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. RotoChamp

    Brett- You’re not an asshole if you get rid of the assholes. Keep up the great work!

    1. Boogens

      Absolutely agree. Also, I trust Brett’s judgement completely in deciding whether or not someone’s an asshole. Wield that ban-hammer as you like, Brett.

  2. mudge

    Brett, good idea. I read all your articles here but ceased reading comments and commenting a few months ago. It got to feel like swimming in sewage. You’re a decent thoughtful guy and it can’t be easy being exposed to this crap on a daily basis. Most of us commenters, but especially you, deserve better.

  3. Brains

    this is quickly becoming a meta-discussion about life in general

  4. baldtaxguy

    Love the site. Assholeness is getting easier to detect and ignore.

  5. Ivy Walls

    It is a snarly time, opinions are held strong because there is little to challenge them outside another perspective that is subjective.

    Regardless of pre determined timetables, those who are called up or not called will be based on actions performed on the field of play. It is why Auburn is in the National Championship game and OSU is not.

    Sports is not like American Idle where a few expert opinions rule, what rules is the outcome of a competitive game.

    1. Brains

      this is an interesting post – i’ve noticed the same thing, things get weird when there’s little rational data to work with. people refer either to stats or projections, or faults in business operations (brains), or to other teams, or historical precedent…because…

      the usual rules of baseball have been suspended for the team. they’re purposefully not improving the mlb squad, and these applications are specific to competitive goals. what happens when a team stops trying to compete in sports? this blog’s comments board.

      1. Brains

        in other words, Brett, the comments are entirely symptomatic of the situation. once people are optimistic things would go back to projections and analysis. but when the rules of the game are put on hold other approaches, such as speculation and meta-arguments about the ethics of baseball management, come out. and while everyone surely agrees that the cubs must win the world series, and soon, there’s little agreement about how to approach generalities about baseball per se…

      2. aaronb

        Gotta agree with Brains here. It’s tough to be optimistic and care about this team when ownership doesn’t seem to care. It makes things feel like they fall into two distinct camps.

        That said Brett does and fantastic job with the site. And I think most of us really appreciate it.

        1. Spoda17

          Not to speak for Brett, but it’s not about being optimistic, or “you must agree with the FO,” it’s the way people comment. To disagree with someone is perfectly fine, to turn it into a personal attack it something else.

    2. Ivy Walls

      As for the real stuff, Vizcaino was shut down when it was deemed he was healthy for ST and is slated to be in the bullpen for 2014. I am expecting the bullpen to be the best part of the club next year.

      With Vizcaino they have real talent in the pen, yes young, and brittle but talent no less. Flanking him and placing him in the right role around Strop, Grimm, Parker, Russell, Fujikawa, Wright, & Villanueva plus other arms in reserve, actually this eight so there will be some blood letting.

      Bryant will be challenged to see how he adjusts to how the professional game will attack him, but you have got to think that he and Hendricks will be in the Show sometime in the summer months.

      1. willis

        The news is great about Vizcaino but we all really need to temper expectations. I think he’ll get a bunch of time (if he gets through ST healthy) in AA or AAA to get some real game action and see how his body responds. He shows well there, then he’ll get a sniff up top and make a few appearances. If he’s pitching, this year is about keeping him healthy, and if he shows he can, you let him loose next season and allow him to compete for set up or the closer role. I do agree though, the only strength this team has is the pen, especially if they add Axford to it. Which I would because Fuji is a huge question mark and Vizcaino needs to be babied along.

  6. Bilbo161

    Agree whole heartedly with that last paragraph. People need to lighten up.

    Also don’t think using Pearl Harbor Day as a marketing tool is a good idea, but it is not a hate crime and does not justify getting out the torches and pitchforks. That is just a bad road to go down. Twitter makes it too easy to become a mob.

  7. Adventurecizin' Justin

    Brett, a friend of mine turned me onto BN about 2 years ago and it was love at first sight of your site! I’ve noticed the degression of comments and that you were starting to get rightfully irritated. Glad to see this post!

