Weekend Update … Time for the GMs and the Owners to Meet

The upcoming week should be anything but boring … both for the Chicago National League Ball Club and for all of baseball.

MLB’s award season will continue, with a majority of the big honors being handed out. The NL and AL Rookie of the Year awards will be announced on Monday. It will be interesting to see how far behind Buster Posey that Starlin Castro finishes. The NL Cy Young award (November 16), NL and AL Manager of the Year awards (November 17) and the AL Cy Young award (November 18) will be announced in the coming days as well.

The General Managers and Owners will be meeting down in Orlando this week. The GM Meetings officially begin Tuesday and conclude on Wednesday and the owners meetings kick off Wednesday and conclude on Thursday. The GM Meetings have traditionally set the stage for the Winter Meetings (December 6 – December 9).

Teams also must file their reserve lists (both at the Major and Minor League levels) by Friday (November 19) in order to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft (December 9).

The Cubs currently have 36 players on their 40-man roster so more tweaking of the big league roster should happen before the deadline. Chris Archer and Brandon Guyer will be added to the 40-man roster. Kyle Smit, Alberto Cabrera and Marquez Smith are candidates as well to be added to the Major League roster … so at least one spot will have to be created and that does not leave room for Jim Hendry to make any additions to his roster.

Here’s the update including an off-season calendar, a couple of rumors from Bruce Levine, a few additions to the rumor mill courtesy of the Sun-Times and notes from Stan Zielinski’s interview on ESPN 1000 …

Stan Zielinski on Talkin’ Baseball
The Cubs Midwest area scout spent time with Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers Saturday morning during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000). Zielinski covers five states and the Indians and Tigers systems during the season.

The Cubs just finished their organizational meetings and Zielinski had an opportunity to scout in the Arizona Fall League. Zielinski assisted in compiling lists of players during the organizational meetings … including six-year minor league free agents.

Zielinski recommended the players the Cubs received in the Mark DeRosa deal two years ago. Stan remembered it taking two days for the players the Cubs would receive in return to be worked out.

Levine asked about the three players the Cubs received in the deal … Chris Archer, John Gaub and Jeff Stevens.

Zielinski was quick and to the point about Stevens. He brought up the fact that Stevens was the closest to the big leagues at the time but admitted Stevens is the type of bullpen guy that can be called up in an emergency to help out.

John Gaub had a rough 2010 season. He dealt with injuries but is throwing the ball well right now.

Zielinski described Chris Archer as a “high risk, high reward” player at the time of the trade. Levine added that Archer has become the Cubs top prospect.

Zielinski really liked what he saw from Archer … quick arm, very athletic. He added that at the time the knock on Archer in A-ball was he couldn’t throw enough strikes. Zielinski noticed there was a lot of movement on his pitches and his catcher at A-ball had trouble “harnessing” him.

Archer has a great feel for the strike zone and has worked hard. Zielinski said he’s read reports that Archer had a devastating slider the night he struck out 10 in the Pan Am games against the Cuban National team. Reports he’s read stated Archer was throwing a “seven” slider … in the 2-8, or 20-80 scouting scale, a seven is just about perfect.

As a part of scouting Archer, the Cubs met with his host family and received rave reports about his makeup. Zielinski described Archer as “a great kid.”

Zielinski reports to Tim Wilken on the amateur and minor league side and to Jim Hendry and Randy Bush on the pro side. Zielinski mentioned he met Tom Ricketts during the organizational meetings and had a chance to discuss players with him. He added it is much different to have an owner to talk to instead of the Tribune owning the team.

Tidbits from Bruce Levine

  • The White Sox are still looking at Adam Dunn.
  • Jesse Rogers said Dunn has to end up on one side of town and Levine quickly jumped in and said, “He won’t end up on the North Side.”
  • It appears the Cubs will not have the money for Adam Dunn. Levine said the at least three-year $40 million contract Dunn is seeking is not in the Cubs’ budget.
  • The Cubs would have to move Kosuke Fukudome and not send more than $5-$6 million with him in order to afford Dunn.
  • Aramis Ramirez was the player discussed in the “Should He Stay or Should He Go” segment. After a bad first half, Ramirez started working with Rudy Jaramillo in July and put together a good second half. Ramirez dealt with the thumb injury for a majority of the first half.
  • Ramirez’s splits in 2010: .207/.268/.380/.648 with nine doubles, a triple and 10 home runs in 62 games in the first half. .276/.321/.526/.847 with 12 doubles and 15 home runs in 62 games in the second half.

