Rumor Has It

I can't find the original "reports" this , but some trade talks involving and with coming over to the Cubs (and I presume other pieces would be involved). The other teams mentioned involved with Garza include the Blue Jays with names like , , and being thrown out there and the Tigers with names like and mentioned. The Yankees as well, although no names have been mentioned although you'd presume and would be at the forefront of those discussions.

In his chat the other day, is as good as gone suggesting it's just a matter of time before the Cubs sign or trade for a center fielder from the Blue Jays. The Nationals presumambly have some interest. I'd say upgrading from Byrd to Crisp would be a goofball move, but let's see if it actually happens.


If 2012 is going to be a rebuilding year, then why has everyone forgotten about Brett Jackson? We already have an albatross in LF (Soriano), Byrd in CF, and DeJesus in RF. Reed Johnson is supposedly back with the club, although I don't think it's been made official because of 40 man roster complications. Where does Tony Campana fit? I'm not saying he's a legit starter, but I would like to see his speed, energy, and mental toughness make the club. That's FIVE outfielders. Trade Byrd and bring in Ellsbury or Coco Crisp? Why bury Jackson rather than see what he can do with MLB pitching? He hit 0.297 at Iowa last year while playing exclusively playing CF. I realize the PCL is an offensive league, but a 0.939 OPS is pretty nice no matter what angle you look at it. Perhaps there is a taker for Soriano? Perhaps the new regime isn't sold on Jackson and are going to use him as a trade chip before he goes all Felix Pie on us? What gives?

Being a Cub fan in the off season is just too damn scary with a new GM's (sic).

maybe they're fine with Jackson in LF rather than CF...shrug. Maybe they will trade him, although to me he's the one prospect in the system that fits what they seem to be preaching (working pitchers and playing defense). I'm presuming Soriano is a Cub for as long as they still think they can get something for him. Likely he just gets cut at some point.

Soriano is not going anywhere. Do something genius boy Theo, it's almost 2012 and I'm not going to buy any tickets unless you overpay someone!!!!! /picks up pitchfork //lights torch

so now you want to trade for carl crawford?

I'm not so sure Soriano isn't going somewhere. Maybe I'm reading the smoke signals differently, but Theo has already referred to 'sunk costs' shortly after taking over when asked about long-term FA signings. I think his people are making every effort to find a taker for Soriano, then will approach him for his NTC approval, or give Sveum the freedom to include or not include him on the roster when they leave AZ.

I have no problem with Jackson in LF over Soriano. As you already said, better defense and an approach at the plate that fits with what Theo is trying to do. Maybe because we have a new GM, who isn't responsible for Soriano's contract, then the new manager will play the better player in LF... and maybe that is Jackson? That would be refreshing. On the flip side, Soriano's trade value would take a serious hit and any chance we had of dumping him on someone else and saving even a little bit of money on that contract would be thrown out the window.

I can't believe an AL team wouldn't find $4 to $5MM annual value in Soriano as a DH and occasional outfielder. For all his many faults, Sori does still pop 25-30 HR/year and can still sneak in 15-20 SB. That's not worth anywhere near his $18MM/year contract, but 4 or 5? Absolutely. Possibles might include Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota, Seattle and Oakland. They don't need to send the Cubs any real players other than a nothing minor leaguer for appearances sake. All they need do is be wiling to cover that 4-5MM/year, and Sori is gone. Buh-bye.

rather optimistic about those SB's. But why give up anything and commit to 3 years of Soriano when you can sign someone for about the same for less years and probably younger.

I (and I'm assuming 29 other MLB teams agree) would not give up anything or have Soriano tied to my team payroll for the next 3 years at any salary above the MLB minimum. Nothing gambled for Theo et al to try and move Fonzie, but I expect them to release him at the end of ST unless Sveum decides he has a place for him on the roster. He can't run the bases, play LF at any level resembling MLB average, now can't even throw accurately to a base, and is a .245 hitter who has zero strike zone discipline. Oh, but he can hit 25-30 dingers a year and half a dozen singles that should have been doubles if he wasn't assuming they were out of the park. If I was pitching and turned to see him in LF, I would go to the back of the mound and puke my pre-game meal. Yeah, I don't like him.

"Sori does still pop 25-30 HR/year and can still sneak in 15-20 SB." Why exaggerate his accomplishments? He hasn't stolen 20 bases total in the last three seasons. Power-wise, he did get off to a fast start last season, hitting his 12th home run on 5/27, but his totals the last three seasons, counting backward, were 26, 24 and 20. Do you really want to give him 500 plate appearances again this year? I don't think hitting 20 home runs in 500 plate appearances makes you a major leaguer, much less one worth $4-5 million. Jake Fox has 20 HRs in 534 PAs. Jason Dubois has 10 HRs in 227 PAs in the majors. If you expand that to Soriano's average PAs the last three seasons (526), that's 23 HRs for Dubois. Would you talk about Dubois' value the way you talk about Soriano's? Like Fukudome, Soriano has little or no value to a major-league team. Try Japan.

You are saying that hitting 20 hrs a year in 500 PAs is someone that shouldn't be a major league regular? Should Gary Mathews/Keith Moreland/Andy Van Slyke and hundreds of other good major league outfielders have never played? People are excited about Brett Jackson's potential as a 20 hr/year player, aren't they? Questioning whether Soriano is worth is salary is obviously a major topic here and we all know the answer. But to say that Soriano has no value to a major league team is, IMO, ridiculous.

The problem is, as you say, his albatross salary, which his production comes nothing close to warranting, and this affects the team's finances as a whole. He blocks others from playing. He can't field his position. Froma pure baseball standpoint, he has no real ability to help move runners, because he is such a dead pull hitter. I don't have stats at hand to prove it, but when I think of Soriano, I don't think of a guy hitting the ball to the opposite field, or moving the runners along by slicing one deep in the hole at second, or executing a slick hit and run or run and hit manoever. However, he did have a respectable RISP average and OPS of .285 and .839. For a good team, he might be a reasonable option as a DH, as long as you don't have to pay him more than a few million for a year's service, which is about what a player like him can usually get at the same point in their career. But because of the fact he has the potential to hold back others because of his atrocious salary, and because the massive number of zeros in the ledger probably even makes it unlikely Ricketts will move on Fielder, and certainly stopped him on Pujols, and because he is an absolute defensive liability in the outfield, it's not entirely unreasonable to say he actually carries negative value.

>>'s not entirely unreasonable to say he actually carries negative value.<< TO THE CUBS. That's the point of my original post on the matter. To an AL team, OTOH, he has some value. I posited it might be $4 - $5MM/yr, others will likely feel it is less. But he has SOME value in the right setting, and that means Jedstein ought to be able to recover some of it in a trade. Which would be a lot smarter move than simply releasing Sori as some here apparently are hoping for.

Well, that's no fun. We basically agree.

"to say that Soriano has no value to a major league team is, IMO, ridiculous." I would say that the #1 fallacious assumption shared by people on this board, especially those who comment about Soriano, is that a player who can hit 20-25 homers in 500+ PAs in the majors is a major leaguer. To me, those numbers suggest an over-thirty first baseman in the Pacific Coast League (or a minor-league third baseman like Scott McClain who didn't project as a 3B in the majors and would have to move to 1B/LF/DH). I already gave you Fox and Dubois, who share with Soriano the ability to hit home runs and the inability to play a defensive position. When Soriano could run, there was some separation between him and Fox/Dubois, but not now. Jackson is a triple threat, so there's no comparison. Moreland came up as a catcher, played 169 games there, over 200 games at third, etc. It's always the same thing, the aggregate of what a guy can do. All Soriano can do is hit 25 home runs. That's it. That makes him the type of player who is commonly referred to as AAAA. Why do you think they can't give him away for free? I'm surprised you didn't suggest trading him for one of those $45 million ham sandwiches.

Well..they can't give him away because he make $18 mill each of the next three seasons. Teams would take a guy who hit 26 HR/88 RBI and they could bat him 6th or 7th if he made $7 mill. Quad-A guys don't do that, they end up in Japan or as Cubs minor league coaches.

Got to agree with Virginia Phil on this one. If we're to believe Theo, his people put a premium on players being able to play a defensive position (even LF) at a MLB 'average' level in addition to putting up 26 HRs/88 RBIs. Soriano (by everyone's fielding stats metrics here) can't do that. He can't take proper routes to the ball, does not set up properly under the ball in a correct throwing position, is 50/50 on hitting the cutoff man, and now has a hit or miss accuracy with his throws. I can name 5 HS Senior OFs in my area who right now can play MLB defense in the OF better than Soriano. He's a DH if any AL team would take him at whatever the market rate for that right now is in 2012. Soriano is the very definition of 'sunk costs', and Theo very well may release his ass in March if he can't move him for the 85th best prospect in someone's system.

