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Can the Cubs be a .500 team next season? I'll hang up and listen for my answer

Can the Cubs be a .500 team next season? I'll hang up and listen for my answer

Sometimes I feel like torturing myself (self masochist?) and I check out the post game radio show and listen to the barrage of uninformed callers.

I was not to be disappointed this Sunday, as right out of the gate a caller declared he was done giving the Cubs his money after they gave up Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm at the deadline.

The next caller deemed Starlin Castro “average” and that Brett Jackson “couldn’t hit his weight”. To be fair, the host tried set the callers straight on some of their short sighted views. However, this host like much of the media in town are guilty of sounding short sighted themselves when using stats to frame their arguments.

Are we ever going to get to a point where the Chicago media doesn't use batting average as the true measuring stick for a player?  There have been numerous occasions lately where I’ve had to endure Chicago media members both on air and in print abuse the limited stat. Here is just a small taste:

 For example, anyone notice as we watch the Cubs/Rockies series this weekend that Colorado leadoff hitter, and former Cubs prospect--that Epstein traded away--DJ LeMahieu is batting .297? Sure, he hits mostly singles, but that's what a leadoff hitter is supposed to do--get on base. Tyler Colvin was also traded to the Rockies and is hitting .290 with 52 RBI. That would look good next to the Cubs counterpart in center field, Brett Jackson and his .172 average.

By the way, LeMahieu at the time had compiled a .315 OBP. Ah yes, getting on base indeed.

I’m not going to get into this at length, as I know our readers are smarter than that. It just drives me insane that players like Jackson are torn down in this town too soon while Darwin Barney is deemed an indisposeble part of the core.

Did I mention there was talk the Cubs were effective ruining the already .300ish hitting Castro by trying to make him a more patient and potent hitter?

However, another point that was brought up made me think a little differently towards next season. We all know that the Cubs are likely a couple of years away from being truly contenders. You can look to Baltimore and Oakland this season to prove there are always some surprises.

That being said the question was raised if the Cubs could at least be a .500 team next season? Is it possible the worst is over? Or is there another 90 plus loss season on the horizon yet?

The Cubs front office may have cashed in their best trade chips already. The ability to move Matt Garza still exists. However, unless Garza has a great first half, they won’t likely sniff the kind of return they were seeking this past July. That is why it’s likely he is still a Cub come April.

With Garza still around it is entirely possible the Cubs rotation could be better than average if you factor in a healthy Arodys Vizcaino and an almost certain addition of a vet arm a la Maholm.

Names that could make sense are free agents such as Kyle Loshe, Joe Saunders, and Francisco Liriano.

Couple a legit starting staff with some natural growth from players like Castro, Jackson, Anthony Rizzo and Wellington Castillo and is it possible this team could at least be average?

Did I just sound like one of those callers?

 

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  • I'm not sure about next year, but we will see more kids coming up in the next couple years and by 2014 we'll have enough position players and enough pitchers so we can sign 2 or 3 more of them to fill out a staff and win 85 games. The year after that should be time for the Cubs to be perennial contenders.

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    I feel your pain Tom, I really do. That's why I truly appreciate this site. I feel this season was a success because the positives outweigh the negatives. The only bad parts were the dempster fiasco, Garza getting hurt, and Ian Stewart not panning out. Everything else went according to plan in my eyes, for a rebuilding team that is, and that part alone is where I feel Cubs fans can be ignorant. They have no idea what a true rebuild is and how it's done.

    How many bad years did Texas, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore have to have before coming into success? How many top draft picks? How many trades of short terms pieces for multiple prospects that end up becoming the core of their team? How many smart free agent signings over blindly throwing money away? We as cubs fans need to look at the bigger picture to see that this team is going in the right direction.

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    ^agreed.. I say were looking at a 70 and 92 season or somewhere around there.. I think next year is a real big step in this rebuilding process.. Rizzo, Jackson, Castillo all get full time playing time.. Huge part of their development.. I really like Castillo as are catcher for future.. And as Marcel stated above cubs fans have never gone through a full blown rebuild.. Patience is key.. Idk how much Chicago has left though.. So everything is critical..

  • Tom,

    I know exactly what you mean about the "abuse of BA." I frequent the Cubs' website message board, and there are a lot of people there convinced that Darwin Barney is a good offensive player because he hits 260.

    Regarding next year, I could be wrong, but I think it's going to be pretty rough. If it's going to happen, the young hitters are going to have to come through big time.

    The FO is going to have to get REALLY creative this winter because we have even fewer trade chips than last year. IMO, the only guys that make any sense to deal over the winter are one of Soriano and LaHair, plus Barney. Not that we HAVE to deal those guys, but no one else makes much sense at this point. Maybe Dejesus, but I doubt there's a ton of demand for him.

