The PF Flyer, Matt Garza … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Baseball’s off-season is beginning its stretch run. With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, teams have a lot of work to do over the next six weeks leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. It should be a very interesting first month of Twenty-Twelve around the game as well as for the Chicago Cubs.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer appear to be working on several deals that could have a big impact on the roster they begin Spring Training with … much less the regular season. Rumors have suggested Epstein and Hoyer are shopping Matt Garza, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto. Plus, the Cubs are still linked to Prince Fielder on a daily basis.

The Cubs still have to work out contracts for their six arbitration eligible players for next season and announce their non-roster invites to Spring Training. The Cubs’ annual organization meetings, which typically take place in early November, are expected to take place in Mesa a week prior to the start of Spring Training. The Cubs have not announced their reporting dates for pitchers and catchers and position players but under the previous regime pitchers and catchers reported around February 13 with position players five or so days later.

Here are a few important numbers for the Chicago Cubs: 10, 41, 61 and 93 … as in 10 days until the 27th Annual Cubs Convention, 41 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, 61 days until the Cubs’ Cactus League opener against the Athletics and 93 days until Opening Day at Wrigley against the Washington Nationals.

Here’s the update …

Prince Fielder
The Cubs continue to be connected to Prince Fielder despite the fact the Cubs’ appear to be in rebuilding mode and not ready to sign free agents to long-term contracts.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday morning the Nationals have emerged as a favorite to sign Prince Fielder … then joined Jody McDonald and Mel Antonen during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) later in the day to discuss his report.

In his report, Haudricourt stated he was told by an MLB official that “word is spreading in the industry that the Washington Nationals have emerged as a favorite” to sign Fielder. The market was slow on Fielder but with the calendar flipping to 2012, Haudricourt expects Scott Boras to try to get a deal for Fielder done soon.

The official Haudricourt spoke to does not know if the Nationals would sign Fielder to the eight-ten year deal Boras is seeking for his client.

Haudricourt explained during his time on Inside Pitch that the Nationals have always been in the mix for Fielder and have ramped up their preparation for the season over the last 10 days … and Fielder could be the next piece they add. The Nationals and Mike Rizzo have a history of doing a lot of business with Scott Boras and it would not surprise Haudricourt if that is where Fielder ends up signing.

When the off-season began, Haudricourt thought the Cubs, Rangers and Mariners were the favorites to sign Fielder and he is not going to count out the Cubs signing Fielder until a deal is actually signed with another team.

Mel Antonen asked Haudricourt what he thought the pros and cons were for Fielder signing with the Cubs. Haudricourt, like just about everyone else, has heard the Cubs’ new regime is not ready to make any long-term commitments right now because they do not see the team competing for two-three years. And he feels that is the only con for Fielder signing with the Cubs.

Haudricourt thinks the Cubs signing Fielder to a long-term deal makes sense for the Cubs because when they are ready to compete, Fielder will be in place and would likely be under contract for another five seasons.

Haudricourt thinks Fielder would like to sign with the Cubs (several reports throughout the off-season have mentioned Fielder’s desire to sign with the Cubs, including one from Ken Davidoff on Monday morning) and pointed out how much he loves hitting at Wrigley, plus there is the Dale Sveum connection. Haudricourt is not convinced Fielder will sign with any team other than the Chicago Cubs.

Scott Boras addressed the market for Prince Fielder and said it is still developing. Boras explained, “As I’ve told many, there’s a lot of passengers on the PF Flyer. I keep having discussions with teams, and they keep coming back after those discussions. We are having a very robust and constant communication with many teams. We’ve had an opportunity over the last 10 days to certainly get more definition, I would say. Normally in free agency, after a period of time you have teams that move to the background. When we think that’s happened, those teams have called back and they’ve changed their position.

Matt Garza
The Cubs are receiving significant interest in Matt Garza according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday. Davidoff joined Jeff Joyce and Todd Hollandsworth during Power Alley (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) on Monday morning and discussed a variety of baseball topics … among them, Matt Garza and Prince Fielder.

Davidoff has heard, like most, the Cubs are asking a lot in return for Matt Garza and have not been able to find a match. The Yankees are very interested and Davidoff thinks there is a decent chance Garza ends up in the Bronx. But it would likely not be for the package of players the Cubs are asking for in return. According to a report from ESPN New York, the Cubs are demanding at least two, if not all three, of the Yankees top prospects (Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances) for Matt Garza … and according to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are trying to decide between trading for Garza or signing Edwin Jackson.

The Blue Jays have been linked to Garza in recent weeks but their interest appears to be fleeting at this point. According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Jays are unlikely to acquire Matt Garza because they are not willing to give up top prospects for a pitcher that would only be under team control for two seasons.

The Tigers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox and Marlins are the five teams that appear to have the most interest in trading for Matt Garza … and there is no real favorite at this time.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to Ken Davidoff (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio), the amount of years Prince Fielder is seeking is the reason he has not signed yet.

According to a report out of Venezuela, Carlos Zambrano did not make his last Winter League start on Monday night due to a leg injury. The Cubs have not announced Zambrano is injury, so if he is, the extent of the injury is unknown.

Coco Crisp has decided which team he is going to play for in 2012 … the Cubs have been linked to Crisp this off-season and are considered the front-runner to sign him.

