Rumors, News and More Rumors … A Busy Week Ahead for the Cubs

If Tuesday was any indication, the next nine days should be anything but boring for the Chicago Cubs … and Jed Hoyer even indicated as much.

From Albert Pujols to Prince Fielder to Alfonso Soriano to Tom Ricketts, news and rumors came from all directions.

Jed Hoyer spent time on MLB Network Radio (XM Radio) on Tuesday. Hoyer predicted a lot of action during the Winter Meetings and said the Cubs needs this off-season are left-handed hitters, improving the team’s defense and depth in the starting rotation. Hoyer stressed the need for left-handed hitting and stated that is a big priority for them to add this winter. Hoyer said the Cubs have had a ton of conversations with teams and with agents about their clients. Hoyer is looking forward to the Winter Meetings … and what could be a busy week.

Tom Ricketts indicated he is working on a contract extension for Crane Kenney and confirmed that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have the authority to eat big money contracts (Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano) if they feel it will help the team.

According to Ken Rosenthal, teams are kicking the tires on Alfonso Soriano. How much of the $54 million owed to Soriano for the next three seasons would the Cubs have to eat to trade Soriano?

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs will name Chris Bosio pitching coach as well as the rest of Dale Sveum’s staff this week. Here’s the update, including more info from Jed Hoyer’s interview on XM Radio …

Jed Hoyer on MLB Radio Network (XM Radio)
The Cubs’ general manager joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Radio Network/XM Radio) on Tuesday afternoon. Jed Hoyer did not discuss any of the team’s off-season plans and said the Cubs’ front office prefers to keep everything close to the vest … but he ended up saying more than maybe he intended to.

The interview began with Hoyer explaining that he and the new front office is getting settled in but it has been very hectic over the last several weeks. It takes a lot of time to evaluate the players and can be overwhelming at time. Hoyer added once they get through Spring Training they will have a better idea of all of the players in the organization … right now they are relying on reports from those that are leftover from the previous administration.

Here are the highlights …

  • On being back with a big-market team … Hoyer said being with the Cubs is a lot different than running the Padres in terms of payroll. Hoyer mentioned he learned a lot in San Diego on how to be creative with payroll and he wants to take the same creativity and use in a big market situation.
  • On Greg Maddux leaving the Cubs’ front office … Maddux talked to Cubs about working with his brother. Maddux indicated to the Cubs working with his brother was very important to him. Hoyer said it was hard to argue with that. The Cubs said they would not stand in Greg’s way. Hoyer added that Maddux is obviously a brilliant baseball man and they hope to work with him some day.
  • On Carlos Pena and offering him salary arbitration … When looking at Pena, the Cubs feel there is no question that he will have a big market this winter. Hoyer pointed out if you take a look at the first base market, Pena really stands out as a run producer. Hoyer thinks he is likely to receive a multi-year deal and do very well in the market. That is what drove the Cubs’ decision to offer him salary arbitration. Hoyer added that people that were around the Cubs last year spoke highly of him but the decision to offer him arbitration was based on him receiving a multi-year deal on the open market.
  • On Carlos Zambrano … When Zambrano flew in to Chicago to meet with Theo Epstein, Hoyer was moving so Zambrano met with Epstein and Randy Bush. Zambrano wanted to start the process of getting to know the new people. Zambrano expressed a lot of regret about what happened last year. According to Hoyer, the challenge with Zambrano is the problems have repeated themselves, this is not a one-time incident. So the Cubs cannot act like it is the first time and must acknowledge it is a pattern. Hoyer thinks Zambrano can come back but he has a process that he has to go through, including apologize to his teammates. Most of the process they are going to keep private. It is going to be a long process but they have begun taking the steps.

Sveum’s Staff
The Cubs are still expected to announce Dale Sveum’s coaching staff this week. Rudy Jaramillo will return for the final season of his three-year contract and Chris Bosio is still the favorite to landing the pitching coach job.

Dale Sveum hired Jamie Quirk to be his bench coach. While the Cubs did not make the announcement official, Quirk let the news slip.

Pat Listach and Lester Strode are under contract for next season and both are expected to return. Listach was Mike Quade’s bench coach but was third base coach for the Nationals’ before returning to the Cubs’ organization. Listach could end up as a base coach on Sveum’s staff.

There has also been talk that Craig Counsell could join Sveum’s staff if he decides not to play any longer.

