Thoughts on Tanaka speculation and how financial concerns are affecting the Cubs this offseason

If you are like me, at some point in your life you have laid on your back and stared up at the clouds.  After a while, we start to see images in those clouds.  We do this because our big brains try to make sense of the combinations of shadow and light.  It fills in the gaps by perceiving an image that is familiar to us.

I am no different.

Similarly, in the absence of complete information, we are left to speculate, so we try to make sense of it, but not everyone perceives the same information the same way.

So I will give you my perception.  You can give me yours in the comments section.

To me, this is what’s happening when we look at both the Tanaka speculation and the Cubs apparent financial constraints.

Should he stay or should he go?

There is much speculation on the fate of Masahiro Tanaka lately.  I’ve given up on Google Translate to try and make sense of the meaning behind articles written in Japanese.  And even if I could make sense of it, the information changes so rapidly that it makes little sense to try and keep up.  Let  me save you the trouble of following Twitter.  It goes something like this…

News: Ratuken is not going to post Tanaka

Update: Ratuken is going to post Tanaka

Update #2:  No decision has been made yet

I’m going to go with Update #2.

There are undoubtedly internal discussions within the Ratuken organization.  There are undoubtedly discussions between Tanaka and Rakuten.

What to make of it?

Well, I see Ratuken as having made a financial calculation internally which goes something like this: the cost of keeping Tanaka vs. the cost of letting him go.  I imagine they are offering him a raise in a good faith effort to get him to stay, but they will only go so far.  At some point the cost of paying Tanaka a high salary plus the lost opportunity to make $20M in posting fees will be too great to make good business sense.  On the other hand, letting him go could be a lost opportunity in terms of drawing revenue.  There has to be a balance there and I’m sure Ratuken has decided on a line that they will not cross.

So Ratuken is likely going to offer an amount that still makes financial sense to them and then the ball will be in Tanaka’s court.

Door #1: Does he take the smaller raise and keep his family in Japan?

Door #2: Does he take a raise that is certain to be larger while fulfilling his dream to play in the MLB?

My guess is he chooses Door #2 in that situation.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of whether Ratuken will let him go if Tanaka does indeed decide to reject their offer.  The final decision is theirs and theirs alone.  So you have to believe one of two responses from Ratuken in that situation…

  1. Tanaka says “No thanks” and Ratuken counters with saying, “Too bad, you’re staying anyway” whether that is  for just one year or until he becomes a free agent in 2 years.
  2. Tanaka says, “No thanks” and Ratuken says something PR-ish like, “Well, we did what we could to keep him but ultimately we aren’t going to stop him from pursuing his dream or even greater financial security for him and his family”.

Again, I’m going with Door #2 on this one.  I think if they were going to keep him no matter what they wouldn’t bother offering him a raise, they probably just wouldn’t post him.  If he says no to the raise what would they do?  Give it to him anyway and keep him or rescind the offer and keep him?  Neither makes sense to me when they could simply choose to not post him without negotiating at all.

But hey, that’s my interpretation, yours could be different.

Lost in the supermarket

Patrick Mooney wrote an excellent article on how Theo Epstein would spend.  Once again, when it come to the Cubs finances, we are dealing with incomplete information, so we need to fill in the gaps again.  We could perceive the Cubs not spending as:

  • They would love to spend more money but they can’t spend what they do not have
  • They would love to spend, just not on what is out there and available
  • They would love to spend on what is out there and available but not at the cost of long term assets and payroll flexibility given where the team is now.

There is some gray area here, of course, and perhaps some overlap.  The consensus seems to be that the Cubs spending doesn’t necessarily mean they have to go for the 9 figure contract guys.  And most agree the Cubs would spend on an in-prime, impact level player that doesn’t cost them any long term assets  (i.e. a draft pick) or doesn’t result in decreasing value just when the Cubs are ready to win.  That describes Tanaka.  As Mooney states,

Of course, Tanaka makes perfect sense if the Rakuten Golden Eagles let him leave Japan. The 25-year-old right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season. But everyone’s looking for pitching and prime-age players.

And then Theo says something revealing in the very next paragraph,

“You need two different kinds of currency: Massive amounts of payroll flexibility and/or a surplus of quality young players.”

These are the Cubs biggest assets right now.  So you have to ask yourself, do you give that up for a short term fix like Ubaldo Jimenez?  Jimenez would cost a draft pick and it’s likely his peak performance years will be over by the time the Cubs are ready to contend.  So while the Cubs have payroll flexibility now, should they risk giving that up by signing Jimenez to a 4 or 5 year deal when that contract may not provide value and flexibility at the back end — the precise time when the Cubs will need it most?

I don’t think so.

The same argument would apply for guys like Choo, Ellsbury, or any number of free agents, particularly those that entail losing a draft pick.  That brings us to another question.

Would Theo still spend if it cost them a draft pick even if he had the money…and even if the team was in contention?

It’s hard to say.  Several contending teams haven’t signed free agents, including Theo’s old team, the Boston Red Sox, who we assume maintain a similar philosophy with virtually all of the same front office still left from Theo’s time there.

If we say no on free agents attached to a comp pick, that rules out a lot of difference-making options right off the bat.  And when you consider the team is not in contention, it would seem to make even less sense.

In what is expected to be a deeper draft this year, the Cubs will have a high 2nd round pick that will likely be in the 40-50 range.  That is about the place where they selected Pierce Johnson two years ago.

Would you trade Pierce Johnson for Ubaldo Jimenez or Curtis Granderson when their biggest impact will likely come in the next two years?  Who would you rather have in 3-4 years?  Pierce Johnson or Curtis Granderson?

I have my answer and you can probably guess what that is.

Now there are plenty of free agents available that do not involve losing a draft pick, most notably former Cub Matt Garza.  But Garza isn’t coming back here.  Trust me on that one.

There were also possibilities like Scott Kazmir, Josh Johnson, Roberto Hernandez, and Ricky Nolasco.  They wouldn’t have cost a draft pick and thus explains why the Cubs pursued at least two of those players (Johnson, Hernandez).  Meanwhile Kazmir got a nice offer from a contending team with a big ballpark and Nolasco was given more money than most teams, including the Cubs, would be willing to give him anyway.  The Cubs aren’t the only team who sees some value in signing such players but regardless of available resources, there is a limit on how much they should spend on such players.

It’s worth it to lose some payroll flexibility for Tanaka…but does it also make sense for someone like Nolasco given where the team is right now?

Again, I think you know my answer.

There is the loss of some payroll flexibility and some considerable risk with any free agent, especially pitchers.  Now is not the time to take that risk and lose flexibility when the big payoff could be 3 wins above replacement level.

If the Cubs were a better team generating more revenue than that risk could well be worth it.  But they are not a contending team and they won’t be drawing that extra revenue — not yet anyway.  When that happens, which could be as soon as next season, then I think the Cubs will be able to afford taking those risks. You can gamble and lose when you have a better foundation of MLB talent and higher streams of revenue.

To very loosely paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright,

Good teams can always bury their mistakes, rebuilding teams have to cover them with ivy.

