MoneyThanksgiving at the Taylor household was a success. Yes, my mashed potatoes were a little looser than you might like, but damnit, I mashed them things by hand. I also made the stuffing, a broccoli cheese casserole, biscuits, and the turkey (evidence of which is here, courtesy of The Wife, who notes that I did receive a little assistance on my first turkey). Boom. Martha Stewart’d.

  • It seems like more free agents are signing in November this year, doesn’t it? I tend to keep a pretty close eye on these things – occupational hazard – but I go by feel, rather than data. (Not because I eschew data, obviously, but because there hasn’t really been a need for me to deeply research whether more players were signing in a given November than in years past.) The good news for all of us is that FanGraphs lives for those kind of off-the-wall data dives, and Paul Swydan tries to figure out if our guts are right on the timing of signings this year. It turns out that this year has actually been pretty typical, with a touch fewer free agent signings in November than in years past. We might feel like it’s a bit more, though, because there seem to have been a higher number of large contracts inked this month (McCann, Peralta, Nolasco, Jason Vargas, Jose Abreu, Alexander Guerrero, etc.), which sounds about right to me. Offseason activity, anecdotally, tends to be about the same in November and January, with a substantial peak in December (and there’s always a little trickle in February). Swydan’s data backs that up, which is interesting to see. So bring on December, I guess.
  • It’s almost disappointing to see Swydan’s results, because it would have been interesting to speculate on why free agents are signing earlier this year. I guess we can still go there a little bit, given the big deals already handed out. It’s clearly a hot market, with prices taking off … well, or so we would have thought until Ricky Nolasco got just $49 million over four, and Brian McCann got just five years and $85 million. Don’t get me wrong, those are healthy contracts. But they’re nothing like we would have expected to see for those guys in the wake of Tim Lincecum getting two years and $35 million, especially coming so soon in the offseason.
  • Baseball Prospectus approves of the George Kottaras acquisition, calling him “everyone’s favorite offensive-minded reserve catcher.” BP says his defense is “less than splendid,” but his ability to get on base and hit for power (from the left side) should work well for the Cubs, who will pair him with righty Welington Castillo.
  • FanGraphs digs much more deeply in the Kottaras trade, but primarily from the Royals’ perspective (as in: why would they give him up for such small cash savings?). The piece, however, gives you a better sense of why Kottaras, despite his attractive offensive numbers, has been a backup for his entire career.
  • Friend of the program Harry Pavlidis chatted at BP this week, and it’s a smattering of interesting bits. After having Pitchf/x data so readily available in recent years, I’m suddenly turned on to the idea of Fieldf/x data … which Harry says won’t be made publicly available any time soon. Hamburgers.
  • Ted Lilly has confirmed to Cubs.com that he is indeed retiring, primarily due to a neck issue from he doesn’t feel like he can come back. Lilly will remain a Cubs favorite for a long time. Maybe he can come to CubsCon this year and party with us!
  • The Cardinals, who signed Jhonny Peralta to a massive contract fresh off a PED suspension don’t want to be the “morality police.” The Arizona Diamondbacks, however, apparently do. Don’t try shopping your PED user to them.
  • Frank

    Broccoli cheese casserole? I can see the cheese, but broccoli?

  • Ballgame

    Thanks again Brett and Luke for all you do. Think it says something about you and myself if checking BN is the first thing I do every morning. I have issues, I know haha. Any word from Myles? He’s disappeared since proclaiming himself a Cardinal fan for the WS. Still aggravates me, not too much. I still hope he had a good Thanksgiving along with everyone else here.

  • Rich H

    I guess the amount of Big News type signings and the Shark Hype are the reasons for all the jump of a cliff comments. But remember that Cleveland did not make a move till the end of December last winter.

    We still got a long way to go till pitchers and catchers report.

  • Rebuilding

    The day after Thanksgiving I just wanted to point out that the Ricketts have a LOT to be thankful for this year. Their remaining TD Ameritrade stock has gone from 16 to 29, alone almost doubling their wealth to $2 billion. But they have also reaped the rewards of high end assets being boosted by Quantatative Easing. Their real estate holdings have likely increased around 30-50% ince they bought the team in 2009. The team itself is also likely worth substantially more due to this asset inflation. I would guess they will be moving right on up the Forbes list this year. and may now be worth $2.5-3 billion.

    To this I say viva la America because Joe Ricketts earned it the right way BUT as a Christmas present to celebrate this great year all I want is for the family trust to give the Cubs a measly $60 million loan to post for Masahiro Tanaka. God bless Mr. Ricketts everyone!

    • Jono

      With Yellen to be the next chair, they should have nothing to worry about. She might be their best reason to get tanaka.

