Feeding the (Blue) Monster, Part One

This was my original thinking, the only reason I'd read any book about the Red Sox would be to gain insight into Theo Epstein's approach to roster construction and player acquisition. Still, I'm a sucker for a good baseball story and I have to admit that learning about the Cubs sister AL team that suffered from the 'Curse of the Bambino' had it's appeal, if for no other reason than  this old Billy Goat's misery loves company.

Seth Mnookin's 2006 book, is an in-depth look at the Red Sox, focusing on team management and the eventual 2002 ownership change as the reason their drought ended. The Red Sox truly overcame urban legends created by the Boston press with their constant harping on eight decades of and generations of fan misery.

Something I understand (except for the "overcame" part).

Now with the Theo "Compensation-gate" mostly completed, this book is filled with insights into the personalities behind what should have been a simple and quick front office only transaction (with no compensation as you will soon read). Why it became a , vitriol filled, press inflated, word-slinging mess that only Boston is known for makes more sense to me after this read.

There is a lot of story to set up before Theo Epstein jumps in, so prepare for the first part of the world's longest book summary.  Most of Theo's story will be in part deux.  Part one, after the jump...

The Red Sox history dates back to the 1870's when they were mostly known as the Bean-eaters. Jump forward to the more important history of the sale of Babe Ruth's contract to the Yankees by Boston owner Harry Frazee, in December 1919. The real story wasn't about Frazee having financial difficulties or needing cash to produce a Broadway Play (No, No, Nanette...as the press would subsequently create the urban legend in the 1980's). Mnookin relates it had more to do with Frazee wanting to build up a substantial war chest to do legal battle in his longstanding feud with AL President Ban Johnson fueled by media hatred for the owner once Frazee halted perks like free food and liquor for the writers. Even back then, the Boston sportswriters were a noisy, whiny, manipulative lot.

The Red Sox owner of longest duration was Tom Yawkey, who at age 33, bought the team and Fenway Park in 1933 for $1.2 Million. His ownership spanned five decades of major baseball history. Ted Williams was awesome but pennant-less. Considering Jackie Robinson became a Dodger in 1947, the Red Sox were to last to let that barrier go, until Pumpsie Green was brought up in 1959. The 1960's teams were lead by manager Dick Williams and Yaz and included a World Series appearance. In 1974, Yawkee died of Leukemia and his estimated $57 million net worth was left to his wife Jean who would with one of the team executives, Hayward Sullivan (who also acted as GM) and John Harrington (who started as team treasurer but ultimately ran the team for 8 years after Jean Yawkee's death in 1992) would steward the team up until the John Henry era began in 2002.

Once again the Boston press came into the spotlight, creating the Yawkee mythology that he was a rich benefactor:

"a gentlemanly, sporting owner who was more interested in winning than turning a profit"

The author points out that Yawkee was also prone to alcohol fueled rants, unwillingness to break down the racial barrier and hot and cold interest in the team over his years, but it was tough to tarnish a legend when the press wanted to be protective of the long standing illusion.

The Red Sox on the field heartache gets painted along the way. The 'Impossible Dream' team of 1967. The Carlton Fisk HR in the 1975 World Series. The crushing Bucky Dent HR in 1978. The 80's were defined by Roger Clemens and playoff runs in 1984 and the Bill Buckner World Series gaffe in 1986. I had to smile when Calvin Schiraldi was written about as a surprising factor in the '86 Series. Manager John McNamara wanted Buckner on the field to celebrate the final out even knowing that he couldn't bend over because of his arthritic knees and didn't go to a defensive backup (Dave Stapleton) on the bench when Mookie Wilson hit his squibber down the line leading to more crying over spilt milk.

It was this loss that lead to the New York Times columnist George Vecsey writing about the "Babe Ruth Curse Strikes Back". In 1990, Boston Globe writer wrote a book, "Curse of the Bambino" which masochistically focused on Red Sox misery "as he repeated many of the inaccuracies that had hardened into perceived fact."

I loved this quote about Shaughnessy's book:

"it (Curse of the Bambino) served as the unintentional primer on the the ways in which the Boston press was able to inflict itself on players and fans alike. Forever after, every Red Sox fumble, misstep, or mistake would be attributed to a curse that had been popularized, if not largely invented, by a cantankerous sports columnist."

The sale to John Henry's group was incredibly complicated. Remember that bought the decimated Marlins after Wayne Huizenga sold off the 1988 World Series team with the intention of getting a new stadium (they might get one someday soon). Obviously, that effort failed to get past the politicians in Florida. There was talk of contraction of a team (possibly the Marlins) and with the help of Commish Selig, Henry was promised a "put" for the Marlins. MLB would guarantee Henry $158 Million for the team (his original purchase price) if he bought another team and couldn't find a buyer for the Marlins. Ultimately MLB used the put on the Expos and the Expo owner Jeffrey Loria bought the Marlins. The Angels were available and Henry was negotiating with them but Disney Corp was too difficult for him to nail down a deal with. So when the Red Sox went for sale, several of the moving part owner-wannabee's that were swirling around started to take shape and looked to the crown jewel and large market ownership that the Red Sox represented.

