God’s Benevolence Watch: Positive Injury Updates on Stewart, Castro, Lillibridge, Vitters, and Garza

gods-benevolenceChicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum gave a number of injury updates yesterday, and they were all positive. That’s new.

The biggest turnaround came with respect to Ian Stewart and his ailing quad. Literally one day after saying that Stewart was unlikely to return until the weekend at the earliest, and that it seemed like his recovery was getting pushed back every day, Sveum said Stewart would make his Cactus League return on Thursday (off the bench). And Sveum no longer sounds like a guy who doubts that Stewart will be with the club on April 1. This comes after more than a week of I-don’t-know-if-he’ll-have-enough-time-to-make-this-team type rhetoric.

“I think there’s plenty of time now,” Sveum told the media. “We were a little bit worried that it would be next week but everything’s gotten a little bit quicker.”

Well, all right, then. Given the abrupt about-face with respect to not only Stewart’s return date, but also the “plenty of time” thing, it’s fair to wonder if Sveum got a note from the front office. For his part, Stewart said on Sunday that he thought he could return earlier than Sveum was saying, so maybe the Cubs just decided to defer to Stewart’s sense of his own body. Either way, he’ll now have two weeks of game action to go before camp ends.

(If you’re inclined toward cynicism, you’d note that Friday is the deadline for the Cubs to cut Stewart if they want to save 5/6th of his contract – but, teams are not permitted to cut non-guaranteed players of Stewart’s ilk for injury reasons (it has to be for poor performance). So, unless he returned to game action before Friday, they couldn’t even argue that they were releasing him for baseball reasons. No, I don’t think this actually has anything to do with his return this week. There’s a second deadline by which the Cubs could cut Stewart and save 3/4 of his contract, which comes at the end of Spring Training. That’s the far more relevant deadline … and even that one, I don’t think the Cubs will seriously consider it.)

Also on the injury update front:

  • Starlin Castro, who’s been over his hamstring issue for days now, will start on Wednesday. He was, essentially, just getting extra rest.
  • Matt Garza, who had been shut down for the second time after he suffered a lat strain during his first BP session of the Spring nearly a month ago, played catch yesterday from 45 feet. It was a “take it easy” kind of session, and he’ll throw again Wednesday, if he doesn’t feel any issues. If he can keep going from here, it’s possible he’ll miss just the first two weeks of the season, rather than the first month.
  • Josh Vitters, who is recovering from an identical quad strain as Stewart (must’ve been something they ate), is also expected to return to game action later this week. With an understanding that he’s going to start the year at AAA, and the Cubs needing to get more at bats for the guys trying to/expected to make the team, I don’t think Vitters will get too many Cactus League appearances under his belt before he’s sent to minor league camp. It was just a badly timed injury for him.
  • Brent Lillibridge has missed a hair over a week with a groin strain, but he’s expected to play off the bench Wednesday. He had the inside track on a bench job before he went down, so he’ll have to remind the Cubs of what he can do in these last couple weeks of Spring. He’s not on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs will have to do some shuffling if they want to keep him.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

190 responses to “God’s Benevolence Watch: Positive Injury Updates on Stewart, Castro, Lillibridge, Vitters, and Garza”

  1. Timothy Scarbrough

    I feel concerned that we are getting this much injury news at once. It seems like something major is around the corner.

  2. fromthemitten

    I’m actually okay with Garza missing a couple weeks to start the season. Keep him down in XST and out of the cold (which is hell on strains and the like) while giving Feldman/Wood/Villanueva a chance to figure out which one of them is going to the bullpen

  3. Stu

    No way that Stewart does not make the team and is cut. That would really seal Theo making a bad trade for him last year.

    You can always bank on the “smartest guys in the room” not admitting mistakes.

    1. DB Kyle

      He already explicitly admitted that trade was a mistake.

      1. Boogens

        Nice call. You’re absolutely correct. He did say something like they moved him too quickly without knowing him well enough.

    2. CubFan Paul

      Yeah, that makes sense. Theo&Co’s ego will decide who’s on 3B not whether or not Stewart shows that he can hit in the next 2 weeks.

      1. hansman1982

        Or it’s that Stewart and Valbuena are likely to provide you with nearly similar production therefore you play the guy you pay more HOPING that he earns his paycheck.

        1. CubFan Paul

          Valbuena is a 2B or a utility guy, not a slugging 3B. We need Stewart healthy and playing everyday if we want to have a productive bench (Valbuena).

          Cutting Stewart in favor of a utility player hurts the team.

          1. DB Kyle

            Stewat has five home runs in his last 300 plate appearances. Maybe it’s time to accept he’s not a slugging 3b, either.

            1. DarthHater

              His poor performance was either due to injury or it was not. Everybody understands by now that you think it was not due to injury. Others obviously think it is too soon to draw that conclusion. Maybe it’s time to accept that time will tell.

              1. DB Kyle

                The worst part of that stretch was the first four months of 2011, where by his own words his wrist wasn’t bothering him.

                1. CubFan Paul

                  That’s because he wanted to play. He lost his job in Colorado because of the injury. What’s wrong with at least trying to play thru pain?

              2. hansman1982

                Interesting how his sample size picking goes from the period he hit 5 homers in 200 PA through the period he hit 0 homers in 130 PA and then stops before the 50 homers in 1200 PA.

                egWkU

                1. DB Kyle

                  The last two years seems to be a little more relevant than what happend as many as five years ago while playing in Colorado.

                  2009 Ian Stewart isn’t walking through that door to be the Cubs’ third baseman.

                  1. DB Kyle

                    Another good test of whether or not a guy can be considered a slugger:

                    Has he been outhomered by Tony Campana in any recent season?

                    1. King Jeff

                      Can you out-homer someone without hitting a homer?

                    2. King Jeff

                      Wow, didn’t see that one. I didn’t know little Campy had it in him. It wouldn’t have happened to have been an inside the park shot, would it?

                    3. DB Kyle

                      No, but how quickly you’ve forgotten:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69I3fA8BcIk

                    4. hansman1982

                      Ya, it was an inside-the-parker that was a TERRIBLE misplay by a guy who has no business being in LF.

                      Literally, the only way Campana has ever hit more than a double.

                  2. DarthHater

                    I would really like to learn more about your views on this subject. You should write up a 15,000 word analysis on Ian Stewart to post here. And don’t distract yourself by posting anything else until this important project is completed. :-P

                    1. DB Kyle

                      Don’t worry. “Ian Stewart Sucks and Is Awful and Was a Mistake and I Hate Him, Volume 1″ hits bookstores next month. It ends on a cliffhanger, so be on the lookout for volume 2.

                    2. DB Kyle

                      Essentially, this is my reaction to anything positive about Ian Stewart:

                      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/04/10

                  3. hansman1982

                    Very true; however, I am not going to let 136 PA outweigh the surrounding (going back three years) 643 PA.

                    I’m not holding out for a 125 OPS+ guy but if we could get some mixture of 2010 and 2012 and get a 95-100 OPS+ guy that gives above-average defense, I’ll take it.

