Guest Post: Bayside view of the Rebuild

Editor’s Note:   [Daniel is a California Cubs fan and “Den-izen” who is an avid reader of the site and occasional commenter under the name “gocubsgo25” (in honor of Derrek Lee). He is currently a freshman studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Random Cubs connection: as a Little-Leaguer, he worked (very briefly) with former UCSB pitching coach and part-time youth pitching instructor Tom Myers, who is now the Cubs’ head scout for the Central Coast region of California.]

A Bayside View of the Rebuild

By Daniel Gay

 

As a Cubs fan who has never actually lived in Chicago despite having many ties to the city, I have had a different experience with Cub-fandom than many. Having spent most of the last nine years in a bastion of Dodger Blue before recently moving to a place on the orange-green border between Giants and A’s fans, I have spent most of my time well out of range of Chi-town sports talk radio, and thanks to this site I have been able to avoid the Tribune website entirely for more than a year and a half. (With the exception of following a single link to see Marcel take Phil Rogers to task in the comments section of one column, which was worth breaking the streak for.)

 

The Cubs are nowhere near the center of the sports universe out here and rarely merit mention in local media unless they are playing a California team. The main effect for me is that I spend a lot of time discussing California teams, and since coming to the Bay Area recently I have had the opportunity to talk quite a lot with local fans about the Giants and A’s. Recently, I have come to realize that both teams share some interesting parallels with the Cubs that have me excited for the years ahead. It has reinforced for me how important it is for the front office to stay the course on the rebuild, but it also makes me more concerned about the bumps in the road on the business side of the ball.

 

Roll back the clock to the start of the 2004 season, and there were five teams working on a World Series drought of fifty years or more: the Giants, Indians, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cubs. In the decade that followed, three of those teams combined to win six of the last ten World Series. (Two of the remaining four were won by the Cardinals, who are readily acknowledged on this site as a model organization.) A lot has been said already about the encouraging fact that the core of the front office that built much of the foundation for the Red Sox’ three rings is currently at the helm of the Cubs’ baseball operations.

 

The path to the two World Series won by the San Francisco Giants may not immediately prompt comparisons to the current Cubs rebuild, but the past decade started with both teams, two of the National League’s oldest, in a similar situation and on a similar trajectory. The Cubs were (and still are, quite obviously) seeking their first championship since 1908, while the Giants had their own half-century-long drought stretching back to before their departure from New York. Both teams had experienced pressure and drama related to their droughts. The Cubs, of course, were seeing their run of futility run long enough that it would soon be necessary to add another digit to the “Eamus Catuli” sign on Sheffield. In the early ‘90s, the Giants had been on the verge of leaving for a fresh start and brand-new stadium in Tampa (a move that was only stopped by a vote of National League owners). One fan base was tired of the “lovable losers” label, the other would use the word “torture” to describe their team’s propensity to make it to the brink before falling short.

 

Both teams had come within striking distance of a World Series victory in the two preceding years under Dusty Baker, only to be felled by the Rally Monkey and then Steve Bartman. (Or more likely, a certain manager’s inability to manage a pitching staff effectively.) Both teams then followed a similar arc in the years that followed, underperforming in 2005 and 2006 due to aging offenses and injuries to key young arms in the rotation. Free agency was then approached in an attempt to try and solve their problems, the Cubs of course with their now-infamous $300 million off-season and the Giants with the infamous-from-day-one Barry Zito signing.

 

The big difference is that Brian Sabean and the Giants changed their approach sooner, and that course corrections paid dividends: the Giants have 22 playoff wins in the last decade to the Cubs’ 0. After signing Zito—which to a large extent may have been necessary to give the pitching staff a stabilizing, albeit very expensive veteran presence—and overpaying for Aaron Rowand a year later, the majority of the team’s moves went toward building up a strong farm system and resisting the siren’s call of free agency. Looking at the 2010 team that won the World Series, the headliners were Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and newcomer Madison Bumgarner at the top of the rotation and an enough-to-get-by with offense led by Pablo Sandoval and Rookie of the Year Buster Posey—all five of them drafted or developed by the Giants farm system. Meanwhile, Barry Zito and his $126 million contract were left off the playoff roster. Two years later, many key contributors were front and center again. The supporting players were mainly acquired through well-timed trades (such as for Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro) as well as shrewd, smaller signings, as in the case where they signed Pat Burrell when the rest of the league had given up on him.

