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starlin-castro-batThe Bears had some big offseason news yesterday, signing quarterback Jay Cutler to a seven-year, $126 million deal, but with just $54 million guaranteed over the first three years. What’s the baseball equivalent there? Strictly, it’s signing a very good center fielder/leadoff man (at age 31) to a three-year, $54 million deal with four consecutive expensive team options thereafter, or something like that. That’d be a pretty fantastic deal in today’s baseball world, but only because you’re never going to get a guy to sign a deal like that in the baseball world of uniformly guaranteed contracts. So what’s the actual equivalent here? Maybe something like five years and $90 million, plus a couple expensive team options, for that center fielder? Did I mention that there was a much cheaper center fielder who filled in admirably for a while this year … but he doesn’t have much of a pedigree and a great deal of his success looked like BABIP magic?

  • It’s New Year’s resolution time, which is an easy thing for sports writers to latch onto. The Cubs’ 2014 resolution, per SI? Fix Starlin Castro. If you could pick just one realistic thing to happen for the Cubs – not in terms of an outcome (“make the playoffs”), but in terms of some individual thing happening positively – would that be it? I’m not sure there’s one thing, on-field, that would help the Cubs more going forward than Castro re-emerging as an upper tier total value shortstop. Anthony Rizzo breaking out in a big way would be right up there. Travis Wood taking the step forward necessary to demonstrate that his previous success wasn’t just a luck-induced fluke would be huge. Junior Lake defying the odds and becoming an above-average starter in left field is up top, too. Jeff Samardzija (or Edwin Jackson) turning his peripherals into top-level outcomes. Welington Castillo taking the kind of step forward with his bat that he took with his glove last year. I suppose I could go on. But Castro is the big one.
  • If we’re going off-the-field, however, I’ll take a surprisingly lucrative new TV deal for the WGN games from 2015 to 2019 (and hopefully back with WGN, assuming the money is where the Cubs need it to be). Getting the Wrigley renovation underway and generating revenue (at least enough to offset the costs of the renovation, itself, for now) would be a very close second.
  • Speaking of the renovation, The National Trust for Historic Preservation came out with a list of 10 historic places saved in 2013, and Wrigley Field was one of them. Well, don’t count your chickens, National Trust for Historic Preservation, but maybe such a prestigious designation will be the final nudge that allows the Cubs and the rooftops to reach an agreement on getting the damn thing underway.
  • Cole Gillespie – remember him? – is gone. He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners yesterday.
  • Peter Gammons spoke to Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, briefly considered by the Cubs for their vacancy, who says that the Cubs got the right guy in Rick Renteria.
  • As Carrie Muskat reminds us, don’t forget the DeJesus Family Foundation’s karaoke charity event taking place January 16 (the day before the Cubs Convention starts). Details here.
  • CubbiesOHCubbies

    I’m pretty sure I remember a few baseball folks saying that the Cubs got the right guy when they hired Dale Sveum. I guess time will tell….

    • cub-hub

      I thought Dale Sveum was the perfect hire. I also felt it was time to fire him. You make mistakes. Rick Renteria has a good track record for handling young players, and we have a few of those on the roster and many more coming.

      • terencemann

        If they felt Sveum wasn’t the right guy to mentor the young players then I think letting him go was absolutely the right move. I was glad he found something else so quickly, though. I think the Royals have done well this off-season to address their needs and could be better in 2014 than last season.

    • CubFan Paul

      “I’m pretty sure I remember a few baseball folks”

      Just a few ..They should of gotten Giradi the first time around, pre 2011

      • cub-hub

        You mean when he was still under contract with the Yankees? How was that going to happen?

        • CubFan Paul

          No part-timer, Giradi signed a new contract before the 2011 season that lasted 3 seasons

          • cub-hub

            Correct. But our Current FO has only been in charge since the end of 2011. Hire Girardi at that point would have been a Hendry decision.

  • cub-hub

    I really feel the Cubs have several players, Rizzo, Castro, Castillo all have the potential to be top 5 at there positions, who will take a big step toward this year. Not to mention Lake, Shark, Wood, Jackson, Arrieta and a much improved BP. Let hope they all prove me right.

  • Forlines

    Well, I guess there’s a whole bunch of people who are considered ‘Baseball folks’, so you could be right, but I don’t think many of them had opinions that are highly regarded. No need to be down on the hire until he screws the pooch; if so, nail him to the wall.

    To me, the biggest resolution that doesn’t pretain to our overall record at the end of this next season is Castro regaining his form.

