Thoughts on Theo, Sveum, spending, trading, and the shortstop situation

There’s some buzz going around because some of the things Cubs PBO Theo Epstein said yesterday. Let’s start with this:

“I don’t think we’re going to get to where we need to be through free agency for the short term, honestly. Given the needs that we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I don’t think we’ll have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency.”

Some translated that as the Cubs won’t be spending but the first thing I thought when I saw that is that Theo says this every year.  He says it not necessarily because of a money shortage but because he is philosophically against building a team that way.  It is nothing new and I’m sure if you were to archive old articles here, you will find that he has said something similar every year.

We have also seen that even though he prefers not to build through free agency, it doesn’t mean he won’t sign any free agents.  His preference is to pay for projected performance, not past performance.  Sign Albert Pujols or Michael Bourn?  No.  Sign in prime players like Anibal Sanchez, Yu Darvish or Edwin Jackson? Yes.  Or at least try.

This year the player that best fits that description is NPB star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who is 24.  I don’t expect the Cubs philosophy to change on free agents, so expect him to get a long, long look and a very competitive bid.

“I don’t think we’re going to have the ability to add like multiple impact pieces in free agency.”

These words seem carefully chosen.  They don’t have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency?

He’s leaving the door open for at least one signing here and he’s also leaving the door open to trades.  As I’ve said, I like Tanaka as their main target but a player like Shin-Soo Choo (or Granderson or any FA who fits their need for LH bat and OBP) would seem to make a secondary target — if the price and the years are right.  Remember, he doesn’t think he has the ability, but he doesn’t know.  And he won’t know until he sees how the market plays out.  He will not shut the door if the player and the cost match up well with the team’s long term plans.  What if the market for Choo plays out like it did for Kyle Lohse?  Will the Cubs pass that up?

On Dale Sveum

Theo was especially cryptic here, saying that they are in the evaluation process right now and that “there are no red flags“.  He also said the evaluation process is a matter of course and one they engage in every season. Much was focused on what he didn’t say, which was that he didn’t give Sveum a public vote of confidence.  But honestly, should we have expected that if they are still in their evaluation process?  Have you ever known this front office to make rash decisions before completing their process… on anything?

I think he really didn’t say much here other than a formal decision has not been made and won’t be made until they thoroughly evaluate.  My guess is that he does stay on for next season.

On Revenues

Theo says the Cubs won’t be able to tap into any revenues from the Wrigley Field renovation this offseason.


He didn’t last year either,nor the year before because they weren’t there.  Yet he added Edwin Jackson, Nate Schierholtz, Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, Carlos Villanueva, Scott Hairston, Kyuki Fujikawa…and went hard after Anibal Sanchez and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

This year — like every other year — they won’t have those revenues.  But they do have a smaller payroll.  Again — that doesn’t mean he’ll spend it on free agency (other than maybe Tanaka and/or Choo or bargain FAs) because he doesn’t believe in that from a philosophical standpoint.  He’ll only spend if it’s in the best long term interests of the team.

Trader Theo?

The problem with adding payroll through free agency is that you are often getting post-prime players who inevitably get overpaid because of the realities of an open market.

But what about trading?  We mentioned Carlos Gonzalez.  How is that different since he is owed some $60M over the next 4 years?  It’s different because the price is more than reasonable for an in-prime player, that’s why.  It’s much better than a player of his caliber and age would get on the open market.  It’s good value.

I expect the Cubs to explore trade options and CarGo fits the profile of the kind of player they may seek out.  They’ll inquire on Giancarlo Stanton (who wouldn’t?) but they’ll also look for other players who fit their sort and long term interests.

Javier Baez and a note on top prospects

Epstein reiterated that Baez will stay at SS until he’s knocking on the door and when he’s ready, it will be him and not Starlin Castro who will have to move.

(Baez has) all the ability that he needs to play Major League shortstop, not that he’s not still developing,” Epstein said. “We have a shortstop now [in Starlin Castro]. If we’re fortunate to get to that point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and Castro is healthy, then we will look to move Baez around so he can perform at other positions. I think he has a lot going for him, that he can do that. For a young kid, he has tremendous baseball instincts.”

And speaking of Baez, I am working on my top prospects list.  Not sure the number yet…25…30…40….50??  It’s a work in progress and the system is a whole lot deeper than it used to be, so haven’t decided if I’ll stick to my old 25 or expand the list.

