Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/24/11

As a new era dawns for the Cubs organization, business goes on in the Winter Leagues. Bryan LaHair is terrorizing Venezuelan League pitching, while Chris Rusin had a great debut in the Dominican League. Blake Parker, Hung-Wen Chen, and Oswaldo Martinez each put up good relief performances, while Marco Carrillo continues to dazzle hitters in the Mexican League.

In the AFL, the Solar Sox got back into the thick of things, while Team USA flexed their muscles in the Pan-Am games.

Along with a recap of the Instructional League, welcome to this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas
In the Eagles loss to Escogido on Wednesday, Frank Batista allowed his first earned run in an inning pitched.

Gigantes del Cibao
The Giants have recently signed catcher Mario Mercedes, who hasn’t seen any action yet.

Leones de Escogido
Suiting up for the first time this season for the Lions, recently signed lefty Chris Rusin started on Tuesday and gave up only one earned run in four innings. Rusin struck out three as Escogido topped Cibao 5-3. Rusin had a familiar receiver in Steve Clevenger, who was 1-for-2 with two walks.

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Steve Clevenger wasn’t as good on Friday, as he went 0-for-4 in the Cats’ 5-3 win over Cibaenas.

Left-handed reliever John Gaub got in for Escogido on Wednesday, striking out three but allowed an earned run in an inning pitched as the Lions beat Cibaenas 13-3.

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Estrellas de Oriente
It was a tough time for the organization’s relievers with the Stars. On Monday, Scott Maine allowed an earned run in a third of an inning as Oriente lost to Este 5-4. Rafael Dolis didn’t record an out on Wednesday, giving up a hit to the only batter he faced as the Stars defeated Licey 6-2.

Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
The Orange Growers continue to rely on Blake Parker, as he went two scoreless innings with two strikeouts on Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to Obregon. Parker then picked up his second hold on Thursday with another scoreless inning, aiding Hermosillo in a 4-3 victory against Obregon.

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Venados de Mazatlan
Taiwan native Hung-Wen Chen experienced the ups and downs of being a closer for Mazatlan this week. Chen was called on to close out the Deers’ 9-6 victory over Mexicali on Wednesday, striking out a batter to pick up his second save.

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Hung-Wen Chen then struck out two on Thursday, but allowed an earned run to blow a save in a 5-3 loss to Mexicali.

Yaquis de Obregon
Mexico native Marco Carrillo continues to impress in a starters role for Obregon, striking out four while blanking Hermosillo for five innings in a 4-3 loss on Thursday.

In a 17-inning marathon on Tuesday, Oswaldo Martinez ate up two scoreless innings, striking out two as the Yaquis edged out Hermosillo 3-2.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Venezuelan Winter League

Caribes de Anzoategui
Continuing his struggles this winter, Eduardo Figueroa saw no action for the Indians this week.

Tigres de Aragua
Jonathan Mota continues to struggle, seeing action on only one game and going 0-2 in the Tigers’ 6-3 loss to Margarita on Wednesday.

Leones de Caracas
Marwin Gonzalez had a tough week for the Lions, going 2-for-16 to lower his batting average to .256. He was 1-for-3 in a 9-3 loss to Anzoategui on Sunday. Gonzalez had his best game of the week on Wednesday. Gonzalez was 1-for-5 with three RBI against Anzoategui in a 12-3 victory.

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Marwin Gonzalez ended the week on an 0-for-8 slump in losses to Margarita and Aragua.

Tiburones de La Guaira
The Sharks’ Hector Mayora was roughed up a little on Wednesday, allowing three earned runs in 0.2 innings, as La Guaira lost 13-4 to Magallenas.

Navegantes del Magallanes
Robert Coello is taking to his new role in relief as he held La Guaira in check for 1.1 innings in a 13-4 win on Wednesday. In that game, Bryan LaHair was 1-for-4 with two walks, a home run, and two RBI.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Bryan LaHair continued to strike fear in VBP pitchers this week, going 1-3 with walk, a home run and in Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to La Guaira. The big first baseman was 1-for-2 and three walks as the Navs defeated Lara 5-0 on Friday.

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Aguilas del Zulia
Fire-balling righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx redeemed himself in a relief effort on Wednesday, tossing 2.1 innings of scoreless ball to lower his ERA to 3.38. He also added two strikeouts in the Eagles’ 7-3 loss to Lara.

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox
The Solar Sox are now putting things together, going 5-1 this week to improve their record to 8-9. As talk of compensation for soon-to-be executive Theo Epstein has swirled, you can’t help but wonder whether it has affected some performances. At the center of the rumors is Josh Vitters, who saw his average drop to .375 from .405. Vitters played right field for the first time on Saturday. D.J. LeMahieu continues to maintain himself with a .271 average while tying for third on the team with 11 RBI. He also continues to see action at third and first base. Shortstop Junior Lake hasn’t seemed to be phased, now second on the team with 14 RBI while hitting .379. He also has four homers and leads the league with 11 stole bases. However, he added his fourth fielding error.

