Weekend Update … Back to Work for the Chicago Cubs

The Cubs’ front office return to work following a trip to the Dominican Republic and the long holiday weekend on Monday … and Team Epstein is looking at a very hectic end to the calendar year.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are expected to be very busy over the coming weeks. The Cubs are one of the teams that most feel will the most active leading up to and through the Winter Meetings (December 5 – December 8).

On the free agent front, the Cubs are rumored to be interested in Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. As for the trade market, Hoyer and Epstein are reportedly listening to offers on many of the players on the 40-man roster … some of the names that have been thrown out include Marlon Byrd, Matt Garza and Sean Marshall.

The deadline to tender player’s contracts with three-six years of service time is December 12. The Cubs have seven players with three-six years of service time arbitration eligible … Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Koyie Hill, Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells. Will the Cubs’ new regime tender contracts to Hill and DeWitt?

Plus, toward the end of the Winter Meetings (December 7), the Cubs will find out if Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena have accepted or declines salary arbitration.

As for Dale Sveum’s coaching staff, Sveum has been working on assembling his staff and according to Bruce Levine, those announcements could be made as early as Monday or Tuesday.

On the last Sunday in November, here’s the update …

Free Agents
Bruce Levine and Jim Bowden are hearing a lot of rumblings about the Cubs being players in the free agent market this off-season. Bowden said Friday that he would not be surprised if the Cubs made a big splash or two.

During Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) on Saturday morning, Levine said he is hearing the Cubs will be more active in signing free agents than in the trade market. Levine has heard the Cubs are looking at Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. Levine shares the same view as many that Mark Buehrle would not sign with the Cubs … despite the Cubs need for pitching and the fact signing with the Cubs would allow Buehrle to stay in Chicago.

Sveum’s Coaching Staff
Dale Sveum has decisions to make. Right now he has only one coach on his staff, Rudy Jaramillo, but he is expected to retain both Pat Listach and Lester Strode. Listach could serve as either his bench coach or a base coach.

Chris Bosio appears to be the favorite to land the pitching coach job. Bosio is well respected according to Bruce Levine and like Sveum, is a no excuse, instructor-type coach.

Levine has heard that Ed Sedar could be on Sveum’s list and Craig Counsell’s name was thrown out by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel early last week. Levine said Saturday that he had heard Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich were discussed at some point but are no longer in the mix.

Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano was expected to start Saturday for his team in Venezuela but missed the start and has been pushed to December 6. Zambrano reportedly is doing okay after being hit by a line drive in the face eight days ago. Doctors have instructed Zambrano to rest and he is officially listed as day-to-day.

News, Notes and Rumors
Bruce Levine thinks the Cubs’ big league payroll for 2012 will be around $130 million.

From Jim Bowden: The Cubs have been fascinating to watch this off-season. They have been very aggressive with a wide range of free agents and have been in on trade talks with at least a dozen clubs. What’s been interesting is for a club that struggled so much in 2011, their conversations have not been limited to long-term solutions, but rather, they’ve included everyone from prospects to one-year stop-gap players.

Marwin Gonzalez’s winter appears to be over. Marwin Gonzalez will spend the rest of the winter working out at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa … but not due to injury. According to a report from Cubs.com, the Venezuela Winter League is upset about Gonzalez’s decision but he cannot continue to go back and forth from Venezuela to Mesa.

Off-Season Calendar
Will update the calendar throughout the off-season

December

  • 1 – Last day to request outright waivers to assign player prior to Rule 5 Draft
  • 5 – Last time to outright a player prior to the Rule 5 Draft (5:00pm ET)
  • 5 – Balloting results announced for Hall of Fame Golden Era Committee
  • 5 – 8 Baseball’s Winter Meetings – Dallas, TX
  • 6 – Balloting results announced for Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award
  • 7 – Last date for player who declared free agency to accept an arbitration offer from former club. Deadline is midnight ET.
  • 8 – Rule 5 Draft – Dallas, TX
  • 11 – Current collective bargaining agreement expires
  • 12 – Last date for Major League clubs to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players (3-6 men)
  • 31 – Deadline for BBWAA ballots

2012

January

  • 5 – Individual game tickets for 2012 Cubs Spring Training home games go on sale
  • 5 – 15 – Salary arbitration filing period
  • 9 – Hall of Fame Class of 2012 announced
  • 13 – 15 – 27th 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

