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Thoughts on Passan's article, the Cubs payroll, Tanaka, and Theo's spending patterns

Thoughts on Passan's article, the Cubs payroll, Tanaka, and Theo's spending patterns

Updated 1:00 p.m.

Jeff Passan jumped into the "Cubs ownership is cheap" nonsense. I have respect for Passan as a writer and enjoy his work, but this is not a particularly perceptive piece. When you read an article like this, the first question you should ask yourself is, "Who benefits from this information being put out there?" I think the answer is obvious. It's the agents. We saw Boras take this tactic with some local writers here, so it's possible he's involved again. There is increasing frustration from Boras and other agents because a big market team like the Cubs aren't spending.

Of course they'd love to see the Cubs flex their financial muscle. It benefits them to have another wealthy team raise the price of price of their client. It helps to give them another opportunity for a lucrative contract. It's their business. We should expect nothing less from them. They're trying to serve their clients' best interest. I do agree with those agents on one thing, however.  I do believe the Cubs have more money to spend than they're letting on.

But that is not the question. The Cubs have their own long term interests to serve.

The real question is "Should the Cubs spend this money?" or more specifically, "Should the Cubs build through free agency?"

I think you know my thoughts on this as I have made my opinion known on multiple occasions.

There is no reason for the Cubs to spend money on players 30 and over when history suggests that their greatest contributions will come in the next two seasons, seasons in which the Cubs aren't expected to contend.  Then when the Cubs are ready to win, they'll have saddled themselves with contracts of players who will likely be trending downward as far as performance.  That money would better spent on extending contracts or trading for in-prime veterans who could be getting expensive for other teams.  In a year or two, the Cubs will be in better position to buy high on free agents who will increase their chances to win over a 2-3 year window.  But buying them now means spending a lot of money for what will very likely be a meaningless extra couple of wins.  Those wins will mean a lot more when the Cubs are in that 82-92 win range.  That is about the time when those wins could mean the difference between winning the NL Central and staying home.  All those wins might buy you now is maybe 75 wins or even 77 wins instead of 73; maybe it lands you in 4th place instead of 5th.

Big deal.

Once the Cubs start to look like a team above .500, then it becomes time to purchase short term wins.

Passan implies that the Cubs front office is upset at the lack of spending.  But is that really true?

In 2001, two years before Theo, the Red Sox were a team that was 2nd in all of baseball in payroll.  He didn't create that kind of payroll.  It was already there.  They were in a virtual tie with the Yankees as far as having the most expensive roster in baseball, but the Red Sox were just 82-79, after winning 85 the year before.

The next year the Red Sox stayed in 2nd, but their payroll went down slightly and the gap between them and the Yankees grew from a mere $233K to over $17.5M.  But the Red Sox wins total increased to 93.

In his first year, Theo decreased the payroll to under $100M, nearly an 8% decrease while the rest of the league was spending more.  The Red Sox fell to 6th overall in baseball when it came to payroll, but the Red Sox improved their win total to 95 games.  So, Theo didn't come in with his checkbook firing, instead he restructured the team's roster to include players that fit his type of philosophy.

But at 95 wins in the tough AL East, the Red Sox were in a different situation than the Cubs.  They had a window to win now, so in his second year, Theo increased the payroll to $125M -- but proportionally it's not as significant as it looks at first glance.  The spending gap actually increased.  It was now nearly $60M behind the Yankees.  Not that it mattered, the Red Sox would end their own drought and win the World Series that year.

The next year, 2005, Theo decreased the payroll again after that season and the gap grew to over $80M.  In 2006, the payroll went down yet again.

In fact, by the time 2009 rolled around, Theo's payroll was still less than it had been in 2004 and he'd had another WS ring (2007) to show for it.  It was at $122M, still about $80M behind the Yankees and just the 4th highest payroll in baseball.  One of the teams with a higher payroll was the 83 win, non-playoff Cubs.  Granted the payroll went up to around $143M in  2007, but their only major FA signing prior to that season was Daisuke Matsuzaka.

So, for those who believe Theo spent his way to the top, think again.  Yes, it was consistently among the top 5 in baseball, but it was like that before he got there.  The payroll increased by only $17M from the time Theo took over after the 2002 season to 2009.  That's $17M over 7 years, an average increase of less than $2.5M per year -- and two WS rings to show for it.

The real big increases came after that 2009 season but the Red Sox would not win in those years.  It was never the extra spending that got them to that sustainable championship level.  If anything, that late era spending eventually threatened to undermine that long term success.  The Red Sox had to shed salary again to get back on top last year.

The Cubs obviously had much more to build than the Red Sox when Theo came.   Time was needed to clear the decks and undo the damage that had been done in the late Hendry years.  Time was needed to restock the organization with young, controllable talent.

That is where the Cubs are now.

It has taken just over 2 years to accomplish that.  It makes little sense to undo all of that work by spending now on short term players.  Unlike the Red Sox, the Cubs aren't ready to win and spend for those extra parts.

Ricketts has said the money will be there when the Cubs need it.  We saw that last year when the front office really wanted Anibal Sanchez.  Not only did Ricketts give him the go-ahead, he traveled to meet Sanchez and his agent personally to make sure the Cubs put in the highest bid to obtain him -- and that is exactly what they did.  But ultimately Sanchez chose to stay in Detroit with a winning team rather than pack and leave to a rebuilding team for a few extra million.  It's hard to blame Sanchez -- but you cannot blame Ricketts for not doing everything within reason (and some people I spoke with even thought the Cubs bid was way too high).  When that deal fell through, the Cubs spent to obtain their next best options: Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villaneuva. Ricketts lived up to his promise that when the front office needed the money.

I expect that to continue, starting with Masahiro Tanaka. Patrick Mooney follows up David Kaplan's report that "the Cubs won't be outbid" by reporting that the Cubs are prepared to give Tanaka a 9 figure contract.

Why now and why this pitcher?

Because Tanaka is 25 and two years before his prime seasons.  It makes sense for the Cubs to spend on that sort of player given where they are now.  When the Cubs are ready to contend, Tanaka will still be in his most productive seasons.

Mooney also states that the Cubs will not spend on Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana because they don't want to buy high on pitchers.  This is what we have been saying all along here.  Nothing has changed -- except for increased frustration among agents and some fans.  The Cubs are sticking to the plan.

I have no doubts that the Cubs will eventually spend, but when they do, it will be on their terms.  It will happen when it benefits their organization.  We shouldn't ever expect them to spend because player agents think they should.

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  • fb_avatar

    Let me see if I have this right..... a team that...

    - locked up it's two best players to long-lucrative contracts two years in a row,

    - Gave a #3-4 starter 52mil(Jackson) and was prepared to give a #2-3 starter(Sanchez) 85mil, THAT SAME OFFSEASON

    - Blew the international FA budget out of the water and took on all the penalties,

    - Has been a top 3 bidder on every single impact international FA(Darvish, Ryu, Cespedes, Soler, etc the last 3 years.

    - Is about to sink 300mil OF THEIR OWN MONEY into the stadium when even wealthy teams have the community pick up the tab

    But.......But........this team is cheap! Everybody says so!

    OK Passan.......Just because were not chain-and-balling ourselves with these terrible, franchise-crippling contracts does not make the Cubs cheap. If that's the case, are the Cardinals cheap too for letting Pujols walk and getting a stud like Wacha for him?

    Give me a break.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    This has been the agents rallying cry from the start. They want the Cubs to spend, but I expect the Cubs will continue to drown out the noise. Let the agents have their agenda, the Cubs need to stick to what's in the best long term interests from the organization.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Given that the rich agents are greedy and the rich owners are greedy, there is an element of this that is pretty humorous to watch. It's like presidential elections: which millionaire who has raised a billion dollars mostly from other millionaires do you trust to best help the average American?

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Ha! It is absurd when you look at it that way.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    That assessment pretty much sums up the change over the last decade of the definition of the word "greedy". Before it meant wanting something that belonged to someone else, as in envy. Megalomania and greed for power would be interchangeable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nice sensible evaluation of the sensible!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Thanks!

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    We also have a team that has set a franchise futility mark the last two years, has seen attendance plumment, is now facing questions over the values of its media rights, and is letting the stadium continue to crumble because badly needed renovations are being unnecessarily tied to a controversial advertising expansion plan.

    Yeah, it ain't quite as rosy as getting giddy over spending $6 million on Gerardo Concepcion, but this team does have major financial issues that are hurting the franchise.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    Great points.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    "badly needed renovations are being unnecessarily tied to a controversial advertising expansion plan."

    This is incorrect. Leaving Wrigley is, at the very least, a bargaining chip in really contentious negotiations with city. They would be insane to spend hundreds of millions repairing the park when they may leave anyway. And in the likely scenario where they have no intention of leaving, it removes it even as a bargaining chip. To spend with the big market franchises like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox, they have to monetize the part as the big boys have. That that isn't happening is entirely on the city.

    I also don't buy the value of the media rights argument. Those are going to be negotiated over long term ratings. Recent fluctuations will have a relatively minor impact. The WGN Radio story from earlier seemed much more like negotiating through the Tribune than a serious story. There is no way WGN lets the Cubs walk.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No one takes them leaving Wrigley even a little bit seriously. There is no leverage to be had there.

    There's no good location for a new park, and the franchise certainly doesn't have the money to pay for one.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    No, you don't take it seriously. Rosemont has offered them land. The money they're going to spend rebuilding Wrigley could just as easily build a new park, especially if they entered into partnerships with corporations for naming rights. It's very do-able.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Rosemont is not a serious alternative.

    And the fact that the Cubs have had so many problems with the city, having to beg and bribe to get a major construction project done, shows that the city doesn't take it seriously either.

    The money they are spending to renovate and expand at Wrigley couldn't cover half the cost of a new park.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    "Rosemont is not a serious alternative." You're saying this doesn't make it so.

