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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Am Fine with This

As Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer assemble a 2012 team that looks to be, well, not very good, I find myself in an odd state of mind.  Of their six biggest contributors in terms of WAR in 2011, four (Matt Garza, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Peña, Sean Marshall) are either gone or apparently on their way out, and in no case does it appear that the Cubs have clearly superior short- or long-term replacements.  Ramirez was one of three 10 and 5 players on the 2011 team. Only one, Ryan Dempster, is likely to remain in 2012.

And I am fine with this.

I have been complaining about the Cubs on the internet for nearly two decades.  Think back to the early 1990s, when the Cubs sputtered and crashed after a wonderfully surprising 1989 season, hitting rock bottom five years later.  In came Andy MacPhail, an honest to goodness baseball guy, we were told, to save the franchise.  He told us not to expect a quick turnaround, that he was going to take a “slow, solid and unspectacular” course.  With Ed Lynch and Jim Hendry as his GMs, the MacPhail-era Cubs only once had 90 wins in twelve seasons, and it took them 163 games to do it.

The Epstein/Hoyer team also seems to be very cautious in its promises, and if what has happened this off-season so far is any indication, they could borrow MacPhail’s phrase for their approach.

And I am fine with that.

What’s the difference?  To me, it comes down to one thing: I think Epstein and Hoyer know what they’re doing, and MacPhail didn’t.  The MacPhail era Cubs seemed to have no more of a coherent plan than their predecessors.  Specifically, the post-Himes Cubs have let the rest of the baseball world pass them by, arrogantly embracing an approach that is a proven failure, while other teams pursued new directions based on new ideas.  No one in the ownership seemed to care as the Cubs spent considerably more than their Division rivals, only to win fewer games over more than a decade.  MacPhail did try, and strides were made in player development under Hendry, but the organization never underwent the complete bottom to top renovation that it desperately needed, so the eventual harvest from Hendry’s carefully scouted and drafted farm system was a disappointment.

At this point, we don’t know what Epstein and Hoyer are going to do to turn the Cubs around, whether we see results in 2012 or in 2015, but for the first time in my life as a Cubs fan I am willing to let them do what they think is best and not really second guess their moves.  Sure, I didn’t like turning Zambrano into Chris Volstad, but apparently Epstein and Hoyer think it was essential to get Zambrano out of the organization.  They’re in a position to evaluate that, not me.  Would retaining Aramis Ramirez for the sort of contract he got with Milwaukee have interfered with the long-term plan?  I don’t see how it would, but I assume they’ve actually got a plan, so I am not going to cry about it.  Would it hurt to have kept Carlos Peña around for a bit?  Was the return for Sean Marshall really worth it?  Their calls; apparently they are doing everything they can to turn over the old roster and get new young blood into the organization.

And I am fine with that.

Why am I willing to cut them that slack?  My main criticism of the Cubs over the years is their unabashed ignorance about using statistics to analyze a player’s contribution to winning.  Not only are the new guys not ignorant about it, they are supposed to be the best there are.  And that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

I’m not looking for ideological purity in Epstein and Hoyer, nor am I looking for them never to make a mistake.  It has been my theory for the last twenty years that the only thing keeping the Cubs organization from being a perennial winner is its unique institutional incompetence when it comes to roster construction and player development.  The Cubs have better resources than any other team in their Division, perhaps in the National League.  For decades they have spent far more and got much less.  Epstein and Hoyer don’t have to be perfect, all they have to be is pretty good, and eventually the Cubs should come out on top.

So maybe the Cubs can establish themselves as a perennial winner, and at the same time field a better team in 2012 than the one they are putting together. Or maybe they can’t.  I’m fine with that either way, as long as they deliver in the long term.  For the first time as a Cubs fan, I feel a high degree of confidence in the people running the show.

Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:06 AM | 56 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:18 AM (#4033843)
Struggling a bit with the new system...
   2. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 11, 2012 at 02:02 AM (#4033891)
Well put. Then again, I share a similar outlook, so of course I agree with what you said.

We can get - and have - into semantics regarding payroll and the team's short-term outlook. I was telling a friend earlier today that despite the probability that the team will be dreadful this season, I'm taking a real interest this off-season as Jed and Theo blow up this sucker and rebuild the franchise from the ground up the way they think it should be. The reason for this is two-fold:

1) I feel like the Cubs are doing a true rebuild for the first time in my lifetime (26 years) and frankly, it's long overdue. Yes, the franchise has the money to play with the big boys and if this were 2007 or 2008 (hell, even 2009), I'd be a little less optimistic about what's going on right now with regards to the roster construction. Those teams were maybe a player or two away from being great (and in the case of the great 2008 squad, even greater) and precisely the type of team you go out and sink money into a big free agent or two. But in 2011, the Cubs were not one of those teams. They had an offensively great left side of the infield, a closer with the ceiling to be great, a very good yet unlucky pitcher (Garza), and not much else. The Cubs found themselves in this position thanks to poor player development, which forced them to rely on heavily on free agents, which usually didn't work out because Hendry usually went after the wrong players (Soriano, Jacque Jones, Jeromy Burnitz, etc.).

If the Cubs are ever to be a team that can eventually turn its farm system players into usable MLB pieces, both in the near future and well down the road, then they need to replenish that system with guys who will be ready soon (i.e. Rizzo) and with better drafting. I know some here are underwhelmed with the overall moves by the FO this off-season. Yet I'm ready to give this method a shot after so many seasons of watching the front office misfire on the free agent market and overpay for guys who didn't really address the current team's needs. Which brings me to the second part...

2) I just trust Jed and Theo. Yeah, it's a bit more of a gut instinct, but their track record has given them a lot more slack in my eyes than another season or two of Jim Hendry or a Jim Hendry-like GM at the helm.

I agree with Andere that it's time to sit back and give Theo and Jed the benefit of the doubt for now. At the worst, we can say we've seen a different way (for Cub fans) to assemble underachieving or outright bad teams.
   3. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 02:30 AM (#4033900)
I heartily agree with all this. Very well said.

Although I'd say that I'm more than OK with this, I'm actually excited. There was some panic talk last week about the Cubs losing 100 games this year, but as things are now I think the 2012 team has a pretty good chance to be better than last year's, and they've gotten considerably younger in the process. They've taken a big step back at 3B, true, but a step forward in the rotation and in RF. Hell, even jettisoning Koyie Hill is meaningful as much as Soto gets hurt (although I'd like to think that Hendry would have at least done that much).

