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San_diego_padres_logoThe rumors yesterday had free agent starter Josh Johnson telling the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres that he preferred to sign with them, and had the Giants as the favorite. But late last night, Johnson reportedly agreed to terms with the Padres on a one-year, $8 million deal, which includes up to $1.25 million in incentives if he starts 26 games, and a $4 million club option for 2015 if he starts fewer than 7 games.

The Cubs were briefly connected to Johnson, which made sense given that everyone knew he would sign this kind of low-risk, short-term contract. Johnson is coming off of a terrible year in Toronto, which ended with elbow surgery (bone spurs), and he is clearly looking to rebuild his value. For him, that meant a deal in a pitcher-friendly park like San Diego, which is also close to his home in Las Vegas. To the extent the Cubs were interested, they may not have ever had a real chance.

With the Padres, Johnson gets the additional benefit of possibly being dealt midseason, untying him to draft pick compensation after 2014 if he pitches well enough to earn a big-time contract. The Padres have a number of young arms, some of whom are coming back from surgery, and could be ready to emerge by midseason even if the Padres are surprisingly competitive.

It’s a good deal for both sides, and one that makes a great deal of sense for both sides.

The Cubs remain in the market for at least one starting pitcher, though – outside of Masahiro Tanaka – it remains unclear if they’ll go for an Ubaldo Jimenez type or a Scott Baker type. For me, Phil Hughes still makes a whole lot of sense (and he has likely lost two presumably preferred pillow contract spots in San Francisco and San Diego) on a short-term deal. If the Cubs don’t deal any pitchers this offseason, they figure to go into 2014 with a front four of Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta, with Chris Rusin or Carlos Villanueva the presumed fifth starter if no one is added.

  • Deacon

    Wow, that contract certainly seems like something the Cubs could have afforded. Oh wait, the business plan doesn’t match the baseball plan. Sorry, what was I thinking?

    • Eric

      Why are you ignoring the fact that Josh Johnson preferred to play on the west coast? Didn’t fit your narrative, did it?

      • MichiganGoat

        When finding something to complain about is the narrative there are so many options.

      • terencemann

        I think every pitcher in baseball would be happier at Petco than at Wrigley.

        • CubsFaninMS

          Just like every surfer would prefer surfing waves off the coast of Mississippi instead of Hawai’i and every college football team would prefer playing weak opponents.

    • MichiganGoat

      Man do some reading before you start complaining, he wanted to play for SD or SF not Chicago and SD offered him a contract. We were never part of his plan. Of course if we signed I’m guessing you complain about signing another injured player. Must be easy to find something to complain about when regardless of the choice negativity is your plan.

      • greenroom

        Damn facts. Sheesh

    • Jason P

      Stop crying.

      • Fishin Phil

        There is no crying in baseball.

  • Brains

    Too expensive for Jed, and he wasn’t on the waiver line. But seriously, Johnson is a bad sign and he’s going to have a bad year. I think $8m is way too much for him. He might get it back together again due to his age, but it wont be this year while he transitions back to health.

  • Spoda17

    I woke up today and I had to go to work… DAMN YOU THEO AND JED… you guys are even effen up my life!!!

  • Polar Bear

    I used to find humor in the trading of barbs when reading the comments section. Now, I’ve grown so tired of all the neigh-sayers and constant trolling that I barely take the time to read what people are typing. Conversations that involve an intelligent exchange of rational thoughts use to be the norm, but now we are consumed with people who type just to see their names on the screen. Brett…Can you (as the front office) trade some of these people for younger, fresher readers? That would be an awesome offseason move.

    • Brains

      i think the ceiling fell out when the team stopped operating in good faith. how can we talk about possible ways to improve the team when we’ve stated that we refused to improve the team for at least another 2-3 years (when rookies are ready and there are new revenue streams…….maybe). people just started having fun instead.

      • Polar Bear

        I wouldn’t call it fun. It’s almost childish… disrespectful even. People that come to this site need to remember one very important thing, we’re on here because we favor this site over others. Therefore, we are the community that populates it and, to a certain degree, we represent what Brett. How do we think others view this site and legitimacy of it if it’s filed with trolls? I, for one, would love to see Brett get done recognition for his work and be able to get granted more access into the Cubs organizational stuff. It won’t happen if they think he’s cultivating a troll garden. People need to be more mindful in regards to the comments. Otherwise, why not just go comment somewhere else and stop wasting time on a respectful site.

        • Sandberg

          Trolling aside, it’s legitimate to criticise the front office and/or ownership for the disaster that is the big league club. This criticism and the rebuttals are what makes this a great site, not always putting on a happy face and dancing through the rainbows.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Criticizing and discussing the plans/moves/decisions/words of the front office and ownership are one thing, and are totally welcomed as fair game.

            Incessant, off-point, over-the-top, mindless venom spewing, on the other hand? It’s embarrassing and useless.

            • Sandberg

              Agreed. That’s why I said trolling aside.

              • MichiganGoat

                The key is to have an actual discussion and allow others to challenge the opinions of you and not become aggressive and refusing to listen. That what we are seeing more of around here- “I have an opinion and F**K you if you don’t agree with me.”

                btw this is not directed at you just the overall problem we’ve had on here, too much complaining and a need to be right vs discussing.

                • Brains

                  as usual, goat and i agree. i make a mix of hyperbolic, rhetorical, and critical claims depending on the context, but i always leave myself open for the same tenor of response. and i eat my shit when it’s served. that’s part of the fun. but that’s not all i do. it just happens to be the only thing people notice and i need attention!

                  • Jim L

                    Stop patting yourself on the back, you’re the main troll and have nothing to offer in way of interesting or critical analysis or comments.

