Competitive Balance

It's a shame that franchise (KC Royals) can't be competitive. In the 70s and 80s, they had one of the best fan bases in baseball relative to population. The economics of the game have made thriving in KC/Pittsburgh nearly impossible. It's things like that that make me back off of my Republican economic beliefs and start to think the Communists or at least the socialists had a decent idea. KC and Pittsburgh are great small cities with great sports fans. They deserve better than the snot with bats that they are forced to root for. The Cubs bring most of their problems on themselves, as they have the resources to do better. But the Royals and Pirates in particular are truly handicapped. - "X" in TCR, Friday 12-23-05. X is spot-on correct, folks. It will likely be a long, long time before we see the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals in the World Series again, and that is a shame. Which is why from time to time there have been discussions about improving "competietive balance" in MLB. The MLBPA will never accept a NBA or NFL-style salary cap, and the mechanism of free-agency and free-agency "compensation" (draft choice) aren't going to change anytime soon, but there are other ways to equal the playing field a bit. Everyone who's thought about it probably has their own ideas about how best to do it, and I have mine, and I invite all of you to offer your suggestions as well. While you are thinking about it, here are some of the ideas I have for immediately improving MLB "competitive balance," especially as it relates to giving losing clubs and smal market teams a chance at acquiring some pretty decent talent for a reasonable price, and it's a a process which does not involve token compensation for losing free-agents by getting a pick in the "crap shoot" known as the June Draft. Rather, I'm talkng about genuine coin-of-the-realm major leagure players, and good ones, too. Let's start at the end of the regular season, and take it from there... TEN DAYS AFTER END OF MLB REGULAR SEASON: NO CHANGE: Minor league players eligible to be Six-Year Minor League Free-agents who are not added to an MLB 40-man roster by the close of business ten days after the end the MLB regular season may declare themselves free-agents by notifying the MLB office by that date. ---------------------------------------------------------- TEN DAYS AFTER CONCLUSION OF WORLD SERIES: NO CHANGE: MLB players eligible to file for free-agency under CBA Article XX would be free to do so anytime within the first 15 days after the end of the World Series. CHANGE: All players on MLB disabled lists (not just players who are eligible to be Article XX free-agents) must be reactivated from a clubís DL within the "Free-Agency Election Period" (the first 15 days after the close of the World Series). ----------------------------------------------------------- DECEMBER 7th: NO CHANGE: Would be the last date a club can offer arbitration to their own Article XX Free-Agents. ----------------------------------------------------------- DECEMBER 19th: NO CHANGE: Article XX Free-Agents must decide by the end of business on December 19th whether to accept salary arbitration (if offered). Article XX FAs who accept the offer of salary arbitration would have to be returned to their clubís "Reserve List" (40-man roster) by the close of business on December 20th. ------------------------------------------------------------ DECEMBER 20th: NO CHANGE: Article XX Free-Agents who decline the offer of salary arbitration would be free to negotiate with their old club (along with all other MLB clubs) until January 7th. NO CHANGE: By close of business on December 20th, club would have to tender a contract to any unsigned player on the club's "Reserve List" (40-man roster), including all players who are eligible for salary arbitration and all so-called ìauto-renewalî (pre-arbitration) players, or else said player is automatically "released." CHANGE: Minor league rosters would be frozen on December 20th (a month later than they are now), such that players on minor league rosters at the close of business on December 20th cannot be added to a clubís 40-man roster or traded until the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in January. Also, the MLB "Reserve List" limit (40-man roster limit) should be reduced to 36 players, or possibly even to 32. ------------------------------------------------------------ FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY: NO CHANGE: Clubs would have until January 8th to negotiate with their own Article XX free-agents who declined the offer of salary arbitration on December 19th. ------------------------------------------------------------ SECOND WEEK OF JANUARY: CHANGE: The Winter Meetings would be held the second week of January (Monday through Thursday), instead of the first wek of December. (NOTE: This is something that actually might really happen, as there has been talk in recent years about moving the Winter Meetings to after the first of the year). MINOR CHANGE The Rule 5 Draft would be re-designated the ìMinor League Draftî and would be held on the last day of the Winter Meetings (Thursday). MINOR CHANGE: The ìMinor League Draftî (formerly Rule 5 Draft) would be divided into three sections: the ìClass AAA Phase,î the ìClass AA Phase,î and the ìClass A Phase") . The former ìMajor League Phaseî of the Rule 5 Draft (where clubs can select players off AAA rosters for $50,000, and where the player must be kept on the drafting clubís 25-man roster the entire following season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000) would be re-designated the ìClass AAA Phaseî of the "Minor League Draft." MAJOR CHANGE: In the newly re-designated ìAAA Phaseî of the "Minor League Draft,î each club would be allowed to select no more than three players off AAA rosters. Players selected in this phase of the ìMinor League Draftî would be placed on the drafting club's "Reserve List" (40-man roster), would NOT have to be kept on the drafting club's 25-man regular season roster the following season. As long as the player has minor league options left, he can be sent to the minor leagues by the drafting club, just like any other player. EXAMPLE: Juan Mateo could be optioned to the minors by the Cardinals in 2006, 2007, and 2008. MINOR CHANGE: The former ìAAA Phaseî of the Rule 5 Draft (where players can be selected off AA rosters for $12,000) would be re-designated the ìClass AA Phaseî of the "Minor League Draft," and the former ìAA Phaseî of the Rule 5 Draft (where players can be selected off Class A rosters for $4,000) would be re-designated the ìClass A Phase" of the "Minor League Draft." MAJOR CHANGE: A new draft called the ìMajor League Draftî would be established, and would be held immediately after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft (ìMinor League Draftî). In this new ìMajor League Draft,î all clubs would be permitted to ìprotectî 15 players on their 40-man roster. NOTE: ALL players who have ìno trade rights,î including ì10/5î players, players with ìno tradeî rights in their contracts, and players signed as Artixcle XX free-agents after the close of the "Free-Agency Election Period' (which ends 15 days after the conclusion of the World Series) after the close of the previous season (who have automatic "no trade" rights until June 15th of the following season) MUST be among the 15 players protected. Selecting in inverse order of their won-loss record the previous season, each club would be permitted to select no more than one player, at a cost of $100,000. No club could lose more than one player. Players selected in the Major League Draft MUST be kept on the drafting clubís 25-man roster for the entire following season or be offered back to the original club (only) for $50,000. If the original club declines the opportunity to reacquire the player, then the drafting club can trade the player to another club, release the player, or place the player on "outright waivers." Try figuring out who the Cubs would protect, keeping in mind Wood, Maddux, Howry, Eyre, and Mabry would HAVE to be protected because they have "no trade" rights (Wood and Maddux in their contracts, and Howry, Eyre, Mabry, and Jones, by virtue of being signed as Article XX FAs). So that's six right there. Only nine slots left: 1. Lee 2. Zambrano 3. Prior 4. Ramirez 5. Pierre 6. Barrett 7. Cedeno 8. Murton 9. Pie Obviously if such a draft were in place, a lot of FAs wouldn't be signed as early as they are now, especially guys like Mabry, but probably Eyre, Howry, and Jones as well. A GM wouldn't want to sign a John Mabry to a FA contract prior to the Major League Draft if it would mean taking a chance on losing a Jerome Williams, a Rich Hill, or a Michael Wuertz, for $100,000, but that's EXACTLY the point of the draft. The clubs that aggressively pursue the best FAs each year and sign them early so other teams can't, will probably not be able to avoid losing one very good player every year as well. And the beneficiaries of this new annual Major League Draft (in many cases) will be clubs that are actually losing the better free-agents, although there would be no direct link between losing a FA and acquiring a top prospect or quality MLB player in the Major League Draft (because the MLBPA would not accept that type of linkage). Rather, the key to acquiring the best available player in the draft would be losing games the previous season, not losing a player or players to free-agency.


I feel honored to be cited by Phil! I like your pitch phil, shorten the 40 man protectable rosters. There's also the issue of salary cap and revenue sharing. I'd propose a modified version with the following. 1) A lower threshold for Revenue sharing that is based on how much you spend above or below the league average. Let's say each team gives to the pool 1/2 of what they spend over the league minimum, and that gets distributed to poorer franchises not based on what they spend, but based on what their revenue (would require more open bookkeeping) actually is. 2) A hard salary cap - put this at a 100% above the midpoint in the prior year. So if the average is 70MM, the next year's cap is 140MM. (The Steinbrenner Rule) 3) A salary floor - put this at 1/2 the midpoint. If the average is 70mm, nobody can spend less than 35mm. (The Carl Pouhlad Rule) That's my thought. Players would never do it. Big teams would never do it. But it would be better for fans of baseball as a whole. I have family roots in Pittsburgh. When I grew up, I got to see the great Pittsburgh teams of the 60s and 70s. Even the Pirates teams in the early 80s were fun. It tears up my grandfather to see how bad they are, and how hopeless it is that they will EVER compete in the NL Central again. Sure, Littlefield is part to blame. He wasn't a good GM. But he's operating under such brutal constraints...

KC and Pittsburgh aren't playing on a level playing field, but many of their problems can be attributed to poor management. Mientkiewicz? Terrible signing. Grudzielanek? Elarton? Sanders? (Pittsburgh doesn't lose blame either by aquiring Roberto Hernandez and Sean Casey.) Any of these guys (in singular) would be a decent stopgap on a contending team, but bad pickups for teams that are at least two years from contention. They should have put their money elsewhere, like the player development.

Wah! How will I ever compete with free-spending teams like the Twins, Indians, and White Sox? Wah!

I disagree with the premise of this post. If we're shedding tears for Kansas City, largest city in the state of Missouri, not to mention Kansas, well, I guess in order to be fair we should be crying alligator tears for the much smaller St. effing Louis (9 World Series wins since 1908---last World Series appearance 2004). "As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 441,545, making it the largest city in Missouri (St. Louis is around 350,000). Combined with Kansas City, Kansas, the population is 588,411, but the entire urban area (in both states) is approximately 2 million. As the city and surrounding metropolitan area is consistently growing, the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network, a project of Birmingham University in the United Kingdom recently designated Kansas City a city with the potential of attaining world city status." As for Pittsburgh having great fans who deserve better, what a bunchabaloney that is. Pittsburgh leads the league in fairweather fans. They show up for winners only. And I'll never forget sitting in a brand new virtually empty stadium watching the Pirates club visiting teams into silly putty on their way to the World Series in 1971. Since 1908, the Pirates have collected FIVE World Series rings. The Royals won one too. Why are we even discussing this after a season where the down-market Milwaukee Brewers beat us out for 3rd place and the subterranean-market White Sox, who make a living off the attendance scraps the Cubs leave for them, won the whole enchilada?

White Sox? Huh? That's not exactly a small market, even divided as it is. But you do have a point. Small market teams, if they make good decisions, have windows of opportunity to compete. Look at Oakland. Look at Cleveland. Look at Minnesota. Look at Milwaukee, who may very well field a more competitive team than the 'big-market' Cubs over the next few years. Are these teams on equal footing with teams like the Yankees and Red Sox? Hell no. But, given good decisionmakers and a willingness to spend above the $30-$40 million range, they can be playoff-caliber teams. Arizona Phil, the main effect of the "Major League Draft" would be to freeze free agent signings until after it passed, with "wink wink" agreements in place before it occured. I don't see it solving the 'early-actor' free agency problem, to the extent that's even actually a problem separate from payroll disparity. (It would also make no-trade clauses rarer.)

Those are good ideas but the MLBPA would freak out. I don't think they would like that players would be forced to leave against their will.

Why are we even discussing this after a season where the down-market Milwaukee Brewers beat us out for 3rd place and the subterranean-market White Sox, who make a living off the attendance scraps the Cubs - I agree with you on this one CubsWTP Add to the small market teams that compete because they have a plan list, the Oakland A's. They get the Giants scraps and have won because of a productive farm system and more recently because of a very saavy GM. The poor long range planning, non productive farm system and historical lack of pressure from the fan base makes us the Chubbies who should not be worrying about the dilemma of the Pirates/Royals. If they fail they should go the way of the Marlins or Expos. Look for greener ($$) pastures or wealthier more creative owners. See Artie Moreno for a creative owner example.

AZ Phil- I think what Selig has done has gone a VERY long way in solving the competitive balance problem in MLB. Short of going to a salary cap, this appears to be the fairest and best way to do things. In 2002, a luxury tax was instituted and that has worked wonders in giving almost every team a shot at the World Series. There will always be shit run teams from owners who aren't willing to spend even mediocre money to be competitive. So let's take a look at the payroll of the team who has won the WS the last 5 years. 2001 - Arizona Diamondbacks - $85 (8th in MLB) 2002 - Los Angeles Angels - $61M (15th in MLB) 2003 - Florida Marlins - $48M (25th in MLB) 2004 - Boston Red Sox - $127M (2nd in MLB) 2005 - Chicago White Sox - $75M (17th in MLB) And this doesn't even count the Oakland A's who have been competitive almsot every year the past few years with a smallish payroll. So, in the past 5 years only one team with a payroll of higher than $85M has won a World Series. Looks pretty balanced to me. I think the system is gaining traction and should be left alone barring instituting a salary cap. Anything else would be messing with a good thing.

Here's a thought contract both of them. The league is water downed enough.

CWTP -- KC is smaller than STL (STL is about 50% larger). Your figures cite the population for the city proper, but that's not the real picture. And KC has the inferiority complex to prove it! I lived in KC for a few years in the late 90's when it was finally sinking in that they have no chance to be contenders under the new financial balance. X is right -- it's really shame, because there are some great fans there. But a hopeless feeling settled over the franchise, and the team's marketing started to focus on a "fun night out with the kids" theme, with a little "come see the Yankees/Red Sox/etc.!" sprinkled in. Sad, really.

Nice Work, Phil. For awhile, I've been interested in writing and reading articles that cover general topics in the baseball universe beyond the Cubs. I will have to think about whether I can support a major-league draft as you suggest, I think I probably could. I certainly support the suggestion made in comments of a minimum team salary requirement...

Jacos brings up something that the union would never let happen: contraction. Two eight or ten team leagues would be great. Although I'm sure there would still be five teams in each league that knew what they were doing and five that didn't. Pittsburgh didn't sell out playoff games in the 70s. When they won their last World Series in '79 they were 10th in the 12 team NL in attendance. Some places just aren't baseball towns. And, as mentioned above, they are run by idiots. Same as KC. As KWTP points out, KC and St. Louis are not very different size-wise and most importantly, have virtually the same per capita income. But again, idiots. I don't think you can legislate idiots out of the game. I have no idea why owners who don't want to play the financial game of baseball as it exists now insist on staying in it but they do.