  • Janice

    Love this blog! But I am sorry, this was the worst Thanksgiving ever for Cubs fans. This is the worst team I can ever remember, and the “Theo” is on track to make the team even worse for no reason. I read some posts here and everyone sounds emasculated and depressed, including the main writer. I don’t know what I would do different, but I certainly would not be doing what the “Theo” is doing. This team is not better and I do not see how it will become better with his strategy. I guess that’s our holiday gift from the Cubs the last 100 years! LOL

    • Rebuilding

      Janice, just because Brett posts while watching the kids sometimes doesn’t mean he’s been emasculated. This is a new century. By all accounts he’s a strong and virile man

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I always sound emasculated and depressed.

      • Frank

        At least she didn’t use the term “Emasculation”. That word scares me.

    • college_of_coaches

      Janice has sounded depressed ever since she and Chandler broke up.

    • Chad

      “I don’t know what I would do different, but I certainly would not be doing what the “Theo” is doing. ”

      I laughed really hard at this. nobody likes but the solutions are “I don’t know” or “buy all the players”. I trust Theo. Yes it has sucked the last few years, but 1. nobody knows what this off-season holds, or the next season. Unlike most I try to be optimistic. Yes, I know that this is going to suck for a little while longer, but hey if it turns out a continual contender starting in 3 years I would think the majority of us would be happy. I know I would. I would much rather have consistent contention rather than a few good years and then a few crappy years with old contracts.

      • Frank

        I’m not going to agree or disagree, but please name any baseball club that totally gutted their team in order to rebuild.

        • Rebuilding

          The Nationals, Pirates and Rays are prime examples of teams that had multiple Top 5 picks who are now in or right around the playoffs

          • Frank

            The Expo’s/Nationals pretty much always sucked. The Pirates spent 20 years rebuilding and the Rays came into existence in 1995. None of those teams were “gutted to the bone”.

            • Rebuilding

              I agree. Hopefully our guys do it better

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              If you’re going to limit the set from which people can select to organizations that look exactly like the Cubs, in cities exactly like the Cubs, in a time line that exactly mirrors the Cubs, then you’re right – you won’t find any examples.

              • Jono

                well done

              • Frank

                Brett, I was born into an insane family of Cubs fans. I’ve been pissed off from April to Sept. for 64 years and I detest the words “Cubbies and Lovable Losers”. Walk up to me and mention either of those words and be prepared to be decked. I should mention that “wait till next year” is my #3.
                I have a tee shirt that says… Of course I’m insane, I’m a Cubs fan

        • brickhouse

          the Marlins gutted their team to rebuild

        • 1060Ivy

          If you are seeking a successful job of rebuilding, you could mention the Marlins

          • Rebuilding

            Twice, and now trying to do it a 3rd time

        • On The Farm

          It’s not like the Cubs are the only one who gutted their team to rebuild at the moment either. The Astros are doing it right now.

    • preacherman86

      Janice, you certainly must have a very short memory then, albeit something all cubs fans should probably have. But 2 years ago we lost 100+ ball games with a higher payroll. Shrinking payroll and signing flippable assets as opposed to long term ones, throw and company still bettered the product on the field. Imagine what will happen when the house is clensed from the tribune days and all that money can go back into theo guys. I think u should give thanks;)

    • Jim L

      You obviously didn’t follow the Cubs in the late 70s/early 80s then, because those teams were terrible and they were actually built to win instead of how Theo has put together the last two teams.

  • Chad

    The faster FA SP get signed I think the better it is for the cubs in their pursuit to trade Samardzija. As the options dwindle teams get more anxious and loosen their grips on certain prospects.

    One other point I wanted to make after reading comments in the wee hours of the night (new parent problems/sleep deprivation). Some say just sign Shark, give him the big money. If it were that simple I’m sure the FO would do it. The cubs have to consider not only the initial cost of signing him but if he requires a NTC which we know the FO hates (as should everyone on this board), but they have to consider the opportunity costs. The cubs are not going to give Samardzija away, but if they can get a deal that includes a Bradley or say a Gausman that is an opportunity that they can’t let go. The cubs will always continue to pursue an extension because that is a good route, but if they can maximize their value to the organization long term by trading him they must do it. I can actually say that the cubs finally have a little leverage to work with here (Sharks wants to stay in Chicago, cubs are trying to sign him, other teams want him). Good problem to have right now. I am in no rush to see him get traded, especially this off-season, but if he does I guarantee the cubs will have gotten what they wanted in return.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    The post fee could get us garza….and then 88m over five could probably get elsbury..def. choo, id hate to see sixty mil lottery ticket…..rem. the last two times we paid dearly on japan players we got lil in return.i.e. fugi an fucudome……jus sayin

    • Chad

      Finicky posters. Don’t sign him you know what happened last time we did. Or sign him, why didn’t we sign Darvish. Frustrating to read this board sometimes. Every situation is different, must evaluate it on its own merits.

