What if Tanaka doesn't happen for the Cubs?

What if Tanaka doesn't happen for the Cubs?

I think most people would consider me an optimist.  I think that's true to some extent but I must make some clarification here.  I'm an optimist who is always prepared for the worst.  I don't go into these kinds of things blindly and then have the world crush down on me when it doesn't happen.

So when I say I'm optimistic about Masahiro Tanaka, that doesn't mean I have no doubts that the Cubs will sign him.  It means that, unlike other publicized free agents,  I believe that they have a legit shot at signing him -- as legit as any other team out there.

But yes, I'm prepared for the Yankees to sign him or for the Dodgers to decide they need a 4th top of the rotation starter and pay him in gold bullion for the privilege.

Let's suppose that happens, what's next for the Cubs?

After the initial heartbreak, it has to be back to business.  For those of you hoping the Cubs to turn around and sign Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, I would say to prepare yourself for another disappointment.  If you think the Cubs will turn to Matt Garza, I'd say that's an extreme long shot as well.  I've always thought he'd land with the D'Backs, though the Angels remain a possibility.

What we can expect the Cubs to do in the event they do not sign Tanaka is to regroup and keep their eye on the long term.

I would expect he Cubs to approach Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel.  Perhaps they still have interest in someone like Chris Capuano, a guy the front office pursued in their very first season. They could offer Scott Baker that MLB deal he's seeking.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprise if they signed a couple of pitchers on short term deals, especially if one is a versatile arm like Jerome Williams who can transition easily to the bullpen if needed.

It's certainly not as sexy as a Tanaka signing, but it will give the Cubs another guy they can hand the ball to every 5th day who can at least give them a chance to win.

Meanwhile, the Cubs will have saved a lot of payroll space for the crop of next year's free agent pitchers and while we haven't seen them spend heavily on free agents, that could change if the Cubs have some breakthroughs from their core as well as the emergence of a prospect or two.

There will be disappointment, yes.  But there won't be panic.  There's no time for that. Just move on to plan B.  I believe the Cubs will do everything within reason (and perhaps even a step or two outside of reason) to sign Tanaka.  But ultimately, they do not control their own fate here.   We can speculate as to what motivates Tanaka and what might bring him to Chicago, but nobody knows for certain.  In the end, it will be about what Tanaka values most as he transitions to a new league, a new country, and a new culture.

But I feel confident that the Cubs have done their homework on this and that they understand that this is a rare opportunity for them that they cannot afford to pass up.  The Dodgers will be set in their rotation anyway.  The Yankees are built for the short term, so they may do just as well signing Santana, Garza, and Jimenez -- perhaps even more than one of them -- something they can do for less money than signing Tanaka alone.  The Cubs don't have that same luxury.

So while panic is not an option, I do feel there is a sense of urgency on the Cubs part and I can't help feeling just a little bit optimistic on this one.  I can only hope Tanaka feels equally optimistic about the Cubs.



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  • RAGE will happen, John.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    What Eddie said - you think "fans" were going mental over the mascot? Brace yourself for the comments section of Wittenmeyer's first "I told you so" article if the Cubs get priced out of the Tanaka market....

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    You'll have to report on what they say :) I will avoid that comments section like the plague.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    This is true.

  • Seriously, I think a Jeff Samardzija trade happens before ST if Tanaka accepts some other club's Brinks truck. The window to win doesn't open in 2015 W/O a top of the rotation starter.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    That's a good point. I think that becomes more of a possibility. I know Samardzija seems excited about the possible addition of Tanaka, but I'll be interested to see how he reacts knowing the Cubs put in a big effort.

    Ideally I'd like to have them both, but they may need to take a step back.

    But for that to happen someone will have to meet the Cubs asking price and so far it seems that nobody has come close. Maybe that changes after Tanaka and a couple of other FA SPs sign.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I HATE the idea of trading Samardzija, but I will live with it if we get a Bradley or Sanchez in return. I have heard that the Cubs asking price is really high and I hope it stays that way.

  • I just want it this to be over with. I wish Tanaka well where ever he ends up. Either way the Cub's future looks bright.

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    Where's the part where we pray to all that is holy the White Sox don't draft whoever of Beede, Rodon, and Hoffman falls to them?

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Since we're talking about a team that once drafted the GM's daughter ahead of 14 future major leaguers like Bob Howry and Placido Polanco, I'd say the odds are the White Sux blow this June's golden pick and select someone who will flame out at High A.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm probably in the minority here. But they can have them... I want Turner and for me it's not close. I believe in the front office's strategy of drafting positional players with high ceilings early and attacking pitching with volume later. I think it's too much of a risk to draft one of the pitchers(except maye Rodon) with Turner still available and I believe/hope the Cubs feel the same way.

