angry-mob2If you were expecting a big splash this offseason, you haven’t been paying attention. The most any reasonable Chicago Cubs fan should be expecting for this offseason is a set of well-intentioned, short-term, low-cost moves, together with an effort to pursue Masahiro Tanaka, if he’s made available. Not get Tanaka, mind you. No team in baseball should be expecting that. Just expecting to pursue.

So, against that backdrop, I’m not sure why comments from Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and super-agent Scott Boras this afternoon at the Winter Meetings are getting so much play. Angry play.

From Hoyer, who was featured briefly on MLB Network:

Nothing there is a surprise or inconsistent with what the Cubs have said all along. There are too many holes on the big league roster and too few dollars available right now to do the kind of patching necessary to put a credible playoff contender on the field in 2014. You may rail against it. Gnash your teeth. Pound away at your keyboard in the comments. But this is our lot, and it is ours to accept.

The “Mariners” bit is getting a lot of attention, given that they’ve been in the news over the last week for being anything but a model organization. It appears, however, that Hoyer was merely referencing the fact that the Mariners are making big moves (Robinson Cano) and rumored to be in on every big name, after having built up a young core. As Theo Epstein and Hoyer have both said repeatedly, they hope that will be the Cubs soon. Whether “a couple years” means next offseason or the next, I don’t really read a whole lot into the literalness of colloquialisms. It just means not this year.

And then there was Boras, speaking simultaneously before a crowd of media, remarking that the Cubs’ rebuild is “an all-day sucker.” The reference, which was initially lost on many, meant that he sees the Cubs’ rebuild taking a very long time. He mentioned the Cubs’ market size and their refusal to spend commensurate with that market size during their rebuild.

Once again, none of this is new for Boras, whose job it is to get as much money for his clients as possible. Having a large market team like the Cubs sitting out the proceedings is bad for business, and Boras has sounded like a jilted lover for quite some time.

In the process, though, he threw the Cubs’ ownership under the bus:

I understand the frustration, both from Boras and from fans. At the same time, I accept the realities discussed above. I also accept that, other than a few, select players – Tanaka, maybe Shin-Soo Choo – the biggest name free agents this offseason simply don’t make sense for the Cubs. Unless you’re going to add an Ellsbury, AND a Cano, AND a Garza, AND a Nathan, there’s very little reason to add any one of those guys, whose most useful years will come when the Cubs aren’t competitive. I like Choo’s skill set to hold up long enough to be useful to the Cubs when they’re competitive (and they do need an outfielder), but that’s about it for the big guys not named Tanaka.

In other words: the Cubs aren’t going to do something just to do something, regardless of the financial situation. That’s the oft-referenced “syncing up” of the baseball and business plans. I’m sorry if it aggravates Boras or some of the fans.

(It’s not hard to imagine that Choo, represented by Boras, was specifically on Boras’s mind when he made the “all-day sucker” comment, and expressed frustration thereafter. My guess? The Cubs have been showing interest in Choo all along, but the baseball ops guys have explained to Boras that they can’t go to the ridiculous seven-year, $140 million level right now. Boras angry. Boras smash.)

  • Cusifer

    The Cubs/Shark will they/won’t they relationship is about as grating as a late series episode of Friends and the Ross/Rachel relationship at this point. Just do something.

  • Hutch

    I’m totally down for this rebuild. But I’m really getting tired of hearing about financial restraints from the front office and them crying broke. Gradually starting to despise the ricketts.

    • Jay

      Despise the rooftops more for cockblocking all the revenue-producing signage and jumbotron that Ricketts is delaying getting put up. Once those are up and the new TV deal is in place after next year, he’ll have no more excuses for not opening up the checkbook. Don’t care about his debt structure—if you couldn’t afford to buy the team and run it like a major market team, you should have never gotten involved.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        The trib and Zell were able to consistently field teams in the top 1/4 of payrolls with the rooftop owners.

  • Ajbearsfan

    Well everyone is tired of losing. Couple more years is thrown around a lot too. Just spend some money already! Boras is a jerk!

    • SK

      At this point, on what?

      There was and isn’t a whole lot out there.

