Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke to the media yesterday about a variety of things (see herehere, here, here, and here), though surely he knew what we all really wanted to hear about …

  • On the trade market as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline: “It’s always good to have the market dynamic on your side with more buyers than sellers. It’s nice to have leverage on your side. The potential of doing nothing and being fine with that is always a nice option to have. We’ll see. The trade market is still developing. As you get closer to the trade deadline team’s desires and the intensity of those become clear.” The art of saying nothing. Epstein understands this better than most.
  • On the Cubs’ preference for the return in deadline trades: “In certain deals, it is [pitching]. You can express a preference for pitching, but if you’re dealing with a club that has better position player prospects and you feel the position players in a certain system are a safer bet or offer higher upside, I don’t think it’s smart to pigeonhole yourself in to one situation. [But] we need to add a lot of pitching to the system. It’s not enough to have a handful or one or two. You need to have waves and waves of pitching coming through your system and we don’t have that. We don’t hardly even have one wave coming so we need to rebuild a lot of pitching depth.” The Cubs came into the season thin in pitching depth, and attrition plus ineffectiveness have only thinned it further. As bright as the future is on the positional side, it is that bleak on the pitching side. Epstein’s right, though: you never want to say no to an A+ positional prospect in favor of a B pitching prospect, no matter what your system looks like.
  • On the Cubs’ window for competitiveness: “Hopefully, we’re very competitive very soon. Just sitting here and wanting to be so doesn’t make it so. You have to build an organization. You get sick of me saying this, but there are no shortcuts.”
  • Relatedly, on the building process, and where the Cubs stand: “I think building is a working process. We’re trying to get better every day as an organization and there are a lot of different things that go into building a championship caliber organization. The emergence of young talent in the minor leagues is important, scouting is important, things that happen in the big leagues are very important … most important. We want all our players to progress, get better and solidify the roles they are in and maybe look to the future to play an even bigger role. Like we said at the beginning of the year, we could always use more impact talent and we still feel that way. You don’t get satisfied when one, two or three players break through and start to emerge. You want to try to get as many as you can.”
  • On when the Cubs will supplement that building process through free agency: “Sometimes that works out for you, but more often than not, it doesn’t. There’s a price to pay for that type of thing. If you get tempted and you get impatient and you try to solve your problems through free agency, there’s always a price to pay. Usually, it happens pretty soon toward the end of that deal. Free agency is definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent, but you cannot make an organization that way. We have a lot of steps ahead of us we have to take care of before we’re in position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency. We’ll always look to free agency. We’ll always be on every free agent and see if it’s the right player or the right value. If we sat around and drew up a plan that had free agency as the answer to most of our problems, we’d be on a fool’s errand there. We need to build a foundation based on scouting we believe in, player development we believe in, a steady flow of prospects.” Although that’s all reasonable, it’s also a lot of fluff – Theo knows as well as we do that the dynamics for acquiring talent has changed thanks to the new CBA, and one of the few remaining oases in the desert for large market clubs is to outspend everyone else in free agency. I’m not saying the Cubs are going to do it this Winter, but it’ll have to happen at some point.
  • On helping the Cubs secure public funding for Wrigley Field renovations: “If they need help, yeah. It’s not what I do on a day-to-day basis but we sit in meetings and talk about it. Obviously it’s of fundamental importance to the organization and affects some of our baseball plans. So any of us are willing to give our best effort to make it happen.” When Theo says it impacts the baseball plans, what he means is: until the deal gets done, and on terms at least modestly favorable to the Cubs, the baseball ops department isn’t going to have as much cash to work with as they might otherwise.
  • Spencer

    So, basically, don’t expect the Cubs to go acquire any huge free agents this off season, or any time soon for that matter. Sounds like being competitive in the next four years is really out of the question with that mentality.

    • Carew

      They’ll sign free agents, capable free agents. Just not the Grienkes or the Hamels

      • Spencer

        Grienke and Hamels are capable free agents.

        • Carew

          You know what I mean. Not the super expensive guys

          • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

            you mean not anyone that is good or that will be an asset; so in otherwords more guys like maholm & dejesus; over 30; no one really wants, and similiar to 4th and 5th SP or OF………JUNK!.

            i think theo has a 5 yr written contract and a 5 yr option; just not disclosed; becuz NO GM should be allowed to stay if they cannot make the playoffs once in 5 yrs whent he team has gone over a 100 yrs and NO championship.

            really no acceptable to have next year’s payroll at 38M not including smarjijijijia and castro signed………where is the other 70-100M?