I'm not saying they'll contend this year or anything as radical as that, but nothing too unlikely has to happen for them to be closer to 80 wins than 60. I think they've done quite a bit with not much to work with, frankly, while doing very little that has a chance to backfire on them over the long-term.
   4. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4033995)
Although I'd say that I'm more than OK with this, I'm actually excited.

Oh, believe me, I am too. This is definitely the most momentous offseason of my lifetime. It's ironic to feel that way while the roster is in an unstable transition state.

I mean, McCoy could be right about a lot of what he keeps saying. I'm not looking to save any of the Ricketts' money. I too would like the Cubs to field the best possible team they can in 2012, so long as it doesn't threaten the plan to make the team a perennial winner. But to me 2012, if not 2013, is a minor detail. A couple of more years of sucking isn't going to hurt if we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember 2002? The Cubs lost 95 games that year, but it was a fun year because we got previews of Prior, Zambrano, Hill, Choi and Cruz. This year won't be quite like that for obvious reasons, but I am willing to put up with some ugliness on the field if it gets us to what I demand: that within the next few years the Cubs field a winner that will stay a winner for years in a row, a team that kicks everyone's ass year in and year out. I have no idea what degree of disruption is necessary for the new regime to completely overhaul the organization, but I trust them to figure that out. If it turns out that it's all a charade so Ricketts can run the team like he's Carl Pohlad, then you'll hear me complaining.
   5. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4034002)
To me, it comes down to one thing: I think Epstein and Hoyer know what they’re doing, and MacPhail didn’t. The MacPhail era Cubs seemed to have no more of a coherent plan than their predecessors.


This was probably my favorite thing about Theo's tenure in Boston. Whether you agreed with what he was doing or not it I thought it was clear that there was always some kind of plan at work. That's a pretty reassuring thing after watching a series of GMs who just react rather than act.
   6. zonk Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4034012)
Although I'd say that I'm more than OK with this, I'm actually excited.

Oh, believe me, I am too. This is definitely the most momentous offseason of my lifetime. It's ironic to feel that way while the roster is in an unstable transition state.


Ditto.

I'm going to trust the process.

On a bad team, I like roster churn -- lots of it. Ship pieces out, bring new pieces in, look for bargain upgrades, maintain payroll flexibility, snatch prospects where you can, skip the fanboy analysis of the in-house talent as better than the numbers show (or potentially better).

My only... concerns... I guess -

1) I still think the rule 5 was badly mishandled. A team as bereft of talent as this one shouldn't be losing multiple players - especially when none of them were surprises and at the time, there WAS room to protect more. Yes, Gonzalez's upside is probably Luis Rivas. Yes, Flaherty can't really field anywhere... but - they were young and cheap and some way or another, I'd have found a way to avoid just giving them away without any return.

2) I have to admit to being still a skeptic on defensive metrics. Don't get me wrong, I like the DeJesus flyer - but all things considered, give me guys who can hit. Again - I'll trust the process, but at the end of the day, I just think it's the 280/370/500 player that will always be king. Of course - they don't grow on trees and perhaps in Rizzo, they just nabbed one - but I'd like to see more focus on offensive upside.

3) I think pitching is crapshoot for everyone; and I'm not at all upset about shopping Garza (I would, too) and I like the strategy of hoarding mid/backend rotation arms with smidgens of upside... but I do worry about where that next ace comes from. This isn't a "I miss Zambrano" statement - it's a "Who starts game 1 of the 2015 WS" statement. I guess the BoSox seemed to do pretty well developing pitchers under the Theo regime, so I shouldn't worry too much, but it does concern me that Travis Wood is more or less the closest thing in the whole organization to "young SP with possible front-end upside".

   7. Famous Original Joe C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4034021)
This was probably my favorite thing about Theo's tenure in Boston. Whether you agreed with what he was doing or not it I thought it was clear that there was always some kind of plan at work.

As a Red Sox fan, I want to echo this sentiment. No, not every move worked out, and no, it wasn't always obvious what the plan actually is - but you really believe with Theo around that they had one, and that it's well thought out. The Cubs are in good hands.
   8. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4034074)
If they trade Garza they probably will flirt with 100 losses. If they don't trade him they'll be around 90 losses.
   9. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4034089)
If they trade Garza they probably will flirt with 100 losses. If they don't trade him they'll be around 90 losses.

Garza is worth 10 extra wins now?

(note: edited to be less confrontational)
   10. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4034124)
it's a "Who starts game 1 of the 2015 WS" statement


When the time comes, the Cubs are still going to have the resources to play in the free-agent pool. If Castro and Rizzo are the big bats for that 2015 WS team, that frees up resources so that the Cubs will be able to go out and buy an ace starter if they have to. That's how the Yankees got Sabathia, it's how the Phillies got Cliff Lee, it's how the Angels just got C.J. Wilson, and the Rangers are likely to get Yu Darvish.
   11. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4034127)
Garza is worth 10 extra wins now?

I think you are falling into the 99 cents trap. I did not say that without Garza the Cubs will lose exactly 100 games and with Garza they'll lose exactly 90 games.

But I do think that the difference between Garza and whomever will end up in his spot is going be a greater differance than Garza compared to league replacement.
   12. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4034132)
I think if Castro is one of the two big bats of 2015 then the 2015 Cubs are going to be in serious trouble. I think he will hit very well for a SS (or possibly a 2Bmen) but I think he'll top out as the 4th or so best bat on a good team.
   13. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4034140)
People can post whatever they want, but I struggle to see why you guys would want to have this conversation. Again.

We get it: McCoy thinks the 2012 Cubs are going to be very bad. Most of the rest of us think that isn't so likely, but there is no reason for anyone to try and convince him.
   14. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4034143)
I think you are falling into the 99 cents trap. I did not say that without Garza the Cubs will lose exactly 100 games and with Garza they'll lose exactly 90 games.

Well let me apologize, I thought you were trying to make an actual point. I guess I should rephrase my comment so that it's appropriately and nonsensically vague:

Garza is "flirting with" being worth "around" 10 extra wins now?
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4034146)
I think he will hit very well for a SS (or possibly a 2Bmen) but I think he'll top out as the 4th or so best bat on a good team.

I wouldn't go quite that far, but in general I agree that a reasonably optimistic projection for Castro as a hitter is short of what you expect from an elite hitter across the entire defensive spectrum.

