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. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Well said Brett. Agreed with the assholeness. At what point is trolling for response not tolerated? I definitely agree the assholeness has ticked up since about June of this year though.

  2. Brad

    There is a lot of talk about Samardzija getting moved at the winter meetings, especially to the Diamondbacks, as Brett has often pointed out the seemingly perfect fit between what they want and what Samardzija offers. What ever happened to Yvonai Gallardo getting traded? He was “on the block” seemingly before Smaradzija this summer and it seems that he would offer many of the same qualities that Samardzija does, and maybe (I really don’t know what the Brewers are asking) come with a lower price tag? What’s the status of these rumors, Brett? (or anyone)?

  3. rockin' dawg

    Brett and Luke disagree philosophically on here all the time, yet they are not assholes to each other. That sets a pretty good example IMO of how things should be on here. That being said, I have a bigger problem with censorship than I do with trolls or assholes. So I would really hate to see people being banned on here for their comments (unless they are obviously inflammatory, racist, etc.).

    1. Brains

      i personally think we should be assholes to the owners who are cynically trying to steal fans’ money due to years of good will, but not to each other since we’re all on the same page when it comes to team allegiance. the most interesting sociological current here are people who identify more with the owners’ interests than the team, its players, or other fans. frankly that’s what keeps me coming back – tinkering with that mentality to see what responses i can get.

    2. Sparks


      1. Sparks

        I meant that I agree with rockin’ dawg.

  4. Dumpgobbler

    I read this site quite often.. but I have no idea what everyone is up in arms about. Seems simple to me. Bring facts to support your opinion, and everything will work itself out. While bringing these facts to back up your opinion, present them like a gentlemen. That is all.

  5. Lyle Ernst

    I’m for getting rid of the assholes. They are dull and boring and think they are cool. One should be able to discuss and disagree with someone without calling them names, making snide remarks & using foul language.

  6. Yohler

    Let the colonoscopy begin! Maybe the comment section will be more than a flame war again.

  7. waffle

    for you folks who are so anti FO all you have to do is say what you think they should do differently. not just “they are stealing our money, we are good fans they don’t treat us well” etc. etc. etc.

    This is a DISCUSSION board not a grievance board. Those of you who are termed trolls across the board bring little to the discussion other than 1) whining 2) attacks

    1. Kyle

      They should go back in time to pre-2012 and do an adequate job keeping the team afloat while building the farm system through less drastic measures.

  8. cubmig

    Lots of comments on this topic. I can only add that I have no problem with criticism. It’s part of being a Cubs fan. The problem with criticizing though is with the honesty with which it is penned, especially when it turns on the personal and crosses “the line”. And therein lies the fine line we are all faced to walk: being honest without being cruel.

  9. Mrs. Howell

    A lot of you guys remind me of Sox fans-no true love for the game of BASEBALL. Only a fan of winning. There is a lot of joy in going to the ballpark regardless of whether your team is the best in baseball-if you truly love the GAME OF BASEBALL! Is there no enjoyment in watching a TOR pitcher live, even if he is pitching for the opposition? Is there no joy in watching a Strasbourg pitch, a Harper/Trout bat, a Torii Hunter (in his day) patrol CF in person. I love the Cubs, but I love the game more. The game itself is worth my hard earned money.

    1. Danny B

      Mrs. Howell, I agree. I come here to read and think about baseball and my team. As soon as the convo turns elsewhere I head to another page.

  10. waffle

    kyle…that’s an arm waving response

    the word is specifics, as in be specific.

    I am hard pressed to come up with more than a handful of moves that I think the FO should/shouldn’t have made

    This is about where I expected us to be about this time. Heck, a little ahead thanks to the FO’s extremely successful rebuilding of the minors. Yes, we all would like the big league team to be better, but work with me, what should they have done SPECIFICALLY that would have NOT messed things up in terms of the overall rebuild strategy as articulated and undertaken by the FO

    1. Kyle

      I am not a trained seal here for your amusement.

