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mccutchen wainwrightTo be sure, the Chicago Cubs’ rebuild has been a relative success over the past two years. Sure, there hasn’t been as much progress on the big league roster as you’d like to see, and, no, the financial picture doesn’t look too bright right now. But in the realm of things the front office can control, I think it’s fair to say they’ve laid some fantastic groundwork for the future.

And yet there are times when it’s difficult to be as optimistic as you’d like to be about the Cubs’ ability to dominate the NL Central any time soon. To wit …

Baseball America won’t be releasing its overall farm system rankings for a little while yet, but Derrick Goold got a source to say that the Cardinals will be ranked 7th and the Pirates will take the top spot*. The Cubs will be right up there, presumably in the 2/3/4/5 range, together with the Twins, Red Sox, and Astros, if I had to guess.

*(I love that we now live in a world where a source spilling the beans on a future prospect ranking list is relatively big news – that sounds sarcastic, but I’m totally serious.)

Not that you didn’t already know it, but the important point here is clear: the Cubs’ current farm system advantage is “only barely” over the Cardinals, and is “not necessarily an advantage” over the Pirates. For every Javy Baez, there’s an Oscar Tavares. For Kris Bryant, there’s Gregory Polanco. For C.J. Edwards, there’s Jameson Taillon. And Carlos Martinez. And Tyler Glasnow. And Nick Kingham. I could go on.

What’s particularly concerning when you see that the Cardinals and Pirates can largely match the Cubs on the prospect front right now is that prospects aren’t everything. You also have to look at young and/or cost-controlled talent on the Major League roster. That is talent that does not count toward farm rankings, and talent that the Cubs, by and large, do not have. The Cubs have some legitimately nice pieces going forward, but really look at the Cardinals’ and Pirates’ rosters (especially the Cardinals). Adam Wainwright, Andrew McCutchen, Shelby Miller, Starling Marte, Michael Wacha, Gerrit Cole, Matt Carpenter, Pedro Alvarez, Yadier Molina, Mark Melancon, Matt Holliday, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly (and once again, I could go on) … it’s a veritable All-Star team between the two clubs. All under contract for multiple years, most of them at bargain rates.

Those two teams are well-positioned for the near-term future, even setting aside the farm systems. Hell, they’re already playoff teams.

If you needed yet another reminder that the money-money-money is the biggest story in the Cubs’ world over the next few years, this is it. Building a sustainable core and farm system are hugely important in the long-term for the Cubs. But if they’re going to be consistently competitive in the 2015-2018 window, it’s probably going to have to include some healthy spending. And that doesn’t happen without a substantial increase in revenues (like it or lump it).

  • Spoda17

    “What’s particularly concerning when see that the Cardinals and Pirates can largely match the Cubs on the prospect front right now is that prospects aren’t everything.”

    Brett, I don’t think “concerning” is the right term. I think it is a big challenge, but I’d rather be in a tough division, and prepare for tough teams, then win a division and get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

    I’m glad the Central is going to be a tough division, and I strongly feel the Cubs will win their share of division titles sooner rather than later.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The quality of the regular season opposition doesn’t predict playoff success. Most of the putative “Cinderella” teams in recent years have been ones that won bad divisions due to very strong finishes to the season, which then carried over into the post-season.

      On the other hand, AL East teams have not been particularly successful in the opening round. When they play well in September, then they tend to get to the LCS or WS: but if they don’t play well in September, then they go home quickly.

      The upshot for the Cubs is that this isn’t 2003 or 2006-2007 where you can be a mediocre plus team in the NLC and get to post-season on a strong September: the NLC in 2-3 years could have one or two teams sitting at home while lesser teams from the NLE and/or NLW are in the playoffs.

      • Spoda17

        Noted, but I do feel if you have to build a better team just to compete in your own division, and your division is very strong, the unavoidable result is also you are built better to face all competition.

    • TulaneCubs

      A million times no. There’s enough games throughout the year that the Cubs will play plenty against top competition.

      Give me a division that sucks over a stacked division every year.

  • JeffR

    All we can hope for is that they both have some Prior and Wood like career changing injuries and maybe one or two go partially insane like Zambrano.

  • JB88

    I guess the solace I take is that it also appears that the Reds are in a corresponding downward trek. It probably isn’t enough to see three teams coming out of the Central every year, but at least the odds are getting better that the Reds aren’t going to be that 2nd WC team in the near future.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Indeed – the Reds were excluded from this conversation for good reason. They have a nice roster right now, but, long-term, I see some serious issues for them.

      • Kyle

        I think the Reds’ problems are somewhat overstated. They aren’t in the amazing state of the Cards or Pirates, and they aren’t selling out on the future like the Cubs, but they’ve got some young talent:

        2013 total bWAR from players 25 and under, NL Central

        Reds 13.3
        Cardinals 11.0
        Pirates 7.2
        Brewers 6.3
        Cubs 2.1

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Chose that cutoff carefully, eh? :)

          10.2 of that 13.3 for the Reds came from guys who are/were exactly 25 – Chapman, Hoover, Latos, and Leake. The latter two have two just years of control left (expensive), Chapman three (very expensive) years.

          • Kyle

            That wasn’t intentional, but it did work out pretty well for the Reds.

            They look bad next to the Cardinals and Pirates, but they aren’t the Yankees or anything.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Definitely not. But, thing is, the Reds don’t have to be in the Yankees’ situation for the finances of everything to wreck them. Votto + Phillips + synchronized escalation of arb guys + small market = impending financial trouble. They’ve got a hell of a front office, at least, so I won’t rule anything out. I see them facing a rebuild in two years, though.

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

                The Reds can always trade Phillips and that salary to a team like, say, the Blue Jays for controllable pitching replacements for Chapman and Cueto down the road. Votto is the face of their franchise, so I’d expect them to keep that contract for the long haul.

                Bailey (FA in ’15) – replaced by Holmberg (#8)
                Cueto ($10M option w/800k buyout in ’15) – replaced by Rogers
                Latos (FA in ’16) – replaced by Stephenson (#2)
                Leake (FA in ’16) – replaced by Travieso (#3) or Cisco (#13)
                Cingrani (FA in ’20)

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    I guess I never really see the Pirates as a long-term threat..sure great prospects and great season last year. All things being someone even on the farm, the Cubs will have the financial flexibility and the “lure” of winning with the Cubs..

    Cardinals will always be around, Reds – done. Brewers – done. Pirates – eh

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

    This conversation would be a little different if Castro, Rizzo, and Samardzija were playing closer to their previous production levels.

