stoveThe offseason is still a ways off …

  • Apropos of yesterday’s extensive financial discussion, the Cubs have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for expected Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka. Peter Gammons wrote that a number of MLB clubs are scouting Tanaka, the 24-year-old righty who has been dominating in Japan for years, and suggested that the Cubs – together with the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, and Mariners – could be involved. Gammons’ tweet in reference to his story seemed to more directly imply that the Cubs are scouting Tanaka, but that could just be an inconvenient headline coupled with a hashtag (you’ll understand what I mean if you look at the tweet, and then the article). Long story short: Gammons didn’t quite say the Cubs are definitely scouting Tanaka at this point, but he did suggest they could be involved if and when Tanaka is posted this offseason. In case you missed earlier discussions of Tanaka, who is expected to be quite pricey (so, query how involved the Cubs would really be at this point (… but I tend to think they’d make an exception for someone like him)), you can read more about him here. We likely won’t hear much in the way of solid rumors on interest in Tanaka until after the season. Heck, it remains possible that he won’t even be posted.
  • Buster Olney takes an early look at free agency, discussing ten free agents who’ve helped their stock, and ten who’ve hurt it. Ervin Santana and Jacoby Ellsbury top the former list, while Josh Johnson and Michael Morse sit atop the latter, along with guys like Corey Hart and Roy Halladay. I have a feeling that the Cubs will be more active on the “down” list – reclamation types – than the “up” list. Depending on the price tag and years involved, two names on the “down” list jump out at me immediately as intriguing buy low, short-term opportunities: Phil Hughes and Curtis Granderson. We’ll have to discuss them more later.
  • Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and, among his thoughts … (1) Darwin Barney remains a trade candidate, given his elite defense (Levine has said for a while, and I agree, that Barney fits a lot better on an offensive-heavy team; that said, I think Barney underperformed his peripherals this year at the plate, and was probably a bit better than we think – trading him now would be a pure dump); (2) Levine doesn’t think it makes sense to move Starlin Castro to another position – it’s either shortstop or a trade (I agree in the sense that I don’t think Castro’s bat is going to do much for you outside of shortstop, but I think it’s going to be tough to get much value for him this offseason, even with the upside); and (3) it doesn’t sound like from Levine’s response to a question about Cuban slugger Jose Abreu that the Cubs will be involved.
  • Steve Adams chatted at MLBTR, and the biggest thing that will jump out at folks is his comment that the Cubs “will be huge players” for Robinson Cano this offseason. I didn’t expect that to be the case before Theo Epstein’s payroll comments earlier in the week, and I definitely don’t expect it now. Cano is a great player, but he’s going to be most valuable in 2014 and 2015, when the Cubs are least likely to need someone like him. Further, the infield is where the most crowding is going to occur in the next few years, so Cano only adds to that difficulty. That said, I can get past all of that stuff (maybe the Cubs make a couple more moves to make a surprise push in 2014; maybe they trade away some of that infield depth; maybe they acknowledge you’ve got to sign guys when they’re available). The part I can’t get past is the expected $150 to $200 million contract. I just don’t see that being the right investment for the Cubs right now.
  • jon

    The Cubs will make a buzz about being interested, but ultimately will make a half-hearted offer/attempt at getting him.

  • King Jeff

    I hope the Cubs are in on Tanaka, but the blind posting system worries me. I’ve read that MLB and NPB are negotiating to abolish the posting system in favor of something more reasonable, so it’s possible that we see a rush of some of the poorer teams over there posting their eligible guys as soon as they can.

  • Joe H

    I would love to see them spend the money on Ellsbury or Choo so they could have a high .OBP type of player at the top of the lineup for the next 3-6 years. Nothing like that coming from the farm and they need the left-handed bat with all the righties on the way. Morse or Hart could be good short-term pick-ups to fill the power gap while we wait for Bryant and Soler. Should be an exciting off-season.

  • North Side Irish

    Hughes was a name I thought the Cubs might have interest in based on his age and past stuff. He was one of the few FA starters under 30 which seems to be the FO’s profile for FA targets. However, I can see the Yankees extending the qualifying offer and I don’t think he’s worth the contract he’d require and the draft pick loss.

    I honestly don’t think the Cubs sign any FA this offseason to a $10M+ annual salary. I think they will try to find more Feldman and Schierholtz types and depressing as that may be, it is probably the right move.

    • jon

      Not that I’m advocating signing Cano, but because of the Cubs record, they aren’t going to lose a draft pick this year as FA compensation.

      • jon

        *check that 1st round pick, I’m assuming nobody cares about losing a 2nd rounder, right?

        • North Side Irish

          I’d be OK with losing the 2nd round pick for Choo/Cano/Ellsbury…but not for a Hughes/E. Santana level player.