    Like you said, this winter is not the time to deal Garza, nor, I believe, is it the time to deal Marmol. Marmol began to really turn things around, and has been hitting 96 consistently lately and for the most part throwing strikes with his fastball. But his overall 2012 numbers are nonetheless ugly and he hasn't pitched well for long. That, plus his contract, means that we wouldn't get anything in return if we deal him over the winter. On the other hand, if Marmol pitches the first half of 2013 the way he has pitched the last 6 weeks or so, there may be some takers in July. We would eat some money, but might get something decent in return. So, I think the timetable for dealing Garza and Marmol has to be in-season, if it happens at all.

    I also think they're going to have to sign at least one FA starting pitcher who can eat some innings with roughly league average results. Maybe something along the lines of the Maholm signing last year. Depending on some mix of Volstad, Germano, Coleman, Wells, Raley and Rusin in the 4-5 slots could be ugly, especially if any injuries hit the rotation on top of that.

    I think the smart thing for the FO to do vis-a-vis Vizcaino is to not expect any MLB innings from him in 2013. Not only will he be coming off TJS, but he only has 8 starts above A ball (only 20 above Low A). I would hope that if they plan to use him as a starter, they would give him a year of AA/AAA during his comeback, and this FO seems to be pretty patient with calling up young guys.

    I'm hoping that this year, they'll use less of a revolving door approach with the bullpen, and instead choose their best guys and commit to them for at least a few months. We have plenty of viable bullpen candidates at this point. I'm a bit surprised they DFA'd Maine, though, especially when they have the likes of Brigham and Chapman on the 40-man. But I suppose it would have looked bad to cut one of those guys from the 40-man...

    Regardless of what happens with the pitching staff, for the Cubs to compete next year, the offense is going to have to show big time improvement. I think expecting some modest improvement is realistic, especially from guys like Castro and Rizzo. But massive improvement across the board? Probably not just yet.

    I'm looking forward to 2014. By then, the young guys will have established themselves a bit more and Vizcaino should be ready to contribute. We may even see guys like Baez and Soler starting to come up by the end of '14, too.

  • Tom, You hit it right on the head. The chicago media and fans are the reason I have not listened to a radio or watched a tv show when they talk about the cubs. It seems like the host and the fans are shocked that we traded dempster and company and say we should have keep them. They did not notice that with dempster and maholm we were still in fifth place fighting for last ? Fans and media never surprise me when they say stupid stuff like barney is a keeper but starlin castro is average and we should trade him. I didn't now average players make two all star teams and very close to five hundred hits before they were twenty three ! I would like to say thanks to tom and john for this website you guys are the best. I come here to read rational points about the cubs org.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Thanks seankl.

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    Nice post, Tom. You're speaking for many of us about the post-game radio callers. Good Grief...

    I agree the 2013 starting rotation could be pretty decent.

    However, the bullpen is looking brutal and that alone should keep the Cubs from playing .500 baseball.

    I think Cubs are still two or three more seasons away from challenging the .500 mark or above. Fingers crossed I'm wrong :)

  • In reply to Bullpen Brian:

    Hope you are Brian, I think 2014 they could surprise.

  • i really hate saying things like this, but i dont want the cubs to compete next year.(dont get me wrong, i never root for them to lose, but if the team isnt good enough to win it all, then for me it becomes all about draft position and development.) i think we should go about next year with the same strategy as this one. sign some free agents who's trade value we can build up and then flip them at the deadline. also we need to continue developing guys into complete players, like castro with his walks, barneys power, brett jacksons contact, castillos game calling. we need to keep a close eye on guys like samardzija and rizzo, who are possible extension candidates after next season.

    the year where things should start to turn around should be '14. i dont think '14 is the year that teams will start to fear us, but i do think its a year where we have the chance to be competitive if mostly healthy, and a year where we have a shot at .500 and maybe a wild card.

    for me '15 is the year where we should start to go for it. '15 could be a big year in many aspects for the cubs. its the first year where sorianos contract isnt on the payroll. barring extensions, it could be a huge year for pitchers in free agency. and many of our young players now will be entering their prime years.

    as of right now our projected 2015 lineup looks like this:

    C Castillo Backup Clevenger
    1b Rizzo
    2b Barney
    3b Baez
    Ss Castro
    Lf
    Cf Jackson
    Rf Soler

    guys like Szczur, Lake, Vitters, Ha, Sappelt, Watkins, Torreyes, Villanueva could end up filling out the lineup as either backups, or starters pushing a guy like Barney to a bench roll.

