Hope For The Holidays

holidays

Merry Christmas, Denizens, and Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever else you may or may not choose to celebrate this time of year. I've been leaning towards Festivus, myself. The original concept of this quasi-holiday seems to embody my beliefs. I've done my rendition of the Airing of Grievances with my last few posts, and am somewhat nervously awaiting the outcome of the Feats of Strength that apparently is currently being waged within our organization. I shudder to anticipate what Festivus Miracles await.

This offseason hasn't kicked off as most of us had hoped. It is becoming more and more clear that we are "re-evaluating", and the much-anticipated voyage to our Christmas stocking may yield more carbon than diamond. I've come to accept this new reality, and choose to try to focus on the positive. At the very least we have stopped the bleeding and are positioning ourselves for an extended run, rather than a dramatic crash. I guess that's hope, and it's about all I have right now.

I do have one Christmas proposal that is non-negotiable in my mind: don't take away my Javy. When we were children we sang of wanting two front teeth. We saw the loss but knew of the greater things to come. Now that we've aged, those two front teeth are gone forever. I'd like to keep what I have, thank you very much.

I'm not going to dwell on the pieces we trade away, but focus on the value brought back. I'll refrain from cussing the lost opportunity and anticipate the glory days to come. I will forever cherish the joy we have been given, and thank those who brought it to us. I can only envision an even brighter future after this bump in the road.

This community that John Arguello created has brought me great joy, even salvation, over the years. I will forever be grateful to Mr. Arguello for making me a better Cubs fan, and a better person. He taught me more than just baseball.

Like everything in life, change happens. We've followed the progress from laughingstock to an up-and-coming team to a Championship. It has been an incredible journey, and one I am not willing to give up just yet.

The writers here at Cubs Den have come and gone. One thing has remained consistent: we all love our team. Good times and bad, we bare our souls through this incredible community John created. On this holiday season, we thought it appropriate to share some messages of hope and to hear yours. We've always been in this together, and here is to the hope that continues for many successful years to come.

And, of course, lyrics:

"Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune.
Something to make us all happy.
Do anything take us out of this gloom.
Sing a song, play guitar
Make it snappy. "

GO CUBS!!

Perhaps it is easier for me to remain positive as a Cubs fan than it is for others given my focus on the Minor Leagues. Part of the mindset necessary for studying prospects is to keep the future and not the present in mind. To project. To envision possible outcomes. Sure, I see the negative, but the positive is always in sight as well.

Given that point of view, and given the talent of the Cubs core, it is easy for me to see multiple pathways to a turnaround that doesn't require a major shakeup, but rather a reworking of the roster fringes. I also realize nearly every team during every season receives positive contributions from unpredictable sources. Sometimes many. And sometimes it is enough to push a team beyond what most envision for them.

Sometimes it is comes from a much maligned player turning their career and fan opinion of them around. Sometimes it is a midseason acquisition which plugs a hole at an opportune time. For instance the 2016 champs were struggling with an unbalanced lineup after what appeared to be a season ending knee injury to Kyle Schwarber (Spoiler Warning: IT WASN'T).

Chris Coghlan didn't even appear to be a viable Major League bench player at the time. He had been one of the worst players in the league for Oakland over the 1st half (hitting a sub-Descalso .146/.215/.272 in 51 games), but he quickly rediscovered his game and became a solid platoon starter for the Cubs the rest of the year (.252/.391/.388).

No one saw that solution coming. Few predicted the impact the move would have. Many railed against the move when it occurred.

The Cubs will need a similar out-of-nowhere contribution this year to push them out of the doldrums. Maybe it will come from someone already on the roster, maybe from someone in the system, or maybe it will be from a player acquired in a move still to come.

The mystery is part of the fun. And discovering the answers as each season progresses is one of the reasons baseball retains a hold over me and so many others. Despite all the stats, all the projections available, it is still a game built around outcomes of a moving ball striking a moving semi-cylindrical bat. Minute adjustments by players, inconsistencies in materials used to construct both ball and bat, the weather... a million things or more: The game, and the successes or failures of those who play it, will always remain a surprise.

--Michael Ernst

 

While most focus on baseball from the top-down during the off-season, it is important to note that the Cubs are solid and improving from the bottom-up.

Free agent signings, trades, and club finances grab the headlines, but no Cubs fan should ignore how important the hiring Pitching Coordinator Craig Breslow, Hitting Coordinator Justin Stone, Minor League Pitching Coordinator Casey Jacobson, and Hitting Lab Technician and Rookie League Hitting Coach Rachel Folden can become.

Last season saw a resurgence of talent from the lower half of the Cubs minor league system, including the meteoric rise of pitchers Brailyn Marquez and Jack Patterson. Hitters such are Brennen Davis, Pedro Martinez, Christopher Morel, Cole Roederer, Nelson Velazquez, and Andy Weber have joined  Marquez and Patterson along with pitchers Kohl Franklin and Riley Thompson to comprise the "first wave" of new talent. The "next wave" saw the draft adding pitcher Ryan Jensen and Mike McAvene to Richard Gallardo along with Benjamin and Luis Rodriguez. Chase Strumpf and Ethan Hearn joined hitting prospects Flemin Bautista, Nestor Heredia, Rafael Morel, Ezequiel Pagan, Fabian Pertuz, Yohendrick Pinango, and Luis Verdugo.

The Cubs already have state-of-the-art training facilities in the Dominican Republic and Mesa. They go along with the Phil Knight financed/University of Oregon facilities in Eugene as well as the advanced facilities in South Bend. They have exciting young players. Now, they have the staff in place to get the most out of each to further supply the parent club.

--Tom U

 

When BP came up with the idea to do a fun, positive group post for the holidays I thought it was a great idea, but I also had no idea what I wanted to write about. This past season didn't leave me feeling the best for a lot of reasons, and the Carolina Panthers didn't do much to give me a happy football season, either.

Then I realized I had to write about the most on-brand thing of all for me: 2020 WILL BE THE YEAR OF DILLON MAPLES!

Yes, I say that every season. One of these seasons, I'm going to be right.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I am an avid fan of Maples. Control issues? Fastball? What? Never heard of her. This is a positive post. He has the highest spin rate in the majors (average of 3,024 rpm compared to the league average of 2,424 rpm) and a slider that'll make your momma tell you to run to church because it's so filthy. He also has an incredible mustache, when he so chooses to sport it.

He hasn't had consistent playing time in the majors, and I think that's what he needs in order to fully figgurit out. And he will. I'm speaking it into existence, like in The Secret (I think, I don't really know, I never read that book). He has all the potential in the world and amazing raw talent, and this season he's going to harness it and become Megazord. MegaMaples.

Photo courtesy of Iowa Cubs/Dylan Heuer

Photo courtesy of Iowa Cubs/Dylan Heuer

And, God willing, we'll see the return of the greatest mustache on Earth.

--Danielle

 

Cubs baseball is a community that has brought much joy, fulfillment, camaraderie and happiness to my life. Even when the game itself wasn’t making me smile or the days when putting on my Cubs gear seemed like the bravest of tasks, I always knew I wasn’t alone, no matter my feelings. Over the past couple years, my how-and-why I consume and with whom I talk about baseball has changed tremendously. I have learned how to turn my experiences and years consuming Cubs baseball into something that people appreciate. I am also extremely grateful for the support and love from the knowledgeable and talented Cubs social media folks I have surrounded myself with whether in person or online. 