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    In reply to Rudy:

    Agree 100%. It's a lot harder to find a stud position player in the later rounds while history has shown countless stud pitchers taken in the later rounds.

  • In reply to Rudy:

    The one problem so far w/ their strategy has been the apparent lack of TOR arms the strategy has produced to date. Ultimately whether you acquire TOR pitchers in the draft or through trade, the only thing that matters is that you have one or more. Hopefully this year, we add a couple.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Tanaka and FA from next year could get that done. Not to mention many of the high upside arms we have in the system. If all else fails and say Turner is the real deal you can flip Castro for one assuming he get's back to form. I just think it's a much smarter/safer strategy than drafting for TOR pitchers... TINSTAPP and all. I'd much rather bet on a guy who has already developed and get him via FA or a near MLB ready TOR arm in someone's system.

  • In reply to Rudy:

    What free agent next year? There are a lot of guys out there that I would like on the team, but I don't see anyone that I would feel extremely confident starting Game 1 of the World Series in a couple of years. Maybe Max Scherzer or Jon Lester, but I think Lester will stay in Boston. If Scherzer has another good year, then I could see him in that position, but he would get a boatload from the Yankees at that point.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I didn't say we would definitely get one of those guys but yes that would be ideal. A theoretically solid rotation of Tanaka, Shark(if he re-signs if not insert TOR prospect gained in trade), QO FA(or 2), Wood and which ever pitching prospect sticks would be good enough to get us to the playoffs for years with a young, cheap and hopefully great line up and a good bullpen. And that's all we need; just make the playoffs consistently and take our chances from there. It would be amazing to have Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz as well, but even they only one 1 out of 14 times... once you are in it's very much a crap shoot.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They could go Kolek or Gatewood...and I wouldn't be surprised at all for the White Sox.

  • I will be ok if we don't get Tanaka. A lot of risk for the amount of money it will take. If we get him great, but if not I agree that there should be several very good free agent pitchers available next year we can spend on. As a matter of fact, since all of our hitters will be cost controlled the next several years, my guess is we can spend up to 75% of the budget on pitching starting in 2015. So develop the hitters and buy good pitching (since we don't have much of it)

  • In reply to Craig:

    Max Scherzer and Homer Bailey are the only guys out there I'd consider giving up a draft pick to sign, and there's a very good chance neither pitcher sees free agency. Bailey will be the younger of the two at 29 years, so they will both be on the statistical downsides of their respective careers. I don't agree that there's a ton out there for the Cubs in free agency in 2014. I say balls to the wall for Tanaka.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I never loved Bailey. He is brilliant at times and really mediocre at others. It would be great to see the Reds fall out early and trade Bailey and Cueto at the deadline.

  • If Tanaka doesn't happen, then you go out there with something similar to 2012 and are very likely (though nothing is certain in baseball) well below .500 by July.

    You get what you can for Samardzija, Schierholtz, Sweeney, Veras, Barney, and maybe Jackson. Baez and Bryant break into the MLB by the end of the year, with guaranteed jobs for 2015. Maybe one or two more guys in the Olt/Hendricks/Alcantara tier establish themselves as adequate MLBers as well.

    You enter the offseason pre-2015 with a team that is insanely young and has amazing financial flexibility, but is still probably well below .500 on paper. Trades will still be hard to come by and virtually every free agent will be post-prime, so there will be no reason to "go for it" yet again, and you enter 2015 with some bargain veterans and talented youngsters, hoping to hang around .500.

    IF the first wave establishes themselves as stars and the second wave begins to break in, then maybe you start thinking about making major expenditures in 2016, but even then you might wait until 2017.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    He's one guy out of 25+ who will play in about 20% of the teams games. He can't *possibly* be this big a difference maker up or down.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Remember he may look good on paper, but he is not a sure thing TOR starter. There are no sure things

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The difference between 29th place and 10th place in WAR in MLB was 14 wins. Marginal wins are not that easy to come by, and 3 or 4 from one position definitely makes a big difference.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    You're kinda making my point here. For the Cubs to be interesting, by your numbers, they need to pick up 14 wins. In a wildly optimistic scenario, Tanaka gives them four of those wins. Therefore, they need to pick up another 10 wins to make things interesting. That has to happen with the other players -- so gaining Tanaka doesn't help us if we don't get those 10 wins, and losing him doesn't hurt us that badly if we do.

    He is one part of a much larger whole. And if they don't get Tanaka, they'll go right back to the drawing boards to find a way to get a 4 win (or better) pitcher at the top of the rotation.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's exactly my point.

    It's oversimplified, but:

    With Tanaka, we still need 10 wins. Baez and Bryant can give you a few. So now you're 1 or 2 big players short. That's doable in one offseason.