Tom Ricketts on All Things Cubs
David Kaplan talked to Tom Ricketts about a variety of topics. The interview will air in a couple of weeks on Comcast SportsNet. Click here to read Kaplan’s complete report. Here are the highlights …

  • Tom Ricketts continues to support Crane Kenney, the Cubs President of Business Operations, and is working on a contract extension for him. Ricketts would like to keep Kenney in the organization for a long time.
  • Ricketts expects the Cubs to be vastly improved next season.
  • The Cubs are not talking about rebuilding. Ricketts said they are coming to win every year but admitted they will not look at 2012 at the expense of the Cubs long term future.
  • Ricketts confirmed that Theo Epstein is in charge of baseball operations and if he (and Jed Hoyer) decide the best thing for the Cubs is to eat what is left of big money contracts (Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano), they have the authority from ownership to do so.
  • Ricketts thinks they gave Jim Hendry a fair shot but when things started to spiral out of control last season, Ricketts met with Hendry and the two decided to part ways.
  • With Theo Epstein on board, Ricketts’ next big project is the renovation of Wrigley Field.
  • Ricketts is confident that his new baseball operations team will maximize the value of the Cubs draft picks and spend the available dollars wisely.
  • Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a plan for the Cubs and the fan base can be confident about the Cubs’ future.

News, Notes and Rumors

Quote of the day from Tom Ricketts on whether the Cubs can win in 2012: “Of course we can win in 2012. Like I said (at the end of the season) in San Diego, you get 25 guys playing hard, working together and staying healthy, and baseball tells you anything can happen. We’ll see how the offseason goes, but I imagine we’re going to be right in it next year.”

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!

For the latest rumors and news on the Chicago Cubs … Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @The CCO

Quote of the Day

"Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back." - Diana Frances
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  • brent carmona

    I’ve only been a visitor to this site for about over a year now, and I have to tip my cap to everybody at the cco. Last offseason was not as hectic as this one, but last year there was still something posted everyday (pretty close to everyday) and that’s what got me coming back. Outstanding job keeping up with a crazy offseason, yall are on point with everything, that goes for tom and Brian. And I like reading all the comments, props to you guys too, pretty glad cco has been troll free and we keep it all civil here.

    • Tom U

      Thank you Brent

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you

    • texcubnut

      Well said Brent. Those are my feelings also. Just a great, great site, simple as that. It’s the one place that keeps me going throughout the winter

    • Ndbrian

      Thank you, Brent.

  • Tony_Hall

    Just think, half way through last season, we were still wondering, how much longer would Jim Hendry still be making the decisions.  

    Now, we have a real baseball operations department, a new manager and mostly new coaching staff coming.  

    We have a team that is being rebuilt at the major league level, to try and be competitive, in the short term.  

    We have a farm system with lots of future major leaguers, just not at the superstar level, that they are going to try and get to keep sending players every year to make the big league club better, and maybe find ways to use the depth to get some future super stars.

    If the activity level yesterday, is any indication of what’s coming the next few weeks, Neil, I sure hope you are rested up from that long vacation you got at the end of the season…

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is more information about the new CBA.  Some interesting new details.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/2011/11/more-draft-details-from-the-cba/

    Some of the notes:

    The most significant new detail: If a team fails to sign a player in the first 10 rounds, its draft cap is reduced by the assigned value of his pick. It can’t reallocate that value to sign other players. However, it can reallocate the difference between a player’s bonus and the value of his choice.

    MLB has eliminated its draft-support program, which served as a clearinghouse for offers and was used to strong-arm teams into not disclosing over-slot deals until shortly before the deadline. This means clubs actually can announce signings as they happen rather than pretend that they haven’t occurred.

    The draft caps for all 30 teams for the first 10 rounds will total approximately $185 million in 2012, varying depending on the number of supplemental picks created by free-agent compensation and failure to sign 2011 draftees from the first three rounds. The competitive-balance lottery selections don’t come into play until 2013.

  • Anthony

    Jackson, Flaherty, Spencer, Colvin, LaHair

    “said the Cubs needs this off-season are left-handed hitters,”

    oooooops

  • Anthony

    Hoyer stressed the need for left-handed hitting and stated that is a big priority for them to add this winter.

    see below post

    OK, so that statement by Hoyer is either a decoy, or is he saying the LHH prospects in the organization are not good enough, not yet ready, or not in their plans, etc.

    Are they concerned a Jackson 30% K rate turns to 40% at the MLB level?

    LaHair has nothing more to prove in AAA

    Colvin?

    Flaherty?

