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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ricketts’ answers don’t explain Cubs’ lower payroll spending - Chicago Sun-Times

With all the young talent on the way, doesn’t it make sense to not spend money for the sake of spending money until the group is ready?

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts adamantly denied Wednesday that Ricketts family ownership is taking profits at the expense of spending on the baseball operation.

‘‘Profit-taking? I’m not even sure what that means,’’ he said during his annual spring training media conference. ‘‘Of course not. Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous.’’

Jim Furtado Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:30 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. zonk Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4660772)
Maybe, maybe not...

But seriously? You don't know what "profit-taking" means?
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4660776)
Rickets and other MLB owners don't even have to take "profits" in order to clean up financially. What salary is he paid for his Chairman role? How many overpaid relatives on the payroll? Lots of profits are likely disguised as expenses, for any number of reasons.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4660777)
"I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on here."

"Chairman, here are your winnings."
   4. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4660780)
But seriously? You don't know what "profit-taking" means?

That term just confuses his fat-cat thinking. The profits are already his, so whom is he taking them from?
   5. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4660789)
Profit taking doesn't mean pocketing the difference between revenues and expenses, it means selling shares on the back of a price jump. Ricketts certainly knows what it means, which is precisely why he would take use of the term to be nonsensical in the context it was being used.
   6. SouthSideRyan Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4660790)
Opening Day Payrolls under Scrooge McRicketts:

2010: $144,359,000
2011: $134,004,000
2012: $109,316,000
2013: $106,837,810 (Believe they cut something like 5M in payroll in-season)
2014: $84,500,000 (BR estimate. If Bonifiacio makes the team it goes up ~2M, if McDonald doesn't, it goes down ~360K)

60M payroll drop since taking over. All for the 5th highest revenue generating team in the sport(This came from the organization at the Cubs Convention)
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4660793)
Profit taking doesn't mean pocketing the difference between revenues and expenses, it means selling shares on the back of a price jump. Ricketts certainly knows what it means, which is precisely why he would take use of the term to be nonsensical in the context it was being used.

Please. He knew exactly what the reporter was asking, even if it was phrased poorly. His pretense of not understanding is pathetic and laughable.
   8. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4660800)
Opening Day Payrolls under Scrooge McRicketts:

2010: $144,359,000
2011: $134,004,000
2012: $109,316,000
2013: $106,837,810 (Believe they cut something like 5M in payroll in-season)
2014: $84,500,000 (BR estimate. If Bonifiacio makes the team it goes up ~2M, if McDonald doesn't, it goes down ~360K)

60M payroll drop since taking over. All for the 5th highest revenue generating team in the sport(This came from the organization at the Cubs Convention)


The actual on field/dugout payroll was lower than that. 2011's payroll had about 7 million dollars of Silva's contract in it, 2012 had about 16 million of Zambrano's contract, and this season is going to have about 14 million on it because of Soriano.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:28 PM (#4660808)
With all the young talent on the way, doesn’t it make sense to not spend money for the sake of spending money until the group is ready?

It's not clear it ever made sense to stop spending. It made perfect sense to start spending now. The young talent is already in the organization, the 2014 draft position is already set. Some of the young talent is (by BA) expected to start arriving late this year. Sucking again in 2014 accomplishes nothing -- it gives us another high draft choice which we won't want to give away by signing a quality FA.

This offseason, at the very least, the Cubs should have targeted short-term, non-QO'd FA talent. They should have shored up the rotation, found a 2B, at least one OF. Personally I wouldn't have minded them giving up their 1st rounder for the "right" player -- whoever that might be.

As long as the A's are out there contending almost every year without any big names, a modest budget and lousy draft position then no team has a legit reason to suck. As long as the Cards can renew themselves year after year with lousy draft positions and modest budgets, the notion that you have to suck for 5 years to have a chance to build a winner is nonsense.

