Rambling as the Cubs Regular Season is Here

Opening Day is Monday, the days are longer, the weather is warmer and the dawn of a new day … is still a year away for Cubs baseball. However, I do expect the Cubs to be noticeably improved from last year with some of the new blood and energy arriving at 1060 W. Addison.         

No matter what, the beginning of a new baseball season is always, exciting and as the Cubs are about to depart for Pittsburgh, let’s go rambling one more time before the regular season commences.

  • Captain of the Obvious over here about to humble brag on his Mike Olt prediction. Yea, I called it. Glad to see it. Very.
  • However, his shoulder injury better be the only reason he is platooning with Louie Louie over at the hot corner.
  • Speaking of Opening Day, if the Cubs don’t crack a deal on the “Restoration Project” this season, I am not sure how many more Opening Days will see the Ricketts family owning the Cubs. I just don’t think Tom will be the one to move them.
  • I could be way off here. They have put some money into other facilities, but without big changes, I think the Ricketts Patriarch instructs his children that the Cubs will be sold … and in the not-too-distant-future.
  • Ryan Kalish, this is Joe Mather. Joe, meet Ryan. Now tell me, is that unfair? And my question is of a serious nature.
  • I just got a feeling about Mike Olt. I really, really do. And that is probably a bad thing for Mr. Olt. I will be making Mike Olt meet Kevin Orie jokes in no time. Heck, I might even throw in a little Gary Scott.
  • You know whose name I have heard very little of this Spring Training … Anthony Rizzo. And I do not think there could be a better thing for that guy. Here is to him raking this season.
  • And he quietly had a very nice Spring. He is The ‘Riz and he is awesome. Or will be … hopefully.
  • Spring Training Shawn-O-Meter:  1.000.
  • One of my favorite aspects of Spring Training is seeing the name of a player I haven’t thought of in a very long time. This year’s winner: Zeke DeVoss.
  • Okay, let’s play a game … we have to pick a breakout player and a breakout pitcher of the 2014 season. Who are you going with? I will give you some time to think about it. I will let you know mine towards the end.
  • One very intriguing player for me this season is Bonifacio … Emilio Bonifacio. He “has” the tools to steal 30+ and be a true impact player … somewhere. That is more than I can say for some of the other position players.
  • Olt and Bonifacio had the most at-bats of the Spring. That should tell you exactly where McThoyer’s head is. Exactly. That was very much done on purpose.
  • The players with the top-8 ABs during spring in exact order are: Olt, Bonifacio, Baez, Lake, Rizzo, Schierholrz, Sweeney, Barney …
  • I mean, if you do not think that was planned down to an exact science … think again.
  • One thing I did not miss this Spring … #buntingcontest
  • The Cubs Outfield is not good. Like, it is bad. The star of the outfield hit .251 with 21 HRs and 68 RBIs. That is the best outfielder on our team right now. That … is … not … good.  IMHO.
  • Starlin Castro had 666 at-bats last year. This totally explains his horrible year. I just had a vision that I have said this before. And if I did, my apologies, but I had to say it again.
  • Breakout Offensive Player of the Year: Mike Olt … I know, you are all just shocked.
  • Breakout Pitcher of the Year: Jake Arrieta. Rip me apart, please.

And there you have it … another Friday edition of my random and rambling stream of consciousness. I hope it was enjoyed. Seriously, Neil, Tom U, Chris and I would love to hear your thoughts below, especially on the breakout players of the year.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!

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  • triple

    Brian – I’m excited to get to read your Ramblings on a weekly basis again!

    Breakout offensive player: Mike Olt
    Breakout pitcher: Neil Ramirez

    I know Ramirez is starting the season in AAA, but I can see him being one of the first call ups when somebody else isn’t effective. He may end up being more exciting than Vizcaino.

  • Roll

    Breakout Offensive Player: Emilio Bonifacio
    Breakout Pitcher: Jackson
    Speed kills and the Cubs have not had anyone like Emilio’s speed and versatility in a long time.
    Jackson will be far better than last year on a team who will trade their opening day starter before the trade deadline. With a new pitch and embarrassment of last year he will have a solid season.
    Disappointing Offensive Player: Rizzo
    Dissapointing Pitcher: Wood
    With two years of AB’s under his belt and very little protection behind him I just don’t see the numbers improving the way a “core” player should. I hope the Cashner trade does not come back to bite the Cubs who desperately need TOR pitchers. At least he is not a $292 mil one dimensional player.
    Wood really had a very good year last year and I see only one way to go for him. Trading Jeff, not being new to the league, and playing the NL central and AL east this year will be brutal for him and the cubs.

  • GaryLeeT

    I see Rizzo having a ceiling of being a .270 hitter with 25 HRs and 80 RBIs. Which is OK, I guess.

    • Tony_H

      For this year or his best in his career?

      For this year, I think the average is likely to be around 260-280 range, but I think he will hit 30 HR’s and be over 80 RBI’s.

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

        He hit 24 HR last season. I don’t think he reached his HR ceiling in his first full season.

      • GaryLeeT

        Career average, is what I meant to say.

    • triple

      So i know you are talking about .270/25/80 as a career average, which in your words is “Ok, I guess.” Well you need to erase the inflated steroid numbers from your memory because if you think that is just “OK,” I guess Ryno wasn’t really deserving of the Hall of Fame with his .285/21/79 career averages.

