Could Cubs offseason moves move timeline back?

Could Cubs offseason moves move timeline back?

Are the Cubs going to take a step back this offseason?

Is that even possible? There are some in the media who claim some potential Cubs offseason moves would indicate the timeline for winning is being moved back again.

If the Cubs deal Jeff Samardzija, it may not be about the timeline to winning being so far off. Instead, Samardzija may actually bring back the young, potential top of the rotation pitcher that he himself may never ascend to.

Now if the Cubs trade Edwin Jackson that is a different story.

Theo Epstein opened up the can of worms during a presentation to season ticket holders recently. The Cubs president readily admitted to the group they may have jumped the gun a bit by signing Jackson last offseason. Patrick Mooney recently hinted the Cubs could actually unload Jackson's contract in the pitching hungry market.

I have been hearing for a while that the front office has been miffed with the restraints they have experienced. Yes, they wanted a rebuild, not overpriced free agents. Yet, they also expected the resources to acquire pieces that could accentuate and accelerate the big picture. They expected more than a $100 mil payroll to work with.

It’s hard to say how close the Cubs were to international gets like Puig, Ryu, Cespedes, and Darvish, but I’m confident a little extra money would have gotten them at least one.

Now with the Wrigley renovation still in limbo and potential TV deals still fuzzy, the plan to supplement the farm system is still down the line it seems. Sure Jed Hoyer publicly volunteers info the Cubs will be in on Masahiro Tanaka. Just in time for the option on your season tickets.

Think about the surprise bid the Cubs put on Anibal Sanchez last offseason for a minute. I envisioned Tom Ricketts as the dad surprising his disappointed sons by taking them new car shopping, after previously telling them they couldn’t afford one. Instead his credit gets denied and they end up on the used car lot instead with Jackson.

If the Cubs indeed deal Jackson, they are not only admitting another mistake but, would they be pushing the timeline back? They would at least be indicating they were not really ready to spend on the big club yet. That is fine with me at this point. Players like Tanaka make sense but who actually thinks they can financially hang with the Dodgers and Yankees?

The Cubs shouldn’t have to endure such small market limitations. It is reality however, and it is time to turn the page. I have one hope, that they be done with flipping players now. It was fun, but I'm over that process. If the Cubs were to sign a Phil Hughes type, why not hang on to him at this point?

In the meantime, you have no choice but to wait on the kids. Yet, there is hope on that front, I’m convincing myself lately. I’m not sure if it was Kris Bryant’s eyes hypnotizing me, or if it was just his utter domination of the Arizona Fall League that really helped.

Speaking of dominance that is what Epstein and Hoyer are claiming it will take for us to see prospects like Bryant in Wrigley soon.

"That's part of the criteria for advancement. One thing we tell our players: 'If you want to move up, dominate your competition. Perform. Ultimately, it comes down to performance. You need to work on your player plan. You need to work on your weaknesses. You need to be a good teammate. But the single most important factor is performance. Dominate.'

"We'll see what our guys do when they go out there. If you are dominating your level over a significant period of time, you will advance in the system."

Both Bryant and Javy Baez have shown that very dominance of late.

It’s only a matter of time before they are both here and it no one will notice if Edwin Jackson is.

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  • fb_avatar

    There's a difference between taking a step back and moving the timeline back.

    Can they take a step back? Sure, and maybe loss 100+ games this year but since we know progress isn't linear that doesn't necessarily mean moving the time line back.

    I don't think they should consciously move the timeline back.

    I'm on board with the rebuilding process but if they trade Shark, for example, for an 19 low A ball Lucas Giolito then call me in 2017 bcause I'm not on board for 3+ more years of bad baseball.

    They need to start acquiring MLB ready people. The rebuilding process for a team of this market size should not take 5+ years.

    I realize there are financial restraints right now but not to the point where they're a small market team. I'm not advocating large free agent splurging (other than Tanaka) but if they're going to trade Shark because they can't come to financial terms with a guy who has the 17th best xFIP in all of baseball over the last two years amongst starters with 300 IP then they need to act like a team that wants to compete and get a MLB ready pitching prospect and not an 19 year old that's 3-5 years away.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    While I too would prefer more major league ready guys, I wouldn't put Giolito 3-5 years out. Giolito will most likely start at Hagerstown (Low-A) next season. As Theo pointed out, if he's dominant there and he should be, he will be promoted to High-A to finish out the season. Assuming he performs well, he would then be slated to start 2015 in AA. That would put him on a timeline of 2-3 years before seeing the majors. The downside with Giolito isn't that he'll take too long; it's his surgically repaired elbow.

