Tanaka Posts, Samardzija Wants to Stay with the Cubs and Other News and Rumors

The Rakuten Golden Eagles announced on Tuesday night they will grant Masahiro Tanaka’s request and allow him to jump to the majors next season. Rakuten formally posted Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday (Thursday in Japan) and the bidding is expected to begin very soon. Rakuten applied the maximum release fee, $20 million, to Tanaka. Under the new posting system that means any team willing to commit to the release fee will be able to negotiate a contract with Tanaka. Teams still have only 30 days in which to negotiate with and sign Tanaka to a contract. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported Masahiro Tanaka posting will begin Thursday morning (Dec. 26) and will be completed by January 24 at 5:00 pm ET (4:00pm CST).

Masahiro Tanaka announced Casey Close will be his agent on Wednesday. Close also represents the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Reports have suggested Masahiro Tanaka is looking at a contract somewhere between $100 and $150 million, plus the release fee, and estimates on the length of the contract has been from four to seven years.

The Cubs are expected to be all in on Tanaka, and landing him could also influence Jeff Samardzija’s future with the team. The Cubs have the money to sign Tanaka, and pay the posting fee. Some think the Cubs will not be outbid for Tanaka, but the hard part for the front office will be to convince him to pitch for the Cubs and not the Yankees or Dodgers.

During last month’s meetings with the season-ticket holders, Theo Epstein casually said he wished there was free agency for young players. Well, Tanaka fits the Cubs’ plan as well as what Epstein mentioned during the meetings. Tanaka is only 25 years old. It is a big gamble to sign a pitcher to a long-term deal, especially one that has already logged a lot of innings (1315 innings over seven seasons) but once the Cubs begin restoring Wrigley Field, the TV and radio contracts are settled and the restrictions from the sale of the team are behind them, the Cubs will be able to spend like a big market team again.

The Yankees and Dodgers are seen as the frontrunners to land Tanaka, plus the Yankees are reportedly willing to go over their self-imposed salary cap ($189 million) for next season in order to sign him. The Diamondbacks, Mariners and Angels will also be factors and if the Rangers “find” a little more room on their payroll, Texas would like to add Masahiro Tanaka to a staff that already includes Yu Darvish. Plus, there have been rumblings Tanaka would like to pitch on the West Coast, which would obviously put the Dodgers, Angels and even the Mariners at the top of his list. Seattle has an advantage, like Texas with Darvish. Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma were teammates from 2007-2011 with the Eagles.

Jim Bowden did not mention the Cubs as one of the five teams he thinks has the best shot at Masahiro Tanaka. Bowden listed the Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Dodgers and Braves.

The Cubs’ front office has a lot of work to do if they would like to add Ma-Kun to the top of their rotation.

Jeff Samardzija

Patrick Mooney caught up with Jeff Samardzija after his visit with the children at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago on Monday.

Samardzija is hopeful something can be worked out with the Cubs to keep him in Chicago. Samardzija told Mooney that his situation is “not as dire as what it’s all being made out to be” and he acknowledged the front office is “listening and that’s what any team would do on any player.” Samardzija feels “there is still that common ground of what we both want to do.”

Samardzija also understands the delays with the renovations to Wrigley due to city policies and the alderman and he knows there are “a lot of different things that come into this timeline” that are out of his control. He explained that he feels he and the front office are on the same page and everything has been amicable. Samardzija added he feels “like there’s a decision that they need to make about what the plan is and what the future holds.”

Samardzija also pointed out, “The reality is we need to win and we need to win soon. I think the fans are ready for it. I definitely know the players are ready for it. I think the whole quote-unquote ‘rebuilding’ word gets old. And if it isn’t there already, it’s getting there in a hurry. That’s just the truth of the matter. You can only stretch that word so far.”

The days of the Cubs including no-trade clauses in player’s contracts are long gone. Theo Epstein is on record saying he does not believe in them. Samardzija was believed to be looking for a no-trade clause in any long term contract he signed with the Cubs, especially if he signed a team friendly deal. Samardzija had a no-trade clause in his original contract, but when the new regime declined his option following the 2011 season that voided his no-trade clause.

Jeff Samardzija has been working out at the Cubs’ new complex preparing for Spring Training. Samardzija thinks he is better prepared for next year after completing his first full season in a big league rotation. Samardzija also thinks he has “only scratched the surface” on his ability.

The Cubs are believed to be asking for a lot in return for Samardzija and their asking price (in terms of prospects in return) figures to only increase during the season.

Jeff Samardzija wants to stay with the Cubs and win at Wrigley Field.

Bruce Levine tweeted on Wednesday that signing Masahiro Tanaka could impact the Samardzija negotiations. Both the Cubs and Samardzija “may take a new approach” if the Cubs can outbid the field and land Tanaka.

Jesse Crain

Bruce Levine reported on Monday that the Cubs have shown some interest in RHP Jesse Crain and are checking his medicals. The Cubs are not the only team checking on Crain, who finished last season on the DL after an excellent start to the year.

