Cubs already planning for 2013, but looking ahead to 2014

As many of you already know, the Cubs have chosen not to retain Pat Listach, their 3B coach.  Listach was a rising managerial star in the Cubs system and is highly thought of around the league, so I assume he'll get a position somewhere fairly quickly.  Good luck to him.

In somewhat related news, Bobby Valentine of the Red Sox will not return in 2013.  That leaves open the possibility that the Cubs could try to lure Dave Magadan to be their hitting coach.  James Rowson still has the interim tag and that means he probably won't be retained as the MLB hitting coach, but he has done a great job as the minor league hitting coordinator, both with the Cubs early this season and with the Yankees prior to that.  It's very possible he returns to that role.

There will be some changes on the field, of course.

As he was addressing the media on the 2012 season, Theo Epstein said,

 "I will be incredibly disappointed if our baseball operation isn't better by [2014]."

The part that stands out is 2014.  In other words, don't expect the Cubs to take any short cuts this offseason.  As I've said many times, rebuilding is a process.  You can't do it all in one year.  By the same token, it doesn't mean he doesn't plan to improve the team in 2013.  In fact, it's implied in the previous statement: You can't rebuild everything in one year.  So I doubt Epstein will neglect the club in 2013 and then leave all the work for the next offseason.  I expect him to continue to gradually add pieces that are either long term or short-term pieces that can be converted into long term ones.

With that in mind, don't expect the Cubs to go big into free agency for quick-fixes.  Theo said,

 "I've always believed and still believe free agent $$ provides the lowest return of any investment in baseball opps."

That's not to say they won't sign a couple of players, but I would expect them to be more along the lines of last year's signings of David DeJesus and Paul Maholm.  Players like Zack Greinke and B.J. Upton are almost certainly out of the picture, and older big free agents on multi-year deals is completely out of the question right now.  In particular, look for the Cubs to scour the market for starting pitching value,

"We'll have to pursue free agency to some degree for starting pitching."

"To some degree" implies once again that this isn't going to be an all out spending spree.  I would look for some of the bargains I have mentioned in the past, guys like Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, and maybe take flyers on talents like Brian Matusz.  In other words, look for Paul Maholm types in free agency and Travis Wood/Chris Volstad types in trades. Then you hope you either find a long term piece or you get a player that you can flip later.

Theo also said that he is going into the offseason with the assumption that Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson will begin the year in Iowa.  Tom and I have talked about 3B in a previous article and we will cover CF options today.  But just like everything else, don't expect the Cubs to go all in when it comes to free agents.  They'll look for value once again and focus on those players who they can project to improve in 2013 rather than pay for past performance.

So, those looking for the Cubs to contend or even finish .500 next season should temper their expectations.

As the man himself asked, "Is patience required?"

"Absolutely", said Theo, answering his own question.


Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    Totally acceptable fate. Cubs need to stay the course. I think Soriano's admission that he would like to contend again makes him more likely to go at trade deadline (if he wants to). His production this year no longer makes me think of him as a sunken cost. Until he blocks a prospect, I would hope they keep him.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    He did and Theo did mention that they're open to trading him (why wouldn't they?) but that they have been pleasantly surprised with him and that they believe he has value to their team. That second part is 50% true and 50% posturing, of course.

    Finding a fit and getting value in return will be the tricky part. He wants to go to a warm weather place to prolong his career. I don't blame him for that, but I hope he's flexible there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Its nice to see he wants to go to a winner now. Didn't he block a trade to the Giants earlier this year when his trade value was on the way up? Arguably the Giants have as good a chance as anyone of winning the WS this year.

  • fb_avatar

    Everyone knew this was the case, but it still stings to hear the words finally come out of the horses mouth. John, I do have a question. How well regarded is Dave Magadan throughout the league?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    He's considered one of the elite hitting coaches in the game, but more importantly, he's a perfect fit for what the Cubs want to do.

  • John, what do you think about the cubs maybe trying to trade for Jedd gyorko of San Diego? Hoyer and mcloud are obviously very familiar with him and with chase Hadley having a monster year do you think he might be expandable by the padres?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Joshnk24:

    I think Gyorko is the reason SD was considering offers on Headley, and that they're far more likely to deal Headley than Gyorko.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    Agree here with JW. They'll trade Headley before they trade Gyorko.

  • fb_avatar

    Good article John, and it's exactly what I wanted to hear. Stay the course Cubs!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yep! Stay the course. Keep building, but no quick, short-term fixes!