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    You do great prospect reports John, so please expand! Maybe for those ranked past 30, you can skimp and have just a sentence or two, or just a big category of "other players of note" without ranks; it's pretty hard to rank the lower parts of the list.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Thanks. And I agree. I think it gets really dicey after the top 8 or 9. Much less doubt between 1 and 10 as there is between 10 and 30.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're right, it gets very confusing after the first group of: Big 4, Arismendy, CJ, Pierce, Dan V, Arodys V, Hendricks, Blackburn, Candelario.....after those 12, it's mostly projection, guesses, etc.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Along the lines of both Zonk's and your thoughts in re ranking outside the Top 20 or so, perhaps you could highlight significant "risers" and "fallers" of lower ranked prospects. Like Zonk, I really appreciate your reporting on Cubs prospects.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Thanks. I could do something along those lines.

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    RE: Free Agency, the point to acquiring impact players is to get you over the top. I do not advocate spending big dollars until you have a young, cost-controlled base. THEN you fill in the gaps with Free Agency, that's what it's there for. Teams like Cards, Red Sox, Cincy, have made great use of this tool.

    We aren't there yet; an impact FA next year, realistically, will get us from 72 wins to 77 or whatever.

    Now, value FAs are another story. I expect us to play there, particularly ones we can flip for more prospects. I hate to be sellers, AGAIN, but so far it's working for us. It's really helped a ton with our pitching depth.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed, except I would add that some bigger free agents can be long term value if you get them in their prime (i.e. Darvish, Sanchez)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think the point of free agency should be to acquire assets, regardless of where you are in the standings? There is value in assets whether you are in first or last place. The key is making the right call, and not acquiring more liabilities than assets.

    Count me as one that was excited the Cubs finally went out and signed the top free agent (Sori) in 2006, but a major problem with that decision was it was so time focused. They wanted to spend the money THAT season (for reasons beyond performance as we know) - and it just happened the best player was a very flawed player that did just 2 things really well, and one of those (his speed) was bound to deteriorate quickly.

    All I hope is that if Theo/Jed see a player this year that can become a core player for the next 5 years, they go after him. End of story. Cause again - in baseball you never know for sure what will happen once the calendar turns to April.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    The Cardinals acquired players like Holliday and Beltran when their farm system was considered one of the worst in baseball, and long before guys like Carpenter and Craig started producing.

  • Well, Beltran was signed last year as a FA, so not necessarily applicable regarding the timing or how they acquired him. You are right about Holliday.

    Cards have an insane ability to continue to draft / develop players and utilize them in trades or for cheap ML production (without ever having a top-15 draft slot). Was Carpenter even on any top-100 prospect lists...ever? Now he is what, a top 5 mvp candidate? I can't figure out how they do it - but hopefully Theo does and we will be doing the same thing in a few years.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    72 wins to 77 wins, and then Castro doing what he should be doing .280-.300 with a hopeful Rizzo improvement. Maybe Tanaka?? The bullpen is improving or has improved. Woah.. over .500 win % by my estimation. Another year for a few certain prospects to (maybe) crack the roster and we got ourselves a winnning (hopefully high end) club

  • How do you see the Baez and Bryant and 3rd base situation
    playing out? Will he listen to offers for Castro?

  • How do see the Baez and Bryant and 3rd base situation playing out?
    Will they listen to offers for Castro and should they

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    My understanding is that Castro isn't going anywhere. Listen? Sure, but there is a large gap between listening and trading. I think Baez would be the better 3B defensively, but I don't think the Cubs have decided that they'll move Baez to 3B. Could be 2B.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I feel that if Alcantara and Olt both hit at the major league level, someone is going to get traded. Because there is not room for those two, plus Baez, and plus Castro. Period.

    I'm not even counting Bryant. If Cubs have "problem" of logjam at 3B, he'll be moved to RF.

    And Christian Villanueva, if he hits in AAA, could also be dealt if he's blocked. I feel he could get lost in the shuffle and be trade bait, no matter how well he plays.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Those are good problems to have for a change...

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Zonk, this is why signing big money free agents right now is risky. If Olt and Baez come up early next year, and they succeed and Castro becomes Castro again, then Alcantara and Bryant start pushing the issue, it would be nice to have position flexibility. Olt and Bryant have played outfield. Baez and Alcantara, and probably Castro, are athletic enough to play outfield, so the way I see it, we have shouldn't box ourselves in with a FA contract.
    I will admit, though, there are two things wrong with my theory. 1-you can only sign FA's when they become available, and 2-the odds of all those prospects succeeding is small.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Our greater need is at second, where I feel we need a right handed OBP guy.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Definitely need OBP -- and lots of it.

