Setting aside the reported Chang-Yong Lim signing, which really isn’t about 2013, the Chicago Cubs have been pretty active in trying to upgrade their bullpen for next season. After re-signing Shawn Camp, the Cubs brought in Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, and then tried to sign ace Pirates setup man Jason Grilli, who ultimately returned to the Pirates.

But the Cubs are clearly set on adding another quality late-inning arm, as Jayson Stark reports they are one of many teams bidding on righty Mike Adams. Others in the mix include the Rangers, the Nationals, the Blue Jays, the Phillies, and the Brewers. Officials with those teams tell Stark that they tentatively expect Adams to make a decision in the next few days.

Adams, 34, was an absurdly dominant setup man for the Padres and Rangers from 2008 to 2011, sporting a 1.71 ERA and 0.902 WHIP over 242.2 innings during that stretch, coupled with a 9.9 K/9 and a 2.4 BB/9. Yeah, he was crazy good. He regressed substantially in 2012, with the K-rate falling, the BB-rate rising, and the ERA and WHIP hitting 3.27 and 1.395, respectively. Those aren’t terrible figures, though, and he’ll probably be seeking a two or three-year deal on his prior merits. He may not get it, for reasons addressed below.

Like Grilli before him, Adams would be a slightly odd fit on a team not expected to compete in 2013. The Cubs could be hoping to surprise to the upside in 2013, and a rock-solid bullpen could certainly help. Or, they could be looking for the flexibility to deal Carlos Marmol without hurting the back end of the pen too badly. And, of course, there is the ever-present specter of “flippable assets.” If Adams, for example, takes over the closer’s role from a traded Marmol, and dominates in the first half of 2013, who’s to say he couldn’t net a nice prospect in trade? Some may be sick of hearing that kind of thing, but it’s the reality right now.

But, there’s another piece of the Adams story that requires discussion: yes, he’s coming off of surgery. Late in September, Adams was shut down by the Rangers with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – pain in the neck and shoulders that can affect a pitcher’s ability to properly grip the ball. He had surgery in early October, which he says was a big success. It sounds like he thinks he’ll be fine for Spring Training, but, obviously, it’s a consideration.

So maybe that’s the real reason for the pursuit here – the Cubs are trying to get a reclamation type on the cheap, another theme we’ve heard a lot about this offseason. Fine by me.

  • itzscott

    I think Theo & Jeb painted themselves in a corner thinking Cub fans would be as patient with the rebuilding process as they may have thought. They can’t help from seeing significantly declining season ticket sales and how that relates to overall attendance and ancillary revenues.

    It looks to me like they’re basically throwing shit against the wall just to see if anything sticks. The signings and pickups they’ve been doing reek of desperation and in no way fit in with a team that’s rebuilding. A true rebuild entails acquiring and playing prospects, not signing 35+ year old Japanese/Korean relievers, injured players and other team’s castoffs.

    I support the overall rebuild plan and am willing to be as patient as reasonable, but when I see the Cubs focus on “bridge” players and not viable prospects that have future upsides I kind of scratch my head and wonder who’s putting the heat on Theo & Jeb to make these stupid moves.

    • Brett

      “A true rebuild entails acquiring and playing prospects, not signing 35+ year old Japanese/Korean relievers, injured players and other team’s castoffs.”

      Well that’s just flatly untrue. The first thing can come from the second.

      • itzscott

        >> The first thing can come from the second.<<

        Hi Brett….

        That's just flatly a stretch and nothing more than a desperate leap of faith.

        • TWC

          Right. Becuase never in the history of baseball has a short-term player (“other team’s castoffs”) been able to be dealt for long-term assets (“acquiring prospects”). Never.

        • dw8

          Playing prospects that aren’t ready for MLB completely defeats the purpose of the rebuild. I’m pretty sure we saw that in 2012 with Vitters and Jackson. An organization shoots itself in the foot when it rushes prospects.

          I’m pretty sure this exemplifies both due process by the front office and the complete lack of talent on this team when the previous front office left.

