Rambling about the Cubs While Having No Idea …

This headline comes as no surprise to the regular “Ramblings” readers, but it fits in with what I know about the Cubs right now, and most likely what everyone really knows … or doesn’t.

The General Managers meetings took place this week in Orlando, the Cubs held their “Season-Ticket Holder” presentations last week, and the hot stove is right around the corner, and yet, I have absolutely no idea what to expect over the next 12 months when it comes to Cubs baseball.

The Internet geniuses know for sure, as we claim, but we’re all batting a hefty .250 when it comes to predictions, so we all need to simmer down a little … and in some cases, a heck of a lot.

There are a lot of ideas, thoughts and espousing go on these days, but  with that said, I will put my neck out, make a few predictions, ask a few questions, and ramble it on down the road.  So let’s get after it …

  • The Cubs will not trade Samardzija. I believe Theo really wants a half-decent team out there this year. And before I get ripped on this, I was at the presentation. He is extremely frustrated with the MLB squad.
  • I don’t think the Cubs have given up on Samardzija yet. I am fine settling on another one-year arb deal and seeing how he progresses. The 2014 Cubs are better with the Shark on the roster.
  • Not cool, DeRo … not cool at all.  You know Heidi wanted to come back to Chicago. And you go and sign with MLB Network on the East Coast.
  • The Cubs have the worst home record in baseball since 1945. Let that swirl around your head a little. Yes, I know there are new teams, but the point is the same … there is a reason for this. Humans are creatures of habit. Day games are not habit for ball players. Story over.
  • I have no idea who the Cubs will sign this offseason, but Theo’s slip when it came to basically admitting a mistake with Edwin Jackson was intriguing. He said it out loud. I am not reading into anything.
  • The reports surrounding Ellsbury have me confounded. Theo was clear about signing players in their 30’s to long-term deals, but he loves Jacoby. We can’t count on every prospect. He would be the best leadoff hitter the Cubs have had in decades, if not centuries. Okay, Ced Landrum was pretty awesome for 9 games.
  • Today, I learned that Jacoby Ellsbury’s middle name is “McCabe.” Today, he became my favorite player in baseball. I am going to overtly root for the Cubs to sign him, and then blindly defend him when he hits .212 each year of his contract. And I mean, BLINDLY defend him.
  • Rick Renteria … I don’t know what to think, as per the theme of this column. He is known as a teacher, and he is bilingual. Also, he is ridiculously upbeat.
  • Most importantly, he knows why he is here, and Sveum is gone. Progress, not regress, or as the old joke goes, not congress.
  • In all seriousness, I believe the Cubs want Baez and Bryant up by June, and they need to see true progress in Almora and Soler during the spring.
  • This is also the last chance for Vitters, and while BJax plays his heart out, he may be nearing the end of the line with the Cubs as well. It is extremely critical to say that about two guys in their mid-20’s, but it’s the harsh reality of pro baseball.  I am rooting for them both.
  • The Cubs will not sign Tanaka, nor will the win the posting battle. Not happening. However, his numbers are ridiculous. I know its Japan, but his numbers are sick. And if a slightly lesser version of Yu Darvish is an accurate prediction, he will be solid.
  • I saw the rumors regarding Kurt Suzuki. That would be fine with me. Few, if any, better for Wellington to learn from, as well as a great presence in the clubhouse.  A fine signing it would be.
  • Darwin Barney will not be the Cubs starting second baseman in June.
  • The way Theo talked about wishing he could just sign any player during any offseason was great. You can just picture him in college during his roto-league auction drafts.
  • Speaking of, whom would you pay the most for in baseball right now? Every player is available, both pitchers and fielders.
  • Personally, I go with Miguel Cabrera. I know, I really went out on a limb. Sure, Kershaw has been the most dominant pitcher the past three seasons, but I am going with a position player. Someone who can affect more than one out of every five outcomes. I am sure I am wrong about this so please tell me why.
  • Baseball America’s “lists” came out this week. I have faith in Baez. I think he is going to stick, and stick well. I could be wrong, but I don’t think C-Pat or Pie ever had a minor-league season like Baez just did.
  • And I will say this for sure … with all the talk about Baez, Bryant, Almora, Edwards and Soler … Rizzo and Castro must be happy to have some time off from the headlines … for now.

