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There’s still eight games left in the season, but there are some good bits rolling around the Lukewarm Stove this week …

  • A source “familiar with the team’s thinking” tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez that the Angels’ preference, as things stand, is to try to lock up Zack Greinke, and let Dan Haren and Ervin Santana walk, each of whom has a pricey team option. Each has been pitching well of late, but is struggling through a disappointing year (Santana – 76 ERA+, 5.43 FIP; Haren – 86 ERA+, 4.29 FIP). Of course, Haren has, before this season, been consistently good, and Santana has, on and off, had some nice seasons in his career. If you were betting on whom the Cubs are more likely to target this Winter, you’d have to go with Santana. Haren is the better bet to succeed, but he’s also 32, and will likely get a three or four year deal for decent money – not necessarily the kind of guy the Cubs would try and sign with the thought they could spin him off. Santana, on the other hand, turns 30 in December, and might be forced to settle for a shorter-term deal – and obviously one for considerably less cash than Haren. Given his age, the Cubs could hold onto him for a few years and see what’s what, or they could hope for a significant first-half bounce-back in 2013, and spin him off at the deadline. In any event, Haren and Santana coming onto the market would be good news for the Cubs: the more free agent pitching on the market the better for teams like the Cubs who are obviously going to pursue pitching.
  • You may or may not recall that (1) the Cubs traded Jeff Baker to the Tigers in August for a couple PTBNLs, and (2) the Tigers subsequently traded Baker to the Braves for a PTBNL. Well, the PTBNLs coming to the Cubs haven’t yet been settled (might not be until the end of October), but the Tigers just got their PTBNL, and the good news is that it isn’t a total, complete non-prospect. It’s just a really, really fringe-y guy – Greg Ross, a recently-turned-23-year-old righty who just finished his first full pro season in A-ball. Decent peripherals (2.7 BB/9, 7.3 K/9), so-so core numbers (4.60 ERA, 1.420 WHIP). The point here is not that the return on Baker is going to be terribly exciting for the Cubs, but that it might not be nothing. That’s what Ross is: better than nothing. Heck, the Cubs might wind up with Ross.
  • There’s still a PTBNL outstanding for Geovany Soto, too, you’ll recall. That one could also just wind up being cash.
  • Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and among his thoughts … (1) Kevin Youkilis doesn’t make sense for the Cubs on a short-term deal, mostly because Youk wouldn’t want to do it – he’s going to want to be on a contender at his age; (2) Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena are more likely to be back next year than Shawn Camp, Manny Corpas, or Joe Mather (yup); (3) Junior Lake could get a look at third soon (maybe mid-season next year? Seems like he’s still got a long way to go before that would happen at the big league level); (4) the Cubs would consider dealing Darwin Barney this offseason if the right deal came along, but they really like his defense and “intangibles”; (5) Bruce expects the Cubs to sign two veteran starting pitchers in the offseason (“flexible” types who aren’t going to break the Cubs’ bank – I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Travis Wood type come in trade, too); (6) Josh Vitters could be trade bait, despite his awful experience in the bigs this year; (7) Tim Lincecum could be a target for the Cubs next offseason, if he pitches well in 2013; (8) Matt Garza is untradable until at least Spring Training, when he can show teams he’s healthy; and (9) Bruce reiterates his belief that he doesn’t see the Cubs bringing Ian Stewart back at any price next year, due to not only his poor performance, but what Bruce suggests was poor effort.
  • Bryan LaHair still expects to be a part of the Cubs in 2013, per CSNChicago: “I look at it as I’m a Chicago Cub. I plan on being back here next year. I’ve said before: Until I hear from Theo and Jed and those guys that I’m not a part of this, then I plan on being back. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be at this point. I’m obviously a pretty good asset to have, still. Once the bell rings again at the start of [next] season, we’re going to be fighting for a playoff spot and I’m a pretty good option to have in the lineup. So we’ll just see how it plays out, see what happens this offseason. And then once I come to Spring Training, I plan on being part of the team …. First of all, I couldn’t even consider Japan unless Theo allowed me to consider Japan, you know what I mean? I’m not quite sure he’s going to do that. He could have done that last year. He didn’t want to do it. I’m in the same situation, except for now I think I’m a more proven hitter than I was last year.” Love the attitude (and the work ethic: LaHair says he plans on studying every single at bat he had this year in the offseason), but I just don’t see it.
  • Jon Heyman ranks the top deals of the deadline, in terms of how well they turned out for the acquiring team. Dempster to the Rangers came in at number 7, and Maholm to the Braves at number 14.
  • JulioZuleta

    It’s weird how trades now have an “acquiring team”. I love stock piling prospects, but I wish there were still a few of those proven-playe- for-provern-player trades of yesteryear. They rarely occur anymore in MLB, or the NFL for that matter.

    • TWC

      Um… you miss out on that Dodgers/Red Sox trade last month?

      • JulioZuleta

        I guess James Loney wasn’t exactly the caliber of player I was referring to. But no, I did not miss that. That trade was all about money. I’m talking about the kind of trade where it’s just two real good players being traded based on the needs of the teams.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Seems like the modern structure of contracts/arb/pre-arb renewal did serious damage to those kind of trades. Really hard to find equivalent value where each team’s needs are met. There was a big one a few years ago, but the details are eluding me…

          • DarthHater

            There was a big one a few years ago, but the details are eluding me…

            Brock-Broglio? :-D

          • JulioZuleta

            I guess the Soriano + for A-Rod deal was similar, but Sori was still young and I would still say money was a huge factor in that. There was Hamilton for Volquez, but neither had reached star status yet at all. Manny for Jason Bay?? There have been a few, but there hasn’t been a trade of two stars in their prime in a while.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Hamilton/Volquez was what I was thinking of.

    • hansman1982

      I think that is because acquiring teams know that the prospects they give up are likely to flame out. If they have a proven asset why would a contending team give that up at the deadline?

      You see a few of them in the winter but I think this may be a remembering bias towards the big name deals of yesteryear (not that I am not guilty of that myself)

  • ETS

    when does san diego get their PTBNL from the cubs?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sense I’m getting is “never.” No one really knows.

      • JulioZuleta

        Maybe it was that Korean OF Na that went with Cashner. You’d think they would just settle it as part of a trade like that when it’s easy to throw someone minor in and call it a day.

  • Mick

    Question: Could the Angels decline Sanatana’s or Haren’s options but still offer them a qualifying offer in order to recieve draft pick compensation if they sign someplace else?

    Interesting idea on signing Santana is that he’s besties with Francisco Liriano. If we’re in the market for a couple of veteran SPs, this might be an angle the Cubs could take. I’m not too sure of the level of bromance but watching the Twins-Angels series on TV earlier this season, the announcers wouldn’t stop talking about it. Something about they’re both from the town in the Dominican, they train together in the off-season, and frequently talk on the phone. Oh, and they both like Rush.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To your question: yes.

    • beerhelps

      Well if they both like Rush (and I assume that means the band) then they are 2 good dudes in my book.

  • BD

    Could there be a point where these mid-level type FAs say “I’m not so sure about signing with the Cubs, since everyone says they’ll just trade me if I’m doing well”??

    • cubchymyst

      But they will likely get traded to a contender. They could see it as a good way to end up on a playoff team.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Absolutely. But you hope the Cubs are willing to soothe that for the right people with a little extra green. I also expect that Theo and Jed are good salesmen.

      A.B.C.

      • TWC

        A.I.D.A.

        • Cubbiecop

          P.S.S

    • hansman1982

      It’ll be, “Hey, I know your concerns, (speech about how good the coaching is and how much the players are progressing in the offseason), we made the offer we did knowing you had those concerns. Look, in the unlikely event that you have pitched well enough mid-season and we are out of contention, wouldn’t you want to go to a contender?”

  • fortyonenorth

    Hard for me to get too excited about Santana and Haren.

    Brett – do you think the Cubs will be interested in Liriano? He’s been up and down with the ChiSox, but the “ups” include some really solid outings.

    • Mick

      I’d be interested in hearing everyone’s opinion/analysis on whether or not Liriano would/should be an off-season target. The moves this FO made last off-season lead me to believe that they’d be targeting at least one LHP to the 2013 rotation. Fangraphs has a link for “2012 Free Agent Leaderboards” that you can sort all of the looming FA’s 2012 stats. If then you eliminate RHPs, that leaves you with:

      Anibal Sanchez: 3.5 WAR
      Joe Saunders: 2.5 WAR
      Jeff Francis: 1.8 WAR
      Francisco Liriano: 1.7 WAR
      Erik Bedard: 1.3 WAR
      Randy Wolf: 0.5 WAR
      Jonathan Sanchez: -0.7 WAR

      From this list any of the top 4 should be targets for the Cubs. My preference would be A. Sanchez or Liriano but my gut is telling me Joe Saunders. Signing Saunders would feel like Maholm part-deux and hopefully, eventually, net the same return.

      • Scott

        Sanchez is a RHP, but I still think he should be our top target. I would go 4/45 (would probably take more) for him.

        • Mick

          Thanks for that, I don’t know why but I always thought Sanchez was a lefty.

  • NCMoss

    Sucks to be the Dodgers right now. Taking on all that salary and still probably not going to get to the postseason THIS year. Let alone next year.

  • Puma0821@yahoo.com

    A Garza, Shark, Liriano, Santana and Wood rotation has a chance, if healthy, to really be awesome! I dont know if it would be enough but definitely more exciting!

  • Chris

    Brett, question for you… If the Cubs were to trade Garza during Spring Training, would the acquiring team be eligible to receive draft compensation the following year if he bolts as a free agent? If yes, it seems like the Cubs would get more by trading him before the regular season starts. If no, probably means they’ll hold him until the deadline again. I couldn’t decipher the answer to this question by reading any of the CBA information released last year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes – the player just has to be on the roster by the start of the regular season.

  • Jeff L

    Brett,

    You still haven’t answered my question from earlier. You agree with 95 percent of how the Cubs are building this team to be “consistent winners”… Can you tell me a team in the past 15 years of modern baseball has achieved a Championship building a team this way…

    Again to remind you Theo’s only two titles with the RedSox have been when they had the highest payroll in baseball.

    • Kyle

      The best comp in the last 15 years would be the Phillies, and it’s not a perfect fit.

      They made the playoffs five consecutive years from 2007 to 2011 and won 1 WS with a core that included a few players drafted during their awful stretch from 1996 to 2000.

      That’s not really the model the Cubs seem to be trying and that Cubs fans are rooting for, but it was a long-term successful team that won a WS partially off of draft picks made during a prolonged period of badness. But notice that it was 11 years between the first year of the awful and the first playoff appearance.

      • Jeff L

        Kyle,

        That’s what I’m saying. Honestly I’ve been trying to figure out the real reason they’re (Ricketts) is trying to build this way with absolutely no precedent for success. All I can think of he’s trying to save money. Seriously I can’t think of any other reason.

        This offseason top priority should be to try to get Grienke… Pitchers like him don’t come around all to often. He would be the number one starter on our team for years to come. That should really be number 1 priority.

        • Kyle

          Ricketts is first and foremost a fan. Fans have weird ideas about how to build baseball teams. There’s a lot of “preparing to fight the last war,” so to speak. The most recent Cubs failures have come from failure to draft and develop, and coexisted with some big contracts, so Ricketts thinks that building only from drafting and development and avoiding big contracts is the way to go.

          He found the perfect exec to implement his vision in Epstein. Epstein said that he was burnt out in Boston and felt like the pressure to sign FAs had gotten to him and caused him to make some bad decisions. So the chance to build without FA pressure for a few years had to have been really appealing.

          All that said, I’m not saying it’s a plan that can’t work. It probably can, even if I don’t think it was the best plan for the Cubs at the time. In baseball, the ability to be right about players and to develop them is a lot more important than the plan itself. If they develop enough players and make enough correct decisions about them (which ones will be good and which ones won’t in the future), they’ll be fine.

          • Jeff L

            I don’t see how Epstein was or is the perfect option for what they’re planning to do. I say this because he has absolutely no experience in the matter. He built a team yes with some homegrown talent. But mostly with big signings like Dice K and Curt Schilling. He won with the “highest payroll in baseball”!!!

            This is foreign for Epstein. If they really wanted to go this way they should have put all there resources in getting Billy Bean or Andrew Friedman. Those guys have experience building from the bottom up and with a small city payroll.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t expect the Cubs to be “competing” with a small city payroll come 2014/2015/2016.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Again, the Sox have gotten more win shares from their farm hands signed over the last 10 years than has any other team. They also acquired key pieces like Schilling through trades. A lot of their huge payroll was for retaining their players, not signing new ones.

              That made the Sox a team built using all available tools. A good farm system was important for two aspects of this, I.e. the Elsburys and Pedroias, and the fodder for some big trades. The big chech book also was key, allowing them to take on expensive players in trades and as free agents.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I just think you guys are arguing against a position that doesn’t exist.

