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jason mcleod theo epstein jed hoyerIt’s shaping up to be a very busy day around here today and tomorrow. Lots of ground to cover, so hopefully you didn’t drink too many green beers yesterday.

  • If you don’t know who Rany Jazayerli is, you should. Rany has been writing about baseball – mostly the Royals – for years now, is one of the brightest analytical minds in the field, a part of the original Baseball Prospectus team. The Cubs almost hired him last year. He also happens to be a doctor, and the writing he does is just on the side. Impressive dude. And, writing at Grantland, he put together something of an opus on the Cubs’ rebuild that you should absolutely take the time to read. Jazayerli lays out why the front office’s tasks in Boston and in Chicago were so very different, and the impingements so much greater in Chicago. But he also lays out the case for optimism and for patience. Read it. Know it. Love it.
  • This is not the thesis of Jazayerli’s piece, and is almost an aside, but it’s a passage with which I agree – and have said as much for months now – so I’m sharing it: “That leaves one piece of unfinished business: To balance that 2015 lineup, the Cubs need to sign or trade for an elite starting pitcher, if not two. Samardzija, Wood, and Jackson don’t scare anyone as the 1-2-3 in a rotation, but make them the 3-4-5 behind a free-agent ace like Scherzer or Shields and a short-term rental like Price or Yovani Gallardo, and that’s suddenly a playoff-caliber rotation. The Cubs may not get past the Cardinals, but a spot in the 2015 wild-card game is worth reaching for, particularly since it would simply be the Cubs’ opening salvo in what ought to be a run of contention.” If the Cubs are going to spend in free agency next year, and I suspect they will, it needs to be on the best starting pitcher (or two) they can get.
  • Patrick Mooney on Javier Baez’s debut at second base, where he looked perfectly passable. From all involved, the story remains the same: seeing what he can do at second is important for his versatility (and because you never know what might come in the next few months), but Baez will start at shortstop for the Iowa Cubs when AAA play gets underway.
  • More on Baez at second base, including many quotes from Rick Renteria.
  • BP’s Sam Miller re-watches the Kerry Wood 20K game, and notes a number of interesting things (plus GIFs).
  • Statistical love for Luis Valbuena from Beyond the Box Score. It’s very fair to project an average or better bat, and well above-average defense at third base. In other words, the Cubs will be fine over there even if Mike Olt doesn’t break out just yet.
  • How does Javy Baez generate so much power? BP takes a look.
  • This fired Cubs sports psychologist story sure is getting a lot of play, even recently picked up by Deadspin. I mentioned the firing this weekend in the Bullets, but I’ll confess, I don’t really get what the big deal is, or why this is being spread around so much on the interwebz. Most teams employ psychologists, and by their very nature, psychologists try all kinds of different approaches to relate to their patients. Paul Sullivan’s piece on the firing of Marc Strickland makes it seem like an overdue, obvious decision, but just two years ago, Sullivan wrote about how appreciated Strickland was by Cubs players, and how the organization from top to bottom was supporting what Strickland was doing. Like I said, I don’t really get why this is a big deal, other than folks like to hurr hurr about all silly things Cubs. Clark the Cub, hurr hurr hurr.
  • ssckelley

    Being the draft nut I am this was one of my favorite paragraphs of the article:

    “There’s an old industry truism that teams should “grow the arms and buy the bats,” because free-agent pitching is so expensive. Well, the Cubs have turned that truism on its head. While growing the arms sounds great if a team comes up with a no. 1 starter, it’s more likely to spend years developing a young pitcher only for his arm to come up lame. So the Cubs are growing the bats and buying, or trading for, the arms.”

    This is why I think the Cubs will continue to keep grabbing the top bats with the #4 pick in this Junes draft. Let the other teams roll the dice on the arms. If the top 3 picks all go pitching the Cubs could get the #1 position player for the 2nd year in a row, a perfect “moneyball” move.

    • Patrick G

      I think if Kolek Hoffman or Rondon is available you take one of them

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Problem is, unless someone breaks out in a big way this Spring (which usually happens), is there really a consensus #1 bat? Jackson or Gatewood I guess, but both are pretty raw. I think the top 2 right now are Rodon and Beede and after that, like Sahadev and Brett like to say, it’s a good old crapshoot

        • Xruben31

          Hoffman is over Rondon in my opinion.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            To me, Rodon has similar upside (to me he has more upside) and Rodon definitely has the higher floor. While Hoffman has good stuff, his command isn’t great and his inability to strike guys out in college worries me. Rodon has the best pitch in the entire draft (slider) and has a plus fastball and developing changeup to go along with it. With the pick at 1.4, if they are taking a college pitcher, I want one with more of a track record and a higher floor than Hoffman

          • SenorGato

            Beede over both.

          • JCubs79

            It’s all about Tyler Beede. Hoffman’s command is awful right now. The stuff and size are there but he can’t hit his spots.

      • ssckelley

        To me it is all about risk. If the FO views one of those pitchers as the same kind of risk as a position player then they go pitcher, this could happen if Rondon drops to #4. Just like the last draft, Appel looks like a sure middle of the rotation to potential TOR had the Astros passed on him I think the Cubs would have drafted him. But IMO the Cubs viewed Gray as more of a risk which is why they passed on him and took Bryant. I think the top 3 picks all go pitcher which leaves the Cubs taking the best position player between Turner, Jackson, Gatewood, or (insert emerging name here) for the 2nd year in a row.

    • Norm

      I think the College pitchers are far enough ahead of the bats, that they’ll take one of Beede, Hoffman, or Rodon.
      If those 3 are gone, then I could see them going bat and passing on Kolek.

      • ssckelley

        I would be stunned if the Cubs drafted Kolek. IMO I think the risk is to high to take a high school power arm.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          I agree on Kolek. A guy like Newcomb from Hartford really intrigues me, but 4 might be too high to take him. I don’t think Turner has the skill-set to be a top 5 pick, and there really isn’t a no shit top college hitter like Bryant last year for the Cubs to jump on. I really just hope that Beede or Rodon fall to 4, but if they don’t, I honestly don’t know at this point what they should do.

          • ssckelley

            Keep your eye on AJ Reed from Kentucky. He is a long shot but is off to a Bryant like start with 9 homers already in 20 games. He is a lefthanded bat with power that walks more than he strikes out.

            • Ballgame17

              What position does AJ reed play??

              • ssckelley

                First base and pitcher, but like I said he is a long shot to sneak all the way up to being a top 5 pick. Last year at this point Bryant was already projected as an upper 1st round pick. This guy has popped up a couple of times on mock drafts towards the bottom.

    • Orval Overall

      “So the Cubs are growing the bats and buying, or trading for, the arms.”

      Except for the part where all of the buying and trading remains aspirational, this is spot on.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Well aren’t you just a ray of sunshine on this lovely Tuesday morning

        • Orval Overall

          Yeah, well, I’m just saying we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back about the wisdom of this plan until they’ve actually done it.

          Example A – they had the opportunity last year to draft a potential front-line starter, and chose instead to draft Kris Bryant. But we can’t yet say “and that’s an especially smart move because they were able to acquire a front-line pitcher in another way.” That’s basically what that passage is saying – that because they have planned for that, we can give them credit for it now.

          • Orval Overall

            And to be clear: I am not criticizing the Bryant pick. I think it was brilliant. I’m just saying if this is a two-step plan (draft bats; buy/trade for arms) they can only genuinely be praised for having accomplished the first of those two steps, with the second remaining aspirational for now.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Except for the fact that they have signed low cost arms and turned them into long term assets already. Sure Gray was there, but they had a distinct plan in the draft to take the best player available with the first pick (which I absolutely believe was Bryant) and draft a ton of pitchers in later rounds. They’ve stated on multiple occasions that often times the best strategy with pitchers is to employ a numbers game. While these guys might not be aces (there are only 10-15 in all of baseball), A rotation full of 5 mid-rotation starters can be very competitive. Sure they haven’t sprung for that frontline guy yet, but they have a very clear strategy in place and they have stuck to it.

          • Brocktoon

            And I’d really refrain from patting ourselves on the back for winning a World Series like rany did at the end of the article.

          • ssckelley

            Again I believe the Cubs weigh the risk of taking a pitcher over a position player. Last year I think they would have taken Appel had the Astros passed on him. I do not believe they are ruling out taking a pitcher at #4, I have read they are still scouting them. There is injury risk with any player but power pitchers, as we are seeing this off season, have an even higher risk. The safer pick is taking the top position player and so far that is what we are seeing.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        They’ve been buying arms.

        • Orval Overall

          Well yes, Hansman, out of the sheer practical necessity of wanting to remain a major league baseball team, thus necessitating 25 players, thus necessitating the signing of a few pitchers to replace the ones they traded in July, they have signed Jason Hammel and James McDonald.

          Did you think the article was praising them for signing Jason Hammel and James McDonald? Is that what we’re handing out praise for these days?