 

The Sabean administration is far from perfect. Committing to four years of Angel Pagan last off-season before recommitting a lot of the salary money just freed up by long-awaited expiration of the Zito contract toward several years of late-prime and post-prime Hunter Pence will likely look like a mistakes down the road. The 2011 trade deadline deal that sent one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, Zack Wheeler, straight-up for two months of Carlos Beltran is a marquee example of the danger inherent in trades of desperation (particularly when the other party has more leverage), particularly since they failed to make the playoffs that year. But overall, the Giants have succeeded where it matters most. They have won two championships in three years, galvanized a fan base that has embraced the team and become one of the more enthusiastic ones in baseball, and despite a poor win-loss record this last season still have a competitive major league roster and talent in the minor leagues.

 

Were there questions asked by fans and the media when the defending champs went 76-86 this last year? Yes. Are there some calling for Brian Sabean to be fired? A few. But on the whole, the Giants are in a pretty good place going into future seasons. All of this underscores the importance of the Cubs staying the course and resisting the pressure from the media and season ticket holders to move before the timing is right.

 

However, there will be a time to act, and there is another team by the Bay that has demonstrated how a rebuild can fall short if a front office is not given the resources needed to take that final step. The Oakland A’s are credited for revolutionizing the industry and ushering in a new era of baseball team management; the new perspective immortalized in “Moneyball” that was pioneered by the A’s in the early aughts—building through the draft, taking a hard look at the way the rest of the league values players, exploiting the inefficiencies and openings created by others’ miscalculations—is at the core of what McEpstoyer (I personally like to acknowledge McLeod in the acronym) accomplished in Boston and what they are trying to do here in Chicago.

 

The A’s, however, have not made it to a World Series in the Billy Beane era. They appear to be at a point where we hope to see the Cubs at the end of 2014: flush with young talent and seemingly one or two small pieces away from putting it all together. What makes the Oakland situation different is the financial bind the Lew Wolff regime has them in. They have been at that cusp for a while—possibly even slightly past it, considering how they’ve won the last two AL West division titles ahead of the deeper-pocketed Rangers and Angels—but have not had the flexibility to make that big step that takes them to that next level. They have managed to maintain a high level of talent and stay within their budgets through some shrewd trades that have mainly swapped players with promising results early in their Major League careers for high-minors prospects with cost-control, moves made necessary by the larger payouts that awaited those players with their impending arbitration eligibility. It is quite remarkable how well the team has weathered the roster turnover that the tight budget has forced in recent years, and has likely extended their window of contention by a few years. But with the exception of going after Yoenis Cespedes, they have not made any huge free-agent splashes in recent memory. After what the 2013 Oakland A’s were able to pull off, imagine most of that roster returning with the addition of, say, Mike Napoli and Shin-Soo Choo.

 

It is after taking a close look at the A’s situation that I find the hold-ups on the business side increasingly worrying. I may not be one of the masses crying incessantly for Crane Kenney’s head to roll (though that may be the isolation from the Chicago media talking again), but if the resource gap is as much a cause for concern as some of Theo and Jed’s comments over the last year or so appear to indicate, then there might be something in need of fixing. I know I am not the first to point out the rivers of money flowing to the teams across the league with new, lucrative broadcasting deals and the fact that the Cubs need some answer to that in order to stay competitive in this new age of baseball economics. And it is also no secret that the Giants’ move from old, chilly Candlestick Park to AT&T Park certainly helped them get to where they are now—making the stops and starts of the Wrigley Renovation frustrating. The new spring training facility in Mesa is certainly a well-fought victory, but the revenue sources for the six months of the regular season (and before too long, October) will have a much greater impact on the financial strength of the team moving forward.

