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Thoughts on landing the big fish: Shark rumors heating up, Tanaka, and is Ellsbury a worthwhile gamble?

Thoughts on landing the big fish: Shark rumors heating up, Tanaka, and is Ellsbury a worthwhile gamble?

In the novel, "The Old Man and the Sea", the main character, Santiago, is considered terribly unlucky.  He hasn't caught a fish in 84 days.  For fisherman, that is a drought of Cubs-ian proportions.  Of course, Santiago winds up venturing out alone and miraculously ends up hooking the big fish.  He dreams of what it will mean for him and what it will bring on the market, only to see the sharks attack. And while he puts up a great fight, in the end he is left with nothing but the skeletal remains.

Maybe Hemingway was a Cubs fan.

Yesterday I wrote an article that generated a lot of discussion and some unexpected debate.  I don't mean to say unexpected because people shouldn't have dissenting opinions, but because it was sometimes interpreted as the Cubs shouldn't spend at all or the Cubs should try to lose on purpose to get draft picks.  That's not what I said at all.  The title states that the Cubs don't need to spend indiscriminately.

I'm also not saying the Cubs shouldn't make moves to improve the team though trade if they can find away to extract surplus value.

With that, this is a piece that may soothe those who think I'm saying the Cubs should sit around and take their lumps while waiting for prospects.  For the most part, I believe the Cubs can improve with some shrewd under the radar signings and trades, which I have written about at length on several occasions.   I think these kinds of moves are essential.  You can improve at the margins with very little risk and long term cost while keeping the long term goals in tact.

But some of you are asking,"What about the big moves?"  Here are three that I could see the Cubs considering...

Trading the Shark

The rumors are beginning to grow and while I hear that the Cubs plan to sit down again with Jeff Samardzija again to hammer out a deal, the possibility remains that the two sides will continue to disagree.  If that is the case, then it becomes very likely that the Cubs will look to salvage value.   The Cubs like Samardzija a lot -- the stuff, the competitiveness, the relatively young arm but it could come down to a question of value.  We often talk about core players and assume that only means the teams best players, but value also plays a role.  Samardzija is a potential core player, but only if he gives them long term value.

It's also possible a team comes up with the offer the Cubs just can't refuse. There are 4 teams who have reportedly shown interest:  the Nationals, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Jays with rumors that there is at least one more team involved.

The general consensus is that prospects like Lucas Giolito and Archie Bradley are out of range, but Professor Parks tweeted yesterday that he believes obtaining prospects like James Tallion and Aaron Sanchez are possible.

If the Cubs can't get Giolito, there is also A.J. Cole.  He's a good young arm with some projection left.   One scout told me he has the present arm speed and size to succeed, but he needs to improve his secondaries, which may be a matter of "getting the grip strength to sheer off the ball and get depth."  That part of his analysis intrigued me because one of Bosio's strengths as a pitching coach has been to work on and tinker with different grips.  It could be a good match-up for a project who at the very least should be a late inning reliever with the potential for more.

One concern may be that Cole did not take well to being traded the first first time around.  How he responds to another trade would be something the Cubs need to consider.

The Cubs are potentially in a good position to trade Samardzija if that's what they choose to do. There is increasing market competition among a group of teams who are in win now mode.  The hope is that those teams may be willing to give up a little extra to obtain a low cost #3 starter who is controlled for 2 more seasons -- especially given the high asking prices of the available free agents as well as the high expected trade cost of David Price.

Splurging on Masahiro Tanaka

It's only money, right?

There is wide range of opinion on Tanaka.  One highly respected scout believes he is as good as Yu Darvish.  Another scout said he would take Tanaka over any available pitcher, listing only David Price as better but that the prospect cost of Price makes Tanaka the better value overall.  That certainly makes sense for the Cubs.

Some worry about overuse, but on talent alone, I haven't talked to anyone who believes he is less than a #3 starter and most think he's around a #2.

In my opinion, he is still the best fit for the Cubs but they are going to have to fight off some pretty high market sharks to bring this one home.

Gambling on Jacoby Ellsbury --- if his price comes down

This is one where you'll get a lot of mixed opinion.  In a vacuum, Ellsbury is a good fit.  He can provide them with a LH bat, speed, solid OBP skills, and some occasional pop.  There are the obvious connections to the front office, so they know all about Ellsbury -- from mental makeup to what they feel he possesses in terms of long term value.

Then there was this tweet on Wednesday,

Source says Mariners have "no interest" in Ellsbury. Market looks thin, but source adds that Cubs are stealthily waiting in the wings.

Of course, we've heard that refrain before, so I dismissed it out of hand.  Yesterday Dave Cameron tweeted,

Filed a piece for ESPN Insider/FG+ on Ellsbury comps and how they aged. Idea of speed-and-defense OFs falling apart is a total myth.  I think I've officially talked myself into Ellsbury as a free agent value. Even at $120-$140M.

Whether that's a good fit for the Cubs may be a different question.  A team in their position would not benefit as much from Ellsbury in the next two years, yet if Ellsbury can sustain some kind of value, perhaps even tap into that power, he could be a part of the puzzle in LF when Albert Almora is up and the Cubs (hopefully) are ready to contend.  It would be the Cubs version of the Jason Werth signing.

There is also the question of a high 2nd round pick, which has higher value to the Cubs than a late first round pick does to a win-now team. The counter argument there is that the Cubs could gamble on Ellsbury and if the Cubs don't turn it around by 2015, they can trade him off for something significantly better than a 2nd round pick.  If scouts agree with Cameron and believe Ellsbury will still provide good value as he ages, then he could bring back a lot from a contending team willing to take on salary.

One scout I asked said the Cubs should wait until January when they should be able to find some bargains after the feeding frenzy subsides.  While he wasn't specifically referring to Ellsbury, that would fit with Feinsand's tweet that the Cubs are "waiting in the wings".  There is also some industry concern on making such a big investment on a player with that kind of recent injury history.  If Ellsbury's price comes down enough to make him very tradable should the situation not work out with the Cubs, then maybe you can talk me into signing Ellsbury.

Maybe.  And only if the price goes way down.  All in all, it's an unlikely scenario.

There is big risk involved when you try to land the big fish.  For the sake of all Cubs fans,  I hope it works out better for Theo than it did for Santiago.

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  • fb_avatar

    Waiting for the "speed is the first thing to go" comment.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think his speed is stressed too much in these kinds of conversations. Let's say he does get a little slower by 2016, that doesn't diminish solid linedrive contact and obp skills from the left side. And if he does "lose a step" he's still faster than the average player and his D would stay solid, and would play well above average if he has to move to LF in 3 years. The only part of his numbers that would take a hit would be SBs, which are becoming less vital to many team's philosophies by the year. I don't want him at 140MM, but if the price goes down I wouldn't be opposed. There's a reason he's going to get paid better than all but Cano this offseason.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    If the Cubs got one free agent (not counting Tanaka) I guess I would rather have Cano. I do love Ellsbury, but then I think you know, he's an OF, and that's a lot of money for an OF.

    Still, Cano is a pipe dream. Ellsbury will sign somewhere between $120-$130M, probably Seattle, and I think the Cubs are going to be one of the top two teams on Tanaka.

    When are posting fees due? Will the Yankees have a decision on A-Rod by then? If the appeal/decision lasts into the winter, I think New York has to temper their bid because they need to resign Cano, and I think a whole outfield, plus I think Teixiera will be out for a big part of the early season. Plus they are going to have to pay Jeter.

    I researched all day yesterday while I was sucked into a debate with another poster trying to think who would outbid the Cubs, and only the Yankees made sense, and maybe only if they do not have to pay A-Rod. The Dodgers are expected to be in the mix, but they have to sign Kershaw who someone said turned down 10/$300M. The Rangers, maybe, but I don't see it.

    The Yankees COULD bid on Tanaka with A-Rod still on the books if they are willing to punt this season, have gobs more money come off the books next year, and then plan to go bananas in next year's market.

    I think the Cubs may actually get Tanaka and I am okay if that is our only major strike this season.

    But I do love Cano.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I forgot to mention the Red Sox. They have been awfully quiet on Tanaka in Boston. If one team is waiting in the wings on one player, it could be Boston on Tanaka.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think at the end of the day Cano ends up with the Yankees.

    On the red sox and Tanaka, their rotation is already about 7 solid, so I don't think a huge bid on Tanaka is in their plans.

    On the rangers and Ellsbury, I really don't see that. They already have Andrus and Profar as top of the order guys and really need to use their cap space to fill their outfield with power or else that lineup is not going to slug enough. They seem the most likely outside of the Yankees to land Tanaka as well.

