The Cubs are on pace to go 55-107, which would be the most games they’ve ever lost (103 is the previous high).

  • Gordon Wittenmyer looks at the Cubs most likely to be traded this Summer, and the names are all familiar. Of most interest in the piece is Wittenmyer’s belief that Ryan Dempster would not stand in the way of a trade to a contender (Gordon notes that Dempster’s already sold his house in Chicago), and belief that the Cubs probably don’t want to rely on being able to pick up free agent compensation for Dempster if they don’t trade him. Recall, if the Cubs keep Dempster, the only way they can receive compensation under the new CBA is if they make him a “qualifying offer” (a one-year deal worth the average of the top 125 salaries in MLB, or about $12.5 million), he declines, and then signs elsewhere. It would indeed be risky to rely on all of that playing out rather than accepting a reasonable trade this Summer – again, assuming Dempster doesn’t veto the deal.
  • So, our #CubsHell party on Twitter was a huge success – so huge, in fact, that my plans to write a round-up of the best entries will take some time. I’d expected maybe a couple hundred to go through, not thousands. We started around 3pm CT yesterday, and it’s *STILL* going on. For a while, it was the number one trending topic in Chicago. You done well, folks. I’ll have that write-up at some point, but likely not today.
  • Anthony Rizzo is up to number 20 (from 36) on Keith Law’s prospect rankings. Law indicates that Rizzo’s approach at the plate this year is improved from last year, and it isn’t just a matter of Rizzo tearing up a league he’s repeating.
  • My post on the various upsides of the Cubs sucking in 2012 was discussed at length by Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel on their morning show on the Score yesterday, which was swell. McNeil last night offered some additional reasons that we can still enjoy this season, even if the Cubs keep losing. A couple of highlights: cheaper tickets on the secondary market, and Len and Bob in rare form during blowouts.
  • Phil Rogers notes that no cavalry will be arriving to save this year’s club. It’s an obvious point, but when was the last time it was worth making as early as May?
  • Paul Maholm is excited to return to Pittsburgh for a start on Saturday. There will even be a fireworks display in his honor (probably in his honor).
  • Luke D over at the Message Board found a freaking treasure trove of interest, entertainment, and depression, all in the form of a Baseball America Cubs prospect chat with Jim Callis … from nine years ago. Ugh. You’ll chuckle for a while, but then you’ll just be really bummed out. I promise. Spare yourself, and don’t click on this link.
  • BN’er Coal was at Kerry Wood’s final game last week, and passed along a set a four photos he took of Woody’s appearance. Pretty cool to look at these pictures, from the seats, and know this was the last time he was taking the mound.
  • The MLBullets at BCB talk about the Steinbrenners possibly selling the Yankees (when you’ve got all the money in the world, do you really need to sell the Yankees to get more?).
  • Edwin

    I guess I wouldn’t mind offereing Dempster arbitration. He should still be able to be worth 2 wins next season, and the Cubs will need pitching regardless. I think it’s worth it, to get the chance at an extra draft pick.

    • Stan

      And avoid picking two, maybe three if low-leveled, prospects for him? No way! Teams are DYING for veteran pitching right now and if Roy Oswalt signs in Baltimore (Which is a possibility) New York/Boston will give up a pretty penny for Dempster.

      • CubFan Paul

        Don’t forget the Rangers who have some new pitching injuries. The loser on Oswalt will go after Dempster & Garza

      • rcleven

        Does that mean two bags of balls and a splintered bat?
        Me thinks you are overvaluing Dempsters value.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Sounds like you’re undervaluing it.

          Let’s meet somewhere in the middle, and that’s usually where the truth lies.

          • rcleven

            Demp is a great Guy. That said he won’t be much more than a rent a player for whoever picks him up. The Cubs will get something yes. I don’t expect much in return.

      • Alou and Vinegar

        Bullpen arm and a low level marginal prospect is about all they will get for Dempster.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Only if it’s a good, young bullpen arm. The Cubs can get a good prospect for Dempster, just not multiple good prospects, and “just” good. Probably not a top 100 prospect, but a top 10 in some team’s organization? Absolutely.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          To put it another way: the Cubs got a “low level marginal prospect” last year for a few months of Kosuke Fukudome. They’ll be able to do much, much better for Dempster. Especially if they eat some salary to spice the deal up.

          • Alou and Vinegar

            I think you are looking at two pitchers similar to Eric Jokisch (in terms of ability and current playing level) for Dempster.  It’s not going to be near as much as they got for Marshall.

            A lot will obviously be determined by Dempster’s future performance. Is it the pitcher that started the year or will he slide back to 2011 levels (probably somewhere in between)? Good point on how much salary they eat also.