                  4. hansman1982

                    Also, if I remember correctly, Stewart was hamped by a bad back/side in ST of 2011. Otherwise, it’s kinda odd that Colorado’s starting 3B only got 28 PA in April 2011.

                    Now, I will not disagree that Stewart may be a guy who can’t stay healthy, but to proclaim that he is no longer a “slugging 3B” is a bit much.

                    1. DB Kyle

                      Again: 5 home runs in his last 338 PAs (got PAs and ABs mixed up before).

                      There’s also the fact that his “new swing” last year produced a significant increase in his ground ball rate, which lowers the expected home runs you’d project from him. And GB rate stabilizes extremely quickly, so no sample-size issues.

                    2. hansman1982

                      I could also dwindle that down to 5 homers in his last 170ish PA.

                      There is also the wrist-injury which saps power and would increase GB rate.

                      What I find interesting (not really, I know you hate Stewart) is that your sample weights 2 years ago equally with last year.

                      Since 2011, power wise, does not follow what happened in 2010 or 2012, it seems to be an outlier. Same with his 2012 GB rate, it doesn’t match anything he had done previously. Now, it’s entirely possible that the 55% GB rate (15-20 percentage points higher than his previous years numbers) will continue into 2013. Now, it’s also just as likely that his power will continue at a 3% HR rate.

                    3. DB Kyle

                      His wrist will never be normal. You can’t say “he’s a power hitter if his wrist is healthy” anymore than you can say “he’s a power hitter if he turns into a unicorn at night.”

                      If you want to stick to just 2012, he still isn’t a power hitter.

                    4. hansman1982

                      We do have evidence of what he can do with a bum wrist, that would be 2012.

                      We are still talking about a 3B that provides 15-20 homers a year, with a decent OBP…not Chase Headley/Miguel Cabrera but I can think of 16 other teams that would LOVE to get that kind of production from 3B.

                      Right now we have 200ish PA that are an abberation of the rest of his career. You can’t call him a slugging 3B but you can’t say that he is not a slugging 3B.

                      If only Aramis had wanted to play for the Cubs…

                    5. DB Kyle

                      Your evidence is 2012?

                      He put up a .292 OBP (which you just called “decent”) and hit on a pace for 15 home runs per 600 PAs (which you called “15-20″.)

                      He put up a .627 OPS last season. There are not 16 other teams that would love to get that. That’s just silly. You’re better than that.

                    6. MJ

                      If Stewart’s wrist is healthy, he could indeed be good for 20 homers. We don’t know exactly when the wrist problems happened, but if you track his numbers, we can probably guess.

                      A bad wrist can mess a hitter up for a long time. We’ve seen it here in this town. When Derrek Lee got his wrist smashed in ’06, the next two years his power numbers went down. ’09, he shook them off and his production went back up.

                      Paul Konerko looked close to the end in ’08, playing through a bad wrist. 2010, he looked like an MVP candidate.

                    7. DB Kyle

                      We know exactly when the wrist problems began. 2006 in the Arizona Fall League.

                    8. MJ

                      No matter when the wrist injury happened, the fact still remains that, for a hitter who relies on power, it’s a beeyotch. If he’s finally over them, let’s see what he’s got.

            2. hansman1982

              “Your evidence is 2012?

              He put up a .292 OBP (which you just called “decent”) and hit on a pace for 15 home runs per 600 PAs (which you called “15-20″.)

              He put up a .627 OPS last season. There are not 16 other teams that would love to get that. That’s just silly. You’re better than that.”

              If we normalize the BABIP to non-ridiculous levels, it is entirely possible that we see some regression back to 2010 levels. Now, 2012 is an indicator that most of the power is still there. From 2011 to 2012, we saw the BABIP increase 30 points but his BA and OBP increased 50 points and his slugging increase 120 points.

              With a wrist that isn’t actively causing him pain, we should see the LD% tick up, FB% tick up, GB% go down. We saw it in week long spurts last year. This year I am hoping he can maybe put 2 of those weeks together at a time.

              As I stated above, I am not anticipating 2010, nor am I anticipating 2012. Something in the middle – .230/.320/.400 to .250/.340/.430. Now if the changed swing actually increased his ground balls by 15 percentage points, then, yes, Ian Stewart will be selling insurance soon.

              1. DB Kyle

                He molests collies and is a frequenter of libraries. Libraries. What more do I have to say?

                1. hansman1982

                  It isn’t collies. Shetland Sheep Dogs! Dag-gum-it, everyone knows that is the breed that is acceptable to molest.

                  But he doesn’t pronounce the “r” in Library.

                  Meh.

                  1. Cubbie Blues

                    Which one? Is it Libary or Libray? Or, Quite possibly both? Libay?

                    1. hansman1982

                      He calls it a bibliotecha so I am afraid to talk to him and ask him precisely how he says library.

      2. Bilbo161

        I don’t think the decision will have so much to do with ego. It’s about the best man we can put at third. Right now at least, Stewart is that guy if he is healthy. I would love to see Lake or Vitters as an option later in the year if Stewart falters, but right now, all things considered, we need to see what a healthy Stewart can do and go from there.

        1. CubFan Paul

          Sarcasm people…

          1. hansman1982

            science-sarcasm-Professor-Frink-Comic-Book-Guy-631.jpg

      3. DB Kyle

        I don’t see why it’s that far-fetched. The entire direction of the franchise is being chosen by Epstein’s ego right now. Why not the 3b?

        *ducks*

        1. CubFan Paul

          I actually agree with this (franchise wise). This experiment could blow up in their faces. Odds and history says it will.

          1. dw8

            The “blow up” on this experiment is very tiny. This isn’t a team with a black hole at third with a reasonable chance at contending for a division title. It’s a team with a black hole at third with an extremely small chance at a coin flip to get a real playoff shot.

            The scale of the experiment is notable.
            I’m also not a Tyler Colvin guy so…

            1. DB Kyle

              I really, really cannot wait for the day when I no longer have to hear that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s mistakes are okay because they’ve made so many mistakes that the team isn’t good enough for their mistakes to matter.

              1. dw8

                Never said it wasn’t a mistake. This Cubs organization is better with LaMahieu and Colvin, so far, hypothetically. The pertinent question is “How much better?” and “Was it worth the risk for the upside of Stewart?”

                Colvin had a two-win season driven by a .364 BABIP, as a platoon player. Meh, both ways on this trade is what I’m trying to say.

                1. DB Kyle

                  I didn’t say that you said (that he said that she said that they said) that it wasn’t a mistake. You said the mistake didn’t matter because the team is so bad that they aren’t likely to make the playoffs.

                  Epstein’s failures get excused because of his larger failure to make this a competitive team after two offseasons.

                  1. Boogens

                    “Epstein’s failures get excused because…”

                    Why are you so focused on this particular “failure”? Were other teams lining up to trade for Colvin and we missed out on some mega-talent because Theo chose the wrong trading partner? Were you expecting Colvin to have some great season for the Cubs in 2012 if he wasn’t traded? The reason that some may gloss over this perceived “mistake” is because it really doesn’t matter in the long run. He wasn’t going to net you some great talent in a trade and he wasn’t any threat to be an All Star if he stayed. Time to let it go and move on.

