We're finding out that there is no Santa.

When I came up with this little animated gif, I was actually gagging on Cubs Depression after reading MLBTR's "Complete and Total Rebuild" post.
But I got over it.
The gif is supposed to illustrate what our Cub brains have been fed in the past off-seasons...
A Box 'o Rocks wrapped in something shiny (thanks Crunch) like: "The Three C's: Castro, Cashner & Colvin!" or "Getting Left Handed Will Get Us To The Series!"
(Okay, maybe nothing shiny about the "Left Handed" thing, but you know what I mean.)

This off season is SO different.
No one from the Cubs front office is saying, "2012 is gonna be AWESOME!"
It's full-on rebuilding, the wrapping paper is made of cellophane, and the language is based on words like "assets".

It's both refreshing and also kinda like when you first heard an older kid say, "There is no Santa you moron."

Is next summer gonna be awful?
Maybe, but keep your sights on the future and it won't be so bad.
I know that's a joke to a Cubs Fan, but there you go.

Happy Holidays.


Huh? Merry Christmas everyone. Signed, Virginia

Barry Rozner was on WSCR yesterday and IMHO had a very accurate take on what Hoyer/Epstein are doing. This is a 'full-on' rebuilding of the Cubs organization. They are looking at all their players (minors and MLB roster) and determining who THEY believe will be contributors to a Cubs championship team 3-4 years from now. It is VERY likely Marmol, Soto, and Byrd will be next, and they are obviously gauging the value of Garza as well. Rozner believes they would be prudent in listening to what teams would offer now for Castro, not that he would be in favor of trading him. It's probably a fair statement to say almost any recent Cubs 'prospect' (e.g. Vitters, McNutt, BJax, etc.) is also in play. I may have a different take on this from some of you, but I have no real problem with this. I've watched this team since the Leo Durocher era that were supposed to contend lose 85-90 games. So, I CAN wait 3-4 years to see what Epstein does versus all the previous regimes. For once, I'd like to see this done the 'right' way. I'm not 100% positive Epstein's whiz kids will do this, but I've watched a lot of bad (Hendry, Lynch, McPhail, Frey, etc.) fail at this. I don't care about 'contending' for the NL Central. I only care about a team definitely contending for the World Championship year after year. I also wouldn't be surprised at all to see Soriano and Zambrano dumped in ST if Epstein finds no takers unless Sveum decides he really wants them on his 25-man roster.

I think this process should've been undertaken years ago and am glad someone has finally committed to doing it the right way. Also, Mer-py Chris-mukkah, everyone.

This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. I just can't understand how anyone can be content giving a season or two away to rebuild. And it's not like we're even guaranteed to win in 3-4 years either. I still feel with the changes to the Cardinals and Brewers, we eye closer to contending than everyone else feels. We were nearly 20 games under with the 4-5 starters last year. Fix that and you are a .500 team right there. Instead, we are shedding salary, which continues to make me wonder about Ricketts true finances for this team.

How do you think a couple of us here who are STH feel? I don't want to wait either, but I also know that the new management team, and owner, stepped into a big pile of shit that needs cleaning up. Also, though, it would be great as HoyStein has stated, that he wants the Cubs in the hunt every year (like the Cardinals). The Cards were fucking lucky to get Pujols, but their organization, from top to bottom has kicked our asses since about 1950. We owned the first half of the Century, but I wasn't alive then. All I have known is failure and ineptitude when it comes to this team. They had a nice little window getting into the Playoffs three times, but it got shut quickly and there was no after plan. Nothing to build on except an idiot GM and his minions. I thought hiring Tim Wilken was a step in the right direction at least, but from what I have read over time, it was obvious that the Cubs resources paled in comparison to the top comoetitors when it came to scouting, analysis, coaching, etc. So, I figure I at LEAST am seeing a discernable plan with HoyStein, and will cut them some slack for a little while, at least.

My concern is that this whole thing is an expectations reset from Ricketts. One where we go from expecting him to pay 130-150 in salary to accepting 80-100 annually. Reeks of Frank McCourt ownership.

