A Look Back at the Cubs Off-Season as Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training

Doesn’t it seem like a lot longer than just 144 days since Jed Hoyer’s San Diego Padres beat the Chicago Cubs 9-2? Ryan Dempster took the loss on the final day of the 2011 season. Starlin Castro ran his hitting streak to 11 games in the loss and reached base for the 40th game in a row.

The past four and a half months have been anything but boring for the Chicago Cubs. The hiring of Theo Epstein and then Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod continue to make headlines and will well into the season.

The Cubs’ new regime not only changed the team’s manager and a majority of the coaching staff but they also said goodbye to a few long-time Cubs and welcomed several new faces as they attempt to build an organization with sustained success.

With the seemingly daily changes and roster moves, not to mention all of the rumors and Ron Santo finally being voted into the Hall of Fame, this past off-season will not soon be forgotten.

So with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Fitch Park today, let’s take a look back at the off-season from the archives of the CCO …

Click on the Red Hyperlinks to Read the Original Reports from the CCO


September 28 – Happy Trails – Cubs 2 Padres 9
Ryan Dempster lost the final game of the 2011 season in what turned out to be Aramis Ramirez’s last game as a Cub. Starlin Castro went 1-for-3 and extended his hit streak to 11 games and reached base for the 40th game in a row. Steve Clevenger collected his first big league hit in Mike Quade’s last game as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.

September 29 – From the Wire … Cubs Designate Berg and Schlitter for Assignment, Reinstate Zambrano
On the first day of the off-season, the Randy Bush led Chicago Cubs made three roster moves. Justin Berg and Brian Schlitter were designated for assignment and Carlos Zambrano was reinstated from the disqualified list.


October 2 – Guillen Has Reached Out to Zambrano
Ozzie Guillen reached out to Carlos Zambrano about him pitching for the Miami Marlins in 2012. The move would not happen until January 4.

October 3 – Epstein to the Cubs Rumors Heating Up
What appeared to be a meaningless report from Joel Sherman at the time was the first sign that Theo Epstein could leave the Red Sox to take a job with the Chicago Cubs.

October 4 – Cubs Ask Red Sox for Permission to Speak with Theo Epstein
Reports surfaced that Tom Ricketts had formally asked the Red Sox for permission to talk to Epstein about the general manager opening with the Cubs.

October 9 – Cubs Receive Permission to Speak with Epstein?
The CCO confirmed on October 9 that the Cubs had received permission to speak with Theo Epstein about taking a job in the Cubs’ front office.

October 11 – Epstein Close to Joining the Cubs’ Front Office?
Reports out of Boston suggested Theo Epstein could be leaving the Red Sox in 24-48 hours to take a job with the Cubs.

October 14 – Negotiating for Theo
The negotiations over compensation for Theo Epstein between the Sox and Cubs began. Reports suggested at the time that Epstein had already agreed to terms on a contract with the Cubs … and a list of players were turned over to evaluate as possible compensation for Epstein.

October 15 – Cubs and Sox Making Progress on Compensation Talks
Just days before the first pitch of the 2011 World Series, the Cubs and Sox were reportedly making progress on the right compensation for Theo Epstein.

October 19 – President Epstein? … and Cubs Front Office Rumors
After hearing that Theo Epstein could be more than general manager of the Chicago Cubs, the mainstream media finally broke the news that Theo Epstein would likely be named President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs and hire a GM.

October 20 – Deal Done with Sox for Epstein?
As Tom Ricketts inched closer to bringing in Theo Epstein, news surfaced that once Epstein was hired to run the Cubs he would bring in Jed Hoyer to serve as the Cubs’ general manager and would also hire Jason McLeod.

October 21 – From the Wire … Theo Epstein Take Over as Cubs President of Baseball Operations
Theo Epstein resigned from his position with the Red Sox and in a press release on a Friday night in October he quietly became the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. At the urging of Bud Selig, the two teams agreed that appropriate compensation would be paid to Boston at a later date in order to let Epstein out of the last year of his contract with the Red Sox.

October 22 – Team Epstein Taking Shape … Hoyer and McLeod Next Up for the Cubs
Before Theo Epstein was introduced as the President of the Cubs he requested and received permission from the Padres to interview his long-time friends, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, for positions in the Cubs’ new front office.

October 25 – The Start of the Epstein Era
Theo Epstein was introduced as the President of Baseball Operations … and talked about a Cubs Way and Sustained Success during his introductory press conference.

October 26 – From the Wire … Hoyer and McLeod Officially Join Cubs Front Office
Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod resigned their positions with the San Diego Padres and accepted positions with the Chicago Cubs. Hoyer was named Executive Vice President/General Manager and McLeod was named Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development. The Cubs agreed to send a player to be named later to the Padres as compensation for Hoyer and McLeod.

