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sad thoughtful catIf you aren’t interested in hashing out any of the particulars of how it came to be that the Chicago Cubs were very involved in the Masahiro Tanaka process, but didn’t actually sign him, you can stop reading here. As of today, I’m not too interested in it, myself. My pot is actually much more stirred by the rooftop news.

But, for posterity, the narrative surrounding what happened in this Tanaka process is going to start forming today, and people will want to look back on it – a month from now, a year from now, five years from now – and use it as the basis for arguments. So, while it’s fresh, it’s important to get some things down on paper.

First, and foremost: the Cubs were genuinely interested in landing Tanaka. There was no dog and pony show, and there was a serious effort made. Tanaka was a real fit for this organization, and they were willing to spend serious money to get him, even if there was reason to suspect it would be difficult to convince him to sign on.

Secondly … I’m just not sure they could ever have actually signed him. I expressed my reservations about the Cubs’ ability to land Tanaka from day one, based not on anything the Cubs could or couldn’t do, but based on a simple question: if I were Tanaka, what would I do? Coming to a foreign country, signing the primary contract of my MLB career, and having no personal ties to any particular team … I’d probably want to sign with the Yankees. They are a perennial contender playing on the biggest stage in the world. They always spend the money necessary to field a competitive team, and they have the most storied history in baseball. Hate ‘em all you want, but if you were in Tanaka’s shoes, you, too, would feel the pull.

According to the New York Daily news, Tanaka did feel that pull, and truly wanted to be a Yankee.

Throw in the Yankees’ desperate need for pitching and unlimited resources, and this was always an easy call. So why were we led to believe the Cubs had a legitimate shot? Well, because, as reports indicated, they probably did “lead” – in terms of the bidding – for a stretch this past week. But as I wrote a few days ago:

It’s impossible to sort fact from fiction in anything related to Tanaka, but I think it’s interesting to consider how it all could be playing out behind the scenes if the things that we believe to be true are actually true. Imagine that the Cubs are the high bidder, primarily because they know they have to be the high bidder to have any chance of overcoming the geographical and competitive lures of Los Angeles and New York. Until you’re told that Tanaka is actually going to accept the Cubs’ deal, there is no incentive for you – the Yankees or the Dodgers – to match the Cubs’ offer. They can rely on the geography/competitive stuff to keep their offer down until the last minute when they know precisely how high they have to come to get a deal done. So, in that way, it makes sense that the Cubs would be the “leader” in the bidding, maybe right up until a deal has to be completed in a couple days. Then, the preferred team(s) swoop(s) in, ups their offer just enough, and closes on Tanaka (after his agent returns to the Cubs, explaining that they can get the money they need from a preferred team, and the only way the Cubs can get him now is if they make an obscene, reckless offer). It’s not hard to imagine things playing out this way, as unhappy as it may make you.

It gives me absolutely no pleasure to have been right, but it looks like that’s exactly what happened. The Yankees waited things out, probably got a sense that Tanaka really wanted to join the Yankees, and upped their offer just enough to get him at the last minute over the Cubs (who appear to have been the runner up). As Joel Sherman reports, the Yankees were at six years for some time now, but were told the deal wasn’t getting done without going to seven years. The New York Times reports that the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs were indeed the final three teams for Tanaka, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he was told, although the Yankees’ final offer was the highest, the others weren’t far off.

To me, that suggests that the reports of the Cubs being at seven years were accurate*, and the Yankees knew all along what they were going to need to do to get Tanaka. The Cubs pushed them to that edge, and the Yankees stepped up.

*We can play some word games with what the Cubs’ “offer” was, but what matters is how high they were willing to go. All indications this afternoon are that the Cubs were willing to get up into that 7-year, $150 million (plus posting fee) range, if it would get the deal done. Since it became apparent at some point that Tanaka wanted the Yankees and the Yankees wanted Tanaka, maybe the Cubs never actually reached that level. You could say that, therefore, the Cubs didn’t have the money to get Tanaka, but only because they couldn’t blow the Yankees’ enormous offer of the water (because of course they couldn’t (and shouldn’t)). That’s really just a matter of semantics. The Cubs were willing to make an enormous offer, but, unless they went absolutely insane with an offer, they still weren’t going to get him.

