Cubs kick off rebuild with a tough pill to swallow

Yu Darvish (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Yu Darvish (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Let me start by summing up my feelings regarding yesterday’s trade in two tweets, a before-and-after:

When the return for the best pitcher in the National League last year (and a solid backup catcher) depends substantially on great scouting and development in a year when both departments have been slashed to the bone, and no Minor League season means no recent game data on any of these guys… you have to question the process involved in this decision. And the most likely conclusion I can draw is this was not a baseball move in any way. This was a cost saving move forced upon the front office by ownership and Jed Hoyer did the best he could under the circumstances.

Yes, the Cubs are pulling several toolsy players out of one of the deepest farm systems in recent history. They were all relatively high profile prep or IFA signings by an org with a reputation for a good eye at both. But they are teenagers. Three of the four have never taken a pro at bat. The “experienced” one is 20 years old with just 77 games on his resume, none in full season ball. I likened it yesterday to trading Darvish and Caratini for four Competitive Balance picks. You could use Cubs prospects Yohendrick Pinango, Ronnier Quintero, Kevin Made and Ethan Hearn as a template as well.

It is an incredibly risky package with as much (or more) floor than ceiling. Proximity to the big leagues matters when assessing prospects. The further away, the more that can go awry. The career-altering-injury window is also larger, though given all the prospects are hitters that is less of an issue than if pitchers were involved. That is not an acceptable return for an elite starting pitcher with three years remaining on a reasonable contract. Not when the team only has two other players scheduled to make more than $10M beyond the 2021 season. The Cubs now have just $38.5M committed in guaranteed contracts to three players (Heyward, Hendricks, Bote) for 2022 (plus $1M due to Craig Kimbrel as a buyout).

If the Cubs finances are in such poor shape how did Crane Kenney keep his job amidst the unprecedented layoffs by the organization? We know why. Because the Cubs are only crying poor. They aren’t actually poor.

They may not be as rich as they expected. They may even have suffered significant losses in 2020 rather than running a profit. No fans. No beer sales. Less merchandise. Marquee was undoubtedly a money pit in its rookie season. I get that. I’m not asking the Ricketts to spend like the Dodgers or Yankees. We know those teams exist on a different financial level than all other clubs. But the Cubs are on a level with the Red Sox, the Angels, the Mets, the Astros and a handful of others. Their owners are never threatened with poverty unless they are truly terrible business people. Those franchise values far outpace any debt they may incur (and all the reno and Marquee startup loans certainly rang up plenty).

If an owner of a top franchise feels burdened by the loans needed to sustain an acceptable payroll and improve team facilities, they are free to sell their shares to walk away debt free, and with a tidy profit to boot. They shouldn’t be punishing the fans of their franchise instead. And they certainly shouldn’t be crying about it publicly.

The Cubs are the only big market club in the NL Central. A division projected to be downright terrible next season. Even after this trade the Cubs still may be the favorites. And while keeping Darvish wouldn’t have made them favorites to beat the Dodgers, the Braves or Padres once they reached the postseason, they still would have had a puncher’s chance. A rotation headed by Darvish and Hendricks is capable of winning any series, at any time. All it would take is for the offense to muster a little support. The Cubs sluggers may not do that consistently, but they can do it in spurts, even in the postseason against top pitching. Rizzo has done it. Javy has done it. KB has done it. They are still capable of doing it again. And with a few shrewd acquisitions to add some contact hitters it is possible the Cubs could have forged a more consistent attack.

Instead, this trade essentially raises the white flag. Not just for this year, but possibly for 2022 as well. The Cubs could have treaded water at the MLB level and tried to retool on the fly. They have the financial might to do so. And while their farm system isn’t a powerhouse, if the right player or two broke through or the front office could uncover the right hidden gem from another organization the team could have taken the leap from mediocrity back to true contender in short order. Now, they’ve committed themselves to a longer rebuild.

The Cubs had one blue chip player performing at the top of his game. Now they have none, and they received no prospects with any hope of replacing that value any time soon. Zach Davies is a solid pitcher, and if the Cub would have used the money once considered ear marked for Kyle Schwarber for Davies instead, I’d be fine with it. The Cubs needed a proven innings eater to replace Lester. But not as the only near-term help in exchange for two roster players, including their best.

Maybe Javy or KB or Rizzo returns to blue chip level, and is willing to re-sign, enabling the Cubs to tread water enough to compete for the playoffs and build for the future. The chances of that are not zero, but given none of them are under contract beyond this year, and they are coming off down campaigns, the odds are far less than they were with a team-controlled and locked in Yu Darvish.

More on Davies and the prospects

Most Cubs fans will be familiar with Davies from his time with the Brewers. A soft tosser with a good changeup, he’ll have have plenty to relate to with Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills next season. He is due to earn about $10.5M in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent after the season. He put together a strong 2020, the best of his career, thanks to increased usage of said changeup (and far less reliance on his sub-par fastball). If he can sustain that success over a full season in 2021, it takes him from being a back of the rotation guy to more of a two-or-three WAR mid rotation starter. He’s 27 so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider extending him if he pitches well early on, but given the Cubs already have two starters with similar profiles under club control beyond this season, the fit probably isn’t here, and it’s more likely they look to deal him at the deadline (or before) for another prospect or two.

As for where the four new prospects will rank in the Cubs system? I simply can’t answer that, and very few outside the industry can either, so take everything you hear from people claiming they can with a giant grain of salt.

There is limited recent video on any of them. All four played during fall instructs, so the Cubs scouts at least got recent looks (which perhaps played a role in their decision to pursue these players as opposed to upper level prospects the Padres had at their alternate site this summer who the Cubs likely haven’t seen since 2019). The Cubs already had some similar profile players at the complex levels like the already mentioned Pinango, Quintero, Made and Hearn, along with others like Luis Verdugo, Rafael Morel, D.J. Herz, and Brayan Altuve. Where all these guys stack up against one another is just too difficult to assess accurately in 2020.