    • Jon

      Arguello has a cool article up

      http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2014/03/are-you-sure-you-want-the-cubs-to-select-a-pitcher-with-their-first-pick/#comment-123550

      2006
      Top college hitter available: Evan Longoria

      2007
      Top college hitter available: Matt Wieters

      2008
      Top college hitters available: Pedro Alvarez, Buster Posey

      2009
      Top college hitter available: Dustin Ackley

      2010
      Top college hitter available: Bryce Harper

      Boy., a college bat sure does make me feel warm and cozy and help me sleep at night.

      • ssckelley

        Good article, thanks for sharing. It supports exactly what I have been saying about the Cubs FO draft strategy, unless there is a no brainer like a Strasburg, Price, or Appel type available at #4 I think they go with the top bat.

        • Jon

          College bats suck this year though…..

          • ssckelley

            I am with you on that, Turner does look like a top 5 pick. But I still think one of the top high school bats is a safer bet than a power arm.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Rodon currently has both a higher ceiling and a higher floor than Appel had last year

          • SenorGato

            I could see higher ceiling but really the only advantage I give to Rodon between the two is the breaking ball. Changeup, size, fastball, mechanics, command, control, athleticism…all those things I would lean Appel.

            That said Rodon’s slider is a big leg up on the competition.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              We definitely disagree on Appel vs. Rodon

          • ssckelley

            You might be right, will he fall to #4?

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              I don’t think so, although he’s definitely not the sure 1-1 pick that he was a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know how many people share Keith Law’s opinion, and more importantly, if those people are in the Astros, Marlins, or White Sox organizations, but my guess is he’s a lock for the top 3.

              • ssckelley

                See that’s the thing I think every team drafting above the Cubs will have a tough time passing on Rodon. The thought of the Astros potentially having both Appel and Rodon in their starting rotation blows my mind.

                • Jon

                  He can play the “I’m going back to school” card which might turn off those teams.

      • Kyle

        Calling Bryce Harper a “college bat” is exactly the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from Arguello, even though I agree with his conclusion in this case.

        Actually, it’s technically correct but very misleading, which puts it at least one step ahead of what I normally expect from him.

        • ssckelley

          Technically he was a college bat, not your typical college bat since he attended a Juco for one season.

          • Kyle

            And he dropped out of high school (got his GED) two years early in order to be able to attend JuCo for a year and be eligible for the draft.

            Calling him a college bat is technically correct (the best kind of correct!) but completely unhelpful the understanding the dynamic of college vs. high school prospects.

            • ssckelley

              Well he can’t call him a high school player either.

              Just put an * next to his name then.

    • candyland07

      Id rather take a college bat in the first round in the top 5 and better yet if the teams picking prior to the Cubs selection, if they all pick pitchers – Take the best college bat- middle ist rounds then maybe – take the best player with the best raw talents

      Who and how the Cub draft recently is great . If your gonna develop your team through the draft then pick wisely . The Cubs front office has done this – no one questions the players the Cubs draft in the first round . If these players should fail then wow- its gonna be tough to write a puff- puff / fluff/ fluff article .

      I want to see who the Cubs can develop from the 2nd round and beyond but, i dont need a constant reminder on their development .eventually we will either see the success and/ or failures . Its just bothersome that the Cubs feel the need to lose on a constant basis to succeed everyone hates sandbagging. This is what the Cubs do now .

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Great article by Jazayerli. He really lays everything out there. I like how he says that the signing of front line starters next offseason is basically the tipping point. Either they spend and are serious about winning, or they don’t and start to lose a lot of support.

  • Jon

    He lost me a bit on the David Price thing…so the Cubs are building up all these high power prospects, to lose them on a Price rental?

    • Edwin

      I actually thought somewhat the same thing. The Cubs have the prospects to trade for Price, but currently they have those prospects ticketed to bolster their own lineup. Trading for Price seems too much of a horizontal move at this point.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        In fairness he said that they have the prospects AND the money for an extension to make it worthwhile. I think the point he’s trying to make is that is would only be worth it if they can extend Price

        • Edwin

          I get that, but even if they extend Price, it still means that they would have given up some players who they were probably counting on long term.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Ya I agree with you, the timing just isn’t right for a trade, but I get what he’s trying to say. I think a better plan is to sign Masterson and then trade for a guy when the timing is better (A guy like Cobb for example, since the Rays trade all their pitchers).

            • Edwin

              Yeah. If the Cubs had more talent already in place on their MLB roster, trading for Price would make more sense.

              I’m a little nervous about how the FA will shape up for pitchers next offseason. Last I heard, Masterson was pretty big on sticking in The Cleve. It seems like the remaining pitching options will probably be on the wrong side of 30, probably won’t be the top tier talent the Cubs are hoping for, and the Cubs will probably face some stiff competition from other teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, or either LA team.

              If the Cubs want to aquire a top FA talent, at some point they’ll need to be willing to overspend to win the bid. Will they be ready to overspend on a player next offseason, or will they stick with their current model of trying to find undervalued pitchers?

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Ya if the numbers on what Masterson submitted to the Indians as his offer are true, they would be fools not to resign him. I really do like Shield, even though he is 33. He has the type of repertoire that will allow him to age well and while he might not be the type of guy you can sign for 7 years, you can get him on a 3-4 year deal and I think he would remain pretty effective throughout the length of that deal. If they can get Shields and Masterson (very unlikely I know), then that rotation all of sudden becomes playoff quality.

    • Norm

      Are you saying the Cubs should *never* trade prospects for a rental even if it means giving them a better shot at the playoffs?

      • Chad

        I think they are saying that trading away pieces that you think will help you longterm for 1 year of Price this early in the rebuild may be counterproductive. Now, if they can get an extension in place, absolutely. I think it would just depend on what it would take. Is Soler and Vogelbach with another prospect or two in the 10-20 range enough? Probably not. But having two pitchers (Price and Shark) that are about to hit FA isn’t ideal for this rebuild. I think they would be better served signing Scherzer and Shields (if neither get extended) than trading for Price, but if they do want Price I think Shark has to be traded.

        • Norm

          Well it’s not “early in the rebuild” according to Jazayerli. It’s next year, and it’s to get them into the playoffs.

          This is the EXACT scenario you’d want the Cubs to trade their assets for. No one is saying trade Baez or Bryant or Almora. We don’t know what it would cost, And of course the Front Office will weight the cost/benefits and decide from there.

          I don’t get Jon who can bitch day in and day out about not putting a contender on the field for 2014, when they have no shot at the playoffs, but when the scenario about adding an ace to put them into contention in 2015 is something he can’t get behind.

          • Brocktoon

            But a substantial part of the kinda sorta completed rebuild are those players you’re trading away for Price. You can’t say oh man the cubs lineup is stacked while you’re simultaneously trading them away.

            • Norm

              I’m not trading them away and neither is the hypothetical in this article.
              It’s you anti-front office folk that just assume it’s a Wil Meyers overpay all over again.

              • brainiac

                again, the cubs are not a front office. they’re a baseball team. and the front office is deliberately not improving the baseball team. this is the only city in the history of the world that values imported middle management over their own competitive and community allegiances.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  You’re a conspiracy buff aren’t you??

                  • brainiac

                    there are no such things as conspiracies. there are only vanity projects, incompetent bureaucracies, and greedy ceos. we have all 3 right now.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Do us a favor, step outside of your bomb shelter, remove your tin foil hat, and join the real world

                    • brainiac

                      i could go into more detail, as i have in the past, but it’s like throwing peanuts into a black hole with some of you people. you keep pitching, and they keep disappearing into the event horizon.

                      let’s just say that i evaluate the internal health of businesses for a living. and the past 3 years have all been rudimentary business moves, kind of like factory layoffs, not baseball moves.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      You do realize that professional teams are businesses, right??

                    • brainiac

                      i could have been easily swayed by an article that tries to balance mistakes, problems the team faces, statistical probability, and some calculated prediction.

                      this was just a “if the PR division said it, it must be true” kind of thing. fluff piece. i love the cubs but i don’t like feeding birds, especially cardinals.

                • Norm

                  ‘again, the cubs are not a front office. they’re a baseball team.”

                  Wrong, they are a baseball organization comprised of many baseball teams including the Chicago Cubs, Iowa Cubs, Kane County Cougars and a few others.
                  The goal is for the Major League team to win the World Series, but the road to get there includes stocking the other, lower level teams with as much talent (assets) that will hopefully, one day get to play a crucial role in reaching the overall organizational goal; either by being ON the team or being involved in a trade for a player that will be on the team.

                  • brainiac

                    we agree about this completely, i’m just pointing to a distinction in fan values. root for the wimpy white guy who fires people, or root for the hometown team to win based up baseball fundamentals? in that process the GM should be a supporter in a tertiary position in the fans’ mind, not at the fore, and certainly not more important than the team.

