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ryan dempster backAfter 16 years in the big leagues, more of them spent with the Chicago Cubs than with any other team, Ryan Dempster’s career may be over. He announced today that he will not pitch in 2014 (forgoing his $13.25 million salary with the Red Sox), and may not pitch again thereafter. The reasons for stepping away sound like they may be health and family-related (he wants to spend more time with his kids), and hopefully all is well with his family (we know that his daughter, Riley, suffers from DiGeorge Syndrome).

I know that Dempster frayed the goodwill of some Cubs fans by using his no-trade rights back in 2012, but it was a complex decision at the time, and he’d earned those rights. Ultimately, he did approve a trade to the Rangers, which allowed the Cubs to acquire Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva – both borderline top ten prospects in a very good Cubs system.

Before that trade, Dempster was an effective closer and starter for the Cubs, and was part of the great Cubs teams in the late-2000s. I remember his time with the Cubs fondly, and I hope things go well for him in the future.

For those looking for a transaction-related connection here, I don’t see much of one, other than possibly freeing up cash to allow the Red Sox to re-sign Stephen Drew with impunity. They’ve already got a full rotation, so the free agent starters (or Jeff Samardzija) don’t seem to make too much sense for them (unless they part with another starter in the interim).

  • waittilthisyear

    dempster was a bulldog for the cubs. any fans that still harbor resentment for him for exercising his no trade clause despite all the good he brought to the franchise should rethink their position, he was a great cub

  • Rich H

    I think that the implications for the Cubs are pretty simple. One less arm on the market because Boston no longer has the depth to move a starter.

  • cubsfan1594

    Great player, but an even better person, glad he can go out on top and hope his neck issues don’t bother him in the future

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      As a player, I disagree that he was great. As a person, I disagree with you even more. He did good things as a person, but was not a good person.

      • YourResidentJag

        So you knew him personally? Life happens. His daughter incurred serious health problems after birth…if he’s retire for some of those reasons, he can hardly be blamed for that.

        • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          What does knowing him personally have to do with not making him out to be this great person that he said he was? I just said he did good things, but was not a great person. He said he was a great player. I disagreed. Tell me where I am wrong. Same goes for guy below here. Do a quick google search again, if you feel that way. He did some really good things and I applaud him for those, but he was not saint.

          • YourResidentJag

            What does knowing him personally have to do with not making him out to be this great person that he said he was?

            Well, first of all your convoluted argument about him: As a player, I disagree that he was great. As a person, I disagree with you even more. He did good things as a person, but was not a good person.

            And secondly your making the judgement call about that you’re accusing me of doing, right?

            • YourResidentJag

              about *him

      • Threat Level Midnight

        The same could be said for all of us, including you.

        • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          That is true, but nobody is acting like I am a saint. Plus, I never cheated on my wife.

      • Voice of Reason

        You know your favorite baseball team sucks when you go to a message board site and there is debate about whether or not a pitcher is a good guy. The pitcher in question hasn’t been with the team for almost two years now.

        Damn…. who cares about Dempster and whether he is a good guy or good person.

        • brainiac

          the worst part is that they suck on purpose for no reason. that’s the thing i can’t get over. once that changes i’ll probably chillax a bit more about them.

        • mjhurdle

          you should really get out more.
          These types of discussions happen on every single team’s message board.
          Here in STL they are still debating whether Rasmus was a baby or if TLR should be blamed for running him out of town.

        • another JP

          Because everything you spew on a daily basis is soooo relevant and earth-shattering. L.M.F.A.O…

  • baldtaxguy

    I was always impressed with him coming back from TJ and going to the bullpen and being a great closer in 2005, then transitioning back to be a very good starter. I liked him and his sense of humor, and hated his decision making in 2012, but it was evident he had more priorities going on than baseball, and likely still does. $13m is a lot of dough.

  • Mike

    I love the way he told the Sox about him not playing this year. “Skip, you’ll have to find another opening day starter”. Classic Dempster. It’s a bummer to see him go, he was one of my favorites.

  • Boogens

    “I know that Dempster frayed the goodwill of some Cubs fans by using his no-trade rights back in 2012…”

    This isn’t really accurate. Dempster didn’t invoke his no-trade rights. He complained saying he needed a few days to mull it over and dragged his heels long enough so that the Braves pulled out of the deal.

    “any fans that still harbor resentment for him for exercising his no trade clause despite all the good he brought to the franchise should rethink their position, he was a great cub”

    Not going to happen. The FO did plenty to keep him dialed into the situation and he knew for months that he was going to be traded. He said that he would support whatever was best for the team. He even brought out all of his buddies on Wrigley Field after a game for a last look around. Despite all that he still acted like a baby when he was traded (the first time).

    Just look how quickly and decisively Soriano invoked his rights to the Gaints and compare that to Dempster’s situation. We may have wished that Soriano had accepted the trade but there wasn’t any subsequent drama or hard feelings because he didn’t let it linger.

    So, no, I won’t re-think my position. I don’t hold anything against Dempster but all of the goodwill he built up with me over the years quickly disappeared and I won’t consider him a great Cub.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      What Dempster said is that he would consider any trade. He considered it. For all we know, he might have taken it if the Braves hadn’t jumped the gun on announcing the deal, too. (That written, Dempster did have an unrealistic expectation that the Dodgers would take him.)

      • Boogens

        I understand what you’re saying but that’s just conjecture at this point. Based on how it played out it was very unlikely that he would have accepted the trade to the Bravees because the FO had to have Dempster sit in one the Dodger discussions to hear them say they didn’t want him. It’s like they had to force this on him to burst his bubble.

        • baldtaxguy

          He fudged it up, no question about it. Hammer and nail and him missing the nail a few times and all that. Its your right to take that event and dismiss his accomplishments as a Cub, but I don’t see it overriding what he meant to this organization. Did his indecision set back the team? Not even marginally. If Delgado wins the Cy Young, then I’ll start grousing, but for now water under the bridge.

