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theo epstein and jed hoyerStarting tomorrow, representatives from each of the 30 MLB teams, together with others who have an interest in the offseason, will gather in Orlando, Florida for three days. Called the General Manager Meetings, the three-day session strikes me each year as ushering in the part of the offseason we associate with the “hot stove.”

For reasons both procedural and practical, you almost never see a significant free agent signing until after the GM Meetings (though you obviously do see some internal moves between the end of the regular season and the start of the GM Meetings – e.g., the Cubs re-signing Ryan Sweeney). Front offices are frequently involved in housekeeping items during the postseason (if they’re not playing) and in the immediate aftermath, so the meetings this week offer an opportunity to start laying meaningful foundation for the moves that will follow. That means both free agent signings and trades.

Unlike at the Winter Meetings in early December, it’s not likely we’ll see any trades or many free agent signings consummated this week, but teams will be taking each others’ temperatures (and teams/agents ditto) for that kind of thing. And it’s likely we’ll hear a number of rumors over the next few days, even if they are very, very exploratory at this phase.

Not coincidently, tomorrow is also the deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offers. As discussed last week, 13 players received qualifying offers of $14.1 million for a one-year deal. Until those players officially make their qualifying offer decision, it’s difficult for the offseason to begin in earnest, given that teams don’t yet know which of the top players will be available, and what it will cost to sign them. From the sound of things, no player will be accepting their offer, and we’ll confirm tomorrow when that’s all locked in.

In the meantime, the GM Meetings get underway tomorrow, and the meatiest part of the offseason begins. Of course, it’s possible that one small thing – like Masahiro Tanaka’s posting process not yet getting underway – could hold everything else up in a waterfall style for weeks. You just never know.

  • Cerambam

    Woohoo! The next 1.5 months is often the most fun part about being on BN. GM/Winter meetings, spring training/opening day, and Trade deadline blogathon are the best!

    ….hopefully Ill be able to add October to that list soon

    • JasonGoch

      I wouldn’t count on that… The and Jed inept and too dillusional to realize that the Cubs are a big market team. Need to go out and get Ellsbury/Can in order to be relevant in the next 4-5 years.

      • Cerambam

        Okeedokee

      • Brian Peters

        You, Jason, are lacking sense. Where did Theo and Jed come from? I believe that would be Boston. Last I checked, Boston is a large-market team. Theo and Jed earned their stripes–and their reputations–by understanding something you do/can not, which is the day-to-day operations of an MLB baseball team…well, that and the ability to spell.

        • JasonGoch

          Jed came from San Diego, buddy. Follow me @JasonGoch on Twitter

          • Kyle

            He was in Boston before San Diego, and no

            • CGruegs45

              This Kyle dawg ain’t know what he talkin bout. #FoRealTho #IDontKnowWhatTheyThinkin #JedWasInSDBoy

              • Mike F

                And you certainly “AIN’T” either…..

        • JasonGoch

          Brian Peters, everybody. Flat out genious, no questions asked. Bro knows what hes talking about, and he has flawless spelling/grammar. Great dude

          • Cubs_Questions

            A simple fact check shows that Jed was in fact in Boston before San Diego until 2009. You’re clearly on the internet because you’re posting here, so just check the facts before posting something that will take away all your credibility as a valid source of information.

      • Stevie B

        Brilliant!!!

    • Eric

      I’m with you. I enjoy this particular stretch the most here at Bleacher Nation. Rumors, rumors of rumors and all that.

  • Die hard

    Wonder how many GMs will be asking about Castro?

    • Dumpgobbler

      Probably a few. Mets, Seattle, SF, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, KC and Cinci will all at least inquire I’d imagine. Looking don’t cost much. I could see the Mets being a real fit if they decided they wanted to part with Syndergaard and a couple of his friends.

      • Mike F

        Tampa already has as has St. Louis….

    • Eric

      I think more will be asking about Shark. Castro is worth more to us than anyone else since he had a bad year. Theo will wait to see what the new coaching staff can do before entertaining the trade-Castro notion.

