Lukewarm Stove: Winter Meetings Eve, Cubs Needs, Axford, Barney, Samardzija, Papelbon, Kemp

lukewarm stoveExecutives, agents, players, and media are on their way to Orlando, Florida for this year’s Winter Meetings, which start tomorrow. Last week was crazy active, and, while this week probably won’t match it, the rumors will be all over the place. It’s still the Winter Meetings, after all. And, hey, a surprising Shin-Soo Choo pursuit could spice things up. Going into the meetings, no one saw the Cubs going after Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson last year, either …

  • Color me relieved by Cubs President Theo Epstein confirming that the outstanding needs for the team as the front office heads to Orlando include not only the bullpen, but also a starter and an outfielder (ESPNChicago). The starter isn’t really a surprise, since there’s an open spot in the rotation (ahead of Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva as depth), and since there’s a particular Japanese righty who might soon be available. The outfielder piece is what really relieves me, given that it would be plausible for the Cubs to decide to enter 2014 with Junior Lake in left, Ryan Sweeney in center, and Nate Schierholtz in right. Not that plausible = good. The Cubs don’t have many spots at which they can add a significant bat, which is what they need more than anything else (especially heading into 2015). Maybe that outfielder is Shin-Soo Choo. Maybe that’s a reach. (If the Cubs added Choo, Masahiro Tanaka, and John Axford, how quickly do folks change their tune about the Cubs’ approach? … that said, I’m still not sure that team projects as much more than a .500 team, and I’m not sure that’s realistic, even if each move makes sense in terms of The Plan.)
  • Jon Heyman also hears that the Cubs are in on free agent reliever John Axford, who is looking for an opportunity to close. He mentions the Orioles and Mariners, as well. I dug into Axford’s last two seasons and prospects for a turnaround here. You can expect that Axford’s agent will be burning up cell minutes this week.
  • Bruce Levine wonders if the Yankees could look at Darwin Barney as a possible platoon/late-inning guy at second base for the Yankees (I’d add that he could probably still play above average defensive shortstop). With Brendan Ryan and Kelly Johnson already in the fold, I don’t think I see it for them. Then again, Buster Olney says the Yankees probably will look to add an infielder by way of trade. If the did consider Barney, I doubt the Cubs would look for much in return, given that they’ll likely look to open up second base for either Javier Baez or Arismendy Alcantara over the next 12 months.
  • Shi Davidi writes that Jeff Samardzija is certain to remain under consideration by the Blue Jays as they look to pick up an arm. Nothing really new there, but it’s a local Toronto report, so I guess it’s additional smoke.
  • The Phillies really want to move Jonathan Papelbon, the Cubs need a closer, and the Cubs’ front office has familiarity with Papelbon from his Boston days. Perfect fit, right? Well, setting aside Papelbon’s contract, which pays him $26 million over the next two years (or $39 million over the next three years if he stays a closer and finishes a reasonable number of games), there’s the problem of Papelbon’s vanishing strikeout rate – it fell from the low 30% range (awesome) to the low 20% range last year (not great for an elite reliever). There’s also his velocity, which has declined from the mid-90s to the low-90s over the past few years. The question you have to ask is, if 33-year-old Papelbon were a free agent today, how much would you be willing to give him? Two years and $10 million or three years and $15 million, maybe? If the Phillies want to eat enough salary to make that happen – and don’t demand much of anything in the way of a return – then sure, you consider it. I don’t see much value there.
  • Something’s probably gonna give in the Dodgers’ outfield, and Matt Kemp’s agent thinks it could be a trade of his client. If so, here’s hoping Kemp winds up on a team that was otherwise considering Shin-Soo Choo. (If the Dodgers ate enough salary, as I’ve discussed before, I think Kemp would be an intriguing option for the Cubs (for some of the same reasons Choo would be).)

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

202 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Winter Meetings Eve, Cubs Needs, Axford, Barney, Samardzija, Papelbon, Kemp”

  1. BenW

    I’d be all over Kemp, depending on the price to acquire. Even if the Dodgers only eat 3-5 per season, if the price was low enough, he would be really interesting. Not sure what the Dodgers would be interested in, but I’d at least make the call.

