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theo epstein about thatThe Chicago Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein offered some thoughts on the season ahead, and also was profiled in a hell of a great piece in ESPN The Magazine …

  • Theo Epstein let the media know that he wouldn’t be discussing the Jeff Samardzija situation – extension or trade – during the season (Tribune). I think that’s perfectly fair to say after an offseason of questions, and you want to protect your player so that he can perform distraction free. On the other hand, I think it’s perfectly fair for the media to start asking again in a couple months. It’s a legit story, and likely to be among the most important ones in the Cubs’ world at that time. (A prior version of the Tribune piece made it sound like Epstein was saying the Cubs and Samardzija wouldn’t talk about an extension during the season, but that has since been corrected. Big potential difference there.)
  • On this season, Epstein says he hopes the Cubs surprise (ESPNChicago, Cubs.com), which is something they could actual do with relative ease, given the extremely low expectations for the team this year. (Each article has a little more from Epstein on the season ahead and fan support despite the struggles of late, and the Cubs.com piece also has some thoughts from Starlin Castro on the team’s confidence.)
  • And it sounds like Epstein has a similar thought on how the Cubs could surprise as I offered on Sunday when I evaluated the roster, and said the two things it has going for it are youth/potential upside, and versatility/flexibility. Here’s Epstein’s take, per ESPNChicago: “There are plenty of players with upside on this roster. We have some increased flexibility.” It’s true. The odds of a surprise remain low, but this is the kind of roster that can surprise, if a surprise is going to happen.
  • ESPN The Magazine had a fantastic profile on Epstein (and Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod) and the Cubs, and they were good enough to share it online for everyone to read. Which you should. Among the interesting parts: a look at scouting and analysis under the previous regime (to say that the organization was woefully behind the times is an understatement in the extreme), which used to feature scouting reports like this: “Plus-plus makeup — I love this kid.” Full stop. Yikes.
  • For those who haven’t been paying attention over the last year and a half, Epstein sums up the state of things in that ESPN piece: “There is going to be a time when we are a financial superpower again. We’ll have the entire landscape available to us. In this interim, we have to be focused on scouting and development.” The money will come – a little at first, and a boatload later – but, during these first few years, the focus has always been tearing down and building up (even if there was some hedging to try and compete in the early months of 2013 and 2014, if at all possible). Try to cleanse that off-the-cuff parallel fronts comment from your mind, because it’s quite clear that one front has always been the primary (and rightfully most important) front – and even moreso after certain financial and CBA realities became clear. Fortunately, on that (building up from the ground) front, Epstein remains perfectly pleased, and I suspect we’ll start to really see the fruit this year in the minors, with a hopeful eye toward the near-term future.
  • chifords2000

    The “plus-plus” comment sounds exactly like Hendry.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Think Kalish and that is who Theo is talking about

  • Kyle

    The part where the Cubs are training pitch recognition using neurologically-developed video game systems gives me such a massive chubby.

    This is the kind of stuff that makes me love-hate Epstein so much. He’s capable of so much more than he’s delivered, but he seems completely enamored with the idea of building from scratch whether than doing what is best for the organization.

    • C. Steadman

      “but he seems completely enamored with the idea of building from scratch”

      He’s not making the dough anymore though. The dough is in the oven and we can smell the deliciousness. There’s probably still some time left on the timer, but soon it’ll be done and we can have our cookies.

      • C. Steadman

        and that’s just the first batch.

      • Kyle

        I hate metaphors. They’re like a disease that spreads through fandom.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I hate similes …

        • C. Steadman

          “I hate metaphors.”

          Deal with it, it’s the internet. Also, you’re the one that said Epstein is enamored with building from scratch which reminded me of his cookie quote, and it was a match made in heaven.

          • ssckelley

            I thought it was awesome!

            • C. Steadman

              Thanks kelley

      • StevanBennett

        I love it. Perfectly describes how MOST of us Cubs fans feel!

    • ari gold

      Kyle, what if building from scratch is doing what’s best for the organization? I’m sure you read the ESPN article by the scouts. It really sounds like they were 100 years behind the times. I don’t think rebuilding on the fly was going to work. Especially since we have massive payroll constraints from the purchase.

      • Kyle

        You can modernize the organization without tanking the MLB team. Those two things aren’t connected.

        • Norm

          Yes, we know. Theo’s way isn’t the ONLY way, you don’t agree with Theo’s way, you think they should try to win incrementally more games and spend $10′s of millions for small, steady progression, this discussion will go on forever and ever until Theo either wins or fails.

          • Kyle

            I didn’t bring it up, Brett did. Blame him.

          • YourResidentJag

            They really should. It fits the business model of being successful. They really need to draw 3 million fans yearly to be successful moneymaker at Wrigley.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Sigh. So your “solution” was to go on a free agency buying spree to artificially prop up short terms results on the field (maybe) while sacrificing draft picks, to include high draft picks. Or in other words, try slapping some more lipstick on the flawed pig that has been Cub baseball ever since Dallas Green left town.

          Get over yourself. Also dial up the intelligence.

          • Kyle

            Explain to me, in intimate detail, how meaningful draft picks are lost by signing useful baseball players to your major league roster.

            • Blackhawks1963

              Explain to me how puffing up on Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton, et al solves the fundamental problems that have plagued this organization for nearly 3 decades.

