Season Ticket Holder Event – A Theo Epstein Teaser

epstein conference cubsI just got out of a presentation to season ticket holders at the Bank of America Theater downtown – entitled On Deck 2014 – and I’ve soon got to hit the road so that I can be back to Ohio before midnight. (The Little Boy is a touch sick, and I’d like not to sentence The Wife to another solo night punctuated by solo baby cries.)

I will give a full write-up of the event, which featured presentations by the Presidents of Business and Baseball Operations – Crane Kenney and Theo Epstein, respectively – soon. There are interesting bits to share, and things to look forward to in 2014. But this is just a quick and dirty teaser, partly because of the need for me to rush out of here, and partly because there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to spoil the whole thing for folks who are going to one of the three later sessions (today and tomorrow). There was one kinda-sorta surprise appearance. Can’t spoil that.

So, here’s a quick tease on some of the things Epstein discussed during his portion of the presentation. The following are my best notes on parts of his presentation, and are paraphrased (although in first person voice for convenience):

Seeing all of you and the plans for Wrigley, I’m reminded of why I’m here. I was told by a friend when I joined the Cubs that it takes great courage to be patient. I’ve called him several times to tell him he was right. I don’t think of me in relation to that, I think of you. You are the ones being patient, and thus courageous. So thank you.

Did you notice how there was a tremendous amount of young, homegrown talent on both teams in the World Series? Of the 50 players on active rosters, 35 were homegrown or acquired using homegrown players. That’s the way to build successful organizations. [Epstein made a joke about an oath to Tom Ricketts to hate the Cardinals – he said he won’t call them a “model franchise” for that reason.]

Why spend so much time and money on young talent? Many reasons – young players tend to get better, tend to stay healthy, can be groomed to support ethos of org, fans enjoy getting to know young players, etc. The main reason? Cramming as much talent onto the big league roster as possible. Peak age is 27 years old. Young players are cost-controlled – so you can fit more of them onto your roster. Average free agent is 32 and much more expensive than he was in his 20s. We want as much talent as possible on the roster. Since you cannot get impact, mid-20s talent in free agency, only way to get it is via draft, int’l FA, and trades.

[Epstein noted an evaluation that indicated the Cubs were the worst in MLB production from the players taken in the drafts between 2002 to 2010 (I believe I got those years correct, and I believe we've discussed this before)].

With the big revenue still a couple years away, it was clear to us that the only way to succeed was to go full-on into young player acquisition mode (and develop them, and get the most possible/best possible information about young players).

We now have one of the top scouting operations in baseball. [Lengthy discussion about The Cubs Way - it's a 350-page manual, and it covers everything.]

Talent acquisition: spend as much as we can on draft (despite CBA’s limitations) and on int’l FA. Epstein called signing Jorge Soler before the new CBA kicked in “exploiting a loophole,” and also called the 2013 int’l spending spree “exploiting a loophole” (hey, that’s what I called it way back when!), and then lots of trades. We’ve traded four years of veteran years (8 players) to receive 78 control years of 14 different young players. [Big applause.]

But there’s a cost, obviously. When you go into full-on talent acquisition mode, it better work. We don’t take your August and September pain for granted. Happy to say that thus far we’re very pleased with the results. Top five system per all the rankings (will be), and we believe we have three of the top 10 to 15 prospects in baseball (interesting cutoff). Now video on the prospects – Baez, Almora, Edwards, Soler, Bryant. (Edwards was an interesting inclusion, and Epstein mentioned multiple times that he was the pitcher of the year.)

(Here I started to wonder whether it was risky to focus on these young guys in addressing season ticket holders, given that the young guys likely still won’t be big league impact talent for a while, and … ) Right on cue, Epstein: we’re under no illusions that they’re all going to be stars and that they’ll come right up and we’ll win. It’s not linear. But the plan lines up so well with our business plan – the revenue will come online, and the renovation work will be underway/finishing up, at the same time as these young guys are up and ready to contribute.

So, there’s your quick and dirty tease on portions of what Epstein said. Kenney also had some interesting comments, and the overall presentation was well done. Again, I’ll have more robust thoughts soon, but this should tide you over.

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

410 responses to “Season Ticket Holder Event – A Theo Epstein Teaser”

  1. Chris


  2. terencemann

    “It’s not linear. But the plan lines up so well with our business plan – the revenue will come online, and the renovation work will be underway/finishing up, at the same time as these young guys are up and ready to contribute.”

    Where have I read this theory before? Oh wait, right here on BN. Probably a dozen times. And you’ll probably have to say it a dozen more times before the Cubs are a winning team again but it will be worth it.

  3. Randy

    So basically they will suck a couple more years and not compete in the FA market. I still don’t understand why you cant build and win at the same time. Its basically Ricketts tight ass.

    1. On The Farm

      Yes, Exactly. Why can’t everyone see this? Clearly Ricketts is just lining his pockets by not spending on the Free Agent markets. Never mind the lost money in ticket revenue and the fact that their position of strength in TV negotiating becomes weaker when the team isn’t good.

      1. jt


      2. DarthHater

        “Why can’t everyone see this?”

      3. Funn Dave

        The drop in payroll is vastly and increasingly larger than the drop in revenue.

        1. On The Farm

          Except the huge amount of money that can be made in the TV contract. Look at how much money the Dodgers got. By having season after season of bad teams is doing nothing to straighten their ability to get the best contract they can get. Also, as Kelly pointed out earlier today, if the current trend continues, Ricketts could reach $40 million in ticket revenue losses. That is no small chuck of change, even to a Billionaire. They like their money too much.

          1. Funn Dave

            Yes it would be nice to have that extra TV revenue, but until recently the Cubs have managed to maintain a large payroll without it. And when you say “if the current trend continues,” I’m guessing you’re referring to next year, and there’s no telling whether the Cubs might do better than expected and rouse up some interest or how much the promotions of players like Bryant and Beaz could affect attendance. You’re right, $40 mil isn’t chump change, but it hasn’t gotten quite that bad, at least not yet.

            I’m not saying Ricketts is sitting around in a hot tub full of money laughing at miserable Cub fans. Just that there is a significant incongruity between the Cubs’ drop in revenue and their drop in payroll, and we should expect to see some spending to decrease that gap either this offseason or in the hopefully-not-too-distant future, regardless of future renovations/billboards/etc.

            1. ssckelley

              “You’re right, $40 mil isn’t chump change, but it hasn’t gotten quite that bad, at least not yet.”

              The last year the Cubs had a winning record they drew 3,168,859 back in 2009. Last season they drew 2,642,682, that is a difference of 526,177 multiply that by $55 and that is almost $29 million in lost ticket revenue. Not to mention concessions, merchandise, ad revenue, ect ect.

              Financially it makes no sense for the Cubs to not field a team that is capable of playing winning baseball.

              1. On The Farm

                I feel like in concessions alone they expect something like $30/person (which is only four beers so its believable).

                1. ssckelley

                  At the prices they charge $30 per person seems cheap. But yeah, the ticket revenue is only scratching the surface on the amount of revenue they are losing.

                  Honestly I think Theo is talking down about spending on free agency is because there is not many free agents that are worth going after, the ones that are will be priced to high. This free agent market sucks and I cannot blame Theo for not wanting to tie up millions and years into players that are on the wrong side of 30.

              2. Eternal Pessimist

                “The last year the Cubs had a winning record they drew 3,168,859 back in 2009. Last season they drew 2,642,682, that is a difference of 526,177 multiply that by $55 and that is almost $29 million in lost ticket revenue.”

                But isn’t that actually attendance, and not tickets sold. Just because the purchaser didn’t use the tickets doesn’t mean they got them for free. I would like to see the year to year tickets revenue numbers (and concession numbers) to see what kind of hit the Cubs really took. The ticket prices had still generally gone up during this time and the ticket revenue might actually be close, if not increased.

                1. Kyle

                  That’s actually tickets sold. MLB teams report their attendance as tickets sold.