  • Do a top 50 list! The prospect stuff is what I always look forward to the most. I'm thankful that the FO has created this dilemma for you!

    Theo didn't really serve up anything new but I was a little alarmed by one thing. It didn't seem to me like he gave Dale an all out vote of confidence, which surprised me a tiny bit. In weeks past I just assumed Dale would be back but now I'd put the chances that he comes back at 70%. I think what Theo actually may have done is leave the door open for a firing in case Theo's bosses decide a change is necessary for whatever reason. Owners do that sometimes...

  • In reply to Ben20:

    i.e. if Joe Girardi decides, for whatever reason, that he REALLY wants the Cubs job and his people reach out to Cubs management. IF that happened I can see ownership going to Theo and saying, "Listen Theo, we really like Dale and we know you guys do too but he hasn't really made a lot of progress and we think its time to bring in someone else and we want Joe." I think Theo's leaving himself an out so that it doesn't look like ownership is making important decisions like some of the ones that embarrassed him in Boston.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Ricketts has vowed to stay out of baseball operations and I think he will keep his word.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah that's what he said. I don't ever see him being a meddling owner type as far as tinkering with the roster and imposing his will via free agency. I do, however see things like managerial changes and posting fees as things that probably at the very least require a 'geen light' if not a round table discussion. Maybe I'm a cynic but to me that's just the nature of billionaires (who are likely to have big ego's...maybe he doesn't) owning sports teams. I'm confident that he'll make a suggestion or two when it comes to baseball ops over the course of his ownership of the team. Especially if they keep turning in last place finishes.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I hope not. it's bad ownership that has cursed the Cubs for nearly the entire existence. I hope Ricketts is different.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't imagine that Theo would have come on board two years ago without some sort of understanding that Ricketts would not be involved in any on-the-field personell decisions,

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Lets be honest. Theo doesn't have any bosses when it comes to baseball decisions. If he wants Dale around he'll be around. If he doesn't, he'll be gone.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I'm rooting for a much greater asset in the dugout. Less than Girardi would be a disappointment. That's where I'd spend money.

  • I agree with Theo on this FA class and his approach to it. I still dont agree with Jackson signing for 4 years and the amount of money, which will back fire once other cub pitchers want to resign and use Jackson as a starting point. I don't think there is anyone that can help us in a 1-2 year span. If we could trade for a elite player then do so. I still believe the best way to handle the next 2 years is to see who pans out and what are weaknesses are and then make a big move.

    As far as comments go on Dale, I think Theo handled it the proper way. By saying no red flags and are still in evaluation stage. Maybe Dale could learn how to talk to the media without throwing players under the bus.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    It's easy to 2nd-guess the E-Jax signing, but at the time most analysts felt it wasn't a bad idea. FO probably felt it stabilized the rotation, and the risk wasn't bad. E-Jax is still young enough that age will not be a factor, and the way his deal was structured it was very front-loaded, so the remaining commitment of 3-$33 isn't crippling at all. $10 mil is actually the going rate these days for an inning eater, and E-Jax could easily still be that inning eater for the rest of the deal.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I didn't second guess it now. I was against it at the time. I Didn't like the 4 year committment to a journey man, inning eater that gets traded at deadlines and that nobody ever wants to resign. It isn't crippling money, but could have been used better. 16 losses this season isn't exactly worth 10 million a year. And i know pitchers can not control that but lets face it Jackson has not pitched much better then his 16 losses have shown.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    WTNY, The only other Cub starter that's even close to free agency is Samardija, and even that won't be til after 2015, so I think what Ejax makes is irrelevant with regards to the salary of the rest of the staff.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    You don't think shark will have Jackson contract in his head and want more then that?

  • John.. I can't wait to see the list. I have my own list of 25 so I can't wait to see yours.

    I still think Castro would be better moved to 3rd base. At one time a few years ago Barney was actually ranked higher as a ss prospect then Castro was. But the bottom line is that Baez and Castro in the line up at the same time excites me.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I'm not a fan of moving Castro. His bat definitely does not play at 3B, and we have a ton of potential options there. Same with 2B really. And he's frankly a better SS than Baez at this point.

    And I don't think Barney was ever more highly ranked than Castro, unless it was before Castro debuted in the US. I don't recall Barney ever making many Cubs top 10 lists even.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I remember David Kaplan saying a few years ago that Barney was a higher rated SS then Castro.

