Rounding Up the Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Major League Baseball made headlines with the announcement of the new CBA on Tuesday. Seemingly lost in all of the changes of new Collective Bargaining Agreement, especially those that impact the draft and international signings, was the last of the BBWAA Awards was handed out. For the most part, baseball will take a break for the next couple of days before kicking back into gear after the holiday.

News and rumors will continue to be made over the weekend but Monday starts a very busy two week period … and the Cubs figure to be right in the middle of the news and rumors leading up to, and through the Winter Meetings (December 5 – December 8).

Dale Sveum should be announcing his coaching staff over the next week. One piece is in place, two coaches are expected to return and two names have surfaced as possibilities for his staff.

Matt Garza has entered the rumor mill for the second winter in a row and Carlos Zambrano is expected to start in Venezuela on Saturday. Wednesday is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents … and Cubs’ skipper Dale Sveum turns 48 on Wednesday.

Here’s the update …

Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are interested in signing both Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes, or in the case of Darvish bid for the right to negotiate a contract with him.

As reported over the weekend, the Cubs held a private workout with Yoenis Cespedes on Monday in the Dominican Republic. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer joined Jason McLeod to check out the Cuban outfielder. McLeod was already in the Dominican scouting Jorge Soler, a 19-year outfielder that has not garnered as much attention as Cespedes.

Many have begun to question if Cespedes can hit big league pitching. He was recently compared to Wily Mo Pena but could still be looking at a huge payday. Teams are interested … will the Cubs continue to pursue or move on?

Matt Garza
What began as a question over the weekend in a Boston newspaper has become a full-blown rumor … thanks to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal. Will the Cubs shop Matt Garza? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said they will listen to offers for any of the players on their roster … and that includes Matt Garza. The word ‘untouchable’ is apparently no longer in the Cubs’ vocabulary. Does that mean they are shopping Garza? Not necessarily, but it likely means if the right deal comes along they could move him.

Bruce Levine mentioned the Rangers could be one of the teams interested in Garza … and that is based on Texas’ interest in Garza last winter before Jim Hendry pulled off the deal.

As Levine said, it costs the Cubs nothing to listen to offers for Matt Garza.

Dale Sveum’s Coaching Staff
Rudy Jaramillo will return for the final season of the three-year deal he signed in 2009 … as for the rest of the coaching staff, those decisions could be made official after the holiday weekend.

Pat Listach and Lester Strode are expected to return and both Ivan DeJesus and Bobby Dernier have been told they will not be retained.

As for Mark Riggins, Sveum and the Cubs’ front office have met with Riggins and are expected to do so again this week.

Names have begun surfacing as possibilities to serve as pitching coach and bench coach on Sveum’s staff … Chris Bosio and Ed Sedar.

Chris Bosio served as Lou Piniella’s pitching coach in Tampa (2003) and has been in the Brewers’ organization. Ed Sedar was the Brewers’ third base coach last season … both have an obvious connection to Dale Sveum.

Chris Bosio briefly served as the Brewers’ pitching coach at the end of the 2009 season and stayed in Milwaukee’s organization, serving as a scout until last June. Bosio took over as the pitching coach of the Nashville Sounds, the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate.

Ed Sedar completed his fifth season on the Brewers’ big league coaching staff, first as third base coach. Sedar was the Brewers’ first base coach before last season. Prior to joining Milwaukee’s staff in 2007, Sedar was the Brewers’ Minor League Outfield and Baserunning Coordinator (1992 – 2006) Sedar was born in Waukegan and played for the White Sox from 1981-1988.

Carlos Zambrano
According to a report from Cubs.com, Carlos Zambrano is expected to pitch on Saturday for his team in Venezuela. Zambrano was hit in the head last Saturday and depending on the report received between six to 18 stitches.

Zambrano was examined on Monday and his Caribes club said the team would have more info on Tuesday on his availability for Saturday. Initial reports indicated Zambrano could miss the remainder of the season.

