Catching Up with the Cubs after Turkey Day

Thanksgiving has come and gone and so has Black Friday, once the holiday weekend comes to an end it figures to get very busy for the Chicago Cubs. Baseball’s Winter Meetings kickoff a week from Monday, so this time next week all of baseball will start making their way to Dallas.

The Cubs offered salary arbitration to both Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena prior to Wednesday’s deadline. Both players have until December 7 to accept or decline arbitration. Kerry Wood was not offered arbitration but is expected to re-sign with the Cubs soon … either a one or two-year deal.

Dale Sveum reportedly asked a former teammate to be his pitching coach. And whether Chris Bosio has accepted or not should be known soon. As for the rest of Sveum’s staff, if Craig Counsell retires he could be in the mix.

Here’s the update …

Jorge Soler and Yoenis Cespedes
The Cubs are not the only team interested in the two Cuban outfielders … Jorge Soler and Yoenis Cespedes. While Yoenis Cespedes has garnered a majority of the attention, Jorge Soler is creating a lot of buzz. Until recently, the Cubs were reportedly one of three teams interested in signing the 19-year old outfielder.

Most figures Soler is a couple of years away but he will not cost what Cespedes is rumored to be looking for this off-season. Soler recently worked out for the Phillies at their facility in the Dominican Republic and the Phillies’ scouting director came away “extremely impressed.”

According to ESPN, the Cubs, Nationals, Yankees, Marlins, Rangers and Phillies are now the teams known to be interested in signing Jorge Soler.

The Cubs were in the Dominican last Monday and held a workout for Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes fits the profile of the type of athletic player the new regime is looking to sign but the big question is, will the 26-year old be able to hit big league pitching?

Yu Darvish
The Cubs are rumored to be interested in the right-hander from Japan but he might not end up being an option … not only for the Cubs but for any of the 30 teams.

Yu Darvish has not been posted yet by his Japanese team and according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, he might not want to pitch in the states in 2012.

The Japan Series ended a week ago and according to Morosi, “one source with close knowledge of Darvish’s thinking said Friday afternoon it remains more likely than not that the right-hander will come to the major leagues in 2012.” There has been no deadline placed on when Darvish will be posted.

Based on how long the process (posting and signing) took for Daisuke Matsuzaka to ink a deal with the Red Sox, the best case scenario would have Darvish signing with a team state-side in mid-January … again, if he is posted.

News, Notes and Rumors
Whether or not the Cubs are interested in signing Prince Fielder this winter is unknown at this point (rumors have suggested the Cubs are interested and rumors have suggested otherwise). If Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are interested, those reports will begin making headlines soon. The Brewers offered Fielder arbitration on Wednesday.

George Ofman tweeted on Thanksgiving about the Cubs’ third base possibilities for next season … the Padres’ Chase Headley and the Rockies’ Ian Stewart. As Ofman tweeted, the Cubs would have to trade for either one.

Jim Bowden (XM Radio) during his show on Friday said he has heard the Cubs will be players in the free agent market this off-season. The former general manager added he would not be surprised if the Cubs made a splash or two this off-season.

With the culture change that Tom Ricketts has asked Theo Epstein to make on the North Side, Paul Sullivan asked if some of Cubs’ staples will bite the dust … like ‘Go Cubs Go’.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, several players on the Cubs’ roster are available in the right deals. Those players include Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Marlon Byrd and Sean Marshall who will be free agents following the 2012 season … and Matt Garza who will hit the free agent market after the 2013 season.

Pat Hughes’ Baseball Voices
Pat Hughes’ latest edition of his Baseball Voices series is Ron Santo. For those unfamiliar with Hughes’ work with the series, please take the time to check out his website. Pat Hughes has done a phenomenal job of collecting highlights of the best play-by-play announcers in the history of the game.

I recently received a copy of Hughes’ tribute to Ron Santo and words cannot describe how good it is. If you liked listening to the Pat and Ron Show and miss Ron Santo, take the time to either order the CD or download it on iTunes.

As the cover says, “If you love to laugh, you’ll love this CD.”