This is not to say that having Castro at his projected peak as your third or fourth best hitter is the worst thing in the world.
   16. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4034148)
Will we be getting more threads in Gonfalon Cubs this season? I should say do you foresee that happening?
   17. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4034150)

This is not to say that having Castro at his projected peak as your third or fourth best hitter is the worst thing in the world.


On a good team I think it would a great thing.
   18. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4034155)
Well let me apologize, I thought you were trying to make an actual point. I guess I should rephrase my comment so that it's appropriately and nonsensically vague:

Garza is "flirting with" being worth "around" 10 extra wins now?


I'm not sure what your motivation is to be so snide. Are you trying to setup some gotcha moment down the road thus you need precision now to do it? It is January and the Cubs are going to be a bad team next year. What does it matter if the amount of wins they end up getting is a few wins or more off of what I think they'll win back in January?

In any prediction or projection there is a margin of error and pretending that one has precision is simpy foolish. Maybe you like being foolish.
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4034159)
Now that I have rediscovered "the keys," I can post something when I have something to say and the time to say it.
   20. zonk Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4034166)
I wouldn't go quite that far, but in general I agree that a reasonably optimistic projection for Castro as a hitter is short of what you expect from an elite hitter across the entire defensive spectrum.


I don't know -- I used to think his upside was essentially a modestly better Rafael Furcal, but he basically just had Furcal's age 25 season at age 21. I'm thinking his ceiling might be more of the Garciappara type with a reasonable expectation of a 90-95% Garciappara, perhaps trading a few doubles/HRs for triples/steals.

Though - his power seems to be progressing faster and more than I expected. Leading the league in hits at age 21 -- with 36/9/10 2B/3B/HR numbers makes me think he's got a good chance to be more.
   21. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4034176)
I'm not sure what your motivation is to be so snide.

Actually, I just wanted you to explain your reasoning for why you thought Garza was worth something in the neighborhood of 10 extra wins (which you very obviously suggested he is). That's why I edited my initial post to not be as confrontational as it originally was.
   22. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4034178)
And yet you went right ahead and were confrontational again in post 14.

   23. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4034184)
When the time comes, the Cubs are still going to have the resources to play in the free-agent pool. If Castro and Rizzo are the big bats for that 2015 WS team, that frees up resources so that the Cubs will be able to go out and buy an ace starter if they have to. That's how the Yankees got Sabathia, it's how the Phillies got Cliff Lee, it's how the Angels just got C.J. Wilson, and the Rangers are likely to get Yu Darvish.


Using Theo's track record in Boston I think it is quite clear this is the case. When the Sox had needs and money to spend Theo acted pretty decisively to fill them (see: Foulke, Schilling, Renteria, Matsuzaka, Drew, Lackey, Gonzalez, Crawford). Again, there are mixed results in there but assuming he is given the budget to spend he will go get that missing piece when the Cubs are at that stage. Off the top of my head there were no times where the Sox had a glaring need that they left unfilled during an off-season. Right now it looks like he is perceiving "the system" as the unfilled need and trying to stock that up with the Rizzo deal and perhaps with a Garza trade.
   24. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4034198)
I Am Fine with This

Well said. And that's why I've mostly stayed out of the terrible, tedious, and just flat out annoying Cubs threads this offseason. They hired the right guy, and for once, I'm totally convinced that the Cubs' management knows what they're doing and I sure as #### am not smarter than them. Maybe they're doing it differently than I would have, but that's ok. This is a great time to be a Cubs fan, yet I don't get that impression from any of the Cubs threads.

I haven't read this thread yet, and I might not.
   25. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4034200)
(removed because I'm tired of feeling like an a##hole)
   26. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4034208)
This is a great time to be a Cubs fan, yet I don't get that impression from any of the Cubs threads.

Actually, I think most everyone has been on board for the most part, obvious exceptions aside.
   27. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: January 11, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4034255)
I have to agree with Andere's thoughts. I can't ever remember in my lifetime being this excited about an offseason, and that's with the fairly certain knowledge that the Cubs won't be good this year.

Like others have said...it finally feels like someone has a plan. I never felt that about MacPhail/Lynch/Hendry. I also feel like for the first time management has an open mind when it comes to new ways of thinking/approaching the game.

In this division, with smart leadership, the Cubs ought to be a juggernaut. Here's hoping we might see some signs of that.
   28. zonk Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4034306)

Like others have said...it finally feels like someone has a plan. I never felt that about MacPhail/Lynch/Hendry. I also feel like for the first time management has an open mind when it comes to new ways of thinking/approaching the game.


Really?

I was optimistic about MacPhail - I mean, he had won two titles in Minnesota (granted, with flawed teams that probably got fortunate with a well-timed hot month).

I soured on Lynch VERY quickly, but I was happy to see Hendry get the job (and really, now that we're far enough removed - I think he objectively was OK... not great, but let's say Dallas Green level good).

Pales next to the confidence/expectations/excitement I have in Thed, but I would say MacPhail was a visible, if distant, second.
   29. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4034324)
Castro is going to be very very good. If he's the 4th best hitter on the Cubs in 2015, they will break their team record for runs scored.

ETA: Just looked up their historic offenses. Let me amend that to post WWII. Point being, Castro's going to be OPSing over 900 by that point.
   30. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4034346)
I was optimistic about MacPhail - I mean, he had won two titles in Minnesota (granted, with flawed teams that probably got fortunate with a well-timed hot month).

I soured on Lynch VERY quickly, but I was happy to see Hendry get the job (and really, now that we're far enough removed - I think he objectively was OK... not great, but let's say Dallas Green level good).

I was somewhat optimistic about Hendry (and MacPhail himself once Lynch was gone), but I never actually felt he had a "plan." I liked some of his deals and trades, but he never came across as someone who had a real strategy worked out, and the drafting/development didn't seem much better from previous regimes.

I think Dallas Green would be a fair comp, though.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4034359)
I am fine with Theo and Hoyer so far. It is true and encouraging that, for the first time in 40+ years, the Cubs might put together a good organization from top to bottom.

However, given the Cubs resources, there is no reason you can't rebuild the organization and put a good team on the field. But, fine -- like in most offseasons on the FA market, either go big or go home. Yes, it will probably be a decade before we see a better set of FA in one offseason to go big on, a set of FA who potentially turn the Cubs instantly into a team that might be one or two players away in 2013, but that ship has sailed.