As for what I hear/read from others who have seen them, shortstop Reginald Preciano seems to have the best combo of ceiling and floor. He’s reportedly grown to 6’5″ since signing for $1.3M out of Panama in 2019. And while he isn’t likely to fill out into a monster there is hope he can develop power while still remaining at short, or enough to profile at 3B if he does have to move off. He’s a switch hitter who is more advanced from the right side at this point.

The oldest, and most polished, but with the lowest athletic ceiling is fellow middle infielder Yeison Santana. A line drive hitter who has produced high averages in his limited DSL and AZL time (.306/.418/.494 career). He’s a guy who could move quick, but could also hit a wall at upper levels if his lack of size/strength limits him at the plate. The Cubs have seen this recently with Aramis Ademan and Santana seems to fit a similar profile. There are plenty of scouts who like him though, and projects as a good utility guy or even a potential starter if he sticks at short or he maintains his ability to produce at the plate.

The other two are toolsy 18-year old outfielders. Ismael Mena is the higher profile of the two. Signed for $2.2M in the same 2019 IFA class as Preciano, the scrapped Minor League season prevented him from making his pro debut in 2020. He’s considered a plus-plus runner with the potential for average or better tools across the board. Although still considered very raw offensively, there is undoubtedly a high ceiling. He already receives good grades for his range in CF and so much will depend on how well the bat rounds into form as he looks to translate tools into production. Mena is also praised for his baseball IQ and willingness to work, as is the final piece the Cubs received, the Padres recent 2nd round pick out of Canada, Owen Caissie.

Standing 6’4″ with a larger frame to fill out into a prototypical power hitting corner outfielder, Caissie was given a $1.2M bonus by San Diego to keep him away from a college commitment. He can put on a show in batting practice already, and there doesn’t seem to be much concern regarding his ability to crush fastballs. His swing supposedly has some holes currently, but he has also been praised for his willingness to adjust and take to coaching. Reports are he also needs work on his reads and routes in the outfield, but he already possesses plenty of arm for RF should everything else come together.

If anything the Mesa Cubs should be fun to watch if anyone gets a chance to do so in 2021.

I’m not sure that is much consolation to Chicago Cubs fans right now though.

Filed under: prospects, Transactions


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  • Is winning the NL Central the goal? The Giants won the World Series in 2014 with the worst team in the playoffs, but starting with the Cubs in 2016, the eventual winner has been loaded. Heck, even the 2015 Royals had been in the World Series the year before. The idea that "anything can happen in the playoffs" feels a bit dated at this point. There is no doubt a lot to be skeptical about the trade, but abandoning the 2021 doesn't feel like one of the concerns to me.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    I agree. A couple of keen signings and a return to norm and this team challenges for the division and a wild card. It hurts to trade a #1 for sure. But there is no way to say ‘21 is a season punted away. More moves to be made.

    I find it ironic the angst over the 4 guys is high ceilings and no performance yet. But we saw how failed the high floor draft picks turned out passing on big arms for the Lange’s and Little’s. That strategy sucked. So we should be excited to add talent. Let the labs and all the facilities invested in go to work. Turn these guys into a Brennan Davis—a classic example of a high ceiling getting to work.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I approve of high ceilings over high floors. I've called out the Cubs for years about not getting enough of them in draft/IFA, and have praised them for beginning to do it the last couple of years, starting with Davis.

    But there is a distinct difference between 18-year old prospects with high ceilings and 20-22 year old prospects with high ceilings. And to risk the trade return for the Cubs best player completely on the former, without any of the latter is unacceptable.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The Padres have 6-7 prospects considered among the top 100-125 in baseball. The Cubs got none in return for the guy who should have won the Cy Young this year.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    It is hard for me to understand why the Cubs could not have gotten a better return. As others have pointed out, the Cubs gave up their top pitching and hitting prospect for Q. I get that they may need to dump salary, but I felt like they could do both.

    I am going to hold out judgement, though. I have seen the A's make too many similar trades and in a couple of years those unknown prospects turn out to be real good. I'm just happy the Cubs clearly seem willing to blow the whole thing up. I hope it continues.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Exactly. This is a combination of a salary dump request from Rickets with a guy in Hoyer that is too overmatched to pull it off by recouping some legitimate prospects. At least when Epstein traded guys at the beginning he received some value in return.

  • In reply to PhillyCubFan:

    Let's look at the key players that led to the 2016 win.

    1 Feldman for Arrieta/Strop
    2 Dempster for Hendricks
    3 Samardzija for Russell ( he was key to the ws win)
    4 torres for Chapman
    5 signing zobrist, lester, heyward, lackey. montero ross and fowler
    6 drafting Bryant
    7 i believe baez, schwarber, almora were all mid upper first round picks

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    So it took 3 flip trades, one prospect trade, 3 major FA signing, several other FA signings, 3 good draft picks and 1 top draft picks. Complete tanking only netted us Bryant (we were lucky because Houston chose Appel instead of bryant) so I am very excited about the next few years.

    Let's be honest this team was going no where. Maybe to the playoffs, maybe.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Sorry to all you Cubs Den-izens. I had a lot to say, Insomnia got the best of me.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    You essentially got Gleyber and Eloy before they became the highly rated prospects.

    Since we have been boxed out in IFA, I believe this is a move in the right direction. And getting Caissie is a steal. Electric bat.

    The dissenting view wants to anchor on rankings. I could care less what number a guys is ranked. That is our difference. The rankings are riddled with mistakes annually. I put very little stock in them. Juan Cruz was ranked ahead of Mark Prior—laughable. And all the recent Top 5 of Bryant, Soler, Schwarber, Baez, and Russell has shown how fragile and wrong rankings can be.

    Is there risk? Certainly. Use the technology. Use the facilities. And go coach these guys up to realize their potential. I use the Davis reference—a guy with high po and they coached him up making him into legit future big leaguer. Do the same with these guys. I am ok with this deal. And I can understand the view of those who have heartburn over it.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    As for rankings, I put less stock in them tan most, but they aren't useless.

    Gleyber and Eloy were consensus top three players in their entire IFA class. They were always considered on a different level than anyone else the Cubs has signed as an IFA (except Soler and his massive deal before IFA cap in place). At no point did the Cubs get them before they were highly rated. Everyone in the industry loved them. And when each was traded were already considered among top prospects in all of baseball.

