Archive | December, 2011

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Cubs Prince Fielder – Cubs, Dodgers, Nats or Rangers – Wrigley Field 12/31/11

Posted on 31 December 2011 by Lou

Prince Fielder was a hot topic on ESPN Radio 1000’s Talking Baseball this morning.  Jonathan Hood thinks Prince will end up with either the Cubs or Rangers.  Bruce Levine thinks he’ll land with the Dodgers in L.A. or with the Cubs on the north side.  Rumors have it that the Nats are going to make a strong push to bring the big guy to DC.  When will we know – Scott Boras holds all the cards right now…

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Cubs Ink Reed Johnson to 1-Year Deal – Wrigley Field 12/30/11

Posted on 30 December 2011 by Lou

The Cubs inked Reed Johnson to a 1-year deal for the 2012 MLB season.  After spending the 2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson rebounded with the Cubs in 2011.  He started 49 games and racked up 266 at-bats in 111 games.  He gained significant playing time with a nice .309 batting average and an impressive .816 OPS.  Johnson’s role with the Cubs will remain as the 4th outfielder behind Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and recently acquired David DeJesus.

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Cubs Ink Manny Corpas to Bolster Bullpen – Wrigley Field 12/29/11

Posted on 29 December 2011 by Lou

The Cubs inked Manny Corpas to a 1-year split contract for the 2012 major league season.  Corpas is 29 years old and has a career 12-16 record with a 3.95 ERA.  He has 34 saves and 51 holds and helped the Colorado Rockies reach the 2007 World Series after Closer Brian Fuentes went down with a midseason injury.  Corpas had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2010 and he rehabbed his arm the entire 2011 season in the Texas Rangers organization.  He played winter ball in Panama for 2 months this fall and the Cubs will let him compete for a spot in the bullpen in 2012…

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Cubs Sign Andy Sonnanstine to 1-Year Split Contract – Wrigley Field 12/27/11

Posted on 26 December 2011 by Lou

The Cubs signed right-hander Andy Sonnanstine to a 1-year split contract this week.  While the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Sonnanstine will have the ability to earn a little more $$$ if he makes the major league roster when camp breaks in April.  Sonnanstine is 28 years old and has pitched the last 5 seasons with the Tampa Bay rays, a team with which Theo & Co. are very familiar.  Sonnanstine made just 56 appearances total during the 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons (with 8 starts).  He started 22 games in 2007, 32 games in 2008 and 18 games in 2009.  His best season was the 2008 campaign in which he helped the Rays reach the World Series and he made 2 effective post-season starts.  He finished the season 13-9 with a 4.38 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  But he has fallen off the radar screen a bit the last 2 years.  The Cubs are hoping that they can milk the most out of Sonnastine as an addition to the bullpen.  Sonnastine could also start in the case of an injury to a starting pitcher.

Not too sexy of a move, but it won’t be expensive and maybe they’ll catch lightning in a bottle with a known commodity pitching in the “weaker” National League as opposed to the American League East.

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Merry Christmas – Wrigley Field 12/25/11

Posted on 25 December 2011 by Lou

Merry C hristmas from your friends at  Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

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Cubs Trade Most Reliable Pitcher – Sean Marshall – for Reds Lefty Starter Travis Wood – Wrigley Field 12/21/11

Posted on 21 December 2011 by Lou

Let the questions start rolling.  Theo & Co. have traded their most reliable reliever, 29-year old Sean Marshall, to the Reds for lefty starter Travis Wood.  Not sure how this makes the Cubs better, but is clear that Theo & Co. value starting pitching above relief pitching and that the Cubs intend to try to acquire younger talent to continue building from the ground up.

Wood is 25 years old.  In 2011, Wood made 18 major league starts, going 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA (he also made 10 starts at Triple-A Louisville).  His rookie season was much better – in 2010, Wood made 17 starts, going 5-4 with a 3.51 ERA.  But the 200+ innings in 2010 may have taken a toll on his body thereby limiting his effectiveness in his sophomore season.

Marshall was one of the best left-handed relievers in all of baseball in 2011.  He had a nasty 2.20 ERA and his 34 holds was 2nd best in all of baseball among lefties.  The 34 holds was a Cubs record.  Marshall was set to make $3 million in 2012 and he was eligible to test the free agent market following season, so the Cubs struck first while the iron was hot.

The bullpen is going to be a wreck next year with this move.  Maybe with an improved starting pitching staff, there will be less pressure on the bullpen, but taking Marshall out of the mix leaves a huge void for that lefty set-up man.  You can’t tell me that James Russell, Scott Maine or John Gaub are going to be the guys to step right in and become reliable or dependable all of a sudden. I just don’t see it.

But I guess this is the time where we just have to trust the observations, research and decision-making of Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new.