This holiday season, the Cubs have not responded to my wish list (I mean it's easy, Nicholas Castellanos, a starting pitcher, a center fielder who can lead off and an everyday second baseman who mirrors Javy). I continue to wait for any one of those 'presents' to arrive. I am choosing positivity this year and I am figuring out ways to re-gift, if you will.

So join me, and instead of focusing on the 'should be’, focus on the 'we did'. Focus on the 'we got to cheer for that' and the 'that happened' instead of the ‘do something’ and ‘sign somebody’. Baseball is such a gift for those that appreciate it and celebrate it. I have made many friends because of baseball. People I'll keep forever. When I walk into Wrigley Field I relive all the memories triggered by each sight, sound and smell. Seems to me I have a lot to be thankful for at the hands of a sport and a team that I love. So this holiday season, know that I appreciate every single person in my baseball world, and I wish you all happiness, health and prosperity. You all are the reason this 'just a girl who loves baseball'......smiles (that and a good ole Cubs win).

--Andi

 

Things have been doom and gloom all off-season for the Cubs, but when thinking of something positive to write for this piece my mind kept coming back to one thing: We are watching some of the greatest players in the history of the Chicago National League Ball Club.

Anthony Rizzo, the run producing, gold glove winning, and most importantly emotional leader of the team. The magic man Javier Bàez, who combines light-tower power and dazzling defense with a flair for the dramatic. Kris Bryant, who has more than lived up to the hype that preceded his debut, winning Rookie of the Year and an MVP award.

Beyond those big three, there are other truly all-time Cubs currently playing. Jon Lester may well be the greatest free-agent signing in team history. Kyle Hendricks has had about as good of a start to his career as any Chicago hurler in 50 years. The potential still exists for Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber to ascend to similar heights. No Cubs fans should ever become jaded about the wonderful players they have seen the last five years. Eras like this don't come around very often.

--Sean

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  • Happy Holidays to all.

    I feel like I am stuck. This is Groundhog Day for me. For the 2nd straight year we are told about changes and yet there are none. Dumpster diving for relief pitching does not count either. I also do not count firing the manager as the change needed. The players are responsible for this 3 year slide. I get there is still probably 60-75 days until the Cubs are in camp, but I’m not sure anything is going to materialize which constitutes the meaningful change Theo spoke about and Ricketts wrote about to season ticket holders.

    We’ll see.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I share your frustration. The lack of roster improvement is bad enough, but the poor messaging to the fanbase rubs salt in our wounds.

    I will disagree about the changes. Sure, we focus on the on-field product, and that has been lacking. But in order to maintain sustained success an organization needs a top-flight management and development structure. That has also been lacking. Painful as it may be for those involved, the organization has seen a massive re-structuring in all aspects of scouting, drafting, and development. I'm hopeful this will lead to sustained success, despite this temporary bump in the road.

    We will see change to the ML roster prior to camp. Unfortunately, this will likely be in the form of subtractions. I'd actually be surprised at this point if KB is with us next season, and depending on the payroll cuts deemed necessary, we may have a Q-sized hole in our rotation. At least they have finally come to the realization, voluntarily or not, that the status quo isn't working. We'd like more than a short window of contention.

    I think we aim to reset our payroll penalties for next offseason and hope for the best in 2020. Putting all these puzzle pieces together, I'm getting closer to making a bold prediction about the management team that will really be assembling the "next phase" starting next offseason.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    If we are stuck in this payroll situation, then I say trade Bryant,Contreras & Quintana at the deadline (as long as we can get a good deal for them). Highly unlikely Bryant will resign anyway. All we would really need to find is a solid replacement for Bryant, and I think we would be as good as we would have been anyway. This would give us a legitimate look at Mills, Rea, Alzolay & Chatwood as replacements or trade pieces. After we see how Marquez does this year it would give us a real sense of our rotation going into 2021. But the key will be finding production at 3rd base.

  • Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year to all.

    Thankful for my Cubs fandom and this site. Cannot wait to be in Wrigley for Opening Day, it just seems like it is a thousand days away right now.

  • I can identify with all the above and rbrucato as well, because I'm all Cubs all year long. Thoughts and ideas come and go. The Cubs and baseball are my side dish and provide my respite from the sometimes difficult, sometimes easy thing called life. Merry Christmas Denizens!

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    What a great idea and column for the end of the year. I love all the writers here and each brings up good points. When I was reading about Maples' spin rate I immediately thought of Ted Williams and how he could see the seams of the baseball as it took less than .5 seconds to get to him--he might be still spinning watching all that spinning!
    I follow the minor leaguers and always have, and for most of my life the promise of a minor leaguer was better than we had on the field. I remember when the draft was held and MLB wouldn't release the names for a week; I had to go and read every paper I could to see who the Cubs drafted.
    As much as we're down on this team we're seeing some of the best players as a team in a 100 years, and yes, we do have problems, but we could still win 90 games this year without additions, and we could be the Bears or the Bulls. Think about it. Our FO knows what to do, has already done a lot and I have faith that it will.
    To everyone, whatever you celebrate, let's have a Happy New Year and a celebration in Grant Park next November.
    Thank you Cubs Den, and thank you John Arguello so much.

  • My fellow Denizens, let me take a moment to wish each of you a safe happy holiday. I don't always agree with you but do respect your opinions. Many thanks to John Arguello for this community that he created. I have read a lot of frustration on this site over the last couple years and do understand it but I have to say that I look at it from a different perspective than many of you who are younger than I.
    I can remember the wonderful teams of the late 60's and early 80's who brought us to the brink of greatness and let it slip away. Those memories made the team of the last 5 or 6 years and that glorious day in 2016 mean so much to me and my family and friends. Please take a minute to reflect on the honor that each of you have to be a fan of the greatest team in baseball, with the best ball park and greatest fans in the world. No matter how frustrating it may get, it could be worse, you might have been born in Missouri.

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    First of all, I wish everyone a very wonderful and safe Holiday Season. I would also like to say I pretty much agree with what cubbybear7753 has said here.

    In addition I would like to add that even though we finished 3rd last season, we still had an above 500 record and was in the running to win the division until the last month or two. I feel the injuries played a big part in our failures especially noting that our team's injuries included many of our top players.

    And finally, I agree we did not draft or produce any pitching in these past years but, thanks to our FO drafts, we won our only World Series in the past 108 years and have been pretty successful for the past 5 years. If our FO had done anything different, would we have been so successful? I doubt it very much. In short, I do not think it will take much to re-group and maintain our previous successes.

  • If Tom is right that the strength of the Cubs farm system is at the lower ends, that could bolster the idea of trading now from the Major League team to build another long-range window. Also, based on the rapidly moving free agent market this offseason (particularly starting pitching) it seems like a lot of teams are in go-for-it mode. That could create good trade opportunities for the Cubs. Sometimes a field needs to be left fallow for a season so it can rejuvenate.

    Happy Holidays everyone!

