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The family and I are traveling again today, so there may not be Bullets this morning (possibly later today). The Lukewarm Stove is smoking, though, so there’s plenty to discuss …

  • Them Diamondbacks looooove outfielders. After trading away Chris Young to limit themselves to five starting-caliber outfielders (Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton), the Diamondbacks up and surprised everyone by signing Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million contract.
  • On the one hand, the signing is good for the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano market, as the Diamondbacks were definitely not a potential trade partner for the Cubs (and, indeed, one of the most public possible partners – the Phillies – were really interested in Ross). On the other hand, the move probably replaces Ross on the market with Jason Kubel, whom the Diamondbacks will now look to trade. Kubel, 30, is similar to Soriano in many ways offensively, is in the same range defensively (Soriano is arguably better now, but good luck convincing folks of that), but is under contract for just one year at $7.5 million (plus a $7.5 million option in 2014 with a $1 million buyout). So, he may be a more attractive trade candidate to some teams than Soriano, even at $5 million per year for Soriano. At best, I’m thinking this signing was probably a tiny bit on the plus side for the Cubs’ market, but only slightly. Mostly neutral.
  • The Diamondbacks outfield situation is worth watching also because I still like the idea of Parra coming over to the Cubs. He’s young, versatile, a great defender, and has offensive upside. A great many teams would be interested, but the Cubs would probably be particularly interested in a “bridge” guy like Parra, who could take them to the era of Jorge Soler/Albert Almora (assuming those guys become ready and big league regulars, which obviously is a mighty assumption). Pollock or Eaton would be interesting, too.
  • The Pirates have finally traded closer Joel Hanrahan – he’ll be going to the Red Sox in a six-player deal, according to reports, which will include another player coming from the Pirates, and outfielder Jerry Sands, pitching prospect Stolmy Pimentel, and two more players (one of whom might be reliever Mark Melancon). It’s hard to judge the trade without knowing the identities of all of the players, but it’s starting to look like a relatively weak return for the Pirates, given that Sands might never be a even a fringe big league regular, Pimentel really isn’t much of a pitching prospect (great name, though), and Melancon seemed like he was really broken last year.
  • The deal is interesting because it could set the market for a Carlos Marmol trade, assuming the Cubs eat enough of Marmol’s $9.8 million salary to put him in the same price range as the $7ish million Hanrahan is expected to make in 2013 through arbitration. The two pitchers, each in his early 30s (Marmol just turned 30, Hanrahan just turned 31), are under control through 2013 only. Each is coming off a decent season, though Hanrahan’s was better in almost every way. Each is somewhat inconsistent, though Marmol much, much more so. Further, Hanrahan’s 2011 and 2009 seasons were absolutely dominant, while Marmol’s 2011 was weak, and his 2010 was excellent. On the balance, it’s pretty clear that Hanrahan is the superior pitcher so, unless the Cubs make Marmol very cheap, they can’t expect a better return than the Pirates just got … whatever it ends up being. We’ll have to keep a close eye on this one.
  • Buster Olney says that J.P. Howell might be close to making a decision, and the lefty reliever appears to be leaning toward the Nationals. The Cubs have been mentioned as one of his suitors.
  • UPDATE: The Indians reportedly have come to terms with Nick Swisher on a four-year, $56 million deal with an option for a fifth year. The Mariners – who yesterday signed 40-year-old Raul Ibanez – had also been interested in Swisher, as well as potentially the Rangers, so you have to wonder if they’ll now go full bore on someone like Michael Bourn. It could also open up the market even more for someone like David DeJesus or Alfonso Soriano, depending on where he’s willing to go.
  • Carew

    According to mlbtraderumors, Indians to sign Swisher for 4 yrs, 56 mil.

  • Kyle

    I’ve had Howell on my “wouldn’t mind” list for awhile, but I think I’m at the point where I’m satisfied with the bullpen even if we can’t find a satisfactory second lefty. Still not sure how I feel about maybe moving Wood into that role.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Or Rusin or Raley.

      I kind of want Howell because I still expect them to unload Marmol.

      • Kyle

        I’m going to be so annoyed if we trade Marmol or Soriano before the season starts without getting MLB talent in return. We’re so close to entering the season with a credible team.

        • Kyle

          Oops, I meant to have a second thought in that last post.

          In theory, the bullpen might be OK without him. I’m feeling kind of burned by the “we have a ton of young, interesting arms, one or two should probably emerge” approach, but it’s still not a bad idea despite the fact that it completely busted out on us last year.

          If you trade Marmol, you’re down to Fujikawa, Russell and Camp as the veteran relievers, plus one or two guys who didn’t make the rotation right away. You really should be able to hope that Cabrera, McNutt, Dolis, Bowden, Zych, Rusin, Raley, etc. turn out a useful pitcher or two among them. But I hate counting on that again.

          • kd22

            You also have Cory Wade, Jensen Lewis, and Andrew Carpenter on minor league deals. I would expect at least one of them makes the team. If Wade or Lewis can put it together again you would be looking at a very serviceable bullpen. And don’t forget Rondon the Rule 5 guy. If he’s completely health he could be an interesting guy back there. Hes young but has the stuff to at worst be a setup man if not closer.

            • Kyle

              I think Wade’s got a great shot to make the team.

              I think we’ll probably end up sending Rondon back, to be honest.

              • Blublud

                Nah. Rondon is definitely a keeper. He is also not a bullpen arm. He’s a starter. He will be stashed in the pen this year, after which he will probably be sent to Iowa or Tennessee next year to be stretched back out. Similar to Lendy Castillo

                • Melrosepad

                  Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing if the Indians would want a minor trade so we could move Rondon down to the minors right away.

