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Friday, October 19, 2012

Stephens: 5 keys for the Chicago Cubs to be a Contender Next Season

The Chicago Cubs can actually be a contender for the pennant in the 2013 season.

The Cubs can do just as the Washington Nationals did this year, coming out of nowhere to surprise people with a division title. The Nationals did it with a few key acquisitions before and during the season; and they got great pitching.

Chicago can have all of that as well.

 

Tee-hee.

McCoy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM | 58 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, pipe dream

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   1. Gamingboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4276754)
Tags: cubs, pipe dream


Well played.
   2. BDC Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4276758)
5 keys for the Chicago Cubs to be a Contender Next Season

Poison Reds' clubhouse meals
Lock Cardinals in attic
Mess with Pirates' team bus GPS, strand Bucs somewhere in Alleghenies
Confuse Brewers with logical-paradox conundrums till smoke comes out of their ears
Relegate selves to AA
   3. geonose Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4276762)
I was curious to see what cockamamie notions had been dreamed up here; then I clicked the link and realized this came from Bleacher Report. 'Nuff said.
   4. VoodooR Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4276763)
Bleacher Report, McCoy?

Really?
   5. Topher Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4276766)
Tee-hee.


I really don't appreciate taking this tone toward an author who has 4 sapphire medals, 22 platinum medals, 38 gold medals, 118 silver medals, and 126 bronze medals to his name.
   6. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4276770)
I really don't appreciate taking this tone toward an author who has 4 sapphire medals, 22 platinum medals, 38 gold medals, 118 silver medals, and 126 bronze medals to his name.
Not to mention he aced that pop quiz in algebra 2 yesterday.
   7. GuyMcGuffin Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4276773)
Because the 2012 Cubs really feel a lot like the 2011 Nationals...

2008 Nationals: 59-102
2009 Nationals: 59-103
2010 Nationals: 69-93
2011 Nationals: 80-81
2012 Nationals: 98-64

2008 Cubs: 97-64
2009 Cubs: 83-78
2010 Cubs: 75-87
2011 Cubs: 71-91
2012 Cubs: 61-101

Based on this mirror-image here, I'm going to say the 2013 Cubs are a lot more likely to resemble the 2008 Nationals as opposed to the 2012 Nationals.
   8. zonk Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4276778)
Heh... ummmm... No.

Still, you want to wishcast, here's the wishcast for 2013 Cubs contention:

1) Starlin Castro takes a mammoth step forward, becoming Elvis Andrus defensively and refines his offensive game into Derek Jeter, while Anthony Rizzo outhits Prince Fielder - without Fielder taking any steps backwards, while Brett Jackson becomes the 'good' Curtis Granderson (or Austin Jackson)

2) Curiosity finds human life on Mars - and it turns out that they pitch really, really well. Cubs attorneys find that Mars foreign FA's are not covered by the new CBA, and the Cubs sign two of them who pitch like Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson

3) A massive scheduling mistake that is discovered too late to be corrected has the Cubs playing the Astros 60 times in 2013

4) The Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds decide to leave the NL Central and accept the ACC's offer to join that conference instead

5) Chris Volstad, Chris Rusin, Travis Wood, and Casey Coleman are all harvested in a diabolical Frankensteinian experiment to create one, single super pitcher -- who actually ends up being able to throw 200 league average innings.
   9. zonk Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4276779)
I was curious to see what cockamamie notions had been dreamed up here; then I clicked the link and realized this came from Bleacher Report. 'Nuff said.


Ugh.

I presume that means stupid slideshow. God, I friggin hate those... DIE FLASH DIE! DIE DIE DIE
   10. zonk Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4276782)
Snark aside, can we make this a thread on 5 hot stove actions you'd realistically hope the Cubs undertake?

Here are mine...

1) Find a new 3B lottery ticket - Ian Stewart was a decent gamble, but he obviously ain't the answer. Neither is Luis Valbuena... cast about for another 20something 3B whose shine is all but gone and roll the dice again.

2) Get in the Greinke bidding - he's young enough to still be effective if the 'plan' actually comes together and we're desperate for SPs.