    The Cubs actually do have a new IFA signing happening in January (SS Christian Hernandez) who is considered in a similar class to Gleyber and Eloy.

    And as for coaching them up? I have more faith in the Cubs ability to do so than I did a few years ago, but there has still been cuts in personnel and budget for the development in the org for next season. Not great timing to bet so heavily on polishing raw athletes.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Michael nice to see another article from you.

    Maybe the Cubs got some players that turn out to be something?

    I look at Cubs traded Darvish/Caratini for what ended up being $3.5 million dollars of 2019 (IFA) International free agent money, a 2020-2nd round pick, Davis a #4/5 starter on a good team with one year of control, and another prospects who was signed in 2017.

    Different time, but the White Sox did trade $1.25 million dollars of 2019 international money to the Rangers last year. Rangers got that for spending $1.75 million dollars in real money to buyout Nate Jones, and Wellington Castillo contracts.

    Whitesox trade $1.25 international money to save $1.75 million in real dollars.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Preciado is definitely a guy. Don't be shocked to see him in some top 100 lists. He is in the Cubs top 7-8 prospects.
    Caissie and Mena are raw, but they are the types of high upside, hard workers, baseball rat-types you want to take swings on and hope your development team can mold. They would be right with Roederer and Nwogu in the 9-20 range of the system.
    All three are potential starters or at least semi-regulars if they reach their ceilings, with Preciado a potential above avg regular and maybe even an all-star.
    Santana is more of a high floor, lower ceiling, but higher probability type. The most advanced, he could open in High-A this year, or at least reach it by end of the season.

    I don't have a problem with their talent. Its that all four are so far away. Huge gamble. And the likely only payoff comes when basically no one on the current roster is still on the Cubs. Maybe just Hoerner, Alzolay and a couple of others.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Couldn't agree more Michael.

    But I'll add this. What's the point in hanging onto your soon to be FA's after you've unloaded your best SP for teenage lottery tickets?

    I've been of the mostly unpopular opinion that Bryant and others should have already been moved when their value was highest. It's not like it was ever in doubt they couldn't possibly afford to keep them all. Then there's Rizzo's chronic back and Bryant's seemingly never ending injuries to take into consideration.

    Truth is in addition to the offensive problems until Azolay, Marquez and others prove different this is still a team that needs to buy a new pitching staff every year. And as we've seen that's unsustainable and very costly on the prospect front not to mention the budget.

    If '24 - '25 is the goal to compete for a WS again fine. Get on with it. But as you so eloquently opined teenage lottery tickets is very high risk.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    I was on record many times last spring that I expected Bryant and/or Schwarber to be moved at the deadline regardless of how the team was playing (think Theo's trade of Nomar), but COVID completely threw that plan out the window. Teams just weren't adding big contracts at the deadline, and certainly not for struggling players like KB and Schwarber. The Cubs ended up getting stuck non-tendering Schwarber and now have to wait for KB to rebuild some value and pay down his salary in the first half and then get what they can.

    I was expecting extensions for Javy and Rizzo, and for the two of them to form the veteran core while Happ, Hoerner (and eventually Amaya/Davis developed). With Willy and Darvish hanging around through 2021 (and then moved next offseason or 2022 deadline to make room for Amaya and Marquez).

    Now, the timetable on a lot of these seems accelerated. Extensions for Javy and Rizzo, while still possible, are less likely. Willy trade may happen this offseason or 2021 deadline.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    After hearing rumors of Contreras on the market, I am not sure where the Cubs are going with this. But the Dodgers and Padres are going to be hard to get past for the next two years so I say lets retool for 2023 while still being competitive the next two years.

    I think the return for Darvish was very good (obviously we all feel like we needed more) Remember Darvish has only been good for the equivalent of 1 season since he has been a Cub. He is not young and has been injury prone

    If you are going to sell high then trade Contreras now.

    Sign some flippable free agents, trade Bryant and Kimbrel and others at the trade deadline.

    So that leaves Happ, Baez, Rizzo, Hoerner & Hendricks to build around. The bullpen will mostly need to.come from these young arms that are close to chicago. Two long term rotation pieces have to come from the organization (marquez, alzolay, patterson, thompson?) Then 4 spots will have to be filled. Lead off hitting CF (davis? not sure he fits that) 3B (morel probably not ready by 2023) Catcher (amaya could be the guy by then) Top of the line starter (that will have to come from FA.

    Here is my 2023 projection
    Starters: Hendricks, Marquez, Alzolay, FA or org guy, FA. Closer Carroway.. Bullpen mostly from within the organization.
    1 CF Davis or FA
    2 2B Hoerner
    3 1B Rizzo or FA
    4 SS Baez
    5 3B Morel or FA
    6 LF Happ
    7 C Amaya
    8 RF Heyward or FA

    So enjoy mediocre baseball at best on the north side for the next two years. May still be good enough to win the central division and reach the playoffs.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Problem with trading Willy right now is there isn't much of a market. The best teams already have decent catcher situations and the mediocre and bad teams aren't adding salary.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    True, there are only 3 or 4 good options for a trade for Contreras I said trade him dont just dump him.

    If there is no good deal now hold on to him and hope he continues to be a very good player. His value is high right now but not if there arent any buyers. All you need is one good trade partner though. It should be an interesting next few weeks.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I’m interested to see how Hoyer handles it. Based on the Darvish trade, he is both rebuilding and taking what is the actual market as opposed to holding out for what people believe the market should be.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    "Anything can happen in the playoffs" is that the Marlins (the front office of which has done this numerous times, and the team was riddled with COVID) beat the Cubs 2-0, but the Dodgers still won the WS.

    "Abandoning 2021": If something like this was in the works, we now know why Theo left town a year early.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    The Cubs are in a unique situation, they are the large market team in the NL central.

    Local TV deals of NL Central estimate teams get-Cardinal $65 million, Reds $48M Pirates $44M, & Brewers $28M million. Brewers contract ended after 2020, but three of the Cubs NL Central competitors are bottom 10 in local TV revenue.