Click here to order a copy of ‘Ron Santo, Cubs Legend‘ – Baseball Voices

Cubstory
Chris Jaffe from The Hardball Times recently took a trip down memory lane and looked back on the trade that brought Rick Sutcliffe to the Cubs and The Sandberg Game.

The ’84 team has a special place in Cubs’ history and helped create an entire generation of Cubs’ fans. Both of Jaffe’s articles are well-worth the time.

Sutcliffe-Carter Trade
The Sandberg Game

Tom Ricketts on FOX Business Network
Tom Ricketts was on FOX Business Network last Tuesday to discuss the new CBA, Theo Epstein and Wrigley Field. The CCO was emailed the link to pass onto our readers.


Ernie Paicopolos from Fenway Nation emailed the CCO about his side blog and asked us to pass along to our readers. His new blog is based on Theo Epstein’s move to the Cubs … Boston Theo Watch.

Well, that’s the update … and I’m sticking to it!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • RynoTiger

    As for 3B options of Headley and Stewart, let’s just hope Theo and the boys forget they even plan in the majors.  Both=Not worth it & Not Impactful

    • mutantbeast

      Headley might not be a superstar-but his numbers away from Petco have been pretty good and his defense matrixes suggest hes a better-than-average defender at 3b. I read somewhere where ARam cost the Cubs 32 runs in 2011 defensively. Take that away from his 93 rbi-that leaves a 61 run producer at 3b. Just taking Headleys numbers away from petco, Id bet Headley will do better at Wrigley. Lets not forget, a lot of the Cubs problems last year were defensive, and not only errors-Cubs were 5th worse on balls in play that became hits, mostly because both ARam and Barney lack range, and Castro doesnt know how to position himself yet. 

      • AFox

        That is surprising about his splits.  2009-2011 BA:  .229 at Petco/.305 away (only .206 at Wrigley, but small sample size)  Don’t know much about his defense, but would have to be an upgrade over Aramis, but doesn’t hit for much power.  Best case scenario, Headley looks like a younger, slightly more athletic version of Mark DeRosa.  Not bad.

      • RynoTiger

        if the Cubs aren’t going to be competitive this year, like many posters are saying, then there is no need to trade for either of these mediocre players. Just sign a FA to 1 yr contract and have a backup/platoon if need be and use this year as the year to make a final decision on Josh Vitters future at 3B and then based off his performance this year, probably in the minors, determine what the future of 3B will be for the organization. If he’s not it, then look at a trade or FA signing in late 2012-early 2013 for something more impactful and long term.

        • Brp921

          I agree, unless the Cubs spend big in free agency, to become contenders, which by most accounts they won’t.

        • J Daniel

          Let’s wait and see if Theo and Jed say this and then make a decision.  If they are unable to unload Byrd and Soto, along with all else that has come off the books, they will have close to $80 million to spend.  Not suggesting they spend it all in one place but you can bring in a number of professional players along with a stud.  Winter meetings will give us all the direction they are looking at.

          But again, not suggesting they spend it all.

    • Cubluv

      Realistically how far away is vitters away from being up and is he going to be a 3rd baseman?

      • cubs1967

        never.
        1st yr at AAA……his 5th yr in the minors.  he’s our LF at some point………maybe.

      • cubtex

        He is being moved to 3B again for next year according to Fleita. He is only 22 and could be ready by mid 2012 or 2013.

      • Ripsnorter1

        How far away is Vitters?

        Answer: Light years, baby. Light years.

        Can’t field. Can’t hit. What more could you possibly want in your 3B?

    • daverj

      I’d like either of those guys as long as the cost isn’t too high.  Both have struggled but are still young and were Top 50 prospects in all of baseball at one point (Stewart was a Top 10 guy).  The Pads will probably want too much for Headley, but Stewart’s cost might be more reasonable.

      • Brp921

        What would you consider a fair trade for them?

        • daverj

          Good question.  If I were the Cubs, I’d offer a mid level prospect (like a Carpenter, LeMahieu, Ha, or Golden) plus a low level prospect.  Neither of those options may be enough for the Pads or Rox, but if it took more, then I’d pass.

          • paulcatanese

            I would hesitate with Carpenter as I think he will be a very big plus for the Cubs, as they need pitching to begin with. LeMahieu, pretty much the same, I think he will be one to stick and is pretty solid with his game and will improve.

