You better get used to it! Cubs and their fans developing some swagger

As the Cubs were thumping the Cardinals last week with long HRs from very young, talented ballplayers, a fan  in the stands boldly shouted to any Cardinals fan within earshot,

You better get used to it!

Those 6 words could serve as a warning to the Cardinals and the rest of the NL Central.

The Cubs are coming.

This is an odd feeling.  After years of accepting losing — heck, even embracing it in exchange for the high draft pick and the accompanying pool money, there is a swagger developing with the Cubs.

Kyle Hendricks certainly feels it,

“There’s a lot of energy,” Hendricks said. “It’s almost like we’re expecting to win more, I guess. Just having a lot of young guys in here and we’re just all trying to play as best we can to kind of make our stamp. But at the same time, we won down in the minor leagues, so we kind of have that bred into us that we need to win and we want to win.”

The Cubs just finished playing 10 games against three NL Central teams and won 6 of them.  They face another challenge with the contending Pirates coming to town next.  But win or lose, I don’t expect these Cubs to be intimidated.

This run isn’t a recent phenomenon.  The Cubs have gone 51-49 in their last 100 games.  During that streatch they have survived a trade of their two top pitchers and the horrific 3-16 slump that followed.  They have overcome disappointing years from starters like Mike Olt, Junior Lake, Travis Wood, and Edwin Jackson.  They have survived trades and injuries, including recent injuries to their best hitter in Anthony Rizzo and now all-star shortstop Starlin Castro.

This team just keeps finding a way to win.

I don’t know if you can quantify what’s happening right now.  Maybe it has no long term value, no correlation to what happens next season.  Maybe it’s all meaningless…but I don’t think so.  The culture is changing on the north side.  The team doesn’t wait for something to go wrong.  They play through adversity and when they see a slumping or injured team, they pounce on them.  Those are the characteristics of a winning team.  We can choose to minimize their wins because they came against teams that were less than 100%, but this is a team that used to be a tonic for slumping teams.  Now the Cubs are piling on and adding to their misery.

And frankly, it feels kind of good to be the team nobody is eager to play right now.

I don’t know how long this underdog team can continue to win the rest of this season, but this group doesn’t seem to know anything else.  As Hendricks said, many of these players are used to winning.

Imagine now if the Cubs add some veteran help this offseason: a Jon Lester to head the rotation and perhaps a Michael Bourn/Coco Crisp/Denard Span and/or a Russell Martin type player to provide some veteran leadership and experience to a young, talented core.

The Cubs are losing out in terms of their draft pick but the winning may bring something different to Chicago — and that is that they will once again be a desired destination for players.  The Cubs have managed to get their share of free agents before, but those were undervalued players looking for an opportunity to play and increase their individual value.  Or, as how Matt Garza once sold it to Edwin Jackson, the opportunity to play day baseball and spend more time with your family.  They always came up short when it came to big fish like Anibal Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka.  Perhaps now impact players will start to see a completely different opportunity on the north side — and that is the opportunity to be part of something special.

They may start to understand what the Cubs young players already know — that this is a team ready to win.  It’s a team that wants to win.  Baseball is fun and exciting again on the north side.

I don’t know about the rest of the NL Central, but I can easily get used to this.

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  • Is it April yet?

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Ha! It can't come soon enough!

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    It's great to see the Cubs expecting to win. A nice change of pace eh?
    I for one, want no part of Michael Bourn. He's had 2 subpar years in a row at .266/.317/.366...32 SB, 17 CS in 212 games. He'll be 32 in December, and is owed $39 mill over the next 3 seasons ( 1 is an easily vested option) Leadership is good. Acquiring Bourn smacks of a Hendry type move to me. I'd rather see Alcantara out there.
    Martin is more interesting....

  • In reply to Jason Heer:

    It would only be in exchange for Edwin Jackson, so that the Cubs only pick up $2.5M in extra salary. All things equal, I'd prefer Coco Crisp for that David DeJesus role but I don't think he'll be available. Bourn's option vests after 550 PAs,, that is not going to be easily vested on this team. He will have to earn it.

    As for Martin, if the Cubs drop out of the protected range, we can probably forget about him. But really, the only difference between Martin and Bourn is that Martin has been productive - in fact, far more productive offensively this year that he has ever been. There is a good chance that someone overpays a 32 year catcher in terms of years and money for a player coming off a career year -- and at a position where players tend to age more rapidly. Martin is potentially more of a "Hendry signing" than a Bourn/EJax trade would be in that Hendry tended to overemphasize the most recent year and overpay players for too many years. I am actually slightly wary of Martin if he gets a 4 year offer. Could be another Brian McCann situation.

    In all honesty, I'd love to have Martin in the right situation -- but I don't think that "right situation" will be possible when all is said and done.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think martin fits the improve at margins that the front office seems to like. His defense and leadership alone would be great, plus you still want welly starting 2-3 times per week to help keep martin fresh. 3/42 seems like it should work and 14 mil the last year will not cripple our payroll. Especially with the rest of the position guys and bullpen being home grown. Martin makes sense and fits our clubs style in my opinion

  • In reply to marcf:

    Truthfully, II think Martin can be had for about $10-11 m annually. 3/33 or so and the promise of future success should work just fine. Difference between McCann and Martin is McCann went into a situation where both him and the team were declining. The Cubs are on the rise, even if Martin necessarily isnt.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am actually a big fan of all three deals you proposed. Bourn seems like a risk, but we are already there with Jackson. I love Martin for his defense and leadership. Getting him for three years would allow him to tutor Castillo and then even Schwarber as he comes through the system. Even if his bat drops off significantly, he holds significant value and I don't think that this team will be in dire need of more offense in two years.

    Lester is a no brainer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well said, John.
    I agree that Martin will be overpaid, and I agree that a Bourn/Ejax trade makes sense. I do think the Cubs will have to throw in a reliever...Schlitter, maybe one of the lefthanded Rule V possibilities???
    I really like the idea of a trade with the Phillies. They match up so well with the Cubs in a deal. Ruiz could be the veteran catcher. Revere could be the leadoff guy. Rollins could be a veteran bat if you have to move Castro to get Hammels. Brown is a left-handed outfielder (bounce-back candidate).
    I know I've beat this horse, but I still feel like an Ejax for Papelbon deal makes so much sense.
    I'm hopeful that the Cubs claimed Hammels to begin negotiations on an offseason deal. There are a lot of options from that club. And I feel that the Cubs have the type of players they'd look for in order to make a quick "White Sox type" rebuild.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree about his being overvalued and the concerns about his age, but Martin's plate discipline and defensive skills would play well for me in a three-year deal, even if it's an overpay.

    My only concern with signing him is if it comes at the expense of going the extra mile to sign a Lester. I think that should be the priority, even with more good free agent arms coming in 2016.