I agree that Soriano's defense is terrible. My response to Virginia Phil arose from the following quote in his post: "I don't think hitting 20 home runs in 500 plate appearances makes you a major leaguer, much less one worth $4-5 million." His post didn't mention defense, but did talk about a lack of speed. I think there are many teams that would happily take an outfielder who hits 20 hrs (not to mention 26 hrs, like Soriano) for $4-5 million who wasn't fast. In fact, I would argue that almost every team would want this person.

OK, as a former outfielder I've always had an axe to grind with sluggers who can't play the OF. Soriano can hit 25 HRs and his RBIs might win 8-10 games in a season. It's pretty obvious watching his what passes for OF play contributes to at least the same number of losses.......and/or his defense makes the team have to produce more offense than it would have needed had someone else been in LF. Look, this is real decision time for Theo as he puts together the 2012-2013 Cubs: does he continue keeping/playing this clown because he makes $19M/yr through the 2014 season? Or, does he convince Ricketts this was a bad contract and they have to cut bait? I agree with you and everybody else who thinks there's many teams that would take a player who hits 20+ HRs, 80+ RBIs as long as he's the DH. Soriano is DONE in the NL. He needs to be a RH DH and there's only 14 of those jobs right now, and all in the American League. What's pretty obvious to me is that there's no AL team right now interested in paying even $2-3M for the next 3 years. Most of these GM's are just as smart as Theo and can figure out they'll probably be able to pick up Soriano off waivers for the MLB minimum come the end of Spring Training. Why give up any prospect, let alone commit millions to Soriano for the next 3 years?

This was a nice discussion - which to me came to one basic conclusion. Soriano's market value is a 3-5(?) million a year DH solution at best for an AL team looking, my words here, to add a small punch to an already loaded team. The Hendry bet failed, and Theocorp needs to deal with it. It's not an interesting discussion beyond that, right? So happy new year, and let's move on. I keep seeing names from posters I typically enjoy, with the little orange "New" post, and seeing this crap. You guys are better than this! You are!!!!

Rebuilding doesn't mean you don't field a big league team.

Correct, but it does mean that fielding a big league team is not as important as rebuilding. So if fielding a better team harms your rebuilding effort you don't do it.

"But where the short-term priority and the long-term priority conflict, we’re going to choose the long-term interest." - Theo

yow... "Pujols agreed to a backloaded deal so that the Halos could sign other talent, including left-handed starter C.J. Wilson. The contract starts at a salary of $12 million, jumps to $16 million in 2013, and will eventually reach a salary of $30 million."

With the Dodgers in decline, the Angels will recoup a non-trivial portion of Albert's annual salary in additional ticket sales and merchandising alone. I could easily see a 5-10MM/year revenue bump for the Angels here, that softens the blow of Albert's contract considerably. For example, I forget the source now, but when a fan buys a new official-MLB Angels jersey with "Pujols" on the back of it? Thanks to Bud Selig's merchandising and licensing efforts, I believe I read the team pockets something like $15/jersey. You do the math: If they sell 100,000 of those jerseys, the team pockets $1.5MM in immediate cash flow right there. And in the LA sports market with roughly 15MM population, I gotta guess 100,000 jerseys is a low-ball estimate.

$3 billion TV deal gonna pay for most of that.

yeah, i think they got the loot for it...and by the time albert's making 30m the team will probably be spending at/near 150m...still, damn.

I know this is long but...Bill Center, Sandiego Union-Tribune reporter had an online chat are the Cub related highlights (mostly speculation on Rizzo): Comment From Guest  So Bill, what's the next shoe to fall for our Padres? Rizzo? BC: I think Rizzo will be traded in the next week or two. I can see him going to Tampa Bay, then the Rays trading him to the Chicago Cubs. Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod still covet Rizzo. Comment From: Michael  Why do you think the padres gave up on Rizzo so quickly? was it because of his long swing or do you think they just had a chance to pick up someone more suitable for hitting at Petco in Alonso so they jumped at the chance to get him? BC: I think they are more taken with Alonso than Rizzo, particularly given how each might fit into Petco Park. I saw Alonso in one series last season and he hit the ball hard. Not with great loft, mind you. I don't think he's a home run hitter. But he hit the ball hard. Comment From: Ed in LA  Is Josh serious about dealing Rizzo? Shouldn't we let him battle it out in spring training with Alonso. The kid is 22 years old. BC: He is serious. Not only is he only 22, Rizzo lost one full season to his fight against cancer. So he is only 21 in terms of experience. I too think it could be too soon to trade Rizzo. But teams are interested in obtaining Rizzo with the Rays and Cubs leading the way. My guess is that it depends on what teams are willing to give up to get him. But Alonso looks to be the Padres first baseman of the future. Comment From: Matt   If the Padres were going to trade Rizzo, have you heard of any names in a potential trade? What is the team looking for in return? BC: The Padres would love to get a quality middle infield prospect. Those, however, are few and far between and not the names being tossed around. Tampa Bay would be willing to give up a starting pitcher, I've heard possibly Niemann or Davis. Comment From: Dustin   As far as 1st baseman go, Rizzo seems to me to be pretty athletic. Any thought/talk of the Padres trying him in left next year? I would really hate to see him go if Byrnes can't get a top shelf SS for him. BC: I don't think Rizzo goes anywhere unless the Padres get what they want. He could spend another year at Triple-A with no consequence to the ballclub. I don't see him having the speed you need to play in the outfield. Comment From: Guest   Rizzo's long swing and AAA numbers remind me of Karim Garcia. Do you think Rizzo is a AAAA player? BC: Rizzo needs to make an adjustment. Major league pitchers were getting him out with the same stuff in September that they nailed him on when he first came up. His long swing creats holes. But all players are adjusting all the time. You have to believe that Rizzo can adjust. If he can't, he would fall into that Four-A no man's land.. But I think he's better than that. Comment From: Kevin   Would you think that the Padres would HAVE to get some kind of middle infield prospect to make a Rizzo trade worthwhile? We have almost no depth in that area. Why not just hold onto him otherwise, we don't need to move him immediately. BC: I think the Padres desperately need to make some kind of a trade for a middle infield prospect who will be ready to play late in the 2012 season or my next spring. Middle infield is an area where there is little immediate help in the organization, except for maybe Logan Forsythe at second. Everth Cabrera is the lone fallback position at short as it stands now Comment From: ryan   would you rather have wade davis or jeff niemann in a rizzo trade to tampa? BC: Wade Davis

"would you rather have wade davis or jeff niemann in a rizzo trade to tampa? BC: Wade Davis" ...this dude smokes some high quality crack the rest makes sense, though...heh.

although the speculation that the Padres might take a starting pitcher (Davis, Niemann) from Tampa for Rizzo, it seems that it might be a better fit for them to get Hak Ju Lee from the Rays. If that were to happen, I wonder how the Cubs would fit in if they really wanted to get Rizzo (considering Lee was the big prize for Garza). I'm not liking this 6 degrees of separation line of thinking, makes my head hurt.

I don't have a problem trading Garza to TB, NYY, or BOS if the return is 2 nearly-ready MLB starting pitchers. I do have a problem trading BJax for a minor league first baseman (Rizzo) who hasn't figured out how to hit major league pitching yet. I would really hope Theo's whiz boys could put together a package that wouldn't include the teams only nearly-ready MLB outfielder.

"he essentially was a power hitter...he just got on base in other ways." - Clubhouse Confidential dude on Tim Raines while pointing to adjusted-slugging stats that, along with using tom tango's work to defend when to use relief pitching, made for a head-splodin' episode.

Gammons tweets Congratulations to Merill and Jed Hoyer on the birth of their son Beckett.

I'm sure they've been closely monitoring their twitter feed for his congratulations.

you missed the implication in the tweet--- i.e. that Gammons wants us to know that he has been in close contact recently with Hoyer AND it's not much of a jump to figure out or at least speculate ... that Hoyer was one of Gammons' GM's he was referring to when he said that several GM's think Fielder might sign for 3 years.

No I got it. I just don't give a shit. Either, he's friends with Hoyer, so he call him and congratulate him personally or he can keep his whiskey-hole shut. He doesn't need to congratulate Hoyer to me. Is Hoyer reading these tweets and thinking "Wow, Gammons wants people to know that I had a baby...that's great!" or am I supposed to think, "Wow, Gammons cares that Hoyer had a baby, he's great!"? I give less than a shit about the personal lives of ballplayers, managers and celebrities and twitter is a waste of 1's and 0's.