While starter Trey McNutt claims that he had no knowledge of his involvement in the Epstein talks, his performance on Wednesday may have been affected. McNutt allowed two earned runs in 1.2 innings to increase his ERA to 4.05. He did record his first strikeout of the AFL. Reliever Marcus Hatley continues to struggle, giving up five earned runs in an inning on Tuesday and suffered his third loss. However, he rebounded to throw a scoreless inning on Saturday. Chris Carpenter has tossed two innings in the past week and allowed an earned run to move his ERA to 2.35 and increase his strikeout total to 11. Andrew Cashner hasn’t seen any work since last Friday.

Pan-Am/World Cup
Team USA has been mowing down the competition at the Pan-Am games. The United States opened with a 20-2 victory over the Dominican Republic and an 11-0 defeat of Panama. However, they fell to Mexico 3-2 on Saturday, with Brett Jackson and Jeffrey Beliveau seeing their first action. Jackson failed to reach in a pinch-hitting appearance, while Beliveau struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief. The US now meets Cuba in the semifinals on Monday.

Instructional League
The Fall Instructional League was completed last weekend. It turned out to be a little disappointing because many of the more exciting prospects were out with injuries. Those missing time included Javier Baez,Taiwan Easterling, Dustin Geiger, Reggie Golden, and Rafael Lopez. However, injuries created opportunities for other players.

Those benefitting the most were Rubi Silva and 18-year old Venezuelan Mark Malave. Sliva not only saw action at second and right field, but also lined up a short for a game. He would end up hitting an “unofficial” (no official scorers are present) .317 in 12 games with a triple, three RBI and three stolen bases. The burly Malave is being looked at primarily as a catcher, but also impressed with his defense at third base. Young infielders Danny Lockhart and Carlos Penalver saw time at third, short, and second.

Among the most impressive hitters was 17-year old Jeimer Candelario. The switching -hitting Dominican batting .297 in 14 games with five extra-base hits and five RBI. He didn’t show as much patience as he did in the DSL this past summer, but did draw four walks in thirty-seven at bats. Before his injury, 19-year old Dustin Geiger hit .333 with two doubles, a home run, and six RBI in nine games (24 at bats).

Several players also took advantage of their experience to post good numbers. Yaniel Cabeza hit .357 with three RBI in eleven games, while Micah Gibbs was .448 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, and eight RBI in thirteen games. Rafael Lopez batted .278 with two doubles and three RBI in eight games before injury.

The catching position received a further boost from 17-year old Justin Marra, who had a double and three RBI with a .261 average in eleven games, while 17-year old Alberto Mineo went 4-for-8 with two RBI in four games.

The organization’s young pitching also had some good moments, with 20-year old Dominican Jose Arias leading the way. In five appearances (two starts), the right-hander posted a 2.45 ERA and 0.82 WHIP while striking out twelve against two walks. Twenty-year old Starling Peralta appeared in four games (two starts) and struck out eight with three walks and a 2.16 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Making his professional debut, 21-year old righty Ian Dickson had a 1.69 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in four appearances (two starts).

Leading the staff in ERA was Luis Liria. In six appearances (one start), the 21-year old right- handed pitcher had both a 0.82 ERA and 0.82 WHIP. He’ll have to work more on his command, with five walks to four strikeouts. Lefty Frank Del Valle struck out 14 with only two walks, and had a 1.80 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in ten innings of work. Another left-hander, Kyler Burke, was able to post a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 6.2 innings, striking out eight and walking three batters. Nineteen year-old Austin Reed and 20-year old Michael Jensen each had a 0.00 ERA.

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  • Vivid_Reality

    Jeimer Candelario should be fun to watch this year. Heres to hoping he can continue his success in the upper minors.

  • John G

    Good stuff Tom. Are there any other Cubs prospects playing in the Pan Am games for other countries other than USA?

    • Tom U

      As far as I can see, there are no other Cub prospects playing in the games, although former-Cub Jose Macias is playing for Panama.

      By the way, the US is taking it to Cuba in the semis, leading 12-4 in the top of the sixth.

  • daverj

    Given the current rebuilding, unless we sign Pujols or Fielder (and I’m not expressing a view either way on those two), LaHair should be starting at 1B in 2012.  Spending $10 million on a stopgap at 1B for a year or two doesn’t make any sense.  The money would be better spent elsewhere.

    • Anonymous47701

      What About Trading for 1B Lars Anderson if the Cubs Decide to put LaHair in RF. He is blocked out by Adrian Gonzalez and doesn’t really have any other place to go in the Red Sox Organization. With Anderson and LaHair in the Lineup, that could translate into a pretty good jump in Left-Handed Power.