                  It’s been noted at a lot of places that the Cubs’ attendance numbers vastly overestimated the number of people in the park. Al Yellon had a good running estimate as the year went along of the shortfall.

                  So the actual revenue lost is being understated by just looking at the drop in attendance. There are also hundreds of thousands of tickets being sold that aren’t being used and thus not bringing in concession money.

    2. cub2014

      I didnt read they wouldnt be involved in the FA market?

      Yes, he did talk about a 32yr old FA isnt ideal but he
      did also say they dont expect all their prospects to be
      stars. He also mentioned that they are not linear so in
      essence you can do both at once.

      But we shall see what they do? Remember last year
      they signed Jackson so if you are building then in
      THEOry they should add a minimum of 2 FA pieces
      this off season.

      1. Funn Dave

        “Given the needs that we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I don’t think we’ll have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency.” -Theo Epstein, Sept. 2013. Yes we will probably sign more than one free agent, but don’t expect any Choos or Tanakas or Canos–or at least not more than one.

        1. BWA

          So based on that quote, they can sign one of Choo, Elsbury, or Tanaka. Just not multiple. OK

          1. Kyle

            Perhaps. But frequently, MLB executives have a much lower threshold of “impact” than we do. The one impact guy might be Omar Infante for all we know.

    3. The Mayor


      1. DarthHater

        Alright, Mr. Mayor. How about you stop being a smart aleck and start applying some thumbscrews to those rooftop owenrs? :-P

    4. Brains

      Basically Brains has been right about everything for months. We’re not going to even *try* to compete for another 3 years, which will make it 5 years until we genuinely start building. That’s a 7-8 year rebuild, fellows. And I think it stinks. Probably not Theo’s fault. Good job with the minors. Jed is incompetent and needs to be fired for having little forethought about what pieces might help the team in the meantime. We shoulda brought over Ben.

      1. Funn Dave

        Well we started the rebuild two years ago by definition, since that’s when we started trading rentals away for players under longer control. So I don’t see how it will be five years until we “genuinely start building,” unless by “start” you mean “finish” or by “building” you mean “winning championships.” And I don’t really see how it would necessarily take us three more years to start competing, when most of our top minor league talent will likely be in the majors by then if not well before then.

        I don’t think we’ll be winning any championships next year, but I don’t think we’re as far off as you’re saying, either.

        1. Brains

          Yes but a pack of rookies aren’t going to contend right off, especially not without lineup support. They have to hit years 2-4 until they’re ready to carry some weight. And they’re not even in the majors yet.

    5. danimal8

      Didn’t even bother reading this did you? So, what free agent would you have given the farm for?

      1. Edwin

        You don’t trade prospects for Free Agents, you sign them.

  4. Edwin

    I think it remains to be seen whether the 2013 international FA signing strategy actually works out. I still think it was less their strategy to overspend, and more a miscalculation on their part, where they thought it would be easier to trade for international cap space than it was.

    1. terencemann

      There is a limit on the amount of IFA cap space you can trade for so they must have known they were going to overspend going into it and the additional space was merely to limit the tax on the overages rather than buying them enough space not to be penalized next season.

      1. Edwin

        If they knew they were going to overspend, why didn’t they overspend even more? I mean, what did their overspending really net them, compared to what they would have gotten if they had not over-spent?

      2. terencemann

        Also, the penalties for going over the cap doubles starting next season so that’s why you saw teams like the Cubs and Rangers get their jollies in this season. There’s a note about it here

    2. Funn Dave

      I really think they knew exactly what they were doing.

  5. Sect209row15

    On my way to the 4:30 showing. I had hoped to run into Brett.

  6. Jon

    “We’ve traded four years of veteran years (8 players) to receive 78 control years of 14 different young players. [Big applause.]”

    Why do they act like this is some huge accomplishment?

    1. terencemann

      Because they want to acknowledge they are on-board what the front office is doing to accomplish its stated goals of aligning the baseball talent with the business plan for the team?

      Maybe they’re happy they’re not fans of teams like the Rockies, Twins, Phillies, etc. who could trade some veterans for young players who could help the team now and in the future but they refuse to do that and it’s just going to take longer for them to re-build a winning team and limit the talent on that team in the end.

      I think most people who work around investing understand the idea of positive arbitrage and that’s the philosophy the Cubs are taking.

      1. Jon

        But it’s not really an accomplishment. Anyone can do it. Save the applause for when the chapter is written on what those young players did at the big league level.

        1. Wilbur

          You are correct on the anyone can do it, but not everyone can do it well. The short term measure that it has been well done is, in part and separate from the draft and Intl signings, the subjective assessment that the Cubs feeder system is the 5th best. Long term measure can’t be known until these guys hit the majors.

      2. Jason Powers

        I wouldn’t use the Phillies to make your point. 2008 WS Winner, 2009 loser. That’s worth about a decade losing thereafter, don’t you think?

        But otherwise, I get where you are at.

  7. Hookers or Cake

    Why do people think the roster is set for 2014 in early November? We signed a handful of guys last year and started the year with a close to 110 million dollar payroll. The Cubs were basically even in run differential (a .500 team) before we traded some key guys.
    This year we’ll hopefully have more revenue via WGN renegotiation, MLB TV rev sharing.

    I think the Cubs will sign or trade for a bat and an arm or three.

    1. terencemann

      I don’t think they’re going to make any big trades since, as Epstein pointed out, not every prospect will become the player they hope they will be and it’s hard to tell who to hold onto when most of those guys haven’t played in AA yet.

      I don’t think the roster is set, either. Given that Shin-shoo Choo is looking for a contract similar to BJ Upton’s deal, except he comes without the enormous red flags of Upton, that really changes things in my opinion.

    2. Kyle

      Because this isn’t last year, it’s this year. It’s different.

      We don’t know anything for certain. But to me, everything continues to point to this offseason adding a lot less to the immediate MLB team than last offseason did.

      We’ve got Epstein repudiating free agency every chance he gets, flat-out telling us not to expect much. He even more or less just disavowed his big FA signing from last year.

      We’ve got persistent, surprisingly detailed rumors that the Cubs are looking to trade Samardzija and/or Castro for pitching prospects.

      We’ve got renovations that could be sucking up a lot of capital to get them going.

      We’ve got a bigger gap between us and the rest of the division than we faced before 2012 or 2013.

      We’ve got a media blitz designed to bring the focus to young players developing, including our new coach hire and these STH meetings.

      If the team were planning to drop $200m on Ellsbury and Tanaka and come out swinging for 2014, this isn’t what it would look like. But if they were planning to drop payroll to $85m and lose 90+ again, this is exactly what it would look like.

      1. YourResidentJag

        Well, gotta wait and see what those youngsters bring. ;)

        1. kscubfan

          I hear what you are saying and just had a thought roll through my head. What if the Cubs are setting up to make a big pitch and are tired of being used to increase the payment. Like Sanchez last year, what if this is the Cubs way of saying here is our best offer, take it or leave it. We are not getting into a bidding war.

          1. YourResidentJag

            Well, that’s one limited example of that kind of situation.

      2. Jason Powers

        I tend to agree with you on various points, Kyle.

        But it shouldn’t mean we can’t improve any. Of course, to improve to .500 that screws up 2015 draft position….But I think I’d give up a high 1st rounder to see tolerable baseball, sooner. Being a bit of a selfish fan.

        I’ve given my plan for impact guys at my website (linked to my name). And I think the acquisition price for all of them would be about 30-35M per season for 2-3 seasons, or about the low-end of the spectrum for 1-100M contract to a marquee player. That adds up to about 90M payroll outlay in 2014. Doable.

        Of course the over 30 taboo of FA is broken. But that’s your marketplace for FAs.

  8. Kyle

    “Not linear” is one of those great phrases Epstein comes up with that sound really amazing and get the audience nodding until you really stop and think about what it means. That’s just a fancy way of saying “we’re going to be worse, please don’t blame me.”