All I'm asking from fans here is some sense of realism. Your faith in the new Cubs is fine, even justified. But do judge them by what they actually accomplish not what you think they're promising.*

So far they have done almost nothing in terms of player acquisition that significantly improves the Cubs' future. The 2011-12 offseason Cubs were not a good team and were about a dozen pieces short of being a good team. In this offseason they have added one piece that might be part of the future Cubs juggernaut in Rizzo. Otherwise all they have done is what any GM can do -- swap out mediocre or low-value* players for mediocre, low-upside prospects. Somewhat different circumstances but this is the equivalent of what Huntington did in Pittsburgh** although Huntington really had little choice but to trade off almost his entire team and didn't have players as good as Marshall or Garza to trade.

So what's the plan? Brett Jackson could be a very nice player but he and Rizzo are about all the Cubs have in potential impact prospects in the shorter-term. These new Cubs haven't even had a single draft yet so anybody we score through our mix of genius and high draft position won't be hitting the majors until 2015 in all likelihood. The FA market next year (and I think the year after) does not look good. I did a post looking at the current contracts of younger, top players and nobody except Votto (and somebody else) has much of any chance of being available (in trade or FA) before 2016 at the earliest. This includes the top pre-FA players, or at least most of them, as they've all been bought out on quite manageable contracts. So there is no source for elite talent to be added so there's little chance the 2013-14 Cubs can be _significantly_ better than 2012 (we will hopefully see development in Castro, Rizzo and Jackson).

So this looks like a 5-year plan to me. And it looks like a 5-year plan that is based entirely on doing a great job of drafting/developing then adding a big gun or two which is a high-risk plan. I don't see a Plan B. A team with the Cubs resources should always have options but we seem to have backed ourselves into a corner.

I don't see a credible plan that keeps the Cubs from being quite awful through 2014. And I don't see much potential for that "look at these great kids, I can't wait for the future" excitement over the next 2 years. Now that's fine if they build that juggernaut that first takes the field in 2015. But it won't have been a necessary and maybe not even helpful step towards building that juggernaut.***

That's not a criticism of the moves they've made. They didn't start with much and they decided not to spend what it would take to add a lot so, given those decisions, they've made defensible, acceptable moves. It's just that, other than getting Rizzo, they don't seem to have made any positive moves either -- again, not their fault given the position they were in but it's also not anything to get excited about.

Which means, alas, that a significant chunk of the excitement appears to be "revenge" excitement. Yes, there is legit reason to be excited that the Cubs as an organization might finally get their act together. But roster churn achieves nothing in itself. There is nothing to be excited about in getting rid of Koyie Hill -- he's a meaningless backup C being replaced by another meaningless backup C, not Napoli. There is nothing to be excited about in getting rid of Zambrano -- there's nothing to get deeply upset about that's true, but it's a nothing move that doesn't save money intended to please the fan base and there's no reason to like the Volstad acquisition.

And I'm a little worried you guys are gonna turn into Mets fans of the the late 2000s -- remember, the ones who insisted they couldn't trade Milledge or FMart or Pelfrey or Humber for genuinely good MLers because they wanted a set of homegrown stars to root for. I wouldn't want to see that fate befall anyone but certainly not my fellow Cub fans.

On the 2012 Cubs, I think McCoy's "90 loss" prediction is optimistic. Last year's team was about average offensively but we've lost the two best hitters (and almost no chance to replace their actual production even if LaHair projects about as well as Pena for 2012), aren't likely to get that nice production out of Reed Johnson (although the bench is OK plus Jackson and Rizzo), and other than hopefully Castro, I don't see a single hitter we can project to do better than last year while Soriano and Byrd are at scary ages and LaHair and Stewart are major question marks.

Meanwhile, the defense looks pretty bad. ZiPS rates LaHair, Barney, DeWitt and Castro all as fair (Stewart's ZiPS not available as far as I know but b-r has him as below-average each of the last 3 "seasons"). The OF could be fine (ZiPS projects Soriano as very good!). In front of this defense the Cubs will be putting out a BIP pitching staff (especially if Garza is traded) ... a BIP pitching staff with mostly bad HR rates. In Wrigley Field. With a bullpen fronted by Marmol, Samardzija and Russell.**** If Garza is gone (and assuming he doesn't bring back an ML-ready SP), the pitching staff will actually be worse than last year's.

So I'm trying to keep a realistic faith. Epstein and Hoyer have done very little so far towards building our juggernaut. Let's not pretend otherwise. My faith is based on the very good job Boston did in drafting and developing. I've commented in several threads this offseason (why is this suddenly a hot topic?) about the A's drafting over the last 10 years compared to the Rays. The A's did fine overall and quite well given where they drafted. But the Red Sox drafted in similar (or worse) position than the A's and did even better. Bard (#28), Ellsbury (#23)*****, Lavarnway (6th round), Lester (2nd), Lowrie (#45), Papelbon (4th), Pedroia (2nd), Reddick (17th), Kalish (9th) is a pretty awesome track record and those are just the ones not traded away before this year (Kelly, Rizzo, etc).

There is reason to think the Cubs will have a good system producing talent sometime around 2015 with the potential of some expensive elite talent becoming available around 2016. But that doesn't change the reality that what they're doing right now will have almost no impact on that 2015-6 team (again, dependent on what they get back for Garza) and that we are likely to stink for the next three years.

Now, where's the money going? I see three possibilities from best-case to worst-case:

a) Ricketts needs money to renovate Wrigley. Fine as a one or two-time cost if it stabilizes/improves the Cubs future revenue.
b) Ricketts pockets it.
c) Ricketts is in deep financial trouble nobody knows about yet. (NY, LA, Texas, Padres, Cubs/Trib over the last half-dozen years, it wouldn't exactly be a shocker).

*Not right for this thread but the Cub threads this offseason have been filled with the worst of the old BPro silliness about how to properly, sabermetrically build a team.

**And if you swap Castro for McCutchen, the 2012 Cubs look like the 2010-11 Pirates plus Matt Garza (in terms of actual talent, not in terms of ML experience or payroll).

*** We'll see what the Garza trade pulls in. Every move the Cubs have made seems oriented towards providing cover for losing Garza (Wood, Volstad, signing Maholm), so Garza better be a big score.