          • terencem

            I’ve posted this like 10 times already, but it seems like Hoyer is trying to avoid committing to years more-so than committing to money. That being said, building a strong bullpen is the easiest way to improve a team with 1 year or 1 year +option commitments.

      • Morken

        Brett –

        When were you hired as the Cubs’ director of public relations?

        • Brett

          Thanks for the cleverly-veiled insult!

          • Cubbie Blues

            It wasn’t that clever.

            • Brett

              Sarcasm meter.

              • TWC

                Blew up years ago.

          • Morken

            You’re welcome.

            And thank you for patronizing Cubs fans who are concerned with the state of the organization.

            • Brett

              Glad you enjoyed! Thanks for reading, and come on back real soon!

              • Morken

                I will, because I enjoy many aspects of your site.

                Your “company-man” routine, and patronization of fans who express frustration, isn’t apart of what I enjoy.

                • Brett

                  What you call patronizing, I call “having a different opinion from you.” (Now *that’s* patronizing.)

                  Sorry you see it that way, but I do appreciate the kind words. As has always been the case around here, you’re free to express any and all frustration – be it about the Cubs, me, the site, or whatever. I actually think the disagreements – when cordial – make this a better place.

                  And let me say: I find the “company man” criticism, which I receive a lot, to be a pretty lazy, insulting dig. During the Hendry era, I was anything but a “company man.” I call it as I see it, and I’ve been on board with the rebuild plan – as it has thus far been executed – from day one. Does that make me a “company man,” or does it make me a guy who simply likes a plan that maybe you don’t like? If you disagree with my actual thoughts, go ahead and offer an opinion. But to take cheap shots reduces your entire position to childish stone-throwing.

                  • Morken

                    I have no problem with your opinion, Brett. Opposing opinions are what make sites like this so enjoyable. It’s the way in which you patronize Cubs fans by suggesting how they productively disperse their anger:

                    “Let’s work a little exercise in clarifying anger”


                    And to that awful patronization:

                    Cubs fans are simply using the signing of Chang-Yong Lim as an extension of their frustration. It’s not the fact that the Cubs tried to sell their investment in a 36 year-old reliever who’s never pitched in the MLB, and who won’t be readily available until 2014 because he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery(I wish I was joking); it’s that as a fan base, a season after losing 101 games, Cubs fans are being sold via management that their team will be competitive with Ian Stewart as their starting 3B, Nate Schierholtz as their starting RF, and a starting rotation that boasts Scott Baker and Scott Fieldman.

                    Of course, the Cubs will make many more moves over this offseason. Some of which Cubs fans will get excited about. But please, for at least a few minutes, get off of your soap box and stop telling a cubs fans how they should feel.

                    • Brett

                      I didn’t tell anyone how they should feel about anything. I asked that those who are angry be honest about what is really making them angry – it’s literally the exact thing you’re saying in this comment.

                      The only soap box I’m standing on is the one you’re trying to slide under my feet.

                    • Melrosepad

                      Right now the Cubs are going for better, not competitive (necessarily). Baker is an upgrade over Berken. Feldman is an upgrade over Volstad. Fujikawa pushes Camp down the depth chart one spot where he should be and is an upgrade over most of the arms we had in the pen. Schierholtz is an upgrade or wash with Reed.

                      If we can improve, even slightly, while upgrading our minors, then we should be in a better spot for actually competing soon.

              • ottoCub

                Brett – I have an objective suggestion for a year-end article: List the 40-man roster on the day Theo Epstein was hired, and compare it to the 40-man roster on Dec 31, 2012, and do a similar comparison for the generally-agreed-on top 20 organizational prospects list. This would give you the opportunity to point out the positive improvements the Cubs are implementing throughout the system, and how having greater organizational strength and depth is putting the FO in a very advantageous position in terms of building for the future. Hopefully this will also help educate and develop an understanding amongst the growing population of feisty cynical posters.

      • Jptopdog

        My thoughts exactly!

