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

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth