Time for the Cubs to Shop at the Winter Meetings

Baseball’s Winter Meetings officially kickoff Monday in Orlando and the Cubs are reportedly looking to add relievers, at least one starter, an outfielder and players to round out the bench to the roster.

But the big noise around the Cubs during the coming week will be about two starting pitchers … one Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are listening to offers for and one the front office is waiting to see if he becomes an option to sign.

The Cubs have maintained their desire to lock Jeff Samardzija up to a long-term contract, but Samardzija’s camp has not accepted multiple offers from the Cubs which leaves the front office with only one option with him. On the Masahiro Tanaka front, the Cubs, along with all of baseball, is playing the waiting game on whether or not he will be posted this winter.

And are the Cubs thinking about signing Shin-Soo Choo to fill a need at the top of the lineup?

Jeff Samardzija

It appears Jeff Samardzija is not going to sign a contract extension any time soon, at least according to multiple reports. Samardzija rejected a three-year, $27 million offer last year and multiple offers this year. According to Bruce Levine, Samardzija turned down a five-year, $55 million deal earlier in the off-season and another offer that is believed to have been slightly higher.

The Cubs would have to get back young pitching in return in any trade for Samardzija. While no one knows if the young position players in the system will reach their projections in the majors, the Cubs’ system lacks near Major League ready starting pitching.

The Mariners seemed focused on trading for David Price at this point but could also get in the mix for Samardzija if they cannot acquire Price. The Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Orioles have been thought to be the most aggressive for Samardzija to this point in the off-season. Jim Bowden also mentioned the Angels and Braves as possible trade partners for Samardzija, but the Angels lack pitching in their system and do not appear to match up for Samardzija unless a third team was involved. As for the Braves, how many starters has Atlanta traded over the years that has worked out for the other team?

Jeff Samardzija is one of four National League starters that pitched at least 200 innings with at least 200 strikeouts last season. The other three were Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee and Adam Wainwright. Samardzija has value and the Cubs will not give him away if they are unable to sign him to an extension.

If the Blue Jays make a deal for Samardzija, players like RHP Roberto Osuna, LHP Daniel Norris and LHP Matt Smoral might be in the talks. The Tribune indicated discussions with the Diamondbacks might include LHP Tyler Skaggs, 3B Matt Davidson and OF Adam Eaton.

Masahiro Tanaka

It is unknown at this point if the Rakuten Golden Eagles will make Masahiro Tanaka available when the new positing system is announced next week. Jon Paul Morosi reported Friday night the new MLB-NPB posting system remains on track to be announced in the coming week according to his sources.

Multiple teams are waiting to see if Tanaka is posted this winter, and if he is, teams figure to lineup with $20 million checks in hand for the right to negotiate a deal with Tanaka.

The Rakuten Golden Eagles are not happy about the proposed posting system that would cap the fee at $20 million. The Japanese team was planning on at least three times that amount and they question if the $20 million posting fee is a fair price for him.

Ben Badler reported the Golden Eagles have put a high priority on convincing Tanaka to stay in Japan but if he wants to pitch in the Major Leagues “they would like to let him leave.” Badler pointed out that regardless of how unhappy they are if Tanaka wants to leave they are expected to post him.

The Rakuten Golden Eagles control Tanaka’s rights for two more seasons and if he is not posted this winter he might chose to wait until he is a true free agent (winter of 2015) according to Badler’s report. And while the Golden Eagles are not thrilled with the $20 million posting fee, if Tanaka does not post this winter and elects to not be posted next off-season then the Golden Eagles could walk away without anything for Tanaka.

The Yankees are pessimistic that Tanaka will be posted this winter and Peter Gammons has been consistent in reporting Tanaka will not be made available this off-season.

Relievers, Starters, Outfielders and Bench Help

The Cubs are looking to add arms to the pen and the starting staff and a veteran outfielder to the roster. Several of the names the Cubs had been connected to this winter have fallen off the board. But there are many players that remain available that the Cubs could sign to fill holes on the roster.

Relievers

The Cubs filled a need last week when they signed LHP Wesley Wright to a one-year deal. Wright is penciled in as the second lefty in the pen with James Russell.

The Cubs would like to add at least one more arm to the back of the pen. If Spring Training began today, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon would begin camp as the primary candidates to close games when the season began. But since pitchers and catchers do not report to Mesa until Feb 13, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would like to add at least one arm to the backend of the pen.

The Cubs have been connected to both John Axford and Joba Chamberlain in the last 48 hours. And while those names do not have the same fanfare as they once did, the Cubs are looking for relievers they can give opportunities to that would not only help the team but also help the player moving forward.

Starters

Scott Baker is believed to be on the Cubs’ list. The front office would like to bring him back. But the other starters the Cubs were linked to by the mainstream media are no longer available … with one exception.

The Cubs appear to be targeting Masahiro Tanaka and according to Bruce Levine the front office is saving payroll space to sign him. Tanaka would fit the Cubs’ building process but will not come cheap. The Cubs would not only have to overpay Tanaka to keep him out of the Bronx but they will have to sell him on signing with the Cubs.

