Cubs Working on the Big League Roster, Focus on the Minors and Other News and Rumors

Weekend Update

It could be a very busy 72 hours throughout the game leading up to Christmas, especially if the Rakuten Eagles finally make a decision, one way or the other, to post Masahiro Tanaka. Players prefer to know where they will be playing prior to the holidays and there are several free agents still unsigned for next season.

The last high-dollar, long-contract, free-agent position player of the off-season came off the board on Saturday when Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers. The addition of Choo, along with acquiring Prince Fielder this winter, likely takes Texas out of the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka, if he is posted, according to Joel Sherman. Ken Rosenthal reported the same as Sherman and indicated the Rangers are out on the Tanaka derby with the addition of Choo according to his sources.

Jed Hoyer reiterated the Cubs are working on ways to improve the big league roster. And while he did not mention any deals or signings being relatively close, Hoyer did indicate it could be an active January for the Cubs.

The Cubs technically have one spot open on the 40-man roster. The team has not announced the one-year deal with Jose Veras that was agreed to last week. The one-year contract includes a club option for the 2015 season and it will be announced once Veras has passed his physical. With what transpired in Baltimore between the Orioles and Grant Balfour proves an agreement is just that until a contract is actually signed and announced by the team.

The front office added more players to their minor league roster and non-roster invite list to Spring Training this past week. The signings of LHP Jonathan Sanchez and LHP Tsuyoshi Wada are intriguing and could turn out to be low risk signings that pay dividends for the organization down the road. Sanchez will compete for a spot in the Cubs’ pen in Spring Training and with the way the roster is currently constructed, Wada figures to be Chris Rusin’s main competition for a spot in the Cubs’ rotation.

The Cubs are believed to be talking to the Yankees about Darwin Barney, listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija with the Blue Jays still seen as a possibility and they are thought to be receiving calls (or texts) about Nate Schierholtz.

In other news, the Cubs announced the minor league managers, staffs and coordinators for the 2014 season this past week. The front office did not make any changes with their minor league skippers from last year. Marty Pevey (Triple-A Iowa), Buddy Bailey (Double-A Tennessee), Dave Keller (High-A Daytona), Mark Johnson (Low-A Kane County) and Gary Van Tol (Short-Season, Low-A Boise) were all retained.

The biggest changes on the coaching front in the Cubs’ system were the pitching coach assignments.

Bruce Walton replaced Mike Mason as Iowa’s pitching coach. Brian Lawrence was hired to coach the pitching staff in Boise and former Cubs’ top prospect Angel Guzman took a full time job as the pitching coach for the Venezuela Cubs.

The front office promoted Storm Davis, Ron Villone and David Rosario up a level to help keep the pitchers that made progress under their tutelage last season going in the right direction. Davis moved up a level from Daytona to Tennessee for the 2014 season. And Davis figures to have an excellent staff to work with next year. Ron Villone replaces Davis in Daytona after he spent the 2013 season in Kane County and David Rosario was promoted from Boise to Kane County, and like Davis, on paper Rosario will have a very good staff in Kane County next season.

As for the hitting coaches, Brian Harper will remain in Iowa, Desi Wilson in Tennessee and Mariano Duncan will return to Daytona. Tom Beyers and Bill Buckner will handle the hitting coach duties for the Cougars and the Hawks.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro is making off-season headlines for all of the wrong reasons. Castro is coming off the worst season of his professional career and took several steps back in his development. Castro is a big-time talent, one that has collected 692 hits at the big league level before the ripe old age of 24. The Cubs see Castro as part of the team’s core moving forward and the front office realizes the importance of getting him back on track.

Theo Epstein explained during the meetings with the season-ticket holders last month that Castro called one day and asked for Tim Buss to be sent to the Dominican to work with Castro to get him back in shape. Epstein put Buss on the plane the next day.

Starlin Castro has been in the majors for the best part of the last four seasons and he will be playing for his fourth different manager … and third different coaching staff. Castro mentioned at the end of last season he was going to stop listening to everyone that was trying to help him and just go back to playing the way he did.

But was Starlin Castro being distracted last year by off the field problems?

A report earlier in the week indicated Castro had one of his bank accounts in the Dominican frozen due to a contract Castro’s father signed when he was only 16 years old. According to the reports, Castro’s father “allegedly signed a contract promising three percent of the shortstop’s big league earnings to go to a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.” The $60 million contract extension he signed in 2012 triggered the contract and the baseball academy claimed he owed them $1.8 million.