You can call that the Cubs getting Sanchez’d again – and maybe they did – but that doesn’t mean the Cubs did anything wrong here. They targeted a guy they really wanted. They saved their ammo to get him (limited ammo that, given the state of the organization, they weren’t inclined to spend on any of the free agents who’ve already signed anyway). I’ve got to believe they were led to understand they had a real shot at him. Given the fact that, at the last moment, the Yankees came up to slightly exceed the Cubs’ offer, it appears obvious that the Yankees, for one, believed Tanaka would really consider going to the Cubs.

So, what’s the “story” of the Tanaka pursuit, as we contextualize it down the road and re-tell the story of the Cubs’ progress as an organization? Is it that tanking for several seasons kills your chances of signing star players, even when you’re willing to pay? I’m not so sure I buy that in this particular context, given Tanaka’s apparently particularized desire to go to the Yankees (and or desire to be on one of the coasts). And, hell, the Mariners got Robinson Cano, after all. If you spend the money, they will come.

Is the story that the Cubs couldn’t afford the one guy they targeted? Again, I’m not so sure it is, given that it doesn’t sound like the Cubs were going to be able to sign Tanaka absent one of those instant-regret kinds of contracts. By most accounts, the money was there to commit $150+ million to Tanaka, which has to be taken as a positive signal going forward. If the Cubs don’t sign any legitimate, big money free agents next offseason? Well, then this is the part of the Tanaka narrative we can revisit and consider anew. For now, it looks like money wasn’t so much of the issue as the “fit.” Tanaka is a person, you know. He has a say in this.

So … I don’t have much of an over-arching story to sum this all up. The Cubs don’t make moves – or, well, try to make moves – in a vacuum. Other teams want these players, too, and sometimes shit just happens.

I guess I’d call this a “To Be Continued” kind of thing. The Cubs weren’t aiming, with their offseason, to build a contender in 2014. That much is clear. Not getting Tanaka doesn’t really do any harm, therefore, to the 2014 team. Not getting him, however, does a great deal of harm to the possibility of being competitive in 2015, absent a series of moves made within the next 15 months to make up for that lost value (trades for near-term impact pieces, free agent signings, etc.). In theory, the Cubs should have the money and the prospect assets (together with, hopefully, a couple prospect breakouts) to turn the corner in 2015.

I hate that 2014 is being punted, but it became the right approach a long time ago for a variety of reasons. When I think about the Cubs missing out on Tanaka at this time next year, though, I want to think about how it all worked out in the end, because the organization still lined itself up for a competitive run, starting in 2015.

Then this entire Tanaka story, and the entire narrative we build around it over the coming weeks and months, becomes little more than something talked about in passing during meaningful September Cubs game in the years to come.

  • YourResidentJag

    In the interest of forgetting about Tanaka, I give you video of Cubs prospect Eloy Jiminez: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foP1xu5X1pM

    • ChrisFChi

      That was refreshing. Thank you.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Good stuff

    • YourResidentJag

      It’s cool when you slow down the speed of the video.

    • Jason P

      Wow, Jimenez’ legs are looong. Longer strides could help him retain some speed even as he grows.

    • SenorGato

      That is a large person. 5-6 years away.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Very large, but I’m not so sure about the 5 to 6 years part.

        That video is a year old, and that is already a nice looking swing for a teenager. I’ll hold judgement until he gets some regular time playing in the states (which, per some reports, could be this year), but I’d not be surprised if his timetable read something closer to 4 years than 6.

    • fortyonenorth

      Cool–and right next to a full length documentary on Miguel Sano. Who knew?

  • Diehardthefirst

    Too late- his former team beat Cubs to him

    • gocatsgo2003

      Oh no! We didn’t sign a free agent outfielder who hasn’t played in the Majors since 2011! What are we going to do?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • Abe Froman

    Tanaka:
    Opt out after four year clause? Total deal breaker and not enough attention from either end of the FO hate/love spectrum. The Cubs may be your/my team, but there are like at least like six or something other teams trying to get these guys (insert fact check).

