Cubs "lose" out on Anibal Sanchez. So what's plan B?

Cubs "lose" out on Anibal Sanchez. So what's plan B?
Carlos Villanueva and Francisco Liriano

Yesterday it looked like the Cubs were on the verge of signing Anibal Sanchez but his agent decided to give his old team, the Tigers, one last chance to match or beat the offer.

And they beat it.

They gave Sanchez an incredible 5 year/$80M deal?  It was everything Sanchez was hoping to make but did the Tigers get good value here.

My thought is no.

I said as much as yesterday when it was thought the Cubs may have signed him to 5 years $75M.  Sanchez is a good pitcher, but that doesn't mean it was a great deal.  It was about at the very limit of what Sanchez is worth -- and perhaps more.  According to one industry source I spoke to, it was way too much.

The Tigers felt they could not afford to lose Sanchez and we can either say the Cubs got played here or we can take heart and realize that the Cubs are players for the top names, even at this early stage of rebuilding.  The likely answer is that it's a little bit of both.  The agent had no guarantees the Tigers would beat the offer, so it stands to reason they were prepared to sign with the Cubs if they hadn't.  At the same time, it's obvious the Tigers were their preference all along.

For those that think the Cubs should spend, this is the inherent problem in trying to build through free agency when your team is rebuilding and coming off a 100 loss season.  Players want money, of course, but they also want to win.  The Cubs can only guarantee one of those things at the present time.

We should also be encouraged that the Cubs don't plan to stand idly and lose 100 games if they find a player they feel fits their long term plan.  They were even willing to overpay for it.  Unfortunately, so were the Tigers.

So what's next?

There are a couple of schools of though there.

  • Go after the next best pitchers out there -- either Edwin Jackson or Kyle Lohse.  Lohse is 34, so we can probably rule him out. But Jackson is just 29 and better fits the long term plan.  There are reports, however, that the Padres are in big and there is a strong market overall.  Jackson may get as many as 5 years and $65 overall.  The Cubs knew Sanchez well and felt he was worth the money, it doesn't necessarily mean they feel the same way about Jackson.  Jackson has better stuff, but his peripherals are not quite as good.  He has a career walk rate of 2.85 and a strikeout rate of 6.96 per 9 IP.  His career FIP is 3.93, which is about on line with his ERA (3.98).
  • Go back to their previous plan of value-oriented signings.  The name I like here is 29 year old Carlos Villanueva.  He gives the Cubs some flexibility in that he was successful both as a starter and out of the bullpen last year.  He has even closed in his career.  The reason Villanueva is a potential bargain is that 1) he doesn't have a long track record of success and 2) teams are convinced he won't hold up as a starter long term.  With regard to the first reason, that is a valid concern.  Villanueva has always had talent, but never put it together until last season.  His command has improved significantly,however, over the past two seasons and that has been the main reason for his turnaround.  With regard to the second issue, he may not have to be a full-time starter for the Cubs.  He can start the season in the rotation but potentially return to the bullpen once Scott Baker comes back.  He could then regain a spot later in the season if the Cubs make trades at the deadline.  At the same time, if he shows he can hold up as a starter, there's nothing to say that another pitcher, perhaps Travis Wood or Scott Feldman, can go to the bullpen.  Or perhaps it means the Cubs can deal a pitcher earlier in season.  It offers the team a lot of flexibility.
  • Other options are LHP Francisco Liriano, 29, and RHP Shawn Marcum.  Liriano is the one with the highest upside on this list but also has shown the least command since his injury.  If he can return to his pre-injury control numbers, it's a potential steal.  Marcum has been the steadier performer but injuries and durability have been an issue.  Between the two, I'd rather gamble with Liriano.  Marcum is essentially a bottom of the rotation starter, albeit a very good one when he's healthy.  Liriano has a chance to be more than that with his 93-94 mph FB from the left side and a nasty slider.
  • The Cubs may turn to a trade and it may be with the very team that beat them to Sanchez, the Tigers.  They now have Rick Porcello as a 5th starter and Drew Smyly as the odd man out.  We have long talked about Porcello here and he has the youth and durability to be a long term fixture with the rebuilding Cubs.  Both his stuff and peripherals took a leap forward last year and he could really benefit from a switch to the NL and a much better IF defense behind him.   Smyly would fill the void the Cubs need from the left side.  He's not a top of the rotation type, but he's cost controlled and young enough to be part of the long term plan.

While I'd like either of the Tigers young pitchers, prying them lose may prove difficult.  If the Cubs turn to free agency, then given the potential to add value and some flexibility, my choices now are Villanueva and Liriano.  David Kaplan yesterday hinted that the Cubs may have a plan B, and it seemed to indicate a free agent pitcher, not a trade option.

Let's see what the Cubs think...

 

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  • Villanueva, he should be the guy..........Jackson, his agent will want that money the Cubs offer to Sanchez......Jackson to me is iffy.....he is not a #2 or #3 starter.......Cubs original plan is to take the bottom pitchers who were injured....so Villanueva is one of them......and maybe one more arm in the bullpen......like Adams.