**** Have the Cubs been stockpiling AAAA starters? Because without Garza there's also no SP depth.

***** I remain skeptical about Ellsbury as a "star" but average or better is a good outcome for that spot in the draft.
   32. McCoy Posted: January 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4034442)
Well said and not surprising that the rebuttals are not quick in coming.
   33. zonk Posted: January 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4034445)
So what's the plan? Brett Jackson could be a very nice player but he and Rizzo are about all the Cubs have in potential impact prospects in the shorter-term. These new Cubs haven't even had a single draft yet so anybody we score through our mix of genius and high draft position won't be hitting the majors until 2015 in all likelihood. The FA market next year (and I think the year after) does not look good. I did a post looking at the current contracts of younger, top players and nobody except Votto (and somebody else) has much of any chance of being available (in trade or FA) before 2016 at the earliest. This includes the top pre-FA players, or at least most of them, as they've all been bought out on quite manageable contracts. So there is no source for elite talent to be added so there's little chance the 2013-14 Cubs can be _significantly_ better than 2012 (we will hopefully see development in Castro, Rizzo and Jackson).


I've been as down on the Cubs system as anyone, but if Castro, Rizzo, and Jackson all reach something approximating expectations -- that's actually not a bad
*** We'll see what the Garza trade pulls in. Every move the Cubs have made seems oriented towards providing cover for losing Garza (Wood, Volstad, signing Maholm), so Garza better be a big score.
core at all.

A Furcal/Garciappara hybrid at SS, a 20/20 with fine OBP CF, and a Richie Sexson type at 1B?

The chances of all three reaching that ceiling may not be great -- but if you got that? Well... gee -- you're just a, I don't know... Albert Pujols (heh) away from really having an exciting offense.


*** We'll see what the Garza trade pulls in. Every move the Cubs have made seems oriented towards providing cover for losing Garza (Wood, Volstad, signing Maholm), so Garza better be a big score.


Word is that Thed asked the Yankees for Montero, Banuelos, AND Betances for Garza.

My read is that he's only dealing Garza for a prime, grade A package -- which is precisely what he should do. Now or in July -- Garza is more than likely to be the best available pitcher on the market (I suppose technically, if SFG craters, Cain is his equal). The Cubs don't NEED to move him, but neither do they really need to lock him up longterm (he's not that good).

Personally, I think it would be delicious if the Rays find themselves short an SP in midsummer and give up a lot more to get him back...

If the Yankees took Soriano whole cloth WITH Garza -- would you take just Banuelos/Betances, but no Montero back? I might want them to toss in some fluffer like a JR Murphy or Corban Joseph, but I'd pull that trigger.
   34. zonk Posted: January 11, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4034451)
*** We'll see what the Garza trade pulls in. Every move the Cubs have made seems oriented towards providing cover for losing Garza (Wood, Volstad, signing Maholm), so Garza better be a big score.


BTW - I also think this is a bit misleading... Wood and Volstad are both going to be just 25 -- yes, Volstad in particular has had a lot major league experience -- but he was rushed and is still just 25.

I'm not saying I expect either to be front-end material, but Volstad and Wood in particular have a modicum of possible upside. Maholm will be 30 - we know know what he is. We have a decent case to judge what Vostad and Wood will probably be - but to different degrees with both, there's a non-zero chance they become something a fair clip better.
   35. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4034476)
I don't see a single hitter we can project to do better than last year while Soriano and Byrd are at scary ages and LaHair and Stewart are major question marks

Soto will be 29 and coming off a year that was considerably below his career averages. Right field should be improved, especially over what it was in the post-Kosuke second half of the year. Second base ought to be improved if they're willing to dislodge Barney, even by using in-house players (interestingly, Cubs' 2B overall were better than Barney individually last year); DeWitt projects as significantly better than Barney, for example. Additionally, ZIPS projects Jackson to match Byrd's 2011 production, and DeJesus/Byrd would make for a very nice RF platoon if that came to pass. Basically, 3B and maybe LF and 1B are the only positions that don't look better than (or at least roughly as good as) last year. But 1B at least has a future and potential upside for this season, so I'm not worried about that.

If Garza is gone (and assuming he doesn't bring back an ML-ready SP), the pitching staff will actually be worse than last year's.

That's a big assumption; they got an ML-ready SP back (perhaps a good one) for Sean Marshall, who has far less trade value. But still, let's assume the front end of the rotation takes a hit; the back end - by which I mean 2-6 - is much better. Volstad isn't much, but he's no worse than Zambrano ca.2011 and better than Casey Coleman. It's hard to see Dempster returning back to 2008 form, but he should get at least some rebound from last year. Wells will be 29 and coming off a year considerably worse than his career numbers. Maholm is the good, solid back-of-the-rotation guy they were missing last year. Even if disaster strikes again, the replacements won't be worse than they were last year.

With a bullpen fronted by Marmol, Samardzija and Russell

Well, the thing about bullpens is that they tend to be made up on the fly anyway, right? It's really hard for me to believe they're done adding relievers. We'll see how they look when they break camp.

There is nothing to be excited about in getting rid of Koyie Hill -- he's a meaningless backup C being replaced by another meaningless backup C, not Napoli.

Come on, I'm not making it out to be a game-changing move but Hill had almost 800 PA over the last five seasons - a not meaningless amount - and put up a 48 OPS+ for our troubles. 48! And that's with what I think we can all agree was very overrated defensive contributions. Given Soto's injury history, I don't think it's unreasonable to point out that Castillo/Clevenger are almost certain to make the C position signigicantly better even if Soto doesn't rebound.

I dunno. In some sense it seems odd to be arguing about a team that isn't built to contend, and I guess I understand your concerns about the long view. But, like I said above, I think the front office has done a decent job of upgrading the overall talent level of the organization in an offseason where they really didn't have much to work with.
   36. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4034577)
One other thing that I'm excited about, while I'm thinking about it-

The Cubs managed to get Ronald Torreyes from the Reds in the Marshall deal. Torreyes tore the Midwest League a new one last year, hitting .356/.398/.457. Clearly that's a lot of batting average, and there's reasons to be wary about guys in A ball, etc. All the usual caveats apply.

But the dude was 18 years old. Does that make him a future All-Star? Of course not. But he was also a throw-in in a deal for a reliever. And I find myself wondering, how often did they used to get interesting prospects like this back during the Hendry era? Hendry dealt Greg Madduz for Cesar Izturis, for crying out loud. It always seemed like, after a trade involving prospects, that I'd look up the numbers and find some guy who was 23 and just had a tough year in the low minors. Nobodies, really. I'm sure there were exceptions (like Murton, I guess) but I don't remember getting anyone like Torreyes.