    Also, the mayor went to bat for the Cubs and essentially told a powerful alderman to sit down and shut up. That would suggest that he did take the move seriously.

    So the Cubs cover half of it and McDonalds the other half in order to name it McDonalds Field. This happens all the time.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Staying put at Addison and Clark is way better than moving to Rosemont or anyplace else. I just wish they'd build sooner than later and guarantee the rooftop owners won't sue by moving the games away from Wrigley while they do all the renovaions at once. Take away the roofie's only thing they can sell and come back when they're all bankrupt and gone and then block every sightline with impunity. Eighteen months or so and the problem's solved.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wrigley Field is an albatross around the neck of the Cubs, and has been for years. The fact that it draws fans regardless of the quality of the team has provided the team with a security blanket that most franchises lack. The best thing the Cubs could do is get out of there. It does little good to play in a major-market city if you do it in a minor-market ball park. No money for parking. Little money for advertising. Inability to turn naming rights into income streams. 20th century luxury boxes with 20th century income from them.

    They would be much better off if they moved, and hopefully, they will get frustrated enough to make it happen.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    I am aware of inflation and a different economic climate, but here are the building costs of some of the newer ballparks:

    PNC Park - $216mm
    Miller Park - $392mm
    Pac Bell - $357mm
    Turner Field - $678mm

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not only that, but Dupage County is willing to give land, huge tax breaks for 25 years, and would probably be willing to pitch in a bunch of cash and investors in a new ballpark.

    Consider that Chicago is only 2.75 Million of the 9.5+ Million population of the Chicagoland Metro area which is the Cubs main market, and that a very large percentage of the people that actually go to games are tourists, suburbanites, and wealthy people who would much rather drive their family to Yuppy Dupage for a day at the ballpark then deal with the city, and it starts making much more sense.

    Also if you subtract the $500 Million the Cubs spend, by the time it's all over, improving Wrigley and the surrounding neighborhood from the cost of a new ballpark, add in the tax breaks, suburban cash, and much cheaper cost of property (and doing buiness in general) in Dupage and it starts to make real sense. Combine that whith the fact that Dupage will bend over backwards letting the Cubs do whatever they want, and the in the long run it could make very real sense.

    I still don't think it will happen, but it IS a serious bargaining chip, and if the crooked city aldermen and rooftop leeches don't come to their senses, and continue to prevent the Cubs from running the team the way they need to, they are going to lose their cash cow.

    What people don't realize is that the landscape has changed. The main revenue streams for MLB teams don't come from the Ballpark itself anymore. The ginormous local TV deals are the number one source of team revenue and profit. Combine that with National MLB Digital & TV revenue, Merchandise, Secondary businesses like bars, hotels, etc. and you get a huge chunk of team revenue.

    Wrigley Field is important for the Cubs, but so would a state of the art new stadium called Cubs Park (sponsored by whoever) with bars, restaurants,hotels, parking, many of which would be owned by the Cubs and practically tax free for 25 years.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Every single county with a hunk of space would be offering Wrigley land. Those stories of places wanting to take the Cubs are overblown. Of course they want a major league team, who wouldn't it's no secret? I can't believe that even made it into print, let alone people mention it. Every single major/district/county wants the Cubs. Ask the major of DeKalb if he wants the Cubs... "Stop the press...the mayor of Dekalb wants the Cubs!!!"

    Let Ricketts even suggest it in the open, the backlash will be heavy, he'd be killed in the media and by fans. It's not a bargaining chip, the Cubs are staying.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    You clearly know your stuff here, thank you.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    The Cubs are not leaving Wrigley Field and are not considering it. They aren't even using it as leverage.

    Schaumburg, Rosemont, Naperville, DuPage County blah, blah, blah are not the tourist attractions that Chicago is. That's why it doesn't make any sense to spend those kinds of dollars anywhere but Wrigley Field. Wrigley Field is the city's #1 tourist attraction. All that other stuff is meaningless rhetoric.

    And, considering that you are talking about local TV deals (which are actually shrinking by the way), Wrigley field is a much greater asset than some corporate named stadium in the western suburbs.

    The sad fact is that the Cubs have a legal, binding contract with those Rooftop owners with a number of years left until it expires. I hate them all, but they are in the right. The Cubs need to find a way to work with them or wait until that contract expires to make the changes that they want to.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Rosemont would be a horrible location and the money they are spending on renovations wouldn't begin to build a new park.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ddevonb:

    They're spending $500 million. As Mike Partipillo pointed out above, that is competitive with the new ballparks that have been built recently. The Wrigley rebuild is largely building a new park on the location of the old.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Touché'

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Well said.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Semi-OT. They were willing spend big money on Sanchez and jackson, but they seem to have no interest in Garza.

    I will be sorely disappointed if Garza's contract is close to their range and the Cubs didn't check in with his agent.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Do we know that the Cubs have NOT checked in with his agent?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I just read a report the other day that many teams are scared off by Garza's medicals, so that could explain the apparent lack of interest by our front office. I put more stock in this report than the usual offseason rumors because it really doesn't make sense that there's not a bigger market for Garza right now. He's the only quality starter out there without draft pick compensation attached to him, and based on the numbers alone, he is probably a better bet than Santana or Jimenez anyway.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Cubs are not in on Garza at all from what I understand. Anything can happen if the price comes down -- but why would Garza sign with the Cubs for cheap? I would think he'll either sign with a contender or for a team that gives him the most money -- if he can't get both, that is.

    There are also rumors of concerns with med reports.

  • fb_avatar

    Very insightful, John. Nice work going back to the historical Red Sox spending.

    I'm as confident as I've ever been that better days are ahead. If it's true that Tanaka has ruled the Cubs out (a) he's going to regret that decision and (b) time to go back to the drawing board and find more ways to add starting pitchers. Really, all we've lost here is one guy out of 25. It sucks, but it isn't at all deadly.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    The reports are saying he prefers LA, BOS, and NY. What that tells me is all he sees are $$$$. So whoever bids the most will likely be winner in this case. The odds are low, but I hope we get him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It also says that those teams are better prepared to win now and going forward. Dollars being equal, why would Tanaka come to the Cubs? They will have to present Tanaka with multiple reasons to choose a rebuilding team over a contending team (read: perennially contending team). And let's face it, this is one team that is still in the beginning stages of a rebuild (accumulating long term assets) and with a current roster that is hideous at best. It's easy to say "those teams have more money" but who wouldn't choose Boston or LA over the Cubs right now? Even the Yankees, though devoid of any semblance of a farm system, will still be prepared to win going forward because they will buy the players necessary to win. The Yankees are ALWAYS in win now mode, so signing free agents is old hat to them and never not part of their model.

    Maybe Chicago is the right choice for Tanaka someday, but it probably isn't now and it certainly isn't because the Cubs don't have the money to outbid every other team. They just have a long way to go, and if Tanaka is a 5 WAR pitcher, that still leaves considerable ground to cover just to get to respectabiity.

    Spin this offseason any way you want or blame the bulk of last season's mess on mad relief pitching. Good teams overcome those types of hiccups. The Cubs did not. The Cubs probably aren't scaring very many teams right now, and will probably finish dead last in their own division. If I was Tanaka, Chicago would be pretty far down the list of ideal opportunities. It will take an outrageous offer to land him, and I don't see the Cubs doing that. They may offer the most money, though I doubt that, but they just don't offer the best or most logical landing spot for Masahiro Tanaka.

    I agree with what the Cubs FO is doing. I just think that with the changes to the posting system, this hurts the Cubs more than any other team, and timing has become the Cubs biggest enemy, not dollars and cents.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Boston is in very good shape going forward. I could see signing there. But the Yankees are in deep trouble going forward -- a miserable minor league system and an aging roster -- and even the mighty Dodgers have limits to how much they can buy as guys like Kemp, Greinke, and AGon age. Further, their minor league system is nothing to write home about and a lot of their success last year depended on a clearly undependable Yasiel Puig.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If Tanaka does sign with Boston, I think there could be a couple of available starters off of that roster. It wouldn't be bad to see Dempster back in a Cubs uniform. I wouldn't give them much of anything for prospects, but we could offer some salary relief.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    The way that ended, I have a hard time seeing Dempster ever returning to Chicago.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Maybe I missed something, but I thought Dempster was interested in coming back to Chicago before signing with Boston. We simply weren't going to pay the money for him to do so.

    I don't know of any Cubs fan who wouldn't like to see his Harry Carey impression again.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I don't know any human, Cubs fan or otherwise, who wants to hear his awful Harry Caray impression ever again.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    As he was walking out the door reporters asked Dempster if he'd consider coming back. With the camera's rolling right in his face, what would you expect him to say? He was never coming back. He was a Hendry guy. He didn't love Jed and Theo, and he certainly didn't like Sveum. Once his divorce went through, there was no reason for him to want to stay here.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    KC, Dempster has posted a cumulative 4.72 ERA since leaving the Cubs with more hits than innings pitched. He'll be 37 in May and makes $12 mil/yr for each of the next two years. We already have younger, less expensive guys who can match his production. I just don't see the fit.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    People keep dogging the Yankees minor league system.

    It's not miserable, it's about middle of the pack. It's not great, or good by any means but it's not miserable.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    It's bottom third.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Where did you get your rankings from?

    Baseball America ranks them at 16 at the end of the 2013 season.

    I'm sure there's other good publications with rankings, but I'd call 25-30 "miserable". I haven't seen them in that range anywhere.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    No, they didn't, Baseball America hasn't released their org rankings this offseason yet. The article you referenced talked about the prospects that are closest to the big leagues. The Yankees have several of these types of prospects, but their most likely roles are backup catcher, 4th OFer, reliever, etc.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Sanchez is not considered to be a back-up catcher.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Correct on Sanchez, he doesn't project as a backup catcher. When the offseason rankings come out, I think he'll be their only top 100 player.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'd go even further than that. I think it'll end up in the bottom 5 teams in MLB.

