Tag Archive | "Miguel Montero"

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Cubs Acquire Dexter Fowler From Astros For Luis Valbuena & Dan Straily

Posted on 19 January 2015 by Lou

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Theo & Co. clearly have a vision and they continue to make moves to improve the major league ballclub just about each and every day.  Today the Cubs announced a trade with the Houston Astros – CF Dexter Fowler for 3B Luis Valbuena and Pitcher Dan Straily.  This adds a proven hitter to the Cubs top of the lineup with Fowler – a career .271 hitter with a great .366 on-base percentage.  In 2014, Fowler boasted a phenomenal .375 on base-percentage with 120 hits and 66 walks in just 434 at-bats.

The Cubs ranked 28th in all of baseball in on-base percentage in 2014, so adding more consistent, patient batters was a clear mission for Theo & Co. this off-season.  The Cubs previously added reserve infielder Tommy La Stella from the Atlanta Braves (.328 on-base percentage in 2014) and Catcher Miguel Montero (.329 on-base percentage in a down 2014).   The addition of Fowler makes the lineup that much better, especially at the top of the order to set the table for the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler and eventually Kris Bryant.

Current Cubs hitting coach who came from the Astros this winter raved about Fowler’s plate approach: “He understands the strike zone so well, but it doesn’t take the attack out of him. He doesn’t just take pitches to take. He takes them because he recognizes the strike zone.”  Gotta love it.

It will be interesting to see what Manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs do with the rest of the lineup.  Fowler bumps Arismendy Alcantara out of the CF starting position and pushed him to more of a “super sub” role.  Alcantara could even make noise back in the infield with the 3rd base position wide open.  Or will we see La Stella share some time at 3rd base with Alcantara or Mike Olt until the arrival of Kris Bryant in late April.  This is just the kind of move that Maddon probably loved.  Maddon has a knack for moving his players around and getting the most out of his players, so having a “deeper” lineup to play around with in 2015 will sure make things more interesting.

The other interesting news was Max Scherzer going to the Nationals for $210 million over 7 years.  Does that mean the Nats will make one of their other “ace” starters available via trade sooner rather than during the course of the season.  We’ll write more about that over the next few days as it impacts the Cubs…

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Chicago Cubs Sign Catcher David Ross

Posted on 19 December 2014 by Lou

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As has been rumored since Jon Lester signed with the Cubs, David Ross has agreed to a 2-year, $5 million deal to catch for the Cubs in 2015.  Ross caught 18 starts for Lester with the Red Sox in 2014 and he has caught 29 Lester starts over the last 2 MLB seasons. Lester’s ERA with Ross as his catcher in 2104 was a nasty 2.02. Ross should also provide some much-needed veteran leadership for a young Cubs squad.  Ross and newly-acquired Miguel Montero should form a nice-duo for the Cubs for the next 2 seasons as they continue to groom 2014 1st-round pick Kyle Schwarber in the minor leagues.  The only negative for Ross is that his offensive production continues to diminish later in his career.  in 50 games in 2014 for he Red Sox, Ross hit just .184 with 7 HR’s and 18 RBI’s.

This must mean that current catcher Wellington Castillo is officially on the trading block.  Before the Ross signing, the Cubs announced that they had claimed former Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway off of waivers.  Theo Epstein drafted Lavarnway in the 2008 draft.  Lavarnway is 27 years old and has a career .210 batting average in 97 major league games.

Theo & Co. continue to remain active this winter.  The continue to tweak the roster at the major league to give Manager Joe Madden as many options as possible throughout the long MLB season.  We’ll keep you posted if we hear anything on the Castillo-trade front…

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Chicago Cubs Announce TV Deal With ABC-7/WLS TV Chicago

Posted on 13 December 2014 by Lou

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As if the week wasn’t busy enough for the Chicago Cubs with the franchise-changing free agent signings of starting pitchers Jon Lester and Jason Hammel and the equally important trade for Catcher Miguel Montero.  On Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced a new partial TV deal with ABC7/WLS-TV in Chicago.  ABC7 will broadcast 25 games each season for the next 5 years through the 2019 MLB season.  ABC7 will pay the Cubs $750,000 per game.  There is no online component to the deal, so anyone who doesn’t have Channel 7 won’t be able to see the games that air solely on ABC7 TV.  Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney raved about the new relationship with ABC7-TV — “We are excited to have WLS-TV as our new television broadcast partner. WLS-TV has established itself as a trusted voice in Chicago, and we look forward to a new chapter of Cubs baseball airing on the flagship station of the ABC television network.”

