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lukewarm stoveThe holidays really played with things this year. Christmas Day and New Years Day fall on the same day of the week every year. When it’s a weekend day, the intervening weeks proceed almost normally with respect to baseball operations/rumors/etc. When the holiday day is a Monday or a Friday, you still pretty much have a couple full weeks in there. Tuesday/Thursday? There’s some disruption, but in either case, you can still have two three-day weeks. But Wednesday? That’s just two blown-up weeks right there. It’s been quiet around baseball for those two weeks, understandably. We had the Masahiro Tanaka posting news on Christmas, but that was it. I suspect that’s going to change, starting with this week. Back to business.

  • The Blue Jays and Cubs are still having discussions about a Jeff Samardzija trade, according to Ken Rosenthal. That said, the Jays remain very likely to sign one of the Garza/Santana/Jimenez group, and they aren’t going to move on Samardzija until that market plays out. Samardzija is, to my mind, the best bet of the four to give the most value over the next two years (after which, you don’t necessarily have Samardzija anymore, but the other three might not provide a lot of value after that point anyway, and you’re paying them a hell of a lot). And he’ll cost, for two years, less than the salary of one year of the other three. The problem, of course, remains the huge prospect asking price of the Cubs.
  • A source tells Rosenthal that, despite conflicting rumors, the Mariners might not be a lock to make another big spendy move. Although the front office is still considering Tanaka, David Price and Nelson Cruz, Rosenthal’s source says they’ve got to first convince ownership to keep their foot on the gas. As we’ve discussed at length, signing only Robinson Cano wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense, given the Mariners’ needs.
  • Speaking of Tanaka, Andrew Marchand notes his belief that the Cubs, Dodgers, and Rangers could go toe-to-toe with the Yankees in terms of dollars for Tanaka. The focus of his piece, however, is whether the decision will really come down to the Mariners and the Yankees. What I continue to wonder: what can the Cubs use to sell Tanaka on coming to Chicago, assuming the contract offers are in the same range (you’d like for the Cubs to not have to absolutely blow away the other suitors – that’s the fast track to a lead shoes contract)? The promise of being the clear ace? The chance to finally do it for the Cubs? Is that really going to matter to him?
  • The Yankees aren’t the only luxury tax cap story going out there. From one team trying to get under the cap to another team trying to stay under it, the Angels have only about $13 to $15 million left in space before busting past the $189 million mark, according to Rosenthal. That’s of considerable relevance as the Angels fancy themselves Tanaka suitors. Right now, they don’t have the room to get him and stay under the cap without unloading some salary (which doesn’t look too easy). Rosenthal argues that blowing past the cap is coming at some point for the Angels anyway (Mike. Trout.), so they might as well do it now. Maybe the Angels should be considered serious players for Tanaka, too?
  • Speaking of Rosenthal, he’s noting something I mentioned back at the outset of the offseason: with free agent contracts exploding, even for older, marginal talent, perhaps more and more players will eschew team-friendly extensions during their pre-arb and arb years in favor of taking a chance at free agency. The pendulum could swing quickly, and free agent classes could start improving dramatically within a few years. (Rosenthal sees things playing out an additional way, with more teams trading guys that they can’t extend.)
  • When The Musics Over

    I wonder how long it will take until top tier starting pitchers are paid $1M+ per start. Just think about it, X player doesn’t have his best stuff that day, and only goes 2 2/3 IP. You just paid that guy $375K per IP that day.

  • http://bleachernation 29bigcat

    Sad but true

  • http://bleachernation 29bigcat

    Cruz not good def. But id like to see us sign him two yrs 35m…an flip him in july,thats when soler will be ready for call up an service time wont be affected.fft

    • Blackhawks1963

      Cruz is a severe liability defensively. He really should be limited to the DH role. He’s also 33 years old and a PED guy. He’s likely to sulk too when he gets signed to a new contract that is far, far less than his stated objective for a 4 year $75 million deal.

      A big no thanks. Don’t want him.

      • http://bleachernation 29bigcat

        I thnk to flip him yes..trade deadline an first half protection for rizzo..im not a criz fan jus think it makes sense,teams get desperate at deadline..jus sayin

        • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

          Even if he were to be flipped, it’s still not worth the risk, draft pick/slot money, and roster spot.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Soler needs to get to AA before he gets called up and don’t see him making it to the show this year under any circumstances.

    • Kyle

      Soler *might* be ready for AA by July.

      • Danny Ballgame

        He will probably have to play 60+ games in Daytona and play well to get to Tennessee this year.

        • terencemann

          Soler probably won’t be in the majors this season (I agree that he’ll probably end the season in AA) but you could see Olt, Bryant, Vitters, Villanueva and/or Baez ready to get some MLB action and they can’t all play third base.

          • Danny Ballgame

            Olt, Baez, Vitters, Bryant should all play for the big club at some point this year. Not sure about Villanueva. He would be blocked at 3rd and 2nd by all others mentioned as well as Alcantara. I hope that we get to see many new, young faces playing on the north side this year.

      • Xruben31

        He’ll start in AA with a strong ST.

    • bridgeview_jay

      2 yrs $35 million for Cruz…..seriously?

