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!
BobbyD 2 hours 41 min ago (view)
Cubster: I agree with your comments, save one. That the president is "leading" America. He couldn't lead a pack of rats to a NYC dumpster on an August afternoon. The "man" is a f'ing disgrace.
crunch 4 hours 59 min ago (view)
though the team cheaped out on this offseason (still an overall top-tier payroll), i was at least looking forward to seeing the beginning of the david ross era...and who was going to win the 2nd base job...
nothing about 2020 baseball feels legit anymore. just hearing the players talk about it, you'd think they were organizing a casual pickup game for charity at an inconvient time and place...doesn't seem like they're really stoked about it.
Cubster 6 hours 8 min ago (view)
June 1st is a week from tomorrow. Given 5 weeks of spring training before starting (July 4th?), the season is on the brink of going bye-bye. It's bad enough in 2020 to be losing prime career years for Javy Baez and Kris Bryant, let alone Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks, and Willson Contreras. If one of them gets coronavirus, loses lung capacity, and alters their career arc, Cub fans will for a long time have a bitter taste in their mouths. All for, at best, a bizarre half-season without fans watching in the ballparks.
Alexander Dimm 11 hours 17 min ago (view)
HAGSAG: I've been following this all spring and I fully agree. Let's not risk the health of these ballplayers. Let's plan for 2021 an be done with 2020. I know that whole game will be changed next year but it's already morphing now. Just start with a clean slate. I don't want scientists watching baseball when they should be working on a vaccine.
Hagsag 15 hours 55 min ago (view)
I love baseball as much as anyone, but I cant see this working. Put the 2020 season on the shelf and plan for 2021.
crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
i still don't understand how any of this retains momentum if a team has an outbreak...
it seems like that would put a pause on things not only effecting the team with the outbreak, but the schedule and future opponents...and past opponents who recently played the team with an outbreak...
if it gets started, hopefully it can roll to end without going off the rails. it all seems so fragile with a lot of moving pieces.
CubbyBlue 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
I wish I felt better about the possibility of baseball this year. All those details - it just seems like something's not going to work. And to me the worst thing that could happen is they get started and 2 weeks later have to shut it down, then try to start it up again.
Baseball's role this summer is meant to uplift, and that scenario feels soul-crushing.
crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)
add the bjays to the list...
whatever works to get people paid.
crunch 2 days 4 hours ago (view)
"Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Brewers will keep their baseball operations staff intact for all of 2020.
There will be no furloughs and only top executives in the organization will take pay cuts."
2020 has officially crossed the line now...making me like the brewers...
seriously though, it's about time some of these 100s-millionaire to billionaire owners acted like this.
brewers, wsox, cards, and twins have all promised full pay for employees through june+ (and maybe longer when revisited)
crunch 4 days 2 hours ago (view)
the "slow opening" seems to be starting up this weekend and into next week for a variety of clubs...whether it's the ballpark or training facitlies. most all of the player access seems to be limited to those on the 40-man and nothing mandatory.
nothing for the cubs yet (that i've heard about). chicago is still a bit "hot" but AZ is open for sports...
crunch 1 week 6 hours ago (view)
i can't speak for this or all of the US, but my state govt level safety committee reports kinda shape up like this...and this aggregated view stated below is my own...
we're still technically short for how all pieces of the testing scheme interact with each other on whole, but it's catching up and should be rolling smoothly for a task like this (seems to be a dedicated lab for all MLB) by the time the season is proposed to start.
Hagsag 1 week 14 hours ago (view)
They plan on testing 10.000 per week? I thought we were short of tests.
crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)
i would be surprised to see this go start-to-finish without some kind of stupid drama. it's not that covid is gonna kill a gazillion people while they bleed from their eyes or something...it's that it's so easy to pass it others. if you find one guy positive, chances are pretty high he's taking down a handful of others with him even if they're all good to go in a couple weeks and feel fine during that downtime.
Craig A. 1 week 1 day ago (view)
This is going to be full of surprises. Young players who don't feel that bad may be angry that they can't play. A team may loose several players at once. They'll need a taxi squad that doesn't practice with the main team. Even the best plan can't prepare teams for every possibility.
crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)
"Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that MLB plans to process upward of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, according to a draft of the league's health-and-safety manual.
crunch 1 week 2 days ago (view)
some audio from him describing his symptoms...