      • jptopdog

        couldn’t agree more, Tanaka is the only one of interest. Had possible interest in Elsbury, but not at what he received/injury concerns he’s had. I wouldn’t give Choo any more than 3yrs./ 30 million, for a poor OF (especially CF), and a platoon player (can’t hit lefty’s .612 OPS). Why would we even talk to him at the 7-8yr. price levels they are talking about? They aren’t saying they don’t have the money, just no one there they are willing to spend it on.

        • Seriously.

          Seriously? Choo is not a platoon player, despite his low split. He’s averaged 150 games 4 out of the 5 past years and has a career OBP of .389. Last year he was a 20-20 guy with a .423 OBP, an area the Cubs need to significantly improve upon. I wouldn’t mind giving him a somewhat front-loaded 4-5 year deal worth averaging $20m per, which while a bit overvalue, I expect he’ll be able to beat given the market.

          His defense won’t hurt as much when he’s not in CF. His “terrible” split vs lefties still yielded a .347 OBP, something only 3 players on the Cubs achieved on the year – Dioner Navarro (.365, 240 AB,) Darnell McDonald (.351, 53 AB,) and Wellington Castillo (.349, 280 AB.) The next 3 barely cracked .330.

          The team needs a little bit of a morale boost. Choo could help here. Tanaka would help more. A Baez/Bryant call-up would as well. We’re close to the tipping point. It would be nice to see it build up a little earlier than later.

  • Gabe Athouse

    Brett’s comment sums it up best: “Unless you’re going to add an Ellsbury, AND a Cano, AND a Garza, AND a Nathan, there’s very little reason to add any one of those guys, whose most useful years will come when the Cubs aren’t competitive.”

    Eat a dick Boras (who represents several of the Cubs young studs of the future I believe)

    • FarmerTanColin

      Almora….Bryant maybe even Baez. Future looks expensive might as well trade them now.

    • Napercal

      I disagree. A guy like Granderson, for example, would provide leadership and take the pressure off of the young guys. Castro and Rizzo both understand the situation and have way to much pressure to perform.

      The following are the salary numbers for 2014 thus far:
      Edwin Jackson SP 13,000,000
      Starlin Castro SS 5,857,142
      Carlos Villanueva SP 5,000,000
      Kyuji Fujikawa RP 4,500,000
      Jorge Soler CF 2,666,667
      Anthony Rizzo 1B 1,535,714
      Ryan Sweeney LF 1,500,000
      Gerardo Concepcion SP 1,200,000
      George Kottaras C 1,075,000
      Donnie Murphy 3B 825,200
      Wesley Wright 1,400,000
      Dead Money
      Alfonso Soriano LF 13,000,000

      Active Contracts 37,159,523
      Dead Money 13,000,000
      TOTAL COMMITTED 51,559,523
      Everyone else makes the league minimum say $600,000/year

      That adds roughly 7,000,000 to the payroll for a total of 58,000,000. Bear in mind that 13,000,000 is for Soriano and 5,200,000 is for Soler and Concepcion. So the actual salary paid to players actually on the team will be in the neighborhood of 40,000,000. Folks only Miami (40 mil) and Houston (24 mil) are lower.

      The Ricketts are putting non-competitive garbage on the field and selling hope. The league median is around 90,000,000. I am not suggesting that they go crazy and sign Cano and Ellsbury to long-term mega-contracts. There is however a middle ground. You can sign guys like Granderson and Corey Hart to three year deals so they won’t block the minor leaguers. You can pay them 10 mil a year or so without busting the budget. These guys would provide leadership and allow the young guys to develop with less pressure. You could still service the almighty debt. How long before Theo and Jed get fed-up and go somewhere else?

      • Voice of Reason

        It drives me nuts when people say to sign some player so they can provide leadership and take the pressure off the going kids.

        • Napercal


  • t

    Forbes estimate of the Ricketts’ family wealth ($1 Billion), consolidated under J. Joseph Ricketts name, placed them at #371/ 400 on the Forbes 400 list.
    And the Cubs are crying poor. PLEASE!

  • CubsFanSaxMan

    It appears that the natives are getting very restless!! Watch out for smoke signals!!

  • jmc

    wait until the natives see next September

  • Hutch

    110 losses coming soon to a city near you

    • bbmoney

      I don’t live that close to Houston.

    • mjhurdle

      im hoping that city is STL :)

    • Greg

      could be 120 the way this front office operates.

  • The Cleanup Poster

    LOUD NOISES, rabble rabble rabble!