    Compare those numbers to the new 2019 Chicago White Sox local tv deal. A 5 years deal estimated at $120 million a season. White Sox signed a short term deal, but they are supposedly getting big bucks.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    I seeing now that SD is receiving $$$ in addition to Darvish and Carittini. Wow.

  • In reply to cubs09:

    Nightengale sez Willson is being shopped

  • I'm a bit shocked. The main thing I noticed in the trade is the lack of any pitching prospects--it seems that Jed has bought into Theo's theory of having a surplus of middle-of-the-diamond players, with the idea of trading them later for pitching. We all know how well that worked out.

    And the lack of system commitment to overall player development is concerning. To me it looks like Ricketts got his championship and is now wanting to focus on financial gain. Where does that leave us fans?

  • In reply to wthomson:

    The Cubs have invested heavily in arms in the draft. Their system has leaned more heavily toward pitchers than hitters for a few years. They've lacked high ceiling hitters though, and only just started restocking them in the last 24 months. More were needed.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    "We all know how well that has worked out" in all honesty the only young player the cubs have traded that I really wish they had now is Gleyber Torres. Yet without trading him you dont get Chapman and you dont win the world series. Yes they also gave up Jiminez, he is really just a DH and very replaceable in free agency.

    What did work is signing mid level starting pitchers and trading them at the deadline for near ready MLB players. I expect we will see that again in 2021.

  • Excellent perspective, Michael, surely more measured than mine. If Kantrovitz was the major influence on the selection of these prospects in particular, he is laying a heavy wager. I hope he wins, for the sake of the Cubs and their fans.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:


    Oakland has often taken a quantity over quality approach in trades, and I suspect Kantrovitz had a heavy influence on this deal.

  • fb_avatar

    I've been lurking on this site since about 2014. I've appreciated the thoughtful and informed discussions that go on here. I'm a long time fan: my first memories of the Cubs came in 1969 when I left for a two week scouting trip canoeing down the Buffalo River in Arkansas: we left with the Cubs well ahead of the Mets. You know the rest of the story, I'm sure.

    Yu Darvish was one of my favorite Cubs, and he seemed the one thing that the Cubs had missed since Jake Arietta's glory days: a pitcher who could potentially dominate any lineup whenever he took the mound. Along with Kyle Hendricks, he meant the Cubs had at least decent starting pitching overall.

    But I'd like to offer a slightly contrarian perspective on this trade. I agree the trade means the club is basically giving up on this season and probably the next, and I also "feel" that the return should be more, especially with Caratini included. But the last three years haven't been much fun; I enjoyed watching the young players develop before 2015 and watching them fade at the major league level has just been sad.

    And it seems like the clubs that manage sustained success don't do what the Cubs did in 2016 and beyond: they don't sell out totally for a single season. The Cubs had a loaded farm system in 2016 and started trading away all their top prospects just as other teams decided to start holding theirs. We paid two top prospects for Jose Quintana; gave away guys that didn't seem to fit the program like Soler and LeMaheiu (sp?); we traded our top prospects for rentals like Chapman. It was subtraction all the way...we never traded an up and comer for prospect depth to avoid all our core becoming old and expensive at the same time.

    Of course, I know "prospects are suspects. . . " etc. but the key seems to be in the plural: "prospects." If you have enough fo them as some teams always seem to have, then you always have somebody to step up when there is an injury or a player ages or when the game changes (as it has as the launch-angle/three outcome thing seems to have run its course). Maybe it's better to wait until your own core guys prove they are good for the long term. It seems to me that in extending Rizzo and Hendricks the Cubs actually made the right choices. Bryant, Schwarber, and Baez (much as I love them all) just don't seem to be showing that they are worth mega-contracts; I'd let them all go and get what I could for them.

    So, the Cubs picked up four very young guys and ONE of them will turn out to be really good, maybe two. If they hold onto those guys and keep focused on accumulating a steady run of talent, maybe they can develop talent like Tampa Bay or Cleveland, but keep the best of it like the Dodgers and the Yankees.

    Just my opinion.

  • In reply to Vox Catuli:

    "We paid two top prospects for Jose Quintana" and to where Cubs fans will be ever reminded of that.

  • In reply to Vox Catuli:

    Thanks for reading.

    The Cubs did make mistakes which shortened their time at the top. They blew too much of their top prospect depth on short term fixes (Chapman, Wade Davis and other rentals). Their 5-6 year emphasis on drafting/signing guys with command and a higher probability of staying healthy rather than emphasizing guys with stuff is the reason they were unable to bolster their pitching staffs at MLB level with internal help.

    They already began changing their mindset on these issues around 2018. The draft and IFA scouting/signing was revamped to go after more high ceiling players. We just haven't got to see the results at MLB level yet because it takes time for those players to percolate up through system.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    They traded a lot of top prospects but how many have turned into elite All-stars? Not Jiminez, Soler, Cease, Vogelbach, Candelario they are all turning into serviceable pros but remember it's now getting time for them to get payed as well (they were tradeable because they were excess at desireable.positions that the Cubs had already filled).

    Gleybar Torres he is the only one that is hard to replace (yes lemehiue but he wasnt a top prospect they just didnt know what they had)

    So use these players that are ready to be paid to restock the young prospect middle of the diamond guys. Then draft hitters, sign starters. See you in the WS in 2024

  • Good start on the economic issues, but I think that the Ricketts Family Trust made more profound errors. There is some irony in the Rams/Chargers and LV Raiders opening new stadia when they can't have fans, but the Ricketts put billions into a money pit and buying up the neighborhood when they could have had similar in a new, roofed facility near the original Gallagher Way in the northwest suburbs.

    Then there is the Marquee Sports Network fiasco. Time Warner agreed to pay $8.2 billion for the Dodgers, which cemented the Dodgers' financial future, but forced TW to sell out. Somehow the Cubs decided to partner with Sinclair, which put half of the financial risk on the Cubs, and at the mercy of carriage agreements between the cable and streaming services and Sinclair. All most people wanted to see were the games, so it isn't surprising that the streaming services dropped Marquee when the season was over, as who wants to see reruns of Bears games or one of a dozen Bears talk shows? Also, other than mobile apps, there isn't any over the top broadcasts, so one has to pay $200/mo for a cable sports package or maybe $60/month for streaming. At least NBC Sports Chicago has year round games.