  • It's going to be a while until we should sign big name FA's or
    trade prospects. Until then just sign bargain players that fit
    our needs. I would not get rid of Stewart and LaHair for nothing.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    They may end up keeping those guys. I agree. Look for bargains and value on both the free agent and trade markets.

  • I think with a couple of smart moves the cubs could be in contention next year. We never now what is going to happen fro year to year, so it could be just a improvement from next year or be in contention next year. I have to ask, why is miguel cabrera not getting the coverage that he should be getting more attention. Instead they are saying trout should be MVP!!! I now trout had a good season but come on, cabrera is the triple crown winner on a playoff team. I know people don't want to hear this and I know people get upset but I think race has a small thing in this. If mike trout who some say is better than ricky henderson already and is the next mickey mantle won the triple crown and cabrera had trout's numbers, they would have trout as there mvp and on sportscenter every two minutes. I would have to hear Tim Kurkjian,buster olney and john kruk about how trout is the best player ever !

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to seankl:

    First off, Detroit making the playoffs has absolutely nothing to do with the MVP race. The Angels actually had a better record than the Tigers did. Second of all Trout is important in multiple facets of the game, while Miguel Cabrera only hits. Trout is a sensational defender and a monster on the base paths. RBIs are a terribly stat to gauge by. Because Trout leads off, he has less opportunities to drive in runs. Is that his fault? Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown which is insanely rare, but the season Mike Trout had is more rare than a triple crown.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Demarrer:

    Trout's accomplishment is more rare than winning a Triple Crown? Sorry, but no. Baseball history is loaded with fantastic rookie seasons, many of whom didn't even win Rookie of the Year because there were more than one deserving player that season.

    Take a look at some of the stats from ROY winners

    Besides the obvious benefit today's players have over yesteryear (smaller parks, better baseballs, expansion thinning out talent in pitching, better nutrition and workouts, etc.)...

    Walt Dropo .323 34hrs 144 rbi
    Tony Oliva .323 32 94
    Al Bumbry, .337, Mike Hargrove, .323, Fred Lynn, .331
    Eddie Murray, oh, Ron Kittle, 35 hrs 100 rbi, Alvin Davis 27hrs 116rbi, Canseco 33hrs 117rbi, McGwire 49hrs 118rbi, Tim Salmon 31hrs 95rbi, Nomar .306 30hrs 98rbi 122 runs, Ichiro .350 56sb 127 runs, Frank Robinson 38hrs 83rbi, 122 runs, Orlando Cepeda .312 25/96, Billy Williams 25/86, Dick Allen .318 29/91 125 runs, Earl Williams 33/87, Mike Piazza .318 35/112, Pujols .329 37 130, Jason Freaking Bay 26 82, Ryan Braun .324 34 97.

    Trout has had a great year, but it isn't even the best rookie year ever. And arguing over rookie seasons is subjective. Who had the best rookie year? There are many answers and everyone has a different opinion. The rarity of someone leading the league in avg, hr's, and rbi in one year is incredibly rare. There have been 136 NL seasons in history, and 111 AL seasons, 247 seasons total. There have been 17 Triple Crown winners. That's just under once every 15 seasons if you just want to do it statistically. There are 30 rookies of the year in that same period. Not all ROY have a year like Trout had, but take a look at the last 15 years of ROY in each league and tell me there haven't been anyone even close to Trout. Meanwhile, nobody has done what Cabrera just did in 45 years (90 ROY's in that tie).

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Trout also had more SBs and played better d' than Cabrera. The voters will decide the MVP, but Trout clearly had the better all-around season.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    The fact that Trout is a rookie is completely irrelevant to the MVP discussion.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I know the MVP is a hot topic. To me, Trout's the better overall player. Cabrera is the better overall hitter. And I know Detroit made the playoffs, but the Angels actually won more games -- so I think that part's a wash.

    I think I'd vote for Trout, but I won't be one of those guys who will be upset if Cabrera wins it. He's had a phenomenal year and no way does that Detroit team win the division without him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Personally I think it's always hard to justify how a player on a non-playoff team wins the MVP, although it has happened many times. I think the somewhat craziest was Andre Dawson winning it when the Cubs finished last in the NL East. Nothing against Dawson, who had a monster year that always brings back great memories, but they also would have finished last if I played RF every day. It's hard to explain how valuable a player is to a team that wouldn't have dropped at all in the standings without them. The problem is that the award morphed years ago into basically the Most Valuable Hitter.