  • Curt

    I really do agree with the rebuild as it will eventually make the cubs the cardinals
    Of the north, but I think others are Also right if ricketts couldn’t afford to buy the cubs and the finances to run it like a major market team then they shouldn’t hvd bought the cubs, like I said I agree with the rebuild but they should be able to do it and be competitive at the same time.

  • rockin’ dawg

    Cubs/Dodgers should explore a Matt Kemp for Starlin Castro deal.

    For the Dodgers:
    It solves the 4 OF problem, rids them of Kemp’s contract (they would still need to eat some of it), and fills their dead IF spot (with Hanley Ramirez sliding over to 3B). And of course, they get a young cost-controlled SS who can hit.

    For the Cubs:
    Kemp fills the team’s glaring needs for a true CF and middle-of-the-order bat, he’s still only 28 and fits the long-range plan, and it allows Baez to stay at SS while opening a spot for him on the NL roster.

    Barney slides to SS until Baez is ready, Murphy/Valbuena keep 2B warm for Alcantara, Olt/Vitters man 3B until Bryant is ready (if Olt sticks-Bryant goes to LF) The Cubs then extend Samardzija, land Tanaka, bring the kids along at a reasonable pace, and are ready to compete in 2015!

    • cubbiehawkeye

      Pass. Giving up a 23 year old Shortstop with a team friendly contract who is on pace for 3,000 hits and plays literally every day for an injury prone 29 year old Center fIelder whos getting 20 mil a year for the next 6 years. I’m a Matt Kemp fan both on and off the field. Great dude. I wouldn’t give up Castro. If Matt Kemp hadn’t been hampered by injuries that contract would actually look good right now.

      • commander bob

        makes 500 outs a year, 30 errors and 80 boneheaded plays a year and runs the bases lookiing backwards?

        i love that guy.

        • cubbiehawkeye

          He plays one of the toughest positions in baseball, was thrown in the league way too early,and he has been surrounded by garbage most of his career but he had one down year so lets just throw one of the best young hitters away…yeah ok. Especially one that plays literally every day.

          • cubbiehawkeye

            My apologies. Let me clarify what I meant by throw away. I simply meant that you want to look at the bad in young player and for the reasons I listed above it’s silly to do so, right now.

      • rockin’ dawg

        I realize Kemp is an injury risk, but a healthy Kemp (which he is reported to be now) is an MVP calibre player. Castro has value, but Baez makes him expendable.

        • cubbiehawkeye

          I would take a healthy Kemp anyday….should have won the MVP. It’s too risky IMO

        • jptopdog

          Kemp is said to not even being healthy, not ready for spring training, and still in a walking boot. You would be selling low on Castro who has friendly contract. Baez is the one that will be most likely switching positions, and commits more errors than Castro at this point. Agree with cubbiehawkeye’s points!

  • Jared

    $50,684,524 total salary. Cubs payroll for 2014….creeping down into Houston Astros territory.

    • Bret Epic

      With their new signings, they should be pretty close to where we’re at now.

    • Chad

      That include soriano?

    • DarthHater

      $50 million total for 2014? Where do you people come up with this stuff?

      • TWC

        They find it in here:


        • DarthHater

          Pretty sure that picture violates the terms of use, man. That’s why I haven’t used it in a while. 😛

          • TWC

            I see. By using it you think I’m trying to impersonate *you*. Mea culpa.

  • mister_rob

    So we are a couple years away from being the Mariners?
    What is this great nucleus they built up? They went into this offseason with a couple very good pitchers and…………?
    So why does trying to improve make more sense for them?

  • Turn Two

    Boras’ comments, while coming off as whiney, are believable. Sounds like even the guys making the plan don’t really believe I’m the plan. It makes no baseball sense to try to lose for the better part of a decade, but it could be good business sense, if you know you can just get all the fans back when your good.
    If it were all about baseball you’d take on one or twoi contracts so that the young kids don’t come up to an angry and disinterested fan base, hard to succeed in that environment. You’d think the ownership would have just a little bit of pride to want to try to be respectable. And know that doesn’t mean I’m crying because we aren’t dropping millions on old players, just that I’d like to see some action to correct a failed season.
    I don’t blame jed and theo at all, on the contrary considering the hand dealt, i think they both created and are executing a small market plan brilliantly. I become more convinced every say that they are unbelievably talented.
    i don’t blamejed and theo

    • Bret Epic

      I think signing maybe renowned position player and SP could really make a difference.