The Major League Draft doesn't have to be held in January. If holding such a draft in January merely delays the signing of free-agents until after the draft, then it could be held at the end of Spring Training after Opening Day rosters are close to being finalized. Improving "Competitive Balance" has been an issue for a while now in MLB. They even had a committee studying it for a while, and it didn't get very far. But the quest for at least IMPROVING "competitive balance" (not absolute parity) is why teams select in inverse order of their finish in the standings the previous season in the Rule 4 (June) Draft, why teams select in inverse order in the Rule 5 Draft, why teams get priority on waiver claims in inverse order of the standings, etc. Each of these "rewards" go against the objectivist idea that excellence--and NOT failure--should be rewarded. But the fact is, in most (if not all) professional sports, there is a "reward" for failure (higher draft pick, first refusal on waivers claims, etc). The purpose of this is NOT to "reward" failure, but rather to aid "competitive balance" and make the games that are played more "interesting" by being more "competitive," and (unfortunately) promoting "competitive balance" DOES (to some extent) involve rewarding failure. I'm sure Ayn Rand would say (if she was still talking and writing) that if a club wins the World Series (and if there HAS to be such a thing as a "draft," which she would probably oppose), that the champion should get to pick 1st in the draft of high school and college players, get first refusal on waiver claims, etc, as a REWARD for success, and then the "losers" should get what they deserve. Nothing. But the main objective of having drafts and waivers where teams get to choose in inverse order of the standings in pro sports is to "level" the playing field at least a little bit, to make the "season" more interesting for all of the fans of the game. That's why there are professional baseball "major leagues" instead of independent "barnstorming" clubs, why there are standings, why there are pennant races, why there are "Wild Card" teams, why there are playoffs, and why there is a Championship ("World Series"). If MLB disbanded and every club was on it's own, there would probably be a lot fewer professional "major league" level baseball teams, and probably a lot less national interest in baseball. But if there is a "major league," and if there are "races" to get to the playoffs and (ultimately) into the World Series, fans in markets with less resources have to feel that their club has a chance EVERY year, not just when they luck out with a Rickie Weeks and a Prince Fielder coming up at the same time once every 20 years. You can say all you want about how the Brewers finished ahead of the Cubs last season, but that was more a matter of the Cubs' sucking than it was the excellence of the Brewers. What I proposed was a couple of relatively minor things (take the roster restriction off Rule 5 draftees, and institute a Major League Draft patterned after the 1st Round of the Expansion Drafts of 1976, 1992, and 1997)--neither of which would violate the CBA, by the way--as just a couple of simple and easy ways to help franchises like Pittsburgh and Kansas City stay competitive in those years when they don't have a Rickie Weeks and a Prince Fielder coming ip to the big leagues at the same time. And you know that if Weeks and Fielder do in fact become stars in Milwaukee, they won't stay long. The Brewers will have to trade one of them once they hit arbitration, and then the other when he gets within a year of free-agency. Also there is nothing magical or mystical, nothing "written in stone," that says "40" is the "RIGHT" number for a major league club's "reserve list." Clubs are PERMITTED to reserve UP TO 40 players at any one time, but it is up to each club to decide whether to fill all of the slots. The "40-man roster" could just as easily be mandated as a "36-man roster" or a "32-man roster," and in fact it SHOULD be 32. If a club like the Yankees signs five or six "veteran" free-agents every year, that's fine---good for them, but then the trade-off should be that they can only protect 32 or 36 players (whatever the number may be) on their reserve list, and then that means more good young (and cheap) players available for small market clubs (like Pittsburgh and Kansas City) via claims off the waiver wire, or by having better players available for selection in the Rule 5 Draft (especially if clubs can option their Rule 5 draftees to the minor leagues), or by having the opportunity to select a "contending" club's 16th best player in a new "Major League Draft" (which, as I said, could be held at the end of Spring Training, if conducting it in January only makes clubs delay signing FAs). Having the opportunity to option Rule 5 draftees to the minors won't make the Royals an "instant contender," but it would help their farm system get stronger, and stay strong. Selecting a player in a proposed "Major League Draft" doesn't automatically make the Pirates a contender, but it would make them BETTER, and might keep them in the "race" an extra few days or weeks. That's all I want to do. My main idea with this whole "Competitive Balance" thing is to give fans of lousy clubs in small markets where the future is otherwise bleak (for whatever reason, even if it's the fault of the idiot who runs the team) just a little bit more hope at the start of the season. And if in my quest to "improve competitive balance," it helps a club like Oakland or Minnesota get even better and stay good longer, then that's fine, too. Hope springs eternal, and as for baseball... well, "It Happens Every Spring."

How many games did the Washington Generals beat the Harlem Globetrotters? Baseball has essentially turned into a circus. You have teams able to run with 100 million + payrolls...and you have other teams who can't run with 60 million + Rather than a sole luxury tax for the BIGGEST of the BIG spenders on payrolls...what baseball could do is implement a franchise fee to all clubs. The fee would be based on revenues from ticket sales and payrolls. Teams would be exempt from any franchise fee on revenues under 50 million...after 50 million there would be a 10% franchise fee that would go into a general revenue sharing fund. So if your team sales 3 million tickets at an average of 25 dollars a ticket...your revenues would be 75 million...25 million would be taxable...for 2.5 Million to the revenue fund. Payrolls would be taxed...the first 50 million is exempt...there would be a 20% tax on all payrolls over 50 million. If you spend 100 million on Salaries you would have 10 million to go to the operating fund. The operating fund would be divided up among teams based on the following. Teams who make the playoffs will receive no part of the operating fund. Teams who had a winning record but missed the playoff will receive 55% of the fund. Teams who had a losing record will receive 45% of the fund. However with this operating fund...teams receiving fund revenues MUST spend 100% of that revenue received on salaries. Teams receiving from the fund must have a payroll the following year that exceeds the current years payroll by the same amount as the revenue received or they forfeit the operating fund revenue (i.e. Salary dump = no revenue receipts). This would do one of several things. It would make all teams more cost conscious with big payrolls and salaries. It would reward success more than failure...yet still give money to teams who had a losing record. If you are a team like may not have any money going into the operating fund--but you would be getting money out that is aimed to make you more competitive with the opposition. One thing to remember...Major League Baseball teams are FRANCHISED... ABC corporation may be an owner of a McDonalds in NYC...BCA corp. may be an owner of a McDonalds in Chicago....they are both owners of MCDonalds. The Tribune Company owns the Chicago National League ballclub. The Cubs (and all other teams) are operating under the rules of the parent company (Major League Baseball). Major League Baseball doesn't run the business like one with Franchises. If they did, there would be more competitive balance--this is one way to do so. Teams like the Yankees may keep spending more and more money because their attitude is to win they must. But doing so is going to cost them and all the other teams further back will benefit financially. Teams who don't spend enough on payroll won't receive the benefits of the shared operating they have NO incentive to cut payrolls to bare bone minimum. What you get is teams like Pittsburgh, KC, Milwaukee...etc forced to spend more (paid for by the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets etc) and you get teams who may start to discipline themselves on the top of the scale. Without a hard salary cap, I see no way you bring competitive balance to the table without tying it to taxes and revenue sharing.

"fans in markets with less resources have to feel that their club has a chance EVERY year, not just when they luck out" I have been a Chicago sports fan all my life and I can only remember one team, The Jordan-Pippin Bulls, that had a chance to win every year. Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox... these teams had owners, coaches and fans who seemed to believe that other teams won because they were luckier. Indeed, both the Cubs and White Sox were thought to be "cursed" rather than crumby. So why this sudden need for "competitive balance" in baseball. There never has been any before. Correct me if I'm wrong but haven't the Yankees appeared in something like 39 out of the last 85 World Series? Perhaps if we want NFL-style parity and competitive balance, the best thing that could be done would be to make the Yanks play in Japan.

Cubfan: "Without a hard salary cap, I see no way you bring competitive balance to the table without tying it to taxes and revenue sharing." I guess you haven't watched must baseball economics closely the past 5 years. I think things have been very competitive overall. Teams with lower half payrolls have won a few WS the past few years.

Generally, teams with large payrolls have an advantage. The Yankees, having an unlimited payroll, have a significant advantage. It remains to be seen if that advantage translates into bad contracts to old players, and making them suck...I'm hoping that year is this year. But with teams like the Mets and Cubs spending a lot of money ($100 million) sucking terribly (The Cubs were 4th in the Central, behind the Brewers), your statement "X is spot-on correct, folks." (no offense X, I agree with you in principal) isn't so spot-on. In general, I think a lot of posters can lament the unbalance we see in parts of the league, but its not a glass-ceiling. Football's salary cap has the indirect result of forcing massive currents of FA players moving all over the league, leaving many teams looking very different every year. Thus, fanatasy leagues are the reason many watch football these days. They no longer follow one team, as you can't follow players on "your team" year in and year out. I think they need to tweak the competitive balance, but I think the changes should be phased in to determine effectivness and viability. I guess I agree more with mannytrillo on this one (holy shit), I think there is some built-in competitive balance in the league today, so long as you spend/trade wisely (for the antithesis of this, see the Mets and the 2005/6 Cubs). If the freaking Marlins win the world series twice in 10 year with that sized payroll, and payroll is the reason for inbalance, then why aren't the Mets and Cubs the eternal reps from tne NL?

A salary cap is not the answer. I mean look at the NBA Shaq is making 30 million this year and he is not even in the top 15 anymore in terms best players talk about living off hype and previous success maybe him and Prior should share some notes. The way to win is through good management look at Minaya he had good success in the worst resourced team in the league and one of the best resourced teams. If you have Kevin Malone and Steve Phillips ruuning in a team it doesnt matter matter how much money you have. Look at what Beane and Melvin have done small teams can win through farm devlopment. Look at those arms PIT has coming up I could see them contending in 08 or 09. If KC can draft more solid they can contend too.

The Marlins won the WS...but for without the Wild card rule in play they wouldn't have gotten there. It's true the Yankees haven't won a WS since 2000....but how many times did the Yankees keep Boston from making the playoffs? Or keep Toronto or Baltimore etc? Yes, I agree with Manny on this one too. I am not one in all out favor of salary caps--but this section asked for ideas on competitive balance. My idea actually rewards teams who peform successfully while keeping expenditures in check. The Cubs would have paid the price dearly last season under my proposal. They would have been taxed on ticket sales and payroll...while being in the bottom half of the revenue pool (which gets 45% to share rather than 55%). Now I'm not saying I'm for this system...rather it's the best I could come up with for competitive balance. Manny, you are absolutely right that lower payroll teams can have success on the field. But when you are in the AL east and you know you will be knocked down some 10 games because of the division you are in (if you aren't from NY or Bos)...then you can pretty much assume the small market successes will be from the AL Central...AL West...and to some extent the NL. Salary caps DO give you entirely new teams each year. I'm not sure I'm in favor of that--but one thing is most NFL cities do quite well regardless of record and No one is really considered out of it before the season starts.

What about using the luxury tax to fund the teams IN your division only? So if the Yankees and Red Sox want to spend out the nose, they'll be indirectly funneling a little cash to the teams they are about to stomp all over. In that case, you'd have to consider what over-paying for your talent does to your competition. The salary cap in baseball isnt the answer. Also, you have to consider what the extra talent coming from overseas does to competitive balance in baseball. There is just more talent available...

Cubfan- But we can't/shouldn't change the rules of baseball becuase of one division. Yeah it sucks for TB/BALT/TOR, but then they have to price for a system that is starting to really work MLB wide.

Jordan- "What about using the luxury tax to fund the teams IN your division only?" That might be a good idea for a small tweak. Maybe not ALL split up in division, but a greater percentage.

If I recall correctly, Bill James has put forth the suggestion that all TV revenues be split evenly between home and visiting teams. The main source of income for major league baseball teams is TV revenues. The main reason for revenue disparity is vast differences in sizes of television markets. With James' idea, the Yankees would still pull in much more revenue than the Royals, but the disparity would be much, much less. It is an elegant, effective solution with none of these artificial red-tape rules like luxury taxes, salary caps, etc. It is completely fair, too. Of course the big-revenue clubs would be loath to agree to such an arrangement, but James points out that the small-revenue clubs have some serious bargaining leverage that they simply don't use. They could decide to not show up to play the big-revenue clubs. Not until they agree to share. New Yorkers pay to see the Yankees club the Royals into submission, they don't pay to see A-Rod and Jeter sit around by themselves taking BP and getting pedicures. At least I hope not. To the best of my memory, James put forth this suggestion in the 2000 (2001?) edition of his Historical Baseball Abstract.

To borrow a line from a my favorite movie: If you build it THEY will come. I am so tired of his BS about small markets. Its a bunch of crap. Any team can compete if their billionaire owners wanted to spend their money. I would change two things: 1. MINIMUM salary cap. This keeps rich A-holes from hoarding their money and not putting out a competitive team. 2. Contract 4 teams. Tampa, Fla, Washington and Colorado. Baseball does not belong there. Yes I know this would mean a team would have to go to the American league. I say, AZ cause they haven't been around long enough to form strong rivalries. That would fix baseball real good. I don't care what city you are in, if you spend the money people will come. Now the problem is that teams may be LESS profitable by winning. That's the real problem here.

baseball in florida was a bigger disaster than anyone could even envision. they saw hispanics, cubans, baseball love...popularity in mixed culture LA...then 1/2 assed rolling it out...and paid. no one wants to drive to the middle of nowhere to play in that cave in TB and no one wants to sit out in 90+F 90%+ humidity mostly uncovered in florida to watch a game at a football stadium. even the competitive marlins dont draw worth a damn...they cannot get people to show up for games. neither team sells merch worth a damn.

I do agree with crunch that there should be 4 teams contracted. I have said that for 2-3 years. It would make baseball better from a play standpoint becuase the worst 100 players would not be on a major league roster.

you agree with chad, btw. while i do feel some teams should be contracted, the union just wont let it happen...ranks up there with the salary cap issue for them. no loss of player-dominated salary bargaining and no loss of jobs is a pretty core value of a union...unless you're in a corrupt airline union..hehe

Right now, KC has no chance until they develop some pitching from within which they haven't been able to do since the 80's with Saberhagen...but I think the Pirates are right there with Milwaukee as far as up and coming teams. If Duke and Maholm can replicate what they did last season and Oliver Perez can get himself straightened out and pitch like he did in the second half of '04 then the Pirates can compete like the A's have. However, the Pirates are going to need some help on the hitting side to go along with Bay. Eldred will probably turn out to be another C.Wilson, Jack Wilson needs to be the J.Wilson of 2004 when he had 200+ hits, Doumit looks like a pretty good offensive catcher. I thought B.Mueller would've been a nice addition to the Pirates but unfortunately they lost out on him. Too bad that Bullington and Bobby Bradley have been busts for them otherwise they'd probably match what Milwaukee did last season. I'd like to see a salary cap personally and do it like the NBA where the team that originally drafted and developed a player can give said player a 10-15% higher max deal so the club can hold onto the player.