    History will tell us about Delgado, Haren and Sanchez.......sometimes the best deals, are the ones you don't make.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    This is true. It'll be interesting to follow those guys' over the next couple of years.

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    Good analysis John! I don't think we should be shedding any tears. In fact, this may end up working out better, and at least we know this FO won't hesitate when they have a chance to really help the team. We also know they won't overpay either.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Even though they lost out, I do like what it says about the front office. And nobody can say they're not trying to land bigger names now. It's just not so easy. They lost out on two bigger names (McCarthy/Sanchez) now but they put it in a good offer for each.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, does Rick Porcello now become available, and is there a match between the Tigers and the Cubs involving Porcello. I was thinking about Barney, Marmol and cash for Porcello and some lower level prospect who wouldn't have to be put on the 40 man roster. Barney would improve their middle infield significantly, and Infante could then slide over to third base.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You'd give up that much for Porcello and a lower level prospect? I would think they could do Barney or Marmol alone, not both. And why cash? Neither of those players is overvalued. Seems like an overpay to me.

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    In reply to Jive Wired:

    Marmol isn't overvalued? What planet are you living on?

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I mentioned Marmol for Porcello as well. Tigers might be stuck with a rookie closer. For how much money they invested in being a World Series team, a rookie closer could cost you several wins in the form of blown saves. I am wondering if Marmol alone is viable.

  • In reply to Greg Cochara:

    I've seen a lot of rumors about a Porcello for Hanrahan deal. Hanrahan is cheaper and more dependable than Marmol, so there could actually be some competition for Porcello. Tigers won't be giving him away, so Cubs may need to offer more.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's exactly what I said. NEITHER. OF. THOSE. PLAYERS. IS. OVERVALUED.

    So I know where I am, the question is , do you know where you are and why would a trade like that need to include cash from the Cubs?

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    In reply to Jive Wired:

    I'll let your statement stand for it's own merit or lack there of, but please pass whatever it is you're smoking around to the rest of us. That must be some good stuff.

  • I saw reports last night that Kaplan said the Cubs were trying for Sanchez AND Villanueva. I'd still like to see them add two SPs, but I'm sure it will be hard to convince two of them to sign on with the Cubs having five SPs already.

    My hope would be Jackson and Villanueva, but Liriano is extremely tempting. I still think Pelfrey would make some sense since he won't be ready until mid-season anyway.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    I think Villanueva makes the most sense and Liriano would be the intriguing roll of the dice. Not as high on Pelfrey. Despite some big seasons, hes a 4-5 guy to me even when healthy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I have agreed with you on most of your posts but in my world I think we should trust in what they seem to be doing. It's obvious to me that 2014 will be a year when they go all out to make this the best team we've seen in years. They do have a few studs waiting and the FO will do all this right.

  • In reply to RClax3:

    I hope so. I understand the signing and that it wasn't about value, it was about getting a guy who could be a factor in their long term plans, much like Castro, Rizzo, and Samardzija.

    It was a case where if the Cubs wanted a good pitcher they planned as part of their core, they were willing and able to pay for it. If it happened, I would have been happy.

    I just don't think it's a great deal value-wise, but that's not what this was about. The Cubs obviously thought of Sanchez as a central piece to their future plans to offer that kind of deal.

  • Even though they didn't get Sanchez, I'm just glad to see they aren't imploring the "let's just suck for a few years" strategy. I'm sure they have a plan b.

  • In reply to jimmy mac1:

    No doubt now that they aren't at least trying to win.

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    I am happy that the Cubs are at least attempting to make a couple "big market" moves to help the team now and in the future. To me, it isn't the end of the world that they didn't get Sanchez as the offense is going to be anemic next year. Were there rumors of a Liriano deal earlier in the offseason?

  • In reply to Mike Mayberry:

    It really isn't the end of the world, not at that price. Not saying I wouldnt like to have him, but I'm not sad they lost the bidding war here. Contract did not represent value. This was all about having a piece in the rotation for the long term.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That Sanchez contract scares me, I can only imagine now what Garza will be asking especially if he do not get traded and has a good season(2.5 WAR)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    There's a saying in auction theory - buyer's remorse. The winner in an auction situation is generally the person who has overvalued whatever's being sold compared to the rest of the bidders. I think it's likely Detroit will hate this deal in a few years.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    They might. I think Sanchez will be a good pitcher for them, but they may end up thinking they could have had a similar pitcher for less.

    I have mixed feelings. I really like Sanchez, but I liked him a whole lot more when he was an under the radar, value guy. The postseason performance and FA market really inflated his price to where it really wasn't about getting value. It came down to getting a guy the Cubs thought was a core piece. It would have been a bold move on their part. I guess we'll find out in the next few years if it would have been a good one.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not upset that we lost Anibal. I would've liked to have him, but I really question this notion that the contract was a significant overpay. It might be on the high end of his value, but

    - Here's a pitcher in his prime
    - While he made a comment once about being hurt often, that seemed to be a generic comment about the nature of the sport (akin to when Cal Ripken Jr. made a similar comment once), and he hasn't shown any signs of slippage in stuff.
    - He's coming off not only an excellent post-season, but an excellent 3 year run.