    The pitching situation is a little more complicated because we still dont know what the return for garza will be or if we're going to resign him. considering the teams that have been interested in him tho, it seems like we'll be getting mostly a-ball prospects back in return who will probably (like mostly all of our top pitching prospects) be close to being major league ready, but not quite by the time the 2015 season rolls around.

    as of right now the only three guys who look to be reliable candidates for the 2015 rotation are Samardzija, Vizcaino and Wood. Although that group has a lot of potential to be good at this point in time its still missing a #1. Luckily free agency looks pretty good for pitching in the 2015 offseason.
    these are the possible free agent starters, barring contract extensions, for the 2015 offseason. (age entering 2015 season in parenthesis)

    Felix Hernandez (29)
    Yovani Gallardo (29)
    Justin Masterson (30)
    Kyle Kendricks (30)
    Justin Verlander (32)
    Max Scherzer (30)
    Matt Harrison (29) lefty
    Klayton Kershaw (27) lefty

    im not very optimistic that the two lefties will hit the market, but most of the other guys have a decent chance to be up for grabs in f.a. and the nice thing about the cubs lineup i composed above is that most of the higher profile players will either be signed to extensions or still in the early stages of pre-arb/arbitration. this gives the cubs the opportunity to throw 6yrs/$180mil at a guy like king felix, if it becomes necessary, without killing our payroll.

    the bullpen could be a real strength of this '15 team.

    guys like russell, cabrera, beliveau, dolis could possibly be core veterans in this pen. sprinkling in guys like mcnutt, zych and possible long men like struck and rusin.

    im not saying that the cubs can or cant be .500 next season, all im saying is that id like them not to focus on a goal like that next season so we can set ourselves up better for long term success.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    where is almora in your lineup?

  • In reply to kingpro98:

    i think he might come up in 2015, but its probably a little optimistic that he'll be starting the year in chicago. i think 2016 is the year that he probably starts to make an impact.

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    You can probably add to that rotation Mark Appel or which ever college arm falls to the Cubs in the 2013 draft or maybe that is a year too early. I would think maybe Pierce Johnson could have a shot at that rotation also.

  • In reply to Kevin:

    i think if we get appel then he will certainly be in the rotation in '15, barring injury, but i think he goes #1 next year. also if we take stanek or manaea, they could be ready by '15, but im highly doubtful thats the case, especially with manaea. pierce johnson could be ready as well, but jsut lke with almora, i dont really see him making an impact until '16.

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    This post is an example of why informed Cubs fans come to this site. It was a well thought out and informed post that was obviously researched before it hit the web. Only one player that I may add to this group. It's Albert Almora. I'm not sure if 2015 would be the year we start to see Albert patrolling CF, but he should be close to Major League ready, imo.

    There may also be one more item to add in and that's the draft. I think Theo and Co will continue to get solid talent. This was the main goal wasn't it? We were to build this juggernaut to be filled with young guys not only ready to take a MLB job but pushing the veterans to keep their jobs. It will make trading away those veterans for more younger talent much easier. We should see a revolving door in this area until we get a set lineup.

    I do agree that the real Cubs will be seen in 2015 or later. Until then we have to just take our lumps. Lumps both on the field and in the Chicago media. Sure glad I live in Florida and don't have to hear the idiots in the Chicago media.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    i completely agree with your middle paragraph. we will most likely have the #2 pick in the '13 rule 4 draft. another noncompetitive season could net us a top 5 pick in the '14 draft and a decently competitive season in '14 could get us another pick in the top half of the first round for the '15 draft. not only does this strategy help us with draft position, but also gives us more money to spend internationally which will really help boost our farm system. after 3 years of high picks and spending money the cubs system should be one of the premier ones in all of baseball. which is exactly why we can afford to give up picks in order to sign someone of king felix's caliber in the 2015 offseason.

  • Probably not. That's asking for about 20 more wins than we'll have this year, without four months of Dempster and Maholm (and perhaps Garza). Soriano and DeJesus aren't likely to be better next year. I'm looking forward to 2014 and 2015.

  • Next year will be a wash as well, fi the Cubs win 75 games, that will be a nice improvement. 2014 is when the Cubs start being competitive and I'm cool with that . As for Chicago sports radio, that's a lost cause , the vast majority of the callers are boo-yahs and meatheads.

  • I think this should have been two separate articles. Are the Chicago media, and average fans, too focused on batting average, quick results, etc? Probably. But fortunately I am a Chicagoan in Tokyo now and don't have to listen to loud sports talk radio programs!

    And, secondly, in all seriousness, CAN the Cubs be a .500 team next year. Denizens know that could be a stretch, but what would it take? After all, while this is a group that knows we are going to need some patience for the rebuild to start producing 'waves' of talent,we're fans at the end of the day. And an improving .500 team of mainly youngsters sure would be fun to tune in to next year.

    What would it take?? As some others have noted, a Maholm like veteran paired with Garza and Shark (whom I think is emerging as a possible #1) and Wood or someone solidifying the 4 spot starts to get us in the game. Especially with an improved bullpen, which probably blew 10 games for us in the 1st half.

    But will the youngsters provide enough offense? (Probably not) I think Castro will provide. Need Rizzo & Jax to improve upon a spotty, learning half a season. . Castillo intriguing. But we need a 3rd baseman. Can Barney surprise is again with yet another step forward? Soriano good for one final 25-30 HR year?

    Way too many questions across the board, but 'every season is sacred'! What would you do to get us to .500? More importantly, what could Theo & Jed have up their sleeve to make it an interesting year of improvement?

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Yeah guess I could have broken them up but both points came up during that show and I wanted to talk about them with you guys.