            I can see the Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, Rangers, Mets, Nationals and Reds all looking for pitching at the deadline

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I definitely agree with you that I don’t expect as much as the Cubs got for Marshall.

              • When the Music’s Over

                Still early, but the players the Cubs received in the Marshall deal have been rather unexciting so far this year.

                • Alou and Vinegar

                  I was meaning in regards to their prospect ratings at the time of the trade. Torreyes is the one who has dissapointed so far. Since coming back up Wood looks about like he did for the Reds and Sappelt is a fourth or fifth outfielder.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Travis Wood has had two good starts…

                  • Alou and Vinegar

                    woops, Travis Wood of 2010, not 2011

  • Stan

    Lol Angel Guzman.

  • Jon

    I never did a deep dive on the Cubs home schedule in regards to open days at home, but did anyone notice Ryan’s Casino Night Charity Event this year was extremely early in the season? Normally this event always took place in July. Maybe Ryan new earlier on he wouldn’t be around and wanted to get his charity event in.

  • Papi

    Quality #CubsHell tweets yesterday and today, props for starting something that grew beyond your wildest thoughts or control Brett @CLubey2B

  • Ivy Walls

    Captain Obvious has infected Chicago Cubs press corps. This is a building strategy insinuating that before nothing was actually built but simply assembled.

    Someone should make a video take off Graham Parker’s ‘Waiting for the UFOs’ with ‘Waiting for the Rizzo’. Actually I could see next year’s starting infield being Rizzo, ?, Castro and Lake with Barney as the utility IF’er

    • rcleven

      “Captain Obvious has infected Chicago Cubs press corps. This is a building strategy insinuating that before nothing was actually built but simply assembled”

      This is why you read the assembly instructions before assembly.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Just thought of something. What if the Mayan’s are right and 2012 is THE last year.
    There will be no WS for the Cubs. Ricketts call your dad and tell him he needs to spend like 200 mil before the Allstar break and buy us a WS cause if it doesn’t happen this year it never will.

    • RoughRiider

      If the Mayans are right the world will go on for another 4 thousand years. They found another calendar.

  • http://www.fightoutsider.com Ryan

    I should’ve taken Brett’s advice and not click on that link. I guess I didn’t realize how highly thought of Brendan Harris was.

  • Runnys

    WOW!!! I just read that prospect chat and it was depressing. I should have listened to you. The only player I saw on there that amounted to anything serviceable was Nolasco, and that was for the Marlins. Looks like Callis really missed the boat on his projections. I guess it just goes to show that people should never get in a huge uproar when prospects are traded for proven commodities.

    • rcleven

      Or take projections as gospel.

  • Stephen

    As depressing as that chat was…just think of how much bonus money was wasted on basically nothing.
    That’s either terrible,catastrophic,miserable luck,or horrific scouting.

    • Kyle

      That’s just how prospects work.

      The Cubs right now are paying Starlin Castro $450k/year to be a $15-20 million/year shortstop. You don’t mind wasting bonus money on so many guys because the ones that hit become fantastic bargains.

  • Kyle

    Hahaha, that 9-year-old Callis chat was fantastic.

    It’s a sobering reminder that Cubs fans seem to need right now as we begin to dig into the minor leagues as a way to distract ourselves from the . I keep seeing posts like “How are we going to find room in the lineup for Junior Lake and Javier Baez” or “When do we look into trading Vogelbach because we have Rizzo?”

    People tend to vastly, vastly, vastly underestimate the flame-out rate for prospects. And that’s not to say that they aren’t important. Prospects are insanely important, but not because they are reliable. They really are lottery tickets. The very small percentage who do turn into what you hope can change your entire franchise. An executive may give out signing bonuses to hundreds of teenage Dominican shortstops in his career, in the hopes that every few decades, one of them turns out to be Starlin Castro.

    Out of Rizzo, Jackson, Baez, Soler, Lake and this year’s No. 6 pick in the draft, the Cubs would be doing very well to get two long-term major league starters. And that’s already penciling in Rizzo as one of them.

    • TWC

      “People tend to vastly, vastly, vastly underestimate the flame-out rate for prospects. “

      Even, it would seem, the so-called experts.  That chat was nothing if not sobering.  It should be automatically linked every time someone posts a proposed future lineup of Baez/Vogelbach/Lake/Rizzo/Jackson/Soler/etc.etc.etc.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That, to me, was the most depressing part.

    • TSB

      You hit the nail right on the head. And often the same fans that say some prospect is god’s gift to the Cubs are the same fans that demand that the bum be traded if he starts off slowly in the bigs.