They got Zach Cates from the Padres in the Rizzo deal. Cates just made his pro debut last year, and wasn't great in the Midwest League. But you know what? He's better than the minor leaguer they sent to the Padres. I can maybe see Cates being a serviceable major league reliever at some point in the future. Or not, of course, but at least it will be worth keeping track of him for now. He's 22 this year and might actually have some upside. And again, he wasn't the centerpiece of the deal but a throw-in.

Weathers ... well, Weathers isn't like that. He's more like the guys I remember getting back in Hendry trades, already pretty old and decidedly unlikely to make an impact in any way. I'd frankly probably rather have LeMahieu.

But still, in 2 of 3 trades involving prospects, they got someone who is at least interesting. I have confidence that they're going to take that aspect of trades very seriously, and I never got that feeling before.
   37. villageidiom Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4034745)
As a Red Sox fan, I want to echo this sentiment. No, not every move worked out, and no, it wasn't always obvious what the plan actually is - but you really believe with Theo around that they had one, and that it's well thought out. The Cubs are in good hands.
Just be prepared for a long wait. Epstein was generally very patient, and would go for long stretches appearing not to have a solution, until finally the "right" deal gets made. At the time Damon left the perception was that they couldn't replace him. Then a couple of trades later they had Coco Crisp, who (at the time) had a decent chance to make up for a lot of what they lost. Later, Crisp was replaced with Ellsbury, but Epstein was perfectly content carrying both of them on the roster for a long time. The Adrian Gonzalez deal was supposed to happen almost a full year before it actually did, and by the time it happened we all thought it was never to be. And of course he tried to unload Manny Ramirez early and often, but waited several years before making the move.
   38. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4034747)
All I'm asking from fans here is some sense of realism. Your faith in the new Cubs is fine, even justified. But do judge them by what they actually accomplish not what you think they're promising.*

Let's not judge them at all. It's January.

So this looks like a 5-year plan to me. And it looks like a 5-year plan that is based entirely on doing a great job of drafting/developing then adding a big gun or two which is a high-risk plan. I don't see a Plan B. A team with the Cubs resources should always have options but we seem to have backed ourselves into a corner.

I don't think this is the way to look at it. THE plan is to rebuild the player development system. That, certainly, is a long-term plan; five years should be the point when we first start seeing that come to fruition. There is nothing you can do to make that work faster.

Otherwise, the plan is surely a lot of things: free agent pickups, trades, both for veterans who can help now and for new blood in the farm system. The Cubs are sitting on the sidelines in what looks to be a big year for free agents. Again, I'm fine with that. If waiting five or six years is what it takes to get players the likes of Pujols and Fielder at their peaks rather than watch them in their long decline phases, then I am willing to wait for that. The latter is a movie I have seen before and it isn't very good. Picking up veterans is great, but it makes more sense if you have an 85-win team and are trying to get over the hump than it does with a team that looks sub-.500. And I really don't think the "Buy now because the good players won't be available later!" plan is a wise one.

Again, did they have to let Ramirez walk? Turn Zambrano into Chris Volstad? I don't know, but I fully support the idea of gutting the roster as much as is reasonable. I'm not in the clubhouse so I am not in a position to judge the impact of these things. I am confident that the Cubs suffer from a gravely diseased institutional culture, so I support the idea of erring on the side of Matthew Chapter 5 when it comes to cutting things off.

I don't care if it takes them ten years. Build a real ####### baseball team.

On the 2012 Cubs, I think McCoy's "90 loss" prediction is optimistic.

The buds are swelling on the maple trees around here so I can understand the confusion, but fact is it's still January.

I don't know what to say about Ricketts and money. Frankly, he has stricken me as a bit of a glad-handing flake pretty much from the beginning. But he put his money where his mouth is by putting Epstein in charge. I find it hard to believe that Epstein is playing along with a clandestine plan to direct money out of the roster and back into his pockets.
   39. Joe Kehoskie Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4034762)
If waiting five or six years is what it takes to get players the likes of Pujols and Fielder at their peaks rather than watch them in their long decline phases, then I am willing to wait for that.

[...]

I don't care if it takes them ten years. Build a real ####### baseball team.

This sets a new standard for "trusting the process." If I was Ricketts, you'd be on my Christmas list (if not my payroll).
   40. Brian C Posted: January 11, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4034766)
I wonder if Ramirez wasn't more unwilling to come back than the Cubs were to have him. IIRC he declared his unwillingness to be part of a rebuilding team, and pretty much immediately the story with him was that he wasn't coming back. And that was something that was made clear by his agent in addition to Epstein saying it.
   41. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4034831)
If it takes Theo ten years to build a baseball team then he has failed as the leader of this team. Hell, if it takes 5 to 6 years to build a baseball team he has failed.
   42. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 01:02 AM (#4034844)
The Cubs could have done the Zambrano deal for Volstad and the Cashner trade for Rizzo. Then signed Maholm and DeJesus. Signed Pena and Ramirez to three year deals (or less if that is the market for Pena). Kept Marshall or traded him for Wood and some prospects. The Cubs would still have their 5 year plan on track (or is it untracked?) and still put a decent team out on the field that woudn't hurt them long term have a shot at contention next year and they could have built upon it slowly year by year.

Soto
Pena
Secondbase mess
Castro
Ramirez
Soriano
Byrd
DeJesus

LaHair
Rizzo
Johnson
Backup Catcher
rest of secondbase mess
Campana

That isn't murderers row by any means but it is a decent lineup with a chance to be either average or slightly above average.

Garza
Dempster
Maholm
Volstad
Wells

Marmol
Marshall
BPJ
Mateo
Gaub
Somebody else

Same thing here. They wouldn't have been the 1990's Braves by any stretch of the imagination but again if things break just a little bit right they could put up an average or better season.

And if they don't so what. What did it cost the Cubs? Nothing. If it fails horribly you trade Marshall, Marmol, Byrd, Garza, and Dempster in season.


If Theo had actually done this instead of me suggesting it a lot you guys would be nodding your heads and saying trust the process. Right now it appears that Theo is in the middle of a honeymoon period with a bunch of fans.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4034848)
My read is that he's only dealing Garza for a prime, grade A package -- which is precisely what he should do.

Similar to what I said -- the moves this offseason seem focused around trading Garza. Might be a bit too much of putting our eggs in one basket but it's certainly the nicest basket we've got. I just don't know what happens if Garza isn't dealt or can't pull in a big package.