                  • nkniacc13

                    Unless your going to give the indians more that a possible 3 starter your not getting Rondon in a trade.

                • Good Captain

                  Speaking of Lendy, how’s he progressing if anyone knows?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I still think this team looks like 90-loss club on paper right now. Not complaining.

          • Kyle

            Way better than that, IMO. The pitching is solid. I see a lot of 2012 Pittsburgh in us.

          • mattm

            Fangraphs does not agree with you, and they have a boatload of numbers to back them up!

            • mattm

              Sorry Kyle I was responding Brett.

            • MichiganGoat

              That is counting on Garza being healthy and not traded along with everyone else. I’m certain there will be more moves for prospects at the deadline and that’s why 90 losses would be surprising.

              • mattm

                You can say what you want, however, modern economics tells us that if the cubs start the season successfully and ticket sales are up there is NO WAY the cubs can give up players and lose that much money again.

                Trust me if we start strong NO WAY that will happen it can’t! Especially with the precarious financial situation the Ricketts are in.

                • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

                  What precarious financial situation? If they sold the Cubs today, they would get at least double what they paid.

                  • mattm

                    Um let me see…. They bought the cubs for over HALF thier total worth and took huge amounts of debt to make it happen…. That is precarious bud.

                    Not only that but at 2.5mil ticket sales that’s a 500k loss over the usual 3mil they get that’s AT LEAST 30mil right there. THat figure is just for tickets. THey make at least 70 percent of that in concessions.

                    If I recall even with a 145mil payroll back when the Cubs spent money they were still profitable. Think about that for a minute….. How much would they make if they kept the team at 500 and didn’t let the payroll fall under 100mil? Which it’s under right now!

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      None of that puts the Ricketts in any sort of precarious financial straits. If nothing else, then their remaining money could buy up the debts and still leave them all more comfortable than any MLB player for the rest of their lives.

                      As for the ticket sales, Cubs’ sales always are good. They become extra good when the team is doing well.

                    • baldtaxguy

                      Nothing is “precarious” associated with the ownership structure. You are trying to make the point that the FO will not flip “flippable” assets at the deadline for prospects if the team has first half success. I think that is a reasonable assumption, but if assets are flipped anyway, it will likely be due to the return the FO would be getting, and it has nothing to do with the ownership structure.

                    • Kevin B

                      Matt what are you talking about?

                      1st of all you do not know their financial worth and the percentage of their financial worth they paid for the team has no relevance to any financial position? They are cash flowing or they are not. They are increasing in value or they are not.

                      They took huge amounts of debt huh? Well technically that is correct but Sam Zell who controlled the Tribune and thus the Cubs insisted on that for tax reasons. That was also while the Trib stil owns 5% of non voting membership in the Cubs, LLC that was formed that owns the team, it was just a business tax deal.

                      The Ricketts could have not taken that out. They still cash flow and can pay off the debt if they want to (timing of the tax implications I would have no idea on).

                      The Ricketts do not need a penny from the Cubs they are not in any financial trouble as a result of buying the team, that is not true.

                      Also mlb teams make most of their money on the TV/broadcast contract, not ticket sales. You are also assuming that they need to sell $3million to break even? So if they sell 2.5 million seats they lose $30 Million? Payroll went from $145 to what $108 millon anyway which is around a $37 million savings their anyway.

                      Payroll is under $100 million right now? Well you are kind of right, it was I think $86 million a week ago, but with the signing of EJax and the $8million bonus its around $100 Million right now.

              • Blublud

                Our system is as deep as it needs to be. We dont need anymore maybe prospect, or utility players. Unless someone is offer us some star power, we won’t be trading guys just to acquire fringe prospects.

                • baldtaxguy

                  Really, our system is deep? If you traded Soriano, which AAA outfield prospect is ready to step into left field? Which outfielder is even ready to be brought up?

                  • Blublud

                    Yes. The our system depth is our strong point. We might have arguebly the deepest system in the league. What we lack is star power at the top. So if we trade someone to add prospects, it would have to be someone with star power. We have a surplus of AAA fillers and utility playing major leaguers.

                    • Voice of reason

                      You are joking, right?

                    • Blublud

                      Very serious. There is a reason why we lost more players in the rule 5 then anyone. Our IF prospects are as deep any team. Our OF is lacking depth at AAA, but we have some talent at the lower levels. And we have a tremendous surplus of #5/bullpen arm pitchers. Once again, we lack star power. So if we trade someone, it won’t be for another potential #5 starter and a utility OF. It will be for someone with star potential.

                    • Voice of reason

                      Then why did we resign Ian Stewart if we have such great infield depth? Ian Stewart is terrible and washed up.

                      And, the cubs can’t wait to unload soriano. The problem is they cannot find a taker.

                    • nkniacc13

                      you can never have to many prospects.

                  • Blublud

                    And, the outfield is our weak spot, but if need be, there’s Campana, Seppalt, Jackson, Shierholtz and Dejesus still on the 40 man. So it might not be a great outfield, but its 5 major leaguers.

                    This is also more reason why Sori won’t be traded just to be traded.

                    • Kevin B

                      Blublud I agree with you, Baseball American and other publications think the Cubs have a deep farm system but lack star potential. Deep simply means MLB caliber player potential but not stars like you said, which is different then having a top ranked system that has many potential stars, but you never said that, others are just confused by the differerence.

                • nkniacc13

                  Serioulsy. The cubs may have an intriguing lower level system but that’s not saying that you have a deep system. I agree they may not be needing to take postion flyers where their best postion maybe utlity but you always can have more prospects as some look great now but may not in a year or 2. If you think the Cubs have a deep system then explain to me why they don’t have the goods to go any make a trade for a Upton or a Shields or someone like that?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              ? The 2013 ZIPS projections for the Cubs were not out last I looked.