This appears to be good news for Carlos Zambrano … and the Cubs.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com, here are the highlights:

  • Bruce Levine expects the Cubs to be big players for Prince Fielder.
  • The Cubs were one of 10-12 teams that talked to C.J. Wilson’s agent during the GM Meetings. Levine thinks the Cubs have “kicked the tires” on Wilson … and Mark Buehrle.
  • One of the first things Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did after taking over was they asked what trades were on the table prior to the deadline that weren’t made. The Pirates were very interested in Geovany Soto at the time (note: not the first time Soto to the Pirates rumor surfaced).
  • Levine is not sure if the Cubs are willing to commit to Welington Castillo due to his pitch calling abilities … not because of his good bat or great arm.
  • Levine is hearing the Red Sox are looking for a player off the Cubs’ big league roster as compensation for Theo Epstein. Levine mentioned the Tyler Colvin speculation that began over the weekend (suggestion was made by a Boston newspaper to send Colvin to the Red Sox for compensation.)
  • The Cubs are on record saying their number one priority with Josh Vitters is improving his defense at third base.
  • Theo Epstein has been given the go-ahead to spend money this off-season as he sees fit.

Cubs 2012 Cactus League Schedule
The Cubs released their 2012 spring schedule on Monday … and the Dale Sveum led Chicago Cubs will kick off the spring in Mesa against the Oakland A’s on March 4. Four of the Cubs first five games will be at HoHoKam Park.

The Cubs travel to Glendale to face the White Sox on March 9 and Sveum will face his former team for the first time on March 10 in Maryvale … the last time the Cubs were in Maryvale, Carlos Silva imploded and exploded. The Sox make their way to Mesa on March 18 to face a split squad Cubs’ team.

The Cubs have 16 home games on the Cactus League schedule, 17 on the road and will make their annual trek to Las Vegas (March 17-18) for the Big League Weekend at Cashman Field … 2012 will mark the eighth straight spring the Cubs have played exhibition games in Sin City. All toll, the Cubs will play 35 exhibition games in 2012.

Sveum’s squad has five split squad games on the schedule and only one day off. The exhibition season will end on April 3 against the Brewers at HoHoKam Park. Single-game tickets go on sale January 5, 2012.

Mark Buehrle
Most think it will be a cold day in (insert location here) before Mark Buehrle would sign a contract to pitch for the Chicago Cubs. Not only has Buehrle pitched on the other side of town but he also grew up a Cardinals fan. Both Bruce Levine and Phil Rogers thinks there is a possibility Buehrle would sign with the Cubs.

According to Levine, Buehrle’s durability could be the exception to the Cubs new rule about not signing older starting pitchers.

The Nationals recently met
with their top off-season target, Mark Buehrle, at his home in St. Louis.

More News, Notes and Rumors

Well, there’s the update … and Happy Thanksgiving.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"In baseball, you don't know nothing." - Yogi Berra
Share on Fancred
  • Tony_Hall

    After what we have been through the last so many years, watching an inept management of this team, it is great to see all that is going on, and all the possibilities for this team moving forward.

    No longer are role players, untouchable, apparently, no one is untouchable.  Now, to calm down anyone that is worried that means they are trading Garza or Castro.  If a team gives more in value than they feel a player is worth, they are going to make a move, since this will improve the team (Sell High, Buy Low).  Unlike our past trades, where we wait until a player has fallen out of favor (Sell Low, Buy High) to trade them.  Doing this one very simple concept, will improve your team, not over night, but what we have seen was a team that little by little, got worse.

    • Rbmercer

      Tony….couldn’t agree more. I realize I may be drinking the Kool-Aid right now and it is definitely a honeymoon period, but I have total faith and an air of confidence that we are lead by some real smart baseball men and that whatever decision they make in the offseason at this point is well thought out and part of an actual plan

      • Ripsnorter1

        Well, let’s face it: how strong the Kool-Aid is will in large measure be determined by whether or not they sign Fielder or Pujols. I don’t want either for 8 year contracts. I would pray that the Cubs have had enough of Soriano to put that behind the Cubs forever and ever. Amen. SO–with all the Theo love, this off-season will determine how much of it is infatuation, and how much of it is true love. 

        How about a trade for Adam Dudd? Zambrano for Dudd? How about it? Money relief for the White Sox, and Cubs’ solve a mental problem. Dudd will rebound in the NL. Besides, we need a power bat from the left side.