Here are some more radical ideas which the MLBPA would throw a fit about, with my reasoning in italics following each one. 1. All FAs signed to a contract of 5+ years count as two spots on the 40-man roster for the duration of the contract. [i](He's that important to you, then you can't keep Trini Hubbard on your 40-man buried in AAA in case your starting CF gets hurt and you need a new #5 OF)[/i] 2. In the major league portion of Rule 5 draft, players drafted off of teams which made the playoffs but did not win the World Series do NOT need to be kept on the Major League roster before 9/1, but DO need to be be on the Major League roster from 9/1 through the ENTIRE following season. [i]This would let teams take a player who is "a year away" and lead to more high A/AA players being taken.[/i] 3) If a team with a lower 40-man roster salary sweeps a 3-game or 4-game series on the road from a team with a higher 40-man roster salary, the sweepee must pay the sweeper $2M. $1M is distributed as an immediate bonus to the players (adjusting the salary total), $1M goes into the team's coffers. [i]I think this would be fun. Think of George Steinbrenner the first time that the Tigers win the first two at Yankee Stadium...[/i] 4) Major league rosters can expand to 28 players if at least 10 players of the 28 have less than 2 years major league service time. [i]Hey, if KC and Pittsburgh are just going to be glorified minor league teams, let's at least acknowledge that they're going to need more pinch hitters and mop-up pitchers...[/i]

Crunch: "while i do feel some teams should be contracted, the union just wont let it happen...ranks up there with the salary cap issue for them." They might not have many choices soon. As you see unions have been getting their ass kicked all over the US (Airlines, UAW, NY Transit, NHL, MLB with drug testing, etc.) recently. I really don't think Selig would push very hard for a salary cap anymore (maybe just use it as a pawn in negotiations), because the luxury tax has worked very well so far and is only getting better traction. Oh yeah, sorry, meant Chad in previous post.

Interesting thread. Didn't know so many Cub fans are bleeding heart liberals concerned with wealth redistribution. Not that I'm against that to a degree. I think the current system is starting to work. Even the Royals are adding payroll. Not that they are making good decisions with the $22 mil increase in payroll. Baseball is not meant to be a uniform sport. Basic things like field dimensions vary from place to place. The strike zone varies from ump to ump, and year to year. The different leagues play by different rules. The schedules are unbalanced. Bud Selig couldn't even get the new divisions correct with 4 teams in the AL West and 6 in the NL central. Anyways, thats my thoughts, thanks for some interesting, thought provoking reading.

CMON MANNY! Credit where credit is due. Do you know how rarely people agree with me around here? Be more careful, I need the support.

Chad: "CMON MANNY! Credit where credit is due. Do you know how rarely people agree with me around here? Be more careful, I need the support." Sorry man... We tend to agree on a lot though. Not that that is a good thing for you. ;) HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Ah...the Christmas spirit finally we see some love and a great deal of inteligence thanks AZPhil great post. Keep up the good work. Just like the rest of you I am a Cub fan but I love baseball just as much and it really burns when we have these teams in the small markets i.e. TB, Pitt, KC operating like a minor league team for the other teams with bigger purse strings. Sure there are examples of teams with limited payrolls doing well but thats just an abberation.

Chad: "Contract 4 teams. Tampa, Fla, Washington and Colorado. Baseball does not belong there." I'll disagree with what you've said here, sir. While Baseball in Florida has been a problem, I'd say that baseball belongs in the nation's capital. It's a damn shame the Senators didn't stay in Washington the first time. The Nationals almost make the playoffs and you want to contract them? Also, I've spent some time in Colorado, and those guys care as much about their Rockies (even if they do win 65 games) than half of us do about the Cubs. Denver's one of the best sports markets in the country with the Broncos and the Avs, and if Dan O'Dowd wasn't a douchebag, the Rockies would win. Poor management has been the problem there. Same can be said for KC and Pittsburgh in my mind. Everytime the Pirates finally stumble on to something, they trade it away for a group of unproven prospects, many of whom fail. I currently live in the Indianapolis area and have had a chance to see some of the Pirates young arms before they called them up (Duke & Snell specifically). I imagine it'll only be a matter of time before they deal those two for some AA OF with a decent OBP or a catcher who can hit. TB, PIT, and COL haven't even tried to get good in the last 5 years. That's not the market's fault. People would go see the D-rays and the Pirates if they showed any motivation to bring in even a few moderately-priced decent players to win. I agree that the owners should be obligated to open the checkbook. If they don't want to spend, they shouldn't be baseball owners. I think baseball now is better than it has been in a long time, even with teams like the Mariners & the Tigers in the basement. I'm not sure contraction would ever be approved anyway, but I think it's a bad idea.

If they don't want to spend, they shouldn't be baseball owners. We can argue all we want about which teams need to go but I think we agree on my core point. But as far a Denver is concerned, the sport of baseball does not belong in Denver. The thin air and lack of breaking pitches is bad for the sport. Manny, I know you got my back most of the time and you know I got yours. Merry Christmas you damn Nittany Lion (GO ILLINI!!!).

people support baseball in denver, though...they buy merch and go to the game. i think the most horrific stadium condition in baseball is LF in the juice box in houston, but yeah...denver baseball is some weird stuff to watch.

"They should have put their money elsewhere, like the player development." MikeJ - First off, these teams do invest in player development. I'm curious why you'd say they don't. But even still, you can't put your money in player development and build a team from within very easily. At the same time, you'd have nobody showing up to games, you'd dsetroy your fan base, and you'd be in ruins. KC had a 37mm payroll. Pitt had a 38mm payroll. Just to compare to legitimate contending small market teams, Minny has a 56 mm payroll and Oakland has a 60mm. Guys like Miethekreiwicz and Grudz can step in and play baseball right away. They can do it better than some of the kids in those farm systems who are not ready. I just don't think you can blame the farm systems. These teams struggle to keep guys they develop, they have little chance at bringing in good mid tier or lower tier FAs, much less top tier guys. Just blaming it on "player development" isn't acknowledging the reality of the game.

I disagree with St. Louis being a small-market team. I grew up in the Chicago south suburbs where everyone was either a Cubs or White Sox fan. However, once you get below I-80 everyone in the state is either Cubs or Cardinals. The same was true in Iowa where I went to school (the Des Moines metro area is 500K and strongly supports the Iowa Cubs and their parent team). I'll assume a similar split holds true for other nearby states without MLB franchises. Although the cities may be similar in size, the draw for St. Louis is larger by far. That pumps up revenue not just from attendance but also merchandising. That brings me to a second point. Merchandising is not alway dependent on city population (a poor marker of metro size - Boston is acutally smaller than Milwaukee). The most recent MLB catalog had the Cubs and Red Sox on the front page with all the White Sox championship merchandise relagated to the back page. That's just poor planning by the league who refuses to support it's stepchild teams while pumping up its image with the few crown jewels. Clearly biased and not good for the long term viabilitiy of the league.

STL is clearly not a small market team. Their revenues, fan base, payroll, etc. don't look anything like the profiles of the Royals and the Pirates. Imagine how crappy the Cubs might be if Hendry didn't have 100mm to use to buy players?

This article really misses the point, I think. Is the point of your baseball team to make money or to win the World Series? If it's to make money, the Pirates and Kansas City did better than the Yankees and probably 10 other teams. If the point is the win the World Series, the Tampa Bays tied for 2nd with 28 other teams. Now don't say the point is to 'be competitive' because it's not. You're only trying to be competitive to increase revenues. The problem is that revenue sharing without any enforcement to make the 'collectors' spend that money is ridiculous to both the well-situated owners and the players. The twice and half salary cap/floor idea is interesting, but I imagine if you think through it, it actually winds up in upwardly spiralling player contracts. Teams would be forced to give 'across the board' raises to thier team's just to get up to the floor, regardless of whether the players deserve the money or not.

Real Neal: Hypothetically, the goal of every baseball team should be to make money AND to win the World Series. In reality, though, there are many teams (such as the D-Rays, as you mentioned) that really don't give a damn about winning (or at least don't act like they care about winning). As a general response to the thread, I think that despite MLB's best efforts to maintain an all-inclusive competitive balance, the reality of the situation is that it isn't going to happen. There are plenty of hypothetical ways in which a team could make more money, or secure higher-level players, but to me, that's not really the issue. The majority of losing teams in MLB have more than enough revenue available to increase their payroll, but they don't. While I may hate Steinbrenner with a fiery passion, and may be tired of the perennial "Yankees and Red Sox to face off in the ALCS" headlines, those teams spend the money necessary to secure the players they need. In addition to spending enough money, their upper management has at least enough sense to reasonably manage those assets and provide their fans with a winning product. The real issue to me isn't so much revenue; rather, management at all levels of the organization seems to dictate how a team performs in the regular season. The Yankees can have a $200 million + payroll every year, and that's going to help them get to the the short run. Ultimately, however, their continued abuse of their minor league farm system is going to come back to haunt them (hell, it has before) when players such as A-Rod, Jeter, and Matsui are no longer able/willing to play. Vis-a-vis, teams who have general managers intent on winning, but are not granted a high enough payroll, aka, the Florida Marlins, may not have the money to compete every year, BUT, will ultimately purge their high-priced veterans, stock up on potential superstars who make less money, and be able to compete for 3-4 years every few years (cyclically). Teams with poor management and/or poor ownership who are intent simply on "making a buck," however, will not only be cheap in regards to acquiring high-priced, high-profile free agents, but are also less likely to efficiently coordinate their farm systems, leading to a perennial losing product (aka, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). While some D-Rays apologists, and some purists may say that the D-Rays fate is sealed due to being in a division with New York and Boston, I'll argue that point all day long. You could put the Devil Rays in any division in baseball and they would still finish dead last, unless you created a division of losers and put them in it (I think KC, Colorado, and Pittsburgh would be nice additions). Until the owners of teams such as Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh make a real effort to put enough money into the team, while also hiring intelligent management, they will continue to lose. And if the owners aren't willing to sacrifice money to put a winning product on the field, why should anyone else make sacrifices (except for the poor fans in those markets)?

From Sunny South West Virginia.... Merry Christmas to all at The Cub Reporter!!

"If it's to make money, the Pirates and Kansas City did better than the Yankees " Actually, the Yanks are VERY profitable. YES is a very prfitable network. WGN without the Cubs would not be nearly as powerful as it is. The Yanks and YES are very intertwined, Steinbrenner is the managing partner and he runs them profitably, while competing every year, while driving up the value of his properties. IMHO, If the Tribune and WGN had to actually pay the Cubs for their broadcasting rights and if the Cubs only goal was to return a 10% operating profit to their shareholders, we'd have a payroll much larger than 100mm. Instead, we have the Cubs brining in enough money to make the rest of the Tribune's operations look barely profitable (or actually to look like they are losing less money depending on how you measure). If they ever truly split the Cubs from the Tribune and made them a private business, the fans of this team would benefit most. The Pirates and the Royals, meanwhile, have a much lower revenue base. Gate, TV, Radio, etc... are all infinitely smaller. Money alone doesn't win championships. But it is awful hard to be competitive without it.

"Actually, the Yanks are VERY profitable" X, no actually the Yanks have been in the red for quite a while now. From NYDN The New York Yankees lost between $50 million and $85 million for the 2005 season, the New York Daily News reported Sunday. Despite drawing more than four million fans, a payroll of $200 million plus an additional $110 million in revenue sharing and luxury taxes has left the Yankees in the red, according to the paper. The paper also reports that the Yankees might have to open up their checkbooks even further if a consultant hired by MLB decides the team undervalued their television rights. The Yankees currently charge the YES Network about $60 million a year to broadcast games, but if it's found to be undervalued, the Yankees will have to make up the difference by putting more money into the revenue-sharing fund, the paper reported. "They're going to owe us money," one MLB source predicted to the paper. The final numbers won't be crunched for a few months, but it's believed the final number will be roughly $80 million when all is tallied. According to Forbes magazine, the Yankees lost $37.1 million in 2004.

the yanks may not be profitable on the limited holdings they assign to the club, but a lotta that doesn't rely on merchandise. considering i'm in NC and can walk into any FootLocker and pick my choice of 20-colors of licensed NYY hats...along with the bazillion people in NYC and nationwide and etc etc... for what its worth YES, the yanks, and their merch...along with other crap...essentially are "the yankees"

Bogey - it's all an accounting game. If you don't think the Yankees are profitable to Steinbrenner, that's fine. But take the true value of the NYY asset and of the YES asset and add in the profits generated... It's simply an accounting game.

That's true, I was just stating the facts..Steinbrenner is one of those owners like Mark Cuban who made billions in other aspects of business and don't need to turn a profit when it comes to these guys it's public image, their fame. That's probably the type of owner you'd like to have as a fan considering the alternative like the Twins owner who is reportedly worth over $200 billion and can't find the spare money to pick up a key free agent at the deadline or help finance a new stadium...or of course the Tribune Co who has begun to spend money, but is still all about the bottom line and the stockholders and trying to squeeze every buck out of the Cubs fans. However, most of these small market clubs like the Pirates, Twins, and Reds are actually making more profit than many of the major market clubs like the Yanks, Dodgers and Mets..not more revenue, but more profit.

I simply don't buy the whole "competitive balance" deal at all. The Royals can't compete because of economics? Bullshit! The Royals can't compete because they're poorly run. They are run by people with absolutely zero creativity, who consistently run the team into the ground. The Cubs have a payroll twice as large and that results in consistent mediocrity (at best). The thing about the Red Sox and Yankees isn't necessarily that they spend buckets and buckets of money, but that they--for the most part--spend that money wisely (Kyle Farnsworth aside). The problem is that the Royals and Pirates and Brewers and so on are trying to play the same game that the Yankees do (by which I mean, hire well-established veterans on a year-to-year basis) but lack the funds to do so well. If David's going to beat Goliath he has to innovate.

Couple of comments on MLB in the 'Burgh, from a transplanted Cubbie: Demographics are really screwy here: very aging population, because of the decline of the industrial base. The oldsters are loyal but not very freely spending fans. Also disappointed that they get zero Pirate games on their TV aerial (went to cable, and its expensive). Pittsburgh is closer to Canada than Philadelphia. I've never lived in a place with so many Canadians. Higher per capita interest in hockey here, further diluting attention from MLB. And don't get me started on the Steelers (though they rock right about now; sorry about that Bears game guys). But also consider all the football greats who came from around here- this place ties with West Texas as football-crazy. (I lived there too) The younger sports fan is new-to-town, high-tech transplant from the coasts, who are glad to buy the very affordable housing, but out in the 'burbs because "The city is icky." Yeah, they get cable and satellite out there, but mainly for NFL Sunday Ticket to watch their old teams. So the out-of-the-box marketing to try and fill the seats. "What a view!" or "Buy now to qualify for ASG2006!" or "Come see Fireworks!" and I agree with those who say that even winning teams don't necessarily sell the seats in conditions like these. Note that I have kids dancing with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and PBT is also having trouble selling seats, this despite TREMENDOUS attention and funding to fine arts in Pittsburgh. So PBT hired the Penguins' advertising exec, who convinced them to compromise principles and put local television weather/sports/news people on-stage during Nutcracker. And the dancing mice now wave Terrible Towels. *Sigh*. Its all about the Benjamins. If they come, then you can build it.

