Cubs have attempted to rebuild in the past, total commitment has been long overdue

Cubs have attempted to rebuild in the past, total commitment has been long overdue

Rebuilding is an ugly process at times. Ugly, but at some point unavoidable. Sometimes it pays to look at the past to remind you what has truly been necessary all along.

A casual fan asked me the other day to explain to them what the Cubs brass was trying to accomplish. The easiest analogy for me was a gut rehab. You can keep replacing drywall, etc. but eventually you have to strip things down, do some hard rewiring.

Going back to 1980 (when I started watching this Cubs team) there were some other attempts at a rehab. They were all aborted on some level due to fear and finances. We may wonder just how much finances have played into the pairing down of the current payroll, but either way the wiring needed to be redone.

It would have been nice to see the right thing done years ago, but here we are and I think it is safe to say the worst is in our rearview mirror.

Speaking of rearview mirrors, let’s take a look back at some of the other times since 1980 this painful process could have been undertaken.

In 1980 GM Bob Kennedy went about a rebuild of sorts by taking flyers on guys like Mike Tyson and Lenny Randle (who had failed to live up to their potential elsewhere). That was followed by the Bruce Sutter trade. Sutter was arguably the best relief pitcher in the game but was just awarded a huge arbitration win (big no-no for the Wrigley's).

Kennedy wanted to use Sutter to acquire a young cost controlled prospect. That player ended up being Leon Durham, who was one of the top prospects in the game. Durham was a natural first basemen who was blocked in St. Louis by Keith Hernandez. Funny thing was he wasn’t able to play first in Chicago either due to Bill Buckner. This was, however, the kind of deal that made sense at the time, if only there was a vision other than dumping salary.

Later Kennedy traded Dave Kingman to the Mets for Steve Henderson. After Kennedy was abruptly fired, interim GM Herman Franks unloaded Rick Reuschel to the Yankees for Jay Howell, Doug Bird, Mike Griffin, Pat Tabler, and wait for it…cash.

This really wasn’t a true rebuild as much as just a tear down. Unlike 2007, the Cubs were trying to thin out the bottom line to make a sale more attractive. It was strictly about saving money.

In 1982 Dallas Green would follow with a different kind of rebuild. Green tried to retool the farm system while still trying to win on the big league level at the same time. It was a bold plan that almost worked, if it weren’t for Steve Garvey and Green’s power lust. The system later produced big time (later 80’s) but was busted apart mostly by GM Jim Frey.

In 1992 new GM Larry Himes actually tried to convince the Tribsters of a full scale rebuild. He had some previous success with the White Sox by building through the draft. You may not be aware that Himes was an early advocate of statistical analysis as well. Himes had the gutsiest of moves in mind. He wanted to trade the face of the franchise in Ryne Sandberg for a nice package of prospects. It was a bold move that may have changed the franchise. Sandberg was 32 and showing signs of decline. Sandberg was looking to get his last big contract and there wasn't enough around him at the time to win with.

Cubs honcho at the time Stanton Cook put the kibosh on it. Letting it be known the Cubs needed Sandberg and Mark Grace to be the matinee idols for WGN and sell tickets. They could just fill out the rest of the roster and it wouldn’t matter. The right thing be damned. The Cubs were just another TV show. Later, Himes did manage to trade George Bell for another young player he wanted to acquire in Sammy Sosa.

1995 would bring in Andy MacPhail and Ed Lynch. Once again, there was a rebuilding plan. This time MacPhail had convinced the Tribune they were going to build with youth. Then a funny thing happened. The Cubs were competitive in a strike-shortened season with the new Wild Card within their grasp. The Cubs again shifted gears and even brought back the aging Sandberg the following year, despite Houston’s young star Craig Biggio flirting with the Cubs as an upcoming free agent.

Last but not least there was 2003. New GM Jim Hendry and his mega hire Manager Dusty Baker had a not so well known disconnect in short order. Hendry and MacPhail had decided to retool during that summer when Baker instead asked for more help to win then. Baker won out, as he was promised by the Cubs (when they pitched him) they would add talent and payroll.

That one we could chew on for a while with all that followed. Instead Hendry added Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton and the rest was almost history.

So Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer weren’t exactly trying to break new ground here, but they happen to be the guys that were able to get the building permit.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Comments

Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    I have never heard of the potential Ryno deal. Interesting. Who was he pitched at and were any prospect names ever dropped?

  • In reply to Ray A:

    I remember the rumor, actually but I don't know the names. Tom researched the article, maybe he knows.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    I'm trying to remember those specifics. I'm working on it.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I worry that this is nothing more than the Ricketts family cutting costs to make money. I certainly hope not but only time will tell.

  • In reply to peoria cubfan:

    The thing that stops that thought pattern is Theo/Jed would not have come aboard for that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Exactly. Why on God's green earth would Theo, Jed, Jason and all the other Superfriends that they have assembled in this front office have come to work for the Cubs if the goal was solely to line the Ricketts' pockets? I'd think Shiraz wants to be a GM some day as does any of the other people who report to Theo and Jed. Winning will make those opportunities pop up faster than anything else.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Not to mention, Theo, Jed, and Jason are all very well paid

    If the Ricketts were just trying to do the same as the Trib, there wouldn't be any point in hiring a really expensive brain-trust.