Reportedly under Dominican law, twice the amount owed in a lawsuit can be frozen until the matter is resolved. Castro is fighting the claim and has issued a countersuit claiming his father “did not have the right to sign away his earnings past age 18.”

Paul Sullivan reported on Saturday night the lawsuit has affected Starlin Castro’s performance on the field to the point that part of the countersuit indicates the ordeal “has had a direct impact on his duties as a professional ballplayer, leading to one of his worst-ever statistical performances.”

Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told Sullivan that the issue will not impact Castro on the field moving forward because “he has known about it since last year and has gone through so much already.”

Minor Signings

The Cubs officially added four players to their list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training this past week. So here is an updated list of players the front office has signed to minor league contracts this winter.

Pitchers

  • RHP Paolo Espino
  • LHP Tommy Hottovy (NRI)
  • RHP Carlos Pimentel
  • LHP Jonathan Sanchez (NRI)
  • LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (NRI)

Catchers

  • John Baker (NRI)
  • Eli Whiteside (NRI)

Infielders

  • Walter Ibarra
  • Ryan Roberts (NRI)
  • Chris Valaika (NRI)
  • Jeudy Valdez

Outfielders

  • Aaron Cunningham (NRI)
  • Ryan Kalish (NRI)
  • Darnell McDonald (NRI)
  • Mitch Maier (NRI)
  • Casper Wells (NRI)

NRI – Player received Non-Roster Invitation to Major League Spring Training

News and Notes

According to Baseball America, the Giants signed former Cubs’ RHP Casey Weathers to a minor league contract. And the Rangers inked RHP Justin Germano and IF/OF Brent Lillibridge to minor league deals.

With Shin-Soo Choo agreeing to terms with the Rangers, Jeff Passan pointed out on Twitter that teams have guaranteed approximately $1.543 billion to free agents this winter. American League teams account for $1.13 billion and National League teams have spent $409.18 million. Passan broke out the spending to the point that minus Jhonny Peralta’s deal with the Cardinals, NL Central teams have spent $24.95 million this winter. Passan reported on Saturday night that MLB teams are on pace to spend more than $2 billion this off-season.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

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

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  • raymondrobertkoenig

    Seems like it’s always something with Castro.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Well, there goes the 2014 Starlin Castro right down the sewer. And his career may never
    fulfill the promise of it’s first two years. So sad.

    New culture. Can’t handle the dough. Immorality. Team Theo trying to rework his entire approach
    at the plate. Money tired up in court. Another bad year at the plate coming.

    • Ripsnorter1

      If he keeps it up, Barney will be the new SS.

      • J Daniel

        Don’t think it will be Barney. Probably Baez at short and Alcantara at second. Olt/Bryant at third with Rizzo at first. Young promising infield.

        I know the debates on Rizzo. He is young so let’s see how he does next year or so. Hopefully with better players around him it will help as well. He can always be dealt to make room for Vogelbach or whoever. Players can almost always be moved and his contract, although a good one, is nothing compared to a lot of them.

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

          Agree, and the guy hit 24 dongs in his first full year in MLB. Pretty dang good I believe. No reason to not expect improvement.

          If Castro can get hot at all in the early part of the season I think he’ll be traded. It would be the right move. It’s always something with him. Maybe his life will level out and he’ll reach his potential, but he plays a position of strength and he is one problem after another. Cut your losses and get some impact pitching in return.

          • triple

            I don’t know if I’d be so quick to trade Castro if he gets off to a hot start. Remember he isn’t even 24 yet, and shows that he has the kind of offensive skills to earn 3k hits. And consider that his short 4 year career has been cluttered with allegations, financial, and legal issues which leaves his career totals as showing 2 great years, and then 2 not so good years (2012 was still a pretty good year although I refer to it as not so good because that’s when he started to falter). Perhaps all of this coupled with some bad coaching has caused his production to lower. These type of players just don’t come along too often. This kid has been through alot over the last couple years which is making him grow up fast. When he is able to put all these past issues behind him, something tells me that he can be a stand up MLB baseball player and completely worth his contract.

            Now having said all that, if guys like Baez, Olt, Bryant, Alcantara, and Villanueva begin to cause a log jam for the Cubs infield, then depending how Castro is playing in 2015/16 I could see that being a consideration, but if Castro is playing well, I would think that the prospects would be traded as they are no sure thing anyway.

    • Tony_Hall

      Actually, why not just the opposite. This should be cleared up soon and be behind him (he is going to win the case as even in the Dominican, a parent can’t promise anything like this for a 16 year old past their 18th birthday). I expect Castro to have his best season this year.