March

  • 2 – Mandatory reporting date to Spring Training for all players
  • 2 – 11 – Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players
  • 4 – Cubs Spring Training Opening Day – Cubs versus A’s at HoHoKam Park
  • 19 – Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days
  • 28-29 – Japan Opening Series – Seattle vs. Oakland, Tokyo

April

  • 2 – Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2011 salary (Only 45 days termination pay is due)
  • 4 – All Clubs must reduce active roster to 25 players
  • 4 – Opening Day for MLB
  • 5 – Opening Day for Chicago Cubs – Cubs vs. Nationals at Wrigley Field

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

"Change is inevitable, but personal growth is a choice." - Bob Proctor
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  • Joey U

    Don’t be surprised if Coco Crisp and Wilson Betemit  are signed by the Cubs.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Wilson Betemit  is a sub.

      Hits for a decent average with some power, but fans like Brett Jackson: 1 for every 3 AB. And his defensive is–can you believe this?–worse than Jeff Baker’s. I’ll give you the link so you’ll know I’m not lying. Here it is:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/betemwi01.shtml

      These stats are for 2011/comapred to average ML player….
      3B–allows an extra 22 runs if he were to play 135 games
      2B–allows an extra 240 runs if he were to play 135 games
      1B–allows an extra 65 runs if he were to play 135 games there.

      In 2010 he played some LF and was worth an extra 27 runs allowed….

      HE’S HORRIBLE! HE’S A DH. 

      If Theo signs this guy, he’s a liar.

      • cubtex

        Not a fan of Betamit at all either. He performed terribly in big market cities. Look what he did for NY and Chicago(Sox) I agree Rip. I don’t want any part of Betamit.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Coco Crisp
      I hope not. Unless he is simply a reserve OF.

      I want some power. This guy has only speed..264 BA….8 HR…54 RBI….in 583 PA….just 41 BB, 65 K…49 SB to lead the league…9 CS…..379 slugging…..314 OBP

      When he’s a starter, there is not enough on base, not enough slugging.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Starlin Castro:Was worth an extra 13 runs per year for the opposition in 2011. Hey, not bad, considering he played some games with his back to the infield. 

    Betancourt is a FA. He was worth an extra 6 runs for the opposition in 2011.
    He has a little power: 13 taters in 2011, 16 in 2010, but never walks: 16 BB in 584 PA in 2011. He could play some SS for us and move Castro to 2B.

    • cubtex

      Cmom Rip! Castro is the best young player the Cubs have had in a long long time. Have some patience! You would really want to move Castro to 2nd base for Betancourt???? Cmon Rip! At least bring up a good shortstop if you are going to move your best player to another position.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Cubtex, 

        Castro is our best OFFENSIVE player, but he is not our best DEFENSIVE player. 

        Almost everyone says Castro needs to move to the right or to the left. Me, I want him at 2B, and find a real basher to play 3B, and a decent glove/bat combo at SS. Barney can sub if you want.

        • cubtex

          He has the tools to play shortstop. He does not need to move yet. Maybe in his later years but not now…… and especially not for Betancourt.

        • John_CC

          Almost everyone who? I haven’t heard anyone say that, not that some people haven’t, but almost everyone?

        • Dorasaga

          Patience is a virtue.

    • Chadaudio

      Yeah… no Betamit, Ian Stewart, or coco crisp… they’re all a waist of time. Im fine moving Castro if we get a crazy good defensive short stop. I’m so sick of bad defense.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Wanted you to have a good day, so I’ll post this:

    Dusty Baker’s best friend–he played him incessantly when he managed the Cubs–was Neifi Perez. Good old Neifi posted the worst season in MLB history since 1950 in 2002 when he–inexplicably–was a fulltime SS of the KC Royals. [Note: after this horrible season, he came to the Cubs and was our problem from 2004-2006]. 
    ANYWAY, in 2002 Neifi posted the worst win probability added for any player in MLB history since 1950 with a -6.819. The next worst guy is -5.181 (Sam Dente, 1950). INCREDIBLY, KC again had a horrible SS in 2011 Al Escobar who posted the 4th worst since 1950 at -4.810. And Escobar is the flunky that KC received for Betancourt!

  • Anthony

    Excluding a handful of ML pitchers who have the stuff that make them dominant and more successful than the rest………..

    93 mph is 93 mph at the ML level and A ball level, and the same for offspeed and movement, thus……………..

    Kindly play some kids and see what they can bring versus signing journeyman retreads at stupid dollar amounts…………….