    Let’s hope the discussion next offseason is that the Cubs have the best shortstop in the division, one of the better pitchers, and probably the second best first basemen, all on top of the Baezs, Bryants, and everyone else who match up with other prospects in the division

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “This conversation would be a little different if Castro, Rizzo, and Samardzija were playing closer to their previous production levels.”

      No doubt whatsoever. Well, maybe not “previous production levels” so much as “levels at which we believe they could have performed based on a variety of factors.” Unfortunately, it was a collectively bad year for the big league Cubs talent last year. Some nice up stories, but not what was needed.

    • Kyle

      Rizzo and Samardzija didn’t underperform last year. They just didn’t take the step forward we hoped.

      Castro did, but so what? That’s new information that can’t be discarded.

  • Kyle

    You’re on fire, Brett.

    I’ve been beating this drum for awhile. And the Reds aren’t exactly prospect-less and have some interesting young talent.

    This division is going to require a lot more aggressiveness than Epstein and Hoyer have shown the slightest interest in exhibiting, and their best may not be enough regardless. The assumption that the Cubs are just destined to have sustained success in a few years is silly.

    • Isaac

      Since buying and flipping to the point of nearly sacrificing credibility is not aggressive. Since spending tremendously internationally is not aggressive. Since locking up (like it or not) your best two young pieces to long term contracts is not aggressive. Since spending $500 million plus on revenue-generating facilities and attractions is not aggressive. Since creating massive value out of expiring contracts is not aggressive. Since firing and hiring a new set of management is not aggressive. Since staying the course to what they believe is the right plan (in the face of a restless, rowdy and mostly ignorant fan base) is not aggressive.

      None of the above smells like “assumptions” to me. They are aggressive, active moves to give a desperate franchise a chance in the coming years.

      • Kyle

        Nope, none of those things are aggressive. They are the height of passivity, focusing on areas where there is little competition and it is easy to make visible gains.

        Competing at the MLB level is hard. Piling up prospects is easy. They chose the easy, passive path.

        • Charles

          So that means Hendry was aggressive by your definition. How many WS did he win? Oh right….none

          • Kyle

            The opposite of Epstein is not Hendry, and the fact that so many Cubs fans jump to Hendry when cornered on Epstein is telling of their insecurity on the subject.

            It is perfectly possible for Hendry to have failed and Epstein to fail for different reasons.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              But the real issue is, how could someone have succeeded quickly given the 2011 Cubs as a starting hand? That was a bad team that projected to be even worse in 2012. There were big holes on that team for which there have not been readily available FAs. The farm system was “meh” and seems to have been held in lower esteem by the baseball world than it actually deserved, which seriously limited trade potential.

              Autocorrelation is a big issue here: there always is huge inertia in baseball rosters from one year to the next, and making radical shifts takes a lot of good fortune in terms of what becomes available. The new CBA seems to have really reduced the probability of good fortune each year.

              In 2011, I thought that the Cubs would be lucky to be back on the right track in 5 years time; I still think that.

              • Kyle

                It would have taken uncommon skill to get the Cubs competitive by 2012, yes. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a GM with the ambition to try to show that uncommon skill.

                But by 2014? Not particularly.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Are we pretending the recently accepted financial limitations don’t exist?

                  • Kyle

                    Nope. But if they needed $130m payrolls to put together a competitive team after three offseasons, then they aren’t as good as we think they are.

                    • Isaac

                      “Uncommon skill”….such as?

                      You simply cannot compare years 1-3 of a regime to something like the A’s, who have had 15+ years to establish consistent legitimacy.

                      Terrible contracts
                      Below-average farm system
                      Aging veterans

                      The five year window Doc suggested is probably about accurate, and I’d still say we’re on that path.

                    • Ryan79

                      For that to be accurate, then you have to have come up with significant cost-controlled MLB-impact talent in under three years while starting from a bare farm system. Tell me, how many draft pics are rocking the MLB 1-2 years after being drafted? That list is really short… I’m not sure where else Thedstein would magic up the non-expensive FA talent from in that timeframe…

                • hansman

                  It also would have taken a more top-heavy farm system than we had, not only to graduate those players but to trade them away.

                  Given that we had limited ability to trade for cheap talent or produce cheap talent, then the financial limitations, combined with the farm system combined with the logjam that the MLB roster was meant that, yes $130M payrolls would have been needed year in and year out.

                  It would have taken more than a GM with uncommon skill to build a good 2014 Cubs team given the financial limitations. He would have had to nail nearly every player acquisition in 3 offseasons.

                  • When The Musics Over

                    There are a whole lot of fans who believe Theo and company have nailed every single move since joining the Cubs, so why aren’t the Cubs better? I joke, but only sorta.

                    • Chad

                      I have not seen one single person that believes every move they have made has been great. Some support them even when moves don’t work out but nobody thinks they have been flawless.

                    • Isaac

                      Definitely not in that camp. I disliked the timing of the Edwin signing…;-)

                      Seriously though, the Colvin/DJ for Stewart trade seemed a serious stretch from the start, I also hated the fact that they brought him back. There are others I have taken exception to as well.

                    • Drew7

                      “There are a whole lot of fans who believe Theo and company have nailed every single move since joining the Cubs…”

                      Bullshit.

                    • When The Musics Over

                      I’ve read a lot of people’s opinion that believe this front office is completely infallible and beyond reproach. Blind submission.

                    • When The Musics Over

                      Oh, and they might not come out and explicitly state that opinion, but if you read between the lines, they have excuses for everything that hasn’t gone right.

                    • JB88

                      Anyone who thinks any fan is “blindly submi[tting]” to the FO’s moves is taking a very myopic view of things.

                      There are some fans who believe in a process and believe that FO’s process of trading surplus or incongruent pieces for pieces of need is a positive thing (Colvin/Stewart trade) or that trading expiring contracts for cost-controlled prospects is a positive thing (Dempster/Garza) or trading pieces that don’t fit in your long term plans of your club is a good thing (Feldman/Maholm/Zambrano). That all of those trades don’t work is a guarantee, but certain fans support the process even if things didn’t work out.

                    • When The Musics Over

                      Those who think that their aren’t fan that blindly submit to these moves are taking a myopic view of using the opinions of those on certain message boards and applying it as the opinion of the overall fan base. The message boards of certain sights just happen to be a small sliver of the overall fan base. And each message board often has a different tone to it. Cubs Den is infinitely more peaches and cream than this website, though the additional of Rubio Jr has helped balance things out a bit.

