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theo epstein about thatIn conjunction with the season ticket holder event this weekend, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke several times about the offseason, and the Cubs’ plans.

  • Epstein threw cold water, per Gordon Wittenmyer, on the idea that the Cubs will be trading top prospects this offseason to acquire big league talent and improve the near-term outlook. “In our situation, where we have to make every asset count and every dollar count and we don’t want to get in our own way with our development plan …. The possibility of trading significant assets so you can then acquire someone and then reward him with a nine-figure contract is not as appealing as keeping your core prospects if they’re guys you really believe in, and then at the right time adding that impact piece from outside the organization.” That feels like a reference to David Price, who is expected to command a gigantic extension if a team that trades for him is to retain him beyond 2015. Epstein did make sure to caveat, however, that the front office will always explore the trade market and see what’s what.
  • As mentioned earlier, Epstein was asked at the event about the Edwin Jackson signing, and his response indicated that, from a financial standpoint, if the front office knew then what they know now, they may not have proceeded with the signing, believe it was too soon. Couple that with several references to the Cubs being “a couple years away” from having the business plan come together (i.e., meat of the Wrigley renovation underway, new TV deal kicking in) at the same time as the development plan (i.e., core prospects theoretically breaking through in the bigs), and it’s starting to look like 2014 could resemble 2012 and 2013 in most meaningful ways.
  • That said, Epstein suggested to Carrie Muskat that the front office is not looking to grab a bunch of pitchers to flip at the deadline in 2014 this offseason, and instead are looking for pieces for the future. How best to square these things? The Cubs are feeling good about their pitching depth right now, such that there isn’t much reason to go out and sign several one/two-year types like they did last year. But if they can get a quality starter at a decent price that could contribute in 2015 and beyond, maybe they go out and make that happen. But there’s no urgency.
  • Supporting that theory, Epstein told Jesse Rogers about the starting pitching, “We need to add some quality. I think we’re in a little bit better position than we’ve been as far as quantity.” Masahiro Tanaka, anyone? Jed Hoyer said the Cubs would be involved in that process, and Tanaka, 25, certainly lines up with everything Epstein has laid out. That includes these comments, per Colleen Kane: “We’re going to look for moves that make sense for now and for the future. We wish there were a free agent market for young players, as we talked about. There’s not. Every now and then that situation pops up, and you harbor your resources for that one guy who might make sense.”
  • Also on the pitching side, Epstein said something interesting about the relief market. Per Carrie Muskat, Epstein said that having an open closer’s position gives the Cubs a special opportunity when shopping for a top-end reliever. That’s quite true: the ability to say to the top setup men on the market that, with you, there’s a chance to become a closer and rake in bigger bucks the next time around, is a big asset. Given the makeup of the bullpen, it already made sense for the Cubs to go after at least one reliable, veteran reliever. I think we’ll see it for sure, now.
  • macpete22

    Hopefully I won’t be saying I wish the Cubs would have saved the money from E-Jax to sign Tanaka…At 25/26 Tanaka sounds like the perfect fit. Unfortunately it looks like he’s all but the Yankees to lose

    • DocPeterWimsey

      We will never know the bids, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees outbid the #2 team by more than EJax’s contract. (The Rangers seemingly did so going after Darvish.)

    • aaronb

      My prediction is that Tanaka signs elsewhere…..And the pollyanna crowd claims that we finished 2nd on him as a badge of honor.

      That seems to be the M.o.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        No one anywhere has said the Cubs finished second in the Darvish, Cespedes, or Ryu bidding as a “badge of honor.”

        • Kyle

          We don’t even really know that they finished second on any of them, though I find some of the reports more credible than others.

        • aaronb

          I’ve seen it plenty over the last couple of years. The Epstein is trying really hard, but keeps finishing 2nd on every good free agent crowd.

          We can’t blame the front office for any actual results. They are trying really hard…

          • BT

            we can’t be blamed for the voices in your head.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I don’t think “badge of honor” means what you’re suggesting it means.

            • cub2014

              there are 6-10 teams going after these top
              foreign FA and its not logical to expect the
              Cubs to get these guys (the dodgers have lost
              their mind!)

              what I did take from the article is that someone
              like Price isnt likely. they arent going to trade
              top prospects for big contracts.

              he did say they would be signing long term
              assets. thats what i want to see this off season.
              I hope it includes an OBP guy not just pitching.

          • Boogens

            I don’t want to quibble about this but the Cubs have successfully signed a bunch of other targets including Concepcion, Paniagua, Soler and several young players earlier this summer. We can argue about the value of these signings but clearly the Cubs have a much bigger presence in the international market than ever before.

            • Jon

              Conception has been nothing short of a disaster, and the early returns on Paningua haven’t been promising.

              • North Side Irish

                1) the early reports on Paniagua were excellent. The recent ones have not been.

                2) “Conception has been nothing short of disaster” is a terrible idea for a Father’s Day card.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Heh. Number two.

                • Jon

                  #2 is good advice!

              • Boogens

                Did you read what I wrote? I don’t want to argue the value – my pointwas that they are much more a player in international signings than ever before.

          • TK

            That may be the case . . . losing out on all the best FA’s. For example, settling on EJax after Anibel Sanchez chose Detroit. Detroit is a better team, and he had a higher likeliness to be successful there. Of course these guys are choosing other teams. Wouldn’t you?

