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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Kent Sterling: Cubs – Reason for Bidding on Masahiro Tanaka Even More Nefarious Than I Thought

Sterling…blowing harder than Lester Sterling.

The Chicago Cubs are supposedly putting their best foot and checkbook forward in trying to lure Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka to ply his wares on Chicago’s North Side, but there is no chance at all that he accepts – and the Cubs know it.

On its face, the bidding is idiotic.  The Cubs have no chance to win in 2014 and 2015 – zero.  Why would the Cubs spend $20+ million per year for a pitcher who might help them win 73 games instead of 64?

After purging tens of millions from a payroll loaded with expensive mediocrity, the Cubs now boast a roster filled with cheap mediocrity, and that’s the way owner Tom Ricketts likes it.

...Tanaka will sign with a team that consistently demonstrates a desire to win, and the Cubs take a backseat to no one in their aversion to onfield success.  The Cubs will publicly lament their loss, but privately celebrate another offseason of reducing payroll under the guise of building the farm system.

Fans will pay outrageous ticket prices to drink beer at Wrigley Field, sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and then roll out to the Cubby Bear or Harry Caray’s for more beer.  The Cubs will lose many more games than they win, but no one will care because Javy Baez and Kris Bryant are only a year or two away, and are tearing the cover off the ball for the West Tennessee Smokies.

Hope sells in Chicago.

Brighter days are ahead for the Cubs, or so Rickett and Cubs president Theo Epstein say.  How could they not be?

The brightest days belong to the vastly overpaid Epstein and Ricketts, who will host 81 great parties that occur simultaneous to a bad baseball game being played.

Repoz Posted: January 18, 2014 at 10:02 AM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs

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   1. Transmission Posted: January 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4641483)
Well, I am none the wiser from that minute of reading.

His writing style makes me think of my most common bit of stylistic advice to my students: writing with fancy words and turns of phrases is like cooking with herbs and spices; less is more. They are there to bring out the essentials of what you're serving up, not to bury them.

   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4641484)
According to Cot's, the Cubs currently have $54 million in payroll (and Soriano obligations) covering 9 roster spots. Per the arb estimator from MLB Trade Rumors (and subbing in Pedro Strop's deal) the Cubs will spend another $22.9 million to cover another 10 roster spots. Fill in the last six roster spots at the $400K minimum and that looks like a payroll just a hair under $80 million. Last year's opening day payroll was just under $107 million.

So the Cubs could sign Tanaka for $27 million a season and would basically meet the 2013 payroll.
   3. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4641486)
I am so sick of the argument "what's the point of going from 64 to 73 wins" or some variant. First of all fans pay money money to go see games and deserve a decent product. Second, unlike the NFL Or NBA there is limited benefit to playing for a draft pick. Lastly, several teams in recent years have shown that they can far exceed projections.

Getting good players is better than not getting good players,
   4. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: January 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4641487)
And if Tanaka is worth 9 wins this year, I'll give you a $600 pair of loafers.
   5. Tricky Dick Posted: January 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4641488)
Tanaka is worth 9 wins? That's 2.5 wins better than Kershaw.
   6. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 18, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4641491)
I am so sick of the argument "what's the point of going from 64 to 73 wins" or some variant. First of all fans pay money money to go see games and deserve a decent product. Second, unlike the NFL Or NBA there is limited benefit to playing for a draft pick. Lastly, several teams in recent years have shown that they can far exceed projections.

Also, presumably you'd have Tanaka under contract long enough to still be around when you're expecting to be good again.
   7. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: January 18, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4641492)
I am so sick of the argument "what's the point of going from 64 to 73 wins" or some variant.

While I do not agree with your statement here, it doesn't really matter. You're not signing him to a 2-year contract. He'll probably get, what, 7 years? And he's 25 years old now. So going up a few wins in 2014 and/or 2015 at a high cost is worth it to have that player during what you hope is a contending team.