Off-Season Calendar
Will update the calendar throughout the off-season

January

  • 5 – Individual game tickets for 2012 Cubs Spring Training home games go on sale
  • 5 – 15 – Salary arbitration filing period
  • 9 – Hall of Fame Class of 2012 announced
  • 13 – 15 – 27th Annual Cubs Convention
  • 18 – Exchange of salary arbitration figures

February

  • 1 – 21 – Salary arbitration hearings
  • 13 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for pitchers, catchers and injured players
  • 15 – End of Waiver Period
  • 16 – Beginning of New Waiver Period
  • 18 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for other players

March

  • 2 – Mandatory reporting date to Spring Training for all players
  • 2 – 11 – Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players
  • 4 – Cubs Spring Training Opening Day – Cubs versus A’s at HoHoKam Park
  • 19 – Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days
  • 28-29 – Japan Opening Series – Seattle vs. Oakland, Tokyo

April

  • 2 – Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2011 salary (Only 45 days termination pay is due)
  • 4 – All Clubs must reduce active roster to 25 players
  • 4 – Opening Day for MLB
  • 5 – Opening Day for Chicago Cubs – Cubs vs. Nationals at Wrigley Field

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"There are only two seasons ... winter and baseball." - Bill Veeck

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  • Aaron

    I’m just going to go on a limb here, but Crisp’s agent was very revealing with the comment he made about notifying the team he’s selected, etc.

    A lot of times, if players have been offered a contract, and they agree to terms, they’ll let that team know very quickly, and word will leak to the media.

    If it is the Cubs, the lack of noise out of the Crisp camp makes a lot of sense, and one of the reasons could be a trade (Soriano or Byrd). The Cubs wouldn’t dare announce the signing of Crisp, who is likely to be a starter, while at the same time, hanging onto Byrd or Soriano….at least not under this regime (that was Hendry’s way of doing business though…signing guys, then being backed into a corner with needing to trade someone to create an opening).

    Anyway, I wouldn’t mind Crisp and his 20+annual stolen base totals, plus the fact that he makes good contact with low K totals….I just don’t think he’s a starter and would prefer more power somewhere in the OF.

    If Crisp has the Cubs in mind, as is being reported, then perhaps we’re going to see a Garza trade that includes Soriano or Byrd as well, and it’ll all take care of itself at once….who really knows.

    I actually like the fact that this new regime is so unpredictable. With Hendry, I could telegraph his moves in advance for all to see on here….and that’s the damn truth…but, these guys….literally anything could happen. We could see them hang onto Garza, sign Fielder and Edwin Jackson, and make a run at the postseason, or we could see them completely blow up this roster, including the minors, and start all over again.

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      Yeah, I know what you mean Aaron. Hendry, would have given DeJesus a 3 year deal like he gave Byrd. Team Theo is very tight lipped. IMHO, Levine,Miles et all have to work harder now for their sources.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JKQGSH67PHSCQL7OCOLRJHIGY TomO

      Concerning Crisp, from mlbtraderumors.com
      “The California native seems to prefer West Coast teams, but explained in September that he’s also looking to play on a winner and find a good “financial situation” for himself.”

      1. Cubs have enough money to offer Crisp a good “financial situation”
      2. We are NOT stationed on the West Coast
      3. We are NOT going to be a winner this year

      I realize his quote was back in September, and that things change especially when the almighty dollar becomes involved, but I don’t think he’s coming to Chicago.

      Although, this is the first time that I can recall a player stating that a decision has been made without stating the team.  Very odd.  Possibly the workings of Theo/Jed?

      • Anthony

        Garza/Byrd and 1 upper level prospect to BOS

        Ellsbury/Ranaudo/A.Wilson/Youk and 2 lower level prospect to ChiC.

        1. Theo roots won’t allow him to help NYY
        2. Ellsbury creates trade chips like Szczur/Ha, etc.
        3. Garza salary matches Youk
        4. Youk a FA after 2012
        5. BOS has 3B prospects ready for MLB
        6. Ellsbury/Byrd salaries close after Arb
        7. A. Wilson ready as a 4th/5th starter
        8. Ranaudo still a project with upside
        9. Luxury tax considered

        BOS wants to move Youk, and is not expected to trip the 2013 option of $14M on Youk, so he is gone anyway.

        BOS was to relegate Wilson to the pen in 2012 if they got a frontline pitcher(Garza).

        Ellsbury enters Arb, and BOS is considering an unload before a huge 2014 payday when he gets near 30 years old. They have Bryce Brentz ready for a corner OF position either late 2012, and for sure 2013 as a starter. Wouldn’t surprise me if Coco agreed with BOS to play CF and Byrd to RF, as a plug leading to Brentz.

        This deal with no other provides this draft of a lineup:

        RF DeJesus
        SS Castro
        CF Ellsbury
        3B Youk
        1B LaHair
        LF Soriano
        C Soto, et al
        2B Barney/Bianchi, et al

        Zambrano
        Dempster
        Wells
        Samardj
        Wilson

        or any other SP out of ST

         

        • daverj

          Love that deal from the Cubs perspective.  Don’t like it at all from the Red Sox perspective.

          • Anthony

            depends what upper level prospect we send?

          • daverj

            Even if we sent B Jackson, I don’t like it from Red Sox perspective.

        • Agustinrexach

          Seriously you think!?!?

  • jescor

    Cubs brass want to build up depth of quality starting pitching at the major league & high minors levels yet do not seem to be able to match up with AL teams – NY, Toronto, Boston etc. I would suggest 
    they talk with the D-Backs on Garza. Offer Garza, Carpenter, & Golden for LHP Skaggs, RHP Brewer, & 3B Borchering.
    Offer SS Lake,LHP Russell to Padres for Rizzo. Offer Soto & Campana to Pirates for Grossman. Here is the future 2013 /2014 lineup :
    Grossman CF -S
    Torreyes 2B – R
    Castro SS – R
    Rizzo 1B- L
    Castillo C – R
    Borchering 3B – S
    Soler LF – L
    Jackson RF – L
    Bench : Clevenger – C , Szczur – OF, Sappelt – OF, Vitters 1B/3B, Barney 2B/SS
    SP – Cain – R (FA Sign) Skaggs – L, Maples- R, Wood – L, Brewer – R
    B- Pen – Beliveau – L, Maine – L, Kirk – L, McNutt – R, Dolis – R, Kurcz
    R , Samardzija – R
    D-Backs are loaded with QUALITY 1B & 3B thru their system Garza would give them best starting 5 in the NL. .