      • Cubs_Questions

        I agree. I don’t think that Castro’s value goes down any more than it already has if he continues to hit .245 in 2014. He has the past success, so any value that he has and will have is dependent on whether a team thinks he can return to that success.

        I think they hold on to him with the hopes that he returns to form and trade him if he doesn’t ultimately return to his old production.

  • cubes

    if we don’t land at least 1 (to 3) of the top names this offseason we will sorely regret it…

    the market is deeper than it will be for a long time
    and the market is cheaper than it will be forever… inflation is Linear
    signing proven players creates surplus within your organization
    and we have so many holes on our team that the waiting & hoping 100% of your prospects pan out “Plan” seems more than silly.

    • Brian Peters

      I’m sure Mr. Ricketts will take your advice in consideration. And then he’ll write it down so he doesn’t forget it. And then he’ll head into the Men’s room and wipe his behind with the paper containing such hogwash.

      • CGruegs45

        Brian, #GTFO bro. #NuffSaid #PleaseAndThankYou #SorryNotSorry

    • praying the cubs get ready to win

      Also we get to keep our top draft pick and give up a second, third and fourth pick.

      In addition, at the trade deadline we have some marginal players we can trade for minor leaguers.

    • Cubs_Questions

      Cubes, teams that are good year after year are the ones who develop from within, like the Cardinals. Not every prospect pans out and Theo and Co. know that. It’s about filling your farm system with enough good prospects that they don’t all have to pan out, and then going out and signing key free agents when the timing is right.

      • Kyle

        So when was this period where the Cardinals didn’t go after players to improve their team because they were waiting for the timing to be right? What years?

        • Cubs_Questions

          That isn’t what I was saying and you actually missed the entirety of my main point.

          • Kyle

            Everyone agrees that developing prospects is essential.

            That doesn’t have to go hand in hand with passivity on the MLB roster.

            • Professor Snarks

              It doesn’t have to, but apparently Theo wanted it to.

              To answer your previous question, I do believe the Cardinals struggled when Stan Musial left….

              • Kyle

                http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/23666171-573/with-renteria-in-fold-dont-expect-theo-to-gamble-on-free-agents.html

                A bunch of great Epstein quotes where he basically rules out every pipe dream we have this offseason (including big trades for premium players) while tacking on a hasty “but we wouldn’t rule anything out” at the end.

                I *really* wish I’d kept a list of everyone who said “But Kyle, if we’re not trying to win by 2014, I’ll be right there with you.”

                • Professor Snarks

                  Everyone who thought 2014 was the goal to start winning were too optimistic, or didn’t understand the scope of ‘The Plan”‘

                  Theo has NO interest in spending money, or player assets, to JUST win 80 games. He has said that. I never felt it would be sooner than 2016, and to be honest, that seems a bit of a pipe dream at this point (I just don’t know where the pitching is coming from).

                  The Cubs will continue to lose until their star prospects start increasing the win totals. Once the team improves internally, Theo will become much more aggressive And, needless to say, if we don’t get any stars from the current farm system (at least 2?), the new GM will have a huge struggle to make us competitive this decade.

                  • Bill

                    If Theo can’t contend by 2016/2017 then he shouldn’t have his contract renewed. Come on, that would give him 5-6 years to bring a contender. Chi is a large market team, revenue should be coming in from a new TV contract, additional ads in the outfield, etc. You people have no limit on your patience if you don’t think this team should be contending by year 5-6 of Theo’s tenure.

                    If he’s so incompetent that he can’t put a winning product on the field by then he simply shouldn’t be extended. Frankly his plan sucks if it takes 6-7 years to bring a winner to the north side.

                    If building the farm system is all it takes to remain Pres/GM then, if at the end of Theo’s contract the major league product is still terrible, let Theo go and promote McLeod to President. He’s the guy who seems to have the eye for talent.

                  • Mike F

                    These conversations always get irrational. 2016 might be to soon and Theo might be gone in 2017 too, maybe before. Gordon is a grotesque hater of the organization so extremes react….. Kyle, you are someone I respect and read, but the offseason isn’t started and based on the negative idiots at the runtimes you are thinking too much.