The original group formation involved players Les Otten (a ski resort mogul), Tom Werner (a TV producer with mega-hits like The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70's Show and in the early 90's the Padres owner) and Larry Lucchino (who gets a chapter called, 'The Baseball Visionary').

Lucchino's baseball career started with the Orioles when his mentor and Redskin's owner, bought the O's in 1979. When Williams died in 1988, Lucchino was named team president and CEO (NY investor, Eli Jacobs bought the team) and during his time in Baltimore, Camden Yards was created with much credit given to Lucchino's vision. Eventually Jacobs had financial problems and the team was sold to current owner Peter Angelos in 1993 but Lucchino made $10 million from his 9% ownership stake. Lucchino soon went to the Padres when Werner sold them to John Moores. His Padres stay was definitely successful and included 2 division titles and an NL pennant (1998). He learned how to run a club in a small market but profitability was still difficult and his relationship with the owner became strained as Mnookin's reports, "possibly because of Lucchino's combative and abrasive management style". With Lucchino out, Bud Selig tasked him to help see if Henry had exhausted all options to get a new stadium in Florida...and the connection between those two was made.

Finally, the Red Sox were put on the market in October 2000. As ugly as the Tribune purchase and bankruptcy by Sam Zell was leading to his unloading the Cubs, the story of the Red Sox transaction had my head spinning. Once again the Boston press ruled court. The 'hometown' bid came from home grown Joe O'Donnell (owner of Boston Concessions) and Steve Karp (a real estate developer) plus the feverish and a powerful local entourage that was pushing for this group (ranging form Boston's mayor Menino and the Globe columnists Will McDonough and Dan Shaughnessy). Conversely, they were pushing hard against what would become the Henry led group.

McDonough blasted away in his column:

If Harrington (the last of the Yawkee Trust, selling the Red Sox) wanted to do the "right thing," he would "chose the O'Donnell group, because their local roots and financial stability combine the best of what (the Yawkee) tradition wanted to champion. Maybe I'm old school, but the O'Donnell group has been positioning itself in a way I'm much more comfortable with: staying low-profile but still putting together a substantive financial and business package for the Red Sox"

Musical chairs ensued. Near the finishing line, Henry and O'Donnell had joined forces then fell apart over a dispute on controlling interest. Other competing groups were in the $700-plus million range but had financial contingencies and could not prove they had full financing in place. Ultimately John Henry's fairly liquid net worth of $1 Billion and Bud Selig's input that Henry was likely to get speedy approval of ownership sealed the deal.

Of course, this didn't sit well with the whiny press. Boston Herald headlines:

"Visitors 1 Boston 0"

because the hometown press favorites didn't get the team,  articles included:

"The fix was really in."

Shaughnessy vented:

"Selig can be forgiven. It's OK with him if we become the Royals of the East."

GM Dan Duquette wanted to stay but Lucchino was made President and CEO. The Duquette front office was known to be combative including a rough 2001 season having a September swoon and major communication issues between players, staff and the press including a public dispute between manager , volatile OF Carl Everett and Duquette. Duquette publically sided with Everett and Williams was fired in August. Star hitter, Manny Ramirez was unhappy with interim manager Joe Kerrigan, plus he complained of a poisonous clubhouse and a press corp that wouldn't leave him alone. In his first meeting with Henry in spring training 2002, Ramirez said, "I hate the pressure...I gotta get out of here."

On Feb 27th, 2002 the Red Sox sale was finalized. 24 hours later, Duquette was fired and replaced by assistant GM Mike Port who was given the interim GM title. Five days later Kerrigan was fired. Eventually Lucchino picked Grady Little to manage because he was expected be a calming influence in the volatile clubhouse.

Several more hirings came shortly after, as Lucchino was getting his team in place and both were Boston natives. Sam Kennedy (with expertise in Corporate sponsorship development) and his Brookline High School baseball teammate Theo Epstein (they became known as "the Brookline Two"). Lucchino knew Epstein dating back to his Oriole days in 1992. Theo had landed a summer internship in Baltimore with Lucchino. After Lucchino had moved over to the Padres and Theo had graduated from Yale, Epstein applied to work in the San Diego front office.  In fact while with the Padres, Lucchino encouraged Epstein to get his law degree from the University of San Diego. In 2000, Theo was named the Padres Director of Baseball Operations.

Epstein coming to Boston needed approval from Padres owner John Moores but as previously mentioned the relationship between Lucchino and Moores was strained.

Here is the ironic part. Mnookin writes,

"In baseball, there is an unspoken rule that clubs will allow their employees who are under contract to interview for positions with other teams if the new job would be a promotion."

Quoting Lucchino:

"I was pretty determined to press John (Moores) to request permission to talk to them. These were not just promotions, but opportunities for them to return home to a sort of dream job they had always hoped for. I couldn't imagine someone standing in their way."

