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These Bullets are “fight” free, as I’ll have some thoughts on last night’s scuffles coming later this morning.

  • Gordon Wittenmyer asked Dale Sveum to name the players currently on the roster that he’s confident will be on the roster Opening Day 2013. He could come up with only nine names: Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell, Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Darwin Barney, Matt Garza and Welington Castillo. No Carlos Marmol? No Travis Wood? Could have been mere oversights, or an acknowledgement that the Cubs will be shopping Marmol (they will), and could make huge changes in the rotation (I wouldn’t be willing to call Wood a lock, either, and I like Wood). And then there are young guys like Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, who very well could be back at AAA to start next year.
  • Dale Sveum on his ejection two nights ago (after home plate umpire Larry Vanover “eyeballed” him): “Sometimes it takes a lot for me to get that worked up about something. I am a very patient guy, so that’s one thing I’ve got going for me. But I’m not going to lie, patience can only go so far sometimes too. You do snap, but usually when I do it, not too many people are going to see it except maybe the individual.” I don’t think I’d like to see Sveum snap.
  • Sveum says the Cubs are working with Josh Vitters, but, so far, the youngster is having trouble translating what he learns with the coaches into his actual performance in the games. “I think it’s like anything, adjustments have to be applied in the game,” Sveum said, per ESPNChicago. “We can do all the batting practice and teaching all we want, but if it isn’t applied in the game. That’s where you have to start evaluating. Can people apply it and make adjustments on the fly in a game?” Nudge, Josh. Nudge.
  • Sveum says he doesn’t sleep all that well right now, but he’s not worried about how he’ll be evaluated after the season. Instead, Sveum says he’s just focused on teaching and keeping his coaches’ spirits up.
  • VFTB interviewed Jim Callis about the Cubs’ farm system, and Christian Villanueva, Juan Carlos Paniagua, Albert Almora, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and more come in for discussion. The most interesting bit is probably where Callis guessed – admitting it’s early – that Villanueva would crack the Cubs’ top 5 prospects when he gets around to ranking. Lock that into your memory bank for a prospect post coming later today.
  • The MLBullets at BCB discuss Brandon McCarthy’s brain surgery and recovery. All appropriate thoughts and/or prayers go out to him and his family. He took a line drive off of his head on Wednesday, in case you missed it (and, having seen it, let me suggest you are probably better off missing it).
  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Villanueva in the top 5? Wow.

    I’d not blink at Top 10, but top five is higher than I’d expect.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      My guess is he was shooting from the hip, and when he gives it a deeper look, Vill will settle down around 10.

      • Noah

        I’m not sure if that’s the case… Villanueva was number 9 for BA heading into the season in a much deeper Texas system, and while he didn’t increase his value in performance terms, his performance has stayed steady while moving up a level. He’ll be at Double A in his age 21/22 season next year, which is a good sign.

        Beyond that, while I think the Cubs’ top 4 prospects are very clear and a pretty impressive bunch (Almora, Baez, Soler, Vizcaino), after that aren’t you just in a situation where you have a ton of guys you could make arguments for with the number 5 slot, none of whom are wrong? Vogelbach has hit like crazy since games that counted started, but he’s still a bat only guy who hasn’t played full season ball. I’m a fan of Torreyes, but there is a legitimate projectability concern regarding any sort of ability to hit more than singles due to the size. Szczur has only succeeded in leagues he’s been too old to be a top prospect in, and has hit for no power. All the pitchers the Cubs drafted aren’t really far enough along. I think just as legitimate an argument for number 5 in the system could be made for Villanueva as anyone.

    • BD

      Maybe he isn’t considering Jackson. In that case, I’d say 1-4 is pretty locked up and 5-10 are probably interchangeable.

  • hansman1982

    Best wishes to McCarthy…hopefully he can recover and pitch well next year.

    • die hard

      Me too…recalled story of Herb Score…look it up…I met him in 1961 and we all were afraid to bring it up and he didn’t volunteer what it was like..ended his brilliant career..could have been one of the best….

  • Lifepainter

    I wouldn’t want to see Sveum snap either, but I think he has done a good job of refraining from completely “wigging out” this year. I read the Jim Callis interview also, I like when he is asked about what is left from the Jim Hendry days and he stated that their is no top level starting pitchers in the system. Hendry should have been fired years before. How Hendry was ever allowed to continue running a major league club has been a mystery to me.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      How Hendry was ever allowed to continue running a major league club has been a mystery to me.

      The people who held the power to fire Hendry also held the power to withhold money for amateur signing. All the evidence is that they did just that.

      Of course, Hendry is not entirely blameless. He was much to slow to realize that batting eyes and control were two true tools, and not something that could be learned easily. From the pitching perspective, that created an organization full of guys who walk a lot of opposing batters, and that has been a real Achilles’ Heel of the MLB club.

  • fortyonenorth

    I give a great deal of credit to the team physicians and other medical professionals who attended to McCarthy so quickly and professionally. I don’t know what time he got hit, but he was on the surgery table by 9:00 and, from what I’ve read, the timing made all the difference. I, too, hope he can come back and pitch, but first I’m just hoping he makes it through the next week. Unfortunately, he’s not out of the woods yet.

  • terencemann

    Thank God Volstad is not on that list. I <3 Sveum.