      • John_CC

        Because Tony, the glass is ALWAYS half EMPTY!

        • cubtex

          Isn’t your glass always half empty with EVERY team who improves during the offseason with a big free agent hire??? lol

      • GaryLeeT

        Have you ever been to the DR? I have been there 5 times. It is just short of a 3rd world country, and is the quintessential Banana Republic.

        • Tony_Hall

          No I haven’t, I know a few people who have and that is how I have heard it described. Of course don’t know what your trips there matter or how far behind the country is matters to this legal case and their law.

          • GaryLeeT

            Well, I now how they would deal oney before any case was heard, is about what one would expect.

          • Tony_Hall

            Nice edit.

            I hope you enjoyed your trips, but usually first hand, real life account of what happens takes more than 1 sentence.

    • cubtex

      I disagree. I think Castro will have a great year. No Sveum. No changing his approach. Renteria being a good communicator. A lot of positives for him to be the old Starlin.

      • Tony_Hall

        Tex, did you just notice the liquid in the bottom half of your glass?

        • cubtex

          Dominican coffee from Castro’s village. I have always been a Castro fan.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Neil.
    I am getting these pop up TV ads in the lower corner of my screen on this site.
    The ads are about 3″X2″ videos.

    Has my computer got a virus, or is that part of the CCO these days?

    • J Daniel

      Has to be part of the advertising, I get them as well.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Rip, its Google and supposed to be clean. If you have any problems with the ad bringing a virus please let me know.

      • Tony_Hall

        They are just annoying. The X to close it disappears if you don’t catch it right away and then you have to wait “watch” until it pops back up.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Tony, I am working on other ad alternatives. I’m sorry they are annoying. Right now I have to use them in order to keep the site up … those darn hosting fees.

          • Tony_Hall

            I have no problem with that. They are better than the old pop up ads that covered up your screen. It would be better if the X would just stay there so you can close it, but advertisers will keep trying to find ways to get hits to their sites.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Thanks man. I appreciate everyone’s understanding with the ads.

          • Ripsnorter1

            No sweat about the ads, Neil. Keep the site up. : )

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Thanks man

          • calicub

            Neil,
            Do you get paid based on site hits on CCO or clicks on ads on the CCO? I ask because I’d gladly visit more advertisers on this site if it meant CCO gets more funding.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Man, I appreciate it. Under agreement I cannot say which one is better for the site. I can say both help.

      • triple

        Neil,

        I don’t know if it’s something with my mac, but since those videos starting appearing in the bottom corner, I very frequently get a message popping up that reads:

        “Safari can’t verify the identity of the website “ver-adt-cm.vindicosuite.com. The certificate for this website was signed by an unkown certifying authority. You might be connecting to a website that is pretending to be ver-adt-cm.vindicosuite.com, which could put your confidential information at risk. Would you like to connect to the website anyway?”

        I always hit the “cancel” button instead of “continue,” but then the message just keeps popping up!

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          I will check into it. You are the first one to report an error message. Sorry about that.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          I was able to contact someone today. They are checking. Please email me directly so I can tell you what they figured out.

          • triple

            Neil, I used the “contact” link here to send you a message. Just wondering if you’ve gotten it yet?

        • Sonate

          FYI_ I also use a MAC and while I’ve had the videos streaming, I have not (yet) gotten the message pop-up.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Thank you for letting me know. I really appreciate it.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Its those damn Communist hackers ! They are taking over the internet.

      • calicub

        Nothing in this world is free. You gotta pay the piper at some point. To have a free service available like the CCO I’d gladly suffer through a few ads

  • GaryLeeT

    Castro needs some serious financial advise. To leave that amount of assets in a Banana Republic, is moronic. To leave that much there in liquid assets, is insane.

    • J Daniel

      I am sure he is getting some but you know how that goes … a lot of people don’t listen and think they are the smartest person in the room.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Starlin needs to keep his Dad away from his business affairs!

  • Eugene Debs

    Sometimes it hits me how automatic a 100 loss 2014 season is and I laugh, weep, and go numb.

    • GaryLeeT

      Me too, except for the weep part. I get mad, but not too mad. It is still only just a game, and in the grand scheme of life, and its import, it’s a pretty small part of it.

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

        Totally disagree, I think a .500 season is a distinct possibility. I know everyone thinks I’m too optimistic but I like some of our potential. If guys like Ruggiano have god years we will be alright.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Everyone on the CCO loves the Boardrider, but you are optimistic, I think.
          : )

        • Eugene Debs

          I wish I could agree and I hope you are right!