There is plenty to come this offseason. Ellsbury is the only possible big signing the Cubs make, and I would say it’s a long shot at that. The free agent pitching market is extremely uninspiring. With the Winter Meetings a month away and very few with a clue, it shall be interesting to see what this offseason has in store for the Cubs. But we might as well aruge about it as respectfully as possible. Remember, you can disagree, but let’s leave the insults for the uneducated.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

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  • cubsin

    Trout would be a much better pick than Cabrera because he is much younger.

  • triple

    Brian- You’ve reminded me of another great reason why the Cubs should just build a new stadium out in Rosemont. Those extra 20 or so night games could actually be a positive for playing through those dog days of summer… but a better 25-man roster wouldn’t hurt either.

    I also do believe that Samardzija will be sticking around for the year. If he’s traded, there better be some players coming our way that are very close to contributing on a big league team.

  • beelza

    Any man that can hit back-to-back home runs off Mariano Rivera, will get my money everytime. Cabrera is the only man to ever do that.

  • Dorasaga

    Brian, it’s not on the team, or the club, or the market, but just on me, MY FAVORITE, then I would pay for Curtis Granderson.


    Well educated from a well-educated family, nice ambassador of baseball.

    Having said that, it’s ridiculous how less educated baseball players had become, mostly given up their education–most never went to college–even if did, never graduated from college. Ask JJ Putz* how difficult it was!

    *Finally earned his education as he’s nearing retirement in baseball.

    I was reading about how soccer now have more players who made it through higher education than before. Of course, it’s just a fact for two centuries now that American pro-baseball always found talents from a group with less income than average (first read it off Bill James’ Abstract published 2001). With less choices and support from their family, young kids needed to focus on what they are good at (some were forced and accustomed to), which have been sports. That’s the limited option to be rewarded, a life for a career, in monetary means.

    Anyway, rambling, not time for serious research, I’ll just say that I want smarter baseball players who can look at things from perspective, look through themselves and their physical abilities to play baseball. Hey, maybe Curtis can teach players math and economics, so perhaps one day some players, who’ll help the Cubs win two World Series.

  • Tony_Hall

    MIke Trout

    Younger, better baserunner, better glove and more demanding defensive position, and just a tick less in offensive production then Miggy.

    Wait, did you say who should be the AL MVP or who I would take 1st in a draft. Same answer!

    • Sonate

      Younger, yes. Better baserunner, yes. Better glove, yes. A tick less in offensive production, yes. A more demanding defensive position? When Miggy plays first, yes. When Miggy plays third, no. However, I agree with your assessment. I’d rather have Trout.

      • Tony_Hall

        Yeah, 3B is not a demanding defensive position and CF is one of the most demanding positions. There is a reason that defense is a priority up the middle and the lesser defensive players go to the corners.

        • Sonate

          I respectfully disagree (not about Trout). The range factors over the last three years are very close to equal (circa 2.6) for CF and 3B. Bill James’s “defensive spectrum” has 3B as a more demanding position than CF. I understand that Trout is better at CF than Miggy is at 3B. But, a great 3B (e.g, Robinson, C. Boyer) dominate the great CF (Ashburn, Mays). (I hope I did not unleash a firestorm here.)

          • Tony_Hall

            Actually the defensive spectrum has CF as the more demanding position.

            The defensive spectrum is:

            Designated hitter – First baseman – Left fielder – Right fielder – Third baseman – Center fielder – Second baseman – Shortstop – Catcher – Pitcher

            In some versions of the defensive spectrum, pitcher and catcher are not included, since certain defensive demands of those positions are so specialized as to be inapplicable to players at other positions. The designated hitter is sometimes omitted since he is technically not part of the “defense” at all.

            As an example of the concept in action, players who are drafted by Major League Baseball teams as shortstops are far more likely to ultimately end up at a different position than players who are drafted as first basemen.