              Theo is doing a superlative job and has been painfully clear from day one…there are no shortcuts. If you need an insulin injection via pissing away big dollars and draft picks on free agents to make you happy, then you follow the wrong team. Theo is trying to build this in a sustainable way like what they have in Boston, St. Louis, Texas, Washington. No more of this living in denial bullcrap. No more signing a bunch of tired free agents in feeble attempt to mask the inability to build a quality and consistent pipeline of talent.

              And less time I checked, TheoJed have been quite active in free agency. A lot of pieces added actually to bridge the gap to a brighter future. You want to piss away $75 million on a BJ Upton or $125 million on a Josh Hamiltion to make yourself feel better and live in more denial? Then go for it.

              • Kyle

                “Explain to me how puffing up on Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton, et al solves the fundamental problems that have plagued this organization for nearly 3 decades.”

                They don’t. Adding good players to your MLB roster simply prevents a separate set of problems from emerging while you simultaneously fix those problems.

                “Theo is trying to build this in a sustainable way like what they have in Boston, St. Louis, Texas, Washington.”

                No he isn’t. The only team on that list whose buildup resembled this is Washington. I *want* him to build the way Boston, St. Louis and Texas did, but he isn’t.

                “And less time I checked, TheoJed have been quite active in free agency. A lot of pieces added actually to bridge the gap to a brighter future. You want to piss away $75 million on a BJ Upton or $125 million on a Josh Hamiltion to make yourself feel better and live in more denial? Then go for it.”

                No one brought up those players but you. They did do a nice job spending in one offseason out of three. Not good enough.

                • Blackhawks1963

                  I can’t fix stupid. Therefore will cease trying. St. Louis has the foundation of a great farm system. Ditto Washington, Oakland, Texas and especially Boston. That is what Theo is going here. When the timing is right, then he has been very clear that additive pieces via free agency will happen. For example, like how St. Louis went out and added Jhnny Peralta to what they already have. Or how Boston went out and added Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino to what they already had.

                  Your schtick and/or ignornance is tiring.

                  • Kyle

                    The problem is that you think “having a great farm system” is the only thing that’s happening here.

                    Everyone agrees having a great farm system is awesome, but there are different ways to accomplish it, and we’re choosing a bad one.

                • C. Steadman

                  “The only team on that list whose buildup resembled this is Washington.”

                  B/c previously to Theo regime, the Cubs were terribly mismanaged, not like how Montreal/Washington was but to similar effects to where both organizations ended up. I don’t think St. Louis has ever been terribly mismanaged so we can’t compare the beginning product(the Cubs when Epstein first took over) and the process to them(the building years to a competitive roster)…only the finished/sustaining product(once the Cubs are finally competitive) will be able for comparison.

                  • Kyle

                    So if the Cubs’ situation isn’t comparable, why do we keep bringing those teams up?

                    • C. Steadman

                      We(at least I am) are comparing where we want the the finished product to be, not the routes we take to get there. We can’t compare to the red team from MO, because, unfortunately, they have been run well since the mid-90s(which isn’t comparable to the 2010s because of CBAs, different restrictions, etc.)

                    • C. Steadman

                      We can’t compare our route to the route they took back in the 90s I mean

                • ari gold

                  St. Louis and Texas completely negate your argument. The talent in those 2 organizations were much much higher than the Cubs. Once we actually have talent like them, then we maintain like them.

                  • Jon

                    How convenient how you can dictate what this rebuild can and can’t be compared to.

                    • ari gold

                      I didn’t. Kyle did

                    • Kyle

                      Steadman did toooooooo. /whine

            • 70′s Cub

              We want a real farm/development system in place! As along time Cub fan I want to see the day when the Cubs reload instead of rebuilding. I can wait! This FO is very capable of standing up to the Card organization.

              • Darth Ivy

                DING DING DING

                “I can wait!”

                That sums up the entire issue.

              • Kyle

                I want that too. I also want a competent MLB club in parallel to it.

                • 70′s Cub

                  Competent MLB club is now, this roster is balanced well, just don’t have enough young impact talent! Most positions “organization open” as in more than one candidate competing for example 3rd base OLT, Baez, Christain and Bryant. As the time approaches the CUB FO like the Yankees, Bosox and Dodgers will buy the front line pitching.

                  • 70′s Cub

                    Really all three out field positions are still open along with 2nd. 3rd and line 1 and line 2 starters!

                • SenorGato

                  Wow, sounds like someone wants to have his cake and eat it too.

                  • Edwin

                    What’s the point of having cake that you can’t eat?

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

                      Decorative throw cakes. They look great for that split second before you take them off the counter and throw them on the floor so you can actually use the counter for something useful.

                    • roz

                      This saying always confused me too, because I would immediately think “Well of course I want to eat it. Why else would I want a cake?” However, it actually means that you can’t eat your cake and then still have the cake sitting right there in front of to make you feel special about having a nice fancy cake. You either eat it or you let it sit there and you appreciate it. Can’t have both.

        • Diehardthefirst

          N’Sync —drink your kool aid

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “You can modernize the organization without tanking the MLB team. Those two things aren’t connected.”

          Whether they are separate things or not doesn’t really matter. One is a good thing to do, and one is the organic byproduct of doing other good things for this particular organization.

          • 70′s Cub

            Cubs are not tanking!

          • Kyle

            If it was an organic byproduct of doing other good things for this particular organization, we wouldn’t be 127-198 under this front office.

            Or maybe they aren’t doing enough good things?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              That doesn’t make any sense.

              Good for the organization =/= produces wins immediately.

              • Kyle

                Ok, I misread what you said. You meant that losing was the organic byproduct.