  • In reply to peoria cubfan:

    There's no doubt that this is a for real total rebuild, but there is also no doubt that the Ricketts family has cut cost to either make money or avoid losing it. For example, I was/am a big fan of Aramis Ramirez. We didn't have a 3B prospect he was blocking, so I wish Theo/Jed had signed him for last year and this and then maybe trade him for prospects when we had a legit prospect in the wings. Instead, they took a flier on that bum Stewart. With Aramis in the lineup we likely win a lot those 1 run games when our offense has been non-existent. On the other hand, we wouldn't have had the 2nd pick in the draft.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    and that would only keep us from getting a #2 pick to a #6 pick.

    Aramis Ramirez is not what we need, this roster is being molded on 2015/2016. You get no benefit from signing Aramis Ramirez, $12,000,000 (2012-14) ...oh i forgot you want to win 1 run ballgames

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    Nondorf, keeping Ramirez would have also cost the Cubs a supplemental pick...which was turned into Pierce Johnson, arguably the best pitching prospect in the system.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    Exactly, Ray. The Ricketts family also saved a lot of money by re-signing Carlos Pena which, had they done so, would've meant that Paul Blackburn, arguably the Cubs 2nd best pitching prospect, would be pitching for someone else right now.

    Also, nondorf, it's not like the Ricketts pocketed this money. They have expanded, modernized and upgraded the scouting and developmental staff greatly. Installed cameras in every minor league affliate's stadium and created a video staff to edit each prospect's performance so they can see what adjustments they have made and still need to make. An invaluable teaching tool the organization never had before. They built a state of the art facility in the Dominican and have broken ground on one in Mesa.

    It seems to me they have made excellent investments in the Cubs future (which you would expect from the family that founded Ameritrade) by letting these high-priced aging players go, getting very good prospects in return and investing the money saved in their (and other prospect's) successful development.

    That's a win-win if you ask me...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    *not* re-signing Carlos Pena...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to peoria cubfan:

    This is just NOT the case! From the money spent on the 2011 draft (before Jedstein came aboard) to the Soler contract and even the Edwin Jackson signing (though it doesn't look so great right now), they have done exactly what they've said they were going to do...build through the draft and international free agency, and even showing the willingness to overspend a little bit when they see a piece that they believe fits (Jackson). They said from the beginning it would be ugly at the big league level. Everybody loves to point at the rich guy and say he's being cheap, but the fact is the Cubs are a business and the Rickett's are actually investing GREATLY in the future of this business.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    I'm not sure it was anything more than a(n unfounded) rumor. From Lexis-Nexis:

    Sandberg's situation is simple. If he is not signed by Saturday, he will not sign anywhere until the season is over. He is a 10-5 player (at least 10 years in the majors, at least the last five with the same club), so he can veto any trade he chooses.

    Sandberg said he told the Cubs he will accept a trade to ''the Southern California teams (Los Angeles, San Diego and California),'' but he is not demanding anything.

    ''We've made no demands whatsoever,'' Sandberg said Sunday, showing up early for the 11th consecutive year.

    Sandberg said he has heard his name in rumors, ill-founded ones, according to new Cubs general manager Larry Himes. Himes denied a Sandberg-to- California story last week.

    USA Today 2/24/1992

    The deadline set by second baseman Ryne Sandberg passed Sunday night without an announced agreement on a contract extension from the Chicago Cubs.

    Sandberg wanted an agreement by 12: 01 a.m. MST today.

    He authorized his agent, Jim Turner, to end negotiations at that time. However, Turner remained in discussions with the Cubs after midnight.

    Unless a postdeadline agreement was reached, the next step is free agency after the season. Even the option of a trade was ruled out. Sandberg has the right to veto a deal, and he has said he will.

    The stalled talks were probably just a taste of things to come from a potential 1992 free-agent crop unprecedented for the number of players with All-Star credentials.

    Sandberg's stance was straightforward and known for years. ''My season starts March 1,'' he said. ''I don't need the distractions.''

    USA Today 3/2/1992

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Thanks for that. I do actually remember the Dodgers now being team mentioned.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eldrad:

    Thanks I do remember some of that, just before he became the richest Cub ever (at that point in time).

  • I remember being a kid and watching Sammy Sosa when he was with the White Sox. We traded him for Bell, and even though his numbers didn't look so great at the time of the trade, he just played with an amazing energy, and I had a feeling he was going to be a star.

    Even in high school, when I ran, I had my hands straight, with both arms flaling up and down like Sosa when I would run the bases or would be running...........period.

    I looked like a bat out of hell, though I don't think I was moving as fast I as I looked and felt. :)

    Makes me wonder how many kids nowadays have their foot back like Castro, or chomp gum like it's going to be stolen from them like Darwin Barney.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I absolutely love that about Darwin Barney.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Great point about Castro. He's afraid of getting hit, which is OK if you're not a major league baseball player. Have you seen him bail at second when the runner tries taking him out? Runs like a rabbit.

