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When Dale Sveum took over as the manager of the Chicago Cubs last offseason, he brought in a handful of new coaches with him – bench coach Jamie Quirk and first base/outfield/general-purpose coach Dave McKay, and pitching coach Chris Bosio – and retained three legacy coaches, who were already under contract for 2012: hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bench coach Pat Listach (who became the third base coach), and bullpen coach Lester Strode.

When it became clear by midseason that philosophical differences could not be overcome with respect to Jaramillo, he was dismissed in favor of interim hitting coach James Rowson, who had been brought in by the new front office as the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator (and who may or may not continue on in that role – he is under review). Strode may yet be retained as the bullpen coach, a job he’s held since 2006, for three different managers. His contract expires this year.

Listach, however, is joining Jaramillo out the door. After yesterday’s final game ended, the Cubs informed Pat Listach that he would not be brought back next year, with his contract expiring after this season.

While the decision could have been tied to Listach’s performance as third base coach (he did make some head-scratching calls throughout the year), I expect that it was more of a philosophical move, not unlike the Jaramillo dismissal. Obviously we aren’t behind those closed doors, but it appears that the decision came from the top of the organization, which suggests Listach was no longer viewed as a fit with what the Cubs are doing going forward. The Cubs will look for a replacement this Winter.

Interestingly, Listach also worked extensively with Darwin Barney over the last two seasons as he transitioned to second base, and evolved into arguably the best defensive second baseman in baseball. If results are the measuring stick, it’s easy to say that, in that area, Listach succeeded.

But he won’t be back in 2013, and the year-long transition period is almost at a close. As we saw with Jaramillo, Listach, and Oneri Fleita, the new men in charge seemed to make a priority of keeping some familiar faces around for a while to preserve institutional memory and relationships. Then, once that information and those relationships had been assimilated by new folks in the organization, and once full, fair, and long evaluations were performed, dismissals followed.

Hard to call it anything but a wise and fair approach.

  • cjdubbya

    “Hard to call it anything but a wise and fair approach.”

    and if the Twitter-sphere is to be believed, a way to open the door for Sandberg to come back. Although the Phillies also relieved a base coach (which one escapes me at the moment), so there’s that thought as well. Either way, I’d like to see him as a coach/manager in the bigs for 2013, if only because he’s my favorite player of all time.

    Still – best of luck, Pat. Hopefully, after Barney wins a Gold Glove this year (hoping this happens, just like the rest of us), you’ll find gainful employment in expedient fashion.

  • King Jeff

    I have seen his name pop in some managerial search articles, so I assume this move is simply because he’s from the Hendry era and they want a better fit, as you said.

  • LouCub

    I would love Ryno back, but it wouldn’t be fair to Dale Sveum…Everytime the Cubs lose or he makes a questionable move, he’ll be second guessed and the media and fans would clamor for Ryno..I don’t see it happening

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, I viewed Sandberg being offered/taking this job as so unrealistic as to not even merit mention.

    • cjdubbya

      That’s a good call too…like the Tebow situation with the Jets, perhaps?

    • arta

      he was just promoted to 3B coach with Phils.

  • Cubs1967

    great article in the sun-times today about the unnecessary rebuilding of a major market high ticket price cubs team. no other major market has done this. no guarantees. good job gordon wittenmeyer.

    funny how the original moneyball sabermetric GM in oakland can make a winner while “rebuilding”…….

    • Camiata2

      The A’s have pitching. The Cubs do not. Easier to win with pitching.

    • Jeff

      I looked at the sun times website and can’t find that article

    • rhino70

      Funny how the original moneyball sabermetric GM has taken the time to build a farm system that continually churns out talent he can flip for younger talent as they get closer to arbitration/free-agency.

      But don’t let facts get in the way of yet another rant…

      • Kyle

        The A’s are about to make their second playoff appearance in nine years. That’s not a model I want to follow.

        • rhino70

          Serious question, what model would you prefer to follow?

          Given what was in place when the Ricketts family bought the team, wow do you propose that the Cubs build a successful, sustainable organization?

          • Kyle

            I want the one Theo Epstein talked about when he was hired, where the Cubs build on “parallel fronts” to build both the minor leagues and farm system simultaneously.

            • Featherstone

              Since when does the minor league not equal the farm system?

              • Kyle

                Derp, it’s early. “Major leagues and the farm system”

                • Featherstone

                  Also that “parallel fronts” quote was before the terms of the new CBA were announced. He wanted to spend on the ML team and the farm system, but the new CBA really hinders that old plan.

            • rhino70

              I would love to see development on parallel fronts too, and I believe we will over the next two or three seasons. I just don’t believe it was possible to do this year.

              Coming into this season, there was very little in the way of tradable assets at the major league level or in the high minor league level. The only way to improve the major league team this season would have been via free-agency.

              Because of the associated loss of draft picks, that would have that would have hurt the development of the minor league system in the long term.

              The most potential in the minor league system was at the lowest levels of the organization. There were very few upper-level players that could have brought major-league ready talent in trade. Jackson? Vitters? Lake? Maybe, on those guys but who else? Players like Baez were’t tradable last offseason, when the Cubs could have made deals to acquire young major league talent,

              I really believe that Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod took a long look at the organization when they signed on and realized what a complete POS they had to work with.

              In the end, I don’t think they had a choice to go in any direction other than the one they went. Investing in the minor leagues first makes the most sense, given that it would yield both players for the major league team and tradable assets in the future.

              • Kyle

                “I just don’t believe it was possible to do this year.”

                And I believe it very much was, and that it’s wrong and/or revisionist to act like the Cubs were as barren as people seem to want to believe.

                “Coming into this season, there was very little in the way of tradable assets at the major league level or in the high minor league level.”

                I’m sorry, but this couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

                Tradeable assets? Let’s see…

                We had one of the best setup men in baseball, which Cincinnati was willing to pay quite a high price for.
                We had a 100-MPH young pitcher that San Diego was willing to part with Rizzo for.
                We had Matt Garza, widely considered to be one of the most valuable pieces of the offseason.

                And those are just the pieces we wanted to or did trade. We also had a young, pre-arb middle infield in place, one of the most valuable assets you can possibly have.

                We had a top-30 prospect on the verge of breaking into the majors (or so we thought, turns out he can’t hit).

                We had an athletic, hard-throwing relief pitcher who had been promised a chance to try his hand starting by the last regime, who turned out to be a darn good starter.

                This team was not the Astros. This team was not devoid of talent.

                And we have $50-60 million in payroll to work with.

                ” The only way to improve the major league team this season would have been via free-agency.”

                Good, because that’s a great way to improve a team. You don’t even have to give up any prospects to get the players you want!

                “Because of the associated loss of draft picks, that would have that would have hurt the development of the minor league system in the long term.”

                Balderdash. Any organization that can’t sacrifice the occasional 2nd-round pick and still build it’s farm system is a terrible organization, and I don’t think Theo Epstein is balderdash.

                Besides, I don’t think you even needed to sign pick-protected players to put together a competitive team on the Major League front. You just had to put together useful MLB players at every spot and not hopeless retreads.

                “The most potential in the minor league system was at the lowest levels of the organization. There were very few upper-level players that could have brought major-league ready talent in trade. Jackson? Vitters? Lake? Maybe, on those guys but who else?”

                I wasn’t particularly advocating a trade, though I’ve heard they did try pretty hard to trade Jackson for pitching, but no one was biting.

                ” I really believe that Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod took a long look at the organization when they signed on and realized what a complete POS they had to work with.”

                And I really believe that Epstein has always had the fantasy of scrapping a team and doing a multiple-season tanking rebuild, and wanted to do that regardless of what was best for the organization.

                “In the end, I don’t think they had a choice to go in any direction other than the one they went. Investing in the minor leagues first makes the most sense, given that it would yield both players for the major league team and tradable assets in the future.”

                And waste several seasons in the meantime.

                • wilbur

                  I think your argument has a lot of merit and I would have loved to listen in on the FO conversations that went on not to chose the path you suggest. I think they would have been very informative.

                  Where you lost me was at, “And I really believe that Epstein has always had the fantasy of scrapping a team and doing a multiple-season tanking rebuild, and wanted to do that regardless of what was best for the organization.”

                  Glad to understand what your beliefs are, but I can’t link your belief with anything I know that would support it. Kind of like saying I really believe Theo likes dogs more than cats. You’re welcome to your belief, but it unfairly discredit’s the course they’ve taken as not being based on a serious analysis of options.

                  We may or may not like the options they chose, but becasue they chose an option we did or didn’t like its not a great argument to say their rationale was driven by a long time fantasy. If that’s how these guys make decisions, and all the evidence suggests its not, we’re in for a long ugly ride.

          • rhino70

            *how*, not wow. D’OH!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Indeed …

        Oakland A’s in 2011: 14 games below .500.
        2010: .500
        2009: 12 games below .500
        2008: 11 games below .500
        2007: 10 games below .500
        2006: Playoffs.

        Hard to call that “winning” throughout a rebuild. They hit the playoffs in 2006, and then they didn’t go back over .500 for six(!) years.

        • EQ76

          at least they weren’t ever 40 games under .500 during their rebuilds.

          • Featherstone

            12 under or 40 under whats the difference? You both miss the playoffs but one team gets a top 3 pick where the other gets a top 15ish pick. Especially under the CBA where this also now affects later round signings and IFA’s as well. I’ll take the 40 under any day.

            • Kyle

              The difference is that the team that’s 12 under probably has a lot more MLB talent in place and can try to win the next year.

              The team that is 40 is probably going to be wasting multiple seasons.

              • TC

                If the team that is 12 under got to 12 under by signing a bunch of veterans, though, there isn’t much room for growth in successive years

              • Featherstone

                Going from 12 under to 12 over (around whats needed for a WC spot) doesn’t happen unless you have significant improvements from the players in place, a major wave of call-ups from the minors, or a spending spree on premier FA’s.

                We dont have the players in place to step-up and make that sort of difference.

                We dont have that level of talent in the upper minors to make the leap to the Majors.

                This year’s crop of FA’s is incredibly thin in the areas we need (Top-Shelf Starting Pitching, 3rd Basemen, Center Fielders)

                Sounds like we should wait for 1 of the 3 conditions to arrive before anything can be done

                • Kyle

                  “Going from 12 under to 12 over (around whats needed for a WC spot) doesn’t happen unless you have significant improvements from the players in place, a major wave of call-ups from the minors, or a spending spree on premier FA’s.”

                  That’s a gross oversimplification.

                  “We dont have the players in place to step-up and make that sort of difference.”

                  I don’t know if that’s true. Castro, Castillo, Rizzo all look capable of major leaps forward to me. Maybe a couple of the young bullpen guys like Dolis or Cabrera, though I’m not holding my breath on them.