  • Blackhawks1963

    I’m of the opinion that neither Price or Samardzija get traded this offseason. Nobody is willing or able to meet the asking price of the Rays and Cubs. In the case of Tampa Bay, it looks like they will go for broke and try to win with Price in 2014. I think that’s the right strategy, because the argument can definitely be made that they are among the top 2 or 3 clubs in all of baseball heading in the season. A World Series run is definitely within their grasp.

    Tanaka to the Yankees
    Garza to the Diamondbacks
    Jimenez to the Bluejays
    Santana to the Orioles
    Arroyo to the Braves

  • hansman

    “Speaking of Rosenthal, he’s noting something I mentioned back at the outset of the offseason: with free agent contracts exploding, even for older, marginal talent, perhaps more and more players will eschew team-friendly extensions during their pre-arb and arb years in favor of taking a chance at free agency. The pendulum could swing quickly, and free agent classes could start improving dramatically within a few years. (Rosenthal sees things playing out an additional way, with more teams trading guys that they can’t extend.)”

    Just think, in 4 years, during the heart of the Cubs contention window, Mike Freekin Trout is going to become a free agent. At the age of 26.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      If that happens I wonder who will be signing him to a 300-350M contract, and they way everything is going I don’t that that’s an exaggeration.

      • CubbiesOHCubbies

        The sad part is, that may be the dollar amount on a 7 or 8 year deal, not a 10 year deal.

        • Jorbert Solmora

          If he hits free agency at 26, I could see a team shelling out a 15 year deal.

          • Xruben31

            12 year 300 million dollars sound fair?

            • cub-hub

              Not even close. If the deal is 12yrs, try at least $360million.

    • Chad

      “Just think, in 4 years, during the heart of the Cubs contention window, Mike Freekin Trout is going to become a free agent. At the age of 26.”

      I hope so, but I doubt he makes it to FA.

    • terencemann

      I think there is a vault of gold somewhere that the Angels are filling in order to pay for Mike Trout. If he keeps playing like this, I don’t think he’ll play for another team.

      • CubFan Paul

        “If he keeps playing like this”

        Have you seen his babip? He’s due to regress big time.

        • Isaac

          Disagree. His off-the-charts speed and exceptional line-drive rate scream “high BABIP” on a consistent basis.

        • Norm

          CFP is correct, because who can really expect anyone to put up 10 WAR every single year? He’ll definitely regress.

          Offense alone, only about 25 people have had a career BABIP north of .350. It’s possible, but unlikely to stay as high as its been.

          • Isaac

            I believe it is presumptuous at best to assume someone will regress from a 21 year-old season. Is he unprecedented, yes. Could he continue to improve, yes.

            • CubFan Paul

              I was using sarcasm font above…

              • Isaac

                I see that, now. :-)

                I like that you got someone to agree with you.

                • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

                  You’d also need a large insurance policy with a deal like that, just for injuries… look at Matt Kemp for example, he’s in year 3 of an 8/160 deal and there’s all of this talk of the Dodgers (with this HUGE payroll) trading him and eating salary.

    • Blackhawks1963

      I would be stunned beyond belief if Mike Trout ever leaves the Angels. Ditto Kershaw and the Dodgers, Harper and the Nationals.

      It’s silly to look at future free agent classes. So much changes between now and then.

      • terencemann

        I remember when some people thought the Cubs were going to sign at least one of Verlander or King Felix. It seems like a silly line of thought in hindsight.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yankee fans were counting on signing both. They would compliment the homegrown core very well: and Verlander & Felix even could push the homegrowns’ wheelchairs between starts!

    • JM

      That could be a good thing for teams that have to worry about signing their own free agents. Trout’s contract will likely set the bar. Unless one of the Cubs prospects become “Trout-like”, their own free agent contract shouldn’t come close to Trout’s.

      But I’m all for one of Bryant/Baez/Soler/Almora becoming “Trout-like”!

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    What the Cubs can offer Tanaka:

    I suggested this elsewhere and I didn’t get any response. Don’t want to be repetitive, but I’d like to get some good brains’ thoughts on this.

    What if the Cubs offered Tanaka a DIMINISHING contract. For example, suppose all the bids were in the 6/120 range. And they’re structured in similar 18, 19, 20, 20, 21, 22 allotments. Something along those lines. Because of the Cubs’ position with regard to salary last year and this year and because the Cubs are a year or two off from being comeptitive in on year-in-year-out basis when they’d like to have MORE flexibility for big FA signings… why don’t the Cubs offer a contract that pays Tanaka something like this:

    2014 – $23 mil
    2015 – $22 mil
    2016 – $21 mil
    2017 – $20 mil
    2018 – $18 mil
    2019 – $16 mil

    That’s a little drastic. You could simply flip the other numbers, too. But the Cubs look to have this sort of money right now, and it’s an ENORMOUS financial incentive for Tanaka that gives the Cubs more flexibility down the road. In the future, a contract like this would be unthinkable because it pays more with less-inflated dollars. But there is a small window (now) for the Cubs to consider something like this.

    • CubFan Paul

      “the Cubs look to have this sort of money right now, and..”

      You’re right. NONE of the other interested teams have the financial flexibility the Cubs have (especially the teams with six legit starters already)

    • Patrick W.

      I think it will be much simpler than that. If the Cubs can manage to land Tanaka it’s going to take a significant signing bonus. Like $20-30MM paid out in the first two years. And then typical escalating contract.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Basicly it will be a Edwin Jackson contract on steroids if we get him.