              • YourResidentJag

                Except that it was a Wil Meyers overpay because some GMs are as smart as pro-office folk think Theo is. And that one particular GM is granted with the “Evan Longoria” contract which most smart GMs are doing today.

              • Brocktoon

                I want to hear what you guys think is a deal we’d get the rays to not hang up on that doesn’t involve the big 4

              • Brocktoon

                Anti front office?? What is this nonsense?

      • Jon

        Not never, but if not this year, Price will def be dealt next year. Unless he has a major injury or downgrade in performance I don’t see how you get him without one of the big 4 plus another piece. Then, THEN, you have to pay him too. Maybe trading for him gives them a leg up with exclusive negotiating, but you are still paying a good price.

        (Assuming he doesn’t take an extension) I almost rather make an insane overpay for Scherzer than give up top prospect

        • Norm

          I think it’s way too early to speculate that it’ll take one of the big 4. Baez will be out the question, and Bryant will also likely be out of the question.

          • Edwin

            If not one of the big 4, what do you think it would take to trade for Price? I find it hard to envision a scenerio where the Cubs trade for Price and don’t wind up giving up one of their top 4 prospects.

          • Brocktoon

            The rays got the #4 prospect and another top 100 for shields and Davis last year. We’re not getting price for pierce Johnson and tony zych

            • BT

              And everyone on the planet said the Royals completely overpaid. We aren’t getting Price for Johnson and Zych, but the Shields trade isn’t the new benchmark either.

              • SenorGato

                Completely agreed. Plus, if every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the internet is wise enough to know that Price’s elbow issues and velocity drop happened and hurt him, then it probably didn’t get past anyone in baseball.

                Shields had never been on the DL, never had an arm injury, and IIRC actually improved his fastball going into that deal. He’s one of those guys who people consistently underrate because he’s not whatever it is that’s needed to get some hype.

            • Norm

              And what did the Twins get for Johan Santana?
              Cliff Lee was traded twice….for who?
              What did DET get for Fister?
              What was the return for Zack Greinke?

              Just because KC was stupid doesn’t mean its going to force everyone else to be stupid in the future.

              • YourResidentJag

                Or that Tampa GM is just too smart. ;)

              • YourResidentJag

                Prospects that were highly touted at the time like Smoak????

    • Chad

      It would be interesting to see what the cost for Price would be for just 1 year of service. I don’t think it would make sense, but if the cubs somehow can sign Scherzer and add Price then that is a pretty good rotation. Especially if they can spin Shark off for something. Maybe that something is the headline in a trade for Price. I don’t know. Interesting perspective for sure.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, but the key is “if Price is willing to sign a long-term extension”. No way would the Cubs trade these top prospects (it would take more than 1) without an extension.

    • BT

      He doesn’t really specify what they would give up, only that they have the depth to deal for him, which is true. Assuming the deal makes sense, Price is an obvious target, and there are not a ton of teams with the combination of prospects and finances to deal for him.

    • Lou Brown

      I am still not sold on a big offer for Price. The velocity and effectiveness loss, along with the high price, is a big red flag. I could easily see a scenario where whoever unloads their system for him, ends up with an injured pitcher and an empty farm system.

      • Edwin

        He may have lost velocity, but he didn’t lose effectiveness. He posted the best FIP of his career, best BB% of his career, and highest K/BB ratio of his career He was also one of the league leaders in strike throwing %. And while his velocity dropped, he still averaged the 11th fastest fastball in the league last season.

        He’s obviously more of an injury risk compared to a pitcher without the velocity loss issues or the prior injury history, but I think his talent makes up for it. He has a lot going for him.

  • Spoda17

    … on MLB Radio a few minutes ago, they said the A’s have called about Jeff Samardzija… interesting…

    • Edwin

      Interesting. I wonder what type of deal the Cubs could put together with the A’s. I’m guessing it would be a quantity over quality type of deal.

      • Featherstone

        The A’s dont have the pieces outside of Reed (who they wont trade). They have a bottom 5 farm system.

        • Edwin

          Their system reminds me of the Cubs a couple years ago. They have some nice players in the low minors, so if things go well their farm system could shoot up in the next couple seasons, but they’re pretty low on immeadiate help, which seems to be what most expect the Cubs to want for Shark.

  • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

    Max Scherzer (7/1984DOB): doesn’t this go against the over 30 idea? Are we assuming he’s unlikely to get hurt?
    James Shields(12/1981DOB): 33 years old.

    I like them as players, but 2014 might change that. Trading for Price (or whomever) is an unlikely too. Tampa will want 2-3 great prospects too. Same game we are playing….

    To me, you best ID the pitchers you can get by with until development of pitching rewards.

    If the Cubs can put an exciting offense together, you might land 2 FA arms in 2015-2016 offseason that will say, “they got a chance.” Plus you can overspend by then one suspects – and paper over mistakes.

    • ssckelley

      But with other teams starting to tighten the grips on their top prospects could the price come down on him? The only way I see this happening is if multiple teams gets desperate at the TDL and create a bidding war. If the price comes down (no pun intended) I think the Cubs could get involved on Price.

      • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

        I’d rather the Cubs stock up on bats for just a bit longer…

        It’s pointless to me to build all the infrastructure of a minor league to gut it for a pitcher with even the slightest hint of trouble. Buy him in FA, if it suits. Heck with ever trading for him. Not worth it to me.

        I’d tentatively be for trading Shark for Addison Russell, if Oakland was that desperate.

        Rizzo, Russell, Baez, Bryant – that’s an infield to get excited about!

        • ssckelley

          I agree, the Cubs have to many lineup issues to start trading away their top hitters right now. But let’s say in a perfect world Olt emerges at third, Baez becomes an every day 2nd baseman, the outfield starts getting crowded with guys like Soler, Almora, and Bryant (or he goes to third) in other words the Cubs lineup starts looking good. Look a little further down at the next wave, there will be other prospects emerging that the Cubs could use to trade for TOR pitching. Not to mention guys like Villanueva, Alcantara, and Vogelbach could climb up the top 100 list rapidly.

          A lot could happen this season where the Cubs could go from a weak starting lineup to all of the sudden they have surplus at many different positions. That is when the FO can start looking to make a move to acquire TOR pitching and this is what the farm system was designed to do.

          • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

            And is it ever a problem to have too many good players? If such a miracle happens, you will have plenty of opportunities to trade for pitching in a manner where you are in the driver’s seat. “(GM) People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

            I WANT the Cubs to have the no. 1 offense in baseball. To get that, you need probably 14-16 potential options before you get 7-8 solid dudes.
            AND neither I, or yourself knows whose gonna flame out at this point, today. We have “hints and allegations” as Paul Simon might say, but no confirmation yet.

            • ssckelley

              No, it is never a problem having too many good players. In fact I would be perfectly content if the Cubs decide to simply out-slug the opposing teams while acquiring/developing a bunch of middle of the rotation arms.

              Yes, I know the Cubs will have some flame outs but they are putting the odds in their favor by having multiple options available. Hopefully the waves keep on a coming and players like Dunston, Silva, Hannaman, ect ect could turn into top prospects. Once you have a solid starting lineup in place at the MLB level the farm system can used to acquire holes instead of filling them.

        • YourResidentJag

          That’s why if Jordan Zimmerman becomes available it would be an intriguing trade idea.

          • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

            2016 – it makes for an option. Good call.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        There is no way that a trade deadline deal involving Price becomes cheap enough that the Cubs become involved and they win. There will be too many teams that need him this year that will pony up an extra body.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          With the Rays likely in contention, I don’t think a trade deadline move period is likely, let alone one with the Cubs

        • ssckelley

          No, I did not meant to suggest that the Cubs would be buyers at the TDL. It would take a miracle for that to happen.

    • Orval Overall

      There will never be a quality free agent pitcher under the age of 30. Well, ok, maybe you’ll find out at 29. Once in a blue moon maybe a guy at 28, but even then it means he came up young and probably has a ton of miles on his arm.

      You either need to reject free agency altogether, or settle up with the reality that free agency means giving a bunch of money to someone that is 30+.

      If you say “never” to free agency, then you either need to spend that #2 overall pick on the likes of Jonathan Grey, or trade prospects for a pitcher before he reaches free agency. Or you just lose.

      • Orval Overall

        * find one.

      • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

        I don’t have a problem with it…but some posters have vigorously stated their problems with it. Instead of acknowledging the “it depends” nature, as you just have.

        Here’s a plausible:
        1) We somehow get a high quality prospect bat (or two) instead of pitcher for Shark. (All the teams we are hot after for the pitching prospects are withholding – as of today: Mets, Orioles, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Arizona, Seattle. Pitching is a premium asset – as teams who just lost guys are now scrambling to redo competitive plans…and don’t want to overpay. Or they’ll just look in house to prospects. Everyone is getting a bit smarter…)

        2) But for some reason, we get that premium bat or two. If it gives the Cubs the surplus of talent on offense to then trade for a TOR talent, then you can. Just means you took an extra step or two to get that TOR stud. 2016 is the best early window for a competitive team…JMO.