    • Patrick G

      How can they play “prospects” if none of them are ready? Why put shit prospects on the field when they can put “shit” 35 year old relievers on the field that have proven track records? Then possibly flip for better, more MLB ready prospects.

    • Landon

      I hear Anthony Rizzo is pretty good. But he’s a bridge player? Paul Maholm netted us a very good prospect in vizcaino. At this point last year, zambrano, marshall, cashner were still cubs. Between last years draft, and rizzo trade and then seeing what Baker, Feldman, Dejesus, Soriano, Clevenger, Marmol, and possibly Garza bring in trades + this years draft, I am liking what possibilities are. Maybe even get in on the Cuban prospects Diaz and Alvarez.

      After the deadline this year, this team will be immensely improved as far as going into 2014 winter in attack mode.

      • BluBlud

        Theo has made a number of pretty good moves. The Rizzo trade was just outright robbery and the Maholm signing and trade was pretty smoove(if Vizcaino works out).

        “Baker, Feldman, Dejesus, Soriano, Clevenger, Marmol, and possibly Garza”

        I don’t believe anyone on this list will net us any great prospects except Garza and Soriano. What I would like to see is this FO trade what we have in surplus(role playing prospects) for a sure fire prospect. Many teams would be willing to make this kind of trade. As depth at numerous positions is just as valuable as a top prospect for a team competing for a championship(Texas). I still believe we have a suprise trade coming soon, and in my gut, I feel like Olt will be a Cub by ST and worked in similar to Rizzo last year.

        • bbmoney

          “Many teams would be willing to make this kind of trade. ”

          I’d be shocked if anyone would trade you a legit, top prospect for several prospects who project to be role players. Every system has organizational depth prospects.

        • Patrick G

          I sure hope your right about Olt. I could see a possible prospect for prospect trade but not sure who we would give. I wonder if Olt’s value dropped from this time ago last year from struggling at the MLB level. Rizzos value dropped after a bad first stint in the majors so hopefully something could be worked out without losing a major piece

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I wonder if Olt’s value dropped from this time ago last year from struggling at the MLB level.

            There are very few GMs left who are so ignorant of sample size effects that they’d worry about Olt’s 2012 MLB performance (i.e., all of 40 PAs). An unfortunate side effect of the Rangers late season collapse is that they didn’t get to play Olt as much as they initially thought that they would: they wound up having to focus on making the playoffs.

            • Patrick G

              I didn’t realize it was that little of ABs. I was thinking of how a trade like Rizzos could of happened here, but Rizzo had way more ABs. Good point

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Even in Rizzo’s case, some people noted that he had a horrible BABiP. (He also had a dreadful K rate, and that was a true source of possible concern: but it was only 153 PAs). I think that SD got too excited about Alonso, and began to value Rizzo less by comparison. (I’m betting that they’ll regret that in another couple of years!)

                On a side note, I do wonder if the Rizzo deal evolved out of the Cubs trying to get Headley from the Pads. That actually would explain a couple of things from last winter!

                • Noah

                  I also think the Rizzo trade happened because Rizzo is a pull hitter, and being a left handed pull power hitter in Petco doesn’t cut it unless you have 70-80 power. Rizzo is probably more in the 60-65 range, which is still very good and in Wrigley could be played up a lot.

                  I think the Padres in fact viewed Alonso as a guy who would hit less home runs, but had more gap power to the opposite field than Rizzo, and as such just fit that team better.

                  With that said, yes, Rizzo for Cashner was a giant bet on Cashner being able to stay healthy as a starting pitcher. And that just appears to be an unlikely result.

        • brickhouse

          Don’t count on a good prospect for Soriano with having to pay at least 26 million and even the a may be a B level prospect

      • itzscott

        Pretty much my point…. Rizzo was a great trade. There should be more like that by using the remaining vets (Marmol, DeJesus, Soriano, Garza in the spring, maybe even Russell) to make those types of deals instead of praying an injured player returns to his previous form to be able to trade him for something later.

