After Anibal: The Pitching Market and the 2014 Chicago Cubs

[Ed. - The following is another guest post from freelance reporter and ESPNChicago.com contributor, Sahadev Sharma. Have I mentioned that Sahadev and I do a podcast? We'll have a new episode for you on Wednesday, but you can check out our previous episodes - and subscribe - here.]

Early Thursday evening, the Chicago Cubs nearly pulled off one of the bigger surprises of the offseason. Reports had surfaced that they’d snagged starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez on a five year, $75 million deal. They were quickly proven to be wrong, and, by Friday morning, Sanchez had agreed to an $80 million contract with the Tigers over the same timeframe.

Regardless of who leaked what and why we at one point thought the Cubs had signed Sanchez, the fact is they aggressively pursued him, and clearly came in with a very reasonable offer. As someone who didn’t expect this type of move – and was getting a little tired of talking about players that were being signed at a great value that could be flipped for assets at the deadline – for a few hours, this move came as a breath of fresh air. I still strongly believe that the small moves, while horribly boring, are the right way for this front office to build this team. However pursuing Sanchez (in my opinion, he was the second best starting pitcher on the market behind Zack Greinke) actually made quite a bit of sense for multiple reasons.

Sanchez has made at least 31 starts, tossed no less than 195 innings and had a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the last three seasons. While that doesn’t scream number one starter, he’s proven to be durable and effective, two highly sought after attributes in this market. Sanchez’s walk rate has consistently dropped over the years, hitting a career low 5.9% last year, while his strike out rate was a solid 20.4% (after a career high 24.3% in 2011, his last full season in the National League).

The most important aspect in the Cubs pursuit of Sanchez may have been his age: he’ll enter spring training at a spry 29. That fact shows that, in all likelihood, the Cubs weren’t looking solely at 2013 with this potential move. This signing could have helped the team speed up their timetable of contention, making a surprise run in 2014 slightly more realistic.

But why would the Cubs be so aggressive in pursuing such a high-priced pitcher now when they don’t really expect to compete in 2013? Brett and I have often said that you have to go after free agents when they’re available. With the prevalence of extensions being signed in this league, it’s becoming rarer by the year for elite talent, especially pitching, to reach the open market.

There’s also the fact that the 2014 free agent market is looking particularly thin in young pitching talent. There are only two starters who will enter next offseason as free agents under the age of 30: Phil Hughes and John Lannan. Hughes very well could have a breakout season in 2013, but, if that does happen, it means that there will be a bidding war for his services. The Cubs are definitely equipped to engage in such activities if they’re genuinely interested in a player, but the situation highlights why acquiring Sanchez at a reasonable price would have been so forward-thinking. Even if we bump the age to include 30 year olds, the next free agent class – outside of the Cubs’ own Matt Garza – is filled with some big names who come with a significant amount of risk and whose best years may be behind them (Tim Lincecum, Edinson Volquez and Josh Johnson).

While there aren’t many attractive free agents heading to the market next offseason, there may be a few that will be available via trade. Buster Olney already threw out the name David Price, who would have two years remaining on his deal at that point in time. But two others who could be had – and whose contracts expire after the 2014 season – are Max Scherzer and the always discussed, but seemingly never available, Felix Hernandez. Obviously, Hernandez would be the true prize, and, by that point in time, Seattle may have a better idea what they have in their trio of top pitching prospects, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, allowing them to decide if moving Hernandez is the right move.

These trade options will likely still be available to the Cubs next season. That wouldn’t have changed with the theoretical acquisition of Sanchez. However, it would have been more of a finishing touch to the rotation (especially if Garza were extended) rather than the first step, as the addition of an ace to a rotation already featuring Sanchez and Jeff Samardzija would have at minimum made the Cubs relevant, regardless of how far the young bats had developed.

Another benefit to adding Sanchez would have been how the Cubs would have handled Garza. Whether to extend Garza or trade him will likely be one of the bigger question facing Theo Epstein and company as we head into the 2013 season. There are strong arguments for each side, but the addition of Sanchez would have given the Cubs a little bit of leverage in the situation. As much as Garza may enjoy playing on the North Side, adding another strong, young pitcher to the staff would have reassured him that the Cubs aren’t going about this rebuilding process too slowly and given him some incentive to stick around and try to be a part of something special. The presence of Sanchez would have also provided the Cubs with some insurance if they were unable to extend Garza and were forced to move him at the trade deadline or if he departed via free agency after the season.

