Category Archives: Theo Epstein

Jon Lester signs with Cubs, Fans Fear How This Will End

Jon Lester Chicago Cubs MLB 2014 Free AgencyI’m a life-long fan of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve been through it all. I was born in 1980 and one of my earliest baseball memories was the Cubs’ 1984 playoff collapse. I dealt with numerous inept managers, a handful of ‘this is our year’ years and the whole Steve Bartman ordeal. The Cubs now have a stockpile of blue-chip prospects, but nearly all are position players. Chicago needs quality pitching and they just signed the biggest name this offseason.

Jon Lester, formerly of Boston and Oakland, signed a six-year $155 million dollar deal (with an option for a seventh year).

Theo Epstein and recently-named assistant Ryan Dempster both have a relationship with Lester. It gave them a much-needed edge.

I breakdown this signing and a few other ramblings about the upcoming Chicago Cubs season. Also, gaze upon my awesomely horrible MS Paint skills.

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Who Will the Cubs Hire as Manager?

Theo-Epstein-Chicago-Cubs-ManagerThe Chicago Cubs managerial search took a hit with Joe Girardi re-signing with the New York Yankees. He was their top candidate, since he’s from the area and was a former player for the organization. Oh, he also won the World Series as a manager.

The list of qualified candidates is out there, but we try to weed out the rumors.

The decision on who they hire makes a statement if this organization is looking to win now or if they realize this team is still a few years from making a run.

Will Theo Epstein hire once again hire one of his boys (Dale Sveum was third base coach on Boston’s 2004 World Series team) or will he go outside his comfort zone?

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2013 MLB Team Preview: Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are in the middle of rebuilding their team the right way, through the draft. They are avoiding the offseason barrage of high-priced free agents, which was their vice during the final years of the Chicago Tribune ownership. The new owners, the Ricketts family lured Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox before last season and ended the season with  101 losses in 2012.

Cubs fans aren’t expecting a World Series championship in 2013, but they want to see improvement. A few young prospects are expected to be called up at some point and those are the players the fans will have an interest in.

Should fans expect an All-Star season from Anthony Rizzo?

Will Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano be traded at some point this season?

Here is the 2013 MLB season preview for the Chicago Cubs. Continue reading

Are Trade Rumors Having a Negative Effect on Starlin Castro?

‘America’s White Boy’ has been Starlin Castro Central over the past week. I had an opinion on the latest Chicago Cubs trade rumors that possibly involved Castro and had a post where I compared the current Castro situation to the 1988 trade Rafael Palmeiro.

Castro committed a pretty bad defensive gaffe when he didn’t even attempt a double play because he thought he already recorded the third out of the inning. He held onto the ball and the tying run scored on the play. The Cubs lost 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants.

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein shot down rumors they were shopping Castro.¬†Trade rumors can affect a person’s confidence even when they are not involved in the rumor.

What is the best way to deal with his lack of concentration? Is benching him the right answer?

Cubs manager Dale Sveum hinted that Castro could see himself out of the lineup tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers. Sveum has been vocal when the 22-year old has made a mistake and even called his last error “unacceptable.”

This wasn’t the only lapse in concentration that Castro has committed recently. He pulled up on a steal attempt because he thought Joe Mather had fouled off the pitch. Mather didn’t make contact and Castro was caught in a rundown. He had a problem last season when Bobby Valentine, current manager of the Boston Red Sox and former ESPN baseball analyst, criticized him for not being set defensively when the pitcher threw the ball. Castro had his back to the play and was bashed by the rest of the media after Valentine pointed it out on live television.

Castro has been the only consistent offense for Chicago this year. Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano have been hot at different times, but Castro has batted over .300 since Opening Day.

Chicago has one of the worst records in baseball (18-36) and it isn’t going to get any better this year. They will be openly shopping Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Soriano and other players at some point in the season.

Castro needs to look at the team’s struggle as a mental test. Unless you are Derek Jeter, a player isn’t going to be on a winning team every year. If he handles losing poorly, he will not progress in his development. I hope Sveum continues to be hard on him. I believe he deserves to be benched for a couple games, but then openly praised if he comes back playing harder than ever.

The Cubs fans are rooting for you, Starlin. Please lead by example and your teammates will follow.


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Starlin Castro Could Be Next Rafael Palmeiro

Last night, I wrote a post about the trade rumors that surround Starlin Castro. The post was informative with very little opinion. I am usually very opinionated when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. I have been a fan since I was old enough to understand what the hell Harry Caray was saying. I didn’t add much opinion because I was shocked that two high-ranking members of the Cubs organization would tell USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that “everyone but Jeff Samardzija is available.”