    Parallel Fronts:
    Like the fantastical virgin whore this proves to be more unicorn than horse with ice cream cone taped to forehead. Half, half, yes half of Cubs top ten prospects would vanish (Bryant, Almora, Johnson, Viscaino, and even Solver(money would likely be diverted to MLB squad)). Not to mention so many other prospects, leaving the Cubs with parallel fronts 1) a mediocre MLB team and 2) a mediocre farm system. The new CBA rewards bad teams. Yes losing sucks, but it also does not.

    This Year:
    Tank again. I know this makes many of you mad, and I really admire your love and investment in the Cubs, so hate this idea, please do, that’s cool. At the end of the season we can have the best farm system in baseball with a payroll that is soon to be flooded with TV deal cash, with a wave of very real prospect talent starting with Baez.

  • N.J. Riv

    So what’s next? Garza, Hammel, Maholm, Ubaldo or pass?

    • YourResidentJag

      Bruce Chen?

    • Jason P

      If the meds aren’t a serious concern, then I don’t see the problem with Garza.

      • Kyle

        He’s had elbow problems three years in a row. The meds have to be a serious concern.

  • Kyle

    Quite simply, I am annoyed because The Plan just isn’t good enough to get the sort of results promised.

    Is the current front office better than Jim Hendry? Sure.
    Are they at least better than the average MLB front office? I’ll go with it.

    Are they good enough to run off the kind of success that makes up for 3, 4, 5, however many losing seasons at the front end? I don’t see it. Not in this division. Our long-term future isn’t brighter than the Pirates or Cardinals, and it’s not that much better than the Reds.

    The rebuilding will eventually lead to some amount of success. They’ll have some winning seasons and they’ll make the playoffs. But consistently, year after year? It’s possible, but I don’t see any reason to bet on it. They’ve got a great farm system. Big whoop. The Cardinals and Pirates have pretty good farm systems too *and* more young MLB talent than we do. And they’re run by pretty smart teams too. And the Reds aren’t an organization that can be counted out, either.

    No. 2 on the prospect lists in recent years

    2006 – Dodgers. Missed the playoffs four of the next 7 seasons.
    2007 and 08 – Red Sox. Missed the playoffs three of the next 6 seasons.
    2009 – Marlins. Have not made playoffs since.

    Where we stand is a good foundation, I guess, if you believe in the bouncebacks on the MLB roster. It is not a guaranteed ticket to the sort of success that justifies the losing seasons we’ve locked in at the beginning.

    In order to convert that foundation to real, lasting success, the front office is just plain going to have to be better than they’ve been to date. They’re going to have to find ways to improve the team’s long-term future *every* offseason, no passing entirely. They can’t have 2013 Castros on their developmental ledger. They’re going to have to show that they can stop racking up perfectly understandable, not-their-fault participation ribbons and start doing things that other teams can’t, because that’s how you separate yourself.

    Otherwise, we’re looking at missing the playoffs five straight years to start out, then making it five out of 10 or something like that. Congratulations, you’re average.

    • DrReiCow

      “Are they good enough to run off the kind of success that makes up for 3, 4, 5, however many losing seasons at the front end?”

      How many bad years would you endure for JUST ONE Cub Championship?

      Moo.

      • Kyle

        You can’t control winning championships. All you can do is make it to the playoffs regularly and hope for the best.

        Making the playoffs 9 years in a row and never winning it all would be disappointing, but nothing more they could do.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Pfft. Everyone knows if you have enough scrappy players who play the game the right way, hit in the clutch, and have the will to win, you’ll win all the championships.

          Just ask the Diamondbacks.

        • BT

          How would signing mid level free agents to make the team more competitive from year to year in any way shape or form ensure more chances at World Series? If the Cardinals and Pirates are better at the Major League level, and have good minor league squads, how is your “dual fronts” strategy better than concentrating on the minors first, then building the major league squad once that starts to turn out some talent? Are you espousing the “maybe we’ll get lucky” path to the playoffs?

          • MattM

            FIrst off it’s not his “dual fronts” strategy it’s Theo Epsteins “dual fronts” strategy. In fact he went on and on about how every season is sacred and they take it seriously etc. In this case how is going into the year with Rizzo as your main offensive threat and maybe Castro taking the season seriously? Look up the first conference he says it a lot if you don’t believe anyone.

            This is obviously not dual fronts.

            • BT

              I wasn’t talking to you and you didn’t answer the question, but thanks for checking in.