Jim Hendry and the “Splash Factor”
Jim Hendry told the Sun-Times he is not worried about the “splash factor” this off-season. Hendry said finding the right players is the more important than adding a big name.

Tom Ricketts has not given Hendry a payroll number to work with for next season … but the thought is the Cubs payroll will drop at least 10 percent from the more than $144 million it took to field the team for a majority of the 2010 campaign.

From the Sun-Times:

”I’m not worried about the ‘splash’ factor,” said Hendry, who might be looking at a 10 percent drop from the $146 million Opening Day payroll of 2010 once chairman Tom Ricketts gets specific with the budget in the next few weeks. ”I’m worried about getting the right guys that make us better. We’ve already put the fifth-place thing behind us, and we’d like to think we’re going to build off the last two months [24-13 finish]. … It’s really imperative that we have two or three really good moves.”

As for first base … the Sun-Times mentioned a possible signing of Adam Dunn or a blockbuster deal for Adrian Gonzalez but said in all reality the Cubs will likely “look into a fairly deep free-agent pool of second-tier, lefty hitting first basemen that includes Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche and Lyle Overbay.

In the pen, re-signing Kerry Wood would be the big splash but the Sun-Times indicated the Cubs will likely “go after” relievers such as Grant Balfour or Jason Frasor … on a side note, the rumor mill suggested last winter that Hendry tried for a majority of the off-season to trade for Jason Frasor.

The starting staff has plenty of options for the backend, with several young arms “knocking at the big league door” … but “uncertainties in the rotation behind Ryan Dempster.” The Cubs will not be in on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, instead they might try and sign the likes of a Kevin Millwood, Javier Vazquez, Jake Westbrook type if they could be “had for a reasonable one or two year commitment.”

2011 Off-Season Calendar

November

  • 16 – 17 – General Managers Meetings – Orlando, FL
  • 17 – 18 – Owners Meetings – Orlando, FL
  • 19 – Deadline for clubs to file reserve lists for Major League club and all Minor League Levels (Rule 5 Draft protection)
  • 23 – Last date for former club to offer salary arbitration to ranked free agents to be eligible for draft pick compensation
  • 30 – Last date for free agent to accept salary arbitration from his former club

BBWAA Awards – All Award winners announced at 2:00pm E.T.

  • 15 – NL and AL Rookie of the Year
  • 16 – NL Cy Young Award
  • 17 – NL and AL Manager of the Year
  • 18 – AL Cy Young Award
  • 22 – NL Most Valuable Player
  • 23 – AL Most Valuable Player

December

  • 2 – Deadline for clubs to offer 2011 contracts to unsigned players (arbitration eligible, service years 3-6)
  • 2 – Last day to request outright waivers to assign player prior to the Rule 5 Draft
  • 6 – 9 Baseball’s Winter Meetings – Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • 9 – Rule 5 Draft

2011

January

  • 5 – 15 – Salary arbitration filing period
  • (6 – BBWAA Hall of Fame voting announced)
  • 14 – 16 – 26th Annual Cubs Convention
  • 18 – Exchange of salary arbitration figures

February

  • 1 – 21 – Salary arbitration hearings
  • 13 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for pitchers, catchers and injured players
  • 15 – End of Waiver Period
  • 16 – Beginning of New Waiver Period
  • 18 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for other players
  • 27 – Cubs vs. A’s at HoHoKam Park, Mesa

March

  • 1 – Mandatory reporting date to Spring Training for all players
  • 2 – 11 – Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players
  • 14 – Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days
  • 28 – Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2010 salary
  • 30 – All clubs must reduce their active roster to 25 players
  • 31 – Opening Day for 2011 Baseball Season

April

  • 1 – Opening Day for Chicago Cubs – Cubs vs. Pirates at Wrigley Field

Will Update Off-Season Calendar throughout winter

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Well, there’s the weekend update … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer
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