3) Find at least one more Paul Maholm-type rental at a good one year-price tag

4) Make a decision on Garza - either sign him (would 5 years/75 do it?) or deal him... that might be difficult since he didn't pitch in the 2nd half, though

5) Start hoarding live but erratic arms for the bullpen... Use the Rule 5, 6 year minor league FA's, and boring junk-for-junk trades to stockpile arms that haven't been able to do much professionally but throw in the mid-90s. Hope one of them+ can actually turn into a legitimate bullpen option
   11. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 19, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4276785)
I really don't appreciate taking this tone toward an author who has 4 sapphire medals, 22 platinum medals, 38 gold medals, 118 silver medals, and 126 bronze medals to his name

I thought you were making this up at first. Oh boy.
   12. Topher Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4276789)
I don't believe Theo is in any rush to win the division in 2013 but if was looking to accelerate the process, there are some interesting ideas in the slideshow.

1. Sign James Shields as a free agent. The Cubs could use a good starter like him and he'll likely be cheap since the other 29 teams aren't likely to try to sign him as a free agent.
2. Sign Youkilis and Napoli. 33 year old free agents and 30 year old catchers have a good history of panning out.
3. Get Rizzo to do more. As long as you tell him he needs to do more, he probably will. Right?
4. Have a near winning record in April. MLB history is filled with teams that went 11-13 in April and were able to ride that momentum the rest of the season to a pennant. The last five months go on autopilot when you are off to such a hot start.
5. Get Soriano to repeat his season. I don't really understand this point. The Cubs weren't too hot this season so why wouldn't you ask Soriano to do more like you are of Rizzo. If you only ask Soriano to repeat, he won't be any better next season.
   13. OsunaSakata Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4276801)
Get Rizzo to do more. As long as you tell him he needs to do more, he probably will. Right?


What do you have in mind? Ordering a shutdown of a pitcher?
   14. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4276803)
i know it's more fun to snark, but the oakland a's and the baltimore orioles just made the playoffs, and they did it in divisions with a hell of a lot more talent than the NL central.


   15. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4276806)
Snark aside, can we make this a thread on 5 hot stove actions you'd realistically hope the Cubs undertake?


Obviously, the Cubs aren't looking to contend in 2013; they made that bed, and now they're laying in it. But here's broadly what the Cubs need - how they go about getting these things and how soon, eh, I don't know:

1) 3B
2) corner outfielder
3) at least two above-average starting pitchers
4) probably at least 3-4 quality bullpen arms

There's plenty of further things they could/should do at #5, but we're already talking more than one offseason worth of work, so I'm not sure what the point is of trying to nail down one final item for the list.

I don't know where 1) comes from; no thanks on Youkilis. Pray that Vitters turns some kind of corner is probably as good an option for this offseason as anything here.

In theory, 2) is the sort of thing that a big-money team like the Cubs should be able to buy on the free-agent market when the time comes, but the free-agent market seems to be getting thinner lately, and I'm not sure the time has come for this. I'm not saying ignore free agency entirely, but if you're looking at 2015, not 2013, that changes who you should go after this offseason. If the Cubs were a realistic playoff contender in '13-'14, maybe Josh Hamilton makes sense, although day games in the middle of a huge bar scene sounds like a bit too much temptation for a recovering addict.

I actually do like the idea of pursuing Greinke and/or Shields. Maybe bringing back Dempster, although he's getting old, but the more innings they can take away from Chris Volstad and Casey Coleman, the better for everybody.

Bullpen arms are pretty much a crapshoot. This is where, in theory, Epstein building a deeper farm system should pay off, but probably not in 2013.

The Washington Nationals aren't a bad blueprint to try to follow. But the 2012 Cubs weren't the 2011 Nationals; they were the 2008 or 2009 Nationals.
   16. TerpNats Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:28 PM (#4276812)
i know it's more fun to snark, but the oakland a's and the baltimore orioles just made the playoffs, and they did it in divisions with a hell of a lot more talent than the NL central.
They weren't coming off a 100-loss season.
They won't have their schedule change from 14-16 division games each against five teams (including Houston) to 19 games vs. four teams (not including Houston).
The Cubs have no Strasburg or Zimmermann in their rotation (Jordan Z., as you likely know, was drafted with a pick the Cubs surrendered in the Alfonso Soriano deal).
Even if the Cubs improved by 18 games next season, they'll finish on the wrong side of .500.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4276813)
We should have a warning before accidently linking to bleachereport. Uggh, slideshows, how I hate thee.
   18. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4276829)
The suggestions in the slideshow demonstrate how bad the Cubs were this year. Let's start by saying that they were really a 65-97 team, as per Pythagoras. Then the significant suggestions in the slideshow, with overly sanguine projections attached, are:

1A. Sign Greinke: +4.5 wins (0 to 4.5)
1B. Sign Jackson or Lohse or Shields: + 3.5 wins (0 to 3.5)
2A. Sign Youkilis: +5 wins (-1 to +4)
2B. Sign Napoli or Martin: +4.2 wins (-1.2 to 3)
3. Rizzo improves: +1.8 wins (2.2 to 4)

That adds 19 wins, getting you to 84-80. At that point you can hope for random variance, unexpected positive performances, good luck, and bad play by other teams. The point is that with this plan the Cubs pretty much need to sign everyone and have them all perform better than they probably will, and then get lucky on top of it. I mean, if I'm the Cubs I go for it, because it's only money and it's not like there are lots of youngsters to block. But it ain't happening.
   19. ASmitty Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4276831)
We should have a warning before accidently linking to bleachereport. Uggh, slideshows, how I hate thee.


Can't you just tell from the headline? "X things your team needs to do to next season" or "Why X will win Y next year" is pretty much guaranteed to be a BR article.
   20. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4276840)
1) Find a new 3B lottery ticket - Ian Stewart was a decent gamble, but he obviously ain't the answer. Neither is Luis Valbuena... cast about for another 20something 3B whose shine is all but gone and roll the dice again.


Dan Uggla - 13m/13m/13m (through 2015)
Alfonso Soriano - 18m/18m (through 2014)

Uggla could play 3B I'm sure.
   21. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4276841)
I would make a terrible GM, because I think if Greinke is the answer I think you're asking the wrong question.
   22. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4276846)
I would make a terrible GM, because I think if Greinke is the answer I think you're asking the wrong question.


Greinke's no longer an ace but he's still a pretty good option as a #3 starter if you can get him at the right price. The problem is that someone else will probably offer him ace money.
   23. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4276851)
i know it's more fun to snark, but the oakland a's and the baltimore orioles just made the playoffs, and they did it in divisions with a hell of a lot more talent than the NL central.


a: it's more fun to snark

b: the article didn't compare the Cubs' chances to the Orioles or the Athletics; it claimed that the Cubs could be the new Nationals which shows a complete ignorance of the Nationals' reliance on mostly homegrown stars and their slow climb to success- and apparently a mindblock regarding the existence of any teams in the other league.

c: basically, they suggest following the Nationals offseason plans in 2010-11 (sign Jayson Werth to prove we're serious!) and the Marlins offseason plans of 2011-12 (sign Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell and become instant contenders!)

   24. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4276852)
Greinke's no longer an ace but he's still a pretty good option as a #3 starter if you can get him at the right price.
First, that doesn't seem to be the popular sentiment. FTA:
Having a top-of-the-rotation guy like Greinke is the first step in becoming a contender. (emphasis added)
Second, even if he's properly viewed and paid, a 100-loss team shouldn't be looking at a #3 starter as the most important part of their off-season plans.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4276856)
The suggestions in the slideshow demonstrate how bad the Cubs were this year. Let's start by saying that they were really a 65-97 team, as per Pythagoras. Then the significant suggestions in the slideshow, with overly sanguine projections attached, are:

1A. Sign Greinke: +4.5 wins (0 to 4.5)
1B. Sign Jackson or Lohse or Shields: + 3.5 wins (0 to 3.5)
2A. Sign Youkilis: +5 wins (-1 to +4)
2B. Sign Napoli or Martin: +4.2 wins (-1.2 to 3)
3. Rizzo improves: +1.8 wins (2.2 to 4)

That adds 19 wins, getting you to 84-80. At that point you can hope for random variance, unexpected positive performances, good luck, and bad play by other teams. The point is that with this plan the Cubs pretty much need to sign everyone and have them all perform better than they probably will, and then get lucky on top of it. I mean, if I'm the Cubs I go for it, because it's only money and it's not like there are lots of youngsters to block. But it ain't happening.