  • I think a big part of their rebuilding plan is to get the 3rd pick
    in the draft into order to draft a top college pitcher.

    a

  • Much of sports radio continues to pander to that kind of audience and it makes it almost impossible to listen to. There's some good stuff out there (Spiegel and his Hit and Run show, for example), but so much of it is just catering to the lowest common denominator. The thing is that some of these guys invite these types of calls, then rip on them when they get them all riled up and call spewing nonsense. You want more informed, more rational callers then you have to put out a better product.

  • And as for the Cubs finishing .500...I don't think so. I think 2014 is the target for a leap in the standings. If everything works out, you'll have Shark, Vizcaino, Garza (or whomever we acquire for him) and maybe even Appel,who should be ready quickly if the Cubs get a chance to draft him.

  • I liked the suggestion of this being two separate articles/topics. So far as the media, who cares?... Their main focus is on ratings and if ignorant fans make up their ratings, they'll cater to them.

    I think Marcel nailed it about the "rebuild". We have always just signed big name FA's and pinned our hopes and then disappointments on them.

    So can we be .500 next year? I HOPE NOT!... This is a trick question for the educated/informed Cubs fan. We simply are not ready. Like Theo/Jed said, we need "Waves" of talent coming through our organization at all levels to be competitive. Our first & only wave is at Rookie/Boise. There's a few intriguing/promising pieces elsewhere, but that's our only "wave". If all goes to plan, this initial wave will not be MLB contributing until 2016. Not that some won't trickle in by the end of 2014 & 2015.... but the "waves" won't appear until 2016. So the way I see it, we can bank another 100 losses in 2013. See some significant improvement for 2014. But really shouldn't be a .500 competitive team until 2015 and then be able to run hard and deep into the playoffs in 2016 and beyond.... As fans, we may not like the few years of losing seasons, but given the real prospect of being competitive every year and sustaining that; it makes a lifetime of Cubs disappointment seem worthwhile. I'll gladly trade 40 years of disappointment for one WS, must less being able to sustain that level of play.

    Keep in mind with the new CBA, the landscape is changing. Big time FA's will become more scarce. Bob & Len talked about the Nationals model yesterday and I noticed a piece by By Mike Fiammetta on the cubs.com site. This is the model we want! I know there are others, but did you notice the teams attitude during the deadline? No problem, we'll just reach into our system to fill our needs or replace somebody. We can even afford to shut our Ace down before the playoffs to protect our ability to sustain this level of success..... This is a deep system. Sure they've improved themselves with a few FA's and trades, but most of their talent came through their farm system. Much like the Braves did during their dynasty. I'd love to replicate this within the Cubs system. We will sign a few FA's here and there, continue to trade a few short term assets into long term assets that have a "chance". But the bottom line is, most of our core players have to come through our organization.... and this my friends will test all of our "patience" levels.....

  • I think that 70-74 wins is a realistic goal. The biggest part of the process, however, is that next year to continue the careful evaluation of our minor league system. Who can contribute and how? Are there any pitchers from AAA & AA this year who can be consistent at the ML level? Raley and Rusin should be given a full chance to prove themselves. How far can the prospects move up and not retard their development? Baez, Soler, and Saunders should be able to finish the year strongly at Tennessee and Almora, Amaya, Bruno, & Vogelbach at Daytona. Starting pitching is really the key though, as it looks like we have many who will develop as RP. Keeping the youngsters like Jensen, Peralta, Johnson, Scott, Arias, Loosen, Del Valle, Struck, & Jokisch moving upward. A couple of them must be ready by 2014.

  • Let's see Cubs .500 in 2013. That would be quite a jump from 35-40 games BELOW .500. Pass the Kool-Aid, smoke the weed, dream those beautiful Cub dreams...,but heres how I see it. Fix half of these obstacles, and maybe just maybe 10 under.
    1. Garza,Shark get past the "pitch just good enough to lose syndrome" Win a few more of those 3-2, 2-1 games.
    2. Get a 3rd baseman that can hit 260,drive in 75-80 runs.
    3. Get a back-up catcher for Castillo that can hit like 240, with just a little extra-base power.
    4. Get another innings guy like Camp and Russell.
    5. Trade Marmol for 2 or 4 above.
    6. Trade Barney for 2 or 4 above.
    7. Pray that Soriano duplicates this season.
    COMMENTS???????????

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    I would trade Barney this offseason if I thought we could get some pitching for him. Marmol probably won't bring you much now.

  • The way the new regime preaches certain things, you'd have to think the first complete offseason with their devoted instruction in the AFL and winterleagues, plus the first year with all of the parts assembled in the front office (player develpment expecially), their will be some surprises in the minors. There will be a player or two that will come out of nowhere. The things I'll be watching for down on the farm:

    *Almora, Vogelbach, Soler and Baez continue to mash as they move up levels.
    *Ben Wells, Dillon Maples, Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn and Pierce Johnson move up the ranks to give us some hope for the future of our starting staff.
    *Arodys Vizcaino comes back and has a great year.
    *Szczur gets more experience and we get excited about a speedy leadoff hitter.

