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lukewarm stoveA bit from the slowing rumor mill to round out your week …

  • The Mariners finally made a significant follow-up move to the Robinson Cano signing, inking closer Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14 million deal. They’re also making progress on signing Nelson Cruz (who costs them only a compensatory round pick, since they already lost their first for signing Cano). I don’t see it being enough to make a paper competitor out of the Mariners, but it’ll be an interesting story to follow. The rotation is still severely lacking, and, if they aren’t going to pick up a starter in free agency, who knows? Maybe adding a couple more pieces like Rodney and Cruz compels them to try and make a trade for someone like David Price or Jeff Samardzija.
  • Jim Bowden says Bronson Arroyo is going to wind up with the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks, and Joel Sherman says his asking price is down to two years and $22 million. In this market, that’s really not a bad deal for Arroyo, who offers no upside, but limited downside as a reliable back-end starter. If Bowden is right that the Orioles are out, you wonder where they’re going to find their long-awaited pitcher. A.J. Burnett, right? … well …
  • Roch Kubatko says the sense is that Burnett really wants to say in the NL. So the pitcher for the Orioles could be Ubaldo Jimenez or Suk-Min Yoon (or Arroyo).
  • Speaking of Yoon, Paul Sullivan offers a pessimistic take on the chance the Korean righty winds up with the Cubs, despite the fact that the team scouted him in person this week. The reason is what you’d expect: the price tag on Yoon is probably going to be too high for the Cubs. Keep in mind what I said earlier in the week: even if the Cubs like Yoon as an “asset accumulation” piece (he’s just 27) and value him appropriately in that regard, other teams that still need starting pitching for 2014 have an extra incentive to get Yoon right now. In other words, another team might appropriately value Yoon at $8 million per year over two years (he’s worth that much to their team given their expected competitiveness), while the Cubs value him at just $5 million per year over two years.
  • At the outset of the offseason, I started openly wondering at what point the pendulum of young players signing extensions swings back toward them preferring to hold out for free agency, given the exploding free agent salaries across baseball. Dave Cameron takes on a similar topic when discussing the eight-year, $135 million extension the Braves just gave Freddie Freeman – the angle there is not so much the pendulum of choices swinging, but instead the pendulum of teams having to pay WAY more to lock these guys up. So maybe both the teams and the players will start viewing free agency as a more attractive option once again in the next few years.
  • Any interest in taking a flyer on Brett Wallace? The Astros just DFA’d the 27-year-old to make room for Jerome Williams, and he could still have some upside (young, former top 50 prospect, always crushed in the minors). The problem is that he pretty much only plays first base at this point (though he’s played a little third base in the minors the last few years), he bats lefty, and he’s out of options. Seems like the kind of guy the Cubs would like to have around (for the upside), but I’m not sure I see a reasonable fit.
  • More on the Yankees’ rumored plan to destroy the international market this year.
  • Kyle

    No complaints about missing out on Yoon. No interest in paying market prices for pitchers with significant arm problems in their recent history.

    • hansman

      Given payroll, I wouldn’t mind a 2/$16M Yoon.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        I’d rather pocket the $16 million and add that to next yearss expenditures, though there would be no evidence they really did that anyway.

  • brainiac

    they’ve done a great job of following “the plan” this offseason. the team looks historically and horrifically bad for 2014. but this guy definitely isn’t the answer.

    • When The Musics Over

      Isn’t he, best case, just another back of the rotation flyer candidate? Don’t most teams have a number of equivalent guys, at much cheaper rates, already floating around the organization.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Is any singular move “the answer”?

      Unless, of course, the question is, “does the move make the organization incrementally – in even the smallest way – better, or offer the chance of making the organization better, without harming the organization in any meaningful way?”

      • brainiac

        i can’t imagine even one situation in which we add sustainable talent that helps the team as downside. that’s just the PR narrative of the plan at play. they’ll either contribute or be tradeable. i do detest the latter category as a valuation of quality. if you sign a guy to work, build a cohesive team center. don’t continuously devalue their contributions.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I was actually just pooping on the idea that any single move is “the answer.”

          • MightyBear

            The move to Rosemont, that’s “the answer.” (Sorry Brett, I couldn’t resist with that diatribe earlier)

      • Danny Ballgame

        That has been my take on many of the potential moves that the club could have made. Sure, we would have loved to pick up a Sanchez, Tanaka, or Ellsbury/Choo, but I don’t see how we could have been a contender without getting all of the above at prices that would have crippled our chances at sustainable winning. Maybe I just have octane kewl-aid

        • brainiac

          sustainable winning is sustainable winning if the team can afford the talent. the cubs don’t actually have these financial limitations, it’s an austerity plan while they reorganize operations. so i respectfully disagree that signing a star player “cripples” a team. *only* if you come from the perspective of middle management whose job is to save money for the CEO. the rest of it is just white noise and sheepskin.

          • Danny Ballgame

            I agree to some extent, but how many of the potential signing are worth the $ and years? How many of them would still be productive when we finally reach higher ground? I am just not as down on the FO a some. This offseason should force them, as well as ownership, to show their hands and let us know what the short term plan is.

            • brainiac

              i just think the team should be concerned with hiring a core group of veterans at this point, instead of if owners will feel like they’re paying too much for an all star 7 years from now. if they have the revenues, they can afford proven talent that will help the club for the foreseeable future. we’re not shopping at tj max here.

              • BT

                Exactly. Sign a bunch of 30 year old 3b and OF’s. A “core group of veterans”. It won’t make us better than the Cardinals or Pirates or Reds or Brewers, but Brainiac will feel better. As an added bonus, when guys like Baez and Bryant and Soler are ready to come up, possibly as early as this year, they won’t have anywhere to play. But we will have our “core group of veterans”, a marginally better record, no playoff appearances to show for it, worse draft picks, and less money to spend on both free agents and the draft.

                But Brainiac will be happy.

                • Kyle

                  Yes. Having too many good players and having guys with “no place to play” is *totally* a real risk and we should preemptively avoid it by having few, if any, good players.

                  • Brocktoon

                    It’s important to save money not spending money on FAs in order to spend it on FAs

                    • Kyle

                      We have to lose for years, because if we tried to win, we might fail and lose for years.

                    • Jon

                      ‘Tis better to have not loved and lost: Than never to have loved at all.

                  • BT

                    Ignore the whole argument, mock a portion. My guess is you would be screaming “strawman!” At me about now Kyle. Incorrectly of course.

                    • Kyle

                      Wait. You’re preemptively accusing me of making an argument that I’m not making, and it’s that I would accuse you of a strawman. Is that irony? I can never tell anymore.

                      It’s the same argument that we all know by now. There are negatives and positives to adding wins while still being in the bottom half of the league. Weighing the positives against the negatives is more interesting than just listing one or the other.

        • When The Musics Over

          Curious. With Soriano off the books next year and pre-arbitration or cheap players set to comprise a big part of the starting roster in 2015 and beyond (Rizzo, 2b, SS, 3B, LF), I don’t see how Signing Tanaka, Sanchez and one of Ellsbury or Choo would cripple the team. The Combo of them would be about $60/year.

          Not saying they should/shouldn’t have signed them. Just curious how those contracts would cripple the Cubs anytime through 2020 or so, which is just about when the longest of those contracts would end, and the first wave of minor league talent will start getting pricey.

          • Jon

            We could have signed to Tananka for 30 million a year only to have him chop his arm off the next day and it wouldn’t “crippled” the Cubs.

            • When The Musics Over

              There are a few here that vehemently argue against my claims that there are lots and lots of people that have been mentally warped, via multiple reasons (other posters, the media, especially the team itself, etc), into thinking any large free agent contracts would ruin this team. However, here is another example (no offense to Danny) of where that train of thought is dominant.

              • ssckelley

                But when you are signing players on the wrong side of 30 chances are that the Cubs are only going to get a couple of years of decent value out of those contracts. So that begs the question does signing Sanchez and one of Choo or Ellsbury get the Cubs into the playoffs this upcoming season and/or 2015? If your answer is yes then the Cubs should have spent the money. If not then I would rather they save the money and use it for when they are in position to win. This is what, I think, the front office is evaluating when they are considering these high priced free agents.

                Where the Cubs missed was Tanaka, it is not very often a player his age hits the open market. He would have helped the Cubs win now (not necessarily playoffs) and into the future.

                • When The Musics Over

                  If the Cubs signed Sanchez, Choo and Tanaka, and the Cubs first wave of rookies were ready to roll in 2016, as in already taken a lot of lumps in 2015, that would make Sanchez 32, Choo 33 and Tanaka 27 at the beginning of the season. I don’t see anything wrong with those ages.

                  I brought this up earlier this week, but there are endless examples of 30+ year old players being very, very impactful on championship quality teams.