I still get the feeling you don't get it. The tweet wasn't really about congratulating Hoyer it was about Gammons letting us all know, albeit obliquely, that he actually had real sources for his speculation that Fielder would sign for three years. Boras' reaction -- //“Not only is that inaccurate and delusional, but it seems that some people have gotten into their New Year’s Eve stash just a little bit early this year,” Boras said.// put Gammons on the defensive.

THAT strikes me as a bit of a reach. I think he's just an idiot.

yeah, what a dick for congratulating someone he knows on the birth of their child. some people...

Good. I'm glad you agree. He didn't just congratulate someone...he tweeted it to the whole (baseball) world. It's like showy prayer and public charity (yeah, I'm looking at you, Oprah). If it's not between you and the recipient then it's about you.

Are you presuming he didn't congratulate him personally as well? His tweet may be a bit silly, but so is bitching about it. He uses it for personal stuff all the time.

i use public tweets to congratulate people i know so i don't think it's as big a deal as some of your are making it out to be.

I'm the only one making a big deal about it, but I'll move on....

I have no idea what Gammon's reasons were and he might just be wanting attention. That said I see nothing wrong with letting people know something important has happened about a team they like. Helps you understand a bit more about the people you root for. Again I know nothing about Gammons, don't read him or follow his tweets and not even gonna try to form an opinion on his actions. Don't feel though public congratulations are same as public charity or prayer but more of a public service to let people know.

Fair enough; Similar to TMZ and People Magazine, I still find twitter mostly repulsive, but I don't begrudge the disagreement. I sure wouldn't want Gammons telling the world that I had a baby, but whatever.

This should be good and inflammatory: I don't want Jacoby Ellsbury for Matt Garza. We'd be buying at his highest (#2 in MVP), and even presuming he's not due for a correction to his monster year last year, his best years should be the next 3-4, which then, we need to hang on to Garza for the team to be worth a shit during that time. I'd love to have him, but trading from the pitching depth we dearly need to get him wouldn't make a whole lot of sense.

A Byrd and Garza deal would have to, I hope, include some starting pitching coming back along with any outfielder(s).

"MLBInsideNews #Cubs source: Clubs final offers are in on Garza. Epstein and co. deciding which offer to go with. Expect a resolution soon." sigh. i hope the name "drabek" doesn't come near any of this...and i really don't care that the yank's betances is 6'8" and has looked like a 25 year old since age 18, he's still got control issues. both guys have tremendous upside...i'd just like something a little more 'slam dunk' myself.

Agreed. Drabek is a wash-out, and the Yankees (and their acolytes in the press) ALWAYS overrate Yankees prospects. No thanks. One thing is for sure, if it does turn out to be a Garza for Ellsbury swap, then it's a sure thing Soriano gets released at that point. Jedstein signs Coco Crisp as a placeholder until BJax gets past the magic June 1 date, and your opening day OF looks like Crisp, Ellsbury and DeJesus, with Reed and Campana on the bench. When have the Cubs EVER had that much team speed? It would be fun to watch. Don't know who'd pitch though without a pitcher coming back for Garza.....

Why is 24-year old Kyle drabek a wash out?

Because he had an ERA of nearly 8 in 75 AAA innings last year maybe? The Cubs have a stable full of shit bags that can pull that off.

to each their own... guy was the jewel in the Halladay trade and many think he has #1 stuff. 2 years ago he was an easy 5-star prospect (#14 overall by BP). One bad year in the AL East shouldn't have people give up on him. Obviously he had some major control issues last year, but his overall minor league numbers seem to suggest he can keep it within acceptable levels.

reading this dude's twitter feed leads me to believe he's got some credibility questions and a history of throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks, fwiw. i just saw it on the tcr ticker feed so i dunno anything about "mlbinsidenews" seems some people have issues with some past predictions and his total lack of sources for both successes and failures.

Is it legal for him to use the MLB logo like that on his page?

Mark Prior was a slam dunk. Considering Garza's health track record, I would just as soon build around he and Castro and dump anyone else. Video of a Whitesux fans reaction to her Christmas present

Blog, Jays journal discusses Garza in some detail. A bit too bluejayey for me but some info on Kyle Drabek, some discussion on the former Cubs sent to Tampa for Garza and some stats showing Garza's 2011 improvements.
Anthopoulos hasn’t overpaid in one trade since taking over as GM, and parting with three top prospects in a trade for Garza won’t be his first.

Jesus the BoSox fans think the AL East is the promised land (saying Matt Garza is a #4 starter in AL East): My response to him - and I didn't even get into his crappy use of statistics. BTW I don't think Garza is as good as Beckett, but wanted some comparison: "Look - this is getting ridiculous. Is/was Josh Beckett an ace or 1/2 starter for instance? Can we agree on that? Pick any four consecutive years in his career. Less consistent than Garza, only one year he has pitched more than 210 innings in his career (injuries are not a plus - so don't use that - Garza's sturdiness is a selling point). Similar K rate. Beckett with lots of ERA approaching or exceeding 4.00 followed by stellar years. Dominates lesser teams. I see your point and there are some compelling stats, splits and ballpark effects but your bias supercedes the facts. You still have to pitch the ball and Garza does it. I don't see how anyone can take your argument that he is a number 4 starter seriously. Show me another number 4 starter with 4 straight years under 3.97 ERA, striking out people at his rate, multiple quality pitches, durability, consistent 1.22ish whip? Find me one, and under age 30 and with two years of control left. Your main point is well taken - you don't want the Sox to overspend and you don't think they need anything but a consistent inning eater, you think Garza somehow is frozen in time and does not advance his skills and cannot compete in the AL East (btw The WS champ came from the NL central where Garza just pitched a wickedly effective year)... Then fine - don't spend on Garza . . . But don't invent a criteria without comparison to other players. Garza beat WS champs St. Louis in late August (a shutout btw), te Cubs won the last six games Garza pitched and they were a TERRIBLE team. He did not give up more than 3 earned runs in any game he pitched after July 29th. He didn't miss a start. 10 of his last 11 starts were quality stars over 6ip and 3er or less. Regardless of ballpark or opponent. The one non-quality start The Cubs beat Atlanta when they were still hot in August and he pitched 5innings and gave up 2 earned runs. Hey one more note: while in the AL East Matt Garza pitched in 5 postseason games. Never failing to go at least 6 innings, 3.48 career postseason ERA . . . He beat the Red Sox TWICE in the playoffs and the victory he had at Fenway? 1 earned run. Number 4 pitcher? Really?"

heard that... just because you have 2 pimps on your team in TB and you're a 3-4 pitcher there don't mean much when that 1 and 2 are philly level 1 and 2 starters. garza's been undervalued since before he put on a cubs uniform. he throws mid-90s on day 1 inning 1 all the way to day 162...stays healthy... cole hammels is a #3 in philly and unless they wrap him up he's going to be someone's #1 or a lucky team's #2 pitcher next season.

hehe, Bleacher Report he would be the Red Sox #3, the Yankees #2 and probably the Blue Jays #1 or #2 depending on your thoughts of Ricky Romero.

rickey romero is already planning for his post-career...doing the rounds (like mark grace did for years before getting perm booth jobs with ARZ and Fox Sports) in various media interview and desk ventures...getting used to the work and getting his "practice" in. oddly, he's getting his break in offseason NBA basketball work.

I just got the newest Bill James Handbook...never thought projections were worth much (just minor shuffling of the previous year) but here they are for what it's worth: 2012 Hitter Projections: Starlin Castro G158 AB631 HR8 SB 21 of 31 .312/.354/.441/.795 DBarney G98 AB306 HR2 .275/.317/.356/.673 MByrd G146 AB556 HR13 .275/.329/.412/.741 DDeJesus G124 AB424 HR8 .271/.349/.399/.748 BLaHair G104 AB289 HR13 .273/.335/.474/.809 ASoriano G130 AB433 HR22 .252/.308/.469/.777 GSoto G127 AB440 HR 19 .252/.345/.450/.795 Ian Stewart AB239 HR 10 .247/.328/.444/.772 2012 Pitcher projections: Garza G31 IP214 BB69 K185 Record 12-12 ERA 3.70 Dempster G32 IP203 BB80 K185 Record 11-12 ERA 3.95 Zambrano G30 IP181 BB78 K149 Record 10-10 ERA 3.83 Wells G27 IP174 BB59 K156 Record 8-11 ERA 4.24 Cashner G26 (20 starts) IP137 BB54 K121 Record 9-6 ERA 3.35 Casey Coleman projected for 20 starts, 5-7 record, 4.29 ERA Marmol G74 IP76 BB52 K97 Saves 36 ERA 3.43

It would be really nice if Casey Coleman can do that. I'd just prefer to see him try to match those numbers with some other team.