                      That said, there are still plenty on message boards that continue to follow the undying mantra of “In Theo we Trust.”

                  • Chef Brian

                    Very true and well stated. It would’ve taken other worldly skill to make something of the 2011 roster due to all the factors you described as well as unbelievable Luck. Something the Cubs have had in short supply since well forever and the Cardinals seem to have cornered the market on. No team has more luck than the Cardinals, every bounced ball and break in the game always seems to go their way.

      • When The Musics Over

        Excluding flipping players, which I agree does threaten to damage credibility to an extent, there are many teams, often good ones, that do all or at least most of the roster and minor league roster items you noted above on a very regular basis.

        International spending – Check
        Locking up young players to long term contracts – Check
        Creating value out of exporting contracts – Check
        Firing and hiring managers and other management personnel – Check
        Staying the course in spite of fan grievances – Check

        Now what the Cubs have done that almost other teams don’t do is lose on purpose for many years in a row.

        Overall, not really at that impressed with what the Cubs front office has done because the fashion in which they have done it is the path of least resistance, and as Kyle points out, isn’t very creative.

        • Isaac

          So your suggestion(s) for instant contention are what, exactly? Dumping money into aging, over-priced free agents? Doesn’t the “intentional losing” or “non-aggressive” action by the front office for 2012-2014 make what we’re doing hyper-aggressive in 2015-2020? Aren’t we hedging ourselves to be extremely aggressive when we can be, rather than relatively aggressive for awhile?

          • When The Musics Over

            Why does the retort always have to be something along the lines of signing tons of overpriced free agents?

            • Lukas

              Because you’re reply is always….”The Cubz are tanking!!!1!”

              • When The Musics Over

                There are ways to compete without signing overpriced free agents. The Cubs flirted with it last year, and if not for some bad luck, they could have remained respectfully competitive.

            • Isaac

              The retort is such because there is no other answer…or is there?

              • Kyle

                So there’s nobody out there having success without tank/rebuilding or going nuts on the tip-top free agents? No middle ground?

                • JB88

                  I’m sure there is a middle ground, but if the idea is to create something to have sustained success and the FO thinks under the current CBA the quickest way to get there is to have high draft picks and large slots of bonus pool money, then I don’t object to the plan.

                  If the FO’s hands are being tied because ownership isn’t providing the necessary funds, then I have problems. What I don’t know is if that is happening. I know that Epstein and Hoyer have suggested as much, but what I don’t know were whether those comments were strategic, accurate, or somewhere in between. And what I really don’t know is whether the FO has an issue if there really aren’t enough funds available to rebuild the team the way they’d want to.

                  • Kyle

                    You can’t call it “sustained success” when it starts with a lack of success.

                    Cramming all the losing in at the beginning and calling it sustained success bugs me.

                    • JB88

                      You strike me as a very smart guy, so I’m sure you understand that what they are attempting to build is something that creates sustained success, not that they are suggesting that this build-up period qualifies as sustained success.

                      But what I think galls you more than anything is that you don’t like the manner in which they are conducting the rebuild. You think it is possible to both draft well and field a competitive team at the same time.

                      That might be true. It might be a successful way to build a team under the new CBA.

                      But it isn’t the way that the Cubs are choosing to rebuild. At some point, one of two things will happen: (a) your argument will be vindicated because the rebuild will fail and this FO will leave; or (b) the rebuild will be successful. But I imagine that even if the rebuild is successful you will continue to argue that the Cubs should have acquired ML talent immediately and started trying to win immediately rather than tanking at least 3 seasons.

                      I just don’t understand why an intelligent guy like you appear to be isn’t willing to give this plan a bit of time before you use your posting prowess to rip it.

                    • Kyle

                      Well, that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?

                      I have an opinion right now. If it turns out to be wrong, I’ll live with it. Waiting to have an opinion until all the information comes in wouldn’t be any fun.

                    • JB88

                      “Well, that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?

                      I have an opinion right now. If it turns out to be wrong, I’ll live with it. Waiting to have an opinion until all the information comes in wouldn’t be any fun.”

                      You don’t happen to work for Fox News by any chance do you? :)

                  • http://bleachernation.com woody

                    Do you really think the FO would come out and broadcast it if ownership was saying they don’t have money? This is year three of the rebuilld and Theo’s contract. And year three is basicly in the toilet. Will year four be much better? Nobody knows, it’s all hanging on the development of a hand full of prospects. Nothing like putting the weight of the world on their shoulders. I guess if we could be a .500 ball club in 2015 and they actually spent some money before the 2016 season then the FO could call the rebuild a success. There certainly are a lot of if’s for that to happen.

                    • When The Musics Over

                      A lot of “ifs” have magically become “whens”. I really hope it turns out that way. Just keep your fingers crossed.

                • Isaac

                  I definitely believe there is a middle-ground. We maybe simply differ in our preferences. I’d rather go 62-100 for three years then 95-67 for five years, then go 82-80 for eight years.

                  That’s obviously oversimplifying it, but there is something to be said for piling up resources and talent to take major shots, rather than simply keeping your head above water.

                  • Edwin

                    Going 62-100 is not the only way to pile up resources and talent, and it ignores the hidden cost of decreased fan attendance and marketability. Good teams keep their head above water, and still manage to build championship caliber teams.

                    • Isaac

                      Sure, but it is one way. It’s acknowledging when you don’t have it in a given year and leveraging that into future assets.

                    • terencemann

                      Unfortunately, the Cubs were not a good team when they hired Epstein and the rest of his team. The choices were to allow the team to lose a few extra games and attempt to draft premium talent in ensuing drafts or win a few extra games at significant extra cost in terms of payroll as well as sliding backward in draft order and (going forward) taking a hit to their available draft pool money.

          • Kyle

            Hedging would imply we are avoiding downside.

            The risk of trying to win is you might fail and lose. The Cubs are locking in the downside by guaranteeing the losing.

            • JB88

              “The risk of trying to win is you might fail and lose. The Cubs are locking in the downside by guaranteeing the losing.”

              And that, at least, right now, seems to be the plan. You can disagree with the plan, but it certainly seems for the short term (i.e., the first three seasons of the rebuild), the goal is to lose and lose big. Once they start spending money and trying to acquire ML talent and if the results are the same, then your statement would carry more weight (with me at least).

            • Isaac

              I’d say signing Edwin Jackson to a $52,000,000 deal qualifies as trying to win. This team was not trying to lose. The FO simply understands reality, which a majority of the fan base clearly does not.