October 29 – From the Wire … Ryan Dempster Picks Up 2012 Option

October 30 – From the Wire … Aramis Ramirez Declines 2012 Mutual Option

October 31 – From the Wire … Cubs Decline 2012 Option on Jeff Samardzija, Expected to Re-Sign at a Reduced Salary
The Cubs declined the club option on Jeff Samardzija worth $3 million. The Cubs were expected to re-sign Samardzija at the time to a reduced rate … and of this writing, Samardzija’s salary for 2012 has not been made public.


November 1 – A Deadline, A Press Conference and More Decisions for Team Epstein
November 1 was the first deadline set by Bud Selig for the Cubs and Sox to settle the compensation issue. The deadline came and went but Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were formally introduced in an afternoon press conference.

November 2 – From the Wire … Mike Quade Out as Manager of the Chicago Cubs
Theo Epstein flew to Florida to let Mike Quade go … and the search for the Cubs’ new manager began immediately. One of the first names to surface was Dale Sveum.

November 2 – Sandberg Not a Candidate for the Cubs’ Managerial Position

November 3 – Team Epstein Begins Interviewing Managerial Candidates

November 5 – From the Wire … Cubs Tab Joe Bohringer as Pro Scouting Director
The Cubs added an important piece to the front office with the hiring of Joe Bohringer and at the same time took a little off Tim Wilken … and allowed Wilken to focus on amateur scouting.

November 14 – From the Wire … Cubs Add Shiraz Rehman as Assistant GM

November 15 – Zambrano Could Earn Way Back to the Cubs
Carlos Zambrano and his agent Barry Praver met with Theo Epstein and Randy Bush to discuss Zambrano’s future with the Chicago Cubs.

November 16 – Cubs Offer Managerial Position to Dale Sveum
Reports surfaced that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had offered Dale Sveum a job to become the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs.

November 17 – From the Wire … Dale Sveum Named Manager of the Cubs
On a Thursday night in November, the news Dale Sveum was hired to be the Cubs’ new manager surfaced. Sveum was introduced at the Cubs’ weekly press conference the next day … after he stopped to buy a sport coat on his way to Chicago from the GM Meetings in Milwaukee.

November 18 – Cubs 40-man Roster Moves … Vitters, Lake, Beliveau and Szczur Added to the Big League Roster
Jed Hoyer made his first roster moves in mid-November. Top prospects Josh Vitters, Jeff Beliveau, Junior Lake and Matt Szczur were added to the Cubs 40-man roster … and Esmailin Caridad, Kyle Smit and Luis Montanez were outrighted off the big league roster. At the time, the Cubs 40-man roster stood at 34.

November 20 – From the Wire … Sveum Retains Rudy Jaramillo

November 22 – Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects for 2012
The first list of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system was released with Brett Jackson named as the Cubs’ best prospect.

November 23 – Rounding Up the Cubs News, Notes and Rumors
Matt Garza hit the rumor mill for the first time in the wake of the announcement of the new CBA … and Carlos Zambrano was expected to start his winter warm-up in Venezuela.

November 23 – Sveum Asked Chris Bosio to be Cubs Pitching Coach
Just days after Bruce Levine mentioned the possibility, the news of Chris Bosio replacing Mark Riggins as the Cubs pitching coach surfaced.

November 23 – Cubs Offer Arbitration to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena
While many worried that Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena would accept salary arbitration from the Cubs, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer gambled and it paid off. Ramirez signed with the Brewers, Pena signed with the Rays and the Cubs received two sandwich picks. As it turns out, the Cubs had a handshake agreement with Scott Boras that Pena would not accept salary arbitration with the Cubs … after all, Boras needed the Cubs to stay in the mix as long as possible to keep the perception of a market for Prince Fielder.

November 29 – Are the Cubs Planning a Roster Overhaul?
News of the Cubs interest in both David DeJesus and Ian Stewart first surfaced.

November 29 – From the Wire … Jamie Quirk Tabbed as Sveum’s Bench Coach
The second hire by Dale Sveum for his coaching staff. Jamie Quirk replaced Pat Listach as the Cubs bench coach and pushed Listach out of the dugout and back to the baselines. Listach would end up being named third base coach.

November 29 – Rangers Hire Greg Maddux as Special Assistant to GM
Greg Maddux left the Cubs’ organization again … this time to join his brother Mike Maddux in Texas.

November 30 – From the Wire … Cubs Sign Outfielder David DeJesus
The first free agent signing of the new regime … Theo Epstein tried to acquire DeJesus while he was in Boston and was unable to pull off a deal. DeJesus signed a two-year, $10 million contract that includes a $6.5 million club option for 2014.