    Without Tanaka, we need 14. Baez and Bryant can give you a few, but you're still at least 3 big players short, and you've got very little incentive to keep Samardzija past the upcoming trade deadline, so now you're four short.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Should also consider that wins can be added from within the current roster. Can get those from better years from core players. Can also add wins at the margins with better platoon splits/defensive improvement/better bullpen. One last thing you can do -- and this admittedly involves a good amount of luck, is get better sequencing from those same numbers. Statistics matter but sometimes it also matters when they happen (i.e. better bullpen performances in high leverage situations, better RISP, better LOB% from SPs). All incremental improvements but they can add up as we sometimes do with surprise teams.

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    In reply to Kyle:

    You have very little incentive to keeping Shark now if you don't get Tanaka. And with questions as to whether the Blue Jays will be in the playoff race come July, that translates to the highest possible TOR prospect in Aaron Sanchez the Cubs could get. This season will definitely be worse than 2013.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I'd also wager WAR seems a little deflated with starters. Fangraphs has Clayton Kershaw as the #1 WAR pitcher last year at 6.5. Let's call, who, Casey Coleman? a 0.0 WAR pitcher (and that might even be unkind to Coleman). You're telling me that replacing Coleman with Kershaw only gets you 6.5 more wins a year?

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    In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Quite possibly, yes.

    The trick to winning a game is that two things have to come together: you don't give up any runs, and your offense scores. There are games where the offense will score 5+ runs. On those days, you don't have to be Clayton Kershaw to win.

    There are other days (we call them "the summer" for the Cubs) where your offense isn't going to score at all. On those days, not even Clayton Kershaw can win. Further, every starter gets about 30 starts a year. So, when you take out the games that any pitcher could have won and the games that no pitcher could have won, you're fighting over a relative handful of games. In that sense, if Kershaw can give you six extra wins out of 30 starts, that's pretty huge.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Yes. 6.5 is a ton.

    Take the worst non-Astros team in baseball the last few years, give them two 6.5-win upgrades, and they're a borderline playoff team.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I see what your saying...even better according to Fangraphs Edwin Jackson was a 2 WAR pitcher last year & Kershaw was 6.5 WAR - considering Kershaw pitched 2 more games and 60 more innings, besides being so much better than Jackson it's hard to believe that CK was worth only 4.5 WAR more than EJ.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I agree. There's a lot of duds from looking at WAR. My favorite example from FanGraphs is Zach Grienke 2.9. Jeff Samardzija 2.8

    That's laughable. WAR is a cool guide, but there are kinks to be worked out when the formula spits something like that up.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Sorry but I'm actually going to disagree with you on that one, Samardzija (2.8 WAR) vs Greinke (2.9 WAR).

    First of all Greinke is .1 WAR better, which is not much but it is a 3% improvement.

    Secondly - Shark pitched 33 Games & 213 innings vs Greinke at 28 games & 177 innings... that's a difference of 35 innings & 5 games in Sharks favor - also 35 inning/5 games is 7 innings per start which means that it is an actual 5 game addition.

    Third - I assume you are looking at Wins & Losses (which don't have much to do with assessing a pitchers performance) and probably ERA which also depends on many factors beyond the pitcher (feilding, ballpark, conditions, etc, etc.) .

    If you look at xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching normalized to 10.5% Fly Ball to HR rate) than Shark & Greinke actually both have a 3.45 xFIP last year. I'll say that again, Shark and Greinke both had a 3.45 xFIP last year in the innings they pitched (35 more innings for Shark)

    Even if you want to take FIP instead (without normalized HR rate) then the difference is 3.77 FIP for Shark vs 3.23 FIP for Greinke, i.e. a 1/2 run per game better FIP fro Greinke in 5 less games (35 innings) pitched.

    So 2.8 WAR for Samardzija vs 2.9 WAR for Greinke really isn't as "laughable" as you think.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I knew all of that, it's still as laughable.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Well if you knew that Greinke & Shark were identical in normalized fielding independent pitching stats, and if you knew that Greinke was only a half run better in non-normalized fielding independent pitching statistics, and if you knew that Shark pitched 5 more games (35 innings), and yet you still think it's "laughable" than you either don't know what the statistics actually mean (even if you think you do) or are just trolling for a reaction....or both.

    Not to mention the fact that you haven't provided a shred of statistical proof to back your position that 2.8 WAR for Shark vs 2.9 WAR for Greinke is "laughable".

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think it is laughable because Greinke is paid $26 million a year so he must be better. Give me some Shark and I will be laughing and rolling in $100 bills.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    You worded your post as if I was confused as to why their rating was similar, I understand why.

    I get it, I just don't agree with it. Shark pitches more innings and gets a lot of strikeouts so that boosts his rating. Save the lecture. I like ERA+ where Zach is Top 10 in all of baseball and Jeff is below average. I like it because of simplicity to compare pitchers through eras.