              • Kyle

                And that was by far their best offseason as Cubs. Unfortunately, they seem to have regretted it and are going back to 2011-12 mode.

              • When The Musics Over

                Yes, they flirted with it, but it didn’t work due to some bad luck. Too bad they front office explicitly stated that they made a mistake signing him this past offseason. And that wasn’t in terms of him not living up to his contract, it was in terms of them signing anyone before they feel they are truly ready to win, or not lose on purpose anymore, which I actually hope ends after this year, though if Baez and Bryant don’t have shining years, might actually look more like 2016, which would suck hard.

                • Isaac

                  So, losing with paying free agents is “bad luck”?

                  Believe me, I want the FO to spend, and spend big. I simply want them to do it when it makes sense as it pertains to the rest of our pieces. Spending hugely the last 2-3 years would have been simply throwing good money after bad.

                  • Kyle

                    It’s not always bad luck, but in the case of the 2013 Cubs, a lot of it was bad luck.

            • Internet Random

              “The risk of trying to win is you might fail and lose.”

              Agreed, but not all failures are equal. If you try without direction or planning at any old time, you can squander valuable resources that could have been put to more efficient use by waiting to utilize them until you had a better chance of winning.

              There’s also a such thing as sacrificing early on to gain a compensating advantage.

        • Lukas

          I would hope they stay the course with their plan despite fan grievances.

          The very moment they start making decisions based on what the fans what will be the same moment I know for sure this org is hopeless forever.

          • When The Musics Over

            100% agreed. It’s to be expected of front offices as general course of action, not applauded as if it’s some sort of special feat they were able to pull off against all odds.

            • Isaac

              I agree with that, Lukas. It’s why I do NOT believe it is currently hopeless. Hendry’s regime was hopeless towards the end.

              • Kyle

                I don’t think either situation was or is hopeless.

                • Isaac

                  Fair enough.

          • terencemann

            “The very moment they start making decisions based on what the fans what will be the same moment I know for sure this org is hopeless forever.”

            I totally agree. There’s a saying in business that if you only ever make improvements based on your customers’ suggestions then you’ll only ever make small improvements to the product you have and will never create the kind of disruptive innovations that put companies out ahead of their competitors.

            It’s uncomfortable for the Cubs customers to experience what’s going on but this is the kind of work that helped teams like the Cardinals get to where they are today. The 2013 Cardinals were built on work that has been going on behind the scenes for years and it just so happens that the Cardinals also built winning teams a decade ago around young talent and a core of players that they were able to keep together for a long time.

            I’m guessing there were times when the Cards were tempted to trade players in their minor league system to help them get that shortstop or third baseman they thought they needed but they stayed the course and it paid off.

    • TulaneCubs

      I think what people fail to realize is the strength of the current NL Central is one of the primary reasons the Cubs haven’t opted to “go for it” the last few years. Spending money on free agents in an attempt to get good now certainly impacts the strength of the team in the future. It means more wins (lower draft picks) and it means long term financial burdens in some form or fashion. That might be a good gamble if the Central was extremely weak and a collection of middle of the road 30 year old free agents could win the division. But given the strength of the Reds, Pirates and Cards currently, it’d still make the Cubs a long shot.

      The idea of taking the middle road, which I’d argue the Cubs have done for most of my lifetime, might be more dangerous to take now than ever. You’ve got teams within the division that are not just set up to be good now, but are set up to be good in the future. Trying to build a team for now while at the same time building for the future just leads to a middle of the road approach that, in my opinion, would stick them in mediocrity for the foreseeable future. Considering the spending restrictions, I’m more than comfortable with them sacrificing short term seasons in order to give themselves the best chance to build a long term contender.

      Now, you’ll say,”If these guys were that good at their jobs, they should be able to pull free agents out of their butt that don’t cost a lot and are productive, which will make them good now. That will mean they won’t tie up long term resources because these guys will be incredibly undervalued. And then, since they’ll be good, they’ll have to be awesome drafters because they’ll have poor first round picks. So, sign incredibly undervalued free agents to add to a shit sandwich current team and then draft awesome with poor draft position and Voila! Parallel fronts!”

      The reality is, finding an island of misfit toys that are cheap and will turn a crap team into a contender is extremely difficult. Hell, I’d actually argue that’s kind of what they’ve tried to do the last 2 years. Now you can say they should have taken gambles on some of the bigger names, but who are those names? Which ones did you want to sign to those contracts? Because we’ve certainly seen a boatload of those contracts blow up in teams’ faces.

      You continuously said the Cubs front office has taken the easy way out, rather than being bold and making moves to make the near term team good. I think there’s a simple reason for that. Being bold and making large attempts to make the near term team good had a very low probability of success while compromising the long term strength of the team. If that’s the case and you have the opportunity to be a bad team now and a potentially great team later or a middle of the road team now and a middle of the road team later, give me the former any day.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    When you see that list of guys that the cardinals already have and then a guy like Taveras coming in and it gives me the chills. Little doubt in my mind that the cards and pirates will finish 1 and 2 in the division. I look for the reds to falter some, but still a solid third place. That leaves us and the brew crew contending for the cellar. I have been kind of bipolar this winter. I go from guarded optimism to despair bordering on disgust. I look at the farm system and the international signings and I think that we are in good shape. But then I think about this being year three of the rebuild and not one bit of renovation has started at Wrigley. And we keep getting mixed messages from the FO through their favorite mouth pieces that we are all in on Tanaka etc. Then from that high note we hear that maybe they will trade Shark and load up on more prospects and put the year of contention clear out to 2017. But one thing is obvious and that is that they aren’t going to spend any money aside from Tanaka who quote, unquote fits into the plan. I have to admire Theo for sticking to his guns. I can’t help but form a resentment when I see another possible 100 loss season coming. My gut tells me Tanaka’s never coming here period. I think that Mr, Ricketts has a dilema to contend with. I’m not going to bash him. He has a good plan, except he probably didn’t see things getting bogged down into a quagmire like this. Roof tops holding his plan hostage. Rapidly declining revenues from poor attendance due to a poor product on the field. And now when it’s time to do a new TV deal and really cash in so some of that profit si it can be used to help the team, he is faced with declining ratings and a screwed up deal where they have different contracts with different entities expiring at different times. I have a phrase to describe all of that, but if I used it Brett would banish me. So yes I am officially bipolar now. Maybe tomorrow when I get all this snow shoveled and get to the store to buy some more Kool-aid I will be OK. I see a very good front office that is ham strung by the people running business operations. My fear is that we will be here next January after the cubs losing another half a million in attendance and losing 90+ games.