      • GaryLeeT

        You do know the difference between first, and second base, right? And you do know that 15 points in a BA over a very long career would be a few hundred hits, right?

        • Eugene Debs

          Yes, but Hall of Fame 2nd baseman.

          • GaryLeeT

            Right. Each position essentially has its own criteria. Sandberg gained a lot of his HOF credentials through his defense, and player integrity.

  • Tony_H

    Breakout offensive player – Rizzo
    Breakout pitcher – Samardzija

    I could see either Olt and Arrieta, but I am thinking more of breaking out to a higher level, not to just being a major league level player. I think both Rizzo and Samardzija are primed for a break out this year.

  • Tony_H

    I don’t know if Kalish or Olt are going to be All-Stars during their careers, average major league players or never be more than a back-up and eventually flame out, but they both bring some excitement to this team and I would much prefer to have young guys who are on the upside of their career like them versus 30 something FA’s who needed 3 or 4 year deals to watch them in their decline years.

    But this is the key that is why these prospects (and the rest of them in the system) are different than Pie, Patterson, etc, there was no one behind Pie or Patterson that was a real prospect. If Olt fails, we have Villanueva in AAA and Bryant in AA and Candelario in A. Kalish was a player signed on a minor league contract (hmmm, maybe those nasty old minor league contracts with an invite to ST is not so bad after all) and cost absolutely nothing and if he fails we are out nothing, if he succeeds then we have a LH bat in the OF that we desperately need.

  • Gramps

    Opening day….best day of the year! Good to see your ramblings again. It will be nice to be commenting on a game, not projections!

    Rizzo…offensive player — think he will have a great year if the 2 guys ahead of him get on base and I hope Olt hits well behind him.

    Strop…pitcher — think he will be closing before the year is over.

  • Sonate

    Breakout offensive player: Starlin Castro
    Breakout pitcher: “The Shark”

    Even with Castro’s awful past year, he recently turned 24. (Think of that. By comparison, Mike Olt will turn 26 in August.) Despite his bad year, everyone who has had more hits than Castro by his age are either in the HOF or have HOF credentials (A-Rod). I go with “Shark” for pitcher because he’s so insanely competitive and he “smells the $$$$$.” He will not let the opportunity pass by. Thanks for asking for our input Brian.

  • Bob Irby

    Breakout offensive player: Kalish
    Breakout pitcher: Strop

    Mather ? Kalish at age 22 was holding his own with cups of coffee at the mlb level in Boston. He was groomed to be Elisbury’s replacement as a top redsox prospect. Now that he is healthy, after being in rehab for two years, the dude could easily steal 40+ bases with an on base % 350+. He does all the little things right needed to win games along side playing good defense across all three out field positions.

    I hear a lot of jeckel and Hyde comments regarding Strop. Under Bosio he builds in his cubs 2013 success.

    • bpot92

      I dont know about 40 sbs just due to playing time in the beginning is probably that as a 4th/5th of or late inning replacement. But I would take 20 stolen based and a .350 obp from our 4th OF

  • J Daniel

    LOVE IT!!!!! Baseball is back, Nothing better, well, almost nothing. I love reading the comments today! There are a lot of IF’s … but WHAT IF some of these what if’s work out? The result will be a much improved team that will be more enjoyable to watch because it will include players that will be part of the core.

    What if Olt is ready and is a third baseman unlike Gary Scott and Kevin Orie? What if Bonifacio is a lead off hitter that can steal 30 bases and be a guy like Bobby Dernier? What if Kalish turns out to be a really good replacement for Ellsbury but he is with the Cubs instead of Boston? What if Rizzo can hit .275 with 30 homers? Take that EVERY year! What if Arrieta, Strop, Ramirez, and Vizciano turn into the real deal? What if Jackson FINALLY busts out and realizes his potential that has had teams continually wanting him? What if Smarj does live up to all of the hype and becomes an ACE TOR guy? What if Baez, Bryant, Almora, Soler, and others start making their way to Clark and Addison? Whew, a lot of what ifs! But it is what makes baseball so exciting and why we love this time of year.

    I have a feeling that some of these what ifs are going to work out and that we will see improvement this year. I have a feeling that there will start to be some excitement that we have not seen in awhile. Why do I believe this? I believe that Theo, Jed, and Jason know what they are doing! I believe in what McCloud said the other day … That they are close and will be busting out soon.

    Here is to baseball!!! And to borrow a famous line … If you build it they will come … Well, I believe that they are building it and we will see a competitive team for years to come.

    PLAY BALL!!!!!

    • Gramps

      J Daniel, I love the optimism! We are all Cubs fans and all wishing for a good year. GO CUBS!

      • J Daniel

        Thank you! I have not watched at all the last two seasons, just a few innings total. I love baseball and love watching the Cubs. I just chose not to watch a bunch of guys that are not going to be around long lose.

        I will be watching this year as there are finally starting to be some guys that are part of the plan … even if it is to trade them when someone else is ready.

        Let’s face it, maybe they have better coming than Olt and Rizzo. Maybe those two will be dealt for more younger better players? We don’t know how it is going to work but Olt and Rizzo are part of the future along with a few others. Finally worth watching again.

    • Tony_H

      One way to prove that if you build they will come, is to look at this.

      “The Cubs drew 213,815 at the new ballpark, breaking the old mark of 203,105, which the team set in 2009 at HoHoKam Stadium.

      In 15 home games, the Cubs averaged 14,254 fans, tops in the Cactus League, and Cubs Park now has the top 11 single game Cactus League attendance marks.”

