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This time of year, in large part because of the hopefulness associated with the offseason, can spur a whole lot of anger from a considerable portion of the fan base.

Re-signing Ian Stewart isn’t sexy. Signing Nate Schierholtz isn’t exciting. Folks get frustrated because, while their rational mind accepts that this rebuilding process is going to take “years,” it’s much harder to confront that fact when you’re swept up in what is supposed to be the excitement of the Winter Meetings. We want Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke rumors, not Ryan Ludwick and Francisco Liriano.

But this is the reality of the “process” in the “rebuilding process.”

Most of us accepted that last year when Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod came on board (I seem to recall that most of us were … happy about that). If you’re able, take a moment to remind yourself that nothing that has happened to this point – or hasn’t happened – isn’t exactly what we were told to expect in this rebuilding process. It can be ugly and painful as we go (“you can’t turn an ocean liner on a dime”), but I remain hopeful about the outcome. And I’m certainly going to allow more than one year to pass before I rip into a multi-year rebuilding process.

To that point, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer recently offered some thoughts on the process of rebuilding, and the time for spending the big bucks.

“We’re certainly going to spend all the money we have to spend, there’s no question about that,” Hoyer told Paul Sullivan. “It’s a good philosophical question. We talk about it all the time. We have money to spend. This is kind of the first place to spend it – at the Winter Meetings. People come here to sign free agents. It’s not the last time. If we can’t find wise ways to spend money, we’ll hold it and find wise ways the next 12 months.

“The Dodgers are a really good example of that in some ways. They had their offseason in August [acquiring $260 million worth of contracts in a huge deal with the Red Sox]. We’re not going to go on a binge just because we have money to spend and make sure we have it spent. [T]here are 12 more months in the fiscal year and we can find other times to do it.

“It’s really important to note ultimately we’re investing money. That’s what we’re doing in [acquiring] players. If you can’t find wise investments, hold off, and there are going to be other times to make a wise investment. You try to be patient. It’s not a sexy thing to talk about – being patient. But I’ll feel a lot better about that than I will about making a big splash on someone you don’t feel really convicted about. You’re probably going to regret that move more later than you will if you’re kind of keeping your powder dry and maybe finding out a more prudent way to spend it.”

I couldn’t put it better myself.

This rebuilding process necessarily involves a “process” –  a painful, slow, loss-filled, low-payroll, “flippable asset”-filled process. When Theo and Jed came on board, it was easy to say, “I’m so excited! I know this will take a few years, but they’re going to do it the right way, and it will be worth it in the end!” But it was an entirely different thing to live it for a year, and to be on the precipice of having to do it all over again for another year or two. I understand that cognitive dissonance, and I’ll forgive anyone who overestimated their own fortitude for stomaching suck. The fact that Year One of this process came on the heels of some unrelatedly awful Cubs teams sure doesn’t help.

But this is the process. It’s here, it’s clear, get used to it.

Yes, the Cubs’ payroll (as of Opening Day) has dropped from about $144 million in 2010 to about $134 million in 2011, to about $109 million in 2012, to what will certainly be lower still in 2013. But, considering that the 2010 and 2011 figures were artificially inflated by the back-end of contracts handed out during the 2007/2008/2009 spending binge (on players, you’ll note, who were no longer productive), it’s a bit unfair to use 2010 as your starting point for the payroll decline. You’ve also got to keep in mind that the reduced payroll in the last two years was largely in service of clearing debris from the roster, and not inking long-term, high-dollar deals on a crappy team for which a band-aid or two was not going to help.

I have no issues with that approach, and I believe that the money “saved” has been, and will be, used in other areas of the organization, as has been promised. I doubt I’ll enjoy the resulting train wreck on the field in 2013 all that much – though I’ll find pleasure where I can, hopefully in the development of young talent, and in the breakout of trade assets – and no one’s asking you to, either. There’s nothing inconsistent with being in support of the long-term rebuild, and being bummed that the 2013 Cubs are probably not going to be competitive. That’s just another piece of the process to stomach.

That all said, as the Dodgers have brought into focus, payroll does matter. Better players tend to make more money than worse players, and better teams – on average – tend to have higher payrolls than worse teams. (There are reasons the Yankees have made 17 of the last 18 postseasons – good decision-making is certainly one of them, but their huge, huge, huge financial advantage and commensurately huge, huge, huge payroll is an even bigger one.)

I can accept seeing the Cubs sit out the top of the free agent market this year, and fielding a team with a lower payroll in 2013 than it had in 2012. I have no problem with this because I still believe in the process, and I see the steps being taken in service of that process.

But you know as well as I do: if the process is working, that payroll is going to start creeping back up within a year or two. And the free agent signings will come in a year or two. If those things don’t happen, then – and only then – it will be fair to become suspicious of what’s going on.

Right now, everything is still going according to plan. So choke down the process as best you can.

  • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com/ Myles

    My only problem with the plan so far is that free agency is only going to get more competitive for fewer pieces. If you aren’t going to spend for pieces right now, you’ll might not get the chance in the future. I’m not worried about the money, or lack thereof. I’m worried that this FO is (seemingly – of course it’s difficult to know) ignoring one of the ways the Cubs can improve their roster- and it just so happens to be the only one that just costs money (now that the draft is hardslotted).

    • terencemann

      Why waste a couple years of a free agent contract only to be paying that free agent for declining performance in years when you want to have as many resources available to sign players to help win at their peak?

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

        1) It’s not wasted. There’s a MLB season coming up where the winner gets the World Series trophy. There’s a non-zero chance the Cubs could be that team, and getting good players improves that chance.

        2) Not all free agents decline in performance.

        3) A lot of people seem to have forgotten what MLB contracts look like in an age of rapid deflation, because we haven’t seen one in awhile. You may well find that contract inflation makes for the best values on these players being the end of their deal, not the beginning.

        • ssckelley

          I agree with your first point but I think the Cubs can give us that chance without mortgaging the future or paying obscene amounts of money in player contracts. If the A’s and Rays (love the rhyme?) can find a way to be competitive with their limited means then a big market team should be able to as well. I am fine with them playing moneyball but do not give a way seasons. All you get out of finishing in last place is higher draft selection, which is a crap shoot to begin with.

          • JoeyCollins

            crap shoot? tell that to the nationals.

            • ssckelley

              So if the Cubs finish with the worst record in baseball for 2 years in a row they will get a Steven Strasburg and a Bryce Harper?

              • JoeyCollins

                No but you can build that way. Plus the cubs dont need to draft a Strasburg and Harper to be competitive because once a solid base is there they have more resources than the Nats. Just have to get that base first.

                • ETS

                  Nats also signed werth to a huge deal 2 years before they were contenders.

                  • JoeyCollins

                    True… and i wouldn’t mind us making a signing similar to that if it’s there i just dont see it this year. I do believe the FO is looking for those types of players and open to the idea, its only december after all.

