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December 2011

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Chet's Corner: Patience Darlin', Patience….

Written by , Posted in General

Imagine you just sat down at your local poker game and were informed that the rules have changed.  Tonight you are not allowed to fold.  Each player must play out his hand, bluffing or playing coy to the very end.  Get a pair of aces off the draw, no problem.  Get a pair of tens…problem.  

Theo Epstein just sat down at this table and he is the guy with the tens.

With little to no farm system and so many holes in the roster it makes Swiss cheese jealous, Theo is limited in what he can truly do.  From the start of the Theo Epstein regime I wondered what direction this team would go in order to improve.  I wondered if they actually had the cojones to intentionally suck for a while, yet build for the future.  It is this writers preference, but many can’t stomach the thought of yet another lost season.  I say, what’s another year?

The previous regime concentrated on putting the best possible product money could buy on the field for the coming year.  Notice, I did not say the best possible product, I said the best possible product money could buy at the that time for the coming year.  Hence, we never got the best product, we as Cubs fans got whatever the free agent market provided the off season before. 

With the recent trade of Sean Marshall I see brilliance at work.  We all loved Sean and his remarkable reliability.  Plus we sort of grew with him, he became a staple out of the pen.  We also loved him because he was relatively cheap.  Let’s be honest, if we paid a lot for Marshall year in and year out we would have wanted more.  However, this is exactly where Sean is headed. 

Marshall is approaching thirty, which in baseball years is the beginning of the end.  My friends and I used to say thirty is the new twenty, but in baseball it is slowly becoming the new forty.   He has a year left on his contract and then he will most likely do what many lefty relievers do, get a free agent deal that makes him titanically over paid. 

*a side note…..I always said if I had boys I would tie their right hand behind their back at birth and make them operate solely with their left.  If you can hump a baseball up to the plate at 77 miles an hour and throw lefty, you will always have a job in the majors and get paid very well.

Theo traded Marshall for a young starter with upside and two minor leaguers.  Bingo, slowly but surely we are a rebuilding team.  Yup, I said rebuilding.   

My expectations would leave me to believe that we will see Soto, Marmol, and maybe even Byrd (if anybody needs him)leave the building.  I wouldn’t draw the line there either.  The remainder of the roster is expendable at this point.  The talk about Garza staying on board is just that….talk.  I think they would trade him in a second if we were getting anything back that was major league ready with prospects sprinkled in. 

Now, I know what you are thinking, Theo said he wants to build around a player like Garza.  He did NOT say build around Garza, he said a player LIKE Garza. 

All that being said, if Garza doesn’t move by the start of spring (and I will be shocked if he doesn’t) then even better.  His trade value to a contender needing a starter will be higher at the all-star break!  That may be the same for Marlon Byrd.  We may actually see more action at the break then before spring if you can imagine that.  One thing is sure, we will be selling until we have a good base below us.   A base that gives us a future. 

Why, might you ask, do I know this will all work out?  

I have no factual basis for my answer other then to say he has done it before, as has Jed Hoyer.  They have done nothing but improve teams.  They leave them in better shape for the future.  This, and of course the fact that the bar has not been set very high.  Would it really be difficult to improve on previous northside regimes?  

Yes, it is funny, but I am typically not one to go the route of blind faith.  For some odd reason, I have this faith in Epstein and company.   The immediate future may hurt a little.  We may lose 100 games in 2012.  We may have to wait for Theo’s magic to set in.  I have this feeling that someday, when his time is done on the northside, we will be in better shape than when he arrived.   It’s the waiting that will be the tough part.

In the immortal words of Wooderson (from the movie Dazed and Confused), “Patience darlin’, patience.”

 

 

  • Buddy

    Great job on the article. Playing in the mediocre NL Central and having such a deep well of resources, I don’t think the Cubs must suck to rebuild. Theo and the Theo-ettes can make the 2012 roster better and still power up for the future. It’s not one or the other, in my humble opinion.

  • I still suspect that we might wind up with Prince. You can play small ball with a lot of the roster, but to have any real success you need some mashers in the heart of the lineup. Locking up 1B and the cleanup spot for six years doesn’t sound all that bad.

  • Chuck

    The new CBA was exactly what the Cubs not not want to see with the new direction in-house. The Cubs no longer have the ability to outspend otehr teams in the draft room. I would try to stockpile the best and brightest scouts for both prospects and other farm systems.
    Castro is about the only player on the MLB roster young enough to be worth keeping if we go into “get out the dynamite” rebuilding mode.