    At this point i agree, but we are talking when Baez is knocking on the door of MLB, that could be 1 year or 2 years away. I am not one to say a certain position has to provide power.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree with you there, Zonk as far as Castro staying at short. He's getting better. When Barney was 20 he was playing short at Oregon State. When Starlin was 20 he was playing short for the Cubs. That tells one all they need to know about prospect status. BUT, I will say that Barney was a good defender at short and his mental approach to defense has always been superior to Castro's. I do think its fair to say that Barney would have only made a minuscule amount, if any of the MENTAL mistakes Castro has made at short in his career. If Ryan Theriot can play short on a winning ML team, Barney certainly could have as well. Castro's range and arm are certainly superior but it would be fun to compare metrics if Barney played short for another team. My money would be on Barney.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    All I am saying is that I remember hearing that Barney was a better ss prospect. And it sounds like u r agreeing by the end. Castro is a better hitter, but SS?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I'll take that bet, but I can dig where you are coming from. I've always liked Barney but he's not close to Castro talent wise. Too bad we can't do hybrids.

  • Fun way to expand the list might be to eyeball it to who would have been the #25 if they were on the 2011 list. Show how far we've come.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Hmmm. Interesting idea.

  • I read something further into Theo's comments - why if "getting on base" is the most important thing a team can do to succeed offensively, than why is he signalling that they made a mistake in some way in trying to get Castro to become a more selective/ high-OBP type player? He basically said it did not work with Starlin, he needs to go back to his old approach. He references that becoming more selective will just come naturally in a few years - but I don't think Theo really believes that?

    Moral of my story - if Javier Baez is a shortstop, he will play shortstop and its Castro who will move (ultimately to another team).

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    It's funny because I was talking to a friend about this very same subject the other day. I think Castro can never go back to his old self. That seed has been planted and I think what they really have done is, at the cost of taking one step back, they've accelerated a change that may have happened organically anyway. While walk rates don't always change, many hitters do mature and improve their approach over time. What the Cubs did is teach him the approach they prefer and that part will never go away, it will eventually be absorbed into his style to fit his own particular strengths-- which is really what you want anyway.

    We'll see what Castro does next year. If he becomes the .300/.350/.450 SS many thought he would become before this year, people will get suddenly forget they want to trade him. It reminds me in some ways of the Patrick Kane situation with the Blackhawks where many fans wanted him traded after his off year a couple years back. Nobody says it now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope the Patrick Kane comparison is true John - I really do. My own (completely devoid of any actual inside knowledge of course) opinion is - Theo does not believe he will ever become a .300/.350/.450 guy. But he is going to try and get that asset back pointing upward (by saying he's our guy, the other SS is the one that will move, etc...) until the point comes where that decision really needs to be made.

    To put some math on it - I say it's 55/45 right now that Javier will be the Opening Day SS in 2015. What percentage would you put on Castro being that guy?

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    If Castro returns to being a 3 WAR player, I'd say it's close to 100% that he stays. If he becomes a 4 WAR player as a normal projection would imply, then it's probably 100%,

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If only bothered to study how the WAR statistic is actually calculated, I would be able to comment further. But I can not (which I'm sure you appreciate).

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Haha :) I appreciate a healthy debate. I'd certainly like to know your thoughts (even if I may not necessarily agree)...

    Coincidentally another reader asked about WAR in a previous thread and I gave a general answer (his question had to do with Welly but same principle applies). Anyway, this is my quick explanation...

    WAR uses a wide range of hitting, defensive, baserunning metrics to calculate how many extra runs a player produces or saves. From that it is established that a certain amount of runs produced and/dor saved is equivalent to a win.

    Certain players rate as what is called a replacement level player and that means that that player doesn’t produce or save enough runs to add up to even one win. That means they can essentially be replaced by a waiver wire player or your average joe from AAA without costing your team.

    Wins above Replacement means how many wins a certain player adds as opposed to that “replacement level player”. Castillo’s combination of offense and defense calculates to an extra 3 wins for the Cubs over a replacement level catcher. For reference, an example of a replacement level catcher, ironically, is Geovany Soto. So essentially WAR states that if you start Castillo over Soto over a full season, it will get you roughly 3 extra wins on the year.

