Cubs Notes: Hoyer reiterates that the Cubs are sticking to the plan; Samardzija; minor signings; AFL

Cubs Notes:  Hoyer reiterates that the Cubs are sticking to the plan; Samardzija; minor signings; AFL

It's a rainy Sunday morning here outside of Chicago, time to take in some of the days news and notes.

UPDATE 8:44 PM:  Per Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish via Fox Sports Ken Rosentha, the Cubs have signed former Reds infield prospect Chris Valaika and have invited him to spring training. Valaika is a bat first player who sprays the ball to all fields but can be a bit over aggressive at the plate and chase balls out of the zone.  He shows some extra base pop and has the potential for average power.  He was drafted and developed as a SS but he's a below average defender there and is a better fit at 2B.

Also per Cotillo, the Cubs have also shown interest in infielder Chris Gutierrez and prefer to sign Samardzija rather than trade him.

Other Minor signings

There has been a few minor signings recently and we don't consider them anything but depth, so we've been holding off on the articles.  We know the Cubs signed Aaron Cunningham, an athletic solid defensive RH hitter with patience, a solid bat, and power potential, but who has yet to display that at the MLB level.  I think he's the Bryan Bogusevic of this year's crop and I expect him to compete with Josh Vitters and Junior Lake for a spot in the OF.  The Cubs currently have Bogusevic, Ryan Sweeney, and Nate Schierholtz in their OF -- all LH hitters, so the Cubs could use some RH complements, possibly to platoon with one or two of them.

The Cubs also signed former Yankee minor league infielder Walter Ibarra.  Ibarra's value lies in his versatility  He can switch-hit, he can run a little and most importantlu, he can play the middle infield positions well.  He's best known for his glovework.  He struggles getting on base, however, and adds nothing in terms of power.  He is almost certainly going to be minor league depth at Iowa but is a utility infielder candidate.

The Cubs signed another middle infielder in Jeudy Valdez who may be a bit more interesting.  Valdez played in the Padres organization and is something of a toolsy infielder.  He can run, having stole 34 bases in 2010 and 2011 and has enough pop to have hit double digit HRs in each of his last 4 seasons.  Valdez has had issues with pitch recognition.  He's also an athletic SS capable of making some flashy plays though he is also prone to making mistakes.  So you can picture the type of player we're talking about -- at times exciting, at times frustrating, but at no risk, it's worth seeing if he can put it together.

The most recent signing is Rangers AAA catcher and former Giants prospect Eli Whiteside.  Whiteside has some MLB experience with the Giants and has accumulated 537 PAs in his career, hitting .215/.275/.335.  Presumably he'll compete for the backup catcher spot but more likely will fill the departed J.C. Boscan's role as the emergency catcher at Iowa.

Staying the Course

We've been beating the drum here for the Cubs to stay the course and we're happy to hear that Jed Hoyer has confirmed via David Kaplan that this indeed will be the Cubs strategy.

"We will not hit the fast forward button on our plan simply because people are impatient," Hoyer said. "It will make it worth it in the end."

We expect Hoyer simply is referring to quick fixes that do not fit the long term plan and not that he doesn't intend to improve the team with the right free agent signings and/or through trades.  When I say right free agent signings, I would expect that the only significant pursuit would be Masahiro Tanaka and that many of the other pursuits will look very much like the ones we've seen the past 2 years.  We've listed out ideas in the following articles in the past, including this general one that focused on bullpen signings, interesting position players, and starting pitching candidates.

Jeff Samardzija negotiations

Yesterday we reminded you that the Cubs do indeed intend to try and re-sign Samardzija and that some industry believe that is the correct course of action.  David Kaplan tweets that the Cubs feel this way as well,

"We've had discussions with Samardzija because we like him and want to keep him," said Hoyer. "We'll see where things go. We like hearing he wants to be here."

We feel strongly here at Cub Den that the Cubs should re-sign him in absence of getting an absolute sure thing in return.  It seems very plausible that the Cubs would get a top 25 prospect in all of baseball as part of what should be an intriguing package, but we can't forget that Samardzija himself is a still, young, talented pitcher who has already proven he can dominate at times at the MLB level.  There is still work to be done and the main criticism I hear from scouts is simply that he needs to learn to reign it back and that he doesn't need to blow everyone away all the time.  Perhaps that would even help him improve his command in the process.

 

Solar Sox lose AFL title game

It was a good run for the Solar Sox but their bats suddenly went quiet in the final game as they lost the game 2-0, including Kris Bryant, who went 0-4.  Jorge Soler went 0 for 3 and did not play while Albert Almora sat out for precautionary reasons.

The most impressive performance was by Dallas Beeler who, despite taking the loss, went 5 strong innings, allowing just 2 hits and one run while walking one and striking out 5.  The one run, unfortunately, was all it took.

He's always been considered a sleeper here, but Beeler's strong performance in the AFL likely has put him on the radar around the league.  He has a 92-93 mph 2 seam fastball and a hard 87 mph slider that he complements with a mid to high 80s change-up.  So everything he throws is pretty hard.  One scout I talked to considers the fastball his only truly above average pitch and believes he has a good shot at the big leagues, but that it would likely be as a reliever.  It seems to me that the Cubs may consider him more than that, perhaps a back of the rotation type candidate and, at the very least, rotation depth in Iowa for next season.  It will be an interesting decision for the Cubs as they make their 40 man roster decisions.  If Beeler is not added, he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in Decemper.

 

 

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  • fb_avatar

    Kinda sad that the Cubs need to say publicly again they're not really doing anything different. Welcome to Cubs Nation.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I've written a few articles myself. I'm amazed that people believe it takes two years to rebuild an organization from top to bottom.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You can't turn a losing college basketball program into a quality winner typically in 2 years & you only need 5 guys that you can go out and recruit. Major League Baseball takes much longer...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not surprised that it is going to take 5-6 years to build the organization. The Organization shouldn't be surprised that I'm not going to pay premium ticket prices to watch them do it.

    2013 was the first time in 50 years that I failed to attend a game. I don't want to hear anything about "real fans" need to support their team. That's a lot of front office mumbo-jumbo...

  • In reply to xhooper:

    I wouldn't expect the FO to make moves that hurt the team long term just because they're afraid fans won't show up in the short term.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They could easily do a 4 year deal and it would not effect their long term plans really.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Depends on what kind of player...does he cost a draft pick? And where is he on the bell curve? Is he 32 and would help more in the short term? What if he helps you win 4-5 more games in the next two seasons and you drop out of the the top 10 in terms of draft picks? And if you're out of the top 10, maybe you don't have that protected pick right when you are ready to sign that big free agent.

    There are always potential long term consequences.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nor would I. The goal is be world champs. Not just .500. But being .500 is a short term way of putting fannies in the seats. Mine included. I agree that it makes no sense to chase big buck FA's like Elsburry, Choo, McCann. Wasted money for now. But it also makes zero sense to see them add guys like Ransom, McDonald, Ibarra, Whiteside, etc. Give me 5 more guys that play the game with enthusiasm like Schierholz, Bogusevic, Castillo. They can easily do that inexpensively. Do it and I'll be happy....temporarily.

  • In reply to xhooper:

    I agree with that. Find another Schierholtz, Sweeney or Bogusevic out there. Heck, find another Feldman or Maholm and maybe if the Cubs improve enough, they can actually keep them. Even find a guy who fits the long term plan, like Sanchez would have or like Tanaka would.