    1. Fishin Phil

      I’m not sure what it would take to make this deal happen, but the idea of Kemp intrigues me.

      1. BenW

        Completely agree. If a Barney/Russell deal with the Dodgers eating 5 million a year for the rest of the deal got the job done, I’d be all over it.

        Choo would be nice, but he would cost a high pick for the Cubs, and be far older when the deal is over. Plus Kemp is a true CF, and provides good value with his defense.

  2. Ferris

    Barney for curtis?

  3. YourResidentJag

    @tomloxas: #Phillies interested in Samardzija and D Brown is available. 3 team deal is possible.

    1. jsorensen

      Loxas sure loves that three team deal talk.

    2. Dumpgobbler

      Not sure I’m seeing it here.. maybe something like this?

      Giants Get: Dominick Brown, Alberto Cabrera
      Cubs Get: Kyle Krick, Edwin Escobar, Jesse Biddle, Tommy Joseph
      Phillies Get: Jeff Samardzija

      ?? Maybe?? That work?

      1. Patrick G

        thats not terrible

        1. X The Cubs Fan

          What about:

          Cubs trade: Samardzija, Dan Vogelbach, James Russel and Barney

          Phillies trade: Dom Brown and Jesse Biddle

          Mariners trade: Taijuan Walker, Gabriel Guerrero and Luis Gohara

          Phillies get: Samardzija and Barney

          Cubs get: Biddle, Walker, Guerrero and Gohara

          Mariners get: Brown, Vogelbach and Russel

          1. BWA

            don’t think the mariners would like that deal much

  4. YourResidentJag

    Another view on Rakuten exec’s comments on Tanaka. RT @dylanohernandez: He said he would like to post him, not that he is likely to.

  5. macpete22

    Saw the Rays are looking for a right handed 2B off the bench. Wonder if there’s a fit there

    1. Sorianofan1999

      Might make sense.

      1. macpete22

        The Rays like those “Scrappy” players. Barney for a meh lower tier pitching prospect would probably get it done. I’d almost throw in an Alberto Cabrera too

  6. Sorianofan1999

    Just saw Choo will get between Ellsbury and Werth salary. Guess that eliminates Cubs, but who knows anymore. I’d rather spend big on Tanaka anyways. I kinda wish Cuba would have non-tendered Barney. But Alcantara should have 2B by June.

    1. FarmerTanColin

      I wish a lot of things upon Cuba.

      1. wvcubsfan

        I just wish I could get cigars from there.

        1. FarmerTanColin

          Maybe someone to play CF with power.

    2. wvcubsfan

      Not sure why that salary eliminates the Cubs.

      Not sure why they can’t sign Choo and Tanaka.

      Really not sure what non-tendering Barney would have done to help either of the above.

    3. BWA

      I highly doubt Alcantara is ready by June. If anyone it will be Baez. Alcantara had a great breakout year, but his double A stats don’t scream that he is ready right now.

      1. wvcubsfan

        I’m so glad I’m not the only one that doesn’t think he’s ready to take over for Barney just because he was an above average hitter at AA.

    4. Patrick W.

      Saw that tweet from Joel Sherman but I’m not convinced he’ll get the years. Maybe the AAV

  7. FarmerTanColin

    Interesting Samardijza to the Phillies. If the return includes Brown , Papelbon and other prospects while we could see some of our guys leaving. Then the Cubs signing Tanaka or Choo maybe. Team could get interesting.

    All said and done a good scouting system makes quality draft picks in the middle of the rounds. I think that’s where Wilken can shine so I’d say lets make some moves since we are already getting another top pick in next years draft.

  8. David

    Let’s assume the Yanks do not get any of the available starting pitchers – Garza, Tanaka, Arroyo, etc.. It may happen, and they desperately need starting pitchers. Let’s give them Shark for Mason Williams, Rafael De Paula & Gardner.

    This De Paula guy looks like a beast: 6’2″ – 210 lbs. 146 K’s in 113 innings in high A last year. Williams is a left handed OF #10 ranked OF in minors – we need one more run producing left hander in the middle of the lineup! Gardner will make Rizzo a lot better hitting in front of him – he’ll see a lot of fastballs. He’ll make Castro better seeing that he’ll be able to bat 6th or 7th – not 1st or 2nd. He makes $2.8MM now, he’ll be a free agent in 2015. Seems like a Choo at fraction of the cost.