    • 70’s Cub

      Year one 25% Year two 25%, with the balance 50% paid out over the final 4 years. When the Cubs are ready to compete Tank will be paid line 3/4 money.

  • IndyCubsFan

    If the Rizzo Experiment doesn’t pan out, can you imagine Vogelbach coming up?! *chills

    • Isaac

      Experiment? Gold Glove caliber D with above-average power? He’s already beyond the experiment stage.

      • aaronb

        Except his bat has been lesser than Matt Murton’s through huge chunks of 3 MLB seasons.

        • Isaac

          And Matt Murton has bearing on this situation, how?

          If anything, your statement shows nothing except maybe that MLB shed Murton too quickly. He’s had an outstanding career in Japan.

        • hansman

          No, his bat has been identical to Matt murton thus far. Even with his abysmal, historically awful debut in San Diego.

  • jeff1969

    I really thought Seattle was going to just bust their bank open & start signing whatever to support that Cano signing. What they have done since, unless their plan is Tanaka or bust & are waiting it out, is really shockingly dopey. They have a crap lineup right now. Granted that there are some good young players getting a shot: Miller, Franklin, Zunino, maybe Ackley, but wow, just Cano?

    • Patrick W.

      Eh. They also signed Cory Hart and Logan Morrison. Hart didn’t play last year, so I think a lot of people are maybe forgetting how good he can be. Morrison is still plenty young and valuable enough in that lineup.

      I like where the Mariners stand if they can get Tanaka. I would comfortably put them at 80 wins now.

      • jeff1969

        We’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m quite aware of how good Corey Hart was, but he’ll be 32 coming off that injury, in a new league and that dead ballpark. Following the Cano signing with Hart, Morrison, & Gutierrez is a bit of bubble bursting for their fans I would think. That’s a lot of dice rolling considering you just went nuts signing Cano. I would imagine he is a little worried. Maybe signing Tanaka and/or trading for Price is what they’re up to.

        • Patrick W.

          I will not agree to disagree! I disagree to agree! or something.

          They moved the fences in at Safeco last season and their ballpark factor for runs went from dead last to 15th. For HR it went from dead last to 21st. And they had some really really bad players.

          I guess what I’m saying is I just don’t see it as “they just Cano” I think they’ve taken some risks beyond signing Cano and their pitching staff and the additions of Hart, LoMo will have a fairly positive effect.

          • TK

            They may hit more HR because of moving the fence, and score more runs . . . BUT so will their opponents! It works both ways.

      • TK

        I don’t Tanaka gets them past Texas. Also, you have to think LAA is gonna rebound a bit this year, hurting Seattle’s vision of post-season celebrations. It might be hard for an AL West team to get a Wildcard this year as they’ll all be beating up on each other.

  • N.J. Riv

    Aren’t the Cubs supposed to be slowly progressing every year? They look worse than last year. No Garza, Feldman, it looks like they are really banking on Rizzo and Castro turning it around and guys like Olt and Baez to crack the big leagues.

    • terencemann

      I think they’re at the point where they’re starting to rely on/hope for young players getting better over time and prospects coming up to make the team better at the end of the season than it was to start the season.

      I agree the team doesn’t necessarily look better on paper for 2014 than it did opening day 2013 unless you expect Rizzo and Castro to hit like you’d want two years after 2012 (rather than just improving over 2012).

      • dunston donuts

        I think the bullpen looks way better on paper this year than last year. The bullpen, especially early in the 2013 season, was absolutely awful. I think we will see the Cubs win more of the close games in 2014 because of the improved bullpen. I also think the Cubs will have some valuable flip pieces out of that bullpen at the deadline. Left handed relievers are extremely valuable to contending teams.

    • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

      It’s addition by subtraction and it turns out about even…

      Borbon, Bowden, Camp, Clevenger, Gonzalez, Gregg, Hairston, Lillibridge, Loe, Marmol, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Sappelt, and Takahashi… that’s -4.8 WAR gone, right there. If Rondon pitches in the minors all reason (like previous Rule 5 guys we acquired), that’s another -0.2 WAR added on the pile. 5 full wins above replacement going into 2014.

      But…

      Bogusevic, DeJesus, Feldman, Garza, Navarro, Ransom, Soriano = 6.8 WAR (Bogusevic, Feldman, Navarro, and Ransom all over-performed, mind you). That means we only need to find 1.8 WAR to replace what 22 players racked up in their time spent with the Cubs last year… that seems like an easy task to me.

      • aaronb

        Good chance you don’t get 6 WAR out of Wood, Lake and Schierholtz again next year also.

        • aaronb

          Or 5.2 WAR from Valbuena and Castillo for that matter.

          • davidc

            I don’t see any reason for Castillo to regress, although he could get injure and play less total games.

            • Jason P

              Not even Yadier Molona can consistently reproduce the dWAR Castillo put up last year.

        • hansman

          Good chance you don’t get 1.5 WAR out of Rizzo and Castro.

          I’d be willing to bet a couple bucks you get 5.2 WAR out of Castillo and valbuena next year. Castillo bat should progress and valbuena should hold his own.

          All in all, with some less crappy sequencing to start the year and a better bullpen this year’s team should be better to start and finish more interesting than last year.