So as painful as it is and how we have become weary of hearing it as Cubs fans,  we will have to wait.

I don’t know how long that will be, but what if all the revenue issues are resolved mid-season?  What if the Cubs are performing above expectations and appear to have something to build on?

Then you can see the Cubs taking on salary, perhaps at the deadline, but certainly by the next offseason.  But whether the Cubs surprise or not in 2014, the expected increase in revenue alone is enough reason to spend next offseason.

So yeah, I do believe the Cubs can spend.  I also believe they have limitations, some financial, and some self-imposed because it doesn’t make sense in the long term.  There is more to lose than to gain at this point even with mid-level free agents.

So why not wait until their situation favors taking such risks?

I think you know my answer, so I ask you for your interpretation. What images do your perceive in these clouds that hang over Wrigley Field?

Filed under: Uncategorized


Leave a comment
  • Great article as always John! In Keith Law's chat today, there were a few Cubs questions.

    Is Junior Lake an everyday OF'er?

    "Wishful thinking. I would trade him for a half-decent pitching prospect in a heartbeat."

    Does Kris Bryant's K rate worry you, or is it too early?

    "That feels to me like looking for something to worry about. He could punch out 150 times a year in the big leagues and still be an MVP candidate."

    Will Baez replace Castro at SS?

    "I think Baez will be a better shortstop than Starlin, if given the chance. But I also think if Castro doesn't hit, and take an occasional pitch, it won't matter at all where he plays."

  • In reply to Ryno23:


    Law doesn't like Lake and he has much invested in his failure (the definition of which he changes every time Lake surpasses expectations), so it's hard for me to take him all that seriously. Not that I disagree, but an opinion on Junior Lake from Keith Law means little to me.

    I do, however, have more interest in what he has to say about Bryant, Castro, and Baez -- and for the most part, I agree there.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    exactly (regarding Lake). Law has laid out his position on Lake in granite and simply can't go back on it now. It is what it is, take Law's opinion as a single data point among many.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I was far more offended by Law referring to Jerome Holtzman as "an overrated writer" than by anything he said about Lake.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    He's on a crusade against saves and chopping off the heads of the unwashed masses who value them -- and Holtzman is the source of his angst as their de factor leader, since he had the audacity to invent them. We get it, Keith. Saves have little to no worth in analyzing a pitchers value, most of us would agree with him on that. But I don't know how he expects to win over anybody by criticizing the writing skills of it's inventor or implying that everyone who believes saves have value are mouth-breathing imbeciles.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    It is the same with Law's position on Vogelbach's defense. He started out declaring that he was a DH ONLY, and reports of his performance as being better than that are dismissed out of hand.

    It is always a good bet to declare that a prospect will fail, especially if he is in A ball, since the vast majority of A ball prospects WILL fail. The odds are in your favor. But that is not quite the same as declaring failure because of the facts set before you.

    Lake may well fail. But he has already performed far better than Law (and I) thought he ever would.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Lake has been criticized since the Cubs signed him for $500,000. According to his detractors, I think he was supposed to be a pitcher by now.

    That said, I'm a little bit surprised at how he's played at the upper levels so far as well as his brief stint in the majors.

    But the bottom line to me is that I don't think you can ever completely rule out special athletes like Lake -- especially so early in his pro career. Sometimes things just click and it appears to have happened to Lake --at least to some degree. We'll see if he can continue to improve but nothing in Lake's history says he can't.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I have never understood the K Law hate or the J Lake love on these boards.

    Lake hit .284 with an absolutely insanely, unsustainable high BABIP, and he doesn't walk.

    He's a great athlete, yes. But athleticism doesn't always equate to talent.

    Sorry I'm not sorry, but I agree with Law about Lake.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Is there really Junior Lake love? Not from our end. I've always pegged him as an intriguing guy to have on the bench. If that's love, then I love a ton of prospects. And we are always quick to praise Law when he does good work, but we'll criticize when I think he's full of it.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Junior Lake is 23 years old. You yourself say he has great athletacism.

    So he had a high BABIP, so what? Would it have been better if he failed? BABIP by definition is partly luck.

    Is Lake a finished product? No, but nobody is saying he is. I am saying he is a talented young kid who has succeeded despite all the prognostication by those such as Law. It's a small sample size. He still has a lot to prove, but he held his own in a small sample in the Majors. Does that mean he is going to be an all-star, of course not, but it certainly does not mean that he sucks and that he can never be anything more than "insert your random projection" as Law would have you believe.

    Law is already way wrong on Lake. In Law's world, Lake should still be struggling in A ball, but he's not, he's holding his own as a 23 year old in the Major Leagues while many his same age ARE still in the minors (even if he did need a little luck to do it in his first cup of coffee)

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:


  • In reply to Ryno23:

    Keith law is a Hack.

    He is a good example of what brown nosing, plagiarism, and a cut-throat willingness to do everything and anything can do a for a person that is willing to lose their soul to get ahead... pretty far actually...

    Their are still whispers wondering exactly what kind of "favors" Law performed at those winter meeting for Blue Jays' general manager J. P. Ricciardi to get himself hired as "Consultant" to baseball ops... but that's another story...which is inappropriate for these boards. ;-)

  • I don't see anyone out there in free agency that fits the Cubs time line, except Tanaka of course. I would say they have a long range plan and as painful as it is to watch sometimes, stick to the plan and hold tight.

  • In reply to peoria cubfan:

    I see it the same way...there were a couple of guys out there but there is a limit both on how much they have to spend and how much they would want to spend given the Cubs current situation.

    It really limits them this offseason but I believe the handcuffs will come off by next offseason at the latest.

  • Fantastic stuff, as always John.

    As I was reading the piece, I kept waiting for the part about the details of the Zell/Ricketts deal. I know much of it may be speculation, but it seems to me that it is every bit as important, if not more so, than all the valid points you covered. My question then is this: How much of the Cubs present spending strategy is connected to the restraints of the debt they assumed in the acquisition? It's my feeling that an analysis of present day Cubs FO spending decisions must absolutely consider this question.

  • In reply to JB55:

    Thanks. I don't think I know enough about the Zell/Ricketts deal to comment on those specifics intelligently. And even if I did have that info, I think those with an expertise in finance could probably make more sense of it than I could.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    That never stops Gordon Wittenmeyer.

  • To very loosely quote Jean-Paul Sartre, Hell is 78 wins.
    /Stay the course, Theo.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    That is very loose indeed :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I thought we were playing the 'misquote famous authors' game. I've got some doozies for Hemingway.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I am playing the loosely paraphrase the famous architect game that have vague tie-ins with the team itself. So the real Frank Lloyd Write quote is,

    Doctors can bury their mistakes, architects have to cover them with ivy.

    with the metaphor in my paraphrased quote being that the Cubs will have to cover their mistakes with ivy, which I see as symbolic of the so-called "Wrigley Field experience" Then you have the architect and the rebuilding connection...ohh, the layers and depth entailed in just that one paraphrased quote!!