    Nearly every prospect the Yankees had disappointed or had an injury issue this year.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    How many top 100 prospects do the other four teams in your bottom 5 have?

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Can't respond to your message below, but the Yankees will probably have just 1 in Sanchez.

    The Brewers and Angels will likely both have 0 and will be the bottom 2 systems. The White Sox may still be in the bottom 5. I'm assuming they'll rank Jose Abreu and Erik Johnson, so that'll be 2 for them.

    Then maybe the A's are in the bottom 5, but Addison Russell alone might be enough to move them ahead of the Yankees.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    It has nothing but high risk players with less impact potential than what good systems have. And it's overrated because it's NY. Nobody envies that system. One scout I spoke thinks it's terrible, especially the pitching.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Where would you rank them?

    I see them having according the MLB.com's rankings... the #27/#37/#68//#99 prospects. Four guys in the Top 100 seems ok to me. Doesn't seem miserable to me. Their #5-whatever prospects REALLY have to be bad for that statement to be true.

    It doesn't have to be enviable to not be miserable.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    That hasn't been updated this offseason.

    You know how Brett Jackson was a top 50 prospect and then the following year was basically an after thought?

    That's essentially what's going to happen with most of the guys you mentioned. Mason Williams (#37) had a bad year, same with Tyler Austin (#68). #99, Rafael De Paula, had a good first half and then got absolutely SHELLED at high-A as a 22 year old.

    Sanchez will probably stay in the top 100 in the 50-75 range, but my guess is the rest of those guys drop off of most top 100s.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    That was updated midseason, they're going to at least have three in the top 100. Dropping from #37 to out from midseason to now just isn't realistic.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Sure it can, it happened to Brett Jackson. He went from the #33 ranked prospect by MLB.com to outside the top 100 and from the #32 ranked prospect by Baseball America to outside the top 100.

    I understand what you're saying, that not that much changes from midseason to the offseason, but the offseason gives them a chance to reach out to many more contacts before putting together a list like this. My guess is those reports on Williams are not going to be favorable, he put up a .641 OPS last year and was ripped for his makeup.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    The drop you're refering to with Jackson was from one year (2012) to the next (2013), not a midseason (mid season 2013) to the end of the season. (end of 2013).

    I think that's completely different.

    But time will tell. I'm looking forward to revisiting this. All I'm saying is whenever the Yankees farm system is mentioned, and it's mentioned a lot, because it's looked as some sort of red flag to why Tanaka won't sign there, it's called things like trash/miserable. From everything I can gather, it doesn't look too bad.

    Good call on the BA piece. I'll be looking forward to when the rankings come out.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Also, one of the Baseball America editors was asked in the Yankees' prospect chat which Yankees prospects would be in their top 100. Norris (the editor) responded: "More than likely only Sanchez."

    Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus was extremely critical of the system. He called it,"[Gary] Sanchez and a list of interchangeable prospects w/ reliever profiles or bench futures."

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Thanks for the insight.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I don't rank systems nationally. What I will say is that if the Cubs were going to trade a valuable piece such as Samardzija, there are many other teams I hope they look to deal with before they even consider the Yankees.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Great post.

    That's why the pathetic offseason ( from outsiders and player perspective ) is what's really going to cost this team the chance to get him.

    We know who we have in the minors plus most here are half glass full types know the potential for this team in just a year or two, but to most, the future doesn't look very good. It's kind of sad because you would think jedsteins reputation would really mean something ESP among smart agents.

    Lets just hope the dodgers get him, so Kershaw can come to Chicago. I think he will come here if he can become the highest paid pitcher in baseball history.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    "Dollars being equal, why would Tanaka come to the Cubs? "

    False premise. The dollars won't be equal.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. I decided to see for myself if Theo bought his way to a title. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was surprised to see how stable their payroll was for Theo's first 7 years while others around them went up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd think the argument could be made that the team was relatively competitive BECAUSE they had a larger payroll. So those expensive vets, coupled with some nice young talent and smart FA signings helped put the team over the top. Arguing that the Red Sox payroll stayed relatively stable - which was, at the time a top 3 payroll - isn't really an argument when comparing to a Cubs payroll that will likely be a bottom 5-8 payroll.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    In part yes, but it wasn't really an efficient payroll. In two of the three years prior to Theo's installation as GM, the team had won 82 and 85 games. I think what Theo really did was make use of the same amount of money in a better way. He got more bang for his buck, so to speak. And Boston built a consistently good team after the farm system began churning out cheap impact players to help offset the cost of the expensive ones.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree w you but winning 85 and 82 games in the al east at that time ( yes rays were bad ) was like winning 90 and 87 games in the NL central .

    Theo did some great work there but the team was in pretty solid shape. He hit huge w David Ortiz. One thing that you cannot say negative about his time there is he even left the team designed and ready to win for the next manager/GM plus w a stacked farm system. ( even w a couple absurd contracts)

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    You can say that 82 and 85 games puts them even further away in a tough division like the AL East than it would in other divisions back then. The WS teams had a different roster construction. It's evident from his time that it is as important as to how and when you spend as it is how much. The when part doesn't fit for the Cubs to be in that $120M range right now. I think we'll start to see it start to build starting this next offseason, perhaps earlier if the Cubs outperform expectations by the deadline.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yea, absolutely, depends how you look at it.

    I am pretty confident that the Red Sox World Series team had more pre-Epstein players then god willing ( knock on wood) the cubs next playoff team will have Zell / tribune players

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, but, the foundation was there. That is the key point to me. The Cubs have gone from a $110M payroll to, what will likely be a $75M payroll under Theo / Ricketts. I'm fine with shedding bad contracts. But shedding $35M in payroll coupled with what will conservatively be an extra $50M in revenue (Fox TV deal and Cubs' WGN 70 game package) doesn't make sense to me.

    To me, its a show me story. Ricketts is essentially saying, 'Trust me, we will spend...at some point.'

    My fear is that, 12 months from now, we will be having this same discussion. And 24 months from now, we will be having this same discussion. People just assume that Bryant / Baez will come up and immediately make us a .500 team so we can 'go spend on FA'.

    Let me ask this question. If, in February of 2015 we have just completed another 90+ loss season, signed no impact FA and the payroll has fallen to $60M (which it will when Sori's contract rolls off and if we've traded Shark) - what will you say? Will you still say, 'why spend when the next 2 years we wont be any good?'

    What if I asked the same question in February of 2016? Will people still have the same arguments? Because its been the same arguments since 2012.....

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Why would you bring in Theo to do that would be by question? For that matter, why spend on the new park? The international fa's? Why offer Anibal Sanchez anything? I cannot reconcile these actions with your prediction that they may never make a move. They already have.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    Yeah, that is the question. Unless Ricketts just wanted to bring in a name brand to give him another 4-5 years of breathing room (which it has).

    Maybe Theo is really pissed because Rickets mislead him regarding the budgetary constraints.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I am guessing we will be saying the same thing again next year, but I am hoping that people would be a little more interested in the potential call ups of some major prospects during the 2015 season.

    30 year old free agents are not a starting base. We are building the base now through the farm system and will smartly add FAs over the next few years.

    I am amazed that after 100+ years without a WS hasn't made Cubs fans a little more patient. No one likes losing, but I don't want couple of 85 win seasons. I want a World Series so I can wildly overspend on tickets and go to the party of the century after we win.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    The payroll had to come down to comply with the CBA debt service rules. The tax-avoiding leveraged partnership Zell insisted on left the team with over $700 million in debt according to The Tribune Company's audited financial statements. The team's debt can not exceed 8 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation & amortization). Since the Ricketts family took over, the Cubs have had turn a profit of at least $87.5 million each and every year to comply with the CBA. The Cubs payroll was not constrained by debt concerns prior to the "sale" to the Ricketts family. It should be a surprise to no one that payroll would have to significantly decline to meet the CBA requirement, especially with new revenue streams still on hold. The leveraged partnership has to run at least 7 years for Zell's tax-avoidance scheme to have any chance of succeeding in tax court, as the IRS has already began auditing Zell's Cubs & Newsday transactions. That would take us until Oct. 27, 2016 when the debt could be paid down/off without generating a taxable event for The Tribune Company. I believe we need to wait until the Ricketts family has complete autonomy while running the team before we can fairly judge them with regards to being cheap.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    The specific leverage ratio you mention is news to me and I would assume everyone else. Do you have a link?

    If its true, answer me this, where is the extra $50M I referenced going? Its no secret that the Cubs will be receiving this windfall by 2015.

    Comment #2 - From the very beginning, just about everybody that was familiar with the way MLB does business said that there was NO WAY Bud would let such a leveraged deal that restricts spending go through. NO. WAY. I can't see Bud sitting in the penthouse sweet, listening to his finance people say. 'Bud, this Cubs deal is going to hamstring the payroll so much that it will need to shed $50M in order to get below the Debt/EBITDA ratio.'

    Despite the 100 years of futility, the Cubs are a flagship brand, sit in a top-3 market and have a nationwide fan base. Can you see Bug agreeing to these terms? I can't.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Here is a Chicago Tribune article from 2009.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-01-25/business/0901230631_1_ricketts-family-chicago-billionaire-sam-zell-wrigley-field

    When Zell took over The Tribune Company and tried to make it a not-for-profit entity in form, if not by name, by turning it into a S-Corporation owned entirely by its ESOP, MLB had little say in how Zell constructed the deal structure of The Tribune Company's divestiture of the Cubs. MLB would have a say in the potential new owners, but if Zell was determined to construct the "sale" in a manner which would avoid the Built-In-Gains Tax resulting from the conversion to a S-Corporation, how could MLB make him structure the deal in any other way. I really think Sam Zell did more to hurt the Cubs in less two years than anyone realizes. The financial statements for The Tribune Company can be found at:

    http://www.tribune.com/media/pdf/2012%20Consolidated%20Financial%20Statements.pdf

    Look closely at Note 5 and Note 9 to truly get verification of my assertions.