    At the end of the day I think the Yankees will be highest bidder, because it's really one of the few times with the new CBA that they are able to use all of the gobs of cash they have, and they need rotation help badly with CC's recent performance and Kuroda possibly leaving to Japan. With or without the A-Rod salary on the books they have plenty of room for Tanaka's salary as well to still be under the luxury tax threshold, because the posting bid does not count against it, and if it's a backloaded deal they should be fine. The one thing that does hinge on A-Rod is getting involved with Ellsbury.

    My vote for the sneakiest team to get in on Ellsbury is the Nationals. If they can manage to deal Span as was rumoured, that would be a win now move that I see them doing.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Tanaka's posting fee doesn't count against the salary cap, so ARod's situation has no effect on Tanaka's price for the Yankees. I cannot see any way the Yankees are outbid on him, at least by the Cubs. The Yankees rotation is a disaster, they have a large Japanese market they can appeal to, and they have a much larger TV/Radio revenue stream to work from.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I know his posting fee does not count against the cap. With A-Rod's contract off the books, they have roughly $52M to spend. If they have to pay him, that is $25M, leaving $27M left. They have to sign Robinson Cano. Reportedly he wants an 8/$225M deal. For the sake of argument lets just go by AAV. They could backload it, but that probably would be shortsighted. That would cost them $28.15M in 2014. Now maybe they can bonus him $50M of that deal. That still leaves almost $22M in AAV.

    Now if they win the Tanaka bid, he is going to want (allegedly) $60M over 5-6 years. They still have to pay Granderson or replace him. They have to sign Kuroda (maybe Tanaka replaces him, not sure).

    Furthermore, all these guys are arb-eligible:
    David Robertson
    Brett Gardner
    Ivan Nova
    Shawn Kelley
    Jayson Nix
    Francisco Cervelli
    Chris Stewart

    That makes it pretty tough to find room for Tanaka's SALARY.

    If A-Rod's salary comes off the books, they have a lot of wiggle room. If it does not, they do not, unless they want to tank this year with an OF of Soriano, Gardner and Almonte and have Nix at 3B and Vernon Wells at first until Teixiera is healthy. Alternatively, they could go over the luxury tax threshold, though Brian Cashman has said they will not. He seems to be a pretty transparent guy, but I have never met him.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    If he loses a step, he sounds a lot like Fukudome. Good defense, gap power and reasonable speed.

    How much is that worth?

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    In reply to DaveP:

    I don't think on his worst day Ellsbury is like Fukudome. Fukudome was lost at the plate against MLB pitching. And he never had the speed that Ellsbury did, and even when Ellsbury loses a step, if that happens, Fukudome could only wish for those kinds of wheels.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Speed is the 1st thing to go.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Speed, yeah, speed and imagination. Oh and sex drive.

  • Still very interested in Ellsbury if he lasts for a few months. He's not going to be as cheap as Bourn, but I think Bourn went for far less than what people thought at the start of free agency. If you can get Ellsbury for 5 years, $80-90 mil....don't you have to do that?

  • In reply to Ike03:

    That's the big question.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I don't know about 'have to' but its kinda close for me. I like him at 4/68. Not a whole lot of difference anyway.

    He wants that 'best player on the team' contract. Don't think he'll get it which bodes really well for us.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    At that price, I absolutely sign Ellsbury. At that price, even if he struggles or the team ends up being further away than we thought, his contract is movable. Almost no downside at that point.

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    I just can't see Ellsbury. This strikes me as Michael Bourn all over again. We could trade him for something better than a second round pick, but that depends a lot on what he's signed for. And, on top of that, how many outfielders are moved at the deadline for a top prospect? I really can't think of one of late.

    It's become fashionable to bash on how little value second round picks have, but among Theo, Jed, and Jason's second round picks are: Lester, Pedroia, Justin Masterson, Gyorko, and Austin Hedges. Clearly these guys are pretty good at this. I just can't see getting anyone of that value -- except possibly Masterson -- by trading Ellsbury at the deadline.

    If we do make the move, its because we think the Cubs team, over the short and long term, is better off with Jacoby Ellsbury on the team than without him. I don't see how you make that argument. If you want veteran leadership, there are much cheaper options out there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think he's a better risk than Bourn because of his potential to add a bit of power, but he is still a huge risk.

    And completely agree on the 2nd round picks. It's easily to casually dismiss them but there are multiple success stories, especially with this front office. They have value and it will take a lot for the FO to want to give them up.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What I meant by Michael Bourn all over again is the rumors that the Cubs are players are simply Boras trying to goose the market.

    Turns out I was partly wrong -- Theo was hired the winter after Lester was drafted, but the overall point is still valid, I think.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, you are among the many insightful and knowledgable writers on this site. I very much respect your views and usually agree with them. But I am really struck by your focus on "cheaper options" being out there. I am also really struck and often frustrated with John's focus on "value."

    Frustrated because it lets the Ricketts clan off the hook too easily. The team is a cash cow. And that family is loaded. I'm all for the FO being smart and savy and maximizing value. But that a goal unto itself and it is not mutually exclusive with a splurge here and there -- like for Tanaka and Ellsbury. Those two signings would place us right at the doorstep on the eve of Bryant and Baez joining the big club. And if Ricketts has to eat some money down the road, well that's life in the big city, big market world of MLB.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    I've been the biggest Tanaka cheerleader out there and I actually think we can and will get him. What I don't want us to do is get locked into a long term, big money contract for an older player right now. Especially when it costs us a second round pick. We don't know exactly what our needs are going to be and by the time our young players come up, these signings will be in decline. When it's time to sign players, we want it to be exactly the player we need, not a close second.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Can't say your wrong. But Ellsbury certainly speeds things up. And I'd rather risk the potential upside of a 2014 2nd round pick to expedite the rebuild. I'm willing to take the chance that Bryant and Baez will actually deliver on their promise, if not their ceilings, in relatively short order and that Castro and Rizzo rebound and Wellington continues with his remarkable progress.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    It really doesn't speed anything up. First, as I pointed out, the trashing of second round picks is way overdone. This front office has shown an incredible ability to extract value from them. We aren't getting a random pick -- we're getting the pick of this front office. That is important. To expand on that a bit: I'm sure in 2007 someone would have said we could always trade Alfonso Soriano for the equivalent of a second round pick. How did that work out? (Incidentally, the Nationals took Jordan Zimmerman with the pick they got from that deal.)

    But, I'd actually like to talk some about the "speed up the rebuild" argument. I don't buy that. The rebuild is about getting together an entire 25 man roster, because you really don't win a World Series without 25 solid players on the major league team, and some solid backups behind them. As good as he might be, Jacoby Ellsbury is one guy. We need to fill in 24 more around him. Even if we assume that Baez, Bryant, Castro, Rizzo, and Castillo all play good baseball next year, that leaves 19 more on the major league roster. To say nothing of role players in the minors. To go the other way, if we assume that all five of them are playing well, Ellsbury is nice, but really doesn't improve the team of 25 guys notably.

    It's easy to get locked into the idea that one guy can turn everything around. But, at the end of the day, we need a complete team. We can buy that on the FA market. So, every move we make has to be with an eye on the future, since we're in rebuild mode.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    *slow clap*

    Agreed on all points.

    If his situation was coming up in 2008, or 3-4 years from now, that's a great thing. But a 30 year old Ellsbury just turns the Cub from a 90 loss team into an 85 loss team (give or take).

    By the time the whole roster is coming around, you're getting his real decline years at a very high price.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    Nondorf, I too like your posts, but I want to disagree *slightly* with you. I am not sure where the notion came from that EVERYBODY thinks Ricketts is in control. Now I know he has to sign off on any expenditure, and I may be wrong on this, but I think Ricketts has said on numerous occasions that if Epstein can justify any expenditure for a player then he will okay it.

    Like I said, I could be wrong, but maybe Epstein doesn't want any of these guys. There is an article in the NY Post today or yesterday where Theo says he loves the player development side of building a team.

    I don't know, and maybe John does, but if Epstein really wanted Ellsbury or Cano I think Ricketts would pay if Epstein could justify the expenditure.

    Similarly, when the Cubs post a bid on Tanaka, I think the conversation goes like this:

    Theo: We want to bid $68 million dollars on Tanaka's negotiating rights?
    Ricketts: I trust your valuation. Go ahead.