                    1. DarthHater

                      It all goes back to when Epstein saw DB in the showers at boarding school and snickered…

                    2. DB Kyle

                      The faiilure wasn’t losing Colvin (though that looks a bit worse than I expected a year later).

                      The failure was wanting Ian Stewart at all.

                    3. DarthHater

                      “It all goes back to when Epstein saw DB in the showers at boarding school and snickered…”

                      I believe Theo was heard muttering something about “tiny sample size”…

              2. Jim

                Lets just remember that they also went out and got Rizzo, which so far looks like a steal for the Cubs. Soler also looks like he could be the real deal. GMs make good deals and bad, it is what it is. In the end, you just hope the good out weighed the bad.

            2. CubFan Paul

              ‘The “blow up” on this experiment is very tiny’

              dw8, I wasn’t talking about third base/Stewart. i was referring to the “Plan” for the franchise overall (ya know, purposely not fielding a competitive Major League team two years in a row).

              Third Base is just another example of that. The “blow up” on the “Plan” is very real and great.

              1. dw8

                OK. So the alternatives of “the plan”
                When faced with a roster that isn’t talented enough to compete for the division. How to compete right away, say, within the first two years of inheriting said roster.

                1. Trade cost controlled (minor league) talent (non-existent, after the Garza trade) for major league talent that will help a team compete in the short term.

                2. Increase payroll at a rate that will allow for multiple free agent acquisitions that will help compete right away. (Not a reality given current ownership)

                I’m honestly, not snarkily, curious. I’m not sure of another way. Either of these options seems to lead back to the 2010 Cubs.

                1. DB Kyle

                  3) Use existing payroll to make good roster decisions and win baseball games in the short term while using good scouting and development to improve the farm system.

                  There was plenty of MLB talent and payroll space to turn this into a competitive team immediately if the front office made enough good decisions.

                  The problem with 2010 wasn’t the plan. It was the execution. And it wasn’t even the execution most people focus on. The FA signings were fine. The mid-2000s drafting and development was the problem.

                  1. Dale's Ear

                    Right the drafting and development in the 2000s was so terrible that this FO felt the need to gut all of the veteran talent on the roster just to supplement the terribly inept minor league system so that the success of this team would be prolonged over a decade rather than just being competitive in 2-3 year windows like they have seemingly been doing forever.

                    1. DB Kyle

                      A few problems with that:

                      1) The drafting and development had started to turn around. We had a couple of very interesting young big leaguers and an up-and-coming farm system already in place.

                      2) If this front office feels like it can’t build prolonged success without getting a running start from tanking several seasons, then they aren’t good enough to be our front office. Other teams have been able to build great farm systems without needing 100 losses to do it. Look no further than about 3 hours southwest for the No. 1 farm system in baseball.

                  2. dw8

                    What’s winning baseball games though? Let’s say winning 85 baseball games is winning baseball games.

                    The 2011 Cubs won 71 games. Conservatively, through the an exemplary off-season the new front office added 14 wins.

                    Let’s say they did this by trading away existing MLB guys to keep player development intact, (kinda crummy ones because of the previous front office’s “The mid-2000s drafting and development was the problem.”) and free agent acquisitions.

                    So ideally the front office pays, 2 million per win above 71 to get to 85 and have a sniff at the wild card. This is an amazing rate of return considering a 5 mill per win above replacement in free agency.

                    Based on the 2011 payroll 134 million. That 2012 85 win team has a payroll of 140, conservatively. That’s keeping Aramis, too.

                    Believe me, I would have been shitting myself with glee if that would have happened.

                    1. dw8

                      Guess who built that farm system in St. Louis? The guy who is in the process of a more drastic tear down in Houston that Theo and Jed are carrying out in Chicago.

                    2. DB Kyle

                      It’s a fallacy to assume that you can just take a previous year’s wins and assume that’s the true talent level of the baseball team. The 2011 Cubs were better than a 71-win team for a variety of reasons.

                      And so what that the guy who built St. Louis is now running an owner-directed tear-down in Houston? Different city, different situation, and he’s already proven that it’s not necessary.

                    3. Dale's Ear

                      A. While I would agree Luhnow had a major if not epic impact on the Cardinals recent success in development, the real architect of the Cardinals sustained model of overall success was Walt Jocketty, the same guy who’s reviving the Big Red Machine now..
                      B. When Walt Jocketty took over the Cardinals his first season was a dud probably because the season before the team sucked…
                      C. So basically Jocketty built a team that was solidish until the year 2000 when they became perennial contendersand then Lunhow beasted up on the whole player development and international scouting thing in 03 which has kept them rolling ever since.
                      D. Theo did not inherit an Albert Pujols (as Lunhow did)that can keep them competitive while the development process takes shape. Remember that guy who won 3 MVPs?
                      E. Basically in a nut shell one of the greatest executives of all time took at least 5 years to establish the Cardinals as a perennial contender and at least 10 years to turn them into a world series champion. Theo is trying to do this in half that time,

                      Again I reiterate my point to you. I do not see what magical moves the Cubs could have made to turn these last two teams into real world series contenders. If you think those teams in the late 2000s were World Series contenders with World Series winning talent you’re joking yourself, in fact by your own logic it would be a fallacy to assume those teams win-loss records indicate how much talent they had, two first round sweeps proved that they’re talent was lacking. To become a real perennial contender and to fully maximize the benefits of being the biggest market in the division, a long sometimes agonizing process of rebuilding is the smartest and most efficient option.

                    4. DarthHater

                      No no no. Everything Theo does is driven by ego. It’s an axiom, like ” a straight line can be drawn between any two points.” Failure to acknowledge this axiom makes you irrational, a Theo apologist, or both. :-P

                    5. Dale's Ear

                      hahaha way to live up to your pseudonym sir

                    6. DB Kyle

                      1) If you have to go back almost 20 years, then maybe you should accept that the current Cardinals’ system was built during a time of success. Yet again proving that you don’t need to lose to build a good system.

                      2) If you think that a best-of-5 playoff series tells you more about a team’s ability than a 162-game regular season, then you are less worth talking with than I previously assumed. Ask Epstein how he feels about that.

                    7. Dale's Ear

                      I had to go back almost 20 years because thats when the foundation was started and it was definitely not during a period of success, the cardinals hired Jocketty after a terrible season and ended up treading water mostly around .500 for Jocketty’s first few years except one before becoming yearly contenders after 2000. Your example of a team that had to rebuild and build a farm system at the same time was the Cardinals and I’m telling you it wasn’t so easy for them either, it took Jocketty 5 seasons to turn the Cardinals into a consistent playoff team.

                      And I didn’t say those Cubs teams didn’t have talent I said they weren’t real threats to win the World Series as evidenced by back-to-back first round playoff sweeps.

                      And props for being a complete douche with your nice little last line. I’m glad you just assume people you don’t know aren’t worth talking to based on the fact that they disagree with you. I think I’ll just ask Theo Epstein why he gets paid millions to do the job you seem to think you have so much knowledge about and see how he feels about that.

