Cubs Q&A with Comcast Sports Net's Patrick Mooney: Resources, Trade candidates, and Draft

We get the chance to talk Cubs with Comcast Sports Net’s Patrick Mooney.  Mooney is doing some great work covering the Cubs and is a favorite of ours.

Included below some of Patrick’s answers are links to his work, covering the topics even further. We talk front office resources, trade candidates, and the draft.

TL: How soon does the Cubs front office start moving players and who goes?

PM: Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will be evaluating the roster throughout the summer and looking to unload short-term assets. But the deadline usually creates momentum, like when an agent and a GM are negotiating over a draft pick right up until the final minute before signing the contract. Reed Johnson said at one point last season he expected to go to Atlanta with Ryan Dempster, but instead wound up with the Braves in the Paul Maholm trade. The Cubs will again be in position to package starting pitching (Scott Feldman?) and outfielders (David DeJesus?). Matt Garza’s health and the possibility of a qualifying offer are X-factors.

TL: How soon could a Wrigley rehab deal affect the baseball budget?

PM: That question hasn’t really been answered yet. The Cubs say it depends on when the renovation deal is finally done, how fast the business side can build and sell revenue packages, as well as the shape the agreement ultimately takes. That is, how much is chipped away from the wish list? This impacts the entire timeline.

The problem is that players like Yu Darvish don’t come along every offseason, and the Cubs didn’t have the financial flexibility to put together the deal it would have taken to land the Japanese star. Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained that their new TV deal is part of the narrative but not the game-changer you’d think. Daniels credited Texas ownership for stretching payroll and spending future revenues now.’t-miss-out-next-yu-darvish

TL: There have been multiple reports (including here) that the front office is miffed at a general lack of resources. How much are they being held back? Or are the public complaints just the front office trying to help secure the rehab deal for ownership?

PM: Epstein has publicly admitted that he thought he’d be able to exploit Chicago’s big-market advantages much faster. He’s also acknowledged that there’s a natural tension between baseball operations and the business side in any organization. The baseball side needs ownership and business operations to deliver. And it can’t be easy for the marketing/sales departments to push a team with little name recognition or star-power. Any frustrations are not necessarily unique, and it doesn’t mean the Cubs are doomed. But it does create a fascinating dynamic as the front office tries to build this team.

TL: Which players on current roster besides Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Jeff Samardzija could be part of a winning team going forward?

PM: That’s what this entire season is all about, trying to separate out the core players. The coaching staff believes Welington Castillo can be a frontline catcher. Darwin Barney needs to turn a corner offensively, and he’s already 27 years old, but the Gold Glove defense/intangibles could make him a keeper. Edwin Jackson and Kyuji Fujikawa were signed to be long-term pieces, but they (obviously) still have something to prove.

TL: Is Castro getting a fair shake from the media and fans?

PM: Eh, yes and no. There aren’t many players in that clubhouse who move the needle, so Starlin Castro inevitably gets most of the attention online, on talk radio and in the newspapers. Cubs managers have also singled him out for criticism. People underestimate how hard it is to make that leap from Double-A kid to .300-hitting All-Star shortstop. But as someone who likes Castro recently put it: It’s time to clean up the mistakes.

This is Year 4 in the big leagues. The guess here is that Castro will raise his game in the heat of the pennant race when he’s surrounded by a better supporting cast (or part of the supporting cast and not ‘The Man’).

TL: Where do you see Cubs going with 2nd pick in amateur draft?

PM: The understanding is that it will be a college pitcher, either Stanford’s Mark Appel or Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray, depending on what the Astros do with the first pick and barring any last-minute velocity drops or health scares. The Cubs will have at least one representative at every start for Appel and Gray. The Astros are a bit of a wild card. The Cubs didn’t expect them to take high school shortstop Carlos Correa last year at No. 1.

TL: Are there any players we should keep our eyes on as potential Cubs in 2014?

PM: It depends on how certain players develop this season and what the roster looks like after the trade deadline. The front office will get a better idea of what they need moving forward. Looking back on last winter, the Anibal Sanchez pursuit showed they have the capacity to surprise. You can probably rule out anyone attached to draft-pick compensation (which made the Michael Bourn idea a non-starter).

There could be pitchers that make sense on paper, but this front office places so much value on medical information that it’s too early to tell who will be targets. Jacoby Ellsbury has the obvious Red Sox connections, but remember that also means the Cubs know all his weaknesses as well as his strengths.

Follow Patrick @CSNMooney


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  • Excellent article Tom, I'm getting excited for the draft. The Cubs are going to walk away with a potential ace starter in either Appel or Gray

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thank you and I'm with you.

  • I'll never be excited by the draft. Hardly any draft choices make it to the majors.

