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cubs theo epstein uh ohYou’re probably noticing that these Bullets are up in the wee hours of the morning. That isn’t inadvertent. The Wife and I are up right now, tentatively getting ready to head to the hospital for Baby Festival 2013. Nothing is certain just yet, and I’ll alert you when I’ve officially left the building, so to speak.

  • Theo Epstein continues his brutal honesty tour, this time in an interview with David Haugh. “What I want to avoid is the middle ground,” Epstein said. “It’d be nice to make the playoffs or get a protected draft pick [awarded the bottom ten teams]. We’re not hiding that. There’s no glory in 78 wins instead of 73. Who cares? We’re going to see where we are and take a real cold assessment in the middle of the season. If we have a legitimate chance to push for a playoff spot then 2013 can become our primary focus. If we think a playoff spot’s not in the cards, there will be no concern for appearances or cosmetics whatsoever. We’ll continue to address our future and trade off some pieces that would keep us respectable.” Have I mentioned how much I appreciate this guy? None of this is anything Epstein hasn’t said before, at least at the margins, but the guy is just putting it all on the table for fans to deal with: if the Cubs aren’t looking like a playoff contender come July, they’re stripping it down again to serve the twin purposes of adding young talent through trades, and having a record in the bottom ten in baseball. (By the way: having that protected first round pick matters only if the Cubs plan on going after some top free agents in the near future.)
  • Dale Sveum on prospect Junior Lake, per Carrie Muskat: “He looks better in games than he does when he’s doing his work. It’s like the game speeds up for him in [batting practice] and he slows it down in the game. That’s always a nice asset to have.”
  • Scott Baker threw 25 pitches successfully in live batting practice yesterday, and Arodys Vizcaino threw 25 in the bullpen. All good on those fronts so far.
  • The Cubs have one of the top 20 Dominican Summer League/Venezuelan Summer League Prospects according to Baseball America – right-handed pitcher Daury Torrez, who destroyed the DSL last year (which doesn’t mean much), and is likely to come over to the States this year.
  • Zack Greinke just went up in a lot of people’s estimation. Why? Because he admitted what we all already know to be true: when it came to free agency, he was all about the money.
  • More details from Bob Brenly on how his deal with WGN fell apart at the last minute.
  • Kerry Wood comes to Sammy Sosa’s defense, and says the Cubs should indeed consider retiring his jersey.
  • JR

    I completely agree with Theo. Being a .500 or just below team is absolutely worst case scenario. I really think this is true in most sports. In the NBA you really need lottery picks most of the time to get impact talent, and having a top 10 pick in the NFL is pretty cool too if you’re not making the playoffs. Although, I am surprised that Theo actually came out and said it. Hopefully this is the last year that the Cubs have to sell for awhile.

    • BluBlud

      I agree. There is nothing worse then what my Bucs did in football this year. We were 6-4, lost 5 straight to fall to 6-9 and then played our ass of and won the last game of the season. Why? Were knew we weren’t going to make the playoffs. All that did was cost us 3 spots in the draft. It was pointless. I’m not suggest a team should just tank, but it should be go for it or nothing. After all, there is only 1 champion and 29 second place teams in baseball. What second place spot you hold determines nothing as far as who is the best, as the “2nd” place team is just the best loser, so you might as well finish last at that point and get the best draft pick.

      • https://twitter.com/sperls13 sperls13

        I totally get where you are coming from (especially the Bucs reference, being a fellow fan), but I think almost every Cubs fan would take the “‘2nd’ place team is just the best loser” situation right now, with that meaning we would actually have finally gotten to a World Series.

        I want to win the whole thing more than anyone, but getting there would be a great start. People don’t remember all the playoff teams, but they do remember who was in the World Series.

  • TonyS

    Best of luck Taylor’s.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Luck for what? ;)

  • http://www.cwsnaturally.com Evolution

    Good people having nice babies…helps regenerate the universe.

    Go to it, AceCubbie.

  • CubFan Paul

    Hey Theo! Thank you Captain Obvious.

    • King Jeff

      Better than Captain “We need to get more left handed”

  • MichiganGoat

    Good luck with baby fest 2013

    • hansman1982

      We really need a 72 hour blog-a-thon going here…

  • Tommy

    HEY! Best wishes for a healthy and happy baby day for mom, dad, and baby, Brett!

  • Andy

    Man I love Kerry Wood. He admits to playing a part in smashing Sammy’s boombox, but in the same breath commends Sammy as a teammate, defends him and hopes the Cubs bring him back into the picture.

