Cubs 5 year plan? Interview: ESPN Baseball Tonight's Chris Singleton

We ask Baseball Tonight’s Chris Singleton 5 questions about the Cubs leading up to the opening of camp in Mesa this weekend.

 TL: The Cubs are clearly in a rebuild mode. What kind of timetable do you give Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to get this team back into contenting in the NL Central?

 CS: I think it will take a good 4-5 years for them to be considered a solid contender in NL Central and a playoff team with a chance to make it past the division series. Even if you are in a pretty good market like Chicago they realize the value and cost control of drafting well, developing your kids and getting them to the big leagues.

TL: What do you know about Dale Sveum and how do you think he will fit in Chicago?

CS: I know that Dale and I graduated from the same high school! (Pinole Valley in Pinole, CA.) I'm not sure how he is going to fit in Chicago. I see him as a (Bill) Bellicheck kind of leader, one who is not going to give the media anything to run with. Bottom line is he has to work according to Theo's plan and with developing players for the longer term.

 TL:  What do you think the Cubs should do with Matt Garza? Is he young enough to be a part of things when they start winning again? Or is he too valuable a chip for the front office to use to restock the farm system?

 CS:  You need to trade Matt Garza while his value is high. That could be near the July 31 deadline this year. Build your farm system with blue chip prospects or cusp players who will have affordable salaries in four years.

TL: Which move did you like the best so far from this front office's off-season?

CS: I like the fact that the Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano. A must move. Need to refresh the atmosphere as you are rebuilding.

 TL: Give me your scouting report on Anthony Rizzo. What adjustments does he need to make after he struggled during his brief call up in San Diego?

 CS: I think Anthony Rizzo is a kid that has already shown his will to fight in life when he beat cancer. I believe he will show the same resiliency in bouncing back from a rough first campaign. I watched him last year when calling some Padres games and he just looked over matched.  His feel for the strike zone was not good. As a young player it can take some time before you feel like yourself at the major league level.

In time, I think he will be all right.

 You can catch Chris on Baseball Tonight on ESPN as well as Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN am this season.

 Follow Chris on Twitter @c_singleton



Leave a comment
  • I see the cubs contended in the next 2 to 3 years especially with the players the cardinals and brewers have lost. And votto expected to be gone at the of his contract!

  • fb_avatar

    Good stuff Tom, but I will take issue with one thing Singleton said. I don't think the rebuild is going to take as long as some think. If there hadn't been the major changes in the CBA regarding the acquisition of amateur talent, they might have taken a longer route, but now, I don't think they can or will. This is not to say that they will go on a wild spending spree either, but next winter is going to provide opportunities to add "in prime" talent to the starting rotation, and that is an opportunity that rarely presents itself.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:


    Agree with you 100%. If rebuiding will take 5 years, then something is really wrong.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to GoCubs:

    Go Cubs, it's not that I would have minded a 5 year rebuild, but it simply isn't going to be possible because of the new CBA. Teams will be forced into directing their resources towards free agents, which is what the players union wanted all along. I'm shocked the small market clubs went along with this, because it took their only advantage away.

    The Cubs will have an advantage in that they are a big market club that can afford to spend money, and they actually have an owner and front office that will spend it wisely. Good scouting and player development will be more important than ever, because teams won't be stockpiling draft picks like before, and nor will they be able to over-spend.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agree, after the season more big contracts will be gone. The
    money can be used wisely to sign good young FA's if needed.
    We have 4 of the top 70 picks in the June draft. More
    international players will be signed. Have to wait until after the
    season is over to measure how the team has progressed.
    At least we know that beginning with 2013 the the farm system
    will produce at least 1 or 2 good players each year.

  • Yeah, I was really surprised at the length of time Chris thinks we need to get back in the mix. I say 3 at the outset. However, he really believes in what they are doing. It scares me a little that more people are concerned with Rizzo's call up struggles than what I anticipated, but maybe I'm reading in too much.

    He also maybe right about Sveum having a Bellichek like respect from his clubhouse, and unloading Z wasn't their best move but right up there in importance in moving forward.

