Archive | Chicago Cubs Players

Tags: , , ,

Not the Way Theo & Co. Drew It Up…

Posted on 17 November 2014 by Lou

Theo_Epstein

Theo & Co. and the Cubs thought that maybe they had caught the rest of the league by surprise with a “big trade” late Sunday afternoon.  The Cubs dealt Arodys Vizcaino back to the Atlanta Braves (they had acquired him just a few months after Tommy John surgery during the 2012 trade deadline for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson) for 2nd baseman Tommy La Stella.  I have my issues with this trade for a few reasons (see below), but was glad that they were being proactive before the “big moves” this winter.

I was still licking my chops for the big signings of Russell Martin and Jon Lester sometime this week and maybe even a bigger splash with a blockbuster trade for a Cole Hamels, Giancarlo Stanton or a Jason Heyward.

But then all hell broke loose on Monday.  The Braves announced that they had traded Heyward to our hated rivals — the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cards had had to give up Shelby Miller for Heyward, but it was still like getting stabbed in the back.

Then the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they had enticed “our” catcher, Canadian Russell Martin up across the border with the promise of a 5th guaranteed year and a whopping $82 million. Ouch.  Guess that was too rich for our blood.

Now our big trade for uber-on-base guy La Stella isn’t even one of the Top 20 ESPN MLB stories anymore…

That leads me back to my issues with the La Stella trade.  Don’t we have enough middle infielders already — Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Arismendy Alcantara?  Why do we need another guy there?  Sure I love his on-base percentage numbers, but his numbers dipped big time after teams had time to really scout him.  In his 1st 46 games in the majors last season, La Stella hit .297 with a .747 OPS.  But check out what happened in his final 47 games of the season — .201 batting average with a .534 OPS.  Not good.

Couple that with giving up one of our “power arms” who really helped solidify our bullpen in 2014, this trade concerns me.  Theo & Co. have raved up Vizcaino and how good he looked in Triple-A in 2014 and how close he was to really contributing at the big league level.  You’re gonna give that up for a utility infielder who isn’t gonna play everyday?  No way.

This wreaks of a trade which leads to another trade.  Maybe Baez or Alcantara or both are going to be moved in order to acquire a Cole Hamels, a Jordan Zimmerman or a Zach Wheeler.  Having La Stella step in as your everyday 2nd baseman is a conservative, stable move, full well knowing that you’ll have Kris Bryant up pretty soon in April to bolster your offense.

Guess we’ll have to be patient and see what happens.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks…

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

We’re Back! Cubs Ready To Contend In 2015…

Posted on 03 November 2014 by Lou

Theo_Epstein

Well, here we go again.  It’s been just shy of 2 years — but I’m finally ready to jump back on that “Cubs-writing horse” again.

At least my last post back on December 20th, 2012 –YES 2012! — was pretty much right on.  The Cubs were on the verge of signing Edwin Jackson to a 4-year, $52 million deal.  I was besides myself.  The Cubs had lost 91 games in 2011 and then 101 games in 2012.  Theo & Co. were preaching a good old-fashioned rebuild.  They lost out on the Anibel Sanchez sweepstakes to the more competitive Detroit Tigers.  Fine I get it – you swing and missed on a solid starter.  But did that mean you had to go sign Edwin Jackson to a bad contract?! Hell No!  But they did anyway. And as I predicted, it was a bad move (in 2013, Jackson went 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA and 1.46 WHIP and in 2014, Jackson went 6-15 with a 6.33 ERA and 1.64 WHIP). And that was it – I could not bear to continue to vent about this team any longer.

But 683 days later, I have finally put that all behind me.  Cubby Blue forever, right?  It hasn’t been easy, but I feel like Theo & Co. are back on course.  Theo acknowledged his Jackson-signing-mistake and vowed never to make a rash decision like that, just to make a move that might placate the fan base.

Sure the Cubs lost 96 games in 2013.  But they continued the re-build the right way with key trades to acquire young talent (Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, etc,).  After the 2013 season, , the Cubs swung and missed on the Tanaka sweepstakes, but they learned from their Edwin Jackson mess and stayed true to the re-build.  They didn’t go take their Tanaka money and spent it on one or 2 lower tier players.  They kept it for a rainy day (see “rainy day” signing of Joe Maddon below).