I don't know how the Cubs pitchers did this year as far as going deep into the games, but on point 1a and 1b, does those projected wins also account for improved bullpen performance? A better pitching staff should project to better bullpen performance, even if you don't change one player in the pen.
   26. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4276857)
RE #24:

I won't argue either of those points.

The article overvalues Greinke and overestimates the Cubs.

   27. Topher Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4276863)
Greinke's no longer an ace but he's still a pretty good option as a #3 starter if you can get him at the right price. The problem is that someone else will probably offer him ace money.


Something like 3 years, 20 million?

What would be a good option to have as a #3 starter? Matt Cain?

Snark aside ... I realize the term "ace" means different things to different people, but Zack Greinke would be the #1 pitcher for a number of teams. If not the #1 pitcher, he'd be #2 for most of the rest. Does that make him an ace? Maybe not. But to suggest he would be a "pretty good" #3 as long as it was for the "right price" is rather silly.
   28. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4276865)
1) Find a new 3B lottery ticket - Ian Stewart was a decent gamble, but he obviously ain't the answer. Neither is Luis Valbuena... cast about for another 20something 3B whose shine is all but gone and roll the dice again.

Brandon Wood is available.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4276868)
Castillo (who spells his first name with just one "l" which I discovered only because while b-r is smart enough to know that if I search for Kerry Wood I might mean Kerry Woodson and when I search for Frank Thomas I might mean every player with the first name frank and the middle name thomas can't figure out that Wellington Castillo might actually mean Welington Castillo but I digress) was one of the few bright spots last year so let's not block him with Napoli especially since Napoli's other position is 1B where we have Rizzo.

I would find it entertaining if the folks who last year freaked out about signing Pujols or Fielder to a long-term contract (ack! it's their 30s! ack! they're expensive! ack! we're not ready to contend) supported the notion of signing Greinke to a long-term contract.

Pop quiz! Rank these starters in order of ERA+ 2010-2012:

Greinke
Dempster
Garza
E Jackson
Shields
Lincecum
Saunders
Guthrie

Anyway, I am fine if the Cubs want to start building back to decency by signing a few FAs. It seems kind of silly to have suffered through 2012 to only now do what would have been better done last offseason but that's OK. And when I look around ... there's almost nobody out there I want on anything longer than a 2-3 year contract except maybe BJ Upton. OK, I'd be OK with Hamilton but probably not at the price he's gonna get. Of course b-4 is not that fond of Upton's defense so I'd have to do some thinking about that ... and of course this essentially assumes that Jackson is never going to learn how to make contact.

The moves I'd try to make:

1. Sign Youkilis (2 years plus option) ... he's not blocking anybody and, if he hits, he's tradeable and if he doesn't hit he's cuttable. But a top of the lineup of DeJesus and Youk might actually put people on base in front of Rizzo. Also I assume the past Theo-Youk history is positive so this is a signing we have a decent chance at. (I'll consider a 3rd guaranteed year for him if I have to. Note, I'm not thrilled about Youk at 3B, not sure he'll age well there, but it's only money and the Cubs have tons of it.)

2. Sign some starters. I'm not even sure I care that they are all that good as long as they are durable and don't suck. I'd like Travis Wood to be no better than our intended 4th starter next year but as long as we have 5 guys who are a good bet to give us 180 innings and an ERA+ above 85, I won't have to relive the horror of Volstad very often. I know, 1-2 of those 5 guys will break down and not give us what I want but at least we can start there. Where's Jon Garland these days? :-) I'd probably start with Dempster and try for Shields and figure out who the groundballers are.

3. Sheesh that bullpen was a mess. What that guy said above -- y'know, preferably guys who can strike out the opposition more often than Dolis and strike out the opposition more often than they walk them (see Dolis) ... although Dolis went K-happy at the end of the year.

4. What's Mike Fontenot up to? Seems a good bench guy and backup to Barney & Youk. There's probably somebody better than Fontenot out there so insert lefty backup IF of your choice here. Re-sign Reed Johnson or similar (Cody Ross?). Explore Mars.

