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It’s easy to be dismissive of the Chicago Cubs’ latest free agent signing, righty Scott Feldman.

His career ERA is just 4.81. Career WHIP is just 1.417. He’s coming off a 5.09/1.383 season in which his ERA+ was 89. That’s in the reasonable range of a back-end rotation spot, but it’s hardly anything to be excited about.

But when you dig into his advanced stats, there’s a lot more to like. About that 2012 season: his BABIP was an unusually (for him) high .318, his left-on-base percentage was an extremely low 61%, and his groundball percentage was a lower-than-usual 42.2% – all signs of some bad luck. Factor in the fact that he struck out 7 per 9 innings, while walking just 2.33, and he’s looking a lot better. Indeed, when you factor all of that in, it’s pretty easy to see why his Fielding Independent Pitching (a stat that takes into account *only* those outcomes completely within the pitcher’s control, stripping out what happens behind him) was just 3.81 last year – which would have been 36th best in all of baseball if he’d had enough innings to qualify*. That’s better than guys like Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, Rick Porcello, Yovanni Gallardo, Paul Maholm, Matt Harrison, Ian Kennedy … I could go on, but you’re getting the idea.

By some metrics, Feldman was one of the better – albeit extremely unlucky – pitchers in baseball last year.

(*Yeah, the innings thing can’t totally be ignored here. Feldman started just 21 games last year, and made another eight appearances in relief. You can understand, then, why his innings were limited, but it raises the dreaded “small sample size” specter. Full disclosure: his career FIP is 4.56, which is no better than a touch below average.)

For that reason, it’s easy to see why Feldman became something of a sabermetric favorite of Dave Cameron’s over at FanGraphs. Today, when the Cubs announced the signing, which was for just one year and $6 million (plus up to $1 million in incentives), Cameron was borderline effusive in his praise of the Cubs for picking up a guy he says might be one of the best buys on the market:

Feldman might not have the reputation of a quality starter yet, but he’s shown the skills necessary to become a perfectly acceptable middle-of-the-rotation innings eater. Last year, he ran a 3/1 K/BB ratio while maintaining an average ground ball rate, putting him in the same xFIP range as guys like Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, and Dan Haren,. He doesn’t have the same track record of success as those guys, but he’s also going to cost a fraction of the price, and offers the same low BB/average K/average GB skillset ….

Feldman isn’t likely to turn into any kind of ace, but he’s a good bet to give the Cubs 180 solid innings of work, and at $6 million with no long term commitment, this is a nifty little move for the Cubs. Don’t be too surprised if they’re announcing another contract with him at some point in 2013, rewarding him for his breakout season and keeping him on the north side beyond just this one season.

Keeping Feldman (or Scott Baker) beyond 2013 is, of course, a possibility – maybe Feldman breaks out, and maybe he loves it in Chicago – but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that is in the Cubs’ plans at this point. Instead, they are trying simply to obtain relatively cheap, relatively solid upside pieces on short-term deals, which provides them with a variety of options: keep the player, trade the player, trade another superfluous player, etc.

Given the upside in Feldman, and the low cost, it’s arguable that signing him is preferable even to signing someone with a better (though more injury-marred track record) track record, but who will cost quite a bit more. Like, say, Brandon McCarthy. And, what do you know, earlier this offseason, Cameron wrote at length about that very comparison in a piece calling Feldman the “Poor Man’s Brandon McCarthy.” A relevant selection (though the whole thing is worth a read):

A better walk rate with the same strikeout and same groundball rate makes McCarthy a better pitcher, but we also have to keep each pitcher’s environment in mind. McCarthy spent the last two years in pitcher-friendly Oakland, knowing that he could get away with catching too much of the plate and the park might bail him out. Feldman, on the other hand, had to deal with the heat and humidity in Texas, where the ball absolutely flies in the summer months.

Oakland also has the vast expanse of foul territory, which leads to more in-play outs on pop-ups, which can be a significant benefit to a pitcher. So, while Feldman didn’t live in the zone as often as McCarthy, their approaches might have been different had they switched home parks ….

McCarthy posted a 5.6% HR/FB rate in Oakland, while Feldman ran a 13.4% HR/FB rate in Texas. On the road, it was 8.4% for McCarthy and 8.5% for Feldman. You don’t want to assume that a player’s road performance is his true park neutral level, but it’s worth noting that park factors are probably a pretty big deal in this comparison.