    Trout had an amazing year. But Cabrera won the Triple Crown. Rookies come along every few years that have amazing years. The batting Triple Crown has only been won 17 times in MLB history, and not for 45 years, since 1967. People seem to be completely passing by how historic and amazing Cabrera's feat was. Cabrera also played a position (3b) he hadn't played regularly since 2007, and played it far better than he had at any point in his career.

    I'm not a fan of Cabrera the person, but I can't deny how incredible his season was. He's clearly the MVP.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I think it's awesome he wont the triple crown. But we can say Mike Trout's season is just as historic.
    No player in baseball history has ever had a season of 30 hr's, 45 sb's, and 125 runs. Until Mike Trout.
    So, since that's more rare than a triple crown, should he be MVP now?
    And sorry, but as Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig can attest, triple crown does not equal MVP.

  • In reply to Norm:

    I don't this is the Most Historic Performance award. If a pitcher throws three no-hitters in a season, does that make him the MVP? Depends on what he did the other 30 or so starts.
    This award should go to the player who had the most positive impact on his team throughout the year. The Angels would have had a very good season even if Trout was average. I'm not sure the same thing could be said about the Tigers and Cabrera.Without Miggy the Tigers are alongside the Cubs on the couch, watching the playoffs.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    There's a philosophical difference between the two sides on this. One side believes it should go to the best player as measured by advanced stats. That is, stats the hitter himself can control, and not things such as RBI or whether his team makes the playoffs or not. They want it to be as objective as it can be. I understand that. And I agree with a perfect world.

    But I also understand that any award in the entertainment field , whether you are talking about a Grammy or an Oscar or sports, will involve popularity, politics, and different schools of thought-- so some may not like that, but that's how the world works. People want to set strict guidelines according to their preferred rules and statistics, but I think that's idealistic in this case. We may have immutable laws in hard science, but that's not the realm in which baseball plays.

    I'd vote for Trout because I subscribe to that school of thought, but I like to keep an open mind and I understand the argument for Cabrera. I'm more than willing to be wrong, though I have to admit that I like a good debate :)

    I think it's absolutely cool that Cabrera won the triple crown and if he wins the MVP because of it, that's cool too. In fact, there is a part of me that wants to see him win it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    john, I like trout a lot but I just say to people to be careful when they say a player with no body of work is a better player than a player that has done it longer and some who are in the HOF. I think it is not fair to those players and not fair to the young player. I am not talking about you but I hear fans and media doing those things. One reporter who covers baseball and is well respected said he is better than ricky henderson and is up there with mickey mantle !!!

  • In reply to seankl:

    I agree it's early to put those kinds of expectations on a kid, but that's what people do. As you know, I'm not big into comps. Personally, I just say let the kid play and make his own name, but comps are always going to be part of the game. It's human nature to want to connect two things that we believe are similar, or in this case, can be similar.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Mickey Mantle after one year?... Hmmmm.
    Hope for him to be more Joey Votto and less Geo Soto!

  • In reply to seankl:

    I live in SoCal and watch Trout play all the time, so the comparisons don't surprise me at all. If I were an Angel fan I wouldn't worry in the slightest about the "pressure" getting to him. The guy makes the game look easy. I'm surprised every time he makes an out.

  • people, triple crown is NOT easy now days, it is hard to face up to three different pitchers a game if he's lucky. I think trout is a nice young player but his numbers went down in the second half. I don't get how RBI are not important like some people say now. If you don't have RBI guy's how are the people that have high obp score runs ? Cabrera is going from a position where he was OK to another position were he is below average. And let trout play a few more years before we start to say who he is better than, remember the players that people say trout is better than had to work to hard and long. Trout is not a finished product he still has things to learn.

  • In reply to seankl:

    RBIs are important, but the reason some don't put as much stock in it as others is that they are based on opportunity, in other words, it's not directly in the players control. It depends on where you bat, how well your teammates get on base, etc. That said, Cabrera has certainly taken advantage of most of his opportunities.

    As far as the MVP, people are only saying that Trout is better this year and there are a lot of statistics that bear that out. They don't have to try and predict what he'll do in a few years.

    They have both been excellent players in 2012 and to me, both are deserving of the award. Unfortunately, only one can get it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    There have been co-MVP'S before.Although this has been several years ago,I believe Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell shared the award one year (possibly 1979)

  • In reply to Gary Schaber:

    I guess that's true. There's one award but technically be split because of the voting process. Should be close this year.