Moores relented and on March 24th, 2002. Theo Epstein joined the Red Sox front office as assistant GM. Clearly Lucchino's plan was to gradually groom Theo for the GM job. No compensation was required. That precedent of no compensation for management personnel movement by Boston was never mentioned since Theo was hired in Chicago.

Two more events took place before we get to the good stuff. Godfather of Sabermetrics, Bill James was hired and he even gets his own chapter. It was a beautiful fit philosophically with owner John Henry's road to riches as a futures trader. John Henry is quoted:

"Usually when making investments, it is implicit that investors believe they have some degree of knowledge about the future. I've had an advantage over the years because I am clear about  a couple of things: 1) it is a part of the nature of life itself...to trend, and 2) I will never have a complete or full understanding of anything. Therefore, all investment decisions should be based on what can be measured rather than what might be predicted or felt. People in both baseball and the financial markets operate with beliefs and biases. To the extent you can eliminate both and replace them with data, you gain a clear advantage...Many people think they are smarter than others in Baseball, and that the game on the field is simply what they think it is, filtered through their set of images and beliefs. But actual data from the market means more than individual perception/belief. And the same is true in baseball."

Event two? Billy Bean didn't take the offered Boston GM job. meets .

Finally, the stage is set for part two. Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein battle (the Yankees and themselves) all the way to the top. To be continued...


More whiny stuff from Boston. Sounds like it might hurt less if someone takes the sticks out of their butts...and this stuff comes after John Henry just apologized over comments for throwing Carl Crawford under the bus (publicly said he was against the Crawford signing)... Jon Heyman tweet:
Henry doesn't sound thrilled w/ theo compensation, but says that's how tough negotiations go. (maybe he can apologize to carpenter now)
Tim Britton (Providence beat writer) tweet:
Henry said there was a "basic misunderstanding" with the Cubs over compensation expectations
Gordon Edes tweet:
Lucchino on Theo comp: We have a saying: All's well that ends. Period. That's our view about this thing. Let's move on. Next issue
this link has a video (from WEEI) of the above quotes during the presser with the 3 Red Sox owners: http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseb...

Tom Werner's on the right, Lucchino (left) and Henry (center) talk to the Boston media: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2012/02/25/... ...and a more detailed Henry quote from this article by Dan Shaughnessy (note the use of the word "bollixed" (I borrowed it for the writeup) and the parting shot (about Henry's inattentiveness).:
Regarding the bollixed Epstein compensation issue, Henry said, “If it’s a tough negotiation, both sides generally are a little unhappy with the way it worked. The Cubs probably aren’t happy with it. We probably aren’t happy with it. Given the amount of time that was spent on it, it probably was the appropriate result. “I think there was a basic misunderstanding between [Cubs owner] Tom Ricketts and I when we first spoke about it. I really admire Tom Ricketts as an owner. We probably had a misunderstanding, at least as far as expectation. There was no real agreement. We probably had different expectations based on our first conversation.’’ Not the first time Henry’s inattentiveness has cost the Sox.
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/... P.S. Nick Cafardo's weekly baseball column...not a Cub related whisper. To quote Big Z: "Thanks God" http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/...

The fix was in...

Scott Miller from cbs.com has two Cub articles out. This one has a Theo interview with some good quotes:
Know what's sort of refreshing about the Cubs this spring? The baseball.
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/17444399/c... --- The second article is called "Likes and Dislikes": http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/17444370/c...

Uh, yeah. This one's pretty good too: From where they are now, it's more about the tortoise than the (Bryan) LaHair. And that's when I closed that tab

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/... In the case of the Angels — who announced their deal with Fox Sports West within days of the 10-year agreement with Pujols — the entire $317 million commitment to Pujols and Wilson is covered by roughly two years of the value of their TV deal. It’s believed the Cubs receive about $45 million annually for TV rights on their WGN and CSN deals combined. says WGN contract expires in 2014, CSN in 2019. I have a fear that games won't be on WGN much longer.

thanks for the article Dr. Hecht, interesting stuff.. I would say the promotion from whatever position Theo held in San Diego to assistant GM probably doesn't deserve much in the form of compensation.

At the time, Theo was probably an undervalued asset so he was pretty much undersold, but by the time the Cubs got to him, Theo's talents were already out of the bag.

The compensation although not spelled out in terms other than vague assumptions made on both sides was based upon a conversation between John Henry and Tom Ricketts. There must have been some mention of compensation...it was just a question of what and this was the mistake not to make this more concrete. Some of the problem was the organizational mismatch at the time. The initial interaction was between owners and not CEO or GM's (or in the Cubs case there was only a new interim GM and no Baseball CEO as Boston had). I recall Crane Kenney got some more bad press at the time for any involvement (another unclear issue as to whether he also promised any compensation) in this mess because he was the closest comp to Lucchino at that point....and would have been like putting a lamb (wearing Kenney's Cub uniform) in a tigers cage. Until Theo was actually on the Chicago side of the fence to counter the Lucchino factor where CEO vs CEO could take place.