5. Definitely kick the tires on BJ Upton. Of course call the DBacks about Justin Upton but I can't see the Cubs having anything the DBacks would want. Sure, I'll talk with Hamilton's and Greinke's agents but I don't expect to be players there. Anyway, Jackson's not ready so the Cubs need another starting OF of some variety (DeJ can be in CF at the start of the year at least if need be). That's where Cody Ross could fit in.

Some of you out there will have names to nominate ... we want to find the next Garrett Jones (or LaHair or Nelson Cruz) for a bench/corner OF spot.

Anyway, the #1 goal of the offseason has to be getting some starting pitching -- the rotation right now is a complete embarrassment. #2 goal is 3B, even if it ends up being something as awful as a Hannahan/somebody platoon.* #3 goal is bullpen. Bullpen would be higher on my list if I could be convinced that good/bad bullpens weren't largely the result of randomness -- but we should certainly be able to put a few more impressive pitchers out in the pen.

*Fair enough, I'm not sure Hannahan is better than Valbuena either. Wow, Hannahan will be 33 and is still 2 seasons away from FA.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4276870)
(who spells his first name with just one "l" which I discovered only because while b-r is smart enough to know that if I search for Kerry Wood I might mean Kerry Woodson and when I search for Frank Thomas I might mean every player with the first name frank and the middle name thomas can't figure out that Wellington Castillo might actually mean Welington Castillo but I digress)


Have the same problem with Derrek Lee. If you forget the second r you don't get the "real" Derrek Lee.
   31. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4276871)

What would be a good option to have as a #3 starter? Matt Cain?

Snark aside ... I realize the term "ace" means different things to different people, but Zack Greinke would be the #1 pitcher for a number of teams. If not the #1 pitcher, he'd be #2 for most of the rest. Does that make him an ace? Maybe not. But to suggest he would be a "pretty good" #3 as long as it was for the "right price" is rather silly.


Have you looked at his numbers? He has a 105 ERA+ over the past 3 seasons. Maybe you get the upside of this year's 114. But more likely, you're looking at the 100 and 103 of '10 and '11.
   32. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4276877)
while b-r is smart enough to know that if I search for Kerry Wood I might mean Kerry Woodson and when I search for Frank Thomas I might mean every player with the first name frank and the middle name thomas

If you add a "the" in front of your search, it directs you to the most popular choice. Not as helpful if you want the Frank Thomas from the '50s, but useful in the vast majority of cases.

In case anyone is curious, "The George Burns" is the first baseman who had 64 doubles in a season, not the outfielder who led the league in runs five times.
   33. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4276878)
Pop quiz! Rank these starters in order of ERA+ 2010-2012:

Greinke
Dempster
Garza
E Jackson
Shields
Lincecum
Saunders
Guthrie
i'm not gonna do that, but i will say that, by a very wide margin, james shields would be the pitcher i value most from that list.
   34. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4276879)
Zack Greinke would be the #1 pitcher for a number of teams. If not the #1 pitcher, he'd be #2 for most of the rest.
But he wouldn't be #1 for 7 of the 8 playoff teams this year; heck, for 4 of them, he'd be no better than a #3 starter (Cinci had 3 starters and a reliever with more than his 3.3 bWAR).
   35. Topher Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4276880)
Have you looked at his numbers?


The last three seasons (starting with 2010) have a xFIP of 3.60, 2.56, and 3.22.

There is a case to be made that Greinke is somebody that just can't produce results that match his peripherals. I'd be hesitant to pay Greinke just off the xFIP numbers. Although that wasn't really the case prior to 2010.

But even if he is just a 105 ERA+ pitcher, that's a very good #3 pitcher for most teams.



Maybe you get the upside of this year's 114.


Seriously? That's his upside? Not the 205 of 2009? Talk about using selective endpoints.

I might be overrating Greinke. But I think you are tremendously discounting how he would help a rotation.
   36. Spahn Insane Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4276881)
Of course call the DBacks about Justin Upton but I can't see the Cubs having anything the DBacks would want.