      • daverj

        LaHair in RF and Soriano in LF sounds like a nightmare defensively for Cubs starting pitchers.

        Also, Anderson’s prospect status has really faded the past couple years.  The past 2 seasons at AAA, he hit around .260 with 10-15 HR.  What make you believe he could have any success in 2012 at the major league level?

        • Anonymous47701

          Anderson can get on-base, can’t he?

          • daverj

            Yes, a fair point.  His OBP has been solid in the minors as he can take a walk.  I’d just be concerned we’d be looking at a .220-.230 batting average with 8-10 HR.  Even with the walks, not sure that cuts it as a starting major league 1B.  He is still young and could be a late bloomer who produces a few years down the road … I just don’t think one can expect much in 2012.

          • RynoTiger

            and if we’re gonna go for a  .220 hitter then we might as well stick with Pena who could hit least 2-3 times as many homers as Anderson.  though I’m not advocating for that.  just saying…

        • Aaron

          Agreed, except for Anderson. He’s still very young, and if the Cubs have to give away a top prospect in the Theo acquisition, then as is customary, the Red Sox should be sending a lesser prospect the Cubs’ way. 

          The way I see it, if LaHair can’t get it done at 1B, then they’d have no less than 3 options at 1B in their own system with Anderson. They’d also have Rebel Ridling, and could then afford to move Flaherty to 1B full-time or even Vitters (who has been playing their in the AZFL as well as the regular season).

          Also, don’t discount some of the non-tender or trade candidates such as: Loney, Lind, and either Trumbo or Morales of the Angels. 

          I think Epstein will make a hard push for Fielder given his experience with older free agent signings, so you have to figure that all of his other FA moves and/or trades would kind of follow that same pattern where they don’t target anyone above age 32 in terms of hitters. Bill James was pretty clear in his research that it is NOT a good idea to target those players, as they are entering the decline phases of their respective careers.

          Here are some other names for you to consider for non-tender candidates that Epstein might pursue:
          Pitching-Franklin Morales (could be converted back to starter), Carmona (more of a trade candidate than non-tender), Liriano (same as Carmona), Pelfrey (Mets will likely tender him a contract just to maximize his value), Joe Saunders, Kuo, and the cream of the crop…..Jonathan Sanchez (who I believe will be almost certainly traded)

          Position Players-Loney, BJ Upton (not necessarily a non-tender candidate, but trade candidate because of his impending raise in arbitration), Quentin (just like Upton, would be trade candidate because of $$ in arbitration), Delmon Young (though with his performance in postseason, it might earn him a spot on their roster next year), Ian Stewart (recent comments by O’Dowd suggest Cubs would have to trade for him versus the Rockies just non-tendering him, making him a FA), Sandoval (NOT non-tendered, but traded, based on the return they can get)

          There are slim pickings in that group of players for true impact talent, but if Epstein can work his magic to land the following attainable players, I think the Cubs would be in PHENOMENAL shape next year:
          Morales (as swing-man)
          Liriano
          Jonathan Sanchez
          Carmona/Pelfrey (either would do)
          Loney (only if non-tendered)
          Upton
          Quentin
          Sandoval

          To get those players, the Cubs would have to give up a lot of talent from this group (assuming they’re not already traded in the Epstein deal): McNutt, Carpenter, Dolis, LeMahieu, Flaherty, Vitters, among others.

          Would it be worth it? In my opinion, it would be, and if Epstein could somehow work his magic with 3-way trades, in which he deals other teams prospects for those players, then it’d be even better. Sanchez, Upton, and Sandoval would likely command significant returns, so you probably couldn’t do them without involving a third team.

          Of course, NONE of that will happen, and quite frankly, given Sandoval’s weight issues, Quentin’s injury issues, and Upton’s attitude issues, the Cubs might be better served just going the FA route, or through their own system, but if those players were healthy, and playing in front of the huge crowds at Wrigley, you have to think their level of play might go up from the sheer adrenaline (or it could also collapse like it did for Bradley and so many others before him). 

          Overall, I like the Cubs’ chances with Epstein at the helm, and my only level of concern remains the compensation for a suit…I’m a little nervous there. I also think the Cubs need to look no further than the Royals, with them hiring Dayton Moore as their “savior from a winning organization that knew how to draft and evaluate talent” as a case study in cautious optimism. The players ultimately have to get it done, and more specifically, it’s the right combination of players, and the right type of manager (ie.-one that puts players in position to succeed).

