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With the non-tender deadline coming tomorrow, today could be another busy day in MLB – yesterday saw about five minor trades go down, as teams play with their rosters. The Cubs could get in on that action, or they could simply make a decision on Ian Stewart. As always, my eyes are peeled and my fingers are ready.

  • Josh Vitters headed to Venezuela earlier this month to play for the Caracas Lions in the Venezuelan Winter League. He received seven at bats, did not record a hit, and now has been released by the team. It would seem unreasonable to believe that he was released because of those seven hitless at bats – two games – but apparently that did factor into the decision by the team’s president to let Vitters go. According to Rafael Rojas, the team felt Vitters was unable to adjust rapidly enough to the game down there, including in time at a level lower than the top league (at which lower level he apparently played beyond those two games with the big club), and they couldn’t wait on him. As Rafael notes, the VWL is both short and competitive – it is not a developmental or instructional league. The teams want to win, and they have a short window in which to do so. If you’re not performing, you don’t play. I get it. Obviously it still seems strange to have such a short turnaround absent an injury or trade, but that may be the case here. We have seen in the past that Vitters has been slow to adjust to new/higher levels.
  • On the other hand, Luis Valbuena, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time and must be tendered a contract on Friday, continues to tear up the VWL.
  • Former Cubs closer Lee Smith is still hoping for a shot at the Hall of Fame. With a crowded ballot this year, it might be tough.
  • Speaking of which, Barry Bonds does care about making it into the Hall of Fame. “I do really care,” Bonds told MLB.com about making the Hall of Fame. “I may say I don’t, but I do really care. I’ve been through a lot in my life so not too many things bother me. Making the Hall of Fame, would it be something that’s gratifying because of what I’ve sacrificed? Sure. Baseball has been a big part of our lives. We’ve sacrificed our bodies. It’s the way we made our living.” The reference to sacrificing his body is the most interesting piece of the statement.
  • The skating rink at Wrigley is now open, and there will be a tree lighting ceremony tomorrow at 5pm CT.
  • Earlier this week, John at Cubs Den put together a very interesting take on the Cubs’ rebuilding plans. Sounds about right to me.
  • Don’t forget to check out the BN Podcast – the latest episode came out yesterday, so check it out, love it, and then subscribe to it.
  • fortyonenorth

    Regardless of what really happened to Vitters, I like the en Espanol story I found (http://www.elemergente.com/2012/11/se-fue-josh-vitters-y-llega-wes.html?m=1) and then translated via Google:

    …said Luis Avila , president of the Lions, by publicizing the…dismissal of third baseman Josh Vitters, who returned to the United States after a failed passage by the parallel.

    I think the “parallel” is a VWL hazing ritual or something.

    Hope this clears things up ;)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. Wow. That is awesome. Crystal clear.

    • Cesar

      Really interesting article. It also mentions that Tony Campana should start batting more to be a starter in the team.

      • CubFan Paul

        I think it says Campana needs to start hitting more…same o, same o

        • CubFan Paul

          and what does antesalista mean/translate to? anyone..

  • Fastball

    This thing with Vitters is bs imo. something is wrong with that story. Its like somebody has a axe to grind somewhere. 7 at bats doesn’t get anybody cut in winter ball.

    • MXB

      Yeah, it sounds a bit sketchy but I do remember reading that during Spring Training 2012, Vitters rubbed Sveum the wrong way (which probably carried over during his call-up), so it could be a similar situation.

    • Kyle

      The people who I’ve heard from who are familiar with winter ball down there don’t seem that surprised. As a non-native fringe player, they weren’t likely to be very patient with him regardless.

  • Fastball

    Brett I don’t think the Cubs will make a rule 5 pick this year. They don’t have and can’t afford a roster spot for another Lend Castillo who won’t contribute. Unless they take a position player I think they pass.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Will be writing in that next week, but I can see them pulling the Lendy trick again. The roster is only crowded if the Cubs live everyone currently on it. I’m not sure they do.

      • ETS

        That pirates pitcher will be hidden in someone’s bullpen all season (I imagine). Might as well be ours, right?

    • GDB

      They only lose the roster spot if they try and keep somebody all year. I’d be surprised if they don’t pick someone and take him to spring training. Can always send him back before the season starts if he looks bad in the spring. All we need for that is an open 40-man spot, and I can think of a few names that no one would miss.

      I’d be surprised if they don’t pick someone up just to have a look at.

  • cheryl

    Doesn’t figure. Could Vitters have asked to go home? If he did, then he’s about out of chances. But even that’s unlikely.