    If the Cubs were able to pry away Giolito in return for Samardzija, I'd consider it a bold upside play with some risk. I would want other pieces along with Giolito to mitigate some of that risk with possibly the Cubs sending to players/propects back to balance it out. My concern would be risk, not timeline.

  • I agree Pooch. I think they are looking for MLB ready prospects.

  • Shark need sto bring back a Taillon, Syndergaard . Bradley type who at least have pitched well at AA or higher . Giolito is a great talent tho .

  • If the budget has pushed back the timeline for competitiveness, then I think the Cubs have to trade Shark. If the next two seasons are throwaways (barring miracles), then what good does it do to keep him around, other than to eat innings? That's what Raley and Rusin and their ilk are for.

    If the forecast calls for pain, and for 2017 to be the first year of the ballyhooed "sustained success," then they might as well trade Shark to load up on more prospects.

  • fb_avatar

    So what should I do as a season ticket holder who only attends a few games each year? Pay a premium to see washed up or double A players at Wrigley? Attendance continues to drop year over year and even the bleachers are no longer sold out. Either management provides a huge discount to encourage loyalty by ticket holders like me or I'm dumping the tickets. Sorry Ricketts.....I'm not signing up for another 3 - 4 years of scrubs.

  • From the very beginning, Ricketts made it known that he wanted a team built not from free agency but his farm system that's why he heavily invested in building a new facility in the DR and requested minor league franchises to improve their facilities along with making a major investment in their spring training facilities.

    Furthermore, the signs of financial difficulty have been right in front of everyone's noses for a very long time, so you can't be surprised by the potential for the rebuild taking longer to achieve. It took the mighty Yankees 4 years (1989 - 1992) to rebuild.

    Sportswriters in this town warned every fan that free-for-all spending the Tribune Company did to drive up the selling price would come back to haunt the Cubs for years to come. Just because you send players off to other clubs -- and still paying these players -- doesn't mean it's not going to have a negative impact on the club's ability to buy players.

    I can't believe that Epstein and Hoyer -- for as meticulous of researchers they are -- weren't highly aware of the financial situation the Ricketts and Cubs were in, so none of this can be a surprise for them. Epstein especially had plenty of time to do his due diligence while the Red Sox kept him in limbo for over a month.

    Fans also shouldn't have been surprised that the State of Illinois and City of Chicago would be detrimental. The economic conditions of these governmental bodies has radically changed, especially since the Great Recession. The dynamics of the legislature changed as well. Deals like the White Sox got under Governor Thompson just aren't going to happen anymore.

    They also should have known the lengths that the Rooftop Owners would go to protect their businesses. They and the neighborhood didn't want the lights and night games -- and for decades fought putting in lights. They didn't want the Cubs to increase the seating capacity of the bleachers because it would interfere with their ability to see the game. It took the Cubs going to court and a nearly 4-year process to get to the current agreement. So you can count on them to fight to their dying breathe to protect their current agreement with the Cubs.

    If anyone thought that the Cubs would be starting their multi-year renovation project this year when they announced their plans to fund all the renovations themselves in January were living in wonderland. Construction is a long and dirty process, especially when the building you are trying to renovation is on the historical registry. You just don't get contractors aligned over night; you have to get inline. You don't get steel beams, doors, cabinets, video score boards and other building materials overnight; some items can take 16 weeks to a year to produce.

    They were also living in wonderland if they thought the Cubs didn't have debt service payments to make, which would impact funding of the major league club.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Jeff - I don't think Theo was caught unaware on any of the above, but at the same time could naturally be frustrated that Cubs haven't caught a single break on any single one of the factors you outlined that were variable.

    Sure the Wrigleyville neighbors and rooftop owners are notoriously persnickety, but it was certainly a probability that it all could have been resolved by now.

    Sure capital improvements at a historic landmark take time, but it wasn't unreasonable to think that they could have begun on the original schedule.