Anyone know if it's possible to order the PDF using PayPal?

also noted their 2011 plus/minus defensive ratings (different but mostly parallels runs saved) LF leader Brett Gardner +31 trailers: Ibanez -29, Alex Gordon -14, Alf Soriano -13 RF leader Jason Heyward +30; 2nd David DeJesus +21 3B leader Pablo Sandoval +26; trailers: MReynolds -33, CJohnson -23, ARamirez -19 SS leader Alex Gonzalex and Brendan Ryan +22 trailers: Jeter -22, Theriot -15, SCastro -15 Pena, Barney, Byrd, Fukudome and Soto not mentioned so they must be middlers. Garza not mentioned in the trailers as far as pitchers go.

fix the defense and the pitching staff suddenly looks good...well better.

Baseball America reports the Cubs signed two Cubans I've never heard of before, outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and righthander Carlos Martinez. Balaguert played CF next to Jorge Soler (RF) who has gotten a lot of hype next to Cespedes.
Balaguert and Martinez are both represented by Jaime Torres, who also represented outfielder Rubi Silva and catcher Yaniel Cabeza when they signed with the Cubs out of Cuba on Dec. 15, 2010.

Wonder if that will help signing the stars from Cuba? I hope so...that would be a great place to spend money IMO (possible high upside, no draft pick or other loss).

a bit 3/44, Jon Morosi article on cubs revamped scouting
The Cubs also made a more subtle change that could impact their daily performance: The team hired former Red Sox major league scout Kyle Evans and put him in charge of the Cubs’ revamped video and advance scouting.

matt dorey and kyle evans...both those guys combined are younger in age than some guys out there. the ex-rsox boy's club grows... at least evans has experience worthy of his job title. btw, evans is the guy who "sold" jason bay to the Rsox management (the manny to dodgers trade).

Bay was great for the Red Sox, they also sold on him at the right time.

yeah, im just adding the dude's knowledge base...we all know who jason bay is, but the office and scout world has their lesser known dudes. evens + video/scouting = i'll take it. he's very qualified. i've also questioned dorey's lack of experience, however, i know so little about him (and not a lot about evans) that i'm not making a judgement call on how dorey will do his job...i just know he's really young and has little experience compared to most people in his position. it's not a mega-high-end scouting position, but a national cross checker logs tons of miles traveling and is usually a guy a bit older and more experienced.

twitter-verse stuff... MLBInsideNews Scott Swaim Birth of Hoyer's child had slowed things down. 20 minutes ago MLBInsideNews Scott Swaim Sources: Yankees are OUT on Matt Garza. Seemingly down to BlueJays and Tigers 52 minutes ago

dude is really polarizing...some people fall over themselves to give him props...others go out of their way to call the guy out for tossing up a bunch of unsupported things to "see what sticks."

some BA question on Twitter saying that Cubs asking for Drabek, Alvarez and Syndergaard Alvarez Drabek Syndergaard

that sounded better to me when i assumed the "alvarez" was pedro alvarez from PIT in some kind of multi-team trade. yeah, he throws high-90s, but that's about it (except his overhyped (imo) changeup). i mean, i'd love to have him in the system...but *shrug* i'd rather have him than drabek...then again i really don't like drabek.

Just watched a "good" Drabek game from last year when he beat the Tigers. Man o man... He looks like a kind of wilder less-nasty-with-the-breaking ball - but just as frustrating Kerry Wood (I loved wood as a starter - but he was MADDENING at his worst). I'm not saying I wouldn't take Drabek, but it felt like post traumatic Kerry Wood syndrome watching him not be able to hit his spots. And not being able to challenge the hitter. I know he had a shit year but still . . . The style was pure Texan and familiarly terrifying!

kerry wood is a good one...i think of him as similar to todd van poppel, myself. he's got good stuff...but even if he knows what to do with it he's not going to set up anything if he can't hit his spots in order to put a plan in motion.

Van Poppel was the most disappointing can't-miss prospect ever. To me he has two amazing distinctions: 1. The rare player who actually did better with the Cubs than elsewhere. 2. He should give his agent and the A's Promotion department yearly Christmas mega-gifts and maybe his first born for somehow propelling him to a decade long MLB career . . . Cause he was horrible. His stat line is the pitching equivelant of Mendoza's . . .

"running the ball out and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played." - d.sveuvuevum on his main managerial rule ...he also said no one should try to test him on that one. good luck, guy. interview on MLB's Intentional Talk (k.millar interview).

Soriano and him should get along wonderfully...

another 3/44 but, Buckner officially back as hitting coach for Boise

Morosi/Rosenthal, chasing a tiger by the tail for news...
They (Tigers) tried to acquire Gio Gonzalez before he was dealt from Oakland to Washington, but those efforts stalled when the A’s demanded righty Jacob Turner and third baseman Nick Castellanos. Because Garza comes with fewer years of control, the Cubs would be less likely to insist on both Turner and Castellanos in talks with Detroit. The Blue Jays have discussed Garza with the Cubs, but one source said there has been no recent momentum toward a deal. The Boston Red Sox hope to add at least one starting pitcher and are fond of Garza, but they don’t have active trade talks with the Cubs right now, according to one source. It’s unclear if Boston has the prospects to swing a deal for Garza...

MCB blog has Turner as the Tigers #1 prospect and a recent writeup: and they have Castellanos as the Tigers #2 prospect:

yeah, he's kinda awesome. he's one of the few kids that might take longer than 2013 before he's ready that i wouldn't mind seeing in the cub's system. i think a lot of people see him playing full time by 2013, though.

um, which 'kid' (Castellanos?)? (there are two there...) and a big ol' finger to Cubster (I just found the same thing, was going to share....)

turner...very much turner.

Which finger? There are 4 (and a thumb).

You're number one!! ;-)

yeah never give the finger to an ortho cause he just might take it from you (literally)


If we can believe this guy... @MLBInsideNews Scott Swaim High ranking #Cubs source: Likely to accept #Tigers offer for Garza soon

I think the consensus is that this Swaim guy is a poser.

At least he spells his name right.

he just might take it from you (literally) --- you think we keep a jar of spare parts?

or maybe i'm thinking of psychiatrists like hannibal lecter LOL

Carlos Quentin is now a Padre for 2 minor league pitchers not in the top 10 prospect list (although one has the best slider in the Padres system according to BA, Simon Castro)

Sweet, hopefully they'll want someone else other than Jackson for Rizzo.

Soriano is the very definition of 'sunk costs'... --- Edward S. Norton: Mister Keyes, I was RAISED in the insurance business. Barton Keyes: Yeah, in the front office. Come now, you've never read an actuarial table in your life, have you? Why they've got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poison, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by *types* of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth; suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from *steamboats*. But, Mr. Norton, of all the cases on record, there's not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train. And you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? Fifteen miles an hour. Now how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself? No. No soap, Mr. Norton. We're sunk, and we'll have to pay through the nose, and you know it.

A Double Indemnity quote! Well played.

Marlins in on Garza per Rosenthal.

I don't know much about this Yelich fellow, but his numbers look delicious.

BA has him as their number 1 prospect, a Will Clark hitting type who projects as an average defender in LF and maybe 20-25 HRs and good average at the plate.

From what I have been looking at, Jacob Turner of the Tigers would be serious goods. On the Tigers blogs, however, they state that he was rushed out of AAA. Definetely ACE potential according to many, and very young.

imo, if DET is stupid enough to part with turner + others for garza then it's their own fault. he's not the next coming (maybe), but if the cubs are going to punt in 2012 this is a guy that at least should be able to produce similar to garza by 2013.

geo soto's 2011 season included laughing while the WSox manager kicked his face mask across the field...and huging brandon phillips at the plate after a play where phillips decided not to run into the brick wall of soto. i'm okay with this...hehe. the "new modern era" baseball #1

Happy New Year, and here's to a new era!

Theo traded away New Years for St. Patrick's Day, Arbor Day, and a minor religious holiday to be named later.

Obviously he got St. Paddy's Day to send on to Boston as compensation for himself. So we're left with a holiday about f'in trees (good for infield rakes, I guess) and something else so useless we don't even know what it is yet. Who is the patron saint of lost causes, I forget? I can see why AZ Phil is down on the new regime.

Bats are made from trees! We finally got that big bat we need.

Yeah, but it's a maple, and sure to spear Castro in the chest and ruin his career...