  • Dustin S

    Hoping for the best for McCarthy too. Always kind of pulled for him, even when he was on the Sox. I think it’s because he’s one of those guys that have been in quite a few trade rumors to the Cubs from time to time in past years. Not as bad as Brian Roberts did for a few years, but it does seem like his name has come up alot.

    As for Vitters, I haven’t seen anything yet this season that gave me any feeling at all that he will make it in the majors. But, I would like to see him start more consistently these last few weeks. There is no reason not to have him in there almost every day at this point. The one thing that gives me a little hope is how badly Rizzo struggled last year and turned it around this season. This all applies to Jackson too although he’s definitely showed more.

    In both cases if they really need at least another 1/2 season at AAA (or just bust), and the Cubs have said they aren’t going to be active in FA (which I agree with), it paints an ugly picture for 2013. I was hoping 2012 would be the bottom of the curve and 2013 would start the gradual trend up. A full season of Rizzo will help, and there should be some individual improvement with other guys, but just being honest as a longtime Cub fan I shudder to think about 2013. Dale might need anger management therapy after next season. But the team will eventually get there, and that’s what I’m excited for even if the light at the end of the tunnel is still pretty dim.

    • Noah

      I don’t know if saying the Cubs won’t be active in free agency is correctly stating what the Cubs said. Yes, the Cubs have at least strongly intimated they won’t be involved in the big name free agents. I’d be surprised to see them go after Greinke, for example. But I actually also wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to make a couple of moves similar to what they did this offseason. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Paul Maholm type brought in, or another David DeJesus type to play center field with a very tradeable contract while the Cubs have Jackson work on some things in Iowa.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Yes, the Cubs have at least strongly intimated they won’t be involved in the big name free agents

        The other issue is that there simply will not be many big name free agents out there. Of hand, David Wright and Josh Hamilton are the only “big names” of whom I can think who will be available. Hamilton will be snagged by a team thinking that it is one big slugger away from post-season. Wright is someone that could help the Cubs for a few years. However, a good hitting, good fielding 29 year old 3Bman can help a lot of teams for a few years, so expect the bidding on him to be strong.

        Among pitchers, who really good will be available? James Shields might be the best: and he’s both older than Garza and not as good as Garza.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      There is no reason not to have him [Vitters] in there almost every day at this point.

      Well, there is the view that this sort of failure has profound psychological effects and that Vitter’s confidence will be forever ruined. Indeed, if Vitters does not go on to have a decent MLB career, then many Cubs fans will assert that he was rushed and lost he confidence. Others will shrug and say that Vitters never had a batting eye and that his contact skills simply were not up to MLB pitching.

  • Frank

    Probably just talk, but if he plans on Soriano, DeJesus, and Garza being part of the 2013 opening day roster, I’m not sure how they can improve the 2013 team from the 2012 team without significant free agent additions.

    • Frank

      I would agree, except that I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping Garza. I see the point, though, that Garza is probably our most valuable trade piece. By the way, we are two different Franks–he’s not having a conversation with himself.

      • willis

        Garza won’t be traded I don’t think in the offseason because his value has taken a hit and the Cubs wouldn’t get back what he’s worth right now. He’ll be the opening day starter next season.

        So…

        Garza
        Shark
        ?
        ?
        ?

        If Wood is our 5th, I’m down with that. Need two to be 3 and 4.

        • bbmoney

          I gotta believe FA priority #1 for the Cubs is to sign a couple of guys for the rotation. They almost have to sign at least one. Would have loved McCarthy, praying he’s doing ok.

          Vizcaino is a candidate to step into the rotation once he’s ready, but I can’t believe that’ll be until at least June or July as the FO will probably be cautious with him…and who knows they might have to convert him into a reliever given his history of health issues.

  • donnie kessinger

    I agree with Frank…

  • Rizzo44

    We need to go get Chase Headley from the Padres. Also we need to pay Josh Hamilton to play Centerfield. Trade Marmol, LaHair, and DeJesus. Let Jackson play RF.
    Line up Jackson RF, Castro SS, (Hamilton CF FA), Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, (Headley 3B Trade), (Napoli C FA), Barney 2B
    Pitching Staff SP (Grenkie FA), Garza, Samardzija, (Haren FA), (Liriano FA)
    RP Wood, Russell, Volstad, Castillo, Corpas, Camp, (Howell FA)
    CP (Jonathan Broxton FA)
    Bring back Valbuena INF , (Reed Johnson FA) OF, (Mark DeRosa FA) INF/OF, Castillo C, Campana OF

    • cas-castro

      Bandaids do not work…

      • Rizzo44

        what wood be a bandaid here?

        • Rizzo44

          Would

    • JR

      The Cubs aren’t going to sign any big free agents. As painful as this is to watch, they have a plan and aren’t going to spend until they are ready to compete. And they sure as hell won’t be ready to compete next year. The only dude’s they sign will probably be trade bait at the deadline like Maholm was.