Bogey, I didn't know Karl Pohland was worth 4 times as much as bill gates (the wealthiest man in the world) that's shocking! X, According to Forbes the Yankees lost net value in 2004 and gained it in 2005- but in both years their 'baseball operations' lost more money than the D-Ray's payroll. I'd be interested in seeing how Forbes comes up with thier value guestimations - if I was investing in a team the Yankees sure wouldn't be at the top of my list. The Yankees have increased competition (Mets w/ their new network) and inability to control payroll and are part of a colalition that wants more of their money.... Which of things points to long term growth?

Crunch, What part of NC are you in? Near Charlotte here. Good to see a fellow NC cub fan!

Levine was on ESPN 1000 and said the following: * The deal is still waiting approval from Angelos. The BAL baseball people want to do the trade according to his BAL sources. * Nothing is final with players involved other than Bedard and Tejada for Prior and Hill. Walker or Cedeno could be added. BAL BP think Hill can be as good as Bedard. * Levine thinks the odds of it happening are 50/50. * Levine feels the reason there willing to trade Prior because they do not think he can stay healthy. He says the Cubs think Guzman's injury history is behind him and he will have a chance at the 5th starter's job. * LAD is the front runner for Garland.

CHIFAN: "Levine feels the reason there willing to trade Prior because they do not think he can stay healthy. He says the Cubs think Guzman's injury history is behind him and he will have a chance at the 5th starter's job." Typical shitty Cubs management thinking. Guzman's injuries behind him?? Trade a top of the line injured pitcher because they think he is always injured, but then keep a lesser pither who has been injured constantly the past 3 years, because HE will be not injured. And I wonder why this organization ahsn't won in 98 years. If Hendry makes this tread, there will be nothing short of a WS that will get me to support him ever again. BYE BYE HENDRY!!!

Ahhhh, good one Real Neal, I accidentally typed 200 instead of 20...hilarious.

"Levine feels the reason there willing to trade Prior because they do not think he can stay healthy. He says the Cubs think Guzman's injury history is behind him and he will have a chance at the 5th starter's job." Levine feels this is the reason. But the real reason they'll trade Prior is because a big payday is peeking over the horizon for him and Zambrano and Hendry probably thinks he can't afford to pay two pitchers 30% of the Cubs' payroll. So the choice isn't between Prior and Guzman, it's between Prior and Zambrano. Guzman, whether anyone believes his injuries are behind him or not, is a cheap alternative. Levine is an idiot. That said, this sucks. Pitching wins. The Braves have won seven-thousand straight division championships with pitching, the two Joneses and, lately, Giles. Everything else has changed. Sad that the Cubs could have avoided all of this by signing Tejada in '03 or Furcal this winter. Of course, had they signed Tejada in '03 and moved AGonz, maybe eating some of his salary in the process, we'd still be waxing poetic on the Cubs' visit to the '03 World Series.

Tbone, Tejada signed with BAL after the 03 season. I personally dont think the Cubs told Levine that and that he was giving his opinion. Why if your working on a trade would you make it public knowledge that the guy your trading away is going to have his elbow blow. (anyways wasn't the elbow that got his non-pitching one anyway so its not like that would affect his pitching.) Maybe a rogue member of the FO who doesnt like the trade told him that so it would kill the trade. So I think your right and it is about $$$ but if the Guzman stuff is true than its a good trade because Guzman has all the potential Prior does.

Let me add to post 57 that I think his injury situtation has something to do with it, but that its more along the lines that Z is a better bet to stay healthy through a 5 or 6 year deal than Prior is. If this is Hendry's thinking he needs to call Boros now and offer Z a 78/6 deal now because it looks like when his time for FA comes that might be what he could be looking for. I mean if Burnett got 55/5 what are more etablished guys like Garland (if his 06 is like 05), Mulder, and Zito going to get and you know Boros will want to top the deals those 3 will get. in least until i finish my soon-to-start 2nd degree program and can move out west. i don't hate it here, but the city has no soul and its way too expensive for what you get in lifestyle return. at least NC has good minor league baseball. couple of years and hopefully i'll be basking in some near-year-round arizona baseball.

Glaus to Blue Jays deal is done with O.Hudson & Miguel Batista going to the DBacks.

its pretty amazing how valuable o.hudson is to teams just for his glove/arm and marginal power, alone. he's got a touch of speed, too. wonder what TOR's gonna do with hillenbrand/koskie now...overbay's pretty much a lock at 1st.

chifan, As I've said here before, someone I know in the Oakland organization says the word on Guzman is that he has lost quite a bit from when he had, in my friend's words, "electric major league stuff" in '03. Many think he will never get it back. Apparently the Cubs disagree. I certainly hope the Cubs are right.

re: guzman...though i havent seen it myself ive heard a lot of good about guzman's stuff in 05. unless something has changed since the end of the season he was back with his high velocity, but is basically having to re-tighten all his breaking stuff. based on that i very highly doubt he'll be 05 ready outta spring, but its highly likely the team will have a taste of guzman by sept...ya know...unless he's injured or something. heh

Crunch, Raliegh is one of the worst big cities in NC. Are you at NC state? Charlotte is a much cleaner and nicer city.

#61, wonder what TOR's gonna do with hillenbrand/koskie now...overbay's pretty much a lock at 1st. Crunch, Hillenbrand will be dealt considering he makes half of what Koskie makes, so the market will bring more, and is a pretty dependable hitter...actually he may end up in MIL as insurance for P.Fielder and 3B. Glaus most likely becomes the DH(which should help his bad back) with Koskie staying at 3B and Overbay at 1B. O.Hudson is probably the best 2B in baseball and TOR will miss his glove since Aaron Hill will be their 2B now and he's T.Walker-esque with the glove...maybe a touch better. DBacks claim that Chad Tracy will get every opportunity to be the everyday 3B with Tony Clark at 1B. Batista will probably move back to the rotation and replace Vasquez.

You guys are amazing. Thank you for the sympathy. I'm sure the Cubs will get back to World Series pretty soon. If the Pirates went 60 years between WS appearances, I don't know what I would do.

DBacks claim that Chad Tracy will get every opportunity to be the everyday 3B with Tony Clark at 1B. Batista will probably move back to the rotation and replace Vasquez. LMAO! He was an everday player before Glaus and he will be an everyday player after Glaus. Especially since he is a natural 3rd baseman. You make it sound like he is some scrub rookie who will have to fight for his job.

Prior is because a big payday is peeking over the horizon for him and Zambrano and Hendry probably thinks he can't afford to pay two pitchers 30% of the Cubs' payroll. So the choice isn't between Prior and Guzman, it's between Prior and Zambrano. I think we're reading way too much into not being able to afford both pitchers. While they both will be getting expensive, the Cubs will more than be making up for it by saving 9 million dollars from Greg Maddux and probably 12 million a year from Kerry Wood. You'll still have to have young, cheaper, pitchers to take those 2 spots in the rotation, but there is no reason the Cubs won't be able to keep both Z and Prior around, with money left over to give Lee a raise. More likely, Levine's an idiot who's talking out of his ass, again.

You have to give credit to the Bluejays. They had a shopping list of things to fill and pretty much shored up everything. They needed shutdown power arm in the pen. They got it in BJ Ryan. They needed rotation help, they went out and got Burnett. They needed offense so they go out and get Overbay and Glaus. You can talk about all the money they spent but they have a very solid team for next year. The team finished 2 games under .500 and they figure this is the time to make a run. They have a very good 3-4 year window of opportunity to try and win a World Series. The Cubs window of opportunity is quickly closing with no signs the Cubs were even aware the window was open to win a championship. The Cubs should of been getting type flight talent when Prior and Z were cheap. But they wasted that chance.

Millwood is a Ranger: Tbone, Guzman dominated the AFL this year when there was some of the better hitting prospects in the game there this year so I would assume from that performance he is back to where he was in 03. I wonder if AZ Phil attended any games he pitched so he could fill in us in on how hard he was throwing.

AP is reporting the Millwood deal is 60/5. Ouch the more I think of it could take like 90/6 to re-up Z and Prior in 2 or 3 years. I thought Millwood would get what Burnett money over 4 due to being over 30 and the arm problems. Atleast with Burnett's you could cite his good health since his TJS in 03. Now Zito and Mulder can ask for 75/5 next year and then Boros will want a 6 year deal for Z and in 08 Prior will atleast the same deal as Z gets. If Hendry's thinking on this is $$$ driven he NEEDS to re-up Z after the trade if it happens because even though I am the most gung ho person on this trade I would hate to put all our eggs into the Z basket and see him leave.

DBacks claim that Chad Tracy will get every opportunity to be the everyday 3B with Tony Clark at 1B. Batista will probably move back to the rotation and replace Vasquez. LMAO! He was an everday player before Glaus and he will be an everyday player after Glaus. Especially since he is a natural 3rd baseman. You make it sound like he is some scrub rookie who will have to fight for his job. MikeC do you have a reading disorder?..because I don't want to blast someone who suffers from that. Where did anyone say Chad Tracy was a scrub player? He played 3B sparingly in '04 before Glaus but was moved to 1B because he sucks defensively. He primarily played 1B in the first half of 05 before Tony Clark had his resurgence and he lost playing time. Now he's going to get his opportunity this season to play everyday for the first time in his career. Not sure what's difficult to interpret in these posts.

AP is reporting the Millwood deal is 60/5. Ouch the more I think of it could take like 90/6 to re-up Z and Prior in 2 or 3 years. This year is a market where no good free agents are available, so the FAs that are there are getting contracts that are just flat out silly. Burnett and Milwood are getting top dollar contracts, because they are the best available, regardless of actual talent. Look at Kenny Rogers, 2 years ago he made $2 million, this year he got a 16/2 deal and he's over 40 years old! This has happened in the past, and when it has, the market has corrected itself rather quickly. It might take 15mil/year to keep Z and Prior, but its more likely that we'll see contracts come back down after people see how silly its to give 12 million a year to number 2 starters.

Chifan, I heard Guzman looked good for the most part although I'm not sure dominating is the word I'd use. His walks were up from when he was at his best and he gave up around a hit an inning. I'm not sure if he got better as the season went along or not. Easy enough to check but I've got a house full of family here so I can't do it right now. I really hope he comes back from the injuries. I saw him strike out all those White Sox in spring training a few years back and he was downright thrilling.

When does the current CBA expire?

Jacos: "When does the current CBA expire?" It expires December 19, 2006

Interesting, to see how that plays out with all the contracts that were signed for these marginal players. I'm sure alot of owners will be up in arms come 2006, even though they cannot control themselves.

not much to expect at the next CBA as of now..espeically with how cooperative the player's union has been lately working with MLB on the roid rule. after first bending to allow the really pathetic 1st draft of the roid deal they rolled over pretty quickly for the 2nd draft of the deal...of course the govt. would have probally been all over it if both sides didnt solve it themselves anyway. still...there was no public fight over it and consessions were made without much bitching. but just like the roid issue suddenly getting mega important, anything could happen within a year. the luxury tax experiment over, and if it isnt, what's the top level + % penalty paid?

Crunch- Here is a good link about the luxury tax. Only BOST and NYY can get hit next year and it will be at 40% of anything over $136.5 million.

MikeC do you have a reading disorder?..because I don't want to blast someone who suffers from that. Where did anyone say Chad Tracy was a scrub player? He played 3B sparingly in '04 before Glaus but was moved to 1B because he sucks defensively. He primarily played 1B in the first half of 05 before Tony Clark had his resurgence and he lost playing time. Now he's going to get his opportunity this season to play everyday for the first time in his career. Not sure what's difficult to interpret in these posts. First off he doesn't suck defensively around the bag. Glaus is no stud at 3rd base but Tracy is considered the better glove. Tracy was only moved because the D'backs payed Glaus. That was the only reason. This suggestion that Tracy played sparingly at 3rd base in 2004 is nothing more than a complete lie on your part. He played 135 games at that position in 2004, but to you that is sparingly. If a reader came along and thought about that he might think Tracy only played 15-20 games at that position. Not the 83% of the total teams games played at that position. Finally he has been an everday player since he started playing in the big leagues. By your own quote your suggesting this is the first time in his career he will get that chance, which is another lie on your part. He was called up late in April of 2004 and became the teams starting 3rd baseman for the rest of the year. 2005, yes Clark had a good year but the D'backs in an effort to get Tracy and Clark in the lineup asked him to play in the OF. Again Tracy was a starter for his team for 145 games. You start a 145 games a year for any team and your an everday player. More importantly between going to 3 different positions in 2 years he has managed to hit .297 with a .351 OBP. In fact Tracy has more games played than Ramirez, so I guess Ramirez isn't an everday player and is also played sparingly at 3rd base? For a guy suggesting I might have a reading disorder you seem to have an obvious problem with telling the simple truth. I interpreted exactly what you said and meant in your first post... DBacks claim that Chad Tracy will get every opportunity to be the everyday 3B with Tony Clark at 1B. Batista will probably move back to the rotation and replace Vasquez. Which you later reinforced and made crystal clear in your second post... Now he's going to get his opportunity this season to play everyday for the first time in his career. To which I laughed my ass off (the first and now for the second time) and told you he has been an everday played since he broke into the majors. Even if you want to claim that his day off every week or so is not playing everday in 2005 you are lieing about his 2004 season in which he did play everday at 3rd base. That would clearly contradict what you are saying about 2006 being his first chance to play everyday. It looks like you might have the reading disorder coupled with the fact you can't tell the truth. That is one hell of a combination dude. I simply laughed at your claim this is his first opportunity to play everyday. He has been playing everday since 2004. That was his 1st, last, and only opportunity. And he has been hitting and playing ever since.

MIKEC still making friends in 2005...

I don't need friends that can't tell the truth.

Texas can opt out if he doesn't pitch enough innings in the first few years of the deal. Even if it is 4/48, it's the same thing. That's the price that pitching costs. A #1/#2 like Milwood costs at least 12mm. What's the Trib going to do when Prior and Zambrano become FAs? The answer is surely not sign both of them to 5/70+ deals. Tejada makes more sense as long as you look at this as a business. If you look at it without that in mind, it's a bad baseball move. But businesswise - it's really sensible. Either way, if we don't make another move except keep or trade Prior, this team goes nowhere next year.