  • In reply to Jason Heer:

    Well John proposed earlier a Edwin Jackson trade for Bourn. That trade coupled with a Lester and Martin signing would be fantastic. I could see Bryant and Baez up and mashing by May adding to Soler and a healthy Rizzo and Castro. I see us making the playoffs next year with that team.

  • In reply to Jason Heer:

    Martin is the one position player Id definitley look at. It will likely take a 3-4 yr contract at 8-10 M per year, but when you look at him his defense and OBP would be ideal. And hes a winner.

  • I am looking forward to this off season with a lot of anticipation. I get the feeling that not only are the cub fans tired of losing but I get a very strong feeling that Theo, Jed and the Ricketts family are tired of it also. These next 3-5 years are going to be exciting.

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    IF we add a pitcher or two, possibly pry Martin from the pirates, and can survive the first month of the season at 500, we might have something to bring concern to the rest of the division, I figure that is about the time we get our third basemen(Bryant) to the big show.There is one thing for certain, we will compete next year.

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    I believe it was Keith Law who said Billy Beane "fleeced" theo in the Russell deal.

    Not so much.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Must have been someone else. Law loves Russell and McKinney. He thinks Russell is a future perennial all-star and that McKinney will be a first division regular in LF.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It was one of the usual suspects -Law, Heyman etc - I thought it was Law. But then I can't remember what I had for dinner last night.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Haha! I can't remember who said the Cubs got fleeced either. I know Law liked it for both teams but especially for the Cubs.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Dave Morelli said this on twitter, "My opinion on the Addison Russell for Samardzija and Hammel trade? Russell is a guy you can package for David Price. Beane got fleeced." Could that have been what you remember?

    I don't really remember anyone thinking the Cubs lost that trade badly.

  • In reply to nukee:

    If anyone wants to discuss whi got "fleeced" lets ask Andrew Friedman why he basically gave away David Price.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    Most of the analyses I read tended to favor the Cubs in the deal but agreed it was a move the A's needed to make. Still might work out for them, along with the Lester move. But the division looks like it's slipped away, which was one of the primary reasons they made the deal - to avoid the one-game playoff.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    SK. I remember last week Heyman wrote that the Cubs were having the best 59-74 year he ever saw. Said ALL of there prospects were living up to expectations, even Alcantara was better than he expected. Likely wasnt him, he seems to think the Cubs will break out shortly.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I agree SKMD. Beane simply mortgaged the future vs the present. I have zero problem with that trade when the tables are turned in a couple of years, meaning two good pitchers coming our way at the cost of prospect talent. Win now will be a mantra coming soon to a wrigleyville near you!

  • In reply to Tnighter88:

    I wrote that thinking it was the other way around, that's how I remember the Law comment

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    In reply to Tnighter88:

    I don't think the Cubs ever plan to be in that situation. The only reason the A's made that trade is because they don't have the financial assets to compete every year, so they have to go for it really hard for a few years then rebuild really hard when those guys get too expensive.

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    In reply to Nathan King:

    Great point. I hope you're right.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I never heard or saw that. Everyone I heard or read said that the Cubs made a "great" deal. How anyone could not look at that deal and like it right from the start makes no sense to me.

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    In reply to cubbybear7753:

    Bill Madden, NY Daily News:

    "You have to first start with the trade itself, which, on the surface and for the present, appears to be a fleecing for Beane of his Moneyball disciple, Theo Epstein. I say this because when you’re trading your two best pitchers, one of them a bona fide No. 1, don’t you have to get back at least one comparable top pitching prospect?"

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Well, I didnt see that but the fact that he states that Shark is a bona fide No. 1 shows that he doesnt really know what he is talking about to begin with

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    In reply to SKMD:

    I actually did read that article, but had forgotten about it. Seems to me like Madden was an outlier on this one.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think I have read this in reverse

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Im betting Billy Beane would like to have Russell back. Or McKinney for that matter.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    No, as I recall he thought it was a decent deal for both teams, especially the Cubs.

  • Good stuff as always John. I'm wondering if we could pry Span loose from the Nats. Harper ran his mouth about him in the lineup earlier this year. He's got to feel a little underappreciated there and all he does is hit. 500 k buyout on contract. Would he fit?Great top of the order guy. Probably fetch 12 mil/year. Thoughts?

  • In reply to Tnighter88:

    Yes, I think he is a solid fit. I actually added him in the edited version --and Crisp, who everyone knows I like :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Nats have a team option on Span after this year, and I believe they plan to exercise it.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Sorry misread his contract. Thought it was a player option.

  • "I don't know how long this underdog team can continue to win the rest of this season"...

    Why not us? Our SP has been fantastic! Our BP has been DOMINANT! our defense has been making some spectacular plays and not many whiffs on routine ones and our offense, yes our offense is ALIVE!

    It's funny because you can see that even w/o Rizzo & Castro in the line-up, we have no problem scoring runs. We're still not the most efficient offense, and we still have some kinks to work out, but we're able to score consistently and with our SP & BP that's all we need.

    So "why not us"?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    With the tough schedule, it's hard not to see the Rizzo and Castro injuries taking a toll down the stretch.

    If my math is right, I see the Cubs (optimistically) going 9-13 the rest of the way. Too many teams playing for their lives. I think .500 or better was in reach without the injuries.

    Still, better than having them get hurt during a pennant race.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Hard to measure the intangibles over a short term (22 games) even with teams that have superior overall records. I was thinking 12-11, 11-11, 10-12, regardless of the injuries. They have trended to near the top in pitching, they have more run scoring abilities and they are playing loose. Here is my take; It would be perfect to finish two two months with successive plus .500 records, 15-13 and 13-12 is 28-15 and something to crow about considering and also finish 10th draft position. That would be perfect, almost too perfect so nothing is too perfect.

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    After years of losing, it is sure fun to watch!

  • Reality check. They'll still in last place.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    So - if you look at the record since June 1 - the Cubs are over 0.500 - and that includes that terrible stretch about two weeks post trading Shark and Hammel where they went like 2-11.

    They are and have been getting generally good pitching (with specific exceptions for those stinkers that Jackson was consistently putting out), especially from the bullpen, the defense has been generally good, and especially since Baez, Alcantara and Soler have come up - the offense has been more than passable.

    Reality check,.... they are putting the hurt on some very decent playoff contending teams, and are doing it on the backs of guys who are going to be around and heading into peak production years - rather than on the downside of careers.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    19 up and 14 down since beginning of August. Who cares about last place right about the future.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    We are only 2.5 games behind Cincy. Maybe we won't be in last place for long. If we go .500 down the stretch then we are looking at 75 wins. Not too shabby.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Imagine you are out on a fishing boat a few miles off the coast. You drop anchor, but right when you do, you realize that your leg is caught up in the rope and it pulls you overboard. Down, down, down you descend into the hopeless blackness of the deep. Your ears pop and your head swims in pain from the increasing pressure. Your lungs burn as you rapidly start running out of oxygen. Everything is dark. All hope is lost.