Outfielders

Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic are currently on the Cubs’ roster and would figure to be on the field in Pittsburgh on Opening Day if Clint Hurdle hands the ball to Gerrit Cole. There are rumblings the Cubs could trade Schierholtz this winter, but as the roster is currently constructed the front office would like to add a right handed hitting outfielder to the mix.

Junior Lake is the only righty on the 40-man with big league experience in the outfield. Josh Vitters, if he is still with the team, will be given a chance to win a bench spot this spring as the Cubs’ fifth outfielder and backup at first base and third base.

The Cubs have not been connected to any right handed hitting outfielders this winter … other than the minor league deals they handed out to Darnell McDonald, Aaron Cunningham and Casper Wells.

Could the Cubs be in on Shin-Soo Choo? Bruce Levine reported on Saturday morning that he is being told the Cubs are interested in Choo and have spoken to his representatives about signing him. Choo will not come cheap and will not only cost the Cubs their second round pick and slot money but also around seven years and $150 million. The Rangers, Astros, Orioles, Tigers, Mariners and Red Sox are among the many teams that have been connected to Choo this winter.

The Bench

The Cubs’ front office is looking to build a team and an organization similar to the one in St. Louis. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for versatile players for the bench that will give Rick Renteria as many options as possible.

Eric Hinske

The Cubs new first base coach spent time with David Kaplan on Wednesday night and discussed his new position with the Cubs.

Eric Hinske is looking forward to the new chapter in his life. He knew it was time to walk away from the game but wanted to stay in baseball and took a job as a Major League scout with the Yankees prior to interviewing for the Cubs’ job.

Hinske explained that Theo Epstein texted him and asked him to interview for the first base coach job. Hinske met with Rick Renteria and was hired four days later. Hinske is thankful for the “awesome opportunity” that the Cubs have given him. The Cubs were looking for a coach that could relate to a younger player. Hinske knows he can and explained he feels like he has been a coach for the last six seasons.

Eric Hinske was not only drafted by the Cubs but he grew up a Cubs’ fan. Hinske’s grandfather was an even bigger Cubs fan and was extremely happy when Hinske was drafted by the Cubs. Hinske told a story about his first big league camp in which Bill Mueller was the Cubs’ third baseman and showed him a lot about playing third. Hinske is just excited to be back with the organization.

News and Notes

During an interview on MLB Network Radio on Saturday, Scott Feldman told Jeff Rickard and Mike Stanton that after struggling in Spring Training and early in the year, Chris Bosio really helped him out and was able to get him back on track. Feldman spoke highly of the Cubs’ pitching coach.

The Cubs’ Major League payroll could reach the $100 million mark this winter according to Bruce Levine. The team has about $60 million committed right now according to Levine (players under contract, plus automatic renewals) and even with seven arbitration eligible players unsigned the teams would have enough in the budget to sign both Shin-Soo Choo and Masahiro Tanaka.

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  • Brp921

    Neil, are the names you mentioned from Toronto in addition to Sanchez or is he thought to be off the table?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      He’s thought to be off the table, possibly Stroman as well.

      • Brp921

        Thanks for the quick reply. I’m not sure I would trade Samardziga to them without Sanchez being included.

  • woody34

    Is there any team out there that fits into a 3 team deal where the Cubs end up gaining Price in losing Shark??? I’ve just been racking my brain trying to see a way for that to conceivably happen.
    Who else would need to be included? Soler?
    You would have to think Theo having seen Price in his AL East Days has to covet him, right?

    • Vivid_Reality

      Pretty basic rundown but:

      Cubs get Price
      Diamondbacks get Shark
      Rays get Skaggs, Soler, Alcantara, Vogelbach

      Its not pretty but its possible. The Cubs probably give up more than its worth. I don’t know if the difference between Shark and Price is worth Soler, Alcantara, and Vogelbach. Maybe with a window for an extension.

      • Tony_Hall

        No way giving up Soler, Alcantara, and Vogelbach to swap Price for Samardzija and then need to pay Price a top SP contract makes sense.

        • Ripsnorter1

          I agree. That would be pure folly.

          • J Daniel

            That would be Jim Hendry!

        • mutantbeast

          Im with you. No way I give up both Soler and Vogelbomb in the same deal, at least not only for Price.

      • Michael Massey

        I am not sure about giving up Solar, but if they give up Alcantara, in my opinion , it indicates they are planning to move either Castro or Baez to 2nd. Frank is NOT a long term solution, so IF something like this happens, I suspect one of the 2 shortstops are moving to 2nd base

  • Todd

    Neil,
    I just don’t see the Cubs spending 100+ on Choo or Tanaka with posting fee. I believe as a marketing ploy they put their desire out there (like past international players) to generate fan and media interest but they underbid to lose.
    What would it take to get Archie out of AZ (supposedly off limits), Jeff and Brian B.? I think Jeff and Nate might do it but Rizzo needs some protection.

    • Tony_Hall

      The FO is not doing marketing by going after players. Not sure how you bid to lose, and come in 2nd so often or why anyone thinks that this FO would spend time doing that.