    Also the eye test where Zach is a Top 10 pitcher in the NL and Shark isn't close to it.

    There's my shred. Your assumption was…way off, but then again you know what they say about assuming...

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Should I explain the difference between Kershaw and Jackson and say you don't understand the stat or you're trolling if you don't agree with it?

  • John, this is just way too healthy of a response...are you sure you're a Cubs fan?

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Haha! You are talking to the guy who cried when Bill Madlock got traded. Of course, i was 7 back then.

    I think it's a huge disappointment but they can't dwell on it. Gotta keep moving forward.

  • I asked this question in your last posting, the "what if". I'd have to think they would at least try to see if they could get a "Jimenez" or someone like that without giving up a draft pick. The question is, who is out there that would not require giving up a draft pick?

    You mention Maholm. The question then is, would he want to come back and be subject to being here short term and possibly be traded, again. I would like to see him return, but I don't see it happening.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Maholm, Hammel are my two favorites for that. I think they can be 2 WAR pitchers which for the Cubs will work just fine. They don't need to pay for an extra win or two if it costs a draft pick.

    I think Maholm left on a good note. The Cubs treated him well and traded him to a place he wanted to go. I don't think there are ill feelings there. He's a good guy.

  • I'm more worried about another scenario. What if the Cubs sign Tanaka and he is a major bust? I guess we have to trust the scouting. But I'm extremely worried about dropping $150M+ on a guy who has never thrown a pitch in the Bigs.

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    That is a good idea for another article :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    This is part of my fear...we pay dearly and Tanaka accepts, then he turns into a #3 "dice-k" type of pitcher....not terrible, but not great...then, bc we are the Cubs, we suffer an injury (or two) to one (or two) of our elite prospects....I get it, that's we are building redundancy, and I am all-in on the way the re-build is taking place...BUT going all-in doesn't guarantee anything, just that you tried...

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    I've always liked Jerome Williams.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Agreed. I think he would be a good back of the rotation guy that could be flipped at the deadline if it works out.

    I wouldn't mind picking him up even if we get Tanaka.

  • Free agent contracts seem excessive this year to me. The world economy is slow with an uncertain future. I'm no financial expert but tv contracts or not the price on playing baseball might drop quickly very soon. Those organizations speeding big might wish that they had been more cautious. The boys in the front office are pretty measured and the timing could work to the Cubs advantage.

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    If we don't land Tanaka I say stand pat. Id rather give guys like Cabrera, Grimm, Hendricks or maybe even Rivero a shot at the rotation before signing bargain-bin types like Jerome Williams. Its a developmental year. Give the young guys a chance.


    Doesn't look too bad IMO. Relatively young rotation with 4 power arms and a good lefty. Sure it'd look better with Tanaka in there but hopefully we can develop our own ace down on the farm like good teams do.

    Still hoping we get Tanaka though.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Just posted along the same lines. Like the way you think!

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Count me in on the developmental year logic.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I tend to agree. I like Maholm alot, but we have too many fringe guys we could give those starts to and see what we have. Option #1 remains Tanaka, though!

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Add Rusin as 7th possible starter. Then I think you flip
    Edwin Jackson (if he gets off to a good start) he could
    bring back some solid prospects and that makes room
    for Hendricks.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I would look at going after the Korean if I was to sign a FA pitcher

  • I think this is a pretty significant inflection point, as MT signing would greatly increase the possibility of Shark sticking around. Otherwise, no way Shark sticks past midseason and quite possibly is dealt before ST. That leaves you with a VERY marginal rotation, assuming some negative regression for Travis and positive for EJax.

    I wont blame Theo if we don't land him, as they've appeared to put their best foot forward. That being said it's a pretty friggin big deal, as an entire offseason is riding -boom or bust - on it.

    As far as Plan B, many fans blithely seem to think we just acquire quality SP " another way". I hope people realize "another way" may have to involve trading some of our prized talent-possibly including one of Big 4. Don't kid yourselves, an MT signing solves a lot of problems.

    Any plan that involves Malholm, Hammel, or Jerome Williams is one that has fallen off the rails, to some extent. I think it's getting a bit late in the game for those types of Band Aids.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Why not blame Theo; the main reason for Tanaka not signing with us will likely be we are a losing team with little hope of contending the next few years. Theo is the one who decimated the team and did not rebuild it.

  • In reply to krn99:

    It's called a rebuild for a reason. First you have to tear it down, then you have to rebuild it. The only reason to tear it down is if it was terrible in the first place and it was. The only reason to rebuild it from the ground up is to do it right. That takes time. I think you're being unreasonable with your expectations.