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

            Here is the key for me. Castro hitting .300 and Rizzo with same power numbers but average around .250-260. If those two happen I believe the role players can do their part. Sweeney, Ruggiano, Schierholtz…

            Oh and Castillo slightly better than last year. Castro, Rizzo and Castillo will key the batting for us.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Hey starlin…I feel bad for ya son..I got 99 problems but seized assets aint one.

    • paulcatanese

      He should pay it and move on, have a great year and get more dollars, that’s the way the game goes. Money, money, money.

      • SuzyS

        Yes…the money is hitting the stratosphere in FA….and then some.
        Supply and demand…but it is hard to get a handle on it anymore.

        • cubtex

          Except there must be a cloud over Chicago’s North Side where money can’t penetrate the stratosphere.

      • Tony_Hall

        No he should not. He should let his lawyer take care of business.

        “Robert Martinez, one of Castro’s attorneys, said in a phone call from the Dominican Republic that the contract was “absurd and illegal … (in large part) because Dominican law prohibits a parent from promising anything from a child beyond 18 years of age.””

        This was from Paul Sullivan’s article in the Tribune.

        • John_CC

          Yeah, just giving in and paying off crooks, cheats, and scammers is exactly what they want. It only encourages the bad behavior.

        • paulcatanese

          I keep posting a response Tony, but it gets knocked off each time.
          Not worth the effort to do it again. Let it be that you are right,,but I think otherwise.

          • Dorasaga

            Paul, this is professional sports, an entertainment business, although I know the Federal judges disagreed when they ruled Curt Flood wrong (wink). Without the money, money, and more money, the league would die, and teams would fold.

            It happened before. During the 1880s, WWI, and 1920. More recent events in Asia are good warnings to what could have happened to baseball around the world. The pros in Taiwan were too heavily tied with gangs and fixed games all the time. Money rarely flown back to the club, but to the . They are now down to 4 teams in Taiwan, from 12 in the 1990s. Korea had a different problem, the Asian economy crisis started within the country, and during the last decade was down to 8 teams.

            I prefer Epstein and Hoyer’s strategy right now. They are trying to spend with prudence and smart, monopolyzing the international free agents but letting go of established pitchers past age-30. There seems like never enough money, but they are limited, and shouldn’t be given to crooks.

        • paulcatanese

          I’ll try this again Tony. Did it ever occur to anyone that this was a or could have been a planned move on the part of the Castro family?
          If they were stupid enough to take that deal for the baseball academy and not realize that they would have to pay back a percentage, ignorance is no excuse.
          If they did know what was going on and figured because of the law and 18 year olds not having to pay back, it’s a scam.
          Both ways, just pay it and move on. I cannot believe no one was aware of the end result when they did it..

          • Tony_Hall

            Did it ever occur to you that their story is true? They say they knew they had to pay 3% of Castro’s signing bonus for getting off the island, that’s it. They are saying they were scammed into signing this based on that and but the wording said forever. Think about it, do you think the Academy is more into the ways of trying to take advantage of young guys and their families trying to get off the island and make it the majors or that Castro’s family was trying to take advantage of the Academy. Who wrote the agreement tells you who?

            Ignorance is no excuse, but just because it is written doesn’t make it legal.

          • paulcatanese

            Could be Tony, as I cannot know what truly took place.
            A lawyer (honest one) at that time could have avoided all of it.

          • Tony_Hall

            That is the point, the Castro’s obviously didn’t have a lawyer and trusted this baseball academy to do what was right for Starlin. Doesn’t make it legal, to add in illegal conditions to a contract.

          • paulcatanese

            To add to that, I wonder how many other 16 year olds from that country have signed the same type of contract. Can’t imagine Castro was the only one.
            Not saying the family was wrong, but how many 16 year olds make it to the majors from there? The odds were in their favor to risk it going to the academy

  • Dorasaga

    Angel Guzman, only five to six years ago we were discussing whether he can come back from injury and pitch gems again for the Cubs. How time flies.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      same will be said about Alberto Cabrera.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Guzman pitched gem games?????
      You maybe thinking of Mike Harkey!

    • cubtex

      Angel Guzman has been reincarnated into Arodys Vizcaino

      • Ripsnorter1

        Ain’t that the truth, except Guzman was healthier.

    • Dorasaga

      And with CCO’s brilliant search function, I found out that the last time Angel was still relevant to the Cubs future was pre-season (March), 2009. So, just a mere four years ago. It felt like ages. That’s what everybody felt during the last regime. Every year, two to three moves away, a few prospects should become everyday Big leaguers, and so on… C’est la vie d’un Cubbie fan.