    Maybe old Joe shouldn't have let fanboy Tom play with his money.

  • In reply to jack:

    Great post. Doesn’t seem like the most sound decision starting their own network. I’ve also heard rumblings that the ricketts are taking cubs profits to pay off some of their other struggling businesses. Glad to see most of cubs nation seems to see through the lies about how cash strapped the ricketts are. Cash strapped in the ricketts world simply means that they’re not as profitable as past years. In my experience in business billionaires have a constant craving and need to earn more and more. Never ending ambitions that’s partly how you become a billionaire

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    There's an argument that each business unit should stand alone, but given that TD Aneritrade was sold to Charles Schwab for $26 billion, Joe Ricketts and his clan are not suffering (although his share was reported to be worth $1.93 billion).

  • Happy Holidays to the Cubs Den family.

    This trade simply broke my heart as Yu is my favorite current Cub player and Twitter follow. Jed is continuing the tradition that started here in 2012 with Theo. We lack the drafting/development/acquisition of young, cost-controlled, power arms. This is what keeps the Dodgers, Rays, Astros, even Cardinals going year after year. Without a stable of these arms, the Cubs cannot remain competitive in the long term. I'm simply dumbfounded we couldn't fetch one projectable pitcher from SD for Darvish and Caratini.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    Thanks, Happy Holidays to you as well.

    The good news is the Cubs have already altered course on the power arm front. They began stockpiling them over the last two years, they just haven't quite filtered up into the Majors yet. They will start doing so over the next year or two. You'll start seeing plenty of 95-100 soon.

  • Eric Longenhagen just came out with a pretty glowing review of Preciado from instructs, and also mentions Santana has filled out some, which I mentioned as a previous concern regarding him. That makes me feel a little better.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    He has Preciados in his Top 50 now. He likened him to Cory Seager. There is a lot to like with him.

    Santana has filled out and was the #1 defender in a deep Padres system already showing plus bat to ball skills.

    We will see, but as stated I am not down on this at all as probably the vast majority are.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Cool - thanks for posting the link. Read the article and feel a bit better about these four guys. Still doesn't sound like they are going to be MLB-ready for a few years, but they could be solid contributors eventually.

  • I pushed for trades, but what I don't understand is why did the large market Chicago Cubs use their biggest trade chip in what looks like a salary dump?

    How are the Cubs not able to adsorb salary in order to get a better return for Darvish?

    When I read things like paying down salary in trade talks for Kris Bryant is a non-starter. Why? Money should be the Cubs advantage in the next reload of the roster.

    I really hope and expect the Cubs now trade most if not all pending free agents, and some other players before the 2021 trade deadline. I can see a strategy where the Cubs go after volume of lower level prospects with upside in all trades for the core, and more. Spending should be a huge part of the Cubs next rebuild, it is one of their big advantages over most other MLB teams.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Yep, the Cubs should be in a position to absorb short term losses, but instead because of too much debt incurred on Wrigley renovation and Marquee they've wasted their one advantage over NL Central competition.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Do you feel different if the savings from Chatwood, Quintana, Lester, and Darvish allow them to extend Baez and Bryant?

    I would feel this is a salary dump if Heyward’s albatross were given away with some money for a 4A pitcher and he was replaced by Schierholtz type.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The difference is that this debt the team is facing is also short term. Once things get back to normal by summer and 2022, the Cubs should be in much better position to dominate financially over the other NL Central Clubs.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Salary dump? Maybe. They paid some of Darvish salary and received Davies salary in return. I think they will use the extra cash to sign flippable starters. So it wasnt a straight salary dump.

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    In reply to Naujack:

    What the Cubs are doing is exactly what they should be doing, Epstein was banking on his top players in 16 progressing and getting better. Instead it seems most of them have regressed or failed to make the necessary adjustments to get better, the only way the Cubs were to suceed over a 6year plan was to get better return and it hasn't panned out.
    I don't want the Cubs to sign Bryant and Baez to long deals, even if they start to produce this year, their records speak for themselves. And keep in mind a lot of selfish players produce in their walk years and then sign big contracts and get back to their lazy ways, want no part of it...

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    Again, I'll repeat what most others have said. However, most are ignoring that we sent Caratini too. He's a good (not great) catcher who can hit the ball and play first too.
    This is the Cubs White Flag sale. To me this looks like the Cubs really wanted to trade Yu and didn't hold out long enough. It reminds me of Pace in the Trubisky draft. He was played--if he had held out he most likely could have had him at 3 or at least Mahomes or Watson. The Cubs did the same thing. The worst that could have happened was that the trade doesn't happen, but maybe if other teams realized that Yu was in play they would have made offers.
    Of course, in 3 years maybe all or most of these prospects are in the top 100 and we have a top 5 farm system, but that's in a few years. We needed at least one ready for the majors to contribute this year besides Davies.

  • Yu was fantastic last year and finally showed signs of being an ace. However, he has shown in his past that he can be injury prone and has times where he can be ineffective.

    Not trying to defend the trade or saying I am glad he is gone, but we have to remember more than just the 12 starts he had in 2021.

  • It's a rebuild. The Cubs hope to be good by 2024&25. The world is doing a reset and so are the Cubs and most of baseball. I do not think that folks can expect the status quo to continue. Most will need to adjust to a new normal. I doubt any of us know exactly what that will look like. Maybe it won't be so different.

  • As usual - good article Michael - if a tough trade to see as worth it.

    Davies fills a need for the year, and those kids that come along with him 'could' be something,... in 3, 4 or 5 years,... But Darvish was one of my favorite Cubs last season, and I really enjoyed Caratini's game. It's definitely hard to see this as anything but a salary dump with a "Hail Mary" return for maybe 4 seasons from now.

    So now we have a likely 2021 rotation of:

    Even assuming that they spring for some sort-term FA or bring back Lester or Chatwood somehow,... that's massively underwhelming as a potential opening day rotation.

    It does kinda feel like when they chose to not bring back Aramis Ramirez after 2011 and traded Deric Lee to close out 2010.