        • cubtex

          I don’t want any part of Dunn. Do you really want him at 1st base with the Cubs young infield??? No thanks. Leave that problem for the White Sox!

          • Ripsnorter1

            What will you do with Zambrano? Just eat the $18 million? Bring him back to quit on the team…again? What message will that send? Theo would lose all credibility if he fails to handle Zambrano in an astute manner. 

            I think Adam Dudd would be okay in LF or 1B. Sure, he won’t be a Pena, but he isn’t an axe murderer over there, either. I think he’ll have a good bounce back season in the NL. 
            But it all may simply be a moot point by Dec 7 if Mr. .196 accepts arby from the Cubs.

    • Spoda17

      I totally agree as well Tony.  It is amazing how some very simple moves and statements by the management brings instant credibility. 

  • Tony_Hall

    Whether you want Darvish or Cespedes, doesn’t matter.  What matters is that they are doing  their due diligence on anyone they believe can help the Chicago Cubs, put together an organization, that will compete for a World Series on an annual basis.

    Take Bruce Levine’s comment on the Cubs being big players for Fielder.  Of course they would love to add, Fielder, but at what price.  If you signed major league players to 3 or 4 year deals, the amount of teams that would want Fielder or Pujols would be nearly everyone.  But in this system, where you need to sign these guys to more years than they may even be able to play and play defensively, makes very few teams able to even compete.  

    Imagine if Fielder said he would only sign a 4 or 5 year deal.  He would be 31 or 32 when he was a free agent again, same as Pujols.  If he can stay healthy, he would be able to sign another big contract.  Now, I know you are thinking, why wouldn’t he sign an 8,9, or even 10 year contract now, if someone is willing to sign him.  Imagine if Fielder wanted to go to the Cubs.  But the Cubs are not willing to pay him $20M for 8, 9, years.  They may be willing to sign him to $25M for 5 years, or even $27M for 4 years.  He would make more money, over the course of his career by signing for lesser years, but more per year.  Doesn’t mean this will happen or even be considered, but if Fielder ends up in Seattle, for 8 or 9 years, he may wish he had gone this route, and gone to a team he chose, instead of a team that paid the most total package.  By doing this as well, would make more NL teams willing to bid, as the longer term deal, is what makes NL teams scared.  Where would you put this guy, if he loses his mobility.  Talk about changing your stance on adding the DH to the NL.

    • Schwimmer

      Tony, you make some great points about FIELDER and the kind of contract that the CUBS should consider.

      I think the key with FIELDER is whether he is ONLY motivated by getting the most money for the most number of years.  If so, he won’t be a CUB.  I say:  Let some other baseball team squander $180M to $200M on him.

      But if the CUBS can be clever and pay him more money for a shorter signing period (e.g. $25 for 5 years)…then, maybe he’d be interested since he knows the division and he knows SVEUM.  And, FIELDER knows that he could hit 50 HRs at Wrigley Field.

      I think the “risk/reward” on signing any player for 8 years is very bad.  And, I think that THEO knows that fact.  For every 8 year contract given to a ballplayer  that turns out to be a great signing — there 10 other contracts that are not worth it.  (I defy anyone to tell me I am wrong on this point :)

      Lastly, I am concerned about signing CESPEDES for too much money.  Of course, I would trust THEO & company to evaluate him.  But my question to you (and, anyone else) is:  What level has CESPEDES really played at?  In other words, is the CUBAN baseball he’s played equivalent to MLB?  Or, more likely, TRIPLE AAA?  How could anyone translate his talent from CUBAN baseball and decide that he’ll be a great hitter in MLB?

      Is he really being paid a “Super Signing Bonus?”  I just don’t get how you give an unproven hitter a 6 year contract for $30M or $40M???

      How is that different from giving FUKODOME $40M for 4 years?

      I’d love to hear your (and, anyone else’s) thoughts on the questions I am raising.  Thanks.

      • daverj

        I expect that the Cubs will make a pitch to Fielder for a shorter term deal at more dollars per season, but all indications are that Fielder is looking for a long term contact.  The Brewers offered him $100 million over 5 years and Fielder did not even give them a counter offer.  That says a lot about what Prince is looking for.  Also, Boras tends to steer his clients to the max overall dollar deals.  A client could overrule Boras and make a decision against his advice, but I doubt that would happen here. If Fielder is looking for familiarity (eg Sveum and the NL Central), he would have at least given the Brewers a counteroffer.