    One of the biggest issues is not necessarily the trolls themselves, imo. The biggest issue has become the feeding of those trolls. I believe trolls are easy to identify and it is best to simply ignore them. I’ve posted several questions that seem to get ignored because peeps are too busy feeding the trolls. That just perpetuates the prob!

    Keep up the great work! If you come out with a shirt that says, ” Bleacher Nation Does Not Feed Trolls”, I’d be all over it! Kudos.

  8. 20kman

    brett-you have a tough job for sure. every time another team signs a player people want to read that we didnt want that player for a variety of reasons and when we sign a guy like kottarus you have to write that this guy is an asset to the team to appease the cub faithful here.

    when you write a story you ought to have two sections for people to comment on that story- a pro and con section. that way the posters that want to gush about a nothing signing can do so without any interference and the people that want to be candid can stay in their section.

    a lot less arguing would go on especially when a team that loses 90+ every year.

  9. AnotherBrett

    Well said, Brett. I am an infrequent commenter, but wanted to say three things: 1. You’ll never be able to wash the comments of asshole/stupid. The percentage of the population that is either or both is simply too high (and increasing, in my opinion). 2. Brett, you do such an amazing job on this site I can’t even put it into words. As you sometimes joke, I actually do sit at work and hit refresh awaiting the next post. BN is the only blog I read because it works for me. The content and perspective are fantastic, it’s entertaining, and it gets to the point in just the right amount of time for those of us who have attention issues. BN is also the only blog I read because it’s the only one I find worth a damn. 3. Keep up the good work. This blog has changed the way I think about/cheer for the Cubs and when we do win the WS, it will be a richer experience because of it.

    1. tgk

      ^ Seconded

      1. fresno cub fan


      2. baldtaxguy

        Here, Here…..Well said…er…typed.

    2. Internet Random

      “You’ll never be able to wash the comments of asshole/stupid.”

      The wise don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Improving the signal-to-noise ratio is a plenty worthy endeavor.

      Just because a cook can’t remove 100 percent of the microbes from his hands by washing them, doesn’t mean I don’t want him to wash his hands after he takes a dump during the lunch shift.

  10. MichiganGoat


    1. Werner

      Mr. Goat wins the Internet for the Citizen Kane gif. Show that film in my film class (of course). Was worried at first that it’s too obvious but it’s just so brilliant that it never wears out.

      1. MichiganGoat

        No discussion on film can ignore the masterpiece that is Citizen Kane.

        1. Internet Random

          I find that film to be highly overrated.

          Groundbreaking… yes. Lives up to the hype… not to me.

          1. MichiganGoat

            It’s the groundbreaking that makes it a masterpiece, most film makers (and those that say otherwise are lying) are chasing what Wells did in Citizen Kane. It may not be as relevant and amazing to our generation but it change film dramatically. Hitchcock’s Pyscho is another perfect example.

            1. Internet Random

              “Hitchcock’s Pyscho is another perfect example.”

              Except that Psycho is awesome.

              1. MichiganGoat

                I do enjoy Pschyo more but Citizen Kane is amazing.

    2. Brains

      the FO handling of this situation has led to a veritable “war of the worlds”. welles, get it? get it?

  11. Starbucks Enthusiast

    If you don’t like Starbucks, you don’t have to drink it and you don’t have to be an asshole about the product, Brett. ;)

    1. wvcubsfan

      He never said he didn’t like it, just gave a description of the taste.

  12. Crazyhorse

    The winter meeting is almost here and somehow I think the Cubs will be less active to improve the team, Some people will be upset. or the Cubs will do something to improve the team. and be happy or be upset. Either way hopefully people will discuss them and not be censored or compare to a posterior orifice .The word Little in front of a surname is seems almost laughable at the moment.

  13. 20kman

    its not the winter meetings. its the witner meetings. didn’t you see the headline to the article?