            No one – to my knowledge – is saying the Cubs shouldn’t try to sign some free agents this Winter and put together a good team in 2013 if it’s possible. Where we disagree is (1) whether the free agent crop out there offers the possibility of taking a 60 win team and turning it, in one offseason, into an 85 win team (it’s just not easy to do, even with a LOADED free agent class, which this one is clearly not); and (2) whether the long term pain associated with buying a bunch of free agents to add to a crappy team exists, and if it exists, if it’s worth it for the possibility of that 85-win team.

            In that light, I agree with a lot of what you and Jeff are saying – don’t automatically give up on a season, don’t avoid all free agents just because you’re far off from competing, don’t SOLELY look at free agents as future trade chips, etc. But I find it impossible to agree with you on 1 and 2.

            • cubs1967

              Jed has already said they won’t spend big in 2013; we all know it will be more of the maholm (to get lucky and move for an injured suspect) or dejesus who can’t get a job on a contender but will come to the cubs for overspending on a so-so hitter. if the payroll hits over 90M (the MLB avg) most would be shocked. (and only ‘cuz Garza will be arb elgible and otherwise traded).

              the cubs are not trying……and looking at the FA pool for this year and after next year there isn’t much unless they tried this offseason (like keeping marshall, sigining cespedes, colvin) etc to work off of…..but as a 100 loss team…….now it’s pointless. (add in the fact that none of the players rec’d from the BIG trading deadline resulted in 1 player who’ll help) in 2013 makes any BIG money spent this offseason pointless. the owner and team theo chose to tank the next few years last offseason.
              damage done.

              considering theo won 2 championships with a 93 win team, high payroll of $170M plus and 2 of the biggest roiders in big papi and manny; it’s really interesting why losing for the majority of theo’s 5 yr deal is OK……

              but then listen to ricketts and tell me he’s not a mccaskey who basically says if 2.8M of you will show up to watch a 100 loss season; why should i really spend money……….

              • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

                Actually Jed came out and said the opposite. Per muskat.mlblogs.com

                “…We’ll obviously be active in the free agent market. That’s a big part of our research and work now is evaluating free agents. We have some money to spend and we’ll focus on it heavily.”

            • Kyle

              I agree the ship has probably sailed on big-money players for the near future. I wouldn’t mind a Grienke, but I’m not going to make that the lynch-pin of whether I consider it a successful offseason.

              All I’m asking for is the credible attempt to fill all the MLB holes. Last season offseason, the Cubs had three major holes: 1b, 3b and SP. They created an additional one (RP) and made a credible attempt to fill only one (I guess you could say 1.5) of the resulting four. I’d consider Maholm, Wood and the conversion of Samardzija to be a rather brilliant combination of moves that credibly addressed the rotation without committing to any long-term pain.

              I’ll give them half-credit for 1b, because they ended up with Rizzo, but only because they wanted to develop him in the majors in the second half. Otherwise, they’d have been happy to trot out Julio Zuleta 4.0 all season.

              I could write a book on how much I hated the Ian Stewart pickup, and I was right.

              The bullpen really irks me. They dismantled it, and with good reason. Samardzija has been a revelation as a starter and Marshall gave us a fantastic return. But they could and should have done something to replace them. Instead, they intentionally filled the bullpen with every terrible cast-off and waiver-wire scrub they could find, and the results have been horrific.

              We’ve got four gaping holes to fill going into 2013, by my count: CF, 3b, SP, RP. All I want out of this offseason is a credible attempt to fill all of those holes with legitimate, major-league quality players. Not necessarily big-money, big-contract stars. Just more Maholms and DeJesuses will suffice. But no more Ian Stewarts, Bryan LaHairs and Manny Corpases.

              I’m sure they’ll give us another SP or two so that they can Maholm him. I actually think Valbuena has shown enough defensively and with his offensive peripherals that I won’t moan if he’s given the 3b job next season. So really, all I’m asking for this offseason is a credible CF and some BP help.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Realistically, who can the Cubs acquire for CF? I suppose that BJ Upton will be available, but I’ve never been a huge fan of his. It seems to be a wasteland of fast guys with appalling OBP once you get past the unavailable elite.

                • Kyle

                  I would love Upton, of course.

                  Beyond that, we’ll just have to wait and see. I don’t think when we were talking about “fixing the rotation and 1b” last offseason, we knew that Rizzo or Wood would be available, but they went a long way toward filling those spots.

                  If the Cubs put a real effort into finding a CFer, then we’ll know it when they get him. If they declare Jackson or Sappelt to be the starter in November, then we’ll know they didn’t even try.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    That definition of “real effort” is pretty loaded: a lot of real efforts wind up being fruitless!

                    But I do Not want BJ Upton on the Cubs. He has become an out-machine, whiffing a ton and no longer walking. In all honesty, I think that BJax would post a highe OBP with as many HR: and I am not singing any praise for BJax when I write that!

                    • Jeff L

                      Thats fine Doc,

                      I’m just saying the Cubs have a TON of payroll flexibility going into this offseason. There is NO reason they shouldn’t go after at least 1 high priced free agent that can grow with this young class.

                    • Kyle

                      It’s not loaded at all. In fact, I think you’ll recall me arguing this all last offseason, before I was proven right about just about all of them. This isn’t hindsight. Bryan LaHair is bound for Japan and washing out of the majors, Ian Stewart is terrible, the bullpen is horrific, and the starting rotation was mostly stabilized.

                      Only things I was wrong about was that I expected quite a bit more out of Travis Wood, though he turned out to be merely serviceable.

                      I can’t give you a literal, perfect definition of “real effort,” but I can tell you that it doesn’t involve career AAA hitters that nobody else wanted, or guys who couldn’t even stick on a terrible Rockies team.

                    • Kyle

                      In all honesty, I think Jackson would struggle to post a .275 OBP given full-time playing time. He literally cannot hit, and MLB pitching will continue to expose him.

                • Stinky Pete

                  I did read/hear/see that Chris Young of the DBacks could be available. Hold on, Hold on. Let me speak my peace before you lynch me. He started out white hot before getting hurt and I read he had changed his whole approach. It looked to be working. Now, I cannot explain the rest of the year and have no idea what they would want for him etc. but he could be an option. I’m just saying if he ended up in CF, I would light my eternal flame of hope candle that he “figured it out” and could be an impact CF for years to come.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Not to focus on only one piece (because I think the rest is all fair/agreeable), but

                “Instead, they intentionally filled the bullpen with every terrible cast-off and waiver-wire scrub they could find, and the results have been horrific.”

                To be fair, many, many successful bullpens have been built that way. You need look no further than the Hendry years for glaring examples of why trying to “buy” middle relievers and setup men is frequently as mistake-prone as trying to build a bullpen with cast-offs and youngsters.

                • Kyle

                  Have they really?

                  Bullpens are fickle, because the pitchers involved don’t get enough innings for variance to smooth out. But I think that is being overstated a bit. There *are* good relief pitchers out there, and there are bad relief pitchers who sometimes have superficially good seasons. Jim Hendry couldn’t tell the difference, and that’s how we ended up with Grabows on the roster. But I expect more out of our front office than that.

                  You can build a good bullpen by design. The Reds built theirs by design and I’d argue it’s the best in the NL. They converted a quality starting prospect (Chapman) to a reliever, they signed a relatively major FA (Broxton) and they picked up a major quality reliever in a trade (Marshall).

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    No one said you couldn’t build a good bullpen by design (though even the good “built” ones are going to have at least one or two rookies and a random surprise vet in there – I virtually guarantee it). I simply said that many of the best ones each year come out of nowhere, and are chock full of youngsters and random castaways. Given that, some feel resources are better spent elsewhere. This is the approach of smaller market teams, and teams trying to save money during tanking years ( :) ).

                    • Kyle

                      But the Cubs didn’t do that. You can definitely build a bullpen out of good young pitchers and fill in with castaways that you hope have a good season, but the former is by far the most important part.

                      Basically, you need 3-4 guys to pitch the high-leverage innings, and those should be your high-quality young pitchers (Marshall, Cashner, Samardzija?). The castaways are there to soak up the low-leverage innings.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Here’s what Greinke gets you:

          (1) A pretty good number 2 pitcher in 2013 (assuming he’s able to perform consistently in Chicago);

          (2) A shot at 80 wins in 2013, if the Cubs also sign a couple other high end free agents;

          (3) A shot at a really strong team in 2015/2016 (because, you’re right, guys like him don’t come around every Winter) assuming he’s still pitching at a high level at age 32/33/34;

          (4) A bloated chunk of the budget in 2017/18/19, because that’s how long Greinke will have to be signed for.

          There are merits to the signing. There are demerits. Doesn’t look like the right move to me.

          • EQ76

            Plus we’d have to outbid everyone else to sign him. He’ll have at least a dozen teams kicking the tires and probably at least 4-5 offers. Do we really want to “win” that bid?

        • wilbur

          There’s only one champion per year so your criteria makes the comparison pool small and with that in mind your point is well taken that a championship is the ultimate prize.

          However, the first step is getting to that prize is be a contender almost every year. If we expanded your question to allow consistent contention to be the measure the Rays would be a good example. If you take teams that had good farm systems and then added selected veterans the hated Cardinals and Rangers compare well.

          Our Cub agony is the weakness of the franchise to provide really valuable AA and AAA talent, particuliarly pitching, to build around must be endured. As we are living every day we lose another game the success of a franchise over time is due both to the pipeline and the aquisition of quality free agents.

          • Kyle

            ” If we expanded your question to allow consistent contention to be the measure the Rays would be a good example. If you take teams that had good farm systems and then added selected veterans the hated Cardinals and Rangers compare well.”

            The Rays are a decent example. The Cardinals and Rangers are definitely not. The point was never that the Cubs don’t need a good farm system. The point was that they didn’t need to ignore the MLB team or intentionally tank it in order to develop a good farm system. The Cardinals are the epitome of a team that manages to consistently develop good players without needing to tank seasons. The Rangers have created an elite farm system without having a top-10 pick since 2003.

            • EQ76

              I agree.. and many here seem to forget that both are possible. You don’t have to completely sacrifice your MLB team to build a strong farm system.. look at the Braves as the best example over the past 2 decades.. they seem to always have a great farm system and a very good MLB team.. you CAN do both..

              We also cannot forget that the Cubs are a major market team.. this isn’t trying to fix the Pirates or Royals.. a large market team should be able to do a rebuild a little bit quicker because the money is there.. but this isn’t any large market team, the Cubs are one of the most popular franchises in America.. I see no reason for us not to be competing by 2014.

              • Jeff L

                I’m really looking forward to seeing how the RedSox will rebuild their team. With infinite money at their disposal it should be exciting to see how fast they get back to the playoffs

                • EQ76

                  they’ll be too drunk and out of shape from all that KFC to compete soon.

        • JR

          Signing Greinke this offseason is not going to happen. They are not going to spend that type of dough (150 Million) on one dude this offseason. So it might as well not even be discussed. Paying him that, when the Cubs are going to suck (which they are), for the next 2 yrs makes no sense at all. They will spend when they are close. Thats it..

          • Jeff L

            Ill tell you what JR they can afford it there payroll will be probably in the range of 55 mil at most as least right now…

            • JR

              Well they absolutely can afford to pay Greinke, thats not the point. But when he is declining in a few years and the other young players are peaking and your paying him 20 million a year is the problem. You want your free agents and young talent peaking together over multiple years for the best shot to win it all.

              • Kyle

                That’s pretty much impossible to time properly. Heck, Grienke could sign a six-year deal and it’d be expiring at the same time our best young players should be peaking, so no worries there.

                • JR

                  Yeah but in 6 years from now in 2018 if Greinke is pitching like Zambrano and making $20 million a year that would suck, when we have a really good team then. I just don’t think this offseason is the right time for a player that commands the payroll Greinke will.

                  • Kyle

                    Why would it suck? By that time, the Cubs should have a massive payroll that dwarfs that $20 million, and a stable of young cost-controlled players to fill out the roster with.

                    If Epstein and Co. are remotely as competent at drafting and developing as they are supposed to be, there’s simply no way a potential $20 million overpaid pitcher should prevent the team from doing anything it wants to do in 2018.

                  • Jeff L

                    JR so what!!!!!

                    With Big Z we had a huge 90 plus win season. Almost won the WS and made the playoffs 3 times. Towards the end of the contract yeah it sucked paying that for the Cubs owner.

                    For us fans so what! You got to take risks on free agents to win in this league. Thats just the way it is. Zach is worth the risk. And if Brett will stand by his statement all you got to do is make the playoffs and roll the dice. With Zach we will be taking a huge step getting into the playoffs next year.

