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curtains close endWhile 2013 was a crappy one from my sports fandom perspective, it was a blessed one in every other way. The Wife and I celebrated our (*does quick finger counting*) seventh year of marriage. The Little Girl turned two. We had a Little Boy. The site has grown beyond my expectations. Luke has continued to do incredible prospecting work. Jay has taken over as the Bears guy. Sahadev and I kept podcasting (until the holidays, anyway). The community here impresses and heartens me every day, even as we figure out the best ways to proceed. Don’t think for a moment that I don’t feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I love for a living, and I will continue to do my best to reward your support with coverage that is consistent, timely, deep, broad, and hopefully insightful and humorous.

As for the Cubs … I still think the future for the Cubs looks bright, and there was tangible, legitimate progress in 2013, even if it was painful to watch the big league team once again.

  • Jesse Rogers takes his turn at summing up the 2013 year with a five-deep list of “best” things, and a five-deep list of “worst” things. It’s an interesting grouping (complete with the non-renovation of Wrigley taking the top spot on the worst list). Donnie Murphy’s legitimately nice (short) stretch with the Cubs makes the “best” list, which might say all you need to know about the relative successes of the rest of the team.
  • (When charged with coming up with these best and worst lists, I wonder if it was hard for anyone not to complete their worst list thusly: “The 2013 Chicago Cubs.”)
  • Carrie Muskat does the 2013 sum-up thing, too, with five storylines from the year.
  • Tony Andracki writes a great piece on the other teams in the NL Central, and where they stand looking forward. Do yourself a favor: have your New Year’s Eve cocktail handy when you read about the Cardinals. I’m instantly struck – once again – by how important it will be for the Cubs to leverage their should-be large market advantage in the coming years if they’re going to quickly compete with the Cardinals. Without a financial advantage, even if all of the Cubs’ big-time prospects pan out, we’re looking (1) at a very long time before the team can be good; and (2) at a long-term brick wall in the form of the Cardinals’ extremely rich, young, already-Major-League-ready talent base. Eff. I need that cocktail.
  • Ever wonder what was going on behind the scenes as the Yankee/ARod drama devolved into an absurdist comedy last Summer? Well, thanks to New York Magazine, you can see for yourself: the emails between team president Randy Levine and Alex Rodriguez. Absolutely ridiculous.
  • MLBTR interviews long-time, well-traveled pitcher C.J. Nitkowski, who offers a shocking anecdote about recently-signed (minor league deal) pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada while discussing the workload difference between baseball in Japan and the States: “The big thing, when [Masahiro Tanaka] gets here, is the workload away from games. The pitch counts in bullpens are [what] always blew me away. Tsuyoshi Wada was a teammate of mine in Japan. He’s a smaller guy, doesn’t throw as hard. He was a guy I was worried about. He threw a 247-pitch bullpen in spring training one year, and I remember sitting there and watching the end of it. It was ridiculous. He was exhausted. And he wasn’t even doing anything productive.” Holy. Crap.
  • If you think about Masahiro Tanaka as a prospect – one worth as much as $150 million in total outlay – Dave Cameron wonders how much that makes tip top prospects worth. If he were a free agent today, would Xander Bogaerts get $200 million?
  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Sorry. Not sure why comments were closed on this post – it has nothing to do with anything. Just a fluke.

    • mjhurdle

      whew, for a second there i was worried that i wouldn’t get my daily “Cubs have 0% chance at Tanaka” update in the comment section. :)

      • hansman

        I hyperventilated.

    • Norm

      You’re a fluke.

      I kid. Good year Brett, Happy NY to you and yours.

      I read that Fangraphs article you linked to yesterday and I have to say, my mind is changing on signing Tanaka.
      If Tanaka is ranked as a prospect, I’d have to think he’d fall behind Archie Bradley and Taijuan Walker, and I don’t think I’d give them 6-$120M contract if they were FA’s, so perhaps I’ve just bought into the hype train on Tanaka.

    • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com Tommy (TC)

      Don’t lie Brett! We all know you’re trying to surpress negative discussion of the Cubs, and of course the comments are turned off on a post with lots of negative bullets about the CUBS!!

      Kidding, of course

    • waittilthisyear

      hey Brett, i’ve had trouble registering in preparation for the new year. before i try to figure it out in the comment section, is there a more proper forum for me to ask you/your IT guy a couple questions? and happy new year to all the BN community, hopefully my screen name makes more sense in twelve and a half hours. cheers!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        There will be an FAQ up soon, but what problem are you having? 95% of problems involve not receiving the activation email because your spam folder ate it, or because you made an oopsie when typing in your email address.