I invite everyone to take a look at the Cubs 40-man roster. Is there anybody you want on your team's ML roster in 2014? Samardzija and Wood probably, Castro probably, Rizzo maybe.
   10. sinicalypse Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4660823)
as a layman who happens to live in the chicagoland area (expos fan. what can i say, when i got into baseball via fantasy baseball in the 2001 season i was like "who is this vladimir guerrero guy on my team?" and i saw one at bat with that swing and i was like "game over man. this is my guy that's my team ((always loved the goofy/mystifying "me" / "elb" / etc logo as a kid)) and that's that)

AHEM. so yeah i'm in/around chicago so i have a better glimpse into the chicago teams' worlds than the rest of MLB.... i've been under the general assumption/mindset that basically ricketts, leveraged to the hilt with ~500mil of debt or something unless daddy feels really cool around christmastime one of these years, shrewdly decided to bring theo on board for ~4mil/year in order to buy him the time/excuse to slash a ~120mil/yr payroll in half for a good 4-5 year window and try to take/make as much $$$ as he can while he tries (somewhat pathetically) to get the ballpark renovated/upgraded/pissing-golden-revenue-streams-not-too-unlike-the-sides-of-buildings-all-over-the-neighborhood-after-a-night-game)

so basically since he's THEO FK'N EPSTEIN and HE HAS A PLAN, that $4-5mil/yr to get him and his guys in here is the raison d'etre that they're able to take a major market team with a hefty 9 figure payroll and slash it in half for a proper ~5 years. and whether or not this is ultimately successful (i.e. "the kids can play" to shia lebeouf a slogan from the south side of town 10+ years ago and, presumably, theo one morning trips in the bathroom and slams his head into the toilet and then has a vision of a world championship cubs team that features PITCHING, much like doc from back to the future with the flux capacitor.)

AHEM part deux. whether this works out or not remains to be seen, and of course unless they believe there was a significant advantage to drafting with the #2-4 picks as opposed to the #5-12 picks, it's possible they could have done a hybrid/ish rebuild and kept the product on the field somewhat closer to contending, figuring that whatever dropoff i drafted talent they get is offset by, you know, having a better team to bring them up to in the first place.

however, in the end, i think if the debt that the creepy ricketts clan has is roughly at the ~500mil level that i believe it to be at, then i think it's flagrantly obvious why theo and HIS PLAN was brought in here..... to give the ricketts 5yrs to not only make a blatant cash grab, but to perhaps even work on tempering expectations of the fanbase that this team should go out and spend $$$ like a top major market team. cuz let's say that ~2/3 of theo's kids pan out and the success starts coming.... ricketts will be vindicated and able to say "see! you can't spend your way to the top like hendry/trib thought before me so there's no reason to field a top-3-or-4 payroll "until it's time" or whatever.... and if the tail end of this ~5yr total rebuild odyssey is looking good, then maybe just maybe he'll be able to operate on the cheap going forward cuz cubdom will be brainwashed into thinking that big $$$ spending is for idiots (which it kind of is a good % of the time, but still...) and there will won't be expectations for the team to carry on with a top-3/4 payroll year in and year out until the dynasty decade of 2017-2027 begins.... but even then any success, especially at the end of such a terrible dry spell, will be attributed to "theo's plan" and maybe the people who expect the cubs to be prominent players with top top FAs (especially the sporadically young/ish ones like tanaka) will have to take a step back and say "well the plan worked, maybe i'm wrong and maybe we should never take on the folly of spending $150mil/yr on payroll because it's mostly bad/overpaid $$$ and we remember how those 07-08 teams went out like ####### in the playoffs)

so yeah forgive me for being cynical (although my name is literally pronounced "cynical lips") but i still think this whole epstein business wasn't a 100% baseball-motivated-move TO DO THE RIGHT THING(TM) as much as it was a golden opportunity for the creepshow ricketts clan to slash payroll in half, rake in as much $$$ as they could like a small market team, and then re-adjust/temper expectations of the cubs to be a major market/top-payroll team going forward.... and i'll still believe that theo has an unlimited budget "when it's time" only when i see it happen, cuz i truly believe that they thought the 4/52 to edwin jackson was going to end up being an underpay-maximus and he'd be spun for a prospecty haul.... and i believe all of the smoke around the tanaka bidding was just that.... there to convince the fanbase that "[they] tried" however you gotta stick to the plan because comeon you remember 04 and 07 in boston? yeah? well focus on all of those homegrown studs like pedroia and youkilis and forget that tehy plucked an oddly-underperforming/underpowered david ortiz out of obscurity with the twins and then signed a 28-29 manny ramirez to an 8yr/160mil contract or whatever.

cuz clearly, signing that ~28-29 year old manny ramirez is the hardest part of building the mid-late 00s red sox.... and welp, all we've got is "when it's time" from ricketts in terms of assurances that the cubs will be willing to shock the world and roll the dice and throw caution to the wind when it's time to make v2.0 of the soriano signing; hopefully they get that 28-29 year old manny as opposed to what they got from soriano (who wasn't quite vernon wells, but wasn't quite not-an-albatross-a-few-years-into-the-deal anyways.