    • cubtex

      Milton Bradley is available :)

      • paulcatanese

        Thats right and he is a lefty. By the way did Maddux have to turn in his playbook before departing to the Rangers? The Cubs will have to go to all new signs, cloth bunt ,skin steal,:) somthing a little more elaborite than just shouting the signs.:)

  • Griffnbell

    A possible outfield of Dejesus, Jackson, and not Soriano sounds very athletic. I hope to see our defense vastly improve which should make our pitching look better. That’s why I’d be fine with Pena coming back for a year JUST for the defense. Also, I’m all for trading Garza, Marmol, Soto, and Marshall as long as we squeeze every last drop out of the teams trading for them. I’m all in with Theo and the boys, I trust them as long as Castro stays put, all others can had for the right price. Thanks for all of the updates, been following for close to three years now and check it daily.

  • cubtex

    Are they really going to sign David DeJesus to play alongside Brett Jackson? If they get rid of Soriano….can anyone imagine an outfield of DeJesus Byrd and Jackson. That quite possibly might be the worst outfield in baseball for next year. DeJesus doesn’t have enough pop to be a corner and either does Byrd. I am all for giving Brett Jackson centerfield for next year but let’s not look to fill the corners with a bunch of fluff!

    • Brp921

      Why would the Cubs go for DeJesus? He is another Marlon Byrd, no power, a 31 year old .280 lifetime hitter coming off a .240 year who can’t steal bases. So he can play defense. We have young guys in the system who can play defense. DeJesus is not going to turn this team around. Unless we can find a game changer for the outfield let’s look to our young guys in the system and see what they can do.

      • cubtex

        Exactly….But…..He takes walks so he “fits” team Theo’s criteria. Can you imagine the different reactions we would be getting if it was Jim Hendry throwing names around like DeJesus and Ian Stewart? I guarantee you that some on here would have different reactions.

  • cubtex

    With the names being thrown around this winter let’s take a look at what opening day lineup might look at and you tell me if this team will be competitive.

    1B- Prince Fielder
    2B- Darwin Barney/DJ LeMahieu
    SS-Starlin Castro
    3B- Chase Headley/Ian Stewart
    LF-Marlon Byrd
    CF- David DeJesus
    RF-Brett Jackson
    C- Wellington Castillo

    Again…no team speed with the exception of Brett Jackson and Castro. Of course this might not be the team so before everyone jumps off their rocker…these are the names that we have been hearing so far.

    • cubtex

      DeJesus played mostly RF for Oakland last year so probably flip him and Jackson. All those outfielders are interchangeable. Not a lot of pop or stolen base threats except for Jackson.

    • cc002600

      I would put LaHair in LF, and Byrd in RF, BJax in CF..,….not crazy about DeJesus.  Especially when you have Szcuzr coming in 2013, most likely, and Byrd will be gone.

      3B is going to be the black hole once again that it was between Santo & ARAM.  Ugh.  There are no good solutions out there.

    • paulcatanese

      On the bright side, If Campana sticks with the Cubs, he will surely get in 162 games as a late inning pinch runner, look for him to steal 70-75 bases.:):):). That lineup is a plus for him.

  • Aaron

    I feel like I should do a recap of everything that has been out in the media so we all have an idea of where the Cubs might be going this offseason:

    -Ricketts states Epstein has complete autonomy to make baseball decisions, including eating high$$ contracts and signing high $$ free agents if he wants.
    **Translation: Soriano, Byrd, and Zambrano are on the trade/release block. Additionally, in order to not look cheap, he’s trying to save face in the high $$ FA derby…although…

    -If one reads between the lines on the new CBA with comments all 3 of the power players made (ie.-Ricketts, Epstein and Hoyer) there might be a change in philosophy about the immediate direction. Earlier this offseason all 3 of them stated they didn’t see them making a play on high $$ FA.
    **Translation: in light of new spending limits which will severely impair their chances of rebuilding for the long haul relatively quickly via draft and int’l FA, I suspect they will now be major players during this FA period.