McCarthy, himself, even tossed in his two cents to the comparison, noting that the two of them worked together on changing their approach while together in Texas. McCarthy said that it was he would doing an impression of Feldman, and not the other way around. That’s pretty high praise for a guy whose $6 million deal with the Cubs is just a fraction of what McCarthy is going to get.

Even after signing Feldman, I remain of the mind that McCarthy is an attractive target. Because of the short-term nature of Baker’s and Feldman’s deals, and because of Baker’s Tommy John recovery, it’s easy to see the Cubs going after another pitcher. Given that Feldman and McCarthy have a positive history together in Texas, is it really such a leap to say that signing Feldman actually makes the Cubs incrementally more likely to sign McCarthy, rather than less likely?

I don’t know whether I’d actually make that claim, but I’m perfectly comfortable saying two things: (1) I like the Feldman signing for a number of reasons, and (2) I don’t think the signing precludes the Cubs from pursuing another starting pitcher.

  • Believe in 2015

    If the Cubs go after another pitcher, who goes to the pen? And does that mean Garza is more likely to be traded for prospects?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Lots of options – Wood could go to the pen, Baker could start out on the DL, Feldman could be a swing starter, Garza could be dealt …

      • Believe in 2015

        Would the Cubs be interested in Mike Pelfrey? He just got non-tendered.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Been mulling that for the last 10 minutes. It’ll be discussed at some point.

        • North Side Irish

          Hasn’t been non-tendered yet. But sounds like Mets plan on it, along with Andres Torres who could be a stop gap in CF. Pelfrey would be similar to Baker in that he’d probably be open to a short term make good type deal. But he had TJS in May which means he’d be behind Baker in recovery and probably not ready to return until May or June. Not a lot of time to build up trade value before the deadline.

        • King Jeff

          If not, they should be. I’d be more excited about Pelfrey than either Baker or Feldman.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    I predict Whitenack will have a better year than Baker. Whitenack should be ready for full time starting duties come spring training 2013 while Baker will have his pitches counted & his innings limited.
    My prediction Whitenack 11 Cub wins – Baker 5 Cub wins.

    • Patrick G

      Whitenack won’t be on the ML club, maybe later in the season

  • North Side Irish

    I absolutely agree that the Cubs still need another SP. Garza and Baker are coming off arm injuries, and Samardzija had a career high workload last year. Adding another SP allows them to ease Baker back into the rotation when he’s ready. I think Wood would be able to slide into the bullpen for a month or two until a SP is traded. Right now the fill-in for Baker would be from the Coleman/Rusin/Raley group which is obviously less than ideal.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Samardzija will lead Cubs with 14 wins, Whitenack with 11, Wood with 10, Feldman 8, Baker 5 & Garza will win 13 for the team he is traded to by the end of ST.

    • sclem21

      pitcher wins are the bestest stats everrrrrrrr. especially when they are arbitrary guesses. yeee hawww

      • EQ76

        ah… another sabermetrical nerd taking all the fun out of baseball and the basic stats used year after year with his egotistical and superior attitude about stats… just what we needed.

        • DarthHater

          Oooh, a Luddite with an inferiority complex. Yippee.

  • mister_rob

    Feldman seems to have attacked the zone more, increasing his Ks a bit and lowering his walks
    Unfortunately, that also resulted in a 25% linedrive rate

    “fielding independant” is silly when everybody is hitting the ball off the wall vs the guy

  • calicubsfan007

    We all seem to be assuming that Whitenack will be pitching for the MLB Cubs. We don’t know that yet. It would be awesome if he does make it.

  • ETS

    anyone think it’s a bad omen that his k rate went up with a corresponding increase in BABIP and a decrease in gb rate? Maybe it’s not “unlucky”.

    • ETS

      ninja’d by Mr rob

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he’d seen a leap in his HR/9, I’d say you and Rob might be onto something. As it was, his HR/9 was right in line with his career average – which suggests he wasn’t necessarily getting hit any harder than in previous years.

      I love that we’re having this conversation, though.