                  • ssckelley

                    Throw out Tanaka, because he does not fit this debate. But for every player you mention that still plays at a high level at 32/33 years old (worth 15-20 million) there are several others that we can point out that didn’t. The players like Beltran, Rickey Henderson, and Nolan Ryan’s that perform at a high level past 32 are rare. So they still have a good season in 2016, but what about 2017 or 2018? The idea is to build a consistent winner, if you want to sign a 30 year old to help you win then sign him when you think you are going to win, like in 2016. That way you are getting the maximum contract value while the team is winning and not during years you are building. IMO the Cubs need a few more pieces than Choo or Sanchez to make the playoffs this season, so to me it makes no sense to throw a big contract at them.

                    • When The Musics Over

                      I don’t get it. I honestly don’t get how every major player the Cubs need from the outside to plug holes is going to be around at exactly the time the Cubs need them to be around.

                      Also, this conversation wasn’t about increasing the Cubs chances to make the playoffs in 2014. It was about signing guys and how they will not in any way cripple this team’s chances to compete in 2016 and beyond. The extent to which the Cubs have dumped payroll means that free agents really could have been the first “wave” of talent, with the second wave being the first group of prospects. But that’s not what happened.

                      The Cubs wanted to save money and maximize draft picks. That’s really what it was all about. If people really think Theo and crew are so gun shy about 30+ year old free agents and them ruining the team, just look at his time in Boston.

                    • Brocktoon

                      And when there are no OFers available in 16 we can just play for a high draft pick and try in 17.

                      The cubs “OF of the future” has a total of 299 PAs at high A ball and one of them is still playing 3b, I’m not real worried holding down spots for all 3 of them

                    • YourResidentJag

                      @MusicOver Except when you read Joel Sherman’s take on last year’s Red Sox team: http://nypost.com/2013/11/03/dont-expect-other-teams-to-replicate-red-sox-blueprint/

                    • ssckelley

                      To me it is all about being a contender this year and next year. I don’t mind the Cubs signing 30+ year old free agents if they are looking to compete. If not then I think they are a waste of money. If you sign a guy like Ellsbury or Choo to a 5 year deal the odds are good that the best years you will get out of them are the first 2 years. So why waste the best years of your players paying for them to play on a team you have little to no chance at making the playoffs?

                    • When The Musics Over

                      Just because the first two years are the best, doesn’t mean the next three years can’t be good or very useful. It’s very rarely best and then fall off a cliff.

                      And for the record, I’m not against a rebuild. I’m against people attaching themselves to false narratives. Signing a few guys now does not cripple the Cubs later. If the Cubs are as smart as everyone makes them out so be, it should actually help them.

                    • ssckelley

                      But since the Cubs are going to rely on prospects you need those best years of free agents to be the year you are making the playoff run. Then as they decline, yet still productive, you can rely more on those prospects make up the difference.

            • http://bleachernation.com woody

              I’ll laugh my ass off if Tanaka lays a big fat egg in New York. Not that I have any thing against Tanaka, but wouldn’t it be funny if the league teed off on his pitches.

          • cubsfan08

            Well they tried to sign both Tanaka and Sanchez so the FO agrees with you that those 2 wouldn’t have been crippling and/or they did make sense to aquire.

          • Danny Ballgame

            I was thinking along the lines of their contracts ending up like the last years of Soriano or worse. Granted, you have to overpay for damn near every free agent but I feel like if we had the money and truly wanted any of these guys, we would have.

            • Danny Ballgame

              *would have signed them

            • When The Musics Over

              There was nothing wrong with Soriano’s contract the last two years. He had 3.6 and 2.9 WAR in 2012 and 2013. He more or less earned every penny he was earned.

              • When The Musics Over

                *paid

              • ssckelley

                The bulk of his value in 2013 was after he had been traded to the Yankees. But yes, overall Soriano performed close the value he was getting paid. I have no problems with his contract as he was a big part of the Cubs playoff runs.

  • brainiac

    this brings up another interesting point – i’m starting to wonder if theo isn’t deliberately tanking the team _in order_ to force the owner’s hand into taking his investment seriously besides a new concession stand toy.

    the more the team tanks, the worse theo looks now, but the pressure mounts and a purse opens?

    • Jon

      Assuming 2014 is going to be a disaster, that will be 5 straight years of top 10(2011,2012,2013,2014,2015) draft picks. I get tanking for a couple of years, and hey you got Kris Bryant. But at what point is enough…enough?

      • Norm

        When Theo decides its enough.
        He’s better at this than you.

        • brainiac

          i used to think this! now i’m not so sure.

          • DarthHater

            Just so long as nobody tries to suggest that Theo’s better than Kyle… :-P

            • Kyle

              Of course he’s better than me.

              I’m not convinced he’s better than Huntington, Jocketty or Mozeliak, though.

              • Jon

                Friedman? Beane?

        • YourResidentJag

          With respect to the Cubs, the jury’s still in deliberations.

        • Dave64

          So if Theo decides we need to draft in the top 10 for another 5 years you would be just fine with that.
          There is nothing impressive about building a farm system by picking top 10 or higher for years.
          Cards have a top farm system and don’t always drsft high. That’s impressive.

          • brainiac

            this post is really smart – pujols wasn’t even a high draft pick, right?

            there’s a fallacy that assumes that a high ranking of very, very young men will equate to big league success, when it’s the quality of the farm system that helps players mature most. every pillar of “the plan” collapses the more closely it’s scrutinized. not that there won’t be major adherents till the end – it has a religious tone of salvation at the end of suffering that people identify with.

            the difference is that salvation is usually not an elective decision about oneself.

            • BT

              The front office has spent the last 2 years improving the quality of the farm system, from top to bottom in ways that have nothing to do with the players themselves. And no reasonable person thinks high picks guarantee success. But keep arguing with imaginary opponents if you think it will help you poke holes in the hated plan.

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

              There is a big difference between drafting in the last few year as it was in the past. Now the higher the draft pick the bigger the pot of gold you have to sign players, before the CBA teams had uncapped spending limits and smart teams splurged on the draft (the Cubs under Tribune ownership did not take advantage of this). So the history of having high draft picks now can not be compared to before- it’s a whole different game now. And you know this but you need to keep your narrative going but don’t compare two entirely different systems. But you know exactly what you are doing and you won’t stop for a few pesky truths now. Carry on.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              It’s not a fallacy, it’s a correlation. The probability of a first round pick amounting to much in the majors is significantly greater than is the probability of a second round pick amounting to much in the majors; the probability of a second round pick amounting to much in the majors is significantly greater than is the probability of a third round picking amounting to much in the majors; etc., etc.

              Combine this with the new spending limits imposed by the new CBA, and all the tactics concerning draft picks have changed.

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

                Yes but that doesn’t fit the brainiac’s false narrative… and facts, truth, and logic will not stop him on his crusade. He knows he’s wrong he’s just be difficult and annoying on purpose.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Well, facts, logic, probability etc., never have any place in a crusade, I suppose. Should we autocorrect with “heresy,” “blasphemy,” “apostate,” “infidel,” etc., as appropriate, then?

                  :-)

                  • Jon

                    I’d be interested to see the facts, probability, and logic that shows 5+ seasons of tanking the big league roster is the most likely path to sustained success

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

                      If you think Jon and read the above comments you will know the answer to your question. Is it this hard to understand? Or goes it just get in the way of your complaining narrative.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Is anybody arguing that it’s the most likely path to success or are they arguing that it might be a path to success?

                      Also, 5+ years, you have a crystal ball in your pocket or are you just unhappy to see … anything ever?

                    • Jon

                      I don’t have the answers right now, but if you did an in depth study of the best run organizations in baseball I think you would find the talent on the team comes from a mix of

                      1-2 top ten picks
                      A variety of other prospects ( from all phases of the draft, developed well)
                      Good IFA signings
                      Savy trades
                      Impact FA signings

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      That’s a pretty simple argument.

                      Premise #1: Flooding the organization with high ceiling, high floor prospects maximizes the probability of long-term success. (This assumption might or might not be true.)

                      Premise #2: There exists a correlation between how high a guy is drafted and how high his realized potential is. (This assumption is empirically sound.)

                      Premise #3: “Flippable” assets can be used to acquire minor leaguers now thought to have high floors/ceilings. (This assumption also is empirically sound.)

                      Lemma #1: Tanking increases how high you acquire your picks.

                      Lemma #2: Flipping good assets increases the probability of Tanking.

                      Combine these, and it follows that Tanking increases the population of high floor/high ceiling prospects in two ways, which in turn increases the probability of long term success.

                      To put it another way, the current FO’s tactics essentially combines both r-selection (make lots of babies!) and K-selection (make better babies!) principles from population ecology.

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

                      Okay Jon you realize that what is happening with the new CBA is a whole new world and we can’t say one way of the other or compare it to the past. Check back in ten years and then evaluate what the Cubs have been doing.

                      And Doc that was excellent!

                    • Kyle

                      “Patrick, you are missing the main point.
                      If you stick to basing your opinions on the fact that we know very little of the actual situation, then you don’t get to act like you are somehow smarter or more objective than everyone else.
                      And if you don’t act smarter and more objective than all the silly posters that accept that they might not know the whole picture, then you can’t win the internet!”

                      Hmm. There’s something about a pot and a kettle that seems appropriate here.

                      I am smart and more objective than almost everyone, so it’s moot.