            • Edward

              Name some free agents under the age of 30 that the Cubs should go after this offseason.

            • bbmoney

              Were you guys really expecting to compete before 2014 or 2015? There aren’t enough FA’s out there for us to sign this year for us to be truely competitive next year. I think we’ll start to be more agressive in free agency next offseason with the hopes of maybe competing in 2014, but 2015 really being the year. By then we can hope to have a little help from our farm system (at least position player wise) to supplement anyone we get. The system was trashed when Theo and Co. stepped in. They can’t do it all at once. Next year’s payroll won’t be at $38M..that’s just what they’re on the hook for now. Some guys deals will go up in arbitration and they’ll have to sign a few FA’s. I’m guessing its in the 70M range….which is fine…for now.

              I do hope they lock up Castro within the next year to a contract buying out 3 or 4 years of FA and his arb. years. Similar to what the Brewers did with Braun and Rockies did with Tulo and Cargo and the Rays have done with most of their guys.

            • johnny kelroy

              Me fail english?!?! That’s unpossible!!!

    • Norm

      That’s not an overreaction by any means….

    • Drew7

      “Free agency is definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent, but you cannot make an organization that way. We have a lot of steps ahead of us we have to take care of before we’re in position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency. We’ll always look to free agency. We’ll always be on every free agent and see if it’s the right player or the right value”

      I don’t interpret that as, “don’t be pissed when we don’t sign FA’s bc we won’t be doing that for a couple of years”

      More like, “don’t be pissed when we don’t spend $ this offseason like the LAA did last year just to make impatient Cub fans happy”

      • Spencer

        I understand that it doesn’t make sense to spend money if you don’t think you’ll be competitive, but it’s also hard to be competitive without some outside help. The Mets have like an all homegrown roster this year and they are hovering around mediocrity. I don’t want the Cubs to go spend 200 million this winter only to win 70 games next year, but its almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy – don’t sign FAs if you aren’t competitive, hard to get competitive without good FAs. I guess we have to wait and see how some of the young draft signees turn out to be in 4-5 years from now.

      • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

        or win!

      • Kyle

        I interpret it as “I choked on free agents in Boston and now I’m scared of them, and also I like being able to put together awful baseball teams and not get criticized for it.”

        But then, I’m not in a charitable mood, so maybe that’s a bit of a harsh translation.

        • bbmoney

          No way. The Cubs will sign free agents, when the time is right. But to consistently compete not just now but into the future they need to rebuild the farms system first. Theo and Jed have done a great job of that wherever they’ve been. That’s priority #1. Then they’ll look to supplement with FA’s…no big ones this year…but in 2 or 3 years the Cubs will start being much more agressive and sign some important pieces….guaranteed.

        • kubphan82

          Mueller was a solid signing… Ortiz worked out… Those were early signings… I know his recent signings were lackluster and close to epic fail BUT he has admitted as much by talking about learning from his past mistakes and knowing what to do to build the organization and not succumbing to the pressure of signing the big FA…

          • Toby

            I was a huge fan of Bill Mueller especially when he played for the Cubs. He was having a great year before he sustained that knee injury sliding into the tarp pipe.

            • Bric

              Absolutely. Leave to the Cards to put a piece of jutting out steel right in the middle of foul territory for any unsuspecting 3rd baseman to go right into. I wouldn’t doubt LaRussa had a little button in the dugout he would hit to extend it out a couple of inches when the time was right, kinda like those Buffalo Wildwings commercials.

              • Toby

                I thought the injury occured at Wrigley.

          • Kyle

            See, I think that’s a rationalization on his part. He just doesn’t want to admit that he made mistakes despite a sound plan, so he has to blame the plan, and now the Cubs get to be the laboratory where he experiments with unproven new plans.

            • kubphan82

              Mueller and Ortiz were FA to compliment a team with a good record… Ended up pretty good for them. They then drafted and developed players very well… And then started to overpay for FA.

              We’ll be better off for his experiences in Boston.

              • Kyle

                When people are talking about “signing FAs,” they don’t generally mean scrap-heap reclamation projects.

