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nate schierholtz cubsAlthough Alfonso Soriano is dominating the headlines this week, the Chicago Cubs arguably have two more valuable trade chips in the outfield playing alongside Soriano in David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz. Each had been dealing with various physical issues – DeJesus just came back from a shoulder strain, and Schierholtz just got some time off for various bumps and bruises – but each appears to be back, healthy, and productive.

Moreover, each of DeJesus and Schierholtz offer an additional year of reasonably-priced team control beyond this season (DeJesus has a $6.5 million team option for 2014, Schierholtz is in his final year of arbitration next year), which adds to their possible trade value.

Of course, then again, that adds to their value to the Cubs, as well. And if the Cubs do end up moving Soriano, they’ll already have one outfielder to replace going into next year. Would they be willing to have as many as three to replace?

Teams are reportedly interested in finding out.

On Schierholtz, who is hitting .277/.334/.521 on the year and making just $2.25 million, the Cubs are reportedly receiving heavy interest from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce Levine reports that the Pirates have been watching Schierholtz closely for a month as they look to improve in right field. Schierholtz is at the top of their list, according to Levine, together with White Sox outfielder Alex Rios (.274/.328/.436 this year, making $12.5 million this and next year, and a $14 million team option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout).

This isn’t the first report we’ve seen regarding Pirate interest in Schierholtz, and they probably aren’t alone in their interest. But given Schierholtz’s value to the Cubs, I doubt he’d be traded for less than solid value. There’s certainly no impetus to make a move for the sake of making a move.

The same is probably true for David DeJesus, though maybe slightly less so, given that DeJesus is four years older than Schierholtz, will likely make more money in 2013, and may be miscast as a center fielder. Still, he’s a productive player (106 OPS+ in center field) and a great teammate, one of whom the Cubs are fond.

“He’s running hard 90 feet down first base to show those kids what it looks like when a big-leaguer plays the game the right way,” Theo Epstein told CSN about DeJesus’s recent stint in Arizona. “So that’s really impressive. It had nothing to do with being traded or not traded, but I wanted to thank him for that. That means a lot. That makes us a better organization when you have guys doing something like that.

“He’s just a really good baseball player that has lived up to his contract. He’s a left-handed bat who has the exact approach we’re trying to teach in this organization.” (The CSN piece is a good read for additional thoughts from Epstein and DeJesus, himself.)

So, given his value and his contract, he definitely won’t be traded, right? Ah, you know better than that.

“Would that make him untouchable? No, no one’s untouchable,” Epstein told CSN. “[But] we’ll weigh out the options [and see] what’s best for the Cubs.”

That’s the appropriate line for any Cubs player going into the Trade Deadline, not just Schierholtz and DeJesus. But when it comes to reasonably valuable and movable trade pieces, the Cubs’ other two outfielders are probably going to draw a lot of interest this week. I tend to doubt the Cubs will affirmatively shop either player, but I expect that the Cubs will listen.

  • King Jeff

    Didn’t Schierholtz just get a cortisone shot and have some days off to heal up? I wonder if that’s going to hurt his trade value or even come up in a post-trade physical.

  • William

    I have a huge man crush on Schierholtz and would love to see him stay. I think he has a lot more value and is a better fit for our team than DeJesus. I love DeJusus and want to see him get a shot at a ring.

  • MDel

    I wouldn’t move either of them unless you are getting a Glasnow or Kingham type prospect back. Would a package that included Gregg get that for you… my mind tells me probably not. I’m not worried if I have them in my outfield for another year.

    • On The Farm

      Yeah, I agree with this. The haul for these guys would have to be pretty hefty (in my eyes getting Glansnow for Gregg/Schierholtz is a expensive, but nessicary price for Pittsburg to pay).

    • steve123

      Could not agree more. I think Glasnow has really climbed, as has Kingham. I almost think Gregg and Schierholtz would have to get us one of the two. I also think Pitt should be interested in Navarro, especially with a very weak backup catcher.

    • Adam

      No way Pittsburgh is giving up Glasnow to in-division rival. Also, Kevin Gregg has returned to his +6 ERA, honestly I’m not sure he adds much value at this point.

      We’d probably be looking at a guy like Clay Holmes for Schierholtz

      • On The Farm

        You are really going to judge Gregg on his SSS of 11 IP this month?

        • Fishin Phil

          Ordinarily I would say no. However, in this case I would argue that his earlier performance this year was actually the mirage.

        • Adam

          Yes absolutely

  • TulaneCubs

    Maybe it’s just semantics for what “shopped” really means, but I think the Cubs front office wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t check in with every team that needs outfield help on both players. And, to take that further, they wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t throw a proposal or two at those teams that would be beneficial to them.

    So, have they proactively asked other teams if they’re interested in those guys? I’d be stunned if that’s not the case.

    Are they going to agree to a deal they don’t feel comfortable with? Absolutely not.