Am I the only one who was deflated by the news that Rickass had AT LEAST $20 million burning a hole in his pocket this year and he didn't spend a nickel of it to improve his shitty team or equally shitty park, instead he used it to buy McDonalds. Merry Christmas

Do you realize how short-sighted this outlook is? By purchasing the real estate that McDonald's sits on, Ricketts can develop the property and generate revenue for years and years to come -- far more revenue than a $20 million free agent will generate, even Fielder. One of the reason's Boston's payroll is so high is that the owners bought and developed property around Fenway, and then they turned the revenue that property generated into additional financing for the team. The Cubs' plan makes sense, though it's obviously not for the impatient. But I like it.

I agree it was a good purchase; but you can't spend that money and then not spend on the team claiming there's no money available. The two should be separate.

i'm still trying to figure out how much is ricketts...and how much is it theo-corp's desire to put their own fingerprints on the team, time be dammed. either way, it'd be nice to see them use some of the 10s of millions they have...if they have it.

I think Rozner and Kaplan are projecting their own panic onto Cub management. A better argument could be made, I think, that the Cubs are trying to win more games in 2012 by improving at every position. The Marshall trade is a slight exception, but the fact is the Cubs are very strong (if a bit unproven) at lefty reliever. It may sound crazy to say that Stewart is an improvement over Ramirez, but I believe that 3B is a key defensive position, and I would have to see Stewart use his glove for a while before declaring, "advantage Ramirez." DeJesus is certainly an improvement over Fukudome, who I guess is still waiting for someone to invite him to ST. Fielder is an improvement over Pena, and so, for that matter, probably, is LaHair. Byrd and Soto actually look like they might be Epstein's type player. They might come up a little short talent-wise, but they're the right type, and could find a place on an Epstein roster. Soto does well in OBP and very well in pitches/PA, which we know Epstein looks at. They haven't traded Garza yet, though they probably will. If they do, it will be interesting to see whether they get two pitchers who start at the major-league level in 2012, in which case you could say they improved their rotation. Where's the blow-up? Rozner would like to entertain offers for Castro. Why? Because he wore a Cub uniform last year?

IF they get Fielder, your argument can be made. But as it stands, we have dumped 50hrs and 175 RBIs and haven't come close to replacing it. At this point, we have a bunch of "ifs".

I'd feel better if it sounded like Fielder was even an option. It sounds like they aren't even going to make a real offer to him.

take a look at the 2012 offseason FA market...it won't make anyone feel any better unless an injury prone early-30s josh hamilton patrolling RF/LF sounds awesome. at least there's pitching...which is handy. matt cain in 2013...woo.

>>Fielder is an improvement over Pena, and so, for that matter, probably, is LaHair.<< That's probably a bit of a stretch re: LaHair. There's nothing wrong with the 123 OPS+ and solid defense that Pena gave the Cubs in 2011. Granted, I'm not sorry to turn the page one bit, but Pena is/was no stiff.

From Wittenmyer: Epstein said the Cubs aren’t done pursuing starters. They’ve talked with lefties Paul Maholm and Jeff Francis. They also have an agreement with rehabbed reliever Manny Corpas and have had at least low-level contact with Brad Lidge. http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

"Epstein said the Cubs aren’t done pursuing starters. They’ve talked with lefties Paul Maholm and Jeff Francis." sounds like a contradiction to me. sean estes busy or something? actually, i wouldnt mind maholm for the right price...meh.

Thought Brad Lidge's career was over due to shoulder and elbow injuries. 19 IP in 2011, only 45 IP in 2010. Is Chad Fox his agent? Does any contract he sign's include unlimited access to duct tape? Brad Lidge has both Chicago roots and Orthopedic roots (outside of all the ortho surgery he's had)...specifically, his wife is from Winnetka; His father grew up in Arlington Hts. His grandfather was a world renown Orthopedic Surgeon (Dr. Ralph Lidge) known as a pioneer in sports medicine.
Ralph Lidge Jr., Brad's father, grew up in Arlington Heights and was an athlete at Arlington High School in the late 1960s. His grandfather, Dr. Ralph Lidge Sr., helped found Northwest Community Hospital and settled in Barrington.
from the Tribune, 2005... http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-10-22...

I don't have a problem with what is happening on the mound. As we've said, the 4/5 slots killed us last year, so depth will help. My issue is this team offensively will rival that of the Nationals from a few years back.