    Every FA case is different, so it's hard to draw direct parallels, but ...

    - We only have to look back to last year to see that the Marlins gave an aging Mark Buehrle 4 years/58 million with a 4 mil signing bonus deferred.

    - Last year, CJ Wilson, who was roughly 2 years older with only with 2 good years as a starter (compared to Anibal having 3 right now), got 5/77.5, with a 2.5 mil signing bonus.

    For better or worse, the AAV that Anibal Sanchez got is about on par with what the top tier FA pitchers get, and considering his history, it seems fairly justifiable. A tinge high, perhaps, but not so out of whack. 5 years is tough to stomach, but that's basically what teams have to give a in-his-prime arm to get him signed.

    Now, I'm not upset. That's more due to expectations. When I heard the news yesterday, I was befuddled why a starter like Anibal would come here without being grossly overpaid. Players still want to win. I would've loved to add him, but it is what it is.

    There's some side-effects of this deal that haven't been discussed. Not only will Edwin Jackson shoot for a comparable deal now (and that's a guy I'd avoid 5 years for ... I could perhaps stomach 3 and an option, but he'll likely get 4), Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija now have a target they can set. Granted, I think most of us assumed Garza was on the move eventually (although this move has to give some pause to that notion ... even if the FO's idea was something along the lines of getting prospects for Garza and swapping him out for Sanchez for the long run), but we get to use the early portion of this year to really see if these guys deserve a deal along those lines.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    As for next move, while I'm up for adding pitching depth (I wouldn't mind them taking some minor league gambles on say, Chien-Ming Wang or someone else), I think they need to wait things out a bit as it relates to big league deals. Each offseason, we tend to see one or two guys that waited too long for a deal. There's just not a guy on the market that I really want to jump on now, at least known that come to mind off the top.

    Last year, Edwin Jackson was the last man standing. Edwin Jackson might be left standing again this year (although I doubt it). Maybe Michael Bourn overplays his hand and is forced to wait.

    Maybe a team decides to spin off a young arm or two in a trade. Maybe the Soriano market develops. It's hard to imagine the Marmol market developing enough, with enough key relief pitchers available, but with Hamilton off the board, maybe some teams take another look at Soriano if they need power (for example, the Orioles have an opening at 1st/DH ... if they can't fill first, maybe they revisit Soriano ... there's a couple other teams that I wonder if they would consider Soriano now that the market has thinned out).

    At this stage, with what's left, I don't know if we need to be in a rush to sign anyone unless it's a great deal for us or if it's a minor league deal.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I actually wouldn't mind seeing the Cubs take a gamble (if the price & circumstance were right) on Chien-Ming Wang. Before that nasty injury a few years back it was nothing but ground ball,... ground ball,.. ground ball,... while starting for the Yankees.

    That's a pitching style that would play excellently in Wrigley, with the grass long, and the IF defense that is being put together.

    He looked OK last year - but only OK with the Nationals. Maybe a Minor League contract and an invite to Spring Training.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    He actually looked great last Spring (reports were that the coaches considered him their third best starter during the early portions of Spring). Then another injury happened and he never found his rhythm. That said, he had a solid 90-92 sinker last year.

    I wouldn't give him a major league deal, but a minor league deal, I'd be game.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I think all the contracts you mention are overpays, though. But that's the nature of a FA market.

    I get the Sanchez offer, it wasn't about value and at best it was fair value considering his age and future projection -- all I'm saying is it isn't a deal where you have a chance to gain surpllus value. What you're getting is a good pitcher at a price that is either fair value or an overpay, depending on who you ask, but I dont think you'll find many people who'll say that this was good value.

  • Funny stuff by Olney, states alot of misremembering in regards to the Sanchez negotiations, back handed slap to Nightengale's face ? lol. Agent used the Cubs and Nightengale and I hope Theo and Jed have horses memories too. i would go after Liriano personally , a buy low power lefty .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Liriano fits in terms of age and that potential to add substantial value if he succeeds. Definitely an upside type buy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What do you think Liriano's worth in contract terms?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I would have said something similar to Scott Baker, but market is changing. May have to give him an extra year (2/10M-12M) might be the best you can do.

  • Gene Mato....clients includes Manny Ramirez & Jose Valverde.............works with the firm of Steinberg & Moorad.......has a house in Coral Gables with a 40 foot yacht in the back on the water......I sure hope Theo got a ride on Mato's yacht when he was there......no matter what, Mato gave the Cubs a ride.......

    next time Theo has a deal, and the agent and his client are shopping around for a higher deal....pull the offer off the table.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Part of me wanted me to see them pull the offer off the table and force the agent to take the Tigers original offer.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Me again John. Do you think It might be a good idea to just wait until the FA's come to us. I mean what baseball player would not want to be here.