  • When The Musics Over

    Jay Cutler is not a very good QB. While QB rating isn’t the end all be all of stats, it’s a pretty decent indicator of how well he performs, and for his career Cutler is just about league average, perhaps slightly better. But such is the NFL. I guess it’s better to have a slightly above average QB locked up for massive money than the downside of QB insecurity.

    As for Sveum, has the front office ever taken blame for making the wrong hire? I feel as if they skirted around it. I could be wrong though.

    • CubFan Paul

      “Jay Cutler is not a very good QB”

      But better than all the other Bear qbs to have worn the jersey, unless you go back to 1963

      • cavemancubbie

        Jim McMahan (sic)

    • baldtaxguy

      “As for Sveum, has the front office ever taken blame for making the wrong hire? I feel as if they skirted around it. I could be wrong though.”

      I am struggling to recall any GM for any team in any sport that speaks the words “I admit I made a mistake hiring ____________”

      • cub-hub

        When the Cleveland Browns fired Chudzinski the other day, after just one year, they admitted they made the wrong hire and there was no need to go further just because it’s only been 1 year. But yea, it is rare and that was actually refreshing to hear from a FO/Ownership group.

  • terencemann

    My number one wish is definitely seeing Castro return to hitting closer to his career averages. I feel like Rizzo should bounce-back on his own as he probably won’t be quite so unlucky in the future. Even if he only gets up to around a .270-something BABIP, that would represent a huge gain in OBP and AVG over last season.

    My second wish is that Castillo will improve on his receiving skills. His defense on batted balls was incredible this season and that’s a great skill to have but he needs to work on his receiving skills if he’s going to catch most games going forward.

    My irrational wish is that Arrietta finally starts to find the command/control that allows him to be a viable starter.

  • Vic

    One Resolution:

    Mike Olt being healthy and fulfilling his potential at 3rd.

    Downstream impact…
    – Puts a quality bat behind Rizzo.
    – Bryant can move to outfield.
    – Baez can move to second or better yet outfield with Alcantara at second.
    – Trade Barney – for what its worth.

    • Chad

      Why does everyone want to move Baez to the outfield? Infield gloves don’t come around that often. I’d rather see him stick at 2B and include Alcantara in a trade if possible.

      • cub-hub

        If they all pan out and turn into stars, and we keep them all, I could careless where they play. That is highly unlikely though, and moving Baez to the outfield would crush his value. If he doesn’t stick at SS for any of numerous reasons, he’ll be at 2B or 3B.

      • CubFan Paul

        Alcantara is definitely surplus for a trade (with Olt at 3B and Baez at 2B)

        • cubzfan

          Alcantara would be the most likely to move to the outfield, because his glove isn’t as good as the other two guys. However, he’s young enough to improve on defense, and I think will account for more offensive value than Olt over the long haul.

          My guess, and that’s all it is, is that if Olt is healthy and productive, he’ll get traded for pitching before the 2015 season and Alcantara will get a solid shot at a starting position.

          • cub-hub

            Alcantara could end up being a really good CF. I really think he will move to the outfield before Baez or Bryant. However, we never know who may get traded before these guys come.

          • CubFan Paul

            “Alcantara…young enough to improve on defense, and I think will account for more offensive value than Olt over the long haul”

            Olt is supposed to be a 25HR, 80plus rbi guy with plus 3B defense…

            “if Olt is healthy and productive, he’ll get traded for pitching before the 2015 season”

            Why would the Cubs trade their starting third baseman who has 4 plus yeas of control? Chances are: Bryant RF, Baez 2B, Lake LF or CF and Castro SS in 2015.

            • cub-hub

              Olt actually has 6 yrs of control left.

              • CubFan Paul

                Not after 2014 (when cubzfan wants to trade him)

                • cub-hub

                  Oh, I get it. :-D

  • Cubsin

    I expect Castro will be fine. I’m hoping Mike Olt can return to his 2012 form, Chris Bosio can teach Jake Arrieta to be a more consistent MLB pitcher and our front office finds another starting pitcher to fill out the rotation.

    • http://BleacherNation blewett

      I hope his name is Masahiro Tanaka.

  • Praying For The Cubs To Win

    My wish is for many of the Cubs to have good seasons if not career years and they actually have a good season. I know if they do they won’t get as a good a draft pick but they have a really nice minor league group of kids and watching them lose 90 plus games again, will begin to hurt attendance more and brings out the boo birds which ultimately hurts some of the players and in a negative world it’s hard for all players to have good season and not be affected by all the booing that goes on. It’s hard to come to the park when your team is 20 games out. Winning is contagious and we need a good start out of the gate this year. Though I think the Cubs will only win 75 games, I am hoping they can have some success and win as many as 85 games.

