Rebuilding Emotion

If you choose to laugh, like me, the 2013 Cubs figure to provide plenty of fodder. Instead of getting worked up over poor fundamentals, bad defense and simple inadequacies, chalk it up to the ongoing pains of rebuilding.

Trust me, it’s easier that way.

Take this past weekend’s four game series loss to the Giants, for example. It had all the makings of a classically difficult Cubs series.

Thursday’s game saw them squander a five run lead, spurred by Starlin Castro allowing a routine ground ball–hit by pitcher Ryan Vogelsong–through his legs. Friday, new closer Kyuji Fujikawa surrendered three runs in the 9th inning in just his third save situation, and then revealed he was injured.  Saturday, Anthony Rizzo failed to get in position to take a cut off throw in the 7th inning, allowing Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner to score the decisive third run without a throw to the plate.  Steve Clevenger’s game ending strike out landed him on the 60-day disabled list with a left oblique muscle strain.

And Sunday’s game was just your standard give-up-a-home-run-when-you’re-one-strike-away-from-winning, with your third closer, and then balk in the winning run in the next inning.

I decided to put the Benny Hill theme on in the background after the final out Sunday. It seemed like an appropriate ending to a four-day whirlwind of pain.

Last season, it was understood the Cubs wouldn’t compete. It was Theo Epstein’s first year at the helm after inheriting a woeful ball club that lost 91 games in 2011—Jim Hendry’s final year as general manager.  That group dropped 101 games and spent the latter half of the year watching prospects from Hendry’s regime struggle at the major league level.

Expectations remain low.  Epstein has spent as much time revamping the front office as he has signing international free agents and acquiring ancillary players for the major league roster.  He has stressed patience, and Cubs fans have adjusted.  They changed their outlook and rallied behind the farm system.  The hope is that one day, these players will carry the team to success never consistently seen at Wrigley Field.

But at what point do those pains of rebuilding take on a more serious tone?

Judging from the first two weeks of the 2013 season, the Cubs remain far from competing.  Epstein has said it may take until 2015 for this team to turn the corner.  But at this point, there seem to be less than a handful of players on the current roster that will definitely be here for the eventual turnaround.

The longer this team continues to struggle on the major league level, the more pressure it places on prospects and other unproven commodities to validate Epstein, his management team, and themselves.

The more 90+ loss seasons fans endure, the greater the hunger for the eventual payoff of a playoff team—or World Series champion—grows.

I have long said that Cubs fans have no choice but to place their faith in Epstein’s plan.  He is the most impressive baseball executive this franchise has ever had.  But the longer the team fails where it counts, the more the pressure mounts.  If the Cubs lose more than 90 games in each of the next two seasons, wouldn't it make the 2015 season a make or break season for the organization’s future?

At some point soon, the Cubs must show significant organizational progress on the major league level.  If not, they could be setting themselves up for insurmountable pressure and expectation with players who may not be ready for it.

In the short term, several things need to take place.  Anthony Rizzo could break out with an impressive 2013 season, his first full season as a Cub.  Starlin Castro must significantly improve his defense.  Jeff Samardzija can take the next step towards becoming a viable and valuable number two starter.

In the longer term, it means the team must acquire more substantial talent, not only in the draft but in free agency between this year and next, to show fans there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.

Cubs fans will remain on board for now, because the franchise can continue to sell them hope.  But that support will be gone if, by September of 2014, we’re still talking about a team whose stock hasn’t risen.

You’ll be calling the post-game shows calling for a regime change. I’ll be questioning the direction of the team. And nobody will be laughing.


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  • The Cubs need more impact players. They should have signed all these players to rebuild and keep us older fans with a hope.
    Hyuni-Jin Ryu
    Did they or did they not have the money to sign these players?

  • In reply to robertxyz:

    I know they were in on all of them and put some pretty good bids in, bids that would have won in other years, probably. But some of it went pretty high as win-now teams were willing to vastly overpay to get a player to help them now. And in the case of Cespedes, they gave him a unique contract which involved them giving up cost control and probably lose him to free agency in a couple of years.