                I disagree, but it makes more sense when I read it right.

                • Kyle

                  (please not anyone who thinks I only accuse others of reader error)

                  • Kyle

                    *note

          • 1060Ivy

            Ricketts supposedly sold the idea of purchasing the club to his father with the concept that 3 MM show up for Wrigley regardless of wins and losses. The club still has tickets available for a Friday Opening Day this year. This club will most likely be looking at the attendance figures well below last year’s which were at 1998 levels.

            Given the Cubs reliance on attendance – compared to other MLB teams – that’s potentially problematic given that the organization is also attempting to establish additional revenue streams from additional in stadium advertising. BTW, anyone notice that PNC will no longer be sponsoring the PNC Club at Wrigley and as of last week they are still looking for a sponsor for the ticketed area?

            Ricketts has done significant modernizing including the Dominican Academy, Mesa park, and bringing scouting and player development into the current era. In addition, the organization truly modernized the old Reinsdorf commentary of ‘team will spend when fans show up’ to today’s ‘when business plan synchs to baseball plan’. At least a 12 year old could understand – and might agree – with Reinsdorf’s comments. Find it interesting that business plans come up repeatedly in Cubs commentary.

            My bigger concerns are the damage that racking up continuous years of losing by fielding non-competitive MLB teams has done to the clubs ability to generate revenue and associated fan enthusiasm.

            It’s pathetic that many pundits are writing off not just this year, nor this year and next year but 2019 as potentially a Cubs year.

            Fans blame the situation on numerous characters and situations including: the Tribune’s sales terms, the CBA, Chicago politics, Wrigley Field, Cub fans, a curse, Ricketts and/or the Front Office. I don’t know what’s at fault nor do I really care but the organization needs to start demonstrating on field progress or market/communicate differently than current capabilities.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              “It’s pathetic that many pundits are writing off not just this year, nor this year and next year but 2019 as potentially a Cubs year.”

              You’re certainly right about that.

              • YourResidentJag

                I actually thought the post was well-constructed.

    • Head and Heart

      I feel like any front office in baseball is going to do their best to create and sustain a winner based on the factors of each individual team and market. I can’t think of a single good reason to do anything less than their best to build that winner. I am sure our front office is doing what they think is the most effective way of building a winner given their individual set of circumstances. Some of which we know and some of which we probably don’t.

    • YourResidentJag

      Well, his manual dates back to 2004. It’s not previous regime outdated–but

  • ssckelley

    Oh boy, this one could go 200 comments deep.

    • Jon

      These FO defense articles are starting to get tiring, to be honest. The old scouts didn’t have iphones, oh the agony.

      You know this probably isn’t/wasn’t unique to the Cubs.

      • ari gold

        I think the point of the article went way over your head.

        • C. Steadman

          I doubt he even read it.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Bingo.

      • Sandberg

        Oh the irony

  • Kyle

    Great players
    Good players with upside
    Average players with upside
    Average players
    Bad players with upside
    Bad players with no upside

    Congratulations on filling the roster with the second-worst kind of player, I guess.

    • http://BN Sacko

      That’s how it appears to me also. So far. And the continuation of taking pitches and a non AB taking a walk. Somebody just hit the damn thing!

    • 70′s Cub

      New management in any successful business turn around situation has a habit of canning this type of cancer. Simple evaluate your talent at all levels within the organization is it older and not as good as the competition (CARDS). Create and implement a program to deal with it and get to the level needed. Filling the roster includes Low A players at the right age at each level, through MLB how many ways does new management need to explain the strategy? Over 25/26 years old is outside the Cub time line.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Balancing act to keep fans coming while best players are in the minors- PT Barnum would be proud

    • Blackhawks1963

      Let me guess, the drum and the cymbal are located right next to your mouse, right? Good stuff as always Shecky. Which city does your lounge act take you next?

    • 70′s Cub

      Fans want to see young impact talent period, management wants control of such talent till player age 30. Repetitive stupid sucks!

  • Jon

    They really are throwing Svuem under the bus, still. It’s a good thing Happy speaks Spanish, I guess.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Yet another productive comment. You’re on a roll. We get it…you think Ricky Renteria was a very weak hire and apparently also like to zing him for having Mexican bloodlines. He was born in California by the way.

    • J. L.

      I think you deserve to be called Smarty for coming up with such a witty nickname for Renteria as Happy.

      • Jon

        I can’t take credit for it actually…

  • Diehardthefirst

    Would love to see Bud grilled the way GM CEO being grilled as we speak- Live on CNBC

    • Darth Ivy

      CEOs run circles around congressional officials. They may sound like tough questions, but this CEO came in with a plan and will leave this hearing unscathed.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Buds successor may be picked based on assurance that he won’t tattle- but subpoenas are a wonderful thing

        • Darth Ivy

          Tattle for what? You think mlb gave players steroids?

  • Diehardthefirst

    By analogy Buds successor may be called before congress to discuss how Bud ran MLB and watch the fireworks

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The good news is that the first month is probably going to set the tone for the rest of the season. I think the pitching and defense will be there, but offensively it is weak. To shut the Pirates down for nine innings was no insignificant task. But to go 0 for 11 with RISP is just plain depressing. I don’t want to tarnish Theo’s wonder boy image, but what if Rizzo doesn’t hit left handed pitching? What if he and Castro just lack that killer instinct? You know the kind that Aramis Ramirez had. You see guys like Braun that come up in those situations and you just know they are going to hurt you. I know it’s only one game, but it reminded me of where we left off last year. If you think this is not rolling around in the minds of Rizzo and Castro, then think again. We need some guys with that “I’m gonna make you pay sucka” attitude on this team. Like I said, with this schedule we have in the next 30 days or so we are going to know real fast how the season is going to progress.