            BUT, to blame the current FO is a half-wit thing to do. Epstein and Hoyer are here to change that, and it is very visible that they are very much on the right track. Unfortunately, to do it right, it does take time. When we start seeing guys like Baez and Bryant coming up and a very young team looking competitive, with the money that will be available, every top FA will be available to us.

            I guess at that point some people will say the FO had nothing to do with it.

        • CubFan Paul

          “No one anywhere has said..”

          Posters here have when talking up the failures or lack of big signings for those guys.

          • BT

            So we give them a “badge of honor”? Or are we not allowed to report on facts that other sportswriters report when they tell us the Cubs actually came in second in the bidding process?

            Those responses are used when someone accuses the Cubs of not making an effort, not as a pat on the back for Theo “trying really hard”.

            But if reporting that Buster Olney said the Cubs came in second on the blind bid for Darvish is drinking the kool aid, and enabling the front office, I guess that’s the way it goes.

            • CubFan Paul

              “So we give them a “badge of honor”?”

              Yes.

              As in, with specific arguments I’ve had with a few others on Theo&Co’s efforts, they would continually bang the drum that “we came in second, what else do you want, we’ll try again, you’re overreacting, we were involved!”

              That’s what I meant by ‘Posters here’, but from singular conversations personally, whether they meant it or not.

          • FFP

            Driving up another team’s contract with a player is not “finishing second.” It is competing. Partly, it is helping ensure that none of your competitors slip ahead of you with a sweetheart deal on their payroll.

            I do look forward to the Cubs actually acquiring “that one guy who might make sense,” because it will be one of signs that our scouts and development gurus feel like it is time.

            So goes “Theowhispering”

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Again: I don’t think you’re using “badge of honor” correctly.

  • Mike F

    Good GM’s talk a lot and say nothing of substance. They constantly lower expectations. Whether that helps in media and corporate contract and advertising talks is another matter. And certainly if people listen to old Gordon, it won’t do anything for ticket sales.

  • YourResidentJag

    So basically, we don’t want FAs, we can’t get protected top talent via trades, but we don’t expect another 90 loss season. You’re not very bright, are you Theo?

    • Cheese Chad

      He probably expects the players we have to get better. Ideally that’s what happens. As we get older we get better, sounds like a great way to live.

      • YourResidentJag

        Possibly..problem is as players get older they become high price FAs which Theo clearly doesn’t want this offseason. So, ummm….not sure if I’d agree with that “great way to live argument because Theo keeps justifying against it for the long term health of an organization. It is a great way to think if you’re more interested in process vs results, the minutia of the inner workings of Theo’s mind and the overall philosophy that the uncertainties of the future are better than the currency of the present. So, lemme guess you’re in your late 20s, early 30s right?

      • jt

        below are the principle players/platoons at each position for the first 81 2013 Cubs games along with the OPS marks (in the form of xxx rather than 0.xxx) they earned at that time
        The 50 PA’s of Lillybridge/Gaonzalez at the beginning of the year are not included.
        At game 81 The Cubs were 35W/46L and with a poor bullpen were 9W/18L in one run games.
        1B Rizzo 787
        2B Barney 624
        SS Castro 598
        3B Valbuena 738; Ronson (97 PA’s) 944
        LF Soriano 724
        CF DeJesus 763; Sappelt/Borbon (195 PA’s) close to 550
        RF Schrieholtz 862; Hairston (112 PA’s) 597
        C Castillo 685; Navarro (111 PA’s) 891
        *
        You can project what ever numbers you want for the first 81 games in 2014.
        I believe that RF, LF and 1B will be about the same; there will be a decline at 3B; the other 4 positions will increase greatly.
        *
        I expect that they expect the players (or their replacements) to get better.

        • Kyle

          Did the last 81 games not count? Were they switched to exhibition games when I wasn’t paying attention?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Sure felt like exhibition games.

          • Jon

            Haha, that seriously has to be the dumbest argument/post I have seen in a while.

            “Let’s just toss the bad numbers aside!”

          • jt

            Essentially they were exhibition games.
            The round robin of Bogusevic/Lake and Sweeney was an audition.
            Batting Schierholtz against LHP was an audition.
            Playing Murphy was an audition
            How did McDonald get starts if they were not exhibitions?
            Do you really think they traded Garza to make room for Rusin?
            Arietta, Strop and Parker; do you really believe they had confidence in these guys?
            Rondon being given innings in Sept; do you think he earned them?
            Yeah, pay attention! You thought that was real MLB competition. You think they were really trying to win? C’mon
            First half Soriano and Barney were worse than they thought they would be. The RHH platoons they brought in just stunk up the joint.
            They screwed around with Castro and it didn’t work.
            Even with that it was the hole Marmol and Camp put them in that accounted for the 11 game differential in wins and losses.
            Yeah, they tanked the 2nd half and didn’t care.
            And, you know, most Cubs fans understood why.
            *
            As of this moment, without further changes during the winter, they are better than either the 2012 or the 2013 teams.

        • roz

          1) Why you’re only using the first 81 games, I have no idea. But it seems stupid.

          2) Use wOBA instead of OPS, it weights different outcomes much differently (and much better).