    Sure players regress, but to think that Rizzo, Barney, and especially Castro would all take a huge step backwards this past season and blunt any momentum in the team's improvement would have seemed somewhat unlikely.

    Hey, we all know that's part of being a Cubbie, but we sure haven't caught too many breaks along the way the past couple of years other than what look to be a couple of really solid drafts and shrewd trades.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    It's unreasonable to think they could have started the renovation this offseason considering all the steps involved in getting the project approved. Also, it was unrealistic to start on-time given Ricketts wanted assurances.

    The player regression is all related to the nonsense going on in the dugout between the manager and two hitting instructors. When you have 3 voices talking without the same message it's going to confuse the hitter to the point they are going to regress.

    Quick frankly, I put that director on Theo and Jed. They were the ones who selected Sveum based on their experience in Boston. How is that they didn't see this side of Sveum in Boston?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to JeffK:

    I have no idea what the deal the White Sox got from Gov Thompson has to do with this. The Cubs aren't dealing with the state they're dealing with the city. They're also not looking to get a shiny new publicly funded stadium, they want to rehab their own park with their own money.

    I can certainly understand the rooftop owners wanting to protect their business' but they have less than 10 years left on their contract with the Cubs. They're living on borrowed time either way. Best to not piss off the new owners now and come to some sort if agreement rather than alienate them and forgo any chance of reupping that contract when it runs out.

    I work for a manufacturer in the construction business and most basic building materials are available within 4-6 weeks. Some take a little longer, many are available immediately from inventories. The only thing that takes 16 weeks are finish products which are ordered at the start of the process anyway so the lead time is moot.

    Contractors are already lined up. GC's put in their bids, which is how they know a budget cost for the project, and have a basic group of sub contractors lined up.

    Once the Cubs know they can start without the fear of legal issues things could start in a matter of weeks. Obviously that wont happen this offseason because they have lost 6-7 weeks.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    The Cubs originally wanted state funding for renovating Wrigley Field and were told in so many words to pound sand. Then they approached Rahm. He was originally will to provide some funding but that the 2012 election got in the way. Then Ricketts announced he would do it all himself and they had to jump through hoops.

    A lot of politicians thought Reinsdorf got a very sweetheart deal which he did and it is still impacting the Illinois budget and Reinsdorf hasn't lived up to his end of the bargain.

    I've worked in construction as well. Project budgets don't always come from the GC. They typically originate from the A/E firm and they don't use proposals from the GC to create a budget at the A/E firm.

    It's only after the project drawings and budget is agreed to by the building owner does the project go out for bid by contractors.

    4-6 weeks is at best a good lead time for building materials, but lead times don't always stay on track because a manufacturers order volume exceeds their production capacity. And, the Cubs will have to wait inline just like all the other building owners.

    Yes, some building materials are in stock, but some like steel beams have to be made and so of those lead times can be upwards of 16 weeks. And you can count on that huge video board to take more than 4-6 weeks to make.

    Furthermore, just because a GC and their subs may have been lined up and contracts signed, it doesn't mean they would be ready to immediately jump on the Cubs project, especially if they are working on other projects. There are a lot of other factors involved in scheduling projects.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    I've heard Theo/Jed were surprised at how restrained they really are. They counted on the money to be there by now.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I keep hearing from the media how the front office is surprised on their spending restraints but who was out there they wanted to spend money on that they couldnt ? I dont see one free agent that signed the last few years that would have made a difference on this team, short term and long term, they wanted to sign but couldnt due to financial limits.

    Sure they offered Anibal Sanchez $75m 5yrears but that just forced the Tigers to go $80M 5years for a third or fourth rotation starter with a consistent injury history. Most agree that contract will haunt the Tigers. But really who out there did they want to sign but couldnt due to financial limitations ?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rbirby:

    Your kidding right? 3rd or 4th starter?

    He's immediately the ace of this team and a pretty good one too.

    I could be wrong but I think w all his injury concerns, he got some cy young votes this year.

    Also there are two pitchers from the Far East, darvish and Ryu, perhaps you have heard of them. I am not a baseball gm or pretend to have knowledge like one but I think those two could have helped the cubs short term and long term.