          • waittilthisyear

            my sentiment exactly baldtaxguy

          • Boogens

            Hi BTG,

            It’s not so much about Delgado or Hendricks. My issue is that he was disingenuous. He presented himself as one way but acted in a different way altogether. He just acted like a… weenie. I have a hard time rooting for him now.

    • Baseball_Writes

      Ryan Dempster was worth 20 WAR for the Cubs over 9 seasons, including 7 in 2008. And 4 of those seasons were as a reliever. In the end, he netted them 2 very good prospects. Ryan Dempster did a ton of charity work in the Chicago community, and he was an entertaining and an all-round good guy (as I found out when I met him while he was out jogging one morning).

      You are upset that he did not get you a couple of prospects who were a little better? I think a more logical approach would be look at the good, know that is outweighs the bad by an awful lot, and be thankful for everything he did.

      Yes?

      • brainiac

        i think this is right. and he was able to get a ring at the end of his career too. kudos.

      • Matt

        This is right. People can cry about the whole 2012 incident all they want, but he’d earned those 10 and 5 rights. He did exactly what he said he would do in considering the deal and ultimately the Braves pulled it out without giving him much time to consider. A major part of the problem had to be the media reporting on it well before news had even gotten to Dempster about it. As a whole, there’s very little to be upset with Dempster about when you really consider everything from everyone’s perspective instead of just selfishly considering it from our own perspective.

        The bottom line is that he was a model citizen for the Cubs. He was a player that even White Sox fans seemed to really like because he was a great representative of the city with all of the charity work he did and with his light hearted personality despite many of the things he had to go through in his personal life.

        • YourResidentJag

          Well put.

  • arta

    i’m sure he won’t miss the $13M.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      he can thank jim hendry for that!

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Must be nice to walk away from 13 million. I wish he and his family the best.

  • brainiac

    i was resolutely anti-dumpster for a couple years. but over time the administrative logic of the team has changed my view of him. this administration has gotten off on the wrong foot with every single player that was there when they arrived. now i think he was giving them some deserved payback for manhandling him. give hendry credit again, players loved him and came to the team just based upon his pitches. theo can’t pitch a tent without his staff, and then he threatens to fire them.

    • Chef Brian

      Are you serious? Man, you need to give a rest.

    • DarthHater

      My parents named me Tom, but the fact that Ricketts is also named Tom has changed my view of the name. I’m going to change my name to Hitler and let the parents take the blame. Deserved payback. :-P

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Kids today wouldn’t get that reference. Try “Voldemort” instead: besides, it works better with having “Tom” issues.

      • brainiac

        lol

    • notcubbiewubbie

      pass the crack pipe please!!

  • Brocktoon

    I’ll never forgive him for his terrible harry caray impersonation

  • Blackhawks1963

    Dempster? The same guy who got shelled by the Dodgers in the 2008 playoffs and proceeded to state, “I wasn’t ready for playoff baseball.” Dempster? The same guy who stood behind his daughter’s illness while his wife did all the work and he was seen out on the town several days a week with a different girlfriend on his arm (to include at the Hawks games, where it became routine for us to point the binoculars up to the skybox he sat in to check out his latest eye candy). Dempster, the same prima donna who made Theo and Jed twist in the wind during the July 2012 trade deadline.

    Be careful your heroes.

    • Baseball_Writes

      I haven’t seen one person here call him a hero. I think it is extremely easy to look at a person, find a few flaws, and judge them based on those particular shortcomings. But, when you look at the overall player and person, the needle points to the positive.

      We all have flaws. In the end we should all hope we are judged by our completeness of character, not just a few character flaws.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Now you’re just making stuff up. Dempster *literally* said he was prepared for the Dodgers game, physically and mentally: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081001&content_id=3579511&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=chc

      As for the other stuff, I think it’s a shame that folks like to pretend they know strangers so well.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It is rather remarkable that so many people credit themselves with better insights into human behavior than the best-trained FBI profilers would claim to have!

        • DarthHater

          Dempster is being tracked by the FBI? I knew I was right having doubts about that guy.

  • Forgetting Sean Marshall

    Ryan was probably the nicest Cub I have ever met. He signed autographs every times I saw him not playing, he would grab an extra baseball every time he walked around the Spring Training complex and seek out a kid to give it to, and would spend a lot of time interacting with fans. I wish more players were as friendly as Ryan was, I witnessed this during multiple trips to AZ and at Wrigley.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      I was playing in a poker game on a Friday night at the old President Casino on the St. Louis riverfront many years ago. Dempster and a friend came into the game after the ball game that night. I played for a while, and I finally asked him, hey aren’t you Dempster from the Cubs. He said yeah.
      This was only a 3-6 limit game, so the pots were maybe $100 tops. I mentioned to him that don’t you make a lot of money, this game is kind of chicken feed isn’t it?
      He laughed and said yeah, but I just want to take all your boys money, jokingly. Whenever he would win a pot that night, he would hoop and holler, and then buy a round of drinks for the whole table. He also offered to leave tickets for the game the next day to anybody who wanted them. We all had a blast, hell of a nice guy.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    wow all the cubbiewubbies are out tonight defending st. ryan dumpster!! all this sentimental crap over an overpaid average ballplayer.do you really think ryan dempster cares about any one of us and our personal problems?? this would be a better place to discuss our favorite team if we would just stick to baseball.

    • Forgetting Sean Marshall

      I didn’t post to talk about my love affair with dempster, I just saw a lot of people saying he was a jerk or bashing him. Did he serve his purpose as a pitcher then trade bait for the cubs? yep. Does he appear to be a genuinely nice guy? Yep. Do I think about him on a daily basis or care about his feelings and if he cares about mine? Nope. Just sharing stories about what I have observed over the years of being a cubs fan.

      • YourResidentJag

        Awesome screen name, BTW!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Love the handle.