          • jt

            They traded Garza and Feldman soon after the half way mark. DDJ was hurt at that point or they would have traded him also. They couldn’t trade Soriano because he was really really bad for most of the first half. A couple of games before the half way mark he started hitting (7 hr in 10 games and 1000+ OPS in a 14 game period) that they were able to unload him for a half way decent RP’ing prospect.
            Around the 81 game mark was a turning point. It was a change in personnel and a change in attitude.
            Measures are either of state or stateless. A person’s height is stateless. It makes no difference how that person got that tall unless he grew 4 feet in a year. But the Dow is of state. In fact it is the change that is important to most investors. Change of state in BB stats can be a “barometer” of many things.
            *
            I don’t use a hammer to kill a mosquito. I don’t feel the need to use wOBA, for quick and dirty look-sees.

  • conysdad

    This is going to be room temperature stove offseason.

    • YourResidentJag

      Or possibly a snowy, cold and frigid offseason. :)

  • Jon

    I really don’t get the point of Theo second guessing the Jackson signing, (UNLESS THEY ARE REALLY BROKE). Shit, Jackson could in theory rebound this year and you could flip him for another asset this deadline and it’s still win.

    • Voice of Reason

      Jackson was God awful last year. Who wouldn’t second guess that signing?

      • Jon

        He was god awful if all you do is look at ERA

        (which is what I suspect you do)

        • Voice of Reason

          How would you rate Jackson’s performance last year?

          A, B, C, D or F?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            His performance or his results? Very different things. Performance was around a B (see where he ranked among starters in FIP/xFIP). Results were a D or worse.

            • CubFan Paul

              This is why i said C/C-

            • Voice of Reason

              A grade of a “B” would make him an above average starter in 2013. He was no where near average. At VERY best he was a “D”. And, even that is a stretch.

              You’re saying he performed as an above average starter in 2013….

              The Cubbie Kool Aid will kill you!

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                “A grade of a “B” would make him an above average starter in 2013. He was no where near average.”

                You are mistaken. You’re free to peruse at your leisure: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1841&position=P

                • Voice of Reason

                  If Jackson would have pitched to the tune of a “B” average for the season then why would Epstein even mention that he was questioning the signing?

                  • Voice of Reason

                    Epstein would have never mentioned Jackson if he didn’t think it was a horrible sign. He softened the blow by saying that “he questioned it”.

                    • Norm

                      I think you missed the part where it said Epstein was asked about the Jackson signing.

                      He answered it.

                    • BT

                      Do me a favor. Read what Epstein actually said, then read what Brett actually said, because you aren’t responding to either from what I can tell. Epsteins comments seem to refer to timing rather than performance, and Brett has repeatedly emphasized that Jacksons results have not coincided with his performance.

                • Norm

                  There is a giant lack of understanding when it comes to results vs. process.

                • baseballet

                  Fangraphs seems to show that out of 43 qualified NL pitchers, Edwin Jackson finished 29th in FIP, xFIP and WAR. Seems like that puts him below average to me, unless I’m sorting the stats wrong.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Below average in qualified starters is above average for all starters – “qualified” weeds out many of the ones who were too crappy to log enough innings. Think about it this way: with 15 teams in the NL, and 5 starters per team at any given time, that’s 75 starting pitchers. Jackson at 29th starts to look better, yes?

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Exactly and reinforcers the argument that W/L record for pitchers is a stupid evaluator.

                    • baseballet

                      That makes sense. Although there needs to be a cutoff somewhere in innings pitched to make the sample size valid. Otherwise you get weird results like some nobody who pitched 15 innings of one run ball at the top of the rankings…

                    • On The Farm

                      “Exactly and reinforcers the argument that W/L record for pitchers is a stupid evaluator.”

                      I might have missed something, but I am not sure where this came from, or what has to do anything with the Jackson discussion?

                    • baseballet

                      If you lower the minimum innings pitched to 130 to qualify, then you get a larger pool; Fangraphs registers 53 NL pitchers as qualifying. Under that innings minimum, EJax ranks 33 (out of 53) in FIP and xFIP, and 31 in WAR.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      I’m a little late to this party but if Jackson had a
                      .500 W/L pitchers this belief that he sucked would be quieter.

                    • On The Farm

                      “I’m a little late to this party but if Jackson had a
                      .500 W/L pitchers this belief that he sucked would be quieter.”

                      I don’t know about that. I think the only reason it would have been quieter if Jackson would have been .500 would be because his ERA would have been better. Dude posted a 4.98 ERA that is awful. I understand how good his FIP and xFIP were, – at least compared to the rest of the league- but I think it is the near 5 ERA that has people saying Jackson sucks.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      I would guess some good pitchers didn’t have enough starts either, though (new injury, return from DL, or just didn’t know how good they were going to be until they took over for someone else).

                    • davidalanu

                      I get what you’re saying, but when you sign a guy for $12mm per, shouldnt he be compared to other full time starters? And if so, isnt $12mm for the bottom half of that an overspend?

                      I get that his peripherals look better than his results, but I still think it’s a tough sell to say that he performed up to his contract past year.

              • bbmoney

                Again…depends on if you mean results or performance.