        The Cespedes deal will likely be similar to the Fukudome deal … many teams don’t learn from their own and others mistakes!

        I will, however, give you an example of a situation in which it makes sense to sign a player like Fielder to an 8 year deal.  Let’s say by 2014, Epstein has developed some young talent.  The Cubs are loaded, but haven’t found an answer at first base.  With one more big bat, the Cubs look like World Series contenders.  In that situation, it makes sense to sign a guy like Prince to an 8 year deal (because it will take an 8 year deal to get him signed).  You overpay in future years for a needed free agent piece now when you have a window of a couple years to win a World Series.  In that situation the reward is worth the risk.

        • Schwimmer

          I appreciate your thinking.  But even with FIELDER turning down 5 years and $100M from the BREWERS…that doesn’t mean that he is going to 
          get 8 years and $160M.

          Call me wishful — but maybe there is a comprise number for the CUBS where they sign him for 6 years at $120 million.

          Keep in mind that ADRIAN GONZALEZ is a Gold Glove 1st baseman and has as much power and a better batting average than FIELDER.  He signed for approx. $20M for 7 or 8 years.  And, I would have rather had him that FIELDER.  (Gonzalez will always be the 1st baseman that the CUBS let “get away.”  He really wanted to play for the CUBS.  But that nitwit HENDRY didn’t have enough sense to make that DEAL!  But of course, THEO…did :)

          It will be interesting to see whether the CUBS are interested enough in FIELDER to pay up.  But under no circumstances would I sign FIELDER for 8 years at $20M/year.   Let someone else “blow” their payroll and take that risk.

          • daverj

            Cubs will offer 6 year $120 million … it’s a no brainer to sign Fielder for those numbers … he’ll probably get 10-15 offers like that.  Prince will likely sign for a contract that even exceeds the 8 years $160 million you mentioned.  I think Jon Heyman predicted something like 8 years, $195 million.  My prediction would be 8 years at $175 million.

      • Tony_Hall

        Almost every long term deal has ended poorly, but teams never learn.

        Cespedes has been playing at a much lower level of competition. I have heard it compared to Single A or college, or even high school level.  Any way you look at it, it is a lot of money for an unproven talent. 

        • paulcatanese

          Agree Tony, teams never do learn. Its one reason I am holding off a little with assesment of Epstein until after this one. I cannot imagine in the farthest reaches of my mind that he would go for this guy.
          His video almost looks as though it was staged,opposing players in it look like high school players.
          Beyond that he is asking for more money than it would cost to pay off the national debt of Cuba.
          Cannot, just cannot believe the Cubs would entertain thoughts for this guy.

      • Dorasaga

        Five years ago someone on Baseball Prospectus tried to “translate the numbers.” He concluded the Cuban National League is more like single-A. The real stars who regularly play international tournaments, such as the teammate of Cespedes at Team Granma, Despaigne, would easily adjust to AA-ball, methinks. But this is the hard reality about Cespedes, and this link I’ve posted:

        http://www.baseballdecuba.com/EngnewsContainer.asp?id=2595

        I also have doubts about him:

        http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2011/11/cubsminor112111.php#comment-369811573

    • paulcatanese

      Tony, I just read where the Brewers have offered arbitration to Fielder, is that something that will change his status?

      • Tony_Hall

        It was a procedural thing.  He won’t be accepting and he is the elite that will still give compensation to the Brewers.

        His status is still very expensive.

  • Tony_Hall

    We talked about this the other day, if they will take Tyler Colvin for compensation, then let’s do it and be done with it.

    • Schwimmer

      I would love to give Tyler Colvin as compensation.  Fans need to get over him.  He was a 1-year wonder when he hit 20 home runs.

      The old CUB organization loves to “fall in love with potential!!!!”  
      (See  Hop Sak, Patterson, Hop Sak?, Felix Pie, etc.)  This is part of the bad judgment of those who have run the CUBS organization.

      As KENNY RODGERS sang:  “Know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em.” 