    So, in my opinion, they’re certainly shopping these 2 guys around. They’re just going to make sure they get a good price if they deal them because they have them under control.

    • Edwin

      Nice points.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good stuff. To me, it is just a semantics issue – “shopping” connotes “we want to trade this guy, who’s going to make the best offer?” That’s just a personal thing, and I can see it the way you’ve described it as well.

      I’m sure the front office is doing their due diligence, whatever word we use to describe it.

      • Ivy Walls

        Here is the deal and it continues to bear repeating. Cubs are 16.5 games behind the division leader and 11.5 games out of the final WC spot.

        Any player that is not part of the potential 2015 roster or beyond. Both Schierholtz and DeJesus are not part of those plans so then it is all about timing.

        • Kyle

          What do those standings have to do with 2014?

          • Rebuilding

            I doubt there is anything more highly correlated to next year’s standings than this year’s standings. And yes, I know there are many examples of that not being true, but spread across 100 years of standings I’m sure it’s statistically significant

            • Kyle

              Well, this year’s pythagorean standings have a significantly higher correlation, for starters.

              • Rebuilding

                True, that is prob the only thing more correlated. So Pythagorean wise we are projected to finish with 74 wins which will put us 22 games behind the Cardinals and 14 behind the Reds. Not to mention behind the Nationals, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Giants and ties at 74 with the Mets and the Padres. The Brewers are the only team in the NL we are projected better than and that’s before any more sell-off

                • Rebuilding

                  Whoops forgot the Marlins. Easy to do

                • Kyle

                  Our pythagorean win percentage puts us on pace for 79 wins (which, iirc, is exactly what I said we projected to in the spring, disregarding a selloff).

                  • Rebuilding

                    Fangraphs has us projected, given our remaining strength of schedule, to end up -40 in run differential which would be 77 wins, but would leapfrog us over the Mets, Giants and Phillies

                    • Kyle

                      OK, so a jumping-off point of 77 wins for a team with a savvy front office, a pile of interesting upside players, and at least $30m to spend next year.

                      No reason we can’t get that up to the low-mid 80s and take our shot.

                    • Rebuilding

                      I say let’s do it if they can find guys like they did this offseason or maybe even 1-2 that they plan on keeping around after 2014. Just saying the odds are really, really low that it all comes together for a run so I hope they don’t do anything that would hamstring us in 2015 and beyond

                    • Kyle

                      I don’t think the odds are *that* low. The 2012 Nats and Giants were in the same place as the 2013 Pirates, Reds and Cardinals. We only need one to fail.

                    • Rebuilding

                      I hear you. The Pirates are only projected to be 100 runs better than us this year, so 10 wins, and I would expect a regression next year. Unfortunately, I think you could see the Nationals, Dodgers/Dbacks and Giants all progress

                    • Kyle

                      I totally get that we’re arguing semantics to a degree. The odds are low, but are they “that low” or are the “really low” or just “pretty low” or whatever.

                      2013 was a transition year more than it was a tank year, and 2014 looks even more transition-y.

                      The big signal is right here in the middle of the trade deadline. A huge chunk of the trade value we’ve taken has been in the form of 2014-ready MLB pitchers, not higher-upside, lower-level prospects. That’s a huge signal that we’re trying to do something in that year and not just looking past it to 2015.

            • Hansman1982

              Hmm, sounds like an interesting study to do over the winter.

              • Ivy Walls

                Now look it all this way,

                despite trading off pieces, every win over let us say 75 shows the program how much better the players that replace those traded off are.

                I think Cubs keep both OF’ers, no really pushing them and Sweeney is a role player regardless, not an impact player. The trade to watch begins in the middle IF, that spells the beginning of the change, then on the starting mound.

  • Josh

    I know this is incredibly minor, but have we gotten the PTBNL from Colorado and New York for Takahashi and Lillibridge?

    • ETS

      I think PTBNL are usually settled at the end of the minor league season. Though, I think it depends on the individual deal and all of this is just guessing on my part so…. probably wasted your time if you have read this far.

    • Jed Jam Band

      Those types of PTBNL’s are usually really minor. They don’t generally bring back relevant prospects, which is what made the the Carreno haul for Baker last year so bizarre.

      • Deacon

        Nothing bizarre about the return. Carreno has yet to pitch this year and was somewhat ‘damaged goods.’ That’s how we got him. The injury was undisclosed, though, so we thought Theo made a phenomenal deal.

    • cubchymyst

      I thought each was PTBNL or Cash. There might not be any players coming from any of those.

      • ssckelley

        Right, the fringe prospect the Cubs would get might not be worth a spot on their minor league team. Taking the cash might be the better option.

  • Leo L

    if we are going to eat Soriano salary anyway, and if these guys can give an equivalent type of prospect, then why not trade one of these guys and keep Soriano. or are we expecting more for Soriano?

    • hansman1982

      These two guys should give us better value and production next year than Soriano and, if the season doesn’t go as well as hoped, should have better trade value than Soriano will at the next deadline.