December 2 – From the Wire … Chris Bosio to be Named Cubs Pitching Coach

December 5 – Ron Santo Elected to the Hall of Fame
A year and two days after his passing, the Santo family received the call that Ron waited so many years for. Ron Santo was finally elected to the Hall of Fame and will be enshrined into Cooperstown on July 22.

December 7 – From the Wire … Ramirez and Pena Decline Salary Arbitration

December 8 – Cubs Selected Lendy Castillo in Rule 5 Draft … Flaherty Selected by Orioles, Gonzalez Selected by Red Sox, Dealt to Astros
The Winter Meetings concluded with the Rule 5 Draft … and the announcement that Albert Pujols had signed with the Los Angeles Angels. The Cubs lost two players in the Rule 5 Draft … Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzalez. Flaherty has a good chance to stick with the Orioles and the same could be said about Gonzalez. The Cubs selected Lendy Castillo from the Phillies, a 22-year old right-handed pitcher.

December 8 – Cubs and Red Sox Not Worrying About Compensation for Epstein

December 8 – From the Wire … Colvin and LeMahieu Traded to Colorado for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers
The rumored trade involving Ian Stewart and Tyler Colvin finally happened and included two other top prospects, D.J. LeMahieu and Casey Weathers.

December 9 – From the Wire … Cubs Claim Infielder Jeff Bianchi
The Cubs claimed infielder Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Kansas City Royals and added him to the 40-man roster. The Cubs ended up trying to sneak Bianchi back through waivers on January 11 to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Paul Maholm … but the Brewers ended up claiming the infielder.

December 10 – Will Fielder End Up with the Cubs? … and Other News and Notes
The Prince Fielder to the Cubs rumors heated up … as the Cubs continued to deny the interest.

December 12 – Aramis Ramirez Agrees to Three-Year Deal with Brewers
Aramis Ramirez’s days with the Cubs officially ended as he signed a three-year deal with Milwaukee. The Cubs received a sandwich pick in June’s draft when Ramirez took his talents to Miller Park.

December 12 – Cubs Tender Contracts to Six of Seven Arbitration Eligible Players … Koyie Hill Lone Non-Tender
The Cubs tendered contracts to six of their seven arbitration eligible players and released Koyie Hill. Matt Garza, Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart and Randy Wells were tendered contracts for the 2012 season.

December 15 – Cubs Bid on Yu Darvish … and Other News, Notes and Rumors
Not only did the Cubs make a bid for the right to negotiate a contract with Yu Darvish (rumors later suggested the Cubs placed a $20 million bid for Darvish), news surfaced that the Ricketts family had purchased the McDonald’s property across the street from Wrigley Field.

December 16 – From the Wire … Cubs Announce Dale Sveum’s Coaching Staff
After postponing the announcement for more than 10 days, the Cubs finally announced Dale Sveum’s coaching staff … Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Rudy Jaramillo (hitting coach), Jamie Quirk (bench coach), Pat Listach (third base coach), Dave McKay (first base coach) and Lester Strode (bullpen coach). The Cubs also announced Franklin Fort will serve as the team’s assistant hitting coach.

December 16 – Cubs Negotiating a Deal with Paul Maholm?

December 18 – Weekend Update … Rumors, Rumors and More Cubs Rumors
A day after the Padres acquired Yonder Alonso in the Mat Latos deal, the rumors were flying that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod would soon be trading for Anthony Rizzo … the trade would end up happening less than a month later.

December 19 – Cubs Add to Front Office … Hire Matt Dorey as National Crosschecker

December 20 – Cubs and Reds Discussing a Sean Marshall for Travis Wood Trade?
News first surfaced that the Cubs’ new front office could send Sean Marshall to the Reds for lefty Travis Wood.

December 21 – From the Wire … Cubs Reach Agreement on One-Year Contract with Reed Johnson

December 21 – From the Wire … Cubs Agree to Send Sean Marshall to the Reds for Travis Wood and Two Minor Leaguers
The Cubs and Reds agreed in principal on the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood.

December 21 – Cubs Announce Minor League Managers, Coaching Staffs and Coordinators for 2012

December 22 – From the Wire … Cubs Sign Manny Corpas
News surfaced that the Cubs had signed reliever Manny Corpas. The deal would not be made official for several days and when it was it was announced as a split-contract. Corpas ended up going through waivers to clear room on the 40-man roster for Kerry Wood on January 26.

December 23 – From the Wire … Cubs Acquire Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes from the Reds for Sean Marshall
Two days after the trade was leaked it was made official … the Cubs sent Marshall to the division rival Reds for Travis Wood, Ronald Torreyes and Dave Sappelt. The trade also signaled what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had been saying, the Cubs are building for the future and beyond the 2012 season.