  • When The Musics Over

    “The assumption that the Cubs are just destined to have sustained success in a few years is silly.”

    It’s amazing how many people truly think it’s a veritable lock for the Cubs to be awesome in the future.

    • aaronb

      But…But…..But…Prospects?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      What I am looking forward to seeing is what will be a model for building good teams in the future, assuming that the current CBA remains in effect for a while. (Of course, I’ve only got a couple of decades left, anyway!)

      Since the new CBA has come out, the FA market has been pretty dismal: a team as bad as the 2011 Cubs could not patch all of it’s holes through FAs over three off seasons even if they’d gotten both crazy financially and flat-out lucky by signing everyone that could help.

      However, (and as Brett pointed out the other day) the pendulum is bound to swing the other way: young guys are going to gamble that they can get to FA while healthy & productive and eschew the “team-friendly” long-term contracts that keep them out of FA through their 20′s. That might make it possible to turn a 2011 Cubs team into a 2008 Cubs team in a single off-season (albeit *very* expensively!), and also bring down FA salaries due to simple supply and demand. The cycle will then reverse, as younger players will think that the payoff on the health gamble isn’t really worth it. (We might be talking about a wavelength of a decade here!)

      This could cause the importance of farms to wax and wane cyclically, too. Currently, they seem to be as important as they have been since free agency started. After all, if you have wanted a good 2Bmen or 3Bmen the last 3 years, then you either called one up OR traded (usually other prospects) for one.

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

        We may end up doing this with Kris Bryant, like the Rays did with Longoria, although, I think this FO might wait a year or two (like they did with Castro and Rizzo) before offering a multi-year contract buying out arb years and free agency years.

      • http://www.rdacpaltd.com rdacpa

        It is my opinion that this rebuild is more a product of the leveraged partnership between the Ricketts family and the Tribune Company than the new CBA. The debt incurred by the partnership can not be repaid for seven years for Zell’s tax avoidance strategy to have any chance of succeeding. That would have the Cubs saddled with over $700 million in debt through at least Oct. 27, 2016. The new CBA, as well as its predecessor, limits the amount of debt that a franchise is allowed to carry. The current CBA mandates that debt can not exceed 8 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). This would result in the Cubs having to turn at least $87.5 million profit each and every year that this debt is in place. This is the main reason, in my opinion, why the rebuild has not occurred on parallel fronts. There was simply not way to address the needs at the major league level and invest in the farm system while also maintaining the profitability needed to sustain that amount of debt.

  • itzscott

    >> *(I love that we now live in a world where a source spilling the beans on a future prospect ranking list is relatively big news – that sounds sarcastic, but I’m totally serious.) <<

    …. and on the flip side, I think it's a sad state of affairs when we're all focused on all things that have to do with the non-major league Cubs and very little, if anything, to do with the main focus of our fandom.

    I think we accept looking at it backwards just to maintain our hope and sanity.

    The Cubs are truly modeled on religion…. The "business" of religion is BASICALLY selling hope, which helps us rationalize and maintain our sanity during trying times.

  • Danny B

    Brett- good article and good call on making commentators register.

    This underlines two things I often think while reading this site:

    Cubs fans have a tendency to overvalue their own prospects;
    There is a common assumption that playoffs= World Series.

    While we may be competitive by 2015, so will a good handful of other teams. One benefit of having them inter-division is that the they all beat up on each other. To stay positive, this could lead to a lot of exciting late-season pennant races and good postseason experience. I’m personally most afraid of McCutcheon, Cole, and maybe Craig and Matt Carpenter going forward. Like any previous champion, though, the Cubs will need to play great ball for most of the season and be aided by a little bit of luck.

    I’m torn on how the team looks financially. Sometimes I wonder if Ricketts took on too much debt. But I want to believe that if they decide Tanaka is the real deal, they can at least drive up a really high price on him. And if not him, why not Bronson Arroyo? Maybe 3y/36mil?

  • Ballgame17

    Once the main crop of prospects for the Cubs come through within the next few years, the NL Central will be the AL East of 2-3 years ago. Gonna be an absolute battle and should go down to the wire each of those few years. This is assuming the Cubs have a reasonable amount of these prospects pan out. The roster will be full of cost-controlled players and we’ll be able to add the big ticket free agent(s) when it’s time or trade some prospects for a big time player. Of course this is all a few years down the road and anything can happen, but it looks promising and I have to keep telling myself that the time is almost here to see what the elite prospects in our system have…

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    okay so we all agree the Cubs suck now.2014 they probably suck too is the consensus. 2015 these other teams look like they are ready to win. Cubs? Who knows? What else is new?

  • MattLaCasse

    I think what many of us are underestimating is just how bad the Cubs are/were at every level of the organization. If you want to rebuild a house, you don’t start with the roof. You start with the foundation. Theo et al have spent the first few years of their tenure building the foundation to give the organization long term success. I don’t want to win one World Series. I want to win MANY World Series and to do that, you need financial resources (which is slowly coming) and you need a strong farm system (also happening). If they miss the 2015-18 window…who cares? If they’re built to be strong for the next 10-20 years, that’s the most important thing.

    • Edwin

      If they’re not a competative team by 2016, that will be a huge dissapointment.

    • DCF

      “If they miss the 2015-18 window…who cares? If they’re built to be strong for the next 10-20 years, that’s the most important thing.”
      Not sure if you’re serious but this reminds of a quote from men who stare at goats:
      - He gave him a light tap. Wong lokked at him and just nodded. That was it. He had given him the death touch. Wong died.
      - Then and there??
      - Nah, 18 yrs later. But that the thing with the death touch. You never know when it’s gonnal take effect.

      Or to stay within the frame of you’re picture: I really do understand all the stuff about laying the foundation etc. But the foundation itself isn’t really worth anything if you don’t actually build a house on it. What house are they going to build? What will it look like? And how long after the 4 years of foundation-laying will construction take? I really want to believe in THE PLAN, but I just don’t see how the Cubs an possibly be competitive in 2015 or even 2016. The way I see it, rebuilding the farm, international scouting is fantastic to ensure a steady stream of young, cheap talent coming in.vThat’s basically feeding the fire, but is it enough to light the flameof a cold dead body like the Cubs MLB team to start with? I’m really not sure about that.