This is not signing Pujols at 31 years old or Fielder at 350 pounds when the team is 4 years away.
   8. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4641593)
Signing with the cubs makes pretty good sense, the fact they arnt expected to compete this year will allow him to transition into playing and pitching here.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4641596)
I'd bet he was worth 9 wins in Japan last year. Gimme my loafers!
   10. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4641601)
Of course, Jose never said that Tanaka would put up 9 WAR in MLB in 2014. I suppose if he'd written "I am so sick of the argument 'what's the point of going from 67 to 71 wins' or some variant" the response would have been "And if Tanaka is only worth 4 wins this year, I'll give you a $600 pair of loafers."
   11. Brian Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4641602)
The idea is that you pass on Tanaka, save the money and spend it two years from now on that years 24-0, 1.27 ERA, 25 year old Japanese pitcher that is available. Duh! Think outside of the box a little here guys.
   12. McCoy Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4641606)
If the Cubs sign Tanaka there is a path to 82 wins this year. Not a realistic or likely path mind you but a path nonetheless.

Basically Tanaka needs to be worth 4 or 5 wins, Castillo be legit and healthy, Castro and Rizzo bounce back, Wood be legit, Smardzija play well, and the rest of the team not be suckholes and be at least around .5 to 2 wins each depending on their roles.
   13. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4641609)
<blockquote>The idea is that you pass on Tanaka, save the money and spend it two years from now on that years 24-0, 1.27 ERA, 25 year old Japanese pitcher that is available.</blockquote/

This is the relevant bit. It's one thing to resist signing mid-range free agents when your team isn't likely to compete, but guys like Tanaka aren't available for money alone very often. Would you pass on Mike Trout if you had the money just because your team wasn't great right now? Of course not, and the idea is silly.
   14. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: January 18, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4641619)
I am so sick of the argument "what's the point of going from 64 to 73 wins" or some variant. First of all fans pay money money to go see games and deserve a decent product. Second, unlike the NFL Or NBA there is limited benefit to playing for a draft pick. Lastly, several teams in recent years have shown that they can far exceed projections.

Getting good players is better than not getting good players,


That's basically what I was going to say. If you're a bad team, you're not going to change that by just waiting around for problems to magically fix themselves.
   15. Cabbage Posted: January 18, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4641643)
Echoing some of the other thoughts here, baseball team construction is different from other major sports simply because of the fungibility between positions and the team-controlled years/minor league system. The primary object in building a winning club is to amass assets. Get a bunch of guys who don't suck.

A GM is really only looking for three types of players when rebuilding begins: (i) guys who can field the premium defensive positions and hit; (ii) guys who can hit; and (iii) armys of arms. Get enough of each type of player, and you can work something out. Move the less-defensively sound down the spectrum, flip some players, move some arms into the bullpen -- the roster will sort itself out, and there are always enough ABs to go around.

Tanaka seems like he'd be an asset. He'll probably be a good pitcher, so the only reason not to sign him is if you can do something better with that money. And I don't think they've got anything. As long as he's good, he'll help the rebuilding process.
   16. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 18, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4641645)
McCoy, I'd add in Baez coming up to replace whichever is the bigger suckhole between Valbuena and Barney at midseason and contributing a couple wins.
   17. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: January 18, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4641656)
>
<blockquote>Tanaka</blockquote/
   18. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 18, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4641660)
So the Cubs could sign Tanaka for $27 million a season and would basically meet the 2013 payroll.

Or the owner could keep the money, figuring most of it will be additional profit, since losing appears to have minimal impact on the Cubs revenues. Not much incentivizes MLB owners to invest in their team if they don't have to, unfortunately.
   19. McCoy Posted: January 18, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4641662)
It's possible that all they want to do is pocket bundles of cash while spending very little money but then I doubt they get Theo, spent all the money they have spent on prospects, and spend all the money they are spending to fix up Wrigley Field. If this was just a cash grab they would have pulled a McCourt by now and they haven't.
   20. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: January 18, 2014 at 08:33 PM (#4641708)
looks like Bryant will start in AA Baez in AAA and Almora and Solar in high A, I am very excited to see these guys make it to the majors of the next 2 years
   21. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 19, 2014 at 01:13 AM (#4641773)
It's possible that all they want to do is pocket bundles of cash while spending very little money but then I doubt they get Theo, spent all the money they have spent on prospects, and spend all the money they are spending to fix up Wrigley Field. If this was just a cash grab they would have pulled a McCourt by now and they haven't.


