to give up on 2012 was made more for personal reasons than baseball ones. Epstein wanted to be able to start over in a fresh organization with low-to-no expectations, and the idea of a complete overhaul appealed to him.

          • Brian

            What *you* fail to see is that the 2011 team was a good hitter, a good pitcher *and rotation depth* away from being competitive.

            Dude. The Cubs defense across the board stunk. They were many parts short of being a winning team last year. This, along with an inept manager did the Cubs in last year and a complete retooling is what was necc.! I think they are working within the personnel budget at this time and that will open up some in the coming years to add some more key pieces to the roster, while also fulfilling the other needs of the team. Which seem to be many.

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            They were a 71 win team last year. Let’s say between rotational depth and better management they would have won 79 games. Do you honestly believe that adding Prince, retaining Ramirez and adding Burhle or Wilson would account for the 12-16 games that would be necessary to contend in the central? That would mean that the extra 60 hits and 10 homers that Prince would provide over Pena would result in at least 5 wins.

            Additionally, that would have meant spending roughly $400M this offseason, losing 5 draft picks, a promising young first baseman, and $100M in payroll for 5 years when Fielder will be, at best, a league average first baseman. Guess what, we tried that approach, it didn’t work. Flip first baseman for left fielder and you have the 2006-2007 offseason on steroids. Lets try something else.

            • CubFan Paul

              Everyone is ignoring kyle’s original point: lahair & stewart shouldn’t be 2012 starters

              • Brian

                I think people are asking who would be better (2012), without breaking the bank? The Cubs were not interested in the big names at the prices paid, nor should they have been.

                • CubFan Paul

                  As kyle pointed out, they didn’t break the bank for maholm, volstad, wood or dejesus, but Theo&Co upgraded those position with people who weren’t technically available

                  • Brian

                    Wasn’t Maholm and DeJesus FA’s?

                    • CubFan Paul

                      yes they were free agents ..whats your point? maholm dejesus, volstad & wood are upgrades over doug davis, rodrigo lopez, casey coleman/james russell, fukudome

                      Brian Lahair & Ian Stewart barely project to be average replacements (that’s kyle’s point – If Theo&CO wanted to win the Central in 2012 they would have tried harder or done more to replace Ramirez and Pena)

              • bt

                Perhaps, but Kyle needs to do better than “I don’t know who they should have got, but I know they could have done better”. Both Stewart and LaHair have upside, and cost us almost nothing to find out if they can show it. If LaHair fails, we bring up Rizzo. If Stewart fails, we are out Colvin, and no worse off than before. Getting Wood cost us real talent. We could have gone out and tried to find some young projectable offense, but it would have cost us real talent. I’m not sure who else was left after Marshall that had market value and that was going to likely be gone after this year, so making a blanket statement like we could have improved the offense the same way we improved the pitching staff doesn’t seem very likely.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “I’m not sure who else was left after Marshall that had market value and that was going to likely be gone after this year….”

                  then, you can’t finish that sentence with “so making a blanket statement like we could have improved the offense the same way we improved the pitching staff doesn’t seem very likely”

                  • bt

                    What??? Of course I can. We had nothing left (comparable to Marshall) to trade in order to “fix” the offense. So Kyle’s assertion that we should have done the same thing to fix 1st and 3rd doesn’t hold any weight. There were no magical fixes on the free agent market unless you wanted overpriced veterans, and we had nothing left of value to trade unless you wanted to deal valuable minor leaguers, which would be counter productive. “Try hard to fix it” isn’t a plan, it’s a slogan. There has to be a demonstrable way of accomplishing your goal. The Cubs did not have the proper assets to fix everything that needed fixing in order to compete in 2012.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      trade chips we started the offseason with and Still have: Garza, Wells, Baker, and one of Soto/Castillo

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I’m going to trap you! Could Wells net the Cubs a meaningful offensive upgrade somewhere?

                    • bt

                      That’s silly. The only one of those that gets us anything is Garza and maybe Soto, and how exactly does trading Garza make us better for 2012? What kings ransom are we getting for Jeff Baker? What offensive key are we getting for Randy Wells? We could get human beings for them, maybe even get decent prospects, but are you honestly claiming we could get productive corner infielders for Jeff Baker or Randy Wells? That’s nonsense.

                • Kyle

                  “Perhaps, but Kyle needs to do better than “I don’t know who they should have got, but I know they could have done better”. ”

                  I really don’t. I’m not interested in going back through the entire offseason and finding every single 1b, corner outfielder or 3b who switched teams that was better than the ones we have. They were there.