    3 is considered a solid to above average regular, 2 WAR is a fringe starter, 4 is very good, all-star level perhaps. Yadier Molina and Buster Posey are 5 WAR catchers this year and Posey was a 7.7 WAR catcher in his MVP season last year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I lied a bit - I knew what the interpretative values of WAR (what a 2, 3, 4) are supposed to mean. What I don't understand is what you quickly ran through in your 2nd paragraph - what the actual stats are that make up WAR, how they are weighted, and essentially why I should trust that they really wind up equating to "this guy won me 2 more games than that guy".

    I was a curmudgeon, old-school stats guy until reading Moneyball (only about 5 years ago), so I have much greater appreciation for why OBP a better stat than BA, etc... WAR is just one I've not gotten comfortable with. Very few people I talk with really understand and can explain the assumptions that go into WAR. I also understand there are a number of different formulas that various stat houses use to calculate.

    So I'm not a WAR guy yet is all. I often pick on the low hanging fruit which a reliance on WAR can provide and criticize - like when the Baseball Sabermetrics guy in the Sun Times wrote 5 weeks ago that Josh Donaldson was the leading MVP candidate because his WAR was higher than Miguel Cabrera. I think (I am sure) 30 of 30 GM's given the choice between Josh and Miggy (just for the remaining 60 games in the season at that time) - would take Miggy without debate.

    So I will get there - but I always found it humorous that it was sabermetricians that fought hard to take the "Win" value out of baseball ratings, primarily for pitcher wins, but they have no problem statistically recreating what a Win actually is, and then trying to judge everyone in that regard.

    I'm done - won't bother you any more today but it was a fun exchange as always.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    No problem. I only used WAR as a short cut for value on offense and defense. In other words would take less offensive numbers if he steps it up on defense and becomes an asset there.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    “We have a shortstop now [in Starlin Castro]. If we’re fortunate to get to that point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and Castro is healthy, then we will look to move Baez around so he can perform at other positions."
    Just curious: What part of this quotation from Theo indicates a move for Castro, which was your main point?
    Like it or not, "we have a shortstop now", Theo says, and I think that about seals it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Out of curiosity, do you know how many wins would be expected out of a team constructed solely with replacement level players? In other words the Houston Astros' record ;)

    And what is the MLB average for WAR, or average starter WAR?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    never mind that last question, you already answered it

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Castro's deficiency is focus. He's just not always in it. Coaching ought to be able to correct this.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    'That's been the narrative but I haven't seen a lot of mental errors this year.

  • So the Dodgers won the bidding for Ryu in early November, Darvish bidding wasn't over until mid-December. Any idea on Tanaka? I think that bidding war will greatly effect how the rest of free agency pans out. If they get Tanaka, then the Cubs can move pitching prospects or a pitcher on the roster in order to land a bat.

  • I don't think Olt is going to make it. I have to say that I wish we could come up with kids who play the game like Segura of the Brewers does.

  • In reply to HankSauer rules:

    Frankly, I do not know how any of us can say if or when a player can "make it".

    Just when you think you may have have this game figured out (not me) , it will humble you in ways you cannot forecast or explain.

    I prefer to wait until someone is the bigs for a spell before deciding if he will stick and have a shot at a career.

    Olt included.

  • I think everyone is over analyzing Theo's comments. As John has pointed out, there are a ton of "outs" for Theo because his statements are kind of vague.

    The one main problem I have with all of these issues (Sveum, Castro/Baez, FA, Tanaka, 3B) is that it is going to take 3-6 months to hash out and I don't have the patience to deal with it.

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    "Some translated that as the Cubs won't be spending but the first thing I thought when I saw that is that Theo says this every year."

    Great minds think alike! I knew I wasn't the only one who thought that. Nice work John! Yes, Theo says this every year. The man is giving nothing away. I'd hate to play poker with him. It would be hard to know when he is bluffing.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Good analogy. Bring an extra shirt if you're going to play poker with Theo. You'll probably lose the first one.

  • There has been some talk of the posting system changing as soon as next month, before the Tanaka bidding (per MLBTR). This would allow the top three teams to be revealed and the player to choose between the three and then begin negotiations. This prevents a team like the dodgers from placing the highest bid, then not coming to terms with the player with the intention of "blocking" other teams. The three team bidding would eliminate this and benefit all sides. This won't be the only proposal, however, but it seems something will change in the near future. I think having one of the best FOs in baseball will help us capitalize on whatever change comes.

    On another note, I think the prospect list should extend to 30 plus a one-sentence-per-player 'others' section.