    I have no inside information as to figures for the current operation of the Cubs, but I think it can be reasonably concluded that the current financial restraint can be attributed to the leveraged partnership deal structure.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Here are a few other links:

    http://www.cpa2biz.com/Content/media/PRODUCER_CONTENT/Newsletters/Articles_2009/Tax/ChicagoCubs.jsp

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonynitti/2013/06/20/irs-continues-its-scrutiny-of-leveraged-partnerships/

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    What really got me with that article were the comments from fans. Pratically all of them jumped on the bandwagon that Cubs should be spending more cash on these FA's out there.

    Didn't we just try that? Aren't the Yankees and Angels scrambling to build a team by overspending because their farm systems are lacking? I just shake my head at the whole thing....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    It's hilarious. Its as if to those people, healthy, winning organizations that don't overspend like the Cardinals, Nationals, and Rays don't exist and we should be like the Angels, Phillies, and Yankees when their futures are in shambles. The Red Sox even flat out admitted building through FA was stupid and got rid of all those albatross contracts for prospects and flexibility. What follows? WS ring.

    What's worse is we've already gone that route which is exactly why we are where we are in the first place. I'm glad people like that are not running the Cubs.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    The Nationals and Jayson Werth would like a word with you on their appearance on your list, but otherwise fine.

    But the simple fact is: We didn't have the young, controllable MLB talent that other teams do. When faced with that challenge, we could either try to build on parallel fronts and build both ends of the franchise simultaneously, or they could shrink away from that challenge and take the far less challenging, less rewarding route that guarantees years of losing in the short and medium term.

    They took the easy way out.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I disagree. The ability to build on both ends is pretty much a myth. You cannot build for the short term without harming the long term. Except for rare instances (i.e. Tanaka), the two goals are at odds with each other. I hear people float this "build at both ends" theory but I have yet to hear a clear example where a bad team has successfully spent big on the market and rebuilt at the same time, particularly in this era where the new CBA makes it impractical. It's one of this things that's easy to say, but in reality it just isn't feasible.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If that were true, then the Cardinals couldn't possibly have accumulated their amazing young talent while simultaneously winning a lot of baseball games. But they did.

    Is there a tiny bit of harm to be done in the farm system when trying to win? Yes, but it's negligible. Epstein specifically said so himself when outlining the idea of "parallel fronts."

    Off the top of my head, I'll throw out the Texas Rangers as a team that built both well simultaneously.

    I won't deny that it's difficult. But if this front office is as amazing as they are supposed to be, I want them to at least try to do difficult things.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Cardinals were already good. They didn't have to rebuild the organization. You have to go a long way back to find consistently bad Cards teams and one thing you'll find in common with those bad teams is that they were aging veteran teams that averaged over 30 years of age. They became a very good team in 2000 but if you check their offseason, the biggest move they made was to add Jim Edmonds, a buy low 29 year old player who was coming off a .250 with 5 HRs season. The biggest FA they signed the prior offseason may have been Shawon Dunston.

    Check the Rangers record for the 9 years leading up to the time they started winning. They were rebuilding, averaged 75-76 wins or so for a very long time. Jon Daniels then inherited an organization. that was well beyond what the Cubs were when Theo took over and he didn't surpass .500 until his 4th year and didn't make the playoffs until the 5 year. And he had the advantage of limitless spending on IFA's and the draft -- something they absolutely took advantage of.

    The Cubs are doing it the more difficult and rewarding way for the long term. The easiest thing to do is appease fans and string them along with band-aid .500 level teams that won't be built to sustain any kind of long term success. That they could build a 90 win team and a top farm system at the same just isn't rooted in reality. It just isn't done. Difficult isn't the word. Impractical is a better one.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    I added the Nationals because they are exactly where we want to be when we finally do take that Jayson Werth-esqe plunge, they had Strasburg, Zimmerman, Harper, etc all right there or close to it. That's fine.

    The problem John keeps referring is these fans and agents want us to do that right now when it literally makes no sense to. It made sense for the Nats because of where they were in the building. We are not at that stage yet. That's the argument, not whether we shouldn't do it all.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    You have an 'interesting' way of defining 'the easy way out' Kyle.

    They took a longer, somewhat lower risk (IMO), less immediately expensive way forward. But easy?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Agreed. Nothing is easier than breaking out the checkbook and outbidding everyone without regard to short or long term value.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Evidence from the many situations wehre spending hasn't worked are routinely ignored.

    It's a persistent myth that teams that spend the most in the offseason show the best increase in wins. Winning the offseason spending spree doesn't correlate well with an equally significant change in winning the next season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm OK with that.

    But that doesn't relieve them of responsibility to actually show those meaningful increases in wins. If you can make your team better by being smarter without being the biggest spender, do it. But they haven't done that. They've simply allowed the team to continue to be awful.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    So you're upset that didn't spend even though no top FA's would have contributed much in the way of more wins? They opted to focus on foundation building... what else would you have them do? how did all those Big FA deals work out for the Marlins, Angels, etc, etc... the last 2 years?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'm upset that they allowed the team to become completely, irredeemably awful for multiple seasons.

    If spending more money wouldn't have contributed "much in the way of more wins," then they must be awful at their jobs.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Awful at their jobs? You're forgetting all the Feldmans and Maholms they signed off the pile, made better, then flipped. If the Cubs didn't need to re-stock the farm they'd have overachieved the past two years. Remember in July when they were nearly .500?

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    For some people, not necessarily saying Kyle is one of them, but there is a way of looking at whether a GM is a success or not by boiling everything down to the team's won-loss record at the end of the season. If your team is in position to contend that makes a whole lot of sense. But to judge a GM based on wins and losses during a rebuild is a bit ridiculous.

    The same can be said about spending. To judge a rebuild based on how much or how little is being spent is just weird. As John said, we must judge it based on SHOULD the money have been spent on that particular player's ability to contribute to the club winning one or more world series championships. Spending money now would likely make the team a little better in the short run but lessen the amount of money the team has later on when it's ready to make it's move. At that point on the timeline, we'd all be looking back and criticizing Theo for saddling the Cubs with this declining 35 year old and forget all about how having him when he was 31 helped the Cubs be more watchable in the first few years of the rebuild.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    "all the Feldmans and Maholms" is an interesting way of putting it. Because that was pretty much it, wasn't it? And Hairston.

    Most of the prospect trades they've made have been from trading things they inherited, not from flippable free agents.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    From flippable signings:
    Jake Arrieta
    Pedro Strop
    Arodys Vizcaino
    Ivan Pineyro

    Not bad at all.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I look at these two years as a necessary step back and this year as the midpoint for a turnaround. I think they believe their team is better than last year's record, particularly with better years from Rizzo and Castro, and a more consistent one from Samardzija.

    My guess is this team would have done better next year without any moves at all, but the fact that they're trying to steal a few more at the margins on top of that with a better bullpen and taking advantage of some platoon splits tells me they haven't decided to tank this season.

    What I would like to see is the Cubs flip over their record in July of 2013 when it was 48-55 on the 28th of that month. I don't think it's too much to ask for them to be 55-48 instead -- or even 52-51 with better performance from the core and the bullpen. That's admittedly optimistic but I don't think it's unrealistic. If that is the case, then I'd love to see them buy at the deadline rather than sell this time around.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If there record is anywhere near like your forecasting by July 28th, then we either have been super lucky or this thing is finally working and the proof is on the field.

    I actually don't think it's impossible, although a lot of things are going to have work as in a lock down bullpen ( very possible ) and solid to great hitting w RISP ( also possible )

    It's just hard to be a last team place for many years and then become a WS threat the next year. ( hard but not impossible )

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    They were very unlucky last year and just 4 games lower than that at the same point last season.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd be a little reticent to buy with that record if the Pirates and Cardinals are as good as they should be, but I would be just fine with holding Samardzija and counting on further improvement in 2015 with full seasons from Baez and Bryant.

    I also look at the bullpen a little differently. They spent the beginning of their tenure fixing the starting rotation. It isn't great yet, but it sure looks a lot better with guys like Wood and Jackson in the fold, back of the rotation guys like Rusin and Hendricks ready to go, and Johnson, Edwards, and possibly Vizcaino nearing the majors. Now, they need to fix the bullpen. They started with the draft last year but that was just a start.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I do find that to be pretty optimistic.

    Last year's team was due for some positive regression, but they've cancelled some of that out by allowing the roster to get worse without replacement. They've lost DeJesus, Soriano and Garza without comparable replacements.

    On paper, I had last year's team at 78 wins going into the season, this year's team at 74.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Soriano's production will replaced by Ruggiano/lake platoon. Ruggiano might be a surprising power bat.

    Arrieta will probably be Garza's replacement, but Jackson and Shark's improvement could offset that plus more.

    Dejesus wasn't that great an I believe sweeney will be more productive.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    All three of those are noticeable downgrades, imo.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Statistically, which is the only objective measurement we have here, they are not significantly different. And considering the Cubs players are younger, there is a possibility for improvement, which you probably won't get with Garza, DeJesus, or Soriano.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    You do not know that. They may all turn out to be upgrades. You don't know until the games are played.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Soriano only had a .754 ops with the Cubs a 1.1 War. Junior lake actually outproduced him.

    Garza was great but only pitched 70 innings last year, I'd rather try 180 innings of Arrieta.

    Sweeney was a better cf than dejesus and he projects to be about as valuable as him next year.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    "Statistically, which is the only objective measurement we have here, they are not significantly different. And considering the Cubs players are younger, there is a possibility for improvement, which you probably won't get with Garza, DeJesus, or Soriano."

    You're going to have an awfully hard time making that statistical case, imo.

    Career fWAR/160 games or 200 innings:
    Matt Garza 3.1
    Jake Arrieta 1.4

    David DeJesus 3.0
    Ryan Sweeney 2.1

    Am I being a tiny bit lazy using career numbers? Sure, but the point remains that these are not comparable players. They are downgrades.