                Fangraphs had him at 2 WAR. Which is kind of the definition of an average starter in my book. Worth noting fangraphs bases its WAR entirely on peripherals. Baseballreference had him at -1.3 WAR which is based on runs allowed (i.e. results).

                So…..

          • CubFan Paul

            I saw all of Jackson’s starts last year and i’d easily give him a C/C-

            • Voice of Reason

              I just think Cubs fans need to raise the bar a bit.

              Look at his numbers. They are NO WHERE near average!

              • CubFan Paul

                “Look at his numbers”

                Watch all 162.

              • http://bleachernation ferris

                Ejaxx it was proven wors tcalls against..balls an strikes in the majors, no excuse he had a down yr as did most of the team….he still stayed healthy an ate innings…..an dont forget a cpl times he had to take one for the team bcuz the bp was overused…..

  • Craig

    Edwin Jackson to the Dodgers for Andre Either

    • Jon

      Please tell me your high

    • YourResidentJag

      Musical chairs?

  • When the Music’s Over

    This has been bandied about quite a bit in the past few months, but it’s complete bullshit that the Cubs claim they can’t afford to cross the $90-100M payroll threshold until new revenue streams come on board in 2015/2016 or beyond. I hope I’m wrong, but I consistently see this statement, in one form or another, being messaged by the Cubs front office.

    And when I say complete bullshit, that could go two ways.

    1) Some of the “rumored” reasons that might be the cause are completely true.
    2) Ricketts is loving using the rebuild as a convenient built in excuse to save some $$$ to put towards other endeavors, such as the stadium renovation.

  • David

    I hope Theo realizes if he doesn’t do anything this offseason, there will be NO fans at the games.

    • YourResidentJag

      He doesn’t care. He selling the hope that the younger fans will come back when the prospects come up in the next two years. 2014 could be a complete wash in ticket sales. The Cubs are hoping for a huge rebound in 2015 and 2016.

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        Are you implying only younger fans would leave in the first place? What’s your definition of younger? Younger than you?

        • YourResidentJag

          They’re appealing to younger generations of fans…it’s obvious. It’s a flawed premise. Confused repeatedly why people don’t get that and why people think younger fans have more disposable income than the older fan base? And yes certainly they’re younger than me…that kinda the idea here. So you don’t think 2014 will be a complete wash and they don’t expect a rebound of younger core of fans who will have an association and interest in young prospects???

          • dumbledoresacubsfan

            Oh no, I completely agree that the current Cubs Way appeals more directly to a younger fan base–hell, all the meaty stock in our farm system is the same age as the younger fans.

            I don’t think younger fans have more disposable income than the older fan base, but I do agree on the targeted audience. I just wanted to understand why you always bring up people’s ages–and I think it’s cause you’re old and incorrectly assume you provide wisdom.

            Will 2014 be a complete wash? Probably–at least as far as our record and competitiveness shows (but hey! top draft picks….). I just read your original comment as implying young Cubs fans will leave and come back when the wins start piling up–I don’t think that’s the case. The young fans will stay just as much as the old fans do–but yes, the Cubs will gain more young fans when the wins start coming. The Cubs will be the most bandwagon-ed team in the history of bandwagons when we start winning.

            • YourResidentJag

              Well, I’m 40. So, if you consider that OLD….

              I agree with the bandwagon thing. Exactly and spot on. I bring up people’s ages largely because of trends, especially trends with season ticket holders over the past couple of years. I got to say I kind of find it funny that you think of me as an old guy with outdated thoughts and yet seem to agree with me on the marketing of the Cubs targeted audience. If I’m so wrong, as you say, why are you agreeing with me at all? You seem like the type of individual who should be vehemently disagreeing with me but can come up with ways to do so. So, you back yourself into a pattern of ultimate general agreement.

              As for top draft picks, Theo’s alluded to the Cubs now firming establishing a base in the farm system so how much longer this type of thinking should go on..who knows?…unless that another illusion.

              • dumbledoresacubsfan

                Hahahaha–I hadn’t pegged you for a 40 year old–which, no, not old. That’s why I wondered about the mentioning of ages and the “calling outs” of people who you assume fall into the 20-30 age range.

                I don’t find you to be an old guy with outdated thoughts at all. I was just trying to play the same card on you that you’ve played on the “young guys” here with the whole, you must be in your late 20s thing. I don’t think you’re wrong at all–and never said you were. I simply asked you what you meant by “younger fans” and you inferred on your own terms that I was disagreeing with you. I never once said I disagreed with you, nor did I say your thoughts were old fashioned. I only made a comment to you about age to understand why you make comments on posters’ ages. haha

                • Fishin Phil

                  Bah! I have T-shirts older than both of you guys.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Well, just for the record, I don’t think you’re categorically wrong either. About marketing, the principle of having a solid farm system…or DEFINITELY bandwagon jumpers. I just see the season ticket holder trends as being one sign of the newer fanbase…not good or bad. I just wonder if sustainable with idea of discretionary income. This generational thing could very well be total misguided snark, yes. But at least, I’m willing to concede that.

    • Kyle

      Realizing isn’t an issue, but I’m not convinced he cares enough to change how he plans to operate.

      • jt

        I believe that your evaluation of the players they now have is flawed.
        I believe that your evaluation of the players they are likely to procure over the winter is flawed.