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    Jon Heyman is reporting that Rick Porcello is now tradebait. Any chance the Cubs called the Tigers to congratulate them on Sanchez and inquire on Porcello? Seems to me Marmol fits perfectly, considering the Tigers might be going with a rookie closer.

  • In reply to Greg Cochara:

    I think they owe us one :) Not really. Cubs made them pay more than what they wanted to pay.

    At any rate, I do hope they inquire on Porcello. Seems like a logical trade but it may take a bit more than Marmol.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If we would throw in Darwin Barney do you think we could get an additional prospect along the lines of a Tyler Collins? I would gladly do Marmol and Barney for Nick Castellanos as well. :-)

  • In reply to Greg Cochara:

    I don't think they want Barney. They have Infante. Maybe another arm, but they're in win-now mode.

  • In reply to Greg Cochara:

    Im sure that is a match & would love to see it happen, but Heyman also mentions a Porcello for Hanrahan swap.

    If that interests the Pirates, Im sure we lose out on that potential deal as well. Its a choice of either a more reliable closer in Hanrahan making $4mm or the ready-to-implode-on-a-dime Marmol making $10mm.

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    In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Cubs could add money to take away that part of the equation, or even move it in the Cubs' favor. A straight up choice between Hanrahan and Marmol probably favors Hanrahan.

  • I'm not crying over losing Sanchez. He's not worth a 5 year investment in my opinion. Villanueva sounds like the best bet right now on a 1 year deal or 1 plus an option.

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    I think Villanueva is the logical choice here but I can buy an argument for Liriano too.

    The one thing I hesitate with on Liriano is that if Don Cooper couldn't fix him, there's probably not many others that can.

    Villanueva would be the least glamorous now but probably the most useful.

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    I'm not totally convinced it's as simple as Mato screwed the Cubs over. We don't know what was said and wasn't. Barring a better offer, Sanchez was probably coming to the Cubs, but Sanchez probably wanted to play for a winner, and that isn't the Cubs right now. He may have wanted Mato to go back to the Tigers to see if they'd beat the offer. It's probable that it was Sanchez and Mato that leaked the Cubs offer to put pressure on the Tigers, but we don't know that they ever gave the Cubs a definitive "yes." To many people want to compare this to the Ryan Dempster to Atlanta saga, and other than it leaked, I'm not seeing it, but the reasons for it leaking are entirely different. Gene Mato's job is to get the best deal for his clients as he possibly can. Sanchez has to do what he perceives to be in his own rational self interest.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Some saying the Cubs caused the Tigers to raise their offer by $32M. That's good work by the agent. I'm sure there was some deception, he's probably a bit of a jerk...but you don't make that kind of money by being a nice guy all the time. You have to be willing to screw people over sometimes. As the saying goes, it's not personal, it's just business.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    My only question here is what did he say to the Cubs. If he told them "Okay, I just have to confirm with my client," or something like that, then it was pretty underhanded. If he said, "That's a more than generous offer, we'll think about it," then that's just how this is done.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Well, that's the thing Mike. We don't know what was said, and we probably never will, and John, you're right. You don't make that kind of money by being a nice guy all the time, but that also doesn't mean he acted dishonestly either. If anyone is cussing anyone this morning, it's probably Dave Dombrowski cussing Epstein and Hoyer, but then that's the way the game is played, and I'm sure Dombrowski realizes that. As long as the Cubs were never told by Mato or Sanchez that Sanchez was definitely going to be a Cub, there is no deception or dishonesty, and Cubs' fans need to get over it.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    We don't know, and we never will, and I accept that. That's really the way it should be. But Theo does. And the answer to that question will probably impact how Theo deals with him in the future.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh, no doubt, but what bothers me is that everyone just seems to know that he acted dishonestly, when we haven't any evidence of it. It's like Mato mush be bad or evil because Sanchez didn't sign with the Cubs. It's an attitude I hate, but it isn't a shock when all things are considered.

    I'm sure the are some Tigers' fan cussing Mato and the Cubs today like Matos was Scott Boras as well, but this isn't anything like that either.

    What Scott Boras does is blatantly dishonest, and his clients sometimes pay for that dishonesty, but there is no mystery team here, a common Boras tactic. It also doesn't appear that Mato went around Dombrowski and directly to Ilithc as Boras so often does.

  • Got a tweet from Kaplan about the cubs getting olt and 2 other prospects for Garza before he got hurt. This front office is really seeing what Lou meant by cubbie occurrence. Man this is getting depressing. But thats the life of being a cubs fan. We always seem to be let down.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    Things have just got to break the Cubs way sooner or later. This can't keep happening.

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    In reply to Joshnk24:

    It's easy to get down about stuff like that, but we did get Vizcaino for Maholm last year. We managed to grab Soler just before the Dodgers new ownership came to town -- which may have made that impossible. We signed Baker and Feldman to reasonable, flippable deals before the market lost its collective mind. We can focus on the disasters or we can embrace the very real things that have gone right. There have been a lot of them.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    Are you @joshkeeley? I like to follow readers/contributors here but I don't always make the connection.

    Let me know...