  • jw

    I am a bit concerned about Cashner…he never had his shoulder repaired last season and he has been sitting recently due to shoulder tightness….the Cubs need to find more depth in the pen

    • cubtex

      Many times surgery is not required JW. Cashner had been a closer at TCU and he has logged more innings over the last couple of years. Rest and rehab could be all that he needs. If he has no structural damage then why go that route.

      • jw

        Agree about the surgery it should be last resort and rest and rehab can work and work better than surgical alternatives. I was not trying to say he should have had the surgery only that people should not be thinking that he is a lock to solidify the pen.

  • cubtex

    Glad to hear that the priority for Vitters is to improve his defense at 3rd base! He is much more valuable as a 3rd baseman than an outfielder. I wouldn’t mind seeing an infield by midyear of Vitters,Castro,LeMahieu and Fielder.

    • Aaron

      That would be one of the best infields the Cubs have had in a VERY long time.

      • cubtex

        And they could play together for a long time since the oldest guy would be Fielder. Hopefully that could be comparable to Santo,Kessinger,Beckert and Banks  :)

      • Chadaudio

        It would be the worst defensive infield in a long time… maybe ever.

        • cubtex

          Don’t agree. Fielder is not a bad first baseman despite his build. LeMahieu will be an upgrade over Barney. Castro has excellent tools and will only improve and Vitters has an above average arm and quick reflexes. This infield has excellent potential both defensively and offensively. You have to consider the age of Vitters and Castro.

          • Chadaudio

            I love the youth and potential of that infield… but Fielder has no range, and it’s safe to say he is not a good first baseman (stats and anyone who watches him would agree).  
            LeMahieu is the possible exception, I haven’t seen LeMahieu play much, but being better then Barney wouldn’t be too hard – right?
            Castro is a terrible defensive SS.  Will he get better?  Yes, he should get a little better, but he isn’t projected to be a great defensive SS anymore.  The Major Leagues is full of players who had the tools to play SS, but couldn’t put it together (Soriano used to be an SS).  Castro could become a below average defensive SS?  Maybe – that still isn’t good though.  Remember, Pene is an excellent defensive 1B, and he could help Castro’s cause.  Believe me, I’m ok being patient with young middle infielders and catchers, but sheesh… he has a long ways to go.
            Everyone seems to project Vitters to move to 1B.  Again, I haven’t seen him play, but he sure has a lot of errors.  Yes, he’s young and can improve, but no one thinks he will be a “good” defensive third basemen (just serviceable at best).  I know, why would we want a 1B that hits for average?… I hope he can play 3B too, but collectively, that is a crappy infield.

          • cubtex

            Don’t believe everything you read :)   Would you agree that Castro has the tools to be an above average shortstop?  I don’t think there is any doubt that is the case. I compared Castro to Rafael Furcal(who helped the Cards win the world series with his defense) during his first couple of years. Furcal made a ton of errors and now he is considered an excellent defensive player. People need to be patient with young players

          • Chadaudio

            Again, I agree that some patience is needed.  but those guys have a LONG way to go (if they ever get there at all).  If you fielded them in 2012, they would be the worst defensive infield.  Fielder is not a good defensive 1B… and he never will be.
            Yes, I agree that Castro has the tools to be a great SS (great arm, and great range).  But again, the Majors are littered with guys that had the tools to be good SS’s, but had to be moved to a different position because they couldn’t master the pace, footwork, or mental aptitude to be an everyday SS at the Major League level.  Tools aren’t always enough.  Same with Vitters, he has good hands and a strong arm… but he hasn’t translated it yet into a consistant defensive 3B.Look.  I want Castro, Vitters and LeMahieu to come into 2012 and become the defensive studs we all want them to be… we really have no other options (please – no more Barney!)  But, in order to have patience with development, you have to have other infielder’s defense that you can depend on.  The whole infield can’t be a defensive work in progress.  I wouldn’t depend on any of those guys defensively in 2012.