      I *could*, theoretically, take a decent chunk of time to dig up some of the specific alternatives we discussed back at the time. But all that would happen is that you’d disagree with them, and then tomorrow a new person would come along and demand specifics. And two more the day after.

      Pulling up the specifics for every single person who demands them quickly becomes a full-time job. It’s argument by bureacracy, trying to bury someone who disagrees in paperwork.

      1. wvcubsfan

        Guess I could have waited and not wasted a bunch of key strokes. :)

    2. wvcubsfan

      Not Kyle, but the issue is he HAS given specifics over and over. They are usually dismissed as 20/20 hindsight, detrimental to “the plan”, or not possible. Then if he attempts to show why the dismissal isn’t correct the comments trend toward what is being discussed in this post.

      Then weeks/months/years later someone asks him for specifics when if they have either been a)paying attention b)been around pre-2012 or c)just isn’t trying to be antagonistic would know he has previously provided the very thing they are asking for. Furthermore could find on their own if they were so inclined to do a little research in the archives.

  11. fromthemitten

    You know if Michigan would go ahead and fire Borges they wouldn’t have the comments problem ;)

  12. waffle

    an ignore button would be nice…

    For those of you who find us “FO apologists” tiring and for those who find “All whine/no content” posters tiring.

    Yes, debate is nice, but there really isn’t that much when specifics are avoided. Afterall, why let facts get in the way of a good “gotcha’ battle?

  13. Die hard

    How about Barney and Jackson to Cranknees for Gardner and 3 PTBNL ?

  14. waffle

    cranknees minors are a train wreck. But darn they need SP. Jackson would be attractive to me I would think as 1) his contract is pretty good 2) he does eat innings a bit. Gardner is an interesting name, though, as they yanks have so much expensive OF “talent”.

    Gardner has been pretty mediocre for a bit, though

  15. waffle

    kyle, one would think you actually don’t know much about baseball but quite alot about logical/illogical arguing strategies.

    and yes, Kyle, you’d be first on my ignore list. And it would be a short list.

    1. Kyle

      One would only think that if they were new here. We argued these things out exhaustively and in minute detail for almost two full years. I don’t have to go back and re-do it every time it comes up just to impress you.

    2. wvcubsfan

      Waffle, I would suggest that if one did think that they would be mistaken.

  16. waffle

    note – you probably do know quite a bit about baseball, but prefer logical jousting. You obviously get a charge out of it. Many of us find it tiring. Why do you need to feel this/perform this way? How does it validate you? Obviously it does.

    1. Kyle

      I wouldn’t participate if I didn’t enjoy it. I’d assume anyone participating with me enjoys it too. Otherwise it’d be pretty weird for them to be a part of it.

  17. waffle

    no kyle, I have seen little “content” from you, just tricks.

    Oh well.

  18. waffle

    and saying we’ve discussed it for years is a weak response.

    what are we doing now/here? Discussing it. That’s what this board is about. Obviously things change, yes?

    No kyle, you just like the mental gymnastics, not the actually content of the discussion

    1. Kyle

      General rule of thumb:

      I’m willing to put in work roughly proportional to the other side of any discussion. Imagine how much work it would take for me to go back and piece together an alternative 2011-12 offseason, digging up players and projections and prices from articles that have gotten deep into google.

      Now imagine how much work it took you to ask me to do it.

      See the imbalance? Not interested.

    2. aaronb

      I’ll take a crack at it.

      Pre 2012: I wanted to keep Zambrano, keep Aramis Ramirez (or trade for Chase Headley). Sign Fielder. Keep Cashner. Sign Beltran. I was cool with the Sean Marshall deal at the time.

      I wrote a fanpost at BCB mid summer of 2012 advocating the following for last offseason:

      Trade for Headley, sign Ejax and Sanchez, add Melky and/or Swisher, and bring in some cheap NRI guys to fix the bullpen.

