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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Friday, July 30, 2021

This all sucks

As much as the way the last few years ended, and even though today was completely predictable - and sadly, inevitable - today is still a really painful day.  Maybe we were spared a little pain by getting the shock of the Rizzo dump yesterday, so perhaps we should thank Jed for that.  The Cubs may have done the “smart” and sensible thing, but today sucks as a fan*.  Maybe some of the pieces the Cubs got will end up surprising us and being great, but it’s hard to swallow yet another complete teardown.  I was one of the more vocal supporters of the original Theo plan, and it resulted in a ring.  Today doesn’t change any of that, but it somehow makes those highs seems even further away and really taints those positive memories (I know I’ve said that before after one of the multiple recent flameouts). 

There’s actual analysis out there - some of which the rational side of me, along with the October 2020 and October 2019 and October 2018 versions of me, agrees with.  But not right now.  Not today.  And not for some time.  This blog has been dark for a while, and this post may simply vanish into the ether.  But since I documented so many of the highs during the last journey, it felt appropriate to include the epilogue here too.

*I know I’m feeling more this way because of how much this hurts my son (sorry, cliche but true), and what a rude reality check for him on the business of baseball.

Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: July 30, 2021 at 04:36 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: July 30, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6031697)
The salt in the wound is Lester to the Cardinals.
   2. Voodoo Posted: July 30, 2021 at 05:00 PM (#6031708)
I'm very sad today, but not mad. I suppose it was the right thing to do to clear the deck completely, but it is still shocking. And seeing the video of Bryant in tears after learning he was traded has me also misty-eyed.
   3. villageidiom Posted: July 30, 2021 at 05:05 PM (#6031714)
I hope for your sake that they rebound quickly.

Over in Boston they blew things up in 2012 and won in 2013. They spent late 2019 and most of 2020 casting aside so many key players from the 2018 championship, and yet here they are in 1st place now. But they never really did as big a tear-down as the Cubs are doing now. It absolutely sucks.
   4. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 30, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6031715)
Sigh.

The Cubs have slashed payroll and I have to wonder if ownership is now in a place where it’s ever heading back to where it was relative to the rest of MLB.

The Cubs are committed to $41 million next year with the only potentially significant arb awards going to Contreras and Happ. I don’t expect Contreras will still be a Cub come opening day.

In other words, it’s really hard to be optimistic about the future.
   5. Brian C Posted: July 30, 2021 at 05:37 PM (#6031737)
There's a paradox at work here, that on one hand it sucks to see all these guys being traded, while on the other hand they waited too long to move pretty much all of them except Kimbrel.

So the result is that Rizzo, Baez, and Bryant are all at, or at least within shouting distance of their low-end trade value, and being traded at a time when so many players are available. And we're seeing that they're basically getting pennies on the dollar.

I mean, sure, some of these guys are on their respective teams' top prospect lists, and I haven't really finished studying up on everyone yet. But I'm not sure they got a single player (other than Madrigal and Heuer) who are really strong bets to have even a 50/50 chance of playing a single game with the big-league club. So many guys that are far away and have very short professional track records. There's one or two that are intriguing (Kilian, for example), and I guess the odds favor one or two of them making a big jump ... but does anyone trust the Cubs' player development system with a bunch of rough prospects in A-ball? Who would, at this moment in time?

I guess that the real insult on today is that because of how long they waited and how underwhelming the returns are, it just feels more like a firesale than a rebuild. If there were guys coming back that we could point to and say, "THAT GUY looks like a big piece of the next great Cubs team" it would be easier to take in a circle-of-life kind of way. But instead we just pulled a Marlins, tearing it all down for a rebuild that will allegedly bear fruit at some vague point down the road.

No matter how you spin it, it just feels like complete mismanagement to get to this point. Coming into today, we had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. And after today ... well, probably still, even after almost all of the useful parts are stripped away.
   6. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: July 30, 2021 at 05:46 PM (#6031741)
Of that $41mil, I wish they'd just eat Heyward's deal and DFA him. I'd rather watch the new version of Tony Campana (or even, the actual Tony Compana) than Heyward.

It's going to be a long process again, for a number of reasons. Just like at the start of the last rebuild, the upper minors are pretty much completely devoid of talent. It's a decent FA class this year, and even if the Cubs wanted to spend a bunch of money - which they very clearly don't - there's just too many holes. Contreras and Hendricks are the only above average regulars left on the roster; maybe Wisdom is a guy (and I'm starting to think he might just be late bloomer, but I'm not risky any money on that bet); it's possible that Madrigal/Hoerner could be an average MI pairing (though I like Nico a lot less as a SS than 2b) but they also could just be Theriot/Fontenot 2.0; I want to think Alzolay could be a #3 rotation type, but the results haven't been there yet; I'm totally out on Happ; maybe the Cubs can be super aggressive with Davis and bring him up next year, but it ain't gonna be before the Super 2 deadline...

