The Momentum of the Winter Meetings and Other Bullets

winter meetings 2013The late nights and early mornings (and nights punctuated by a baby who needs soothed and a toddler who needs told to get back into bed) have finally gotten to me. I purchased a bunch of those coffee k-cup things – some Starbucks variation that was on sale, to be precise – and I’m going to choke down this coffee so-help-me-God, and then I’m going to feel like I can fly. Eventually you get used to taste of bark and burnt chicken skin, right?

  • The Winter Meetings start tomorrow, and, although the past week has been so ridiculously full of activity that it would be impossible for the normally-active meetings to match it, Theo Epstein tells Jesse Rogers that it’s still expected to be active: “It’s important to have people around you reminding you it’s important to do the right deal not just to do a deal. There’s deal momentum at the Winter Meetings unlike anything you’ve ever seen before so it’s important to make sure you keep your perspective.” I guess other GMs are like some Cubs fans, shouting “DO SOMETHING!” from across the hall.
  • Murphy’s Bleachers, a popular bar on Sheffield across from Wrigley Field (and home to a rooftop business – Beth Murphy frequently speaks on rooftop-related issues), made a terrible mistake yesterday (well, more accurately, a person working at Murphy’s made a terrible mistake), putting up on its placard that folks should “remember Pearl Harbor with bombs and kamikazes.” You don’t need me to explain the thoughtlessness and offensiveness of that sign, and a well-done to Paul Sullivan for noticing and publicizing the sign. That link also includes an apology from Murphy.
  • More from Theo Epstein (by way of Tony Andracki) on Arodys Vizcaino, Kyle Hendricks, and Kris Bryant. We’ve read these things before, but Andracki provides a little more context and quote volume. Your excitement level on each of the three should increase slightly, though your belief that Hendricks or Bryant will see any time in the big leagues in 2014 should tick down slightly (for appropriate reasons).
  • Scott Feldman says something we’ve thought about Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio for a couple years now: he’s good. The former Cubs starter credits Bosio with his breakout season in 2013. I don’t know to what extent bringing Bosio into the organization was Dale Sveum’s idea versus the front office’s, but it’s possible that Bosio will be Sveum’s enduring positive legacy.

Warning: super long meta piece to follow, which will require outside reading to fully understand. But if you ever participate in, or even read, the comments, you should read this. There’s a little naughty language at the end. Felt necessary.

I have mentioned at times that among the great influences for this site is the inimitable MGoBlog, one of the few large, independent sports blogs still going strong. For a variety of reasons both intentional and cosmic, the growth curve of your Cubs home has tracked the development of that site and of the University of Michigan athletic program (mostly football – seriously: from a blog-type-thing obsessiveness standpoint, the Epstein/Hoyer GM search was a carbon copy of Michigan’s coaching search back in 2007, which landed on Rich Rodriguez (hopefully Epstein and Hoyer are given more than three years to do their thing – but, once again, as a Michigan fan, I can tell you there are considerable parallels in terms of rebuilding, patience, and eventual meatball rebellion)).

We’ve always been about three to four years behind that curve, so it was with great interest that I reviewed Brian Cook’s recent “State of the Site” at MGoBlog. There’s a whole lot of that going on around here, which is to say there are certain things that – despite folks sighing about any particularized problems with the community here – eventually happen in every single large Internet community since people were writing ‘Full House’ fan fiction on early-90s bulletin boards (“You always censor anyone who doesn’t agree that Joey should stick with comedy!”). This is especially true when the thing for which folks have gathered to discuss is going crappily.

For those who are into the meta of sites like this and the community aspect, and especially for those of you who feel the comments here have devolved into a constant pissing contest, I would encourage you to read the section entitled “The Issue.” Brian’s description of the balance between a blog’s content and its community is pretty much spot on. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to take things as far as Brian does in the ensuing section laying out a solution, but, as I have in the past, I’m definitely taking some cues from him.

Summing it up? (1.) I have a pretty good asshole-detector. (2.) I’m tired of a tiny percentage of people being assholes here under the auspices of my longstanding hands-off approach to letting folks say whatever they want. (3.) Stop being an asshole, because you’re harming things for everyone else. (4.) I’d rather get rid of assholes, and be labeled the kinds of things you get labeled when you boot people from a community (right or wrong), than allow the assholes to ruin the comments for the other 99% of people who participate in or merely silently enjoy the comments.