                    • mjhurdle

                      “I am smart and more objective than almost everyone, so it’s moot.”

                      I think we can file that in the same department as “Theo’s plan for the Cubs will work”. Certainly possible, but no definitive evidence to say for sure yet.

                  • Bill

                    Yet most of the worst teams in baseball have been following this formula for years and are still terrible. Can you provide us examples of teams who’ve tanked 5+ seasons and are now seeing sustained success? How about a study that supports tanking is a good/best way to achieve sustained success?

                    When was Wacha selected in the draft? The Cardinals seem to do a pretty good job of drafting quality prospects and yet the never have a top 10 selection. How do they accomplish this miracle?

                    I’m not sure anyone is arguing Theo’s “tank plan” can’t/won’t work, the relevant question is was it the best plan, or was the tanking necessary?

                    • Patrick W.

                      I think “Is it the best plan” is the absolute least relevant question and I don’t understand the obsession with the notion.

                      There are results this team want to achieve. Great farm system, perennial World Series contender. They have chosen a plan of action that will or won’t work. Did it work is the relevant question and nobody can answer that yet.

                    • Kyle

                      That’s results-oriented thinking.

                      It’s perfectly valid to question whether or not it is the plan most likely to get us those results.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Gosh thanks Kyle for letting me know that saying “did it work” was results oriented thinking.

                      It’s perfectly legitimate to ask if it’s the most likely plan to get the results if you HAVE ANY INPUT ON THE PLAN.

                      You don’t. All you got is a seat from the side from which to shout your views into the wind. You have one choice: wait. Now, you are free to complain or analyze or whatever but you are also free to swallow some raisins and hope you shit some grapes.

                      You cannot know if this is the plan that is most likely to succeed because there has never been any two years under the new CBA other than these last two years. You don’t sound like you think you’re guessing, but you are, Kyle, you are just guessing. Things have changed enough that past experience is less informative than we need to pass judgment, and yet you continue to confidently allow judgment to pass like so many overripe raisins.

                    • Kyle

                      You’re welcome.

                      I’ll mark you down on the list of people who have voluntarily given up their ability to try to make judgments about baseball.

                      Personally, I think it’s fun, but I guess you don’t, so feel free not to.

                    • Bill

                      Geez, buddy, take your xanax.

                      It’s a fan site. It’s perfectly reasonable to discuss whether this was the best plan. If you don’t want to talk about the issue then don’t. Nobody forces you to read or respond to every post.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Or you could mark me down as one of the people humble enough to know proper evidence is a better foundation in which to build a judgment than dogmatic, hypothesis supporting conjecture.

                      I don’t keep lists of people myself, but I’m glad I made one (and imagine you have HUNDREDS) of yours.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Can you provide me examples of where I’ve read and responded to every post? :)

                    • Kyle

                      “Or you could mark me down as one of the people humble enough to know proper evidence is a better foundation in which to build a judgment than dogmatic, hypothesis supporting conjecture.”

                      Boooorriiiing.

                    • Bill

                      I never said you did.

                      Why respond to a subject that doesn’t interest you?

                      Of course, you don’t believe in commenting until the results are in. I guess we shouldn’t expect any posts from you about specific prospects and how they could help the major league team because “we’ll have to wait and see the results” before we can make comments.

                    • mjhurdle

                      Patrick, you are missing the main point.
                      If you stick to basing your opinions on the fact that we know very little of the actual situation, then you don’t get to act like you are somehow smarter or more objective than everyone else.
                      And if you don’t act smarter and more objective than all the silly posters that accept that they might not know the whole picture, then you can’t win the internet!

                    • Patrick W.

                      If the point of what I was saying was a Mookie Wilson ground ball you’d be Bill Buckner.

                      What people are doing when they say things like “tanking 5+ years” after 2 years, and citing the past as if it is exactly the same now, is passing judgment on the plan as “not the best” when that is not knowable due to significant changes to the rules.

                      I will happily say Javy Baez could be a great addition to this team but I won’t say Javy Baez will hit 700 home runs in his career.

                    • Patrick W.

                      You’re right mj I should have remembered.

                    • Kyle

                      “What people are doing when they say things like “tanking 5+ years” after 2 years, and citing the past as if it is exactly the same now, is passing judgment on the plan as “not the best” when that is not knowable due to significant changes to the rules.”

                      Basically, you want people who come to conclusions you like to be held to an absurdly high standard of evidence.

                      I don’t think we need to state that all posts are based on our opinion based on inductive reasoning. This should be implied.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Inductive reasoning is fine. I’m not holding anybody to any standard as I have no authority (and no lists). I’m saying the evidence isn’t strong enough to induce the notion that there are better ways to go about reaching the goals as expressed.

                      I’m using my own inductive reasoning to say the rule changes are a bigger influence on the plan than the stupidity of the front office or the cheapness of the owner.

                    • Bill

                      “What people are doing when they say things like “tanking 5+ years” after 2 years, and citing the past as if it is exactly the same now, is passing judgment on the plan as “not the best” when that is not knowable due to significant changes to the rules.”

                      It’s been 2 years for Theo, but this team has been terrible for the past 4 seasons. After this years draft, this will make 4 top 10 picks over the last 4 years. In all likelihood the team is going to be terrible this year, so they will have earned yet another top 10 pick in next year’s draft.

                      It’s pretty safe to say the “Plan” (of sucking and getting high picks) has been firmly in place for 5 years.

                      New CBA or not this team has accumulated a lot of high picks for this suckiness. The major league team is still terrible and there’s very little reason to believe it will be a contender in the near future (next 2-3 years).

                      We haven’t even got to the sustained success part. In order to have ‘sustained’ success you first must have one success.

                      Theo mentioned parallel fronts when first talking about his plan. Now, whether these were always hollow words, or something changed, we’ve seen one, and only one front being addressed with this FO.

                    • Kyle

                      “I’m using my own inductive reasoning to say the rule changes are a bigger influence on the plan than the stupidity of the front office or the cheapness of the owner.”

                      I don’t think that induction meets the standards you are asking for.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Your first paragraph (which I wrote) and your last two are great. The last two are objectively true and cannot be argued with. The other three are just sort of pointless to me. But who cares what I think anyway?

                    • Bill

                      “I’m using my own inductive reasoning to say the rule changes are a bigger influence on the plan than the stupidity of the front office or the cheapness of the owner.”

                      My inductive reasoning says the rule changes have less influence on the plan than Theo’s unwillingness to sign big price FA’s (because he got burnt in Bos doing this) and Ricketts having less money to spend than fans thought (because of the debt structuring and delays in ballpark signage, etc).

                    • Patrick W.

                      We agree on the money.

                    • Bill

                      Well, at least you’re starting to get some things right. :-)

                    • hansman

                      How have the Cubs tanked 5 seasons?

                • brainiac

                  it’s not a crusade, it’s a counterpoint to the PR initiative that you guys accept with too much passivity.

                  if “the plan” is equated into winning. you have to look at how winning is defined. there’s a long conversation here about the two major sides on this issue below. but the short of it is that “the plan” means that losing is a strategy for winning, and the cubs would be winning sooner if they didn’t have the inconveniences of having neighbors, contracts, or the city of chicago.

                  my take is that the plan equates to deferment of investment until a specific business model is reached for ownership, for better or worse. “the plan”, plain and simple, is spin by a PR division to placate gullible people. there’s no “plan”, there’s just a brand.

                  • brainiac

                    if the plan was to win, we’d be trying to win, just like everyone else. instead we’re drafting players, just like everyone else. but that’s it. that’s not a very sophisticated plan.

              • Kyle

                I’m not sure the probability is “much greater” once you start getting past the first round, although that’s a vague enough term that there’s no right or wrong answer.

                The expected value curve flattens out considerably toward the end of the first round.

                • 2015

                  You people honestly need to realize its friday and go party instead of bickering about a last place team. OUR TIME WILL COME BE PATIENT…..a few drinks make the time fly!!

                  • Bill

                    Sorry, I don’t drink.

                    Bickering is fun and makes the time fly by.

    • Norm

      Maybe Theo DOESN’T lack the money to sign people; just thinks that there isn’t anyone worth signing.

    • Funn Dave

      Mmm, I really don’t think so. I feel like if he really had that bad a relationship with the ownership, we’d know about it.

  • ssckelley

    If the Cubs want to bring in a guy who strikes out 36% of the time in Brett Wallace then they might as well put Brett Jackson in at center field.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Yup, or have Lake play there all year

  • Edwin

    Mariners rotation might not be too bad. Hernandez and Iwakuma both pitched well last year. Walker and Paxton could both be good.

    • Jon

      I was about to say, those two combine for ten wins last year, that’s a helluva top 2 in your rotation. Imagine if Walker lives up to his billing.

      • When The Musics Over

        It’s so funny that people are so willing to bet very hard on the Cubs being able to literally rely on almost a whole roster of under 25 year old players succeeding at the highest level, but other teams who plan on relying on just a few of them are silly for doing so.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m willing to bet very hard on the Cubs being competitive in 2016 (and I’d probably bet on them being close to .500, at least, in 2015), and it isn’t while relying solely on prospects.