  • dan

    could be coming home because a trade is in the works before tomarrows deadline

  • http://worldseriesdreaming.com/ Rice Cube

    As always, my eyes are peeled and my fingers are ready.

    Hey-oooooooooooooooooooo…

    Sorry, hopped up on cough meds and it’s too damn early.

    I can see them picking up Valbuena and avoiding arb with an $800K settlement or thereabouts, while non-tendering Ian Stewart and bringing him back for about $1.5-2MM.

  • Eric

    I pretty much agree with the Cubs Den write up. One thing not specifically mentioned even though it fits his ideas is I really want the Cubs to trade for a young core player. We added Rizzo last year and Shark emerged. I just want an exciting new player to add to our young core.

  • MightyBear

    I hope they make a rule 5 draft and its that pitcher from Boston.

    • WGNstatic

      I have been thinking about the rule 5 draft and the Boston pitcher (Josh Fields ?).

      It is an interesting position for the Cubs. The guy doesn’t seem to have a particularly high ceiling but would be more likely to be productive from the get go. If last season is any guide, I am doubtful that the Cubs will go for a guy like that. Consider that they let Flaherty go last year and brought in Castillo. Essentially trading one for the other. It seems like Fields is more along the lines of Flaherty.

      I think I would prefer the Cubs pick up another lottery ticket and see what happens. Of course, that being said I do realize how rare the Johann Santana’s are in the Rule V

      • ssckelley

        I would be surprised if the Astros did not take Fields.

  • Mr. Gonzo

    With Detroit open to offers for Porcello, what additional players would the Cubs need to include in a package centered around Marmol to make it a fair trade?

    • Joker

      If the Tigers are foolish enough to consider a trade with Porcello and Marmol as the primary pieces, we listen and make it work.

      • Mr. Gonzo

        I knew a holiday gift basket wasn’t gonna cut it, but it feels like maybe we’d have to package up the moon with Marmol for Porcello. Joker – who do you think we’d realistically offer?

  • Cubbie Blues

    Don’t forget to check out the BN Podcast – the latest episode came out yesterday, so check it out, love it, and then subscribe to it.

    Don’t forget to rate it on iTunes as well. While you’re at it, might as well leave a review.

    • MightyBear

      How do you do that? I tried but didn’t see those options. I’m on an android phone, is that the difference? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

      • Cubbie Blues

        There is a small toolbar above the text area (you have to let the page fully load). you hit the button “quote” type or paste the text you want quoted and then hit again after your done with the quote (it changes to /quote). This is what it will look like before posting (without the periods). text

        • Cubbie Blues

          blockquote this is what it will look like before posting /blockquote

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    Brett:

    Are Valbuena and Stewart mutually exclusive at this point, or is there value in bringing both of them back?

    • Kyle

      Not Brett, but if we stipulate for a moment the idea that there is any value to Ian Stewart, no they are not mutually exclusive. Cubs seem to see Valbuena as a potential utility guy who can platoon at 2b as well.

      • Noah

        Valbuena could also be a primary back up SS. If Stewart is brought back, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Valbuena brought back also as the backup MIF, with then a right handed hitter who can play 1B and 3B (along with either also 2B or some corner OF) used as the other reserve infielder.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Definitely value in both, especially considering Valbuena’s reverse split (i.e., he hits lefties better than righties). Valbuena is more of a utility guy, whereas Stewart is 3B only. Obviously Valbuena COULD end up being the starter, but that’s not a requirement of his coming back.

  • kranzman54

    Brett, what would you equate the Venezualan league to? Like AAA? I heard Valbuena was doing well, but just pulled up his numbers, and dude is just killing it.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Maybe in the article above ?

      On the other hand, Luis Valbuena, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time and must be tendered a contract on Friday, continues to tear up the VWL.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Sorry, that was a bit snarky.

      • kranzman54

        Little bit, I was really just asking what to compare theses numbers to. Sorry didn’t realize I was offending you with repetition.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, the best comparison you hear is AAA, but the problem is it has some extremes – some very good, MLB-caliber players and prospects, and then some guys who wouldn’t be hitting their weight in A-ball. Decent pitching overall.

      I try not to compare – I guess I just say that it’s one of the better, if not the best, Winter Leagues.

      • kranzman54

        Thanks

    • GDB

      Is Valbuena destined to be a perfect example of a AAAA player? Or is there still a chance of him breaking out next year?

      I had a quick scan of his minor league numbers and came away pretty impressed. He has parts of 6 seasons at AAA (in itself not a good sign) but has hit a robust .304/.385/.476 while there (in over 1100 plate appearances).