The front office is exploring ways to improve the bullpen and have added Wesley Wright to the mix and agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Jose Veras. The Cubs also spoke with free agent Fernando Rodney and are believed to be looking at LHP Clayton Richard as a piece for the pen. Jonathan Sanchez signed a minor league contract and will compete for a spot in the Cubs’ pen in the spring.

The addition of a healthy Jesse Crain would give the Cubs a much-improved backend of the bullpen. Plus it would allow them to move a reliever like James Russell and give Pedro Strop move time to develop before he is used in high-leverage situations moving forward.

Suk-Min Yoon

The Cubs were one of several teams interested in signing free-agent Korean RHP Suk-Min Yoon. But he returned home last Saturday according to a report from The Korea Times after working out for Major League teams without a contract.

Yoon does not appear to be close to signing a contract according to the report. Yoon’s dream remains to pitch in the majors and has left his negotiations up to his agent Scott Boras. It has been a challenge to this point for Boras to find a team to sign his client.

The Cubs, along with the Twins and Royals, had interest in Yoon, but “the talks haven’t progressed to serious levels” according to the report.

News and Notes

Anthony Rizzo spent a little time on MLB Network Radio last Saturday and discussed his off-season, what is looking to accomplish during the upcoming season, the team’s mental lapses last season and how he and his teammates view trade rumors. Click here for a partial transcript of the interview … it is well worth the read.

Former Cubs’ southpaw, Hisanori Takahashi has returned to Japan and signed a two-year contract with the Yokohama BayStars.

Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to the new facility in Mesa on Feb. 13 … just 49 more days until the beginning of Spring Training.

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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  • Dorasaga

    “Plus, there have been rumblings Tanaka would like to pitch on the West Coast.”

    Sports writers nowadays are less eloquent and not verse-ful as those who hung out with Ernie Harwell. They sure now make as many assumptions as their predecessors.

    Iwakuma always wanted a West Coast team, then why he refused to sign with Oakland and vehemently prodded its lack of offer as a non-gesture of sincerity? Kuroda said yes, twice, to Yankees, an obvious East. The only one who got stuck with the West was Ichiro and his 12 years of no-championship at Seattle, and oh, FYI: $90 million extension for 5 years.

    If Zack G. was right, then I shall misquote the athletic pitcher for his two stolen bases this year: “I could play for the Cubs if they paid the most. Chicago may offer $200 million and Saint Louis $10. Tanaka will go for the last-place and its curse, no matter what happened to the club between 1945 and whenever Back to the Future predicted.”

    Neil, nice touch on your reports; it’s always fun reading your sense of humor, and how you sorted out all these contradictions among baseball, beats me.

    • GaryLeeT

      Good points. Flights from LA or Seattle are still 9 1/2 hours so it’s not like they can jet home on an off day, even from there. The flights are only 3 hours longer from Chicago, so like you said, the proximity thing is a bit overblown..

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

        I think it’s more the community. West coast cities have larger Asian influence…

        • J Daniel

          You are 100% correct!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Jeff Samardzija’s daddy’s name is Cubtex. You want proof? Just listen to him talk:

    “The reality is we need to win and we need to win soon. I think the fans are ready for it. I definitely know the players are ready for it. I think the whole quote-unquote ‘rebuilding’ word gets old. And if it isn’t there already, it’s getting there in a hurry. That’s just the truth of the matter. You can only stretch that word so far.”

    It is so nice to hear a player admit black and white reality–“You can only S-T-R-E-T-C-H that word so far.”

    • Tony_Hall

      You don’t think that Samardzija was using Mooney to get a few things in the press to quote-unquote ‘help’ his side in negotiations.

      • GaryLeeT

        I would think that being the best pitcher on a bad team would help Samardzija’s cause to get more money. So, why would he ask them to spend more money on other players? In reality, I think it’s as much about winning as it is getting paid. I mean, the poor guy, and us fans, just lived though the worst 3 consecutive years in the Cubs 137 years of existence.

        • Tony_Hall

          Yes 3 seasons, yet that first one was still under the old mantra of only 3-4 moves away, let’s go for it “trying to win” Every year that JH did that, put the farm system farther behind.

          That off-season we traded for Garza, signed Pena, made projected utility player Barney the starter at 2B and brought Kerry Wood back. 3-4 moves.

          71-91 If only he had made 1 more move, all this could have been avoided.

          • GaryLeeT

            You mean the farm system that produced Castro, Baez, and Samardzija? It was ranked 16th when Hendry left. The Shark, and I, don’t give a crap who’s fault the losing is, but if it happens for 4 years in a row on a major market team, it will be too much to take for even the most ardent fan.

          • Tony_Hall

            Baez was produced by the same farm system as Shark and Samardzija? I know JH still had his job at the draft, but Tom Ricketts was calling the shots and oversaw the draft in 2011. He knew if he didn’t they would use the same old system they had used before, draft signable players who weren’t worth the draft spot they were taken. Ricketts kept telling them to draft the best player available, regardless of signability, then gave them the money to get almost all of them. Then fired JH as he had already planned. So, give JH all the credit you want for Baez, but I bet if not for TR, we would have drafted another Hayden Simpson.

