September 28, 2016


The breaking news today is that Theo Epstein has signed a 5 year extension to stay with the Cubs.

In 2011, Epstein signed a deal worth $18.5 million.

It is reported that he is now the highest paid baseball executive, which would mean he would surpass the $8 million per year mark set last year by the Dodgers who signed Andrew Friedman away from Tampa.

If true, the Cubs extension gives Epstein a 220% raise from his last contract.

Actual terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

From my vantage point, I thought Epstein would have gone the "free agent" route to see if he could cash in with an equity position with another club. Last week there was a rumor that Epstein would leave baseball to get a "giant" payday in another field, such as using his analytical skills in investment banking or another business venture. These rumors were fueled by the fact that it took the Cubs an extremely long time to come to a deal with the team President (who only has a few weeks left on his original deal.)  Further adding to the fire was that one of Epstein's core managers, scouting director Jason McLeod, was interviewing for a GM position in Minnesota.

It will be interesting to note whether this new deal gives Epstein more power over the budget to run the baseball operations. In the past, he has been put on a tight leash by the business side of the team structure.

Fans will be relieved that the architect of the current club will be around until the budding stars hit their free agency years.

September 27, 2016

100 + 6 TO GO

The Cubs won a milestone 100th game. They can now cruise into the playoffs with NL home field advantage.

It was reported that Joe Maddon is looking for an 11 man pitching staff (down from the normal 13) to increase the bench to 14 players.

It should be a fairly easy exercise to forecast the playoff roster for Round 1:

Starters: (8)

LF Bryant  CF Fowler  RF Heyward
3B Baez  SS Russell 2B Zobrist  1B Rizzo
C Contreras

Bench: (6)

OF Soler
C Ross
C Montero
OF Szczur
OF Coghlan
IN LaStella

Rotation: (4)

Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks, Lackey

Bullpen: (7)

Montgomery, Cahill, Wood, Edwards,
Strop, Rondon, Chapman

September 16, 2016


A good general manager is a man of his word. Very few succeed by trying to rip off another club in a trade. Trades are supposed to be made for the mutual benefit of both sides.

So when MLB suspended the Padres GM for serious breach of protocol, it was a surprise.

San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller was suspended Thursday for 30 games without pay by Major League Baseball, hours after news hit that the Padres allegedly withheld player health information in hopes of getting the upper hand in trade discussions.

ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that the Padres allegedly built a special database to document player health details while skirting MLB’s rules about injury information. In essence, the Padres kept two sets of records: One that was incomplete and shared with other teams and another that was complete and kept in-house.

The Padres were called into question because of their July trades with the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins, which according to Olney, left teams thinking the Padres were using “strategic deception.”
In its announcement of Preller’s punishment, MLB didn’t comment on the specifics of its probe, saying only:
Major League Baseball has completed an investigation into the July 14th transaction in which pitcher Drew Pomeranz was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Boston Red Sox. MLB’s Department of Investigations conducted the thorough review, which included interviews with relevant individuals from both Clubs. The findings were submitted to Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.
As a result of this matter, Major League Baseball announced today that A.J. Preller, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Padres, has received a 30-day suspension without pay.
MLB considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.
Olney said at least three teams complained about the Padres to MLB.

Major League Baseball has a central database for player health information, where teams are supposed to keep their notes on injuries. In the event of a trade, doctors for each team trade codes and look at player notes. According to Olney, the Padres started keeping all the important notes in their separate database this year.

At the trade deadline, the Padres traded Drew Pomeranz the Red Sox and Andrew Cashner and Colin Read to the Marlins. Rea was hurt in his first start with the Marlins and in a highly unusual move, he was returned to the Padres The Red Sox were angered when they learned about preventative treatment Pomeranz was going through that wasn’t in his Padres notes.

In decades past, trades between teams were always "buyer beware." Each team had the responsibility to conduct a medical evaluation on a player before agreeing with a deal. MLB has streamlined the medical records process to help trade and free agent market evaluations.

The Padres intentionally deceived the other clubs by not putting in medical treatment into the central data base. It calls into question the trustworthiness of the San Diego organization in future team transactions. 

September 8, 2016


With every successful sports franchise, leaders and managers tend to get looked over for promotions with other teams.  It is trying to buy past success with a new employer.

Rumors have started to circulate that Cubs executives could be top talent to other organizations.  There are strong rumors that the Twins are pursuing Cubs execs Jason McLeod or Shiraz Rehman for their top baseball operations job.

McLeod has been a part of Theo Epstein's inner circle from their Boston Red Sox days.
While Jed Hoyer worked with Epstein on Boston player acquisitions, contract negotiations, player evaluations and sabermetrics, McLeod's expertise is in amateur scouting.

The Twins, being a small market team, need to have a strong scouting and development department in order to compete with big money, free agent spending teams like the Detroit Tigers, Red Sox, or Yankees.

While Epstein's contract expires after the end of the season, it is unclear the status of McLeod's contract term. In any event, it is standard practice for most teams to allow an employee to interview for a promotion with another club.

As discussed previously, the Epstein contract extension situation with the Ricketts is strange. Why both sides have not concluded an extension after last season's success is baffling to industry insiders. It shows that there has to be some rift between the baseball and business sides of the organization.

So Epstein's management team may look to parachute to new positions. This is similar to what happened when Epstein's reign was coming to an end in Boston; many of his staff went elsewhere including to the Padres before rejoining him in Chicago.

So it will be no surprise that the other teams will want to hire Cub baseball executives this off-season.