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I reckon most folks at the Winter Meetings are resting comfortably at this early hour, but there were a few overnight bits from the Meetings on which to update you as the day gets rolling …

  • So, we know that Yunel Escobar was dealt to the Rays late last night, and the Cubs had interest earlier in Escobar. Well, it looks like there was one huge reason why the Cubs didn’t end up landing the infielder, and it had nothing to do with eye black. According to Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest, Escobar recently told the Marlins that he was not willing to play third base, which is where he was slated to start for the Fish. That is what spurred the Marlins to shop him aggressively yesterday to try and get a deal done. If he wasn’t willing to play third base, then it’s pretty easy to see why the Cubs bowed out.
  • Jed Hoyer offered a foot in the door and a foot out the door when asked about Carlos Marmol being the Cubs’ closer in 2013. “If Carlos is on the team, he will be our closer, and I anticipate Carlos being here,” Hoyer said, per CSN. “Anyone can be traded at any time. But as we put together our 2013 team, we’re certainly expecting him to be our closer.” Seems like when you hear a GM give his manager a vote of confidence just before axing him. In this instance, I think Hoyer is just trying to preserve trade leverage as best as he possibly can – if you go out telling the world that you expect to trade Marmol, you’re not going to be able to squeeze much value out of that trade.
  • Jed also emphasized that the Cubs still have interest in non-tendered third baseman, Ian Stewart: “We’ve been really clear with him. He knows how we feel about him. He knows we want to bring him back.”
  • Ken Rosenthal discusses a four-team trade that is percolating (presumably the same one Buster Olney referenced last night) between the Indians, Diamondbacks, Rays, and Rangers (the gist being that the Rangers want Justin Upton, the Diamondbacks want Asdrubal Cabrera, the Indians want young talent, and the Rays want to trade James Shields for, like, something). It’s very difficult to pull something like this off, because there are so many teams and so many parts involved (all it takes is one team saying, “well, we just want to wait a few more days to see what happens with this free agent,” and the deal falls apart because the other teams can’t wait that long. I kind of hope something big happens, though, even if it doesn’t involve the Cubs – big deals are fun and interesting.
  • Reliever Jason Grilli, in whom the Cubs have interest, is heading to Nashville today. He wouldn’t be doing that, presumably, unless he was going to be meeting with some teams, and maybe even finalizing a deal. Something to keep an eye on.
  • Phil Rogers appears to be taking up the banner for the folks who believe the Cubs intentionally want to lose as many games as possible in 2013, and who want to see as many empty seats at Wrigley Field next year as possible (to spur action, I guess – even though it would be short-term, ineffective action, and the lost revenue would hurt the organization long-term, but whatever). He includes this bizarre question and answer, which seems so surprising that I have to believe he’s omitted some important context:

When a reporter asked Hoyer if he would be disappointed with another 100-loss season, he tiptoed out to the edge of the ledge that he and Epstein live on while sacrificing short-term benefits for the best chance to win in future seasons.

“To answer that question differently,” Hoyer began, before pausing. “Because I certainly don’t want to answer that question directly.”

  • If that’s how that question and answer played out, I mean, isn’t Hoyer essentially saying he doesn’t want to answer whether another 100-loss season would be a disappointment? If so, let me assist: the answer is an obvious and resounding, “of course.” From there, you can tap dance and say that wins and losses aren’t the only way to evaluate the progress of a young team and the health of the organization (which is all true). And this is coming from someone who could totally see the Cubs losing 100 again next year, and wouldn’t be brandishing any pitchforks if they did.
  • Brian Peters

    Phil Rogers is a crackhead!

    • beerhelps

      That’s our Chicago baseball writers …. but goddamn Phil Rogers is an idiot!!!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Not that I’m defending him, but I think it’s worth noting that … I’m not entirely certain he’s wrong on the plans for 2013.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The gentleman doth protest too too little, me thinks. That is, if that were the goal, then he would have given a quick and overlong answer about how this was not the case.

          However, Jed might very well be looking at this team and thinking that it’s a good candidate for 100 loses. If he says that this will be a disappointment, then people will complain that he should be firing Sveum if it happens.