Bob Brenly. Alas, that ship's sailed...
   37. Topher Posted: October 19, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4276883)
@34

So we are in agreement, no? I'm not sure what you are saying that I am not.
   38. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 19, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4276889)
I don't know how the Cubs pitchers did this year as far as going deep into the games, but on point 1a and 1b, does those projected wins also account for improved bullpen performance? A better pitching staff should project to better bullpen performance, even if you don't change one player in the pen.


Cubs starters threw something like 20 fewer innings than average, so the new signees would help. But the Cubs 2012 IP totals include Garza, Dempster, and Maholm, who were average or better in IP/start and won't be on the 2013 team. But yeah, we could add a win or so for decreased stress on the pen. That said, my win totals were wishcasting, so the bullpen help is pretty much already included.
   39. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4276898)
So we are in agreement, no? I'm not sure what you are saying that I am not.
It sounded like you were defending the point that Greinke would be a decent #1 on many teams. My point is that he wouldn't be a #1 on a decent team, and that the Cubs would be wasting money to pay him like the #1 pitcher on a playoff-caliber staff.
   40. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 19, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4276905)
But the Cubs 2012 IP totals include Garza, Dempster, and Maholm, who were average or better in IP/start and won't be on the 2013 team.


As of right now, Matt Garza is under contract to the Cubs for 2013. I wouldn't be surprised if he's gone by Opening Day and would actually be surprised if he's still a Cub on Sept 1st, but if the point of the exercise is to build a playoff-contending Cubs team for 2013, certainly Garza would be a member of such a fantasy team.
   41. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 19, 2012 at 08:10 PM (#4276946)
while b-r is smart enough to know that if I search for Kerry Wood I might mean Kerry Woodson and when I search for Frank Thomas I might mean every player with the first name frank and the middle name thomas

If you add a "the" in front of your search, it directs you to the most popular choice. Not as helpful if you want the Frank Thomas from the '50s, but useful in the vast majority of cases.

Heck of a lot easier than what I've been doing for ages... which is slowly memorizing the full given names of various players.
Mickey Charles Mantle, indeed.
   42. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: October 19, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4276958)
Heck of a lot easier than what I've been doing for ages... which is slowly memorizing the full given names of various players.
Mickey Charles Mantle, indeed.


I'd like it if Mantle was "the Gordon."
   43. zonk Posted: October 19, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4276962)
1) Find a new 3B lottery ticket - Ian Stewart was a decent gamble, but he obviously ain't the answer. Neither is Luis Valbuena... cast about for another 20something 3B whose shine is all but gone and roll the dice again.


Brandon Wood is available.


That would be fine with me precisely... heck, what's Andy Marte up to nowadays?
   44. The District Attorney Posted: October 19, 2012 at 08:29 PM (#4276964)
Looks like Marte's not even in baseball anymore. Amazing. (He turns 29 in two days.)
   45. McCoy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4276984)
I have no idea what the Cubs can do for next year to do much of anything besides suck. Almost all moves seem kind of pointless at this point.
   46. cardsfanboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4277018)
I'd like it if Mantle was "the Gordon."


The fact that his name comes up when doing a search for "the man" is just wrong.
   47. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4277066)
I have no idea what the Cubs can do for next year to do much of anything besides suck. Almost all moves seem kind of pointless at this point.
I read somewhere that the biggest problem with many teams is they don't recognize exactly where they are on the suck->getting better->good->getting worse->suck continuum.

The Cubs suck. They're a 100 loss team, and they need far too many parts to fix in one or two off-seasons, no matter how much money they have.

If I were Theo, I'd look at the roster and say "Who's likely to contribute to a championship-caliber team in '15?" and trade everyone else of any value. I'd kick the tires on Greinke simply because of his age; if I could sign him for 4 or 5 years at $12-15M per, fine (he isn't the ace of a playoff staff, but he certainly could be a major part of one). I'd make a run at B.J. Upton (again, because of his age).

It's easy to say "Sign this guy, sign that guy - they have tons of cash!" when it's not your money, but that's not a good plan. I think the Tigers have been brilliant - they either drafted or traded for every significant hitter/SP on the team except Fielder (and Martinez, who didn't play this year (but they wouldn't have signed Fielder if Martinez were healthy)) and a couple of relievers.***

***Of course I say this, and I've heard Josh Hamilton would LOVE to play in Detroit.
   48. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:42 PM (#4277083)
I'd like it if Mantle was "the Gordon."