                    • Brains

                      just for the record, i rule

            • When the Music’s Over

              Alot of the constant shit spewing is yet another byproduct of this prolonged and to some seemingly dishonest rebuild. If anyone is to blame, it’s the Cubs. They’ve allowed the snakes to come out from the dark corners.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I think that any time a team is bad for a long time – whatever the reason or surrounding circumstances – there will be more unrest. It’s just obvious.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Stupid interweb

                • When the Music’s Over

                  Not sure if that was a knock at me or not, but if so, I was simply pointing out that if people are complaining about trolling, point those complaints at the Cubs, not at the posters. Trolling sucks, but what are you going to do to stop it when the main cause of it is completely out of your control. If anything, complaining about it gives it credence and generates more of it.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    I’m not sure how that could be read as a knock at you, but it wasn’t. Just a broad point.

                    • When the Music’s Over

                      Sorry, didn’t know if you were calling me captain obvious

                • praying the cubs get ready to win

                  But us Cub Fans should be seeing so many of the positives the front office is doing regarding our future. The team always has to take a step back before it goes forward. Our minors are significantly improved and a few free agents will vastly improve our majors but until some of the young kids are ready, our major league team whether it is better and we finish 3rd or 4th or 5th does it really make that big of a difference. If we finished 3rd or 4th we don’t get Bryant and so much of our future is built on Bryant and his fellow minor leaguers. Heck, we all can see in a few years so many of these kids we have been talking about on the field and we all will be rooting like crazy for them.

                  • Brains

                    i agree with this too, as i’ve said the past couple days. my thought changed about it a couple weeks ago. i think Theo was screwed and was sold a shanty town as a city. no way he wants things to go like this. it makes no sense. along the way he’s done an A+ job building the minors, because that’s all he’s really had a chance to genuinely work on. i still think Jed has done an awful job finding opportunities in a bad situation. really awful.

        • MichiganGoat

          Agreed and I miss the days good deep conversation and debate was happening on here, I’ve been able to block a decent amount of the bullshit comments on here but they are so common it’s detracts from meaningful interaction. When good discussion is possible it quickly turns into childish arguments and as much as I try to avoid them I often find myself engaging adolescent trolls that just are here to complain and argue. Sadly I’m realizing that this is the internet and especially what happens during losing seasons. What’s more frustrating is there is plenty to discuss with intelligence but less and less quality posters are commenting. Hopefully we are at the lowest point and things will start to change, we just have to block and ignore the worthless troll posters.

        • ssckelley

          Show me a message board or forum that is not filled with trolls. There are a great group of posters here that are knowledgeable and offer different opinions, a couple even have their own blogs. If you cannot pick and choose what you want to respond to and what to ignore then online message boards are not for you.

          • Brains

            well, look if the answer to any possible scenario is “no the owners wont pay for that, even though the team needs it”, then we’re just playing fantasy baseball. and some people actually care if the team actually wins.

            the tone is set by the situation, not the posters. we can falsely individuate blame here on frustrated people, but it’s not like they’ve done a good job and we’re splitting hairs. this is the worst rebuild in the history of baseball.

            • Mick

              Calling this the worst rebuild in the history of baseball is borderline trolling. That’s just an outrageous statement with zero facts, comparables, or justification to back it up. I believe this is the type of stuff Polar Bear was referring to in his frustrated post.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                It’s precisely the kind of comment we can do without. As I said, “incessant, off-point, over-the-top, mindless venom spewing, on the other hand? It’s embarrassing and useless.”

                My patience, like that of any human being, ebbs and flows. I’m not feeling too much more patient these days.

                And I’m tired of warning you, specifically, Brains.

                • DarthHater

                  Brett, you are clearly the most impatient, authoritarian message board moderator in the history of blogs. :-P

                • MichiganGoat

                  Ah so that the name of the poster I’ve been able to block- glad to see he’s still up to his stupid trolling ways.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I don’t think younger would be the way to go if you want to get rid of trolling. That tends to be more of a younger generation thing, No?

      • Polar Bear

        I was using the metaphor of trying to structure a team with new and better talent. Trust me…I know some trolls that are well over the age of being considered young.

    • greenroom

      +1

  • greenroom

    I simply wish JJ good luck. Hope somehow he finds his old skills. The guy was so dominant a few years ago. And given he wanted to be on the West coast…more power to him.

    Peace-

  • BD

    I would prefer if Arrieta were considered the fifth starter going into next year, so I hope they add someone who would at least go ahead of him. If we’re not going for any of the bigger priced guys (barring a surprise win for Tanaka), my preference would be Kazmir.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Josh Johnson wanted to pitch in California. More power to him. Bud Black and a big ballpark will be good to his focus on reestablishing himself as a pitcher.

    A BIG no thanks to Phil Hughes. He is a classic flyball pitcher, who when he gets hit gets hit VERY hard. He would be a disaster at Wrigley.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Travis Wood was a classic flyball pitcher until he came to the Cubs and Chris Bosio.

  • Kyle

    That’s the first contract of the offseason to come in under what I would have guessed. I wonder if that’s just because he wanted to play on the West Coast.

    With him and Murphy gone, the supply of interesting, short-term bargain players is dwindling.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think he probably could have gotten a little more if he’d been willing to go anywhere.

      • Blackhawks1963

        Smart move by Johnson. Bud Black is a great pitching mind and Petco is a big ballpark for him to work thru his recovery and such. A sacrifice of a million or two might be a very small price to pay in the short-term in order to have best chance for ascending back up the food chain of frontline starting pitchers and receiving an ultimate monster payday.

        • MightyBear

          Definitely agree with this analysis. Spot on. I said the same thing about Hughes. That he should take a 1 year deal with San Diego and then cash in after a monster year. Johnson beat Hughes to the punch and its a great move for him.

      • ssckelley

        I agree, he is still one season removed from a decent year in Miami and is only going to be 30 in January. I love this deal and to bad he did not want to come to Chicago, this is a type of contract where he is gambling on himself to return to form and get that big contract next off season.

      • Isaac

        Definitely feels like a strategic signing on his part. That being said, I am happy the Cubs avoided him. $8mil is too much to risk for a rehab/flip possibility.

