With recently returned Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel having issued another ninth-inning meltdown today–against the NL Central-leading Cardinals, no less–Chicago fans may feel disinclined to read today’s piece from Chicago Sun-Times scribe Gordon Wittenmeyer, which doesn’t pull any punches in evaluating the job done by team president Theo Epstein and his staff this year. In Wittenmeyer’s view, blame for the Cubs 2019 underachievement should be directed at ownership and Epstein’s front office–not underperforming players or maligned manager Joe Maddon. Wittenmeyer writes: “What’s clear is that the onus of this season’s shortcomings falls on the shoulders of Theo Epstein’s front office for free agency and player development failings and Ricketts ownership for failure to exercise the market advantage of franchise-record revenues to increase spending during a seize-the-moment competitive window.”
Wittenmeyer leaves little earth unscorched in this column, citing the club’s inability to develop impact pitching, unwillingness to spend beyond ownership-established thresholds, and in-house pressure regarding the need for early-season “urgency” as factors that dragged down this year’s Cubbies. The Cubs dropped today’s 9-8 decision to St. Louis and now fall to 6.0 games back in the NL Central race.
More notes concerning FO leaders and PD staffers from around the game…
- When Dave Dombrowski was relieved of his post by the Red Sox on Sept. 8, many cited the club’s thinned-out farm system as a potential impetus for the leadership change. For those interested in investigating that theory first-hand, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe took the time to explore Dombrowski’s effect on the Boston farm in a subscriber-only piece today (link). Recent farm system rankings from Fangraphs and Baseball America have placed Boston’s system as 30th and 22nd in the game, respectively.
In more Sox-related news, Jen McCaffery of The Athletic spoke with Red Sox assistant GM Eddie Romero regarding the organization’s decision to retain front office staffer Tony La Russa in the wake of Dombrowski’s ousting (link). La Russa’s title under Dombrowski had been “Special Assistant and Vice President of Baseball Operations”, but the club is in the process of how the club can augment the baseball legend’s role moving forward: “We think it will evolve into a lot more overall staff development, not just major league-focused,” Romero told McCaffery. “But those are things we’re still talking about and we’re excited with the prospect of Tony continuing to bring his vast experience and knowledge.”
- Former big leaguer B.J. Surhoff was one casualty of Orioles GM Mike Elias’ midsummer front office shakeup, and Surhoff, for one, does not appreciate the way Elias handled his dismissal. In a candid interview with Dan Connolly of The Athletic, Surhoff claims that he was relieved of his duties as special assignment instructor after only having spoken with Elias on one other occasion–the day Elias was introduced as O’s GM back in November. “Am I pissed? Yeah. I’m unhappy about what happened,” Surhoff told Connolly. “Do I have sour grapes toward the organization? Well, I don’t like the way things are being handled. I just don’t like how they’re treating people. I want that to be known.” Surhoff stressed to Connolly that he could not speak for the other 30-plus employees who were issued non-renewals by Elias this summer. One of those non-renewals, longtime Baltimore scout Dean Albany, has been hired as a special assignment scout by the Phillies organization after spending 20 years in the Orioles org, per a separate tweet from Connolly (link).
I wish that Padres fan juice what’s his name was here to eat his preseason words about the Cardinals.
You won’t see that guy or most cub fans on here for a very long time.
I guess I’m a Cardinals fan now…
I’m a Cubs fan and I’m still here. Come at me, DA.
Nothing like a sportswriter to tell us all after the fact who’s at fault.
Usually the same one who extolled the genius of the same guys 4 months before……
Wittenmeyer has been on 67TheScore consistently since March trumpeting the Cubs/Ricketts strange lack of spending with a clear but waning window to compete. He called this mess in February so no… he doesn’t fit your curt second guessing storyline.
I stand corrected, number 27……..
They signed Kimbrel and traded for Castellanos though. What the hell else were they going to do? Theo’s done nothing but throw money at largely underwhelming players in the recent past anyhow. I might be gun shy about adding another big failure of a contract on my payroll tab also.
I feel that if Kimbrel had a proper Spring Training, he wouldn’t be as bad as he is. It’s pretty hard to ramp up baseball activities so quickly, and for a playoff contending team.
Captain Hindsight saves us again!