...At this point, why shouldn't they trade Contreras and Hendricks this offseason? I like them both plenty, but I don't think that's it worth signing up for Willy's 30s and Hendricks is going to fall off a cliff eventually; neither of them are enough of a fan favorite to be a consolation draw (i.e. what overpaying to keep Rizzo or Baez would have been).

BTW, did they just forget to trade Davies?
   7. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: July 30, 2021 at 05:50 PM (#6031744)
Putting this is a new post, but if you had to fill out next year's roster today, it would look like:

C: Contreras
1B: ?
2B: Madrigal
SS: Hoerner
3B: Wisdom
RF: Heyward
CF: ?
LF: Happ

SP: Hendricks/Alzolay/?/?/?

I'm not even gonna try to go much deeper than that, though maybe Alcantara is a backup IF (EDIT: and Bote; or maybe he's the starting 3b and Wisdom gets 1b) and guys like Steele and Thompson and Abbott are competitors for the rotation. There's no turning that group into a playoff contender anytime soon.
   8. Brian C Posted: July 30, 2021 at 07:28 PM (#6031788)
Trade Hendricks for what, though? He's plainly a guy likely to provide decent value through the life of his contract. So if they do decide to trade him, I would at least hope for some real prize in return instead of whatever Cracker Jack trinkets other teams are willing to part with.

Same with Contreras - he plainly has genuine value to offer so no need to trade him just to trade him. Get something real back and we'll talk, but the last thing the Cubs ought to do is talk themselves into a scenario where they feel they have to trade him.

Not yet mentioned is that Jake Marisnick was also dealt to the Padres for Anderson Espinoza, a former top prospect pitching this year for the first time since 2016 after two TJ surgeries. Unsurprisingly, it's not going so well for him, but still he actually seems like a worthwhile return for an essentially replacement-level guy like Marisnick.

   9. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: July 30, 2021 at 07:33 PM (#6031791)
I'm glad I'm not the only one here who's feeling really saddened by the last 24 hours. Baseball is a business and the modern game is built to either frustrate or sadden us as it relates to a player's tenure with one ballclub. Rizzo and/or Bryant going felt like a foregone conclusion. Javy is the real shocker for me. I suppose the payout he was rumored to be looking for probably helped seal his fate with the Cubs. Losing all three of them in the span of a day, though, really stings.

I think we all went into the season not expecting much based on the last couple years paired with the move of Darvish during the off-season. Still, the first few months were surprisingly pleasant and it seemed like the Cubs just might have one last run in them before the band broke up. In hindsight, it's been downhill since the no-hitter back in late June.

I don't have much else to add that hasn't been said better in this thread. I tend to agree with Brian in that this hurts extra because it really does feel like moving players for the sake of it rather than some well-engineered plan. I guess that's just how these things can go, but it still sucks. We'll always have 2016 and this iteration of the Cubs were a ton of fun to watch from 2015 to 2017 before some of the real cracks started to show. No doubt I'm all over omnichatters from the last several years saying something to the effect of there needing to be a big change with the roster construction. But damn, today is still a sad day.
   10. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: July 30, 2021 at 07:35 PM (#6031792)
I also want to add that for as cynical as I've been, this community of Cubs fans have enhanced the last seven or eight years of watching this rebuild really take shape and finally bring the North Side of Chicago a championship.
   11. Voodoo Posted: July 30, 2021 at 07:49 PM (#6031798)
There's a paradox at work here, that on one hand it sucks to see all these guys being traded, while on the other hand they waited too long to move pretty much all of them except Kimbrel.

So the result is that Rizzo, Baez, and Bryant are all at, or at least within shouting distance of their low-end trade value, and being traded at a time when so many players are available. And we're seeing that they're basically getting pennies on the dollar.


I disagree strongly with all of this. At what point do you think it would have been wise to trade Rizzo/Bryant/Baez at their "high end trade value"? You say they waited too long, when was the right time to make a move? You wanted them to unload these guys after 2019? I guess they could have traded them all last offseason, but I don't think that's the way to maximize a return.

