With the Thanksgiving holiday in the rearview mirror, the Cubs should announce Larry Rothschild’s replacement over the next week. Mark Riggins, the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator, is the favorite to land the gig. Lester Strode (Cubs Bullpen Coach), Mike Mason (I-Cubs Pitching Coach) and Dennis Lewellyn (Smokies Pitching Coach) are the other known candidates and were expected to receive an interview.
It should be an interesting week full of rumors and news leading up to Baseball’s Winter Meetings that officially begin next Monday in Orlando (December 6 – 9). The Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday, December 9 with the Rule 5 Draft.
Players the Cubs have been connected to this winter are starting to come off the board, but three new ones popped up on Saturday … Brad Hawpe, Erik Bedard and Brandon Webb. Here’s the update …
The Cubs are looking to add a starting pitcher to the mix. According to Levine, the Cubs were interested in signing Jon Garland but lost out on the former farmhand when he signed with the Dodgers on Friday (one-year deal worth a guaranteed $5 million, with incentives and a vesting option could pay near $16 million over two years).
From all indications the Cubs were not interested in acquiring/signing Zach Duke who was DFA’d by the Pirates and traded to Arizona last week.
Levine explained that the Cubs are looking for someone like Jon Garland, Javier Vazquez and Kevin Millwood … a veteran that can eat innings. It appears Vazquez will be signing a deal to pitch for the Marlins. Levine said that Vazquez has told people he wants to train in Florida to stay as close to his family as possible. Vazquez is doing everything he can to sign a one-year contract with the Marlins … even reducing his original asking price of $10 million down to $8 million.
If the Cubs cannot add a healthy veteran starter, they could look at one of the several rehabbing vets according to Levine. That list includes the likes of Erik Bedard and Brandon Webb.
Levine thinks the Cubs rotation, as it stands at the end of November, does not match-up well with the likes of the Reds and Cardinals and looks like a fourth place rotation.
Speaking of Brandon Webb, the one-time ace of the D’Backs and former Cy Young winner, is in talks with the Cubs according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse. A tweet late Saturday night from Ken Rosenthal confirmed the report from Price.
Rosenthal reported there is mutual interest between Brandon Webb and the Cubs … “but it is early in the process.”
Bruce Levine thinks both the Cubs and White Sox are interested in signing Brad Hawpe.
Hawpe was released by the Rockies last season and finished a miserable year with the Tampa Bay Rays. Hawpe managed just a .179/.304/.333/.638 line in 15 games for the Rays with no doubles and only two home runs … in 88 games for the Rockies in 2010, Hawpe hit .255/.343/.423/.776 with 21 doubles and seven home runs.
Hawpe is a season removed from hitting.285/.384/.519/.903 with 42 doubles and 23 home runs in 145 games for the Rockies.
Levine brought up the fact that Hawpe can play first base as well (eight games in 2010, the only games played by Hawpe in his Major League career at first base.)
The Cubs are “void” of left-handed hitting according to Levine, outside of Kosuke Fukudome, Tyler Colvin and Blake DeWitt.
Hawpe struggled against right-handed pitching last season (.239/.343/.388/.730 in 91 games, 248 plate appearances, with 12 doubles, two triples and five home runs) and held his own in limited action against southpaws (.258/.327/.494/.821 in 52 games, 98 plate appearances, with nine doubles and four home runs)
This is the first time this off-season that the Cubs have been connected to Brad Hawpe … according to the rumor mill, Jim Hendry has shown interest in the past.
Random Notes from Talkin’ Baseball
- Andrew Cashner and Chris Archer could be in the Cubs’ starting rotation at some point during the 2011 season.
- The Cubs feel Chris Archer will be a top 10 pitcher in all of baseball in a couple of years.
- Brett Jackson is on the same track as Starlin Castro and could be with the big league team as early as May or June of 2011.
- Chris Carpenter could be in the Cubs bullpen at some point during next season.
- The Cubs are real high on the likes of Brett Jackson, Chris Archer, Chris Carpenter, D.J. LeMahieu and Hak-Ju Lee.
- Darwin Barney may end up as the Cubs’ second baseman, but right now they view Barney the same way they did Ryan Theriot prior to the 2007 season. Theriot received time at short, second and in the outfield before taking over for Caesar Izturis.
Finally, the Cubs 2011 Spring Training schedule should be released this week, and for those interested in the Cubs farm system, Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus) is slated to post his Cubs top prospects list in the coming week.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.