        • Fishin Phil

          Yup, if I was a pitcher trying to re-establish my value, I’d sure want to pitch in Petco as often as possible.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I think Ellsbury will be the first big domino to fall. I still insist a desperate Seattle team will be his ultimate landing spot. They are in dire need of making a big splash and have multiple needs on offense. Plus Ellsbury is a Washington state native and the Mariners are flush with a lot of cash.

    • YourResidentJag

      I think it’s Choo. Texas will be aggressive this offseason and they have the money to spent. Their sights are set on signing Choo.

  • Nate

    There’s a lot of talk about Tanaka and another starting pitcher but I don’t see it without a trade. Shark and Wood are in, Jackson is a must (with his contract what are you gonna do?) and the FO seems intent on seeing what Arrieta can do (which I’m all for). For depth you have Grimm, Villanueva, Rusin and Raley. Plus Hendricks will likely get a call at some point. Any of those five could make the staff out ST and I, for one, would like to see as many get the chance as possible. We need youth to come through not two year deals.

    • Blackhawks1963

      I think it is clear the Cubs will make minimal moves this offseason. A combination of Theo dealing with financial handcuffs and a philosophy of not deviating much from the “no shortcuts” building strategy.

      So if we were to talk right now?

      Rotation: Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Arrieta, Rusin…with Grimm and Hendricks invariably in the mix…overall, this is not an inspiring rotation

      Pen: Strop, Russell, Parker and a bunch of question marks….overall, shaping up to be another giant weakness

      Outfield: Schierholtz, Lake, Sweeney, Bogusevic…overall, part-time outfielder types trying to resemble a big league outfield which is recipe for a lousy offensive lineup all over again

      Infield: Valbuena, Barney, Castro, Rizzo….a ton of weight rests on the shoulders of Castro and Rizzo while Valbuena and Barney remain as utility infielders being forced into starting duty

      Catcher: Castillo…who I’m mildly interested in

      The PLAN….patiently wait until Baez, Bryant and maybe Alcantara, Hendricks and Vizcaino arrive on the major league shores at some point in 2014.

      The RESULT…we will be a 95 loss team.

      The FUTURE…I’m still solidly behind “the PLAN.”

      • MichiganGoat

        I’m not buying a 95 loss team, the previous season were hampered by extreme sell offs at the deadline and unless we sign more flipable pieces I doubt we will have a dramatic sell off. The rotation looks better than we might think if we don’t trade Shark and the bullpen is Marmolless which will help at the start. If we add a few pieces and the regression of Castro stops we might be better than we think.

        • When the Music’s Over

          Like last year, I’m trying to figure out where the offensive will come from this year.

          • MichiganGoat

            Oh I agree it’s not looking pretty but without another sell off 95 losses is tough.

            • YourResidentJag

              Couldn’t disagree more. I see more like 100-110 losses from this team and a #1 pick in next year’s draft. We have no 4 or 5 hitters in the lineup.

              • Edwin

                Technically we do, they’re just not very good hitters.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Umm…I suppose.

              • hansman

                This team as it is assembled right now? Correct, it is a 105 loss team. This is the same team that went 17-38 after the deadline which would have put them on pace to win 50 games in a season. (which was better than they did the year prior)

                • YourResidentJag

                  I think you miscalculate the regression that is going to occur with certain players. Also, I suppose this is just me talking but I don’t know who we will trade. If it’s Jackson and Shark, those could be big. I hardly think you can judge things based on last season. Seasons are independent of each other. I, for one, would be ok with a #1 pick in next year’s draft. Why not?

                  • hansman

                    I was simply using a negative view of the team as it stands now.

                    If we are clearly out of the playoffs next year? Yes, I hope they, then, shoot for the #1 draft pick.

                    Them shooting for the #1 draft pick right now? God, I hope not. I expect them to build a team that could be competative if 4-5 things go right but when those things don’t go right they blow it up.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Them shooting for the #1 draft pick right now? God, I hope not. I expect them to build a team that could be competative if 4-5 things go right but when those things don’t go right they blow it up.

                      Why? No team in MLB has as bleak of a future for the 2014 season as the Cubs. That includes the Padres (where players would want to sign especially SP) and even the Astros. So, you’re a fan of the meddling approach great. 4-5 things to be competitive (what a .500 team) is asking a lot. I’d rather sign Cano if that’s what being competitive to you means.

                  • jt

                    the regress to the mean for Barney, Jackson and Castro would be a real good thing.
                    If Sweeney’s regress to the mean involved a 0.750 OPS vs RHP that would be another good thing.
                    If Schierholtz is again used as the strong side of a RF platoon then regression to his mean vs RHP would yield a 0.750 OPS.
                    Castillo, Shark, Rizzo, Arietta, Lake, Olt and most of the BP don’t have much of a sample from which their mean has been established. Therefore regression doesn’t carry much meaning for them.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      I suppose if you buy regression to the mean thing. It’s certainly possible but we don’t know how many of them will be on next year’s team.

              • Brains

                i agree, the team as currently stands and projected is a borderline 100-lost team. and next year’s free agent crop is worse. so if we don’t stock a couple strong players now this will *literally*, not hyperbolically, end up be the worst franchise record ever held by a GM by the end of Theo’s contract, probably never to be broken.

        • cub2014

          If the Cubs dont spend (Tanaka, Choo
          or Ellsbury, someone like Kazmir) then they
          will probably lose 90 games. If they arent
          going to go for these guys then you might
          as well flip your assets, right?

        • Kyle

          Samardzija, Castillo, Jackson, Schierholtz, Fujikawa, Castro. There’s still plenty of room to sell off between now and July 31.

          I won’t predict 95 losses because few if any teams are ever that bad on paper. You need a bad team plus bad luck/variance to get that far down. But on paper, I expect 2014 to look worse than 2013 did and probably be in line for 88+ losses.

          • MichiganGoat

            That’s really my point predicting 95 losses at the start of the season is way too pessimistic. A healthy team of what we have won’t lose 95 without some serious negative regressions through injury or trades.

