There is a Twilight Zone episode from 1963 called "The Parallel." The story goes something like this...
An astronaut (Steve Forrest) blasts-off from Cape Canaveral, and once he is in orbit, his ship disappears from radar. Next scene, the astronaut wakes up in a hospital, and he appears to be OK. Except he notices certain aspects of his life are slightly different. For instance, his best friend (who was a USAF major when he took off) is now a colonel. His house has a white picket fence that it did not have before. And nobody has ever heard of a "President Kennedy." He locates an encyclopedia and finds that certain facts are different from the history that he remembers. And Jim Hendry did not get fired.
In this alternate universe, the 2011 World Series ends with the Texas Rangers victorious (David Frese strikes out swinging in the bottom of the 9th of Game 6), and operating with a 2012 $130M payroll budget, JH goes into the 2011-12 off-season with a plan that is consistent with past off-seasons.
The first thing he does is exercise the $16M 2012 club option on Aramis Ramirez. but A-Ram declines his player option part and is a free-agent. Knowing there are no other viable 3B FA options out there (or in-house waiting in the wings), Hendry offers Ramirez essentially the same deal he eventually got from Milwaukee in the parallel universe: 4/$50M or 3/$36M - $6M (2012), $12M (2013), $14M (2014), and $14M or $4M buy-out (2015). And with the promise that he will sign a FA 1B and RF to upgrade the lineup, Ramirez accepts. Therefore, there is no reason to acquire another third-baseman, so D. J. LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin remain with the Cubs, and Ian Stewart gets non-tendered by COL.
Believing that compensation draft picks are not worth the chance that the player might accept salary arbitration, Carlos Pena is allowed to leave without being offered salary arbitration, so the Cubs will receive no compensation draft picks in the June 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
But that doesn't matter, because JH knows that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are available. and he will sign one of them. Pujols (somewhat surprisingly) decides to go to the Angels, but JH meets Fielder's asking price, giving the slugger a 10/$205M contract that bests the one Pujols got from LAA by $1M.
While JH has a $130M budget in 2012, he knows he will get about $50M in payroll back post-2012 when Zambrano, Dempster, Byrd, Marshall, and Baker are free-agents, and Pena's $5M salary deferred from 2011 and Carlos Silva's $2M 2012 buy-out are off the books, so all FA contracts are back-loaded. Therefore, the Fielder contract is paid this way: $12M (2012) and $27M (2013-21), with player opt-out options (naturally) after the 4th, 6th, and 8th seasons.
Additionally, JH offers Carlos Beltran a year more than he got from the Cardinals in the alternate universe, signing Beltran to a three-year 3/$39M back-loaded deal that somewhat mirrors the Ramirez contract: $6M (2012), $15M (2013), $15M (2014), and $15M or $3M buy-out (2015).
Because Beltran has been signed to play RF, JH has no interest in David DeJesus.
At this point, the Cubs 2012 payroll (including signed players and projected salaries for arbitration-eligibles and auto-renewal players) is about $127M.
The Cubs still need a starting pitcher, so Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt are non-tendered, saving another $2M in 2012 payroll, as Baker and DeWitt are replaced on the 25-man roster by LeMahieu and either Ryan Flaherty or Marwin Gonzalez (who are added to the 40-man roster on 11/18).
With $5M left to spend, JH signs Paul Maholm to a three-year $21M contract ($5M in 2012 and $8M in 2013-14), without having to trade Sean Marshall.
Looking ahead, salary increases in 2013 would include Fielder (+$15M), Ramirez (+$6M), Beltran (+$9M), and Maholm (+$3M), plus arbitration driven increases for Matt Garza (+$3M), Geovany Soto (+$2M), and Starlin Castro (+$2M).
If the payroll budget stays the same in 2013 ($130M), JH would have $10M to spend next off-season. With Dempster and Zambrano free-agents, JH signs Garza to a long-term back-loaded contract extension and a front-line FA starting pitcher (perhaps Zack Greinke) to a back-loaded contract, as JH knows he will pick-up payroll post-2013 (after Soto has left as a FA) and post-2014 (after Soriano, Ramirez, and Beltran are off the books).