              • hansman

                Eh…Matty has only one thing he really ever wants to talk about. He’d make a helluva campaigning politician.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              He didn’t go on and on about every season being sacred: he said that once as a throw away line in the Q&A session. Again, what Epstein did go on and on about is that the team was years away from being competitive and had to be redone from scratch.

              Hansman is right: much like a politician, you take one throw away line and choose to ignore 19 scripted lines stating the contrary.

              • hansman

                Here are some snippets from Brett’s recap:

                “I get the sense that Epstein clearly recognizes a short-term turnaround is not going to be possible, and he’s setting us up for that expectation: it will be a process.”

                “He’s really hammering the “foundation for sustained success” theme.”

                “Pedro Gomez (“Hey, Pedro”) asks about the difference between the Red Sox roster when he took over and the Cubs’ roster now. Epstein says there’s a gap between where we are and where we want to be (glad he sees it, and is honest).”

                “There will be plenty of resources, he says, but those resources could go to the draft, amateur scouting, etc., not just player payroll. Good to know.”

                and then this line, which has been blown up as if Theo only talked about it:

                “Jon Greenberg asks the rebuilding question. Epstein says the plan is to build a foundation, but working on the Major League club is a parallel process. Every season is an opportunity to win. “It’s sacred.” The fans deserve a chance to win every year. Interesting.”

                So, “We aren’t going to abandon the MLB team, but there are other things that will ensure I have a lasting and profound legacy on the Cubs. So that, 5 years after I leave, you can point out to folks that half the roster are guys I brought in and those guys are putting up nice seasons.” (basically, what you can do with Boston right now)

              • Bill

                Actually Theo is the politician. He gives everyone a little bit of what they want to hear. Call it a throwaway line if you like he talked about “every season is sacred” and “parallel fronts”. In other words Theo speaks out of both sides of his mouth, like every politician does. I tend to take everything Theo says with a grain of salt. He’s the chief salesman. He selling his “plan” which really is an excuse for putting a crappy product on the field. In the meantime the timeline for success keeps getting pushed out to the right. As Kyle correctly pointed out, the Cubs farm system isn’t superior to the Cardinals and Pirates, yet the major league talent is greatly inferior.

                Why do people think once the “plan” is finalized we will have sustained success? Is the Cardinals FO all of a sudden going to turn terrible. Ditto for Pitt and Cincy? The “plan” isn’t enough. Theo better be doing his job a helluva lot better than he has been or it’s going to be playoffs once in a while, which really doesn’t justify the tank, tank, tank, that we’ve seen the past 2, going on 3 years.

                A payroll of under $80M for a market the size of Chi is embarrassing.

                • hansman

                  What I guess I have missed out on were teams like the cardinals, pirates and reds buying all of this great free agent talent and dropping Benjamins like there was no yesterday.

                  Yes, they are all really good right now but unless you think they are all going to have sustained success through the minors (while supplementing that talent with mid level free agents and trades) (something many folks on here believe the Cubs will never be able to do) for the rest of eternity, they will become bad again. Thankfully, the Cubs will be able to use their revenue advantage to keep their good prospects and trade for the players that get to expensive for other teams.

                  • Kyle

                    Revenue advantages mean less every year. That’s the window we missed in Epstein’s early years is irretrievable.

                    So I guess now the plan is to wait until all the good teams in our division have their windows closed before we can have sustained success? That’s gonna be awhile.

                  • Edwin

                    “Revenue Advantage” isn’t just about keeping good players and trading for expensive players from other teams. It’s about being willing to outbid other teams for players, even if it results in an overpay. So far the Cubs have not been willing to do that. Maybe they’ve had good reasons for not doing it so far, and it doesn’t mean they won’t start outbidding teams in the future. But if they’re only willing to pay X for a free agent, they’ll keep losing out to teams that are willing to pay X+1.

              • CubFan Paul

                “you take one throw away line and choose to ignore 19 scripted lines stating the contrary”

                If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor. period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. period.

              • MattM

                Doc you AMAZE me! You argued with me and a bunch of other people last month saying that Epstein never even said what he said. Now you at least admit he did say it but that it’s not what he “mean.”

                Also, it was NOT in a Q&A session it was in his MAIN speech after he had been announced. So if you also saw it in a Q&A session that means he said it more than once. If someone says something more than once how then is it a “throw away” line like you say?