      • LEO L

        well the value I argue is tied in the fact that we are going to pay the salary anyway and production probably can be argued also I think. But I think your right about trade value next year if we have to go that route again. I was hoping the cubs would start being competitive again next year but doesn’t look like it right now.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Schierholtz to the Pirates for C Tony Sanchez and a bullpen arm makes just too much sense for both teams.

    • ssckelley

      Sanchez does not do much for me, he is not much of a hitter and has not had much success throwing out basestealers in the minors. If the Cubs cannot do better then this I think they should keep them.

  • Jed Jam Band

    I could see a Schierholtz/Russell package netting us a really nice return, especially considering their future value to us. Still, with Snider taking up about half (or more than half) of the PA’s in RF, you might think they’d be willing to take a hit on this one. After all, I think it’s probably pretty important for them to make the playoffs this year. It will be considered a major failure if they don’t, so, they should definitely be ready to deal what we want.

  • Since 58

    First time poster. Gotta say the comments put the lie to Sox fans whines about Cub fans not knowing squat. I would keep both Nate and DJ. If Castro doesn’t learn to give way to an outfielder on pop flies, we’ll need as many as we can get. BTW, IMO Castro will NEVER hit for power…he can’t get out and around the ball. Barney is actually a better pull hitter in terms of able to drive a pitch he’s looking for.

    • On The Farm

      I agree Starlin’s 30 HRs over the last three seasons compared to Barney’s 15 are clearly due to luck. Starlin’s ability to hit a ball had nothing to do with it. Castro can hit a ball hard and drive it to save his life.

      • William

        We do not need him to light it up in the power department. All we need is for him to hit fot average, get on base and improve his defense a lot. However, he does have the potential to hit 15 or 20 homeruns a year.

        • On The Farm

          I am not saying we need him to be a slugging SS, but to say he will never hit for power? He almost hit 15 last year, come on man!

          • William

            I was replying to Since 58 who said he will never hit for power. He has already shown glimpses that he can hit at least 20 homeruns a year.

            • Since 58

              Certainly didn’t mean to start a dust up. Couple of points. No Castro hate here, just stating what to me is obvious. Pitchers are not generally stupid. If I know SC will bite on junk in the dirt and or he can’t handle up and in, that’s where it’s going. If you watch the few times he gets into a “hitter’s count,” you’ll see what I mean. As for 15-20 HR “potential”…that’s nice. Then again playing half your games at WF?
              After all, Valbuena and Ransom are already there together, and Nate’s on pace for 15-20 playing part time. Travis Wood would hit 15-20 if he got SC’s ABs. Assuming Starlin’s defense improves at SS, he looks like a #7 or #8 hitter in a decent lineup to me. Of course there has been talk of moving him to 3B or OF…what would you think of his “power” numbers then?

    • Jed Jam Band

      The Castro hate mystifies me. His July numbers are quite good and we shouldn’t forget how good he is at baseball. He had a really rough start to the season, but, he seems to be turning a corner. We should be happy about THAT instead of harping on his continuing to be named Starlin Castro or whatever we’re complaining about these days. He hasn’t made an error in what, 3 or 4 weeks now? I mean, really, what are we complaining about right now?

      • Rebuilding

        I don’t think anyone hates Castro. He just has significant flaws that we all hope get patched up. Personally, the first two things I look at in every box score are Castro and Rizzo because they are so important. One stat that bothers me as much as the hitting is the fact that his Range Factor has always been right at 4.50 – which is decent – and this year has dropped to 4.09 which is not. That’s half a ball a game he is not getting to. Now the shifts might play some factor, but his Rg was 4.50 last year with the same shifts. For context Baez has sat at 5.0 the last two years in the minors.

        • Funn Dave

          Lol take a look at the cubs.com boards and tell me nobody hates Castro.

        • Ivy Walls

          no hate, merely cutting analysis, has he really improved since 2011?

    • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

      Since58, This is either a relative or Barney himself. Who honestly says Barney is a better pull hitter then Barney. Did you mean a better foul ball pull hitter cause then yes I agree.

      • Funn Dave

        Barney is a way better pull hitter than Barney. Barney could out-pull Barney any day of the week.

        • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

          Funny I meant Castro.

          • Funn Dave

            I know, just messin witcha :P

  • FastBall

    Keep Shierholtz trade DJ. We have Bogie, Sweeney, Bourbon and Lake. We got enough to get us by forgot Gillespie as well. That’s 6 OF’ers who are young enough and cost controlled. These guys would easily give us enough depth for next year while the youngsters continue to progress. Maybe even Vitters could be in the mix as a corner OF’er and back up 1B. Funny thing is I remember 5 months ago on here. The Shierholtz shark frenzy over his signing was incredible. Now he is an asset. LOL…. funny how the attitudes changed.
    We aren’t hurting for decent athletic OFer’s for the time being. Send DJ to the priates and get back something half way decent and move on.