                  “We dont have that level of talent in the upper minors to make the leap to the Majors.”

                  There’s a pretty good chance that Castillo fills C, but mostly, yes, we are pretty short on ready-to-step-in talent.

                  “This year’s crop of FA’s is incredibly thin in the areas we need (Top-Shelf Starting Pitching, 3rd Basemen, Center Fielders)”

                  Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s fairly deep on CFers and I’d call it average on overall starting pitching. We need depth as much as we need top-enders, though obviously better is always preferable.

                  It is awfully thin on 3b. Maybe we should have filled it last year instead of handing it to awful retreads.

                  “Sounds like we should wait for 1 of the 3 conditions to arrive before anything can be done”

                  Self-perpetuating problem. If you keep waiting, those three may never come.

                  • Featherstone

                    I dont believe is an oversimplification at all. Yes I believe Castro, Rizzo, and Castillo are great candidates to take step forwards with Castro cementing himself as an elite player at his position, but I’m not going to pretend that even if our core players make huge steps forward that its going to be enough to really compete. We just dont have the core in place yet.

                    We are in agreement that our top-level minors is pretty devoid of impact talent so we’ll leave that alone.

                    We agree that 3rd base FA’s are very thin this year and I dont really see any great options from last year either besides resigning Aramis.

                    Ill concede that CF is deeper than I previously thought with Hamilton, Bourn, and Upton available to headline the class.

                    Our rotation really lacks an ace first and foremost and I don’t believe Greinke fits that role. Hes a great #2 but that’s about it. If Hamels was in the class I would throw whatever it took to get him due to his age and performance, but alas he is not. Yes, there are some middle rotation pitchers available, but that wont be enough to really make our rotation strong enough to contend for a playoff spot let alone in a playoff series. There just isnt enough options available this year in that department.

                    Lastly its not really a self-perpetuating problem, we are doing everything we can to draft and develop our farm system to address issue #2 or issue #1 through trades. We have made large gains in bolstering our farm system and I dont think you can argue successfully otherwise.

                    • Kyle

                      If you want to wait until those farm system gains have matured enough to actually make a difference, then you will have wasted at least half-a-decade and all of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo’s prime years.

                      I think the problem is you have a platonic ideal of a contender that I think overstates how hard it is to be a contender in modern baseball. They have to have a certain number of pieces in place and they have to have an “ace” or whatever. I think a solid roster of useful players can be pretty contender-y. Filling all your holes is just as important as filling a few with stars.

              • MikeL

                Kyle: “The difference is that the team that’s 12 under probably has a lot more MLB talent in place and can try to win the next year.
                The team that is 40 is probably going to be wasting multiple seasons.”

                Me: *facepalm*

                Incredibly weak argument considering that the A’s finished 10 games under in 2007 and….you know…”wasted” multiple years….

                • Kyle

                  Hence the word “probably” and not “certainly.”

                  Besides the A’s at 76-86, the 2007 season featured the Texas Rangers (75-87) and the St. Louis cardinals (78-84), both of whom did pretty well for themselves in subsequent years.

                  The >90 loss club that year was the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants.

                  There’s a few gems in the second group, but given the choice, I’ll be in the former.

                  • MikeL

                    And that would STILL be a really bad argument.

                    I will give you really good example as to why:

                    Pittsburgh Pirates

                    Want another?

                    The Cleveland Indians

                    How about another:

                    Baltimore Orioles

                    I bring up these teams because they constantly hover somewhere between 10-20 games below five hundred. The pirates have done it for an entire generation.

                    Now,

                    The 2003 Tigers lost 119 games and in 2006 they were in the world series.

                    In 1962 the mets lost 120 games and seven years later…well….you know…

                    The braves lost over 100 games in the late 80s and were in the world series in less than five years.

                    The Pirates lost 104 games in 1985 and starting in 1990 had a string of 3 straight division titles.

                    The Cleveland Indians lost over 100 in 1991 and in less than 5 years WON over 100 games.

                    So now only is your argument pretty weak, it is also….in many cases….wrong.

                    • Kyle

                      The Pirates lost 94-105 games for eight straight seasons.

                      The Indians have lost 93+ three of the last four seasons.

                      The Orioles lost 93+ for five straight seasons.

                      I’m not sure where you are finding all these imaginary “stuck around 76 wins” teams, but those aren’t three good examples.

                      Yes, the 2003 Tigers lost that many games They proceeded to make the playoffs once in the next seven seasons. Is that the kind of sustained success we’re supposed to be building?

                      Around that same time:
                      The 2002 KC Royals also lost 100 and have not made the playoffs since.
                      The 2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays lost 105 games and would not make the playoffs for six years.
                      The 2002 Brewers lost 106 games and would miss the playoffs for seven out of the next eight seasons.
                      The 2003 Padres lost 98 games and missed the playoffs eight of the next 10 seasons.
                      The 2004 Mariners lost 99 games and have missed the playoffs eight consecutive seasons since.
                      The 2004 Diamondbacks lost 111 games They have missed the playoffs in six of the subsequent eight seasons.

                      There doesn’t seem to be much evidence supporting the “really terrible team helps you rebuild and become a perennial contender” theory.

                  • MikeL

                    That wasn’t my argument……

                    I think you are letting this 100 loss season bother you too much.

                    You are right, some teams that lose 90-100 games never get it turned around, but many of them do.

                    Your argument was that you would rather have a team that is 10 games under .500 because they might get it turned around faster than a team that just lost 101.

                    It took the A’s six years to get to the playoffs after their 76-86 season in 2006.

                    It took the Tigers 3 years to make it back after their 43-119 season

                    It took the Braves, Pirates, and Idians five years or less (and less time than the A’s) to make it back after losing more than 100 games.

                    I was arguing that simply having a team that is 76-86 is not necessarily in better shape in the long term (or short term) than a team that just lost 100 games. You have to look beneath the surface.

                    • Kyle

                      ” was arguing that simply having a team that is 76-86 is not necessarily in better shape in the long term (or short term) than a team that just lost 100 games. You have to look beneath the surface.”

                      And your argument seems to be based on cherrypicking the 100-win teams that turned it around the fastest and ignoring the 76ish win teams that turned it around just as fast or faster.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            The Cubs are just trying to combine those four long rebuilding years into one!

            • Jeff L

              Brett,

              If that was true and they were done rebuilding after this last year I would be cool with that. The thing is they’re not and I keep hearing 2015 or 2016 and that’s not cool for a Major Market Team……

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                ’twas just a math joke.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      The season isn’t the only thing done after today. This idiotic rhetoric is also over until March. If he doesn’t remember the Yankee rebuild of the late 80′s that put them into position where they were from the mid 90s until today, then he needs to check his history. As do you. Every chance you have got, you have bashed this FO. If you don’t like it, buy a team. If you have the perfect method for owning a team or managing it you would be a GM. You are neither. Think about that for a minute and trust people who have 2 WS under their belt. I believe the Yankeese built from the base, and then spent once they had a core of homegrown talent. That is what we are hoping to do.

    • mak

      This is the first real year the Cubs have been rebuilding. The A’s have been rebuilding for at least 3. Apples and Oranges — talk to me in 2015.

    • MikeL

      The A’s have not made the playoffs since 2006…..6 years….but let’s just ignore that fact.

  • Stinky Pete

    My Perspective on MLB coaches: We as fans CANNOT evaluate them like we do with players. You just can’t. They are there to guide players and offer assistance. Results vary by player. The best coach can’t make a lump of crap into Joe DiMaggio. And the worst coach won’t make your team into Koyie Hill. We don’t know how they go about their business or what they are saying to players.
    Funny I mention this in an article about the third base coach because that’s probably the one coach we can somewhat judge by watching the games.

    • Kyle

      Funny thing about that Yankees rebuild: They never stopped signing big-money free agents during it.

      • rhino70

        Funny thing about the Yankees rebuild, they never the playoffs while signing all those free agents.

        After the 1981 World Series, they didn’t make the playoffs again until 1995, which was when the core of the “dynasty” started to emerge from their minor league system.

        • Kyle

          “Funny thing about the Yankees rebuild, they never the playoffs while signing all those free agents.”

          Wade Boggs, Randy Velarde and David Cone are at the door and would like a word with you.

          And only one of those “core” players can be traced to the tanking phase. The rest were in the system before or were picked up in ways that didn’t require tanking.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            Derek Jeter was the 6th overall pick. They didn’t tank to get him? Bernie Williams? Jorge Posada? Mariano Rivera? All home grown when their emphasis changed. That is when they won.

            • Kyle

              Jeter was the one.

              Bernie Williams was drafted in 1985, when the Yankees had just won 87 games and were in the process of winning 97.

              Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada were signed as amateur free agents, and thus required no tanking to acquire.

              Again: The issue is not whether it’s good to have good players come from your farm system. It’s whether you need to tank to do it. You don’t.

              On those 1996 Yankees, only 2 of their 8 most valuable position players came from their own farm system. And only 2 of their 12 most valuable pitchers came from their own farm system.

              Yes, the Yankees got some talent from their farm system. But in no way does what they did resemble the tank job the Cubs are trying to pull and that you are supporting. Trying to cram them into that narrative flies in the face of facts and history.

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                That was pre-draft cap, so no, you didn’t need to.
                But, would you rather have the #2 and approximately $11M to spend on the draft or the #15 pick and approximately $4.6M to spend on the draft?

                Is 15-20 extra wins this year (pretty dam optimistic) worth that?

                • Kyle

                  “hat was pre-draft cap, so no, you didn’t need to.
                  But, would you rather have the #2 and approximately $11M to spend on the draft or the #15 pick and approximately $4.6M to spend on the draft?

                  Is 15-20 extra wins this year (pretty dam optimistic) worth that?”

                  Having 15-20 extra wins worth of players on the major league roster is worth that, yes. The players don’t just disappear after the season.

                  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                    No they don’t, but they don’t likely improve either. They likely get worse. So now you’ve spent, who knows what, $50M? $75M more? for 70 wins?
                    I don’t know who you would have signed to give you those 15 more wins, but they would likely be older guys in the decline phase of their career.

                    • Kyle

                      Wow, that escalated quickly.

                      First, the most we could possibly improve was “15-20 games”, which I didn’t bother to dispute because whatever.

                      Then it turned into spending “$50-75 million” to win 10 more games.

                      Why not just say we could have spent $150 million to get five more wins?

                    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                      The commonly accepted value of a “win” on the free agent market is $5M.