  • I miss the CCO but have found a solid option in Cubs Den. Visit almost daily since the off season began. Great article above and looking forward to more Hope.
    Glad to see Tom updating the minor leagues here. I don't know nearly as much about our prospects as I did when Tom was covering with the CCO before the last couple of years. Nice getting educated again.

    Happy Holidays,
    Varmit

  • In reply to Varmit County:

    Varmit, glad to hear from you again! I am grateful that you found me again.

    We have some great coverage of the minors here with Michael and Stephanie. Welcome!

  • 2019 Washington Nationals -
    26.0 cumulative WAR on offense, 22.2 WAR pitching
    (Rendon was 7.0 WAR alone, yikes !!!)

    2019 Chicago Cubs -
    25.0 cumulative WAR on offense, 17.0 WAR pitching
    (IFF you subtract Almora and Descalso's AB -1.5 WAR with replacement level, we have a higher offensive WAR)

    This team still has a championship level offense w/ average pitching. The organization's inability to draft/develop pitchers who contribute on the MLB level is squarely why we can't compete.

    Merry Xmas to all.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    Thanks for the stats, LAX, that is certainly one way of looking at the season. That's how I see the season and why the drop to mediocrity occurred.

    There was a general sloppiness in both defense and base running last season, which I think Ross can help to rectify in the next season. But it was the pitching that sunk this team. In the first half of the season, the BP gave away a lot of wins. But the main culprits were either jettisoned or demoted to less critical roles, and the new RPs stepped up big in the second half. so eventually this unit was solid again. Unfortunately, the starting rotation completely tanked (the lone exception being Darvish) in the last two months of the season. If Hendricks could have pitched better on the road, he would have also been a real benefit to the team, but I include him in the group that tanked the season in the pennant chase.

    So to me, it just comes down to these starters. If this can be fixed, if they can be top 10 level again, this team will be good again with the current roster. So maybe that shiny "gift" from Santa this year will not be KB or Willson being sent elsewhere. Maybe it will be a few shrewd moves to bolster the starters, and add a few BP pieces. That may be the best gift this team needs.

  • Merry Christmas to you all, ladies and gentlemen. Odds are, a couple of us have to be considered gentlemen. ( if the term is applied loosely -LOL). Have a great holiday season, I’m headed to Alabama, will be my first Christmas Day, in a warm weather state.
    Baseball wise, once Manfred gets around to finalizing the KB contract status, I look for “a flurry of activity “ before the beginning of spring training.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I remember my first non-Chicago Christmas, my freshman year of college in Houston. 75° and sunny. Spent the day playing frisbee and chasing my landlord's horses.

    I know they have horses and frisbees in Alabama, cubbustible. Find some, and don't let me down. :)

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Update: We hit a balmy 65° here in Chicago this Christmas day, arguably matching the warmest Christmas ever from 1982. Of course, in 1983, we set a record low of -17°.

    The roller-coaster ride continues.

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Barley

    I live in the Lone Star State and have since 1978.

    I remember those Christmas days in 82 and 83. I was back in Chicago for both of them. I had my new bride with me on both of those trips and needless to say she was very confused by the Chicago weather at Christmas time.

    I hope that you had a safe and happy holiday.

    Onward!

  • Happy holidays all you Cubs fans...

    The Cubs will win plenty in 2020!!!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Ernie would approve.

  • Nice post Barley, et al. That's what I've been missing. The spiral into doom and gloom is a vacuum.

    I have read but mostly not taken seriously the trade KB stuff. Until I saw a post from Sharma saying he believes KB is a goner after Donaldson signs. We'll see, I'm still skeptical. I really want to see KB, Javy, Nico, and Rizz across the infield together later next summer.

    Que sera sera.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Thanks, I guess? I've been saying that KB is gone (as much as I hate it), but now that you hear it from Sharma...

    And I want to say thanks to Michael. He took the time to put this together.

  • Well Santa didn't leave me Gerrit Cole on the Cubs Staff, or even Nick Castellanos, so for 2020 I'm hoping Theo doesn't empty out the farm system on his way out of town. 2 years left on his contract and he must have been on Tom Ricketts' naughty list, 'cause Tom gave him nothing not even a lump of (gerrit) coal.

    I really don't see Theo sticking around for the last year of his contract. There is no way to rebuild in time for 2021, and I can't see him making great trades only to pass them off to the next GM. Even this off season, he has little motivation to do anything inspired, as he will not be around to reap the rewards. The danger now is him trading away long term assets just to save face for a year.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Wise observations, Oneear. I've been hinting at a bold prediction, and I'm ready to make it now: I think this is Theo's last year.

    The latest reports have Japanese CF Shogo Akiyama going to the Reds, or possibly the Padres, for something like 2y/$10M. We need a CF, and a lead-off man, and we can't afford this paltry salary until we dump loads more.

    This ain't the Ricketts being cheap. This is a complete lack of confidence between layers of ownership and management. We are paralyzed, and we are stuck. There is no way, IMO, that this ownership team allows this FO to guide us into the future. The entire management structure was gutted, and not at Theo's request. I think the Cubs didn't want to tear it all down on the eve of a new TV deal.

    I'm actually writing a feature piece on this topic right now. Give me a day, I'm sick and slow.

    Happy New Year!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I guess a truly bold prediction would be that Theo is ready to resign. I won't go that far, and it would surprise but not shock me if he did. It is closer than you think.

    As Henry Hill said in "Goodfellas":

    "This is the bad time."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Is being sick and slow a disclaimer for those of us that rad that post? : )

  • If Theo leaves in the next couple seasons. Wouldn't the Cubs just promote Jed Hoyer to president of baseball operations?

    If the Cubs don't wheel, and deal from the core, this offseason/season. Won't the Cubs just be in the same boat after the 2020 season? Core players arbitration raises eating up most of the expiring contracts dollars.

  • Wow... the "doom and gloom" here is getting ridiculous. I guess the old saying "misery loves company" is very true. believe me, it is nowhere as bad as some of you think.

    Did any of you read the article "Here are the 10 best farm systems of the decade" just recently published? The decade it is talking about is from 2010 through 2019. The Cubs farm system led mostly by Theo's group is ranked number 4 right behind the Red Sox farm which was also somewhat led by Theo's group and includes the remaining effects after he left. You guys seem to rely so much on sabremetrics and stats from the past, what does Theo's past show you? It surely isn't what you guys are alluding to.

    By the way, how many of you were wishing and hoping the Cubs had picked up Bryce Harper and/or Machado? What would that have done to the Cubs finances?

    As I just previously stated, there were many different things that caused the Cubs failures last season, not just one or two. KB, Rizzo, Baez, Willson were all playing or sitting out in the last 1 - 2 months. The Cubs were missing their top 4 position players from playing at 100% at the same time. Some were even sitting out injured at the same time. This, alone, would cripple any ball club especially at the very end of the season. The Cubs even had a "merry-go-round" of pitchers, both starters and relief pitchers, throughout the season.

    BTW, Theo has been very successful wherever he has been. Do any of you actually think he would purposely or even unconsciously do anything to tarnish his reputation?