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

258 responses to “The Momentum of the Winter Meetings and Other Bullets”

  1. BobA

    Thanks for saying that Brett. I’ve been reading for a couple of years and almost never comment. I’ve enjoyed the banter back and forth between posters over that time, even when I don’t agree with their viewpoint. Lately, however, there seem to be illogical rants and blasting of people that have an opposite viewpoint. I don’t envy your position as owner and developer of this site, but I sure do appreciate your work!


    1. Wilbur

      Agreed …

  2. BobA

    Also, Is bark and burnt chicken skin a new Starbucks flavor? Sounds good

    1. JB88

      Toasted cinnamon and cracklings sounds delightful :)

  3. SoCal Cubs Fan

    Well said Brett!

  4. Brains

    i wax and wane on this. there’s a difference between those who are unhappy with the team, and those who attack other posters. that line is often blurred in the minds of posters, leading to the former.

    yet on the other hand it takes strong language for people to notice and respond to comments. diplomatic talk goes either ignored or merely insulted. but strong language isn’t insulting, it’s discomfiting.

    but on the other hand strong language can make the blog seem like it bites the hand that feeds it – a business organization that the blog is devoted to. so i’ve trailed off my approach lately on the most part, because i really like this blog and want it to be successful and not on the shitlist of the team.

    then again, i think the team is acting in bad faith and with some degree of incompetence. the “plan” isn’t a plan at all as much as a PR initiative to stall time for whatever reason. the team itself is worse than before, not better. like i said the other day, if Brett wasn’t making money here he’d deserve a humanitarian award for dealing with crankpots like us.

  5. abe

    Best Cubs website ever!!

    1. Rockthawk


  6. YourResidentJag

    Pretty damning article about the Mariners and a MUST READ for any Cubs fan:

    1. Brains

      i think this is pretty different than the cubs. i think the owners don’t want to invest until they have guaranteed profit lines. and theo doesn’t want to do anything unless it’s absolutely perfect and 100% in the cubs advantage. problem is the real world isn’t perfect and he’s bound to have to give up a little, be it salary or prospects, to get a little. he’s too invested in total victory or bust, and it’s led to this constant deferment. sounds like seattle was a power grab that went poorly for everyone.

    2. mjhurdle

      very interesting article. thanks for linking that.
      If that is true, the Mariners are going to continue to be a train wreck, regardless fo the Cano signing.

    3. Cheese Chad

      Yeah read this last night, lots of chatter in that mariners clubhouse. A couple of years ago there was a lot of talk around the league that teams didn’t like the crazy contracts. People thought they might stop. Now they still happen but folks in the organization are speaking up about it.

    4. YourResidentJag

      Looks like Jack Z isn’t as sabremetric as once thought.

  7. Brent

    I too read the comments frequently, but rarely post, because I don’t care to join the pissing contests that seem to happen more and more. Many posters are fine, and I don’t care to paint with too broad a brush, but the douchebaggery content seems to be rising proportionally with the losses (in-season as well as offseason). You can never get rid of all of it, and being part of an Internet community means subjecting oneself to that type of commentary, but I still applaud the efforts! Regardless, this is still one of the 2 or 3 sites I visit multiple times daily. Keep up the great work, Brett!

  8. RoughRiider

    “Bark & burnt chicken skin” is about the way I feel about the taste too. I’ve never understood the attraction to Starbucks coffee.

    As for the rest. I agree with SoCal. Well said !

    1. cavemencubbie

      You got it right rough rider! So much today is hype and BS, what we call advertising.

  9. Eric

    I knew it I’m surrounded by assholes. Keep firing (those rumor speculations) assholes!

    1. Professional High A


    2. Eric

      This guy should not be confused with me.

    3. Chris S


      Whenever I hear that word, I think of the scene from Airplane!

      “He’s all over the place! Nine hundred feet up to 1300 feet. What an asshole!”

      Makes me laugh..

      On a more serious note: Thanks, as always Brett, for the work you do.

  10. Norm

    Aholes must come out at night?

    1. CubFan Paul

      Nope, you’re on time :)

  11. OCCubFan

    Brett, bring on the banhammer—please!

    If it is technically feasible, I like the idea of voting on comments and then having them grayed out.

  12. Soda Popinski

    Yes, Brett! The assholishness in the community is nauseating.