Epstein refuted that statement late Thursday to The Sporting News by saying, “Starlin Castro is the type of player we’re looking to build around. There has been no trade consideration with him, whatsoever.”

Epstein’s statement is “sports speak” and politically correct. This is coming from an executive who once traded Nomar Garciaparra in the middle of a pennant race.

I want to point out the similarities to Starlin Castro and Rafael Palmeiro, who the Cubs traded to the Texas Rangers in 1988 when he was a 23-year old. The Cubs received a package of six young prospects. Did I mention the Cubs also traded Jamie Moyer away in the same deal?

There is no doubt that Epstein has an itchy trigger finger. He wants to show Cubs fans that he is there to win.

If Starlin Castro is traded, could he be a part of the next Rafael Palmeiro trade disaster?

Let’s take a look at the organization similarities in 1987-88 and 2011-12.

1987-88: The Cubs fired Dallas Green as the general manager and hired Jim Frey to take over the job. Frey previously worked in the Baltimore, Kansas City, and New York Mets organizations. He even worked under Green as the Cubs manager from 1984-86. He was not married to any player in the organization, especially Moyer and Palmeiro, who both made their professional debuts in ’86…after Frey was fired.

2011-12: Jim Hendry, who had a great beginning to his GM tenure in 2003, fell short in his last few years on the job. After he fired Dusty Baker, he hired Lou Piniella as the team’s savior. He couldn’t do much with the talent. Expectations began to lower and fan frustration was on the rise. Hendry was finally fired after the 2011 season. The Cubs hired former Boston Red Sox’s executive, Theo Epstein as the President of Baseball Operations. He then hired former San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer to take over the same position with the Cubs. Neither Epstein or Hoyer have any ties to young talent and/or the veterans on the 25-man roster.

The Cubs situation in both eras are parallel. A change in the front office and the desire to blow up the team and start fresh. Frey was already quite familiar with the Cubs organization. You would think that he would have tried to hold onto Palmeiro and Moyer, but Green acquired those players. Green was the GM who fired Frey and on a personal level, it could have swayed his decision to rid the team of some talent and get back younger players that could help the team in the future. He would get all of the credit for the turnaround.

Let’s take a look at Rafael Palmeiro in 1986-88 and Starlin Castro in 2010-12.

Rafael Palmeiro in 1986-88: He was drafted in the first round of the 1985 amateur draft by the Chicago Cubs. He came up for a short time at the end of the 1986 season and showed plate discipline and a little pop. He was called up in June of 1987 and hit 14 home runs in only 221 at-bats. It was the first sign of his power numbers that he would later hit in his career. He came into the 1988 season as the starting left-fielder and played a little at first base. He hit .307 with eight home runs in 580 at-bats. His power numbers were down but he only struck out 34 times in 152 games. Palmeiro was showing all of his tools, but he only had four. His defense was a glaring hole in his game…the reason Frey used when he traded him in December of 1988.

Starlin Castro in 2010-12: He signed as an amateur free agent in 2006. He played 125 games in 2010 with a line of 3/41/.300. He finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 2011, he came into his own and earned his first All-Star selection. He finished the year with a line of 10/66/.307 and had some votes for NL Most Valuable Player. He led the National League in hits with 207 in 2011. So far in 2012, he has a line of 4/32/.317 in 205 at-bats. He has the same questions about his defensive ability as Palmeiro had at the same point in their careers. He committed a total of 56 combined through 2010-11 and has already has 9 errors through the first 50 games in 2012.

If we go back to Nightengale’s piece in the USA Today, the top ranking Cubs official said they would move Castro for “two impact prospects.” I argued that he is only 22-years old and the impact free agents would be roughly his age with less MLB experience and a lower talent-ceiling.

Let’s look at what GM Jim Frey got in return for Moyer, Palmeiro and pitcher Jim Hall in 1988.

The Cubs got back minor leaguers Luis Benitez and Pablo Delgado, pitchers Paul Kilgus, Mitch Williams, Steve Wilson and IF Curtis Wilkerson. At the time, they thought that their return on Moyer and Palmeiro was tremendous. Chicago had a lot of holes and Frey believed they would be a very talented team in the near future.