The fact is signing Sanchez would have made the Cubs path to future success a little less murky. It would have been the first step to adding the talent necessary to compete to the major league roster. The Cubs still have a farm system that’s rapidly improving. So much so, that if a few pitchers (Duane Underwood and Pierce Johnson, for example) have strong seasons and the bats continue to move forward, by this time next season we could be hearing about the Cubs having the top system in all of baseball. That would give fans hope for the big trade about which Olney speculated.

Not getting Sanchez is hardly a killer to Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s plan for the Cubs. Sanchez wasn’t essential to the Cubs avenue to success (it’s been reported that, while they have always planned to pursue some bigger names, they never really expected to come away with one), however, it would have made things a little easier.
This isn’t a disaster, just merely a bump in the road for the Cubs brass. The farm system is healthy and names like Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Samardzija give hope at the major league level. Regardless, getting so close only to come away empty handed has to sting.

Sahadev Sharma is, among other things, a contributor at Bleacher Nation. Follow him on Twitter @sahadevsharma.

95 responses to “After Anibal: The Pitching Market and the 2014 Chicago Cubs”

  1. SteveO

    Is the speculation about an interest Price because of the new minor league pitching coordinator? Wonder if the Vandy ties have anything to do with Buster’s speculation that he could be a trade target. You’d have to think if Dan Vogelbach keeps mashing the Rays would be very interested in the hometown kid.

    1. Brett

      I think Buster was probably just shooting from the hip.

  2. Jeremy

    Not that the Tigers are in direct competition with us, but it was kinda nice to see the Cubs make the Tigers spend $32 million they didn’t really want to spend. I think you had brought up a point earlier in the offseason that part of the reason the Cubs would get in on some targets was to drive up the price on some of these players.

    I’m good with the FO. I think they are doing things the right way. I am tiring of Cubs fans who want it now.. we tried that and failed miserably. It’s time to build a franchise from the bottom up, which i think they are doing. I’ve waited 34 years of my life so far, whats a couple more if they do this right? I’d rather see a sustained winner, than a one and done. A franchise like the Cubs should make the playoffs every year, if built the right way. We are on our way towards that. Just give it time Cubs fans. If in 3 years we are not seeing the results, then we can start to panic.

  3. Myles - WCSW

    If James Shields is worth what he got from the Royals, I SHUDDER to think what David Price will command. You can make a convincing argument that Price is a top-10 pitcher in all of baseball.

    1. JulioZuleta

      I don’t think you can make any argument that he ISN’T a top 10 pitcher. He’s in the discussion for best overall. Like someone else said he’s the kinda piece you acquire when you are ready to win a World Series. For the absolutely devastating price it would cost, it probably wouldn’t make sense nexdt off season, unless certain things go much better than expected.

      1. JulioZuleta

        Think something like Baez, Almora, Vizcaino and Vogelbach start with.

        1. IlliniBone

          4 of our top 5 prospects? I think that might be a little steep.

          I can’t imagine we would trade Baez AND Almora in the same trade. I think one or the other plus Vizcaino and Vogelbach and maybe one other top 10 type would be as much as the Cubs could afford to give away in one trade.

          1. JulioZuleta

            I think this is what the cost of business has become when trading for true Aces. If Jamie Shields is worth the #3 prospect in baseball, + some other solid ones, I think this is probably about what we would see a Price deal come to.

            In my opinion, the Price is wrong. See what I did there?