    Okay...maybe that's a bunch of b.s. :)

  • In reply to Eddie:

    eddie - it may be even more eloquent to write that hell has been owning season tickets for the Cubs these last 4 years. But...I get your point. The Blackhawks certainly proved that no matter how depressed a fan base may get, they come right back with a vengance at first sniff of a winner.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    So true. Which is why it will be all the more sweet for those of us who kept paying attention when they do finally win. I think the excitement generated by the young guys will bring fans back as soon as 2014. Not sure about others, but I would go to watch a crappy team with great young talent.

  • Good acrticle, John! (as always)

    For me, it comes down to Tanaka. If they make a serious run at him (and by serious, I man offering him money that SHOULD get him whether he actually takes it or signs with someone else due to geography/championship opportunities) I will continue to fully believe the lack of spending at the major league level is due to not liking the products rather than not wanting to spend.

    However, they can't just make a token offer and miss by almost 50% (like they did on Darvish) and expect us to believe they are serious. While there are reasons the belt is a bit tighter than it could be, we are much closer to the Red Sox/Yankees than the Royals/Marlins in terms of revenue and spending ability. I am all for spending smart, but that doesnt mean Cubs fans will tolerate top 5 ticket prices and bottom 5 production forever.

    Signing Tanaka will go a long way to assuaging many doubts about the real reason for the lack of spending.

  • In reply to 104YearsofGlory:

    Thanks. Darvish was far off but they were much closer on Ryu and they did win on Soler. I think they'll have a bid more similar to Ryu in terms of making a serious competitive bid.

    And agreed that if the Cubs win the Tanaka sweepstakes -- or are at least seriously involved in the chase, then I will have far less doubts that the Cubs will be able to spend when the opportunity arises.

  • In reply to 104YearsofGlory:

    Isn't that exactly what they proved with their pursuit of Anabel Sanchez?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Well going for Sanchez was good, but making a play for ONE guy last year isn't too reassuring if:
    1. you finished with 66 wins,
    2. the 3rd worst offensive team and
    3. most of the up-to-date signings for 2014 are bargain "hope they turn-it-around" type signings (good signings to complement your team, but not to depend on)

    John makes a good point about the Ryu bid and signing Soler which all helps build confidence and faith with the FO. The An. Sanchez pursuit was a pleasant surprise, to be sure, but Tanaka is pretty much the HOLY GRAIL in terms of what Theo/Hoyer/Ricketts say they are willing to spend big on. It's not that signing Tanaka is important because they are spending, but rather that they will spend whatever it takes when there is an opportunity to improve the club without hurting future potential.

  • John - great article but is your Pierce Johnson comparison really the fairest way to test this debate? Pierce Johnson today is not the Pierce Johnson that they drafted 20 months ago. He's proven a lot since then hasn't he? My guess is that if Pierce were in this year's draft, he would go in the 1st Round, maybe in the middle rounds? Am I way off?

    Does not change the way I would answer the question. Take Ubaldo Jimenez as a starting point. Would I give up the potentially 40th pick in the draft for him? All depends on how much the contract costs. Theo has said that great players' on average continue to produce through their age 32 years. So if you can get Jimenez for 4/$64M and no no trade clause - then I would strongly consider giving up the 40th pick in draft for that. If he's productive in Year 2 of that contract, then all of a sudden he's worth lots more in trade than a top 40 pick anyway.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Johnson was widely considered a top 25 pick until the forearm strain. Then some had him slipping out of the top 3 rounds.... Chalk that one up to good scouting and evaluating medicals.

    Not a fan of signing Jiminez. You would propose we give up $64M+, plus a top 40 draft pick for a guy who grades out a (2.9 - Steamer) (1.8 - Oliver) WAR player who is likely to decline given his age, 6+ years of 176+ innings pitched and oh btw... he out pitched his peripherals last year - his contract year. No thanks!

    The point is, who would you rather have in 2-3 years when we are competitive? A young SP in P Johnson who is about to hit his stride, or an old, declining Jiminez?.... $64M+ and a top 40 pick for an extra 2 wins a year....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think that if Jimenez puts up numbers close to what he did last year, than the Cubs have themselves a far more valuable trade chip next offseason than what a random #40 pick in this year's draft (note - they won't be able to draft Pierce Johnson next year so quit saying he's part of the equation here) brings.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    It's the equivalent of a Pierce Johnson level pick. He's an example of what you can do with a pick in that range. 2nd round picks have much more value than you think, especially when this is expected to be a deeper draft than last year. You say they can trade Jimenez and get a better prospect. I say you get a 2nd round pick and he'll almost certainly reach the prospect level -- that in turn can be used as trade bait to trade for an established mid-level salaried guy when they actually need one to contend rather than just to add a couple of meaningless wins.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - I think a #40 pick is extremely valuable. I also think that Pierce Johnson is a LOT more valuable than the #40 pick in next year's draft.

    Theo made a steal last year for 2 month's of Matt Garza - did the Cubs do better than a #40 pick in that trade in your opinion?

    You know - I just threw out Ubaldo's name as one of the remaining free agents. He may ultimately not be that great a pitcher, but all I was writing is that IF the Cubs thought this guy could be a #2 starter for the next 2-3 years, it's worth signing him if they have flexibility with his contract and the dollars not exorbinant.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    I don't think anyone thinks he's a #2 starter.... $64M+ AND a draft pick, is about $30M+ AND a draft pick too much! Which is kind of the point... You can't say they should sign somebody when the argument against it is there IS nobody worth signing... You used Jiminez as your poster boy for your point and suggested he worth that ridiculous amount. Theo & Jed wouldn't be in office if there plan to rebuild an entire organization included spending an extra $64M+ giving up a top pick for 2 extra wins a year. That makes absolutely no sense.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    See link below - Dave Schoenfeld of ESPN wrote one month ago that Jimenez (my "poster boy") has #1 or #2 potential. So that's one guy that disproves your point, and since you said nobody thinks that, I believe I win the argument. Yeah for me.

    Now on the size of the contract - I concede to you Hoosier D that I overshot. I think the draft pick will weigh down his options. What if the contract were 3 years and $40M? Would that make you even willing to consider giving up the #40 pick? Is there any thresshold that would make you get involved for Jimenez or Ervin Santana?

    I actually think this is a fun and fair argument so won't think you're an idiot if you say no.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    So you found 1 "sports writer" saying he has "the potential to be" and then immediately saying "he's a risk to fall back into the mechanical nightmares of recent seasons"... is not exactly a resounding endorsement for a #2. Yet you want to make him our highest paid player and give up a pick for something with similar production that Epstoyer has been very successful signing off the scrap heap....

    I'd rather have FELDMAN! for the 3yr-$30M (which is too much) without the pick vs Jiminez for 3-$40 with the pick. The reality is neither one will be part of the core when we are ready to compete in 2016/2017... so why remove the payroll flexibility? Why pay that kind of $$$ and lose a draft pick when we are rebuilding? Why not just sign Baker or some other SP on the cheap like we have done year in and year out.

