Archive | October, 2011

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Trey McNutt Continues Climb Up Cubs Pitching Ladder – Wrigley Field 10/10/11

Posted on 10 October 2011 by Lou

Trey McNutt continues to climb up the Cubs pitching ranks – let’s hope we see him soon at the MLB level.  McNutt looks to be a steal as the 980th pick in the 2009 Draft – in the 32nd round.  McNutt sported a nice 2.34 in his 1st 8 starts at Double-A Tennessee this season.  But he injured his ribs in an in-game collision after tossing 7 shutout innings in a game on May 28th and after that, he never had the same “stuff” the rest of the way.  The Cubs proceeded cautiously with McNutt and he finished the season with a 5-6 record and 4.55 ERA in 22 starts.  He was named a mid-season All-Star of the Southern League and he will continue to pitch some this fall in the Arizona Fall League.  He pitched 3 perfect innings in his 1st appearance for the Mesa Solar Sox on Friday, retiring all 9 batters that he faced.

McNutt had this to say about his roller-coaster ride of a season: “I started the season strong. I had the injury at the end of May that carried into the 1st week of June and it was hard for me to get going, to get sharp again.  The second half, it just wasn’t a good half.  I was trying to take something positive from it.  The adversity was probably the best thing for me… I just have to get back on track, and that’s the reason I’m here.”

We’ll keep you posted with how other Cubs prospects are doing from time to time here at MyCubsToday.com…

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3rd Base Up For Grabs in 2012 – Wrigley Field 10/7/11

Posted on 07 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs will likely be looking for a new 3rd baseman for the 2012 MLB season and beyond.  Aramis Ramirez declined his player option for $16 million for the 2012 MLB season.  Ramirez is looking for a long-term deal and at the age of 33, the Cubs will not be a bidder in that war.  Ramirez hit .306 with 26 HR’s and 93 RBI’s in one of the worst offenses in all of baseball.  His 80 runs scored and .361 on-base percentage make him an attractive player, but if you watch him play everyday, you know that his career is on the decline.  His fielding has deteriorated over the years and he’s just not the player that the Cubs want to waste extra money on, especially since they are still strapped with several other “bad” contracts that they can’t wait to get “off the books” (see Alfonso Soriano/Carlos Zambrano).

That leaves the Cubs with a battle between two prospects – DJ LeMahieu and Josh Vitters.  LaMahieu played in 37 games for the Cubs this past season, hitting .250 with 4 RBI’s and 2 doubles.  He struck out 12 times while walking only once in 60 at-bats (good for a .262 on-base percentage).  Not great.  Vitters had a good minor league season, but is still considered to be a year or two away because of past injury issues.  At Double-A Tennessee, Vitters had a .283 batting average, he hit 14 HR’s and 28 doubles and he drove in 81 runs.  Vitters was the 3rd overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player draft and the Cubs would like him to get some time at the major league level before they commit to him as the long-term 3rd baseman of the future.  He had 2 HR’s in his 1st game of the AFL this October and looks to use a good fall to get ready for a productive 2012 spring training with the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new on the 3rd base position front.

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No News on GM Front, Epstein, Friedman in Mix – Wrigley Field 10/5/11

Posted on 05 October 2011 by Lou

This is what we know – Tom Ricketts has asked for permission to speak with Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein about the Cubs vacant GM position.  No one from the Red Sox ownership triumvirate of John Henry, Tom Werner or Larry Lucchino have commented on the request.  Epstein himself has declined any comment as well.  Red Sox ownership and Epstein continue to make statements about their own search for the new manager of the Red Sox for the 2012 MLB season and beyond, so it’s unclear when they will respond to Ricketts.  Maybe they already have and we just don’t know about it yet.

If the Red Sox were to grant Epstein permission to talk to the Cubs, it could be made with a stipulation that the Cubs make some compensation to the Red Sox if he does take a job with the Cubs.  Rumors that the Red Sox want something in return for allowing the Cubs to speak with Epstein are blown out of proportion.  In my opinion, it seems unlikely that Theo would want to leave his hometown to take over a Cubs roster that looks like the glorified roster of a good varsity team.  But the Cubs could offer Epstein a position similar to that of Dave Dombroski with the Detroit Tigers where Epstein would control all baseball decisions as the GM and also serve as a quasi-team-president.  Epstein is simply the GM with the Red Sox.  Epstein brought 2 World Series titles to Boston after an 86-year drought.  If he did the same for the Cubs in Chicago, he would go down as one of the greatest modern-day GM’s.