  • fb_avatar

    The biggest disappointment for me regarding the Himes tenure was the draft. His drafts with the Sox were great. With the Cubs...not so much. The best MLB player he drafted while with the Cubs was Kyle Farnsworth. Think about that. Then Jose Molina. After that it's either Brant Brown or Brooks Kieschnick. That's a terrible three year track record.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    Yeah Goldis had Mc Dowell, Thomas, Ventura if I'm not mistaken.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I believe Farnsworth was drafted by the Braves? Nevertheless, yeh, Brant Brown and Brooks Kieschnick. Hard to believe all the misfires in our history. But Almora and Bryant look like hits.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to tommy:

    Farnsworth was drafted by the Cubs

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/farnsky01.shtml

    Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 47th round of the 1994 amateur draft

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    You are right. I should have checked first.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ken Roucka:

    And don't forget losing Mad-Dog Maddux over $100,000. I can't tell you how sick it made me to watch Maddux win those other Cy Youngs with the Braves.

  • It sounds like over half the teams are rebuilding or should be and maybe one quarter (Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Oakland, the better known ones) have rebuilt to some extent.

    I was buying the "rebuilding" line until the story at Miami changed from "the owner decided to screw the city, which just gave him a new stadium" to "they're rebuilding."

    The two implications seem to be...
    ...Toronto must have been royally screwed on that trade.
    ...The vast majority of major league teams have lousy minor league systems. The Cubs, apparently still the case. At least the Sox have pitchers to trade; Gio Gonzalez several times.

  • I think that MacPhail's rebuild shouldn't be glossed over quite like that. MacPhail came in and paralleled Epstein's promises quite a bit, though not quite as extreme (and under a different set of CBA rules and circumstances). He did all the promising to expand the scouting ranks, increase the size and modernize the organization, and build from within.

    If you figure a year or two to get the new organization in place and three or four to get the prospects they were drafting and signing up through the minors, then I'd say it worked. From 2001-2003 they had a top-3 farm system.

    I don't really care enough about the term "true rebuild" to quibble over what it does or doesn't mean, but MacPhail did a much better job building the organization than he gets credit for.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    That is fair. However they did abandon the full scale job again for short sighted ness.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    He had the Theo ability do do it at the time too. Pretty similar situation.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I could have broken down each instance more but wanted to just sum up. It never was followed through with this gumption.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Tom meant this more as a general piece. Going into detail with each era would be a pretty long article.

    I wouldn't say that McPhail modernized the system. He did want to build with scouting and he had something of a plan in that he mostly pursued high risk/high reward arms in volume, figuring that he could always trade surplus for position players since pitching is/was always in demand. Unfortunately he rolled snake eyes on almost every one of those young arms.

    Tom used the words "true rebuild" when it came to the Kennedy era and if you were around for those days, you would know that was not a serious rebuild so much as it was a salary dump/salvage what you can in terms of prospects. McPhail may have had a good start to a rebuild, but What Tom is really saying here is that there was never a full, long term commitment. And it's really hard to quibble with that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    "he rolled snake eyes on almost every one of those young arms"

    I suspect you'd agree with this, but at some point it isn't luck. The other part of the Theo's rebuild (and the results are still very much pending) is the "The Cubs Way" and the attempt to standardize and improve development. That will hopefully turn high reward arms (and position players) into major leaguers.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes, those arms needed development and the Cubs didn't have a system in place with that. It was the missing part of the equation. You could get away with skimping on development, but if that's the case you should draft more MLB ready players (i.e. like the White Sox do).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What does commitment to a "full rebuild" mean that MacPhail didn't do?

    He promised to expand the scouting budget and improve drafting. He did it. Within four or five years of him taking over, the Cubs had the best farm system in baseball for a long stretch. They parlayed that into a competitive team throughout the 2000s, ending the commitment to the farm system after the 2006 season when MacPhail left and the Tribune Co. began the campaign to boost the sale price.

    MacPhail made plenty of mistakes (mostly Ed Lynch and always having one eye off the team and on the commissioner's office), but in terms of process, I don't see much different between he and Epstein.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    There's another major difference between McPhail's rebuild and what Theo is attempting in that McPhail concentrated on the name guys at the top of the system. Yeah, we had Prior, Patterson, and Choi, but the system didn't have any depth behind them. This is really rebuilding on the cheap -- and I would imagine to some extent this was dictated to him by Tribute higher ups. (Although it's worth noting that his Orioles are also top heavy.)

    The major difference between the two, and what really sets apart the Theo rebuild, is the incredible depth of the system. Javier Baez fails? There's still Alcantara, Hernandez, De La Rosa, and (hopefully) Torres coming up behind him. The Hannemann pick is the kind we never would have made in the past. Almora is the center fielder of the future. Why go over slot to bring in another center fielder? We already have the center fielder of the future. This isn't about getting some big name guys in the system, this is about a system that can produce numerous impact prospects for the team, as well as injury replacements and trade bait.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's revisionist history, imo.

    Circa 2001-2003, the Cubs were supposed to have an incredibly deep farm system. There were dozens of guys we all dreamed on just as hard as we dream on the Alcantaras of the world today.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    Name one

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Name your position. You mentioned CF: Behind Corey Patterson, there was Felix Pie and Nic Jackson. At SS, there was Luis Montanez and Nate Frese.

    And that's just position players. The pitching we had back then makes the pitching we have now look like a sick, sad joke. We had maybe as many as half a dozen guys in any given year better than the best pitching prospect currently in the Cubs' system.

