The Cubs Fab Front Office … and Other News and Notes

Theo Epstein introduced his long-time friends and associates to the Chicago Media and to the Faithful on Tuesday in what Epstein called the “Cubs Weekly Press Conference“. For the second Tuesday in a row, the Cubs front office grew up while getting younger at the same time. Epstein proudly introduced Jed Hoyer as the Chicago Cubs’ Executive Vice President/General Manager and Jason McLeod as the Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for the Chicago Cubs.

If there was any doubt after last Tuesday, the latest presser proved that Theo Epstein is in charge of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs.

Theo Epstein has known and/or worked with Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod a combined 21 years (eight with Hoyer and 13 with McLeod). The Cubs’ power trio share the same philosophies on how to build a winning organization and the best ways to ensure a team plays consistently in October.

Epstein and Hoyer addressed many of the issues facing the Cubs as the organization moves into what should be a very interesting off-season … including Mike Quade, Aramis Ramirez, free agency and Carlos Zambrano.

Mike Quade
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer talked about the six to seven hour meeting they had with Mike Quade last Thursday in Chicago. Epstein described the meeting as “productive and thorough” while Hoyer said the meeting “was in depth” and he “really enjoyed” the time with Quade. Epstein described Quade as a “good baseball guy.”

Epstein and Hoyer are expected to meet with Quade again in the coming days and they are hoping to have a “resolution” within a week.

Aramis Ramirez
From all indications, the Cubs will have a new third baseman in 2012 after Aramis Ramirez opted out of his part of the mutual option for next season. Epstein and Hoyer were asked about Ramirez during Tuesday’s press conference. Epstein said, “He’ll likely be moving on and we will be looking for a new solution at third base.” Epstein wished Ramirez well and would not rule out re-signing him. Epstein spoke about Ramirez in the past tense, for the most part, while addressing Ramirez’s future with the Cubs.

Carlos Zambrano
Theo Epstein addressed the Carlos Zambrano situation and described a conversation he had with Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, as enlightening. Epstein has also spoken with several of Zambrano’s teammates and other Cubs personnel that have worked with Zambrano over the years. Epstein described those conversations as enlightening as well. Epstein and Hoyer plan on “processing the information” about Zambrano and following up directly with him to find out what is best for the Cubs.

News, Notes and Rumors

  • Jed Hoyer was very complimentary of the job Randy Bush did while serving as the Cubs’ interim GM. Hoyer said that Bush will remain with the organization and serve as his assistant GM.
  • According to a tweet from David Kaplan, Hoyer and Epstein have been given clearance from ownership to eat contracts if necessary.
  • Jed Hoyer said, “Relying on external solutions to build a winning baseball team is a bad idea, it is something we need to get past.”
  • According to a report from Bruce Levine, look for the Cubs to “target pitching when the team begins weighing off-season transactions.” Hoyer said it is too early to say which players the Cubs will look at in free agency “but it’s fair to say we have to spend some time rebuilding the pitching staff.”
  • According to Bruce Levine, at one point the Cubs and Red Sox agreed on Chris Carpenter as compensation for Theo Epstein … before Boston backed out of the deal.
  • Speaking of Chris Carpenter … Carpenter, Trey McNutt and Junior Lake will represent the Cubs’ organization in the AFL Futures Game. The MLB Network will air the game live beiginning at 7:05pm CDT.
  • Bruce Levine’s sources indicated that Jed Hoyer’s five-year contract will pay him almost double of the $600,000 annual salary he made in San Diego.
  • Jon Heyman tweeted Tuesday that Dale Sveum could be a candidate for the Cubs’ managing job.
  • It is possible that the Cubs and Red Sox will receive an extension in the compensation talks for Theo Epstein. According to the Boston Globe, the Sox are not expecting to get a windfall of talent for Epstein after reports have suggested that Bud Selig is “against the idea of executives or managers bringing back major returns.” The Sun-Times reported late Tuesday night that Tuesday’s deadline to resolve player compensation with the Boston Red Sox over Epstein was extended to the end of next week

Video from the Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod Media Day

Click Here for Audio of the Jed Hoyer/Jason McLeod Press Conference

And last, but not leastAccording to the Tribune, the Cubs would be interested in White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle if the price tag and years aren’t astronomical.