  • Great article Michael and this comes across much more calm and collected then my rant on this topic in the comments yesterday. I just don’t see what’s the rush. I’m sure Darvish has and will generate plenty of interest in the next year, and I would’ve bet the house that a team would’ve offered the cubs some of their top prospects in time. Ricketts has now cleared 31 million in payroll getting Theo and Yu off his books. We can say these 18 year old kids have potential, and maybe they do. But for the cubs to get such a low floor group of players for a TOR starter is simply completely out of line with market precedent. I’m officially concerned about this post Theo cubs regime. I hope I’m wrong. Theo at least brought some semblance of competency to his job, despite a few mistakes. I’m more concerned then ever that the ricketts got their WS, and now they plan to implement these types of cost cutting measures like the tribune used to. It doesn’t seem like they will continues to invest money like a big market club the way they did early on in Theos tenure. So much for the tv deal making a big difference, huh?

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I find it amusing how many Denizens think the problem is that the Ricketts just want a return on their investment. The economy was rolling pretty good when the pandemic hit. I guess the resulting shutdown and lack of fans has nothing to do with the predicament that the organization and others businesses find themselves in. After all the complaining about Theo' s trades and signings, they have morphed into a few harmless mistakes. Do I even need to mention the failure of the core to produce. Let's all blame the owners.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don’t think one person on this site believes that this organizations issues are entirely on the ricketts. BUT the reason most of this fanbase it appears has turned on the ricketts is that they sure seem to put business 1st, 2nd and 3rd over winning since we got our ring. We may not be the Yankees. But like Michael said the cubs are still about the 3rd largest market, along with Boston. I don’t think there’s any question that this was a salary dump trade, and I don’t see why you need to dump a starting pitcher that was projected to be the 5th most valuable pitcher in 2021, per WAR.

    I believe as cubs fans we have a response through the media and the fanbase to hold ownership and management accountable. We all praised the ricketts from 2012-17, including myself because they gave the front office the support they needed. This ownership hasn’t been doing that lately. And what’s most troubling is that there are reports that the ricketts are using cubs profits to pay off their other businesses debt. That’s not only illegal I believe but unacceptable. At this point pretty much everyone hates the ricketts, and they made their own beds through constamtlu crying poor lately. They’ve already cut plenty of expenses by getting rid of Theo, lester, Quintana, chatwood, etc. Looks like they’re not paying most of the young core guys either. I think we’re being naive if we believe that these multi billionaires are as poor as they act, and I’m in the finance sector and know that they got some government loan support. They need to either start acting like the owners of one of the 3-4 biggest baseball organizations in the sport, or sell the team if they can’t afford to operate like a large market teams. Sure seems like past money spent was just a temporary measure to appease a celebrity executive in Theo Epstein.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I think the reason that the Rickett's are getting hammered is because of their political leanings. I think the reason Theo never gets hammered is because of his political leanings.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Bingo! I’ll add that Ricketts gave Theo a top 5 or better budget. Theo maxed it out. That is not on Ricketts.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    If you in all honesty believe this team was going to be anything but a reincarnation of the last few years, I don't know what to say.
    The Cubs are who they are, Baez, as good as he can be, is very centered on being a great home run hitter. Bryant with injuries has never lived up to his hype the last three years. Schwarber has a lot of home runs on his resume, but little else. Contrares is one player I would jump on to get a deal done, he has a capacity I don't see in other players, he seems to really care about his play and it shows, he actually tries to improve. I do like Rizzo and he is another player I would try to get maybe a three year deal done with, I'll give him a mulligan on last year.

  • In reply to tater:

    If you’ve read my posts I’ve stated in the past that the cubs have to sell high on Darvish to reinfuse talent back into the organization. Darvishs age simply doesn’t fit with the cubs window of contention, and I felt it was smart to trade him this offseason or next while he should still be strong physically. My issue isn’t in trading for prospects as much as I don’t think the cubs return is really all that close to being in line with market precedent. I actually much prefer prospects to the reports that they wanted major league win now pieces like Davies or Cronenworth. I think those guys would only turn a non contending team into being more mediocre.

    In all honesty I breathed a sigh of relief getting the 4 lottery tickets to some degree. But the cubs still aren’t getting enough certainty back, given the high price of starting pitching tin the baseball market. In addition prospects that you have to wait 3-4 years for also reduces that prospects trade value with such a wide range of outcomes for such a young career. I strongly believe they likely could’ve waited out an offer for a higher ranked collection of prospects, but I guess this package may turn out well in the long run at least. Again I agree they need to add impact prospects as this current group is no longer real contenders. I think with most cubs fans though there’s just a feeling that they allowed the uncertain economic climate around baseball dictate moving arguably their best trade chip without even getting one of the pads top 7-8 prospects in the deal.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I should also add they didn’t just cut a lot of money from the roster and management. They also got rid of 400 employees many from the revamped scouting and development departments. Recall that Theos biggest gripe when he came here was the small scouting and development departments. Do I guess it’s okay to go back to the tribune style of management now that we finally won a ring.

    I’ll personally be eagerly watching to see if those now short staffed departments are eventually revamped, as for now we’ll say it’s because of Covid. The ironic thing is this trade for all these lottery ticket prospects makes scouting and development as important as ever. Great timing to be short staffed Tom. For me this is the 1st time I’ve seen Michael ever take such a blatant shot at the ricketts. I view Michael and John in the past as voices of reason. Even Michael acknowledged how clear that it was that this trade wasn’t made for baseball reasons. And when you’re talking our best and really only impact trade chip that’s not acceptable. Hopefully the ricketts are able to prove many people wrong, because reading other comments it’s clear they’ve lost the support of cubs nation.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I expected more for Darvish, but I think the Ricketts will spend when the time is right. When they let Schwarber and Lester walk, it left Jed with option to spend now to fill in the cracks or reset and spend later. Cubs09 said the decision to trade Darvish smelled like a rebuild before he knew the return. I think the Rictetts are a handy whipping dog. They do have a business to run and nothing in their past indicates that they don't care about the fans.

