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masahiro tanakaThe hottest commodity on the market right now is in the middle of meetings that will determine where he pitches in 2014 and beyond. Thanks to months and months of buildup, it almost feels … false. Like the process isn’t really unfolding right now, it’s just more buildup. But, yeah, it’s really happening right now. Masahiro Tanaka is meeting with teams, and will sign within two weeks.

  • Although reports say Tanaka and his agent are hoping to keep this week’s meetings very hush-hush, the White Sox confirmed to the Tribune that they met with Tanaka and Casey Close in Los Angeles. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, manager Robin Ventura, and vice-president Ken Williams participated in the meeting. The Cubs, however, have not confirmed a meeting.
  • The Dodgers presumably have met or will meet with Tanaka while he’s in Los Angeles, but GM Ned Colletti says things are still in the “feeling out” stage (ESPN). Team CEO Stan Kasten tempered enthusiasm about the Dodgers actually landing Tanaka when asked, saying that he wouldn’t predict it. How much that actually means … eh. I still expect the Dodgers to be heavily involved. (UPDATE: And right on cue, the Dodgers will come out blasting.)
  • Jesse Rogers’ take on the Cubs/Tanaka situation, noting that officials had privately expressed more optimism about getting Tanaka under the old, blind-bid-one-winner posting system. Now the Cubs have to pay at the top of the market, and convince Tanaka that coming to the Cubs is a good decision based on The Plan, I guess.
  • A scout tells Dave Kaplan that he thinks that Tanaka will come down to the Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Angels and Cubs. (No Mariners?) The scout added that the final commitment could be upwards of $175 million.
  • Ken Rosenthal suggests that Tanaka’s agent could request an opt-out be build into the final deal – that agent, Casey Close, also represents Zack Greinke, who got an opt-out after three years in his Dodgers deal. Obviously you have to do what you have to do to sign a guy if other teams are right there in the bidding, but I really, really hate opt-outs for teams. By agreeing to let a guy opt out of his, say, six-year deal after three years, you’ve effectively given him a three-year deal with a three-year player option. The team retains all of the downside (if the guy gets hurt or sucks, they’re on the hook for all six years) without much of the upside (if the guy’s great, you lose him after three years).
  • The posting fee – for Tanaka or any other NPB player – will be paid out in four installments over the course of two years, lessening the burden on smaller market teams. That’s not likely to matter in the Tanaka situation.
  • Blackhawks1963

    Prevailing thought is that Tanaka gets at least $140 M. That is some very serious money for a Japanese import (or anybody without a proven track record in this league).

    To be blunt, I’m not going to be terribly bummed out when Tanaka signs with the Yankees.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      We know. You keep repeating yourself on every single Tanaka thread. If you actually feel he will 100% not come here, or is 100% going to the Yankees, why bother yourself with opening that thread and commenting the same comment? Every flipping day? Dude, it was annoying a month ago.

  • CubFan Paul

    “eh. I still expect the Dodgers to be heavily involved.”

    Why? They have seven legit starters. Seven (Greinke, Billingsley, Kershaw, Beckett, Ryu, Haren, & Zach Lee).

    • Johnny Chess

      As a Dodger GM you have to ask who is better? Those proven starters or Tanaka. I believe the Dodgers want to jack up the price to knock off competition from the big spenders on other free agents. The Yankees are their biggest rival for spending.

      • CubFan Paul

        “who is better? Those proven starters or Tanaka”

        At best the Dodgers would be paying $20MM plus a year to a #3 or #4 starter.

        • nate1m

          Tanaka is unproven. If he turns into Grienke you’re thrilled. He’s probably their fourth starter. Who knows what Beckett or Haren will do as 4th and 5th starters or how good Lee could be if he cracks the lineup.

          • hansman

            You are right that he would be the guy who gets the ball in the 4th game played of the season.

            After that, he will, likely, just be another really good pitcher that the Dodgers would send to the mound every 5th day.