      • SuzyS

        Angel would have been a TOR Ace if he could have kept healthy…He was a guy I really rooted for…and was extremely saddened when his brother died in his arms from a gang drive-by in his native land.
        Angel should be able to teach prospects a ton with his life’s experience.
        Steve Stone once thought Angel Guzman would be one of the top SP in baseball….Too bad.

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    I have mixed feelings about Castro. I really hope he gets it together on and off the field. The assault charges, the on field decline, and now this.

  • John_CC

    I always wonder about the role of the agent is situations like Castro’s. We know that agents want their players to preform their best so the next contract will be better. But they are also all lawyers and are well commected. Wouldn’t you hope, or least expect, Castro’s agent team to resolve this problem for their client? If not out of altruism (seeing that their client is over his head, does not understand, need help!) then simply to get his game back on track.

  • cubtex

    Good read. This guy was a clown and one terrible hire!

    CSN’s Top 13 of ’13: Firing Sveum showed absurdities of Cubs job and cracks in The Foundation for Sustained Success. http://bit.ly/1icatmK

    • cubtex

      That being said….. I think they got it right with Renteria.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        c’mon… all managers are a crapshoot.
        players need to play well.

        i can’t stand hearing Castro had a tough season because a portion of his millions was being contested, and that was just really really weighing on him mentally.

        Makes me sick. Do your job, keep perspective, or go away. That goes for managers and players.

        pro sports exist solely as a form of entertainment. play well and there is a better chance I will be entertained. Renteria is the furthest thing from my mind on whether the Cubs have a good season or not. They need more talent.

    • Tony_Hall

      You obviously didn’t read the article.

      ———————–
      Sveum also created a professional clubhouse environment. His teams were prepared and played hard. The advance scouting and video analysis turned Darwin Barney into a Gold Glove second baseman and pushed pitchers like Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman to the next level (before they got traded).

      Sveum fronted for the organization, even though he’s not a polished public speaker. He met with the media before and after every game, trying to answer big-picture questions about Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and all the other prospects none of the reporters had ever seen before.

      While the rest of the organization could celebrate Baseball America rankings – or a Forbes report that ranked the Cubs as the game’s most profitable franchise – Sveum and his staff had to wear it.

      • cubtex

        Here…Let me help you out with what I was talking about.

        The president of baseball operations met with a few beat writers in
        the small waiting room that leads into Miller Park’s visiting clubhouse,
        steps away from the dugout where Sveum threatened to send core players
        Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to Triple-A Iowa in April.

        The Milwaukee Brewers had been a huge part of Sveum’s identity as the
        organization that made him a first-round pick in 1982 and convinced the
        Pinole Valley High School (Calif.) quarterback to turn down a
        scholarship to Arizona State University.

        Sveum played with Robin Yount and Paul Molitor at Milwaukee County
        Stadium, figuring out a way to survive as a utility guy after a freak
        leg injury sapped so much athleticism. He later helped coach up Prince
        Fielder and Ryan Braun, developing the kind of homegrown core the Cubs
        talk about.

        But the optics were brutal that week, Sveum screaming at $52 million
        pitcher Edwin Jackson, Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija getting into
        it with third-base coach David Bell and closer Kevin Gregg popping off
        to the media.

        Sveum was in the middle of a social-media storm: #AlarmBells #HotSeat #LameDuck.

        “Those twits never lie,” as Sveum once said.

        • cubtex

          Brutal Brutal manager.

        • Tony_Hall

          I don’t see clown and one terrible hire in this article at all.

          • cubtex

            Sorry there are no pictures for you to help you read between the lines

          • Tony_Hall

            Casey Stengal couldn’t have made these last 2 years a winning team and I guarantee he would have yelled at more than just Edwin Jackson and threatened to cut, bench, demote more than just Castro and Rizzo.

          • cubtex

            Managers don’t last very long who lead by fear and can’t communicate. He couldn’t even last on a 3 year deal where he wasn’t judged on wins and losses. He had the safest mlb job in baseball and he couldn’t even finish it out.

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

            Sveum threw his players under the bus in public. Not gonna be a good run doing that. A guy like Francona may light a player up in the clubhouse, but in the press he will put al l the blame on himself.

    • John_CC

      I’m not going talk about his in game managerial skills because that is pointless. And he was the wrong guy for the job, fine. But it is not fair to call him a clown.

      • cubtex

        Clown in reference to the circus year. His lineups. His handling of Castro. His double standards by punishing one player and not another for making the same mistakes on the base paths. Not playing Watkins. The way he handled Vitters. I can go on and on. I stand by my statement.