                • terencemann

                  If the Cubs had 2 generational talents ready to play at Wrigley, I’m sure things would be different, too.

            • Dave

              The Harpers and Strausburgs of the wolrld don’t come along that often.
              Washington was very ortunate to be picking first in the back to back years those players were available.

        • JoeyCollins

          non-zero still sounds too close to zero for me to get mad that someone isnt spending millions of dollars on what is sure to be a bad investment. If the goal is to make the playoffs regularly and win the world series being selective now is the best way to go. I’m not saying dont spend money, but it would have to be the perfect guy at the right price to justify right now.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I don’t follow number three.

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

            $15 million for BJ Upton is gonna look pretty tame in five years when $25 million gets you an average starter.

            That phenomenon was widely seen in the 1990s/early 00s when salaries were inflating like crazy. Then we hit a period of stagnation and everyone forgot and got stuck in the “there’s no value at the end of FA contracts” paradigm.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Yeah, it was the deflation part that confused me. If salaries continue to explode upward, then, sure, it’s very conceivable that a 38-year-old Josh Hamilton at $25 million will be a bargain.

              I don’t think that’s particularly likely, though. I also don’t know that he’ll be worth a roster spot at that point, which is another considering in this whole debate – as you well know, you can only field so many starters. When you’re trying to win, you better make sure they’re all good ones.

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

                Sometimes words mean what I want them to mean and not what they mean.

              • Lou

                But is Josh Hamilton a premium type player? Verlander, Hernandez and David Price certainly are and all of their contracts could blow Greinke’s out of the water when they hit the open market. As I see if you’re the Cubs and the WS is the ultimate goal, you’ll need premium SP like these guys, not necessarily advocating that the Cubs should go this route.

            • BC

              Fifteen million may not hurt as much in five years, but it will still hurt, especially when taking into consideration Upton’s likely diminished play (and it’s not like he’s a great player to begin with).

              • MightyBear

                Not to mention having clubhouse attitude.

            • MightyBear

              This is correct but it was worded poorly in #3.

    • MichCubFan

      Don’t forget that they have mostly added players via free agency so far this year. They are not big names, but they fulfill a need.

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

        A couple more in the same mold and I’ll put down either the pitchfork or the torch. Not both just yet.

  • EQ76

    i get all this and agree with the process, but this is still a major market city and an enormously popular team nationwide with a lot of money. they can rebuild the right way and still spend some on the actual big league payroll. I’m not advocating reckless spending, but damn, we have the money to at least get a couple of decent FA’s that could actually fit into our long term plans, if the right fits are out there.

    • willis

      Well said. I wish the FO agreed.

    • BC

      Name these long-term fits.

      I’m not seeing them.

      • Chris

        Greinke and/or Anibal Sanchez come to mind as long-term fits. They’re 29 and 28 respectively — young for free agents, still in their prime, and exactly the type of player the Cubs said they would get in free agency. If the Cubs had signed them to 5 or 6 year deals, they would have helped out for years after the rebuilding phase. It would have brought them a step closer to contention. Add some more free agents next offseason and be contenders in 2014. Every year they put off spending is a year further away from winning.

        The Cubs don’t want to spend prospects to get players. I get that. That’s fine. But that’s no excuse to not spend to get good players in free agency. Not getting a big free agent now means you won’t be able to get them later. When the Cubs finally feel they’re “ready” to win, there could be a dearth of quality free agents in any given offseason. It’s a large risk.

        I will give Theoyer one more year, like Brett said. If they continue like this next offseason, I think they will be in for a huge backlash.

        • EQ76

          agreed… one more year is enough.. if FO is truly waiting for guys like Almora, Baez and Soler to be the backbone of the “competing years” we could be waiting for 5-7 more years until those guys really start producing. is anyone ok with that? surely that’s not the plan.

          • willis

            We’ve had the argument over and over on here about Sanchez. He’ young, effective, and can be a #3 behind Shark and Garza for years to come. Next year is irrelevant, but in 2014, 2015, 2016 etc that guy could be a strong piece of the rotation. And the money is there. I get the full on rebuild effort, but why can’t a late 20s arm be a part of that?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’ve openly supported signing Sanchez, for whatever it’s worth. I get the process, and agree with it … but I also think there are certain free agents that are worth locking down when they’re available, not just when it’s convenient for your team. Sanchez, given the pitching market and the Cubs’ needs, is that kind of player.

              But would he sign with the Cubs?

              • fortyonenorth

                Yeah. Who’s to say Cubs weren’t (aren’t) “in” on Greinke and/or Sanchez? I think Greinke would have been a good fit, but considering the contract the Dodgers gave him, he almost certainly wouldn’t have signed with the Cubs. I don’t mind the $$ he got, but all the player-friendly provisions would have made it much less appealing in our current situation.

              • Chris

                Looking at it from that point of view, the Cubs would be hard-pressed to sign any high-end free agent, given that they currently suck and that Theo is reluctant to give out no trade clauses. It would probably take overpaying a bit.

                • EQ76

                  now we’re in the chicken and the egg zone.. do FA’s not want to sign because we suck or do we suck because high end FA’s don’t want to come here? We may never know.

  • Dane

    After all the talk about the Rays-Royals trade and all of the praise for Friedman, I can only wonder how the course of the last two offseasons would be different if he was in charge in Chicago. Would he have been as patient as Hoyer-Epstein? Would he have pulled the trigger on some trades to replenish the farm system? How would be have handled being in a big market with actual money to spend?

    Just some thoughts that have been on my mind since the trade last night..

    • Boogens

      I can see your point but the Rays have much better major league talent to make those kinds of deals.

      • terencemann

        Not to mention the Rays’ process started with some great draft picks after having a lot of losing seasons (and a few who busted).

        Once a team starts winning with young talent, it’s easy to trade away prospects toward filling in the major league roster because you know you’ve got your third baseman or center fielder of the future on the team already. It’s pretty hard to project what your team is going to look like in 3 seasons when you’re player are still in A ball. The plan the Yankees have committed to over the last 16 years or so has been pretty solid. If they have a minor league player they can trade toward filling in a hole with a young player at the ML level (like acquiring Granderson), they do it. If they have a player they like more than other teams (like Cano) then they hold onto him.

        • terencemann

          ugh *your players*

          • pete

            And, while I would have preferred Friedman, I was under the impression that he was not interested in the Cub job because his pop was a participant in a group looking to buy the Astros. Is that correct?

      • Lou

        But here’s the thing, though, and I believe it’s a fair question–with the Rays it’s all about SP and defense and with the Red Sox, Theo seems to thrive with defensive and an offense that “wears down pitching”. So, in a small market and with Rays being so consistently solid, should it be more about SP? I say this because I’m just not enamored with Lester, Buchholz, and others that Theo developed. Actually, I think Schilling and Beckett have been more valuable to the Red Sox.

  • another JP

    When I see the Dodgers and Royals making the kind of moves Hendry used to make I become more appreciative of the rebuilding process Hoyer & Theo have adopted. The folks without patience for this will be very grateful three years from now.

