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…
Posted on 01 December 2011 by Lou
In addition to Cubs President Theo Epstein being open to Carlos Zambrano’s return to the Cubs clubhouse, it looks like veteran reliever Kerry Wood would also be open assuming it is done the “right way”. Wood spoke with ESPN Radio 1000’s Carmen, Jurko and Harry show yesterday and had this to say about Big Z: “I think it’s something that he’s going to have a lot of new teammates that haven’t been through the history with him. I think Z has got to worry more about the guys he’s done this to a few times. He can have a better impression on the new teammates. The ultimate result is we need him to be a part of this team and help us win. He can be a big part of that… It’s going to be something he’s going to have to address when he comes in and talks to guys and obviously we go from there. But if he wants to be a part of this team and help us win, if he can do it the right way, guys will be willing to have him back in there.”
I think Theo & Co. realize that they are going to have to eat a HUGE chunk of his salary just to “get rid of him”. At this point, even though he’s already had a ton of chances, why not give him another shot and see if he can earn some respect and pitch well at the beginning of the season. Big Z had some great starts in the first part of the season, but GM Jim Hendry missed the boat in moving him when his stock was high. Something tells me that that won’t happen on Theo’s watch. If he has a good April or May, and shows that he can keep his head on straight, then Theo & Co can potentially make a move where you bring in a few young players from a playoff contender that is dealing with a starting pitcher injury issue. At that point, the “buying” club might even be able to take on a little more of his salary too.
Essentially, it’s a lose-lose situation for the Cubs, but if you give him a little more leash into April/May, it may simply become a less of a “lose-lose” situation. I guess we’ll know more about what Theo & Co. intend to do with Big Z after next week’s GM meetings…
Posted on 29 November 2011 by Lou
Numerous reports have confirmed that the Cubs have contacted Albert Pujols’ agent regarding the big slugger. While some Cubs fans seem overly excited about the prospects about landing the best hitter in baseball, I have a feeling that this is a HUGE ploy by Theo & Co. Knowing how the Cubs have been hampered by Alfonso Soriano’s 8-year deal and knowing how Theo & Co. rarely enter into a bad “long-term” deal (the 7-year, $142 million Carl Crawford notwithstanding), the Cubs won’t make this deal. You heard it hear first. 8, 9, 10 years for a 32-year old 1st baseman entering the twilight of his career? What happens in Year 6, when Albert Pujols enters the year at 37 years of age and you still owe him a whopping $25-30 million a year for 5 more years?! That’s exactly what we’ve been doing with Soriano for the last 2 years and we still have 3 more years left on his deal. Now sure, Pujols is MUCH MORE productive than Soriano, but it still does not justify mortgaging the club again when we’re so close to getting out from the Soriano deal in another year or two.
So why are the rumors spreading about the Cubs making a play for Pujols? There are several reasons:
1. It drives the price up on the Pujols sweepstakes, maybe knocking him out of the Cardinals price range and sending him to the NL East Marlins or Nationals or the American League with the Texas Rangers or Anaheim Angels. That weakens the Cardinals big time with a move like that.
2. With the Yankees (Mark Teixeira) and Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez) “probably” out of the mix for Pujols or Prince Fielder (you can never say never with either team however), it is plausible that the Cubs could land either player for a “steal of a deal” without the 2 highest payroll teams driving up the price further. So it is “conceivable” that the Cubs would make a play for Pujols.
3. It also hides your cards if your real intent is to go hard for the younger (Fielder is only 27 years old) 1st baseman. Epstein and Fielder’s agent Scott Boras have been known to get deals done and what better way to swoop in and make him an offer he can’t refuse than to let everybody think you’re going after Pujols. New skipper Dale Sveum was Fielder’s hitting coach in Milwaukee and the 2 have a good working relationship. With tons of money coming off of the books the next year, Theo & Co. can also make a commitment to Fielder that in addition to building from within, the Cubs will also have much more flexibility to add pieces from the outside through free agency after the 2012 season. With Theo & Co.’s track record, Fielder has to be reassured that the Cubs will be competitive just about every season once they get things settled.
Maybe I’m just hoping for the best-case ideal scenario – a 1-2-3 combo of Brett Jackson, Starlin Castro and Fielder as the future of a potent offensive lineup – but don’t surprised if Theo & Co. pull off this miracle signing within the next week. Imagine the buzz on the north side then…
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…
Posted on 24 November 2011 by Lou
Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at MyCubsToday.com! We hope you and your family have a happy and safe holiday!