    • Brocktoon

      Braun Career: .312/.374/.564
      Braun RISP: .312/.385/.558

      Rizzo Career: .237/.323/.410
      Rizzo RISP: .218/.331/.349

      Castro Career: .282/.322/.403
      Castro RISP: .276/.326/.386

      Ramirez Career: .285/.345/.501
      Ramirez RISP: .294/.370/.531

      So only Rizzo shows a marked difference in RISP situations, and I’d bet all I own it’s not due to a lack of “killer instinct”

      • Brocktoon

        Strike that, permanent meatball whipping boy, Aramis Ramirez showed a marked difference on the positive side.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          That’s not close to being a marked difference. ARam has had only 1643 ABs with RiSP. That means he’s gotten about 16 more hits than expected: just over 1 extra “clutch” hit per year.

          If you divide up 6006 ABs into 1643 ABs and 4363 ABs at random, then you’d expect this big a deviation or greater (for good or ill) in over half of all ball-players.

          • Brocktoon

            Oh for fuck’s sake

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Hey, it just adds to your point! This whole idea that there are guys out there with “killer instincts” for driving people home is just another belief that won’t go away. Rizzo is not relatively worse (or better) than ARam or anybody else.

  • Cubbie in NC

    The part that I have never understood was the sustainability.

    The minor league system sucks and needed to be built up. I get that and am 100% behind it. Was losing at the MLB level the only way to build up the system to compete?

    Then what happens after 5 years of being good?

    Are we counting on the system being so good by then that high draft picks won’t matter anymore? Or is he counting on the landscape of things in MLB changing? Or buying more talent at that point and acting like the Dodgers and the Yankees?

    • C. Steadman

      “Then what happens after 5 years of being good?”

      Hopefully by then player development investments(DR facility, AZ facility, and staff to implement the “Cubs Way”) are fulling established and paying off so later picks can be developed in a way similar how that red team from Missouri develops their later picks.

      • Kyle

        “Hopefully by then player development investments(DR facility, AZ facility, and staff to implement the “Cubs Way”) are fulling established and paying off so later picks can be developed in a way similar how that red team from Missouri develops their later picks.”

        Those things are fully established now. We couldn’t we be using them to develop those later picks, rather than needing to pick in the top 5 every year?

        • C. Steadman

          The Arizona facility just got finished earlier this year and the DR facility(finished in May 2013) will take longer to bear fruit due to the ages of the players that begin training there. Also, yes the facilities are finished but just because we have nice facilities doesn’t mean we’ll churn out good prospects. It helps, but also need well-trained staff to implement the player development plan across all levels of the minors.

          • Kyle

            It’s been three years. We don’t have well-trained staff yet? Does that mean our current crop of prospects are being trained by sub-optimal staff? Should I be worried?

            • C. Steadman

              We probably do now, which is why we are seeing non-Big Four guys making great strides.

              • Kyle

                So the staff and the facilities are in place, so we don’t need to be terrible to acquire and develop meaningful prospects, right?

                So why are we still terrible?

                • C. Steadman

                  B/c they haven’t been in place these past three years…they took three years to put in place/begin to work.

      • Cubbie in NC

        It will be interesting to see at what point the decision is made that the system is full enough to sign some guys that can help now, even if that is without costing draft pick compensation.

    • terencemann

      Yes, it is really hard to focus on rebuilding a team through homegrown talent if your first pick is in the middle of the first round. It is especially hard under the new CBA where you can’t pay a guy too much over-slot if he falls to you due to sign-ability concerns.

      I’d rather win 68 games and get premium draft talent than win 78 games and be forced to take a toolsy player with a long long way to go (like Courtney Hawkins) or be forced to take a college guy with a short path to the majors but a low ceiling (like a lot of the Cubs’ picks from the Hendry regime).

      • Brocktoon

        Or you show why you’re the biggest and baddest front office in baseball and draft actual good players?

    • 70′s Cub

      Hi terencemann, I just think management made the evaluation they were going to suck anyway and went down the path of rebuilding ASAP. Business decision age 26/27 and under in terms of long term contracts.

  • Diehardthefirst

    The Cubs minor league pitching is still subpar and Theo can’t avoid blame for that

    • Cubbie in NC

      After not getting Tanaka and Sanchez (which I do not fault him for) I think his ability to get starters that are good enough to succeed in the playoffs is going to be a huge challenge. He is going to need two guys through FA or trade. Some of his trades have set that market pretty high right now.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Tanaka was massively overpaid and given an opt-out clause after 4 years. Theo and company did a great job on that one.

        • Brocktoon

          I did a great job not signing Tanaka as well.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            No, you do a great of trolling on the BN message boards, big difference

            • YourResidentJag

              So, they signed Tanaka then? When can I see him?

              • Jon

                April 15th or 16th..(possibly)

    • another JP

      Sure he can– the pitching in the minors is light years ahead of where it was when Theo took over. We just can’t prove it’s better yet until Hendricks, Vizcaino, Edwards & company reach the big-time.

    • terencemann

      I wouldn’t say the Cubs minor league pitching is sub-par. They lack a player who looks like a future ace or a lot of pitchers who look like solid #2-#3 type pitchers (no Alex Meyers and their best pitching prospect reminds me of Chris Archer from past seasons only in the sense that he has a good ceiling but he could end up a good reliever instead of a starter).