  • jj

    Everyone blames the guy not in the room. So Cubs mgmt likely told Boras their hands are tied by ownership to drive down Boras’ price.

  • Pingback: Theo Epstein Speaks: Samardzija, Tanaka, Spending, Syncing, Prospects, More | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Napercal

    The most boring, uninteresting and disheartening offseason in 45 years as a Cub fan. Not one move made to improve the team. Not even a move to make the team worse. Nothing to talk about since the AFL ended. Nothing to talk about until the minor league season starts. If the teams in the farm system sold t.v. rights to their teams, they’d draw more viewers than the Cubs. Like most other people on this blog, I don’t blame Theo and Jed. I have a growing fear that the Ricketts are taking ownership tips from Jeff Loria.

  • steve

    I’m all for the rebuild and completely get what they’re trying to do. However u have to get some players when they’re available. I’m not saying go sign everyone but u have to grab some people for more than incremental moves. I like the guys we’ve added so far don’t get me wrong but we have to add a leadoff hitter and someone to protect Rizzo in the lineup. We’re leaning on kids but they need help or it will hurt their development. Trade shark and Castillo to Baltimore for Wieters and Bundy, that gives us a hitter behind Rizzo, and a top of the rotation pitcher for the near future. Then maybe grab someone to hit leadoff. that would help us greatly without killing our future.

    I’m not saying I want us to derail the rebuild, just give us something we can see where there’s some improving at the

  • Josh

    A couple years? That’s what you said a couple years ago

    • CubFan Paul

      Exactly 25 months (in so many words).

    • terencemann

      Hoping the Cubs could turn things around in 2 years based on absolutely no knowledge of who they could draft, who would be available in free agency or what the next CBA would look like was just simple optimism and I have no problem with where they are at this point considering where the farm system was when Epstein and Hoyer were hired, where the major league talent was at the time they were hired and the enormous financial problems of the team when the Ricketts purchased the team. I honestly had no idea how bad things were at that time.

      I do think the Ricketts should have started pushing harder on the Wrigely renovations earlier but it makes sense that they’d try to line them up with the new media deal so that the new revenue sources would line up together.

  • Tommy

    Payrolls from last year:
    All team payrolls greater than the Cubs:
    Yankees – $229M – 85 wins, didn’t make the playoffs
    Dodgers – $216M – 92 wins, won division
    Phillies – $160M – 73 wins, didn’t make the playoffs
    Red Sox – $159 – 97 wins, best league record
    Tigers – $149M – 93 wins, won division
    Giants – $142M – 76 wins, didn’t make playoffs
    Angels – $142M – 78 wins, didn’t make playoffs
    Rangers – $127M – 91 wins, didn’t make playoffs
    White Sox – $124M – 63 wins, didn’t make playoffs
    Blue Jays – $118M – 74 wins, didn’t make playoffs
    Cardinals – $117M – 97 wins, best league record
    Nationals – $112M – 86 wins, didn’t make playoffs
    Reds – $110M – 90 wins, Wild Card
    Cubs – $104M – 66 wins, didn’t make playoffs

    Other playoff teams:
    Rays – $57M – 92 wins, Wild Card
    Indians – $82.5M – 92 wins, Wild Card
    Braves – $89M – 96 wins, won division
    A’s – $68.5M – 96 wins, won division
    Pirates – $66M – 94 wins, Wild Card

    I’d say from looking at this that it’s safe to assume that spending money on MLB salaries is not a guarantee of success, and keeping MLB payroll low is not a death sentence to winning. Having said that, I believe the FO when they say that they will spend on the ML club when the time is right, but even if they don’t, nothing here indicates to me that it’s necessary.

  • Fastball

    Onebof thesebdaysbthe boys are gonna want a Boras client and the chances of getting any kind of deal is gonna be slim at best. You cant jerk these agents around for this long and not get some blow back from them. If you cant buy dont call Im busy talkung to people who can do a deal. Agents get deals for the big client’s first. 2nd and 3rd tier clients have to wait. So this FO wont get any real attention til late January.

    • Rebuilding

      Theo and Jed both have a good relationship with Boras. This was just public posturing by him because of Choo I suspect. You notice Theo said he didn’t want to get into a war of words. If Boras has a client who the Cubs offer the best deal then that client will be a Cub

  • You got bats, we got wood. Travis Wood.