    And if there are others out there I'm not following, let me know too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep that's me john! Give me a follow! Are heading to spring training this year?

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    There is a real question here: what does this do to the Tigers ability to re-sign Verlander. There's an outside chance we lost the battle but won the war here.

    I'm optimistic -- this front office is relentlessly putting together a young core that can win.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good point Mike! We may be glad that we didn't sing Sanchez because something better might come along, but Verlander won't be a FA until after the 2014 season. By that time he will be on the wrong side of 30. He'd be 32 on opening day of the 2015 season. He might not be a good investment at that point.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Even at 32, if Verlander stays healthy he will command a Hamilton-like $25 million a year. Maybe even more.

    Got money? Cuz that's what it's gonna take...

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    For a couple hours yesterday we were left to dream about having a front 3 that compared with any in NL Central. Now that Theo/Jed showed their hand, we can not demand they spend the same amount f money, just to spend it. Sanchez was a worthy investment who would still be relevant in years 4 and 5 of the deal.
    Liriano and Villanueva make sense, but nowhere near those years and money.

  • Count me in as being a little relieved the Cubs did not break the bank for Sanchez. That's the kind of big money signing you do when your close to contending and the Cubs aren't there yet

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Agree. The Cubs should know what they have before they overpay for what they need.

  • Supposedly, the Cubs made an offer to Liriano. They might still be interested. It wouldn't surprise me to see them go after Jackson and talk to the Tigers about Porcello.

  • I am Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski....the Cubs just cost me more for Sanchez....you think I am going to trade with you now?.....Tigers have many teams after Porcello........Mets, Pirates, Cardinals to name a few.....

    And if I am Jackson' agent...I am looking at the Cubs $75 million offer to Sanchez.......

    Angels front office always do their business behind close doors......Pujols signing and Hamilton signing was secret......

    Cubs Front Office need to put a lid on these rumors......Garza, Dempster, Marmol and now Sanchez.....if it is the agents who leek these deals that fall apart, then blame them.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    The Cubs didn't cost him anything, Sanchez and his agent did. Cubs were just trying to pick up a player and as far as they were concerned they made the best offer just to have Sanchez and his agent use it as leverage.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    To think that all these failed deals is because the Cubs FO leaked the details is what too many "Cub fans" on the other lame sites post...not what most posters here think.
    Theo's FO has the opposite reputation among writers covering the team- they're too secretive and unwilling to comment.
    Dombrowski isn't that naive either. He knows how the agents work and if he's upset with anyone, I doubt if it's the Cubs.
    The agent did his job, regardless of methods, to get his client the most he possibly could. To suggest this will prevent future deals between the teams is ridiculous.
    No teams can control social media, agents or players from commenting. The Cubs dealings are closely examined because they're the Cubs and everyone wants to analyze Theo's actions.
    I'd bet Theo & Jed have a good laugh as they see what crazy speculation any of their work creates!

  • I've been dying to tell this story Oneri Fleita shared at last year's Cubs Convention....

    He says on a scouting trip there was this player who had a cannon of an arm but was an okay hitting right fielder. No team really wanted to sign him because of his hitting. So Oneri went up to him and asked him to throw a couple of balls off the mound. He refused. He begged him to just throw a few so he could just report back to the team how well his arm was. Again he refused claiming he's not a pitcher but a right fielder who will make it to the big leagues. Oneri walked away without ever seeing him throw a pitch off the mound. A couple of weeks, maybe even months later it came out that the Twins signed this player to $500k signing bonus as a pitcher. That player of course being Francisco Liriano.

    I vote for Liriano because of his flaming throwing ability. His numbers were awesome when he got into the league but after his injury he walked too many batters. I have confidence in Bosio to turn him around. Plus wasn't Bosio a really good lefty?

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Cool story. Thanks for sharing that!

    Bosio was a righty and a very different pitcher than Liriano, but that doesn't mean he cant help him. I'm sure if Bosio was lefty with a 95 mph fastball and a plus slider,he'd know exactly what to do with it.

  • Hey John, you say Kyle Loshe wouldn't really be a fit for the Cubs, but isn't he looking for a deal similar to Dempster's? I'd be OK if we get him for 2 years, not more than that.

    I like Edwin Jackson and he could be an option, but he also has risks if you sign him for 5 years... He has a career era of 4.40 and even though his career FIP is 3.93, that still doesn't shout as more than a #3-4 starter, so giving him a long term deal based on potential and projection more than results is risking, specially when the team is rebuilding.

    Liriano has good upside, but is risky too and less reliable than the previous 2, I'm not entirely sure the FO would get this guy (but again, I was sure the Cubs weren't going to go after Anibal Sanchez) because he has struggled at commanding the zone, which is an area that Epstein said they wanted to focus on (commanding the strike zone when pitching and hitting).

