Archive | November, 2011

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Cubs Sign David DeJesus to Slide Into Right Field Opening – Wrigley Field 11/30/11

Posted on 30 November 2011 by Lou

Deal #1 Done – the Cubs sign David DeJesus to a “cheap” 2-year deal for $8.5 million.  The Cubs have a club option for $6.5 million for the 2014 MLB season, but they can also buy out the contract for $1.5 million.  DeJesus is coming off his worst season in the big leagues – struggling to a .240 batting average in 131 games (442 at-bats) with the Oakland A’s.  DeJesus’ best season was in 2008 when he hit .307 with a .366 on-base percentage.  He hit 12 home runs that season and drove in 73 runs.  He hit 13 home runs with 71 RBI’s and a .281 batting average in 2009, but battled through injuries in 2010 – playing in only 91 games.

The Cubs like the qualities that DeJesus brings to the table, even if he has lost some of the “pop” in his bat.  GM Jed Hoyer had this to say about DeJesus: “We’re very excited to sign David.  He’s a player who does a lot of things very well, including runnig the bases and getting on base.  And he doesn’t strike out very much.  These are all areas we wanted to improve on going into next year…It’s early, but we see him playing right field.  He has the ability to play all the positions but he’s playing the corner outfield spots.”

I like this move.  He’s cheap compared to the freaking $12 million we’ve been paying to Kosuke Fukudome each of the last 4 seasons.  And he should provide more output than Tyler Colvin at this point (let’s hope).

Now we just need to get our Christmas/Chanukah present a little early when we hear about the miracle signing of Prince Fielder to a long-term deal…

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Is Cubs Interest in Pujols Genuine? – Wrigley Field 11/29/11

Posted on 29 November 2011 by Lou

Numerous reports have confirmed that the Cubs have contacted Albert Pujols’ agent regarding the big slugger.  While some Cubs fans seem overly excited about the prospects about landing the best hitter in baseball, I have a feeling that this is a HUGE ploy by Theo & Co.  Knowing how the Cubs have been hampered by Alfonso Soriano’s 8-year deal and knowing how Theo & Co. rarely enter into a bad “long-term” deal (the 7-year, $142 million Carl Crawford notwithstanding), the Cubs won’t make this deal.  You heard it hear first.  8, 9, 10 years for a 32-year old 1st baseman entering the twilight of his career?  What happens in Year 6, when Albert Pujols enters the year at 37 years of age and you still owe him a whopping $25-30 million a year for 5 more years?!  That’s exactly what we’ve been doing with Soriano for the last 2 years and we still have 3 more years left on his deal.  Now sure, Pujols is MUCH MORE productive than Soriano, but it still does not justify mortgaging the club again when we’re so close to getting out from the Soriano deal in another year or two.

So why are the rumors spreading about the Cubs making a play for Pujols?  There are several reasons:

1.  It drives the price up on the Pujols sweepstakes, maybe knocking him out of the Cardinals price range and sending him to the NL East Marlins or Nationals or the American League with the Texas Rangers or Anaheim Angels.  That weakens the Cardinals big time with a move like that.

2.  With the Yankees (Mark Teixeira) and Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez) “probably” out of the mix for Pujols or Prince Fielder (you can never say never with either team however), it is plausible that the Cubs could land either player for a “steal of a deal” without the 2 highest payroll teams driving up the price further.  So it is “conceivable” that the Cubs would make a play for Pujols.

3. It also hides your cards if your real intent is to go hard for the younger (Fielder is only 27 years old) 1st baseman.  Epstein and Fielder’s agent Scott Boras have been known to get deals done and what better way to swoop in and make him an offer he can’t refuse than to let everybody think you’re going after Pujols.  New skipper Dale Sveum was Fielder’s hitting coach in Milwaukee and the 2 have a good working relationship.  With tons of money coming off of the books the next year, Theo & Co. can also make a commitment to Fielder that in addition to building from within, the Cubs will also have much more flexibility to add pieces from the outside through free agency after the 2012 season.  With Theo & Co.’s track record, Fielder has to be reassured that the Cubs will be competitive just about every season once they get things settled.