    • cub-hub

      Run-on much. :-D

  • Rizzo44

    I believe the Cubs have the best farm team in baseball. I also think Olt will be the real deal and that Garza trade will be even better than most people expected. I think he will be an All Star. I think Baez will be up not long after the break. So it’s going to be a fun year.

    • cub-hub

      I have high hopes for Olt, myself, but not that high. I tell you what, if Olt is an all-star this year, then I will buy you and myself a ticket to the game. :-D

      • Chad

        I don’t think he meant all-star this year, but pehaps down the road as he continues to develop. I am very hopeful Olt’s vision has been fixed and we can actually see what kind of player he will be.

    • BenRoethig

      I think he could be. I also don’t think the eye problem is going away. It could be career ending. I don’t think Texas would have parted unless they considered it terminal to his baseball career.

      • cub-hub

        I dont think the Cubs would have acquired him if they thought it was terminal to his baseball career.

        • BenRoethig

          They probably didn’t see it coming back. The eye drops were helping. Then he had to discontinue the eye drops and it came back.

          • CubFan Paul

            No, that’s common with a busted tear duct (‘it coming back’)

      • CubFan Paul

        “I don’t think Texas would have parted unless they considered it terminal to his baseball career”

        Texas was trading their surplus depth because they’re contenders with veterans locked up longterm

    • TTH

      I’d be shocked if Olt made the all star team.

      In the PCL

  • Vic

    Olt being healthy and productive triggers a lot of possibilities.

    • baldtaxguy

      I agree, it does, which, if it does, will be an intriguing development during the season. If he regains his vision and his form, it will be fun to add his production to that of the other 3 that came in the Garza trade to really get a better assessment as to how good that deal was.

  • Praying For The Cubs To Win

    I agree our minor league system is so improved, it might be the best. This season has the possibility of being a fun season.

    • CubChymyst

      A big possibility is a trade from the surplus that creates to land a pitcher. I still don’t see the FO keeping both Baez and Castro.

      • CubFan Paul

        “I still don’t see the FO keeping both Baez and Castro”

        Why?

        • cub-hub

          Yeah. I don’t get that. Baez and Castro would be the easiest problem to figure out. The Cubs would probably prefer if Bryant, Baez, Alcantara and several others were all AS. A SS can play any other position, including 1st base.

          • BenRoethig

            On top of that, both Bryant and Olt can play corner outfield. We have flexibility.

        • baldtaxguy

          I think keeping both in the middle infield positions would be a huge goal if these collective defense can improve. I would love this scenario and I cannot believe this is not a viable scenario for the FO, again, assuming the defense is there.

        • CubChymyst

          The front office is going to want to put forth a balance line up so I think they will create space for an extra LH bat somewhere (outfield or infield). SS have large trade value so either one could bring back a pitcher to help anchor the rotation. If both can play shortstop and hit in the MLB then one will get traded for a pitching and to make room for a LH hitter at a different position. This of course only matters if Baez succeeds (and enough other prospects as well) enough to push the FO to make a decision between the 2.

          • CubFan Paul

            Baez won’t play SS in the majors for anybody. Even if he was traded, his new team would move him to 3B, 2B, or CF/OF.

            It’s not a negative, because his bat plays anywhere.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Aren’t both big improvements over Barney?

  • cubzfan

    I do think Castro will get back to career norms this year, and continue to improve on defense. But my “pick to click” is Arrieta. I think he’ll become at least as good as Travis Wood this year, and will allow them to deal either him or another starter to improve the offense. If he actually puts it together for a string of 10 starts early in the year, it opens a lot of possibilities.

    • cub-hub

      Considering we are loaded with bats in the minors, if Arrieta has a breakout year, and Wood continues from last year, that’s more reason to keep them, not trade them for offense.

  • Vic

    I wish we knew more about Olt’s health – progress.

  • BenRoethig

    I don’t think the Tribune is going to make any kind of serious bid unless they want to start a regional sports network. I think Fox is going all in through WFLD. What I think you’ll see is a WFLD sports 32.2 sub channel with the 70 cubs games and the existing Bears programming. Like the Bears games, the Cubs games will be available for rebroadcast to Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa Fox affiliates. The less likely outcome is Comcast/NBC sports starting a Cubs focused sister network to CSN Chicago (which could also serve as replacement to CSN+). But I don’t see the Trib putting up north of $1 million per game.