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    love the site and content..
    cosmetically the site needs a facelift..

  • In reply to Jon Frakes:

    Thanks Jon what did you have in mind? We control only so much it's part of Chicago Now network.

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    In reply to Jon Frakes:

    Commander Riker? Oh, that would just be too cool.

  • Who's taking Dolis' spot? QG?

  • Fuji.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Thank you Tom. That's what I thought.

  • Gray is pitching tonight on ESPNU. Watched Appel last week but haven't ever been able to watch Gray other than his youtube video.

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    Translation of his answer on the 2014 Free Agency question:


    Surprised he didn't mention Travis Wood as a possible core piece but that's to be expected. He's not as "flashy" as you'd think a core player would be so fans and media will tend to overlook him.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think he is part of that at this point. Not too much on the FA front. Ellsbury would be good on a shorter deal.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Agreed, I like Ellsbury on a 2yr deal. But reports have him wanting a 80-100mil contract. No. Sad part is I could see some desperate team giving him that hoping he magically has another one-time, unsustainable big year.

  • Everyone catch the part where Cubs missed out on Darvish due to $ ?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Yeah, but here's the thing... They made a big bid for him. There was no guarantee he'd work out this well, and that is a huge financial commitment when we knew we wouldn't be in contention for a few years.... If Garza's injury woes hadn't happened, would we really be regretting missing out on Darvish?

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    That's only a big deal because of how well Darvish has pitched. Over 110mil for a guy who's never thrown a pitch in the US is a HUGEEEE gamble. Texas' window is right now, they need to take that risk. It was Theo and co first year, why would they take such a big gamble? Texas played the lotto and won.

    Imagine if Darvish wound up being Matsuzaka or Kei Igawa instead of Japanese Verlander. The Texas FO would have been ridiculed and if it was Chicago everyone would be calling for Theo's head.

    They did the right thing not overbidding. Their's was about where it should have been. Texas just blew everyone out of the water with an, at the time, ridiculous bid.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    True but it does make you feel good they were right about him.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:


  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Well duh, the team with the highest posting fee got Darvish. ;)

    In all seriousness, have we actually heard that the Cubs would have outbid the Rangers for Darvish? Or just that they would have been able to put out a better offer than they did? If the former, then obviously that stinks. But if the latter, who cares?

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I get that but he said they couldn't out together the right package.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    The other problem is that starting pitching wasn't our weakness last year and it's not really a problem this year. So spending more than 110M just to acquire him wouldn't have made us much better in the short term. Sure it's a core piece, but I don't like the Darvish second guessing since reports are that the Cubs were the runners-up. If they couldn't put together a good package, how did they outbid so many other teams?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Yes, the Cubs missed a chance at adding an ace pitcher, the most important kind of a core player. That would have been a huge step forward in the rebuilding, with Darvish and Shark as our #1 & #2 pitchers on a playoff team in the near future.
    If I am understanding the Mooney correctly, Theo thought Darvish was worth a big bid but was kept by Ricketts from making as big of a bid as he wanted to make. Furthermore, Mooney can't really guess when ownership will be ready to put on its big boy pants and spend on top level talent.
    One positive to take out of this is that it sounds like Theo and Jed evaluated Darvish correctly, so they haven't lost their magic touch for player evaluation.

  • Nice interview Tom. I've become a big fan of PM. He can be sitting in a group interview/conference and come away with a unique spin or a nugget or two that others miss. I think he's got a great read on the "pulse" of our beloved MLB organization and seems to report it without any bias unlike so many others.

    I agree that Beef is showing some tremendous development and has the makings of a front line MLB catcher. This is critical for us and it's critical to get some others behind him within the organization (great draft to do so) as this is one of our biggest weaknesses and yet it is probably the most critical defensive position.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed he has become my favorite actually. They all do good work but I like Patricks angles as well. Doesn't ever seem to have agenda and is fair.

  • Tom,
    I'd love to hear an insider's thoughts on the Cubs launching their own network and leaving CSN. It's been rumored for years. Think he'd answer anything along those lines?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I had great source tell me they want to do it but they are tied in for quite a bit with CSN. Down the road possibly.

  • Tom,
    Given what Mooney said is there any chance the Cubs take Bryant depending on who the Astros take.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    John and I have heard Cubs really like Bryant but others say they are locked into college arm.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Kevin, have you heard the rumors about Bryant being represented by Boras? If true, I have to wonder if that will cause him to drop like Appel did last year.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yes its true. Its been public knowledge for quite some time to the teams through.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    How do you think that affects where Bryant may go in the draft?

    Also, what did you come up with on Matt Boyd?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I don't think it does.