                    I think 2014 has serious consequences. I have read this doublespeak from great GM’s for years and it can be taken by anybody with an agenda either way. Gordon knows exactly what he is doing. Basically black-mailing and putting a blackmail and negative strategy forward. Theo said he stayed too long in Boston. Theo came to create a legend, Prof that didn’t include losing close to 500 games in 5 seasons or 300 in 3 either. Ricketts didn’t buy that either.Theo is doing some most bright GM’s do. He’s being deceptive and lowering expectations.

                    This is a major market, if he continues to lose this season he’s on the hot seat next and if he repeats in 2015 and the prospects struggle or hangs on to Castro or Rizzo beyond their warrant, he’ll be gone before 2016. Frankly, I don’t think he will be satisfied with less than 75 wins, but if he is all of this will take take care of itself, but Wittenweiner is a bitter bitter man, and Theo shouldn’t let him in the same room. At least Rosenbloom is honest and entertaining.

                    • Kyle

                      Theowhispering is a difficult and tricky art, and in a few months we’ll know the plans so there’ll be no need to speculate.

                      But I’m hardly basing this just on one article. The signs for what we plan to be doing in the offseason have been piling up.

                    • Dave

                      He may sound bitter but much of what he writes is the truth .

                • DarthHater

                  “I *really* wish I’d kept a list of everyone who said “But Kyle, if we’re not trying to win by 2014, I’ll be right there with you.”

                  My friend, you seem to be spending an awful lot of energy lately worrying about what other people are thinking. Does it really matter?

                  • Kyle

                    Does anything?

                    • Internet Random

                      Yes.

                    • Mike F

                      I get what you said above and think your points are valid, you aren’t in my view extreme just a little pessimistic from what you consider with the media.

                      Let me give you something to think about. First when all this started, Theo ran to the score and seemed to say, I really mean seemed to say they were disappointed due to being able to sign all the people they wanted from fiscally constraints, namely Cespedes and Darvish. The next day, out comes Ricketts politely and firmly rephrasing that and refuting it. Now Wittenwhiner is peddling to the true believers, Theo is conceding at least two more years of losing.

                      Put ourselves in Ricketts and the business people shoes. You are actively pursuing redo’s on radio and the WGN portion of the TV contract. You are talking to advertisers roof top owners and business owners. And you are peddling season ticket and corporate tickets. So help me, which of that group does it help to have Theo saying that stuff and meaning it. No one but the true believers in the losing way, is buying the get on board and give your money blindly so you’re here when we win at a postponed date.

                      I am telling you he’s lowering expectations so he is the greatest mind in baseball again when they win. And if he loses how can anyone be mad. I don’ t buy he seeks to lose to lose. And again, if this is Ricketts strategy he’s a moron.

                • jt

                  “Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat) that he expects Jackson to be a positive for the Cubs next season, though he noted that the team plans to add more “quality” starting pitching this winter. “Every starting pitcher we acquire is someone we hope is starting Game 1 of the World Series for us,” Epstein said.”
                  –Mark Polishuk at MLBTR
                  *
                  “…if we’re not trying to win by 2014…”
                  –Kyle
                  OK, fair enough! I said something similar.
                  I still believe they should be trying to win in 2014. I just don’t think giving $40M/3yr to Jimenez is going to make that happen.
                  Do I think Theo should fib to the press as to his intentions? Yes!

                  • Mike F

                    absolutely correct. And if he loses 100 and does nothing this offseason, I’m off the Theo train, I just don’t think it makes any sense to get off at the moment…..

                • http://deleted cub2014

                  I for one have said all along this should be
                  the year we start contending. To do this we
                  need to bring in 2 all star type players and 2
                  quality big leaguers and after that a little luck
                  (return to form of: Olt,Castro,Rizzo & EJackson)

                  I know we will go get the 2 quality big leaguers
                  but will we go get the 2 stars? It doesnt sound
                  like it, there is no reason we cant add 30M in
                  smart payroll. If they dont as I have said all along
                  I will be very dissapointed and surprised in this FO.