    Then suddenly, miraculously, your leg comes free from the rope! You swim upwards and you can see the sun and blue sky above you. Your lungs are still aching, but you know they will fill with life-giving oxygen soon. Your heart is filled with hope and joy at your second chance at life.

    And then right before you breech the surface you say, "This sucks. I'm still underwater."

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Love that analogy PV.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    You made my day.

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    In reply to Aquinas wired:

    There is this,the seasons not over,and if the team wins out the remaining schedule, ( not gonna happen BTW) they'd be 84-78, YOUR POINT ?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    thanks captain obvious

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Things a little slow over at "Sox Den" today?

  • It's Our Turn!

  • Love reading this article, John. It also typifies the full circle the season the Cubs are having & all of the different emotions experienced with it. From the off season skepticism for the year, knowing it was going to be rough one. To the curiosity of spring training, to opening day lineup, the beginning w/Olt & Arrieta & some of the bullpen... To the games now count & the apathy of eh, just another down season for draft position, uhhgain... Then to the big trade, ok, getting a little excited for the future again, got a top prospect for the "2nd wave" & another OFer for the "3rd wave"... to the Hendricks & Wada pitching great, the bullpen tweaking & looking phenomenal... to the AA callup, eh ok... to excitement of Baez callup & then seeing his swing/approach... & being eh ok... To some more excitement of the Turner & Doubront in the rotation.

    But Then to the Soler Call up. I think that is what did it for me & gives some of the most excitement for the future. The buzz Soler created with his 1st at bats. Watching him effortlessly track a line drive or fly ball to the wall. Throwing a bullet strike back into the IF. Not to mention his at bats are must see TV or don't get up for a beer or a dog at the ballpark... Not putting him in the HoF just yet, but seeing that there is a RFer in Chicago now that could be a special player... Wrap that up with this starting rotation that doesn't even have the prototypical "ace" yet, the lock down bullpen there, & KB next, I am now stoked for the off season & next year & beyond. I actually stay up for the last out of Cub games again...

    Crazy being a Cub fan.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Full circle is like when Jason Kidd said he would turn his team around 360 degrees. I guess its more of a half circle no?

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    In reply to Mitterwald:

    The easiest thing to do in sports is make a complete 360 degree turn around. Just keep doing what you're doing.

  • This has been an interesting and productive season. They found out Rizzo and Castro can play and be a part of the winning future. They also found out some guys, like Olt, can't.
    Big results from Arrieta and Hendricks plus the bullpen. Bonus in bringing up Baez & Soler and getting them a taste of the show.
    Except for the overall record, I'd call 2014 a success.

  • In reply to Howard Moore:

    I think that was exactly the point of this year. It was more evaluative than anything and in terms of finding a potential core of young talent, it has to be considered a success. We may not see the overall record reflected this year, but for well over half a season now, the Cubs have been a .500 team.

  • In reply to Howard Moore:

    would turndown the Manson lamps just for a minute before proclaiming Olt a total bust, his ceiling is too high to not give him another crack . Yes I know where his floor is too, we already saw that.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Yea Olt may just come back to his ceiling. Only takes a bit more patience to find out.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I'm not going to hold my breath but you're right in that we need to see if his time in the minors can give him a boost to better success.

  • In reply to Howard Moore:

    Jon Heymans agrees with you 100%.

  • So what do the Cubs do with catcher next year? Does Welly bounce back? I agree that Martin seems unlikely. I'd be happy with an above average defensive catcher that could maintain a league avg OBP. Is that asking too much though?

  • In reply to couch:

    I think Welly deserves a mulligan for this year. He's still the best and most viable option.

    I think they bring in a vet or two LHH Catchers to compete to be Welly's platoon partner/b-u catcher. I think Lopez will likely start the year at AAA. I think it's highly unlikely they sign anyone capable of replacing Beef...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes I agree. Looking at Welly's OBP in 2013 it was actually pretty good. With the power potential this lineup has, maybe Welly can sacrifice a little power for getting on base? Probably easier said than done, but his K% is up, BB% down, but his ISO is up comparing 2014 numbers to 2013. I think a rebound is likely.

  • In reply to couch:

    We still don't know what he will be. He could be the 1.5 WAR player he is in 2012 & 2014 or he could be the 3+ WAR player he was last year. IDK, but he is young enough and we are void of any other viable options that he gets a chance next year to prove which one he is.

    He's been red hot with the bat and behind the plate lately. Thats the guy I hope we get...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Is 1.5 WAR so terrible? It puzzles me that Castro, if he is done for the season, finished with a 2.1 offensive WAR this season. He seemed a tad better than that to me, though he could have elevated that to close to 3.0 if he had gotten all his at bats.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    No, it's not terrible. But it's nothing to celebrate either.

    Castro has a WAR of 2.7 for this year. His OFF [Offense - Batting and Base Running combined (above average)] is 6.5 vs -24.3 last year

    Right now, Beef's WAR is 1.8 vs 3.3 last year. But both his defense and offensive metrics are down this year.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Do you think having so many young pitchers on the team caused Beef to focus on managing his pitch calling? That's a ton to learn, and it keeps changing as pitchers are promoted, sent down, acquired, and so on. Did Welly's focus on hitting take a back seat this year?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    No, I wouldn't blame his struggles on young pitching. Until the July 4th trade, there really wasn't any young pitchers. Shark/E-Jax/Wood/Hammel/Villanueva/Arrieta made up the starts. Hammel was new to Beef, but that's no reason for his offensive & defensive struggles.

  • In reply to couch:

    IMO, if Castillo would come in to Spring Training in tip top shape, then we'd see him at his best. He's not grossly out of shape, but he should be a leaner (and meaner) player. He'd be quicker, stronger and have more stamina. This is an easy fix.

  • John

    What are your thoughts about the Bullpen going forward? I have heard people talk about strectching out Grimm and Ramirez and making them starters but I like them right where they are. With a couple of additions such as a Vizciano next year I really like the bullpen going into next year.

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    In reply to cubbybear7753:

    My opinion is that the Cubs have plenty of cards to play out of the bullpen going forward. The list seems endless.

  • Rondon's emergence as a legit, high-end closer has to be one of the top highlights of the season. But it seems he has not gotten the attention he deserves.

  • In reply to TTP:

    He is mighty good. That was one great rule 5 pick up. Nice move Theo.

  • exciting play making the Cubs a free agent magnet... AWESOME, a key threshold for building the foundation the right way.

  • There are still going to be ups and downs with this young team well into next year...but you can just feel it turning. I think it started with Barney going on paternity leave and Alcantara getting that great start. Throw in Baez and Soler over the next 5 weeks and when we are smoking the victory cigar as WS Champs in the next couple years we can look back on this time as when Theo/Jed made their move.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    And AA was supposed to be the lesser of our prospects.