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    gotta say, after sunday's loss I'm pretty deflated. I had been hoping that we had a foundation in place that we didn't have to worry about any more - rizzo, castro, smarj, baez and soler possibly a year and a half away. I was hoping we could wind them up and let them do their stuff, and start looking for other pieces to build on that foundation. But it seems even those "core pieces" are shakier than we thought - Rizzo looking like the Rizzo of 2011, Castro making no progress in cutting down his errors, Baez struggling in the minors, Soler going the full Zambrano. And I simply don't share the faith in the untested manager - he may speak the same language as the players, but he already seems to be dazed and out of answers (it took Piniella 3 years to get that shell-shocked look in the postgame presser) and I don't see any progress in the way the team plays the fundamentals. And then, to see Hoyer signing Kevin Gregg and Kam Loe? Are we already scraping the bottom of the barrel, 2 weeks into the season? Are we THAT desperate? Very depressing not to be able to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I don't if it's out of answers so much as having to answer the same insipid questions everyday when everyone knows they are trying to rebuild and there are going to be bumps in the road.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Same old questions stem from same old execution, or lack of. I think the reporters aren't looking for a silk purse out of this pig, they're asking - as we all are - what is the concrete plan for incremental improvement. I haven't seen any answer other than, well, these guys are pros, they have to step it up. Or excuses - give credit to the other team, our guy made a mistake and they took advantage. End of story, next question, next canned answer.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    So asking questions about the same old shortcomings is going to magically transform an undermanned team? Is asking them over and over again going to conjure up new answers that have never been tried in the game of baseball before?

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    They tried to sign almost all those players.

    I believe they were outbid by only 1 team for both Cespedes and Darvish.

    Do you honestly expect them to just bid outrageously over-market offers to make sure they acquire those players, even though all of them came with MAJOR question marks?

    They gave 30 million to a 19 year old. I think that's a pretty good sign they're serious.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    oops that was mean as a reply for robertxyz

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Agreed, they were in on those and thought Darvish would have been great fit.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    And actually, IIRC, the only thing that lost that Cespedes is that he was insisting on a 3-4 year deal, so he'd be in line for a big pay raise just a few years after signing.

    The Cubs didn't want to corner themselves and like Soler more anyway.

  • Most teams rebuild at any given point. Some succeed according to plan. Some take longer. Some never get there. So, there's no guarantee. However, look at the steps taken so far and compare that to any Cubs ownership over the last 80 years. Going after the best prospects in the draft and signing them. Aggressive pursuit of international players. A facility in the D.R. A commitment to player development.

    I honestly could not care less how bad the Chicago boys look right now, much less if the last 3 weeks' performance is a barometer of the full 2013 season. In 3-4 years, who is going to remember half the guys on the current squad anyway?

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Agreed - although this year's team is kind of a cardiac arrest waiting to happen most games - in my more optimistic moments I had figrued we would be consistent enough to snag a 70-75 wins anyway.

    Not as convinced now between injuries, a more erratic bullpen than I figured, and a 'unique' ability to fine ways to consistently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory have all intersected that 70 is a realistic number of wins.

    That being said - there are things I like about this team. They don't appear to generally roll over and die when behind. They have had a couple of games where they cobbled together a decent number of runs later in the game,.... even IF their bullpen imploded at the end to blow it.

    And if/when Jackson & Lake make an appearance,... and if/when Vizciano shows, Barney & Stewart are finally healthy(ish),... and if they generally don't 'panic' as management,... they should still be interesting to watch.

    But - realistically - it is going to be to 2015 (or late 2014 at the earliest) before we see how good (or bad) Theo's rebuild has been.

  • Yeah wasn't Soler the highest rated Cuban prospect out of him, Puig, and Cespedes?

    Anyways, FA's are sort of like the games themselves, you're not going to win them all.

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    I'm very curious what the logic is behind holding Torreyes out of the lineup tonight.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It is disappointing. He's been red-hot. Hope he's not hurt or anything.

  • There's still 150 games left.... Way too early to claim Rizzo is 2011 Rizzo, or that Castro hasn't improved (he missed most of ST), etc...

    I'll wait til mid-late may before announcing we suck.... But realistically, never thought they were a contender this year....