            Ha, well he’s another story, as he still has much to prove, and still dosent have a defensive position that he can call his own. I defer to Golden, don’t know too much about him.

          • J Daniel

            Paul,

            I agree with you 100% on Carpenter.  I was, and posted so, furious when they sent him down and I had to watch Lopez and the other loser I can’t even remember now.  He has GREAT stuff, and at the very least, could be an outstanding set up guy.  Who knows about his make up but has the stuff to be a closer.

          • Anthony

            It is well known that not many, if any outwork Carpenter, so his makeup is plus-plus

          • John_CC

            Ian Stewart is BAD.  He is 26 years old, has never shown that he can compete at the big league level.

            He made $2.2 Million last year to play 48 games and K 37 times. His OBP is a paltry .320, his SLG is .430. I don’t think a .740 OPS with 400Ks to 150 BBs is Theo’s idea of the next 3Bman. Talk about a guy destined for LF.

            LeMahieu is better than Stewart. 

          • daverj

            LeMahieu is more likely to stick in the majors than Stewart, but Stewart has more upside.  I see LeMahieu’s upside as being a player similar on offense to Mark Grudzielanek and his downside being a major league utility infielder.

  • Schwimmer

    QUESTION on CESPEDES??? 

    The big question on YOENIS CESPEDES is:   “can he hit MLB pitching?”So, I have a question that, maybe one of you could answer:  When MLB teams “scout” a player like him…do they ever bring along a few MLB pitchers to “pitch” to the player they are scouting…as a way of seeing whether or not he can “really” hit the kind of pitching he will see in the MLB????I’ve got this fantasy idea that if you are going to invest $30M to $40M over 6 years on a player with no MLB experience — that you might bring a 1st rate “right-handed and left-handed” pitcher to the private workout.  And, then have those pitchers — pitch to your prospect as a way of evaluating how well he is likely to hit in the major leagues.Call me crazy…but that is what I would do to truly evaluate a player I was going to invest that much…for that long — in an MLB contract.QUESTION:  Does anyone on the this blog know whether or not this is the way a GM would make evaluate a hitting prospect?  Or, do they just have anyone throw CESPEDES batting practice and make their judgement from that?Thanks for your answer

    • daverj

      I don’t know the answer, but I’m guessing that Cespedes’ agent would not let each team bring their own pitchers to throw to him.

    • Aaron

      The pitcher CANNOT be under union control, meaning, he would not be on the 40-man roster. Teams in the past have brought former MLB pitchers in to throw against these guys, or minor league instructors.

      Another way to gauge a hitter’s bat speed is to throw him BP behind the net at about 35 feet away. 

      Cespedes’ agent would be a fool to allow this to happen, so he likely is bringing his own BP pitcher in, or facing one of his countrymen. The reason he’d be a fool to allow it, is the fact that almost everyone knows the talent in that league is about high school level from a pitcher’s standpoint, and he’d be diminishing his value if teams saw how inferior the pitching was first hand (meaning using an MLB pitcher to throw to him).

      It also works in reverse for pitching coming out of Cuba. Guys like Livan Hernandez, Orlando Hernandez, and now Aroldis Chapman all came to the United States with much hype, then failed to live up to expectations after being world beaters against Cuban hitters. Why? Because when most of the pitching is high school quality, and they come in throwing mid-to-upper 90′s, and in Chapman’s case, low 100′s, then the hitters have NO chance. But when they come to the US, and most pitchers at the big league level are throwing mid-90′s, then you’re suddenly just an average pitcher. The thing that would separate you from the pack is the ability to miss bats (something Livan couldn’t do), or locate your pitches better than the rest (something Chapman hasn’t done yet, and Orlando never did particularly well).

      • Schwimmer

        Thanks for a good explanation.  I gather you don’t think THEO brought his own USA pitchers to pitch to CESPEDES?

        So, with your comments in mind, don’t you think it is pretty risky to give a 26 yr old CUBAN player a 6 year contract for $30m to $40m…when the jury is out if he could even hit MLB pitching?

        Let’s not forget how disappointing FUKADOME was!

         

        • daverj

          Yup.  I don’t think Epstein will sign him to due the dollars it will require.