Maybe I’m just hoping for the best-case ideal scenario – a 1-2-3 combo of Brett Jackson, Starlin Castro and Fielder as the future of a potent offensive lineup – but don’t surprised if Theo & Co. pull off this miracle signing within the next week.  Imagine the buzz on the north side then…

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Cubs Offer Arbitration to Aramis Ramirez & Carlos Pena – Wrigley Field 11/28/11

Posted on 28 November 2011 by Lou

Looks like I didn’t miss too much while I was on vacation last week – the Cubs offered Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena arbitration before the required deadline – yippee!

Ramirez is clearly gone, so I guess it is a good move.  Ramirez is a Type B Free Agent, so if he signs with a different team this winter, the Cubs will get a sandwich pick in the June amateur draft from the team that signs him.  There is little to no chance that Ramirez accepts arbitration before the December 7th deadline since he is the top 3rd baseman free agent on the market, so it looks like the Cubs will get a sandwich pick next year.  If for some odd reason he did go to arbitration he would likely get somewhere around $17-18 million for the season.

Pena, on the other hand, is a little bit trickier.  The Cubs paid Pena $10 million for his services in 2011.  Pena led the team with 28 home runs, and while he is looking for a long-term deal like Ramirez, there may not be too many clubs out there looking to sign the 33-year old long-term.  Pena could go to St. Louis or Milwaukee if Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder depart for greener pastures.  The Cubs will likely be in the mix for Fielder, especially with about $50 million coming off the books with the departures of Ramirez, Pena, Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and John Grabow and a potential trade of Carlos Zambrano which will free up cash after the 2012 MLB season ends.

The Cubs did not offer arbitration to Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, Ramon Ortiz, Rodrigo Lopez or Grabow.  I bet Wood comes back on a one-year basis for as long as he wants to pitch.  Not so sure about any of the other guys, but I doubt it given the new management in place.

Let’s hope Theo, Jed and Dale are all hunkered down figuring out the next step in the process…

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Happy Thanksgiving From Your Friends At MyCubsToday.com – Wrigley Field 11/24/11

Posted on 24 November 2011 by Lou

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at MyCubsToday.com!  We hope you and your family have a happy and safe holiday!

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Theo, Jed, Cubs Introduce Dale Sveum as New Skipper – Wrigley Field – 11/18/11

Posted on 18 November 2011 by Lou

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer introduced introduced Dale Sveum as the new Cubs Manager on Friday at Wrigley Field.  Sveum – the Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach for the last 3 seasons – seems up for the challenge to lead the 71-91 Cubs back to relevancy.  Deemed to be a “baseball guy” with great personal skills, Sveum is excited to take over the job – “The past is the past no matter where you are.  You’re only as good as you are right now.  It doesn’t really matter what happened in the past… When it came down to it, this was a better fit and the arrow stopped on the Chicago Cubs.”

Epstein praised Sveum in broad terms: “He knows the game inside and out. He has a great combination of intelligence and intuition both between the lines and in the clubhouse. Next is the rare ability to hold players accountable, while also earning their respect and admiration. Dale demands a lot of his players but is held in universally high regard by them. That’s a tough thing to pull off.”

Gotta love it – now let’s see what they can pull off in 2012…

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Cubs to Hire Dale Sveum as New Skipper – Wrigley Field 11/17/11

Posted on 17 November 2011 by Lou

It’s official – Dale Sveum will be the news Cubs manager.  The 48-year old long-time coach will get his first full-time gig as a major league manager with the Cubs. Sveum has served as an interim manager, a bench coach, a hitting coach and a 3rd base coach and will get to show off his skills on the north side in 2012.

We’ll have more on this breaking news following the scheduled Wrigley Field news conference on Friday morning.

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Cubs, Sveum Will Talk Again at GM Meetings – Wrigley Field 11/15/11

Posted on 15 November 2011 by Lou

The Cubs and Dale Sveum will have another chance to discuss the Cubs managerial vacancy this week at the GM Meetings in Milwaukee.  The Red Sox plan to interview Sveum again and since Sveum will be there, the Cubs have decided to do it too.  The Cubs have interviewed 5 people for the job – Pete Mackanin, Sveum, Mike Maddux and Sandy Alomar, Jr. at Wrigley Field & DeMarlo Hale (the current Red Sox bench coach) over the phone.  Cubs President Theo Epstein has also had numerous conversations with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, but it is unclear how “in play” Francona is at this stage of the game.  Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have indicated that they will have further follow-up discussions with all candidates and then present Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and his family with their final choice.  A decision could come later this week or early next week.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear any rumors…

