View From The Bleachers

December 7, 2012

Morning News: Minor Moves and Major Idiots

Filed under: Featured,General — Jeremiah Johnson @ 4:03 am

We’ve got a couple days worth of Cubs news to catch up on. On Wednesday, the team announced they had signed Nate Schierholtz to a one-year deal for $2.25M. He’s projected to be the starting right fielder headed into 2013, meaning David DeJesus will man center field alongside Soriano in left.

On Thursday, the team officially announced they’d reached an agreement with Japanese reliever Kyuji “The Colonel” Fujikawa, although the terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. The Colonel will introduced during a press conference sometime today.

The team also claimed right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 draft. Rondon has a history of elbow problems, but Jed Hoyer is clearly optimistic about his ability to contribute throughout the season on the 40-man roster. (The article also mentions that the Cubs lost pitchers Starling Peralta and Alvido Jimenez, along with outfielder Michael Burgess and infielder Matt Cerda as Rule 5 selections.)

And in one more move Thursday, the Cubs found an interesting way to set fire to $2M.

ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine recaps the Cubs recent moves and hints at one that still might happen.

Former Cubs outfielder and fan favorite Reed Johnson signed a new deal with the Atlanta Braves.

In the wake of the recent news that Alex Rodriguez would miss at least the first half of the season, the Yankees have reportedly offered former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis $12M for one year in the pinstripes. Things didn’t really end on great terms between Youkilis and the Boston front office, but don’t be surprised if he’s still got too much Sox in him to take the mercenary deal.

Elsewhere in the sporting world, the Broncos continued their charge to the postseason, rolling over the hapless Raiders 26-13. The game wasn’t as close as the score might indicate–I could only watch about a half hour of the lopsided action before Oakland’s ineptitude became yawn-inducing.

The NFL is mulling a rule change that would effectively do away with kickoffs. I think it’s a self-evidently terrible idea–what say you?

Another self-evidently bad idea? Letting Vikings’ linebacker Chad Greenway plan your next trip to the ballpark.

Sad news here for us hockey fans: it seems Garry Bettman is content–perhaps even eager–to cancel the whole NHL season. Rumors had been trickling out all week that a reconciliation was getting closer, but the news Thursday afternoon makes it sound like we’re as far from an agreement as we’ve been yet.

And because we probably shouldn’t go out on a downer note like that, here are the ten most expensive parking spots in the world.

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  • Adrian

    I don’t see the big deal with re-signing Stewart.

    I’ve seen people bash Stewart on here, and rightfully so, but they offer no solution to the problem. What was the alternative?

    Eric Chavez has only played 88 full games at 3B over the past five seasons. That’s an average of 17.6. We did show interest but the Diamondbacks signed him.
    We talked to Jeff Keppinger, he didn’t want to come, not much you can do there.
    Kevin Youkilis is asking for a multi-year deal that is not going to be worth it. The Yankees offered him 1 year/12 million.
    Yunel Escobar got traded to Rays and he said he didn’t want to play 3rd base.
    Mark Reynolds has made it known that he would like to stay at 1st base.
    Yuniesky Betancourt’s name was mentioned. He has only played five full games at 3rd in his entire career though. He’s not a threat on offense either.
    Michael Young has a no-trade clause and he’s contemplating going to the Phillies. He would never come to the Cubs, not only that he’s owed $16 this upcoming season.
    I guess John Hannahan is available…

    Am I forgetting anyone?

    It’s easy to knock the move on the surface but there is literally nothing available on the market.

    Also…”The deal is non-guaranteed, a source tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The Cubs will be off the hook for the $2MM deal if he is released in spring training.” The Cubs will have nearly two months to evaluate him, if he’s not working out in spring we can cut our losses and appoint Valbuena as the starter or again search the market for a trade partner.

    A little bright spot is that Valbuena is tearing up his winter league. He’s in a competitive league that has several major leaguers. He’s leading the league in batting average. He’s hitting .326 in 37 games with four home runs, 12 doubles and 24 RBIs.