    • cubtex

      Wow! Did you say that Trout should be the MVP over Miggy this year????? Trout had an outstanding year but it isn’t even close! Miggy is in a class by himself.

      Miggy 2013 stats

      .348 avg .442 OBP 44 HR’s 137 RBI only 94K’s and 90 BB

      and….my favorite clutch stat .397 avg with RISP

      Mike Trout

      .323 avg .432 OBP 27 HR’s 97 RBI with 136K’s(42 more K’s) and 110 BB (16 more BB)

      and.. .a very good .324 avg with RISP.

      As you can see Tony. Miggy is not just a tick higher offensively. He is considerably higher. This MVP vote wasn’t even close.

      • John_CC

        This is something I agree with you on…maybe the ONLY thing, but hey, I agree!

        Miggy is an offensive player in his own league. Period. Tony, I enjoy, appreciate and for the most part believe what the advanced stats tell us, but they are not infallible. Miggy is a superior player at the plate with a bat in his hands.

        • Dorasaga

          From a historical perspective, Miggy has no par. Two consecutive years of Triple Crown doesn’t mean anything, if we disregard history, because it doesn’t make sense (Chris Davis had the HR this year, while Miggy right behind, but yea, you got the idea).

        • Tony_Hall

          If you are talking about WAR, it includes base running and defense. If you are talking just more feared hitter, Miggy is the guy.

          • John_CC

            Tony, when you say WAR includes base running, does it mean SB and/or pure speed, or is there some metric to actually rate base running “skill?” All other aspects of the game are able to be quantified with chances, touches, range, averages, etc…but just good base running without considering speed would seen to be close to non quantifiable.

          • Tony_Hall

            Sorry, I meant SB’s. There is no way I know of that has been able to quantify good base running.

          • John_CC

            I find this interesting that SB are used to determine WAR, a stat that is as of now, the “end all” in terms of overall evaluation of a player’s value. The sabermetric community flatly pans Stolen Bases as a worthy endeavor in the game – low percentage, giving away outs … but you know all of that. So I find it quite ironic that SB are included in this instance.

          • Dorasaga


            As far as Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement go, they adopted weighted-stolen base, which has a value of 0.2 run for each stolen base.

            What it means, in layman’s words, is that compared to 150 to 200 runs good hitters contributed via hitting, a perfect 50 bases stolen season would be 10 runs. Ten runs are 5% compared to runs by hitting. Is that significant? Depends. Is that a lot? Depends. Would that be the difference between MVP and very good for the season? No.

          • John_CC

            Thanks, that makes sense. I mean it makes sense that SB would be a factor when determining WAR. But is the irony lost?

            On one hand, when considered alone, sabermetrics tends to scoff at stealing bases as a too risky, low probability option and should be avoided. But when determining overall “value” of a player it is a positive factor, no matter how slight.

          • Tony_Hall

            Actually the irony isn’t lost, bad base stealers, who don’t steal a high enough pct, will actually lower their WAR.

          • Dorasaga

            I recommend reading Dan Fox’s research on base running values that include stolen bases, while including the rates of runners successfully reaching third from first on a base-hit, running home on a double, et al. He tried to represent what really happened on the field as a whole by starting with the non-obvious “parts,” as a good stat analyst; i.e. sabermetric, always do. Fox’s research is still incomplete, because the Pirates hired him, and that’s that for his public, “free” stuffs.

      • Tony_Hall

        I stand by that Trout is just a tick behind Miggy with offensive stats, and his defense and baserunning makes him the better player and overall, the more valuable player.

        You cherry picked the stats that Miggy leads in, let’s look at more categories.

        Trout – Cabrera
        AVG – 323 – 348
        OBP – 432-442
        SLG – 557-636
        OPS – 988-1079

        HR – 27-44
        3B – 9-1
        2B – 39-26
        XBH – 75-71

        R – 109-103
        RBI – 97-137

        SO – 136-94
        BB – 110-90

        SB – 33-3

        OPS+ – 179-187
        TB – 328-353

        WAR – 9.2-7.2

        I will give that Miggy has better offensive numbers then Trout, but not by that much. Trout has more XBH, Runs, 2B, 3B, BB. But it’s not like he is far behind in other areas. Overall, Miggy is the more feared hitter, obviously, but if I have my choice of one or the other, I’d take Trout.