  14. Edwin

    Brett you should try Berres Brothers coffee. Lot of flavor story choose from.

    1. Edwin

      Oops. Autocorrect kills me sometime.

  15. Patrick G
  16. Rice Cube

    I don’t know if anyone Spaceball’d this yet, but you’re always going to be surrounded by assholes. I think you’ve done a pretty good job of minimizing the asshole damage #PreparationHJoke

  17. Dustin S

    I’ve been involved with a lot of online communities and they tend to all go through a similar lifecycle. They start out small and if they are good and well-run like BN, they grow and attract all sorts of other people who hear how awesome the community is. That’s when the community tends to be challenged by the same things BN has run into. If the bad apples reign, it can gradually drive away both the core original and new good folks, and the community will eventually fall apart. It’s a fine line though between allowing free speech, open opinions, and some humor, but not letting too many trolls and uber-pessimistic posters roam and pull down the discussion, while still feeling welcoming to new visitors. It’s especially hard right now when the Cubs are kind of at the bottom of the curve in terms of the rebuild. So TLDR I do think a heavier hand with the problem posters is a good thing and probably overdue.

    The metric IMO on whether the bad posters are at a reasonable level is whether folks feel apprehensive to post valid discussion points for fear of getting ripped with nonsense responses from the problem posters. It sounds like that has been the case from some of the replies to this article.

    1. MichiganGoat


  18. Louie

    I like that this FO is improving our farm system and future. What I don’t like this year it seems like they’re neglecting the MLB team. I thought the players they signed last year were decent and could have made us competitive but it just didn’t work out that way. Hopefully after these winter meetings they can make some smart moves that can make us competitive. Because it’s a sad feeling when you start losing hope in your favorite team since childhood. But I agree with everyone else great job Brett and thanks!

    1. sans

      Here’s where I get frustrated.

      This FO has improved the Cubs’ farm system – there’s no doubt about it. But they did so at the expense of 2 baseball seasons. They did so by putting an inferior product on the MLB roster, losing more games than most teams, and getting high draft picks (Almora and Bryant, with a top pick coming next season). They haven’t earned this farm system. They’ve wasted seasons in-order to garner high draft picks. And they’re going to continue to do so – for 2 more seasons, most likely.

      Meanwhile, for every season that they’ve been here, they’ve never once put together a solid MLB roster. Not once. While it’s nice to have a good farm system – though it’s one devoid of high-end pitching – it’s probable that most of these prospects fail to make a real-impact at the MLB-level. Besides weakness being exploited, injuries are a huge factor in prospects failing to meet expectations.

      This FO didn’t piece together the farm system with brilliant moves. They created it by losing … A lot! Let’s not forget that as they’re constantly given free-passes for the Cubs’ losing.

      1. 70'scub

        Easy sans your comment “every season” they have been here equals just two seasons. The FO has improved the entire organization from the bottom up. Yes, the MLB roster is devoid of 30 something year old players and the related bad contracts. I do agree with your comment on the Cubs moving towards a brilliant farm SYSTEM…..

        1. Kyle

          It’s pretty hard to say “they’ve improved the entire organization” with a straight face when the most important part of the organization is worse.

      2. willis

        Agree on the frustration. The “dual fronts” comment was pure garbage and there is nothing that has been done really to improve the major league team. In fact, it’s been mostly moves (non moves) to ensure the team keeps getting worse. The product that they will unload on the fans in 2014 will be the worst we’ve seen and a complete tank job. #1 pick here we come.

        We knew there would be some struggles, which create frustrations. We needed to see the work done throughout the system, but throwing the team in the toilet year after year and doing nothing to even make it look like they are working to improve things, that’s the frustration. How many tank years is enough? 2014 will be the 5th year in a row the cubs will massively blow. At some point there just has to be improvement. I’m eager as I’ve ever been to follow the minor league teams, and that’s pretty fun to do. Especially living where I live, getting to see Tennessee and Iowa a lot. But I just wish they’d look to keep upgrading, even just a little. But the eggs are all in one basket. If that backfires this rebuild could take us all well into the 2020s. We shall see.