                    8. DB Kyle

                      Every team will have a period of failure if you go back far enough. The current Cardinals organization was not built 20 years ago.

                      And I’m sorry you are offended, but it’s simply true. No serious baseball thinker, be they fan, analyst or executive, believes that the result of a short playoff series tells you anything other than which team happened to be hot and lucky for those few games. If you think otherwise, then there are some very important concepts about the game that you don’t understand, which means if I’m going to discuss things in depth with you I’d have to go much further into the simplest details than I normally feel like.

                    9. DB Kyle

                      Oh, and the D in DB does in fact stand for douche.

                    10. bbmoney

                      From a while ago,

                      “And so what that the guy who built St. Louis is now running an owner-directed tear-down in Houston? Different city, different situation, and he’s already proven that it’s not necessary.”

                      The logic in that paragraph….unassailable….if everything were in a vacuum at least. Proved it wasn’t necessary in one instance? Yes. Proved it isn’t necessary in all instances accounting for all sorts of different circumstances? Not remotely.

                      Different city, different situations for both the Astros and Cubs. Maybe both teams are doing it wrong, but there is no proof of that.

                    11. Dale's Ear

                      The foundation of this current Cardinals team started back then. The only reason I chose that period is because that is when Jocketty was hired and he is the main reason that the Cardinals were eventually in a position to both win and build a farm system at the same time for the last 13 years. The team they built in the late 90s and early 2000s is the reason for their sustained success, they constantly cycled in new young players as old ones left, and their massive depth never forced them to rush a prospect before he was ready. Not to mention having the best hitter of the decade in your lineup makes everyone on the team better. This is the exact formula that Theo is trying to recreate but it takes time it is a process.

                      And if you want to talk about the amount of talent the team had based on regular seasons maybe a better indicator would be to judge the seasons around their 97 win season. 85 wins the season before won them a division title and 83 wins the year after no playoffs.. Solid? Sure but does it scream world series contender? Not really. Then after that 83 win season they followed with a 75 win season that was inflated by Mike Quade’s 24-13 record at the end. Then we all know how awful these last two seasons have been. So yeah maybe 6 straight playoff losses would be an unfair criticism, but looking at the seasons around it surely gives a better picture of the talent that was actually on the team. Was it terrible? No, but was it World Series caliber? I have a really hard time believing that it was.

                    12. DB Kyle

                      What exactly do you think a World Series contender looks like? Because a lot of different types of teams with varying strength win the World Series.

                    13. DB Kyle

                      AFAICT, the oldest tenured player in the Cardinals organization was drafted in 2001. It’s pretty hard to say the “foundation” of the organization was founded 10 years before that.

                    14. DocPeterWimsey

                      “What exactly do you think a World Series contender looks like?” Well, fah-luh, don’t your read the posts around here? It’s a team on which:
                      1) every position player can lay down perfect sacrifice bunts;
                      2) every batter grounds out to 2nd with a man on 2nd and nobody out
                      3) every cutoff man is hit;
                      4) nobody makes errors
                      5) the pitchers all take pride in their hitting;
                      6) every baserunner never takes his eyes off of the 3rd base coach
                      7) all homers are saved for when men are on base,
                      8) “executes” that it goes 40-10 in 1-run games.

                      I might be missing some.

                      Alternatively, they look like the Yankees or the Cardinals or the Phillies or the Rays or the Tigers or one of those teams that actually, you know, scores a lot more than the opposition game-in and game-out in most seasons through some combination of good-to-great starting pitching and good-to-great OPS offense.

                    15. Dale's Ear

                      Well the year in question, 2008, the world series winner was a team in a modestly large market that was comprised of mostly homegrown players such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, and Cole Hamels. After those guys made up the core, guys like Victorino and Werth developed quickly with the protection those guys provided. So, I assume the vast majority of World Series contenders in the modern game with the CBA the way it is will be built in a similar fashion. Teams like the Rays, the Cardinals, Rangers, and Nationals are all good examples. And yes like he says, teams that score more runs than the opposition lol.

                      But you aren’t getting what I’m saying with the Cardinals. Yeah they don’t have any players from before the year 2001 most organizations don’t, but the fact that they had been developing players before this recent run of success allowed them to play competitive baseball while developing the farm system. Walt Jocketty was GM from 1994 to 2007 he built the teams original foundation of success before this recent run of both regular season and minor league dominance. The Cardinals had SEVERAL bad years before the organization fully turned it around in 2000. Albert Pujols was drafted in 1999 and there definitely wasn’t a player that had a bigger impact on those two world series rings than him. So you can say that the Cardinals won while building up the farm system because they did eventually, but the front office that built that system definitely did not start out shitting rainbows everywhere.

  4. Cubbies4Life

    Benevolence is always better than wrath. Unless you’re talking about the Cardinals….

  5. LarryJ

    Any truth to the rumor that Maples is hurt again? If so how serious is it?

  6. Jake W

    Lets trade Ian Stewart for a few bats and call it a day. He sucks

    1. Bilbo161

      Hope Ian is reading this. Should be motivational. I really don’t see why we can’t just let the guy try to prove his worth on the field when he’s healthy. If he’s no good, that will show. Berating him now serves no purpose except for fans blowing off steam.

      1. DB Kyle

        Why the Cubs shouldn’t give him a chance, or why the fans shouldn’t?

        The Cubs shouldn’t because they are a baseball team trying to win baseball games and he’s bad at baseball (on the scale of MLB teams, anyway. Not bad compared to your average man on the street).

        The fans should do whatever they want. We all enjoy the team differently.

        1. Jeff

          Kyle, the ultimate Ian Stewart hater! Keep hating, my man.

          1. Bill

            Kyle should have to stand in line to hate on Ian Stewart. Stewart is a bad baseball player. The sooner Theo cuts his ties with Stewart the sooner he can move forward and find a legit 3B option.

            1. Jeff

              We don’t have to wait, Dale has anointed Luis Valbuena as the next 3rd baseman, that got you excited yet?

              1. Bill

                Excited? No. Still would rather have Valbuena starting over Stewart. At least we all know Valbuena sucks, but the delusionals think the Cubs are going to hit the paydirt with Stewart. We’re not, he sucks. The sooner we can get away from the “he could be solid IF he’s healthy”, the better the team will be. We’ll be hearing the same garbage from fans at the end of this offseason.

                Theo needs to make a trade for someone like Olt (even if it means trading one of our top prospects, if they believe Olt is the real deal), or hope Vitters greatly improves this season or guys like Lake or Baez are ready to go at some point next season.

              2. DB Kyle

                Well, “excited” is the wrong term, but if Valbuena were the starting 3b, I’d be encouraged by the team’s commitment to putting the best players they have on the field. That’s not as good as getting good players, but it’s better than what they did last year when they broke camp with several inferior options while sending better players to Iowa.

            2. Hansman1982

              Don’t worry, there are only 16 other teams in need of a legit third baseman. Should be easy to find a good one.

              1. Jeff

                no kidding :) Paging Mr. Olt…lol

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  Well, Headley might finally be on the block by mid-season: but Hansman is not far off on how many teams will be bidding for him.