      Valbuena’s lack of hitting at the major league level in 2012 wasn’t helped by a .260 BABIP, but realistically how far away is he from being a .240/.330/.420 kind of a player in the bigs?

      • ssckelley

        What do you mean by “breaking out”?

        I think expecting Valbuena to be anything more than a utility infielder off the bench is a big mistake. I do not see him being an every day player.

        • CubFan Paul

          people still talk of Barney as if he’s going to break out next year offensively

          • hansman1982

            hey, if you remove June-September Barney hit AWESOME last year…clearly he will break out

  • Fastball

    If we draft a player in the rule 5 exactly how long does he have to stay on the active 25 man roster. Last year we buried Castillo in the minors after about a month or so. I am all for getting a kid who can make an impact in the next year or two. Is it a pitcher or a position player? How many really good prospects are there who aren’t protected by their parent club. I understand our system isn’t as flush with prospects as other systems. The systems (which ones) that are well stocked with players who cannot be protected have players at risk they just get exposed with. Are those players strong enough to move past kids we have protected or would like to protect but cannot? I know we have guys on here who have probably vetted this whole thing out. If we were going to make a pick in the no. 2 slot who would it be? Can we make a pick like we did with Josh Hamilton several years ago and then flip him as part of a trade or cash considerations in a trade? I don’t know all the rules involved but maybe our FO gets very creative this go around.

    • ssckelley

      They have to remain on the roster the entire season or be offered back to the former team for $25K. I think Castillo was an exception and spent time in the minors because of injury rehab.

    • hansman1982

      90 days on the active 25 man – the rest of the time can be on the 15-day DL.

      Once we have the player we have complete control of the player – subject to the 90 day rule.

    • Kyle

      1) It’s usually a pitcher, because it doesn’t hurt their development as much to spend a year in the bullpen compared with a position player not getting regular at-bats.

      2) Not very many good prospects. We’re talking about very fringy guys. There’s occasionally an exception where a player breaks out in a huge way, but that’s true of minor league free agents and the waiver wire and anything else in baseball.

      3) Our system is actually deeper than most. It’s an upper-half system, and all that’s missing from making it elite is a strong second-tier. We have a great first tier and tons of third-tier depth.

      4) We’ll probably get someone worthwhile enough to replace someone we might lose.

      5) It’s early to say, but my personal favorite and one that a lot of other people seem to like is Josh Fields out of the Red Sox system.

      6) Once you select a player, you can trade him just like you would any other. However, the roster restrictions remain in place for his new team.

      7) (this should have gone higher up but I missed it). They have to spend the entire year on the MLB roster, but you can sneak in a little minor league time with a DL/rehab stint. If they spend too much time on the DL, that time gets carried over and they have to stay on the roster that many days next year.

  • ssckelley

    I see no reason why the Cubs would not tender Valbuena a contract. He plays multiple positions and bats left handed. I think he has potential to be a decent utility infielder, even on a good team.

  • Fastball

    It seems to me that Vitters would be included in a trade so they bring him home to avoid injury. Possibly the VWB manager was told to give an excuse such as this one so everyone doesn’t jump to conclusions. I have to believe that Jed is sensitive to media blowing deals up before they happen.
    Last year LaHair went down to the VWB and came back on at least one occasion. I don’t give Valbuena’s success in the VWB much credence. He was streaky with the Cubs and then he went cold for a while. He is back home on familiar ground so he is relaxed in his environment. Others who go down there from the states have to adjust to a 3rd world country. It’s quite different. As soon as you step outside the Tourist area’s it’s a shocker for someone who has never been there.

  • Richard Nose

    That Cubs Den piece is pretty good. I’ve been understanding of that approach all along, and I still like the read. There are quite a few Theo-haters that post on here all the time that need to read that piece very thoroughly.

    • Kyle

      Challenge accepted.

    • Dr. Percival Cox

      Great, now Kyle is going to “improve the level of discussion” on those message boards, too…

      • Kyle

        You’re welcome in advance.

        • DarthHater

          Kyle, if you write a reaction to the Cubs Den piece, I hope you’ll post it here because I’d like to read it and I don’t follow the message boards over there.

          • FFP

            Yes,Kyle, a fisking of the Cubs Den piece would be a good read. (Actually I also wanted to try to use that new (to me) verb in a sentence–without it sounding naughty. Did I use it right?)

            • DarthHater

              I’ve often felt tempted to suggest that Kyle fisk himself, but somehow that didn’t sound nice. ;-)

            • Cubbie Blues

              Fisking:

              A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment.

