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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…

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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…

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Latest on Theo – Red Sox Wanted Matt Garza?! Wrigley Field 10/17/11

Posted on 17 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs and Red Sox are still trying to work out the compensation that will allow the Cubs to hire Theo Epstein as their new General Manager.  While things have been mostly quiet on the front, it did come out over the weekend that the Red Sox initially requested Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza in the deal.  Good luck with that one John Henry.  What a joke.  I hope Tom Ricketts laughed in their faces when they threw Garza’s name out there, just as he should do if the Red Sox throw out the Cubs top prospect – Brett Jackson – as the player who needs to move if the Cubs want to complete the deal.

This is turning into a complete charade, as it appears that Red Sox management is being completely unreasonable.  If you knew you would only let Theo go if the other team gave you a top major league player or a top prospect, then you should have made that clear when you granted the other team position to talk to your GM.  If you really wanted your GM there long-term (or at least for the final year of his contract), then you should not have even granted another team the right to speak to Theo.

Red Sox management is making this way more difficult than it needs to be and I hope Ricketts holds his ground before succumbing to the Red Sox egregious demands.  At this point, the last thing that the Red Sox want to do is bring Theo back, so they are in just as a tough position as the Cubs are.  After all the things John Henry has said the last 2 weeks, can you really see Theo serving out his final year as Red Sox GM?  No way.  If that happened, the Red Sox would probably have to pay Theo the value of his final year PLUS the $3.5 million conclusion bonus just to sit on the sideline.  I can’t see them trusting Theo enough to play a major role in selecting the Red Sox next manager and then making major player decisions which will affect the Red Sox organization for the next several years.

It’s clear that both Red Sox management and the Ricketts family will have to “bend” a little in order to get this deal done.  Ricketts wants Theo to turn his bad club around and the Red Sox want Theo out of their skin so they can go onto the next phase with a new GM and a new manager.  Now they just need to take a step back, realize what is at stake and come up with a minor league prospect who can make both sides save face.  I know that’s tough to swallow for millionaires with insane egos who are used to getting what they want.  But if they look at the alternatives at this point of the negotiations, I think they’ll be able to see which is the better way to proceed.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything goes”official” before the start of the World Series on Wednesday…

 

 

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What’s the Hold Up – Cubs/Epstein/Red Sox On Hold?!?! – Wrigley Field 10/14/11

Posted on 14 October 2011 by Lou

Uh-oh.  Could the Theo Epstein to Cubs “Trade” fall through as Cubs and Red Sox brass duke it out over the 37-year old GM?  What a disaster?!

Supposedly, the Cubs and Red Sox are still working out the “compensation” for bringing Theo Epstein to Chicago to take over baseball operations for the Cubs.  It’s not clear whether the “compensation” will be cash only or a combination of cash and players, but we do know that Tom Ricketts has provided a list of prospects to his senior scouting team to determine which players, if any, they would be willing to part with.  Another glitch has been whether or not the Red Sox will refuse Theo to bring any Red Sox “staffers” with him to Chicago.  When Jed Hoyer left the Red Sox in 2009 to take over the San Diego Padres GM job, Red Sox management allowed Hoyer to take 2 senior staffers with him.  But rumors have it that the Red Sox management is really being stubborn about allowing a similar precedent with Theo.  Could that block a deal.  Maybe if the Cubs part with the right prospect or 2, then maybe the Red Sox will relent on their personnel stance and allow Theo to take one or top executives with him.  But right now it is all still up in the air.

Another issue is the fact that once the World Series starts on Wednesday, October 19th, MLB prohibits teams from making announcements regarding their organizations.  That means if the Cubs/Red Sox can’t agree on a deal by Tuesday, they would have to wait until after the World Series ends to make an official public announcement about the Epstein “trade”.  Neither team wants that.  The Red Sox need to hire a new GM and Manager.  The Cubs need to announce the hiring of their “savior” in order to appease their fan base when they send out 2012 season ticket invoices to their “loyal fan base” who have had to endure 2 of the worst seasons in Cubs history in 2010 and 2011 – and that’s saying a LOT for a team that hasn’t won a World Series title in over 100 years.

