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!
cubbies.4ever 6 hours 10 sec ago (view)
Still haven't seen/heard if Cubs signed 19th rd Daniel Avitia, the last of the unsigned or declined.
crunch 6 hours 12 min ago (view)
imagine he'll go into indie ball somewhere and hope he doesn't end up like matt harrington.
Sonicwind75 6 hours 37 min ago (view)
So is Kumar going "pro" by taking a KBO contract next season or something like that or does he just work out for a year? Not sure what the rules are for a player in his situation.
Dolorous Jon Lester 9 hours 29 min ago (view)
Good. Suck it Mets
crunch 10 hours 36 min ago (view)
mets fail to sign k.rocker.
at the time it was considered a hell of a pick when he fell so far (11th pick). he was considered a top-5 pick for most of the year, #1 for a chunk of it. his medicals (elbow) gave the mets pause offering him slot value. his agent, boras, says he's healthy.
he will not return to vandy and will go "pro"...he returns to the draft next year and the mets get a compensation 11th pick in round 1 next season.
crunch 11 hours 15 min ago (view)
rizzo, baez, and bryant all homered in their 1st game with their new team.
Dolorous Jon Lester 11 hours 48 min ago (view)
Winning very much to a backseat to profits. I would imagine it always kinda was that way, but it became very obvious after the title. I think when ownership saw Darvish struggle year one, that was that, no more free agent spending. And never adjusted after it became clear Darvish was back starting midway through year two.
Charlie 11 hours 59 min ago (view)
Ownership absolutely decided sometime after 2016 that fans owed them and not the other way atound.
Dolorous Jon Lester 12 hours 7 min ago (view)
To be fair they also did a good job bringing in talent to the system that they were able to use to make trades. And a few solid signings such as Lester and Zobrist.
I think part of it was the hunger mostly vanished after the title and things needed to be switched up to kick people in the ass a tad. Add a level of being hamstrung by Heyward deal, no one coming up to replace the lost farm system talent or aging players, no one but Rizzo and Hendricks signing extensions, and here we are
crunch 12 hours 9 min ago (view)
HUGE standing O for bryant. they're loving it.
Cubster 12 hours 34 min ago (view)
The Chicago Ortegas
crunch 12 hours 34 min ago (view)
who though we'd have "the ortega game" today? alright, then.
Cubster 12 hours 58 min ago (view)
Rizzo leading off for Yanks today
crunch 12 hours 59 min ago (view)
the cubs had years of 1st round picks gained by tanking do well and they got very lucky with the arrietta/strop trade. strop is especially underappreciated in that trade. theo obviously wanted rizzo badly, and made the right call there. hendricks was a complex back/forth trade because of player injuries, but at the end of the day the cubs wanted hendricks and they made the right call there, too.
aside from that, it looks a lot like it's been for decades.
Cubster 13 hours 47 min ago (view)
Every championship season is sacred (except 2021).
Dolorous Jon Lester 13 hours 51 min ago (view)
He's looking kinda gassed. I think we've got to be coming up on his innings limit