        • Sonage

          Completely agree, notwithstanding my qualification above. What do others see that we do not?

          • TheWrongGuy

            Runs win ball games. Period.
            So how many runs are Miggy and Trout accountable for for their teams this year?
            97rbi – 27hr = 70 + 109 runs scored = 179/733 runs scored by LAA = 0.24420 or 24.4%
            137rbi – 44hr = 93 + 103 runs scored = 196/796 runs scored by DET = 0.24623 or 24.6%

            Edge Miggy by a small margin. Last season stats Trout won. This year was all Miggy and he being the last triple crown winner of a SUPER rarity he wins. Also his team made it to the play-offs and Trouts team didn’t. I know that’s not supposed to count but we all know baseball writers do.
            And for the record if I was to choose which play to have on my team to win NOW it’s Miggy hands down. If I want a player to build my team around its Trout hands down.

          • Tony_Hall

            A player themselves can not control how many RBI’s they get (opportunities) and how many times they get driven in. Runs and RBI’s are just not great stats to compare individual players.

            Teams – Runs are pretty important.

        • gary3411

          Trout all day every day

  • Ripsnorter1

    Brian wrote “I believe Theo really wants a half-decent team out there this year. And before I get ripped on this, I was at the presentation. He is extremely frustrated with the MLB squad.”

    I think that Theo’s blowing smoke. Just who is responsible for putting this MLB squad together? And who filled the team
    with players off the scrap heap? Aside from paying for Edwin Jackson, who was always a lower tiered starter, what major acquistions has Team Theo made? And then they dumped Soriano for basically nothing, while paying his contract for him to hit HRs and drive in runs for the Yanks.

    Who is responsible? TEAM THEO
    Then why is he frustrated? Anybody could have predicted these results.

    No. He’s just blowing smoke to sell season tickets.

  • Steve Baier

    I have to say, I have not heard a good Ced Landrum reference in quite some time. 😉

    • Ripsnorter1

      Now that you mention it, I saw Tony Campana and Ced Landrum in the same
      unemployment line as I was driving to work today.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I do not believe that day games are the reason the Cubs have the worst home record since 1945.
    Both teams, while in Chicago, play day games.

    No. It is talent wins games. The Cubs have not had the talent to win.

    • Sonate

      Agreed on both counts. Playing day ball while everyone else plays night games could hurt the full season winning percentage, it cannot hurt the HOME winning percentage for the reason you just stated.

    • mutantbeast

      why does nobody ever seem to mention just how bad an owner PK Wrigley was? The jerk was more concerned with Lake Geneva than with his ball club.

      • Henry

        Mutantbeast you are correct. PK was never interested in the Cubs. The only reason he kept the Cubs is because of a death bed promise he made to his father. I will try to find the book I read that in. The book said at the time PK was more interested in Sailing. His father loved the Cubs but PK had little interest in them. He was certainly a big reason the Cubs were as bad as they were in the late 40s, 50s, and early 60’s.

  • Sanibelchuck

    No one does it more than the “Grandyman” can.

  • DWalker

    I think you are right on Shark. I am sure theo regrets the EJax signing, it was a bad move for a medicore player that took up a roster slot and money that could have been better served down the line. Even if he has a great year this year, its going to be tough to move him. for what the cubs wanted, another trash heap rebuild short term project player was the smarter move. Of course theo wants to win. of course he’s frustrated with the on the field product. His two young stars plus shark all regressed badly. guys he was counting on to have built up value at the trade deadline didn’t. No, the result was what he expected and needed, but he also expected better from key individuals. Theo isn’t going to make a big splash this off season, hes not going to field a contender in april. He is going to fill slots with trade bait again, and he is going to hope that Baez and Bryant and maybe a couple others all are ready to come up in june to fill those slots. Ellsbury might be on the radar, but I don’t see Theo giving up the draft pick for him along with the big, long contract. Theo will regret it, but I don’t think this is the one.