  • MightyBear

    God i love Theo and Jed. The pitching acquisitions are guys who don’t walk many hitters. If they change the mentality that Cub pitchers throw strikes, I’ll be ecstatic with the Cubs way.

  • Kev

    Call me old school, but the notion of hiring any pitcher who’s unlucky to the Cubs doesn’t really strike me as a good idea. Of course, that’s just my gut talking. After all, central tenet of the whole moneyball philosophy is that the gut doesn’t matter and the numbers do. So maybe this will pan out. Still, I can’t help but wonder if Theo and Jed have been missing some of that gut thinking thus far in their tenure here in Chicago. Time will tell, I suppose.

  • Fastball

    I would love to see Whitenack be ready for ML roster out of ST. I think he goes to Iowa for a couple months. If he stays on track I like him a lot. I still think we need to sign at least 3 or 4 more pitchers. Not all starters maybe 2 more starters and 2 solid BP guys. I don’t want to see Coleman anywhere near Chicago. Riley and Russo I can see doing spot starts out of AAA as needed.

    • JulioZuleta

      Whitenack won’t even start at AAA. Almost certainly AA. And who are Riley and Russo?

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    I like Feldman a lot. He’s got a big arm and isn’t another ridiculous soft tosser. The guy was very well thought of at one time and he’s a great move when you throw him in the mix. These are the kinds of moves, relatively young, big arms with some injury history, that if you stay consistent will ultimately pay off.

    • http://bleachernation ferris

      i do to , just worried bout 6m, i guess its good we go 950 from japan team that signed lehair. the cubs arent hurting or money but i still know we gotta give alot to trade sori.

  • pfk

    Man, your blog just keeps getting better and better. Nowhere else do we get this kind of insight, background, analysis, etc. Keep it up.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well thanks, pfk – and good to see you around.

  • Noah

    I don’t get how anyone is viewing Robert Whitenack as a legitimate option for the starting rotation coming out of spring training. This is a guy who has thrown 37.2 innings above A Ball in his life, and didn’t even post a 2/1 K/BB rate there.

    I’m glad the Cubs put him on the 40 man to see if he can recapture what he seemed to have going for him in 2011 before needing TJS, but he should be starting the season is Tennessee and, barring just blowing away the minor leagues, not be in consideration to see the Majors until September, if at all in 2013.

  • Stu

    Nice signing with relatively low risk. What happened to the philosophy of focusing more on left handlers? Is there not much on the market?

  • rbreeze

    I love the signing. If Feldman gives us what we got out of Maholm then Theo and Jed are genius. Maholm was coming off of a troubled year when he signed with the beloved and really pitched well last year.
    Anyone expecting any big moves at the winter meetings? Or more the same?

  • When the Music’s Over

    Volstad and Feldman have almost identical career statistics, including the peripherals.

    Maybe the move from the AL->NL will help Feldman.

    Feldman: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=6283&position=P
    Volstad: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9901&position=P

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    What the Feldman signing does is set things in motion. Obviously, we’ll need to clear a spot on the 40-man for room. I suspect Casey Coleman will be the odd man out, unless there is a big trade on the horizon that clears a few names off of said roster.

    ::crosses fingers for Stanton trade::

    I believe Brett’s right that Scott Baker will more than likely start the season on the DL. He could get some reps in AAA and see how his arm strength is doing. But he could work out of the pen in long relief right away, and then probably break into the rotation, bumping Feldman or Wood into the pen for a month before trade-crazy month starts.

    Now that Keppinger broke his leg, it looks like we’re forced with taking another chance on hopefully-this-time-healthy Ian Stewart.

  • farmerjon

    Brett, how in the heck is Mr Ellipsis still here after his early morning comments? He’s like that one guy at the bar that makes it a not fun place to be

    • Spencer

      ooh he said stuff this morning too?

      • TWC

        That’s what MG was tweeting about today.

    • MichiganGoat

      It’s time to stop acknowledging his very existence, let him appear make his stupid comments and Brett will ban him. He does not exist.

      • TWC

        I’ve been trying to do that with Fishin’ Phil for YEARS, and it hasn’t worked yet!

        • MichiganGoat

          Phil is a persistent little puppet

      • MaxM1908

        Agreed.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Olney reported today that the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Rays are in on Keppinger. Expects to be able to train by January and ready for spring training. What are the Cubs offering? Two years at 2.5 mil. a season with maybe an option, would be my guess. Good player.