          Of course, I write as someone who thought that the 2011 Cubs were years away from contending, and who still thinks that this team needs another couple of seasons work from the FO end. “Quick fixes” are going to make this a 0.475 team, not a contender or even a 0.500 team.

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            The 2011 team was 200 runs away from contention and that was balanced, fairly evenly, 100 from both sides of the equation.

          • Kyle

            It’s really hard to lose 100 games. The Cubs made no effort to be good last year, and they still needed injuries, negative variance and a firesale to get to 101.

            I doubt they lose 100 again. But the fact that it’s even a possibility is astounding.

            • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

              the 2012 team was on pace to have a better record than the 2011 team before the sell-off.

              • Kyle

                I’ve got them at 43-59 after July 31, on pace for 68 wins, three fewer than 2011.

                • Cubbie Blues

                  You really can’t extrapolate out like that. The season isn’t linear. I don’t know how the strength of schedules compare 1st half to 2nd half, but due to scheduling you can’t take a straight line extrapolation of the record.

                  • Kyle

                    You can when you are rebutting a direct assertion about such an extrapolation.

                • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                  ok, allow me to explain the extrapolation of my polarization or the nuetralization.

                  On July 31, 2012, the Cubs had a better record than they did on July 31, 2011.

                  • Kyle

                    All the games count.

                    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

                      Well then we certainly have to stop looking at home-road splits…I mean – all the games count, right?

                      Oh, wait, on (or thereabouts) the Cubs traded away 40% of their rotation. Kind of a big deal, kind of like how different stadiums have different hit profiles.

                      Oh and the 2011 Cubs went into September – ya know the month that you are always told to not evaluate talent – with the Varsity squad trying to make the blowout loss not quite so bad. In 2012 the Cubs went into – well this season sucks donkey balls so let’s see some different guys in here.

      • Cubbie Blues

        That’s our Chicago baseball writers …. but damn Phil Rogers is an idiot!!!

        There. Fixed that for you.

        • beerhelps

          Ya for being on patrol there word police. BTW, not saying the Cubs won’t lose 100 games again, but the whole “let’s all not go to the games, that will show ‘em” is completely idiotic.

          • Cubbie Blues

            You call it word police, I call it being reverent. That was the most offensive thing I have ever seen written on this site. It’s also the only time I have seen it here. Most people have much more respect than that.

            • Craig

              Thank you. I was offened by the language used as well

            • beerhelps

              well arguing on the internet is pointless, so i will just say whatever, but not sorry.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Now that is a great example of boorish behavior.

                • Craig

                  Didn’t expect you to be sorry. Just be aware that using God’sname in vain is offensive to a lot of people

              • RoughRiider

                And I will pray for your soul.

  • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

    A broken clock is right twice a day.

  • ETS

    Phil Rodgers = Kyle???

    • Kyle

      I’ve stood for a lot of insults on this web site, but that’s over the line.

      • ETS

        I kid, I kid…

    • rhino70

      That’s not fair…. to Kyle!

    • kranzman54

      wow low blow to Kyle

  • Stinky Pete

    As a Cubs fan, Of course I want them to win. But if they don’t, I refuse to let it ruin my day, month or year. If they lose 100 again, oh well. That sucks. I have some real problems to deal with.

    • TonyP

      It doesn’t ruin my day; but the day is a little brighter on the White Flag days.

  • kranzman54

    “This is not the time, of course. You know that by the way you are not seeing the Cubs pursue the likes of Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino…”
    Haha, clearly Rogers does not cover baseball. Apparentelly we aren’t trying because we aren’t pursuing Victorino at 3 years 39 Million. Who in the world puts Bourn and Victorino in the same league…besides Boston of course.

  • cheryl

    By Friday there may be an answer to Rogers’ scenario. Meanwhile isn’t it time to make an estimate on how many games the cubs will win next year? With no offense to speak of and a somewhat improved pitching rotation and relief corps (We don’t know if there will be a trade of Garza efore Spring.) I’ll say 68 games.

    • Kyle

      If we kept the team intact all season as is and made an effort to put the best players on the field, I’d say 73ish. But with the firesale and lacksadaisical approach to roster management we saw last year repeating itself, 68 sounds about right.