          If the Cubs can unload Zambrano, Soriano, Byrd, and even Marmol, they could possibly free up nearly $26 million (amount of salary Cubs would likely have to eat: Z=$10 million of $18.5, Soriano=$10 million of $19 million, Byrd=$3 million of $6.5 million, Marmol=$2 million of $7 million…or if they get lucky…none of it). If they did that, then I’d hope we’d see a lineup like this:

          Castro-SS
          LeMahieu-2B
          Fielder-1B
          ARAM-3B 
          Jackson-CF
          BJ Upton-RF
          LaHair-LF
          Soto/Clevenger/Castillo (doesn’t really matter to me)-C

          Here’s my justification for that lineup….First of all, you have two good contact hitters at the top of the order, and two run producers that follow. You always put run producers back-to-back like that, so a team doesn’t have a break if they get one of them out. Then, you figure you’re essentially turning the lineup over after those guys, so you put an OBP machine and speed guy like Jackson there, with another speed guy thereafter in Upton, followed by a run producer in LaHair, who also happens to work the count pretty well. Anything you get out of the catcher’s spot is gravy after that. The beauty of putting Jackson and Upton back-to-back in that lineup, is they not only have speed, but both of them also have power, so they could theoretically clean up the work if Fielder and ARAM failed. 

          That, my friends, is how you put a team in position to succeed, and that is something our idiot manager, Quade, had absolutely NO idea how to do last year, where we often times saw DeWitt in the 3 hole, or even clean-up, just because the player he happened to be subbing for was in that spot. NONE of what Q-ball did last year made any sense.

          • Dorasaga

            Aaron, you had really summarized what a lot of us wondered, “What the hell are wrong with this management?”

            Since 2008, I worried the Cubs is handling its business like the Royals. Its GM Moore once worked with the Braves system, under the celebrated and late Schuerholtz, but that was it. The only difference between them and here is a budget 50 million less. The rest are the same: overpaying of mediocre talents; keeping prospects in the minor for too long…

            I don’t know if Epstein needs to shoot for J.Sanchez or Liriano. Both had command issues, and they might turn out to be mediocre talents like Silva or Meche (poor soul; what a great guy who ended an OK career abruptly). Don’t you think these pitchers are reclamation project? You definitely know your pitching. I also wonder what’s your take on their mechanics.

          • Aaron

            The difference between the Royals when they hired Moore from a successful Braves organization and the Cubs circa 2011 with their Epstein hiring is that Moore was not previously a GM, while Epstein brought 2 championships to the Red Sox, so there’s a distinct difference there, but Tom Ricketts’ goal was pretty much the same with hiring a new GM (from successful organization, commitment to player development, etc.), and Moore could’ve fit that description too when he was first hired.

            I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s only a Jay Jackson and Marwin Gonzalez for Epstein sort of trade versus what we keep hearing.

            As for Sanchez and Liriano, I’d much rather have Liriano. Even though Liriano’s delivery is much more inconsistent and dare I say violent, and he flares open a lot on his delivery, thus forcing him to over-compensate or even under-compensate. When he over-compensates (in other words, when his delivery is too closed), his pitches wind up outside in the dirt usually. When he under-compensates (opens up too much), his pitches end up inside on lefties, or outside on righties. It’s really Pitching 101 in my mind. Even in his no-hitter this year, he was finishing like that, and I could remember it, but watched it again on YouTube to verify. I believe if he has a good pitching coach, he’ll be a VERY dominant pitcher.

            As for Sanchez, he has a much, much more desirable and repeatable delivery. If you want a prime example of his delivery, you need look no further than Sean Marshall…..VERY similar deliveries. 

            Their career numbers are very similar actually:
            Liriano: 4.19 ERA, 683 IP, 269 walks, 679 K’s, 1.327 WHIP (27 yrs old)
            Sanchez: 4.26 ERA, 708 IP, 376 walks, 736 K’s, 1.388 WHIP (28 yrs old)

            But make no mistake about what I said about their deliveries, Liriano is the pitcher with the most potential of the two

          • Anonymous47701

            Possible Trade idea?

            3B Pablo Sandoval
            for INF/LF Blake DeWitt, 3B Marquez Smith, LHP Austin Kirk

          • Aaron

            Try more like Vitters, McNutt, and LeMahieu

          • Dorasaga

            Thanks. I’ll take those points in mind next time I watch them pitch, perhaps when the rumor mill deals with them again.
            :-)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Theo’s press conference Tues at 11am

    • daverj

      Are you sure its not a press conference to announce a future press conference to announce Theo? I’m joking, but the Cubs do have quite a way of dragging these things out.

      • Jkuhn

        Not just the Cubs in this deal. Actually, I think it would have been done quicker but they refused to give in to the ridiculous demands.  Good for them!

        • Tony_Hall

          Exactly!

    • Calicub

      do you know which if any national media is going to be covering this?

      i assume ESPN but since I’m obviously not in Chicago I wasn’t sure if WGN America would be too…

      • Calicub

        and you can’t rely on ESPN if you wanna watch the whole thing.

        • Darrenmcculloch

          The MLB Network will probably cover it. 

      • Tony_Hall

        The Cubs are preparing for the largest press conference ever at Wrigley.

