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banker cat loanIt’s a good thing I write a blog as opposed to doing some kind of morning TV show.* In print, you can’t see that my voice sounds like I chowed down on some barbed wire last night, and topped it off with a glass of ‘Alien’ blood. That is to say, my voice is scratchy/pubescent-sounding today, which happens to me about every other time I get a cold (which, with two little germ factories running around, is at least twice a month).

*(And, yes, that was a setup for you to knock out of the park in the comments. Take yer shots.)

  • Reports early in the offseason had outfielder Nelson Cruz seeking a four or five-year deal in the $60 to $80 million range, at least. He was gonna get PAAAAAID. He even reportedly turned down a five-year, $75 million offer from the Mariners a few months ago. If true – and it seems a little crazy – Cruz is probably regretting that decision today. That’s because he reportedly just agreed to terms with the Orioles on a one-year, $8 million deal with $750,000 in incentives. That’d be getting paid, lower-case. The real cost, of course, is the draft pick compensation that dragged Cruz down (and means he could have had a one-year deal with the Rangers worth $6 million more if he’d accepted their qualifying offer last year), together with the perception that he’s a bat-first, aging slugger, whose bat may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Throw in the fact that he’s coming off of a PED suspension, and you get a guy having to settle, and then having to hope he gets a better deal next year (when he’s 34).
  • If you’re wondering, yeah, I could see some surplus value on this deal, such that I won’t call you stupid for saying the Cubs should have been involved. In the end, though, I just don’t love seeking out flip targets who are attached to draft pick compensation. Cruz isn’t making the Cubs a contender this year, so the Cubs would have to hope that he plays well enough in the first half to merit more in trade than the value of their second round pick plus pool money (for the Orioles, it’s a late second round pick given up, and Cruz has the added value of, like, actually contributing to a contender). Further, he displaces Junior Lake (might as well see what he can do) in the outfield, and the Cubs would bear the risk of injury. Like I said: if you want to grouse, I won’t call you stupid. But this just doesn’t get me riled up at this point.
  • As for the market impact, well, everyone assumed that the Mariners would get Cruz. Maybe they now use that money on Kendrys Morales? Or maybe they go harder after Ervin Santana? Either way, I’m not sure this pushes, for example, Jeff Samardzija into anyone’s arms. I suppose it’s possible, when combined with the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, that this makes the Orioles looks just a touch more intimidating, and makes a fellow AL East team like the Blue Jays want to go harder after an arm.
  • Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to pitch in the Cubs’ spring opener next Thursday.
  • A completely swoon-worthy profile of Albert Almora. I’m going to put it out there now, on the basis of nothing more than my own gut: Almora has a chance to play himself onto the Tennessee roster out of Spring Training if he shows early on that it would be silly to send him to Daytona. I’m not saying it’s likely; but I think it’s possible. He’s got the baseball skills, and he’s so damn mature (doesn’t even turn 20 until April).
  • More on outfield hopeful Ryan Kalish from Patrick Mooney. I wrote about Kalish a few weeks ago, as he is, in my mind, probably the best fringe outfield candidate on whom to dream about a legit big league future (unless you’re counting Josh Vitters, I suppose). The odds Kalish can return to where he was a few years ago seem slim. But at 25, with a very good physical explanation for what’s happened (plus an at-long-last surgery in August), and with upside that some of the other guys don’t have, Kalish is the guy you watch.
  • Speaking of Vitters, he worked out this offseason, used a nutritionist, etc. I tend to think Vitters will break camp as the starting left fielder at AAA, but, if he stays healthy, he’ll see some time in the bigs this year at some point. He’s got enough potential in the bat that the Cubs will soon want to know what they have in him for the long-term.
  • I’m not aware of any window breakage, but Jesse Rogers got some video of Mike Olt crushing balls, too.
  • Blackhawks1963

    Cruz is a 35 year old DH coming off a PED suspension. His outfield defense and draft pick compensation made him complete non starters for the Cubs.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Yep.

    • Jon

      He’s 33

  • Jim

    You have more of a radio face,er, voice! Radio voice!!