  • Sterling Archer

    If the late 2000s Cubs teams are what passes for “great” for this franchise, then I don’t even want to see what mediocre looks like.

    • Brocktoon

      Well, that ’08 team at least was great.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        For 5 months, yes. They were pretty bad the last month of the season.

  • jonez33

    Dempster is one of my favorite cubs. He never took himself too seriously and was a class act. I saw him sign an autograph or pose for a picture for everyone who wanted one from the left field foul pole to the dugout in Atlanta on his off day. He was just out there running and working out. The season was pretty much over and he was out there signing and posing for us fans. He is just a really cool guy. The kind of player we still need on this team to mentor the youngsters.

  • Jon

    Boogens summed it up well, it’s not soley about his 10/5 rights, he jerked Theo and Jed around big time in 2012

  • bobdawg78

    Looks like Bailey might be coming off the market. Word is he’s close to inking a 6 year deal worth around 100 million.

    • blublud

      I doubt thats true. 6/100 for Bailey is a huge underlay.

    • Jon

      But hey it’s ok! We put some away for that big time FA in 2015!

  • cubbiehawkeye

    Dempster was awesome. He threw BP to Red Sox fans after the World Series win…thats just awesome.

  • Kyle

    Indians’ beat writer

    paul hoynes ‏@hoynsie 22m
    Heard Reds getting close to 6-year deal in $100 million range with Homer Bailey. Bound to influence Indians talks with Justin Masterson.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Could you hear my expletive coming through your window?

      • Kyle

        No, it’s OK because there’s like four starting pitchers we might want next year and none of them will sign extensions and we’ll buy like half the market.

        *poke because I love*

        • When The Musics Over

          In this market trade and signs to fill majors holes are looking like a more common reality. Alot of people thought it was nuts to explore a trade for someone such as Bailey, as you’d essentially be double paying, but there is now less possible avenues to attain young star level players.

          Also, this furthers the sign em’ when they’re available mantra. There are so many people that are vehement backers of waiting until the last minute (offseason) to fill in the major holes.

          Of course, this is all assuming this is a valid rumor.

          P.S. – I can’t see Shields becoming a Cub. Signing him would shit in the face of everything this front office has been saying the past few years, which is paying huge amounts of money for well past prime free agents. If it were to happen, it would reek of desperation.

          • Jon

            We could just keep rolling the money over until we find that “magic FA” that doesn’t exist. It’s like a ponzi scheme.

            • When The Musics Over

              Theoretically, it did exist in Tanaka. He was the white whale.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Um, that’s not remotely like a Ponzi scheme.

          • Kyle

            Well, the tricky part is that when teams like CIncinatti have money to extend their players like Bailey, then there aren’t as many to trade for.

            The mega-TV deals only provided a big advantage to the first few teams to get them. By now, enough teams have them that the revenue sharing to small-market teams is going up considerably, meaning fewer quality players reach free agency.

            Once again, the Cubs have missed the window for a major competitive advantage.

            • Jon

              Scherzer is a pipe dream too. There is a reason Detroit moved Fister and Prince. He isn’t going anywhere.

              • When The Musics Over

                Strangely enough, whether right or wrong, he actually might be too old for this front office’s fancy. Near past prime starting pitcher, with decent mileage (and what many have said is an injury heightening delivery), seeking 20M+ per year for 5+ years. There are always exceptions, but assuming desperation is not a variable, that doesn’t sound like a combo this front office would prefer to be involved in.

            • When The Musics Over

              Wasn’t it a common held belief around here that the Reds were strapped for cash, and that they’d already peeked? This is a sarcastic question.

              Weren’t the Reds recently reported to be shopping Bailey? This is a real question.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                For what it’s worth, the Reds extending Bailey would not change my assessment of their future at all. They were always going to be able to keep at least one of Bailey/Latos/Leake.

                • When The Musics Over

                  After taking a closer look at the Reds contracts, alot of contract money is falling off the books after the 2015 season. I think Lagos could probably be squeezed in. If most of Phillips can be moved as well (Yankees), that would be even more.

                  Also, I’ve randomly said this a couple of times recently, but the Reds farm system is much better than people think.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            “Also, this furthers the sign em’ when they’re available mantra.”

            But that has been a bigger part of the problem: there haven’t been good starters available. 2011/12 was a very weak FA class: CJ Wilson was the best one available, and we had to be very afraid about a guy who gave up 50% flyballs coming to Wrigley. Jackson was available, but the Cubs got him the next year. Kuroda was available, but he was already 36 or 37. Buerhle was available, but he was already 110 or 111 (and really had not been very good in a while, too). So, it’s not like the FO passed up on a chance to even add any solid piece to the rotation that they couldn’t add later.

            The 2012/13 class was also pretty weak. Greinke was by far the best, and he wanted to go to the west coast. After that was Sanchez: and we all know what happened there. Kuroda re-signed with the Yanks. McCarthy might have been interesting (good when healthy!), but that really is it for the remainder. Again, neither the Cubs nor any other FO passed up on a chance to really rebuild a pitching staff.

            And then there was the 2013/14 class. The #1 guy there has yet to pitch in MLB. Nobody is willing to give up even a 2nd round pick for Santana or Jimenez. Burnett is a pure flip candidate at this point.

            That’s the new SP reality: if you want it, then you have to develop players from within right now, either for the pitchers themselves, or to trade for pitching. We get to keep crossing possible FA’s off of the list, too: and a big part of the reason for that is because the FO’s of these pitchers current teams know fully well that they won’t be able to replace these guys on the FA market or without giving up half of their farm.

            • YourResidentJag

              Except that Ryu may have been one of those SPs…the Cubs missed out on him as well.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Ryun wasn’t a free agent.

                • YourResidentJag

                  No, Ryun wasn’t. :)

                • Jon

                  Hyun-jin Ryu? He was a FA, subject to the old posting rules.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Free agents can negotiated with any team. Ryu could not do that.