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-epstein-arrives-at-wrigley-field-to-meet-staff-20111024,0,1355941.story

        “The Cubs are expecting a significant gathering of media Tuesday, including most of the Boston media covering Epstein’s departure from the Red Soxorganization. A source said it could be the biggest news conference the team has held at Wrigley.  “

        • John G

          “Epstein went to lunch at Vines on Clark with several members of the baseball
          operations department, including Randy Bush, Oneri Fleita, Chuck Wasserstrom,
          Jimmy Bank and Scott Nelson. Cubs president Crane Kenney was not in the
          group.”
          Most telling part was the last sentence.

          • paulcatanese

            Maybe because there was going to be separate checks?

          • Tony_Hall

            Keep in mind that Theo is President of “Baseball” Operations.  He went to lunch with his “team”.  There were no Ricketts or “Business” Operations people.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I will post the online links for the press conference. I will also be tweeting the highlights and posting those in the comments as well.

  • Aaron

    Phillies just declined options on Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt…according to reports, they aren’t expected to offer arbitration either, making both free agents (assuming Oswalt still wants to play).

    If I’m Epstein, I’m trading players that still have some value: Soto, Marmol, Soriano (if he picks up the bulk of his contract), Byrd, and even Barney, and trying to not only clear as much payroll as possible, but accumulate prospects to go make other trades. Dealing those guys would create space in the rotation and pen for Oswalt and Lidge, as well as salary space for their contracts. 

    I cannot fathom a way that the rotation will be even close to what it was last year under Epstein’s guidance. About the only sure bet to remain is Garza. Epstein might try to get Dempster to leave (freeing up even more money for the rotation), and completely revamp it with something like:
    Garza
    Oswalt
    Jonathan Sanchez
    Edwin Jackson
    Cashner or Samardzija

    And the pen could also see a face-lift if he can get a decent return on Marmol, as now Lidge, KROD, Bell, Madson, and even Epstein’s own Papelbon are available in FA after the season. He also could look at Broxton and Capps as set-up men.

    I would think Epstein would want Wood and Marshall to return, along with one of Cashner or Samardzija (whomever doesn’t make the rotation). Russell, Carpenter, Dolis, and Beliveau are about the only ones from the system that could be in the mix. Theoretically, he could make a dream pen out of one of the afforementioned closers, plus Wood, Marshall, Samardzija/Cashner, Beliveau, Broxton, and Carpenter. 

    If the options on Sizemore and Swisher are declined, I could also see him going after those guys. I would assume that he probably had assurances from Ricketts that the payroll would be near $140-150 million, or he likely wouldn’t have taken the job. 

    If so, he’d likely have between $40-50 million to spend on free agents (including arbitration raises to Soto and Garza…they only sure-bets to receive it). If he landed Pujols or Fielder, then he’d likely have between $20-25 million left to spend on free agents. (and this is NOT taking into account trading Soriano, Zambrano, Byrd, etc., which in my mind, is absolutely necessary, even if you have to eat 50% of their salaries, in order to field a competitive team)…So as I mentioned previously, the Cubs could likely save $26 million by eating roughly 50% of their salaries, allowing Epstein flexibility to work with about $50 million after he landed either Fielder or Pujols.

    $9-12 million goes to the new closer (or less if it’s a KROD or Lidge, who need to prove themselves again)
    $5-6 million goes to FA middle relief
    $12 million goes to Edwin Jackson
    $10 million goes to Roy Oswalt (due to injury concern)
    $5-6 million goes to Jonathan Sanchez
    =roughly $8 million left, which he’d have to convince Swisher to come for less, or in a trade for Upton, that money would go to Upton. Sizemore would receive about half that because of injury concern.

    This type of negotiation, and moving money around would NEVER be done by Hendry, which is why I’m most excited about Epstein. True, we don’t know the plan yet, but all of this is possible, and if you look at their current salaries, and impending raises, all of the salaries mentioned are pretty much in line with what they’ll receive, so theoretically, it’d fit in the budget.

    • Vivid_Reality

      I’ve seen you post several times that you want Edwin Jackson on the team, why? Boras is going to command a huge contract for him. One that I would quite frankly not be comfortable paying. He flashes brilliance at times but is way to inconsistent to lock up long term. For almost what we would pay Jackson, (5yrs 70-75mm) we could go after Darvish. I would much rather take the gamble on Darvish being a frontline starter than give into Boras’ demands.

      • cc002600

        sorry, but I have seen enough japanese players over the last 10 years to realize they are not worth the money or the gamble. Other than Ichiro and Matsui, can you name another player from Japan that has lived up to the billing ? 

        No thank you.  I’ve seen this too many times.

        • Vivid_Reality

          I don’t want Darvish but if I had to choose between the two, I would pick Darvish. Thats all I was trying to say.