    • kranzman54

      Improved pitching? I mean we have some nice flyers and potential trade bait, but last year we had Demp, Volstad, healthier** Garza, Maholm (Travis Wood who is now somewhere in our 3 to 5 range didn’t crack the rotation)…Now we have less healthy Garza, Baker, and Feldman. I think I would prefer the former.
      Our bullpen is better for sure with Fujikawa

      • Hee Seop Chode

        I’d have a hard time saying the bullpen is better “for sure”, and the rotation has been downgraded. Its logical to think Rizzo, Castro, and Barney will have better offensive years, but I don’t see where the home runs will come from to be decent.

        65.

        • kranzman54

          How could the bullpen be worse than last year? We have all the same key pieces plus Fujikawa. I’m not saying we are in the top half of the league, but it has to be better.

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            You have to figure that Camp will not be a “Fireman Award” candidate (seriously, why did this award go away). Bill James is (again) predicting a bad year from Russell and Marmol may very well forget how to pitch well.

            • kranzman54

              I mean all of that’s fair, but we were AWFUL in the pen last year. Besides Camp, anyone that could have possibly been bad was. So to say Camp won’t be as good is probably true, but all the other guys won’t be that bad…plu the Fuji

              • TheRiot2

                Minus ——— the Marmol.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Rizzo and Castro should improve offensively, but don’t expect Barney to do so.

          As for the bullpen, those are so spastic from one year to the next that they are very tough to predict. Teams that had good bullpens in 2012 have a very good chance of having bad bullpens in 2013. Part of that is starting pitching: teams with good starting pitching reduce the chance for bad bullpens to affect things (and for bullpens to be bad by overpitching relievers and forcing managers to put in bad relievers). So, if a good starting rotation from 2012 has a bad 2013, then this will have negative effect on the 2013 bullpen.

          On occasion, you do get teams like the 2012 Nats that got a lot of good innings from their bullpen: but that often comes back to haunt them the next year. (The Pirates had it happen within the season: they got great bullpen pitching through July last year and they all fell off of the table in August.)

    • kranzman54

      That said I think we will make some sort of moves (after all Campana will not be in our OF start of the year) so I still think we can’t predict win total.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      You cannot predict how any one team will do in a vacuum, and there are some big question marks on other NL Central teams. How the Brewers, Reds and even Pirates in particular resolve those question marks is going to heavily affect the caliber of the opposition in over one quarter of the Cubs’ schedule. (Of course, the loss of the Astros is going to have the opposite effect: as bad as the Cubs were, they were vastly better than the hapless ‘stros.)

      That said, the Cubs probably will not be hugely better than they were last year barring some other GM having major brain cramps and giving the Cubs good pieces for nothing. I would not bet on that.

      • terencem

        I just want to remind people that the Cubs trailed the ‘stros for a good part of last season. I think almost everything that could have gone wrong did out of the gate for the Cubs (with the exception of LaHair’s start). I think they’re building toward the same kind of major league team they had to start last season (with Fujikawa replacing Wood) so there’s reason to believe that they could end up with the better side of the coin flip of fate to start this season.

  • cdncubfan

    sometimes i can’t decide which reporter irritates me more. rogers or sullivan. they both whine like that group of simpleton fans and are happy to look at the team in black/white context rather than the shades of grey that a well educated observer should.

    i’m sure they’re good guys…but in terms of actual solid reporting i find them to be terrible. in terms of honest, realistic views on the cubs, i can’t think of any reporters or entities other than kap and BN that are as truthful and grounded.

    why can’t everybody just come to the realization that in order to make an omelet, eggs must break?

  • Barry

    Jedstein is constantly and correctly lamenting the fact the Cubs don’t have enough assets. While I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment, I can’t understand why they aren’t willing to spend more $$ to bring in quality assets at the major league level through free agency. Let’s start acting like a big market team. This great city we live in deserves better. I don’t want to go through another 100 loss season. Just as you expect the fans to fork over the $$ it takes to go to a game, I expect the FO to open their wallets a lot more than they have thus far. WTF!

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Hear, Hear!

      • TheRiot2

        I for one plan on getting my baseball fix by going to as many Kaneland Cubs games as I can.You might say too get a look at Soler and Almora plus Vogelbach. I view that as getting more bang for the buck.