This, and if signing Tanaka means they are in wildcard hunt for another month, let alone the playoffs, in the next couple years the extra revenues will likely dwarf his contract.
   22. salviaman Posted: January 19, 2014 at 07:03 AM (#4641795)
----"Its possible that all they want to do is pocket bundles of cash...."

The Ricketts were already billionaires when they bought the Cubs. It doesn't make sense that they would do so, and then just try to suck all the money they can out of it, while subjecting themselves to public evaluation. They are simply doing it the right way, and unfortunately for the fans the right way does not include attempts at a quick fix.
   23. vivaelpujols Posted: January 19, 2014 at 07:52 AM (#4641796)
Well, I am none the wiser from that minute of reading.

His writing style makes me think of my most common bit of stylistic advice to my students: writing with fancy words and turns of phrases is like cooking with herbs and spices; less is more. They are there to bring out the essentials of what you're serving up, not to bury them.


I don't see any evidence of his in the excerpt besides maybe the first sentence ("ply his wares" is pretty stupid).
   24. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 19, 2014 at 08:26 AM (#4641800)
Ye gods, the cliched phrases. "Putting their best foot" ... "ply his wares" ... "take a backseat to no one" ... "under the guise" ... "tearing the cover off the ball". That's just from the short excerpt.
   25. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 19, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4641863)
"under the guise"


Maybe he was referring to Mike Piazza.
   26. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: January 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4641871)
It's possible that all they want to do is pocket bundles of cash while spending very little money but then I doubt they get Theo, spent all the money they have spent on prospects, and spend all the money they are spending to fix up Wrigley Field. If this was just a cash grab they would have pulled a McCourt by now and they haven't.


Just to be fair, McCourt also spent a bunch of 'cash' to upgrade the stadium and still had $100+ million payrolls during those years. I think that Ricketts sticking with a rebuilding plan is far more indicative of his intentions. McCourt was far more concerned with short term goals than anything long term.
   27. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 19, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4641940)
I'm really sick of the passive aggressiveness of the term "the right way" when it come to this rebuild as if people who aren't ok with purposely running out as bad a team as possible are idiots. It's A way, there's nothing inherently right about throwing away multiple seasons and tanking your revenue stream to build up a farm system.
   28. zonk Posted: January 19, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4641972)
He's 26.

That's young enough to be part of the next 'good Cubs team' whether it's 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or whatever.

This isn't a 30something free agent.
   29. salviaman Posted: January 19, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4642059)
-----"I'm really sick of the passive aggressiveness of the term "the right way"....

It looks like you are responding to my post 22. If I had inserted an "IMO" at the proper junction, would that make it OK with you? Am I, or am I not, entitled to an opinion on the Cubs plan? If you disagree with the Cubs approach, that's fine, explain why, try to convince me. But don't get on your high horse and call me passive-aggressive. This is why I very rarely post on this site....
   30. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 19, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4642071)
Sorry I probably came off more hostile than intended with that. It's just the prevailing narrative I've seen in so many places that the cubs are doing things the "right way" and every free agent failure is hand waved away as saying that's what sucked about hendry. What sucks about hendry was he oversaw an abominable farm system and was stuck in the 1890s when it came to baseball. Now the past 2 offseason saw we've seen the opposite where we don't spend on anyone and actually develop a functional farm system.