          • daverj

            Darvish will likely cost $100 million … more than Jackson.  I’d prefer to sign neither of them and spend the money elsewhere.

          • cc002600

            that’s fair. But I would respectfully disagree. I would prefer Jackson who has at least proven he can win in MLB, although I know he is inconsistent.

             Either way, I think we both agree that neither are worth it. :-)

        • daverj

          Kuroda lived up to the billing

    • diehardcubfan

      I do not think Lidge is worth the gamble as he will be 35 going into next season.  If the Cubs considered going after Lidge no more than 2 years and a incentive laden contract.  He is a injury question mark at this point in his career.

      As for Oswalt he is also not a spring chicken at 34.  At the most he is worth a 2 year deal that is incentive laden.  I do not think his arm has much left after having thrown over 2100 innings over his 11 year career.   

      The Cubs need starting pitching so Oswalt would be worth the expenditure but would prefer to see the Cubs go for more younger players.  Oswalt would only be a stopgap.

      After watching Edwin Jackson pitch last night walking 7 in the game not sure I am sold on him.  I think better for the Cubs to look at other options.

    • J Daniel

      Aaron,

      I agree with you in the idea of trading as many of the guys they can (Soto, Marmol, Byrd, Sori, untouchables Baker and DeWitt for as many prospects as possible.  Add those to the draft and current group they are bound to hit on a couple.

      I agree with some of the free agent signings to fill out the roster.  Keep a few of the others – Wood, Marshall, Cashner . . . and you have a start in the right direction.

      I am sure we will see a lot of movement this winter.

    • Adfdadf

      @aaron you have too much free time

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Tom, thank you for another great report.

    • Tom U

      Like I always say, you make me look good.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Carrie Muskat: Souvenir shop across from Wrigley is selling No. 12 #Cubs jerseys with “Epstein” on the back

    I wonder how Soriano feels about this.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    #Cubs in #AFL (10/24): Junior Lake (DH): 0-for-4; DJ LeMahieu (3B): 1-for-4, R

  • Cory
  • texcubnut

    Thanks for the continued great reports, Tom. People like you, Bryan, Aaron and of course, Neil are the reasons I come to this website, the first thing, everyday. Once again, thank you.

  • Jim_Tinley_Park

    Tom U.

    As always, Great job !

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.

  • Tom U

    Team USA outlasts Cuba 12-10 to go to the gold medal game. The US will face either Mexico or Canada.

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      Fidel and Raul Castro probably will deny this.

      • Dorasaga

        It’s a sad day for Cuban baseball. It’s rare that this “amateur” All-Star team that plays only 90 games per season on that island won’t make it to the finals. The last time was WBC 2009, if I recall correctly.

  • Aaron

    If you look at the recipe for the Red Sox success in 2004, it was the 1-2 year contracts signed by veterans that got them over the hump. He knew that what they were dealing with was a group of predominantly veteran players already, and as such, he couldn’t just blow it up and start over.

    Epstein landed Millar in 2003 at age 30. He landed Mueller at age 32 in 2003. He landed Ortiz in 2003 at age 27 when he was non-tendered by the Twins. He landed Reese in 2004 who then was cast aside when he landed Orlando Cabrera in a deadline deal involving the Cubs for Garciappara. He already had Damon, who was signed before he took over in 2002. He already had Wakefield, Martinez, and Lowe in the rotation, then added Schilling and Arroyo (acquired the prior year, but appeared in just 6 games in 2003) to the rotation. He also added a veteran Foulke to stabilize the closer position.

    Take a glance at the offseason, and you can see a number of things Epstein could do to bring an instant winner to the North Side. 

    He could bring ARAM back on a 2 year deal, or just let him walk. He likely will go after a non-tender at 1B if he can’t get Fielder or Pujols at his price and # of years. If the Yankees don’t pick up Swisher’s option (unlikely…but certainly possible), then I would wager a bet he’d sign him instantly, keeping his signing as leverage in Pujols and Fielder negotiations as Swisher can play 1B and corner OF. If he’s not allowed to walk, I could see him going after Loney if he’s non-tendered, hoping Jaramillo could work his magic and get him to generate more loft (and thus power) in his swing. 

    I could also see him signing Jim Thome as a bench bat and back-up at 1B, because his OBP is historically very solid, and he’s a grinder, and great clubhouse presence, despite his age. I could also see him going hard after a versatile guy like Michael Cuddyer. 

    Basically, anyone on the Cubs roster right now that didn’t have at least a .340+OBP better be looking over his shoulder, because if you looking at the Red Sox recipe for success, they consistently had guys with OBP’s over .350+ in their lineup (I lowered the bar to .340, because the NL will have less offense by nature). Don’t believe me? Go look at baseballreference.com since Theo took over. It is abundantly clear that they placed a focus on OBP, and they had a TREMENDOUS amount of success. This very fact is what I’ve been preaching for a VERY long time on here. Guys like Agustin, Neil, etc. can back me up on that too. That is one MAJOR reason why I am excited about Epstein taking over. IT’s because he doesn’t mess around with low OBP guys. If you can’t maintain at least a .350+OBP on average with the Red Sox when he was there…you were gone, and they’d keep trying different guys to get that successful combination. He also doesn’t like free swingers.

