Cubs Notes: Manager search continues; Bryant interview; Soler leaves AFL?

Cubs Notes: Manager search continues; Bryant interview; Soler leaves AFL?
Jorge Soler

Let's catch up on some items in the news while I took my 2 day "vacation"...

The Manager Merry-Go Round

As for the managerial search, we seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern.  There appears to be interest in Torey Lovullo, but he's currently helping to prepare the Red Sox team for the World Series.  Current Red Sox manager John Farrell gave a good recommendation,

To me, he's a manager-in-waiting," Farrell told reporters Saturday in Boston prior to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. "I think he's going to have opportunities until he ends up securing one of the jobs. But he's been integral to the success that we've had here. He's a great baseball mind. The conversations and the feedback and just the insights that he gives, he's going to be very good."

Dave Martinez told the Tampa Bay times that his interview went "really well" and that the Cubs would be in contact with him soon.  Hopefully for Martinez that will be good news and in general for Cubs fans it seems to indicate they're still moving forward with their search.

Don Mattingly has emerged as a potential candidate because of some reported issues with the front office, but I wouldn't put him on the Cubs list.  For one, he's more likely to want to go to a contender than a rebuilding situation.  Secondly, I'm not sure he fits the Cubs profile anyway.

Jim Leyland stepped down as Tigers manager but again, it's doubtful he'll want a rebuilding situation at this point.  The fact that he's leaving, however, opens up a spot in Detroit.  It's doubtful the Tigers and Cubs would be searching from the same pool of candidates but one potential overlap is Brad Ausmus, though Ausmus is not officially on the Cubs list at this point.

The Reds are out of the equation as they hired pitching coach Bryan Price to be succeed Dusty Baker.

Opinions continue to fly on the current candidates so we'll see how that goes.  It feels like the national opinion differs from the local one on the various candidates.  Perhaps it's our pathological fear of failure here on the north side of Chicago that makes us petrified of choosing a manager with a losing past.   As I've said, I prefer the Cubs hire a progressive-minded candidate and I'm not concerned as much with their past record whether they have won, lost, or haven't managed at all.  Just hire the best guy for where this team is now and where it's going.  It's time for the Cubs to start looking forward, not backward.

Fall League/Minor Leagues

  • ESPN's Jesse Rogers did a Q&A with red-hot Cubs prospect Kris Bryant.  There's also an interview of Bryant by the website.  You can see it below.
  • Also communicated with Rogers on Twitter and it appears that Jorge Soler has been sent home due to "residency issues".  It's been a frustrating start to Soler's career and despite his talent, he needs to get those reps at the plate.  Soler will have to come back strong this spring to lock up a spot in Tennessee.
  • Kris Bryant went 2 for 4 with an RBI today while Albert Almora went 1 for 5 with an RBI.  They didn't get a ton of support from their teammates as Mesa scored just 2 runs and had 6 hits overall.
  • Mick Gillespie wrote an article on the day he became interested in broadcasting.  Gillespie is an up and coming announcer who has done some spring training games the past couple of years and currently broadcasts for the Tennessee Smokies.  Check out their website, it's one of my favorite minor league team sites out there.

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  • fb_avatar

    Sucks about Soler, but at least, he isn't leaving due to injury. Can he play winterball in the DR?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He probably can, but that degree of competition is higher. Not sure he's ready for it.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You never know. Sometimes a kid will surprise you.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm reading he will be back in AZ by the end of the week.

  • Of the "big 4," I'm thinking that Soler is the one that doesn't pan out, mostly because of his history of injuries since he signed with the Cubs.

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    In reply to giamby:

    It's certainly not looking good.

  • In reply to giamby:

    I think that Almora has had more injuries than Soler, at least as a percentage of time lost.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think we're worrying too much about injuries based on only 1 full season... I'm not concerned about the residency issues just yet... If he can fix it promptly he could play somewhere or just go to camp and keep working on things, report to ST in better shape than ever.

  • In reply to giamby:

    I have to say, I was in Mesa last thur-sat and Soler was the least impressive of the big three that I saw. He seemed lazy and moody all the time. He literally walked through warmup drills before the game and on one occasion didn't give (IMHO) full effort on a pop fly into RF (That said, he made two very nice plays on Sat, and had a great effort to dive for a ball that he just missed sat night right in front of us in RF). For being so big (good lord, first time seeing him in person...he is a LARGE human being) he made ZERO solid contact in the two games we saw him play. Contrast that with Almora and the one game we saw Bryant (Friday afternoon when he hit two HRs and was robbed by the umps of the third)...there is no comparisson.
    I dunno...he just struck me as moody and uninterested a lot of the times. I wasn't impressed.

  • I think it's too early to count him out. I think he is the most unpolished, but i still believe he will make a impact in the majors

  • fb_avatar

    The Cubs clearly have the worst immigration lawyers in the league...

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No kidding. What's up with this? Do people really not know why he's over here? Bit of a problem, as he really needs the time.

  • Unless Soler has an incredible spring he should start next season at Daytona.

  • As e Darth Vader od Cubdom. I'm sad to say that every time I se a new list of managerial prospects I get more depressed. I was certain the Girardi would be the first choice, and I think he was. My sense is that he really didn't want to relocate. If I had kids in school, I probably would feel the same. Currently, I see nobdy on this list that resembles him.

  • typos: As the Vader of . It really is a shame that their is no preview function here. I'm the worst typist imaginable.

  • fb_avatar

    Thinking ahead to the posting fee for Tanaka, I see the highest fee posted was for Darvish @ $51.7M. I see many sights are calling for a $60M or higher posting fee with a possible contract similar to Darvish @ 6/$60M.

    This front office really needs to send a message! They need to win this posting fee war. If the rules do not change then it's simply the highest bid gets the right to negotiate.