    Another neat idea might be the top 25 from 3,4,5,etc years ago and a short sentence on where each is now.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Awesome. Thanks for the ideas. Had one request to go to 50, but maybe I can mesh that with your idea of 30 and then one sentence for the next 20 or so.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would love to see a top 50, I just figured that those last 20-25 will all run together and be tough to differentiate. Especially if they haven't made their way over to the midwest to be seen firsthand. I know I learned a lot about the Marco Hernandezes and Oliver Zapatas of the world from seeing them in Kane, and would never have been able to compare the two to other players without that. So comparing players like Hanneman, Mejia, Tseng to Marco or any other players in that range seems mostly like guesswork (obviously you have some other better sources and intuition). So maybe the top 25-30 then tiers?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I would much prefer that, if you have any information, such as velocity, kinds of pitches, defensive talants, power, etc, that you include it regardless of where the player ranks. We usually have the least information about the lower down players.

  • John,

    I'm really looking forward to your next 2 org. depth reports (relief and starting pitching) as well as you next Top Prospect List.

    If you go deeper than 20 perhaps it might make it easier for you to rank the Top 10 of the list and simply tier the bottom part of the list by talent and projection.

    Example: Top 10 (tier 1) 11- 17 (tier 2) 18 - 28 (tier 3)

    Thanks again for all your hard work !!

  • What do you think we may have to give up to trade for Carlos Gonzalez? I would think it would be outside of our top 10 if we take all of his salary.

    I think a top 30 would be a good list to create. Looking forward to it!

  • Joe Girardi
    Theo is signed through 2016 and the Cubs have a much better farm system than the Yankees.
    Cashman has one year left and the Yankees are going to be cutting payroll.
    If the cubs offer $3 million per year for three years they could get Girardi.
    This would definitely feel like another significant step in the right direction.
    Sign Girardi before the Cubs convention. Sign Tanaka.
    Show off the new facility in arizona and prospects during spring training, which will sell more season tickets.

  • To Kenny Hubbs - you can do better than your last comment (which I could not reply directly to for some reason). The whole point of John's article was to say that even though it appears Theo saying the Cubs won't spend on free agents this offseason, he expects they will spend on free agency this offseason. Really not so straighforward after all.

    So the debate is not over on Baez's ultimate position - plenty of opportunity to read into what Theo actually said and have a different interpretation.

    Enjoy your day Kenny

  • In reply to Charlieboy:


  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Kenny - you must have had a glitch with your computer, your reply was just a bunch of question marks? What were you trying to write my good friend?

  • The truth is that the Cubs are a year away from making most these decisions. We can only project if Baez will be a better shortstop than Castro was this year. If he will be a better option than Alcantara at 2nd or 3rd than Bryant/Olt/Villanueva. The FO has an idea, but doubt that have made those definitive decisions.

    I do think that have made a decision on Sveum.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I am hearing that the decision on Sveum is that he is a keeper, but that he has to grow a beard because no razor the front office throws at his 5 o'clock shadow can make a dent.

  • In reply to Mike Mayberry:

    I thought he shaved and the shadow grew back instantly, like Homer Simpson.

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    I wonder if this is just psychological posturing on free agents. Sort of, “Yeah, I don’t really think you’re that cute, but if you want to go out with me, that’s cool.” I wonder if that would drive the price down a bit of a decent free agent like Choo.

    That’s wishful thinking anyway.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Haha! I think there's something to that in the sense that they don't want to ignite a bidding war.

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    And I think that you should make it a top 50 list. I love reading your take on prospects.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Thanks. Strongly considering that.

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    Any whispers or speculation on who could be included in a biggee name trade? Seems like an infielder maybe... olt is there guy and I don't see baez going anywhere, not sure villanueva or candy brings back a star... maybe AA and vog?

  • In reply to RY22:

    Not really. Still early in the process. Probably prospects for a young player. Can't see any of the established players going unless maybe they have concerns about being able to retain Samardzija.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One more time. Shark as the closer.

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    In reply to RY22:

    If I could only pick one player to bet on being traded, I would actually choose Baez.

    To clarify before anyone FLIPS OUT, I don't think ANYONE is being traded anytime soon, but if there was going to be a surprise, I would thing Baez would be the guy.

    #1 he's not a Theo/Jed guy. In pretty much every sport, whenever a new GM is brought in, there is always a strong preference towards their own draft picks.

    #2 Because he's not a Theo/Jed guy, he doesn't play by their philosophy. They're already trying to make Castro hack less. Another hacker for a guy that worships at the altar of OBP will be odd for our FO.