                BTW how is this MAJOR LEAGUE season being taken seriously? We are actually worse now on paper than the team that lost 96 games last year. If we lose Szmardjia we are even worse! When you lose your best pitcher for prospects that are 2-3 years away like Epstein like to trade for….what does that do to the timeline? Push it back even further?

                Come on guys just cut out one statement I’ve made and use only that. You all seem to do that to support your own points. I can tell you certainly that 100 and 96 loses is not taking seasons seriously and is laughable. But now they aren’t even trying to make an illusion…they are just saying they will be bad at the beginning of years. The crappiness of this team will then allow them to get rid of Szmardjia making us even worse….. How is that taking seasons seriously?

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  One. Throw-Away. Line.

                  Versus dozens of variants of “this will not be quick.”

                  Here is the simple math. One way of assessing how far a team is away from contending again is that is that you can expect to upgrade 1-2 key parts (plus position players or plus starters) with luck, money, etc. It’s not quite that simple, even: adding a plus bat at SS or C is much harder to do than adding a plus bat at LF or 1B, for example. Of course, sometimes a team upgrades at 3 or even 4 in one year: but that’s rare, and much less common than teams failing to upgrade any key position. (Think in terms of a Poisson distribution with l=1.5 and you’ll have the right idea.)

                  After 2011, the Cubs basically needed to upgrade every position but SS and (maybe) LF, and they needed to upgrade at least 3 (and possibly 4) spots in the rotation.

                  That is at least 10 upgrades. Now, the Cubs did not need all of them to compete, but realistically, they needed 7-8 upgrades to do so. That’s why people said that the Cubs were at least 5 years away from being competitive after 2011: remember, by the time you got those 7 upgrades, chances are that one of the upgrades was going to need replacing, too.

                  The farm system offered little if any immediate help, and it offered little that could be used in trades. The FA market offered a lot of guys who fit the “he’ll be an upgrade now, but by the time you make Upgrade #5, you’ll need to upgrade him.”

                  And that is why Theo repeated over and over again in his *prepared* words the phrases that you just cannot seem to hear: this was going to be a long, slow process. Yet you cling to one off-the-cuff line (that he later corrected) and insist somehow that this was Theo’s message all along.

                  • MattM

                    DOC Watch the CONFERENCE AGAIN! You continue to IGNORE FACTS! The Dual Fronts line as well as every season is sacred WAS IN THE PREPARED SPEACH.

                    You know you can admit that you were wrong and he said it. Now go back and admit that you are wrong again as to when he said it. You understand numbers but can’t understand the press conference he had as well as the context? It makes no sense unless you haven’t seen it yourself. Look it up on Youtube and actually watch it.

          • Kyle

            More chances = better chance of succeeding. Math 101.

  • Senor Cub

    I was never enamored with Tanaka just like I would not be with any other international player. There are too many “if’s” for an international player. The Cubs currently have two such players in the system and still don’t know how good they will or will not in Soler and Vizcaino. Soler was not cheap and could end up being a flop just like Tanaka. I am certain Tanaka made sense for most teams at a certain price. I am glad the Cubs jacked up the price on Tanaka and the Yankees ended up signing him for big money. The Yankees and Dodgers can make those kinds of mistakes but other clubs like the Cubs CANNOT miss on a guy they are paying $150M plus!!! An opt out at 4yrs is just plain stupid!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The Cubs have a whole lot more than two international players in their farm system.

      They have more than two on their major league roster, for that matter.

      • jp3

        To your point of the Cubs can’t afford to swing and miss for $175 mill on one player but it’s going to sting if look back and he’s another Darvish. We’ll wish we had paid it even with the opt out clause. Speaking of, that would’ve been interesting if he’d have signed with the Cubs and got an opt out clause after 2 or 3 years that he could pull the trigger on if we were still in the toilet and didn’t stay true to our word of being competitive soon.

    • TK

      How can you declare Tanaka a flop? Please support that statement.

  • Napercal

    Interesting analysis on Baseball Prospectus on Tanaka. They see him as 30 to 35th projected best starter with a ton of innings already logged. Makes me glad Cubs didn’t overpay to get him. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22635

  • http://bleachernation 29bigcat

    Whew…im glad we didnt go that high on him.for that wecouldsign garza an another..an have change left.