    The only place there's a superficial statistical point to be made here is with Lake, but only if you believe his slash line last year was sustainable to his rather awful underlying peripherals.

    You mentioned further down the line about regression and such. That's a valid point. The Cubs are probably poised to win more than 66 games, because last year's team underperformed significantly. But it's still a worse team on paper.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    So less than 3 wins in exchange for healthier players heading into their productive years. Exchanging modest past success for greater upside moving forward. That's not very convincing. And it's wrong.

    Using career numbers tells me either a) you lost track of what you are arguing about or b) you are willfully trying to re-frame.

    This was about comparing this year's team to last season's and what you call a downgrade. But if you look strictly at what the Cubs got last season and what they project for next year, it looks like this:

    Garza 0.9 WAR
    Arrieta 0.8 WAR

    David DeJesus 2.0 WAR
    Ryan Sweeney 1.1 WAR

    So we're talking a one win difference based on modest projections for two players who have more upside. I'd take a downside of one less win in exchange for the upside of what two in prime players might accomplish with a full season's worth of playing time. That's an easy trade.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I can't believe how many people are so bullish on Arrietta. There's so very little in his professional statistical profile to suggest he's going to put up 180+ innings of above average baseball, but people keep pointing it out like it's a virtual lock to happen. Don't get me wrong, I hope it happens, but color me as very cautious expecting anything more than entertaining to dream on.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    I think that's very realistic, even probable. Not to mention that it's unlikely Rizzo and Castro play that poorly again. No real big candidates for regression. Wood might a little. But better defense, better bullpen, and they're due for better luck, though luck isn't something you can count on.

    It's as if some believe improvement only comes as linear progress and through big name additions. There is no evidence to support that's the only way teams improve.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    We weren't talking about the desirability of the trade-off long-term. We were talking about how it affects the Cubs' projection for 2014.

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    John, the Red Sox won their 2nd title in 2007.

  • In reply to JimL:

    Thanks. I went ahead and fixed that.

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    Fortunately the Cubs FO is smart enough to realize that you can't ever please everyone.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    As the old adage says, those front offices who act to please fans end up sitting with them.

  • Great article John, it seems to me the Cubs are still spending money. The difference is they are starting to spend it wisely. While the results have been lacking, I think this has been one of the better run organizations in the last two years.

  • Thanks. I do think they'll spend eventually and get that payroll up, but some of it is going to be extending their own guys, maybe trading for a vet such as Cargo, and some well-placed FAs, but I imagine they won't ever consistently bid for the big guns in free agency.

  • What drives me nuts about Passan's and other national articles is no one talks about the shady leveraged partnership done with Zell. Because he wants to dodge taxes the cubs can't fully pay down the debt from the sale. That in turn means they are limited in what they can spend to 10x their revenue in terms of debt. Because of that they have to be massively profitable for the 7 years this partnership will run and that's why they've been in the $105-110 mil range rather than say $120-130 mil.

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    In reply to beckdawg:

    Exactly. Great comment. Had overlooked this fact as well, more fuel to the fire.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    This is the point I tried to convey to Passan on Twitter. He clearly has no knowledge as to the structure of the deal with Zell.

  • (beckdog a great comment),Zell F***** this up. I'm proud Rickett's took the Cubs on. Great article John!
    If anyone is in AZ the Cubs are having an open house for our new park. Can't wait It's on Jan. 25th.

  • In reply to Cubs26:

    Thanks Cubs 26 for the info on the open house. I do hope to attend.

  • Nice work John. Every situation is different (and it seems no situation in baseball is like the one the Cubs are in; Wrigley reno troubles, paying off debt, new CBA restrictions, etc) but I'm lost as to why some don't get the plan. I hope the front office doesn't get soft because people who are out of the know are frustrated with a lack of spending. Despite the losing, the direction of the Cubs has me as excited as I've ever been (save for 2003) in my 30 years as a fan of this team. See it through.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    Five star post 2015! I couldn't agree more!! It would be one thing if there was no fruit, but transforming a bad farm into a top one in two years should give fans the encouragement this is heading in the right direction. Should being the key word though, many just look at the big clubs results and don't see the groundwork being laid for a bright future.

  • Many thanks John for your efforts in putting this great post together.
    Must have taken a fair amount of thought and research. Lots of noise out there and nobody breaks it all down quite as clearly as you do. Your blog is a gem. I can't wait for the season we transition from building a winning franchise to keeping one. It's going to be exciting. The quality of many commenters is very high and that's also appreciated. Thanks again.

  • In reply to jaykaysr:

    Thanks. I'm patient but I really look forward to the time when they start winning too. It's going to be a lot of fun writing the articles then.

  • Well, by definition, I think you could call this team cheap. Unless we make a significant FA singing, which at this point is basically Tanaka, we will have a bottom 5 payroll in all of MLB. From a large market team perspective, this is unacceptable. Instead of leveraging what should be a significant competitive advantage, we are likely to have the lowest payroll in the Central and one of the lowest in the entire league.

    To say that 'in a few years we will be ready to compete and will spend' is 1) an assumption that our 'core' and key prospects will improve the team and 2) An assumption that we will actually open up the wallet and spend on FA. Has the FA market gone even crazier than it was before? Yes, it has. Why? Most would agree that its because of the influx of TV money, both from an MLB sharing and recent TV deals. The Cubs are currently renegotiating the 70 game package - which should bring in at least an extra $25M per year. ALL MLB teams are getting an extra $25M for the Fox deal. So, by a conservative calculation, the Cubs will reap an extra $50M in revenue per year by 2015 - by doing nothing, absolutely nothing different (i.e. no expenditure of money). Where is this money going? Concurrently, the Cubs will have zero big contracts on the books (Jackson will only have 2/$22M left on his deal).

    I'm not advocating a Cano $250M deal. But how about taking some risks on Shark, Wood and/or Castillo. If the Cubs have anything, its enough leverage to sign these guys to longer-term deals. Unless Shark is asking for $100M - I dont see why we couldn't give him 6/$60M. If the prospects are as good as everyone assumes, spending $10M on Shark wont impact the teams ability to acquire talent.

    I consider myself a relatively positive Cubs fan and am literally invested in the teams future - but its frustrating to see the team seemingly stuck in neutral.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I think that's the easy way out, saying they are stuck in neutral. While there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to prospects, the Cubs do have quite a collection of talent on the way.

    You're also advocating signing guys long-term who are already on the Cubs, thus not really changing the product that was already on the field. Besides Tanaka, which FA's would you have liked the Cubs' to sign?

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    I would call neutral generous.

    The farm system is great. The young MLB talent is stuck in neutral. The revenue and financial situation gets worse every year. The front office seems particularly complacent with regards to short-term success.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    The revenue side does not get worse, in fact they are still one of the most profitable teams in baseball.

  • In reply to bleedblue:

    The words "profit" and "revenue" are not interchangeable.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    Expensive signings: Ryu, Darvish, Cespedes. With Darvish, there wouldn't have been a Tanaka bidding war. Just outbid everyone else.

    I'd explore Garza.

    Cheap / shorter deals: Kazmir, Josh Johnson (both flippable).

    I would have thought hard about Ellsbury.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Cubs were in on Johnson and probably outbid the Padres, but he wanted to play close to his home. You can't have a guy just because you want him. Other teams want him too.

    Since the Cubs outbid the other 28 teams for Ryu, Darvish, and Cespedes what does that make the Yankees? They're a win now team with lots of money. They should have even more incentive to buy than the Cubs. Does that make them cheap?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    True. I understand that they can't sign everyone. But when you start saying 'they were outbid by the Padres' something is wrong. JJ's agent comes back and says 'hey, Pads are offering 1/$12'. Theo could easily say 'OK, we will go 1/$15.'

    Cherrington was lauded for all the 'smart, short deals' he gave out. Everyone noted that they paid a higher AAV for some guys, but they kept the deals short.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    They weren't outbid by the Padres. He wanted to play close to home and because it's a good place to rebuild value as a pitcher. He chose the Padres over a lot of other teams.

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    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    What? Are we really looking at a bottom 5 in payroll this coming year?

    Well hopefully if that doesn't mean cheaper tickets and concessions then tommy nickels is making big big money and should definitely have the money to spend on the renovation as well as sign Kershaw if he makes it to FA

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yes, we are actually looking at, or near a bottom 5 payroll.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    We don't know what the payroll will be this year because the team is still not set yet. Who knows who will be signed between now and the start of the season. Worrying about the payroll is not important.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    6 years, $60M for Shark?

    There's no way he accepts that contract.

    I feel like the people that always urge for spending are the ones that seem to throw out the lowball contracts.

    "Why wouldn't we give Shin Soo Choo a 3 year, $45M contract?!?"

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    There is a huge difference between a FA contract and a contract for a player that has 2 years of arbitration left. Also, comparing 3/45 for Choo is incredibility different than suggesting 6/$60M for Shark.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Shark should make about $14M in arbitration the next 2 years. After that, he becomes a free agent. 6 for $60M has him making $11.5M annually over those 4 free agent years. There's no way in hell he signs that contract.

    The Choo and Shark situations might be different, but they have 1 thing in common. Neither proposal is realistic.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Dude. 6/60 for shark is definitely 'realistic'. I don't think people would be considerably surprised if Shark signed for 6/$60 - and I bet there would some that would be surprised at the size of the deal. McCutchen signed for 6/$50, had had a better career up to that point and was largely considered a future elite player. Justin Upton signed a similar deal. Castro / Rizzo - again, largely considered better / younger players signed for a similar amount. Granted, the McCutchen / Upton deals were a few years ago - but they were much, much better players (both in terms of track record and projection).

    Matt Moore is another example. Madison Bumgarner another. Yadi Molina another (his previous deal). Brian McCann's first deal another.

    Comping 6/60 for Shark and 3/45 for Choo are wildly, wildly different.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I'd be very surprised if he signed for 6/60. I'd be shocked, in fact. Happy, but shocked.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Shark won't sign for 6/$60M.