    But that rarely happens, and won’t happen regularly until compensation becomes “earned”, not paid in advance, which will probably never happen.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Jim Qlueless tried that in 2010. Remember? In case you forgot, here’s what happened:

      Jim Qlueless refused to spend any dough on middle relief. Bad decision from a man just full of bad decisions. He used his AAA roster to fill out the bullpen after dumping Kevin Gregg (4.72 in 2009) and Aaron “Homerun” Heilman (4.11 ERA in 2009).

      Here’s how the kids fared:

      Schlitter…12.38 ERA
      Caridad….11.25
      Samardzija…8.38
      Diamond…6.83
      Gray…6.75
      Atkins..6.30
      Stevens…6.11
      Mateo…5.82
      Berg…5.18
      Russell…4.96
      Cashner…4.80

      NOT ONE OF THEM SUCCEEDED. THEY ALL GOT RACKED.

      • Anthony

        You made my point, AAA players are closer to MLB age and years of pro ball versus A ball kids, so they got a chance. But the post referred to hitters.

  • Anthony

    My comments below actually start in the minors, for example, a tale of 2 prospects:

    Both in the same organization, both 3 seasons into pro baseball.

    #1 has a book of .290/.347/.421, a K/AB of .173 and a KBB of 9:4
    #2 has a book of .292/.393/.491, a K/AB of .282 and a KBB of 16:9

    Player 2 has a bit more pop, and speed but has a poor contact rate in trade for a bit more power. Player 1 has better contact, walks a tad less, but has about 150 less plate appearances/opps than Player 2. Both players have identical RBI counts, Player 1 delivers better with RISP.

    One of these players has moved quickly through the system while the other is stuck in the abyss. One of these players is a highly invested player and the other, little to no investment. One of these Players is an organization top prospect and the other never mentioned. From a hitting standpoint only, is the hitting disparity that significant in relation to status?

    So an organization may be weighing whether to give the top prospect an opportunity versus shopping a FA with ML “experience”, even if that experience is dated due to age/eroding skills.

    Why would the prospect in the abyss who has produced continue to grind when everyone is not bothering to watch?

    • Tony_Hall

      Stats don’t always tell the whole story.  Not saying that players don’t get overlooked, it does happen, but there’s more to evaluating a player, then just comparing their stats to another player, that is moving up.  

      I do agree they need to give our own system players a chance, versus just looking at FA to fill the roster.   

      And why would players in this “abyss” you talk about continue to grind…self respect, would be one reason.  Why would anyone stop playing “their game” just because they aren’t be noticed as much.  It seems to me that would be the extra incentive to work harder.

      • paulcatanese

        Tony, see my reply to Anthony above, corny but its what I think.

    • paulcatanese

      It’s pretty easy to become bitter if one is the player that is being overlooked, and a high prospect is passing him by. However a player who is in that position has one thing going for him, he realizes that its just the way it is but his love for the game itself is  predominant over being passed over.
      Those that sign for little or next to nothing do so with the simple intent to do one thing, play the game for as long as they can. What’s the alternative? Go home and stock shelves?
      They have to be pretty naive to think that they would pass someone that was a high draft pick or a large bonus to sign, unless they prove out to be two three times the player, and even then until all alternatives for the high pick big dollar player would have to be exausted before a chance would come.
      The career minor league player is there because he choses to be, because he wants to play and its the only game in town.
      This is really nothing new, the process has been around for years, and have seen it first hand and I can’t really fault the parent club to a degree, as they have an investment and want to get as much of it back as they can.

    • gocubs

      Anthony, I think you may be a bit confused.  Sorry.  Player #2 in your scenario is clearly the superior player by FAR…its actually really not even close.  RBIs and “delivers with RISP” are not any kind of indicators of baseball ability.  With an elite OBP of .393 (.46 points higher than #1) and a total OPS of .884 compared to #1s mediocre .768 OPS, these two players are not really in the same class.  

      RBIs are a product, more that anything of where you hit in the batting order.  “Delivering with RISP” is nothing more than a combination of where you hit in the order( and if guys are on base in front of you) and small sample size.  What you are considering “production” is not something any real evaluators of talent look at.  Its not a true indication of your ability as a hitter.  

      Next time you get a chance read fangraphs or baseball prospectus and not Joe Morgan or ESPN.              

