Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Theo Compensation Settled? Results very unsettling

When it was made known that the Cubs and Red Sox had to settle what the compensation would be for the Red Sox to allow Theo Epstein to scoot out of Boston after their incredible collapse, it was quite apparent that Boston didn't want to just give Theo away for anything.

Rumors swirled, outlandish ideas of Castro or Garza going to Boston were made. However, it was known that Boston's upper-management believed Theo was worth far more than even Theo believed he was worth. Was it "sour grapes" on Larry or John's behalf that their boy-genius savior left town after too much turmoil on what was the cause of Boston's historic September collapse?

Theo joined the Cubs, without compensation being settled.

A full month went on, no settlement.

Bud Selig gave both teams a deadline before he'd step in and settle the compensation himself....again, no settlement. However, both teams were given an extension of a undetermined length.

Time passed, both teams went on with their off-seasons without even a whisper of compensation. Finally both sides raised their hands and sent the order to Selig to let the MLB offices settle the compensation dispute.

A month passed, since then, and Pitchers & Catchers reported.....Compensation Settled....

Now, I'm just a fan of baseball who dabbles in prospects but knows generally about most major leaguers to some extent. However, why did it take almost 4 months to figure out that pitching prospect Chris Carpenter and an exchanging of PTBNLs of little-to-no-consequence would be the overall compensation?

Also, why is Boston forced to send a PTBNL to the Cubs when they were hornswaggled by the Cubs in allowing Epstein to be hired before they were compensated for letting him go before his contract expired?

Some Cub fans will point out that they think it's unjust that Carpenter was the player dealt and not a lower-level prospect(Junior Lake or Josh Vitters) and how the PTBNLs on both sides will be "organizational" filler. However, Organizational filler for a winning team with a strong farm system is vastly different than a team who's farm is "okay" and the franchise is being totally re-done. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shock The World: 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates

Not until I started thinking about it today, but if there's any division in baseball where a surprise could occur....The NL Central is where it could be located. The Cubs and Astros are being rebuilt from scratch by sabermetrically-inclined front offices. The Cards and Brewers are licking wounds from huge losses to their offenses with the AL-bound Prince Fielder & Albert Pujols and the possibility of NL MVP Ryan Braun starting the 2012 season on the suspended list for a PED suspension. Cincinatti seems comfortable to mortgage some of their future in hopes that they finally have a "real" ace-level pitcher in Mat Latos.

That leaves the Pittsburgh Pirates....the team that always seems like they're on the right track in ending their near-20 yr Losing Season drought, but end up having something happen and it only continues. Neal Huntington is the NL-version of Kansas City's Dayton Moore. The "process" doesn't always give the results that you imagined. They try very hard to sway free agent talent into wanting to go to Pittsburgh and play in beautiful PNC park, yet it always seems that they're more likely to sign a player that  is trying to redeem themselves and getting another big-money contract in the future. Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes, Jose Mijares and Casey McGeehee are their top acquisitions this offseason, thus far, and they even made a push for Free Agency's #3 SP Edwin Jackson(only to lose out to Washington).

Yet, for some odd reason, 2011's surprising push that led to ultimate disappointment for the Pirates may be the start of something for the franchise. It could be a lesson that their younger core of players needed to learn before they could make the move from "pretenders" to "contenders". Lesson is "Don't rest on your laurels, while you have success now...it could always go up in smoke in an instant".

Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchenson are very good players and the core of the Pittsburgh offense. They tasted what it was like to be a winner....for a half season. I'm sure that they'd likely trade anything to achieve that feeling again. To go from one of baseball's biggest underdogs to become one of baseball's "surprise stories" and "SHOCK THE WORLD" like the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays did.

Worst to first, worst to first....Ingredients: A somewhat young core of players who want to win...CHECK. Add a few key veterans...CHECK. Hope for a "perfect storm" within the division(Losses to perennial contenders that open playoff window just enough for other teams who are unlikely to ever get shot to contend)....CHECK

If the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates make their big playoff run, I will not be at all surprised. SHOCK THE WORLD, BUCCOS!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Chaos of "Rebuilding"(but not really, but really)- White Sox Edition

I've never been a fan of Kenny Williams, to be quite honest. It's hard for me to push a complimentary sentence out of my mouth when it comes to him making a good signing or making a good trade. Just my luck, you do not see him make these often. He's the same guy that has traded Gio Gonzalez twice and has traded for players he's been a big fan of....when they're on the downsides of their careers(Both Alomar brothers, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jake Peavy).

The Year 2008 may be the last year for awhile that the White Sox will be anywhere near winning a playoff game or contending for a World Series in a long while. The team has been in shambles since their 2005 World Series victory and the rift between Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen(and his family) began to grow in size.

Suffice it to say, I think Ozzie Guillen may have gotten the last laugh and Kenny Williams may soon be looking for a job. In 2012, Ozzie will be managing the newly revamped Miami Marlins and Kenny Williams will be the GM of a team that may or may not be rebuilding. Kenny, it seems, hasn't made up his mind on whether the Sox are actually rebuilding and 2012 isn't a year they plan on going "All In" or showing what the new "Grinder Rules" are.

I say that Kenny Williams hasn't made up his mind whether or not the White Sox are "rebuilding" because he's flip-flopped on the subject this offseason. He initially used the dreaded "R" word when the team traded Sergio Santos, the team's closer(with a team-friendly extension), to the Blue Jays for Nestor Molina. While some applauded the acquisition of Molina(he was one of Toronto's more successful prospects, numbers-wise), other point out the fact that Molina really isn't a "stuff" pitcher and is probably more likely to be a back-end rotation pitcher than ace-level. After the trade, Kenny was even quoted as saying that the team was in a rebuild mode.