    • cubtex

      And I think when Theo traded Maholm and Reed Johnson 2 years ago he thought Vizcaino would be pitching with the Cubs this past season and be part of the rotation next year as well.

  • cubtex

    Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs. Wittenmyer believes the Cubs’
    reported “back-channel communication” to try and woo Girardi
    “underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and
    business sides of the operation.”

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Cashman’s job is on the line……he should be more worry of finding three pitchers who can throw 200 innings.

      • mutantbeast

        Stankees are in big trouble if they dont get Tanaka-and they certainly are beginning to regret overpaying for a starting to break down Sabathia, whos about to become a $20m/yr # 3-4 starter.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    Could not agree more about day baseball. Here are my predictions for the coming days. The FO will say that “they had some good conversations” at the GM meetings and that “they laid some groundwork for possible off-season moves” and that there’s “plenty of time for moves before Spring Training”.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Small minor moves….like getting a back up catcher……another relief pitcher………..Bigger moves will be made next July…..Samardzija trade will be the talk of the trading dead line.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Mumbles from a Crazy Old Man…..
    – Cubs will trade Shark next July
    – Cubs FO had it with Shark
    – DeRosa is no big loss now…..after 2008, it was.
    – Theo knows, but won’t tell us.
    – Forgetabout Ellsbury…Almora on the way!
    – My favorite player name was Bombo Riveria
    – I thought Tuffy Rhodes was a decent leadoff hitter for Opening Day.
    – Terrible home record for the Cubs , what else is new?
    – Isn’t every New Cubs manager upbeat in the beginning?
    – “Progress” & “Cubs” go together?…that is new to me.
    – Why are we still talking about Dale?
    – We might see Vitters & BJax before Baez & Bryant.
    – Tanaka…No….end of discussion.
    – A.J…….Yes….just to kick Castro’s a**
    – Barney will not be on this team in June
    – Theo needs to draft College Pitchers.
    – Most ball players have a 2 cent brain.
    – Cabrera is a immature, fat lard a** drunk….will be out of baseball within 5 years……that is why!…
    – Every player who I think seems to be the best, turns out to be on steroids.
    – No one really impresses me as the best player right now.
    – Karl Pagel put up excellent minor league numbers….what happen to him?
    – Ball players have BIG egos…..they want to see their name in headlines.

    • mutantbeast

      Doc Gooden certainly thought Tufffy was a great leadoff hitter…….

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Tuffy had a helluva day. Why so hard on Cabrera? “A drunk,” do you know that? He got two DUI’s. Lots of people get in trouble in their 20’s like that. I don’t condone the behavior but he seems to be turning his life around? I certainly am pulling for him. Alcoholism is a horrible disease and for his sake I hope he doesn’t have it, that he’s just made some mistakes. A guy I knew told me once “anybody can get 1 DUI, some people get 2, but only a drunk gets 3.” That always made sense to me. Again Critic, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I hope that Cabrera is just a guy that got a bit out of control in his 20’s, I guess we’ll see. Either way I hope the best for him and that he’s only made mistakes, not full blown sick.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Takes one DUI to kill a innocent person or a family. Anyone who cannot handle their liquor, stopped and arrested by the Law, is Legally Drunk.
        Everyday, People Cast Their Stones at People in Courts of Law. People will always judge others, and no one can never change that.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Under oath in court may not be the best comparison. Either way you seem to realize that being so judgmental isn’t a good thing. Why not choose to be better than those that want to throw stones and judge? Just because others do something doesn’t make it right.

          And absolutely a DUI is taking the lives of people around you at risk. But humans make mistakes. Luckily the only One’s opinion who matters isn’t the judgmental type. Forgiveness and tolerance is where it’s at.