        • waittilthisyear

          hey hey i looked again and the trouble i found was in fact my own

  • fresno cub fan

    Brett, thank you again for all that you do to enrich our Cubs-experience! You provide (what I think is) the best resource for all things Cubs. While I do not post much here, I value my visit here everyday. And for you and your wonderful family….have a great New Year!

  • Gregorius

    Open.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    Brett
    Thanks for all the hard work you put in this year. I greatly appreciate it & its an awesome blog. Hope you and all of the BNers out there have a healthy, happy new year filled with better baseball!

  • C. Steadman

    Happy New Years Eve to Brett, Luke and all the Cubs faithful on this blog! we’re all in it together :P

  • http://www.eyecanseeinc.com Leo the Cub

    The Cardinals have the model that every team should emulate. Cubs started this process and it will be a better organization in the long run than Cards IF the farm system produces, IF players are developed; IF the so called big market revenues begin to produce BIG revenues….thus allowing for great farm system and great player development.

  • http://www.eyecanseeinc.com Leo the Cub

    I read this site every day and thank you again Brett

  • Isaac

    Keep up the good work, Brett. You’re insight and humor adds to my life every single day.

    Happy New Year to you and your growing family, as well as everyone here in the Bleacher Nation community.

    • Isaac

      *Your

  • Bluz Cluz

    The A-Rod emails………Wow. Now im glad we didn’t consider Cano. I want A-Rod out of baseball about as bad as I can want something, but I dont feel the Yankees should benefit. They have definitely create an environment where their players feel comfortable using, and not really hiding it. The commits needs to handle this crap. I cant think of to many things worse than a cheater.

    • Bluz Cluz

      Commish not commits.

    • hansman

      I just can’t get over the high school girl language used. U no wat I mean?

      • Bluz Cluz

        I kno wat U mean. I was think’N da saym thing.

      • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

        I’ve never understood why someone would type sentence after sentence of proper grammar and then randomly throw in a ‘u’ instead of ‘you’.

    • Revery

      I agree. Those “bad jokes” about basically suggesting players take steroids is absolutely ridiculous. I do not even fully buy into perception as reality, but to reference steroids as a cure to injury to freakin ARod of all people. How does the man not get fined, fired, etc?

  • Jake Mac

    The craziest/most depressing thing about the Cardinals article is the fact that they got rid of two outfielders this offseason, and STILL don’t have to roll out Oscar Taveras if they don’t want. Happy New Year, indeed.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I had the exact same thought.

  • Darth Ivy

    What’s the higher level of play, AAA or Japan (specifically, Tanaka’s league)?

    One reason Tanaka might be worth more than a top notch prospect is that he’s proven himself at a higher level, if his league is tougher than AAA like I imagen it is. That’s why signings like Longoria aren’t common, because teams might not like giving $100+ for mastering AAA

    • Darth Ivy

      $100 million+, duh

    • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com Tommy (TC)

      The NPB might be a slightly higher level of play, but probably not by much. That’s a league where a guy like Wladimir Balentin is the new single-season Home Run champion, and Matt Murton holds the single-season hits record

      • Darth Ivy

        I think the issue is better explained by the way minor leaguers simply aren’t paid as quickly when they’re called up as Japanese players when they come over, rather than the difference in skill level between AAA and Japan

        • Darth Ivy

          or wait, was that the question that is trying to get explained? ugh, I’m too tired to think shit out.

          It’s probably more because teams have to pay japanese players the money, while they have plenty of control over their minor leaguers they call up.

          If I’m not making sense, I apologize. I shouldn’t be giving my thoughts on anything until my third cup of coffee

  • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com Tommy (TC)

    The David Cameron article is interesting, but it mostly ignores that Free Agent prices are so high because the talent is so scarce. Bogaerts on his own might get $100mil+, but if you threw the entire minors up for grabs, the number would come down significantly (well, maybe not for Bogaerts, since he’s basically a MLB’er already). I think he’s misreading a rich league responding to an extreme scarcity of talent as a league that now really values prospcets.

    • Darth Ivy

      plus it’s just not that common to give a guy a $100mil+ contract right when he gets called up. Tanaka is getting the money even before he pitches in his first MLB game. The fastest contract I can think of was Longoria. I can’t think of another player who got a huge contract virtually immediately

      • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com Tommy (TC)

        Well again, that’s not common because there’s no need for a team to give out a contract like that, players are cost controlled while they’re young by rule

        • bbmoney

          Exactly. The team already controls MiLB players for 6 years of MLB service, the first three for dirt cheap. It’s just a different set of circumstances.

        • Darth Ivy

          haha, yeah, that’s what I was getting at above. We’re on the same page, just on different comment threads. I’m way too tired right now. Read above and it’ll explain everything

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very good point.