                  • http://deleted cub2014

                    I know my lineup for 1st and 2nd halfs of
                    2014 are optimistic but it would be a very
                    good lineup? (We only need to bring in
                    Choo and CarGo. ONLY)
                    1st half:
                    1. CF Choo L
                    2. SS Castro R
                    3. LF CarGo L
                    4. C Castillo R
                    5. 1B Rizzo L
                    6. RF Lake R
                    7. 2B Watkins L
                    8. 3B Olt R

                    2nd half
                    1. CF Choo L
                    2. SS Castro R
                    3. LF CarGo L
                    4. RF Bryant R
                    5. 1B Rizzo L
                    6. 3B Baez R
                    7. 2B Alcantera S
                    8. C Castillo R
                    bench: Lake Sweeney Olt Valbuena

                    If those 3 rookies make it that will be
                    a good lineup for years to come. If
                    Almora comes up he could take over for
                    Choo in center. This would give us youth,
                    cost control and balance through out the
                    lineup.

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

                To Kyle: It does seem that we will be underwhelmed by FA this season, if Theo is being fairly honest.

                ““Our business plan and our facilities plan and our baseball plan are all a couple years away from reaching fruition, and we’re going to be as aggressive as we can given our situation,”

                Meaning their situation is money is tied up. No free resources for overpriced guys like Tanaka, Choo, or Price. (WHICH is not to say I want any of those guys…at their price points.)

            • jt

              You blame Theo/Jed for the 2012 performances of Marmol, Soto and Byrd? You blame Theo/Jed for T. Wood not pitching effectively until May 5, 2012? You blame Theo/Jed for Garza getting hurt after 17 2012 starts?
              You blame Theo/Jed for the lack of depth they inherited in 2012?

              • Kyle

                It’s quite a bit more complicated than just pointing to a few underperforming players and saying “whelp, not their fault, nothing they could do.”

                For one thing, it’s not like people are shy about heaping credit on the front office for overperforming players, so it’s yet another example of the “heads I win, tails you lose” setups that some people love to employ.

                But going down that list:

                I don’t blame the front office for Marmol’s performance, but I do blame the front office for not solidifying the bullpen around him. I was pretty vocal that offseason that if you were going to trade Marshall and Cashner and promote Samardzija (none of which were bad moves), you had to complement those moves with serious talent added to the pen. They didn’t and got burned.

                I very much blame Epstein and Hoyer for Travis Wood not opening the 2012 season in the MLB rotation. They let their manager go with a clearly inferior option in Volstad on the basis of overreacting to ST performance. I think our regulars who were around then might recall that I vocally considered Wood our second-best starter from the day he was acquired.

                I don’t blame them for Garza getting hurt, but I do blame them for playing their foolish games in not trading him in ST when his value was at it speak. I fear they’ll make the same mistake with Samardzija.

                And they didn’t inherit a lack of depth in 2012. It’s odd that you would say that, because lack of depth was the exact opposite of the team’s problem. Post-2011, depth was the strong suit of the Cubs in both the majors and minors. The team’s problem was a serious lack of impact players. That depth disappeared mostly through a lack of replenishment as the natural attrition that comes with all baseball teams occurred, as well as a bit through some rather short-sighted and foolish moves (the Ian Stewart trade, some rule 5 losses, trading players for prospects without acquiring replacements to fill the void).