  • http://BN Sacko

    I would imagine there have been crushing balls videos all over the league but with the excitement everyone has with this Baez and the ? with Olt…Holy! I love it.
    By the way is Boris, Cruz’s agent? hahaha I like that also. And..
    What players determine draft picks or how does that work? Educate me a little please, anyone, if you have time.

    • cjdubbya

      The players that decline the qualifying offer from their team the previous season have draft pick compensation associated with them. That’s why it took so long for Cruz (and Ubaldo Jimenez and some other dudes still out there) to sign. Think Kyle Lohse with the Brewers last year. Thanks new CBA!

      • http://BN Sacko

        OK, thanks, and what determines 1st round, late 2nd round and so forth?

        • bbmoney

          It’s a 1st round pick, unless the signing team has a top 10 overall pick. Then it’s their second rounder. If a team signs two guys with QO’s attached they first give up their 1st round pick, then their 2nd round pick (and on…).

          The team that gave the player the QO gets a 1st round supplemental pick (between 1st and 2nd rounds) if the player they gave the offer to signs elsewhere.

          • http://BN Sacko

            So Elsbury Granderson Arroyo cost those teams 1st rounders as they were not part of the top 10 overall?

            • Jon

              Only elsbury had the QO, but technically i think Mccan signed 1st, so McCann cost them the 1st, Elsbury thé 2nd

            • bbmoney

              Met’s signed Granderson and they draft 10th (I believe) so they lost a 2nd rounder and keep their first rounder.

              Yankees lost 1st and 2nd rounders for signing Ellsbury and McCann.

              Arroyo didn’t receive a qualifying offer so it cost the diamondbacks nothing.

              Yankees got a compensation pick for Granderson. Braves got one for McCann. Red Sox got one for Ellsbury. Reds got nothing for Arroyo.

              YEEAAAH for competitive balance.

              • http://BN Sacko

                Ok I’m getting it..but why not for Arroyo?
                Im really appreciating this.

                • bbmoney

                  The new system requires the team that the player was playing for to make a “Qualifying Offer” in order for draft pick compensation to be attached. The Reds didn’t.

                  The Qualifying offer changes each year, but essential it’s a 1 year deal (or at least a 1 year deal) for something like the average of the 125 highest paid players in the MLB the previous year (don’t quote me on that…but that’s the idea). This past year it was something like $14M. The Reds didn’t think Arroyo was worth that apparently and didn’t make him an offer. As such, no draft pick compensation was attached.

                  That’s great for the free agent because teams are willing to pay more since they don’t have to give up a draft pick.

                  • http://BN Sacko

                    Thanks again, bbmoney..it’s hard to be a smart ass if I don’t know what Im talking about..I’m ready for April mostly..Go Cubs..besides it being 18 degrees right now. Terrible winter everywhere.

      • Kyle

        Teams forfeited a pick under the old CBA, too, for top free agents. Top-15 protected instead of top-10, but otherwise not that big of a difference.

        • Lukas

          I could be wrong, but I think less players were tied to draft pick compensation previously. They had to be within the top 40% right?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Yes, but they didn’t forfeit pool money under the old system. That’s a significant factor, at least for teams in the first or high in the second round.

          The new CBA is changing things. Giving up a draft pick, or at least giving up that first draft pick, is a much bigger deal now.

          • Kyle

            I really disagree. Pool money without the pick to use it is more or less a wash.

            • Jason P

              Why do you say that? If you have first round pick slot money but not the actual pick, you can still use the money to sign overslots throughout the rest of the draft.

              The Rays sort of did that this year to get Manaea, except they drafted someone who was cheap to sign in the first round instead of nobody at all.

              • Kyle

                Because you’d be better off with the first-round pick than half-a-dozen late-round overslots.

                • Jason P

                  Well yeah, but aren’t we comparing losing a draft pick *and* the slot money versus just losing the draft pick?

                  • Kyle

                    I was thinking we were comparing which hurt worse: The pool money or the pick, when losing both.

                    • Jason P

                      Well if that’s the case, then I’d agree losing the pick hurts worse.

                      However, what I think Luke was saying was that losing a 1st round pick under the Old CBA wasn’t as bad as under the new one because before, you could at least partially compensate by overslotting in the later rounds.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Jason P nailed exactly what I was saying.