  • IACub

    That article should be renamed “The best prospects who never got past Des Moines”! I guess that goes to show you can only look at potential so far. I really love the part where he talks about how he doesn’t see Prior as an injury-risk. I bet Mark would even flip the screen the bird on that one.

  • Leo L

    I am going to trade for dempster in the my fantasy baseball league so i can keep cheering for dempster.

  • Beer Baron

    How eerily prophetic was the last question in the Jim Callis article considering what happened in the NLCS that year (and how horribly wrong was the answer) ?

    Q: Whom would you take both this year and long term: wood and prior or beckett and burnett?

    A: Jim Callis: Prior and Wood. And I’d take Prior over Wood.

    • Kyle

      Oh man, I didn’t even think of that. That just adds another level of self-schadenfreude awesomeness.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      The only reason it was “wrong” is because of injury.
      If he says this year that he’d take Starlin Castro over Elvis Andrus, he’s probably right. If Castro has a career ending injury next season, that’s something that can’t be accounted for.

      Prior WAS the best pitcher out of that group before injury.

      • Beer Baron

        Although Callis himself said “I don’t see him (Prior) getting hurt” so he already accounted for that side of the argument.

        I was more talking about how Josh Beckett probably did more to win that series than anyone on the Marlins team (although Pudge and Cabrerra were great too). Plus he has been a key part of 3 World Series winners and netted the Marlins an All-Star shortstop. Sure Prior and Wood (and Burnett for that matter) were derailed by injury, but that doesn’t make the answer any less wrong.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Prior colliding with Giles was the beginning of the end….no one could see that.

          I don’t see how it can be a “wrong” answer. Would you take Starlin Castro over Elvis Andrus? I’m guessing your answer is yes.
          If in 2013, Castro gets taken out and blows his knee and never hits better than 280 with 10 hr’s a year for the next 10 years while Andrus goes on to 2000 hits will you then be wrong?

  • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

    OMG! Is Jim Callas still employed in the same line of work? Whoa, was he wrong on MOST fronts…I also found it amusing that some people wanted to compare Brendan Harris and Albert Pujols…

    I do appreciate that you warned me, Brett…

  • RoughRiider

    That post by Callis is another prime example of why you don’t trade a player like Castro or Garza for prospects. No matter what the “experts” say about prospects there is no way of knowing in advance of what a prospect is going to do in the future. I remember The Sporting News suggesting that Frank Castillo was the second coming of Greg Maddox.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      There is no way of knowing what anyone will do in the future, especially when it comes to injury.

      • Pete

        That is especially true if you think that the Shark will pitch as well this tear or even improve on this year next year. Then you are only a free agent signing away from a poor man’s Atlanta trifecta. And remember their 1991 starting line-up – Bream/Treadway/Belliard/Pendleton/Olson/Justice/Gant/L. Smith. Hardly fear inspiring, with only one guy with more than 87 RBI’s, and only 3 with more than 54.

  • Andy

    I cant believe my first post is going to be pointing out a flaw in Wittenmyer’s article. Ryan Dempster had two homes in the city. Both in Lakeview. He rented one out to teammates or let family in town stay there, and he and his family lived in the other. He has been trying to sell the rental house for about two years. I believe that is the house he sold.

    • Jon

      From my understanding his primary residence is down a couple houses from Theo

      • Andy

        More like a block and a half…on opposite sides of the street.

  • JulioZuleta

    That prospect chat is painful to read. It’s astonishing that NONE of those guys came anywhere near their respective projections. And another reason you do not trade a guy like Starlin Castro any 3 prospects unless one of them is Bryce Harper and the other two are top 75 guys.

    • djriz

      Wait a minute.
      Didn’t Bobby Hill turn into an All-star quality player?

      His name was Aramis Ramirez.

      • Alou and Vinegar

        This is the key to prospects. Knowing when to trade them for young proven talent that other teams are not going to be able to afford.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        (And Jose Hernandez and Matt Bruback (whose name also comes up).) (Plus Kenny Lofton on the other side.) (What a strangely formatted comment this has become.)

  • TrueblueCubbie

    SO I read what I wasn’t supposed to read, now I am depressed. The most depressing was Adam Greenberg. I remember watching that game. I had hopes of him being in a Cubs uniform for awhile. Sadly, it never came to be.