The pitchers in the deal, Kilgus, Williams and Wilson, were a combined 21-35 during their tenure with the team. Williams was an All-Star in 1989, but began to earn his “Wild Thing” nickname by becoming more unreliable in 1990. The Cubs traded him to the Phillies in 1991 for pitchers Chuck McElroy and Bob Scanlan…both of whom had longer tenures with the Cubs than any pitcher received in the Moyer/Palmeiro deal.

Benitez, Delgado and Wilkerson, the position players in the trade, contributed less than the pitchers. Benitez and Delgado never made it to the Majors with Chicago or any team for that matter. Wilkerson served as a utility player for two seasons. He only contributed one home run and a batting average that hovered near the Mendoza line.

Scouting has advanced greatly since 1988 and the odds of making such a terrible trade is lower. I just wanted to point out the dangers in trading young stars who have had early success in their careers.

Moyer had a winning record in his first season with the Cubs and went on to have a great career. He didn’t pan out for the Rangers during his time with the team, but really began to dominate at the age of 34 with Seattle.

Palmeiro went on to hit 569 homers and over 3,000 hits in his career. He spent the remainder of his career with the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. He was suspended at the end of his career for a failed drug test after he testified in front of the U.S. Congress. His career will now be looked at as a result of performance-enhancing drugs.

Starlin Castro has all of the tools that Palmeiro possessed as a 22-year old. The power numbers may not be there or will ever be there, but he is one of the best young talents in the game. Now is not the time to trade him in hopes that the young prospects they would get in return, would turn into…well, Starlin Castro clones?!

Even though Epstein put out the fire by saying that he wasn’t currently shopping Castro, be aware of a statement that he made earlier in the week.

“I never understood why there would ever be an untouchable. All you’re doing is limiting your opportunity”

Brace yourselves Cubs fans, it could be a very long summer.

A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.

The Cubs to Trade Starlin Castro, Others?

The Chicago Cubs are 18-32 and have already had a double-digit losing streak this season. They knew going into this season that big changes could be made to their team.

Bob Nightengale of the USA Today reported that every player on the Cubs current roster, except Jeff Samardzija, is available for trade.

The biggest surprise in Nightengale’s story is that 22-year old All-Star, Starlin Castro, is among the Cubs players that the organization would consider trading. He is among the team leaders in nearly every offensive category.

Is publicly announcing that the entire roster is available for trade a smart move? What is the Cubs asking price for Castro?

Theo Epstein signed on as the President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs and hired Jed Hoyer as the General Manager. Epstein came from the Boston Red Sox and Hoyer was previously the San Diego Padres GM. To make a long story short, they didn’t draft or sign any of these players, so they are not married to them.

“We’re starting to get some early calls now,” Epstein told Nightengale. “There might be fewer sellers than usual and a lot more buyers. This has the chance to help us. We need core players.”

The Cubs will move Starlin Castro for ‘two impact prospects’ and Bryan LaHair, Matt Garza, and Ryan Dempster are the others that will be highly sought after. Alfonso Soriano was also mentioned, which isn’t a new development, the Cubs has been trying to trade him for three seasons. They would eat most of his contract just to make space in the outfield ($18 million per season through 2014). Soriano is on a hot streak since reducing his bat weight by over an ounce. It could be the perfect time to talk a team into taking him off their hands

Let’s go back to Epstein’s remark that the Cubs “need core players.” Castro has proven that he can produce at the major-league level (over 200 hits in 2011). He has struggled defensively this year and analysts are questioning if he would be more suitable at a third-base. Unless the Cubs think that minor-league shortstop Junior Lake is a better long-term answer at the position, I would rather have Castro than two wild-cards at this point.

If the Cubs make a few moves and clear spots on the 25-man roster, they will bring up some talented minor leaguers. First Baseman Anthony Rizzo is tearing up Triple-A and will be the first player they call up. If Rizzo is their #1 prospect, outfielder Brett Jackson is #1a. Jackson has been touted as the center fielder of the future. RHP Trey McNutt and 3B Josh Vitters could also be considered for a call-up.

Epstein can’t trade the entire roster. They are an 18-32 team, he couldn’t even give away most of them. Publicly announcing that the team is up for trade could lead to disgruntled players and low morale. He could have had personal discussions with other teams’ front office staff. He did it as a message for fans that he will not stand pat and will do everything he can to improve the Cubs. I can understand that, but it just seems pretty early to be making bold statements.

I’m a Cubs fan and I have been very patient with the organization. I am ready for a change, but I hope they don’t trade young established talent for even younger unknown commodities. You can make a bad situation even worse if those prospects don’t pan out and the player you traded away is voted into the All-Star game every year.


A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.