    As for those minor signings, they are just depth to be stashed at AAA. I think only Cunningham has a realistic shot of making the team. Maybe Whiteside as a backup, but I think they'll get an experienced backup catcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Last to first in one season is doable John....Rebuilding an entire organization needs bilateral committment from fans and owner alike. Fans are antsy cause who exactly are they paying to see play? Have the ticket prices gone down to be more in line with the product on the field? What is the tipping point where the team either brings up, buys or trades for talent, to be more competitive?

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    It's doable, but you don't have to dump the long term to win now and/or buy high on free agents to open short term windows.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Problem is that Cubs fans been patient since Ricketts bought the team since 2009. Going into this year is six years. Time to spend some money and put an competitive team on the field.

  • fb_avatar

    Except when you read Patrick Mooney and realize that the "clearly transparent" part of the plan involves moving the goalposts now by Theo and Co's own admission. So what really is the plan?

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    I think the general philosophy has stayed very much the same. They'll spend money in free agency 1) to supplement the talented youngsters coming through the system and 2) increasingly, as their revenues increase.

    The business plan has been pushed back, so #2 caused the free agent spending to maybe be pushed back. Personally, I think the way the talent is coming through that 2015 and 2016 were likely going to be the years where you started to see them spend anyway.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I agree, but what you've stated about the business plan...that's the problem.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    So are you asking for what their plan is to start the renovations?

    They've said they need an agreement from the rooftops not to sue before they start work.

    We're not going to hear a whole lot of details about the business plan because almost every piece of that involves a negotiation with an outside party. Renovations= rooftop owners. Media rights= Comcast, WGN, WGN Radio, others. Sponsorship cash= corporations. Publicly detailing much about their business plan in those areas could potentially shoot themselves in the foot with negotiations.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    That's really not the point though. We would have heard this in 2009-2010 had Ricketts gotten the ball moving earlier with respect to renovations or a move elsewhere. Instead, we're hearing about it in the last year or so.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    They've been working on the business plan from almost the minute they bought the team. In fact, the business plan took priority over the baseball plan for the first year. Delays in renovation are 100% tied to the political and rooftop situation being worse than they expected. Not sure how that happened -- it's like they've never dealt with Chicago politics before -- but they clearly weren't ready for it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's not true. They didn't develop an understanding of renovations and draw up blueprints for renovations or alternatives at least 2 years after buying the Cubs. Just no truth there.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    That's when they announced it. That didn't take a day to build.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    Oh, Mike, what are you saying here. That they shouldn't have researched things earlier as part of sound business plan. You know, you're right. They shouldn't have understood Chicago politics and its hindrances in 2013. They should have gotten a clearer picture back in 2010.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    Not doubting you, Lou. Just wondering how you know when the Ricketts family started researching what the best renovations for Wrigley would be?

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    I guess I don't know what you were looking for in '09-'10.

    "Here's what we're going to do. We're going to try and bilk the city of Chicago for all it's worth. If that doesn't work, we'll pay for it, but we're going to squeeze everyone else out that's making money off of us. When they try and sue, we'll have the city of Chicago put pressure on them until they break. We'll then only start the renovations if the rooftops agree not to sue. If they refuse to sign an agreement, we'll start talking to other towns to put even more pressure on the rooftops to sign an agreement."

    I guess I'm just not sure what you were looking for both then and now in terms of information about the plan.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Ummm... you're implying that the Ricketts purchased the team with no knowledge of the dire need to renovate the stadium from the moment they purchased it. You know, safety nets were not there before the purchase to keep concrete pieces from falling on people's heads. If you think that, wow--how clueless are they exactly???

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    I'm not sure what makes you think I implied that, I alluded to them trying to get the city of Chicago to pay for the renovations in the first sentence of my fictitious story.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    But how @TulaneCubs do you know your options unless they're well researched. I believe according to multiple reports of Wittenmeyer, Kaplan, 670theScore, and the Chicago Tribune that the Ricketts didn't do that research until sometime in 2011 or 2012 and then went public with it last summer/offseason. So, that's @Quedub when the process of investigation started IMO...sometime in 2011 not 2009 or before in 2008 when the Ricketts were considering purchase of the team.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    When did the Theo/Hoyer brain-trust ever put a specific time frame (in terms of years where it would 'happen') on the rebuild?

    The FACTs that they have built up the farm system, the Latin-American facilities, and their scouting corps - while cutting albatross contracts and setting the team up for the long run always seem to get ignored - at least in part.

    At some point - at least that is the assumption - the farm systems and the Latin-American inputs can be expected to pay dividends. When the first waves of the guys in the farm system start to make their appearances in 2015, and get established in subsequent years - the team gets better for the longer haul. Until then - hiring high-priced FAs just spackles over the holes.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I never said they had a specific timetable. They should have a timetable of 2016 with appearing in the postseason. That shouldn't be an unrealistic goal. Never said anything about the development of the farm system being a bad thing as a value judgement against them. Confused where this is coming from, but it's not unsurprising as an attack against anything "Theo." It's always one or the other. Don't sign any FA of any kind (whether it be Tanaka or otherwise) cuz we got a farm system to build here. It's not mutually exclusive as much as you're making it out to be.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    And that's not where I was coming from either Lou - as regards the FA signings. Although I am of the opinion that signing a 'big name' FA is premature. I would much rather see the Cubs spend the money at the moment is attempting to sign Shark, or alternately signing a couple more 'Feldman' or 'Maholm' types that can be kept (if things develop nicely) or flipped (if they don't). I would also love to see a serious play made on an incentive-laden contract to Baker.

    Nothing wrong with an intellegent FA signing or two. The idea of Ellisbury for a 4(ish) year contract has actually grown on me the last few weeks after reading some of the arguements that have been made here.

    I was referencing the 'moving the goalposts' part or your statement. As I don't think a specific timeline (other than that implied by the Theo 5-year contract) has been put 'out there' by the management.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I'm in this boat as well. I'm good with signing some FAs but they have to make sense for the long term as well as the short term. Tanaka is the best example of a big name FA who fits their timeline but I can see some other smaller signings that make sense. Ellsbury looks like an extreme long shot though.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to drkazmd65:

    It comes from Patrick Mooney's statement in his article: Where the Cubs had internally viewed 2015 as a breakthrough year last winter, now they are focusing more on 2016 in the big picture. Now, you could say--that's just a year. The problem is to me that the impression I got from fans, and through media articles written in 2012 , was that 2015 team was supposed to be a year of competitiveness. Maybe not playoff competitive, but competitive nonetheless. Now, it's 2016. I guess that's my problem, though, I shouldn't believe what I read anymore ;)

    Here's the link to that article: http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/starting-samardzija-cubs-will-be-position-make-deals

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    Whether the Cubs will make the playoffs in 2015 or 2016 no one knows right now. But it seems interesting that 2015/2016 is 4 to 5 years from when Theo arrived. He said it would take 4 to 5 years to get the Cubs organization to be a consistent playoff team and it looks like he will be right.

    My gut feeling it will be 2015. One reason I think this is at the end of this season Theo was giving an assessment of the organization. And he ended it by saying "the prospects are coming and they are coming fast". Sounded pretty encouraging to me.

  • Hoyer has a pretty sweet gig. If the team wins he's a genius, if (well...when) they lose he can continue to say they are staying the course.

    No need to sign a top free agent, not only would that not work towards a long term goal, that would just excite the fan base and real expectations will come. Stay the course.

  • In reply to d evans:

    Building an organization just to excite the fan base, now that's a formula for disaster.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Saw that formula not work for the last 50 plus years John. I agree with you, we finally have a plan. We finally have a minor league system to be excited about. Just need patience, good decisions, and some luck(sometimes some late round guys surprise and become stars).