              • mattm

                Doc. I popped a link down at the bottom of this thread which is what I was talking about.

                BTW you all seem to think there is no correlation between ticket sales and money that assumption is just plain false.

                To put it into context for if what you were saying is true why then did the Tribune company try to throw huge sums of money before they sold the team?

                Simple answer they were trying to drive up ticket sales so that the Cubs would appear more valuable.

                Think about it this way everyone….When the Ricketts company bought this club it was averaging 3mil tickets sold a year for the last decade I believe, so do you think their purchase price as well as debt payment strategy and business model were based on 3mil in tickets sold a year or 2.5mil which hadn’t happened for a while before the Cubs were bought?

                If you presume (which is likely) that it’s based on the 3mil then by that mere fact they LOST money and LOTS OF IT!

                Which is why in my opinion THeo was given the green light to make some of these deals. We all know at a .500 level Wrigley will sell 3mil tickets.

                If the team lost 100 games again this year that numer would slip again maybe even to 2mil. If that happened even having a payroll of 60million the cubs would still lose money versus 100mil and 3mil tickets sold.

                It’s plain economics!

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Got the link. It really does not provide any hard projections: as such, I lean towards Brett’s view, as the Cubs now will have about league-averge run prevention but still have well-below league average run production.

                  Regarding the dollars made and ticket sales, why would I ever think that these are unrelated? I do think that the Cubs always have good sales (and sometimes spectacular sales), so this is not a concern: and that ticket sales are not the biggest form of revenue anymore. Your model for why the Tribune wanted a winning team sounds good, but it falls apart there: the team simply looks to be worth more if it’s doing well. (That said, the Ricketts almost certainly could sell the Cubs at a profit this year.)

                  At any rate, the Ricketts are in zero danger of losing their shirts because of the Cubs playing poorly. It would take something drastic a la the McCourts’ insanities to do that.

                  • Mattm

                    Has anyone actually run a business? The object from the owner of any business is not to just worry about what the resale value of the business is and only that. If that were the case teams would be flipped all the time.

                    From a business model standpoint you want your business to be solvent and pay you back or at least pay its own bills. If thats not the case then its a disaster. In the ricketts case the took heavy heavy amounts of debt to buy the cubs which means the business has to pay those loan payments as well.

                    What you are saying about tickets is partialy correct. You cant compare the 2.5mil in sales to other teams you have compare that to your sales. If you do that the cubs typically sell 3mil tickets a year so at 2.5 mil they lost 16 percent of their ticket revenue plus lower beer/hotdog/jersey sales etc, and you begin to see they took a really big loss last year and probably cant sustain that loss.

                    • Hee Seop Chode

                      From what the family has said publicly, they’re taking a more generational perspective on ROI. It is possible to loose money year after year and still earn a tremendous amount over a long period of time. Based upon the Dodgers recent sale price, the Rickets are looking at a return of 200-300% return on investment in just 5 years.

                    • Kevin B

                      Yes I have and do run a business but what is the point? The Tribune company greenlighted spending to try to get a winner because a winner is more valuable. And to an extent Matt you are correct it would also show more revenue but the bulk of the revenue is TV deal not sales anyway, and you suggest they are losing money because they lost 500,000 fans this year and that is not accurate, that cost them revenue that is correct but that does not mean the Cubs lost money.

                      Of course they have to pay their debt service, who is to say they are not? In fact with the lower payroll this season and the lower attendance I believe the Cubs made a profit this year. And they can still afford to spend on the Dominican project and new spring training facilities.

                      The Cubs spending money on players has nothing to do with the lower attendance. This is not the Tribune Company, the Ricketts want to build a winner and Theo has the power to spend on players he thinks is WORTH it not spend to just spend. There is a big difference there.

          • Blublud

            I think 90 loses is the worse this team can. And without adding anyone else. I know were not connected to bourn, other then at BN, but if we can sign him, we are at least a .500 ballclub.

            • T Wags

              I would rather start Jae-Hoon Ha in CF on opening day than pay Bourn what he’s gonna get.

              • Marcel91

                Amen to that. Its not by coincidence that nobody wants to sign Bourn unless its as a last resort.

          • Don

            I think with our much better pitching staff we can win 80 games. But I’m afraid unless we add another rbi guy we may lose a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 games. Cubs need a bopper like Josh Hamilton.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              It’s not mythic “RBI” guys that the Cubs need: it’s OBP and slugging in general. Cubs batters don’t get many RBI not because they are not “RBI men,” but because the Cubs dismal OBP makes them among the league trailers in PAs with men on base.

              That really has not been addressed this winter. The improved starting rotation should bring the runs-allowed up to league average or perhaps even a touch better. That might not sound like much, but that’s a 60-70 run improvement, and thus about a 6-7 game improvement in standings.

              However, this was the 3rd worst offense in the NL, with the 3rd worst OBP and the 3rd worst slugging. (That should dispel ideas that the team is a “clutch” batter or two away from being good!) They were 70 runs below average last year: and I don’t see another 70 runs in the lineup that they will (probably) be trotting out there.

              • Don

                Well said Doc! I agree 100%.

              • mattm

                I can’t agree with this just by looking at our 3b situation last year. We were completely unlucky by the events that took place and given a healthy writs Stewart hitting at JUST his average level should provide a huge uptick out of that position. Combine that with how dismal CF and C are and you could make the case that just by having average players in all three positions gets us to that 70 runs you talk about.