  • Tony_Hall

    I agree with Aaron on Crisp, as soon as I read that, I was thinking the same thing.  The rumors on him all died down awhile ago, and with his agent saying that, makes you believe he agreed with the Cubs but they are waiting on announcing it, or even leaking it, until they unload at least one of Byrd or Soriano.   We may be waiting awhile.  I posted awhile back that he was nothing more than a 4th/5th OF, and maybe they like him better than Byrd, once Brett Jackson comes up.

  • Tony_Hall

    Will Garza be traded or will he stay?

    There are 4 scenarios here, 2 good, 2 bad.

    1) He gets traded, and we get the huge return it has been rumored we have been asking for in return….Good for the future.  

    2) He doesn’t get traded, because no one believes 2 years of Garza is worth the huge return, but he signs an extension covering the next 4-5 years…Good, now and in the future, if the price is right.

    3) No one will give us what we want in prospects, Garza won’t sign an extension, and we accept a lesser trade, to get something. BAD

    4) . He doesn’t get traded, because no one believes 2 years of Garza is worth the huge return, and he won’t sign an extension, and he leaves at the end of 2013.  BAD.

    I vote for #1, but hope they can work out an extension (#2).  Even with an extension, he could still be traded (baring a NTC), but at least we eliminate the risk of losing him for minimal compensation, which would make the trade for him all the worse.  The only way the trade to receive Garza, ends up good, is #1 or #2.

  • Tony_Hall

    41…61…93

    Neil, that’s like torturing us, with how long it is before we get to see baseball…

    But, it also shows that their is still a lot of time in this Hot Stove season, and a lot of maneuvering still left to happen for all teams.  

    There are still 128 players still available on the Free Agent market, while only 65 have signed contracts.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Ken Rosenthal:

    Made point in Prince column that opt-out might be best for player and team. Exec objected, saying opt-out only benefits player. Exec’s point is that club assumes all risk. If player performs, he’s gone. If player fails or is injured, he won’t opt out. In any case, many in industry believe that Boras wants opt-out for
    Prince. From their perspective, makes all the sense in the world.

    • jw

      Opt out is generally assumed to be bad but it would also have the effect of motivating the player to perform well during the fixed part of the contract. At 25mm the liklihood of an opt out is smaller also. There is still some disadvantage to the team so some concession would have to be made by player’s agent imo.

  • Anthony

    Just say NO…………..to CO CO

    • GaryLeeT

      I would be shocked if they signed Crisp. I mean, why sign a new contract with an aging vet to replace an aging vet, with an expiring contract? I guess you get a base stealing lead-off hitter for a couple of years, but it still would look like Titanic deck chair shuffling to me.

  • daverj

    I’m beginning to think Garza remains a Cub for now and the shop him again in July.  If the Yanks won’t include Montero plus one Betances and Banuelos and the Jays won’t include a few of their Top 10 prospects, there is no deal here.  If the Jays are within striking distance in July, they may change their minds.  

    • cc002600

      You know, call me crazy, but if the cubs opened up the checkbook a little bit and signed Prince and Edwin Jackson, and kept Garza, they could easily contend in 2012 in that division.

      I’m all for a rebuild, but why do we have to sit around and watch 70 win teams for the next 4-5 years until some of these kids from A ball develop ?  The cubs have dough, and plenty of it…..they are big market team, spend it !!!!

      • daverj

        Yes, they could contend for the division (if everything went well) for a few years with that plan, but they most likely would not contend for a World Series.  The problem is it sets up another set of bad contracts for 2015 and thereafter and puts the team in the position the team is currently in (with Fielder and Jackson being like Soriano and Zambrano contract wise).

        Of course, I’m assuming it costs $200+ mil and 8+ years to sign Fielder and $60+ million over 5+ years to sign Jackson.  That seems to be the current asking price if the Cubs want to sign Fielder and Jackson now.

        If their demands go down significantly, the equation changes and I think there’s a good chance one or both of them ends up with the Cubs.  I’d venture to guess that Epstein has already made offers to both Fielder and Jackson.  Maybe 5-6 years at $25 mil per year  for Prince and 3 years at $12 mil per year for Jackson.

        • GaryLeeT

          I agree with only signing those guys at those prices over the term you suggested. Still, it would be nice have a contending team while waiting for the long range plan to kick in. I worry that if the Cubs sink too low, they will have a hard time luring in future FAs or trades with players that have veto rights.

        • paulcatanese

          Confusion here, how can a team  contend for a World Series without getting to the playoffs first?

          It seems to me that holds true for every team.
          If a team is continualy in or near the playoffs first and foremost, they would have the best chance to get to the Series.

          If every win is precious to Theo, then he should practice what he preaches.

          If Theo gives this year up,(as apparantly he has) that could backfire and the Cubs could be  at the middle or the bottom of the division for the next several years.

          Doing it the way he is will cost the Cubs dearly in the future, whether it be for top line players or in attendence.

          Its one thing to re-build and another to provide a franchise for injured or bottom of career numbers, that gets you nowhere.

          As soon as Boston runs out of players what does Theo do? And if Boston can’t win with the guys they are willing to pawn off on the Cubs, how does Theo expect to win with them here

          At this point, not my cup of tea. I expected more.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Paul, 
            Who said Theo is giving up on this year? He went out and got us Ian Stewart, didn’t he?

