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- The Chicago Cubs did not, and probably will not, make a big splash this offseason.* Whether that was by design or by financial hardship, GM Jed Hoyer makes a compelling argument that “winning” the offseason really doesn’t matter much. “We’re obviously focused on trying to time things well and make sure that we have a long continuous winning streak/era,” Hoyer told Patrick Mooney, in a good piece about smaller offseason moves. “Trying to ramp that up too quickly [could] be something that really negatively impacts us. And I do think that historically there’s been a lot of moves that have been made for that reason: ‘This is what the fans want.’ You want to excite the fans in December, [but] you look back over the teams that quote-unquote ‘won the offseason’ and they almost always lost the offseason. I think that’s usually a pretty safe rule.” It certainly holds true in recent years: the Blue Jays, the Angels, and the Marlins are among the biggest of the big “winners” in the offseason over the past few years, and each failed to bear that winning out in the ensuing season.
- Is that just the recency effect? Just anecdotal? I think it probably has to do, mostly, with the fact that only the teams that make the biggest moves can be labeled offseason winners by media that is trying to appeal broadly. I suspect that, were we in the business of evaluating offseasons from a more analytical perspective, our choices of the “winners” and “losers” would be fairly different. That said, I don’t think you can call the Cubs, presently, either an offseason winner or loser. They haven’t done anything foolish, they’ve made a few small moves that make sense, but they haven’t done anything that blows your hair back. I can’t really get too jacked up about it in either direction. Besides, it’s only December, and I started out the offseason suggesting the Cubs take this very kind of slow-playing tack.
- *(Masahiro Tanaka would qualify as a big splash, and I do believe the Cubs will be legitimate pursuers if and when he’s posted. But guard your hearts: even at the most optimistic, I’d peg the Cubs’ odds at actually landing Tanaka no higher than 25% (lots of teams want him). That means, even if we’re right that the Cubs really, really want to get him, there’s still an overwhelming chance that they do not. Still, if you’re looking for the rare crowd-pleaser that actually makes sense during a rebuild, Tanaka’s it.)
- Wrigleyville West in Mesa could finally be getting underway soon, and it’ll start with a Sheraton hotel – not unlike its sister setup in Chicago.
- Pitchers should have the opportunity to wear special headgear next year to protect against career/life-threatening comebackers.