                    • Jon

                      You are splitting hairs in regards to Jagoff’s point. Ryu could be bid on by any team in professional baseball. They all had the same access and playing field. So, yes, it can be qualified as a “missed opportunity” by the Cubs.

            • When The Musics Over

              I wasn’t speaking only to free agent Starting Pitchers. There are waves of people that believe the Cubs should wait until the last minute to sign just about any major free agent, regardless of position.

              • BT

                Not the last minute, but in a time-frame that makes sense. Put in perspective, lets say the Cubs gave in to Cespedes’ demands and signed him to a four year deal. As of now, his deal would be half over, and in all likelihood the Cubs still are not sniffing the playoffs even with him on the team this year. At best, for their free agent dollars they might get one year that matters out of him. If he was available right now, a four year contract would make a lot more sense. Two years ago, it didn’t.

                My guess is that next year, the Cubs, even if they stink this year, will be more open to signing 30 year old and older free agents.

                • YourResidentJag

                  I’m not sure Choo fits that narrative of yours but I’m willing to give you a pass in part because of that 7 yr deal he signed.

                  • BT

                    Yes, you answered your own question. To be honest, I have no idea if the front office will EVER be handing out 7 year contracts to 30 year olds, as it’s a terrible idea in general. It’s possible it might work, but usually you end up paying a lot of money for a guy’s declining years.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Not really. The question is: Can Choo’s OBP and hitting abilties hold up throughout those 7 yrs? It could certainly supercede the notion of “the front office will EVER be handing out 7 year contracts to 30 year olds, as it’s a terrible idea in general. It’s possible it might work, but usually you end up paying a lot of money for a guy’s declining years.”

                    • BT

                      Not really what? Are you arguing 7 year contracts for over 30 year olds are a good idea? Yes, it’s possible Choo works out. I wouldn’t bank on it. His most similar batter at age 29 and 30 according to baseball reference was Bernard Gilkey, and things did not end well for him. His similar batters through age 30 list does not offer a lot of hope either, at least for making an impact to age 37.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Are Not really what? Are you arguing 7 year contracts for over 30 year olds are a good idea?

                      I think you’ve missed the point. Can someone with Choo’s particular skill set in terms of OBP, hitting ability, fair defense abilities especially in corner outfield, and LH batting can outlast the majority of that contract? There are folks in the sabermetric community who feel that way, regardless of who Bernard Gilkey is. I think you’re overgeneralizing contracts for 30 yr olds for multiple years. For SP, I totally agree….it’s precarious. For offensive players like Choo, I remain on the fence. So, if I can’t make up my mind, how have I answered my own question?

                    • BT

                      You answered your own question by pointing out the fact it was a seven year deal. Whether or not you think Choo will age gracefully is beside the point. You don’t need to make up your mind. The fact is, the Cubs aren’t handing out contracts to 30 years olds at this time, and they certainly aren’t handing out 7 year contracts to 30 year olds at this time.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Except, that I can’t because of Choo’s unique skill set.

                      they certainly aren’t handing out 7 year contracts to 30 year olds at this time.

                      And that is true and possibly unfortunate as well.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  A minor point, but it isn’t clear that Cespedes’ agent ever even turned to the Cubs, Dodgers, etc. and said “we now have a deal for the same $$$ as you are offering, but over only 4 years.”. That came so late that the teams who had been in on Cespedes from the start would never have believed it.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  The Cubs probably still will not be offering such deals to 30 year-olds for one simple reason: no NL teams are doing that. It seems to be constantly overlooked that these guys are amost always (if not simply always) signing with AL teams.

                  Indeed, it seems that very few big-name FA batters have signed with NL teams so far this decade! (I cannot honk of any, but it is 1 AM.)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I know you’re poking, but just to be clear to anyone wondering – I *definitely* never said they’d all reach FA, and never said the Cubs *would* go after more than one. Only that some would, and the Cubs could.

          I just thought Bailey was the most likely of all to be there.

          • When The Musics Over

            I know, you’ve been very cautiously optimistic.

            As for Bailey, you can I have, perhaps even more than once, professed our Bailey love.

            Here’s to hoping it’s not true, however, if anything this type of rumor does show how quickly the presumed future can change, and how big of an impact it can have on a long term plan that involves heavy dice rolling (for the record, I think ownership has been the catalyst/cause behind alot of those roles).

          • Kyle

            I was referencing the post-Tanaka “it’s not that bad, look at next year’s FA market” tweets more than the recent “would the Cubs go after guys next year” arguments.

    • blublud

      Isn’t that a huge underpay, especially considering the new market prices.

  • David

    Aghh. Would’ve really liked to have Bailey.

  • RITZ

    I met Mr Dempster at his charity foundation for 22q11.2 deletion syndrome fundraiser at Joe’s Stone Crab House River North. Ryan was a true gentleman as we happened to offer Cashner, Russell and their crew some seats at our table, he kidded us about the company we kept! He stayed to just talk and was sincerely a good guy!
    Wish him well as no doubt he will do TV for someone with that big personality. He pitched well for the Cubs.

  • another JP

    Dempster turned out to be a pretty good player for the Cubs and if Kyle Hendricks is anything close to the pitcher I hope he is we’ll be very pleased with Texas trade.

  • Jon

    So the market will likely be down to

    Max Scherzer
    Justin Masterson
    James Shields

    I’m sure Scherzer wants to leave a WS contender to come play for a dump of a team that just lost 97 games. So then it’s Masterson and Shields, and Shields will be 33 by Opening Day 2015! Wooooo!!!

    • Baseball_Writes

      I am wondering if you are ever going to post something that furthers a conversation or is productive in any way. Do you have plans to do that any time soon?

      • Jon

        It actually does further conversation, it begs the question, what will actually be on the market next year or the year after.
        Ironically, I’ve never seen an original thought from you other than complaining about other being too negative or patting Brett on the back…”Baseball Writes” about what ?