                  If anyone wants to deny they are there, that’s their business to be wrong. If they just want to throw down a “prove it” gauntlet as some sort of debate tool, then I’m not interested.

              • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                So who would you rather have? Unless we spent $400M+ this offseason, unloaded the farm system or some other expensive way to build a team, this team had an outside shot of contention. Unless you are the Yankees, or if your farm system is already loaded, that is no way to build a team that will contend each and every year. Clearly the tops payroll can be is $150M given the current financial situation of the Cubs and if they want to take $40M off that payroll to build better facilities, go for it.

                Again, we have tried the “throw tons of cash at free agents and ignore the farm system and facilites” approach, it hasn’t worked. If you look at the organizations with top payrolls and recent success, what is a common theme? Strong farm system, which we do not have. So if you have a year where contention is a long shot, or will hinder the organization overall, you might as well give LaHair a shot, try to bolster the farm system by trading a few guys, acquire a couple extra draft picks and save the money.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “Unless we spent $400M+ this offseason, unloaded the farm system or some other expensive way to build a team, this team had an outside shot of contention”

                  Hans, dude, you don’t really believe that. There’s always a middle ground or a another way of doing things. Kyle never said it was about winning the World Series in 2012 but being competitive offensively

                • Kyle

                  “Again, we have tried the “throw tons of cash at free agents and ignore the farm system and facilites” approach, it hasn’t worked. ”

                  It worked spectacularly. We won two division titles.

                  “Again, we have tried the ‘throw tons of cash at free agents and ignore the farm system and facilites'”

                  Good thing nobody was advocating that, then.

                  Again, we don’t have to choose. The idea that we have to choose between spending money on major league players and developing a strong farm system is a myth. It is a completely false choice. We can do both. We should do both. Strong teams do both.

                  There was no compelling reason to give up on the 2012 Cubs’ offense by installing two bad players and a poor man’s Fukudome. It didn’t help the farm system. We could have still traded Marshall for three interesting parts. We could have still traded for Volstad. We could have still upgraded our Dominican facilities and given all our scouts iPads.

                  • DocWimsey

                    I agree with the gist of what you are saying, but I guess that I’m still flummoxed on this one question (or set of questions): who could the Cubs have gotten?

                    If this were a case where we could look at Team X getting 3Bman Smith for Prospects A & B, when the Cubs had Prospects A’ & B’ that could have been dealt, then I would understand. But I just don’t recall the Cubs FO being beaten to the punch on filling the Cubs current holes, especially after you delete Fielder & Pujols from consideration. The parts that the Cubs need were parts that other teams kept.

                    • Brian

                      But, the Cubs didn’t try hard enough! There are no other factors. All the players the Cubs needed were available to them for mere 100’s of millions of dollars and no other teams interested. I believe we all understand that the Cubs are still lacking talent, depth at most positions, but it all couldn’t be fixed in year 2012. I would hope that all are not satisfied with the current rotation even though it has been upgraded.

                    • Kyle

                      fine, whatevs :)

                      First basemen who switched teams who are better than LaHair:

                      Pujols, Fielder, Derrek Lee, Pena, Kotchman. I would probably place Overbay as even with LaHair.

                      Third basemen who switched teams this offseason who are better than Ian Stewart:

                      Aramis Ramirez, Eric Chavez, Casey McGehee, Greg Dobbs.

                      And it’s not like they scoured the world for better players and then finally settled on those guys. We annointed Stewart and Lahair the starters very early in the offseason, because our intention was to give up on 2012 without even trying.

                      Heck, since we are giving up it makes sense to save his service time, but Anthony Rizzo is a better first baseman right now than Brian LaHair.

                    • DocWimsey

                      I did not realize you were that down on LaHair! I’m not his biggest advocate by any means, but I certainly put him ahead of the non-superstar guys save Pena: and I figured that the $$$ difference was a big factor there.

                      At 3rd, I would rather have kept ARam, but that’s it from that list. Chavez will play once a month and then break himself. McGehee is my Ian Stewart. 8-) Dobbs is meh.

                      However, I do agree that the Cubs would with 162 games of Rizzo instead of LaHair. I just accept that this is a financial decision.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    As an aside: DeJesus is not a poor man’s Fukudome. He is, at worst, a two-years-younger version of Fukudome. He’s at least as good, maybe better defensively, and I’d be shocked if he doesn’t outproduce Fuk this year.