          • aaronb

            I’ll take your 5.2 WAR bet on Castillo/Valbuena next year. Please name the terms.

    • Voice of Reason

      They are slowly progressing each year… with the minor league talent progressing

      You wont see any progression in the win column for the big league club as they will still.lose 95+ games in 2014.

      But, they are progressing. In 3 years this team will be ready for action!

    • When The Musics Over

      The eggs are almost 100% in the prospect basket at this point, save for perhaps Rizzo, Castro and Castillo.

      If Baez and/or Bryant struggle this year, it could prove to be a massive setback, perhaps even catastrophic if the struggles persist beyond this year. There’s so much riding on them. right now, it’s rather unfair.

    • Cubsin

      Perhaps you’ve noticed that Garza and Feldman were both free agents this winter? I think I’d rather have Edwards, Olt, Grimm, Ramirez, Arrieta and Strop rather than the supplemental pick we might have received for Garza.

      • N.J. Riv

        Cubsin, I was showing how the Cubs lost two, at the very least, average pitchers last season and they really haven’t made any moves to acquire flippable assets via free agency or through trade like they did the last two seasons. It seems like they are planning on solving their problems in house and are relying on guys taking a step in their development.

        • TK

          I think the only thing that matters RIGHT NOW is trying to get Tanaka. All other activity depends on that outcome in one way or another. They will surely pick up another SP to try and flip, but they still have a while to do it. And it would be silly to come up a few nickels short on Tanaka because you went out and re-signed Scott Baker (or any other reclamation project) too soon. Just be patient. It’ll happen.

  • jeff1969

    I’m only me, not being a professional prospecter, but spending a lot of time trying to be somewhat knowledgeable about prospects & the minors, but getting Sanchez & Stroman from Toronto for Shark is not all that exciting to me. I know they are highly regarded guys, #1 & #2 in 2014 BA list for the Jays, but Toronto’s minor league system has been lacking in deliverable players imo. A couple of years ago they looked to have an amazing array of arms, but they traded the two best (Snydergaard & Nicolino), and many of the rest of their previously vaunted group have either been hurt or severely underachieved.

    Their GM has been getting a lot of criticism in Toronto after failing to sign two of his last three first round picks, for trading some of their better young players for veterans who have disappointed, like Dickey & Reyes, and seems to me like a guy who really likes to be considered a genius. The fans & the media seem to be saying they want the Jays to give their prospects a chance, but I don’t think that will fly considering how far some of them are from contributing as well as the team Anthropolos has put together now. Trading for Shark could be a make or break deal for this guy and I’m not sure he does it. It makes sense because they have a maybe 2 year window to get what they can out of their vets. Trading their manager to Boston and then him leading the Red Sox to a World Series victory the year after huge disappointment has made Anthropolos look bad as well. What did they get, that SS Aviles? Out of all the teams who the Cubs might be dealing with concerning Shark, Toronto might be the most vulnerable to giving up too much.

    • terencemann

      It makes sense to me that Toronto could be the Cubs’ best hope for a strong return. for the reasons you listed.

      As far as managers go, The Jays didn’t get anything of real value for Farrel. On the flip side, their current manager, Gibbons, is becoming darling of the statistical community because of his tendency to use his best relievers in high leverage situations rather than just saving him for situations when the team is ahead in the last inning, for batting his best hitters at the top of the lineup and for not f-ing with Colby Rasmus.

      • jeff1969

        Good point. They did a good job replacing Farrell. I think the cracks are starting to show in the genius of Anthropolos and he’s one of the more acutely aware & sensitive to criticism. All just my analysis, my opinion of course. That might make him vulnerable to overreacting & overreaching to prove himself. I know, thank you Mr. Freud.

        • DarthHater

          “thank you Mr. Freud.”

          Zee baseball clearly represents zee ego, trying to return to zee mother’s womb, represented by zee catcher’s mitt, but constantly prevented from achieving its goal by zee dingus of zee father, represented by zee baseball bat.
          ——- Sigmund Freud

  • 5412

    Hi,

    What have the Cubs got to offer? A lot!

    Go to NY and you are expected to win. 20 years from now, few will remember your name unless it is Mariano or Jeter.

    Win with the Cubs and you have a legend for decades.

    Regards,
    5413

    • 5412

      Oops, I meant 5412

      • DarthHater

        Well, I’m certainly glad that got cleared up. ;-)

        • aaronb

          5412 is next door

          • MaxM1908

            It’s actually across the street.

    • Blackhawks1963

      I presume this is a joke.

      But if it isn’t, then might I suggest you get a dose of perspective. Hate to break the news to you, but star players aren’t going to line up to play for the Cubs given the sales pitch of “you can be the savior and reap all the wondrous rewards of taking the Cubs to the World Series…if you go to the Yankees or the Dodgers then you’ll be just another guy who contributed to the winning ways!!!” Good friggin Lord.

      • aaronb

        Especially since the Cubs under this ownership has shown zero willingness to pay market value for players.

        Come the the Cubs for 75% of market! We promise to fill in dumpster dives around you at every position. You will be a legend if you overcome all that and win here!!!

        Zig Ziglar couldn’t even sell that line of crap.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          That seems to be their spiel. It will be interesting to see if they can lock up Baez aand Bryant to the type of deals thaat Rizzo and Castro signed.