  • Senor Cub

    “The scout added that the final commitment could be upwards of $175 million.”…that is ridiculously absurd! Cubs better turn the page if that’s the case and focus on trades. I don’t know that the top ten pitchers in the league are making that kind of money. This isn’t Maddux we are talking about here….(thought I would plug that in…hehe)

  • notcubbiewubbie

    starting to get turned off by tanaka and his agent.if 175,000,000 is the price fuggitaboutit .this guy has never thrown a pitch in the big leagues. and there are more busts than there are star players who come over from japan. i want to win but i could not live through another soraino contract.

  • 70′s Cub

    Three year out is a deal breaker for the Cubs……Kills the front load contract concept of using non competitive payroll years 2014-2015 to get productive pieces…

  • Jason P

    $175 million is insane for someone who might end up a #3 starter.

  • PolarBear

    Seriously, for that cash, just sign Santana and re-sign Garza. That’s two for less than Tanaka and you already know what you’re getting. Is it really that hard to figure out???

    • nate1m

      This sounded crazy but I just did some quick research and its not far off. Most predictions have Garza at 16 or 17 mil for 4 or 5 years and Santana around 13 or 14 for 3 or 4 from what I can fairly quickly find. But is a rotation of Shark, Garza, Santana, Wood, E-Jax going to be better than Tanaka, Shark, Wood, Arrieta, E-Jax when the hitting prospects reach Wrigley?

      • PolarBear

        That’s also 7-9 years of control between the two of them with the option to trade for other areas of concern, should it become prevalent. Also, let someone else give the 3 year opt out to Tanaka and then we can scoop him up as a free agent once he’s shown what he can do against elite talent.

  • Johnny Chess

    When it all comes down to an actual deal, no GM is going to over pay. He will be left with 2 or 3 offers to choose from. The amount will be 120 mil +/- or 17 mil per yr for 7 yrs with a club option in 6th and 7th yr.

    • Wilburthefirst

      Agree very strongly with this thinking … I would assume with no real knowledge the statements about high end offers and the three year opt out are either musings by those outside the process or the agent’s team setting a high bar for public consumption.

  • Cubsin

    A three-year opt out clause suggests a staggered contract, e.g. $20 million in the first three years, followed by $30 in the last three years. Feel free to substitute your own numbers.

  • Johnny Chess

    That posting fee is still money out of pocket and has to reflect on the final price.

  • When The Musics Over

    Can we get a running Tanaka post count? It has to be somewhere in the teens already, and there’s still two weeks to go.

  • Johnny Chess

    Yu Darvish was an example of posting fee plus actual contract. He was highly touted and still he was had for a song. No way Tanaka is worth twice as much.

    • Edwin

      After the Rangers one the posting fee bid, Darvish was only able to negotiate with the Rangers. Tanaka will be able to negotiate with any team who posts the $20MM posting fee. Tanaka may not be worth as much as Darvish, but he’ll be paid much more, because he has more leverage.

      • Wilburthefirst

        I think you are correct to a point, but if he doesn’t project to better than Darvish or say even a Garza/Santana/or whatever his value is estimated at his agent may start the conversation with any offer, but the negotiation will eventually settle around a more reasonable AAV figure.

        His value to most teams is not his upside as a pitcher per se, It is his projected value as a pitcher plus his youngish age as he is comes to the FA Market. My simple third grade mind says the most likely scenario is he gets the going AAV for a #2, but he get’s it for a longer period than an older FA with similar assumed value.

        If he has a lot of confidence in his ability and is a risk taker, which many people start not to be when tens of millions are on the table, he does a four deal with a contender willing to pay for immediate value and reenters the FA Market for one more big pay day in his late 20′s. Much bigger risk/reward to this strategy and depends on his personality.

  • greekcubsfan

    $175 million is a ton of money for someone who hasn’t pitched in the MLB. He may end up being worth it but it’s a huge gamble. I’m praying we get it right, either way.

  • Jr 25

    Id give up on Tanaka. Sign Garza or Santana- forfiet the pick and sign Johan Santana to a 1 or 2 yr incentive laden deal and flip him if he’s doing well!

  • Johnny Chess

    It would interesting to see what former MLB players in Japan collectively did against Tanaka.

  • Jr 25

    And than id still try to trade Shark for some pitching prospects!