December 26 – From the Wire … Cubs Agree to Terms on a Non-Guaranteed Split Contract with Andy Sonnanstine
The Cubs announced two non-guaranteed split contracts the day after Christmas … one for Andy Sonnanstine and one for Manny Corpas.

December 31 – Two Minor Signings, A Front Office Hiring and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs signed two Cuban prospects on the final day of the year. According to Baseball America, the Cubs inked outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and right-hander Carlos Martinez. Both players were teammates of Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion. The Cubs have still not announced those signings. The Cubs also added a piece to the front office with the hiring of Kyle Evans. Evans will run the Cubs video and advance scouting department.



January 4 – Cubs Close to Trading Zambrano to Miami?
The news surfaced that the Cubs were on the verge of trading Carlos Zambrano and a lot of money to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad. Bruce Levine first reported the possibility in November just after the GM Meetings … where the talks between the Cubs and Marlins started.

January 4 – From the Wire … Cubs Deal Zambrano to Miami for Chris Volstad
Not long after the report from Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs and Marlins agreed in principal on a trade that sent Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad.

January 5 – Zambrano Out, Volstad In and Two Minor League Signings
The news surfaced the Cubs signed Joe Mather and Edgar Gonzalez to minor league contracts … the deals were actually completed in mid-December.

January 5 – From the Wire … Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad Deal Official
The Cubs announced they had parted ways with Carlos Zambrano, as well as with $15.345 million of the $18 million owed to Zambrano for the 2012 season. Zambrano waived his no trade clause and his vesting option for the 2013 season. The Cubs also announced they settled the grievance with Zambrano for $2.4 million.

January 6 – From the Wire … Cubs Acquire Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates from the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod acquired Anthony Rizzo again and for the second time since taking over the Cubs, they traded a former first-round pick of the previous regime (Tyler Colvin, 2006; Andrew Cashner, 2008). The Cubs also acquired a pitcher with a ton of upside in the deal. Even with the Cubs trading for their future first baseman, the national media continued to insist that Prince Fielder would end up singing with the Cubs.

January 9 – From the Wire … Paul Maholm Signs with the Cubs
For the first time a player announced on twitter that he had signed a contract with the Cubs. Paul Maholm could not wait to tell the world he signed with the Cubs.

January 11 – From the Wire … Brewers Claim Jeff Bianchi Off Waiver from Cubs
The Cubs tried to sneak Jeff Bianchi through waivers but the Brewers claimed the utility infielder. The move created a spot on the 40-man roster for Paul Maholm. The Cubs claimed Bianchi off waivers 33 days earlier from the Kansas City Royals.

January 13 – The Unofficial Opening Day … It’s Time for the Cubs Convention

January 13 – From the Wire … Cubs Re-Sign Kerry Wood
It was reported earlier in the week that Kerry Wood was on the verge of signing with another team but to the delight of the crowd in the big ballroom at the Hilton, Pat Hughes announced the Cubs had re-signed Kerry Wood to kick off the Cubs Convention.

January 14 – Day One of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Welcome to Theo Fest

January 14 – Soriano Would Only Accept a Trade to a Contender
The Cubs’ new regime was (and still is) trying to move Alfonso Soriano to an American League team. On the first day of the convention, Soriano said he would only accept a trade to a city and a team that was good for him and his family. Rumors have suggested that Soriano rejected a trade to the Orioles at some point during the off-season.

January 14 – Day Two of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein

January 15 – Day Two of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Meet Cubs Baseball Management and the Coaches’ Den

January 15 – Day Two of the 2012 Cubs Convention … The Cubs Newest Hall of Famer, Scouting and Changes to Wrigley Field

January 15 – Day Three of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Fathers, Sons and Down on the Farm

January 17 – From the Wire … Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Geovany Soto
The Cubs starting catcher received a nice raise in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Soto made $3 million in 2011 and will be paid $4.3 million in the upcoming season.

January 17 – From the Wire … Cubs Agreed to One-Year Deals with Six of Seven Arbitration Eligible Players, Exchanged Figures with Matt Garza
The Cubs avoided arbitration with Jeff Baker ($1.375 million), Blake DeWitt ($1.1 million), Ian Stewart ($2.3755 million), Chris Volstad ($2.655 million) and Randy Wells ($2.705 million). The initial report of Matt Garza filing a $10.255 arbitration number was incorrect but the Cubs submitted a $7.95 million offer for Matt Garza.

January 19 – Garza’s Arbitration Filing Higher Than First Reported
Two days after reports surfaced that Matt Garza filed a $10.225 million arbitration figure, news surfaced that Garza actually filed a $12.5 million figure … a far ways from the $7.95 million figure the Cubs filed.

January 20 – Baseball is Better … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors
Minor league signings continued to surface right around the time the Cubs new ad campaign hit the Internet and newspapers. The return of Rodrigo Lopez to the Cubs on a minor league contract was announced.