For the latest on the Chicago Cubs, follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • Calicub

    So selig sets a date and then decides to extend it.

    Seriously? If you weren’t prepared to step in then keep your mouth shut.

    And the Red Sox. Its clear the cubs are not going to literally give you the farm and it is clear that Uncle Bud has no intention of allowing a trade of any true weight or substance to set a precident. Get over yourselves and your bs east coast bostonian elitism.

    • Tony_Hall

      Bud wouldn’t have given Theo and Ben more time, if they didn’t ask for it, or if they didn’t say they were getting closer.  They may be scouting in AFL or in one of the many other leagues that have players still playing.  

    • J Daniel

      Maybe both teams wanted the extension so he granted it.  No big deal!  It certainly looked like the Cubs played their cards correctly in this mess and the compensation probably isn’t going to really matter.

      If Theo were the gm, the compensation would be expected to be more.  He is the president and moved for a better position – which is acceptable in the current system.

  • Brp921

    The worst part of keeping Mike Quade as manager next year, since the Cubs more than likely won’t be contenders, is that it is more likely they may lose the chance to hire Ryne Sandberg. I know Ryno would love to manage the Cubs, but if he experiences success with a different team he could decide to stay with them, if and when the Cubs finally come calling.

    • J Daniel

      If these guys decide Sandberg is not the way to go then so be it.

      • Brp921

        It looks now like they have decided that Sandberg is not the guy. However Sandberg fits who they say they want to a tee, except for the major league experience. 

  • Tony_Hall

    I watched yesterday’s press conference and loved every minute of it.  The stark contrast to JH, and the way that they discuss “The Cubs Way” gives me new hope.  

    I just scheduled a new eye appointment, to get my new supply of Cubs goggles, and ordered in a bulk supply of Cubbie Kool-Aide.

    No matter if Theo & Company bring a World Series to Clark and Addison, at least we now know that, they will be making decisions, based on a lot more than last seasons stats and gut feelings.

    No more one year wonders!

    I have a hard time believing that doing things the right way, bringing in so much brain power, retaining the trio of Fleita, Wilken, and Bush to have the knowledge of the past, having a larger payroll available to spend money, (when it is worth spending) then your counterparts, still having the lure of players wanting to be on the team that finally wins…I find it hard to not believe that we will see a very competitive team, soon enough, that will be a regular in October.  And if anything our hated nemesis from St. Louis has shown us, is getting in, gives you a chance, the regular season is just a qualifier, the playoffs is where it counts.  

    We finally have a management team, that is going to raise the bar and still be able to hold it up in the air.  Theo made it very clear last week, that this is a team sport.  It takes everyone to put in the extra effort.  The difference can be a scout, taking the extra time, to see a prospect, one more time before the draft.  There is nothing fancy about driving and going to high school games, but one extra trip, can be the difference.

    I have said this before, but this is looking like one fun hot stove league.

    Bring on free agency!

    • jw

      I agree that the flavor is different…JH would have never admitted the pitching staff needed to be rebuilt, would have gotten over the barrel for Ramirez and just dumped Zambrano with no return

      • Tony_Hall

        JH would be saying we are only 3 moves away, would have extended ARam and Pena, all with no-trade clauses, for too many years and dollars and would have just picked up Samardzija’s option, spending 600k more than needed, and leaving his no-trade clause in place.  

        • jw

          I am so glad I won’t have to see or hear that BS anymore

    • Schwimmer

      I agree with Tony’s sentiments.  As CUB fans…it is easy to get excited when you hear these 3 young execs talk about their plans and vision.  You just know:  THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY you build a baseball team.  

      I think they want to create a new feeling about the CUBS.  That’s why I think QUADE is gone.  Retaining him is not consistent with the change they are trying to create.   They want a Team Manager that can grow with the CUBS over the coming years.  That’s why they’ll either choose a new manager and new coaches to give the team a new look and new energy.

      I say that next week they’ll announce that they have released QUADE.

      There first priority will be pitching.   The next priority will be to bring on some players that have defense and speed.  They’ll trade SORIANO.  I hope they keep ZAMBRANO.  The alternative would be to get nothing for him.  And, the CUBS need pitching.  I say that if ZAMBRANO is “contrite” — they’ll give him a chance.