    Not enough for Shark, perhaps? Throw in another arm??

    1. Dumpgobbler

      Not bad really. If we deal with the yanks, I’d like to try to grab Banuelos as well. Could be the perfect time to come in and swoop him up in a package.

    2. CC

      David – I wondered why we hadn’t heard a Shark to Yankees angle given they need two 200 innings guys. Not sure that is enough for Shark, but the Fister trade threw any comps out of whack for me. Barney could also be a piece.

      1. Dumpgobbler

        Honestly we should be looking for 2 top 100 mlb guys, probably one around 50 and one around 100 + a decent piece or two for Shark. It’s what we gave for Garza a few years ago and sounds about right for Shark.

        1. David

          Williams is #37 and DePaula is #99. Im a big fan of Gardner- love his speed. He’s 30 yrs old, I think he adds a lot of value in left field, especially when our infield will be so strong offensively when we’re good.

      2. MichiganGoat

        The Yanks have nothing we want. Their farm system is bad and their roster is old. We can get much better from a majority of teams.

        1. fromthemitten

          Gary Sanchez is the only one who I want and I doubt they’d give him up

        2. Luke

          Not sure I agree here. If the Yanks wanted Samardzija, they could put together a package for him. It would sap a lot of what is left in their farm system and the Cubs might take more quantity on the mound than the quality they’d prefer, but I think the Yankees could put together a deal we’d be happy with.

          1. David

            Luke- what do you know about that DePaula guy. That’s a lot of K’s/ inn. for a starter.

            1. Luke

              I’d be happy to have DePaula in the Cubs system.

          2. MichiganGoat

            It’s the quality vs quantity question that I believe limits the FO from dealing with the Yankees or other organizations. We want a top prospect not a bucket of good/decent prospect for Shark.

            1. Luke

              The Yankees don’t have the prime, nearly ready arms that the Cubs are thought to be prioritizing, but if the Cubs wanted a left handed hitting outfielder the Yankees aren’t a bad place to go shopping.

            2. David

              Olt and Barney for Barney? Yanks need a 3rd and 2nd baseman.

              1. Patrick W.

                I like it. Can’t have too many Barneys on the team especially if all they cost is a Barney. :)

                1. David

                  Whoops. Olt and Barney for Barney is what I meant. Probably not enough…

                  1. Patrick W.

                    Why throw in Olt? I am positive we can get Barney for Barney!

                    (I’m guessing your spellchecker changes Gardner to Barney?) ;)

  9. abe


    Here in the new york area people are saying Brett Gardner is going to be traded. Is this something the Cubs would be interested in? What would it take to get him? Barney plus what?

    1. Patrick G

      I would love Gardner but not sure what it would take to get him.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      I think that Gardner only works if you have a high slugging CFer to make up for Gardner’s lack of pop. Now, Gardner has good OBP due to a very good walk rate: he walks over 10% of his PAs. However, he K’s a lot, too: nearly 18% of his PAs.

      Quite frankly, I’d also be concerned about his longevity at Wrigley given the way he fields. He’s hurt himself on padded walls before: he might kill himself on a brick one.

  10. Kyel

    I could be wrong, but I thought one of the reporters quoted Epstein as saying the outfielder would be “to round out the bench” yesterday, not a starter.

    1. Eric

      That’s what I heard too. I came away underwhelmed by his statement.

  11. Die hard

    The one thing that will be true is Cubs 25 after this week will be significantly changed from the 25 today because FO feels the heat. Don’t discount Castro to Yankees in blockbuster

    1. abe

      What do the Yankees have to offer except Gardner? Thats not close to enough for Castro.

      1. Dumpgobbler

        I would consider dealing Castro to the Yanks for the right package of players. We’d have to hit them hard though. Sanchez, De Paula, Banuelos, and Hensley would look real appealing. A ton to give up so unlikely to happen. Any team that wants Castro I assume is looking for a buy low option, which I don’t think we should give at this point.

  12. Ivy Walls

    Choo + Fujikawa = Tanaka

    Choo is left handed and plays CF everyday, bat lead off and secures that position.