    The Cubs just can't fool around with trying to just barely squeeze out a winning bid. They need to go and blow away the competition because this is a blind bid and nobody really knows who will win. And with no real big FA's out there that the Cubs can sign that would fit long term, I'm thinking it could take as much as $85 - $100 million to win this posting war. Then add the $60M on top of that for his salary.

    Does that sound crazy or what?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Sounds pretty stupid to want to spend that money on someone that hasn't even thrown a pitch in the big leagues.

    People like to point to Darvish working out, I like to say Dice-K didn't. I'm not comfortable with making him one of the top 5/10 highest paid pitchers in all of baseball right now.

    I'd rather that potential $145 million you posted to be allocated to other places. With that money you could probably get Garza and Choo.

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    In reply to Yemi:

    You mean like Tim Lincecum getting a $35M 2-yr deal after posting a 4.76 ERA for 2013 type of stupid?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Yeah, exactly. Just because one team made a dumb move shouldn't mean the Cubs should follow suite. That's a terrible way to run a baseball team.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Before someone wants to argue over semantics...he wouldn't be one of the highest paid pitchers, but the cost of the contract, posting fee included, would be on par with those Top 5/10 pitchers.

    Soriano's contract cost $136 million over 8 years, and there's a suggestion to pay $145-160 million over 6 years...

    Let the Yankees have him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Yemi:

    To be the devil's advocate for a moment. How much is a #1 pitcher worth (assuming Tanaka proves to be a #1)?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Depends on a vareity of things. Age, Past Performance etc.

    Kershaw is a #1 who is going to cash in at $300 million soon.
    Verlander is a #1 who cashed in at $219.5 million.
    King Felix is a #1 who cashed in at $175 million.

    There's no set amount.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    When are you going to be willing to admit that while it IS a huge commitment, it's not the SAME KIND of commitment from a business standpoint as an average annual value of 17MM like Soriano. Its just not a fair comparison of allocated funds. Its just not completely fair to compare the two.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I'm not going to admit it because I haven't gotten a valid answer to sway me. Must be nice to live in a world where $40+ million is considered throw away money. Tell that one to Theo, I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    There is a recent precedent for Japanese pitchers having success.

    Tanaka would not even be the highest paid pitcher on the Cubs, let alone in all of baseball. That's way off the mark. He's not even likely to eclipse Edwin Jackson's 13MM annually. If he lands on the Yankees, CC's 23MM plus will dwarf Tanaka's AAV.

    Matsuzaka wasn't a total bust. They won a championship. He pitched in 5 postseason series'! They were perennial contenders when he was on their roster. Its not like it sunk their franchise, in fact he barely rocked the boat. Same with John Lackey now. Same with Zito in SF to a certain degree. They ended up getting their money's worth out of Dice-K.

    Tanaka doesn't get to keep any of the posting fee. He's never thrown a pitch in the bigs and will paid accordingly. He'll make 3rd or 4th starter money. There will be a pitcher on just about every team making more than him.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    There's also a recent precedent for a Japanese pitcher struggling too.

    You're failing to take into account the posting fee. Even though it's not in his average annual salary it's still spending $100 million+. If you only look at it through that narrow view, every single team would go after him, because it's only $10 million or so a year. You can't ignore the major money in the posting fee. It doesn't matter that he doesn't get to keep it, it matters that the Cubs are spending it.

    Dice-K was a total bust. The Red Sox winning had nothing to do with it. With that logic, any contract is worth it if the team wins a title, no matter how much said player contributes.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Its because they're basically writing a check to his NPB club for 60MM or whatever. They're not having to allocate 60MM worth of future salaries. Your view is narrow on that. You're using the old "well, it's just the same" argument without making any effort to understand/agree that while it IS spending, its a different kind of spending. If they make the post season once or maybe twice over the life of that contract it will be worth it. Which brings me to the next point...

    Dice-K posted a 4 win season in '07 and a 5 win season in '08. Teams use exactly that logic, Yemi. Winning championships and the added revenue of postseason baseball IS PRECISELY what justifies big contracts. Why else do you think teams commit money. His contract was a good size commitment but not an albatross. He went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2008 with 5.3 WAR. To put that in perspective, when was the last time a Cubs pitcher had a season that good? I'll save you the trouble. The last Cubs pitcher to even post even ONE 4 WAR season was Ted Lilly's 5.0 in 2009. Dice-K did it twice and also has a 3-1 record in 7 POST SEASON starts. I think you need to check your logic.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    It's not about allocating money to future salaries. It's about spending the money in general.

    You just don't get it.

    Every player on a World Series team is worth their contract. That's terrible logic.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    By the way, why did you ignore his other seasons?

    It's easy to think one way when you tell half of the story.

    Mention his other seasons in your next post.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Then why are you omitting the half of the story when he had two really good years in his first two seasons and the team was a contender every year he was on the roster except 2012?

    I'm not ignoring his other seasons. I'm the one doing research. If I'm so wrong, I'd like to hear why.

    Yemi: Dice-K was a bust.
    Ben: I disagree and here's why...
    Yemi: NO, he was a total bust.
    Forgive me, Yemi but why don't you add in a reason or two why you think he was a "total bust" in your next post.

    Was the guy a resounding success? No. Was he a bargain? No. Did he have good years (plural) during the life of his deal? Yes. Was he hurt a good bit? Yes. Was he a total bust, like you said, to which I was responding? No They ended up unloading Josh Beckett and his contract. Was he a total bust for the Red Sox. My point was that not even Barry Zito's contract is a total bust if there are championships involved. Sorry, you're not going to sell me otherwise.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    The contract as a whole is a bust. I didn't say he was a bust every year.

    Why are you ignoring Dice-K's last four seasons and only fixating on his first two? He didn't even have a single quality start in their playoff run. He wasn't a difference maker in the playoffs at all. They win the World Series with or without him, just so happens they spend a whole lot more with him. That's something a business doesn't like to do.