        • Hookers or Cake

          We signed Pierce Johnson with the 43rd pick in ’12 for compensation for the Brewers signing Ramirez. (Anyone still wish we didn’t let Ramirez go? I’m sure the Brewers would let us have him back for the 20 mill they owe him next year)
          The only way I see the Cubs signing a lose a pic guy is if he value/contract is deflated because of it. AKA Bourn last year.

    • Edwin

      Would the Yankees actually give Hughes a qualifying offer though? Hughes hasn’t been that good the last two years, and QO is what, an estimated $12M or so? I’d think Hughes would take that in a heartbeat, since it’s probably not much more than he’d make in total on a 2-3 year deal anyways.

      I’d rather the Cubs avoid Hughes, just based on how Hughes has pitched.

  • Rizzo44

    I seriously want Ellsbury very, very badly. A great leadoff hitter, one of the fastest guys in the MLB, leads the league in stolen bases, good defender. I think he would help more than Cano. Cano is 2B, we have Alcantara, Barney, maybe even Baez at 2B in the future. Putting Ellsbury leadoff would help this team big-time. In 2016 we could see a lineup like Ellsbury, Castro, Baez, Riz, Bryant, Soler, Jimenez, Castillo. Ellsbury is mire valuable than Cano. Maybe even cheaper.

    • Noah

      Eloy Jimenez is going to be 19 in the 2016 season and in just his 3rd professional season. If everything goes perfectly, he’s splitting time between High A and Double A that year. He won’t be on the active roster at that point.

      • Corey

        haha yeah, barring hitting .500 or something consistently. I’d move Bryant to Jimenez place and put Olt at 3rd.

      • jon

        I think it’s a bit odd/risky to be plotting a 16 year into future big league plans.

      • Bilbo161

        Would love to see Jimenez stateside in a couple years. That is when we will start to get a feel for his real value.

        • Noah

          Exactly. He won’t even be stateside in 2014. He’ll be in the DSL. If he CRUSHES the DSL, there is a miniscule chance the Cubs move him straight to Peoria. Odds are, though, for best case scenario for Jimenez you’re looking at the following:

          2014: DSL
          2015: Boise
          2016: Kane County/Daytona
          2017: Tennessee
          2018: Iowa/MLB

          So best case scenario means Jimenez probably doesn’t reach the Majors until the back half of 2018, when he’d be all of 21 years old.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            If they move him to Peoria I hope they use the time machine and go back a couple years so the Cubs can hang onto him.

    • JB

      Why do people keep putting Rizzo at the top of future line-ups? People need to wake up. Rizzo will be no better than a #5/6 hitter for his career. He’s a nice player, dont get me wrong, but I just don’t see the 35+ HR and 125+RBI guy batting .290-.325 like good teams have at #3/4. He has a huge hole in his swing, and he can’t decide if he wants to be a power hitter or average hitter. I can’t say this season is a glitch, because it actually happened. I’d love to sit here and say all these guys are going to pan out and we’re going to be a great team in 2-3 years, but putting htese guys into a MLB line-up years before they even start to produce is rediculous. Maybe 2-3 of these players end up in MLB, but it’s doubtful they produce immediately. As a Cubs fan, it’s gonna take 5 years plus til we see a contender without buying some big name free agents.

      • Brains

        I think this is right but I still think Rizzo is our best piece to build around. We need good #5’s too! If he ends up a 25 homer / 30 double / .275 line i still see that as a contribution, assuming we have a team for him to play on. And I think he’ll hit more when we have a real lineup in 4-8 years.

      • Jay

        Rizzo—on pace for 25/85 in his first FULL big league season at age 23. On pace for at least 40 doubles and 90 walks. OBP of nearly .330 and OPS of .750. Not awesome numbers, but get back to me in 2-3 years and tell me again where you think he should be hitting.

      • Chef Brian

        Where do all these harsh, impatient criticisms come from? You have all ready looked in your crystal ball and mapped out a 23 yr olds ceiling after watching his first full season in the majors. Do you think all ball players come up and crush the ball in their first full season? Has he met every fan’s expectations? No, only because most peoples expectations were unfair to begin with. If you are going to build a team through the farm system, you are going to need to develop a hell of a lot more patience, otherwise you’d be giving up on prospec itts too soon and watch them develop with other teams. Take a breath and get back in 2 yrs when he’s batting 3rd.

        • MoneyBoy

          It really is disgusting!!

          • Rizzovoir Dog

            People have no patience nowadays.

    • Jim

      Any chance the Cubs could pry Sale from the Sox for 3-4 prospects? One of the big guys (e.g., Soler) certainly would have to be in the deal and at least one of the other prospects would be at the Alcantara level. Sale is under control at a team-friendly price for something like six years. The prospects obviously have potential, but having Sale for six years would be hard to turn down. You add Sale and then go sign Choo or Elsbury and the Cubs opening day roster next year is much stronger. If the Cubs can’t get Jeff S. signed to a long-term deal, they’d could trade him and get at least one potential high-impact prospect back. I’d take Sale over Jeff S. all day long, but it would be great to have both of them in the rotation for the next five years. Sale and one of those OFs would add around $20M to next year’s payroll.