  • Nice piece. I think the question you asked at the top is an interesting one, but as a former journalist, I'd go one deeper: "why write this article?" The answer is as much to meet his content obligations (which is valid) as to curry favor with sources (probably agents). It's the same reason why the Buster Olney's and Tim Kurkijan's say they'd like to see the HOF ballot expanded to allow them to vote for as many a 17 candidates (as Olney recently said). When you know only so many players get in every year, why vote for so many? Only to curry favor with as many current and potential sources and keep the insider info coming.

    But I differ with one area of your defense of Theo/Jed's budget cut-back. I agree it makes no sense to lay out long-term money for players who may not be in their prime and block advancement of prospects when the prospects are ready. But the Cubs can fairly be called cheap for not spending money in the interim years. There are many non-pitching veterans FAs who could be signed to shorter multi-year contracts of two to three years, but this front office has been reluctant. This would include veterans like Uribe (as recommended in this blog) to Saltalamacchia, but they've shown little interest attracting non-pitching mi-level of free agents, going only for bargain bin with the Nate Schierholtz's, Scott Hairston's and Dioner Navarro's. An exception was maybe Dave DeJesus, but even he came very cheap.

    So they have a credible long-term plan, but they have also been cheap in the short-term. From a baseball perspective, this does risk this year having little veteran leadership to help with development and forcing young players like Castro and Rizzo to (maybe?) shoulder too much leadership and pressure too soon.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Easier said than done.

  • Great article John! I appreciate you breakdown the Bo Sox payroll for us. I've never understood the whole Ricketts is cheap theory... there's absolutely no evidence of this, in fact as Marcel points out up top, there's evidence to the contrary. It's funny how some facts are overlooked because the hot air some are blowing feels better....

    Anyways, one other thing that people are not discussing is the impacts that the new CBA has created. Less payroll flexibility for teams, higher $$$ for FA's, etc... it really rewards the teams that build/develop from within. So why people are so against sucking balls for a few years while we rebuild the infrastructure to sustain success is confounding.

  • How does their payroll spending look if you include the posting fee, which was referenced? I don't think he actually decreased spending for some of those years.

  • Aside from Darvish and Ryu there haven't been any big time free agents I'm upset that the Cubs missed out on. There is no way we should spend on someone like Choo based on where the team currently stands. At the same time, it is extremely frustrating to pay top-three ticket prices for the product that is being put on the field.

    Also, I truly hope that Ricketts was upfront with Epstein regarding the potential restrictions on spending due to the terms of the sale. I have to imagine that he was because if he wasn't that would be a disaster on many different levels.

    In my opinion, the key factors for the upcoming season are (in no particular order):

    1) Positive resolution to the rooftop clusterf**k and the TV deal for WGN's portion of the games. The renovation HAS to start after this season and there is no way around it. I am really hoping we get some positive, concrete news at the convention this week.
    2) Bounce-backs from Castro and Rizzo
    3) A resolution to the Samardzija situation, whether it be a fair extension that is good for both sides or a trade for some high-impact young pitching. Shark needs to step it up this year as he was completely awful in the 2nd half. Will the results finally match up with the talent?
    4) Continued development in the minor leagues, both from the guys we all expect to dominate and hopefully some pleasant surprises. This team and this fan base needs Baez and Bryant to be starters on the 2015 team.
    5) Travis Wood having another solid year and signing an extension for reasonable dollars. He'll never be an ace but can be a contributor for the next 5 years. And sadly I felt like he was one of our best hitters last year.
    6) Continued development of Wellington Castillo. I think he has the talent to be a top-tier catcher - will he continue on that path?
    7) Another great draft, hopefully securing a potential TOR starter with the #4 pick.

    I have no idea what will happen with Tanaka. I'd love to have him and I believe the Cubs will make a significant offer but I won't have a problem if the bidding becomes so outrageous that we bow out. Plus, we don't know if he would come here even with the top offer.

    That being said, we still need pitching. The hitters in free agency after the 2014 season are AWFUL. Our offense is going to have to come from within and maybe a trade or two. If we don't get Tanaka, we absolutely must sign a top level starter after this season and there should be some available (Bailey). I can live without any impact signings this offseason but if we are not much more active next year something is very, very wrong.

  • Buster Olney saying the LAD, LAA and NYY are the 3 "finalist" for Tanaka. (Insider)

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/mlb/rumors/post?id=11497

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    That's based on a Japanese paper that has been premature on other stories. Let's hope thay got it wrong this time too.

  • Good article John... This might shock all of those angry fans and agents complaining about the payroll...

    The Cubs payroll in 2008 was 118 mil... And they were 97-64 and in 2010 the payroll was 146 mil and they went 75-87... So spending more didn't make the Cubs better.

    Also, Passan says something about what happens to teams when they wanna be like the Rays... But If you look at payrolls in 2013, the Cubs payroll was 104 mil, but some teams with winning records had payrolls like:

    Orioles: 91.7 Mil
    Braves: 89.3 Mil
    Indians: 82.5 Mil
    Royals: 80.5 Mil
    Athletics: 68.6 Mil
    Pirates: 66.3 Mil
    Rays: 57 Mil

    So yeah, I would definitely love to be like those teams, win games with young talent and still have the flexibility to sign who they want in the offseason while sustaining that success... And I'm sure Passan wouldn't mind if the Cubs turn into that, but I doubt Boras will be happy.

  • Good stuff John. I have no problem with an 80 million payroll this season, as long as I know the money will be there when the time is right. Good opportunity for some potential long term core players this season. Some will step up. I think the Cubs will be a thorn to several teams in 2014.
    There is no doubt that this is a better major league team than the day Epstein walked in the door. And that is with spending a lot less money.
    The minor leagues is no comparison. Guys like Alcantara, who would be a top prospect in many organizations. With the Cubs, he is just another quality young man on the list. Strength in numbers.
    They have to resolve the stadium issue this year however, it is crucial to long term success.

  • The Cubs' projected lineup for 2014 includes four homegrown pre-FA starters and three outside but still pre-FA starters. The rotation includes one homegrown starter and three outside but still pre-FA starters.

    If they don't have enough cheap controllable talent to spend this offseason, why am I supposed to believe they ever will be willing to spend? It would almost be impossible to cram more cost-controlled players into a single roster.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    So they're just supposed to spend money.... ANY money on anyone... Because they should?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    They should be spending money to acquire better baseball players than what they have in order to try to win more baseball games in the hopes that they could then qualify for the playoffs and possibly win the World Series.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    What a brilliant plan, Kyle. As usual though, your post lacks any specific moves you would have liked them to make or still make this offseason.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Isn't this exactly what the Tribune did?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    It was one of the few good things the Tribune did with regard to the Cubs, yes.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    So you liked the Garza trade and Soriano signing despite the timing of them?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I loved the Garza trade and I still do. It didn't work out exactly the way they hoped, but they got many years of a quality pitcher *and* cashed in with prospects nearly as good as what they gave up in the first place (maybe would have even been better if Epstein and Co. had traded them in the spring of 2012 when they should have).

    The Samardzija trade was always a year too long, imo, but otherwise it was a great idea.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Wow. This pretty much says it all. Overpaying for meaningless wins just to say the team is better. Team had no chance to win, but hey, Garza picked up an extra 3 wins! Meanwhile the Cubs lost 6 years of a cost controlled pitcher who should be better than Garza and Lee would have been 6 years of a starting SS or 2B starting this season had he not gotten hurt. When measured by value alone, it's value is far into the negative, one of the worst trades in baseball over the past 3 seasons when measured by lost value. Yeah, great trade.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kyle:

    This is actually for John. Wow. Bad trade. Really???? John you forgot to mention the others included--Chrinos (not with the Rays), Fuld, Guyer. Lee was not an impact player regardless of what you think about his injury issues. So, that leaves the SP...who they acquired from the Indians farm system. Bad trade. Hardly. Overpaying for meaningless wins....well we'll see if Theo and Jed have to resort to do this. 1. IF they don't trade Shark this offseason--like I've already stated they should. 2. If the prospects don't all pan out and the team is far away from being a 90-win ballclub. I wonder how much Theo and Jed will have to pay for wins and fall short of the playoffs in the coming years. I see it happening and I wonder what your response will be then, John.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    Really. That's not a convincing argument because it's results-based thinking and ignores bad process. It's a bad trade even if none of those guys become good players. It's bad in terms of value, bad in terms of timing. Bad process. It's a passable trade if the Cubs were good. But they weren't. It was a bad evaluation of their own team (or they ignored it because they were desperate) and it's ability to compete. If the prospects get hurt of don't become stars, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because it's bad thinking and even if you luck out and don't get burned, it doesn't make it a good trade because the Cubs lost value. Lots of it. They gained a few meaningless wins over the 2 1/2 years. Whoopee.

    Please understand what I"m talking about here. I'm talking about process (and have been for 2 1/2 years), stuff like understanding timelines, and value, and the deal was bad in all those respects. You keep taking about what ifs and results oriented thinking -- stuff you don't control. A smart front office doesn't focus on things they can't control. They evaluate and make decisions based on good process. They work with statistics and probabilities based on historical trends.

    What you say is going to happen is irrelevant. It isn't going to happen because the FO won't abandon their process.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    All teams have a chance to win, and I think you are counting wins from prospects a bit prematurely.

    And you are ignoring that Garza still had value at the end and we got some pretty good prospects in return. That's the neat thing about acquiring MLB talent: It tends to retain value perhaps not better, but more consistently than prospects.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    What the Cubs got in exchange for Garza is irrelevant, we have to evaluate that deal in isolation at that particular time frame. In terms of lost value, it was huge. Twist it however you like, it's still bad process and more often than not, bad process yields bad results.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    When you talk about process, that's heavily where we disagree. I think the concept of the success cycle has become *severely* emphasized around baseball fandom, and especially with Cubs fans in recent years.