X: Yeah, at this point it would be expensive to lock up Prior and Z, which makes Prior a bit more expendable; however, since we have both of them for a couple more seasons, it would make more sense (to me, anyhow) to make a supplemental move to augment the team's offense without dealing an ace. Prior and Zambrano will still have value after this year, and, if the Trib decides it can't keep both, either one could be traded at a later date. While Tejada may only be available right now, I'm afraid that Angelos is forcing Hendry's hand, and not the other way around...Plus, like I've said many times, I'd rather have Abreu than Tejada...

its been an unreal it 1998-2000 again? milwood/burnett = 12m damon/furcal (2 guys who hit 10-20 HR a year) = 13m middle relievers going for 5-6m hell...dumpster = 5m? neifi 2.5m is a "wtf" but hell, its only a style 500K-1m "wtf"...some of those up there are off by millions in a FA market not dominated by whatever the hell made all that happen. okaaaay

X: "What's the Trib going to do when Prior and Zambrano become FAs? The answer is surely not sign both of them to 5/70+ deals." Why not?? They are paying Wood and Maddux $20 million this year and they are not in the same calss as Prior and Z. If they want to win they better pay at least one of them that much and have 1-2 other ready to step in and trade teh otehr for top of the line prospects.

all this and allegedly the cubs are trying to get rid of an average defending lefty 2nd baseman with 15hr/30double power who makes 2.75m next year...and for some reason cant find a team interested enough to deal up for him. go figure.

maddux/wood's 20m are off the books next year, too...that's around the ballpark needed to pay off Z/prior in 07...08+ might be a bit scarey on the pocketbook perhaps taking up 1/4th of the budget. that's an issue to consider to keep 2 guys of this calibre and plan for the posibility of 1/4th of your payroll going to 2 pitchers for 3+ years.

crunch- Gotta remember that last year for some reason, was the first year sine 1995 (year after strike) taht the average salary went down. So what you might be seein gis a sling shot rebound effect, with salaries almost making up for the difference of them going down last year. Here are the average salaries over the past 15 years (from Year Avg. Salary % change 1989 $512,804 N/A 1990 578,930 12.9 1991 891,188 53.9 1992 1,084,408 21.7 1993 1,120,254 3.3 1994 1,188,679 6.1 1995 1,071,029 (-9.9) 1996 1,176,967 9.9 1997 1,383,578 17.6 1998 1,441,406 4.2 1999 1,720,050 19.3 2000 1,988,034 15.6 2001 2,264,403 13.9 2002 2,383,235 5.2 2003 2,555,476 7.2 2004 2,486,609 (-2.7) 2005 2,632,655 5.9 I think you will see salaries still go up next offseason, but with much less gusto.

Sorry, should of said 2 years ago.

this year's FA market can only really be compared to the other "weak" FA markets out there. this was a FA market where the marquee bats were 2 10-20 HR guys and a 36 year old OF'r who hit 15 homers last year who stayed at home for a 1m discount. the pitching cream of the crop was 2 lefty closers who got 10+m each...and milwood/burnett who got 12m not much else worth mentioning unless you're a fan of matt morris, jeff weaver, or someone else i might have missed.

Ryan - I agree - if they were playing to win now. I just don't believe TRB's main goal is to win. If it were, they'd have done a lot of different things. Manny, they won't do it for many reasons... 1) Prior isn't staying here. I am not convinced that this is where Prior wants to be when he has the option. If it is pure cash that he wants, someone out east will pay him more than the Trib will. If not, he will take equal or more money and go home to California. 2) 5/75 for two pitchers is more than the Trib is willing to committ to. They haven't signed any pitcher to a 5 year deal, ever. Have they even given 5 to a position player? 3) Two players making 30mm (add in Lee and Aramis and you get 4 players making about 55mm) would leave this team unable to field a deep enough team to win 4) We SHOULD have a farm system that SHOULD produce one starting pitcher somewhere between Prior and 2006. Given how many of our draft picks have gone to pitching, and how pitching rich we supposedly are/were, there is no reason to believe (if you are Hendry) that you can't bring up two arms in 6 years to fit into the rotation. 5) CASH

X: Tribune Co's main goal may not be to win, but I do believe that Hendry wants to win. Whether you like him or not, think he is intelligent or a joke, the man has a track record as a competitor. He also has been given a more-than-substantial payroll to work with, which is indicative of the fact that, while many of the top executives at the Trib may care more about profit than winning, they are willing to give Hendry the money to put a competitive product out on the field. While there are other moves that potentially could have been made this year and last year, Hendry has done a more than adequate job of addressing the teams needs in a remarkably thin free agent market. The Cubs do need at least one more good starting pitcher, and a stud 4th OF, and at most need to get the two afore-mentioned puzzle pieces in addition to another well-rounded power-hitter. While Tejada would fit the bill, as I've said numerous times, I'm not a fan of acquiring him at the sake of Prior. If only Littlefield was the GM in Baltimore...

If the Cubs are going to move Z or Prior this is the year they need to start working in Guzman and Hill into the rotation more. This will help the Cubs decide on which direction to take. If Guzman and Hill flame out then you shell out the cash and keep Prior and Zambrano. If either Hill or Guzman pitch well then the Cubs can shop Zambrano or Prior. The Cubs still got the wild card in Jerome Williams also. If he does well in the first half then he makes some other decisions for the Cubs easier. In the next year the Cubs possibly need to find 3 starting pitchers for the rotation. 1) Maddux FA 2)Wood FA 3) Z or Prior traded. 2006 is the time to find out if any of our top pitching prospects are ready to pitch in the majors. Because this organization has some hard decisions to make after the 2006 season is over.

you just cant put hill/guzman into the rotation cuz their #s say theyre ready...guzman will probally see some late season callup and hill will probally be up/down when needed. hill's AAA numbers says he's ready now...hanging curves getting knocked outta the park by guys used to seeing a variety of average-to-great breaking stuff every game they play say he's not. if its mechanics its something he works on...if its nerves you hope its something he can get over. give the kid a valium or something =p im still not convinced both will see spring with the cubs as it is...hendry seems to be dead set on packaging patterson+walker and turning it into god only knows what and it looks like they'll take a prospect with them whereever they go.

X writes: "I just don't believe TRB's main goal is to win." X is right - the Tribune's main goal is to make money, not win baseball games. However, Tribune Company also knows that winning baseball makes a lot more money than losing baseball does. Wrigley Field may be filled regardless of the team's record - for the time being, anyway. But Tribune Company is primarily a media company; they know that broadcast advertising rates are closely tied to a team's popularity, and the team's popularity is closely linked to its record. People may come out to see Wrigley Field even if the Cubs are losing, but they're much likelier to tune in their TV sets to a WGN or Comcast Sports Network broadcast if the team is winning. And don't forget the extra advertising that can be sold in the Tribune's sports section when the team is heading for the playoffs. Likewise, playoffs mean extra radio broadcasts, for which the Trib can charge top dollar from advertisers. Sales of team souvenirs and memorabilia also skyrocket if the team wins - as evidenced by all the Sox stuff that we see around Chicago nowadays. Popular - that is, successful - players also move a lot of merchandise out the door, as shown by all those Sosa jerseys kids used to wear. (I knew that the Cubs 2005 season was over when, in late August, the Cubs web site announced a 50%-off sale on Cubs-related apparel.) So, I think it's a fallacy to say that the Tribune Company is indifferent to winning: winning fattens the bottom line, which the Trib cares about a lot. Of course, they'll do cost-benefit analyses, balancing the cost of particular free agents against the potential revenue that player will yield; but every club that is run as a business has to do that sort of arithmetic. Whether the Tribune Company does that arithmetic well is, of course, a whole 'nother question.

"If the Cubs are going to move Z or Prior this is the year they need to start working in Guzman and Hill into the rotation more"- If the trade happens Dusty will have Rusch in the rotation faster than you could say Shawn Estes.

Dr. Mike Marshall does not like Prior's mechanic: On this trib not wanting to win thing why do they put a 100 million payroll on the field then.

Yeah, but Marshall also has a vendetta against Tom House--Prior's long-time mentor. As for Prior's mechanics, they are nearly flawless. As for Marshall's analysis, it is very biased. Take anything you read from Marshall with a grain of salt. Also, thumbs down to Ladewski for that entire article. Not only should he NOT put all of his eggs in the Mike Marshall basket, but the proposed deal itself, while allowing the A's to dump some payroll and allowing the Orioles to release a disgruntled shortstop and acquire two very good pitchers, it doesn't help the Cubs to dump an ace in return for a shortstop (allbeit a stud like Tejada) if they don't get a starter in return.

Crunch, "hill's AAA numbers says he's ready now...hanging curves getting knocked outta the park by guys used to seeing a variety of average-to-great breaking stuff every game they play say he's not." There's only one place to learn to get out Major League hitters, and it's not the Pacific Coast League. For the vast majority of players, you've got to let the players learn at the major leagues. If Dusty Baker managed the A's last year they would have demoted Joe Blanton in May when he was 0-5 with a 6 ERA. When you do that you don't ever get the 7-5 2.65 ERA that he put up in the 2nd half. It's the lack of patience that Hendry and Baker display that hamstring the Cubs ability to develop players- moreso than any coaching or 'rushing' factor. Ask any baseball scout who is more talented, Mitre or Blanton? Yet, despite the fact that Mitre came to the bigs sooner, he has fewer major league starts. Now you support them doing the same thing with Hill and Guzman?

"As for Prior's mechanics, they are nearly flawless." Ryan, If they are as flawless as people say why has he had those elbow problems the last 2 years in ST. I am not saying I agree with Marshall, but for a guy with such great mechanics he should not have that kind of elbow inflamation. Rotshchild has said this is because of the way he throws his curveball. He does have to change his mechnaics somewhat and its more likely a tweak than an overhaul like Marshall thinks. Maybe he wont do it because he belives in what House thinks and thinks the Cubs are full of it and that is why the Cubs want to trade him because they dont want another Wood on there hands.

Levine is now reporting that Hendry has made a FORMAL offer of Prior, Cpat, and Hill for Tejada and Bedard. A trade or non-trade could happen at any time.

If Guzman is still what he was in Spring 2003, and is healthy, why not ADD him to the rotation WITH Zambrano, Prior, Maddux, & Williams, Rusch, or Wood? Why does it seem that Hendry develops man-crushes on these guys and won't quit until he obtains them or loses them altogether? I can't believe that there isn't one guy in the front office that has tried to ask what Hendry is thinking.

Hello all...I read with interest Marshall's notes on Prior's mechanics. I'm not a kinesthetics expert, but I did pitch both baseball (D-1AA) in college and a couple amatuer leagues in the KC area in the late 70's. As well, I pitched fast pitch softball throughout North America for many years. I'm not a novice when it comes to mechanics.......I am a novice when it comes "motion studies" and the human bone & muscle structure. Prior does have an issue with his arm motion. I've seen it since he got with the Cubs...kind of Like Tiger Woods is starting to have trouble with his back. It's not in his shoulder motion though, it's in his snap of the wrist whether it's a curve ball or fast ball. His elbow takes all the torque (like Tiger's back used too prior to his swing changes), and his strong legs are taken out of the equation at the point of the snap. Fundamentally, up to and right after the snap, Prior's mechanics rival Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, in that his leg drive generates tremendous power. Remember the drill Prior uses..or did warm up? The one where he snapped a towel with his pitching motion? Try it.......try to PITCH the hand towel and make it snap, and see where the torque's in the elbow. Point is this.......understanding I'm an amatuer offering what I see. Last week I offered a WHAT IF scenario, and I do it again. WHAT IF: Prior is injured worse than what we know......then his mechanics could exacerbate the problem.....then a trade for Tejada makes sense....BUT ONLY THEN IN MY OPINION....if this what if scenario is wrong, keep Prior. Joey

"There's only one place to learn to get out Major League hitters, and it's not the Pacific Coast League." -- TheRealNeal While I sure do ditto your post regarding the need to show patience with young starters, there are some other unconventional places that pitchers could learn to pitch against major league hitters. Winter ball, spring training, and simulated games all come to mind. AAA on the other hand, seems like a vast wasteland, a place where prospects go to die.

There's only one place to learn to get out Major League hitters, and it's not the Pacific Coast League. For the vast majority of players, you've got to let the players learn at the major leagues. In a lot of way I agree with the premise, but it only works for guys who already have the tools to be a major league pitcher, and Rich Hill isn't one of them. Quite frankly, I simply don't get why people are so high on Hill. He's a 26 year old with one pitch. The pitch he has is excellent, but he has nothing to compliment it. Hill could be effective in the bullpen, where his big curve can confuse hitters who only have to see him once, but as a starter, big league hitters will learn that pitch by the second time through the order, they will know either how to hit it, or to wait for his very average fastball. Until Hill learns another pitch, he has no business starting in MLB.

"Until Hill learns another pitch, he has no business starting in MLB." That's spot on. he's a 2 pitch pitcher - and that is not starter material. Zito has 4 pitches, not just the 12/6 hammer.

"However, Tribune Company also knows that winning baseball makes a lot more money than losing baseball does." I'm not sure about this. Fans will come/watch/buy this team regardless. It's not a question of if they will make MORE money, it's a question of what the likelihood is of making more money than they have to spend extra to get it. Does spending an extra $20mm get the TRB an expected return of greater than $20mm? No, because as we all know a payroll of 120mm is no more a sure thing than a payroll of 100mm. "advertising rates are closely tied to a team's popularity" Not this team...The incremental broadcast rates from a winning cubs team is small over that of a losing Cubs team. "Sales of team souvenirs and memorabilia also skyrocket if the team wins " That goes to "pooled" money that is split amongst MLB teams. You are right about doing the math. The TRB has done that for a long time. And they calculate that the best spend for this team right now is 100mm. That's still top 5 in the league (right?) using raw spend, but it isn't top 5 if measured as a percentage of revenues, profits, etc. That's what should be measured. Don't tell me how much you spend, tell me how much you keep. Take the Sox. It is reported that other than a scheduled nominal return to shareholders, this owners group of the Sox have never taken a profit payment out of the team. They make decent money on it. Their investment has SKYROCKETED in value. But they aren't using operating revenues to personally profit, they are putting much of it back into the team. Their payroll is going to be in the 90mm range this year. It was been in the 75 last year and in the 60s the past few. Come on...Their revenues have to be MUCH less than ours. Up until about 2000, in fact, their payroll was about the same as ours. The TRB doesn't uses Cubs profits to make TRB holdings more popular, not to make the Cubs a better team while returing a fair profit to TRB shareholders. The day the TRB divests itself of the Cubs will be the day that we truly have a chance of becoming a regular contender.

Ryan, see my last post. Hendry can't do it alone, and the TRB is still shortchanging the fans and the customers.

"There's only one place to learn to get out Major League hitters, and it's not the Pacific Coast League. " a guy that can hit a hanging curve cuz he sees breaking pitching daily can hit junk cuz he sees it. the hitter benefits, but the pitcher is still making the flaw. a pitcher will hang that curve in A ball, AAA, or the pros. just cuz they're up there vs. major leaguers doesnt mean the learning curve snaps into place. a guy can cruise in the minors holding off on his weak stuff and relying on the strong, but its still the same stuff. just cuz a AAA/AAAA guy cant hit it well doesnt mean the pitcher's ready...that's why the hitter's probally in AAA to begin with...he cant hit the breaking stuff.