  • Fastball

    I exp ect a lot of free agent signings this off season along with some trades of lower level players to acquire additional talent. When you are the manager and can only come up with 9 names it makes it very clear what the direction will have to be this off season. I cannot see how Jackson or Vitters are anywhere near the 25 man roster going into next season. They wouldn’t even be getting a sniff at breaking into most systems rosters. We need to be a lot wiser as fans and realize the players we got right now are not good anywhere you want to put them. I can’t see anyone other than Russell and Marmol making any teams bullpen other than the Cubs. Starting pitchers are Garza, Shark and maybe Wood as a 5th starter. Castro, Barney, Rizzo and Castillo I can live with. DeJesus and Soriano will be in the OF because they have to be. I hope we can do a lot this off season. I’m not wanting to declare Castillo an everyday catcher because he looks like he needs a lot of work behind the plate. Theo Epstein has no choice but to look at FA’s he simply cannot put this team back out on the field next year. I know people on this site love Theo and he has enough rope to hang himself over and over again. He has to make some moves this off season that are key to the improvement of this organization. If he doesn’t we will have a team next year that doesn’t win 50 games if constructed as it is today. I don’t care if the Cubs have the 7th largest draw in ML baseball this year. People spending money on season tickets will keep buying them because the waiting list is a mile long. The people who go to Wrigley and travel a fair distance won’t make that trip if this team comes back. You can’t expect every fan of the Cubs to cheer for a loser as bad as this. There is nothing to cheer for at these games right now. Most Cubs fans are not into all the Sabremetrics and stats analysis and don’t care about any of that. They want to see their team win baseball games because they paid $70 a ticket or what ever to seem them win and not get blow out night after night.

    It would be one thing if we were bringing up young players who were going to have an impact on the team and continue to fuel progress. Rizzo was a spark for a month. The rest of these guys flat out stink and couldn’t start a forest fire with a blow torch.

  • willis

    Pretty much agree with Fastball. If there are no moves made to improve, this will maybe be a 50 win team. Maybe.

  • Fastball

    I agree with signing Josh Hamilton. I don’t agree with Jackson playing anywhere other than Iowa. He isn’t good enough to play in the Majors yet. I hope this sniff he is getting helps him improve. I wouldn’t make a trade for Chase Headley. Why send players from our farm system that already is in bad shape for a Chase Headley. Go sign David Wright he is going to be a FA and he is pissed at the Mets. He will cost some $$ but who cares he is one of the best 3B’s in baseball. You mix in a couple of Professional Baseball Players with these guys like Castro and Rizzo you could easily have something next year. We don’t have a 3B in our system above Daytona. We don’t have an OF above Knoxville who projects to be anything more than a 4th or 5th OFer. These guys would not block anyone in this organization for 3 years. And if they do start blocking someone you can trade them when the time comes. By the time any of the quality players in this organization are ready for the ML Ricketts will have a new TV contract like the Dodgers and Angels. Hell it doesn’t even matter what kind of money it costs because Ricketts is banking today and will be for a very long time. I have said it before. I don’t care if Ricketts makes a dollar in profit. That’s not the case and never will be. He can afford to put a winner on the field right now if he wanted too. He’s giving his dad all the money back he borrowed.

    • JR

      Considering the money that Hamilton is going to require and all the baggage he brings, he may be the biggest risk of FA ever. I don’t think the Cubs go anywhere near Hamilton..

      • Rizzo44

        I think they will and should.

  • Fastball

    He’s not a bad guy. He isn’t Carlos Zambrano or Sammy Sosa. He alone would make this team a producer of W’s. I don’t care if he has a guy sleeping on the floor in his hotel room to make sure he doesn’t wander off in the middle of the night. He isn’t a bad personality and he isn’t a cancer. He is a good teammate and one of the best producers in baseball. If we don’t sign him someone will and he will make them extremely difficult to beat. So if he signs with Milwaukee the Cubs will never beat Milwaukee in the standings from that day forward. Same with the Cardinals. Then what if he does sign with the Brewers or Cardinals. How do we come up with something to compete against that. We don’t not for a long time.

    • JR

      I know he’s not a bad guy, or a psycho like Zambrano. But that dude has already been very injury prone, and will be 32 next year. Signing him would be the exact opposite of everything the FO has done this year.

      • Rizzo44

        No It wouldn’t they have to get a difference maker soon and 32 isn’t old he will produce another 4 or 5 years. Hes worth the risk.

        • JR

          We’ll see I guess. I just don’t see them paying a guy 25 mill. next year when they know they are not ready to compete. I like Hamilton a lot, but don’t see it.

          • Rizzo44

            I hope they pull off some big moves this winter!

        • Drew7

          “No It wouldn’t they have to get a difference maker soon and 32 isn’t old he will produce another 4 or 5 years”

          He will produce, but probably nowhere close to the level he’s produced at the last couple of years. He is on the back-end of most players’ peak years, and he misses dozens of games every year.

          A Hamilton signing would be Epstein doing exactly what he said he wouldn’t do: Pay for past performance and pay top dollar in years of decline.

          • Rizzo44

            You have no idea how he will produce. Only God knows that. You have to play big or go home. Chicago is a large market team. Theo will spend money he proved that in Boston. He will spend money in Chicago as well. Hamilton for CF 2013. I’m starting the campaign now!!!

            • Drew7

              “You have no idea how he will produce. Only God knows that”

              Right – There is only over 100 years of data that tells us nearly every player that has ever played professionally peaked from around age 27-32 (most DIDN’T abuse there body with heavy drug and alcohol).