    • MichaelD

      How will anything the Cubs have done lead to success in 20 years? If the plan works it will show results in 5-10 years. At that point if the leadership continues to make good moves they could continue to be good after that, but that will be more dependent on what they do years from now. About the only thing they have done that would have a payoff more than a decade away is the aggressive international signing, and even then the 16-year-olds they drafted will be 36 in 20 years.

  • gcheezpuff

    If I am not mistaken, the next 2 years of free agency might hold some pretty interesting pitching options. Homer Bailey, David Price, Max Scherzer… Etc. not a bad crop of guys to spend your money on. I’d like to see the Cubs sign Homer Baliey, and maybe he’d have interest staying in the division. My point, not a bad group for the Cubs biggest if the financial flexibility is there. I think the FO is smart enough to analyze future free agent classes, potential to sign, and this influences every decision they make from drafts to trades. I expect the Cubs to make a big FA SP signing within the next 2 off seasons.

  • DarthHater

    Speaking of the Cardinals, here’s an interesting interview with their assistant GM: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/qa-michael-girsch-st-louis-cardinals-assistant-general-manager/

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    dark hater you gotta figure the cubs have something similar. just not on field talent

  • hawkboy64

    It’s time for the mayor and or Tunney to step in and put the roof tops owners in their thieving place and get if done so the renovation can get going already .

    • 70′s Cub

      Thieving place……Chicago is still in America which should entitle rooftop owners that have a contract with the Cubs to run their business pay taxes,employees and collect profits. The Cubs can put an offer on the table to adjust and/or buy out the rooftops, WGN and any other player/management/supplier contract in place.

  • bbrave307

    Let’s not forget that we have one really big advantage over the Cardinals and Pirates. We are a big market team in a division of small market teams.

    I know we are being outspent by the Cardinal right now but that will change soon. When the original Wrigley refurbishment came up the Cubs estimated that it would add $90 to revenues. Figure the WGN TV contract at $30 million extra and you can see where we will be bumping up against the luxury tax ceiling before too long.

    The Cardinals YE 2013 payroll was $119 million and the Pirates was about $75 million. Going by memory so probably a little off.

    Even if you just look at what increases will be available in 2015 you have to add $30mil for the tv contract and $20 mil for the jumbotron. Add that to the last years $105 mil payroll and you get to the $150 to $160mil range. Again that is not counting the total Wrigley rebuild or what will happen when we sell 3 million tickets again or when the CSN tv deal comes up again.

    Starting in 2015 we should have a $30 to $40 million payroll advantage over the Cards. Even more in the out years. That will buy us two more superstars than them next year and maybe three superstars more in later years.

    So even though our farm systems are about equal now we will have a huge advantage when we get our money right. Which is coming soon.

    As far as the current MLB teams, yes we are a little behind. But throw in Tanaka ( who is in the 2014 budget) and an extra $40 to $50 in free agents in 2015 plus Baez and Bryant in 2015 and maybe one other of Alcantara or Olt or Edwars in 2015 and we could be right there.

    Keep the faith.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Seems pretty ambitious to say that in 2015 we will have 30 to 40 million dollars more than the Cardinals to spend. Nobody knows the details of the much debated covenants attached to the financial deal that the Ricketts did. And we have yet to even start renovating the club houses. Attendance is tanking and this year could be even worse. We won’t have a jumbotron, And it’s iffy that we have a meaningful TV deal done. I don’t know where you are getting your information, but I haven’t heard or read of anything that ambitious happening soon.

      • bbrave307

        I don’t think it is iffy we get a meaningful tv deal done. In the last 2 or 3 weeks Theo said “Trust me” our new tv deal will be more than double what WGN provided. I can’t remember if it was a CSN interview or him being on the score but he said it.

        I am not figuring a jumbotron for 2014, I was saying 2015.

        I also didn’t even factor in that we are still paying Soriano $13 mil in 2014 that will be gone in 2015.

        Our payroll for 2014 stands around $75 mil. And that includes $13 for Soriano. I believe we could spend $30 mil on Tanaka and only get to last years payroll. Throw in the jumbotrom (20mil)and TV deal(30mil) and $13 from Soriano and we will have money to spend.

        I don’t have any inside information. I am just trying to piece it all together. But lets say we spend the money available this year and get Tanaka. By the way if we don’t get him we still have the money to get a really good pitcher.
        Then lets say we spend the $30 mil we get from the tv contract in 2015 on Max Scherzer. And the 20 mil we get from the jumbotron on Johnny Cueto. Then the $13 mil from Soriano on a closer and a set up guy.

        Throw in Baez and Bryant to the big league team and add the #4 pick in the 2014 draft and the prospects we get for Shark to the minors and 2015 doesn’t look too bad.

        All I am saying is don’t forget about our big advantage, which is that we will be able to outspend the Cards and Pirates starting in 2015.

    • When The Musics Over

      The Cardinals are not a small market team. That’s a myth, one that the Cardinals fans love to build up and, some on purpose, others out of ignorance. I believe the Cardinals average payroll ranking in the last decade is just about 11th or so.

    • 70′s Cub

      Keep the Faith that the young Cub impact talent is developed to be more “competitive” and achieves more as in racking up Cy Young’s votes, Silver Slugger’s, Gold Gloves and MVP votes and maybe some distant HOF candidates. A good example of what I’m talking about would be a Jack Morris type career, 13 all star games where he started 4 games, world series games where he pitched the first game multi times and of most importance actually pitched big like Glavine and secured a WS. title. The Card’s had Carpenter who shut out the Philly’s, no doubt as to the leader of that Card staff. Five years from now the stat boys will be calling the loser of that game HOF material ahead of Carpenter.

  • marcfoust

    I liked our offseason last year. We were aggressive in filling needs in the rotation (Feldman, Villanueva, Jackson) bringing in bullpen help (Fujikawa) bringing in a cost controlled bats for the outfield (Hairston, Shierholtz) signing a catcher with upside(Navarro) and some nice minor league contract guys (bogey, sweeney).

    This offseason we have made a couple of strong moves in Wight and Veras, and a ok move in Kotteras, but done very little for the rest of the club. I know there is still time left in the offseason, so I am not failing this offseason yet. But we are pretty clearly in a worse place now than we were last year at this time even considering growth of our players. I didnt expect guys like Cano or Ellsbury or even Ubaldo and it is looking slim on Tanaka. I dont see any pieces added that will greatly impact the success of the club this season or or in the future.