    • Al Spangler

      Too bad Sammy’s head wasn’t in it.

  • Fishin Phil

    Happy BabyFest Brett! Hope everyone is happy and healthy when all is said and done.

  • Ron

    Good luck Ace!

  • Jeff

    I think there is little chance we make the playoffs this year. In the remote chance we do, there is even less of a chance we would make it out of the first round. If you look at the free agent draft class next year it is deep. Having a protected first round pick would be huge. We can sign 2-3 big name players and get a top draft pick. 2014 looks like a year we can start making a run at things…

  • forlines

    Best wishes on the birth of your future Cub fan Brett!!

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

    The part I like is that we’re making that decision on which side of the middle ground we’re going for in July, not the previous November.

  • Morken

    No worries. The Cubs are going to finish with a bad record. Especially after trading away players throughout the entire season.

  • CUB5

    We won’t make the playoffs this year and we are still trying to offload players like Soriano who was one of our best contributors last year (without anyone replacing his production). Guys like Hairston and Valbuena won’t make much of a difference IMO. I know where they are going, but still hate to see so many 1 year contracts. I don’t see this year getting any better. The only saving grace can be our pitching.

  • Saving Grace

    I never thought the Cubs had a plan to contend this year.
    The high draft pick and international pool money is to valuable when rebuilding in this mode.

    However i think that contending next year 2014 or 2015 is a bit unrealistic also.

    If the major influx of young talent is coming at the end of 2014 and really for the 2015 season we have to expect growing pains as they transition.So i am being very realistic in my mind thinking 2016 and on is when the Cubs will be primed to contend.With a strong farm system in place and the money to resign all of the players who pan out they will be in a unique position to contend for years.
    I don’t know what all of you think about this ?
    But i’ve been a Cubs fan since the 60’s and am going to be very patient and not raise my expectations as a large influx of kids hit the majors over the end of 2014 and the 2015 season

    I actually hope they are bad enough to get a top draft pick this year and a top 10 in 2014.

    I just think it’s been so long that doing it right is the best way.I’m buying into the long range plan

    • cjdubbya

      I guess I hope that they surprise and make the playoffs this year, but realize that is likely not the case. Never want to see the Cubs lose on any given day, but if it’s going to go south, then make it worth your while. Get what you’re saying, of course.

  • CCunt

    I hope all goes well with #2 Ace, and I hope for your sake, it’s a boy.

  • Le Cubs

    I have heard alot of stuff about next years free agent class. Who realistically would the Cubs go after?

  • North Side Irish

    From the BA write up on Daury Torrez…

    “Torrez ranked third in ERA and had the lowest walk rate in the league, with just four walks to the 280 batters he faced”

    I know it’s the DSL, but I love seeing a young pitcher who isn’t giving up walks and that rate is just ridiculous.

  • Wrigleyvillewest

    And Cubs nation grows ever larger…

  • Cooper

    Right now, the projected 2014 free agent list includes:

    Robinson Cano, Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Roy Halladay, Shin-soo Choo, Brian McCann, Timmy Lincecum, Matt Garza, Hunter Pence, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart, Phil Hughes.

    Also guys with club options include:

    Ben Zobrist, Chris B. Young, Jon Lester, James Shields.

  • Mike S

    Honestly, the best thing the Cubs can do is be the worst team in baseball and have that number one draft pick. Making the playoffs and not winning the World Series would be just as much of a dissapointment as being a .500 team. Getting value for guys who will not figure into our winning years ahead of us and having the best possible draft pick are what the Cubs need to be a contender in 2014 and beyond.

    I just hope we can get a top draft pick without our key guys having poor seasons. Hopefully, Castro, Rizzo, Smardjz, Castillo, and both Jacksons can have strong, encouraging seasons while our record only suffers because we sold heavy at the deadline.

    • Edwin

      The best thing the Cubs can do is draft well at whatever spot they wind up in, develope players, make smart trades, and make smart FA signings. They don’t need to be awful just to rebuild the farm system, or to build a contending team. The Cardinals have a much better farm system than the Cubs, and have been a good to great team for a LONG time now.

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        Yes, drafting well is important, but it would be cool to get that first pick in 2014. At this point, that pick is considered a no doubt about it, ace quality left hander. Those are tough to find. And who cares if they win 58 or 71 games.

        • Edwin

          Me. Winning only 58 games sucks. Winning 71 games also sucks, but slightly less.

          • davidalanu

            Yeah, I understand what Theo is saying, and by and large I agree with it. But at some point telling the players, by word or deed, that winning games just isn’t important is sending a bad message. This may be especially true for young players.