January 26 – From the Wire … Corpas Outrighted Off Cubs 40-Man Roster
The Cubs finally created a spot on the 40-man roster for Kerry Wood. Manny Corpas cleared waivers and was outrighted off the big league roster.

January 30 – Cubs Invite 21 Non-Roster Players to Camp
At the time, the Cubs announced their non-roster invitees to Spring Training … since January 30, Esmailin Caridad has been added to the list and Blake DeWitt is also expected to be in camp on a non-roster invite after he cleared waivers (February 16) and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa.


February 2 – The CCO’s Top 20 Prospects for 2012

February 2 – From the Wire … Cubs Sign Gerardo Concepcion
According to multiple reports, the Cubs signed 19-year old southpaw Gerardo Concepcion to a guaranteed $7 million deal. The contract could reportedly end up paying Concepcion $8 million … but the Cubs have not announced the signing and have not added him to the 40-man roster yet.

February 3 – From the Wire … Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Matt Garza
The Cubs avoided arbitration with Matt Garza just before the hearing was set to begin. Garza agreed to a one year contract for $9.5 million that includes an additional $150,000 in performance bonuses.

February 4 – Avoiding Arbitration, a Minor League Signing … and Other Cubs News and Notes
The Cubs signed Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league contract and invited Esmailin Caridad to big league camp.

February 6 – From the Wire … Cubs Designate Blake DeWitt for Assignment, Claim Adrian Cardenas Off Waivers

The off-season is over. It is time to focus on the field. Baseball is back.

Position players report February 23 and the first full squad workout is in just six days, February 24. Before long the Cubs will take the field in Mesa against the A’s on March 4 … and Pat Hughes will proclaim, “Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the air.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • J Daniel

    WOW, come up for air!  A lot of changes, an exciting off season, and they are still a long way from being good.  But I believe they will be a better team to watch than they have been the last two seasons.  I watch a majority of games but could not stomach the last two seasons and did not watch much.  

    Although we can continue to debate if DeJesus is an improvement over Fukodome (which I believe he is) or if Stewart is an improvement over Aram (everyone here was tired of watching him) I have a feeling they will be better managed and play better fundamentally.  Just those two areas alone will be a huge improvement.  

    Yes LaHair will not be as good defensively as Pena but he is short term anyways (and everyone here wanted to see him play more than Pena anyways).  Rizzo is rated well defensively and he will be the guy soon.  

    We all love Byrd’s effort but are ready for BJax.  Sori just can’t be moved yet but I would bet this will be his last year unless he finds youth.

    I can’t remember anyone wanting Z back?  He has a no trade and can only be dealt where he wanted to be dealt to.  I imagine the best return was gotten for him with the circumstances that were being dictated.

    Cleaning up this mess will take time and could not be done in one offseason.  There is still a lot of work to be done and it will be fun to watch!

    • GaryLeeT

      Sorry, losing will not be “fun to watch”. I can probably get into some of the individual efforts, and player development, but I am pretty sure that I will have to hold my nose while doing it.

  • Tony_Hall

    What an off-season!!!  Thanks Neil for the great recap!  It is hard to believe that all happened in 4 1/2 months and you were on top of it every step of the way.  

    I can’t remember an off-season filled with more hope for the future yet, one that has divided Cub fans, and CCO faithful more.

    We all have had our opinions on the past seasons of the Cubs.  Some defended JH to the bitter end.  But it is a new era at Clark and Addison.  JH gave us some great years, and got us so close to a World Series in 2003.  Then spent year after year, going for it each year, with no regard to the future.  Yes we had some great seasons, but it didn’t lead to the goal, getting to the World Series and winning the last game of the year.

    That is the goal…winning the last game of the year.

    Anything less is failing the ultimate goal.  You can have a fun season and not win in October and yes, many good even great teams never get to celebrate after the last game, sometimes you need to be just as lucky as you are good.  Sometimes you don’t even need to win 90+ games, as we have seen from our division counterparts.  

    The regular season is a lot of fun when your team is in it.  I want that on a yearly basis, like the Yankees and Red Sox.  Because if you are in it every year, anything can happen in October, and if you are there year after year, you will eventually win.

    So whether you wanted JH gone, or liked the hiring of Theo and company, he is gone and they are here.  Things are being done different, and not being done like probably any of us expected.  This team looks different than what I expected, that is for sure.  But I will give them time to turn over this roster.  I am more interested in the long term moves versus the short term stopgaps.

    Do you realize the Cubs are one of only 9 teams with no contracts in 2015?  In the big scheme of things Soriano’s money is not even difference between where the Cubs can take their payroll and the 2nd largest payroll in their division.  And there is 2 years $36M left after this year and other than that there is not that much on the books.  It has been years since they have had this payroll flexibility.  As they develop players and extend them, and go to FA in the coming years, they will have a huge competitive advantage, within their division on how high they can take their payroll, who they can keep, trade for, and sign….but 

    2012 is not the year.