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Exactly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't get why people aren't allowed to question the "plan". Six years to get it done is pretty long. What happens if it was 8, 10 or 12 years. Would it be OK to question it at that point?

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    Can question the plan, but why would anyone expect that overhauling an entire organization would take just 2 years?

    I suspect that once the Cubs win, we'll hear people credit the moves they happened to make the offseason before and most will ignore it took years to get to that point.

    And if you're going to question it, then suggest a better process and explain objectively why it would work. I haven't seen anyone make that kind of argument successfully.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There's a lot of time in between 2 and 6 years. Being allowed 6 years provides ample leeway for all sorts of imperfect decision making. Must be nice for ownership and the front office to have all those get out of jail free cards in their back pocket.

    I just can't get on board with you saying you've never heard someone put together any semblance of a better plan. That in itself means you think every decision made by the front office an ownership along the way has been perfect. That's impossible.

    And of course people will get back on the band wagon when the Cubs get better, as a) there really is nowhere but up to go but up and b) they're Cubs fans, so they should. However, that doesn't mean they can't question the front offices decisions. Continually suggesting people shouldn't be doing that is stating the Cubs front office is beyond reproach, which is something I can not agree with, even at the most basic level.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    I haven't said decisions shouldn't be questioned. They certainly aren't perfect. But I have a hard time thinking of anyone who has publicly suggested a better process for rebuilding this team. Mistakes are going to be made, but to build for sustainable success you make decisions based on statistical analysis, finding market inefficiencies, and erring on the side of long term. I'm completely on board with that. I'm not not on board with every decision they've made within that process, but I'm on board with the process itself.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    By continually saying people need to get on board with the plan, you are in essence telling them to shut up and rank and file with the rest of em. That to me is saying that people shouldn't question the front office.

    As for having a better plan. This front office collectively gets paid top dollar. Combine that with a large market and people's expectations should be lofty. Not the same the Astros or Twins front offices are afforded.

    Now, if someone were to angle their argument more clearly that the front office is truly handcuffed by ownership, than I'm much more willing to agree that they should have a longer time frame. Maybe not 6 years.

    Also, where did I say it should be done in 2 years?

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    It seems to me you are following the rank and file mantra of the dissenting group. That's the same old stuff we hear all the time from those who think the Cubs should spend. It's a results-based plan with no regard with specific process how to get there.

    There is no semblance of any type of coherent process other than to spend money without regard to how and when they should spend it. It doesn't address market inefficiencies. It doesn't take historical trends and statistical probabilities into account. There is no objective measurement of projected value. That is my problem and none of what you say addresses it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Monkey Shines:

    Actually, I think you're more right than John is here. John's using an argument of recency bias and polarity to try to demonstrate a point which you and I apparently don't want, but which John feels we should.

    I see this by his response of "It doesn't take historical trends and statistical probabilities into account." Well, let's think about that. What is John and the rank and file saying? They're saying nothing of the kind of thing most of us are saying. They feel that the only way to counter FA spending arguments or trade and sign arguments is to retrace back 2007. If we're to look at historical trends with respect to the Cubs over the past 25-30, we would see the Cubs historically operated as they did from 2007-2009 in.....2007-2009. So, the smallest of percentages should be believed for how not to operate the Cubs, when the Tribune Company did not operate this way but less than 5% of the time over the past 30 years? In fact, it's probably more the case the Tribune Company was stagnant both on the FA market and in the farm system and content to remain below .500. Otherwise, they would spent like crazy most of those last 30 years to build a winner, however short term it would be, using John's false analogy to what the Cubs have erroneously done to win.

    John is also contradicting himself. Using the argument that the cupboard is bare on the MLB roster to go after any one particular FA, John is suggesting that cupboard is indeed devoid of the "statistically probable" ingredients that win championships. You need high output from key positions like SS, 2b, CF to get to play playoff baseball. If not, Bill James would have ranked these offensive position in terms of their offensive output performance. Also, you need proven dominant TOR to go deep once you get there.

    However, that apparently (at least to some) is not the case entirely with the Cubs. If it were, John would not be opposed to trading players like Shark or Castro.

    Sure, nobody's perfect. But when John and others are conceiving Theo and Co's plan as close to perfect, they become the ones who hold up that plan to criticisms of perfection.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Getting a guy later in the draft who turns into a star (e.g., Allen Craig) is more than just luck. The Cardinals aren't just lucky. They have scouted and developed better than every other team over the last decade, and that's how they've produced All Stars without the luxury of having Top 5 overall picks.

    I'm all for Top 5 picks for the Cubs right now, because they have a better chance of becoming impact players than players drafted in the 20s. But when we get to that point (drafting in the 20s), our scouting and development departments better be up to snuff so we continue to produce talent throughout the draft and sustain our talent pipeline, as the Cardinals (and others) have done so well.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    There is always some luck involved when you draft later because you never get the guys who are are at the top of your list. Sometimes guys fall, like Miller, Wacha and Wong. By all accounts they should have been taken earlier. They're good, but they've been lucky too.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I absolutely agree that luck is involved, but I honestly believe it's a far less important factor than people (especially Cubs' fans) give it credit. To give luck too much credit is to take away from the good teams' (Cardinals, Red Sox, others) scouting and development departments. The Cubs haven't missed on drafts for so long mainly due to luck. It's been because our scouting and development have been terrible. If luck was a significant factor, then there would be more moments of the Cardinals (for example) missing, and year-in-year-out, they hit at least once in every draft.

    And to Lou's point, I'm not just wanting to emulate the Cardinals. I acknowledge them, because they're the best. But the Red Sox, Braves, and Rangers have also been doing it exceptionally well.

    Build up the scouting and development departments. Don't rely on luck. The opposite model gives you Hayden Simpson.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Nobody is saying rely on luck. Nobody talks about scouting and development more than we do. Just that to say you can draft anywhere and do just as well or better isn't really true. Evidence shows teams who pick higher do better. I hope the Cubs can sustain some success as they get better and draft lower, but that's not reason to add meaningless wins in the present.

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    In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Over the past decade...try over the past four decades. They've in essence been a model franchise for as long as I can remember. Through this long process of development, now there's a team that developed a model of "perfection" because they were to able to perfect how to do this, and fix the bugs in the system so to speak. To expect the Cubs to emulate the Cardinals lock and step (as an ever-growing Cubs fanbase would like them to do) is crazy. Especially in 7-10 years.

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    In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    John,

    I know you're not saying rely on luck. I'm not disagreeing with you, just conversing. We're in vast agreement across the board.

    I know you need some luck, but I feel that some Cubs fans give it too much credit. You can't choose where your non-Top5 pick All Star will be drafted, but you can draft a bunch of guys throughout the first 15 or so rounds that fit your model (and you maximize this effort by scouting well) and then develop them all to your organizational philosophy. And then if that happens, probability suggests that one or more from each draft will click. That's what I feel the Cardinals and others do so well.

    But you're absolutely right in that Top 5 draft picks have a much higher success rate of both reaching the majors and becoming impact players.

    A little math I did back in June tells us that from 1997 to 2010, 80% of Top 5 draft picks have made MLB, while 34% have become All Stars. In that same period, 64 % of picks drafted #21-25 overall have made MLB, while 11% have become All Stars. And also in that same period, only 43% of picks drafted #26-30 have made MLB, while just 3% have become All Stars.

    So yes, higher picks have higher success rates.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I think it may end up being even more true with this new CBA. I agree that scouting will continue to be huge once the Cubs win and they're picking late in the draft. And I'm really looking forward to the day they do pick late year after year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Totally agree. I envy having job security and having to show minimal results on the major league level.