                People think we need huge additions but really it’s not even that….because of some historic bad years by a few players…..Soto, Stewart, Byrd…..we looked way worse than we actually were on paper. Combine that with a HORRIBLE bulpen and trotting out some terrible talent in our 4-5 starting pitching slots and you have your 100+ losses right there.

                It’s not difficult to say that AT THE VERY LEAST Stewart will be better than our 3b production next year (barring injury). Casitllo should be just by playing all year at catcher as well. With Dejesus at center we need only average production out of rf to make up for our cf production last year.

                • Kevin B

                  Well said Matt – good points

              • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                Oh, I agree it will be a below-average offense. But I think we should cut into that 70 a bit.

                LF and 2b should be a bit worse on average projection, 1b and SS a tiny bit better. I’d call the four positions a wash, essentially, with last year.

                Our CFers were roughly -20 runs against average (using Baseball-Reference’s Rbat).. DeJesus’s .753 OPS was almost precisely the .748 CF average last season. DeJesus’s advantage is widened a bit because his OPS is OBP heavy, but as of right now I’d expect to see enough Campana in CF to reduce that. So let’s say we’re -5 against average. That’s a 15-run improvement. It could even be more of an improvement if we add another OFer so that we can double-platoon.

                Our RF last season hit .688 in total and were roughly a -10. I think a Schierholtz/Sappelt platoon should beat that by at least a couple of runs on average.

                Our C were another -23 runs against average on their own. I don’t know how good Castillo and Navarro will be, but I’ll bet they’ll be at least 10 runs better than that just from basic regression to the mean.

                3b, I don’t even want to try to project. In theory, it should be better by at least a little just by regression to the mean, but I hate Ian Stewart so much I don’t want to think about it.

                So I think we should conservatively be in line for a 20-30 run offensive improvement. If we’re -45 compared to the league average, and we have an average pitching staff (which I think is underselling it), we’d be in like for something like 75-87 with neutral luck.

                It really comes down to *why* we were so awful last year. We didn’t have a complete lack of useful hitters. It’s just that our hitters who were bad were *really, really* bad. So bad it’s hard to imagine how they could possibly replicate that suckitude.

                • Turn Two

                  Is there a time of day you’re not posting?

                  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                    Not generally.

                • MattM

                  This is a very good post and illustrates exactly what I have been trying to say!

                  I know you hate stewart but he HAS to be better than our 3b options last year if he plays all year. Heck with the little time he had I believe he projected to 15hr and around 65-70 RBIS last year, which really helps our situation…….

                  An average year from Stewart really cuts into the 70 run projection.

        • Kurt

          Not as annoyed a I am where the only answer to the Cubs trading someone is that they eat great portions of their contract.

          GM’s overpay ALL THE TIME for players, especially when in need.

          Sori’s got two years left on his contract and actually put up very good numbers last year to actually come close to earning that money, in today’s dollars. Soriano’s production and protection for Rizzo is not worth that loss. Eating 72% of a 36 million dollar contract and then moaning that the team won’t jump into the free agent market and land “a big name” (Sori, anyone) smacks of not learning from history, as some seem to argue we should do.

          Marmol has one year left. Marmol in a setup or even closer role at the trading deadline is worth way more than “once again” giving away someone for little to nothing, as most on here have opined.

          I’ve never seen a fan base so willing to eat millions of dollars in contract and then want to spend more millions in replacing that part. Every single answer shouldn’t be to eat a contract. How has that worked for the Yankees in the past.

          This is beginning to border on the moronic.

          I know I’m just a lowly Engineering Tech surrounded by a bunch of bright-minded lawyers on this site, but my goodness people none of you could run a business or a household successfully this way, at least not financially.

          • mattm

            I am including this link…. I don’t know if I can or not but I will……It talks about the cubs being at or around 80wins this year WITHOUT doing anything else using sabermetrics. They admit that in the 80 wins range it could go from 70 wins to 90 wins, and given the staff and the fact that we had some abnormally bad years out of a number of positions (third base, catcher, center field, bullpen) we could easily be looking at a 90 win team if some (Not all) step up. Like for instance Stewart hits 260 with 25 hrs and 80 rbis which he has done…… Anyway here is the link.

            http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/cubs-sign-edwin-jackson/

          • Kevin B

            Kurt I love it! I do not know how many lawyers are on the site or why it matters but well said Kurt.

            Marmol has value especially if you are paying most of the contract so if we “eat” most of it we better be getting a fair return not just some half ass prospects.

            With Soriano great point on his value to hit behind Rizzo. If we are paying $26 million of $36 million we better be getting a nice package of prospects, they may not all be blue chippers but solid prospects. Otherwise Soriano can play for us.

            Jesus everyone, the only reason to trade Soriano is he is just too old to be part of the longer term view thats all, but he is a good teammate and he is a good player. If teams do not want to give value for him then we keep him and he is the bridge to Soler/Almora

        • soxsux914

          Kyle,

          Although I like your optimism about a credible team, I have seen no upgrade to the offense. The team needs to be more patient, draw more walks, attempt a few more steals….try alittle small ball with the lack of power. I like the strides on the pitching side but if we trade away Sori it will have a negative impact on Rizzo.

          • The Show

            The positions I see the Cubs upgrading this off-season is the OF. 3B or maybe even catcher. It’s safe to say Rizzo and Castro are both locks, Barney is most likely safe, and probably DeJesus and you probably know what to expect from all of those guys offensively, same with Soriano if he stays. The guys you don’t know what to expect from are guys like Stewart, who was pretty bad last year, it would be really tough to do worse than he did last year and the Cubs don’t really have any other options, except for Vitters. Then there’s W. Castillo who has never really played at the big league level at a consistent level, but did show some signs of production at the end of last year. BJax has the tools to be a good outfielder but can he fix his swing? How can Schierholtz produce as a starter?