I don't know enough about the prospect haul the Cubs got to say whether or not it was dollars to dollars or pennies on the dollars, but objective observers I'm following seem to think the Cubs did okay with their return, all things told.
   12. Voodoo Posted: July 30, 2021 at 07:56 PM (#6031801)
The Cubs really got "unlucky" in some of their go-for-it signings 2018-2020. Yu Darvish and Craig Kimbrel each had turns being absolutely atrocious and incredibly great for the Cubs, it just turned out that the times they were terrible were the times the Cubs really needed them to be good and the times they were exceptional, it didn't amount to much.
   13. Brian C Posted: July 30, 2021 at 07:57 PM (#6031802)
I disagree strongly with all of this. At what point do you think it would have been wise to trade Rizzo/Bryant/Baez at their "high end trade value"? You say they waited too long, when was the right time to make a move? You wanted them to unload these guys after 2019? I guess they could have traded them all last offseason, but I don't think that's the way to maximize a return.

I don't know that there was a right time to trade them all. That's not really my point. My point is just that waiting until now is the worst of both worlds - they talked themselves into a situation where they had to trade them all, but it's at a point in time where their value was just not very high.
I don't know enough about the prospect haul the Cubs got to say whether or not it was dollars to dollars or pennies on the dollars, but objective observers I'm following seem to think the Cubs did okay with their return, all things told.

"Okay" and "all things told" seem like the operative terms here. I don't see anyone that thinks that the Cubs really killed it, but yes, I agree, everyone seems to think that they did "okay, all things told." But one of the things being told is that these guys no longer had a ton of value to begin with!
   14. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:04 PM (#6031806)
BTW, did they just forget to trade Davies?

Or Arrieta? Come on! But seriously, I don’t think anyone was going to offer anything but garbage for Davies, and he isn’t that expensive for someone who can eat some innings. And this team is going to need some innings eating.

The income from this fire sale was pretty disappointing, but it doesn’t seem like teams these days are willing to give up star prospect talent for a couple of months of star major league talent in a pennant race. To trade four players like these and the best player in return is Pete Crow-Armstrong… wow. Not that they’re bad, especially Crow-Armstrong, but none of them are blue chips, or even teal or aquamarine chips. I mean, at least the return from the Darvish trade consisted of very young super-toolsy tabula rasa players.

I guess it’s on to the 2022 draft, where the Cubs should be well-positioned. They’re a ways from getting in the top few picks, but they could try!

*I know I’m feeling more this way because of how much this hurts my son (sorry, cliche but true), and what a rude reality check for him on the business of baseball.

On the other hand, the archetypal emotion that defines Cub fandom will make more sense. But yeah, this truly sucks.

No matter how you spin it, it just feels like complete mismanagement to get to this point. Coming into today, we had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. And after today ... well, probably still, even after almost all of the useful parts are stripped away.

Exactly. And the savings is probably not going to be put into free agent acquisitions.

The Cubs are committed to $41 million next year with the only potentially significant arb awards going to Contreras and Happ. I don’t expect Contreras will still be a Cub come opening day.

I kind of do? Happ, on the other hand… I still like him but I wish him well.

There will be an unpleasant reaction to this. All of the shiny new stuff around Clark and Addison will look pretty bad the next few years, especially if fans don’t show up. Personally, I was not sold on the Cubs signing any of the traded players long-term, far from it, and if you’re not going to re-sign your free agents and you’re not in real contention, trading them makes sense. However, the return on these trades overall was terrible. On the other hand, even after the fire sale, there is some talent to build around — the Cubs could field a decent or good team next year if they acquire some additional major league players. But overall I feel like I did ten years ago: if they sincerely focus on re-building the farm system, I am willing to put up with some bad years. We will see if the organization knows how to do that. It seems right now that the current leadership is better than the one that preceded it (how could they be worse?) but they are not at the level of the several organizations that manage to maintain a consistent flow of high quality talent.


   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:11 PM (#6031808)
I disagree strongly with all of this. At what point do you think it would have been wise to trade Rizzo/Bryant/Baez at their "high end trade value"? You say they waited too long, when was the right time to make a move? You wanted them to unload these guys after 2019? I guess they could have traded them all last offseason, but I don't think that's the way to maximize a return.

I agree that it wasn’t about trading them at the wrong time. Things looked pretty good for the team two months ago — at least we had May! I would not have thought that deadline trades would have yielded so little.

The real problem is that the Cubs minor league system was officially on empty after the Jose Quintana trade in 2017, and it has not rebounded since.
   16. Voodoo Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:18 PM (#6031815)
I don't know that there was a right time to trade them all. That's not really my point. My point is just that waiting until now is the worst of both worlds - they talked themselves into a situation where they had to trade them all, but it's at a point in time where their value was just not very high.