    1. DarthHater

      Kyle’s comments are doubleplusungood. :-P

    2. terencemann

      I think he’s just trying to explain that he understands it’s not like the prospects are on a conveyer belt in a factory and he can’t just put money in one end and get a star player out the other end?

      1. Wilbur

        My take also …

      2. hansman

        This. Basically, “don’t get your hopes up that all of these guys will succeed. I’m not.”

    3. Funn Dave

      Remember these are Brett’s words, not necessarily Theo’s.

      1. DarthHater

        It’s probably fair to assume that the especially obfuscatory phrases came from Theo. :-P

        1. Funn Dave

          Alright yeah he probably did say “linear.”

        2. Robert

          probably/assuming? Where are the trolls to jump down your throat for not sticking to the facts?

          1. DarthHater

            Keep looking, I’m sure you’ll find them:

      2. Professor Snarks

        Theo has been quotes using the linear line in the past.

        1. Professor Snarks


        2. MightyBear

          Yeah and like Kyle said, it’s still bullshit.

    4. Jon

      Theo is pretty convincing


      Who’s drinking some!

    5. Professor Snarks

      I agree with the ‘Great Theo phrases’ meme, but I think it’s Theo’s way of offering a glimmer of hope to those who believe him.
      Linear growth is we win 61, then we win 66, then we win 70, 75, 80, and so on…that would be very depressing. (this would equate to the Cubs in 1960′s).
      By phrasing the way he has, he’s insinuating it could go from 66, then to 70, then jump to 92! (something along those lines). That gives people hope.

      IMO, it could go either way.

      1. Wilbur

        You could be right on his intended meaning, but I took from the comment it meant you can’t say you have four blue chip prospects and count on four or three or two mlb starts …

        1. Professor Snarks

          Could be a combination of both. If you were extremely optimistic, you could hope all 4 make it. it would however, be almost impossible for all of them to peak at the exact same time.

          1. Jason Powers

            Injuries, flameouts, personal issues (Hamilton) or just doesn’t do it while in Chicago. (A few guys don’t find it until after 27…probably why you see them taking chances on those 27-28 year old castoffs from elsewhere. They had talent..evaluated high..then it was lost or just doesn’t get an opportunity.)

            Our favorite discussion, player: Ben Zobrist hit big in 2009. I only know this because I took a flier on him for my Fantasy team. He was 28….;)

    6. Blackhawks1963

      Ignorance on your part. Look, if you want to be one of those misguided Cub fans who need a shot of insulin in the form of overpaying for a free agent to give you a false sense of enhanced competitiveness, then go for it. If the Cubs would have gone out and bid for Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton or Nick Swisher the last few years then we would have been close to the same abysmal losing results, only now in a deeper financial pit.

      I don’t want to trade away quality prospects for veteran discards of other teams. And I don’t want to chase the tail of overpaid, past their prime free agents. STICK WITH THE PLAN. Patience Grasshopper.

      1. On The Farm

        What the bulk of Kyle’s post said was: Theo- “we’re going to be worse, please don’t blame me.”

        Not sure how out of that you got Kyle thinks we should have signed Hamilton, Upton and Swisher, and trade away our talent.

        1. YourResidentJag

          It always go this kind of dialogue, though. Doesn’t it?

          1. YourResidentJag

            *goes to

          2. On The Farm

            Maybe it does, but jumping to conclusions before it starts isn’t really a good way to go about it either is it? It just triggers people faster to make stupid comments if someone goes off for no reason in the first place.

            1. Eternal Pessimist

              “Not sure how out of that you got Kyle thinks we should have signed Hamilton, Upton and Swisher, and trade away our talent.”

              …but it sounds like a somewhat reasonable response to Kyle’s take on Theo’s words. Both just trying to find the hidden meaning. Though I think (may be mistaken) that Kyle was more advocating spending some money finally, but not trading away our talent.

              1. Kyle

                Meh, at this point the stockholm syndrome is kicking in and I’ve accepted that this is what we’re going to do and I’m not even sure I hate it.

                I’m just getting in the argument now so that when we *do* have a sell-heavy, buy-light, low-payroll offseason, I can spike the football on everyone who tells me I’m wrong.

                1. Brains

                  you’re also getting shit because i’m going to be post-lite until the end of the winter. michigangoat doesn’t know where to direct his emotional venting. and hansman is confused where the bathroom is.

                2. Eternal Pessimist

                  …and at the same time, I think you have frequently acknowledged the lack of FA talent (elite), making a big splash in 2014 FA shortsighted.

                  I would give Theo the benefit of the doubt that he realizes he is in a bidding war with 4-5 big boys for top talent, the talent they are bidding for don’t generally fit in the long term Cubs scheme (they need to find where a couple of the prospects will fit before buying more on the market), and this is not the year to make big commitments on FA’s (except maybe Tanaka, IMO, as he will not block anyone in a meaningful way and will make the game more watchable in 2014…at least every 5th start).

                  1. Kyle

                    Again: I’m not advocating what you are implying I’m advocating.

        2. Blackhawks1963

          Facepalm. I can’ fix stupid, so won’t even try. The Theo bashers have all the convenient and witty comebacks. They DEMAND a better team in the immediacy, but provide absolutely zero practical roadmap alternative for how they would get there. Unless their magic answer is to trade Darwin Barney and a two year subscription of Vineline to Detroit for Justin Verlander and Miggy Cabrera.

          Cubs get blasted by the idiots for not being big players in free agency right now. And to me, as was my POINT, that is absolutely the wrong move right now. I don’t want to be chocked with broken down overpaid veterans. Been there, done that.

          1. On The Farm

            Not sure why the facepalm is necessary? Or why you think it has been thrust upon you to fix stupid. What I read out of Theo’s comment was generally the same sentiment, “we are going to be terrible, please don’t take it out of me”. Maybe its because I understand that yeah we are going to be terrible and Theo is just trying to point out what the rebuild is.

            Yeah idiots blast the Cubs, but I don’t think Kyle is an idiot, nor do I think Theo saying (in summary) we are going to be bad is news to anyone. If anything congratulations to Theo for thinking of newer ways to describe next year’s rebuilding season.

          2. Kyle

            “Facepalm. I can’ fix stupid, so won’t even try.”

            Don’t give up on yourself so easily. I believe there’s still potential in you.

            1. MightyBear

              Woah, the K man coming in with the zinger. Unusual but effective.

          3. Funn Dave

            Speaking of Vineline, I subscribed to it over the summer, paid for it right away, and have yet to see an issue. Does anyone know how to contact them?

            1. TWC

              See?!?! Ricketts is just lining his pockets with folks’ hard-earned dollars. Shame.

              1. Funn Dave


            2. BWA

              Who needs Vineline when we’ve got Bleacher Nation?

              1. Funn Dave

                I just love magazines. And I’m not trynda use my desktop computer to go to BN while I’m on the john :P

                1. MightyBear

                  That’s when you use your cell phone to go to BN. When you’re on the crapper.

            3. MightyBear

              First issue is in January.

      2. Kyle

        I think if you read my post carefully, you’ll notice that there was no value judgment placed on this strategy. I think if you read my post carefully, you’ll notice your replay has absolutely nothing to do with anything I said.

        It sucks that we’ve gotten to this point. The MLB team has been allowed to reach a truly decrepit state, and I’ll be glad to spread some blame to all sorts of different people for that.

        But can I say with certainty that I think we *should* reverse course and make a major free agent push in 2014, or even a mid-level free agent push like we did last year? I really can’t.

        1. ari gold

          Kyle, given the current state, when do you think is a realistic timeline for a .500 club? How about competing for the playoffs? I’m thinking realistically .500 in 2016 and competing for the playoffs in 2017.

          1. Kyle

            It’s really hard to predict baseball teams more than a year or so out. The uncertainty just grows exponentially. I don’t think we look likely to be competitive in 2014. I think it’s possible in 2015, but I don’t think I’d say “likely.” Beyond that, who knows.