          • Schwimmer

            I hope you are right about THEO not being a “sucker” for a long term “high salary” contract for CESPEDES.

            I think the whole way these Agents have promoted this CUBAN player is a little to “BARNUM & BAILEY” for my taste.  Their PR is designed to get some “sucker” team to pay big bucks for a guy who should really be signing a Minor League contract for a $2M or $3M bonus.

            Who is CESPEDES that he should command 6 years and $30M???  I don’t get it?

            What happened to being paid big money for “MLB performance” as opposed to big money for “he MIGHT perform” once he gets to the MLB? 

            When it comes to MLB team mgt…the old adage is still true:  “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

          • Coolpdxcubsfan

            I wonder why 3 of the busiest top executives in the world would waste their time going down there to check him out then. ‘He has made his salary/tenure demands known right from the very start. I think that there is at least the possibility that he could be obtainable or they wouldn’t bother.
            I agree that it is risky, (more JHlike), and don’t misunderstand, I don’t want any more bad contracts of guys that don’t work out either,  I wonder if they have figured out a way to use him for a trade somehow. (just a thought)

          • Anthony

            scary, isn’t it?

        • gocubs

          By “disappointing,” what exactly do you mean? Fukudome lead the cubs in OBP every year he was here.  In 4 yrs with Cubs he had a total WAR of 8.6 – which is pretty good.  Fukudome was a very good player – not a superstar by any means, but a very good player.   

          • paulcatanese

            Amid many opinions to the opposite, I agree with you, and have liked Fukudome all along, and certainly more than the player from Cuba who should not even be considered but probably will by a team that dosent want anyone else to get him. Which is stupid, I have never heard of him before, compare him to LaHair who has hit Major League pitching with power, and at pretty much the same age and much, much cheaper.

          • Anthony

            spot on, that thought occurred to me also, glad you added it paul

             

          • Schwimmer

            And…he wasn’t worth $10M a year.  He was a .265 hitter.  No Home Run power.  He knew how to take pitches and “walk.”  But he was the kind of player when he was signed for 4 years for $40M that you would expect to pay $4M or $5M per year…not $40M.

            He was a mediocre offensive player no matter how you “slice and dice” it with OBP and “WAR of 8.6.”

          • Chadaudio

            I agree that Fukadome was a better player then most give him credit for… he was just overpaid for a player of his type… so everyone got frustrated with him. We will miss him more then people think.

        • J Daniel

          Agree with you but you can’t judge one player because Fuko didn’t work out.  Suzuki worked out pretty well?

      • paulcatanese

        I agree Aaron, his agent would not let any of that happen. I would wager that Cespedes is a notorious fastball hitter, but cannot touch the slider. Even that being said the fastball down there could not compare with those here in the Majors.

        Case in point, my Son pitched over in Italy in the 80′s, and was telling me that this was the case, entirely. The hitters could cream the fastball but could not touch the slider or curve, I would believe even mediocre minor league pitching would be too much for him.

        If they persue this guy, its two steps backward, especially for the money he wants.

        By the way, Happy Holidays, didnt see you on Thanksgiving.

  • cubs1967

    i love ‘go cubs go”………no reason to stop singing it………..perhaps if the bastards in charge had put winning teams together since pk ricketts took over…….

    it’s why cubs fans are best!

    (plus i didn’t see theo make the bosox stop singing sweet caroline!)

  • Spoda17

    Hello all, and happy post Thanksgiving!

    I really see no need to sign, or trade for, a third baseman.  Or really any other position player unless we are going to get Fielder for 5-8 years.

    Our biggest need is pitching.  I know I have been harping on this for a few weeks now, but I just see no need to get any position players unless they are a big impact signing.  No journeymen needed, we have enough B to C players in our current system to keep the position warm and be average enough to be competitive.

    I do have a feeling we might make a huge signing or two at the winter meetings.  I think the egos of our new management team (and I think it’s a good thing to have an ego every now and then), will make them make some sort of splash.  I don’t see them doing all this work, and reshuffling, and bring in no one.

    And sorry Cubs1967… ‘Go, Cubs, Go’ … has to go..  to damn corny… most games aren’t even on WGN anymore anyway… just my two cents.