    Axford, plus Vizcaino, plus Strop plus Wright plus Fujikawa plus Parker or Grimm or Villanueva, plus Russell, = good bullpen,

    trade Russell during season and bring up Rosscup. Trade Parker and Villanueva and bring up better arms.

    Tanaka + Wood + Arrieta + Jackson + (Surprise me like Jimenez or big arm gained from Samardzija), mid season see Hendricks emerge pushing Jackson or Arrieta to the bullpen.

    1. FarmerTanColin

      I see the Edwin Jackson continuing to leave a very sour taste in my mouth. You cant predict the future but with a couple signings I really don’t want him “blocking” a prospect.

      His stuff would play well in a bullpen role though, that slider is siiick. When its on.

      1. wvcubsfan

        Try lifesavers, or maybe Orbitz gum

      2. baldtaxguy

        Sadly, I don’t believe he will be blocking any prospects any time soon. That said, I expect him to be very successful next season. I think we will see big benefits from Edwin with year 2 under Bosio.

        1. FarmerTanColin

          Hope you’re right. I know his advance metrics were better but something about him I see him more effective in the pen.

          Prospects I want to see that may get blocked if Jackson is the fifth starter which implies we pick up another starter and keep Shark.

          2014- Neil Ramirez, Kyle Hendricks,
          2015- CJ Edwards, Pierce Johnson, Vizcaino (maybe)

          1. Luke

            I don’t see either Ramirez or Hendricks breaking camp in the rotation. By the later half of the season I suspect at least one rotation slot will have opened up – one usually does for most teams – and they can slot one of those two in if they are ready.

          2. DocPeterWimsey

            Also, EJax is not the Cubs #5 starter. On any team, it is the #5 starter who might be blocking a pitching prospect. It’s the #5 starter that a signed FA is replacing. It’s the #5 starter that gets bumped to the bullpen after you make a big trade. That’s true if you get David Price, or if you get Dan Haren.

            Given that few teams have a #5 starter worth much, it’s very unusual for a rotation to be blocking anybody: and the Cubs are no exception here.

  13. Dumpgobbler

    You guys really want to sign Choo to a ridiculous contract? He’s not awesome defensively, and he’s pretty much a platoon guy. Albeit a lefty against righties, which is good. He’s good at the plate, but is also 31. I wanted him when he was 4/60ish range. but if hes going to get in the 120′s range.. no thanks.

  14. Brains

    i have to admit that i’m a bit mystified that choo might get a contract that high, but i was also mystified by the ellsbury contract. but not cano’s. that guy is amazing, whereas ellsbury has about 1.5 great seasons for his whole career and got nearly as much. i think the yanks messed up there. then again, if it’s a question about spending too much or being a laughingstock, which would you choose if money was no obstacle?

    1. Brains

      and btw, kemp would be an amazing veteran addition to the team. he’d energize the fan base, the younger players, and play very well at wrigley. in other words, he’d bring intangibles that we need very, very, very (add ten more verys) badly.

      1. Lou Brock

        Ned Colletti will not do the Cubs any favors. They are the last team he will do a deal with that would help them out. Ned still holds a serious grudge against the team that fired him .

  15. Cub Lew

    Excuse me for my potential ignorance, seeing as I haven’t been reading as closely as I’d like as of late, but have the Mariners been mentioned or shown any interest in a trade for Shark?

    In my eyes that alligns pretty well with both parties.

  16. bbfan

    why is scott baker not mentioned as a possible starter for the cubs this year? Has he signed somewhere else? Has he been reinjured?

    1. baldtaxguy

      I believe he remains unsigned.

    2. ClevelandCubsFan
  17. ClevelandCubsFan

    Spit balling that he’s exploring options, the Cubs have an open line with him, and they have a general sense of where the other stands.

    1. baldtaxguy

      You mean Baker, eh? I would hope for the same. I’m rooting for the guy, and I’d like to see him get back to where he was – and I hope its with the Cubs.

  18. JBarnes

    MLBTRADERUMORS just had an article saying that Ellsburys contract is a “guidepost” for Choo and that he’s looking at something between Werths $126M contract and Ellsburys $153M contract. I love the kind of player he is but for $125M+ and 7yrs I wouldn’t touch him.

