Intelligent Moves BAFFLE the Muskbox Readers


Brevity is the soul of wit.

After a week of mediocrity in the Muskbox, the dummies are back out in full force. As I have long feared, Muskbox Nation still has no idea that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are trying to build a franchise capable of long-term, sustained success. The Muskboxers want to WIN NOW, and will accept nothing less than a first-place finish in the National League Central. Theo might want to avoid the Cub Convention this weekend entirely if he doesn’t want to have to answer questions like, “HOW COME TONY CAMPANA ISN’T INVOLVED IN OUR LONG-TERM PLANS?”

This Muskbox is lengthy and girthy. You’ve been warned.

What is going on with Kerry Wood?
– Mark E., Des Plaines, Ill.

Not much. Just chillin’. He still plays guitar on the side. Does charity stuff. Still rocking the goatee. What’s going on with you, man?

CARRIE: The Cubs and Wood’s representatives have been talking since the 2011 season ended and both sides say they want Wood to stay.

The problem is that only one side wants him to stay FOR FREE.

CARRIE: On Sunday, Wood told NBC 5 Chicago that he’ll make a decision by the end of the week. There are other suitors. ESPN reported that the Phillies have shown interest in the right-hander for their bullpen.

Kerry, you are one of my favorite Cubs of all time. But for God’s sake, TAKE THE MONEY, GO TO PHILLY, AND WIN A GODDAMN RING.

CARRIE: Wood, 34, has said he’ll retire if he doesn’t return to the Cubs.

Such unabashed loyalty to the team that took a cheese grater to all of his ligaments.

CARRIE: Hopefully, we’ll know Friday, when Wood is hosting a fundraiser for his foundation at Harry Caray’s at Navy Pier. Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, was scheduled to attend.

So, I guess we WON’T see you guys at Shitty’s, then? THANKS FOR RSVPING.

Why don’t the Cubs make more of an aggressive attempt to land Prince Fielder?

They don’t have a big enough boat. “He can’t go down with three barrels! Not with THREE barrels, he can’t!”

I’m sure if they were to offer a five-year deal for around $125 million, we might be able to land a player who we can build a great team around. By losing out, we are just making it harder on ourselves to compete against other teams.
– Austin S., Davenport, Iowa

I think part of the reason that Cubs fans are so dopey is that such a high percentage of them use “we” when referring to the team.

INT.–THEO EPSTEIN’S OFFICE–DAY

Rotund first baseman PRINCE FIELDER and Cubs general manager THEO EPSTEIN are in heated negotiations for the player’s services. AUSTIN S., of Davenport, Iowa, listens intently. JED HOYER is nowhere to be found.

THEO: So, listen, Prince. Many of the teams who looked like they had big money to spend on you have already spent that money elsewhere. You are worth Albert Pujols money, and I get that. We can’t afford that kind of money, but I’m making you an offer that stretches us right to the limit of what we can do.

AUSTIN: WE’RE TRYING TO BUILD A TEAM, HERE, AND WE CAN BUILD AROUND YOU!

PRINCE: Who the fuck is that?

THEO: Never mind him. Just- Just pretend he’s Jed Hoyer. I’m not going to lie to you, Prince. I’m putting together a team that’s going to be competent over the next couple of years, but we’re not going to win any World Series rings. I expect within the next five years, though, that we will be in a position to win. And I want you here for that.

PRINCE: What you’re saying definitely makes sense.

AUSTIN: WE HAVE TO PLAY BETTER BOTH ON AND OFF THE FIELD!

PRINCE: Um, okay.

AUSTIN: THE ONLY WAY WE CAN COEXIST WITH THE CYLONS IS IF WE TRY TO TRULY UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE, AND THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS IF YOU SIGN THIS CONTRACT RIGHT NOW!

PRINCE: I’m going to go now.

THEO: (hangs head)

CARRIE: Fielder’s agents don’t seem willing to budge from a 10-year deal, not five. The Cubs’ trade on Friday for Anthony Rizzo should end the rumors that Epstein is bidding for Fielder.

Is this your first Muskbox?