  13. cpmliveanddiecubs

    I’ve never commented although I read your articles AND comments every day.. to have a clear picture on any topic you need to look at every single possible outlook and consider it. At the same time if you begin bashing others who share a different opinion then this becomes no better then how people view politics…. nobody wants that haha

  14. Frank

    This is the best cubs site. I have enjoyed it for over two years. I enjoy the different viewpoints. I appreciate your efforts to keep it respectable.

  15. Soda Popinski

    I read last night (rant sports) that the Mariners and Shark make a lot of sense for a trade. They suggested the trade be centered around either Paxton and/or Hultzen. Any thoughts on these two guys? I don’t know much about Paxton, save that he has good stuff for a lefty but has lacked effectiveness lately. And I know Hultzen was considered the best lefty in the minors until his shoulder injury- which might keep him out the entirety of 2014.

    1. CubFan Paul

      Theo&Co aren’t trading their best trade chip that they’ve had here for injury concerns or soft tossers (Skaggs).

      Any deal with Seattle would have to include Walker.

      1. CF

        Seattle isn’t going to give up Walker for Samardzija. There’s plenty of talk here in Seattle that the Mariners wouldn’t be willing to give up Walker in a 1-for-1 trade for Price.

        Paxton, despite strong numbers in his major league debut last fall, isn’t a very strong prospect to carry a Samardzija deal on his own. Paxton has had major control issues coming up. He’s generally thought of as a #3 type starter. Hultzen is a little higher end prospect, but probably won’t pitch next year due to TJ surgery (and therefore is unlikely to be traded). The Mariners do have a few pretty good looking pitching prospects a little further away (e.g. Victor Sanchez, an 18-year old who posted a strong year in A ball).

        I might be willing to do a Paxton/Sanchez/Dustin Ackley package for Samardzija, but only after the Cubs determine that other team’s high end pitching prospects aren’t available.

        1. CubFan Paul

          “Seattle isn’t going to give up Walker for Samardzija”

          Why? Not in *any deal*?

          The Cubs aren’t accepting a broken down package for their high-end starter.

          1. CF

            Why? Because they view 6 years of Walker as significantly more valuable than 2 years of Samardzjia, and they’re probably right. I agree that the Cubs can do better than Paxton, etc., but it doesn’t mean Seattle is going to give up Walker. It means that a Shark deal with Seattle won’t happen unless the Cubs reach a point that they have to trade him and Seattle makes the best offer.

            1. CubFan Paul

              It wouldn’t be a 1 for 1 trade obviously…

              1. CF

                Understood, but if Seattle decides to trade Walker, I’ve got to think they’re going to use him to get Price, not to get a #2 – 3 starter.

                1. CubFan Paul

                  Are they going to give Price $240M too?

  16. Ron

    As someone who made it through college without the boost of coffee but later turned to the dark elixor to maintain my sanity I can relate. I still avoid most Starbucks stuff and think “bark and burnt chicken skin” could be the best description I have ever read of it. Keep up the good work Ace, don’t let the few a@@holes get you down.

    1. Fishin Phil

      Yes, Starbucks over-roasts most of their blends leading to the nickname “Charbucks”. Ace, if you ever decide you’d like to try some real coffee let me know, I will hook you up with a friend that roasts his own.

  17. Gcheezpuff

    Brett, you should try Dunkin Donuts coffee instead of Starbucks bitter blend. Dunkin coffee is the stuff dreams are made of. I drink it with just a little skim milk now, but if you don’t really like the taste of coffee order it with cream and sugar and you won’t be disappointed. I am pretty sure crack is the main ingredient in the cream they use. When I want to treat myself I still order it with cream on occasion. I also agree that your site is better asshole free.

    1. Cedlandrum

      People always talk about Dunkin Donuts coffee and I must say I don’t get it, not a fan.

  18. Cheese Chad

    Well said Brett.

  19. walterj

    I come here several times a day for about a year and a half now , but rarely comment . It used to be where I enjoyed the discussions in the comments , but lately I just read the articles and move on .Trying to find the interesting and intelligent comments buried under all the hate and wisecracks is starting to get difficult . I’m hoping things get back to old normal again .

  20. Cheese Chad

    I did think of Team America a little bit with all the talk of assholes.

  21. Clark Addison

    On other sites there is an ignore function to keep the assholes out of sight. Here, there are a few whose posts I never read because I know what’s coming and it’s predictable venom spewing. We all know who they are. Bring down the hammer, Brett. This site is too good to let the assholes ruin it.