                    • JR

                      I hear what your saying. But I just don’t see Greinke making the Cubs into anything more than a slightly bad team. Plus why in the hell would a pitcher like Greinke want to come to pitch for an offense like the Cubs will have next year, unless they completely blew other offers out of the water.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      First of all, just for the record, that’s not what I said. I said I’ve agreed with 95% of the moves the new front office has made so far. And I have. That’s a subtly, but importantly different thing.

      As for your question, I’m trying to understand what you’re asking when you say “this way.” Do you mean by trading expensive vets for prospects? Do you mean sucking for a few years and drafting high? Do you mean spending on big money free agents when you have a solid, inexpensive, young core at the big league level?

      If you mean the third, the answer would be almost all teams ever. If you mean the second, in the last 15 years, the Rays? The Phillies? The Diamondbacks? The A’s? The Orioles? If you mean the first, the Marlins? The Diamondbacks? The Phillies? The Rays?

      I could go on.

      But I think you actually mean a combination of all three things, to which I’d list several of the same teams. What exactly are we disputing here? Drill it down for me. Surely you can’t be contending that the only answer is to just buy up a bunch of free agents. Please tell me we aren’t having that same discussion again, because recent memory makes it pretty easy to come up with examples for THAT approach not working.

      As with most things in life, it isn’t black and white. Sometimes signing some free agents is a good approach to success. Sometimes hitting on a bunch of draft picks is. Sometimes dumping vets for prospects (and parlaying those prospects into other players) is. Usually, it’s a combination of all those things. That’s what the Cubs are trying to do. Is it really so unclear?

      • JulioZuleta

        It seems like we aren’t going to win the World Series this year. Abandon the plan and bring in a front office veteran. What’s that Jim Hendry guy up to?

      • Jeff L

        Brett,

        First of all you didn’t list a team that won a WS building the way the Cubs are.
        Lets first look at what they’re doing.

        Basically what they are doing is starting at ground zero. They are tanking there major league team so they can draft high or save money or both who knows.

        They’re counting on prospects to come up and become stars which doesn’t happen all that much. They’re going to do all of this with a payroll in the lower half of the MLB. Basically that’s unheard of.

        Now you listed teams lets go over them.
        The Rays- Never won a championship
        Diamondbacks- Payed big money to Schilling and Randy Johnson to win
        A’s- never won a championship in the last 15 years
        Orioles- same haven’t won a championship in the last 15 years and is right now fighting for a wild card
        Phillies- had home grown talent but also had a pretty large payroll to win

        • cubs1967

          Amen brother!………..

          look at the pirates and royals; the royals scored the highest number of prospects (suspects) in the baseball america top 100 2 yrs ago……….and yet are still under .500 and NONE of their pitchers have emerged; most not even in the majors yet like montgomery, jeffries (mostly minors), oridizzi (just now to the majors), etc. hosmer had a horrid year and gordon regressed. it’s tough; prospects are suspects till otherswise proven.

          so assuming baez-vogelbach(no place to play him)-soler for 30M and almora will be all-stars is foolish. AND there is NO pitching in the minors to get excited about except maples or the 2nd rounders from this year.

          it’s a trainwreck to wait till 2016………….and basically Ricketts is telling Cubs fans to “buzz off” as he don;t care; and probably will raise tix prices this year to prove it even more.

          and team theo is lovin’ it as talk about job security when there is NO pressure to win………

        • JR

          Jeff the Cubs are going to spend and spend big. But it will not be this offseason. It doesn matter if they signed Greinke, Hamilton, and Upton. They would still be only a .500 team. They are waiting for the dudes in the lower minors to move up and will then spend BIG on free agents.

        • AB

          Somewhere between people that claim you can’t build a winner from within and those who are already writing out 2015 starting lineups with Rizzo, Castro, Barney, Soler, Baez, Vogelbach, Almora, Lake are the remaining level-headed 80% who realize the Cubs will not and are not trying to compete with an 100% internally-build team.

          • JR

            Exactly, to think the 2015 and 2016 team is going to be made up of entirely home grown talent is just stupid. I would imagine the Cubs will be the biggest spenders in baseball 2014 offseason and maybe the biggest in 2013 offseason if some things go right.

            • terencem

              The difference between the Royals and the Cubs is that the Royals’ entire plan revolves around developing prospects. Once the Cubs get a core to build around, the can afford to spend big on free agents like the Yankees have.

              The other difference is I trust the Cubs’ front office not to give multi-year deals to Jeff Francouer.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You focus way too much on World Series wins. I’m talking about teams that have become playoff contenders. That’s all.

          And, since the playoffs are a crapshoot, that’s what should be the focus.

          • Jeff L

            Brett,

            No if all we are talking about is becoming playoff contenders all we have to do is sign some big time free agents like Grienke and BJ and we can become a playoff contender.

            It’s all about winning a championship and that’s the way Epstein is putting it. That’s what every team thrives for and there’s a reason that no team built this way has every won a championship.

            If your just focused on making it to the playoffs there are easy ways to do that. I think most fans would trade 1 title for 5 straight years to the playoffs losing in the first or even second round.

      • hansman1982

        It is interesting to hear someone on one day debate how you never get quality players outside of the top 3 draft picks and then the next day be pissed off when we are in the process of acquiring top 3 draft picks for a couple of years.

        Prior to the 2011 draft you had a farm system chocked full of David DeJesus types – guys who should be solid but not spectacular, if they reached their ceiling – not exactly something with which to build a team with.

        If you look at these amazing teams that seemingly contend each year they all share a common theme. Strong farm systems. What is the quickest way to a strong farm system – see the Cubs under Theo’s regime.

        Unfortunately, even in an accelerated program it still takes time to build that farm system so that when you are ready to contend it’s not just about signing free agents, it is also about trading to get them or being ok with sacrificing 1 year’s first round pick because you have an amazing farm system already.

        You want an example of a team that has done well…look at the Yankees. Look at how their roster is set up – there are 4 “big-time” free agents with precisely 2 of them being the type that everyone wants the Cubs to acquire every single freekin year. Cano, ARod, Jeter, Granderson, Swisher all came through their farm system or trading from their farm system.

        The difference between the Yankees and Cubs of the past 10 years is a strong enough farm system to acquire the talent they need (ARod, Swisher, Granderson) when it isn’t there in the offseason free agent market, not having a strong farm system to supplement good players to the team thereby requiring free agents everywhere, which, NO TEAM IN THE WORLD can afford.

        The answer is NOT free agency. The answer is a strong farm system with Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter and Starlin Castro and Justin Verlander and Chris Sale, not David DeJesus.

        • Kyle

          “It is interesting to hear someone on one day debate how you never get quality players outside of the top 3 draft picks and then the next day be pissed off when we are in the process of acquiring top 3 draft picks for a couple of years.”

          That’s a gross misunderstanding of what I’ve argued.

          I’ve argued that outside of the top few draft picks, there isn’t much difference in the odds of drafting an impact player between the early rounds and the later rounds (and the chances are slim all-around).

          But there are many other ways to get quality players besides drafting them. Ways many Cubs fans seem to want to abandon.

          “Prior to the 2011 draft you had a farm system chocked full of David DeJesus types – guys who should be solid but not spectacular, if they reached their ceiling – not exactly something with which to build a team with.”

          That’s pretty much true. Though it’s a bit unfair because the system had just graduated about as impact-y of a prospect as you can, an All-Star young SS.

          “If you look at these amazing teams that seemingly contend each year they all share a common theme. Strong farm systems. What is the quickest way to a strong farm system – see the Cubs under Theo’s regime.”

          This is where it starts to fall apart. “X is desirable, Y maximizes X, so therefore Y is good” is fallacious logic. The problem is that X has only been proven to be desirable in a system where nobody (or few people) are doing Y.

          Having a good farm system is awesome, but almost all those successful teams built that farm system while simultaneously building a credible MLB team. There’s simply no proof that dismantling the MLB team and tanking accelerates the process of building a good farm system. Many of the best organizations have baseball have proven that they can build a quality farm system while simultaneously running out competitive baseball teams. That’s what the Cubs should have been trying to do.

          “Unfortunately, even in an accelerated program it still takes time to build that farm system so that when you are ready to contend it’s not just about signing free agents, it is also about trading to get them or being ok with sacrificing 1 year’s first round pick because you have an amazing farm system already.”

          All true. But again: You don’t need to tank to build an amazing farm system.

          “You want an example of a team that has done well…look at the Yankees. Look at how their roster is set up – there are 4 “big-time” free agents with precisely 2 of them being the type that everyone wants the Cubs to acquire every single freekin year. Cano, ARod, Jeter, Granderson, Swisher all came through their farm system or trading from their farm system.”

          And with the exception of Jeter, they didn’t need to tank to do it.

          “The difference between the Yankees and Cubs of the past 10 years is a strong enough farm system to acquire the talent they need (ARod, Swisher, Granderson) when it isn’t there in the offseason free agent market, not having a strong farm system to supplement good players to the team thereby requiring free agents everywhere, which, NO TEAM IN THE WORLD can afford.”

          See previous statement.

          “The answer is NOT free agency. The answer is a strong farm system with Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter and Starlin Castro and Justin Verlander and Chris Sale, not David DeJesus.”

          The answer is both and more. Baseball is too competitive to abandon any avenues to acquiring quality players and think that it will help you in the long run.

          • DarthHater

            Hello, boys & girls. Can you say: “Logorrhoea?”

          • Mick

            So, you would have preferred the roster:

            SP Zambrano
            SP Dempster
            SP Garza
            SP Doug Davis
            SP Ramon Ortiz

            1B Pena
            2B Barney
            SS Castro
            3B A-Ramirez
            LF Soriano
            CF Byrd
            RF Fukudome
            C Soto

            This team went 71-91 and cost $134 million. I’m not too sure what’s being argued here. This team was terrible and painful to watch. It’s all sounding like sour-grapes after the fact because we’re suffering through a 100 loss rebuilding season. Your argument suggests that Theo should have just spent more money to add to this decaying core of players. There’s a couple of sayings that go along with that, “You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig,” and “You can’t change tires while the car’s still moving.”

            We had a slew of terrible contracts that were set to expire over 4 consecutive seasons and absolutely zero minor-league depth to build from. If anything, Theo has accelerated this whole entire process by trading away those expiring contracts for players we can actually use later on. Oh, and as a by-product we’re also in line for the #2 pick in the 2013 draft.

            You’re comparing apples and oranges here because every team’s situations are different. Your arguments are suggesting that everything being equal the Cubs should have been able to compete this year, next year, and for every year after that. But all things weren’t equal when Theo took over. He was put in a the situation that was the 2011 Chicago Cubs and he’s developed a plan of action surrounding those factors.

            You can’t half-rebuild, that’s like being half pregnant. I commend Theo for making a plan and sticking to it. The haters have given Theo 10 months, do you think you can cut him a bit more slack than that?

            • Kyle

              “So, you would have preferred the roster: …”

              Of course not. But I would have preferred something similar with a few key tweaks.

              “This team went 71-91 and cost $134 million. I’m not too sure what’s being argued here. This team was terrible and painful to watch.”

              It was mostly terrible because it of the starting rotation, which was fixable, and some of the dead money that was already coming off the books (Fukudome).

              ” It’s all sounding like sour-grapes after the fact because we’re suffering through a 100 loss rebuilding season.”

              It’s not. I was right here arguing all this going into last offseason, I was arguing it all offseason, and I’m still arguing it.

              ” Your argument suggests that Theo should have just spent more money to add to this decaying core of players”

              “Decaying core” is a loaded term. Castro was not decaying. Samardzija was not decaying. Barney was not decaying.

              And the older players who were there still had a lot to give. I don’t know why Cubs fans suddenly have a phobia of anyone over 30.

              “There’s a couple of sayings that go along with that, “You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig,” and “You can’t change tires while the car’s still moving.””

              Baseball teams are neither cars nor pigs.

              “We had a slew of terrible contracts that were set to expire over 4 consecutive seasons”

              Not really. This is where so many Cubs fans get it wrong. We had a couple of slightly bad but not terrible contacts, many of which were already in the process of expiring.

              ” and absolutely zero minor-league depth to build from.”

              That’s actually not true. The general consensus on the Cubs’ system when Epstein arrived was that it was short on star power but had quite a bit of depth.

              ” If anything, Theo has accelerated this whole entire process by trading away those expiring contracts for players we can actually use later on. Oh, and as a by-product we’re also in line for the #2 pick in the 2013 draft.”

              Hooray. And it only cost us an entire major league season. I thought I remember someone saying something about every chance to win being sacred…

              “You’re comparing apples and oranges here because every team’s situations are different. Your arguments are suggesting that everything being equal the Cubs should have been able to compete this year, next year, and for every year after that.”

              Yes. Big market team, small-market division. Until things get Houston-levels of bad, there’s never a good reason for the Cubs to scrap it all and do a firesale rebuild.

              ” But all things weren’t equal when Theo took over. He was put in a the situation that was the 2011 Chicago Cubs and he’s developed a plan of action surrounding those factors.”