      • Darth Ivy

        you should have something like a breath-a-lizer but for people being too tired to properly produce sound thoughts. that would’ve saved Tommy a little time in his day

        I’ll leave the logisticcs up to Darth Hater

        • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com Tommy (TC)

          Dude, you’re fine, if I needed that time back in my day I wouldn’t have come to the comments section in the first place

  • DCF

    Great writeup of the year, even though I can’t see where the Cubs really made any “legitimate” progress this year. I mean they did make several improvements, but at this pace the Cubs would need 10 more years for the rebuild.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If the minors, on the whole, progressed – both in terms of development and acquisition – at the same rate in 2014 as it did in 2013, the Cubs would be poised to be dominant in 2015 in the bigs, and would have the clear top system in baseball at that time. That’s how rapidly some of their youngsters developed, and how impressive the level of acquisition was.

      To be clear, I don’t think either of those things will quite repeat next year.

      • Darth Ivy

        “That’s how rapidly some of their youngsters developed”

        Like, good player development? Like, something I’ve never seen from this organization before? Like, awesome!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          The quality of the player development recently is a marked improvement over what we’ve seen in the past.

          Hendry gets hammered for bad drafts (with various degrees of justification), but I suspect the biggest reason the Cubs had a hard time producing major league talent for a stretch there had less to do with the drafts (which often could have been better… but then, find me a team whose drafts couldn’t have been better), and more to do with the Cubs inability to develop the talent they got.

          On a baseball wide scale, I’m not sure the Cubs prospects did anything all that unusually good in 2013. Compared to what we are used to as Cub fans, though, it was extremely impressive.

          It is possible, quite possible, that 2014 could exceed 2013 in that area.

  • Cubfan Budman

    Thanx Brett for all you do and your wonderful blog I don’t comment /reply often but I read and or check in everyday! ! I truly appreciate all the regular’s and their commentary! If I can find a fault it would be your a damn Michigan fan lol!!! Happy New Year to you , your growing family, and all of Bleacher Nation

  • waffle

    thank you brett. You do a great job w/ the site and handling us immature sorts

    It’s mostly about the minors and streamlining the revenue stream. The top tier FA’s will come later, although I can see the argument for Tanaka as opposed to most of the other warm bodies out there this year

    and remember, we have another high position draft coming up….If we keep on drafting like we have under the theo regime our minors are just going to get better and better.

  • MightyBear

    Thanks Brett. Another great year at BN with you and Luke. Happy New Year and I hope its a good one for the Cubs.

  • gocubs

    Hey Brett when are you doing the next podcast?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sometime after the flip of the calendar. We gave up trying to find a day that matched for us with the holidays. Too much travel, kid sickness/time at home, etc.

  • Napercal

    Thanks for your efforts Brett. Your coverage gives this old Cub fan hope that he may yet see a World Series flag fly over Wrigley Field (if it ever gets renovated).

  • cavemencubbie

    Believe some think the pitch count on Tanaka’s arm is a worry. I’m ‘meh’ on Tanaka, I guess from the Fukadome experience. Japanese league baseball is basically AAA, some prospects make it in the MLB, some don’t. I’m glad I don’t have to make a decision on a 100 million plus contract.

  • Doctor_Blair

    After reading that A-rod article Levine sounds like the consummate bad-guy here. There is always context to consider, but the way this is framed makes A-rod look like a guy who really wants to play for the club and please a guy whom he perceives is looking out for him. If I were a betting man I’d also bet that Levine has some involvement in pointing A-rod to Biogenesis. I wonder how much merit there is for his legal defense in pinning using PEDs on Levine.

  • cubsin

    Some encouraging thoughts about the Cubs versus Cardinals.

    Holliday is signed through age 37, with an option in 2017.

    Wainwright is signed through age 37.

    Molina is signed through age 35, with an option in 2018.

    Peralta is signed through age 36.

    Craig is signed through age 32, with an option in 2018.

    Lance Lynn and Matt Carpenter each have >2 years of service time.

    Kelly, Rosenthal and Miller each have >1 year of service time.

    Wacha, Wang, Siegrist and Maness have started their service time clocks.

    The Cards already have $55.5 million committed to payroll in 2017, versus the Cubs $19.

    None of our top prospects have started their service time yet, and none will be called up soon enough to qualify for arbitration before 2018.

    If things go well with the Cubs, they could compete for a wild card slot in 2015 and 2016, and knock the Cards from their perch in 2017. If they win the Tanaka sweepstakes and extend Samardzijah, they could speed up that timetable.

    • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

      Cubsin, what a defining post…can’t wait to pass the cards.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I like your positivity, cubsin.

      • CubFan Paul

        Positivity is one way to describe that…

      • terencemann

        Amen to positive thinking. Here’s to hoping Baez and Bryant stay the course next year.