    • Rebuilding

      I say if 88 million gets is Choo or Ellsbury I’m all for it, but it doesn’t. Japanese stats are actually pretty accurately translated to MLB projections. Tanaka is far from a lottery ticket and posting fee + contract is likely to be right in line if not a little less than other top line pitchers will get

    • Coop

      I doubt that 5/88 gets Choo, and almost zero chance it gets Ellsbury.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Kottaras acquisition: “why they would give him up for such small cash savings?” signing players like this is why Shark wants Out!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No backup catchers for any team!

    • Rich H

      Um hate to be a fact check type guy but the reason he was traded and not just claimed was because of interest. So if the Cubs are so stupid for getting him then other FO’s must be equally as dumb.

      He is a back up catcher not an organizational savior atleast keep your criticism in context.

      Shark has said multiple times he perfers to win in Chicago that screams not “wanting out”.

      • http://BN Sacko

        We could have done better, he bats a buck 80, in general “these kind of players” no stupidity at all these are what we acquire. “prefers to win in Chicago” well he knows he won’t! Same thing Sori said, prefers to win in Chicago, until Theo told him we aren’t going to so you might as well play for the Yankees!..HOLY..

        • http://BN Sacko

          You said it yourself for season tickets, why get them: “with a lengthy rebuild underway and a product less then compelling” Yea thats why Shark wants Out!

          • Rich H

            Please show me one comment where Samardzija has said he wants out. For goodness sake why would his people still be talking about an extension if he wanted to leave.
            He has said he wants to win.

            The Soriano thing is very different in one reguard. Sori’s time starting was going down in the second half so the team could get a better look at Lake, Sweeney and Bago. They were open about this with Sori and asked him where he wanted to go to still be a full time player. Again not a “wanting out” but a wanting to play.

            • http://BN Sacko

              Everyday that he does not sign is where he shows you he wants out.
              “For goodness sake his people” are making a ridiculous offer! He said he wants to win, is he going to win here? Sori is different but he left for the same reason, we aren’t going to win!

              • Rich H

                The agents ask the moon in negotiations because that is what they do. By your logic Cano wants out of NY by wanting 300 mil. That is not the case.

                There were rumblings a few years ago that the players union was trying to force players to take a above market value position in all extentions. There was even a memo that got leaked that made it appear that “home town discounts” were not wanted and certain players were expected to take the highest dollar contracts no matter the team (I think it was the Spring Training of Pujol’s walk year).
                A Shark extention now no matter how unlikely is still in the cards so lets not make up opinions based on negotiations done in private by saying stuff that really is just hyperbole unless there is actual comments that a player makes.

                • http://BN Sacko

                  Cano is a FA! There are actual comments that the Cubs are giving a reasonable EXTENTION not a FA offer. He doesn’t want to sign with the Cubs..does that sound better?

  • cubzfan

    I would have guessed that there were fewer signings this year to date. But then, I always feel that way around Thanksgiving, because I just want more to happen related to baseball. Good to know my longtime cognitive bias is reflected in the facts this year!

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    I would be so down with Lilly at #CubsCon! Get on it, Cubs.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    the Cubs bad now? Yes. Worst team ever? Meh…the College of Coachs was worse.what year was that?

    • Professor Snarks

      The College of Coaches, ironically, was the early ’60’s version of ‘The Cubs Way”. The CoC made it;s debut in 1961 and lasted until the end of ’62. Those teams were bad, but they had 4 future HoFers. I must say, when all is said and done, 2012 through 2014 will go down as the worst teams in modern day Cubs history.

  • Ivy Walls

    I like Alton Brown’s method better than Martha’s with my own variation; less softened butter and fresh herbs under the skin, herbs and olive oil on the outside and cavities filled with aromatics (apple, onion, carrots & celery with cinnamon stick and I soak them in brandy or sherry overnight with herbs). Oven set at 500 first half hour and then down to 350 till breast is 160, take out and remove thighs & legs put back in pan in the juices for another 15-30 min until they reach 180. Breast continues to cook while wrapped and will rise to 175 by itself . Trick turn bird upside down on rack juices will seep back into meat before carving. High temp in the beginning browns and seals skin while quickly releasing skin fats into the bird. 20# bird cooks in 3 hours total.

    As for future catching Cubs might look at converting one of their 3B prospects, ie Candelario? or Villanueva to a catcher or both.

  • Bill

    I like the idea of converting Geiger to catcher since 1b and 3b are blocked.He is young enough and athletic enough to make the change and if he takes to catching it would give us a premium prospect at an area of need.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    college of coaches 1961? Jesus Christ I’m old how did that happen? They were very few Cubs fans in Wrigley in those days unlike today with millions a suckers showing up

    • Professor Snarks

      Those were the good old days. It was almost like you had personal vendors.

      Plus, you could buy cheap seats then ‘accidently’ forget where you were sitting and end up closer. if you were into that kind of thing.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    yeah baby smokee links and old style. oh wait I was too young to buy old style. God bless those personal vendors lol

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