          • When The Musics Over

            That’s because you are extremely reasonable and don’t believe every major free agent contract is crippling and that most prospects will succeed in a big way. There are so many others that are the opposite.

            As for the Mariners. If Walker pitches like Teheran did last year and Paxton or someone else like a number 5 starter, I don’t see how that rotation is bad. Hernandez is a bonified ace, and between Iwakuma and Ramirez, you basically have 2 #3 starters, perhaps with Iwakuma being a bit better than that.

            Now people can give me shit for ifs, but we sit around here all day dreaming of ifs, much, much, much bigger ifs.

            • DarthHater

              “Hernandez is a bonified ace”

              I got bonified once. Pretty painful.

              • When The Musics Over

                Yeah, oops.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Did Lockhart try to fix your arm?

                • Professional High A

                  +1

          • YourResidentJag

            As long as competitive doesn’t mean 85-88 wins and no trip to the wild card play in game….I think 2016 when it’s all said and done will look like an 85 win team. Nice but nice doesn’t do it for me after 5 yrs of Theo.

  • Edwin

    What’s interesting is that part of the reason that it doesn’t make sense for the Cubs to add a FA is that the Cubs are not very good, and adding a FA won’t improve their situation much.

    Part of the reason the Cubs are not very good is that they haven’t added much if any MLB talent over the past couple years, while trading away some of the talent they did have.

    So when looking at the Cubs and saying “well, they’re just not in a sitatuion right now to add talent through FA”, it’s their situation that they chose to be in.

    • Norm

      How many free agents that have signed in the last few years have really made a difference to any team that signed them? Anibal Sanchez?

      The reason they didn’t sign FA’s back then, was because they didn’t believe it would improve the team down the road. And if you look at every free agent signing made since they took over, it’s hard to argue with that belief coming true.

      • When The Musics Over

        Define down the road, as in year and as in how.

      • Jon

        I’m just going to focus on outfield because

        1) It’s an abomination right now. Probably the worst OF in baseball.

        2) Some of the OF prospects could be a couple of years away and a couple of “bridge FA’s might have made sense”

        Shane Victorino(2012)? I would have taken his 5 wins last year.
        Carlos Beltran(2012)? I would have taen his 6.3 wins the past two years
        Hell, I’ll even say Josh Hamilton(given it’s a 5 year deal, not a moster 8 year deal). Before we bury him, let’s see if rebounds this year. I’m not even including the IFA’s like Puig and Cespedes.

        I suppose you or someone else will shit on these suggestions like always, I’m just trying to make a point there have been opportunities to sign good players and at the same time not jeopardize anything long term.

        • bbmoney

          BJ Upton too.

          • Jon

            Yeah, but he was f awful last year :)

            I wouldn’t have minded Bourne on his 4 year 13 per deal, once the market fell out.

            • bbmoney

              Yeah it was a joke.

              Although I’d still rather have BJ Upton and $32M (approximate remaining difference on their contract) than Josh Hamilton.

        • Jon

          I just feel like we consistently get stuck in this infinite loop here where

          1) Person A laments the horrible talent on current big league roster
          2) Person B replies with the canned response “Who should have the Cubs signed smart guy”!
          3) Person A replies for the 15th with a legitimate pool players over the past few years that could have made sense for this team and put them in a better position
          4) Person B calls Person A Monday Morning QB

          Myself, I’m tired of the dance.

          • itzscott

            You forgot the obligatory low risk flippable asset part of that loop and also the filler for Iowa that provides a viable backup in case Pearl Harbor is attacked again by the Japanese.

          • cubsfan08

            Its a combo of both though. I think there is confusion on both sides. Nobody wants to admit to tanking. And I don’t think purposeful tanking is what is going on. Its something the team will live with because the effects of it have the potential to benefit the organization in the future (high draft pick). In respect to tanking, I don’t think its a calculated strategy to intentionally lose the most games possible. I see it more as an acceptable fall back option. If a player becomes available, at a price we deem acceptable (read: not crazy overpay) AND they will be able to contribute WHEN we expect to compete…then that is a player we will target (read: Tanaka)

            I agree – at first glance I wanted to reject your idea of a Beltran signing. Why? Because I thought – great we win 5 more games and now instead of the 4th pick we have the 8th pick. What did I just admit to myself there? That I’d rather the team stink for draft purposes…I think…

            But then I thought – wait – if instead of Beltran, it was say a Matt Carpenter / Starling Marte type ( I know – they’re not available but I hope you see my point) then yes, I would take the additional 5 wins from him and consider it ok. Why? Because he can continue to contribute going forward – at least I hope – and I can build on that move.

            Having a Beltran or Victorino on the decline just so we can sing “Go Cubs Go” an extra couple times doesn’t do it for me. That was the answer in the past, and the past didn’t work for the Cubs.

            • cubsfan08

              And I realize a cynical person will read that and say:

              “Sweet, so they don’t want to admit to tanking, instead they would rather rationalize it by adopting a strategy of signing good players who aren’t available.”

              In essence – yea, kind of. But those players may become available via other means such as in a “flip” or IFA. I actually hope we snagged one last year in Mike Olt. A stretch, but if he became a 4 WIN player suddenly, nobody would complain that we are picking 8th next draft rather than 4th. If those 4 additional WINS came from Beltran rather than Olt – in regards to the future we are no better off.

              • Brocktoon

                -Teams aren’t flipping their young, good players.

                -Tanaka was that player, we didn’t give him a competitive offer.

                -Mike Olt is legally blind and I’d put as more likely to not accumulate 4 wins over the remainder of his career as he would to put up a 4 win season.

                • Edwin

                  Olt’s seeing eye dog has a great nose for the strike zone, though.

                  • Brocktoon

                    So that’s what made Frank Thomas so good.

                  • Brocktoon

                    Guarantee it was a shelter dog.

          • DarthHater

            5) Darth posts an irrelevant meme poking fun at persons A and/or B… :-P

          • Edwin

            I don’t mind it too much. Norm makes valid points, and I respect his (and others’) positions.

            Where I generally take issue is the idea that the Cubs were “forced” into their current situation. Right or wrong, they’ve made choices that has turned their farm system into one of the best in the game, but turned their MLB team into one of the worst in the game. I don’t know if this really makes the Cubs a better team in the long term or not.

          • cubbiehawkeye

            …and I’m tired of reading “the dance”. We get it. You hate Theo and the plan. Should we all vomit our disgust for how the Cubs have performed the last couple of years?…or can some of us look forward to spring training.

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

              Agreed

        • Norm

          So let’s say the Cubs signed both Victorino and Beltran (even though there was 0% chance of Beltran coming to Chicago) what doest that get last years team? 75 wins? 80 wins? No Kris Bryant?

          Josh Hamilton? Really? Theo clearly didn’t think that was the right move. And, knowing what we know now, if you’re still going to say the Cubs should have signed Josh Hamilton, we’re not going to agree on much of anything.

          • Jon

            Why was there 0% chance of Beltran coming to Chicago?

          • Kyle

            80 wins probably gets them 8-figures in extra ticket revenue, the credibility to have good players perhaps want to come here, the possibility to flip those players for more prospects (because that’s all that matters) *and* you have another first-round pick instead of Kris Bryant.

            You can’t zero in on the costs of winning while ignoring the costs of losing.

            • Norm

              And you know more than most that the #2 overall pick is extremely more valuable than the #10-30 pick, wherever it is you think they would have fallen.
              Beltran got a NTC when he signed with the Cards.
              Are there players the Cubs missed out on because they weren’t an 80 win team?

              YOU don’t think 70 wins + Bryant (and more draft dollars) is better for the long term success of the Cubs, but clearly the front office does.
              And don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, they’ve thought about the pros and cons of being an 80 win team vs a 70 win team??
              That if the extra revenue from being an 80 win team was more important to the organization than trying to build their way, that they’d do it?

              • YourResidentJag

                They were projecting a finalization of the agreement in advertising and its additional revenue and miscalculated on the business side of things?

              • ssckelley

                “And you know more than most that the #2 overall pick is extremely more valuable than the #10-30 pick, wherever it is you think they would have fallen.”

                I disagree, if the Cubs are closer to drafting at #30 then that means they made the playoffs. I would have taken a playoff run last year or the year before in exchange for Bryant, in a heart beat. Let’s not over value these draft picks THAT MUCH, the goal is to make the playoffs. I am as excited as anybody with Bryant but he has no guarantees attached to him.

              • Edwin

                If the choice is between 70+ wins and Bryant or 80+ wins and a 1st round pick less than Bryant, I take the 80 wins any day of the week.

                I think the front office may have put too much emphasis on rebuilding the farm system, and not enough emphasis on improving the MLB talent. They’ve created a situation in which the Cubs have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but one of the worst MLB teams in baseball. It’s going to be a tough hole to climb out of.

                • Chad

                  I disagree that it will be that difficult. Yes it would have been nice to get Tanaka as a piece to start with, but once the prospects start to come it will be easier to add pieces where needed. If Baez and Bryant are up at the end of the year and are producing, adding a key FA or two will go a long way. Also the cubs will continue to build depth in the farm system that will allow them to be flexible and make trades. I too would have liked to see them sign Tanaka or someone like him this year, but I don’t think the future is nearly as dire as you let on.