            Also nice to know that the Shark and you are tight. Tell him I said hi!

            I know that we all get that the great and stories franchise in New York is the major market team and has a huge fanbase.

            Yet they have lost before.
            89 – 74-87
            90 – 67-95
            91 – 71-91
            92 – 76-86
            93 – 88-74 – How’d that happen
            94 – 70-43
            95 – 79-65

            Then the winning started. How many ardent fans do they have after losing 6 out of 7 years?

          • GaryLeeT

            “Baez was produced by the same farm system as Shark and Samardzija?”

            I am not trying to pick, but did you mean to say the same person twice?

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL, I will fix it. He has a big enough personality to be listed twice.

          • Tony_Hall

            OK, I will respond to what you added now.

            TR didn’t identify the players, he told them to take the best player available, something JH almost never did, as he wanted to draft whoever he could get at a bargain.

            Yeah, missed the records there, I was looking at the wins and forgot about those years. They still lost 4 years in a row, something you say a big market team should never do.

          • cubtex

            Wasn’t that based on ownerships desires? Not Hendry. If he has a 10 cent budget that is who you draft. Why would Hendry care so much to only draft the bargains? It wasn’t his money. It was the budget.

          • Tony_Hall

            You think that he didn’t have control of how to spend the baseball budget? He was the highest ranking baseball person working for the Cubs, he was given a baseball budget and chose to spend as little as possible in drafts and scouts and front office staffing, so that he can use more money in FA.

          • cubtex

            Now you are way off base! If not for Ricketts telling JH what to do he probably would have drafted another Hayden Simpson????Lol. How about another Cashner? Maybe JH would have drafted Fernandez and we would have a legit #1 in the making for several years. Damn “scout” Ricketts

          • Tony_Hall

            ???

            JH never drafted the best player in the 1st round, he waited until the 10th rounds and later to grab the best players.

            TR wasn’t telling him WHO to pick, just to take the BPA and not let money get in the way of who they pick. You have to remember JH was usually in the bottom half of teams in draft spending, he like to spend it all in FA.

            Off base, re-read your post.

          • cubtex

            You thing Ricketts was there in the draft room telling him to draft pick by pick? Are you serious? Does that make a lick of sense? Why have Hendry on staff at that point then? Ricketts could have been like Jerry Jones.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes he was. There have been stories about this. He was there because he had already decided to fire JH and wanted to make sure they drafted the BPA.

          • cubtex

            ridiculous. He had to make sure like a parent overseeing his child making sure he or she is doing their schoolwork. I laugh thinking about that visual. Ricketts to Hendtry- No Jim…Not him. No not that one either. Don’t even think about Hayden Simpson’s cousin. Good boy Jim. Right!…Take Baez here.

          • Tony_Hall

            I think you are taking it a bit far, and I am shocked by that.

            He was in the room for the draft and kept reminding them to not let money keep them from taking the BPA.

          • cubtex

            See what I said below. If Hendry knew money was no object before…that is all it would take.

          • Tony_Hall

            I can do this to, see below or above depending on how you sort your posts.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I am not shocked.

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

            You have a point Tony, that was always the strategy from JH…

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

            I will love the Cubs no matter what…

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

            And support…

          • cubtex

            If the FO puts the crap they are putting on the field for another year….many fans will bail and not come back.

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

            Make it all the better for those of us that stick around and win a title in a few years. I don’t like being on a bandwagon anyway. A few years ago when the Cubs got good I would run into people that were suddenly Cubs fans. I’ve always rooted for the underdog, maybe that’s what has drawn me to the Cubs.

            If folks want to go root for the Sox or whoever they can. Groundwork is being laid for the most exciting era ever in Cubs history. It takes vision and foresight but that’s what many of us have in this situation. I love the direction of this team, I wish we were better now but we’ve been bad for 100 plus years and virtually all of the years I’ve been a fan. So people are going to jump ship because they’re bad now? We’ve all been attached to a losing team for decades, now bounce because we have an entitlement syndrome? The house is being torn down and built back up from the ground up. It’s a good think too, because it was infested with termites. It will be painful while we live in the crummy hotel during construction but when it’s done it will be the best looking home on the block and I’ll be proud to live there… :)

          • cubtex

            There will always be bandwagon fans in every sport so don’t even worry about that.
            Let me ask you this Rider……Did you think in year 3 of this rebuild….We would have Sweeney,Ruggiano,Schierholtz and Lake in our outfield?
            I recall Tony laying out how the scenario on the tear down and year 2 second half how much fun this team will be to watch and we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. This rebuild done by Theo is one any gm could do. It is nothing special or ordinary.

          • J Daniel

            Disagree, Tex. This is the CUBS! If/When they win “they will come.” Place will be packed.