            • Kyle

              This is what I posted in reply over there, despite the best efforts of their poorly coded front-end to crash my laptop. Not my best effort, but I think I hit all the high notes:

              Meh. This is a very well-reasoned argument that shows that the front office is doing what they want to do. I’ve never questioned their ability to execute a plan. I’m simply not convinced that what they want to do is what makes the Cubs the most likely to win the World Series.

              The article starts off with a strawman. Of course it’s not either/or. The Cubs don’t need to sign all the free agents and they don’t need to wait for all the prospects. That doesn’t mean that the middle path they’ve taken is optimal. They are setting their sights in free agency extraordinarily low for scant reasons.

              They didn’t have to clear most of those salaries. Those salaries cleared themselves just by virtue of the contracts expiring. The Cubs front office inherited as much as $70 million in payroll room when you consider the expiring contracts and the new CBA redirecting money away from the draft. That was more than enough to lay the foundation for a competitive team, but instead they chose to let themselves captain a 100-loss team and put the team further away from contention with their negligence.

              I see a big list of “long-term assets” that aren’t actually assets yet. They are potential assets. I’m certainly not one to downplay the value of prospects, but their value is being severely overplayed in some circles these days. I’m still waiting on my Kelton/Montanez/Hill/Choi infield, or my Prior/Cruz/Zambrano/Brownlie/Hagerty rotation. Maybe we can wait until Pierce Johnson makes it through an A-ball season without his elbow exploding before we confidently label him a long-term asset.

              Untapped value? I guess. Jeff Samardzija was promised a chance at starting by the previous regime the summer before, so it’s not as if the new front office was blazing an untold trail. I’m dumbfounded as to why they think trying to convert Cabrera is a good idea. He was terrible as a starter at every opportunity and only ever began to show real promise as a potential big-leaguer when he was converted to the pen. I guess they’ll have to see for themselves that he can’t start, which is silly.

              The Cubs absolutely should have been in on BJ Upton. He’s a good MLB CFer. They do not have a good MLB CFer. I don’t think it’s reasonable to project either Jackson or Szczur as a MLB starting CFer at this point, so it’s silly to leave the position open waiting for them. Almora, meanwhile, is in A-ball. Maybe 30% of the position players of his stature at his level will become MLB players. Given his high-floor makeup, maybe he’s 50%. But that’s still too risky and too far to be basing MLB decisions on. With the money we saved on not signing BJ Upton, I guess we can go buy ourselves another Ian Stewart and Concepcion each year, but I’d rather just have the actually good player.

              It’s hard to win the World Series. It’s even harder when you throw away a few years in the meantime. There’s simply no evidence that the 2-3 years the Cubs are wasting right now will be made up on the back end. We’ve got a GM who has never run a playoff team in three tries (going on four this upcoming season), but we’re supposed to believe that once his plan is in place we’re going to get a run of 5 or 6 in a row to make up for it? The Cardinals, Reds and Pirates may have something to say about that.

              In summary, timing is severely overrated. There is a success cycle that should be a slight modifier to how much you value MLB wins, but that’s all it should be. Baseball is too fickle and too variable for a major-market team to decide it has no chance in advance of a season, let alone an offseason. Believing that you can somehow perfectly time your talent acquisition to maximize it is chasing a false efficiency, because it ignores all the costs in time that you’ve wasted in the meantime.

              • MightyBear

                Very well thought out and written Kyle. I disagree with you on Upton but the argument is pretty sound and reasonable.

              • hansman1982

                “The article starts off with a strawman. Of course it’s not either/or. The Cubs don’t need to sign all the free agents and they don’t need to wait for all the prospects.”

                You are finding a strawman where one does not exist. John even states that he doesn’t think either approach is wise.

                “They are setting their sights in free agency extraordinarily low for scant reasons.” and “The Cubs absolutely should have been in on BJ Upton. He’s a good MLB CFer. They do not have a good MLB CFer.”

                The Cubs are setting their free agent sights on guys who will (hopefully) be better than they have been. Upton (based on his peripherals (thanks Doc for pointing these out)) will NOT be better than he has been. So sign him just because he’s a free agent at a position of need? The new CBA is DEMANDING that we sign guys who will be far too likely to underperform their contract just because they are there? Free agency isn’t all that it is cracked up to be (unless you go nuts on the top-tier guys). Look at the Nationals. If they hadn’t signed Werth and used that $12M last year to field even just average players over Nady and Flores you would have doubled Werth’s worth. (Side point…I think this is the first I have seen you directly linked to Upton, I may be wrong though, I don’t read everything you write)

                “Jeff Samardzija was promised a chance at starting by the previous regime the summer before, so it’s not as if the new front office was blazing an untold trail. I’m dumbfounded as to why they think trying to convert Cabrera is a good idea. He was terrible as a starter at every opportunity and only ever began to show real promise as a potential big-leaguer when he was converted to the pen.”