  • Johnny Chess

    Garza burned up his good will with the Cubs. He opted out of surgery and collected paychecks while he healed “naturally”. There will be flare ups. Thumbs down on Garza.

  • NorthSideIrish

    That Jeff Passan article is ugly…going to fire up the anti-Ricketts crowd

    • CubFan Paul

      “Cubs in six words: Spare change? Ownership real bleacher bums”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To his credit, Passan engaged a lot of folks in discussion on that piece over the past 30 minutes. I was – and still am – very surprised by his take.

      • CubFan Paul

        “for $845 million, it put down $171 million – a hair over 20 percent”

        I thought they put down $400M up front (by selling ameritrade stock) and financed the $445M

        • Scotti

          My understanding its that a big chunk of the $400M was to remain relatively liquid to satisfy MLB’s debt ratio concerns (the debt ratio only being an issue because of Zell’s requirements).

          An interesting sidenote is that the Ricketts family lost nearly $400M on cashing out the stock when they did (it had been worth nearly double).

          A real interesting sidenote is that, technically, there never was a sale. The Trib merely brought on a partner (the gist of the Zell attempt to avoid paying all taxes on the deal). Last year the IRS told the Trib they don’t buy the partnership and that the Trib needs to cough up well over $200M.

      • Kyle

        The bandwagon grows. It’s getting harder and harder to justify Ricketts’ tenure to date as anything other than a five-year disaster.

        • hansman

          I wouldn’t say a disaster. Less than we hoped for 5 years ago, ya.

          • Kyle

            When Ricketts’ bid was approved, the team was coming off back-to-back division titles, had a top-10 farm system, and had just drawn 3.3 million fans (and was getting low-8-figures in revenue each year from the rooftops)

            Since then, the Cubs have averaged 71-91, attendance is down to 2.6m with even more no-shows and almost no rooftop revenue, and they’ve set the franchise futility mark for a two-year period the last two years. And this year’s team is worse on paper right now than last year’s.

            What on earth could he possibly have done to make you consider it a disaster if not this? If he’d set fire to Wrigley Field by accident on his first day, at least they’d have a stadium in place by now.

            • http://www.chicagocubsbleachertickets.com Cub Fan Dan

              Im not looking to exonerate Ricketts, but when the club was sold, their window was on the verge of shutting. Zell left $0 for Hendry to spend & had to resort for salary dumps to pick up Milton Bradley (ugh).

              I also couldn’t find anywhere the Cubs had a top 10 farm system. In 2009 Baseball America had them in the 16-25 range. I dont recall it ever being necessarily strong from the late 2000s until now.

              Now I see Ricketts at a crossroads. If he doesnt come among the high bidders on Tanaka & passes on the 2015 free agent class, which looks like it could include multiple, relatively young, front of the rotation pitchers. Im gonna get scared really quick.

              Youre spot on in regards to Wrigley, maybe a fire was the way to go?! That part of the ownership has been an absolute disaster from the start.

            • hansman

              It’d be a disaster if:

              1. No DR facilities
              2. No Arizona facilities
              3. No plans for the renovation

              So, basically, if he had done nothing AND allow the MLB team to take a step backward. There are bright spots, there are black eyes.

              • aaronb

                Not true at all.

                Somebody was going to buy the Cubs. The only way this has validity is if whoever bought the Cubs was simply going to refuse to improve anything.

                I’d say that would require quite a leap in logic.

                • hansman

                  Nah, just someone like the Tribune buying the Cubs.

                  • aaronb

                    Other than the Ricketts, who has been the last truly horrible owner to buy a team?

                    Frank McCourt?

                    The reality is that MOST people who make this kind of investment do so with the plan to improve it. Guys either want to play with it like a Yacht.

                    Unfortunately we got the flip side. A group of trust fund kids who have very little personal wealth. They need the Cubs revenue to support the 4 families who are the technical owners.

                    They just have a rich father who was willing to co-sign.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      I think people who want to praise the Ricketts for updates to the organization facilities are trying to make an owner-specific argument here when there shouldn’t be one. Anyone who would have been willing to put up the cash in the kind of agreement necessary to buy the Cubs would have had to make the necessary upgrades.