          • MightyBear

            I don’t expect a selloff this year like the past two.

            • Coop

              I think we will be looking to sell select pieces, but probably not a wholesale selloff trying to flip every conceivable piece for prospects.

            • Rebuilding

              Out of curiosity – why is that? Most of the pieces we will be shopping wont be here when we are good anyway. I think Schierholtz will definitely be gone if he starts halfway decently. I think Samardzija will likely be gone unless his demands for an extension start to match up with actual performance. Jackson would likely be dealt if you had any hope of someone taking that contract. Any of the outfielders, Barney and Valbuena would likely be dealt if we got anything useful in return. No, I think we should be and will be flipping

              • YourResidentJag

                And the flipping should start this offseason with some trades occurring mid-season next year.

            • hansman

              I expect a sell-off of players not under contract for the following year any time the Cubs are not in the playoff race.

              • jt

                Shark, Wood, Jackson, Castillo, Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Sweeney, Olt, Valbuena, Vitters and Lake are under team control for at least 2 years. So the players not under contract will be Schierholtz, Murphy and the backup catcher.
                I think they may get something for Schierholtz but I’m not sure if Murphy or the backup catcher will bring much.

        • ssckelley

          I agree, had the Cubs had a better bullpen at the start of this year it might have had a much better result. Players like Camp, Marmol, Bowden, and Loe are gone and the bullpen prospect heading into next season are looking pretty good. If Castro and Rizzo return to form that is worth about another 6 wins. So there are not many moves the Cubs need to make in order to be better next season.

          I think a lot has to go wrong for the Cubs to lose 95 games next season.

          • Kyle

            I don’t know if I’d go that far. There’s still plenty of downside available too.

            We’ll be without Garza and Soriano this year, and so far I’m not optimistic they’ll be replaced with anything similar in free agency. We had a ton of luck last year with Donnie Murphy-types adding significant value, and that could easily reverse itself.

            Not denying that there’s some upside to finishing much better than we did last year, but the downside is there too.

            • ssckelley

              But Soriano did nothing as a Cub, he did not perform above replacement player until he was a Yankee. Garza hurts a little but keep in mind he only started 11 games as a Cub and BR has his WAR at 1.5 so that does not look tough to replace.

              If the Cubs are a 95 loss team next year then that likely means Castro, Rizzo, and Barney are still struggling offensively or the pitching completely fell apart.

              • Kyle

                Fangraphs has Soriano as 1.1 WAR in 93 games as a Cub, Baseball-Reference has him at 0.8. That’s not nothing.

                Going by bWAR because that’s the page I have open, the Cubs got 3.9 WAR out of Navarro, Murphy and Ransom. That’s not really sustainable, and losing that could easily balance out a full resurgence from Castro, for example.

                • hansman

                  That’s also a whopping 2 WAR across the season. It’s possible they don’t replace it but it’s not like they are losing a 5 WAR player.

                  • Kyle

                    When the hole is this deep, every extra foot is problematic.

                    • hansman

                      Hopefully they add Choo and we don’t have to worry about a LF for 3 years.

                • jt

                  Lake + Bogusevic WAR = 1.0 bWAR in 309 PA’s
                  Soriano WAR = 1.1 bWAR in 383 PA’s
                  Soriano’s 2013 Cubs production probably will not be missed

                  • Kyle

                    Presuming that Lake will match his 2013 performance is shaky ground.

                • ssckelley

                  No it isn’t nothing but for a left fielder it is not much. You make a good point on the productive mess they had at third this season and it is hard telling what they do at third next season. Perhaps I am drinking to much Cub kool aid but I still think a lot has to go wrong for the Cubs to lose 95 games next year.

        • Jon

          We could lose 95 games a year for six more seasons and folks like Hawks1963 would still be telling us to “be patient, it’s all part of the master plan”

          • Coop

            Do we really think losing is specifically an integral part of “The Plan?” I think losing is more a by-product of the strategy – which I interpret to be a two-pased approach. 1. Build up the minor league system to create a steady flow of young, cost-controlled talent. 2. Don’t spend big on free-agent contracts until Step 1 is closer to being ready.

            Obviously not spending on any free agents is going to hurt the major league team if the minor league system is not providing any major league ready talent. So the result is a crappy major league team that loses a lot.

            Now this is just my belief, but I still trust Theo. I have found him to be a very honest front office man. I think he is very careful with his words, and definitely presents things with careful messaging in mind. But I don’t think he flat out lies. Again, my opinion. I have actually found him to be far more up front and sometimes surprisingly honest in what he says.

            Many frequently point to his statements about every season being sacred and the belief that you can build the minors while also pursuing short-term success. My opinion is that he really believes these things. I get the impression that Theo believed there would be more financial flexibility when he first started this process. I think that has proven to be untrue; I don’t know if it is because ownership is cheap, or because there are too many things tying their hands (such as the debt structure, lack of liquid assests, etc.).

            I think that Step 1 is the critical components to Theo’s plan for long-term success. And I think he has proven to be pretty solid at building up the farm system.

            I wish the major league product were better. I hate the losing. I wish we had the resources (or desire) to pursue star-level free agents. I think it sucks that it hasn’t been a dual-front approach. But I am also glad Theo is pursuing a system that should result in long-term sustained success. I cling to the positives, rather than dwelling on the negatives.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Do we really think losing is specifically an integral part of “The Plan?””

              Theo seems to think so. He said it himself.

              Take your head out of the sand.

              • TWC

                No, he didn’t.

              • Coop

                “Take your head out of the sand.”

                This is the sort of comment that I have little use for. Unnecessarily condescending and insulting. This is the type of “I’m right and everyone else’s opinion is garbage,” statement that has become far too prevalent on this message board. And not accompanied by any thoughtful discussion, commentary, or argument. I have no problems with disagreement. Just do it in an intelligent manner.

                Name calling and insults really just makes you look bad.