  • Cubsin

    I’d really like to see the Cubs be close to .500 at the end of April. In 2012 and 2013, an awful bullpen put the Cubs in a deep, deep hole going into May.

    • CubFan Paul

      It wasn’t just the bullpen…

    • Blackhawks1963

      Going to be tough to be a .500 club given the projected lineup. The outfield situation is about as weak as it can get right now. Plus until Baez and Bryant and Alcantara arrive the situation at 3rd base and 2nd base is very dubious.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I’m not a fan of Starlin Castro. I think he settles in to be a .270 ish type hitter with a .310 or so OBP. To go along with a lackadaisical style of play. The NANOSECOND he recovers any of his market value I trade him.

    Looking forward to the day where Castro becomes an ex-Cub and is somebody else’s garbage to deal with.

    • Isaac

      I am far from a patsy-thinking “let’s protect everyone’s feelings”, but calling Starlin garbage seems unacceptable both from a courtesy standpoint and from a production standpoint. He has collected 692 hits before his 24th birthday. That alone is something almost no one has achieved.

      • Blackhawks1963

        You’re entitled to your opinion. I personally side with a growing number of Cub fans who are disgusted with Starlin Castro and his commitment to excellence. The guy is garbage who got his big payday and proceeded to not care. He’s a dog in the field too.

        I don’t like him. I want him gone. Soon. Please.

        • Isaac

          We’ll agree to disagree from a production standpoint.

          I would certainly like to think you’re in a tiny minority of fans that deem calling someone “garbage” acceptable based on your *opinion* of his work-ethic (which happens to appear to be flat wrong. All reports I’ve read say he has worked his tail off to achieve what he has).

          • Jon

            Wow, you take things too personal. and when he said let someone else deal with the garbage I think he meant the issues of said player as a whole(inconsistencies, lack of concentration on the field, off the field issues), maybe not directly the individual itself.

            • Isaac

              Nothing I’ve said demonstrates a personal affront to his statements in any fashion. I am merely pointing out that the words he chose are not constructive, and in no way helpful to the conversation.

              “Looking forward to the day where Castro becomes an ex-Cub and is somebody else’s garbage to deal with.”

              “The guy is garbage”

              He blatantly and openly stated “the guy is garbage”. Entirely the person himself. It’s speculative, damaging and hateful. It shouldn’t be said.

              • Blackhawks1963

                Good grief. Let me clarify…I think Starlin Castro is a garbage ballplayer. A toxin that I don’t want on the Cubs. I know nothing of him on a personal level and have not besmirched his character. Whether he cooks meth on the side or helps little old ladies to cross the street is inconsequential to my opinion of disliking him as a ballplayer on the Cubs.

                • JB88

                  You aren’t digging yourself out of your hole by saying “a toxin that I don’t want on the Cubs.”

                • Jon

                  Cooking meth doesn’t make you a bad person.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    heisenberg

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I am inclined to agree. It is unacceptable to call Castro – or any other player/coach/executive/fellow poster – garbage. Let that be the last time. Stick to the reported information, what you’ve seen with your eyes, and the stats. Blanket name-calling and/or personal attacks are for children and other sites.

                • Blackhawks1963

                  I don’t like Starlin Castro the ballplayer. Period. Talk about political correctness run amuk. If you want to ban me for stating my opinion on a ballplayer then by all means go ahead. I was not the one who took this conversation down the rathole. That would be the over-sensitive bunch whose feelings got hurt when I didn’t align with the optimistic thinking that Starlin Castro will rebound fabulously and be a pillar of strength for the Cubs.

                  • JB88

                    Nice strawman. The poster who called you out didn’t do so because he was annoyed that you weren’t lining up with others that Castro will rebound. He was calling you out for calling Castro garbage. Which you then did in your next post, followed up by you calling him a toxin.

    • Voice of Reason

      Blackhawks,

      We’re paying Castro peanuts to play shortstop every day for us. Because of that they are not trading him unless they are overwhelmed by an offer.

      If he hits .270 with a .310 obp then we are getting really solid value at the shortstop position. That’s what’s needed to win World Series.

      There are times where he loses concentration and there are times that he makes bone-headed plays. That’s where the coaches need to step in and coach!

      • Isaac

        This is all very true. I also think people have forgotten that he is 23. He’s accomplished an enormous amount at a very young age. Not everyone is Mike Trout. Starlin had two VERY good seasons before a down 2013. Give him a chance to rebound.

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