        • SuzyS

          That’s the cool thing about this site…You can put YOUR opinion out there….and be respected for it…Even if our opinions are different.
          Personally, I think Sveum was a good baseball man put in a near impossible situation. No one can stand up to the daily grind of Losing, day in, day out for very long.
          If given another chance…Sveum may turn out to be a great manager after his miserable OJT learning experience with the Cubs.

        • triple

          By that definition, it sounds like Svuem, Quade, Pinella, and Baker were all clowns.

          • Ripsnorter1

            IMO, that is not far from the truth.
            Lou quit managing, for some inexplicable reason, in mid-2008. Up to that point,
            he was GREAT. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. AND…I still don’t get it.

            Baker: he can’t manage a game to save his life. He’s some kind of clubhouse
            peacemaker, and is loved and hired by owners for one reason only–and that reason
            has nothing to do with his skills in managing a game.

            Quade & Sveum: Quade is very similar to Baker in that he hates young players, favoring
            the veterans over the rookies. Quade is similar to Pinella in that both have large tempers.
            And Quade is similar to Sveum in that he could not manage a game or develop young players.
            Quade had the worst of every kind of world.

            Sveum: His lineups. His handling of Castro. His double standards by punishing one player and not another for making the same mistakes on the base paths. Not playing Watkins. The way he handled Vitters. The way he handled Brett Jackson. And he probably did everything according to Team Theo.
            In short, he took the fall for Team Theo’s calls.

  • cubtex

    This will be hard to watch. I really thought they were WS bound that year. I can still see Garvey taking Lee Smith deep to right field.

    The @Padres will bring back their brown (white top) 1984 uniforms for the whole May 22-25th series vs. the #Cubs. pic.twitter.com/GI93kBAgeH

    • SuzyS

      Yep…too hard to watch. They should have won that year. The pitching just wore out…big time.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        they were pretty light behind Sutcliffe, if we are honest with ourselves. Steve Trout and Scott Sanderson are #4’s at best, Eckersley was not at the top of his game when we had him, and Ruthven, Rainey, and Reuschel (the Killer R’s!! Ummm) rounded out the rotation.

        This is why 2003 and 2004 kill me. 2004 especially: Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, and Clement. Holy Cow, indeed.

    • triple

      One thing that really pisses me off about ’84 is how the commissioner handed our homefield advantage right over to the Padres, yet in this era of baseball, there are many playoff day games that sure seam to sell plenty of tickets. As if these games in Chicago would not have sold enough tickets, advertising, and made a bunch of money.

      • Bredstik

        That always bothered me too. That goofy setup where the Cubs got the first 2 games at home but the last 3 were in SD never made any sense to me. That they changed the format and this was the last best-of-5 NLCS didn’t help either. Can’t help but wonder what might have happened had there been a game 6 & 7 in Chicago.

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

    I know we would like more signings this year of impact players, but I believe the FO has a budget for themselves and if a player costs more than a certain amount he won’t be added. I do believe next year could be when we start adding impact players. It makes sense to me that the youngsters won’t be too far behind at that point so anybody theyh add can have an impact in 2016 and beyond. I think the plan is to be competitive by 2016 and be title contenders by 2017 and beyond. I don’t expect any big contracts will be given to players that will be beyond their prime by 2018-1019. Thus no Choo, Ellsbury, etc. In 2015 they could sign players that can play now but will still be uber productive 5 years from now.

    That is what I believe the plan to be. We may wish it was now, but it isn’t what they are planning. I think when we are perennial contenders in 2017 and beyond it will have all been worth it. If anyone wants off the bandwagon now, take the leap. But for those of us willing to be patient will will earn dividends. This is a hard time to go through but it is part of a bigger picture. Call it a small market rebuild or whatever but it’s a tough call to make and some smart long term moves are being made. Many others have tried similar and it not work out so there is no guarantee. What they are trying to pull off is very difficult and in some ways has never been done before. But if it works out we will have a decade similar or better to the Red Sox of late. Relative to 100 years of futility, what’s waiting another year? I do believe in 2015 we’ll be fun to watch. Honestly I think if chips fall for us we will be fun to watch this year. I think we can be a .500 team if Sweeney, Castro, Rizzo, Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Olt, Castillo, Arietta, Wood, Strop and others play like they are capable. Some may underachieve, unnamed players may overachieve. But I think we have enough players to be fun to watch. Go Cubs!