                • MightyBear

                  I agree.

                • CubFan Paul

                  So instead of admitting that you were wrong, you whine (on the internet).

                  Grow up.

                  • Coop

                    You stay classy.

                    And mature.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      This is the type of “I’m wrong but I’ll never admit it so I’ll go on the offensive and attack or whine” statement that has become far too prevalent on this message board

                  • On The Farm

                    Paul, as an observer of this argument maybe you could get Coop to actually admit he was wrong if you provide some proof (quotes from an article?) in which Theo has said losing is integral part of the plan?

                    I think all Coop was saying, is just saying “You’re wrong” isn’t really much of an argument.

                    Take my two cents for what they are worth.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “You’re wrong”

                      Was after the fact (of him being wrong). As in, that’s not what he took offense to.

                    • Coop

                      I think if you read my response again, you will note that I don’t mind people telling me I am wrong. I just expect a reasonable explanation for that being the case. I have little use for an unsubstantiated rejection of my thesis followed by immature inflammatory attack. All I asked for was intelligent discourse. Rather than MOAR TROLLING.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Coop I’ve been trying to find any quote by Epstein that specifically says “losing is specifically an integral part of “The Plan?”” and I can’t find anything. Now as I said there is plenty of read between the lines when he talks about not being in a position to sign FA or the difference between losing 80 games or 100 games but nowhere has he said, “LOSING IS THE PLAN.” But plenty of people believe that is what he wants, and that’s fine but he has never directly said that is the plan. I do wish that the internet community could be better about support their claims or at least admitting that no he didn’t say it directly but I see quote 1,2,3 as suggesting that we are going to be losing. Unfortunately the interweb is all about being right or wrong and never admitting when you made a mistake.

                • Brains

                  yeah there’s a culture here of attacking other posters for disagreeing with management. it’s actually the best part of the blog, because it’s like a weird puzzle to figure out why their loyalties are to new administrative hires instead of the players on the field.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    “there’s a culture here of attacking other posters for disagreeing with management.”

                    This is flatly wrong, though you will never realize it, because you like to play the victim.

                    Folks aren’t attacked *for* disagreeing with management. As I always, I point to Kyle, who seems to get on just fine despite frequently disagreeing with management. Folks get “attacked” because they can’t have a reasonable conversation explaining, without venom or hyperbole, why they disagree with management.

                    Don’t you find it strange that you so consistently run afoul of people around here, and Kyle – again, as an example – doesn’t? Is he just magic?

                    • Brains

                      on the contrary i would say that kyle is by far the most attacked person at the site. people rarely attack me, though i know i annoy you sometimes. he offers a logical rebuttal, people jump on him as a ‘hipster’, a ‘nerd’, or using numbers for his own purposes.

                      i tend to just think of him as a great baseball mind. he’s part of the reason i come back – to read his analysis (and yours), and then to watch people pile on him and discredit everything he says.

                    • Brains

                      just to be clear, it’s the *way* that trashtalking works here that’s so interesting. great blog…

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Perfectly stated Ace and if I could see who you are replying to it would make even more sense, but I can assume who you might be replying. Those of you who continually want to do anything to start arguments, attack posters for disagreeing with you, and continuously leave bullshit thoughts do nothing but slow down and disrupt the intelligent comments and discussion that happen around here. Thankfully I’ve learned how to erase the bullshit posters from my view and things are much better.

                    • Brains

                      see?

                    • MightyBear

                      Kyle is magic.

                    • hansman

                      “on the contrary i would say that kyle is by far the most attacked person at the site.”

                      If by “attacked” you mean disagreed with, then you are correct (there’s a first time for everything).

                      “i tend to just think of him as a great baseball mind.”

                      And the streak of being right stops at 1. Better luck next time.

                    • hansman

                      “see?”

                      Are you saying that Goat is attacking you?

                      You REALLY need to grow a thicker skin if you are going to survive on the internets.

                    • Brains

                      i’ll admit to hyperbole but not venom. i love the cubs more than any sports team in any sport, and i’m usually being facetious. hyperbole is just a great tool, when applied in reverse during a fallacious conversation.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      I really can’t see who you are all replying to, but “see?” as an attack? I really need to find a way to delete all the replies that follow this blocked user.

              • MichiganGoat

                Yeah I would love to see a quote from Theo where he said “we are losing on purpose,” no I’m sure you can spin his talk about losing 80 vs. 70 vs. 60 games as a way to say that we wanted to lose but thats just not a quote he said. Staying with the facts and not reading between the lines might be more helpful here.

                • jh03

                  “We’re losing on purpose.” – Theo

                  Here’s the link: http://www.realquotes.troll

                  • MichiganGoat

                    hmm I think this is a joke because that link doesn’t work… and it has troll in the link… maybe something is blocked on my end

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      MG, I think your sarcasm meter is on the fritz.

                    • jh03

                      It’s no joke. It’s a real thing. You should probably clear your cookies or something and try the link again.

                      I mean, where would we get, “We’re losing on purpose” if it wasn’t a real quote? This is the internet.. where only factual information is allowed.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Yeah I see that now but with all the other crap I’ve been reading around here it becomes kinda difficult to see good sarcasm.

                    • jh03

                      Jeez, MG.. It kind of hurts my feelings that you thought I was serious! ha

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Me sarcastic? Never.

                    • jh03

                      Well, this is my third attempt to get this comment to send. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t think it’s letting me reply right back to you, MG.

                      You’re fine though. I completely understand.

                      That’s why I put the .troll instead of the .com, because I knew the sarcasm might not be picked up if I made it seem legit.

                      And sorry if there’s 3 of this comment out there now. It’s not showing that they’re sending on my computer. If there is, Brett, can you delete 2 of them? lol

                  • MichiganGoat

                    jh03 its been a rough winter so far with comments… mea culpa mea maxima culpa

            • YourResidentJag

              If losing comes with the highest draft possible, then yes. I don’t believe there are as many market inefficiences as in years past. This is what they have to now. It’s obvious. It also seems clear that baseball analysts are developing better analysis of top prospects so that prospects picked at the highest levels of the draft really do show more positive outcomes than the projections made of them, say, 10-15 years ago.