    #3 His value is shy-high. Sure we like Vogy and Alcantara, but the truth is they really have very minimal value in a trade outside. Baez would have Wil Myers -like value

    Again, I'm not saying I think Baez will be traded. I don't think anyone is moving. But to me, Baez is more likely than one would usually assume.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I wouldn't rule that out for the right deal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They wouldn't trade Baez cause he isn't a theo/Jed guy. Castro isn't a theo or Jed guy either.

  • I'm WAY looking forward to your prospect list! As I've said before - they're my favorite. I like to make them too. I sat down the other day and the first 10 were easy. After that, man... I was struggling where to put people. Lots of depth, but difficult to know how to order people.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Thanks! And it does get difficult after the first 8 or 9. The differences between prospects get much smaller after that.

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    When theo said he doesnt think he'll have the ability to add multiple impact Fa I didnt take that as a financial problem. I took it as there simply aren't as many impact players hitting FA anymore and even less that are still in their prime. That time has passed. Most "impact" players in FA nowadays will be a year or two from declining but command 4yr+ contracts which we want to stay away from.

    How I saw it anyway.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think that's the main thing. I think it's possible there are constraints but a) I don't think it will stop them from getting a guy they really want and 2) I don't think they would have spent big even if they had lots of money. Who to spend it on?

  • Question re: Baez: How long does a transition take to move from SS to 3B? In other words, if/when they finally move Baez over to 3B, how long do they usually need to give a player to make that adjustment?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Depends on the player. Machado for Baltimore stepped right in at 3rd and has been playing great defense.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    How does blowing AA apart make one Derek Jeter?

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Bloomie--I'm not sure how you read that into my post. I was simply wondering how long the switch might take since Theo mentioned that Baez would be switched off SS. Never made any comparisons or even implied that he was a savior. A simple question is all...

    Kansas--I totally get that it's all dependent on the player, but I was wondering what the "usual" or "average" time for the switch might be. Two weeks? A month?

  • Once Baez is knocking on the door to MLB. How will the cubs make a move. Once Baez bat is ready how wil we work ppl at a different spot?

  • The consensus here is that the answer to all questions is Baez. I disagree.

  • John I want to know how they decide a war stat? How can they predict if a person saved a run or lead to more runs? I am not buying into the war as a stat to determine a players value. There are other stats and ways to determine how valuable a player is beside war.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    That's a whole other article, but it involves more OBP and slugging than stuff like RBIs, if that's what you're asking.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for helping with that. I would love to learn all about it. Seems so complex to keep track of.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You saw my previous post on the yesterday's thread when I talked about it with Welly, Posey and Molina right? That was a general explanation but I'm guessing you want something more specific?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    For catchers they can do block balls and pass balls. But how for a infielder or an outfielder?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Try this link it's pretty straightforward and it's somewhat general but it gives you a good idea.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks..... Looked at it. Seems like a lot of math and numbers.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Oh yes ;)

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    looks like Mrs Hoosierdaddy is going into the pie business:

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I love pie...

  • The Cubs only need one of Alcantara, Olt or Villanueva to work out. You then move Baez to whichever of 2B or 3B is unfilled based on those three guys. If by chance more than one of them pan out, you make a trade. Easy.

    Frankly, I don't know how the Cubs will get him since the bidding competition is going to be fierce, but this team really REALLY needs Tanaka, that is the key. Bring in one stop-gap FA OF to help the team until Bryant and Soler arrive in 2015. Bring in another flip-candidate, buy-low veteran SP for next year. Call it an off-season.

  • Seems like a lot of ppl think a trade will happen. Isn't it possible that Baez and Castro can be in the infield and in the line up at the same time?
    The fact that they haven't moved one of them yet a sign that one will get traded?
    How will they work the position change? Once they decide Baez bat is ready how will the determine who gets moved and to where? Then will they let that person play in minors at the new spot?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Yes. In fact, having both in the lineup may be the most likely scenario.

  • I think that is a good line up. If Castro can be like Matt carpenter and Baez can be a 25 hr guy.....that is exciting.

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    OT, but I think Rusin is showing that he really isn't a rotation piece. His command just has to be perfect to get by, and perfect is really tough. When he leaves a pitch up like he did to Halton, it gets hammered. He doesn't have the FB or secondaries to really make it at the ML level long-term. He's probably a nice guy and all, but just doesn't have the gift.