The team's biggest trade asset this offseason was John Danks, who was a very polished pitcher whose "stuff" shines past his varying numbers playing for pretty bad Sox teams(both win-wise and fielding-wise). It was a question of who would offer most for Danks, which would substantially improve the White Sox's death-bed ridden farm system. However, Kenny Williams killed any chance of a game-changing trade to happen. He signed Danks to a 5 year contract extension, which the White Sox had tried to do in the past but never gotten the pen to paper for, and erased the attractiveness of Danks. While still an intriguing pitcher, his contract was not "team-friendly" and the White Sox would likely never get anything of promise for him in a future trading of him. After the un-"White Sox"-like extension(never have been known to be a team that gave a pitcher an extension of 4 years or more), Kenny says the team isn't "rebuilding" and that his initial quotes were a "misquote" and he plans on the White Sox being "in it".


Then what does Williams do on New Year's weekend?

Consecutive days with trades

On New Year's Eve, the White Sox deal power hitter Carlos Quentin to San Diego for once-heralded SP prospect Simon Castro and SP Pedro Hernandez. Many questioned this deal, since the duo doesn't have much upside and Quentin's swing and power actually accommodate the pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Most of the evaluators of the deal looked at the deal as a "salary dump" and a likely "win" for San Diego Padres.

On New Year's Day, when many MLB offices have their doors closed for the entire weekend, Kenny spins the 2nd deal in a 24 period when he deals Jason Frasor(one of the teams more successful relievers in 2011) for Daniel Webb and Myles Jaye. Neither were Top 10 or Top 20 prospects in Toronto's vast farm system, which smells of another "salary dump".

Kenny Williams is going to have a tough time proving to fans that the team is not rebuilding when dealing 3 of the teams more promising players for scraps and not pursuing anything of note in Free Agency....

There's a word for what happens when a team is trading it's more valuable parts for multiple players who are far from "major league-ready".....Oh, that's right, it's REBUILDING!!!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Chaos of "Rebuilding", Cubs Edition

When Jim Hendry was fired midseason, Cub fans knew that something big was going to happen. It started with a very successful draft, which outgoing GM Jim Hendry helped put gold stamp on, but it then had it's supernova-like moment when the Cubs cashed in on Boston's implosion and wrestled Theo Epstein(and a few of his guys) from the Red Sox's grasps.

Who wouldn't want Theo as the President of Baseball Operations?

Now add Jed Hoyer, who is quite a great baseball mind and did decent as a GM for himself, and Jason McLeod(great scout of talent)....you've got a trio of guys who will add credibility to your staff and ease the blow of the that dreaded R-word....


Now, to say that the Cubs are rebuilding is an understatement. What they're doing is generally termed as a "utter demolition of old infrastructure" and "complete overhaul". The job of Epstein is to implement long-term success plan for the Cubs, like what he had done in Boston. 2 World Series rings for an also "believed"-to-be "cursed" franchise is a resume' topper, in my honest opinion.

Tom Ricketts gave Theo and Hoyer the keys to the franchise and the right to dump any contract they wanted to, no matter how much money was involved.

Since Epstoyer came into power, the Cubs have acquired Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood, Anthony Rizzo and 4 prospects while losing Carlos Zambrano(and paying 15 MIL of the 18 MIL owed to him in 2012), Sean Marshall, Tyler Colvin, DJ LaMathieu and a few mediocre prospects.

The Colvin/Stewart trade is a wash to me, the Rizzo is a "win" for the Cubs and the Marshall deal was basically to start the rebuild  of a very barren farm system.

However, what an absolutely dumb and possibly damning trade that the Cubs front office made when they succumbed to media and fan's wishes by dealing Carlos Zambrano and 80% of his salary to Miami for the likes of a probable career #5 starter(with #3 upside, if everything goes well) when it is known/believed that Miami had offered a better package with a hitting prospect. Hrm, back-end rotation guy with ~2 years of MLB experience(not success) under his belt or highly-touted and now-blocked 3B prospect(Matt Dominguez) who is easily a better 3B than Ian Stewart now and has more upside than top organization 3B prospect in Josh Vitters.

I get it, Cub fans, Zambrano was never going to play for them again. He is believed to be a clubhouse cancer and was going to never be more than a headache instead of the presumed "ace" that he had was touted to be. However, it's an insanely horrible trade for the fact that you traded a #1 upside pitcher for a horrible SP and you're going to pay for 80% of his 2012 salary....and he's going to be managed by a guy who has wanted to manage him for the last 3 years when he was the manager of the cross-town rivals, the White Sox. Dave Sveum had no connections to Z, but Ozzie & Z are from the same country and have talked before/know of each other. If anyone will be able to harness a hot-head like Zambrano, it'd be a fellow hot-head in Ozzie.

On a side-note, for all the accolades and praise that I give the Cubs for the acquisition of Anthony Rizzo....the Cubs puzzle me when announcing that Rizzo will start 2012 season in AAA Iowa and they will likely start 2011 PCL MVP and Career AAAA-type Bryan LaHair as the Opening Day First Baseman. Everyone knows that the Cubs will suck in 2012, but with the Epstein-proof CBA in place and limiting an insane draft class like the 2011 Cubs had, what is the use of punting the 2012 season and giving LaHair ABs over Rizzo?

Looks like 2012 will be an easy year to get good tickets and watch a game at Wrigley....