                  I am betting that the Rangers hang on to Olt until they resolve the SS situation. If they are going to trade Andrus, then they can fetch someone good: and that might color how they decide to resolve Kinsler, 1B, etc., and how they cram Olt into the lineup or deal him for another key piece.

  7. Pat

    That’s the good thing with the early start due to the WBC. The guys who get dinged up early still have any of time to get ready once they come back.

  8. Die hard

    Carlos Pena to DH for Astros and Yankees need 3B and 1B … so here’s deal —Soriano to Astros and Pena to Yankees .. then Stewart to Yankees for A ball outfielder and pitcher

  9. Die hard

    And Astros kick in a AA infielder and pitcher …. and Yankees give cash to Astros to help pay for Soriano

  10. DPRagen

    if Epstein would stop contradicting himself every other day it would take people longer to realize what a bonehead he really is. Would that be good or bad?

    1. Die hard

      Shhh… talk like that will get you in trouble… You can think he’s in over his head but have to keep it to yourself

      1. DarthHater

        Yes, it is true that “talk like that” – i.e. asinine, deliberately provocative overstatements – will “get you in trouble,” in the sense that they will lead more level-headed people to point out that you are being silly and trolling for a reaction.

    2. Tommy

      DPRagen – So are you unhappy with the direction our farm system has gone?

      1. DarthHater

        Tommy, I thought about you and your avatar when I saw today’s number one news story: HOSTESS HAS BEEN PURCHASED AND TWINKIES ARE SAVED! :-D

        1. Tommy

          YAY! We’re saved! Thanks for thinking of me, Darth!

  11. jt

    1) every position player can lay down perfect sacrifice bunts;
    2) every batter grounds out to 2nd with a man on 2nd and nobody out
    3) every cutoff man is hit;
    4) nobody makes errors
    5) the pitchers all take pride in their hitting;
    6) every baserunner never takes his eyes off of the 3rd base coach
    7) all homers are saved for when men are on base,
    8) “executes” that it goes 40-10 in 1-run games.
    Was that the ’87 Card’s who finished 9th in NL OPS but 2nd in NL RS?

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Going back 25 years to find a counter-example doesn’t help an argument much. Yes, that can happen every once in a while. However, given how strong the correlation between OPS and RS is (and has been for decades), a handful of times per century is about what you might expect.

      1. jt

        ’88 dodgers
        I think it was the ’85 Twins that had fewer RS than RA.
        That is 3 pre-steroid teams in a very short span.
        *
        Last yr’s RS team could’a, should’a, would’a….but didn’t.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          ? The 1988 Dodgers had a high enough run-differential that they projected as a 93 win team. They won 95, so they played as expected. Their OPS was basically in a log-jam in the middle, as was their runs-scored. However, because of their pitching (which was exemplary), their net OPS and run-differential both were 2nd best in the NL.

          The Twins were lucky: they made post-season by being in a division of mediocre teams, and they won in a field of four teams who’s records and RDs were indistinguishable from 0.500 teams. Flip four evenly-weighted coins 162 times, and one of them will get more heads than the others. Four teams in the AL east had better run-differentials than any team in the AL West! The AL West was jokingly called the AL Worst back then, and with good reason. The Twins got lucky against a vastly superior Tigers team in the ALCS, and then took advantage of home-field advantage in a series between what might have been the two most disparate fields in baseball.

          So, that leaves only the Cardinals as an example of what you are discussing. Steroids have nothing to do with it. (After all, they were certainly prevalent by the 1980′s, anyway.) Baseball is probabilistic: OPS strongly affects runs scored, but nothing determines runs scored; therefore, one in 20 years gets a result with a 5% or lower chance.

          1. jt

            The ’88 Dodgers had an OPS+ of 90 which was good for 10th place in a field of 12 teams. Their team slug was 0.352 and their team OBP was 0.305. They did not win with good to great OPS and good pitching. They won with very good pitching.
            The 2010 Pad’s (kind’a post steroids) won 90 games with (literally) avg OPS, good but not great SP’ing and one heck of a BP.
            I mention the RS because last year was the year of the “greenie” test.
            There is a bunch of stuff that has skewed stats.
            There is always a bunch of stuff that skew stats.
            I believe in the advanced stats that you advocate. I mean a whole lot.
            But I also believe that they only work when interpretation of results are treated with skepticism.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              You have to delete the idea that steroids affected the relationship between OPS and runs scored. It did not. OPS went up, runs scored went up, the relationship between net OPS and winning remained the same. There also is nothing skewing the stats: the residuals in these relationship fit normal distributions quite nicely

              And, again, it’s good to great hitting mixed with good to great pitching: but that also means that average hitting (and with a smidgen of luck, the Dodgers had league average RS, as their OPS was actually just below league average and really not distinguishable from several teams in front of them) and really great pitching, you can win. Really great pitching is really rare, so it is not worth discussing. After all, if your pitchers throw nothing but no-hitters, then you can have the 2010 Mariners offense and win, right?

              In the end, there is nothing to be learned from the outliers, and everything to be learned from what diagnoses the winning teams year-in and year-out.

              1. jt

                The effect of steroids was to raise the general OPS and the general amount of RS. That changed the ratio of the need for run production vs the need for run prevention. That skewed the stats.
                One of the WS A’s teams of the early ’70′s had 3 great hitters and one decent bopper. The rest of the team just could not hit. After stressing through 4 tough hitters a pitcher could slide through the next 5. But some teams of the steroid era had 9 solid bats in a row. That has skewed the stats.
                Did the slugging pitcher rich Yanks of the ’50′s have an advantage over the speedy pitching rich WS of the ’50′s? Well, the proof of the pudding and all that. But the Dodgers did just fine in the ’60′s.
                Also, prior to the steroid era just how many great hitters were there?
                I just took a close look at the ’87 Twins. They were 56w and 38L when Blyleven, Viola or Staker started. So they were 29W and 39L when others pitched the first inning.
                But there is more:
                The ’87 Twins allowed 6 or more runs in 65 games. Their RA was 510 and RS was 297 with a 10W 55L record for those games.
                For the other 97 games their RA = 296 and RS = 489
                The record for those games was 75W and 22L
                When the SP’ing sucked, Kelly was saving resources. That skewed the stats.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  That is false. The game has always been very slightly more than half run prevention and very slightly less than 50% run scoring. A team with a net OPS greater than 0 in any year very probably has a positive RD and thus very probably had a record better than 0.500. What creates OPS is what creates scoring, after all, and what prevents it prevents scoring.

                  The 1987 Twins do not “skew” the stats. They are an outlier within a continuous distribution. Kelly did not magically discover a formula that he later forgot: when you have dozens of teams playing dozens of years, these things happen once in a while. Last years Orioles are an example, too. They are exceptions that do not disprove the rule as what

                  So, are some teams lucky? Of course: that is the nature of all things probabilistic. However, probability dictates that rare events happen once in a while. The mistake isto think that those teams offer any lessons about how to make a team compete year-in and year-out.