USA Today reported: Chairman Tom Ricketts said, "2011 wasn't what we wanted it to be on the field, but off the field, we've added some people that I think will get the organization going in the right direction. And I think we have a bright future." **He said president Crane Kenney was the one who actually requested permission from Boston to speak to Epstein**, and after negotiations began, they flew him in for a clandestine meeting in Chicago.

Castro seems to think he's batting third. http://mlb.scout.com/2/1162131.html Swaim might be thinking: 9 DeJesus 4 Barney 6 Castro 3 LaHair 7 Soriano 2 Soto 5 Stewart 8 Byrd

the "guessing consensus" since they settled on this crew of talent is castro is moving back to the 3 slot again. though SWAIN hasn't said so, a lot of people are slotting d.barney into the 2 slot assuming SWAIN's a "contact hits 2nd" type manager (common, though usefulness debated). castro fits this definition for that 2 slot, but he also projects to be a #3 or #5 hitter eventually, anyway.

I have strong thoughts about the type of batter who should bat second. Unfortunately, no one on the roster meets the criteria.

I bet they have the DNA lying around somewhere to clone Sandberg. Was it "The Book" or some other similar read that said a team should put their best hitter in the #2 spot of the lineup? Castro belongs there imo, especially on this team. He may not take a lot of pitches, but can hit behind the runner and DeJesus isn't gonna steal much anyway.

IMO, Castro in 2012 should hit in the spot in the lineup that management feels will best aid his long-term development. I just read some press where Theo or Sveum was saying they want him taking more pitches, so wherever he needs to bat to help him do that, is where he should bat. Honestly, he's probably our only shot at having a significant long-term asset on this offense until Rizzo or Jackson shows up. As for the prototypical No. 2, I think Sandberg is a solid example. I guess I felt like the ideal No. 2 is the hitter who could or would do anything that needed to be accomplished in the plate appearance - swing for contact, swing for power, hit situationally, move runners, sacrifice, work the count, and ultimately have a high OBP, preferably a high BA, solid ISO, and excellent K:BB rates.

I would think that leadoff would be a good place to help Castro work on seeing more patience. I would think at #3 he'll feel more pressure to drive in baserunners that are on in front of him, which may result in a slightly hack-ier approach. Seems like we would all hope that he his destined to bat somewhere between 1-3 during the prime of his career, probably #2 if the Cubs can get themselves a decent slugger or maybe #3 if Castro himself develops consistent 20+HR power.

If Barney bats 2nd, I'm done with Sveum before he even started.

This lineup is awful top to bottom. Of the available options, Barney isn't a terrible option, but I probably would have selected Soto instead.

Barney has everything you want in a # 2 batter except a willingness to take walks. If he improves a lot in this area, he will make a very good # 2 hitter. If he doesn't improve very much in this area, he is likely to be riding the bench, watching Cardenas play and bat second.

I doubt that unless Cardenas goes on some crazy hot streak, the defense isn't there to be a regular. Doubtful Barney learns to take pitches.

It was my understanding that Cardenas was a decent defensive second baseman. Have you seen scouting reports that say differently?

fringe to bad, supposedly...only know what i've read. kevin goldstein doesn't seem to like his glove at all.

http://www.thecubreporter.com/2012/02/06/curi... all over the article and comments

Barney has everything you want in a # 2 batter except a willingness to take walks. Well, that, and the ability to hit.

I think Barney has everything you want in an 8/9 hitter. Plenty of suck.

Other than the Rangers, that statement could be applied to every Major League Team - with the bat. Barney's defense is decent enough though.

b.molina (sat out last year) officially retires...and j.zumaya is having TJ surgery.

And then I assume all his injures woes will be behind him.

Bravo CUBSTER. Nice article. Calvin Schiraldi... You had to remind me?

Arizona Phil gets mentioned in the CCO blog:
According to respected observer Arizona Phil, Del Valle throws a moving fastball, a plus breaking ball, and a change-up. He shows exceptional poise and a "nifty" pick-off move. However, there is some dispute over his fastball. While some claim he posted a 98 MPH pitch, others attribute it to a faulty radar gun and/or scoreboard. Whatever the case may be, Del Valle can bring heat and miss bats. The one concern is that at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, he may not be able to have the stamina to remain as a starter.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball... Not sure I am happy to be agreeing with Rogers, but many were saying exactly this point when the trade happened. Unless we get good return for Garza at the trade deadline (a good possibility, I must add), I am still not a fan of the deal. (My main backer on this argument, TRN, is unfortunately no longer with us, so I may be opening a bad window here!)