          • cubtex

            Not saying that the suits won’t fill the park and bandwagon fans…talking about losing many longtime Cubs fans. That has already started to happen.

          • J Daniel

            They will be back, can’t help it, or we wouldn’t even be wasting time on this debate.

          • cubtex

            You are saying that EVERY fan who has become disenchanted with the Theo rebuild will be back. This is a silly debate. The have lost fans and will continue to lose more next year. What do you think happens if the White Sox are exciting and win next year? Rick Hahn has been doing a great job this offseason.

          • J Daniel

            Oh, they may have some come back but it will be small compared to those that do come back and the “NEW” fans that arrive.

            Also, that is the WHITE SOX … a completely different conversation … the WHITE SOX and the Cubs will never be remotely close in the number of fans.

          • J Daniel

            They may leave for awhile. I have not spent any time watching games the last two seasons, only a few innings here and there. I follow CCO for all of my updates but am not going to waste time watching an inferior product because I expect better. When they become relevant again I will start watching.

            The Blackhawks are a perfect example. More fans have come out of the “woodworks” and the place is crazy. Not to long ago you could have sat anywhere you wanted.

            It will be CRAZY IF/WHEN the Cubs win.

          • Tony_Hall

            What a concept!

          • Tony_Hall

            Said the Yankee fans in the early 90’s!

          • Bredstik

            Why would it be so bad if those types of fans don’t come back?

          • Cubbiemacg

            I hope your one of them because your negativity as a Cub fan is boring everyone

          • cubtex

            hahahahaha. thank you Cubbie macg. Truth hurts doesn’t it??? lol

          • Cubbiemacg

            As I enjoysome of your points of view as well as the realism, the negativity will only bring you down. The positive thoughts are what cub fans have always lived on.so there is no need to get down on those who believe something special iscoming soon.

          • cubtex

            My definition of soon and yours appear to be extremely different. This plan will eventually work..,just like the Pirates. It doesn’t have to be this slow and painful. I am glad that you are positive and patient. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

          • paulcatanese

            Been a Cub fan for 70 years and have seen “the good, the bad” and the ugly”, this has been the ugliest couple of years, ever.

          • Sonate

            No Paul. If you’ve been a fan for that long, think back to 1960, ’61 and ’62. They only won a total of 183 games. They’ve won 198 over the last three years. :)

          • paulcatanese

            Maybe so, but that was before my knowledge (thanks to the CCO) of what went on behind the scenes and all of the opinions.
            At least in those years, the Cubs tried:)

          • Ripsnorter1

            That Garza trade was a good trade. JHendry should not be kicked because of it, imo.

          • Tony_Hall

            I was listing moves from that off-season, not kicking anyone for any of the moves. We have beat this up far too often to rehash, but JH should thank Theo for the return he received for Garza.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Tony,
            You missed your calling. You should be a PR man for some high roller
            with an extremely tarnished reputation. You would make millions!

            How about the front man for O.J? : )

          • Tony_Hall

            I would only represent honorable men, never someone like OJ

            If you know of an opportunity, I will take it.

          • Ripsnorter1

            If I knew of an opportunity, I would certainly recommend you.
            You are the best. I say that sincerely. : )

          • J Daniel

            Have to give up something to get something, which is what they both did. Maybe wasn’t the right move for the Cubs at that time? I know JH was trying to win at that time but it was obvious they had to many holes.

        • mutantbeast

          John Tudor back in the early 80s went 13-7 with a bad pirates team, then got traded to the Cards in a trade STl clearly won. Spellcheck isnt remotely close to what Tudor posted during his Pirates years.

    • cubtex

      No relation Rip :)

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    A 20 million dollar plus average annual salary for Tanaka? No thanks.

    • GaryLeeT

      The other options for a #1 are? The FO had 2 guys scouting Tanaka for an entire year. I think they have done their homework, and know what he’s worth.

      • raymondrobertkoenig

        He’s not worth 20 million dollars a season. The Cubs could go 8 or more years on the contract length, but they shouldn’t exceed an AAV of 19 million dollars.

        • cubtex

          Then they won’t get him.

          • J Daniel

            Agree, they will not get him, unless they drastically over pay which would not make sense.

          • mutantbeast

            Exactly. Tanaka is the biggest name on the pitching market this year, and hes only 25. He might not be worth 20m/season, but he will get paid 20m AAV. Thats the market. Right now, Tanaka is up there with Ellsbury and Choo in terms of value.

          • cubtex

            yea and I think he will get closer to 25 mil per year than 20.

          • daverj

            A couple days ago I posted that I thought the Cubs would/should offer $140 million over 7 years (and that I thought there was good chance Tanaka would turn that down). You responded with something along the lines of Tanaka would be nuts to turn that down.

            Based on your post above, have you changed you mind? Reading between the lines, it sounds like you may now think Tanaka will get multiple offers around my proposal or even higher. Or am I misreading your post?