      To say the minor league pitching is bad is missing the point, though. They lack the balance between position players and pitching like other top farm systems but part of that is the extreme amount of future positional talent in the system. If they get another Garza-esque deal for Samardzija, that would change things. I think the Braves and A’s have shown us that, if you have enough quantity of pitching talent, you don’t need to raise a home-grown ace to compete with your pitching staff. Some guys should end up a little better than you hoped and some guys will end up a little worse.

      • terencemann

        You can credit Epstein and Hoyer for making the minor league and major league pitching a heck of a lot better than when they arrived.

        • terencemann

          I meant to say major league pitching outlook. You can’t give them credit for Samardizja but they have added a lot of players with a lot of control who will help the team at the major league level.

    • C. Steadman

      Actually, the minor league pitching as a whole is pretty good, just missing a true ace prospect, but not many systems have that. Missing a true ace prospect doesn’t make the Cubs minor league pitching “subpar”.

      • Edwin

        The Cubs have a lack of arms that profile as decent starters in MLB. That’s why their minor league system is subpar.

        • C. Steadman
          • C. Steadman

            LHSP is a little light, won’t deny that.

          • SenorGato

            That’s a less exciting list than might be imagined. Edwards is the closest thing to a top guy, Johnson’s upside has consistently been overstated (IMO), Blackburn hasn’t even thrown a 50 inning season in the pros yet, Underwood is raw as all hell, Wells lost velocity, McNeil had TJ surgery, Zastrzny is an upgrade from Rusin/Raley/Jokisch as a pitcher but those guys weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire…Masek spent last college season mostly injured…Frazier can be a mess mechanically…Skulina could be Scott Feldman, but isn’t a huge upside guy….Paniagua might have a huge arm but is really a mystery…Tseng is interesting but he’s also 16-17 (I’m not uninterested in Erling Moreno’s progress this year either)…

            OTOH they’ve definitely made a ton of progress as far as pitching is concerned AND there is a ton of room for these guys to go up. Alot of them are so new they just don’t have enough innings to get any kind of read on. By alot I mean all, as Edwards and Johnson are still mysteries themselves despite being the workhorses of the group.

            • ssckelley

              Gato, it is not overly exciting because there are not TOR prospects on that list which is what pretty much everyone has been saying. The exciting list is our prospects list that are positional players.

              If these positional players play up to their ceilings or floors then the Cubs will be able to get away with a starting rotation full of #3, #4, and #5 type pitchers. Plus they can still acquire an arm via trade or free agency.

        • Edwin

          Dude. I’m on Bleacher Nation every day. Use your own thoughts, or summarize, but please don’t link back to something as if it’s the first time I’ve seen it. Especially when it’s an opinion piece like that one. I enjoy Luke’s work and appreciate the above and beyound coverage he provides, but he’s not the most unbiased source when it comes to these things. Simply listing a ton of names and saying “he has potential” doesn’t really prove anything. I could find similar reports about the pitching depth from at least 20 other teams if I searched enough.

          The Cubs have a lot of pitchers who are in the lower part of the minors, so they could easily start to cycle upwards in a hurry. But until that actually starts to happen, the Cubs don’t have arms that profile as decent starters in MLB. Lets not count our chickens before they hatch.

          At the moment, the Cubs pitching in the minors is subpar. That could easily change this season.

          • C. Steadman

            I did use my own thoughts which you responded to, Cubs have good depth of pitching with multiple guys that project to be 3-5 guys, just lacking potential aces(1-2) which is right where a lot other organizations are, which means the Cubs system is par not sub par. I linked Luke’s article because it’s exactly how I feel just a more in-depth explanation of it.

            • SenorGato

              I’d go 4-5, lacking 1-3 guys. Edwards is probably the only guy I could kinda sorta see the 3 in. Lots of bullpen potential in the system THO…they’ve collected a bunch of hard throwers (some who can even spin the ball!) and IMO that’s a good start to finding a future bullpen.

              • C. Steadman

                I personally would call Edwards a 2 and Johnson 3. Neil Ramirez is another 3, along with Paul Blackburn. Skulina 3, Black 3orRP, Hendricks 4/5.

                • SenorGato

                  Eh, calling Edwards a 2 is probably close enough to my 3 (I generally see it as 2/3 and 3/4). Everyone else at least a notch down, though Blackburn and Skulina a little less sure on. I really love Black as a potential late inning guy, some of the best arm strength in the system.

                  I REEEEEEEEEALLLY want to see what Paniagua does. The arm is supposed to be big time, and so long as he’s healthy I don’t particularly care if he’s not a MLer until the second half of his 20s.

              • ssckelley

                Mainly what the Cubs lack is a #1, but those are rare and only about 7 in all of baseball. I will say Edwards has the stuff to be a #1, obviously the million dollar question on him is if he has the stamina to go 200+ innings per season.

          • ssckelley

            There are opinions outside of Cub fans and Luke that acknowledge that the Cubs have a number of good arms at the lower levels. Edwards and Johnson were named one of the top pitching combinations of all baseball (I think they were top 10).

            Personally, and I have said this many times, I think this will be the year of the pitcher in the Cubs minor leagues. I see a number of arms the Cubs have acquired in the past couple of years via trades, draft, and IFA’s that could emerge as top prospects this season.

            • Edwin

              Edwards and Johnson are just two pitchers, and both still have a good amount to prove.