            • hansman

              In 2009 Baseball America had the Cubs ranked 27th in the “Organizational Talent” rankings.

              In their Prospect Handbook they are ranked in the 16-25 group.

              Strip away the top 4 from our current farm system. Would it rank top 10?

              By 2011 the organization was a mess. Plain and simple. Had Hendry gutted the MLB team at the deadline similar to the past two years and you would have had 3 straight years of 90+ losses. We had an aging ballclub with a medicore farm system.

              It’s the nature of the beast when you go all-in. You are good for a couple of years and then you suck for a few years. Given the shifting landscape of free agent contracts we should see more opportunities to add impact talent that has more peak years left.

              • Kyle

                I seem to recall Baseball America had the Cubs in the top-10 before the Garza trade.

                Hard to square that with the “well, they were just doomed because they had gone all in.”

                • aaronb

                  Not to mention there was a multitude of moved we could have made to stay relevant during that time.

                  Lance Berkman, Aj Burnett, Melky Cabrera, and Edwin Jackson could have all been added if payroll had stayed even that offseason.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    The Cubs could not *stay* relevant, as they were not longer relevant after 2009. Adding guys such as you list would only have treaded water on a team that was fundamentally sub-0.500 from 2010 onwards. (People forget that the core performance of the 2011 Cubs actually was *worse* than that of the 2013 Cubs!)

                    A lot of people voiced the same opinion when the Cubs acquired Garza. Although it was pitched as a move to push the team back to competition, many thought that the Cubs had so many wheels falling off at once that they were much more than a solid starter away from being a contender. They were, it turned out, correct.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “The Cubs could not *stay* relevant, as they were not longer relevant after 2009″

                      That’s false & B.S. Doc.

                      If Ownership allowed the major league payroll to stay at a competitive level ($125MMish), the front office wouldn’t have let the roster go down hill from there.

                      “People forget that the core performance of the 2011 Cubs actually was *worse* than that of the 2013 Cubs!”

                      Yea, that’s what happens when payroll is mandated to shrink year by year.

                • roz
      • Patrick W.

        I’m not terribly surprised by it. I’m surprised by the construction. He probably should have led with the part about the team being very good in a few years. But I’m not surprised because, while I like Passan, I generally think his long-form writing suffers from a stream of consciousness that he can’t pull off in print the way a Joe Posnanski can. This article is an example of where he contradicts himself, which he does a LOT. He talks about how the Cubs were the Cubs and flexed their muscles and then he talks about “bad” contracts to Soriano and takes an unwarranted run at Edwin Jackson. He talks about how they spent like the big market team they were, but that spending didn’t lead to anything. Finally, he doesn’t really come to much of a solution, even though he pretends as if he has. This is Passan at his worst. Most of the time these tendencies are muted and ignorable. This time, it feels like he was challenged to take on a point of view and so he halfheartedly did so.

        • hansman

          ” Inefficient though it may be, free agency allowed the Cubs to flex financially, and next to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, they might’ve had the biggest guns in the gym.”

          This sentence is a great example. Free agency sucks, but the Cubs did a lot of it!!!!

          It reads a lot like an article that is just out there to drum up poor discussion.

          • Kyle

            Don’t mistake “free agency is inefficient” for “free agency sucks.”

            It is inefficient. It’s still better than doing nothing. There is no prize for most efficient roster.

            • Spoda17

              Spending money does not guarantee wins (the Tribune proved that). From a business perspective, why would you spend $3000 on a paint job for a car that doesn’t run while you wait a year for your new car to be delivered. That is just stupid economically. Whether you like Ricketts or not, he is a proven successful businessman, whether you like Theo or not (or disagree with their “plan”), he has a proven track record of winning… 2.5 world series.

              Not all moves workout, not all signings workout, not all trades workout, but simply dumb decisions are hard to overcome just to “say” [we] signed someone. There was no guy this off season I feel we HAD to have… not even Tanaka.

              • aaronb

                Which Rickett has proven to be a successful business man?

                • CubFan Paul

                  InCapital.

            • Wilburthefirst

              Not attacking your argument about the owner and 5 years of disaster, however if I am an owner, spending poorly and being inefficient in the FA Market is not better than doing nothing. I submit it is worse as I lose big money on payroll and still don’t fill the seats as my team keeps losing.