        1. 70'scub

          Good point on the MLB level the Cubs soon will have mega payroll flexibility and a loaded impact competitive Farm System. For once in my lifetime I would like the Cub organization to completely dominate the Cardinals….

  19. sans

    What went on at Murphy’s displays a growing disconnect between generations. In an era of twitter and Facebook, everyone is quick to garner a laugh or make a funny headline, while being unable to handle anything closely resembling a serious event. Sensitivity levels continue to fall, along with interest in historical context.

    This past year, there were stories explaining the terrible choices younger people were making, in regards to their Halloween costumes. Among the terrible choices were two girls who dressed up as the World Trade Center getting attacked. Now these girls weren’t purposely trying to be mean – just as I’m sure the people at Murphy’s weren’t – but they remain insensitive and ignorant to the the historical context of these events. They’re unable to be sensitive, when sensitivity applies.

    And I’m no old fart. I’m of the younger generations that I’m ragging on – which often-times brings me much embarrassment.

    1. cubmig

      Are you saying “Ignorance is bliss.” ???

  20. Mrs. Howell

    Do the assholes realize they are the assholes? Sadly, not often enough.

    1. MichiganGoat

      No they think everyone else are assholes.

      1. Jimbotron

        Irony of ironies.

  21. Indy57

    Thanks Brett. Was wondering how you would address this issue. Well done. You do an outstanding job keeping us informed and engaged. This is a great site to learn and to share. There are so many regular commenters that put time into thoughtful, reasoned and consistent opinions. It’s a great community and your effort to keep it that way is greatly appreciated.

  22. Andrew

    In summary…your an asshole if you disagree with brett and his trolls. Don’t have your own opinion and definitely don’t speak it. But please click on a couple of the ads and shameless plugs for fantasy contest so I can earn some cash

    1. sans

      I heard it that way, too.

      Brett’s trolls have fun antagonizing others, but never get called on it.

    2. 20kman

      Sounds like you’re being an asshole! BTW assholes can come in two forms:

      1. people that constantly are being derogatory to other people and ripping the cubs regardless of what they do or say.

      2. people who are constantly saying how great something is regardless of whether it is garbage or not.

      The people that rip everything cubs are being assholes and know it. The pom pom fans that like everything regardless of whether its a good thing or stupid thing that the cubs just did are assholes as well yet they don’t even know it.

      1. Pat

        It think it’s just people who are unnecessarily antagonistic or overly condescending regardless of if they are happy with the an or not. But yes, some of the biggest offenders are longtime posters and there’s about zero percent chance they will get called on it. Hell, half of Brett’s posts are unnecessarily condescending these days.

        1. MichiganGoat

          I know I’m going to get attacked because I’m what you are so unhappy about, but if you are so unhappy here then why are you 1-visiting, 2-reading the comments, and 3-taking the time comment and insult the site. There are countless other sites where you might feel more at home and comfortable yet you and others are here commenting. If a place you are visiting is not what you want the move to the next place.

          Now I’ll sit back and read the responses and bile against me but this is my last response on this topic. Carry on and I wish you a happy holidays.

          1. Pat

            I read the site because it is an excellent source of information. I only commented on the comments because it is the topic raised in the post. I find them entertaining despite what at times is unnecessary antagonizing. I don’t try to change things that aren’t mine into exactly what I want, a far too common problem in general these days.

          2. wilbur

            what? no holiday toast? this discussion is making me feel a bit beer deprived, on second thought, it could take brandy.

          3. TSB

            Strange, people complain about certain aspects of BN, and the Goat’s response is the tired “If you don’t like it leave!” Meanwhile, BN is a site where many (if not most) complain about the Cubs, including the Goat . So I guess the logical answer to any complaints or concerns about the Cubs should be answered by no more than “If you don’t like ‘em just leave!”