      I do hope that they look into signing FIELDER.  I say PUJOIS is not worth the money he wants.  It makes no sense to sign him for 8 to 10 years at $30 mil a year.  

      I am filled with excitement to watch this blog and read the newspapers each day to see each of the moves, changes and trades that THEO and his people will make.   Who knows when the CUBS will finally make it to the World Series?  But we finally…can have confidence that this Team will start to take the “form” of baseball team that we can respect…and, that WILL WIN very soon.

      • J Daniel

        I to believe Quade is gone – could see it in Jed’s body language.  The only situation that would keep Q around is that they have an agreement with someone else who is managing someplace else – i.e., Joe Madden.

        I still would not want Q around but I can’t see them answering these questions all year knowing that Q will not be around after next year.

        They need to change the culture and they know that.  The players don’t really respect Q as a leader and it will lead to more problems during the year.  I believe it will be announce really soon that he is not back.

    • Bobby P

      I’ve bought myself a Theo-logy t-shirt, in preparation for free agency.

      If, by the grace of God, he is able to move either Big Z or Sori (or both), I will consider him my Lord and Savior in my household.

      Can I get a Theo Epstein fathead?

    • paul catanese

      I agree with what you are saying about being competetive and having a team that wins. I didnt have a chance to respond last night about Qua being a good guy,he may be. But given the way he managed this last year and more important the way he gave more of himself to veterans and ignored the newcomers leads me to believe that it would carry over to this year if he were to be retained as manager. No matter where he is placed in the system,minors,coach, manager, I have a hard time with him being able to change his ways, I dont think he can, its just his way. I would think he would manage or coach the same way in the minors, giving more time to those who have been around the longest, that and his being overmatched with his decisions would in my estimation deride what is trying to be brought across by the franchise. Just an opinion Tony.

  • Tony_Hall

    Hopefully this will be an announcement we anxiously wait for in years to come.

    Gold Glove Award winners.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7180262/los-angeles-dodgers-boston-red-sox-trios-lead-gold-glove-winners

    3, count them 3 Red Sox players…

    • Bobby P

      I think you have the Gold Glove confused with the Silver Slugger award… wait… it says gold glove, but these guys are mostly sluggers. Well, I guess the best offensive players must also be the best defensive players. Yes, that’s it. Makes perfect sense. Thank you, MLB. Thank you for making sense. I love how it all comes together.

      Weiters must be the best defensive player I’ve ever seen play the game. Not to mention how Kershaw is so quick he fields hard hit grounders to third base. And Joey Votto… what can I say about that guy… He’s like a cat out there. Catches everything! Sprints out to CF to field fly balls at least 2-3 times a game.

      The only thing I can say is that MLB got it right! They finally got it right!

      • Tony_Hall

        Wasn’t looking to debate the merits of the award, just that the Cubs have never been known to be a good defensive team, and hopefully they will be and their Sluggers can win some Gold Gloves…

        • Bobby P

          I wasn’t looking to debate either, just ridicule the award… ;)

          Derrek Lee won two as a Cub. Granted, he had to hit over .300 to do it, but still. He was a good defensive 1st baseman. The only player I’ve ever seen that makes A-Ram look like an average/decent 3rd baseman.

        • John_CC

          I’m not looking to be argumentative either, and I too can’t wait to see some Cubs defense, whether they make this list or not.  But the GG has become a bit of BS award…are they telling us that Alex Gordon is the best Left Fielder in the AL?  Parra? Palonco?  eeehh.

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree, there are some bad choices every year. Check out the link Dorasaga posted.

    • Dorasaga

      You just reminded me to find someone to bring me the latest installment of the “Fielding Bible”:

      http://www.fieldingbible.com/

      It’s not so much the advanced stats in it but Bill James’ “mixed bag” of satire and archaeology that tickled my cerebrum.

      Back to the Gold Gloves. There’s something different this year:

      “Oh, and one more distinction from the Gold Gloves that isn’t a distinction anymore. They have finally agreed with us this year that separate awards should be given for left fielders, center fielders, and right fielders. They are different positions, folks, and now even the Gold Glove award establishment admits it.”