    • Boogens

      Agreed 100%.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      When I see the Dodgers and Royals making the kind of moves Hendry used to make

      Hendry never traded a prospect of the caliber of Will Myers. Now, it is also true that he never had the opportunity to do so: but in general, Hendry erred on the side of not trading prospects rather than trading them. All you have to do is get a copy of last year’s All Star ballot, and find the guys that Hendry traded. It’s a very short and very underwhelming list.

      As for the Dodgers, only the Yanks have ever done anything like this.

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

        And when Hendry did trade prospects, it generally turned out awesome for the Cubs.

        Unfortunately, he didn’t have much time to make those trades because he was busy just mowing down kittens in the parking lot with his LeCar.

        • Jimmy james

          I thought you were going to say mowing down al you eat buffets, as henrys size grew his work slumped, I think there’s a correlation there of some type

    • terencemann

      I have a feeling, if Hendry were the Royals GM, he’d attribute 2012 toward sophomore slumps and injuries and understand that Myers would be a huge upgrade over Francouer, even if he’s not a star yet in 2013. Also, besides the Garza trade, I can’t remember a trade where Hendry put way too much stock in a name.

      • Cedlandrum

        Juan Pierre

        • Ben

          Probably Hendry’s worst deal. But, looking back now, not nearly as bad as it seemed, when Willis was dealing. Overall, given the info at the time, and the need, it was not a terrible deal. Bad, sure, but not awful.

          • Cedlandrum

            Willis was traded in the Clement-Alphonseca deal. Pierre was for Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto.

            I remember in inside the ivy having a debate with a fan who wouldn’t stop bemoaning the loss of Pinto and I kept saying I think the bigger loss will be Nolasco. Anyway funny how you remember things.

      • EQ76

        Garciappara

        • Ben

          Didn’t give up anything for him. In fact, we got Matt Murton, who was probably the best prospect in the deal.

  • Boogens

    “The fact that Year One of this process came on the heels of some unrelatedly awful Cubs teams sure doesn’t help.”

    Agreed, Brett. Another way of looking at it is that if the preceeding Cubs teams weren’t awful then there wouldn’t have been a need to make a change in leadership. Those teams were awful, as you said, the ownership responded and hired (arguably) the best GM / president / management team available. The next logical step is to allow them to execute their plan. I really do want them to field a better team in 2013 but not at the expense of the long term plan. I am still fully confident in our leadership.

  • Big Daddy

    I still believe in the process, but man it sux to watch. We have to remember though that the farm was barren of pitchers and impact hitters before Theo took over. I still can’t believe our drafts have been that crappy for that long. In Theo we trust.

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

      Why do you have to hate on Baez and Vogelbach like that?

      • Big Daddy

        OK, so we had 2, I repeat 2 impact hitters in low A. I think you are being sarcastic though. So I assume you agree with me.

  • Boots

    I agree the FA will be more competitive, but I think the current strategy incorporates this by building a farm system full of prospects who can eventually be used to gain pieces in trades. By this logic, if the market does indeed shrink, trades will become more frequent and trade chips will become even more valuable, which is why a deep system is important.

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

      Exactly. Prospects are future players not just in themselves but in trade chips

      • JoeyCollins

        Been saying this for a while now. Take the Rangers for example, Olt is going to be an every day player for them one day. Now whether he takes the feild for them, or gets traded for someone who does, having a deep farm system is how you guarantee that happens.

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

      Everybody agrees that a deep system is important. We just disagree that it’s efficient to try to push the margins of improving the system by gutting the MLB roster and budget.

      • Boots

        Right I understand the discussion, and see both sides. In my view, I am willing to be patient simply based on the fact that this strategy hasnt been tried before. I am relatively young (30 ) and in my years as a Cubs fan, I have never even heard the idea of an organizational strategy even discussed. Prior administrations seemed to operate in the short term, season to season based off budgets, and what the Trib. Company was willing to invest. The uptick in free agent signings over the late 2000s to me was simply about trying to increase the value of the team before they sold it, and none of those big name signings ever really proved to be the critical piece for getting us over the hump. I dont think there has ever been an actual longterm strategy before, so until I see it play out, I am willing to wait, although for other (especially older) fans I can completely understand your unwillingness to be patient.

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

          Are you sure you were paying that close attention in your teenage years? Because this is basically just the MacPhail vision with a better GM than Ed Lynch.

          • BC

            Nothing wrong with the MacPhail vision. Execution was the problem.

          • MightyBear

            But a poorer owner in the Tribune Co. That to me is the difference b/t MacPhail/Lynch and Epstein/Hoyer. Jedstein has an owner that wants to win and build a great organization. The Tribune wanted to make money and own the television rights.

            • Ted

              Jedstein has an owner that wants to win and build a great organization.

              Proof? A 229-257 record, a hold on free agent signings, and 90% attendance. We’ve got a regular old Steinbrenner here.

              • terencemann

                When Steinbrenner let his GM build some talent out of the minors, he got results, too.

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

                  Steinbrenner’s GMs never stopped trying to sign expensive, veteran free agents.

                  • Mick

                    Tell that to Hal, George would be turning over in his grave right now. Unless he was buried that way, you know, for his critics.

              • Pat

                Actually, since 2010 it’s even worse than that. 207 – 279.

              • MightyBear

                What’s the Tribune’s record from 1981 to 2009? Check it against Ricketts in 25 years.

              • MightyBear

                Also, where’s the hold on free agents? I don’t recall seeing that from Ricketts?

              • Frank

                Again, your points are valid, factually speaking, but the view is too short term at this point. The plan, whether you agree with it or not, never lent itself to winning immediately–and that’s the criterion you’re using to make a judgement.

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

                  Winning is always the criteria, and that’s always the standard by which plans should be judged. You don’t get to create your own selection criteria.

          • Noah

            I’d also say the problem with the MacPhail version was a little different… MacPhail left money on the table in years when the Cubs were purportedly trying to compete all out. He just said, no thanks, don’t need it. Theo and Jed have more said they thing the timing just isn’t right yet.

          • Boogens

            “Because this is basically just the MacPhail vision with a better GM than Ed Lynch.”

            I don’t agree. For some unknown reason, MacPhail did everything on the cheap when he took over, I think more by choice than direction. His Selection of Ed Lynch as GM was horrendous. There was no genuine organizational direction. The drafting and development of players was abysmal to non-existant. The size and resourcess he afforded to the front office was dinky when compared to other teams. There wasn’t any vision other than being cost-conscious. There are much more differences than similarities.

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

              “I don’t agree. For some unknown reason, MacPhail did everything on the cheap when he took over, I think more by choice than direction.”

              That doesn’t remind you of, say, a current front office that has seen payroll slashed under their watch?

              ” His Selection of Ed Lynch as GM was horrendous.”

              Jed Hoyer hasn’t exactly proven himself to be good.