CARRIE: Rizzo is the Cubs’ first baseman of the future…

He flew in from San Diego on a ROCKET CAR!

CARRIE: …and even if he doesn’t start Opening Day 2012, he’s expected to be a mainstay in 2013 and beyond.

Also, TO INFINITY!

CARRIE: Committing that much money to Fielder at this time doesn’t make sense.

Yeah, well, history’s gonna change.

I got lost somewhere in these future jokes.

I like the Anthony Rizzo trade. We got a top-tier prospect. Does this mean Bryan LaHair will be relegated to the bench, or will he be given a shot at everyday playing time, either in the outfield or at first? I know LaHair has not proven he can hit big league pitching every day, but he did well in 2011 in the Majors after tearing it up in Triple-A. It seems he deserves the chance to succeed or fail.
– Billy E., Albany, N.Y.

You know what the best part about the Anthony Rizzo trade is? THAT WE NO LONGER HAVE TO GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF BRYAN LAHAIR.

CARRIE: Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Rizzo, 22, needs more development, and that LaHair is the starting first baseman this year.

“What’s ‘more development?'”
-Corey Patterson

“Beats me.”
-Felix Pie

The Cubs traded Andrew Cashner to the Padres.

Is he informing her? Man, even I don’t think that Carrie is THAT bad at her job.

I don’t understand the move. Cashner was a young pitcher with a lot of potential as a starter. He looked to be healing up nicely and could be a good No. 4 guy in the rotation for the Cubs. I just don’t see the point of this trade.
– Christopher T., Chicago

The Cubs’ minor-league system is, one might say, very, very bad. The Padres’ minor-league system is very, very good. Prior to the 2010 season, Andrew Cashner was ranked the fourth-best prospect in a bad system. Rizzo was the best prospect in a good system, so he comes in and is immediately ranked third among Cubs prospects. Additionally, Cashner is coming off an arm injury, and he’s three years older than Rizzo. Also, the Cubs need a first baseman much more than they need another middle reliever. In conclusion, you don’t understand this trade because it’s the best one this franchise has made in ages. Or, perhaps, you’re an idiot.

CARRIE: Even though he is healthy after the shoulder injury that sidelined him in 2011…

…she said, necessarily.

CARRIE: …Cashner was projected for the bullpen (which is where the Padres will use him). Rizzo has a lot of upside and could be a middle-of-the-order, power-producing first baseman.

And (fingers crossed) maybe someday he can be as fat as Fielder and as old as Pujols!

With Sean Marshall traded and Wood unsigned, what do the Cubs plan to do for late-inning relief? Jeff Samardzija improved as the 2011 season went on and Cashner looked good in his late-season relief stint. Will the Cubs give them a chance at the starting rotation, or will they end up filling the late-inning relief spots left open by Marshall and (maybe) Wood?
– Doug E., Palatine, Ill.

Wells, Samardzija, and Cashner for the back of the rotation!!! Dale Sveum just emoted for the first time ever.

CARRIE: You submitted this before Cashner was dealt.

Here is what I love about the Muskbox. The question submission form includes the following language (emboldening added):

E-mail your query to MLB.com Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.

Once the Cashner trade happened, clearly that part of his question was moot and could have very easily been clipped with the basic nature of the question remaining intact. But NOPE.

CARRIE: Samardzija has said he wants to start, but he has been more successful in the bullpen.

How hard do you suppose Theo laughed when he saw THAT contract?

CARRIE: Maybe we’ll find out at the Cubs Convention.

It would be the first interesting, relevant piece of information that has EVER come out of the Cubs Convention, so MAYBE.

CARRIE: The Cubs’ rotation could be Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Randy Wells. Besides Samardzija, the pitchers the Cubs can chose from for relief duty include James Russell, Scott Maine, John Gaub, Chris Carpenter, Alberto Cabrera, Marcos Mateo, Rafael Dolis and new additions Manny Corpas, Andy Sonnanstine and Casey Weathers. Plus, the Cubs need to slot in Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo.