        • Kyle

          I believe that your evaluation of the players they have now involves picking whichever of a half-dozen different half-butted methods makes them look the best, and then if that’s not good enough just saying “Well, he could do X”.

          • jt

            Wood has done…
            Samardzija has done…
            Jackson has done…
            Castro has done…
            Schierholtz has done…
            Castillo has done…
            Rizzo has done…
            *
            Valbuena’s 0.708 OPS is not earth shattering but would be avg for a NL 2B
            Even Barney has continued to hit vs LHP (0.725 OPS in 2013).
            *
            That is 8 of the primary 13 postitions.
            *
            Sweeney has had 1674 career PA’s vs RHP and earned a 0.750 OPS for them.
            Yeah, they need a short side platoon guy with him. Like that would be expensive. They may even have one in house in Lake.
            That is 9 of the primary positions
            *
            They need two back of the rotation types. Yeah, like that would be expensive. They already have options in house.
            That is 11 of the 13 primary positions.
            *
            Iffy is 3B. But there are 2 guys trying to knock down the door to grab that spot.
            *
            Soriano got hot in the last 14 games he played for The Cubs. For the first half of the season he sucked. Bogusevic/Vitters probably outperform him for that portion of the year. I’ll concede Soriano to better for those 14 games
            *
            The bullpen is about 12 guys deep and they are looking for more.
            *
            This is before any moves are made over the winter.
            *
            They are in much better shape than either 2012 or 2013. Hell, they are in much much better shape than 2011.

        • Mike F

          What’s flawed? At the major league with a few exceptions it is a bag of shit. I mean come on. At the minor league level let’s be clear, Theo to his credit is their dampening expectations. Of course not all the magic 4 are going to make it. And while I think they are nice prospects and look pretty good 1 or more will fail and there is no can’t miss project there.

          That said, everyone, I mean everyone believes the core has to come through minor league development. The only argument is whether a major market team can act like Pittsburgh or Peoria and go on the 10 year plan. I don’t think Tom Ricketts signed up for that and don’t think Theo has lost his balls. Like all good GMs this time of year I believe very little out of his mouth.

          • jt

            BJ Upton 446 PA’s 0.557 OPS
            Dan Uggla 537 PA’s 0.671 OPS
            Andrelton Simmons 658 PA’s 0.692 OPS
            Paul Maholm 26 GS 4.41 ERA
            Tim Hudson 21 GS 3.97 ERA
            Brandon Beachy 5 GS 4.50 ERA
            Bullpen 460.6 IP 2.46 ERA
            Atlanta Braves 96 wins in 2013
            They had a few really good hitters, 3 good SP’ers and a great BP
            Not everybody on the team has to be an All Star.

  • bob

    Sign Josh Johnson still under 30 won’t cost u much

  • Eric

    He wasn’t definitive enough for the hipsters.

  • GoCubs

    IMHO, third year from the time Theo/Jed got hired, Cubs should be competing for playoff spot. If not, then something is amiss. Let’s see.

    • Mike F

      Absolutely and that is pretty much obvious to anyone but the extremes…. You got the 10 year plan ostriches and the nothing will satisfy them haters. Everyone gets evaluated and evaluation after 3 years comes. Hell it came after 2 for Dale and losing whether it is unfulfilled WAR on so called core or just plain losing came indeed.

    • Jono

      Their first impact prospects haven’t event made it to Iowa yet. Theyre building a farm system from scratch. Building a team with long, expensive contracts is proven to be a bad idea. The cards and red sox already had strong farm systems to pull from. Id think that people would want to follow their models of success, meaning building a foundation of homegrown players (or players acquired from trading homegrown). But to do that, you have to build that foundation. Building the house with no foundation doesn’t end well

      • jt

        Baez, C. Villanueava, Alcantera and Hendricks will be at Iowa in 2014.
        Bryant will be there mid-season 2014
        Johnson may get there 2014.
        *
        There are some wild cards:
        Vitters, Cabrera and Rosscup in particular.

        • cub2014

          jt, jono is talking about top prospects not making it
          to Iowa. Secondary prospects like Lake and this year
          Rosscup & Vitters have and will make it to Chicago.

        • Jono

          Baez hasn’t made it to Iowa yet, neither has alcantara. None of the other guys are considered impact prospects. Hendricks and Olt might be good, but they’re not in the same category with baez, bryant, Almora, soler, maybe edwards

          • jt

            got ya! sorry
            Not so sure that C. Villanueva shouldn’t be considered an impact player.
            Hendricks keeps getting batters out and limits runs while getting his innings in.
            we shall see!

      • Kyle

        Baseball teams still aren’t houses

        • Jono

          Haha

        • DarthHater

          Then, Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

          And the disciples came unto Jesus and said: “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Jesus? the kingdom of heaven ain’t no mustard seed!

          • miggy80

            [img]http://i.huffpost.com/gen/239748/thumbs/s-ARSENIO-large.jpg[/img]

          • Jono

            But that first thing isn’t the second thing…..derrrr…..

      • GoCubs

        Large market team…They can build the farm and build a competitive team at MLB. It is fair to expect this.

        • Jono

          Building through free agency without a sound farm system isn’t a good idea even for big market teams.

          • CubFan Paul

            “Building through free agency without a sound farm system isn’t a good idea even for big market teams”

            Biggest Myth ever.