              • Kyle

                The Cubs are finding out *exactly* why that isn’t true.

                They’ve had a superficially efficient roster the last few seasons. What’s that gotten them? 800k in lost attendance, even more in no-shows, and some questions as to the value of their media rights.

                It’s a false sort of efficiency.

            • hansman

              “It’s still better than doing nothing.”

              This is the first offseason where they (assuming the Yankees and Dodgers are serious about the “WE WILL NOT BE OVERBID!!!!!!” lines) have done nothing.

              • YourResidentJag

                It’s interesting that you say that. You often counter people’s arguments with respect to FA by suggesting it could be worse. The Cubs could be the Astros. It seems to me that your current argument runs in contradiction to that argument.

                • hansman

                  I’m just stating this is the first off season you could say they’ve done nothing. That argument fits perfectly with my argument that if the Cubs were truly trying to tank season they would have done this level of spending the past two off seasons.

                  I guess you could make AN argument that this year we are matching the Astros of the past two seasons but I think we are still a tick above that. There is an outside chance we have a playoff team.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    I agree that the argument for this season but it’s something you suggest the Cubs shouldn’t have done in seasons past (namely be like the Astros for austerity’s sake). In contradiction to trying to go for it in seasons past, maybe they should have been more austere. According to you, that might make them (the Cubs) a playoff team with the outside chance this year. I actually see the Astros being that kind of a team before the Cubs.

              • Kyle

                It’s the second out of three where they have done what can be practically termed as nothing.

            • Jon

              “There is no prize for most efficient roster.”

              HA! Try telling that to some folks around here….

        • Kyle

          Not every writer is bound to be as blinkered by the vague promises of the future as Cubs fans have allowed themselves to be. The Cubs have been driven to awfulness under Ricketts, and that’s the story.

          • JB88

            Glad to see you back being the fresh urine in newly fallen snow …

          • Spoda17

            So before Ricketts they were better? Prepared to win a world series and be competitive for the foreseeable future? You obviously have not paid attention to the Cubs in the past.

            • aaronb

              Ummm….Yes

              They just came off a 97 win season, and had the best record in the NL. They had an excellent MLB roster and some interesting prospects in the pipeline.

              Nothing was guaranteed obviously. However a competent owner could have come in and continued the success, WHILE ALSO refurbishing the minor league, latin and Spring training facilities.

              The we had tank for 10 years to accomplish anything is simply a false narrative that people refuse to let die.

              • hansman

                Ricketts came in after the 2009 season when the wheels had started to loosen.

                • aaronb

                  His bid was selected Jan of 2009.

                  So I imagine our budget was effected by him every season post 2008.

                  • hansman

                    I am quite sure that by January 2009, the 2009 Cubs budget was already set in stone.

                    Although, I guess I could let your argument stand and then be able to claim that he allowed the three highest payrolls the Cubs have ever seen and the average payroll under his watch exceeds that of any other Cubs season, ever. Or that the amount he has spent on big league payroll matches the amount spent from 2002-2008 plus we have increased front office spending, amateur spending, facilities spending.

                    It all boils back to having a lackluster farm system that didn’t allow for an adequate and cheap restocking of the major league team. Oh, and having a front office that was operating as if it were 1980.

                    But man, the Ricketts tenure has just been a god-awful disaster the likes of which haven’t been seen since Noah.

                    • aaronb

                      I’m certainly not slamming Ricketts in an effort to tout how great the Tribune was… Mostly they sucked as owners as well.

                      My contention is more that we SHOULD expect better. Just as I didn’t buy the line of reasoning that “We should keep Quade, because the next manager might also suck”.

                      Ricketts shouldn’t get a pass for being Frank McCourt, because the Tribune was almost as bad.

                    • Spoda17

                      aaronb, your argument goes full circle from one comment to another. When Ricketts took over the wheels were coming off. I’m not saying the Cubs have never been competitive, my point is that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to say that the Cubs were on the path to wining when Ricketts took over and he has run them into the ground so to speak (as implied by your argument) is just plane incorrect.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “When Ricketts took over the wheels were coming off”

                      Is just plane incorrect.