        2. praying the cubs get ready to win

          Is this really Julio Zuleta. I have a great memory of Zuleta. My son and I were going to get autographs when Zulets girl friend started talking with us. My son was 5 and she said hang around with me and I will bring you in the locker to meet him. Well the Cubs lost their 12th in a row and Our mgr was throwing a fit. She apologized after we waited a half hour or so and said might not be a good day. She took down our number. My son and I went to the parking lot outside Wrigley for autographs and maybe a half hour later as Zuleta was driving his black SUV, Zuleta’s girlfriend spotted my son. He stopped the car and asked people to move away from the car, he pointed to my son and we walked over to him. He asked my son who his favorite first basemen was and my son said Zuleta. Zuleta preceded to pick my son up and talk with him and then autographed my sons baseball. That baseball sits on my sons desk to this day and is his favorite. My son has a Jeter and A Rod All Star baseball he got during batting practice and an Ernie Banks ball as we sat next to Mr Cub, he still says Zuleta will always be his favorite. Hope it’s you and thanks. If not, what Zuleta story do you have?

    2. Jeremy

      You don’t even need a convincing argument. He’s easily a top 10 pitcher in baseball. Probably Top 5. Really the only three pitchers better than him out there are Kershaw, Verlander and Hernandez.

  4. ETS

    I see what you did there with the 195 innings cut off. I could just as easily say that Anibel hasn’t thrown over 200 innings once in his career. That’s not to say he can’t be counted on, but innings are the reason why he wasn’t considered on nearly the same plane as Grienke.

    1. Patrick W.

      I don’t think their IP per start was in any way a consideration.

  5. Chad

    I think the cubs would have to deal Garza just to get enough prospects to get Price or Hernandez. As of right now I think it would deplete what Theo and Co. have just built up in order to get either of those guys. I think that is the biggest thing that people have missed in this Sanchez signing. With Sanchez in the fold I think it made Garza much more expendable. Now the cubs may need to resign Garza as I think he’ll be the best FA option next year (assuming he bounces back). If they extend Garza, what will it cost?

    Surely it starts with Baez or Almora, or both.

  6. walterj

    A move I think the Cubs should make that would be a building block for the future would be to trade for Justin Masterson of the Indians . My Christmas list included Sanchez and Masterson and I almost got my wish on Sanchez . What do you think it would take to pry Masterson from the Indians ?

    1. Morken

      I couldn’t agree more!

      Justin Masterson, or a starting pitcher in that vein(Rick Porcello, Jhoulys Chacin), are exactly the kind of young starting pitcher, with upside, who the Cubs should look to buy low on.

  7. jesus zuniga

    I think the cubs r driving up prices.to keep teams restricted from future adding payroll oppertunites..how many times have we heard the cubs being outbided?

  8. Stinky Pete

    I hope if they go after Price, it is similar to the Santana trade and contingent on Price signing an extension beyond the years of control.

  9. Tremendous Slouch

    I know it’s early, but I’m interested to see what direction they go with the second pick in the draft. WIll they grab another long term investment like Meadows or Fraizer or do they take one of the college P’s hoping they can include them in a package for Price or Felix?

    1. Noah

      Even if the Cubs draft a college pitcher, they would not be able to package him in a trade next offseason. You cannot trade a player you have drafted until one year after he was drafted.

      This isn’t to say that the Cubs shouldn’t draft a college pitcher. If that’s who they like best, they definitely should.

    2. Tremendous Slouch

      I tend to forget about that rule… Thanks for the reminder. ;)

      1. IlliniBone

        They can get around that rule by naming the pitcher a PTBNL and then trade the pitcher after the year is up.

        1. Kyle

          There’s two reasons that won’t work here.

          1) PTBNL have to be resolved within a certain number of days which I can’t be bothered to look up right now, but it’s enough to make dealing him in the offseason after he was drafted impossible.

          2) Teams aren’t willing to have their new assets remain under the control of another team for half a year.

        2. Stinky Pete

          That gets a little weird though.

          So It’s Price for Baez Almora and PTBNL (#2 pick College pitcher). Then we have Price pitching for us and #2 pick college pitcher. And what happens if/when #2 pick College pitcher gets hurt while pitching for us? I would guess that’s why it doesn’t happen too often.

          1. Stinky Pete

            Or yeah,

            What Kyle said…

  10. #1cubsfan2013

    price will be pricey

    1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      He is worth the Price of admission though

      1. Chris

        Hopefully it won’t be a hefty Price.

        1. LWeb23

          I would expect it to be hefty for the lefty.