  • Winning feels good and it could have some positive psychological benefit to end the year strong - but ideally we'd have a protected pick. However, it might not matter much if Lester is the only FA Theo will be willing to spend money on (Scherzer will cost 7/$200M and I can't see giving up a first round pick for Shields). I just don't want the Cardinals to make the post season and a sweep of the Brewers probably just solidified their chances.

    One could easily say that since these games are meaningless - the pressure is much lower. But I do get the sense from the rookies that they will be able to deal with pennant race pressure - which is nice.

  • Great stuff as always John. I have been reading since Theo and Jed took over and been along for the ride into 2015. Can't believe it is finally coming to fruition.
    I have to disagree with you on the Bourne trade idea though. Jackson is owed $22 mill after this year and Bourne's contract could potentially be worth close to $40 million over three years if he vests.
    I wouldn't want to stunt the growth of Alcantara in CF.
    My idea for a veteran prescence that would add flexibility and experiance with this front office would be Chase Headley. He wouldn't cost a ton coming off a couple mediorce years. He can play 3B and LF and is a switch hitter. He'd be my DDJ for this team.

  • In reply to irishivy75:

    If Bourne's contract vests, it means he was playing well enough to get 550 PA. Additionally, I don't know that you play Bourne in Center. As John noted in an earlier article, Bourne's defense has appeared to below par. Mike will say that he doesn't have the power to be at the corner and he will be absolutely correct, but he fits the LH leadoff hitter mold and Baez supplies adequate power to make up for him.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    The more I think about it the more I like the idea of obtaining Bourn for Jackson. The Cubs need a veteran presence that is on a guaranteed contract. A guy that can afford to spend time to mentor the young players. As the FO has said, its not fair to ask guys like Cohglan, Valbuena, to fill those roles as their numbers have a direct result in how much they will make in arbitration and eventually as a FA. In other words, they need to spend their time improving their own game, not others.
    The question for me is, who else do the Cubs have to throw in to get the deal done with Cleveland?

  • John,

    As is true for many other participants I find your work to be top notch. I was just curious, out here in LA I saw a job posting for a job with the Cubs writing copy, etc. Did you get that job? If not it's either a shame or you are too good at your day job.
    Anyway I am one of those that reads this blog every single day. Cub fan since 1975 but never had this high level of understanding that you have imparted to us along with your people.

    Also,I have never been able to say that we are going to string maybe seven straight winning years together soon.

    When Theo was hired he said that, if you put a playoff team together the odds are you will win one maybe two titles. We know from 08 that you can just bow out. BTW Manny was on roids in that series and Dempster gave up a grand slam to . . .James Loney?

    Even character guys like Demp don't fit the new regime. I like that. They are running a business and those Harvard guys are good at business.

  • In reply to Mitterwald:

    Epstien went to Yale and Hoyer went to Westlayan, but they are not too shabby of schools either.

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    If we're talking trades, I'd like to see them make a run at Stanton. From what I've read, it sure sounds like the Marlins are open to trading him. And they want Major League-ready players. A lineup with Soler, Rizzo, Stanton, and Bryant would be wild!

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    We,.... Don't,.... Need,.... Stanton,......

  • In reply to drkazmd65:


    Where are we going to play all of the established power hitters who are getting paid lots of $ and are approaching or past their peak years?
    We have more in our own pipeline.
    We don't need Cargo or Stanton
    or Trout (ok, I'll take Trout . But only till Almora is ready.)

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    In reply to tboy:

    Stanton definitely would not be past his prime; he's hitting his prime. You could play him in LF, Soler RF, Bryant 3B. Those three with Rizzo and Baez could be the first team ever with five players hitting 30+ HRs. From what I've read, it sounds like there is a good chance he'll be traded. Everyone seems to assume the Dodgers or Red Sox get him. I like that! From the A's trade, I've learned that the Cubs definitely like to keep things close to the vest. And the Marlins supposedly want a middle infielder. He'll probably be a Dodger, and I'm not sure they "need" him either. But it is just my latest dream...

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I'm with you. I think not making a run a Stanton when you are the best team in position to do so would be insanity. He will be 26 at the start of next season and is an established big league MVP candidate. I love our young prospects but you simply don't know how it will pan out for this group of cats. To say we don't need him would be false because the Cubs are right now in the process of figuring out what exactly they have.

  • In reply to Chupacabra:

    You want Stanton-well the Fish will likley want Baez and Soler(for the spanish-speaking community down there) for starters. Hes a non-starter with me. A great player , but we dont need him.

  • In reply to Chupacabra:

    OK, guys, make a reasonable suggestion for a deal. For example, Cubs Win 009 talkshow about Stanton playing with Soler, Bryant, and Baez. Trading for Stanton is going to cost at least one of them. Stanton is arbitration eligible the next two years, then a FA after the 2016 season. Let's say Bryant is a headliner in a Stanton deal, then Stanton decides to test FA in two years. What then?

    Yes, Stanton is a talent, but trading for him is short-sighted and organizationally irresponsible!

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Okay, here goes: Castro, Hendricks, Alcantara, CJ Edwards, Vizciano. The Marlins would have to throw in two quality, lower level minor leaguers. And then I still want the Cubs to go out and get Lester. Now that is giving up a lot in my book. But once Russell and Schwarber join the team, the lineup would be incredible. I think that you're probably right and it won't happen. The Dodgers will add him to their $200m+ payroll, and have an outfield with both Puig and Stanton.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Well, I don't think that the Marlins make a Stanton deal for quantity.

    But even if they do, there is still the specter of Stanton leaving as a FA after the 2016 season. If, for argument, Schwarber is up by the break in 2016, then your 'incredible lineup' may only be in operation for 3 months.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Is that just quantity? Those seem like some quality players to me. An All Star SS. A closer. A switch hitting second baseman. And potentially two quality starting pitchers. And obviously I wouldn't want them to do a trade unless they plan to sign him. And the others. Why can't the Cubs have a $170m payroll? I'm not sure why I get in these debates, because I actually doubt it will happen. But some team will trade for him. And some team will pay him. And some team will have a very, very good outfield. Does it always have to be the Red Sox and the Dodgers? Why not the Cubs?

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Marlins aren't going to take that deal.

    To the Fish, that looks like a mash unit full of ?'s...

    For them, it starts with Castro and one of Bryant/Baez/Soler plus others and then we have to turn around and sign him to a $250MM+ contract to keep him....

    No thanks

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Loving the idea.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Baez is not untouchable and I would make almora and Schwarber available. Stanton plus a FA pitcher moves up the time table for a WS. That's what I want.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Who knows where he will go, but the last thing the Dodgers need is another OF. They already have 4, 3 of which are making $15M+ /year. Granted, Crawford / Kemp / Ethier are shells of their former selves - but they are collectively paying those guys upwards of $55M/year. Thats a lot of cash to eat, even for the Dodgers.