    The vast majority of teams fall into a middling projection and should simply be trying to find the best baseball players they can at all levels of their organization. Only a small percentage should go into some sort of all-out rebuild mode or scorched-earth acquisition mode.

    The fact that the Cubs *didn't* compete in the Garza years is where the results-oriented thinking comes into play. They could have, and that's why having him around was a good thing.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    This reads as so vague and tentative to me that I'm not even sure you fully believe what you're saying here. It's unsupported by data and it doesn't consider environment.

    As for results-based strategy, I consider that the equivalent of a dog chasing his tail.

  • Some fans seem to be forgetting. The farm system wouldn't be rated so high, but for the mid-season sell offs, and really bad seasons. I also agree with John. With a small payroll, the Cubs can offer Tanaka a front loaded contract that other teams maybe can't match. Plus there would be more financial freedom later, to fill holes left by the prospects that don't make it. I truly hate to lose, but the rebuild wouldn't be this far along without it.

  • In reply to finish84:

    Said this elsewhere, but I expect the Cubs offer will have a silly number in year 1. We're talking like $50M between salary and signing bonus. Their payroll has given them that flexibility and that's one thing I think the Cubs will be able to offer that some other clubs might not.

  • In reply to finish84:

    I haven't forgotten. They've sold out 2 and soon to be 3 MLB seasons in order to get the farm system up to amazingness more quickly. I don't find that to be a good-value tradeoff, but I won't deny they got what they wanted to get out of it.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    They sold players at the point in the season that they were out of contention. That is a smart move that most baseball teams do every year. I would not call that selling out the season.

    I disagree with you because what they did was a good value trade off. If they did not do what they did, the farm would never get to "amazingness" for a very long time. I for one don't want to wait 20 years to gradually get better like the Pirates did. 4 to 5 years is fast for what they are doing. You just don't seem to appreciate it.

  • In reply to John57:

    Trading at the deadline is good. Failing to fully address needs in the offseason is not. That's what they did in 2011-12, and it reverberated through multiple following seasons. They're doing it again this offseason, and it's maddening.

    "Better than the 1990s Pirates" is a *tiny* bit lower than the standards I wish to hold Cubs front offices to.

  • Good article, John, you and I are definitely on the same page when it comes to how this front office has decided to spend (or not spend) in the previous 3 offseasons.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Thank you, Tulane. It just makes too much sense. Once the Cubs have a strong organization from top to bottom, they may be able to occasionally spend for the short term. It just doesn't make much sense right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, let me ask you this. What will you say if in February 2015 the cubs: lost 90+ games, have a payroll of $75M and have not signed any impact talent? What if that happens in February 2016? Will the argument still be 'why spend just to get us to 75 wins'?

    At what point to we collectively say, OK, we need to start making some FA most to get us to 81 wins so we can get into a position where FA will WANT to come to us because we have a .500 team and/or we have a lot of young talent?

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Roscoe, I see your point, but in Feb 2016 I think you are asking the wrong question.

    You see adding wins to a 75 win team to get them to an 81 win team is still bad business. You say that it would be in hopes of then getting FA to come. But those six wins are not making a big difference in market perception.

    Also, we know that most FA contracts you are buying the front end only to way overpay the backend. Bad business if you are now just an 81 win team. At $5.5 mil per win on the open market you need to roughly spend another $50 mil annually to contend. Problem is all that spending comes with less production per dollar on the backend of the contract. So you buy the right to compete, not even a shoe in to make it and you are saddled with the problems that got us to this point.

    By Feb 2016 the farm should be producing, if we are in the same spot in two years is what is going wrong on the farm that we don't have any impact talent yet?

  • I think some of the fan angst in response to that story is frustration with the pace of the rebuild. I was and remain fully on board with the F.O. rebooting the organization, but I also expected the rebuild to have improved the major league team more at this point. It's aggravating and not much fun to be a fan right now, and there are no assurances that this will work. That's why I think this opinion piece struck a cord with some people.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    No question. None of us like the losing. I think the difference is some fans are willing to endure it now if it means a better organization down the road. I think the Cubs expected to be a lot better last year -- and in some ways, they were better than their record. Maybe better luck this year plus a rebound from the core, a better bullen, and maybe then we'll see some of that progress.

    Ever since I've been a Cubs fan, they seem to improve when I least expect them to. I hope that this is one of those years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really wish Brett Jackson has worked out. That one hurts.

  • came back looking for Felzzy's Sunday Brunch... I just wanted to share these girls smashing Toxicity with him. Enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMKmQmkJ9gg

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier. Felzz is taking some time off but I think he'll be back soon.

  • fb_avatar

    So many Cubs fans are turning into Rickett's apologists and it's becoming a little disconcerting. A lot of loyalists have given them a free pass based on their hiring of Theo Epstein. And I don't disagree that was an outstanding move. But the Wrigley Field renovations have been a top priority for some time and ownership has simply failed to get it done.

    The team developed a poor strategy for the Wrigley Field renovations from the get go. To start with, the team asked the City and State for tax breaks to cover stadium costs without a compelling argument as to why they deserved it (they also paid no attention to the context of the current economic situation in the city or to the popularity of their team). They eventually tried to use the threat of leaving for leverage - which no one believed. Finally, they settled on paying for the renovations themselves while merely asking for fewer zoning restrictions and increasing the number of night games, which was definitely gonna anger local residents, as a way to increase the profitability of the stadium and in turn cover their costs.

    Shockingly the team never garnered the broad city support necessary to move renovation plans along quickly. Probably because the team sucked and residents were utterly confused about the plan and thought the city was paying for the renovations. Additionally, the politicians needed to advocate for the plan (like Alderman Tunney and the Mayor) were never on board. The rooftop owners new the contract they signed in 2004 worked in their favor against the renovations and without public and/or political pressure, there was no reason for the rooftop owners to cut a deal, hence, the delay in renovations.

    This is complete and utter ownership failure. Cubs fans that blame the city or rooftop owners or Alderman Tunney for this mess are letting the Ricketts off the hook. During this same time period Jerry Reinsdorf and Rocky Wirtz were able to negotiate with the city an extension of tax breaks on their United Center past their 2017 expiration date in exchange for a retail development. Now, obviously the two deals are apples and oranges. But it does demonstrate how much more competent the owners of our other major sports franchises are in dealing with the city, the media, and the public in comparison to the Ricketts. The Ricketts are simply not getting it done.

  • In reply to Joey Maassen:

    Some people are sheep. They'll tell you to root for another team if you don't agree with what ownership does. Which makes no sense to me.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    LMFAO....

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I've had season tickets for 15 years and when the ownership changed and Theo was hired pretty much everyone was excited about being a playoff contender around 2014, with 2015 being the break through year.

    On paper, and I know the games aren't played on paper, but they're looking 95 losses in the face...again.

    The Cubs will eventually be good. Stockpiling minor league assets is bound to work out. But the timeline we all thought at the beginning of the regime was wrong and it being pushed back more and more. The plan is failing. I'd like them to trade Shark/Wood. We're going to be trash anyway, might as well have the best minor league system in the majors. What's the difference between 60 wins and 65?

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    That timeline wasn't communicated by the baseball people, it was assumed to be that way by the fans. And I certainly never targeted 2014 as being a playoff competitor. The front office even said that the rebuild would probably take longer than people realized.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I know it was never set in stone but people gave this vague timeline, and it keeps getting pushed back more and more, and people are Epstein apologists.

    Seems like people are afraid to call him on his s*it because he has two world series.

    I know there's a plan, I know the plan is eventually going to work, but I have to imagine he didn't envision it being this slow.

    He has three years left on his contract, do you re-sign him if they have no playoff appearances in his five years?

    I don't have any confidence in 2014, two years to go!

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I find it interesting that some of the people who put unrealistic expectations on the speed of the rebuild look at the people who never did that as apologists.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    The most losses in a 2 year span in club history is nothing to smile about.

    Don't worry no one is trying to take down the Theo poster hanging in your room.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    @Jimmy Ward. Not asking you to smile about it. I'm certainly not. No poster of Theo and no apologies for him either. What I do have hanging in my room is a Moises Alou signed copy of the moment Bartman interfered with him and my ticket stub to that game professionally framed and matted behind UV glass.

    But I have no idea what that has to do with me finding it interesting that some of the people who went into this rebuild with expectations that the Cubs would be set to contend for the playoffs in 2 years look at those who had different expectations as apologists. Your poster comment is the perfect example.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Not a lot of people expected to contend in the second season. 2014 would have been the third season. So yeah...

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Some did, but I think even those people will tell you they were being optimistic.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    What you said: "pretty much everyone was excited about being a playoff contender around 2014".

    What I said: "with expectations that the Cubs would be set to contend for the playoffs in 2 years".

    Theo's first season was 2012. His 2nd was 2013. He's had two years to rebuild before going into 2014. And from your own words you were "excited about being a playoff contender around 2014" or this season. Another way of saying that is in 2 years or once 2 years had passed, you were excited that the Cubs would be close to contending.

    I don't see anything confusing about my English.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    "But I have no idea what that has to do with me finding it interesting that some of the people who went into this rebuild with expectations that the Cubs would be set to contend for the playoffs in 2 years look at those who had different expectations as apologists"

    Since I called people apologists, this refers to me. I didn't have expectations for the playoffs in the first two years which were 2012/2013. You're making things up.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    This is weird. Why are misunderstanding commonly used English. Saying something will happen "in 2 years" is very different than saying it will happen "in year 2" or "within 2 years". When something happens in 2 years time, two years must pass before it will happen.

    However odd, kudos to you sir in avoiding dealing with what you said.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I'm sorry you misunderstood that I never said that.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    So what did you mean by "pretty much everyone was excited about being a playoff contender around 2014"?