 

It is clear that the front office is waiting until all the stars (and hopefully future All-Stars) align to make the big free-agent splash. As John and company so eloquently and effectively remind us on a regular basis, moving too soon and breaking from the plan can damage the entire rebuilding effort. However, moving too late (or not at all) runs the risk of jeopardizing the rebuild as well, which is why the possibility of the front office not having the financial flexibility is concerning. Much of the team’s strategy is predicated on the assumption that they can make the big moves when the time is right. In light of that, inaction a year or two down the line could arguably be as damaging as indiscretion now.

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  • fb_avatar

    Really good stuff! I have been thinking a lot about the moves, or lack of, that the Cubs have made this Winter. It got me to thinking more about Theo's comments about how the Red Sox had lost their way a little when they signed some of those huge contracts. It seems Theo has learned a lesson that he just does not want to make again.

    He believes in his methods so much that he will never again be moved by the outcry the sign big name free agents until the time is right and the need is there. He is just going to do what he does and he will not alter his course.

    Frustrating while still being refreshing at the same time.....

  • fb_avatar

    Agreed on multiple fronts.
    I live about 25 minutes East of Berkeley, in Walnut Creek.
    I really enjoy the A's fans dedication. Not so much about the Giants. Personally, I just encounter too many bandwagon hoppers on that side of the bay.
    That being said, AT&T is the nicest ballpark I'd ever been to. Hands down.
    In terms of a Cubs strategy moving forward, I appreciate what Billy Beane has done. And I think while we're rebuilding, that's our blueprint. Get bang for your buck. Hope for a breakout year, and sell high for long term assets.
    Sabean has won two championships. And that's cool and all. Giants fans sure like to brag while they win. But they're nowhere to be found when you question giving all that money to Hunter Pence or Angel Pagan. Beltran for Wheeler doesn't make them as angry as it should.
    Eventually, I'd like to see a mostly homegrown team in Chicago. With a continuous development of prospects. And a major market payroll to fill in the gaps. Smart trades and a winning culture. Not handing out 10 year contracts and settling for overpaid years of decline.
    The Beane model is great.
    But we have the advantage of finances. I think the Cubs could be a monster by 2016.

  • Nice post! I used to live about 2 blocks from Wrigley and moved to the bay area in the mid 90's. I also admire the way the Giants and the A's were built and they way they play. I recently moved to the LA area and am now forced to watch checkbook management by the Dodgers and the Angels.

    I'm looking forward to the day when the waves begin arriving for the Cubs and the new media contracts and the other revenue streams will allow for a nice FA or two to fill in any holes in the roster.

    And Daniel, if you want to enjoy very good Chicago style pizza up your way. treat yourself to a deep dish pie from a Zachery's Pizza on College or Solano streets, very similar to Giordano's.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SFToby:

    Zachary's is amazing.
    I stop by the one in Rockridge once a year or so.

  • I'm another Cubs fan living in Giants' territory. I think I would disagree that the 2012 Giants' team is an example of a well-constructed team, and that their 2013 experience is proof of that. Giants winning the 2012 World Series is an example of a not-so-good team suddenly getting hot and almost accidentally winning some crucial games. I would be surprised if the Giants would be competitative down the road. That's my guess. But I'm all in on the Cubs future!

  • In reply to JayPea:

    I don't think that the Giants had a perfect roster back in 2012; I agree that 2013 is likely indicative than that. (Some of that may just be cyclic, though; this most recent season, both Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong were struggling mightily at times, and Matt Cain "only" had a very solid (rather than Cy Young-candidate) season while Buster Posey had an All-Star rather than MVP-caliber year, which made their light offense more exposed.) The main point I had been trying to make was not that they were a perfect team, but that they were able to win on the strength of a core they developed themselves.