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Cubs Hire Shiraz Rehman as Assistant to General Manager Jed Hoyer – Wrigley Field 11/14/11

Posted on 14 November 2011 by Lou

The Cubs announced the hiring of Shiraz Rehman as GM Jed Hoyer’s new Assistant.  Rehman worked as an intern for the Boston Red Sox in 2005 and he has worked in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for the past 6 seasons.  His most recent position with the DBacks was Director of Player Personnel.  Rehman will help on potential player acquisitions and provide scouting, financial and statistical information support for potential trades and player evaluations.  Rehman was a 4-year starting shortstop for McGill University and also has his MBA from Columbia Business School.  The guy is an athlete and he’s smart – not a bad combo.  The Cubs keep adding to the front office, so it will be nice to see some creativity for a change on the north side.  I cannot wait to see what this team looks like in 3-5 years – it should be a while new machine by then.  Yippee!

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Cubs Interview Sandy Alomar, Jr. – Wrigley Field 11/11/11

Posted on 11 November 2011 by Lou

The Cubs interviewed Sandy Alomar, Jr. for thier open manager position today.  GM Jed Hoyer announced that there is no clear front-runner for the job: “It’s still totally open for debate.  We are going to get back and have some discussions and then probably have some follow-up conversations.  We spent a lot of time with these candidates. Now we can think about some follow-up questions… We feel really good about the four guys we brought in.  We had four very good interviewees.  I wouldn’t rule out an additional candidate, but it’s not a certainty either.”

Hoyer could be alluding to former Red Sox manager Terry Francona.  Cubs President Theo Epstein and Francona are still in contact and Francona has indicated that he is interested in the Cubs job.  The Cubs have acknowledged that a long, formal interview with Francona would not be needed since Epstein and Hoyer are both so familiar with Francona and his coaching style/abilities.

Alomar, Jr. was thrilled with the Cubs interview process: “They are very thorough with everything. They don’t leave any stone unturned. Yhey go through every situation in the game. They are very professional about it. They are very bright about what they do. I had an opportunity to have an interview with Toronto last year. That was pretty good. But these guys take it to another level. It’s kind of like what you see Jon Gruden doing with NFL quarterbacks but more thorough. Kind of interesting…  It was fun because they put you in managerial positions in order to make decisions fast. They see how you incorporate players you have on your bench and how you deal with pitchers you would have getting ready in those situations. Then they show you the outcome of the plays. I don’t want to tell everything about how they do the interview but it was pretty interesting and very exciting.”

Looks like the leg work is almost over.  Now it’s decision time.  Bring it on…

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Cubs Interview Mike Maddux Today – Wrigley Field 11/9/11

Posted on 09 November 2011 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs interviewed candidate #3 – Mike Maddux – today at Wrigley Field.  His “family concerns” might put him at a disadvantage (he dropped out of the Red Sox job earlier this week but decided to interview with the Cubs despite acknowledging that moving his family another time is a big concern of his).  Maddux was honored to be considered by the Cubs and was up for the challenge – “It’s kind of cool to be considered.  I enjoyed it, man.  Pretty neat.  Something I’ve never done before, so it was a learning experience on both ends.  I think I got to know them and they got to know me, see what our values are.  We share a lot of values, share passion.  We share the inner drive to win.”  Maddux also went on to say that if Carlos Zambrano were still on the Cubs roster come spring training, he might “pick him up and just burp him” – good luck with that one, Mike.

Maddux also said that you have to put your players in the right position to win and remember that it is all still a game – “Maybe it’s a message, maybe it’s giving guys the opportunity to perform, maybe giving them opportunity to fail.  Maybe that’s it too.  You don’t put the weight of the world on your shoulders.  You encourage guys. It’s not life or death.  It’s win or lose, but it’s not life or death.  And keep it that way.”

It seems like he may have been a little over his head to be considered for the managerial post, but he is clearly a smart guy and will likely manage at some point in his career.  But based on what I’ve heard, I like the sound of Pete Mackanin or Dale Sveum right now to lead the Cubs in 2012…

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