    • On The Farm

      I would rather trade Schierholtz than DeJesus. Keep Kim around as long as possible :)

      • cavemencubbie

        Either that or make a deal for Kate Upton! :) Wrigley needs beautification.

    • Jed Jam Band

      Please see Castro’s July splits and numbers from his first three years as a Cub. Thanks.

      • Jed Jam Band

        Ah, crap. Replied to the wrong comment. Sorry.

    • Funn Dave

      When we first signed Nate, a SF fan came over to the cubs.com boards and posted a Youtube video of Nate utilizing his speed in the outfield. I pretty much fell in love on the spot.

  • FastBall

    She’s getting old for a fantasy GF. Sign somebody new who has an even hotter wife or GF so we can move on. show me a guy with a really hot GF and I can show you a guy who is bored to death. LOL

  • Jon

    I’d move Schierholtz for Glasnow in a heartbeat.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      Schierholtz, Gregg and Navarro for Glasnow, Justin Wilson and Pimental.

      Then:

      Villanueva, Dejesus and Russell for Henry Owens and Brandon Workman

  • Rebuilding

    The time to sell on Schierholtz is NOW. He is having a career season at 29 and is a platoon player. He’s slugging .521 as compared to .428 in his career. His HR/FB rate has jumped from 5.9% to 11.7% which is totally unsustainable. Before this season his career high in HRs was 9 and he bested that before the All-Star break. His stock will never be higher and Sweeney can give you the same production when he gets back

    • LEO L

      good point

    • On The Farm

      Wasn’t there a quote out there by Theo that the FO had devoted most of its time to getting the Garza deal right? I feel like if the Pirates are truly interested in Schierholtz and have the (unfortunate) need of a BP arm. There is no better time for a trade with them than right now, and now that Garza has been moved they can devote their resources accordingly.

    • Cubswin

      I agree Schierholtz should probably paired with someone else and be traded. This will net a solid return. I like Schierholtz and loved when we signed him especially on the deal we did, but your right Sweeney can come back and provide the same offense. We should resign Sweeney for next year…. still young and will be cheap contract.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Here are what I see as our chances of who is traded before the deadline…

    Kevin Gregg – 90%
    Alfonso Soriano – 80%
    Jeff Russell – 70%
    Luis Valbuena – 60%
    Darwin Barney – 50%
    David Dejesus – 50%
    Nate Schierholtz – 50%
    Starlin Castro – 30%
    Jeff Samardzija – 20%

    That was fun. FYI, although it’s highly likely we will trade Kevin Gregg, the return will be close to nothing. MAYBE a Top 15-20 in a White Sox-grade organization or lower end of Top 40 for a Cardinals-grade organization. Confidence in a Gregg renaissance was most likely already questioned and his recent performance more than validates that this is not Kevin Gregg’s more effective twin brother (Gregory Gregg?). It is Kevin Gregg… and he is a below average closer or decent bullpen piece.

    • Rebuilding

      I think you are way too high on the last two (Samardzija and Castro) who I would both put as <1%

    • Dustin S

      Castro has a $60M contract through 2019 (with an option for 2020), so he’s in the same boat as Rizzo. Fans might grumble about him at times, but the Cubs are pretty committed to both of them long-term. That contract makes it about as close to not-gonna-happen as it gets.

      For Samardzija, it just comes down to whether or not they still think there’s an extension chance. If they were to deal him, I think it would probably be more of an offseason or maybe 2014 trade deadline move. Shark might be next year’s Garza/Dempster.

      The thing bumping up the chances of Dejesus and Schierholtz getting traded is more on the demand side. For whatever reason it seems like there are a lot of teams looking for an OF bat and beyond Rios and a few other names there isn’t a lot of supply. So because of the low supply/high demand situation for OF on the market, I think one of the 2 will be traded (but not both).

      • CubsFaninMS

        I agree. I would revise my Castro and Samardzija chances downward a little. I agree that there’s a very high chance either Schierholtz or Dejesus is traded. I’d put the odds of ONE of them being traded up around where Gregg is due to (as you said) demand. Unfortunately, our bargaining position has weakened on Gregg but, with Strop and Parker, Gregg is all but expendable to us this year. Absolutely no reason to keep him.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    Both are going to go..in addition to the wake of all these young infielders we have, some are going to the outfield. Vitters has already move to left.

  • The real Goat

    Keep nate

  • Kyle

    We better get something *really* good if we’re handing the Pirates a cost-controlled OF option for 2014.

    • On The Farm

      Is someone like Glansnow enough for you? Just curious as to your thoughts of what it would take

      • Jed Jam Band

        Glasnow would be enough for me, that’s for sure.

      • Rebuilding

        Not Kyle, but I think Glasnow has risen too significantly this year to be realistic for Schierholtz + arm. Dare to dream though

        • On The Farm

          Yes I would be happy with it, but he put *really* so I was just curious as to what kind of trade would it take?