              I agree that they have some interesting arms, but most of those are just that. They’re interesting, and they certainly could turn into something, but at the moment I’m not sure any of them are good bets to turn into decent starting pitchers.

              That being said, I agree that the Cubs could make a lot of progress this year if a number of these arms break out. But until that actually happens, their depth is sub par to me.

              • C. Steadman

                Of BA Top 100, there are 45 pitching prospects. four teams have 3 landing on the list, and eleven teams have 2(including our Cubs), eleven teams have 1 and 3 teams have 0. Otherwise all other pitching prospects across baseball are interesting arms. This puts the Cubs right on par with all of baseball.

                • C. Steadman

                  “3 teams have 0″

                  four teams have 0

                • C. Steadman

                  I’m not arguing that the Cubs have one of the best pitching systems, I arguing that it has good depth across the levels and is par with the rest of baseball but has a good chance of breaking out. It isn’t below average or sub par by any means. Tennessee could have one of the best rotations in the minors once PJ joins

                  • SenorGato

                    While I agree that the depth is fine and the names are more interesting, there’s no way there isn’t some SNTS in there. So many of these guys just don’t have even 100 pro innings on them.

              • ssckelley

                I guess the only thing we disagree on is “sub par”, which to me means below average. I believe most “experts” have the Cubs in the middle of the road, even a little above average when it comes to organization pitching prospects.

                It can’t be that bad when the 2012 minor league Pitcher of The Year has no place to pitch in the organization.

          • 70′s Cub

            Edwin, I agree however this current AA staff by July will be a good barometer in terms of the young pitchers.

  • DarthHater

    “Plus-plus makeup — I love this kid.”

    Doubleplusungood.

    • Pat

      “Plus-plus makeup — I love this kid.”

      Keep in mind that they had to send their scouting reports via carrier pigeon and create their own ink using plant extracts. Economy of words is important in that case.

      Although, I find it difficult to believe they used as system as advanced and the plus-plus rating system under previous ownership. I had heard they used a mixture of phrenology and astrology to make their scouting decisions.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        And sheep guts. Never underestimate how important guts are when evaluating prospects.

        • college_of_coaches

          Hendry preferred liver omens, but then PETA got wind of it and Crane made him stop. Didn’t want the bad publicity.

          • YourResidentJag

            Hendry may have preferred more scouts and more resources but he wanted to keep his job, especially after the Tribune Company said no to the kind of thing that Theo has now. Hmm.

  • Brocktoon

    There was also this Theo piece from Mooney today with some troubling tidbits IMO

    http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/world-series-eventually-or-bust-theo-not-walking-out-cubs

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Discussed that one yesterday in the Bullets, I believe. What are the troubling tidbits?

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

        I think it’s in the headline. Theo not walking out.

        • Jon

          He’s the highest paid executive in baseball and never has a GM in this town gotten such a pass on accountability as him. This is the best job in sports. I wouldn’t walk out either.

      • Brocktoon

        Sorry, missed that one yesterday. I didn’t care much for, “boy these fans will finally understand three or four years from now.” It’s the first I’ve heard from anyone in the FO talking 2017-2018 as our time.

        • YourResidentJag

          Well, that probably explains the 100+ years of losing. You know, missing out on decades.

        • Brocktoon

          And I know I said tidbits, so this was the other issue I had:

          “We get a lot of questions from people asking how difficult is it to survive another year when we’re not starting the year as favorites or contenders on paper,” Epstein said. “I guess I understand those questions from afar. But they leave me scratching my head because this is the best morale — organizational morale — I’ve ever seen in the minor leagues. And, to a certain extent, throughout the entire organization.”

          I know most on here will disagree with me on it, but it troubles me that, while he mentioned the caveat that he understands from afar, he really doesn’t. You’re scratching your head as to why people aren’t happy with the current state of the organization?

          • Bill

            “I know most on here will disagree with me on it, but it troubles me that, while he mentioned the caveat that he understands from afar, he really doesn’t. You’re scratching your head as to why people aren’t happy with the current state of the organization?”

            It troubles me that Theo is bewildered as to why Cub fans aren’t happy with the lack of wins at the big league level. Wow. Is Theo that out of touch?

            Organizational morale being high is great, big league wins/playoffs is better. If my team was making playoffs, winning WS, then I wouldn’t be too concerned about the “organizational morale”.

          • mjhurdle

            I don’t see why he scratches his head. He should be smart enough to realize that you can’t please everyone and understand that, no matter what he does people are going to cry that it isn’t what they think should be done and it isn’t happening fast enough for them.
            But, as long as he doesn’t let it deter him from the current path, i couldn’t really care less whether he scratches his head or not.

            • YourResidentJag

              I’m sure that Hendry did this as well and you were ok with it, right? Because after all we can’t please everyone.

              • mjhurdle

                I am pretty sure that Hendry did this, and I was ok with it as well.
                And yes, it relates to the fact that you can’t please everyone.

                A+ work there

                • YourResidentJag

                  So, you were ok with the past regime philosophy and it pleased you because certainly not that it could have pleased everyone? I don’t seem to recall that or what you think about the state of the organization when Theo got hired. Not exactly an A+ response there.

                  • C. Steadman

                    He probably meant that he was ok with Hendry knowing he couldn’t please everyone…not how Hendry drafted/ran the organization

                    • YourResidentJag

                      I don’t know…maybe it was a general comment on the state of events, but the fact that most on here Hendry feel that it was Hendry solitarily who created the “mess before Theo”, leads me to believe that Hendry’s imperfections of not pleasing people, really irritated people like @mjhurdle. People who felt that he was solely responsible for doing everything wrong. So, while @mjhurdle’s comment, seems like a comment made as a innocent bystander, I think there’s a lot more implied here.