Peter Abraham, Boston Globe says Theo's old budget spending spree isn't happening again for the Redsox ("constrained by the expenditures of the past")...The Redsox are at a projected payroll of $176M and at $178M a 40% luxury tax kicks in.
The Red Sox were a destination point for expensive free agents during the tenure of former general manager Theo Epstein, the doors to Fenway Park thrown open each winter for the best players in baseball. Invariably they left with big checks. Epstein was reliably generous during his eight years in office. With one exception, that coming prior to the 2008 season, he spent at least $15 million every offseason on free agents from outside the organization. New general manager Ben Cherington, constrained by the expenditures of the past, has been forced to take a new approach. The Red Sox have so far relied on trades to fill holes in their roster and have no plans to sign any of the premier free agents still on the market. (don't forget page 2)
There are starters available via trade, the best being Matt Garza of the Cubs. Epstein, now president of baseball operations of the Cubs, has said he expects a big return for the righthander. Given the prospects they have used to make trades in the last 13 months, the Red Sox are unlikely to meet his price.

Between the Red Sox ownership and Boston media, they have done their best to slam everyone who left the organization this off season. First, the villian was Terry Francona and now it is Theo Epstein. Instead of thanking the departing manager and GM for their years of service and TWO World Series Championships, they do their best to disparage both men. If Epstein can do the same in Chicago that he did in Boston (some good moves, some bad moves, two WS championships), he'll be a hero. If I could, I'd make that deal right now. Stay classy,. Boston!

per Ken Davidoff, Newsday Cubs are Fielder's choice, but...
Fielder wanted the Cubs; they’re a reasonable distance from his Florida home and he has outstanding numbers at Wrigley Field. The Cubs, however, appear committed to a full rebuild for 2012.

FWIW, that's just the writer's opinion. It doesn't really mean any more than if you or I came to the same conclusion and wrote it. Besides, even if it is true, how does that prevent a signing of Fielder? If you were a star, wouldn't you think it's cool to have a team built around you?

Here's the thing: if the Cubs were to win the Cespedes sweepstakes, and this is a Theo type of move according to his comments on how he is looking to the Intl markets, and youth, I would assume that there would no Fielder signing. Conversely, it would probably take at least a year for Cespedes to get acclimated to playing in the U.S., and even more time to get used to playing in Chi in April!

Cespedes isn't very youthy. He's only a year younger than Fielder. I'm hoping they trade Garza, Byrd, and Marmol. Then sign the fatty as a nice base to rebuild with. I'm sure Fielder wouldn't mind one year of shitty baseball, he's been on plenty of crap teams in MIL. Then the Cubs can go bonkers in FA after next year when all those poopy contracts come off the books.

1 year of shitty? Let's see...the starting rotation in 2013 is what exactly, if Garza is dealt? ? ? ? Travis Wood Jay Jackson? there must be some stud pitching that's almost ready that I've never heard about.

1 year of shitty? Let's see...the starting rotation in 2013 is what exactly, if Garza is dealt? ? ? ? Travis Wood Jay Jackson? It does make one pause for thought, doesn't it? If Garza is dealt the 2012 starters = Z (and he will be here), Dempster, T.Wood, and one of 3/4 possible end-of-rotation starters. 2013 - I have no clue... Also, I would be pretty confident that one of the remaining unsigned guys like Francis or Maholm would get signed - or the Cubs would make a trade for someone like Gorzo. I really would like to see Prince in a Cubs uni, however.

Agreed on Prince. Francis or Maholm.Wow...... Your 2012 Cubs folks...Paul Maholm, and Jeff Francis..what, Chuck Rainey and Frank Castillo weren't available?

What Rob said, basically. Let's pretend the return is Turner plus a lower level Detroit pitcher 2013: FA Starter/Cain/Hamels Turner Wood Cashner Wells/McNutt/Samardzija/etc If they can manage to deal Marmol/Soto/Byrd they could possibly bring in another starting pitcher prospect that could show up in 2013

i cant imagine DET wanting to give up turner...but if they need that much of a sure thing for 2012...go ahead, then.

Dave Cameron mentioned that he thinks the Tigers could get it done with more of a mid-rotation Maholm type, but I think adding another Garza-type ace-ish pitcher is more in line with what they need to get where they want to be. Trying to win it all on one big horse is risky. There's no single recipe for a championship, but stacking aces is a good place to start.

presumably they'd be getting 1-3 starters in a deal for Garza that would be near ready. here's the list of potential FA's with * indicating some sort of option on their contract. Scott Baker * Joe Blanton Matt Cain Fausto Carmona * Kevin Correia John Danks Jorge De La Rosa * R.A. Dickey * Scott Feldman * Gavin Floyd * Zack Greinke Jeremy Guthrie Cole Hamels Dan Haren * Tim Hudson * Colby Lewis Francisco Liriano Kyle Lohse Derek Lowe Shaun Marcum Daisuke Matsuzaka Brandon McCarthy Brett Myers * Carl Pavano Jake Peavy * Anibal Sanchez Jonathan Sanchez Ervin Santana * Joe Saunders James Shields * Jake Westbrook * Randy Wolf * Carlos Zambrano *

John Danks

He'll be traded, and hopefully Theo will be the one pantsing KW this time.

If they get more than 1 pitcher who is ready and another prospect, I will eat my autographed Jason Dubois Cubs jersey. (buying mustard just in case)

some of the * guys... most-likely option pickups (assuming health, etc) Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout Brett Myers (32) - $10MM club option with a $3MM buyout Ervin Santana (30) - $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout questionable pickups Fausto Carmona (29) - $9MM club option Jorge De La Rosa (32) - $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout

That works out great. They can give him $45M in 2012 since they don't need to sign anyone else and can a few $M each by trading the next round of FAs. Then the end of the contract can be a lot lighter on the dough. Let's think outside the box, Theo.

@georgeofman George ofman Could you see Matt Murton back in a Cubs uniform? He had two monster years in Japan.

Actually, he saw his OPS drop 132 points last year to .762, his rbi flop from 91 to 60 and his runs scored plummet from 105 to 66 as he morphed into a no-walk slap-single hacker in pursuit of a .300 BA.

George Offman everyone! ~scatter applause~

sometimes you feel like-a McNutt...

Anyone else appreciate how brilliantly Theo is pitting the AL contenders in a double bind? I love it ... If Tigers, BoSox or Yanks don't overpay for Garza they likely will watch their main competition run him out there ... It's a double bind I quite enjoy watching. I bet they're all hoping he goes to Marlins, Padres, or to a lesser extent Toronto ...

i dont think laughing at other teams is something the cubs are in business for in 2012.

Good point crunch. Btw I am not laughing, I just think it is a brilliant chess move that approaches check-mate. Not much those teams can do but bid. The part I "enjoy" is the craftiness, and hopefully the payoff.

unpossible, don't you know this regime is a failure!

unpossible, don't you know this regime is the pope, jesus, and ted williams's head for 3-points at the buzzer all rolled into one? there's a special place in hell for people like you.

Yeah sitting on a stool on top of you. ;-)

in hell, it's not the type of stool you'd prefer.

thanks dante

KWilliams sends Jason Frasor back to Toronto for 2 more lower end prospect pitchers. Another salary dump move. 34yo Frasor wasn't very good with the WSux so he's probably better off in Toronto.

Rogers Whispers column... Usual speculation on Toronto (Drabek), Detroit (Turner, Porcello), etc. and then this off the map mention:
Andre Ethier, who is one year away from free agency, is high on Theo Epstein's wish list. He's the type of guy the Cubs president might look to acquire at midseason in the hope of keeping him around, like the Reds did with their surprising trade for Scott Rolen in 2009.

Nick Cafardo in his sunday baseball notes taunts Cub fans...
4. To the Cubs fans who dissed me on Twitter for saying their team was not going after Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder: What do you think, still holding out hope?

i have a very trusted source which tells me nick cafardo's mother wears combat boots...she stank, too.

This man is a professional columnist, and #1, uses language such as "...who dissed me on Twitter for saying..." and #2, feels the need to defend/attack Cubs fans from fucking TWITTER?!? Listen, you can put as many hollywood stars on a thing as you want, the internet always has been and always will be, to some, anonymous. That's why kids sneak porn on it, that's why people slander and attack others, it's because there are very few, if any, tangible consequences. Unbelievable. The Boston Globe should be ashamed of itself. This is childish. PS That comment alone makes me absolutely want to get on Twitter and F with Nick Cafardo. Which, well, maybe that was the point... To gain more followership?! Create controversy where there is none?