In addition to Epstein, Andrew Friedman’s name has popped up as a baseball man at the top of Ricketts’ list.  The Rays have a small market payroll, yet Friedman continues to pull together teams that have made the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 seasons.  Before the end of the Rays playoff run to the Rangers, Friedman made these comments: “Right now, it’s almost embarrassing for the topic of conversation to be about me and not on our players, not on what we’ve accomplished over the last four years, even more specifically over the last month or the last two innings of Wednesday’s game (a win over the Yankees that propelled the Rays into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season)… I understand it goes with the territory, and at the end of the season, when we’re done playing, it’s obviously something I’ll address.  But right now, all of my focus is on this team.” Now that the Rangers have eliminated the Rays, it will be interesting to see what Friedman has to say about the Cubs vacant GM position.

The Cubs would be smart to make a hard play for both Friedman and Epstein, both of whom have shown that they know how to build a team to win and win now.  Throw in the fact that each team is in the division with the unlimited payroll of the New York Yankees and that they still have what it takes to win gives another indication that both of these guys would be great fits to work with Ricketts to finally make the Cubs relevant again…

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Carlos Zambrano to Join Forces with Ozzie Guillen in Miami? Wrigley Field 10/3/11

Posted on 03 October 2011 by Lou

It’s probably just a pipe dream, but could Carlos Zambrano end up playing for good friend Manager Ozzie Guillen with the Marlins in Miami?  How great would that be, even if the Cubs had to eat a good chunk (50%) of the $18.5 million owed to him for the 2012 MLB season?!

The Chicago White Sox and Manager Ozzie Guillen “amicably” parted ways on the 3rd to last game of the 2011 season last week in Chicago.  Guillen jumped ship with 1 year remaining on his contract to take over the reins of the Florida Marlins in a new 4-year deal.  Several players would love to play for Ozzie and it looks like good friend Carlos Zambrano is one of them.  Guillen and Zambrano have always been good friends.  When Zambrano started a fight with Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the Cubs dugout after 1 disastrous inning of a game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in 2010, the Cubs asked Zambrano to take a leave from the team and undergo anger management treatment.  Later that night after the game, Zambrano wasn’t seen out at a Chicago restaurant with any members of the Cubs organization – instead, he was out to dinner with Ozzie to discuss his state of mind and get some much-needed advice from someone he trusted as a close friend.

Zambrano angered Cubs brass and teammates again this season when he walked out of the clubhouse mid-game in Atlanta during a bad outing.  He did not tell anyone that he was leaving and he later threatened retirement.  That final outburst forced the Cubs to place Zambrano on the disqualified list where he was not paid for the rest of the season.  It is clear that he won’t be back with the Cubs in 2012, but the Cubs need to find someone willing to take on their basket case.  The Marlins do need starting pitching, but they will only take someone like Zambrano if the Cubs eat a big chunk of his salary.  Ozzie and Zambrano have talked about the move and both men seemed very interested in the opportunity.

Zambrano is 30-years old and he made 24 starts for the Cubs this past season.  He went 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 145+ innings pitched.

Moving Zambrano somewhere will be a top priority for the Cubs new General Manager…

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Speculation Starts Now – What Will 2012 Cubs Look Like? – Wrigley Field 10/1/11

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Lou

The speculation starts now as Cubs fans eagerly await Owner Tom Ricketts’ next moves for the Cubs organization.  First up will be the hiring of a new General Manager.  Then who knows what else?  Surprisingly, overpaid outfielder Alfonso Soriano summed it up best when he cleared out his locker room last week – “Two things can happen.  It can change, or stay the way it is now.  I don’t know what they want to do.  We don’t have control of that.  We can only play the game and do our job.  The owners have the control.  We’d like to stay together, but who knows?” Amen to that.

Changes will have to be made obviously, but given the financial situation with a few long-term deals still hampering the ability of any GM to make necessary trades/free agent signings, only so much can be done.  With the firing of Red Sox Manager Terry Francona in Boston, there are some rumors floating around that long-time GM Theo Epstein could also be looking for a change of scenery.  The Cubs would need to obtain permission from the Red Sox in order to speak with Epstein and they would be foolish not to ask.  What’s the worst that Red Sox barss can say, no?  Let’s hope Ricketts & Co. have the common sense to explore ALL options, even Epstein.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on the GM front and the rest of the roster.  Aramis Ramirez has a $16 million option for the 2012 season, but has already indicated that he will explore the free agent market to see if he can nab one final lucrative long-term deal.  Ryan Dempster and the Cubs also have a mutual option that can be exercised for the 2012 MLB season, so we’ll have to see what happens there.  Fun, fun, fun…

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