    Josh Vitters was released from his winter league team after seven at-bats. (Zero hits) Shocking, I know.

  • Adrian

    16 million for Young. Obviously.

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Good point….Ian Stewart on the cheap is better than wasting more money/years on some slightly better crap.

  • Eddie Von White

    NFL no kick-off – They’ve been talking about that for quite some time, meaning, it’s inevitable. Terrible idea but the NFL seems intent on wimping down and all the post NFL crime that takes place only makes the P.C. crowd more intent. Pretty soon it will no longer be tackle football but cuddle-me-to-the-ground football. Tom Brady has been begging for the cuddle rule for years now. If a player looks at him crossly, he’s asking the ref to throw a flag. Then again, throwing the flag seems too violent, I suggest the refs start laying them softly on the ground, maybe carry pillows with them so they have a soft place to rest. 

  • Chuck

    Agreed.  No need to sign a crappy and expensive vet when you can be just as crappy on the cheap.

  • Chuck

    Just for giggles, here are some depressing numbers (courtesy of BaseballReference.com):
    Cubs MLB payroll by year
    2010: $146.6M
    2011: $125M
    2012: $80.4M
    2013: $75M (estimated)

    So, the Cubs have slashed payroll in half since 2010 and become one of the worst teams in baseball in the process.  This is what I am talking about when I speak of spending a bit more to get some good players.  I see no reason why the Cubs can’t support a $100M payroll and maintain respectability while rebuilding.

    For all of the “the payroll savings are going to renovate Wrigly” apologists.  Wrigley had better look like the god damn Taj Mahal when this is over or we have been hoodwinked.

  • Dusty_Baylor

    If they are going to change the kickoff….why don’t they just give the ball to the other team at the 20 yard line?  This 4th-15, punt or go for it option is bizarre

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    For the record, giant golden trough urinals are pricey.  

  • LVCubFan

     I nearly wept when I looked at our ‘projected’ Starting Lineup after the Winter Meetings.  Say we dump Garza for some more ‘prospects’ and Shark had a fluke starter year – there is no way we improve on those 101 (or was it 102) losses, especially with Houston in the AL. 

    Our organization has Yankees and Red Sox type money, yet we refuse to use it.  I am of the belief that there are no such thing as prospects.  There are suspects.  Then there are MLB players.  If guys like Stanton are available, we need to get him!

  • Jedi

    We couldn’t trade and acquire anything better than Ian Stewart?

  • Dusty_Baylor

     I feel your pain about the starting lineup  I do.
    But ransacking the farm to get Stanton?  I’d love to have Giancarlo Stanton on the Cubs, but I don’t want an MVP on a last place team again like the Hawk in 1987.

  • LVCubFan

     I’d hate to give away the farm, but the guy will be a stud in this league for the next 10+ years.  If anything that concerns me about our future is pitching.  The Giants have shown that if you have pitching you’ll always be in the playoff conversation. 
    I’d be alot more optimistic about Thed’s plan if we had a Verlander, Cain, Pedro (late 90s) type of player either in the system or sign via free agency.  Even with the #2 pick in June, there are no Strasburgs in this upcoming draft.

  • Chuck

    Stanton is an established All-Star caliber OF who is comparable in age to Castro.  The prospects are a collection of players who may become a player as good as Stanton.  Bird in the hand homey.

  • Chuck

    But they are magnificent.

  • Bones

    I look at these numbers as a very good thing. With $146 million we got nothing. The players from that payroll are almost gone. We will get back to $90 million or $100 million but that money will be spent wisely. Guys, give it 2 more years. Building from the bottom up here, not top down. New coaches, new system, new front office. Yes, this year will suck again but it should be the last year. Hold on and watch the growth.

  • Gymjok

    STEWART! STEWART! STEWART!