      They built and they came out in record numbers.

      • GaryLeeT

        Or, a lot of people were looking for an excuse to escape a brutal winter.

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

      This is what I have been saying. Not all will happen but if they do then we’re probably in the playoffs. Just saying that while un-probable, it is possible.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Granted that’s a lot of “ifs”. But…. for the first time in a while there is something to be excited about on this team!!

  • Tony_H

    Excellent article on the Miguel Cabrera arguement by Dave Cameron. He actually has many different points and counterpoints to this contract and whether you love the idea of keeping a vet like Cabrera or hate this contract, you will love this article as Dave actually argues with himself the pros and cons of different points.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/miguel-cabreras-terrible-and-understandable-contract/

  • chuckleberry74

    I really hope your prediction for Arrieta is right. I live in Baltimore, am a Cubs fan since the 80’s and was really excited for Jake to get a change of scenery. His problems with the O’s were all in his head, and never his abilities as a pitcher. His stuff is phenomenal. I really hope Bosio can work his magic with him, because if so, we got a steal with that trade. It was frustrating here watching the Orioles and seing flashes of a great Jake, and then consistently letting his head get in the way.

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

      He certainly has the potential to be an ace. Whether or not he reaches it is the key, but I agree his problems in Baltimore were in his head. Which doesn’t necessarily bode well for a pitcher but it has worked out before.

      • BigJonLilJon

        I wonder if he just had to much pressure on his shoulders at to young an age. An opening day “ace” in a tough division and all. Now he has Bosio and is a 5th starter. No pressure and can do his thing flying under the radar.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      sounds like Rich Hill…and didn’t Hill wind up in Baltimore?

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

    Offensive: Ryan Kalish
    Pitching: Vizcaino

    Kalish is younger than Mather and this will be his first spring to break camp with a MLB team. Other than the fact Mather had some hits in spring training two years ago I don’t see any other similarities IMO.

    I think an outfield of Lake, Kalish and Schierholtz could be decent. I still hope they trade Schierholtz and bring up Coghlan.

    • cubtex

      Surprised you didn’t go with Arrieta.

    • cubtex

      and I agree on Coghlan. I think he would be a good and versatile bench piece and he is still young. Nate McCouth revitalized his career and I think Coghlan is not done. If not with the Cubs….it wouldn’t surprise me if he became a solid mlb regular again.

  • BigJonLilJon

    Offensive – Olt
    Pitcher – Arietta
    Ive been saying for a while now that Olt is the real deal. Cant jump off that band wagon I started!! He has power, will hit for average due to his good plate discipline, draw some walks and get RBI chances hitting behind Rizzo et al.
    Arietta has awesome stuff. Every one knows it. I agree with a lot of has written here – change of scenery, new and easier national league, Bosio ro coach him and keep him from being his own worse enemy…. Good things will happen for him. GO CUBBIES!!!

  • John_CC

    -Rizzo
    and…I want to say Jackson, as I fully expect a much better season numbers wise. But I would call it the classic “bounce back” not a breakout, as I do not see him having the best season of his career. That is what I am considering break out, best season yet. So, after that long winded explanation…
    -Samardzija (this is actually more hope than anything)

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      good call on EJax…I also expect a bounceback, but wouldn’t call it a breakout either.

  • Larry Cutler

    Great read! I can’t wait until Opening Day! Been a Cubs Fan since 1963. In 2002 I went to ST for a week. Got to see the 3B “Phenom” at the time, Gary Scott. I also got to see the guy with the funny last name, Mark Bellhorn. He caught the last out in the 2004 WS with Boston. Where are they now?
    Breakout player: Rizzo
    Breakout Pitcher: Shark (If not traded)

  • cubtex

    I think we will see Starlin Castro be the Starlin Castro he was in his 1st full season.
    Breakout Offensive- Castro

    Pitcher? Hmmm. I don’t think it will be a starter but I will go with Arodys Vizcaino since I think he will be called up mid season and get some opportunities out of the pen. Bullpen will be taxed this year and we will see a lot of players being brought up.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    breakout offensive player: Olt and/or Rizzo. I think it will be one or the other, and it may as well be a tie.

    Breakout pitcher: The only current pitcher I see surprising any of us would be Vizcaino. If he can find his control, he would have a lot of upside. I think Arrieta was available for a reason…not that good. Don’t bother saying Shark. Can’t see Wood being much better than last year. Could Strop have a good year ala Marmol in his prime years with us? Maybe, but he also has to show better control.

    and agree on the Cubs restoration front…something will give over the course of this year. I would be surprised if Ricketts’ sell, as the mlb club would seem more valuable with all the young prospects about to bloom and there is a new snazzy ST park, but a new owner would inherit the rooftops mess, so not sure they would make a killing selling the club until restoration efforts are underway. And then once restoration efforts are underway, why bother selling then…as I would want, as an owner, to bask in all the glory of an improved team at an improved park. If they were hurting for money, I could see them selling shortly after park is fully rehabbed, but I doubt that happens.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Breakout offensive players Rizzo and Castro.
    Pitchers Arrieta and Strop Baltimore is going to wish they never traded them. Hammel and Veras will tank.

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

    Although I picked Kalish I agree Rizzo is going to break out. I see him having a big year.