              • Chris

                The Yankees are not a good comparison. There isn’t a good comparison for what is happening with the Cubs. But why does that have to be a bad thing? Regardless of which players you believe they had a shot signing going into 2012, they wouldn’t have competed for the division, and probably not a wild card either. Just as you can say they could, I can say they couldn’t, and we’ll never know who is right, so continuing that argument is pointless. The FO is trying to implement their methodology within the organization. Mistakes have been made, but no more than any other FO that has ever controlled this team in a given season. Only now, the direction seems to be clearer. If we were to have this same argument next season, and there clearly isn’t progress shown in the ML or within the organization, I’d consider jumping to your side of things. They’ve had one complete season. They chose a path to clear out bad contracts and dead weight by letting guys go via free agency, or trading short term veterans away for long term prospects. They chose to revamp the coaching staff and scouting department. They have essembled their own guys and put them in the positions they want them to be in. They’ve done a full evaluation of the state of the organization, which couldn’t be done in the offseason. And they’ve acquired a few pretty good talents to make the organization deeper. That’s a success, despite the record, in my eyes. As I stated above, I don’t care that we can’t find a successful comparison for what the Cubs are doing. I don’t think there is a true comparison. They are in a new environment. The Yankees were allowed to draft and sign players for unlimited amounts of money. They spent lavishly in latin America. The Cubs should have been doing those things all along, but the Tribune company only increased their budget when it came time to sell the team. . Now those windows are closed with the new budget limits. New things need to be attempted, and these guys in charge appear to be smart enough to figure out a new way. That’s what I expect from them, given the money and level of control they are receiving.

                • Featherstone

                  There isn’t really ever going to be a comparison because no other team had to deal with the CBA as we do now. It’s just that much harder to outdraft your opponents when you dont have a large pool of money to do it with. Yes we have a financial advantage over most teams but that strength is much less profound than it used to be.

          • rhino70

            Boggs was gone after the 97 Season. Although he was part of the 96 World Series team, he wasn’t part of the “dynasty”.

            Cone and Velarde are great examples of acquiring talent for a playoff run.

            Cone was acquired from the Blue Jays for 3 minor leaguers in 1995, and then re-signed by the Yankees for the duration of the “dynasty” years.

            Velarde wasn’t part of the “dynasty”. He was acquired from Texas in August of 2001 for 2 minor leaguers and made a huge contribution to the last World Series team.

            • Kyle

              “Boggs was gone after the 97 Season. Although he was part of the 96 World Series team, he wasn’t part of the “dynasty”.

              Cone and Velarde are great examples of acquiring talent for a playoff run.

              Cone was acquired from the Blue Jays for 3 minor leaguers in 1995, and then re-signed by the Yankees for the duration of the “dynasty” years.

              Velarde wasn’t part of the “dynasty”. He was acquired from Texas in August of 2001 for 2 minor leaguers and made a huge contribution to the last World Series team.”

              The goalposts, they are a shiftin’.

              Are we talking about the “dynasty” or are we talking about how the Yankees made it back to the playoffs.

              The story some are trying to advance is that the Yankees did what the Cubs are trying to do: Gave up on free agents, tanked the team, rebuilt, and then made a dynasty out of their homegrown prospects and began to fill in around them once they blossomed.

              That’s simply not true. The Yankees did have some horrible seasons, and one of them did net them Derek Jeter in the draft. But they never tanked. They always tried to build a good team. They were constantly trying to make trades for MLB players and signing free agents. When the right mix of trades, free agents and the farm system finally hit, they built a dynasty. But they never stopped trying, like the Cubs have.

              • rhino70

                I have been, and will continue to, talk about building a dynasty. As much as we are all starved for a World Series, I want a run like the Yankees had from 95-01.

                You’re right about they Yankees never tanking. They didn’t. Steinbrenner wouldn’t allow it. However, I contend that they wouldn’t have had the sustained period of success they had if Steinbrenner not been removed from the team via suspension.

                • Kyle

                  Except the wide majority of the key homegrown players that helped sustain the dynasty were already in place when Steinbrenner was suspended.

                  The only one who wasn’t was drafted No. 6 overall the next season, and I’m not sure how Steinbrenner would have prevented that from happening, but I’ll go with it.

                  It’s a classic case of “post hoc ergo prompter hoc.” Steinbrenner was suspended, then people noticed that the Yankees had some nice homegrown talent coming, so people assumed that the former caused the latter.

                  Much like people have been trying to praise Epstein for the Cubs’ abundance of prospects in Boise.

              • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                That is correct, aqcuiring talent for a playoff run is great. BUT, signing them for the sake of spending money does nothing. You have to have a reason for what you do. I have yet to see a logical Free Agent signing that was reasonable in price that would have helped us this year. I will keep waiting, while we keep throwing arbitrary information out there without providing anything useful. Yes, the Yankees put an emphasis on the farm with the people I said above and that is when it paid off for them. I am not responding to every claim you make, but show me how the Yankees thought their future was with David Cone and not Jeter, Williams, Rivera, and Posada. Show me how they did not put an emphasis on talent from the minors. Did you not know that by tanking we also have the 2nd highest international spending amount? That is where Rivera and Posada came from. Not everything is through the draft. I wish people weren’t so one sided and would open their eyes and realize this aspect is as big if not bigger than the draft for building talent in the minor leagues.

          • Chris

            I just don’t agree that they purposely, and completely tanked going into 2012. Gutting the team at the trade deadline is a different conversation, but I think they made efforts to have a competitive team, as long as they weren’t impactful to the long term goals. Otherwise, why bother signing DeJesus, Maholm, or trading for Stewart in the first place? They had younger players with Colvin for the OF and LeMahieu for 3rd base. Vitters in the wings. Cardenas was picked up. Valbuena was picked up. If it was a straight tank job, they literally would have done nothing and allowed the players assembled to show what they have. Given the results of acquiring Stewart, and how Colvin outperformed DeJesus, I would have preferred if they did just go with the players that were already on the roster. You can call the midseason purge a tanking if you like, but those moves were done with purpose, not just to make the team bad. Vizcaino was a good get for Maholm. Prospects acquired for Dempster may still pan out, but that might have been an opportunity lost. Moving Soto for anything was good to open up a spot for Castillo. Bottom line, moving short term players for long term guys was a good decision, once they were clearly out of the race. You can make arguments that they made the wrong moves going into the season, but I don’t think it was a complete tank-job purposely perpetrated by this FO.

            • Kyle

              “Otherwise, why bother signing DeJesus, Maholm, or trading for Stewart in the first place?”

              DeJesus, I’m guessing, was an attempt to flip that didn’t go quiet as well as they hoped, they he still may be flipped next year.

              Maholm was as blatant a flip as it comes. It was obvious from Day 1 that they signed him with the intent of trading him at the deadline. And it worked pretty well.

              Stewart? Oh my goodness. If I were trying to make a major league team as awful as possible, I’d had my 3b job to someone like Stewart. He is Exhibit A in the “They Tanked” casebook.

              ” They had younger players with Colvin for the OF and LeMahieu for 3rd base. Vitters in the wings. Cardenas was picked up. Valbuena was picked up. If it was a straight tank job, they literally would have done nothing and allowed the players assembled to show what they have.”

              Absolutely not. The last thing a team that wants to tank and rebuild will do is throw prospects into the fire that aren’t ready.

              ” Given the results of acquiring Stewart, and how Colvin outperformed DeJesus, I would have preferred if they did just go with the players that were already on the roster. You can call the midseason purge a tanking if you like, but those moves were done with purpose, not just to make the team bad. Vizcaino was a good get for Maholm. Prospects acquired for Dempster may still pan out, but that might have been an opportunity lost. Moving Soto for anything was good to open up a spot for Castillo. Bottom line, moving short term players for long term guys was a good decision, once they were clearly out of the race. You can make arguments that they made the wrong moves going into the season, but I don’t think it was a complete tank-job purposely perpetrated by this FO.”

              Okay, then I want you to explain one thing:

              The bullpen. The bullpen was the worst in the major leagues, by a wide margin. The bullpen was the only one in the majors *below* replacement level, meaning they should have been able to find a better one without trying or putting any resources into it.

              So you have either two choices:

              1) The Cubs front office intentionally put together a terrible bullpen.
              2) The Cubs front office tried to put together an adequate bullpen, but failed through their own incompetence at it.

              Which explanation do you prefer?

              • Chris

                “DeJesus, I’m guessing, was an attempt to flip that didn’t go quiet as well as they hoped, they he still may be flipped next year.

                Maholm was as blatant a flip as it comes. It was obvious from Day 1 that they signed him with the intent of trading him at the deadline. And it worked pretty well.”

                I disagree. These were players signed to help get quality innings/at bats for a team that didn’t have depth in either position. I fully believe they were happy to keep Maholm and excercise his option year if a trade didn’t develop. The only reason they moved him was because the Braves were desperate and willing to include a pretty good young pitcher in return.

                “Stewart? Oh my goodness. If I were trying to make a major league team as awful as possible, I’d had my 3b job to someone like Stewart. He is Exhibit A in the “They Tanked” casebook.”

                I disagree. You can spout your sabermetrics on Stewart as much as you want. They don’t give up Colvin and LeMehieu to get a guy solely to tank. Whether they made an error in judgment is not the point here. They tried something and it didn’t work. Stewart was a bust. Teams try to buy low all the time. You have to take your head out of the Sabermetrics book occassionally and use your eyes to see a player play. Stewart was a highly touted prospect who has had down years that were linked to an injury that he’s had for quite awhile. The ignored the statistics and picked up a guy they thought might rebound based on their previous scouting of him. If he did rebound, that would have been a genius move. It backfired. He’ll be gone and you move on. Not a blatant tank move.

                “Absolutely not. The last thing a team that wants to tank and rebuild will do is throw prospects into the fire that aren’t ready.”

                LeMahieu and Colvin have been in the majors most of his season. Both are ready. This would have absolutely been the thing to do, to see what you have and try to fill the existing holes. They were traded because Colvin strikes out too much and the FO took a chance on a guy that might have power for a corner position, which they were lacking.

                “Okay, then I want you to explain one thing:

                The bullpen. The bullpen was the worst in the major leagues, by a wide margin. The bullpen was the only one in the majors *below* replacement level, meaning they should have been able to find a better one without trying or putting any resources into it.”

                Why couldn’t they have been assessing what they had? Again, forget WAR for a second… This team was not terrible because the bullpen sucked. They have several young arms and it was beneficial for those arms to get major league innings in the bullpen. Dolis, Cabrera, Russell, Beliveau, are all going to be servicable bullpen guys in their careers. Chapman was also a nice surprise. I hated both Camp and Corpas for the entire season. I can’t explain to you why those two were kept around, other than to eat the innings that were stacked up due to the bad second half starting rotation. But the eye test tells me this bullpen wasn’t as bad as your stats dictate. It wasn’t a solid bullpen for a playoff run, but the experienced gained by the younger players will only help solidify it in future seasons.