              And it wasn’t the best plan.

              “You can’t half-rebuild, that’s like being half pregnant. ”

              Sure you can. Baseball teams are not women.

              “I commend Theo for making a plan and sticking to it. The haters have given Theo 10 months, do you think you can cut him a bit more slack than that?”

              As I’ve argued all along, it’s a bad plan. I think his execution of that plan has been very good, bordering on great.

              • Mick

                I’m sure the “tweaks” you suggested would’ve been signing Pujols, Wilson, and Cespedes? Do you seriously think that would’ve been enough? Just those 3 would’ve pushed our payroll to places it’s never been before. This is where your whole argument falls apart. The mess Theo walked into was so bad that even signing 3 top free agents wouldn’t have yielded a winning record.

                If you want put yourself through an exercise of futility, try starting with what Theo started with last off-season and build a championship contender staying beneath $140 million. I challenge you, it can’t be done. You’ll start to ask yourself, how did Theo know??? I’ll just stop there before I tell you about the time he walked on water.

                • Kyle

                  “I’m sure the “tweaks” you suggested would’ve been signing Pujols, Wilson, and Cespedes?”

                  It’s amazing how often that when people are “sure” about what someone else believes, they are completely wrong. Just like you were sure I was only having sour grapes about this season when I have been saying all this since last year.

                  No to Pujols at that price unless Ricketts is willing to invest a lot more in the team than previously thought.

                  Yes to Wilson at the price he got, but that was a hometown discount that the Cubs never could have been in on.

                  I would have said no to Cespedes at the time, but in hindsight that would have been awesome. I was a lot more skeptical of him than I should have been.

                  ” Do you seriously think that would’ve been enough? Just those 3 would’ve pushed our payroll to places it’s never been before. This is where your whole argument falls apart. The mess Theo walked into was so bad that even signing 3 top free agents wouldn’t have yielded a winning record.”

                  And as I’ve demonstrated repeatedly, the mess wasn’t that bad. That was just Cubs fan frustration talking in the wake of 2011, and justification for what he’s done.

                  The 2011 Cubs were 71-91, not 59-103. They were also only that bad because of significant injuries that brought the likes of Doug Davis into the rotation.

                  Rotation depth+a decent bat+replacing the departing players would have been plenty to turn that team into a contender.

                  “If you want put yourself through an exercise of futility, try starting with what Theo started with last off-season and build a championship contender staying beneath $140 million. I challenge you, it can’t be done.”

                  I already did, in this thread, and I did it with the handicaps of no long-term commitments and still making trades for the future like Rizzo and Marshall.

            • MikeL

              Anyone who is crazy with this offseason I would like to direct your attention to one team: 2012 Miami Marlins. They have the best record in the league because they spent money, right? Keep in mind that this year’s free agent class is much weaker and the Cubs have more holes on their team than the Marlins did.

              • MikeL

                How about looking at the Angels?

                • MikeL

                  How about the Tigers?

              • Kyle

                And to anyone who thinks it’s okay to say “We aren’t going to be good so why try,” I direct your attention to the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  It seems to me, by the way, that this might be the most compelling argument for spending a fair bit in the offseason.

                  (But … the Cubs aren’t going to be any good … )

            • Jeff L

              I would prefer a roster and this is based off of last year free agent class

              SP Darvish
              SP Garza
              SP Dempster
              SP Samardzija
              SP Malhom

              I agree with his pick up of Malhom would have been a good 5th starter. Getting Darvish the way he got Dice K for the Red Sox would have been the start of something special!

              1B: Fielder… I am happy with Rizzo.. Fielder would have got us to the playoffs this year. In the long run as you guys call it Rizzo great pick up. Bottom line though Cubs could have gotten both.
              2B Barney
              SS Castro
              3B Ramerez (Resign him)
              LF Soriano (Had a big year)
              CF Reed Johnson (Decent player, Decent pick up)
              RF David Dejesus (Decent player, Decent pick up)
              C Soto

              Bullpen: keep it generally the same but with Sean Marshall still in the setup role.

              I believe that with some of the moves Epstein made and with the keeping Ramerez and Marshall…. Also, adding Darvish and Fielder the Cubs would have been in the playoffs this year… In doing this Rizzo could still be a Cub and signing of Soler if Ricketts desired to spend a little more is still possible.

              Dempster had a career year… I believe Garza would have had a better one if the Cubs were competitive. Malhom had a great year. Darvish had a great year. Samardzia had a good year….

              This could have been a very good team!

              • EB

                I have a hard time believing Fielder could get this Cubs team into the playoffs, when he may not even get the Tigers into the playoffs

              • Cubs1967

                you are forgetting Cespedes who the cubs should of signed. add his bat to the team you are describing and being in contention for 1 of 5 playoff spots is not a far stretch.

                instead; they are losing on purpose.

                104 yrs and counting………..now the owner just loses on purpose!

                • Stinky Pete

                  To be fair, they didn’t exactly pass on him. They made an offer and it wasn’t crazytown like Oakland. Maybe the next time a super athletic no mlb experience guy comes along they can give him the green shower. And it should be a good investment since Cespedes worked out.

      • Kyle

        I don’t think any WS championship teams in the last 30 years have been less dependent on core young players than the Diamondbacks and Marlins.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m not talking about the 2001 Diamondbacks – you focus way too much on WS winners only.

          I was talking only about the Marlins’ post WS vets for prospects dumps, which did net many useful players. (If you look at exactly what I said, I was NOT saying the Marlins have been a model to follow. (Or not follow.))

          • Kyle

            If we expand too much further than WS winners, it becomes way too easy to pick and choose. There’s always going to be some teams that were bad at some point then became good later, so you can say “a ha, they needed to be bad to get good!” post hoc ergo prompter hoc.

            Arizona has made the playoffs precisely twice in the last 10 years. That’s not a blueprint we should be copying.

            The Marlins are a fascinating case because they did exactly what you are arguing the Cubs should absolutely not do. They took a 67-95 team, went nuts on free agents to get to an 80-win team the next season, then won the World Series the next year. That’s almost word-for-word what you are saying the Cubs should not be doing.

            Then they dismantled that team and tanked again (again, the opposite of the sort of long-term success that Cubs fans want to see) and won the WS again in their *only other playoff appearance*.

            The Marlins are a fantastic example of how to run a baseball club in a way we can all agree is terrible but still win two WS.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              You clearly need to check out the 2003 Marlins roster again. It’s a mix – as almost all winners are – of homegrown talent, traded-for talent, and free agents. Again, what the hell are we arguing?

              And if you DON’T want to just look at World Series winners, then thank Jesus, let’s move off of the Marlins. How about teams that put together three-year stretches of winning records? That’s what I want right now.

              • Kyle

                I have no idea what we’re arguing, other than it’s weird to look at how the Marlins built their two WS winners.

                The first one was built in the exact way everyone is saying a team should never be built: By piling on high-priced free agents to a terrible team.

                The second one was a very odd mix built from trades, frequently of the leftovers from dismantling that first team.

                *takes a closer look at the 2003 Florida Marlins, curses Brett for asking him to relive that team*

                14 players worth 1 bWAR or more.

                9 acquired via trade
                3 free agents
                1 amateur free agent (Alex Gonzalez)
                1 drafted player (Josh Beckett)

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Don’t forget Miguel Cabrera.

                  I’m plenty content to leave the Marlins behind – I mentioned them only as a team that got good by dumping a bunch of vets, which they did, as you just demonstrated. I’m just saying, it can be done. That’s all.

                  • EQ76

                    or Renteria

                • hansman1982

                  This team went nuts in free agency?

                  Look, I don’t want, nor do I think Theo is already planning on tanking 2013. Will he go out and spend nuts to build a playoff contender sure fire, no. If that is your idea of tanking then we shall have to (probably for the billionth time) agree to disagree on this issue.

                  Now what Theo will probably do is piece a team together with the mid-level free agents, free-agents that are hoping for a bounce-back type contract/performance, a couple trades and a few holdovers from this team.

                  Now it looks like Greinke will be off the market which leaves Hamilton as the only “big-time” free agent who will demand (and probably get) a 6+ year deal at a crap ton of AAV. For a guy who could very easily fall off the wagon outside of Texas, I am fine with them passing.

                  Outside of those two, I am not sure who entirely is on the market but then you have to ask yourself, how often are these types of players on the market and if it is often, is a 75 win season that much better than a 60 win season?

                  Furthermore, what specific evidence do you have of tanking? I see a crappy core of players being available from the 2011 team and Theo building a if/then type team. If these 6 questionable players perform at their potential we will contend. If not then we will sell of who does at the deadline.

                  If you wanted to truly tank a season, 2012 would have been it (based on the Theo-goodwill) and Dempster, Garza, Soto, Barney would have been unloaded in the offseason and we would be battling Houston for a #1 draft pick. You never would have acquired DeJesus and Maholm and went with a AAA roster from day 1.

                  • Jeff L

                    Grienke will be on the market as least as of today. Angels are said to be most likely putting all their resources into resigning him as they should for how much they gave up to get him. Cubs do have an opportunity to outbid them if they would like to.

                    No guarantee a Grienke will be in any free agent class in the next 5 years. Most teams seem to be signing their big studs to extensions (ex. Cole Hamels, Matt Cain) I can see the Giants doing the same thing with Lincecum.

                    • hansman1982

                      Is Greinke a $20M/year pitcher? Is he worth that for the next 6 years?

          • Jeff L

            Brett,

            We are all supposed to be focused on WS winners. That and that alone gives us ideas and a precedent lets call it to follow..

            There are a lot of ways to win but the way the Cubs are doing it have never been done before. That’s all I’m trying to say.

            Epstein has never won anything without the highest payroll in the league.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              “There are a lot of ways to win but the way the Cubs are doing it have never been done before. That’s all I’m trying to say.”

              And you are plainly, flatly, and clearly mistaken. That’s all I’m trying to say. (Kidding – mostly.)

              Again, I won’t beat a dead horse, but you’re obviously considering only World Series winners, which is a hilariously tiny sample of “successful” models for competitive teams. Moreover, you’ve got this black/white vision of what the Cubs are doing. I don’t agree that the Cubs are SOLELY going to tear down to nothing (Castro’s still here, Samardzija’s still here, Garza’s still here (for now), Soriano’s still here (for now), Marmol’s still here (for now), etc., etc.) and HOPE that draft picks and prospects pan out.

              You refuse to even acknowledge that the Cubs might be planning on spending big around a young core in 2014. Your failure to even acknowledge that possibility, so far, has rendered this discussion a pointless pissing contest. And it’s a shame, because obviously it’s an important and otherwise fruitful discussion.

              • Jeff L

                Brett,

                I think its pretty funny that the goal you have for the Cubs is just to be a playoff team. I think if Epstein said that it would enrage Cub fans everywhere.

                Secondly, I think in todays MLB most teams are signing there core guys for long extensions so I dont think its right to put all your eggs on what might be an empty basket in 2014

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  “I think its pretty funny that the goal you have for the Cubs is just to be a playoff team. I think if Epstein said that it would enrage Cub fans everywhere.”

                  It’s not only not funny, it’s accepted truth by virtually all baseball executives (include Theo, who has repeatedly said the goal is to MAKE the playoffs – from there you hope you’re in a position to win it all). Of course the end-game is to try and win it all, but you don’t EXPECT that every year, nor do you try and BUILD a team that somehow fits this mold of “World Series winner.”

                  The playoffs are a roll of the dice. The best you can do is make sure you’re at the table almost every year.

                  These are things I’ve been saying for years, and things Theo has said almost word for word.

                  • Jeff L

                    Ok, you said the playoffs are a roll of the dice. So why tank your time and take away that “roll of the dice”. You and I both know they can build a farm system and stay competitive on the field every year. Adding a few big free agents in what is a weak division where in a season a team with 88 wins. That could be good enough to make the playoffs with the 2nd wild card.

                    So, why are you so on board with tanking each season and taking the Cubs out of what you call it “rolling the dice” The truth is if you put money into your major league roster you could have a chance to “roll the dice” every season

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      We’re close now – if I thought the Cubs could buy a competitive team on the free agent market for 2013 (with only a slight risk of serious long-term damage to the realistic budget in years down the road), I’d totally be pissed if the Cubs didn’t spend a lot this Winter.

                      I don’t think that’s plausible given the FA market this year, and the Cubs’ current roster. You can disagree with those two assessments, but you can see where I’m coming from now, right?

                    • Jeff L

                      Brett,

                      I would agree with you if the Cubs payroll for next year wasn’t around 50 mil… They have room to lets say spread there financial wings and fly.

                      I’m just saying you can’t pass up a talent like Greinke when you have that much financial flexibility. Also, you can’t always be afraid of 6-8 years down the road. If you live in fear you will die in fear. Sometimes you got to roll the dice and hope for the best.