        • Baseball_Writes

          Guess that’s a “no”. Should’ve just said that and saved your breath.

          • Kyle

            He did further the conversation. Just because you don’t want to hear anything negative doesn’t make it irrelevant.

      • YourResidentJag

        So, what of it? What if we learn, once Sherzer is out on the market, that most certainly the Cubs have the $$ to sign him but he won’t meet the criteria for signing with us that is FO policy? What if the FO, much like other FOs, doesn’t believe in signing FA SPs on the other side of 30 to more than 5 years without NTCs, or that the 6th year is a club option? And other teams are willing to give him 6 yrs with a NTC. That’s a realistic possibility.

        • Kyle

          Well, the issue is twofold.

          First, without a significant infusion of outside SP help, it is very unlikely that the Cubs will be able to field a strong, playoff-quality team in 2015. Whether they are either willing to get that infusion or capable of doing so if they try is up for debate.

          Second, it remains possible that the Cubs will need to look outside the organization for significant SP help beyond just 2015. It’s gotten better, but pitching is still a weakness organizationally, and we may find that we have trouble fielding a good enough pitching staff to support the kind of sustained success we hope to have long-term.

    • Jason P

      And Masterson hasn’t even been ace-good 3 of the past 5 years.

      Increasingly it’s becoming obvious that you can’t count on free agency for that missing ace pitcher.

  • Carl9730

    This is another example of the “plan’s” shortcomings. The notion that we’ll just wait to deal with this SP deficiency til we’re “ready” is asinine. In the meantime, the vaunted ’15 FA class of arms is slowly getting locked up. For many with blind faith, you’re gonna need to realize that acquiring the SP that we’ll need is going to require pain , either in the form of $ or painful prospect trades…..

    • Jon

      The Peoples Temple had a “plan” too.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Yes they did and they drank the Kool-Aid too!

        • brainiac

          scientology has a plan, and it’s the television show “lost”

  • Blackhawks1963

    Scratch Homer Bailey off next winter’s wish list. Closing in a 6 year deal to stay with the Reds.

  • notsnud

    I went to a cubs game in Seattle a couple years back and stayed in the same hotel as his family. I talked to his wife and kids one morning at the hotel pool and we started talking cubs. When she left I thought it strange she asked me what my room number was? Two days later I checked out and their was a Ryan Dempster signed baseball left at the front desk for me and my buddy. Thought that was pretty cool.

    • Greenroom

      Great story about Dempster. thanks for sharing it. What a cool dude.

  • Carl9730

    Where is Kyle? Figured he’d have a field day with another setback for the “plan”….

    • Kyle

      I’m way ahead of you, but it’s not a setback to The Plan, because signing guys like Bailey is not in The Plan at all

      • When The Musics Over

        I agree with you on just about everything, but I think there is a good chance someone like Bailey does fit within the seemingly ever-narrowing confines of the plan. That is why I view a move like this, if true, as a blow. But if I’m wrong, which often carries a pretty decent probability, then at this point, WTF does fit within the plan?

        • YourResidentJag

          I think Kyle is right about Bailey based on his age and metrics. I’ve seen some analysis that doesn’t put Bailey much higher than Shark.

          • When The Musics Over

            I agree that Bailey and Shark are probably about even, though I’d give Shark big money as well, or at least similar to Bailey after adjusting for the arbitration years.

            Either way, I’m not sure that Kyle was knocking on Bailey as much as he was talking to the limited fit of the Cubs plan.

            • YourResidentJag

              I don’t think he was knocking Bailey, but suggesting his age will be a consideration as I noted above with my Scherzer example.

              • When The Musics Over

                Bailey is just about a full 2 years younger than Scherzer. If the Cubs are opposed to signing 29 year old starting pitchers to 5 year deals, then the plan really is quite narrow and they truly are operating scared. I hope that’s not the case.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Not 5 yr deals. More than 5 year deals potentially with NTCs.

  • Carl9730

    Kyle , it just underscores the silly notion of “plan” apologists that Epstoyer is the only management team with any strategic vision. I think many of the faithful have this vision of the other 29 GMs as hapless idiots , waiting to have Epstoyer pick their pockets and snag all the “value” FAs. I guess the interesting thing is going to be watching the reaction of people on these boards when they have to cough up some of the prized prospects to acquire viable SP. In the meantime, we can all get worked up about our growing collection of impacts pen arms. Sigh….

    • Jason P

      Nobody thinks that. If the other 29 GM’s were ‘hapless idiots” we’d be good by now.

      • YourResidentJag

        It may not be that we think all of them are….but Brett has made the argument that the Cubs have the BEST FO in baseball, which I’m not sure I buy, and there’s been a lot of joking on here about how other GMs are taking Kevin Towers to the cleaners this offseason.

        • Kyle

          The whole “The Cubs front office is the best!!” thing drives me nuts.

          We’re not the only team building state-of-the-art facilities, we’re not the only team targetting prospects, and our front office isn’t the only one with some success on their resumes.

          • Jason P

            Anyone who thinks our front office is head and shoulders above the competition is kidding themselves, but I don’t think that’s the majority. I think the Cubs have a very good front office — much better than the previous one — that’s right up there with the other very good front offices in baseball.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I don’t recall Brett arguing that the Cubs have the best front office.

          A very good one, a very smart one, one with the discipline to stick to the long term plan, and arguably the best in team history, but not the best overall. I’m pretty sure he’s pointed out other very good, very well run front offices several times as examples of the sort of things we can expect the Cubs to do as they continue to move towards sustained competitiveness.

          It’s worth pointing out, though, that thinking that the Cubs have a pretty good front office does not mean one automatically thinks that all other teams are run by idiots or that no other team has any kind of a plan.