              • Coop

                I get this. And this has more clearly been part of Houston’s strategy. It has been a long time method employed by NBA teams – tanking to get a once in a generation talent. And it may have finally crept into MLB.

                I think the new CBA has made this a little more viable for MLB teams. Now that money is specifically allotted to draft slots, having a higher pick has increased value – a better talent available, plus more money for potential overslots for every one of the first 10 rounds. It particularly makes more sense if your scouting and ability to not miss on early talent improves. So I see that argument. But I still think the draft is less precise in MLB than it is in other sports. Now it does look like top 10 talents tends to be more reliable. And true superstars do tend to come from the first round. But there are also plenty of misses, even at the #1 pick. And there are plenty of great talents found in later rounds. So I don’t think having the highest draft pick is as important in MLB as it is in other sports.

                However, I think the Cubs have used the higher draft slot and its other inherent advantages to quickly improve the minor league system. But I don’t think losing is an integral part of “The Plan.” Maybe it’s part hope and part belief for me. I think it makes sense to lose for a higher pick for a short amount of time. But I think that time has passed. I guess we will have to wait and see if Theo agrees. The farm system has seen a significant increase in high-end talent, and also has developed a fair amount of depth (potential impact talent at most levels). I think the huge over-slotting in last years IFA market was part of developing long-term depth and impact talent.

                But you can’t keep losing forever without negatively impacting your support. And many have been making this argument. I support “The Plan,” and I have been willing to deal with some ugly seasons in the short term, if it ultimately culminates with long-term success. I think we are seeing the farm system ready to infuse impact talent to the major league team. Hopefully we start to see some result at the major league level. Again, I’m going to cling to the positives and not dwell on the negatives…

                • YourResidentJag

                  I agree that Theo doesn’t want to lose. I don’t think though that the time has passed for us to project getting the highest pick available. If the financial projections do have us being competitive until 2016 (taken from articles Brett linked to where it was explained that the Cubs were punting even on 2015) then Theo is passing on a golden opportunity to get the #1 draft pick in 2015. I don’t think your correct about baseball vs other sports in terms of draft picks. With greater analysis today than ever before on draft pick analysis, it’s much less likely that the top picks in the draft would be busts at the MLB level.

                  I say 2014 would be a missed opportunity because other teams pulling up the rear may show slight improvement over the Cubs. The Marlins after have an MVP and a potential Cy Young award winner already on their MLB roster. I think some of the Astros prospects may be seen on the MLB roster at the end of the season. The Mariners want to spend money so do the Mets, especially if they’re linked to Granderson. And I def don’t see the Blue Jays being as bad as last year. Even Minnesota wants to spend on SP and my guess it than Sano and possibly Rosario will be up some time this year. That puts the Cubs in a solid position for the top pick. That’s why I think they need to be aggressive on the trade market.

            • mjhurdle

              well said Coop

      • Nate

        The thing is, I’m not sure there are any moves that will make this team much better than an 85 loss team so I don’t really care about losing 85 or 95. Get Tanaka. That’s the move I really want to see. Then see who makes it up by the end of July. What is Olt’s eyes were really the problem and he turns into what he once could have been. What if Grimm and Rusin return to the form they had when they were both top prospects. What if Rizzo and Castro turn it around and Lake really is a solid CF. This team starts looking like they have a chance to be good in 2014 and really good in 2015.

        If not what did you lose? Two years of Phil Hughes? Ellsbury, is he really the difference?

        • Cubbie in NC

          If you have faith in the plan then Tanaka is the guy you have to have. He will not cost any minor or major league talent to acquire….

        • Rebuilding

          I fully agree about the FAs this year. There is no one of major importance that I want to see added other than Tanaka. I think Tanaka is a major test for the organization – he is young, at a position of extreme need (TOR starter) and he costs no player compensation. He is exactly the type of player we should be adding at this phase. If the Cubs don’t at the very least make a VERY strong bid then all of our fears about financial constraints will be validated for me

      • cub2014

        I think they will for sure sign a starter (at the
        very least to flip him, if we arent going to
        compete why wouldnt we flip?) and two if
        they trade Shark. Then flip 2 guys so we can
        get a half season of Rusin and Hendricks to
        see if either are legit for 2015.

      • Josh

        Nicely put

      • Cubbie in NC

        I am still hopeful for a RH hitting outfielder, to break up the guys that have not been real successful at hitting lefties. Would love to see someone man center until Almora is ready. But I do not see a cheap 3 year option out there for the Cubs unless it is through a trade.

        I also want to see another starting pitcher like EJAX. I realize that he did not perform as well as expected, but the Cubs need some guys that are going to take the ball and eat up some innings. With the way the rotation and bullpen are shaping up, those guys are going to be important.

        I am trying to have faith in the plan, I just hope that once the minor league talent level is satisfactory, that the acquiring of major league talent goes a little more briskly than the minor league talent has gone.

        • ssckelley

          I have been pining for a RH slugger to compliment the lefties for quite some time. But I am starting to wonder if the Cubs are going with a Lake/Sweeney platoon in center and give Vitters a shot at a platoon with Bogusevic in left. I am sure they will sign someone on the cheap to compete with Vitters but I do not expect a big name.

          If the Cubs are waiting out the market on Ellsbury and end up with him then I would expect Lake and Sweeney to platoon in left and Bogusevic being allowed to walk. But I would be shocked to see this happen.

          • cub2014

            SS, the cubs (for the rebuild) actually need
            left handed hitters. Legitimate big league hitters
            a #1 and a #3 lefties. All the guys coming up
            (except Alcantera) are righties.