  • Off topic:
    I saw a quote that I'll share because it will give some of us some hope for the not too distant future. Billy Beane said during Oakland's improbable celebration yesterday that “We set out to create a team whose future was better than its past and in the process we made a team for the present.”

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I like that quote! I'd be thrilled if that happens to the Cubs as long as it happens within their rebuilding plans. I'm assuming most of us would be. Not something I'm going to hold my breath on, but strange things happen every year in baseball. The As and Os are two of this year's biggest examples.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Hey Toby!! I'm with John. GREAT quote. One of the best things about blogs like this is we live in different parts of the country - not just in Chicago. You live in SF and bring us that quote!!

    I may even include it in my letter to member of my season ticket group!!

    John - your quote about 'opportunity.' I can't remember how many times Brenly lamented that factor about Sori, saying he'd have a boatload more RBI if the guys ahead had been on base more.

  • How much more money do they have to play with this off-season, with Zambrano and Byrd coming off the books? I'm not saying the Cubs will contend or even finish .500, but I don't see why they'll automatically lose 100 games again. Instead of adding players like Joe Mather or Valbuena to fill out the roster, maybe they can bring in some better players since they'll have more money. Not BJ Upton-type players, but better than someone like Mather.

    It'd be nice if the Cubs could build for the future while at the same time put a team on the field that's more competitive -- like the Beane quote says.

  • In reply to Diggs:

    I agree. In fact, I would be pretty disappointed if we saw another 100-loss team again next year. I'm not saying we need to make the playoffs, but I'd like to see at least 70 wins or so. We should have Rizzo for a full year, Castro should get better, Samardzija, etc. Even if we do end up trading some guys, I'd like to see big-picture momentum and I'd prefer not to see any more Berkens or Germanos starting next year.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    I'd like to see the Cubs win more games too, but as long as they're doing it with their young core.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    I'd expect Shark to be ready to pitch the full season, and I hope Rizzo, Castro, and Barney improve. But if our rental 3B and CF produce, it will boil to Vitters and Brett Jackson. I hope they perform well. Or at least better. I doubt Berken or Germano, but Rusin, Raley, and Nick Struck may well close the year in the rotation. 95 plus losses will be possible. Again.

  • In reply to Diggs:

    I think they'll be more like DeJesus and Maholm than Joe Mather, but you're right, it probably won't be anyone like BJ Upton.

    Last year the Cubs got some young players like Wood, Volstad, and Stewart who had the chance to break out much the way Josh Reddick did for the A's this season. It didn't happen for them, but keep taking enough of those chances and sooner or later you'll hit pay dirt.

  • In reply to Diggs:

    Diggs, Pretty sure this is right, per Cots. Before arb eligible and raises, the number is below $38 million. $18 to Sori, $9.8 to Marmol, and $4.5 to DeJesus.

    Uh, Cots doesn't take into account Castro's new deal so that number will go up accordingly.

  • Time for MLB to go back to two divisions.

    There are teams with better records not getting into the playoffs. Lets just have A.L. & N.L. Divisions, and the top five teams in each division makes it into the playoffs. The #4 & #5 teams plays a one game playoff. No more of this East, Central, West formats.

  • Biggest problem is the Cubs have zero pitching in the system that can help out soon. (Maybe Vizcaino if we're lucky?) I just wonder if it's possible to address that AND make the big-league club considerably better. Hope so.

  • In reply to Diggs:

    In 2014, yeah. In 2013, not so much.

  • fb_avatar

    Anyone really look at the record of the Washington Nationals over the past 5 years? Anyone think these Nationals aren't going to be very good over the next few years?

    My point is that they have done a great job with not just drafting players but developing them as well. Theo has had 1 year so far and I think he's done an outstanding job. The job I refer to is the way he has set up shop. We were able to get rid of some of the dead weight, add some fine talent to the farm system, put an outstanding player development department in place, get the right folks in place as far as scouting goes, install a top notch mlb coaching staff, and have a damn fine draft.

    This kind of stuff may not show up in the wins column but IT WILL! It took Washington 4 years to create the 2012 season. Stay the course Theo!!! Folks will envy us by 2015!

    And if there is a just God, Rosenpuke will be fired by the time we get to the promised land....... Opps, I let that slip out! hahahahaha

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    BTW> I predict 72-75 win next year and folks will still doubt the plan is working........

  • The Cubs have a strong core of young players who most likely will improve and may be produce a 500 season without breaking the free agency bank. The Cubs may sign or trade for a young Rh left fielder to encourage Soriano to consider more seriously a new team. He wants to play not menter a new outfielder.