Garza begat Dempster; and Dempster begat Wood; and Wood begat Volstad; and Volstad begat Wells; and Wells begat Samardzija; and Samardzija begal Russell; and Russell begat Maine; and Maine begat Gaub; and Gaub begat Carpenter; and Carpenter begat Cabrera; and Cabrera begat Mateo; and Mateo begat Dolis; and Dolis begat Corpas; and Corpas begat Sonnanstine; and Sonnanstine begat Weathers; and Weathers begat Castillo.

What are the chances the Cubs will sign right-hander Edwin Jackson…

Zero percent.

…or lefty Paul Maholm?

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

They are both young and pitch a lot of innings. The Cubs sure could use more pitchers with the ability to go deep in games.
– Paul W., Columbia City, Ind.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love the Maholm deal. One year, $4.25M for a guy who posted a 3.66 ERA last year? As Madea might say, “DAY-UM!”

BECAUSE WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH MAHOLM, CARRIE’S ANSWER HAS BEEN REMOVED FOR BREVITY, LENGTH, AND/OR CONTENT.

When will the single-game tickets go on sale?
– Daniel M., Evanston, Ill.

“I have my eye on that October series against the Astros.”

CARRIE: Single-game tickets go on sale March 9 at Wrigley Field and on cubs.com. We’ll post more details as soon as they are available.

Details may be edited for brevity, length, and/or content.

Last season, Tony Campana, in my opinion, was the most exciting Cub to watch.

This season, you, in my opinion, are the worst.

He is surely one of the fastest players in baseball.

He is fast. And don’t call him Shirley.

I have no doubt he could steal 70-plus if he played regularly.

It’s funny because he presupposes that Tony Campana can reach base seventy times in a season.

Where does he figure in the outfield mix this season? Is there a chance he plays every day?
– Michael S., Peoria, Ill.

Fuck. No.

CARRIE: Not likely. Campana has to get on base to steal, and his .303 on-base percentage in 95 games would need to improve. He’s best suited as a pinch-runner and defensive sub in the outfield.

For the Cardinals.

What is the level of interest the Cubs have in Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler? I would love if they got both, but I think Soler would be a great potential long-term solution in the outfield, seeing as he’s only 19 years old. I think he’d be cheaper than Cespedes as well.
– Kevin B., Urbana, Ill.

Quick, Austin S.! How do you say, “WE NEED YOU SO WE CAN BUILD A TEAM AROUND YOU,” in Spanish?

CARRIE: The Cubs are among the many teams keeping tabs on the two Cuban outfielders — and Epstein did watch Cespedes in a workout in the Dominican Republic — but it will come down to the price tag. It’s a big risk to commit $50 million to a player who has never had an at-bat in the big leagues.

EPSTEIN: (looks at Samardzija’s contract) God dammit.

CARRIE: You’re right that Soler, 19, would be less expensive, but his agents also are looking at a mega deal.

He said Soler was nineteen right there in his question. Someone should edit YOU for brevity and content.

Whatever happened to Angel Guzman? Is he still with the Cubs’ organization?
– Steve O., Arlington Heights, Ill.

He’s ranked right behind Anthony Rizzo on their list of prospects. FOREVER Prospects.

CARRIE: Guzman signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers in December.

“BUT WE HAD GUZMAN PENCILED IN TO BE AN IMPORTANT LATE-INNING PIECE IN THE BULLPEN!”
-Austin S.

  • Andy

    My favorite question was the one about Cespedes and Soler by the brilliant Kevin B. from Urbana. I enjoyed that he wrote with such certainty about the futures of two Cuban baseball players who he has never seen play.

    Cubs fans are the worst.

    I hate us.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/liberalclass Santo10

      Even worse than “the best fans in baseball”?

    • jaybandit

      “I think Soler would be a great potential long-term solution in the outfield…” doesn’t really sound that certain. He was stating an opinion, and it is an opinion that has been reiterated by most of the Chicago sports journalists this off-season.

    • Moon

      Cubs. Cuban. It’s a natural fit!!!

  • DVXPrime

    Carrie Muskat has a paying job, doing this bullshit.

    Then again, this IS the city that allowed the Daleys to run it into the ground…and the Cubs were owned by the Tribune, sooo…