                      Bottom line is adding Grienke and a bat will put you in position to make the playoffs next year and lets be honest if he has a 15-20 mil a year salary it wont break the bank for the Cubs who currently are around 50 mil… Before Theo got here we had about 136 mil salaries…. I think this is a “mistake” we can afford

                    • hansman1982

                      What happens then when we are at that $136M mark (which appears to be near the top end of what this franchise can presently spend) with Greinke and next year’s FA on the decline and now we have no flexibility to add around them through taking on salary?

                      This is basically what happened after 2009 – the Cubs hit the wall and had to be torn down to rebuilt because there was no solid farm system in place.

                • ssckelley

                  All I want is for the Cubs to be a playoff team as well. The past several years has proven that any team that makes the playoffs can win the World Series, not always the best team. You cannot just build one good team and expect to win the World Series. Build a consistent winner so make the playoffs and give yourself a chance to win year over year.

              • Kyle

                Here’s my description of what the Cubs are doing.

                They are a big-market team that just intentionally left *at least* 25% of their payroll capacity on the table and gave over much of their playing time to reclamation projects because they wanted to build the farm system through tanking and trading.

                If there are any other examples of that happening, I can’t think of them.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Seems plausible that the 25% (or whatever the number really was) went into paying off Quade and Hendry, Pena and Zambrano (assuming they weren’t in the figure), buying Theo, buying Jed, buying Jason, Jaron, Joe B., and other new execs/scouts (there are many), paying off Oneri, paying for facilities upgrades at various locations, paying for the Dominican facility ($7 million), paying for the new Bloomberg system, etc.

                  It was a pretty expensive transitional year.

                  • Jeff L

                    Brett,

                    Not if you remember that the Cubs have one of the highest attendance numbers of any team in baseball. Has the 3rd highest ticket prices in baseball. I’m sure brings in a huge profit of revenue from merchandise and everything else you can imagine. Oh yeah and also figure in the 50 mil they get a season from the networks (An article you wrote).

                    There’s NO excuses for a big market team to have such a small payroll any year.

                    • hansman1982

                      Ah, you are forgetting that the Cubs also have one of the smallest ad revenue bases of the big teams, one of the smallest TV contract revenues of the big teams, a stadium that needs updating. While that doesn’t mean they can only afford a $50M payroll I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.

                      Now the question becomes, do you field a $130M team just because you are a big market team and can field a $130M team?

                  • Kyle

                    “Seems plausible that the 25% (or whatever the number really was) went into paying off Quade and Hendry, Pena and Zambrano (assuming they weren’t in the figure), buying Theo, buying Jed, buying Jason, Jaron, Joe B., and other new execs/scouts (there are many), paying off Oneri, paying for facilities upgrades at various locations, paying for the Dominican facility ($7 million), paying for the new Bloomberg system, etc.

                    It was a pretty expensive transitional year.”

                    No, it doesn’t. All those are already figured into my estimates of their costs.

                    Actually, I wrote up a pretty good post on some other boards a few days ago making what I thought was a very good estimate of the Cubs’ baseball operations budget. I was thinking about asking you if you wanted me to turn it into a submission for BN.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I’d love to see it – all I have now is a bunch of unattached numbers floating around in my head.

    • ssckelley

      The way the Cubs are building reminds me of the Braves back in the late 80s, early 90s. The Braves were bad for a long time and built themselves a solid farm system that got them Gant, Justice, Blauser, Glavine, Smoltz (deadline prospect they got for a veteran pitcher, sound familiar?), Avery, Stanton, and Mercker. The Braves did have to sign a few veterans to compliment the group (Lonnie Smith and Terry Pendleton come to mind) but the Braves got good and stayed good for a long time with a solid farm system (Javy Lopez, Klesko, ect ect). The Braves were not just good for 1 year they were good for a long time and are still respectable today. At one point the Braves reached the playoffs 14 out of 15 years, went to the World Series 5 times, and won it all twice. I hate admitting this but the Cardinals built themselves a consistent winner twice, first in the middle 80s and in the past 15 years mainly through a solid farm system and I can only think of a couple of years where they have not been competitive. Even the Yankees who have had bottomless pocketbooks have had a solid farm system.

      The Cubs have made the playoffs 6 times in my lifetime. It would be so nice to see the Cubs play meaningful games in September every year and not just once every 5 or 6 years. The only way you are going to build a team capable of winning over a long period of time is through the farm system.

      • Kyle

        That’s absolutely true, but every bad baseball team of the 1990s and 2000s was trying to copy the Braves’ blueprint. Heck, it was practically Andy MacPhail’s mission statement.

        You don’t need to ignore/dismantle the MLB team in order to create a good farm system.

        • ssckelley

          But you cannot build a consistently good team through free agency either. The Cubs are still spending money but they are spending it on the draft and international prospects. This team needed to be dismantled as they were not going anywhere. I would rather the Cubs dump players like Dempster and Maholm to get prospects that can help you win tomorrow instead of keeping them with the hopes of winning 70 games this year.

          • Jeff L

            The Cubs already have young good prospects mlb ready and have played this year… The Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Samarjza, Rizzo…. If you name the big guns that the Yanks or the Red Sox had were usually in the 3 to 4 range… Lets be honest they got there home grown talent already on the field… Time to start getting some free agents

            • ssckelley

              Rizzo was not a home grown prospect and the other 3 you mentioned are the highlights of an otherwise horrible farm system over the past 5 years. The real good “home grown talent” is in the low levels of the minor leagues and they will not be ready for a couple of years.

              This free agent class is weak and the Cubs have a bunch of holes to fill. What players do you see on the market make this Cubs team a playoff team?

          • Kyle

            “But you cannot build a consistently good team through free agency either.”

            Agreed. The Cubs should aim for both: A competitive MLB team through all available avenues and a strong farm system. Something like the Boston Red Sox did for years. We should try to hire the guy that did that for him to run our team.

            • hansman1982

              Ya, cause Theo ran the Red Sox into the ground.

              God, I hope he gets run out of Chicago in 10 years after a terrible 89-win season in a division as strong as the AL East.

              • Kyle

                If he were running the Cubs like he ran the Red Sox, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I *want* that Theo Epstein.

                The Red Sox got his actual efforts to win. The Cubs are getting to be his decompression time and petri dish.

                • Jeff L

                  Kyle

                  I completely agree. *That* Theo is what I was excited about. I always thought if we were to take this route we would get someone with the experience needed to take this route. Like a Billy Beane or Andrew Friedman.

                  Theo’s experience is running a team with a huge payroll trying to win every year. No one seems to understand that fact.

                  • mudge

                    To assume that Epstein’s team can’t manage this sort of rebuild because they haven’t done it before is irrational. They’ve been faced with various situations and made more good choices than bad; faced with this organization, they’re doing a gut rehab. I trust their judgment, and the clarity of the plan makes the losing a lot less painful. The long term success of the Cubs is in the hands of their scouts and coaches. The coaching is evidently much improved already at the major league level. Getting that stuff right matters infinitely more to me than signing a Zach Greinke next year.

                • hansman1982

                  So you are basing your belief system on your idea that after 10 years busting their asses to build a perennial winner in Boston they suddenly don’t care about winning, want to slack off and fart around with their legacy? You don’t think that theo and Jed know that winning a WS in Chicago would cement their legacy as the greatest FO folks in the history of the game? That their Hall of Fame tickets would be punched the moment that 27th is recorded. You honestly believe they are dumb enough to jus piss that away by slacking off for 3-4 years when they understand how tough it is to win it all?

                  • Jeff L

                    Hansman, honestly Theo may already have his Hall of Fame ticket from breaking the curse twice in Boston… But thats pure speculation

                  • Kyle

                    “Basing your belief system” is an odd way of putting it. I’m simply coming up with a plausible idea of why they chose to do what they did, given their own statements.

                    They aren’t slacking off. They are working very hard, but they are working very hard on a project that interests them rather than the project the Cubs needed.

        • MikeL

          Yet that is exactly the philosophy the Braves used and it worked……the Braves traded away/refused to sign several star position players in the late 1980s….tell me how good they were from 1986-1990….

          • Chris

            Great example Mike. Also, the Indians of roughly that same time period traded away Joe Carter and acquired a ton of talent in return. Sandy Alomar and Carlos Baerga were cornerstones for the team, and they drafted Thome and Belle, as well as signed Manny Ramirez. All great moves. The put together a good pitching staff and made serious runs at the playoffs every year. They signed their young players to long term contracts to have cost certainty. Where the wheels started to come off was when some of their key players hit the free agent market and they couldn’t afford to pay them. That’s where the Cubs will differ. They’ll be able to lock up who they need to lock up when the time comes.

    • Joepoe123

      Athletics!? Rays? Orioles?

  • TSB

    A few weeks ago, some fans were saying that Marshall had to go because he is over the hill at 27, or at least would be in two years at the age of 29. Now some of the same peeps are talking about obtaining Greinke Santana or,Liriano, all who will be 30+ in 2014. Oh and don’t forget “Pops” Haren who will be 34 years old. Where’s the age argument now?

    • Jeff L

      TSB basically giving up a pitcher of the caliber of Marshall was a bad idea. But there idea was to tank this year anyway so what does it matter. They got a decent major league pitcher in the trade and traded one of the best middle relievers in the game.

      • Scott

        The Cubs did the right thing with Marshall, its ok to admit. They traded him before he got expensive and got quality pieces in return, this is what good teams do. If they were close to winning a WS (like the Reds) then it makes sense to give him a 3/18 contract. Marshall makes no difference on this Cubs team b/c we need starting pitchers. Travis Wood is a starting pitcher who has a chance to help us be good in the future for cheap.

        The money saved on deals like that ($6 million here and $6 million there) can go towards the free agents everyone crows about all the time. That is the plan, it is not that difficult to see.

    • cas-castro

      Marshall is 29 now, if not 30..

  • cubs1967

    ian stewart had poor effort!!!……………really??…….

    Ok team theo lovers; explain that crap!

    (this was known coming out of colorado; as he was not hurt all last year at colorado springs, but the rockies “punished” him there for lack of making improvements or ackowleding his swing sucks and he’s doomed to hit .200 with a healthy wrist.)

  • AZCubsFan

    I believe 2014 is the year to focus on to try to have a team together to make a playoff push. I think this season was a chance to evaluate the Hendry talent that was left. Castro proved he can play and was extended. Barney surprised with his defense, and barring a trade with a nice return, is set at second base. The new front office also rid themselves of players they didnt want or like. They landed Rizzo for Cashner and that seems to have worked. The Stewart trade was a reach and didnt work. And in my opinion Wellington Castillo appears to be an everday catcher, though his defense and game calling need work.
    2013 is another evaluation year and another year to watch and see who developes. The front office will sign some upside pitchers and fill some bullpen holes.I believe Jackson gets another look as will Vitters.The fron office will see how the pitchers perform and they will try to move Soriano, DDJ, and possible Garza is moved. They then look at where additional needs are and they will be filled in the 2013 offseason for a 2014 push.

    • Jeff L

      I believe there are only a handful of special starting pitchers out there and if you have a chance of retaining one you do it. Zach Greinke is one of those special starting pitchers. Also, if it doesn’t work out with him you can trade him for a butt load of prospects. The bottom line is if you make it to the playoffs anything can happen. You had a few hitters and Greinke and a couple Malhoms you got yourself a playoff team…

      It doesn’t mean you stop building the farm system. Just because the Cubs sign a big contract doesn’t mean the system stops lol….

      Also big contracts is what made the Cubs competitive for the last 10 years. 3 playoff appearances in 9 years is pretty damn good for the Cubs and there history!

      • AZCubsFan

        I don’t think the Cubs will be as bad as long and the Braves were. But they do seem set now at SS, 2nd, 1st, and Catcher. Right now they have a #2 in Garza, a #3 in Shark, and a #5 in Wood. Soriano and DDJ will work in LF and RF and they already have a lot of role players. That would leave 3rd and 2 to 3 upside pitchers and CF, and of course the bullpen. I don’t think all these issues can be addressed this off season, but it can be done in 2 offseasons. I will stand by my 2014 as they push year. It is also the 3rd year of Theo and Jed contracts. a promising 2014 and playoff team in 2015 get them the ext they will want as well.

      • Cizzle

        Ugh. Look at the playoff teams we’ve had and explain to me who the “big contract” free agents were?
        2008: Soriano, Fukudome? The other major players were either drafted (Soto, Zambrano) or traded for (Aramis, Lee, Harden).
        2003: Alou, Clement? Drafted: Prior, Zambrano, Wood, Patterson. Traded: Sosa, Aramis.
        I’m obviously omitting some names, but you get my point. Those clammoring for the front office to blow tons of money, forget that the past success has come from just adding FA’s when there’s a solid framework of a team built through trades and drafting. Does anyone honestly believe we had that going into 2012?