This is dumb. There was no previous point at which it would have made sense to trade these guys, no matter what their relative trade value could have been. They traded them today, at a point where it makes perfect sense to jettison expiring contracts. Do you think they should have stood pat this deadline and got some draft picks for these guys? I think it's fair to say that their haul is better than three second round draft picks, don't you? Otherwise, what are you suggesting was a better route? Extending them all? I would have liked that.
   17. Brian C Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:20 PM (#6031816)
It seems right now that the current leadership is better than the one that preceded it (how could they be worse?) but they are not at the level of the several organizations that manage to maintain a consistent flow of high quality talent.

Here's a genuine question - *is* the current leadership better than the one that preceded it, at least relative to the rest of the league?

When Epstein took over, the Cubs instantly became one of the sharpest, most progressive front offices in baseball. But that was a decade ago and the rest of the league seems like it has advanced a great deal since then. And I don't think the Cubs have advanced along with them. So where do the Cubs rank on a relative basis, right now? Higher than the Hendry front office back in the day?

Again, just to be clear - I'm talking relative to the rest of the league. If Jed Hoyer magically became a free agent today, how many teams would want to fire their front office to upgrade to him? When Epstein was available, he was a clear upgrade for tons of teams. But what about Hoyer now?

I don't really know the answer to this, by the way.
   18. Brian C Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:24 PM (#6031817)
This is dumb. There was no previous point at which it would have made sense to trade these guys, no matter what their relative trade value could have been. They traded them today, at a point where it makes perfect sense to jettison expiring contracts. Do you think they should have stood pat this deadline and got some draft picks for these guys? I think it's fair to say that their haul is better than three second round draft picks, don't you? Otherwise, what are you suggesting was a better route? Extending them all? I would have liked that.

Look, I don't want to start a fight, but maybe try holding off on "dumb" talk if you're not going to grasp what I'm saying? I mean, you're very obviously talking past me.
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 30, 2021 at 08:33 PM (#6031821)
Here's a genuine question - *is* the current leadership better than the one that preceded it, at least relative to the rest of the league?

Yes. Without a doubt. The Hendry regime was thoroughly incompetent — they doubled down on the Cubs decades-long history of incompetence at developing a farm system. That ossified legacy is more my point. Certainly Hendry had nothing to work with, but he seemed not to understand that that was even a problem. Despite Hendry’s reputation as a player scouting and development guy. The Epstein regime came in, acknowledged the problem explicitly, started working on it, the team got good, and, I don’t know, they forgot?

But based on what has happened the last 4-5 years, no, I am not willing to say that the Cubs system is better than anyone else’s, I’ll give you that. Which is why I’m saying go ahead, tear it down and rebuild. But that probably means firing everybody. If you’re going to get rid of the best players, by all means, clean house in the front office.
   20. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: July 30, 2021 at 09:39 PM (#6031840)
I hope this doesn't come off as concern-troll, or as kicking you while you're down. With that said, the Cardinals haven't had a fire sale like this since 1990, when Gussie Busch died and Whitey Herzog quit. Maybe we're just lucky, I don't know. Because otherwise I can't understand how a dying cow-town like St. Louis doesn't run into these "well, we couldn't afford them next year, so we better trade them now" moments, while what should be the eternal behemoth of the central division rebuilds again, in spite of its much larger and much wealthier fan base. The Cardinals have been coasting since La Russa and Luhnow left ten years ago, so I don't mean to put them up as an icon, but I keep dreading that the Cubs will finally leverage their massive advantages, and instead they keep pissing those advantages away.

TLDR: You guys really should be unhappy, particularly when cliches like "success cycle" and "business side of the game" are trotted out.
   21. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 30, 2021 at 10:40 PM (#6031863)
I keep dreading that the Cubs will finally leverage their massive advantages, and instead they keep pissing those advantages away.

I keep dreading that they will never stop doing that.

It’s not just St. Louis. There are plenty of teams that are either consistently good or bounce back quickly from downturns: Dodgers, Astros, Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, maybe Guardians, Giants, Mets, Brewers. I have been saying this for a long time. There are absolutely zero reasons that the Cubs should not be one of those teams, and that has been true for decades. It probably means everyone in the organization should be fired.