      If the Cubs were trying to appease fans, they would be signing more 30 something FA’s each year and not investing as heavily in the farm system, and most fans would be happy to see a team that can win 75-83 games.

      • Ripsnorter1

        But Tony, bidding and losing is much cheaper than bidding and winning the bid,
        and thus having to sign and pay the player.

        • Tony_Hall

          Yes, but I believe they wanted to sign Sanchez, Cespedes, etc., where these statements make you think they somehow tried to figure out how to finish 2nd, which to me would be harder then finishing 1st.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Finishing second is easy. Just offer them a cheap bid.
            It’s incredibly easy.

          • Tony_Hall

            No, that would make you finish much farther down, 2nd takes a bid that isn’t outrageous, but in the ballpark. Finishing 1st is easy, way overbid, finishing as an also run is easy, just way under bid.

          • GaryLeeT

            Their posting bid for Darvish was not 2nd, and the getter of
            Matsuzaka knew exactly what it would take to get him. That was purely a pr ploy.

          • Tony_Hall

            As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, the Cubs finished second in bidding for the pitcher’s posting fee, but still fell roughly $35 million short of matching the Texas Rangers’ bid:

            http://chicago.sbnation.com/chicago-cubs/2012/7/4/3137514/cubs-finished-second-yu-darvish-posting-fee

          • GaryLeeT

            The Jays bid more than the Cubs.

          • Tony_Hall

            Like I have said, coming in 2nd is not easy. Winning is easy as the Rangers proved, just vastly overbid. The Cubs were the top bid of all the realistic bids that used real info to figure out the posting range. If the Rangers decide to not bid or bid in the normal range, the Cubs could have easily won the bidding.

          • GaryLeeT

            Huh? The standard had already been set by Theo himself.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Let me explain: if the Cubs were the only team bidding,
            they would have won the bid.

            See?

            It’s those nasty Rangers. Those awful Yanks. Shoot, even Houston now is ruining the Cubs chances as they signed Feldman the other day.

          • Tony_Hall

            I still can’t believe anyone gave Feldman 3/30. No one even wanted to give the guy 1/10 last year, yet the Cubs got most likely his best 1/2 season of baseball and 2 young arms in exchange for about $3M.

            Cubs got good value, Astros will not like his deal.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I agree–Cubs got the most out of him possible.
            How good Arrieta turns out to be is still in question. Strop will be okay.

          • Tony_Hall

            Speaking of overbidding, we all can see this one clear as can be, that one team way overshot the market for Scott Feldman and this shows what one team thought.

            Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN1h

            Phillies offered almost $15 million over two years for Scott Feldman and thought they’d have the highest bid — before HOU gave him 3/$30m.

            This is no different then the Cubs overpaying E Jackson last winter, responding to losing out on Sanchez. All teams do this and kick themselves later for overpaying.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I agree: they overbid, and I think they are nuts for doing so. I see
            him having horrible years ahead of him.

          • Michael Massey

            Seriously, you would beat 3/30 for FELDMAN ?? Better than 10 million dollars a year for Feldman?? If you would have, NEVER complain about Hendry again

          • Tony_Hall

            What don’t you get, that the Rangers way, way overbid?

            There is no way to have the marketing department help you finish 2nd in a bid. You may just win it and then you most likely blew away your marketing budget.

            Teams don’t bid on a player they don’t want, they may bid believing they can’t win, but those bids usually far well below the 2nd best bid.

          • Tony_Hall

            Nice edit :)

          • Ripsnorter1

            I guess I’d say it this way: if you don’t win the bid, you lost the bid.
            And you can bid and lose, and it might “look good” but it nets you nothing.

          • Tony_Hall

            Please provide a link that shows this, I show one from the middle of the next season that shows the Cubs were 2nd.

          • cubtex

            There is an argument on who came in 2nd? lol

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree it is quite amusing.

          • GaryLeeT
          • Tony_Hall

            Yes, that is what was initially thought, but if you looked, my linke was 6 months later when more was known.

          • cubtex

            Theo way overbid for the right for Dice K. He knows what it would take to sign an international guy.

          • RynoTiger

            if Theo way overbid for Dice K, why would you expect him to be dumb enough to make that mistake again and way overbid for another international player?

          • GaryLeeT

            Dumb? You do know that Matsuzaka helped Boston win a World Series, right?.

          • J Daniel

            I think they have an idea of how far the winning bid is going.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            if they wanted those guys so bad, they should have put in higher bids. Now we are looking at $20m/yr for a guy like Choo? Makes no sense…

          • Tony_Hall

            Exactly, they could have way overbid to win a bid. But not all players end up with one team doing that, in fact most of them don’t. The Rangers way overestimated Darvish’s bid.

          • GaryLeeT

            Really? Darvish ended up costing the Rangers about 20 million a year. Nothing horrific about that.

          • Tony_Hall

            Really!

            His bid was $30M more then the next bid. That is what I meant by the Rangers way overestimated Darvish’s bid, unless $30M is small in your world.

            But go ahead and change the discussion to whether his AAV is inline with his production.