    Sorry if you were hoping or demanding it would be.

    2011 wasn’t the year, but the Cubs wasted the year, going for it and took the club farther from their goal.

    2010 should have had the white flag waived before the trade deadline but didn’t and took the club farther from their goal.

    2012 is not the year…it will not be wasted, as we are now getting closer to goal, one day at a time.

    • Zonk

      Good post Tony…….jury is out of course, but so far I think Theo and team have put on a rebuilding clinic.  We have shed payroll, added no serious commitments, and acquired cheap and under control talent for the future. 

      Our biggest problem is a lack of high-ceiling talent in the farm system, so it will take a little longer to fix that.  In the meantime, it makes perfect sense to gain payroll flexibility. 

      The other thing is I see the NL Central getting less-tough over time.  The Cards are aging, and the Brewers and Reds are clearly playing for the short-term not long term, as they must figure they will lose some core players to FA.  2012 is not our year, but by 2014, we could be in a position to dominate the Central for years.  We have one advantage Red Sox didn’t:  No Yankees

      • Anthony

        It has been said, “you don’t have to be a great player to play in the major leagues, but a good one every day”

        High ceiling is a scouting term based on tools. Production at the MLB level has more to do with makeup and dedication

    • GaryLeeT

      I don’t think any reasonable Cub fan thought they were “going for it” last year. Since 2010, they have been in “waiting out the contracts” mode. In fact, who was the last perceived difference maker they added? Fukudome in 08?

      • John_CC

         You’re right Gary, any reasonable and sane fan could see there wasn’t much chance last year. Too bad the manager and GM couldn’t agree and get on the same page. Because we’d already know if LaHair was ready,  probably would be rid of Byrd…but I don’t want to rehash all that garbage.

        The last perceived difference maker?  That would have been our buddy uncle Milton… but I’m glad that you’ve erased that episode from your memory.

        • GaryLeeT

           I didn’t forget about Bradley, but I think Hendry was the only one on the planet that thought he was going to be a difference maker.

          • Tony_Hall

            As John pointed out, most reasonable Cub fans knew better, but our front office didn’t.

            Your point of last difference maker they added, is quite the eye opener of how bad the FA signings were in the past.

          • cubtex

            Again…….it is not front office……It is ownership.

          • Tony_Hall

            I’m not following you on this one??

            You don’t think JH was going for it last year??  That is was just ownership??

          • cubtex

            Ownership tells front office to be competitive and sign free agents to put fans in seats. Ownership pushed for Soriano signing to make a splash during offseason. Then…..when you have those contracts in place u need to add to try and go for it with that window. It all starts with the ownership. Same with Boston……When u buy big free agents u add. Do u think John Henry will give Cherrington permission to rebuild????? Not a chance!

          • John_CC

             Are you saying that the Ricketts believed that the Cubs were “still in it” last year in June, July…?  I don’t. 

            Ricketts made it clear that he did not feel it was his job to medal in  day to day operations. Hendry and Quade were managing as if they had a chance. If Hendry would have shown some balls and ordered the benching of some slacking vets and called up some of the rookies…who knows.

            It is my speculation, but I believe that Hendry’s decision to NOT make changes last year were his demise. It seems apart, since he was fired mid-season that Ricketts had decided JH was not going to be the man to re-build the Cubs.  But it was Hendry’s actions that informed the decision. Again, my take on the situation. 

            The ownership did not sign Milton Bradley to a 3 year contract, overpay for Pena, NOT bring up LaHair, search for trade partners for Garza, Byrd, Aramis last July when they would have returned many players….

            Come on, man. I can’t believe I’m wasting my time on this.

          • cubtex

            It is a waste of time for me to repond….but let me explain it to u so u might understand. The Cubs had a high payroll just like the Red Sox….Mets etc. The Mets were out of it about the same time as Cubs. Was Jason Bay benched? Was David Wright ever benched. IFFFFFFFFF the Red Sox fold this year and Crawford struggles again….will he be benched???? Will Ortiz after just signing for 14 mil. No use replying if u can’t see this. U dont get it and never will.

          • John_CC

             I don’t get it. I was talking about the Cubs.

          • Tony_Hall

            I think most anyone gets what you are saying, but you are comparing players in Bay, Wrightand Crawford, that are not going anywhere, and teamswould want versusplayers we have seen keep playing that other teamsdon’t even want.

            There were opportunitiesto move more players and RandyBush chose not to, as to let those decisions be made by the next GM.  

            ARamwasn’tcoming back, Pena really wasn’tcoming back, etc.  They shouldhave been traded 
            in July or August, but weren’t.