    In the majors, we'll likely see a new hitting coach who can hopefully bring Castro's bat back to where it ought to be. Plus we'll watch to see if a few other things come to fruition:

    *Castillo will become an expert game caller
    *Shark, Wood and Voldstad can hopefully put it all together
    *Jackson will work his way up to a .250 avg. to go with the rest of his intangibles.
    *Rizzo will become a clubhouse leader and continue to improve his offensive package.
    *Barney will bust his butt this offseason and hopefully take a few more walks next year and become the ideal #8 hitter.
    *Vitters will make it or take a seat next to Gary Scott

    There's a lot of fun guys to watch, and look forward to. As seems to be the consensus, improvement and development will be much more important to the FO again then wins and losses.

  • Well, I think the two different ideas are somewhat linked. The media, flawed and as silly as they are, still have a major say in how the story is shaped. Yes, people on this Blog are smarter and have a better grasp of what's going on, but the story doesn't just live on this Blog. And while I enjoy certain shows on the Score, ( or more accurately, certain hosts.) I toss out almost all of their Cub thoughts because it's framed toward a radio caller, Sound byte, type of conversation. Not interested.

    As for can the Cubs be .500.... I don't see why not. I'm not particularly counting on it. But Theo/Jed have some money at their disposal. And while they won't be spending that money on a big time FA, they might make 2 or 3 "Paul Maholm" type deals. That route could be the new "equity" building the farm system through one year FA deals... I wouldn't bet on it, certainly not as the roster is constructed, but "winning teams" set high standards, so to rule out .500 seems silly to me.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Good points Felzzy, that is a real possibility to make 2-3 more Maholm or DeJesus type moves. Why not? As long as money has come off the books and you do it smart this team could be competitive while you rebuild.

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    In reply to felzz:

    I sure do hope we can make 2-3 "Maholm type deals". IMO Paul Maholm might be the Cubs MVP of 2012. With the way he pitched for the value of which they signed him, coupled with the potential he brought back, I think he is the absolute model of these "equity building signings". Not to be negative, but it is pretty likely not all of the moves will end up as good as that one, i.e. Ian Stewart.

  • Next year may be brutal, but if the Cubs want to bring in fans, they will need to appear competitive. I agree with felzz and look a for couple of Maholm type signings. Wood and Volfstat can battle for the fifth starter. Soriano will be moved if he will agree. He has had a nice year, but he is still Soriano. The Cubs would probably rather find a platoon partner for Lahair in left. Third base is a mystery and Castro or Castillo will have hit in the middle of the order. 500 will be an over achievement.

  • I have been a huge proponent for moving Soriano the last few years- but realistically, is he blocking anyone right now(if we move LaHair)? The fact is that looking at pure $ and cents, the Cubs should only move Sori if they get a decent amount of financial relief from it, say at least $5mil/yr. If it means eating all but $2-$3mil of his salary forget it. How many ballplayers getting paid under $5mil/yr have had his kind of production this year? If you didn't have him in the lineup this year we would have lost a lot more games than we have. I'm all for development, but it has to make sense too. There has to be a veteran blocking a prospect that projects as a ML ballplayer.

  • Looking towards 2014, they sould trade whoever they can and
    sign a few old cost under 30 FA's.

  • John/Tom... with all of us looking towards next season and beyond, I'd love to see an article on the financial state of the Cubs. What contracts are on the books, what's expiring, the planned payroll for 2013/14, etc. Thanks!

  • In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    I think that's a good idea. We did something like that last year. My expectations are that regardless of where the payroll stands, however, the Cubs aren't going to add a lot of money to it quite yet. That will start to come in 2014 and 2015, in my opinion.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly, and I am completely on board with the long-term building plan. I bring it up not to encourage spending maximum dollars on whatever FA is currently available, but just to be aware of the financial benefits of clearing house and developing cost-controlled players. Might also tie in the fact that major renovations to Wrigley and surrounding properties should be coming soon, and while those are two different income/expense channels for the Ricketts, it's still dollars being spent and the lull might be coming at a nice time.

    Also, and maybe this is a different article/issue altogether, but the Cubs by 2014 will be approaching a payroll as anemic as small market teams like KC/Minnesota/Oakland... and obviously the Cubs are a big-market franchise, so how does this affect the fanbase, MLB, etc?