  • In reply to d evans:

    You know that any GM can take a blank checkbook and try to make superficial short term improvements that do nothing for the ability to sustain success long term, right? Throw money at the problem and hope for the best without regard to improving the organization as a whole.

    You seem to have no inclination to want to build a strong organization. You just want superficial results with no regard to process. I envy anyone who has a job where they don't need to be bothered with the hard work and creativity involved to build something meaningful and long term.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I said in my first post that signing a top free agent wouldn't work towards a long term goal, I don't know what you're talking about.

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    In reply to d evans:

    Okay, I'm officially confused. Without sarcasm, what's your point?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm envious that Hoyer job has security without having to field a good major league team. That's it.

    Kinda like how I work closely with my bosses nephew, he has that same security, it's something I wish I had.

    Apparently that means I'm anti-rebuild.

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    In reply to d evans:

    Okay, assuming you mean that straight, you are incorrect. There is significant pressure for this team to get better. If Rizzo and Castro and, soon, Bryant and Baez don't play up to expectations, Epstein, Hoyer, et. al. will all be looking for another job.

  • In reply to d evans:

    That conveniently ignores the tremendous improvements they've done to the organization as a whole. Hoyer was brought in to build a stronger organization from the bottom up, not to give impatient fans a few meaningless extra wins in the short term. You can hire Jim Hendry back if you want to do that.

  • In reply to d evans:

    I meant in the near future, like 2014 can be a throwaway season and no heat will be on him. People will be applauding the high draft pick.

    Of course he will eventually face some heat in the upcoming years, you couldn't really think I meant it was job security forever.

  • In reply to d evans:

    If you've been following this blog for awhile, you would know that I am very much against intentionally tanking seasons for draft picks. If the team is out of the race by the trade deadline, however, and are already out of contention, then I think they should trade off any players who only give them short term value, as with Garza last year. If that results in a higher pick, then so be it, but there is no use to hanging on to guys who only get you meaningless wins in August and September.

    You make the assumption that they don't try to improve the team, which is false. They try and they did improve the team. We were talking about a team that was 48-55 in late July with virtually no help from their bullpen, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo, and with Matt Garza missing most of the first half. If the Cubs had all those components, you don't think the team would have been .500 or better? Do you think that would have been an accident?

    I think you're confusing selling off short term wins at the deadline vs. selling them off at the beginning of the season. I'm all for the former and very much against the latter.

  • In reply to d evans:

    Thank god I don't want to do that so no need for Hendry.

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    In reply to d evans:

    That's how you said it. And if that isn't how you meant it, the bosses nephew reference is irrelevant. He can NEVER be fired because the relationship will always hold. The good major league team will need to be on the field, sooner rather than later.

    And if both Castro and Rizzo regress again this year, the seats might get a lot hotter than you think.

  • In reply to d evans:

    I think I'm a little more qualified to speak on what I meant. You just had trouble understanding.

    This is why a lot of people just read and don't comment or take awhile to finally comment. For all of the positives there are certain people on here just love to look for an argument when there's no argument to be made.

    Now go tell me to go to. Bleed Cubbie Blue if I don't like it.

    And the nephew can definitely can be fired, he's in an important position that can be effed up. My boss isn't going to let his company go to the ground for the sake of pleasing his sisters son. But yeah, you probably know more about that then me, right?

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    In reply to d evans:

    I'm back to literally having no idea what you're trying to say.

  • In reply to d evans:

    Again, I'm in agreement with everything you said.

  • In reply to d evans:

    My last post was about John.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nah, I really haven't said anywhere to just start blowing money left and right. That appears to be the generic stock response for the Plan super backers. And I've never said I don't agree with a rebuild plan, even an extended one. I do however think theres a massive middle ground between 2 and 6 years that largely appears to get ignored.

    I really do think that with the right amount of spending, the right decision making, some ballsy decisions (thus rebuild has almost been risk free so far-Concepcion and Solar, that's it--again, this refusal to risk funds could be from owneship) and creativity that this could have been done in 4 years. Instead, recent cryptic like comments now suggest 2016 at the target year. That's really disappointing.

    What does irk and bewilder me is why it's totally acceptable to spend near the bare minimum, somehow acting one when/if all these youngster arrive, that a few key free agent signings are going to fill up the payroll. The young guys will be dirt cheap for years and years. Even if you have 3 15-20 contracts on the team come time to compete, there should still be room for 2 more of the same to round out the squad.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    The question people who disagree with you are asking is....name one or moves that you think should be made. Don't just state "few key free agent signings", but state who you would target and what you would give them. Would you give up draft picks for your signings? Would these signings make us a .500 club, in your opinion? A contending club?

    Just saying take risks and sign players is nice, but really doesn't given much credence that you are doing anything other than what John said, which is criticizing without a counterproposal.

    From my perspective, I don't want to give up any draft pick for signings that do not make us playoff contenders. On that same line, and even more importantly, I don't want to trade top prospects for players that do not make us contenders, particularly if those prospects are on the other side of 30 and/or are long term contracts that likely will be an overpayment in the second half of the deal.

    I am the extreme opposite of your thoughts, in that I personally want to trade Jeff S. and get nothing but minor league help, then sign Johnson and Kazmir and hope they are good midseason trade bait. There is no benefit in my opinion to having a veteran team that is good enough to have a draft pick in the mid-teens but doesn't contend for the playoffs. I want one of (1) contending for a playoff spot, (2) having a young team that is developing or (3) trading veterans to get some young talent.

    I cringe at the thought of the Cubs doing things people request here....if we sign Ellsbury or Choo to long contracts and trade top prospects to get Price and sign him long term, then what happens? We don't make the playoffs in 2014 (but get a worse draft pick), lose some prospects for 2015+ that minimize our chances of developing into a consistent power and have financial constraints due to two long-term contracts that minimize our ability to make further steps later. Why? So some fans can be excited that we go .500 in our home games? If you have better answer to why?, let me know. All I hear is spend more money because we can, take risks because we are a big market team, etc. I'd rather lose 90+ games 5 years in a row while rebuilding a terrible system and then win 90+ games the next five years than go 81-81 for 10 straight years. I believe the Cubs plan is the best chance to get us to the former and your option (to the extent I understand it without any details) increases the likelihood of the latter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, but don't just ignor the fans either. Big mistake to act as though Cub fans opinion doesn't matter.

  • In reply to JOCK231:

    It's a big mistake to listen to fan's opinions on baseball matters. As a front office, you build the team according to your trusted process and expertise, and the tons more info and data you have at your disposal than fans do. There's a saying in baseball: "Those who listen to the fans will soon be sitting with them."

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I've been a cub fan for along,long time and this is the best our farm system has ever looked. Nobody going to agree with every move the fo makes but I believe in these guys. I'm looking foward to a good season and I love the way this team is being built.

  • Is it just me or everything that is being said on both sides on the Samardzija saga. Sound Iike what was being said about Garza.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Stunningly similar. Hopefully a better outcome.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Except Garza was about Samardzija's age at the beginning of the rebuilding process. Timeline with Samardzija fits better.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You are correct. And, with Shark, the best outcome actually is an extension. My hope is just that we wind up trading more than 2 months of Jeff Samardzija if we are, in fact, forced to trade him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And I'm not saying they will or won't trade Samardzija, but I do think it's a different situation. The thing is they should be able to get a lot more for Samardzija, so that is a consideration.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They are only a year apart.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    A year in age, plus two more years in cost control, not to mention that Samardzija is healthier and has half the MLB innings on his arm and pitched a lot less as an amateur too. He just fits better on their timeline. Of course, that's moot if they can't sign him to a deal that they believe gives them value.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The fact that the old FO gave him a NTC really hurt the current FO.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Possibly. I think he's willing to be reasonable though. He did take a pay cut in 2012 and no pay raise last year, so it does seem like he's willing to give a little.