        • AZCubsFan

          I believe that is what Theo and Jed are doing. We also have a nice crop coming up and this give them another year to be evaluted. The big contract will be there I’m guessing on the pitching side more than the position player side.

        • Kyle

          ” Does anyone honestly believe we had that going into 2012?”

          Actually, yes. I’ve argued repeatedly that the framework in place going into 2012 wasn’t as bad as people seem to think. The 2011 team had a lot of interesting talent, but was sunk by a horrific lack of starting pitching when injuries/craziness hit the rotation hard.

          • Scott

            Where do you suggest they could have found (purchased) 25-30 extra WAR?

            • Kyle

              Oooh, these are fun.

              By my estimate, the Cubs left $30 million on the table in payroll this offseason, and that is before we consider all the extra infrastructure they built (about $10 million on facilities upgrades and such). I’ll just use the $30 million (I can defend that number if you want, but that’s a long sidebar to what’s going to be a long post anyway).

              Okay, now watch in amazement as I add 25 wins to the 2012 Cubs with only $30 million to spend last offseason. This is going to horrify some people, but I might have to actually use some assets (such as giving up compensation picks) to do this, but I won’t add any major long-term contracts.

              Step 1) Do not trade for Ian Stewart and then have to replace him midseason with a motley crew. Sign Aramis Ramirez to the contract he got with the Brewers.

              Net cost 2012 cost: $2.8 million (and I have to give up the compensation pick we got for Ramirez).
              Net 2012 fWAR gain: 6.5

              Step 2) Keep Samardzija (gasp, I know!) in the bullpen, sign Octavio Dotel to the contract he got with the Tigers. As I’ve long argued, a true bullpen ace is just as valuable as a starter, and we could have seen that out of Samardzija this year. I’ve long been a fan of Dotel’s, and he was a steal this offseason.

              fWAR actually understates the impact of relief pitching because it doesn’t account for leverage. The Cubs’ employed seven predictably terrible castoff relievers this season for a total fWAR of -2.7 in about 130 innings. Give those innings to Dotel and Samardzija and we’d see about 3.0 WAR. But the impact of leverage on those innings means it’s probably worth closer to 7 or 8 wins.

              Net gain: 7.0 WAR
              Net cost: $3.5 million

              Running total: 13.5 WAR, $6.5 milllion, $23.5 million left to spend.

              Step 3) The rotation. Taking out Samardzija leaves me with a bit of a hole to fill. I was arguing all spring that Travis Wood should have been in the rotation all along, and replacing Randy Wells’ starts with Wood should have netted us about 0.5 WAR for free. Garza, Maholm and Dempster continue as is, except two of them don’t have to be traded at the deadline in this scenario and replaced with the terribleness that has been Rusin/Raley/Coleman (combined -1.0 fWAR), so that’s about another 2.0 fWAR free again. Maholm was a nice signing, so we keep him. All I need is someone to replace Samardzija. I desperately wanted Darvish, but that wouldn’t go with my “no long-term commitments” promise. Instead, I’ll splurge on Edwin Jackson and offer him 1/13 (he signed with the Nats for 1/12). He’s been 0.7 wins worse than Samardzija, who was needed in the pen.

              Net gain: 1.3 wins
              Net cost: $13 million

              Running total: 15.0 WAR, $19.5 million, $10.5 left to spend

              Catcher. I argued in the spring that we knew that Castillo was the better option to Clevenger, but were only keeping Castillo down for service time purposes (which is legit if the team is terrible and not trying to win, but my imaginary Cubs aren’t doing that). Giving Clevenger (-0.6)’s playing time to Castillo (1.1) would have netted the Cubs about 1.5 wins, and you would have been better prepared for when Soto was mysteriously bad.

              Net cost: 0
              Net gain: 1.5 wins
              Running total: 16.5 WAR, $19.5 million, $10.5 million to go

              And that just leaves us with CF. Cubs CFers have been awful this season, and the only one who has been useful has been DeJesus (and his replacements in RF have been just as awful). That’s cost the Cubs about -2.0 fWAR under replacement.

              I’ll take Coco Crisp on his two-year deal with the A’s, at a cost of $6 million this year. He’s been worth 2.5 fWAR.

              Net gain: 4.5 fWAR, net cost: $6 million

              Running total: 21 fWAR, $25.5 million, 4.5 left to spend. I’ll save that for the trading deadline in case of injuries, and when Garza got injured I’ll pick up a cheap replacement so I don’t have to run out Chris Volstad and his 6.22 ERA (i’m cheating a bit because fWAR is predictive and not descriptive, so it understates how bad Volstad has been for the Cubs). That should net me another 2 wins.

              Running total: 23 wins, spent all my $30 million.

              That puts the Cubs at 82-73, 2 games behind the Cardinals for the last playoff spot with a week-plus to play and a favorable schedule. And I got there with the major handicap having to look for cheap, short-term deals and still making some key long-term trades (Marshall, Rizzo) while spending a ton of my baseball budget on internal infrastructure such as the Dominican Academy.

              • Scott

                If I am reading correctly, you believe Aramis Ramirez, Octavio Dotel, Coco Crisp and Edwin Jackson would have made the Cubs contenders. Payroll would be around $140 million – Cots has them at $109 this year.

                Without even getting into some of your hindsight and assumptions (Valbuena/Castillo playing time, made up reliever WAR figures), I simply do not believe that is a World Series or even a playoff team. It seems to me like a lot of money wasted that could have gone to longer-term assets (Soler, bloomberg, larger front office, increased scouting capabilities).

                Nobody here wants the Cubs to be bad, we just have a different idea of building a winner. I don’t believe they should spend significant money on older players, I also don’t believe anyone (including Theo) wants a $50 million payroll. That is a recipe for failure, I don’t think he would sign up for that.

                Lets see what they do this offseason.

                • Kyle

                  You skeptically asked me to prove it with WAR. I did, and I even took on some severe handicaps to do it. I’m sorry it doesn’t “look” like a winner to you.

                  • Scott

                    That is the whole point. This is what the Cubs have done for years, try to patch together a contender for a year. It has yet to produce a World Series. I am ready to try a different approach, you are clearly not. Agree to disagree.

                    • Kyle

                      And my whole point is that your assessment is a misdiagnosis of why the Cubs failed to win the World Series.

                      The recent Cubs teams made the playoffs 3 times in 9 years. Whether or not they won the World Series in that time is mostly irrelevant to whether they were doing things well, but the 3/9 number is important. That’s slightly above the MLB average, but well below what it should have been given the Cubs’ payroll abilities and division.

                      Why was it well below average? Despite what you (and many other fans) think, it was *not* because they tried to build competitive teams and signed free agents.

                      The Cubs fell apart in the late 2000s and early 2010s because they had a horrific failure to properly draft, sign and develop amateur talent.

                      “A-ha!” you say, doesn’t that mean I’m right?

                      No. A good team should be able to do both simultaneously. A well-run organization should be able to draft and develop amateur well while simultaneously leveraging its payroll abilities into a strong major-league team. This is how Theo Epstein made his name. He didn’t need to tank the Red Sox and give up on free agents in order to build a great farm system. He did it while winning games. That’s what the Cubs needed to do as well.

                      The argument that we needed to “go for it or build the farm system” is a false choice. We needed to do both, and we had the resources to do both. The two are on almost entirely distinct tracks. Or, as a smart exec once put it, “parallel fronts.”

                • AZCubsFan

                  I think for pitchers the Cubs will make a push for Saunders, Santana, and if he takes a 2 year 5 – 6 million Bedard. I think Haren would be nice but would want to much $ and many years.

              • ssckelley

                So the Cubs spend an extra $30 million, miss out on (I think) Pierce Johnson, and do not trade for Chapman, Vizcaino, Villanueva, and Hendricks so that the Cubs can come within 2 games of making the wild card? The Cubs would have to spend even more money to resign Dempster and you weaken the farm system. On top of all that you miss out on whatever prospect the Cubs will get with the 2nd or 3rd pick in next years draft. All for mediocrity?

                • Kyle

                  If that doesn’t seem like a good tradeoff to you, then you are severely overvaluing guys like Pierce Johnson and the other prospects.

                  The only one on that list worth being upset about missing out on is Vizcaino. Plus the draft pick, of course. The rest are just dime-a-dozen interesting prospects that every team has a couple dimes worth of.

                  And notice that I didn’t say it was my ideal plan, I was just working within the parameters provided: Could I come up with 25 more WAR for the Cubs with $30 million? The answer: Yes.

  • jim

    Is all about young pitching. Btw kyle, dont assume daddy jo was a cub fan before he bot the team. He voted for goldwater btw.

  • Cheryl

    I can’t see LaHair being back. There’s no place for him. If he thinks he’ll have a chance to play next year he’s fooling himself.

  • Stu

    2012,2013 is about saving as much money as possible. Ricketts knows that he will have to eventually have to pony up a lot of money for Wrigley Field. He has no leverage in the situation.

    Ricketts will start spending money when attendance falls off. Why would he do anything else?

    The previous regime didn’t start spending money until they wanted to sell the CUBS. Soriano contract is proof of that. This is a business. They can waive their hands all they want about sabermetrics/computers etc. Most clubs use that information now so where is the advantage for THEO/Jed?

    It doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t be interesting for a few years and maybe accidentally make the playoffs. Look at the business side of the CUBS.

    • Drew7

      “They can waive their hands all they want about sabermetrics…most teams use that now”

      That’s just like saying all teams have a GM, or a scouting dept. How you use those resources is where your competitive advantage lies.

  • Jeff L

    Hansman,

    We are at around 55 mil right now. We have a long way to go to get back to 136. Even if we signed Grienke to 20 mil a year which i doubt anyone would. We would be around 75mil. Long way to go to get there. Hopefully if we are there we can make the playoffs again for another 3 out of the next 9 years. With the Cubs history I think that is damn good.

    Cub fans should be excited being at Wrigley not just for the atmosphere but to see a team that competes. Not one that is laughable. Ill tell you what Hansman I bet in the last 9 years you can agree with me that almost every year you were excited about the season to come. I know I was. That’s what it is all about.

    Like Brett said no guarantee you will win a WS once your in the playoffs. You roll the dice. I’m sure Epstein with 136 mil at his disposal would be able to bring the Cubs back to the playoffs. Then all bets are off!

  • Jeff L

    Kyle, I completely agree with you on this point. I feel that if you look at RedSox teams put together by Epstein they point out 3-4 homegrown prospects that were big parts of why they won a WS.

    For the Cubs as the team stand right now we already have 3-4 homegrown prospects making an impact we just need the other pieces… (Rizzo, Samardza, Barney, Castro)…

    Again I ask what are we waiting for???

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Free agents to fill the Cubs holes! Again, this is going to be a sparse winter. There probably will be no good 3Bmen available. The best CFer (BJ Upton) is, to be blunt, not good anymore and getting worse. There will be some decent but not great starters. There will be lots of relievers who pitched well this year, and guessing which third will pitch well next year is a crapshoot.

      • Jeff L

        THE EPSTEIN AND MOST OF YOUR PLANS FOR THE CUBS (from what I hear from you guys might be competitive in 2016)

        Lets go into the plan you guys want to follow….

        1. Build a farm system by “tanking the MLB team”… (Drafting high)

        2. Find some players who have turn around years and trade them for prospects.

        3. Wait for prospects to develop into stars.

        If I’m missing anything let me know… With this plan and that’s saying it works we will not go after big time free agents until 2016…

        So, for the next 4 years we will not be competitive.. We will be building… This is all happening as are good young players contracts are reaching there ends and getting expensive. By paying for the prospects we have at the end of their contracts and the new free agents your talking about a Boston RedSox type payroll.

        Jim Hendry gets us to the playoffs 3 out of 9 years… With this plan in order for Epstein to match he will have to make sure that the Cubs make the playoffs the last every year but one after 2016.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Dude. Seriously. I can only say it one more time. You are missing something. Something freaking huge. Something that aligns with everything you’re saying.

          FREE. AGENTS.

          The Cubs will sign them. Lots of them. Good ones, even!

          Just probably not for 2013.

          • ssckelley

            Brett, I have a hard time believing the Cubs won’t make a play for a starting pitcher or 2 in the off season. They will make moves this off season but this free agent class is pretty weak so I do not see any big splashes.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              ? I’m not sure where I said I didn’t agree with that. I’ve said since thing one that the Cubs will be going after non-big-time starting pitchers. Several of them.

              Jeff is talking about big-time free agents (specifically, Greinke). The Cubs are very likely not going after Greinke.

              • ssckelley

                Oh I see, you were talking about big name free agents. I read your previous post wrong.

          • Jeff L

            Right you’ve been talking about 2014-2016

            One comment you STILL have not replied to was that most teams are signing extensions to players who would make a huge impact on a team such as (Cole Hamels and Matt Cain)..