  • Doc Raker

    Move Soriano to third base and sign another outfielder that can hit above the Mendoza line. Signing a player that hits at the Mendoza line for $2M seems to expensive to me. It seems like a Hendry move, ‘pay him like a real hitter and maybe he will really hit.” It hasn’t worked in the past. I find it hard to believe another club would of paid Stewart near that kind of money, although I always underestimate what these clubs are willing to pay. The Marlins signed a .300 hitting 3bman/utility infielder last year to a 2 year $3M deal in a guy named Dobbs. If the Marlins can get a .300 hitter for $1.5M per why are we paying $2M for a guy who hasn’t proven he can hit in the bigs?

  • Doc Raker

    There is no instant gratification with this team, there aren’t enough free agents to build a real winner. The Cubs went the route of signing big money guys and it didn’t work. Unless you really sign the best and not just the best of that off season it doesn’t work. This team needs to rebuild the entire system and it is going to be a few years before they contend, money can’t change that.

  • Norm Bothwell

     Like?

  • Dusty_Baylor

     I agree, bird in the hand..so we have an amazing Right Fielder…and nothing else?  Wouldn’t Rizzo or Castro have to be included you would think?

  • Jedi

    Not doing this with you.

  • Norm Bothwell

     What does that even mean, “maintain respectability”? Why does it matter if they lose 80 games vs 100 games?

    It’s timing. That’s all it is. The farm system needs years to develop players that can contribute at the big league level. Not only the great ones, the cornerstones like Castro, but the role players; the Barney’s, Russell’s, and Travis Wood’s.

    Free agents are like a B12 shot. They help instantly, but also decline in effectiveness.

    So you need to match up the timing so that as the farm system is ready to provide a steady stream of Barney’s, Russell’s, and Wood’s to complement the cornerstones…which can be bought in free agency.

    But there is no point in spending $15M a year on BJ Upton for 6 years because he’s young enough to still be good in 3 years. That’s $15m less per year they have to spend on a GREAT free agent. And now you’re stuck with a declining player at $15M per year.

  • Adrian

    There is a 0 percent chance that Soriano is moved to 3rd base.

  • Adrian

    Obviously not.

  • Adrian

    We ended the season with our staff as Wood, Volstad, Berken, Germano, Rusin.

    Garza, Samardzija, Baker, Wood, Feldman (offer on the table to McCarthy, we’ll probably pick up one more name for depth) makes our staff 100x times the what we ended last season with.

    I see 75 wins as realistic and reasonable.

  • Adrian

    You make a great point. Free agency isn’t the way to build a team. Even the Yankees cornerstones were farm hands from their championship days, Jeter, Williams, Pettite, Posada, Rivera etc.

    Once you have players to build around (Castro, Rizzo seem to be the sure things, Baez, Soler, Almora as question marks) then you pick up the big name free agents as the final pieces. Much like Epstein did with Schilling for the Red Sox.

    King Felix is a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. He says he wants to stay but who knows if he’ll get tired of losing, want to test the market, Mariners can’t afford him. If he hits the open market the Cubs must offer him a Godfather offer. We should be more on the upswing by then, we’ll have the money to spend and the selling point should be “we want you as our ace when we win a title, you’ll be remembered forever, babies will be named after you” He’ll only be 28 by then, not one of those spare part 35 year olds that are trying to recapture past glory.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Berken is the poor man’s Rusin, who is the poor man’s Germano, who is the poor man’s Volstad, who is very tall.  

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Agreed.
    Putting a 37 yr-old with a history of leg injuries back in the infield..to a position he’s barely played, after he was moved to the outfield because he was so bad at the infield, shouldn’t happen.

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Ugh…that end of year starting rotation was abominable…(shudder)

  • Chuck

    I do not consider either Castro or Rizzo prospects.  They are established MLB players.  Rizzo is a little more dubious, but my point stands.

  • Dusty_Baylor

     I don’t consider them prospects either, but wouldn’t you think the Marlins would want one of them in a trade for Stanton?