                      No, trying to sign overslot slides in the later rounds wasn’t as good as having first round picks, but it was a better backup plan than what the current CBA allows.

                    • Kyle

                      Meh, vastly overrated factor.

                • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                  Nobody should deny that. You could take it a step further and wonder if it is all of the sudden such a big deal, why weren’t teams over signing every year when they could? Very few teams did, and it isn’t like they are getting these 1st round talents in the 8th round. They were overpaying for 4th and 5th round talent to keep them out of school due to upside. People would really hate Theo and Jed if we could over sign and our farm isn’t any different than it is now. Now they just have a built in reason to justify why they don’t go balls out on FA.

                  • hansman

                    It’s not that there were these amazing talents to be had in the 8th round it was that there were talents that slid from a mid-1st round pick to a compensatory round pick due to signing demands.

                    Since it is much more difficult to get those compensatory AND first round picks if you traded for/signed/had the right guy AND there is “hard” slotting now, it’s harder to amass talent. Especially when the new CBA will be pushing that talent up the chain where it is impossible to gain picks.

                    I’d be willing to bet $20 that the next 30 years of drafts will feature a career WAR plotline more resembling this: (ignore what the chart is actually measuring and focus on the shape of the line)

                    [img]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-C-MqHF110Po/TX94yg2bSYI/AAAAAAAAAaY/RofEcRjD5S8/s1600/Purchasing+Power+USD2.JPG[/img]

                    and less like it does for the last 30 years:

                    [img]http://baseballanalysts.com/war4.GIF[/img]

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      No bet. The CBA restrictions as written now won’t last 30 years. I strongly suspect we’ll see some loosening of the penalties with the next CBA.

                    • Kyle

                      If the chart looks like you predict, it would prove that overslotting was not a major factor and in fact the new CBA is working in the opposite way from what everyone is positing.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Keep in mind: under the old system, it wasn’t just that you didn’t lose pool money when you lost the pick. It’s that there *was* no pool money. No slots. I’d hazard a guess that it was far more common then for talent to slide because of price demands. Now, with hard slots, players lost a lot of leverage to drive hard bargains. Thus, less sliding, and the pain of losing both the pick and the pool money is all the more painful.

  • Justin

    Nice work Nelson Cruz. It’s only $6 Million less… Well played. I can’t wait to see the huge Morales deal coming next!

  • Picklenose

    There is a typo above. It should read, Banker Cat Dos not aprove yur Lost. He is more of a Dexter fan.

  • bbmoney

    1 year 8M…..Cubs could have been involved and I would have been fine. But…since it’s Nelson Cruz I’m not exactly broken up about them not signing him.

  • Javier Bryant

    Wow, Vogelbach lost 30 lbs this winter per Carrie Muskat

    • David

      Man, that would be sweeeet. Outfield?????

    • BWA

      Almost worries me that he would lose some of his power. Losing 30 Pounds would put him at a pretty healthy 220 or so though.

    • CubFan Paul

      I remember him losing 30lbs last offseason too, so that’s 60 total

      • David

        I’ll take his 20 homers/ 90 rbi, and .285 avg hitting after Baez in 2016.

      • headscratchin

        He lost 30 last year and 30 the year before, but what is missing is where he was when he started losing each time. I’ve lost 40 lbs in the last three years. Lost 20, gained 15, lost 25, gained 10, lost 20. 40 lbs total lost.

        I did find a Sheridan video that said he weighed 300 when drafted and is down to 240 now, so good for him whatever the ups and downs.

        • David

          I hope he’s at 230/ 240 and can play an average corner outfield. Huge plus.

          • bbmoney

            That’d be great.

            But almost no one in the industry thinks he can play an average 1b, so asking him to plan an average corner OF is kind of out there. Way out there.

  • MattyNomad

    Yeah thats right….that third comment on the Mike Olt like is me, NBD. Also worth asking, with all that movement in the AL East, are we really sure Samardija isnt moved before opening day? Just food for thought

  • aaronb

    Jealous of the O’s right now. Locking up Cruz and Jimenez at those prices. Cubs should have been all over that bargain shopping.

    Would have been a fraction of a Tanaka outlay.