          • brainiac

            they’re basically doing the oakland and tampa approach for a big market team. the difference is that they’re not as smart as those guys, and aren’t good about selecting “that one forgotten player” to anchor with the youngsters. they just scour waiver lines hoping they’ll hit 21 in the draw.

            at least theo isn’t re-signing jd drew. for the record i think crawford was overpaid but i would have wanted him too.

            • YourResidentJag

              I don’t buy that premise, either. What they may have done though is that, when they need additional wins that the farm system can’t provide, they may have a difficult time finding those wins in key positions. Going from a 75-80 win team can be considered incremental success. That’s why we hear the mantra “But FAs now would only get them 80 wins and so on and so on, so I really doesn’t matter.” However, when you go up the win column, (and possibly later on in that FA’s contract that they should have considered early on) the difference in 5 wins becomes a lot more critical. IF they miss out on their calculations, and after a long drought of no postseasons, that could really be a potential misfire.

              • brainiac

                i agree with this, and frankly i’ve enjoyed their comedy of errors this offseason. no matter what they would have done, spare sign cano AND tanaka, this team was going to be horrible next year. it’s a lot more fun to point to the contours of just how horrible they’ll be than bask in potential mediocrity.

                it’s all in bad faith and bad planning, but sometimes that’s just the breaks. it’s still entertainment.

          • YourResidentJag

            “I don’t recall Brett arguing that the Cubs have the best front office.”

            He did to me…look in the archives.

            “A very good one, a very smart one, one with the discipline to stick to the long term plan, and arguably the best in team history, but not the best overall. I’m pretty sure he’s pointed out other very good, very well run front offices several times as examples of the sort of things we can expect the Cubs to do as they continue to move towards sustained competitiveness.”

            Yes, I believe he feels this way and your statement can be backed up by Brett, himself. Totally agree.

            “It’s worth pointing out, though, that thinking that the Cubs have a pretty good front office does not mean one automatically thinks that all other teams are run by idiots or that no other team has any kind of a plan.”

            Never said that so I think your insinuation actually furthers the point you claim others don’t think through the use of conditional language — “ALL OTHER TEAMS are run by idiots or that NO OTHER TEAM has any kind of a plan.”

            My point was to suggest that others shouldn’t cling to the premise you’re suggesting.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              ““I don’t recall Brett arguing that the Cubs have the best front office.”

              He did to me…look in the archives.”

              No. What I said was that people supporting the Ricketts ownership could make the argument that, among other things they’ve done, they brought in the best front office in baseball. I didn’t say this IS the best front office.

              That said … I think the Cubs might have the best front office in baseball. Would I use that as the predicate to argue that the Cubs, therefore, must have success in their plan where other teams will fail? Hell no. Those are completely separate concepts.

              • http://obstructedview.net Myles

                I don’t think there’s any way the Cubs have the best FO in baseball. That’s not a knock on the Cubs, who (I believe) have one of the better FO’s in the game. It’s just that there’s really no argument in my opinion; it’s the Rays, then a sizable gap, then the A’s/Cardinals/Rangers, and then everyone else. If I could trade our FO with any of those 4 orgs, I’d do it more-or-less instantly.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  I don’t think anyone would argue with the track records of those orgs, but the Cards had a pretty significant brain drain when Jeff Luhnow left, which hasn’t quite yet filtered through. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who insisted the A’s and Rays had the top group, and the Rangers and Cards would be the other two I would cite. But the combination of minds the Cubs have brought in haven’t had much time together to actually see the fruits of their efforts show – I think we can agree that the things that a FO does well probably don’t show up for more than a couple years (especially if the comparison is to orgs you mentioned, where what is most impressive if the long-term, year-in-and-out quality).

                  I think it’s a great discussion, but one that is probably hard to find a “right” answer.

                  • http://obstructedview.net Myles

                    That’s a fair point. I just think it’s an extraordinary achievement in Tampa, where they’ve averaged 91.7 wins in the past 6 years with no payroll at all. It took Friedman only 2 years in the GM seat (2006 and 2007) before he turned it around. I know it’s not directly comparable given the changes in the landscape of baseball, but they more-or-less haven’t stopped being an absolute force in in the toughest division to compete in with NO dollars. The A’s have had a similar trajectory, though they had a significant stretch where they had to retool. The Rangers are scarily good; if I had to guess what team would win the most World Series in the next 10 years, it’d probably be Texas (maybe St. Louis). I think they are the best franchise in major league talent acquisition. They make the right signings and the right trades almost every time (the Garza trade excepted), and they have the financial might to beat other teams over the head when they need to. I think if Andrew Friedman was the GM of the Rangers, baseball would be very unfun for the other 4 teams in the AL West. The Cardinals are the best draft-and-develop team of the past decade, though you’re right to point to Luhnow as a big part of it.

                    I don’t think there’s any particular aspect that this FO does better than the other 29, but I do think they are better than average at essentially everything. I don’t think you can point to one thing and say “here’s our edge,” but they do a little better than average at everything, which is still very valuable.

                • brainiac

                  if we take theo’s early years at the red sox and some of jed’s work at san diego, and leave out the past 3 offseasons, the cubs would have a top 5-7 FO.

                  if one includes the constant toilet flushing of waiver line signings and total lack of meaningful contribution to the MLB squad, as well as their prickly relationship with their own players, i would put the team somewhere in the middle. houston has a better minor league system and they’re awful. it doesn’t mean they’ll win. and i’m pretty sure the cubs have no chance on getting to or much beyond 500 within the next 3 seasons. 5 years in something will give and we’ll see an administration shake-up.

                  • http://obstructedview.net Myles

                    I disagree. The “toilet flushing” of waiver line signings is something that most if not all rebuilding teams do, and they’ve resulted in Luis Valbuena, who quietly was worth 2 fWAR (1.3 WARP) last season and was just a hair over league average for a 3B. By “flushing,” they acquired that asset for free. Even Rule 5’er Hector Rondon came on like gangbusters at the end of the last season.