</babbletronic3000XL>

p.s. did i mention that the ricketts are creepy? i can't wait for the inevitable opening day special where they show various non-tom ricketts clanmembers walking the concourses/stands LIKE THEY'RE REAL PEOPLE intercut with shots of them all sitting on barstools addressing (WOO) CUBBIE(S) NATION!!!!! during the cubs convention. but yeah, the continued propaganda that they're real people/fans just like us just rubs me the wrong way; c'est la vie. it ain't baseball season in chicago til we've had that inevitable ricketts pow-wow segment on the opening day special.
   11. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:24 PM (#4660824)
Personally I wouldn't have minded them giving up their 1st rounder for the "right" player -- whoever that might be.

The first rounder is protected, right? Or is that not still the case for top-half-of-the-round picks?

(If it is protected, that makes the team's free agent reticence even less explicable.)
   12. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4660832)
It's not clear it ever made sense to stop spending. It made perfect sense to start spending now. The young talent is already in the organization, the 2014 draft position is already set. Some of the young talent is (by BA) expected to start arriving late this year. Sucking again in 2014 accomplishes nothing -- it gives us another high draft choice which we won't want to give away by signing a quality FA.


I agree wth everything but first sentence. The last few years signing free agents to finish 3rd place makes a substantial difference in draft position and the quality of prospects you get. Drafting top 5 every round instead of 15th adds up. And trying to compete while rebuilding means keeping your own veterans which costs you extra comp picks and prospects from trading them of letting them walk.

But it's probably getting near time to start signing some free agents that fit. But who is it? Would Cano really provide $240m more value than Barney? The hard part is signing guys who won't block your best prospects, and are young enough they won't be in their decline phase when your system generates enough major league players. Ellsbury? Who else makes sense this offseason?
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 22, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4660833)
As long as the A's are out there contending almost every year without any big names, a modest budget and lousy draft position then no team has a legit reason to suck. As long as the Cards can renew themselves year after year with lousy draft positions and modest budgets, the notion that you have to suck for 5 years to have a chance to build a winner is nonsense.


This ignores the fact that the Cards and As have had a ton of comp picks because they (ta da) don't sign many free agents.
   14. SouthSideRyan Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:18 PM (#4660841)
Top 10 draft picks are protected Eric. There's no reason the Cubs shouldn't have been in on Jimenez at 4/50. It sent a bad sign to me that they may never go after a FA tied to compensation. Imagine that date in the future when it will actually cost a 1st round pick rather than ~45th overall.
   15. SouthSideRyan Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:20 PM (#4660842)
#10 is both great and makes me crawl into the fetal position and cry.
   16. ptodd Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:17 PM (#4660854)
Cubs look like their payroll/revenue adjusted for revenue sharing is under 35% this year, far below MLB average.
   17. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4660899)
This ignores the fact that the Cards and As have had a ton of comp picks because they (ta da) don't sign many free agents.

The A's make plenty of moves and have signed plenty of free agents, the Cards as well. The difference is that both the A's and Cards get the most out of their minor leagues and for the most part make very astute trades and smart free agent pickups. The Cubs under Theo have basically made no smart trades or pickups that have amounted to much. If you're not going to splurge on the ARods/Canos of the FA market then you need to make smart trades and pickups. The Cubs under Theo have done virtually nothing in terms of acquisitions which will lead to a not very good team spending huge amounts of money on not very good FA.
   18. Comic Strip Person Posted: February 22, 2014 at 10:53 PM (#4660901)
#10 - re: your part of the rant on draft position: only one of the last three years did the Cubs draft higher than 5th - and that got them the current #8 on the top prospects list. Before that, they drafted sixth and ninth, which got them the #5 and 36 players on the list. So, I'd say you can complain about plenty, but the results of their draft strategy isn't on the list.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: February 23, 2014 at 02:46 AM (#4660932)
I agree wth everything but first sentence. The last few years signing free agents to finish 3rd place makes a substantial difference in draft position and the quality of prospects you get.

Yes, no and maybe. The Cubs should be able to afford a $150 M payroll -- that's potentially a lot of talent, talent that sometimes results in, y'know, wild cards, division titles and the like. They were in a bad way when he took over so I understand the view that it still wouldn't have been optimal. But I'm not talking about signing one Edwin Jackson as your only big ticket FA nor am I suggesting that only if they'd signed Marlon Byrd we could have 74 wins instead of 72.