                    • bbmoney

                      Da plane da plane.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Not sure I agree with the wheels coming off as much as the question of what should have been done to reinvest in the current MLB roster as of 2010. I’m a big believer that in the NL is not an offensive-driven league. So, even with a more efficient roster with a guy like Darvish leading the SP staff, the Cubs could have benefitted. Now, we’re not even sure that can get Tanaka to be their “Darvish.”

            • Kyle

              The decade pre-Ricketts was leaps and bounds better than the half-decade since. How could any Cubs fan not know this?

              • Jason P

                Ricketts big mistake was letting Hendry “go for it” 1 more year. That alone arguably pushed the timeline of the current rebuild back by about 2 years.

          • Patrick W.

            I’m not making a value judgement on the argument, I’m making a value judgement on the writing. I’m just saying that seeing this article from Passan doesn’t surprise me. Not because of the argument, but because he does such a poor job of presenting it. Just because it superficially meets your point of view doesn’t mean he presented it well.

        • mjhurdle

          “This time, it feels like he was challenged to take on a point of view and so he halfheartedly did so.”

          I thought the exact same thing when I read it.

    • hansman

      Which link is it? I tried them all and couldn’t find it.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      He’s just saying what a whole lot of people have been saying all along. I think some of the criticism has been misguided because they have made the FO the focus of their rath. I think Passan was very careful to put Jed and Theo in a good light. I can only wonder where we would be if Cuban had bought the team. Personally I think Ricketts should sell the team if his finances are so strained that has to continue along the path we have been on. I think that Passan just pulled the curtain back on the Wizard. People that have posted their displeasure with ownership here in the past have recieved a lot of blow back from ardent supporters of the plan. I am not against the plan. I just think there should be a minimum standard for fielding a MLB ball club. Now Houston has the top pick for the third year in a row. Is this the Ricketts business model?

      • When The Musics Over

        Yes, the Cubs more or less have employed the same plan as Houston. Houston has just been arguably better at employing it.

      • ChicagoJoe

        This article is crotchety crap.

        I think the only fair shot to take at ownership at this point is how the stadium renovation has been delayed. I know the rooftops are a pain in the ass, but they have to have a price and you should be able to match it. I don’t believe that banks, given the current revenue reports coming in at $8 billion, have any hesitation in financing the buyout of those buildings. Take on the debt and know in the long run that the ROI is going to be massive. Should have played hardball w/ Rahm as well from the start. I love Wrigley and all, but I love winning more. The city would have blinked with the right moves surrounding a potential move out of Wrigley. That is fair criticism.

        In terms of spending on the field, forget about these FAs who have been available the past few years. If price for Tanaka is near $175m, forget about that as well. Money will be better spent the next couple of years on complimentary pieces. We needed to break this down completely, suck for 4-5 years, and start over. Let the artist start with a completely clean canvass and let him try something that is new/original. I think in Theo’s heart of hearts he relishes this challenge everyday to find new ways to exploit inefficiences and find value where other fail to look while these other pieces (stadium, TV deal, prospects) come together. He is the master of spin and when he talks about wanting more payroll flexibility, yada, yada, yada you critics are being spun. You think he wants Shin Choo Choo at that money? How about Cano? The list goes on. After he is done spinning, he sits back at the end of the day and laughs, knowing that win or lose this year or next, he will get paid and that this is going to work.Sometimes you have to hold people’s feet to the fire for a while for the greater good. I’m young and I know that is an advantage in this situation b/c time is on my side. But in 5-7 years, I am going to look back at this era and say, “Yeah, it was worth it, we are the class of baseball,” w/ a big grin on my face.

  • When The Musics Over

    In general, at this point, the Tanaka fever has very likely surpassed his expected value. The numbers thrown around are of the record variety for a starting pitcher. One of whom is “expected” to be a #2/#3 starter. So many people looked at Ellsbury’s contract as a would be massive anchor for the Cubs in a few years, yet $175M for a Japanese pitcher who’s never thrown a pitch in the MLB (injury potential aside), and that’s money well spent? He could be an even larger anchor.