                  1. jt

                    “You have to delete the idea that steroids affected the relationship between OPS and runs scored.”
                    I’ve searched for but could not find another quote where you state a need for a good to great OPS plus good pitching in order to win.
                    Since I am unable to find the quote I must admit the possibility that I have it wrong.
                    *
                    I do understand the relationship twixt OPS and runs scored. … steroids increased the need to score runs.
                    *
                    If the paraphrase of the relationship of winning to great OPS that I attributed to you is close to accurate then herein lies the problem. What is great OPS? Is it 0.850 or above or is it relative to that of the rest of the league for a particular year? You state that the ’88 Dodgers were not that bad compared to the rest of the league. The league OPS was low. But another way of stating that is that run prevention was more important that year.
                    *
                    Are individual runs in low scoring games worth more than in barn burners. Since the 3 run homer is unlikely vs Bob Gibson, is execution of fundamentals when playing against him more important than when opposing Glendon Rusch?
                    *
                    I’m saying that great OPS is absolute number. Many teams in the steroid era had great OPS totals. The ’88 Dodgers did not have a great OPS. Therefore the ’88 Dodgers had different approach than say last years Tigers.
                    *
                    Kelly allowed the Twins to get blown out 31 times. There were other games in which the Minn got beat despite scoring quite a few runs themselves. Viola and Blyleven started 73 games that year. He basically road that horse while what BP he had for the important games (those he had a chance to win). Was it a weak division? Yes! But if it had been a stronger division The Twins would have had the option to go out and sign or trade for just and avg SP’er. Just an avg pitcher could brought the number of 6 or more runs allowed per game down from 65 to 55. That is all that it would have taken for them to be a 90 win team. Were they lucky or did they work the universe they were given?

  12. Die hard

    Not bringing in Sandberg is what irks me

  13. JulioZuleta

    Hey Brett, AZ Phil posted a positive Maples update in the comment of his 3/12 article. I had feared the worst when he mentioned a shoulder:

    “Submitted by Arizona Phil
    on Tue, 03/12/2013 – 8:50pmPermalink.

    “Dillon Maples threw a bullpen session this morning and looked good. I doubt that he will be held back too much longer,

    Also, Hayden Simpson (Cubs 2010 #1 draft pick) threw “live” BP today and his curve ball was really exploding. I don’t know what the velocity was on his fastball (and that is an issue), but at least he was throwing free & easy.”

  14. DPRagen

    Tommy – The progress of the minor league system is too subjective for me judge fairly. I go by the results I see at the major league level and those results have been poor. To paraphrase Ricketts the Cubs are not winning enough games. The time for self serving excuses for poor team performance, to my mind, has passed. I hear chatter about giving away the team’s only truly professional player and only power hitter(Alfonso Soiriano) and I wonder where this front office is coming from. The idea is to win more games, not less. To me the future is now and if Epstein can’t deliver then get someone who can.

    1. David

      Are Rizzo and Castro not “truly professional players?” Is Rizzo not a power hitter?

      WTH?

  15. Rebuilding

    Definitely not trying to be argumentative here, love the site Brett. Just want to provide a counter-argument with facts along the lines of what DB Kyle and others have said. The cliquish or cultish behavior sometimes exhibited here with regards to the Cubs FO can be off-putting and often stifles legit conversation, as anyone who does not toe the line of The Great Rebuild is shouted down. I’m a huge Cubs fan and optimistic about the future, but the route we are going can be questioned. Here is an article from Fangraphs that questions whether a team (and especially a big market team like the Cubs) should ever rebuild: http://www.fangraphs.com/community/index.php/is-rebuilding-worth-it/
    The gist of the article is generally no except in very limited circumstances.

    Now lets say that Mark Cuban (or an Arte Moreno type) had bought the Cubs or the FO truly has the leeway they claim to have. The following transactions, which were all discussed here and aren’t outlandish, could have taken place since Theo took over:

    2011-12:
    (1) resign Aramis Ramirez (got 3/36 from Brewers). I won’t even mention that many wanted to trade for Headley last year before his “breakout” and if Cashner got Rizzo then I’m sure Cashner + Vitters or Jackson would have gotten him.
    (2) win bid for Darvish ($51m posting 6/60)
    (3) either sign Fielder (9/214) or deal Cashner for Rizzo
    (4) sign Aaron Hill (2/11 from Arizona) – was a prime bounce back candidate. Went cheap for a 2b with power where we had a gaping hole
    (5) win bid for Cespedas ($36m posting 4/36) – Beane outsmarted everyone on this one I guess, but to me not winning this and the Darvish bids are the worst move the FO has made
    (6) could have signed Reddick (3/20), Kubel (2/15) or Ludwick (non-roster invitee) – I won’t include these guys. Could have also had Doumit for $3m to have a decent catcher
    - the only one of these not obvious is Hill

    2012:
    (1) sign Zach Grienke (6/147)
    (2) sign Anibal Sanchez (5/80)
    (3) sign Michael Bourn (4/48)

    I would have backloaded as many of these contracts as possible to wait for the arrival of new TV revenue and an upping of the salary cap. Also, we would have only lost Almora and Vizcaino as prospects under this scenario. Team with estimated 2013 contract:

    Rotation: Grienke ($23m), Darvish ($10m), Sanchez ($15m), Smardj (2.6m), Garza (10.3m) or you could replace Sanchez with Garza and have kept Maholm or Dempster = 61m
    Lineup: CF Bourn (12m), SS Castro (5m), 1b Fielder/Rizzo (25m/min), 3b Ramirez (12m), Rf Cespedes (9m), LF Soriano (19m), 2b Hill ($6m), C Castillo or Doumit (3m) = $89m. Hell, you could take out Hill and leave Barney with that lineup.

    You could then build a bench/bullpen with $25m for $175m payroll well under the salary cap. If you take out Sanchez and Hill and replace with Barney and Maholm that’s $15m less. And as I said, you could have backloaded those contracts to save more this year. Also, if you do Cashner for Rizzo and don’t sign Fielder thats another $25m. The Cubs CAN sustain that kind of payroll. Those are obvious moves. We would also still have Soler, Baez, Jackson, Vogelbach, etc. Just no Almora or Vizcaino.

    Point: It’s possible to suggest this could have been done another way

    1. TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      Why stop there?
      Why not sign Pujols and CJ Wilson?
      Why settle for Headley? Just trade for David Wright or Evan Longoria.
      I’m sure we coulda traded for justin Upton, probably Stanton and Price, too.

      When people try to rebuild or turnaround their business, they develop a business plan. You stick to that plan until it is proven wrong. That is what this front office is doing. This plan reminds me of the Blackhawks in the early 2000′s. Aquire assets any way you can (draft, trade, FA) Be patient while you’re farm develops, sign free agents that will impact the team for a significant period of time when they become available. Become one of the elite franchises in your league.

      I’m not saying the business plan the Cubs are using is the correct one, but I figure I have two choices, live with it and hope for success, or become of fan of another team.