              So actually, yes – I do have an idea of how he will produce, and it won’t be at the level you’re gonna have to pay him.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Also, that is a theologically dubious statement, unless you are a supralapsarian Calvinist!

              • Rizzo44

                Its funny that you say that because most hitters keep hitting until about the age of 36-37 so your prime is more like 25-35, so idk where you get your facts.

                • Chris

                  Are you looking at steroid-era numbers? Go back to the ’80s. Guys didn’t hit into their age 36 or 37 seasons as you are suggesting. And if you didn’t see one of the other comments made earlier, do you think this FO will sacrifice a 2nd round draft pick to sign Hamilton? He’ll be a Type A free agent, and that’s what it will take. My guess is no. So it’s kind of a moot point. This FO will not sacrifice draft picks, 2nd overall in the 2nd round no less, to sign 30-something veterans at this stage of the rebuilding plan. They aren’t even a full 12 months on the job yet. The plan won’t change that drastically.

                  • Rizzo44

                    Well this FO will never sign a good FA then in your mind. DA. You people have got to have your heads in the clouds.

                    • Chris

                      Now me thinks you be trolling a bit… I’ll let you get somebody else.

              • Kyle

                “Right – There is only over 100 years of data that tells us nearly every player that has ever played professionally peaked from around age 27-32 (most DIDN’T abuse there body with heavy drug and alcohol).”

                That’s really not true. It’s actually multiple levels of not true.

                1) Most players who play professional peak in their teens and early 20s. Those are the players who wash out and never make it to the majors.

                2) The most common peak for players who become established major leaguers is a bit earlier than that, something like 24-28.

                3) No matter what the most common peak, it varies so wildly that you can’t really say “almost every” major leaguer has peaked at any specific point in their career.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Where have you been, by the way, Kyle?

                  • Kyle

                    Here, there and everywhere. It’s a long season. You can’t be contrary 162 days in a row. You have to pace yourself.

                    • TWC

                      You can’t be contrary 162 days in a row.

                      Oh, yes you can!

                    • Ogyu

                      No, you can’t. ;-)

                • Drew7

                  Man, I had almost forgotten these type of replies.

                  It should have read: most big-leguers’ prime years are around ages 27-32.

                  If the age range is wrong, my mistake. “Multiple levels of wrong” seems a bit over-the-top though, since points 1&3 were semantics. I have a feeling you knew what I was getting at, though.

                  Good to have you back, Kyle.

                  • Kyle

                    Good to be back!

                    No. 1 was a bit semantic, but No. 3 was an important point. But the main point is that peaks are quite a bit earlier than traditionally thought.

                    • Drew7

                      Fair enough.

                      I think we can agree that, if the Cubs signed Hamilton, they’d be paying big money for a player most likely headed towards a decline.

        • Chris

          This would be the equivalent to signing Soriano. While he might still have his moments, it’s not the right time for them to sign a guy like Hamilton. They should have kept him instead of draft him for the Reds in Rule V, back when he was 25. I understand your position Rizz, but there is no way this FO is spending big money on guys like this for 2013. Maybe we’ll see a free agency spend of significance in 2014, but it’s more likely to be 2015. If they were going to spend the money next year, they would have been better off keeping a guy like Maholm. And maybe even Dempster. Since they didn’t, I think it’s pretty clear what the plan is. Sorry to burst your bubble. Look for a similar approach to 2013 free agency as there was in 2012. And given that they did trade a guy like Maholm, after signing him a few short months prior, I have to wonder if they are going to have a hard time getting veterans like that to sign cheap deals, only to get traded at the deadline. I would guess some guys won’t like that.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            They should have kept him instead of draft him for the Reds in Rule V, back when he was 25.

            Again, Hamilton’s was never the Cubs to keep. They essentially traded the draft pick that netted Hamilton, and the Cubs never would have drafted Hamilton on their own.

            • Chris

              Not sure what the point was of trying to correct me on this one. They can’t trade Rule V picks, so they took the player and then traded him to the Reds for cash. I was only saying they should have taken him to keep rather than trade him. That’s with hindsight being 20/20. Clearly if they wanted him, they would have kept him, so saying they were never going to draft him on their own doesn’t seem necessary. I was just trying to say the time for them to have acquired Hamilton was then, not now.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    A Hamilton signing would be about as stupid a move that could be made.

  • Stu

    The present management will not change course unless they have to. Why would they?

    If I have a business that people are irrationally attached to and will pay top dollar for anything I through at them, I will laugh all the way to the bank.

    You can bash Hendry all you want, but we went to the postseason twice. Should have won in 2003.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      i agree jim hendry please come back fire theo tomorrow.(insert tongue in cheek i hope!)

    • Eric

      Actually, we went to the postseason 3 times.

      It still amazes me that Cubs fans want the team to overpay for big name free agents when we are not close to being competitive. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place. Signing Fielder or Pujols last year would not have done us any good. Signing Hamilton at the dollars and years we is going to be offered with his age and other risk factors would be beyond idiotic. It’s best to let those thoughts go.

      The team is atrocious and this is quite painful. I live a block from Wrigley and a good friend has season tickets so I know how bad it is firsthand. A complete rebuild is that right way to go and I have no doubt the front office will spend the money when it makes sense. Until then we are going to have to be patient and look for positives where we can, as painful as that will likely be.