    Why not focus on his last two seasons...I'll do it for you 4-10 6.94 ERA 83 IP -1.6 ERA since you did a Cubs comparison I'll do one too, those two seasons resemble 2012 Chris Volstad who was 3-12 6.31 ERA 111.1 IP -1.7 WAR.

    See two can play that game...

    Spending $100 million for 2 good seasons, 1 where he's barely worth a starting spot and 3 god awful seasons. Lets just say I'm glad you're not a GM.

    I'm waiting on this justification of Zito's contract with a 3.0 WAR over the duration of 7 seasons.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Wait...are you really giving him credit and using it to justify his contract because the team was contending when he was putting up those God-awful numbers in half the contract?

    2012- 1-7 8.28 ERA, but the team is contending so he's earning his contract.

    C'mon, you can't even believe that...

    Please tell me you don't believe that...

    If you believe that, I'm not trying to sell you, I can only pray.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Didn't say every player on a world series team is worth their contract. I said a contract the size of Dice-k's isn't a total bust with multiple playoff series revenues during that time. You just used "total bust" too liberally to me and I gave you reasons why. John Lackey's contract is bigger than Matsuzaka's. He hasn't been great overall and he's missed a whole season. Yet he's starting Game 2 of the fall classic and has been really good lately. Is he a total bust?

    The logic that teams use is simple....make large monetary investments in players in hopes of making the post season and winning championships making even more money. That's the major way teams recoup those millions they pay in salaries. I fail to see how you don't understand that.

    I think perhaps you should do a little research and read about exactly how much money an organization makes from just one postseason series, let alone a deep playoff run, and a championship, thereby mitigating the risk of a player (Dice-K in this instance) under-performing in the back half of a deal.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    So he doesn't go six in any of his post season starts in the '07 playoff run. I'll give you credit for doing that research. He got the win in the LCS clincher and game 3 of the World Series. Two big wins without a quality start. Okay. I suppose you'd like me to tip my hat.

    I'll give you credit for the Volstad comp too, Yemi. I'm glad you're playing now. I have a good hold on the business aspect of the game. Zito's contract was a bad one, which is why I broke it out as a comp for Dice-K. Another bad contract. But as a total bust, in terms of the franchise losing millions, losing momentum, not being able to add any other talent because of his albatross contract, that clearly did not happen. Like I said in an earlier reply, if there are multiple championships and playoff appearances involved, even a contract as bad as Barry Zito's turned out to be isn't a total bust. Especially given Zito's excellent postseason work in 2012.

    As far as your 'glad you're not a GM' comment I'll say two things. 1) I don't think any GM would pay 100 million if they KNEW they were going to get two good seasons, 1 average one, and 3 awful ones BUT maybe they would if they KNEW they'd go to 6 post season series' while said contract is on the books. & 2) As a GM, especially a Cubs GM, I would be willing to potentially eat a couple of bad seasons three years from now if I KNEW we'd win the World Series. I'd sign a guy for seven and 126 if I KNEW we'd win two World Championships. Winning is how teams make money. You ignore that.

    Dice-K was a good signing that went bad because he broke down. Bottom line. That's how I would characterize him. Not as a total bust.

    I would characterize Zito as a terrible signing that luckily was not a total bust because they still managed to win two titles, one of which they would not have won without him.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Look at his run support in those wins. Going along with my Chris Volstad theme, Volstad could have pitched and gotten the wins.

    Do me a favor, since you're a research nut, go to any Red Sox blog, ask if Dice-K was worth his contract and post your results here.

    Here's a good article asking that question, feel free to post similar articles, none of that Bleacher Report stuff that Joe Schmo could write.

    Here's a couple more stats for stat man. Final four seasons with the Red Sox: 17-22 5.53 ERA averaged 76 IP, 1.537 WHIP.

    I'll be on the lookout for what your research concludes.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    One more you think A-Rod is worth his contract? Especially going forward.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Ok, man. Get tough. We've talked about Dice-K a lot. Do you want me to officially agree with you in print that he was brutal over the past three seasons. Okay. I'll do that. Do you really think I didn't already know that? Do you not think I already knew that "Red Sox nation" thinks Dice-K was a bad deal? I don't really have interest in going on Red Sox blogs to see guys bash Dice-K. I'm sure there are just as many of them who've lost sight of the good years he had and all the contending and winning that was done while he was employed there. I simply stated that I don't think he was a total bust and why. I enjoy the debate. Thank you for doing your research, Yemi. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.

    Look,'s how I see it. It was Dice-K's health that betrayed he and the FO. It was not his ability to be a meaningful piece of a contender. He proved he could do that. He proved he could get Major Leaguers out and have a nice impact on a good team. He also proved he couldn't hold up for 6 years. Oh well. If he'd never had any good seasons because he turned out to not be good enough, then it would have been a total bust in my eyes. Had he stayed healthy for the duration of the contract, nobody would call it a bust or anything close to a bust.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    In response to the A-Rod question you asked me.....What do you think I think about it going forward? Its the biggest contract ever and isn't a fair comp for the ones we've been discussing but I'm happy to give you my opinion...

    Obviously terrible going forward. BUT (and this is key) not a total bust for two reasons...

    1) They are still easily the most valuable team in baseball.
    2) It has not completely undermined their ability to field a competitive roster year in and year out. They will be competitive next year and have been every year with A Rod on the books.

    Disclaimer: they lucked out by him getting suspended since it will allow them to spend bigger than otherwise this off season.

    Overall, terrible deal that they regret no doubt but the Yankees are still the Yankees. It hasn't killed them. I will also say that in 2008 I would have predicted ARod would age a little better than has turned out to be the case. Back then I thought he would turn out to be an above average 37 and 38 year old. Finally I'll say that the only way you can spend that obscene amount of money is if you have it. I really dislike ARod but without the hip issues, he still should have been an above average to average DH at age 37, 38, and 39. He's still dangerous when he's feeling good as he showed briefly in 2013. What do you think about it?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I think it's a terrible contract and every single Yankee fan would agree. He actually was a major part of the WS win and you won't find people that will stand in his corner.