        It seems folly to me to be stocking a roster with injured players, castoffs and 34+ year old Asians in the HOPES one of them will be attractive to another team at the trade deadline.

        I have utmost faith in this regime, but when I see them making the moves they are I just shake my head knowing that they’re just spinning their wheels.

    • Dave H

      To use your “shit sticking” analogy. Previous regimes would close their eyes and throw. Theo and Jed are at least keeping their eyes open and picking the best shit throw against the wall.

      • Dave H

        This reply is to the first one not the here. sorry

    • João Lucas

      Right. What Theo and Jeb should be doing is signing all those amazing prospects available on the free agent market.

    • Kevin B

      I disagree. They are not throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. They are making calculated moves, some no risk moves that are a numbers game but its not ‘crap”. These are moves they should make and it does not stop them from making better moves. They tried on Sanchez. They were in on Adams but Adams choosing the Cubs would be a long shot unless the Cubs overpaid and they were not doing that.

      I do not understand why some people say the Cubs can not do these small deals unless they do big ones first. That makes no sense (and it was not what was said on the post I am replying to).

  • Cedlandrum

    I don’t know how anyone could give him a 2-3 year deal based on that surgery.

    • Brett

      You’re right – I should have said “seeking” not get. Fixed it.

      • Cedlandrum

        You know whats funny is that I didn’t really question the wording I just assumed you were right because the market can be screwy.

      • Wingit

        Is that the same surgery Chris Carpenter had?

        • Brett

          Yes (well, same syndrome, but it could have been a slightly different surgery) – very wide range in recovery times (I read as short as four weeks or as long as six months!).

  • kmr1453

    Would love the Cubs to make this signing for any or all the reason above.

  • Dustin

    Hopefully Feldman helps and recruits him

  • Curt

    so are the cubs scouring the hospitals for arms. Adams would be nice if it was for the right price.

  • BluBlud

    So if we sign Adams without trading Marmol, what would our pen look like.

    Feldman/Baker(This is if the Cubs sign Sanchez (Please Please) or another pitcher higher then these 2 and dont trade Garza)

    This may be our strongest spot on the entire team

    • Believe in 2015

      Don’t forget about Rosario and Rondon

      • BluBlud

        Oh yeah, forgot about Rondon, who I’m really excited about, but I don’t really expect Rosario to be on the MLB roster. AAA filler type and called up if needed. Or do we have to keep him on the 25?

        • cjdubbya

          Rondon has to be on the 25, Rosario just the 40. So if he can somehow get through waivers (for the umpteenth time this offseason), it’s an interesting piece that will dominate at Iowa.

    • Kevin B

      BINGO BluBlud. FO is building a nice solid bullpen which was our biggest weakness last year in my opinion. It may not be sexy but its the right way to do it!

      • Kyle

        The bullpen isn’t solid yet. I thought it might get there earlier in the offseason, but we’ve whiffed on a lot of guys who would have strengthened it and even DFA’d a guy that would have helped it.

        It’s better than last year’s if we assume that Marmol’s post DL numbers were legit and that Fujikawa will succeed in the majors, but it’s still paper-thin in the back and capable of collapsing at a moment’s notice through injury (or retirement last season). Russell as the only lefty is atrocious.

  • Rob

    Being patient sucks – but a lot of smart people are being paid a ton of money to try and execute a plan – and everyone knew it would take more than a year.

    Trying to take the emotion out of it, a term Brett has used before applies with many of these signings – “Lottery Tickets”. Whether it is a side-armer from Korea, a closer from Japan or a 34-year old Mike Adams coming off a down year and surgery – they are like lottery tickets. You buy more than one hoping that increases your odds that at least one of them gives you something. Throw in Schierholtz, Feldman, etc. – Out of 6 or 7 lottery ticket signings, maybe 3 or 4 work out really well – and you get a modestly entertaining product the first half of the season, then flip the “winning” lottery tickets (like Maholm last year) for some decent prospects in June/July. Then, like last year (Rizzo), you can backfill those roster spots with some of the younger guys now that it is June/July and their arb clocks are pushed back and still get kids some experience.