  • fb_avatar

    Hopefully no more deals for guys like Volstad,also Vitters definitely needs another year in Iowa.I like guys like Mather and LaHair and hope they will have a place on the 25 man roster.

  • In reply to Gary Schaber:

    I take this to mean you don't want guys who will go 3-12 with a 6.64 ERA. Well, yeah, but that's obviously not what I meant.

    Actually you do want guys like Volstad. You want guys who are not yet in their prime, throw 90-94 mph fastballs with movement and good overall stuff. You want them to get better results than what Volstad had, but you want to get young players with talent and hope that they break out. Volstad didn't. It doesn't mean you give up on trying to acquire players with his kind of talent.

  • John, I think it will be interesting to see what the Phillies do. They are talking of moving Utley to 3B leaving 2B open. Sandberg loves Barney and vice versa. Do not be surprised in the least to see a trade that puts Barney in Philly, and us getting some player (s) in return. I am going to believe that Philadelphia wants a couple of players who do the little things and plays great defense for their very good and aging starting pitching. What does Philly have that would be a good return for the Cubs?

  • In reply to vh4bvu:

    Phllies don't have a strong system, but Barney does seem like a potential fit. They have some good pitching prospects like Biddle, Colvin,and May, but I don't think they can get them for Barney. They may have to go after one of their 2nd tier guys.

  • If it's not a player like bj upton? Then who? He is young and entering his prime years. The cubs are not the rays or royals. They can't just load up a team full of young unproven players. If we are looking at an outfield of dejesus, sappelt, and campana...yikes! Next year will be worse than this year! Us central ill fans can't take much more of the douchey cards fans we have around here, the cubs need to put a respectable product on the field.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    Is BJ Upton the answer,though? CF doesn't look to be a long term problem for the Cubs, so why do they need to pay for one that hasn't really lived up to expectations and will be 30 by the time the Cubs compete? 30 isn't ancient by any means, but it is more significant for a player who relies on his speed.

  • Early prediction (is there anything more fun): 75-87 in 2013.

  • Its tough to watch the cubs lose 100 games. At the same time, if we lose 105 games and get the chance to draft Carlos Rodon , ill gladly take. He was slated to be number one overall in 2014 LAST YEAR. Kid was 9-0 with a 1.57 era. lefty who throws in the high 90's and has three plus pitches. Theo knows he has to exploit the benefits of being a bad team with the new cba. Finishing .500 or 15 games under .500 gets u nowhere. now if rizz n castro are on fire, n we are winning because our young players are developing, ill take it. Jus letting you guys kno , finishing with 100 plus losses is not the worst thing in the world. .500 in 2014 season would be nice tho. or alest around .500

  • John
    I understand (& agree with) the philosophy of signing a couple free agents with the idea of probably turning them into prospects come trade deadline, but is Theo over looking the fact that free agents might say: "Why would I come to Chicago only to be dealt at the deadline?". From what I remember, Maholm's reaction was more or less, "I signed with the cubs to be in Chicago, not to wind up somewhere else.". Or is that a non-factor or, perhaps, beneficial in some way?
    It's gonna be interesting to see how that plays out.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    It's a good question and I think it depends on the player. You could say it's almost a guaranteed way to be in the postseason, or at least in the pennant race :)

    Players will still go where they get the best combination of years and money. The Cubs have room on their payroll and while I don't think they'll use it to go after big FAs, they could use it to outbid teams on certain guys they plan to flip at the deadline. They can sign guys to a Carlos Pena like deal and then eat some of that money to facilitate a trade. Payroll space can help in that way too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Guaranteeing being in a pennant race, that's a good selling point. Im sure Theo would play that card & with the way they bent over backward to try & get Dempster to LA (even letting him "hang around" during negotiations) would be proof that they will try the best to get the player to a targeted team.
    Id even think they might overpay for a one year contract knowing that either a) the trade partner will pay the rest of the salary or B) they can offer the trade partner to eat more or all of the contract to get a better prospect.

  • For anyone thinking of replacing Listach with Ryne Sandberg...too late. He's already coaching there for the Phillies. Damn. He's good with kids.

  • I for one am glad Ryne Sandberg will not be the 3rd base coach for the Cubs. It would have been too distracting, every time the Cubs go on a losing streak or something, the die hard Cubbie fans would be clamoring for him to take over. The Cubs don't need that kind of distraction.

Leave a comment