    Comparing 25 man rosters from this year and last year is not a pretty picture. And that is my complaint of the front office. I am not advocating any singular player that we missed out on and I’m not saying the market was great. But the credit that I and many others give the front office was let down a little by the happenings of this offseason. If they land Tanaka that definitely skews us back towards a successful offseason. I just feel like we are missing out on an opportunity to improve the long term direction of the club this offseason.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Ah, but what “opportunity” exists? What players are or were available that would help the Cubs greatly? OK, Cano would have been a *huge* upgrade at 2nd: but the Cubs (and all other NL teams) were going to be hard-pressed to match an AL offer with an eye to DHing later. Els would have been a huge improvement *if* you could count on him to stay healthy. Choo would have been an upgrade in LF, but the Cubs (and other NL teams) were going to be hard-pressed to match an AL offer with an eye to DHing later.

      (Note also that three different teams signed these guys, not just one!)

      Trades might have been possible. However, who scooped us on landing a really good 3Bman or 2BMan? A really good CFer? OK, maybe the Nats scooped everyone on getting Fister: but the Cubs were one of the teams with whom the Tigers wouldn’t have made that dumb trade.

      It takes two to tango in baseball, and there is not good evidence that there has been a “supply” partner where the Cubs demands are concerned.

      • marcfoust

        Hughes to SD, fister to wash. losing on puig ryu cespesdes and darvish to teams who all made the playoffs last year. i wasn’t expecting a 100m commitment but the fact that veras wright ruggiano and kotteras have very little chances of being apart of a cub playoff team in the near future was a choice by Theo and co. I believe in the direction they are taking, but basically sitting on the sidelines for an entire off season when lake, rusin/villanueva and Sweeney are slated to start seems a little unnecessary. a little more improving at the margins would have been nice. there is no trophy for most wins/$.

        the fact that we probably aren’t going to land Tanaka is because of choices the front office made to punt multiple seasons to land pinyero and black types. there is a difference between 60 and 70 and 80 losses and we may learn that lesson the hard way.

        I believe in the long term direction but would have to seen some stronger moves this off season and past. not saying to get into bidding wars but those teams made a stronger commitment yo get those players and none of those are at all bad contracts. I just feel that the front office is getting a little big headed of how smart they are and trying show that they can find value in Feldman’s, sweeneys , Gregg, etc when the money those guys got could have gone to actually getting the anibals, ryu, darvish, etc

        • BT

          It appears that Dombrowski loved Robbie Ray, and targeted him. That’s why he dealt specifically with the Nationals. Since the Cubs don’t have Robbie Ray they couldn’t give him to them.

          I realize Hughes was hoped for around here, but he didn’t sign for a below market deal. Keith Law hated the deal for the Twins, and said he probably wasn’t worth one year at 8, let alone 3 at 24. While I would have liked to get him at a discount, I’m not going be upset that we didn’t overpay to get him.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          As BT notes, the Cubs couldn’t get Fister: the Tigers wanted relief pitchers who had put up good numbers recently, and as we know, the Cubs didn’t have those. (A lot of fanbases were upset by this trade, as they thought that their team could have given the Tigers a better offer: but the Tigers didn’t want to dance with their teams.)

          Hughes was a disaster with the Yankees. He would have been a disaster for the Cubs. I expect that he’ll be a disaster for the Twins, too.

          The Rangers bid more than the #2 & #3 bids combined on Darvish: they equated Darvish with one more out (i.e., a WS title), and thus they badly overvalued him. Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

          Nobody but the Dodgers was willing to offer Puig anything when he was signed. The Dodgers took a huge gamble and won: but 29 other teams thought that they were reckless at the time. (Remember, nobody had legally scouted Puig yet when he signed.)

          The A’s scooped the Cubs on Cespedes, plain and simple. The Cubs had a final offer: the same money but two more years. They probably simply did not believe Cespedes’ agent when he suddenly came back with a contract offer of 150% more.

          Sanchez had something similar: the Tigers told him that they wanted a chance to top his best offer. That happened to be from the Cubs, and the Tigers opted to top it. Sanchez wanted to return to the Tigers, anyway: he had just gotten to the WS with them, and he (correctly) foresaw that he’d have a good shot at getting back with the Tigers in 2013.

          It’s possible that the Cubs should have gone in heavier on Ryu: but, again, that was a blind bidding. There is always a huge crapshoot there. In a lot of ways, you do NOT want to do what the Rangers did: their fans were very ill-pleased to learn that Daniels should have had $30M more to use to resign Hamilton. (Of course, they probably are less upset about that after Hamilton’s 2013 season!)

          On this list, there are no 3Bmen: and the Cubs badly needed one. There are no 2Bmen: and the Cubs badly needed one. Their are no CFer: and the Cubs badly needed one. (Cespedes actually is a corner OF.) Again, there are no trades where the Cubs could realistically have equaled or topped the offer of a team filling one of those holes.

          • hansman

            If I remember right with Cespedes it was the years of control that the Cubs didn’t want to give up.

            • CubFan Paul

              We never had a shot with Cespedes. He wanted a 4yr deal (age 30) OR a 10yr deal (age 36).

              The Cubs offered 6. The A’s offered 4. He’s an Athletic.

              • hansman

                The Cubs and a whole bunch of teams. It was the going rate until the A’s came out of left field with their offer.

                • CubFan Paul

                  If that’s how you see it.

                  • hansman

                    That’s how it was reported at the time. I just read MLBTR and Brett’s writeups about the signing.

                    Now, I guess if we want to go down the rabbit hole of the Cubs appearing to try and not actually trying, then we have nothing to discuss.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “That’s how it was reported at the time”

                      Are you ignoring Cespedes’ request for 4 or 10 year offers only?

                      “go down the rabbit hole of the Cubs appearing to try and not”

                      That’s something totally different

                    • hansman

                      Yes, to which all but 1 MLB team said “Ya, but we need at least 6 years of control and no way in hell are we giving you a 10 year deal”. My point is, the Cubs weren’t off on an island with their offer.

                      But, I think we are using different words to say the same thing.

                      Ok, just wanted to make sure.

  • Chuck24

    While I firmly agree that the Cubs’ minor league system needed to be strengthened, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that that organization’s rebuild has been “a relative success”. We won’t know if that’s so until these highly-touted minor leaguers and prospects get to the big league level. It they don’t do well, then the rebuild effort has failed. All the eggs right now, are in one basket. Sure hope it works out…if it doesn’t, some people ought to be looking for new jobs.