Alex Gordon. Current players tend to beat out Hall of Famers.

The fact that his name comes up when doing a search for "the man" is just wrong.

Very.

Another "the" tidbit - the Brian Hunter is the fast one, not the slow one. The Bobby Jones is the right-hander, not the lefty. Any other names shared between players of similar quality?
   49. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4277085)
I read somewhere that the biggest problem with many teams is they don't recognize exactly where they are on the suck->getting better->good->getting worse->suck continuum.

The Cubs suck. They're a 100 loss team, and they need far too many parts to fix in one or two off-seasons, no matter how much money they have.

If I were Theo, I'd look at the roster and say "Who's likely to contribute to a championship-caliber team in '15?" and trade everyone else of any value. I'd kick the tires on Greinke simply because of his age; if I could sign him for 4 or 5 years at $12-15M per, fine (he isn't the ace of a playoff staff, but he certainly could be a major part of one). I'd make a run at B.J. Upton (again, because of his age).


I'd agree with most of that but I think there's still room to sign stopgap players. You don't always have a young player or prospect who's ready for the majors and it might be detrimental to his development to throw him onto the major league squad. In that case, it may be useful to sign a veteran for a year or two to fill out the roster even if they won't contribute to that possible pennant team in 2015.
   50. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:46 PM (#4277091)
Another "the" tidbit - the Brian Hunter is the fast one, not the slow one. The Bobby Jones is the right-hander, not the lefty. Any other names shared between players of similar quality?


Who's "the" Alex Gonzalez?
   51. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:48 PM (#4277099)
Seriously? That's his upside? Not the 205 of 2009? Talk about using selective endpoints.


Not at all. Recent history tells us more about a player. If you're signing Zack Greinke thinking that he's going to be the player he was in 2009 (and only 2009), you're taking a huge risk and likely making a big mistake.


I might be overrating Greinke. But I think you are tremendously discounting how he would help a rotation.


I wouldn't mind if my team signed him. But he's a #3 on a good team- maybe a #2- and it would be a bad idea to a: expect him to be an ace or b: pay him like one. I also don't think it's a good fit for the Cubs considering how far they have to go to contend.
   52. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4277106)
Who's "the" Alex Gonzalez?

Good one. The Alex Gonzalez was on the winning team in the '03 NLCS.
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4277120)
I wouldn't mind if my team signed him. But he's a #3 on a good team- maybe a #2- and it would be a bad idea to a: expect him to be an ace or b: pay him like one. I also don't think it's a good fit for the Cubs considering how far they have to go to contend.


We've had this discussion plenty of times, but a guy projected to put up a 105-110 era+ and pitch 180 innings, is not a number three, he's almost the text book definition of number 2(there is no such thing as a number five pitcher as that role is filled with whatever value you can get)
   54. Topher Posted: October 19, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4277196)
@51

Sigh. Geinke has been able to maintain his K rate since he put starting putting up 120 ERA+ seasons in 2007. (There has been some fluctuation there but he did league the NL in K/9 last season.) His BB rate hasn't really changed. His HR/9 rate is pretty much the same as well.

Recent history does tell us more. But to say that what we saw this past season is the high end that one could expect to get out a Greinke contract just doesn't add up if you are looking at any statistic other than ERA+. If ERA+ is the only stat we have to use, maybe Greinke isn't much more than a #3. But we have a lot more than just ERA+ to judge him.

I asked you this earlier in the thread. If Greinke is just a pretty good #3 as long as he isn't too expensive, what type of pitcher would be a very good #3? I really think you are overestimating the number of talented, reliable* pitchers that are on MLB rosters.


* This is an aside, but I think Greinke is going to make a killing in free agency regardless of him being a #1, #2, #3, or #4 type pitcher. Baseball is flush with money, Greinke is by most accounts the best pitcher available, and Greinke is athletic has never had a pitching injury. I think his health record is going to give him an extra year or two and a few million extra for each of them because it is a lot easier to trust Greinke over the long term compared to hoping that Anibal Sanchez's shoulder continues to hold up.