  • Right now we are staring at mediocrity for the next 2 years , at best. Tanaka or any other high priced guy is not going to accelerate that pace unless accompanied by other moves..and that ain't gonna happen without the Jumbotron. Why not save the Tanaka money until '16, decide what is needed and THEN jump into the market. People that are upset will still be upset. But makes little sense to spend 50 M on Tanaka during those developmental years . I view the Tanaka chase as more of a PR move than an effort to get well quick.

    (BTW, where did you get my picture???)

  • In reply to xhooper:

    Haha! I figured that guy had to be a Cubs fan.

    Tanaka is just 25 so he will be in his prime age (27) when the Cubs expect to contend. He fits the timeline perfectly and he doesn't cost a draft pick.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I get that. But they are still offering to pay the guy $40-$45M for two years without meaning. Is it worth it? Maybe not.

    It's for this reason I didn't understand pumping all the $$ into the EJ deal. Even if he won 15, would it have made that much of a difference given other team issues?

  • In reply to xhooper:

    I don't see signing Tanaka as either a PR move or an effort to get well quick. I see it as an effort to bring in a long term asset, just as drafting Bryant or signing Jimenez were.

    It would probably have been more convenient for the Cubs if Tanaka came on the market next winter rather than this winter, but if you are signing him for 7 years, that really doesn't make all that much difference. He will not be available next winter, so if you want him, and they seem to want him, then now is the time.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Agreed he would be a long term asset, but one that would be sitting idle. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe they won't find somebody with comparable credentials in '15 or '16 on whom they can spend it.

    Can any business afford to tie up that amount of money in an asset that is not productive. Unless they figure this one guy will put fannies in the park , I consider it a waste of big, big bucks.

  • If the Cubs miss on Tanaka, you also have to hope EJ starts out hot so the front office can shop him in July. If the team is still rebuilding into 2015, there's no sense in keeping him around either.

  • I am with you in two respects, I think we're going to win this one and have a great piece of the puzzle come Friday. I also think we should plan for the worst, that we need to add another pitcher. Where we differ though is that I would rather truly gamble with the last spot. So if it's Shark, Jackson, Wood and Arrieta, I think giving Hendricks, Grimm, Rusin, Raley, Vizcaino or Cabrera is the best move. In addition to the names above I am sure that I've forgotten about other potentials. The opportunity the Cubs have is to search for a long shot, another potential piece of the puzzle. Next year when we expect to compete these opportunities will be in short supply. If one of the above doesn't pan out there are others, but I don't think we'll know what they can do with out the shot

  • The uninformed, i.e., those that don't come here nearly everyday, will be outraged and scream bloody murder and blame Ricketts and adopt the Boras "Ricketts is cheap" line.

    I (former handle: Nondorf) have been somewhat critical of the debt excuse and the lack of spending on MLB caliber talent to at least field a true MLB team while we wait for the prospects. I have gotten very frustrated. But this site has not only been informative, it has actually been therapeutic for me.

    So I will be bummed out big time -- maybe nearly inconsolable -- if we don't get Tanaka. But I wont' be outraged or pissed or panicked. I do believe this FO is doing and/or has done all they can to get him and if he doesn't come that's on him, not ownership or the FO.

    But I do hope Plan B involves getting at least one true MLB proven starter who can eat up some decent innings (I'll take Garza and Maholm again) as we look forward to and wait for Baez's arrival later this summer and, hopefully, a TOR FA signing next winter. Despite my criticism and frustration, I do very much believe in this FO and further believe this rebuild is getting near fruition.

    Finally, while you can disagree with Wittenmeyer, I believe he serves a useful, beneficial purpose of keeping FO's feet to the fire. They can deal with him and maybe, just maybe they need to be pushed a little.

  • In reply to Teddy P:

    Thanks Teddy. I think it's therapy for me to write about them as well. It forces me to look at the Cubs from different perspectives. It's easier for the fan part of all of us to get frustrated, we all want to see them win -- especially if you are a season ticket holder who wants to see a better product for their money.

    The FO is asking a lot. They're asking us to wait and have faith and that if we do, we'll see multiple consecutive seasons of good baseball instead of one or two good years at a time.

  • In reply to Teddy P:

    Wittenmeyer doesn't keep the FO's feet to the fire. I suspect that they totally ignore him, just as a ryno ignores a fly. No one in the front office is in danger of being fired, and none of them are likely to care much what Wittenmeyer or the idiots on SCR have to say about their policies.

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    In reply to Teddy P:

    pfft. Nobody in the front office gives a flying rodent's behind what Nit-Witt-enmeyer says. And rightfully so.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Didn't mean to suggest FO cares what Wittenmeyer says to the extent that they make decisions based on what he writes. But they definitely care what he writes. They have to because its part of the job to manage public relations.