  • Norm

    The new CBA inadvertently encourages rebuilding teams to lose rather than hover around the 80 win mark.
    Not only do you get a better draft pick, but the worst teams get more money to spend on the draft and more money to spend on international players.
    Selling everyone and losing 100+ games could give the Cubs more money than any other team.

  • Jedi

    I don’t think Theo’s real concerned about having more money in the 2013 draft than every other team. At best, that would give him some potential prospects for the 2016 or 2017 roster. If he’s building for 2013 or even 2014, fine…but sucking in 2012 so you can have a great 2013 draft that’ll be the groundwork for a solid roster in 3 or 4 years at best is beyond foolish. This isn’t the NBA draft where after the lottery you start to think most guys have a 50/50 shot at being an starter someday – and the rest are ticketed to be role players. The MLB draft is much deeper and much more dependent on a bit of good luck.

  • Spot on Jedi. No way you strategically cripple yourself for a crap shoot. The CBA eliminates some of the long gambles…case in point, Fat Dan Vogelbach more than likely doesn’t see a $1M contract under the new plan.

  • Jedi

    This isn’t a “Suck for Luck” campaign we’re running here…it’s a “suck until we can unload our bad contracts because they prevent us from being championship quality”…if the by-product of that sucking is a great position for the 2013 draft, so be it. But that’s not the goal; the goal should be to play out 2012, decide on Garza and extend Castro, trade anyone else who’ll bring back future MLBers, and have two off-season free agent bonanzas in a row (post 2012, post 2013) if necessary. If done properly, 2013 and 2014 could mirror 2007 and 2008 only minus the horri-awful contracts (hopefully).

  • Norm

    Who said it was a goal to suck for the best draft position?

  • Randy

    1> Dump Salary
    2> Suck for a few years
    3> ???
    4> Profit?
    Here is the problem, the Cubs are a profitable team, a profitable team with a payroll budget that can safely top 130 million dollars. We should focus on rebuilding, but we have the budget to at least try and compete every year. I’m not suggesting we give every low level star a Soriano like contract, but I don’t get the “slash the payroll” talk. Who are we going to spend all that extra cash on next year? The year after that? Assuming Castro learns how to walk and improves his defense, there is one big long term contract. Who else is worthy of a big contract from the Cubs, that they have a legitimate chance of getting in the next two years?

  • @Norm…some guy named Norm earlier in the thread

  • BLPCB

    I’ve said before we have to sink a couple of seasons to get these bad contracts off the books and develop some talent. As for the saved money, Ricketts can use it to pay off the purchase of the team and renovate Wrigley

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I’m a big fan of payroll flexibility. Just because the Cubs CAN have a $130M payroll and still turn a profit doesn’t mean they need to spend that kind of money every year. Trimming the budget for a few seasons can’t hurt us, and it might help get the ball rolling on the Wrigley renovations.

    And frankly, one of the biggest reasons I have hope for Epstein and Hoyer is that they HAVEN’T gone out and spent big in this free agent class just because the team can afford it. I’m all for the Cubs spending, as long as they do it wisely.

  • Dusty Baylor

    I am in favor of rebuilding the farme system through the draft. I’d rather see LaHair..Jay Jackson..Clevenger…BJax…Gaub, shoot any “prospect” with any signs of success at AA/AAA than go out and start filling up the Manny Corpas and Sonnanstines of the world.

  • Jedi

    How did you do that jswanson?

  • (no idea)

  • Randy

    The only really valid reasoning I can see for reducing payroll would be lowering ticket/concession prices or doing a massive renovation of the stadium. Cut payroll to 90 million and shave 15 dollars off the face value of all tickets? Yeah that isn’t going to happen, cut payroll you just line the owner’s pocket. As much as I like Ricketts, he’s is still a business man, if he can cut payroll and pocket the money he will.

  • BLPCB

    And what if he is using that money to pay off the purchase of the team or finance renovations? He has said every penny will go back into the Cubs in way or another.

  • MJ

    Well, alright, alright, alright.
    .
    Party at the moon tower.
    .
    Hey man, watch the leather.
    .
    I love high school chicks. I keep gettin’ older, and they stay the same age.

  • chet

    thank you MJ, it took three days but somebody threw some of the other qoutes out.