[EDIT] I suppose the mental health issues will matter to some teams but in terms of his arm holding up, Greinke's record is pretty spotless. In fact, the time away might have helped him stay healthy.
   55. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: October 19, 2012 at 10:56 PM (#4277221)
Any other names shared between players of similar quality?

Jeff D'Amico?
   56. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4277246)
Jeff D'Amico?

The Jeff D'Amico is the guy who played multiple MLB seasons, which isn't utterly shocking.
   57. Walt Davis Posted: October 20, 2012 at 02:18 AM (#4277283)
I read somewhere that the biggest problem with many teams is they don't recognize exactly where they are on the suck->getting better->good->getting worse->suck continuum.

The Cubs lost 100 games, I think they're clear where they are on the suck-to-suck continuum ... apparently they're on both ends of it.

If I were Theo, I'd look at the roster and say "Who's likely to contribute to a championship-caliber team in '15?" and trade everyone else of any value.

This is what they did last offseason and at the trade deadline this year ... which is why they sucked at a 100-loss level.

I don't have a clue how the Cubs are going to have anything resembling a championship-caliber team in 2015, especially without spending a lot on the FA market but here's who can still go:

DeJesus
Garza
Barney if anybody wants him
Marmol if anybody wants him

Nobody will want anybody else the Cubs have and is not (by contract) potentially part of our fab 2015 champs. A Cub team without those 4 and without substantial upgrades elsewhere will be amazingly, amazingly bad. Note, even if we brought in Greinke and Upton as you halfheartedly suggest, that's not a major upgrade on DeJesus and Garza for 2013.

The Cub payroll, with arb awards, currently stands at about $60 M including all arb awards -- for the highest revenue team in the NL. That's $70 M down from 2011. Nearly half of that $60 M goes to Garza, Marmol and DeJesus so we can be down in Rays territory if we play this right.

By the way, answering my trivia question (you guys are no fun):

Garza 106
Greinke 105
Dempster 101
Shields 101
E Jackson 100
Saunders 100
Guthrie 99
Lincecum 98 (my what a terrible season does)

Of the names tossed around, the Cubs already had two of these guys last year. And Maholm has essentially done this the last two years and SPJ did this in 2012 too. And they still lost 100 games (and would have come close even if they hadn't traded Maholm and Dempster).

Relevant to other posts, the list (requiring at least 500 IP from 2010-12):

#15: 122 ERA+, Hudson
#30: 106 ERA+, Garza
#45: 97 ERA+, Vargas
#60: doesn't exist, the list stops at 59 (Lowe, 83 ERA+)

That's only 500 innings, not exactly requiring iron men. We'll make it 2011-12 and 320 IP:

#15: 123 ERA+, Cain
#30: 110 ERA+, Peavy
#45: 102 ERA+, Scherzer
#60: 91 ERA+, Lincecum
70 qualifying pitchers (Lowe, 76)

2012, at least 160 IP:

#15: 126 ERA+, Kuroda
#30: 112 ERA+, Arroyo
#45: 104 ERA+, Johnson
#60: 97 ERA+, Wainwright
#75: 88 ERA+, Correa
#90: 72 ERA+, Jimenez
91 qualifying pitchers (Lincecum, 67)

Of course the cutoffs sneak up a bit as you reduce the pool but not dramatically so and a pitcher who posts a >100 ERA+ in 180 innings will be a top 60 pitcher in the league for that season. It's true, good teams (especially in a season) will have 3 or 4 guys above that threshold. That's why it sucks to be the Indians. Of course the Cubs had 3 of those guys (plus Garza) and still sucked.

Please understand how rare "reliable" pitching is. There aren't even 60 guys who have pitched 500 innings over the last 3 years. There aren't even 75 guys who have pitched 320 innings the last two and there are barely 90 who have pitched 160 innings in 2012. So, you don't turn it down when you can afford it but, unfortunately, the other lesson is that no pitcher can actually guarantee it. Greinke can get hurt or go off a cliff just like any other pitcher.

   58. RollingWave Posted: October 20, 2012 at 07:21 AM (#4277291)
Step 1:

Convince Hal Stienbrinner to Move the Yankees to Chicago and Rename them the Cubs

Step 2:

Convince the Cubs owners to move to New York and rename themself as the Yankees


Profit!


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