          • paulcatanese

            Yeah Rip, thats a gem.

          • Coolpdxcubsfan

            Come on you guys, we haven’t given up, why just last week we got another suit.

          • Dorasaga

            “how can a team  contend for a World Series without getting to the playoffs first?”

            Exactly. The problem here is we don’t know what’s the “asking price” for Garza et al. Hoyer & Co. are unpredictable, to borrow Aaron’s thunder.

            Any move can happen. The point here is: They need to move those old veterans by Opening Day and rebuild with these new faces. Period.

      • daverj

        In addition to my other response, I’d ask you this question … would you be willing to offer Prince $200 million over 8 years and Jackson $60 million over 5 years?

        • Brp921

          You didn’t ask me but I would say no to eight years @ 200 mil especially with an opt out clause. I would really consider Jackson for five years @ 60 mil though. I think his best years are ahead of him and twelve million a year is not that much in todays market for a fifteen game plus winner. (Assuming that he can be that of course).

          • John_CC

            Edwin Jackson is far too inconsistent to earn a 5 year deal. No thank you.

        • cc002600

          On Prince, no.  I would only go 6 years. MAYBE 7.  no more……if you can’t get him for that, then I would pass.

          On
          Edwin Jackson, it seems like a lot of money, but that’s what good young
          starting pitchers are going to cost you, so yes, I would be willing to
          do that…..would prefer 4 years, but if it takes 5 years, I would do
          it.

          And don’t forget, after 2012, except for Soriano’s
          contract, the cubs are completely free and clear of bad money on the
          books.  AND will only have 2 years remaining for Soriano.

          So to add EJax and Prince should not tie them up again with no financial flexibility.

          Let me ask you this.  Are you willing to watch 70 win teams for the next 5 to 6 years ?

          People are so hungry for a total rebuild, but I really think that most people are being blinded at what that really means. 

          Step
          back and think about this for a second.  If your BEST players are at A
          ball or below, its going to take 4 years or so for them to JUST reach
          the majors…..and THEN, you are going to need another 2 or 3 years or
          so for them to develop into good players at MLB level.  And there’s no
          guarantee that they will turn out good.

          I’m all for developing
          young players, but to not spend money in the meantime to try and win
          over the next few years, makes no sense to me.   Are you willing to wait
          6 or 7 years before they contend again ???   They have the money
          available now.  They are a big market team, not Kansas City. 

          All
          I’m saying is that you could do both now. (try and win now and build
          for 2014-2015)  After 2012, they will have tons of financial
          flexibilty….

          • GaryLeeT

             Jackson’s price might seem high, until you compare his salary, and numbers, to Dumpster & Zambrano’s. Then he looks like a bargain.

    • Brp921

      I agree

  • Anthony

    Lets take a trip down memory lane, if you please.

    “We’re going to build the best baseball operation we can. We’re going to change the culture. Our players are going to change the culture along with us in the major league clubhouse. We’re going to make building a foundation for sustained success a priority”

    “We won’t rest until there is a steady stream of talent” going to Wrigley Field from the minors.

    “We’re going to have to grind our way to the top,”

    “Every opportunity to win is sacred,” Epstein said. “It’s sacred to us inside the organization and it should be sacred to the fans as well. They deserve our best efforts to do what we can to improve the club, and put the club in position to succeed in any given season.”

    “The key is to pay for future performance, not past performance,” he said.

    ————–OK

    Now we can interpret what he said.

    Well, he already hired enough suits, analysts, video-based scouts in building the best baseball Ops.

    Change the culture. Not sure what this means, but when men get paid lottery winnings to play a game, the term “selfish” comes to mind, and winning is a consolation prize to some players of this type. They say when times are tough(Boston collapse), leaders emerge and overcoming the adversity is a sign of character??

    I guess Zambrano is OUT!

    Sustained success=Develop prospects, out with the old, in with the new, and it is happening already with minor league attrition, etc, and expect more aging and stuck AAA/AA guys sent packing.

    Grind their way to the top has a flavor of rebuilding, but he contradicts himself saying every opportunity is sacred, in other words, not throwing away 2012.

    Me thinks lots of the frsutration comes from trying to do two separate things at the same time, referring back to how he explained the parallel systems of the big club and the Farm. Improve one without hurting the other, and vice-versa.

    He will pay for future performance, not past performance. So far, his speculation signings of Stewart, Bianchi confirm that on a lower level as they are cheap players who he expects much more from.

    How this relates to Fielder? Who knows!

    His quotes appear to hold a “keep Garza” feel, but as his only trading chip, Theo needs ML return for future performance, as Garza will deliver, and that has an Ellsbury ring to it.

    What say you.

  • Aaron

    I know most on here are not Bears fans….but did everyone see the news?

    Could the Bears be following the Cubs’ blueprint with revamping the front office and coaching staff?

    I happen to think so. Angel got a pass for far too long…making the playoffs 1 more time than Hendry and ultimately reaching the championship game…all in the same timeframe as Hendry. The main similarity between the two is they lived off “coming this close” to a championship…but in the nonplayoff years their teams were downright dreadful to watch. Ironically, both had teams that collapsed down the stretch to ruin playoff hopes (Cubs in 2004 and Bears this year)…both want after injury prone players and got burned and both relied heavily on free agents to revamp rosters and failed miserably. Additionally, both signed or extended major character risk types and got burned….

    Similarities are there and I have long contended both franchises seem to mirror each other. Here’s hoping both figure it all out and commit to building sustained success.

    Why are other teams in both sports able to build sustained success in both big and small markets and the Cubs and Bears cannot replicate it?

    • Scott McMeekan

      Aaron, Bears fan here.  Couldn’t agree more, and I thought the same thing when I heard it on ESPN.  Although the McCaskey’s are no Rickett Family.  But they’re not stupid, either.  