    All I can say is: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying. They graduated & used a lot of their farm system in trades. Heck, Richan & Lange brought us Castellanos, Vosler brought us Wick. Sure they haven’t proven that they can develop pitching, but I also think they’re afraid to go through some of the growing pains with it as well. They bounce some of them up & down so much or don’t even barely try them. They sign some border line retreads when they could/should have tried some of their own guys or the ones they traded for. Mills, Underwood, Norwood, Maples could have just been brought up out of spring.

    Alzolay is a guy I’m hoping they bring up & let him have a bad start or 2 & let him figure it out. As the 5th starter, they can let him, even in this so called “window”. There was a Cub in 1986 that was 2-4, 5.52 era, 3.2 Bb/9 & a 1.77 whip. The following year he was 6-14, 5.66 era, 4.3 Bb/9 & a 1.66 whip. After that he went on to have a “fine” career. Corey Abbott & Marquez are 2 more getting close.

    I think a new set of eyes in the dugout now, amongst the host of other changes that Tom U pointed out, I believe that Theo & crew can get the ship heading in the right direction again. Even with a “step back year” (if that’s what this is being called). Guys that were drafted the last 2 years are already or about to be top prospects... Hoerner (is), Brennan Davis (darn near), Strumpf, Jensen, McAvene, Franklin, R. Thompson. As well as Abbott, Miller, Amaya, Alzolay & Marquez from previous drafts & IFA signings who are close (this or next season) to being called up. Some of those are or will be top 100 MLB/BA/BP.

    There’s my positive outlook on this. And I hope that it’s Theo to see it through.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I agree with you and would like to add that the Cubs record shows that it is time to make some changes but it is not as bleak as we seem to make it. I am as frustrated as anyone but we need to realize that once you reach the TOP, unfortunately you have nowhere to go but down and our downward slide is not as drastic as it may seem.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Pitching, Clark, we have no pitching. We have no pitching in the minors. Maybe Yu wins a Cy Young and Hendricks makes the all-star team, a long shot, very long; but barring some such miracle, Cubs are going to give up a lot of runs this year.

    And the blame falls on Theo. His philosophy of drafting the tallest and hardest throwing college grads in the 3rd round didn't work, and he was slow to adjust. He emptied out the great position players from what was a great farm system trying to compensate. It did bring us the 2016, but left us depleted in 2020.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Pitching does seem to be a problem. However, I think we have more pitching in the minors than most of us realize. However, think about it, most of all the other teams are having similar problems with their young pitchers. The teams that have the best pitching staffs are the ones with the older, proven successful pitchers that they have gotten through trades. For this reason, Theo has gone after the position players in the draft instead.

    Let's look at some of the teams that drafted pitchers first like the White Sox or the Mets. Where has that gotten them? Besides, our pitching has not been as bad as it seems. How many games did the Cubs lose because they couldn't score more than 1 or 2 runs?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    True, the Cubs had trouble scoring and holding leads in tight ballgames.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    This last season and a half in particular - the biggest problem IMO was inconsistency in getting runs. Feast or famine - and an over-reliance on home runs, and too many guys not getting on base consistently. A starting pitcher would either seem to find himself sitting on top of a 4-5 run lead, or throwing a decent game and finding his team unable to score him more than a run or two.

    Most of last season the Starting pitching wasn't a big problem. It was that all-or-nothing offense, and a bullpen missing Morrow, the old version of Strop not being there most of the season, and Kimbrel not being his usual self.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Well said and I agree.

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    I don't see how the Cubs are cheap as some have suggested, mainly because they want the Cubs to spend more than they have already.
    The problem is not that they won't spend money but who they spend the money on. John Lester was a great signing and has paid it back over and over, but Yu and Chatwood and Heyward--although he's been worth it for the GG and the speech. And that the FO has not drafted pitchers and the ones they did they couldn't develop. If Theo had drafted one or two or three that did well then we wouldn't have had to sign Yu and Chatwood and Hamels.
    I'm glad new FO people are coming in and hopefully they can spot and develop elite players.
    Happy New Year Denizens!!

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think a lot of the blame has to be Theo's, his unwavering ego to draft hitters all the time early has left the cubs farm bare in high ceiling arms to stock the minors,only recently he started taking some pitchers earlier in the draft, although they haven't been the high upside he could have taken, they are better than the past.
    The cubs biggest failure was after drafting Schwarber, the next few drafts should have been high ceiling arms, and I will add they should have been HS arms,I know there is some concern there,but the rewards are if you can even get one top arm in each draft, some will last, you can't get em if you don't draft em, and I don't want anubody saying you can get them in trades or free agency, see what prices pitchers bring in trades and convince me of your logic...

  • In reply to tater:

    Seems to me the prices for pitching are so high because it is so hard & time consuming to produce the top quality pitching in the minors that so many teams are looking for.

    BTW, very few of the top quality pitchers today are coming up directly from the minors. Instead, they are the more MLB experienced pitchers that are making the most money. Thanks to Theo's "unwavering ego to draft hitters", we have been so successful during his reign including the WS Champs.

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    In reply to clarkAddson:

    Name the hits from our draft since Schwarber,and remember most of our hits were when we were drafting earlier in the draft,after Happ's draft we were woeful in the draft...

  • In reply to tater:

    The Cubs' draft strategy is just that, it has nothing to do with ego. While the strategy hasn't not played out quite like everyone had hoped, it did bring Chapman (success) and Quintana (less successful).

    As Clark suggests, rather than just lobbing bombs take a look at other teams see how many of the producing player were drafted in that last five years.

    And where did the major starting rotation pieces in the two World Series teams come from? Strasburg is the only one drafted by the team. Free Agents and trades... but mostly free agent signings.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Exactly. I have as much frustration as anyone but if you stop and do a deep "reality check", the Cub's situation isn't all that bad and can easily be among the top teams with a few changes. It is very easy, as a fan, to want your team to be perfect but that will never happen.

  • In response to your post: Gleybar, Eloy, Soler, and so on. Better yet, you name some of the teams that have drafted pitching first and then look at their results. Are they better than the Cubs in the past 6 to 7 years? Don't forget to take into consideration that Theo had to perform a complete rebuild in that same amount of time.

    Teams aren't just made up of their own drafted prospects. Even The Yankees and the Dodgers have not done as good as the Cubs during Theo's reign even though they continue to produce the so-called best teams that money can buy.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    This reply was directed to Tater.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to clarkAddson:

    You just named al IFA's not draft picks,so what's your point.
    The cubs are in this predicament with the payroll because we have Bryant,Baez,Schwarber, Contrares and Rizzo all due money in the next 2 or three years, which conservatively will be around 105-125M, for just these players, not counting Heyward@20M,Darvish@21M,and others.
    Point being we have 145-165M tied up needing a bullpen and 5 more starting pitchers plus 8 more position players to add, which is addding 17 players for around 75M,not gonna happen.

  • In reply to tater:

    But the Cubs are in this “predicament” because they drafted good players. The front office has always known this day would come. They’ve always known they couldn’t afford to sign all of Bryant, Báez, Schwarber & Rizzo after ‘21 and Contreras after ‘22. Which is why they’ve added guys like Darvish, Hamels & Castellanos to that core trying to win another championship. It hasn’t worked out like all of us have wanted. If the team had won another and/ or shown they were still close to winning again, the trade talks for Bryant & Contreras wouldn’t be happening. The front office would just ride out the next 2 years trying to win knowing they would lose a few of those guys just for a draft pick.
    Now, their decision is trade a Bryant and or Contreras knowing it will hurt next years team chances but improve the future, or keep them all hoping they can improve their performance. Not an easy decision

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Nicely done. I do not get the disdain for the front office and what they have accomplished since arriving on the North Side. I hope they are with the Cubs for many years to come.