      • Bobby P

        I’ve always loved the fielding bible. Great post!

        I never fully agree with their assessment though, but it’s certainly a much better defensive award. It’s too bad it’s not an official award. Defense matters, especially nowadays, and it’s mostly overlooked by major league baseball. What’s so damn surprising about it is that it’s voted on by managers and coaches, who you would think know a thing or two about defense.

        Being the homer that I am, I have to say that there is no way I would vote Pujols ahead of Adrian Gonzalez on that list. Even if you follow pure sabermetrics, Gonzalez was twice as good as Pujols this year. Albert is a very underrated fielder though, but not as good as 2-5 years ago.

        How awesome is it to discuss fielding?! I love it!!

        • Dorasaga

          That’s certainly a valid point, especially when we consider the fact that a player’s defensive prowess is at its height for a 22 years old, not 32, as Prince Albert is. AGon is three years younger with the same instinct Pujols got.

          As with the managers voting the wrong guy… I read a good article about managers only got to vote the Gold Gloves, but not any other awards. So, these baseball insiders might also consider what a player means: his work ethic, attitude, role model to other players, that the manager wants to see. It’s not just about the fielding, you see.

          • Bobby P

            It’s not just about fielding?! You could have knocked me over with a feather.

            Very interesting perspective about how the managers could potentially vote. It certainly has some merit since managers and coaches would value the work ethic and attitude more than others, for example. The Fielding Bible tries to strip that away and focus purely on the defensive qualities and defensive plays by a fielder. Neither system is perfect, but in my humble opinion, the gold glove award puts too much of an emphasis on a player’s reputation and how revered they are. I mean, some coaches love certain guys just because of their mental makeup even though they might be limited athletically.

            Neither system is perfect, obviously. Defense is tricky.

            I just share Tony’s hope of us being a better fielding team in the years to come. I mean, I’d love to just have slightly above average fielders. I think it was interesting to see how Jed Hoyer has already figured out that maybe a slugging lineup is not the best suited for Wrigley. You need more athletic guys capable of chasing down fly balls and going from 1st to 3rd on a single, and so on. Very astute observation early on. Fenway is very unique as a defensive ballpark, while Wrigley is kind of a Jekyll and Hyde place. These guys do such an amazing amount of research. Whether it is how the ballpark plays defensively or how day games affect the team, we’ll figure it all out in the next couple of years. It’ll be interesting going forward…

  • Chuck

    One of the best things to hear is that ownership has given consent to eat some contracts.

    • J Daniel

      Yes, and they will if they need to.  But they are going to explore all possible avenues.

      It will NOT surprise me if Z is back to at least start the season.  I have mentioned this several times now and believe it more after yesterday.

      Theo made the statement about Z – “you have made the decision that he should not be here but we need to look at it” (something along that line). 

      Z can be an asset and they need to get the most out of it.  There is no need to absorb most of his salary just to move him as he can be to valuable in a trade next July.

      Z is a big baby that has been allowed to be a baby.  Maybe the sending him home last year will have helped.  I say bring him back and if he has not changed they can send him home again.  But I have a feeling he will be very good next year.

  • studio179

    Glad to hear the new regime will likely target pitching right away. They might have to get a bit creative in how they get it, but I feel comfortable they will. 

  • jw

    Hoyer;

    “Injuries can never be an excuse for a bad season”

    Now that’s something I am glad we won’t be hearing in the future…JH was great at rationalizing his below average performance.

    I really am encouraged with what I am hearing!

    • Bobby P

      I wouldn’t call it below average. He was the GM for 2 years in San Diego. I’m not too sure about how good their farm system was when he took office, but assuming that they didn’t have too many guys that fit the “Theo mold,” it would take 2-3 years to get guys through the system. So 2012 is going to be more of an indicator of how good Hoyer was as the Padres GM.