  • brainiac

    “the plan” – doing the most counterproductive things to the mlb squad as a way to make the squad better. it’s magic, until the rabbit falls out of the hat.

    • Chef Brian

      Brainiac is a sarcastic moniker, isn’t it? I think you are one of Jon’s alter egos.

  • Ron Bar

    Who Gives a Shit. In all likely hood tanaka won’t be worth the cost. Now the cubs can turn to Proven Big League Gas! Like David Price!

  • Ron Bar

    Trade whoever for Stanton and whoever for price before all the prospects [stink]. The cubs blow forever. I’m starting to feel like the disgruntled fan in major leagues.

    [Ed. – Whoa, clean it up, dude. A little language is ok every now and again where appropriate, but that kind of thing is never OK.]

  • Ron Bar

    A lot of baseball fans want to criticize the Marlins Management but at least they have the balls to push all in. They traded for all those fucks and when it didn’t work they traded out of those deals. But they put the team out their to compete. The cubs might loose to their own triple a team.

    • CubFan Paul

      Heh. There’s a joke in there

  • TK

    The thing that keeps bugging me about this Tanaka stuff is all the writers declaring that the cubs lost out due to their current non-competitive status. NYY is just as likely to lose 80 – 85 games this year as the Cubs. I wish folks would stop saying he chose NYY bc Cubs are bad. Thats not it. He’s not stupid. Nor is his agent. They get just how ugly NYY’s 2014 is likely to be. Winning now was NOT a heavy factor in his decision. If it were, he’d have signed with a better team than NYY.

    I propose that his decision was more about 1. STAR power . . . Jeter (et al), “Yankee Stadium”, the A-Rod situation, NY in general; 2. His wife – NY is much better for her than Chicago; 3. To a lesser degree, money; and 4. Other Japanese players on the team.

    • frank

      TK–I agree. I think that NY is the bigger stage, and that’s what he and his wife wanted. The stuff about him liking a challenge and wanting to be “the man” could just as well happen with a not very good NYY team, and on a bigger stage to boot.

      • CubFanBob

        I read earlier he went to Yankee stadium at the age of 18 and always dreamed of being a Yankee.

    • Brocktoon

      He may have been turned off by the Cubs making a joke of an offer as well.

  • TK

    So then, whats the situation with Kenta Maeda?

  • SouthFloridaCubsFan

    Well, it turns out that this is again the small story again. Cubs outbid for a player they “want/need.” After hearing the Cubs bid it sure appears that we have another dog and pony show on our hands. I have no inside sources and in no way claim to be in with anyone but I sure as hell knew 6 years at $120 wasn’t going to get it done. Everyone was reporting that he wanted a 7th year. This was not a case of Tanaka wanting to go anywhere it was about what it is always about MONEY.

    This organization is a joke. I’m so tried of the Cubs being the laughing stock of the league. I have always hated the Yankees my whole life but I think after 30 years of being a Cubs fan it was never about the Yankees buying championships, the hate was the Cubs not buying Championships.

    Everyone can continue down this path blindly following Ricketts to nowhere but I’m done. The Cubs won’t get good because they aren’t willing to spend the money. This garage about spending once the kids come is a joke. There will be no Darvish, Sanchez, or Tanaka when those “can’t miss savors” arrive at Wrigley. Anyone that believes we can just flip a switch one day and start spending money and get good is a joke. It will be years before we have a real chance to even compete for a wild card.