    However, I don't think they won anything by accident in 2012. I would find it hard to believe that a "not-so-good" team, no matter how hot, could come back from an 0-2 NLDS deficit to the Reds and a 1-3 NLCS deficit to the Cardinals in the same October. And though they swept Detroit, the Tigers weren't exactly pushovers either.

  • I think it's an interesting difference between the A's and Giants. Their is a parallel as the teams building philosophies tend to reflect the economic disparities between the two cities.

    Chicago has that major market strength, yet they have the FO that is creative and innovative in the way Billy Beane is. I like the combo the Cubs have right now and i expect them to utilize some of what the A's are doing and some of what the Giants have done. It's the best of both worlds really.

  • Good stuff Daniel - I get a lot of the same sorts of out of the area perspectives from media here out in the DC/Baltimore area. So my viewpoint is colored more by the East Coast than your Bay Area.

    Personally - I see a lot of parallels between the current attempted rebuild of the Cubs, and the rebuild that the Nationals started when they first moved to DC (incidentally the year I moved out here from
    my old home in KS). Some of the roster moves I saw the Nats making in 2005-2007, and some of the management shifts, have striking parallels to what Epstoyer are trying to do in Wrigley.

    And the Nats have managed to build a good MiLB system, get a nice revenue-generating upgrade and stadium, and made the playoffs two years ago for the first time since long ago in the Montreal days of this organization.

    I like the way 'we' are going,... and the path and patience need to continue for a bit longer. It'll be worth it in the end.

  • The more reports we're receiving from reputable sources on Tanaka, it really sounds like this is more than window-dressing. That being said, I'll be very alarmed if , in the event hat they don't nab Tanaka, they don't sign one of the group that includes Bailey, Scherzer, et al.

    Given the intelligence & savvy of Epstoyer & Ricketts , I can't imagine that they wouldn't be more forthcoming if the financial restraints were going to be a major hurdle going forward. It'll absolutely torpedo the credibility of the whole org if they come back next offseason and "cry poor". They're approaching, but not quite at, put up or shut up time in terms of wielding their strength in the marketplace.

  • Rumor has it that the Ricketts are in cash flow problems..........if the Roof Top owners start any type of lawsuits with the Cubs, Tom Ricketts might put the Cubs up for sale........with Bud Selig leaving office, look for Mark Cuban to come into the picture as the new Cubs owner.....who will have the cash to buy major free agents.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Do you have any reputable source for these "rumors" or are you just slinging mud? I find that very hard to believe.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I don't buy any of that for a minute. List your sources, please.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    My sources are very good ones.........Ricketts really need this additional revenue from the stadium projects to upstart this club with getting into free agency .....Ricketts also want to start a new cable deal on the Cubs that would be the "Mother Lode" of revenue to buy major free agents.....but if Roof Top owners start litigation according to my sources, it will put a hard hit on the Ricketts money belt.......lawsuits can drag out for years, courts could put a stop order on the Wrigley renovation & sign projects..........Ricketts will not invest the time and effort to pour funds in both legal costs and renovation projects....and there is always a chance the Cubs losing these lawsuits.

    Remember, the Ricketts clan has always been about making a profit ins short term deals......Old man Ricketts believe his son will give up on the Cubs and pursue other avenues for investments due to all the headaches......right now, a Cubs sale would put a hefty investment into Tom Rickett's pockets.

    If you want to know if this is the truth, go talk with investors on LaSalle St. and ask them what is the current cash flow with the Ricketts dealing with the Cubs.

    All I can say is if the Cubs are not major free agent buyers next year at this time, it is not about sticking to Theo's youth plan, more dealing with a lack of funds by the ownership.

    Chicago is a major baseball market. Time for the Cubs to act like one by putting quality players on the field and not AAA back up players.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    That would be a dream come true, but remember we are cubs fans, we don't get good news very often

  • Daniel's well-written article notes the new "rivers of money" flowing to all teams from broadcasting deals, yet according to Forbes, the Cubs are already the MOST profitable team in baseball. They are the Mighty Mississippi in the flow of money. So my head wants to explode whenever Theo or people here suggest that staying the course requires the extreme cost-consciousness of the approach we've had to endure. When it comes to the Cubs, the value of value has been overvalued.