  • In reply to Varmit County:

    Thank you Varmit... I agree 100%.

    I do understand the frustration of the Cubs fans, especially lately, due to watching the games and the lack of "urgency" shown throughout the season but there are a lot more reasons for our ineffectiveness. As with everything else, the reason for our down-slide is much more complex than just blaming it on one or even a few reasons. Maintaining success is very hard to do in our ever changing society.

  • I don’t know if we have the chips for it, but what about Starlin Marte? He’s on the block, plays center, hits and runs.

  • In reply to good4you:

    I’ve looked at this before too and like the idea. He is signed thru 2020 with team option for 2021 season. I think the price would be relatively low in terms of prospects. The only draw back would be if pirates want to trade within division.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I think our windows of contention are so different that it shouldn’t effect a deal.

  • I see the "doom and gloom" comments, and the pushback against them. The original intent of this holiday post was to remain optimistic. Even I couldn't adhere.

    I'm as optimistic as they come. We have a decent team, even after the eventual dump of KB and possibly Quintana. The Central is there for the taking, and we should be in the mix.

    As optimistic as I am, I am also a realist. I am a fan who screams "Go Cubs!" at every opportunity, and never gives up. We can do this. But I am able to set aside my feelings and desires to take in a broader view of the situation. I try to digest as much credible information as I can, and occasionally put on my tin-foil hat. There is no doubt in my mind the relationship between management and ownership is strained. To what extent I don't know. But we are a franchise in limbo, and that's never a good place to be.

    We will attempt to compete in a weak NL Central, maybe, in 2020. Maybe not. We will have a decent roster, or not. We could add complimentary pieces but will likely strip away the core. Read into this whatever you will, but when I look at the big picture I don't see a thriving franchise. I see one in turmoil. I see a FO that is shaken and not on top of it's game. I see an ownership group that once offered free reign that is now pulling the emergency brake.

    Joe Maddon is a Cubs legend, and he slowly was led off the plank. All the signs were there, if we chose to pay attention. I see a similar story playing out here. Follow the signs, even if you don't care to witness the conclusion. It is becoming more obvious to me every day.

    I will root for the Cubs to win every single game in 2020, I have no choice. It's in my DNA. But I'm not oblivious to the story unfolding directly in front of my face.

    GO CUBS!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    No one that I know of is saying that it is all "peaches and cream" but some of us don't think it is as dire as some seem to think. We all have our opinions.

    FYI, I always thought you were a very optimistic Cubs fan and have respected most of your posts, but that doesn't seem to be the case now and I am sure you have your reasons.

    Since you brought up Joe, I want to say I agree he is a Cub legend. He was definitely the right Coach at the right time and is always a "class act". However, I think the very attributes that make him such a good coach is also one of the very reasons the Cubs were losing some of their competitiveness. He was always trying to be a positive influence to all the players but sometimes they need a "kick in the pants" which he was not so good at. In addition, although it is nice to have players able to play multiple positions, I feel he went overboard with his "musical chairs" lineups by changing the lineup around everyday without taking into account "who was hot and who was in a slump". How many times have we heard the saying "chill, its a long season and we have been through these mini slumps before, etc". Well, I believe we chilled too many times and it finally caught up to us. If we don't play our best lineups every day then we are losing our competitiveness. If we want to keep some players fresh to play multiple positions, fine, but only insert one or two per game and not change half the lineup regularly as we were doing. And last but not least, Joe's relaxed attitude towards his young players created a sort of "Country Club atmosphere" as opposed to the killer instinct needed when you have the opposing team down.

    I do not like or even want to say anything negative about Joe and I am only being realistic as you would say. Again, Joe is a legend and deserves all the accolades he has gotten but he is not perfect. As I said previously, when you hit the top you have nowhere to go but down. Unfortunately, I feel our young players misinterpreted some of Joe's guidance and therefore lost their competitiveness throughout the season, and then came all the injuries.

    As I previously stated, there are many reasons for the Cubs downslide and these are just some of them. And YES, Joe is a legend and arguably the very best Manager the Cubs have ever had!

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Don’t you think it is fair to believe this team is not in good shape? Wouldn’t the last 3 years say we just aren’t that good?

    You don’t want to be negative, but in the same breath say you are being realistic. Isn’t it realistic to believe there are issues with this team and it’s roster construction?

    I think any posts about “doom and gloom” fall into a realistic category. I don’t see any that say we are destined for 5th place and 60 wins. I see it both ways, but am concerned as I have said for a few years now that CF, RF, and 2B were offensive black holes that need to be solved. We will see the same offense that has destroyed the last 3 seasons if those spots are not addressed.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I think it is fair to think the Cubs need to perform better than they have in the last 2 years but to say they "just aren’t that good" is really stretching it. Since winning the WS in 2016, they have won 92, 95 and 84 games (in that order). I think I am being realistic when I say that is pretty damn good. How many other teams can boast a better record for the past 3 years?

    I agree there are issues that certainly need to be resolved but you can say that about any team. If I am being realistic, I could care less if anyone chooses the "doom and gloom" category if thats what makes them feel better. I am only offering other ways to look at our situation realistically and in so doing, the Cubs outlook then seems to be far from the "Doom and Gloom" category as some would think.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I like your post here concerning Joe. Especially, in 2019, Maddon needed to hold ballplayers accountable. He did not. It was almost as if he didn't care. I understand that the front office and the players bear much of the blame, but the manager's job, as the last stop before taking the field, is to take responsibility for what is. Joe was the right man for that role until h wasn't.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Thank you, clarkAddson, for that response. That's why I love Cubs Den.

    My optimism has waned, but never the love for my team. GO CUBS!

    I understand the cycles of competitiveness, I just don't see them applying here. I see mismanagement. We shouldn't be at this point, in this competitive window, and contemplating selling KB for salary relief. Something has gone seriously wrong.

    I love Joe, always have, and I never was among the "fire Joe" crowd. Until just before the AS break. I had seen enough, and reality hit me square in the face. I realized this wasn't working, and wasn't going to. Above all else I am a Cubs fan, and the writing was on the wall.

    I don't want to get to into it here and give away all my material for my next post, but I just feel we are at a crossroads. I feel there is disconnect between management and ownership, and we are paralyzed. We shouldn't be. A healthy organization shouldn't be. But we are. Look at what is happening.

    All I'm trying to do is predict the future. It's probably a fool's errand, but I'm game.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Are you implying that there is some issue that the public isn’t aware of that is causing serious issues in the FO and thus holding this team back?

    If so, are those opinions based off of what you are reading or is there some fact(s) behind this?