        • hansman

          I guess Edwin jackson, anibal sanchez (didn’t sign but offered market value), David dejesus, nate schierholtz and other free agents the Cubs have signed don’t count in your theory.

          • aaronb

            Edwin Jackson was a mid level free agent pickup. Every other guy you listed was a bargain bin guy.

        • baldtaxguy

          “Zero willingness” is not accurate.

      • Jason P

        I hate to break it to you, but the Yankees future isn’t looking so bright. Aging, big-money veterans signed long-term with no farm system. Free agency has gotten much thinner in recent years, and even at the height of the Yankees dominance, they relied on at least some cost-controlled homegrown players. They are going to be bad in a few years, and they may not even make the playoffs this year.

        How heavily the Dodgers will pursue Tanaka is also in question. It looks like even they may have a spending limit, and they still have to extend Kershaw.

        They Cubs are in as good a position as any to sign Tanaka.

        • Blackhawks1963

          How can you sit there with a straight face and mock the Yankees, owners of 28 World Series Championships and 5 over the last 18 years. Good Lord. And to suggest the Cubs are a more attractive destination for Tanaka versus the Yankees or the Dodgers to boot !

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            He’s not mocking the Yanks he clearly stating a reason why Tanaka and his agents/advisors could say the Yankees aren’t a great destination. They are a extremely aging team, no prospects coming up to fill in holes, and less valuable free agents hitting the market. This modern era of Yankee greatness was build on the back of great young players (Jeter and company) with a sing all the free agents bank account. But now those contacts are pulling them down and they have nobody of value coming up to replace and refill the team. The Yankees maybe be going into a decline similar to what they were facing before the Jeter era rebuilt the team. It’s not Yankee hating it’s just reality. However the Cubs are looking more sustainable in the future with great prospects showing up and the financial flex to add more pieces in the future through free agency. In three years which team looks in a better position right now?

            I’m no saying this is correct but it is a worthy argument and pitch, but no pitch or spin will matter. He will sign the best contract he is offered the rest of it is speculation but Jason is not mocking the yanks just present a valid argument. It’s okay for people to disagree with you.

            • Blackhawks1963

              Yeah, I guess you’re right. If the Yankees couldn’t convince frontline players like Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran to come to the Bronx then how in the hell do they expect to convince Tanaka that they aren’t all washed up and finished !

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                They convince him and everyone else with CASH if they offer the best contract a Tanaka goes there but if money was equal there is a valid reason to stay away from the Yankees. But as my final point said this will be about the money as it always is. The rest of this is just hypothetical talk to keep us occupied.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                The Yankees do not project to be a very good team next year, even with the new additions. Remember, the Yanks were the 2012 Orioles of 2013: except that it was not quite enough. They won 12-14 more games than they should have.

                Signing Els, McCann & Beltran probably is not going to add 12-14 wins over the guys that they are replacing: and the rest of their roster is declining.

                In a way, the Yanks big signings this winter are sort of like what it would have been for the 2011 Cubs had they signed 3 big FAs. It would have halted the slide somewhat, but nowhere near enough to swing them back into contention. (And the Yanks have it worse: the Sox and Rays both are going to be really good again next year, the O’s actually have a very solid team, and the Jays probably are as good.)

                What the Yanks did a decade ago is about as relevant now as the 1970’s team was to the 1990’s Yanks.

                • Blackhawks1963

                  So come back to me with your evaluation after the Yankees sign Tanaka. Then tell me again how they are a tired broken down team that isn’t going to do squat.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    I don’t think anyone is saying that the Yankees “are a tired broken down team that isn’t going to do squat.” You are essentially arguing with no one there.

                    What Doc and others are saying, based on the numbers I might add, is that when you project the Yankees roster as it stands now alongside the rosters of the rest of that division, the Yankees are not likely to make the playoffs.

                    And by project I don’t mean make up imaginary numbers based on gut feelings, but actually take the guidelines that have been established through decades of study and apply those guidelines to teams in questions. There are a variety of ways to do that, and we could debate the comparative value of those methods, but they all essentially point to the same conclusion.

                    Also, “not likely” means exactly that, not likely. It doesn’t mean impossible, just that it is more likely that the Yankees won’t make the playoffs.

                    Even with Tanaka, I have a hard time arguing with that position. Sure, the Yankees could outperform and win far more close games than expected, but that sort thing isn’t very likely. Right now, I would not project the Yankees as a playoff team.

                    If you have an argument to the contrary, I’d be happy to see it. But that argument should probably consist of more than exclamations of surprise and disdain alongside references to titles won by players who are well past their prime, retired, or dead.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Well said Luke, nobody here is bashing the Yankees or calling thier franchise a failure. But to ignore the downward trajectory of a team that is that loaded with players well past thier prime with no infusion of young talent to support the aging veterns is not objectively looking at the reality. Just as Tanaka alone won’t fix the Cubs no amount of spending will fix the Yankees right now.

                    • Internet Random

                      “[N]obody here is bashing the Yankees . . . .”

                      Allow me to pick up the slack:

                      The Yankees suck eggs and I hate their guts.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    The Yanks were basically a 72-74 win team last year that got very lucky and won 86. Add to this that they lost Cano: and they are replacing him with Kelly Johnson who is probably a good 4 games worse than Cano.