              “The drafting and development of players was abysmal to non-existant.”

              Well, that’s just not true. Within about half a decade, when the MacPhail-era draftees began to show up, the farm system was considered the best in baseball.

              “The size and resourcess he afforded to the front office was dinky when compared to other teams.”

              That’s not entirely true. MacPhail actually increased the size of the organization quite a bit from where it was when he came in. By the time he left, it was starting to fall behind as other front offices had grown considerably, and by the time the Tribune sold, it was way behind. But I wouldn’t attribute that to MacPhail.

              • Cedlandrum

                You make some good points. People forget that at one point the Cubs were loaded with talent that got hurt, traded or didn’t pan out. They were widely regarded as a top 2-3 system.

              • MightyBear

                The front office was still the smallest in baseball.

                The farm system was the best in baseball for one year and it didn’t have sustained success or perpetuate itself because Hendry was ordered to put a winner on the field now.

                Hoyer hasn’t proven himself to be bad either. It’s too early to tell even with the San Diego years.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  it didn’t have sustained success or perpetuate itself because Hendry was ordered to put a winner on the field now.

                  I’m not sure that was why. Instead, I would blame it on bad selection criteria (ignoring important traits like control and batting eye on one hand, and loving clutch and athleticism on the other), and, it seems, the corporate mentality to spend money on things that you know works rather than untried things.

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

                  Also incorrect.

                  The farm system was considered elite at the very least from 2001-2003, and very good on either end of that.

              • Boogens

                Hey Kyle, I don’t want to go through your response point-by-point so I’ll just keep it at a higher level. My point was that MacPhail was cheap and didn’t set up any kind of a genuine front office that consistently drafted and developed players. You disagreed and one point you made was that “…when the MacPhail-era draftees began to show up, the farm system was considered the best in baseball.”. To say it that way implies that it was a sustained success. What do you base that on? Which players did we draft and develop that demonstrates that we had the best farm system in baseball under MacPhail’s direction?

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

                  The early and mid-2000s pitching. They were insanely good at drafting and/or developing starting pitching in that time period. Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Willis, Garland, Cruz, Nolasco off the top of my head, I’m sure I’m missing quite a few others who had decent MLB careers that came through the Cubs system at that time.

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

    I am of the belief that if Josh Hamilton’s imperfections did not exist, he would be a Cub on Opening Day. They’re just trying to be wise with the cash (I hope) …

    2014, baby

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

      If Josh Hamilton had no flaws, he’d be a Dodger.

      • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com/ Myles

        But if Josh Hamilton was a Dodger, his poor taste in baseball club would be a flaw, and thus they’d have to let him go.

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

        Hmmm, you got me there I guess…

      • King Jeff

        Or he’d be a Yankee, because he would have played himself out of Tampa’s(who would still have him if he hadn’t busted out) price range 5-6 years ago and would have been traded before the Dodgers had this kind of spending prowess.

    • Rich

      If Hamilton had no emotional baggage he would have never left Tampa Bay. Which means he would have been there 2 years sooner. In other words right now Hamilton would be a Yankee instead of Granderson. Just saying.

  • MichiganGoat

    Wonderful right up my friend, this is exactly what everyone was excited when Theo took over. A smart organization that isn’t constantly trying to get quick fix sexy FA that never live up to his contract. In time I believe the Cubs will build into the Yankees, remember before this run they were not “locks” to win the world series and then they got a core of amazing players through their farm system and then opened the bank on the FA market. I can take a few years of miserable losing if it means we get a Jeter, Rivera, and others. Patience is the key word and I know this article will be full of debate, arguments, name-calling, and jokes. I’ll do my best to stay out of the nastiness that may follow, but I like the process I support this ownership and FO and I’m not ready to get medieval with this team.

    • MichiganGoat

      ***write*** – stoopid keyboard

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

        Hooves ain’t good for typing, eh?

  • RoughRiider

    Like many families, our family is second, third, fourth and fifth generation Cub fans. You, hopefully can forgive some of us if we are impatient with the latest of many five year rebuild programs we’ve seen. While I agree with the methods, I am pained that some of us may not be around to see the prize.

    • JoeyCollins

      may not have the years watching that you do but when have the cubs ever tried a 2-3 year rebuild program, not to mention 5?

      • Spriggs

        As I mentioned in a different topic, during 1973 and 1974 the Cubs traded off veterans such as Santo, Williams, Jenkins, Hundley, Beckert, Hickman, Hands and a few others for a younger core that included Madlock, Vic Harris, Morales, Steve Stone, Frailing, Trillo, Steve Swisher and other young players. it was a “5 yr. plan” and caused a public outcry at the time.

        The Dallas Green “Building a new tradition” theme was also another rebuild. Trading guys like Buckner, Dejesus, Krukow, Tidrow… to bring in his own type of players (including of course, Sandburg) – but not always younger and rebuilding the farm system.

        • JoeyCollins

          Ic.. born in 86 guess that one slipped my mind. On a side note i find it funny that a 73′ rebuild is the one you reference when Theo was born in late 73′. I understand you impatience and hope for all of us that this time the rebuild works.

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

            Skepticism is not the same as impatience. The flip side would be accusing anyone who likes the rebuild of naivety.

            • JoeyCollins

              what? He said he was impatient i wasnt accusing anyone of anything. You could accuse supporters of the rebuild as naive but i prefer to look at it as willing to accept that maybe the FO knows more than you and me. And since im going to be a cubs fan no matter what im not gonna try and spend my day mad that nobody will listen to why my plan is better. Optimism about a situation you cant change isn’t naivety its acceptance.

              • RoughRiider

                I wasn’t refering to myself specifically as being impatient. I was speaking in general terms of Cub fans who have a lot more age on them than someone born in the 80s. Having been a fan for better than half a century and I think I’ve been pretty patient. I was pointing out that there are a lot of Cub fans that may be 6 feet under never to see the Cubs play in a World Series, let alone win it, before the rebuild is complete. To me that’s just as heartbreaking as guys like Banks, Santo, Williams, Sandberg… never played in the World Series with the Cubs.

                • JoeyCollins

                  yeah i cant imagine 50+ years of this. My grandfather never got to see the Cubs win it all, and was a die hard fan, that still upsets me. He is the reason i love the Cubs. I hope that this FO is the one to finally get us there and i have faith that they will. I dont blame anyone for being impatient and my original response was not meant to be condescending. I was acctually curious when the last time a full rebuild was attempted.

        • terencemann

          I’d argue you can keep slamming your head into the wall ala the 2010 Cubs (or the 1992 Yankees, for example) or you can try something different.

  • P hertz

    I love watching the process. I’ve been waiting for it for 30 years. I’m happy that competent stewards are manning the helm for a change. I can’t abide by irrational spending on aged free agents who are horribly flawed just because “we have money”. A fool and his money are soon parted. I suggest that people who aren’t fans of the long-haul build up switch their allegiance to the Dodgers. Come back in a couple of years when you see what happens there.