    • bbmoney

      I think the over 30 thing is true during the “rebuilding years”. I don’t think it’s as true as you transition into the adding pieces in FA to supplement a competitive core “phase”.

      Yes, it is still a factor in what you’re willing to pay (or it should be) but I don’t think it’s a real determent to signing a guy once you’re entering/in a competitive window.

      I could be wrong. But that’s just my take on it.

      • Brocktoon

        That doesn’t make any sense to me. You should be more willing to sign the 30+ as flip targets rather than long term pieces(of course you shouldn’t be inflexible and should be willing to sign them for actual American currency in either situation)

  • Edwin

    I think it’s an ok article, but nothing mindblowing.

    • Jon

      It’s good writing, but it’s a bit over the top in defending the front office. I also think there are a few points in there that are a bit misconstrued to fit the narrative.

      • ssckelley

        I disagree, this guy is a Royals fan he has nothing to gain by defending the Cubs front office. He brought up some of the same points you have been on a rampage about, the Cubs will have to spend money soon for this plan to work. If they don’t then they might be competitive in 2018.

        • Jon

          He said

          ” I can’t claim to be 100 percent impartial when discussing the Cubs’ front office.”

          • JB88

            Yeah, but his bias is based on the fact that they interviewed him for a job, not because he is BFFs with guys in the FO or anything.

            It is basically like Brett adding the tag line that certain rooftops advertised with him last year. It didn’t really change his coverage, but you say that so that your impartiality isn’t completely blown out of the water either. I’d call it intellectual honesty more than anything.

          • ssckelley

            Again you must be missing the parts where he advocates points you have been making on here as well.

            “There’s only one way to supercharge it. If ownership is serious about winning and unleashes the front office on the free-agent market next winter, the Cubs could be serious contenders by 2016.”

            Again I disagree with your “bit over the top in defending the front office” assessment of this article.

        • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

          He got a job interview. He might want another one, at some point…so he does have something to consider: not to burn any bridges or ruffle feathers.

          Sometimes, in today’s world, we tend to think of any highly critical person as being “bad” person because they raise issues they can rightly reference as being there through analysis and public information. The object of the critique then gets options, and too, have their defenders (fans):
          1) to ignore the critique, if it comes from someone far afield from the profession, saying, “they don’t know of what they speak about.”
          2) to state their case without details, saying, “we know what we are after.”
          3) confirm certain details, and/or refute others
          4) bring in the critic for education to the process – possibly to work for them.

          Bill Veeck Sr., then sports writer, was hired back in the late 1910s as GM after being a critical of the Chicago Cubs. If he hadn’t been hired, do we know if Bill Veeck Jr. gets into baseball, later???

          Sometimes, your worst critiques can become your best assets. Too many people seeing things only one way, or through one lens, is not always an ideal way to run operations. Skepticism – through a critique paper – is good.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            The problem in today’s sports internet culture is that too few appreciate the distinction between mindful critique and mindless cynicism. Too often, the latter is confused with “intelligence” and “courage.”

            • JB88

              Or being a “realist” …

            • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

              But often the magic line of the difference is not as clear as it appears. Everyone envisions it differently…

              And the cynicism is epidemic of a larger problem in society in general. Many people have little faith in institutions that they once invested a certain amount of faith in…and well the loudest voice tends to get heard, short-term.

              And some, like yourself, have attempted to put that in perspective. But no one bats 1.000.
              I’d say I’m still at a Mendoza line of .215. ;)

            • BT

              I missed this yesterday Brett, but truer words were never spoken.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            Soooo…he changed his mind and really hopes the Cubs don’t hate him if he said he disagreed with something they did?

            1. If he didn’t like it but didn’t want to burn bridges, he didn’t have to write anything. (Although, I do like the backhanded swipe at his character)
            2. I’m guessing both him and the FO know that they won’t agree on everything and, unless the FO is led by the types that get stuck as middle-management in a big company, they can handle criticism.
            3. Somehow, the criticism of the critical folks has turned into this thing where others can’t handle what they are saying. It has nothing to do what they are saying.

            • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

              You assumed a lot of motivation, on my part, to besmirch him. I didn’t.

              But good convo…

            • brainiac

              i always like what you say, hansman. i just stick to the message.

        • aaronb

          He also disclosed that he interviewed for a Cubs front office job under Theo. So it’s understandable that he wants to PR puff on him.

          • BT

            Right. It just makes sense that he would write a puff piece after NOT taking the job.

            Can we just stipulate that you, Braniac, jon, Kyle, and the rest will say any positive articles on the front office will from here on out be considered “puff pieces”? If a carefully reasoned, thought out and lengthy piece by someone as well respected in the baseball community as Jazayerli can be summarily dismissed as it has been by the Kyle Kartel, then nothing is going pass your particular sniff test, so let’s stop pretending it will.

            • YourResidentJag

              Funny thing is, though, I’ve followed him for the past two years on Twitter. Some Royals fans have had to spin his comments about the Royals to a more positive light. They were the kind of comments that Patrick W. referred to when he talks about Kyle’s “negative pragmatism”. So, puff piece, no, PR piece, who knows, positive rehashing of what’s been said on here already–yes.

            • Kyle

              Did I say the piece was a puff piece?

              The conclusion was completely unsupported by the evidence, but he did a nice job with the evidence.

              • terencemann

                I am saying this is a puff piece. I agree with a lot of the body of the piece but it goes all over the place and I would never ask someone who is unfamiliar with the Cubs to read this. Brett has covered basically everything in this piece and done a much much much better job.

            • Kyle

              I have a Kartel? That is so awesome.

      • Edwin

        Agreed.

      • Jon

        I question this

        Their payroll has dropped four consecutive years after reaching $145 million in 2010, and their Opening Day roster this year will come in around $90 million, the second-lowest in the division

        w/ a footnote
        To be fair, that doesn’t include the $13 million of Alfonso Soriano’s salary that the Cubs are picking up this year.

        Cubs current payroll from B/R has them 84.5 million and that DOES include the 13 million they are paying Soriano. So on the field payroll is low 70 million

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CHC/2013-payroll-salaries.shtml

        • Jon

          Well, I think Rany might read BN, the salary figure was updated :)

    • brickhouse

      So he thinks they can compete in 2018 and maybe in 2016 if they sign or trade fir 2 elite pitching prospects. If they don’t reach the playoffs by 2018 then something went wrong with the “plan”

      • Brocktoon

        If they don’t reach the playoffs by year 5 then “the plan” was a disaster. Not doing it by year 7 should result in 10,000 fans per game

      • aaronb

        Well we did win 83 games in 2009. So 9 years between winning records has got to mean we are right on schedule.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Overall, I think it accurately (albeit, well on the positive side) sums up what I (and many others) have been trying to say for the past couple of years.

      • Edwin

        I think the article does a nice job of highighting the positive parts about building an exciting farm system and making some nice sign and flip moves.

    • aaronb

      I think it was a complete puff piece. The title alone was basically a slurping up to Theo and his “magic job of fixing Boston”.

      The team he took over in Boston was coming off of 93 wins and was a perennial playoff participant.

      Why don’t people write these articles about the genius or Brian Cashman? Why isn’t Brian Sabean getting credit for a much more impressive run under tougher conditions in San Fran?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        People have written lots of articles about both Sabean and Cashman (and plenty of other GMs/presidents as well).

        The people writing them don’t tend to be Cubs fans writing for an audience of Cubs fans, and as a result those who spend lots of time in Cubs fan-land tend not to see them.

        But Google will turn them up if you’re genuinely interested.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          There was this guy in Oakland who had a movie made about him.

          But I guess that doesn’t count…or something.

        • Jon

          Believe it or not, Cashman did have a movie made about him

          [img]http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjE2MzE2NjkzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODM1MjgyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_.jpg[/img]

      • SenorGato

        It would be nice to get a book from Cashman after he retires. What a career he’s had…

        • Jon

          Chapter 1 Write the Check

          * The end.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            Chapter 2: Take Over As GM Right When An Amazing Core of Middle-of-the-Field Talent Becomes Awesome

            • candyland07

              Dan Duquette still cries over Chapter Two.

            • SenorGato

              He was right with Michaels and Watson when those players were acquired. No one knocks Friemdan for walking into an organization with half a dozen #1 overall picks and a farm system fat from picking in the top 10 for a decade.

          • SenorGato

            No no. something a little bit more nuanced than “Brian Cashman for Dummies.” My guess is that the job is a little bit harder than Internet message board posters who have no Yankee context beyond “eeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrr payrooolll” in their thoughts.

            • Jon

              “Flying blind – The tale of how an GM with unlimited access to cash managed to fuck up over slotting and the IFA market pre CBA”

              • SenorGato

                An GM, eh? Lots of teams fucked up over slotting and the IFA marekt pre-CBA, every team.