    • King Jeff

      I’m just going to assume you missed Brett’s post on Keppinger earlier.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    I understand signing these guys but, 5.5 an 6m seems steap to me for a chance to flip em an get prospects, we will see i recn.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Brett, question as someone who’s not really an advanced stats guy:

    “his BABIP was an unusually (for him) high .318, his left-on-base percentage was an extremely low 61%, and his groundball percentage was a lower-than-usual 42.2% – all signs of some bad luck.”

    I high BABIP and a low groundball percentage – aren’t those more signs of finding the middle of the plate too much as opposed to bad luck?

    • hansman1982

      You’d have to dig deeper into his LD rate, FB rate, HR rate, etc to see if it was a case of bloopers falling in or former grounder a getting turned into rocket shots and home runs.

      • FFP

        hansman is becoming my 2013 pitching guru.

  • daveyrosello

    re: the quality of Brett’s site. The other thing I like here is that the discussion is almost 100% Cubs-centric. I DESPISE blogs where much of the discussion gets into politics, or pop culture, or teenager-ish banter and MBs full of cutesy gif and jpg inserts. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that per se, but there are other forums for that nonsense. I come here to read ( and occasionally post) about the Cubs and only the Cubs. And for that focus Brett, I toss thanks your way for an excellent blog.

    Now let’s trade for Moose and Myers……….

    • King Jeff

      I don’t think Davey would like the BN message board. Just a hunch.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        And that’s a part of why the Board exists separately. :)

        (And thanks, Davey.)

        • King Jeff

          I know, I just think it’s kind of funny he nailed us to the wall with his list of dislikes.

  • Ryan

    to explain his BABIP and FIP look to his 25.9% line drive rate. he’s getting hit too hard.

  • DarthHater

    A goat without a goat head? Baaaaaaah!

  • Lovable idiots

    Flipping Pitchers for Pitchers. Sign a guy then flip him for a pitcher? Pay a contract 5 million or 6 million for a combine 11 million (the cost of one good pitcher) and then flip the bastard for prospects that will never see the light of day. What happen if the pitcher turns out to be bum and stays injured.

    Honestly ? this is something that the Cubs fans are pinning its hopes ?

    Let me Guess everybody in this room has read moneyball and thinks this is the best way to make Champions- Cub fans are morons on this site .

    • DarthHater

      You should feel right at home.

      • Dr. Percival Cox

        You’re awesome.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    Brett .. The Braves are going to no tender Jair Jurgens…Theo Needs to jump on that right away! With Jurgens, Garza, Feldman,wood, Baker

    • MichiganGoat

      He was bad pitcher last year and is in great decline, maybe on a minor league deal but there is no upside with him

  • #1lahairfan

    Something to consider:
    Tim Lincecum lost 30pounds before the 2012 season. Might be the problem.
    Maybe Marmol for Lincecum, and then we get him to put on some weight.

    • cjdubbya

      With the quality pizza throughout the greater Chicagoland area, I’d imagine that this would be relatively easy to do.

  • Dustin

    Hearing John Lannan is expected to be non-tendered…Maybe Cubs jump on that??

    • cub2014

      lannan or jurrens are pickups that i think Theo likes. but if you could get someone like mccarthy you could have a solid rotation with options.
      mccarthy,samardija,garza,baker,wood,feldman,vizcaino?,bowden?
      then u have last years rotation at Iowa: rusin,berken,germano,raley,coleman.
      and whats the deal with coleman 91-94 sinker and cant get people out

  • CubbiesBaseball

    What do you think it would take to get Rick Porcello from Detroit? I would love to have him in Chicago. I would also take a look at Jair Jurrjens.

    Matt Garza
    Jeff Samardzija
    Rick Porcello
    Scott Feldman
    Jair Jurrjens
    Travis Wood
    Scott Baker

  • gutshot5820

    Just thinking out loud, this is going to be year 4 for the Ricketts regime. Payroll has gone down every year. We are going to stink this year and year 5 looks bad now too. That’s 5 years of declining payroll while maintaining one of the highest ticket prices and attendance.