      Also while doing this continue to rework the farm system and work latin america in particular.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Those moves would’ve cripple the team going forward. Even if the farm could continue to progress (and understand those moves = no Bryant or any others coming from the sell offs) and Baez still becomes a star he would hit the bigs with a declining albatross in Fielder and ARam (or Headley) at the corners and we’d have to extend Dempster and Garza to stay competitive. That would keep us around .500 but that is the absolutely worst thing to do. You see why those are bad ideas? Now could we’ve got some other pieces? Yes. It would’ve been nice to get Sanchez but he wanted to stay in Detroit. Also don’t forget that the last two seasons wouldn’t be as bad if we didn’t sell off pieces but if you’re going to lose is there a difference between 60, 70, or 80 wins? I fully understand that losing sucks but I’d go through a rough couple of years than hit for a couple years then be lost for a decade which is kinda how the Cubs have been in our existence. I’m looking forward to sustainability where losing if not as common as winning.

        1. Kyle

          The assumption that sustained success is the only possible result to all this losing is maddening.

          1. Brains

            yeah that’s the fuel that keeps me coming back. it’s just so crazy and without precedent in the history of any business, sport, or educational structure in the history of the world that it’s fascinating to see the concept take on a life of its own. only in the world of the cubs would it be possible.

          2. MichiganGoat

            I’m shocked absolutely shocked you’d say this I’ve never heard it from you before.

            1. Kyle

              I’ll put down mine when you put down yours first.

              1. MichiganGoat

                Kyle I think one lesson we can all gleam from today’s message is that it’s best to just not reply or engage people that you know have an unchanging opposing view to your own. It breeds arguments and gets us nowhere. My comment was full sarcasm (I’m sure your reply wa as well) but sarcasm and humor is dead with the divide that has happened on this site. I rarely engaging you when our opinions differ we both know where we stand and just not replying is the safest path. Nothing either of us has said will change each other but we can coexist and do without problems. But when either of us reply with snarky, sarcastic quips it only fuels other to continue and I’m really working on stopping being aggressive even when I believe it’s needed. Everybody needs to coexist and avoid getting to useless arguments, it mean commenting less and that’s okay. We’ve got a message board to have fun.

                1. Kyle

                  I *like* the quips. I wish we had more of them from all sides.

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    Kyle I do as well and wish more could enjoy some “ball bustin” humor but it only causes problems now. However it is still alive and well on the MB.

                    1. Kyle

                      I say we double down with more quips in an attempt to bring them back.

                      It’d be better than the tiresome troll hunts we’re apparently going to go on now.

                    2. DarthHater

                      Amen, Kyle.

                    3. MichiganGoat

                      And Kyle you know that would only cause more problems and I hope you see why quips are dead right now. Now some of us that have been around for a while have some inside jokes among each other and that humor still comes out sometimes, but all that should move to the message board while this divide and “troll hunt” is underway.

                    4. MichiganGoat

                      Darth I wish we’d could still have the fun we once did but it only pisses people off and we have the message board to have that fun.

                  2. DarthHater

                    MG, I reject the notion that good-natured humor is now impermissible on this chat board, or even that it should be temporarily chilled in the interest of some so-called “trollhunt.”

                    Having said that, I think it is no coincidence that this “trollhunt” began on the same day that Brett started drinking coffee. Somebody needs to get the caffeine away from that guy. :-P

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      Many would say it started when a goat joined the board… but goats and troll hunting has a rich history. However I’m avoiding the good-natured humor because it just pisses people off and causes problems- the message board is perfect for all that right now.

                    2. Chef Brian

                      I’m confused about this so called “Troll Hunt”? I’ve been reading this site for a couple of years and there is no reason to hunt trolls. We all know who they are. Hell they know who they are. Why give them power?

            2. calicubsfan007

              Hmmm… Sense a tiny hint of sarcasm there Goat… Just a tiny bit…

              1. MichiganGoat

                Sarcasm is dead here

          3. Internet Random

            “The assumption that sustained success is the only possible result to all this losing is maddening.”