  • Cheryl

    Given the cubs past history with Japanese players like Darvish I think this time they’ll be heavily involved with Tanaka and in fact will probably be the high bidder. He’s only 24 and would fit in with their plans for being competitive in 2015 and would be someone the cubs could point to in terms of being more than a mediocre team occupying the cellar in 2013. They need to reassure fans, The reasoning may be – look we’ve made a major commitment here.

  • Corey

    Crowded infield, crowded outfield.

    It’s a great problem to have, especially considering the success rate of prospects.

  • Cizzle

    Barney’s dWar is down over 2 games from last year and personally I don’t see the “elite” defense he had last year. I’d dump him, I can’t stand watching him at the plate anymore.

    • ETS

      Is that from fangraphs or BR? BR dWar is suspect. Either way, John Dewan’s “Runs Saved” are the defensive stat I trust the most.

  • 1060Ivy

    Fully expecting the Cubs to continue in their tradition of being rumored to be the second highest bidder for higher priced free agent talent. The tradition usually makes the hot stove league feel a bit warmer come winter.

    • willis

      Haha…seems to be the case every time. And I agree it will be the case here. I can’t see them coughing up major money like that.

  • Cubbie in NC

    If Tanaka is a #1 or #2 starter then I am all in for the Cubs spending money on him.

    If not then they can get 10 guys in the offseason that are back of the rotation types much cheaper. But long term the Cubs are going to need to upgrade the top end of their rotation to go anywhere in the playoffs.

    • willis

      Very true. I do not believe the Cubs have a #1 or even a #2 in Shark. I think he’s a solid #3. Arrieta, EJax, Wood are all #4/5 types. There are plenty of those around and in the system also, it’s time to kick the tires on a #1/#2 type.

  • Brains

    I’m starting to note a register of despair in Brett’s posts. Or maybe my despair is great enough that I see it in others…

    • MichiganGoat

      or you are seeing your desperation in everybodys comments and hoping that everyone taps you on the back and says… “There you go kid you were right everything is horrible the sky is falling and you were right, you were right WE DIDN’T LISTEN YOU WERE RIGHT!”

      • Brains

        I’d rather be wrong and see the Cubs win. Or is “winning” a troll-worthy comment to you too? Why try someday when we can say that we’ll eventually try? The answer is in Theo’s interview about his bosses, who are making him look bad. He said it as diplomatically as possible.

      • Chef Brian

        Ahhh Goat, I couldn’t agree with you more. The level of alarmist banter and desperation, combined with “the FO does nothing right”, why don’t they sign all the players, and Ricketts is swimming in a vault full of money while laughing at the fans, etc. is reaching a fever pitch. I personally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been a Cub’s fan through truly cheap owners (Wrigley, and Tribune before the end) and I have developed the patience of a Buddhist Monk. A little apprehension is understandable, but this outright panic is nuts and kind of comical.

        • Rebuilding

          If those were the points anyone was actually making I would agree with you too

          • baseballet

            Two of the three points aren’t even true.

  • CubbieBubba

    ‘when the Cubs are least likely to need someone like him’ …unless the need is to put people in seats, or get people to expect the cubs to lose fewer than 90 games. I really hope the cubs to make some kind of good faith move, making the games less painful to watch. There are plenty of teams that are able to rebuild without drowning in the cellar for years on end.

  • Blublud

    I don’t expect this to happen, but if the Cubs could land Cano, Tanaka and Abreu in the offseason, would they not become instant contenders.

    I don’t understand them not being in on Abreu. If Theo is not at least in, then he is an Idiot. An GM that’s not at least in on a generational type player, then they are all stupid.

    • Brains

      I agree with everyone, btw, that if Cano gets a high contract over 8 years that it will be a disaster at the end. He’s an amazing player well tracked for an AL team. But if we can get him for 25m per year for 7 years we gotta do it. Any other perspective is regressive.

    • Nate

      Where does he play? If he can play left sure but what do you do with Rizzo if both can only play first?

  • Rebuilding

    Here is a nice recap article on Tanaka with scouting report and video:

    He’s exactly what this team needs so I suspect we’ll not get him and then float a rumor we were 2nd in the bidding. Hope I’m wrong

    • Jason Powers

      Some issues on Tanaka:

      In the video I clocked Tanaka to home in the stretch at over 2secs @ the 2:13 mark when he is out of the stretch I clocked 2.3 seconds to home on back to back deals.
      His mechanics will have to be changed (consistent slide step) to get that to 1.3-4 to be respectably average. At 3:11 mark he does employ the slide step to get 1.38 to home. So that was a better offering of his abilities.