            If they sign a righty it would be a stop gap,
            but why do that (unless you are flipping them)
            because it just takes away from AB for Lake,
            Vitters and hopefully Bryant. We might as well
            see what Vitters and Lake can do to start the
            season it could be ugly, but……………………

            • ssckelley

              That makes Rizzo a big part of the Cubs future plans. I believe Sweeney was signed to a 2 year deal and if they think Bogusevic is worth keeping around they have control on him until 2018. Granted these players are not much more than bench pieces but they can be used to help break up right handed hitters on a platoon basis.

              Left handed bats in the outfield are not tough to find, next season the Cubs are full of them and without looking I am guessing there will be left handed outfielders available in the 2014 or 2015 off season if they need to go after one. Even resigning Schierholtz remains a possibility.

              • cub2014

                Sweeney,Schierholtz,Bogusevic,
                Lake & Vitters. One as a starter and
                2 of them as subs but if these are
                your guys than playoffs are out of
                the question.

                I dont think their are any top of the order
                lefty OF available next off season. There are
                2 this off season (choo and ellsbury). For
                your potential #3 lefty their will be options
                out there to trade for (probably both this
                year and next).

                I would like our future lineup going forward
                with Rizzo at #5 in the order between
                potentially Baez and Bryant. I dont think
                he is good enough to be a perennial
                contenders #3 hitter.

                • MightyBear

                  You have Bryant batting 6. I don’t see that. If things work out and Baez and Bryant hit like they did in the lower levels at the upper level, I see Baez batting 3rd, Rizzo batting 4th and Bryant batting 5th.

  • Die hard

    Day games still a deterrent to free agents coming here

    • MichiganGoat

      This might be one of the best comments you’ve ever made and I completely agree.

    • Cubbie in NC

      Announcing that you plan on not spending money or being good for the next few years is not going to help either.

    • MightyBear

      Deterrent is a relative term. All things equal, day games could be a factor. For most FA’s its not even a consideration. If the Cubs offer Ellsbury 8 years 200 million, he’s coming here if we play all day games.

  • Senor Cub

    I am so underwhelmed by the FA this year. It’s hard to execute a better plan unless you trade aggressively. JJ at $8M, no thanks, we have enough broken arms already! Cano, will not fill seats anywhere, etc… Price is way too expensive, Tanaka will definitely be too expensive. We need more young arms in the system. Trade Shark, he offers zero value to the Cubs in the next two years, his value is in the trade.

  • James

    Trade Ed Jackson sign Scott Kazmir, and Phil Hughes both to 2-3 year deals Kazmir gets 8 million and Hughes gets 6 million. Then sign elsbury 5 years 100 million. The Cubs would then have a true leadoff hitter who can steal bases and have power when the wind is blowing out. Looking at the cubs and their farm they have no player whom I see as a viable fit for the leadoff hole. He is also good defensively. I think if the cubs do these signings, and dont trade them unless the haul of prospects is undeniable good; they could be competetive next season not world series competetive but not 90+ losses. Also i think having those three gives the cubs a much better outlook on 2015. I still think the cubs need a veteran leadership other than shark and could use a vet in the infield. Anyone else have thoughts?

    • Nate

      Trade EJax where? For what? Who’s gonna take him?

      • Kyle

        Jackson is a useful pitcher and 3/33 looks like a steal in today’s market. If the Cubs eat any money at all, they could trade him almost anywhere and get some nice prospects in return.

      • Nate

        Sorry, that looks worse than I meant it but I just don’t see how you can get rid of him unless he starts out the year with Cubs pitching great and they Flip him mid-season and bring up Hendricks or someone but that doesn’t help you be competitive this season.

      • James

        anywhere you can eat some of his contract so that way you can open up a spot for the other two. someone would take ejax for 5-6 millione a year he still gets 200+ innings every year. they just need to have the two spots open for Kazmir and Hughes, also so arrieta can have the 5th spot give him a chance if he struggles give hendrick grimm rusin a call to take his spot.

        • MichiganGoat

          I’m not sure why we would want to trade away a solid inning eater that is now on a very affordable contract so we can replace him with a pitcher that might cost as much as EJax will next year and possibly not do a whole lot better. Keep him no need to sell him off unless another team is willing to give up a top 10 pitching prospect for him- and I doubt anybody would give up much for him.

          • James

            Because they have more potential yeah Ejax eats innings but he cant be a “core piece” where as scott and phil could become core pieces.

    • Kyle

      Both of those guys are going to get more money than that.

      • James

        yeah i was trying to be hopeful on the numbers but kazmir im comfortable at 8-12 million a year and hughes up to 10 a year.

  • Curt

    I have a question if all this fo is interested in is low risk flippable pieces how did Edwin Jackson get that contract of his .

    • ssckelley

      The comments the FO has made concerning EJax is what has brought a lot of speculation the Cubs are not looking to compete until 2016. I believe they have been quoted something along the lines of EJax being signed was a premature move.

    • cub2014

      Curt, I would like to know the same thing.
      When they signed him last year I figured
      they would be building towards the playoffs
      in 2014 (why else would you sign him?)
      Was it a screw up a miscalculation by the FO?

      Now it sounds like they are building towards
      2016. Which REALLY PISSES ME OFF!

  • David

    I would would go the “behind the scenes” route and sign 2 bullpen guys who can knock some people down/ intimidate. 2 $3 million guys, perhaps?? Add those guys to Strop, Russell, Parker, plus that lefty in the minors (forgot his name). Plus Villanueva. Grimm? Let’s make the bullpen solid, if not a strength. How many wins did the bullpen cost us in the beginning of last year?? 12? 14?? Any rumors of where Gregg will be signing???

    • ssckelley

      “Any rumors of where Gregg will be signing???”

      Not with the Cubs.

    • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

      I like this idea. We need for our relief pitching to be very strong.

  • Nate Dawg

    Since Johnson perhaps wanted to sign with a team that plays in a “pitcher-friendly” park, it got me thinking, why is Wrigley considered a “hitter-friendly” park? Based on dimensions alone, it’s on par with most stadiums. Maybe even a little deeper down the lines. Anyone?