    I guess Kemp probably gets traded this off season.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Forget Stanton...we will have enough power/hitting that is all cost controlled and affordable! We need to spend our money on pitching.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    Exactamundo !!

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    The main reason I support the Cubs trading for Stanton is to keep him out of the hands of the Cardinals. I could easily see the Cardinals sending Oscar Tavares + Grichuk + Gonzales in return for Stanton. Man that would suck to see Stanton on the small market needy Cardinals.

  • Soler sure does remind me of a young Manny at the plate, good power, good strike zone control and good contact/hit tool. Kid sure looks like a keeper. And yes I remember a young Manny , still have his 92 Bowman rookie card too lol.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Reminds me of "The Hawk". Even have seen him tomahawk a high fastball or two remeniscent of Andre. Now just waiting for him to nail a tagger or someone going 1st to third like Dawson did years ago in my first game at Wrigley. Great time to be a Cubs fan

  • John, I love this article and the win streak that the Cubs are on. I was a little disappointed with the sweep. Nothing to do with the draft position, rather I just hate helping the Cardinals. I really hope we sweep them in the final series this year.

    I do have a question about next years rotation for the group. Would it be feasible to continue a six man rotation next year? I am thinking that you put two studs (Arrieta and Lester - fingers crossed) set for pitching every 5 days, then rotate some younger arms in the 3, 4, and 5 positions between 4 players with one taking the swing position each day. It could allow us to limit innings for guys like Hendricks and better align our pitching to lineups.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Houston just dumped their 6 man, calling it unviable:

  • In reply to SFToby:

    We're relying on Houston for advice?

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    Another way to look at the draft pick thing. Right now, to improve our draft position, the Cubs would need consistently poor play from: Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Jake Arrieta, Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks, Chris Coghlan, Luis Valbuena, Welington Castillo, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Arodys Vizcaino, and Hector Rondon.

    I want a high pick as much as (okay, more than) the next guy but it doesn't matter if that pick is joining a team that can't win. If that group *can't* play .500 ball we're in deep trouble because Rizzo, Castro, Bryant, and Lester won't make up the difference.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    That should probably be an article. Maybe I'll pull myself away from Everquest Next news long enough tonight to write it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think many have said the same thing you have said. Most fans would be fine to not get a top 5 pick because if we don't, that means that the young guys were playing well and winning games. If the likes of EJaxx, Hammel (if he wasn't traded) Villaneuva,Valuena were having crazy career years and we were winning because of that, that would be the worst case scenario.

    But the Cubs are winning because of all those guys you listed, and those guys are the future, the core of this team moving forward.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They just need a few bullpen moles to help the Cubs find ways to lose. Ie. start using Villaneuva in key situations. Should have brought him in with the bases loaded last night instead of Grimm. You know the Cubs end up losing in that situation. Damn, where's Darwin Barney when you need him. If we had the human rally killer back in the 2-hole, the Cubs would probably have safely locked up a top 3 pick.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Carlos Villanueva has a sub-3.00 ERA as a reliever this year and has struck out nearly a batter per inning in the role. He has actually been better than Grimm. Find a different example. Rosscup for instance.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    While you are technically correct, that the Moosetache has been much better as a RP vs a SP this year. He is a long/middle reliever. Not made for high leverage situations.

    So his example is actually spot on. Grimm has only allowed 4 of 26 inherited runners to score this year. That ranks him 7th best in the NL. The Moostache has allowed 11 of 19 inherited runners to score. That ranks him near the bottom of all NL RP's this year.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:


  • In reply to mjvz:

    Haha! if he had used anyone else, I wouldn't have caught that. I just happened to be looking at our RP's with the 40 man roster implications and thinking that that the stache might be worth bringing back on a one year deal since he seems to be a great leader/clubhouse guy. Then I saw that and thought "He's only a viable option on the field if he can come in clean for 1 time through the line up only". See ya later Carlos! lol

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Rizzo, Castro, Bryant, and Lester would make up a lot though!

    Remove Desmond, Rendon, Werth, and Strasburg from Wash and not surprised if they're 20 games worse....

    I agree the young guys winning is best for future. But IMO Rizzo/Castro/Bryant/Lester instead of Watkins/Valaika/Valbuena/Wood is a HUGE increase. We're talking 15+ wins.

    Let's just go 21-2 the rest of way and get into playoffs this yr :)

    In Theo We Trust

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    In reply to cwolfe11:

    You're missing the point though. Suppose those 4 are worth 15 games. if this team without them finishes 20 games under .500 (71-91), then a 15 game improvement makes us -- mediocre. If we finish .500, then adding 15 wins makes us one of the best teams in baseball.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Okay, I REALLY want a protected pick. But I REALLY!!!! want the Cubs to win. So I've started rooting for the Phillies, Mets, Reds, Rays, and Padres, all the teams 4 or less games ahead of us. Of these teams, we only play the Reds. We currently have the 8th pick, and the feeling is that we'll fall below the 10th pick, and so be it. Our core is nearly here, and the time to get excited about the present is nearly here. And more help is on the way. The future is now! I loved the sign on TV last night that read, "The Big Blue Machine Is Coming." A sign like that would have been laughed at even two months ago. Now, it's celebrated....

  • "Wait till next year" has a new connotation now.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Should be "Can't wait til next year" now

  • In reply to LetTheKidsPlay:

    That's a good one!

  • In reply to LetTheKidsPlay:


  • It's a great time to be a Cubs fan, for sure. And - this may be childish, but I'm really enjoying the absolute absence of annoying, in-your-face white sux fans as Chicago's other team races for a higher draft pick. Another year of that would be just fine with me.

  • I know people will shout at me. I know peoplewill say I am putting the cart before the horse or something.

    But I think a championship is inevitable at this point. I've been watching the young guys for the past few years and they are legit. Sure, a couple may disappoint or get hurt, but there are so many of them and the FO has maintained the payroll flexibility to plug holes or improve the roster when and wherever it is needed going forward. There will be a WS winner in Wrigley within 5 years.

    I don't have any hesitation typing those words. It isn't blind faith. It is reasonable. It is logical.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    No shouting, but nothing is "inevitable." Just a few years ago, it looked like Cincinnati was a lock. Washington has been the team to take it all for the past few years until last year, when Los Angeles was unbeatable with their expensive lineup. Atlanta, with that awesome rotation and 14 consecutive Division wins, won a single World Series in the '90s.

    Anything can happen, once the playoffs begin. The objective is to get there, and KEEP getting there, until the ball bounces your way. I think that's been Theo's plan all along. Teams that gut the farm system for a one-year window are likely to be disappointed for years. One thing that is certain - better buckle up! It's gonna be a fun ride!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I'm not saying they will win every year. I think there is a very good chance they are one of if not the best team in the league as early as 2016 and can stay that way for the next 5-10 years. The best team does not always win once the playoffs start, but the better the team the better the odds, and the more times the team makes it, eventually they will win. Just as the Braves did.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Absolutely. We just can't get into the mindset that 2016 (or any other year) is THE year. Nobody wants - or deserves - it more that Cubs fans. I think it will happen. I'd bet the farm that it will happen. There are, however, no guarantees.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm with you mjvz! The only thing that can get in the way is trading away too much talent for assets that have limited longevity. I believe these guys are smarter than that.