    Everyone's drooling right now because we might have five or six guys in the top 100. The 2002 Cubs had 7, including five in the top 50 and two in the top 10.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Here's a chat that Jim Callis of Baseball America did about the system in Feb. 2003:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/features/chat020703.html

    A choice quote

    "I know I seriously looked at 45 guys for the Top 30, while with other organizations I was trying to scramble to find 30 names. Sixty doesn't seem an unreasonable number to me."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    Well then, my memory is obviously crappy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    If you read through that, you'll notice he's talkin mostly about their good young pitchers, which goes to John's post above. Redundancy at key positions is nowhere to be found.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Another choice quote:

    "Q: bottman from oak brook, il asks:
    with the cubbies drafting primarily pitching in the early rounds of the last few drafts, how strong are the position player prospects within the organization? what are some names i should be on the lookout for? thanks.

    A:
    Jim Callis: They've got a lot of good position players, too. Hee Seop Choi, Felix Pie, Nic Jackson, Brendan Harris and David Kelton all made the Top 10. Beyond that, look at Luis Montanez, Alfredo Francisco, Brian Dopirak, Brandon Sing and J.J. Johnson, among others. The Cubs aren't as deep in hitters as they are in pitchers, but their better hitting prospects stack up well against their better pitching prospects."

    It's true that we're very hitting-heavy now and pitching-heavy then, but our pitching then was deeper than our hitting is now (strength on strength) and our hitting then was way better than our pitching now (weakness on weakness).

    If anything really separates our current farm system, it's definitely not depth beyond the top stars. It's the cluster of top stars. We don't have anyone as good as Mark Prior or Corey Patterson (in terms of their prospect status at the time), but whomever you prefer for our 3/4 spots right now would probably be better than our 3/4 spots in most of those years. But then the old 5-10 would be better as well.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    Choi -- first baseman of the future
    Pie -- center fielder of the future (you have one there)
    Jackson -- right fielder of the future
    Kelton -- Third baseman of the future
    Harris -- Second baseman of the future
    And we include a quickly fading shortstop of the future (Montanez) in his "also" list.

    Then "The Cubs aren't as deep in hitters as they are in pitchers, but their better hitting prospects (i.e., Choi through Kelton) stack up well against their better pitching prospects."

    Yup, that certainly trashes my argument.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I wasn't necessarily trying to trash it, but I think it's a silly distinction.

    Yes, there some are positions where this farm system is deeper than that one was, but vice-versa is also true. To paint the early 2000s systems as not having depth behind a few highly-hyped prospects strikes me as a symptom of Shiny New Toy Syndrome or simply not remembering how deep and well-regarded the farm teams back then were. Redundancy most certainly was there to be found.

    The early 2000s system was incredibly deep at 3b, OF, SP and RP (and 1b by proxy, as that's where the leftovers from 3b and corner OF would end up), plus it had at least one catcher I can recall (which is one more than we have now, with all apologies to Wilson Contreras). And it wasn't completely devoid of middle infielders, either.

    The current system is pretty deep across the infield and in CF. The corner outfielders after Soler aren't that impressive, but those can be filled with guys who don't quite make it at other positions. It's easily in the bottom third in baseball in catchers, starting pitchers and relief pitchers.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    I recall the buzz about the top guys, but I don't recall anybody praising depth unless they were talking about the number of potential stars they had. Everybody loved Patterson, Choi, Hill, Prior and it was better than having just one guy people loved (KERRY WOOD!!!), but the rest of it seemed to be hype generated by the Vine Line Hope Machine that worked very hard to get people excited about players like Earl Cunningham. There are now objective sources (Baseball America, other baseball executives) that talk about being impressed by the growing depth in the Cubs system. That has almost never happened before in my lifetime, and never on this scale.

  • In reply to Tim McGinnis:

    It totally did, though. Baseball America absolutely *slobbered* over the Cubs in 2001-2003.

    Honestly, I swear some days the posts people make about the Cubs' system these days are just copy and pasted from the old Prospero boards in those days, with the names switched around. WIth Javier Baez playing the role of Corey Patterson.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Kyle,
    You have made some great points. I really think that where we failed in those days was in player development. Here is a quote from the article which hints at the potential erroneus thinking from the previous regime in this regard. This was a great read, btw and can serve as a warning. Thanks for posting.

    Steve Nelson from Chicago, IL asks:
    What is your opinion of Luis Montanez's projected future? He was such a heralded prospect when the Cub's signed him, however, he seems to becoming another Cub first round bust. Do you project him as an allstar in five years?

    A: Jim Callis: I wouldn't call him a bust at all. I think he has been promoted a little too aggressively. In each of his two full seasons, he started slow before recovering to finish strong. All-star? Maybe not. But he can become an offensive middle infielder in the majors. The Cubs continue to believe he'll stick at shortstop, while some observers think his range will force him to move.

  • In reply to Tim McGinnis:

    Just to expound on this point, Baseball America rated the Cubs' system No. 2, No. 1 and No. 3 from 2001-2003.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    So BA prospect rankings/prospect chats equal rebuilding process? Do you even see how far off the track you are?