    Curious as to what you mean.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yes and no. How's that for a definitive answer? :)

    My opinion is based mainly on simply following the sequence of events. We have been in a downward spiral, and this offseason is a mess. I have heard things over the past year+ that are not public, mainly that the changes that are being made within the scouting/drafting/development areas are not exactly Theo's doing. He's making the calls, but this isn't his preferred path to end his legacy here. I'll say again I have no high-placed inside sources, but everything I do have has panned out so far. We talk.

    I plan on expanding these thoughts very soon, I've just been sick and got a bunch of other stuff going on. Coming soon...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I’m probably 180 from your view. I see an exceptionally well run organization. They built a team and won a World Series. They made moves to try and win another. Unfortunately, those moves didn’t work out as well as hoped, but the moves mostly made sense. Now it looks like they are recognizing that the window has closed, they don’t have a championship-caliber roster, and they are going to take steps to build a new winning team. Such is the cycle of sports.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Eh, 180° or 360°. I don't disagree with the well-run organization, to a point. They started from scratch and brought us a Championship. Thank you! No one can take that away.

    I just disagree with the cycles and windows. I know they happen, but in this market they shouldn't be so extreme and the window shouldn't have slammed shut so abruptly. That is due to mismanagement, and it disappoints me. We shouldn't have these wild fluctuations. I thought we had moved past that. There is no reason to be where we're at except for mismanagement.

    I like to play games with my understanding of a situation, and that's all I'm doing here. I am fascinated by people who know more than I do, and I try to learn from these scenarios. I try to predict what will happen next to test my own knowledge and comprehension. With everything I can gather, I think there is division within the ranks, and it goes all the way to the top.

    If I'm right, I'll enjoy a drink and hope it gets fixed. If I'm wrong, I'll eat crow. I can't blame this as simply being a normal sports cycle. This window shouldn't have slammed shut. That's what disappoints me, and I entertain myself by trying to figure out what's next. I see a problem as I see it, and I share my thoughts, lumps and all.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    If the Cubs maintain a $200 million dollar payroll. While trading for younger less expensive players/prospects. This is a potential to be very unique situation for MLB baseball. It would be very exciting time to be working in the Cubs front office.

    I look at the positives:
    -Ownership wants to develop players, and seems willing to spend for amatuer scouting, and player development.
    - Cubs have more revenue than before, and seem to be able to have a $200 million payroll.
    -This front office built a dumpster fire, into a World Series winner! This front office has shown they can be aggressive. Trading away stars is very aggressive.- The MLB roster is good.
    -Minor leagues might lack star power. Cubs have depth, potential #5 starters, & relief pitchers.
    -Front office has a good track record with mid-season trades.

    I personally would like to see the Cubs double down on drafting more hitters earlier in the draft. Cubs have proven to me to be pretty good at scouting, and developing bats. Maybe the changes to player development might make them even better.

    The Cubs just have to buy, and trade for playoff caliber starting pitchers. The hardest thing to do in baseball is develop #1/2 starters. Focus on college bats, high school athletes, and pitching depth in the minors.

  • fb_avatar

    I was reading on Bleacher Nation that Shogo has narrowed his choices to the Reds or Padres. It's just speculation, but I haven't been reading his name connected to the Cubs for a while now. I think right now what's holding everything up (for the Cubs and others) is that KB's complaint hasn't been resolved. Once that is done then teams can decide what to do and the Cubs can see if they do want to trade him what's the best they can receive. Right now there's a report that the Cubs and Braves might get together and the Cubs want 3 of the 4 top prospects, excluding their top prospect Christian Pache. If the Cubs don't sign Shogo then they could get their CF and lead off man in a trade, and be younger and cheaper too.

  • What if...

    After the season, our starting 3B for the 2020 season was likely going to be David Bote or Ian Happ. But Theo and Jed went out and signed an MVP and All-Star to plug into the middle of the lineup and it only cost us 2 years at $20 million per.

    I think the acquisition of Kris Bryant to this team, albeit for only two years, makes the Cubs the odds on favorite to win the division and gives us a chance for a deep run.

    So my point of this little exercise is a matter or perspective. We would be really excited if we acquired KB to add to this team if in fact he was somewhere else before.

    Let’s not sleep on him and the impact he might be able to supply if healthy and on this team next year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    So what changes from the last two years ,we already know they underachieved for two years and now we just believe they will do a 180 and be excellent, our pitching has deteriorated in the last two years and it suddenly will get better?
    No, I think the best thing to do at this point is to move Bryant and Quintana and possibly Schwarber and get back some pitching prospects and maybe a prospective cf'er, sign Castellanos and have him take Schwarbs spot. would still like a trade for Merifield, even if it meant Hoerner going, I feel with the additions of some young pitching this year we would get their feet wet and maybe in 21 be ready to make a strong push, and 2nd base is probably our deepest position in the minors two years from now.

  • In reply to tater:

    What changed? David Ross so far.

  • In reply to tater:

    And who is to say they don’t turn it around? I prefer KB and Schwarber over Whit and Nick.

    We are weak at SP for sure and that needs to be addressed.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I think everyone would agree with you. The Cubs are much better a a favorite to win the division with Bryant.

    The part where some would disagree is Bryant is already ours and is likely to walk. So do you move him to acquire more players than just let him play out the two years and leave? IMO, he has to be moved because it is a smart baseball move to always be maximizing your assets. We will see how Theo plays this out.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    True enough, but it depends on the return.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The front office can't be to pleased with Bryant's grievance. It has already compromised our off season and could do so further. Right now we are sitting on 'the best trades are the ones not made' logic. It's not the players union finest moment, especially the timing and the way the grievance continues to drag on. I look for some backlash. It feels like extortion.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I can't help but agree. Every entity involved in this process is wise and powerful, and has their own agenda. We are getting screwed, and it feels like some sort of payback. "They" saw a wounded foe and pounced, or rather didn't, because the delay would inflict even greater damage.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Who is “they”? The Union? The League? Why would either have it out for the Cubs?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    This case has been sitting for years. All the parties involved are high leverage power brokers on both sides. It just so happens that the case is being dragged out now, right in the middle of a vulnerable offseason for the Cubs, and this outcome has us hamstrung. We all know this is screwing our entire offseason, and we're just fans. You don't think they know that, too? Do you think this is a random accident? All of the brightest minds in the highest levels of baseball negotiations accidentally dragging this case out to screw us over? Do they all say "Oopsie!".

    I don't think so. I think we are being punished. Not us fans, but our FO. Well, actually, yes, us Cubs fans for what our FO has done. And there is more where that came from.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yes, more where that came from. Remember back at the beginning of the rebuild, when we famously took advantage of "market inefficiencies"? How we got amateur players out of international markets that no one else could, and how some of those contracts were voided? Other teams remember as well.

    We have become a pariah. We're paying for it.

    We need new management. Think about where we were in 2015, and dreaming of 2020. All the core would be in their prime and we'd be at the height of our window. Look where we're at. We're selling off parts and have no continuity within our organization. Something went very, very wrong, and not overnight.

    That's grounds for termination.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    But who is punishing us? Are you saying that the other 29 owners have gotten together with agents and the MLB office to pull strings to make things go against the Cubs on this? Seems a little Area 51’ish to me.

    I think we all agree that the delay is killing the Cubs efforts right now. But things always move slowly in the MLB offices on any kind of ruling.