    Maybe I am naive, but I think Theo really calls the shots and Ricketts trusts him to make good financial decisions.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Why wouldn't you build your team on value? The better value you get, the more talent you can fit on your roster. Just because you have money, it doesn't mean you overpay and spend most of your roster budget on two players.

    Tanaka makes sense because it's only money and he's the right age where you get the best years from him. That is not really true of Ellsbury, so that is very much up for debate and, in fact, most people I talk to think it's a bad idea for the Cubs.

    You have to get used to value because this front office isn't going to go the Tribune/Hendry route. They did not understand value at all.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I don't mean to be today's contrarian or today's most prolific poster. I love what you do and the FO's focus on value is precisely what makes your site must read of any Cubs fan who wants to understand what is happening and what to expect. And, of course, you're right on the importance of value. There is no downside to maximizing value, but I do believe that value can be overvalued at the expense of taking some risks.

    Given the 105 years and counting, I'm in favor of taking some risks with the Ricketts' family's money even if it may not make the most sense on a "value" analysis. But, alas, you are right that I have to get used to value with this FO -- and that, my friend, is precisely the root source of my frustration.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I agree that taking risks and even overpaying is necessary. Where we may disagree is when and on whom that risk is worth taking. I think we agree on Tanaka, but not Ellsbury -- though I may feel differently on an Ellsbury type in a year or two.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks, John.

    BTW: "Value can be overvalued" -- please tell me I've earned a gold star for that one.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Haha! I will say value can be overvalued when the team is a legit contender. Is that close enough? :)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think he's a couple of ticks better than Bourn and deserves more money.

    I think that argument could be made based on the fact that its possible that not all of our coveted outfield bats will get to the Ellsbury level. To me, bringing in Ellsbury would provide some pretty good insurance against the top guys underwhelming.

    I go back and forth on Ellsbury every day but the truth is, he's really not the kind of player that will ever hurt your club. To me, a guy like Nelson Cruz is a guy that could really hurt a team if he doesn't hit as many bombs as he's supposed to. Ellsbury's solid athleticism and overall depth of solid skills make him pretty safe as far as a big contract goes. No one's a sure thing though. Totally see the risks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence is a recent two...

  • Trade Jeff in a package with either Nate or Barney for a bigger
    return and no don't give up our 2nd pick for any player over
    30

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    No one wants Darwin Barney. He doesn't improve any return.

  • I am not one to believe all the rumors when it comes to the off season (they are usually almost always wrong) but if in fact there is growing interest for JS, especially if it is from the teams listed, then I think he is in fact gone.

    There is a lot of smoke out there from multiple "sources" and that has me thinking something is going to be happening in the next few weeks.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Signing Jeff to a long term contract for over $13 million a yr is not
    a good thing to do

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    It's been building for awhile. We try not to report every rumor out there because that's not who we are, but this is one that definitely has some legs.

  • I think Ellsbury in a vacuum is the perfect fit. I also think the Blue Jays and Pirates are the best fits in trade for the Cubs. The Jays are GM is really on the hot seat and have to win.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I think the Cubs have the best shot of getting the top pitching prospect from those two teams ...and they both have pitching depth. There's a lot to try and match up there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really like Sanchez and I think Drabek would also available. I think he would be a very good buy low candidate.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    That would make an interesting package. Drabek could be a bit Arrieta-ish in that he has great stuff but has never been consistent and healthy enough to make the most of it. If he's part of the package, I'd be very happy. It's a nice lottery ticket.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd be interested in Hutchinson as a buy low from them as well.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Drabek would make a great transitional closer candidate. He would probably be a better middle-relief/spot starter guy. I don't know if he has the durability to go 25-30 starts per year, even if he is healthy, and it's been a long time, but I seem to remember guys catching up to his stuff the second time through the order.

    But it's been awhile. Seems like his dad has pitched more recently than he has.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Tallison or Sanchez would be nice. Maybe rip the Pirates for Glasnow while were at it.

  • Would you go 5 plus years for Ellsbury?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I think the kind of deal Ike mentioned would make me pause.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, he's going to owe Hunter Pence a Waverunner. The longer all of these guys hang around, the better for the Cubs.

    One thing I am really going to hate is the Cubs landing Tanaka and trading Samardzija. Doubtful anything happens until those proceedings come to a close.

  • I think in terms of depth, the Pirates could offer the best package. Especially, if Shierholtz is packaged as well.

  • In reply to NathanE:

    They have good pitchers to deal, no question.

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    In reply to NathanE:

    The problem with the Pirates is they've shown themselves to be unwilling to part with that talent.

    I think Giolito is the best attainable arm. But I would be surprised if Rizzo pulled the trigger on that. I would guess we will walk away with Aaron Sanchez and some high ceiling Toronto starters. On the other hand, it also wouldn't completely surprise me if Shark was extended. Though I do think it's unlikely. (Maybe 10-20% chance.) I'm fairly sure that's Theo's first choice.

    Dayton Idiot Moore is, as always, a wildcard. Zimmer would be a very nice get.

  • Nothing more than 4 yrs for Ellsbury/Choo no matter what. BoreUs is not going to let that happen, esapecially after his mini-problems with Bourne.

  • Despite leading some of the dissent in the comments, I did not yesterday that I mostly agreed with your conclusion: It's not the time to spend on big acquisitions.

    Or at least, it appears we don't have the money to do so and I'm not that upset about it. We don't have the cash to hang with the "big boys" (as the unnamed Cubs source in that recent article put it) on Tanaka and that's that.

    We'll sniff around the periphery on guys like Ellsbury, but it's no more serious than the 5 years/$30m a year offer we supposedly prepared for Pujols. This front office seems to delight in that sort of due diligence (not that it's a bad thing).

    At this point, we're committed to waiting for the prospects and that means that trading Samardzija needs to be a priority. I don't think we're going to get the high-end arm we are aiming for, although I'd certainly love it if we did. We'll settle for two pretty good arms on the next tier down and that's fine. I'd rather do that than hold out for what we deem to be "our price" for a year and a half then dump him for less than we could get for him now.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Edit: That should say "I did say that I mostly agreed..."

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I understand you did agree with most of it. I wasn't referring to anyone in particular, just that not everyone agreed with the premise of the article, which is expected. I think there were some good points, but the ones I can't come to terms are those fans who want the Cubs to spend for the sake of spending. I'm sure most of us would agree it's how and when you spend that's important.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well it's not "spending for the sake of spending." The notion that spent money is wasted money unless a title is within grasp doesn't make sense when the Cubs are the third most lucrative team in baseball, with ticket prices to match.
    The Cubs could have signed/acquired a few foreign players or free agents and made the team more competitive and more fun to watch. They could have begun this three years ago, or at least two years ago. And while that wouldn't have bought us a title, we wouldn't have had the worst few years in Cubs history. The games matter, especially when you're talking about entire seasons being tanked.

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    In reply to baseballet:

    Serious question: if Kris Bryant is the league MVP on a World Series winning team, would you think that losing and losing big in the 2012 season was a good idea?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Tanking several seasons in a row only makes sense for poor teams that have no other way to obtain decent players.

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    In reply to baseballet:

    Is that a yes or a no?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You presented a false choice: Tank seasons to obtain a top five pick and thus win the world series, as if that's the only way to win a World Series. (btw ask the Pirates how the last 20 years have gone).

  • In reply to baseballet:

    That is flawed because that is making an assumption that the Pirates have been trying to capitalize on market inefficiencies for those 20 years. They did not.

    The Pirates only recently got up to date with good process that involved statistical trends, scouting, and the understanding of long term value. That process began when they hired Neal Huntingon. His first season was in 2008, so it took him 5 years to build a winner -- and that is without a single major free agent.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I am NOT presenting a false choice. I suggested a very specific -- and possible -- outcome. "No" is an acceptable answer, because you think they could have won a World Series earlier by spending in 2012.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to baseballet:

    exactly

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    What if neither of those happen? What if he busts out?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Bust out? Impossible,

  • In reply to baseballet:

    It is spending for the sake of spending if you don't consider the ramifications. The argument that you should spend money because you have it is small picture thinking. there is so much more involved when you are signing free agents and Cubs fans haven't figured that out, I just don't know what to say.

    I've already explained why it's such a bad idea and the couner argument is always, "Well they have money so thsy should spend it". You can cherry pick and make assumptions, but that isn't an effective counter argument because anybody can cherry pick and make assumptions for the opposite view, i.e. the recent colossal failures of the Angels and Marlins to build through the free agent market.