There is a success cycle, and from the beginning of the Cubs recent peak I thought their sudden upturn happened too fast for their overall organization, putting them in the position of expending their developing talent for short-term success, before the organization was really prepared for it. Consistently successful teams consistently develop good talent and have an eye for taking it from other organizations, so they are always prepared to improve and never far from a rebound. The Cubs have had four years since it was obvious that they lacked a legitimate pipeline of talent, and it appears that no progress has been made in that time. The Darvish trade stands as a desperate reflection of that. It will be a shame if today’s situation is remembered primarily as evidence that the Ricketts are cheap bastards, which is probably true but not the crux of the situation.
   22. Brian C Posted: July 30, 2021 at 11:02 PM (#6031870)
Yes. Without a doubt. The Hendry regime was thoroughly incompetent — they doubled down on the Cubs decades-long history of incompetence at developing a farm system. That ossified legacy is more my point. Certainly Hendry had nothing to work with, but he seemed not to understand that that was even a problem.

Well sure, Hendry was bad ... but my point is that there were a lot of bad GMs back in those days. Hendry was never going to be the guy to build a perpetual contender, but the Cubs did have some random bursts of short-lived success during his tenure. Which is more than a bunch of teams can say, then or now. That's why I was using "relative to the rest of the league" as a baseline instead of a 1:1 comparison.

And let's face it, the Hendry Cubs were never in a worse position than the Hoyer Cubs are in right now. After today, this is a 60-win team with any meaningful help in the farm system years away if it exists at all. They have a couple of meaningful assets left - namely Hendricks and Contreras - but neither of those guys are likely to bring franchise-altering talent back in a trade.

This organization has gone from being the class of the league to a complete wasteland in 5 years. Once the fanbase gets past the initial shock and grief of today and that reality sets in, I think things are going to get kinda ugly.
   23. The Duke Posted: July 31, 2021 at 09:39 AM (#6031893)
There is one common denominator that is clear. In the central divisions, the teams are shedding salary (and WAR). The same pattern from the winter continues at the deadline. The only team bucking the trend is the white Sox and that’s because Reinsdorf wants to win before he dies.

So it’s interesting to ask what is driving this behavior vis-a-vis the East and west divisions? Is attendance not coming back in Midwest ? It seems to me that there is almost a pact by these teams to not spend. Has the union looked into this? Even the Arenado deal isn’t what it seems. The cardinals paid nothing in 2021 and have $60 million coming off book in 2022 so it’s not a net add
   24. bfan Posted: July 31, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6031902)
Wasn’t there a study done about 10 years ago that found that the correlation between winning and attendance was lower for the Cubs than any other team? The Cubs will always draw because people love the Cubs and Wrigley. Even casual fans who visit Chicago will try and score a Cubs ticket because of who they are and where they play. That is only true of maybe 1 other franchise?

My point is they may be bad for a while but their attendance won’t suffer.
   25. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: July 31, 2021 at 05:28 PM (#6031937)
Trade Hendricks for what, though? He's plainly a guy likely to provide decent value through the life of his contract. So if they do decide to trade him, I would at least hope for some real prize in return instead of whatever Cracker Jack trinkets other teams are willing to part with.

Same with Contreras - he plainly has genuine value to offer so no need to trade him just to trade him. Get something real back and we'll talk, but the last thing the Cubs ought to do is talk themselves into a scenario where they feel they have to trade him.


For Hendricks, yeah, I kinda mean they might as well trade him for a Darvish-lite return (maybe equal when you take into account Darvish makes more than Hendricks). Contreras is gonna be a FA after next year; the return will be much better if they trade him in the offseason instead of waiting for next year's deadline. My point isn't that I *want* them to trade them, I'm just saying at this point and with everything else they've done, why wouldn't they? Even if the Cubs wanted to sign Contreras (I honestly don't know if they do or not), do you want to pay market rate for his 30's/decline? It would be smarter to give a big deal to Bryant, then Baez, before either Rizzo or Contreras, right?

I disagree strongly with all of this. At what point do you think it would have been wise to trade Rizzo/Bryant/Baez at their "high end trade value"? You say they waited too long, when was the right time to make a move? You wanted them to unload these guys after 2019? I guess they could have traded them all last offseason, but I don't think that's the way to maximize a return.

I think it would have probably been smart to move on from someone after 2018, whether those 3 or Contreras/Schwarber, you know back when Theo said the offense was broken. Or after 2019. It's impossible to know for certain at those times whether their value would go back up or get worse (it got worse, for all of them), but it was overall poor planning going back to 2016/2017 to have all of them going in FA at the same time with nothing behind them and none of them extended.

I don't know that there was a right time to trade them all. That's not really my point. My point is just that waiting until now is the worst of both worlds - they talked themselves into a situation where they had to trade them all, but it's at a point in time where their value was just not very high.

Agreed.

Or Arrieta? Come on! But seriously, I don’t think anyone was going to offer anything but garbage for Davies, and he isn’t that expensive for someone who can eat some innings. And this team is going to need some innings eating.