    I don't know the full story behind the NTC request, that's between Samardzija and the Cubs, but I think he'd be willing to give that up if he got something in return. He's shown himself to be a loyal guy that wants to stay with the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would much prefer to see the Cubs hold onto Samardzija - IF they can get a mutually acceptible contract hammered out.

    I think that he has a role - and a significant one - to play on Cubs teams come the 'more successful' years to come c2015, 2016 and beyond.

    But only on good terms. Wonder IF he and the front office could worl out a contract with some sort of limited no-trade contract? I mean - like a trade could be made - but he would be given a 'trading bonus' if he were to be traded,.... or maybe a NTC for the first 2 years of that contract,.... or something.

    Reasonable people with overlapping long-term goals should be able to work something out.,,

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I was thinking about something like that as a compromise, especially the trading bonus.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    No. See it exactly this way. I just hope he doesn't get injured while they're waiting to decide what to do with him. Also, I hope we don't find out next year during the season that they got a package involving a TOR ranked in the top 25 prospects. Then we find out Theo rejected the offer hoping upon hope that Shark would take their offer.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    I think they give him one last shot.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Problem is they've been at this since last offseason. Better mover quickly.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Very much so I think.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Similar, but I never got the sense they were going to stick with Garza long term. It was also earlier in the process.

    I think if they can sign Samardzija, they will. I don't believe they were nearly as motivated to sign Garza.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think its more up to Samardzija on whether he gets signed then the Cubs.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    If they take the NTC off the table, I think it can still get done. I agree with you that the two sides will give it another shot, but there needs to be movement soon.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You can see where Jeff is coming from, though. In his mind, he's taking a hometown discount to stay in a situation he likes. Given what pitchers are looking for this offseason, he may well be right that he's being asked to take under market value. He doesn't want to sign a sweetheart deal with the Cubs, only to be flipped to another team in two years. The Starlin Castro rumors -- whether true or not -- can't be helping this situation.

    I think the Cubs are right to insist on no NTC. On the other hand, that may torpedo the deal.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't see him doing a Hometown discount.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I can definitely see where both sides are coming from on this. Each side is going to have to give up something.

    Wonder if an EJax signing where he gets a lot of money up front works. It makes him much more difficult to trade for that first year and by then maybe the Cubs and Samardzija have a better idea of the direction of team and whether Samardzija's timeline fits.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Shark is much healthier commodity than Garza. If Shark eliminates no trade clause, would love to keep him.

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    I'd be careful throwing around the "eh it's just depth, nothing special" on Aaron Cunningham, John. You said the exact same thing about Ryan Sweeney when we signed him, now you like him a lot. Shows that the Arguello 3000 isn't right ALL the time lol kidding

    In all seriousness though, I'd like to see what we have in guys like Lake, Vitters, Watkins, Jackson etc. The ship might have sailed on their top prospect status but I think in the right situation they could still help this team. Run em out there and see what they give you.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'd pass on seeing Vitters and Jackson, they can't even cut it in the minors. Dead weight to me at this point.

  • In reply to d evans:

    I think you need to familiarize yourself with minor league statistics. Vitters definitely "cut it" in the minors. What he had trouble doing was staying healthy.

    It costs the Cubs nothing to allow Vitters and Jackson to come to spring training. I wouldn't pass on seeing them at all. I don't expect much out of them, but I do think Vitters has a shot to surprise as a RH reserve LFer.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    And trouble staying healthy, and...being consistent, and...playing defense, he has many issues.

  • In reply to d evans:

    True. He's not perfect. Of course, I already mentioned the health issues he incurred last year, but you may restate it if it makes your thin argument look a little more formidable. Being consistent? Name a player that is consistent that isn't a superstar. Rizzo was inconsistent last year. Do you want to cut him too? Where are you pulling these necessary qualities out from? Yes, he did have trouble playing above average defense at 3B which is why the Cubs moved him to LF. Perhaps you didn't hear. But he did hit and hit very well in the minors last season. And, in my book, he is definitely worth allowing to run around the field this spring and find out if he can play LF and hit enough to contribute to this team.

    But no, you're right, D. The Cubs should just let him walk away. He's got no chance of being useful. In fact the Cubs aren't looking for right-handed hitting OFers. Nor are they looking to give opportunities for talented, controllable assets to succeed at the major league level and create value. They should just let their cynicism take over when evaluating players.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Cut him too? I never said I wanted to cut Vitters.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    By the way I'd say Castillo was very consistent last year, I wouldn't call him a superstar. So your theory was just shredded.

  • In reply to d evans:

    Castillo had a .677 OPS first half and an .863 OPS 2nd half and it fluctuated month by month: .766, .602, .653, .826, .715, 1.034. I don't know if I would call him very consistent. He's still young but he does seem like he's on the right track.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Vitters success hitting in AAA has made him an encouraging possibility as a RH backup or platoon corner outfielder. Depending on offseason transactions, I don't think it is out of the question that the cubs will remove Jackson from the 40 man roster before spring training.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Sweeney was more accomplished at the MLB level than Cunningham.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Agreed. Remember, these guys really focus on two month increments. The starting pitching has been good the past two years in the first half. Get a really strong bullpen and the team could compete. I'm not saying get excited-I'm just saying that with improvements in the offense, we could improve quickly.

    As for Shark-if we buy tomorrow for today and haul Archie Bradley-then you have to do it.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I root for Vitters, Watson and those guys as well. Hope Vitters is on a great off season conditioning program getting stronger. He can swing a bat.

  • What would be the timeline on getting something done with Shark? I'd think it would be 2-3 weeks before winter meetings. If no significant progress made in that period, you have to think he's gone.

    As far as "staying the course", will we be justified in being pissed if we lose out to NYY on Tanaka. Wasn't the Epstoyer position always that $ isn't/won't be an issue for the "right" player. Don't we all agree Tanaka is the "right" player and we're gonna hear about deep Yankee pockets as reason we lose out?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Yes and no. If they Yankees or Dodgers make a bid that's way above and beyond what everyone else bids than I think that goes with the territory.

    We always generically call the Cubs a big market, but the Cubs arenot nearly as big right now as those two when you consider TV money. The Cubs outbidding NY/LA is almost like a mid-market team outbidding the Cubs. It'd be a big upset.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Has he waved his desire for a no trade clause?

  • I like signing low key low price released young players and hope
    some can help us. That is why I think selecting someone in the
    Rule V draft is important. Also trade Jeff with either Nate or
    Barney for the best package of top pitching prospects

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Barney isnt Going to get anything

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Remember we had Josh Hamilton in the rule 5 draft and let him go to another team...

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    It was a pre-arranged deal that any team could have made with the Cubs.

    Hamilton hadn't played for basically 3 years and had just 55 ABs in short season ball when he was picked. The Cubs had just spent a ton in free agency to try and contend for 2007 (which they did). They didn't have roster room

    Nobody knew he was going to be that good.. Of all the teams in MLB, only the Reds were willing to pay even a small price to get him. The irony is that the only possible way the Cubs would have kept him was if they would have just tried rebuilding instead of buying a contender that had a two year window.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I knew it was prearranged and the history of Josh, but if you are going to gamble on a Rule 5....he would have been the one. Wow did he do well for the Rangers.