            1. MightyBear

              I think the Cubs are going to be tough as nails in 2015.

              1. Professor Snarks

                They could be.
                A lot depends on Baez and Bryant coming up in 2014 and becoming solid in 2015. If they are as elite of prospects as we believe, that is possible, but history says not probable.
                Let’s keep the faith, because, at the very least 2015 should be interesting.

            2. Mike F

              Kyle, you are a great mind, but in this instance I think you are reading too much into his statement. Yeah when McCarver said in 2012 the Cubs were 7 years away, I think there a lot of people that buy into that. But Theo can’t take 5 years of irrelevance even. And that is what he is becoming even as we speak. The linear line is one more in a string of meaningless Theoisms we are coming to know.

              So I think we can rest easier that he has a big ego and this offseason offers more hope a couple of key free agents and a couple of large trades. I don’t buy for a second that Theo’s ego can take another 100 loss season and his front office can slide even more easy into irrelevance. I get aficionado types may buy into this 5-7 year rebuild stuff but it is largely unrealistic, especially for someone of Theo’s ilk.

              1. MightyBear

                Whoa, Kyle is a great mind? That’s right up there with “not linear”.

            3. Wilbur

              Not negative meant here, but does mean its nonlinear?

              1. Mike F

                everything is nonlinear….

                I think it is sort of like life happens. Of course hindsight is always linear isn’t it?

      3. Funn Dave

        Ugh, I hate when people use obvious examples of exlusively FA’s that *don’t* pan out just to prove a point.

        1. On The Farm

          The FA signings of the Red Sox did work out pretty well. I understand they had a core to pair the signings with which is what this FO is trying to establish, but Dave is on the point with using the obvious contract failures.

  9. terencemann

    Somewhat unrelated but I would like it if a member of the media would ask Hoyer or Epstein point blank to confirm if Baez to is currently slated to start the season in AAA and if that means the front office hopes to see him at Wrigley in 2014.

    1. cms0101

      Hoyer has already said he’ll start in Iowa. Obviously whether we see him at Wrigley or not in 2014 will depend on what he does while there. If I were to speculate, my guess is he’d have to have a Rizzo-like start in Iowa to force a promotion before August. But I think it’s understood that he’ll be in Iowa. Hoyer said as much when he bowed out of the AFL, that he’d get some rest and start next year refreshed in AAA. I don’t remember the exact comment, but I’m sure it’s in the archives here in BN.

      1. DarthHater
    2. Hebner The Gravedigger

      There was a nice write-up in the Des Moines paper about Baez starting next year in Iowa. That will be one disappointed group if it does take place.

      1. Hebner The Gravedigger

        does NOT take place…

      2. Kyle

        Pretty sure Cubs have already said he is starting there.

  10. Blackhawks1963

    As a diehard Cub fan since the mid-70′s I love everything about Theo Epstein and his strategy for building this club. I also love that he speaks the unvarnished truth on matters and doesn’t cater to the kool-aid drinkers.

    The Cubs are ABSOLUTELY on the right path and I for one will remain patient. The transformation to our minor league system since Theo, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod arrived two short years ago is unbelieveable.

    Thank you Theo. Thank you for not bullshitting us fans either. You have my full and continued support. I’m 100% confident in your administration’s ultimate ability to deliver a World Series Championship and to make this into a franchise that is a perennial and deeply respected contender like Boston, St. Louis, Texas.

    1. Jon

      Did you support Andy McPhail’s plan?

      1. terencemann

        The one that brought the Cubs 3 playoff appearances in a decade and worked until the team stopped developing talent?

        1. YourResidentJag

          Wasn’t he around though in the 90s when the team was making the same promises and not doing much in the way of winning for the entirety of that decade?

        2. Jon

          The one(1995-2006 seasons) that brought an overall record of 916-1011? No I wasn’t found of that.

          1. Professor Snarks

            The problem with McPhail wasn’t the ‘Plan’ itself, it was execution. They were not consistently bad enough to stock pile 4, maybe 5, top 10 draft picks in a row, like we have now. They also did a horrible job the few years they did have those draft picks.

        3. cms0101

          Under McPhail, the Cubs had 2 playoff appearances in 12 seasons. And he never presented a plan anywhere near as comprehensive as what Theo has brought here. He hired Ed Lynch, then promoted Hendry after taking the full reigns for one season himself. The scouting staff was not ramped up until Hendry took control. And he didn’t install a top-down philosophy for the entire organization to follow. He received his promotion, leaving the Twins, and immediately found his hands were tied here too by the Tribune Co. After he was fired, Zell tried to spend his way to a higher sales price, and they got the 2 playoff appearances in 2007 & 2008, but McPhail was gone by then.

      2. Blackhawks1963

        Are you shit stupid enough to equate Andy McFail’s administraton with Theo’s? The same Andy McFail who came to Chicago to become a business man and nothing more than an executive suit in the Board room at Tribune Tower? In defense of McFail, the Tribune Company didn’t give him the resources to build anything. The last great architect before Theo was Dallas Green, but those a-hole executives at the Tribune Company pissed him off to such a degree that he up and quit in 1987. And the organization wasn’t quite the same until Theo and his front office team arrived.

        Mock the building strategy all you want. It’s fashionable to do so right now. Ignorance knows no bounds. You think a band-aid can be slapped on the inherited patient from Tribune Company / Sam Zell / Jim Hendry that needed major surgery, and PRESTO a World Series Champion spits out.

        1. YourResidentJag

          Actually, McPhail came from the Twins, an organization with a historical pattern of doing the same things Theo spoke of in today’s meeting.

          1. Blackhawks1963

            Hmmm. The history books pretty much point to the Andy McFail years as being very ugly for the Cubs. What Andy McFail did highly successfully in Minnesota didn’t translate to the Cubs. Primarily because Andy came here to become a cushy corporate executive and let the baseball end of things go underfunded under the woeful GM rein of Ed Lynch.

            Nuff said.

            1. YourResidentJag

              That may be true. It doesn’t change the fact that the Twins historically have done things in much the same manner Theo wants to today with the the Cubs.

              1. cms0101

                On hiring day, I agree that the McPhail hiring was every bit the dog and pony show of the Epstein hiring. But moving into year 3, I definitely did not have the same confidence that the organization was in better shape like I do with this team. McPhail got the job, made the promises that sound familiar, but did not go about making things happen. Maybe his hands were tied, but making bold moves like trading Sandberg and/or Grace for prospects might have been the way to go. Instead, the Trib basically told him those two were the only ticket sellers left, so you have to keep them. And that’s fine, but then he was never really given the funds to add to the mix either, so they were stuck with a below-.500 team that didn’t have enough success in the draft to improve in that manner either. And forget about an international free agent budget. They were never players there either at that timeframe. So maybe it wasn’t all his fault, but there were certainly improvements he should have been able to make. And hiring Lynch didn’t help either…

                1. cms0101

                  It seems like I enjoy using the word either a bit too much…

                2. YourResidentJag

                  Oh, I agree. I guess that what my ultimate point is here…he came from a franchise that was essentially using principles of Moneyball. And then forgot completely those principles he learned from the Twins for whatever reason. Not saying Theo’s doing the same….just that I don’t want the outcome to be the same.

                3. MightyBear

                  To me the big difference between MacPhail and Epstein is MacPhail wanted a small tight knit organization around him and only wanted a few people making decisions. Epstein wants as many voices, scouts and computer geeks as he can get. Then he and his cronies sift through everything to make decisions.

                  1. YourResidentJag

                    Not sure about that. Don’t know if McPhail wanted it or the company he was working for wanted it for him.

                4. Mike F

                  i don’t know about that. Green and McPhail both sought to do exactly this 5-7 year plan. In fact both meaningfully tried to build the franchise through the draft and McPhail had a history of doing that at every juncture including the Cubs. Clearly he had and larger data of base of that than Theo ever did.