          • cubtex

            I am saying that if 7 years 140 was his best offer he would be nuts to turn that down. With the Yanks saying they are all in…I see it being more. Cubs need to do a Seattle to get Tanaka. They have to blow the other teams out of the water. Go 9 years at 25 mil per where maybe no other team is willing to go more than 7.9 at 225 mil. something like that. I will be glad when this Tanaka talk is over. It is a huge longshot he signs here.

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

            I would go 20 million for him, but not much more. He is a #1 starter though and would solve a lot of issues for this team. He’s allow everybody else to pitch where they should and anchor our rotation for years. Yes he has a lot of miles on his arm but at 25 I think he’d produce for the better part of a 7 year deal.

          • cubtex

            I would go 20 mil too. When you look at Yu Darvish’s contract it makes it even more painful that Theo didn’t go all in for him.

          • John_CC

            Like he went he went all in for Dice K? Hindsight…

            Darvish’s aav is over $18M when you account the posting fee. This Tanaka saga has been way more of a circus which creates more hype which leads to even sillier numbers bandied about.

            I agree, I can’t wait for this to be over with.

          • GaryLeeT

            Remind me again what plight befell the Red Sox the year they signed Dice K? Oh yeah, one of those miserable old World Series Championships.

        • daverj

          How much is Tanaka worth? How do you know he’s not worth $20 million per season? If he turns out to be an ace, he’s likely worth more than $20 million per season to many teams. If he pitches like Kei Igawa did after coming to the Yanks, then Tanaka is worth much less (actually would be worth zero in that case) than $20 million per season. There are so many variables with Tanaka that is impossible to really determine what he is worth.

          That said, how often does a 25 year old with ace potential become a free agent? Since the answer is rarely (if ever), Tanaka is a unique commodity with a very high value.

  • Eugene Debs

    “I think the whole quote-unquote ‘rebuilding’ word gets old.”

    Give that man a cookie. He gets it.

  • cubtex

    A big question! How long does Theo get away with never doing a NTC? What if it comes up with Tanaka? Why are we even talking about Tanaka if other teams are willing to give him a NTC and the Cubs won’t?

    • Tony_Hall

      Where have you heard this is a sticking point with Tanaka?

      • cubtex

        I haven’t. Just bringing it up. It is a very valid point.

        • Tony_Hall

          Could be, other teams have the same policy? I would think limited NTC would be the mid-point, where a player can block to certain teams, that need to be stated in advance each year.

          • cubtex

            Think about it. He can choose any team and region he wants to play for. LA,NY,Chicago. Big cities with edorsements and he is a foreign player. 2 teams offer a NTC and the Cubs don’t. If I am Tanaka….that could definately be a factor.

          • John_CC

            And he turns into, oh I don’t know, Dice K, and then you are stuck with him for 6 or 7 years.

            But this is all moot, because if he doesn’t live up to the hype, which is becoming more realistic every day, he will be untradable with the $25M avv that everyone is talking about. So might as well give him the ntc.

          • GaryLeeT

            Ask me if I would trade a World Series Championship for the Cubs,in exchange for not competing in the next 6 years. I mean, there are still plenty of fans riding on the wings of the 85 Bears for heaven’s sake.

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

            I haven’t hear anything about Tanaka demanding one.

            “Why are we even talking about Tanaka if other teams are willing to give him a NTC and the Cubs won’t?”

            Did you hear that he was demanding one Ray? We wouldn’t be talking about him if he had but i haven’t heard that.

          • cubtex

            Let’s see if Tanaka signs with the Yanks,Dodgers or Angels that a NTC is included. It will be interesting to see.

          • Tony_Hall

            I believe he will demand a 3 suites when traveling on the road and the Cubs have a strict policy of just 1 room, so it will be interesting if Tanaka signs with another team, if they include 3 suites.

          • cubtex

            what? Can you just be a little realistic one time. 3 teams have similar bids. 2 of them will include a NTC and one won’t. Who would you choose?

          • Tony_Hall

            Was making a little fun of you…you did get that…right?

            It depends on how important that is to him. Just like some guys hold out for 12 1st class airline tickets from Japan and back each year. Every player has their thing they want.

          • cubtex

            Just heard the Cubs have the inside track now. Tanaka has a love for Starbucks and we know we have a guy in our FO who also loves Starbucks. 20 mil per year and all the Chai Lattes Tanaka can drink for the life of the contract at every Starbucks nationwide. Theo has an in with Starbucks and can make this happen.

          • Tony_Hall

            You are making a joke, but that has been my point all along, we don’t know what Tanaka wants, who he has been recruited by and scouted by that he has a relationship with, that will make him choose one or the other if they are close.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Signing Tanaka goes against everything Theo said he would do. He said he would avoid the
            big FA contracts, and build with the system. But if he could sign Tanaka he would immediately need to sign at least one other starter, if not two, and suddenly the payroll goes through the roof. Plus he needs to sign a few bats as well. All this to finish 71-91…

            Then Tanaka could tank like Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa, a pitcher who, in the seasons that followed, went on to win two games for the Yankees while spending most of his time out of sight and out of mind in the minor leagues. They paid him $20 million, plus a posting fee of $26,000,194.