    And the Cubs could have the last laugh. What if this is dragged out so much the Cubs can’t do anything with KB. What happens? He is our starting 3B!

    Sacre Couer!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    The case hasn't been sitting for years.
    The Cubs just turned in their briefs on December 20th
    Cubs are not being punished.
    This is a key decision for both the players union and the owners
    Cubs could be making other moves besides a Bryant trade

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Wait, the hearing was in October. It took 4 years to happen. Try to keep up. ;)

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    It was also a smart baseball move that got us into this situation.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    What does this reply even mean?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You said it was a smart baseball move to trade KB. I am saying it was a smart baseball move that got cubs in this situation.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    What situation? Very vague reply.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The situation with KB. What you originally commented on.

  • You have collusion delusion.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Or attrition intuition?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    To reply to other comments, I have been keeping up since this grievance was filed in May of 2015. GMs, agents, and various other entities involved with MLB are very aware of of what is happening within other organizations. It's actually part of their job. Following a highly disappointing finish to 2019, the Cubs began to seriously reconsider the path going forward. For the first time, we began to seriously consider trading KB, and then the grievance reared it's head and dragged through the Winter Meetings and beyond. If you think that is totally coincidental, I don't know what to tell you.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Barley - I am obviously not smart enough to put the pieces together to understand what you are implying.

    Was the grievance filed in May of 2015 or October of 2019?

    And what do other teams or players have to do with the process being dragged out?Neither entity has any control over that and who is to say that it turns out bad for the Cubs?

    And what if a team covets KB but can’t get him right now because of the delay. It actually hurts their cause, right?

    I think I would like to see an article about you laying this out because clearly I am missing something.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I've stated that I expect the Cubs to take a step back and re-evaluate for 2020. I should take that advice myself. I'm dealing with some things and have allowed my usual optimistic self to go away. I'll try to do better.

    I brought up the timing of the KB grievance as further evidence that this is a very frustrating offseason. There are coordinated efforts within MLB that dish out punishment. The grievance being brought up now, in the very offseason that we are trying to move KB and his salary, is not accidental. This is an effort to hamstring our organization by those who don't approve of our past business practices. Many teams and executives are not fans of the way we have exploited past "market inefficiencies."

    I'm tiring myself from this negativity. Sorry to spread it.

  • I don't know that the grievance can be termed a conspiracy, but it wasn't handled in a timely way. Most likely to add weight to an agenda. Bryant/Boras sat on it for years and then needlessly the party's are dragging it out. Also, grieving on what grounds? If substance is found the rules in the players/owners agreement are not worth the paper that it was written on. Stuff like this is never good for the game, not just the Cubs. There will be a yet unknown backlash. Stay tuned baseball fans.

  • The Reds and Akiyama are in agreement on a three-year contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

    Cubs could finish in 4th place in 2020.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Now it's on to Plan B, or maybe C...He would have made a nice addition but 3yr/$20+M is high. With no more moves (and I highly doubt that) I see Nico at 2nd and Happ in CF.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    And they could finish in 1st. :-D

    Although disappointing that we chose not to spend on a CF, I don’t think Shogo is a game changer. Sure, he is a nice player. I don’t believe the Reds adding him makes us a 4th place team.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I think the Cubs could finish anywhere from 1st to 4th in the division.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Yep. Or 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Even 5th if we want to be really pessimistic

  • I still wonder if the Cubs will go after some late free agent signings, and hope for some bounce back seasons? Far from ideal, but still some interesting names still available who might help the Cubs win in 2020. The large market Cubs need to at least be buyers for some potential value, on 1 year deals, right?

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I think we want to reset our CBT penalties this coming season. We currently stand at around $215M, or about $7M above the minimum $208M lower threshold for 2020. In order to do this, I think KB is gone, and Quintana is on the edge. The Cubs have held around $10-$15M in mid-season "slush money" the last several years when we were contenders, but I don't know that will be the case this year.

    As we have seen, nothing is happening until we dump salary.

    I'm not a Ricketts parrot, but this situation is not being cheap, IMO. It stems from a lack of confidence. I cannot fathom the concept of ownership wanting to pocket a couple extra million at the expense of the greater product. We are entering the age of the new TV network with this core entering the prime of their baseball lives. The Ricketts would LOVE to be blowing out the payroll and rolling in the profits. But we need a good team. This is where the problem lies.

    There is absolutely no chance the business plan was to win a Championship, grow this core into it's prime, and on the eve of the launch of a monumental TV deal cut payroll and finish 4th. That's not good for business. Payroll could be at $300M. This is not the Ricketts being cheap. Those millions would compound themselves is successful.

    Something has gone very wrong, and we are paying the price.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I’ve read your takes BP. I don’t necessarily think you’re wrong, but I also see it as very possible the front office & ownership are on the exact same page. The front office has always known this day would come. They’ve always known they couldn’t afford to sign all of Bryant, Báez, Schwarber & Rizzo after ‘21 and Contreras after ‘22. And that is why they spent all the money & prospects they have over the past few seasons trying to win another. Ownership spent almost $250M last season after the Castellanos trade & Kimbrell signing. It hasn’t worked out like any of us have wanted. If the team had won another and/ or shown they were still close to winning again, I don’t think the trade talks for Bryant & Contreras would be happening. The front office would just ride out the next 2 years trying to win, knowing they would lose at least a couple of those guys in free agency for a draft pick. And ownership would happily spend above the luxury tax. But the team hasn’t developed like we wanted, and I’m sure the front office thought they would. So now, it seems, they’ve made the decision to reset the penalties on the luxury tax and try to rebuild the team through trades of some of their more valuable players. That is probably the smart move. It sucks for us as fans, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
    Again, you may be right about the split between the front office & ownership. I have no idea. But I hope I’m right and it’s a combined strategy between them

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Team don't really have $300 million dollar payrolls, we all know that will not happen.

    Teams have been over on the cap two seasons in a row. If Cubs offered only one year deals to free agents. That would guarantee they would be under for 2021 instead of 2020. They still could follow through with trading players away for prospects.

    I don't know if things have gone wrong. It could just be the nature of baseball. Cubs stopped developing minor leaguers to contribute, a few young major leaguers got worse or didn't improve.

    This is the start of a new cycle. Cubs are a third place team if managed right should become the crown jewel of the NL central. It all starts with developing impact talent, winning some trades, and buying/having three playoff caliber starting pitchers.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    The penalties are twofold.
    1 - the penalties and what it costs you in $’s. Yankees are likely to have to pay $40MM this year unless they are able to deal away some salaries. That is a ton of money whether you are the Yankees or the Royals.
    2- Penalty on draft picks. Yankees again are looking at dropping 10 spots in the draft because this is their 3rd (?) year in a row going over the limit. 10 spots isn’t a big deal but it is a big deal. Hard to sustain success when you are getting dinged in the draft like this.

    Mike has written numerous times about the strategy this FO has taken in the draft with regards to SP’s. They went with college aged, high floor, safe guys (i.e. Little and Lange). It didn’t work at all and has set back the organization in a big way.