  • fortyonenorth

    Considering the available context (and I can’t get beyond the Trib’s paywall) “…Because I certainly don’t want to answer that question directly.” might be interpreted to mean, “…because I won’t dignify that question with an answer.”

  • Holden

    Any news on potential Rule 5 picks? If we are looking at taking bullpen arms do we need to spend big on Grilli? I like the big power lefties, especially the one from Atlanta.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Rule 5 post coming later today, courtesy of Luke. It’s good.

      • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

        Good!

      • Stinky Pete

        Excited for that!!

  • dbeider

    IF the Cubs lose 100 games again in 2013, and IF you/we/they/etc do not expect the team to contend in 2013, why does it matter. The most direct results to that type of season would be no apprehension at the trade deadline or any other time to trade high for these younger and “long-term” pieces, and one additional year of a very high draft pick without having to worry about losing that 1st round potentially quick impact player due to free agent signings next offseason.

    Will any true Cubs fans be disappointed if the team loses 100 games but by the end of the year there is 1-2 other “core” players and/or including a starting pitcher identified who have shown they can play at the big league level as needed ie Rizzo & Shark. I won’t be. Frankly I was more interested watching games last year with Rizzo at 1st, Barney chasing his streak and Castro looking more like a true developing shortstop.

    • Kyle

      1) They should expect to compete

      2) Losing 100 games again means the MLB roster is so devoid of talent that you’ve made it harder on yourself to win in 2014, 2015, etc. (not impossible, but harder).

      3) Yes, of course true Cubs fans should be disappointed with that scenario. If we’re painting accusations of “true” fandom or not on people, I’d say there’s some people who are more Kane County fans than Chicago Cubs fans at this point.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I’d be surprised if the Cubs have as many negative WAR guys on the roster in 2013 as they did in 2012. They still have some to get replace, but that situation already looks better than it did.

        That factor alone could put the Cubs a fair bit about 100 loses.

        • terencem

          I still say they made the right choice by giving Soto another shot (he was supposed to be good in even years, right?) and you couldn’t have predicted that Byrd would completely fall apart. Even DeJesus in center is probably a better idea than what they had last year after Byrd flopped and corner outfielders are easier to come by than up the middle guys.

          If they do give Yuni a shot at third this season, I will be as upset as everybody else should be, though.

  • Myles

    For some reason I think the Cubs win like 77 games this year.

    • terencem

      My goal for them is 72 wins. If you have a 72 win team, 77 is not out of reach. Unfortunately, by that math, 67 is in that range, too.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Your math is pretty good! A 0.444 team will win between 67 and 76 games ~50% of the time.

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    Rogers was interviewed on the Score this morning, and he did make one valid point (!) regarding fans’ expectations of the Winter Meetings: the Cubs are looking for players who are in their early 20’s, and the Winter Meetings are where teams come looking for players in their early 30’s.

    These Meetings are really about free agents, not trades, and a team short on trade assets and intent on rebuilding through the farm system is simply not going to make lots of headlines this week.

    Look for Theo and Jed to make their moves after the top tier FA’s are off the market, and teams will be forced to consider players like Soriano and Marmol as options.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      the Cubs are looking for players who are in their early 20′s, and the Winter Meetings are where teams come looking for players in their early 30′s.

      This is like saying that the point of a store is to collect items, not money. To get items, you give money: and to get 30 year olds, you give 20 year olds.

  • cubchymyst

    As long as the pitching isn’t as bad the second half of the next season as it was this past I hope the cubs will avoid the 100 loss mark. If Vizciano and Carbera work out as starters then they can come up the second half and probably peform better than Volstad and Berkman did.

    • willis

      I wouldn’t count on it.

  • Itzscott

    Phil Rodgers never got over Hendry being fired. He always supported Hendry’s failures, but never gives credit for Epstein/Hoyer trying to undo all the damage Jimbo created.

    • terencem

      What Epstien/Hoyer inherited a minor league system that was so poor that (even a year and a half after Hendry was fired) its closest-to-MLB-level prospects are 2 players who failed miserably last season and a relief pitcher (Zych).