            And yes, I believethat Ricketts shouldhave ordered it to happen, 

      • Henry

        Gary you are correct: no reasonable cub fan thought they were going for it.  The problem last year was that information was not communicated down through management.  Once Hendry was gone someone should have made sure that the Manager played the young guys so that we could see what we have! That never happened.  They trotted out the same old guys with the same bad contracts until the end of the season.  Last season should have been all about finding more guys like Castro not playing guys like Byrd, Fukedome, etc. etc.  All I can say now is: I AM HAPPY WE HAVE PLAN!!!!

  • John_CC

    Amazing, Neil.  I hope that being in Mesa is more of vacation for you than work. 

    I’ll miss meeting you again, I’m heading down on Monday! 

    • Tony_Hall

      Completely jealous!  Have fun John!

      • John_CC

        Thanks Tony!  I’ll try to send some photos from Fitch. 

    • Henry

      I will be in MESA March 25 through 29.  Will anyone else be there?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank John and have a great time. I leave two weeks from today. If you can email photos and I will post … giving you full credit of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Swoophorse-Piotrowski/1480706253 David Swoophorse Piotrowski

    The most up-lifting words in sports, “Pitchers and Catchers Report”!

    Boy we were quite busy since the end of last season. I hope the next addition you write of on the list of off season moves is “The Cubs sign Soler”. That would be a huge piece of the winning Cub lineup for 2014.

    Have fun in Mesa Neil.

  • paulcatanese

    Great post Neil, a lot to remember. Cannot believe it’s been 14 years since Harry passed away, time just does not stand still.

  • paulcatanese

    Open letter to Reed Johnson.

    Mr. Johnson, I know you are excited with the “new look”, but my advice to you. Remember you are an old man, and bruise easily, don’t over do it. Look forward to the hustle you provide and congratulate you for the season you had last year.
    Ask Theo for a rocker in the dugout between innings (what was good enough for Prince certainly should be good enough for you).
    One more thing, lay off the high inside pitch and have a good year:)

  • paulcatanese

    Theo say’s that Castro will be in camp on time and his legal problems will not be a distraction.

    Whether its a distraction or not is not the point. He (Castro) has gone down quite a few notches in my opinion of him.

    Here’s a kid that has the world by the tail (I am not refering to the legal part) and choose’s to be out in a club exposing himself to only negative possibilities in the end.

    I have seen too many others do the same thing to themselves and just don’t respect the game or why they are there.

    It dosent quite put him in the same venue as Barry Bonds, but it still is an insult to his fans and those that support him.

    I firmly believe that if it is a distraction or happens again, that Theo, based on what he is trying to acomplish will move Castro, even more so if Castro has a let down season and continues to go out and frequent the night life.

    He needs to grow up and very soon, and start producing at both ends,
    again with the bat and  for sure, with the glove, this is his third year, and the excuse that he is “still a kid” dosent cut it anymore.

    • RynoTiger

      so you’re saying he can’t go out and have fun?  Right now he’s innocent until proven guilty.

      He’s a young man who went out to a club…oh no..call the cops..arrest that young man for being a young man…

      I’m not insulted that he went out to a club for fun because right now he’s innocent. 

      should he have stuck with bake sales, bingo, and  sock hops?


      lay off till the case is completed

      • paulcatanese

        If you read what I said, nothing to do with the legal end of it.

        If going to a club until two in the morning is excused because he is a young man is ok ,well we have a much different opinion of what is proper.

        I did not infer the innocent or guilty aspect to Castro, and had nothing to do with the case.

        He is a public figure period and should carry himself as such.

        A lot of athletes, college and high school whether innocent or not, pay the penalty for breaking the rules of the team itself, and they do have the same pressure.

        And to say once more, being young and learning is not an excuse, and again I did not refer to the case itself, simply that he did not make a good choice of where to be at that time in the morning.