    Sorry Charlie, but just because you found one writer speaking about Jiminez's potential doesn't add any validity to your stance. Which in your original post was contingent on *size of contract.... now you're conceding you over shot that and trying to back off and proclaim some victory, when you're the only one competing for anything. The spirit of the article was on maintaining payroll flexibility. You would rather they throw the money away for an average player that won't help us win anything meaningful, and will likely end up preventing us from having the ability to sign someone who might help us....

    Yeah pal... relish your victory. All I can say is thank god we have Epstoyer calling the shots instead of Charlieboy.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    You convinced me Hoosier D. You're right - I'm wrong. Merry Christmas

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    How do you know? How do you know that pick won't turn out to be even more valuable than Johnson? At any rate, it doesn't matter, all draft picks inherently have value and the more of them you have, the more value you collect.

    There's not a pitcher on this list for which I would trade a pick, that yes, could well turn out to be as good as Pierce Johnson in 2 years.

    Garza was not a trade piece they had to buy for 4-5 years and 60M+. And that kind of return doesn't usually happen for 2 months of a player. Signing and trading Jimenez is more like the Edwin Jackson signing in that you'll have to give him at least 4 years and good money to get him here, then hope he performs, stays healthy, and keeps his value until at least the trade deadline How much do you think the Cubs could get for Edwin Jackson and how much would they have to pay of his remaining salary? It's likely you'll still have to pay a good chunk of his salary if you want to get better prospects. It seems like more of risky, financially inefficient, circuitous route to bet on getting prospects, which themselves are a bet. More efficient to simply save the money and collect the pick, especially since adding Jimenez or any other similar pitcher doesn't significantly improve the team's chances to contend in the next 2 years anyway.

    Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but if it doesn't and you're stuck with a 4 years of a guy you no longer want, that's a lot of money and payroll space used up that you could have used to acquire players later.

    Why wouldn't you wait until the organization is better equipped to take those kinds of risks?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    After all the back-and-forth posts between you and the others, I think I can summarize my disagreement to 2 basic points:

    - very technical and very minor, Pierce Johnson is significantly more valuable than next year's #40 draft pick. I don't think that's debateable and since you have not tried to debate the point I assume you agree. So I come down to that losing the #40 pick would be painful, but much less painful than losing Pierce Johnson which is how you framed the debate (ie - much like Yady Molina at framing pitches, you are a good "debate" framer John)

    - on the money side - I have never agreed with Gordon Wittenmeyer. I believe the Cubs have money to spend, and when I look at next year, the Cubs will have a set pot of money (about $12M) to spend on the draft and are very restricted in what they can spend on IFA's. This team has very few commitments so I believe they can handle the financial risk associaed with taking a flyer on a free agent as long as the committment not too long and flexible. It would not hamstring the Cubs significantly given how low their payroll and future payroll committments are right now. If Edwin Jackson pitches like he did in 2011, I think they could get a nice package back for him at this trade deadline that would maybe would exceed the current value of Rob Zastryzny.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Your "point" about Pierce Johnson is nonsensical.

    Pierce Johnson was the #43 pick in the 2012 draft. If you really can't see how picking at #40 in a super deep draft like this year would net you the same type of comparable prospect, then it's a lost cause.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    GhostDawg -I'm sorry my point was non-sensical to you. I tried very hard to have it make sense. My apologies and Happy Holidays to you.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    You still don't get it, the only reason that you are adamantly opposed to giving away Pierce Johnson (the #43 pick in the draft) to sign a pitcher but are fine with giving away the #40 draft pick this year to do the same is that you have the benefit of hindsight and know how Johnson turned out, but if the Cubs would have listened to people such as yourself in 2012 than we would have never had Pierce Johnson in the first place.
    Also how do you know that the player that the Cubs take with the pick won't be better than Johnson, you don't because none of us are psychic, that's why a good Front Office sets a plan and sticks to it. So when the plan is to acquire as many young talented assets as possible in the short term you don't deviate from that plan by giving away the 40th pick in deep draft just so you can overpay for a pitcher like Jimenez.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    He gets it. He just has a different opinion, that's all.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Charlieboy:

    I'm not being intentionally difficult here: If I had to choose any one of the five players, I would pick Pierce Johnson. He's a kid whose body can handle the workload and easily projects as a middle of the rotation starter -- Anibal Sanchez would be a good upside comparison.

    All the prospects we got from the Rangers come with big question marks. Even the crown jewel, CJ Edwards, doesn't weight 170 pounds soaking wet. Builds that slim tend towards injury.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think Theo and Jed agree, given its was CJ's name and video that was put in front of season ticket holders as the reason to be patient at the downtown event in November. But again - I totally agree that Pierce far more valuable to the Cubs than the #40 ish pick in next year's draft.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Pierce Johnson was used as to illustrate what you can do with a pick in the 40-50 range. Nobody is saying Pierce Johnson is worth a 2nd round pick as far as trading one for the other right now, but it's certainly possible that you can select a similar player and get a similar talent/value.

    Or let's put it this way, would you have signed a 31 year old Ubaldo Jimenez or whoever 2 years ago if it meant not drafting Pierce Johnson? And if you say no, now what's the difference? Hindsight? The fact that Johnson is now more of a known quantity?

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    To John as could not reply directly to last question - I can't take hindsight out of this so all I can say is I would be happy if the Cubs chose to sign a 30 year old Jimenez this offseason as long as the dollars were reasonable and the contract flexible, and I would be willing to give up the #40 pick with full knowledge that could pick could turn into Pierce Johnson or Rob Zastryzny or someone else. I say that because we have lots of payroll space available this year and next several years, and I would be betting that Jimenez could be flipped for something more valuable than a #40 pick in 1-2 years, or that the Cubs will surprise and be competitive and he would be a valuable part of our rotation that we'd want to keep.

    Thanks for the debate John. Merry Christmas.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    No rebuilding team has really attempted to sign multi-year contracts with the specific purpose to trade for prospects except for maybe the Marlins, who brought in Mark Beuhrle and Jose Reyes only to trade them a year later (and even then I'm not sure they planned it, I think they really thought they could win), so it's not just the Cubs. Just doesn't seem to be a worthwhile strategy for any rebuilding team.

    Anyway, we can agree to disagree. Merry Christmas!

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    It doesn't matter where Pierce Johnson would go in the draft today. The point is that this FO recognized the talent this kid had and with the 40th pick in the draft, they nabbed what is now a fringe top 100 prospect in baseball. This isn't the first time this FO has done this - in past 2nd rounds with Boston, they've drafted Pedroia, Lester, and Justin Masterson.

    There's a trend here - this FO can finds talent that others don't in this round of the draft

  • In reply to JasonB:

    Of course it matters - becuase the scenario John proposes is that for the Cubs to sign one of these Free Agents, they would have to surrender Pierce Johnson. Would you trade Pierce Johnson for the #40 pick in this year's draft? By your logic - they are absolutely the same player so who cares?

    It's perfectly reasonable to say you don't want the Cubs giving up the #40 pick in the draft because you trust Theo inherently. I don't think the #40 pick in the draft is quite the sure thing you make it out to be - even with Theo being the one making the pick.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    You will be getting a Pierce Johnson comparable talent with the #40 pick - a young kid with good stuff, but with a flaw that keeps him from being a top 10 pick (size, injury history, signability, etc.)