  22. Deacon

    To get back to the Theo comments I see he said the following on Hendricks: “I still think there are things for him to work on in Triple-A. We talked to him about some of those and his player-development plan still has a few boxes to check.”

    What are those things? He has pinpoint control, a great plan for pitching and one of the best ERA’s in the minors. Aside from maybe more innings since he just got to AAA, I’m kind of at a loss as to what he still needs to work on? It’s not like he can just find velocity in the offseason.

    1. Kyle

      The scouting reports I’ve heard have whispers that his command and consistency isn’t *as* good as it could be. He’s still a bit of a “throw it down the middle to avoid walks” guy, and that won’t work as well in the big leagues.

    2. JeffR

      Maybe they feel like some of his secondary stuff can improve a little. It’s easier to work on them in the minors so why not let him stay down and work on them for a half season.

  23. Kyle

    Part of Epstein’s job is to hype prospects. I remain quite skeptical of Vizcaino’s ability to contribute without getting hurt when the last actual news was him being pulled out of formal action and punted down to a throwing schedule in Arizona.

  24. Internet Random

    “Eventually you get used to taste of bark and burnt chicken skin, right?”

    You know where I stand on this.

    As for the other, +1.

  25. Stinky Pete

    Welcome to the club, Brett. I hope this means a BN coffee mug will be offered soon. But I have to ask, cream and sugar? Or did you enjoy your coffee the way God intended it to be?

  26. austin hansen

    what are the witner meetings all about?

  27. 20kman

    if people here are upset about negative cub stuff this is nothing compared to the cubs message board at the team gets ripped all day long and the real cub fans are humiliated on a daily basis.

    at least here we can all live in a fantasy world that the cubs might win someday

  28. cavemencubbie

    Hey Brett! I can tolerate assholes. Just think, everyone has one!! :) What irritates me most are the ones who think someone owes them a living, and are still little children like those two who keep you up at night. Those little ones need to be held and cuddled but when they reach the age when they can read, write and reason, they need to grow up and fend for themselves.

    1. D.G.Lang

      Yes, they are like opinions, everyone has one and most of them are full of smelly stuff.

  29. Eric

    I really liked Theo’s candidness in that spot. Yes, he wants to be out there wheeling and dealing and building the club, but he knows we aren’t ready. The Sox won the WS because of homegrown talent that was supplemented by free agents. The Yankees are trying to do the opposite. My money is on the Sox for long term success.

    1. Kyle

      All teams try to build with homegrown prospects supplemented with free agents. The amount of free agents they need is just inversely proportional to how much success they’ve had developing players.

      1. Eric

        The Dodgers and Yankees are perfect examples of that just not being true. The Cubs during the Hendry era are another example.

        1. TK

          Didnt the Dodgers have several homegrown guys last year? And didnt they trade other homegrown talent the last few years to end up with last years team?

          The Yanks . . . how much money do spend per WS win? No Thanks!

          1. TK

            I count guys like Puig as homegrown. Hes no different than any other kid from latin america, like Soler, Castro, etc…

        2. Kyle

          The Dodgers farm system has been excellent and contributed quite a bit to their success.

          Too many lazy fans think that spending money must mean you aren’t trying or succeeding in your farm system without really knowing what they are talking about.

        3. Edwin

          The Dodgers, Yankees, and the “Hendry Era” cubs all had big contributions from their farms system. They also spent money in FA to acquire impact talent, or to fill holes on the current roster. That’s what good teams do.

          I think this idea that spending in free agency = not caring about the farm is overblown. Even with Jim Hendry’s spending, the Cubs had a top 10 farm system before the Garza trade. SO it’s not like a team can’t spend wisely in FA and have a good farm system at the same time.

  30. SteveGA

    I’ve been reading this site for a few years and not commented but I need to say now that I really appreciate Brett and the fervent research he does to bring anything related to the team into one place for all of us who love the Chicago Cubs. I have been disappointed of late with all of the opinion bashers and have stopped taking the time to read all comments because of that. I was especially disappointed in the people bashing Brett for his administration of the site. I can tell you this….in business we seek several opinions when making a decision because we want to hear all aspects of a topic to ensure we do the right thing. If everybody had the same opinion, there would be a lot of bad decisions. So I encourage people to give a fresh view on any topic and discourage people from bashing those opinions because there is something you can learn from each.

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