            • stillmisskennyhubbs

              My, indeed you are in a bad mood, Kyle.

            • Roy Hobbs

              I freaking love Kyle.

              I vote for Kyle to get his own article on BN once a week. I love that he says what I’m always thinking.

              I love that Kyle doesn’t drink kool-aid, and doesn’t mind saying things that are unpopular.

              This site needs more of that.

              Too much freaking blind theo love for me.

              Keep, keeping it real Kyle..

              • Brett

                I love Kyle, so what follows is not about your Kyle comments.

                You do know it’s possible to have eye-open love for Theo, right? Your comments suggest – though I won’t put words in your mouth, because you might not be saying this – that you think people who, so far, love what Theo has done and trust that he’ll generally do good things are stupid people. I am one of those people, but I am not stupid. Just throwing that out there.

                • Dougy D

                  Sounds pretty dumb to me.

                • hansman1982

                  nope…its either blind love or abject hatred…

                  • Dougy D

                    I will go ahead and say that I don’t know what I think about the Superfriends as of yet. I will go politician on their moves until I get to see this team play out a little bit. I do have serious concerns about Sveum’s decisions on playing time though. But as the old saying goes, “You can’t polish a turd.” The one thing that at least most of us know that was a must and was taken care of, is getting rid of Zambrano. Well done Superfriends. Well done.

  • Noah

    I still think the Cubs will be in on the major starting pitchers hitting free agency this season, namely Hamels and Greinke. I’m not saying they’ll get either of them, and it’s possible that Greinke’s mental health issues are enough for the Cubs to pass on a big contract, but I think the Cubs will be in and make competitive offers for one or both.

    Honestly, if the Cubs are going to go after one and aren’t concerned about the mental health issues, Greinke will probably be the better bargain. It’s pretty much assumed that, for Hamels not to be a Dodger next season, another team will have to offer a contract significantly above what the Dodgers will.

    • Luke

      I completely agree. I think they’ll be checking in on every front of the rotation starter in free agency this season.

    • willis

      Unfotunately I don’t think they sniff either. All of the sudden on the major league level the team is acting like a middle-small market team. And that’s going to continue. Both those guys will cost well over $100 million, and this organization isn’t dropping that kind of money. Although it’s there to be spent.

      • Spencer

        it’s looking more and more like Philly is going to extend Hamels.

      • BD

        They’re not spending money at the Major League level now because they don’t want to put a Band-Aid on the team. They have money- look at what they have done with international FAs.

        I fully expect that IF they like the team they have in place for next year, but they think they need a frontline starter (at least one), they will be in the FAs. If they think that’s not enough, then they will pass for now.

        • Luke

          The major starting pitchers are not going to sign one year deals. If the Cubs believe they’ll be competitive in 2014 or 2015, then at least making a run at some prime pitchers in this winter’s free agent class makes a lot of sense.

          • Noah

            Exactly. I think most people think of it in a standard economic view. Like if you’re building a business that will make widgets, your best off waiting to buy your widget making equipment until you’re ready to start making those widgets.

            In the case of Greinke and Hamels, though, it would be as if widget making equipment varied greatly in quality, degraded quite quickly with age and rarely was available for purchase. If that was the case, you might have to buy some really good widget making equipment that should continue to be really good widget making equipment for 5 or 6 years despite the fact that you won’t be ready to make the widgets for 2 years.

            • Scotti

              Depending on free agent pitchers to be making widgets 3-5 years down the line (if you don’t have to sign them to 7-year deals) just doesn’t make sense. The vast majority of really good looking free agent pitchers lose effectiveness and/or are injured well before they finish their first free agent contract. If you HAVE to sign a top $ free agent pitcher, it is best to do so when he will give you the best bang for your buck. Better yet, develop your pitchers and sign a top $ hitter or two when needed. The durability of hitters far surpasses pitchers.

  • Edwin

    I’m curious, if the Cubs do deal both Garza and Dempster, who takes their spots in the rotation next year? They don’t really have an inhouse candidates right now.

    • willis

      The hope is there will be returns of ML ready pitching for 2013. And those arms would take the rotation spots.

    • gocatsgo2003

      I think we have plenty of in-house “candidates:” Volstad, Coleman, Wells, Rusin, De la Cruz, Raley, Jackson, Struck, Beeler, maybe even a kid like Jokisch just to fill the hole in the rotation, etc. The problem is that none of the in-house candidates appear to be “good candidates.”