Sure the Cubs lost 89 games in 2014.  But they continued the re-build the right way with key trades to acquire young talent (Addison Russell, Bill McKinney, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, etc.).  There was a different vibe in the clubhouse and in Wrigley Field, as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo returned to All-Star form.  They were as excited as heck when they won, and never sank too low when they lost.  Manager Rick Renteria wasn’t perfect, but he had a great attitude for the task at hand.  And that positive attitude resonated with his players.  And when Tampa Rays manager Joe Maddon opted out of his contract just a little over a week ago, the Cubs had the perfect chance to land a manager who could lead them all the way back to contention.  Sure it may not have been the most popular move in some circles, but Theo had a decision to make for the “organization” not just for “one player” or “one coach” or “one executive” or “one fan” like me.  And if landing one of the best managers in baseball meant you had to fire a respected manager like Renteria, then it had to be done for the good of the organization.

So it all comes full circle from the whole Edwin Jackson signing debacle.

It reminded Theo & Co. that one move was not going to turn the Cubs into perennial World Series front-runners.

It reminded Theo & Co. that they needed to stay true to a well-formulated plan.

It reminded Theo & Co. that not all of their moves were going to be popular with the team or with the fans.  Fans were mad when the Cubs traded away Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel (and the list could go on and on).  But look where they are now because Theo & Co. made those unpopular trades.

Some fans are mad that they sought another manager even when Rick Renteria was still under contract.  Some fans are mad that they are paying $25 million over 5 years to Joe Maddon when they think the Cubs should be paying more money to players that actually perform on the field.  But let’s look at that $25 million as 1 year of the Tanaka deal that never happened thereby giving Theo & Co. the financial means necessary to land a manager with the caliber of Maddon without comprising the pool of funds that can still be used to land productive players on the field.

We will have to see how the 2014 off-season moves all shake out, but I have a pretty good feeling that the number of losses in 2015 will be considerably less than the 89 losses in 2014.  And given my perfect prediction on how the whole Edwin Jackson signing would turn out, you can take that to the bank…

Joe_Maddon

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

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…

Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Cubs Exercise Aramis Ramirez Club Option for 2012 – Wrigley Field 10/31/11

Posted on 31 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs have exercised the $16 million club option for Aramis Ramirez for the 2012 MLB season.  Aramis Ramirez has already notified the Cubs that he plans to entertain free agent offers for the first time in his career, so the move was more of a smart procedural move by Theo & Co.  The Cubs either had to pick up the option or buy Ramirez out for $2 million.  By exercising the option, the Cubs would have had to offer Ramirez arbitration.  But Ramirez has chosen to opt out of the option and seek a long-term deal from another team.  The move saves the Cubs $2 million and also brings them a 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft from the team who signs Ramirez in free agency.  The wheels to re-build the organization from the ground up are already churning.

Ramirez’s agent Paul Kinzer had this to say about Ramirez’s departure from Chicago: “We are very sorry that this era is coming to the end for Aramis and the Cubs.  He loves Chicago and the fans.  They’ve been great to him, but at this point it’s better that we check out the market and address free agency… At this point, Aramis is looking for a multiyear deal and looking forward to being a free agent for the first time in his career.”

Ramirez hit only .241 in 2010 due to injuries, but he bounced back with a solid 2011 campaign.  He led the Cubs with his 93 RBI’s, .871 OPS and extra-base hits. and he was just one point behind Starlin Castro’s team-leading .307 batting average.

Now it’s up to Theo & Co. to get creative with the Cubs 3rd base hole for next year.  Can’t wait to see these guys in action…

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

Hoyer, McLeod Set To Join Cubs Front Office – Wrigley Field 10/28/11

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs plan to hire Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod to their front office to join Team President Theo Epstein.  The trio worked together in the organization during the successful run from 2004-2008 when the Red Sox won 2 World Series titles.  Since both executives are under contract with the San Diego Padres, the Cubs will send a player to be named later as compensation for the deal.

Jed Hoyer will serve as Executive Vice President / General Manager (alongside) Theo Epstein.  McLeod will serve as the head of scouting and player development.  The Cubs just gave Oneri Fleita a new 4-year contract as the director of player development, so he will report to McLeod.  Current scouting director Tim Wilken will also report to McLeod.  Fleita and Wilken have excellent reputations thoughout all of baseball, so having 5 top-notch executives in one front office makes the Cubs a very formidable team “behind the scenes”.

The Cubs will hold a press conference on Monday to make the hirings official.  The rumor is that Randy Bush – who has been serving as the team’s interim GM since Jim Hendry’s firing this summer – will no longer serve in any capacity for the Cubs in the future.