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    What's disappointing to me is that SD has the 2nd best (maybe not after the Snell trade though) farm system in baseball and we couldn't get a top 100 player. Let's see where these players fit into our top 30 prospects. Looking through ours, I see only a few that are teenagers. Ed Howard is one, Quintero is another. So let's see what happens to these 4 in a year or two. Hoyer's hopefuls.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    You should read the Famgraphs blog Michael posted into a reply.

    Preciados is going to be Top 50 based on his body of work in instructs.

    The 3 IFA players all received 1st round talent grades from Longerhagen.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    I know. That's why we all have to take a breath and relax. I just saw that Bob Nightengale says the Cubs are shopping Willson Contreras. This is a total remake of the Cubs. I want prospects with elite talents.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    We completely agree on that. I don’t care where they are ranked or what age/level they played at. Give me high ceiling talented guys and let’s roll.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If they move Wilson,... then who is the 2021 Catcher? I mean,... with both him and Caratini moved and Amaya with zero big-league experience and probably realistically a year or two from being MLB-ready,...

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If you’re Jed Hoyer, who just signed a 5-year deal, it makes sense to build a team that starts calling up prospects late in 2023, and is poised to make a multi-year run starting 2024. So sell trade everyone now, including Contreras.

  • In reply to rbrucato:


  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Maybe our staff in AZ saw these guys in the fall and thought they upside was so much higher than the other top guys in the SD system. They aren't top 100 because they haven't had a chance to show their wears. Since they are recently drafted/signed, the Cubs also have good and recent scouting reports of their own to refer to as well.

    So lets let these guys play a bit before casting them off.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Jed said that SD was protecting the higher ranked prospects, for obvious reasons. So, the Ryan Pace analogy above was correct--he decided to trade now rather than hold out for something more promising.

    For instance, Addison Russell was supposedly the top prospect in the A's system, even though he busted out several years later.

  • Feeling very deflated as this year comes to an end. How did Ricketts manage to pull off an Anti-Rocky campaign? You know, after years of mostly bad will and some no will, Rocky turned the public perception and sentiment concerning the Blackhawks completely around. And, Ricketts somehow did the compete opposite with the Cubs. Biblical losses; constant whining about luxury tax. Yep, they stuck a pin in and deflated all the good will building since 2014.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Rocky did do an unbelievable job in turning around the Blackhawks. 3 Cups WOW!

    Then he, just like Ricketts (now), eased up on the pedal. The Hawks stuck with pricey diminished stars, just like the Cubs, are having to deal with the aftermath of those decisions.

  • Happy Holidays, folks. It's been a while since we had something to dive into. So happy to be here and all these great comment for so many long time Denizens. I've missed this.

    And Michael, thank you not only for this fine write up and analysis, but also for your Twitter comments yesterday as things were evolving. It was nice to have your services as an aggregator of info on the fly.

    I'm really conflicted. My heart told me that I wanted to see this group get one more shot at a playoff run. I was hoping they'd add a few pieces and that the FA-to-be players would perform very well in their contract years. I know that a handful of other teams would be favorites, but these 2016 heroes could still get hot and beat anyone. Get in and get hot.

    My head told me that these guys have been real disappointments for 3 year in a row and had been regressing, even though I say throw out the 2020 stats as meaningless. So move them now for prospects or at the deadline. A rebuild is the way to go. It's time has come.

    My heart and head both have me pissed with Ricketts. One of the richest families in sports and the Cash-Cow Cubs are one the teams financially equipped to absorb the losses of the no-attendence 2020 and likely so 2021. Surely they'd make it back in spades once things return to normal. Aggravating to see comments about debt and finances from them. It's a bunch of malarky. I'll never be able to thanks the Ricketts family for everything they did to give the most deserving fans a World Series Championship. I love him for it. But just like your kids, you can love them to death, but still be extremely disappointed and royally pissed at them.

    We won't be celebrating too many victories this upcoming season and maybe the next. But, this is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR CUBS DEN TO RETURN TO WHAT IT WAS WHEN JOHN STARTED IT:

    The best place for information on, discussion about, and the documentation of a rebuild with a focus on what's to come, as opposed to what's here. I'm very much looking forward to that. And, Michael, I am confident that you can ably carry John's torch.

    I can't wait to see what happens. As I said here many times starting several years ago: It's about the journey. Again.

    Peace and health to you all.

  • In reply to TTP:

    The problem with this team is that Tom, Theo and Jed led with their heart. They loved these guys and wanted to give them one more chance. And then another one more chance.

    And it destroyed the team. Now we are left with this. So instead of waiting again, they are doing what maybe should have been done after the 2018 season, when Theo said the offense was broken, and then went out and got .....

    Danny Descalso.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:


    Those opportunities are gone. That chapter in Cubs history is over. Funny part is for all the fun '15 & '16 were to follow watching them learn how to win post All-Star break '14 is what sticks with me the most.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    I agree mid 2014 through 2018 was the best cubs baseball since the 40's.

    Thank you Theo, Jed and the Ricketts family for making it happen.

    Lets do a quick retool and get ready for 23. (we arent competing with the sox, astros, dodgers or Padres for the next couple of years anyway). For some of us old timers 23 thru 27 could be the last hurrah.GO CUBS!!

  • Holy Cow! Michael we agree on just about everything with this trade. It’s not that we got all bad. It’s just that we traded an ace & a starting caliber catcher &

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Oops the dog shook his rain soaked fur all over my wife & kids & iPad before I could finish Lol! Was drying it off & accidentally hit the reply button. Anyways...

    And got no current top 10 players, or prospects ready in a year or 2. They’re all way down the road. That’s the issue. We don’t know they’ll move up the ladder until they do. This tells the league that the Cubs are easy to fleece in my opinion. Now I’m worried about every trade going forward. Seems we pay top dollar for our trade targets & let other teams dictate to us with mid tier dollars for their targets. It’s crazy.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Maybe Jed liked the young upside package better than the top Padre' s one, that most posters think that he should have gotten. Jed and his recent hire know more about that system then any of us. I thinking that Jed got the package that he wanted. We will see if Hoyer fleeced the Friars.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Oh boy... ok, so Jed liked #11 better than their top 1-10. Not buying what you’re selling. Jed got out-negotiated by his trade partner. Plain & simple. All 4 prospects could become good major leaguers & he still wouldn’t have “fleeced the Padres” for shipping him his ace, a MLB starting caliber catcher & cash for them. Now acquiring Jimenez & Cease for a #4 starter, that’s a fleece. Acquiring a good hitting corner OF/DH for an over the hill “closer”... Now that’s a fleece.