                  Neither the fan base or ownership had the patience and stomach for it. I think Andy was far more willing than Theo ever was to will be to lose until they won. Theo has shown an inability to accept the irrelevance of sitting on your hands and going the draft and draft alone route that an Andy McPhail or Ted Thomson relish. I think some Cub fans are going to be very stunned by how Theo proceeds.

                  1. YourResidentJag

                    This is really excellent comment. McPhail, after all, came from a mid-market team concept where patience is even more a requisite than the big market team.

            2. Funn Dave

              Wow, I’m impressed with your intimate knowledge of McPhail’s psyche and reasons for coming to the Cubs. Did the two of you two discuss his tenure over coffee this morning?

            3. Kyle

              “The history books pretty much point to the Andy McFail years as being very ugly for the Cubs”

              Well, the Epstein years haven’t exactly been gorgeous.

              “Nuff said.”

              Maintaining the long history on the internet that no good argument has ever been preceded by the phrase “but but but” or followed by the phrase “Nuff said.”

              1. Edwin

                Yeah, but I’m sure McPhail didn’t have a plan to build up the Cub’s farm system into one of the best in the game.

                Oh wait. That’s exactly every single team in baseball’s plan.

                1. YourResidentJag

                  Which makes it even more a shame because of the principles he learned with the Twins to help them into two WS championships in ’87 and ’91.

                2. Mike F

                  Edwin that’s a great point, the problem is you end up chasing needles in a haystack which is why it is so hard and you can’t just rely on the draft alone. Great organization take advantage of all avenues and don’ foreclose any.

              2. DarthHater

                Maintaining the long history on the internet that no good argument has ever been preceded by the phrase “Maintaining the long history on the internet that no good argument has ever been preceded by the phrase.”


        2. Jon

          Did you miss your afternoon nap grandpa?

        3. D.G.Lang

          I rarely find myself agreeing with you because you are usually too harsh and negative but I must say that I do agree with you on this matter in that the Tribune ownership has NOT been good for the Cubs.

          One might think that a major company such as the Tribune would have the resources to use to build up the Cubs and the desire to do so but it simply didn’t happen. The Trib ownership failed the Cubs and Szell didn’t do the Cubs any favors either.

          The Cyubs have finally arrived under ownership which actually cares about the team and is 100% dedicated to building it properly. They took a long hard look and saw everything which was wrong beginning with the management and decided that a total rebuild was the BEST though very painful course.

          I believe that they knew ahead of time that the rebuild would make many unhappy until it was completed but now that we’ve started and are doing the job correctly we must finish what we started correctly.

          It would be very wrong to reverse course at this time and revert back to the failures of the past because we now have even less at the MLB lever to supplement with free agents which are insufficient in quantity to begin with along with us being insufficient financially as well.

          I am glad to see so much of the available funds going into the infrastructure both here in Chicago as well as throughout the organization. Once everything gets done foundationally we will have enough money to pursue whatever good free agents we need to supplement the good foundation we are building.

          Ideally the new foundation will produce more than enough good talent to allow us to avoid wasting excess funds on the free agents and put even more into keeping the good talent we already have as well as increasing our supply of talent in the farm so we can avoid investing in short term declining players on the free market.

          I look for the day when our farm produces so much new talent that we do have the steady supply that Theo and company envision. To the day that we have so much talent that our biggest worry is how to trade them away rather than lose them in the rule 5 draft.

          I do believe that the better teams which have the better farms do lose the most in the rule 5 draft simply because they can’t protect everything that they have and that’s where I want to see the Cubs, with a load of very good players ready to contribute and the envy of the other teams because they built the farm correctly.

          Lets be honest, the better teams get somewhat than the very best talent in the draft and of we want to get the very best out of the regular amateur draft we simply have to have the worse record. Being a 500 team will hurt the quality of the draft and we won’t have those better players to build upon.

          I am not saying to tank for ten years or even 5 years but to remain patient until what we have drafted does arrive at the major league level and then make the better effort to win as much as possible. Every season IS SACRED and the owners are sacrificing a lot now to build the foundation that we must have to build the club correctly. Once that foundation is in place and producing then we should and will go after the few missing pieces.

          Even though we did have some good short term players in the past, we didn’t have them for much longer due to age and we would have had to keep spending huge on free agents just to tread the water to maintain our weak ball club. What was needed is what was finally done after a very long time and that was to gut the club for a few years and totally rebuild correctly with the long term affordable assets.

          I am 68 years old and I have been a life long Cub fan and I have been through all the good and bad of those years so I am well prepared to go to another year or two to get the job done right. I am tired of ownership which neglected and drained the club and I applaud the current ownership who is spending his own money to build the team correctly simply because he loves the Cubs and wants the best for them.

          1. D.G.Lang

            Sorry bout the typos. You don’t need to call the spelling police, it wouldn’t help.

            1. DarthHater

              Too late, nothing can stop Funn Dave from grammar naziing you. :-P

              1. Funn Dave

                I mean, if I was actually going to read all of that, I probably would…. :P

      3. Wilbur

        I would only say MacPhail should not be faulted for having a plan, but for executing it poorly. Theo should not be praised for having a plan, but for executing it well and while I have hopes final judgement is still years away.

        1. YourResidentJag

          An excellent point.

  11. Jon

    I will see this, Theo does have a point about top FA in their mid 20′s not being available, but correct me if I”m wrong, but it seems like during 1995-2005, you had tons of top players hitting FA at a young age, and the Cubs just sat on the sidelines.

    I still remember being pissed they didn’t get Beltan

    1. terencemann

      I’m surprised players aren’t trying to write into their contracts that they cannot be offered a 1 year extension at the end of their contract in the way that players used to write into their contracts that they couldn’t be offered arbitration to prevent them from being attached to draft pick compensation. Maybe that’s against the new CBA.

  12. Paul

    Eggs (prospects) x 1 Basket (Theo’s legacy) = ?

    1. terencemann

      I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what he was talking about when he said the process isn’t linear and “we’re under no illusions that they’re all going to be stars and that they’ll come right up and we’ll win.”

      1. Paul

        At least he knows he may fail miserably.

        1. BWA

          I know it is fairly likely to happen, but if only 2 of the Big 4 contribute in the pros, we are gonna be bad for a long time. Especially if only one of them is a superstar. Good thing Theo isn’t banking on more than that

        2. Turn Two

          I think your confused. The whole point of this approach is that we aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket. We are setting up a system where we will have continued minor league development and strong scouting to keep kids coming when some inevitably fail.

  13. Senor Cub

    If you are not on-board with the plan, then stop showing up for the games like I did. I will always love the Cubs but until they get better, I will not be returning. Like I’ve said plenty times before, the Kane County Cougars suit my just fine in the meantime (not to mention quite nicely on the pocket book). Every business is out to maximize their earnings potential and Rickets and the Cubs are no different. Stop showing up and force them to put on a better product on the field sooner then they had hoped. Continue to show up in bunches and they will take their sweet ole time in rebuilding.

  14. Die hard

    Proof positive – pudding pops … Pennant 2020 or plop

  15. matty ice

    That first paragraph from Theo made me gag. What a disingenuous asshole. “You guys are so courageous…blah blah. Don’t blame me when the team I’ve put out there loses nearly 300 games my first three years.”

    1. MightyBear

      He’s only been there two.

      1. matty ice

        Future tense

      2. matty ice

        I guess I could have said the most losses in any two year period in the 100+ year history of the Chicago Cubs

  16. jmc

    Ah the Boise Hawks, the Daytona whatevers, and Kane County Cougars. Back in the 90s I knew a Kane County cougar she was married couldn’t come out for a drink and had to meet her in the car. sorry different type of Cougar I youngsters today what does the minor leagues have to do with today’s Wrigley?