            Not nearly so maddening as watching the Dunning-Kruger effect play out in comments here, day after day after day after day…

            1. MichiganGoat

              Great point IR

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Headley was not available: the Tigers and Phillies tried *very* hard to get Headley away from the Pads. (The Tigers signing of Fielder and moving Miggy to 3rd came after they threw in the towel there.) Remember the Other 28 Team Rule: if your GM could have done “gotten it done,” then one of the other 28 GMs *would* have gotten it done. (There was a huge demand for good 3Bmen 24 months ago, just as there is now.)

        ARam appeared to be slipping: his 2012 rebound was a bit of a surprise. Zambrano was slipping: his 2012 disappearance was no surprise. Etc., etc.

        The big thing that people have to remember is that it was not possible to “float” the 2011 Cubs back to the 2009 Cubs: that was a 0.450 team projecting to be even worse the next year. It needed many, many pieces, and given the lack of available pieces and 28 or 29 other teams squabbling over all of them, the market couldn’t provide them.

  19. waffle

    I like your style, kyle, and welcome contrarians, but you have to step up your game.

    1. When the Music's Over

      What’s your game? Curious?

      What I’ve seen so far from you is that you think the front office is perfect or near perfect and unless the person with the dissenting opinion can come up with a comprehensive, 50 point presentation of moves to prove what they believe is superior to what you believe (and frankly have no profits any better yet-the experiment is still in progress, and largely still in its infancy), then they’re way off base and should be ignored.

  20. Jono

    The problem with the asshole thing is that most assholes aren’t self aware of it. I’ve been called an asshole on here once and was shocked. All I did was defend my argument, stayed on topic, made no personal comments. Yet I was perceived as an asshole. So I’ve come to the conclusion that assholes are not self aware

  21. Jono

    There’s also a problem when people pile on someone. That person will often respond to each person, so people think he/she over-commenting. But all the person is doing is appropriately responding to peoole who challenge their claim. We can’t expect someone to have their claim challenged and not respond. If you challenge someone, don’t call them an asshole for responding. And if many people challenge that person (pile on), you have to expect that person to respond to each challenge.

  22. TSB

    I give the “civility” thing another 24 hours max until things get back to normal.

  23. mysterious4th

    Hey Brett try making coffee and adding a hot cocoa packet or two to it, maybe a lil milk. Itll taste better and youll be able to drink it and not choke it down

  24. Professor Snarks

    Brett, If you feel my ‘snarky’ way of disagreeing with you puts me in that category, I sincerely apologize. Good luck weeding out ALL the a..holes.
    Everybody, have a great day. I’m read for some football.

  25. Die hard

    Could Renteria lure Infante to Cubs?

  26. DocPeterWimsey

    Brett: Invest in a decent espresso machine. Then add a decent coffee grinder, and any type of flavoring syrups (e.g., spiced pumpkin!), froth some milk, and voila! You have a decent cup of coffee.

    (Add bennies to taste….)

  27. Die hard

    FO could gain credibility by bringing Infante and Gardner home from meetings

    1. Luke

      If Gardner came cheaply and could be extended, I’d be ok with it. I’d not want to give up anything significant for just him, though.

    2. Jono

      Gardner is interesting. I wonder how the two teams would fit in a trade, though

  28. Tom Delfs

    There was a remark on ESPN today that the Orioles are in need of starters. Can you foresee The Shark heading to Balmer? If so, what might the deal look like?

  29. Carew

    I’m sorry that I forgot the source, it may have been mlbtraderumors, but I read that the mariners may be open to trading their younger players, like Franklin, because they are in win now mode.

    Man, they are a stupid organization.

    1. Carew

      It was Heyman

    2. Jono

      The one decent argument for the “win now” mode is that the AL west is pretty winnable right now.

      I don’t agree with it, but that’s the best argument I can think for their decision making.

  30. Spencer

    Interesting discussion. One of the reasons (among others) that I’ve stopped frequenting this site is because of the asshole comments from people. And it seems like the asshole comments come just as frequently from people who try to “police” others as they do from people who are just passing by. Though the police officer assholes seem to get away with their comments with minimal problems or scolding because they’ve been around here longer. Whether that’s fair or not…well whatever. It’s not my website.

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