Unfortunately Chris Carpenter was unharmed

the other stuff that's Cub related from Cafardo:
21. Given his efficiency in deals so far, Cherington has the flexibility to trade for the Cubs’ Matt Garza. Garza is the one pitcher out there you would “extend’’ for. The Blue Jays have been very aggressive with the Cubs trying to make a deal.
and he still harps on the Theo (over)Compensation issue, this time lowering his sights from Castro/Garza to Byrd
27. Would the Red Sox and Cubs settle on outfielder Marlon Byrd as compensation for Theo Epstein? Byrd is a 34-year-old high-effort righthanded hitter with a good arm who could platoon in right, though his splits are not platoon-friendly. Last season, he hit righties at a .296 clip and lefties at .219. Something would probably have to be done about that $6.5 million salary, with the Cubs picking up some, if not all of it.
36. We’re always intrigued by how Tampa Bay puts its team together. There has been a lot of talk about the Padres trading Anthony Rizzo there and the Rays flipping him to the Cubs for an offensive piece or bullpen help. Some Rays people don’t buy it, though. First base is an issue, and Casey Kotchman could very well end up there again because he makes contact and plays good defense. Carlos Pena’s name has also been mentioned.
Cryptic Garza reference?
46. Get the feeling Detroit is going to add some serious pieces in January.

also some rumoring from Scott Swaim on a Soria trade to the Angels being near, including John Hellweg (6'9" High-A starting pitcher) and others not yet decided. plus... MLBInsideNews Scott Swaim Garza deal still very close. 3 hours ago!/MLBInsideNews

he's getting more and more "haters" every day for the stuff he keeps throwing out shotgun style. i'm just ignoring the guy based on the sheer amount of predictions he makes during a 24 hour period. no idea how legit or not legit he is, though.

rolls on the floor laughing, inventing a new LOL for the Angels if said is true. Fantasy. AL team, maybe. What's weird is I sort of like Fonzy. Nice smile.

Soria. Not SoriaNO.

Here's another thing. I don't think trading Garza = punting on 2012. It tells me their mindset is quite different than ours, and that is all. Thank goodness for that. Because, as much as I respect your opinions, I don't think, at all, that any of you, save possibly AZ, would be considered for a position in an MLB scouting department. Hell, I thought Hee Seop Choi was going to become the next Jim Hickman. Or something.

Jon Heyman article...
There is "no real favorite'' in the five-team Matt Garza sweepstakes, according to someone familiar with the talks.
Although he says there are 5, there are no new mentions and he lists Detroit (Turner), Yankees (Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances) and Bluejays (several well-regarded prospects at the lower levels). I assume the other two are the Marlins and Redsox.
The Red Sox don't have pitching prospects to match the Yankees or Blue Jays but do have hard-throwing righthander Anthony Ranaudo, who was drafted by Epstein, the new Cubs president.
Here's a link to some scouting info on Ranaudo (note the mlb comparison mention of Chris Carpenter): and a Fielder mention...
A Cubs person suggested that while Fielder is the type of player they need, they aren't willing to pursue Fielder at all costs

I'd mentioned here earlier that maybe we could coax a Banuelos, Betances and Montero for Garza and Soto type of deal from the Yanks. Looking at that roster the biggest needs they have are Catcher and Starting pitching. Seems like we can totally be their huckleberry in filling those spots. Operation 70 Million dollar payroll presses forward!!!

It doesn't seem like the 2012 Yankees do moves like that anymore. That's more like a 2004 Yankees move. To get three top-end prospects, the Cubs would probably have to sweeten with someone like BJax or The Real Carp.

This guy speculates that a Yankees package would include Betances, Austin Romine, and one of Phelps/Warren; of course, that's without considering the Soto factor.

Soto is a top 5-10ish catcher who is under club control for 2 more years. Surely there is value there? He isn't expensive yet.

Is he any better than Russell Martin?

Seriously? Soto is absolutely better than Martin.

They are pretty much equal, but I give Martin a slight advantage because he isn't a lead footed fat ass.

Martin's last good hitting year was 2008 when he had a 108 OPS+. Soto has clearly better recent stats.

Yanks have Martin, Montero and Gaby Hernandez, doubt they're looking for a catcher.

so TheoCorp is the GM version of Scott Boras? Cool!

theo has innovated a few things in how the money works in the game...the lackey deal (which shouldn't have been done, but that's another convo) had a built-in extension in case of injury. it's nice to get a cheap extension option to help hedge the suck, but what it's really done in the immediate term is suddenly knock a few million off their payroll-to-luxury-tax threshold...which came in handy this season....though not handy enough.

What is interesting to me is that AZ Phil has a clear mistrust of TheoCorp and it has been hard for me to figure out why. A part of me thinks he's just sort of jealous - hey, he might think, that could be me making all that money. And that would be a legit complaint. AZ has some good scouting brains. Another part thinks he's just sick and tired, like me, of just everything. Tired of incompetence. Another part of me thinks he is worried Theo is just gonna ride, and do a McFail thing. Only AZ can answer this, since I have a million other theories. All I really know is that for once I sort of disagree with him. And that, alone, makes me want to hear his reasoning. He is, by far, much more knowledgeable about baseball than me. AZ? Care to comment?

i wouldn't call it mistrust, but i don't wanna speak for him. the moves so far have been wholly unimpressive to more than a few people, though. i don't think too many people mind the marshall/wood deal, but even then the cubs picked up a middle-end rotation guy. for a team with a lot of money...20m this year and 50m next year -is- a lot of's just not the approach some of us would like the team to go in. some of us see a savings in money like this one being an opening to put that money elsewhere. offseason isn't over, though...things could happen. the "plan" obviously isn't finished being put in motion yet. it looks like 2012 is "punt" though.

And yet you all can't put forward a realistic plan for competing this year and the long term both. Just saying a team with money can do both doesn't make it happen with bare free agent markets.

I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what the "plan" is. Several of the moves made by JedStein have me scratching my head. Like AZ Phil, I believe the money the Cubs spend should allow them to field a contender while also building the farm system. Those two goals are not mutually exclusive. I trust Jedstein. I think they'll end up building a winner (part of being a Cub fan is being unrealistically optimistic), but so far I don't really understand what they are doing.

I wonder how much our confusion is based on The Ricketts clan. I understand the argument that Theo would not have accepted his current gig without a money promise, but so far, Ricketts is showing himself to be a small market player. Until he makes a splash I will.assume he cant afford to be a real owner.

Follow the way the money has declined on the payroll since he has taken over. We are literally looking at spending about 50% of what the payroll was when he took over. That in and of itself has got to be of some concern to Cubs fans.

I see no reason to believe that they will trade Garza and then not spend any additional money, which seems to be what you're suggesting. It's possible they'll cut payroll a bit, or spend a lot more next year than they do this year, but they will not be operating under $70 mil this season. I'd be extremely surprised if they stayed under $100 mil. Frankly, I think the Theo regime is going to wheel and deal continuously until the whole franchise looks more like how they want it to. I suspect this roster will continue to undergo major changes all the way through spring training 2013. #wild_speculation

As is we are under 95. If we deal Garza we are going to be around 85. We are only a Marmol and a Soto away from being a 70 Million dollar club. It is something I think we absolutely see this year. With Z and Dempster coming off the books next year. We might be in for several years of under 80 payrolls.

I would worry more about value--what Epstein terms "assets"--than about payroll, since by signing expensive free agents you can find yourself owing $54 million to a player whose contract (with three years remaining) may not be worth $5 million to another team. After the Cubs "traded" Fukudome last season they were still on the hook for 85% of his salary, so he was still on their payroll, as was Milton Bradley, effectively, in the guise of Carlos Silva, who was also somewhere else. There's enough money tied up in that group to make any payroll fan happy, but not an asset to be found anywhere. Talk about value or assets, not payroll. If the Cubs trade Garza, it will be because they are getting more for him than he is worth.

until Crawford and Lackey, he was doing a great job of not being stuck with bad contracts they were desperate to move. Not saying all the FA signings were good or he got equal value to what they spent, but none were as damaging as say Soriano or Zambrano or even Fukudome. Crawford is still a work in progress of course...

fwiw, between current arbitration offered players and auto-renewals and the $5M owed Pena, I've got payroll estimated at $95M with close to a $9M estimate for Garza. AZ Phil may have slightly different numbers. I'm under the presumption they'll sign some pitchers though and be in the $100M-$105M range if they don't get Fielder. There's also Cespedes and possibly Soler.

Plan seems pretty clear to me. Sell high (folks like Marshall) and buy low (DeJesus, Stewart) in an effort to build up the minors and try to catch lightning in a bottle in 2012. It also seems clear they want to get better defensively. I think the only real questionable move was not protecting Flaherty, but I don't think he'll be a big loss.