    • daverj

      I’m of the opposing view.  I’d be pretty surprised if the Cubs made any big impact signings this offseason.  I think we’ll be picking over the leftovers after the big signings take place … signing a few veterans to 1 year deals and then filling our other roster openings with our youngsters.  The last few seasons, there seem to some decent players left looking for teams toward the end of free agency.

      Signing big free agents when the team isn’t ready to compete just seems very Jim Hendry-ish …

      • Spoda17

        Yeah Dave, I’m not saying I think we should sign someone, I’m just saying I feel they may to prove they are making some moves.  Also, just because you sign a big-time free agent, doesn’t mean you are Jim H.

        I think if we sign a high impact player and a pitcher or two, we will be competitive.  If you sign Fielder and CJ Wilson to 5-8 years, you still have 5-8 years, don’t have to win the WS the first year after you sign someone.

        Again, I’m not saying we should, and I feel we should not sign anyone unless they are a pitcher.  But also, if we sign no one, or trade for something, we still will be in the exact same place next year we are now.  It will take years for the farm system to produce anything, so we will have to make some external moves at some point.

        • daverj

          I agree that signing  big free agents is not necessarily a Hendry move … but signing Fielder for 8 years at $160+ million and Wilson for 5 years at $75+ million when the team won’t have enough other pieces to win a World Series in the next few years would very much be a Hendry move.  It would put butts in the seats and might keep the Cubs competitive for a division title the next couple years, but wouldn’t be enough and then a few years from now we’d be saddled with more bad contracts.  Fielder could fall apart like Mo Vaughn.  Wilson could be Lackey.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree, but the Cubs will make some kind of move, they have to put people in the stands. Hope you are correct with the idea of leftovers to one year deals.

        I have been forever about bringing the youngsters up and working thru it, but then would the fans stand for it? Should have been done last year and the Cubs would have a much better idea in the direction they need to persue.

        I think about that and wonder what Theo could have completed if it had been done. Might have been easily a playoff team this year.

        • diehardcubfan

          If the Cubs WIN!! the fans will come.

          • paulcatanese

            Correcto ! Cant argue with that.

  • Anthony

    Neil, can you get some info on Ben Klafczynski for me? I did the GOOGLE thing, but remain intrigued based on the following search stuff.

    Was arguably the top positional prospect in Ohio high school baseball, played in the 2006 USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, named 2007 ABCA/NHSBCA top 3 outfielders in the USA along with Jason Heyward, Ben Revere, BA Top 100 back then, went undrafted in 2007?

    Chose Kent State. Ended up as a Freshman All American by everyone in 2008. Had a decent sophomore season, heard he was playing through injuries from a good source, and was a big part of the Bourne 2009 Cape League Title, had a great 2010 Junior season, went undrafted, played in the NECBL, an all star and won the Home Run Derby.

    Had a great Senior season, and we get him in round 20, started slow, and hit .321 in August for Peoria.

    I suppose the reason I am asking is because what was accomplished doesn’t equate to the current status. Seems a tad wierd. The kid also is the current MAC career leader in total bases and ranked high in many of the other statistical categories, and ended his college career on the Austin regional all-tournament team as captain of the Golden Flashes.

    Some of the search also mentioned some plus athleticism that is off the charts, so any additional info would be nice.

    I saw him play in Atlanta, Carolina, and in Peoria, and saw a player better than the 20th round.

    Thanks 

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Anthony, the only thing I can add to all of the research you did is from what I remember no one knew how to project what Klafczynski could do in pro ball. As you pointed out he had an excellent college career and is athletic. The only negative I remember is he can be extremely pull-happy … but that is it. He could end up being the steal of the draft for the Cubs.

      I’m sorry I do not have more.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Chase Headley??

    Why do we want Marlon Byrd, Jr., playing 3B for us? 

    44 RBIs out of your 3B? It would be okay for a SS, but 3B?????

  • Ripsnorter1

    Ian Stewart: he and Tyler Colvin should be best friends. Neither of them can hit .160. Stewart had a robust .156 BA with 0 HR and 6 RBI in 136 PA. 

    Colvin: .150 6 HR and 20 RBI in 222 PA.