          • GaryLeeT

            Tony, I am only going to say this once, and it’s because I like you. I am by no means a grammar Nazi, but I can’t let you keep using “then” when it should be “than” I am doing this now, because I think this thread is almost dead, and I am only trying to help.

          • Tony_Hall

            I would say this is a grammar Nazi post. Sorry if I don’t proof read all of my posts.

            I am doing this now, because I think this thread is almost dead, and I consider you a friend, but there is no way you don’t have a space in your name. I can’t let you keep going without that space when it should have a space. I am only trying to help.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          this doesn’t strike me as the PR guys…strikes me as a PR move by Theo to buy more time for Ricketts to find where all his money went.

          i see a very conceivable scenario where Tanaka is not posted, and Cubs do not land Choo. Will they still spend $40m and get back up to a $100m payroll? Doubt it. They will just say “shoot, we tried…don’t like the other choices, so gonna wait.”

          With Baez/Bryant/Soler/Almora/Alcantara/Villanueva/Olt in the fold…I don’t fault them for not adding position players.

          But they could have, and still should, go get the best quality bullpen arms instead of relying on Rondon/Strop and signing Wesley Wright (who?). Those aren’t $10m/yr type contracts, but would immeasurably help the team and fan morale if they shored up the pen. They could also get an Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, or even bring back Garza, and thereby add a solid arm to the rotation.

          I believe both those actions would be cheaper than signing Choo, which I can’t believe they see as a priority.
          I am starting to question Theo’s approach to adding Pitching. Great job with position farm players, but haven’t seen anything of note on the P side yet.

          • Ripsnorter1

            They’ll probably sign John Axford. Then you’ll have to decide whether that is
            a good thing or not. Perhaps he’ll surprise like Gregg did for awhile last year.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I question if they are really interested in Choo, but Tanaka is another story. They are in on him. Now whether or not they can sign him, if he is posted, is a different story. Tanaka will have plenty of teams to select from if he is posted.

      I do not think the Cubs have enough to trade for Bradley. Samardzija and Schierholtz would it get it done. I’m not too thrilled about the names I’m hearing/reading from Arizona. But that could all change.

      • cubtex

        Neil. You really think Samardzija and Schierholtz would get it done for Bradley? I think Skaggs and another pitcher like Miley, Cahill would be more realistic.

      • cubtex

        I think I misread your post. I think you meant to say Samardzija and Schierholtz would not get it done.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          I edited my comment to make it clear, did not do that before. Thanks for catching.

    • mutantbeast

      Forget it. Archie Bradley is to the Snakes what Baez or Bryant is to the Cubs. Pretty much an untouchable.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    The Cubs could use full-time outfielders, all they have now are platoon types.

    • J Daniel

      They could use almost a complete overhaul of the mob roster.

    • Tony_Hall

      Not that many real full time OF’s out there anymore. Most players are shown to be platoon type players when you look at their stats. That is why you see more and more teams going to a few platoon positions and using the bench spots more and more by getting versatile players.

      • raymondrobertkoenig

        If the Cubs are ever going to win a World Series in my lifetime it won’t be with a platoon system in all 3 outfield positions.

        • Tony_Hall

          I agree, no way all 3 OF spots can platoon (there is only 5 bench spots with one being a catcher and usually 2 for the infield). But one of them almost for sure will be on most teams. Hopefully we don’t need to do this as we have the position prospects that look like they can be full time players. But shopping at the FA window is not going to find many that can play full time and not be below average on one of their splits.

          • raymondrobertkoenig

            Trades can also net full-time outfielders.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes one of the best was traded Justin Upton.

            His splits

            LHP 268/427/567/994
            RHP 262/328/434/762

            Still a good enough player against RH pitchers, but compare to Schierholz against RHP.

            262/300/499/799

            Even the great Upton isn’t far from being platooned against RHP and most likely will be when he crosses 30.

          • Ripsnorter1

            What was Soriano’s splits?

          • Tony_Hall

            LH 293/349/555/904

            awesome

            RH 236/278/456/735

            Can we say platoon?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Not with .456 slugging.
            No sir.

          • Tony_Hall

            Schierholtz is 499 with better OBP and that is just Nate Schierholltz. If we had splits that showed how poor he does against 1, 2′s and even 3′s versus 4′s and 5′s you would see that even a Nate Schierholtz would be better for a team then Soriano against those guys.

          • Tony_Hall

            As I said for a long time, Soriano will put up great numbers if he plays against LH pitchers and 4 and 5 RH SP’s. Should be platooned with a LH bat for the rest.

        • cubtex

          no doubt.

      • cubtex

        What? How many playoff teams utilized a platoon situation in the outfield?

        • Tony_Hall

          Actually it is the other way around.

          The only playoff teams that had clear cut 3 starting OF’s were the Cardinals, the Tigers and maybe the Indians. The rest used 4, 5 or even 6 OF’s. Now I know some would be because of injuries, but the other 7 teams seemed to play matchups.