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    In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    The story I've heard there is that Hendry was being a good guy -- which he absolutely was. A reputation as a decent human being in an industry filled with personable extroverts. Hamilton had connections in the Reds organization who were more concerned with saving his life than baseball at that point. The Cubs had an early pick, and so it guaranteed that he would go to the Reds if they picked him. That he managed to put it together was almost a bonus.

    May not be true, but I like to think it was. It certainly fits the known evidence.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I could see Hendry doing that. The Cubs were at a time when they couldn't carry him on the roster, didn't have a support system in place for him. They had no plans to take a guy who had basically been out of baseball. I'm not sure he could have succeeded anywhere but Cincy because nobody else had the combination of support and opportunity for him.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Emart, no offense, but I doubt anybody would take Barney in a trade because he is arbitration eligible and is more likely a non-tender candidate than a trade candidate. After last season, he's looked at no differently than Andres Blanco or any number of slick fielding guys who can't hit a lick. Nobody outside of Cubs fans gives a darn that for the first six weeks of the 2011 season, Barney knew how to hit.

  • Barney is a legit non-tender candidate. He has zero trade value right now. Schierholz has non-zero trade value but his performance over last couple months didn't do his value any favors.

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    So here's how we win right away:

    Sell the team back to the Tribune Company.
    Trade Baez, Castillo, Johnson, and Amaya to the Rays for the David Price.
    Almora, Edwards, Alcantara, and Vogelbach to the Tigers for Scherzer.
    Sign Ellsbury (no longer blocking Almora) to a 6 year $100 million contract.
    Sign Cano to 8/225
    Sign McCann 5/75
    Sign Nelson Cruz 4/60
    Trade PTBNL (Bryant) and Blackburn to the Padres for Chase Headley.
    Trade Soler, Olt, and Vizcaino for the best left fielder that will get us.

    That's a pretty good team. And, if they don't win next year, we can always start collecting draft picks again and plan another run the second the Ellsbury/Cano contracts come off the books.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Let's not nuke the debate. I don't think I have seen anyone suggest what you are suggesting.

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    In reply to GoCubs:

    It's actually making a point. The only way to get enough impact talent to make the team competitive next year is by going on a sign and trade frenzy like the Blue Jays did last year. One or two moves does nothing for us -- we just don't have enough talent to start with.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. A big move would be Tanaka. That makes sense because it's also a long term move. But don't get why Cubs should make even one or two costly short term moves.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Tanaka is huge. We may not get him, but every dime they can possibly scrape together has to be in that bid. I will be very disappointed if they make a token offer.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I really wish they would have gone a bit over on Ryu -- even though he's not as good as Tanaka. They made more than a token offer on that one, but it was going to take an overbid to sign him, just like with Darvish and just like i twill be with Tanaka.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think that's too big of a package for Scherzer. Could probably remove Edwards and they'd still take it.

  • In reply to d evans:

    He was being sarcastic and the Cubs wouldn't make that trade with or without Edwards.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was answering his sarcastic post with sarcasm. Why should he get to be the only one to have fun? ;)

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    In reply to d evans:

    My larger point stands even if we keep Edwards. To be competitive next year, we would have to strip the farm system and make huge, long term commitments -- which would hamper us badly for the foreseeable future if we don't win next year.

    Believe me, I think that team could contend. But baseball relies on so many things, it may not happen. And if it doesn't, you've really, really hurt yourself long term.

    So, with that being the cost of competing next year, what, really, is the point of signing one or two more excellent players?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    "huge, long term commitments"--been there, done that...Let's not do it again. :)

  • I have followed the Cubs since '58 and am well aware I may never see a pennant let alone a Championship but I think the improvement in the farm system during this FO's tenure has me content that good progress has been made in relatively short time. I have lived "wait till next year" a lot of times but I DO accept that more patience is required.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Roe Skidmore and I agree with you.

    With age and experience comes patience and a long-term view.

  • In reply to Jim Hickman:

    Wisdom!

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    One thing needs to be made clear. If you think the frustration from Cub fans is from them just not spending crazy on free agents, then you don't understand the frustration. Most fans didn't expect the team to be competitive the last couple years. The first year was a gimme. Last year, we didn't expect to compete or be playoff worthy. We expected progress. We expected improvement. While the minor leagues have improved greatly, the major league team has declined the same amount. This is a zero sum game right now. That simply is not good enough.

    This is why Sveum was fired. Not because it was to appease fans. It was because you can't afford another year of regression from what is our foundation....namely Castro and Rizzo. It is quite ridiculous for anyone to make statements that most Cub fans want mindless spending to begin again. This is just false. We want improvement on both sides of the field. Our farm is finally start to become better. But judgement is left to progress as a whole.

  • In reply to the real alman:

    I think there are a lot of liberties being taken here with what you think we are saying here. We don't think "most" fans want to go on a spending spree. And those who do would never call the spending mindless. They would argue that it would improve the team.

    It's equally "ridiculous" to say those in favor of a rebuild don't want to see improvement. What we don't want to see is improvement that sacrifices the long term goal. That is a huge difference.

    What moves would you have them make?

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    In reply to the real alman:

    This was a 71-91 team in 2011, the final year of the Hendry regime. Last year, they were 66-96. Five games better than in 2012. How can you say the major league team has declined to the same amount the farm has improved?

    I do agree that Sveum was fired as a means of damage control. Most notably, the regression of Castro's performance.

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    In reply to the real alman:

    I'm kind of confused by the argument, because you say the frustration was based on the regression of Castro and Rizzo. I don't think there's a Cub fan in the country that wasn't frustrated by that -- except those who favored Price over Rizzo to begin with, who felt somewhat vindicated.

    But the frustration that I'm seeing is manifesting itself in calls to sign free agents to improve that major league club. That doesn't seem to improve Rizzo and Castro in any way.

  • Speaking for myself, if sound seem/frustrated it isn't because I think they should be concerned about '14. If they win 70 games; get a high draft pick; get a glimpse of the B & B boys at the ML level; and maybe see some development out of a couple SPs(Arrieta ?, Hendricks) , I'll be frigging thrilled. My concern, which I hope is unwarranted, is that Ricketts & co aren't going to spend any significant $ in big-league club until they have their "new" revenues in hand. Signing Tanaka would be accretive to their long-term goals AND illustrate to their fans that the vast financial resources of the Ricketts Family and the Chicago Cubs org will be put to use, when appropriate.

  • Is it too late for Dallas Beeler to learn an off-speed pitch? Or at least a splitter?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I think he already has both...Needs to refine.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    The change is a splitter. I just use the terms broadly when I'm summarizing and not making a detailed analysis.

  • YOU TELL EM JED! stay the course!

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    I haven't heard word one about concepcion all year - is there any hope of salvaging him? Even as a trade thrown-in? I don't even know what level he's at right now.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    To young to give up on

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    In reply to SKMD:

    It seems more and more likely he was about greasing the skids for Soler. So, to that extent, it worked brilliantly.

  • Limited reports that came out on him earlier in the season were uniformly bad- no velocity, unspectacular secondary offerings. You win some, you lose some.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    He also suffered from mono, which can take months to recover from. he hadn't built his arm strength up or had a chance to refine anything. If he stinks next year, we'll chalk it up as a loss, but like emart, I think it's too soon to write him off

  • Wasn't mono Hayden Simpson's problem, also?

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    He had mono, yes. Everyone has certainly blamed his decline on it. It seems like a stretch to me, but I'm not a doctor. Nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's not the only cub prospect to get side tracked by mono, Concepcion as well. I don't know if the Cubs have a skankier fan-base than other teams, but if these tramps were real Cubs fans, they'd start spreading mono around the Cards camp.