      2. ShutUp&DrinkYourBeer

        ^ this

    3. Greenroom

      Damn, man. I wish your parents would of hugged you more as a child. I don’t even care if I get in trouble for this comment. Its worth it.

  23. Gene Hiser for the HOF!

    Aside from the occasional troll, seems like most of the insults come from the inner circle of hard core BN posters. True, they often have useful (if not useful, at least abundant) info, and are the first to demand civility, but only civility to other members of the in-crowd. Like any high school clique or modern political party, they talk the talk of inclusion, but behind the scenes, it’s “who let the riff-raff in?!”

  24. Canadian Cubs Fan

    Great news on Vizcaino! Maybe he’ll emerge as a good 7th or even 8th inning guy. Theo doesn’t seem like one for hyperbole, so anything he says about a guy like Vizcaino is probably pretty accurate.

    Fingers crossed!

  25. Stu

    Is it being an asshole to question why Cubs fans are being charged the 3rd highest ticket prices for a team that, by design, is not competitive?

    Is it being an asshole to question Theo’s glib answer when questioned about it and just brushed it off as “don’t you want to be on the ground floor of the rebuild?”

    If the current players won’t be around when they are going for it, why would it matter that we saw the current players because they won’t be there except for maybe Castro, Rizzo, Castillo?

    1. MichiganGoat

      No that’s not being an asshole, it’s how you respond to challenges that answers your question.

      1. 20kman

        I think the the rebuild is a joke and has a 90% chance of failing.

        I base this on looking at other teams (KC and Pitt) that chose the cubs route and failed for 20+ years. Plus the changes in the CBA make it much more difficult to rebuild. Add in the cost of the cubs tickets (i would never pay face as you can get tickets for 5-10 bucks on the Stub so maybe not a good point specifically for me) and the fact that Theo said in his first presser that he would build the cubs on parellel fronts (untrue) and I see a pattern of nothingness.

        Am I an asshole?

        1. brunsmk

          There hopefully will be a big difference between the Cubs and teams you reference, specifically pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s problem is they kept trading off their good young players and never signed them long term until McCutchen. I don’t envision the Cubs trading off their good young players because they can’t afford to sign them to long term extensions. They have already signed their two young players that they feel will be a part of the future. Comparing the two organizations doesn’t seem logical to me.

  26. Stu

    The challenges have been emotional and defensive.

  27. Stu

    I really have no problem with what the Cubs are doing. In the long run it should yield a better product on the field.

    I just object to current fans being conned into overpaying for it.

    1. willis

      That’s just Ricketts, you know, being an ass hole. In fact, on the topic, he is king ass hole.

    2. Blackhawks1963

      Law of supply and demand. Basic economic principles at work. And I’m sure Ricketts has factored in lower attendance until the Theo strategy bears fruit. This isn’t Russia. If you don’t want to economically support the Cubs right now, then don’t.

    3. wilbur

      no one is being conned into overpaying for it. You don’t have to buy the ticket. When the cubs FO tries to explain what they are doing to improve the team, you dismiss it as being glib. He’s not being glib, he is being deliberately transparent so those who would rather complain and make disparaging comments can even understand it. This is the best front office the cubs have had since dallas green. They want to win more than you do. If you are so concerned about cubs fans being conned why don’t you try being honest instead of canted in your comments? Otherwise, go see the blackhawks, get off the tired cubs aren’t trying to win crap.

  28. Blackhawks1963

    Ah, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

    I look for the big news of the winter meetings to center on Choo, Price and Kemp.

    Garza to the Yankees…Kemp traded to the Red Sox…Price to the Mariners…Choo to the Giants.

  29. Murky Waters

    One of the things I’ve learned in life is you tend to surprisingly miss the asshole when they’re gone . Like at work . The guy you considered an asshole quits. Now you’re stuck trying to find someone new to hate and complain about.

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