  • Chuck

    I consider losing 100-110 games NOT maintaining respectability.  What is the difference between winning 82 and 62?  Well if you are on pace to win 82, it is not far from the 90 needed to have a punchers chance to make the playoffs considering 88 wins made it last season.  Winning 62?  Wake me up for next year.
    Why not give Youkilis a $15M 1-year deal?  If he is healthy he could get you a few more wins and be a trade chip.  If not, there are no bad 1-year deals.  Your big FA signing should not be a 32-year old relief pitcher.
    Am I the only one here that has not chugged the kool-aid and resigned themselves for terrible baseball for the next few years?  The Cubs have the financial might to at least field MLB caliber players at every position every year.

  • Chuck

    It is good to see that expectations have been lowered to the point where 75 wins is optimistic.  Considering the Cubs are throwing in the towel at 3B, 1 OF spot, and C from a hitting perspective, I think 75 wins is a pipe dream.
    I reserve irrevocable depression for March when the team is what it will be.

  • LVCubFan

     I’d try to make a deal for Stanton including anyone except Castro, Rizzo, Almora, or Soler – I’d say anyone else is expendable.  I’d have to think that the Fish have very little leverage since Stanton wants out.

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Well..he isn’t arbitration eligble until 2014, and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2017…so the Fish have a little leverage.

  • Seymour Butts

    Yes, but still just pissing the team away.

  • Chuck

    There is a never-ending stream of prospects.  It is the draft.  Use those prospects to get real players.  I see no tangible difference between trading prospects for young players and having them germinate through the system.  I DO NOT want the Cubs to trade prospects for old guys.

  • Chuck

    I would do Soler and some lottery tickets unless you are 75% sure that Soler will be better than Stanton.  There is a non-zero chance that Soler never makes it to the bigs.  There is a 100% chance that Stanton is a good player.

  • BLPCB

    How do you have an onside kick then? The 4th and 15 would make it a heck of a lot easier than trying to recover an onside kick. In my REALLY old Madden game, I’d keep the ball after every score.

  • BLPCB

    Why should we be spending money just to spend money? Why should be spending for crap when the team is going to be crap? The Cubs for too long have been trying to win now and in the future and have sucked at both. Just give it time. It’s going to take another 2-3 years to do this. I don’t want McJedEp going on a drunken spending spree. Look at what the half-billion dollar spree the Tribune went on did to us.

  • BLPCB

    Except Hawk signed as a FA for half a million

  • BLPCB

    I’d wait until next winter when his price comes down.

  • Dusty_Baylor

    Agreed.

  • BLPCB

    I reserve March for getting all giddy and excited that this will finally be the year. I let the reality ad depression kick in in mid-April when I’ve started the football countdown clock.

  • BLPCB

    Exactly how I feel. For once we’re actually going somewhere with the losing, we’re getting young players developed. Under the Hendry/Dust Bag regime, it was playing unproductive veterans in order to maintain the integrity of playoff races vs. the Reds and Pirates who were 30 games out of the races.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Mabey Tom is hopping that he can play against his wife and the other angels some day.

  • Norm Bothwell

    What is this “next few years”? Why do you assume it’s a few years still and not NEXT year that they add in free agency?

    And you’re changing the discussion. I didn’t ask about an 88 win team…what’s the difference between winning 62 and winning 82?

    Nothing. Except the fact that the 62 win team has more money available to them in the draft and international signings.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    The Cubs do need to start spending money, but this is not the year to do it.  They will be wasting money on players that will cost them there first round pick without helping them get any where.  The Cubs will need to trade Garza for a Mike Olt type player or sign him to a big contract.  If they let him go for nothing and then do nothing next off season then I am completely on board with you.

  • Chuck

    Buzzzzzzzzz!  The new CBA pretty much put the kibosh on spending a lot of money in the draft.  If you overspend, you start losing picks.

    Ditto for some of the international players.

  • Norm Bothwell

     Right, that’s why I said the 62 win team has more money than the 82 win team….as much as DOUBLE.

  • Chuck

    For what purpose?  Getting Rickitts another Maybach?  The money, in and of itself, is meaningless to me.  You create payroll flexibility so you can spend it on players.  Otherwise you may as well root for the Marlins.  I am sure Loria has TONS of money.