"Submitted to you without any recommendations as to belief or disbelief. You can accept or reject. You pays your money and you takes your chances. But credulous or incredulous, don't bother to ask anyone for proof that it could happen. The obligation is reverse challenge. Prove that it couldn't. This happens to be... The Twilight Zone."
Ho! Ho ! Ho! Merry Christmas, everybody!
bradsbeard 1 hour 8 min ago (view)
Not sure if serious, but Theo became the Red Sox GM in 2002. It's true though, there probably aren't many people in the organization besides Ricketts and Crane Kenney who have any strong feelings about that series.
Craig A. 2 hours 7 min ago (view)
I wonder if anyone on the Cubs cares or even remembers the odd events when the Marlins played the Cubs in 2003. I think Theo was in high school. To this old fart it will be more than a little unsettling to watch this post-season match-up. At least we can be fairly certain there will no fans grabbing for foul balls.
bradsbeard 5 hours 35 min ago (view)
Which is kind of annoying. Nobody really picked the Cubs to win this division pre-season. I guess Mattingly gets some credit for guiding the Marlins through their positives but even just letting them play that one game with half the team sick should knock him out of consideration. Meanwhile Ross kept a tight ship and the Cubs has no positives all year. I'd say Ross or Tingler should get it over Mattingly.
crunch 6 hours 52 min ago (view)
cubs finish 34-26 (1st, division)...they play MIA on wednesday.
good start for d.ross, but the manager of the year is most likely going to d.mattingley (MIA) or j.tingler(SD).
crunch 7 hours 28 min ago (view)
...or he won't make it out of the 8th
0.2ip 2h 3bb 1k, 5r/er...2 wild pitches
there's some great stuff in that arm. mid/high-80s slider, "changeup" around 90mph, fastball 97-99mph...all effortless. 21 years old and never pitched above A-ball.
crunch 7 hours 34 min ago (view)
crunch 7 hours 38 min ago (view)
rough debut...doubt we're going to see him in the 9th.
Charlie 7 hours 45 min ago (view)
Reminds me a little of Jeff Samardzija's debut. Adrenaline throwing straight gas but all over the place. Samardzija threw a fastball all the way to the backstop in his debut (2008).
crunch 7 hours 48 min ago (view)
back to back 3-2 count 6-pitch walks.
he's not in the zone. he's throwing almost totally fastballs, too.
crunch 7 hours 49 min ago (view)
alzolay's gotta be locked in for a start given what he's done lately.
i wonder what role j.lester will be given. if he's starting, hopefully he's the 3rd/4th starter, if at all. someone will probably give him a 2021 contract if he doesn't retire...hope it's not the cubs giving that contract, though.
crunch 7 hours 52 min ago (view)
dude's thrown a 97mph and 98mph fastball to start and both looked like he was barely expending effort.
unfortunately, neither were near the plate.
Charlie 7 hours 54 min ago (view)
So, Alzolay gets at least one October start, right? He'd be a weapon out of the pen if the Cubs had more than two believable starters ready.
crunch 7 hours 55 min ago (view)
Q goes 2 effective (2ip 2h 1bb 2k, 0r/er) and here comes b.marquez...
crunch 8 hours 24 min ago (view)
yeah, a.alzolay can keep on throwing that new slider of his...it's been one hell of a thing to watch the past few games. i wonder who taught him (or refined) this quickly effective slider.
the curve is under more control/command, too.
stoked to see b.marquez later this game (assuming he's pitching today as mentioned in an above post).
the cubs producing in-house effective MLB pitching would be nice. alzolay is 2021 ready, but i imagine marquez is more viewed as a 2022 or late 2021 guy.
Charlie 9 hours 16 min ago (view)
I dub this, "The Billy Hamilton Game."
crunch 9 hours 23 min ago (view)
hamilton HR...add that to the "odd stuff in 2020" list...first since 2018.