            • Blublud

              I think the Cubs have their starting catcher for the next several years and 2 sufficent backups. I dont really see an upgrade at the catcher position coming any time soon, except in the form of Castillo’s development.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

            The offense isn’t going to be good. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a bad offense. As of today, the 5-8 is just horrific.

            But the pitching is a tick better than average and the defense is very good, so the run prevention in sum should be better than average. Better than average run prediction, way below average run scoring = something like 78-84 (assuming no massive deadline selloff, which isn’t a good assumption).

  • Big Daddy

    The Phillies will be calling soon on Sori. The outfield market is drying up. If we trade him, I hope we get something decent. Don’t just give him away Theo.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think you’re right – Phillies, among other teams. And I definitely think the Cubs won’t give him a way. No real reason to at this point.

      (Though they should definitely try to make it happen now, rather than waiting – his value will never be higher.)

      • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

        Weren’t the Phillies looking for righty bat OF? If that is true Kubel being on the market shouldn’t influence them too much. Dominic Brown for Soriano would be a nice finishing touch on the offseason.

        • Adventurecizin’ Justin

          I’m in no hurry to trade Soriano, but I have to admit that a Dom Brown return is intriguing. He likely wouldn’t make the Cubs better in ’13 than Soriano would, but he does have alotta upside goin’ forward.

          Does anyone know anything about the Cuban defector, OFer Dariel Alvarez? I wonder if the Cubs will be in play, especially if Soriano is dealt.

          • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

            If neither Cuban defector is subject to international amatuer spending limits,which might be the case with the second one since I believe he is close to turning to 23, I would guess, and hope along with you, that the Cubs would be heavily involved.

          • King Jeff

            Dariel Alvarez is playing in the Mexican winter league and kind of tearing the cover off the ball. He and Aledmis Diaz are not subject to the signing limits, once Diaz turns 23. Alvarez is reportedly 24, so he’s already good to go. I think the Cubs would be foolish to not be in on both of these guys, and I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if the MLB payroll was at it’s limit right now so that the Cubs could spend some serious scratch on one or both of these guys. Both would be rated pretty highly in the Cubs system from what I have read.

            • Blublud

              Diaz is projected to be the better player and plays SS, but with our needs, we should go after alvarez. There are reports that he can play in the Majors right now. Cespedis had an OPS of close 1.090 in his last year at 25. Alvarez had close to 1.020 at 23. We should go get this guy.

              • Adventurecizin’ Justin

                I agree that we should go after Alvarez first, but wouldn’t that be something if we splurged and got ‘em both?! I’d much rather take a chance on both of these guys than to spend towards Michael Bourn!

                • Good Captain

                  Having both can only help.

              • Kevin B

                Good point before on Castillo being the catcher – I agree I do not see any young catchers coming on the market for trades and no longer see any blu chip catching prospects left to trade for who are major league ready.

                As for Diaz being a SS that does not matter, it does not mean he can only play SS and there is no guarantee Castro is always a SS. In baseball just sign GOOD prospects, heck its not like you have to choose, they are not being drafted, we have the money to sign both Diaz and Alvarez and frankly I do not just want to hope our FO goes for both I EXPECT THEM TO DO SO,

      • legen wait for it dary

        i think getting brown for sori would be just giving sori away imo

        • Adventurecizin’ Justin

          Well, Dom Brown was the #4 overall prospect at one time and he still has the talent. I doubt Soriano fetches much better than that. If we are going to trade Soriano for someone MLB ready, a powerful, LH’d bat like Brown’s could end up being a steal, IMO.

          • Blublud

            I feel if the Cubs were willing to take just Brown and pay 26 mil, the Phillies would have taken that deal a long time ago. As much as I like Brown, the fact is the Cubs want more and can get more for Sori. Used to be the #4 don’t carry a whole lot of weight. There are plenty of utility players and pinch hitters that used to be the #4 prospect.

            • Adventurecizin’ Justin

              On the other side of the coin, the Cubs may be insisting on Brown and the Phillies aren’t quite ready to do that. However, with Swish and Ross off of the board, the Phils may have to resort to a Soriano/Brown deal. I haven’t read anything stating the Phils are ready to give up on Dom.

              • Kevin B

                Yes I thought they were waiting on Ross. Why trade for Sori if they can sign Ross for just money, made sense but now Ross is of the board and now the Phillies may bite. I would want more then D. Brown like Blublud said.

  • MichiganGoat

    You smell that Cleveland? Yup that’s an expensive douche- enjoy. I’m glad the Cubs were never connected to him.

    • dob2812

      He is an ass clown (or appears that way to a lot of people) and part of me is glad I don’t have to cheer for him but they’re probably all like that, really. I have no evidence that any one on the Cubs is an actual good person and I don’t care if they are or not (within limits, naturally). Swisher can really play is the thing. I’d fully expect him to at least be worth that contract.

      • FFP

        That’s a lot of words.

  • dob2812

    Nick Swisher is easily worth that and I can’t really understand why the Cubs wouldn’t have been in on him. I guess he could theoretically be blocking Soler in a couple of years. Hopefully it just speaks to their confidence in him.

    I have no problem with Schierholtz in right field when a right hander is starting but I doubt they want to see him play against lefties so presumably another outfield move will happen before Opening Day, even if it’s only a Jeff Baker type of guy.

    • Carew

      Sappelt against lefties maybe

      • Good Captain

        FWIW, I seem to recall that Sappelt was hitting quite well down in winter league ball. I don’t know what level pitching he’s hitting against.