                Reverse Samardzija and Cabrera and tell me that wouldn’t also be a true statement. So don’t take the chance because there is risk? If Theo and Jed can’t handle the risk, they should get out of the business.

                “There’s simply no evidence that the 2-3 years the Cubs are wasting right now will be made up on the back end.”

                I want to say there is a phrase for what you are saying here. Something that can never be proven either way. I guess the 2010 and 2011 seasons were AWESOME because we tried for contention. Hoyer and Epstein have extensive experience in Boston, the team that put together 13(ish) consecutive winning seasons in the AL East. Were they directly responsible for each of those, no but to think they have no clue what they are doing is just asinine.

                In summary, I think you are wrong. Without top-tier offensive talent on the team they are going nowhere. Last year’s opening day team really was no worse than 2011 and we were on track to finish better before the sell-off.

                Remember, there are 30 teams all trying to find those perfect players that are a good signing, make the fanbase feel warm and fuzzy and perform just as they did last year.

                • Kyle

                  “The Cubs are setting their free agent sights on guys who will (hopefully) be better than they have been. Upton (based on his peripherals (thanks Doc for pointing these out)) will NOT be better than he has been. So sign him just because he’s a free agent at a position of need? ”

                  Well, yes. You don’t win World Series rings based on being the team that most outperformed its contracts or last year’s performance. What an odd criteria for signing a player.

                  “The new CBA is DEMANDING that we sign guys who will be far too likely to underperform their contract just because they are there? ”

                  If you take a very narrow view of “underperform,” then yes. You can’t win without underperforming contracts, because the only way to avoid underperforming contracts is to sign very, very cheap players.

                  “Free agency isn’t all that it is cracked up to be (unless you go nuts on the top-tier guys). Look at the Nationals. If they hadn’t signed Werth and used that $12M last year to field even just average players over Nady and Flores you would have doubled Werth’s worth. (Side point…I think this is the first I have seen you directly linked to Upton, I may be wrong though, I don’t read everything you write)”

                  OK. And how many years of awful did the Nationals need to build that up?

                  “Reverse Samardzija and Cabrera and tell me that wouldn’t also be a true statement.”

                  OK. It’s not true. Samardzija’s minor league starting track record make Cabrera’s look, well awful, because it is awful.

                  ” So don’t take the chance because there is risk? If Theo and Jed can’t handle the risk, they should get out of the business.”

                  They aren’t taking a risk. They are throwing away a bullpen asset on a pipe dream.

                  “I want to say there is a phrase for what you are saying here. Something that can never be proven either way. I guess the 2010 and 2011 seasons were AWESOME because we tried for contention.”

                  They were much better than 2012.

                  ” Hoyer and Epstein have extensive experience in Boston, the team that put together 13(ish) consecutive winning seasons in the AL East. Were they directly responsible for each of those, no but to think they have no clue what they are doing is just asinine.”

                  If they were acting like they did in Boston, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

                  “Remember, there are 30 teams all trying to find those perfect players that are a good signing, make the fanbase feel warm and fuzzy and perform just as they did last year.”

                  Right. When you are trying to be the best out of 30, you really can’t afford to waste even a single year.

                  • hansman1982

                    “Well, yes. You don’t win World Series rings based on being the team that most outperformed its contracts or last year’s performance. What an odd criteria for signing a player.”

                    Wow – you took what I said and interpreted it about as horribly as possible. I won’t even bother explaining myself further.

                    “If you take a very narrow view of “underperform,” then yes. You can’t win without underperforming contracts, because the only way to avoid underperforming contracts is to sign very, very cheap players.”

                    No see, I stated that the CBA demands we sign players entirely too risky to underperform. When your stats are going the wrong way (sans HR) like Upton, I’d say a team needing 100 runs (at least) on both sides of the ball should steer clear of Upton and Upton-esque players.

                    “They aren’t taking a risk. They are throwing away a bullpen asset on a pipe dream.”

                    Yes, because having him start a handful of games in ST and Iowa will completely ruin him…forever…cause that happens…

                    “They were much better than 2012.”

                    If we take a look at the Cubs up-until the trade deadline (when they traded away 2 of their 3 top starters and clearly went into PLAY THE KIDS MODE!) and extrapolated that to a full season (in effect full-seasoning the team they built going into the season) they were actually (Pythagoeran speaking) very similar to the 2010-2011 teams. Fewer runs but fewer RA. At that point, they had a better record than at the same point as 2011.

                    Long story short – the 2012 team (as constructed on OD) was not as bad as people make it out to be.