    I know Theo is guaranteeing long term success (looking more like in year 7 and 8), but nothing in life is guaranteed, especially in baseball. That’s a heck of a lot of years for what should be one of the spenders in all of baseball.

    You guys can talk all you want about low-risk high rewards players, but wow. How did we become the A’s all of the sudden? Disappointing. The Cubs can definitely field at least a competitive team if they wanted and I would bet Theo would love to have a 160m payroll and compete now, but is hampered by the Ricketts. In my mind, I think he is a terrible owner, better than some, but definitely not what was advertised.

    • Bill

      gutshot,

      I’m in agreement with you. Very disappointing. I can’t believe I’m saying this but since Theo seems to be content at making another run at 100 losses this season, he should trade Shark. The ‘Theo plan’ calls for us to suck for at least a couple more seasons. Since that is the case we might as well trade Shark when his value is high since he’s going to be heading towards the downside of his prime years when the Cubs are ready to compete. Sell high and get some prospects for him. I honestly don’t want to see Shark leave but why waste his best years on teams that lose 90-100 games?

      • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

        Shark represent a solid pitcher for the next 6 years. He is currently here, and cheap, relatively speaking. 2013 might well be another bad year, by whatever measure, but questions should be answered in it.

        I see no reason that 2014 won’t be a decent season with 80 or more wins.

        • Bill

          Shark is going to be 28 years old. The Cubs are going to be awful this year and probably next year. 2015 might be the first year they could become decent (ie 80 wins), if guys like Baez are ready to come up and give this team some quality play. I think the number 1 pitching will still be missing in the pitching staff so Theo will need to make a trade to acquire a TOR pitcher.

          I love Shark. I want to see him stay and the Cubs win now. However, Theo doesn’t seem to care if the Cubs win now or in the next couple years, so it seems silly not to trade the guy while his market value is at it’s highest. Maybe they can wait for the trade deadline, but if there’s no plans to win no,they should trade him before he gets expensive and when they can get top prospects for him. Maybe trade him to get someone like Olt or another 3B prospect, or maybe include him in a package deal to try and get Stanton.

          • King Jeff

            It’s pretty awesome that you know how the next two seasons are going to turn out before this offseason even really gets underway. Maybe you could share some of this foresight you have in to how the team is not going to improve from 100 losses?

            • gutshot5820

              How about you explain to me how they are planning to avoid 100 losses again? Do you work for the Ricketts? All I’m saying is that payroll has been going down for the last four years and it looks like we are going to stink for a few more years, going into possibly 6-7 years before they start contending for the playoffs, which I think most people can agree on.

              I think that’s messed up. If you are ok with that with not being in the playoffs for the first 5-6 years of the Ricketts regime, then the marketing dept have done their job well. People are acting like the money saved is their own money for their kids college tuition or retirement. LOL.

              • Fishin Phil

                Thanks for your insight. Now that I know they have absolutely no chance of competing for at least three more years, I don’t have to waste my time following them. I can take up some more productive hobby, perhaps knitting.

                BTW, Karnak, you don’t by any chance know the winning Powerball number for tonight’s drawing, do you?

                Thanks.

                • gutshot5820

                  This is exactly what I’m talking about. Why attack me with such anger and hatred? Did I say something bad about your family or swear at anyone? I’m absolutely sure there are several people that post on here that works for the Cubs organization.

                  You have to be an absolute sucker to think we are going to be contending for anything within the next year or so for anything except first spot in the draft. I think most sensible people can agree on that, despite whether or not we agree with the current plan in place.

                  • Fishin Phil

                    If that is your idea of anger and hatred, you are very sensitive person. I apologize for ruffling your feathers.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Okay, maybe those particular words are a little bit strong, but I try to read Brett’s blog everyday and the amount of VENOM towards anyone with a different opinion than the status quo is quite amazing. There are 4-5 people that do this all the time and the collective, of course always blindly chimes in.

                      And YES, in the internet age, almost every corporation or business constantly monitors the posts and reviews on twitter, yelp, blogs and message boards.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      You realize that most of this is humor along the “bustin your balls” and we are just having fun. You are welcome to have a different opinion but expect that a handful of us will challenge you when you spew the pessimistic cries of “we must spend money so we can win 80 games, Ricketts is cheap, another 100 losses, MOAR.” What I am not hearing is how you would build this team so that we are a championship caliber team every year. Everyone complained about how Hendry spend money just to spend money and how we couldn’t get out of the first round, we couldn’t wait for Hendry to get canned but now some people are screaming for Theo’s head. Patience people and have a sense of humor.