    • cms0101

      Do we know the Cubs offer capped out at 6yrs/$120mil? I’ve seen several reports throwing out various figures. Could it be Epstein balked at the full no-trade clause instead? Or maybe it was the 4th year opt-out? I hate that the Yankees signed him away from the Cubs, but it’s not like the Cubs went in cheaply. We as Cubs fans can’t have it both ways. All the complaints about Hendry giving guys no-trade clauses ring in my head like it was just yesterday (even though some of that was just not true, thanks to the 10/5 rule). We’ll never know the truth behind the negotiations, but I’m tired of this “Cubs are cheap” narrative. The Tribune was cheap. The payroll has come down, no question about that. They allowed bad contracts to roll off and didn’t burden the payroll with signing more. Falling in 2nd/3rd, or top 5 when it comes to offering players money is not a consolation prize. But there is a bigger picture. When in Cubs history were they ever even in the conversation on the best free agents or best international free agents? I’m NOT taking consolation in that, but it does provide a pattern that leads me to believe that the money is there for the right players and they won’t hesitate to use it. It’s not like they were outbid by the Atlanta Braves for Greg Maddux here. They NY Yankees went out and bid a great deal of money, and offered a full no trade clause and early player opt-out to sign a pitcher that isn’t thought to be better than Yu Darvish. The Yankees have ruined the offseason for me with keeping Girardi and now signing Tanaka. But now is not the time to give up on this team. The upcoming prospects are not “saviors”, but there is clear talent about to bubble to the surface from the minor leagues. Epstein has 2 years left on his deal after this season. I’m going to stick around to see what happens next. Maybe I’ll be going to more Kane County Cougars games than Cubs games for a little while, but I’ll be watching/waiting/hoping for the turn-around real soon.

    • Noah_I

      People said the exact same thing before the 2007 season, when the Cubs went out and were among the biggest free agent spenders in baseball.

  • Ron Bar

    We’ll spoken cms. I would like to

  • Ron Bar

    Have at least 1 stud on the team and by stud I mean stud. Like a 20 game winner or a guy like fielder who has 40 hr in that bat.

  • Ron Bar

    I do however understand the situation and agree w the cubs plan. Also Bryant and Soler are big league hitters for real. Feel like we got a Jeff Bagwell in Bryant. Soler just pummels the ball. Prospects aside It’s downright garbage to not go after price or stanton while the gettings good. They missed on fielder. That guy would have wrecked shop at wrigley.

  • Ron Bar

    If world class ball players are available world class ball players are needed.

  • Ron Bar

    I know you can’t mortgage the future but I’m talking 1 or 2 or Castro. Rizzo and a prospect. Get me a David Price or A Mike Stanton. Or Both. Slight chance that any of those prospects turn into either one of those players. May happen but 1/5 chance would be very generous. Fact is teams that win pay to win. When are we going to stop coddling the cubs.

  • Ron Bar

    I think the marlins are dumb enough to give up mike for shark and mike olt and a scrub

    • Jon

      If the Marlins trade Stanton(because he’s going to get too expensive) why in the world would they do it for Shark, who likewise is about to become expensive?

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      The Marlins baseball execs are actually very good at what they do, so no, they will not be trading Stanton for anything that doesn’t include Baez

      • DarthHater

        Given Stanton’s health history, I’d wait and see what we have in Baez, for now.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          O I agree, he’s not going anywhere, just saying that’s what the Marlins would insist on if they traded Stanton. Same to be said with the Rays in any David Price deal

  • Ron Bar

    Also Nate Scheirholtz. Trade him. That fruit is ripe my friend. Sell high Theo.

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  • DarthHater
    • Jon

      “Their projected 2014 roster figures to wind up at between $62-$65 million, and the $13 million they will be paying Alfonso Soriano to play for the Yankees is $2 million more than the salary of their highest-paid player, Edwin Jackson.”

      A 65 million “functional” payroll. We are basically the Astros.

      • willis

        Oh boy, you done did it now Darth.

        • DarthHater

          I exchanged my kool aid cup for a meatball sandwich! :-D

          • willis

            Haha, I’m glad for you. It takes awhile, but everyone will eventually go meatball :)

            • willis

              I will say, please forgive me BN for spewing any positive bullshit last weekend about how the Tanaka saga actually made me feel better about the organization financially and its owner. I got wooly for a minute and I was wrong. Now back to hating Ricketts and the way the organization is being run.

      • FFP

        [img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8509/8580800135_4d7ac5e342.jpg[/img]
        Our mascot is tougher.