    I absolutely believe Wittenmeyer has a significant impact on public perception and the view of the (mostly uninformed) fan base and I have no doubt the FO and Ricketss family care very much about that perception and about the growing restlessness and frustration of that fan base. That's why we saw a coordinated effort by ownership and the FO to educate and to address and massage those concerns. Therefore, I expect that if we don't get Tanaka, the FO may be more aggressive to do something to mollify the fan base concerns which have in fact been fueled and fanned by GW and others -- and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

  • The thing about any future free agent and be content in losing for now is that we’ll be tempted to forgo the better ones in order to keep all our high draft picks. That’s the toughest things about stinking year after year - picks become more and more precious and it becomes easier to rationalize not really trying to improve because you'll only hurt any long term success.

    Everyone likes to quote Theo but the one quote that gets lost is the one that each season is sacred and you need to do your best and win each and every one of them.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Teams like the Red Sox have proven that you can be highly successful without ever giving up a draft pick to sign a qualified free agent. In my opinion it should never be done. Their are other ways to improve, i.e. non-qualified free agents, trades, international free agents which can and should be utilized instead.

    In my opinion if a team is depending on qualified free agents to provide their core player talent then they aren't a real contender anyway. Under the new CBA it is just to difficult to acquire enough talent that way. The farm must provide at least part of the main core as well as a couple peripheral players...even the Dodgers with all their spending have Kershaw as a product of their own system, and yes the just paid him mega-bucks but if he wasn't their own then they would be giving him a 10 year contract at the age of 30+ instead of 7 years at age 25.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Sure you can sign a qualified free agent and be smart like the Red Sox are/were. You just one need to be giving up a late first rounder (i.e., be a playoff team) and let more qualified free agents go than you sign, so you net out in draft compensation without a significant backward slip. That seems to have been part of the Red Sox MO.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Huh? No. The Red Sox have NEVER signed a Qualified Offer Free Agent since the new CBA was instituted. They have gained draft picks from making QO's but that's a completely different story. I think you misread what I was saying.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Agreed. It was far easier to pick up lost draft picks under old CBA.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Ah, since the new CBA. That is true. I was thinking under the old one. But the approach is still solid. For instance, if you are a playoff team and give up a #28 first round pick for signing one, but pick up a #33 and #37 for letting two go, you would net out. Cubs of course should be so lucky to be in line for the #28 pick.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Or you could be the Red Sox and keep your pick, then add one for Jacoby Ellsbury and possibly a second for Stephen Drew and wind up with three picks in the top 40 instead of two.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    True dat Mr. Moody, plus the QO's they do re-sign, i.e. Mike Napoli, they don't lose anything, but what they gain is a cheaper rate for the player since he cost's more to other teams because of the draft penalty associated with the player, thus giving teams like the Red Sox an advantage with their own QO's they do re-sign and theoretically a below market rate. Not to mention the ability to do it all over again when said contract is up (if the player is still worth a QO)

    I have no doubt the Cubs FO will be "gaming" the system in the exact same way once we have Free Agent pplayers worthy of QO's and we are good enought at the MLB level that the players are worth more to us playing out the year than trading them away at the deadline, i.e. the Cubs are in contention.

    Although I think in the next CBA the Players will ask for a rule that limits QO's to Free Agents by a team to 1 time to a player. Tweener players like Kendrys Morales would be more willing to accept the QO if they knew that once the year is over the team can't just offer them another QO. I agree that it would be fairer for both sides but that's another matter.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I do think Theo tries to win every year. I truly believe they thought last year's team was better than their record and that we may see them take a leap forward this season. He's trying to pick up wins on the margins this year, adding bullpen pieces and good role/platoon players. I know it doesn't seem that way on the surface, but I think with or without Tanaka, the Cubs will improve this year. Having Tanaka, though, would make things awfully interesting.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree if they add Tanaka and he turns out to be pretty
    good and sign Maholm then things looks way better for
    2014. With a rotation of Tanaka,Shark,Wood,Maholm,
    Jackson & Arrieta and a much improved bullpen. They
    only need a couple hitters to get hot and who knows.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not at all bitter about the Cubs losing the last two years, and I'm not prone to conspiracy theories, but there is one piece of hard evidence that would seem to indicate that the Cubs FO wasn't doing all it could to win over the last two years--and that is the way they treated the bullpen. In each of the last two years, the Cubs have been running on half a bullpen, and using the other half as a tryout camp for the Kameron Loes and Alex Hinshaws of the world.

    If you're really trying to win, that's inexcusable. There are tons of FA relievers out there every off-season, and many of them are not expensive. The bullpen has been the Achilles' heel of this team for two years, and that could have very easily been avoided without spending a lot of money, giving up draft picks, or otherwise sacrificing the future. That is the one thing that really makes me wonder how serious this FO was about winning.

