cubs drop ball soriano johnson failI’d planned to get back to the “regular” schedule today, but life is an actual thing that exists, as opposed to some pen marks on a calendar – The Wife and The Little Girl seem to have some kind of bug (I’m either the last man standing, or on the verge of a sickness explosion, myself), so I don’t know how my posting today will be affected as I attend to their needs. And now I’ll try to bang out some Bullets in between cries for help …

  • Yesterday was January 1st, which means writers wanted to create resolutions for baseball teams … SI’s Cliff Corcoran says the Cubs resolve to avoid last place. “The Astros’ defection to the American League West would seem to make the Cubs, who finished fifth in each of the last three seasons, the de facto last-place team in the NL Central in 2013. Chicago would prefer not to be so easily pigeonholed. There are some reasons for optimism. There’s promise in the front of the team’s rotation, with Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson, and depth behind those three via the additions of Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva, incumbent Travis Wood, and post-Tommy John cases Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino. Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa pushes everyone else in the bullpen up an inning, and there’s potential in the lineup with a full-season of Anthony Rizzo in the three-spot, the continued maturation of Starlin Castro and up-side plays in rookies Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, sophomore catcher Welington Castillo and veteran slugger Alfonso Soriano, who had a solid 2012 campaign. The Cubs aren’t going to contend, but if another team in their division falters, the Pirates and Brewers being the most likely candidates, Chicago could surprise everybody and slip into fourth place.” Kind of feels right, as ugly as it is.
  • A side note on the Astros’ move to the AL: long-term, I think we’re going to be happy that they’re gone from the NL Central. I expect the Astros to be very good for a long time within three to four years.
  • ESPN’s David Schoenfield’s Cubs resolution is more succinct, and decidedly more optimistic: “To remind fans that although we lost 100 games for the first time since 1966, we won 87 games in 1967.” I don’t think too many folks would complain about the Cubs winning 87 games in 2013, which would actually put them right on the cusp of a playoff appearance.
  • Patrick Mooney does as Patrick Mooney does, and puts together an informative and entertaining Cubs “A to Z” for 2013, which is exactly what you think it is. Among the ones that probably catch your eye is the letter P: “Platform years: Phil Hughes will be 27 – and maybe the most interesting pitcher on the market – after his walk season with the New York Yankees. Super-agent Scott Boras will no doubt want to get the Cubs in on Jacoby Ellsbury and the media will play up the Boston Red Sox connections this front office has with the dynamic (and often injured) outfielder. If they want big-ticket free agents, the Cubs will be in position to strike.” The free agent market next year will be – as will probably be the case for many years to come – what we consider “thin,” but I’ve said all along that I see next offseason as the time the Cubs will make a couple of bigger strikes.
  • Speaking of 2014, Mike over at the Message Board agrees that 2014 is when the Cubs will be “going for it.”
  • If third base prospect Dustin Geiger is any indication, Cubs prospects are headed to Arizona to begin their work for the year as soon as today. Gotta love the spirit of getting right back into things on the turn of the calendar.
  • Theo Epstein headlines the newest edition of Vine Line.
  • FanGraphs with a look at pitch type and catcher receiving, which could be a subject of great interest to Cubs fans as Welington Castillo takes over as the primary backstop.
  • Rizzo44

    Jacoby Ellsbury?? Wow that would be nice for the right price…

  • Rizzo44

    But Phil Hughes… I don’t know about that one. Is rather take our chances with Josh Johnson.. I know Theo and Jed will make the right decision. 2014 would be very interesting with a rotation like Josh Johnson, Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, Arodys Viscaino, and Carlos Villanueva.

    • hansman1982

      Change out Garza for Shark and Villanueva for ??? and you might not be too far off.

  • Nate Corbitt

    Brett, you aren’t the last man standing. It’s going to hit you eventually, and it’s going to hit you hard.

  • Chris

    Where’s Samardjza in your projected rotation?

    • Rizzo44

      Oh wow I totally forgot about him.. back to work for me. I’m very tired lol

  • Edwin

    I always assumed Brett was a Cyborg who was incapable of being sick.

    • Brett

      Sometimes the gears need some oil. Otherwise, you’re right.

  • RoughRiider

    In my home I’m the last Man no longer standing.

    “To remind fans that although we lost 100 games for the first time since 1966, we won 87 games in 1967.”
    The 1967 team had 5 future HOFers on it.

    • terencemann

      Yeah, let’s be a little cautious with the optimism for 2013. In any case, I think they’ve done a good job of signing so many pitchers that they can trade a few and not put us through what happened in the second half of ’12.

      • cubzforlife

        Three weeks ago my illness started with a cold, a few days later flu like stuff started then deep cough with green stuff. This was the worst I’ve had ever. Most of my co workers had some form of this virus. Makes one think of contagion. I hope this strain hasn’t left Chicago for your part of the world. Happy New Year.

  • Jacob

    With David Price signing an “extension” do you guys think this means he’ll be traded next offseason (2013/2014) or the following season/offseason (2014/2015)? You’d think they’d trade him with an extra year in order to get more value, right?

    • Brett

      He didn’t sign an extension – he avoided arbitration. Totally normal and procedural. Has nothing at all to do with trade talks.

      • Jacob

        I know it’s not a real extension, that’s why I put it in quotes. But it does effect his trade talks, doesn’t it? The deal symbolizes that the Rays are going to try to shop him, right? That’s what I’ve been hearing anyways. If they weren’t planning on trading him then they would have actually tried to extend him..

        • hansman1982

          The fact he didn’t sign an extension several years ago means the Rays are going to trade him. His 1-year deal did nothing to change that.