    • Kyle

      Very few starting pitchers hit free agency at this age. If they did, more would get contracts at this level or higher.

      • When The Musics Over

        Just because he’s 26 or so, doesn’t mean teams should justify a massive overpay to secure his services. I’d rather have an adequately priced 29/30 year old SP for 5 years than a 23M/year a 26 year old for 7 years.

  • Baseball_Writes

    I don’t know how much it’s been talked about, but I would watch out for the White Sox in this one. Tanaka fits very well into their plans for the short and long term. If Hahn/Williams can convince him they are on the right track (and Reinsdorf opens up the purse strings), they might have a real shot. I know it’s difficult to see them competing for someone coveted by the Haves of baseball, but they can be surprising at times.

    I think the Yankees are still the favorite, but the White Sox are my dark horse.

  • Fastball

    I would take Garza and Santanna along with Shark, Wood and EJax all day anyday of the week. We got some prospects coming in Milb so when we are really ready to compete if one of these guys goes down we should have a quality next man up in my opinion. 3 years from now Those 5 guys are all still under 35 and that is when most of their contracts would be up. I would hope if we hypithetically were able to sign Garza and Santanna that we would have enough offense to compete by middle of this season. Meaning Baez and Alcanterra are called up and Olt is doing a great job at 3B. I just have to believe that this team could be hanging around within possible striking distance if we had a really good rotation. Hell we would have been a lot better last year with our 1st half rotation if the bullpen didn’t suck so damned bad. Everytime one of the starters went 6+ and handed the ball to the pen he had to think to himself. Here is another loss on my record. Pitchers do care about their record and their ERA I don’t care what anybody says. They are measured on metrics but that doesn’t change how they think. So if the price is going to be $175MM for Tanaka that’s fine. If I’m Theo I start the bidding at $165MM and sit back and watch the Yankees and Dodgers spend a ton of money on a guy who hasn’t proven a thing at the MLB level. I would almost bet against Tanaka living out his contract from a performance standpoint. If you got 3 years out of him before he broke down you would be my partner at the craps table. I can take some satisfaction from running up the price on the guy and then walking away. My finger would be on the speed dial to Garza and Santanna two seconds after the bidding ended.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      I’m just spitball’in here, but I read somewhere that the bullpen cost us around 40 games last season? I assume that is a combination of blown saves and hold opportunities. To have gotten on the right side of those 50% of the time would hve made us a .500 ball club. So I guess what I am saying is that if we don’t trade Shark for prospects that aren’t ready to compete at the major league level, and add a decent stop gap guy like maybe Baker to the rotation, along with bounce back years from Castro and Rizzo and a much improved bullpen you never know what could happen. Personally I hope they don’t sign Tanaka. This thing is getting totally out of hand. Originally I though we were looking at a posting fee of 20 million plus maybe an average of 20 million a year. Now I hear talk of 175 million to get it done. Crazy!

      • hansman

        I’d like to see where you found that.

        Flipping 20 of those games would have put us at 86-76. Something doesn’t sound right there.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The starting rotation yielded an OPS of 0.709. So, if the bullpen had been as good as the starters, then the team net OPS still would have been -0.016, which projects to a 0.479 (77-78 win) team. That might sound like a lot: but the whole team had a -0.025 OPS, which means that had the relievers pitched as well as the starters then the Cubs would have been *expected* to win two more games, not 12 more games.

        Now, the Cubs did tie with the Tigers for the biggest negative difference between expected and observed victories last year (both teams should have won 10 more games). That suggests that exactly *when* the bullpen gave up runs hurt. However, that also is an ESPN effect: a lot of those blown leads would still have been safe *IF* the batters had performed better than they did.

  • Dave64

    If the Sox were to sign him they will have had a very impressive off season.

  • Fastball

    BW… I agree with you. Does Jerry want to win this year or not. The man may just start paying attention to the Sox instead of the Bulls.

  • CubsFanSaxMan

    Tanaka may want 175 million, but is anyone willing to pay that? I don’t think that you will see anybody offering more than 120+ million. Tanaka will than have to decide which contract to take. Bring on the perks!! What does Theo have to offer in that department?

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