  • In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    Welington Castillo $500,000
    Steve Clevenger $500,000

    Starlin Castro $5,000,000
    Anthony Rizzo $500,000
    Darwin Barney $500,000
    Josh Vitters $500,000
    Luis Valbuena $500,000
    Adrian Cardenas $480,000
    Joe Mather $500,000
    Alfonso Soriano $19,000,000
    David Dejesus $4,250,000
    Brett Jackson $500,000
    Bryan Lahair $500,000

    Jeff Samardzija $5,000,000

    Travis Wood $500,000
    Chris Volstad $2,655,000
    Justin Germano $500,000
    Michael Bowden $480,000
    Carlos Marmol $9,800,000
    Jairo Asencio $500,000
    Rafael Dolis $500,000
    Manny Corpas $500,000
    Alberto Cabrera $500,000
    James Russell $2,500,000
    Scott Maine $500,000

    $57,165,000

    Keep in mind, any of those bullpen arms that I gave a name to are exchangeable for others in the system that may make the roster in their place. Same goes for Vitters. They all get paid roughly $500k/year when they are on the 25 man.

  • Is this a trick question? The goal shouldn't be to be 500 and the cubs shouldn't be 500 if you are going about this the right way. I think what you want at this point is for the kind of play you've been seeing from the boise team through out your farm system, and if anything for the top tiers of the farm system to be top heavy with pitching prospects, then you can look toward having a winning record.

    Now the cubs are still in the process of shedding bad contracts and making what trades they can with their remaining veterans, until that process is completed, I don't think the team has even bottomed out yet, When the guys at the september call up are going to be your starters in the following year, then they'll be getting close to turning it around.

    I think that means another really bad year, with another top 5 pick and the last of the veterans and probably some of the present players that apperar to be the future traded off for more prospects.

    I agree that it will probably be rapid improvement when it happens, I don't think it will happen soon, and getting to 500 next year doesn't help much if it just leads to more 500 seasons does it?

    Chicago media loves to use what the "fan" thinks as a strawman for what they want to make their story. Most of the time it is just the media creating a phony fan theme for their latest forgettable column or report. The Theo "savior" series is a good example of a reporter ginned up theme. I've never heard a cubs fan say this, just media guys trying to make a story out of nothing. Expect more of it as the Cubs struggle for a couple of years and the story lines get scarcer. Maybe it will lead to some turnover in Cubs beat reporters and coverage too, that would also be a welcome rebuild.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    Great points and I would love to see some fresh coverage out there. Not counting on it, that is why good bloggers will become even more influential. It isn't about being .500 next year but it could still happen, that was the discussion on the show. If you added some more Maholm like pieces to maturing players we could see some more W's and there isn't anything wrong with that. Winning helps development too.

  • I've got kind of a sneak peak into the future coming soon.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I'd love to know what direction they're going to go..... the Cubs have $41.8MM committed to 2013 so far ($28.5MM between Soriano & Marmol). This is a team that's spent $109MM in 2012, and as much as $144MM in 2010. They haven't lowered their ticket prices, so I'm sure all these "un educated fans the media caters to" will be demanding a .500 club while we're waiting for the "waves" to come ashore.........

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yeah - I have:

    Soriano: $19mm
    Marmol: $9.8mm
    Castro: $5mm
    Shark: $5mm
    DeJesus: $4.25mm
    Volstad: $2.65mm
    Russell: $2.5mm

    Everyone else (right now) would play under a rookie contract. Either way the payroll will be well under $80mm even if they sign 4 or 5 DeJesus-Maholm types. They get one more year of that BS from this particular season ticket holder.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    No offense meant to readers of this blog. I thought that we had already established you were smarter than the average fan if you read this blog.

    But, I do not blame you or any fan, especially the season ticket holders for being upset over the inferior product right now. When Ricketts bought the team, I sensed he really wanted to build a winner. I still do. I met him at a Cubs game back in July (the one where T Wood snapped him winning streak). He just came walking through the outfield terrace stands where we were sitting. Seemed like a nice and genuine guy. I think his heart is in the right place. I think the FO is doing the right thing, the right way. But as a business man, he needs to do something to re-pay the loyalty of season ticket holders for these miserable years.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'm content with giving them time to shed the bad contracts. Most of that is done now, with the exception of 2 more years of Soriano and another year of Marmol. Those don't actually amount to much in the grand scheme of things. But I would be somewhat OK with a low Kansas City-style payroll for 2013. 2014 is a different story in my view.

    If we are expected to sit back and wait for players in Boise to matriculate, the FO should expect to lose 7-8000 season ticket holders. That said, I suspect this in not the plan.

    Rather I expect the FO to bring in established 28-29 year-old talent through trades or FA signings, avoid albatross Carl Crawford/Alfonso Soriano contracts, and bring up a solid prospect or two each year. I expect this to begin in earnest in 2014, with 2013 looking a lot like 2012, but with the added hope of Castro/Rizzo/Jackson/Castillo improving enough to get closer to .500.

    Piching (clearly) is the biggest question mark going into next season. If they make some effort there, I would be more optimistic about 2013 and the whole rebuilding plan in general.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I think this is a pretty fair and realistic expectation.