    You seem to think being a bust of a contract means leaving the team in ruins. I felt Milton Bradley was a bust of a contract. It doesn't have to be even a large deal to be considered a bust, just the player not playing up to the expectations set forth for the dollar amount. The value of the team means nothing.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Ok fair enough on ARod. I do define total bust differently than you do. The value of the team means nothing TO YOU. The ARod deal is extreme. Its the biggest ever, Man. No true comps other than his own. The reason no one will come to bat for him is not because he's "not worth his contract". Its because of his PED dings and general dislike of him as a person around the game. Same thing with guys not going to bat for Bonds. He earned that money if you ask every player who will ever play. They don't fault him for raising everyone's baseline. They love him for that.

    I agree that Bradley's was a bust. That was a really rotten move. Don't know what they were thinking there with the track record.

    You now what though, Yemi? Who actually DOES perform up to their contract when its all said and done? Especially when there's a 2 in front of the zeros! Are Pujols, Fielder, Votto, Tulo, Mauer, Posey, Hamilton, Verlander, Sabathia, Teixeira, Jeter going to live up to theirs? That's just kinda the way baseball is, Yemi. Guys fight to stay in the major leagues and produce as much as they can in six years so that they can earn the right to be overpaid for the next decade or beyond. That's basically the dream. They're ALL overpaid if they've made it through! Joke's on you, Front Office. Joke's on you, Ownership. Best union in the world. You know what I'm saying though? Its actually rare that a post arb player is worth his salary. Its certainly not common. The ticket is making up for it with pre arb guys and extensions. You gotta gamble on someone at some point. Ta-na-ka. Ta-na-ka. Say it, Yemi! Ta-na...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben20:

    For a team that insists in having revenue problems, who cares what KIND of spending it is?

    If the Cubs scout think he's really good, then making an honest bid.
    But pretending that just because it doesn't count towards the luxury tax means it isn't real money is mindless

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Well, I care. You do too, clearly. Most importantly the Chicago Cubs care. What I'm trying to say is that this is safer spending than a traditional nine figure commitment would be from a baseball business (profit margin) standpoint. Why is that so hard to understand? They pay the posting fee right away so that they don't have to worry or "care" as you put it, about a portion of that posting fee being on their books for the duration of the deal. All that goes on the books is his annual 10MM (or whatever it ends up being) salary. HE DOES NOT COST THE CUBS 20MM PER YEAR. By the second or third year of his deal they will have recouped his posting fee (and then some if he really hits). At that point he will be one of their gains not their losses.

    Let me ask you something, Giffmo. Why do you think teams line up and submit bids in the tens of millions, upwards of 40 nowadays every time ANY Japanese pitcher is posted? Because its good business!!! Darvish is going to make the Rangers a killing by performing well above his pay grade!!! They paid 51 million for that right. They have probably already recouped that 51 million. Tanaka has this potential to be a boon for the Cubs.

    I have not used the term 'luxury tax' on this whole thread. I have not said its not 'real' money. I'm saying that not only is it SMART money, its actually a no-brainer. When you are talking about team revenue and media contracts that start with "B's", THIS KIND OF 50 MM COMMITMENT IS NOT THAT BIG OF A BLOW TO A MAJOR MARKET TEAM. PERIOD. Ideally, before his contract is half way done, they will have already made money on their 50MM posting fee investment and will be reaping financial rewards and be able to overpay in other areas of the roster because they're only paying this guy 10MM. And they can spend more money in other areas of the organization. Teams sign guys in this fashion because they are some of the most profitable players to have. I'm not pretending anything.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    DiceK went 18-3 when the 2007 Bosox won it all. No matter what his perps were, he had to pitch enough good games to win 18 games. I wouldnt call him a total bust, he just flamed out earlier than his contract. He had about 3 decent years there.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    With a 60 million dollar posting fee and a 6 year, 60 milliion dollar contract, it would cost the team 20 million dollars per year.

    The important thing is not what the pitcher actually gets, but what the team actually pays.

    The question is, is Tanaka a 20 million dollar per year pitcher?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Check out my reply to Giffmo above.

    They will have recouped the 60MM long before his contract is over in an ideal situation. If it wasn't good business, there would be never be anybody in line.

    People always use the logic of "he only costs money, we don't have to give up any prospects" when it comes to player acquisition. This is that logic on steroids. A posting fee is one of if not the easiest investments to overcome a club can possibly make.

    It doesn't cost 20 mm per year. It costs them 60 up front, and 10 per year. Its not the same thing.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    You have to take some calculated risks. There are only 5 or so likely players that are going to eat up a significant portion or the budget over the next 6 years, so they can afford to take that risk. If it works, you have a potential #1 pitcher at less than market cost. If he was not a risk, he would command even more. You just don't see #1 pitchers before their prime hitting the open market in today's game. Those that don't take risks will not drink champagne.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    They can afford it, but spending $100-$150 million on this player hinders their future spending. Whether it be signing free agents or other players. Maybe they don't extend Wood because they have so much tied into this guy. Maybe they don't go after that big bat they need because Tanaka got a huge contract.

    There's no such thing as a no risk player. That's the thing, we don't know if he's a #1 pitcher. Most scouts don't even see him as a #1. Most scouting reports you see has him as a #2 or #3. Can we all stop assuming he's going to be an ace? Chances are he doesn't become an ace. You spend that money if you know he's going to be an ace. The guys who do get the $100 million-$150 million actually have a track record of several seasons in MLB ball, not just dominating a league where the guy who just broke the single season HR record (59) wasn't even MLB quality as a back-up (15 career ML HR)

    Weren't the Cubs recently talking about cutting payroll? Or not raising the budget?