      I see a lot of moving parts in that windup, a style seen in many that transition for the Far East.

      He tends to slow up his forward movement on his breaking pitches as seen past the 3:15 stretch in a montage. That could be tipped to a batter. So again, more tinkering with his mechanics.

      Not saying his stuff can’t translate, but he’s got work to do before being a top MLB pitcher.

      That’s my opinion.

    • hansman1982

      “He’s exactly what this team needs so I suspect we’ll not get him and then float a rumor we were 2nd in the bidding.”

      So what stops the other 28 teams in MLB from doing this?

      “Hope I’m wrong”

      Forgot to add in the “but I doubt it” portion.

      • Rebuilding

        I don’t really get your point, but that’s not uncommon. Nothing stops any other team from doing this, that’s my point to you every time you say we were hard after Darvish, but just didn’t quite get him – with absolutely no evidence other than Ken Rosenthal rumors

        • MichiganGoat

          Anytime we don’t get a player do you become depressed? You need to start drinking better beer it will make you happier.

        • Edwin

          Lack of evidence doesn’t always mean evidence of lack. I don’t think it’s that unreasonable that the Cubs went hard after Darvish, but came up short.

          • Rebuilding

            You are right, that’s my point – no one knows so stating it as fact is silly. Give it up, Goat…your junior high taunts aren’t going to shy me away like others. I couldn’t be happier as its a beautiful day outside. But I do wish the Cubs were better

            • FullCountTommy

              I wish the Cubs were worse…..much worse…..I want Carlos Rodon

              • Rebuilding

                Well, there is that. A sweep by the Marlins today and we have something to be optimistic about

                • FullCountTommy

                  Not gonna catch the Astros so they won’t win the Rodon sweepstakes. At least it’s a deep draft…

            • hansman1982

              Then we can’t really say much about who the Cubs go after. The media, for all of it’s warts, does a pretty decent job debunking wrong information that is put out there (despite it being a fraternal group, it is still highly competative).

              The fact that we didn’t see anyone debunking the report tells me that it was pretty well correct. The Cubs may not have been the direct #2 but it appears they were with a group of other teams in the $20-25M range with Texas being the outlier. Based on the pre-bid rumors, I’d say everything fits.

              Now, we have a similar level of knowledge that the Cubs weren’t really in on Puig and Ryu. Clearly that was a fail on their part.

              • Rebuilding

                I invite you to go back a read all of the trade rumors, this is a done deal, Delgado to the Cubs, Garza is definitely going here or there, so and so is definitely being moved, etc… in July if you think that is even close to true. The media, partially because of the immediacy of Twitter is wrong as much as its right today

                • hansman1982

                  As I said above:

                  “The media, for all of it’s warts, does a pretty decent job debunking wrong information that is put out there…”

                  I’m not saying the report from Rosenthal should be taken as gospel (just like I rarely take anything Theo says as gospel) but the lack of counter-reports and the report itself tell me the Cubs were thinking like most of the league on Darvish.

                  Note, I didn’t say that the Cubs were definitely second (there is no way they would have know they were posting a bid just good enough for 2nd place); however, I do think they put in a serious bid and have very little interest in “appearing” to try.

                  • Rebuilding

                    If the Cubs leaked to Rosenthal that they were heavy after Darvish who would there be to debunk it? The bids were sealed

                    • hansman1982

                      If I remember correctly, Rosenthal listed a couple of the other teams bids. So either a bunch of teams did this on their own to Rosenthal alone or there is another source for the leaks.

                      The bidding numbers are leaked after every one of the big name guys, considering MLB is the one that “unseals” the bids and reports to the Japanese team, I think it isn’t tough to see where the rumors are coming to Rosenthal from.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Buster Olney also published similar numbers. Every report indicated that the Rangers offered twice as much as the #2 team (probably the Cubs). It was public enough that Daniels defended the decision: a lot of Rangers fans felt that the extra millions could have been used to retain Wilson that winter or to tie up Hamilton. (At the time, both sounded like good ideas!)

                      However, Daniels stated (and re-stated) that they felt that Darvish as “the guy” between them and winning game 7, so they took no chances. (That probably is a good argument against “building for October” right there!)

      • Jason Powers

        If I were hoping right or wrong, I would not bid on Tanaka.

        Seems we could spend that posting money and salary a lot wiser…even if on 2-3 FA reclamation pitchers with MLB track records.

        Not saying that’s the better option, but if payroll is not above 85M, we have only about 20M in 2014 available to dish out on FAs…this guy is likely a 12-15M expense per year. That means something has to give….and well, starting pitching doesn’t seem the primary need on a team that is near dead last in OBP.

        • hansman1982

          Pitching is always a need. I hope they go after him if they feel they can get a contract that is in-line with what they feel his production will be. Even if that means he is a #3 starter, as long as they are paying him to be a #3 starter.