  • For those interested, here's how the 2012 payroll was broken down:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ah4PW47PiAi-dEdKY3FGM2E0VDdSRjN5Y3V3X1B0c0E&output=html

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks for that info!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    you're welcome! Now put it to good use.... lol

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Don't forget the $5mm for Carlos Pena and $2mm for Silva.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I will!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Wow, awesome link. Thanks! Should be interesting to see how fans (especially season ticket holders) react to seeing their team run out a club with a budget less than Oakland's.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Theo/Hoyer. Love the long-term plan. I'm just not sure I've ever seen a big market team make such a huge change over multiple years span (and lets face it, the "uneducated" fans already see it as taking steps backward from incompetent management). It'll be fun to watch, that's for sure!

  • So we know Rizzo, Castro, & Beef are locked in to return. Add a starting 3B (Stewart, Youk, etc), and a veteran Catcher to b/u & mentor Castillo... and then assuming Barney returns and we keep Valbuena for a utility IF & LH bat off the bench. That's 6 position players for the 25 roster. Assume Dejesus is back in RF, B-Jax in CF. That gives us 8. Will Sori return? Probably, because we can't do anything but give him away. But lets say we do move him... I'd like to see a 3-way platoon of LaHair/Sappelt/Campana. so now we're at 11. Figure Sveums hard-on for Mather and the fact that he can play all 4 corners - we're up to 12. Add 5 starters (only Shark is a guarantee to return) and 8 bullpen arms..... and you've got your opening day 25.

    That's pretty much how our positional players/offense is going to look unless we bust out the checkbook. Which we may do, but I wouldn't expect any big name signings that some fans want. Probably more of the Stewart/DeJesus/MaHolm varieties on 1-2yr deals trying to resurrect their careers or whatever. We're going to need a minimum of 2 Sp's, possibly 1-2 RP's, a C, a 3B, etc.... thats a pretty busy off season for the FO right there.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Jim, good breakdown.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Tom. please tell me that wasn't the "sneak peek of the future" you promised...... lol

  • Who is next year's Paul Maholm?

    Starting pitchers
    Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
    Erik Bedard (34)
    Joe Blanton (32)
    Bartolo Colon (40)
    Aaron Cook (34)
    Kevin Correia (32)
    Jorge De La Rosa (32) - $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout
    Ryan Dempster (36)
    R.A. Dickey (38) - $5MM club option with a $300K buyout
    Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
    Jeff Francis (32)
    Gavin Floyd (30) - $9.5MM club option
    Freddy Garcia (37)
    Zack Greinke (28)
    Jeremy Guthrie (34)
    Rich Harden (31)
    Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
    Roberto Hernandez (32) - $9MM club option
    Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Edwin Jackson (29)
    Hiroki Kuroda (38)
    Colby Lewis (33)
    Francisco Liriano (29)
    Kyle Lohse (34)
    Derek Lowe (40)
    Paul Maholm (31) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Shaun Marcum (31)
    Jason Marquis (34)
    Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
    Brandon McCarthy (29)
    Kevin Millwood (38)
    Jamie Moyer (50)
    Roy Oswalt (35)
    Carl Pavano (37)
    Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
    Anibal Sanchez (29)
    Jonathan Sanchez (30)
    Ervin Santana (30) - $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Joe Saunders (32)
    James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
    Carlos Villanueva (29)
    Chien-Ming Wang (33)
    Kip Wells (36)
    Randy Wolf (36)
    Chris Young (34)
    Carlos Zambrano (32)

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    wow that is quite a list break the curse! Maybe paul maholm is the next maholm? except he may not be available? who do you think it is? Nice to meet you by the way!

  • In reply to Gary Kueper:

    Great meeting you too! I would love to see them land Carlos Villanueva. He doesn't have too many innings and I think he could be part of the short or semi-long term plan. Joe Saunders wouldn't be too pricy, and maybe Brandon McCarthy. I think they'll get one or two of these 5-8 mil a year guys that can bolster the rotation. Hoping next year, while we'll have no ace, we'll have a solid 1-5.

  • I don't see next year's team coming close to 81 wins. This year's Cubs are flirting with the worst record in Cubs history, and since our two ERA leaders (Dempster & Maholm) are gone, and since Vitters and Jackson look like they need more AAA "seasoning," I'd say that the forecast calls for pain. During the first half of the season when the Cubs still had Dempster and Maholm, and LaHair played like an All Star, the Cubs were still terrible. There's nothing in AAA to give the Cubs a jolt, so Theo and Jed will have to find draw some trump cards from the discard pile just to sniff 70 wins next year.
    I hope that Brett Jackson can tame his whiffs next year. I checked FanGraphs and among rookie position players (minimum 100 PAs), Jackson has the second highest strikeout rate in 112 years. The only position player who struck out more often was Dave Duncan.

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    2014... Isn't that also the year that the Cubs TV deal is up? Maybe a blockbuster of a TV deal will be awaiting the Cubs...

  • In reply to Tadek87:

    I think that's the year the WGN deal is up and even though it's only a part of the equation, they need to do better on those kinds of deals. The discounted WGN deal really put them at a disadvantage.