  • Seymour Butts

    Gotta agree with my boy Raker. Even a bottomless wallet would be hard pressed to build a winning team from this years crop of free agents. Slow and steady is the only option this year.

  • Norm Bothwell

     The 62 win team has up near $12M for draft picks while the 82 win teams has about half that….that’s what for. You don’t think that makes a difference in the draft on how many impact players they can get?

  • Chuck

    Again, the new CBA has some fairly draconian spending limits on the draft and international players from some parts of the world.  If the Cubs spent over the cap (I forget what it is) they would lose draft picks in future drafts.  Gone are the days when you could spend your way to a great draft.  This would be a viable strategy in 2010, not today.

  • Chuck

    I am not suggesting that they build the team through FA (I am calling for the use of prospects to get players), but rather they spend a bit more to have competent players throughout the lineup.  Ian is not a competent player.  It would have no long term impact.  What is the harm in offering Youkilis a $15M 1-year deal?  If he is healthy, you get a competent 3B that you could easily flip for prospects later if you wanted to.  If he is cooked, cut him loose.  All it costs you is the money you weren’t going to otherwise spend and the team is better.

  • Jedi

    His point is that the limits are higher for the teams with higher draft picks (effectively a slotting system for teams rather than players).  So worse teams are afforded the opportunity to spend slightly more money without cresting the limit.

  • Adrian

    Marlins say they aren’t trading Stanton. The only reason they traded all those guys this off-season is because they were bad contracts. Stanton is making peanuts and will continue to do so for several years.

    They aren’t going to give this guy away. If they were, they would ask for Castro, Rizzo AND Baez. They aren’t going to trade their only stud for Soler and no name prospects or even A-Ball prospects as people have suggested. He’s going to command a kings ransom. Loads of teams have called them too. Someone like Texas who has better pieces in higher minors makes more sense. He’s not coming to the Cubs.

  • Adrian

    Castillo is actually a pretty good hitting catcher. As far as 3rd base as I highlighted above, there are no options. They didn’t “throw in the towel”

    Yeah let’s throw big money at free agents, how did that work last time? Free agents are to plug holes, not fix a franchise.

  • Adrian

    I’m sure he would rather play in New York for 12 than Chicago for 15. You have to think about it from the players perspective. You would have to go up to about 18 million before you sway him. At that point, it’s not worth it for Kevin Youkilis.

  • Doc Raker

    Until you have a big league rotation spending money on a guy like Youkilis is just money spent blocking a prospects development. I would rather give Valbuena more time and see if he improves than signing Youk. When we have a rotation then maybe- until then money on FA’s is icing on a cake of poop.

  • BLPCB

    Gross. Not after I just ate dinner and it hasn’t worked its way down. Please don’t put this on the Lizzie’s, I don’t want to have to read it again. This is the most disgusting image a post I’ve read on this site has given me.

  • Doc Raker

    Until you see him play the position you really don’t know.

  • Doc Raker

    I am glad someone around here appreciates my genius.

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Well we need a catcher….why not put him at catcher.
    It’s not going to happen.

  • Bones

    Best to just swallow, chewing makes you realize what you are eating.

  • Doc Raker

    How about Carlos Marmol at catcher, he has a strong arm.

  • Doc Raker

    That’s what she said.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Well played. 

  • Seymour Butts

    I just can’t tell you how much I hate agreeing with you.

  • Doc Raker

    Don’t you get tired of being wrong?

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Exactly how I agree.  

  • Bones

    Well Cubs fans, Zack Greinkie gets $24.5 million a year with the Dodgers. Highest paid RH Pitcher ever. Glad this was not the Cubs. Theb, please do not ever spend this much on a pitcher. Maybe 2 good years then 4 years of average pitching for $98 million. No thanks.

  • BLPCB

    The Dodgers have now gone on a half-billion dollar spending spree. And if they get that Korean pitcher, crazy. They will mimic the state of California and the United States of Obamorons and collapse under the weight of their spending.

  • Buddy

    The Dodgers new TV deal alone is worth something like $6 billion. I think they’ll be OK.