    • Rcleven

      Got to figure Cubs didn’t want to give up that second draft pick. Swisher was a restricted FA.
      Don’t really blame the Cubs for not chasing Swisher. Farm still in shambles.

      • Marcel91

        Yea. Our second draft pick is the equivalent of a first round supplemental pick. In other words, think Pierce Johnson- level prospect.

        • Kevin B

          Great comments guys, Swisher is on the wrong side of 30 and would cost a VALUABLE and HIGH 2nd round pick. Ex. Vogelbach was a 2nd round pick.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    $14 million a year…for Nick Swisher? I guess the Indians had to overpay to get him to come, but that still seems like a boatload for a guy like Swisher, who swings from his ass and periodically connects. And how old is he? Bad signing, IMO.

    • dob2812

      Four win player, year in, year out. That should cost more than 14 million a year in free agency, even factoring in the lost draft pick (which will be the 2nd round one for the Indians if I’m not mistaken).

      • TonyP

        Per Baseball reference– The last time he had a 4 WAR was 2007 in Oakland. The last four years have been 1+, 3+, 1+ & 3+. js

        • Carne Harris

          He’s about right on fangraphs though. Since 2006 Swisher’s fWAR has been 3.9, 3.9, 1.3, 3.2, 4.1, 3.8, 3.9. Still no idea why rWAR and fWAR are so damn different. I thought about jumping into the math but I worry it would just frustrate the hell out of me. Like one time I heard (don’t know if it’s true) that they just added 1 to FIP to make it more in line with ERA. Because comparing two pitchers with a 3.75 and 2.50 FIP is exactly the same as comparing two pitchers with a 2.75 and 1.50 FIP, right?

    • Adventurecizin’ Justin

      Have you looked at his numbers? I wanted him before Bourn…who is a terrible leadoff hitter in many ways!

  • T Wags

    I’d much rather trade for Eaton than Parra. I looooove that OBP!

    • Jeff1969

      Remember though, Eaton’s obp numbers were in the minors. Parra is young & established as a major league hitter & gold glove OF. I would choose Parra, but would take Eaton, Parra, or Pollock to be honest.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I agree. Most players continue their miLB walk rates in the majors. Parra is a good example of that: he didn’t walk in miLB, either. Eaton’s great (11+%) rate will probably carry over. Eaton’s slugging at the same levels has been a bit better, too, which means that his average will be a little less susceptible to the BABiP goddess’ whims.

      Can Parra play CF? He hasn’t played there much, but that might simply be because of Chris Young.

  • http://www.cwsnaturally.com Evolution

    Just wondering…is the general opinion that the team is not seeing starting potential from Wood? At least for the near term?

    I guess I thought he had shown flashes…

    • Carew

      I’m with ya on this. Wood did show that he could be a solid 5 guy. He is just probably the odd man out.

    • Kyle

      I think it’s just more of an “odd man out” situation. I like Wood a lot, but if everyone’s healthy, I don’t like him more than five of our other guys.

      Plus, the fact that we only have one MLB lefty reliever at the moment.

      • Blublud

        I honestly dont know if he’s the odd man out. What has Villanueva shown that he hasn’t that would automatically exclude Wood. Same with Feldman. Jackson, Shark and Garza are locks. Baker, if or when healthy and up to form is probably a lock.The others will compete for the last spot. I would say wood, considering the Cubs have much more control over him, has as much a chance as the others.

  • another JP

    It’s my guess that the FO would rather spend it’s money on pitching when it comes to free agents. Overpaying for guys like Swisher doesn’t seem to be a strategy right now.

  • mattm

    I think what the cubs should do is jump on a trade for kubel now. That will lesson the impact of a soriano trade and if they have to go into the season with both so be it they definately add offensive value to the team!

    If the idea is collecting value that is the way to do it. You have Soriano for two years you sign Kubel for another year or two and you have two valuable trade options for next year, or if you really want to trade Sori you get Kubel who will lesson the loss and is cheaper. Then if he has another good year it only adds to his value! Not only that but he is only 30 if you want a long term outfielder he is it.

    If they do nothing then Kubel hurts Soriano’s value and we don’t trade him.

    • Marcel91

      How are you adding value by getting Kubel when you’ll have to give up a package of prospects just to get him? especially with the Ben Revere and Shin-cho Choo robberies fresh on people’s minds. Acquiring Kubel makes no sense.

  • http://www.chiesaditotti.com Bren

    Was that guy in the Pirates trade one of the two Indian kids who won that Indian reality show that took cricketers and attempted to turn them into pitchers?

    • Melrosepad

      Dinesh Patel pitched 13.2 innings for the Pirates in ’09 and ’10 at the Rookie League level and that’s it for him as he was released in December of ’10 and is back in India.

      Rinku Singh is still in their minor league and pitched 72 innings for their A ball team last year.

  • ed

    Does anyone know when the jackson press conference will be, and if it will be on csn?

  • Blublud

    That is way to much for Swisher. I wanted him, but not at that price.

    I don’t wanna trade Sori, but if we can get brown and something else (Brown doesn’t get it done by himself) then I say do it.

    Also sign Scott Hairston, and let him, Shierholtz, Campana and Seppalt compete for RF and the last 2 spots on the roster. Let them play until Soler and maybe Jackson are ready in the next year and a half, and hopefully Brown develops in that time frame.

  • mudge

    Relief. Can’t stand Swisher.

  • baldtaxguy

    I’m hope Sori stays. If he is traded, we would need a replacement ML level outfielder in return. But Soriano is necessary for this lineup for 2013, I’d hate to trade 20+ home runs for 10+.