                • jt

                  There are 8 positions plus 5 rotation spots
                  Rizzo, Castro and Castillo. They may suck in 2014 but I don’t think so.
                  Valbuena and either Murphy or Barney are a good enough platoon at 2B (0.710 OPS + good defense).
                  Schierholtz had a 0.770 OPS last season as a platoon. They need a RHH OF who can hit LHP. That is not a big investment. There are a few guys available.
                  Sweeney has a career 0.750 OPS vs RHP. Lake could provide an OPS of 0.700 vs RHP.
                  Olt/C.Villanueva could provide the D at 3B but probably not the bat.
                  Bugusevic/Vitters in LF probably come up short with both bat and glove. There are guys like David Murphy available.
                  Wood, Shark and Jackson are good enough to occupy the 2,3,4 positions in the rotation. They can add a guy like Kazmir to compete with Arietta, Hendricks and Rusin.
                  That is the base. That is before any moves are made. Do they have to improve upon what they have over the winter? Sure! But they now have talent to trade and I believe they have some money to spend in taking on other teams expensive contracts.
                  *
                  The point is that they now have depth. After a slow start in 2013 they went something like 48W/49L. The slow start was because they didn’t have depth. They finished poorly in 2013. They traded 2 SP’ers and their LF’er. They didn’t have depth. Even while they were playing close to 0.500 baseball over a good stretch, they were not good. They did not have depth. They were always an injury away from tanking.
                  *
                  They now have enough to make a balanced lineup. They now have above replacement level depth. They now have enough good arms that they can over work the pen.

                  • Rizzo1684

                    Great Comment!

                  • Kyle

                    A balanced depth of awfulness isn’t really useful as balance or depth.

                • jt

                  T. Wood was horrible at Iowa in April of 2012. Perhaps he was working on something. Maybe he was out of shape. Maybe he just needed to work out some kinks. I don’t know but he was horrible.
                  They had Russell, they added Camp. Beliveau was Henry’s MiL pitcher of the year and was supposed to be ready. Were they told to resign K. Wood? Corpas, like Volstad was a waste and Lendy was an excuse for losing. But Marmol, Beliveau and Wood? no! I don’t blame Theo/Jed for them.
                  They should have traded Garza before he got hurt? C’mon! You know I’m not going to accept that.
                  I looked at the Iowa roster for both 2011 and 2012. They did have Bobby Scales in 2011.
                  I looked at the reserves on the 25 man roster in 2011. I think you should take another look.
                  Soriano got off to a slow start in 2012. That along with Soto and Byrd’s performance led to a team OPS in April of 0.633. That was not the team of the new FO. That was still Henry’s team playing under Hendry’s contracts.

                  • Kyle

                    Wood was only horrible at Iowa in 2012 if you look at the superficial numbers and not the peripherals. He was fine.

                    Everybody needs to stop caring about the Minor League POY awards forever. They are meaningless in terms of prospect status.

                    You can accept whatever you want.

                    2011 Iowa featured acceptable MLB backups Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo, Ryan Flaherty, Marwin Gonzalez, Tyler Colvin, and Tony Campana. That’s a lot of cheap depth. They didn’t need more depth. They needed stars.

      • Brains

        yeah i mean this is the PR press release. but does it mean that it’s true? this is where i have my doubts. plus, the fact that this approach is completely without precedent in baseball history for a big market makes me think something is very fishy. in all honesty it’s actually part of my job to see if institutions are organized correctly. i’m very pessimistic about what’s going on in the short and mid-terms. none of the indications say that the organization is on a healthy track – it looks like we’re significantly and potentially permanently worse off than with the tribune company.

      • cubes

        “It’s about filling your farm system with enough good prospects that they don’t all have to pan out, and then going out and signing key free agents when the timing is right.”

        wrong

        It’s about knowing what prospects will pan out and signing key free agents when they are available.

        the idea that every offseason has multiple TORP and middle the order bats when ever “the time is right” is so very laughable.

        ive never said don’t develop from within and sign every player for 300mill… I just think that we can afford to put a better MLB team together and still build from within without tanking every season.

        • Cubs_Questions

          You don’t just “know” which prospects will pan out. If that were the case, everything would be a whole lot easier than it actually is.

          And when the “time is right” doesn’t necessarily refer to when the Cubs are ready to win, but deciding that the right player is on the market now to help the Cubs down the road.

          The idea is not to spend just to get big names, but to spend on the big names that can be around when the Cubs can win. For instance, if that means going for Tanaka now, the time is right because he is available and with his age he could be around for if/when the Cubs win.