                    Now, a full season of McCann gets them back 3 games over last year’s replacement-level catchers. If Beltran delays age another year, then he is 2-3 games better that Ichiro was last year. Because of the dominos, Els basically replaces the DH (Gardner goes back to LF, Sori goes to DH): and he could be a 3-4 game improvement relative to expectations for DH (which are higher than CF). That gives them 8-10 games back: i.e., back to about 0.500.

                    Tanaka would effectively replace Pettitte, who was good for about 2 WAR last year. People have been pretty clear: Tanaka is good, but not as good as Darvish. Darvish was about 6 WAR, so let’s say that that Tanaka is about 5: or about 3 more wins than Pettite.

                    Now, remember that Sabbathia is declining and that we really cannot expect Kuroda to pitch so well again next year.

                    That means that next year’s Yanks have to over-achieve to win 86 games and that could easily be good for 4th in the AL East.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      CPC,

                      All I needed to do was read your first sentence.

                      The yanks were a 72 to 74 win team that got lucky and won 86 games.

                      They’ve been getting lucky for years then. They’ve won a ton of world series over the years. You can say this guy means so many wins and this guy means losses. And, while you’re busy telling everybody why the Yankees suck on paper they are winning another division or world series on the field.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      Sorry…. should have been addressed to doc!!!!

                      Damn spell check….

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      No, the Yanks rarely get that lucky. They usually are good. And they have not been as fortunate as they were in 2012 in over 50 years!

                      Here are the Yanks’ 10 luckiest years since 1962:
                      Year ExWins
                      2013 +14
                      1963 +10
                      1968 +9
                      2004 +9
                      1979 +8
                      1978 +8
                      1970 +8
                      1988 +8
                      1964 +7
                      1980 +7

                      Here are their 10 worst seasons since 1962:
                      Year ExWins
                      1981 -9
                      1966 -8
                      1973 -7
                      1992 -5
                      1982 -5
                      1975 -4
                      2000 -3
                      1971 -3
                      2007 -2
                      1999 -2

                      Their median? Zero, of course

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Voice of Reason, you appear to be citing the Yankees past success as a reason to believe they will be very good next year.

                      But I can’t make sense of that argument.

                      What do the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s Yankee squads have to do with 2014? Why do the Yankees automatically become favorites regardless of who they put on the field just because they’ve won a bunch of titles?

                      If that isn’t the case you’re making, then I’m not sure what you’re driving at by arguing that if they were lucky last year, then they’ve been lucky for years because of all their titles and that while we continue to study baseball objectively in an effort to learn more about the sport they’ll just be winning.

                  • Jason P

                    If it’s so ridiculous for the Cubs to expect to win Tanaka over with their vision of the future, how is it any less ridiculous for the Yankees to expect to sell him on their past? And don’t say “they’ve proven they know how to win” because as I highlighted above, circumstances have changed.

          • Scotti

            “How can you sit there with a straight face and mock the Yankees, owners of 28 World Series Championships and 5 over the last 18 years. Good Lord. And to suggest the Cubs are a more attractive destination for Tanaka versus the Yankees or the Dodgers to boot !”

            Did I pull a Rip Van Winkle on Seattle’s dominance in the World Series over their 37 years? Or did the Yankees just lose their top player (their top player by FAR) to the O-fer 37 years Mariners? The Mariners! They haven’t even made the playoffs since 2001. Seems like Cano knew when the gettin’ was good. Offer up the cash and you have as good a chance as anyone to land the player.

            http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/SEA/

        • Voice of Reason

          Any body in their right mind would sign with the Yankees over the cubs.

          Ask Joe girardi.

          • Cheese Chad

            Shut Up!

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Nice Mooney piece on CSN Chicago about Sharks feelings on the state of things from his perspective. He mentions that it is frustrating to build reltionships with guys that “you can lean on” only to see them traded at the deadline. I wonder how big of an obstacle the no trade clause is? He mentions that. My take is that he wants to be a cub, but is tired of the mentality that if we can’t contend then we will make no significant effort improve the product at the MLB level. Maybe that is a stretch on my part, but read it and be the judge. Either way he is in a good position. If he shows significant improvement this year he well on his way to a big pay day

    • CubFan Paul

      “Either way he is in a good position”

      Matt Garza thought the same thing (..& got hurt).

      Better to be John Danks (..got hurt, but paid, & kind of sucks now).

    • dunston donuts

      Theo said right from the beginning that he didn’t want to be mediocre. He wants to contend or he wants to be in the bottom 10 of the league. CBA rules make Theo’s thoughts on this wise. I can see why players wouldn’t like this mentality. But big picture for the Cubs it’s the right thing to do.

  • TulaneCubs

    To your point Brett on eventually free agents will hit the market, I don’t really understand why everyone thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that Kershaw and Scherzer will be extended.

    Those guys have gone through at least the last 2 or 3 years turning down extensions and they’re a year away from free agency, where anyone with money will throw the kitchen sink at them. Can the Dodgers offer Kershaw a lot? Sure. But they can probably offer him even more if the Yankees, Cubs, etc. are all threats to sign him.

    If I’m those guys and I’m looking for a big paycheck and my team hasn’t brought a good offer yet, I’d just wait until the year is out and see what the market brings.

  • D.G.Lang

    Not to nitpick but technically, Christmas day and new years day are never on the same day in ANY year. Check it out on any calendar.