All these things being said, I can’t see Theo going back to Boston to fulfill his obligations under the last year of his contract at this point.  He clearly has some issues with the team’s style right now and was clearly enamored by a chance to be in complete control over the baseball operations of a major league team.  The Red Sox were clearly willing to let him go.  The Red Sox could have prevented Theo from even talking with the Cubs, but they didn’t.  Statements released by Red Sox Owner John Henry sure seem to indicate that Theo will be the Cubs President/GM very soon – “I would love to have Theo back.. That was my hope.  That would have been my hope. But you don’t always get what you want. I did everything I could personally, and so did Tom and Larry, to make that happen. The fact is that being general manager in Boston, being manager in Boston, is a terrifically tough job.”  So it seems like the Red Sox have come to grips that Theo is on his way out, and now it’s time for Cubs management and Red Sox management to put their egos aside and agree to some “reasonable” compensation to finalize this deal ASAP. That is the right thing to do for both teams to bring some closure to a deal that could end up being good for both sides – how about a Cubs-Red Sox World Series in 2013 or 2014?

This should be interesting and we’ll keep you posted as soon as anything official is announced.

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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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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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Cubs Finish 71-91 – Lot of Work To Do in Off-Season – Wrigley Field 9/30/11

Posted on 30 September 2011 by Lou

The Cubs have a LOT of work to do this off-season.  They finished a whopping 25 games behind the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.  A 71-91 record just doesn’t cut it.  Especially after finishing the 2010 MLB season with a 75-87 record – 16 games back of the 1st place Cincinnati Reds.

The lone positive – the NL Central is a very winnable division – each of the last 4 years has brought a new division winner.  So who knows – if a few things go their way in 2012, maybe the Cubs can make it a 5th straight different division winner.

The Cubs first need to hire a new GM to replace Jim Hendry.  Then the new GM with his staff will have to figure out a way to plug up a TON of holes without a lot of money with which to work.  Owner Tom Ricketts has already said that the payroll will not increase much from what it was in 2011.  Sure there is a lot of money coming off the books this off-season – no Kosuke Fukudome; no Milton Bradley/Carlos Silva salary; no full Carlos Zambrano salary (assuming they can shovel him off to another team); and maybe no Carlos Pena or Aramis Ramirez salary.  Will Ricketts be able to stomach making a run at the Scott Boras-led Prince Fielder?  How will the Cubs plug the gaping holes in their starting rotation?  Who will play right field on a regular basis? Will Manager Mike Quade keep his job under the new GM?

There are no easy answers, so it will be an interesting off-season to watch and we’ll keep you posted every step of the way here at MyCubsToday.com.

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Dempster, Cubs Lose Season Finale to Padres 9-2 – Finish 71-91 – Wrigley Field 9/28/11

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Lou

Ryan Dempster’s disappointing 2012 MLB season ended on a down note with the Cubs 9-2 loss.  Dempster suffered his 14th loss of the season, allowing 9 ER on 8 hits and 4 walks in 5 2/3 innings pitched.  He did strikeout 7 Padres hitters but he gave up 2 home runs.  Dempster finished 10-14 with a 1.45 WHIP and 4.80 ERA – not good numbers for an aging 34-year old starter.  He lost 6 of his last 9 starts on the season and did not win a game since August 11th.  He did make 34 starts and pitch 202 1/3 innings, but he also gave up 211 hits, 82 walks and 23 HR’s.  Dempster has one more year left on his deal and he will likely be the Cubs #2 starter heading into 2012 behind Matt Garza.

The one bright spot – Andrew Cashner tossed another scoreless inning.  He walked one and struck out one and finished the season with a 0.66 WHIP and 1.69 ERA. He made 6 relief appearances for the Cubs down the stretch, pitching 5 1/3 innings and allowing just 1 ER on 1 hit and 3 walks with 6 K’s.  Cashner will likely stay in the bullpen in 2012 in an attempt to show that he can stay healthy for a full MLB season.

Starlin Castro finished his excellent 2012 season without a sophomore slump – he had 1 hit with 1 RBI and finished the season with a .307 batting average.

It should be an interesting off-season for the Cubs…

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