I assume everyone would say Davies was better than Williams; couldn't they have sent Davies to the Mets instead and gotten another low end prospect? That's all I meant; not that they were gonna trade with the Cards, but both Lester and Happ were much worse than them and the value of an innings eater had to be something. Jake is done, his job now is to help them lose the rest of this year; in the alternate world where the Cubs were still on the fringes of the WC race he was gonna be DFAd.

My point is they may be bad for a while but their attendance won’t suffer.

Probably true, but in the COVID world, who really knows. I think the bigger problem here is the ratings are gonna suck and they're already having a terrible time getting their network picked up by carriers. That matters more than attendance too (even though the Ricketts did try to claim they were way more dependent on in person fans for their income).
   26. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: July 31, 2021 at 05:44 PM (#6031938)
As for the farm system, looks like the Cubs are now up to 9th in org rankings per FG, with 9 of the top 20 (and 12 of top 30) coming back from the trades yesterday and the Darvish deal; MLB Pipeline is 9 of 20. As one point of comparison, KLaw ranked the Cubs 26th before the season and MLB Pipeline (Callis/Mayo/etc) 22nd (so after the Darvish deal). This doesn't count the 2 guys from the Sox in the Kimbrel deal, as they're both already in the bigs (though Madrigal is out until next year).

Of course, there's only one blue chip prospect in the system (Davis), and they didn't get any top 100 guys back; but a number of new guys are now top 10 in the system. The other part here, which multiple of us have mentioned, is none of these guys, even the existing ones, are really that close to helping unless the Cubs get really aggressive/lucky with breakouts.

the Cubs could field a decent or good team next year if they acquire some additional major league players.

Look at the team I posted in 7. I quibble with your use of the word "some," they need a lot of help to be decent next year. Like, they need to fill half their PAs and IP with average to above average guys to get to decent, IMO.
   27. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: July 31, 2021 at 07:56 PM (#6031954)
But they never really did as big a tear-down as the Cubs are doing now. It absolutely sucks.


Maybe not, but they traded Mookie Betts, which was a pretty serious kick in the nuts to a lot of fans. He's their best position player since, who? Yaz? Ted Williams even? Rich teams like the Red Sox (and the Cubs, for that matter) aren't supposed to be the ones who ship off their young greats to avoid losing a bidding war. They're supposed to drop enormous contracts on them so that never happens. (Notably, that's exactly what the Dodgers did the very second Betts came to town, practically.)

Even casual fans who visit Chicago will try and score a Cubs ticket because of who they are and where they play. That is only true of maybe 1 other franchise?


I've certainly made a point of seeing Cubs games every time I'v been in Chicago in the summer. I think, though, that the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Yankees all have a similar draw, though the Yankees punted their classic stadium instead of restoring it.

Anyway, I'm not a Cubs fan, so I feel a little like I'm speaking out of turn. But this sucks for this non-Cubs-fan, too. That 2016 team was magical, and it seemed like it was set to be for a long time. There's some bad luck mixed in there -- tough playoff losses, Bryant's injuries and regression, not-quite acquisitions like Yu Darvish -- but it is sad to see great team in a great city fall like this, especially without ever making it back to the Series. It's a little like building half of the Statue of Liberty, and then going, "Nah, who cares about this thing. Pull it down, boys."
   28. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 01, 2021 at 02:10 PM (#6032015)
Baez. Soler. Bryant. Russell. Schwarber. Contreras.

I remember people debating which one(s) the Cubs would seek to tie-in long-term. Turns out the answer might be none of them. (Yeah, they still have Contreras, but no guarantees they'll even keep him). This right here is the really frustrating part - moreso than any of the individual moves.
   29. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: August 01, 2021 at 02:43 PM (#6032023)
I assume everyone would say Davies was better than Williams; couldn't they have sent Davies to the Mets instead and gotten another low end prospect? That's all I meant; not that they were gonna trade with the Cards, but both Lester and Happ were much worse than them and the value of an innings eater had to be something. Jake is done, his job now is to help them lose the rest of this year; in the alternate world where the Cubs were still on the fringes of the WC race he was gonna be DFAd.

Oh, one more point I forgot. The Cubs paid Rizzo's salary and theoretically got a better return back; did they not offer (or decide to cheap out) to pay anything for Baez, Bryant, or Kimbrel to improve those returns? On the one hand, good for those teams not being cheap, but on the other maybe the Cubs should have pushed harder on the money part and maybe they could have gotten a little more/better back.

Baez. Soler. Bryant. Russell. Schwarber. Contreras.