    1. Brains

      yeah for a 32 year old contact hitter, that’s just out of site. and this coming from the guy who’s been bullish about spending 200m on cano.

      1. Luke

        I’m not sure Choo is just a contact hitter. Not a lot of contact hitters out there with a career OPS+ of 134 or who have hit 20 or more home runs in three of the last 5 years.

  19. Die hard

    Castro to Yanks for 3 minor leaguers say Judge Bird and Katoh?

    1. Carew

      Trading a 24 year old that still has high potential for 3 players that could bust? Hell no.

    2. Luke

      Judge can’t be traded yet, Bird doesn’t impress me, and I’m not familiar with Katoh.

      Now if you had said Williams, DePaula, and Banuelos I’d be more interested.

      1. Die hard

        Yankees need to make WS this year and next to justify signings and are desperate enough to fix IF and get one more starter ….Castro gloss has worn thin as well as Jackson- package them for Yanks 6 best prospects whoever they may be works for me

        1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          Um, they are losing over $25 million from not having to pay ARod for the year. That is where this “found” money is coming from.

          1. Luke

            It’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees do if they lose the ARod case and wind up on the hook for all or at least a large chunk of that salary. It certainly seems like they are planning like it won’t be there.

            1. Die hard

              Wonder if ARod has no trade clause which could hurt Yanks if lose case

              1. Luke

                He’s a ten five guy isn’t he?

                1. Die hard

                  If so Arbitrator may have leeway to rule that Yankees lose but in the best interest of baseball ARod has to waive rights so Yankees can part ways

                2. JulioZuleta

                  Yeah, he’s 10/5, but there’s a 100% chance A-Rod would accept a trade to any team in MLB. Pretttty clear there are some big issues between him and the organization. I’m rooting for him to win.

                  1. Luke

                    Now… what team would want him and massive amount of media baggage he brings with his declining performance and health concerns?

                    My vote would be Miami. Fans might buy tickets just to boo the guy, but at least they’d be buying tickets.

                    1. Die hard

                      He could end up back in Seattle as long Yanks pay 95% of salary and only costs low draft choice

                    2. Luke

                      Throwing the ARod Soap Opera into the Seattle front office drama? Wow…

                      I don’t know what the baseball would be like, but that’d be a really interesting read when the tell-all books come out a decade later.

                  2. JulioZuleta

                    There’s only 1 team I could see, and obviously the Yankees would have to be willing to eat about 90% of the contract: Miami. He’s a huge UMiami donor (even though he didn’t go there…weird dude), and Loria would probably love the attention. Also, could be a nice place for A-Rod to quietly chase Bonds HR record without all the pressue, and of course the MArlins would love to soak up some of the marketing(?) from that. I don’t know, would anything A-Rod related be marketable at this point? I feel like an all-time HR chase might still be, not that he’s likely to get there by any stretch.

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      You’re probably right it would be the perfect place for him to sit back and relax while he chases the record, and yes that’s the only place that would want him.

                    2. ClevelandCubsFan

                      Actually a good idea.

                    3. Die hard

                      Unless Tigers nervous without Fielder production may want him to 3B and DH

                    4. LWeb22

                      Huge donor indeed. The U named their baseball field after him. And ironically enough, the Biogenesis lab is literally across the street from it . Lol

    3. ClevelandCubsFan

      No way. Even if theCubs wanted to trade him they’d have every reason to wait. Improving defense. Batting numbers poised to go up. No log jams until mid season at best.

  20. Sacko

    Barney has a little trade value and considering Valbuena, Watkins, Murphy are ready replacements… Any pessimism about Baez being able to replace Barney in July: even if he hit a Barney .200, which he won’t, he would still hit 3 times the RBI’s

  21. baldtaxguy

    I’m not sure Papelbon could cope with closing for the Cubs, given his comments about the Phillies last season.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Ryno will fix him ;)

  22. Blackhawks1963

    Choo is going to get $120-150 million. I don’t see that making sense for the Cubs. And I’ll assume that Choo wants to win right now, meaning Detroit, Texas and San Francisco all make much better sense. Plus Baltimore and Seattle have interest.