                “So you have either two choices:

                1) The Cubs front office intentionally put together a terrible bullpen.
                2) The Cubs front office tried to put together an adequate bullpen, but failed through their own incompetence at it.

                Which explanation do you prefer?”

                These are not the only two choices. They’re just the two things that help your argument the best. I prefer that they didn’t overspend on bad bullpen arms, and tried multiple people out to see if they could salvage anything. Paying bullpen guys big money is money spent poorly, Marmol case in point. Establishing which young guys and which veterans can move forward with you in the bullpen is fine for what this season was going to be. Keeping Marshall and overpaying him as his contract came due was pointless when you could get a starting pitcher under control longer, a backup OF that will be here for awhile, and a potential infield prospect who had a decent season.

                • Kyle

                  “I disagree. These were players signed to help get quality innings/at bats for a team that didn’t have depth in either position. I fully believe they were happy to keep Maholm and excercise his option year if a trade didn’t develop. The only reason they moved him was because the Braves were desperate and willing to include a pretty good young pitcher in return.”

                  You can disagree as much as you want, but my explanation was commonly held at the time *and* was proven out by what happened. As my explanations have an uncanny habit of doing (reckless pre-season Travis Wood infatuation notwithstanding :) ).

                  “I disagree. You can spout your sabermetrics on Stewart as much as you want. They don’t give up Colvin and LeMehieu to get a guy solely to tank.”

                  Giving up Colvin and LeMaheiu is pretty much the equivalent of giving up nothing. Those guys are non-entities. They are the sort of borderline AAAA players that every organization has about a dozen of and can trade anytime they want.

                  They called the Rockies and said “Hey, that 3b you don’t want anymore? We’ll take him, and you can have a couple of worthless players we don’t want anymore to fill out your roster.” And thus a deal was completed.

                  ” Whether they made an error in judgment is not the point here. They tried something and it didn’t work. Stewart was a bust. Teams try to buy low all the time.”

                  If could excise one phrase from the 2000s baseball fan’s vocabulary, it would be “buy low.” That concept has been abused beyond repair to justify all manner of bad moves.

                  David DeJesus had seven straight seasons of being a useful outfielder, but a low BABIP had made his stats look a little soft in 2011. He was a buy-low candidate.

                  Ian Stewart was (and still is) waiting for his first 1.5 WAR season, which would make him merely a below-average starter. That’s not “buy low,” it’s just buying an asset with low worth.

                  “You have to take your head out of the Sabermetrics book occassionally and use your eyes to see a player play.”

                  Ah, that old cliche. I’m surprised it took someone so long to break it out.

                  “Stewart was a highly touted prospect who has had down years that were linked to an injury that he’s had for quite awhile.”

                  Unfortunately for him and us, his down years began *before* the wrist injury.

                  That’s why I argued all offseason it was a terrible pickup. There are three types of hitters who are bad bets to improve:

                  1) Hitters leaving Coors Field
                  2) Hitters with high K rates who show a sudden loss in ability
                  3) Hitters who depend on power and are coming off of wrist injuries.

                  Stewart hit the perfect trifecta of red flags.

                  “The ignored the statistics and picked up a guy they thought might rebound based on their previous scouting of him. If he did rebound, that would have been a genius move. It backfired. He’ll be gone and you move on. Not a blatant tank move.”

                  Well, I knew it was going to backfire, so we’re left with either I know more about baseball than they do, or they did it knowing it wouldn’t work and didn’t care. I’m going with the second option, though I’m flattered if anyone thinks the former is an option :)

                  “LeMahieu and Colvin have been in the majors most of his season. Both are ready.”

                  Does being part of the Rockies roster-fill make them major-league quality players? Not really.

                  They aren’t the first bad players to experience the brief illusion of usefulness when batting in Coors, and they won’t be the last.

                  “Why couldn’t they have been assessing what they had?”

                  Well, for the most part, very little of that bullpen was “what they had.” Much of it was outside pickups.

                  ” Again, forget WAR for a second… ”

                  Why?

                  “This team was not terrible because the bullpen sucked.”

                  It was a pretty big part of it.

                  “They have several young arms and it was beneficial for those arms to get major league innings in the bullpen. Dolis, Cabrera, Russell, Beliveau, are all going to be servicable bullpen guys in their careers.”

                  Alll four will be? That’s a pretty big assumption.

                  “Chapman was also a nice surprise. I hated both Camp and Corpas for the entire season. I can’t explain to you why those two were kept around, other than to eat the innings that were stacked up due to the bad second half starting rotation. But the eye test tells me this bullpen wasn’t as bad as your stats dictate.”

                  Then your eyes are wrong.

                  ” It wasn’t a solid bullpen for a playoff run, but the experienced gained by the younger players will only help solidify it in future seasons.”

                  That’s an awfully big hope.

                  “I prefer that they didn’t overspend on bad bullpen arms, and tried multiple people out to see if they could salvage anything.”

                  And since not a single one of the people they tried turned into anything useful, that would lead us toward the “incompetence” theory.

                  “Paying bullpen guys big money is money spent poorly, Marmol case in point. Establishing which young guys and which veterans can move forward with you in the bullpen is fine for what this season was going to be.”

                  And the fact that they didn’t find a single useful one, again, points to either not really trying or incomptence.

                  You don’t need to spend big money to avoid having a bullpen this awful.

                  “Keeping Marshall and overpaying him as his contract came due was pointless when you could get a starting pitcher under control longer, a backup OF that will be here for awhile, and a potential infield prospect who had a decent season.”

                  Agreed, that was an awesome trade.

                  • Chris

                    Nothing you have continued to repeat has proven anything. We agree on Stewart. I just don’t agree with your assumption that it was purposefully done to tank the season. LeMahieu was considered a prospect. Colvin has had success at the Major League level. You cannot convince me that having Colvin in this lineup wouldn’t have been more productive than having LaHair, Byrd, or Jackson. Simliarly, LeMahieu would have been more productive than Stewart, and maybe Valbueana too. And we already knew he could play good defense at 3rd. They didn’t bother to keep either player because they wanted power at 3rd, and clearly didn’t agree with your assessment of Stewart. He was hurt in 2010. He’s not been the same player since that time. Prior to that, he did show power numbers, and not just at Coors field. And he was highly rated defensively. I’m not some meathead that thinks all sabermetric analysis is garbage. Twisting my comments to suggest that is convenient for your arguments, but not an accurate portrayal of what I’m saying. I just don’t think you can just look at WAR and always be able to predict future success. Stewarts sample size is extremely limited, and half of it was accumulated with an injured wrist. This was a bad move for many different reasons, but I cannot look at it as the obvious no-brainer tank move that you are calling it. Great job in being ahead of the curve on this one I don’t feel this move makes the FO bad at their jobs. They made a mistake on a guy, and despite what you’re willing to acknowledge, there is information available to say it was worth the chance. Your simplification of my points on the bullpen are also self serving, but miss the point. This was a bad bullpen. Any statistical analysis will tell you that. They auditioned guys all season, but also kept a few veterans around to eat innings and pick up the pieces when the young guys wet themselves. Sveum also allowed guys more leeway, especially the younger guys, as a teaching mechanism. If you watched any games at all, you’d know what I’m talking about. And if you break down your analysis between the first half and the second half of the season, you will see things trending worse as the bullpen became more taxed, which was a result of gutting the rotation at the deadline. However, the lessons the younger players received in the bullpen were absolutely helpful to their development, and in some cases you actually saw the improvement as the season progressed. WAR doesn’t tell you that. Sure, this bullpen could have been better. In hindsight, we can go back and look at players available, and probably find some nice fits. The purpose of this year’s bullpen was clearly obvious. They spent the season trying out Bowden, Ascencio, Corpas, Camp, Hinshaw, Socolovich, Maine, Wells, Parker, Coleman, Castillo, etc. Marmol, Russell, Beliveau, Dolis, Cabrera, Chapman, are all guys that have shown ability to pitch in a major league bullpen, and will probably be the core of the 2013 staff next year. I would guess a veteran or two will be sprinkled in, but having a young bullpen is a good thing, and now they have young experienced players versus green rookies.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Yes, the Yankees signed people just to sign people, and were horrible throughout the 80s and early 90s. But, until they put emphasis on the farm, they didn’t win, let alone consistently. Why spend money to spend it when it isn’t smart? I hear people all of the time saying lets sign people, but who? Don’t throw shit out there and expect it to stick. Who is out there that makes us a playoff contender?

        • Kyle

          When exactly did they “put the emphasis on the farm system” and stop signing people? I’d like to know when you think that happened.

          • rhino70

            When Steinbrenner was suspended for the Spiria/Winfield incident, the front office was able to make moves to build the farm system without his interference. They drafted and developed the core of Williams/Jeter/Posada/Rivera during that time.

            The book “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty” talks about this stuff, and it’s an excellent read.

            • Kyle

              Books exist to tell stories, not truth.

              Okay, so your theory is that when Steinbrenner was suspended from July 30, 1990 to 1993, it allowed the team to focus on farm system.

              Out of those four players you listed, only one was acquired during Steinbrenner’s suspension. Two were drafted before the suspension, and one was signed before the suspension.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Books exist to tell stories, not truth.

                Well, there are genres called “history,” “science” (but not economics) where the point is to develop a thesis and test rival ideas…..

              • rhino70

                Books exist to tell stories, not truth.

                I was really enjoying the debate we’ve had until you dropped this little nugget on us. There’s a whole classification called Non-Fiction. Check it out some time.

                As far as the players I listed, yes, Jeter was the only one drafted while Steinbrenner was suspended. So what???

                With Steinbrenner gone, they Yankees were able to keep and develop their minor league talent. I don’t think that all four of the players I listed would have been Yankees long-term if Steinbrenner had remained in control of the team during those three seasons. Add Andy Pettite to that list too, and I don’t think there would have been players available to acquire Tino Martinez or Paul O’Neill. Steinbrenner continually traded tomorrow for today, and I believe he would have short-circuited the long-term success of the Yankees if he had not been suspended.

                • rhino70

                  I’ve got to learn how to use block quotes!

                • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                  This is exactly my point, but he sees talent as black and white. Steinbrenner never would have kept any of these players back in the day. He would have traded them in a heart beat for a player in decline that put up numbers and put butts in the seat. With Steinbrenner gone there was a new emphasis placed on player development and it pay dividends. That is exactly the model I want. Build a core, and spend when you have the talent to compete. Spend when you need that player to get you over the hump. I have still not seen one player mentioned who he thinks was worth the money spent to go out and buy, who would have moved us from the 2nd pick and 2nd most international spending to 10th in each.

                • Kyle

                  ” There’s a whole classification called Non-Fiction.”

