It has been an eyebrow-raising winter meetings for the Cubs on many levels. Here are 10 questions that come to mind:
1. Is Dale Sveum Mike Quade?
His comments about the Cubs pitching staff being solid and only needing a couple starters to fill out the bottom of the rotation to cure what ailed the team in 2011 were baffling, especially coming on the heels of Theo Epstein's comments that every team needs nine starters available for every season. Sveum looked clueless in his interview by the MLB channel in Dallas on Tuesday.
2. Is Theo Epstein Jim Hendry?
I had my doubts when Epstein talked about swinging some deals at the winter meetings. Jim Hendry said this a couple times heading into the meetings as well. Deals are rare in this day and age when everybody wants to win the trade.
3. Do Theo & Co. have a plan B?
I'm starting to think that privately the Cubs are stunned by the CBA. It's like their whole plan was to fix this thing through the draft and now they don't know what to do.
4. Is Theo afraid to pull the trigger or spend even mid-level money on a free agent?
I'm also starting to wonder whether all those bad free agent deals in Boston have Epstein on his heels. You can't be afraid to spend on a free agent when you're a big market team, that's supposed to be the advantage of being a big market team - that you CAN overpay. But it seems Epstein is looking for the perfect move. If he is, he'll be waiting for a long time.
5. Are the Cubs going to be more conservative with their spending than any of us thought?
It sure looks like it based on this quote that Theo gave Paul Sullivan for a Chicago Tribune article Wednesday: "That's what fits where we are right now (small moves) ... with our resources and our roster."
6. After earlier saying that a big market team like the Cubs shouldn't ever be in rebuilding mode, Epstein also contradicted that with the second part of the above quote to Sullivan:
"... (We're) trying to get incrementally better and also build for the future."
7. Where are the players that are going to make the Cubs even a .500 team going to come from in the next 2-3 years if not largely through free agency?
I'm sorry to all you optimists, but the Cubs do not have any minor-leaguers who are likely to be difference makers coming along anytime soon. Certainly not in the next two years. So if they are not going to delve into the free agent market other than for bargain-basement players, how are they going to contend before 2015 at the earliest? I guess if Epstein is looking to get incrementally better, perhaps that's what he shooting for.
8. Why does anybody think the Cubs would sign Prince Fielder?
He makes it almost impossible for them to improve defensively next year, especially with a wild-armed Starlin Castro.
9. Are the winter meetings overrated?
I love baseball so much that I always get very excited for them. And they always let me down.
10. What is the over/under on Cubs wins for 2012?
I'll go with 75.