Mon, 01/02/2012 - 7:19pm — Old and Blue What is interesting to me is that AZ Phil has a clear mistrust of TheoCorp and it has been hard for me to figure out why. A part of me thinks he's just sort of jealous - hey, he might think, that could be me making all that money. And that would be a legit complaint. AZ has some good scouting brains. Another part thinks he's just sick and tired, like me, of just everything. Tired of incompetence. Another part of me thinks he is worried Theo is just gonna ride, and do a McFail thing. Only AZ can answer this, since I have a million other theories. All I really know is that for once I sort of disagree with him. And that, alone, makes me want to hear his reasoning. He is, by far, much more knowledgeable about baseball than me. AZ? Care to comment? ========================== O&B: I think the real problem is Ricketts. He (or his family) should not have bought the Cubs if he/they can't afford to operate the club as a large-market team. A large-market team like the Cubs should be able to put the best-possible team on the field at the big league level every year AND build a strong farm system AT THE SAME TIME. The two are not (or should not be) mutually-exclusive of one-another, even though the Cubs are making it seem like they are (and are trying to sell fans on the idea). But I refuse to buy into the "gut & rebuild" plan being foisted on Cubs fans by Ricketts/Epstein. Some of you probably have forgotten that the 2006 Cubs lost 96 games. But after the 2006 season, Zell & McDonough did not order Hendry to "rebuild" the team by trading big league "assets" for prospects. Instead, they allowed Hendry to spend payroll on free-agents. And that's how you rebuild a large-market team. The result was that in less than three months, Hendry hired Lou Piniella as the new Cubs manager (persuading him to take the job by promising that the Cubs would spend money on free-agents), signed free-agents Alfonso Soriano (coming off a 40/40/40 season), Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa, and Jason Marquis, and re-signed Aramis Ramirez and Kerry Wood (who were also free-agents after the 2006 season), and then Kosuke Fukudome post-2007. The end result was that the 96-loss 2006 Cubs immediately morphed into a 2007 Cubs team that won 85 games (a 19-game improvement over the 2006 version) and won the N. L. Central, and then the 2008 Cubs won the N. L. Central again, and had the best record in the N. L., scored the most runs, and gave-up the second-fewest. And the 2009 Cubs won 83 games and finished 2nd. The 2007-09 Cubs won more games over a three-year period than any Cubs team since 1936-38 (the last three seasons of the Cubs team that won four pennants in ten seasons 1929-38). The 2008 Cubs should have been the model for all future Cub teams. Not the 1906 "hitless wonders" Chicago White Sox that Team Epstein is apparently trying to emulate. Except Piniella and Hendry got it into their heads that the 2008 team was "too right-handed" (because they got swept by the RHSP-heavy Dodgers in the LDS), which prompted a series of moves that led to a gradual back-slide and a 71-91 record in 2011. And Hendry has to be held responsible for that backslide. But the type of rebuild you do to fix it does not mean trading your best big league assets for prospects. That's Pittsburgh Pirates shit. Instead you SIGN free-agents, give contract extensions to your best players to keep them from being free-agents, and make trades to ACQUIRE big league assets. And then simultaneous to that, you build the best farm system possible. To that end, the Cubs have tried to develop players from within, spending big on international talent since 2007, and paying a number of over-slot bonuses to players selected in the First-Year Player Draft over the same period. But they have to do a better job of developing talent from within. That said, I also believe some of the moves made since Epstein & Crew took over were bone-headed just because they were bone-headed (not adding Flaherty and M. Gonzalez to the 40-man roster, selecting an "A"-ball pitcher in the Rule 5 Draft who has been pitching for only two years and has zero chance of spending the 2012 season in the big leagues, trading LeMahieu and Colvin for Stewart and Weathers when there was a good chance Stewart was going to get non-tendered, and signing Corpas and Sonnanstine to major league contracts instead of minor league deals for the same money so that they wouldn't have to take slots on the 40-man roster). But if Ricketts really wants to construct a small-market team like the Tampa Bay Rays/Minnesota Twins at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs "build from within" and spend money mainly to keep their own guys from leaving (like the the Twins did with Joe Mauer) but rarely sign free-agents from other clubs (and then no eight-year "Sori" contracts), why hire Theo Epstein to run that team? Why would anyone think Epstein & Co. can construct a team like that? In the nine seasons Epstein was GM of the Red Sox (2003-11), the Sox had the second-highest payroll in MLB five times, the third-highest once, and the 4th highest twice. Over the last two seasons alone, the Red Sox payroll was so high they had to pay a luxury tax. The Sox payroll was $30M+ more than the Cubs last year, and they still didn't make the playoffs. Over the past few years, Epstein doled-out seven-year mega-million dollar contracts to Adrian Gonzalez (acquired in a trade) and Carl Crawford (signed as a FA), a six-year deal to Daisuke that included a $50M+ posting fee, and a five-year FA deal to John Lackey. I don't think that's how Ricketts wants the Cubs built. If Ricketts wanted a build-it-from-within guy, I can understand firing Hendry, but why hire Theo Epstein of all people? Ex-Houston Astros GM (and present Tampa Bay co-GM) Gary Huntsicker, or a Scouting or Player Development Director from a team that has had success as the direct result of developing their own players without the help of mega-bucks high-end contracts, would have made more sense. So instead you hire the GM of the team that just had the biggest September collapse in baseball history despite having a payroll that required paying a luxury tax? I think the answer to that question may be that Theo was GM of the team that broke The Curse of The Bambino (twice), and Ricketts sees that and thinks if he can break that "curse," he can break the Billy Goat Curse, too. Except Theo didn't break the Curse of the Bambino only by building from within. He had a monster payroll budget every season, and he spent it. Now he has to try and be Andrew Friedman, and he's never had to be that guy. What I have seen so far is a baseball operation that is whistling past a graveyard that they themselves are creating. I'm not even sure that they actually know how to do what it is they were charged with doing.

Surely, I won't be the only one responding to this, but I'd like to add my two cents, for much the same reasons that O&B asked this question--I too rarely disagree with AZ Phil. I absolutely see your point. A large market team absolutely should be able to field a contender every year by spending money at both the big league and minor league levels, promoting players from within, and also trading for and signing players outside the organization that they want. If you have a $120+ payroll, you should be able to to both. I also think that Theocorp wants the Cubs to do both. The difference between AZ Phil and the Theo regime seems to be (this is speculation based on whatever pattern they may have established so far) that Theocorp does not believe the Cubs can do that this year. I believe, based on their statements, that the plan is restructure the team so that it can do exactly what AZ Phil says, but not in 2012. I think Theocorp looked at the team the Cubs have right now and decided the team was not in a position to patch up. I think they decided it was totaled and that they had to start from scratch. It seems clear to me that AZ Phil disagrees. I will respectfully not pretend that I know whether the Cubs were so screwed up that they needed a complete rebuild. This has been my wish for a while, though. I want to see them rebuilt from the ground up. I don't approve of all the moves made by Theocorp--the manipulation of the 40-man appears a little careless, for example--but, as a fan, a major rebuild appeals to me. I don't know whether it's really going to make the franchise better or not. I have no way of knowing that. It's kind of nice to not necessarily agree (even if I'm not definitively disagreeing) with AZ Phil for once.

With all due respect, since I greatly appreciate your insight on the Cubs minor league system here, I'm taking all of this with a big grain of salt for two reasons. First, you consistently overvalue Cubs' prospects. If every guy you thought was going to develop as you said they would had actually done so, the Cubs would have won it all already. I am not losing 5 seconds of sleep over Ryan fucking Flaherty. It's hard to to "make trades to ACQUIRE big league assets" when you have very little to trade. Second, you always assume you know something about roster management and moves that GMs do not. I find this perplexing. I like that you explain them on here since most of us don't have the time to read the rules and understand them; but they aren't complicated rules, and it is just bizarre that you constantly assert that GMs don't know them. They do. And they certainly have reasons for making the moves that they do. The logical answer is not that they don't know the roster rules, but that they have reasons for acting as they do that you haven't thought of. And yes, 2007-2009 was fun as a Cub fan, but we didn't win it, and all we as fans did was bitch the entire time. We complained that Hendry's tactic was to just throw money at free agents every off-season and hope they would win it all, and then try the same thing over again next year. We complained that many of these free agents were hit and miss, that they were signed for too long, that their salaries hampered the ability to add anyone mid-season, that a couple of injuries to old vets would derail a season, and that even if we won the team would be in constant state of flux and you would have to start over every off-season with a flurry of new signings. We hated it. The entire time we looked at the Phillies with a core of Howard, Utley, Rollins, Hamels who came up through their system and will be together for years. We saw the Red Sox with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester and said the same thing. We wanted that. We wanted a team built for the long-haul, where you can add a couple of key free agents to a home built core, be competitive every year, and have money to sign home grown talent to long-term deals and make mid-season moves. We are now about 8 weeks into that process and everyone is already bitching. Jesus. Give it some time.