We can't even keep up with the O's anymore and they've got a $90 M payroll and their best homegrown players are Machado and Chris Tillman. Where's our trade for Adam Jones (Rizzo?), where's our McLouth (Schierholtz), where's our 2B/3B equivalent of Hardy, where's our Chris Davis, where's our Wei-yin Chen, Jim Johnson, Darren O'Day? Even in 2014 that whole collection of players costs only about $50 M. The O's drafted Machado (#3), Wieters (#5) and Markakis (#7) 11 years ago but otherwise this team is cobbled together.

This is what I'm reduced to -- looking up to Dan Duquette's Orioles!

and that was an excellent point that the Cubs 2014 pick is protected, makes me even more aggravated.

The A's supplemental picks. They had the #34 and #47 in 2012, the #41 and 59 in 2007, the #36 in 05, #36 and #40 in 04, #33 in 03. It's fair enough to say this was part of their strategy from 03 to 07 but not since. Those supplemental picks netted them Huston Street and nothing else (OK, Travis Buck made his way to 3 WAR). (Also signing FAs has nothing to do with you receiving supplemental picks, letting your FAs go rather than re-signing them gets you supplemental picks. I'm not sure who the last worthwhile Cub FA was. The A's did mostly protect their actual 1st rounders by not signing FAs.)

The Cards did pile up 7 supplemental picks from 05-10 but virtually none before that. Their supplemental picks have so far netted them Lance Lynn and Chris Perez (traded away, crazy man, etc.) The Cards are kinda famous for not drafting well but developing great. And, as luck would have it, they traded away most of their successful 1/1s picks since JD Drew -- Barton, Rasmus, Perez. Shelby Miller (2009, #19) could be huge and I assume they'll hold onto him.

Don't get me wrong, I wish Lance Lynn was on the Cubs right now. Again, this is what I'm reduced to.

Meanwhile the Cards have generally been happy to extend/re-sign their potential FAs -- Holliday, Wainwright, Molina, the original Pujols buy-out (and the 10/$200 offer they supposedly made him two years ago). And this year they dipped into the FA pool for Peralta and Ellis.

only one of the last three years did the Cubs draft higher than 5th

See what it's like to be a Cub fan -- even when the goal is to suck worse than the team has sucked in its 135+ years, a goal we achieve, we can't even win the race to the bottom.

EDIT: hopefully not true as the 47-62 Cubs were truly pathetic. But I'm not gonna say it's definitely not true cuz then God will just make sure all the prospects flop or we trade them for Ernie Broglio and Mitch Williams. Well, God's probably gonna do that anyway, cuz that's how he rolls when it comes to my life but I know hubris is just asking for it. Ahh, I see how this one is gonna go ... 69, 84, 03 ... sometime between 2018-2022, God's gonna make the Cubs look good for about 168 games just to break my heart again.



   20. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 23, 2014 at 04:52 AM (#4660939)
Duquette is good at cobbling teams together--much of the 2004 Red Sox, for example.
   21. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: February 23, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4660953)
The problem with the idea that the Cubs will start signing guys when the time comes is that most of the guys that fewer true stars get to free agency these days than 10 years ago because even small or mid market teams have enough money to sign their own players if they really want to keep them. Look at the Braves and how they have spent most of the offseason extending everyone they want to keep.

Even when a "unique talent" comes to free agency, it's not like the Cubs can be expected to consistently outbid teams like the Dodgers and the Yankees.

The reason I mention this is that the Cubs and Mets are in the same boat for the most part but the Mets might be a few years ahead. They both will do only as well as their developmental system will take them.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4660979)
This offseason, at the very least, the Cubs should have targeted short-term, non-QO'd FA talent.


Part of the difficulty there is that the talent in this year's class doesn't line up well with their needs. They couldn't sign Abreu because they need to give Rizzo another long look, they couldn't sign Peralta because Castro's at short and they have 900 3B prospects close to the majors, and they already had Garza and Byrd and decided to get rid of them. Outside of Tanaka, there just isn't much there.
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4660982)
Duquette is good at cobbling teams together--much of the 2004 Red Sox, for example.


Duke does have a good history at it, but I don't think the '04 Sox are an example at all. He was responsible for some of the big-ticket items (Manny, Pedro, Damon), his greatest deal in Boston (Lowe and Varitek) and the one holdover from cobbling gem, the 95 team (Wakefield). The cobbling for that group was done by Theo/Port.