Go Cubs Go
Hey Theo and company,
Just a loyal Cards fan here.. Please sogn Kimbrel to a 10 year extension… We LOVE that dude!!!! Homie could serve taters up to Helen Keller lol
Carlos Martinez sucks just as bad. Enjoy Braves or Dodgers teeing off on that hot head
No, no he doesn’t. Kimbrel looks like another giant overpay.
With a full spring training in 2020, Kimbrel will be fine for 2020 and 2021. At $13m per, it will be a bargain.
But somehow Martinez is able to close out games. Kimbrel? Not so much
It’ll be the Braves teeing off.
Theo should just come back to Boston where he is truly appreciated.
I agree. Everyone has their own skill set. I’d like to see Theo return to the RS and re-establish the farm.
After he gutted the Cubs farm system?!
There is bad blood between Theo and Cubs ownership.
Theo is never returning to the Red Sox.,
Don’t worry Cards, as you prove repeatedly, this stuff isn’t repeatable. Enjoy the hit stretch and next year’s return to mediocrity.
What’s the Cubs losing streak up to now?
Bet if the game is on the line tomorrow or the series in STL the 9th doesnt belong to Kimbrel… Maybe he can be the new Gatorade guy…
I think David Ross still has that role until Maddon gets canned.
Not surprised to see Boston America rank the Red Sox farm system 22nd. At least Fangraphs knows how to properly rank farm systems
Everything has gone exactly how I predicted. Maybe Kris Byrant will now realize you never kick a sleeping dog. I think his comments last February got the whole city and team fired up last February. Don’t ever run the city of St.Louis or the Cardinals down again. He should have stayed humble. This will be yet another year where the Cardinals won’t have a chance to beat the cubs in the playoffs though.
Well since you’ve been predicting this for going on four years now, you were bound to get it right one of these years.
And I laugh when you say this is on Kris Bryant.
Just a year of closers failing to close games and feast or famine offense.
They’ll be back for another competitive race next year.
I hope you are joking. If not, this is such a bad take. Listen to what Bryant said, where he said it, and how he said it. The guy doesn’t ever say anything controversial. He’s says one thing, at a fan convention, in a comedy talk show segment and Molina takes it personal. There is no way that factored into the way the Cardinals took this division. It’s baseball. They got hot at the right time and the rest of the NL Central got cold at the same time. Also, fact is, the Cubs don’t deserve to make the playoffs. Period. But to blame it on a comment is insane to me.
I know it fired me and Yadi up. Keep your big mouth shut Bryant. You started a fire in St Louis that’s not been put out yet.
If that was suppose to be a comedy was laughing now?
You and Yadi have combined for 0.7 fWAR this year. Did it fire anyone else up?
Kris Bryant’s comments fired up the city and that’s why they are going to postseason?! You and Yadi are fired up?! This really is all comical. I bet you think wrestling is real and that strippers actually have feelings for you.
If Nero could burn Rome with a fiddle Bryant could certainly fire up St. Louis with a comment. After all, which one of the two was an actual MVP?
Haha too funny Priggs.
Everyone is laughing at you themed
St Louis is still boring
Haha. I’m sure you being fired up impacted the team. That fire will be put off in the playoffs.
Oh no, somebody said the city of St. Louis is boring. Oh wait, that’s ANYONE that’s ever been there! Dipsh**
@banesays, would it change your mind if they tell you that they are the best fans in baseball?
Don’t be so sure. STL has the better pitching in their R1 matchup vs ATL.
The Cardinals have never defeated the Cubs in the playoffs in their history. The Cubs have defeated the Cardinals in the playoffs and are undefeated against them.
Wait, so you’re saying..a $160mil payroll only bothers to perform when they feel insulted by an opposition player?
You just painted your own Team as emotional and largely incompetent.
That’s funny because I’m actively going out of my way to avoid St Louis and it’s white bread evangelical hypocrite fans before someone there pulls another Michael Brown.
All 30 Parks
Dombrowski did what he was asked to do during his time in Boston. “Prospects are cool, parades are cooler” – Casey Stern.
So give us a top and bottom five of the ballparks.