            What makes you think if they don’t go for what the need last year and this year that it would be there when they finally decide to open up their pocket books?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I get it: you have a hard-on (metaphorical) for Zack Greinke. We’re going in circles, and I’m the only one trying to find middle ground. Let’s just move on.

              • Jeff L

                I have a “hard-on” as you call it for “impact players”.. I consider those difference makers and yes Zach Grienke is one of them… I would also throw Darvish into that category.

                Pitching is was the game is about and having a big time starter bodes well when they finally make a playoff run….

                Do you feel like they can succeed with middle of the road starting pitchers???

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  “Do you feel like they can succeed with middle of the road starting pitchers?”

                  Yes. That’s exactly what I’ve said. Bingo. Nailed it. (I feel like I have to say that that was sarcasm, just in case.)

                  Is this really what you think a productive conversation looks like? Pro-tip: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

                  You are arguing me on things I’ve never said. This has gone way, way past the point of being a useful discussion. In the interest of not getting frustrated, I’m done with it for now. We’ll return to it, ad infinitum, I’m sure, over the offseason.

                  • Jeff L

                    Brett,

                    You never actually said what you want the Cubs to do. You avoid questions with sarcasm. It’s really frustrating because it’s not a debate or even a discussion if thats your cop out. You still haven’t answered any of my questions. You avoid them. You say you agree with 95 percent of what the Cubs are doing but don’t explain yourself.

                    You say you don’t want the Cubs to go after Grienke, but don’t explain what path you want them to take.

                    “Im not sure where I said I didn’t agree with that. I’ve said since thing one that the Cubs will
                    be going after non-big-time starting pitchers. Several of them.”

                    I want to know if you feel like that is the right path and what free agents do you feel like they will have a chance to get down the road. Do you like that they are going after middle of the road pitchers????

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Jeff, the only reason you haven’t heard what I’ve had to say about what the Cubs should do is because you are willfully deciding not to see it. And I’ve literally answered every single one of your questions – you just decide not to hear the answers.

                      I’m breaking every rule of the Internet by even engaging you at this point, but in the interest of buttoning this up:

                      I think the Cubs should continue to accumulate young, under-control-long-term assets (prospects, young MLB players, draft picks), with an eye toward having a young, cost-controlled core (in the 22 to 27-year-old range) by 2014/2015. In those years, if things have developed well with that core, the Cubs should then supplement with free agents to fill holes. All the while, they should make prudent trades to strengthen weaknesses, continue to develop the farm system, etc. Where they see undervalued assets of ANY type (free agent, trade, old, young), they should take advantage. Because I don’t believe that the young core will be in place (such that free agents can make them, taken together, a competitive team) by 2013, I do not think spending on big free agents this Winter is prudent, especially considering the weak crop. That’s better left for next year.

                      I can’t believe I even had to type that out. That is the amalgamation of everything I’ve written on the subject since mid-season two years ago. Please, read it. Internalize it. Disagree with it if you will, but don’t pretend like I haven’t said it for YEARS, and like I haven’t spent far too much of my day answering your many questions. It’s insulting.

                      I feel like you’re trolling me, and I hate feeling that way – I’d like to continue liking you.

  • ETS

    Grienke’s #’s at wrigley are awful. Plus Social Anxiety and Chicago media don’t mix. Enough Grienke talk. It’s a bad idea.

    • AZCubsFan

      wish there was a “like” button

      • Stinky Pete

        Wish there were two “dislike” buttons.

  • die hard

    Is Tennesee SP Struck a potential starter 2013?

    • Chris

      Probably falls in the 6th-7th starter range at this point. Still, Travis Wood fell into that category too, and now he’s #3, easily. Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin, and maybe Coleman round that list out. Hopefully they get a couple of better pitchers in the top 5 to push these guys down the depth chart a bit. Raley might be a good #5 candidate though, either way.

  • http://deleted Mr. Gonzo


    Brett, a dizzying bow from the weirdos in the back.

  • http://deleted Mr. Gonzo

    kane

    • JR

      Ha…. Gonzo that funny stuff.

  • Kevin

    Great dialogue, by far the best I’ve read on this site. Thanks for everyone’s posts! There’s many ways to get to grandma’s house (consistent playoff contender and possible WS appearances) and hopefully our new FO makes the right decisions to get us there. I personally believe the Cubs new FO is solid, but, by no means, superior to other large market teams FO, we just needed to be better represented.

  • Jeff L

    Brett,

    FIrst off I don’t see how answering my questions is “breaking internet rules”… I see that most columnists argue, state points of views, and debate several topics depending on their area of expertise. If debating these topics rub you the wrong way maybe your in the wrong business.

    I personally feel like your answers is very generic. Sounds like its coming out of Epstein’s mouth from one of his many quotes to reporters. I don’t see any specifics to your answers. Do you really feel like there will be impact free agents to be had later on? Do you think a team needs a top of the line starter as 1 and 2? These are some of the questions I have asked that you have used sarcasm to run away from them.

    You gave an outline but you have given reasons why you actually see this working:)

    Lastly, I’m sorry but I’m not on this site everyday. I haven’t seen everything you wrote in your columns and on your boards. So, I’m not going to know all of your views.

    But, I have been in the same field for the last 8 years on and off.
    I worked with Bruce Levine at ESPN 1000 and also worked with Chris Myers at Fox Sports in LA. I can tell you these guys have debates with fans and with other columnists all the time and if you can’t handle it you really should find a different field. I have not used any insults or taken the debate to a level that is not professional.

    • TWC

      I don’t want to stoop to the level of calling you names, you dope, but if you don’t like Ace’s answers, or the way he runs his site, please go the fuck away. Otherwise one can only conclude that you’re a disturbed sadist who get his kicks by not controlling his impulses to hang around places that he doesn’t enjoy.

      I worked with Bruce Levine at ESPN 1000 and also worked with Chris Myers at Fox Sports in LA.

      OOOOOH, name dropping! Way to gain instant legitimacy!

      I’m sorry but I’m not on this site everyday.

      I’m not.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m sorry you feel that way, Jeff. You are mistaken not only about my ability to “handle it,” but also about my courtesy in responding prolifically (and always politely) in the comments. There are many valid reasons to criticize me – how I comport myself in the comments is not one of them.

      I can’t say I’ve enjoyed this discussion, but I can say that, for now, I’m removing myself from it. No more good can come from it.

      • Jeff L

        Brett,

        Agree to disagree, but I feel using sarcasm as a way to wiggle out of a question is not exactly “handling it”. If this is how you “comport yourself in your comments” I don’t agree with it.

        Also, big difference between you and me is that I use examples and reasoning that has some precedents. I also gives specifics for the plan he wishes the Cubs to take. I don’t just use a blank outline that probably came from many Epstein quotes.

        • JR

          Jeff, what the hell do you want Brett to say? He doesn’t think they should spend on big time free agents this offseason because they are going to suck a$$ next year. And what is the point of being several games better when you are not a playoff team in the first place? I think it makes an absolute ton of sense what he’s saying. Thats cool if you don’t agree with it, but let it go dude. Come on now..

        • Richard Nose

          I every square inch of my head is throbbing.

        • Brick Thompson

          Bretts just a random Cubs fan with a lot of free time, who writes reflections on everything Cubs. Hes not with ESPN or MLB or anything real. Just another fan using the internet to voice his opinion. I too, find it silly how seriously he thinks of himself. Go Cubs!

          • cubsin

            In defense of Brett, blogging about the Cubs is his livelyhood. He provides valuable information to me and his other regular readers. The reporters for ESPN and MLB follow all thirty Major League teams, and some also follow other sports. Brett is just as professional as those writers, with a narrower (and more interesting to me) focus.

          • Drew7

            “Not with ESPN or MLB or anything real”

            Good one.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Everything you said was spot on until the “how seriously he thinks of himself.” I’m not sure how seriously you can take yourself when you’re doodling on box scores.

            (And, despite all of that … here you are, reading.)

        • Carew

          I like pie

        • John

          Jeff, i believe the internet rule has something to do with feeding the troll.

    • Chris

      Jeff, I’m reading the same thing you are, and I have to say i get what Brett is trying to get across. Right now, the Cubs have a small core of players that can contribute to a playoff contender. Castro, Rizzo, Garza, Samardzija, Soriano. Those are guys that can probably play big roles on a contending team. Sure, there are other pieces, DeJesus, Barney, Castillo, Marmol, Wood can probably play secondary roles on a winning team. As constituted, this team cannot compete for a playoff spot. We’ve seen it this season. Heading into free agency, the Cubs should absolutely look for free agents to bring in to fill holes in the lineup and pitching staff. Here is what they have to choose from though, I’ve only included guys I think could play starting roles:

      3B Eric Chavez, Brandon Inge(has option), Mark Reynolds(option), Scott Rolen, David Wright(has option, not going anywhere), Ty Wiggington, Kevin Youklis(has option)

      These are horrible options. Youklis will probably go back to the Whitesox. They don’t have an alternative. His option is pretty hefty, $13mil, but he’ll probably get that or more in a deal with someone else. Maybe Rolen helps improve this team and will sign cheap. Chavez too. None worthy of a long term deal. But for one year with an option, this is what your choices are. Valbuena doesn’t look too bad once this market shakes out, and I hate that he plays every day.

      SP Ryan Dempster(not going to happen), R.A. Dickey(has option, won’t leave NY), Gavin Floyd(option), Greinke, Rich Harden(been there done that), Dan Haren(option), Edwin Jackson, Francisco Liriano, Shawn Marcum, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Brandon McCarthy, Jake Peavy(option), Anibal Sanchez, Ervin Santana(option), Joe Saunders, James Shields(option), Carlos Villanueva, Chien-Ming Wang, Carlos Zambrano(just kidding)

      This group has a bunch of 3rd-5th starters in it. Even with a contending team, for $20mil a year, I want no part of Greinke. Anxiety disorders and Cubs post season play just don’t seem like a good fit to me. Not worth the money he will get. Edwin Jackson would be my next choice, but he’ll at least get a qualifying offer from the Nationals. I’ll get back to that in a sec. And combination of 2 of these guys would be acceptable, if they will take a Maholm-like contract. No long term deals. No no-trade clauses. One year with an option is great. These are all guys better than what the Cubs have for the 3-5 slots in the rotation.

      As far as any other free agents go, maybe you look at an OF or maybe a reliever or two, but again, no big money deals with this bad market.

      Back to a point I didn’t make earlier… Anyone receiving a qualifying offer from their existing team requires the sacrifice of a draft pick if you sign that player. That means a 2nd round pick for the Cubs. I’ve read Kyle’s argument that 2nd round picks are always bad and that’s not a big deal. Don’t disagree completely, but here’s where I do. The draft is now only 40 rounds, and your budget is based solely on where you select in each of the first 10 rounds. Losing a 2nd round pick will decrease your budget by whatever was allocated for that pick. You can’t draft a Jeff Samarzija in the 5th round and pay him $10mil anymore. Early draft picks are important, maybe more than they’ve ever been. Another Kyle argument I want to pull from. I also agree that just acquiring prospects does not guarantee anything at the ML level. This is another reason why every draft pick counts. They only way you can increase the changes of getting a prospect or two through to the major leagues is by increasing the number of potential good young players in the organization. The Cubs 2nd round pick in 2012 is already a top 20 prospect in the organization.

      Ok, so I’ve established why I believe signing a qualifying offer player is bad at this juncture. I am also of the opinion that a guy like BJ Upton is not worth sacrificing a draft pick for, as he should receive a qualifying offer. And if he doesn’t, I’m all for the Cubs taking a stab at a guy like this. They could even afford to give him a 3-4 year deal. He can’t have a no-trade clause. It’d be nice if they didn’t give him more than $8mil a season, but the money is not the main concern. He can’t cost a draft pick and he has to be moveable if the team tanks. In fact, all free agents signed this offseason should understand that if the Cubs are not contending at the deadline that they are all trade bait to again add to the depth of the organization. My hope is those moves in 2012 lead to someone like Vizcaino being part of the core in 2013 or 2014. It’s quite possible. As the core grows, and as the number of prospects multiply in the organization, Jed and Theo must consider moving those prospects in trades to acquire players like Justin Upton. At 24 years old, he’d be a huge get for them. And signing him to a long term deal would be fiscally responsible, as he’s very talented. But to get a guy like that, the Cubs have to have the farm system to do it. They don’t quite yet, but there has been progress. And that’s the key to all this. There is measurable progress by way of the lower level teams actually playing winning baseball. Jim Hendry had success by exploiting the small market teams into giving up younger stars for prospects. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez being the best examples of this. Say what you will, but both guys locked down the corners for 4+years. These are the types of acquisitions they should look for, and they only way it will happen is restocking the farm system with desirable players.

      While I’m not Brett, I hope this gives you the thorough example of what I see as the approach they are taking right now. I feel it’s in line with what Brett has been trying to communicate to you, but he can comment, as I don’t want to speak for him. And conversely, I’d love to see your detailed plan. I’ve read your posts and all I get from them are spend money and/or sign Greinke. How do you propose the Cubs win the WS in 2013?

