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!
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 hours 58 min ago (view)
I agree with all of this. I think KB is traded for a SP. I guess here is my guess at the pitchers:
Bullpen: Mills/ Alzolay, Underwood, Adam, Tepera, Wick, Kimbrel, Ryan, Wieck (Alzolay if he loses the 5th spot battle with Mills is still starter number 6, and likely being groomed to join the rotation either later in the year or 2022)
Charlie 14 hours 38 min ago (view)
Frazier beat him on an inside corner two-seamer (albeit belt high), but the Hayes homer came on an 0-2 meatball. Not very professorial.
crunch 14 hours 45 min ago (view)
hendricks starts the game giving up back to back homers. wtf...
crunch 17 hours 13 min ago (view)
happ / rizzo / contreras / schwarber(DH) / maybin(LF) / heyward / baez / kipnis / bote
George Altman 18 hours 30 min ago (view)
Let's hope so. It would be great next year to NOT have to 'piece together a bullpen'.
Arizona Phil 18 hours 51 min ago (view)
DJL: I think that if Lester, Chatwood, Quintana, Jeffress, and Chafin leave via free-agency and do not return or are not replaced by at least one veteran MLB FA SP, the default Cubs 2021 Opening Day pitching staff will be Darvish, Hendricks, Mills (out of options), Alzolay (could be out of options - TBD), and either Rea, T. Miller, Steele, Abbott, Marquez, or D.
Arizona Phil 19 hours 44 min ago (view)
I understand that any team can win a three-game series, but if I'm a division winner I'd want to be the #3 seed rather than the #2 seed in both the A. L. and the N. L., because I would rather face the worst second place team (Houston in the A. L. and probably Miami or Philadelphia in N. L.) than the best wild card team (Cleveland in the A. L. and probably Cincinnati or Milwaukee in the N.L.).
Hagsag 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
Maybe, if he makes the roster!
Charlie 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
Jose Martinez is going to hit some big post season homerun, isn't he?
Cubster 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Is the Chafin experiment over yet?
crunch 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
well that sucked.
even with the loss the cubs officially clinched a playoff slot tonight, though.
crunch 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
oh, it's totally the hitters unless the coach is forcing guys into trying ill advised changes...which is doubtful to the point of obsurdity for this many slumping hitters.
it's just that a near team-wide hitting outage with no one getting "fixed" isn't a good look for a hitting coach.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
How many hitting coaches would that be over the past five years?
At a certain point maybe it's just the hitters? I love the current group but we've been burning through hitting coaches recently
crunch 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
anthony iapoce might want to start updating his resume...
i'm not saying it's his fault, but it doesn't seem like much is going right with the bats and it's getting worse over time.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
I look at the 8 man pen for next year and would assume 6 RHP 2 LHP. The LHP would currently be two of Ryan, Wieck, and Steele (and I guess Osich but I suspect he's non-tendered).
The 6 RHP would be from Kimbrel, Wick, Tepera, Adam, Underwood, Alzolay, Winkler, Rea (and potentially others). I feel like they're only keeping one of Tepera/ Winkler for final arb year. Tough to say which is better value at this point.
crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
im impressed tepera has "only" given up 2hr in 19.2ip, but i wouldn't hold out on that holding up. also, his control is sketchy as ever...
he's got promising stuff, but at age 33 (few weeks from now) what more does he have to learn/show?
it would probably cost the cubs 1.5m or so to keep him around (900K this year). they liked something about him to pick him up, but who knows where that's at now...