    There are lots of candidates because for many of the guys there’s nowhere to go but up. But I will say I think that many will do so this year. I think they will feed off each other and help relieve pressure. The past two years so much focus and expectation has been on Rizzo and I think it’s hurt him. Now he’ll be about 3rd down the list of guys under the microscope. Plus I really like what he’s doing against lefties and the amount of work he appears to have put in the offseason, especially to take the ball oppo and use what pitchers give him. I believe this is the year he proves that he is a solid, future all-star caliber 1st baseman. Plus he’ll probably win a gold glove.

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

    The whole tone of this thread has got to be burning some folks up and has them wondering what the rest of us are smoking! But I love it and it’s nice to be enthusiastic and share it with some of my Cubs brethren. As I’ve said all along it’s a choice to be excited or not and there is plenty to be optimistic about and plenty to doubt. It’s a decision which way you want to go.

    I also, am still convinced that there are many who will never support Theo and anything resembling success while he’s President. He lost some hearts and minds when he didn’t hire Ryno and he has never been able to get them back.

    • cubtex

      you keep saying it is about Ryno. I don’t believe that. It is that he is losing on the mlb front to one day be successful. They are the #4 valued franchise in all of baseball(1.2 billion) and he is not putting a good product on the field during the rebuild. We will all be excited when this team wins but I will continue to say this Rider….What Theo is currently doing is nothing extraordinary. Getting top picks because of a poor product and trading EVERY mlb player on the roster for prospects. I have been saying that this will work one day but in the words of Scott Boras( An All Day Sucker)

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

        I think it is extraordinary but I hear some i what youre saying. But don’t discount the Ryno factor. As soon as it was announced he wasn’t being hired there was venom all over this site and muh of the doubt and refusal to support comes fom the same people. I’ve been around and I remember who many were. I’m not going to start calling people out but it’s the same folks.

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

          Correct that. A lot of then are the same folks, not all.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          I don’t buy the not-hiring-Ryno factor…it has honestly never occurred to me. I am fine the Bulls never hired Michael Jordan to coach also. Icons don’t automatically transition well to different jobs…I would rather remember them for what they were good at, rather then have to endure them stumbling and tarnishing their legacies.

          Cubtex was dead-on…just about anyone can tank and get a good pick. Picking Bryant wasn’t some huge scouting win…he was expected to go that high.

          I don’t think others fully understand my argument, but what I continue to say is that you can absolutely rebuild a farm system without purposely losing to get a high draft pick. Either way, purposely losing to get a high draft pick is not a sustainable strategy if the goal is to consistently win.

          If the Cubs consistently win from 2015-2022, they will not have high draft picks for all those years. So “true” sustained success will have to come from smart drafting/scouting, maximizing trades and unloading aging assets in a timely fashion to keep reloading the system, etc… What you won’t have is: Baez, Bryant, or other high-pick studs.

          So if you want to call this a “kick-start” that is fine…but don’t tell me it is a long-term strategy, as it isn’t. Any long-term strategy for sustained success begins in the first off-season following the Cubs finishing over .500.

          In the meantime, we stock up on high draft picks and Rickett’s pockets a bunch of cash as we have one of the lowest payrolls in mlb this year.

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

            Nobody is losing on purpose. They just haven’t gone for it, because of they don’t want to cobble together a one year winner.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            you have seen the starting lineups the past two years, right? Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to ignore reality. Cubs were not trying to win the past few years.

            If they truly were trying to win the past few years, then what does it say about the FO? They must be really really horrible at their jobs. I don’t think that was the case…this is pretty obvious that the losing was by design to net some high picks to kickstart the beginning of the rebuild.

            Teams tanks all the time. They just don’t like to own up to it.

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

            Stop making them out like the Bkack Six. This tanking idea is irresponsible. They have played the card they had and traded MLB assets for long term prospects. Because the MLB guys weren’t great anyway and they had no team capable of winning a playoff berth. They would have been thrilled to win with what they had. You say tank like Theo ordered players to miss balls and strike out. It’s irresponsible and a serious, criminal accusation. They had a plan and if they won while executing it they would have been happy. But they didn’t and they didn’t lose sleep over it. Just stop with “tanking.”

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            You guys can’t have your cake and eat it too. Read your comments.

            You claim they didn’t care about winning 80 games yet say they aren’t tanking.

            I am not saying players were instructed to suck. I am saying they filled the lineup with players that sucked, and just let them do what they normally were capable of doing.

            It is really simple:
            They have money.
            They have not spent the money on FA.
            They benefited from poor records the past 3 seasons, via draft order.
            Taking out prospects (lake, olt) and “core” guys like Rizzo, Castro, and Wood, the other 15+ spots are filled by mediocre talent that would not be starting, or even on the bench of a playoff team.

            They are finally coming out of this purposeful downfall, as the prospects are on the cusp of coming up, so it is time to get better. I don’t think we are going to gradually get good…I think it will be like going from Winter to Summer and skipping Spring. The mlb team has been artificially kept bare of solid veteran talent, and that will change soon (likely this next off-season).

            But the record the past few years has not been a coincidence or bad luck. Otherwise there is no escaping that this FO has been horrible managing the club for two years.

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

            Can agree with most I that J. But it’s not tanking, it is strategy. It’s playing the hand your dealt for sustainability. From what I read they don’t have a ton of money because i the awful shape the teams finances were in when Ricketts took over. Regardless Theo doesn’t control payroll anyway. He has a budget and it’s probably been a tad higher than he has gone but in his eyes given what he had this was the best way to build a sustained winner. If he had a blank check maybe we could win and build a system. He’s d have to trade every existing asset and purchase every FA to do it though and that money just isn’t there.