    The following guys better watch out (OBP’s listed): 
    Soto-.310
    Barney-.313
    Soriano-.289
    Byrd-.324
    Colvin-.204
    Baker-.302
    DeWitt-.305
    Campana-.303
    Johnson-.348 (this is HORRIBLY misleading, as he had just 5 walks vs 63 K’s in just 246 AB’s…his second consecutive season with 5 walks and 50+K’s in limited duty)

    From what I’ve read in Moneyball, then the new wave of talent like Daniels, Friedman, and Epstein and Epstein’s consultant (Bill James) is that they place a huge emphasis on productive outs (ie.-guys that can make contact, which would seem to make LeMahieu and Vitters safe despite low walk rates), OBP, and OPS. They don’t seem to care if your average is between .250-.270, so long as you have an OBP .350 and above, and a strong OPS.

    I’ve literally been preaching about that importance since I’ve been posting on this site, and yet Hendry almost always signed/traded for guys that didn’t meet the description.

    I had some excellent research too in order to back that up. I believe Agustin and Neil will certainly remember those posts, where I went all the way back in history to World Series champion teams, and tried to find similarities, and it was almost universal that their hitters had high OBP’s and OPS. 

    This is likely why Epstein will not value some of the Cubs prospects like Hendry would, and I’m infinitely grateful for that. Guys like Ridling, Brett Jackson, Clevenger, Wright, M. Gonzalez, LaHair, Rohan, Cerda, Watkins,  R. Jones, Gibbs, DeVoss, Hoilman, R. Lopez, and Chen all might rank higher than some of your typical Top Prospects lists released by the Cubs organization.

    Guys like Ha, Lake, Golden, Silva, W. Castillo, Szczur (unless he can pick up where he left off in Peoria and NOT Daytona), Flaherty (aside from his #’s this year at AA), etc., who all might be on a typical Cubs Top Prospects list, probably would be left off in Epstein’s mind if you look at what he desires out of players.

    What’s funny, is a lot of people don’t realize that he does the same thing in his system when he’s looking to trade prospects…Guys like Fuentes and Rizzo who were keys to the AGON trade would’ve never made it in an Epstein-run Red Sox team. The only true miss they had, ironically, was when Epstein was on his hiatus and Cherington and Hoyer consummated the Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez trade for Beckett and Lowell. If Theo was still around, it’s unlikely he would’ve included Ramirez in that deal based on his tremendous OBP and OPS in the minors…but I guess we’ll never know.

    • J Daniel

      Then if Theo is trading for his compensation they are in good shape.

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      Aaron

       I’m a fan of OBP, in addition to that I want players to bring more than that to the table. Guys who can field , steal bases etc. If a player is one dimensional he better be damm good at it. 

      • Aaron

        I believe Theo, Beane, James, etc. all had the same thing in mind when they placed an emphasis on OBP. The theory on why it matters is really two-fold:

        #1-If you have a bunch of .330’s and under players (think Soriano-esque) on your roster, you have less chances to drive runners in than if you had all .350+OBP guys in the lineup

        #2-There is a legitimate case to be made for those higher OBP guys seeing more pitches. It’s almost universal that they see more pitches, draw more walks, etc. But a more important byproduct of that, is the fact that they make the pitchers work harder, and thus, get them out of the game quicker. If you need a perfect example of that…look no further than LaHair last year. I loved watching his AB’s, because he was seeing 9 pitches or more sometimes, and not only was he forcing guys to throw their whole repertoire, but he was giving guys behind him chances to see all those pitches, and tiring the pitcher. While LaHair hit .288 (which is still pretty good), he was infinitely more valuable than a guy like Johnson who hit .309 or Byrd, who was close at .276, because they notoriously swung at the first pitch nearly every damn time. If Epstein can assemble a roster of .350+OBP guys like Swisher, B. Jackson, Pujols/Fielder, ARAM, etc. the Cubs will be in great shape.

        • Jim_Tinley_Park

          The guy who I would like Theo to trade for is Ben Francisco. Underrated and under the radar type of move.  

          • Aaron

            Respectfully disagree with you….think “OBP, OPS, etc.” 

            The Hendry way of thinking has passed us….THANKFULLY, and hopefully for good.

            This notion that you can have a good amount of success with guys that hit .250’s with a .330’s OBP and below is precisely what got Hendry into this mess to begin with. 

            What you have to think about with Epstein is OBP, OPS, and WAR…guys that excel in those categories will likely be on his short list of replacements.