    I too put no blame on Rickets. This is all on Theo and Jed and their poor philosophy and execution in the draft that has led the farm system to dry up. Fortunately, they changed that philosophy a couple years back and we are starting to see some TOR prospects in Eugene, South Bend and Tennessee. But it will take some time for them to get here.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    No matter which of these narratives is true--if any, that all point to really poor management from the top. And I mean the very the top, the Ricketts.

    You've been repeating your beliefs that the Rickettses have lost all faith in Theo Epstein, and thus won't let him spend any more money. If this is the case then Ricketts should have fired Epstien on the day after the season ended. To hypothetically go into an off season with an upper management team that can't be trusted to run a hundreds of million dollar product is asinine. Further, if a billionaire businessman is handcuffing his President of Baseball Operations by not allowing him to add new players to improve the team without trading away the best players to "free up money," what does it say? Epstein is under contract for two more seasons, are they going to go like this for two years? Finally, if the challenge given to Epstein is improve the team by lowering the payroll then it is a near impossible task and they are setting him up to fail. Basically creating a scapegoat.

    If Joe left Chicago with forever status as Cubs legend and hero--which he desreves! then Epstein deserves just as much. The Rickettses do not deserve these accolades. They are billionaires that bought a team, a stadium, a city block and did what developers do. They hired Epstein and gave him the chance to make history, and he did. If they think he has failed, then they should step up and fire him, not ride out the last two years of his "control" and then lay blame through subtle comments in the media. That is lame, chicken sh!t behavior.

  • Or you could go south for the winter and than flow chart the wall or maybe join a bowling league

  • fb_avatar

    Happy New Year to all the community here on Cubs Den. Whether we agree or not, we share a common love of the Cubs.
    Let's have a great 2020!!
    Go Cubs!!

  • So right now it looks like CF will be Almora, Happ and Heyward. Still no lead off guy? I guess Rizzo or Bryant will be best bet to lead off. Also looks like 5th starter will be Alzolay unless he implodes in spring training then it will be Mills. My biggest concern is bull pen. I like Wick and Norwood along with other young guys like Underwood and Maples and Weick. For the Cubs to compete they will need at least 2 more quality relievers.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Tony Kemp would be my choice for first crack at leadoff against RHPs right now. Not ideal but at least can run and put the ball in play. Decent career OBP.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Tony Kemp has a .315 OBP against righties. Not decent. If Kemp is on the team in 2020 that is not a good thing.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I wish he was good... Imagine what a hoot the life sized bobble head promotion would be.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Tony Kemp can hit AAA. I'd rather see Tony be given a real chance for consistent playing time, over quite a few other players on team.

    I can also see the Cubs cutting him before spring training for a roster spot.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    AAA is not the MLB. That is where he belongs on a Cubs team. I don't think he has any options left though. He could make a team with the new 26 man rosters just hope it is not with the Cubs.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I guess we disagree. Leadoff has been a black hole for the Cubs. Why not give a player like Tony Kemp a chance for 40% of a season to see if he could be the answer, or at least part a productive platoon?

    Who will be the Cubs leadoff hitter for 2020?
    Heyward-Bote-Caratini-Happ-Descalso-Schwarber-Almora-Kemp

    Tony Kemp most likely will fail, that is simple to say, and the most likely outcome. I can also easily argue the Cubs rotation, bullpen, 2b, cf, & rf all will underwhelm in 2020. Unless big changes happen between now and the start of the season.

    Cubs need to fill some of their needs like a small market team for 2020.

    Giants and Yankees both had multiple non-name players step up and play well in 2019. Sadly that is what the Cubs need in 2020.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Minors included, pretty solid obp

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    A lot of bad assumptions

  • I think Bryant is our main chip for filling centerfield leadoff and a pitcher or two. Nico is penciled in at second. If not out of spring training then soon, as he will be asked to adjust in the show. I don't know who will be at third.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Is there any interest in matre?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Not that I know of.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Good chance Bryant is at 3b and Nico is in AAA

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    If the Cubs trying to get under the CBT penalties they will have to move salary. Bryant with Boras is the guy most likely. I think that they want to keep Baez. Anything is possible.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Rumor is the Bryant decision should come down soon. After Jan. 1 they said. If anyone has been kicking the tires on Bryant we'll know soon enough.

    The long slow hello continues.

    I'm not as pessimistic as many. Already like the over and they haven't done anything.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Trading Bryant makes them worse. Unless they are doing a complete rebuild he should not be moved.

  • fb_avatar

    On The Cubs Reporter someone mentioned that the Cubs should trade for Cole Tucker. He's young and competent and has a very high OBP and it's a good idea. He's on the Pirates so that might be a problem, but he's a good ballplayer. I'd like to see him with us.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Pirates will not be trading young controllable players. They are rebuilding and these are the type of players they are keeping.

  • *mostly sarcasm follows*

    I hear that Starlin Castro is available, probably cheap, and plays a passable 3B?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Castro would be a cheap guy to fill in at 3b-2b-ss. I would rather have him then Descalso or Kemp on the roster. Especially if Bryant is traded.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Kind of exactly my point bleachercreature. He's pretty much a known quantity at this point. He stays generally healthy, won't hurt you at either 2B or 3B and could cover SS in a pinch, and had a torrid second half of 2019 at the plate after that disastrous start in Miami. And he's not going to break the bank either.

    He'll never be a guy who has a high OBP, but has developed some pop and generally makes regular contact.

  • Move Quintana and his 10M or Chatwood and his 13M for a prospect to get under the limit and let's run it back. Cross our fingers for good health and that the Happ/Almora CF combo reaches it's potential. Still one of the better teams in the NL when healthy.

    I'm so bored.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I'm not bored, just in a funk, but coming out of it soon. Have you heard this news?

    Darwin Barney has been hired as the manager of the Rangers AAA affiliate in Nashville.

    Congratulations, Mr. Barney!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I hadn't! Atta boy! I need to go to more minor league games this year. Haven't been since the peoria chiefs were a cubs affiliate.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Moving Quintana creates 2 holes in the rotation. They need to add to the rotation not subtract

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Okay... again.... TO GET UNDER THE CBT LIMIT. That can't happen by adding. Adding to the SP depth would require a KB trade and I'd prefer to lose Q instead and take a chance on Alzolay, Mills, Rea, Chatwood

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I think WaitUntilNextYear is saying that since the Cubs biggest need is SP (most people would agree methinks), it makes no sense to trade out of the decentish SP pool of 4 that they currently have. They can, and will, be adding at least 1 SP this off season. Trading Q solves nothing. Trading Chatwood is highly unlikely, which is why noone suggests it. He is making $10M more than he is worth. It makes no sense for any team to trade for him.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Trading Q moves salary out. That’s what DarBar is saying. I think DarBar would rather move a #4/3 type starting pitcher & possibly 1 other salary, than move an All Star starting 3Bman &/or catcher. I would tend to agree with him.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Exactly. Looks like 36M+ is scheduled to come off the books after the season. I don't like the thought of breaking up the core right now. Hopefully a couple young SPs emerge this year. Definitely not unimaginable.

  • fb_avatar

    Starlin Castro to be signed by the Nats, 2 yr $12M. Good for him.
    I'm already looking forward to spring training!

  • Reports are Nats also signed Asdrubal Cabrera to play 3rd base, so sounds like they are out on both Donaldson & Bryant

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