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I just don't see them having to spend much over the next 6 years. Maybe a few win/win type extension deals like we saw with Castro & Rizzo. Plus they'll have 2 increased revenue streams with renovations & a TV deal. Throw the savings at a chance to get an Ace entering his prime. Impact players, that's what I want.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I should have explained further, I don't know if this guy will be a #1, I agree with you there. But if the front office feels like he is, then that type of bid would make sense to me. Only the Cubs scouts matter, and I'm hoping they see him as an ace, throw 70 + M at him just to talk, & it all works out. If they lose the bid on him, I want to hear it's because they didn't think he was a 1, not because they didn't want to risk going too high.

    Also, I don't believe in the cutting payroll talk. In fact, that's exactly what I would want my team to say if they were about to make a substantial blind

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Potential ace. Most people see him as a #2 or #3. Why is he assumed to be an ace to everyone?

    Here's another Japanese pitcher to consider who fell on his face thus far besides great stats... Tsuyoshi Wada with his 1.51 ERA in Japan.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Scouts don't go off of stats when it comes to the NPB. They're going purely on trying to project how their stuff, command, and durability translates to the MLB.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I didn't mean to paint it that way, even since I read the Grantland article about Tanaka that's pretty much what they said, what you said, but they also mentioned Wada too.

    That being said, he's looked at as a #2/#3 then as a #1. It's hard enough to spend $100 million on a proven MLB player, much less a question mark.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    There's definitely a risk. There was a risk with Darvish. Most described him as a #2. There was risk with Hyun-Jin Ryu. I heard wide ranges on him from a #3 guy all the way to bullpen (though the guy I trust most liked him a lot and called him a #3). FWIW, he really likes Tanaka -- a lot. Doesn't think he's quite as good as Darvish but that he's very good. I also know others who like him a lot, one even believes he could be a #1. Consensus seems to be somewhere between Darvish and Ryu.

    Is he worth $100M? I don't know. I do think it matters that not all of that gets assigned to payroll, so that does take some of the sting away, but no doubt, $100M is $100M and there's always risk when you're talking about that kind of money.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe you can explain it better...

    What's the difference between paying Tanaka $50 million with a $50 million posting $100 million total.

    And paying Shark (or anyone) $100 million.

    I don't see any difference, you're spending $100 million either way. I could see it making a difference if the Cubs were flirting with the luxury tax to avoid penalties, but they aren't.

    I imagine Ricketts has some kind of baseball budget (for everything) he's willing to spend. To simply things lets say a nice round number of $100 million a season. Wouldn't spending $100 million on posting fee and the contract be the same thing as just spending $100 million on a contract. I expect the Cubs payroll to be lower than originally planned going into next season if they get Tanaka because they used a chunk of their resources on the posting fee. I'd hardly call $40+ million throw away money especially for a team that has shown they are reluctant to spend so much so soon.

    Anyone else feel free to chime in...

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I'm no accountant but it's just how the money is allocated. The posting fee can be considered an expense of doing business and not part of the payroll, so it likely wouldn't affect how they spent the money on other players in the future.

    And honestly, as fans, we don't need to worry about how the Cubs spend money unless it directly affects the payroll and how much they spend on the team. It's not like they can't afford it.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I will give you this...I'm not sold that he's a number one guy either. I will absolutely give you that there's more feeling that he's a 2 or 3. Any play for Tanaka involves risk. But they're never going to "have so much tied to this guy" as you say in the future. 8-10 million per year is affordable. They just gave Feldman and Baker around 6 each. They just gave EJax 13. They tried to give Anibal more than that. They went for Darvish. They went for Ryu. Were you against each one of those? How else do you think they want to spend? They'll still offer Travis Wood 5yrs 37MM and he'll still sign it in a New York minute! I don't think it would stop them from making Samardzija an offer either. Beyond that, who else are they going to give the money to to pitch for them? Garza? Kershaw? Bailey? Masterson? Scherzer (probably a true 100MM plus deal)? Who else is there to pay to pitch at the top of the rotation, Man? Who would you pay?

    I'll give you this too, Yemi...the posting fee part of the overall commitment will likely curtail any further expenditures THIS offseason. It will not hinder their ability or willingness to add payroll in the future. If they get him and he's pitching well and the team's stock is on the rise, they're going to raise payroll anyway. That's a lock.

    Even with the addition of Tanaka, the team's payroll is going to still be relatively low. There's a lot of cheap labor in the line up already and on the way. In the bullpen too.

    Clearly you seem to think this is a much riskier move than I do. Justin Verlander is going to make 28MM in 2015. Yu Darvish is going to make 10. If Tanaka can just get in the neighborhood of that kind of value, he's a tremendous success. I think he'll be in the neighborhood of a 3 starter right away with obvious room to grow. I DO think Darvish is the better pitcher but there's no denying the financial commitment will be similar, thus the comp.

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    In reply to Yemi:

    It wouldn't make him one of the 5-10 highest paid pitchers. In the example above, he would only be making $10M/yr. The posting fee goes to his Japanese team.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    I already addressed this is my post for the people I knew who were going to argue about petty semantics.

    Look above.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    *in my post

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Most of the talk on Tanaka is that the Yankees are going to spend outrageous money to win bidding on him. While they want to get under the $189 million salary cap, posting fees do not count against the cap. They also have Granderson, Rivera, Pettitte, a few others, possibly Cano, and likely ARod's (suspension) salaries coming off the books. That's around $80 million they suddenly have free, from what the NY papers are saying. With those resources, I would be surprised if the Cubs can outbid the Yankees if the Yankees really want Tanaka.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I agree with your message, Bobby but I don't think 85-100 is realistic. I do think this is a good time to overbid a little to be safer than the last two times. I think 60-65 million neighborhood is a more realistic ceiling. With exclusive negotiating rights, he's just as likely to sign a 6/55 as he is to sign a 6/65. What's he going to do, turn down his only offer? So I think they skew a little higher on the posting fee rather than the contract. I'd be more than okay if their bid ended up being 5 million more than the second place bid. I know the Yankees will employ the same strategy so it will get pricey.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Maybe that's why there is a cry out for a rule change that allows 3 teams to negotiate. Then a team like the Yankees would also need to concern themselves with the luxury tax as well. Right now the posting fee for the Yankees is just "throw away" money with no repercussions against the cap....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Its similar to "throw away" money for every big market/high outside revenue team. This is one of the arena's where a team can really flex its financial muscle.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Spending over half of a 25 man rosters salary for the right to talk to a player is not throw away money.