If the Yankees took Soriano whole cloth WITH Garza -- would you take just Banuelos/Betances

I can't remeber which one, but there's one of the B's I am significantly unimpressed with -- whichever of them is 24 and still only projects to a 79 ERA+. Are people (not you guys, generally) really excited by a guy who looks like a AAA Ollie Perez? And Montero? Why did we trade for Rizzo if we're trying to trade for Montero? Does Theo think Montero can play C? (to replace an aging Soto and allowing Theo to trade Soto now.)

As to your proposed trade -- looks great in that BPro neo-saber sense I took a swipe at. But what exactly are we gonna do with all that money we save by dumping Soriano? I mean it would be a great/amazing trade to get rid of him without eating (what) $40-50 M. But I keep coming back to the question of what are you going to do with that money? Without Soriano and Garza (and assuming no big contract in return) Cub payroll would sit at $50 M with arb awards coming that would probably push it to $70. Committed payroll for 2013 would be $14 M and 2014 would be zero. A $55-65 M reduction in payroll in one offseason. On the one hand, that would be an amazing job of GM'ing and would give the Cubs tons of payroll flexibility.

On the other hand, from the fan's perspective, payroll flexibility is also meaningless in itself; you need something to spend that money on. You can't spend $60 M in the draft. Even after arb awards, the Cubs would have up to $80-90 million to spend next offseason ... on Howie Kendrick? (wait, didn't he just get extended?) Seriously, if we signed every FA next offseason I'm not sure we could spend that much money.

I'd be happy to get rid of Soriano. But I just can't figure out who we're clearing the payroll for. That's why I looked at those young players, try to find the superstar FA-to-be or the next Adrian Gonzalez and all I can find is Votto in 2014 then maybe a few guys in 2016. Lincecum (I forgot to look at pitchers, he's up in 2014)? Felix, also 2014? Hamels?

Maybe that's it. Hope Castro, Jackson and Rizzo are really good in 2014, have an $80 M rotation and pray they don't break down.
   44. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4034856)
One last little kicker. Theo built the 2011 Boston Red Sox which if Hendry had built that same exact team we would view them as even less enjoyable than the 2004 team. So we can say "trust the process" and "I'm fine with this" but let us not pretend that Theo is perfect or that these moves are great moves. For the most part these moves are simply moves.
   45. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2012 at 02:18 AM (#4034877)
BTW - I also think this is a bit misleading... Wood and Volstad are both going to be just 25 -- yes, Volstad in particular has had a lot major league experience -- but he was rushed and is still just 25.

That's not quite the point. The point is the Cubs made those trades in exchange for "ML ready", heck ML experienced, starters, not SP prospects. This is a rebuild but he got ML-experienced talent that, even if they do pretty well, are unlikely to be on the 2016 Cubs. Why did we pick them up? They are here to be (we hope) league-average innings eaters. Those pickups plus Maholm give the Cubs 6 starters. Clearly we only need 6 if we're trying to get rid of one. And this is the standard "god our team sucks" move of trying to not embarrass ourselves on the mound.

Having those pieces in place allows them to trade Garza for pure potential.

Soto will be 29 and coming off a year that was considerably below his career averages.

He put up a 96 OPS+, ZiPS projects a 101.

Right field should be improved, especially over what it was in the post-Kosuke second half of the year.

Kosuke gave us 350 PA of a 105; Johnson played over half his innings in RF so that's about 150 PA of a 122; Cubs RF put up as a whole a 262/332/394 line. That's about a 100 OPS+ actually. A quick Marcel for DeJesus gives a 106 in about 500 PA.

2B has some promise but don't get too excited. I'm expecting a DeWitt/Barney and Stewart/Baker platoon most of the time, still plenty of playing time for Barney.

But we seem in basic agreement -- worse at 1B and 3B, about the same everywhere else -- worse offense. Note the Cub offense actually had pretty good health last year -- 5 guys made it over the 502 PA mark, Soto (impressive for a C) and Byrd were a smiggen short and Kosuke was healthy the whole time he was here. But other than Castro and Soto it won't matter a whole lot if any of the starters gets hurt.

That's a big assumption; they got an ML-ready SP back (perhaps a good one) for Sean Marshall, who has far less trade value. But still, let's assume the front end of the rotation takes a hit; the back end - by which I mean 2-6 - is much better. Volstad isn't much, but he's no worse than Zambrano ca.2011 and better than Casey Coleman. It's hard to see Dempster returning back to 2008 form, but he should get at least some rebound from last year. Wells will be 29 and coming off a year considerably worse than his career numbers. Maholm is the good, solid back-of-the-rotation guy they were missing last year. Even if disaster strikes again, the replacements won't be worse than they were last year.

Not to be weasely but I said "pitching staff" for a reason. The bullpen will be worse and could be horrendous.

If Garza is gone, the Cubs rotation is Dempster, Wells, Maholm, Wood and Volstad. Dempster projects to a 96, Wells to a 91, Maholm has a 91 ERA+ the last 3, Wood a 95 career ERA+ (200 IP) and Volstad an 84 the last 3 years. I will believe Volstad will be decent when I see it. That is not good. And who comes up when one of them gets hurt? McNutt, Coleman and Jackson all project to 82 or worse.

If Garza is gone, the Cubs will have no starters and only one reliever projected to be above league-average. We laugh at projections like that when Dan posts the ZiPS. That is a good match to the projections of the Astros pitching staff. The Cubs were 14th in ERA+ last year and, if Garza's gone, they've lost their two best pitchers (Marshall); their 3rd best pitcher was Samardzija.

Really this is a classic Cubs bad team. Look at the position players and everybody save one or two (Soto/Castro) is below-average but none of them are so awful that you get too worked up about needing to replace them. Plus, if you squint, you can just see how the DeWitt/Barney platoon will be OK and Stewart was once a prospect and LaHair could be the next Pena and ... On the mound, hey Dempster used to be good, Wells had a nice season, Wood and Volstad are promising and Maholm is solid.

Icky icky poo poo.
   46. Joe Kehoskie Posted: January 12, 2012 at 03:06 AM (#4034888)
As to your proposed trade -- looks great in that BPro neo-saber sense I took a swipe at. But what exactly are we gonna do with all that money we save by dumping Soriano? I mean it would be a great/amazing trade to get rid of him without eating (what) $40-50 M. But I keep coming back to the question of what are you going to do with that money? ...