    This is 2014. Does the above sentence not mean there were expectations that the Cubs would be playoff contenders this season?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    "But I have no idea what that has to do with me finding it interesting that some of the people who went into this rebuild with expectations that the Cubs would be set to contend for the playoffs in 2 years look at those who had different expectations as apologists."

    2014 isn't within the first 2 seasons of the Epstein regime...

    2014 is Year 3.

    You're a year off.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    This is so weird. Are you reading any of my posts? I didn't say it was within 2 years. I said "in 2 years" which is the same thing as saying "in 2 years time". Very different from "within 2 years" or "in year 2".

    I've stated this very clearly in several posts now. If you'd rather troll or you just don't want to deal with what you said, that's up to you.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    What would you call him on? He said it'd take longer than people realized.

    I think he didn't envision it being this slow because he didn't know how the CBA terms would hamper his ability to rebuild. I think their plan for the last 2 years when they came in was to spend a previously unheard of amount of money on amateur players. They could then build the system and potentially use some of them as trade chips and they wouldn't have to rely on being bad in order to have the best chance of getting those assets.

    Long way to go on his contract and a lot could happen between now and then.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I'd call him on the most losses in two seasons in club history. In the long history of the Cubs, that's saying something.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Yes because wins and losses in the first two years are the best way to judge how a rebuild is going...

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    You said it, not me.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    @Jimmy Ward

    So what were you saying when you wrote that you'd call Epstein on, "the most losses in two seasons in club history"?

    I don't think wins and losses in the first two seasons of a rebuild are the best barometer for how it is going. Do you?

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Quedub - I too have a framed picture of the Alou/Bartman fiasco (without the signature) - it was a gag gift.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Your expectation of Theo was to build a contender within two years with the 29th best organizational talent, and some terribly ugly contracts, all that without changing the organizational culture. Your expectations were far to high.

    I speak from experience that complete overhauls take more time than that.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Many of those so-called sheep did not agree with Tribune ownership or the Wrigley ownership before that.

    They agree with this ownership because they believe in this plan. There's a difference.

    I think it's easy to get caught it up in the instant gratification/consumer oriented culture where success is tied to buying. But in reality it isn't. Success is being able to invest wisely for long term success.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Many of those sheep that I'm talking about loved the Tribune and what the Cubs were doing, no matter how short-sighted that plan was. I'm talking about specific people I know and talk to at Cubs games everyday.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Okay then, go make cracks about them having a fanboy poster of Theo in their room. I didn't love what the Trib was doing. All the wild spending on players in their 30s, the filling in the blanks with post-prime players. I was never really a fan of that at all.

    And I find it odd that some fans, maybe not you, but some of the more impatient ones, are now complaining about the Cubs unwillingness to spend their money on big name free agents in their 30s.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Preach on my brother!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hear, hear!

  • Not throwing in towel on Tanaka, as a result of recent reports, but wanted to pose a couple questions, making the assumption he's headed elsewhere.

    How does thinking change, if at all , with regard to Shark situation? Take him out of the picture and you really don't have much to hang your hat( in terms of SP) on-particularly if you think Wood is headed for some regression. I know the simple answer is next yrs FA class but how many of those guys get extended? Also, we can't assume that just because we might be willing to open purse strings that guys will flock here.

    If nothing else, Tanaka situation should underscore that we're not operating in a vacuum here. The rest of the league isn't gonna sit idly by and say "Cubs want said guy, we better get out of the way". Something needs to be done to make this an attractive place to play because we have plenty of competition that is more attractive to FA s right now. That is something that the "plan" has yet to clearly address. Money is flowing like water and you simply need more, in order to attract difference makers.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Seattle finished 25 games back of the A's and yet they landed the biggest FA of the off season. I don't know what the implications on the Cubs are because of that, but it happened...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    My point is that if Yankees had gotten NEAR that # , he'd still be there. We're willing to be competitive on Tanaka but not outbid everyone else by 30-40 mil. Against that backdrop , he'll select a better team.

    Next offseason ,if we're willing to give Kershaw $300 mil , he ain't coming here unless that's 40-50 mil more than Yanks or Dodgers are willing to give him.

    Sure we can get top FAs if we dramatically overpay but isn't that anathema to management's focus on value & restraint? We're not getting any difference makers at "our price", there's just too much money sloshing around.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Carl9730:

    Don't you think that situation will straighten itself out as the Cubs offense gets better? I mean they have some real mashers on the way. And as the offense gets better doesn't that in itself make the Cubs a more attractive destination for possible FA's?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I wouldn't dismiss that possibility but these kids probably, emphasis on probably b/c it might happen, aren't going to be 3-5 win players right out of the chute. '15 class of FA arms looks good, saving a wave of extensions, and hope we can make hay....

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Carl9730:

    But that in essence is the plan. Build the farm to infiltrate the big league team and fill in around the edges. So to throw up our hands after just two years is a bit short sighted, imo.

    We have example after example of how getting yourself involved in the FA market to win a WS doesn't work. So why go back to that?

    Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    '"We're willing to be competitive on Tanaka but not outbid everyone else by 30-40 mil."

    Do we know this? Do we know that it would take 30-40 million more to lure him. Maybe 20-25 does it. Do we know the Cubs aren't willing to do that? I think a lot of that depends just how stupid the spending gets from other teams driving up the price. Theo's history and philosophy suggests that he will sit out the bidding war and tell Casey Close once you get other teams final offers, give me a call and I'll see if I can top it. He knows he's going to have spend big to get him.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I can promise you one thing: the spending on Tanaka will get crazy. That being said, I can't see Epstoyer going even 20-25 over what Cashman is willing to do. More likely scenario: a carefully worded statement about how "the $ on Tanaka didn't make sense for us at this point on the org's developmental curve" or something like that.

    I get why it doesn't make sense for them to outbid Yanks at this point. I just worry that we'll be unable , either due to a lack of interest by the players or spending restraints, to capitalize on next yrs class. Unless you're willing to pull a Cano-type move, I don't think you can expect to compete for talent without going crazy in the current market, unless you're a good team.

  • I didn't mean more $ to attract too talent. I meant a compelling chance to win....

  • If you are an opposing pitcher, who do you fear in the Cubs lineup about facing? Castro? Rizzo? Scheirholtz? No one, that's who. What free agent would have changed that for next year? No one, again (at least that could stay healthy).

    However, in six months (late June), throw in Bryant and Baez and that attitude about the Cubs offense should change drastically. I really like what the FO did w/the bullpen and should result in the Cubs actually be in more games. Last year they blew 26 games from the bullpen. Cut that in half with the new relievers and I think this team could get above 70 but the offense as of right now will have trouble scoring runs unless Rizzo and Castro can turn it around before Baez and Bryant arrive.

  • Can't say that Ricketts is cheap. But it is undeniable that he's pocketing a ton of dough. Cubs are a cash cow, one of he most profitable team in sports nd they've slashed spending.

    So the stories suggesting momey woes don't ring true. Poor-mouthing it makes ownership seem cheap -- even if the rebuild timeline warrants them not splurging just yet.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I don't think you buy a baseball team to turn a profit. There are much more efficient ways to make money if that's what you want to do.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the big ROI isn't in the annual profits but rather when the owner eventually sells the franchise.

  • It has been mighty quiet around the league since "The Announcement." Aside from a few Minor League deals. I guess there will be some noise after "The Decision II."

  • When Theo says he likes to build for the future, people should look at the 2013 champs...

    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Xander Bogaerts
    Will Middlebrooks
    Dustin Pedroia
    Jackie Bradley Jr.
    Daniel Nava
    Clay Buchholz
    Jon Lester

    Are all Theo draft picks or undrafted signs.

    Where would Boston be without them.

  • In reply to ddevonb:

    If we stick with Theo's plan we should experience success like Boston did. They have won 3 WS in the last 10 years with the organization that Theo built. I am not saying we will win 3 WS in the next 10 years but we will have success. Go Theo do what you know has to be done. Do not listen to the impatient fans. They do not know what is best for the team.

  • how many homegrown players were on the 2004 team?

  • I read the Passan piece Saturday night and thought it was a throw away piece. I'm pleased with the off season. No stupid mistakes.

    I believe the team has the quality and quantity of prospects necessary to be an attractive destination for top of the rotation pitching sooner than many of you suspect. Time will tell.

  • It's usually not good to force the issue. FO will spend when the time is right. The plan didn't change, it's just that some fans didn't like the plan, some have grown impatient, and some were unaware of it. Good things will happen in due time.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Good things will *hopefully* happen in due time.

    I think the hopefully is where a lot of the very informed plan skeptics take issue. I get the plan, trust me, and at this point, there's really nothing I can be but behind it. However, that said, history suggests that we must tread very cautiously here, as putting all of your chips in the prospect basket is an extremely risky bet. What people take issue with, such as Kyle and myself, is that the Cubs have put almost all of their resources into this risky/hopeful plan, including tanking the major league team for what might sum up an average of 95 losses per year for five years [2010 - 2014 (I'm guessing at 2014)]. I don't think it's very fair to chastise people (you are not doing that) for not liking that as a purposeful or semi-purposeful byproduct to the Plan.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    Very informed plan skeptics? . . . you are a joke!

  • So a Japanese newspaper reported that Tanaka has narrowed down his choices to Angels, Dodgers and Yankees. Not sure how accurate this is but coincides with a previous report he wanted to play in LA, Boston or New York.

  • I agree 100% with you. When I read Jeff Passan's article, my first thought was "Why is this guy covering the Cubs? Where has he been the past two years? The Cubs have a strategy, which has been highly publicized and repeatedly re-affirmed by Theo and the Ricketts family. And it will work, just as it did in Boston. Patience is difficult for long-suffering Cubs fans. But your patience will be rewarded!

  • This is interesting:

    David Waldstein ‏@DavidWaldstein 8h

    Consensus in Japan right now is that Yankees and Dodgers are favorites on Tanaka and word is his wife prefers to be on West Coast.

    If this is the case, the Cubs obviously have a TON of convincing to do.

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