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Wrigley has always been a multiple personality ballpark. In warm weather when the wind is blowing out, routine fly balls turn into homers. Media and fans see this and assume the stadium is home run city.
      However, in the spring when the weather is cold, or when the wind is blowing in off the lake, it can be the hardest park in baseball to hit a homerun. Just depends what day you are watching.

    • Edwin

      Park Factors are tricky to calculate, but by most accounts, Wrigley seems to wind up an above average place for hitters.

  • David

    Going to hop in on this…. regardless of the immanent 85+ losses, Theo and Jed still have to sell tickets. An unhappy fan base is not producing revenue that increases the salary cap that makes a team better. They can’t afford us to be fair-weather fans, but they have to give us some reason to go to the ballpark each day. I live far away from Chicago, so I can’t go to any games, and I don’t have WGN so I rarely get to see my team (thanks ESPN). The ballpark selling its least amount of tickets last year is a product of poor quality teams. Even if the move isn’t the greatest for the 2016 cubs team this year, you need to make a move or two to put fans in the stands. In my opinion, they should go hard after Ubaldo and get a 3-4 year deal for 30/40 mil. He’s on the upswing, and could really be an ace in our rotation, mentor Samardzija and Arrietta about how to work on control (since he has been there before) and be exciting (IE: No-Hitter). Get a veteran bullpen piece and an outfielder for a year or two each, but Ubaldo could really help in a biiiiig way.

  • Aaron

    Brett, since the Cubs have not been a good team in a long time, and in fact have been one of the worst 5 in the majors for a few years now, which could continue for another 2 seasons, are the Cubs becoming the team of last resorts for free agents?

    If teams like San Diego and others, who are also rebuilding their teams, are willing to offer more money for even reclamation project players like Josh Johnson, couldn’t this push back the Cubs own development, especially if we were looking to “flip” some of those project players for more prospects?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “If teams like San Diego and others, who are also rebuilding their teams, are willing to offer more money for even reclamation project players like Josh Johnson …”

      That’s where you lost me. Johnson wanted to go to San Diego, and there’s little indication that his decision was directed by the money.

  • Aaron

    Brett, if San Diego’s offer was only $4 million, would Johnson have taken the deal? Probably not. The Padres paid a premium price. Would the Cubs have done this? Probably not. So even if he wanted to play for the Cubs, the money wouldn’t have been there. Since the Cubs are in a financial position to often be the lowest bidder, and their ball park is tough to win in because of its jekyll and hyde nature, why would reclamation projects come to Chicago?

    • mjhurdle

      I wouldn’t say the Padres paid a premium price. 8 million does not appear to be that much of a gamble in this market, and if he gets re-injured, the Padres gain a 4 million option for 2015, so they are protected at least a little in that area.

  • Aaron

    mjhurdle…does it seem this off-season’s free agents will be getting paid more than they would have in previous seasons?

    • On The Farm

      I am confused what you are asking, if Johnson took a discount so he could be on the West coast of course the Cubs are going to finish second in the bidding for his services because they would have to pay the premium to get him. I don’t think the Padre’s paid a premium to sign Johnson.

  • Aaron

    If Johnson knew the Cubs, given their financial situation, which includes declining attendance and reduced revenues, weren’t going to pay more than $8 million plus $1.25 million in incentives, he signs with San Diego early in the off-season.

    The free agents this off-season, including reclamation projects like Johnson, will be getting paid better than just a few years ago, which is when the Cubs plan was created. If the costs are going up, while revenues are going down, does this delay the Cubs rebuilding efforts, since the market conditions are changing. I say yes.

    • mjhurdle

      But to Johnson, it isn’t about the Cubs paying 1-2 million more for a one year contract.
      I would assume that Johnson’s goal at this point is to re-establish himself as a good starting pitcher.
      If the Padres offered 8 million, and you believed that your stats would look better after a year of pitching in Petco as opposed to Wrigley, then there is no way you go to Wrigley.
      A good-great year from Johnson means a 4-5 year, 10-15 + million dollar deal next year.
      That is his goal i believe, and the best chance he has to reach that is pitching in a park like Petco.
      I personally don’t think that the Cubs could have offered enough to get Johnson, because I believe that he is simply looking for the best possible stepping stone to his last big contract.
      I could be wrong though.

    • On The Farm

      “If Johnson knew the Cubs, given their financial situation..weren’t going to pay more than $8 million plus $1.25 million in incentives”

      The point is the Cubs would have to outbid $8 mil + for Johnson and it’s feasible the Padres would have upped their offer given Johnson’s preference for the West Coast. Just because one SP, one reclamation project, preferred to sign with another rebuilding club on the West Coast does not spell doom and gloom for every other future signing. As you stated it is early in the offseason. One guy’s opinion of signing with San Diego isn’t signalling that no one will be signing with the Cubs. Players will go where the paychecks are. Feldman had no problem taking a one year deal with Chicago.

      “If the costs are going up, while revenues are going down, does this delay the Cubs rebuilding efforts, since the market conditions are changing. I say yes.”

      I think the costs for players will be impacted in a exponential rather than a linear fashion. Meaning I think the best players will see the largest increases in the salary demand, while the mid-tier FA will see a modest bump, and the low end guys will get a small raise. The Cubs weren’t going to be in the market for the big players anyway (not at those prices at least), the price increase on the mid-tier guys will be noticeable, but nothing that will cripple the rebuild effort. The operational cost of the business is going up, but so is every other teams so, I guess I just don’t see it effecting the rebuild as much as you think it is.

  • Aaron

    Besides Wrigley Field, a major point is that the Cubs, by design, are not going to be a very good team next season, which is a shame. For a small market team like the Padres, to have a better chance of winning ball games and paying higher for free agents is hard to accept.

  • Brains

    ok im gonna restate the obvious. we might as well resign matt garza. we got our prospect, now we can get back our pitcher.

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