          • Jacob

            Okay, fair enough. Thanks.

          • Voice of reason

            The fact didn’t sign an extension years ago means he will be traded?

            That makes no sense what so ever.

            • hansman1982

              The Rays are a team that is more than willing to trade the risk of major injury derailing a career if it means they don’t have the risk of paying and/or losing a guy by signing an extension early.

              Now, they could prove me 100% wrong and sign Price to a giant extension but the fact that he isn’t under cheap team control for another 3-4 years makes it incredibly likely that Price is traded.

        • Brett

          I’m saying I don’t see any connection whatsoever – even now they could still extend him, and include 2013 in the agreement. This is just the normal process, since he was already under control for 2013. I don’t mean this in a rude way or anything – I’m just saying I see no connection at all between this news and trade talks, even when talking about the lack of a true extension. Guys avoid arbitration and then sign extensions all the time.

          • hansman1982

            This is the Rays we are talking about here. (Is this sentence grammatically correct? Seems goofy.)

            • Brett

              And I’m definitely not saying he’s going to get extended this offseason – I’m pretty sure he won’t. I’m just saying avoiding arbitration and trade talks have no connection whatsoever. If he’s going to be traded next offseason (and he probably is), it just has nothing to do with this news.

              • Jacob

                The only reason I brought it up was because I heard people talking about how it symbolizes him on the market, if there wasn’t certainty of it already. I can see where you’re coming from though, and I agree with you after reading what you say.

            • Turn Two

              Pretty sure the rays have a big tv deal after 2014, he will not be leaving if that’s the case.

    • hansman1982

      It’s not an extension…just a 1-year deal to avoid arbitration.

      And yes, he will be traded next offseason.

      • Jacob

        I just called it an extension because I didn’t know what to call it.. poor choice of wording.

  • kmr1453

    From Patrick Mooney’s article:
    Distraction-free zone: At times, Dale Sveum was left with a Triple-A roster last season, but the front office did him a favor by getting rid of some divisive personalities. In Year 2, the manager will have to deal with increased expectations, while also maintaining that professional, no-nonsense clubhouse.

    This one caught my eye. Who were the divisive personalities they got rid of? Rudy and Pat??

    • Brett

      Zambrano would be the big one, I’m assuming. Mooney is saying Sveum was lucky not to have to deal with certain guys in 2012, even though it resulted in a crummy roster.

  • Kyle

    I don’t like to make the binary distinction between “going for it” and “not,” but it finally seems like we’re acting like a team that wants to hit it big in 2014.

    Obviously a dozen+ things will happen to change this in the next 10 months or so, but here’s a rough sketch of where we stand for 2014 right now:

    The more I think about it, the more I expect to see us in on a medium-term outfielder in the next six weeks. I’m not sure we have a single one I feel comfortable with for 2014, and we need an Edwin Jackson type to stabilize it so we don’t have so much to pick up in one offseason. If not Bourn, a trade.

    • Voice of reason

      What is a medium term outfielder? Please give an example.

  • kmr1453

    Not ending the season in last place has to do with how other teams perform. It’s out of the Cubs control. I would prefer the Cubs’ resolution be not having another 100+ loss season. That is something the organization has some control over. You draft better. You coach better. You play better.

  • Voice of reason

    What does hit it big mean?

    This team will Lose between 90 and 100 games this year. Ownership knows this fact and accepts it.

    There is no way that they will be in a position to hit it big in 2014… Unless you mean hit it big is .500??

  • BD

    I think part of the “going for it” or “spending big” plan of next offseason is that it gives them an additional season to see what all the young prospects do. WIth some good developments in A/A+, the Cubs could have a lot of pieces for making a couple big trades next winter.

  • CubFan Paul

    i see Price getting $10M in arbitration as another gigantic reason to extend Samardzija now for 4-7yrs. The prices for top of rotation pitching will only get higher. There’s no need to pay $10M a year to a arb eligible pitcher who you don’t plan on trading

    • Marcel91

      I want to see Shark do it for another half-season first. If hes still good then yeah but out his arb years and a few agent years as well. Based on what pitchers are getting 5yr 55mil should be a bargain for Samardzija.

  • Voice of reason

    Those are some very big ifs. Right now we don’t have one prospect ready to play center, right or third base. That’s why we signed Stewart and schierholtz and why were starting dejesus.

    Its absurd to think this team will be ready to really compete in 2014. Finishing .500 in 2014 is a fairly reasonable goal, but right now we have no rookies ready to step into the line up opening day. That’s not good news if you want to compete in 2014!!

    • Marc N.

      Not having any rookies set for 2014 is reason to believe we won’t compete in 2014? Not sure I get that one.

      • Voice of reason

        Were not going to fill all the holes with free agents. Were going to build the major league team through our minor leagues.

        The fact that we don’t have any rookies stepping up into the starting line up spells trouble if younexpect to compete in 2014. Or, do you expect to have 4 minor leaguers step up and perform at top level in 2014?

        Don’t know how much clearer it can be made.

        • Drew7

          They still have half of the current offseason, deadline deals, and another entire offseason to fill those holes.

          A rookie stepping in to fill one of those spots would be great, but I don’t think the fact that none project to now means the team can’t compete.

  • Muck

    Would they be at Hohokam? I’m visiting Arizona this week so

  • ncsujuri

    What is the threshold for having your draft pick protected from signing free agents? I would hope that we are at least bad enough this year to have it protected next off season if we are going to be in on bigger name free agents like Ellsbury, etc. who likely will receive qualifying offers.

    • Brett

      Gotta be in the top 10 picks (so, assuming all picks this year sign, one of the 10 worst teams). Seems more likely than not, at this point.