          • Tony_Hall

            Actually, Theo is not against signing FA’s, he is against paying for past performance, that you so often do when shopping in the 30 something FA aisle. Tanaka is 25 and is everything Theo is for having on the Cubs.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Tony, you are correct. I heard Epstein say he wished there was free agency for young players. Guess what this is …

          • Ripsnorter1

            What about this scenario?

            Cubs way overpay for Tanaka–7 years, $200 million!
            They immediately trade him to LA for a couple of #25 and #26 prospects, plus the Cubs throw in $150 million to help out their payroll.

            How does that sound?

          • Tony_Hall

            I will assume you are drinking your Pepsi from the half-empty half tonight.

          • Ripsnorter1

            LOL

            Yup!

          • mutantbeast

            Id say offer him an opportunity to opt out after 4 years, like the Stankees did with ARoid and Sabathia. If hes not a TOR, let him go.

          • cubtex

            The problem is that if he is not a TOR starter…you are stuck with him. That type of contract only helps out the player if he exceeds expectations and can get more money.

          • J Daniel

            And with the way it goes for the Cubs they will sign him and he will be the one who is a bust!

          • Tony_Hall

            Unless it is a club option (why would Tanaka agree to that), the team can’t drop him if Tanaka gets an opt out.

    • daverj

      Very good point. I think the Cubs may have to make an exception to their “policy” on NTC to sign Tanaka.

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

    I really like how the bullpen is shaping up. A better bullpen last year would have mad us so much more competitive in the first half. As I’ve said before and will say again I see us as a .500 team next year and the bullpen will be a big contributor.

    • cubtex

      You need to score runs to win games. Offense is pathetic Rider

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

        It should be much better. Castro and Rizzo improving alone will help. Schierholtz better equipped to produce all season not just the first half. I’m on record as a believer in Sweeney. Castillo should improve. I’m on record that I expect a good season from Olt (hopefully in MLB and not AAA but it could be, last year was basically a lost season because of his head injury). I think Ruggiano has a chance to be the guy from the 2nd half of last year.

        If even 75% of those things happen we will push for .500. The only reason it may not is that if those do happen and Sweeney, Schierholtz play like that they may be moved at the break. Also some of these relievers may be traded. But if we are at .500 at the break and have trade pieces that will bring back young solid prospects I’ll support it. .500 would be nice but not if it keeps us from getting younger and better.

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

          To me finishing .500 in the first half would be great. That will mean we have many trade pieces and can get even better in the minors; so that when we are really competitive starting in probably 2016 we’ll have a greater chance of having prospects that can come up and contribute or be included in packages for missing pieces. So if we can be good in the first half and then suck in the 2nd because we’ve traded short term assets that are performing, I’m all for it.

        • cubtex

          Do you see how many IF’s you are counting on? If Rizzo can figure out how to hit lefties. IF Castro can be the player he was before, IF Schierholtz can figure out how to hit lefties. IF Olt is over his eye problems. IF Sweeney can hit better than the .225 he did the last 2 months of the year.
          This team is worse offensively than last year. No Soriano to hit in the middle. No true leadoff hitter.
          Unfortunately…..Team Theo is not trying to field a competitive team again. Groundhogs Day!

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

            If Castro alone is better we’ll be much improved. Rizzo had a solid year, I don’t care what anybody says. When a player hits 24 homeruns in his first full season in the majors it’s a major accomplishment. He’ll figure out lefties, coming up he was always good against them. He’s in his 2nd full season in 2014, no reason to assume he won’t continue to greatly improve.

          • cubtex

            Rider- Rizzo hit .189 against LHP! How is that solid. He was AWFUL with RISP. How is that a solid year? And…..he is the #3 hitter. How much does that hurt a team?

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

            24 homeruns, how is that not solid? And as a very young player he’ll get much better. As I said the knock on him coming up was that he couldn’t hit RHP, and only was good against lefties. And we had so few RISP, much of the time he was in that situation it was against lefty specialists.

            24 bombs as essentially a rookie. He’s gonna get much better and have a great career ahead of him.

          • cubtex

            Adam Dunn hit 34 Bombs. Did he have a “solid” year? 24 HR’s? Wasn’t that expected? Isn’t that his game? He is a mid average power hitting 1st baseman. He is not a Mark Grace who is expected to hit 10.

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

            I’d take a guy that hits 34 bombs. And 24 in your first full season? I just don’t understand how you call the season a failure for him. If he continues on a trajectory next year he’ll hit 30 and bat .260. Then shortly after he’ll figure it out and have that breakthrough where he hits 37 and bats .310.