    • Brocktoon

      Meh, since we’re not trying this year, Cruz doesn’t bother me. Not a single rumor about Jimenez and the Cubs is troubling though.

    • roz

      PED suspension and draft pick compensation jacks up the price on Cruz to a point where he wasn’t worth it.

    • TulaneCubs

      They’re certainly making a strong run at 4th in the AL East.

      They’d be better off dealing Wieters and Davis and loading up for 2 years from now. Which I expect them to look at doing in July when they’re in 4th place in the AL East.

      • Brocktoon

        I’d think they’d be better off keeping their good players.

      • bbmoney

        They just made the playoffs 2 years ago and weren’t that far out of it last year. Why in the world would they sell? The AL East is tough, but why sell if you’ve got a pretty good shot. They’re probably better than the yankees already.

        • TulaneCubs

          Because they’re the 4th best team in the division without a lot of salary wiggle room.

          They should sell for the same reason that the Rays trade guys like Shields, Garza, Price, etc. even though they’re competitive. They need cheap young players to be able to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and even the Rays and if/when those cheap young players go away, they could be sitting in the basement of the AL East for a decade.

          So, reload now in an attempt at giving yourself a chance in the next decade or cobble together a roster in order to make a run at the 2nd wild card this year, while giving up valuable draft picks and watching Wieters/Davis get closer to free agency.

          • Kyle

            Because selling moves you up the prospect rankings, and that’s >>>> making the playoffs.

            The Orioles finished six games out of a playoff spot last year. No reason for them not to go for it again this year.

            • TulaneCubs

              And I disagree. I think they need to maximize the value of their assets to give them a better chance of succeeding long term. Because if they don’t, then they’ll be buried for a decade after going for a 2nd wild card spot that could leave them 1 and done in the playoffs.

              I understand that might rub a lot of their fans the wrong way, but I think it’s best for them long term, particularly in a division that is that competitive.

              We heard rumors of Wieters being shopped this offseason and I expect we’ll hear a lot more about both Wieters and Davis being shopped at the deadline when I think the O’s will be sitting in 4th.

              • Kyle

                Nothing they are doing right now will prevent them from selling it if they are out of in in June.

                The decision to punt for the future is one you make mid-season, not in February.

          • Brocktoon

            They have not a lot of wiggle room in terms of salary if you assume all teams have to operate like the Marlins or Cubs.

            The Red Sox were the “5th best team in the division,” but there they went and stupidly added free agents rather than selling off Ortiz, Ellsbury, and Pedroia.

            • BT

              Right after selling off Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford. I guess they needed to free up some wiggle room? So….bad example.

              • Brocktoon

                Gotcha Fail. “The Plan” involves trading away all your good players who aren’t signed for another 2 years. If the player is over 30 he is worthless to you and certainly shouldn’t be signed

                • BT

                  I see. So your point was that not all teams have to create wriggle room by selling off players like the Cubs do. You then picked an example of a team that LITERALLY just created wriggle room by selling off players. But it’s not a fail because they aren’t following the Cubs plan to the exact letter, even though in no way shape or form was my point that the Red Sox rebuild was identical to the Cubs.

                  I’m so embarrassed.

                  • Chad

                    It’s not like the red sox had a fully stocked farm system that they could tap to fill in holes either……oh wait.

            • JadeBos

              Yeah it s amazing how the Red Sox went from 5th to World Series champs. Its almost like they had a bunch of great players who were injured and came back healthy. Then they added a few nice pieces in free agency. I bet the Cubs could do that… oh wait. I guess we sold off our Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz? Bucholtz. Lester?

            • roz

              Except we didn’t trade our Ortiz, Ellsbury, and Pedroia. We don’t have an Ortiz, Ellsbury, and Pedroia.

    • YourResidentJag

      Except they got stuff we don’t have: Merchado, Jones, Davis, Tillman, etc.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Well it looks like Toronto may be a cellar dweller this year. That AL east is about like the NL central because it is stacked with good teams. Last week I was reading one of the Blue Jays fan sites and they are basicly of the opinion that they are going to see what they have in their system, rather than giving up prospects. I have no doubt that Stroman will get a shot soon. This might be the best chance B’more will ever hve to win it. It should be a dog fight in that division. I’m feeling real good about watching the game this coming week. I hope that some of the young studs get to play a couple of innings.