      • Kyle

        That’d be enough, yes.

  • ripiceman

    This one’s simple folks. If you have a chance to trade Schierholtz and get any sort of value back in the terms of prospects, you do it in a heartbeat. While Schierholtz is relatively young, picked up on the cheap, and controllable, he is much more valuable on the trading block than in a Cubs uniform.

    Everything the Cubs have been doing has been with 2015 and beyond in mind. The question really comes down to this… is current Cub player X a definite starter/contributor when we plan to be a contender in 2015? If not, your job as a GM is to sell player X at the highest point of value to maximize your return. ITS THAT SIMPLE!!!

    The only players on the current Cub major league team that fit into the 2015 plan is Rizzo, Castro, Shark, Wood, and probably Lake and Castillo. Anybody else on this team that has any value on the trade market especially ones such as Schierholtz, whose value is at its highest right now, should be shopped and moved without pause. If Schierholtz and DeJesus and Soriano are gone, dont worry we have Sweeney and Lake and Vitters and Sappelt who can take their places.

    Again folks, ask yourself this question they next time you consider trades… if they are not going to be part of your contending team, move them while their value is at its highest!

    This has been your Cubs public service announcement. Your cooperation and understanding is much appreciated!

    • Kyle

      “Everything the Cubs have been doing has been with 2015 and beyond in mind.”

      Edwin Jackson on line 1.

      • Rebuilding

        Glue signing, not a difference maker. And a serviceable 5th starter in 2015-16 when you don’t know how the rest of the pitching market/prospects will shape up

        • Kyle

          So we paid $52 million dollars for a glue signing and two years of a serviceable fifth starter?

          Of course we didn’t. We paid Edwin Jackson because we are trying to win baseball games in 2013 and 2014.

          • Rebuilding

            I would argue that we signed Edwin Jackson because we missed out on Anibal Sanchez, we had money for one decent FA and there are advantages to keeping a certain level of respectability

            • Kyle

              So then you agree that he wasn’t signed for 2015 only, which means that the original poster was wrong when he said everything we do is targetted toward that timeframe. Cool.

              • Rebuilding

                In the sense that we have to field a team in 2013 and 2014, yes I guess that’s right. The poster right below sums up my thoughts on it nicely

              • ripiceman

                Furthermore, as you have seen with Jake Peavy or Bud Norris, it seems that cost predictibility and cost control have become much more valuable for baseball GMs than in year’s past. The fact of the matter is that certain teams will not even engage in trade discussions for players that are rentals. Its why the Red Sox, Indians and Dbacks were sniffing around on the Garza market but generally stayed out. These teams value control of player for this year and next at a fixed cost more valuable than a rental. Thats why they go after a guy like Peavy because he comes at a fixed cost of $14M next year. If Edwin Jackson performs to his norm, he could be a valuable trade target in 2014 or especially 2015.

                • Kyle

                  That’s a crazybuckets interpretation of what happens in trade discussions.

                • Rebuilding

                  To disagree with you a little – all reports I hear (it’s been on all of the White Sox pregame) is that teams are really skittish about Peavy because of that extra year at $14 mil. It’s a big risk

                  • ripiceman

                    The risk on Peavy is his health not the contract.

                    • Rebuilding

                      The two are related dont you think? No one wants to pay $14 mil next year to a guy whose arm might fall off

                    • ripiceman

                      i agree… in Peavy’s case… they are related. But it doesn’t negate my overall point.

                • ssckelley

                  I agree with you on teams putting more value on players that have control beyond this year but Peavy is not an example of that. It has been well documented that the injury risk associated with Peavy is not worth the salary he is getting paid. Peavy’s trade value right now is not very good, the Sox may get stuck paying for a portion of next years contract for them to move him.

                  A little off topic but the Sox are in a horrible situation right now, aging team with not many trade chips and a bad farm system. They are looking at a major overhaul.

          • ripiceman

            Edwin Jackson was signed to eat innings and to be the one known quantity in the starting rotation to carry them through till 2015-16. Unfortunately, $52M over 4 years was the going rate for innings eaters and known quantities. Its also why I think they went after Anibal Sanchez.

            Simply put, Cubs didn’t know what they had in Garza, Shark, Wood, Feldman, Villaneuva, Baker etc. coming into the season. Fortunately, Shark and Wood have become core starters. Plan worked as best as it could have regarding Garza and he got moved. Feldman signing worked out and he got moved. Baker signing hasn’t worked out. Villanueva was brought in for the very purpose he’s being used in now and he may get moved.

            If these hadn’t worked out, think about where we would have been? I truly believe that Jackson was signed to be that known pitching quantity that could eat innings and maybe save the bullpen. He may have been the consolation to Sveum for the season he had to put up with in 2012 with the pitching staff.

            • Kyle

              That’s silly. We could have easily signed a much cheaper player to eat innings.