                  • mjhurdle

                    Who is talking about philosophy and whether it pleases me?
                    I think you jumped a rail, so lets review.

                    - I said that I don’t understand why Theo is surprised/confused that some people are not happy because it is impossible to please everyone so there will always be a vocal segment crying that things are not happening their way.
                    - I said that, as long as Theo doesn’t let that detract him from his path, then I am happy.
                    - you asked if Hendry did this, whether I was ok with it, and if it related to the idea that you can’t please everyone.
                    - I said yes, I am sure that Hendry also had a path and followed it regardless of any vocal opposition from un-informed fans, and I am ok with that. While i did not agree with all of Hendry’s philosophies, to me it would have been worse if he just kept changing everything willy-nilly in response to whoever complained the loudest, just as now I would be more upset if Theo and Jed started just changing their path simply because natives were getting restless. If they believe they are doing what is in the best interest of the franchise, then they should have the fortitude to see that through, until people more capable of judging their performance find them lacking.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      And yet your whole statement implies agreement with a philosophy or your term,”path”, especially your last bullet. If you agree lock-step with the path Theo has set, you’re probably going be to ok with the fact that he is ok with not pleasing everyone. How am i jumping the rail, exactly?

                    • mjhurdle

                      you are jumping the rail because you are trying to make this about agreement with a philosophy, when I am talking about the process of putting a philosophy (any philosophy) to work.

                      it is true that i didn’t agree with a lot of what Hendry did. But I also didn’t have the understanding of the franchise that Hendry did. Which is why I agree with Hendry or Theo sticking with their own philosophy/plan/path. The GM, whether Hendry or Theo, should not be changing his plan based on what the average fan thinks, because the average fan has no clue what is really going on in a professional franchise.
                      If Hendry or Theo started hedging or changing their plan to appease fans, then to me that means they either a) didn’t really believe that their plan was the best for the franchise in the long run or b) that they lack the strength to keep doing something they believe is right even though people start vocally complaining.
                      And that is scarier than a disagreement in philosophy, at least to me. Which is why i can say i support both Hendry and Theo sticking to the plan that they believe is the best long term plan for this franchise, regardless of how much crying goes on around them.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Actually, Hendry, technically, it could be argued changed plans in mid-stream in 2007 which had to be known that average fans would agree with. I mean, what run of the mill fan wouldn’t agree with “We’re going to buy star players and higher level FAs in an effort to win a WS.” So, you’re wrong there.

                      Process leads to outcomes the overall of which is tied inextricably to a plan, an agenda, and philosophy. The whole of Theo’s planning and process would do this. Otherwise, why do it? He intends for his process to lead to a particularly set of outcomes. And probably will be judged by the plan with which he used to get that process to lead to outcomes.

                      So, I don’t really know what you’re talking about here when you are attributing Theo with certain qualities vs the idiot fan who hasn’t a clue. Namely, the cool, rational, collected head in a sea of morons, maybe. That personification of Theo certainly sounds like something said by who ascribes and agrees with to his philosophy.

                      So, as I said before, I am not making any statements that are out of bounds here.

          • Kyle

            That quote was definitely the most infuriating. More proof that he considers the major-league portion of his job to be an annoying afterthought.

            • baldtaxguy

              Not sure its proof of exactly that, but his lack of commenting on the ML club as “the organization” is a mistake. Unlike as GM of Boston, if he really considers the Chi team an annoyance that does not deserve his full attention/effort, he’s an idiot. I just don’t think he’s an idiot.

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

              Eh…we don’t know what the actual question was or how the conversation was prior to the question.

              If it was a question/line of conversation that was focused around the minor leagues, then the quote is pretty good.

              If it was a question that focused on the big league club and he then focused on the minor leagues…I can see your concern.

              • Brocktoon

                The beginning of his response was: “We get a lot of questions from people asking how difficult is it to survive another year when we’re not starting the year as favorites or contenders on paper,”

                How could that have possibly been a question about the minors?

  • scorecardpaul

    I am still confused why we shouldn’t be jealous of the Astros. Are they not executing this plan better than Theo is? Is Theo just a poor copy cat?

  • Diehardthefirst

    Sub par minor league pitching could be upgraded by trading either Castro Baez or Soler to contender — would be gutsy but that’s how a dynasty is built

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It could also be upgraded by hiring one of the best pitching coaches to run your pitching development program and then focusing heavily on drafting pitchers, trading for select pitching prospects, and signing international free agent pitchers for a few years.

      Or you can ignore all that and advocate for single move as a systemic panacea. Whatever works for you, I suppose.

      • Diehardthefirst

        There is too much competition with so many major league teams- back in the day I believe there were only 16 teams and more good arms to go around – good pitching coach can’t take the mound– all the good young hitting will be wasted on teams giving up as many runs as score – Cubs are over stocked with hitters and can use one or two to balance out the development

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Except, of course, that both pitching and coaching of pitching have been steadily improving over the years. The technological, medical and tactical advances in baseball over the decades have worked to the advantage of pitchers more often than not.

          At any rate, it’s only been in the last 10 years that TINSTAAPP has ceased to be true, and there still seems to be more volatility on pitching prospects.

          As for the Cubs being over-stocked with hitters, let’s wait and see how many of them actually do well in the majors: even Top 20 prospects fail to do much nearly 50% of the time.