  17. Cheryl

    Kyle ispeobably at least 75 to 70 % right. I won’t give him 100% until we are further along in this off-season. I’d like to point out that a part of being a good salesman – like Theo – is is to offer a teaser or a glimmer of hope to cubs fans. He will probably sign at least one, probably two free agents. Then we’ll start to think that maybe 2014 will be better than 2013, maybe we’ll even win 70 games. In the meantime Castro, the Shark and probably Barney will be traded. Rizzo mat also be traded but maybe not until 2015. So it appears that 2015 is when we’ll be more competitive.

  18. jmc

    the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow keeps getting kicked down the road

    1. Professor Snarks

      But it is NOT Theo who is kicking it.
      Theo never gave a timeline. He never said it would take 3 years, 4 years or even 5 years. These estimates come from sportswriters, bloggers, and fans who visit comment threads. These groups have a few things in common:
      -Unrealistic expectations
      -Not enough information
      -MAJOR impatience.

      1. Kyle

        - An insatiable desire to make sure Theo Epstein is never, ever blamed for anything.

        1. Professor Snarks

          Only 1/2 of the people Kyle, only 1/2. Some of us are in the trust but verify camp.
          To some of us, the plan is good, the execution, up to this point, looks good, the end result is still unknown. If we win three world series in the next 12-15 years he deserves credit, if not, he joins a long list of losers.

          1. YourResidentJag

            So, will you be the 1st to don him with the term?

      2. Brains

        yeah if you’re not depressed by Brett’s report you’re probably drunk. or dense.

      3. Bill

        How many 90+ loss seasons is needed before it is considered MINOR impatience to not think this is acceptable?

        1. TWC



      4. Jason Powers

        Theo is a high-level MIDDLE MGR. As such, his boss, Tom Ricketts PROBABLY has put some hefty restraints on the payroll acquisitions. That was not the case for Theo in Boston, as we know.

        So, Theo, using the legal skills of rhetoric, has both persuaded some this particular “plan” is right, while others, are not so persuaded.

        To Prof’s second point, NOT ENOUGH information. Since we don’t have a balance sheet, income statement, or retained earnings, we don’t know a lot about the Cubs health of operations. We believe they have excellent cash flow, though that has to be less so with the losses of attendance since 2009.

        We know they aren’t keen on older FAs. They are locking up the various assets long-term – Castro, Rizzo, Soler – while having only Jackson as a 30ish contract.
        AS MLB Trade Rumors graphically showed, the Cubs have only about as much long-term contract debt as TAMPA, a decidedly more financially hamstrung team, one supposes.

        Yet, when the Cubs were acquired by Ricketts, they piled on a debt load that interest payments are likely 25-30M per season for likely 20 plus seasons. So, Theo was brought in to juggle multiple balls: get better, get cheaper, handle a massive renovation, like he did in Boston.

        “Get better,” I believe is a 3rd priority, and so that’s what irks fans…the ownership has not prioritized the winning over the financial and park experience initiatives. So, here’s to hoping all the cheaper talent hit big.


        1. Brains

          best reply post in the history of this blog

          1. Jason Powers

            Thanks. But I’ll take winning seasons (90+wins) over my meager writing to state winning ain’t yet the top priority….again thanks.

            1. Brains

              if your post can’t convince people, then all of their calls to facts are just bluffs for finding a reason to talk smack. frankly, i like that part of this blog, but i don’t pretend i have some other kind of goal besides goofing around with a depressing situation. guys like you will carry cubsdom into the future, legitimately.

              1. Jason Powers

                I hope so.

                Grandpa was there in 1945. And 1969.
                My mom, God rest, was there in 69 and 84 and 89…
                I was there full throated in 1984, 89, 98..and on.

                I’d just like the Cubs to get all the luck. It’s 2014, 30 seasons since this transplanted southerner of 12 watched them do what it took 39 years to do. 30 years, F-ck. Why NOT us?

  19. jt

    Before the season opener who here would have wanted Nava, Carp, Salti, Drew, Lester, Lackey, Gomes, Victorino, Ross or Uehara?

  20. Die hard

    Phillies dangling top pitching prospect for Price– what do Cubs have to match?

  21. jmc

    honestly. 200 losses in a couple of years. More to come. If not theowho is to blame?

  22. Aaron

    “Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.”
    Soren Kierkegaard

    Many of our current minor league stars will become major league stars. Be patient.

    1. Brains

      cred for quoting crippled philosophers, but he’s talking about understanding the mysteries of the infinite, not asking a sports team to behave with sportsmanship, or put in terms readers like here, asking a business to offer the service as promised after payment.

  23. LER

    The comparisons between McPhail and Theo won’t float. Andy McPhail inherited a Twins team with a tight core of players who had been beat on like a Hong Kong gong until they coalesced into an effective group just before the 1987 season. He had been in Minnesota for two seasons before that wonderful season, and he didn’t significantly change the core. He left a year after the second miracle Twins team won the World Series. That core of players is worshipped by Twins fans yet, as is Tom Kelly, their manager; McPhail isn’t. I’ve been a Cubs fan since around 1950, but I became a Twins fan by marriage in the 80s. Two world series was a good payback for four years of pain. Theo isn’t McPhail. I’m not sure that McPhail was ever McPhail.

    1. YourResidentJag

      I don’t agree that any Twins team was a “miracle” team as you say. It certainly was a different time in the game of baseball. So, while your statement may be accurate, it lacks an understanding of the changes in baseball. But one thing I believe remains a constant. Both WS teams had a core of players. Now, when McPhail came to Chicago, he never created a core despite intentions to do so. That’s where his fault lie and it left a drought of losing for nearly 10 years. I hope the same doesn’t occur here in Chicago circa 2012. I don’t think the losses will be as profound as what occurred under McPhail but I won’t really know for at least a few more years from 2013.

  24. Cubs Lifer

    Theo and Jed inherited a mess. Moral of the story is that the previous 103 years of futility can’t be fixed overnight. There is no magic pixie dust to sprinkle on the turd and make into gold. Theo and Jed are doing this the proper albeit painful way. The payoff will be worth it. Flush the Luvable Loser turd mindset down the toilet. Just have to be patient.

  25. waffle

    there is optimal (read: fantasy) and their is realistic

    given the realistic situation of trying to turn around a pretty crappy team in a competitive environment (2013 MLB) into a consistent winner, I think OVERALL the FO has done an excellent job and I agree completely with their basic assumptions.

    With all the whining I fail to see any suggestions for a better approach. Just alot of whining. Sure, they make mistakes, but that happens. Hindsight is not in and of itself a strategy.

    1. Kyle

      “With all the whining I fail to see any suggestions for a better approach. Just alot of whining. Sure, they make mistakes, but that happens. Hindsight is not in and of itself a strategy.”

      Waaaay back in the old days of the fall of 2011, I warned fans. I warned them that while it may seem appealling to tank a season and build up prospects because you don’t feel like you are “ready” to compete, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. The team that wasn’t good enough to try one year won’t be good enough to try the next year either, because you didn’t improve it.

      I heard a lot of “Nah, we’ll just do this for a year or two, then in 2014 we’ll be contenders. We’ll trade some of this prospect pile for awesome players, we’ll go big in free agency. 2014 is the year.” Perhaps, I said, but it’d be easy to fall into a deeper trap and be stuck in losing mode much longer. Deciding you are too bad to fix is a self-perpetuating cycle.

      That’s not hindsight. It was foresight.

      1. jt

        2011 Cubs RS = 654, RA = 756
        ……….prior to Aug first 43W/65L
        2013 Cubs RS = 602, RA = 689
        ,,,,,,,,,,prior to Aug first 49/58
        2013 Cubs traded two SP’ers and a their starting LF’er close to Aug 1
        Who did the 2011 Cubs trade during the season?
        I just picked a late 2011 game at random…Sept 15
        The game featured Campana, LaHair, Clevenger, Colvin, LeMahieu, Coleman, Dolis, DeWitt, Gaub and Ortiz.
        That was the future of The Cubs?
        There is not a single expensive FA who would require a 5 or 6 yr contract that is on my wish list.
        I would like a blockbuster trade or two. But even without that I’d be happy to see them add a couple back-end of the rotation types, a veteran arm in the pen and slick fielding OF’er who can hit LHP.
        They do that and I’ll be happy to say: “Nice job Theo/Jed!”