I remember people debating which one(s) the Cubs would seek to tie-in long-term. Turns out the answer might be none of them. (Yeah, they still have Contreras, but no guarantees they'll even keep him). This right here is the really frustrating part - moreso than any of the individual moves.


Yep. Cynically speaking though, they really dodged a bullet not signing most of those guys longer. I think I said in the other thread though, I don't think a Bryant or Baez extension at any point after 16/17/18 would really look that bad today, considering the big deals that have been signed since then (none of them are worth the Tatis/deGrom deals*, but maybe they could have gotten someone for the Acuna deal had they tried early enough).

*Pick whatever comps you want, maybe you prefer the Harper or Machado ones, but those 2 were big pre-FA extensions as opposed to FA deals.

   30. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 01, 2021 at 08:24 PM (#6032079)
All three guys homered in their first game with their new team. Wild.
   31. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 01, 2021 at 09:38 PM (#6032085)
They better retain Contreras, and I would not have traded Baez.
   32. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 02, 2021 at 03:01 PM (#6032222)
I think a question now is: Would you want the Cubs to take on any of the contracts these three are likely to get this offseason?

Rizzo is probably my favorite player, but even I balk at the idea of giving him too many years given that he's had back issues for a while and is now in his thirties. I think a lot of us questioned over the last few seasons if Bryant had already peaked as he seemed to be hurt or/and ineffective for long stretches of time. Baez is one of the more dynamic players in the game and probably the guy of the three I would've wanted to see them extend/re-sign. But maybe I'm just shell-shocked still from Alfonso Soriano, but Baez strikes me as the type of hitter who could just fall apart without much notice. Big swing, doesn't walk, etc. He's still a defensive wizard and a great base-runner, but he just seems like a guy whose offensive game will age poorly and harshly.

I don't know. Beyond the emotional toll of watching them get shipped off, I think what made last weekend so hard was the full realization that the organization hasn't done a great or even very good job at developing talent that could hope to step in for these guys.
   33. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: September 20, 2021 at 02:21 PM (#6040539)
Been a while since the trade, and although I haven't been watching (I cancelled my fubotv package the day of the trade deadline) I've been following. Couple assorted thoughts that weren't worth putting in a new post.

Since the trades:
Javy - .305/.381/.565. Man, the Mets haven't gotten the full Javy experience and he's really been amazing lately hell, he's actually even walking a little bit now. He's probably helped his FA cause if you only look at the numbers, but he's also given people more excuses not to sign him. Still would love to have him back.
Rizzo - .250/.340/.424/1 COVID. Probably just who is he now; I thought he'd show a bit more power in NYS. Not sure how much of a market he's gonna have this season.
Bryant - .284/.365/.500 and starts all over. Been exactly himself, and he's a perfect fit on that team. I've finally accepted he's not coming back and still will be curious to see what kind of deal he'll get. I wouldn't be surprised to see him stay in SF.
Kimbrel - 18ip, 29/8 K/BB, but 4HRs and a 5.50ERA. Hasn't been used as the closer, and has had some notable bad moments. TLR even pulled him to bring in a LOOGY once. Cubs sold at the perfect time there.
Tepera - 16ip, 22/5 K/BB, 2.81ERA and now on IL. Sold him at right time too.
Chafin - 24.2ip, 23/5 K/BB, 1.46ERA. Been really, really good for them.

---

As for the Cubs, Wisdom predictably cooled off but still overall has provided value (that K rate is always going to be a problem, but the defense can be a plus. Same for Ortega, but he is clearly just a platoon guy and is maybe really just a nice 4th/5th OF as opposed to a guy who can start on a decent team. Schwindel is now looking the most likely of these old new guys as a guy who might be worth starting; he doesn't walk a ton, and he's obviously been very fortunate so far and still doesn't have that many ABs, but the extremely low K rate is an indicator he might be ok even after the BABIP and ISO come back to earth. Whether it'll be enough to be a highish (for these days) BA/medium power 1b with maybe ok defense (he's not Rizzo over there) is TBD. Nico continues to be injury prone. Contreras offense this year has been garbage, not sure what to think about that long term. Happ is the midst of another hot streak, but I'm skeptical and am not giving him the benefit of the doubt this time.

The rotation is a dumpster fire. Hendricks has been really, really bad the 2nd half; did he finally slip just enough to be completely useless? I hope not, but it's a real fear this time. Mills has been fine as a 5th starter type, but he's currently their best starter. With Alzolay pitching out of the pen, there's a very real chance the Cubs need 4 or 5 SP this offseason. That's probably impossible to do - and nothing really in the minors seems like it'll help - so we still probably have to pencil in those last 3 guys as part of the plan for 30-40% of the starts next year. That right there is more than enough to keep the Cubs from sniffing wild card relevance.