When Epstein came on board in one of his first interviews he talked about how every season is sacred and that they would be operating on dual fronts. There's no reason the farm system couldn't have been built up all while actually putting forth an effort on the major league level.
   31. vivaelpujols Posted: January 19, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4642085)
Ye gods, the cliched phrases. "Putting their best foot" ... "ply his wares" ... "take a backseat to no one" ... "under the guise" ... "tearing the cover off the ball". That's just from the short excerpt.


Ok those are clichés, which means he's probably not a great writer, but I don't think's over writing here in the way that #1 described.
   32. McCoy Posted: January 19, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4642210)
But don't get on your high horse and call me passive-aggressive. This is why I very rarely post on this site....

Wouldn't this be evidence of being passive-aggressive?
   33. salviaman Posted: January 19, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4642229)
----"Wouldn't this be evidence of being passive-aggressive?"

Yeah, you want to poke me, maybe pick a fight, apparently? I could respond in kind. But instead, I'll just paraphrase a Bill James quote from 25 years ago--"I leave this field to those who are playing on it." Sayonnarra!
   34. Transmission Posted: January 19, 2014 at 09:37 PM (#4642231)
In addition to what Zeth notes, "But he doesn’t want fans to see him as a greed-driven profiteer trying to milk the Chicago baseball fan’s discretionary dollar teet dry" and "even more nefariously" (there are lots of things that might describe a theory that the courting of Tanaka is all for show. But Nefarious? Really? This isn't a Bond-villain plot.)

Same complained about "outrageous ticket prices." Perhaps my criticism would be better couched as saying that there are too many worn cliches and too many hyperbolic adjectives. There's nothing nefarious or outrageous about an insincere bid on Tanaka, and the writer hasn't proven that point anyway. He doesn't have anything interesting to say and nothing he can prove, and is concealing that behind cliches and over-the-top descriptors. There's no story here without the euphemisms, alliterations, cliches, and claims of "nefarious!" and "outrageous!" It's a gin-it-up piece.
   35. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: January 20, 2014 at 08:30 PM (#4642873)
----"Wouldn't this be evidence of being passive-aggressive?"

Yeah, you want to poke me, maybe pick a fight, apparently? I could respond in kind. But instead, I'll just paraphrase a Bill James quote from 25 years ago--"I leave this field to those who are playing on it." Sayonnarra!


Lighten up, Francis.
   36. madvillain Posted: January 21, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4642961)
His writing style makes me think of my most common bit of stylistic advice to my students: writing with fancy words and turns of phrases is like cooking with herbs and spices; less is more. They are there to bring out the essentials of what you're serving up, not to bury them.


My professor offered similar advice, if you ever don't know what to cut, just cut out every 3rd word.

Heck, this guy would have to get an entire new schtick if the Cubs started winning.
   37. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: January 21, 2014 at 03:23 AM (#4642988)
Ok those are clichés, which means he's probably not a great writer, but I don't think's over writing here in the way that #1 described.


Yeah, it's more of a shepherd's pie than an over-seasoned piece of meat. Bunch of leftover crap thrown together and separated with commas, dashes and ellipses. No fun to read if you're a Cubs fan, but lots of fun for us, I suppose...
   38. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 21, 2014 at 05:01 AM (#4642995)
Even though I'm partial to the Cardinals, I'd like to see the Cubs get good again. That said, I'm torn about whether I want them to sign Tanaka, because part of me wants potential impact players who are being injected into the league to be injected into a pennant race and be potential difference makers, which sure won't happen if Tanaka signs with the Cubs. The best places he could land from the standpoint of baseball theatre would be on the Yankees, because it would help increase their chances of contending, or the Angels, because it would tighten up the AL West, and probably give them a reasonable chance of winning the division. But it looks like the Angels never made any effort to sign him.
   39. toratoratora Posted: January 21, 2014 at 07:37 AM (#4642999)
My professor offered similar advice, if you ever don't know what to cut, just cut out every 3rd word.


Oooof-I had a Prof do the same.Every paper,every sentence.If the rough had six words, he wanted four on the final.
I hated him then. Now,I think he was one of the best teachers I had.

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