  • I really want to see a winning performance against the Reds and the Pirates in those 9 games left. Two teams that someone has pointed out the cubs have struggled against.

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    Great stuff John and it's exciting to watch these kids. The best part for me has been helping my wife to understand the game of baseball. She is from the Philippines and saw her first game in 2012. We live in Central Florida and I love when Daytona comes to play Brevard County.

    My wife got to see Baez, Soler and Alcantara at her very first game. And now she sees these guys in Chicago! I've never heard someone cheer so loudly when HER Cubbies do something great on the diamond! She has blue blood in her veins and will drink all the Cubs kool-aid you want to pour. lol

    We are both so excited about next year!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    That is awesome. My wife is a Sox fan but she is a fan of Soler, Baez, and others because we have seen them play at Kane County and in AZ. I think it won't be long before she starts rooting for the Cubs ;)

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thats awesome Bobby!

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier!

    I know we have had our differences on what direction we would like to see the Cubs proceed from this point. but I've always respected your opinion and first hand reports on our guys especially Javier Baez. In the end I know that all that really matters is winning and we are both on the same boat in that respect.

    We are going to have a lot of fun my friend! Go Cubs

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Ditto my friend and there's nothing wrong with a few spirited debates. Like you said, we have the same ultimate goal.

  • I'd rather not get anyone who could/would block any of the kids coming up or are here now. If you want some veteran leadership, I'd make Manny a coach.

  • mjvz: I completely agree. Unless you have followed these young guys for years like us die hard Cubs fans have, you don't understand how good they are.

    There is a tidal wave coming and Baez/Soler/Alc/Hendricks is like the first half of it you see rising over the horizon.... you think.. "Hmm could be some trouble ahead..."

    Bryant/Russell/Edwards/Schwarber/Almora is like the tidal wave full crest 100 feet above you ready to smash your ship like it's a row boat...and you think...
    "OH F#%$...."


  • In reply to cwolfe11:

    Baez, Bryant, Soler, Russell will all be stars barring health issues, I have little doubt in my mind, all four are incredible talents. Alcantara is at worst a dangerous utility guy and Almora a plus defender that puts the ball in play. You add them to Rizzo and Castro and that alone makes them into one of the most dangerous lineups in the majors. I haven't seen enough of the Schwarber and McKinney group to feel comfortable knowing what to expect from them yet, but there if any of them turn out to be productive the offense is going to be unbelievable.

    The bullpen is young and deep and there are more guys on the way to hopefully keep it that way.

    The rotation is still a question but it isn't nearly as big of one as people make it out to be. They already have a decent group and it is made up essentially of castoffs. Bring in a FA or two, maybe one of the prospects surprises, maybe make a trade when the opportunity presents itself. The offense and bullpen are going to be good enough to get this team to the postseason, even if they struggle to fill out the back end of the rotation down the line.

  • Puppies. Adorable, sad-eyed puppies. And kittens. Fuzzy, warm, cute-as-can be kittens. Sunshine. Clouds. White, fluffy, pretty clouds.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Sorry, folks. I just wanted to see if I could actually get one past the #@%$&!!! SPAM FILTER!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It has been ridiculous lately....

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It's a good thing you didn't talk about cold kittens.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    It wouldn't have mattered, anyway. The spam filter still got it...

  • I listened to 3 of the games on Cards radio and Mike Shannon as well as John Rooney were clearly irritated with the brashness on the young Cubs. Shannon was emphatic about the need of the Cardinal pitchers to pitch inside and knock these young interlopers off of the plate.

    It was quite amusing. It was almost like they were saying...Who do these young cubbies think they are taking such free swings against the mighty Cards. As John said...Better get used to it.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Testing whether a young hitter is capable of being able to get around on a well located inside fastball is the first thing every MLB pitcher should do. It requires bat speed and strength to be consistently effective against that pitch unless the hitter guesses it is coming and starts his bat head early. The announcer is right that the pitchers should be forcing the prospects to do it. Soler is the exception, he is absolutely incredible on inside fastballs and there is no reason to test him.

    I'll draw from past Cub prospect experience as an example. The fact that it took MLB pitchers an entire year to figure out that Kevin Orie was completely incapable of handling an inside fastball was utterly preposterous. MLB pitchers should have sent Kevin Orie back to the minors within a month, instead they allowed him to be psuedo-productive his rookie year.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Shannon and Rooney can see the balance of power shifting right before their eyes and know trouble is a-brewin'.

    It's gonna be tough to take on the powerful Cubs with a team that's dead last in HR's.

  • To think.. we stiil havent added K Bryant to the lineup

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    we will next April. Take that , Scott BoreUs.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    Not so sure about April. Yesterday we saw that Theo said Bryant will start getting reps in the OF next Spring. This probably means he starts at Iowa to work with some of the coaches on a few things. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear about a special outfield coach being hired this winter as well.

    Then I wonder, if the Cubs get off to a fast start next Spring, do you leave Bryant down until after the Super 2 date passes? That would actually be the best in the long run, imo....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Mike Olt might have something to do with that decision...

  • I really hope the Bears are good this year, because this offseason could be painful to wait through, checking mlbtr every few hours...

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    It's a shame John Baker has done so poorly. He really seems to be well liked and appears to be a good teammate and veteran presence. Perhaps there's a coaching job in his future, but he's still young enough that he's probably going to want to try to continue his playing career

  • It's great the Cubs are turning the corner. (Note present progressive tense.) But let's keep any hubris in check. No need to duplicate the chickens-before-their-hatched arrogance of those "We got Wood" T-shirts. (Boy, how much did we brag about a pitcher who won only 71 starts in his career and never garnered a single Cy Young vote?) As noted in the story above, at its best, this current team has played .500 ball. So perhaps best for us to keep in check yelling in the faces of other faces (which by the way, we shouldn't do even when we finish first. It's just plain rude).

    As the Cubs continue the rebuild and get better, us fans can also work on stepping up our observational skills. We should keep in mind "exciting baseball" is not the same thing as "championship baseball." Not that the latter is boring, but the former includes a whole lot of very good and very mediocre Cubs teams that never could get over the top. Remember all those "exciting" Cubs teams with Sammy Sosa hitting more 50 and 60 homers a season? Not champions. Or the 2003 team that lacked key managerial & veteran leadership to calm the ship after a single foul ball in Game 6? Or all those Rothschild pitching staffs that led the league in "exciting" strikeouts, but were undone by high pitch counts and leading the league in walks issued?