      • Kyle

        Well, there was that LeMahieu fella who had a pretty decent season in the bigs this year.

        • whiteflag

          At Coors field.

        • TWC

          A pretty decent half season in which he was helped along by a healthy BABIP.

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            and half his at bats in September and his 86 OPS+…

            • Kyle

              And yet so much better than players we sent out.

              • Noah

                But most of LeMahieu’s value came from his positional value (2B as opposed to 3B) and strong defensive metrics in a small sample size, which is extremely problematic and unreliable.

                However, LeMahieu was not better last year overall than Barney (BR had Barney as a 4.6 WAR player, albeit again largely on defensive metrics, although on a significantly larger sample size). At 3B, LeMahieu for the Cubs the best you can accurately say is LeMahieu MAY have been a replacement level player. Which is better than what the Cubs trotted out there after Stewart went down, but not exactly the sort of thing I’d trot out as a argumentative victory.

                • Kyle

                  I was mostly referring to Joe Mather in the utility role.

  • Walter Sobchak

    How bout a 1 year flyer on Jason Bay?????

  • Stinky Pete

    He has landed somewhere. Seattle? Maybe?

    • Stinky Pete

      Oh wait. Nevermind. I swear I heard Bay landed somewhere…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Initially reported as a deal, and then quickly backtracked to a “close to/talking to” kind of situation.

        (See, it doesn’t just happen to the Cubs!)

        • cubchymyst

          I was shocked to see that the Phillies trade for the Astros reliever fell threw as well.

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            What? Dang, our front office screws up so bad it shuts down half the MLB.

  • ronman189

    I am disappointed that they would want Stewart back. He was one of the more frustrating players to me last season when he managed to stay healthy.

    • http://www.chicagobearscentral.com Brent

      Who would you like to play 3B then?

    • CubFan Paul

      when he managed to stay healthy

      he was never healthy

  • Walter Sobchak

    MLB rumors says that Bay is talking to Indians, Mariners and the cubs are in discussion……

  • mister_rob

    Phil has a point. I used to go to about 8-10 games a year at wrigley. And I took one weekend roadtrip a year to watch them play a series on the road

    Last year I went to one game, because it was my sons birthday. It costs a couple hundred no matter what to bring a family. I dont see the value in driving, sitting in traffic, shelling out a few hundred, all to see yuniesky betancourt playing 3b and scott feldman pitching

    So if my son wants to go to a game, we’ll go to one. Otherwise I wont even bother

  • Jason

    I am so sick of people putting all the blame on Jim Hendry. He had his hand forced on many occasions, to make the cubs look like a nice buy when they were up for sale. He did not want Soriano , but PR team thought they needed a headliner . He did not want Pinella, he wanted Bruce Bochy , but again tribune got in his way and wanted a ” big name ” manager in Pinella. He was not allowed to spend on the draft because tribune/Zell would not benefit from money spent there. He was handcuffed. Everyone in baseball knows what a valueable asset he is. That is why the Yankees did not hesitate to sign him.

    • TWC

      I am so sick of people putting all the blame on Jim Hendry.

      I blame Hendry for that.

    • WGNstatic

      In general, I agree. Jim Hendry to many became the boogie man, blamed for poor posteason performances by other wise good players (Lilly, Dempster, Soriano, Ramirez… I’m looking at you…).

      That said, I find it nearly impossible to accurately assess Hendry. I don’t disagree that his hands were tied and he was pushed to maximize the MLB product to the detriment of the minors. However, if you follow that line of argument… Then he shouldn’t have gone on the free agent spending spree, thus, the Cubs don’t contend in 07, 08, and 09. If you strip out those successes, then you are left with a GM who inherited a nearly ready team in 03, watched it fall apart, then…

      Basically, we Hendry defenders can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t both defend his failure to build the farm system AND at the same time commend him for getting the Cubs so close in 07-09.

    • DarthHater

      I don’t always drink koolaid. But when I do, I prefer to blame Jim Hendry.
      Stay resentful, my friends.

  • NCMoss

    You know, I really have to wonder what the hell the marlins are thinking. Shouldn’t you find out if a player won’t play the position you want him to play before you trade for him?

  • supergeek24

    So are we tanking this season as well?

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