    • hardtop

      what if the outcome for the dodgers is sustained success, like the yankees? we just heard (read) how many times the team with the highest payroll in baseball has missed the playoffs (in case you missed it, very few). There are many ways to skin a cat, and the dodgers way is actually more proven than the alternative.
      BTW im not advocating the dodgers approach as the approach the Cubs should be taking, im just saying that just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it wont work.

      • terencemann

        I don’t mind the Dodgers’ approach I just don’t think it’s the right move for the Cubs as the Dodgers were a borderline playoff-talent team before the Boston trade.

      • King Jeff

        Without the ability to overspend to exploit the international free agents and the amateur draft, it’s going to be more difficult to have sustained success with that approach. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Dodgers approach this as we move forward. We are already seeing other big-market teams cutting payroll, while the Dodgers are moving in the opposite direction.

  • another JP

    I can’t imagine the outcry from some people when we sign guys like Liriano or Daisuke in the next couple months. That should be interesting.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s going to be brutal. And I’m going to link to this post.

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

      Well, there are the final three paragraphs, after all.

  • Danny

    As soon as I read this article, I looked up the 2014 free agents list. Not a whole lot to look forward too. Some soon to be aging, high priced pitching. And Cano who it sounds like, will want to make Arod’s contract look good. So is it going to be 2015 before we start to become the team we all want it to be?

    • bbmoney

      I think there are q number of interesting names, the question is how many of them will make it to free agency and how many will be extended.

      • Brian

        And who’s available through trade when some of the Cubs up and comers are tradeable?

  • Southern Cub

    Brett, that was well written and very well said. The Cubs will ultimately be winners because of this process.

  • OlderStyle

    Theo didn’t sell it as rebuilding. I distinctly remember his phrasing it “building”. What we are witnessing, in fact, is rebuilding. Long, slow and painful rebuilding. This is not “parallel fronts” either, it’s tanking seasons to build the farm. I realized they were tanking last year when LaHair was given the 1B job in offseason and I realized it this year when they signed Schierholtz to be starting RF. They seem to believe that high level free agent acquisitions are the icing on a cake made of home-growns. I’m very displeased with this reality since this team is not the Royals, Pirates or A’s. I was and am still glad Theo and his band are in charge but sometimes I wonder if we weren’t a little too blinded by Theo’s “pedigree”.

    • hardtop

      ^ summarized my thoughts and feelings nicely.

      • pete

        Agreed. And to add to that “building” statement, Theo saying “every opportunity to win is sacred” has rubbed me the wrong way. He just never should have said that, because it clearly connoted the wrong message at that time if he knew that we were going to suck for (at least) the next 2 years. And he had to know that.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Was he really supposed to say, “I don’t care about winning in 2012 or 2013″?

          To me, he’s been pretty clear that the plan is to field a team that has a plausible chance of surprising (heck, he’s used the phrase “we might surprise” a dozen times this and last year – that’s a pretty clear statement that he doesn’t expect the team to be good), because you never want to completely throw away a season. But if things are crappy – as expected – by late June, it’s time to try and get more long-term assets by sacrificing the rest of the season. I feel like he’s been pretty clear about that.

          • pete

            Assuming we receive really good prospects for whomever in late June (and I actually have high long-term hopes for Schierholtz – which may be part of my problem, as I thought Fontenot would produce when made a starter), will we be close to contending in 2014? Or even 2015?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Depends on next offseason (heck, the rest of this offseason), but my realistic hopes are for a team in 2014 that, breaking camp, looks like it could plausibly surprise and be a playoff contender. Not a behemoth or anything, but a nice, solid, .500-ish team. It’ll be young, so there’s always the possibility of upside surprise.

              By contrast, I look at the 2013 team and I see no plausible way it surprises its way into a playoff contender. I know nobody likes to hear that.

              • pete

                I have been a cockeyed optimist about the Cubs since I was talking smack to Cardinal fan third grade classmates in 1969 (to my obvious eventual chagrine) but sometime during last season, I became jaundiced. I cannot see a 2014 surprise. I have no idea from where the starting pitching necessary to contend will come in 2014. I also realize the absolute dearth of top grade starting pitching in the farm system is not on the present FO but at some point in time, they take ownership of the organization and its deficiencies.

            • brickhouse

              Why would you be closer to competing in 2014 if you trade for prospects ? When would you expect those prospects to help ? in 2015 ? 2016 ?

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      There was also something in those early speeches about deferring to the long-term when looking at building the team.

      • OlderStyle

        Does that mean as long as Theo puts in a deniability clause into any of his state of the organization speeches he shouldn’t be held accountable?
        He doesn’t get off that easy from me.

        • Lou

          Olderstyle, I’ve thought this as well because the alternative was Hendry and his god-for-saken contracts. So, if the Cubs come up short, Theo use the well-worn adage “Well, we tried and it was never done this way before…so” The problem is the comparison automatically with the last regime, when it should be digging back in the history of the Cubs and comparing Epstein with MacPhail or Dallas Green.

    • Kyle N

      The Cubs made the decision to go away from signing Pujols or Fielder to mega-deals. You can debate whether they should have tried to sign them for a dumptruck full of money, if it even was a possibility.

      That decision having been made, I just don’t understand how people continue to feel that giving Bryan LaHair the first base job last year was a clear sign of any sort of “tanking.”

      It was a clear case of “we aren’t a very good team, so we can take some calculated risks and see if we can find a diamond-in-the-rough.” What were the FA alternatives at 1B?

      Carlos Pena, who was A) in his mid-30s and clearly declining, B) wanted a multi-year deal, and C) wasn’t going to offer the Cubs much more than 2-3 WAR in an absolute best case scenario. What did he do in Tampa last year? Nothing. Except maybe cost them a playoff spot with his mediocre play.

      You had BABIP-boosted Casey Kotchman and a host of other fringe players. Tell me again how they would have been better than LaHair, the freakish power-numbers PCL MVP, even with his question marks as an older player?

      So how did it turn out? LaHair proved to be a platoon-type player against righties with good power and patience. He struck out a ton and couldn’t hit lefties at all. I know that I was (and still am) higher on LaHair than many, his value in the league is more than a multitude of other players who still have MLB jobs, but he didn’t fit into Chicago’s plans and wasn’t any agreement on trade partners for him. He ended up being Carlos Pena at 1/10th the price and was definitely NOT the reason the Cubs lost 100 games.

      There were other things we, as a community, have argued were poor decisions. It is absolutely asinine to consider LaHair’s playing time as one of them.

      • OlderStyle

        Asinine is a pretty strong description to defend LaHair.
        I don’t want to debate the merits of LaHair, he’s on his way to Japan so I’ll let that speak for itself.
        I’m simply saying that when he was given the job in the offseason under the corresponding circumstances, it signalled to me that they did not intend to compete at all. I accepted that at the time. I’m really disappointed that 2013 will be another year and I can’t get very optimistic for 2014. If that means ’15 is really the year we can hope to see a team loaded and ready to run, then that just sucks. In the meantime, I can tell my kids and colleagues wait til the year after the next two.