  11. Cubsfan2436

    Sahadev! Glad to have you BN! Great read! Can’t wait for the podcast on Wednesday

  12. Cubsfan2436

    I wouldn’t want David price if it cost us 3 top prospects and maybe another high upside guy unless we were a WS contender till before we got him. These acquisitions squid only be made if u feel damn confident you will make serious playrun, next year I don’t that maybe 2015 but he’d only have one of control left. Wouldn’t be worth it. I be excited to have him but just bc the move is exciting doesn’t mean it’s the right move

  13. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

    Brett, I have a question for you. The issue I have with the FO and the current state of the team is that if you look at what the Miami Marlins and New York Mets have done this off-season, they have taken their short term assets and turned them into long term assets.

    We on the other hand have done nothing in that regards. We have added Baker and Fieldman to the rotation, re-signed Stewart and added Schierholtz to the outfield. Added a few pieces to the bullpen.

    We have had no movement on Soriano, Marmol, Garza. How hard is it to see other teams add young players to their long term plans and sit here and see us do nothing in that regards??

    1. Norm

      The Mets and Marlins had better short term assets to trade.

      1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

        That might be true but there are 29 other teams out there besides Toronto. You mean to say that after this winter is over, the Wonder Twins cannot trade one of our players for some prospects that we would have long term control over?

        1. Norm

          Well, the winter is far from over, so this discussion seems a bit premature.

        2. hansman1982

          We still have 45 days in the trading season for them to done do a deal…

        3. BWA

          Its not the end of the winter yet. Soriano and Marmol will be more valuable when the Free Agents at their positions are all snatched up. And Garza still has to prove he is healthy or he won’t have nearly the same value.

    2. DarthHater

      (a) We all know why Garza is untradeable right now, and it’s not the FO’s fault.

      (b) Soriano and Marmol could not bring back a return comparable to Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson.

      It’s an established fact that the FO has been trying to trade both Soriano and Marmol, but it takes two to tango. If the right deal hasn’t been there yet, that almost certainly is due not to our FO, but rather to the unwillingness of other teams to part with significant long-term assets in exchange for what the Cubs have to offer.

      When you get evidence that somebody is offering good prospects for Soriano and/or Marmol and the FO is turning them down, give me a call.

      1. Kyle

        “(a) We all know why Garza is untradeable right now, and it’s not the FO’s fault.”

        It’s the front office’s fault that he wasn’t someone else’s elbow problem several months before it happened.

        1. DarthHater

          If you think that whether Garza should have been traded turns on consideration of the fact that he got injured months later, then you’re delusional.

          If you think the FO turned down an offer for Garza that they should have accepted, I’m all ears.

          1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

            I think the FO made a critical error when they announced to the media that they were focusing on moving Dempster first and then would look at Garza. There are several media and journal sources that reported this fact.

            I think if your approaching the trading deadline, you put all your players you want to trade out there and listen to offers coming in, they way over played their hand on Dempster compared to what they actually were going to get for a player in his last contract year.

            A problem we now face with Garza is identical to the problem we faced with Dempster last year.

            1. DarthHater

              Yea, you may be right about that. (OMG, Kyle! Did you SEE that??? I didn’t defend the FO!!!)

          2. Kyle

            I think that Garza should have been traded in the spring because there was risk in holding on to him that wasn’t worth the reward they were aiming for.

            1. DarthHater

              Fine. Just show us all where you prophesied the risk at the time, Nostradumass.

              1. Lou

                If he’s Nostradumass, then I’m Nostradumass 2.0 because I was saying during that time as well.

      2. Jeremy

        It’s defiantly the front office’s fault that Garza didn’t get traded. Garza should have been traded before the season started.

        1. Chris

          I feel like they were still assessing the system then and didn’t want to make a big move before they knew what they had to work with.

          1. When the Music's Over

            They were holding their cards until they believed he would fetch maximum value. They made their bet by taking a calculated risk, and unfortunately they lost.

            1. ETS

              They never got an offer that exceeded their own perceived value of Garza. Call it what you want. I find difficulty assigning “fault” in such a situation.

              1. When the Music's Over

                It’s impossible to know what offers they received, and ultimately rejected, but we do know they were intent on holding out until they were confident they were receiving maximum value. That was the wager they had on the table. It’s just too bad things played out the way they did. It’s the risk you take whenever you hold onto guys, and a risk most GMs would take over and over again.