  • Vic

    Baseball is a probability business. The FO is taking the right approach for sustainable success. Fill the organization with as many good prospects as possible, develop them as best possible recognizing some will fall through the cracks. Lock down the good ones with reasonable long term contracts. Supplement the home grown talent with free agents when the time is right. Clear the first hurdle by making the post season regularly and then anything can happen. Execution of the plan is key and for that the jury is still out but the track record of success with the Red Sox is promising. I for one am going to continue to be patient. Cant be worse than the last 100 years.

    • JB88

      This really nicely summarizes my thoughts on the rebuild and current plan of the club.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Relevant OT- Bulls know stalled for next 2-3 yrs and so trade Deng– by analogy shouldn’t Cubs consider same move and unload even more players and salary?

    • Jason P

      Completely different situations. For one, the NBA salary cap is a game changer. Big market teams cannot outspend small market teams to the degree they do in baseball. The Bulls made that move because they *don’t* want to be stalled for the next 2-3 years — not because they know they are. That team is still loaded with assets and useful pieces.

      • DarthHater

        They also traded Deng for draft picks–which, of course, you can’t do in baseball. There are only probably a few hundred other significant differences.

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

          And the NBA is stupid.

          • cub-hub

            Opinions are like assholes, yours smell like shit. While baseball is my favorite sport, the NBA provides 100 times more excitement than MLB could dream of.

            • hansman

              Opinions are like assholes, yours smell like shit.

              • cub-hub

                This kind of language is not tolerated. :)

                • hansman

                  Opinions are like assholes, yours smell like shit.

                  (I am going to have fun with you on this one)

                  • DarthHater

                    Opinions are like nipples, everybody has one. Some have firm points, others are barely discernible through layers, and some are displayed at every opportunity regardless of whether the audience has stated “I am interested in your nipples” or not.

                    • Fishin Phil

                      “Opinions are like nipples, everybody has one.”

                      Ha! I have two!!

                    • DarthHater

                      Since you are a puppet, I take it you mean two opinions, and not two nipples.

            • http://www.authorlyleernst.webs.com LLE

              The NBA is not a sport, it’s a show. Seven foot men run with the ball and dunk it. Big &$#^&&* deal.

              • cub-hub

                The opinions are like assholes part was a joke, but the NBA is much more entertaining than MLB. Until baseball shortens their games, increase continued action and numerous other things, then the NBA will always be more entertaining. If you think all the NBA is is 7 Foot men running and dunking, I see why you don’t like it. Hard to like something you don’t understand. The star power of the NBA dwarfs that of baseball, and no matter how great Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera becomes, they`ll never be known like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant or even Paul George or Carmelo Anthony. In fact, of the four major team sports, baseball is probably last in entertainment provided, and maybe only more popular than Hockey.

                • hansman

                  “but the NBA is much more entertaining than MLB.”

                  The NBA is more entertaining because of the constant action. There are always guys moving and the ball is being passed a lot.

                  It’s a sport invented for cats. “Oooo the ball is moving, that is good!!!”

                  If you like the game, good for you. It’s kind of the anti-thesis of baseball.

                • hansman

                  “In fact, of the four major team sports, baseball is probably last in entertainment provided”

                  I really don’t see the appeal of football. The pace of the game is really no different than baseball just you have 350 pound men ramming into each other wearing tight clothing.

                  And every third play someone gets a concussion.

                • Jason P

                  In the NBA, there are only two teams in the entire 15-team eastern conference with any chance whatsoever to get to the finals. And at least half if not more of the rest are deliberately trying to lose for draft position.

                  • cub-hub

                    Oh. You mean like our Chicago Cubs are doing. I thought if you know you can’t, you might as well lose as many as you can. What’s the point in being mediocre, right.

                    • BT

                      I know you think you are being clever, but you aren’t addressing the issue. A conference with 80 percent of the teams trying to rebuild, even if it’s the right thing for those teams to do, doesn’t make for a very exciting league.

  • Fastball

    Maybe Theo and his compadre are running the value of the MLB club into the ground while building the farm system because they are plants from a group of investors who plan to do a buyout to save Ricketts ass after this season. The buy the Cubs for $2014 less than he paid for it cuz the fans are all gone. They sign new TV deal and a bunch of free agents to mix in with the up and comers. The fans come back because Ricketts is gone and the Cubs are looking winners. The marketing deals are lining up. These new guys tell Ram and Tunnel pound sand and move the team. To a new stadium that costs them much less to operate. In the meantime Baez, Bryant, Almora and Solar all break out. Then in year 2 the new owner finally surfaces. Up til this point nobody knew it was Mark Cuba who actually bought the Cubs. And yes the Cubs now have the nicest clubhouse in baseball. That’s my conspiracy theory. Lastly Theoyer cannot take credit for signing Baez and several of the other prospects that are making Theo look good right now. Some of the boys are Hendry’s, Fleita and Bush recruits. As was Castro and Cashner who got us Rizzo and Marshall who got us the Cincy prospect’s and a starting pitcher. Other than Draft some guys and botch up some trade deadline deals at the last minute. Waited to long on Garza and missed trading him before arm troubles and the Dempster fiasco. There are plenty of bad deals and good ones.

    • InRizzoWeTrust

      Mark Cuba!!!

      I laughed for about 5 minutes. Thanks for that… Not sure if its because I’ve been up all night or the fact you did a speed ball when you wrote this.

  • Guancous

    Everyone is arguing about an offseason that is not even over yet. Let’s see what happens with the pitching market after Tanaka signs.

  • CubsFanFrank

    On the plus side for the Cubs, unlike the other two, while we may not look or sound like it, we are a major market revenue generator. This being said, when we are ready to compete, assuming that the three teams have an equal number of prospects pan out, we’ll have a lot more money to fill the remaining holes, while they’re existing stars will be aging. Meanwhile, we’ll likely have at least another year or two to sell off big leaguers who don’t figure into the big picture for more low level/high ceiling types, as well as guys like Olt and Vizcaino whose teams are ready to give up but still have some degree of high end potential.

    Bottom line: while those suckers are busy trying win, we’ll be stocking so that when we are competitive, we’ll stay that way. Not that the Cardinals don’t do that anyway, but it can go back to being an actual rivalry as opposed to one guy kicking the other in the ribs while he tries to cover his face.

  • tampacubsphan35

    Interesting article in FanGraphs about the “Cardinals Way” of doing things. The story behind the Cardinals AGM is a great one since joining the Cardinals organization in 2006 with no baseball experience. I also have had the honor of wearing both his World Series Rings from 2006 and 2012 at family weddings!!

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/qa-michael-girsch-st-louis-cardinals-assistant-general-manager/

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