As Capt. Obvious has now observed, and Dave Kaplan stated before the Chirstmas holiday that some skeptics here and other places deadpanned, the Cubs are truly in a complete rebuild. The Rizzo trade pretty much confirms that along with the follow up presser that Hoyer said:
Now there were other revealing thoughts that Hoyer is quoted at that presser including asking for fan patience;
“Any time you go with young players, it’s the right thing to do. It’s exciting to have young talent in an organization, but there’s no doubt that with young talent comes an adjustment period. [...] With young players, there does come growing pains. It’s definitely something we’re prepared to deal with, and frankly, it’s the only way to rebuild a great organization..."[emphasis added]
"[...]With young players, there does come growing pains. It’s definitely something we’re prepared to deal with, and frankly, it’s the only way to rebuild a great organization … to have the patience to go through that with the right players.” [emphasis added]
or the plan regarding LaHair;
“The way we see it is Bryan [LaHair] had a terrific year last year in Triple-A and has been terrific this year in Venezuela. We see him as our first baseman. It’s likely Anthony will start the year in Triple-A.”[emphasis added]
But also the interesting subjective observation of Rizzo and the mental makeup of the thrice acquired prospect:
“He has fantastic makeup. After beating cancer when he was 19 years old, he’s a very strong individual. In San Diego I got to know him better than I did in Boston. He makes a big impression on his teammates and he’s an incredibly hard worker …. Overcoming cancer was incredibly impressive, but I think it’s a mistake if you just allude to his makeup that he overcame cancer. He’s a very strong person …. He’s a leader that can put our organization, our team on the right path as far as our culture. He’s a very impressive individual.” [emphasis added]
Now what was not stated but the actions also point to decisions made in consequence of building a great organization, where the following players were not retained or were traded; Not retained Carlos Pena, Aramis Ramirez, Koyie Hill, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz, Jeff Grabow, Luis Montanez, Doug Davis, and Ryan Flaherty & Marwin Gonzalez [through Rule 5] and still up for negotiation are Kerry Wood and Jeff Samardzijia.
Traded for value have been Carlos Zambrano, Andrew Cashner, Tyler Colvin, Sean Marshall and DJ LeMathieu (to date), while acquiring Chris Volstad, Anthony Rizzo, Travis Wood, Ian Stewart, Dave Sappelt and adding through FA or Rule 5 acquisitions; David DeJesus, Jeff Bianchi, Casey Wathers, Andy Sonnastine, Manny Corpas, and Lendy Castillo.
All these decisions speak louder than words. What they don't say is merely throwing money in a short term tactic to solve a long-term systemic problem of putting World Series talent on Wrigley Field as a guise or attempt to field a World Series contender. So forget about the Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Ignore the press clippings regarding the Darvish's, at least until the Cubs are satisfied with their rebuilding plan and are filling in where there is a need.
What it also is speaking to are the decisions of the previous "suits" in the front office who made the decisions. Cashner was a number one choice, a player who was being asked to play out of position (starter) when he was a reliever and who got hurt. Traded away in a complete salary dump was Zambrano, a player who was no longer welcomed in the locker because of his emotional behaviors and even though talented was in retrospect overpaid and destructive. Traded was another number one draft choice who showed promise (Colvin) but completely fell apart last year for another who was had similar experiences along with another supplemental first round draft choice. Traded was a dominant role player (Marshall) for what was needed, young starting pitching.
Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are alarmed by the team’s lack of minor-league talent, and trading Garza would bring more young players into the system.
All this reminds me of an anecdote I once had in another industry when I was sitting in a new CEO's office who was expressing his (then secret) plans to overhaul a company that had fallen on hard times. He told me (as his headhunter) that his assessment of the company's human assets were all screwed up. That the previous regime had made such poor decisions that he couldn't trust any of their reasoning or premises, be it with people or business initiatives and that only a complete rebuild would put the company back in order. They had let go the best talent, kept the mediocre or political allies leaving a hollow shell of initiative or ambition to work with. That he was going to go to the Board with an aggressive plan to sell off some seemingly profitable, but growing mature business units but beforehand also use that plan to transfer as many dead weight executives and managers to those units as possible so he could bring in fresh talent which is where our help will be needed. He then spelled out a completely different kind of person or culture that the current company was used to bringing in.
This is what I see going on with the Cubs. And as Hoyer said:
[...] they're not done. When asked for a projected 2012 rotation, Hoyer said the Cubs are still looking to add more pitchers.
"We're not finished acquiring starting pitchers," Hoyer said on Friday. "We want to have as much depth as possible.
"At this point, we're still very much in the process of gathering as many quality arms as we can, and we'll put those pieces in place as we get closer to Spring Training," he said.
"We have worked hard, and we continue to work hard, and hopefully we'll have even more starting-pitching acquisitions," Hoyer said. "We want to go seven, eight, nine deep in the rotation and we hope to replenish the bullpen as well."
So IMHO I see the following happening as Spring Training approaches and even beyond.
- Soriano is traded in a Zambrano-like deal where the Cubs seek more pitching depth
- Byrd is traded for pitching and system depth
- Soto is evaluated and must return to his even year production
- Players like Samardzija, Barney, Wells, Coleman, Russell DeWitt, Baker and even Castro better show serious improvement if they are to remain.
- R Jackson, Vitters, Szczur, Lake, Gaub, Mateo, Castillo, Dolis, Bellivieu, Maine, Cabrera, Carpenter, and Clevenger current prospects on 40-man also better show great development or be ready to perform when called upon.
All these players were decisions made by Hendry and it appears that Epstein and Hoyer have little respect for those decisions. Yes Kaplan you were correct, the Cubs are in full rebuild! What also struck me was what they said about Rizzo's personality. As a cancer survivor they saw a grit and hard work. My guess is that that particular attitude is not being expressed, except with LaHair who has seemed to impress them when originally Hoyer didn't like that option.
“The way we see it is Bryan [LaHair] had a terrific year last year in Triple-A and has been terrific this year in Venezuela. We see him as our first baseman. It’s likely Anthony will start the year in Triple-A.” For my part, I’m pretty pleased with the plan. Not only could Rizzo use a little more time in AAA to work on his swing, this gives the Cubs a chance to get a long, serious look at LaHair without impeding any other moves. While I was not in favor of LaHair getting the nod at first base instead of the Cubs seeking out a more established or higher upside option, now that they’ve got Rizzo in the fold for the long-term, I’m pleased as punch to let LaHair get his shot...
I like this entire direction, it will pay dividends.