                    “If they were acting like they did in Boston, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

                    I have already shown you how they are acting EXACTLY the same as they did in Boston.

                    “Right. When you are trying to be the best out of 30, you really can’t afford to waste even a single year.”

                    Meh…if (in 2016 (which would be the equivelant Nationals 2012 season for the Cubs)) you told me we could have one of the best and youngest teams in baseball, give me 3 more 100 loss seasons.

                    .

                    • hansman1982

                      FYI – Nationals equivelancy based on years since last .500 record.

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      I do agree the 2012 team wasn’t as bad as it ended up. That’s just even more of an indictment that more effort and resources weren’t expended to make it actually good.

                      Trading 3 more 100-loss seasons to get to where the Nats are? Ick, I don’t think I’d do it. Harper is such a generational talent that I might.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Hans, what are Theo&Co doing EXACTLY the same as they did in Boston?

                      i don’t remember very many tanked seasons

                    • hansman1982

                      Acquiring under-valued players and not being major players in free agency. Their 2007 team is chock full of guys that they acquired through the draft, trades or teeny-tiny free agent contracts. (Matsuzaka being an exception there)

                    • hansman1982

                      You are right, though, not much tanking, they were too busy maintaining an awesome farm system that fed their insane stretch of winning in the AL East.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Hans, what about before 2007? were Theo&Co doing it EXACTLY the same then?

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      When we get our Schilling and Matsuzaka, I’ll stop complaining (so much. Maybe.)

                      They did most of those nice cheap pickups in his first year. Jed Hoyer’s waiver binge failed to live up to its predecessor. Might be a MacPhail/Lynch situation.

                    • hansman1982

                      When I get time I will look at Theo’s tenure in Boston in terms of FA/Trade/Farm System

                      I like the 07 season better than 04 because it removes nearly all of the previous regime’s influence on the team. At this point most GM’s would sink or swim.

                • DarthHater

                  And the fisker becomes the fiskee. It’s a regular fiskival! :-D

                  • Richard Nose

                    I’ve created one hell of a fiskfest here.

              • Mick

                Theo and Jed have World Series rings and Kyle does not so, forgive me Kyle but I’ll hitching my cart to their wagon.

                • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                  You are forgiven.

                  I wouldn’t want me in charge of the Cubs, either. I’d settle for the Theo Epstein that won all those titles. The guy who tried to trade for A-Rod despite having the most expensive contract in the game, mostly because he didn’t want the Yankees to have him.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Oh, oh man. No you didn’t!

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      It had to be done. I’ve got so many walls of text in me waiting to burst out.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      And just in case anyone is wondering what I’m referring to, click on Kyle’s name.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      So that is where all the Theo haters can go

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      And Kyle needs to open it up to comments!

                    • Mick

                      Boooooo! BOOOOOO!

                  • hansman1982

                    So you are bashing Theo on a rumor when it’s not cool to point to Darvish and Cespedes because of rumors?

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      Guilty. I’ll wear the scarlet H for hypocrite on that one.

                    • hansman1982

                      well then, sir…the gloves shall be on the floor!

                  • Mick

                    That was rings plural, they each have 2.

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      None from their current roles. Jed Hoyer has generally managed as many playoff teams as I have, though I’ve had considerably fewer chances.

          • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

            And I’ve already been politely asked to leave. That guy is awfully thin-skinned about people disagreeing with him.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Well, in his defense, he was probably already familiar with you from the comments here (or elsewhere). You’ve got quite the reputation.

              • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                Well, he referred to my particular brand of genius, so I guess he had heard of me.

                • ssckelley

                  Kyle, by random I did a search for the top farm system of 2008. No particular reason I picked that year except that it was relatively current and those prospect should have developed by now. I got lead to a mlb article that announced the Rays had the top farm system in 2008 with 5 players in the top 50. Those players are Evan Longoria, David Price, Jake McGee, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Davis. So far they are batting 1000 in terms of top prospects being successful MLB players.

                  • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                    Cool. How many playoff games did they win this year?

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      If we’re losing at the MLB level, I want a little more than “sometimes it works.”

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      That’s not the point, either – the point is: noting that the Cubs previously had a “stacked” farm system that didn’t work out proves nothing.

                    • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                      Well, the pointing out of the Cubs old farm system wasn’t meant to prove that farm systems don’t work. That’s just a counter to all the “We’ve never tried this way before!” nonsense.

                    • hansman1982

                      How many playoff games did the Marlins or Angels win this year?

                    • ssckelley

                      How many playoff games they won does not matter. You keep throwing around the failed class of 2002 as a reason this class will fail. I would argue that the 2002 class was not as big of a failure that you make it out to be.