    When the billionaire Ricketts family bought the Cubs I, like many others, joyfully thought we finally had our White Night - and, in Tom, a true fan no less - who could afford to ignore the bottom line. I fully support the rebuild, but did it really require that we endure the worst two-year record in the long, tortured history of this franchise? Did the longest suffering fans in all of sports have to alsi suffer that? Can't the most profitable team give up some of that profit, ignore value here and there, focus less on the bottom line to construct a team for 2014 that could at least flirt with .500? I really don't think I can take the ignonimity of another season like the last two.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    "But did it really require that we endure the worst two year record in the long tortured history of this franchise?"

    Sadly nonforf, yes it did. Remember, the terrible seasons have have netted us Almora and Bryant so far with another top level guy coming next June.

    If the FO had signed anyone of value and skill, we would have picked further down the line and not had the impact guys we have coming in.

    So you can't say you support the rebuild and question if it had to be this bad. It is one way or the other.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    No, rebuilding does not require tanking seasons.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    I totally disagree-
    As Irwin said, those losing seasons likely provided us with an offensive core for years to come.
    Tom could have opened up the checkbook. But, why?
    It took us this long to finally dig our way out of bloated contracts. And even if we'd undergone a Yankees-esq spending spree, it wouldn't sustain us moving forward.
    The options are:
    Contend now. Spend a ton of money, overpay in years. And wind up like the Phillies. A huge payroll of declining veterans that have negative trade value. Forced into a delusion that they can contend in a division full of self-sustaining ballclubs like Washington and Atlanta.
    Or, the correct approach- Scout better. And provide yourself with a deep pipeline of talent, which develops into a core. And use the surplus as positional depth and trade-bait.
    There will be a time to spend money. But it's not now.

  • In reply to Eric Foster:

    I'd love to end up like the Phillies. Um, I seem to recall they won two pennants and a world series within last few years.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    But the pantry is dry now.
    They have a ton of huge contracts.
    They're going to need to tear that down.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    "and, in Tom, a true fan no less - who could afford to ignore the bottom line."

    WTF? Name one successful business owner that does this and I'll show you one defunct. out of business, former business owner...

    They've spent millions on a new facility in the DR, negotiated a new ST facility, spent million on scouting & development talent and technology... They've shown they will spend on FA's that fir their timeline and criteria (E-Jax, pursuit of Sanchez, etc). Are you really pissed at the guy for not throwing away millions on over priced 30+ yo FA's that will have declining skill sets?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Im not saying he should lose money, but if you think Ricketts isn't pocketing tens and tens of millions with slashed payroll and the minor league team that finished last season you need to stop drinking the cool aide. I shelled out $26,000 for 4 useless tickets i couldn't give away the last two years. So, yeah, I'm kinda pissed.

    I'm ok with the rebuild but they can still spend $50 to $100 million more this season and next for short term FAs, instead of picking guys off the scrap heap. That's the money, he's pocketing.

    And, yes, I would be thrilled to have a competitive team next year even knowing it won't win WS, instead of the garbage we got the last two. If Theo needs to be picking in top 3 to draft impact talent, he ain't the genius he's supposed to be. I'm confident he'll do just fine picking at 19 - where Cards got Wacha.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Stay the course. Theo didn't come here to buy his way to a championship, he wants to build a competitive team for years to come. He has his strategy and he is sticking with it. This was signed off on by Ricketts when he was hired. If you cannot see a great deal of change in the philosophy, then you obviously aren't reading the articles in this website closely. Wacha was lucky. Lucky he fell the the Cards, and lucky for them to get such a good player that would advance so quickly. I say give him another 2 years as a good pitcher before we start using him as the defining example of how every team should draft. Also, we were pretty competitive the first half of the season last year with little offense and a terrible bullpen. I would love to see the number of 1 or 2 run games that we lost last season compared to the league average. I don't feel like we were blown away in that many games. The second half of the season was more of a joke, but once again we sold high on lots of our expiring contracts to build for the future.