          That’s what I meant by when the time is right; I didn’t simply mean that the Cubs would one day go out and sign five different impact players in one free agency and intend to win the World Series with that strategy.

          • cubes

            so right now the time is not right because you expect any player signed to a 5 year deal wont be good in said 5 year time period?

            you expect us to not make a playoff push for over 5 years?

            by that time all these “core” guys we have now will be on there way to 30 years old and by many of your standards that makes them completely useless no matter there track record of proven success at the MLB level because now they might cost more money than the next 23 year old.

            you only need to look at 1 stat to know what prospects will make it, TWTW:)

  • THEOlogical

    I live close enough to Orlando that I’d like to go visit the hotel(s) where the conferences are being held. Does anyone know if a casual fan (albeit die hard Cubs fan) can just walk on in and meet some of these GM’s?

    • Die hard

      Better luck at local Starbucks between 6am and 730am

    • Eric

      I’ll wager a person would have pretty good luck hanging around some of the local pubs…

  • macpete22

    Anybody think the Cubs will talk to Colorado about Dexter Fowler?

    • Adventurecizin’ Justin

      I’d kick the tires.

      • cubzfan

        I’d offer Arrieta and Lake, and possibly a guy like Watkins or Szczur, for Fowler and a middling relief prospect (a la Corey Black).

        • Brian Peters

          That’s just crazy talk.

        • macpete22

          That wouldn’t be bad. I don’t think I’d give up someone of Corey Black caliber though

        • #23

          I wouldn’t be so quick to trade Arrieta. He may surprise everyone in 2014. He’s got good stuff, just a matter of harnessing it. I am anxious to see what he can do in a full season for the Cubs.

    • jeff1969

      The Rockies want a ton for Fowler. They want a top prospect for him. Pass.

  • Kyle

    I think that Tanaka-holding-everything-up idea might be very prescient.

    Darvish wasn’t posted until Dec. 9. We might not even have an agreement on what the posting process will look like by then, and his Japanese team has plenty of incentive to wait. Waiting both thins the market and lets the Yankees find out what’s going to happen with Alex Rodriguez.

    This could be one of the slowest offseasons to date in terms of the big names signing.

    But maybe, just maybe, a guy like Epstein tries to set the market with some quick moves, much like he did when he traded Garza this year.

    • THEOlogical

      I disagree that waiting is a good plan for the Japanese team who holds the rights to Tanaka. When you have a top “free agent” player and want to get the most for said player, you don’t try and thin the market. You’d want as many teams as possible bidding for the rights to negotiate a contract. You may find 1 or 2 teams whole off season splash was getting Tanaka. Even if the Yankees bow out, they’d still get close to or more than what they believed was top dollar bidding price.

    • Patrick W.

      The posting system isn’t just being changed for Tanaka and his team. I’m sure that’s helping drive the discussion but I think no change in the process is the most beneficial to Tanaka’s team, and the potential changes being discussed are most beneficial to MLB and Tanaka himself. I’m not sure how much influence Tanaka’s team wields in NPB (meaning I’m not actually sure not that the idea they are it’s debatable). Under the current system waiting it’s absolutely the best policy for a posting team.

    • jt

      If they are going to spend that much on Tanaka, why don’t they just sign Garza?

      • Mike F

        depends on what and when they are saying. Generally you would consider that to be Gasrza is 30 with a history of arm troubles and wants the controllable years bought. Still bet he wants 90 M for 5 years…. Tanaka who i am not excited about is the 25 year old Theo is simultaneously dangling out their and then saying no to making Hoyer look like he’s out of touch.

        Mollazak from the Cardinals made an interesting pretty clear statement that he wants to trade young pitching for a young Shortstop with controllable year. Yeah I think they will talk to the Rockies who will ask for Miller and Martinez, Adams and probably at leas mother player. If Theo wants to get young pitching and has the balls to trade with StL he can give them younger at a greatly reduced contract. Should excite you all who think 30s don’t fit……. I mean the cardinals are certainly looking for a Castro like guy, likely because they can get him for just two pitchers and that would work for me.