          • Jason Powers

            I agree. Pitching is a need….at a premium price. Yankees have A LOT of room under their budget. Remember: A-Rod will be suspended the entire year: 26 million in 2014 GONE.

            No Vernon Wells. Granderson. Kuroda.Pettitte. Youkilis. Mario Rivera are all gone. A LOT of cash for the Yankees to shell out for younger and better ballplayers.

            Let them bite on Tanaka…


    • MichiganGoat

      Wow you really are swimming in pessimism, sorry but life ain’t that bad.

      And if you cite an article from that other bleacher site it’s hard to take you seriously

      • Rebuilding

        Is that all you have for a response? I know you have set yourself up as board monitor, but despite the crappy nature of BR the article had video of Tanaka that I thought others might find interesting. It’s more than anything you’ve contributed in quite some time. But make a scrappy joke that got old a week after Campana was traded and I’m sure we’ll be back to normal

        • MichiganGoat

          Wow and the pessimism has been blended beautifully with a nice compliment of snarkiness.

          I sometimes forget that some people don’t understand all the jokes that have been floating around here for years and BR is one of those jokes. Relax man, we disagree, I’m not sad and pessimistic about everything, I don’t agree with you- live with it. But don’t go around here acting like you’ve been persecuted and tormented because I find you pessimism childish and tiresome.

          • Brains

            I think what makes people mad is that the Cubs are willingly not trying, even though they obviously could. It’s that simple. And that it’s so new owners who haven’t done anything for the team or community can sue us and get richer before they sell the team in a few years.

            • MichiganGoat

              To say they are not trying is false, they just aren’t trying the way many of the fans want them to try. If they weren’t trying they won’t be investing any money anywhere. They’d just sit there and smoke hundred dolla billz.

            • FullCountTommy

              How do you know they obviously could?? Do you have access to the Ricketts’ bank statements??? The fact is that they were forced by the previous owners to purchase the team with an extremely large amount of debt and they need to pay off that debt somehow.

              Also, is renovating the stadium on 500 million dollars out of their own pocket considered not doing anything for the team or the community???

            • Edwin

              When you say “willingly trying” what exactly do you mean? There have been numerous reports from well established sources that the Cubs just don’t have the funds to be like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers.

              Plus, how would you explain the spending on Edwin Jackson, Paul Maholm, David DeJesus, Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston, Nate Schierholtz? And the spending on Jorge Soler, and Conception (terrible move, but still, obviously didn’t mind spending)?

              From the new owner’s perpspective, they’ve gone out and are currently doing a huge renovation project (without city money), hired some of the best front office staff in the game, increased the draft budget as much as possible, spent big in international, and reportably are spending bigger in scouting, and the dominican facility. This all while having a team in a stadium that badley needs a renovation, probably has some pretty high yearly maint costs, with a TV that is under market, and dropping attendance figures.

              Could they do more? I guess, but without better information about the actual financial situation of the team, I think it’s really tough to look only at payroll and W/L, and instantly conclude that “ownership isn’t trying”.

              • hansman1982


              • MichiganGoat

                Well obviously they aren’t trying enough… duh 😉

            • Hookers or Cake

              Ug ‘The Cubs aren’t trying”
              So Ricketts must be an evil genius or paying Theo, Jed, Mcleod, and a ton of other guys to tarnish their livelihood, reputation, and legacy as baseball men. For what? Money? All these guys have money and do what they love for a living so… Ricketts is shooting for James bond villian status?!
              All the money they are sinking into the FO, Dominican, scouting, farm system is but a clever ruse? The $500 million? (oh I’ll believe it when I see them actually spend it!)
              Are all these messages coming from a middle school?

          • Rebuilding

            You keep perpetuating this pointless stuff. I’ve been around here just as long as you and know the inside jokes. I don’t make it a habit of trolling your posts and denigrating them because they are positive. But you and your Tanto – Mr. Hansman (there I have you an opening to ignore my content and discuss The Lone Ranger) do nothing but try to shout down people that have legitimate questions about this ownership group, the “plan” whether modified or not, and Dale Sveum. Over the last 60 years its proven correct to be pessimistic about the Cubs. I see some signs of hope, but the questions above remain

            • hansman1982

              If you want to go 10 rounds with me, fine. I’ve done it before against folks offering more than the tired, “The FO isn’t trying very hard”/”They are just resting up from trying in Boston”/”They spend more time putting out rumors they are trying than they actually try” lines.

              To toot my own horn from 6 months ago, I did call it that the Forbes numbers are un-trustworthy and even showed where the $30M in payroll decrease possibly went in the past 2 years (hint: it’s not debt servicing).