  • DarthHater

    I have no problem if Theo wants to say something like: “Once we are out of the playoff picture, we will be looking at any move that can help the team’s long-term outlook, without regard to short-term impact. If that means we lose a few more games this year, at least it will also mean we get a better draft pick.”

    But I think it’s a mistake to pose the issue as wanting either to make the playoffs or lose enough games to get a protected draft pick. I just don’t believe a professional sports team should ever be deliberately losing games or making it look like they are trying to deliberately lose. It’s demoralizing to a lot of fans, it’s demoralizing to the guys who have to go out and play every day (are they supposed to try to win or not?), and it can’t make the organization look any better to free agents. In addition, in my book, it just smells bad.

    • hansman1982

      I think he is saying the former. That once they are out of the playoff race, final record be damned we are getting young assets and evaluating those assets. If that means they lose every game from that point on out, that sucks, but, oh well.

  • Die hard

    Saw Carp play as rookie and he was available as of few days ago- young with pop in bat

    • Edwin

      Stay gold Die Hard. Stay gold.

    • DarthHater

      The Red Sox acquired Carp in a trade a week ago.

  • Crazyhorse

    From day 1 the Cubs new front office has lied to its fans . They said that top free agents would be sought and signed. The fan base is still waiting .Then they retreated into a rebuild mode when no one signed. They have made mistakes (hopefully it was mistakes and not a deliberate method to decrease payroll and ensure high draft picks) They made bad trades . failed to resign certain individuals to make the Cubs a competitive team. They shop for players at discounted prices which is smart unless that is one game plan. its like Richie Rich living in a two bedroom apartment – with one bedroom exclusively for his treasures.

    Theo Epstein is a fraud and grand master puppet with his strings entwine with Rickets hands – soon , one will not know the Difference between the master and its puppet.

    I do have faith in Theo Epstein ability to develop and draft talent . I am not surprise by his back door methods to sign broken down players to cast a hope of optimism while gaining high draft picks. We are talking about an individual that has a moral character to be a quitter and crybaby all in the sake for money and power.

    The Cubs are a funny bunch-

    • mr. mac

      Oh no. Not this again.

    • #23

      wow, I am glad you are not the Cubs’ gm. The way the Cubs’ front office is operating is sooo refreshing after suffering through past years of Marlins-type failed quick fixes.

    • Edwin

      You’re completely wrong. The whole point of Richie Rich is that even though he seems like a kid that has it all, without true friends, he has nothing. Its only after he learns this lesson that he realizes what friendship is all about. I hope I didn’t spoil the movie for you.

      Also, I don’t think you know how puppets work. There’s the puppet, and there’s the strings. The master controls the puppet’s movements. The Puppet can’t control itself, that would be impossible. I would know, I’ve seen at least 5 puppet shows.

      • hansman1982

        Unless he is inferring that Epstin AND Ricketts are the puppets, all controlled by the shadow hand of Big Papa Ricketts!

        Big Papa Rickets controls Puppett Tom controls Puppet Theo.

        God, how did we not connect the dots before Crazyhorse and his beautiful mind unlocked the secret!

        • Edwin

          I have a feeling this line of comments will be a waste of your – and what is infinitely worse – my time.

          • MichiganGoat

            It has already become that waste…. damn now I’m wasting my time… damn horses the always destroy the barn.

            • Cubbie Blues

              If only we had a mule. :)

              • hansman1982

                I thought that was your job…

              • MichiganGoat

                Mules are great drinking buddies and they can drag anything home if you have too much.

                • ETS

                  Is this drinking mule from moscow per chance?

        • frank

          You realize you’re encouraging him . . .

      • Crazyhorse

        Edwin you are correct in your analogy ! I blame Ricketts and Little Richie learned his lesson. little theo well not so mush, and the stings well – when does the puppet becomes its own master . Pinocchio or Jester in the Puppet Master?

        • Fishin Phil

          I’ll thank you to leave us puppets out of this!

          • MichiganGoat

            Us goats also feel bad we have plenty of horse friends but this one is…. what word am I look for…. hmmmm…. CRAZY

            • Edwin

              Goats don’t have friends. Or souls.

              • MichiganGoat

                NOOO WE TAKE SOULS…

        • Edwin

          I’d have used a Christmas Carol instead of Richie Rich. or Duck Tales. I don’t know how yet, but those are the ones I’d have used.

    • Leroy

      But Theo also said this won’t be done overnight. I agree, we don’t need any “quick fixes” solutions. They haven’t worked in the past, and they haven’t worked for any other teams.