      More than likely it will be one or two of the guys we get back in the Dempster and Garza trades.

      • Richard Nose

        Im glad you threw in the “none of the in-house candidates appear to be “good candidates.”” because my stomach was starting to churn.

      • White Sox Nation

        Volstad please no more of him pretty please!!!

    • Drew7

      I wouldnt mind giving Raley or Struck an opportunity next year for one of the spots. I’d imagine you could get a serviceable FA pitcher (if they don’t sign one of the big names) to fill out the other spot.

      Personally, I’d like to see:

      1) Hamels
      2) Shark
      3) Wood
      4) cheap FA/Maholm
      5) Raley/Struck

      • BD

        If they get a young SP at the deadline, and sign Hamels, I would be ecstatic. I could even see a Maholm at #5 and your “cheap FA” at #4 (not necessarily cheap, but a short contract veteran).

    • Dan

      The Cubs can add pieces to the rotation during the offseason just like they did this year. They added guys like Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Jeff Samardjiza (converted but still a new starter), Chris Volstad. I expect they will receive a couple of pitchers through the trades that may fit right into becoming starters for the Cubs. Guys like Jacob Turner, Deck McGuire, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Purke, Zach Lee, etc. Also I’m sure they will add a veteran pitcher or two in the offseason at a low cost just like Paul Maholm.

  • Kevin

    The Cubs could end up with Lee by trading away Dempster and the Dodgers. Get er done……

  • Jeff

    The free agent starting pitching pool is fairly shallow for next year. We cannot anticipate signing free agents to solve this shortage of starting pitching. We have to trade wisely to acquire guys that can step into the rotation and continue to develop the ones we have drafted. Unfortunately, the best pitching talent in our system is a long way from being ready.

    Hamels most likely re-signs and Greinke gets traded. What’s available next year isn’t that exciting.

    • White Sox Nation

      I agree Jeff Hamels isn’t leaving Philly and Greinke is going to be traded and most likely resigned by his new team.

  • SoCal Cubs Fan

    The Wrigley renovation is the key, until this is complete or at least a finacial plan locked in, I don’t see the Cubs being big players in the free agent market. Yes they have a lot of money coming off the payroll next year, but with or without the city/state help they need to start the renovation project sooner rather than later.
    This project is not only critical to the continued sucess of the business side, but in the attraction of free agents, and devlopement of the on field product.

    • Kevin

      I hate to tell you – The State, County & the City of Chicago are all broke. There is no money to hand out. If renovations to Wrigley are a requirement before going after free agents then one of two things will need to happen.
      1) Renovate with existing money and don’t ask for public funding
      2) Sell the team to someone who is willing to finance the renovations privately.

      The Ricketts family knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, this should not come as any surprise.

      • hansman1982

        I hate to tell you – the State, County & the City of Chicago would not spend one single dime of money. Instead they would allow the Cubs to retain amusement tax amounts collected above and beyond what is presently collected.

        If the State, County & the City of Chicago want to continue to tax the Cubs hand over fist and have a say in how they rennovate Wrigley, then they should agree to pay for some of it – as govenments do for many historic structures.

        • Pat

          Wrigley has landmark status, not historical. Additionally, it only covers the marquee, ivy and scoreboard. The issues with a jumbotron, advertising, etc are zoning issues and have nothing to do with the landmark status.

          • Pat

            Looks like Im off on the historical vs landmark. I would have sworn there was a distinction, but can’t find it. However, the issues are still mostly zoning and not related to the landmark status,

          • Scotti

            Close. It goes a little deeper than that. The entirety of “the bleachers” is claimed. That is why the City claimed the Cubs needed approval for the video board in right (and the Cubs did acquiesce).

      • dabynsky

        Just about every stadium deal in the US in the past twenty years has involved some amount of public funding. They are doing what every team does. If they don’t get funding, it means less money to put towards baseball operations. The deal that gets done will be beneficial to both sides, and right now I wouldn’t pay much attention to what is said by the Cubs or the city as it is mostly just posturing.

  • Toby

    I sure hope that Theo/Jed stay the course and do not overspend on FAs in the offseason. I’m hoping they will use FA the right way which is supplementing the holes that need to be filled when the team is strong enough in contending for the playoffs year in and year out; the final piece or two so to speak. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t spend, but, for example, the Cubs signed DeJesus to a 2 year deal with a third year option. The 2 years would be the amount of time that one might presume we would see the next wave of OFs. DD’s contract was fair, but was not going to be an unmovable contract.