                  Non-fiction is the worst offender of all, because it uses facts to tell a story that may or may not be true.

                  I had this discussion with someone the other day, regarding the book Moneyball. There is almost no limit to how much I love Michael Lewis as a writer. The section on Taylor and Theisman in The Blind Side was literally my favorite chunk of sportswriting of all time. It gave me chills. But when you read a non-fiction Michael Lewis book, you should know that you are getting facts written to a story that is probably not true.

                  Despite what my friend had read in Moneyball

                  1) The A’s were not any sort of revolution that brought statistics to baseball. They were one of several saber-savvy teams at the time, and probably not the best at it. They were continuing a long tradition that went back to Branch Rickey. Heck, Beane learned most of what he knew from Sandy Alderson.

                  2) The A’s were a really good defensive and baserunning team during the Moneyball years.

                  ” I don’t think that all four of the players I listed would have been Yankees long-term if Steinbrenner had remained in control of the team during those three seasons”

                  Steinbrenner was back in 1993. Why weren’t those players traded in 1993, 1994, or 1995?

                  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                    Ok, I stopped at Branch Rickey. I am a historian and what he did is counteractive to your whole argument. He didn’t use sabermetrics. He bought as much minor league talent as possible to have them under control, because back then there wasn’t free agency and you could pay a player what you wanted and they couldn’t go elsewhere. He knew he was bound to hit on some players. He was the first to implement a farm system that big and since has shrunk by a ton. Isn’t that what you are arguing against? He had no part in advanced numbers. He didn’t sign free agents. He just signed talent cheap and paid them cheaper. As a talent you were rewarded with a chance. He has no place being in this conversation.

                    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                      I should have said instead of free agents, he didn’t buy players from other teams like was customary back in those days. That is why the Yankees have as many titles as they have.

                    • Kyle

                      “Ok, I stopped at Branch Rickey. I am a historian and what he did is counteractive to your whole argument. He didn’t use sabermetrics.”

                      I’m sorry, and I really don’t like to be this direct and mean about it, but you can’t be much of a baseball historian if you weren’t aware of Rickey’s use of statistical analysis.

                      http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/2011/03/was-branch-rickey-the-father-of-sabermetrics-27771

                      Branch Rickey was known *at the time* to be the most statistically inclined of all baseball executives. He *invented* the pre-cursor to OPS, saying that OBP + ISO (which is SLG minus BA) was the most important offensive statistic.

                      ” He bought as much minor league talent as possible to have them under control, because back then there wasn’t free agency and you could pay a player what you wanted and they couldn’t go elsewhere. He knew he was bound to hit on some players. He was the first to implement a farm system that big and since has shrunk by a ton.”

                      That’s actually a form of sabermetrics right there. He analyzed the market and decided where his resources could be most efficiently applieed.

                      ” Isn’t that what you are arguing against?”

                      Absolutely, positively not. If you still think I’m against developing the farm system, you aren’t listening.

                      “He had no part in advanced numbers.”

                      I’m trying to think of a nice way of getting across just how wrong this is. That’s like saying “Babe Ruth didn’t hit home runs” or something.

  • Jeff

    Just saw the article and it was very well written. Honestly it said what I have been preaching for a whole year. The Cubs have the money and we as fans should not stand for a rebuilding like this when they expect us to pay the 3rd highest ticket prices in baseball

    • EQ76

      amen!

    • EJF174

      The only vote that matters is the one you make with your wallet. We can preach all we want about not tolerating these ticket prices, but until we stop two fisting $7.00 Oldstyles from $60 bleacher seats nothing is going to change. I hate to say it but Ozzie Guillen was right… since the early 80′s, thanks to marketing genius, Wrigley Field has been little more that “just a bar” It’s an incredible party, and people are willing to pay the cover.

  • baseballet

    I like what the front office is doing, but I think the Cubs should spend a bit more on payroll during the rebuild. Not so much that they hamstring themselves in the future (e.g., Greinke) but enough to increase the quality of the free agents a little bit. Like a super version of Joe or a free agent pitcher who’s floor is higher than Volstad’s.

    • Featherstone

      So a Super version of Super Joe? A Super Super Joe, what madness is this?

  • MB allbearsbullscubs

    What we have to remember is that Oakland is not a big market. Just think what we would do if our front office traded Castro ( like they did Gio) for minor league players with up side not knowing if they will turn out like Felix Pie or Corey Patterson. We would run Theo and company out of Chicago. In Oakland you can do those things

  • Rizzonkulous

    Jeff, then don’t stand for the rebuild and go elsewhere. I don’t think anyone on this board likes a 100 loss season, but most of us seem to understand that a complete rebuild from top to bottom was in order. The lack of talent, particularly top end pitching in the system is shockingly lacking. You can’t build an solid organization through free agent spending, ask the Angels, Dodgers, and Marlins(or the Cubs for the past decade) how that went for them. Not only did they not win crap but now they have these albatross contracts on their books that actually impede their progress. At this point I’d rather be a 100 loss team that is building with young talent throughout the system and financial flexibility for the future than an old overpaid 75 win team tied into long term contracts.

    • donnie kessinger

      Well said…

    • SoCal Cubs Fan

      DITTO! Either get on board or move on! We have tried the spending on free agents methode and it didn’t work. Yes, I would like to see some better free agents signed for next year, but not at the cost of any draft choices! We need to keep the draft and developement train rolling.

      • Kyle

        So I’m guessing everyone who is advocating fans should leave if they don’t like the method, and didn’t like the Hendry method, are admitting they abandoned the team under Hendry? Bandwagon fans :)

  • Curt

    I think that cubs fans give theo and the fo a pass for a couple years if we’re still this bad in 2 more years then you should start bitching ,until then give it a rest. I do however agree with the point that the ticket prices are kinda high for an awful team, they should give fans a little break until things start to turn around.

    • mudge

      Amen, Curt.

  • Jeff L

    Kyle I agree with you here. These fans sound like backwards bandwagon fans lol. They love the plan when they lose 100 games and the gms name is Theo. But good question did they run away when Hendry was running the team.

    I love the Cubs but I hate the way Theo is running the team. I hate the fact that Ricketts is sitting on a pile of cash and is unwilling to spend the money. I really think you guys should read the article in the SunTimes this morning. Really proves the point I’ve been trying to make for the last year!!!!

  • rick

    Kyle, do you have season tickets you can’t afford and are mad you did not get to sale them on stub hub for highly inflated prices this year? This team is a mess and its going to take some time to fix it. Whats the point at throwing good money at bad.

    • Jeff L

      Rick, because it takes money and time to build your team back up. Now more than ever you have a greater chance of making it to the playoffs. The wildcard now has 2 teams. Also, you should pick off the top pitchers available like Greinke for the very reason they are so rare. You sign them for 5-8 years and let them grow with your youngsters.

      At least give yourself a dart to throw at the board and see if it sticks. It’s not right to not even try to win. Epstien realizes the Cubs have many fans like you Rick who allow a 3rd Major Market Team and the 3rd highest ticket prices in baseball to rebuild like this.

      You guys got to wake up and smell the coffee and understand the reason Epstein feels he’s allowed to rebuild like this is you and many other “blind followers” “luvable losers” fans that are so used to losing that they are ok with it. Believe me Boston or New York fans would never stand for it. I am a Cubs fan but I’m not a “blind follower” “luvable loser” …

      Please I beg you read the article in the SunTimes this morning and you will understand our point of views!!!

  • sclem21

    One year bereft of a marquee free agent signing does not a ‘give up’ make. Come on, they came in and took a year to evaluate and move some pieces around, in the scheme of things I dont really think its worth castrating the FO over.

    Especially, when they have repeatedly said they are not afraid to pull from the free agent pool when they feel it can make a substantial difference. Could we have used help at 3B this year? Probably. But do I mind taking a min risk flier on a guy like Ian Stewart who fit the mold of a change of scenery candidate and was a top prospect not too long ago? Heck no. Now go ahead and name me the 3B free agent that would have turned this season around?

    You talk about getting better during a rebuild but mention our pre-arb, young middle infielders as key moveable pieces? BS. You talk about not moving Garza as some sort of evidence they didnt utilize the trade assets they had when it was widely accepted that if he hadnt been injured he would have been dealt in a snap.

    Seriously, this team lost 100 games, it wasnt a few veteran signs a way from being a contender. And for the guy acting victimized that the FO didnt spend $ they had when he had to pay top dollar to go to games, just quit it. Throwing money at overpriced vets isnt a sustainable answer. Try giving them more than one season to make a difference before you start whining, its not like Theo tried to guise the plan…he said from the get go its not going to happen overnight. He was straight forward and transparent and at that point you have no room to complain, not after year one anyways.

    Whether you like the plan or not, give it more than its infancy to succeed.

    • Kyle

      “One year bereft of a marquee free agent signing does not a ‘give up’ make. Come on, they came in and took a year to evaluate and move some pieces around, in the scheme of things I dont really think its worth castrating the FO over.”

      It was a year in which they apparently did everything they could to ignore the MLB roster in favor of acquiring more prospects and saving resources for the future, and they have given every indication of intending to do the same a second time. Though, as I note later in this post, they do lie a lot, so maybe they don’t really intend on tanking 2013.

      “Castrating” is a bit extreme, but they are not above criticism for their strategic choices.

      “Especially, when they have repeatedly said they are not afraid to pull from the free agent pool when they feel it can make a substantial difference.”

      They say lots of things. They also said that “every season is a sacred chance to win” and that they wanted to build on “parallel fronts.” I have no reason to believe anything they say, I only believe what they do.

      “Could we have used help at 3B this year? Probably. But do I mind taking a min risk flier on a guy like Ian Stewart who fit the mold of a change of scenery candidate and was a top prospect not too long ago? Heck no. Now go ahead and name me the 3B free agent that would have turned this season around?”

      1) I do mind a guy like Ian Stewart. A lot. He was a very good bet to be terrible and he was terrible. I could write large novels on how much I hated that pickup.

      2) Loaded question. A single 3b free agent would not have turned this season around. A coherent, roster-wide plan to compete from the beginning of the offseason could have yielded enough improvements all around to turn the season around.

      “You talk about getting better during a rebuild but mention our pre-arb, young middle infielders as key moveable pieces? BS. You talk about not moving Garza as some sort of evidence they didnt utilize the trade assets they had when it was widely accepted that if he hadnt been injured he would have been dealt in a snap.”

      There was never a need for a “rebuild.”

      The point wasn’t that they should trade those guys. The point was that this roster had a lot of assets. People want to tell the story that Epstein took over a hopeless team, devoid of talent, and had no choice but to send them to 100 losses this year. It’s not true.

      “Seriously, this team lost 100 games, it wasnt a few veteran signs a way from being a contender.”