                    You say they have a prickly relationship with players, but they tried very hard to accommodate Ryan Dempster at the least.

              • YourResidentJag

                I think the Astros might have the best FO in MLB….I guess we’re all entitled to our opinions.

    • bbmoney

      That’s such a joke. No one ever said every other team is stupid. If people thought every other FO was stupid there’d be no reason to hire a good FO because it’d be damn easy.

      So please, don’t tell me what I’m thinking. Just tell me what you’re thinking, I already know what I’m thinking and it isn’t that.

      • When The Musics Over

        You’d be surprised how many people think being smarter, even by a slight margin, than everyone else in the room means everyone else in that room is stupid.

        • baldtaxguy

          Its not surprising.

  • Carl9730

    Not when part of the plan seems to be the only club in MLB who seems to be deleveraging. TB is even spending $ ( Balfour, Loney). I strongly believe our lineup will be kick ass in short order, but they don’t seem to have any answers to SP conundrum.

    • Jason P

      Our number 2 4 and 5 starters are already set. Filling that #3 spot from within shouldn’t be a problem.

      It’s finding that ace or borderline ace that could be problematic.

      • Kyle

        Given the attrition rates of pitchers, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume those three spots are set long-term.

        • Jason P

          I feel pretty comfortable projecting Wood and Jackson’s a 4 and 5’s. Samardzija as a 2 is less conservative, but not at all unlikely.

          • Kyle

            Pitchers attrite at roughly a 15% rate per season.

            That means that it’s roughly 62% that at least one of those three pitchers will become hurt or severely ineffective in the next two seasons.

            • Jason P

              If it’s Wood or Jackson, they shouldn’t be hard to replace. Back of the rotation starters practically grow on trees in our system.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        If the team is solid in other areas, they could probably do pretty well with two or three #2 types, even if a true ace never comes available.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          If you have a lineup that can knock the cover off of the baseball you can afford to have a rotation without a true #1 starter.

        • YourResidentJag

          During the regular season, they’ll most certainly beat up on lesser competition as competitive teams should with that kind of a SP staff. The problem comes in the playoffs, given that that structure lends itself to more strategic gameplay.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            This is true, but the playoffs are so random that I’m not sure how well a team could build a staff for playoff success.

            It’d be better to have an ace or two (or three), but a rotation of good twos and an excellent bullpen can probably get the job done almost as well. Package it with great defense and a strong offense and it could work.

            • YourResidentJag

              Except to me this is what the 2007 and 2008 Cubs were SP-wise.

              • Kyle

                You can’t judge the effectiveness of a roster build off two examples.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Fine I’ll continue with the recent Baltimore Orioles teams and why I don’t think they’re either getting into the playoffs or going deep into the playoffs with that SP staff. That’s four examples, Kyle.

                  • Kyle

                    You’re gonna need a lot more. If you pile up enough anecdotes, eventually you have something resembling data.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      I don’t think they’re anecdotes, Kyle. You said it yourself. AJ Burnett was worth 16mil upon signing. Did the Orioles acquire him? Should they have and why? I think you’ll find the answer you’re looking for in those questions.

        • When The Musics Over

          I’m curious who people would peg as the 2 or 3 #2 types in the Cubs system (MLB or MiLB) at the current moment.

          • YourResidentJag

            CJ Edwards and possibly Travis Wood as a #3 in a Ted Lillyesque, Mark Buerhle sort of way.

            • When The Musics Over

              If everything breaks almost perfectly right and if you’re being very generous, perhaps CJ Edwards could be considered a number two. That’s one. Who are the other two?

              • YourResidentJag

                Well, Travis Wood for one and if they would have been able to get Tirado from Toronto (which I don’t know because I don’t know what was discuss and how far or who was included in trade discussions for Shark) that would have been another.

                • When The Musics Over

                  Travis Wood is not a #2 starter, and my question was in the organization right now.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    Yes, why does it have to be #2 starters? I guess I don’t get the question, then? As though, #3’s aren’t important? Wood has the potential to remain a #3 if you want for me to be precise.

                    I guess my remark about Tirado underlies how important I believed traded Shark was this offseason in getting that potential TOR currently in the system. Everyone who seems not to be sold on acquiring a TOR via FA seems to want to think another way exists. To me, this would have been that other way.

                    • When The Musics Over

                      It means the Cubs are going to have to go outside the org to find them. They don’t have them now, and if they’re unwilling to get them in free agency, they have to draft or trade for them. Issue is trading for them is very difficult and drafting them is a massive crap shoot and why they strongly prefer to drafting hitters with really high draft picks. So many people keep talking about the Cubs needing an ace. I’d be really happy with them figuring out a way to get a number two first.

                      Also, Luke had mentioned you can win with 3 #2s, so I was curious if there were that many in the organization right now. It appears there might be one, if lucky.

                    • Jason P

                      I made a list like 3 comments below.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Possibly.

              • Jason P

                There are also still plenty of 2/3 types that hit free agency.

                • YourResidentJag

                  As long as the FO realizes it’s a buyers market.

          • Jason P

            MLB:
            Samardzija
            And Arrieta and Wood both have non-zero chances of being better than bottom of the rotation types going forward.

            Milb:
            CJ Edwards
            Pierce Johnson
            Paul Blackburn

            And a bevy of lesser probability guys like the 2013 draft class along with Underwood and Vizcaino.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Didn’t the Red Sox just win the World Series without a true number one?

          Having an ace does disproportionately help in the playoffs, no doubt about it. But it’s not absolutely necessary to win.