                1. ETS

                  I’m not convinced it is “too bad”. Garza may end up dominate this year. Maybe we flip him at the trade deadline (I know 1 less year control than had we flipped him last year, but we may still get a haul) or maybe i’m in the minority, but I’d love to see him extended. Who knows.

                2. Pat

                  The problem with holding out for maximum value is that the odds were slim his value was going to increase all that much. Whatever gains they may have gotten from continued success or a “desperate” team at the deadline were always going to mitigated against the fact the 1 1/2 years of Matt Garza in inherently less valuable than 2 years of Matt Garza. It was never all that likely (although possible) that waiting was going to increase the return.

                  1. Brett

                    For those who think I always defend the front office, by the way, I was pretty adamant that, if the Cubs were going to trade Garza, I thought it was a mistake that they didn’t deal him by the open of the 2012 season. I said it then, and then I lamented it when he got hurt. They took a risk, and they lost. It was a risk I thought they should not have taken …

                    … unless they were always planning to keep Garza, which would have been fine as well. Now, unfortunately, because of the bad-luck injury and the decision to keep him, all sides are in a really tough spot.

                    1. baseballet

                      I totally agree with this. Garza’s value spiked and the Cubs failed to take advantage.

              2. Kyle

                That’s just a tautology that means the front office is always right. By that standard, as long as they don’t think they are wrong at the time and do it anyway, they are always right.

                1. DarthHater

                  So, in your eyes, saying that the FO made a bet and lost (which is what WTMO said) is equivalent to saying that the FO is always right? Thank you for demonstrating with such indisputable clarity the complete illogicality of your position.

                  1. When the Music's Over

                    I think he was referring to this comment made by ETS:

                    “They never got an offer that exceeded their own perceived value of Garza. Call it what you want. I find difficulty assigning “fault” in such a situation.”

    3. LWeb23

      It’s only been the offseason for 6 weeks, and we have nearly the same amount of time until pitcher and catchers report. There is still time to deal Soriano and/or Marmol, but Garza will start the season with the club. He needs to show he’s healthy before teams will provide decent offers.

  14. Bren

    Very well written, but ultimately depressing..ha

    1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      Very depressing

  15. Curt

    if Sanchez would have sped the rebuilding process up and set the table fr 2014 would increasing the offer to Sanchez over what the tigers ended up offering him been the right way to go or a 6th yr added on would those have been excessive.

  16. mudge

    Re-sign Garza.

  17. Edwin

    I’m curious, for those of you who are fans of the way the team is being rebuilt, when are you expecting the Cubs to become “competative” again? This isn’t meant to be a criticism of how the rebuild is being done, I’m just curious to hear what people’s expectations are.

    1. Tommy

      I’m expecting them to be competitive this year. No reason to think otherwise at this time being as they haven’t even played a single game yet.

    2. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      If they don’t re-sign Garza or trade him for premium prospects, can’t trade for a David Price, I don’t see then very competitive for a very long time, maybe 5 years from now.

      1. willis

        Yeah the way things are going it’s going to be a long time. 3-4 years minimum. Anything can happen obviously, but how all this is coming together, get used to losing for awhile.

  18. 2much2say

    Your comments on Sanchez were way off base. He is a # 3/4 at best. He would have been another Dempster type that was signed to a long contract at too high of a price. They couldn’t give him away at the trade deadline. Sanchez’s best years are behind him If his ERA is below 4.0 I would be surprised. Another 9-11 or injury plaqued year is in his future.

    1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      I agree with you, Sanchez is a decent #3, but Detroit just over-payed by a huge amount. What’s Fister worth now? Scherzer??

    2. DarthHater

      (a) If not for Dempster’s 10-5 rights, we would have gotten Delgado for him. As it is, we got Villanueva, who, even if not great, is a lot better than giving him away.

      (b) Adjusted for inflation, the Cubs’ offer to Sanchez was smaller than the contract Dempster had.

      (c) Dempster was 35 at the end of his contract. Sanchez would only be 33.