The pieces keep falling into place.  Now that the World Series is almost over, it will be time for Theo, Jed & Co. to get moving on formulating a game plan for what they want to do with Manager Mike Quade and free agents like Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Pena.  The front office will also have to decide what to do with Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

Will Theo Epstein Keep Manager Mike Quade? Wrigley Field 10/26/11

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Lou

Will new President Theo Epstein keep Manager Mike Quade in the mix in 2012?  It is a great question and Epstein didn’t show his hand during several radio station interviews this morning, including an interview with Waddle and Silvy on ESPN Radio 1000 Chicago.  Epstein had this to say about the Cubs current manager who still has 1 year left on his contract through the 2012 MLB season: “I’ve already had a couple of nice phone conversations with Mike Quade.  We have plans to meet in person sometime over the next week… Mike seems like a great guy and he has developed a great reputation over many decades in the game.  I look forward to sitting down with him in person as a first step, sharing with him my vision for the organization. I’d like to hear his vision for the organization.”

It’s kind of a difficult situation for both Epstein and Quade.  Let’s face it, the Cubs are not going to be good in 2012, even with Theo at the helm.  So if Epstein fires Quade and brings in a new manager (say Ryne Sandberg), when the Cubs have another awful start to the season (which they likely will), you’d hate to have the fan base start questioning Epstein and the new manager right off the bat.  By leaving Quade in place, when the Cubs start bad, you can always blame Quade and make a move to switch managers mid-season.  That new manager can either be an interim manager to finish the season or the guy you want to go to to lead the team in the future.  The one “X” factor is what if the Cubs actually have a decent season – then what do you do with Quade.  But I guess I’d rather have it that way.  It doesn’t mean you have to stick with Quade after the 2012 MLB season.  It just means you bring in someone else who will raise the bar even higher for years to come (similar to what the Blackhawks did when they fired Dennis Savard after a few games at the start of the 2009-2010 NHL season and brought in Joel Quinneville who eventually led the Hawks to the Stanley Cup Trophy later that season).

In any event, we should know pretty soon whether or not Quade will be back – we’ll keep you posted…

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

Cubs Introduce Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations – Wrigley Field 10/25/11

Posted on 25 October 2011 by Lou

Theo Epstein is the Cubs new “savior” – sort of.  Epstein will serve as the Cubs President of Baseball Operations under a 5-year deal that will pay him just under $20 million.  Theo brought the Red Sox 2 World Series titles during his tenure as Red Sox GM and Tom Ricketts and Cubs fans all over the world hope that he do the same for the north siders.  Theo is clearly talented and he gets it, having experienced the same pain and agony that Cubs fans have felt for 103 years and counting.  Theo said all the right things during his Tuesday press conference – here are a few snippets of some great lines from the day:

“To me, baseball is better with tradition, baseball is better with history, baseball is better with fans who care, baseball is better in ballparks like this, baseball is better during the day. And baseball is, best of all, when you win.”

“I firmly believe that we can preserve the things that make the Cubs so special and over time build a consistent winner, a team that will be playing baseball in October consistently and a team that will ultimately win the World Series.”

“I’ve waited a few weeks to say this, but it truly feels great to be a Cub today.”

“I don’t believe in curses, (and) I guess I played a small part in proving they don’t exist, from a baseball standpoint.  I do think we can be honest and upfront that certain organizations haven’t gotten the job done. That’s the approach we took in Boston. We identified certain things that we hadn’t been doing well, that might have gotten in the way of a World Series, and eradicated them. That’s what we’ll do here.”

And when asked why he thinks he can bring a championship to the Cubs even though no one else has been able to do that for 100+ years, you have to love his confidence, focus and tenacity:  “When I got to Boston they hadn’t won in 86 years. We didn’t run from that challenge. We embraced it.  We decided the way to attack it was to build the best baseball operation that we could, to try to establish a winning culture, to work as hard as possible and to bring in players who care more about each other and more about winning than the people around them thought or the external expectations, the external mindset. That’s something that is going to be important to us here as well.  We’re going to build the best baseball operation we can. We’re going to change the culture. Our players are going to change the culture along with us in the major league clubhouse. We’re going to make building a foundation for sustained success a priority. That will lead to playing October baseball more often than not. Once you get in in October there’s a legitimate chance to win the World Series.”

San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer and Assistant GM Jason McLeod have also been in Chicago the last 3 days working out their deals and ESPN’s Bruce Levine anticipates that we will have an announcement on their hires within the week.