    And Jed has been with the Cubs for 10 years now. The only way he knows anything about these kids is thru scouting the international market, instructs & backfields. 1 kid may have played rookie league & 1 other maybe was scouted in Canada in HS. It’s like saying Theo knows everything about the Redsox most recent IFAs & HS drafts after leaving them 10 years ago... LoL!

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Didn't Jed just hire a mid level front office employee from the Padres. I think Jed got the guys that he wanted. When one looks at the projection comparables of these young prospects (Larry Walker, A-Rod, For example), I'll take a wait and see approach. I'm not saying that you are wrong, but I hopeing. Sometimes young guys are so special anyone can see it (Javy).

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    In case a lot of people aren't paying attention to the trade market, teams are not trading their top prospects unless they are getting other teams top young players or pitchers, top prospects are better than money, you have players ready for the majors are contracts that pay them next to nothing, that's why you don't trade them. the only prospect I seen in a deal so far was Patino to the Rays in the Snell deal, and you noticed there wasn't much else in that deal and the Padres got a WS pitcher and Cy Young pitcherwho is still young.
    What Hoyer did could turn out to be a trend in the future, trade for potentialMostly IFA players) who are high upside AND high floor.

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    Someone mentioned how Oakland tends to go for quantity over quality, and I was thinking about what that organization would do in the Cub's situation. With so many teams under financial stress (real or feigned), and lots of mid-level to upper level players being non-tendered, what Hoyer does next will be very interesting. I'm betting Oaklands FO will be sifting for bargains and reclamation projects, and will find some. *If* the cubs use some of the Darvish/Schwarber/Lester/Chatwood savings to pick up a few players with complementary hitting skills, then 2021 may actually be interesting even as the lower levels are restocked. I'm going to wait and see.

  • We will not know how this trade pans out for 5 years. The reality is, Darvish pitched well last year, but has not won 10 games in a season since 2014. Is Davis better, no, but he may well win 10 next year. Short term, perhaps we took a step back. Hopefully in a few years we'll look back and say this was a good trade.

  • In reply to Ringer:

    Davies is not as good as Darvish but he did have the 5th best ERA in the NL last year. He is a solid SP and he is ony 27. Yu is 34. Hopefully Jed and his scouts have done a good job and got 4 high potential prospects to develop. One thing they have done well is develop position players. Like you said we will know more in 5 years.

  • Strictly a financial decision.

    Theo Epstien got 1 WS with all he had to work with, okay.

    He did not accomplish what he stated as his goal which was a sustainable competitive MLB Club year-after-year with waves of new young talent arriving yearly from their minor leagues. Instead, he did as most all other teams and sacrificed young talent for 1 WS title.

    The organization's inability to draft and develop even 1 single pitcher is inexplicable. The failure of their minor league strategy was fully exposed this past Covid season. When one looks at all of the upcoming prospects of other teams versus what the Cubs have to show is embarrassing.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Mistakes in the plan were made going for it while the core window was in place. Obviously, their developing strategy for pitchers didn't produce results. It's all a history now.

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    There’s another way of looking at this: getting 4 prospects gives them a lot more chances to get something out of the trade.

    Assume they get Campusano, that’s pretty much your return. If he doesn’t pan out or is simply okay (think Mike Zunino), that’s it. With 4 guys, if just one of them develops into a monster, it’s a huge win.

    Is that probably in total greater than the odds Campusano makes it? Probably not.

    One other thing about this trade: if Davies performs well, the Cubs could always flip him at the deadline for more prospects.

    It does seem to be largely financially driven, and I hate that, but plague economics are plague economics and the Cubs look to be pretty bad. Hopefully Jed can pull this little pirouette off.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Welcome back Mike. Haven’t seen you post for a while but I have always enjoyed reading your conversations on this site going back with John. I admit I feel better about the return now then I did initially when I was hearing it maybe a package of mlb pieces including Davies, Cronenworth, Morejon and 1-2 prospects. I didn’t see a purpose of adding win now pieces as the Darvish trade probably signals that this team isn’t a real contender in 21. In addition there’s a big gap between a top 3ish prospect like Mackenzie gore and a top 50ish prospect like campusano. The 4 lottery tickets maybe better then getting only one of the pads prospects ranked as their #4-7 prospects.

    I’m a little underwhelmed still because like John used to say a players floor also has to be factored into their evaluation l, regardless of if they’re toolsy young talent. I favor upside over floor in general but just making the point that Jed also needs to be careful when chasing upside. It’s all a balancing act. The trade may well look good in 4 years, but at the same time I do believe Jeds process will be questioned if these kids don’t pan out. On the flip side though I’ve been clamoring for years for the cubs to prioritize more toolsy prospects with upside for years. This is the type of trade the As so often make successfully. I’m guessing new exec Dan Kantrovitz may have had a hand in this one. This trade will give the cubs a much better feel for what they have with this new front office setup.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Thanks. Not sure how much of a “welcome back” it is as my life is insane right now. I’m working with a medium sized company that just went public and it takes up a lot of time. I’ll admit I was also pretty underwhelmed by the major league product so it made it easy to take step back. This trade intrigues me because it seems like a big change is coming but I still probably won’t have a ton of time to devote to it.

    Anyhow, all as preamble to say I don’t disagree with you all that much. Unfortunately, I do think Jed was forced to do this and every team in baseball is looking to shed salary, that worked against him in return. I thought Mike’s piece on the state of the farm system was incredibly insightful and hope that Jed continues to build it up as the team moves forward.

  • It will nag at me for the rest of my days as to how this team turned into the ‘85 Bears...

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Yeah. I get that. Three things led to this, IMO. 1) blind loyalty regardless of performance, 2) Heyward’s albatross contract, and 3) firing Maillee.

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