    Of the young players who have made it to the parent team, let's celebrate their smart plays and not just their exciting plays. Applaud the homers and door-slamming Ks to be sure, but let's be even more wow'ed by a super efficient start that eats up 7 or 8 innings with only 2 Ks than a 10K 6-inning performance that requires 2 or 3 other pitchers to also be perfect that day to deliver a win. Or being able to induce three DPs in a game that never make the highlight reel. Or plate discipline to happily take your walk and drive up pitch counts. Or running a mere bunt or single out hard, just in case circumstances allow the hitter to take an extra base. Or taking the right path to fly balls and grounders. These are the additional skills needed over a 162-game season and 35-game post season that put a team over the top as legendary and not just exciting.

    So let's "get used to" something better than merely "not sucking." As Theo said, "I'm not interested in giving fans cookies. I want to give them the whole meal." Let's applaud those players who are doing all of the smart, fundamental things day in and day out that will get us that whole meal. I've seen some of this from Hendricks and Soler (and not just the homers). I've seen hints in Arismendy's athleticism. And we've seen a ton of it in the front office's creativity in scouting, drafting and flipping players to multiply the assets -- regardless of how much fans howl that we can't live without Samardzija or why trade a Sean Marshall at his peak value or why not give Hammel an extension ASAP. Fans our own spring training is upon us.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I think we'll see "exciting baseball" in 2015 before we see "exciting championship baseball" in 2016 and beyond. I'm OK with that.

    The Cubs will be the most exciting team we've seen in MLB for a long time and they'll be an exciting team for a long, long time.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    "The most exciting team we've seen in MLB for a long time"... you know, the homerun has been around for a long time. It's not a new invention. But in terms of your first comment, I'm in agreement.

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    I know it means nothing and is silly. But I'm really pulling for the Cubs to pass the Reds. Like a symbolic message that the Cubs are on the rise. And on a selfish note since I predicted 75 wins this year I wouldn't mind bragging rights. I have never been a big Bourn guy I didn't want the Cubs to get him as a FA. So I'm cool on him. Martin on the other hand is a great team guy and would be a pretty nice number 2 hitter.

  • Difference between the "We Got Wood" Cubs and these Cubs is these Cubs can sell t-shirts that say "We Got "Insert Enough Names Here To Go Around The Shirt 2 or 3 Times"" instead of just having one measly name on it.

  • I know the folks that regularly view Cub's Den are extremely excited about the new and improved product the Cub's are putting on the field. Has the improved product and highly touted prospects affected attendance at Wrigley? Initially, it doesn't seem that the call ups have any affect on people coming out to the ball park. Memorial Day was well attended, but that's normal. Does anyone have an explanation for why more fans aren't coming to the park to see these kids play good baseball? Bears season is starting? What's the deal?

  • In reply to AggBat:

    Check Ed Sherman's piece in the Trib online: Last night's game generated the 2nd highest TV ratings of the year, after one of the Cubs-Sox games, and about 3 times the average viewership for the season. So they've certainly generated interest. And I would say that the new and improved product has put a lot of fans in the seats since I suspect they're drawing twice as many fans for weeknight games this September versus last year.

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    In reply to AggBat:

    Looking at just 2013 vs 2014 really doesn't give us a big enough sample size for attendance, imo. The casual fan still hasn't bought into the idea that the Cubs might be for real. They know the Cubs are in last place and not pushing for a playoff spot. The attendance says nothing about the current product on the field.

    Now, if we see the Cubs in a run for playoff spot and the attendance is still going down over the 2014 or 2013 seasons I'd be asking why. Just my 2 cents worth....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I guess I was hoping the casual fan had a clue. May bad.

  • In reply to AggBat:

    Not enough information from just looking at those figures to get any idea. Ticket sales are down this year. We don't have the numbers for walk up sales. We don't have turnstile numbers to compare actual attendance. Many fans could have purchased tickets on the secondary market. It is hard to compare game 68 2013 versus 2014 without looking up opponent, day of week, weather and if the game was part of a partial package.

  • I like the idea of signing Lester because the #1 spot in the rotation is the only one we know we can't fill internally--Arrieta is either going to be an OK #2 or an outstanding #2. Then we have 2015 to see which of our many internal options for #3, #4, and #5 work out best.

    Lester will sign here only if he is willing to accept less than what some other teams will offer. Based on what he's said about family and personal happiness, I think that's possible. His friend Dempster can fill him in on that. But signing Martin makes the Cubs a lot more attractive.

    So, signing Martin gives you leverage in a number of areas. First of all, there are veterans and there are veterans. If you're looking for leadership by example, Martin's the top one available. And pitching to one of the best defensive catchers in the game improves all our pitchers. Having Castillo as a super-backup to give him plenty of rest enhances his effectiveness and longevity and having Martin as mentor improves Castillo. In 2016, having Martin helps Schwarber and Castillo becomes a very valuable trade chip. Having Schwarber means that Martin can be platooned and eventually be flipped to a contender in 2017 or after if need be or remains a platoon or super-backup/player-coach type of guy, like Henry Blanco was.

    Lester and Martin--that's the ticket for me.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    ...and Martin is a year younger than Yadier Molina and just as good for all practical purposes. The moment Russell steps into that clubhouse he would be the team leader for these "kids" and I'm OK with that. Having Russell as our starting catcher with the lineup we're going to have in 2016 just screams "championship team" to me.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    I'm not so sure the Cubs are gonna get outbid on Lester. Their payroll is so ridiculously low that they can beat anyone for two TOR starter's services and still not sniff $100 million.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Just because we have the payroll flexibility doesn't mean Epstoyer will spend it frivolously. I actually expect other teams to outbid us. He is rumored to be in line for a 6-7yr $150-$175MM deal. He'll be 31yo when he reports to St next year... No way he provides any value on that kind of deal.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    One thing the Cubs can do that other teams can't is front load. It gets really expensive to do that when you're paying luxury tax. And players love Money Now.

    It also makes the end of the deal much more palatable.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    No way he provides any value on that kind of deal.

    You know that. I know that. Every general manager except Ruben Amaro knows that. So why do people still keep doing it?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Lester has said it's not about money.

  • In reply to Cubbie Sam:

    They all say that...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    No they don't.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Outbid on Lester?

    If Theo & Co. want Lester, being outbid won't be the challenge.

    I expect the Cubs to sign Lester AND make a run at Shields/Hamels(trade)/Schezer....

    We can sign 2 TOR pitchers for $40m/yr total and STILL be under $100M for next about 5 yrs with a GREAT offense... that's insane!

    Ricketts family is making hand over fist this year with embarrassingly low payroll... I would guess Ricketts has already discussed in detail with Theo that the checkbook is filled with blank checks for next year or two..

    If I had $100k sitting in the bank I'd look at buying any type of business around Wrigley... the next 10 yrs will be a gold mine. Ricketts must be dreaming in $'s these days....

  • In reply to cwolfe11:

    "I expect the Cubs to sign Lester AND make a run at Shields/Hamels(trade)/Schezer...."