    Nobody is saying that a team is ACTUALLY trading Pierce Johnson to sign the player.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Charlie - sorry, had to re-read your original comment.

    Interesting thought, at 4/64 as a 3 win pitcher, that's probably ) $10-$12 million of value over 2 1/2 years, and is certainly more valuable than the 40th pick in the draft. Question is - will he be that good for the next four years? Well, really the next two years since the Cubs would look to deal him. That one bad year sticks out, but outside of that, the results look good. Interesting way to look at it.

    Oh, to answer your other question, of course I wouldn't trade Johnson for the 40th pick. If I drafted him, developed him, and proved to the rest if MLB that he was more valuable than that, why would I give up that surplus value? You must have misunderstood something I said or I didn't explain it well enough. And while Ubaldo may be an interesting case to take this risk on, there aren't many who would fit that mold - for instance, someone like Granderson will probably have limited trade value in two years with his new contract, and in that case, I'd rather take the pick.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    It doesn't matter where Pierce Johnson would go in the draft today. The point is that this FO recognized the talent this kid had and with the 40th pick in the draft, they nabbed what is now a fringe top 100 prospect in baseball. This isn't the first time this FO has done this - in past 2nd rounds with Boston, they've drafted Pedroia, Lester, and Justin Masterson.

    There's a trend here - this FO finds talent that others don't in this round of the draft

  • It is sometimes painful to watch this team, but for the first time in my life I feel like the front office has a long range plan that will work and work very soon on the major league level. I for one don't want them to spend money that we will regret in two years. Spend smart!

  • fb_avatar

    I was just thinking about what next winter may look like. We will probably see Baez brought up by midseason. But possibly not if the Cubs are out of it by June again.

    But what if........

    What if Baez is in fact tearing it up at Iowa next year?

    What if Alcantara is right on pace as well in Iowa?

    What if Bryant get promoted to Iowa as well because AA proves to be no challenge after having a great short season in Arizona this past fall?

    What if Almora proves his promotion midseason to AA is warranted?

    What if Soler does prove he should be considered the #1 prospect in the system (something many thought he was just last Spring when Baez was struggling and Soler was injured)?

    Lots of what if's. But each one has it's own validity. Next off-season could see a lot more of the same types of moves this winter had. But with one caveat.... Our prospects will finally start to push their way into the starting lineup at Wrigley.

    One more year to wait before wave #1 makes it's appearance is not that long folks......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Even if Baez is tearing it up in AAA next year, I doubt that the Cubs FO brings him up to the Majors until they are positive that he won't fall into the dreaded top 22% of service time for rookies that year (Super 2) With the numbers people are expecting him to produce at a premium position, you don't want to to start that arbitration clock any sooner than you have to.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    So long as it happens after May 5th (Iowa's first visit to Nashville), I'm happy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    My problem with the argument that these guys should be brought up if they're "tearing it up" is that for many if our prospects, stats haven't been, and aren't the issue.

    If Baez is batting 330 but is still super aggressive, walking rarely and striking out often (not hard in the PCL) then the stat lines are irrelevant.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Yes to this. It matters more to the Cubs FO that he take ground in his individualized development plan, something that is laid out very clearly and discussed with each player, than whether he is crushing AAA pitching.

    Off topic, but he has been mentioned in this comment section, it is possible that CJ Edwards starts in High-A next season. He only faced 91 batters at that level. If/when he does move to AA, their rotation will extra exciting to follow. Pierce Johnson (22), C.J. Edwards (22), Corey Black (22), Ben Wells (21) and Ivan Pineyro (22) would all be young for the level with the exception of Johnson who turns 23 in May. I would be amazed if all of them of similar success to what they did at High-A given the jump between those two level is 2nd only to the jump to the majors. But if one or two of them thrive in AA, that's all the Cubs need.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I could be wrong but I think they are going to keep that group together from the start, especially since they kept pitching coach Storm Davis with the group when they just promoted him, and also because Edwards was dominant in the time that he was in daytona.

  • Nicely done John. I've just grown so tired of hearing about how cheap Ricketts is and there is no money, when the evidence suggests the exact opposite....

    Wake me up if we pass over an in prime FA that isn't ridiculously over priced and has no chance of ever living up to his contract.... oh and have his timeline fit with ours... If that happens, then I'll join in the Ricketts is cheap sentiment... Until then, it's hard to throw stones for going out of their way to do it differently with (hopefully) better long term results...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If Cubs Den has. Recommend feature, I'd give this one!

    Well said

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If Cubs Den has a recommend feature, I'd give this one!

    Well said

  • I bought in to Theo's rebuild plan on day one and continue to support that plan.
    Theo said early on that all he had to do was go to Tom and ask for money and it would be there. This was pre Wrigley renovation. The time for Theo to have that talk with Tom is not here yet.
    I don't care if the Cubs win a single game in 2014 - nothing worthwhile is going to happen until mid 2015 or later. Meanwhile why not rack up some high draft picks. Sorry bout the win comment but I have tunnel vision focused on 2015 and beyond.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jdale:

    While the w/l record doesnt concern me much if we arent going to make the playoffs, I do want a major league batting lineup to make sure our guys arent developing bad habits because of no protection. If rizzo has no protection he can start expanding his strike zone, look to much with his at bats, messing up his approach and seriously hurt his development. Not saying that will happen but having him bat between ruggiano and sweeney his first few years can do so harm.

  • Do like last year. At the Aug.1 deadline trade any veteran who do
    not fit our long term plans. Wait until after the 2014 season to start
    making big trades or sign Fa's. Don't give up a draft picks unless
    its for a player under 30 and no injuries history.

  • fb_avatar


    What are the chances that for two years the Cubs kind of stealthily got away with flipping short term assets and acquiring the types of returns they they have right under the noses of other clubs who seemed to fail at realizing the depth and value of those short term assets?

    I always thought if more teams were to try that approach it would drive up the cost of doing so, eliminating the Cubs and their more frugal approach to buying talent on the sidelines. When I look at the contracts we gave Feldman, Maholm, et al., and including the time value the Cubs got in contracted performances before trading them plus the talent received in return, why wouldn't other teams follow that model?

    To me that is the most significant aspect of this year's free agent pool.

    It seems to me that other teams have decided to copy the Cubs M.O. by leveling the playing field against the Cubs ability to corner the market of slightly better than serviceable players by forcing the market upward to a level of financial excess that became uncomfortable for the Cubs to compete for short term assets in the open market.

    Coming at a time when teams have significant increases in disposable spending thanks to increased revenues plus with larger samples of statistical data that prove that impact level contracts rarely produce impact level results, I think it created a demand surplus for marginal players, leaving the Cubs, for reasons that go without saying, unwilling to participate in what is now an overvalued pool of players in a market they have exploited in recent years.

    As a fan, it is pure agony to see the signings they've made this offseason, but going back to your article it makes perfect sense, I guess - if the cost to acquire marginal players now costs the kind of payroll flexibility that the Cubs refuse to give up, you have to lower your standards to fit in line with your operational budget for spending, i.e., Tommy Hottovy, Wesley Wright, George Kottaras.