        • Kyle N

          “I’m simply saying that when he was given the job in the offseason under the corresponding circumstances, it signalled to me that they did not intend to compete at all.”

          That *one* move made you accept 2012 as a rebuild? Even after Theo acquired Rizzo? Here is where I disagree with this concept. You could have argued trading for Ian Stewart and expecting a lot from him, considering his injury history, the “Coors effect”, and his overall lackluster performance in MLB. You can definitely argue playing Joe Mather anywhere based on his history and numbers. You could have argued about the bullpen being ill-equipped or against having Chris Volstad pitch as long as he did. I can (and the board has, at length) go on and on. I just find it hard to believe, signing Pujols or Fielder withstanding, that LaHair specifically caused people to be so down on the 2012 season. When you factor in cost, free agent talent available at the time, and player potential, LaHair offered you the cummulative best option. And with Rizzo in the fold, and eventually mashing in AAA, you had your next option waiting to take over.

          “I don’t want to debate the merits of LaHair, he’s on his way to Japan so I’ll let that speak for itself.”

          True. He is on his way to Japan. But, I’ll stand by my comments that he had merits, is much more worthy of a MLB job than a multitude of others, and that whether you like him or not, he decided to get paid in Japan instead of deal with the uncertainty of another season not knowing if he would be bouncing around between AAA and MLB.

          • OlderStyle

            “That *one* move made you accept 2012 as a rebuild?”
            Yes, my powers of intuition are strong.
            “Even after Theo acquired Rizzo?”
            It was before Rizzo. As for the rest, it was a cumulative effect, LaHair was a tipping point.
            “But, I’ll stand by my comments that he had merits, is much more worthy of a MLB job than a multitude of others, and that whether you like him or not, he decided to get paid in Japan instead of deal with the uncertainty of another season not knowing if he would be bouncing around between AAA and MLB.”
            And I’ll remain in my stance that I never believed in the LaHair experiment to begin with. He was a nice guy and a nice story but he’s not an MLB player anymore.

  • ichabod

    we’ve been stomaching the rebuild all of our cub fandom lives. now the difference is that somebody is actually rebuilding. new, smart, and passionate ownership makes a big difference. rebuilding a team is one thing, but rebuilding an old out of date, way too small entire organization is another monster altogether. these guys have done a great job so far. my loyalty to the cubs is profound and unwavering. and now we have something weve never had before and that is real hope from the real kind of upper management. the kind that wins

  • MightyBear

    Everybody seems to think free agency is the way to go. I disagree. Free agency is to add a piece or two to an already strong club that can put them over the top ie Beltre and Cliff Lee to the Rangers a few years ago. If we signed Greinke and Hamilton, we would be better but probably not contenders.

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

      There is no one “way to go.” Good baseball players are the way to go, by all means available to you.

      • BC

        No disagreement there. Where I come out is why this organization should be bidding on a weak free agent class comprised of flawed players unlikely to change the short-term future in a meaningful way; and who, by the time this team’s farm system will be producing quality players, will almost certainly be in decline.

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

          Because “weak” is a relative term, because it won’t hurt anything, and it’s only unlikely to change the short-term future in a meaningful way if the front office isn’t very good at their job.

          The farm system is already producing quality players. It produced some last year, it will produce some this year, and the year after, and the year after. There’s no magic “now we’re producing quality players” date.

          • BC

            If “weak” is a relative term, so is “quality.” We seem to have different definitions of both. I’m not seeing a great deal of quality being produced by the Cubs system as of yet. Certainly not enough to justify spending heavy on this crop of free agents.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        I don’t think anyone is debating you on this. The debate is how do you acquire those good players. Both free agency and prospect routes have their benefits and drawbacks.

    • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com/ Myles

      Free agency is a way to add a piece or two to a club to be able to go to free agency to add a piece or two to an already strong club.

      Even if you think the Cubs can’t get there this year (and I count myself among that number), they can still improve their team through free agency and get to a point where 2014 looks very reasonable.

      If we add nothing through free agency, we’re going to be sitting here rationalizing why we shouldn’t sign Granderson or Cabrera in 2013 “because free agency is to add a piece or two to an already strong club,” which we won’t be.

      • BC

        Eh, this isn’t about making things look reasonable. So you add a couple of 30+ yr old free agents this year and next. Great, terrific, we’re back to where we were a few years ago: a bloated payroll and maybe a three year window (with no guarantee of success because you built the core of the contending team with players all at or in the midst of the decline phase of their careers).

        The Cubs are attempting to build as sustainable a model of success as you can in this sport, and as we have learned the last six years (and as the Dodgers are about to learn), building primarily through free agency is not it.

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

          1) A few years ago, the Cubs had a really good farm system.

          2) If we end up with bloated contracts and no farm system from that set of events, it’s because our front office did a terrible job of drafting and development, which is what they are supposed to be good at.

          • BC

            1) A few years ago would be when exactly? I’m curious to know when we had this really good farm system. If it was only a few years ago, I doubt we’d be in the state we are today.

            2) I don’t disagree with that at all. But I believe you are going about this backwards given the current state of the club.

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

              There is no backwards and forwards. There are only baseball players, baseball games and the best at the former winning the most of the latter. These Rube Goldbergian plans where you wait until just the right moment to do certain things are too clever by more than half.

              Before the Garza trade in early 2011, Baseball America was planning on ranking the Cubs’ system No. 8 in the pre-season rankings.

              • BC

                I’m not advocating waiting until just the right moment, but waiting until a better moment (and I would hope) better players to spend on, not to mention a better foundation. What you’re advocating is spending money just to spend money because hey, it just might work.

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

                  Well, yes. Because not spending money is much less likely to work, so I’d prefer the path that just might work.

                  The time to spend really was last year. The major FA players were mostly sitting on the sidelines, the Cubs weren’t near as far away as people thought, and putting in a few medium-term FA deals would have had them set to expire just when that first wave of drafted prospects was coming up, so it wouldn’t have even hurt them then if the deals did turn sour at the end.

                  Having missed that window, I don’t see many better ones coming up anytime soon.

                  • BC

                    I’m not saying the Cubs shouldn’t spend money…just not these guys…just not yet.

                    And I agree about last year. I was for building a bridge team that could win in the short term while the farm system got its act together. It would have required the Cubs landing Darvish and one of Pujols/Fielder (and retaining Ramirez), but they didn’t do it. That ship sailed, and now here we are.

                    Where I don’t agree is that missing out on Fielder and Pujols last year means we should turn around and go long on Upton. Or even Hamilton. Given where the roster is now and the quality of those two players (and the rest of the class for that matter, outside of perhaps Greinke, who I wouldn’t have minded signing), I just don’t see the point.