      They lost 100 games mostly because they employed a shocking number of the worst players in baseball.

      “And for the guy acting victimized that the FO didnt spend $ they had when he had to pay top dollar to go to games, just quit it. Throwing money at overpriced vets isnt a sustainable answer.”

      You’d be shocked at how much I don’t care that they didn’t sign a Pujols or a Fielder. I simply wanted competitive MLB players at every position and not intentionally putting together a bad roster.

      “Try giving them more than one season to make a difference before you start whining, its not like Theo tried to guise the plan…he said from the get go its not going to happen overnight. He was straight forward and transparent and at that point you have no room to complain, not after year one anyways.”

      He also said from the get-go that he would build on “parallel fronts” and “every season is a chance to win, and every chance to win is sacred.” Turns out he didn’t mean any of that.

      But regardless, a bad strategy is a bad strategy whether he telegraphed it or not.

      “Whether you like the plan or not, give it more than its infancy to succeed.”

      It may well succeed, but it was still a bad plan. Betting your paycheck on a spin of the roulette wheel at the local casino is a bad plan regardless of whether it succeeds or not, and so is a major market throwing away seasons in a tanking rebuild.

      • Jeff L

        Kyle honestly I was cool with them not getting fielder or pujols either. But I was pissed that Epstein didn’t go after Darvish the way he went after Dice K in Boston. Darvish is young and a great pitcher big mistake!!!

        • Featherstone

          They did go hard after Darvish, but dont let the facts get in your way.

          • Kyle

            “hard” being a very relative term, and being based on nothing but vague, unsourced media reports.

            “We didn’t sign anyone useful, but we had competitive bids” was the classic MacPhail Era line, and I’d rather that not become a halllmark of the new regime.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              “vague, unsourced media reports”

              You mean “anonymously” sourced. And, what, you’re expecting Theo to confirm the fact of, and amount of, the Cubs’ bid? Come on now. This ain’t your first rumor rodeo. Don’t shit on widely accepted truths because they don’t serve your argument. It torpedos the rest of what you’re saying, and frankly, I don’t want to see that happen. I like the discussion too much.

              Don’t give people cheap excuses to dismiss your entire argument, I guess, is what I’m saying.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett
              • Kyle

                “You mean “anonymously” sourced.”

                Yes. Speaking as a journalist now, anonymous sourcing is equal to no sourcing at all. You can find anyone to say anything if they don’t have to put their name behind it in print.

                That’s why so many of these anonymous sources contradict each other. In a single offseason, we were in on Pujols, not in on Pujols, meeting with Pujols, not meeting with Pujols, offering him a short-term deal at $30 million/year and not offering him anything at all. You can pick out any of those you want to believe, and suddenly you’ve got reports sourcing it.

                “And, what, you’re expecting Theo to confirm the fact of, and amount of, the Cubs’ bid? Come on now. This ain’t your first rumor rodeo. Don’t shit on widely accepted truths because they don’t serve your argument. It torpedos the rest of what you’re saying, and frankly, I don’t want to see that happen. I like the discussion too much.”

                I have a long-standing policy that I don’t take any anonymously sourced/unsourced rumors seriously, it doesn’t apply just to this case. It’s too easy for executives to wage whatever misinformation campaign they prefer. Epstein’s a cloak-and-dagger guy, likes for nobody else to know anything about what he’s doing. Maybe he thought that other teams knowing he didn’t want to spend any money would compromise his trade position in the Garza negotiations, and thus managed to plant a lot of rumors that the Cubs were *this close* to signing a lot of players.

                Regardless, even if that rumor turned out to be true, I wouldn’t call coming in $35 million behind the winning bid to be going “hard.” Like a lot of their offseason moves, they weren’t going to say no to a bargain with long-term potential.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Some stories, by their very nature, will never – EVER – come with a named source (people liking to keep their jobs is the most typical reason). This is not news to you.

                  At which point, you’re left with a choice: no information at all, or “information” that you’ve got to do a bit of parsing and weighing on your own. Is it plausible? How reliable is the person reporting the story? What words do they use to couch the report? What are other folks saying?

                  For me, as a fan, I’ve long decided on a market theory of believability on anonymously-sourced rumors: assuming they pass the smell test, if there is a critical mass of folks reporting the same thing (such that I would be very surprised if it wasn’t true), I believe it to be true. In the Darvish/Cubs case, the reports came from multiple places (including here, from my own “anonymous” source), all said the same thing, and all had an internal logic. I believe it to be true. Everyone does. To deny it at this point is the worst kind of obstinate: it’s the kind that costs the doubter credibility.

                  This is to say nothing of your personal ethics, which are both sound and laudable.

                  • Kyle

                    “Some stories, by their very nature, will never – EVER – come with a named source (people liking to keep their jobs is the most typical reason). This is not news to you.”

                    This is an argument that rages inside sports journalism, but the people who are my side don’t generally become nationally well-known baseball writers.

                    Unless it’s a matter of national security or personal safety, no story is worth having if you have to use unnamed sources.

                    “At which point, you’re left with a choice: no information at all, or “information” that you’ve got to do a bit of parsing and weighing on your own. Is it plausible? How reliable is the person reporting the story? What words do they use to couch the report? What are other folks saying?”

                    I choose no information at all, then :)

                    “For me, as a fan, I’ve long decided on a market theory of believability on anonymously-sourced rumors: assuming they pass the smell test, if there is a critical mass of folks reporting the same thing (such that I would be very surprised if it wasn’t true), I believe it to be true. In the Darvish/Cubs case, the reports came from multiple places (including here, from my own “anonymous” source), all said the same thing, and all had an internal logic. I believe it to be true. Everyone does. To deny it at this point is the worst kind of obstinate: it’s the kind that costs the doubter credibility.”

                    Sorry, but I believe that approach is far too prone to confirmation bias to be useful.

                    Now, if I were a betting man and forced to bet, yeah I’d probably bet on the Darvish story being true at even odds. But I’m doubtful enough that I’d rather not bet.

                    • hansman1982

                      If you choose no information at all then I shall choose to disengage you from further debate on Cubs acquiring players, attempted contention, tanking, etc…

                      Unfortunately with the nature of the game (30 clubs all trying to compete in a hyper-limited marketplace) unnamed sources will always exist and need to exist. While it’s not national security items, these sources do have families to feed and have worked their tail off to get where they are. If they want to feel more important and leak a story without jeapordizing their job, who are we to chastise them.

                      The whole game with Pujols and Fielder was a consistent story of “They are not in on either for a long term deal and are instead offering larger AAV over 4-6 years”. Reading the reports and rumors from last offseason that was always the common thread. As with Theo, you have to read what Olney, Gammons, Brett, etc… in it’s entirety and read between the lines.

            • Chris

              Silliness. It was widely reported that the Cubs were in the top 3 bidders for both Darvish and Cespedes. Sure, they could have just thrown all the money into those two players, but you have to remember at the time of the bidding for those guys, they were considering eating contracts of Soriano, and Zambrano too, if I remember the order of events correctly. There has to be a limit. Kyle, even you have to admit the success rate for posted Japanese players is not very high. Nomo had some success. Ichiro is the best example. Matsui wasn’t too bad. Pretty much every other pitcher has been an overall bad investment. And Theo had that experience firsthand Dice-K. Cespedes made me nervous. With the low-production video circulating on You-Tube, questions of his age, and not really knowing if he’d be ready for the majors right away, I was actually relieved they did not win the bidding. He turned out to be pretty good this season, but I’m comfortable that they gave a reasonable try. MacPhail provided those quotes on every free agent or trade candidate they ever pursued. But in those cases, they weren’t bidding blindly, they were negotiating with agents. It’s different than a blind posting. They had opportunities to increase offers and didn’t.

              • Kyle

                “Silliness. It was widely reported that the Cubs were in the top 3 bidders for both Darvish and Cespedes.”

                If by “widely reported” on Darvish you mean there was one, unsourced report that a lot of people repeated, sure.

                Cespedes was a little more widely reported, with a bit more detail, so I tend to believe it, even though I maintain a small amount of necessary skepticism that comes with these sorts of reports.

                Considering he only got $9 million/year, that’s not exactly breaking the bank. As always, the Cubs were willing to bargain hunt if they thought the player could have long-term value or excess trade value in the futuer.

                “Sure, they could have just thrown all the money into those two players, but you have to remember at the time of the bidding for those guys, they were considering eating contracts of Soriano, and Zambrano too, if I remember the order of events correctly.”

                Those were sunk costs. I don’t know what they’d have to do with their budget going forward unless they thought they could find someone to take on some of the contracts.

                “There has to be a limit. Kyle, even you have to admit the success rate for posted Japanese players is not very high. Nomo had some success. Ichiro is the best example. Matsui wasn’t too bad. Pretty much every other pitcher has been an overall bad investment.”

                That’s a very valid point. I wanted Darvish pretty bad because of his age and stuff, but the point about Japanese pitchers hitting a wall after early makes it a very large risk.

                If you (or Theo) didn’t want Darvish because of that risk, I totally respect that.

                “And Theo had that experience firsthand Dice-K. Cespedes made me nervous. With the low-production video circulating on You-Tube, questions of his age, and not really knowing if he’d be ready for the majors right away, I was actually relieved they did not win the bidding.”

                I was pretty down on Cespedes, too, actually. I didn’t particularly want him.

                “MacPhail provided those quotes on every free agent or trade candidate they ever pursued. But in those cases, they weren’t bidding blindly, they were negotiating with agents. It’s different than a blind posting. They had opportunities to increase offers and didn’t.”

                We weren’t bidding blindly on Cespedes, either.

                But regardless, this is a results-oriented business. “We tried and came in second” is both worthless and unverifiable, so I don’t put any stock into it. I judge them on what they did.

          • Jeff L

            No they didn’t. They bid around 30 mil. When Theo was with the Redsox they bid around 55 mil for Dice K. That’s what it would have took to get Darvish. I think Theo realized that but wanted to look like they tried. If they really went after Darvish they would have bid the same kind of money he did when he went after Dice K with the RedSox

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              It was widely reported at the time that Darvish – who hates the posting system, believing it is unfair to Japanese players – would not sign with a team whose posting bid was “too high,” because he didn’t want to see his team take that money just for the right to sell him him. He felt like the money should be going to the player.

              There were also conflicting reports that said he wouldn’t sign UNLESS the posting bid was higher than Daisuke’s.

              The point? Let’s not pretend like we know the Cubs took some cheap route and intentionally tried not to sign him. For all we know, they were convinced only a low bid would get him (and their opinion was supported by the fact that, other than the Rangers, every bid was clustered around the $20 million area).