      Josh Spence looks like he can potentially be a superstar with how he’s developing (even though it’s early, of course) and Jedd Gyorko looks really promising. Both from the 2010 draft. Spence has even made the major league roster. It also looks like he has some promising young arms, like Franklin and Pena from the middle rounds.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=franch_year&team_ID=SDP&year_ID=2010&draft_type=junreg&

      He also had 5 first round picks in 2011, and from the looks of it, they look promising. Cory Spangenberg is highly regarded.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=franch_year&team_ID=SDP&year_ID=2011&draft_type=junreg&

      Like I said, give it time. 2012 and 2013 will be a better indicator of how good JH was.

      • daverj

        When he said JH was below average, I think he meant Jim Hendry, not Jed Hoyer.

        • Bobby P

          Well… I guess I just defended Jed for nothing then. Story of my life.

          That’s why I try not to use abbreviations. There is a new JH now…

      • jw

        Bobby P

        Thanks for the great info!

        I’d like like to clarify that I meant Jim Hendry (JH) was a below average GM…just realized thay have the same initials!!! (I hope that is the only thing that is the same about them)

        • Bobby P

          Yeah, I should have figured that out.

          Well, at least you have some more info about Jed Hoyer, if nothing else.

    • J Daniel

      Injuries have been an excuse here – the problem is the guys injured really are not that good anyways.

      The Cardinals could have used injuries as an excuse to feel sorry for themselves.

  • Bobby P

    Fab is right. I don’t get to use the word “fabulous” as much as I would like because that’s just not a big part of my everyday vernacular, but our new front office is truly fabulous.

    I know I’m bound to be disappointed soon enough, but right now, I just can’t find anything wrong in what they are saying. I’m just so thrilled to have guys like this in the Cubs front office. This doesn’t feel like the lowly Cubs anymore…

  • http://www.facebook.com/swifty84 Steve Swift

    Mark Buehrle would be a great fit…in the rotation..  a top 3 of Garza, Buehrle, and Dempster gives you a lot more leway on the 4 and 5 spots..

    • daverj

      Agreed … if Buehrle will accept a 2-3 deal.  Given the thin pitching market this offseason, I expect that some team will give him 4-5 years … in which case, it will not be the Cubs.

    • J Daniel

      Still nned an ace though.  If you had Garza, Buehrle, Dempster as the 2-4 guys that would be pretty good.  None of them are an ace though.

      • daverj

        You only need an ace if you are going to contend in 2012, but that is not the priority right now.

        While Epstein and company would like to win this year, they have made it clear that are prioritizing the long term over the short term right now.  If they can get an ace at a reasonable price on a short term deal, then they’ll bring him in.  If not, then they’ll go without an ace in 2012.
        I think some Cub fans are going to end up disappointed this offseason.  There won’t instant gratification with the new plan, but in a few years we should be in a much better situation.

        I expect that the 2012 rotation will be Garza, Demp, Zambrano, and then 2 of Samardzija, Cashner, and a couple veteran free agents brought in on 1 or 2 year deals.

  • John G

    Speaking of pitching, the Tigers are going to let Brad Penny walk. Does anyone here think he can be a fit either as a fifth starter or long reliever?

    • Calicub

       Brad Penny…talk about a town bicycle.

      I’ll pass

    • daverj

      Yes, I think Penny is the type of player we may see in a Cub uniform in 2012.

      My read on the new “Cub Way” is that big dollar free agents will be brought in to fill needs when the Cubs are ready to compete for a championship.  Until that time (a few years down the road), the Cubs will focus on building a farm system and filling the major league roster with guys willing to accept short term deals.

      I expect we’ll this free agent offseason will be full of names like Penny, Sizemore, Kubel, Oswalt, and Damon … guys that have risk and won’t be landing huge 5-8 year deals.  We won’t be looking at guys like Fielder, Pujols, Darvish, and Wilson.

      Signing Fielder and Wilson (if ownership allowed budget-wise) would have been the types of moves Hendry would make.  It would potentially make us competitive for the division title for a couple years but then we’d be back to having way overpaid vets.  We’re not ready to add those types of players yet … this time the Cubs will build from “within”.

      • Dorasaga

        I found Fielder, Darvish, and Wilson just as riskful as a Damon, Sizemore, or Oswalt. For many reasons.

        It’s always more of an art to control risk. Objective analysis helps, too.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Aramis Ramirez is officially a free agent. bit.ly/t57O1F

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Quade has been let go … will post soon.