              You can get Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley up here if all you care about is having innings eaten and aren’t trying to win games. You don’t need to pay Jackson $19m this year to do it.

              • Rebuilding

                So the signing of Jackson was a signal to you that they were going for it in 2013? Nothing else they have done suggests that. In the grand scheme of things I don’t think the Jackson signing makes much sense, but to a big market club I can see them doing it to keep payroll above $100 million, say see we signed a decent FA that’s not a reclamation and maintain some respectability while they pursue their real plan

                • Kyle

                  “Going for it” is such a meaningless term.

                  Baseball teams exist on a continuum of competitiveness, sure, and that slightly colors their decision-making. But there aren’t just two modes of “going for it!!!!” or “don’t care about this year at all, only want prospects!!!!!”

                  There were probably a few million that could have gone to MLB payroll that got shifted to the IFA budget. They probably weren’t that interested in the types of 32-year-old, 6-year-contract free agents where you know you are going to regret it later.

                  But beyond those small limitations, they were doing everything in their power to try to put together a winning team for 2013, and they didn’t do that bad of a job. They’ll try just as hard in 2014, and they have a bit better starting point than they did last year at this time.

                  They don’t just care about 2015 and beyond. That’s ludicrous.

                  • Funn Dave

                    “’Going for it’” is such a meaningless term.

                    Baseball teams exist on a continuum of competitiveness, sure, and that slightly colors their decision-making. But there aren’t just two modes of ‘going for it!!!!’ or ‘don’t care about this year at all, only want prospects!!!!!'”

                    Thanks for pointing this out, Kyle. This is something I wish more of the backseat managers out there would realize. Baseball isn’t black-and-white. Also, I think there’s something to be said for wanting to be competetive for every game regardless of where you are in the standings. Granted, our team’s history kind of necessitates an emphasis on winning the big one, but I think it still holds true for the most part.

                  • ripiceman

                    i respect and understand the argument that you are making but i guess this has to do about priorities. As you eloquently stated, baseball teams do exist on a continuum of competitiveness but at some point long-term goals supercede short-term goals. Theo himself has stated the desire for this team to grow and improve at every level and that there will be parallel efforts but the short-term goal of winning this year will not undermine the long-term plan of building a team that produce sustained success.

                    I do agree that the Cubs did make an effort to try and win more this year but to argue they did everything in their power is just flat out wrong. Their pursuit of winning this year was to start cultivating an environment of winning, hope for the fans of the now and the future, and they chose individuals who would help them cultivate that environment while also providing value from a trade front. But winning games this year would definitely not come at the price of mortgaging the future, even if the Cubs were contention right now.

                  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                    1) You have short-term v. long-term thinking here
                    2) On such a continuum, do you really want to be in the middle? Because decision making is at least about :
                    a) what do you know?
                    b) to what certainty do you know it?
                    c) what unknowns do you have to consider?
                    d) and what are the downsides to those unknowns?
                    e) what risks are worth taking?
                    f) what assets do you have that make any decision worth doing?
                    g) How much can you afford to risk?

                    At either extreme, the decisions are much more obvious to make. This team, while competitive enough, had Achilles in the BP, and non-Herculean efforts at the plate. They were average to below aside from start pitching. So it was about picking a short-term plan that marries to long-term planning. They chose, and we watch.

                    Lastly, If you have such strong opinions, critiques, that make you an expert, then by all means, you should dedicate yourself towards that goal. Reading you is like a really rude version of Siskel and Ebert.

                    • ripiceman

                      Are you talking to me?

                • EQ76

                  Signing EJax wasn’t just to get an “Innings eater” or to try to go for it in 2013.. this is a puzzle and they’re putting pieces in one at a time. Jackson is a stable piece that fits. Innings eater? sure, but more importantly, he’s a guy with experience that (in theory) keeps you in ball games and is consistent. That’s a great value to have on your team.

                  Management doesn’t want to keep losing 100 games until a bunch of prospects show up and hit their prime 5 years from now. They didn’t really expect to win it all this year but aren’t “tanking” either. This year would have been a much better year if Rizzo, Castro and our bullpen weren’t under-performing.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    Management doesn’t want to keep losing 100 games until a bunch of prospects show up and hit their prime 5 years from now. They didn’t really expect to win it all this year but aren’t “tanking” either.

                    Why? Cubs fans are White Sox fans. They’ll still watch and show up. I guess once Theo and Co decided to go this route, I became (though painful at times) ok with the idea of 3 seasons of close to 100 loses for the team. It means higher draft picks, more international pool money. No, I didn’t expect them to intentional do this. I know that they can find value in FAs and some trade acquisitions and the ultimate outcome with those players even for a half a season could mean a more respectable record, but I didn’t think 100 loses three seasons in a row was out of the question.