  • "We feel strongly here at Cub Den that the Cubs should re-sign him in absence of getting an absolute sure thing in return."

    For the right price, of course. If the sides are so far apart that they can get better value in a trade than in an extension, that's the way to go. That's the way it seems to be leaning with Hoyer's comment that it's nice to hear that Samardzija wants to stay (presumably because they hadn't heard that before) and Samardzija answering when asked if he wants to be a Cub for life, that he wants to be a winner for life. Could all be posturing, so hard to tell with this stuff, but doesn't feel that way.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Yes, I agree. It has to be on a deal that gives them some value long term.

  • John, what are the chances that they sign a released player
    by Nov. 20 and that they leave a stop open to draft a player in the
    Rule V

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'd keep an eye on the non-tender list. Those are players I can see the Cubs targeting because they are usually younger.

    As for Rule 5, I'm sure they'd leave a spot open but I think the Cubs are getting to the point now where they may not keep the Rule 5 player this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe they can draft a player and then trade him for a
    tradable draft pick

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That's possible. They do have a high pick and if another team has a specific player in mind, they could work out some kind of arrangement.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Can't pass up the chance to acquire a player, one way or another,
    with this 4th pick

  • The problem with rebuilding is the minor leagers are more interesting to the fans than the current roster. Yes, there is some desire to see the current guys do well, but only because we want to trade them. It makes us feel a tad dirty. Why am I here reading "Cubs Den?" Because it is more honest than watching what was our team last year or what will be our team to start next year. I imagine the FO goes through this too, but they get paid to do it. I want a team to root for! Not to look at every hit or strike out as a "+" or "-" dollar amount. However foolish it may be, I want to watch a game and root for I guy who is a Cub and will be a Cub. Otherwise why watch.

  • John... long time reader... closet Cubs psycho, in a good way? I have a photoshop challenge. KB and the Sunshine band! Unfortunately I cannot paste images which is probably a good thing in general.

  • In reply to Jason Diedrich:

    Haha!

  • Recognizing, and acknowledging that the rebuilding of of the Cubs will take 5-7 years and that the decisions made in connection with that process must be made in the best interest of achieving that goal, i.e. the FO cannot not pander to the whims of the general public's mercurial nature; nevertheless, the Cubs cannot simply divorce the public from the process, the fans are paying for it!

    The Ricketts are not new to Chicago, the difficulty in navigating this process with the City cannot have been a complete shock. Further, as bankers, they agreed to Zell's financial structure in buying the club. If I am not mistaken MLB had to approve the deal structure. The, point, and there is one, is that the Cubs knew what they were doing from a financial risk and investment standpoint, BUT, they must do something to invest in their fans too.

    Telling the fans that we are going to be putting a poor to mediocre product on the field for 3 or 4 more years, telling the fans that their opinion in the decision making direction of the Club will not be considered (even if rightfully so) and then charging the fans third highest ticket prices in baseball to watch a product that is acknowledged as being substandard, is going to alienate people. The two clubs that are more expensive, the Yankees and Boston, have some bounds for their prices, their winning. The White Sox cut prices significantly last year. Not raising the prices this year is not the same thing as cutting them. A long time season ticket holder that I know will pay more than $30k for four season tickets that after August 1, he cannot give away.

    The Cubs must take some steps to acknowledge what the fans are going through in this process and structure some real discounts for tickets for both single game and season ticket holders or make some other real fiscal gesture to acknowledge the fan base that has been loyal.

  • In reply to All W Days:

    Ticket prices are a different story and that's up to the business side of operations. I don't really delve into that side. From a baseball operations standpoint, though, they have to do what they know is best for the organization. Fans will show up when the team wins, so they're job is to build a team with the best chance to do that year in and year out for the long term.

  • Love auto spell that is "…some 'grounds' for their prices, 'they're' winning…"

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    So after a month of wringing out the wet rag that is possible Samardzjia and Castro deals (although the Castro rumors have died considerably, as I thought they would), and after a month of discussing the free agency moves the Cubs won't make, perhaps there are other topics to discuss.

    1. There is usually one big splash in baseball in regards to free agency or trades before Thanksgiving. Who will it be this year? Will the Cubs be involved?

    2. What are other teams interests in guys like Nate Scheirholz, Wellington Castillo and James Russell, and to a lesser extent, role players like Luis Valbuena, Donnie Murphy and Brian Bogusevic?

    3. The Cubs recent free agent signings (minot league contracts with ST invites) have been underwhelming to say the least. But I think the signing of Eli Whiteside indicates the Cubs are passing on Navarro and intend not to trade Castillo.

    4. Not to go business operations side, but what, if any, changes will we see at Wrigley Field next year? I am guessing none. But I don't have access to the local papers or newscasts since I moved to Milwaukee.

    5. Castillo led the team in OPS last year at .746 (Navarro was .856 in a PT role) and though I do expect a bounce back year from Rizzo, I am concerned that our OPS leaders came from the catching position. Regardless of how you feel about free agency, a line up with no punch isn't going to win many games especially with no top of the rotation starter. My question is this, what are the Cubs doing to address this in the offseason?

    6. Sub part to question 5, please don't tell me about prospects coming up and providing that punch. First, it will be later in the year, if at all, my guess is not this year, and besides, it is asking too much of rookies to provide that.

    Now I am all for the rebuild, but let's be honest here. The Cubs need a bat or two and they need a top of the rotation starter. Right now, a 67-win team isn't getting any better, and Whiteside replacing Navarro makes them weaker, and we don't have Scott Feldman or Matt Garza in the rotation, and it may be asking a lot to think Travis Wood will repeat last season (though I do believe he will, I am speaking in terms of probability based on career stats).

    Trades? Free Agency? The top pick in the 2014 draft? What are we looking at here with this roster when we remove the rose-tinted glasses?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    The FA class is awful and if there's any trades it will be for pitching, probably prospects.

    IMO, there is absolutely no reason to expect them to be competitive this year.

    For me best case scenario for 14 is:
    Trade Shark and Jax
    Luck in the draft in June
    About draft time Olt debuts and plays well.
    Trade Barney (for anything. at all.) at the deadline Replace Barney with Alcantara until September
    when Baez and Bryant (and *fingers crossed* Soler) get a cup of coffee.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Is it conceivable the Cubs could be worse than last year? Sweeney replacing Soriano doesn't give me the happy that it gives everybody else either.

    What are the odds we are picking #1 in 2014? Niren Desai mentioned some good, short term FA possibilities though I think Burnett will stay with PGH or retire.

    My point is, if the Cubs do trade Samardzjia for prospects we are looking at a 100-loss easily this season without some good bridge acquisitions.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    We could be worse than last year but I don't think that's a reason to panic.

    Next year's FA class could be special and the young prospects could be right there with them to debut.
    There's a lot of reasons to think that the '15 team could be dramatically different than the '14 team

    I think this is *part* of the reason the FO preaches progress not being linear. Teams can improve by leaps sometimes, and while I'd like this season to be that year as much as the next guy, there just isn't any reason to expect that.

    Of course, If Castro can bounce back, Olt can produce, Tanaka can be acquired, Castillo and Rizzo can progress, and Barney can even occasionally bake the bat come into physical contact with the ball, then there's a lot of reason to expect a modest improvement in our record.

    Plus, the type of FA signings we've come to expect after the past two years will probably help. I haven't the foggiest who they'll get. They'll probably resign Baker and I'm optimistic about that.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm not in panic mode. I am just trying to decide if spending $149 to get the Cubs games here in Milwaukee through MLB TV will be worth it this year hahaha.