Fenway Wrigley Petco
Just wanted to see how you all think about certain topics
1 Should the team pick up the option on Phelps?
2 Is Quintana’s option still a slam dunk with his 4 something era and 1.3 something whip?
3 Should the team try to retain Hamels at all?
4 Which free agent is the most likely target of the offseason?
5 Who do you want the next manager to be or do you want Joe to stay?
6 Could we see things getting better next year or will the aging process make this team worse?
7 Are you fine with Darvish being the ace next year or should we do everything in the world to get Gerrit Cole?
1. Not at 5 million.
3. No. Pitching needs to get younger.
4. Probably a CF with good contact skills. Will probably need to trade for one.
5. I like Joe, but these players need a mgr that can kick a little butt sometimes. The new guy will be someone no one has predicted yet
6. I’m optimistic about next year.
7. Not aces, but Darvish and Hendricks are fine as top of the rotation starters. Cole will push them over the last luxury tax threshold. They won’t do that.
How would Cole push them over? They have 60+ Million coming off the books.
cubs fans are hopeless clueless.
They have some pretty big arb raises to pay out for next year. Bryant, Baez, Contreras, and Schwarber will all be paid handsomely. I wouldn’t be shocked to see one of them traded, but they’re all good guys to have at their salaries for next year.
Also, Rizzo’s option is 16.5 million. That’s quite a bit higher than the low AAV that worked in their favor for luxury tax purposes the past few years.
I think a conservative estimate is probably closer to $25-30 million to spend without going over the top luxury threshold.
Can’t blame the Ricketts for not going over the threshold. It’s a business. For better or worse, the owners are showing a united front on this matter. The players are going to have to strike to get rid of it (or see a significant increase in the limit).
Cole is a West Coast guy who probably signs with the Angels.
Nice take rayray! I pretty much agree with all these answers except for #5. I hate Joe and believe the next Cubs manager will be either David Ross or Joe Girardi. My sleeper pick would be Bruce Bochy if the Cubs throw enough money at him on a short term deal. I suspect Bochy will either retire or manage the Padres since he lives in San Diego County.
I’m thinking a no name will take over. I’m feeling something akin to a Tommy Hottovy being named the pitching coach.
1) Yes – need all the depth they can get.
2) Yes – cheap option. Worst case, you flip him for something.
4) That’s a tough one. Hopefully they re-sign big stick Nick and add at least 2-3 relievers.
5) I would like Joe to stay, but I doubt they will keep him. I think Loretta will be bumped up.
6) The team is still talented. They need to fix their pitching infrastructure and find a lead off guy.
7) That’s a tough one. At this point I say go in on Cole.
2. Up in the air
5. If Ross says no then yes
6. Better. They have a TON of money to spend.
7. Yes, build the staff with second tier starters that you need and they’ll be fine.
Kinda surprised at how people see Quintana.
I don’t see him as valuable as his option is.
I say try Chatwood at the back of the rotation next year and
use the freed up money to sign Cole.
Quintana pitched badly in September, but he’s a solid #3.
Chatwood’s value would be maximized if they made him the 5th starter. If things are not looking good for the Cubs at the trade deadline next year, it’s possible that they can get a decent prospect if Chatwood can put up an average year. Q and Lester (if he will waive his no trade) are in the same boat.
Theo and Jed have been good at cobbling together bullpens in the past. Yes. Kimbrel looks terrible now, but they are stuck with him and he has the talent to bounce back.
30 year old pitcher with a 3.87 FIP that you have the option to keep with a 10.5MM option is an absolute no brainer. He’ll get 3x that on the open market at minimum. Even if you didn’t like Quintana he has surplus value on that contract that you could easily move for something small. His 10.5 MM over one year should have no bearing on Cole anyhow.
It is a no-brainer that Jose Quintana will have his final team option picked up by the Cubs. It is not guaranteed he will remain with the team throughout the year. What is certain is that “Q” is not a $30M+ AAV starting pitcher.
2) Probably is from FO point of view. Back end of the rotation.
3) First half Hamels would be a no-brainer to retain; second half Hamels looked like a hog before the county fair – all washed up. Given his age and his track record before the Cubs got him, I would keep if he’s game for a large pay cut. Otherwise, they need to let him go and as some one noted, get younger in the rotation.
4) I would try to target Cole, but that will obviously be big time money. They have other needs – a CF or 2B who can lead off would be nice, but that may have to a trade target rather than a free agent pick up. I could go on, but if the question is one FA to target, Gerritt Cole would be my answer.