            • Jono

              “Biggest myth ever”

              The biggest myth ever

            • cub2014

              CF Paul,
              they arent mutually exclusive, you can do
              both. but if the cubs didnt tank the last 2 years
              we wouldnt have: almora,bryant,edwards,
              johnson and the #3 pick this year. so it depends
              on what you want.

              but i think 3 straight years is enough of the
              suffering, let take this offseason and build
              towards the playoffs. we can do that and still
              fit into the “plan”.

              • Kyle

                We’d still have Almora. And it’s the No. 4 pick this year.

                • cub2014

                  ya #4 pick my bad,

                • caryatid62

                  We’d also very possibly have Edwards.

  • Frank

    I feel so much better knowing that 2014 and maybe beyond is going to suck. Now I can stock up on some anti-psychotic medication to hold me over till 2020.

  • Tim

    Has Matt kemp been rumored to the cubs at all? Only 29 years old, buy low candidate. Maybe the cubs could throw in some cash to decrease the prospect return

    • Jon

      In what world is Matt Kemp a buy low candidate?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        The world where he’s played 179 games over the last two years, hit just .270/.328/.395 last year, and is set to make $21 or $21.5 million each of the next six seasons. The only kind of “buy” he is right now is “buy low.”

        • Jon

          The Dodgers aren’t giving him away.

          • Norm

            Then I guess they’ll be keeping him.

        • hansman

          He did an insane job of cashing in on a career year.

          • YourResidentJag

            Yes, he sure did.

          • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

            An MVP* year none the less.

        • Mike F

          Kemp is a guy to keep an eye on. He’s going to get traded for very little and they will pick up some of the salary. I agree he’s worth a thought or two, but I just wonder where he would fit, I guess he could be a CF until Almora arrives. The problem is I don’t know they see the two young prospect OF and if they will be in on Ellsbury, but Kemp is going and he’s interesting depending on how much the Dodger’s pick up of his salary.

    • Norm

      Throw in cash on TOP of the 6 year, $128M contract he has left?

  • Moises Canchola

    I like everything epstein has to say for a change. He talks about saving up to fix the system and then going to get key guys well the minor league system is in the top five in baseball so yes i agree with him that they shouldnt trade key prospects in order to get one guy but they do need to start signing key free agents now so that we can have them for the future. Im not saying sign 8 guys but 2-3 key guys that we know will be at their best in a year or 2 a ellsbury or choo. Then really go after Tanaka, there is No reason why they cant get him 25 Ace that will have many years left im his prime, just foolish if he isnt a Cub. If none of this happens and Epstein doesnt do any of what he said then you kmow you cant trust him on his word. I really expect the cubs to be relevent again by 2015

    • mjhurdle

      “Then really go after Tanaka, there is No reason why they cant get him”

      The Yankees *might* have 130 + million reasons (bid + contract) why the Cubs can’t get him.

    • Jono

      No reason why they can’t get Tanaka? Seriously?

      People seem to use the term “key free agent” as a synonym for “any free agent”. There may not be the right free agent available this off season. Signing 2-3 guys impact free agents would be considered kind off a splurge

      • Jono

        Hart might be that kind of key player right for the team to sign right now

        • Jon

          Don’t switch the blade on the guy in shades; oh no
          Don’t masquerade with the guy in shades;
          (oh no) (I can’t believe it)

          • Jono

            ?

            • Fishin Phil

              He wears his sunglasses at night.

              Not sure what that has to do with anything though.

              • Jono

                Oohhh. Well, now I hope they give him 7 years with a no trade clause

        • cub2014

          I like Hart but why spend the money.
          If they arent going after a stud in the
          OF (like Choo and Gonzalez) then I
          say lets see what we have in Lake,
          Sweeney Bogusevic & Vitters.

          • Jono

            Short, cheap contract that he may out perform

          • Bwa

            Because that outfield is really horrible

      • Moises Canchola

        Tanaka is the right free agent. 25 years old was 24-0 last year with an era under 2, he def is worth 130 million. We gave jackson a fifty million plus deal only to lose 18 games but we cant try and get this young guy thats crazy.

        • Kyle

          We can try, but the Yankees and Dodgers are going to try to spend more on him alone than our entire baseball budget

  • Blackhawks1963

    Theo is clearly and repeatedly setting the expectation that it is going to be a quiet offseason. Other than maybe trading Samardzija for a blue chip mix of prospects.

    2014 is going to be about getting incremental improvements from existing core players (eg, Rizzo) and waiting upon the graduation of key prospects (in 2014 that probably means Baez, Bryant, Vizcaino, Hendricks).

    • caryatid62

      As far as graduation of prospects, Baez and Hendricks are certainly possible, Vizcaino is not (due to injury), and Bryant is doubtful.

      They’re hoping for incremental improvements. Unfortunately, there is a definite possibility that this might not happen.

      • Blublud

        Vizcaino is no longer injured and will have an opportunity to contribute this year.

        • Reality Check

          vizcaino has not pitched in 2 years; we’ll be lucky if he finds the pitchers mound in spring training. he’ll need the whole summer to prove he can not walk everyone and prove healthy in AA or AAA ball; at best a september call-up. 2 years is a long time not to pitch. especially someone so young who doesn’t have that much experience to begin with.