If Lidge is even remotely healthy, that would certainly make it easier to move Marmol with no regrets.

"We've dumped 50 home runs and 175 RBI's..." When were those homers hit? in August? Horse races are won out of the gate. I don't see rebuilding for rebuilding's sake. There is a lot on the table yet, 4 months to go and so far nothing but hungry guys added. Frankly, I'm happy that when Brenley says, "Ramiress isn't hustling," it'll be about some other team. I'm happy this will not be another year of, Castro in the dog house if he commits a mental mistake but Soriano is still in left field no matter what, do-do. Every team every year must be an experiment to a certain extent and I can't wait to see how the McDonalds property becomes part of it. Tribune:gone, Hendree: gone, Aram:gone, "You don't want to play hard every game, every AB, every defensive try?" : you. are. gone! Byrd deserves to stay. He got hit same place Santo did and there is no cause to diss him. And, just my opine...if I was going after Prince, I would not tell anyone, NO ONE anything until the deal was done. Tickets aren't for sale yet, and there's no need to tip your hand, or get advice from the Chi-town media. That being said, I don't get the sense that they are counting out ANY season, including 2012. Cubs-Angels series clash would be magic, and gain the revenue needed to rebuild the building called Wrigley Field. Who needs Santa when there's hard work to be done. signed...Sweat Equity

what soriano does has nothing to do with what castro does...meh... castro can still be molded into something. soriano is soriano. he knows he Ks a ton and sucks in LF...he rarely shows frustrated emotion about it at this point for many years. no manager is cutting through that with public or private criticism, though it's been proven in the past soriano is best dealt with in private...because he throws fits when you bring it out in the public. also, it'd be nice if they'd find a power anchor somewhere...consistent hitting power anchor...not another "soriano"

"what soriano does has nothing to do with what castro does...meh.." specifically, true, Crunch...until this season coming up. I wasn't referring of course to who these guys are but how they are/were treated. Was Sori's lack of defense a sore spot with Z? Anyone? Q'nella didn't seem to care one way or the other. Sori on the bench should not hurt the quality on the field. If Swaim treats Sori as usual, as you say, 'Sori is Sori,' so 'meh' - well, I don't think the new regime wants 8/9ths of a team out there at any time, even if you are a back up left fielder. We shall see...

i don't see what soriano does as mental lapses as much as him just being bad. there's not much to yell at him about except busting his ass a little more chasing after a ball. he's had multiple managers not call him on it publicly or punish him with too much playing time taken away, but maybe this one will. he's also really used to being bad...K'ing a ton...it's like the seemingly self-shame/disappointment of it all would still sting, but he's had a lot of practice looking on the "bright side" of his career (power). the last thing he's had to deal with (besides being dropped to 5+ in the lineup regularly) that would be a blow to his game is his legs not being the 30-40sb legs he had in his 20s. he's gotta be used to that by now, too. at least he's not bitter, but watching a guy smile after he Ks isn't fun 120 times a season.

True dat. Which makes him a perfect candidate for the new way of doing managing: gone! He's a DH at best and hopefully will be with another team. It's not an easy thing to do, but unless he reports in great shape he will not possibly help the team.

Wrongway's weekly whispers column is up...and he's working on a cocktail napkin 3 way deal:
The Nationals' trade for Gio Gonzalez leaves Matt Garza as the most attractive pitcher believed to be available. The Cubs could find themselves in a great situation with the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays trying to get him. Keep your eye on a three-team deal in which one of those teams uses the Padres to broker a move that sends first baseman Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. …