              • Rebuilding

                Ummmm…As far as Im aware Kyle and I were the first people on this site to point out that I was 99% sure “baseball operations” included the Ricketts salaries, debt servicing and other Ricketts goodies. I think we even had a discussion similar today where I was called pessimistic and not really a Cubs fan. Then Brett wrote an article speculating the same thing and everyone said ohhhhhh, of course it includes all of that other stuff. And by all public available info that other “stuff” is about the same per year as the slash in payroll

                • hansman1982

                  The drop in payroll could just as easily have nothing to do with Ricketts paying down the debt.

                  • Rebuilding


                    • Rebuilding

                      But I don’t think there is anyway they are cutting a check from elsewhere for the interest payments however they have it amortized. But in reality we have no way of knowing – all we know is how much they have cut payroll

                    • hansman1982

                      Personally, I think the debt payments are coming from the Ricketts, they are taking a modest salary (if there is one thing billionaires hate to do is pay taxes and that’s all a salary from the Cubs would translate to them) and are using Cubs revenues for things like the facilities in the DR, AZ and the Wrigley rebuild.

                      All revenues stay within baseball operations, Theo is accurate when he says they used up all of the money (undoubtedly, the MLB payroll budget item has heavy input from the FO) and the money is going for very useful things that will pay dividends for decades.

                      This makes a lot more sense than a bunch of cat and mouse games from a group of guys who have far better things to focus on.

                    • Rebuilding

                      I used to structure these kind of syndicated deals at a firm (Mayer Brown if you want to look it up) here in Chicago. They are usually amortized over 30 years, although its possible that its interest only for the first five. With the debt outstanding, given a straight line amortization, their debt payments would be over $30mil a year. I have never seen the owner of a business pay that directly or out of a trust – it comes directly from the revenues generated by the asset – although there may be personal guarantees involved. That also makes sense because the asset involved is the collateral on the loan. If Ricketts is cutting a $30mil check a year and not using Cubs revenues to pay debt he’s a terrible businessman. He might just be, but I don’t think his Dad is that dumb

                    • C. Steadman

                      What have been so bad about the payroll cuts? everyone was complaining about Soriano and his contract and they unloaded some of it to save money…DDJ isnt worth 6.5 mil so they wouldve bought out the contract in the offseason anyway so they waived him and got $2.5mil in savings…i dont think anyone is complaining on the returns of Garza or Feldman, so I don’t see how this payroll cut is so bad

      • Edwin

        Swimming in pessimism sounds like a way to get anti-super powers.

      • Jason Powers

        Nothing like an ad hominem attack on a person (Goat) “hard to take you seriously” when he is not at all responsible for the quality of said site. Moreover, as he correctly pointed out, he posted the article because of the video – a highlight reel, but something to digest – and you snarked on him and that site to boost your self-importance. (You need to be taken seriously….I assume is the underlying theme today for you.)

        If Brett referenced a website I find unappealing or laughable, but that article had key information, or a video, the remainder of what that site is, is irrelevant to the discussion.
        At least he referenced something, not just his divine wisdom on all things – life, baseball and websites.

        • Brains

          Hold on a second, we all want the Cubs to win, let’s agree about that. And we all agree that rebuilding is a good idea. No reason to get bitter against each other when we want the same thing.

          But look, the Tribune company was a heartless faceless corporation and most of us still didn’t have questions about their business operations. Something’s off here, and something went wrong this year. Blaming Sveum is just cruel since he’s been dealt a hand without a pair of deuces. Perhaps no blame is necessary because we’ll sign Cano to a nice contract and he’ll lift the team?

          But we’ve seen no indications that this team will be ready in any way at any viewable point. It’s just darkness and despair, and we want to have some fun. We’re paying for it afterall.

          • chrisfchi

            I made practically the same point last night. I live here just 2 miles outside city limits. For years it was reported locally that the big trib viewed the cubs as a money making hassle and nothing more. Ok, ill give Hendry 2003 but that’s it. I don’t want to hear this “I’ve been a fan since 1945 and I’m thru with this bs” crap. Either you are a fan and support them thru thick and thin, or just some fair weather person who thinks its “cool” to be a fan.

            On that note back to work. Brains, have faith and patience. When the winning comes, you can say you have been there thru the dark days and hold your cub hat high.

            • Brains

              I will certainly be there.

  • jh03

    Let’s be possitive guys :)

    Starlin has looked good lately!

    • wilbur

      I’m positive they’ll be able to trade him for more now.

  • Senor Cub

    we need pitching…not sure we need a Japanese pitcher but need pitching desperately!

  • Edwin

    I’d be curious to see what kind of contract a pitcher like Lincecum gets this offseason. His ERA is a little high, but his periphs are still decent.

    I’d also be curious to see if the Cubs take a peek at Kevin Slowey. Slowey’s been a boring yet effective pitcher most of his career. And he’d probably cost as little as a pitcher could ever possibly cost. His career K/BB is 4.62.

  • MichaelD

    “… but he’s going to be most valuable in 2014 and 2015, when the Cubs are least likely to need someone like him.”