                    That doesn’t undermine your overall point, of course, because DeJesus is no offensive juggernaut.

                    • Kyle

                      Poorly worded. I should have said “Fukudome with a better contract.”

            • Kyle

              “They were a 71 win team last year. Let’s say between rotational depth and better management they would have won 79 games. Do you honestly believe that adding Prince, retaining Ramirez and adding Burhle or Wilson would account for the 12-16 games that would be necessary to contend in the central? That would mean that the extra 60 hits and 10 homers that Prince would provide over Pena would result in at least 5 wins.”

              I think it would have gotten them to the mid-to-high 80s. That’s plenty competitive.

              • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                I agree, maybe they could have gotten more for the pieces they traded away. We will never know, all I do know, is I am perfectly happy with the way this offseason went.

                • Kyle

                  I don’t want to give the impression that I’m unhappy.

                  I think they could have chosen to be competitive in 2012 and built for the future simultaneously. They chose to punt on 2012, and I believe that had more to do with personal reasons than baseball reasons.

                  That said, I *love* the way they’ve executed their plan. It’s not the plan I would have chosen, but it’s been brilliant in the execution.

                  • Brian

                    So, if you could pick the brains of the FO guys, you truly believe they would say they tanked this season on purpose and that no other factors came into play to achieve this outcome? They went out and picked up DeJesus(FA) before anyone even got started on FA’s, then picked up Maholm(FA) to bolster the rotation, without putting the Cubs in financial harm. Then made a great trade to unload Z and then unloaded Marshall, who would be commanding alot of dough for a couple long term, guys with upside.

  • jim

    Cublue koolaid flowing. 75 wins this year and thats only cuz astros are still in div. Stewart, wood and dejesus are the big additions! Sorry.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      One could make the argument that projecting 75 wins for this year’s Cubs team *IS* drinking the kool aid.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I really like something Cardenas, who sounds like a classy young man, said in the article. He said the best part of being with the Cubs is you have a chance to be part of history. That is a great attitude and shows how the mindset and culture of this club is slowly but surely changing.
    And he is right, the players on the team that win the World Series for the Cubs will go down in baseall history for centuries.

  • MaxM1908

    I actually think this Cubs team has the potential to surprise some folks. While the lineup is less than adequate for producing runs, it becomes much better if a few players have career years. Soriano, LaHair, and Stewart all have power potential and if each of them surpasses expectations, we could be seeing a lot of RBI’s in the middle of the lineup. DeJesus, Barney, and Castro can all get on base. If they exceed expectations (or in Castro’s case, just performs to expectations) you’ve got more run scoring opportunities than last year. Plus, add in above average years for Byrd and Soto, and all of a sudden, we have a lineup producing runs. I don’t need a superstar on the team, I’d just like 8 guys playing to their potential, and in some cases, exceeding it. Add that to an improved defense and better-than-average pitching staff, and I think we’ll win quite a few more games than last year. Not to mention, this front office and coaching staff appear to concentrate on fundamentals. That’s been lacking in years past. Add that into the mix and we have a recipe for success. Not win-the-World-Series success, but perhaps be competitive for the wild card success.

    • Cheryl Price

      I agree. So far the Spring has been somewhat disappointing. Stewart and LaHair may come around when the season starts. Soriano is still a question mark. As far as the superstar is concerned I think it was for the best that we didn’t get either one at first.

    • DocWimsey

      Hoping for everybody to match or exceed expectations is extreme wishful thinking. That’s like flipping 15 coins and asking for all to come up heads. (Getting expectations exactly is like a coin landing on it’s side, so it is 50:50 as to whether players exceed expectations or not.)

      This team will still suffer from low OBP, although that might be better than last year. The power is going to drop considerably: Stewart + LaHair +DeJesus < ARam + Pena + RF DuJour. So, that is quite a few fewer runs scored. The pitching probably will improve: but remember that the Cubs starting was amongst the worst in baseball last year. Mediocrity will be a big improvement.

      Theo & Hoyer look to be building towards the sort of high OPS offense, low-walk, high K &/or high GB pitching that competed for Boston (and NY, Philly, St. Louis, etc.): but they are several steps from getting there.

  • Brian

    Well Cub Fan Paul- Malholm and DeJesus were “technically” available for money only. So That’s what my point is! The other two fell into the Cubs laps when other circumstances happened! And, that is the kind of things that need to happen more often for the Cubs to get better.

    • CubFan Paul

      smh

  • ferrets_bueller

    I love Ian Stewart.

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