One thing Hendry and McPhail never had was a coherent plan other than drafting football players and athletes who could not play baseball. They never drafted well, they never fully committed to free agency but they were all over salary dump deals to build a team. The Cubs have never built from the farm system in my years of watching the Cubs. They have just relied on the fact that its the Chicago Cubs and people are lining up to play for a shitty team. Its an over-inflated view of reality, much like people who think we actually have good prospects in our farm system. I don't really like the fact that we punted on Pujols and probably on Fielder. Talent like that doesn't come around often and when it does make the move regardless of the situation. But i understand the direction Theo wants to go, he wants to try something the Cubs just never do. And its something i want the Cubs to do, and have wanted to Cubs to do for geeez the last 15 years at the very least. Right now the Cubs have some of the best talent evaluators in baseball at key spots. They dwarf anything Hendry and McPhail ever put together and it could be said those 2 relied more on their own egos to build teams rather than the people they hired. Yeah it sucks, i want to win now, but if were gonna do an honest rebuilding lets honestly do it by getting the most talent for our current talent and drafting well. Once we restock the farm it will be able to produce talent, and acquire talent at will. And we wont be like KC who has to sell off talent because we can't afford it. That is an exciting direction to take, and ya it won't be much fun for a bit, but its a freaking plan, and its damn good plan. Just remember guys we lost 91 games with a 120 million dollar payroll with a bunch of old stiffs and no farm system. We can lose 91+ games next year going down the same path or we can lose 91+ games rebuilding our organization.

Boston's Nick Cafardo's sunday article includes starting pitcher trade speculation, with Garza ranked as #1 best available and Dempster at #9. Seems a steep drop off since Wandy Rod is #2. Marmol is ranked #4 for reliever available options (after Madson, Bailey and Thornton, Lidge is #9).
1. Matt Garza, Cubs - The next “prize.’’ Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have to feel that Garza is the best available pitcher out there, so the return must be at least what the A’s got for Gonzalez. They have three options: status quo, sign him to a John Danks-type multiyear deal, or trade him for a boatload of much-needed prospects. We get the feeling Epstein will deal him, and teams such as the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and perhaps even Orioles would have to be interested. Don’t rule out the Tigers, either. 9. Ryan Dempster, Cubs - The Cubs would love to move the 34-year-old and his $14 million paycheck (or part of it). He has pitched more than 200 innings four straight years but his 4.80 ERA and 1.448 WHIP last season aren’t appealing. 4. Carlos Marmol, Cubs - He is likely to draw interest from teams like the Red Sox.

it's neat how pretty much everyone in the press is expecting this club to be run like they have 50-70m in total payroll. wait, that's not neat.

Sun, 12/25/2011 - 12:50pm — crunch it's neat how pretty much everyone in the press is expecting this club to be run like they have 50-70m in total payroll. wait, that's not neat. ============================ CRUNCH: With about $50M in payroll coming off the books post-2012, the Cubs MLB payroll could get down to the $70-80M range by the 2013 season. Couple that with the limits on bonuses for international free-agents and players selected in the First-Year-Player Draft in the new CBA that will provide a ready-made excuse for not spending money on the farm system, and the Ricketts Family should make a substantial profit by 2013. Most Cub fans won't care if the team wins or loses, as long as the players hustle and show grit, and the Wrigley Experience is fun.

Cafardo's list of hitters goes by position. Of note:
Coco Crisp, free agent - His injury past hurts his value, but he’s still fast, has more power, and is a very good outfielder. The Cubs have some interest. He would seem a fit for the Nationals or Rangers. Anthony Rizzo, Padres - With Yonder Alonso on board (part of the Latos deal), Rizzo is suddenly expendable. He had a tough time in the big leagues last season, with 46 strikeouts in 128 at-bats and just a .141 average after a monster year at Triple A Tucson. The Cubs, Rays, Astros, and Pirates would have interest. Carlos Pena, free agent - He can still hit some bombs and play defense. He swings and misses too much, and the Cubs have been lukewarm on re-signing him. A possible return to Tampa Bay? Jason Varitek, free agent - It doesn’t appear that he’ll have a role with the Red Sox unless he accepts a minor league invitation. The Cubs and Astros may have interest.
...also minimal mentions for Theriot and DLee

and some final Cafardo comments on the Cubs...
Sean Marshall, LHP, Reds - It’s been written here for weeks that the Cubs aren’t going after big-name free agents, and the trading of Marshall, one of the premier lefties out there, to the Reds for 24-year-old lefty Travis Wood and others shows that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are building this from the ground up. Ben Cherington, GM, Red Sox - To clarify what seems to be a misperception: The Cubs agreed not to purge the Sox staff of major talent for three years, but the actual Epstein compensation - a “significant’’ player - remains on the table. It appears the teams will address the issue after making the bulk of their offseason moves.

Theo should try to convince the Red Sox that sending Cafardo out of Boston (to replace Wrongway?) would be adequate compensation.