Posted on 10 February 2012 by Lou
GM Jed Hoyer made it pretty clear that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs starting left fielder heading into the 2012 MLB campaign. Boo!!!
The Cubs GM was on with ESPN Radio 1000′s Carmen, Jurko and Harry show on Thursday afternoon and made the following statement: “I think that’s unlikely [that Soriano would be on another team at the start of the season]. Our hope certainly… I know Soriano’s been working really hard this offseason … our hope is obviously you want him to get on base a little more. The power was there last year, the RBI’s were there. Obviously it really comes down to defense and we’re hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there.”
That is not what I wanted to hear. On the other hand, with no other real power threat in the lineup, having Soriano in there might not be that bad of an option (assuming he can stay healthy).
Posted on 08 February 2012 by Lou
The Cubs released infielder Blake DeWitt in order to pick up Adrian Cardenas off of waivers from the Oakland A’s. This was an interesting move.
DeWitt played in 121 games for the Cubs in 2011 – .265 batting average with 5 HR’s, 11 doubles and 25 RBI’s.
Cardenas, on the other hand, played 127 games with Triple-A Sacramento. His offensive numbers were impressive – .314 batting average, 5 HR’s, 28 doubles, 70 runs scored and 51 RBI’s. He is younger and primarily a 2nd baseman, but he also played multiple games at 3rd base and left field for the A’s minor league squad. He is a left-handed hitter who throws right-handed and could make a spirited run at de-throning Darwin Barney from his starting 2nd base job.
DeWitt is clearly more of a back-up infielder these days, while Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer see Cardenas as an up-and-coming youngster who could surprise some people at the major league level. He was picked up by the Phillies as the 37th overall pick in the 2006 draft and has been in the A’s organization since July 2008. And you gotta love what the A’s can do with raw talent…
Posted on 30 January 2012 by Lou
Wow – I’m not sure how Theo, Jed and the Cubs pulled this one off, but they convinced veteran lefty reliever Trever Miller to sign a minor league deal with a much-coveted invite to Spring Training camp in Mesa, Arizona. This could be a Cubs coup if the 39-year old Miller somehow makes the opening day roster. The Cubs would be his 9th MLB team and he has held left-handed hitters to a paltry .225 career batting average (overall, he has a 3.80 career ERA and a 1.74 WHIP in parts of 13 big league seasons. Ouch.
Given this signing, I am keeping my cell phone close to my hip all day long. I just turned 39 in September, so who knows, maybe I’ll get a spring training invite too. It’s a free for all on the north side. If the Cubs do end up trading Matt Garza before the start of the season, the Cubs would arguably have the worst pitching staff in all of baseball…
Posted on 16 January 2012 by Lou
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from your friends at MyCubsToday.com!
After a riveting Cubs Convention this past weekend, Cubs Chariman Tom Ricketts indicated that he was very pleased that Theo, Jed and Kerry’s team were able to work out a deal that would keep Wood on the north side for 2012 and hopefully the rest of his career. After giving the Cubs a “bargain” $1.5 million deal in 2011, Wood decided that he wasn’t ready to retire and that although he wanted to stay with the Cubs, he also wanted to be compensated appropriately. He left $10 million on the table in 2011 for a deal with the White Sox and he left $5 million on the table from a deal with the Red Sox. He wasn’t going to do that again in 2012. While Woods was close to signing with another team (so much so that he almost took a physical for that team), Ricketts stepped in at the end to help get the 1-year, $3 million deal done so that Wood could be a part of the weekend’s convention festivities…
Ricketts had this to say – “I’m not sure why the timing ended up the way it did… Theo’s pretty communicative. We talk about all player decisions and Kerry’s no exception to that. We definitely talked about it. And we talked about what was the best for the organization and (signing Wood) was it… In the end, it works out great. This is exactly what everybody wanted. Every fan and everybody in the organization, and also Kerry.”
Good job guys. Jeff Samardzija, Wood and Closer Carlos Marmol are going to need to bring their A-games in 2012 if the Cubs want to make a run at the weak NL Central division crown. They are going to need everything they can milk out of these 3 guys…
Posted on 10 January 2012 by Lou
The Cubs continue to tinker with their starting rotation – inking lefty Paul Maholm to a 1-year, $4.5 million deal. The Cubs have a $6.5 club option for the 2013 MLB season or the Cubs can buy him out for $500,000. Maholm has pitched 6+ seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates after being selected in the 1st round by the NL Central foe back in 2003. He has a career 53-73 record with a 4.36 ERA. Despite having a “down year” in 2011 – he went 6-14 – it was also the 1st time in his career where he completed a full season with a sub-par 4.00 ERA (3.66). He is a sinkerball pitcher which could aid him in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field – he has allowed less than 1 HR per 9 innings for his entire career and he has also averaged just 13 HR’s allowed person during his career.
GM Jed Hoyer had this to say about Maholm – “Maholm is a ground ball pitcher and Volstad is a ground ball pitcher so that’s important. It’s important to have a mixture on your staff. You don’t want a staff of all ground ball guys or all fly ball guys. You want to have pretty good diversity.” Maholm and newly acquired Travis Wood will serve as the 2 two lefty starters on the Cubs 2012 rotation. Hoyer went on to say – “I think we are very comfortable with the names we have. You never know what is going to happen over the course of the winter and what is going to be available to us. But what we said was that a huge priority was building depth. We feel like we’ve really done that.”
These guys are going to turn the Cubs into World Series contenders, but they are nice innings-eaters and should keep the Cubs in ball games during the 2012 MLB season. It won’t always be pretty, but it is what it is…
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.
Posted on 19 December 2011 by Lou
Gotta give props to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. 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…
Posted on 09 December 2011 by Lou
The Cubs acquired Ian Stewart and minor league reliever Casey Weathers in a trade with the Colorado Rockies last night. In exchange for getting their 3rd baseman of the “future”, the Cubs sent frustrating right fielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu out to Colorado. Stewart struggled with a wrist injury in 2011, playing in only 48 games. He did not hit any homers and hit just .156 in only 122 at-bats. Previous to that, the 26-year old had had productive seasons in 2009 and 2010. In 147 games in 2009, Stewart racked up 25 HR’s, 70 RBI’s and 74 runs scored despite a .228 batting average. In 2010, Stewart improved on the average numbers – hitting .256 with a .338 on-base percentage. Playing 26 less games, Stewart hit just 18 HRs and drove in 61 runs that season. He has committed just 23 errors in the last 3 seasons, an area in which the Cubs are in serious need of help.
Colvin had become a frustrating project for the Cubs over the last few seasons. Colvin broke out on the scene in 2010 hitting 20 HR’s in 135 games. He hit .254 with a .316 on-base percentage and the Cubs were hoping he would continue to improve. But a rough spring training before the 2011 season proved to be a bad omen for Colvin.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is thrilled with the acquisition – “We wouldn’t have given up the talent that we did if we didn’t think he would be the starting 3rd baseman… We are expecting him to come in and he has to bounce back from last year. We are assuming he does… Ian Stewart is a good defensive 3rd baseman. He’s a very good athletic player and a gifted 3rd baseman.” Let’s hope Stewart shines for the Cubs in 2012…
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…
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…