    That doesn't even begin to address the rebuilding process except in a very narrow and subjective manner.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If you scroll up, you'll see that BA prospect rankings are an offshoot of a very specific conversation in which a commenter opined that "never in his lifetime" have sources such as Baseball America loved the Cubs' system and it's depth, which I was showing isn't true.

    As far as whether or not it counts as a rebuild, that's a great way to get sucked down a semantic rabbit hole. MacPhail came in and promised to expand scouting and focus on developing from within. A few years later, we had an elite farm system. We parlayed that elite farm system, through graduation and trades, to an extended run of competitiveness (albeit not a great one, but essentially 6 competitive years from 2001-2008).

    If that doesn't count as a "true rebuild," then the definition of "true rebuild" has been narrowed to the point of meaninglessness.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Well said.

  • fb_avatar

    A common thread through all of this, though, is the amazing lack of productivity in our farm system, particularly since 1990. Between Mark Grace and Geo Soto, I don't believe the Cubs farm system graduated an all-star caliber position player in that whole stretch. Prior, Wood, and Z were the only impact talent, and we know what happened there.

    Regardless of the strategy, the performance of our farm system, which should be a priority of every GM, was pathetic. It's amazing we came as close as we did in 2003 or 2008 considering that hardly any players on our roster were home-grown.

    Even the Yankees, who have had the cash to buy anyone, had a core of home-grown talent

  • In reply to Zonk:

    There was a lot of using Pittsburgh Pirates as the farm system, as indicated by such deals as for ARam.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Joe Girardi was an allstar I beleive and he came up after Grace.

  • I was kind of shocked to learn Hendry wasn't initially going for it in 03.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Remember, that was when He Seop Choi was the answer, until Eric Karros knocked him out.

    I remember Choi, but didn't remember Karros.

  • In reply to jack:

    Choi still showed some promise until he got hurt. I'm not convinced he would have been a bust. I think his swing was a little long so he was never going to be a high average guy, but I thought he had a chance to be a .250/.260 guy with 30 HRs, lots of walks and lots of strikeouts.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the Cubs messed with Choi,s swing too much trying to make him a HR hitter. He hit better with his straight up stance(more gappers less HRs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Tom - When you say not going for it do you mean at the start of the season or do you mean he had no intent to make trading deadline moves?

    I find it hard to believe they wouldn't go for it. When they hire a veteran manager like Dusty that seems like going for it right there.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I meant in July. They were about .500 and they decided to sell. Baker was pissed and wanted to buy.

  • Makes you wonder if they could have added more young talent to that nucleus at the time.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I have to say I agree with Dusty in going for it. Maybe they could have added more talent to the core but when you consider that much of the talent got hurt (Prior & Wood) or didn't pan out (Choi, Hill, Patterson) would the talent they would've added have been as impactful as Ramirez and (in the offseason) Lee?

    You have to go for it if you get a legitimate chance and with the pitching the Cubs had in '03 they had a real chance.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    No question in hind sight. That SP was ready to win. Plus Aram was young so win for sure. I guess they would have dealt Alou, Sosa.

  • Cubs traded Bill Madlock due to his high salary....one of the worst trades Cubs ever made.......

    Mark Grace was suppose to go in the Mitch Williams trade......but we all know what went on there when a Cubs star player demanded another player to get traded instead........

    the original Sutter trade had Durham, Herr and T. Kennedy coming to Chicago......but Cubs GM Kennedy did not want his son to be on his team........that Ty Waller sure was a great ballplayer for us.......

    The Expos wanted Sutter.....also Randy Martz, Jody Davis and Scott Thompson..........Cubs wanted Gary Carter and Scott Sanderson........that deal never happen......Expos wanted more players......

    Cubs sent Yankees minor league prospects Jay Howell and Ron Davis to the Yankees......yeah, we got crap in return.....

    How about all those great prospects we got from Oakland for Dennis Eckersley !!!!!......

    has anyone notice that Cubs tv ad where they show Billy Williams hitting a HR, and Ernie Banks is a coach at first, and turned his back on Williams !.........I heard years ago that Banks was some what jealous that Williams was playing and he was not...........

    Only Ryne Sandberg trade rumor that I knew was with the Dodgers.........was talk, never was going to happen........

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    "......but we all know what went on there when a Cubs star player demanded another player to get traded instead........"

    Is that true? I've heard that regarding both Palmeiro & Davey Martinez. I'm still trying to figure out how one's wife has an affair with a co-worker of her husband when they're both (husband & cheater) on the road at the same time.

  • Cubs almost sent Marmol, Marshall and Vitters to San Diego for Jake Peavy,,,,,,,,,,but backed off at the last second......

  • The continuity with the Tribune past and the Ricketts' present seems to be a lack of funds to play with the big boys. I think Theo has done a good job considering the funds he's been provided. But until the payroll increases we're going to have to hope for more success stories like TWood, Navarro and Schierholtz and continue to look on wistfully as players like Puig and Darvish sign with teams who can risk mega-signings because they can afford to eat the cost if it doesn't work out.