I tried arguing this in a bunch of (mostly) Blue Jays threads last fall, and people simply aren't impressed with the logic. Judging by a lot of the message board chatter, baseball's in a Bizarro World era in which large numbers of saber-minded fans — who are well-intentioned but seemingly too clever by half — seem to prefer that their team win 80 games with a $60M payroll than win 95 games with a $100M payroll. An odd amount of focus seems to be on payroll efficiency for payroll efficiency's sake.

(I know neither of my preceding payroll examples are likely to apply to the 2012 Cubs, but the general point seems applicable. I had the same thought as Walt when someone mentioned using Garza as a means of dumping additional salary.)
   47. KyleJRM Posted: January 12, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4034952)
Right now, I've got the Cubs at about 76 wins, but that buys heavily into the peripherals-based projections on pitchers like Wood and Volstad.

Pretty much every move this offseason has given the Cubs depth and it's given the Cubs players who have statistical projections that profile better than their reputations (albeit in some cases, even the projection isn't that great).

If you don't believe that Travis Wood is a 3-WAR pitcher and Chris Volstad is a 1.5-WAR pitcher given a full season each, then yeah, you probably hate this offseason. But I'm pretty sold on it, though a full rebuild wasn't my first choice.

The only move that befuddles me is Ian Stewart. He suckity suck sucks with a suckiness rarely seen outside the Suck Zones of Suckulon Five.
   48. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 12, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4034968)
I was not serious about the ten years thing. Geez.
   49. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 12, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4035030)
The only move that befuddles me is Ian Stewart. He suckity suck sucks with a suckiness rarely seen outside the Suck Zones of Suckulon Five.


He was traded for Tyler Colvin, wasn't he? I'm not sure your last sentence has enough "suck"s in it to describe Colvin. He's a mediocre 4th outfielder who can't play CF on a team that doesn't care about OBP. I'll grant that the trade of suck-for-suck was fairly pointless, but even there, I think the Cubs probably got the better player.
   50. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: January 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4035037)
If Theo had actually done this instead of me suggesting it a lot you guys would be nodding your heads and saying trust the process. Right now it appears that Theo is in the middle of a honeymoon period with a bunch of fans.

Well, you know what, Theo is smarter than you and knows better whether or not your plan was possible or whether he thought it'd be successful or not. So yes, I'm going to trust Theo's moves over your theories. If you call that a honeymoon period, fine. If he happens to make a move I would have thought of, or you, or any other internet schmuck, great. So, #### yes, I'm going to trust the ####### process.

One last little kicker. Theo built the 2011 Boston Red Sox which if Hendry had built that same exact team we would view them as even less enjoyable than the 2004 team. So we can say "trust the process" and "I'm fine with this" but let us not pretend that Theo is perfect or that these moves are great moves. For the most part these moves are simply moves.

The 2011 Red Sox won 90 games in the AL East last year. They have a core that can win that much again this year, and next year. And oh yeah, they've won 2 WS in the last decade. So guess what, as unenjoyable as last season was for Red Sox fansI would unquestionably trade the last decade with them in a heartbeat. And that's why I trust the process.
   51. KyleJRM Posted: January 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4035041)
"He was traded for Tyler Colvin, wasn't he? I'm not sure your last sentence has enough "suck"s in it to describe Colvin. He's a mediocre 4th outfielder who can't play CF on a team that doesn't care about OBP. I'll grant that the trade of suck-for-suck was fairly pointless, but even there, I think the Cubs probably got the better player."

It's not what we gave up to get Stewart that bothers me. It's what we're giving him: A roster spot and a starting job. Colvin was worthless and could have just been released. I'd say the same for Stewart.

He's a guy whose power is his big plus tool, but he has fewer home runs in his last 54 games than Darwin Barney or Tony Campana.

   52. zonk Posted: January 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4035049)
Who else were you going to get to play 3B?

Actually, my answer would have been to give Flaherty a shot at the job, so never mind...
   53. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4035068)
The 2011 Red Sox won 90 games in the AL East last year. They have a core that can win that much again this year, and next year. And oh yeah, they've won 2 WS in the last decade. So guess what, as unenjoyable as last season was for Red Sox fansI would unquestionably trade the last decade with them in a heartbeat. And that's why I trust the process.

The 2004 Cubs won 89 games and the previous season saw the Cubs win 88 games and come within 5 outs of the World Series yet despite all that most fans hated the 2004 team including most of us here.

Well, you know what, Theo is smarter than you and knows better whether or not your plan was possible or whether he thought it'd be successful or not. So yes, I'm going to trust Theo's moves over your theories. If you call that a honeymoon period, fine. If he happens to make a move I would have thought of, or you, or any other internet schmuck, great. So, #### yes, I'm going to trust the ####### process.



This is silly. Theo had to trade Colvin for Stewart so he could sign DeJesus? Picking up Bianchi meant they could trade Cashner? About the only things I've suggested that were not done were to resign Pena and Ramirez. Ramirez signed a 3 year deal and I'm guessing Pena is going to end up signing a 2 to 3 year deal. Those moves are not possible for the Cubs?

One last thing, Theo signed Carl Crawford. Go ahead and trust the process.
   54. Brian C Posted: January 12, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4035166)
2B has some promise but don't get too excited. I'm expecting a DeWitt/Barney...platoon most of the time

Well, if you're going to quote ZIPS projections like they're from the Bible, look at Barney and DeWitt's projections and get back to me.

Besides which, a DeWitt/Barney platoon is a bad idea, since DeWitt has always had a reverse platoon split. Of course no one in Cubs management has ever noticed this, but it's the kind of thing that the new regime really ought to act on.

Not to be weasely but I said "pitching staff" for a reason. The bullpen will be worse and could be horrendous.

Like I said, I don't think we know who will be in the bullpen. We'll see.

So guess what, as unenjoyable as last season was for Red Sox fansI would unquestionably trade the last decade with them in a heartbeat.

QFT. How bringing up the 2004 Cubs team is supposed to serve as a rebuttal to this, I can't even begin to guess.
   55. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4035173)
Um, 2004 wasn't a rebuttal to that. 2004 was brought up first and the reply was that he'd take a shvtty 2011 if it meant we get 2003 to 2011 which isn't really a proper rebuttal to what I was talking about.
   56. McCoy Posted: January 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4042379)
Davenport put up projected standings yesterday. He has the Cubs at a record of 72-90 with only the Astros being worse in the NL.

Aramis 3.9 WARP to Ian's 1.6
Pena 2.1 to LaHair/Rizzo's 1.6
Zambrano 24 RAR to Volstad's 14

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