Meh...so the Cubs gave up a back up OF who hit .240, a back-up catcher whose "power" disappeared last year, a pitcher who can't find the plate, a tweener OF in Guyer, and a pretty good SS prospect that is still a season away for Garza. They gave up too much for Garza in quantity. Lee, Archer and Fuld or Chirinos should have been enough, but let's not gnash our teeth over losing most of those players. I liked Guyer and Lee especially, but the other 3, unless Archer rediscovers his one season of accuracy, I'm not too broken up over.

Looking back, Fuld and the Fuld clone from Tampa were just a change of scenery swap. I don't miss Chirinos or Guyer much - backups on the ML level. Archer has a good chance to be a solid MLB reliever, and Lee could be an exceptional SS. If we could go back in time, I would certainly have kept Lee and Archer, but obviously Hendry thought the team would have a chance at the central. It sure would be nice to have Lee and Archer in the system. Makes me wonder where the farm would rank compared to present. Moving Castro to 2B next year would sure help the defense with Lee at SS.

I think the consensus back then was "Yeah, okay, we got Garza, but the Cubs aren't really contenders, so why make the trade?" That consensus still stands. Heads are still being scratched.

Coming into 2011, if the Cubs expected Dempster to pitch as in 2010, and Zambrano to do so...and to not lose the 4th/5th starters for 2 months...I'm pretty sure they thought that the Cubs could get to 85 wins, and try to get into the playoffs. Again, I don't disagree that the Cubs gave up too much, but Lee and Guyer are the only ones I'd really miss. Chirinos and Fuld are bench players, at best.

Fuld has a more promising career as a writer, than baseball player. But he can be fun to watch.

the point at the time was to try and compete, i.e. the band-aid approach that so many are advocating on here this offseason. But having him for 3 years is kind of nice. I have to agree that with the direction the new front office is taking, they'd probably be better off with some of the prospects now. But Cubs still have Garza for 2 years or can sign him to an extension or trade him before we can fully evaluate if the Cubs got any real value in the deal.

Maybe it's just a case of having a guilty conscience, but... I think the term "band-aid" approach is far too simple and derogatory to describe what I and others have advocated for in the past. To me, a band-aid approach is foolishly throwing money at a weakness, which I don't think anyone is in favor of. What I (and others) have suggested is that the Cubs can begin building now for the future with MLB-ready players. For instance, Prince Fielder would have fit as a player who could improve the club now and in the future. Edwin Jackson may have been that type of player as well (although I'm not completely sold on him). I know I sound like a broken record, but the only point I have been trying to make all off-season is that it is not necessary to sacrifice a season (or more) of the big league club in order to build up the minor leagues. The Cubs could be competitive now AND in the future.

Maybe it's just a case of having a guilty conscience, but... I think the term "sacrifice a season" approach is far too simple and derogatory to describe what I and others have advocated for in the past.

Do tell? Please explain.

People are not proposing that the Cubs sacrifice a season anymore than you are proposing applying a band-aid to their problems. I would instead characterize the discussion as a disagreement over resource allocation, with both sides disagreeing over the weight the team should give to short term and long term assets. Fielder is a good example. I would have been perfectly happy for the Cubs to sign Fielder to a contract so long as the terms were reasonable. That said, I am not unhappy they didn’t sign him and instead traded for Rizzo. The fact that Fielder will likely outperform Rizzo in 2012 doesn’t mean that the Cubs have sacrificed 2012 by trading for Rizzo instead of signing Fielder. Now the money that they saved by not signing Fielder can be used to fill other holes either this off season, in future off seasons, on improvements to the park that will help generate additional income, in the draft, or on international free agents.

9 years, 200M+...fat guy in the NL? you don't see the problem? only the U.S. government and the Yankees can get away with overpaying at that kind of astronomical rate and paying it down later. Cespedes, Darvish and Fielder made some sense for the Cubs this offseason, but minus getting all 3 and then some, hard to see them competing this year. Then once you commit to them, you feel the need to fill some other holes with other FA's that are overpriced and then you don't trade Marshall, etc, etc.

You're looking at this from present day, but the Cubs were out on Fielder long before he signed with Detroit. I agree that his contract was for too many years. I would not have wanted the Cubs to sign him for that long. However, the point I have been making all off season pre-dates Fielder's signing. Theo & Co. admitted that they were never in on either Pujols or Fielder. They had decided to basically give up on the 2012 season at or near the beginning of the off season.

why, because they told LaHair they were never in on those guys? What do you think they should tell him? they're just pumping up his ego. And maybe, oh just maybe, knowing Boras and baseball, they realized pretty quickly that Fielder wasn't coming at a price they were comfortable with, but probably maintained some cursory interest at 5-6 years. They may have even struck a deal with Boras that if you're sure to make Pena decline arbitration, you can use our name as a bargaining chip for the deal you want and we'll keep up the facade. I don't get how just adding Fielder is competitive in 2012 either? You seem to think the Cubs would have the pick of the litter of just the good, young free agents. Obviously other teams are going to compete for those guys and overpaying is still overpaying and generally a bad idea unless you really are close to a WS caliber team. Surely you know they would need more than Fielder to compete in 2012 and that means probably overpaying for the likes of Ramirez or Beltran (band-aids) or some starting pitching. I think they decided early on, they weren't going to overpay for past performance. Besides Cespedes, I can't imagine any deal this offseason that ended up making a lot of sense for the Cubs. And Cespedes is no sure thing of course, he could pull a Fukudome. Also the A's were allegedly the only team offering a job right out of spring training w/o a trip to the minors and willing to go 4 years rather than 6.