    • Beer Baron

      The Cubs’ own Moonlight Graham

      • TrueblueCubbie

        haha I didn’t even think about that

  • EQ76

    wow… reading that link, Callis was bass ackwards on almost every answer. Yet another reason to not get too hyped up on prospects. Funny how Juan Cruz & Angel Guzman were can’t miss, untouchable future starters and Ricky Nolasco and Carlos Zambrano weren’t really cut out to be starters. haha!! Also, “Mark Prior won’t get hurt” talk was pretty laughable.. Vegas must make a fortune on guys like Callis.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “It’s an obvious point, but when was the last time it was worth making as early as May?”

    12 months ago, by my count…..

  • Jeremy

    I really wish that we actually knew what other teams are willing to give up right now for Dempster.

    • TrueblueCubbie

      I am sure the Brewers would be willing to part with Ryan Braun and Corey Hart for a few months of Dempster. I’m sure the Angels would give up CJ Wilson and Pujols if we throw LaHair in with the deal. /sarcasm

      That is the reason I come here instead of to the Cubs MLB page. There really are no asinine comments here. Well, some, but I try not to be so asinine.

      • Jeremy

        Wow that’s not what I meant at all. There was no sarcasm in my post at all, so I have no idea where that came from. I know Dempster isn’t going to fetch superstar talent, but I’m intrigued as to what type of high end prospects we can get for him. I asked a legit question so there was no reason for that response.

  • rcleven

    Won’t know that until close to the dead line. Who becomes buyers who becomes sellers. What other teams make available and their expectations.

  • Luke D

    Yes! I made the bullets!!

    Oh happy day

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    God that was depressing. Wonder if that was a misunderstanding of our talent or are we really that unlucky. I forgot just how good our system once was.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Both.  Most of the arms went “kaboom”: whether that was overuse or bad luck is anybody’s guess.  However, look at the summaries of the hitters.  Only once in that thread is OBP mentioned.  However, the Cubs prospects almost universally failed because of an inability to work counts and get on base.

      It is remarkable that people were still ignoring that as late as 2002, but there you go…..

      • Cubbie Blues

        What do you mean 2002? Hendry is still denying it.

        • hansman1982

          every time I hear some talking head mention a hitters BA/HR/R/RBI totals I want to rip that head off.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          True: but by 2002 a lot of talent evaluators were talking about OBP.  Remember, the last 1990’s Yankees and turn-of-the-century A’s were attracting a lot of attention in 2002.  The fact that only Choi was good at working counts was an issue 10 years ago in some quarters.  (Had his wrist not been ruined, he probably would have become a good player.)

          Sadly, Hendry does seem to have been a bit of a “flat earther” where talent evaluation is concerned…..

          • Joker

            I think your point about Hendry holding on to ancient perceptions is right on point. In hindsight, however, it’s easy to see just how big the bandwagon was for the Cubs’ farm system at that time. If no one is quesitioning your approach, you will keep on doing it. One of Jim’s biggest problems (other than the Trib and Zell) was his unwillingness to alter his approach.

            To me, this will be the defining trait of the Epstein/Hoyer era – could they adjust their methods to buidling a winner in a) Chicago, b) a new set of rules under the new CBA, and c) with a system practically vacant of talent when they started.

            • Edwin

              I wouldn’t say the system is vacant of talent. Most people right now feel that the Cubs are middle of the pack.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                Yep.  Thin at the top, loaded at the bottom, but deep overall.  The Cubs have a mountain of potential major league role players and league average type guys, but are thin on potential stars.

                • MTCubbie

                  If we were rostering 25 league average guys now, would we be 14 games under .500. Just thinking out loud… as dangerous as that might be.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    That gets tricky because you have to define “average.”  If the Cubs fielded 8 guys with league average OPS and average range for their positions with 5 starters with league average FIP numbers, then you’d be looking at a 0.500 team that could win anywhere from 76-88 games depending on luck of the schedule, etc.  If the Cubs had 8 position players with league average OPS instead of position-average OPS, then the variance on the expected wins would go up: LFers hit better than do SS, after all.

                    Insert caveats here…..

                • Joker

                  Thin on potential stars = vacant of talent.
                  Potential major league role players = vacant of talent.

                  Maybe it’s just me. I understand that you have to be deep and have a surplus of fundamentally sound, quality MLB players for depth, injuries, peer motivation, etc but a roster of 25 of these types does not win the World Series. That’s called the 2012 Twins.

                  Of course, “hot prospects” don’t always equal success as we are all too aware of (thanks for reminding us with the Calis’ article, Brett!)

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    If the Cubs are vacant of talent, what does that make the White Sox?

                    Vacant seems a tad harsh for a system with four of the league Top 70 players in it (Baseball America), but it is all subjective I suppose.