    I am sorry you blew $26k for tickets, that really blows. There are a bunch of people that would love to have the opportunity to go to games, maybe you can consider donating them to a charity for a tax write off in the future. I am sure the people less fortunate than you that would receive such a generous gift would be thankful and not call them useless. btw what is "cool aide" and what is a "white night"? A white night sounds really beautiful! maybe like a summer night in Alaska where it doesn't get dark? sorry, couldn't let that one go :)

  • I like the recent moves by Theo and I hope more are to come. Signing
    high price FA who will in there later 30s when there contracts run out
    is not the way to go. Also trading top prospects for mid-age players
    is not the way to go neither. Aug 1 will start the next phase of Theo's
    grant plan.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agree. There is a lot to like about the meticulous FO plan, but my personal favorite is paying for future production as opposed to past production.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Well said, emart.

  • I'm a bay area guy, too, now, living in San Carlos. This is a very well thought out article. There are some good lessons to learn from the bay area teams. If the Cubbies can tie the ability of the Giants to home grow their own core players and the ability of the A's to make shrewd trades to improve their future, that would be a heck of a thing. You can see the seeds of that now.

  • Very well said. Interesting seeing perspectives from around the country. Last sentence is indeed foreboding. The perfect storm should hit here within 12 months: another losing season, plummeting attendance plus our potential stars approaching the major leagues (hopefully rapidly). Will there then be some major F/A signings to ease the pressure on the younguns at that point and jump start the rebuilding???

  • .500 is not the goal, a championship is, it drives me nuts when i hear the .500 crowd, its far better to absolutely stink and get high draft picks, waiver claim order and slot money than winning 80 games, its far easier to start a decade of great teams if you can plug in half a roster of impact homegrown talents and go out and sign the 2-4 impact free agents that your system is lacking positionally . if in 2015 forward i dont see impact talent from the farm and at least 1 marquis younger player via FA/ trade then it is reasonable to really start to 2nd guess the ownership/ FO

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    By the end of 2014, we should start to grasp which areas we'll need an upgrade in.
    As for shooting for .500, it's only a sign that we're trending in the right direction. If Baez and Bryant show up and mash, I'm okay with .500. Primarily based in their merit. But we should still absolutely sell off our short term assets in the meantime. We can acquire talent in the summer, and should still wind up with a top 10 pick.
    I'm with you. I'm okay if we suck another year, if it means we can build a dynasty.

  • In reply to Eric Foster:

    You're correct in we should "start to grasp" what we need by the end of 2014, but I think it's more like the end of 2015 before we get real clarity.... I don't think Almora gets a cup of coffee in 2014. Same for CJ Edwards. P Johnson, VogelBOMB (or whatever we get for him by then), etc. etc. etc...

    2014 will likely see Baez, Bryant, Soler, Alcantara, Szczur, Golden, etc all get a taste of MLB pitching... but they may need more time in the minors in 2015.

    The FA class looks ripe so if we have another protected pick in 2015, I'd expect them to make a big splash next off season.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think Soler and Golden are very long shots in 2014. Olt/Villanueva is likely.

  • In reply to John57:

    Agreed. And Golden is an extreme longshot to make the majors at all.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed.
    I'm hoping to get a glimpse of Almora, Pierce and CJ in 2015.
    Vogelbach, as well.
    I feel like the infield starts to take shape next season.
    The outfield and pitching staff in 2015.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    EXCEPT majority of those guys will fail
    Baez, Bryant, Soler, Alcantara, Szczur, Golden,
    if 2 of those guys are solid players its successs
    most likely outcome is 4 dont make it

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I'm not assuming that they will all succeed. I didn't mention the failures because I thought that it was obvious. My point was we won't which ones until the end of 2015 at the soonest.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Reggie Golden couldn't even hit A ball pitching last year. He is a 22 years old A ball RF with a hole in his swing bigger than the grand canyon. He is pretty much a non-prospect at this point.
    What are you talking about Hoosier?