  • Fastball

    I doubt seriously we are even going to get a sniff on Sherzer. No way does Detroit let him hit the open market. If we were to make a trade for Price it would have to be a deal that included an extension for 3 – 5 years. We will have to give a lot to get him in trade. I think he is going to have one hell of season. It’s a big gamble to see what might happen with Price if he hits FA market. I would rather overpay for him then dump top prospects off to get him.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      And even if Scherzer hits the open market, that price will be insane. Assuming Masterson gets to the open market, they could sign Masterson and Shields for less than Scherzer would command and be MUCH better off.

  • Fastball

    agreed

  • Blackhawks1963

    TheoJedJason are building this thing the right way. And the fruits of their labor are starting to show. I agree with virtually everything they have done so far. And when I keep seeing hi-end arms like Parker, Corbin, Beachy, Medlen blow up? Well, it reinforces that pitching is never a sure thing and that you had best make sure your system has waves and waves…putting all your eggs in a Jonathan Gray basket versus getting a monster bat like Kris Bryant? Well, I’ll like the Bryant approach a whole lot better. Find pitching in the other rounds of the draft and via international signings, etc.

    Not sure where all this David Price stuff comes from. Can’t see TheoJed trading several blue chip prospects next offseason for a high mileage starting pitcher. Better to build your own pitching and then trade or sign “mid-tier” guys to fill in the blanks.

    In case anybody is paying attention, Mashiro Tanaka is wowing them in spring training. Better than advertised is the initial reports.

    • ssckelley

      “Not sure where all this David Price stuff comes from”

      Price is just an example, I doubt they ever go after Price unless they are assured an extension can be agreed upon. But at some point the Cubs will go after a TOR arm in order to make a run and right now Price is a known name out on the market.

    • brainiac

      sorry but i hate to say that this is a fluff PR piece with almost no analysis. maybe they did hire him? blaming the tribune? no word about why the team isn’t supporting young players with veteran 3/4 batters? saying that we need to sign a pitcher someday (duh) and how that sole signing will propel us into a playoff team? arguing that these guys are good because they went to ivy leagues? no discussion of baseball fundamentals or low player morale? no discussion of the fact that they’ll probably trade shark, hence losing his stated #3, with only the specter of signing #1 and #2 pitchers?

      sorry mr. jayayerli, but the pieces are not there, and you do theo no favors by pressuring him to win by 2015 with half of a team. either you’re writing this in revenge for not getting the job or you haven’t done your homework beyond random stat crunching.

      • BT

        Yes, if there’s one thing Jazayerli is known for, it’s “fluff pieces”.

        It’s a good point though. He didn’t address every random point that came into your mind. And he disagrees with you. So throw it all out the window. Which baseball mind to agree with? Rany Jazayerli or Brainiac? I’ll have to mull that one over.

        • brainiac

          his piece reads exactly like the cubs’ recent advertising releases, with little variation.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        I love how every article praising the Cubs plan is a fluff PR piece.

        • brainiac

          as long as we can agree that this is a personal editorial, and not an analysis of what needs to be done to improve the team, besides “sign a good pitcher!”, then i’m ok with it. i’m glad he really likes hanging out with theo, and that he thinks our good minor leaguers are good.

        • YourResidentJag

          And I love how you probably think Gordon Wittenmeyer still wants Hendry back. ;)

          • brainiac

            at this point *i* kind of want hendry back! the guy gamed it, gave us great teams, faced a bad ownership situation, and still did his best without trying to sell the fans snake oil.

            • brainiac

              i think theo’s snake oil salesman persona, take no blame, find scapegoats, has been the biggest disappointment for me. though i don’t blame him for the lack of funds at his disposal. he’s been dealt a pair of 8’s and is at a table of six.

              • aaronb

                This is exactly how I feel brain,

                He seems to be really adept at playing politics and deflecting blame.

                However I can’t fault him for the product on the field. Because he can only spend what he is allocated.

                He built those Boston teams off of being that era’s LA Dodgers and Yankees lite. In an era where only 2-3 teams really spent big money.

                Much harder to do so when you need to operate at a small to mid market.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            That would assume I spend much time thinking about Gordon Wittenmeyer.

            • YourResidentJag

              Who said giving a lot of thought about it? It could be a passing shot that involves no thought whatsoever.

  • Ballgame17

    Scherzer is gonna be top FA when he hits the market. Boras is his agent (I’m 99% sure) and as the #1 FA no way Boras advises him to sign before he becomes a FA. I think Cubs go in on Scherzer and if they grab someone like Gallardo and keep Shark, it’ll be looking pretty impressive. With all these position player prospects coming up, the pitching staff is where most payroll will be goin too…

  • candyland07

    Rany Jazayerli wrote a nice pillow puff puff article. The Cubs have been a terrible team and will continue to be an embarrassment . The fans and the people that question the plan also have a right to voice and be frustrated with Team Epstein and when the Cubs lose over a period of time; people do t what comes easy, they disappear. They stop going to games , they stop reading forums, they stop buying merchandise they stop being in awe of the photoshop pictures of Theo Epstein walking across Wrigley Field as Cowboy galloping into the sunset. They excitement is gone.

    When a team continuously lose (any team) for the past 5 years that team should rake in the benefits in a draft . They should be able to draft better and stronger players in the first round. They should have more money slotted to develop and sign players . and the Cubs have been very good. The tea leaves look very promising but those draft picks and farm system comes with a price – that being a terrible team.

    In the last two seasons alone. the Cubs have had the WORST two seasons in club history and that will always be in Cub history.

    And although I can appreciate a strong and balanced minor league system while keeping the Cubs one of the worst teams in MLB is a joke on its fans.

    • Jon

      The thing is, you would write one of these articles for the Astros, or the Twins. They are doing the same thing, post CBA. So while, It’s good writing(it would be shitty to poo poo on his effort for the article). It’s just not groundbreaking or anything.

      • BT

        No, you couldn’t. The Cubs have approached in the international draft differently, and have approached the free agent market differently than the Twins and the Astros, and Jazayerli explains that. See you guys keep insisting the sum total of the front office leadership consists of “losing and getting high draft picks”. Jazayerli just wrote a lengthy essay explaining both why it’s NOT that, and why they have to be taking the path they are taking.

        This isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a fairly exhaustive explanation of what’s going on. It’s not a money grab, it’s not a screw up by Hoyer. It’s a specific plan that’s a reaction to changing circumstances in how the MLB works.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “They stop going to games , they stop reading forums”

      Not for nothing, but if you’re carrying the banner for those frustrated folks, aren’t you disproving your own point by commenting?

      • candyland07

        No . I am Cub fan . I can criticize and compliment the front office. I do not waste hundreds of dollars to see an inferior product at Wrigley Field . I dont buy as many Cub related items and .when summer rolls out i doubt my friends and family would want to go to Wrigley Field this is the truth. but i still make a game or two. I will try and convince some one hey lets catch a game – and the reply … Wrigley Field is usually not the first choice

        I live in Chicago, – tank city – well at least for the Cubs when they being describe on radio for the most part.

        • brainiac

          this is a crucial point. i am a longtime *cubs* fan. i do not worship middle management that don’t play baseball, i do not voyeurize rich people and think about how to save the owners extra money to increase their already gigantic profits, and i do think that a rebuild that doesn’t actually intend to rebuild has been a slave to advertising strategies more than competition.

          • BT

            Keep fighting the fight against those imaginary foes buddy. The middle management groupies salivating over owner profits. I’m sure they are out there somewhere.

        • MightyBear

          So you’re a fair weather fan. That’s ok, there’s plenty of you out there.

          • Brocktoon

            So you’re a sheep got it. Somebody using less of their discretionary income on entertainment that isn’t entertaining doesn’t make them fair weather

            • mjhurdle

              actually, that is the definition of fair-weather.
              ‘fair-weather’ is not necessarily an insult, but it is defined as someone that withdraws support when a team is not good, which is what someone is doing by choosing to not spend time/money on a team that is probably not going to be any good.
              I would argue that a vast majority of fans could be described as ‘fair-weather’. Doesn’t make them bad, but doesn’t change the fact that they are fair-weather.

              • Jon

                Withdrawing support for the team vs withdrawing support for the FO and their approach…

                If someone was a fairweather fan, they likely wouldn’t be on this message board bitching about The Plan ® and 95+ losses.

                More likely , they would be just be apathetic about it. Tuning out. Not paying attention at all

                • mjhurdle

                  “Withdrawing support for the team vs withdrawing support for the FO and their approach…:

                  doesn’t really matter why, the point is that they are withdrawing support. That is the definition of a ‘fair-weather fan’. You are projecting a negative connotation on it that doesn’t have to be there.

                  I don’t think that posting on message boards really reflects a person’s support or lack there of for a team. People post on message boards for many reasons. It could be to kill time, to distract themselves at work, to win the internet, to complain about everything, etc etc. The volume of posts online does not consistently reflect a person’s level of support for a team, at least not in my experiences.