  • Guys we have to look at were the org. was when theo and company got there. The major league team was at best a fourth place team with over one hundred million dollar into it. You had no farm system, the facilities in the major leagues are bad, minor league and dominican facilities were out dated. It took years of of being abandoned for these things to get like this, Its going to take more than two years for it to be better. And we can't forget year two is two weeks old.

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    In reply to seankl:

    Exactly, agree on all counts Seankl.

  • Things to do
    1) Be very agressive in the draft
    2) "" "" internatiional signings
    3) Either sign Garza long term or trade him with a top prospect
    in a big trade in July
    4) After the season sign a great/good young FA to big bucks

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    There are no great, young FA to sign. All the impact guys are past their prime or will be there halfway through the contract. We can't/shouldn't do things like that anymore and Young/impact guys are getting locked up.

    All the more reason to develop your own studs, like the Giants.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Garza will be elsewhere in 2014.

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    Welcome Jordan, Good article. I really look forward to reading and listening to you in tandem with the "other guys" trio.

    Only things that kind of stuck out for me was 1. the notion that Starlin has to improve significantly on defense. Problem being, for all but 2 months last year he was above average and in this short season he has shown to be one of the best shortstops in the league despite the errors.

    He makes plays on balls most SS can't even get to, has a strong, accurate arm, has dramatically improved his footwork in all phases, has superior range, etc. He's above-average at this point so "Improving significantly" would mean we would need to be Omar Vizquel out there and I don't think that's fair to ask of him, errors aside he's been amazing this year. I think the word should have been he needs to "focus on every at-bat, every pitch, every inning" with an emphasis on focus.

    2. You say the Cubs need to add substantial talent in FA this year and next but that's easier said than done. Look at the top FA this year. The only "impact" guys 28 and younger will be oft-injured Phil Hughes and Matt Garza. Everyone else you'll be paying prime dollar for past performance. The same kind of contracts that got us into this mess. 2015 looks somewhat better but still no young studs that you can feel comfortable giving long-term deals to.

    If were going to build a contender it's going to have to be through the farm. We realize it and every other team in baseball is starting to realize it. Stars under 28 will no longer make it to FA. Relying on FA as a means to acquire talent has proven just as unreliable as relying on the farm if not moreso because of the financial investments. Look at the Giants roster. The core is homegrown, no Soriano-type albatross contracts, no trading 3 top prospects for one guy, etc and they are on the midst of a dynasty.

    Lets try their formula. We've already proven that trying to skip steps and improve the major league club without building the farm doesn't work.

  • Oh how I love the Giants. There are always org I like to emulate but they are up there in NL.

  • "He is the most impressive baseball executive this franchise has ever had."

    Sorry, but Dallas Green was the most impressive front office man to ever grace the Cubs. He has actually proven he can build a team from nothing into a contender. I like Theo but Dallas was well on the way to building the Cubs into a perennial winner heading into the '90s before the Tribune company's incompentence drove him out...

  • In reply to Northside Neuman:

    I have written about Dallas Green in just that fashion. I will repost it here one day soon.

  • Young is a relative term (not over 33)

  • I can't wait to read that. Soon please!

  • In reply to plymkr:

    Cool however I do think Theo will be able to follow through on what Dallas wanted to do.,

  • Well, I stand firm in my optimism for the future. But I have understood for well over a year now that the future is no sooner than 2015.

    Of course there is only a handful (or less) of players on the current team that will be on that 2015 team. I understood that long before the season began.

    Yes, it sucked to lose three out of four in the series with the Giants. But two of those losses were by one run and the third went extra innings. So with all the questionable roster spots and the many errors of execution and judgement, the Cubs gave the reigning World Series champion a good series. I found the whole thing fun and entertaining.

    The Cubs did get swept by the Braves, but given that the Braves are 11-1, the question is: Who didn't?!"

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel is long and the light is still rather small. Take a closer look.

    In the meantime, lower your expectations, don't buy into statements from the Cubs that they are trying to win now, and enjoy watching these youngsters grow into the game. And do not expect to see improvement over two weeks.

    Finally, remember that the goal is to build an organization that will contend year after year after year, so that one of those years they are bound to win it all. It is not being built to win the World Series in 2015 or 2016. It happens when it happens. That's all anyone can say.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    I look at the Cubs much as I look at the minor league affiliates. Ignore the result and watch the development of a few key players. Though I must say, I hope we don't have to do that too much longer.....