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8248/8514393102_12c589b165_m.jpg[/img]

  • Pingback: WSD: Theo tells it like it is |

  • Chris

    “It’d be nice to make the playoffs or get a protected draft pick [awarded the bottom nine teams]. We’re not hiding that. There’s no glory in 78 wins instead of 73. Who cares?”

    This is what I’ve been saying the entire off-season, and hence why I’m not gleeful over the Edwin Jackson signing. I feel he has the ability to help place us in that middle-tier category that is absolutely unhelpful. Of course, I do understand that ideal free agent signings won’t be available all at once, and at times, you need to take a piecemeal approach.

    That said, I’d rather lose 100+ games than win 81 and not be in the playoff picture.

    • Edwin

      The 81 win team is much closer to being competative sooner than the 62 win team.

      • hansman1982

        You should try to build as competative of a team as you can.

        Now if that team doesn’t look competative, you should ALWAYS look to dump guys with expiring contracts, guys on career years, anyone who isn’t a long-term asset for younger guys.

  • Bill

    I can understand Theo’s comments in regards to 2013, but if this is future philosophy of the organization then I think it’s a bad one. Let’s say the team puts together a playoff team in 2014 then in 2015 the team is hit with a bunch of injuries, so they are playing under .500 ball at the break. According to Theo’s comments is time to sell, sell, sell. Why? Sure, you might not win in 2015, but the team would have been a playoff contender without the injuries. Why trade off pieces just so you get one of the top 10 picks? Those players could be valuable pieces in 2016, and if you trade them away, you’ll need to replace them with as good or better players.

    The 2013 team isn’t very good, so this strategy has merit, but once you build a winner, this philosophy makes no sense. There are all kinds of reasons a team can have a bad year, but that doesn’t mean you tear down the wall and rebuild.

    • BWA

      I don’t think Theo was talking about the situation you described. He is putting together a winner, and once we have it I doubt he plans to destroy it for picks. However, with the second round this year and a top 10 next year, we should have top talent reinforcements coming in through 2016-2017.

    • Cubbie Blues

      That’s not what he is saying. You develop the core whether that be 4 players or 8. Then those are almost but, not quite off limits. The other players (role players) are the ones that get sold off or even elite players you don’t intend on resigning do to aging performance. You turn those short term or assets into young assets, long term, assets.

      assets assets assets

      • Bill

        That’s not at all what he said. I’m not saying this is probably what he wants to do but it has nothing to do with what he said in his comments.

    • Danny Ballgame

      I don’t see where he said any of the things that you are implying. Build a contender and keep contending. That’s the plan

      “If we have a legitimate chance to push for a playoff spot then 2013 can become our primary focus. If we think a playoff spot’s not in the cards, there will be no concern for appearances or cosmetics whatsoever. We’ll continue to address our future and trade off some pieces that would keep us respectable.”

      • Bill

        You conveniently leave out the first part of his quote, which is the part I was addressing. This is why I said if he’s only talking about 2013, then I agree with Theo… The first part leaves it open as to whether he was only talking about 2013 or if he believes, in the future, it would be better to finish in the bottom ten if they don’t make the playoffs.

        • Hansman1982

          If we are only allowed to take his quote verbatim and as a stand alone quite, then I don’t see how you could possibly extrapolate it to 2014. All he talks about is this season.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “According to Theo’s comments is time to sell, sell, sell.”

      No it isn’t. For one thing, if a team is that badly derailed by injuries, then the tradable goods are on the DL, and thus not available. Second, the idea is to obtain good parts for the future with guys that won’t help you in the future: but if your team is derailed by injuries, then you have those parts.

      • Bill

        Not necessarily. You could have plenty of tradeable pieces that aren’t hurt. Maybe a key player who missed the first couple of months. Take someone like Maholm last season. He wasn’t one of the core pieces, but was having a nice year and a nice player to have for the next 2-3 years. A very tradeable player.

        Again, if he’s talking about 2013 only, I have no problem with his comment. If it’s playoff or finish last (ie securing a top 10 draft pick) then I have a problem if he’s talking about doing this in future seasons.

        I agree with your 2nd point, but that’s not what Theo said. He said, it’s better to finish last than middle of the pack. How do you do that without selling off valuable pieces for prospects? All I’m saying, is once the ship has been righted then a season where we finish middle of the pack could certainly be preferable to taking action to ensure the team fnish last (by selling away key parts).

        • Hansman1982

          What you’re leaving out is the hundreds of previous comments theo has said.