    • Dougy D

      I think that they won’t stray from their plan. I would expect to see more journeymen type guys than big name guys coming next year. The only real exception I see is in trying to sign an ace.

  • RicoSanto

    Ihink Anibel Sanchez would be a good FA signing.

    • SoCal Cubs Fan

      I agree

    • Patrick G

      Like Anibal Sanchez and Brandon McCarthy along w shark, wood and Maholm is pretty solid. Also, one of the guys in AAA/AA could surprise who knows. I know they are in rebuild mode, but they have quality pieces to be competitive with the right additions.

      • bbmoney

        I think those two guys are a lot more realistic than going after the really top talent (although I don’t think Hamels or Greinke even hit the market). I’d be fine going after those guys, but I see no reason to sign someone to a huge deal. Wait a year or two, we won’t be ready next year.

  • Mick

    For one Hamels, we could sign one Dempster and one Liriano or Anibal Sanchez. I’m seeing plenty of decent enough pitchers that we could get on a lesser deal that could still help us compete next season.

    2013 FA SPs
    Scott Baker (31) – $9.25MM club option
    Erik Bedard (34)
    Joe Blanton (32)
    Fausto Carmona (29) – $9MM club option
    Bartolo Colon (40)
    Aaron Cook (34)
    Kevin Correia (32)
    Doug Davis (37)
    Jorge De La Rosa (32) – $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout
    Ryan Dempster (36)
    R.A. Dickey (38) – $5MM club option with a $300K buyout
    Zach Duke (30)
    Scott Feldman (29) – $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
    Jeff Francis (32)
    Gavin Floyd (30) – $9.5MM club option
    Freddy Garcia (37)
    Zack Greinke (28)
    Jeremy Guthrie (34)
    Cole Hamels (29)
    Rich Harden (31)
    Dan Haren (32) – $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
    Livan Hernandez (38)
    Tim Hudson (37) – $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Edwin Jackson (29)
    Hiroki Kuroda (38)
    Colby Lewis (33)
    Francisco Liriano (29)
    Kyle Lohse (34)
    Rodrigo Lopez (37)
    Derek Lowe (40)
    Paul Maholm (31) – $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Shaun Marcum (31)
    Jason Marquis (34)
    Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
    Brandon McCarthy (29)
    Kevin Millwood (38)
    Jamie Moyer (50)
    Brett Myers (32) – $10MM vesting option with a $3MM buyout
    Ramon Ortiz (40)
    Roy Oswalt (35)
    Carl Pavano (37)
    Jake Peavy (31) – $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
    Brad Penny (35)
    Joel Pineiro (34)
    Anibal Sanchez (29)
    Jonathan Sanchez (30)
    Ervin Santana (30) – $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Joe Saunders (32)
    James Shields (31) – $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Chien-Ming Wang (33)
    Kip Wells (36)
    Jake Westbrook (35) – $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
    Randy Wolf (36) – $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Chris Young (34)
    Carlos Zambrano (32)

    • Noah

      It’s not just a matter of how much money you spend per player, but of how much production you get per roster spot. Hamels probably gives you much higher production out of a roster spot than Dempster or Liriano would.

      • bbmoney

        We aren’t going anywhere next year anyways. Why committ 6 years and $130M (which is what its going to take to sign a FA Hamels)? It just doesn’t make sense at this point. He could just as easily get hurt 3 years from now when we’re ready (ala Johan Santana – nice comeback this year notwithstanding). Pitchers are so prone to injury there is no reason to make that kind of commitment….yet. Talk to me again in 2 years once the team is on the verge and it’ll be a different story. Until then a mid level guy or two on a shorter deal makes sense just so that you can run someone decent out there and give whatever SPs you bring into the minors time to develop. Lots of names like that on the list that won’t cost that much.

    • Brendan

      I jut can’t see the White Sox dropping the 22 million on Peavy. He definitely could be there and likely for fewer years and much cheaper than Hammels of Greinke.

    • kubphan82

      Not sure what it would take but McCarthy would be my number one focus on that list. A long look at Anibal Sanchez. And I think the Cubs would sit down with Marcum.