I have to agree with Rob here. Fielder, Cespedes, and Darvish were the only potentially star quality players in an age range appropriate to what the Cubs should be looking for in long-term contracts. Meanwhile, Cespedes and Darvish have never played in the U.S. and may turn out to be (as Rob G. noted) Fukudome and Dice K. redux, and Fielder at 9 years would have been absurd for an NL team. Edwin Jackson would've made some sense as 3rd piece to go along with a couple of elite acquisitions, but would you really want to give Edwin Jackson a long-term contract? They didn't like the return on the investments required for the free agents and they didn't have an enormous farm system to deal from. There wasn't any way to turn this around quickly and build for the long term. That said, time will tell whether they are successfully building up the franchise.

I agree. sometimes the best transaction you can make is not to make one.

Wscr spoke w Rudy Jallimiro and he said "Rizzo is ready now formlb" Grain of salt

speaking of, apparently crushed one in BP... 475 to dead center.

off of Red baron?

says the tweet, don't think Sutcliffe was trying to fool him though, just BP.

Is that long enough to have hit the scoreboard in Chicago?

Let me see him do this in April, with the wind blowing in, or even neutral, off ML pitching.

Hopefully they teach him to hit HR to left center, only cub to understand this was Jim Edmonds.

Kerry Wood just hit Starlin Castro in the wrist during live batting practice...

Nice to see Kerry Wood is in midseason form.

And all reports to this point are that Castro is fine.

Carrie Muskat ‏ @CarrieMuskat Reply Retweet Favorite · Open Castro is defintely fine. He just hit ball off RF fence off Marmol. #Cubs

Len Kasper ‏ @LenKasper Reply Retweet Favorite · Open They got it right. The Artist was by far the best film of the year.

God forbid Len have an opinion on something other than baseball.

God forbid if he's gay. Imagine the scandal... and good riddance navigator. I have no tolerance for homophobes.

Thank you. Neither do I.

i have no patients for homonyms, myself. (yes, technically a heterograph...but work with me on this one language nerds).

Yeah! Huh?

3+ years, signed through 2015. guess he's comfortable not getting a chance to start.

maybe they will give him a chance to start, total deal is worth 16.5M for 3 years. Steep for a set-up man. Could be a closer candidate too. https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1742... yup, I spoke too soon Interesting aspect to Marshall extension: $2M in performance bonuses each year. Half for games finished, half for games started.

That seems like a fair price as long as he continues to be one of the league's premiere left-handed relievers. Bobby Howry says hi.

that's a terrible price for a set-up man, but if he moves to closer or starter, it becomes a real good deal.

Your use of terms like closer and set-up man are obfuscating the value of dominating relief pitchers who can be employed in high-leverage situations to save games, whether or not they are actually credited with a statistic for doing so. GMs know this, and closers' agents are fighting it, but gradually, MLB payrolls are increasingly reflecting this. Sean Marshall is absolutely worth 60% of Heath Bell over the next three years.

fair point, and you did say if he continues... I guess I'm not 100% sure he will and if he does, they'll probably move him to closer.

Enter the Dusty...

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospect... W. Castillo, D. Maples and T. McNutt others that received votes puts Javier Baez (#61) on top of list of guys that could move up substantially next year. The best pure high school hitter in the 2011 draft has tremendous bat speed and a chance to hit for big average and power. He may not stay at shortstop, but his bat will play anywhere.

Y. Molina 5 year extension, ranging between 60 to 75M depending on the report. We'll know soon enough. Salvador Perez of Royals signs 5/7M deal with 3 club options.

salvador perez...dat arm...dat glove. great signing for a small market team. shame he doesn't have more power.

what Trout, M. Moore or Harper would get if they were FA's like Darvish. Goldstein calls a bunch of execs... http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php... Average and Best Offer Moore: (A)6/83 - (B)8/144 Trout: (A)8/102 - (B)8/120 Harper: (A) 8/113 - (B) 8/150 “Based on our organizational assessments, all three would be ahead of Darvish and Cespedes.

i know trout is a high-end prospect and plays CF and etc...but i still don't get the love for the guy on the level he has. i don't understand the high-end love...guy reminds me a ton of darrin erstad, really (the young/good one). it's not like i think the kid won't have a good carrer with all-star-like numbers, but a lot of people lump him with the cream of the crop for a couple years now. last year people were in love with him and this year the love hasn't faded even though the power isn't showing up (yes, playing over his head). he's a true 5-tool player, but i'm not a fan of his stroke leading to power.