        1. YourResidentJag

          So, you said you’d like some additional trades….so apparently would Kyle.

  26. jmc

    okay. Years ago I was having lunch at my favorite German restaurant at Addison and St Louis. Next to me was Jim McDonough with a half dozen or so acolytes. I was drinking a frosty brew Spaten seasonal for those of you who imbibe,jim was drinking A Sprecher root beer as were the Acolytes because they wanted to impress the boss.
    The young guys ask Jim who is going to buy the Cubs? He replied a rich guy with the biggest ego on the planet. Then ask him how do you plan to win? He said I have Alfonso Soriano’s number on speed dial. No that didn’t exactly work out perfectly. but the Cubs got competitive and were entertaining.what is different now?

    1. Blackhawks1963

      So pretend contending wets your whistle. Not the sustainable variety that involves fhe construction of a hi quality farm system. Addiction to free agency doesn’t make for a winner. Not a sustainable one. Even the Yankees owe their 5 most recent World Series championships on the backbone of a great farm system. They spent money on free agents to SURROUND the core they built.

      End of subject.

      1. Kyle

        You sure don’t seem very sure of your own positions, such that you keep trying to make sure nobody responds with corny backwoods sayings like “‘Nuff said” and “End of subject.” I bet that kills with the coffee crowd at the local Hardee’s.

        Everyone knows that building through the farm system is the most sustainable and desirable solution. However, when that has not happened, that doesn’t not mean that we should just bypass the less desirable solutions while we wait years for that to fix itself.

        1. Alan

          Exactly what “less desirable” solutions were by-passed? They did not have a large supply of assets to trade for mlb ready players to help the recent teams. They have used waivers to flesh out the organizational depth. They have signed potential upside FA on low to mid level contracts. They have bid on international FA, winning some. The only path they have avoided is high end FA. Few recent high priced FA are worth the money, so that is not a logical path, especially if money is tight. So what else do you think they should have done?

          1. Kyle

            Is it “worth the money” to let ticket sales drop by hundreds of thousands of years?

            You haven’t phrased the question in a valid way.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Not in the short term but for sustainability it might be the necessary evil.

            2. Alan

              Worth the money in terms of improvement to won loss record. Even if you were confused about this term, you still could have answered the question of what paths the Cobs could have taken that they didn’t. Simple logic shows that worth the money is not a part of the question that I asked twice. Note, I am not asking you to name players but to clarify what types of sanctions the FO has by-passed.

              1. Alan

                Actions, stupid auto correct

              2. Kyle

                “simple logic” has a much deeper meaning than “it makes sense to me so it must be true.” Please don’t sully the good name of logic with such a lame usage.

                I reject several of your premises. The Cubs did have a lot more assets in place than people want to give them credit for. High-priced free agents can be useful. They did a good job of signing mid-tier free agents in the winter of 12-13, but the year before they definitely did not and that has been part of the problem. They also did a particularly poor job with low-end pickups and waiver wire pickups that offseason.

                1. jayrig5

                  Maholm was a good signing the year before. But your greater point is correct.

                2. TOOT

                  “They also did a particularly poor job with low-end pickups and waiver wire pickups that offseason.”

                  As compared to whom I might ask. Low-end pickups and waiver wire pickups are no sure bet. Come on man.

                  1. Kyle

                    “As compared to whom I might ask. Low-end pickups and waiver wire pickups are no sure bet. Come on man.”

                    Well, as compared with themselves last offseason, would be a good example.

                    Whether or not they are a sure bet, the 2012 Cubs had an astonishing ability to lose those bets. They had one of the worst collection of sub-replacement players I’ve ever seen on an MLB team.

                3. jt

                  “High-priced free agents can be useful.”
                  Marmol, Soto and Byrd just totally tanked on them in 2012. They were totally useless. Tell me you expected that and that it was the fault of the FO! They sent Marmol to the minors and he came back to become a useful player for the rest of the season.
                  They had Soriano coached to become an above average fielding LF’er. They allowed Samardzija to become a starter. They traded for Wood and Rizzo. They signed DDJ, Camp and Maholm. They transformed Valbuena to a useful piece. LaHair attained a 0.780 OPS for 2012 which held the fort at 1B until Rizzo took over. They allowed Dempster to reestablish value and received useful compensation in return.
                  Yeah, they received Volsted in trade but the guy they traded for him was “Z”. No loss there. They misjudged Ian Stewart but it only cost them LeMahieu, Colvin and some cash. Corpas was another low risk failure. And you have to admit that Super Joe was at least good for a laugh.
                  I believe The 2011 Cubs minor league pitcher of the year was Jeff Beliveau. Where the heck is he now. They had to evaluate guys like Wells, Coleman and Maine.
                  It was a sow’s ear. To expect it to be turned into a silk purse would have required a set of skills that included walking on water.

                  1. Kyle

                    “Marmol, Soto and Byrd just totally tanked on them in 2012.”

                    Hmm, I’m assuming this wasn’t in response to the part about high-price free agents being useful? Because only one of those guys was an FA and none were high-priced.

                    “They were totally useless. Tell me you expected that and that it was the fault of the FO!”

                    I expected Ian Stewart to be terrible and that definitely was their fault. When you put together a team with no margin for error and some bad stuff inevitably happens, you don’t get to absolve yourself by saying “Well, we couldn’t have foreseen that something bad might happen.”

                    “They sent Marmol to the minors and he came back to become a useful player for the rest of the season.”

                    Ehhhhh, ish. Marmol’s “resurgence” in 2013 was always top-line heavy and peripheral-light.

                    “They had Soriano coached to become an above average fielding LF’er.”

                    Soriano’s abilities in LF were always underrated by Cubs fans.

                    “They allowed Samardzija to become a starter.”

                    Something that had been planned for him since before they got here. But good job not changing their minds, I guess.

                    “They traded for Wood and Rizzo. They signed DDJ, Camp and Maholm.”

                    Good moves, all. Unfortunately, none were on the scale that the team needed.

                    “They transformed Valbuena to a useful piece. LaHair attained a 0.780 OPS for 2012 which held the fort at 1B until Rizzo took over.”

                    LaHair put up a 0.4 fWAR while soaking up 380 plate appearances. That’s not holding the fort, that’s sucking.

                    “They allowed Dempster to reestablish value and received useful compensation in return.”

                    How brilliant of them to not set Dempster on fire or something?

                    “Yeah, they received Volsted in trade but the guy they traded for him was “Z”. No loss there.”

                    The loss was in wanting Volstad at all, and giving him a rotation spot early on while Travis Wood got sent to the minors. A move I was pretty vocally against at the time.

                    “They misjudged Ian Stewart but it only cost them LeMahieu, Colvin and some cash. Corpas was another low risk failure. And you have to admit that Super Joe was at least good for a laugh.”

                    I don’t have to admit that.

                    “I believe The 2011 Cubs minor league pitcher of the year was Jeff Beliveau. Where the heck is he now.”

                    That should tell you that we shouldn’t care about those stupid minor league POY awards.

                    “They had to evaluate guys like Wells, Coleman and Maine.
                    It was a sow’s ear. To expect it to be turned into a silk purse would have required a set of skills that included walking on water.”

                    Well, they had that Starlin Castro kid that was pretty good. All they had to do was not screw him up — oooh, wait.

  27. jmc

    listen to yourself 5 World Series championships

  28. Mr. Brent Kennedy

    I just left the afternoon session. That. Was. Brilliant.

  29. mrcub23

    Didn’t I hear that each mlb team will be getting an extra 25mil from the tv deal next year ? Time to spend some money Theo !