Posted on 18 November 2011 by Lou
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer introduced introduced Dale Sveum as the new Cubs Manager on Friday at Wrigley Field. Sveum – the Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach for the last 3 seasons – seems up for the challenge to lead the 71-91 Cubs back to relevancy. Deemed to be a “baseball guy” with great personal skills, Sveum is excited to take over the job – “The past is the past no matter where you are. You’re only as good as you are right now. It doesn’t really matter what happened in the past… When it came down to it, this was a better fit and the arrow stopped on the Chicago Cubs.”
Epstein praised Sveum in broad terms: “He knows the game inside and out. He has a great combination of intelligence and intuition both between the lines and in the clubhouse. Next is the rare ability to hold players accountable, while also earning their respect and admiration. Dale demands a lot of his players but is held in universally high regard by them. That’s a tough thing to pull off.”
Gotta love it – now let’s see what they can pull off in 2012…
Posted on 17 November 2011 by Lou
It’s official – Dale Sveum will be the news Cubs manager. The 48-year old long-time coach will get his first full-time gig as a major league manager with the Cubs. Sveum has served as an interim manager, a bench coach, a hitting coach and a 3rd base coach and will get to show off his skills on the north side in 2012.
We’ll have more on this breaking news following the scheduled Wrigley Field news conference on Friday morning.
Posted on 15 November 2011 by Lou
The Cubs and Dale Sveum will have another chance to discuss the Cubs managerial vacancy this week at the GM Meetings in Milwaukee. The Red Sox plan to interview Sveum again and since Sveum will be there, the Cubs have decided to do it too. The Cubs have interviewed 5 people for the job – Pete Mackanin, Sveum, Mike Maddux and Sandy Alomar, Jr. at Wrigley Field & DeMarlo Hale (the current Red Sox bench coach) over the phone. Cubs President Theo Epstein has also had numerous conversations with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, but it is unclear how “in play” Francona is at this stage of the game. Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have indicated that they will have further follow-up discussions with all candidates and then present Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and his family with their final choice. A decision could come later this week or early next week.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear any rumors…
Posted on 11 November 2011 by Lou
The Cubs interviewed Sandy Alomar, Jr. for thier open manager position today. GM Jed Hoyer announced that there is no clear front-runner for the job: “It’s still totally open for debate. We are going to get back and have some discussions and then probably have some follow-up conversations. We spent a lot of time with these candidates. Now we can think about some follow-up questions… We feel really good about the four guys we brought in. We had four very good interviewees. I wouldn’t rule out an additional candidate, but it’s not a certainty either.”
Hoyer could be alluding to former Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Cubs President Theo Epstein and Francona are still in contact and Francona has indicated that he is interested in the Cubs job. The Cubs have acknowledged that a long, formal interview with Francona would not be needed since Epstein and Hoyer are both so familiar with Francona and his coaching style/abilities.
Alomar, Jr. was thrilled with the Cubs interview process: “They are very thorough with everything. They don’t leave any stone unturned. Yhey go through every situation in the game. They are very professional about it. They are very bright about what they do. I had an opportunity to have an interview with Toronto last year. That was pretty good. But these guys take it to another level. It’s kind of like what you see Jon Gruden doing with NFL quarterbacks but more thorough. Kind of interesting… It was fun because they put you in managerial positions in order to make decisions fast. They see how you incorporate players you have on your bench and how you deal with pitchers you would have getting ready in those situations. Then they show you the outcome of the plays. I don’t want to tell everything about how they do the interview but it was pretty interesting and very exciting.”
Looks like the leg work is almost over. Now it’s decision time. Bring it on…
Posted on 08 November 2011 by Lou
One Dale Sveum down, now it’s on to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr.
While Maddux pulled his name out of the running for the Red Sox managerial opening, Maddux is committed to interviewing with the Cubs. The Cubs and Maddux will meet up at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.
It is anticipated that the Cubs will squeeze in an interview with Alomar before the end of the week.
No favorites have emerged yet, but given that the Red Sox and Cubs are interviewing the same candidates (Pete Mackanin, Sveum and Alomar, Jr.), we should probably start to hear some rumblings in the near future as neither side wants to wait too long and risk losing “their guy.”
Meanwhile, Terry Francona supposedly met with the St. Louis Cardinals today and we have not heard any further update about Theo Epstein continuing to speak with Francona regarding the Cubs managerial vacancy. Francona meeting with the Cards could prompt a Cubs interview over the weekend.
We’ll keep you posted…