    • CubFan Paul

      “they could compete for a wild card slot in 2015 and 2016, and knock the Cards from their perch in 2017″

      Because the Cards will quit trying to compete like the Cubs and do a one-sided rebuild?

  • Aaron

    Happy New Year Brett, Luke and all the crazy contributors of this blog site I discovered earlier this year!

  • MaxM1908

    Brett,
    Thank you again for all you do. This blog is my daily internet stop no matter how busy I am at work. I don’t know what I would do without it. Your analysis of and enthusiasm for all things Cubs is truly extraordinary.

    I recently received my BleacherNation shirt and plan on getting some photos in front of Big Ben and Tower Bridge before I leave London in February. I also have trips to Stockholm and Paris planned for January where I can hopefully squeeze in a pic or two. I hope they’ll make the cut for the next BleacherNation around the World instalment.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice! Thanks, Max. Enjoy the New Year.

  • LER

    This appearance of this site was a red-letter day (maybe blue-letter), and it only gets better with time. The addition of the Bears section fills one of my other deep needs. This is where the day starts for me–even before coffee.

  • jsorensen

    The Cardinals are in an envious position that’s for sure. They make mistakes too, Zach Cox (2009 1st), Brett Wallace (2008 1st) both come to mind.

    But when your 2012 1st Rounder is Michael Wacha, everyone notices.

    They’ve had some bad drafts: 2010 was very bad, didn’t even produce one bench role player, a back of the pen reliever, or anything tradeable yet. Probably won’t.

    Their 2008 draft outside of Lance Lynn(1st Round supp.) & Kevin Siegrist(41st rounder), wait a minute, retract. Compared to a year like 2009, 2008 looks weak but pretty much any team would take that as a return, along with the trade value of guys they used in trades from that draft.

    Their 2006 draft produced Craig, Jay, Shane Robinson, and guys who were either used to trade (Luke Gregerson, David Carpenter, Chris Perez) or have produced for other teams Ottavino (Rockies on waivers).

    Their 2007 draft has produced Kozma (#1) & Descalso along with a fairly long list of guys who have played in the majors but none as a regular outside of those two.

    2009 was incredibly good (Miller Kelly Carpenter Rosenthal Adams, and there are still a couple of other players who might contribute as something) almost like they sold their drafting souls to the devil that year.

    They used some of their mistakes like Wallace & Shane Peterson from 2008 draft (#1 & #3 round picks) along with Clayton Mortensen (#1 supplemental in 2007) to get Matt Holliday from the A’s.

    The Cards have been drafting really well starting in 2005. There were players picked from 2000 to 2005 who turned out but t seems to lack a consistent vision. Molina was a 4th in 2000, and there were a few players of note, though outside on Dan Haren (2001 2nd), no stars or super valuable trade pieces from 2000 through 2004.

    The Cards can also sign foreign players really well: guys like Taveras & Martinez as quick examples, though this seems like a lesser skill of theirs.

    All this said, I think the Cubs are on the right track. The Cardinals didn’t happen by accident, there was obviously luck involved, but they have constructed their team in what probably is the best possible way: draft well, trade smart, sign for need. I know that sounds dumb, but oh well. Outside of praying for Cardinal injury or for their guys to suddenly go bad, Cubs fans have to be patient because doing it this way we can have a shot at a decade or success not just a patchwork year here & there. imo.

  • Cardfan

    Congratulation to you, Brett – on a successful year here and, more importantly, on a seven years of marriage and a growing family. Keep up the good work on all fronts.

    As for the rest of you sick freaks…Happy New Year. May all your wishes that DON’T involve the complete collapse of the St. Louis Cardinals organization come true…

  • Jason

    Don’t forget about the Make-a-Wish donation too Brett! That’s something we should all be proud of for sure!

  • Lyle Ernst

    The best to you and yours, Brett, in 2014. You do a terrific job on reporting Cubs news. I turn to you first thing every day. And, I recommend BN on every opportunity.

  • baldtaxguy

    Brett, Happy New Year to you and your family, and thank you so much for the hard work and fun you put into this site. This is a must visit site for me each day and it adds so much to my “fan experience.” Keep up the great work!!

  • MichiganGoat

    Happy New Year to BN and all the rest of you cuddly bums. Have a great beer tonight.

    • TOOT

      You too man.

    • waittilthisyear

      just enjoyed a 3 floyds jinx proof. pretty good. old rasputin up next, of which im already familiar. will have to clean my pallet after that beast

      • Diesel

        Why bother cleaning the pallet? Just have another Old Rasputin.

        • MichiganGoat

          Never clean the palate after Old Rasputin has gotten ahold of you. Hold on and enjoy the ride with that mad Russian.

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