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Anthony Rizzo on Cubs Radar? – Wrigley Field 12/19/11

Posted on 19 December 2011 by Lou

Gotta give props to Bruce Levine of  I love this story and it’s just what I’m looking for from a “Cubs insider”.  Sure I’d love for Tom Ricketts to throw a ton of money at Prince Fielder.  I think it is much more prudent than throwing that money at Albert Pujols who is 4 years older.  It still has its risks – signing anyone to an 8-10 year contract has risks – but it would probably work out pretty damn well for the Cubs in the long run.  But let’s say the Cubs “low-ball” Fielder and his agent Scott Boras and the duo decide to run to Seattle or L.A. for the bigger/longer contracts.  What should the Cubs do then.

Levine threw this little nugget out there today on his blog.  Anthony Rizzo of the San Diego Padres – one of the top power-hitting prospects in baseball today.  He plays 1st base, he’s a lefty and he’s only 22 years old.  In 2010, Rizzo hit .331 with 26 dingers and 101 RBI’s at Triple-A Tucson.  Not bad.  He logged 128 at-bats at the major league level for the Padres at the end of the season, but struggled – .141 batting average with 46 K’s.  Not good.  Sure the Cubs would have to give up some young talent to get him – maybe an Andrew Cashner or Trey McNutt, but it might be worth it.

Here’s the intriguing part of Rizzo.  Theo Epstein drafted Rizzo in the 6th round of the 2007 draft when Epstein was the Red Sox GM.  Epstein used Rizzo as a major piece for luring current Padres GM Jed Hoyer (the former Red Sox Assistant GM and now the current Cubs GM) to trade established slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox during the 2009-2010 off-season.  So both Epstein and Hoyer have intimate knowledge of Rizzo’s talents and now that the Padres traded for 1st baseman Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds in the Matt Latos deal, the Padres have a log jam at 1st base with both Alonso and Rizzo in the mix.  That doesn’t mean that the Padres will want to move either player, but it is an interesting developing situation.  It’s definitely something we should keep our eyes on IF the Cubs don’t ink Fielder…

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Prince Fielder – Mixed Signals – Wrigley Field 12/17/11

Posted on 17 December 2011 by Lou

Seems like Dale Sveum fits right in with Theo & Co.  Epstein and his entourage are known for their uncanny ability to keep things close to the vest when pursuing free agents/trades.  While ESPN 1000’s Bruce Levine and ESPN analyst Jerry Crasnick have both reported that the Cubs are actively pursuing Prince Fielder and that talks heated up a little bit this week, new Cubs Manager Dale Sveum said otherwise.  After announcing his new coaching staff, Sveum had this to say about the Cubs pursuit of Fielder: “At this point it’s a lot of media talk.  We haven’t had any talks with Prince.  I haven’t had any conversations. Again it’s a lot of media.”

That sucks.  I hope he’s wrong or I hope that he’s just playing along with the whole Theo & Co. plan to lay low in the weeds and then strike at the right time with a solid deal that Fielder and his agent Scott Boras can’t refuse.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything else.  Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Post Bid for Japanese Pitcher Yu Darvish – Wrigley Field 12/15/11

Posted on 15 December 2011 by Lou

The Cubs have confirmed that they were one of several teams to post a bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.  The 25-year old pitcher was “posted” by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and bidding closed late last night.  If the Ham Fighters accept one of the “blind” bids by next Tuesday, then MLB will announce the organization that won the bidding rights to Darvish.  Then that team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with the hurler. If no MLB deal is agreed upon, then the posting bid is returned to the MLB team.

Darvish is 6-5, 215 pounds and he has a nasty 92-95 MPH fastball with a good slider.  Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts for the Ham Fighters in 2011.

The Cubs are likely not the highest bidder for Darvish, but they figured it was worth a shot anyway.  President Theo Epstein has experience with bidding on Japanese pitchers.  The Red Sox posted a $51 million bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka before negotiating a 6-year, $52 million contract for the righty in 2006.  That deal never worked out so well for the Red Sox, so that probably had a long-lasting effect on how much Epstein would post for a Japanese player again…


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Aramis Ramirez to Sign 3-Year Deal with Rival Milwaukee Brewers – Wrigley Field 12/12/11

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Lou

Former Cubs 3rd baseman is going to sign a 3-year deal with the rival Milwaukee Brewers.  Looks like the Cubs will get to see A-Ram a lot at Miller Park and Wrigley Field during the course of the next 3 years.  Ramirez was the “top” offensive 3rd baseman in the National League in 2011.  He earned the Silver Slugger Award for his .306 batting average, 26 HR’s and 93 RBI’s.  Ramirez was excited to sign with the Brewers because he sees them as a playoff contender for the foreseeable future and he likes the idea of playing indoors at Miler Park for good chunks of the season when the weather is inclement.

The Cubs front office played the whole Ramirez departure very smartly.  By offering to pick up his $16 million mutual option for 2012 which they knew he would decline, the club saved having to pay Ramirez the $2 million buyout.  In addition, by offering Ramirez arbitration, the Cubs will also receive a “sandwich pick” in the 2012 draft since Ramirez is a Type B free agent.

It’s all good on the Cubs front these days.  There is still a LOT of work to be done, but if the Cubs become players in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, look for the Chicago’s north side to erupt in elation…

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