Comcast Sportsnet Chicago will broadcast roughly half of all Cubs games this season.  A select number of games will be televised on national telecasts like ESPN or FOX. So after the ABC7-TV deal, that still leaves approximately 45 games for which the Cubs do not have a television partner to broadcast the games. Kenney has indicated that the Cubs are in discussions will other potential television partners and that news of another deal could be announced soon.

Things are definitely coming together on the north side.  Construction around the ballpark continues to steamroll forward and with the “warmish” weather we’ve been having, hopefully that means the Cubs can get back on target for having the Bleachers open in time for the ESPN Sunday Night Game against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 6th.  With Jon Lester taking the ball for the 1st time in a Cubs uniform, we need all the fans there ready to go.  Go Cubs Go!!!

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Jeff Samardzija Is On His Way Back To Chicago… on the South Side!

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Lou

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Jeff Samardzija is on his way back to Chicago! No, not with the Cubs but with the White Sox on the South Side.  White Sox GM Rick Hahn pulled off a silent strike – landing Jeff Samardzija to slot in right behind Chris Sale as his 1-A ace to make a terrific 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.  With both the Cubs and A’s in 2014, Samardzija went 7-13 with a combined 2.99 ERA.

Hahn also addressed the White Sox poor 2014 bullpen by outbidding everyone else for the services of the Yankees former closer David Robertson.  The White Sox sigtned Robertson to a 4-year, $46 million deal to help anchor the back of a bullpen that sported a 4.28 ERA and saved just 36 games during the season.  Robertson himself saved 39 games for the Yankees in 2014 and had a respectable 3.08 ERA.  The 29-year old has a 2.81 career ERA over 7 seasons.

The White Sox are clearly going for it in 2015, which is a little suprising in the tough AL Central.  It is tough to jump over 1 good team in the MLB landscape today, let alone 3 good teams in the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians.  By trading for Samardzija, the White Sox basically gave up their top prospect infielder – Marcus Semien – and a good starting pitcher prospect – Chris Bassitt.  Semien was close to major league ready and was expected to debut with theSox at some point in 2015.  Samardzija has already said he will test the free agent market after the season, so if the White Sox don’t resign him, they would have given up their top prospect for a 1 year rental.  And signing a closer to any deal with an average salary over $10 million never seems like a good idea to me.  But then again, the White Sox have always been a little unconventional.  Attendance on the south side has plummeted to all-time lows over the last 2 horrific seasons (99 losses in 2013 and 89 losses in 2014), so Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf clearly thought it was time to make some bold moves to get back into playoff contention.  I definitely would not have made these moves, but when you are also competing with a Cubs organization which by all accounts is on the cusp of a long period of sustained quality play buoyed by the depth of its minor league prospects, Reinsdorf was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  And if these moves help the White Sox squeeze in another World Championship Title in 2015 or 2016 before the Cubs run begins, Reinsdrof will be remembered for doing everything he could to help the White Sox win each and every season he held the reins.  And I give Reinsdrof and the Sox credit for going out on a limb like this — make something happen instead of waiting for good things to happen.

And I am writing about this in part because it does relate to what the Cubs plan to do this off-season.  Theo & Co. have been active in acquiring young talent over the last 3 seasons.  But it’s finally time for the Cubs to make some bold moves of their own.

This fall/winter, I finally feel like they are being more proactive in doing everything possible to field a complete team for new Manager Joe Maddon at the major league level.  Tommy La Stella has major league experience and can hopefully improve the Cubs on-base percentage during the regular season, even if he doesn’t play everyday.  Jason Hammel rebounded nicely under the tutelage of Chris Bosio during the 1st half of 2014 and hopefully he can regain that form with the Cubs in 2015.  If the Cubs can somehow outbid everyone else for Jon Lester’s services, they will have the ace they have long coveted.  And there are also rumors swirling about the Cubs pursuing catcher Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Sure Wellington Castillo is a solid backstop, but the Cubs missed out on Russell Martin and clearly think that Montero is an upgrade from Castillo both for his in-game pitch-calling and for his left-handed bat to create a more balanced offensive lineup for Maddon.  Theo & Co. are definitely not sitting back this winter and let’s hope they continue to explore options as the winter meetings progress this week.  There are no sure things when you sign a free agent or make a trade, but just the same – there are no sure things when you sit back and wait for good things to happen.

Stay tuned on Lester — heated negotiations between multiple teams over the last 24 hours have likely driven the price up more and delayed Lester’s ultimate decision…

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