5) I think Maddon is fine with a young team, not so good with veteran players. This is a veteran team. A lot of fans want Girardi and he might be the guy, There is also a lot of sentiment for David Ross, which I understand. I can’t agree that he would necessarily be a good manager, though. Listening to his commentary on ESPN, I’m not that impressed with his insight, I don’t especially have a preference here except to note that I think Maddon’s schtick has worn out and the players need to hear a new voice.
6) Aging has apparently caught up with Lester and Hamels. The position players are still for the most part at ages where they should be coming into their best years (thinking of Bryant and Contreras at 27, and Schwarber and Baez at 26 with Rizzo just hitting 30). Still there may be some age regressions coming. I think the bigger question is which of the fan favorites they might try to move in trades to address the “broken offense” that Theo failed to fix last off season.
7) I already noted I think they should be after Cole, but so will the other free-spending clubs. I’ve not looked closely at other pending FA pitchers, but I would not be comfortable with Darvish as the “ace.”
Orioles GM Mike Elias’s ego seems to be as large as Camden Yard.
He better produce result’s quick or the Angelos boys may lose patiences. Especially as the O’s lose more fans.
Not sure losing fans is a problem for the O’s. They are already #28, and half their attendance is probably from Boston & New York.
Losing more fans is always a problem! Unless you are trying to move a franschise, then it works in your favor.
Orioles are in a complete ownership directed teardown and rebuild.
Ownership knows a complete rebuild takes at least 5 years.
Elias is not going anywhere,
Ownership hired him to tear down and rebuild.
Look someone who actually knows what a rebuild is. Thank you.
Ricketts has spent plenty of money. The failure lies 100% on lack of player development.
The failure of Kimbrel was predictable seeing as he was iffy last year and no spring training.
Yes but the Sox and specifically Dave Dombrowski got hammered for not re-upping him. Him and 5.00 era Joe Kelly.
Ya, folks tend to forget that….
I’m not sure DD is a good fit in SD, however. I mean, he’d probably trade Tatis for James Shields…..I mean, who would ever do that…..
Red Sox ownership is getting a bad reputation what with all their GMs leaving or getting tossed overboard every few years even after they win…
Please. The applications still keep coming in. Any prospective general manager would give their right nut to work for that organization.
No. The problem lies with “quick hook Joe”. Let the starting pitchers pitch. The bullpen sucks and his “sabremetrics” are WAY over used. The Cubs don’t win because of Joe, they win in spite of him. David Ross should be their next manager.
How soon the faithful forget the guy to brings a World Series Championship to the Cubs….
Gordon Wittenmeyer taking sides in the blame game!
Perhaps not the smartest thing for a team’s beat writer to side with a lame duck manager on an expiring contract and a roster of players that looks to be in for a significant shake-up this offseason. At least it guarantees he will have no problem getting a sob story or two from the ‘genius’ in the dugout when he interviews for his next managerial gig this winter. He should also fare well with any player who gets the boot this offseason.
In the meantime, good luck to Gordon in dealing with Theo and Tom from here on out. Lucky for him that he wasn’t the Tribune beat writer and that the newspaper no longer owns the ballclub. Hats off to Wittenmeyer for having balls bigger than MLB’s juiced ones in 2019!
Red Sox fire Dumbroski and not LaRussa? . Ask Diamondback fans what they think of LaRussa?
Red Sox move was very low class especially the way it was handled in the middle of the Night.
Zero respect for Red Sox Ownership.
The great big spending Theo is about to lose his job.
Please hire David Ross. He is a lifetime 230 hitter, he had a totally obscure and irrelevant baseball career and he is simply awful as a tv baseball color guy.
He is the Schwarber of the 21 st century without the power.
Who will want Schwarber, a hideous fielder, no speed, has not made a good throw in a month and can’t hit lefties.
Numbers worse than Adam Dunn first 4 years and playing with a livelier ball.
You madam are an idiot. Look at the error count on this team. Everybody’s hero Chris Bryant is tge error leader. Schwarber is much improved and since the alk stat break his B.A. is way up. He leads the team in home runs, had over 90 R.B.I.s and has done a good job against lefties for over a month now. Read the stats and watch the games D A
Theo let the sobriquet, “Boy Wonder” go to his head.
Maddon is all but gone given how poorly the Cubs have played during crunch time. Yesterday’s gut wrenching loss was the final punch in the Cubs’ gut.