    3. DocPeterWimsey

      They couldn’t give him away at the trade deadline.

      And the Marlins didn’t give him away! He wasn’t a throw-in just to get Infante…..

  19. 2much2say

    The Cubs need CF (Bourn) LF (Keep Sori), and a RF (Left handed power bat / Swisher?)
    and a 3rd baseman (????)

  20. 2much2say

    Bourn Castro Soriano Rizzo Swisher AJ Stewart Barney

    1. Chad

      So you think Sanchez is past his prime at 29, but Bourn at 29 and Swisher at 32 are good ideas for signing and AJ (is that pierzynski) who is 35 you want as your catcher????

      1. 2much2say

        Short term deals on all 3. Swisher at 2 AJ at 2 and Bourn 3/4
        They would win 88/93 with that line up.

        1. Chad

          I doubt it. Still don’t have pitching.

          1. 2much2say

            Garza, Jeff Z, Rookie, Tommy John and a former bust. Pitching looks good to me.

    2. praying the cubs get ready to win

      I like the line up and the years for the contracts. I agree we win 88-93 games.

  21. 2much2say

    Zamardja is a #4, In 2 years you would think the younger pitchers will be ready. By then all the Tommy Johns should be sorted out with a keeper or 2. Not to mention their solid #3 Garza. They need a #1 #2 #5 the sooner the better.

  22. Edwin

    It’s not that I thought Sanchez was a “must have”, but I have a hard time seeing where else the Cubs will get quality arms for the rotation. I’m fine with the Cubs waiting to spend the money, but I just don’t see who will be available to spend the money on.

    To me not signing Sanchez is another indicator that the Cubs won’t be competative until 2015, or more likely 2016.

  23. 2much2say

    Bourn 15 mil Swish 12 Mil Aj 6 mil = 33 mil give or take a mil or 2 (125 mil Payroll)

    1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      2M2S, not trying to be mean, but I think your Name fits you.

    2. praying the cubs get ready to win

      Also subtract DeJesus as we trade him for a prospect.

  24. 2much2say

    Where does McNutt project?

    1. willis

      Back end of the bullpen.

  25. Bret Epic

    I’ll pass on Bourn. I’d rather trade for someone that doesn’t base their game on their speed. A .272 Average and .339 OBP and .365 slugging percentage isn’t worth the money he’s gonna end up getting. AJ should never be a Cub, nor would I ever expect him to accept a job here at this point in time. He’s too old for the plan. As far as Sanchez goes, I think it’s hilarious that a 3/4 pitcher is getting 16 million a year. If you wanted to give 16 million a year to a pitcher, extend Garza? I personally think he’s a better overall pitcher, though not much of a fielder. The Feldman and Baker deals are starting to look like a steal in comparison. I’m sure we can make a few trades that involve Soriano, DeJesus and Marmol to get some return where we need it. If Vizcaino ends up coming back and working as a starter, then we should be in pretty good shape for starting pitching. I think extending Garza could end up beneficial since the market for starting pitchers isn’t great, though trading him could also net a good return. I personally really like Garza as a clubhouse guy and a player. I think he’s gonna have a really good year next year.

    So right now we’re looking at

    C-Castillo
    1B-Rizzo
    2B-Barney
    3B-Stewart
    SS-Castro
    LF-Soriano
    CF-DeJesus
    RF-Schierholtz

    SP-Garza
    SP-Samardzija
    SP-Baker
    SP-Feldman
    SP-Wood
    SP/RP-Vizcaino?
    SP/RP-Cabrera?
    SP/RP-Bowden?

    Then we have the bullpen that is ever changing that I wouldn’t dream of listing.

    I can definitely see some potential in this line up. A full season of Stewart with a bounce back, Rizzo spending the entire year at first, Castro evolving more each year, Barney at 2nd with his stellar defense (hopefully a better average as well) and then the Outfield which is sort of a question mark (possible trades, Jackson having 59 SO in 120 AB etc). As it stands, it’s not very impressive, though I imagine trades or signings will happen in the near future. Maybe Jackson will tear it up in AAA. The guy is too arrogant to fail and I see him with a ceiling of an improved Corey Patterson in his better years, except a bit more strikeouts and a higher OBP.