      1. Rebuilding

        Well, there you go. I said specifically that it was just a discussion as to what other options they could have taken. How much better would this team look if they had just resigned Ramirez, signed Bourn this year and made sure they won the bidding for Darvish and Cespedes? Are those things so crazy? Those four moves – resigning one of our own, signing a guy below market value and winning the bids on 2 guys we supposedly finished 2nd on would definitely make us a wildcard contender this year. The hole at 3b did not have to happen by just resigning Ramirez to bridge to Baez. Cespedes would have filled our 2nd biggest need CF and we were outbid by the A’s. But keep on believing these guys are invincible

      2. DB Kyle

        I *wish* this plan reminded me of the Blackhawks. Where’s our Brian Campell, blowing the budget on an All-Star caliber player even though we aren’t “ready” to compete yet?

        1. TheDynastyStartsIn2016

          Wasn’t Brian Campbell a key part of the Cup winning team?

      3. DB Kyle

        It’s going to be something between amusing and horrifying when we get to 2016 and the other teams haven’t just laid down and given up. The Pirates might just be peaking right about then, and the Cardinals show no signs of slowing down. We could be “ready to win” and still finish third.

    2. hansman1982

      “You could then build a bench/bullpen with $25m for $175m payroll well under the salary cap.”

      When have the Cubs ever demonstrated that (at max ticket sales (ala 2008-9)) revenue at Wrigley is capable of sustaining a $175M payroll?

  16. MJ

    Admittedly, I haven’t read the article. So, are they saying the correct way to build a winner is to sit back, write checks and hope they get covered later by money you don’t have yet?

    Does it also say it was cool to give that huge contract to Zack Greinke, who now suddenly “doesn’t know what’s wrong with my elbow” and now not sure if he’ll be ready for opening day?

    1. Rebuilding

      The article basically says that “tearing it all down” actually suppresses revenues for longer periods and teams would be better served to stay somewhat competitive so they have more money to spend when they are truly ready to contend. Obviously that is a super simplified take on it

      1. Bill

        Rebuilding,

        Thanks for th article. It’s amazing how upset some people get when someone challenges the Theo model. It’s considered heresy on this site. We heard time and time again, how Theo was “doing it the right way”. “We need to blow it up to build it back up”. “Finishing near last is critical because we need that high draft pick” Your article challenges all (or at least most) of those assumptions wth facts and looking at actual historical data. Per the author’s findings, rebuilding is NOT the best way, espeically for a large market team like the Cubs.

        The apologists might not like these conclusions, but the article at least has provided some actual numbers to back up their case, unlike the Theo apologists who tend to just accept whatever he says as infallible because Theo’s won 2 WS rings using an entirely different model.

        Anyway, thanks for the article and providing a reasonable counter argument to crowd that wants to rebuild and cut payroll.

        1. CubFan Paul

          This. But god forbid people listen to reason or actually have an intelligent convo about it (hint hint Brett, put up post).

          But then again the apologists’ heads will explode if Brett agrees with Farnsworth.

        2. King Jeff

          Bill,

          There are valid points to both sides, so I don’t really see the need to continue to throw out generalized, negative connotations to the disagreeing parties. I’m sick of seeing people poke everyone with negative comments here and then cry that everyone picks on them when someone responds to them in a similar way.

          1. CubFan Paul

            “..unlike the Theo apologists who tend to just accept whatever he says as infallible because Theo’s won 2 WS rings using an entirely different model”

            Please name your valid points Jeff.

            1. King Jeff

              Almost all of your comments are valid points.
              Right there in your post, “Theo apologists tend to accept whatever”.

              What is the point in this if not to insult someone who disagrees with you?
              I am behind what the FO is doing, but I in now way think that they have been perfect. They really screwed over the bullpen last year by trading Cashner, and relying on Wood. They never should have traded for Ian Stewart. I didn’t like either decision, and I don’t apologize for either. Yet I have to sit here and read that I’m a kool aid drinker because I have decided not to dwell on one or two bad points and instead enjoy what I feel is an organization moving in the right direction.

              1. CubFan Paul

                I call people apologists or kool aid drinkers because they never acknowledge what Bill pointed out: the “Plan” has never been done before and isnt what got Theo or Jed their success.

                1. King Jeff

                  The problem with that and the problem that I have is that some of us don’t agree with everything that’s been done. I’d even go out on a limb and say that most of us here don’t completely agree on all of our moves. I really enjoy seeing well-spoken, thought out arguments on these subjects. They just always seem to degrade into name calling lately, and it’s by both sides, not just the ones crying foul.

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    True Jeff, but I only drop the kool aid/apologist bomb when someone is actually ignoring facts (blublud/campana stuff). But then others come along (guys like you) and assume that i’m calling you an idiot too. I’m not.

                    1. King Jeff

                      Fair enough Paul. You don’t seem to be one of the more “forcefully negative” opponents of popular opinion here. It is hard to tell where the negativity is directed sometimes. I usually like to keep an open mind and see both sides of a story/argument, but it becomes increasingly difficult to stay biased when overly dramatic language is used, and yes, I am fully aware that this sentiment works both ways.

                2. hansman1982

                  Well, the only difference between Boston Theo and Chicago Theo is Boston Theo acquired some really great players at the trade deadline. Chicago Theo has traded away some good players.

                  If you notice, his “failure” (if you can call 89 wins and the highest scoring offense in MLB a failure) came after he started spending BIG on free agents.

                  1. DB Kyle

                    Chicago Theo has put together a 61-101 MLB record.

                    I don’t care whether he uses free agents or not. I care whether he puts together teams that win baseball games or not.

                    1. hansman1982

                      Chicago Theo took over a pretty terrible team. Boston Theo took over a pretty good team.

                      “I don’t care whether he uses free agents or not. ”

                      Actually, you do, there would have been, literally, no other way to acquire the talent needed to turn the 2011 Cubs into a playoff contender. He needed to acquire a league average (or better) LF, RF, 3B, 1B, 2 SP, 2 RP.

                      LF – Yes (if only by default), RF – Yes, 1B – Yes (LaHair/Rizzo was a ridiculous (.360 wOBAs) 1B last year), 3B – No, SP – Yes, SP – No, RP – No, RP – Yes.

                      I think you underestimate 2011′s level of suck. Had Hendry sold off the pieces and played the kids after the trade deadline it would have mirrored 2012.

                    2. DB Kyle

                      The farm system was not barren when Epstein took over. Repeat. The farm system was not barren when Epstein took over.

                    3. hansman1982

                      No, it wasn’t New Mexico-style barren (White Sox), but it wasn’t Mississippi Delta fertile either (Rays).

                      It was like western Kansas. Decent enough for some wheat but don’t expect bumper crops.

                      Heck, look how big of a hit the system took when we traded for Garza.

                    4. DB Kyle

                      Chicago Theo took over a terrible team and made it 10 games worse. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

                      Sure, I think free agency was probably the best way to acquire the bulk of the additional talent that was needed, but if he wanted to do it other ways, I wouldn’t complain. The results are what matters, not the process.

                    5. DB Kyle

                      “No, it wasn’t New Mexico-style barren (White Sox), but it wasn’t Mississippi Delta fertile either (Rays).

                      It was like western Kansas. Decent enough for some wheat but don’t expect bumper crops.”