      • baseballet

        Kyle, while I don’t fully agree, you make a persuasive argument. I think there was a middle ground between the ‘Hendry way’ and the ‘Theo way’ that the FO could have taken. My preference is that they stay closer to the Theo way, but that they spend a bit more on payroll to field a more credible team during the rebuild.

        That being said, I don’t think it’s right to tell fans who are frustrated with watching the third worse season in Cubs history that they should flee the site if they don’t agree with the path that’s been taken (even though I largely agree with Theo’s method).

      • CubFan Paul

        These posts by “Kyle” may explain my blackouts. He’s been typing my thoughts for weeks now. This is all stuff I gave up on arguing here last offseason. I agree with him 100%. I’m glad I’m not the only one drinking the theo&Co Koolaid

        Believe what they do, not what they say.

        • hardtop

          i was drinking the koolaid… and it gave me the shits

  • Kyle

    “The commonly accepted value of a “win” on the free agent market is $5M.”

    It’s also commonly accepted that you can find replacement level players any time you need them for no margin cost, but the Cubs managed to employ 30 below-replacement players, including an entire season’s worth at 3b, C and the bullpen. They could have improved significantly for much less than $5 million/win because of those facts.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I was using 15 wins….if you do what you say, that adds what, 5 wins? So now we’re at 10 wins, $50M…which is what I said originally that you scoffed at.

  • hardtop

    if nothing else, ive learned the following about kyle:

    1. he has thought about the cubs suckage a lot
    2. he can type really f’n fast.

    • Kyle

      3. He really hated the Ian Stewart deal

  • sclem21

    Im not saying anything close to ‘dont criticize the front office’. What I’m saying is just because you’ve labeled it a bad strategy doesnt make it so and that calling it a bad strategy after a 100 loss year one isnt some indisputable truth. They basically conceded this year was going to be a dud, it was in their plan that this year, barring a miracle, was a dud…so its not as if they arent still on the course they intended from the outset. And saying every chance to win is sacred isnt some sort of pledge to content every year, especially if its at the cost of future sustainability.

    And while Im sure I wouldnt care to read a novel or even a short story on why anyone didnt like the Ian Stewart signing, he cost us nothing and was exactly the type of sign you make in a year you’re not going to contend, a young, upside type talent that costs you almost nothing if he doesnt pan out. Which he obviously didnt, but thats not mutually exclusive with it being a good sign, given the circumstances.

    And the comment about whining about ticket prices wasnt directed at you, Kyle. You’re right that we could have been better with some FAs (especially ones not named Pujols and Fielder, I wouldnt accuse any reasonable man of wanting those contracts on this team, this year) I just think it was a fool’s errand to spend on multiple free agents for the 2012 year…you’re talking about finding 30 more wins just to get the second wild card.

    • Kyle

      “What I’m saying is just because you’ve labeled it a bad strategy doesnt make it so and that calling it a bad strategy after a 100 loss year one isnt some indisputable truth.”

      Of course it doesn’t. I’m simply making my case, just as anyone else can.

      “And while Im sure I wouldnt care to read a novel or even a short story on why anyone didnt like the Ian Stewart signing, he cost us nothing and was exactly the type of sign you make in a year you’re not going to contend, a young, upside type talent that costs you almost nothing if he doesnt pan out. Which he obviously didnt, but thats not mutually exclusive with it being a good sign, given the circumstances.”

      It’s very important to note that Ian Stewart did not cost us nothing. And I’m not talking about Colvin and LeMahieu, as I’ve called both of them non-entities.

      Major League playing time is a resource that has real value. That’s something that many of the “it doesn’t cost anything to tank” crowd want to ignore. The Cubs could have given their 4th starter spot to a guy like Casey Coleman for no cost. Instead, they used that valuable playing time to let Paul Maholm accrue trade value and got a very nice pitcher out of the deal.

      Ian Stewart was a bad bet for all the reasons I’ve listed, and we wasted a half a season’s valuable playing time on him. (Not to mention he made $2+ million dollars this season, he wasn’t entirely free.)

      “You’re right that we could have been better with some FAs (especially ones not named Pujols and Fielder, I wouldnt accuse any reasonable man of wanting those contracts on this team, this year) I just think it was a fool’s errand to spend on multiple free agents for the 2012 year…you’re talking about finding 30 more wins just to get the second wild card.”

      We didn’t know at the time that our CFers and C’s would all fall apart, that Garza would get hurt and that we’d be 5 wins below our run differential. Based on what we knew at the time, we needed more like 20 wins, which was very doable given our resources and needs.

      • Kyle

        Also, to be far, I called it a bad strategy before the 100-loss season. Heck, I called it a bad strategy before they even were hired to implement it.

        • sclem21

          fair enough

      • Noah

        But, as Norm’s noted, 20 more wins on the free agent market costs $100 million. Now let’s say that, as you’ve noted, the Cubs had some guys giving below replacement value, and of course we did pay a significant portion of some salaries for guys to play other places the end of the year. So let’s be charitable and say we gave up something like 7 wins of value at the Major League level through those decisions. That still leaves 13 wins, or $65 million, to add to the payroll. I just don’t see how the money was in the budget considering the Cubs were still paying essentially all of Zambrano’s salary. I also don’t see how those signings could have been made without it essentially being a repeat of 2007 that sacrifices the future. Beyond that, even with playing 5 wins below run differential, adding that plus 20 wins only gets us to 86 wins, which is at best a marginal expectation of making the playoffs, and would not have done it this year.

        I think one thing you might be seeing from Theo/Jed and co. that they aren’t saying is that they don’t value the wild card slots that highly, and would much rather build a team that they think can compete for the division year in and year out in a couple of years than has an outside chance at being in what essentially amounts to a play in game this year, or perhaps even next year.

        • Kyle

          But, as Norm’s noted, 20 more wins on the free agent market costs $100 million. Now let’s say that, as you’ve noted, the Cubs had some guys giving below replacement value, and of course we did pay a significant portion of some salaries for guys to play other places the end of the year. So let’s be charitable and say we gave up something like 7 wins of value at the Major League level through those decisions. That still leaves 13 wins, or $65 million, to add to the payroll. I just don’t see how the money was in the budget considering the Cubs were still paying essentially all of Zambrano’s salary. I also don’t see how those signings could have been made without it essentially being a repeat of 2007 that sacrifices the future. Beyond that, even with playing 5 wins below run differential, adding that plus 20 wins only gets us to 86 wins, which is at best a marginal expectation of making the playoffs, and would not have done it this year.”

          That’s a very good approach to the analysis, but I think I can get more than 7 “free” wins when I start swapping out the bullpen, the terrible 3b, C and even CF, and of course Joe F’n Mather. And if you can get that close, is it really that desirable to give up and not hope for some positive variance in your favor as well?

          • Noah

            The problem is there’s the other side of that as well. First, according to FanGraphs, all the Cubs’ players who had negative WAR (there were 10 of them) contributed -5.8 WAR to the team. So let’s look at everyone else. Ryan Dempster had 1.2 wins with the Rangers, and I think that’s a fair number to keep. While he had to face harder competition, he never had to be brought out for a pinch hitter. Maholm added 1 win with the Braves. Reed Johnson was worth -0.3 wins for the Braves. Jeff Baker was worth -0.5 wins after his trade from the Cubs. Geovany Soto was worth -0.2 wins after being traded to the Rangers, and you could argue that not trading him would have removed Welington Castillo’s positive contribution, which was entirely a result of his play from Soto’s trade on.

            But even not looking at any positive contributions from players who got playing time due to these trades (Castillo, Dave Sappelt, Chris Rusin, etc. all posted positive fWARs), you get to 7 negative fWAR when you add up all the Cubs who posted negative fWAR and all the contributions of the players the Cubs traded away at the deadline. So yes, considering that Castillo, Sappelt, Rusin and others did make positive WAR contributions, I do think that 7 fWAR is a pretty charitable number.

            The question beyond that is not whether a team should ever take a chance on a few things bouncing their way to get a chance to be in the playoffs in that given year. Despite the fact that it didn’t work out for them, I liked the moves the Pirates made at the trade deadline. They were moves that, at least on paper, made the team better without giving up anyone at all vital to their long term plans. The question is how much chance a team should have taken. The Indians least year, for example, took way too big a chance on the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. And I see no way for the Cubs could have gotten to a predicted 86 wins this season without signing the type of contracts that got them in this predicament in the first place.

            • Kyle

              “The problem is there’s the other side of that as well. First, according to FanGraphs, all the Cubs’ players who had negative WAR (there were 10 of them) contributed -5.8 WAR to the team.”

              You are only looking at the offensive side. Tab over to the pitchers and you’ll find a dozen more.

              Also, fWAR is more predictive and bWAR is more descriptive. I know I can be schizophrenic about bouncing back and forth between them, and it’s not flat-out wrong to use fWAR, but bWAR is probably the right club for this shot.

              bWAR has the Cubs fielding 10 sub-replacement position players worth a combined -6.6 wins and 16 sub-replacement pitchers worth a combined -10.3 wins.

              That’s 16.9 wins thrown away on players that in theory should have been able to be replaced without any sort of expenditure of resources. Plus, I believe we wasted time with better-than-replacement players stuck at Iowa: Wood, Castillo, Valbunea, Sappelt all got burned down there while inferior players soaked up playing time.

    • D.G.Lang

      I hate to simply jump in on an already long thread, but I think that we should also consider everything that goes into the decision making process.

      One of those things is that rameriz’ decision to turn down HIS option for another year may have slightly tipped the decision making process in that instead of a team that was somewhat reasonably capable of contending with ‘only’ a ‘few’ more very good pieces, we now had a team which required another hefty investment to replace him.

      I beleive that his decision th LEAVE the Cubs weighed heavily in their analysis of exactly how much was needed to fully contend ‘now and in the future’. They would have to consider if they payed him a lot more for one or two years or give him another Soriano like contract when he already was a potential injury capable player due to his shoulder problems.

      With no immediate guarantee of success for assuming another long term contract which would continue to affect the team for a few more years it simply didn’t make sense to overpay him especially since he decided not to exercise HIS option on the ALREADY existing contract. Therefore one player on the currently existing ‘competitive’ team was simply not going to be there.

      I feel that we should place MOST of the blame for the Cubs problems would be correctly placed on the Tribune company for years of neglect followed by their effort to make the etam appear morth much better than it really foundationally was by pushing so many long term crippling contracts just to make the team APPEAR to be better than it was. They wouldn’t have to deal with the high ticket prices necessary to support their terrible decisions, that would be the new owners problems.

      We simply didn’t have that much of a good major league team to justify only a ‘few’ more players when in reality it would require more than just one or two.

      Soriano wasn’t being looked at as a very good future player due to his injuries but we were stuck with his salary for at that time three more years. Zambrano had already outlived his welcome and had to go but we still were suuck with his salary because at that time no one else wanted him.