  • BLPCB

    Luxury taxes, revenue sharing, how about paying off the purchase of the team or buying out McCourt? Renovating Dodger Stadium?

  • Chuck

    Unless that is a 1 or 2 year deal, it is not what I am advocating.

    When the Cubs are on pace for over 100 losses, I will bring up all the times I was called crazy for advocating the team spend some money on MLB caliber players.  So far I see a bad lineup, a bad rotation, and a bad bullpen.

    Oh yes.  I almost forgot.  The bloated payroll in 2010 paid for the playoffs in previous years.  But go ahead and praise the slashing of payroll with no tangible benefit to either the MLB team or the farm system.  I am done discussing this for now because it just makes me angry and depressed.

  • Chuck

    I am sure the tax payers will paying for the renovations.  

  • BLPCB

    Not those other things though

  • Cap’n obvious

    That’s what she NEVER says…

  • Doc Raker

    Don’t be angry or depressed Chuck, it is just part of the process, better days to come in Wrigleyville.

  • Jose Cardenal

    let’s review the last major market team to lose on purpose as the cubs are doing?………..no one.
    let’s review the last time Theo did this?………never.
    let’s review the cubs attendance last year compared to W-L record? 2.8M plus 2nd highest attendance on the road………..so to thank the fans we…….lose on purpose.
    assuming Baez-Soler-Almora-Vogelbach-Maples are the answers is beyond crazy; there is NO guarantee and even less than signing proven FA.
    ever heard of Ty Waller, Karl Pagel, Kevin Orie, Drew Hall, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Earl Cunningham………more suspects. more dreams. more losing from ex-Cubs  who were” to be the next big thing”.
    105 yrs and counting……..there is no grace period Tommyboy!

  • BLPCB

    Lose on purpose!? What the hell do you want the Cubs to do? Get drunk and spend a gazillion dollars like the Dodgers are doing?

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Ok…Ty Waller was acquired in the Sutter trade…
    so you’re listing Cubs prospects from The late 70′ s(Pagel), the late 80’s-early 90’s (Hall-Orie-Cunningham)to the 2000’s (Patterson-Pie)…most of these prospects flamed out spectacularly.
    What’s the point?  The Cubs have been piss poor at drafting basically from 1990-2010.  This is not a team that just needs a couple of players to jump into the playoffs.  Epstein/Hoyer are rebuilding the entire system from the ground up.  It takes time.  Continuing to sacrifice young talent for “proven” veteran free agents is just as risky.  Let’s ask the Red Sox how that went last year?   I’d rather see the Cubs build this way, and start to see some young talent coming to the majors in 2013-2015.  Then they can pick up a free agent or 2 if needed.

  • Jose Cardenal

    last time I checked the Red Sox won 2 World Series……..so I guess the answer is pretty damn good.

  • Jose Cardenal

    no-keep losing on purpose. it’s working out great!

    there  isn’t a law that says you have to lose; you could try to compete and rebuild the system; i thought theo was a genius; you mean he has to have a top 3 pick every year to rebuild?

    33.3% of all teams make the playoffs…….Cubs might want to think about that not to mention they could of kept marshall, keep garza, kept aram, sign cespedes, signed darvish, sign anibal sanchez………all players under 30 except aram. all deals of 4 yrs or less except darvish who is the youngest……

    OR we can sign Ian Stewart!
    small minded-thinkers……..think small.. for 3M per year; I would hope theo could “expand” his limits.

  • Jedi

    The new ownership has spent more since May than the McCourt spent between 2006-2011.

  • Dusty_Baylor

     Ok.  and last season?
    Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, Papelbon, Youkilis, Buchholz all homegrown players.  Prospects were traded for Beckett, Schilling, Mike Lowell, Coco Crisp..etc.  They signed JD Drew and Big Papi as free agents
    You have to have a strong farm system before you start throwing around the free agent money.

  • Doc Raker

    I don’t think they are losing on purpose, i think they needed to rebuild the entire organization. 

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