          • Blublud

            Vizcaino is already a MLB player. Unless I’m mistaken, and I’m sure I’m not, he got hurt playing in the bigs, not the minors. He will more then likely start the year at AAA, and at some point in the season, will get the call to come to Chicago, if he pitches well enough. He is no longer an injured player. He pitched in Arizona this offseason.

          • cub2014

            his success in the minors has been
            pretty mediocre, so I agree I think he
            would start in AAA for a couple of
            reasons. One being they actually will have
            a good bullpen to start 2014. The other is
            he only has a few innings above AA. But
            if he has success there than he will be up
            pretty quickly.

        • aaronb

          I’m counting on him and Angel Guzman anchoring the Cubs pen this year.

  • Jeff

    Prediction: David Price will be traded to the Atlanta Braves. He’s from Murfreesboro, TN, grew up a Braves fan and they have the money, sans Hudson and Malholm to sign him to an extension and they have prospects to trade for him. I bet they make a big push for him.

    I `don’t really understand Theo and the plan, this latest revelation makes no sense at all other to interpret that Ricketts is not willing to spend on the team.

    After re-signing all our arbitration eligible players, we will be sitting at 70M in payroll. If all the ad is a 1M or 2M player, I will be extremely disappointed in the off season activity.

    They have the payroll flexibility on their side, they should be signing a few pitchers to flip at the trade deadline, Baker, Johnson, Fieldman or any other pitcher who would have some trade value.

    If you look at the construction of this team, we have gutted it and there is no one other than Starlin Castro, Shark or maybe Travis Wood worth moving in a deadline trade. I mention T. Wood and I bet a bunch will say, you can’t trade him, he’s our best pitcher.

    Things are looking awful bleak on the rebuild, Theo needs to step up and ad some players.

    I’m not expecting much, like I’ve said before, 5 years from now we will barely be a .500 team.

    The only thing Tom Ricketts cares about is revenues in to pay off his toy his daddy let him buy, concern about the team winning is secondary.

    In the MLB today, you don’t have to win to make money :(

    • Jon

      The Braves system is fucking garbage. The Cubs could make their big 4 off limits and still beat the braves in a trade for Price.

      • Jeff

        You are delusional, there is no way the Rays would trade Price to us without us including a top tier prospect. You really believe that we could beat other teams by offering inferior prospects.

        Get real!!!

        • Jon

          Lucas Simms is the Braves top prospect and 92 on the top 100 list according to this one

          http://www.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2013/

          The same one that places 5 cubs in the top 100, yes the Cubs could blow the Braves out of the water on trade for Price if they wanted to.

        • roz

          “there is no way the Rays would trade Price to us without us including a top tier prospect.”

          That’s technically not what he said. He just said that we could put together a better package than the Braves that doesn’t include any of the Big 4.

      • Blackhawks1963

        With all due respect you (and others) aren’t listening. It is extremely doubtful the Cubs are going after Price or any other substantial trade chip. Right or wrong.

      • Moises Canchola

        The braves system is garbage but they are trying to win it all now. There has to be a fine line between prospects and the mlb roster, like i said before tge cubs had the worst minor leagues during 2003-2010 but we were trying to win it all and if they had done so no one wouldve given a crap but now our prospects are in top five but are team is in the bottom 5 we need to balance out pretty good prospects that can help us win with a pretty good team that could win every year. Can go to the extreme one way or the other. And I have to agree with Jeff all Ricketts wants is money we wouldve been better off with an owner who really does care about the team and winning

    • bbmoney

      I’m not sure the Braves have the goods in the minors to make a serious run at Price. Unless they want to include some of their young arms already in the MLB.

      I also don’t think getting a 5-6M Maholm and a 9M Hudson off the books really frees them up financially where they can now offer Price a 175M extension when they wouldn’t have been able to before.

      I also think you’re quite pessimistic about the Cubs 5 year outlook. But most people probably think I’m busy drinking Kool-aid.

      • Jeff

        The Braves are in my back yard, they always have a funny way of making a big trade when you think they don’t stand a chance.

        Given today’s announcement of them getting a new stadium in 2017 will probably increase the revenues that they will look to spend and based on how they have ended the last two post season’s, a desire to add a TOR pitcher will push them to deal.

        I’m not pessimistic about the 5 year outlook, I’m realistic. You like most people on here, are overly optimistic that in 2015 or 2016 we will magically be contending for a playoff birth.

  • Aaron

    Brett…the Cubs are not a feared team at Wrigley Field.

    The Cubs haven’t won a National League pennant since 1945. Their only World Series championships, in 1907 and 1908, took place before Wrigley Field existed. When they have played at home in the postseason, their record is an awful 7-20.

    How can we make Wrigley Field have any kind of home-field advantage?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      More night games would be a start.

  • Aaron

    Any more ideas?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Left-handed power hitters do well at Wrigley, but, beyond that, there aren’t a lot of sure things, thanks to the duality of Wrigley.

      • Mike F

        Yeah and so do right handed, but yes that is true, it is pretty unique. I think increased night games helps to some extent, but nothing can help the fickle fate of the proximity to the lake….