    Explain how it makes sense in terms of budget, roster management, time line, statistically projected production, etc. The thing is...you can't. There really is no rational, big picture, objective argument you can make for that strategy. The only "proof" it would work are anecdotal examples and hypothetical best case scenarios but that is easily countered with multiple examples of failures and worst case scenarios.

    When you're building a team, you cannot think in terms of betting a ton of money just because you have it and hoping everything falls into place. It's the baseball equivalent of having Las Vegas or the lottery -- or perhaps buying stock when it has already reached it's expected peak, as your personal long term financial plan. You cannot expect high rates of return when the statistical evidence says otherwise. It is no different in baseball than it is in real life. You have to act rationally.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Do you believe that if Theo had been given more money the past two years that he wouldn't have spent it?

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I don't believe it would have been much different. Maybe not even different at all. He was given all the money to overpay and sign Sanchez but he simply chose to go back to Detroit, so there are exceptions and Ricketts seems willing to accomodate them (he flew down himself to help sign Sanchez). They did outbid 28 of the other 29 other teams on both Darvish and Ryu. Second highest on both and they are not the second biggest market, so it seems they put in a very legitimate effort to get guys who fit -- and if you notice, they are all in their prime years and players that scouts and/or statistical analysts projected would improve their performance. There is method. There is always method.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So if Ricketts said he could have whatever payroll he wanted, you really believe Theo wouldn't have done things differently. That shocks me and I guess that's our fundamental disagreement.
    I think Theo would have loved to have had a couple more good players on the team and I don't think he would think it was against his method.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I really do.

    Put it this way...is there a free agent out there that you think he wanted that the Cubs weren't among the top bidders? There's a very select group of players they target and unfortunately, they're the kinds of players every smart organization wants. They've tried, but you can't win them all. There are other teams out there.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you John... These are my thoughts exactly. It is not as though we abandoned the idea of FA entirely. We just have a FO and ownership that realize players have an absolute value to them and are unwilling, especially this early in the build, to go waaaaay over that number. They've been in the ballpark... If the team was closer then I'm sure they might have stretched a bit further for Sanchez. No one knew Darvish would have such success he's been the best NPB signing in years and our FO was one team away... The FO may want a couple of mulligans in hindsight, but I think they've taken conservative long range sensitive thing at every turn. Last offseason should be a signal (Sanchez, Jackson, Scheirholtz) that we are in the mid range part of the "build" cycle.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Ricketts would have given Theo more money to spend the past two years, do you think Theo would have spent it? Or do you think he would have rejected it as wasteful?

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Oops, sorry for the double post, I didn't see my initial post go thru...

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with this John and I'll add one more thing. Best & worst case scenarios aside, spending for the sake of spending only appeases the fans and guarantees attendance but generally the exchange is perpetual mediocrity. We are not talking the Yankees of the late 1970's and early 2000's here. That is an archaic and inefficient path to being an annually middling club. Not to mention, the Cubs lack the supporting cast. The goal is not to be better. It is to win a championship. Period. Exclamation point.

    And I've said, I like Cano. I think he "checks a lot of boxes" and without question offers the highest probability of remaining durable. But a 7-win guy on a team that is 35 wins from contending, at 8/$225M (or more) is bad business and reckless spending. I can even justify the budgeting and accounting but that only works if you keep him through the end of his contract. If you try to move him after five years, he is still a 3/$85M dead weight.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Well what happens if you combine a large payroll with the scouts, talent evaluators and baseball minds in the business? Spending more doesn't have to look like Tribune era Cubs. It can look like Theo era Red Sox.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to baseballet:

    Sure, but the best guys have compensation attached to them and that inherently goes against their core model. We are talking about controlling long term assets, not controlling diminishing value over the long term.

    Think about a Bell Curve. Ultimately you want the bulk of your players to reside in the mean and positive area of statistical distribution. If you have too many players with diminishing skill sets you won't win. Conversely, if you have too many prospects, like the Cubs do, you will struggle. Unless you want to sign 25 free agents, the key is to wait until the prospects fall within the distribution quadrants of the mean return statistically, and THEN sign free agents.

    As skills diminish with signed free agents, you constantly have a wave of younger players to fill in. Free agents should be the expenditure that puts you over the top, not an attempt to get you to the mean.

    I hope this is understandable, I have to take my kids out for wings and they hate when I am on this site so I may have not made a clear point.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yes. Agreed on all counts.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I don't think it is accurate to say that the Cubs don't have the cash to go after the big boys. The cash is there. But the value isn't. It probably makes sense to spend 30 million per year on a guy that will raise your win total from 88 to 98 wins. It makes less sense to spend 30 million per year on a guy that will raise your win total from 68 to 78 wins.

  • I think Ellsbury is an exact "fit" for us. Speed, Defense, OBP, LH, play off experience, etc, etc.... not confident at all that they will be able to land him, nor should they if his salary demands dont drop dramatically.... I am not in favor of over paying for him and I struggle with "projecting him to suddenly become a power hitter if his speed declines" like some have....

    Tanaka, like I've said all along; our odds of landing him will be directly tied to what they feel he is. If Epstoyer sees him as a #2 or #3, we're NOT going to go overboard for the guy. If they believe he is a true #1, we got a decent shot. We still may not get him because if one of those teams with big resources and no concern about value sees him as a #1 too and goes all in.... then it's party over.

    I think it's a very low probability that we get surplus value for Shark. Then again, you never know. I'm okay with moving him if we do. We could sign a scott baker or kazmir type and probably only see a 1 or 2 game differential, if that. But no matter what happens with Shark, there will be a million "I told you so's". wether we trade him or not and he bombs, the naysayers were right. If he becomes that ACE, the other side says "I told you so"... Epstoyer has to win this one or hope that the final verdict isn't in before a post season appearance.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Daddio, I agree completely on Ellsbury. He is perfect fit for so many reasons and so he'd be a great signing at a decent market price for his caliber talent. And that's on a pure baseball decision. But it would also be a shrewd marketing move by showing that they're turning the corner on this rebuild.

    I also want to see them break the bank for Tanaka. He too is a perfect fit and fills the void in TOR prospects.

    Of course, the wisdom of trading Shark depends on the return. But absent adequate surplus value, I'm totally fine with hanging on to him for 2014 and seeing what happens because things change and maybe for the better.

    Look, Ricketts seems to have convinced a lot of you that somehow the Cubs "can't afford" this guy or that. I am convinced that's a bunch of hogwash. Being a big market team and acting like one doesn't mean spending "indiscriminately." But it does mean being aggressive and smart, and if necessary, taking the risk that you might have to eat some salary on the back end of a contract here or there.

    We've seen the projected lineups with Tanaka, Ellsbury, Bryant and Beaz in them. And that can be a reality by next July. Throw in Alcantara and a suprise or two (Olt?) and Cubs can make some noise very, very soon.

    This approach is not giving up on the rebuild. Its not "buying" a contender. It's using our assets wisely. And, gosh darn it, one of the assets Cubs are not using is the Ricketts' largess.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I got no skin in this game... I just find it hard to bash Ricketts for being "cheap" when he is eating a substantial sum of money in bad contract from the previous regime. i.e., Zambrano, Marmol, Soriano, etc.... They've paid market or above market rates when they felt they had to (attempt @ Sanchez and the E-Jax deals).

    If we were one or two pieces away from making a run, then okay. But we're not there yet. We don't know where )other than TOR SP's) we will need a FA to contribute. We can say "Baez and Bryant" are ready... but doo doo occurs, so let's wait til they are here and Olt/Soler/Almora have answered some questions, etc...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I have yet to see any indication that the Ricketts family is cheap in spending on the team. Since buying the team, they have built a world class baseball academy in the DR and a first class training facility in Mesa. And they are in the process of spending mammoth money to renovate the decaying Wrigley Field.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    My criticism of the Ricketts family flows from Theo's comments a few months back to the effect that he has been confronted with greater financial constraints than he anticipated. I seem to recall something along those lines. And, of course, we've seen a sharp decrease in payroll. So I'm eagerly waiting to see what they do this offseason and where payroll will be for next season.

    And those comments came soon after we heard stories about how Zell forced a leveraged sale and so the Ricketts have to service more debt than they anticipated. Now that debt simply means they didn't have to put nearly as much money down, which in turn means that they have excess capital they no doubt invested elsewhere to generate revenue to service that debt. So the deal structure is no excuse for the financial constraints.

    Ultimately, however, I'm reserving judgment on the Ricketts. As others have pointed out above, it may well be smarter to not spend money now and to wait for our prospects to get here and see what we got and what we need. But I do reject views premised on the notion that the Cubs "can't afford" this guy or that. They can afford whatever they want.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Your assumption is that Ricketts misled Theo when he came on board.