  23. JulioZuleta

    I don’t understand the tendency of people to say “The Phillies?!?” or “The Yankees?!?” or “The (Insert any team)?!?” “They don’t have anything we want for Samardzija (or whatever play you want to say).”

    To say teams don’t match up well is fine. To say that the Yankees or Phillies or Angels couldn’t put a package together to acquire Jeff Samardzija is insane. If a team was willing to include a large enough package of MLB and minor league talent, any team could acquire any individual player, mmaayybbee with a few exceptions, but I’d be surprised.

    1. BWA

      Exception: Mike Trout

      1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Agreed. I think it goes without saying Shark is no Trout.

        1. fatoldhippie


      2. MichiganGoat

        I do wonder what kind of package a team would have to put together to get the Angels to even listen to a Trout trade. Would we be willing to trade Baez, Bryant, and Edwards for Trout? I think it might take more than that.

        1. JulioZuleta

          I’d say quite a bit more, but obviously, if we put together enough players, we could get it done.

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          The package would have to include pictures of family members, and probably some hacked off fingers to boot.

        3. BWA

          We could probably land trout. If we only throw in prospects I think it would take the big 4 plus Edwards and johnson. But it could be done.

          1. Luke

            I’m not so sure. Trout is a 10 WAR guy even before he hits his prime. That’s going to be really, really tough to match up to in a trade.

            1. JulioZuleta

              Yeah, I mean obviously it would never happen, and I clearly I wouldn’t want the Cubs to offer the necessary package, but they could certainly get it done. Top 8 prospects, Castro and Samardzija. Hah. Throw in Rizzo if you need. Done. No chance any team, especially the one with the worst farm system in the last 10 years, could turn it down.

      3. JulioZuleta

        There mmiigghhtt be a couple of teams that couldn’t Trade for Trout.

    2. MichiganGoat

      You’re probably correct but realistically these teams just don’t match and the package they’d have to present would be very lopsided in our favor.

    3. DocPeterWimsey

      I think that you would commonly be surprised, then. Most GMs know that quantity does not come close to quality. If Trade A nets you 5 WAR from 5 players and Trade B nets you 5 WAR from 1 player, then even though it superficially appears that both trades are equal, they aren’t: chances are really good that Trade B plus four other players are going to generate 5+ wins.

      Now, sometimes teams get dumb about this: it appears that Detroit probably passed over better deals than they got for Fister because they obsessed with acquiring a particular player. However, *most* of the time, smart FOs are going to reject quantity in favor of quality.

      1. JulioZuleta

        Of course a 5WAR player is more valuable than 5 1 WAR players. I just find it hard to believe that any one player is essentially, more valuable in trade than an entire franchise. There may be extreme cases like for a 22 year old player like Trout. Definitely not for a guys like Samardzija.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The issue is not entire franchises: nobody trades that. The issue is your assumption that, in the end, if Team A has a valuable player, then any Team B could ultimately get that player with quantity rather than quality. That simply isn’t true.

  24. Rebuilding

    Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. I’m just spitballing here because I don’t feel like looking it up but I thought I had read that each ticket to a MLB game is the equivalent of $68 in revenue (with concessions etc…). Lets say signing Tanaka and Choo keeps us interesting enough to get our attendance back up 500,000 people. That’s $35 million and also prob gets you a bigger TV contract for the WGN portion. Spending $20 million a year on each could possibly pay for itself.

    Ok, I’ll put the blue kool-aid down

    1. Luke

      I’m guessing the front office has been running numbers like those a lot as they plan their post season approaches. That doesn’t mean they’ll make a signing, but it is a valid data point.

    2. woody

      I’m with you on that one. If the FO sits on their hands and do nothing then ticket sales could fall even farther that last year. It seems that we need a face for the franchise. Waiting for Baez or Bryant or possibly Rizzo is risky. I think a high profile veteran would take the spotlight off of these young players. I don’t see the merit of having those guys come up with overwhelming expectations to beat them down. Maybe Baez and Bryant have the mental makeup to handle all the lofty expectations, but to look to those guys to be the salvation is risky. We need a 30+ HR 100+ RBI guy to replace the production lost in the Soriano trade. Maybe Rizzo becomes that guy this year. But that still doesnt replace the production that was lost in that deal. I’m hoping that Lake and Castro can pick up the slack and make up for that loss. But realistically an upgrade at second base is best thing we can do moving forward. But watch Barney go on a tear and hit .300 the first half of the season. Never know!