I think Goldstein's point is that either the foreign players are way over valued, or that the MLB teams are damn lucky to be able to get players at such a low cost, initially, through the draft.

yeah, i was just fishing for other people's opinions of trout. people love...LOVE...his "gary sheffield lite" batting style (way less swagger in the bat). i know it's almost impossible to project a guy with good contact skills like his playing over his head at 19...i just don't know how much leeway they're giving the guy because he plays a "rare" position vs. how much is actually in his bat.

I watched him play a few times in Double A last season. His athletic ability is very apparent, but I never saw him do anything of any significance. Me and Trout do share the same birthday, though. So there's that.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php... Brewers at 3B; 3.9 WARP improvement of McGehee to Ramirez. Now figure out the loss from Fielder to Gamel?

Did anyone hear the full interview of Jed Hoyer talking about how the Cubs in their current state are not ready for "Big Game Hunting" [FA's] yet, and need to develop a better foundation? I mean I know its obvious, but why not just come out and tell the fans the "R" word? This is just a pile of shit it looks like, they they have assembled.

Listening to Kenny Williams on WSCR today and this TheoJed-speak, I've come to the conclusion they must all have a clause in their incentive/MBO's that using the 'R' word significantly decreases that yearly payout.


That is an appropriate word. Not what I was alluding to - but appropriate.

damn near killed em.

I still think (hope?) they aren't done yet. Byrd, for example, is a waste of space. If they are really rebuilding, bring up Jackson and throw him to the wolves. I'm sure the fact they haven't gotten any worthwhile offers for Byrd has something to do with it.

Obviously, teams aren't scrambling to give up a prospect to pay $6.5M for one year of Byrd, especially after his post-beaning performance last year. Now consider the end of July. With only 55-60 games left, he only costs $2.5M or so. And with 5-12 teams realizing they're in a position to eek into the playoffs, there are likely to be at least 2 suitors. So maybe teams will cough up a B prospect for Byrd's services at that point. First things first, he has to show he's over whatever was messing him up after he got beaned.

Byrd came back in July and had a pretty good month, so who's to say his shitty August/Septembe was beaning related.

I don't think he's worth keeping around to catch on to a B prospect in late July and hold up Jackson. Byrd might be ok if he was on a contender, but he's a waste of a uniform on a team like this one that has no chance to win the division.

Doesn't waiting a couple of months delay Jackson's free agent clock?

If he's ready, he's ready. Are we now the small market Rays?

2-3 months isn't going to make or break this season and Jackson still has some stuff to work on. Just cause you're a big market, doesn't mean you can't take advantage of small market tactics. Save on the arbitration and free agent clock and see if Jackson can cutdown the strikeouts.

Also, as noted above, 2-3 months might improve Byrd's trade value. Win-Win.

Might....coulda... If Jackson does anything this spring, I'd still rather see him in CF, with Byrd playing all 3 positions occasionally. Meh..fine...whatever.

I was glad to hear that, among other things, this management team put little to no weight on spring training results.

Sure...again...cool. Great. GO MARLON BYRD!! WOOT!

Why does it have to be so black and white? Don't rush Jackson .... therefore, woot Byrd? The guy only has like 210 plate appearances at AAA. He OPS'd pretty well in that timeframe, but his K rate was higher than his minor league average, and his BB rate was lower. So let him chill there for 2 months, play every day, master the level, and guess what? We save a year on the arb clock. Look at Rizzo. He had even gaudier AAA numbers in even more PAs, and he still belly-flopped in SD last season. From what I understand, there's a big jump between AA and AAA pitching, so let Jackson see the league a couple more times and learn to adjust to hitting those better guys.

". From what I understand, there's a big jump between AA and AAA pitching" I always thougth AA had the better pitching more consistently through season, and AAA was more of a holding pen before they were brought up. \I could be wrong.

there's probably more talent in AA, but unrefined. AAA certainly has more major league rejects, so the bite on their slider may not be as good, but they may have a better idea how to use it and where to throw it. That being said, there were plenty of good pitchers in the PCL last year. although telling that out of the top 20 prospects in the PCL, only 4 were pitchers; Mike Montogomery, Martin Perez, Jordan Lyles, Rex Brothers, http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospect... I'd still take AAA numbers over AA, although certainly players have been able to make the leap from AA to majors.

Rizzo was also playing in a bandbox stadium with a rock hard infield. Jackson was smoking the ball in AA before hurting his hand. He'll have to adjust to MLB pitching anyway, regardless if he starts in AAA, or in Chicago. I know I'm in the minority opinion..so fine. The Cubs are punting the season anyway, so I "get" the arb clock BS. But if he's a better option in CF, I don't get "saving" the 150-200 PA's. This is a team shooting for 2013-2014. I'd rather see him work through some issues now, rather than then.

so I "get" the arb clock BS ----- I don't think you do. There's no reason to waste a year of service time when he has work to do in the minors still.