Yeah, to me Hill looks like a one trick pony with that curve. But it is one hell of a trick. The reason I say Hill is because the way other GM's are all asking about him. If you think he can't learn other pitches to be effective in the majors then now would be the time to trade him. If the Cubs feel he can add other pitches to his arsenal then he needs to start showing it next season. Cuz we are gonna need him in one way or another for the 2007 season. I didn't think Hill was that valuable, but if he is other teams must see something in him they want.

Further proof of Dusty and the way he views younger plays to veteran players... "He's a guy who's gotten better. I remember my old general manager Al Campanis telling me that a player doesn't reach his peak until he's somewhere between 32 or 36 [years old] and beyond, and it depends on how his legs are and his desire and if he keeps his weight down and his waistline down. I don't see D-Lee having any problem with that." --Cubs manager Dusty Baker, on the origins of his veteran fetish ( Now it is all clear why guys like Holly and Perez were played so damn much last year. They were both 32! Right in the peak years! What are the odds John Mabry see's more than 300 AB's? He is 34, right smack in the middle of those peak years!

perez's playing might have more to do with a 9m SS who couldnt keep his groin in 1 piece and the 3rd baseman who took over on the stretcher when nomar limped off.

"I remember my old general manager Al Campanis telling me that " He also told Dusty to make sure they are good swimmers.

Bleeding Blue: "In a lot of way I agree with the premise, but it only works for guys who already have the tools to be a major league pitcher, and Rich Hill isn't one of them." Nice to see you agree with me. Last year MIKEC attacked me on here when I wrote my ever popular "letter to Rich Hill" (June 15th, 2005 - ROSTER CRUNCH AND CAT SKINNING). Where were you then :)??? I stated it made no sense for him to jump from A ball the previous year to come up to the bigs when he wasn't even on the 40-man. He was not ready, it was clear as day (0-2, 9.13 ERA). Sadly, some people didn't see that.

"Levine is now reporting that Hendry has made a FORMAL offer of Prior, Cpat, and Hill for Tejada and Bedard. A trade or non-trade could happen at any time." i get what you mean but still entertained by this. so....a non-trade is happening....NOW....and NOW...and again NOW and also NOW

Yeah I know about the injuries and why he played but not 572 AB's of Perez. Especially when he went a 3 month stretch of 300+ AB's, hitting about .240 with a .250 or so OBP. To add insult to injury that 3 month stretch was spent hitting at the top of the order. I would just like to say a rookie/younger player wouldn't of been allowed to have a bad 2 week stretch much less a 3 month run like Perez had before his ass was yanked and sat on the bench for the rest of the season by old Dust bag.

and what benefit do the orioles derive from getting corey patterson? "here's a 4th outfielder who is aggravatingly stubborn and is overpaid at 2.5 mill! hey baltimore, why don't you also empty out the dumpster behind wrigley field! here's jose macias!"

X- Just less than 10 years ago, anyone could go to a Cubs game by walking down there the day of. Remember Wood's 20K performance? The stands were practically empty. Yes it was early in the year, but still take a look at the stands early in the season this year, adn they will be very full. Just because they are selling out today doesn't mean that in 3-4 years they will still be selling out. Just before the 2003 season I was able to get my season tickets, now there are like 10,000 people on the season tickets waiting list on top of the 20,000+ current season ticket holders. Things run in cycles, maybe with teh White Sox emergence, it will make the Cubs less of a powerhouse in the city. But the point is that the Trib is giving Hendry MORE THAN ENOUGH money to put a winner on the field and in the alomst 4 years he has been GM, he has 1 playoff appearence. Maybe in teh 80's and early 90's, it was fair to blame the Trib for not ponying up the money, but with a $100+ million payroll, that excuse should be thrown out the window, with Hendry :).

Manny, I don't know where you've been, but I've been saying that Hill doesn't have the stuff to be a starter for a long time. I do think he could be effective if used properly as a reliever. The difference is that I didn't write his obituary simply because he started in A ball and had a bad outing in his first chance to play in the major leagues. If used properly (and he wasn't in 2005 - leading to his ERA to above 9), I think he still has a future in major league baseball.

Bleeding Blue- Good to see we agree on something...

"I would just like to say a rookie/younger player wouldn't of been allowed to have a bad 2 week stretch" Is Corey Patterson young enough for you? I agree with you totally, I would have came into this season with alot more hope if I got a better glimpse at Cedeno and Murton the last couple of months, both who did not play nearly enough because Dusty could not "take the glove from Neifi" and his bias against youth. It's nice to see Cedeno hitting well in winter ball, but someone else on the board pointed out that Macias was doing as well as Cedeno there.

My read re: this morning's news that Hendry has formally put the Prior/Tejada deal on the table, and why I think it must be very close to happening... Plopping a formal trade offer on the table is not the typical way these deals are done. Usually, there's a lot of negotiating, chatting, circling and renegotiating until the deal either happens, or doesn't. The formal offer and acceptance is incidental. By making the formal offer, Hendry shrewdly triggered a different deal dynamic. He knew that it would likely be leaked to the press by one side or the other. So, by going this route Hendry did two things: (1) he risked permanently alienating Prior and (2) he forced Baltimore's management to sit down and formally consider the deal. (It's likely that Baltimore, like many major league teams, has a formal process for examining trade offers.) I have to believe that Hendry wouldn't have risked #1 without being very confident that #2 would result in the deal being accepted. Perhaps he knew of some internal Oriole politics and that a formal offer like this would add the pressure point necessary to get it done. My guess is that he was no longer making the desired progress with Baltimore's GM, so he made the formal offer as a polite yet effective way to go over his head (i.e. by making the offer, he triggered Baltimore's trade evaluation process and brought others into the mix). You can say what you want about Hendry, but he has a vey good feel for these kinds of things. My guess is that the deal will be accepted within 24 hours.

"Bleeding Blue- Good to see we agree on something..." ...and who says the holidays don't bring people closer together?

i was in chicago for christmas though and on the 23rd i heard levine say that the cubs had made their offer (same one of prior, hill, patterson) and that they were waiting to hear back. so the status hasn't really changed in 4 days 433, although you bring up good points and it is quite possible that the holidays and the death of Elrod Hendricks (sp?) slowed things down a few days. i would definitely do the trade as proposed. this team has no offense as constructed, the upgrade would be worth losing prior since he will be lost to free agency anyways. AS LONG AS this means the cubs are definitely re-signing zambrano (means offer him a deal next year in november, not waiting until he's a FA)

GL -- thanks for the update. I have been out of Chicago for several days, so I hadn't heard that the offer had been formally on the table for 4 days. If that's true, that certainly changes the timeline and suggests some hesitation by Baltimore.

Patterson was a starter for this team before Baker was hired. That decision was beyond his control. He just couldn't step in the next year and bench Patterson. Besides he performed very well in his first season under Baker and was the direct reason we even made the playoffs in 2003 and got Ramirez and Lofton in a trade. And I believe I mentioned that Jose Macias was out hitting Cedeno in Winter Ball. Is Cedeno the real deal based on his Winter numbers? Or could it all mean nothing since Jose Macias is hitting just as well?

Luckily this is NOT the deal the O's want. They don't want to give up Bedard unless they get Zito in some kind of 3 way deal involving a LOT more players. IF the offer is Prior , Hill and cPat for Tejada and Bedard, the O's will probably turn it down which I suspect will be better for both teams I too worry about alienating Prior but he will have two years to get over it.

LONG AS this means the cubs are definitely re-signing zambrano (means offer him a deal next year in november, not waiting until he's a FA). His agent is Boras. He makes his living off his players hitting the free agent market and starting a bidding war. The Cubs would have to offer up a dream come true offer for Boras to tell his client to not go to free agency and resign with the Cubs. I say the odds of Zambrano hitting free agency are very good. Lots of Cubs fans on this board loved to dream about the next great player a team was giving away and how we could swoop in with some scrub players and snatch up this player. In the next couple years (or sooner) the Cubs may be in the position of having to deal players they can't pony up the cash for. I am sure since we loved offering up our scrub players for other teams stars we will be more than happy to accept other teams scrub players in return for our stars right? Yeaaahhhh, I didn't think. Not so fun when the shoe is on the other foot. I wish other posters would think about that when they are dreaming up Corey Patterson for Adam Dunn idea's.

While the deal has been on the table for 3 or 4 days, it was first reported that it was on Angelo's desk. I have to figure he wasn't sitting there due to the holiday weekend. I'm not sure I would put too much in the 4 days thing.

I really wish Prior would stay. But I understand the "dynamics", and it is perfectly agreeable for Prior to have the attitude he has. But like Jessica said, he will have 2 years to get over it so maybe time will change things between the organization and Prior...IF this trade with Balt doesn't go down. Please don't go down

if the trade is really prior-patterson-hill for tejada-bedard i really want it to happen. gives you the best 1-8 in the NL, and probably best this side of the yankees pierre walker lee tejada ramirez jones barrett murton a pretty good starting 5 zambrano maddux bedard (4.0 ERA in a AL hitters park at age 26) williams rusch a strong bullpen dempster howry eyre wuertz ohman williamson you don't give up cedeno or pie or murton (one of the first two can be traded at the deadline to fill any holes) this team reminds me of the 2002 angels. good hitting 1-8, no easy outs, strong bullpen, good but not great starters. best part? i haven't even mentioned kerry wood. not a bad backup in case one of your starters is bad/hurt. do it, do it, do it. this year's team doesn't have nearly enough offense, go get the best hitting shortstop in baseball. can't wait for next year or it will never come. this team would be the best in the division, and one of the best in a weak NL.

"do it, do it, do it." Yeah, I can't help but agree. If it is truly Prior+KPat+Hill for Tejada+Bedard. There are 4 reasons why Prior can be traded: 1) We can't keep him as a FA and we should sell on him while a) his value is still good and b) there's a team out there that has a player we can use now, an All-star at that. 2) He has some injury or tendency to injury that cannot be corrected that we fans nor the O's know about. 3) Our farm system is more likely to produce another Prior than another Tejada. With Guzman, Hill, Marshall, Pawelek, et al. in the wings, we could very well have a pitcher comparable to Prior's quality ready for the majors in 2 years or less. Conversely, our track record of developing position player talent is notoriously bad, so we ain't gonna get any Tejada's out of Iowa or WestTenn. 4) We would be getting a pitcher back in return. This is the clincher for me. While Bedard is no Prior, he's still a useful pitcher with a ton of upside and could fit nicely into Prior's rotational spot. One question, perhaps for AZ Phil. If the Prior-Tejada deal were to happen, would that count as Tejada's once chance to demand a trade in the middle of his contract? Or could he demand again after next season?

GReen Lantern: "a pretty good starting 5" pretty good for a AAA team. Maddux a #2...HA HA They could have a lineup better than teh NYY and what will that do? NOTHING, since they will be giving up 7 runs a game and blowing through the bullpen by July. PITCHING wins, I don't understand how people can't see that...

I see it. I have always been an advocate that pitching should be the strong foundation of any baseball team, and likewise for defense in football. Umm, look at the Bears... Yea, maybe Wood hasn't quite panned out, but we're stuck with him. Zambrano has been lights-out and Prior, while rather tender, is just 25. Pitching wins games. Pitching wins championships. Dare I use the hated White Sox as a prime example. I will be severly disappointed if they trade Prior away.

MRCUBSLOVER: " I will be severly disappointed if they trade Prior away." Well, if it doesn't happen it won't be because of hendry. He wants to trade Prior. He doesn't see it and that is why his time should be done here in Chicago. People started a website, well when is the website getting launched??

I agree with #s 134 & 135. Our system may not produce many position players, but it is very hard to get a group of good starting pitchers. One good one (Z) will not take you to the promised land. I dont think that giving up Prior is the answer. I hope he stays.

If they trade Prior, Hendry better have a deal ready to get Zito or someone in his league over here. Z as good as he is still seen as unproven because of his temper, and when "injuries" pop up on him in games when he gets rocked.

"Well, if it doesn't happen it won't be because of hendry. He wants to trade Prior. He doesn't see it and that is why his time should be done here in Chicago." Doesn't see what, Manny? Prior's value? Come on. You might not agree that the Cubs should trade Prior (I'm mixed on it myself). You might not think that Tejada and a pitcher is enough for Prior. But you can't say that Hendry is cutting and running with Prior. He's asking for Miguel freaking Tejada PLUS a competent #2-4 pitcher! For a young (but soon to very expensive) and talented (but injury-plagued) pitcher that hasn't yet made 30+ starts in 4 years in the majors. Dislike the trade rumors? Fine. But let's keep things in perspective here. Almost every analyst I've seen (ESPN, roto, Baseball analysts, etc.) have said that this deal, as offered, would be a steal for the Cubs. Your attempt to deflect your Dusty-love with Hendry-hate is nauseatingly consistent.

Whoops, make that "30+ starts in a season". There we go.

Has anyone other than Levine reported on the trade or "formal offer?" It seems like we're jumping to a lot of conclusions based on the reporting of one person who has been consistantly wrong in the past.

We would be the new Texas Rangers without Prior - great lineup with no pitching. In 2003 they had a Texiera-Young-Blalock-Arod infield, 38 HR/112 RBIs from their DH Palmeiro and they won all of 71 games! Look at last year's Yanks. Even with their monster lineup, it took Small/Chacon going like 17-2 down the stretch to get them in! Not to mention, look no further than last year's Series. When Morgan Ensberg & Paul Konerko are the two best hitters in the Series, that right there tells you that pitching is more important. I also don't like giving up strikeout pitchers. Prior was the best in the majors last year regarding k/9 innings. Over the past 4-5 years, strikeout pitchers have carried teams through the postseason. The LACK of this these pitchers has killed great NL offensive teams like the Braves & Cardinals. The Braves & Cards have "inning eaters" that get them there - but pitchers like Wood, Prior, Beckett, Willis, Clemens, Johnson, Schilling, Pedro, Contreras, etc have won championships b/c they can get guys out without advancing runners in scoring position. Unless Prior is completely opposed to resigning here or Henrdy has an ace, literally, up his sleeve, the Cubs can't do this deal.

I have a question for all the Prior people. If the situation were reversed and we had Miguel Tejada, would you trade Tejada for Prior? Really??