                  • Chef Brian

                    Bingo. The draft picks or the players they become are currency and in this league gone mad for cheap, controllable assets, that currency is becoming more and more valuable. The old way of thinking was over paying, old, declining vets, more teams want young talent with controllable years. The Cubs will cash in their chips soon.

                  • Edwin

                    I didnt’ mean to imply that it was dire, but I don’t think the Cubs are as close to competeing in the central as some do. They still have a lack of talent 25 and under on their current MLB roster, and they’re going up against teams like the Pirates and Cardinals that have just as good of farm systems, and much better current rosters.

                • BlackJeep

                  I disagree on both of your fronts Edwin. I want to win now as much as anyone but I won’t sell my farm to buy a new tractor. Winning 80 or so games likely doesn’t get you a world series ring. I’m a lifelong suffering fan but I’ll accept a few bad years if the trade off is we get people like Bryant and Baez in the system. Your second point about ‘too much emphasis on the farm system’ and ‘tough hole to climb out of’ is a self defeating argument. Prospects are never a guarantee, but if you have ‘one of the best farms systems in baseball’, that IS your ladder out of the hole and you won’t be crappy for long. You’ll have a cost controlled source of new talent instead of hoping the right free agents are available when you need them, AND you don’t have to overpay to get them. With a core of homegrown talent, you only need to add a a couple of free agents instead of relying entirely on free agency to build your roster.
                  Commence trolling…

                  • Edwin

                    When I talk about “80 win team” I’m referring to an 80 true talent win team. I think it’s easier to go from being an 80 win team to a 90 win team than going from a 70 win team to a 90 win team.

                    My point about “the hole” is that if the Cubs didn’t dig so deep a hole, than they wouldn’t need so long a ladder.

                • ssckelley

                  Why would you want a 80 win season over Bryant? To me if you are not making the playoffs then the win total does not matter.

                  • Funn Dave

                    You’re focusing a lot on playoffs here. Even if the rest of the Central had been awful and we kept Garza and Sori and somehow squeezed our way into the playoffs, our team would have been laughed off the field. It’s reaching the playoffs *with a good team that deserves to be there* that counts. Yes anything can happen in the playoffs, but c’mon; let’s be real.

                    • ssckelley

                      Baseball is all about getting hot at the right time, it is getting more and more rare that the best teams even reach the World Series anymore. In 2006 the friggin Cardinals won the World Series and they won 83 games during the regular season. At the end of July if the Cubs had been 1 or 2 games out they may not have traded Garza and Soriano, they may have been a buyer instead of a seller.

                    • Funn Dave

                      What I’m saying is, even if they had kept Garza and Sori–and added a rental or two–they just weren’t a good enough team to compete in the postseason. Yes miracles do happen and luck can complement talent quite well, but you have to have at least a modicum of talent for that to happen. Personally, I’d rather take Kris Bryant than go to the playoffs with a bunch of players that would be benchwarmers on most teams. And I say that as someone who is generally very opposed to punting.

                    • ssckelley

                      We will have to agree to disagree on this then because I will take a playoff bid over any draft pick.

                    • Jason P

                      So just to be clear: if you had the choice for 2014, either the Cubs can be the worst playoff team and get the #20 draft pick or be a 95 loss team with another top-5 pick … you’d pick the 95 losses?

                      I don’t see how that can even be an argument.

              • Kyle

                “YOU don’t think 70 wins + Bryant (and more draft dollars) is better for the long term success of the Cubs, but clearly the front office does.
                And don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, they’ve thought about the pros and cons of being an 80 win team vs a 70 win team??
                That if the extra revenue from being an 80 win team was more important to the organization than trying to build their way, that they’d do it?”

                Nope. I think Epstein has always wanted to do a full rebuild and never for a moment cared whether it was what was best for the Cubs organization.

      • YourResidentJag

        Darvish. Definitely, and don’t give the Cubs can’t be playoff competitive with him and with the right moves, even if it’s in years 5 or 6 of his contract.

        • Jon

          Man, I just went over OF possibles, don’t get me started on the rotation.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I imagine that it will be Castro and Lake in the 1 and 2 spot to start the season. I really like Schierholtz as a platoon guy and he was outstanding last season, but I have serious doubts that he can continue those numbers. Which brings me to my thoughts about the middle of the order. Or the fact that we don’t really have a middle of the order. To be a good team we have to have a minimum of three guys that produce in the 3,4,5 spots. And we have about one and a half as Rizzo is really the only big bat in the whole cubs lineup. I was really hoping that would be addressed before the start of the season, but it looks like 2013 redux, with the possible excepption of Ruggiano. Maybe he and Schierholtz will rake like the 3rd base platoon did last year. But the middle of the order is just plain weak. I see tension and frustration growing rapidly as this anemic offense fails to produce enough runs to win ball games. Do you thing Samardzija and Wood want their legacies to be that they were the best losing pitchers of all time? The bullpen upgrade isn’t going to pay big dividends if we can only put two or three runs on the board on a regular basis. Prove me wrong, but this team needs a viagra cocktail before games because it appears to be impotent to me.

  • Ivy Walls

    I am really fixated on the triple witching hour point where Seattle’s GM, the ex Brew Crew guy, “Jack” Zduriencik, has his contract up at the end of this year. Signing Cano and now a few others will only put pressure on to produce a corresponding Starting rotation. Seattle could go all in with a trade of Walker and one of their LHP (Paxton or Hultzman, probably the later), this could infuse the Cubs right now with capable youngsters coming on line.

    • Brocktoon

      We wouldn’t get Walker alone for Shark.

      • Jon

        As I understand it, Tampa keeps trolling a Price for Walker swap and Seattle has been saying no.

  • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

    When referencing a Paul Sullivan story, you don’t have to use the word pessimistic. That should be implied.

  • http://www.ehanauer.com clark addison

    Glad Sullivan is no longer the Cubs beat writer.

    • YourResidentJag

      The problem is even pessimism is creeping into the stories that Patrick Mooney writes about the Cubs, and he’s always been more respected on here than Paul Sullivan has.

      • When The Musics Over

        Than you’d be surprised to hear Mooney’s personal take on the organization.

        • YourResidentJag

          Except that my argument is not about Mooney’s overall stance. Nor is it of Sullivan’s
          I believe neither is 100% pessimistic or optimistic…more like realistic.

  • TulaneCubs

    The problem with the Mariners is it’s really hard to come up with a deal that makes sense for them.

    It’s Walker and Peterson (who plays a position they don’t need) and then a guy like Paxton that is probably a #4 and a crap ton of high ceiling, low floor guys in the lower minors. Sure, it’s possible the Mariners throw in Nick Franklin, but he’d just add to the infield glut. And a guy like Dustin Ackley could probably be had, but his value is super low.

    One thing I was wondering is what if you throw a huge prospect + Shark package at Taijuan Walker? Something like Shark, Vogelbach, Russell and Soler for Walker. I get that it might be a bit of an overpay, but if you think Walker is an ace, don’t you have to consider it? And from the Mariners’ standpoint, you get a guy that struggled with the long ball last year that will now pitch in a place impossible to hit homers at and is major league ready. With that, you get 2 potential big time power bats and reports have their FO currently obsessed with power hitters.

    I know it sounds like a radical idea, but the more I think about it the more I kind of like it.

  • Jrock1

    The Cubs had chances to sign players to make them more competitive on the MLB level but chose to sit on their hands. Now they have to over pay anyone worth value to come to the organization. Who wants to play for a consistent 90 loss team for a couple of year waiting on prospects that more than likely will be not pan out. The Cubs will be involved in negotiations with players so the agent can up the price on the teams where they would actually consider signing. By chance that they are competitive by 2016 (which I doubt), the Cubs won’t have a chance against a stacked STL or Pittsburgh team.

    • Voice of Reason

      Are you saying that Cubs owners do not want to win a World Series?

      • Jrock1

        I know they didn’t want to win the last 4 years.

  • Edwin

    At this point, I don’t think it’s worth looking back and deciding whether they could have won more over the past couple years or not. That’s an impossible debate to have. I think a more interesting question is, regardless of how the Cubs got to this point, are the Cubs in a better position to compete for a world series now than they were a few years ago?

  • hansman

    Well then, this thread is just sunshine and lollipops and includes all of the “Care Bears”.

    • Fishin Phil

      I believe a rainbow will shoot out of my butt at any minute.

    • Edwin

      When I watch the cubs, I feel like that bear with the stormcloud.