    He has some value as a guy you can call-up, and when he runs out of options he'll need to either convert to a LOOGY or hit the bricks. I bet on the latter.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    True, but I think that's kind of what you get from a lot of 5th starters. You'll get some good and some bad. Could see him with an ERA in the 4.25-4.50 range. Just a guy, but probably not special.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No chance as a long relief guy? Or lefty specialist?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'll say something nice: He's better than Casey Coleman, Justin Germano, and that Berken guy, can't remember his name. He would be our #3 starter in the rotation that finished last year for us

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Maybe, but he probably has a shot at next year's rotation. He hasn't pitched too badly before today. I'd rather Arrieta or another pitcher with higher upside wins that spot, but so far Rusin has outpitched him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think that's what it will come down to. Rusin will have to "consistently" blow them away by out performing a guy like Arrieta. Let's face it, if they see some progress with Arrieta, they'll give him every chance to succeed or fail as a starter. He has a #2 upside, unfortunately, he is also eerily similar to Kyle Farnsworth. I don't think Rusin can beat out Arrietta, but I wouldn't bet against Arrieta beating Arrieta....

    Either way, Rusin has some value and if he doesn't make the rotation out of ST, should be on the shuttle from Iowa for spot starts &/or medical replacement.... Long term, he probably ends up a long relief or swing man.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really love the way he pitches to contact, and he's a worker. The modern game is terra incognita to me. When I became a fan, starters were expected to finish and there were usually only 4. Games lasted 2 hours.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    My dad always tells me about games that were just before my time -- matches between Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins that were done in less than an 2 hours. I didn't get to see Fergie (other than maybe a few games with Texas when he pitched against the Sox) until his second stint with the Cubs. I guess a modern example of a fast worker would be Mark Buehrle. Maybe that's what Rusin can shoot for.

  • John... In your corner outfield article did I miss lake and Sweeney as options?

  • I don't know what Sveum's ultimate fate is with this team, but I would be very surprised if Theo let's him go. This team is still rebuilding, clearly, and it just isn't time to switch. Yes, the performance from the core (Rizzo, Castro, Large Mardj) are short of fantastic, but I'm not sure that can all go on Sveum. I think fan expectations of these players are fueling much of the frustration. I also think it's typical, cynical Cub fan fashion to fret so much over those three and never give Sveum any credit for a couple of very big positives: Travis Wood and Welington Castillo. On aggregate I find in-game managerial decision making to be almost a complete wash from manager to manager, and Dale is no different. Assessing "the core's" progress is complicated and I don't see the FO being ready to drop the hammer on Sveum yet.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    I surely hope you are wrong.

  • Progress? Shutout again. They lose to to lohse tomorrow, they will be 15-35 since July 28. That is a .300 win% over almost s third of a season. That's 48-114 over a season.

  • an army is only as good as its General. The Army Of Northern Va was far superior man to man than the Army Of the Potomac at Gettyburg but Meade lured the gray fox in . Fate of a country sealed. Sveum is Sickels in a baseball uniform.

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    Couple thoughts-

    I can live with Castro making changes that will make him better in the future but the development of Barney is a real black mark on Sveum.

    Samardzija is too competitive to stay here if we continue to suck.

    I think Vitters will stick as an outfielder-still like him.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Like the idea of Vitters as a RH platoon corner OF'er. With 3 lefty OF'ers in the mix, that's his best shot.

  • Do agents have ant effect on position changes. Switching Baez from SS and Bryant to LF would cost them a ton of money down the road. You hear of agents trying to influence innings for pitchers, wonder what the blowback from position change could be if they truly believe they are the best at that position.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    Maybe once they're established MLB'ers, but they really have no say and no leverage at this point. But if Baez and Bryant hit as hoped, they're going to get paid big no matter where they play. I would think if you're an agent, you want your player in the majors with a chance to hit arbitration and free agency. Position is a secondary concern

  • John you'd better go 40 deep. The Cubs system is so stacked, I couldn't even fit Pineyro, Neil Ramirez, Encarnacion in my top 30.

    I think there's a solid chance the Cubs end up with 8 or 9 on some top 100 lists. Beyond the big 4. Edwards and Alcantara, should be on everyone's top 100. A solid chance of Pierce and Olt making it to the back of quite a few. And I think Vogelbach and Candelario have shots of making a couple top 100.

  • We have few months to wait for whatever transpires. I'm not counting on any minor leaguers until the show that they can play in the bigs. I'm not nearly as excited as any of you here. I've been through this BS 58 times

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