      We had previously tried some other high priced free agents who were disasters and we surely didn’t need any more to patch up a team which MAY have appeared on paper to have some potential with some more band aids but in reality with Rameriz and others leaving so do any chance for a reasonablely affordable patch up.

      I fully agree that prices are too high for what the Cubs are currently fielding but blame the Trib company and not current ownership. They are stuck with those bad contracts which drove up the ticket prices just like the fans are stuck with the excessive ticket prices.

      The Cubs need to weed out the bad contracts ALONG with building up the farm, ML team, and facilities. There is and was no feasible way of accomplishing all that needed/needs to be done and reduce ticket prices at the same time. Something has to give somewhere and it was/is a couple of years of poor ML teams to build the future that the Trib company squandered away.

      I have been a Cubs fan ALL of my long life and I will remain a Cub fan through the lean years especially now that it looks like we do have an owner who wants to build the team correctly for long term future performance rather than extract everything possible and then dumpo it. The Tribs primary interest wasn’t to have the Trim Corporaton support the Cubs but the Cubs support the Trib Corp. I thought at the time that the Trib buying the Cubs was a good thing but time has proved otherwise.

      I my bottom line is to but the bklame where it belongs not on current ownership and management which tuly are trying to build the team for long term performance.

      • Dave

        After this season the vast majority of the so called bad contracts are off the books so that can no longer be used as an excuse.
        In reality Dempster and Soriano both prvided value to the team this season so they were not just wasted bad contracts.

  • sclem21

    Isnt the Ian Stewart sign parallel to the Paul Maholm deal, at least to an extent?

    You sign Maholm as a bounce back candidate and move him with his stock raised. Clearly not every move like this is going to pan out, Stewart flopped.

    Honest question, what made the Stewart one so much worse of a sign? Im assuming its more than you just having reached the conclusion that there was no upside left there, which is fine but again wasnt consensus at the time.

    But for ~2 mil a year, isnt that a pretty calculated risk?

    • Kyle

      It would have been the consensus at the time if everyone had listened to me then :)

      The parallel fails because Maholm has always been a much better player than Stewart.

      Ian Stewart’s career best season is 1.3 fWAR. Paul Maholm has beaten that every year since 2006.

      • Noah

        The parallel also fails because they were completely different players, though. Maholm was all floor. He was the sort of pitcher who is highly undervalued in the offseason (he’s a 4 on a good team, but a left hander who throws strikes and doesn’t walk people), but slightly overvalued at the trade deadline when contending teams could really use a reliable 4, especially a left handed one, for the stretch run.

        Stewart was all a ceiling play. Now, clearly it didn’t work out, although I consider the trade itself a wash (as you’ve essentially noted). While I’m not high on Stewart by any means, I’d actually be perfectly fine with the Cubs bringing him back next season if: (1) he signs for $1 million or less; (2) the Cubs are both comfortable with his medicals and have seen evidence that people with the wrist issue he’s had have improved upon having that issue resolved; and (3) the reports of him being a lazy rehabber and general pain in the rear aren’t true. Although this is as much because there is no one better on the free agent market, the one potentially good player on the trade market (Headley) is going to be way too expensive, and the younger players in the Cubs’ system just aren’t ready yet.

  • sclem21

    Right, which is why it makes sense that they spent less than half of Maholms 4.25m to get Stewart, I’d guess.

    Maholms track record clearly better, but if the idea behind the two is congruent, its hard for me to admit that Stewart was an awful sign.

    And I concede that the FO shouldnt just get a free pass for signing players that dont pan out under the premise of ‘bounce back candidate’ or ‘change of scenery candidate’ but it just seems to me that the Stewart sign wasnt that egregious.

    • Kyle

      It’s not the money that bothered me. It was the playing time. Ian Stewart didn’t deserve to be the starting 3b for any MLB team, let alone a major-market one, with his credentials and likelihood of success (imo).

      • jt

        Cubs starters in the month of April
        Name PA OBP OPS
        Byrd 47 .149 .219
        Soto 62 .226 .462
        Stewart 85 .247 .507
        Soriano 80 .250 .513
        Barney 86 .306 .669
        DeJesus 88 .352 .655
        Castro 97 .351 .784
        LaHair 70 .471 1.251
        ————————————
        Cub closer in April
        Marmol: 3 potential win screw-ups
        10 gm 7.2 IP 1 L 2BS 5.87 ERA
        Cubs April record 8W 15L
        ——————————————-
        Cub closer in May
        Dolis: 4 potential win screw-ups.
        12 gm 11.2IP 2L 1BL 1BS
        Cubs record in May 10W 17L
        Around May 10 Soriano OPS meteoric rise
        Around May 10 LaHair OPS stone drop fall
        ——————————————
        Cubs record through June 12: 21W 40L
        Marmol regained closer role June 13
        Counting the initial 2 loses on June 13 and 14
        Cubs June 13 – July 29 (Maholm’s last start)
        21W 18L
        _____________________________________
        Cubs post deadline period trades
        18W 42L
        ——————————————————
        Why was The Cubs 2012 season so bad?
        Again, this is a period when The Cubs are 21W and 41L
        Clevenger opening day through June 13: 63 PA OPS .729
        Mather opening day through June 13: 116 PA OPS.737

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Kyle, I couldn’t reply above. Yes, he did develop ways of tracking players in 1947!!! Not when he first came in to St. Louis. He was with the Dodgers by the time he developed that. Yes I am a Historian. He did not use this when he was at his most successful and did not use this to build the farms in St. Louis. My bad, I should have said he had no form of Sabermetrics when he was at his most successful. I guess if signing up every minor leaguer against the commisioners wishes to ensure the Yankees don’t get every player, then that is Sabermetrics. I am sorry, but to anyone who would discuss Branch Rickey and his most successful time would not discuss Sabermetrics. Now, a couple of years after he took over for MacPhail everyone had a farm and he had to determine the best way to track a player. If you think that ALLAN ROTH!!! and his analyses that was promoted by Rickey was his idea, then I am sorry. I was wrong. I don’t think I am, especially for the intended discussion.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Ah ^ if this isn’t clear what I was stating, he promoted an idea that wasn’t his for the numbers you speak of. He didn’t use it until his career was basically over. Once everyone realized the farm was the future he got help from analysts. Nothing more, nothing less.

      • Kyle

        That’s all well and good, but that’s not what you said originally.

        I said that sabermetrics could trace its roots back as far as Branch Rickey (and really, further), and you said that he had nothing to do with sabermetrics whatsoever. (He also won a couple of NL pennants with the Dodgers, so it’s not as if he was chopped liver at this point in his career).

        Heck, Rickey’s connection to statistical analysis is even mentioned prominently in his HOF Bio:

        http://baseballhall.org/hof/rickey-branch

  • Fastball

    Holy Smokes it took a Month of Sundays to get through all those Posts! And it seems many went to the Fastball school of posting today LOL…

    So we could have spent some money on FA’s for this year and had a much better team on the field. I wish they would have because watching would have been much more fun I suppose. But they didn’t and the good news is this season in the books. What did we learn from this season? What I learned was that during June and July when this team started to form up a little bit things looked decent from a W/L perspective. We jettisoned our starting pitching and the season went into a tailspin. In hind sight we can say boy if we had good enough pitching all year we could have been pretty respectable.

    So we have some core players and it wouldn’t be all that difficult to improve. Barney, Castillo, Castro, Rizzo and Soriano (don’t yell at me about Soriano he is as good a vet as we could hope for). We have a 2, 4 and 5 rotation pitchers okay maybe a 3. Garza, Shark and Wood. We have Marmol in the BP and realistically that’s it. DeJesus is a good no. 4 outfielder. The rest is scrap heap.

    So off our existing scrap heap we probably keep Valbuena on the bench. All the young BP guys we have need to pitch at AAA for a good while longer. I could see keeping Campana as a 5th OF and dedicated base stealer (a luxury). Jackson and Vitters are back to AAA for most of next season IMO.

    So what to do if your Theo. Go out and sign an entirely new bullpen except for Marmol. No Shawn Camp bullpen! Real Bullpen Pitchers…. The Rays do it every year so can Theo. A 3B for the next 2 years and if Vitters becomes ML ready you can trade the guy.
    Sign two more OF guys a CF for 2 years and if Jackson becomes ML ready you can trade the guy or demote to a 4th or 5th OF spot. Then I would go out and sign at least 3 FA starting pitchers. A couple of 2 or 3 types and a Maholm type. If we have that we can stay close in games like we did when Dumpster, Maholm, Garza and Shark were pitching well in June and July. Remember we were competitive during that 6 or 7 week stretch with a winning record of like 19 – 10 or something like that.

    I don’t care about all the Sabremetric stuff at this point. Pitching wins ball games and we need it worse than anything else. Starting and BP pitching is paramount. Any pitcher we sign that is a FA is not blocking anyone in this organization for the next 2 or 3 years. We don’t have a single stud pitcher in the wings. Well maybe the Tommy John rehabber Vizcaino or whatever the hell his name is.

    Oh and we need a good catcher behind Castillo. Clevenger needs to be in AAA next year.

    My opinion is we had all these guys up and down all year and it was the wish in one hand and shit in the other to see which one filled up first approach. Leave them all at AAA so when we need 1 guy we have a player come up who has played everyday and isn’t a young guy sitting on the bench in the Majors who never see’s real game action then all of the sudden we expect him to perform. That’s never going to happen successfully. It never has and never will.

    In my estimation we can sign via Free Agency all the players we need and only spend about $25 or $30M and have a good competitive team. That’s a payroll of less than $80M for next season. None of these FA’s need to be long term signings. I would do 2 years maybe a 3rd in certain cases. Then not a sole in this system that has any kind of upside is blocked by a ML player. Let’s say Vitters and Jackson evolve great we got guys we can either trade or have better depth on our bench. Theo can even kick that payroll number up to $40M in FA signings and get 10 good players and the Cubs are still extremely good on payroll and have all the flexibility in the world because anybody can be traded just like this year.

    Lastly we stocked up big time this year on the Amateur Draft and International Draft and FA signings. We got great picks for this coming year. I don’t want to hear the excuses that we need to tank another season so we can draft in the top 5 spots the following year. This FO should have it’s act together and have their prospects scouted and ready to sign in advance. I am not up for another 40 game below .500 season. That’s not acceptable to me. Theo can draft and sign as many players as he wants every year. The playing field on the drafts is leveled. Kids gotta sign or go to college. Either way the money is always going to be the same so it not an excuse for not getting players signed to pro contracts.

  • Fastball

    Check out my last post… I got everybody beat on content and length of post. Since it was apparent there was some kind of competition for long posts today :)

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