    What is happening is that they fall on the same day in any holiday SEASON which involves two different years. New years day is obviously the first day of the NEXT year, not the SAME year as Christmas day.

    • DarthHater

      “Not to nitpick ”

      Nahhhh, That’s not nitpicking at all. :-D

      • D.G.Lang

        100% guaranteed to win a bet every time, always true.

        Glad to see the kind response given in the same playful manner as the original post.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Whoever signs Tanaka better have a Tommy John clause in posting contract entitled to 20 million back

  • Tailor Soelsta

    Speculative Question:
    With Homer Bailey likely headed to the trading block, any potential deal for Samardzija becomes as likely to be put on hold until the Blue Jays find out what it would take to land Bailey. Under that scenari (if you’re the Cubs) do you engage Cincinnati in talks about Bailey in hopes to drive the price for the Blue Jays high enough that they come back to you on Samardzija?

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Bailey only has one year of control left as opposed to Shark and Price have two years of control left. That makes Bailey akin to a rental IMO. I guess my point is how much do you give up for a guy entering FA after the season is over?

  • Tailor Soelsta

    Good point. I guess the way I see it is, if you can cause the market value for Bailey to increase, would it help raise the value on Samardzija?

  • Tailor Soelsta

    If the Cubs could force a team like the Blue Jays to overpay in order to land Bailey, could it help reframe their asking price for Samardzija?

    • When The Musics Over

      The Cubs should be trying to get Bailey.

      • Tailor Soelsta

        An honest pursuit would likely be the best approach, that’s for sure. If the Reds are interested in filling a need at SS, who do you include in a deal for a 1 year rental flip candidate (of course the package may change if you feel you can resign him).

      • TulaneCubs

        I don’t think there’s any way the Cubs give up what it’ll take to get Bailey. In order for it to make sense for the Cubs, they’d have to get a steal akin to the Fister trade in order to trade him again later on. Otherwise, trading for 1 year of Homer Bailey just doesn’t make sense.

        • When The Musics Over

          I think the Cubs should check in on him, and not just the for shits and giggles kicking the tires type of checking in. If the Cubs can work out rough parameters of an extension beforehand and have reasonable assurance that he’d sign for within a shouting distance of those parameters once traded for, they should 100% be serious about acquiring him. I don’t think a top 5 should necessarily be on the table, but something like (and I stress the word like) Alcantara and Blackburn with perhaps some sort of power reliever add in. I really don’t know

          I just think he fills a gaping void on the Cubs. He’s Shark with control and poise and he’s a year younger. Not to knock Shark. I really hope they extend him as well. They could still be in on Tanaka as well. The three of those guys would make for a beast rotation

          As for a Bailey extension. If he could be had for 5/90, I’d do it all day.

          • TulaneCubs

            Not nearly enough of a discount relative to his value on the free agent market for me to do that deal. Alcantara and Blackburn are much too valuable to get a guy just for the right to sign him to a contract slightly below market value.

            • When The Musics Over

              I think our disconnect might be Blackburn’s value, but perhaps you’re right that it’s too much. As for the market value, where it’s going for starting pitching, and it’s going fast, is messed up. If Bailey takes another step forward, even a small one at that, he might get low 20’s/year. The projected value of starting pitching is such a huge part of why Shark won’t take (much of) a discount. He’s actually being quite savvy about that part, though he might regret it if he blows his elbow or worse his shoulder.

              • TulaneCubs

                Very true with Bailey’s value after this year, but his value could go in the opposite direction, just as you pointed out with Shark.

                He could take a step forward and be worth $20/year, making a 6 year, $90M look great if he’d already put pen to paper on an extension. Or, he could blow out his elbow and make that contract look really bad.

                As for your point on Blackburn, I actually just think very highly of Alcantara and think he can provide several years of 2.5ish WAR/year production very cheaply. Take that for 3 years and that’s maybe $39M in value before he even hits arbitration. There’s obviously some risk that he doesn’t reach that, but I think he has a hell of a lot of value.

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  • eman

    Assuming hypothetical even money offered to Tanaka by all interested teams, the Cubs seem to have the least ammo to “sell” themselves…

    Yankees: Biggest lights & market available, big stars on the team, big offense, big chance to get to playoffs every year of contract, have been to playoffs 4 of last 5 years, #1 willingness to spend $ on teammates, new stadium.

    Seattle: Closest city to Japan, high Japanese fan base & ownership, recent hard push for playoffs, plays in west coast division

    Dodgers: Relatively close to Japan, big lights of Hollywood & stars, great year round weather, a great team in a weaker division means great sustained chance for playoffs, #2 recent willingness to spend $ on teammates (big drop after #1 & #2), BIG tv money equates to long term money available for teammates, plays in west coast division, made playoffs in 2013,

    Texas: A team that has been to playoffs 3 out of last 4 years, already has one Japanese pitching star speaking same language, plays games in West coast division

    Cubs: Unfortunately, no big teammate star names on the team, no chance to make playoffs first year & are a long shot to make it the second year, have been BAD last 4 straight years, middle of the road money spender on teammates (even though in the 3rd largest market) equals they might be considered “cheap”, no history or trend to show they will be spending a lot in the future (other than the potential of a tv contract), old stadium withOUT a lot of player amenities, cold offseason place to live (ref current blizzard).