      • paulcatanese

        I dont know what you mean, after I read it, I read it as player number one was the one that was moving thru the system because of his draft status or dollar amount and player number two was being passed over becuase of that same reason even though he may be the better player.
        What makes it clever is that no hint was given as to who was who in the sense of draft or compensation. I dont know, maybe I am confused also but thats how I interpeted it. And the point being where the dollar amount and the drafting was done,determines who moves quicker and not the individual achievement.
        And rather than bring the better player up, go for a free agent instead of admitting defeat with the choice they made originally.

        • John_CC

          You’re not the only one confused, Paul.  Anthony was trying to make a point, but by being “clever” and/or forgetting to mention which player was moving through and who was stuck in the abyss, ect. he never made a point. Because as Gocubs pointed out, the two players are not equal.  So if indeed it is player #1 that is moving through the system faster, then maybe there was a point. But I’m still not sure.

          • paulcatanese

            John, I am convinced its number one moving thru and that was his point.
            Now he’s going to leave us hanging and not post who he meant, ah sweet mystery, reminds me of Rip from last year with the riddle no one could figure out.

  • EqDoc

    On a side note, Illinois fired Zook today, maybe they will follow the Cubs model and clean house and start from the ground up.  Hopefully like the Ricketts, the University of Illinois is fed up  with mediocrity…

    • Ripsnorter1

      I heard that they are searching the prisons right now for his replacement.

      • Jay from sandwich

        And you call our shelf a Chicago sports fan?

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jon Heyman:

    Carlos Pena unlikely to accept arbitration offer. Has a multi-year market after
    nice season on north side

    Tigers have inquired on Aramis Ramirez. Good fit. Would be major offensive
    upgrade.

    • cubtex

      good!

    • Coolpdxcubsfan

      Oh please dear God, let Pena move on after such a Great season.

    • J Daniel

      THANK GOODNESS!!!!!

    • John_CC

      Was Hendry hired for a new GM position already that I haven’t heard about?

      • Joey U

        I don’t think so….Boston has the only GM opening and Houston is rumored  to be firing Ed Wade tomorrow.

        • John_CC

          Joke, I was being sarcastic. A mulit-year deal for a “nice” season sounds like what we used to have…

  • paulcatanese

    After that great comment by Heyman on Pena unlikely to accept arbritration after putting together a “nice: season and would qualify for a multiple season contract, that amazes me. What would the qualification be for a bad season?

    • J Daniel

      No kidding, Paul!  Good luck to Pena.  Good guy, great in the clubhouse, mediocre on the field at best

    • cubtex

      I know you are not a fan Paul…..but some teams would love to have this production from 1st base.

      .357 OBP  101BB  28HR and 80 RBI

      Adam Dunn would have loved to have those numbers.

      • paulcatanese

        I wouldnt say I wasnt a fan per say, just cannot stand to watch him at the plate. I really dont think I could pitch to him, then again I guess thats the point he makes,aggravate the pitcher into a mistake. Anyway if he leaves that does leave room for LaHair,maybe.

        • cubtex

          I don’t want the Cubs to bring Pena back..but he did have a decent year. He is also very good defensively. I don’t know if Theo will give LaHair the job. I have a feeling that we will be seeing Prince at 1st for the next several years.

          • John_CC

            That is a fun game.

            Solid bullpen. That lineup might produce as well as last year.

            And that rotation might be better! 

          • paulcatanese

            I know, I know, but with Aram gone and Castro’s improvement, no one would notice Pena over at first. He could stay here as long as I dont have to watch him hit.
            You may be right about Fielder as I feel a substancial move wll be made, whether ists Fielder or another, it will be big, I agree there.

  • Tony_Hall

    This is a fun series, that looks at teams “homegrown players”.  It examines each team, as if their was no player movement, what would each team look like, with just what started in their system.

    It’s ugly for the Cubs, as when the final rankings are done, the Cubs will be near the bottom of this scenario.

    http://eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22297882/33523532

    Here’s the lineup and rotation.

    Lineup
    1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
    2. Darwin Barney, 2B
    3. Starlin Castro, SS
    4. Tyler Colvin, LF
    5. Casey McGehee, 3B
    6. Eric Hinske, 1B
    7. Geovany Soto, C
    8. Sam Fuld, CF

    Starting Rotation
    1. Ricky Nolasco
    2. Kyle Lohse
    3. Andrew Cashner*
    4. Carlos Zambrano
    5. Randy Wells

    • cubtex

      How is Fukodome considered Homegrown?

      • Tony_Hall

        Read the article.  They based it on the 1st major league team, that a player was a part of, in MLB.