                  • brainiac

                    let’s not start a pissing contest here. we all love the cubs a lot, clearly.

                    some of us just want to be comforted that an authority figure is in place, some of us expect good faith actions within a reasonable timeframe. that’s the debate among fans.

                    • bbmoney

                      I have a basic issue when people describe what they want using subjective terms like “reasonable”. Well …no joke, we’d all like what we consider reasonable.

                      The whole debate is about what is reasonable. Saying all you want are these things in a reasonable amount of time, is pointless. What is “reasonable” is based on the facts and circumstances in place and is defined differently by each person.

                      I want what’s reasonable too. I think the FO’s actions have been reasonable given the circumstances. You probably disagree. There’s the debate. You can try to convince someone they’re being unreasonable using facts and examples or by sharing your opinions. But the comment above is pointless because that’s what we all want. We just don’t agree on what it means.

                  • Brocktoon

                    Is there a limit to how bad a team gets before you’re allowed to stop going to as many games as the year before? If the payroll dropped to 2012 Astros payroll levels are you a fair weather fan for not going to as many games when the owner is robbing the fans blind?

                    I dropped my season tickets this year because I don’t have time to go to all the games, took a bath on resale, and don’t see the team being any good the next 2 years. Please tell me what kind of fan I am.

                    • Darth Ivy

                      I agree with this sentiment

                      If Cubs games were cheap like they were 20 years ago, that would be different. But these days, Cubs game may actually impact your budget, depending on who you are. So it’s not a decision based on how much you love the Cubs, it’s based on finances. For me, personally, it’s not worth the money.

                      The better question isn’t how many games you go to, but how many games you pay attention to. I didn’t go to a single game last year yet I paid attention to the vast majority of them in some way (tv, radio, internet). I know Cubs fans who are all about wrigley and go to lots of games, but they don’t know much about the team nor pay attention to games they don’t go to. So really, who’s the “better” fan?

                  • Brocktoon

                    How many games a year do you go to? What do you spend on cubs merchandise? I’m gonna need to see some audited receipts from the last 5 years before we can ordain you a true cubs fan

                    • candyland07

                      Just look at Wrigley Field comes May ,empty seats 5 dollar tickets on Stub Hub . The Cubs /Sox game not sold out.

                      one does not need to show receipts if all one can hear is crickets on any given game day.near Addison and Clark. on any given game day.

                    • mjhurdle

                      Who is ordaining anyone as “true Cub fans”?
                      I made a point in both posts to point out that ‘fair-weather fan’ is not a negative thing. Im not trying to proclaim anyone as either great or horrible fans.
                      The point is simply that there is a definition of ‘Fair-weather’.

                    • Brocktoon

                      But he’s still a fan who is seemingly obsessive following the team. Under no definition is that a fair weather can. As was stated earlier a fair weather fan stops paying attention when teams become embarrassing like the last few years of the cubs.

            • MightyBear

              No but somebody who goes to the game and pays attention to the team when they’re winning and doesn’t when they’re losing is.

    • BT

      I think you meant:

      [img]http://curtislowe.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/fingers-in-ears.jpg[/img]

  • Darth Ivy

    It seems like the optimism that’s still around is hindered on the hope that the Cubs actually do make significant moves soon. No one who supports the plan wants a homegrown-only team. But if they don’t do anything next off season, there will be a lot of Jons around here.

    • mjhurdle

      So you think that if the Cubs don’t do anything next off-season, then we are all turning into A’s fans?

      • Darth Ivy

        No, not at all. That’s stupid.

        We’ll all turn into Rays fans.

        • mjhurdle

          but…but…but…
          the Athletics have Sam Fuld! He “hustles” and “plays the game the right way”.
          That swings me in Oakland’s favor.

          • Darth Ivy

            oh yeah. Duh.

        • Jon

          Oakland won 96 games last year. Life is sure rough as an A’s fan.

          • D-Rock

            You would know, wouldn’t you, Jon?

            • Jon

              Did you read that Grantland piece D-Rock? Its a great tale of how Theo took over a decimated Red Sox roster and rebuilt it from the ground up. You would enjoy it.

              • D-Rock

                Yes. Loved it. Did you read the part about the Cubs system being WAY worse than what he inherited in Boston which I said the other day? I never said the Red Sox roster was “decimated” when he took over. I was trying to say, Theo took over a Red Sox team that hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years and didn’t just win one, but has now built their system to be competing in the playoffs more each year and has now won multiple rings. Before Theo, the Red Sox were good, but no one can argue pre-Theo success vs. post-Theo success in Boston. I’m sorry you still don’t believe in what he’s trying to do here in Chicago…maybe someday when the Cubs also have multiple rings, you might see it that way. Unless, by then you have moved to Oakland…

                • aaronb

                  86 years was a ridiculous bench mark though.

                  The 2004 Red Sox don’t even make the playoffs (Wildcard didn’t show up until 1995) during most of that 86 years. Much of their problem during that 86 years was sharing a division with the best team historically in MLB.

      • Edwin

        If the Cubs don’t do anyting this coming offseason, it will be very dissapointing.

        • Darth Ivy

          indeed. It’s not likely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a mid-season trade to add MLB talent

    • ssckelley

      “there will be a lot of Jons around here”

      I might have to add “jon” to the back of my profile name.

      • Darth Ivy

        We should all change our profile names to, “I am Jon”

        • Professional High A

          I will change my profile name to robert paulsen if we decide to go that route

    • Brocktoon

      I disagree. I think there’s enough people that have this Stockholm syndrome with the plan that the lack of activity next year would be written off just like this year’s was. I doubt there were many people would be ok with this offseason if you told them about it in December 2011

      • Darth Ivy

        hopefully we’ll never know who’d be right.

        • Brocktoon

          Agreed, please prove me wrong cubs.

      • TTH

        Without a doubt. If they get a couple more 2nd place finishes in FA negotiations, it will not only be accepted, but for some reason unknown reason, applauded by some. And if by some miracle they are just a pitcher or two away(which they won’t be), like this expert hints, then they’ll automatically flip a switch and be able to close deals? Doubtful.

        • Darth Ivy

          Hahaha, I’m the first person to admit that I’m not an expert in baseball operations. I’ve disclosed that countless times. And I never claimed anything about flipping a switch. All I’m saying is that people will lose a lot of optimism if they don’t do something significant this off season. There is a middle ground between flipping a switch and being a pure homegrown team.

          But the fact that you mockingly call me an expert is hilarious.

          • TTH

            It wasn’t in reference to you. Unless your first name is Ranzy, or whatever.

            • Darth Ivy

              my bad. Brocktoon was replying to my comment, so I made that assumption. my bad, sorry.

              • TTH

                Not a problem. I’ve done the same sot of thing when sorting multiple replies to a comment.

      • aaronb

        I’m sure we finish 2nd on any marquee free agent on the market next year.

  • DarthHater

    Maybe the Cubs should make Clark the new team psychologist. At least it would consolidate the hurr hurrs.

  • MightyBear

    The problem I have is that there aren’t any nor are there likely to be any top of the line, front of the rotation pitchers out there. James Shields seems to be the only pitcher that will be available and if they trade Shark and trade for Price without signing Price, they will have been wasting a lot of time and money for nothing. I say sign one of those guys if you can but I would stay the course and be more inclined to lock down the guys you currently have except for Edwin Jackson.

    • Edwin

      If the Cubs stay the course and wait for more internal options to develope, that could push back the timetable on contending a couple years. I don’t know how that would go over.

  • CUB5

    Let’s take this article with a little skepticism as the guy has been watching the Royals for many years. He wouldn’t know what building a team looks like. :P

    As to his optimism for Theo and the rest of the FO, I am still leery. Theo is 3 1/2 years into a 5 year contract that is paying him $18+ million. That’s a lot of money for what amounts to nothing right now. Lots of trading, lots of prospects, but truly what is different than any other team? We can talk about “The Plan” all we want because the Cards keep building winners, and the Pirates might actually be realizing some of their potential. If the Reds turn around their slide, then we can be in for some rough seasons. We can’t keep drafting forever.

    But seriously Theo, show me an endgame. What will his next 5 year contract cost the Cubs for the “The Plan” to actually bear fruit?? By fruit I DO mean wins and playoff appearances. We see so many teams turn around in a short time due to FA. It doesn’t mean that we can’t field a semi-competitive team while rebuilding instead of this joke…

    • brainiac

      on this note – the argument that the owners must want to spend money because they signed an expensive GM is totally disingenuous.

      maybe they wanted to bring in a talented guy like theo at a much lower rate than players so he can do more with less? and then convince the fans that they should root for theo and not their own players? mission accomplished.

      • CUB5

        It’s never a good sign when fans talk more about the FO than the players…

        • brainiac

          YES, exactly. this has never happened before…..anywhere, ever. many cubs fans have lost their baseball values.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Ya, that Billy Beane guy in Oakland has never been talked about before. There isn’t a book about him and he didn’t have Brat Pitt play him in a movie or anything like that….