    You're treating the posting fee very lightly.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I was piggy backing on Bobby's use of the term "throw away money". I understand that its a lot of money.

    Its not the right to talk to a player. Its for the EXCLUSIVE NEGOTIATING RIGHTS TO SIGN THAT PLAYER TO A BARGAIN OF A DEAL BECAUSE THERE NO COMPETITION. He's a potential TOR guy who's going to be offered 4th starter money. And he's going to take it! Hence the 50MM one time fee is much more easily recouped if he pitches well and the Cubs win.

    John answered it for you above. Its not going to affect future payroll allocations and its not like the Cubs can't afford it. Its really not that big of a deal. If it was, why are they placing bids on Darvish and Ryu? I think you're treating it too heavily.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Technically he didn't answer it because he said he said was an accountant. It wasn't a clear answer either way. They placed bids but they weren't enough, I bet a lot of teams placed bids hoping for a shot in the dark to work. Just placing a bid doesn't mean the money doesn't mean much. I hope they're cautious like they were for those players. Let's say they did sign Yu, I don't think that saves them from 95+ losses either season.

    Is it exclusive? I've seen rumors that the new posting system will have the top three teams with the right to negotiate.

    For all we know the guy idolized Matsui and wants to come to the Yankees, if the Yankees are one of those three teams, assuming the new method is put to use, the price will be driven up. Rangers have money to spend too. And god forbid if the Dodgers are one of those three teams.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Also, under the three team posting system if the Rangers are one of the final three, how enticing is it to come pitch with Darvish? I don't know of any friendship between the two but it would be nice to go into a foreign country and have a guy like that on the team to help with the adjustment. I feel that's a big factor.

    Yankees are a worldwide brand, even moreso than the Cubs. The winning, tradition and even Kuroda (assuming he resigns) to help with the adjustment is very enticing also.

    Dodgers/Red Sox with winning and Ryu/the Japanese Red Sox relievers too.

    I guess the Cubs do have Fuji but will he even be around the team for the first couple of months? The Cubs would have to pony up extra cash. They're not going to get him at #4 starter money if those teams are in the mix.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    Okay. You don't like to be wrong and neither do I. You're tough. I've seen some of those rumors too but don't know for sure. I don't even know when we WILL know for sure. I've always commented under the assumption that it would be exclusive. If not, that's a bidding war and that's not great. I have to say that I still want them to participate in hopes of making my team better! He will not be signed for 4th starter money if there are multiple big market teams involved. You are right about that and I agree. If they get into a bidding war I hope they win the goddamn thing and hope he pitches well and we win ballgames. That's a lot of hoping. Being a Cubs fan is a lot of hoping. If it goes down like that, bidding war style, that really increases the risk. I realize that.

    Its funny that I've debated him so much with you and I don't even think he'll be a Cub. If I had to go to Vegas and lay it down, my money is on the Yankees. Boston will check too. The Angels are a backdoor team. Texas as you said, but I think they'll target Price first. Dodgers for me are not in on him, ahead of the Cubs anyway in my view. Too many financial question marks as it is and I think they'd target Price first as well.

    What's your stance on Kershaw getting 300?

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I think the Dodgers should offer him significantly less. Even if he were to say no and reach the open market I don't think another team could outbid them if they offered lets say $240 million. Then again, nothing wrong with keeping your star happy especially if you don't care about spending money.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Yes. He can turn down his only offer, because if he does, the posting fee is refunded and the bidding starts all over again. The next winner could offer more.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Okay, then I'll rephrase. If he wants to pitch in the major leagues in 2014 and beyond for 10MM a season, he'll take it. If he wants enter into a new contract with Rakuten or another NPB team for a fraction of that money for the next who knows how long until they decide to post him again, then he'll stay. The player doesn't just call and say, "Ok, I'm ready to be posted again! Thanks!" This is Japanese teams selling their stars to pay the bills much like the way Connie Mack did with the Philadelphia A's. Plain and simple.

    No real precedent or chance that he will turn down a contract that is probably ten times bigger one he can get in Japan. The highest paid player in Japan in 2012 made 5.46 MM. In 2012, Tanaka made 320 million yen (or 3.88 million dollars). What would you do, Dave?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    You don't understand that the Japanese team is selling him. THEY DO NOT WANT OR EXPECT HIM TO TURN DOWN A CONTRACT. THEY DON'T WANT TO GIVE THE MONEY BACK! This is business and they clearly have decided that they are going to try and sell this guy for as much as they can get. Do you think he would want to go back and pitch for a team that just tried to sell him?

  • What does that mean: "Residency issues?" My understanding is he had to be cleared by the Feds and MLB to be able to sign a contract, so what is the potential issue?

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    I just really brought this up to make a point guys. It's so easy for us to sit on a blog and say that the Cubs need to do this or they need to do that. But when you look at the real #'s of what this could cost the Cubs, you can really see why certain moves are made or not made.

    This isn't Monopoly money. Everything adds up. Over the past 2 years the FO has eaten alot of money in bad contracts as well as put a boatload of money into player development.

    I'd love to land Tanaka. But the Cubs aren't one #1 pitcher away from making their move. This rebuilding stuff stings! And there is no easy out for the decades of bad ownership that caved into each and every whim the fans wanted.

    One more year under .500 expected by me before this "non-linear" improvements start to take hold.......