    It won’t work every single time, obviously, but they need to be creative to get prospects in the system now that they cannot just throw money around in the draft and in international free agency. As a fan it sucks, but at least it’s a plan. You kind of have to decide to have faith in this regime and give them a few years, or don’t – but the alternative was always spend lavishly on older free agents, and that didn’t bring any rings and people still complain about Soriano’s contract, etc…..

    • kmr1453

      Nicely said, Rob

    • Troy

      Exactly! So true

    • baldtaxguy

      Agree with this. Mid-season last year (or so), I recall someone (Kyle?) specifically targeting the FO’s lack of “attention” (i.e. “effort”) to the bullpen last year, something I agree with. This off-season’s bullpen “attention” is something I can support as a fan. I also think this upgrade in bullpen experience should give Dale more opportunities for situational managing where we can better assess his decisions vs. those of last year.

      I’d like the Sanchez lottery ticket as well.

  • Dante Hicks

    After I quickly shake off my “another injured guy?” auto response (and the more lasting a Korean injured guy? Which matters not since he had success in Japan–the Koreans the Cubs have the system haven’t been stars yet), I move on to saying, why not Adams?

    Worth a shot. The fewer ruinous rookies and in-season wire claims the better.

    If he is prioritizing winning, the Cubs have no chance. Same with Shawn Marcum. If you want to win, they will go immediately to a contender. Who knows. Again, worth a try.

    I still want another hitter and another SP or two.

    I’m learning to accept and it should be ok. No double rainbows and unicorns yet.

    • Dante Hicks

      I want to throw something else out there. Please don’t send me under the troll bridge as I think it is a valid question. It was recently yelled about on Chicago sports radio. I’m just asking.

      As fans, should the fan refer to their team (here the Cubs): as “we” when discussing moves, wins, losses, signings?

      Fans don’t own the team, although the Cubs own our hearts (and often our justified anger). But, are fans “we” in the world where sports is a business and players move around more than is ideal?

      I don’t mean to slam anyone who says “we.” I love the passion. I do it from time to time. This argument got me thinking.

      THere is an ancillary argument. If, as I am, do season ticket holders get to say “we” since our money funds a good part of the budget? It is the people employed by the Ricketts and players and staff who are we. Are the rich ticket holders?

      Or the Bleacher bums because of that passion?

      If it is a no to season ticket holders, what about the Packers who are owned by the fans buying shares…are they are “we?” (As a Bears fan, it is only an example).

      If you had college sports teams/high school teams, it is usually “we.”

      Again, just curious. If you say, “we” keep doing it. I love this community. The radio had it in my head and I’m trying not to say “we” only because it keeps the disappointment further at bay.

    • Kevin B

      What is your point? You can say “we” are not who cares. I am a Cubs Season ticketholder, so what? If I was not its still “my team”, its called being a fan. You don’t have to own it – give me a break. If you are a REAL fan and have passion for the team (which is the definition of FAN as in FANATIC) then its your team. The team you support and put your emotion and time into, and money if you go to any games or buy a TV package. It does not matter if you are a season ticket holder, the Cubs have 115,000 person waiting list. So are those fans not able to say its “their team?” or if they can not afford to buy season tickets or leave far away can they not say its their team?

      The Cubs are my team and its “we” for me. Dante for you I would just refer to it as the Cubs.

  • Spriggs

    Adams is one of those guys who the few times I saw him pitch, he got knocked around and looked sort of lucky when he got hitters out. Then I see his stats and say, “WHAT, him?!?” What is supposed to be his best pitch, anyone know?

  • cubsin

    I agree that all of the waiver claims, minor trades and minor FA signings are worthwhile, but I would like to see a bigger FA , trade or contract extension (Garza) once in a while as well.

  • John78154

    Might not be tonight, tomorrow or the next day..but everything’s gonna be ok

    • baseballet

      Sounds like a reggae song. I’ll roll with your good vibes.