    As a STH since 2003, I'll need to see improvement next year and a competitive squad by 2015 to stay so. I think Ricketts understands that, I just hope the FO can deliver.

  • This is why I hope Appel falls to us at #2. He is someone who could be in the rotation come July of 2014.

    You could be looking at Samardzija, Garza, Jackson, Appel, Vizcaino as your Top 6 starters. Wood and Villanueva in the bull pen or as trade bait. Solid group of starters with age, experience and youth.

    Bullpen of Rondon, Bowden, Russell and Fuji with young arms or FA's to fill holes.

    You could trade Garza or Wood but only for talent that is ready to play at the MLB level. Not an "A" or "A+" guy.

    The offense is still weak as Soler and Baez are still a ways away, but at least the pitching could really be taking shape.

  • There are perpetually too many dead horses being beaten about this.

    In the words of Lou Piniella, "Look..."

    We have a surge of talent coming, but it's still on the lower levels. That surge starts to arrive perhaps as early as next year, and it looks to have depth. Waves and waves. If the first new member of that surge arrives at Wrigley in 2014 as a raw rookie talent, just exactly when does the surge begin to attain its fullest strength? Wouldn't you guess NO EARLIER than 2015?

    Our best chance of success is to pair our smartest big-spending with the beginning of the youth surge led by Soler and Baez and hopefully an ace pitcher or two. This will ensure that we have a better chance at dominance, rather than a piecemeal cobbling together of parts that don't all match up at the right time.

    I can't be too sad about missing out on Yu or Ryu or Puig or Cespedes. At least we landed Soler, right?

    We're a couple years from that big push, and timing is everything. 2014-2016 will show us two things - our biggest holes, and the next round of available talent to acquire, which is likely to always be as strong as the talent available in just about any three-year span.

    I like our chances ... later! We're SO far from winning right now. This offense is scraping bottom, while this rotation is just average. It needs a LOT more runs to scratch out wins. We need too many parts to fix it, and you have to find more of those parts within an organization. Overspending this early would be foolish, and I am glad they are showing restraint.

  • Expectations are for the foolhardy. I had high hopes with the hiring of Theo. His first decision made me wonder. I see Sveum as a complete bust. These young men are not prepared to play at this level. The field manager is where the buck stops on this issue. Certainly not as a unit, but they aren't showing much ability as individuals I can't divine some obscure strategy that wouild create a wave of positive energy.
    I love to gamble. My circumstances preclude my indulgence. Over decades I have a significant log of anecdotal evidence that in general If I do not start out by breaking out ahgead, I usually don't get hot later. If I have to replenish my initial buy in at 'a '21' table, I am unlikely to gewindup on top. Using these data, I rarely lose very much, because I'm not afraid to quit when I'm behind. I expect not to have to buy chips twice. My evidence is that I almost never get back to even. Contrarily, I always push a hot streak. This administration appears to be doubling down on a cold streak. It isn't working. Locate the drawing board, fellas.

  • I believe that it is too early to start to pushing the panic button. While I don't like the start, we are two weeks into the season. If the slumps persist then I will be worried. But they'll come around it's only April.

  • I think what has been the most frustrating this spring is that we had hoped for individual improments which to date have not happened...
    1. I had hoped to see Castro and Rizzo take the next steps to be elite ballplayers.
    2. We all knew the offense would be weak, but this year I thought we were going to not beat ourselves.
    3. I had hoped to see the top prospects continue to excel at the next level... Almora is hurt, Soler is suspended and Baez has just been struggling.
    4. While I had no allusions that the Cubs were going to be good this year, I had hoped they would improve on last year. Yet half the team is hurt, our bullpen blows chunks and I can't really find a silver lining to say, well I know they aren't playing very well, but at least the Brett Jackson has figured out the strikeout issues...

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    All of what you wrote is right on the money, IBCB. None of what I wanted to see is currently happening. About the only good things are that Shark is showing he's for real thus far and Wood is showing a marked step forward in the early going.