  • If the Cubs do their homework and feel Tanaka has top starter stuff, I'm all for spending the money. They don't lose a top prospect this way and that in itself is worth more to me than trading for a veteran that could be 1 pitch away from a Tommy John injury.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    And Tanaka isn't 1 pitch away from Tommy John surgery either? What makes him different then your hypothetical pitcher?

    I'd rather spend 4 years/60-65 million on Garza, probably less than it would take to even talk to Tanaka. Garza is proven. We've seen what Matt could do. On his best day he is an ace. More often than not you're getting a solid #2 when he takes the mound and a veteran presence in the clubhouse, something else Tanaka doesn't bring but for half the price.

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    In reply to Yemi:

    I'm not trying to sound argumentive, but I think Garza's asking price will start with the 5yrs/$80 mil that Anibal Sanchez got. The two are the same age, and coming into this year, were very nearly statistically identical. I think 4/60 is a fantasy.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Could be.

    Sanchez starting his contract at age 28 and Garza at age 30 could tip the scales a little. Let's remember Anibal pitched really well in the playoffs in his contract year (20.1 IP 4 ER) while Garza limped to the finish for the Rangers. That's going to be taken into account as well.

    His asking price could start at that, Bourn's started at $100+ million last year, asking price doesn't mean anything.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I wouldn't hold my breath on the Cubs bringing Garza back.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just an example on how the money could be spent.

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    In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Why are so many pitchers "one pitch from Tommy John Surgery?" Are there a bunch of surgeons posting to these boards now? Just over 500 pitchers since 1974 (as of April 2013) have had TJ [source: Baseball Heat Maps], and that's counting minor league systems from Rookie Ball through the majors as well. While the frightening statistic may be that that means about 17 TJ surgeries per year, when you take into account the number of pitchers in professional baseball since 1974 that number is miniscule.

    Still, there are a number of other pitching-related injuries that are not TJ-related, such as torn rotator cuffs, or even worse, a torn labrum. Just stop throwing that phrase around because it is senseless. Every arm is different. For years I heard "Justin Verlander is one pitch away from Tommy John surgery." Still waiting.

    Every pitcher is one pitch away theoretically. They are also one step away from being hit by a speeding bus or one bad decision from an STD.

    But 99.9% of professional pitchers aren't really one pitch away.

  • Quick question: does anyone have difficulty posting here , while using Safari ? I'll be showed as logged into blog and it won't let me reply or post. Everything works if I connect via Chrome or through Twitter.

    More importantly, what impact does Freak signing have on any Shark negotiations? I can't imagine it helps. Though not apples to apples, it estabilishes a highe premium on SP in the market. If the Cubs are serious about Tanaka, you have to figure Shark gets shopped. There would/be lots of interested parties. Thoughts?

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    the only time i had trouble like that was when my CMOS battery was dead - maybe check that out.

  • Has your two day "vacation" convinced you to get a flu shot this year, John?

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    John I know your sources are high on AJ Hinch, and Kap's are not, but apparently Jesse Rogers isn't hearing good things in AZ either:

    Jesse Rogers (4:15 PM)
    I think AJ Hinch is losing least if you ask any scout out here...they arent fans of his..

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Scouts look at things in a different way than FOs. I don't know if Hinch is the favorite, but he was of one guy I talked to. Professor Parks liked him as well, though he's not employed by MLB -- but knows a lot of people who are. Hard for me to believe these guys can't find someone who likes Hinch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have talked to a ton of people they all like Hinch but not as an on the field manager.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I think AJ Hinch's better future is a a GM, not manager.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    That is what I have heard.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    I'm often amazed that Jesse Rogers has a job.

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    Call me an optimist, but I'm not ready to accept the Cubs definitely having another losing season in 2014. Nobody knows what is going to happen over the next several months, both in terms of a manager and players.

    Several teams have had seasons where they far exceeded expectations. The Red Sox went from worst to first, and the Indians won a wild card after being horrible. The Cubs did it several years ago, going from 66 to 85 wins.

    While it wouldn't surprise me to see another sub-.500 season, I believe this team isn't as far away as some believe. Unlike some, I have faith in this front office, and I believe they want to win as soon as possible. Maybe it'll be sooner rather than later.

  • In reply to Mike Ogulnick:

    A lot of things would have to go right. I am glad to see those things are going right in the minors but the big club still needs some work.

  • Dodgers getting involved in Tanaka...great

  • If he keeps his teeth clean, Tanaka could be a stop tarter in this league.

  • I just really have a hard time seeing us prevailing in any sort of bidding war for Tanaka. I'll say that if we were to post the winning bid, I'd be as excited about the long-term implications of that move , in terms of ownership's commitment to winning, as I would the on-field improvement.

    Unfortunately, I think we're looking at series of trades, maybe both big and small, to try and reconfigure the staff. I wouldn't be surprised to even see some more TJ/injury reclamation plays-G Floyd, Brett Anderson, Drabek are just a few random names off the top of my head. Lottery ticket approach for now-ala Arrieta.

  • Kevin, John, Anyone.... Not necessarily a player comparison for Tanaka; but where would he rank with other top RHP prospects? i.e.,

    Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, Jameson Taillon, Dillon Bundy, Mark Appel, etc?...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Some publications have Tanaka ranked #1 among those pitching prospects. Others have him 4th behind Bradley, Walker and Appel. As far as this year's draft crop, I saw him ranked 2nd behind Jeff Hoffman on, which is owned by Fox or NBC, now, not sure.

    Ben Badler also says "some scouts project [Tanaka] as a potential No. 2 starter who can immediately step into a major league rotation." That's really good, but that's not Darvish good. Darvish was considered a slam dunk ace. Someone who could come over to MLB and dominate right out of the gate, which is exactly what he has done. [Mike Axisa, River Ave. Blues via CBS Sports].

    More from the same article.........