      • Kyle

        Because Garza is 30 with a history of elbow problems and Tanaka is 25 with a clean bill of health

        • jt

          ” Tanaka is 25 with a clean bill of health”
          –Kyle
          At what age is a pitcher most susceptible to elbow/shoulder injury?

  • papabear

    In years past there was a time period that teams could only negotiate with their own team. To talk to them would be tampering. The gm meeting are held during that time. This year that has changed. Players also had till in December to except or deny the teams offers. There were a lot more players and teams in limbo over those players.

    I am just saying this year might be different than years past.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sure. Last year had the same timelines, though. Tender deadline is still end of November, which is part of the delay.

    • Scotti

      I’m with Papabear. Add to that the fact that everyone knows that nearly everyone else has the MLB cash to spend and there will be a number of teams looking to jump the market. The only drag on the market will be agents but if GMs are willing to overspend early then deals will get done early.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Indeed. “You just never know.” :)

  • CGruegs45

    When Brett puts a smiley face, s*** gets real, real fast. #AllDayErDay #RealTalk #WhatChuKnowBoutMe #WhatChuWhatChuKnow #TonightIsTheNight #CeilingCantHoldUs

    • Jason P

      #Don’tfeedthetroll

  • BWA

    #PleaseStopThesePosts #NoValue #Thanks

  • The Logos

    I, for one, hope the Cubs use these meetings to set the stage for trading some guys away. I would like to see deals done for Barney, Castro and Samardzija this offseason, and I think there will be a market for them.

    Let the games begin.

  • North Side Irish

    Jeff Passan ‏@JeffPassan 12m
    Sources: Cardinals plan to start push for Troy Tulowitzki this week. Also interested in Rangers SS: http://yhoo.it/1dXguPD

    Of course…

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Eh, they make me smile a little.

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Tyler Colvins a minor league free agent. (:

    • Professor Snarks

      Is Ian Stewart available?

  • caryatid62

    So basically, assuming free agency is likely off the table for awhile now, the earliest the Cubs will be sniffing the playoffs (if everything goes right and 3 of the “big four” pan out) will be 2016.

    2014: Thrown away. Baez might be up sometime late in the year, Bryant likely not before September, if at all
    2015: Baez settles in, becomes a very good player Bryant starts year with team and hopefully has success. Soler joins team sometime between June and September
    2016: Almora makes it to majors, to couple with the other three and the Cubs get above .500 and challenge for a wild card possibly. Hopefully a pitcher (or more likely multiple pitchers) currently in the minor league system breaks out.

    This is likely an overly optimistic scenario, but then again, there isn’t much realism to enjoy at the moment. This is a bad team with little prospects for getting meaningfully better in the next year and a half.

    • Kyle

      Following that timeline

      2017: Make the playoffs
      2018: Make the playoffs
      2019: Miss the playoffs after an injury-riddled season
      2020: Make the playoffs

      And after nine years on the job, Epstein will retire with three playoff appearances, matching Jim Hendry.

      • Bill

        Kyle,

        That timeline might be too optimistic given the lack of pitching talent in the system. Granted we have a lot of guys who could be acceptable 4/5 starters, but not many who would be 1-3, at least not now. Throw in injuries, which always occur, and 2017 could be very optimistic following that timeline. It’s also not going to be easy or cheap to acquire TOR caliber starters via FA.

        Why doesn’t Theo just call it the 10 year plan? No sense is being urgent about these things. Let’s take our time, maybe after 10 years people will forget it was the 10 year plan and think it was the 15 or 20 year plan.

        • jt

          ” but not many who would be 1-3, at least not now.”
          –Bill
          you only need 3

    • Kyle

      But I mean yeah, you’re *probably* right that this team will continue to be bad for a bit.

      But baseball’s a weird game. As unlikely that it is, there’s at least a *chance* that we have a massive development spurt all over the roster simultaneously.