    • Sonate

      Agreed. Levine’s report (above) that the Cubs have been talking to Choo’s “representatives about signing him,” if true, is a sign of Cubs desperation for outfielders. Choo turns 32 at mid-season next year, and wants 7-yr & $150 mill? Choo MIGHT be a slightly above average corner OF for 3 years. (He can no longer effectively play CF.) Last year was his best since 2008 when he was 25. I think Theo knows that Choo’s maximum value is 4 years at circa $90 million (and even that’s an overpay in my opinion). So how serious can these talks with Choo’s handlers be? Would he suddenly reduce his asking price by $60 million? (Ha Ha.) It’s likely this story is PR spin by either Choo’s agent (Boras?) or by Cubs brass.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        Choo is not worth $20m/yr…I would not get this signing. If we complained about Soriano’s contract, this would be even worse.

        • Sonate

          I so agree. But you & I both know that Choo will likely sign for something north of $20 mill/yr.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            if he does, i hope it isn’t here! We need pitching…not a 32 yr old slight above-avg OF for that kind of money!

          • Ripsnorter1

            Don’t sweat it. He isn’t coming here. They aren’t going to pay him, or
            anybody else for that matter–more than $5 million per.

          • Sonate

            But Rip…..what about Edwin Jackson??? :)

          • cubtex

            even Theo admitted that was a mistake.

  • Jim Canavan

    I love hearing when a ball player says he grew up a “Cub fan.” I get a charge out of that, that is just so cool.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is an article comparing the Red Sox way of using the farm system and the Yankees way of not having a farm system and using FA.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/hot-stove-wild-day-robinson-cano-carlos-beltran-yankees-mariners-red-sox-shin-soo-choo-david-price-masahiro-tanaka-120613

    Even though this AL East teams, it shows the distinct difference in philosophies of many of us on the CCO and Cub fans all over.

    “Beltran’s three-year, $45 million contract will cover his age 37 through 39 seasons; he has a history of knee trouble. McCann is starting a five-year, $85 million deal at age 30; he has a history of shoulder trouble. And Ellsbury, 30, has missed significant time in two of the past four seasons, albeit mostly due to injuries suffered in collisions.

    Lest anyone forget, the Yankees also will lose three high draft picks for those signings while gaining two back for the losses of Cano and Curtis Granderson.

    “They will just repeat the cycle,” one rival executive said earlier this week. “No young players ready, need to win now, blow everyone out of the water (financially) and hope in three years they have young talent.”

    As oppossed to …

    The Red Sox. The game’s new lords of discipline are not overreacting to the Yankees’ latest spending spree. In fact, they’re barely reacting at all.”

    • SuzyS

      Yes…”The Yankee Way”. They also have a long history of using the Red Sox as their expensive minor league team…Starting way back. Ellsbury is just the latest example.

    • cubtex

      That is funny to call the Red Sox wise spenders. In fact it is hilarious. I realize free spending and wasteful Theo is no longer there but just 1 year ago you and many others were ripping the Shane Victorino contract, the Napoli contract etc. Red Sox have a top 5 payroll. The Red Sox way! Lol

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes they did hit on all 6 of their FA signings last winter, many that looked really bad. Very rare thing to do. But, they also didn’t do any long term deals last year and that is what the difference is, the length of contracts and the mindset. The Red Sox used FA to supplement their great core. The Yankees use FA to get their core.

        • cubtex

          3 at 39 for Victorino was laughed at by many at the time. He came off a .251 season but he was a key player for them winning a WS. If he sucks the last year…who cares? This is what big markets do. If you want a player you pay. You draw fans, You get concession revenue etc. The Cubs one day will sign FA again like the Soriano deal and IF they win a WS with the help of that player….it is worth it.

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree. The Cubs could have very well gone out and signed Ellsbury, Beltran, Cano, McCann, Kuroda, Garza, plan to outbid everyone for Tanaka and trade for Price and instantly been a competitive team right now. But that is not the path ownership chose to take and adding these type of deals now don’t make that much sense unless you are going all in.

          • cubtex

            You can make trades! Theo traded Cashner for Rizzo(bad trade but he got a position player) Astros got a young controllable CF via a trade. Nats aquired Denard Span last year for a prospect. Nats got Fister this year. You can “try” at least. To go into year 3 with Bogie,Schierholtz and Sweeney is a slap in the face to all Cubs fans.

          • Tony_Hall

            I say it just shows how barren the farm system was when they took over. I don’t get the idea of trading away your prospects, at this point, to get guys like Span and Fister.

          • cubtex

            those 2 guys wouldn’t cost the “top 4″ I mentioned Nick Franklin the other day. He would be a great addition and upgrade. Schierholtz is not someone they need to have. Trade him. Russell is not someone this team needs. Trade him. Upgrade the roster.

          • Todd

            Thank you Tim Wilkin and he is still with the Cubs, that makes no sense to me.

          • Tony_Hall

            Keep in mind that during his years under JH, he wasn’t given the budget to sign the best players available except for a few guys like Samardzija. He was having to draft based on signability. Take a look at the 2011 draft to see what he did with an open checkbook.

  • cubtex

    Schierholtz Sweeney and Bogusevic figure to be on the field for opening day if Pittsburgh gives ball to Gerrit Cole. Seriously…… There will be several minor league teams with a stronger outfield than that!

    • Tony_Hall

      We could field an OF from our minor league system better then that one.