          • paulcatanese

            You know I would have to reply on this one. I agree(wow) with your’e assesment on Castro, as his errors have mostly been throwing ones.
            He has the hands to play there, and that is the important thing. Throwing can be corrected in his case, footwork and opportunity to get an out and the ability or thought process to hold the ball will come, and since Sveum is an ex shortstop he will be able to relate to Castro. I really like Furcal as he makes the clutch play almost all of the time. His and Castro’s range are similar and thats a plus, just has to put the fundementals of that position
            in his mind as second nature and he will be fine.

          • cubtex

            I think Castro plays too lazy at times(especially with his throws) Hopefully he will learn he needs to focus on every pitch and not let up on his throws. He needs to speed it up a little on defense and get that internal clock in his head moving. He has a good arm and good range…..he just needs to work on his mental approach to the game. We both notice how well he does going back on fly balls as well.

          • paulcatanese

            Dont know too much about Vitters, but hands are the most important part of an infielder, and if he has those, a couple hundred groundballs a day would go a long way to improving his skills.

            I remember as a youngster that was the most enjoyable part of playing, and could have groundballs hit to me for hours.

  • John_CC

    Granted it appeared in the “Morning Phil” (it is such an awful pun that I shouldn’t read it on principle, let alone that it is Phil!) but he mentions Marshall moving back to the rotation.  I think it’s just a domino of “what if” Garza were traded.

    I like the idea of stretching him out and giving him a chance.

    • ldsteam2001

      I think Marshall is too valuable to the bullpen.  I think he would be a below average starter, but in the bullpen is a great lefty that can get out righties and lefties.

    • Schwimmer

      John, I don’t have much respect for Phil Rodgers opinions.  He has come up with some of the most ridiculous trade ideas as well as views on how use a ballplayer’s talents.

      They have already given MARSHALL a few tries as a starter.   He has failed.  He gets hit hard.  He is not that effective pitching against right-handers in a 9 inning game.  It is obvious, that he is most effective as a “relief” pitcher.

      He has a great curve ball.  But the moment he tries to throw a fast ball or other pitches, he gets hit hard.

      I say:  Use him as a reliever.  He has shown that is where he can help the team the most.   He will fail miserably if they try to use him as a starter.

      • John_CC

        My opinion is that Marshall has improved greatly as a pitcher since he was brought up as a starter.  I don’t know if it means he can succeed as a starter, but he has proven that he can get guys out and has the starter in his history. 

        Considering that the starting rotation currently consists of Garza, Demp, Z and there are very few FA starters to go after and very few to none in the farm pond that are ready to compete, either Marshall or Cashner should be considered.

        That’s all I’m saying. 

        The best backend bullpen means nothing if you don’t have the starters to get the ball to them.

        • Chadaudio

          I agree that Marshall should be given another shot at starting.  Statistically, he has been one of our best pitchers for the past couple of years.  I think we are in the spot now where we have to stretch out Marshall this spring and let him compete for a spot as a starting pitcher.  If the experiment doesn’t work during spring training, Marshall always seems to transition back to the pen easier then samardzija does.  The Cubs system has some options for bullpen arms, but doesn’t have any real starters… and Cashner doesn’t seem durable enough to be a starter.

          I love the idea of bringing Reed back too.  He is an excellent 4th outfielder and seemed to excell when working with Jarmillio.

          • Coolpdxcubsfan

            I liked the part about Reed Johnson, I think the team can benefit for another year until we get the changes sorted out. He really hustles and has been excellent in some clutch situations. I doubt if he will survive in the long haul though.
            Although I think maybe Marshall has matured to the point that he could possibly fill in, he really has become valuable as a reliever, to the point that I think we would be hurting without him there, at least for the time being.
            And as for Shark,  imo he has started to mature as a decent reliever also, and I had pretty much given up on him until recently. I think I’d like to see if he can keep it up.
            Of course you realize that none of this matters if they get traded in the raspberry (blue and red) koolaid shuffle.

          • Chadaudio

            All valid points.  If we had a good starting pitching staff, I would say, leave Marshall alone.  But desperate times call for desperate measures.  I don’t want to go to opening day with Coleman in the rotation again.

      • mutantbeast

        Marshall has no durability. He cant pitch more than once thru the order before he gets hit hard.Leave him in the pen, if necessary trade him next summer if his value is high. Him and Belliveau should be the 2 lefties in the pen.