    My bet (IMHO) would be more on guys like Marcum, Villanueva, Saunders and even fallback options or fliers like Karstens, Jurrjens and Lannan. Other options, but not likely, Edwin Jackson and Kyle Loshe... Liriano, to me, would be a flier without a guaranteed spot in the rotation, with a possibility of becoming a pen arm, specially now that Beliveau was DFA'd.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I think at their reported asking prices both EJax and Lohse are overvalued. Makes sense overpaying a little only if you think that guy is a core piece, as the Cubs thought Sanchez could have been. That's not the case with either of those two. It's one thing if you get them on a good deal, quite another to overpay for a guy who you're not enamored with just to sign someone.

    I agree with you on Villanueva. Marcum too if you think he's going to be healthy and ready to help you from day one.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good point, makes a lot of sense... Maybe this bidding war will help the Cubs get other FA's when they realize the Cubs are not planning on rebuilding with an strict low payroll.

  • John, I think this contract may well end up looking like a bargain in a few years. When you evaluate the contract, don't you need to take into account the trajectory of salaries for good SP's? They are going up. By 2015 the Cubs may well wish they had gone up to $85M. Having lost out, though, I would take that money now directly to Matt Garza. People who think they'll get Olt or anyone similar for him are dreaming.

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    I would very much enjoy reading your posts on the following ? In your opinion when is that you think the Cubs will begin to contend in the Central and then the entire Major League? I'm thinking we will start to be taken seriously and in 2015 no team will want to face us. I have been a fan 45 years and I feel good about whats going on. It would be nice to read about your thoughts.

  • In reply to RClax3:

    I'm thinking that this season could (or should) go a couple of ways - depending on how the rest of Winter/Spring moves play out.

    2013 - probably about 0.400 - 0.450 winning percentage through the mid-season trading deadline,... and during the season (or at the deadline) some subset of Soriano, DeJesus, Garza, Marmol, Stewart, and one of Feldman/Baker gets moved. After the move,... 0.400 ball for the rest of the season at best while the youngsters get more playing time. ~ 71 - 91 W:L for the season.

    2014 - Youth movement in full force as the youngsters start taking a leading role. 1-2 bigger money FAs are hired to start to address holes (like a #1 Starting pitcher). Team will show flashes of being very good - with streches of stinking up the place. Probably about 0.500 record, perhaps starting to accelerate towards the end of the season - but not enough to make a serious playoff run.

    2015 - Youth gets established, another 1-2 FAs are hired to cover holes, and the team is finally ready to make a serious run at a playoff spot. Hopefully - a trend that continues for years like the 1980s-1990s Atlanta teams.

  • In reply to RClax3:

    Thanks RClax...I think 2015 is a realistic target date. I'm going to have to think about how I want to write that. It's a good idea.

  • I'm fine with losing out on Sanchez. Not because he wouldn't have been a great addition to the team or even a great move by the front office. But I think you have to miss on some of these deals sometimes too, otherwise you end up making desperate face saving contracts to lure players to your team with NTC extra years, back loaded salaries and on and on. The cubs are still shedding the remaining contracts from those types of over reaching bone headed deals. Let the tigers over pay to keep their own guy, Cubs still have the ability to go after other players on their terms, and they are showing they have a clear idea of who they want to get, not just who ever they can snag. The main thing may be that they are going to be ready to spend now on pitching that can help them in the near term.

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    I'm glad the FO knew to pull out of this deal instead of just throwing cash at him to get him to sign. Would have loved it if they would have pulled the offer the second they heard that they went back to Det looking for more.

    As for now, I would like to see them go after Liriano and see Bosio can help him get back his pre-injury command.

  • Some wack job in Conn . just shot up an elementery school at least 20 dead including a bunch of kids, makes baseball just not seem too important.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    The World is ""F" up....very sad.....

    I always see Bulls Noah do his pistol shooting act when he scores....time for that to stop....NBA needs to clamp down on that act.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Just horrible news. I have a pit in my stomach just thinking about it. What a sick, selfish act. My heart goes out to everyone at that school and their families.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My cousin's son goes to that school. He is thankfully okay, words just can't describe...

    I hugged my kids after school today.

    Yes, baseball is not so important. But thank you for such a wonderful site, John, I check in every few hours. Its so important to have something to help escape from the everyday world.

  • I'm happy they had the financial discipline to not overbid. The guy obviously really wanted to play for Detroit, so if his heart is really not in it, what is the point? Perspective, he is a solid #3, borderline #2 starter. Who has never pitched more than 196 innings in a season. Clemens he is not.
    Find another guy boys, and they will.

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    This I agree with. Sanchez is a good pitcher, but that is it. He is a good pitcher, not great. Sure it would have been great to have him, but if it meant Garza or Sanchez, I would choose Garza. 15 million a year for a good pitcher is a lot of money. I'll just wait for Vizciano to come up and become an ace :)

  • Agreed. I understand the bid and the need to add long term pieces, and Sanchez had a great chance to be that. But at some point you have to have perspective. He's a good pitcher but you have to step back and decide when it's just not worth it.

  • I'd still prefer them to go the cautious FA route. I don't want to trade for anyone unless the Cubs are just sending spare parts in return, and my assumption is Detroit would demand something valuable for Porcello.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    If it's not Marmol, money, and maybe a minor piece, I'll pass. They're interested in Hanrahan, who was worse than Marmol last year, so maybe Cubs can beat that too.