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I don't want to see stinking and 60 wins a year for 3-4 years. I want to see .500 which is on verge of improving and adding parts to make it 95 win team. So tired of high draft pick claim. Lots if teams r good every year and have good farm systems

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    You're right about the ultimate goal. The problem with 100 loss seasons is that the attendance/revenue is going to continue to slide while they try to get something to stick to the wall with their current FA selections.
    If they were to put some (inexpensive) players out there that would at least make it interesting, it would keep some fannies in the seats.
    I'm not that sold on the differences between drafting 1 or 15 either. These guys have beefed up the FO with resources. If they are as good as purported, they ought to be able draft quality with lower picks as well.

  • Is there a Giants website out there that is comparable to Cubs Den? i know of McCovey Chronicles, and the Chronicle site really isn't that good in my opinion. I live in Ohio and stumbled on to Cubs Den a few months back, and was/am amazed at what a great source of info this site brings. The decorum shown in the message boards is marvelous, and i learn a ton from everyone. You guys should be really proud of Cubs Den, great site.

  • In reply to spider lockhart:

    Amen as to that. Been on many other team sites and it does not get better than John, et.al.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Thank you Jimmy.

  • In reply to spider lockhart:

    Thanks for the kind words Spider. I really appreciate that. I would have recommended the McCovey Chronicles but I don't know of one that is similar to this site. Maybe some other bay area readers may know?

  • I might point out that the cubs didn't win anything in 2008, their last championship was in 1908. see paragraph 4

  • In reply to menny:

    Yeah, that was a typo on my part; entered the wrong '08. Noticed it earlier after it went up and sent an e-mail to John; hopefully it can be fixed soon

  • In reply to gocubsgo25:

    Just fixed it. Thanks for the heads-up. I missed that too.

  • A couple of quick thoughts/questions:

    Can we assume that we have 4 of our eventual 5 OFers in the roster(Lake, Ruggiano, Nate, Sweeney)? Which guys are most likely to be strictly platooned?Are Vitters and Khalish only 2 competitors for 5th slot?

    Is boras keeping Choo on mkt to see if Cubs might get involved in the event that Tanaka isn't posted?

    John, have you heard of any interest in Gavin Floyd? I'm not enamored with him-per se- but he kinda fits the recent profile. I know his surgery wasn't a simple TJ-flexor also.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    If the Cubs were going to make a splash for a FA OF'r, it would've been Ellsbury. I'd say that given Choo's similar contract demands and Boras taking shots at Theo/Jed publicly that they are not likely to be involved at all... Somebody else will step in and sign him before he lowers his demands low enough to fit us

  • fb_avatar

    yeah thats absolute non sens cubs are cash flow positive
    and Rickets is a billionaire this crying poor non sense is getting old
    its the rich trying to get richer.
    they have gotten almost everything they wanted from the new hotel to more night games to expanding the bleaches again /taking the side walk on shefield and waveland - even with the horrible AAA team last year the (PAID) attendance was still solid comparable to other teams
    and a new TV deal is on the cusp.

  • I've heard a lot of blame put on the debt the Rickets incurred on the purchase. I really don't buy that. The Ricketts could pay that off tomorrow if they wanted to.

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I don't know for sure but I don't think they can. The debt was a requirement by the Tribune Company which is still a partner. It is for tax purposes.

  • Cubs sign Samardzija for 5/55 per the guy announcing the Notre Dame/ Indiana basketball game

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    In reply to Charlieboy:

    Not true.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Seen nothing else so I agree. But this ESPN guy just non chalantly said Samardzija resigned and gave those numbers.

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    if thats true given the maket
    thats not too crazy

  • I think Dan Dakich was telling Samardzija to go ahead and please sign the 5/55 deal not that he did sign the deal.