        • Chadaudio

          I don’t think Marshall is an All-Star starting pitcher, but all of our #4 and 5 pitchers got hit hard… what internal option would you rather try?  Cashner (talk about no durability)?  Samardzija (he at least was paid like a starter)?  Coleman (yikes)?  It seems like Marshall wouldn’t do any worse.

        • John_CC

          Your durability statement does not have much validity. What are you basing it on? He has been as durable as anyone out of the pen for two years, not one DL stint as I recall, and he hasn’t started for 2 years. He has grown and matured since then.

          I would just like to see what he could do. If he can’t cut it, back to the pen!

          • Tom U

            Mutantbeast can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the term he was looking for was stamina. Marshall is a dependable pitcher because of his durability. You get consistent results day after day.

            However, Marshall had a tendency to tire as a starter, both in a game and in the rotation. He struggled in late innings and would have to skip starts at times to recover. I believe Marshall’s days as a starter are over.

  • Michael

    Honestly, call me crazy but I would really like to see Reed Johnson come back and be a 3/4/5 outfielder. He took great advantage of his opportunities and ABs. The guy always hustles and puts together solid ABs when pinch hitting off the bench.

    Also Neil, I read above about the latest notes, have you heard or read anything about what the Cubs are going to do with 3rd base? It doesnt seem like their is any urgency to replace Aramis. Even though he did have alot of junk hits and sloppy D, I think the Cubs will be suprised how much they will miss him at the Hot Corner and in the middle of the lineup. Thoughts…Thanks again.

    • John_CC

      For the money, it’s hard to top the effort and help that Johnson gives to a team off the bench.  But what do you mean “3/4/5 outfielder”?  That is the difference between starting everyday, which Reed cannot do, and being the 2nd reserve, which I would fine with.

      He seems like the kind of player that Epstein likes and certainly the kind that Sveum likes.  Johnson would make a good coach in the Sveum crew.

  • Jason Douglas

    Buerhle to the Cardinals makes a lot of sense.  Given their track record with pitchers that are mediocre to bad, I imagine Buerhle wins at least 15 games a year for 4-5 years for them.

    I really hope the Cubs sign him..not only for their benefit, but to keep them away from Cardinals!!

    • cubtex

      I don’t know if the Cards will have any money left after they sign PuJols. Buerhle is getting a lot of interest and unless he decides to give the Cards a hometown discount to play there….he will get more elsewhere I imagine.

  • mutantbeast

    I agree, IF the Cubs keep Cashner in the pen it could become a strength, providing good health. Its starters the Cubs need. 

  • Aaron

    Oh…the rumor mill is heating up. 

    Someone posted on here the other day, and we’re seeing articles on HIGHLY SUSPECT sites like Bleacher Nation about Soto and Marmol to the Angels for Conger, among others.

    And while there is no doubt that ALL players on the roster have been discussed with other teams, I find it really hard to believe this rumor, as the Angels had a very effective, young, and cheap closer in Jordan Walden this year that had betters stats than Marmol. Why would they want Marmol? I can understand why they’d want Soto, given their inability to get the catcher’s position taken care of, especially since their misguided trade of Mike Napoli.

    Conger makes little to no sense from the Cubs’ perspective given their depth with Clevenger and W. Castillo, plus, the lower ranks with Gibbs, Rosario, Lopez, etc. 

    I think with any rumors, you have to look at teams with depth to trade in pitching, corner IF, and corner OF. 

    But the Cubs have so little to offer in terms of veteran trade value, that it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which they’d deal two of their only veteran trade assets that hold much value for a marginal catching prospect like Conger. They’d be much more likely to use them in trades for guys like Logan Morrison, David Wright, Wandy Rodriguez, etc., that would fill legitimate holes. 

    The guys that have the highest trade value among veterans (with over 2 years of service time), include: Garza, Marshall, Marmol, Dempster, Samardzija, and Soto….and that, quite literally, is about it. Unless you’re talking about eating nearly 100% of Zambrano and Soriano’s contracts, in which case you’d still likely get just a middle-level prospect or two. 

    That’s some slim pickings if you ask me. 