              • Noah

                For whatever reason, I’d say BA is a bit bullish on the Cubs’ farm system generally, though.

              • Jimmy james

                Man that shows how much ranking mean because there wasn’t a lot of high impact talent…….or I suppose it could be an indictment of the systems below the cubs that year

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

                  At the time, guys like Cashner, Jackson and Hak Ju Lee were supposed to be high impact talents.

                  Just wait, in a couple of years we’ll look at this offseason’s lists and wonder why we were so excited about some of them.

          • MightyBear

            I don’t think the Cubs ever had a really good farm system.

            • Cedlandrum

              You would be wrong.

              • MightyBear

                Yeah, when were they good? And what’s your definition of good?

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

                  It’s been less than 24 months since a Baseball America writer said the magazine had them at No. 8 overall.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  The Cubs have had some very talent rich farm systems, but they have rarely been good at developing that talent.

                  That is changing as well. Finally.

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

                    We should probably wait until some of that talent hits the MLB field before we confidently proclaim that it’s changed.

                    The last half-decade of Boston prospects hasn’t exactly lived up to its hype.

                    • terencemann

                      I would love it if the Cubs’ player development system produced major league talent as well as the Red Sox system has:

                      Rizzo
                      Bucholtz
                      Lowrie
                      Reddick
                      etc

                      Maybe they haven’t all reached their ceiling but the “more is better” mantra has worked well for their system.

                • Cedlandrum

                  After the 2010 season there was much debate about where the Cubs would have been ranked if they hadn’t called up Castro and Cashner early. This was before the Garza trade. The general consensus was number 2 behind the Royals. Even without Castro and Cashner they were ranked 8th but quickly fell to 18th or whatever because they traded Archer and Lee.

                  Check this out. For three straight years we were top 3

            • RoughRiider

              When Dallas Green was the GM the Cubs had a fairly steady stream of young good prospects. After he left for “philosophical differences” the farm system went downhill.
              From 1983 -1989 the Cubs farm system produced: Joe Carter, Mel Hall, Greg Maddux, Palmeiro, Moyer, Dunston, Mark Grace, Joe Girardi, Jerome Walton (Rookie of the Year) & Dwight Smith. I’m sure I’ve missed some.

              • MightyBear

                Even Green’s system wasn’t that good compared to others like the Dodgers or the Cardinals. A some of those were due to trades, not drafting.

                • brickhouse

                  The Cubs had very good farm teams in the early 2000′s and even reached #1 in the rankings 1 year.

                  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                    Thanks, you beat me to this. In the early 2000′s it wasn’t really close. People thought we had a farm that would compete for titles. They thought we had quite a few high major talents in our system. We can have all of the talent in the world, but if there isn’t a plan for development, of those players, you will fail. The plan we were using was outdated. We hear good things about our player development. In a few years, we will see. The proof will be on the field. That is the course they are going, so he is putting the pressure on player development. That is where his confidence is. He believes in his guys.

        • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com/ Myles

          There is no large-market team that has no poor contracts, and if there was any team that could weather them, it’d be us. I’d actually quite like a 3-year window of contention, thanks, but it’s also an error to say that the core of our contending team is all aging veterans. I want to SUPPLEMENT our drafting and development with free agents, and we can only do that if we sign them when they are available.

          • BC

            If the team sucks and you’re buying up free agents you’re not supplementing, you’re building. The time to break the bank regardless of the state of the big league roster is if a player like Albert Pujols hits free agency at 27.

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

              The whole concept of “building” vs. “supplement” and the “team sucks” is silly. Baseball has a ton of parity and rosters turn over every season. There’s no reason you can’t use your financial advantages to take advantage of that roster turnover in a way that makes the team not suck.

  • cubsin

    My only concern with the way the plan has been executed so far is that I’d be more comfortable if the Cubs had two or three starting pitchers locked up for several years. Most of the promising position players will arrive in 2014 or 2015, but few if any of our pitching prospects will be ready that soon. Contract extensions for Garza and Samardjiza would make me feel a bit more comfortable that we’d be able to compete in those years, as would a three-year deal for a mid-level FA like Jackson.

  • pfk

    I’m totally on board with the process. I’m 65 and for the first time in my life I feel the organization is on the right path. I’m really enjoying watching them work. Its exciting to see it being done properly from the ground up. Built to last baby! Perennial contenders – you’ll see. Stay tuned those of you are frustrated.

    • jt

      Imagine a Greinke, Swisher and Grilli set of 2013 off season signs.
      Greinke 30 starts, Shark 30 starts, Garza 21 starts, (Wood, Baker, Feldman) each with 27 starts.
      Add Swisher to the middle of the order with Rizzo, Castro and Soriano.
      Add Grilli to Marmol, Fujikawa ,Camp and Russell
      Probably not a WS ring there but they probably play with no shame.

      • Brian

        Imagine all you want, Greinke never coming to the Cubs, and probably not Grilli. It takes two to tango and it sure sounds like these guys wanted to tango with someone else.

        • jt

          Replace Grienke with Dempster or Sanchez. Replace Grilli with any one of the several available set-up guys, Add any bat that is capable of an 0.800 OPS.
          The point is that just 3 quality players would make this team respectable.

          • Noah

            Ah yes, and that’s what I’m really aiming for out of the baseball team I’m rooting for: respectable mediocrity.

            I also love this thought that .800 plus OPS guys are just growing on trees.

  • JoyceDaddy

    It just sucks to have to go through this process when we’ve had a lousy team for the past 100+ seasons. That being said, with the exception of Greinke I don’t like any of the other “big” names available. They don’t really fit our plans. I’d rather see a team with Rizzo and Castro and farm players (Baez, Almora, Soler, etc) that have star potential than with 30+ year old FA’s looking to get paid. If we’re serious about being in contention year in and out, this God awful process must be a part of it.

  • Cubsleeram

    If people recall last year, our biggest splash at this point in the offseason was Dejesus (not overwhelming by any means). Rizzo wasn’t acquired until after the new year. I’m pretty sure the FO isn’t done adding pieces for the ’13 season. I’m not claiming that we’ll be competitive, but I am suggesting that this FO will make a significant move or two by spring training that will benefit us greatly in the future.

  • Me

    The fact is you need to look at several factors when spending money on free agency and not to spend money just to make fans happy. There are so many factors and here are just a few I can think of-

    1. Is there a need
    2. Prospect blocking
    3. Price of player compared to value of said player
    4. Player fit
    5. Will the team be competing when the player is at the peak or upside of his career
    6. Allocating money to one or many free agents
    7. Current and future trade markets
    8. Progression of salaried players from one year to the next
    9. Current and future free agency classes
    10. Overall direction of the team.

    All these things will be factors plus a lot more when deciding on free agency. As the positives of some of these things increase the negatives begin to diminsh. Which is why if Bourn or Hamilton fall to the Cubs for a good value they would sign them but will not sign them at the current marekt price.

    One thing is for certain next season looks promising for the Cubs on the free agent market if certain players decide to test those waters.