  • Fastball

    I don’t think Wood is the odd man out. I think there will be 2 guys pitching in the 5 spot. It would be smart to keep Wood in along with Feldman, Baker or even Vallanueva. I think there is room for competition amongst those 3 as Baker is coming off TJ rehab, Vallanueva was a swing man in Toronto and Feldman fell out of the rotation in Texas. IMO they are all no. 5′s maybe a 4 right now. Baker could be better than that if healthy and Feldman could be better but I’m not anointing any of those guys to a starting job until they earn it. Last year Wood was a slow starter out of ST and even in April and May before he started pitching better. I hope they all show up in prime shape and ready to go. That would make things interesting. IMO there are only two guys who have locked up starting jobs going into ST. Garza and Shark. The rest have to battle it out IMO.

    • mattm

      HOw has Garza locked anything up? He has been hurt! I might have believed you if you had said Jackson and Samaj.

      • BWA

        Garza has a spot when he is healthy Guaranteed. Jackson and Shark are also Guaranteed.

  • CubFan Paul

    Brett what offensive upside does Gerardo Parra have? i’d rather have Adam Eaton, to see if his OBP #s translate to the majors.

    but with Parra being arb eligible for the 1st time, he’s probably the one (out of Parra, Eaton & Pollack) who’s on the trade block

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’d rather have Eaton, too – but so would the Dbacks.

  • Fastball

    Theo needs to step it up and outbid the Nationals on JP Howell. I don’t see Marmol being traded until the deadline. He will bring back more at that time than right now. I don’t want prospects unless they are Major League ready. We have a great draft spot so we can get all the prospects we need in this draft. If we trade Marmol I see Howell being our closer or a very good set up / closer along with Fujikawa. There is no reason to trade Marmol before the season. If we have a strong BP we could have enough pitching to be strong in April and May. I don’t think it’s going to take but 85 wins to take the NL Central or even get a WC. I see a lot of teams beating themselves up in the EAST and WEST. A lot of tough 18 game sets in both of those divisions with best teams. I believe the Reds will have injuries this year in their rotation and with position players. The Brewers haven’t improved and neither have the Cardinals IMO.

  • Fastball

    Eaton is going to be the everyday CF in AZ. He was on MLB radio yesterday talking about his job as starting CF for the snakes. I would trade McNutt and some non top 20 prospects to AZ for Parra. I don’t like trading prospects right now though. We should just get a real OF’er via FA and be done with it.

    I see no way we can afford to trade Soriano at this point. He brings to much value to the Cubs right now. Offensively he will out produce anybody you try replace him with. Nobody to protect Rizzo and his defense was very acceptable. I think his defense will improve over last year now that he has a coach. He said he was going to work on developing his defense even more and I believe him.

  • Fastball

    I spaced out and forgot Jackson. My bad. I give Garza a spot if he is healthy. I am making an assumption that he will be. If not then he is gauranteed nothing as far as rotation spot coming out of ST. It really won’t matter if he isn’t healthy he won’t be pitching anyway. But if he is healthy he will be the number 1 or 2 depending on Shark looks in ST. Jackson would be the 3 man IMO. The rest of the guys will have to battle it out for 4/5 spots. I would love to see Vizcaino show up ready to go. Now that would change my thought process. He would move into the 5 spot and split starts to keep his innings down. You could conceivably start Baker and cut him off at 4 innings then bring in Vizcaino and let him pitch the last 4 until they both are at full strength. That might be a very smart approach early in the season.

  • Fastball

    If I was betting on a landing spot for Soriano during the winter. It will be the Yankees. I don’t know what they Yankees have that we want. I would take Gardner to play CF for us in trade for Sori. At this point if Rivera doesn’t come back healthy out of ST I could see the Yanks coming after Marmol. Especially with the only pitching coach (Rothschild) who ever could keep Marmol together in New York. I would not be surprised if that happens. I think the Yankees of all teams are one of the most hurt by this off season. They lost Swisher, Soriano, Chavez, Martinez, Ibanaez. They need a run producer having lost Swisher and Arod being out most of next season. They are right up against the salary cap. Soriano would be a perfect fit for them at $5M. Who do they have that we want. If they had a 3b that was ready I would make a deal with them. I could be a block buster deal if you included Soriano and Marmol and say McNutt and Lake. I would want their best of the best though.

    • daveyrosello

      Yanks don’t have much in the way of upper level farm talent right now. Doesn’t seem like a trading partner fit, unless a 3-way trade could be worked out.

    • Voice of reason

      @ fastball…. I would hope you would take gardener for soriano! Everybody would except the Yankees!

      The yanks aren’t trading their starting left fielder for soriano.

      Do you know how silly that sounds.

      The pils don’t even want to part with brown for soriano and nobody else is asking about soriano so why would the Yankees all of a sudden give up their starting and proven left fielder for him?

      • Blublud

        Pretty sure the Phils would take a Brown for Sori swap. Im pretty sure the Cubs would want more.

        • Adventurecizin’ Justin

          What makes you so sure? Brown is cost-controlled and has stud potential. Soriano had a good year last year, but didn’t look very healthy. I’d predict that Soriano was lower on their list until Ross and Swisher signed elsewhere. I don’t think they are in a hurry to trade Brown, but might need to now.

        • Marcel91

          I think Brown would be a decent pickup for Sori. young, ML ready, potential 5-tool player is interesting to me. Unfortunately he’s the phils version of Josh Vitters for us. That one top prospect who seems like hes been there forever even though hes still young and just hasnt put it together yet so the team and fans lose faith in him too soon. He’s finally healthy and could be this year’s Josh Reddick. Nontheless I dont blame the cubs for trying to get more. 2yr 10mil for Sori is a bargain for any team.