          If any team has zero chance of making the playoffs come July then they should do everything in their power to move the “Maholm” type players from their teams. The 2011 Cubs were a prime example of this. Hendry sat on his butt when he had several movable pieces and the only player he did trade he got jack diddly squat for.

          Theo isn’t talking about an offseason approach but the in season approach. If your team misses the playoff it is better to miss it and get a top pick than hold on to guys just for the sake of 5-7 wins.

          This should be their approach every year. Build the best team you can. If that team is 10 games out in July then sell like mad.

          • Bill

            I’m sorry but this makes little sense. Sure, there may be situations where you trade the Maholm, but if he can help you win the next 2-3 years, why trade him away for prospects? You don’t gut the team just to get a better draft position. To make a blanket statement that any team out of playoff contention should be dumping assets in Jul is ridiculous. You have to look at each player and see if they can help you the following year, what’s on the FA market that winter, are there prospects who could replace the player, etc.

            You don’t necessarily sell like mad. You sell like mad if it makes you better the following years, if not, you don’t sell.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              You trade Maholm and guys like him who are on short-term contracts, and who thus won’t be around in 2-3 years, or even next year in many cases. That is an important part of the equation you seem to be admitting.

            • bbmoney

              I agree making that blanket statement would be stupid. I don’t see where that blanket statement is made though. Seems he’s pretty specifically talking about the 2013 Cubs. For which I think the statement is entirely appropriate.

              I also don’t see where he says anything about just dumping assets without looking at their long term value. I think his 2012 in season trades show pretty clearly he looks at each situation. No one he traded (unless I’m missing someone..Dempster, Maholm, Soto, Johnson, Baker) was controlled past 2013…….so they weren’t in a position to help contribute to the Cubs past this year.

  • DPRagen

    If this latest example of the drivel coming out of Epstein’s mouth doesn;t convince everyone he is a bonehead then I can’t imagine what would

    • cubsnivy56

      So, what is your plan? What is your profession?

    • DarthHater

      Yes, this drivel certainly provides convincing proof that someone is a bonehead…

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

    The best part for Epstein is that if the team does tank its way to 72 wins or fewer, he can avoid the expectations of taking the next step forward for yet another year. 80 wins makes fans itchy for more. 72 wins gets them excited about draft picks and prospect lists, which is infinitely easier on Epstein.

    • DarthHater

      And yet yesterday you were comparing him to a chess grandmaster…

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

        Not all grandmasters are created equal. Right now, he’s like Ivanchuk. So talented when he feels like putting in a full effort, so that it’s maddening that he never quite reaches the heights it seems like he should.

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

          Or maybe Anand. Still has the title of champion on paper, but everyone knows he’s lost a step and isn’t the best like he once was.

    • Bill

      Theo seems to be laying the groundwork for having another lousy season and extending, by another year, before we ever see the playoff. Too many people get excited about draft picks and “prospects”, ignoring that at some time Theo needs to put a winner on the field. If Theo guts the team this year and they win 65 games, people will say, “we can’t expect them to win next year, it’s too great a hill to climb from 65 to 85+ wins”. I’m starting to believe Theo is a genius, but not for the reasons everyone else thinks. He tells the sheep what to believe and they follow.

      • cub2014

        theo says he is looking for long term sustained
        success he is doing it the right way. Now that being
        said; I expect them to turn the corner in 2014 (as in
        playoffs) for that year they will need to add a starting
        pitcher and a probably a 3rd baseman. I dont see
        one that soon from the system. Probably an outfielder
        as well. With Garza Samardizja and jackson you have
        a solid 2-3-4 starters. They will have to go out and get
        a #1, then look at the options for a #5. That rotation makes
        you a playoff team.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, cause winning 85 games in a year with 5 upcoming free agents means jack diddly for the following year.

        I doubt many fans would be pleased with 3 straight years of 90+ losses under the Theo regime and if you see, both years Theo has added long-term assets to the team.

        You are trying to take Theo’s word literally and then put a doom and gloom spin on it so they fit your narrative.

        • Bill

          So, we shouldn’t take Theo’s word literally, but rather put our own spin on the situation? LOL. I’ve made my position clear that my only problem with his statement is if this is a blanket policy. Granted, one could fairly assume he’s only talking about 2013, but one could easily assume he’s not talking just about 2013. With Theo you have to read every word carefully as he parses his words/phrases like a former lawyer who’s now a politician. I know everyone here wants to give Theo the benefit of the doubt, I’m just more skeptical because I know Theo chooses his words very carefully, and I could see him giving us the “Depends on what your definition of the word ‘is’ is”.

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