  • cubtex

    That Levine quote is funny. The Cubs could have the budget to sign both Choo and Tanaka. Of course they “could” Choo will only sign here if the Cubs blow EVERYONE out of the water(won’t happen) and they would have to go HUGE to sway Tanaka to sign. Could yes….but will……won’t happen.

  • cubtex

    So this is where this lineup currently stands. I will put Olt in here for kicks but I don’t see it. He batted 6th for Iowa last year and we know his problems.

    Castro SS
    Sweeney CF
    Rizzo 1B
    Castillo C
    Schierholtz RF
    Olt 3B
    Bogusevic LF
    Barney 2B

    Whoo Hoo! Let’s play ball!

    • Tony_Hall

      I wouldn’t buy tickets for the 1st half of the year, August and September I think will be more fun to watch this year, if just one of Baez or Bryant make it to Wrigley.

      • cubtex

        I don’t know who would buy tickets if that is the opening day roster. I can’t imagine that is what it would be. That would be public relation suicide.

        • Tony_Hall

          I would trot out Lake to LF just to not say Bogusevic was the Opening Day starter and a young guy was the starter. But other then that, that is where it stands on December 8th.

          If PR is all that matters, put in Baez and Bryant with Lake and you get this.

          1 Castro SS
          2. Baez 2B
          3. Bryant RF
          4. Rizzo 1B
          5. Olt 3B
          6. Lake LF
          7. Castillo C
          8 Sweeney CF

          Now they would struggle being so young, but I would love to see that team play.

          • K_Gripp

            My “big 4″ arrival predictions.

            Baez arrives in 2014.
            Bryant arrives in 2015
            Almora arrives in 2016
            Soler never pans out.

          • Tony_Hall

            Very likely on Baez, Bryant and Almora.

            Soler should be 2015/2016. If any of these guys don’t pan out, I believe it will be at the major league level.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        agreed. that is how I felt about Lake coming up last year. I watched the next few weeks regularly simply because of him. Imagine if you bring up 2 guys this time, or have a trade that adds a piece that can play right away…we won’t know what to do with ourselves!

      • Todd

        I just wonder if Rickets will let Theo start the arbitration clock early on our high end minor leaguers like Baez, Almora, Byrant, Soler? What did Theo once say, 500 at bats at AAA.

        • Tony_Hall

          Yes.

          The 500 AB’s in Iowa is not for everyone. They have stated that there can be exceptions and that players that are dominating would be one of those exceptions.

          • GaryLeeT

            Especially Bryant, who had already spent 3 years in college, and won player of the year. He’s won about every accolade a player can win during his brief time in the professional farm system too.

    • John_CC

      That would be one of the worst opening day lineups in a long time. I think it might be a little better though, I expect some OF help and it will not be Choo.

      Now add the projected rotation and it gets really ugly considering the #4 and 5 guys are up for grabs and Jackson is #3.

      • cubtex

        yep. dreadful. there has to be some moves because no one will go watch this team.

        • John_CC

          They almost certainly worse than last year, at least based on last year’s production. But I do believe (maybe it is just hope beyond hope) that Castro and Rizzo will take steps forward.

          But I think it makes sense that this could be the worst season before a large leap forward. The prospects that could make difference are close but not ready, Alcantara, Baez, Bryant should/could all be up by August. But this doesn’t help the OF at all. They need a couple place holders for a couple years.

          But then again if things work out we could see Bryant and/or Baez in OF.

      • cubtex

        no true leadoff hitter. no #4 hitter. no true #3 hitter, no team speed. that lineup is full of 6,7,8 hitters.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      I think you need to put Lake in there.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Where’s Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters fit into all of this?

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        yeah…I don’t know how they aren’t as good (or bad, depending on your point of view) as the current OF we have.

        I would rather throw them both out there and give them everyday at-bats and see if you catch lightning in a bottle and salvage their careers.

        I don’t think anyone has realistic expectations for Bogusevic, Sweeney, or Nate to become stars…so why waste time on them? Give the prospects a chance!

        • jtrain23

          I don’t know that I would consider Jackson or Vitters prospects at this point. Definitely not Jackson. I get your point though. You could accidentally get something unexpected from them. You know exactly what you’re getting from guys like Bogusevic and Schierholtz.

      • J Daniel

        they don’t

    • CubbyDenCritic

      There is a lineup where everyone on that list could be gone by 2015.

    • J Daniel

      Time for a nap!

  • Tony_Hall

    Dysfunction at the Top!

    http://seattletimes.com/html/mariners/2022420240_mariners08xml.html#.UqPu8kWsECI.twitter

    A great read about the Seattle Mariners and what happens when a team doesn’t have a plan and bounces back and forth on directives and has old school people at the top.

    —-
    “Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”
    —-
    “Wedge described how, starting in 2011, Armstrong would visit his office and gravely say things like: “Howard sent me down here and … we’ve got to win.”

    Wedge would shrug in agreement, telling him he wanted to win every night. “But he’s like, ‘No, we’ve really got to win. We’ve got to go 5-2 on this trip. We’ve got to win tonight.’ ”

    Wedge reminded Lincoln and Armstrong they could ease struggles by adding payroll and proven players.