    I’m not surprised by Jed’s comments and we all knew this was coming. I am on board with Theo & Jed, but I will forever hold a grudge that Selig hand picked Ricketts and didn’t let Mark Cuban get the chance. Reinsdorf and Selig shouldn’t be able to block people from buying the Cubs.

  • Tony S.

    Boras smash. Heh

  • Popeye

    Trade E Jax, Barney, and Alcantara for Chris Sale. Sign Choo and Jimenez, and you actually have a ball club THIS year.

    2. Castillo Shark
    3. Rizzo Jimenez
    4. Valbuena Wood
    5. Olt Arrieta
    6. Castro
    7. Lake/Sweeny
    8. Choo
    9. Shierholz
    All Shark is sayng is that he wants a chance to win. If you want to extend him, give the Cubs a Respectable team.

    • Landon

      Edwin Jackson, Barney and Alcantara for Sale. You couldn’t pull that trade off in a video game? You keep might get his cleats and glove for that package. Sale would cost 2 of the big 4 and then some. Sale is cost controlled for 6 years. Think what a package for david price looks like and add a premium prospect.. lets hope if hahn is that dumb he calls theo first.

      • Voice of Reason

        Why do people make such crazy trade offers? If Hahn made that trade he would be fired immediately.

        Ok, so after we make that trade for Sale, let’s trade Lake and Villanueva to the Angels for Trout. He can be our center fielder. And, then we trade Schierholtz and Rusin to the Pirates for McCutchen. We can put McCutchen in left.

        It’s so easy to improve the Cubs! Why isn’t the front office making these trades right now?

  • Popeye

    The stupid thing doesnt do double lines.

    2. Castillo
    3. Rizzo
    4. Valbuena
    5. Olt
    6. Castro
    7. Lake/ Sweeny
    8. Choo
    9. Shierholz


    • TOOT


  • Popeye

    Yeah, really. I’m not saying that this team will win the World Series, but it would keep the fan base believing that their is hope for a brighter tomorrow. Choo could be moved to a corner slot when his legs start to go. Sale would be a long term player, who is fairly reasonable. Valbuena would be holding a spot for Baez, and Lake would be holding a spot for Bryant. It would soon be:

    2. Castillo
    3. Rizzo
    4. Baez
    5. Olt
    6. Castro
    7. Bryant
    8. Choo
    9. Shierholz

    Finally a decent pitching staff, and a little pop in the lineup.

  • Jdubfla

    Every other year we had news. Every other year we signed guys to be competitive. Every other year we signed a big name or two. I have been a fan 50 years now. Every other year WE LOST. I have been patient my whole life with this team. And I will remain patient. Stay the course. FINALLY we have someone who may know what they are doing.
    Let it play out. Honestly.. Could a season end any worse than not winning again?

  • Chuck24

    Who really care what Boras thinks? Let’s face facts here…he has an agenda and that agenda is trying to make as much much for his clients (and himself) as he can…and that means pushing teams to spend more money. Just love his alleged concern for the Cubs and their fans.

  • Popeye

    Throw in Soler, and make the trade! E Jax is a bust, Barney is a bust, and I may be wrong, but I can see Alcantara being touted a little higher than deserved. addition by subtraction. You clear some money in this trade to put toward the Choo deal. Hate to loose Soler, but he would be worth Sale.

    • C. Steadman

      Hahns reaction to that offer “hahahahaha” *click* *dial tone*

    • Norm

      So the White Sox are going to trade a Cy Young candidate for a couple busts?

    • Voice of Reason

      Hey Popeye, what do you have in your spinach?

      There is no way the Sox are making that trade. They don’t want Jackson, they don’t want Barney, they might want Alcantara and they might take Soler. BUT, they aren’t taking that package for Sale.

      It’s going to take a lot more than the bag of bums you’re offering to get one of the best starters in the game.

      • ssckelley

        How about if we throw in Vitters and McNutt? Send them the BA 2011 top 100 prospect list, perhaps they won’t notice the year on it.

        • Voice of Reason

          Now that’s funny! lol

    • DarthHater

      Popeye, you’re supposed to eat the spinach, not smoke it.

  • Popeye

    So, that’s what it takes, huh. I’ve posted on here about 15 times, and that is the first time that I wasn’t ignored.