  • mak

    I have a few thoughts on the FO’s focus on bullpen arms:

    1) Even the best bullpen arms only earn 2-3 year deals (see point 2). Therefore, signings carry no long-term risk for top of the market players.
    2) I’m guessing Theo/Jed are noticing a market inefficiency with relievers — to me, its an overcorrection from some atrocious reliever contracts in the last 5 years.
    3) As an added bonus, shoring up your bullpen also gives you a sort-of “lottery ticket” next season. In order for the Cubs to compete next year, they need to pretty much follow the Orioles’ blueprint in 2012: win a lot of close games. It’s a long shot, obviously.

    Having said that, look at all the arms the Cubs have acquired this offseason (mostly on waivers). Looks like they are going to try to have the pen be the strength of this team (lord knows it won’t be hitting or starting pitching).

    • baseballet

      Great points mak!

  • Chad

    Good relievers are pretty valuable at the trade deadline. If one of these guys can put up a really good year, even better if it is as a closer when Marmol is traded (it’s going to happen). This seems like a cheap way to acquire talent that will be a hot commodity at the deadline. I forsee someone being much more interested in a reliever and an ok Scott Baker at the deadline. Just my thoughts. Could turn into some good young prospects.

  • Eric

    Brett, I’m on bored the rebuild. Part of my frustration was just pure offseason boredom. But now the Cubs seem more active and it feels as though things are really gonna heat up. I’m sensing some more signings and trades and a real overhaul.

  • Hugo

    Brett i never write but your site is a must daily for me for a while now. Congrats and good job.

    I would like to see a bretts’s current depth chart, and BN top 20 Cubs minors. And maybe since the cubs is rebuilding the possible Depth chart of 2015.

    I love all this moves, we are not going to win, and if any of these guys have a great season and nets something in a trade, big help.

    But I’m not looking at 2014, our older good core players, Rizzo and Castro are only around 23, so they will be in their prime in about 5 years or more. All the other guys a lot of them are very very far of what would be their best years.

    I’m tinking 2016 to become good, and WS contenders 2018 or more. I think that is the timeline if your are going to make the most of the system.

  • farmerjon

    Brett, I love the site, genuinely do. It’s the first thing I check in the morning after putting the coffee on (yes, you leap frogged the weather some time ago). I also am completely on board with the rebuild and would rather the FO takes the time to do things right rather than over. This FO seems very diligent in there approach and I’m certain they leave few stones unturned. Seems like you’ve been getting your fair share of grief lately with the influx of new posters (mo money mo problems, eh?). Don’t let it get you down ; ) we wish you nothing but the best in the coming New Year, Happy Holidays!

    • Brett

      Thanks, jon.

      • farmerjon

        Also, idk if you’ve got an early idea of what games you’re gonna hit this summer, but I’d love to meet up with you. The more notice the better as I am a single dad of a 3 n 4 yo and, well obviously, a farmer ; ) I’ve got a college roommate that lives a few blocks from Wrigley and has a 4br apt (pretty sweet). Let me know

  • baseballet

    Theo is chasing another ambulance to stock his bullpen.

    The Cubs should use some of the cash they’re saving on player payroll and spend it on top notch doctors. Maybe Theo is scouting medical schools looking for young doctors with good makeup and high upside.

    • Mick

      As long as he can sign them to a short term contract and flip him mid-season for pre-med prospects then I’d say you’re on to something.

      • baseballet

        Well played indeed.

  • baseballet

    Here’s an odd mystery regarding Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I looked it up on Wiki and at the bottom of the entry it lists eight players who’ve recently been diagnosed with it. The Wiki entry then notes: “coincidentally, five of these eight players have played for the Texas Rangers.”
    That list does not include Mike Adams, who also played for the Rangers.

    What is it about the Rangers and all these cases of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

  • nkniacc13

    Cubs must really expect to make atleast multi 40 man player trade to clear some major room