  • Even if, and I did say if, the Cub FO drove up the final price that Detroit paid to retain Snachez, the troublesome aspect to this deal is that it raises the price for every starter out there for now and into the forseeable future.

    I do not like it one bit, as it continues to drive the cost of being a fan higher each time a signing sets the bar higher.

    Will there be no end to the excess spending for pro sports?

    As a long time fan, I grow more and more disillusioned about the direction the game is taking.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    I think we can thank the new CBA for exacerbating the situation in free agency. Too much money and nowhere else to spend it.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    Player salaries are not the cause of high ticket prices. Blame demand.
    http://money.cnn.com/2006/04/14/commentary/column_sportsbiz/column_sportsbiz/

  • I'm glad the tigers won the bidding on sanchez. 16 a year for him was too much. I was comfortable with 15, but i agree we wouldnt be in a position to receive a lot of surplus value at that point either. I think it was smart of the cubs to go after him though, hes a #2, #3 starter depending upon the day and he wouldnt cost us a draft pick. I think t/j should go after another guy like that in Edwin Jackson. He wouldn't cost a draft pick and has #2 upside. I think anymore than 3 garunteed years is too much, however i'd be willing to attach a team option or two. i wouldnt be upset if we ended up with a lesser pitcher who we would be trying to flip at the deadline, but i like the idea of getting a guy who could possibly be in chicago contributing when the cubs become competitive, without costing us a draft pick.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    It was a lot for Sanchez either way. Doesnt look like Jackson is going to be a whole lot cheaper. I think the Cubs scale down now and go for value instead.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i agree that they will scale down and i dont think jacksons gonna be much cheaper, and if thats the case then the cubs should gladly pass. i think an important thing to note about this situation is that the cubs will be monitoring other teams trades pretty closely. The cubs value the draft more than a lot of other teams and will probably look at free agents, especially pitchers, in the future who are in the last year of their deals and traded at mid season. Obviously i dont expect the draft pick compensation to stop them from signing a guy theyre in love with, but if kershaw and price (2 guys of similar value) are both free agents and one has draft pick compensation attached i expect them to go after the one who doesnt the hardest.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I see Jackson getting 14.5 million annually at the most. We'll see if any team offers that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Why scale down? Why not take that $75 mil and give to the next best/closest thing? Why not still take the step a Sanchez signing meant? The As need "value." I'm not suggesting we sign older FA. But I am suggesting we sign long term asset FAs, who don't cost us draft pick, who don't cost some other asset short or long, and who won't block our young studs when they're ready in a year or two. Maybe that FA aint there, but I would rather see them spend money instead of trading away any assets to get that one more #1, 2 or 3 SP we need to really take a big step forward this year.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    I think the problem is that there's no clear equivalent to Sanchez out there. Jackson is closest, but he's not as good a pitcher as Sanchez. I wouldn't mind offering him a shorter deal, but no way I go five years on Jackson. That's too many years for most pitchers imo.

  • Dombrowski is perhaps the smartest executive in baseball. Even if he really thought that the Cubs forced upwards the price of Sanchez, he wouldn't be stupid enough to refuse to make a useful trade with them just out of spite.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Agreed. If Tigers have a chance to improve team, they're not going to worry about the Cubs bid for Sanchez.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    Exactly. He may actually be the smartest. Def in the top 5, but it doesn't hurt that he has an owner who isn't scared to spend money even if the deal backfires. Got to admire that.

  • John, do you think Theo surprising the MLB world as finalist for Anibal Sanchez was an attempt to have 1 piece in place to spend more NEXT offseason? Cause I'll find it hard to believe that he will not be linked to Ellsbury and Lester next year.

    Also, if Dickey gets traded to the Blue Jays, like Jon Heyman expects, then that's 1 destination less for guys like Marcum and Edwin Jackson, both have been linked to the Blue Jays.

  • John's story last night, when we thought we'd get Sanchez, sparked real excitement, with John noting how we might have one the best starting staffs in the NL: Garza, Shark, Sanchez, Baker and Feldman. Add to that a potential back end bullpen with Marmol and Fuji and, holy smokes, we're competitive NOW.

    So I don't care if it was 15 or 16 mil a year. Would've been great to have him.

    But now the idea of trading Marmol for Porcello, weaking our bullpen to get a lesser SP and all this continuing talk of trading short term assets for long term assets drives me nuts. We ARE NOT THE As who have to figure out how to do it on the cheap. Sign the FA long term assets. NOW. Let's Go. No need to wait for 2015. We've got the core and guys like Jackson could in fact explode on the scene next year and we can in fact be competitive. No need to wait. Let's go. And stop the analysis that says we've gotta wait.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    IMO, if we can learn to be like the A's and figure out how to win without spending the big money, PLUS having the financial flexibility of a large market team... We could be looking at a monster run for many years, Rangers and Nats come to mind, plus, to an extent, the Red Sox.

