Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Go Cubs, Go get Carl Crawford

Special Note:  I know Crawford is on the DL but this was written assuming he is heathy at the time of trade.

The Chicago Cubs should trade for Carl Crawford!


I know what you are saying “this is not Jim Hendry at the helm” and “the Cubs are trying to develop their own talent and not take on overpriced veterans through trades.”  If you are saying this then you have valid points but what if I told you trading for Carl Crawford follows the mold of what the Cubs are trying to do?  I know; I just peaked your interest.


The Chicago Cubs under the direction of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer has gone in a direction that I myself thought I would never see.  Building a team from a strong foundation (the farm) then adding low cost/high value (cost efficient free agency) and then trading those low/cost high value for prospects and other impact players that strengthens the team for the future.  Simply an amazing winning formula the front office has started.  But how does that pertain to Carl Crawford? Well to go there we have to look back at some of the moves this front office has made.  Recently the Cubs have handed out big money to Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro who both are building blocks but lost in the shuffle is Edwin Jackson who was signed to a long term deal this past off-season.  Edwin Jackson is not a front line start but a solid 4/5 guy in any rotation and the front office believed Edwin Jackson could give this current team something for the now and future.  Edwin Jackson has been a durable pitcher and that was something the Cubs were lacking in recent years.  Edwin Jackson was only 29 years old when he signed which means he fit not only the now but also the future.  This is something that I expect to start trending as the foundation continues to rise throughout the farm system when the Cubs wants/needs are more black and white.


This brings me to Carl Crawford and what he provides the Cubs in value for the now and future. Carl Crawford right now is only 31 years old and yes he has yet to live up to the expectations that he was paid for by Theo but a lot of that has been because of injury.  But now because of that injury, lower expectations, and bottom of the barrel trade value the Cubs might be in a perfect scenario to buy low on a guy who just 3 years ago batted .307 with 19 homers and 47 SB.  Not to mention this year he seems to have bounced back facing NL pitchers on a regular basis batting .301 with a .358 OBP 9 SB in 201 PA.  Another reason why he makes sense now is the Cubs are poised to trade a lot of their outfield in July with DeJesus, Soriano, and Schierholtz all very likely candidates to be on the move.  Also, just like Edwin Jackson, the Cubs need a staple in the outfield until prospects are ready to fill that void (BJax no longer look favorable).  He also fills the big hole in the leadoff spot the Cubs have been missing since Juan Pierre left which is a huge plus.  Jorge Soler is a year or more away and Albert Almora is more than 2 years away so adding Crawford for the next 4 years provides insurance and a nice trade chip if he completely bounces back.


The Cubs are in a prime position to pick up Crawford for all the reasons above but another huge reason is the fact the Dodgers are willing to eat a large chunk of money to move him considering the emergence of Puig and their really crowded OF.  So you are asking why would the Cubs want Crawford?  Even at a price of 4 years $40 million (which is half his contract)?  Well there were reports that the Cubs this past offseason were looking for an OF and actively pursued guys like Shane Victorino, BJ Upton, and Michael Bourn.  All those players average about 11M-13M a year over the life of their contract.  Reports suggest the Cubs could have been bidding close to that figure for these 3 players. Let’s not forget the Cubs are to be rumored to be interested in future free agent Jacoby Ellsbury who is making $9M this year and will likely command well beyond that this offseason and Ellsbury is less than 2 years younger than Crawford. 


So if the Cubs have interest in signing Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason and they were active in discussions with Shane Victorino, BJ Upton, and Michael Bourn last offseason wouldn’t they be interested in trading for Carl Crawford at 4 years $40M or less without giving up anything of value in return?  Not only do I say they should trade for Carl Crawford but I think front office will at least entertain the idea.  They would be crazy not to.


Until Next Time…





Monday, June 24, 2013

Managing a Theory: Is Sveum Right for the Cubs?

Throughout this season I have been frustrated, confused, enlightened, surprised, miserable, and so many other emotions.  Most of the negative emotions I have faced came from one individual; (and no, not Carlos Marmol) Dale Sveum.  When Dale Sveum was hired in late 2011 he was believed to be the one to mold this team with his strong teaching on fundamentals and follow the Theo/Jed philosophy the set forth when each took over.  I heard numerous good things about Dale and still believe he is a good baseball man but after half a year into year 2 I am starting to wonder if he is the guy going forward.  I am actually wondering if he is the guy for the right now.


Dale is heading into the back half of his contract and this Cubs team does not look any more fundamentally sound or polished than it did at the beginning of the 2012 season.  I have seen Starlin Castro’s development take 10 steps back after the coaches decided to force him to become a player he is clearly not.  Since the Sveum/Rowson change took place Castro BABIP when from the .340s to the .248 which is just about unheard of.  This current coaching staff has continued to tinker and mess with Castro so much it is close to the point of no return.  Right now Castro cannot survive and make strides with Rowson and Sveum at the helm and I honestly believe that.  But the good news for Castro is I do not see Sveum or Rowson as the long term answer in Chicago.