    Seriously, though, it's always darkest before the dawn, right? I think we may see that this year.

    Tanaka would gibe them a TOR starter. I like Mike Olt more than just about everybody so I think he will help, but there is always a chance he could fail. I think Renteria will get the most out of Castro, but there is always the chance that the past two seasons are the norm rather than the exception.

    One think I want to point out is that I think the Cubs, through the draft and waiver wire acquisitions (Bard) and trades (Strop), have assembled what will be baseball's most dominant bullpen as early as next year, minus of course, knowing the closer to be named later.

    I think in all the "big name" speculation (Tanaka, trade of Samardzjia, possible signing of Ellsbury which is a long shot), we are letting that aspect of the rebuild fly under the radar. That is the area where we will see results sooner than later. Not John, of course, who has mentioned it extensively, but in the comments section, where it is barely talked about.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Just for the record, I wasn't suggesting YOU were panicking, just a general statement that 100 losses isn't a reason for ANYONE to panic.

    And I hadn't thought of it but "darkest before the dawn" should totally be the unoffical slogan of the 2014 Cubs.

    Lastly, there's no way you like Olt more than I do. ha.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I do hope there's extra attention paid to improving their bullpen. Whether it's through FA or trade.

    I wonder if it's feasible to trade for bullpen help specifically.
    Many, inlcuding myself, think it'll be tough to find a strong return for EJax, so maybe they can target pitchers that project as bullpen guys, who wouldn't be as highly valued.

    Of course, If Tanaka can be acquired and as many as possible of next year's potential FA's become available, that allows guys we already have that have potential to start to be used in the bullpen. (Arrieta, Grimm, Edwards)

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I think they drafted a lot of potential big league guns last year that are going to be dominant bullpen guys as soon as this year. I hope bard signs and bounces back. I think Strop could be the best set up guy in baseball, but as a closer he worries me.

    I think it is an opportune time to trade Russell. He has value right now. And if you are going to trade EJ (I just don't think the Cubs should if this is their staff going forward), a cost-controlled nasty bullpen guy would be a wonderful return.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I've written several articles on alternatives and the more likely smaller free agent signings that covered position players, bullpen, and starting pitching.

    We haven't written much about Castro rumors. We were actually the first to bring it up but we downplayed that from the beginning and then barely mentioned it afterward. I think there is always that possibility, but it has largely been exaggerated. And we've been saying for days that the Cubs almost certainly prefer to re-sign Samardzija.

    Cubs won't be involved in a free agency big splash because no big name FA signs early unless it's an overpay, a deal to good to pass up. Cubs won't make that kind of offer. I think even a big trade is unlikely and, besides, that would most likely have to involve Samardzija, which contradicts what you want to do in the first place.

    We've felt for awhile that the Cubs intend to keep Castillo and have even mentioned it on several occasions. The Navarro situation doesn't affect him one way or the other but it was highly unlikely the Cubs were ever going to re-sign him.

    I wouldn't expect the Cubs to provide punch with a major signing. They did just fine last year filling in with multiple pieces. They finished 2nd in HRs and 3rd in doubles, first in extra base hits and first in ISO. Their problem with the OPS was the On-base part.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John,

    I do read every article and I am impressed with the content and suggestions. You mention a lot of things the Cubs SHOULD do but I wonder what they WILL do.

    My point is, right now, as the roster sits, this team is considerably weaker than the 2012 roster. Yes, the OBP is wretched, and Feldman is so underrated, I think Cubs fans have no idea how much they are going to miss him. Maybe they'll sign him but he's due for a 3-year deal based on last season I would think.

    I don't think the Cubs will tank. But Giffmo makes some good points. The FA class is weak, and it looks to me like next offseason is the year the Cubs will strike in FA. Trades will probably still be for prospects (especially if you are talking Samardzjia).

    I am 100% on board with the rebuild. I don't mind being the worst team in baseball next year. There are so many holes. I just think 2014 is going to be that rock-bottom year.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Agreed. I don't see them building through free agency at all this year with the possible exception of Tanaka and some smaller signings. I do want them to improve, though, and I think they can. In fact, was actually writing an article this morning on how I would do it in absence of those big FAs or trades.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I just read it. Great article. Very extensive.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Is your feeling that Whiteside is meant to be on the roster? It was a minor league contract. Still room for Navarro, or my favorite A.J. Pierzynski.

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    In reply to Oneear:

    Yes. I know he is on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. But so far, the other signings feel like organizational depth rather than legitimate major league opportunities.

    I think the FO really likes Whiteside though so he may be the #2 catcher. I would love Navarro, but I think he's earned a shot to be a #1 catcher, or at least paid like one. Pierzynski isn't ready to be a back up. I bet he ends up in Minnesota on a one year deal while they groom Josmil Pinto.

  • For anyone to say that this FO and ownership are ignoring putting people in the seats is stunning to me. Does anyone ACTUALLY think the FO has no pressure to win and has this six year honeymoon period where winning simply doesn't matter? Fans don't have to buy tickets, and who would be more aware of that than Ricketts and the FO? Yep, the tickets are sky high in price - understood - but how are they supposed to return value for that price when they were saddled with virtually nothing on the field from the beginning? The only way would be to go out and buy talent and we've seen what that does. I would say you have a lot better chance of putting butts in seats to see the young talent coming up than to see any Choos or Ellsburys put 5-6 more wins on the board. As has been repeatedly pointed out, Tanaka is a different story, because he would be part of that young talent emerging.

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    I look at the short-term buy low FAs and see some decent value out there for 2014.

    Corey Hart, AJ Burnett, Chris Young, Scott Kazmir, Scott Baker, Brian Roberts, Denard Span (trade) etc. all seem like a decent value for 2014. It would give us some veterans for building competitive environment and then Baez, Bryant could infuse a lot talent in june/july. I would deal short term assets for long term ones as they have been doing (Samardjiza, Russel, Shierholtz).

    Span
    Roberts/Barney
    Rizzo
    Hart/Sweeney
    Lake/Young
    Castro
    Castillo
    Olt/Valbuena/Murphy

    Burnett
    Wood
    Kazmir
    Jackson
    Arrietta

  • In reply to Niren Desai:

    Actual suggestions! Good job.

  • John,
    I've barely seen any articles regarding Garza's free agency market. Does this mean I'm not looking in the right places? Or is the money he'd demand for performance too much for teams? And does that mean the Cubs may be able to bring him back into the fold at a discount?

  • Hi John - you reported earlier this month that your sources were indicating payroll woudl increase by up to $35M for 2014 season. That still what you are hearing?

  • Personally, I'm thrilled with the progress of the rebuild. We are set up to be good and remain good for a long time.

    However, I am skeptical on the "We want to keep Shark" remarks. It seems like we here that every time a guy is about to be traded. I think at this point they know if they will be able to extend him or not. Perhaps this comment is made for leverage.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I agree.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I think they mean it and that opinion is shared by some in the industry, but it means they want to sign him at what the team considers value. I think that's always been the case. If they can't do that, then I believe they prefer to sign him. If they cannot, then they will trade him.

  • *hear

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    i just renewed my season tickets, its time we are competitive, 4 straight years of donations. I agreed with the tear down, and not trying to win 72-75 games the last 2 years to get draft picks, but if you're gonna charge high prices, you gotta get something in return. They can spend money on veterans and short-term guys and see if they can be competitive without blocking any prospects. Cubs have lots of money, i dont want to hear any cries of poor.

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