    I think we might see more free agent/non-tender signings than anything. I still believe guys like Cuddyer, Kubel, Kotchman, DeJesus, Edwin Jackson, Broxton, Lidge, Pelfrey, Loney, Ian Stewart, Volstad, Owings, and possibly even Joe Saunders. 

    I believe Epstein and Hoyer might’ve made a miscalculation in the 40-man roster by not protecting the likes of Flaherty, Jay Jackson, M. Gonzalez, among others, because if the free agent prices get out of control (which they already are), they really need the cheap, internal options.

    • John_CC

      My greatest hope (well, one of them) is that Zambrano comes back strong and ready, like he usually does, and pitches like he used to.  Then he can be traded in June/July without eating the contract and acquiring true value in return. 

    • Zach

      Bleacher Nation is not a highly suspect site.  All he said was that he had a source tell him that the Cubs and Angel have discussed Soto and Marmol, while the Cubs have had interest in Conger. But he said that he doesn’t doubt that the Cubs and Angels have discussed Conger and others, but it doesn’t mean the Cubs are going to make a trade, its that the Cubs are just doing their due diligence.

  • Tony_Hall

    Sizemore signs back with the Indians.

    $5M base plus a chance at $4M incentives…almost exactly what I said he would sign for and would be fair market.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7273292/2011-free-agents-grady-sizemore-cleveland-indians-sign-one-year-5-million-deal

    • daverj

      I’ll eat crow on this one.  You were right … I was wrong.  

      • Tony_Hall

        I am wrong more than I am right, all part of putting your thoughts in writing.

        I would have given taken a 1 year flyer on Sizemore for that, but he was obviously looking for a payday, like you were thinking, and when it wasn’t there, went back home.  I have to respect a guy that does that.

  • Tom

    If Wellington Castillo has a good bat and arm, why hasn’t he been groomed for 3B. He could also play 1B. He wouldn’t need to call a game but could be used as the emergency catcher.

    • ldsteam2001

      Maybe he just has a good bat for a catcher, but for a third baseman maybe not so much.

    • paulcatanese

      Thats not a bad idea Tom, has he been tried at third base at all?

      • cubtex

        You want everyone to be at 3rd !!! Haha

        • paulcatanese

          Well Yeah, the Cubs havent had anyone over there for almost two full years. When the Batboy fielding groundballs during batting practice looks better than what was there, I’m always looking.:-)

    • Tom U

      Castillo had one start at first as a 19 year old in the rookie league (he committed an error in 8 chances). 

      At 5′ 10″, 210 lbs, he isn’t the exact body type that projects to a corner infield spot. 

      Castillo has also committed 65 passed balls in 6 professional seasons, indicating he may have mobility/reaction time issues. Not good qualities to have at either third or first.

      His .286 average and 15 home runs this past season represent career highs. He only had 35 RBI, with a career high of only 59 in 2010.

      • paulcatanese

        Whoa Tom,that speaks volumes about moving him to first or third, and all the passed balls. Reaction time seems to be his problem as well as his offensive numbers. If I had to look at these on a computer he would not even be a prospect, let alone at the big league level. Am I missing something here?

        • Tom U

          Hold on Paul. In looking at the numbers of all the starting catchers in the majors, only five have clearly better offensive numbers than Castillo had at Triple-A. Those catchers would be Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, and Carlos Santana. So Castillo has a chance to be as good or better offensively than most of the catchers in the majors.

          Castillo still has the best arm at the position in the organization. However, his pitch calling, defensive issues, and most importantly his work ethic have been what has held him back. 

          Castillo’s numbers and progress are very similar to Soto’s, which I feel he would resemble if he makes it to the majors. Remember, it took Soto seven seasons before he finally put it all together.

          • Tony_Hall

            If Castillo can resemble Soto, I’m all for it.  Less money and we can get some prospects for Soto.

          • cubtex

            I agree. Hopefully they can get some value. I hear the Pirates are interested.

          • J Daniel

            Tony,

            I, as many have on here, would like to have them deal Soto, Byrd, and possibly Marmol if the prospect return is a good one.  I believe all three would be replaced with better numbers.  The system needs a boost.

  • Tom U

    Junior Lake starting at shortstop for Estrellas de Oriente in the DWL tonight.