            I see it coming…

          • cubtex

            Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work like that. He has huge weaknesses in his game. I saw it immediately. He is not a great hitter. He hits bad or below average pitching. He struggles behind the count. Once he gets 2 strikes on him its Katy Bar the door. He guesses. Many of his HR’s were on the 1st pitch. Sit fastball and take a hack. He is not a Paul Goldschmidt or Freddie Freeman. He is not on those players level.

          • Ripsnorter1

            With coaching, he learned to take that first pitch fastball!

          • cubtex

            Now could he hit .260 with 28 HR’s? Yes he could…. but he is not a .300 hitter.

          • daverj

            I like Rizzo, but can’t see the .300 season. I see Rizzo’s upside (if everything goes right) as .270ish with 25-30 HR. More likely, he’s a .260ish with 20-25 HR guy.

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

            It may never happen but I like his game and work ethic. I could see him having a breakthrough at some point and “getting it.” It happens with guys where they toil as productive but unspectacular players then about year 5 or 6 suddenly break out and become all-stars. I wouldn’t put it past him.

            I just can’t ever remember a player hitting 24 HR and it being called a very poor season. I just never saw it. Also the comparison players have feared batters around them, Rizzo had Schierholtz or Castillo. While they are solid, they are not feared and Rizzo always had pitchers unafraid to throw him bad balls and take their chances if he was walked. In a few years when he has Baez, Bryant and maybe a pickup like a Matt Kemp in the lineup (not saying they’ll trade for Kemp, but a guy like that). I believe at that point he could break out. Tough to do much more than hit 24 HR when you are the best hitter in a bad lineup.

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

            2 men on base and a mashing Kris Bryant batting behind him would give Rizzo a chance to be pretty good. I think it is unfair to judge him completely by what he has to work with now.

            And all that said he hit 24 HR! And a bunch of doubles. I just can’t call that a “very poor,” season.

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

            Rizzo had more RBI than Votto and one less HR (I stand corrected, he had 23). Votto walked many more times but Rizzo walked more than Freeman. He had a decent OBP and slugging. Rizzo had 40 doubles, more than Freeman or Votto and good for #5 in the league. He also had less strikeouts than Votto.

            I just don’t see how that is a not a solid year.

            Sorry I quoted “very poor,” Ray. I looked back and must have imagined that.

          • cubtex

            Look at Ike Davis from 2012 as a comparison. That is the type of hitter Rizzo is. Terrible against LHP. Not good with RISP but will hit 25 plus HR’s.

          • J Daniel

            Maybe RISP improves with better players around him and more experience. Remember, this line up sucks so pitchers do not have to I’ve in.

          • cubtex

            maybe a little but if you can’t hit behind in the count that won’t change. Look what Rizzo did in 0-1 counts 0-2, 1-2 etc. Now compare that to Ike Davis in 2012. They are the same hitters. Holes in your swing don’t go away. Now you will get more mistakes because you would rather pitch to a Rizzo instead of the better hitter behind him but Rizzo should not be hitting 3rd. He is not a good enough hitter to hit there.

          • cubtex

            Rider…Look at Ike Davis as a comparison to Rizzo in 2012. He hit 32 Bombs. He hit .214 with RISP and only had 90 RBI with those power numbers. He is similar to Rizzo. Many holes in his swing.
            He did that at age 25. Were they jumping up and down with the year he had in 2012? He hit more HR’s than Rizzo, more RBI and a higher average.
            That is a fair comparison to Rizzo. He is a guess hitter just like Rizzo and he is another Katy Bar the Door hitter with 2 strikes. Very similar.

          • Eugene Debs

            I agree, Rizzo will improve.

          • cubtex

            I think Rizzo will improve too but he won’t be a .300 hitter is what I am saying.

          • cubtex

            so few RISP? Lets compare Freeman to Rizzo.
            RISP

            Freeman
            170 PA 84 RBI .443 AVG .541 OBP

            Rizzo
            180 PA 46 RBI .191 AVG .306 OBP

            Like I said. Not on the same level. Both of these players are age 24. Rizzo had 10 more plate appearances than Freeman with RISP and one had 46 RBI and one had 84. Rizzo did not have a solid year. He had a very poor year.

          • cubtex

            Think about that for a minute. Rizzo came to bat 180 times with at least 1 runner on 2nd base and he only had 46 RBI? That is hard to imagine how that was even possible.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Sure, they’re the same age, but they’re different places in their career. Rizzo has one full year in the MLB, Freeman 3. In 2012, Freeman hit .212 with RISP and .237 against lefties. I think Rizzo will get better. Let’s not write him off after one season.

          • cubtex

            He had 500 PA in the majors before this year. I am not writing him off but calling him what he is. He is not special. He will be a serviceable 1st baseman for many years. Good glove. Good pop. Not a great hitter. A “mistake” hitter.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I’m not saying he’s a great hitter either. I don’t consider Freeman an elite first baseman. He’s definitely in an upper tier, but he’s not elite. If Rizzo hits 20 HRs with 80-90 RBIs while having a good glove. I’m happy. That’s probably a little above league average for a first baseman in the league.

          • Ripsnorter1

            James Looney.