    3. ClevelandCubsFan

      500,000 seems high though. 250,000 if we’re a .500-ish team?

      1. Scotti

        The Cubs ticket SALES were 691,197 short of 100% (or 79.3%) last year (no shows were in the hundreds of thousands on top of that). The Cubs lost 240,074 in ticket sales year-to-year from 2012 (86.5%) to 2013 (79.3%). That was with a better W-L record (2013 over 2012) and bringing in a mid-level free agent during the 2013 off-season (Jackson).

        But the Cubs will lose MORE ticket sales in 2014 if they produce the same (or similar) win-loss record and–more importantly–don’t give the fan base (during this off-season) a reason to think that 2014 promises to be a better season (the majority of tickets sold are sold before the season begins).

        So, standing pat doesn’t mean they head into 2014 at 79.3% capacity. They’re looking at 79.3% – _____??? So does standing pat mean another 200,000 fewer tickets sold? Another 300,000 fewer? How many of those no-shows finally give up? How many more turn into no-shows?

        So, even with just the same lost ticket sales as they had last year (again, 240,074), a “turnaround” of 250,000 could actually mean 490,074 more fans buy tickets than WOULD HAVE bought tickets in 2014. Stopping the hemorrhaging is job #1. Bringing back some of the losses–even just 250k–is gravy.

  25. David

    Does anyone know how the winter meetings are physically setup???? Does each team’s representatives have their own room in the hotel? Each agent have their own room? Are they all in one large room in separate corners?

    1. Luke

      Roughly speaking – there is a room for press conferences, a room for the media to charge their laptops and type up their stories, rooms for various committees and other meetings that take place in the background, and a whole lotta suites containing team reps, agents, and so forth.

      The actual dealing, so far as I understand, largely takes place in private meetings in those suites. Sometimes it’ll spill out into hallways or the bar/lounge/eatery areas, but it is mostly stuff that occurs behind closed doors.

      I’m not sure where the media lurk, or if they just kick back by the pool and wait for their contacts to send them emails.

    2. ClevelandCubsFan

      What would it take for us to fund-raise Brett to crash the winter meetings and do a 96 hour blogathon?

      1. Luke

        He’d probably have to get credentialed first, and that’s not easy.

  26. calicubsfan007

    Hey, I am sure that someone knows this, but what happened to Dillon Maples? Is he healthy? I mean, the last I heard of him, was about him recovering from his injury.

    1. Luke

      He was last seen pitching in relief for Boise this summer. He had some command issues as he reworked his delivery with Kane County, but those were starting to diminish with Boise.

      Ceiling is still high, stuff is still good, but he’s about a year behind where we thought he would be at this stage.

      1. calicubsfan007

        Thanks Luke.

    2. AdamAE24
      1. Luke

        My bad. He did start his last 9 of 10 games with Boise.

      2. calicubsfan007

        Thanks Adam, that makes me feel a little better about the prospect.

  27. TommyK

    You talk about potentially being a .500 team as if it isn’t a worthwhile goal. I think being a .500 team next season would be excellent for the organization. Another 90 win season could be disastrous. Attendance will plummet, as will TV and radio numbers. That hurts the value of your contracts and all that new advertising. Yes fans will come back when the team starts winning, but some of the damage will already be done by then. If you could just go close to .500 next season, people start to see that the plan is working. You don’t have to go to the playoffs next season. Just show some progress and people will start to get interested again. So if signing Choo, Axford, and Tanaka gets you close to .500 in 2014, I think that’s worth quite a bit.

  28. woody

    Can’t believe how many people that want to throw Castro under the bus. If it was only Castro that regressed I would be inclined to lean in that direction. But seeing as Dale helped him and Barney and possibly Rizzo I have to believe that the methods used or something was really screwed up. Seems like when Rudy Jamarillo left things started going to hell. I hope Mueller can do better.