Chifan: Everyone is quick to point at Prior's 5 stints on the DL and says "it must be mechanics," but that's not the case. Two of his injuries were "freak" accidents, and the achilles/elbow inflammation/second bout of elbow inflammation were most likely more contingent upon each other than the Cubs wanted people to know. When he injured the Achilles before the '04 season started, it's probable that he began to either throw too soon, which would lead to temporarily improper mechanics, or he may have tweaked his mechanics in an attempt to overcompensate for the lack of strength in his leg; I never saw him throw until he was back on the big league team, so I can't analyze his mechanics during that time period. Subsequently, I think that the start that he missed at the very beginning of '05 was the result of him going through a little extra soreness in his arm in '04, and I think that, to a degree, he was more afraid of re-injuring himself than he led on (that is to say, while he felt unusual soreness in his elbow, and had inflammation, I think that it was compounded by his fear of another '04). If I am correct in this analysis, than that would lend even more credibility to just how great Prior's mechanics are; he is a man who, prior to the collision in '03, had never experienced a baseball-related major injury in his entire career. Believe me, that's VERY impressive. In regards to his curveball...yeah, he cracks the whip...hard...but when throwing a curveball, you are supposed to snap your wrist. That, in addition to the grip, is what imparts topspin on the ball (as opposed to the backspin that you put on a fastball), which causes it to "curve." The trick to throwing a curveball or a doorknob slider is to only snap your wrist--not your forearm--when throwing the ball. Doing so prevents you from injuring the muscles and tendons in your forearm. He does have a violent motion when he throws the curve, but he's not throwing it incorrectly, as evidenced by him NOT having a history of forearm injuries (pulled or torn muscles, tendonitis, etc.). X: I understand that the Tribune CAN afford to put more money in Hendry's pocket to be used for the team, but that doesn't mean they should. Steinbrenner spent over $200 million last year and didn't win. $100 million should be more than enough, especially with the homegrown pitching talent the Cubs have (and the fact that 2 of the projected opening day starters are going to be making the league minimum). Now, if you want to argue that the Tribune should give Hendry a little extra dough this year to compensate for Wood and Maddux (I respect and like both of them, but neither one should be costing us what they cost us), then I can see your argument. Bleeding Blue: I think Hill is better suited as a starter, where his iffy control won't be as much of a problem. I do agree that he needs a 3rd pitch, as he has one pitch that appears to be GREAT (that beautiful Zito-like curve), one that is average (his fastball), and a below-average change-up that he barely ever throws. His best bet would be to work with Maddux on the change, but if he could develop a decent enough slider (easier said than done, believe me), it wouldn't hurt to be able to throw it a couple times per start--even if thrown in there just to let hitters know that they won't be exclusively seeing fastballs and curveballs. It should be easier for him to fine-tune a change than it would be for him to just stop walking batters, though, so I hope he does work/has been working on this.

The question I would like to have answer is how is Tejada's fielding skills? Good? Declining? Because Cubs do not have a DH spot to fall back on when this guy is 35 and tripping over his feet.

"If the situation were reversed and we had Miguel Tejada, would you trade Tejada for Prior? Really??" Most definitely. Prior is 25 years old. When healthy, has the capability of being the best pitcher in the majors. Some of his injuries have been the result of freak accidents. This was the guy that a few years ago, he was a given win every time out. For those questioning his health--remember that it only takes 1 year of being healthy win the Series. We haven't won in 97 years. If we keep Wood, Prior, & Zambrano for the next 10 years, it would only take that 1 season (ie 2003) for them to all come together to win it all. I'll take that chance. For the past 5 years, we have tried to make pitching our focal point. Sure, we've only made the playoffs 1 time. However, we are legit contenders each year--even this upcoming season despite finishing under .500 last year. When has that happened in the last 40 years for this team? As long as you have pitching, you have a shot of winning. Health is a wild card that no one can predict. Prior may stay healthy for the next 15 years, or he may not. I'd rather find out his future while he's wearing a Cubs uniform.

# 144 Resonse Ryan, Lt me clarify some prior comments by me. I didn't mean to state that Prior's mechanics are flawed only on curve balls. They are flawed on every pitch. His "snap" as you state it is on all pitches he throws, as opposed to Wood who torques on his shoulder. Wood uses his entire body, but twists it with the falling to the left side, and the fulcrum of his motion is the right shoulder---thus his right shoulder isssues. Zambrano gets his speed from his using his arm like a whip, and using his legs and back (hence the lower back problems and cramps). I'm afraid I let my zeal for refuting stuff on this board get in the way of common sense. No pitcher has perfect mechanics, but some are closer tha others. All three of these guys are in their 20's and can/should get better with more experience. They all throw in the mid 90's or better, and they are simply going to have body troubles with that torque they create. My only point was, IF Prior has diagnosed but not publiclypublished permanent elbow problems, then go get Tejada....cuz as othes have said, Prior's value will not go up he hits the DL with another body problem caused by mechanics. Joey

Bleeding Blue: I think Hill is better suited as a starter, where his iffy control won't be as much of a problem. Iffy control makes someone a better starter? Since when? I'll add to my previous thoughts by saying, that in Hill's starts last year he was generally good the first time through the order and then got shelled the second time around.

Levine will be on ESPN 1000 in like 3-5 minutes if any one is interested I'll post what he says later.


With the exception of the game versus the Mets, where he was hit hard, I never thought Hill got "shelled." In fact, if you take that game out (which I realize you can't, but...) he only gave up 18 hits in 22.2 innings. He was a victim of poor control, which I do put the blame on him for it. The thing is that he apparently didn't have that problem in the minors, so I am interested in seeing him in another go-around.

Bleeding Blue: You kinda twisted my words around there, but to stick to the point, like I said before, a high BB/9 ratio is less detrimental for a starter than it is for a reliever. It's never a good thing; no GM goes out and says "hey, I want to find someone who walks 5.2 batters per 9 innings," but a reliever who needs to be counted on in late innings to save a game or hold a lead CANNOT under any circumstances (unless the batter is named Pujols, j/k) start walking batters. A starter, on the other hand, has a few innings to work with. Starting pitchers are charged with keeping the other team's offense down and allowing their own team to stay in the game. Relievers, on the other hand, are by and large brought into a game to either prevent a runner on base or at the plate from scoring (situational relievers), or to maintain a tie game or a lead. I know what I'm trying to say, but just not sure if I'm articulating it well. Hope that made some sense, though. Joey: I get what you're saying, but I'm also gonna have to disagree again; Mark Prior doesn't snap his wrist on a fastball; on the contrary, he has a very smooth delivery, and, unlike Zambrano in his early years, has, since his emergence on the big league team, shown the knowledge that movement is more important than sheer velocity. Prior throws comfortably in the 93-95 mph range with movement, and opposing batters have claimed that his fastball has very good last-second movement, which, combined with his typical pin-point control, makes it very difficult to hit his fastball. Combine that with one of the sharpest curveballs in MLB, and you have one of very few "2-pitch" starters who is successful at the major league level(he does have a change-up as well, but he hardly ever uses it). You are correct that every pitcher has their own "quirks" in regards to their delivery, and that no pitcher has ever had 100% perfectly flawless mechanics. However, Prior has nearly flawless mechanics, in that he delivers the baseball in a manner that does not put unnecessary stress on his shoulder or elbow, does not fall off to either side of the mound, does not put unnecessary strain on his groin, does not throw across his body, etc. He has what my college pitching coach would call "the perfect form."

My feeling on the Prior/Tejada deal is that Tejada is worth more regular season wins than Prior, but in the playoffs, The Cubs are better off with Prior. I don't think the cubs should trade Prior, but if you are going to trade him, you can't do much better than Tejada. It's a tough one.

rich hill is still a guy with 2 main pitches and an undeveloped changeup. he hangs curves...whether it results in a hit or not, he's got 1 plus pitch in his fastball and 1 devestating pitch with his curve, a pitch i havent seen that nasty since d.kile. the problem with his curve is, when it dont break it doesnt hang as if to pass for another just becomes a mid-80s fastball coming at the batter on a frozen rope. if he's gonna miss, he needs to miss in the dirt or even outside...the hanger is killing him. and yeah, he could use a little more control to go with that fastball, too.

the other thing about Hill, he's not that young anymore either. You have to wonder how much better he's really going to get.

hill's gonna be 26, but he didnt really start pro ball til he was 23...he went a full ride in college. the "bad" thing is his control really has shown no sign of turning itself around. hopefully he's not another shawn estes.

Alright, so I went for a run after work and spent most of it thinking about the Prior deal, of course. I got to thinking: most Cubs fans want to keep Prior. I do, too, damnit. The Orioles want Zambrano. I began thinking, what kind of deal would make the Cubs satisfied to deal Z? Do we think he has reached his ceiling? Can he be as good or better than Prior, considering both are healthy? Personally, I think Prior is a shade worse than Zambrano, if both are healthy. And if the Orioles want him, maybe they'd give up a bit more for him. I'm thinking something like Zambrano + Hill for Tejada + Bedard + Penn. Hell, give them another minor leaguer, like Dopirak or Sing, or give them Ronny Cedeno as well. Thoughts?

Whoops, another error there. Make that "Prior is a shade better than Z, if both are healthy." I just think he has better pure stuff. Sorry for the confusion.

Crunch, I believe his control was back to "very good" after he went back down. Am I wrong?

Zambrano has more power, a better sinker, he's younger, and most importantly he's proven to be more durable. Prior has more upside, better control, he's smarter, more consistent, has a better curve, better mechanics, better makeup, and less mileage on his arm. I just cant see Zambrano as a future hall of famer the same way Prior is. I don't know, they are both friggin awesome and I love that the cubs have them both. Why mess with the best thing the cubs have going for them?

Whats more valuable, a Cy young pitcher or a MVP shortstop? that's really the question here.

"Why mess with the best thing the cubs have going for them?" I hear ya, man. But the answer to your question is because we haven't won the WS in nearly a century, and we need to do WHATEVER it takes to get back there and win it. "Whats more valuable, a Cy young pitcher or a MVP shortstop? that's really the question here." Again, I know what you mean. But we only THINK that Prior CAN be a Cy Young winner. We KNOW that Tejada is capable of being an MVP and possibly a HOF'er. It's a tough call, no doubt about it. I don't envy Hendry. If and only if we get a pitcher back for Prior, I'll be happy if this deal goes down. And I'll be happy if it doesn't too.

I think most of us would agree, Andrew. The problem is that there is no pitcher currently rumored on the radar. Many people here have expressed their desire for Zito. If we can get Zito on top of the deal for Tejada, I'd do that. The problem is there are no other rumors floating to make us believe something like that will happen. It appears Hendry is happy promoting one of the kids, or eventually going with a Z, Wood, Maddux, Williams, & Rusch rotation.

#153 Dan. EXCELLENT POINT! I too agree that during the regular season Tejada is worth more wins. Do we give up post season wins just to improve a chance to GET to the playoffs? Let's say IF We can get to October with Prior, Z, Wood, Maddux all healthy and the bullpen healthy who would want to face us in the playoffs?

Levine did not really say much but here were the headlines: *Zito will not come to Cubs * Cpat is in the deal to even out some of the money.

Andrew: "Doesn't see what, Manny? Prior's value?" No, that pitching is what wins in baseball.

Sorry if this was posted already. I was reading on in their want to be a GM piece. Here's what they said about Rich hill in response to a suggestion of trading HIll for Jason Michaels of Philly. To be honest," said one front-office man, "Rich Hill is worth a lot more than that. Everyone in baseball was asking about Rich Hill at the winter meetings. So he's not getting traded for a fourth outfielder." So has anyone actually SEEN Hill pitch lately, and if so how good is he? I can see all of us loving our prospects but for other GM's to be coveting Hill either there is something there for us or maybe he could be used as trade bait.

If Baltimore is getting both Prior & Zito, I would think they would've pulled the trigger on this deal without Angelos' okay. for the record: my father thinks Levine is either "smoking joints or making up something to talk about during a slow holiday season" since neither newspaper has reported a sniff.

Vegas Brian: I agree, but the thing is, a front of the rotation starter is what everybody wants. Even the teams with the deepest pockets can't seem to find a guy like prior. He's the most sought after commodity on the market.

Andrew: "Almost every analyst I've seen (ESPN, roto, Baseball analysts, etc.) have said that this deal, as offered, would be a steal for the Cubs." The same analysts who predicted the White Sox to not even make the playoffs last year?? Pitching wins....PERIOD!!!

CWTP: "If the situation were reversed and we had Miguel Tejada, would you trade Tejada for Prior?" If my doctors checked out Prior and he passed all tests....YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

I would be curious to see over the past 20 seasons where the world series winners were in rankings in pitching and hitting. I would wager that pitching weighs much more than hitting.

Look at the Yankees and Red Sox last year, and look at the last four teams in the playoffs, CWS, LAA, HOU and STL. All had the best starting pitching. HOU and CHW both had lackluster offenses and stellar pitching.

Trade Prior for Tejada and I give up. I will never stop being a Cub fan but I will give up any hope of seeing a successful Cub team. Tejada is UNNEEDED. Whooop de freaking do! Strong hitting shortstops are the most overrated thing in baseball. Great starting pitching is the MOST important thing is baseball. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should get their heads examined.


CHAD: "Trade Prior for Tejada and I give up. I will never stop being a Cub fan but I will give up any hope of seeing a successful Cub team. Tejada is UNNEEDED. Whooop de freaking do! Strong hitting shortstops are the most overrated thing in baseball. Great starting pitching is the MOST important thing is baseball. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should get their heads examined." Vegas Brian:

my father thinks Levine is either "smoking joints or making up something to talk about during a slow holiday season" since neither newspaper has reported a sniff. I think your father is a smart man.

Try this again: CHAD: "Trade Prior for Tejada and I give up. I will never stop being a Cub fan but I will give up any hope of seeing a successful Cub team. Tejada is UNNEEDED. Whooop de freaking do! Strong hitting shortstops are the most overrated thing in baseball. Great starting pitching is the MOST important thing is baseball. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should get their heads examined." Vegas Brian: stand up and applaud

Vegas Brian, I don't understand your comment. Does that mean you have nothing to say about what I said? Or did you forget the rest of your post? Please elaborate.

OH! There it is! Thanks! I was curious what you were going to say. I'm so used to getting ripped here that I was sure your comment was going to be against. me.

Chad, like I said early--nothing brings people together like the holidays!

Chad, I also agree. Looking at financial impact of players to victories, starting pitchers have the potential to impact more victories than any other position (with the exception of left field in San Francisco for a few years there). An ace winning 17-20 games is worth the money because of how substantal their impact on the victories they create. A dollar spent on an ace pitcher carries more value in relation to final W/L totals than a dollar spent on a star position player. The primary factor that creates risk with an ace pitcher is the potential for injury. Given how much of Prior's injury time have been freak injuries unrelated to pitching, it would be idiotic to 1) trade him, and 2) not resign him to a big, long contract at the end of next year. I really hope this deal never materializes.

Chad, you're right. The Sox offense scored 3/4 of a run less per game last year than in '04 but their pitching yielded 1.5 less than in '04. Were the Sox upset that their offense was down in '05? They don't seem it. Garland's ERA was down 1.3 runs, Contreras's down 1.7, Politte's down almost 2.5 and Cotts' ERA was down 3.7. If the Cubs, with Prior, have as many pitchers with career years as the Sox did in '05, they will be in the playoffs even if I play shortstop. (But I'd prefer Cedeno) They will not homer their way into the WS. They have never ever, even in 1929 and the three WS in the 30s homered their way into a Series. Homers get you on SportsCenter, pitching wins.