    If anyone else wants to touch on this, I would love to converse about our potential 2013 line up.

    1. brickhouse

      The lineup is bad and it we’ll be one of the worst offenses in the league. It was near the bottom last year and they have not improved it so far this off-season

    2. Kyle

      I don’t disagree with most of what you said, except for ignoring the serious potential for Ian Stewart to yet again suck at hitting.

      But Soriano and DeJesus are due for regressions, Barney isn’t a sure bet to match last offseason offensively and Castillo is easily capable of producing a dump of a season. Any trades between now and the season starting are just as likely to make our offense worse as better in the present.

      It’s a pretty bad offense.

      1. dabynsky

        “Barney isn’t a sure bet to match last offseason offensively”

        Barney hit worse last season than he did his rookie season.

  26. myporsche

    Bretts articles are much more attractive to read than these sharma essays….

  27. Hasbrook

    The Cubs are in worse condition now than before Theo started. This has to be the worst big-market team in the recent history of baseball and our prospects don’t even look that great.

    They should lower ticket prices for next season by a LOT.

  28. Chef Brian

    Someone break out the Kleenex.

  29. Steve

    I may be in the minority here but I like the moves we’ve made so far this offseason. Plus I’m looking forward to the fact that we aren’t done making moves yet. I think in the next few weeks we will siign either Liriano or Marcum. Neither are aces but both are an upgrade with the potential to be pretty solid. Take what we had in Garza, Shark, & a developing Wood, along with Baker, Feldman, & Vizciano we have depth in the rotation we didn’t have last yr. Feldman still has room to grow better, & Baker has been pretty good for his career as a whole. In fact I think Baker will be really good. I kind of we keep him beyond this yr. If not, he’d bring a decent return.

    The rotation should be solid, & deep enough to not be a disaster if we trade some arms before the seasons over. The pen should be better as well. I think the offense will be better than it would seem right now. Rizzo will be good, Castro as well. Castillo, Imo, will have a good yr at the plate, Dejesus will have the same type yr he usually has. Schierholtz will hit well enough, whomever his platoon mate is hopefully will carry their end. If Soriano stays he’ll hit well enough. We wont be the best out there, but there will be a marked improvement. As is right now I see us winning 75 games,

    1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      I’m worried, I see us trading many of the guys you have mentioned. I predict another 100 loss season and a top lottery pick again. I think that is the plan of this FO anyway, another year of tanking it for a high draft pick, it makes no sense to be semi-competitive.

      If you look at the contractual situation of this club, what alarms me is the lack of positional players and quality pitchers that we have long term control over. Our best prospects are still 3 to 4 years away from the majors, we lack pitching depth in the minors. The players we have are either aging, close to free agency or not productive enough.

      Unfortunately, I think the only way this FO will replenish this team is by selling everybody of value off by this years trade deadline.

  30. Steve

    I think we could still pull off 75 wins even if we trade off some guys, if we can get good major league ready guys. Marmol should bring at least one good prospect. Soriano & cash should net us 2 young guys, one major league ready. Dejesus should bring something decent. Barney could be moved with one of the others to improve the return. Garza could get us a good haul as well. Baker, once he shows hes healthy, could bring 2 more prospects. If both Garza & Baker get traded, we still have depth enough to get thrum without using the types we did last yr. Soriano could be replaced with whomever we trade him for. Dejesus would be covered with Jackson, who with the experience of last yr plus the work hes put in this offseason should do well. We have guys that can be brought up to play 2nd. Trade Soriano to the phillies for Brown and a midlevel pitching prospect, or maybe the tigers will take him & cash for Smyly, Berry and a prospect. Or we can go for a bigger type deal with Texas. Garza, Soriano, & cash for Olt, Scheppers, Holland, Martin, & Buckel. They get a power bat they need plus a good young starter with cash and maybe a prospect as well. We get a good young power hitting 3b, a good young reliever, a starter to maybe flip, a young CF that needs developing plus another quality prospect. Olt immediately becomes another of our young core guys. Scheppers could eventually be our future at closer. Holland give us another flippable guy.

    no to the phillies for Brown & a pitching prospect. Or trade him plus cash to the Rays for