  • Chef Brian

    With the farm system we currently have, we are definitely in a better position to get to the WS than we were a few years ago. A few years ago we had a garbage roster a middling, to poor farm system. Now we have a garbage roster and an elite farm system. We have the foundation and the currency to build with.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I have to give the FO credit for the improvement in the draft. Considering that Jackson and Vitters were both number one picks and comparing them to Almora and Bryant, it is obvious that McLeod is doing a better job scouting than during the Hendry era. Oh yeah go ahead and throw the Baez draft in my face if you are a die hard Hendry fan. But we have a number 4 pick this year and with the lame lineup we are fielding this year it’s almost certain that we get a prime pick next year too. Bryant is the kind of a player that could only have been gotten through the draft. He is a stud and I have no doubt that he will be an above average major leaguer. If the FO can do as well with the next two years picks we should be sitting pretty. The guys we are getting in the system are of the caliber IMO that the only posible means of getting them is with the tanking strategy. But enough is enough, but I certainly hope this is the last year of that strategy.

  • CubsfaninAZ

    Apparently everyones just going to hate till we win, and all they want is the Cubs to spend spend spend. Yet when teams like the Oakland A’s dont spend big, trade stars, let the big contracts go, they still field good teams. Obviously they had to flip pieces, sign a few contracts like Cespedes, that make sense for them currently and down the road. Billy Beane is a genious. The Tampa Rays are another example they keep bringing them up and then reloading when they cant afford em by flipping. They are always in contention, some have them winning the AL East next season. People forget that they were bad for a very long time, and probably didnt have to be but as an expansion team they kept bringing in over the hill wade bogg’s and jose canseco’s. Once they learned that was stupid waste of money. The young guys started to take off. Hell even the Yankees were miserable in the early 90′s until a young core came up known as the Jeter, Riveria group. So imagine the Cubs bringing up young studs like the Rays and A’s and start winning, the big difference will be the Cubs wont have to trade the David Prices and Sheilds and Mulders and Hudsons and let the Giambis and etc walk when they get to expensive. The Cubs will have the money to keep all of THEIR young studs locked down for years or flip em if they have a controllable player ready to come up, and reload the system, and then they’ll also have the money being a big market team to go out and get whoever they want.
    3 things to watch for this year is , 1 if 2 of the big 4 get called up this year and do well, and the other 2 are dont have set backs, meaning they will be playing in Wrigley come april 2015. 2, Rizzo and Castro get back on track and 3 the Cubs secure the renovation deals and the rooftop thing gets settled this year. The Cubs will not be out bid if Scherzer, Bailey, Masterson, and Sheilds hits free agency. They WILL land 2 of those 4 next offseason. But the other 3 pieces have to fall in line as well.

    • Kyle

      If the Cubs win without spending, that’d be fine too.

      Showing that some teams win without spending doesn’t justify a team that is losing a lot without spending.

      • CubsfaninAZ

        True, and a lot of things have to go right in the minor league development. But after the tribune went out and spent a bunch and it brought nothing to us. I’m glad Theo n Co is taking this approach. The hope is in a perfect world all of these studs come up and do well. So I’m on board. If it doesn’t theres no reason to hate because eventually then yeah they’ll have to spend big dollars because they’ll have to win or be gone. Which is the plus side of a big market team. I mean its a gamble, but I like the Cubs taking it. Its better they gamble on the cheap end, and not the expensive free agents, who with the hefty contract almost become impossible to trade, like Soriano was. In a perfect world if the young guys are playing in the bigs by the end of 2014 and in 2015, and you have Castillo, Rizzo, Baez, Castro, Olt, Bryant, Almora, Soler, Lake. And say we’d signed Ellsbury for that contract he got and he goes down with a torn knee. And one of the young studs fills in and takes over his spot ? Then you’d have 5-6 years of a Grady Sizmore type question mark signed to a huge deal. Id rather not spend on that gamble and if the young studs prove they can play, spend and spend big for every ace that hits the market! I think thats what theyll do, because they know thats the one thing they dont have coming.

        • hawkinright

          The Tribune company was 1 win away from the World Series which is much closer than the current regime has gotten us, yet. My biggest problem is that even those totally on board with “the plan” seem to be under the impression we’ll spend when the time is right. Why would anyone think that? What has this front office/ownership shown you that makes you think that? I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe the commitment is there.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            “My biggest problem is that even those totally on board with “the plan” seem to be under the impression we’ll spend when the time is right. Why would anyone think that? What has this front office/ownership shown you that makes you think that? I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe the commitment is there.”

            Think about what you’re saying. Your reason for not believing they’ll spend when the time is right is because … they haven’t spent when the time *isn’t* right?

            Everything that has occurred so far is entirely consistent with “spending when the time is right.” We can agree/disagree with that approach, but the ownership/front office has done nothing so far to indicate they won’t spend, for example, next offseason.

            • hawkinright

              They have also done nothing to indicated they will spend, for example, next season. As far as the time being right, this seems to keep getting pushed back. We just lost 96 games and our payroll is insanely low, seems like the “right time” to add some legitimate MLB level talent.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                That’s what I’m saying: you believe they won’t do something in the future because they haven’t done anything to indicate they’ll do that thing in the future, even though the future isn’t here and they have no reason to have done anything yet. Makes total sense.

                Perhaps signing a big free agent now would have proved that they plan to sign free agents in the future? Pursuing them, perhaps? Saying that they’ll spend in the future, even? I’m straining a bit to come up with other things that would fit into this humorous scenario where you have to prove the thing you’ll do in the future even though the future is, like, the future.

                • brainiac

                  “the future” is the opiate of the cubs masses

                • cubsfan08

                  How about taking the other side of it. This offseason they sign a bunch of FA’s – older and expensive.

                  Suddenly the doubters rally cry: “they have done nothing this off-season to prove they have the self control to ensure the FA dollars are available when this team is actually ready to compete.” I can easily imagine that argument being made.

                  Boom – the complaint goes from being “Cheap” to “Selfish.” Trying to ensure the knuckleheads come out to the outdoor beer garden so they can turn a profit instead of trying to build a Championship Team.

                  • Kyle

                    Well, you very cleverly shot down that argument no one made. Good job.

                    • cubsfan08

                      Thanks!

              • mjhurdle

                Well, that’s not true.
                they spent money on EJax. That is something that indicates they will spend when they feel the time is right.

                • brainiac

                  every time a fan points to “ejax” as an example of a major signing that helps the team, a baby dies

        • Brocktoon

          Spending a bunch brought us the greatest cubs team since at least 1945. Odds are whenever this plan produces an actual winner in 2023 that team will be worse than the 08 team too

    • hawkinright

      If your going to bring up Tampa and Oakland and not mention Boston, Yanks, Giants, Dodgers, St. Louis, Texas or the many other teams that utilize spendy free agents and succeed.l I’m not sure your argument really stands. Why no mention of Kansas City or San Diego. Are the cubs really doing anything different than what KC has been doing for the past 20 years. Sucking and getting high draft picks is a ground breaking technique, it’s called being cheap.

      • Bill

        Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner.

      • brainiac

        this is right on. i also agree with Brett that they’ll eventually spend, though. my problem is that i hate when people are disingenuous, and “the plan” is a huge disingenuous propaganda campaign to placate bozos into believing that the owners not wanting to do their job is not only good for us, but will pay off with permanent rewards in the afterlife.

        • brainiac

          if they’re going to play cynical business games with chicago tradition, don’t tell us it’s good for us. and don’t tell us making a draft pick is going to pay huge rewards like we’ve never seen before. we have had word for that in my old neighborhood: poser

      • bbmoney

        If the Cubs don’t back up what they’re doing right now with spending in FA to complete out the team once the prospects start coming than you’re right. But all of those teams you’ve listed, when they were having a lot of success had lots of home grown talent that the Cubs were severely lacking:

        Boston: Pedroia, Lester, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Bucholz
        Yankees: Jeter, Rivera, Pettite, Posada, Williams, Cano
        Giants: Posey, Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner
        Cardinals: Pujols, Molina, Craig, Wainwright (well they traded for him when he was still in the minors)
        Dodgers & Texas…well maybe they break the mold more, but KERSHAW, Kemp, Ethier, Andrus, Kinsler, Cruz (when he was good), etc.

        Throw in a few scrap heap acquisitions like Ortiz (waivers), C. Carpenter (bum shoulder), Josh Hamilton (rule V pick and trade and trade), MIke Napoli (seemingly unwanted by LAA and TOR), etc.

        If the Cubs fail to back up the amateur talent acquisition they’re doing now with FA spending then it’s fair to compare them to KC or SanDiego or Pittsburgh. For now I don’t think I can say that with any clarity yet.

        • brainiac

          if/when the cubs start winning without major signings, i’ll gladly eat my words. but until i see *not* results, but the *aspiration* for results, i’m going to be pissed. one can’t predict the future, and no matter how good a team is engineered they might not win the world series. but this whole 5-8 years of not trying thing is anti-sportsmanship. i hate that it’s the same entitlement lifestyle decisions by the same suburban kids we used to make fun of growing up too.

          • bbmoney

            5-8 years is getting ahead of ourselves…no? Even if you’re basing this one when Ricketts took over its hard to say the first year or two they were throwing it. Hell the Matt Garza trade didn’t indictate not trying ont he MLB level that was only 3 years ago.

            Edwin Jackson was the 6th largest signing last off-season in terms of guaranteed dollars. So it’s not as if they haven’t signed anyone since Theo and Co. took over.