          • cubtex

            Even with his poor average in 2012 with RISP Freeman had 68 RBI in 193 PA. Rizzo isn’t even close to that.

          • daverj

            I wouldn’t write off Rizzo, but Rizzo is no Freeman. Have you watched many of Freeman’s at-bats? Even when Freeman struggled, he looked much better at the plate than Rizzo. Rizzo has too many holes in his swing to ever reach .300.

          • 07GreyDigger

            That’s something we all need to realize here, if Rizzo is a major league average bat, that’s not the worst thing ever. Not every guy you have is an all star, but you need guys that produce all the same.

          • DWalker

            I still have the belief that hitters were being instructed to bat in response to RISP, rather than just trying to hit. One, two players having issues with RISP? sure. entire team looking liek little leaguers every time there is a RISP? sounds like a system. Rizzo was alos hitting lefties for a while, then totally stop. I am sure they adjusted to him, but you have to wonder with all the hitting troubles supposidly good hitters had on the team last year if maybe too much tinkering was being done. Just a thought, only playing time next year will tell.

          • Gramps

            What did Chris Davis do in his first 2 years in the majors? A few years ago on this site many people were against the Cubs making a trade for him if they had a chance. Look what he turned out to be. Give Rizzo time and I think he will be at least as good as Davis and maybe better. At least as it is now, if he does fail, we have a few others that can step in and try to do the job. That comes from the last few years of drafting good. I still say give this executive team time to get this team to be a contender. Sure, it hurts now….but I think in the long run it will be worth it.

          • cubtex

            Gramps. Before Chris Davis’ career year this year…he hit .265 against LHP and .271 against RHP. He hit over .290 with RISP in 2012.
            What I am trying to have people realize is that Rizzo is not a great hitter. He can and probably be a serviceable 1st baseman. I am saying is that he is not what many on here are saying he can and will be. People should expect a .250 to .260 hitter with high 20 HR’s and 90 RBI. That is not terrible. Now could he have a career year in the not too distant future and hit .275 with over 30 HR’s and over 100 RBI? Yes. Chris Davis had a career year this year and very few think he could ever come close to repeating those numbers again.

          • J Daniel

            A lot of IF”S … way to many … sounds like a last place team. Sounds like it was in the 70’s.

            If they could bring back Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Don Kessinger, Ron Santo, Fergie, … well, they didn’t win either.

            You can’t count on IFS in any business. It has to be WHEN!

          • DWalker

            a heck of a lot of IF’s, and some of them are BIG IF’s. Olt worries me. Castro, I think will come back with a differnt coaching regime. Rizzo worries me, but I have to wonder at the coaching. They really neeed a bat to replace soriano’s threat in the lineup. Two years ago I never woudl have said this, but getting rid of soriano maybe was a mistake. yes, he was one misstep away from being done from injuries, but as long as he could stay healthey he was a legit threat.

          • cubtex

            Trading Soriano along with 18 mil for Corey Black and no viable replacement made no sense at all.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            still depends on Corey Black…but yeah, with them covering all that money, I am not sure what the rush was, as it seems, in retrospect, that Soriano wasn’t blocking anyone, as Junior Lake came up and played mainly CF. There were some injuries, so maybe the thought was Lake would have more time in LF…who knows.

          • Ripsnorter1

            He was blocking Brian Bogusevic. AND…AND…AND Ryan Sweeney.

          • Ripsnorter1

            It made perfect sense. Just look at the payroll relief we got!

            LOL

          • dicepaul

            Castro, Rizzo, and Jackson all had down years last year. If these three play more to their statistical means, the most likely probability, the Cubs should be better than last year. So you see the ifs are not really that big of a deal.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      88-92 losses…..
      I base this on poor hitting line up we have and poor starting pitching.
      No Soriano, Dejesus, Garza or Feldman this season.
      look for Bosio to be a scapegoat.

  • paulcatanese

    The comments that the “Shark” has made above has to have put many fans in his corner. He has shown that he is tired of all of the “bull” as is many others and wants to see results, sooner and not later. All for his sentiments. He gets an “up” arrow from me.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    I remember hearing Dempster & Garza play that same tune of wanting to a be a Cub for life……Shark is just working on his PR image with the Cubs fans ……
    Sounds like the Dodges have the inside track if Tanaka’s agent is connected with the Dodgers Ace’s……..Hollywood Hills looks better then Wrigleyville.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I am going to start posting viral videos, to popular Japanese blogs, of Godzilla attacking Southern CA and NYC.

    That should help dissuade Tanaka from signing with Dodgers, Angels and Yankees…considerably narrowing the field of suitors and assuring victory for Team Thoyer!

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Tanaka watching Chicago local news can scare him back to Japan…..murders, rapes, assaults….

      • paulcatanese

        How can any city that sells White Castle hamburgers be that bad:)

        • GaryLeeT

          In fact, he could use them as an extra propellant to help his fastball..

          • paulcatanese

            The onions would do it:)

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