      We will find out how serious they are by their next move, hiring a GM.  In some ways I’m thinkinging they’re acting like the Tribune Co. a bit, only because they’ve already hamstrung the new GM by saying Lovie is staying.  

      Dunno, let’s see how it plays out.

      To keep this at least somewhat Cubs-related, did you see the tweet from Rosenthal regarding Crisp being close to staying in  Oakland?

      • Scott McMeekan

        Sorry, guess that was Bowden with the tweet.

      • Aaron

        I don’t want to talk too much about this given this site is about baseball, but I have a huge problem with retaining Smith…I equate that to forcing Theo to retain Quade

        …Quade never ever learned from his mistakes and Lovie is exactly the same way…running out Rivera was a huge mistake to taking over play-calling duties himself to not fixing the safety position when he actually was a defensive backs coach himself to not figuring out that Cover-2 does NOT f#%&*ng work at the end of close games….yet even after the 16 seconds or whatever it was debacle in Atlanta a few years ago and the embarrassing defeat at Denver this year where teams have learned to just dink and dunk against Cover-2 late in games….he just never learns.

        I long for the day when both the Cubs and Bears have smart coaching….I think Sveum was a huge move in that direction….Bears….you are on the clock….

        • woody34

          I’m sure the new GM coming in will want his own coach ala Theo Hoyer.  Hopefully, whomever comes in and takes over will bring in a Gruden/Cowher type 

    • daverj

      Fortunately for the Bears (and unfortunately for the Cubs), it is much easier to turn a franchise around quickly in the NFL than MLB.  With the right moves, the Bears could be a Super Bowl contender in 1-2 years.

      • Joshua Toulouse

        Honestly, though, had Jay not gotten hurt this season (on a freak accident, not because he’s “injury prone”), da Bears would have had a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl THIS season!

        Granted, like in Indy, the utter collapse of the team after the QB injury shows a depth issue, but after the NFC Championship game last year, can anyone truly say they thought Caleb couldn’t preform? I believed in him going into that stretch. I don’t blame the front office for thinking he was a legitimate number two. Remember after the NFC Championship game there was talk about some teams trading for Caleb to be their starter.

        In order to bring it back to baseball, maybe they should have moved Caleb then, selling high in the Theo Epstein way.

        • Tom U

          Following the NFL draft for the past 35 years, there are three factors involved with the depth issue, especially at quarterback.

          1. The Union – through collective bargaining, the union has whittled down the amount of practice time teams can have. Because of this, taking a couple of years to develop a player is right out the window.

          2. Ownership – like in practically all sports, ownership in the NFL tends to be knee-jerk. If a coach doesn’t give a starting quarterback 90%+ of the practice time, and the team loses, he may not have a job for long. Most owners are impatient with long term plans.

          3. Colleges – for those who have been around, the college football scene now is very similar to that in the late 60’s and 1970’s, just the style is different. Back then, teams relied on the wishbone offense. Today, it’s the spread. Either way, they’re both systems based on maximizing athletic ability, and sacrificing player development over “winning now”.

          Add to that the madding trend in all of sports to keep on signing players your fans may “know” rather than developing your own stars.

          • Ripsnorter1

            The Packers successfully develop quarterbacks all the time: Favre, Rodgers, and now, Flynn.

            Why can’t the Bears do it?

          • Tom U

            First, don’t put Flynn in the Hall of Fame just yet.

            Secondly, Aaron Rogers was the rated the seventh best player in the 2005 NFL draft according to well noted expert Mel Kiper. The Packers were fortunate to have fall to them.

            Lastly, QB’s such as Favre, Brunell, Warner, Aaron Brooks, etc were developed under a CBA negotiated nearly 20 years ago. The conditions of the latest agreement doesn’t allow the same practice provisions that used to be in place.

      • paulcatanese

        Ironic, the Bears and the Cubs equaly share the central,which happens to be the easiest.

  • cc002600

    On Prince, no.  I would only go 6 years. MAYBE 7.  no more……if you can’t get him for that, then I would pass.

    On Edwin Jackson, it seems like a lot of money, but that’s what good young starting pitchers are going to cost you, so yes, I would be willing to do that…..would prefer 4 years, but if it takes 5 years, I would do it.

    And don’t forget, after 2012, except for Soriano’s contract, the cubs are completely free and clear of bad money on the books.  AND will only have 2 years remaining for Soriano.

    So to add EJax and Prince should not tie them up again with no financial flexibility.

    Let me ask you this.  Are you willing to watch 70 win teams for the next 5 to 6 years ?

    People are so hungry for a total rebuild, but I really think that most people are being blinded at what that really means. 

    Step back and think about this for a second.  If your BEST players are at A ball or below, its going to take 4 years or so for them to JUST reach the majors…..and THEN, you are going to need another 2 or 3 years or so for them to develop into good players at MLB level.  And there’s no guarantee that they will turn out good.

    I’m all for developing young players, but to not spend money in the meantime to try and win over the next few years, makes no sense to me.   Are you willing to wait 6 or 7 years before they contend again ???   They have the money available now.  They are a big market team, not Kansas City. 

    All I’m saying is that you could do both now. (try and win now and build for 2014-2015)  After 2012, they will have tons of financial flexibilty….

    • Dorasaga

      Daverj says above, would you “offer Prince $200 million over 8 years and Jackson $60 million over 5 years?”

      That’s their asking price. I don’t see the Cubs doing so. Let some other team pay that ransom. The Cubs will load its system with talents and trade for Fielder or Jackson when he only has 2-3 years left, while the Cubs is heading towards the World Series.

    • daverj

      Again, you are assuming that Prince will sign for less than the current asking price.  It’s possible, but also possible that a team will give him close to his asking price.