            • Jon

              There could actually be a Money ball Part II, about Beane did it again, post CBA.

              • brainiac

                yeah the difference is that beane signs new veterans to school the youngsters every year, pays one or two guys the money they deserve, and is really, really smart. theo is smart, but i’m not sure he’s a billy beane. and he hasn’t done the other two things. so if he’s trying to copy beane, he isn’t following the rulebook, and the one he’s writing gets a D- for cursive.

                • noisesquared

                  Last time I checked, Theo’s resume reads 2 WS championships, which is 2 more than Beane. Why would anyone copy a less successful peer?

                  • Brocktoon

                    Maybe we should follow whatever plan that theo guy was using in boston rather than imitating Dave littlefield’s plan

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Apples and oranges

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Agreed, they did the preview for the A’s on the most recent Effectively Wild podcast from BP and they talked about how the A’s have changed their approach over the past 10 year in order to exploit market inefficiencies. The way that Beane (and Forst) do this is absolutely incredible, they are just always ahead of the curve

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              The former Cubs GM was talked about a bunch. Easily more than the team some years. And then there was that Andy guy who came from the Twins. He was definitely a celebrity GM when he came to Chicago.

              Cashman was a huge topic in New York a few seasons back. So was the group that ran the Rangers a few seasons back.

              And if we reach back further we can talk about Bill Veeck and Branch Rickey and…

              Well, I don’t think we need to go any further. For as long as there have been baseball front offices, there have been front offices that were at the front and center of the conversation for some teams, often for extended periods of time. The current situation in Chicago is in no way unique.

              • brainiac

                of course we talk about GMs and always have. it’s the change in fan values about who is most important to the team, and who fans should focus their attention on. the unfortunate outcome is that players are now merely seen as financial pawns and middle management as new heroes. cubs fans no longer root for the cubs, they root for “the owners”. players are derided immediately for not producing a WAR value that matches money. forget whatever else they’ve produced, done for the community, or how entertaining they are as players… it’s a dark time for cubs baseball.

              • CUB5

                It’s not unique, but it’s been a couple of years now and it’s still all about “The Plan.” We haven’t seen any gains unless you read Brett’s stuff. Prospects are just that. It’s time for the FO to start doing their talking on the field.

        • mjhurdle

          The FO is talked about more than the players because of 2 reasons.
          1) not many of the players on the roster now will be here in 2 years. they are temporary solutions to bridge gaps, and people understand that. I’m not going to go nuts breaking down Donnie Murphy because he is what he is, and he will be gone in a year.
          2) the FO actions will do more to determine the future success of this team than the players on the roster right now. That is why people are focusing on the prospects and the FO right now, because that is where the success will or won’t come from. How Ruggiano does in 2014 will not go a long way towards the Cubs competing in 2015/2016/2017. The moves the FO makes and the progression of the prospects will.

          • brainiac

            except that this has been a totally elective approach to the rebuild. they’re focusing on what they’ve done, because they haven’t done enough, or done what they’ve done right.

          • CUB5

            You have more patience than I then. We’ve had a couple miserable seasons, and “The Plan” has pushed back those promised golden seasons to compete further and further.

          • candyland07

            What the plan does is introduce number years like 2013/2014/2015 . Total rebuild crappy team . Then the years 2014/2015/2016 those years are not possible. still a crappy team Now you type 2015/2016/2017. and still …. by midseason it will be 2016/2017/2018……..

            I would like to Team Epstein to give an honest answer- When will the Cubs be Competitive under your plan? and for every year tact upon the original date – how mush is that yours and the owners fault.

            I think back in 2011 if team Theo said it will take 8 years to become competitive some people would laugh and have concerns that this rebuild is nothing but a smoke screen

            Team Theo got his presidency of blah, blah , and Rickets can divert more money towards a sports/ entertainment.

            What i heard was the Cubs have the funds to build the Cubs into a Contender and Build through the draft. at least one promise is being kept. We building throuh the draft.

            • terencemann

              Nobody has a crystal ball. No GM can tell you that they’re going to be competitive in year x. No GM is going to put an ultimatum on themselves like that and there’s no reason to.

              This article is horribly written and I am extremely disappointed in Grantland for publishing it in this shape and Rany for writing a piece that goes all over the place but it is completely correct in saying that:

              1. The Cubs were a terrible franchise when Epstein and Hoyer were hired
              2. The CBA changed a lot of things for a rebuilding team
              3. The team has made huge strides in the past 2 years.

      • aaronb

        I’d argue that it was a genius move by Ricketts.

        Much cheaper to buy goodwill spending 18 Million on a front office guy. 18 Million over 5 years doesn’t buy you much in the way of big name players.

        • YourResidentJag

          I’ve often thought this myself.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      If any team in baseball knows the process that the Cubs are currently going through, it’s the Royals

      • CUB5

        Great, so we are going to need 25+ more years? The Royals are still rebuilding after that 85 season! LOL

    • Brocktoon

      He’s been here for 2 1/2 years, though more important this past (non)offseason was his 3rd

      • brainiac

        this is right, GM years are defined by offseasons, by which he has had 3 years. next year we should see major improvements based upon any typical rebuild strategy from a top-tier big market team

  • Jon

    The Cubs’ lowly place in the standings has handed Epstein and Hoyer the one weapon denied them in Boston: draft picks at the top of the first round. This summer the Cubs will have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year. The first of them, Javier Baez, is the only one of the top five prospects the front office inherited who hasn’t been a huge disappointment

    *The other four: Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, Trey McNutt, and Dillon Maples.

    The fallout of Jackson and McNutt sucks and does hurt, but Szczur and Maples were never considered top prospects. Yes Szczur did sneak into the top 5 for a brief while in 2012, but not much after that. Maples is a bit rediculous, he was a high school overslot from March of that year. And the book still isn’t closed on him..he pulled a 180 on his demotion to Boise.

    Also no mention of Alcantara? Vogelbach?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It looks like he was literally using a top five list as of the time of the transition.

      • Edwin

        It’s slightly misleading, though. Also, Baez has turned into one of the top prospects in all of baseball, which is a pretty big thing to inherit.

        It just seems like Jazayerli is trying to pile on the idea that Epstein and Hoyer inherited nothing from the former front office. But that just isn’t true. They didn’t inherit a ton of talent, but the cuboard wasn’t completely bare either.

  • Kyle

    The Rany article was hilarious. It could be summarized thusly:

    A) Bunch of stuff about his kids that no one cares about
    B) A list of really good reasons why the league has caught up to the current front office and they are unlikely to ever repeat their success in Boston
    C) Rah-rah, ignore all that stuff I just said, they’re going to win a World Series, I promise.

    • mjhurdle

      The Kyle post in response to a positive Cubs article was hilarious.
      It could be summed up thusly:

      1) Find something meaningless and arbitrary within the article, unrelated to the main point, and then complain about it.
      2) Find something in the article that is supports his opinion, then build unintended meaning into it.
      3) Dismiss anything else as rah-rah fluff piece journalism

      • Brocktoon

        You think, “they’re definitely winning a World Series” was some Pulitzer level stuff?

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          Is anyone claiming that?

          • Jon

            “But a Cubs world championship? It’s coming. And you won’t need a DeLorean to see it.”

            • BT

              So your view is the Cubs will never win a world series? Period?

              RJ isn’t claiming it will happen in the next 2 years. But he is claiming they will win one in a reasonable amount of time. It’s not an unreasonable hypothesis.

              • Jon

                Maybe they will, Maybe they won’t.

                I was just answering a question. The article seems to sate a WS is definite.

              • Edwin

                Praising the Cubs current front office for turning the Cubs into a contender sometime in the long term seems like pretty hollow praise. On a long enough timeline, most teams experience a 2-3 year window of success or more.

              • Kyle

                It’s unreasonable to project confidently that they’ll win one under this front office.

                Given the length of time this organization projects to be in place and the difficulty of winning a WS, it’s probably not a 50/50 proposition.

                • Norm

                  It’s never a 50/50 proposition for any franchise at any time.

                  • Kyle

                    Then people need to quit saying things like “When we win the WS …”

                    • BT

                      Right. Because that line was the entire point of the lengthy article that you found “hilarious”.

                      I’m reminded of the hit song from “Frozen” for some reason…

          • Brocktoon

            Pulitzer was exaggeration.

      • Edwin

        These responses can be summed up thusly:

        i) Making lists is fun to do
        ii) Making lists makes your point look more professional
        iii) Having a 3rd thing to list is always important

        • mjhurdle

          Nice use of the ‘i’. Your list is superior to my use of the generic numbered bullet style. Well done sir :)

          • YourResidentJag

            Nice way to go after something meaningless and arbitrary which you claim Kyle is doing. :)

            • mjhurdle

              no, i honestly like his style better than mine. I wasn’t going after something meaningless and arbitrary, i was praising something meaningless and arbitrary.
              and i also think his list is superior than mine :)

              • Edwin

                Proper list contruction and number formatting is a decent section of the “how to comment on a blog” class that someone should put together.