      • Anthony

        drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son

        Dean of Students- V. Wormer

  • Jeff in Az

    Man, I am so sick of all of the negativity on this website anymore. This used to be a website where I could chat with other Cub fans and we could talk about our likes and dislikes regarding the team with everyone being respectful to each other.
    I’ve been posting since 2005 along with the some of the other true old-timers to this site and I can not recall a period of time other than the last 6 months in which you could find negative post after negative post about the owner, management, players, and even concession stand workers.
    Ironically this has probably been the most exciting transition for the cubs since 2005 and probably since Dallas Green took over in the early 80’s. Yet, some of you come back here day after day and ridicule the management about everything from who they sign to what color ink pens they use to do so.
    The worst part for me though, is when I see guys (fellow posters) getting ridiculed for supporting Theo and company. Apparently supporting the new management, being hopeful, and trusting that these guys know more about the game then us because they have 2 world series under their belt and have left both organizations they worked for (Padres and Redsox) better then they found them, is just another reason for people to bitch about something else Cub.
    If a couple years from now the team is in shambles, we are handcuffed with lucrative contracts and no-trade clauses (sound familiar?) then have at it. But until then, how about you let those of us who choose to support the direction the team appears to be heading in, do so with out the cheap shots of “Theo worshiper” or “boy blunder lover” congesting this great site Neil has worked so hard to make what it is over the past 7 years?
    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t question things. I was not big on signing Cespedes and I was sure to make my feelings known, but I don’t ever pretend to know more about the game of baseball then a General Manger with the Credentials of Theo Epstein.
    I’m looking forward to this season with more hope then ever, and I don’t think that makes me stupid, I think it makes me a fan of the Chicago National League Ball Club.
    There is a phrase we have used for a long time around here and it goes a little something like this, “Stay Classy Cub Fans”.

    • Calicub

      B. E. A. Utiful sir.

    • cubtex

      already had a hunch, but after reading this thread I am convinced that Tony is an employee of the chicago cubs. Im an optimisti fan, but I don’t think tony has disagreed with anything the cubs have done all year.If they announced today that they were going to tear down Wrigley he would just agree and tell us all that it iss old anyway. Take us to your leader tony! Who do you work for? I think the cubs have added another office position…blog influencer.

      I believe this was one of your posts about a week or so ago.
      Practice what you preach!

      • Jeff in AZ

        Thanks for responding because you are one of those who needed to read this. Those were my words (it must have taken you several minutes to copy and paste) but I will go on the record right now and say that I respect Tony for his knowledge and optimism. Anyone who actually took that posts as anything more then sarcasm is well…I’m gonna stay classy on this one. :-)

      • John_CC

        What does this have to do with Tony?

        You are completely obsessed with your little rivalries against certain people and it is pathetic.

        Jeff in AZ  is speaking the honest truth here. And all you have is “Tony works for the Cubs”.  You must not have been reading last season.

        Get a grip, man.

    • Anthony

      Theo has 12.5M reasons to thank Billy Beane for changing the course of his history

    • John_CC

      Couldn’t have (and have not) said it better, Jeff.

      It’s a completely new era, and one with a lot of promise. Though it’s just barely begun – heaven forbid long suffering fans FINALLY have something to look forward to.  And actually try to talk about it with other fans!

      …but no…we are “Theo worshipers” or whatever. What happened to being for the Cubs finally breaking the 103 year old losing mold? Huh?

  • Ryan_cubs

    First post here – Neil this is by far the best site out there for cubs news. Thank you for all your hard work. I’ve been reading this site for 3+ years and am finally getting around to posting. I cant thank you and everyone enough for the time they put in with some of the posts. The information and knowledge some of you bring is great and is what makes this site so good. Even with some of the negativity about everything, I do love all the different viewpoints shared. I happen to be an optimist, and believe that what is happening on the north side right now is a great thing. Call me a theo lover if you want, but what’s not to like about what’s going on right now? We are in complete rebuild mode right now, which is what so many of us have wanted for at least the last year or two, if not 3. So while some of you may not like some of the moves made his offseason, I am choosing to give Theo and Hoyer the benefit of the doubt in most if not all cases.  Why? Because we finally have a front office that has a plan and a track record to prove they know what they are doing. Are they going to make some bad signings? Yes, of course they are. All gm’s make some bad ones. The key is not making one that prohibits the team from making future transactions when the team is actually going for it, and feels that overpaying for a free agent outweighs the cons of their contract. Lets face it, this year is probably going to be rough. But I, like many, am choosing to look at this season as a transition year. Lets wait til the end of the year and see where we’re at. There are still plenty of moves that will be made. I think what many fail to recognize is that it takes time to move some of these guys. Its not fantasy baseball or MLB 2012 where you can trade guys easily. For example, I have no doubt that they would have loved to trade Byrd by now. But these guys are looking at the big picture and the offers that they have had for him are not very good, and are taking their chances on him playing well in a contract year and getting more for him at the trade deadline. And I happen to like the plan of signing former top prospects with the hope that they play well this year (stewart). I look at it as a no lose situation. If they play well, you can trade them and get something you will actually use for the future, or if they dont, you have a serviceable backup in Baker. Is it ideal? Not at all, but the idea isn’t this year anyways. Anyways, my point is lets wait and see where this team is at the end of the year before making too many judgements about theo and hoyer. It takes time to clean up this mess that the cubs are currently in. And they have only had a few months to work with so far. My guess is the cubs will look a lot different at the end of the year than what they currently are trotting out there.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

       Ryan, thank you for your kind words and welcome to the CCO!

      I agree with a majority of your points, good post.