    My guess is the Cubs are hoping to simply catch lightning in a bottle with these and similar signings in hopes of flipping lower financial commitments, rather than better than average players at below on below market contracts (which now no longer exist) for long term assets. I mean, it is a lot harder to trade for Grant Balfour than it is for Veras at the deadline thanks to the significant differences in their costs. If they don't pan out, the fixed cost of acquiring the types of players the Cubs have signed this year is negligible and doesn't interfere with the organization model.

    Sorry the post is so long. I just wanted to make sure I was theorizing this accurately.

    I still think this is a 100-loss team however.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think the Cubs want to keep cost-controlled pieces and other than maybe Veras, I don't see an acquired player they can flip for any value this year. They may have to cash in Samardzija if he doesn't want to sign.

    I agree with your interpretation they're hoping maybe to find a guy or two in the rubble. Maybe Sanchez pulls an Oliver Perez and reinvents himself. Maybe Arrieta from last season turns into a top 3 starter, maybe Strop becomes a closer...maybe someone like Vizcaino or Olt becoems a piece of the long term puzzle.

    If they can get a rebound from Rizzo and Castro and surplus value in return for Samardzija (via an extension or trade), see Castillo and Wood establish themselves as core guys and then pick up a couple more between this offseason and last, then I'm going to feel good about the team in 2015 regardless of their record in 2014.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    The thing is that if teams focus on the low-mid tier agents they are spending less on the top tier guys. At that point the value shifts back toward the more expensive guys. I don't really fall into the belief that y

  • In reply to beckdawg:

    Er... misclicked. Anyway, I don't really believe you can have a perfect equilibrium in markets like this. Take prospects for example. 20 years ago no one valued them. And then teams got smart and realized that often people were giving up way more than they should. However, we've now gotten to the point where almost the opposite is true. People don't value MLB players enough. Eventually people figure out how to exploit a market and the market shifts. But by doing so it creates new opportunities.

  • fb_avatar

    couple of thoughts:
    1) Ratuken has offered Tanaka 7.7 mil/year. A pitcher's career can vanish with one awkward curve ball. If he can get 12 -15 mil x 7-10 yrs in the US, all logic says he simply has to take it.
    2) one thing none of us here is probably knowledgable about is japanese culture , specifically the role of employer-employee loyalty. Does it still exist? Are the days when a company treated its employees like family, and vice versa, long gone? Even if not, does that culture even apply to high-stakes baseball? If Ratuken asked Tanaka to stay, never mind the monetary inducements, what are the cultural pressures to accept that offer - and the reverse, if he told his employer he wanted out, what is their cultural obligation to let him go?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Excellent thoughts SKMD, definitely a couple of things to contemplate.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    thanks john

  • fb_avatar

    "...Nolasco was given more money than most teams, including the Cubs, would be willing to give him anyway."

    I have no problem with the $ Nolasco was given. He has relatively low mileage on his arm and he's roughly an equivalent pitcher to EJax.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    Would you invest in another EJax?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I really wouldn't have a problem with it, no.

    I'm not that down on EJax. He didn't have a great year but his peripherals were decent for the most part. He had a better FIP & xFIP than Wood.

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    I'm not down on EJax either for those same reasons, but I do question adding a second mid-level guy that further reduces payroll flexibility when you can wait and see if you can get the same production from a starter already in the organization.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I really don't think the Nolasco contract would have any significant adverse effect on payroll flexibility. With very real prospect of Samardzija being traded in the next 7 months the Cubs are facing a rotation of Jackson, Wood and a whole mess of ?'s and their best pitching prospects (Johnson & Edwards) are two years away.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hell yes. Watch him post 3 WAR this season when the $/win is hovering North of $7 million. The Edwin Jackson contract is not bad.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Maybe the better question is: Would you use up your payroll flexibility for the next 4 years on a similar, but older pitcher that will cost you a draft pick?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, of course not. That would not be a sensible signing. EJ's signing was very sensible.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Yeah, EJax was a bad comparison on my part. I don't think there's an equivalent to him out there in terms of age, peripherals, stuff, and lack of compensation this year. But if there were such a player available, I'd be very interested in signing him. The closest is probably Garza, but that isn't going to happen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What is that you've heard re: Garza? I'm not dying to bring him back (concerned about injuries and decline), but does he hate the Cubs now or something?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    My question as well. That comment had a definite "tone" to it, unless I'm just overanalyzing.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Both of you guys were overanalyzing :) just stating that there really isn't any interest from either side at this point.

  • A money issue is that the Cubs are doing a $500million dollar rebuild and putting up all the money themselves. All the other teams in the NL Central received public financing.

    The Fox,ESPN, and TBS 8 year deals give teams $50 million per year. All the money gets thrown into the same pot but to keep thing simple consider 100% of this money going to the Wrigley rebuild.

    Then the cubs ability to expand payroll beyond $100million is going to be based upon their tv, radio, video screen and outside adverting rates.

    • Brewers: Miller Park
    • Owner: Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball District, Milwaukee Brewers
    • Cost: $382 Million (2001)
    • Naming Rights: Miller Brewing, $2.1 million/year through 2020
    -Public Financing: 66%: 1/10th cent tax increase
    -Private Financing: 34%: $90 million from Brewers
    • Red: Great American Ball Park
    • Owner: Hamilton County
    • Cost: $320 Million (2003)
    • Naming Rights: Great American Insurance, $2.5 million/year through 2033
    • -Public Financing: 82%: half cent sales tax increase
    -Private Financing: 18%: Reds
    • Pirates: PNC Park
    • Owner: City of Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority
    • Cost: $216 Million (2001)
    • -Naming Rights: PNC Bank, $2.2 million/year through 2020
    -Public Financing: 70% from state, county and city
    -Private Financing: 30%: $40million from the Pirates
    • Cardinals: Busch Stadium
    • Owner: St. Louis Cardinals
    • Cost: $344 Million (2006)
    • Naming Rights: Anheuser-Busch, 20 years contract through 2025
    • Public Financing: 12%: Loan from St. Louis County
    -Private Financing: 88%: $90.1 from Cardinals, $200.5 million bonds, naming rights agreement

  • John, just for the sake of clarity, why do you think the FO is against signing Garza? I actually don't think they'll sign him either, but I'm curious to hear your reasons. They did go after the two best pitchers on the market last year that didn't have compensation attached.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I like Garza, but he is a PR nightmare waiting to happen. The only way they re sign him is if it's contingent on him deleting his twitter or other social media sites...

  • Waiting the Tanaka thing out is frustrating but it helps if I keep reminding myself the every extra day that it stretches out, it is better for the Cubs. And as much as I want to see Tanaka in Cubbie blue this winter, the best result for the Cubs would be for him to post next year.

  • fb_avatar

    Man this Tanaka thing is quite a saga. He's getting posted, he isn't getting posted, is, isn't. So I'm not taking any of it seriously until it is officially announced. Raukten is in a similar spot to a small market MLB team. They have two years of team control left. The only difference is that they know their exact return from dealing him early. 20 million dollars. So if they keep him one more year they can post him for 20 million. Of course the risk is an injury or off year that lessens value. But after next season he can leave for nothing in 2015. So they are in a tough spot. I agree with you on Lake, Law has a real agenda there. Lake continues to work hard and improve. What more can you ask for?