                  • Myles

                    I don’t follow you. In 08, they had the No. 1 overall pick. It was Tim Beckham (a bust).

                    In that year, 25 of the 45 players in the 1st + supplemental have made the big leagues. Only 10 of THOSE have a career WAR over 1.

                    In fact, in 2008, the Rays actually did not draft a single player that has played a single game of major league baseball. Even the Cubs draftees of 08 have had 8 big-leaguers (Campana and Cashner the only notable ones).

                    • Myles

                      Oh, you weren’t talking about drafts. You’re talking about farm systems. We had a great one in 2002.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Right, and that one didn’t work out. But the Rays’ did. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they succeed. That was his point, I believe.

                    • Myles

                      2007 top 10, baseball america
                      1. Matsuzaka (woof, not a technical prospect)
                      2. Alex Gordon (woof)
                      3. Delmon Young (woof)
                      4. Philip Hughes (woof)
                      5. Homer Bailey (woof)
                      6. Cameron Maybin (woof)
                      7. Evan Longoria (yay!)
                      8. Brandon Wood (woof)
                      9. Justin Upton (yay!)
                      10. Andrew Miller (woof)

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Some of your woof definitions are way off in my book.

                    • bbmoney

                      Did you woof alex gordon? Alex Gordon and his 7.1 and 6.2 WAR from the last two years? Took him longer, but he’s a good player.

                      The other thing I’d like to note. Two of these top 10 (and 4 other pretty insignificant prospects) can apparently land you Miguel Cabrera. Silly Marlins…….

                    • Myles

                      I’m going to replace woof/yay with WAR, then. You’re right about Alex Gordon, my bad.

                      1. Matsuzaka (10.5 WAR) (51.1 post + 52 million contract)
                      2. Gordon (17 WAR)
                      3. Young (0.8 WAR) (but he is among the league leaders in assault)
                      4. Hughes (9.0 WAR)
                      5. Bailey (7.6 WAR)
                      6. Maybin (9.6 WAR)
                      7. Longo (29.3 WAR)
                      8. Wood (-2.4 WAR)
                      9. Upton (17.1 WAR)
                      10. Miller (3.6 WAR)
                      I’ll give you for sure that Gordon is fine player. Out of the Top 10 prospects, you’ve got 3 very good players, 4 average-ish players (Matsuzaka, Maybin, Hughes, Bailey) who are maybe league-average at their positions, and 3 players who are dumpster fires.

                      Let’s put it another way. Javier Baez MIGHT be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball next year. Sure, he could end up being as good as Alex Gordon or Evan Longoria. That’ll happen, what, 1/3 of the time if we’re being charitable? Another 1/3 of the time, he might end being as good as Cameron Maybin (with that tight .319 wOBA). The other 3rd of the time he’s literally useless, like Brandon Wood. I might be making your point for you, and I don’t even know what the point is, but what I take from this is that you really, really can’t just build a team from your farm system, because even across all the farm systems the cream of the crop doesn’t all pan out. The graveyards of AAA are littered with Brandon Woods, and Tim Beckhams, and Luke Hochevars, and Bryan Bullingtons, and Hayden Simpsons, and Lastings Milledges.

                      I don’t even know what I’m arguing anymore.

                    • ssckelley

                      Myles, click on Kyles name and read his “Deja Vu All Over Again” article. You will see the point I am trying to make. What happened back in 2002 has nothing to do what will happen with this class of prospects.

                    • kranzman54

                      Maybe I’m just crazy here, but didn’t Theo organize and lead a team to breaking the Curse of the Bambino…twice? This guy knows how to run a ball-club and frankly I’m gonna trust him to make decisions before I trust a bunch of Cubs fan posts (myself included). He has taken a team that was frustrated and hopeless and lead them to the World Series…twice. If he says, “This team is a mess and the best shot we got is to build a new farm system,” it’s pretty hard to argue that we know better.

            • MightyBear

              They asked you to leave? That’s a little scary. Maybe we should send him a copy of the first amendment.

              “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire

              (As long as its not vulgar or offensive of Trolley)

              • http://firetheoepstein.blogspot.com/ Kyle

                It’s not a First Amendment issue, but it was shockingly thin-skinned. I was being very polite.

                Not that I’m incapable of being rude. That just wasn’t one of those times. I’ve got a few people already warning about my “reputation” on BCB, which has recently caught my eye. I’m sorry if that’s cheating, Brett, but I never said we were exclusive.