  • I don't agree with everything he said, but I love that Singleton actually answered the questions. He was honest and direct. Very refreshing, concise interview. Well done!

  • In reply to danlab21:

    Thank you, and thanks to Chris.

  • Jeez, 4-5 years?

    Happy pitchers and catchers everyone.

  • Not sure I agree with the timetable, but if you don't think they can win in 4-5 years, then you have to trade Garza. I think those two go hand in hand. If you think they have a shot in 3, maybe even 2 years then it's a much more difficult decision.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Right and he seemed to favor dealing Garza, so that may have something to do with the time table. What did you make of his Rizzo comments?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    His Rizzo comment reflects others I've read that question whether he'll pan out in the majors. Since the Cubs don't have any easily identifiable stars in the pipeline that will be in the majors in the next couple years, and since our farm system is ranked 15th-20th overall, it looks to me like the rebuilding is going to take longer than three seasons.
    The only way to accelerate it is to accumulate star caliber prospects somehow (e.g. trade Garza, Soto and Marmol) or to buy our way into relevance thru free agents, Hendry style. Theo has stated that it's dangerous for a major market team to lose its focus and start throwing money around for fast results. He intends to build a core group through the farm system and augment the core when the time is right. I just don't see how that can be accomplished in two or three seasons unless they can trade vets for prospects.

  • Tom, I agree with you about the timeline. If you were just relying in the player development capabilities of the new team, Singleton's timeline makes sense. However , they have vast financial resources to move along the process a bit quicker.

    On another more troubling note, the Cards have really assembled quite a farm system. They have several 4-5 star prospects who will soon be ready to reinforce the big-league club. This coupled with the wise non-signing of Pujols has them positioned for success going forward.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Yes the Cards aren't going anywhere and Mozelaik told me they are going more new school than ever.

  • 5 years sounds about right, to rebuild the farm system. 3, maybe 4 to get the big league club going with the prospects coming up. But 4-5 does seem like a bit of a stretch.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Yes 5 years for system, agreed.

  • Smart guy. I like the idea of trading for cusp players to build the system. Better odds of them making the majors. Surprising how much it's like poker - if you're drawing to a longshot (prospect), you better be getting the right pot odds (blue chip).

  • John and Tom
    Thanks for sharing Chris's insight with us.

    Just to pull on the "Extend or Trade Garza" thread a little more :

    I would think/hope the Cubs are furiously populating Prodigy-Carmine's data base with all trade results from exchanges of proven starting pitchers for prospects, adding results of extending pitchers similar to Matt Garza, and then analyzing that raw data from 116 different perspectives. The results should tell Theo what's the minimum acceptable prospect package needed to outweigh the risks of giving up stud Garza versus extending him

    Any inclination that is happening as we speak?

    By the way, I know that Theo could not bring the Carmine computer software with him. Does he have a name for the new kid?

    Thanks and enjoy the sun!

  • The Cards could have some formidable arms -Wainwright, Miller, Garcia, C Martinez- going forward. It's important for us to temper out enthusiasm about the Cub system by always examining our rivals. STL, CIN, and even PIT-Cole and Talleon(sic)- have some young impact talent both on their clubs and coming through their systems.
    For me, we need to do whatever it takes to get Soler and then focus on acquiring impact SP arms via trades, draft, and international FA. I can understand not wanting to spend money on major-league FA but there should be no such hesitation on amateur FAs. We still have a serious organizational talent gap to bridge.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Yes but then when the system kicks in we have the resources and commitment from ownership to put us over the top.

  • I actually agree with CS, and think it will take a good 4-5 years before they compete past the division series. You take a look at the projected lineup down the road, based on our current core players & minor leaguers, and a majority of them are several years away. Plus then you need time to acclimate to the majors, plus time to gel as a team, while management determines what cracks need to be filled... yeah, I'm thinking 4-5 years.

    But that's OK! Anticipation is often the best part. I don't want any shortcuts, and I want to watch the WHOLE processs. I want to eventually be the next New York Yankees, and I think we will in the next 8-10 years.

Leave a comment