            But yeah, if they don’t back this up with spending…probably starting next year….I’ll get pretty pissed too. I think the moves thus far, or lack thereof have been pretty defensible given the circumstances. You can’t just look at what other teams are doing and say…WTF the Cubs should do that, unless you look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding the moves. Or you can, I guess, but it would be silly.

            Of course if you want to blame ownership for some of those circumstances……..some of that may be fair, but I think a lot of it is out of proportion.

            I have no idea why you’re dragging suburban kids pr entitilement lifestyles into this or through the mud

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              “But yeah, if they don’t back this up with spending…probably starting next year….I’ll get pretty pissed too. I think the moves thus far, or lack thereof have been pretty defensible given the circumstances. You can’t just look at what other teams are doing and say…WTF the Cubs should do that, unless you look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding the moves. Or you can, I guess, but it would be silly.”

              Pretty much this, with a side of this, on top of a heaping portion of this.

              • Kyle

                I don’t know how many more years I can listen to “Yeah, they didn’t go for it this offseason, and I understand that, but if they don’t do it next season then I might start to get annoyed” while keeping a straight face. It just keeps getting pushed back every year.

                Unless we get amazing internal development this year, there’s not going to be much spending next year either. A little? Sure. Maybe an Edwin Jackson type on the high end.

                Epstein’s WEEI interview this week laid out again his philosophies, and they match what he’s been telegraphing hard for awhile: He’s only interested in two types of high-level spending.

                1) The unicorn-rarity young FAs that pop up once or twice a year at the most. And Epstein admits that teams are always going to go crazy throwing money at these guys, so it’s not hard to realize that the Cubs are probably not going to be getting any of them.

                2) A Cardinals/Peralta situation, where the Cubs are already in contention thanks to internally developed talent and only want to add one piece to an already contending team.

                There’s never going to be an offseason where they go out and sign 2, 3, 4 guys to long-term deals to make the team competitive. And they are perfectly happy to leave payroll money on the table and not sign any mid-tier guys in the meantime.

                We keep coming back to Patrick Mooney’s report that this year they internally shifted their goal from 2015 to 2016. Their actions continue to match that report more or less perfectly.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Which actions? I see a lot of non-movement that remains equally consistent with a push in 2015 as 2016. Other than that one report, I have seen nothing to suggest otherwise.

                  • Kyle

                    “Which actions? I see a lot of non-movement that remains equally consistent with a push in 2015 as 2016. Other than that one report, I have seen nothing to suggest otherwise.

                    Disagree. The non-movement is completely inconsistent with a team planning to make a push in 2015. If they wanted this team to be competitive in 2015, they needed to make some additions this offseason that might contribute meaningfully in 2015.

                    • ClevelandCubsFan

                      “Completely inconsistent”? That’s a pretty big stretch based on the following:

                      1. As I looked around, there were no FA I was salivating over. Maybe you were. Except Tanaka. Who we apparently pursue hard. There were a couple other interesting names out there, but not on the money they signed for. I’d have said no way. So I’m not sure what moves were available for us that would be reasonable for a team hoping to be competitive for more than 1 year or 2.

                      2. Presuming that we have a key prospect or two in the show before September (and I think 1-2 before September is realistic) and a couple more coming up in September not as a cup of coffee but as preparation for earning a job in 2015 (also realistic, I think), there’s no reason to think we cannot pick up 1-2 key FAs next off-season and be extremely competitive. And that might mean July pick-ups rather than sell-offs (not everything has to be offseason).

                      3. In concert with 1 and 2, next year’s FA class looks much better both for the Cubs needs but also the front office’s philosophy. So why overpay in 2014 when 2015 looks so much better?

                      These 3 facts show the current Cubs offseason moves to be consistent with a very competitive 2015.

                    • Kyle

                      “2. Presuming that we have a key prospect or two in the show before September (and I think 1-2 before September is realistic) and a couple more coming up in September not as a cup of coffee but as preparation for earning a job in 2015 (also realistic, I think), there’s no reason to think we cannot pick up 1-2 key FAs next off-season and be extremely competitive. And that might mean July pick-ups rather than sell-offs (not everything has to be offseason).”

                      Because unless you have an *incredibly* optimistic view of the Cubs prospects’ ability to crush the league as rookies, then “1-2 key FAs” won’t be enough to make this team extremely competitive.

                      “3. In concert with 1 and 2, next year’s FA class looks much better both for the Cubs needs but also the front office’s philosophy. So why overpay in 2014 when 2015 looks so much better?”

                      It really doesn’t look any better. That’s the narrative some are trying to put forth, but a year from now when those pitchers are 30+ and a few of them are hurt and a few more are extended, we’ll have to start talking about how awful the FA class is and how it’s not the FO’s fault that they aren’t really interested in any of them.

                    • brainiac

                      the problem is that the cubs have sucked on the field on and off for a long time. by losing on purpose as a business model, in addition the team now sucks in spirit. what’s lovable about that?

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Gotta agree with Kyle here on FAs. I don’t see many SP headed there and when they do, they’ll cost the Cubs to the tune of 6-7 yr deals.

                • bbmoney

                  So….you agree with me about being upset if they don’t start to back up all they’ve done in acquiring young talent with FA spending soon…kind of like next off-season like I said and brett seemingly agreed with

                  Otherwise I don’t really have a take away from any of that.

                  Epstein is saying exactly what he should be saying. I also don’t freak out about moves in the future because it’s the future and hasn’t happened or not happened yet and we still don’t know how 2014 will play out and impact future plans. Bellyaching about them not signing 2, 3, 4 FAs in future years is just all kinds of pointless. If you want to bellyache about them not doing it yet…fine at least that’s could be construed as rational because it’s at least known.

                  • Kyle

                    I’ve been upset for several offseasons now. And each time, people have said “Yeah, but it didn’t make sense to do it this offseason. If they don’t do it next offseason, then I might start to be upset.”

                    I expect to continue to be upset next offseason. And I expect I’ll hear from people “Yeah, they didn’t do it this offseason but it didn’t make sense. If they don’t spend for 2016, then I might start to get upset.”

                    • bbmoney

                      I don’t recall you being that upset last offseason. I remember you being pretty happy. I really remember you being pretty happy. Like a B+ grade or something happy.

                    • bbmoney

                      And I don’t know what the problem is with really liking those 2 kinds of FA moves Epstein pointed out.

                      That strikes me as exactly what a lot of really successful teams have done lately (other than the first kind of signing which really doesn’t happen much).

                      The Giants have made only those kinds of moves (well since Zito…). The Cardinals make only those kinds of moves. The Red Sox really won last year on those kinds of moves…they got rid of Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez…signed some mid tier FAs (Drew, Victorino, Napoli, etc.) to fill holes and got a whole lot or production from guys that had been around in their organization for years and years, and made some trades using MiLB inventory to get guys mid season too.

                      Literally none of that is out of line with what I expect the Cubs to do moving forward. And hell if they sign a $7B TV deal I’d expect them to do more. If they don’t do it, then I’ll complain. But I’m not going to complain about the past couple years…yet…I think they were needed so that they have the base of talent virtually all successful organizations have had to go on really successful runs.

                    • Jason P

                      Kyle
                      June 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

                      “I fully expect, unless Theo’s got a mega-deal for a major league superstar, for this to be a top-3 farm system in 15 months. Rizzo and Jackson will be the only impact graduations I expect in that timeframe.

                      The trade deadline should add a lot of nice prospect depth, but I don’t expect any major guys to be acquired (no one who would slot into our top-5).

                      I expect us to win the race to the bottom with the Padres and have the 1.1 pick and the biggest IFA draft pool next year. We should be able to add two more top-100 type prospects with those resources.

                      I have a lot of faith in our front office’s developmental abilities, so by the end of next year some of that mass of interesting A-ball and below guys we have will have turned into top-10 organizational prospects as well (like Junior Lake has done recently).

                      So in the offseason lists preceding the 2014 season, I’d think there’s a good chance the Cubs have 5-8 of the top-100 lists.

                      Of course, it’s a *looong* way from that to MLB success, but I’ll take it as a first step.”

                      That doesn’t sound like someone who’s been upset for “several offseasons”.

                    • Kyle

                      “That doesn’t sound like someone who’s been upset for “several offseasons””

                      That’s because I have this annoying habit of intelligently addressing nuance on occasion and not falling into the “you must be for The Plan or against It” mentality.

                      I have never doubted their ability to build an elite farm system, since that is all they seem to want to do. And shockingly, everything I predicted there came true at a time when many people were predicting it would take much longer to get the farm system to these levels.

                    • mjhurdle

                      Well, I have also been upset for several off-seasons. Except for the times I wasn’t.
                      But 100% of the time I was either upset or not upset.

                    • Kyle

                      “Well, I have also been upset for several off-seasons. Except for the times I wasn’t.
                      But 100% of the time I was either upset or not upset.”

                      Never let it be said that I don’t admire a good pithy oversimplification.

                      But I can’t help but notice how many people feel the need to try to shift the debate to a different subject whenever the uncomfortable feeling of criticism actually landing on the front office looms.