    “They’re not going to take a chance of operating at a loss,” Wedge said. “Which is fine. But come on. There’s going to be a learning curve with guys right out of college.”

    Wedge sensed Zduriencik aligning himself with Lincoln and Armstrong after the 2012 season-ending blowout, leaving him in a position of having to ignore orders with no support from his GM.
    —————-

    Of course this mandate of having to win and go 5-2 on the next road trip, sounds like my companies unrealistic expectations of getting new business converted during the holidays.

    • cubtex

      Yea. I read that yesterday. Pretty amazing what was going on over there. I respect Wedge for what he did!

      • Tony_Hall

        Agreed. He will get another managing job, most likely next off-season.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      I heard they have pills for that problem.

      • Tony_Hall

        I spend the afternoon watching football and come back and see someone has down arrowed almost all of my posts.

        Any idea which deranged fan who forgot to take his pills would do something like that?

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Tony, I am working with Disqus to try to remove those arrows.

    • Sonate

      I read this also. Armstrong has been there forever and seemed to have his head on straight. Lincoln I’m not familiar with. Maybe the 2-star generals (Armstrong) must fall in-line behind the 4-star generals (Lincoln). :)

      • Sonate

        Although most of you knew this, Armstrong resigned towards the end of last month.

    • CubsfannearSeattle

      I realize this is a Cub’s site and not a Mariners, but in light of my previous advocacy for the Cubs to consider hiring Wedge here’s the links to two other articles (see below) that you might be interested in reading. …. Still hopeful that one day the Cubs will bring him on board in some capacity!

      http://blogs.seattletimes.com/mariners/2013/09/29/eric-wedge-walked-out-on-mariners-with-his-dignity-intact/

      http://seattletimes.com/html/jerrybrewer/2021921786_brewer29xml.html

      • Tony_Hall

        Thanks for the links. Wedge will get his chance again, there is no doubt about it.

  • jtrain23

    There have to be some other options for our outfield. I would be more interested in seeing a short contract with a lower level free agent than spending the moon on Choo.
    How about a guy like Delmont Young on a two year deal? Surely he would be better than Bogusevic. I know he’s limited in the field, but he can hit for some power and decent average. We HAVE to put some sort of proven offense on the field or the likes of Rizzo and Castro will continue to drown.

    • cubtex

      agree 100%. They need a middle of the order bat. Sign Corey Hart, Nelson Cruz, or trade for one. Wellington Castillo and Rizzo batting average with RISP is Darwin Barney esque.

      • Ripsnorter1

        They need to sign Travis Snider from the Pirates.
        He hit .215 with .333 slugging in RF for them.

        Look what he could do for us!

      • Todd

        I agree until Rizzo gets better protection we will see more below .250ave and RISP will be horrible, teams will just pitch around him then he will expand his zone and then ugliness.

  • cubtex

    Sounds like there will be a good chance Tanaka will be posted.

    Ben Badler
    ‏@BenBadler

    ICYMI: Will the Rakuten Eagles post Masahiro Tanaka? Understanding the latest comments from a top Eagles official: http://bit.ly/1d9VRP3

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks for re-posting … in the report above with other details.

      • cubtex

        sorry Neil. didn’t realize it was the same report till afterwards.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Hey man, no worries. Meant what I said, not be a smart a.

          Hope your having a good day.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      on again….off again…..on again…….
      Does it really matter?…..we are not signing Tanaka.

      • cubtex

        If they do….it will be a huge contract.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    What Might Happen At The Winter Meetings In Orlando…….
    - Scott Boras hotel suite playing Hip Hop Gangster music to recruit new clients.
    - Carlos Zambrano telling everyone he is ‘cure”
    - Pitchers with Tommy John injuries waiting in line with their x-rays outside the Cubs suite.
    - Bud Selig talking to an empty chair.
    - Phillies GM Ruben Amaro picking Cubs Jae-Hoon Ha with the Cubs Rule 5 pick.
    - Theo trading Darwin Barney to the Yankees for Nik Turley…..WHO?……go look him up.
    - Tom Ricketts walking around with Mickey Mouse Ears.
    - White Sox Doing Nothing!
    - Financial Seminar of how to waste money on over-rated injured ballplayers.
    - Carlos Marmol sighting.
    - Stacks of money inside the Yankees suite.
    - Jay Z with a bunch of wild women on top of the Swan Hotel having a video music party inside one of the giant swans.
    - Price traded to Arizona……..Garza signed by Seattle…..Tanaka signed by the Yankees………and Samardzija still a Cub.

    • Todd

      Now that is funny!

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Any early odds on who Cubs could/should draft this year, with their 1st round pick?

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Unless the Phillies put in a claim saying they want our draft pick also for Lendy Castillo…..it is way to early to talk about who the Cubs will pick…….players move up and down the draft board….Bryant moved up the chart last year as you recall……..lets wait for these college guys to play their season before predicting.