      Forget Greinke/Hamels.

  • RoughRiider

    It wouldn’t be out of the range of possibility for the Cubs to sign a free agent pitcher or player this fall and then trade him to a contender for prospects at the deadline (assuming they aren’t competitive yet) or the following offseason.

  • LWeb23

    When Theo says it impacts the baseball plans, what he means is: until the deal gets done, and on terms at least modestly favorable to the Cubs, the baseball ops department isn’t going to have as much cash to work with as they might otherwise.

    Also, attracting potential free agents. Because as we all know, our player facilities SUCK.

  • rycott

    I know we desperately need pitching, but I was wondering about something.

    “We don’t even have one wave coming so we need to rebuild a lot of pitching depth.”

    With these types of comments by the FO (and basically everyone else), do you think that has an impact on the pitchers in the Cubs system? It seems like the guys in the minors could interpret this as “you all basically suck and very few if any will ever make it. That’s why we need a ton of new pitching prospects.” I guess it would make a lot of guys work harder, but that’s kind of harsh for a young kid to hear and could be discouraging. There has to be some type of psychological component to this either positive or negative.

    • Turn Two

      I think that is a very fair point.

    • kubphan82

      If they take that and dwell on it, then they’re the mentally fragile Marmol and Zambrano types we don’t need on the big league team… If they take it as motivation to prove themselves, then we’ll be pleasantly surprised when they do…

    • Luke

      The guys deep in the farm system will recognize (or be told) that they are just too far away for the major league team to count on. They could be a tsunami, but they so far off shore that they just don’t factor into decisions yet.

      The guys in the upper reaches of the farm should recognize by now what their expected role will be with the Cubs, and a lot of them know it will not be as a front of the rotation starter. That said, even in a partial wave (which Theo said they did have, if you read it that way) there will be some quality pitchers the front office is watching closely. The Cubs coaches can take that line with the prospects and probably not have anything to worry about.

      But I think these guys are more in touch with how they are regarded, how the organization as a whole is regarded, and what the analysts think of them than you give them credit for. I doubt Eric Jokisch, just to pick a name, would be shocked to learn that he is generally viewed as a potential back of the rotation starter. The good players should have a pretty good idea of how they measure up and what they need to do to continue to improve.

    • RoughRiider

      All that really means is that they want a few quality pitching prospects ready for major league service every year and that they don’t have evidence of that every year occurance. That doesn’t mean they don’t think they have good pitching prospects coming up, just that there aren’t enough. Lets face the facts, even in the best minor league systems, very few of the 40 plus players drafted every year make it to the majors and even fewer can be called good players.

  • kubphan82

    I’d rather the Cubs build a rotation from within, trading or drafting young talent, developing and promoting to the big league team with years of cost control. I’ve seen what signing Zito, Oswalt, Gil Meche, Dice-K, Peavy (not worth the 22 mil tho he’s rebounded), Lester, Mike Hampton, Kevin Millwood, Darren Dreifort, Kevin Brown, Danny Neagle, Chan Ho Park, MARK PRIOR, AJ Burnett (Yanks)… These deals more often than not FAIL.

    I don’t want the Cubs to be tied to FA busts that cripple further moves and production. We need to look for the Derek Lowe’s like the Dodgers back in 05, not Derek Lowe contract with BSox, perfect example of overpaying… Ted Lilly had a 10.4 WAR with the Cubs… Jason Marquis was a good value/contract for the Cubs…

    Some pitchers are overpaid to begin with, and others reach absurd agreements they’ll never live up to, while some will never pitch the same after a big deal… I’m good for the Cubs finding another Marquis/Lilly/Dempster/Maholm while grooming the next Lee/Hamels/Sabathia…

    • Ted

      It’s funny, I’m inclined to think the opposite about starting pitching. Filling rotation spots 2-5 isn’t terribly tough, but aces are so few and far between that when a guy like Hamels is on the market you spring at the chance to lock down number 1 for years.

      • kubphan82

        I’m not into predicting a players path through the majors… But the names I listed who received large contracts (except Prior never received that huge contract) were mostly expected aces, had ace potential, or had sustained success before a large contract failed to meet the demands of the contract.

        The teams who do well have these players their first 6 years or so… They had them, then someone else bought them off and paid dearly for it. It’s the mid-level talent in FA that actually signs just above or at their value and provides for teams.