                • Bric

                  The problem with being loaded at the bottom is it’s much quicker and easier to get that than to get what you want- ideally loaded at all levels but at least loaded at the top or middle.

                  The reality is they’re loaded at the bottom based on what they did in high school, legion ball, and extended spring training. Apples and oranges. Any smart GM would trade any three of best low A ball players for any one quality, young (developmentally) 3A player. But you don’t see that happen much, if ever. Why? because being loaded at the bottom is meaningless. Let’s face it, it is what it. And the rankings are correct. Bottom 3rd is about right.

          • Edwin

            I don’t think he did too bad at evaluating talent. Derrek Lee was a good move, as was Aramis Ramirez. Ted Lilly was a good signing. Mark DeRosa worked out well. Also, trading Mark DeRosa helped get the prospects to trade for Matt Garza. Picking up Rich Harden from Billy Beane for almost nothing was great. Ryan Theriot was valuable for awhile, as was Mike Fontenot (part of the Sosa deal). Dempster was a great pickup. Soto has been a pretty good catcher. Carlos Marmol was a nice find. Sean Marshall was a good find. Marlon Byrd was a great pickup.

            Jim Hendry was good at evaluating talent, he was lousy about valueing it. He was too quick to re-sign players when he should have let them walk and gotten draft picks.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Hendry did well at the MLB level, but he didn’t do very well with the farm system.  In particular, the Cubs have been dismal at developing position players.  Just look at the All-Star ballot and count the number of Cubs farmhands on it.  (You can use one hand, even if you’ve had a bad habit of trying to catch knives most of your life.)  That’s the issue here.

  • Joker

    My favorite Q&A from the Calis’ chat:

    Q: Bob from Atlanta asks:
    Being a lifelong Cub fan – 50+ years- I’ve noted many heralded prospects that have never succeeded. But some players “escape” the Cubs system and become successes, for example Eric Hinske. Question: are the Cubs minor league coaches below average in teaching and developing players, especially position players? Is this the major flaw in the Cubs’ program over the last fifty years? And, if I can sneak in a legal question: my Dad took me to a game at Wrigley field when I was seven and I was addicted from then on. Can I sue my Dad for this grievous act, that has led to years and years of frustration and grief?

    A: Jim Callis: I don’t know if anyone has figured out how to or even tried to quantify how well as system develops talent. If a guy fails, it’s hard to assess blame. Was he not a good draft pick, or did development screw him up. I think the Cubs’ major flaw over the last 50 years is not assessing talent, amateur and major league, well. They’re doing a much better job in that regard. You’ll thank your dad when the Cubs finally win a World Series in the next 5-10 years.

  • Darrell b

    Dempster did not sell his home. He upgraded to a new home where he now lives and sold the old house that used to be his home.

  • Darrell b

    “But some players “escape” the Cubs system and become successes, for example Eric Hinske.”

    He escaped the Cubs system to be a career bench player. He has value but not as a starter.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, Hinske won the RoY for the AL in 2002, right before this QA session took place.  Hinske’s star fell precipitously after that, however.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That was from 2003. Hinske had just won the Rookie of the Year, and looked like a future star.

      • Joker

        Regardless, Hinske would have been a nice bench player to have. All the guy has done is win – isn’t that the perception?

  • The Mountain

    Any chance they unload Castro and bring up Lake. Seems far fetched but considering the state of the franchise, who knows.

    • Kyle

      No. No chance at all. Not even a little chance. Zero.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Lake’s not ready to go.  If something happened to Castro, we’re probably looking at a double play combo of Barney at short and Cardenas at second.

      Anyone trading for Castro would probably have to offer the sort of outlandishly ridiculous, over the top package that would have a fan base calling for the GMs head.  I cannot think of a remotely realistic scenario in which Castro would be moved by the Cubs.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Put another way, you do not trade a 22-year old who had an OPS 0.04 better than typical for other starters at his position last year.  You build around that guy.

      • Jeremy

        Exactly. You build around your 22 year old All Star SS.

  • Bric

    We should probably book mark these comments about the Cubs’ future stars (Maples, Lake, Biaz, Golden, Vitters, and the rest of the mountain of talent) for reference in nine years.

    • TWC

      Bric, for what it’s worth, I always bookmark YOUR comments.  Positively enlightening.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Baez has a legit chance of being a star.

      The rest of that list, on the other hand…not very likely.
      The adoration of Lake in particular drives me nuts. There’s a better chance that he never plays a single major league game as a position player than there is of him being even an average player.

  • die hard

    So wonder what Quade must be thinking every time he cashes his paycheck? Didnt have to be this way or Cubs did him a favor?

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