Chad, I hear what you are saying. I would hate to see Prior go, honestly. And I'll be fine if this deal doesn't happen, honestly. But what happens when DLee, Z, and Prior are all free agents? I bet each will EASILY command $60m (esp. if DLee has a good 2006). Do you think the Cubs will spend that kind of money to keep them? Honestly, I'd like to know what you think. If not, then what should they do? If I were Hendry, and I knew I could only keep 2 of the 3, I'd deal one of them. (The fact that I'd deal DLee isn't important, as the O's don't seem interested in him at all, or at least haven't asked.) And when I have the chance to deal one of them for Miguel Tejeda, I'd do it. I can understand you think SS is an overrated position, but I can't understand how you think Tejada is overrated. He's Nomar with much better defense (above average overall), lots more power, tons of heart and energy, and a passion for wanting to win. He's an MVP candidate when he's playing well, and a top 3 shortstop in MLB even when he isn't. He's not overrated.

Further proof: Cubs Record '05 79-83 '04 98-73 '03 88-74 Cubs hitting: '05: .270/.324/.440 '04: .268/.328/.458 '03: .259/.323/.416 Pitching: '05: 4.19 ERA '04: *3.81 ERA '03: *3.83 ERA Does anybody see the trend here? Hendry must be stopped. Where's Spiderman, Superman, Batman, when you need them?

" Looking at financial impact of players to victories, starting pitchers have the potential to impact more victories than any other position " unfortunately, those pesky facts are getting in your way. tejada's VORP was higher than prior's last year, even adjusted for prior missing time. and it wasn't like it was tejada's best year ever or anything. "Strong hitting shortstops are the most overrated thing in baseball." what does that even mean? why would they be more overrated than strong hitting second basemen? or catchers? (none of those are overrated....if you can get hitting from a position that many teams don't, you're in good shape). cedeno upgraded to tejada is a HUGE amount of wins, it's not "overrated" to have a shortstop who led the AL in doubles last year. there are smart arguments you can make to say you shouldn't do this deal. these are not them.

Oh really, Green Lantern then the last world series winning teams must have featured a strong hitting shortstop. Lets take a look, 2005 White Sox - no 2004 Red Sox - no 2003 Marlins - no 2002 Angels - no 2001 Diamondbacks - no And post 184 Andrew, DLee? DLee is so overrated! Every one fell in love with him cause he had a magical year. Yes, it was magical. But you know what? I'll bet anyone that ARam will have a better BA, more HRs and more RBIs than DLee. I can't wait until DLee is hitting .278 for the Yankees at18 mil per year. I also read that Prior will not be a free agent until AFTER the 2008 season. And that is according to "Though Prior signed a $10.5 million, five-year deal after the Cubs drafted him in 2001, he's arbitration-eligible this winter and could leave as a free agent after 2008." Thats THREE more years under contract. Who the HELL knows what will happen with free agents contracts then. We'll deal with it then. And if we know we can't resign him, we can trade him mid season.

Oh are terms like VORP and wins shares, IMO, are WORTHLESS stats made up by math rotisserie nerds.

Vegas Brian: 'Cubs Record '05 79-83 '04 98-73 '03 88-74 Cubs hitting: '05: .270/.324/.440 '04: .268/.328/.458 '03: .259/.323/.416 Pitching: '05: 4.19 ERA '04: *3.81 ERA '03: *3.83 ERA Does anybody see the trend here?' You'll have to point out the trend to me, because I sure as hell don't see it. You take the three seasons. Best hitting year: 2004 Best Pitchin year: 2004 Best Season: 2004 So in the year we had the best hitting, we had the best record. Now, the reason we didn't make the playoffs in 2004 was a crappy bullpen, which Hendry has addressed. So, what's your point? In 2005 our ERA raised by .38 runs/ game and our OBPS dropped .022 so both areas need to be addressed. Prior pitched MORE in 2005 (bad pitching year) than he did in 2004 (best pitching year), based on that 'trend' less Prior = better team. 2005 White Sox were 2nd in Pitching and 9th in Runs Scored 2004 Red Sox were 4th in Pitching and 1st in Runs Scored 2003 Marlins were 6th in Pitching and 8th in Runs Scored 2002 Angels were 2nd in Pitching and 4th in Runs Scored. 2001 Diamondbacks were 2nd in Pitching and 3rd in Runs Scored 2000 Yankees were 6th in Pitching and 6th in Runs Scored If you park factor those #'s I think you wind up with 3 teams that relied more on their hitting and 3 teams that relied more on pitching in winning the World Series and 1 team, the '03 Marlins who probably shouldn't have been in the playoffs.

unfortunately, those pesky facts are getting in your way. tejada's VORP was higher than prior's last year, even adjusted for prior missing time. and it wasn't like it was tejada's best year ever or anything. Unfortunately, VORP is a great stat for comparing hitters to hitters and pitchers to pitchers, but you cannot use the stat to compare a pitcher and a hitter. You're awfully glib and dismissive. Could it be that you don't actually have all the answers? How can I trust you'll be able to identify the smart ones? Oh no! What'll I do without your help?

Chad: "I also read that Prior will not be a free agent until AFTER the 2008 season. And that is according to" You know, when Bruce Levine was on ESPN Radio 1000 today he mentioned Cubs having Prior for 3 more years too. I went to look up Prior's service time in my Media Guide from last year and it said he had 2.131 years of service through 2004. So, if Prior had 2.131 years of service time through 2004. He was on the 40 man the entire year last year, so after 2005 he should be at 3.131. After 2006, 4.131. After 2007, 5.131 (still short of Free Agency). So he would be under Cubs control through the 2008 season. How did we all miss this all along?? AZ PHIL?? Anyways, this would make the idea of trading Prior this year even more STUPID, especially when many are trying to jusify it becuase we will lose him soon!!! We could have him for 3 more years.... Good catch Chad and I guess good catch Bruce Levine.

wow, mr. chad sure is a jerk this evening everyone acknowledges that you need BOTH to win. the fact that the last 5 world series champs have not had strong hitting shortstops is not the point. look at what neal just provided above me.....they were GOOD offensive teams....look at it, out of the last 6 years, the only teams that weren't really good offensive teams were the white sox (every pitcher had a career year at the same time) and the marlins (how that team won i'll never know...oh wait alex gonzo and bartman) the point is not that you have to look at one position. the point is that the cubs as currently constructed are NOT a good enough offensive team. period. not close. not finishing in the top half in scoring. period. not enough on-base for the amount of power they have (not that great). it's not about which positions, it's the fact that the best shortstop out there is available, and it is possibly your weakest offensive position right now with neifi/cedeno. you can't just look at the last 5 world champs and say "here's a trait they all had" and say that that must be the magic formula. first of all, world series champs are but one team of 8 that make the playoffs. you have to get there first. i bet you a lot that the 40 teams that have made the playoffs in the last 5 years have had significantly above average performance at SS, as they probably have had at every position. second of all, you don't just look at a random sample size and point out something they had in common. if they all had a player that had a first name that began with a X, would you demand that we trade for Xavier Nady? and if you think that win shares and VORP are useless, well, i wonder why i even wasted my finger movements to explain to you how your post made zero sense.

yes, mr. whipple, the win shares upgrade is there as well with the prior for tejada trade. 7 wins more with tejada instead of prior. i acknowledge that VORP is the wrong stat to look at there. not to mention that bedard > patterson + hill.... you do this trade. if you want to package bedard and cedeno and guzman or something and go get zito or whatever, fine by me. but this is an upgrade of your team. you do it.

Green Lantern: "wow, mr. chad sure is a jerk this evening" I think there would be a good few of us that would say the same about you. :) Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle!!

I'm a jerk? fine. I've been called so much worse. I could care less. But you know what, baseball existed long before Sabremetrics. Teams won championships for 100 years before those stat geeks made up this CRAP! In ten years Sabremetrics will be laughed at. So VORP you!

yes, mr. whipple, the win shares upgrade is there as well with the prior for tejada trade. 7 wins more with tejada instead of prior. i acknowledge that VORP is the wrong stat to look at there. Win Shares are a flawed stat in comparing pitchers to position players as well. Dave Studeman of The Hardball Times says This is something we explored in the Win Shares and Salary article, where we found that you can't really get a handle on a player's value unless you consider his replacement level separately. And, because the replacement level is lower for pitchers than batters, Win Shares unfairly impacts pitchers. Admit it oh Green Tights Wearing One! Admit that you are not as smart as you pretend! Admit that you are puny and I am giant! Admit that I am Zuul's Gatekeeper! Rawwwr!

Mr. Whipple: "Admit it oh Green Tights Wearing One! Admit that you are not as smart as you pretend! Admit that you are puny and I am giant! Admit that I am Zuul's Gatekeeper! Rawwwr!" Then admit that the reasons you think this is a good trade are all flawed (win shares/VORP & Prior with only 2 years left with Cubs).

"DLee? DLee is so overrated!" Chad, did you see that I posted this?: (The fact that I'd deal DLee isn't important, as the O's don't seem interested in him at all, or at least haven't asked.) Oh, you did? Then, thanks for posting the obvious. Of course, DLee is overrated. I'd still re-sign him if given the chance, as you can't normally get a lot of good PR by trading a player a year after having the best season in the National League. With that said, you still didn't answer my question about who you'd re-sign of DLee, Z, and Prior, who you'd leave out, and how you'd justify it. Also, I thought Prior was free to leave after 2007, but I could be wrong. Doesn't change things though. Will the Cubs give nearly $200m to three players in the near future?

granted, 1st base D can be overrated, but lee's so far above average its very noticable. but hey, 30-35+hr/30+ double seasons with a touch speed. lee's not overrated...he's just not pujols. he hasnt had a bad season in a long time if you factor in the total package that he is more than just a guy with a bat. add in his positive/non-distracting clubhouse presence and it just makes it nicer.

Andrew: "Also, I thought Prior was free to leave after 2007, but I could be wrong. Doesn't change things though. Will the Cubs give nearly $200m to three players in the near future?" First, I think you are wrong (read my recent posts). Second, so we should trade players 3 years early because we most likely won't sign them in 3 years?? Makes no sense!!


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  • crunch 7 hours 43 min ago (view)

    semi-interesting winter league note...

    trey mcnutt (yes, that guy) is having a hell of a winter league in mexico (one of the less talented winter leagues) so far as a closer.  15.2ip 8h 4bb 24k, 0.57 era.

    giants signed him to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago.  he never went anywhere.  he's been consistently playing ball in the minors and indie league ball since he was last a noteworthy player.  last season he played in the OAK minor league system.  30 years old now...


  • jdrnym 14 hours 40 min ago (view)

    Brad Brach signs with the Mets for $850K but the Cubs are paying $500K, per Ken Rosenthal. Wasn't his 2020 club only supposed to be on the hook for league minimum?


  • crunch 15 hours 17 min ago (view)

    when he got to the mets he suddenly learned how to throw with control (small sample size etc).  last year was not a fun bullpen year...


  • crunch 17 hours 33 min ago (view)

    Yeah, I've made myself familiar with a lot of the changes, but AZP's posts have both added more information and cleared up stuff I didn't fully grasp.  I appreciate the hell out of it.  Thanks Phil, thanks TCR.


  • bradsbeard 19 hours 16 min ago (view)

    Looks like Savant has his breaking pitch classified as a curve while Fangraphs calls it a slider. Suppose by ST he could have made everything over in the pitching lab, so who knows!


  • Arizona Phil 19 hours 32 min ago (view)

    Again, none of these rules (including the one that requires a pitcher to face a minimum of three batters or else record the final out of the inning) have been officially approved.  

    I think one possible caveat that might be added to the three-batter minimum rule would be that the pitcher can be replaced prior to facing three batters or recording the final out of the inning if the other team puts up a pinch-hitter. 


  • Arizona Phil 19 hours 36 min ago (view)

    Ptchers would also be treated differently under the new rules as far as the Injured list and Optional Assignment to the minors is concerned, with pitchers having to spend at least 15 days (up from 10 days) on the Injured List before being eligible to be reinstated and at least 15 days (up from 10 days) on Optional Assignment before being eligible to be recalled (inless the pitcher is being recalled to replace a pitcher on the 26-man roster who has been placed on an MLB inactive list).  


  • Arizona Phil 19 hours 36 min ago (view)

    SONICWIND: As the rule is proposed, prior to the start of each MLB regular season a club must designate all players on its Opening Day 26-man roster as either a "pitcher" or a "position player." A maximum of 13 can be designated as pitchers (14 pitchers max when rosters expand from 26 to 28 beginning on 9/1). 

    For players who come up during the season, the club must designate the player as either a pitcher or a position player when the player is placed on the MLB active list roster. 


  • Arizona Phil 19 hours 49 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Fangraphs shows the CT as his primary pitch in 2018 with the SL & FB (and an occasional CH) as his secondary pitches, with no CV at all. I guess I'll find out for sure in Spring Training. 


  • Sonicwind75 21 hours 5 min ago (view)

    AZ Phil, thank you as always for the detailed information.  How is the "cannot be a pitcher" part of the rule to be enforced?  With a few two way players and the increasing amount of mop up innings being handled by position players it seems like there could be a gray area there.  What is preventing a team from stashing an athletic relief pitcher as a "5th outfielder" that could be a pinch runner and play a passable OF when needed but could also provide them with extra relief pitcher.  Anytime I hear of a new rule I always think of how Bill Billichek would circumvent it t


  • bradsbeard 21 hours 6 min ago (view)

    AZ Phil, looking around Baseball Savant, it looks like Winkler now primarily throws a low 90s cutter, a 4-seamer that he throws a little harder (but is less effective), a curve and a sinker. The slider and change haven't been a major part of his repertoir the last two years. The cutter has been really effective the last two years but it looks like he lost command/effectiveness of his 4-seemer and curve last year For whatever reason  


  • bradsbeard 1 day 26 min ago (view)

    They just signed this guy:


  • Hagsag 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    There seems to be a lot of player movement so far. Too bad the Cubs aren't involved.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    Beginning in 2019, a club must wait a minimum of seven days before it can place a player who was claimed off Outtright Assignment Waivers during the off-season back onto waivers, so because he was claimed off waivers on Wednesday 11/27, yesterday (Wednesday 12/4) was the first day the Cubs could place LHRP C. D. Pelham back onto Outright Assignment Waivers, and so tomorrow (Friday 12/6) is the first day the Cubs can send Pelham outright to the minors (if he was placed back onto waivers yesterday).


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    A Competitive Balance draft slot can be traded only during a period of time starting on December 2nd and extending up until two hours prior to the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft), so don't be surpised if these draft picks are traded during the off-season.

    Keep in mind that the slot cannot be traded for cash unless it is a financial adjustment made to offset the salary of one or more of the players involved in the trade.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    The active list roster limit changes scheduled to go in effect in 2020 have not yet been officially approved. Same goes for the three-batter minimum (or else record the third out in the inning) for relief pitchers.