  • Sean

    Hey Brett just curious, when are you and Sahadev going to come out with a new podcast? I’m sure your both very busy but just wondering. Really enjoy them

  • Aaron

    I formulate a roster that includes two “different” teams…one for cold weather/wind blowing in at Wrigley and another one full of sluggers that can hit the ball out of the park. The 1984, 1989 and 2003 teams maybe offer some insight in a strategy, but note that these teams did not do well in the postseason at Wrigley.

  • Mike F

    See this where the bullshit kinds of get too much. Ricketts just doesn’t seem to be the evil myth of so many here want to make him. If he were and it were just money he could easily save himself 500M by telling them to bring the wrecking balls in in 2017 and doing exactly what the Braves did with the move to Cobb County.

    I think it is far more complicated. If anyone fails it will be Theo. If I’m wrong and he’s not dissembling, his ramblings to the media are often contradictory and sure to me appear to be the clear indication of a guy burnt out. I would be far more worried Theo is burnt out than Ricketts the spawn of Satan, but goodness no one has even seen the start of FA and trading and already you have the sky is falling crowd pitted with the we must punish ourselves unit the magical 2016 season which has now increasingly been postponed to so time in the future.

    The extremes are getting patently absurd. And one consistent honest force will be bringing this all into focus. The market, whether it is Ricketts, Theo or the media rest assured the market will not tolerate endless losing from this or any major market team.

  • YourResidentJag
    • MightyBear

      I would love to see the Cubs get Porcello. I would love to see them get Scherzer but I don’t think that will happen. Porcello is the more probable acquisition.

      • YourResidentJag

        I think so…I just think that what it might take to get him won’t appeal to the “wait until 2018 crowd”. Especially, what I think the Cubs should do to get him?

  • MightyBear

    Here’s an interesting question. I’m not saying the Cubs will do either but would you rather spend 120 million on Ellsbury for 6 years or 130 million for Tanaka for 5 years? (Those are spitball figures based on what I’ve read) Thoughts?

    • Norm

      Tanaka.

    • Fishin Phil

      I would have to go with Tanaka. I expect the decline in Ellsbury’s production over the next 6 years to be pretty significant.

      • MightyBear

        Yes but how sure are you of Tanaka’s ability over the next 5 years. Ellsbury is a proven commodity with World Series/playoff experience and a character guy. Tanaka is unproven with a 95 mph fastball.

        • Jon

          Elsbury has “proven” that he’ll probably be hurt next year.

          • MightyBear

            Tanaka probably will be too if the Cubs sign him.

        • Patrick W.

          Only one thing of the four things you said about those two players is a quantifiable thing. When in doubt, bet on the thing you can measure.

        • Fishin Phil

          I’m not sure of Tanaka’s ability. And his arm could fall off during the first year, but if it were my monopoly money, that is which way I would bet.

    • Professor Snarks

      Age and positional need, points to Tanaka. (not that we couldn’t use Elsbury’s skill set).

  • ssckelley

    “Epstein suggested to Carrie Muskat that the front office is not looking to grab a bunch of pitchers to flip at the deadline in 2014 this offseason, and instead are looking for pieces for the future.”

    I am a little confused by this. Does this mean we find another Feldman type but keep him no matter what or sign him to a longer contract? Or they going to open up the wallets?

    • cub2014

      skelley, I took from theo that they are willing
      to sign top FA but not trade top prospects
      for big contracts. One adds talent and keeps
      prospects the other adds talent and takes away
      future potential. In other words yes to Tanaka
      and no to Price.

  • Die hard

    Reading between the lines of his forehead Sharks agent given green light to contact other teams cause Cubs won’t overspend to keep him

  • silentT

    With the rebuild taking longer than expected and reality check in the mirror reminding us that that at least some* of our prospects will flame out, wouldn’t it behoove the FO to at least try and nab one of the big FA fish out there this offseason? Rationale being that hopefully this is the last (more than likely second to last) offseason following a 90+ loss season in which the Cubs have a protected first-round draft pick.

    The Indians were going nowhere fast last season but signed Michael Bourn to a lower than expected contract (draft pick compensation attached) and only losing a second round pick while essentially gaining talent otherwise in another year that would have costed them a first round pick.

  • anonymous-ly

    Theo is playing mind games with the Yankees and Dodgers by creating a false impression that he will not make a heavy bid and will at the last minute “attempt” to swoop in with the winning bid.

    You heard it here first, the FO will calculate what the MAXIMUM they feel Tanaka is worth over 6 years in this market and bid slightly above that. That means if they feel Tanaka is worth $25 Million a year, they will bid probably $80-90 Million, leaving them enough to sign Tanaka for six years.

    • CubFan Paul

      “they will bid probably $80-90 Million”

      Where will that money come from? There’s enough committed to the 2014 payroll to where it’s not coming out of that, so…

      • CubFan Paul

        Bueller? Bueller?

  • Chicagox77

    It’s hard to believe anything Theo says. In order save a game, you must be in the game. How do you do this without any table setters in your line-up, hitters that can hit for a high average and true RBI and home run hitters!

    When do Theo hire coaches that can teach the players about Sabermetrics?

  • N.J. Riv

    MLBTR reports the the Cubs and Giants could be trade partners because the Giant’s have plenty of Catching depth. I don’t know how I feel about that, because the only catcher SF has not named Posey is Susac and he reminds me a lot of Wellington Castillo.

  • macpete22

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