No, I do. This is also the Cubs top prospect, who has had 3 seasons in the minors. If he starts the season, in the minors...fine. But don't expect me to do cartwheels over it. He's going to have to adjust to MLB pitching too, i'd just rather it was this year rather than next. I really am not worried about the Cubs 2018. I'm hoping that Jackson can be the Cubs CF from 2012-2022.

I believe Theo at some point in the offseason said something to the effect that he wants his prospects ready to go in the majors once they're called up. So expect guys to be held down a little longer than what the masses are crying for...

Pile of shit has nothing to do with rebuilding though. They had a pile of shit last year and they weren't rebuilding. I'm sure they also don't use the rebuilding word because people freak out on them then.

Has anyone heard why Concepcion hasnt signed by now?

I presume he hasn't taken his physical yet. but no haven't heard anything...

http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/cubs-talk/post... working on his farm, allegedly in better shape.

Recent comments

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  • First.Pitch.120 4 hours 13 min ago (view)

    Cotton McKnight: In 23 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has actually blindfolded himself.

    Pepper Brooks: He will not be able to see very well, Cotton. 


  • First.Pitch.120 4 hours 15 min ago (view)

    Yes! Exactly... I'd love to be able to watch coverages in football or just key-in on a great WR to watch them work.


  • First.Pitch.120 4 hours 17 min ago (view)

    Wow... this is the most engagement I have ever received on any topic on social media platform. Please stay tuned for my opinions on the Oxford Comma, the APA Style Manual for Academic Writing, and the auto-correct on my iPhone.  

    I am an awesome guy at parties.... 


  • bradsbeard 14 hours 41 min ago (view)

    I watched some of the Puerto Rican Winter League games that Miguel Amaya played in this winter. At least one broadcast had a super wide shot for balls in play that let you see the OF and the baserunners at the same time. It was awesome. 


  • Wrigley Rat 17 hours 47 min ago (view)

    3 dots on this evening's Cubs-Dodgers game - makes sense & they do color in the 3rd dot as they're going to commericals (Spectrum Sportsnet).


  • crunch 20 hours 1 min ago (view)

    3 dot crew represent.  i didn't have an opinion, but now i'm 100% on board.


  • Charlie 20 hours 8 min ago (view)

    I agree on most of this, but I especially support three fillable dots for the outs--and fill in the third before cutting to a commercial!

    Not doing homework on the players in a Spring Training broadcast is pretty forgiveable, but ESPN is really bad about it pretty much all year. It would be nice if they made a habit of picking up a local color commentator and sort of interviewing them throughout games.


  • George Altman 1 day 12 min ago (view)

    The single thing I want in a sports broadcast is to become smarter about the sport,  to learn something from the broadcast crew.

    Stone does that, Romo does that, Eddie O on hockey, and that's about it. I watch sporting events with the sound down very low or off. I forgot more about baseball than most broadcasters will ever know, and I'm always shocked when I see something in a football game that the crew doesn't,  and I know about NOTHING about football. 


  • First.Pitch.120 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    Also... what is with only having 2 dots as the outs counter? I know that you don't really need the 3rd dot, but I find it counter-intuitive. If the dots fill in, then only having 2 throws me off b/c it's natural to subitize "3" associated with outs. You quickly see 0/3, 1/3, 2/3.  If the graphic does not have fill-in dots, then just put the #.  eg - OUTS: 1  It's minimalism for the sake of minimalism, not graphic design for effective communication.


  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    tight shots + insane amount of screen real estate being taken up with graphics is a bit of a plague...especially the ones with a non-stop bottom news ticker.


  • First.Pitch.120 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    General comment on baseball broadcasting... I think that the color comentator (CC) needs to talk about 30% more & the PBP about 30% less. I would love a more stream of consciousness from the CC outlining what they would be looking for in a given situation. To that end, why not have 2 CC for national broadcasts - one a pitcher & one a position player. Would love for them to banter back & forth on micro strategy from their perspectives. I think this would turn the game's pauses between action into more of an asset.


  • crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    brews sign j.bradley 2/24m...decent deal for a quality CF'r.  he can opt out of the 2nd year.


  • crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    the national broadcasts on ESPN suffer badly from a lack of "homework" on the teams they're covering.

    yesterday i heard more riffing between the announcers about each other more than the players.  the only thing that saved them from more of that and dead air was in-progress action and player interviews (too many player interviews, but it's spring so whatever).


  • Hagsag 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    Not impressed with ESPN's broadcast. I like Mendoza's work, but how many kids did we have to see rolling around the grass. Good day to see some young players ,but half the time you had no idea who was batting or pitching.


  • crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    cubs game totally not a delay broadcast for ESPN...thanks for that gem heyward.

    dunno if they'll be printing up any "You better have your shit in line" t-shirts, but it's as least as good as "Try not to suck"


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    Jason Adam is another who throws short arm. I don't think he was a position player, but maybe falls into the arm injury category?