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…
Posted on 08 December 2011 by Lou
How does Theo & Co. not go after Prince Fielder with everything that they’ve got?
The St. Louis Cardinals just lost Albert Pujols to the tune of $254 million over 10 years with the Anaheim Angels in the American League.
That weakens the Cardinals tremendously.
Rumors are out there that the Milwaukee Brewers have upped their offer to try to keep Prince Fielder at Miller Park. Who’s to say that they won\’t up it even more now that they know that the Cards have lost Pujols.
Who knows if the Cards will now try to take a run at signing Fielder away from Milwaukee with a portion of the money that they had allocated towards Pujols?
No one really knows. That’s why the Cubs need to swoop in and lock up the “next-best” 1st baseman available, thereby hurting both the Cards and the Brewers in the process. At 27 years of age, Fielder is about to enter his prime years – that’s 6 amazing years out of an 8-year deal (let’s say). Even in that case, he’s still only 35 years old when the deal ends. How can you go wrong. You can build the Cubs lineup around Starlin Castro and Prince Fielder for years and years to come. And during the next couple of years, you can tweak around the starting rotation a little bit with a focus on signing Matt Garza to a big long-term extension and a “friendly” rate before the end of the 2012 MLB season. You already know that you have around $35 million coming off the books next year when Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano become free agents. You try to make trades this year by moving a Marlon Byrd and a Carlos Marmol that might bring some quality pitchers back. You throw Brett Jackson into the fire by starting him in center field all season and see what he can do. How does a DeJesus, Barney, Castro, Fielder, Soto, Soriano, Jakcson, lineup sound? Sure you still need a 3rd baseman, but maybe you also land an Ian Stewart or Chase Headley. It’s now or never time for Theo and the Ricketts Family. You made a big splash by bringing in Theo, Jed and Jason, now make an even bigger splash and make Fielder an offer he can’t refuse.
Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 06 December 2011 by Lou
The games have started – 1st up – leading people to think that the Cubs are “all in” on Albert Pujols in the hopes that that will drive the price up out of the rival St. Louis Cardinals price range. Guess we’ll see if the ploy works.
The St. Louis Dispatch reported that the Cubs have spoken with Dan Lozano – Pujols’ agent – on Monday and that they made a “qualifying offer” (whatever that means). I love it. Let’s try to get people thinking that the Cubs are a player. Given the fact that the Marlins have made a bold move to land the slugger with a 10-year deal, I don’t see how the Cubs can compete with that. So let’s just hope that the Marlins “reel in” the big guy so he leaves the NL Central for the 1st time in a decade.
C ubs President Theo Epstein played it coy when asked about any meeting with Lozano. Epstein said: “He also represents Rodrigo Lopez, so if you see somebody going into someone’s room, it’s not always to talk about the Big Kahuna.” I love it even more.
Epstein & Co. rarely show their cards during these meetings. My wish – that they are planting the seeds about the Pujols offer, just to quietly go in and make an offer to Prince Fielder that his a-hole agent Scott Boras can’t refuse…
Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 02 December 2011 by Lou
With the GM Meetings starting in Dallas next week, we’re curious what Theo & Co. will be doing all week. While Theo is typically pretty tight-lipped, he did identify a few areas where he thought the Cubs needed help. Here are a few snippets:
“We need starting pitching. You can’t just take your chances of being looked at seriously as a club with just five guys. You have to point to six, seven or eight guys… We are going to have to build our starting pitching staff. We don’t have a ton of depth and that’s a priority.”
When asked about rumors regarding the Cubs possibly dealing Matt Garza – the Cubs best starter – Theo had this to say – “He’s exactly the kind of guy that we would like to build around.” Another words, he’s not going anywhere…
As for hitting, Theo gave out this little secrets: “Adding a left-handed bat would be nice [David DeJesus partially solves that equation]. But under the right circumstances. We are not going to force anything. We’ll look for a well-rounded position player to contribute on defense and maybe run the bases. If that hapens to be a left-handed bat, yes. David DeJesus is a good example of that. He does those things well. And those are things as a club that we don’t do well. The most obvious ways to improve is to look at your weaknesses and try to turn them into a strength.”
Amen – I’m looking forward to an exciting week in Dallas. Let’s just hope it ends with a royal signing of Prince Fielder…