    • cubtex

      Tyler Beede from Vanderbilt. Tyler Kolek the big Texan High School kid or Trea Turner the NC State SS are the 3 names I hear associated with the Cubs. Rodon is the clear #1 pick and Hoffman should be the #2 pick. Pitchers should go off the board early.

  • paulcatanese

    The Cubs will keep the Shark, as they think a lot more of him than other teams are willing to give up.
    Choo and Tanaka will not make it to the Cubs, they will not spend the money to bring them over.
    They ( the Cubs) will make do with what they have right now, or continue to bring in second tier players again, spending money that could be lumped for a player that would mean something.
    All of the above is under the idea that what they are doing will benefit the team in the future. They are painting themselves into a corner and will soon end up with a roster that they will have to pay to get rid of.
    Of course they could bring up the hot-shots they have in the minors right now or at least by the middle of the year, but I doubt it, it would be embarrassing to do that and have these players fumble at the sight of the big leagues.
    The idea of saying that the need to develop these players at the minor league level is correct, as they are all suspects at this point.
    But the idea that thinking these players are the salvation of the Cubs when they are brought up is not correct as no one knows how they will perform
    when they finally make their debut.
    All of the above relates to one thing, years, not a year before they become contenders, and anyone thinking it will be different are not looking at it clearly.

    • cubtex

      I think they will trade Samardzija. He wants a no trade deal and Theo isn’t willing to go there. I think he will be dealt by the end of the year.

  • tony d

    A question about Junior Lake! Does anyone know why he has not played at3rd base at all for the cubs?????

  • Cloycub13

    Great conversations to all. I admit I have been a troller. Reading comments and not posting. As many know I have been a supporter of this regime…call it faith, call it being a Cub fan. Those who know me, know that I have advocated a bottom to top rebuild with greatly talented youth at the core. That is what is going on now, and they have some work left to do. But so far I have been pleased that we did not spend that type of money on: Ellsbury, Beltran, McCann. How quickly we forget the days of Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. Did that get us to where we want to go? No. Remember, Aaron, Suzy and I advocated a trade for Chris Davis. He worked out OK.
    If we sign the likes of Axford and Chamberlain, have a healthy Vizcaino, and with the signing of Wright, Theo and Co are rebuilding the bullpen.
    Baez and Bryant will be up this season. After the super two deadline. Olt will be the staring third baseman. An outfielder like Nelson Cruz could be a possibility and I would advocate that signing.at the right price.
    If Shark is dealt, Theo and company will get the right price, IE: Garza deal.
    As others have mentioned, Nick Franklin would be a trade piece in a deal from Arizona. But only if they took on Barney. Shark, Barney, Shierholtz for Bradley, Franklin, High end pitching prospect, Accelerate the rebuild.
    I have faith, and I am keeping it. This year may be rough, but the light at the end of the tunnel will begin to be shown. Next year is the year, but this year is the beginning of the end of the rebuild.
    Go Cubs Go!

    • SuzyS

      Cloycub13,nice to hear from you…stay positive!

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      glad you are positive on the future!

      Not criticism, but I respectfully feel the need to defend some of my favorite players from the past decade that you seemed to indicate didn’t get the job done: Aramis and Lee were, for a 5-6 year stretch, two of the best producers at their positions. Zambrano was a top 10 mlb pitcher for the same stretch (2003-2008 or so). Soriano has been much maligned, and while he wasn’t worth his contract, he still produced better than any OF currently on the Cubs roster.

      The Cubs did go to the playoffs in back-to-back years, specifically because of their production. They did not fail to win the world series because of these guys…we didn’t exactly have a deep staff and there was still a lot of holes in the lineup.

      Adding players like those guys is exactly what we will want to do when some of the farm talent starts joining the big league club. We won’t win it all with a bunch of rookies and young guys…needs to be a balance.

      If Olt comes up and hits like Aramis did, we will be ecstatic…same if Rizzo hits like DLee, or if Junior Lake hits like Soriano, and if Arrietta pitches like Zambrano. We want that kind of success in our young guys, or in FA’s we sign or players we acquire by trade.

      • Tony_Hall

        I don’t believe he was saying that they didn’t have a good run, but all 4 of these players had less then dignified ends to their Cubs career. Of the 4, Soriano was the most productive player the last year they played in Chicago. I know I remember the good years from these players and they had a very good run, that we all wish could have been remembered with a World Series Trophy, but that is not the case.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          very few mlb players have dignified ends to their careers…even the greats.

          • Tony_Hall

            Very true.

          • paulcatanese

            Sosa for one.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Tom U……..if Sanchez & Stroman comes to the Cubs, where would they rank on the Cubs Prospect chart?

    • Tom U

      Sorry Cubby, I was at my son’s football banquet. I do some research and have an answer for you tomorrow.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        okay……
        btw, what was on the menu at the banquet?

        • Tom U

          Typical. Chicken, Beef, Pasta.

  • SuzyS

    It’s going to be interesting to watch the Tanaka sweepstakes if MLB and NPB Japan reach agreement per tonight’s mlbtrade rumors report.
    Cano signing with Seattle may impact the Cubs via giving the Yankees more financial flexibility to sign Tanaka.
    The contracts currently being signed seem ridiculous.

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