          • Tony_H

            I will try to explain how they don’t want to win 80 games yet haven’t tried to win 60 out of the gate.

            Try…try try try to follow this logic:

            They are not adding elite FA’s that are already in their 30’s and require long term contracts. That makes no sense for this team at this time. They are adding lesser FA’s looking for value signings to stretch the money they are allocating to the major league product. They also have an eye on flippable players. When they get into June and July they make an honest assessment of their chances to make the playoffs and the last 2 years they have said they are far too small of chances so they traded off short term assets to get long term assets. This also has led to losing more games and getting better draft picks.

            IF THE GOAL WAS TO WIN 80 GAMES, they would have kept the short term assets and not flipped players and tried to win more games to show fans like you they are trying. But that was not in the best interest of the long term success of the Cubs.

            Hopefully you will get this.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            If the goal was to win 80 games, they could have signed FA’s…simple. Then also having more flippable assets. Simple.

            Their payroll is at 10 year low.
            Their “allocated” budget for mlb club must be going somewhere. Apparently you believe it does not go to the owner, so it must be going to rehab Wrigley. Oh wait.

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

            Those top FA’s aren’t flippable because they are so overpaid for their performance and age.

          • Tony_H

            Plus they are not going to go to a team and allow themselves to be flipped. They have more options then that.

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

            And when those guys do he signed two years later their contracts end up on lists if the top 10 worst contracts in baseball. Theo wants to avoid that.

          • Swish23

            let’s review the free agents not signed who aren’t over 30; thus making your whole arguement BS. Numbers dont’ lie, Cubs missed on Tanaka, Darvish, Ryu, Cespedes, Puig, traded a young SP in Cashner for a 1b, who is easliy found in FA, want to trade Shark, another homegrown SP, didn’t get involved in Jimenez or Garza or Santana, all at 30; all signed for below market EJax money, never got into the Fister market or Dexter Fowler market, Traded DJ LaMaheiu for garbage, missed on Anibal Sanchez, its a long list of players who added to JH guys of Castro, Castillo, Baez, Alcantara, Lake come this September, plus keeping Cashner and Shark, would be a pretty good team depending on who of the 14 players I lised under 30 they etiher traded or did not sign.
            Numbers don’t lie. Instead this team has no shot of the playoffs to maybe 2016, but so little pitching from all the assets being traded, 2016 is a slim chance when the owner cannot afford the team and has payroll below minimum wage of MLB teams.
            This is an expansion era rebuild in the 3rd largest market in baseball with attendance not reflecting the garbage product on the field.
            Sad for Cubs fans; even those that think Theo is a genius.

          • Tony_H

            Amazing how you got an upvote on a day old post within a minute.

            Your negativity has no end.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I believe you are incorrect, and here is why:

            You sign a guy, likely overpay a guy, for 4 years $15m/yr.

            Maybe he isn’t worth that much, but still a valuable, under-control piece, to a playoff contending team.

            You make it known you will cover $5m/yr of that contract, and in return you request a higher caliber of prospects.

            This is the same, essentially, as providing a $15m signing bonus to a prospect from Cuba, or Tanaka, etc…

            This is a loophole that a MAJOR MARKET team like the Cubs can exploit. All they have going for them is their profitability and their farm system.

            So put the profitability to work by taking that cash (and yes, there is risk in any signing) and sign 3-4 of these upper-tier FA’s that you know are historically in demand, ala Garza, at a trade deadline. Look at the money as a way of “buying” additional draft picks.

            This is NOT that different from Theo’s original strategy of out-buying everyone in IFA, but then, as he has stated numerous times, mlb went and changed the rules, and that slowed down his approach. To me, this is a loophole that allows him to do the thing he wanted to do with IFA, but with actual mlb prospects.

            This isn’t that complicated.
            If it was ok to overspend for IFA to get depth in the system and create “waves” of prospects, why is it any different to sign more FA’s, flip them (and buy down the contracts as needed to increase the haul you receive back) for prospects.

            It is basically the exact same end result: more prospects in your system, and all you lost was cash, BUT you get the added benefit of 1/2 a season with those FA’s hopefully producing on the field and providing a more entertaining product for your fans.

          • Tony_H

            Give some examples of players that you think would except this type of deal to be flipped?

            The type of FA’s that can get these contracts, can choose to go to a team of their choice, why would they let Theo choose where to go for them?

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Examples of players that would agree to be overpaid: virtually all mlb FA’s, and their agents.

          • Tony_H

            NO, let’s get specific and give some examples of players the last 3 off-season that the Cubs could have signed away from the team they chose and given Theo the power to choose who he wanted to trade them to, and take away this from that player.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            How many players took a lower offer? Any of them? DId Tanaka?

            This isn’t rocket science…players typically take the highest contract offered (Cano as one example who blatantly admitted it. I think Greinke admitted this as well)

            So Cubs gauge the market value of a FA, add 10 or 15%, and FA likely signs with them, thanks to good ol’ fashioned greed and the urging of their agents.

            Think about it: “so the Cubs want to overpay me, and likely I will get flipped to a playoff team that normally would not have paid me as much as the Cubs will. But because the Cubs will swallow some of my contract in a trade, that playoff team will now want me, and I still get the full amount of the awesome contract the Cubs signed me to? Let’s do it!” – any FA to any agent in mlb.