                    • gutshot5820

                      I think everybody can just stop whining about Hendry already. It’s been three years, going on four since Ricketts took over. Give it up. And yes, I do have a problem with my favorite team expecting to be one of the worst in our division/league in the fourth year and most likely fifth year too.

                      And YES I can be a fan and think the Ricketts are cheap and Theo is being handcuffed. And YES, even though I have somewhat confidence in Theo’s abilities, there is no guarantee we are going to be good by being cheap and sticking to a small market team plan.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Gunshot please tell us what Theo and Ricketts should be doing this year? Who should they sign? Who should they have signed last year? Please play GM and let us know how you would build this team.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Well on hindsight how about we signed Darvish and Cespedes? People keep saying we are short pieces and now is not the time to add. Well of course? If you don’t start adding pieces now you are not going to be able to do it all n one year. If we added Darvish and Cespedes last year, kept Marshall, added Greinke or Sanchez this year plus one of the premier centerfielders. Trade for a third basemen, I think we would be in a comfortable payroll and at least competed for a playoff spot?

                      But whatever, this is all conjecture and hindsight, But what I’m saying is that it is possible to compete and build up the farm at the same time.

                  • baldtaxguy

                    An opinion on either extreme. i.e. 102 or more losses and being a contender, are both not sensible views…in November…in my opinion….without anger or hatred…and I’m not a shill working for the Cubs organization.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Ok, I have to disagree on what you are saying. I think a strong opinion supported by facts can be made that the Cubs will stink next year….even in November. And I would be willing to bet money on that, would you?

                    • Fishin Phil

                      This is my point exactly. I would prefer to wait and see how things point out. I would not write the whole season off as a waste of time, nor would I start printing playoff tickets.

                      I’m not on the Cubs payroll, but if Theo would like to hire me, I can be reached at angrypuppet@cubsfan.com

                    • baldtaxguy

                      “Ok, I have to disagree on what you are saying. I think a strong opinion supported by facts can be made that the Cubs will stink next year….even in November. And I would be willing to bet money on that, would you?”

                      No. I don’t predict a 162 game season result in November. Never have and I don’t see the value in doing so, unless I felt the need to have my prediction validated by other “predictors.” And then should it come to be accurate, I don’t have this need to “tell you so” down the road. Just my way of things, enjoying Cubs baseball, but not a shill employee of the organization, and without any anger or hatred, so don’t perceive it as such.

                  • BT

                    Yeah, why is it that people get so freaked out when they are called suckers and blind sheep? I can’t imagine why people react with venom when others come on with a holier than thou attitude to tell them how stupid they are to give a regime that has been in place for less than 14 months a chance to prove themselves.

                    Mystifying really.

                    • gutshot5820

                      BINGO!!!

                • Cubbie Blues

                  I could use a new scarf.

                  • Fishin Phil

                    I was going to knit you a mullet.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      That would be a waste. I can actually grow hair on the back. It’s the top that I have a problem with.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      I’ll take a beer cozy

              • cub2014

                jim hendry’s last 2 years we lost around 90 games so what is the difference with 100 losses or 90 losses. better draft picks. hendry had a good run made good deals and picks up until 2004 after that dissappointment he started bringing in big contracts and depleting minors. theo is doing the opposite, I say good but I think with a few decent free agents they could be a playoff contender in 2014 but why not try and get
                another top pick for 2013 efforts and trade these contracts for prospects?

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  he started bringing in big contracts and depleting minors.

                  I read this over and over, but nobody can name any of the minor leaguers that Hendry gave away. The reality is that under Hendry (as under his predecessors) the Cubs minor league system failed to produce big league talent for the Cubs or anybody else.

                  Moreover, free agent and trade acquisitions were a huge part of the Cubs ’03 team. Yes, the pitching trio of Wood, Prior & Zambrano did a lot, but the every day players were (especially by the end of the season) guys who had started on other teams and who had big contracts.

