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 27 January 2012 by Lou
Yoenis Cespedes is now eligible to negotiate with MLB teams. Cespedes, a Cuban defector, has established legal residency in the Dominican Republic. Cespedes must still obtain an “unblocking license” from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control since he has established residency in a different country as a Cuban defector.
It is believed that the Cubs and White Sox, as well as the Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers are all highly interested in Cespedes. But given the Cubs unwillingness to make an aggressive play for either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder – who both have a proven track record in the major leagues, I find it hard to believe that the Cubs will really make a strong play to sign the free agent. Guess we’ll have to wait and see…
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 14 January 2012 by Lou
All is good on the north side, as Theo & Co. and Kerry Wood figured out a way to keep the veteran reliever with the Cubs in 2012. The Cubs and Wood signed a 1-year, $3 million deal just before the start of the 2012 Cubs Convention on Friday night. The deal includes a club option for 2013. Wood pitched in 55 games for the Cubs in 2011, going 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA.
It was a win-win situation for both sides. With the departure of Sean Marshall via trade to the Reds, the Cubs needed a veteran presence in the bullpen besides Carlos Marmol. Wood will help anchor the back-end of the bullpen with Marmol and Jeff Samardzija.
Although it got a little scary at times during negotiations, Wood is thrilled to be back with the Cubs and is glad that he did not have to retire. “I didn’t want to be forced into that. I still love the game. I still have plenty left… It all worked out in the end. I’m back in Chicago and I’m back where I want to be.”
Let’s hope it is a productive season for the both Wood and the Cubbies…
Posted on 13 January 2012 by Lou
The 2012 Cubs Convention kicks off tonight at the Hilton Chicago at 720 South Michigan Avenue. The Convention goes from 3pm-6pm on Friday, 9am-12 midnight on Saturday and 9am-1pm on Sunday. With each weekend pass, you have access to question and answer sessions, limited player/coach autograph sessions and other vendor booths.
One person we know who won’t be there, however, is Kerry Wood, who has yet to come to terms with the Cubs on another deal for the 2012 MLB season…
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.
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 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!
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…