    The fact that the Cub went out and signed Veras and Wright this year--precisely the kind of cheap but solid relief arms that are out there in FA every year--makes me think that the FO is finally satisfied that the farm has been replenished and they don't *need* to lose anymore in order to build a long term powerhouse. In fact, they have added a lot of bullpen talent over the last calendar year now, and that alone could make a big difference for a team like the Cubs that is not an offensive powerhouse.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    "Each season is sacred" also means that you don't sacrifice future seasons just to get to 81 wins in 2014.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    I agree, but I would put it a little differently. First couple of years of a rebuild, you do the best you can given the long term goals to win. You're not playing to win in just one or two seasons but over the long haul. However, if you strike lightening in a bottle early on in a rebuild, you stick with it and add assets at the deadline. If you're not in it, you sell assets which will likely have you wind up with a worse record than you could have had otherwise. This might make your team look worse than they otherwise were, but it is the fastest way to having a consistent playoff caliber team.

  • I just hope Tanaka shares my feelings for New York City. I think I'd rather live in a swamp.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    I had mixed feelings about New York. Love the cultural aspect but not as crazy about everything else.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Haven't been here since I was mugged at gunpoint, 1982.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Haven't been THERE...

  • In reply to cubsin:

    "I wouldn't live in New York City, If you gave me the whole darn town" Buck Owens.

  • Love the comments. Too funny. Yes, if the Cubs don't land Tanaka, fan reaction in 2014 will be like new parents trying to survive the Terrible Two's... but without needing to be the maturer responsible ones. Theo/Jed have a plan, and I trust it. But I'm with all those fans who are surprised that -- if we don't land Tanaka -- the only two long-term building blocks at the major league level this FO has added in its three off-seasons are Anthony Rizzo and Travis Wood... who they added in the first off-season. (My apologies to Edwin Jackson. Don't see him as a long-term building block. Always thought he was a long-term trading asset.) The farm system is coming along nicely, but it's unfortunate we are still waiting to add our Gary Matthews and Larry Bowa to provide longer term veteran leadership... players Dallas Green added in his first 3 off-seasons. But different times of course, can require different plans.

  • Maholm, Hammel, and even Jerome Williams are viable options to pick up IMO.

    Although that being said - I would just as soon see the Cubs get an incentive-laden contract to Baker, and see what he's got left in the tank.

    On the 'bright side' of the 'we lost out on Tanaka' thinking - again IMO - is that we get a better & earlier look at what we have in Hendricks, Beeler, or Brett Marshall.

    The rotation will end up fine,.... if unexceptional.

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    For the fans, more whining for sure.

    For the FO, I don't think much of anything changes aside from having a spot on the roster needing filled.

  • IMO the Cubs losing out on Tanaka will be followed by a flaming Clark fleeing down Addison, chased by a large group of pitchfork wielders wearing blue pinstripes.

  • I keep seeing Jerome Williams mentioned. Did talks between the Rangers and him break down? I thought they signed him.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    If he signed, I missed it. Thanks.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Williams is still a free agent.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Thanks Ray.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're welcome, John.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    The Rangers had talks with both Williams and Maholm; I believe they could have signed Williams but prefer Maholm if his elbow is OK. I suspect that as usual they have several irons in the fire and don't want to be committed too soon unless they have a solid replacement for Holland. Honestly, I don't think they are out on Tanaka either.

  • Not signing Tanaka would be a major blow IMO. Yes, there's other FAs out there, but this guys talent and age are something that can't be bought among the other available candidates.

    What it goes back to is "impact talent" that Theo speaks often about and right now the Cubs lack anyone with that ability. Tanaka should be a perennial 3.5+ WAR performer, of which a playoff team will need 4-6 of to reasonably contend every year. Now maybe Rizzo, Castro, or Castillo can become that sort of player, but it appears the Core Four, Edwards, Johnson, or other prospects will need to emerge for the Cubs to attain those particular talents. Getting Tanaka would be a huge boost in the right direction.

  • Take the best offer for Jeff if we can get what we want

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    If Tanaka does not sign it simply means he didn't buy in to the idea that Theo was trying to sell. And that is that the Cubs are an up and comer with lots of talent that could surround Tanaka. 2014 season would still be more or less the same with or without Tanaka as our #1.

    But the Cubs may need to show a few folks that the talent is for real. With the promotion of both Bryant and Baez by the end of the year, a spark can finally be ignited. If we also see Castro and Rizzo bounce back, it would be much easier to sell the same idea about the Cubs being an up and comer.

    Then next winter you take for financial flexibility and go strong after Max Scherzer. There's another legit #1 for ya and probably worth the money that the Cubs would have spent on Tanaka.

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    The problem the Cubs have with trying to get Tanaka and any other FA's. Look at our club. Who in their right mind would want to come here? We have to get some big name players through trades,then we'll be able to land FA's.