    Are people ready to write off 2015? I am genuinely asking, not trying to be snarky.

    • wilbur

      No not at all. 2015 is when the young players start getting acclimated and showing what they might be able to do in the majors. That will have some ups and downs with it but it should be the most realistic cause for excitement the cubs fans have had for a long time. From there things can happen very quickly, remember the Arizona teams in 99 and 2000? Just needed to add pitchers 1 and 1a and there they were. It can happen that quickly and that is why it’s better to wait and add the high dollar free agents at the right time, when you are really ready to win. Otherwise your are setting yourself back and limiting your ability to sign the guys you will really need, when you need them.

      • MichaelD

        You mean the 1999 Diamondbacks that went 100-62 mostly made up of high-priced free agents who were a couple of years on the wrong side of 30?

        I think a lot of people are overestimating the impact that rookies can have when they first come up. That is not to say that when/if Baez et al. show up that they won’t help, but they will likely be role players. It seems to me that if you want to win in 2015 or 2016, you have a few talented free agents to carry the team supplemented by hopefully a couple of good rookies. Then when the free agents start to decline, the young core will be 25-27 and they will be the stars.

        But if we are waiting for the young players in the minors to be the key, and we can just add a piece or two, we will be waiting until 2017 or 2018.

        • C. Steadman

          dale sveum was on that 99 Dbacks team and then released haha

  • C. Steadman

    Cubs are sixth on Olney, Law, and Jim Bowdens MLB 5 year outlook rankings on ESPN

  • Steve

    Good move signing Dan Bard. He was excellent in middle relief just 2-3 years ago for the Red Sox. Numerous times this year the Cubs middle relief pitchers failed and Bard should help in 2014. Gregg probably won’t be back and Strop will be the closer.

    • jon

      We should also sign Jason Varitek

  • Bwa

    I’m going to laugh if we sign cano and everyone on here complains because it was too much money! If we get cano it’s because we can afford cano and we want to win in the next 3-4 years. If not, I totally understand why the front office didn’t sign him.

    • jon

      Promise you if we sign Cano, 10 people will be bitching about the 2nd round pick we lost.

      • JulioZuleta

        I’m about 99% sure that the Cano contract will be a terrible one. You don’t sign an aging middle infielder*, who has inflated power numbers due to the Yankee Stadium right field fence being about 130 feet away to the type of 6-8 year deal for $150-200M that he’s going to get.

        *(That has had age/steroid rumors floating around for years (spent years training with his best buds Melky Cabrera and A-Rod (in Miami))).

        • Rebuilding

          I agree. Low payroll or not I wouldn’t touch Cano or Choo with a ten foot pole

          • wilbur

            A speedy leadoff man would be nice though wouldn’t it?

            • Jeff

              Jacoby Ellsbury????

              • Sean T

                Ellsbury will be over 30 next season. He’ll cost too much and is at risk of losing his speed. They won’t sign him. If they are going to sign anyone it will be Choo. I’m not sure I’d even sign him either bc he’s on the wrong side of 30 too and might command too many years and $ to make it worth signing him. This is a terrible FA class

            • Cubbie Blues

              I’d prefer a high OBP guy over a speed guy any day. Put the speed guy in the back of the order where his speed makes a bigger difference..

            • hansman1982

              Not really, unless he can get on base a lot.

      • Chef Brian

        If we sign Cano, unless it’s a team friendly deal, I’ll be complaining about the fact we signed Cano.

        • Sean T

          Hahaha Chef thats a funny joke. Cano on friendly deal. 30 yr old 2nd baseman for 8yrs $200M…no thanks. Makes no sense for us to sign him and we don’t have the kind of money to sign him either and there is absolutely no way he takes a team friendly deal to play on a team next season anyways

          • Chef Brian

            That was the point. I was being facetious. We ain’t getting Cano.

  • Cub Lew

    Hello Cubs fam,
    (Cliche lead-in alert)
    Long-time reader first time poster, I’ve enjoyed the interaction on the site but a question has inspired me to join in on the action. The potential positional logjam has stirred up many different scenarios, but I feel as if a forgotten man in the mix has been Arismandy Alcantara. I fear talks of moving Castro to 2B to make room for Baez at SS and Bryant at 3B have diminished the season AA has had and his overall potential.

    I understand the premium bat/ position argument with regards to Bryant at 3B, and that it would be a dream scenario for each prospect to actually pan out; but given Baez’s crazy offensive numbers this year, does it make it any easier to imagine Bryant in the OF?

    In my mind I invision an IF consisting of Rizzo AA Castro and Baez and Almora Soler and Bryant roaming the OF. Is that far fetched?

    • chrisfchi

      If each of the prospects reaches the MLB as starters then no, its not far fetched. Granted this will not be our starting lineup next season, but maybe 2-3 years from now its a real possibly.