For all you Cub and Brewer fans who sent me nasty replies when I said back in August that the Cardinals would win the NL Central, “How ya like me now?”.
The good news? Cubs will be back with a fury next year. Just too many good players on this team. This kid Hoerner looks like the real deal. Just gotta figure out who is better defensively at SS, him or Baez. I’d lean towards Baez and move Hoerner to 2B. Bye, bye Addison Russell. No room in the inn for you.
Finally, kudos to the Brewers for not doing an el-foldo when they lost Yelich. Okay, they haven’t exactly been pounding the ’27 Yankees and the Big Red Machine, but all ya can do is beat the guys you play that day. Looks like the Nats and Brewers will be the wild-card teams in the NL.
“Maddon is all but gone given how poorly the Cubs have played during crunch time. Yesterday’s gut wrenching loss was the final punch in the Cubs’ gut.”
The genius has been at the helm for two September collapses in a row now. I agree that he is probably gone. On the other hand, the two collapses simply underscore fundamental weaknesses in the makeup of the team:: no leadoff man – when the team had a leadoff batter it was Dexter Fowler and they won the WS – since then Maddon’s been constrained to use Zobrist, Almora, Schwarber, Rizzo, Heyward and a few others with no consistent success; mediocre bullpen; aging starting pitching at the top (Lester and Hamels); depleted minor league system; and an all or nothing feast or famine offense that has gone into famine mode down the stretch two years in a row. The whole has been less than the sum of the parts.
“The good news? Cubs will be back with a fury next year. Just too many good players on this team. This kid Hoerner looks like the real deal. Just gotta figure out who is better defensively at SS, him or Baez. I’d lean towards Baez and move Hoerner to 2B. Bye, bye Addison Russell. No room in the inn for you.”
Not so sure about Hoerner long term, but no complaints about how he jumped in and performed in the dozen or so games he’s played. I think his future is at second rather than short. It looks like the long throws are a strain for him. I agree that Russell is (should be, should have been before this season) gone – the question is whether they get find a taker. He is only 25, but now he has off-field baggage and a lot of underachievement on the field. Maybe grouped with another player or players, some team would take a flyer on the “change of scenery” theory. The front office has a lot of work to do on this team. There is a decent core group in place, but they have a lot of needs.
Theo let the sobriquet, “Boy Wonder” go to his head.
Could be better at building than maintaining. Part of his success at Boston was that he let a lot of guys walk without chasing them. Not a Cubs fan, but it feels a little more like he is chasing,
But part of this is that the Cubs are paying the price for the WSC. Lester, Heyward & Zobrist didn’t come for free. Chapman cost you Gleyber. It’s like that way for a lot of teams that go for it.
Ha ha ha ha. Go cubbies.
Ah yes, noted thought leader Gordon Wittenmeyer wrote a scathing article about Theo Epstein. Color me shocked.
Maddon, Girardi, Ross, it won’t make a difference. cubs will be even worse next year if they don’t make significant changes to the roster.
Surhoff is a known whiner. He complained and cried when he got traded to the Braves. I take everything he says with a grain of salt.
I’m probably wrong but I’m calling and hoping for a Nats vs Braves nlcs, either way I don’t really care cause I’m a Al guy.
The Nats? Pfft lol
I’ll be brief. Cubs finish 3rd like I predicted in March.
I love BJ Surhoff. However, his tenure as a “special assignment instructor” was during a time of little to no development of minor league players. The team has a terrible track record of developing (not developing to be more precise) its draft picks into quality major league players. Machado didn’t need any developing. Really, over the last 15 years the only homegrown position player they developed was Schoop and that’s being generous considering how he was only a good ML player for half a year. They ruined Arrieta, while Matusz and Britton only got good when they went to the bullpen. Several of their top draft picks never made it above AA. So if Elias needs to clean house and Surhoff got caught up in the wake, I’m sorry. Perhaps he should have gotten a phone call, but as far as I know he doesn’t have anything to point to to say he should have been spared from the purge.
Theo is no miracle worker. Signing pitchers has not worked out at all since the Lester coup. If he had re signed Arrieta it would have been as bad
Theo stripped the Cubs farm system.
Imagine if they had Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and some of the others they traded away?!
They could have signed a free agent closer instead of trading Gleyber.
Could have signed a few free agents like Dallas Keichel, Patrick Corbin etc….