      • Stinky Pete

        Chris, I was enjoying your write up until I got to the Greinke part. Free to have your own opinion and all that, but I just bristle a bit when people shy away from Greinke because of “Anxiety Disorder”. I really don’t think it’s fair for schmucks like us to “diagnose” the man and determine that he would not be a good fit in this city or that city but would be okay here and there. All we know is that he had an episode. We don’t know any of the factors that may have triggered it.
        I’m still on the fence about signing Greinke, but it’s simply because I’m not sure about spending the money so soon. Let’s put this whole Anxiety thing away.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I don’t think I agree, Pete – while you’re spot on that it’s in the nature of fans to act like we know way more than we actually do, I think when you’re talking about committing $150-$180M to a player, you have to consider ALL possibilities. The *possibility* of anxiety-related problems may be very, very small for Greinke, but they’re at least slightly higher for him than a player who has never had any issues.

          Might not be a reason not to sign him, but you gotta consider it, at least.

          • Stinky Pete

            Fair enough. I guess I agree that the FO should do their homework and such. I’m just bracing for fan backlash.

        • Chris

          I did go off point a bit on Greinke there I suppose. His condition may be a non-issue, so let’s chalk that up to my personal opinion that he isn’t worth the money for various reasons. Not the same guy, but Zambrano had certain issues that led to his departure. I actually feel moving Garza would be best because his yips to first scare me a bit. What if they start happening when he pitches too? Maybe that’s me just being paranoid. Garza at least has performed in playoff situations. I only touched on Greinke because that’s the name I keep seeming the most from the posters on the other side of my argument. The Cubs “investigated” Milton Bradley too. He said all the right things in interviews, right about until the end of spring training. Again, a different guy, but one with behavior and/or mental issues. I think the pressure in Chicago, be it media or since the fans woke up in 2003, is more intense than people realize before they play here. A big signing in this town on the north side will be scrutunized heavily, and that player better be ready for it. Say what you will about Soriano, but he handled the pressure tremendously. Here’s a guy that EVERYONE hated due to an overinflated contract and underperformance for most of his time here and now he’s coming out on the other side as a good guy in all this mess.

  • Twiz

    what about ellsbury this offseason. good or bad fit? How much would we have to give up?

  • gutshot5820

    For everyone saying that the Farm is now in much better shape now that Theo is here, that’s HILARIOUS. ANY major league team, including the White Sox can re-up their farm if they decide to unload all their top players. Also, the idea of building within is a great idea as long as their prospects live up to their potential and avoid injuries, NOT LIKELY. And can someone please tell me exactly what incredible plan Theo has that no other GM in the leagues knows about?

    Building from within is a classic small market strategy because small market teams have NO OTHER CHOICE. Even with high draft choices and good development a lot can go wrong. At least prior to the CBA, Theo could outspend everyone in the draft and play the numbers game. Now, the only advantage is basically in getting a potentially higher impact player in the first round if you tank your season.

    There are no guarantees that building from within will work, jst as there is no guarantee that signing free agents will works. But i think, adding free agents only cost the Cubs money and potentially gives the Cubs a better chance to contend. This will NOT prohibit them from better drafting and development. WTH is wrong with that? Why is everyone so gung-ho on building from within. The ONLY edge the CUBS have over other teams is MONEY and they should use it.

    • Cyranojoe

      Name enough All-Star FA’s coming out this year that will make this team playoff-bound in 2013. Then tell me how much it’ll cost. And then tell me the magic formula you plan to use to make them all gel and AVOID THE SAME INJURIES that you say will hamper the build-from-within approach.

      Also, where the heck do all these superstar players come from in the first place? Is there a Superstar Minor League I’m not aware of?

    • Chris

      The farm system is in better shape. With improvements in the scouting and player development areas that they’ve instituted and with some of the young talent this regime has acquired, things are looking up. This year’s draft class, plus Soler and Paniagua, made teams in the lower minors compete for their respective post seasons. This team isn’t being put together soley for building from within. They are simply restocking a baren farm system so that two things can happen. First, the more prospects you have, the more likely one or two make it to the ML and contribute. Second, the more prospects you have, the better opportunity you have to make trades for established ML players. They didn’t gut the team like a small market club, just to save money. That’s a complete over-simplification to make your argument. It’s weak and isn’t valid. Small market teams don’t turn around and sign Cuban international free agents for $30mil. Having a high quantity of prospects increases probability of having a better ML roster, either via the system or via trade. And with the draft changes, the edge that the Cubs will have over other teams in 2013 is they will have a higher budget to sign more drafted players and a higher budget to spend on international free agents. But they are capped, so acquiring amateur talent will not be about who can spend the most going forward. It will be about how good your scouts are, and how well you can allocate your budget to get the best players locked up. It seems like a small impact, but the changes in this CBA are huge. They should spend money. Nobody is saying otherwise. But it has to be done with the future in mind.

  • mudge

    I shot a moose once.

    • Tommy

      Well done, mudge. Well done.

    • Richard Nose

      Genious.

  • JJ

    Interesting arguments back & forth. It’s been awhile since I commented on here, but I do read what you guys have to say several times a week. I didn’t see anyone mention on here that a big difference between the “old Theo” of paying a high MLB payroll and also building the farm system at the same time in Boston vs how he has done it in his first year in Chicago, has a lot to do with the draft rules back then allowed you to just spend more money in the draft to acquire a good farm system. You could pay expensive free agents at the MLB level and at the same time pay over-slot in the draft to aquire a good farm system. Seems like having higher draft picks now, increases your chance of getting impact players in the draft much more than it did in years past (as it should), when you would see top talent fall in the draft until they got to the higher payroll teams that would just pay over-slot to get them to sign. That might be over-simplifying it, obviously you still need to be a good evaluater of talent too…and by no means am I an expert on all of the new draft rules…reading this site tells me many of you know the details of the new draft rules much better than I do, but that seems like a pretty important point that is being left out.

  • Bill

    I’m not sure I’d sign Greinke, but I’d definitely kick the tires to see what it would cost.
    NO team is going to win a WS without a TOR starter and the Cubs don’t have that right now and won’t for several seasons, especially if Garza is traded. The farm system is extremely weak in pitching and there are no TOR starters anywhere near major league ready. I guess Vizcaino could be a 2 starter, but I’m skeptical he’ll ever hold up as a starter.

    A talent like Greinke doesn’t come available every year. Do the Cubs roll the dice and hope one becomes available via FA during the 2013 or 2014 offseason? That’s a risky move when you consider teams are locking up their good young talent, especially pitchers.
    It’s possible the Cubs could trade for a TOR pitcher but that is going to cost several prospects.

    Again, if the goal is to wait several years before the Cubs field a playoff/WS contender then Theo’s model works. If they plan on competing in the next couple of years then you have to seriously consider signing Greinke. If you do sign a big FA, isn’t it best to sign one when you have incredible payroll flexibility? The Cubs would still have a lot of money for future FA signees, even if they did sign Greinke. If the Cubs want to compete in the next couple of years then they must find a TOR starting pitcher. Those don’t grow on trees and there isn’t anything close to ready in the Cubs farm system.

    • Drew7

      Can I ask you what your definition of a top-of-the-rotation starter is?

      • TWC

        Dick Tidrow.

        • Drew7

          Well, obviously, but we all know he should have been hired as GM.

          Once the season ends, The Cubs will have had a pitcher in the top-25 in FIP in all of baseball, for 2 straight years. Garza finished 8th last year – topping all pitchers from the world-champion STL Cardinals.

          Even if you trade him, you have Shark who, aside from a 4-start stretch in June, pitched brilliantly this year. Sure, there’s a chance neither one pitches at those levels again, but they’ve already shown they can.

          IF they went into next year looking to compete, I don’t think the top of the rotation woild be an issue.

          • Bill

            If Garza is healthy and pitching well next spring then Theo will be trading him faster than you can say ‘Cubs win’. Theo wanted to trade him at the deadline this year.

            So, you have a 2013 rotation:
            1) ???
            2) ??? (once Garza is traded)
            3) Shark
            4) Wood
            5) An assortment of stiffs to chose from

            You think that rotation has a TOR to compete in the playoffs? Really? Even with Garza and Shark it’s not good enough unless they got another pitcher who was as good as them. Wood is really at best a 5 right now, and Russin and the rest are just god awful.

            Now, if you added Greinke to Garza and Shark, that’s a darn good rotation. If you aren’t going to sign Greinke and are going to trade Garza you might as well throw in the white towel, which is criminal given the money available this offseason and there are some decent FA pitching options to fill out the 3-5 spots in the rotation.

            At least if you put some good starters on the mound you have a chance to win a lot of games. I really think Castro is going to have a big year next year, and a full year of Rizzo will be nice. Castillo is an upgrade hitting (still needs to work on defense). No need to get rid of Soriano if he’s putting up similar numbers. Trade him, if he’ll waive the no trade clause, but only for a legit prospect. Not a lot of guys in the league are hitting 30+ HR’s and driving in 100+ RBI, so there’s no need to give him away. The Cubs can afford the money owed to him.

            I think there are a couple prospects, like Soler and Baez, who could see action in 2014, but there’s NOTHING in the pitching dept that is near ready to help. Vizcaino is a huge question mark regarding durability, McNutt looks to be a reliever, Whiteknack could be a possibility if he continues to rebound from his injury. The rest are nothing more than number 5 starters at best.

            • Drew7

              If they were looking to compete next year – like I said – then Garza wouldn’t be traded. It was a hypothetical. I said nothing about the rest of the rotation, either.

              There has been plenty of discussion around Grienke and “throwing in the towel”, so I wasn’t looking to go there. My response was to your comment that said, “The Cubs have no TOR pitchers and won’t for several seasons, especially if they trade Garza”.

              If you need to see Shark pitch like this for another year before you consider him “TOR”, then fine. But there is no debating the fact that he pitched like a 1 or a 2, and I happen to be convinced that he can do it again.

              So yes – IF you were looking to compete in 2013 (hypothetically), and you had 2011 Garza and 2012 Shark in your rotation, you’d have two TOR-starters.

            • gutshot5820

              It’s funny how everyone is so dead set on having Theo trade Garza for a few pitching prospects that may have a slight chance to be as good as…..Garza? That’s just typical insane Cubs fan thinking. Everyone is saying how difficult it is to pick up top pitching in free agency these days and we are trying to what? Trade our only young, reliable pitcher for someone who will be lucky to possibly be as good as him. For what, to save money on a younger pitcher. Stupid.

      • Bill

        Someone who is a number 1 or 2 starter. Garza would probably qualify, although we don’t know how he’ll pitch after the injury and the Cubs want to trade him. When the Cubs had Garza, Dempster, Shark, they had 3 quality starting pitchers who you weren’t scared when they took the mound.

        Greinke, Hamels, Carpenter, Wainwright, Verlander, are TOR guys. Travis Wood is NOT a TOR pitcher, nor is his ceiling one of a TOR starter (he could maybe be a number 4 starter). If you plan on winning a WS you need someone who you believe will give you a win every time he starts, and in the playoffs can pitch lights out. Wood and Prior (when they were healthy were TOR starters).

        • Jeff

          T Wood is not even a decent #4

          • Ted

            Yeah a homer-free assessment of our rotation is probably
            1 —
            2 — Garza
            3 —
            4 — Shark
            5 — Wood

            Maybe put Shark at 3, but hard to say after just one season at this level of performance.

    • ssckelley

      IMO, if the Cubs go out and spend the money to get Greinke then they need to pony up for a contract extension for Garza. But since the free agent market is down the Cubs would have to spend a ton with a long term to get him. I would feel more comfortable about the Cubs going out and getting a TOR starter if there were a few more “Greinke” type pitchers on the market.

      With the amount of holes the Cubs have in their rotation I have a hard time believing they will make a play for Greinke. I think they will go after 2 middle of the rotation type pitchers that will not cost them a fortune.

  • Shortcircuit

    Brett (or anyone that knows the answer), when you compared both Santana and Haren, you used FIP as a way to rank them. I have never heard of that stat though. What is it and what would would you say is a good FIP?

    • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

      FIP is an attempt to remove defense from the equation of how to evaluate a pitcher. By looking at BB, K, HR it tries to place it on an ERA scale.

      Check out here.

      • Shortcircuit

        Thank you, I kind of get it. Looking at it, both pitchers have struggled then with this stat. As cliché as it is I used Jeff Samardzjia as an example. In 174.2IP he has 20 hr’s, 56 walks and 180 strike outs. He also hit 4 guys. Therefore he has a 3.659 FIP. That seems good. Going with his whip and era, it’s another way to rate him.

  • Stevie B

    wow…I came into the office expecting the same old same old. You Cub fans really had something to say !
    Can I just say…”I a cub fan and a Bud man”??

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