    Face it, the Cubs are a tough sell on just the promise of a highly regarded farm system that won’t really make an impact until about 2016, and maybe some stadium improvements that are in the works for the future, and a modest increase in spending on teammates when the new tv contract is negotiated. When Tanaka signs, he’s going to want to compete right away. Wouldn’t you if you were playing such a long way from your home?

    • Blackhawks1963

      The Cubs aren’t getting Tanaka. It’s part of the reason why talk of Tanaka to the Cubs has gone quiet in the media of late. We hear about Seattle having major interest…and Arizona prepared to travel to Japan to meet with Tanaka and Carey Close…and how Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman hope to tee up a meeting this week now that Close is back from vacation…

      But it’s gone quiet on the Cub front. The minute they changed the posting rules the Cubs were out of this. My sense is that Theo and Jed have already moved on. My sense is that they have a free agent pitcher teed up in the aftermath of Tanaka signing elsewhere. Maybe that pitcher is Scott Baker…maybe it is Jason Hammel.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It went quiet on *every* front for the past two weeks. Then some blurbs on Seattle a few days ago. That’s it. The quiet was the holidays.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Theo and Jed seemingly have distanced themselves from talk / hope of Tanaka. They both got out over their skis on this one and have retreated. Like I said, the day the posting rules changed the Cubs were finished on this. Theo and Jed are very smart and pragmatic people. It would be one thing if they entice Tanaka with the highest salary offer if the parameters were a 4 or 5 year deal in the $12-15 M per season range…but something very different when there is lots of interest in Tanaka and it appears that he might be in line for $20 M plus per season. In that lofty stratosphere of things I can’t see the Cubs outbidding anybody else…or at least not to the degree where it overwhelms enough the recruiting pitch Tanaka can get from the Yankees or LA teams.

          • bbmoney

            Are you sure that’s your position on the matter? I thought you were pretty sure the Cubs were going to sign him.

            Things have gone all quite from the FO on Tanaka. But I really just haven’t heard anything on Tanaka period. I expect them to be involved and given the changes in the system I think we’ll hear more about their involvement than under the old system, so it’ll be harder to “make a fake bid” and claim involvement. I’m guessing things with Tanaka will start to heat up next week or maybe even later this week.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            “Theo and Jed seemingly have distanced themselves from talk / hope of Tanaka.”

            Neither has been interviewed a single time since the last time they talked about Tanaka – which was back just after the Winter Meetings. Get off it, dude. I know it’s your pet thing, but you’ve entered the realm of twisting facts to suit your predisposition. That’s dangerous ground, and folks will simply tune you out if they haven’t already. Consider it free advice.

          • noisesquared

            I agree, the Cubs Tanaka buzz is nowhere near the weeks/months long, loud buzz of their interest in Anibal Sanchez or Edwin Jackson last off season. I mean this front office is known for telegraphing their plans, so the fact that all is quiet obviously means nothing is going to happen…

            • hansman

              We’ve also just had two fairly significant holidays that have interrupted the news cycle in the baseball world and a whole lot of quiet from 29 teams.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                (As an FYI in case you or anyone else didn’t detect the subtly, noise was being cleverly sarcastic … )

                • hansman

                  (As an FYI in case you or anyone else didn’t know…it is REALLY helpful if you read the entire comment before replying)

                  I got about halfway through the second line and said “SCREW THIS GUY, HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IN THE (and had I continued reading)…oh, I see. Very nice.”

            • TK

              Or how bout that Tanaka doesn’t want his negotiations made public???? Some players don’t want every offer from every team to be made public. Some players want to be the star of a baseball, not a 3 ring circus. Some players want quiet, professional negotiations, and want to know that the teams courting them are respectful of their wishes. PERHAPS, we aren’t hearing anything because the FO’s around the league are knee deep in respectfully selling their teams to Tanaka instead of wasting time holding press conferences to talk about common knowledge (their interest in him)??? Maybe??????? Or am i just silly?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Given the volume of question marks, I’m going to go with silly.

        • hansman

          But that doesn’t fit the narrative…

  • DCF

    I don’t get it why people even discuss Tanaka coming to the Cubs. The Cubs will suck for at least 2 more years, based on my half-baked understanding of THE PLAN. Signing someone as expensive as Tanaka now would be a total waste of money. There’ s simply nothing useful for him to do in Chicago for the forseeable future, at least nothing that would warrant a $20 million/yr salary.
    I fully support adding an impact bat, even this year, but it really shouldn’t be like the most expensive guy around.

    • JeffR

      The cubs have been rumored to be in on Tanaka, even to point that ” they will not be outbid”. So it’s legitimately worth talking about with nothing else really going on. I don’t like our chances much either, but what else do we have to dream about at the moment?

  • 5412

    Hi,

    I believe it was Lombardi who said, “it is a lot more fun to ATTAIN than to MAINTAIN.”

    If the money is the same, I feel the Cubs have a heck of a story to sell and it has worked in the past.

    How do the Yankees counter that? They just keep on bidding.

    As far as the Yankees are concerned, I don’t hold them on a pedestal. About ten years ago George Steinbrenner told a good friend of mine, “Even with a $200 million payroll, I still net $50 million profit.” They have such a decidedly huge economic advantage they should win more than they have.

    Regards,

    5412

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