    But the key words in the previous sentence were "thus far" and "in the early going". Shark could still struggle and end the year a disappointment, and Wood could still implode. They've only done what they've done over 2 or 3 starts. And just as the currently positive can revert, the currently negative can turn around.

    So I agree with everything you wrote, I think it's just way too early for any of it to matter...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I agree Quedub. It's still early and I'm holding out hope. Just not a whole lot to hang our hats on at this point. Jackson's strikeouts are probably the most dissapointing. I had hoped the revamped swing was the light switch going off.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    You haven't seen Castro improved at the plate so far? He has been showing me plenty of signs so far. Never going to be elite OBP but he is having solid ABs at times and driving ball.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I have notices an improvement, but at the same time that critical error and striking out on a pitch that started a foot outside at a critical moment in the 9th last week makes it hard for me to get too excited.

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    Hello. They've played 12 games. This is just overboard panic and no better than the media driven frenzy in the local rags. 12 games. They've had a chance to win all but 2 or 3 of those games.

    And what happened to all the optimism of three weeks ago? You are all this fickle? I'm still laughing at the post on a previous thread that suggested trading Starlin Castro for three Toronto scrubs in.uding Deck McGuire, who makes Scott Feldman look like Sandy Koufax.

    Cool your jets. And for those of you punting on an influx of minor league talent, remember that player development counts as much as who they draft. Look at Tampa's system. Who is the last hitter they developed? Evan Longoria.

    And please. Mark Appel is not a savior. Hes not an ace witout proper development and if the Cubs do draft him they won't promote him until he is ready. He isnt Stephen Strasburg. He is not Lucas Giloito, whom I wanted the Cubs to take and who will be tons better, and he's not Justin Verlander. In fact, the Cubs should take Clint Frazier, who is the closest to a cannot miss prospect in this draft as anybody. Here is the scouting report on Mark Appel from National Cross Checker John Klima. Maybe he is wrong, but since 1999 he has been generally right.

    First of all, Mark Appel reminds me of Mark Prior in some ways and Gerrit Cole in others. He’s got the same body, the same frame, the same big lower half, with similarities in his mechanics and delivery that remind me of Prior. Appel is not a consistent quality strike-thrower, which makes him like Cole. I don’t think Appel’s slider is as hard and sharp as Cole’s was in college. I don’t think either guy is terribly loose, athletic or balanced. I think they are both grunters. I think Cole had the better arm. I think they are both 5-inning, 100-pitch, 4.00 ERA-ish Major League starters — great arms with inconsistencies until proven otherwise.

    I keep seeing people putting fat grades on Appel and I think it’s wrong. He’s not an 80 — just because your fastball velocity is an 8 (to say nothing of movement and location) doesn’t mean the whole package is an 8. He’s not a 7, either. Let’s be realistic and fair to the guy. He’s in that 60 range on the low side and 65 on the high side. You might think I’m a strict grader, but it ain’t about projecting his abilities against college boys, it’s about doing it against major league hitters. It may not be as sexy, but it’s still an enormous grade and easily enough to get you popped 1/1.

    I’m not going to get into the specifics, because the truth is that the people who will be signing him don’t care how he does what he does as long as he does it. It used to be about scouting projection, but when it comes to signing guys like this, the business is entirely about scouting performance. The bottom line is your grandma could scout him — he’s a hard thrower, period. He’s a lump of clay. That said, if I’ve got the 1/1, I’ll take a 20-year old college guy over a reportedly 19-year old high school guy all day long, if those are the two choices I have.

    Fastball 94-97 early, comfortable 94-95 with occasional power lapses depending on what his delivery looks like that day. I personally have found his fastball to be mostly straight with about half the downhill plane he really needs to be as dominant in the major leagues as he is in college. He’ll flash late sink and did so more consistently in this look. This was one of my worries in my previous story. He was better in this look and you saw many fewer fastballs starting up in the strike zone.