Gotta love it – obviously there are NO guarantees, but when you put the right people in charge, and those people know how to put the right pieces together, you have a great chance to succeed year in and year out.  It may take 2, 3 or even 5 years, but if they do build another “powerhouse” organization in Chicago with a team that wins every season and with a team that competes for the post-season each and every season, Cubs fans will have a lot to cheer about.  And who knows, maybe they’ll even get to hoist that World Series trophy at Wrigley Field…

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s Official – Tom Ricketts Hires Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations – Wrigley Field 10/22/11

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Lou

It’s official – Tom Ricketts and the Cubs have hired Theo Epstein as their new President of Baseball Operations.  MLB Commissioner Bud Selig convinced the teams to make the announcement on Tuesday (a World Series off day) and finalize the compensation to allow Epstein out of his last year as Red Sox GM at a later date.  After aiming “high” by asking for Starlin Castro and then Matt Garza, and then asking the Cubs to take on the remaining 3 years of John Lackey’s $82.5 contract, the Red Sox agreed to settle for “minor league prospects” as compensation. The Red Sox and Cubs spent a week haggling over players until they agreed upon a process to select the players to be traded from the Cubs to the Red Sox to complete the deal.  What is known is that the Cubs top 3 prospects – Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt and Matt Szczur will not be part of the deal.

The Cubs have scheduled a press conference for  Tuesday to make the announcement.  After the World Series ends, the Cubs will then announce that San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer will come to the Cubs to serve as GM under Epstein.  Padres Assistant GM Jason McLeod – a top scout under Epstein and  Hoyer with the Red Sox – will also re-unite with the duo in Chicago and serve as Assistant GM to Hoyer.

This is pretty incredible – the Cubs who have had one of the smallest baseball executive offices in all of baseball with GM Jim Hendry and Assistant GM Randy Bush will now become one of the premiere offices in all of baseball.  These guys all have a proven track record, so let’s hope that they can get it done on the North Side in the next few years.

Good work Tom – let’s hope we see some immediate improvement over the next few seasons…

Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Is No News Good News – Still Waiting for Completion of Epstein Hire? – Wrigley Field 10/21/11

Posted on 21 October 2011 by Lou

We’re still waiting to hear that the Cubs and Red Sox have agreed upon the “compensation issue” to complete the Cubs hiring of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein as their new President of Baseball Operations.  We all thought it would be today – a World Series off-day – but it looks like it is going to drag on into next week.  We’re not sure if the teams have agreed upon the Cubs prospects to be dealt to the Red Sox in exchange for the Red Sox releasing Epstein from the final year of his contract and that those players are now undergoing physicals.  Or if the teams are still holding firm on who they want involved in the deal.  This is getting a little ridiculous.  Each side is losing bargaining position the longer this drags out, so they just need to get it done.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has even offered his “services” to step in and mediate the compensation.  Gimme a break.

We do know that the deal will happen at some point this year.  No cash compensation will go to the Red Sox – it will be minor league prospects.

Following the confirmation of the Epstein hire, it is now even more clear that the Cubs will then hire San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer as the Cubs GM under Epstein.  And it has also been reported that Padres Assistant GM Jason McLeod will also come over from the Padres to the Cubs.  Hoyer served as Epstein’s Assistant GM with the Red Sox and McLeod served as a scout for the Red Sox during that tenure as well.

The last piece of the Red Sox puzzle could be whether or not Red Sox management allow Epstein to take special assistant Dave Finley with him to Chicago.  Epstein has a high regard and great working relationship with Finley and would like to bring him to Chicago.

We’ll keep you posted, but it looks like we’re heading into a 3rd week of negotiations…

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

Cubs Set To Hire Theo Epstein as President & Jed Hoyer as GM – Wrigley Field 10/20/11

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs are set to hire Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and then Jed Hoyer as General Manager.  Supposedly all the details have been agreed upon and now it’s just a matter of waiting for a World Series off-day for the teams to publicly make the announce on Friday.  Cash will not be part of the deal, but it looks like the Cubs will send one or more prospects to the Red Sox for the ability to hire Theo.  The prospects till not be any of the Cubs top prospects – Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt or Matt Szczur.

The Cubs will not owe any compensation to the San Diego Padres to hire their GM away from San Diego.  The Padres are ready to promote their senior VP of baseball operations Josh Byrnes into the role currently held by Hoyer.

Now it looks like Tom Ricketts got his main man and also pulled off another coup by landing Hoyer in the process as well.  The two-headed Epstein-Hoyer monster is sure to make Cubs fans very very happy.  I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to report on Friday morning – we’ll keep you posted…

Comments (0)

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here