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    In reply to ucandoit:

    That's the way I read into that as well. Testament to this site, John and staff, and the commentators that I checked here first after hearing it on the radio.

  • That WouldBeA Deal

  • Does anyone have a link to the Marcel - Phil Rogers showdown?

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    Excellent article. Very well written. Stay the course Theo/Jedi.

  • Per Rotoworld:
    David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is hearing the Braves and Gavin Floyd are close to an agreement.
    The Braves haven't been rumored to be in on Floyd, with O'Brien identifying them as the "mystery team" reported previously. There's no word on the terms of a possible deal, but a one-year deal is likely with Floyd still recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Braves were said to be interested in Jeff Samardzija as well, so this deal may effectively take them out of the running for the Cubs' ace.

    - I don't get why this would take this out of the running. Floyd likely won't be truly ready until months into the season and is hardly a given, and is certainly not a 2 or 3. It's not like they're giving up all these prospects for Floyd either.

  • In reply to cubsdude74:

    Honestly I don't think the Braves were really all that close. If anything it was more of a kick the tires thing for them. Floyd makes sense for them.

  • In reply to cubsdude74:

    David O'Brien has been the ONLY journalist to say that the Braves were interested in trading for Samardzija. In the same article he also suggested that the Braves would not give up Sims, and since we know that the Cubs are requesting much more than that (Sanchez, Stroman, Plus) from potential trade partners... It stands to reason that O'Brien doesn't really know what the heck he's talking about.

  • The Cubs have signed catcher John Baker to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The light-hitting Baker played briefly with the Padres in 2013, and also appeared in Tucscon (Padres) and Albuquerque (Dodgers) in Triple-A.

  • Fun read for me. I'm in Santa Cruz and am always digesting Bay Area baseball news with a Cubs slant. I see many more similarities between Theo/Jed and Beane as opposed to Sabean, and that's a good thing. The A's have such an ability to find great platoons all over the field and players that add a unique and valuable skill set. There are no redundant players on their roster. The one thing Sabean's FO does, in my opinion, better than anyone is evaluate pitching. While I rarely like his position player signings (Huff, Pagan, Pence to name a few) he always has fantastic pitchers coming up, which is the reason they have had their success.
    I have always thought that if our FO is able to stay more like Oakland, we'll have the most powerful recipe for success: shrewd business tactics, great minor league system, and deep pockets. I too cringe when I hear Scott Boras rail the Ricketts' plan, but I also think this is a temporary quiet time for the rebuild. The Cubs are just not ready to spend the necessary money for a couple of key pieces. I'm encouraged by the FO's aggressive international approach and by the reports that we narrowly missed guys like Ryu and Darvish. To me it says, "we'll spend when the time frame of the free agent fits our window for success".
    Like I said, though, fun to read this. With all the Bay Area Den readers here perhaps we should start a little California Cubs Den Coalition!

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    Thank you to everyone for all the kind words and well-thought-out criticisms. I know it has been said many times before, but Cubs Den is really unique in that regard.

    I hadn't realized until now how many Den-izens there were in NorCal...might be fun to hold a "Cubs Den Winter Meetings Part 2" at a Zachary's sometime in the future! (Perhaps to celebrate pitchers and catchers reporting?)

  • In reply to gocubsgo25:

    Sounds great!

  • I really don't know why some are so negative about next year already. There are lots of things, "ifs" though they be, that could indeed make this team much more competitive next season. Most of us look forward to Castro and Rizzo making headway, for one. Another is that we're likely looking to a much improved bullpen. Are we negative about our rotation? An Arrieta and/or Jackson might well add to Shark and Wood, rather than subtract. That's a 3rd possibility that would make us better. And a 4th is our new manager. If he can breed confidence that turns our players into believers, who knows what they might do? The pitching might just keep us in games and if we have a bunch of confident, never-say-die position players, we could see some exciting games. Woulda-shoulda-coulda, I know, but let's not write this team off just yet.

  • A very "empirical" article!

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