    • YourResidentJag

      Yeah, GM may be operating on a lame duck season as well there.

  • Lou Brown

    With the CBA, I am wondering if TheoJed will eventually try to game the free agent system, like they did the IFAs? Say for example, the Cubs stink this year (I know, its a stretch), so they get a top 10 pick in 2015. With some of the waves of talent reaching Chicago, does it make sense to go big next off season, if you sign 3 QO players, we would still have a top ten pick, losing our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounders. Soriano is off the books completely at that point, and they alluded to money they did not spend this off season.

    • Darth Ivy

      hopefully the Cubs get one of those 15+ game improvements we occasionally see

    • Kyle

      It would make sense, but I don’t think they’ll do it. The draft is their playground. They won’t give that up.

      • Darth Ivy

        I don’t think they’re going to keep the same approach forever. Just a hunch.

        • Kyle

          I’m sure they won’t take the precise same approach forever. But I also don’t see them punting multiple draft picks anytime soon.

          • Darth Ivy

            as long as you know that they’re going to change their approach. How much they change their approach is impossible to know. They might not even know right now. It all depends on how things shake out.

            • Kyle

              It’s impossible to “know,” sure, but it’s not as if we have absolutely nothing to predict Theo Epstein’s future decision-making on. We have years of insight both in his actions and his words to make an informed inference on what he might do.

              • Darth Ivy

                right, and based on all of that, it’s reasonable to assume they’re going to change their approach. You already said that you also think they’ll change their approach. We’re on the same page here. We agree

                • Kyle

                  The fact that they’ll change their approach doesn’t mean they’ll change their approach in that specific way.

                  I don’t believe the Cubs under Theo Epstein are likely to *ever* forfeit multiple draft picks in a single offseason.

                  • Darth Ivy

                    you’re arguing against a point that I’m not making.

                  • Darth Ivy

                    I do think there’s a chance (small chance) that they do forfeit multiple draft picks, but you also use the word “likely”. So you’re leaving room for the chance that they DO forfeit those picks. I can’t argue against “likely” because I have no idea what you consider “likely” to be. That’s why I’m not arguing with you about that

                    • Kyle

                      I also think it’s *possible* that they never change their approach.

                      I think it’s possible that Junior Lake hits 55 HRs this year.

                    • Darth Ivy

                      you’re smart

                  • BWA

                    I think it is more likely that they forfeit multiple picks in a single offseason than forfeiting one pick each offseason for several offseason. They might kinda go all out like they did with IFAs this year and just forfeit their 2nd, 3rd, and maybe 4th picks one time.

                    • Lou Brown

                      Yeah, that is how I would lean, they would go all in one year, rather then spread it out. To Kyle’s point, they have valued the draft picks, but I think that is in large part to where they are in the rebuild. I think they will look more at the FA market as they get closer to being competitive. They will also want to have some vets around for the youngsters that will be “graduating” this year and next.

              • YourResidentJag

                Ah yes, but we only know about 10% of all intel out there. (I say this somewhat sarcastically, of course). At least, this is what I’ve been told on here.

  • YourResidentJag

    Alien Blood: Well, with your intellect, I’m venturing to guess you can write a better script than Lindelof (Mr. Lost writer) did for Prometheus. :)

  • Kyle

    Odds of second-round pick ever having a season as good as Nelson Cruz’s 2014 is expected to be? About 10-15%.

    Odds of Cruz being flippable for a better prospect than a fresh 2nd round pick? Better than 50/50.

  • Kyle

    Vitters has proven everything he could possibly prove at AAA. There’s really very little reason for him not to *at least* be the 5th outfielder/backup 1b on this team.

  • YourResidentJag

    Well, I hope we don’t trade with Seattle this trade deadline for Shark. I’m not at all enamored with that organization or their young players. Apparently, Montero has come into camp 40lbs overweight and it was met with some pretty scathing remarks from their GM.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      If Taijuan Walker is involved I’m all ears…but…I doubt that happens so I guess I would agree with you, Jag.

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