  • All of you can propose trades, free agent signings and what could happen. The fact is none of you here with your clipboards are Theo or Jed! So relax, kick back and wait for next Spring Training to come. 2013 will be another long year for many of you out there sipping the Cubs Kool Aid. The same mistakes that happen with the rookies this year, will happen next year.

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    I see the cubs having a similar year next year as they are having this year but a little more wins. Honestly, that isnt a bad thing because they will get a higher draft pick. BUT it is hard to judge right now what kind of team they will be because no one has any idea what Theo is going to do in the offseason. Is Theo going to spend some money and get grienkie? Or is Theo going to get some low cost alternatives like last year when he signed maholm and dejesus. We wont find that out until the winter of course. Also, there is a possibility he tries to trade jackson or vitters to get some impact pitching. Not to mention trading Garza which I really hope they do. I feel like we can get a good return for him from the Blue Jays. It will be a very eventful offseason to say the least. Lets see what Theo has up his sleeve.

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    Yeah, it's hard to say until we see the offseason moves, but I would say at this point .500 for the Cubs next year would be a stretch, but you never know. I expect Vitters to go back to AAA so they would need a good 3b. Maybe that's Stewart or Valbuena, but that's doubtful. Then Jackson will have to continue to develop as some have said, and we another decent year from Soriano or LaHair, as well as Dejesus, as well as Castillo to continue to develop. If we add a few more starting pitchers of maholm type ability and get some bullpen guys to come on, it is possible to reach .500. But that's alot of question marks and the likelihood of most of those being answered in a positive way for the Cubs is not likely i'm afraid.

  • They will be awful next year. Unfortunate, but in this process it's unavoidable. A .500 team, no. They have made their intentions clear, and they are not going to sign the free agents necessary to field a .500 team. This is fine with me. I've been waiting years for this team to build a farm system the right way. Our best prospects are at least 3 years from being impact players; we have yet to really stock impact arms. This will happen in next year's draft. It's a process folks and it takes time. Patience will be rewarded, but patience may mean another 3-4 years of bad teams. Prepare accordingly. If they get there faster all the better.

  • In reply to ccia:

    I agree with everyone, and they will be patient, but development of our players should give us a few more wins. A little luck can go a long way.

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    I think they will be a .500 team in 2014 but not next year. 2015 is when I think they will be in a pennant race. 2016 is gonna be their year I think.

  • I'll take an analytical approach
    Player WAR
    Castillo 3
    Rizzo 3
    Barney 2
    Valbuena 2 (don't discount him completely - can't ignore the last month he's had IMO)
    Castro 5
    Soriano 3
    Jackson 1
    DeJesus 2
    Offense = 21 WAR

    Pitching
    Garza 4
    Shark 3
    Wood 1
    SPs = 8 WAR

    29 WAR from these 11 players gets us to 75 wins. We still need to:

    1) find remaining roster pieces to get us 6 wins, which is not easy given our current list of spare parts
    2) have all of the above hold true, which may be a stretch since it's asking for Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, and Shark to take big steps forward

    So, yeah, I think we could be .500 next year. It may not be likely, but it's possible

  • Could the Cubs turn into a surprise contender next season? Sure.

    First off, let's say Arodys Vizcaino isn't ready to come back from Tommy John. Still, there's Samardzija, Garza, Wood, and Volstad (who seems to have figured out how to at least challenge MLB hitters again) in the rotation. Justin Germano's filled in respectably, but he's likely a swingman in the future. So, that leaves an open rotation spot.

    The Cubs can go with a sure option like a Joe Saunders, or they can roll the dice on Jair Jurrjens, who will almost assuredly be non-tendered. If the Cubs can manage to fix him, all of a sudden, the rotation seems somewhat formidable. Garza-Samardzija-Jurrjens-Wood-Volstad seems somewhat solid.

    In the 'pen, Marmol stays as the closer, still finding his success that he's had since about mid-May. Camp is re-signed to be the workhorse, and guys such as Dolis, Russell, Bowden, and others fill out the relief corps. Perhaps a low-cost veteran or two comes in.

    Vitters is probably back at AAA to start the season. Let's say it's Adrian Cardenas the Cubs decide to let start for the time being, with Castro, Barney, and Rizzo filling out the infield. Welington Castillo starts at catcher, and Soriano-Jackson-DeJesus is your outfield. Valbuena, Sappelt, Campana, Clevenger, and some other utility man or two fill out the bench.

    There is the possibility that the Cubs can become a surprise team in 2013. However, Theo and Jed likely don't see the team as ready to take off yet, and they'd still probably trade off various players (DeJesus, Soriano, Garza) as they continue to try and build up the farm.

    So, while it's possible in theory, it's seemingly impossible to be seen through.

    2016 will be a good year.

  • I don't see them hitting .500 next year barring some very good flier type signings that really hit. Most of their impact talent is below the AAA level. Plus, they're still going to be sellers next year, so even if the fliers do hit, come the trade deadline, we'll be selling pieces again and our second half record will be worse than our first half. Just don't see it happening. If we're even in the neighborhood, .450 or above, I'll be happy.

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