            • gutshot5820

              The animosity towards anyone who suggests that the Cubs are not spending enough money on payroll and acting like a small market team makes me believe there are several people on here who works in some capacity for the Cubs organization as shills.

              • baldtaxguy

                So is shill animosity real animosity?

                • gutshot5820

                  Not it’s not. It’s members of the Cubs organization trolling message boards and blogs, attempting to control the public opinion of the Cubs by spreading posting positive stuff and chastising anyone who posts a negative opinion.

                  Normally, I wouldn’t even consider this, but the level of attack when someone posts a negative opinion is so high, that it almost seems abnormal. I come on here to read Brett’s excellent blogs on the Cubs, but when I see the same four or screen names that attack anyone with a negative opinion every day and that is all they do. Too weird.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    What about those of us that come on here and have to sift through the same complaints everyday. Don’t you think that gets old as well?

                  • MaxM1908

                    I’ve read this entire string, and I’m confused where you think this “animosity,” “chastising,” or “attacking” is coming from. You’ve stated a very aggressive opinion about the Cubs and the organization. People have disagreed with you. Some have made sarcastic comments to make their point. These aren’t attacks, these are counterpoints. If you can’t handle different styles of argumentation, you probably shouldn’t be so aggressive in your opinion. Or, as the old adage goes, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Whatever MAX. If you think by you telling me to not post on here anymore is not a personal attack than you are mistaken. I’m not offended at all by any of the comments made in this thread. But just to let you know, many times they are not counterattacks of the post or opinion, but attacks on the person making the comments (anyone who has a negative view of the current Cubs organization or FO). I see this everyday by the same people all the time.

                      I see people post their comments on MLBTR and never do people attack the individuals, just argue their view points and that’s it, because your type of comments are not allowed.

                    • Drew7

                      Boom shaka-laka

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Gunshot- calm down, if anyone disagrees with you do you always get all bent out of shape and act like this. People can disagree with you and will disagree with but these tears from you are just childish.

              • gutshot5820

                As a matter of fact Goat, you are one of the main first person on this board that gets bent out of shape whenever someone criticizes Theo or the build up the farm plan. You spend half your day/posts telling people to ignore other people or acting like you are the captain of this board.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  The folks MG tells people to ignore are not folks who have a differing opinion – you’ll note he’s never told anyone to ignore you. He’s talking about literally two very specific trolls who aren’t here to discuss the Cubs, they are here to try and trash the place.

                  • gutshot5820

                    In this instance yes, but there were a few people suggesting that I don’t post on here anymore if i don’t like their opinions or can’t stand the heat. And I get that vibe from a lot of the regular posters whenever someone has a different point of view from them And then it’s pile on time. As a matter of fact, I like to read the comments because of the varied opinions and I don’t get offended and the reason I get a lil bit out of whack is because I feel a lot of times the regulars are not attacking opinion’s but rather the person.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      So long as a person is thoughtful and respectful in their comments, I also like the variety of positions – even ones I don’t agree with.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Agreed and I absolutely love reading your blogs Brett. I go on to MLTR, Cubs Den and BCB and I like your site the most.

                      But I RARELY see the kind of open criticism of people on other sites that I see on here. It’s pretty telling when a poster feels he is a moderator and tells other people to ignore someone even if he is a troll. That is the moderators job.

                    • OlderStyle

                      Dude, I get where you’re coming from. It’s why I don’t bother trying to talk baseball with anyone on here anymore. If your opinion differs, a chorus of Theo devotees will try to shout you down. It seems the Cub fan base is too emotionally scarred by Jim Hendry.
                      While I think he goes too far sometimes, I applaud Kyle’s consistent dissension. I’ve found some other sites that don’t have the rabids.

                    • The Dude Abides

                      Gutshot IMO you are spot on. To use a Jim Rome phrase this site has quite a few clones that you can almost see their eyes role whenever someone states an opinion or questions them on how things should be done. Several board monitors who quickly defend one another, advise people to stop engaging others, make quick witty quips on others post, etc. It gets old fast and limits what the board could be. But obviously they do a great job with updates so unless you really want to keep getting beat up check in and throw out the occasional thought and move on. However, if your glutton they will eventually tolerate you if nothing else to poke fun your way. It’s a blog what can you say.