    I think Theo and Jed are frustrated that the revenue stream hasn't started yet. But I think they are frustrated with the Mayor, City Council, Tom Tunney and the rooftop owners. If anything, they are sympathetic to Ricketts and all the crap he has to deal with.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    That is my assumption. My other assumption is that the "new" revenue streams are targeted for financing the Wrigley renovations, not the team's payroll, so the political crap should not be the source of Theo's frustration and comments on unanticipated financial constraints. I further assume that recent published reports about Cubs having 3rd or 4th highest revenues and profitability in 2013 suggest the financial constraints are self-imposed.

    Of course, none of this has anything to do with whether the money should be spent on, for example, Ellsbury, this year. I'd like to see that happen, but I respect that other way more knowledge baseball minds than mine can disagree.

    Thank you for your comments and insights, gentlemen. (Can't wait to see Versteeg skate with Hawks tomorrow night. Very happy he's back).

    Cheers!

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    That reminds me of when George Allen took over as GM (of the Redskins?). When he was fired a couple of years later, the comment of the owner was "we gave him an unlimited budget, and he immediately exceeded it".

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Hoosier... Excellent point on the bad contracts that TR has eaten. The 2014 tab is a bit over $70mm - including $13mm for Sori. It's done and we got back what seems to be a reasonable arm and $5mm in salary relief.
    Add in the Zambrano and Marmol mess and it's not chump change. And that's not including the $2 mildo they wasted on Stewart. Doo doo happens; as John mentioned, TR seems willing to pull the trigger if the F.O. says something makes sense. Soler was proof of that!

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    How shrewd of a marketing move will it look if he gets a nine figure contract and spends the next couple seasons off and on the DL over and over while producing few wins in between?

    If he was signed, he'd be a good player on a bad team for a couple years then when the team is really improving, he will be the guy getting worse even while getting paid more.

    If he was I difference maker, I'd be behind this.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Golden PR move this winter. Of course, bad down the road if Ellsbury is constantly on DL or turns to crap. That's an inherent risk. I think he is a difference make because he solves so many problems for us over the next three years that he's worth the risk.

    I don't see him "getting worse" over the next three years or so and I believe Cubs are much closer to being a good team than you believe. Lots of "ifs" but many of those ifs can break our way. Ultimately, depends on what we can get him for. I'm not saying sign a blank check. But I would like to see Cubs make a serious run at him. And as I tried to explain above, Cubs can in fact afford it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    I guess that's where our opinions differ. I would much rather wait until there's far fewer "ifs".

    Because the "if" I see is - What if we can't afford the real difference maker down the road because we picked up guys along the way that aren't playing like we'd hoped but are still getting paid big.

  • Ellsbury for 4 yr will work, but Boras will not

  • Too much risk in Ellsbury in my opinion, especially if you're looking for his real value to be in 3-4 years.

  • And not that it matters but I had to read "The Old Man and the Sea" (yes it was already written) in high school, and hated it. lol

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Ha. It's been a long time for me too. I must admit a small part of it is that I just enjoy photoshopping Theo Epstein. I hope he has a good sense of humor about it!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm sure that pic is a first even for him...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ha! Probably.

  • I wonder if the Pirates rumor is predicated on Burnett coming back. If he is, it doesn't make a lot of sense for the Pirates to add a 6th starter. In 2015, the young Pitchers the Cubs want would be starting to work their way into the rotation.

  • Nobody's getting Tanaka. The MLB rescinded the offer to the NPB.
    Small market teams now want the posting fee included in the teams salary cap for penalty purposes. It's not going to happen, and it looks like the posting fee system is dead in the water.

    I think Tanaka will be a free agent in 2-3 years.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Damn!

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Actually, that is probably a good thing for the Cubs. Tanaka will become available just when the Cubs need him, and just when the increased revenue streams come on line.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    It also can't hurt Shark's value to have another SP off the market this offseason.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Or Tanaka's arm could fall off by then considering how he's been used and abused in Japan.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Sorry ghost dawg I didn't see your post before making the same point below.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    The posting agreement remains intact. The small market teams can not get their wish without renegotiating the CBA, and the MLBPA informed the owners that they weren't going to re-open the CBA.

    There's links on MLBTR for those who want to dissect it.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/11/mlb-amending-posting-system-proposal-agreement-may-not-be-reached.html

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    There is no agreement in place. They rescinded the offer from the NPB

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    This was the take-away I got from the mlbtraderumors article.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    updated as of 1am today... Tanaka should still be available...

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/tanaka-availability-mlb-teams-season-doubt-article-1.1517396

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    that ny daily news story is the only article saying that.

    From the NY Times:

    After the deal fell apart in Thursday’s meeting, Manfred told reporters that the delay by the Japanese in approving M.L.B.’s proposal allowed for the divisions over the new posting system to emerge. Under the proposal submitted to the Japanese, the major league team with the winning bid would pay the average of the top two bids.

    “In today’s meeting there was discussion that will require us to go back to the Japanese and have some further conversation about the proposal we made to them,” Manfred said. “It sat out there for a long time. They couldn’t give us an answer, and we’re going to have to go back to them and talk to them about where we are right now.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/sports/baseball/dispute-jeopardizes-new-posting-system-for-japanese-players.html

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Then you are reading what you want to to and missing this part that was printed in the NYTimes article you linked:

    "A new deal is still expected to emerge in time for teams to make posting offers on Tanaka this off-season. But if it does not, Japanese teams could allow their players to negotiate with specific teams they choose and then receive some kind of compensation from the major league team, perhaps in the form of a joint cooperation agreement."

    If you want to split hairs about a "deal being in place" Fine, you win that point. But my point is still that Tanaka will be made available which even your article insinuates....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    The deal is expected to be approved on Monday.

  • Hi John, long time reader, and first time poster, love the site. Am I crazy in thinking that the cubs should look for value signings and steer clear of Ellsbury, as well as any other free agent with a QO attached. I guess I just have the belief that since we were so starved for top tier talent (Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters used to be our top prospects) is now really the time to look at someone like Ellsbury? We now have a top 5 system, and that's great, but are we really deep enough, or solid enough farm system wise to look at giving up a pick, to sign a FA like Ellsbury? I used to love guys like him when all they used to cost was money. Now guys like him cost money, and a pick, and though I know giving up a 2nd round pick may not seem like alot to some, I really believe, it's still giving up a chance at a potential assett. As far as top tier FA go, unless his last name is Tanaka, I'm passing, and taking the pick.

  • In reply to salesguy:

    Thanks salesguy.

    Not crazy at all. In fact, I think they'll almost certainly do exactly that. They'll pass on guys like Ellsbury and try to find better value until the prospects come up..

    Tanaka is a different story. He only costs money.

  • The more I think about the Samardzija situation the more it seems like he has to get traded. With the market cost of Price, Scherzer, Tanaka, etc. being so high, Samardzija becomes a very nice cheap (albeit not as top shelf) option. Two years of team control for competitive teams like the Nats, Pirates, or Diamondbacks is highly desirable and I think inflates his value. In addition these teams are loaded with the kind of currency we seek: prospects, specifically of the pitching variety.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Agree, ask for a teams 2 of their top pitching prospects and more

  • And if it is true that Tanaka is not off the market, that raises the trade value of Samardzija

  • fb_avatar

    Not sure if I read this correctly, but a report yesterday said mlb owners and npb can't seem to come to an agreement on changes to the posting system, meaning tanaka might not get posted at all this winter. That agreement was supposed to be done by Nov 1.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    old news... the game is still on

  • fb_avatar

    Tanaka, Tanaka, Tanaka. Love to nab him but it's starting to look like he just won't be available....... TO ANYONE

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9976184/mlb-withdrawing-proposal-japan-bidding-system

    If Tanaka is not going to be available then maybe the Cubs to in fact turn to Ellsbury.

    Then I'd be more inclined to say Olt does in fact get the 3B job out of Spring training. The Cubs may be looking to add more value with Olt as trade bait. Then we see Baez or Bryant take over at 3B for the long run.

    That is of course if Castro isn't sent elsewhere. This whole thing is getting juicier each day!