   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4660992)
Duke does have a good history at it, but I don't think the '04 Sox are an example at all. He was responsible for some of the big-ticket items (Manny, Pedro, Damon), his greatest deal in Boston (Lowe and Varitek) and the one holdover from cobbling gem, the 95 team (Wakefield). The cobbling for that group was done by Theo/Port.

Well, he acquired the most important components through FA and two Freaking-A trades. I don't know if it's "cobbling", but he still deserves most of the credit for putting that team together.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 23, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4660999)
Well, he acquired the most important components through FA and two Freaking-A trades. I don't know if it's "cobbling", but he still deserves most of the credit for putting that team together.


It's decidedly not cobbling. He absolutely deserves some credit for the 2004 team (most is not accurate), as do Port and Gorman to a lesser extent. But the minor pieces that filled out the roster, the cobbling part, that was not his handiwork. The inability to find those pieces later in his Boston tenure was a big reason they missed the playoffs for three straight seasons despite some truly elite frontline talent (Manny, Pedro, Nomar, Lowe in 02).


   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4661013)
It's decidedly not cobbling. He absolutely deserves some credit for the 2004 team (most is not accurate), as do Port and Gorman to a lesser extent. But the minor pieces that filled out the roster, the cobbling part, that was not his handiwork. The inability to find those pieces later in his Boston tenure was a big reason they missed the playoffs for three straight seasons despite some truly elite frontline talent (Manny, Pedro, Nomar, Lowe in 02).

I'll stand by most. It's a hell of a lot harder to get the elite talent than to cobble around it. If he had kept the job, Duquette very likely would have gotten it right sooner rather than later.
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 23, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4661020)
I'll stand by most. It's a hell of a lot harder to get the elite talent than to cobble around it. If he had kept the job, Duquette very likely would have gotten it right sooner rather than later.


Except the elite talent wasn't terribly elite in 2004, so, no, it's not most.

Schilling was far and away the team's best player in 04, not Pedro. The bullpen was entirely put together by his predecessors, as was the infield.* They didn't have any position player who had a lights-out year, with Manny, Damon, Varitek, Ortiz, Bellhorn, Millar etc. all contributing but not dominating. Nomar was gone by midseason, and hadn't been very good for the Sox before departing.

I think Duke is a solid GM, and deserved another chance long before the O's came calling. But his later years in Boston were not good, and I don't think there's any particular reason to think he was going to regain his touch in that position.

* None of this should be terribly surprising, mind you. It had been three years since he left.
   28. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4661023)
26,

Two big pieces (Ortiz and Schilling) also did not come from Duquette.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4661032)

Two big pieces (Ortiz and Schilling) also did not come from Duquette.


Sure, but 4 of the 6 top players by WAR were Duquette's gets (Manny, Pedro, Damon and Varitek).

And quite frankly, I don't give anyone much credit for Ortiz. It was a total fluke, chemically created or not.
   30. McCoy Posted: February 23, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4661033)
And quite frankly, I don't give anyone much credit for Ortiz. It was a total fluke, chemically created or not.

And Theo and Co fluke into him twice if Moneyball was to be believed. They might not have known Ortiz was going to turn into DAVID FREAKIN' ORTIZ but they thought he could be a useful piece and they give him the opportunity to contribute. That isn't a fluke.


Anyway, Cubs. They aren't going to be good this year, won't be good in 2015, and are going to have a hell of a time being good in 2016.
   31. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 23, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4661038)
Sure, but 4 of the 6 top players by WAR were Duquette's gets (Manny, Pedro, Damon and Varitek).


That was pretty much the sum of his contributions. For which he should be proud. But the quartet of Manny, Pedro, Damon and Varitek didn't provide as much value as the foursome of Schilling, Ortiz, Bellhorn and Foulke, so you're already wrong before we go any further.

And quite frankly, I don't give anyone much credit for Ortiz. It was a total fluke, chemically created or not.


At this point, you're just being ridiculous. Whether Ortiz's performance was a fluke, he was a major contributor to the 2004 team's success and someone Duke had no hand in delivering to Boston.

By no accounting method can you reasonably argue that Duke was responsible for most of the 2004 team. None at all. By absolute value, Theo dwarfs him. There was only one elite performance turned in by a member of the 2004 club, and that was a Theo acquisition. Duke had a hand in that club's construction, which no sane Red Sox fan would argue. But why you're digging in on your initial ill-informed observation is bizarre.