          • Tony_H

            NO CHANCE a player would sign a long term contract knowing they could end up in Kansas City, Seattle, Toronto (or any team they don’t want to play for) without their approval when they have all the approval in choosing where they sign.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Garza went to Milwaukee…Milwaukee. Seriously.

            Cano went to Seattle.

            These guys go where the money is. Stop acting like they put a ton of thought into it. Money talks.

          • Tony_H

            Yes and neither is doing so to be flipped.

            Anibal Sanchez the Cubs offered to overpay, yet the Tigers matched it. Players that can get these long term contracts would only use the Cubs to get the offer they want from the team(s) they want.

            Robinson Cano has FULL NO TRADE PROTECTION

            Garza took the only 4 year deal he was offered and did so at a discount from what he should have received due ot his injury history.

          • Tony_H

            And they put a ton of thought and work into their Free Agency choices.

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

            Teams that make those moves do for two reasons:

            1: to “create excitement.” These teams dot win titles.

            2: to put themselves over the top to win a title. To sign that “missing piece.”

            We know Theo will do what he thinks is best and doesn’t care if were excited or not. And we aren’t at a spot to need a missing piece. Maybe soon but not now.

          • Tony_H

            IFA
            DRAFT
            FARM SYSTEM

            There is more than the major league team to fund in the baseball operations department.

            Do you think Ricketts is taking money out of the CUBS?

            If not, then stop with those ridiculous accusattions you make saying that he is.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Yes. I absolutely believe the profits from the Chicago Cubs baseball team go to the owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. And I would say that about every mlb team pretty much.

          • Tony_H

            Do you think he is taking the money out of the Cubs?

            YES or NO

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

            The Ricketts are going broke right now. The team is not currently producing incme for them. Thy are coming out in te red overall.

          • Tony_H

            I don’t think the Ricketts are going broke, but saying the owners make the profits is one thing, but he makes constant accusations that they are taking money out of the Cubs and “lining their pockets” I would just like a direct answer to a very simple question.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Crane Kenney, the actual finance guy for the Cubs, claims otherwise.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            It is an absolute fact that the payroll of the mlb team is lower under Ricketts. Crane says they are awesomely profitable.

            Less money paid on mlb team.
            No money, effectively, spent on Wrigley rehab yet.

            If profitable, those profits must go somewhere. Typically they go to the owner of a privately held company.

            Now, the money could be sitting in an untapped bucket of “available to use” funds for the mlb team…I have no way of knowing. They don’t publish their accounting that I am aware of. They are not a publicly traded company, and don’t have to disclose all that stuff.

            In general…less money going into mlb club. In general, profits go to owners.

            2 scenarios:
            Ricketts restricted payroll directly, which, in this case, would mean he is pocketing the cash basically.
            Or Theo is purposely not spending his payroll max…again likely part of artificially keeping mlb team primed for optimal draft position while also not creating any logjams for upcoming prospects.

          • Tony_H

            YES OR NO

            Profits do NOT have to be distributed out and business can keep the cash in the business accounts.

            JUST ANSWER

            YES OR NO

          • Tony_H

            Still waiting for a simple YES OR NO answer……….

          • Tony_H

            Plus you are assuming they are turning an actual profit. EPITDA is not actual profit but cash flow before INTEREST, TAXES DEPRECIATION AMORTIZATION

            You can have a postiive EPITDA and not have a real profit.

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

            They probably haven’t used all the budget. Why waste the money when the guys that could really help would burden you?

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

            Maxing the budget would be like bringing band aids to a train wreck. Not effective enough to make a difference, but enough to say you tried. Maybe some would like that. I could care less as I look for results.

          • Swish23

            I’m calling you out. You continually say the team is not losing on purpose. They are LOSING on purpose. Top 5 reveunues, 1.2 billion in value, 23rd in payroll, payroll 60M less from the Tribune days (plus add’l 25M in tv contracts and 10M from new Budweister deal) equates to 95M not being used for the MLB team. they are tanking for draft picks, draft slot money, international money, trading MLB players for prospects, and on and on. Nothing genuis about this, we could have a President making 300K not 3M doing this. This whole 1 year winner thing is old and not true. Cubs were 2 time division winners in 2007 and 2008 and were over .500 in 2009. If Theo is trying; he should be fired today. Worst 2 years in Cubs history is on his resume and the Cubs have existed since 1876. This team is a sure fire bet to lose 90 and even 100 if Shark is traded making 3 years for Theo. Cubs are tanking. Numbers don’t lie.

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

            I’m not going through this again. It’s all explained above. If you don’t understand strategy that’s on you. Tanking means they are instructing players to strikeout and make errors. That Theo and the FO are upset when the team wins. That’s not the case. They’ll take whatever draft choices they ger. Please read above if you need to be educated on the differences.

          • Tony_H

            1) Do you actually think that Theo’s long term strategy is too lose as many games as possible to get Top 5 draft picks on annual basis?

            2) Do you not think that Theo’s plan is based on scouting and development?

            3) Do you not see Theo maximizing trades and unloading aging assets in a timely fashion to reload the system?

            4) Do you actually believe that Tom Ricketts is taking ANY money out of the Chicago Cubs to line his pockets?