      • caryatid62

        Of course. Castro could re-emerge, Rizzo could see a BABIP bounceback, and they could deal Samardizija for some stellar pitching prospects. Shierholtz could remain steady, and Castillo could continue to improve, while the bullpen that showed signs of progress at the end of last year could turn into a shutdown unit (as bullpens can do at seemingly random times).

        If ALL of those things happen, this team could surprise next year. Probability-wise, though, I certainly wouldn’t wager on that. That a hell of a lot of variables.

    • Mike F

      I hate to break the news, Theo obviously knows all 4 won’t make it. It just doesn’t happen. So the key becomes picking which ones most likely fail and trading them before. Castro is a case in point. If he returns to form, and that is a huge if, his value comes back. But if they drop him out of the 1 hole, pitchers now become more willing to take chances throwing him crap and he’s just as likely to hit less than .260. That form is not going to see his value anything near what it is today. Baez value is probably off the charts. So if Theo is truly wiling to tie his fate to Castro, Baez might well be gone.

      Sometimes Theo is too cute by half… and this one of those times. I do believe the market will be intense, I do believe they will not sign every guy out their. But I think they are looking at 2 of the top tier guys and some just on the fringe. Obviously they won’t sign them all and maybe none, but as clear as people think he’s been about sitting his hands he hasn’t been oblique about just one thing. And that is he has too look at everything. If he plans to lose for the next two years, he should call the movers now, because he won’t be here…

    • Professor Snarks

      caryatid62, there is one thing you forgot to mention.. 3 of the following teams will need to collapse over the next three years…

      St. Loius
      Pittsburgh
      Atlanta
      Washington
      Arizona

      And San Fran can’t rebound.

      All these teams are playoff contenders, with some impact talent, and good farm systems. Our odds don’t look good, unless we get really lucky with our farm. Real lucky.

      • Caryatid62

        Hence why I referred to it as an overly optimistic scenario. At the moment, possibly unrealistic optimism is pretty much all there is.

        • Brains

          i would call it angry optimism bordering on violent mood swings. it’s really great, actually. this whole process has destabilized people’s emotional states and brought out all kinds of trust issues.

  • Matty Ice

    What happened to every season is sacred? What BS.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      That was “every chance to win” is sacred. That’s a long cry from “every season” for the Cubs!

      • Kyle

        It was immediately preceded by “Every season is a chance to win” :)

  • caryatid62

    This idea that giving out large free agent deals somehow dooms a team to failure is ridiculous. There isn’t one deal the Cubs made between 2006 and the present that would not have been mitigated by better drafting and development of players.

    Given where the Cubs have drafted since 2005, with perfect scouting and/or development, they could be fielding a team that would consist of:

    Pitching Staff:
    Ian Kennedy
    Madison Bumgarner
    Andrew Cashner (Cubs’ pick)
    Jeff Samardzijia (Cubs’ pick)
    Taijuan Walker

    HItters:
    Jason Kipnis
    Wil Myers
    Andrelton Simmons
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Brett Gardner

    To be clear, this would have been perfection–highly unlikely. But the point of this isn’t “hey, this should have been our team!” The point of this is to demonstrate that the failure of the Hendry regime was in the drafting/development, NOT the free agency spending.

    Each of these players were drafted within 10 picks AFTER the Cubs’ pick in a round of the draft between 2005-2011. None of these players would have been impacted at all by the money that the team tied up in contracts starting in 2007. Those contracts wouldn’t have affected these players whatsoever. A team with even half of these players on it would be an incredible base from which to build a contender today. The failure was NOT in overpaying free agents; it was in not scouting and developing players from within, which could have been done even while the team was winning NL Central crowns.

    The takeaway is simple:
    1. Free agents will be overpaid by the end of their deals, but are necessary to contend consistently.
    2. Good scouting and development mitigates the cost of overpaying for free agents.
    3. Excellent young, cheap players can be found at whatever position a team is drafting from, and terrible teams at the MLB level (and the resulting high draft picks) shouldn’t be thought of as the only means by which to build a successful franchise.

  • jeff1969

    I think this is going to be a very annoying offseason for Cubs fans. I’m hoping not, but, I got a feeling.

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