                    • hansman1982

                      This is a community no different than any other community. There are people on here who have seen this site grow from 3-4-5 comments A DAY to where it is now. To those people this site is as much their baby as it is Brett’s (Think Liv Tyler on Armaggedon).

                      For those folks, we have seen the discussions of “Ricketts is cheap” “Theo Sucks” blah blah blah hundreds of times before, it gets old, quick. Not because they don’t want to see it but it isn’t new discussion. Yes payroll is going down, yes it has for several years (never mind the 2010 team had the highest payroll ever for the Cubs and 2011 was in line with 2009), do you have NEW discussion.

                      (BTW, I am lumping myself in with “those people”)

                    • hansman1982

                      One more thing…just because we disagree with your disagreement doesn’t make us evil.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Can we actually choose to be with “those people”? I thought it had to be bestowed on a person rather than usurply (sp?) claiming it.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Um hansman I disagree with you because Goat=Satan=Evil

                    • hansman1982

                      HOW DARE THEE CHALLENGE MY CLAIM TO THE THRONE!!!!!! I can prove my lineage back to Adam and Eve!

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Are you trying to tell us that you used to be a snake?

                • Cubbie Blues

                  The people that he says to ignore are trolls. It is an internet term for people who get onto message boards and their main goal is to get people riled up and disrupt the flow and normalcy of that message board. The best way to handle such people is to ignore them. If they don’t create a reaction they tend to move on to other sites.

                • MichiganGoat

                  I’m replying to you and trying to get you to have a discussion about what the Cubs need to do to satisfy the growing group of Theo/Ricketts haters, but instead you continue to complain about how people treat you. If you keep this complaining about how people don’t agree with you I will just ignore you.

                  • Old school

                    Brett,
                    Nice work, thank you. Is there any pecota like metric that accounts for the AL impact/ ballpark effect for Feldman. I would think those impacts would also suggest some upside for the Cubs.
                    Can’t wait for the rule 5 article I am sure you are preparing.
                    With the number two pick, perhaps……

                    Finally, to paraphrase the great Walter Payton, for those who blog interesting baseball related information, God bless. For those who just waste our time, God Bless you too and post less.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Thanks, OS. At its most basic level, ERA+ accounts for league and ballpark, so Feldman’s 5.09 ERA becomes an 89 ERA+, which is about 11% worse than average, even when accounting for ballpark and league.

                    • hansman1982

                      Remember Brett, ERA+ would be the league average was 11% better than him. Semantics, yes but slightly important.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I do remember – that’s why I said “about.”

                    • hansman1982

                      DAMN YOU LAWYERS AND YOUR LAWYERSPEAK!!!

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I am well-trained to drop in little caveats like that. Self-protection!

    • Jimmy james

      Oakland has been pretty damn successful at it…..add some money to keep some guys and add and
      they would be a monster. That is what they are trying to do

      • Bill

        Beane has proven he can win with a small payroll, Theo hasn’t.

        • Kubphan82

          Beane has proven he can win regular season games with a small payroll… Sure he does well, I’m impressed with what they’ve been able to construct…

          Theo proved he can win a WS with a payroll range of $125-148million. I’m impressed by that too…

          If Theo can replicate Beane’s style while not getting too greedy, like Boston, and losing sight of the process, then he should be able to operate at a higher payroll while keeping quality players longer by paying them and trading others to keep the minors fluid with talent. I’m certain there’s a Beane/Epstein hybrid that’ll work for Chicago… Theo just has to stay the course.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The salary issue is a bit of an anachronism at this point. What Beane did over a decade ago was separate what the Yankees actually did (get on base with good slugging while keeping guys off base and limiting slugging) from what the media said that they did (i.e., 20 more clutch hits than the 0.500 teams). After that, guys that Beane could hire cheaply in 2001 had agents touting their players’ high OBP and doubles numbers in negotiations, and actually getting big offers.

            With the prevalence of statistics, a lot of things that actually win games but that do not merit ESPN highlights are now monetarily valuable to the players. So, now that we know that the Yankees actually are doing, it’s going to be that much more difficult to emulate them without spending like them.

            (People blame Beane for letting the cat out of the bag, but there is no way that it was going to stay there.)

            • WGNstatic

              Cat out of the bag… Seems to me that Brett could use that anytime he is breaking news…

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