  • If they are really as frustrated with the losing as they say, I could see them going after a qualified offer FA if the 1st round pick is protected. There's maybenot an elite star but a few interesting names who could be solid core pieces. Add 2 of those this off-season and next year's team could be pretty good.

  • Interesting comment about Castro being only Cub that can move the needle.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Today. He is the only guy that moves the needle Today. He has a track record of success on the field and eventually be a key piece to any winner that the Cubs build.

    That being said come the All Star break this year that could change. If Rizzo keeps up his recent hot streak and Shark keeps showing the top of the rotation stuff that he has at times this year then they will both "move the needle" as much as Castro does. You just have to have enough success in the spot light for people to take notice.

    Remember even after his awesome start to the season in Texas it was not until the All Star game at Yankee Stadium that Hamilton was thought of much outside of the baseball world.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I thought that was very interesting and confirms what we all thought. The amount of criticism and unfair expectations Castro gets is unwarranted and unfair. He just admitted that the media and fans single him out simply because he's "the guy".

    It's both a negative and somewhat a complement. You expect the most from your best players, that's fine. But the way Castro has been built up by the media is insane. He's been the scapegoat.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I agree that the media has scapegoated Castro, but I'm not sure a lot of fans wouldn't have reached the same conclusions without their help. He came up at 20 with tremendous hype, and is already a two time all star. So the expectations are going to be there. And he's had some very notable, very public lapses that leave a bad taste in people's mouths. We expect a lot of our stars, and Castro hasn't reached what are probably unreasonable expectations. It's not fair but it's not surprising either.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Honestly, I think it's time to move Castro to the five hole in the lineup and tell him to stop worrying about taking pitches. Just be yourself and we all know good things will happen. All of this will start to fade when he's hitting .300 with 15 home runs.

  • Great stuff. Really interesting insight from Mooney as usual,,

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Mooney is one of the last remaining big corp Cubs writers I actually enjoy reading content from. You can tell he's not just out there trying to get fans riled up for page clicks or angry that Theo and Co aren't as loose lipped as the Hendry FO. He simply provides good content, baseball insight, and opinions.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yep and he seems to have good info.

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    Great interview Tom! Mooney is my favorite among the mainstream media covering the Cubs. He's about the only one I read anymore.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks Mike and yes he does a great job.

  • Yes, this is the Major Leagues. I expect a lot from Castro and every single guy who dons the Cubs blue. This is year 4. Time to turn it up a bit or at least cut down on the dumb mistakes.

    If guys are making solid contact, avoiding bad pitches, and making the routine plays, you won't hear much griping from me. It's a tough game.

    Castro still has enough value to the Cubs, and other teams, where we have the luxury of waiting and seeing. Remember that guys like Profar are available. 3 team trades can get done. I doubt we lose our shortstop without replacing him with someone that projects to be the same or better.

    Personally, I would "explore" moving him at the deadline, albeit silently, as not to create a stir.

    The boy is not sacred to this fan. :) He sure does have a lot of upside, and is exciting to watch at times, but the clock is ticking.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Why explore trading him ? Sometimes I think fans just want him gone. Just let the kid grow and with every other young kid on the team. Remember this is the first real development he is getting and it is being done on the major league level.

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    In reply to seankl:

    Agreed. If the "dumb mistakes" people allude to are any errors Castro makes then just every SS in the game makes dumb mistakes. Even the best SS in the game routinely make 10+ errors a year. It's a hard position to play.

    Forgetting how many outs there are or throwing a ball into the stands with 1 out is a dumb mistake....Mis-fielding a groundball is not a dumb mistake, it's just an error which is part of the game. Castro has not made any dumb mistakes this year.

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    With all the money that is tied up and will be in getting Wrigley Field renovated,it may be quite a while until a run can be taken at any big time,big money free agents.So we'll probably just have to be patient and keep on waiting and waiting...

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    In reply to Gary Schaber:

    Well we picked a good time to not be able to sign big money FA considering there are none worth getting. Teams are locking up their young stars. Even if we did have the money there's no way to put it to good use in FA anyway. No loss there.

    There was an article recently by a well respected baseball man who deduced that pretty much every 80-100mil plus contract of the last 10 years have provided negative overall value and reduced payroll and roster flexibility, holding back several clubs for years. FA just isn't a good way to find young, impact talent anymore.

  • When asked which current Cubs could be part of a winning team going forward besides Shark, Riz and Castro. Mooney mentioned EJax and Fuj. No Travis Wood? No Beef Welington?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think he mentioned Beef as a guy that is starting to knock on the door of that core groups.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Indeed he did, missed that. But the biggest omission for me was Wood. He seems like the obvious guy stepping forward and joining the core group to me. I hope he doesn't know something I don't in regards to Travis's ability to keep performing well...

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