                • ssckelley

                  I don’t think the Cubs approached 2013 thinking it was a wasted season. The Cubs were a couple of bullpen arms away from being pretty damn good this year. They went out and got value, trying to win, and when it did not work out now they are building for next year and beyond. Jackson was part of that process, they did not sign him just to eat innings.

                  • ripiceman

                    What does “pretty damn good this year” mean? Please quantify this because anything else is pointless.

                    What does “trying to win” mean to you? Win what? Games? The only thing i care about is World Series.

                    Theo said it himself… he doesn’t see any value winning more games this year if the team cannot make the playoffs. What really is the difference between winning 70 games vs 65. Is winning 70 make you feel better?

                    the FO goal is to “win 90 games and dominate the division.” Their long-term overarching plan is the one that gets them to this goal.

                • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                  There is always hope to catch lighting in a bottle. Seeing Jackson as a meatball pitcher, or the ultimate solution, is going too far either way.

                  If you look at Fangraphs, his FIP ERA has been in 3.6-3.8 range since 2010. He’s actually been respectable. Part of the problem, your FA pitching is filled with Jacksons, Garzas, Lillies, and Dempsters. No aces – just 2-5 starters. Deciding who is gonna breakout, or perform better than before, is a gamble, a risk.

                  If the bullpen would have been rock solid, and the rash of CF injuries had been less, we very well could have been buyers, or even held position, assuming Pitt and STL were within say 5 games.

                  Be a bit glad we weren’t in that limbo. I guess the question is: you want to be 85 win good, risk your farm system for acquiring talent, which is what you do, to get 2-5 wins more, to go to the playoffs, and likely, lose? I think not.

                  You want to be stellar, 90+ wins with young talent, get one piece if needed – big superstar, that gets you to 100 wins. It is possible, just the Cubs haven’t built too much on just young talent.

                  1984: FA and Trades
                  2003-2008: Trades, FAs, and some homegrown pitching.

                  How bout we go towards the Rays model…or Oakland’s model.

                  Use that, then apply the Chicago model spin – we can outbid all but the Dodgers, for premium talent at premium cost.

              • ripiceman

                Its also about self preservation until we get to 2015-16. You can’t run out starters just to start. If all of your starters are going 5 innings a night, you’re completely crippling yourself. Rusin and Raley are just guys who can start in a pinch. They aren’t guys who you can lean on to try and go 7-8 innings every start and not completely tax your bullpen.

                Once again, I cannot stress enough the importance of known quantity (consistently healthy) and eating innings. Its why #3-4 starters are getting paid so much money. Anibal Sanchez, kyle lohse, Ryan Dempster all in that same range of money… all do the same thing. Plus Jackson was in his prime and has been a guy who has been consistently healthy. Again, when you consider all the other injury risks(Garza/Baker) and unknowns, it makes sense.

                • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                  ^^^ this supports what I said. Good points.

                • Kyle

                  If you aren’t trying to win in 2013-14, why do you care if you cripple yourself with Raley or Rusin or whomever?

    • Chris

      Pretty pretty brilliant.

  • Aaron

    The time to move Kevin Gregg was a few weeks ago. His value appears to be dropping by the day. Let’s trade him soon. Any takers?

    • DarthHater

      Sure. Tyson’s Chicken will give you a truckload of alcoholic chicken beverage for him.

      • Funn Dave

        …ew.

  • auggie55

    I like both DeJesus and Schierholtz, however for the right price seeing them traded would not bother me. What has upset me is the talk of trading Russell. He is only 27 and is the best LOOGY on this staff. You see guys like this pitch until they are 40. Russell is still young, why do people want to trade him?

    • ripiceman

      Simple because generally speaking middle relievers are high replaceable, generally not good bets to be great season to season (because of workload), and is a position with high turnover. Lefty relievers such as Russell are no different than other Cub lefty relievers. Success is based on season to season rather than a consistent level of greatness. (See examples such as Neal Cotts, John Grabow, Scott Eyre, Mike Remlinger). So, if you get a solid return on Russell, as the Cubs did with Sean Marshall, you make a deal and ask questions later.

      Closers on the other hand are much more valuable to have and keep around. Russell is not a closer and doesn’t project to be one either.

      • Funn Dave

        At the same time, though, we shouldn’t underestimate Russel, either. The Cubs have put a lot of work into him & I think most Cub fans would like to see that work pay off, which adds a slight sentimental value as well.

      • Scotti

        The fallacy in your argument is that both Sean Marshall and James Russell have been consistently very, very good in relief since 2009 and 2011 respectively (Marshall sucked in 9 starts in 2009 but was really good in relief and Russell sucked in 5 starts in 2011 but he was really good in relief).

        The truth of the matter is that neither is a middle reliever–both are used as setup guys (the Cubs just haven’t had much to set up the last couple of years). Russell has 30 holds, 2 saves and 8 wins in the last year and a half and Marshall, while out most of this year, has 85 holds, 15 saves and 18 wins in the last three plus years. That’s not middle relief. That’s setup.