          • YourResidentJag

            Maybe, but I not sure about Lester not being that….and I’m also certain that they had an incredible streak of luck with offensive FAs that they signed.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    When you look at the Yankees with their geriatric roster and no farm system to speak of it sure does make Theo look kind of smart. I agree that there are many here who are over the top with their Kool-Aid high, but I have to admit that there isn’t another guy that I would want running things at this point. Theo isn’t stupid, he knows that the business side of this operation is immersed in deep shit. And I think he genuinely like Tom Ricketts. Theo isn’t going to publicly critique his boss or talk shit, but I bet that behind closed doors he and Jed are concerned. I mean he has been pretty honest about everything he has done. You can’t just look at transactions as the only measure of failure or success. There is the whole structure of the minor league system with scouting, talent evaluation and development that has transpired. This is the foundation for sustained success. And Ricketts has dished out the money as needed for this with the academy in the DR and the ball park in Mesa. I have to give him an A for all of that and the speed with which he has transformed a shitty farm system. When you are forced to play money ball then you do what he has had to do. Sometimes you throw some turds against the wall and hope they stick.. The jury is still out on the prospect upgrade you just have to take him at his word and wait. Personally I would be pissed to see any of our top prospects weretraded for pitching at this point. Drafting pitchers starting with the second round pick and accumulating a volume of hard throwers and developing them will pay dividends. Take the best impact player in the 1st round.

    • Kyle

      The Yankees are about to implement the “spend a bunch of money and resources on the farm system” thing too.

      http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/yanks-focus-tending-farm-article-1.1607258

      Of course, they can afford to do it without tanking the team.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Ok Kyle, but you have to put that on ownership I think. Ownership says jumbotron and Budweiser sign and TV deal are needed for him to spend. That might be a crock of shit, but Theo’s job is to run baseball operations with what he is given. Did Theo sell the tanking strategy to Ricketts when he was hired? I don’t know. I have to belive that the FO and Ricketts never envisioned the renovation thing coming down to this. If next December comes and they don’t do squat again then I’ll be with you. The diologue by then may be cubs to the suburbs.

        • hawkinright

          I actually agree that ownership bears a lot of responsibility on this ridiculous payroll. However, What scares me and make me think the cubs are just Epstein’s little science project is if we was really bothers by the lack of resources I don’t think he’d stick around. I really think he gets way to much praise for his work on our minors for the many reasons already listed. Thus far he certainly hasn’t plucked his David Ortiz!

          • YourResidentJag

            I don’t if he can now, though, with respect to your Ortiz comment.

            • brainiac

              edwin jackson

      • mjhurdle

        Will be interesting to see how well they do.
        That article was pretty vanilla and doesn’t offer much as to what they have already done or what they plan on doing, but it is common knowledge that they took quite a bit of flak for the state of their system last year.
        It remains to be seen how well they will do at the “spend a bunch of money and resources on the farm system” thing (hopefully it involves more than building a cafeteria, resurfacing 4 minor league fields, and hiring one stats guy for player development).
        And while most Yankee fans would say last year was their definition of tanking, there may be even worse times ahead for them until they get that system to a state that it can contribute to the MLB club.

        • brainiac

          we have a saying at work. “when you pass on an opportunity, you miss an opportunity”. that’s it. we’re relying a lot on an unclear future in which there might not even be needed free agents, and that a series of youngsters all become superstars. it’s a classic greek tragedy unfolding, in which one’s decisions are the reason that one experiences misfortune.

          • mjhurdle

            In that case, I would like to inform your work that I have an opportunity for them to make a ton of free money.
            See, I am an African Prince. I have 100 Billion dollars, but i can’t get it out of my country on my own. I will pay your company 10% if you will setup an offshore account and seed it with $100,000 of your money in order to facilitate the transfer of my funds.

            I look forward to your business not “missing” this opportunity.

            • brainiac

              too late, i already gave my money to one scam this year: 2014 cubs tickets

          • DarthHater

            “when you pass on an opportunity, you miss an opportunity”.

            Well, then, I guess it’s a good thing the Cubs didn’t pass on those Ian Stewart and Scott Baker opportunities.

    • Brocktoon

      Ricketts spent 0 dollars on Mesa.

      • BlackJeep

        I think that’s awesome. We have the best spring training facilities in baseball without having to spend a dime.

      • mjhurdle

        well, thats just not true.

        • Brocktoon

          Explain.

      • mjhurdle

        The Mesa facilities ended up costing 99 million. the agreement between the city and the Cubs was that the Cubs were to cover anything over 84 million.
        While I don’t know if they actually sent the check of 15 million to Mesa, I do know:

        – the Cubs do not own the Facilities, they lease it, for the next 30 years.
        – they pay for day to day operations of the facilities
        – they purchased the land around it to privately develop their Wrigley-West

        So while the city of Mesa may have shouldered the majority of the load (and they should considering the boon to the economy the Cubs minor league appears to be),
        to say the Cubs spent $0 dollars is flat out false.

        • Brocktoon

          This article states 99M from Mesa: http://www.azhighground.com/phoenix-business-journal-article-on-mayor-scott-smith/

          Paying for day to day operations?? What is Mesa not providing balls and bats for them either?

          You’ll note that nothing is being built around the stadium because Tom Ricketts can’t afford to eat in a restaurant, let alone build one.

          • mjhurdle

            So you admit that you were wrong in the first post?
            That is a good start.

            Like i mentioned, I don’t know what became of the extra 15 million. The original agreement said the Cubs would pay for anything over 84 million, but the city also sold off some property and bonds, so that may have made up the difference. I can’t find anything that is exact about that.

            As far as the development around the complex, sometimes those things take more than a couple months.
            For instance, the STL Cardinals ‘Ballpark village’ was 7 years behind it’s scheduled opening.
            I guess the DeWitt’s haven’t gone to many restaurants in the last 7 years…

          • When The Musics Over

            An even more absurd widespread and oft-quoted belief than the Cubs being the only or one of a very few teams investing in Latin American facilities is the Cubs huge investment in their new Mesa facilities.

            Then you tie these misconceptions in with people stating the Cubs have been reappropriating very large sums of money away from mlb payroll into these investments and you have yet another massive false excuse people heavily really on to justify all sorts of shortcomings.

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