  • fb_avatar

    I always felt that Larry Himes was undone by one of his first decisions.... letting Maddux walk. The spin that they spent the money Madduz would've earned on other free agents: Morgan, Randy Myers, Willie Wilson, Candy Maldonado, etc.... said to me they were interested in quantity not quality.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Louie101:

    My understanding is that was more Stanton Cook than Larry Himes. Cook took a deal Maddux had agreed to off the table because he had never won 20 games.

    No, really, this was the crap that happened before statistical analysis came along.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Stanton Cook...grrr. That pretty much goes for any business suit who thinks he knows baseball. Business people need to understand that the ability to make money doesn't make them an expert on anything except how to make money.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That was his excuse. Then Maddux won 20 following season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    In Ryno's book, he says it was Larry Himes who yanked Maddux's deal off the table, in the belief that Jose Guzman was better bang for the buck. You can read Ryno smoldering between the lines.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    I think he was a bit misinformed but that is a consensus among writers and Cubs historians.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    He was also undone by what was by most accounts, his grating and intrusive personality. He was very unpopular with both players and other front office executives. Good baseball mind but he didn't have the right people skills. Maybe he and Hendry would have made a good team with Himes giving his input and letting Hendry do the talking.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wow that would be a dynamic duo.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    Maddux left to personal issues he had with another player on the team.........it was not about the money.......it was about what happen off the field.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Wrong. Maddux wanted to sign an was miffed when Cook took deal off table. The end.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Correct. And it wasn't a lot of money, even by the standards of the time.

  • No one cannot change the past....history can be re-written by certain people who want to inform their own way on what happen in the past for those who did not experience that historical event back then.............

    G.M.'s can learn from past mistakes, regarding with trades, signings, farm systems, but when it comes to baseball, and you have a chance to win a division, all that planning on the future can be thrown out the door to obtain a certain player to get you over the hump............Joe Carter was a player who was suppose be with the Cubs for many years....the next Ernie Banks......but Carter was shipped off to the Indians for Rick Sutcliffe in the summer of 84......

    Joe Carter got himself a World Series ring.......Sutcliffe did not.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    That has nothing to do really with this post.

  • Don't expect any trades with San Diego, Arizona or Colorado........all three teams GM's are not willing to offer any prospects for Garza or Feldman........

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Translation: Garza will be a Padre by noon tomorrow.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Translation........Diego's GM screws Theo on Garza trade.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Have you ever thought about starting your own blog regarding every 80/90's Cubs player who was banging some other players wife?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    He could call it "Hot Sex Cubbies." It could tell the torrid story of how the illicit relationship between a star pitcher's lonely girlfriend and the bass of a star outfielder's boom box led to the collapse of the 2003 season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    easy, guys -for once CT is trying to stick to topic and not being snarky and negative - give him a little encouragement.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    LMAO!!

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Well that was not nice to say........

    I would have expected that from someone who had lower standards who always complain about my comments...........but if you run with the Dogs....you become one of them.....and you end up with no standards as a reporter.............

    But this is not what today's Post was all about.....

    When it comes of making trades...it is not about names, but more about people who played in your system...players that you know and their families.................personalities....abilities....future production...future financial demands.........players character make-up........community involvement.....those are what is decided of pulling the trigger on a certain trade.....................GM's do not trade baseball cards......they trade people............

    I use to discuss baseball with many scouts and coaches on the past players........the 70's, 80's and 90's were wild times..........players are not perfect.....some players took different avenues in life due their stardom.......drugs, prostitutes, wife swapping, Strippers, gambling, excessive spending money or just mental breakdown happen to many players........we see the star player on the field, but there are many stories that are not told of what happen off the field.........

    One of my favorite story was an old time ball player on the Cardinals, who had great party for his teammates after the season.....this is the time when players were making under $20,000 a year....player had a band, food, drinks for all teammates and their women.........what happen this player supported these parties by collecting the "tips' off the table that the players left at restaurants while the team was on the road.....a coach on the team caught the player putting the money in his pocket when he return to get his glasses..........coach told him never to do it again.......the player thought it was a waste to leave tips to waitresses...........the after season parties ended.

    For starting my own blog......it would be more likely a photo essay ....more easier to understand for certain people.......like the way they pick out their food at McDonalds.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Even the best of us might better understand your posts if they were presented as photo essays. The lack of punctuation and coherent thought make understanding them something akin to a Where's Waldo puzzle most of the time.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I wasn't being mean spirited but just silly. I thin it is silly to keep saying all of these moves would be made to appease a certain scandal. Not likely.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Like the Rizzo deal?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. have made my point?

  • Side note: After reading Jim Bowden's latest drivel re: 5 Trade Ideas for Matt Garza I'm really glad he isn't guiding the S.S. Wrigley. He's basically saying the Cubs should settle for returns in what equates to some guys that might be back of the rotation pitchers or bullpen guys if they reach their potential. Matt Garza for Stephen Fife and a wild card? C'mon Man!

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    He sucks at both jobs.

  • One thing we can maybe agree on is the uncanny resemblance between MacPhail and Phillip from the Americans in his "Clark" disguise.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Ha! Awesome call

  • Tom/John-
    Do u guys think Dale is the manager Theo n co. have in mind for the furture. I kinda expect him to be the scapegoat at some point to buy them more time. If sell like last yr at the deadline. Aug & Sep r gonna be tough months for all those guys.