    Tanaka is considered a notch below Darvish and Matsuzaka -- it sounds silly now, but Dice-K was the most dominant pitcher in Japan and considered a budding ace at the time he was posted -- and might not require a $100+ million commitment. At the same time, the league is flush with cash and there really isn't anywhere to spend it. Teams can't spend freely on the draft or international amateurs anymore, and free agency is weak because clubs are signing their best players to long-term extensions. The guys that do hit the open market often get overpaid, and a 24-year-old starter with Tanaka's track record sure seems like a great place to spend all that extra cash.

    The history of Japanese-born pitchers in MLB is a mixed bag at best. Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu were busts, Dice-K and Hideo Nomo started out very well before quickly fading, and Darvish is outstanding but has yet to complete his second full season. Kuroda is probably the most consistently good pitcher of the bunch, posting nothing but above-average seasons (career 119 ERA+) since arriving in 2008. No one really knows what to expect out of Tanaka when he comes over next year, but it's clear some team will spend a ton of money on him and expect high-end production in return.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I've read the online reports. I don't have any current subscriptions so I admit there's the possibility of some pertinent info out there on him that I haven't read. Opinions on him vary from true #1 to a #3. Opinions varied on Darvish as well. There was no consensus that he was a sure fire dominant ace as you eluded to.

    I haven't seen anything comparing him to current draft eligible or MiLB prospects. What are you using to form this opinion?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I did not allude to anything. Ben Badler of Baseball America did. I kind of respect his opinion. I have never seen Tanaka pitch so I cannot really allude to anything in that regard. As far as Darvish, it implies "consensus" and it also includes a caveat - he has limited MLB experience so far - and again, Mike Axisa is pretty reputable.

    I did make sure to source everybody in that post including for the ranking/slotting.

    I am not trying to diminish your thinking or reasoning but I have no idea what you base your assumptions or conclusions on Darvish or anybody. You asked a question, I gave you a cut & paste answer from a website. It is not an opinion of mine. Having not seen Tanaka pitch, I cannot formulate an opinion whatsoever and I cannot take any credit for an opinion I may formulate that actually belongs to somebody else.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    "That's really good, but that's not Darvish good. Darvish was considered a slam dunk ace."

    Since that wasn't in italic quotes like the rest, I assumed that was your opinion and not a copy & paste. My bad...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It's all good. I just know absolutely nothing about Tanaka other than he is 24, dominated Japanese baseball (what was his ERA, something like 1.25 with 20+ wins?) and he is about to be incredibly wealthy lol.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Here are some amazing things I can point out just looking at Tanaka's peripherals:

    He has issued only ONE intentional walk in four seasons, which means he stays out of troublesome innings and that when he does get in trouble, based on the number of batters he 's faced (3.86 per IP) it is usually in a favorable, probably 2-out situation so he just gets the next guy, no damage done.

    About the 3.86 batters faced per inning. That's Clayton Kershaw territory. Last season he walked 27 batters in 181 innings. So he goes after hitters and throws strikes consistently. He also averages nearly 8 innings per start. At 3.86 batters faced (plate appearances) per inning that means he only allows 5-6 base runners per start. That's crazy good too. Tanaka throws more sliders than fastballs so obviously he has excellent control of both pitches.

    Now the bad: His K/BB rate dropped considerably last year, by almost three. Considering he doesn't walk guys, that means his K-Rate dropped, which could mean lowered velocity or he is pitching to contact more often (more likely) to conserve pitches. Still 7.7 K/9 is well above average. But he does have excessive mileage -- see the next few paragraphs.

    This is from a scout I chat with frequently during fantasy baseball season. He is an independent and not affiliated with any organization.

    "The downside on Tanaka is that even at age 24, his arm already has a ton of miles on it. He threw 186.1 innings as an 18 year old, and has averaged 183.1 innings per season over his 7-year career. He has had a few 130+ pitch outings this year and like many Japanese aces, he threw a ridiculous amount of pitches as an amateur. You could say that means he is strong and that he is capable of handling an excessive workload."

    "However, Tanaka may not age as well as most 24 year old pitchers, and he is due for mileage regression (or injury) as fatigue catches up with his arm. Both scenarios are difficult to prove, but interested teams have to consider the limitations and downside with the projectable upside."

  • Tanaka fits the Cubs profile, but they are still a couple years away from overspending for that free agent that puts them over the top. I don't think that the FO will get too crazy on a posting fee. If the Yankees or Dodgers want Tanaka then one of them will get him. His worth will not be the their overriding consideration when using monopoly money.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    But he'll be in his prime when they are supposed to be competing and the only thing that makes this an overspend is the posting fee so this is actually the ideal time to go get a guy like him. Plus do we know if any other TOR options will be available?....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That makes good sense, but do the Dodgers and Yankees even have a ceiling.

  • Is it possible that in this situation no scout for a MLB team is going to say Tanaka is a #1 starter? Wouldn't that just drive the posting fee up for everybody?

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I think what a scout "says" and what he "knows" are two different things. You can call Tanaka whatever you want, but 30 lead scouts know exactly what he is and what his potential is and will post/bid accordingly. I think that the days of purposely lowballing a player's potential are long gone and pure folly. You have a value on a player and that is your floor. Where you go from there is your ceiling.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I remember hearing the same thing about Darvish too.

  • I am a little worried about Soler. Not in his physical tools or his ability as a baseball player. I am worried cause it seems like there is always reasons he is missing games whether it is an injury, anger management issues or residency issues. I hope issues do not always hang over his head.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    The young man is 21 years old and been in America for a whopping 15 months. Keith Law said he would have been a top 5 pick in the 2012 draft. Have some patience and let the kid develop his obvious skills.

  • I have been very patient with Soler and the Cubs in my lifetime. Not sure what top 5 pick in 2012 have to do with anything I said. I said I have no questions about his physical or baseball skill. It just seems like he has always a reason to miss games(legit reasons or not). Just hope this is a quick issue and he is back playing soon. I just don't want this to be a red flag about things to come.

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