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    You and me both. I'll be happy when the decision is reported and confirmed.

  • Great article. The Tanaka signing could pay dividends far beyond just adding a #1 or #2 starter to the club. First, Tanaka is the best option on the market for success this year and in the future. Second, winning in 2014 could be very important to the Cubs success in the years following. Third, signing Tanaka will increase the value of Samardzija.

    At 25 and a deal in the 6 to 7 year range upcoming, Tanaka is going to be in his prime with the MLB club that signs him. There is no one on the market today, or the next couple of years (assuming Kershaw reups with the Dodgers), that will be in their prime when the Cubs are ready to compete.

    The 2014 Cubs rotation would look pretty attractive with Tanaka, Samardzija, and Wood at the top. It isn't going to take us all the way to the playoffs, but it may get us out of the top 10 picks in the 2015 draft. The farm system looks great right now, but I firmly believe that losing develops losers and winning develops winners. We need to put together a competitive team in the early part of 2014, i.e. not obvious dealers in June, we may actually start feeling good about the immediate future and stop looking for saviors in Single A ball. That success would take a lot of pressure off of the prospects coming to the big leagues late 2014 and early 2015.

    After the Cubs sign Tanaka, it may really open the door to a lucrative deal for a Samardzjia trade. Although I am very much on the fence about trade Samardzija, I would survive if we got back serious prospects in return. Dealing for Tanaka would close the door on two trade partners (Arizona and Toronto) and unleash others (Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners) into the FA market. That would mean a significant increase in value of a guy like Samardzija.

    It will come down to the Cubs putting up big dollars for Tanaka, but the dollars are worth it for the Cubs.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Thanks KC. I think he's worth it as long as it doesn't get out of hand. He could have an immediate impact on 2014 and how the team approaches the 2015 season.

  • Thought I had about free agency and the MLB draft the other day... what if the Cubs aimed to completely punt a draft, similar to what they did with the international pool a couple of years ago.

    Here's the scenario:

    Cubs love a particular draft class and there are 3-4 first round caliber talents that are said to be tough signs. Cubs get a number from those players to sign and tell them to tell every other team that they're going to college. Cubs draft those players in rounds 7-11 or something like that and give them their number, completely blowing through their draft pool and causing them to lose their next 2 first round picks.

    Then, that offseason, they pick up free agents tied to draft compensation. Their first round pick is already gone, so they'd only lose their 2nd round pick. They do the same thing the following year, only losing their 2nd round pick.

    Net, the Cubs have lost 2 1st round picks, 2 2nd round picks and some cash due to luxury tax for exceeding their pool. But they basically picked up 3-4 first round talents in the year they went nuts in the draft.

    There's certainly some risk there (what if they miss on one of those players, what if other teams get wind of their strategy and take a player to block him from the Cubs) but I thought it's a strategy that might work. You'd have to find the right players that could pull it off, though.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Like you plan, but I bet it is illegal is some way. Don't want to be
    fined losing draft picks. .

  • For those who are interested, Dave Cameron said in his Fabraphs chat yesterday that Tanaka would sign for 6/130.

  • In reply to JasonB:

    That sounds about right.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Do you think a 6/$130M contract puts him out of reach for the Cubs' budget John?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I don't know because I don't have any real knowledge of their finances, but I think they have to consider that. Guess is that Cameron took 6 yrs at $25M and then subtracted out the posting fee.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really want to sign Tanaka, but for $150 mil for 6 years (130 salary + 20 posting) would essentially make him the highest paid pitcher in the MLB.

    I guess the positive in that situation would be that it would quickly eliminate a couple of teams.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I can definitely understand that. It makes me nervous just to think about a contract like that.

  • In reply to JasonB:

    Is that including the $20 mil posting?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    KC - I would assume it doesn't, but he never clarified

  • Looking at those clouds in that photo above Wrigley is what I see in those clouds....

    Milton Bradley waving his fists at the Bleacher Bums....

    Pete Rose doing a head long slide into third base.....

    Josh Vitters striking out.....

    Tanaka wearing a Yankees cap.....

    Marla Collins in shorts....

    Harry Carey's Glasses.....

    Ron Santo's profile (left hand side, half way down).....

    A Goat without a ticket.....

    Mark Grace with blurred eyes....

    G Maddux, L Lancaster & J Davis sliding on a wet field tarp....

    a White Sox Logo ( WTF).....

    if we need to know the future of the Cubs, I would say by the end of next then, our prospects and what we will get on trades should give us all a sense if our farm system is successful.

  • I assume that the Cubs have nothing against signing Garza, except money. I have no idea what it would take to sign him, but I expect that the Cubs front office does, and feel he just isn't worth it.

    And signing him just to flip him probably isn't practical in the current circumstances. Let's assume (to pick a number at random) that the Cubs sign him for 4 years at 15 million per year. That means that no team out there currently feels he is worth that money. Unless he performs FAR above what would be expected, it isn't very likely that anyone would think he would be worth that money come this July. That means that the only way to flip him would be to eat a large part of his contract for the next three and one half years.

    That means that the Cubs have 15 million (or so) less per year to spend when it is time to move heavily into the free agent market.

  • Do you think the Wada signing is just to get a Japanese speaking on board?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Oneear:

    Maybe wada convinced them he could land the big fish, Tanaka !

  • Lake, like all players or just everyday people get labeled. Call it a educated guess, but how many scouts, much less reporters, label a player as "can't miss" and many of them do miss. In baseball, hitting and pitching are two of the most difficult skills in sports. And sometimes the skill comes...and then it goes. I wish well for a guy like Lake, to prove that labels are meant to be broken by those who don't allow someone else's opinion hold you back.

  • fb_avatar

    Espn saying Tanaka is staying in Japan this yr.

    What's next ?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Espn is saying the NYTimes is saying that 3 Japanese newspapers are speculating he won't be let go.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I wouldn't put much faith into what Espn says.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    Nothing definite, but these are some of the headlines out there right now...

    Masahiro Tanaka Staying In Japan - Or So It Appears

    Masahiro Tanaka not expected to be posted by Japanese club

    Texas Rangers target Masahiro Tanaka will not be posted for U.S. teams

    Nothing definite yet, but it doesn't look good right now. Please just let the speculation end. Please...

  • I'm not saying the Cubs won't eventually spend, but if you follow (or worked for) the Ricketts family, you know that they are cheap. Employees of the largest brokerage firm in the world worked in a 50 year old unoccupied mall. Only after the Ricketts lost control of the firm did the company build a respectable place to go to work every day. This is how they operate. They won't risk unless they know they will be rewarded. Thus, they aren't going to sign guys to help them put a respectable, but non contending, team out there. Only when they can make a bunch of money will money be spent.