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      2016? I think they better plan on being competitive in the 2015 season (next year) or that would be a joke to still be rebuilding. All prospects are risk. You have to have more of a plan than “go for it when our prospects are good”.

      Here is a perfectly plausible scenario: Soler is a bust (ala Felix Pie), Almora is just ok…good defensively but barely above Darwin Barney at the plate. Javier Baez is a stud player, but a mix of Zambrano and Milton Bradley and derails his own development and career. Kris Bryant suffers a concussion from a fluke baserunning collision, which also dislocates his shoulder, leading to endless stints on the DL.

      So if those BIg 4 don’t pan out, the FO plan is to just keep waiting?? No…at some point you have to put on your mlb big-boy pants and field a competitive team.

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

        They are taking a chance, going all in for a big payoff. It’s their choice and they are sticking to it. Could be that 2 of those prospects turn into all-stars, or maybe 1 or all. You will never win a World Series stacking a lineup with free agents. By design they are guys that will cost more than they are worth. You have to build a farm system which we have in spades now. Torres, Jimenez, many good young guys that can be used in trades. I would imagine of our “big 4,” at least 2 will go in packages to bring in players that are young but established.

        And I think we’ll be a good team in 2015, probably not a World Series winner but a good, fun to watch up and coming team.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          It is so laughable to have to say we will be “a good team…probably not a World Series winner”.

          I am perfectly happy with successful teams that win a lot in regular season and win a playoff game or two. There are 30 teams in MLB? If they all won a WS as easily as Team Theo apparently will, then every team would wait 30 years between WS championships.

          The Yankees, Red Sox, and even Marlins have won via FA’s in the past 10-15 years.

          The Cubs were competitive in 2007-2008 (years I enjoyed watching them, btw) with FA’s and a core from trades and the farm (Z, Aramis, DLee).

          This idea that Theo has a “proven” formula is laughable…it is all a crapshoot. Jim Frey, Don Zimmer, Dusty Baker, Lou Pinella…all won Division titles. You won’t find a common thread.

          I hope these kids are good. But I remember being told by Aaron how incredibly awesome our farm was since the CCO started…I don’t see any of those guys around: Colvin, Guzman, Pie, EPat, Murton, DuBois, and an endless number of pitching prospects like Sean Gallagher who never panned out.

          They have dropped the ball on BJax and Vitters…by not trying to catch lightning in a bottle and starting them or trading them when they still had value. What other prospects will they drop the ball on?

        • cubtex

          that is really the only thing I see happening. They need to make a blockbuster deal. They need to trade a top prospect or a Castro/Rizzo/Wood to help an area of weakness.

      • Eugene Debs

        There is no way we are one year from competing.

    • cubtex

      Where will they find these impact players to add next year? Not in free agency since there won’t be any. It will have to be thru trade or international free agency.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Here is something I don’t get about this lack of activity this off-season: who are they going to flip for assets at the deadline?

    Obviously Shark would be the big trade chip. Schierholtz? Seriously…the haul you get from flipping him would be pretty small.

    EJax? Possibly…if he has a solid 1st half.
    Castro/Rizzo? Assume not Rizzo…but maybe Castro? Kind of hits the reset button a bit though if you do that.

    Veres? I could see that…low contract terms, so if he is closing well, a team could bite on that.

    Really though, outside of Shark, I don’t understand what the mlb plan is this year. Last year, although it sucked to watch, at least I understood it: we were going to trade Garza, Feldman, Soriano. Baker was supposed to be an asset to flip, but stayed injured too long. I was a bit surprised we didn’t trade more players actually.

    Seems like we are signing a bunch of AAAA guys that won’t garner a lot back in trade…so not sure what we are doing, except killing time on the cheap.

    Killing time on the cheap…that is all I can come up with to explain this roster.

    • cubtex

      They have not added quality everyday trade chips. Instead of adding the Valbuena’sDeJesus,Schierholtz,Sweeney,
      Ruggiano. None of these players have or had much value. If the plan is to fill the team with short term assets to flip and build the team long term…you have to add better players to flip.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        exactly…so either a ton of moves are yet to come to yield those types of assets or the disheartening reality may simply be they plan on mailing in the entire year, including the trade deadline. (with exception of Shark)

        • cubtex

          Does anyone really think that Schierholtz or Sweeney will bring back a significant return? So why start them? How about Valbuena? Barney? Will signing Joel Pineiro interest a contending team at the trade deadline? As you said…it is killing time while losing and keeping the spots open so IF and WHEN a prospect they could be brought up.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        why not sign Beltran, Colon, Morneau…pick up the closer Baltimore passed on…procure a ton of talent on 1 or 2 year deals that have name value and could easily have a good first-half, and then flip, flip, flip to your hearts content.