I don't really care about the pen, the Cubs seem to be able to figure that out decently enough every year. Heuer and Wick seem like guys, the rest, who knows?

There have been some nice stories in the minors, most still far enough away. But Brennan Davis is up to AAA already, and assuming he doesn't struggle too much, he's probably got an outside shot (very, very slim, but non zero) of being with the team from the get go next year (maybe they actually try to sign him to one of those Eloy type deals now to skip the whole service time bullshit), but almost assuredly will be up for good at some point next year. After that....


...so refreshing the roster for next year right now looks like:

C: Contreras
1B: Schwindel
2B: Madrigal?
SS: Hoerner?
3B: Wisdom?
RF: Heyward
CF: ?
LF: Happ?

SP: ?/?/?/Hendricks/Alzolay/Mills

I put questions behind Madrigal and Nico because who knows coming back from injury (I said it before and I'll say it again, I'm maybe ok with Nico at 2b and/or CF, but don't like him as a FT SS - I think the Cubs have to spend $ at SS this offseason). I don't think you want to assume Wisdom and Happ as the starting option just yet, but because of how many other holes - and let's be honest, Heyward in RF is also a hole - you can't fill all of them in one offseason. A bench of Wisdom/Happ/Ortega/Nico isn't so bad; a team starting 2 of them sucks; a team starting all 4 is aiming for the #1 pick (hell, maybe lump Schwindel in there too).
   34. Brian C Posted: September 20, 2021 at 10:30 PM (#6040620)
I wonder if there's any use to projecting the 2022 team. Hoyer's been making all sorts of noise about a quick rebuild, and since none of the prospects from the deadline deals are near the majors, that heavily implies a very active offseason.

Granted, I think it's all or at least mostly BS, and I have no idea how they're going to go about things, but still it's hard to imagine a team on Opening Day 2022 built around Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom. Which is no slight to those guys - I've enjoyed watching them both and am actually sort of grateful to them for giving me a reason to keep paying attention this year. Nothing but good feelings for those guys from me.

BUT ... I think 2016 changed a lot about Cubs fans' collective psychology, and contra the conventional wisdom (no pun intended), I don't really think the org can just sit back and count on the fans even if the team is awful like they did in the past. It feels to me like there's a big possibility of meaningful backlash if we go into 2022 without some tangible reason for optimism, and another offseason of Matt Duffy types isn't going to cut it.
   35. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: September 21, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6040703)
Oh, absolutely. I keep talking about it because there are so many ####### holes to fill that Hoyer has to be full of crap or delusional if he thinks they can realistically not be ####### awful next year.

Like I said, they could spend a lot. First, arb awards - basically just Contreras and Happ, who earned $6.65 and $4.1 this year; I doubt either see huge raises based on what their final numbers will look like; let's say ~$15mil combined. After that, the Cubs only have $38.5mil guaranteed (just Heyward, Hendricks, and Bote) plus the various minimums and non-significant arbs. What's a realistic number for the payroll to hit next year? Opening day payroll this year per Cots was $147mil, which actually seems low. Will the Cubs spend to get back to that level? Honestly, anything below that almost is insulting but just spending to spending ain't smart either. Do they try and get 1 or 2 premier FAs (i.e. guys getting at least $200mil deals - Correa/Seager types) and a bunch of shorter/lower total value types (ie the Joc type deals) or aim for the middle guys (like Castellanos types)? Will they have trouble selling themselves to the top FAs based on how the last few years went or will the money talk (I just remember all the talk when Lester/Heyward/Zobrist signed and the "other" stuff with the Cubs and not just taking the biggest deal)?

I'm not excited for the offseason, but I'm beyond curious how it will go.
   36. Brian C Posted: September 21, 2021 at 10:37 PM (#6040824)
Will they have trouble selling themselves to the top FAs based on how the last few years went or will the money talk

Of all the things to worry about, I think this is the one that I'm least concerned with - why would the Cubs have any trouble attracting FAs (if they decide to pursue them) "based on how the last few years went"? The last few years have certainly been deflating for us as fans, and the deadline seemed to leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth, but it's not like there's been a lot of strife and drama to put the franchise in a bad light; there hasn't even been a scandal on the level of the Red Sox chicken wings incident. Their core aged out, that's really it.

The Cubs will be right back among the elite franchises in the league as soon as the org decides they want to be. Who they'll want to get is a much bigger question than whether or not they can get them, IMO.

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