    Go Cubs Go!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    I had to go to MLBTR to get you up to speed and I am not a fan of that sute but here you go, as of 5:18 PM yesterday:

    The posting arrangement isn't in jeopardy of falling apart, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (all Twitter links). The issue amongst the owners was that some small-market owners wished for posting fees to be counted against the luxury tax. This couldn't happen, however, unless the collective bargaining agreement was changed, and the MLBPA informed the owners that they weren't going to re-open the CBA.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Thanks, I just saw that. But still unsure what this all means for the posting of Tanaka. I really don't think a decision has been made either way. But I'm sure as soon as this issue is over the flood gates will open for teams waiting to make a deal.

    The Cubs for example could be putting all of their eggs in the Tanaka basket. If something changes they will quickly adjust. So I'll wait a bit longer before we really know what's going on.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    that ny daily news story is the only article saying that.

    From the NY Times:

    After the deal fell apart in Thursday’s meeting, Manfred told reporters that the delay by the Japanese in approving M.L.B.’s proposal allowed for the divisions over the new posting system to emerge. Under the proposal submitted to the Japanese, the major league team with the winning bid would pay the average of the top two bids.

    “In today’s meeting there was discussion that will require us to go back to the Japanese and have some further conversation about the proposal we made to them,” Manfred said. “It sat out there for a long time. They couldn’t give us an answer, and we’re going to have to go back to them and talk to them about where we are right now.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/sports/baseball/dispute-jeopardizes-new-posting-system-for-japanese-players.html

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    It will be approved formally Monday according to the Japan Times.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    As if Tanaka hasn't pitched enough this year:

    Tanaka is currently in Taiwan with the Eagles for the Asia Series getting under way on Saturday, but he refused to comment on whether he would move to the U.S. next season, saying, “I have to speak to the club first.”

    The annual tournament, which will run until Nov. 20, includes five champion teams from professional baseball leagues in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Europe this year, along with a runner-up of Taiwan's professional league.

  • fb_avatar

    Arizona Fall League ‏@MLBazFallLeague 4m

    Tomorrow's championship game pitching matchup: Mesa RHP Dallas Beeler (#Cubs) vs. Surprise LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (#Orioles).

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Sweet. Beeler has had a very nice offseason

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the trip to the AFL sealed his spot on the 40-man, no?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I like him a lot and I imagine the Cubs think he's at least a borderline decision. He showed good stuff and command - and I think that's more important than even the actual results. He's a sleeper but probably not much more than a bottom of the rotation guy and probably a reliever, so it's close.

  • fb_avatar

    The posting system breaking down may actually be good news for us, if that story is true. Means we get a bite at the Tanaka apple in 2-3 years, when we're hopefully in much better financial shape.

  • fb_avatar

    Here's another thing to think about: it's kinda commonplace to say that draft picks are crapshoots and we don't know what's going to happen. However, this front office has shown a talent for drafting well at the back of the first round and into the second round, when talent has thinned out a bit. How good will these same guys be drafting at the top of the draft?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    We'll probably have another one after next season to look forward to.

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    All this talk about Ellsbury will be moot if he insist on a NTC. Just say'n.

  • To me, giving Ervin Santana 6 and 105 just because we need a starter, giving Brian Wilson or Grant Balfour 4 years and 35-40 (a Papelbon deal basically) because we need a closer, giving Nellie Cruz 3 years and 45-50 just because we could use some right handed pop...those are examples of spending for spending's sake. Gratuitous spending is as much about number of years as it is dollars.

    There are lots of creative ways to entice a FA to chose your 4 or 5 year deal over another very similar (if not identical) four or five year deal without adding years (i.e. insurance packages for extended family, college tuition, travel packages...{I know a guy who was able to get a team to agree to give him 15K per year for life for he and his family to go to Hawaii!!}). I'm so glad this FO isn't going to overpay in years for anyone. Two more million per year? Fine! Two more years? No.

    ** I also think it's possible the FO ambush's us this off-season.

  • If Tanaka is off the market, it might be wiser to keep Spellcheck until July. Teams like the Snakes and the Pirates might be desperate for an arm to get them to the playoffs.

  • Kyle, good to see you here. You should spend more time here and less at BN-much better discourse.

    I think TOR & PIT have the best breadth to make deal.
    I agree with Kevin on Gose-tools machine.

  • My vote for the sneakiest team to get in on Ellsbury is the Nationals. If they can manage to deal Span as was rumored, that would be a win now move that I see them doing. Their projected payroll after arbitration is under 115MM, and dealing span would leave a hole in CF as well as free up 6.5MM in cap space. At this point they are a prime candidate to expand payroll to win now, not to mention the Lerner Group is one of the richest owning groups in baseball. So I could see them giving Ellsbury the deal he desires and keeping him from everyone else.

  • Spoiler Alert!

  • In reply to Colin Waters:

    Haha!

  • If the Pirates are willing to deal Taillon in a deal for Samardzija, I'm pulling the trigger as soon as I confirm no one else is offering a better package. I think landing Taillon, who could potentially step right into the rotation as a future TOR arm, would be a huge win.

  • In reply to kylejo:

    Taillon & Glasnow for Shark would be a great deal for the Cubs

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I'd be amazed if the Pirates did that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If shark is traded that's the value I expect them to get back. They need TOR starters so I'm hoping they go Quality over quantity. Shark has a ton of value even if you assume that he will never be better than what he is now.

    These are the packages I'm hoping for. If Arizona gives in on Bradley then Holmberg is negotiable but the rest I think is what's required.

    Arizona - Bradley, Holmberg
    Washington - Giolito, Cole
    Pirates - Tallion, Glasnow
    Marlins - Heaney, Nicolino
    Mets - Syndergaard, Montero
    Orioles - Bundy, Rodriguez
    Cardinals - Martinez, Jenkins
    Royals - Zimmer, Ventura
    Blue Jays - Sanchez, Stroman

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think they should push for -- and get -- Taillon, but both Tailon and Glasnow in one deal is a lot for the pirates. The second piece could be pretty good, though. Alternatively, I like the idea of either Polanco and either Glasnow or Kingham -- whoever they like more -- but that does kind of side-step the front line pitching issue.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think you could get Glasnow, Kingham and Polanco. I love Kingham by the way.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Sorry, don't think you're getting any of those.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    With the exception of Sanchez Stroman

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Then don't make the deal. The comp pick is pretty valuable.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That I agree with. I think the real thing holding Jeff back from resigning is the state of the team. He has been vocal about not liking selling pieces off every year and you can't blame him. He has also been vocal about wanting to win here. I think whether or not the team begins to contend by the end of his arb years is the main factor in his likeliness to resign.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I think it's the money. And if we can get more than a comp pick -- and I do think we can -- you make the deal. I think Sanchez is a very real possibility, and that's a nice get.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I really like the way both the Pirates and Jays line up for a possible trade partner. Of the guys you list I'd take Sanchez but would stay away from Stroman and see if Norris or Nolin would also available.

    Stroman has been suspended already for PED's. He says he didn't know he was taking the stuff and I'd say I didn't know I would have to take you as part of my deal.... lol

    Also Norris or Nolin are both lefty's and we could always use another lefty in our arsenal......

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I doubt the Royals would give up their top 2 prospects. I don't see the Royals as much of a fit as everybody else does. They'd be better off signing a guy like Kazmir or Colon.

    The Orioles you can say the same thing. They probably are't trading Bundy. They'd probably take their chances with Kazmir or Colon as well.

    It's not that those are outrageous payments, but both teams would be better off waiting on those young guys.

    The Cardinals won't trade for Samardzjia, they have pitching in spades. The Mets wouldn't do it because Harvey is injured and let's be honest here, Samardjia isn't enough if Harvey wasn't enough, all things being equal.

    Forget the Marlins as well, Samardzjia does nothing for them.

    That leaves, I think, the teams everybody thinks are the consensus landing spots: ARZ, who won't pay, and PGH, WAS and TOR.

    Of those, I'd like the Blue Jays package the least, though Sanchez has an incredibly high ceiling. Those other guys are closer to being a sure thing though.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Royals backs are up against the wall and they gave away a much better prospect last year for Shields. They could make a run at Price or Scherzer, but I'm not sure they have the prospects. Zimmer for Shark may be the best they can do, and they have to do something.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I just think they are better served signing a guy like Colon or Kazmir or Josh Johnson. I also do not think they're backs are up against the wall. But if you are saying they have a prime opportunity right now I agree. But they have a solid farm system and guys like Mondesi, Zimmer, Manaea (if he's healthy), Ventura, Hunter Dozier could put them in a position to be long term winners in a division that has a lot of turnover every few years.