            Also, don’t discount internal candidates with him. He has been fond of taking bench spots and other difficult to improve (through trade or FA) spots on the roster, and just given them to rookies versus signing veterans simply to sign them (remember Hendry doing this? A majority of us would be up in arms, saying, “why did he sign ____for the bench, for $____million when he could’ve had _____rookie for minimum?!?!?”). 

            The Cubs could potentially have openings at 1B, (nobody signed other than LaHair internally), 3B (if ARAM isn’t re-signed), 2B (because Barney isn’t the type of player he likes as he has a low OBP, and no other skills that stand out), RF (Johnson and Colvin are both not Epstein type of players), CF (ditto Byrd), LF (ditto Soriano). In fact, the only underachieving player that might remain is Soto, and only if he can’t get good enough value in a trade.

            I could see Jackson getting a shot in CF as the starter regardless of whether or not Byrd is traded, as he’d just be relegated to the bench. I could also see LeMahieu getting the shot at 2B because he’s proven he can accumulate the hits in the minors. I could see LaHair getting a shot at LF or 1B. 

            So, RF, and 3B (if ARAM leaves), and either LF or 1B (depending on where LaHair plays), might be the only spots filled externally. 

            As for bench spots, I could see someone like Wright in the OF, Flaherty in the IF (though he needs to have his OBP around his AA line from this year versus his .340-ish OBP from prior years), as well as Rebel Ridling, Clevenger, and maybe M. Gonzalez (and the reason I include him, even though his OBP over his minor league career is less than desirable, is because Epstein likes the versatile guys, and Gonzalez has a good glove, and can play all the IF positions, in addition to all OF spots).

            I think when people are looking to predict what Theo might do for the Cubs next year, and the type of player he values, you have to consider all of those factors: OBP, OPS, WAR, versatility, and even age (which I discussed earlier). I honestly have no idea what he values as far as pitching, other than traditionally, the stat-heads seem to love the WAR again, but also WHIP.

            I’ve heard differing opinions on whether or not they favor strikeout pitchers or not. I’ve heard they like guys that miss bats, but on the same token, I’ve heard they like the “efficiency” pitchers that get outs while pitching to contact and keeping the ball on the ground. There’s a lot more factors with pitching evaluation vs hitting evaluation….at least in my opinion.

          • Dorasaga

            I kind of grew skeptical of WAR. It’s a nice tool for fans to discuss past and present, and compare pitchers to batters when it comes to contribution for RESULTS, but it’s a theoretical tool. So much of it was based on a good theory that is result-oriented, which I don’t know if we want to use for evaluating talents, esp. minor league career and prospects.

    • Anthony

      Nice work. Also remember Theo got 84 HR’s from two guys named Manny and Ortiz in 2004?

      It will be interesting to see the new management effect on the minor leaguers, especially with a full season for the 2011 newcomers into the system.

      By mid season 2012, the prospect list rankings may look completely different?

      Justin BourPaul HoilmanRebel RidlingRyan CuneoRoderick ShouldersRyan DurrenceBrandon MayDaniel VogelbachGreg RohanRichard JonesDavid MaciasDJ LeMahieuGian GuzmanGregori GonzalezLogan WatkinsNate SamsonPierre LePageWes DarvillZeke DeVossCarlos FigueroaDustin GeigerJosh VittersMarquez SmithMatthew CerdaRyan FlahertyScott MooreTravis GarciaWillson ContrerasBlake LalliCarlos RomeroChad NobleChris RobinsonJohan De JesusLuis FloresMario MercedesMicah GibbsMichael BrenlyNeftali RosarioRafael LopezSergio BurruelSteve ClevengerTaylor DavisWelington CastilloYaniel CabezasBrian InoaJake OpitzDong-Yub KimMatthew SpencerJesus MorelliBen KlafczynskiSmaily BorgesAbner AbreuBrad SnyderNelson PerezBrett JacksonDarien MartinEvan CrawfordJames AdduciGarrett SchlechtLou MontanezJohn AndreoliMatthew SzczurJae-Hoon HaTy WrightOliver ZapataBlair SpringfieldRubi SilvaTaiwan EasterlingMichael BurgessAnthony GiansantiEduardo GonzalezKyung-Min NaReggie GoldenBrad ZapenasJunior LakeRafael ValdesMarwin GonzalezJavier BaezJonathan MotaMarco HernandezMatt CampElliot SotoKenny SocorroDaniel LockhartDustin HarringtonGioskar AmayaArismendy Alcantara

      • Dorasaga

        Interesting notion of HR. In 2004, The Rangers and Cubs both out-homered the Red Sox; 227 and 235, respectively. The White Sox and Yankees both had 242 dingers. The Red Sox knocked out 222, with the Phillies, the Cardinals, and the Dodgers not far behind.