    That said, I liked the idea of having Sanchez, but I don't think he ever intended to play for the Cubs, it was all part of a strategy to get the Tigers to offer more... After all, he went from 4 years, 48 mil to 5 years/80 mil.

    It would've been great to get Sanchez, but perhaps, as a rebuilding team, it was not in the Cubs' best interest to keep bidding to a point where you create a problem with his contract and flexibility to move him.

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    In reply to Caps:

    A's have to be bad for over a 1/2 decade to accumulate picks and players to be where they are now. That Nats needed b2b #1 picks and hit HR's on both of them to go w all the other picks they had. So no, I don't think we should learn or model our franchises like them,

    I am not in love w Sanchez either, but I def think he makes this team much better next year and the next year and the next year.

    Cubs needs to spend some money this offseason on some long term assets. By contrary belief, they are not going to spend almost 400 million like the (Angels 2011) in the one offseason of the 2013 or 2014 season.

    They need to sign/trade/develop 3-4 assets each and every year!

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    By them try to go for Sanchez it seems to me like they tried to sign an asset they can have for several years... But they cannot force him to join the Cubs, that said, I understand where you're coming from, but if the Cubs were to sacrifice a couple of years to become like the Nats, then by all means, do it.

    We can also keep spending money and limiting our flexibility and live in mediocrity for several years like the Cubs' previous model... For me, it's not about spending money just to spend, but how you spend it, if you bring 2 big names to have a team with a .450 record and then get stuck with their contracts, not able to trade them, then it is not worth it.

    We can always agree to disagree in some points, but I do think you're making good ones.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    Exactly. Too many people lose sight of the fact that this team has the assets, the brains, and the support of the fans to do both.

    Nobody is saying we need to build a team to compete for the WS next year, but we should field a team thats competitive enough that if we get some break through seasons from a couple players and a little luck that could be competitive enough to be taken seriously.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Amen to that, Jim. I believe Castro and Rizzo can have monster years this years. I believe Barney can add 20-30 point to his OBA. I love the Schierholtz move. W. Castillo can and should bring some pop. And if Stewart can stay healthy and be at 25 HRs, 85-90 RBI (ok lots of ifs there), a Sanchez type signing can really propel us to a fun summer THIS YEAR. And what if Jackson's re-worked swing leads to him being a Rizzo-type call up in May or June, and Sappelt really can perform as he showed late last year for a whole season, and, and, and what if . . . .

    Man, I'm was so excited when I read John's Wow! Wow! Wow! story last night. But, alas, . . .

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    You and me both. Now we have to deal w little more humiliation today unless of course your surrounded only by cubs fans in your life.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    The goal has always been to acquire long term assets. If the Sanchez deal had gone through, it wasn't about winning next year -- it was about adding a long term asset who could have helped for the next five.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactly. Sanchez was about competing in 2014 when more pieces fall into place. For next year he does not transform us into contenders.

    I understand the impatience Jim and Nondorf are putting out there, but we're not the A's. We're trying to draft and develop like the A's while playing the market like, maybe, the Cardinals. So we're not going crazy on free agents, because that means a few competitive years followed by several years crippled by bad contracts. Theo did that in Boston. They get good value from their system, but it's not enough to make up for too many overpriced free agents. There's a balancing act Jed/Theo are trying to do between a strong system and just enough from free agency to shore up weaknesses.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Don't be naive to think they weren't thinking about trying to put a better product on the field next year w the signing of another top starter, and perhaps w some breaks make a run for a wild card as well as give the fan base a bone and make wrigley field the #1 destination in the Chicagoland area in the summer.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    There's a way to test that -- if they go out and sign a different starter and a right fielder to a multi-year deal.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Your right about that, but will they? I really think Sanchez was the only guy they really liked and were willing to go more then a year on.

    Hope I am dead wrong

  • Just got here. I give Theo credit for not overacting and signing
    anybody to a big bad contract today. We dont want players who
    just want to be here for the money. There are jobs to win and may
    the best player get it. Giving big, and long, contracts to the wrong
    player a bad practice to start.

  • The more that I think about it , the more I like the idea of locking down Santana, for < money and years than Sanchez would've required.

    What's the guess on what it would cost.

    The facts that he really seems to be healthy- see improved velocity- and is left-handed are the main sources of appeal for me.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Are you talking about the singer?

  • I'm late to the party, but bummer we lost out on Sanchez. This is what I was talking about in that other thread though - these kind of big money signings aren't inherently mutually exclusive with a rebuild. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don't. Can't expect all free agents the FO is targeting to pop up the offseason right before we're "expected" to compete.

    It was rumored (hopefully not by Nightengale, can't remember) that we were going after Sanchez AND Villanueva. Hope that still holds true with Jackson or maybe Marcum.

  • Gentlemen, lets not keep getting ahead of our skies everytime a rumor or legitimate offer is leaked. Don't get too high on the possibility of a new acquisition until he ACTUALLY SIGNS. This behavior will do wonders for you blood pressure and temperment.
    Over & Out

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