    I think they will stay the course, keep their youth and sign a pitcher rather than trade for one. I could be wrong though.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    They traded away their best prospect, by far, to get 2 years of James Shields. That essentially gave them a 2-year window. They really have to get some talent around Sheilds this year. The reason the Shields and Santana deals were made is because free agents refuse to sign with KC. (Dempster wouldn't even consider it last year.) If Moore doesn't win now, it's just a matter of time before he's fired. And he knows that.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think Mike actually makes a good point there. The Royals kinda went all-in already last year.

    I mean, that was a big trade then, but now that Wil Myers has won the ROY award, they look THAT MUCH worse if they don't win.

    Zimmer + Manaea would be wonderful ( I know he can't technically be trade yet but don't teams sometimes mark new guys as a PTBNL until they're eligible?)

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    But it's not a two-year window. They have a million options. They can resign Shields. He loves it there. They have a strong farm system that is almost 10-deep in potential major league talent even without Myers. It looks to me like they are in a stage where they can be competitive for years. They aren't going to empty their farm system's best pitching depth for two years of Jeff Samardzjia. I can't even find one person who mentions them as a potential trading partner other than Tom Loxas and the people on these boards who think Dayton Moore is an overpaying, win now zealot that is ripe for the picking. He's not.

    Now I know Tom has some insider connections, but he has been dead wrong as much as he has been right on a lot of things he has posted. But that's not a disservice to him, that's just the nature of his business. I could say the same about Peter Gammons, Ken Rosenthal and a host of other "insiders."

    Hey man, I fully respect your opinion but I disagree. I'm no expert either though. But my daughters are going to murder me if I don't take them to Pizza Hut for wings and breadsticks in the next five minutes. Agree to disagree on this one. I hope you're right. Zimmer and Ventura would be the haul of the century for Shark. I just don't see why KC would want to do that.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    They don't have the money to re-sign Shields. When he's gone, it's back to rebuild. Moore won't survive.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I would love to see the Cubs farm system with the same 'problem' as Kansas City's farm system in a year or two (we may even be close to that now without realizing it).

    At some positions now - we ARE several layers deep in quality, potentially ML-level guys (even if not superstars in the making) in our Farm System.

    We don't have as much in the way of top-tier starting pitching - but even then with the addition of the likes of Edwards, and with a bunch of potential #3/#4 guys who could come up and contribute over the next several years - that's not as bad as it used to be either. The one thing the system does lack (other than maybe Edwards or Vizciano if he's healthy) is a #1 guy in waiting.

    It's always easier and cheaper to restock and reload from within.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    The entire league is flush with money, KC is no exception. They can re-sign Shields if they want to. They have a great farm system. Moore is not going to lose his job with the work he has done getting that team to where they are now.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    And even if they were on a one-year window, it makes way more sense to sign Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir or Bartolo Colon than to trade your top two prospects for Jeff Samardzjia, who they won't be able to re-sign in two years anyway if they are as strapped for cash as you say they are. They couldn't even pay his arb earnings.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    It's been 8 years without a playoff appearance. His job is in real danger -- at some point a great minor league system means nothing if they don't win.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    But they're not going to launch the guy after what he's done. His job is safe I am sure.

    Either way, my point is not to talk about Dayton Moore's job status, I really don't care if he keeps his job or not. The point is, is that it would be foolhardy to trade for Jeff Samardzjia for all the same reasons that you say they can't re-sign James Shields. It makes no sense. I said agree to disagree so can we stop no? I get it. I'm sure there is less than a one percent chance of that trade happening, Zimmer and Ventura straight up for Samardzjia. No GM would make that trade. None. But it's a great haul, so no harm in crossing our fingers and hoping the guy strokes out and makes the offer.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    The Orioles don't like relying on young pitchers. They would much rather use veteran pitchers. I am telling you Bundy is in play for the Orioles.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I would hope so. I love Dylan Bundy. I know you are a prospect guy and we tend to agree on almost everything. But when I look at the dynamics of that ballclub, to me, it just makes more sense for them to go free agency than all in on Samardzjia. Then again, I have friends who work in baseball as agents and scouts who tell me that Samardzjia is going to have a similar break out year in 2014 as Scherzer did in 2013. My next door neighbor is an agent (no high profile players, he just reps a ton of low draft picks in baseball and non-drafted free agents in football) and he thinks Samardzjia is a 3-1 shot to win the Cy Young next year. I don't believe him, but I probably respect his opinion on player analysis as much as anybody.

    If I really thought that, I would be willing to give up Bundy I guess. Like I said, I would love it for the Cubs, almost as much as possibly getting Giolito.

    It would kill my AL Dynasty farm team though.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Michael, I hope your next door neighbor is right about Shark. But if I can get Giolito and Cole for him, I would do it.

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    If Cole or Sanchez are the best offer we get for Samardzija- We're better off keeping him and hoping for a little more growth. If he signs cheap (and he won't), you have a solid middle of the rotation fixture.

    If Gioloto or Bradley are on the table? Yeah. That's an easy trade.
    If we trade Samardzija, we need it to be at maximum value.
    We may get a better offer midseason, too.

    I'm against Ellsbury for anymore than 3-4 years. I feel like someone does go ahead and give him 120+ million. And I hope it's not the Cubs. Too much injury history. Only one standout season. A skillset of tools prone to decline. But for the right price?
    Yeah. Protection in the lineup. Good outfield defense. Eases pressure on the farm and thus creates more assets.
    No way you offer of a no-trade clause, though.

    If I'm the FO, I keep low-balling Jeff on money, too. He's more valuable to a contender than us. Especially if he nets us a rotation anchor for years.
    In my opinion, it's one more year of a full rebuild. But 2015 will get interesting. And that's about the point where I'd want to start spending a little money.

  • If they can't sign him this offseason, they need to move him now. They can't take thetype of injury/performance risk they did with Garza. Somebody will cave, talent-wise,on account of FA sticker shock.

  • Sanchez, Drabek, Gose?

    Glasnow + either Polanco or Kingham?

    Who says no?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    The pirates I think you could get all three.

  • Jed on Kaps show just now "I certainly hope that Darwin is going to be our second baseman this year."

  • Giolito. Bradley. Bundy. Miller. Get me two of these, please. Sign Tanaka. Wait for the kiddie bats to begin arriving in 2015. All problems solved.

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    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    two?

    What sorcery is this?

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Maybe a 3-way trade with guns to the heads of other GMs while they are tied to a chair with bags over their heads.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I like it!

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    A lot of people think no Bradley= no deal with AZ.

    Personally, if they WERE willing to part with Skaggs, I'd still pull the trigger if we could get secondaries like Holmberg, Eaton, and say, Chaffin. That's still a really nice package IMO

    I'd be surprised if they let go of Skaggs, but I've read (speculation likely, but regardless) that they're willing to deal him.

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    John, I'm a bad dad. You're addictive site and the wonderful, intelligent debate has cost me a dinner date with my two daughters. They ordered delivery and won't share and just gave me a Cubs Den time out. See you guys tomorrow. And when they go to their mom's for the weekend I am probably going to get shot at.

    See you guys. I have to go now. Madagascar trilogy is beckoning.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    ha! I totally agree. While I'm addicted, I think the rest of my family hates this site.

  • Have you seen much of Skaggs? Despite his status as a highly-touted prospect, he doesn't do much for me; stuff seems pretty so-so. ARI is undesirable ,IMO, for the very reason that Bradley isn't happening.

    If agree with others here that PIT and TOR match up much better. I highly doubt Rizzo gives up Giolito ,either.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Agree on Skaggs.

    Giolito is fascinating. If I were Rizzo, I wouldn't give him up. There's more than a little wishful thinking here but, unlike the Cubs, the Nationals are in their window right now. Giolito probably won't pitch for them next year, and even 2015 is debatable. Moreover, with the contracts already on the books and extensions to guys like Strasburg and, further off, Harper coming up, I can see why a cost controlled guy like Shark appeals to them. I saw one report that Rizzo thinks Shark will blossom next year, which also suggests that eh wants Shark, in particular.

    If Pittsburgh and Toronto are in, the only guy he can use to pry Shark away is Giolito.

    Is all that enough to get Rizzo to cave? Probably not. But I don't think it's a zero percent chance, either.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    I'm not saying I prefer Skaggs in any special way, but depending on the alternatives, I'm optimistic about him.

    Sanchez doesn't appeal to me, and if Washington are unwilling to part with Gioloto, I agree with Mike that it's a dealbreaker.