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            1. No. I stated this fairly clearly. It is a short-term plan to stock up on high draft picks by really really being horrible at the mlb level, and starting borderline utility players in the everyday lineups in many positions. What I am pointing out is that every likes to say “this is part of the long-term plan” and my entire point is that it can NOT be part of a long-term plan as you can’t both be competitive year after year and get high draft picks year after year. So we have not really seen what his long-term plans look like yet. Again…the long-term plan starts the off-season after the Cubs are over .500 (meaning no high draft pick coming).

            2. never said it wasn’t…assume it is.

            3. jury is out, but a decent grade so far. still say he should have unloaded Shark already, but hopefully he proves me wrong and still gets a good haul. His Ejax move is puzzling, and obviously they didn’t land Tanaka.

            4. Yes. I am fairly certain Ricketts didn’t buy the Cubs to empty out all his pockets. All but the most rabid and insane billionaire fans would buy a sports team and not try to make money.

            Try…try try try to follow this logic:
            I think we all agree Theo’s long-term strategy for sustained success does not involving getting the #1 or #2 draft pick every year as a result of a poor record.

            Further, we assume that once “the Cubs are good” Theo’s long-term strategy will kick in and we will have sustained success.

            This is key…follow closely…if you believe Theo can accomplish this, you are effectively saying that a mlb club CAN stay competitive, consistently, for a long period of time, without having top 5 draft picks every year. Intellectually, we already know this to be true, just by looking at teams like the Braves and Cardinals.

            So! What that means is: a team can be competitive, year after year, without a top 5 pick.

            Therefore, my contention has been, and will remain, that we did NOT have to suck so bad the past 2-3 years in order to be good consistently for the next 10-15 years. I believe the Cubs, one of the most profitable franchises in all of mlb, could have bought numerous FA’s, been competitive, and certainly more entertaining (I am a fan, after all), and easily flipped those FA’s as much as they wanted to effectively “buy” prospects, thereby loading up the system at an even faster rate than simply sucking for a top 5 pick and trading only 1-2 players each year for any decent returns.

            But they did not do that…they sat on their hands. And we all applaud the Bryant signing, and rightly so we are excited for his future, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking he was acquired through some super-smart scouting effort or genius rebuilding methodology. Nope…we just sucked really bad and got a high pick and chose the obvious stud.

            This will all be moot in another year, as we will transition, hopefully, from sucking-on-purpose, to long-term competitive plan.

            So my argument is not with the future as it currently is positioned…but rather we went through a lot of unnecessary pain, as there was a way to stack the system with prospects and still be competitive.

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

            He’ll take whatever draft picks he has. It enters into the strategy zero. Theo has always won by getting more draft picks, not higher. Now he can’t do that so he’s manipulating prospects by trading short term aging MLB players for long term young prospects. Is picking high good? Yes, but it has nothing to do with the strategy or “tanking.”

          • Tony_H

            You really need to look back at what Theo has said he is doing. He has told us exactly what he is doing and how it is going to happen.

            Not sure why you think they could have remained an 80 win team and rebuilt the farm system or how that has anything to do with maintaining a farm system once it has been rebuilt, even if you don’t get as a high of a draft pick. This farm system was in really bad shape and needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. Now that the farm system is almost completely rebuilt, it won’t need the influx of players to the same level as they have been doing, using IFA, veteran trades and Top 5 draft picks. That is why they went all in with IFA during this period, because they felt the guys they could sign now, were better and better timing then waiting another year and staying within the guidelines.

            The team the last 2 years would have had much better records if they wouldn’t have traded off the vets each year. But that was not the goal to win 80 games.

            Adding “better” free agents and then flipping them would not work for long as the better free agents are not looking to do that and would say no and have said no to the Cubs. That is why they have added the type of players who the have signed and then flipped. And the players have actually benefitted by doing this, just ask Scott Feldman.

            Theo also didn’t have many Top 5 picks in Boston and drafted and developed major league players.

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

            If they hadn’t traded the vets we’d still have a 20something rated farm system. That would have been the cost of winning 80 games and still missing the playoffs. I want titles, this is the way to compete for them over a decade or more.

          • Tony_H

            I don’t get why people think you can win 80 games, be oh so close, and rebuild a farm system that is in 20’s ranking, all at the same time.

          • TheWrongGuy

            You can’t Tony.
            Not in today’s baseball world.
            The teams that have been built in the last 2 years were about getting rid of bad contracts, and bad mentor’s for young players. The talent level for the last 2 years has been super LOW. So they were building teams to lose? No building teams with low talent level showing the minor leagues that they will give them a chance they just have to play at a very high level at the Major’s(cleaning the system).

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

            Agree. Only so many assets. They could have moved prospects and filled a few holes in the MLB lineup and been slightly better with Soriano, et al still around but then we’d be horrible for even longer than we have been the past two years, much longer. The current plan is for sustainability.

            You can say Theo has built up the farm system and the future at the detriment of the MLB product. That is absolutely true. As season’s progressed and it became obvious wwe had no chance to win they would make a conscoius

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

            Decision to sell off any producing players and once again play the long game. Is that the same thing as “losing on purpose?” No. They love to win, but they are smart and want to win titles, not games.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            “built up the farm system and the future at the detriment of the MLB product” as you put it, is the same as losing on purpose.

            You guys are the ones acting pseudo offended here. I am not saying it is/was wrong, as teams do it every year, in multiple sports.

            I am simply saying I don’t think it had to have been done that way. Either way, I am bored arguing the past with you guys. It doesn’t change the present either way.