    • Medicos

      DieHardthe1st: Like your thought about upgrading ML pitching by trading Soler or Baez. Look what the Florida Marlins did after winning their 1st World Series. Traded many of their top players, rebuilt the team, and won another WS.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The best thing that could happen is this team starts winning some games. Shark starts pitching like a # 2 starter, and they sign him up for 4 more years. Castro gets back to a 2 war shortstop and continues to mature. Rizzo starts driving guys in and becomes a leader. Barney gets back to a .250/.320 gold glover.
    Castillo becomes a 2 war catcher that can lead a pitching staff. Lake, olt, kalish become solid big league players.
    Jackson becomes more consistent. Wood gets better. Arrieta, Ramirez become solid starters.
    Then you start adding prospects in the mix, you have a ball club.

  • GoCubsGo

    I read WAY more than I post and I am sick of the comments of the haters because they want the Cubs to be the 2006 Cardinals or some other pre-current CBA team and use that against this FO for not building the minors in conjuction with the major league roster.

    The optimists are obsessed with every prospect making it and Theo and the plan.

    The pessimists are obsessed with the major league roster with blind spots for the financial situation the Cubs are in and the CBA restrictions that are in place.

    I just can’t stand how many people can’t accept that an opinion isn’t fact. Seriously, Kyle, Jon and brainiac (yes Kyle you are lumped in with these people) are just as speculative as the others in what you think would be a better route for the Cubs to take. if you are so sure, then why aren’t you working in MLB front offices?

    Look, nothing is guaranteed to our Cubbies and we don’t know if they are on the path to a world series. But if you are coming onto a hardcore Cubs blog every day and bitching every day, seriously, stop being fans of this team. Just because it isn’t happening how YOU want it to doesn’t mean it’s wrong and bullying others to believe your way is the right way is just ridiculous.

    If you are so distraught to make 30+ posts a day about how terrible this all is, then you seriously need to reevaluate your priorities.

    Seriously: Get a life.

    • GoCubsGo

      And no, the last thing I want is for everyone to have the exact same opinion in an internet comment section that I read because that isn’t as interesting. What I want is for people to get off their god damn high horse and accept that their opinion isn’t law (not Keith) and debate without being blatant assholes about it. It is EXTREMELY overplayed, especially when it’s on every single article.

      We all want a Cubs World Series win. But just because I think the Cubs need to do X, Y and Z to make it happen does not mean I am right. The negative posters of this site strongly disagree with that sentence and it’s pathetic.

      • FFP

        I feel you GCG, but a couple things:
        1) You ought to skip reading some screen names’ comments. There is no ‘ignore’ feature here, yet; but there is one in my head. I use it on a (very) few screen names that rarely move the discussion foward for me.
        2) Kyle is not one of those names for me. He usually advances the discussion, includes relevant facts, and consistently –for years– has rallied for parallel fronts of development. He has ground to stand on for finding that quote above “infuriating”; he has helped build that ground bit by bit here. (Although I still don’t find that particular quote as troubling he does.)
        3) You should comment a bit more often. Don’t keep it bottled up. You’ll feel better and these threads would benefit.

    • Brocktoon

      I don’t know how that comes across as anything but, if you don’t agree with THE PLAN then get the f out.

      • Brocktoon

        Or at least post way less than if you agreed with it.

    • baldtaxguy

      Not sure I see bullying, just repetition, a theme. Not a big deal.

    • ssckelley

      Three different angles from those posters but with similar messages:

      Kyle – basically agrees with building the farm system, he just thinks there is a way to do it while staying competitive at the MLB level and lower draft picks. Basically he blames the lack of scouting and development siting the Cardinals as the perfect example on how to win while remaining competitive.

      Jon – Just spend a crap load of money and be done with it! The front office is to blame.

      brains/brainiac – Blame the owners, they are nothing more than profit seekers looking to use the Cubs in order to fund other ventures and pay off debt.

      We can disagree with these types of posters all we want. But the truth is without different opinions this comment section would be nothing more than a circle jerk. I get a laugh out of brainiac, here is a poster who thinks so highly of his opinion that he actually believes he is smarter than everyone else and yet he says some of the dumbest things on this site. Voice of Reason is another, his profile name says one thing but his opinions are no where close to being a voice of reason.

      • Sandberg

        Kyle’s posts always get me thinking, but I think he dismisses much of the nuances of the situation way too easily.

        Jon and brains just spew the same repetitive garbage every day and are basically trolls.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        That was a perfect description of my favorite posters on the site haha. You forgot my personal favorite to argue with, CubFanPaul

        Will argue with you to no end by saying that he’s seen every at bat/inning pitched of said player and his observation is without a doubt the correct one. When you try to point out the flaws in his argument, his response will simply be to stay on topic

  • The Real Wrigley

    How in the world do you “bully” on a blog message board? I had no idea there were people sensitive enough to fall prey to that kind of behavior.

  • GoCubsGo

    Definitely not a “if you disagree with the plan gtfo”. Not what I was trying to convey. More of take a step back and realize your interpretation and assumptions and opinions are not God’s gift to this site and correct no matter what.

    It’s not an isolated issue, every site on the Internet with commenters have a huge majority of people who can’t separate fact from opinion. I’ve done it and most people do, but going on every single article on this site as well as on Cubs den under the same moniker repeating your opinions and getting aggressive when someone disagrees and doing it over five times on every post, my god it gets old quickly.

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