      I’ve been a Cub fan since the mid-70’s so I realize that I have not been “a long suffering fan” for as long as some of the other posters on here … I’m guessing I’m probably somewhere in the middle in terms of “length of time as a Cub fan”.

      I’d be fine with the team winning 65-75 games for the next few years if it meant bringing a consistently winning product on the fielder for years thereafter.  I don’t think it will be 6-7 years before the Cubs contend again.  Some of the young talent could be traded in 2-3 year for quality players so it’s not always a question of waiting until all the young talent matures.  Hopefully some players from the 2011 draft will be able to contribute in a few years and I expect Epstein to be more aggressive for free agent in a year or two as that young talent gets closer to contributing.

      I think Epstein’s plan could turn the Cubs into a division title contender by 2015 and an annual World Series contender by 2017.  Do you think I’m being blinded and unrealistic with those expectations?

      • cc002600

        No, I think what you said is realistic, and I agree.

        You are mostly agreeing with me.  you said 2017 would be when they could be WS contender, which is 6 years from now.

        if you are willing to wait, more power to you, but I think that’s a very, very long time to wait without trying to win in the near term.

        It’s one thing to SAY you are willing to wait, its another to actually sit there and watch that for 6 straight years. Easier said than done. 6 years is a looooooong time.

        And let’s not forget. Just because you acquire young players does NOT guarantee you they will be good in 3 to 5 years. We don’t have to be reminded of all the minor league busts we have had over the years.  The list is VERY long. 

        • daverj

          6 years is nothing compared to 103 years … whatever they’ve been doing, it needed to change.

          Yes, the list of Cubs prospect busts is long … I’m counting on the new regime to change that.

          • cc002600

            well, yea 103 years is a long time, but I wasn’t born in 1908.  I have suffered since about 1970. Long time, but I think its silly to not even try to win for the next 6 years, while waiting for kids to develop.

            And yes, I have confidence in Theo & Jed too, just like everyone else does, but, but, but, we also had “confidence” in Dallas Green…..and Andy McFail…..and Hendry……but guess what ?

            we’re still waiting.

            NOTHING is guaranteed.

          • GaryLeeT

             6 years being “nothing” is subjective, and it depends on how old you are.

          • daverj

            I agree that it’s subjective.  In my opinion 6 years is not a long time to wait given the current state of the organization and the downside risk of signing more Soriano type contracts.  I’d rather wait 6 years and really have something than start over again in 10 years after we make another round of bad long term signings.

            I also qualified my statements in an earlier post by saying I’ve only been a die hard Cub fan since the mid-70’s and I realize many on here have been waiting much longer.

            But based on various posts, I’m not sure you and I are too far off in our views on what the Cubs should do. Our opinions differ in what we think the free agents will really sign for. That question will be answered in the next month.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Carlos Silva signed with the Red Sox

    • cubtex

      Great Buy Low sign! :)

  • Anthony

    Back to the thoughts from my post below containing Theo’s quotes, “every opportunity to win is sacred”

    I don’t think this mans ego will allow him to not try and be competitive right out of the gate, and he has some built-in excuses if 2012 is a failure.(Soriano and Zambrano).

    There are transactions on the horizon to make the big club competitive in 2012, even if it means taking a flyer on an arm like Oswalt, signing the other FA starters, or a huge trade for MLB players.

    I mentioned that in a rebuild, Garza’s wins mean little for the Cubs and are valuable to a contender, but, to get MLB ready pieces, he has the only value unless something could be had from Jackson, McNutt, Szczur, and other top 10 prospects.

    Garza is entering his prime. The main question is this. Do you want him in the rotation in years 3-4-5 when the rebuild may be completed?

    To trade him now, and remain competitive in 2012, your return MUST include veteran position players, and his replacement, hence I keep saying Boston.

    To trade him and forego “precious opportunities to win” for top-flight prospects, you are backpedalling from your original statement.

    Soriano will be the LF in 2012.

    BOS has a replacement ready for Youkilis.
    BOS has a 5th starter in Alex Wilson available.
    BOS is rumored to be dangling Ellsbury(for a 1-2 SP)
    BOS competes directly with NYY

    Jackson will be a corner OF, not a CF
    Szczur is a couple/few years away, if at all.
    Byrd is not in the future plans
    DeJesus is a plug-in soon to be relegated to the reserve role

    Theo is hellbent on being strong up the middle. Think Torreyes type as one of those, and Castro will get his chance to get better while theo combs the INTL players looking for the next Omar. Short-leash!

    Fielder is NOT the 1st domino, Theo is, and it revolves around what he and Garza are going to do. A sign and trade is not out of the question.

    The Red Sox will not trip the Youk 14M option for 2013, he is gone, so he is lame-duck.

    You want your protection for Prince Fielder, even though the current Nationals players are much more attractive as far as winning a WS? Do you think a huge part of where Fielder signs has to do with an immediate chance at winning his ring? Strasburg, Gio G, Werth, Zim, soon Harper, the Nats are “all in”, and Stewart, Barney, Byrd, and DeJesus ain’t gonna cut it as a lure to sign with ChiC.

    Ellsbury, Youk, Wilson, toss in Ranaudo and you have a lineup that looks more competitive rather than trading Garza for speculation with the other clubs.

    Would this make you happy:

    CF Ellsbury
    SS Castro
    3B Youkilis
    1B Fielder
    LF Soriano
    C Soto
    RF Jackson/DeJesus
    2B——-to be determined(another trade perhaps)

    Zambrano-ride the horse to the deadline(poss trade)
    Dempster
    Oswalt
    Wilson

    5/6 starters out of ST, our farm guys or Samardj

    Can you name any other teams that can return MLB ready experienced contributors for Garza?