      • Rizzo44

        Nope thats a No balls attitude. You have to sign players when you can its that simple. Soriano has not hurt the Cubs overall. You people blame this all on one or two players. Them team sucks not just one or two players. Theo so far has only helped the A and AA ball nothing more. We have zip for pitching in AAA or the Bigs for that matter. Jeff is the best pitcher we have as a SP. Graza will be traded at the deadline next year if healthy. We need depth and we need good FA signs that simple. Pay to play or go home.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I hope you’re not paying.

        • Eric

          It has nothing to do with balls and everything to do with common sense.

          • Rizzo44

            Well your common sense just flew out the window. As a GM you have to have Balls as well. Billy Bean proved that with the A’s. I’m not saying you have to spend 300M but you have to go get better players than DeJesus, Volstad (via trade), and Mather. Those moves didn’t do much we could have won as many games without them as we did with them.

            • Flashfire

              Who should we sign?

              Hamilton is a terrible idea because waving Wrigleyville under his nose screams “relapse” and we’d lose our second round pick.

              So who else?

              • Rizzo44

                Hamilton, Grenkie, bring Reed Johnson back, Chase Headley in a trade, Jake Peavy if the Sox let him walk, Francisco Liriano (move to the national league might help), Brandon McCarthy, and Mike Napoli. I’m not saying sign them all but pick a few.

                • Flashfire

                  Hamilton, Greinke both cost us a draft pick. Any trade for Headley is Baez and an arm — likely Vizcaino. So we’re looking at Liriano — who I think they will pursue — Napoli — who takes playing time from Castillo — and McCarthy.

                  Really, how much better does that lineup make us?

                  • Rizzo44

                    A lot better if you get Headley, Hamilton, and Grenkie. Napoli is just more O. McCarthy would be a good move and Liriano would also. Just my opinion.

                    • Flashfire

                      Absolutely insane to give up that many prospects for a team deep in rebuilding. You’re willingly giving away: your top prospect (and only top 50 prospect), your top pitching prospect, and the 32nd pick (a Pierce Johnson-esque pitcher) for 3 guys on the downside of their career.

        • Chris

          Rizz, progress in the low minors this season is all we could hope for at this point. If they wanted to sign free agents, they could have kept Hendry for that exercise. I agree they need to pay for top talent when they are contending, but trying to buy top talent so they can contend is foolish. If there were all stars avalable in the free agent market that would fill 7 or 8 positions on this team, as well as 4 Cy Young-caliber pitchers to put with Samardzija, then fine, open the check book. But there isn’t. And there won’t be. They need to build a nucleus from within and then add on to fill any gaps they have via free agency or by acquiring talent from small market teams for prospects that they groom through the system. Investing in free agency is not the way to go, unless you are convinced that the player(s) signed will lead you to a WS ring. Otherwise save the money and spend it when that opportunity exists. Spend it on hiring more scouts, signing good young players to long-term deals, acquiring international free agents, draft pick signing bonuses, paying for Wrigley improvements, the Dominican Academy, or any other smart investment that gives a foundation to build on for future seasons.

          • Rizzo44

            There will never be that many at one time you have to mix what you have with better players. He proved that in boston. You people dont look at what the track record is when you talk do you??? Theo will spend money when its time and if he thinks a good FA is out there he will spend the money. We went to the postseason 3 times under Hendry so he did something correct. Some of you Cubs fans have no idea what your talking about. We need players difference makers and Hamilton is just that. You arent going to get many FA under the age of 30 with the new rules so those days are over. Your going to have like a 3 year window with FA’s to win so you need to get them while you can and hope the Stars line up that simple. We aren’t the Rays… Cubs fans aren’t going to stand for 6 or 7 years of crap to get a good farm team. You people are so closed-minded.

            • hansman1982

              3 times in 10 years when you’re the big fish in the NL central should not be good; doubly so when you have a lower-middle of the pack farm system. The offseason theo had last year is precisely what he did in Boston from 03-08. Get guys you think are cheap and can do better with a tweak or two.

              Even when he went nuts it was on Gonzalez and Crawford. Two guys that were really good when he signed them. I think if Pujols was available at the same age in 2014 we would have landed him but when you’re gonna pay him for 3 years of his prime to hope to be in contention is foolish and this applies to a lot of free agents. We needed and still need a lot to get into contention so why piss 2-3 years of that money down your leg?

              • Rizzo44

                Because they have nothing coming in 2-3 years. We have no pitching. It’s that simple. Look at the 100 player rankings. That isn’t going to change in 2-3 years with the arms we have now they suck.

                • Flashfire

                  2014: Shark, Paniagua, Vizcaino. Pierce Johnson might be ready halfway through the season. Ditto Appel. And free agents. We’re not loaded, and it’s going to take some luck, but it isn’t quite as bleak as you make it sound.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  In 2 to 3 years? Surely you noticed how many of the arms in the top 100 were drafted or signed in 2010, 2011, and 2012, right? Like, pretty much all of them.

                  • Rizzo44

                    Well thats to say we get Arms. We need everything.

                  • Rizzo44

                    Most of there ETA is 2014-2016 ours would then be 2016-2018 ETA.