              • YourResidentJag

                Nice reframing….as if I really don’t know what your real intentions are behind that post…and quite frankly, still don’t. :)

      • ssckelley

        Mjhurdle, it is very possible your #1 could be related to a reading comprehension problem Kyle has. Or it could be an ego problem.

    • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

      Listen, at worst, it was a nice recap of what has, is and will be going on with th Chicago cubs on the major league, minor league, and financial side.

    • BT

      If that is what you took from it, your sheen of “seriousness” is gone.

      • Kyle

        When the small-minded disagree with someone, they look for any excuse they can find to dismiss them in totality.

        The main thing I took from it was that they tried to hire Rany, which was interesting. The rest was just rehash.

        • ssckelley

          Not sure I would go that far to call you small minded. Don’t be that rough on yourself.

        • BT

          Hey, I missed this yesterday too! Kyle calls me names again!

          You really are a piece of work Kyle.

  • Isaac

    In the vain of propagating lists, two things that will never cease to amaze me:

    – Kyle’s ability to complain about everything. Literally everything. Seriously, it is an ability. An awful, demoralizing, depressing and totally unnecessary ability, but still, an ability.

    – The insistence of a large contingent of people to insist on attempting to diminish anything good the current front office has done -while unintentionally praising the former front office- by drawing one name from the past (Baez), even though that name should probably more heavily reflect on the current front office (because of development), and continuing to ignore the DOZENS of intriguing names added to the system. I do not believe there is an intelligent mind among those making these arguments.

    • Edwin

      Would have been better you had thought up a third thing. Rule of 3, ya know?

      • Isaac

        Ha, rules.

    • Jon

      If you give them credit on Baez’ development, then they have to take the blame on fucking up Castro.

      • JCubs79

        Which they did.

      • waittilthisyear

        fuck man, every single positive does not have to be balanced out by a negative. we are all aware of the weaknesses and failures of this this club, the record speaks for itself. but there are positives as well. keep it to your fucking self for once

        • brainiac

          this comment i can get behind. the mcleod deserves many awards and promotions for how quickly he’s stocked our system.

      • waittilthisyear

        you’d think the undressing Brett laid upon you yesterday may encourage you to show a little humility

        • Jon

          To say the FO get’s the most credit for Baez development is a bit absurd. Mainly because he’s still pretty much the hack-tatsic player he was when drafted.

          Why can’t we just leave as is, he was a great piece inherited by the FO and move on?

          • JCubs79

            Except he’s not a hack-tastic player anymore. He doesn’t swing at everything and he’s improved in his pitch recognition skills at every level.. Have you read any scouting report on him from the last 6 months or so? You just keep spewing nonsense over and over again.

            • Jon

              And what still defines him as a generational prospect, is that elite bat speed and power. The same swing he had when drafted.

              We don’t have to play these games, is it so hard to admit, “hey, you know what, that was a great prospect handed over to the new regime” vs “well, he wouldn’t have been shit if not for Theo”

              • Isaac

                Aggrandizing the statements to make your point is foolish and ridiculous. No one said Baez was anything but great. In fact, no one said much of anything regarding his talent besides you (hacktastic). The simple point remains, he is used as a demonstration of why this front office is incompetent. It’s a point I find absurd. Of course it was a nice piece to inherit, but it certainly didn’t go very far after that.

                • Jon

                  Baez has never been used as a “he is used as a demonstration of why this front office is incompetent”. I don’t know where you get that…
                  He is just used as a counterpoint to the “horrible farm system inherited” narrative.

                  • Isaac

                    It just seems to be a common thing to shout “no no no no they inherited Baez!!”….I’ll look for examples later, if you truly have the desire.

                    • Kyle

                      So that would be an example to show that they didn’t inherit nothing, as is often claimed, not that they are incompetent.

                    • Isaac

                      That would be if one believed that the haters always argue with pragmatism (inherited argument vs. incompetence). I happen to believe the haters almost never argue with pragmatism.

                  • Isaac

                    To be fair, I want to comment and say that I agree with your point about Castro. They definitely failed to recognize who he was (is) as a player. Other things I haven’t liked from the day the FO made the move:

                    – Trading for Ian Stewart
                    – Signing Edwin Jackson – wrong timing
                    – Failing to deal Schierholtz at the 2013 deadline- (if commonly believed rumors of possible returns are true)

                    Not everything has been perfect…no question. It’s the mentality and commitment to the plan that impress me. Steadfast determination.

                    • Jon

                      To be fair on my part, I also acknowledge that if they did nothing with Castro, it’s possible the league would have caught up with his approach at the plate and he would have regressed anyways. (Garry Templeton?)

                    • Isaac

                      Possible…he may also still be a decent hitter. We’ll find out. One of the more interesting 2014 story lines.

    • brainiac

      the difference is that some posters with real-world experience in these matters (like Kyle) get frustrated by obviously failed or never-meant-to-succeed moves, and you’re frustrated with the pointing out of these failings. in psychiatry they call this transference, and a lot of you transfer your frustrations to a scapegoat simply because he makes too much sense. you’re disappointment is in yourself, not a pragmatic baseball analyst.

      • BT

        So if someone were to constantly target a person as a failure like, say Theo, that person may actually be disappointed in them self? That IS interesting.

        • brainiac

          hah i’m just punting a little. my basic point is that i think Kyle is the best cubs fan out there, who says the most sensible things, and cares the most about this process. he sees the minutia we don’t and his way of expressing his investments comes through in his desire for theo to do his job right. most people think this has been a messed up and sometimes disturbing process, except in the blogocubosphereo.

          • DarthHater

            Geez, brains, did Kyle slip you some spanish fly or something? :-P

          • BT

            You think Kyle is the bestest, most smartest, because he agrees with you. It doesn’t go much deeper than that.

            • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

              +1

            • ssckelley

              ^ this

            • YourResidentJag

              I’m sure, while you commenting on this, secretly you’re doing the same with any poster giving Kyle counterpoints.

      • Isaac

        Kyle = pragmatic = Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

        Figure out “you’re” and “your”, then we can talk about psychiatry.

        • Patrick W.

          Look, Kyle frustrates me as much as the next guy, but he is pragmatic. Negative pragmatism is pragmatism. Essentially, I think, Kyle’s point of view is just because something has a positive outcome doesn’t mean the idea behind it is necessarily the reason that happened. If something doesn’t work (i.e. the Cubs never make the playoffs during the regime of this F.O.), the notion that drove that thing (focus on building a world class farm system at the expense of the Major League team) cannot be true, but if something does work (the Cubs make it to the World Series), the notion behind that thing could or could not be true (they may have gotten there because of the moves of this F.O. but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the ‘right’ way).

          • Isaac

            Disagree. Pragmatism by definition requires sensibility. I find nothing sensible about his arguments.

            “dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.”

            – Pragmatic

            • Patrick W.

              I suggest we don’t disagree. It is unrealistic, and insensible, to believe one way of doing things is the absolute cause for a specific outcome, just because the outcome is positive. What I get out of most of Kyle’s negative comments is that people are all too willing to accept that the Cubs had to do things the way they are doing things if they wanted sustained success. There is no proof of that idea. Absent any control we can’t really know. Just because I think it is a smart way of doing things doesn’t mean I have to believe it’s the best/fastest/ONLY way to do this. Kyle just doesn’t agree it’s a smart way of doing things, and he has more proof right now than I do. I *believe* it’s going to work but that’s all hypothesis right now. Kyle (and I) *know* it hasn’t worked yet, and that’s completely realistic and sensible to say.

              Just because he incessantly posts this point of view over and over and over again as if we don’t all KNOW what he thinks doesn’t make him less pragmatic, it just makes him more annoying. Which is fine, I like to be annoyed, it makes me wonder why I believe what I believe.

              • Isaac

                Haha. This was funny and well written. I’ll drop this argument. Kyle drives me insane and probably needs professional help, but I admit that he adds substance to the board.

              • D-Rock

                This was funny. Thank you for that good laugh, Patrick!

          • YourResidentJag

            This.

      • Kyle

        Where on earth did you get the idea that I have real-world experience in anything?

        • YourResidentJag

          Well, I gotta say, Kyle, raising a special needs child does give first-hand, unique insight into people with disabilities, and probably more so than most on here. Does that count?

  • DrReiCow

    That Grantland piece was a great read. Randomly reminded me how much I want us to trade for Price.

    Moo!

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  • bnile1

    Great read, It’ a lot if ino I have seen mentioned in other articles all gathered into 1, Not sure I agree with trading for price mostly becasue you are seein velovity and injury issues starting to crop up on him, He may be the next big free agent(or extension) bust. IMHO

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