        I agree with the notion of getting value for Russell if it is offered. I’m all for it. But not because of any notion that non-closers aren’t consistent. Rather, the fact remains that the Cubs have very little chance of winning over the next couple of years so, if a team comes along and wows you, you make that deal with any player.

        The whole middle relief isn’t stable from one year to the next is just a fault of ERA being volatile when you have guys pitching small sample sizes and giving up more than a run or two in that outing. A starter can give up several runs in the first and not get pulled. That starter then lowers his GAME ERA over the course of the game (say from 27.00 to 4.50 or 6.00–that’s a significant factor in overall ERA). Closers are “consistent” merely because the game is over if he gives up runs (often, those runs aren’t even his) and the option of multiple runs in an inning is diminished by that fact. This is why a closer will often have a higher ERA when he is brought in to “get work” but not close out a game. Nothing to do with “adrenaline” but, rather, the manager leaving him in for an inning regardless of how many of his own runs score. Game dynamics usually don’t allow for that when a closer is getting a save.

  • Jp3

    Interesting article Paul Sullivan wrote today on Soriano’s NTC. He said he may be the last Cubs player to have that (other than 10-5 rights) for a while. Not that I’m considering Sullivan’s word as gospel but there was someone on here last night that said it wasn’t certain Soriano squashed that trade last year with the Giants and PS said he did siting bad knees and cold weather. I wonder if Sory sits again tonight? Also funny bit in the article about Dempster playing Golden Tee in the office while they’re trying to trade him last year. What a tool.

    • YourResidentJag

      If that the case, Ellsbury as a FA is off the table. Fine by me. I really hope the FO doesn’t mistakenly sign him.

    • Scotti

      The tool is Sullivan.

      “Cubs president Theo Epstein doesn’t believe in giving out no-trade clauses in contracts, and Soriano is the last player remaining to have one.

      For the last four years, several Cubs have either wavered or declined to waive their no-trade rights, including Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Carlos Marmol and Soriano.”

      Aramis, Dempster, Lee and Soriano all had 10-5 rights and Wood had just signed his deal, well south of what he could have gotten elsewhere, to be able to have his daughter cared for at Chicago’s Children Memorial (at the time about a mile from Wrigley in Lincoln Park). It was a great deal for the Cubs (and Theo even re-signed him albeit under the gun from Cub fans and TR).

      Does Theo not believe in 10-5 rights? Will he trade all the Cubs players before year 9 or 10? Will he never re-sign a successful Cub (thus creating 10-5 rights)? Uh, no.

      So, yeah, Carlos Marmol got a NTC that interfered with the team’s plans. But that doesn’t have the same ring as Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Carlos Marmol and Soriano, does it? Sullivan is a moran–Get a Brain!

  • Brandon

    If either of them are in the plans for 2015 you extend them, if not you trade them now(with a decent return) while they are still under team control.

  • Jp3

    Big Z cut by the Phils! Sign him quick!

    • ssckelley

      Wow, that sucks for Zambrano. The last time I looked he was pitching pretty good in the minors.

    • Jp3

      His stats aren’t bad at Leigh Valley, is Sandberg still there? I’m sure Z was probably his favorite guy in the clubhouse..

      • ssckelley

        Guess he hurt his shoulder and has not pitched for a month.

  • Rich

    Would a guy like Nate be still able to play at his level in 2015 / 2016 ? I dont know enough to say yes or not..He is not a “core” guy, but a nice super sub and plays hard.
    If he alone or he and another gets a better player…then I get it..

  • RY34

    Keep both DeJesus and Schierholtz; when we trade Gregg, does Strop become closer? Good god hopefully not Bowden or Rondon

  • Aaron

    The Cubs seem to be taking a very smart and patient approach in putting a possible deal together with the Pirates. We have a few pieces that they want, including Nate Schierholtz. Everybody knows what we want…quality young pitching prospects. It’s going to be fun watching this unfold until the trading deadline.

  • Funn Dave

    Excellent article & analysis.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Unless Cubs plan on spending significant F/A dollars for OF help in 2014 like Elsbury or Choo then we will need to keep 2 of 3 out of DeJesus, Schierholtz, and Sweeney. Other than Lake there is no immediate help coming from the system with Jackson floundering and Vitters a questionable option.
    If the best return is on Schierholtz then move him. I would think Schierholtz + Navarro to Pirates should yield either Kingham or Glasnow.
    Braves are now looking for a starter and LHP Russell. Why not offer Villanueva and Russell for RHP Sims.

  • Jp3

    So the speculation continues! Not really I guess we’re facing a lefty… Gillespie in RF, Lake CF, and The Ponderer in LF. I like that Lake isn’t coming out no matter what right now. Pretty sure if he keeps some of his electric play he won’t be the one going back down… You’d have to think Bogusivic is going to get the shaft on that one.

  • Jp3

    With Soriano playing the Bro-Hug watch is definitely on this evening.

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