    • woody34

      The Angels – Mark Trumbo or Kendry Morales

      • Anthony

        that would peeees off nolan ryan…………lol

  • cubtex

    The thing that I have a hard time understanding….and I also see other people comment on this matter as well…..the Cubs can rebuild and also spend money. Many on here think that this has to be done the Oakland A’s way. They have to do it that way….they don’t have the money!
    The Cubs are a major market team. Why should Cubs fans have to settle for a mediocre product and low budget spending for a year?
    I hear on the radio the other day that the Cubs currently only have 30 something million commited in salary for 2013.
    I am tired of hearing this buy low talk everytime the Cubs aquire a mediocre player. So…you buy low on DeJesus at 2 years for 10 mil! Big Deal! There is a reason they aquired him for that much….No team was willing to give him more! Ian Stewart was on the verge of being released  and now he is our starting 3rd baseman. I have been waiting patiently for some ray of hope that the Cubs are moving in the right direction but I still don’t see it! If they can get some top prospects for Garza quickly and aquire a 1st baseman…I might change my tune….but right now we are a little over a month before pitchers and catchers report….Something needs to happen soon!

    • cc002600

      I could not agree more. See my post above.

      I’m all for rebuilding, but there is no reason why they can’t be trying to win while rebuilding.

      They have tons of dough waiting to be spent.

      Since when did we turn into a small market team ???

      guys like Fielder and E Jackson are not old. They are 27 – 28 years old.  There is no reason in the world why the cubs shouldn’t be going after them, within reason.

      • cubtex

        Let’s see what happens. I am still waiting for Theo to do something big and show that they still want to win and be competitive.

      • daverj

        “Within reason” is the big caveat.  The most recent news on Jackson is that he is looking for $15-$17 mil per year.  I believe Epstein has made offers on a number of big free agents … just not giving them the numbers they are seeking.

    • Rdc51143

      I think anything worse than a .500 season would be a disaster for Theo and his hires . The team as constructed now is a 100+ loss team. Much more needs to be done to bring this team to a .500 team and it better be done fast before the Cubs Convention or Theo and his Merry men will hear it from the fans ( and so will Ricketts ). They all know this too.
      100

    • Spoda17

      cubtex, I understand your post, but this is why we don’t sign high priced free agents now. We need an entirely new team. Can’t buy an entire team. We will not win more than .500 next year, so why would spen millions of dollars just to win 80 games instead of 70.

      It’s like spending a ton of money on really nice rims and tires for your car that doesn’t run; even if you can afford the rims. Get the car running, then put the nice rims on it. It just doesn’t make good business sense to throw good money after bad. I know it is a hard pill to swallow, but our entire system is way off, and it will take time to rebuild. We have to go through some pain to make it to the promise land.

      • cubtex

        You can rebuild with better options than what Theo has been fielding so far. You can still rebuild and be more competive and if the team overperforms and has a chance by all star break you can pick up a player thru trade and make a run at playoffs.

  • Anonymous47701

    Possible 2012 Lineup Solution

    D.DeJesus-RF
    S.Castro-SS
    B.Jackson-LF
    B.LaHair-1B
    Y.Cespedes-CF
    I.Stewart-3B
    D.Barney-2B
    G.Soto-C
    Pitcher

    bench

    C.Jackson-1B/LF
    J.Bianchi-IF
    W.Castillo-C
    T.Campana-OF
    R.Johnson-OF

    • Anthony

      you forgot Soriano, and Centepede feasts on INTL pitching, like the Dutch and Sri Lankan squads……….lol

      ran into a US pitcher named Garret Cole……lol ouch

      • Anonymous47701

        I didn’t forget Soriano; I just didn’t put him the lineup, because he would have been traded or released, despite the hefty contract.

        • Anthony

          don’t count on it

  • cubtex

    Yankees don’t think they can get Garza so they are turning attention to Edwin Jackson. Blue Jays are out. The market is thinning. I hope the Tigers decide to go for it and give the Cubs what they are asking because the Marlins don’t have any young pitching to part with.

  • daverj

    This is unrelated to any current topics of discussion, but I really hope anyone in the organization that advocated drafting Hayden Simpson in the first round is no longer with the team.  I was looking at a list of Cubs draft picks and he may be the worst pick we’ve ever had (and there have been many bad picks) … mostly because it was obviously a bad pick at the time made (while bust picks like Ty Griffin, Earl Cunningham, Lance Dickson and others at least made some sense at the time of the draft).

    • Anthony

      bet he is damaged

    • cubtex

      Any first round pick that never sniffs a major league ballpark and you can’t trade is just as much a bust as Simpson. What is the difference?

      • daverj

        The difference is that if you draft 5 guys with a 20% chance to make, 1 will probably make it.  If you draft 5 guys with a 5% chance to make it, then none will probably make it.  You need to maximize the chances each draft pick will make it.  I don’t want the guys that advocated for Simpson involved in our future picks.

      • cubtex

        Mark Pawelek never got out of A ball in 5 seasons with the Cubs. They have had a lot of busts unfortunately. Let’s hope Simpson shows a little promise this year

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Kaplan: Two sources tell me that price on Garza is tremendously high and interested parties are seeing how high someone is willing to go. Cubs could get more back in a deal than they gave up last winter to acquire him from Tampa Bay.

    • cubtex

      I hope they get back a lot more because they didn’t give up much to get him!

      • cubtex

        I know I have said this alot…but you see the price of top starting pitching this offseason. When and if you can get it…you have to pay dearly. The Cubs gave up only 1 pitcher in the deal to aquire Garza(who most scouts believe will be a bullpen guy because of his lack of command) and the rest of the players are role guys with the possible exception of Lee who still hasn’t hit above .200 in AA.
        They should no doubt get a much bigger return this offseason in a deal.