WISC GRAD: I hope you take everything you read "with a grain of salt." I have never claimed or said that any GM (including Jim Hendry or Theo Epstein) "doesn't know the rules." All I do is offer my opinion about a particular roster move and why it might not have been a good move, especially since the GM is supposed to know the rules and shouldn't make mistakes like they sometimes do. I don't think it's "bizarre" that GMs make mistakes. Why do you think they get fired? When a team has a $160M payroll, making stupid or careless roster mistakes can be easily ignored. But now that Epstein & Co. are operating the Cubs, little mistakes can matter a lot more. As for "consistently overvaluing Cubs prospects," I don't think I do that anywhere near as often as you apparently think I do. I am critical of many Cubs prospects (for various reasons) and offer negative opinions about a player when that is my opinion. I talk to a lot of scouts from other organizations, and I've never met one who didn't have an opinion of a player that turned out to be totally wrong. Many times, in fact (and they readily admit it). That's why minor league players are called PROSPECTS, not SURE THINGS. What I try to do is report my observations, report what I see & hear. That's all. And I never claimed that Ryan Flaherty (or Marwin Gonzalez, either) was going to be an All-Star, just that it was stupid not to put them on the 40-man roster. Obviously, the Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros agree with me. BTW, Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton (acquired from PIT for prospects mid-season 2003), Derrek Lee (acquired from FLA for two prospects November 2003), Nomar Garciaparra (acquired from BOS in four-way trade with Cubs prospects going to MIN and MON mid-season 2004), Juan Pierre (acquired from FLA for three prospects December 2005), Jason Kendall (acquired from OAK for prospects mid-season 2007), Rich Harden (acquired from OAK for prospects mid-season 2008), Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow (both acquired from PIT for prospects mid-season 2009), and Matt Garza (acquired from TB just last January) were "major league assets" when they were acquired in trades in exchange for Cub prospects, and in fact prior to the Matt Garza trade last year, Jim Callis at Baseball America said BA had the Cubs farm system rated as the #8 system in MLB going into 2011, which is probably how and why Hendry was able to put together the package needed to acquire a pitcher like Garza in a trade. As for the Cubs trying to build a championship team that includes several key home-grown players, that's fine, but you really should know that while the Phillies and Red Sox have developed a few important pieces in-house, both also have monster MLB payrolls, and frequently acquire expensive players in trades and sign free-agents to lengthy mega-million dollar contracts. In other words, a large-market team like the Cubs should be able to put the best-possible team on the field at the big league level every year AND build a strong farm system AT THE SAME TIME. The two are not (or should not be) mutually-exclusive of one-another, even though the Cubs are making it seem like they are, and are trying to sell fans on the idea (apparently rather successfully in your case).

The Phillies and Red Sox used their monster payroll to add players when they already had a good base. Crawford and Lackey were added to an already World Series caliber team to make it that much better (and they were good signings for that purpose). We do not even have close to what they had and signing crippling contracts to appease people who want a good product on the field this year is a really bad idea if the plan is to be good long-term. I have yet to see one really good free-agent signed who could have helped us put a good product on the field who I would have wanted to take on their contract.

**In other words, a large-market team like the Cubs should be able to put the best-possible team on the field at the big league level every year AND build a strong farm system AT THE SAME TIME. ** This is true... any large-market team should be able to do that. But not necessarily right now, and not necessarily with where the Cubs system is currently at. The Cubs system, imo, isn't a mess. But it is far from producing any truly productive players. There is little star potential, but decent, but not great, depth. And the Cubs major league team is a mess. They lack solid production at almost every position. This is not a team that is fixable in a year. They are paying a backup DH and a #3 starter a combined $36M - that is difficult to deal with regardless of your payroll, but is even more difficult to deal with when your farm system isn't producing any good starters either. Again, as I said elsewhere, I don't hate any of the Cubs moves. I don't love any of them either, and I would prefer that they keep Garza. But there sure is a helluva' lot of bitching about losing a mediocre utility player that may or may not actually make it in the big leagues.

I think the crux of AZ Phil's argument with the Epstein hiring is the following: "If Ricketts wanted a build-it-from-within guy, I can understand firing Hendry, but why hire Theo Epstein of all people?" Basically, if you want to build it from within, you hire someone who has a track record of doing so. Instead, you hire a guy who operated (successfully) by spending large amounts on the major league payroll, but then expect him to switch styles but be successful, nevertheless. That, combined with some of the less-than-brilliant moves thus far (which AZ Phil documents) have raised AZ Phil's level of skepticism. I think he has done a great job of marshaling the arguments behind his opinions. No one knows the final outcome at this point and I my opinion is not as negative as Phil's appears to be, at this point. But some of the same questions he raises about the Ricketts' approach and Jedstein's execution have also occurred to me. One thing that I think goes without question is this: I see a lot of opinions thrown around on other Cubs blogs. I do not see any other blogs that have opinions expressed by their commentators as cogently, with arguments as well-constructed and their supporting facts as clearly laid out as Phil does on a consistent basis. I, for one, think that this sets the Cub Reporter apart from the rest of its brethren. It also appears to me that AZ Phil has not drawn any conclusions or made any predictions at this point. What he has done is identify and lay out some very relevant issues. I say, well done, and huzzah!

name the 9 best players on the Red Sox since 2003 off the top of your head? Manny, Ortiz, Pedroia, Lester, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Papelbon, Beckett, Schilling sure TheoCorp didn't draft or acquire all of them, but to say he doesn't know how to build a team with homegrown talent or know who to listen to at the draft is silly. Of course he supplemented that with FA signings, some of them very poor, some very wise.

Think you got your years mixed up Rob. The starting 9 was Varitek Millar Walker Nomar Mueller Manny Damon Nixon Ortiz With a staff led by Martinez Schilling Wakefield Mike Timlin Derek Lowe Keith Foulke Most of those guys beat Theo there.

Think you got your years mixed up Rob. The starting 9 was ... Pretty sure Rob said nothing about any starting 9.

"since 2003"

My fault. Of course the drafting and arbitration rules have changed. So its not going to be quite so easy to stockpile comp picks and spend overslot to fix this terrible ML system. Going cheap like this is likely punting the next several years.

Because Theo of all people and the people he surrounds himself with are outstanding scouts and talent recognizer's. Theo reads every scouting reporting he ever gets and actually studies them and then goes around to his staff to see who they agree on targeting. If you want to build a teams farm system you hire Theo and whoever wants to work for him. And lets not forget Ricketts stated goal is to build a great farm system so hiring Theo Epstein is exactly the person you want. He isn't just a guy who spends money, if you think that your really don't understand who Theo Epstein is, or much less the people he has already hired.

i can think of at least 1/2 dozen scouting reports involving a lot of money and/or starter roster spots that they must have had upside down or misread somehow in BOS. that said, so far he's not being a guy who spends can defiantly say that's true.

I completely agree Phil.

Milwaukee writer Tom Haudricourt article says the Nats are the favorite to sign Fielder:
The MLB official I talked to wasn't sure the Nationals would go the eight to 10 years that Boras is seeking for Fielder, however. They might prefer to go shorter on the deal but as long as Boras is able to match or exceed the $25.4 million annual salary that Pujols is getting from the Angels, I'm guessing he will be happy. and a followup tweet...
There have been many conflicting reports on Nats and Fielder. It's on. It's off. Etc. I hear they are serious now.

for those TCR readers with a baseball prospectus subscription, there is a nice article by the new sportsmed writers (Corey Dawkins and Ben Lindbergh) that replaced Will Carroll. They run a series called "Collateral Damage". Their new article is on the Tommy John procedure including some schematic anatomy pics of ligament placement

AZ Phil...I saw a mention of a Cubs prospect I don't know much about...Ben Klafczynski Can you fill me in? local paper writeup when he was drafted:

Mon, 01/02/2012 - 11:12am — Cubster AZ Phil...I saw a mention of a Cubs prospect I don't know much about...Ben Klafczynski Can you fill me in? local paper writeup when he was drafted: ======================= CUBSTER: I saw Ben Klafczynski take BP one time at Fitch before he left for Boise, but he didn't attend Instructs so I've never seen him play in a game. He is going to have to hit the ground running at Minor League Camp and hit like a son-of-a-bitch, because there will be a lot of competition for OF jobs at Daytona and Peoria. He could end up at Extended Spring Training if he doesn't make Daytona or Peoria coming out of Spring Ttraining, or he could even get released if he struggles.

ESPN New York writer, Wallace Matthews: Thinks Yankees unlikely to be in on Garza:
But the word out of Yankeeville... is that the asking price is out of the question. The problem is... prospects; like everyone else in baseball, the Cubs are demanding at least two, and possibly all three, of the Yankees Holy Trinity of Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.