    1. Pat

      I don’t understand why Dale takes all the blame for messing up Castro. Unless I’m mistaken, it was the front office that decided (correctly in my opinion) that he needed to try to change his approach. To me, it seems like a case of shooting the messenger.

      1. Scotti

        Pat, regardless of whether it was Dale or Thed who pushed it, spending half of 2012 and half of 2013 is a full year of messing with a guy who was a career .307 hitter when they started the process. It was obvious a long time before they had finished whatever they were doing was wrong for this particular player. In their search for a hitting coach they even said that he needs to be able to relate to all styles of hitting because not everyone is alike. Was this a lesson THEY learned or something they think Dale lacked???

        FWIW, they weren’t JUST trying to get him to “be more selective” or “wait for his pitch.” they were messing with the mechanics of his swing. Not bright.

    2. calicubsfan007

      I would give Castro a year to redeem himself Woody. If he regresses further, then cut him loose.

      1. Die hard

        If he comes to camp with extra 20 lbs of upper body muscle to help reach 35 hrs each yr than he’s worth keeping

        1. Luke

          Shortstops don’t need to hit 35 home runs to be valuable.

  29. Eric

    I hate to be one of these people, but if you look at a lineup like this:

    Choo CF
    Baez 2B
    Rizzo 1B
    Kemp RF
    Bryant 3B
    Sheirholtz LF
    Castro SS
    Castillo C
    Tanaka, Shark, Wood, Jackson,

    …things get mighty interesting.

    1. Luke

      Nothing wrong with that. You’re probably looking at mid 2015 for that lineup (Bryant likely won’t be up much before then), but that has the potential to be decent.

      I like the idea of trying to trade Samardzija for Skaggs and Eaton, slotting Eaton into center with Choo in left and Skaggs in Shark’s slot in the rotation.

      1. Eric

        I’ve always liked Easton. Seems like he plays the game the right way. What do you think it would take to get Kemp?

        1. Eric


        2. Luke

          No clue what it would take to get Kemp. I’m hoping we get some leaks on that end of things soon.

          1. Rebuilding

            What’s interesting about Kemp is that, even though people think the Dodgers don’t care about money, everything I’ve heard is that it’s mainly a salary dump. Of course taking on that contract is huge injury risk because it just seems that he’s brittle. But when healthy he’s MVP caliber. Also, he’s a nice guy and a snappy dresser – he and Tommy Lasorda come into Mia Francesca every time the Dodgers are in town

            1. Brains

              shark and olt for kemp!

      2. macpete22

        Yeah, not bad. Except Kemp would probably be in CF and Choo in LF.

    2. calicubsfan007

      I agree with the 2015 assessment, especially since I think Olt would be given a chance for 3rd baseman first.

  30. Danny B

    My offseason wishlist:

    Bronson Arroyo at < 3yrs
    Barney doesn't get traded
    Tanaka & Suk Min-Yoon. I'm not much for predicting contracts- it's all monopoly money to me- maybe the Cubs drop 150 mil this offseason?
    Hollandsworth named radio announcer. His post game wraps are insightful with very little b.s.- sounds like an intelligent dude, too.
    And some combination of F.A.'s (Inge, Janish, E. Johnson, G. Jones, Polanco?) that can allow for Castro and Rizzo to rest a little bit. I felt one of Sveum's biggest downfalls was not knowing when to bench a slumping hitter.

    Hoping for 2 of those to happen this week to help ease the tension of the oncoming season. Plausible?

    I'm one of those 'read everything on the site every day but rarely ever post' guys…and thank you Brett and Luke for your coverage. It's my go-to site for anything Cubs and you guys seem like fair-minded and loyal fans. I have also learned a lot about advanced stats between the articles and the message boards. Keep up the great work guys.

    1. rockin' dawg

      No offense but I’m going to be rooting against your first two wishes!

      1. Danny B

        Understandable, I’m a bit biased toward Barney, although he is early on in arbitration, and I don’t think he’d bring much of a return. I personally think he’s a better hitter than last year indicated, though, but I don’t have any hard data to back that up. Hope he rebounds.

        I do like Arroyo though. He has a ton of experience (AL/NL, postseason) and is very durable. If the Cubs ink another Maholm-type deal this winter, I hope it’s him.

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