                      Totally agree. I’m not saying it was the best in the league or that he hasn’t improved it. Just that it wasn’t barren. It was on the upswing before Epstein came in, and he’s accelerated that upswing.

                    6. DB Kyle

                      “And, in my opinion, the results over the next 10 years under the current trajectory will be better than the results over the next 10 years would have been after a series of free agent binges. And then the next 10 years after that will be DRAMATICALLY better set up.”

                      Disagree. It’s pointless to project anything in years 11-20. I mean that in the most literal sense I can. Truly and completely pointless.

                      For the first 10 years, I suspect the results will be pretty middling. Instead of getting a few years of competing and risking a few years of losing at the end, we’re guaranteeing a few years of losing to hopefully get a few years of competing at the end.

                    7. MightyBear

                      I agree with DB Kyle. The farm system was not barren when Chicago Theo took over. Heck Baez was drafted by Hendry and Co. I do think there was less talent there than most organizations mostly because Hendry wasn’t given money to spend on the farm and his mandate was to win now, thus he used a lot of good prospects in trades to acquire major league talent.

                    8. DarthHater

                      Kyle, yesterday you said the 2011 Cubs were better than a 71-win team. Today you say Theo took over a terrible team and made it worse. Just wondering: at what point above the 71-win line does a team cease to be terrible?

                    9. DB Kyle

                      “Why do you suspect that? Seriously? What possible basis do you have at this point to suspect that the Cubs are less likely to be good in 2016 than they were to be good with a bunch of middling-shit free agents added to a mostly shit roster in 2012?”

                      I didn’t say they’d be less likely to be good in 2016. I said the results were likely to be middling.

                      We’ll get 2-4 years of losing, followed by five or six years of mostly making the playoffs but not always. Middling.

                      “(And I didn’t project years 11 to 20. I expressly avoided doing so by explaining that I see the Cubs being set up for a better run during that stretch than if they’d loaded up on shit free agent contracts for 10 years. To say otherwise is to completely ignore the financial realities of free agency and roster construction, which may be what you are inclined to do.)”

                      Of course not. This whole assumption that there’s only one way to pursue a good baseball team that doesn’t involve waiting five years is absurd. Good organizations can balance free agent contracts intelligently. A team like the Cubs can afford to add significant pieces every year. Those contracts will come off the books regularly, creating room for new ones.

                      If you ruin yourself financially putting together a good team, you did a bad job of putting together a good team. Good GMs can handle it.

                    10. DB Kyle

                      “Kyle, yesterday you said the 2011 Cubs were better than a 71-win team. Today you say Theo took over a terrible team and made it worse. Just wondering: at what point above the 71-win line does a team cease to be terrible?”

                      It wasn’t really terrible, I was just repeating the previous person’s description so as to avoid that argument and focus on one at a time.

                  2. CubFan Paul

                    ‘the only difference between Boston Theo and Chicago Theo is Boston Theo acquired some really great players at the trade deadline’

                    huh? the BIG difference is Boston Theo didnt sacrafice Major League wins. Boston Theo was all about winning, & not giving jobs to LaHair & Nate Schierholtz. Boston Theo never had to come out in February and say that a July Fire Sale is probable. Boston Theo used a Totally different formula than what Chicago The&Co is using. That’s kind of a fact.

                    1. King Jeff

                      Theo also didn’t take over a barren farm system and a 90+ loss team with a top 5 payroll in Boston. Different situation, different strategy.

                    2. Edwin

                      To be fair, Boston had more major league talent, and a better farm system to trade from.

                    3. CubFan Paul

                      Barren Farm system? what was barren about the 2011 Draft class? It was just the AAA that was barren.

                    4. hansman1982

                      LaHair (from Opening Day to June 25) was pretty good. (.384 wOBAs).

                      No, in Boston he got a couple free agents, traded for a couple guys, brought in no-namers who became good pieces.

                      2002 Boston > to the power of infinity 2011 Cubs.

                    5. King Jeff

                      One decent draft class doesn’t make up for 10 bad ones, especially when that class came with hardly any pitching, where the system was truly barren.

                    6. DB Kyle

                      While there were some bad draft classes, the Cubs had been pretty solid for a long time in the IFA development process. The farm system was not barren. That’s a myth that keeps getting repeated, and I’ll fight it to my dying day.

                      People who say that frequently in the next breath talk about how exciting Baez, Vogelbach and the Boise prospect class are.

                    7. King Jeff

                      Fair point Kyle, my ire toward Hendry’s farm system is mostly based on the lack of pitching in recent years. They did some great things with IFA’s, and produced some solid role players. The point was that the farm system that Theo inherited here was nowhere near what Boston had when he took over that team.

                3. DarthHater

                  This “apologist” stuff is a bunch of BS. There are only a small number of people at this site who reflexively defend everything the FO does and they are the only ones who arguably could deserve the title of “apologist.” However, the term is frequently thrown around this site in a much broader manner:

                  Scenario 1: Somebody like Kyle comes along and presents reasoned argument that the FO’s rebuilding plan is too focused on prospects and insufficiently focused on improving the parent club in the shorter term. Many agree with that general view, but opinions still can and do differ over exactly where the line should be drawn. Everybody who is willing to tolerate more short-term mediocrity than Kyle (or CubFan Paul or Crazyhorse or Die hard, etc.) would like is not automatically an “apologist.”

                  Scenario 2: The same person comes out with some sweeping assertion about how every team decision is currently being driven by nothing but Theo’s ego. Statements like that are not only nonsense, they’re also obnoxious and annoying. Naturally, others get annoyed and take shots at the speaker. They, too, then get labeled as “apologists,” but that is ridiculous. They are criticizing idiotic whining about Theo, not because it is directed at Theo, but because it is idiotic whining.

                  1. DB Kyle

                    That’s such an apologist thing to say.

                    1. CubFan Paul

                      Hilarious.

                    2. DarthHater

                      Somebody spiked my morning koolaid.

                    3. Edwin

                      I’m sorry.

                    4. DarthHater

                      Oh, Edwin. You scamp! ;-)

  17. SM

    I guess writing smaller checks for player that might not play is a better option and trading for players that did not play or might play in a year or two due to injury is also a better plan, Or maybe by losing and sitting on a checkbook to get in position to draft players that may get hurt or bomb that improve a team is a solid choice.

    But i get the feeling the team that did signed Greinke. complimented by that teams other free agents signing and trade will still be in contention , But if Grienke is ready on oopening day your point is moot. Heck even if he does not pitch for half a season his team can still be in contention. The Cubs simply will not- even if all the players are healthy. I guess that the point.

  18. CubFan Paul

    “This whole assumption that there’s only one way to pursue a good baseball team that doesn’t involve waiting five years is absurd. Good organizations can balance free agent contracts intelligently. A team like the Cubs can afford to add significant pieces every year. Those contracts will come off the books regularly, creating room for new ones.

    If you ruin yourself financially putting together a good team, you did a bad job of putting together a good team. Good GMs can handle it.”

    Once again, This. Its very hard to argue against unless you just want to or have an agenda.