  • In reply to cubsker:

    Ricketts took a mall, which was no longer a mall, and revived it into a business center. That effort helped the community. As the Ricketts proved, you don't need a brand new building to make billions. So, I think they got it right on multiple fronts. IMHO, there was nothing cheap about it.

  • fb_avatar

    Did you guys read the about poor starlin? Basically 3.6 million have been seized from his bank accounts.

    Apparently he promised to donate 3% of his earning to a baseball academy in the Dominican and has reneged.

    He might be broke right ( until his lawyers and accountants get done w it) now so anyone w cash might be able to buy his condo or personal property right now for pennies on the dollar !

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    His father signed a contract for him as a young teenager according to the article I read.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    His father signed that agreement when he was 15. So castro's lawyer could sue the academy and get his money and more back.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Castro was 15 years old when his dad signed away his future earnings. That is called indentured servitude which was outlawed in the U.S. and most civilized countries a long time ago.

  • Castro has made 6 million so far in his career. 3% of that is $180,000. So they take 3.6 mil. Moral of the story, don't put your dough in Dominican Republic banks.
    Massive amounts of payroll flexibility is a great thing to have. That certainly does not describe our Chicago Cubs. I was told by someone who would know, that the baseball operations was given a major league payroll budget of 98 million for 2014. That is why they are getting out bid for the Josh Johnsons, Axfords, and Benoits of the world. This is based on an expected revenue of 260 million for 2014. Not good math.
    I was also told there is a wave of frustration building within the baseball side of the team.(But continue to put on a brave public face). They simply are not being given the financial assets needed to aquire many of the players they would like. Not talking about the mega deals either.
    The situation with the rooftops and the tv contract are really at a crossroads for this organization.

  • I am sorry. For anyone to use the rooftops, TV contracts, etc. to justify not running the business of Chicago Cubs the way a major market team should be run--I do not agree with.

  • Put down the Twitter ... now slowly step away ...

  • Saw an update on the draft order. Cubs second round pick is currently at #44.

    Also, Yankees project to have a team salary of around $210MM. They were trying to get in below $189 MM. Even if ARod goes away and if Tanaka is posted and if the Yanks are true and don't want to pay the tax, they will not be major players in the Tanaka derby.

  • fb_avatar

    I'm a long-time reader here but this is my first post. With all the talk about Lake today, I didn't see anybody mention that he had been leading the Dominican Winter League in hitting with a .343 average. And he would still be leading the league, but he hasn't played in a little over a week, so he doesn't have enough at bats. I know it is just the DWL, but I don't know why everybody seems to write him off. I live overseas so I haven't seen much of him. I just follow the Cubs online, but it seemed to me that Lake probably would have hit over .300 if he continued to get consistent playing time the last few weeks of the season. It seemed like he went cold when he was pinch hitting or sporadically starting. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do in a full season playing every day. I think Lake, Almora, and Soler could be a pretty nice outfield in a couple of years.

    Also, does anyone know why he hasn't played the last week or so? Has anyone heard about an injury or anything?

  • In reply to Kevin Knobloch:

    Hey Kevin thanks for reading/commenting. Lake has played well this offseason and I actually think I'm most excited about his defense. He was sent home because he's played a lot of baseball without much rest. They just called it fatigue, but he's fine. They just want him to be fresh for the season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John. I thought that might be it. I know his team isn't doing well either, so it makes sense. I just couldn't find anything to confirm it.

  • In reply to Kevin Knobloch:

    RE: I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do in a full season playing every day.

    Me too Kevin. Since you brought up Lake's stats in the DWL, I thought you might be interested to know that I combined Lake's numbers from this whole year at AAA, MLB, and the DWL (since everybody complains about small sample size) and the numbers get even better...

    Junior Lake - 2013 - AAA-MLB-DWL

    131 games / 497 AB / 30 Doubles / 3 Triples / 12 HR

    Slash Line - .300 AVG /.346 OBP /.445 SLG%

    That's a pretty good year, and 500 AB's is a decent sample size.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    It's misleading to combine those stats.

    While his body of work at the MLB level is impressive, don't forget that he's still a very raw prospect. The question isn't if he can hit at the AAA/DWL level.... the question is, can he reduce the K rate and increase the BB% at the MLB level. The last few weeks of the MLB season, pitchers had him figured out.

    The biggest knock on the guy is he makes Baez, Castro, and even Soriano seem like patient hitters wit ha sound plan... His BA in DWL means nothing. Watch his K rates and BB rates... that his defensive improvement will give you a better idea of what we have in him.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You say it's misleading. I say it's an accurate representation of the statistical year that Junior Lake had in 2013.

  • I don't know if it has been mentioned but Tanaka prefers to be on the West Coast. That's a leg up for the Dodgers, Giants and Mariners.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I think it's been mentioned in a past thread, but that certainly is an obstacle. It puts an even greater burden on the financial side for the Cubs because it likely means they have to outbid those teams by a significant margin.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Have also heard that he doesn't care one way or the other. There is so much conflicting info out there it's making my head spin.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I try not to read too much into things especially with all the information out there but Buster Olney mentioned it two different times in his podcast from yesterday so I'm guessing it has some legs. I consider him one of the best people in baseball for information.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    He is well-connected, but there is conflicting info out there from people who would know. That is probably because nobody has directly spoken with Tanaka or his agent, so things get muddled. It could be true, then he realized that would shrink his market, but it also wouldn't surprise me if it's just another false rumor. We've seen plenty of them and Olney isn't immune to them.

  • The 800MM yen ($7.7MM) offer would double Tanaka's current salary and make him the highest-paid pitcher in NPB history. However, the hurler appears ready to accept whatever decision Rakuten comes to. "If the team tells me, 'We're not going to post you. Please stay,' the professional thing to do is give it your all and get back to pitching," Tanaka told reporters this week. "I'm ready to do that."

  • Fun fact: did you know that in Japanese Tanaka means "to wait"...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Haha! That seems appropriate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Completely made up, by the way, of course...

  • I see in the clouds a future of some Cub fans complaining about the front office and the players not signed and the deals not made right up to the final out of the first World Series Championship in over 100 years. And commencing with the complaining again thirty days later.

    I can just see it, after the fifth game, with the Cubs up 3 games to 2, there will be some saying "If they'd only signed so and so they would have already won this Series."

  • According to the New York Daily News, if Tanaka is available, the
    Yankees are prepared to go all out to sign him. They are prepared to offer a 6-240. Will the Cubs exceed this offer? I wonder.
    This all may be moot; all the indications are that Tanaka will not be

  • In reply to ELAN:

    No way, they wouldn't go $240 on Cano but they are going to do it for an unproven pitcher (no matter how good they think he is) - Not to mention for 6 years, that would be a $40 Million per year AAV - Someone has their facts crossed.

  • In reply to ELAN:

    40 million a year for 6 years is crazy. So much for them getting under the salary cap. I really like Tanaka but I would not beat that offer. But I have a problem believing NYY would do that in the first place.

  • I see multiple WS championships coming for the Cubs in those clouds. Don't you guys see them too? They are right there. :)

  • In reply to John57:



  • In reply to John57:

    Strange, I see a chinese dragon head winking with one eye

Leave a comment