        Then you still have a bad record 2nd half, thereby yielding a good draft pick, yet you give the fans something entertaining by watching some quality players (passed their prime, sure) to root for.

        • cubtex

          No way Beltran or Colon would have signed here but the idea of adding better players is 100% valid.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            players sign for money.
            Plus…if you sign knowing the Cubs are going to likely trade you to a contender, I don’t see how they would look at that as a bad thing.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I think we should sign Garza…

    We already know how to trade him for a huge haul, and he pitches well for us.

    Here is the thing…it almost doesn’t matter how much we pay him.

    My reasoning is that the goal is to acquire volume and quality assets that either are young and mlb-ready, or very close to mlb-ready, correct?

    Guys like that are not easy to find, and when you do it organically, it takes a long time. But say we sign Garza to a 5 year $85m deal.

    He goes 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA in the first half, and the Dodgers or RedSox are in the playoff hunt but have a need for a starter. The Cubs can swoop in with Garza, offer to pay $4m/per year of his contract, in exchange for one of the top prospects.

    This is a bit what they did with Soriano, but in the case of Garza, we are talking about a player in their prime who is actually good. So you should be able to do much better in terms of the quality you get back.

    If you are willing to pay $20m in posting fees, plus $100m in contract to sign an unproven Tanaka, or you are willing to pay Soler $30m as an unproven talent, why not just view the costs of all our contracts as the same as cash?

    I think the Cubs should sign Garza, Jimenez, and Santana…sign all 3, and flip all 3.

    If you are the Cubs FO and hesitant to spend money on payroll, then think of this as spending money to acquire talent.

    Why are we so quick to throw money at Japanese and Cuban players that are unproven…why not do the same thing, via signing quality/expensive FA’s purposely to be trade chips?

    • cubtex

      You would not have to give up a draft pick to sign Garza. He will immediately be the best pitcher on the staff. He will have value and continue to have value for the next couple of years. Cubs have a huge need for a TOR starter.
      I would like to hear an argument on why you wouldn’t want to sign Garza?

      • Tony_Hall

        You won’t hear it from me. I wanted to extend Garza and signing him back would be the best of both worlds.

        But ask yourself this, as you have stated many times, why would Garza want to sign back with the Cubs and be at the mercy of where they trade him, versus being able to sign where he wants to play? Assuming the money is all going to be in the same range. Plus that team could trade him as well to contender if they fall out at some point in the contract.

        • cubtex

          I agree. It won’t happen. He would in all likelihood want at least a limited no trade contract.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Cano isn’t in Seattle for the weather…

          Money talks.

    • Tony_Hall

      The Cubs FO does look at players as assets (cash). Why would the players you are mentioning give up their right to pick which team gets to pay them a lot of money, so that they can sign with the Cubs, help the Cubs get more prospects and allow the Cubs to choose where they play after being traded? They wouldn’t. That is why the Maholm’s, Feldman’s, Baker’s, etc have been the type of players they have signed. Players who they can offer a chance to rebuild their value, while the Cubs benefit by trading them if they do.

      • cubtex

        They have to sign the Feldman’s Bakers etc because players like that don’t have many other options. No team looking to win would promise them a spot in their rotation to rebuild their value. Only a losing team would do that.

        • Tony_Hall

          I believe that is what I posted.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        If they offer the most money, or equal to the top offer out there, they will sign plenty of top FA’s.

        I just don’t believe they try to get these guys. They are trying too hard for the buy low, hope for lightning in a bottle, and sell high.

        I wish they would go for a buy high / sell high approach to asset acquisition.

        Again…I see this as no different than throwing money at Tanaka. If they control a top asset (like Garza last year) they will net valuable assets in a trade.

        You get more for Garza than you do for Feldman…pretty simple. The only difference is you have to pay more if you use the Garza method. But I assume, by their paying for Soler, that they view some prospects as worth more than others…so paying the extra amount to have a guy like Garza on the roster this year would seem to be worth it.

        Could he get injured? Sure. Could all the Cubs prospects flop? Sure.

        Seems a fair risk to take, for a big-market ball club.

        • Tony_Hall

          We would have to pay more than what they sign for by at least 10% if not 20% and most of these guys would want NTC so they can control where they get traded.

          If not for the NTC, this would actually be a smart way to go, but no player like you have mentioned would say yes and end up getting traded where they don’t want to go, when they can choose where they end up now.

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