    Sure the cubs don't need good pitchers like those. We prefer to get ours from dumpster diving and some fans are starting to think its a good idea while still paying top prices for an inferior product.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Sanchez did have a great year regardless if he was out with an injury once again and you are right he did get come Cy votes. Cant really blame the front office for not signing him when everyone and their mom was completely surprised when it was being leaked the Cubs had signed him only to have his agent play us for an extra year and millions more from the Tigers. The consensus after the Tigers made the deal was that the Cubs were lucky they didnt match 5 years and 80 millions plus. I guess time will tell.

    Far as Ryu and Darvish the Cubs were not the only team outbid heavily on either pitcher.

    People act like the front office hasnt spent money on players but look at how much they over spent in the intl market this past summer. Sure it isnt the hundreds of millions needed to nab Ryu, Darvish, and Sanchez but they spent more than any other team and took on a penalty to do so.

    If the Cubs nail the Tanaka bid I hope to see all these frowns turn to smiles.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rbirby:

    I agree you probably will be right if they sign tanaka . The problem is tanaka might be the 4th best pitcher of the group.

    I hope I am wrong and these super talent evaluators we have running the team get us some real players soon . .........I am very nervous about putting all our eggs ( 4 yrs of losing ) in the Baez, Almora, Edwards, soler, and Bryant all becoming stars and at worst solid mlb contributors because if that doesn't happen, it will be a decade of losing.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Where was the money going to come from?

    They should have known the TV and radio contracts were undervalued and a mess. They should have been aware of the political hoops that the Cubs would have to jump through after going through the major renovation in Boston.

    Did they immediately get a boost in revenue to spend on players the day they announced the renovation? I don't think so.

  • I always thought that best case scenario in a rebuild was three years before the team could compete for a playoff spot. We're two years in. A lot will be learned from this season and off-season.

    Will Samardzija be extended? If traded, what types of players does he bring back? How will Castro, Rizzo, Castillo and Wood perform in 2014? Does anyone step forward and establish themselves as a "core" type player (Arrieta, Strop, Lake, Olt)? And finally how do key prospects AA and above (Bryant, Baez, Soler, Johnson, Edwards, Alcantara, Hendricks) develop?

    The answers to these questions will inform us more about where the Cubs are on their rebuild timeline than whether or not they trade Edwin Jackson.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I believe the Cubs could have competed (been 500 or above) in years 1 and 2 if they had the right manager, but I don't think competitiveness was the goal for the past two years. I believe Theo/Jed were willing to tank both seasons so they could get a high draft pick.

    They could have even been better this past season, but the coaching staff especially the hitting side got in the way of player development.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Sure, they could've been competitive if a lot of things had gone better, but I don't think they would have been "playoff" better.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think everyone thought 14 would be at least a rebound year. I'm not counting on it unless we see some real progression from some.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree. I don't count on anything either. I can't. I'm a Cubs fan.

    But there exists a fairly strong argument that the Cubs can be ready to compete for a playoff spot by 2015, just 3 years after beginning a complete rebuild.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Totally agree with your point. Yet if they deal EJax they are admitting a mistake and they see things further down road.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    If they trade EJax in a salary dump or get little value in return, then yes, we can say that they're admitting a mistake in signing him and see the team being competitive further down the road.

    But his contract, with it's upfront signing bonus money, was always a pretty good value (assuming he pitches in line with his track record). It was always going to be a tradeable contract (3 yrs left at 11 mill per). If they are able to add surplus value by trading a player that only cost them money, they've improved the team, and how would that be an admission of anything? That would simply be Theo and Jed doing their jobs. Perhaps the reason they are floating his name is because the market for quality starting pitching is so great right now that they'd be fools not to?

    If what they are getting back are minor leaguers in Low-A, I could see that as an admission and that they see things further down the road. But you can't make the definitive conclusion and statement you're making without the caveat that it depends on what they get back in return.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree. If they don't make a couple moves this offseason to improve the team next year then I really don't know what they expect from us fans.

    They are acting like they have marlin revenue and fan support of the rays. I get the tanking of the last couple yrs because easier to draft impact players when your picking close to the top but now it's time to add some pieces mainly some protection for Rizzo and some veteran presence in the clubhouse to replace soriano.

    Time to start making some trades the jedstein brilliant way.......he is supposed to be good at that right ?

  • Trading Jackson would be great if they could find a sucker to take his whole salary.

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