        • DarthHater

          They should have stuck with Junction Jack:

          [img]http://binaryapi.ap.org/7d92288374ea43fd8e9dd01198bf2acf/940x.jpg[/img]

    • jp3

      We’re terrible… I’m starting to think Baez or someone like him will get an opportunity to make the big club given they have a fantastic spring and I’ll tell you why. The FO isn’t giving too many reasons to show up to the ballpark these days, nobody is sprinting to the ballpark to watch the potential “flippable assets” perform.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Not a chance, starting him in the big leagues this year could cost them upwards of 10-15 million dollars in the long run

        • jp3

          I don’t think it’s what they want to do but in all fairness they were supposedly ready to spend $155 million on someone that’s never thrown a pitch in the Majors so $10 million isn’t that big a deal, or maybe it is I guess… I think Baez situation is a classy one, if he’s that good I’d hope they’d jump on an extension that would wipe out some of those arbitration years anyway much like Castro.

          • willis

            Dude, with a 65 million payroll and a penny pinching owner…yeah it’s a big deal. I don’t disagree with you on if he has an outstanding Spring, could he be ready. But this ownership will squeeze every last penny out of this dude they can before they allow him to come to the majors. Who gives a shit about winning, it’s about spending the least amount of money.

            • jp3

              This regime should have bought and ran the Royals if they wanted to squeeze every nickel.

              • willis

                Yep…but they bought the cubs, who they are running like a small market team. And we all now will suffer for a long, long time.

            • ari gold

              How do we know they legally can’t spend above a certain amount due to the complex purchase agreement? This may be the case no matter who the owner was.

  • amskustoms

    I live in Florida part of the year and Wisconsin part of the year. I go to Cubs games every year in Chicago and Milwaukee. Where my frustration comes in is the the ticket prices are 3rd in the game and the team is very bad. I wish Theo would have to answer the question of how many games he thinks this team can win and why i should spend that kind of money to see this product. The sad truth is Castro has regressed every year, Rizzo took a huge step backwards, Shark has a huge ERA and WHIP. I want to support this team and do every year but the frustration is growing. Prospects are great and needed for success but i dont care if the Iowa Cubs win a title…. Theo just has a way of politician talk that makes me nervous. he is making a fortune doing what he does, i wonder if he would sign a contract that says he will get paid in bonuses for future winnings, does he believe in his plan that much. This is a very long time of bad baseball. I love baseball and have loved the Cubs my whole life i am hoping to see some of the players at the major league level this year, or the ticket prices resemble the payroll.

    • jp3

      To your point I live out of state and over almost a decade I went to a couple cubs games every summer but stopped a couple years ago. It’s not about being a bandwagon fan it’s just that if they aren’t going to try and win I’m not spending hard earned money trying to make the trek to watch the worst 1-8 lineup in baseball. I believe I read where roughly a third of the cubs fans attending games at home are out of town. People that live nowhere close to Chicago aren’t paying hundreds of dollars for them to watch a hot steaming pile of dung, at some point when does that factor in to their thought process on the quality of the product they’re presenting?

  • Jon

    He was asked this question at the convention directly and his answer was two fold

    1) He’d never tell you how to spend your disposable income.

    2)He thinks its special privilege to support the team now(“on the ground level”), before they are winning. AKA, “Don’t be a bandwagon fan”

    • JB88

      I don’t think his comment was toward being a bandwagon fan.

      I think it was more about the idea that he understood that fans wanted the Cubs to spend on FAs, but that there was also some joy to be derived from watching a young team come together.

  • amskustoms

    At 39 and a lifelong fan who has traveled to see the Cubs play in many cities i dont think i could be described as bandwagon fan. I am lucky enough to have a small bit of disposable income and like to spend it watching baseball. I think i may see things from a different angle because of my industry. I am in the car racing industry, we have to put our business plan on the line every year and if it fails i take a huge hit to the wallet. I always have things in development, years out at times, but i still have to win some to keep the people who pay me happy. It is a two front plan, like what the Cubs were going to be doing. I am just hoping we get to see a few of these players sooner rather than later.

    • jp3

      Amskustomes I definitely wasn’t insinuating anything with you, I’m simply saying that I personally am not spending any of my extra cash on them if they don’t care about what their product looks like. I’ll gladly sit at home and watch them on the tv(as long as wgn still carries them) but I’m not purchasing mlb ticket or anything else like that anymore when we’re not even trying. If that makes me a bandwagon fan then so be it.

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  • Justin

    If the money was equal. Like equal.. I would choose the team that hasn’t won in over 100 years. And it’s not even close. I would be way cooler if i brought the Cubs a championship, than if i helped the Yanks do what they have done a lot over my lifetime….

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