  • In reply to MyersTech:

    We have gone over that a bit but I stink jury is still out. I highly doubt they hired a point A guy on purpose. I think Sveum will get a chance with a real club and then they will have more to look it.

  • fb_avatar

    Ken Rosenthal's latest on deadline moves:
    Speaking of the Cubs, they are all but certain to trade potential free agents such as right-handers Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Kevin Gregg but aren’t necessarily inclined to move outfielders David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz, both of whom they control for 2014.

    Schierholtz can be had for the right piece, sources say, but the Cubs can retain him for next season by offering him a raise on his current $2.25 million salary. DeJesus, currently on the DL, is the rare Cub who gets on base. Club officials also like his makeup, and they hold a $6.5 million option on his for ’14.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think Schierholtz will be dealt. He likely won't be more valuable than he is right now with another year of control. He would be perfect for KC and I wouldn't mind taking a flyer on Francour as his replacement, after he clears waivers of course.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    The story last night was that the Cubs have been underwhelmed with offers for him so far. So, clearly, they're looking.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Francour is terrible. He hasn't done anything against lefties since '11. I would rather keep *choke* Hairston.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I like Rosenthal in general but that about our OF'ers makes no sense. I think the Cubs will keep either or on DeJesus and Scheirholtz but I can not see keeping both of them. Especially when one of the trade rumors i saw was a Texas deal with Garza plus an OF'er.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rich Hood:

    I kind of think it's half true-half negotiation. The Cubs have reasons to want to keep both around -- but getting that story out there will help them in their negotiations to drive up the price.

  • I wouldn't mind it if the Cubs kept Schierholtz.

  • fb_avatar

    I would agree. If they can find someone better than Scott Hairston to platoon him with, right field could be a strength next year.

    But, if someone offers them a top 10 prospect for him, I think you jump at it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I too would like to keep Schierholtz. Does his contract expire after this year? Hairston we signed for 2 years and quite frankly I'm uninspired by this signing. As far as a top 10 prospect, who plays right with Hairston if Nate is traded? Lake? That's the only one I'd like to see at this time. We're not picking up a different OF that's ready to help in the outfield. This could make for a longer summer than last year.

  • fb_avatar

    Tom catalogues a painfully accurate litany of cubs front office fails, a lot of which I had protectively forgotten about. But that long list of poor judgement and lousy trades does remind us of one thing - while we're all aware that Cubs teams have lacked home grown talent, it doesn't mean the cubs system didn't produce talent - their talent just wound up helping other teams win. Luis Gonzalez, raffy palmeiro, davey Martinez, angel pagan, dontrelle Willis, Greg Maddux, Kyle lohse, Jon garland, Ricky Nolasco, mark grace - not all impact talent, but all who had at least serviceable careers and were good enough to hold spots on WS teams - but not good enough for the cubs.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Angel Pagan was a Mets prospect that we picked up un the rule 5 draft. He went back tto the Mets after we cut ties with him.

  • In all the discussion on the Cubs past rebuilds, the one factor missed is that in terms of good to great major leaguers produced, Dallas Green and Gordie Goldsberry put together a great system in the mid 80s. If they hadn't been fired, who knows what could have resulted?
    Among the products were Maddux, Grace, Palmeiro, Dunston, Girardi, and Moyer. And he also stole Sandberg. When Frey was named GM, he fired Goldsberry apparently because he felt threatened by him, or because he was Green's guy. That was the end of the farm system.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to clarkaddison:

    Cubs have had in the past a habit of rubber-stamping some players' foreheads with "not an every day player "- palmeiro, Martinez, pagan, theriot - but other teams brought something out of them. Which is why I'm glad to hear they may want to keep schierholtz, Barney and Sweeney - exactly the kind of guys they would have given away in the past for nothing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to clarkaddison:

    That was such a good group of players too. Green and Goldsberry had it going for a while. Why did Dallas Green get fired or lose his job.

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    Word is Green got power hungry -- or that's how the Trib spun it anyway. We can probably call it a power struggle and Green lost -- unfortunately, we Cubs fans who were hoping that the team was finally going in the right direction lost as well.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Hal McCarty:

    I always understood it to be more of a case that Green (the crusty, gruff baseball guy) didn't work well with the suits in Tribune Tower after he was elevated from GM to President/GM. They really needed a sports exec in the President's chair, like they had in Jim Finks in 1984, to help mediate the relationship between the Tower and Wrigley.

    I seem to remember the straw that broke the camel's back was when the Tower nixed the idea of the late being elavated to the managers chair after Frey was canned. Green was pissed and then was ready to appoint himself as the manager. That was nixed too. Gene Michael was eventually appointed manager. He was fired at the end of the 1987 season and Green quit out of frustration.

  • The other golden period of the Cubs farm system was the late 50s and early 60s of John Holland. That era produced Williams, Santo, Hubbs, Holtzman, Joe Niekro, and Kessinger. They also stole Jenkins, Hundley, and Beckert in minor deals.

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    They also stole Jim Hickman and Billy Hands. Holland is underrated, and what a change those teams were from the woeful College of Coaches days.
    Two Rookies of the Year in successive years and a string of good young players in the pipeline. The scouting system must have been good then.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Holland was underrated, I agree. Thanks for reminding me of Hands. He won 20 for us one year. And Hickman had a nice stroke.