    Clearly I would like Bradley, but AZ likes him too much.
    If we were able to snag him, the secondaries probably wouldn't be much. All I was saying is Skaggs + good secondaries still is appealing. To me, anyway.
    I realize Skaggs didn't play great last year, but a couple months certainly doesn't forecast his whole career.

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    Just saw that the Pirates are interested in Castro.

    Reverse ARam?

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Trading with Pitt for Shark sounds appealing.

    I have zero interest in giving up Castro, though. They don't have enough. Not close.

    Shark is unwilling to sign, so we're doing what we can.

    Castro is sign through 2020 to an extremely team-friendly deal. Even the A's and Rays could afford Castro.
    The Pirates would need to empty their system out. Taillon, Glasnow, Heredia, Polanco, and Meadows, Ngoepe, and McGuire Then I'd still want their Comp pick and Intl spending money.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I think that's a big much. But for Castro, without Shark, I'd demand Taillon, Polanco, and Kingham. Possibly Hansen, too. They would then say no and we'd move on.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    You think they'd say no?

    Taillon is a good player but I've read a lot that his fastball is more hitable than you'd think. Polanco hasn't really put up outstanding numbers, and Henson is the Dominican Darwin Barney.

    You think they'd turn that down for a SS wose had two 300 season by 23 and is cost controled into his thirties?
    OK.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    The Pirates are extremely gunshy about trading prospects. That pretty much cleans them out.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    This. Can't remember the last time the Pirates traded a top prospect. Now they field a team full of good young players and have become semi-competitive. Yet some people seem to think that's blasphemy around here. Even though I think over half the playoff teams had low payrolls.

    Nope, don't care, spend dat money!!!!!

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    But when was the last time they were contenders also?

  • Mike, where did you see Castro bit?

    Back to Shark discussion, doesn't it seem like we just can't get that one top-shelf arm in a deal. In the last 2 yrs, we've received some pretty good pieces back( Edwards, Vizcaino, Arrieta) but where is our Wheeler or Syndergaard?

    Maybe Shark gets it done. Do we consider Sanchez or Glasnow to be elite?

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Obstructed view had a link yesterday on Castro.

  • John, great stuff.. hey are you aware of the term "win curve" and if so maybe do a piece on it to enlighten some of us who arent. maybe relate it to where the cubs stand

  • I don't see Castro being trade not because of the Cubs but because 8 out of the 10 scouts I talked to won't touch him and believe he will continue to regress. Because they don't think he is strong enough to mentally to rebound.
    On the other hand they believe Rizzo will come back strong and be fine.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Serious question. May I ask what they are basing Castro being mentally weak on? How did these scouts determine that he is a headcase and that will keep him from amounting to anything?

    I'm still confused as to where all that talk came from in the first place. Because he forgot how many outs there were once?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Here is what I was I was told. In the minors he never experienced any long term slumps so there was no idea on how he would react. Second his lack of focus and the fact that he is easily distracted shows mental and emotional immaturity. Third his body language on the field everything affects him, shoeing that the confidence is only on the surface and doesn't run deep.

    These are not my opinions these are from MLB level scouts. One the flip Rizzo has failed and reacted by working harder. One scout said the Kid had Cancer I don't see a bad season killing his confidence.

  • Pie in the sky. I just don't see anyone giving up any of those top prospects for Shark. His performance to date simply doesn't merit it.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I understand your thought process but the fact is Samardzija has promise. Samardzija's raw talent is the same as Garza's was when the Cubs traded for him. A lot of talent not great results. There were a lot of teams willing to give up a lot of young talent for him.
    And right now there are a lot more teams that look like they are a move or two away from making a big leap then there was then. I know a few scouts that believe that give the right environment (and they don't thing Chicago is because he is to emotionally involved). he could blossom into a solid #2.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Well stated.

    The haul that TB got in return is a good comparison.
    Gives ya something to be optimistic about should a trade be the way.

  • Insightful article & intelligent posts, fellas', thnx. for the great site, John.:):)

  • It is going to be interesting to read the comments from everyone if the Cubs sign Samardzija to an extension. Seems like everyone is fired up on the prospects the Cubs would/should/could get back in a deal and that could lead to some serious disappointment from many.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I believe there was a lot of talk of the Cubs re signing Garza too and that didn't happen.

  • Following up on what KGallo said regarding Castro & Rizzo and why I am somewhat hesitant to bring Ellsbury in, despite him being a great player and a huge upgrade over David DeJesus. It's critical for Castro and Rizzo to have bounce back years next year.

    So, let's assume the Cubs sign Ellsbury and bat him leadoff. Now Castro drops from his preferred leadoff spot to second, where he now must take pitches to allow Ellsbury to try and advance on a stolen base. In that scenario, the team basically loses the ability to get "the old Castro" back, so then where does Renteria move a hacking singles hitter to? Some have said seventh. OK, assuming he approaches 200 hits next season, the Cubs then have someone like Barney and the pitcher batting behind him. So then Renteria says, wait a minute, that won't work either and then the Cubs are back to the Dale Sveum approach of moving him all around the batting order, but that didn't work either. Basically, if you sign Ellsbury, you may as well trade Castro.

    Then you've got Rizzo and his issues with RISP. With him hitting third behind a legitimate leadoff hitter who is assumed to steal 35-50 bases next season, even if Rizzo makes considerable improvement in his avg. with RISP, I think you are still looking at a hitter being put into a position to fail even more than succeed, especially without the benefit of a legitimate cleanup hitter behind him. So, incremental improvement in his avg. with RISP still leaves his BA below acceptable for a No. 3 hitter.

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    In reply to Cleme:

    I think Castro excels at taking pitches and knowing the strike zone, so batting him second is not the detriment you think it is. Ellsbury, at this point of his career, does not need a lot of protection on the base paths. Further, if he steals second, you can't pitch around Castro because if you walk him it's two on, nobody out and your 3-4-5 hitters coming up with speed on the base paths.

    Signing Ellsbury and batting Castro second might cut down on Castro's stolen bases. But if he regains his old form, you are talking about a gap to gap hitter with sneaky power that would be one of the most dangerous #2 hitters in baseball.

    A #2 hitter is not a guaranteed sacrifice or out, in fact, the Cubs don't believe in sacrificing players because it gives up a potential base runner and gives you two outs in an inning instead of three.

    You may be overanalyzing it a bit. I think the process should be to concentrate on getting Castro back to his pre-extended slump form and not worry about where he bats in the order. Besides, if Castro was a decent enough lead-off hitter the Cubs wouldn't be looking for one to begin with.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Sorry Mr. Canter, I had to get to a meeting this morning and didn't have time to finish my thought, which is if Bryant becomes your No. 4 hitter by 2015 and grows into that role, then an Ellsbury signing would perhaps make more sense. I don't think Castro is well equipped to handle the nuances of being a No. 2 hitter, but he certainly has the talent to prove me wrong. Obviously, if you look back at the '84 team with Dernier leading off followed by Sandberg and Gary Matthews who was a walk machine that year, it would be easy to envision Ellsbury giving you more than Dernier, Castro utilizing the gap to gap hitting you refer to and Rizzo being more of an OBP guy like Sarge was, with Bryant being able to give you way more than Leon Durham in the 4 hole. It's a batting order that would be very interesting in 2016 if Ellsbury stays healthy (a big if) and if Castro, Rizzo and Bryant all play up to their potential.

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    In reply to Cleme:

    Excellent points Cleme!

  • I realize this is WAY down the list of concerns/priorities but can we look forward to a new, if only temporary, 2B next yr.

    Of all the frustrations the major -league club has supplied the last couple seasons, I find his offensive ineptitude increasingly difficult to stomach. That being said, I'd love to keep him on as a utility type, but arb raises may prevent that.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I would guess Alcantara will get promoted to 2B sometime near the end of the year. Theo/Jed will want him to get his 400-500 ABs in AAA. He will probably be our 2B for years to come. Be patient it will happen soon.

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    If Olt sticks at 3B and pushes Bryant to RF, I think Baez will end up at second. Unless, of course, all this Castro trade talk comes to fruition.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    If that happens, Baez could also be bumped to LF with Alcantara going to 2B. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

  • I would like to know what the hang up is between shark and FO? I really believe that the Jackson contract is gonna bite the cubs in the ass on why can't get deal done. U know shark's agent is gonna use that for leverage.

    I also don't get if they do sign Ellsbury why they would trade shark. To me it you gonna sign a "older guy" then why get rid of a pretty young arm? If you are gonna sign below average players to bridge the gap then i understand trading shark for a couple younger arms to add to the mix. Will be an interesting few weeks and give us all something to talk about.

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