  • The start of this season has been frustrating because it looks like the Cubs are treading water. The dismal start makes this team look as atrocious as the teams from the last two years (and 2010's team wasn't much better).
    It doesn't seem like the front office added any essential players for this season. They're hard selling hope without noticeable improvement to the big league team, without parallel fronts and sacred seasons being attended to.
    A major market team should have a higher payroll. They should be sparing us .300 baseball while we wait 'for the business side to sync up with the baseball side.' That doesn't sound like parallel fronts to me. We should be watching .500 baseball while we wait for Soler and Baez. The arrival of the A-ball talent should mark a move from .500 baseball to .600 baseball. I'm all for rebuilding but Ricketts needs to fund a team that's better than this while we wait.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Theo recently spoke on the rebuild. He said being around .500 is not the way to go now. We need to save our resources(money) and collect as much talent as we can quickly. And to get the best talent now we have to be bad not average. What you are suggesting will lower the probability of winning the WS anytime soon. Is that what you want?

  • In reply to John57:

    As well, who could the Cubs have added this past off season via F.A.? Not much out there to even help them get to .500. They certainly will not be trading away any of their prospects. That defeats the purpose of stocking your system. I think they added what they could in hopes to show some improvement over last year. A couple of the guys (Lillibridge) will be temporary at best on the team. I am hoping some a Watkins or others show by May or June that they can contribute to the Cubs.

  • The Cubs played two first place teams.
    Did y'all really expect to beat them?

  • In reply to eaton53:

    1 of 3 in Atlanta and a split with the Giants should have been possible.

  • Could've.

    But the Cubs are a young team.
    Young teams make dumb mistakes.
    Good teams take advange of dumb mistakes.
    Cubs play the Rangers next.
    It probably ain't gonna get better.
    When do we play the Marlins?

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    In reply to eaton53:


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    In reply to eaton53:

    Speaking of dumb mistakes, how badly are the Rangers kicking themselves for not moving Mike Olt when they had a chance?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    So would you send them Garza for Olt right now? Olt off to slow start, but that can change in a hurry. Garza still out, but will be back soon.

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    In reply to Wild Bill:

    I wouldn't. John convinced me that Olt for Garza wasn't fair when both are healthy, and I don't like the deal with Olt showing very real contact issues. I'd much rather extend Garza.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes we can hope Garza does revert back to his old self. If so your rotation not that bad. Again if he does, an extention would be in order.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    So Mike Olt is a bum because he had a bad first month of the season?

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    No, definitely not. But if the plan was to use him to acquire pieces to boost this year's team, the numbers -- particularly the almost 50% strikeout rate -- just have to reduce what they are going to get in return.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    The plan was NEVER to trade Garza to acquire pieces to boost THIS year's team.

    Olt was and is a prospect. He finished last year in AA, so even if the deal had gone down in ST if Garza was healthy, he would've spent the year at AAA, and so would Perez.

    Theo and Jed are not trying to win now.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    You misread.

    The Rangers plan was to trade Olt to acquire pieces for this year's team.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Sorry. confused there, but the Rangers were really never going to get more than Garza in return, it was just a matter of how many prospects they'd have to add to Olt to make the deal.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    actually I don't think they are all that young. Granted Castro and Rizzo and Castillo are. Outside of them, the rest of the team have been around. Face it, with guys like Lillibride on the roster, they just are not that good. Hopefully a few of these guys on the 25 man roster will be moved, and I hope the sooner the better.

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    In reply to Wild Bill:

    agreed. Overall, this is a very, very old team. Even Castillo is old, relatively speaking, for a rookie.

    But that's ok. We're looking to move a lot of the older guys for young talent, so I'm looking forward to this team getting very young, very quick.

  • Let us hope that they are getting some of the early season kinks out. Way to early to be to hard on them. Actually I am hoping some good can come of it. With the closer issues, this should open the door for a chance to be provided to Russell. I was confused on Sunday when they went to Camp. I would have thought Russell would have been a better option.

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    Hey Jordan, welcome to the den! Thanks for your thoughts. What's been going on in my mind is I just wanted to see progress this year. I was really hoping to be a bit more competitive than we have shown. What I see right now is a very bad baseball team that just looks lost out there.

    They just expect to lose, even if they are up by 5 runs! There are really no leaders just yet. I kinda understand now why the Royals went after Shields. They needed someone to take that outspoken leadership role. Someone that had that "i'm gonna beat you no matter what" attitude.

    We just don't have that. But it is April so I'm will to see how this long season plays out.....

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