    1. Jason Powers

      Yep. That’s from the national television deals with ESPN, FOX, TBS. But…so did everyone else in baseball. And if all use it to buy more FA players, the change would be to inflate prices on FAs. Net effect: players get more money, you don’t get more players (or more wins). Some teams will not use it this way, but enough will.


    2. YourResidentJag

      But here’s a interesting question posed by rob neyer: robneyer ‏@robneyer 3h
      I keep seeing how new national TV $$$ will help individual teams. How, if they’re all getting the same? Isn’t this mostly a wash?

  30. waffle

    kyle, I don’t think you could find a person on this site who thought this was going to take a year or 2. THEO SPELLED IT OUT. I bet most of us probably felt that this is about right where we would be right about this time. Heck, I think we are ahead of schedule due to the tremendous turn around of our minor leagues.

    I don’t think you have earned an “I told you so” for telling us what most of us (at least most of us who were listening to Theo) already expected. But pat away on that back of yours anyway…

    1. Luke

      There are at least a half a dozen people who reply several times to nearly every story on this website who very clearly do think it was only going to take Theo a year or two (or, at least, think it should have taken him only a year or two) and are absolutely outraged that it is taking longer.

      They may be the minority, but they are an extremely loud and caustic minority.

      1. MichiganGoat

        “They may be the minority, but they are an extremely loud and caustic minority.”
        That’s an understatement and about as nicely as it can be said.

    2. Kyle

      “kyle, I don’t think you could find a person on this site who thought this was going to take a year or 2.”

      Well, they certainly won’t admit it now. The goalposts get moved back as needed.


      Theo speaks in volumes of meaningless doublespeak so that you can read just about anything you want into what he says. No matter what happens, Theo almost certainly said something that could be interpreted as saying that would be what happened.

      1. MichiganGoat

        “Theo speaks in volumes of meaningless doublespeak so that you can read just about anything you want into what he says”
        Then both sides have nothing to stand on, so maybe arguing over the “meaningless doublespeak” by this observation we have no way of assuming anything. I like that instead of trying to dissect that which cannot be dissected I’ll just wait enjoy the Cubs and look forward to a better future. Arguing the pros or being negative and angry is futile.

        1. DarthHater

          That’s just your opinion.

        2. Kyle

          I wouldn’t be worried if it were just Theo’s words. Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough of his actions and heard enough from other sources to see where this is likely headed.

          1. MichiganGoat

            Can you make one in blue and red for us, maybe put a BN on it

            1. caryatid62

              Wow–is that an overreaction.

              1. YourResidentJag

                Well, Theo is a psychological extension for some of these commenters so…. :)

              2. MichiganGoat

                Or maybe it’s a joke… Nah why should we have fun

                1. YourResidentJag

                  Well, kind of hard to do when you’re typing in ALL CAPS telling everyone to STFU. :)

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    Oh Lou STFU ;)

                    1. YourResidentJag

                      Huh, you must be joking. :)

            2. Kyle

              I guess I should say I’m not even worried now. Whatevs. Our MLB team is terrible and the farm help is still not coming in a big way until most likely 2015. And we’re broke. Not much to be done about it now.

          2. jt

            After the April 22, 2013 game The Cubs were 5W-13L. That was the game before Gregg’s first save.
            Over the next 89 games The Cubs were 44W-45L. There is your 0.500 team?
            No! The team on the field was good enough to play even with the rest of the league but they didn’t have the depth to maintain it either before they fielded that particular team (when they were 5W-13L) or after the trades at the deadline when they were 17W-38L.
            In 2014 they have 4 position players who will be trying to knock down the door to get playing time at Wrigley (Alcantara, Baez, Bryant and Villanueva). There is Hendricks and Rosscup and Cabrera. Later in the year Fuji and Arodys may be available.
            Depth at SP’ing is shallow. They need to add some arms short term. But soon they will not be an injury or single trade away from disaster.
            I see a lot more value in this than the $150M/6yr contracts for older guys who are now being denied their greenies.

            1. Luke

              Depends on the guy and if $150M/6yr is really that, or $250M/8yr or some other figure.

              If the Cubs can land Tanaka for the equivalent of that six year contract, sign me up.

              If the only way to land Ellsbury is the $250M/8yr variety… maybe not.

              1. Jason Powers

                Yankees will outbid us on any contract. As they have the same long-term contracts to service as the Cubs (<200M), but higher revenues (per Bloomberg), and if Passan is accurate:–yankees-going-all-in-on-japanese-starter-masahiro-tanaka-220720159.html

                Yankees will get what they want. (if A-rod is suspended, it all but assured they win that bid. About $30M+ to use on a FA)

                1. Luke

                  Not any contract. The Yankees will only bid on contracts that make sense for the Yankees. If they resign Cano, for example, I doubt they look to spend heavily on another second baseman just because they can and they have the money.

                  1. Jason Powers

                    You have to know that was not at all what i said or implied. Though i appreciate the effort to make the stretch i am suggesting they will do that implausible example. You believe will outbid the yankees?

                    Yankees will have more resources to acquire tanaka and cano. Cubs without a substantial upgrade inlocal tv revs are not gonna add 50 million to payroll…for just tanaka and cano. But i can be wrong…hope so. Know differently.

                    1. mjhurdle

                      “Yankees will outbid us on any contract.”

                      Seems to me that was exactly what you said.

              2. jt

                “If the Cubs can land Tanaka for the equivalent of that six year contract, sign me up.”
                A fan has to know his limitations.
                I read and learn from your interpretation of stats.
                But where I really learn from you is your scouting and interpretation of scouting reports.
                Talent is expensive either in prospects or money.
                Yeah, much as I dislike him, Beckett was worth Henley.
                The Tigers have spent big and spent well.
                Tanaka is the right age. If you say he is of the right quality then I’d have to lean that way also. I just wonder if they could find an equitable package that would bring cash relief to a team such as KC and yield a guy like James Shields. I mean, a guy paints himself into a corner…..
                These big money things are strange. Who would have thought Boston fans would be rooting for Lackey?

        3. YourResidentJag

          Actually I think it’s a process v results thing. To me, a lot of those who believe in Theo are consummated by the process to the detriment of the results. Then there are those of us who are attuned to the results and see the process as consequently with less of an emphasis.

      2. Hansman

        Theo opens.his mouth and kyle spams the board right on cue. Its almost like theo is
        trolling kyle

        1. MichiganGoat

          Good point of course Theo speaks to annoy the Kyles, it’s part of the “plan.”

        2. Kyle

          That is *exactly* what is happening.

          1. MichiganGoat

            Theo has stuck you in 1984 with all the newspeak.

          2. Hansman

            Just like Baez likes to troll me with the Ks

        3. DarthHater


        4. Brains

          if kyle is a troll then peter gammons is too. he’s the only guy who substantiates what he says here, besides jason powers, and that includes me.

          see you guys need me to direct your ire, because i can take it and i argue just like you when it’s called for. stop picking on the only competent people who care enough to talk about the team on here.

          1. another JP

            I don’t believe I’ve ever seen more ignorance packed into a single post.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Oh just wait he will find a way to top this

              1. Brains

                i mean i get it, you guys have based a lot of your identity on theo being a model for you as humans. and to undermine that image is to hurt you personally. but none of you theo lovers know how to read statistics correctly, nor do you listen to reason. its like you’re the tea party of baseball fandom. so enjoy the losses, and continue to call them victories, or future victories, or whatever. and then attack poor people who dare to question why the team that they love seems to be moving in the opposite direction than promised.

      3. jt

        2014 ages are used:
        from 2011 Cubs replacements projected for 2014
        Lopez…………..Mickey Mouse would do
        Coleman + Wells + Lopez + Davis + Ortiz combined to start 51 games in 2011.

    3. Funn Dave

      No. What spelled it out was his three-year plan. According to that plan, we should be competitive next year.

      And I’m not criticizing Theo at all.

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