    • Nate

      Maybe but only because some of those players will either not make it or will be traded for current MLB players. I find it hard to believe they all will be cubs and the best prospects right now are Baez and Bryant. With set backs to Soler and Almora keeping them from moving through the minors as quickly.

  • Rebuilding

    Instead of just “griping” I would just like it if someone, anyone in the mainstream Chicago media would ask Tom Ricketts and/or Theo Epstein the following questions:

    (1) What do they include under the title “baseball operations”? Does it include debt payments, salary to family members, draws from the family trust, Aunt Ethel’s parking spot, etc.?

    (2) Once the renovations and advertising come online what do they see as a sustainable payroll given the Cubs resources?

    (3) Is the current slashing of payroll being caused by the pressures of the above-mentioned costs and does that cap payroll until new revenues are added? Is the amount we are at now the sustainable amount if nothing new comes online?

    (4) How much freedom does Epstein have if he really wants a player given the current revenue and expense structure and how much say does he get in the mix of spending under “baseball operations”?

    (5) Was the seeming payroll restrictions/slashing what was told to Epstein when he came aboard and has it always been the plan to slash payroll to this degree. How has the hold up in renovations altered that plan?

    (6) If it becomes apparent that the plan of building through the farm is not paying enough dividends to the MLB roster to compete at what point would the Cubs be willing to direct more resources to the MLB roster in order to be competitive?

    There are prob a dozen more

    • baseballet

      I have to say, these are all very good questions. Since Ricketts would never give direct answers to these questions, would you be satisfied if, in lieu of answers, he staged a pie eating contest between Navarro and Vogelbach?

      • Rebuilding

        I would. Or maybe a whipped pie throwing contest at Phil Rogers and Gordon Wittenmeyer

    • mjhurdle

      They dont ask them because they know there wont be an answer.
      The Cubs organization is under no obligation to detail their budget to anyone. And while some requests may not seem so bad, the second they set the standard that they will provide frivolous details about their finances, then the other, more ludicrous requests will come in.
      what if they provided details, and there was a ‘Ricketts’ on the payroll in some random job? Does that mean that person isn’t talented or the right person? who knows, and then they will have to answer those questions that people demand to know.
      It boils down to the fact that the organization is saying that they are putting the money back into the organization to create a winning franchise.
      you either believe them, or you don’t. Nothing they do short of showing all their financial records will change anyone’s minds.

      • Rebuilding

        Oh, I know they most likely wouldn’t answer any of them, but I don’t see why they aren’t asked. Instead we get the usual “Hey, what do you think of Baez?” From the clowns that cover the Cubs. And I threw those together in 5 minutes, I’m sure there are more nuanced ways they could be phrased that might get something of an answer even if vague

    • 70’scub

      Really, you expect a person to buy a private business and not use the business revenue to pay off the debt associated with acquiring the business, rebuild the run down facilities and clear out (eat) unproductive payroll. Frankly this business known as the Cubs sucked in every measurable category at the time it was put on the market. The Tribune management team screwed the Cub fan as they went for a business plan that maxed resale value with no regard for the future product, facility conditions and had no player development system in place. In fact one could argue it unethical to draft and sign a young kid with no intention of providing the proper training to be a productive MLB member. This Cub rebuild is about doing things the right way and providing a system that is good in the eyes of the young drafted kid.

  • Sean T

    I’d be pretty pissed off if the Dodgers signed Tanaka. BUY ALL THE PLAYERS strategy ticks me off. They don’t even have room in their rotation anyway. Plus idk how much budget they’ll have left after signing Kershaw to a Monster deal for $250mil

  • Sean T

    Corey Hart might make sense on a 1 yr deal and then we could trade him during next seasons trade deadline or if we are some how moderately competitive and not in sell mode we could hold onto him. It all depends on his health though which has be pretty bad the last couple years. I’d be willing to role the dice

    • baseballet

      His future looks pretty bright to me.

  • Edward

    Cano’s lackadaisical attitude would do wonders for Castro.

  • FastBall

    What if we sign Choo or Ellsbury and give up our 2nd round pick, then sign Phil Hughes. Do we only lose 1 pick? If so I think the Cubs need to get in the game and win on a few of these guys. I think Hughes would come to the Cubs and pitch very well in the NL much like Burnett with Pirates. He pitches in the toughest division in baseball IMO. I am not convinced the NL Central is at that level nor the rest of NL for that matter. I think you any one of the top 4 teams in the AL East in the NL Central and they win the division by more than 5 games.

    I am ready to see some real baseball players show up in Chicago. If they signed 4 guys for $60MM a year that quality of players will elevate this team to wild card contention. For next season that would be one hell of a year for the Cubs. I would be happy cuz I would start watching them all the time once again.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    Not that Im pushing for it but Josh Johnson seems like a Cub-like signing on a 1-year deal with hopes he’ll, at least, return healthy enough to be a trade-able asset.