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

            WE are all fans supposedly and I get passionate. If my comments upset anyone that is not my intent. I want to make that clear. I hate arguing with my fellow fans. But I do get bothered by stuff people say as I’m sure we all do.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            wait…they didn’t want to win 80 games?

            Don’t tell Board.

          • Tony_H

            That comment shows how you don’t understand what is going on.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            ok Tony.
            I will just pretend that the Theo plan is infallible and not to be questioned. Got it.

          • Tony_H

            No one said it is infallible or not to be questioned. But at least GET IT!

            Got it!

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Yes Tony.
            Any stock recommendations? I gotta believe you are always right on those, too.

          • Tony_H

            No one has said that Theo is GUARANTEED to win a World Series here. There are no guarantees.

            This is the plan that Ricketts wanted, to rebuild this from the ground up, to keep ALL of the money generated by the Cubs with the Cubs and to set this franchise up for the long term.

            There are many other ways to do things in professional sports. This is how he has chosen to do it.

      • Denver Mike

        Ugh, this conversation is so tired I’m almost disappointed in myself for wasting the keystrokes, but then again I have 45 minutes left to kill at work so what the hell…

        Theo doesn’t set the MLB payroll, Ricketts does. Spending money and putting a quality product on the field is not Theo’s decision to make, it’s Ricketts. Theo has had zero to do with the rooftop contract, or the years of bickering between the sides that has delayed the renovations and extra income for the team. Is he responsible for putting the MLB roster together, sure he is, but what is he supposed to do with the limited funds he has? Field a mediocre team that still finishes behind the Cards and Reds every year just to keep some temperamental fans happy? Ha! That’s hilarious.

        If I told you that you would win the lottery in July this year, would you still keep buying lottery tickets and wasting your money every day until then, or would you wait for July 1st and start spending your cash when you actually had a chance to win?

        Better yet, what if I (Ricketts) gave you (Theo) $50 and told you to bring me back a 2014 Mercedes (World Series), I’m sure you could do it but would you be able to bring me the Mercedes today? Or would it take you a couple of months/years to flip that $50 into the $50,000 you need to get the car?

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

          Great analogies. “Tanking,” helps make Theo look like a bad guy. Nobody really believes it. Maybe they believe something but need to look in a dictionary what it means. As I said it’s slanderous and irresponsible to say.

  • EqDoc

    Breakout pitcher: Travis Wood. I think he is poised to improve on his numbers from last year, particularly with a better team behind him, and at his age, may not be the star of the rotation but could be an anchor for several year. I don’t think shark will get any better, his ego will prevent it.
    Breakout offensive player: Darwin Barney, I am sure that has people scratching their heads but I think he will hit much better this year, enough to get him traded off of the team. A break out for him will be an average greater than .250. Think about it, a 50 point increase in batting average is huge…

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    Breakouts:

    Great Lake
    Jake Arrieta

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      man…I forgot about Junior Lake…probably because he did good last year. Guess I was thinking more about guys that need to take it to another level. I think Lake can improve defensively in the OF, add more power, and prove he can do it consistently.

      With Lake, Olt, and Rizzo, a fun 3 to watch for this year, and I hope they all improve!

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Lake ,Olt, Rizzo, Khalish, and Castro.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          I am not drinking the Kalish koolaid yet, plus not sure he will get the at-bats at mlb level to prove anything one way or the other. I also don’t want his playing time to increase at expense of Junior Lake. If they play Kalish instead of Sweeney or Schierholtz, I am all for it.

          Castro has a lot to prove. I won’t even be sold on him if he makes the all-star team this year…I want to see his stats at end of the whole year, and see what he was able to do consistently. Hopefully he figures it all out.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Brian, for the position player I am going with Welington Castillo. He really impressed me with the improvements he made last year, both offensively and defensively, and has worked very hard this spring. With the lack of catching in the organization, I think his development and ability to take his game to the next level is a big key for the Cubs moving forward.

    As for a pitcher, I cannot pick one. If any of the pitchers, maybe outside of Strop or Rondon, get off to a good start they will likely be moved. I am curious to see how Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch and Arodys Vizcaino pitch once they are called up this year.

  • Eugene Debs

    Breakout offensive player: Junior Lake
    Breakout pitcher: Jake Arrieta

  • BillyFinT

    First of all, I want to thank all the CCO contributors and founders for allowing this Ramble of Tradition to continue to this day. It’s great to have a space to talk illogical sense with other Cubs fans. We are share the same emotional investment on this club.

    Now, I have nothing to add on current events. I’ve been working on historical data and stories, on and off, for a few months this year. The more I read and think over various sources, the less I’m certain why some very good players were forgotten.

    Even today, even with tweets and social media “unionized,” we are witnessing greatness without realizing that. It’s life. It’s a shame, but I must live with it. Let me bring up one contemporary example, regarding the new generation of first basemen already in the Major League; name, age, M.L plate appearances so far… and full seasons played (partial excluded):

    Rizzo 24, 1211 pa… 2 seasons
    Craig 29, 1420 pa… 2 & 9/10 s
    Goldschmidt 26, 1483 pa… 2 s
    Hosmer 24, 1841 pa… 3 s
    Trumbo 28, 1862 pa… 3 s
    Freeman 24, 1908 pa… 3 s
    C.Davis 28, 2317 pa… 3+ seasons.

    It’s a ridiculously good list of players, very, very good players. Can you imagine that in 20 years, only one of them will be in the Hall of Fame talk? Or maybe none?

    With that Moment of Zen, good night.