This is just not about Castro though; let me tell you some things that do not work for me as a fan or as a person who has been in management myself.  When your team is failing at their goals that means you are failing right along with them.  You need to have the team in your best interest for your sake as well as theirs.  It seems Dale Sveum attitude is making it a blame game between the coaches and players.  He continues to blame players in his post game conferences but I have never heard him say “this loss is on me.”  Not once have I heard him say that he is taking the blame.  Instead I hear things like “I have a weak bullpen” “the errors in the game by _____ really hurt us.”  While this continues to be a pattern for Dale I see another pattern developing with the front office and the players and that is taking the heat off Dale Sveum.  We have already heard Theo and Jed both take time to give Dale a vote of confidence and blame their construction of the roster on the Cubs woes.  We have heard players like Edwin Jackson, Starlin Castro, and others blame themselves for a whole teams loss.  But not once I have heard the manager of the Cubs say “you can blame this one on me.”  The truth is the front office has made mistakes and shares the blame, the players made mistakes and shares the blame, and the coaches have made mistakes (although defends them) and never takes the blame.  Dale recently said he does not listen to 2nd guessers but how is he going to learn from his mistakes is he does not evaluate himself.  Sometimes it takes an outside party to show you how you messed up or things you are doing wrong.  The thing is Dale is not ready to be a manager of the Chicago Cubs and he has proved this over the past season and a half.  He has made bone head calls in games, he has continued to throw players under the bus regularly, he continues to slam the roster set out by Theo and Jed, he continues to ignore advance statistics that this front office is priding itself on, he continues to be quoted on crazy things about sending down players then mentioning Rizzo and Castro, and he continues to be everything the Cubs do not need in a manager.  This is why he is a placeholder and not a future World Series manager.


Now what I have always learned is if you have a problem you fix it.  By laying out a problem without a solution all you are doing is venting, which changes nothing in the end.  So my solution is…. Hire Mike Maddux.  If you all remember Mike Maddux was thought of as the Cubs first pick for the management position but then it came out he wanted to stay in Texas. Then we heard he was not offered the job’ then we heard he was but turned it down.  All that is hearsay now but the reason Mike stayed in Texas was a big one; family.  Mike Maddux currently has all his kids in a college in Texas although some will be graduating next year which brings me to why he may now jump at the chance to coach the Chicago Cubs.  At the end of Dale Sveum’s contract Mike Maddux will be ready to once again entertain management vacancies because most of his kids will be graduated or a year away from graduating college.  He will be more open to moving to a new location, new life, and new challenge. 


But why Mike Maddux you ask?  Well obviously he is a favorite of Theo and Jed since he went through the interview process.  He fits more of the mentality that Theo and Jed are looking for given this quote on Sabremetrics in an ESPN piece wrote by Jon Greenberg in 2011 “It's art. You can make some things out of them. But there's a lot of real stuff to them also. Good numbers don't lie. Bad numbers can be a little deceptive. You use all the information you can, but when it comes down to it, you got to trust yourself, trust your players and try to put your players in positions where they can succeed.”


I suggest everyone to re-read that article and you will find out just why he is the perfect manager for this team to move toward the ultimate goal of a World Series Championship.  Another huge plus by hiring Mike Maddux is the motivation and drive for Mike Maddux to work with his brother Greg.  The feeling is mutual but Greg wanted to again spend time with his family before jumping into baseball full time once again.  At the end of Dale Sveum contract Gregg Maddux will be out of baseball full-time for over 6 years and recently Greg has been slowly getting back into baseball working with the Texas organization. This means he could be looking for something more full-time around the same time Mike Maddux is looking for a coach on his staff. 


The timing of Dale Sveum contract which is only 3 year total in length and the time of Mike Maddux kids to get through school seems like a lucky coincidence but we do not know what took place in those meetings between Mike Maddux, Theo Epstein, and Jed Hoyer.  I am not implying that they have a secret deal under the table or anything like that.  But what I am saying is all three men are smart and if Maddux said something to the effect of “if this was three years later, I would take the Cubs job in a heartbeat,” that had to be a factor with giving Sveum only 3 years when the President and GM each have 5 years on their contract (something that is rare).  A good businessman always looks years ahead and plays out each and every scenario he/she can think of.  Theo and Jed are good at what they do and if they think the Maddux brothers might be available in 3 years and Mike is the guy they actually wanted; then hiring Dale to a 3 year deal make sense.  I am assuming they just wanted to see what Dale can do in 3 years in Chicago to see if he is the long term option (which is smart).  Well if you are in the place I am in then you think he is not the long term option.  And oh what do you know after 3 years Mike Maddux looks like he available for the Chicago Cubs new Manger vacancy.


Until Next Time…