          • Adventurecizin’ Justin

            Soriano could be a bargain for that amount, but I have a feeling that most GM’s would be leary of a guy who was hobling all over the place last year despite the numbers.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      They need a run producer having lost Swisher and Arod being out most of next season.

      The Yankees will bat run-creating players 1…9 in their lineup, just like they do every year. The Yankee OF of Gardner, Suzuki and Granderson will create more runs than any other. Would flipping Gardner for Sori creat a little more? Probably: but not that much more that it’s worth not having Gardner in 3 years.

      Gardner is also good for their PR, as he’s one of the few home-grown products they’ve produced in the last decade: but they still like to talk as if their “core” is fresh from the farm.
      v

  • Tom b

    I’m on the fence with Sori. If he’s traded, our offense is even weaker than it already is…

    • Marcel91

      If some of our young players make even slight improvements our offense will be ok without Sori. Rizzo for a full year(hit 38 bombs total last year), Castillo will quadruple the O we got from the catcher spot last year, Castro should continue to add power to his game, Bjax hits for good power, Shierholtz and Stewart have potential for 15-20hr each….if all goes well we should be fine.

      • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

        Stop trolling.

        Thanks

        • frank

          Are you calling optimists trolls, again?

        • TonyP

          WbW- Please go and read the definition of trolling. I thought Brett posted it for you yesterday…

        • Adventurecizin’ Justin

          Really? I enjoy Marcel91′s posts/perspectives.

        • MichiganGoat

          If this is a joke I don’t think it’s playing

        • Marcel91

          Wbw,

          [img]http://www.troll.me/images/futurama-fry/not-sure-if-trolling-or-stupid.jpg[/img]

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Well, look at it this way: the Cubs need to add 70 runs to be league average. That means with league average pitching (which the Cubs might have in 2013: and which is a huge improvement over 2012), you have a 0.500 team. And, of course, every now and then, a 0.500 team wins 90+ games a la the 2012 Orioles: but that’s a separate issue!

        The caveat is that if X happens and if Y happens and if Z happens starts to become pretty improbable even if any one of those things is not that improbable: these things are multiplicative, not additive.

        So, doing even just most of those things probably would be enough to get those 70 runs. However, we’d really need all of them for the Cubs to be able to compete without being really lucky: and that in itself would be lucky.

      • TonyS

        I agree Marcel. Those 3 (riz, castro, castillo) should improve the more they play. Stewart is the one to me that could improve the most if the wrist was the cause of most of his troubles.

      • Frank

        The BIGif is Stewart. Once upon a time, he was one of the top hitting prospets in all of baseball, #4 overall in 2007, I believe. If the wrist surgery finally fixes him, it would be huge.

        However, we still need Rizzo to duplicate 2012. Castro to improve upon 2012. Schierholtz/Sappelt platoon to work. And Acquiring Dom Brown and having him produce would be huge. After that, DeJesus, could be a decent leadoff and Castillo/Barney would probably be as good a 7-8 as most NL teams. Again, a lot of ifs.

  • Mike

    RIP Ryan Freel.

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Hear, Hear

  • The Show

    Scott Hairston anyone?

    • Blublud

      Please. I want him. Maybe the Mets re-sign him. But if not, I’ll take him.

  • cubzforlife

    What a shame about Ryan Freel. I can’t imagine the demons that force a healthy young man to take his own life.

    • Marcel91

      Link to the tragic story? I still havn’t been able to find any info on what happened.

  • Timmy

    Soriano for Pujols. They’re regretting that contract now.

    • Marcel91

      lol you’d think people would learn their lessons. Pujols’ deal still looks ridiculous a year later

    • Don

      You’d have to get the Angel’s owner drunk for Pujols for Soriano to happen!

      • Jimmy james

        I would hope you would have to get Theo drink to take that contravt

        • Tommy

          Think someone else might be a little drunk tonight. hmmmm ;)

          • Timmy

            indeed :D

    • Kevin B

      besides that fact the Angels do not feel that way, why would the Cubs want to take on Pujos 10 year anchor of a contract at the point of rebuilding the Cubs are at? You want to dump Rizzo and take on a 10 year $250 million bad contract for an aging slugger who who is no longer an all star and whose numbers will be declining as we are trying to get better and build a winner – not to mention the $30 million per year payments that come later that would kill our budget and flexibility. Heck we just got out of most of the bad contracts ……

  • Don

    Before last season I was ready to trade Sori for a six pack of beer. His value has definately gone up to where he is worth much more such as a top ten prospect especially if Cubs pay 26 million of his contract. If Cubs can’t get more keep him until trade deadline and a team will be willing to include a top 10 prospect plus other players and will throw in a case of beer!

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      Alot of people were saying the same thing. If they are being offered Dom Brown they need to take it, be cause there is no guarantee he will repeat next year.

      • Blublud

        If you look at Sori numbers, his season have been actually pretty consistent. It’s injuries that has effected him. When healthy, Sori has always been as solid as he was last year.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    absolutely. When you put it in context of the last 5 years, it was an anomaly. Something is causing the lack of interest. Age, knees, other considerations who knows, but if they gain a little salary relief and prospect who might be a suspect, and they turn up their nose it would be a mistake. Acting as though Soriano approximates 80% of last season is foolish.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    The Dodgers are trying to get rid of Juan Uribe..at one time a very good player…i wonder what it would take to get him??

    • Mr. Ashley Chavez

      He hasn’t really played that many games the last two seasons. Maybe, if the Cubs can get him cheaply, then hope he has a good year, he can be a good trade chip to have,

  • http://marmolesmm.com.mx/ marmol en mexico

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