    Not sure why you have such "expectations". Seems more like wishful thinking...

    There is absolutely no guarantee we sign Lester. Based on recent off seasons, there's a better chance we do in fact get outbid for him.

    I just dont see them spending the big $$ necessary to get Shields/Scherzer plus a draft pick right now.

    Me thinks you're setting yourself up for disappointment with those "Expectations".

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    In reply to cwolfe11:

    Theo has already stated that he likes next year's crop of free agent pitchers more than this year's. So I could see the Cubs making a serious run at Lester up to a point and waiting until next year before they make another play for a TOR pitcher....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I wouldn't put too much stock in what a intelligent and cagey GM says about his interest in signing big name FAs. It's not like he's going to publicly tip his hand as to how badly he wants to sign someone.

    That said, I agree that the Cubs FO will almost always be disciplined in their FA spending. They seem to have their valuations on a player's worth and they won't go too far over it.

  • In reply to cwolfe11:

    For $100k, you might be able to rent a parking space at a Wrigleyville business.

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    I really don't see much chance that the Cubs lose a protected pick for 2015. They would have to catch the Mets at this point, and I can't see that happening with the tough schedule and Castro and Rizzo sidelined.

  • "we kind of have that bred into us that we need to win and we want to win.” That line is perfect, and exactly explains why so many of us fans will always root for the Cubs to win. It's the essence of competitive spirit, what makes guys like Jeter and Rivera icons in the sport.

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    What's the latest word on the Houston 2014 draft situation? Last I heard was that MLB was trying to reach a resolution. I sure hope Houston isn't awarded the #2 pick for "scamming" the system...

  • To Thin Blue Line,

    That's what I've been thinking.

    Here's a few ?'s I have.

    1--What is Martins status after this year. Is he a free agent..,or do we have to trade to get him?

    2--What is fair market value to obtain Lester.., years and $'s.

    3--Let's say we don't/cant get Martin. What are some other options beside Ruiz(old)?

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    1) He's a free agent after this season. Don't know if the Pirates will give him a QO.

    2) I don't know how our front office will calculate Lester's value, but I do know that they have a method to do so and will not grossly over-pay, whereas I'm not sure that there won't be bidders who don't even think that way and will simply be determined to be the highest bidder.

    3) I don't find any of the other catcher options appealing or necessary. Castillo's OK in my book. But here's the thing with Martin: he's a year younger than Molina; according to a ranking the other day by B/R, he's rated higher than Molina, and he's a real leader in a position which is tailor made for leadership on a team where the role of "leader" is there for the taking. I'd rather that leader be a Molina-type veteran catcher than a young kid like Rizzo or Castro.

    I think signing Russell, in addition to all the tangibles in his favor, carries the added intangible of being a shot across the bow to the Cardinals especially, but the baseball world in general. This may have looked like a team of upstart kids with potential before, but with Martin in the mix I think it adds, dare I say it? Gravitas!

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    Sooner or later every bubble will burst. Even the mighty Yankees can't spend and spend and spend without consequences eventually collapsing the whole house of cards.....

  • HR's are nice, don't get me wrong, but what did I enjoy last night on a glorious late summer evening?
    1) Alcantara throwing a laser to the cutoff man and not trying to get the runner at the plate;
    2) Great defense both in the infield and OF; and
    3) Cub runners aggressively (and smartly) taking the extra base.
    Three elements I have missed for a few years.

  • I'm just hoping that Lester's comments earlier this season hold true in that he's not necessarily after the most money, but the best fit for himself and his family. Is the chance to be a hero and legend in Chicago sports history worth $20-35 million less money? I hope the FO is smart here(they will be) and that something in Lester will "well up" in the desire to cement legend status. We better buy an FAO Schwarz for Lester's little kid.

  • Unfortunately it seems that both Russell Martin & Melky Cabrera will receive Qualifying Offers after the season which most likely means that the Cubs are out on them.

    I expect the Cubs brain-trust to go hard after Lester, but with the year he is having, I believe some team will go overboard and give him a 7th year....Lester is on record as saying that "I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. In the greater scheme of things, we’re talking about just a stupid amount of money. The way I look at it is, if someone gives you $170 million and someone gives you $150 million, is that $20 million really going to change your lifestyle? "

    That' fine, but I don't think the Cubs want to go 6 years, (in fact they have given themselves an out with both Theo & Jed saying this week that they will go after pitching in the next 18-24 months, not necessarily this offseason), so if the difference is 5 vs 6 years, the Cubs can throw in more money per year to lure him in, but he will not leave 2 years on the table if some team gives him 7 (and the Cubs won't go 35+ million per year to make up for it).

    It would not surprise me if the Cubs go into next season with a rotation of Arrieta-Wood-Hendricks-Turner-Doubront, with Wada as the long reliever/spot starter in place of Villanueva....or something similar....but who knows what opportunities will present themselves....and when they do present themselves, whether it be this offseason, next trade deadline, or the offseason after, the FO will pounce and make their move.

    Consider that by next offseason the Cubs should have a much better idea of what hey have in Arrieta, Hendricks, Turner, and Doubront as well as Pierce Johnson & CJ Edwards who will be very close if not ready by then....that will give them better information with which to make a decision as well as possible trade chips that can be used to acquire said pitcher(s) if need be.

    I think it is likely that Castillo is our starting catcher again next year, but that is fine with me, I think he will continue to improve and should be our best option considering what is available. With Schwarber starting in AA next year, and most likely advancing to AAA next season, even as catcher he very well could be ready by early 2016 (much like Bryant next year).

    One intriguing possibility is that the Blue Jays are reportedly going to shop OF Jose Bautista (age 33) this offseason. Bautista has an OBP of .398 this year, a career OBP of .366, and a slash line of .267/.386/.540 the last 6 years. An OPS of .927 and an average of 32 HR during that time as well. His contract is perfect with only 1 year at $14 million, and a team option in 2016 for another $14 if the Cubs so choose...Their is no question he is a stud, would have instant respect in the clubhouse, and be a great #2 hitter for the lineup....the option year also gives the team great flexibility depending on how things work out....I'm really hoping the Cubs make a deal for him.

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    To quote Lou Piniella from 2008 when the Cubs seemed unstoppable "Let's not get giggly". Remember how well it turned out? Yeah. They got swept out of the playoffs in three games for the second year in a row.

    Ryan Dempster said of that year's team "We're not like those Cubs teams of the past" and he was right. THOSE teams, when they made it to the playoffs, managed to win at least ONE STINKING GAME!!!


    We can all sit here and wish for this player or that. We can hope and pray and dream. Won't change a thing.

    The Cubs could go undefeated for the rest of this season. They could play .900 ball all next year. But until I can say I have seen the Cubs win a World Series, I remain guardedly optimistic.

    When they win two in a row THEN they (and we) can swagger.

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