   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4661072)
By no accounting method can you reasonably argue that Duke was responsible for most of the 2004 team. None at all. By absolute value, Theo dwarfs him. There was only one elite performance turned in by a member of the 2004 club, and that was a Theo acquisition. Duke had a hand in that club's construction, which no sane Red Sox fan would argue. But why you're digging in on your initial ill-informed observation is bizarre.

I am engaging in hyperbole because I'm trying to point out the stupidity of the "Great Man" theory of baseball executives. Theo Epstein is viewed as a baseball genius, and Duquette as a mediocrity due basically to blind luck.

Joe Torre is going to the Hall of Fame instead of Buck Showalter, or anyone of 10 other guys the Yankees could have hired, due to blind luck.

I'll drop it if it bothers you that much.
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 23, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4661081)
I am engaging in hyperbole because I'm trying to point out the stupidity of the "Great Man" theory of baseball executives. Theo Epstein is viewed as a baseball genius, and Duquette as a mediocrity due basically to blind luck.


Well, you certainly won that argument with the invisible man making it. (-:

Duke was a very good GM for a long time, including most of his time in Boston. Any Red Sox fan who doesn't give him appropriate credit for the 2004 team is mistaken. Then again, I don't think I've ever seen a Red Sox fan at this site engage in that kind of foolishness. We're not all karlmagnus with the lovingly etched KM + DD valentines all over the paperbag book covers protecting our copy of the 1994 Mike Gimbel Baseball Player Rating Book, but we still appreciate Danny's contributions.

   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4661099)
Well, you certainly won that argument with the invisible man making it. (-:

Duke was a very good GM for a long time, including most of his time in Boston. Any Red Sox fan who doesn't give him appropriate credit for the 2004 team is mistaken. Then again, I don't think I've ever seen a Red Sox fan at this site engage in that kind of foolishness. We're not all karlmagnus with the lovingly etched KM + DD valentines all over the paperbag book covers protecting our copy of the 1994 Mike Gimbel Baseball Player Rating Book, but we still appreciate Danny's contributions.


OK. But there is a substantial amount of "OMG, Theo Epstein!!!!!" in the media analysis of the Cubs. Most of the Cub fans here don't fall into it, but it's out there.

   35. SteveM. Posted: February 23, 2014 at 11:36 PM (#4661243)
I have been banging the drum on my belief that the Ricketts are having money problems. We keep being told to wait for the kids but the target date when the Cubs will be competitive again seemingly keeps being pushed back. I don't like this NBA style of tanking and I would think the Cubs should have taken notice on the decline of attendance over the last several years. But instead of strengthening the MLB roster, they are paving the way for a Shark trade.
   36. zonk Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:16 AM (#4661263)
Anyway, Cubs. They aren't going to be good this year, won't be good in 2015, and are going to have a hell of a time being good in 2016.


I wouldn't lay money on it and I'm not saying they'd be 95 win good, but I can see a scenario that doesn't rely on wishcasting for them to be good in 2015. It requires everything to break right - and everything never breaks right - but none of these are outside the realm:

1) Castro and Rizzo show 2013 to be a fluke and they build on their 2012s instread... 2015, they're all-stars

2) BOTH Edwards and Johnson tear through the minors - posting the same sort of numbers at Tennessee that they posted in A ball. 2015 they win rotation spots out of spring training and both look like top rotation starters

3) Travis Wood shows 2013 is his true talent level

4) Baez and Bryant both have great 1/3 to 1/2 seasons with the big club in 2014 and join Castro/Rizzo as all-star contenders in 2015

5) A few more pieces here or there - Castillo does a Soto impersonation for a couple year, one of the last chancers - Arietta, Grimm, etc - pitch like mid-rotation starters.

There's talent in the org and a decent chunk of it should be ready to arrive sometime in 2014 and in 2015. Obviously, it won't all pan out - but it's not wholly out of the realm that it might.... I mean, a century of bad luck - who's to say a single, small window of extraordinarily good luck isn't in the offing? 5 players in the top 41 prospects, all of whom should play at AA or above in 2014.

The odds are long to be sure - but I could see the Cubs being an 80 win team without needing a ton of luck in 2015 and an 85-90 win team if more things go right than wrong.
   37. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:37 AM (#4661299)
Hell, the Cubs could pull a 1984 in 2014 and get to the playoffs. Anything is possible but I'll stick with their shvtty, they'll be shvtty tomorrow, and they are going to be shvtty next week.

The Cubs are going to be needing more than a little luck to get to 80 wins in 2015.

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