  • Great article, Tom, but don't forget us old guys. We remember the first edition of 'The Cubs Way' Remember the College of Coaches? They rotated coaches through out the organization to promote consistency. Sound familiar? That team had three future HOF'ers, and they STILL couldn't win.

  • In reply to djriz:

    For sure djriz, I just usually like to write about the history that I have knowledge of otherwise Im afraid I will get it wrong. Im always interested in the 60s/70's Cubs because it was right before my era.

  • Really odd that this comes up like clockwork about every ten years: 1982 (80), 1992 (95), 2003, 2012. Is that a natural baseball cycle or just a measure of how long Cub fans can stomach chunks of mediocrity?

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    Good question Dan.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    Also seemed to be the first thought of most new GM/Pres but then $ would interfere. The Wrigley/Tribsters always wanted to play the middle. Baseball hell.

  • Good Afternoon,

    I love this blog. Excellent article. A good history lesson. I live in The Berkshires of Western MA. Trust in the judgement of Mr. Ricketts. He did an interview in Chicago about what who he wanted to hire to run his new toy. He did it The Chicago Way.

    R/

    Michael Wright
    USN Submaries (retired)

    P.S. I was at Cooperstown last July.

  • In reply to Submariner10:

    Thank you. I do trust Mr. Ricketts for the most part.

  • fb_avatar

    Dallas Green Tried to trade away some of the Stars from the 1984 team that were getting older. Green got lucky that in 1987 spring training Dawson came with a blank contract. He also got lucky that Oakland needed a DH and found a taker for Cey. Did any body really think Eck would have gone on to be a hall of famer?

  • In reply to John Horlacher:

    Funny thing is Green couldn't even sign Dawson because of collusion. However Dawson painted him into corner with blank contract. His agent was calling his bluff.

  • In reply to John Horlacher:

    He waited too long, and didn't get enough for Eck. He had to go he was in bad shape here.

  • Marmol to Dodgers for salary relief plus?

  • Zack Lee!!! ....probably not.

  • I'm hoping for a DSL player, ala Tony Campana trade, but maybe a trade for int'l salary relief disguised as a PTBNL/Cash works I guess.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Just posted a quick rumor thread for those interested in following latest Marmol trade saga...

  • I continue to hold out hope that the next year (2014 in this case) holds hope for the Cubs to compete for a playoff spot, to make the baseball season interesting again (something it has not been for since August 15, 2009). While Cubs have numerous problems, the most glaring to me has been the inability to field a bullpen. 24 blow leads in our first 80 games is insane - the 2001 team was very comparable to this one, except that team closed out games and was in first place as of Auust 18th.

    So my question for whoever wishes to opine - there are lots of interesting power arms in the minors right now. What are the chances these guys are in the pen at Wrigley come next June:

    - Alberto Cabrera - if he is not a starter
    - Arodys Vizcaino
    - Trey McNutt
    - JC Paniagua
    - Zach Rosscup
    - Are people impressed with Blake Parker so far?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Charlieboy:

    They converted Cabrera to a starter this year so I highly doubt he'd be in the ML pen next next. They're going to give him a chance to start first.

    It's my understanding from what I've read that Vizcaino (when healthy) will be given a chance to start first before they convert him to a reliever.

    Trey McNutt has been at AA since late 2010 and hasn't exactly light it up.

    Paniagua can't even get his visa issues straightened out. He needs to face some MLB caliber hitting prospects first before he can even be considered for the ML roster next year.

    Rosscup has had a very nice year.

    Parker has been nice, but he's a guy. There are a lot of "guys" out there.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    I generally echo everything Ken wrote.

    Cabrera will be given a shot to win a spot at the back of the rotation next year. If he doesn't make it straight out of spring training, they could put him in the pen, but having invested this year in stretching him out, there's incentive for the Cubs to send him to Iowa and keep him ready in case a starter get injured.

    Assuming he doesn't come back and pitch a rehab stint in Arizona towards the end of this season, Vizcaino will be pitching for the first time in two years next spring. I would assume wherever he is pitching to start the year it won't be in the bigs. If he is performing well in AAA and healthy, I could definitely see him joining the Cubs pen mid-season.

    The same goes for Paniagua. His health isn't in question, but his ability to get a visa is. He's pitching well against high schoolers in the DSL right now, but assuming two things: 1) he can can entrance into this country, and 2) he performs well in AA or AAA early next season, he too could be a mid-season addition to the pen.

    I wouldn't classify Rosscup as a "power arm", but he is clearly the best left-handed reliever the Cubs have in the system. I don't know why he is still in AA, but whatever that reason is, it is probably the same reason why he might not be in the Cubs pen next year. I saw him in ST in March, and he looked good to me then. Clearly, they have their reasons for holding him back.

    I like Blake Parker. He's 28, so this is likely as good as he will ever be, but at least for the next few years, he could be a major league average bullpen arm, and I'll take that.

    Trey McWho has tantalized me long enough. The chances of him gaining enough control, let alone command, to succeed in the bigs are getting slimmer by the day. He'll have it for a week or two and then get hit hard for a while. I can't figure him out, and seemingly he can't either.

Leave a comment