    Robinson Cano – Premium position for glove and bat.
    Jacoby Ellsbury- 5 tool player and staple for the up and coming new outfeild
    Phil Hughes- Another solid pitcher who could break out
    Josh Johnson- An ace on the market
    Jon Lester – Solid lefty switching from tough AL to NL and younger
    Tim Lincecum- Former ace and has lost some but still very good.

    All those players fit the mold and the Cubs could be looking for big name free agents next year in hope of contending a year or two after that. Honestly I could see the Cubs going after every person on the list above next year.

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

      Cano will be out of our price range if he even hits the market, Elsburry has one good and healthy season in his whole career, and the rest is pretty weak for the best pitchers in a class.

      And that’s *before* a full year of contract extensions thins it out.

      • ETS

        What’s “our” price range?

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

          It’ll be a long time before we sign the biggest contract of any given offseason.

          • ETS

            Cano is young enough, I wouldn’t be completely stunned if it happened, but I agree; it would be fairly unexpected.

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

              Cano will be 31 when he hits free agency.

              • ETS

                Doh! I was thinking he was a couple years younger than that.

          • Leroy

            and when we do that, everyone will complain about how we severely overspent on whoever it is.

  • Don

    So Theo and Jed’s plan is to jump big into the free agent market in two years and sign Justin Verlander for 40 million per year or whatever Boros can get him? I am perfectly fine with Theo and Jed’s plan of building the farm system up and staying competitve year after year after year like the Cardinals or Yankees do so well.

  • fortyonenorth

    I think there’s a certain amount of ego involved on Theo’s part. He doesn’t want to build a contender by spending Dodger money. He wants to do it by building it from the ground up – ’twill be of his own creation. I can’t blame him entirely. My kid could build a championship team with $220 million. This is his bid for baseball immortality.

    • mudge

      how much ego, percentage-wise?

  • EdgewoodDirk

    I think it’s such an interesting and unique look into psychology, this rebuild process.

    Because, for me, the elephant in the room, psychologically, is always the World Series. I think in a lot of minds, this whole process isn’t about building the team the right way and filling up the minors with talent again – it’s about winning the Series ASAP. Which, like, duh – of course it is. That’s what it’s about for every team, all the time. But there’s so much more that goes along with that goal as a Cubs fan.

    I think that, last year, when the new leaders took over was an honest-to-God actual event to be proud of as a Cubs fan (as opposed to, maybe, constantly having to defend our faith in the team); something to point to as different and as a concrete step towards actually making ‘it’ happen. We all felt great.

    Now, we clearly remember that great feeling of ‘Ok, this might actually be it; the first step towards victory!’, but we can’t remember why it made us feel so hopeful as we stare down the barrel of another couple losing seasons.

    Cognitive dissonance, just like Brett said.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      I honestly believe our WS winning team will come out of nowhere, a team that won’t be expected to do much but maybe contend for the WC and there may even be a piece or two sold off at the deadline.

      • Lou

        There’s a LOT of implied luck in that statement…too much for my liking.

      • Spriggs

        Totally agree. I think that’s the way it will happen. And the team will be very young and brash. The silly Chicago press won’t bother them.

  • Stu

    What does it matter if the Cubs have a player or 2 who is considered overpaid at some point in their contract? It seems that the current FO is trying to thread the needle a little too fine.

    No one sane who is critical of the current approach says to go all Dodger-like and spend like drunken sailors. But you can have the best training facilities, the best stats guys in the world, etc. for your money, and that guarantees you nothing. The percentage of your farm that turns into good starters is very small. That is why you have to occasionally “overspend ” for a need when it comes available.

    For example, Bourne would be a great asset to put in CF for the next 5 years because he would instantly solidify the defense up the middle which is a core value of the FO. Who else would even come close to that in the near future? BJax, please.

    • baseballet

      I agree with Stu. The severity of the FO’s frugality makes me doubt that the Cubs intend to spend on the level of the Red Sox once the initial stages of the rebuilding are complete.
      They should sign two good free agents (say one pitcher, one outfielder) this season so that we can watch some decent baseball during the rebuilding; that shouldn’t prevent the Cubs from building towards their One Shining Moment.

  • Patrick G

    I am still happy with the way things are going. The minor league system has been rebuilt very well since last year, have the 2nd overall pick this year and most likely a lot draft picks will be pitching. Although they are not there yet, they remind me of the Royals. A lot of young good players coming through the system with not much pitching, but thats where the saving money comes handy for a big market team.

  • Edwin

    I’m curious to see how the Cubs will go about rebuilding their starting pitching. They have almost 0 pitching prospects in the minors right now, and even the ones that can be considered “good” are so young and so far away that it could be 3-4 years till they’re ready, if they even make it.

    I don’t see how the Cubs can become competitive in 2-3 seasons without spending a ton on pitching, but looking ahead I don’t see who will be available for them to sign.

    • willis

      I completely agree with the pitching statement. Which is why, again, I don’t get why they are not going after premium pitching talent that’s out there. (or was) It’s not going to come through the organization for awhile, and this team will never compete with sub par pitching.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      They’re going to *have* to be heavy in the free agent pitching market (whatever it looks like) no later than next offseason. I truly believe this, and, candidly, I wish they would get a jump by locking up Sanchez.

      • Cedlandrum

        Right, if we are collecting assets, especially in pitching it would be wise to start now. Especially if you are looking at 2014 or 15 making any kind of run. The arms we have drafted and acquired aren’t all that close.

      • baldtaxguy

        I see no reason why the Cubs should not land Sanchez. They should be in early and seriously.

  • Roland Perrelli

    Brett love the site and your insight. But I have to disagree with you that Theo said in his initial presser that all seasons are sacred. Tell me who 2012 or 2013 is or was being treated sacred unless he means sacred as a abbrieviation to sacrifice. Because as a lifelong cubs of 43 yrs I cannot believe we are treating this season as anything less than a 90 loss season and a way to get a high draft pick.

    The free agent pool over the next couple of yrs is weak and when you have an opportunity to get a big talent you go out and get it. If we are competing in 2014 then were are we going to get impact lead off bat, a big bat for right and 3rd base and a couple of impact pitchers. Not in free agency and not out of our farm system most of our depth is 2015/16 earliest especially in pitching.

    If we are treating next season and the season after that as a sacred trust between the cubs and their fans where is the impact going to come from? Why are we not in on Hamilton? Why did we not sign Ramirez back last year when their was no other impact in free agency and or in our farm.

    If this was not about the major league team winning than fine having an improved farm system is fun. I have never been a follower until the last couple of years and I really enjoy reading Lukes stuff and I am more into then ever. But this is about the Chicago Cubs how about putting a team on the field that can compete because next yrs free agent class is worse.

    Unfortunetly we have been sacrificed and I was never the believer that Ricketts is trying to purposely cut payroll to make more profits but I am starting to go over to that side of the fence.

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