                    • Flashfire

                      So the F be it. Wouldn’t you rather be the 2012 Washington Nationals than the 2008 Chicago Cubs?

                    • Chris

                      Rizz, you know they can make trades for arms too, right? It doesn’t have to be just free agency. If they get to a point where the offense is ready to contend, but they need some pitching, I fully expect to see deals be made. And that’s the reason you build your farm system. It’s not to only get guys to the majors. You have to have a strong farm system in order to acquire talent in trades. That’s why a team like the Rangers can go and get a Dempster. They gave up 2 guys that weren’t extremely high on their prospect list and picked up a quality starting pitcher.

            • Chris

              I agree 6-7 years is too long. But 10 months is too short. They are going to rebuild the team, like it or not, and it’s going to take 3-4 seasons of sub .500 ball to get to where they want to be. My point of signing 7 free agents right now is it makes NO sense to start spending big dollars, and sacrificing draft picks, when you are drafting at the top of a round. If they squeak out a .500 or better season in 2 years, maybe that’s where you start to think that way. But a Hamilton signing will never happen. They would have brought back Ramirez, kept Dempster, and kept Maholm if that was the way they wanted to go. I’m not closed minded. When Hendry was here and they were in contention, I was screaming for them to make bigger moves for difference makers. But this team is not one difference maker away. And with each season that passes, one difference maker becomes an overpaid veteran. Hamilton showed signs of breaking down THIS season. And he’s always been injury prone. At the same age, Soriano didn’t have ANY injury problems. They give him a big deal and all of a sudden he has a bad hammy. Then it turns into a bad knee. And while he hasn’t been completely awful, his contract did prevent them from seriously considering other big-time free agent signings since he arrived. Then you factor in Hamilton’s other “issues”. I just don’t think this move is a smart move now. If we were in the same situation, 3 years from now, where he’s still 32 and the Cubs have Castro, Rizzo, Soler, Jackson, Baez, all playing key roles, I’d consider the timing better. But not now. Don’t know why I’m trying to convince you though. It’s not going to happen regardless of how good your argument is.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        That’s what got us into this mess in the first place

        Actually, it really is not.

        • hansman1982

          Really the only truly terrible franchise cropping contract of Hendrys was Soriano.

          • Kyle

            And that contract hasn’t been near as bad as people seem to insist on believing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thrice, but who’s counting?

  • Fastball

    why because he cost $$. It’s not my checkbook or anyone else’s. Ricketts isn’t broke. It’s not going to keep Theo from drafting well and signing IFA’s. All of that part of the business is capped now. These guys know exactly what they can spend and so do the agents representing the amateurs in the drafts. That should make it easier to spend money on FA’s because they know exactly what their cost of doing business is going to be on the draft side. It’s not that much money either. You have to draft well every year and sign the players you draft. FA’s are a very large part of doing business. The Players Association and Owners have made it clear that $$ are going to have to spent on FA’s because they have put such strict parameters around $$ to be invested on amateurs. Signing FA’s has no impact on the Cubs ability to draft and improve the farm system.

    I can see this now. This off season Soriano will demand a trade if Epstein doesn’t bring in some above average FA’s. We will get next to nothing in return for Soriano and then we lose a large percentage of the production on this team. Then we have no LFer and our win projection next year fall below 50 games.

    • Rizzo44

      Agreed. Soriano has had a good year. For those of you who think he hasn’t look at his numbers. Will be one of the best in RBI’s he’s ever had. Soriano wants to win so I say bring in Hamilton and all the pitching they can get. The FA class isn’t deep this year or next. I hope they spend money and stay at 120M payroll! They have the money and they want to win. Hamilton wouldn’t block anyone and you have to sign players not for just next year even if your not gonna win until 2014. If they don’t make some major moves we will all see another year just like this one.

      • Eric

        Now the logic is bring in an overpriced free agent who can break down at any time because another overpriced free agent in Soriano wants to win? If Soriano valued winning over comfort he would have agreed to go to San Francisco last month. I respect Soriano and how hard he has worked this year and he has been very productive, regardless of his contract. But you don’t compound that mistake by making another one.

        Look, if we weren’t going to lose 100 games this year and we had more young, established talent ready to win and it looked like we were one bat away I’d be all about going after Hamilton regardless of the risk. The state the team is in now it just doesn’t make any sense to me.

        • Chris

          Well said Eric. Another quick point… The Cubs would lose their 2nd round pick if they signed a Type A player like Hamilton. This FO will NOT sacrifice a 2nd round pick, 2nd overall, to get a veteran player.

          • Rizzo44

            Your wrong.

          • Kyle

            Then this front office sucks. A 2nd-round pick for a quality major league player is a complete steal.

            • Flashfire

              The Nationals got Jordan Zimmerman with the Cubs second round pick after losing Soriano. Which player do you think they would rather have right now?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I’m not saying I agree or disagree, but Soriano was a pretty important part of the Cubs’ 2007 and 2008 playoff teams. Folks always seem to forget that. And, since the playoffs are a crapshoot, that’s really all you can ask for.

                • Flashfire

                  Honestly, given where the Cubs were and the Nationals were — it made sense for both teams. What I’m saying, given where the Cubs are now, would they rather sign a Soriano type and lose the chance at a Jordan Zimmerman, or keep the second pick to try to get a guy who can be a rotation mainstay for years.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Definitely a fair question, but, when you want a particular free agent, I just can’t see the loss of a pick – especially a second rounder – scaring them off. The Jordan Zimmermann’s are quite the exception. And, heck, even he could fall off before he becomes an established, long-term big leaguer.