                    • Jason P

                      I actually admire that most of what you said would happen did happen. But you weren’t addressing nuance there.

                      You said you would take a top-3 farm system heading into 2014 as a good first step towards ML success. It happened, and you’re not taking it.

                      Besides, what was there to be upset with last offseason? They spent a lot for a team that had no realistic shot of competing in 2014.

                    • bbmoney

                      Who’s shifting the conversation? You said you’d been unhappy for several off-seasons, I mentioned you weren’t all that unhappy last off-season, which was true, and further was pretty clearly part of YOUR topic of conversation. I know that’s a stupid point to make, but if you’re going to criticize others or changing the topic, I’ll point out that it was your topic…I really don’t care if you’re unhappy.

                      Feel free to criticize the FO for their moves to date. But criticizing them for lack of future moves is kind of the path this conversation has gone on and is more than kind of stupid. The main argument for this criticism seems to be, “well they haven’t made the moves so far, so I blame them for not making moves in the future”.

                      Which is really pointless because you don’t yet know they won’t. But more importantly, it misses a ton of context dependent information and oddly just assumes that the past is a perfect indicator of the future despite changes in facts and circumstances.

                    • Kyle

                      “You said you would take a top-3 farm system heading into 2014 as a good first step towards ML success. It happened, and you’re not taking it.”

                      What does “taking” it mean?

                      I’ll take it, but I’m still not happy with the overall direction they’ve chosen for the franchise from the first day they took over.

                      “Besides, what was there to be upset with last offseason? They spent a lot for a team that had no realistic shot of competing in 2014.”

                      I had leftover upset from the offseason before, although their refsual

                      “Who’s shifting the conversation? You said you’d been unhappy for several off-seasons, I mentioned you weren’t all that unhappy last off-season, which was true, and further was pretty clearly part of YOUR topic of conversation. I know that’s a stupid point to make, but if you’re going to criticize others or changing the topic, I’ll point out that it was your topic…I really don’t care if you’re unhappy.”

                      The problem is that I think I am a pretty good authority on how I feel, and trying to deflect the conversation away from that with pointless semantics is just that: deflection.

                      “I was unhappy” is a vague statement. It does not mean “I never, ever posted anything positive.” It does not mean “I never was happy with any part of the situation.” It doesn’t even mean “I was unhappy with what they did specifically in that offseason.”

                      But now we’re talking about the meaning of unhappiness rather than the state of the organization. A deflection well done.

                      “Feel free to criticize the FO for their moves to date. But criticizing them for lack of future moves is kind of the path this conversation has gone on and is more than kind of stupid. The main argument for this criticism seems to be, “well they haven’t made the moves so far, so I blame them for not making moves in the future”.”

                      You’ve missed the point entirely.

                      There was no “criticizing them for future moves they haven’t made.” There was a discussion about predicting whether or not they would make future moves.

                      No value judgment on whether or not those moves should be made was given. The discussion was about predicting whether or not they won’t.

                      “Which is really pointless because you don’t yet know they won’t. But more importantly, it misses a ton of context dependent information and oddly just assumes that the past is a perfect indicator of the future despite changes in facts and circumstances.”

                      It assumes nothing of the sort. It predicts future circumstances and facts and context and then predicts behavior based on that.

                    • Kyle

                      Since it takes a *ton* of scrolling to get back to the top of something like this, here’s a recap:

                      Some people said “Sure, they didn’t put together a bunch of big moves this offseason, but I bet they will next offseason.”

                      I said: “I bet they won’t, and here’s some reasons why.”

                      That’s not criticizing them for not making them (and it’s not not criticizing them either). It’s simply disagreeing with the prediction that they will.

                    • bbmoney

                      That’s a clown summary.

                  • Kyle

                    “I don’t recall you being that upset last offseason. I remember you being pretty happy. I really remember you being pretty happy. Like a B+ grade or something happy.”

                    And I think you may recall that I also said that offseason would have been a lot more meaningful if they weren’t trying to dig out of the hole they’d put themselves in the offseason before.

                    “And I don’t know what the problem is with really liking those 2 kinds of FA moves Epstein pointed out.”

                    The issue at hand today isn’t whether or not to like those moves. It’s whether it’s realistic to think that we’ll do anything significant beyond kicking the tires on those kinds of moves next offseason.

          • brainiac

            theo’s put himself in a position where he either has to admit that he was wrong, that the owners hurt his progress, or continue to lose. at least he makes a lot of money because this is getting closer and closer to a FO egress as soon as these contracts are up. hopefully the new administration will have less of an apocalyptic vision for what’s necessary to run an organization with what basically amounts to practical needs currently being unmet.

        • ssckelley

          Good post and I would like to add that even the small market teams that succeed like the A’s and Rays do not just sit around and wait for the prospects to develop.

          • When The Musics Over

            Wait. Weren’t you just arguing against pre-emptive, as in get competitive pieces in place, free agent signings yesterday?

        • bbmoney

          Now that I think of it Texas got some of those guys after trading Texiera to the Braves…..example of MLB player for minor league talent acquisition which they then backed up with FA spending when the talent came up.

          obviously we can’t say the cubs will do that yet with any certainty, but I certainly won’t say they aren’t going to either.

  • Zimmer

    Shark for Nick Franklin would be fine by me.

    • YourResidentJag

      Can Franklin play 2b or 3b? If he can, I do that immediately.

      • Xruben31

        You 2 are joking right? Nick Franklin for Shark? Straight up? That’s terrible…

        • YourResidentJag

          No. No your suggestion it’s terrible is terrible. Actually, I don’t think the M’s would do it.

          • Jason P

            That’s absurd. The Mariners would jump out of their shoes for a deal like that.

            • Patrick W.

              The Mariners would fall over after doing 35 cartwheels for that deal.

              • YourResidentJag

                Actually, I really believe that only one high quality major leaguer could come from a Shark trade….the rest very well may be nothing more than AAAA players. What’s more absurd that or the fact that ppl still think we can get both Sanchez and Stroman for him?

                • Jason P

                  Well sure. But Nick Franklin isn’t exactly a high quality major leaguer.

            • YourResidentJag

              Yeah, right. We’re talking about Jack Z. You would do that deal if you were him. He won’t. Also, I believe there’s a LOT of truth to the PECOTA projections for Shark. If I’m right, the Cubs will be lucky to get Franklin in any deal.

              • Jason P

                Put it this way. If Nick Franklin is the best they can get for Samardzija, then the Cubs are best served holding onto him for at least another year and a half and taking their chances.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Let me state my argument more rationally. According to this article: http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/jeff-samardzijas-two-bad-months/–the author couldn’t figure out Shark’s inconsistencies insomuch as to say they occurred consistently during the mid-summer months over the past two years and were due to a spike in BB rate and HR rate. Now, if that’s true and that’s what the FO plans on selling to other FOs before the deadline, Nick Franklin might very well be an equal return. Look at it from the point of view of other FOs. How easy of a sell to your owner do think it would be coming off Shark’s June 2012 and July 2013 months?

                  Yes, your right about keeping him, then, unless of course the FO could move him this offseason. In a Seattle trade, with how screwed up internally that organization is, they lowball the hell out of that trade…so Franklin makes sense if you feel he could be a 2 WAR player at 2b. If you don’t (and I respect all counterarguments), then you look to another team. And it would be wise based on all of this for Theo to HIGHLY consider Stroman as the centerpiece of a package for Shark from Toronto.

                  • Brocktoon

                    I wouldn’t trade Ryan Sweeney for nick franklin

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Well, good for you. ;)

    • cubfanincardinalland

      The Mariners really wish you running the Cubs then. Why would the Cubs even need Franklin, they have Baez, Alcantrara, Olt, Bryant right now as infielders?

      • YourResidentJag

        Olt may not play as a regular, Bryant (according to Parks will play better as a corner OF), Baez is suited for LF, and Alcantara has problems it would appear being nothing more that a UT IF. So, the Cubs are stocked with IFs, you say???

        • Drew7

          I understand the concerns that Bryant *may* end up in the outfield, but Baez? Are there scouts that think that about him?

          • YourResidentJag

            His high error rate is pause for concern. Parks has stated that he noticed Baez still having difficulties making in game adjustments.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            Baez’s defense at SS projects to be average, which is pretty much where Castro is too. But Baez projects much better defensively at third with posible gold glove potential. It’s simply a waiting game to see how Barney and Olt do, and also to see if Baez dominates like he did last year. I could foresee him at either second or third, depending on which position is getting the least offensive production. I seriously don’t think Bryant could play third base better than Baez defensively so IMO Bryant is destined to the outfield unless Castro is traded. And that may well be what happens.

  • Diehardthefirst

    This obsession over Shark has lowered the bar on excellence- what has he done to deserve such attention? He’s not even a journeyman yet !

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      He’s a guy who CAN dominate, has tremendous upside, has low mileage on his arm, and is on the right side of 30. As far as realistic trade targets go, he’s about as good as it gets right now (- Price).

  • Medicos

    By 2016 Bryant will be the starting right fielder and Baez will wind up at third base.

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