  • John_CC

    I used to think no way would they sign Ellsbury or any 30 year old to a longish multi-year contract. But Hoyer has said multiple times how they know they need leadership in the dugout. They traded their veteran leaders last year. Leaders = veterans. If they can get Boras to come down in years I think they would consider Ellsbury. At 7 years though there is no way. I think 5 is too many but I can’t image Boras going below 5 on a 30 year old player. Maybe they can get creative with options and extensions.

    • Dorasaga

      I would sign Jacob with 4 yrs at 52M + 2 yrs of mutual option at 30M.

      A worse scenario would be dumping half of this contract for an injury-prone, no speed centerfielder who can field and bunt, occasional gap power, but not a threat at plate without man on base. He could be typical number 5 or 6 down a lineup; aging player to the norm.

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  • Rational Logic

    Curious about the day games being the reason for the Cubs home losing record. I don’t really buy it, they opponents play on the same schedule, so it would cancel out, just leaving a bad product.

    • triple

      I think it does have a slight impact on their home record, but more likely a larger impact on their overall record. The Cubs play many more day games than all the other teams. Not only that, they play them in a place that is hot and humid during the summer. You ever work out in the sun, heat, and humidity? That can wear you out a lot faster than doing the same thing in cooler temperatures during the evening. Just being out in the sun all day will make you tired!

      Why would this hit the Cubs harder than a visiting team coming to town who has been playing night games, maybe even in an air-conditioned indoor stadium? Check out this scenario: 10 game homestand late July at Wrigley. Cubs play a 3 game series (Fri, Sat, Sun – all day games) followed by a 4 game series. Monday is a night game, but Tues, Wed, and Thursdays games are day games. Now your next oppenent (the Mets) for Friday’s 1:20 game just had an off-day on Thursday. They just played a 3 game series in Miami in a domed and air conditioned park. Monday and Tuesday were night games, and Wed was a day game (get-away day), and they flew overnight from Miami after Wed’s game, and have all day Thursday off to relax in Chicago. They arrive fresh to the ballpark and kick the Cubs ass in the first 3 innings because Chris Volstad pitched just like Chris Volstad knows how to pitch. Five relief pitchers get used because the Cubs got a wind-blown grandslam but still lost by a run. Now the next day our bullpen is overused and the manager is now managing his bullpen based on availability instead of strategy. Who’s more likely to take game 2 of this Saturday afternoon game now?

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        It is much tiring to play back to back to back games in the heat, which the Cubs do more than any other team in the league. I’m not saying that’s the reason for all the futility, most of it is PK Wrigley and other owners content to allow the fans to pack the house for bad teams. But it is a disadvantage, that is for sure.

        • Rational Logic

          I see both of your arguments for the cumulative effect, but I don’t think it holds much weight. If the Cubs played an opponent only 1 time, it would have weight, but the fact that they’re often 3 and 4 games series would make it more fair.

          Also, the fact that pitchers pitch only one game, and players get off days doesn’t help the argument, either. Furthermore, a lot of games are played in fair weather, during April, May, sometimes June.

          I don’t necessarily completely disagree, I just think it’s a weak excuse for a bad product.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            You make some good points. I just think it stands to reason that by the end of the season Cubs players may be a little more worn out than others. They will have played at least 15-20 more day games than anyone else in baseball. Players, after leaving the Cubs, have talked about it and said how happy they were to not play all the day games anymore and they feel more rested at the end of the season. I guess you could write them all off as whiners but in reality it’s a pretty consistent theme.

          • Rational Logic

            Haha maybe…just proves we need to continue to dump old, aging and sweaty veterans for in-shape, energetic, and youthful players!

          • triple

            Agree 100%

          • Dorasaga

            Unfortunately for the fans, the only solution would be moving out of Wrigleyville, for a new home at a town that “tolerates” night baseball.

  • mutantbeast

    Sorry, but Ellsbury and BoreUs want the big$. I dont want a Carl Crawford-type contract to dump in 2 yrs because we need someplace for the incoming bomb sqaud.

    • SuzyS

      No worries, Ellsbury will want to sign with someone that has a chance to win. It’s a non-issue…just something fun to talk about.