                    • Flashfire

                      I guess my question back would be: given how awful the Cubs are, and how awful they figure to be next year, what free agent could give them a long-term return better than the #32 pick? Since everyone seems to agree that we’ll be competitive in 2015 (I’m doubting that after the Nationals series), that would be like signing Soriano and wasting his 2007 and 2008 seasons. (Which were two of his best as a Cub.)

                • Flashfire

                  Sorry, that was unclear. “they” = Nationals.

              • Kyle

                That’s a bit of an unfair question. Besides the cherrypicked example, you are asking which player I’d rather have going forward, because you know most of Soriano’s value has already been used.

                I’d probably take Soriano’s career from the point of his signing through retirement over Jordan Zimmerman’s, if I had to choose today. It’s close, though.

                So even with almost a best case scenario for the second-rounder and a rather disappointing period for Soriano, it’s close at best and I’d lean toward Soriano.

                You may also note that out of the 30 players picked in the second round that year, only two have become established major leaguers: Zimmerman and Stanton. There are a few still borderline cases, and about two-dozen total busts. The second round of the MLB draft is not a particularly impressive place to be drafted, and the prognosis is usually pretty mediocre, at best.

        • Rizzo44

          You have to go get more talent not just Hamilton. Headley is a prime example give up something they want but get the long term answer at 3B locked down now. Sign a Grenkie and a few other pitchers. Its simple we sucked this year and they have to spend money to get better. Chicago is a large market team with tons of money… I trust Theo and what he’s doing, but he better get to signing some better names this fall. He has players that were trade bait that he couldn’t even trade so that was a big mistake by the FO in my opinion. They need to make better moves and they waited to late to make those deals. The have money they proved that by saying hey will send Soriano off and pay most of the contract. They need players like Hamilton and a deep pitching staff because this year is proof we have only 1 or 2 SP thats all.

          • King Jeff

            YOU PEOPLE don’t agree with me so “your wrong”, “you’ve got your heads in the clouds”, “you are closed-minded”, oh, and you have “NO BALLS”. Stupid Kool Aid drinkers.

            • BeyondFukudome

              Seems to me that 99% of what Rizzo44 wrote was discussion about baseball and your response is 100% focused on the other 1% (which is really pretty tame, anyway).

              • King Jeff

                Seems to me like you don’t care what the conversation is or who’s involved, as long you can come in and try to put your negative spin on it. It was a joke, and I’m sorry you don’t have a sense of humor.

                • BeyondFukudome

                  “It was a joke” and “you don’t have a sense of humor” — the last refuge of the lame.

                  • King Jeff

                    Contribute something besides trying to pick a fight with someone for once, and have a great day.

  • Fastball

    I have to say this about throwing at a batter and it doesn’t matter which one. When a team hits 12 HR’s in 2 games the pitchers have to send a message that you are not going to be comfortable in the batters box anymore. You will be diving in the dirt and doing all kinds of gymnastics but you won’t be standing in there taking home runs cuts at anything. I pitched a lot and if somebody hit a long foul ball of me he was getting a wake up pitch and he wasn’t locking on me again. That’s a pitchers job. These guys who stand out there and throw gofer balls all the time are not pitchers they are throwers. Big difference between the 2. It’s obvious the Cubs have a bunch of throwers. At least Lendy had the balls to do what should have been done without being told. Nobody ever had to tell me to knock a hitter on his ass. I knew what my job was. If somebody is disrespected on my team then the other team is going to find out that it hurts like hell getting beaned with a 4 seam fastball.

  • Stu

    If Washington or any other team plays the game and runs up the score, so be it. If the Cubs don’t like that a team wants to win every game with the maximum number of runs, what can they do about it?

    Get some players in there that can play. If that means overpaying a few players to be more competitive, do it. I think there is going to be more of this over the next couple of years. Whatever happened to discipline, playing the game the right way that was preached by the Messiah (Theo)?

  • Kyle

    “I guess my question back would be: given how awful the Cubs are, and how awful they figure to be next year, what free agent could give them a long-term return better than the #32 pick?”

    It won’t be the No. 32 pick for one thing. With competitive balance picks, it won’t be higher than No. 38. Supplemental picks could push it a few spots farther back.

    Almost *any* decent free agent would likely give us more return than the No. 38 pick.

    Of the 25 players selected No. 38 overall between 1982 and 2006:

    16 (64%) never appeared in a major league game.
    2 (8%) made some appearance but have a negative career WAR

    So that’s 72% right off the top who were worthless.

    4 (16%) became part-time players with positive WARs
    3 (12%) became long-term useful players (David Wright, Kelly Johnson, Gio Gonzalez).

    We need to get a grip about draft picks. The ones outside the first round are nice lottery tickets, but they are nothing to get worked up about and should never stand in the way of acquiring a player you want.