  • Anthony

    So who we have, and what is really needed.

    Assume no Garza trade:

    1. Garza
    2. Dempster(eat the innings)
    3. Zambrano(ride the horse for poss trade later)

    4/5 are where it gets interesting

    Are they currently stretching out Samardj?
    Does a rookie win a spot out of ST?
    Do they sign a FA SP?

    The 3 listed above are the only 3 I would parade out there every 5th game in rotation.

    Pretty soon, ALL 3 are gone unless you extend Garza

    So when rebuilding, the SP is probably more an issue than plugging in position players. Me thinks that will come from 2013 FA more than anywhere else, and it will cost some major dollars.

    This is why Theo signed speculation players like Bianchi and Stewart for 2012. If they blossom, less of a headache replacing, and if they fail, you have to buy more FA’s unless you/they are ready to accept giving rookies a chance.

    The rookies next in line are Jackson and Vitters.

    Theo may be thinking, OK Bianchi, you and Barney bridge that gap to Torreyes. Does Vitters move to LF to eventually replace Soriano. Does LaHair bridge the gap to a Votto, or a developing Rizzo?

    What a balancing act, ain’t it?

    Fielder belongs in Washington. Their window is NOW.

    And if Stewart fails, look for a FA 2013 signing of Youk for 3B.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Buster Olney: Coco Crisp is signing with
    Oakland, for a $6m salary in 2012, a $7m salary in ’13, a club option of
    $7.5m for ’14, with a $1 m. buyout.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs announced Reed Johnson has re-signed, one-year Major League contract

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to the Trib, Reed Johnson will be paid $1.15M next season

    • Anthony

      anyone want to read the tea leaves?

      • Skeldor

        Not sure how Reed Johnson fits into the plans for this team.  He doesn’t seem to fit the criteria that Theo outlined when he was hired. 

        • Anthony

          Soriano
          Sappelt
          Byrd
          Reed
          Campana
          DeJesus

          1. park Campana in AAA
          2. trade Byrd

          this is all we have to go on right now

          Byrd traded, Sappelt starts in CF

          If that is the 2012 plan, then,

          1B LaHair
          2B Barney/Bianchi
          3B Stewart
          SS Castro
          LF Soriano
          CF Sappelt
          RF DeJesus
          C Soto

          how excited are you at this juncture?

          and their replacements?

          1B Ridling
          2B Torreyes
          3B Castro
          SS any IFA Theo falls in love with
          LF Soriano
          CF Szczur
          RF Jackson
          C   Whoever is next?

          now how happy are you?

  • paulcatanese

    Wow Crisp signing again with A’s for 13 mil for two years. Boy did we miss a bargin. Thank you A’s. Available in two years, may be the right age then.

    • Anthony

      paul, how bad do you miss pre-expansion and pre-reserve clause?

      and the days the players visited your local little league fields.

  • Anthony

    Any positive comments on these pitchers in the system?

    Robert Whitenack,Marco Carrillo,Casey Coleman,Chris Rusin,Rafael Dolis,Robert Coello,Chris Rusin,Ramon Ortiz,Nicholas Struck,Austin Bibens-Dirkx,Dallas Beeler,Ryan Searle,Jay Jackson,Brooks Raley,Hung-Wen Chen,Alberto Cabrera,Trey McNutt,J.R. Mathes,Thomas Diamond

    • Tom U

      Whitenack – was developing into a front of the rotation starter prior to last year’s injury. Now, it’s wait and see.

      Carrillo – not a pitcher that stands out in any way, but winning teams usually have someone like him on their staff.

      Coleman – doesn’t have great stuff, needs to throw strikes

      Rusin – rose pretty quickly through the system and been consistent. Has a deceptive motion.

      Dolis – his production has yet to live up to his tools and hype

      Struck – a fast riser that may need to take a breath at Triple-A before making the next step. 

      Bibens-Dirkx – a “boom or bust” type that may never be a consistent member of a major league staff. However, if spotted right, is more than capable of producing a Ryan O’Malley-type performance.

      Beeler – hard luck pitcher may have the best control in the system.

      Searle – a future innings-eater that became a rock in Tennessee’s rotation down the stretch.

      Jackson – has major league stuff but way too inconsistent.

      Raley – more of a crafty lefty. Serves up too many gopher-balls.

      Chen – making the transition to the pen. Now seems injury prone.

      Cabrera – perhaps one of the most over-hyped pitchers in the system next to Dolis and Hayden Simpson. Will Dillon Maples be joining them?

      McNutt – has the make-up and stuff to be a front-end starter. Needs to shake the injury bug.

      Coello, Ortiz, Mathes, and Diamond are no longer with the organization.

      • Anthony

        thanks Tom, not something to hang your baseball hat/cap on

        Theo goes shopping

  • Anthony

    Why would you trade a young, controllable, nice WHIP pitcher for Garza?

    You wouldn’t, so count Detroit out. I would rather toss Turner out there than Garza. Toronto and NYY appear OUT.

    Geez, kinda leaves BOS as the front-runner?

    • cubtex

      Garza would clearly make Detroit a prohibitive favorite to win the Central. You need to make a move to go for it when you have the opportunity.

      • Anthony

        I stick with Turner, differing opinions

        By the way, will Rubi Silva make the big club, just another $1M ham and pickle sandwich that was signed, then let the Cubs give $50M to a bigger ham and pickle Centipede who beat up on Sri Lanka pitching, as well as the Dutch, then another $20M to the next Griffey, named Soler, MLB ready at age 19.

        What a stud!

  • Anthony

    Any chance Theo signs Marla Hooch for cheap?

    Whata Hitter!