                • TWC

                  Yeah, I read that exchange and was pretty put off by it. Unless I’m misremembering, I don’t think that Ace ever has told a commenter w/ a different opinion — no matter how frequently or inelegantly stated — to take a hike (abuse/trolling excluded).

                • CubFan Paul

                  yeah, very thin-skinned and in the bubble. i’ll stop posting there

                • MightyBear

                  The first amendment comment was kind of a joke. My point was I may not agree with you on every post but your points are pretty well thought out and not over the top or annoying. Isn’t that the whole point of these sights? To get information on the Cubs and communicate with other Cub fans and get varying opinions? That’s what I get out of this.

    • BD

      The one part I disagreed with was bout Greinke:

      “The Cubs may not want to sign a Zack Greinke type free agent right now, but that could change as soon as next season if the right guy becomes available”

      My issue with that is- Greinke can be had right now, for just money and 1 draft pick. The way young guys are getting locked up, the “right guy” might not become available again any time soon. I think that is a very real danger in waiting around for guys that only hypothetically will come available.

  • King Jeff

    Muskat says Vitters switched teams to get more playing time.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Read it carefully – he switched teams before coming home. As in, he was sent to a lower level, didn’t play well, and then was cut.

      • CubFan Paul

        that’s not good…

      • King Jeff

        Yeah, not really surprised, it’s was his first real action in a while, and he hasn’t played consistently since he got called up. It would have been nice if he could have turned it around in a short amount of time, but I don’t think it’s a disaster for him to come back here to work on his holes.

  • ssckelley

    With the Cubs drafting 2nd in the Rule 5 draft I cannot imagine them passing on Josh Fields if the Astros do not grab him. Marc Krauss (OF) from the (gulp) Astros interests me as well since he is a corner outfielder with decent power numbers and patience at the plate. Another guy the Cubs could bring in is Ryan Chaffee, he pitched well in the minors last year coming out of the bullpen. But he has not pitched above AA yet.

  • ruby2626

    Johan Santana is certainly one of the better known Rule 5 pickups. Whats funny is that he was picked by Florida and then immediately traded to Minnesota. If teams think we are a lock to grab that Boston pitcher at #2 wouldn’t surprise me if someone worked out a deal with Houston and beat us to him.

    Remember Manny Trillo, he was another Rule 5 pickup. Also known as read the label Manny, just kidding on that one. Kind of a first baseman’s nightmare the way he would hold the ball to the last possible second and then fire it to first.

  • marcelj21

    I’m glad commenters here aren’t overblowing the Vitters situation like others are. Like people have said, it isn’t the disaster made out to be. He was a probably a bit rusty and tired from the long lay off and travel. Not to mention not being a native. They were probably looking for any reason to kick him off. It works for me because I’d rather him do what Bjax is doing and work on certain things all offeseason instead of being in competition which makes you do what you know.

  • Dustin S

    To be honest, Vitters confidence was was already about as low as it could be. Then going to winter ball, you can see where the mix of low confidence and high frustration on his part from continued struggling, plus his rep of rubbing people the wrong way sometimes…probably was not a good combo there. He really probably needs some time off to clear his mind and he’s towards the top of the list for a change of scenery.

  • ssckelley

    “Right, and that one didn’t work out. But the Rays’ did. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they succeed. That was his point, I believe.”

    Yes, Kyle keeps bringing up the Cubs failed 2002 top farm system and yet there are examples like the Rays where the exact opposite happened. I am not going to suggest the Cubs will have all their prospects pan out like the Rays did that year but it is also a little extreme to keep using 2002 as an example of what will happen.

    That 2002 list was not as unproductive as Kyle claims. The Cubs came within a game of the World Series with Prior, Zambrano, and Patterson. Juan Cruz is still pitching for the Pirates, Choi was packaged in a deal that got the Cubs DLee, and Bobby Hill helped the Cubs get Kenny Lofton and Ramirez. So really the only 2 prospects that did not pan out in his list are Nic Jackson and David Kelton.

  • Tommy

    I think anyone who is caught using PED’s that are clearly against the rules in baseball should immediately be removed from consideration for the Hall of Fame.

    • tim815

      Some BBHOF voters agree with you.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Most of the guys under discussion were using PEDs before it was against the rules.

    • bbmoney

      I think that the HOF is a museum about the history of baseball. As much as it PED users, spitballers, bat corkers are all a part of that history.

      I personally am tired of the voters going off on holier than now sermons about it. They cheated, yes. Lot’s of players in the era cheated, the era now is hopefully passed, we can’t just ignore the whole time period.

      Players like Jeff Bagwell with no credible PED links are suffering.

      • bbmoney

        dang it… “As much as it sucks, PED…”

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