    -The Cubs are suddenly in the mix for Pujols and Fielder. Is it a farce as some suggest to drive up their prices?
    **Translation: think about this logically. The Cubs have NO long-term MLB-ready solutions at 1B. Vogelbach is an unknown along with Gretzky, Shoulders, Hoilman, etc and at best, they’re all maybe 3 years away….at BEST. So they might be gearing for huge annual paydays for both sluggers in lieu of long-term deals. For instance, they might offer Pujols $30 million per yr for 5 yrs and $25 million per yr for 5 yrs for Fielder giving the team and player what they want (Pujols to have the highest annual deal in MLB history) and Fielder to have the flexibility to potentially earn another $100 million payday at 32 yrs old, which Boras will likely push for as he earns another huge commission payout. The Cubs brass probably realizes this too and will push for it.
    ***….further translation: recent speculation of them dealing Zambrano, Garza, Wells, Soto, Soriano, Byrd and Marmol is further proof they are gearing for serious bids as they’d need to free up the budget for salaries.

    -Hoyer says they need LH hitting, defense, and starting pitching…
    **Translation: dealing Zambrano, Wells, and especially Garza makes no sense unless they get young, cost-controlled pitching on return…meaning if the Yankees offer both Banuelos and Balances among others or the Rangers offer both Perez and Harrison among others….it’s highly likely they’d pull the trigger. As for LH hitting, it seems likely they’ll target Kubel, Damon, Fielder to (as mentioned), Kotchman (if they miss on Fielder or Pujols), DeJesus, Mclouth, Buck, Nix, and Crisp. As for FA starters…it’s highly likely they are targeting Oswalt, Buehrle, Jackson, Capuano, Wilson and even guys like Harangue and Garland coming off injury.

    • Schwimmer

      Neil:  Great translations!

      Question for you (and, my fellow CUB fans):

      Do you think the CUBS will have an actual interview with PUJOLS and make him “an offer he can refuse?”  (e.g. $30m per year….on a 5 or 6 year contract)???   Are they for real….or, they just trying to jerk around with St. Louis?

      Before you answer consider this:

      1.  The CARDINALS aren’t fools.  They already have $200m on the table.  While they don’t want to lose him — they are not going to jack up their offer by $30m or $40m just because other teams “look” like they’ll pay Albert more.   And, they do have a pretty fabulous 1st Baseman in Lance Berkman.

      2.  Is PUJOLS the kind of guy that THEO could meet with and say:  “Hey…Albert you’ve got no challenges left in ST. LOUIS.   Come over here and join the excitement of bringing a world series to Chicago!  We want you to be a CUB!”

      Could that actually work with him, especially if he can get $30m per year?

      Love to know your thoughts and insights.

      I’d love to see PULJOIS

  • Coolpdxcubsfan

    I know I will get blasted for saying this, but I am really against going for Prince Fielder.
    He is WAYYYYYYY over priced, especially for us. He is at best average at defense and we need a really good defensive first baseman with all of the rookies we have coming up. He is a selfish player and is cancer in the dugout and clubhouse when things don’t go his way. He is a big fat tub of goo (thanks Letterman) that I believe will have trouble staying healthy after the big contract gets done. And if all this isn’t enough, I just flat am against long contracts that inhibit the team ability to grow in later years. Too risky.
    I would much rather see one of our rooks get a shot at first and see how he does.
    Yes I know that we need to replace the inconsistent power of Aram and Pena
    How about spending part of the Fielder money on a couple of power hitting lefty  outfielders and maybe a pitcher or two.
    Okay, blast away.

  • Anthony

    Even though Theo “inherited” the 2004 Roster, he was with the Org before that, and analyzing the Red Sox opening day rosters since, the only true constant was his DH. That said, here are the profiles of his outfield since 2005.
     
    In LF, he had an awful defensive player who happened to rake the baseball, even if that player was also trying to join the Playtex Club taking female hormones. Replaced by a huge FA signing of Crawford. Wouldn’t surprise me then that he bides time with the current Cubs LF.
     
    In CF, after Damon split, he plugged a hole with Crisp before Ellsbury was called up to CF. His current profile is more a tweener corner/CF bat, so his offense is a bonus as a CF. So it appears Theo likes a classic CF who hits OK with a standard speed profile. Jackson only fits part of that MOLD, but then again, how does an Ellsbury go from a no power, speed guy in 2008/09, 2010 injury, to a 2011 season with 32 bombs?

    RF had a few guys until JD Drew was settled on as a FA signing. Classic RF profile, but production fell off and it looks like the RS didn’t get their $70M worth of production.

    Since OF is a current Cubs concern, thought this history would provide insight into what they may do for 2012 in the OF. One other note, Theo is 100% an investment guy, so pretty much, future roster changes will probably not include any sleepers, diamonds in the rough, or any player that was never “high profile”, it appears?

     
     

  • Tno13

    Cubs sign David DeJesus per WSCR