        • Dougy D

          Don’t forget Zambrano (I want to put Soriano in there, but he’s obviously not a pitcher)

    • Frank

      I’m just a bit confused–the Cubs drafted Prior, and signed Lilly, Marquis and Maholm as free agents. So some free agent signings work out . . .

      • kubphan82

        I’m saying the BIG deals to pitchers should be avoided…. I’m saying keep looking for the Lilly/Marquis types.. Exactly what Theo was stating, he’ll be in on FA, as he should, but he’ll be looking for the right value and contract, which he should.

        Cole Hamels has now pitched about 200 innings (if he does this year) for the last 6 years. He had the last 3, including now, as fantastic years… He is a perfect candidate to be “The Next Zito” especially if he leaves Philly… Pitchers contracts have always been an issue, especially lately… The Cubs would be better off with finding and paying another Maholm/Lilly/Marquis either via trade or FA, and gather talent in the minors to produce our own Lee/Hamels.

        • Scotti


        • hansman1982

          Yes, there is a reason you don’t see many 10-year $200M+ contracts to pitchers. Injuries.

          What I would really like to see, is a side-by-side comparison of the last 10 years’ of the top-10% FA contracts and how they performed compared to the last 10 years of the top-10% prospects. I know, prospects bust A LOT but look at Crawford, Soriano, Zambrano, Lackey, Zito, Peavy, and more. I am sure I could come up with more but my brain is fried.

        • Frank

          Got it–that makes sense.

  • kubphan82

    In regard to big FA aces and making a splash don’t we all remember the chatter around wanting to trade for Peavy? Do we not remember what happened to Zito going from OAK to SF? How about everyone sold and wanting Lincecum? Only after a couple years after monster contracts and failure have either Zito/Peavy shown life, but they were definitely not worth Garza or Dempster money the past couple of years. Pavano and the Yanks… The list is disgusting…

    • Scotti

      That list and the list of big money Dominicans. Lot’s of hype yet they rarely are worth the contract…

  • ichabod

    the man is simply saying they could easily spend in FA and maybe have a couple good years, maybe. they would rather be patient and build the organiztion for sustained suscess and then spend. you know, what they should of done years ago and what we all want.

  • Big Joe

    Hamels to Chicago should be squashed…immediately. He will not come to Chicago, in his prime, to a rebuilding situation. I have never understood such speculation. Ever. The best example of “why”, is Matt Garza. Although Garza isn’t on par with Hamels, the comparison for “expected results” in there. “Hey, Mr. Hamels, would you like to come to Chicago, pitch the best years of your life, and finish your first couple seasons 12-10? I realize the team can’t score, and the bullpen will blow no less than five wins a season for you, but, whaddaya say?”

  • Mick

    With Votto going down, the division is still up for grabs for the Pirates, Cardinals, and Brewers taking Greinke off the market. Hamels and the Phillies are in the process of ironing out a 6-year $130 million deal, and living in Minneapolis and closely following the Twins, I see them extending Liriano too. What other SP is out there that can compete with what the Cubs have to offer? With that in mind, I say we play this thing out until the final hour bringing every team’s desperation offers to the table.

  • Cubs Dude

    I would imagine Theo is pretty apprehensive of signing big free agents. It really did go bad for him the last few years in Boston with that, which may be why he really wanted to come here. Just to get away from those turd contracts, and the anger that came along with it. Plus he can’t unload a prdocutive Soriano this year for a bag of balls. No one wants to be the guy that pays the Barry Zito’s of the world $126 mill. It’s a risky business. I believe in Theo and think he will learn from past mistakes, but I don’t blame him at all for not wanting to sign another John Lackey.

  • ColoCubFan

    Are there any big contracts to come off the books this year? Can’t remember any.

  • Edwin

    Zambrano. Dempster. If you’re curious about contracts, here is a great resource.

  • Seamhead

    Per MLB Trade Rumors, Olney and Stark say BoSox out on Dempster but still in on Garza, as they don’t want a two-month rental.

    If Dodgers have dropped out as well, that leaves Braves, Nats, Tigers and (maybe) Cards. That should still be enought to drive up the price, but suitors are dropping like flies, and Dempster still has to like his destination enough to waive no-trade clause. Braves as new favorites?

    • Mike S

      Since when did the Dodgers drop out of the Dempster race?

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