    • Flashfire

      So you’re saying there’s an 8% chance of that pick being Gio Gonzalez or David Wright for a team in a full rebuild — not to mention worse picks in the 2014 and 2015 before we’re ready to compete — and we should ignore that to get the worst years of Josh Hamilton’s career when we make a run for it. Not to mention it is — theoretically, anyway — a better chance for us because Tim Wilken is better at picking talent than other talent evaluators. (Pierce Johnson was 43rd. He may not work out. I would rather have him than have, say, Prince Fielder on the team.)

      I’m not against FA signings. I just don’t see what the Cubs possibly want to get out of signing Josh Hamilton (or any top FA this year). It would have been very similar to the Nationals re-signing Soriano in 2007. How catastrophic would that decision have been given the countercase?

      • Kyle

        I’m not saying anything about Josh Hamilton specifically.

        I am saying that an 8% chance to get a David Wright or Gio Gonzalez is not remotely a good enough reason to pass on a potentially strong major leaguer (who, if you wanted to, you could later flip for a more advanced prospect with a much better chance of panning out than a draft pick). If you want Josh Hamilton, letting a 2nd-round pick talk you out of it is absurd.

        Counterfactual history is always tricky. What would have happened if the Nats had signed Alfonso Soriano? Well, they would have had a pretty amazing left fielder for at least one or two years, and a good for beyond that. Maybe they add another pitcher or two and win the division in 2007, going on to win the World Series. Maybe they flip him that offseason for an amazing package of prospects and still manage to bottom out in 2008 and beyond to get those sweet No. 1 overall picks.

        • Flashfire

          I guess we disagree. When you are as awful as the Cubs are, and 8% chance at David Wright is a lottery ticket you have to take. You’re building the team 3 years in the future and, what you need, is 100 guys who have an 8% chance of being David Wright. Giving up one of those lottery tickets for a sure thing tomorrow — and a sure thing to be much worse in 3 years — is a mistake.

          And your argument on the Nationals doesn’t work — if they’d actually made it to the World Series in 2007, it would have involved a lot more than just one pitcher added to Soriano. (They were 73-89 that year. It takes a lot to make them competitive.) You would then have to move EVERYONE over the offseason (ask Theo how much fun that can be), including Soriano, who would have a no-trade clause because the Nationals would have had to beat the Cubs offer.

        • Flashfire

          And, also, you have to BEAT the Cubs offer to keep him. So, in winter 2007, who in their right mind would have taken that contract on? You would have had to essentially pay the entire $150 million contract to ship him out of town in order to lose. And that may have been enough to prevent the Werth signing when you really were ready to compete.

  • mudge

    I don’t agree that the playoffs are “a crapshoot.” It’s interesting to watch how a team performs under pressure, and yes it does have something to do with “scrappy” and “clutch” and character and some other unmeasurable things that don’t show up in metric systems. The Cubs didn’t get swept out for no reason. This is what fascinates me about the game, the psychological aspects. When a team looks scared or cocky in the dugout before a series, they generally lose. Winners are serious and calm. They relax into being part of something that’s bigger than they are. This is what I was saying about Moises Alou’s reaction to Bartman – I think his selfish temper tantrum had a lot to do with Alex Gonzalex tightening up and blowing the ground ball. Those events are connected.
    As far as “having balls” goes, Theo and Jed are gutting a team in a major market. You might not like it, but they do it for long term benefits knowing it will draw fire. Isn’t that the definition of courage?

    • Drew7

      The Cubs got swept in 2008 because they fizzled down the stretch, and the Dodgers came in on a roll; that has much more of an impact than “scrappy factor” or “clutch factor (or myth)”

      • chirogerg

        What you just described is the Dodgers winning because of the scrappy and clutch factors

        • Drew7

          Sorry, but no. Being on a hotstreak means winnin. Im actually not sure how that relates to being scrappy at all.

      • Spriggs

        They were on such a great roll – that the Phillies beat them 4 out 5 right after that.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yes, but the Phillies were very nearly as hot as the Dodgers.

          Three times in four, the opening round is won by the team that played better in the last month of the season. Here’s the breakdown:
          [img]http://img810.imageshack.us/img810/2163/divisionalseriesrd2011.jpg[/img]
          (Last year’s series are in dark red.) No “scrappy” or “clutch” is involved: the team playing better over the last few weeks tends to win. Oh, and each of the Cubs opening rounds is on the right side of the histogram.

          • Spriggs

            And the year before in 2007, the Cubs got swept by the “on a roll” D’Backs – who in turn got swept by the “on a roll” Rockies, who in turn got swept by the “rolling” Red Sox. It’s a sad sack excuse to use when you get SWEPT.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Well, remember that if all best-of-5 series were between completely evenly matched teams, one quarter of those series would be sweeps. If all best-of-7 series were between evenly matched teams, then one eighth would be sweeps.

              Of course, in ’07, that was not the case in most of the sweeps. Only the DBacks and Cubs were close to playing at the same level in September: the Rox vs. Phils was way on the right side, and the Rox vs. DBacks would have been if we added LDS series to this.

          • Drew7

            Umm…obviously those teams put up that big of a run-differential by out-scrappying the opposition.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          huh, it didn’t fit the graphic. Just click on:

  • die hard

    Whoa!!!!…Sveum hasnt earned the right to call out players like that…naming names already for 2013….Thats grounds to fire his butt…I am sure he didnt have clearance from upstairs…maybe he did because hes already received his exit visa

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