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    The team has a lot to offer...thirst to win, great management, great fan base, talent on the way, world class city, and Wrigley. The attraction can be compared to top talent leaving established jobs to join a start up like Google, Apple, etc.
    You don't get that same challenge by inking with the Dodgers/Yankees.

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    I can think of about 150 million reasons why Tanaka would want to come here...

    Everyone assumes that only winners attract top shelf FAs and that's just not true. All it takes is one high profile signing or two to get the ball rolling and that's what the Cubs are after.

    This might not be a popular example on this forum, but as a Green Bay Packer fan that saw how Ron Wolf rebuilt a champion during the early 1990s, I can see unmistakable parallels in the way the Cubs and Pack are reshaping their rosters.

    After using first round draft picks to acquire Mike Holmgren from the 49ers and Favre from the Falcons (both of those moves were panned at the time among fans & pundits), Wolf made countless incremental roster moves to improve the team. Upon reaching 9 wins, what he desperately needed was that one impact FA acquisition that could vault the Packers to a level where they could compete with the 49ers or Dallas Cowboys.

    With the signing of Reggie White to a 4yr/$16M contract, the Packers shocked everyone who thought that no FA in his right mind would play in Green Bay and the rest is history. Shortly after getting White other FAs like Sean Jones, Keith Jackson, and Andre Rison also signed- but it was the emergence of the draft picks that have been instrumental in the teams success until this day.

    Theo is fortunate and wise enough to have hired personnel like Hoyer and McLeod that have Ron Wolfs eye for talent. I know plenty of fans are losing patience with the Cubs approach but for me this is an extremely exciting time to be a fan... we're watching the emergence of a championship caliber team and climbing that mountain is most of the fun in getting to the top. Sign that one high profile FA like Tanaka and the whole outlook on the Cubs becomes much brighter.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    I used to like you. then you said you were a packers fan.

  • Personally, if he signs, great. It was what the FO pursued so I am fine with it. But, if he doesn't, I figure I can live with not risking so many millions on one arm....especially with the memory of Prior still so fresh.

  • I think Edwin Jackson will have a knockout year, that's my biggest prediction.

    To all of his haters, how many guys out there have his stuff? For the ones that do, how much is that going to cost you in money or talent?

    I think it was a good pickup, not too expensive, and I still think he will surpass or match the value of the deal. Worst case, he becomes a long guy or a late guy, but that arm has some value still and I anxious to see what he brings in 14.

  • I read today (Morosi?) that Ricketts wasn't the type of guy who likes to pay above market value to get somebody.

    At the same time, the Cubs are following a steady-as-she-goes progression of 100 loss season after 100 loss season.

    Outside of over paying, or someone who grew up a lifelong Cubs fan, how do you sign one of the great 2016 free agents by continuing to just point to the steady progress of prospects while offering at-market deals?

    Doesn't something have to give?

    I just don't see why the motivation for a Homer Bailey or someone like that should be there to sign with us in 2016 (if it isn't for Tanaka) if our season is no better this year than it has been for the last few.

    That's the biggest problem I have with the folks who continue to say if they can't be great they'd rather suck (to get a #1 draft pick). At some point, you have to show some progress for people to agree you have the ability to be great.

  • What is Plan B is a really important question, because no one knows what Tanaka (or his advisors) are thinking. And Plan B is one area where this front office has had some real problems (Sveum, mystery man Renteria instead of Girardi, etc.). The other issue I see is that trying to improve the MLB club and sticking to the plan are not mutually exclusive goals. You can provide a reasonably competitive (and watchable) MLB product and build the farm system up AT THE SAME TIME. So what would a reasonable Plan B be. I believe there is still a big gaping hole in LF, a good Plan B would be trading for one of the Dodgers' excess outfielders (since the team can take the hit financially), either Ethier or Adrian Gonzalez.

  • The stupidity of all the fans who Wittenmeyer is pandering to, that will be almost as disappointing as missing out. Because I know if the Cubs don't land Tanaka it won't be because they were outbid. It'll be because he wants to be with an instant contender and the Cubs aren't that. It would hard to blame him for that.

    But the idiots and their pied piper Wittenmeyer will be shouting "I told you so" until they finally do sign an impact free agent. Even if all the final bids actually come out, and it's revealed the Cubs offered the most money/years it won't matter to these idiots. It won't matter to our town's new Mariotto, Gordon Wittenmeyer.

  • If the Cubs don't sign Tanaka, it will be that much harder for teams to extend potential FAs like Scherzer or Bailey, who will see the Cubs as big buyers for TOR starters after 2014. As far as the cost of not signing Tanaka, it will mean losing compensatory draft picks for a big FA TOR signing (and Tanaka-type $$$) or losing top prospects in a trade for a TOR or two. In other words, not good, but not the end of the world as far as being seriously competitive by 2016.

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