Cubs News, Notes and Rumors Heading into the Winter Meetings

As the Cubs prepare for their first Winter Meetings with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at the helm, Epstein addressed several topics with the media on Thursday … Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, the coaching staff, the bullpen, Brett Jackson’s future, Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija, Epstein seemingly touched on a majority of the hot topics surrounding the Chicago Cubs … while at times not really answering any of the questions.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a lot of work ahead of them as they try to build a roster for next season and beyond. Epstein discussed the challenges on Thursday, “I will say that’s one of the greatest challenges of the job for any management team: balancing short-term interests with long-term interests and making sure they align. And being honest about where you are as an organization and when your opportunity to really win comes.”

As the baseball world begins making their way to Dallas, here is the update that includes more from the Cubs’ weekly press conference plus all of the news, notes and rumors …

Cubs Weekly Press Conference
Theo Epstein has jokingly said that the Cubs’ lead the league in press conferences. With all of the changes and additions to the Cubs’ front office and coaching staff, to say the Cubs have had their fair share of press conferences over the last several weeks would be an understatement.

And to not disappoint, Theo Epstein introduced David DeJesus to the Chicago media on Thursday morning. After DeJesus met with the media, Epstein discussed a wide variety of topics. A tip of the cap to Jordan Bernfield (WGN Radio) for doing an excellent job of passing on the info from Theo Epstein and David DeJesus.

In bullet point format, here are the highlights …

David DeJesus

  • DeJesus: “Leading off the game you want to see pitches for the guys behind you. You want to see what the pitcher has that day.”
  • DeJesus: “My job is to set the tone of the game. Get on base anyhow, walks, hit by pitches, base hits preferably. Hustle and give life to the team.”
  • DeJesus said he didn’t know Dale Sveum and went to Wikipedia and looked him up.

Theo Epstein

  • The Cubs are still processing the new CBA. Epstein thinks there are still ways to be aggressive in the draft.
  • Epstein: “In the end, I think the new rules make it even more of a scouting contest. You have to get the evaluations right.”
  • Epstein: “Still going to build this around young players. Free agency should never be the primary area you rely upon to build your club.”
  • Epstein on Starting Pitching: “You can’t take your chances very seriously as a club if you go into the season without not just five guys you can point to, but six, seven, eight guys. You better know who you’re ninth starter is going to be, because you are going to need him. The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter at some point.”
  • Epstein on adding a Left-Handed Bat: “As far as adding a left-handed bat? Yeah, it’d be nice, but under the right circumstances. But we’re not going to force anything.”
  • Theo Epstein was very impressed with the Cubs’ site in the Dominican and the scouts there. Epstein said it is one of the strengths of the organization.
  • Epstein said he is not sure how the signing of David DeJesus affects Bret Jackson. Epstein added he is excited about Jackson and believes he has a bright future with the Cubs organization but alluded to the fact he could begin the year at the Triple-A level.
  • Epstein on Matt Garza’s future with the Cubs: Garza is exactly the type of pitcher they would like to build around.
  • Epstein on the Cubs’ bullpen: “It’s one area where we have some core pieces already in place, but we need to continue to add depth. We’re one-two pieces away from having the pen we’d like to have going into the year.”
  • Epstein said he was encouraged by Andrew Cashner’s performance in the Arizona Fall League.
  • Epstein also liked how Jeff Samardzija pitched in the second half of the season last year.
  • Epstein on Sean Marshall: “I think [Sean Marshall] might be the most valuable left-handed reliever in all of baseball.”
  • Epstein said he liked having position-flexible players such as Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney and Bryan LaHair.

Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro made Keith Law’s list of the top 50 players in the majors age 25 or under. Castro was ranked sixth behind Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Stanton, Buster Posey and Clayton Kershaw.


Castro is an extremely gifted hitter, leading the NL in hits (and at-bats) despite being the youngest regular in the circuit, and is going to come into more power over the next few years as he fills out.

He has outstanding hand-eye coordination and the bat control you’d expect from that, keeping his hands inside the ball well and adjusting to off-speed pitches like a big-league veteran. He’s an average runner at best and not a high-percentage basestealer, so he’ll either have to improve his reads or stop making so many attempts


The biggest issue for Castro is that his lower half is already slow, and if he gets thicker and slows down further, it’ll guarantee he moves off short and could in theory keep him from second base as well, although his arm is strong enough to play anywhere on the field. He’s likely to keep posting .300 averages and should end up with 20-plus homers and slugging percentages around .500, perhaps even better if he can work on getting into better counts.

News, Notes and Rumors

  • Theo Epstein said Thursday that the announcement of Dale Sveum’s coaching staff would not likely be made until next week at the Winter Meetings … or soon after. From all indications, the Cubs will officially announce Jamie Quirk (bench coach), Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Pat Listach (base coach) and Lester Strode (bullpen coach) will join Rudy Jaramillo on Sveum’s staff. Could Craig Counsell’s decision be the cause of the delay in announcing the staff or could Sveum be interested in hiring a coach or two from Terry Francona’s staff?
  • Carlos Zambrano is doing fine after taking a line drive off the side of the head/face a couple of weeks back. Zambrano was scheduled to pitch last Saturday but was pushed back. Theo Epstein said Thursday that Zambrano is healing and there is no timetable for him to pitch again … but it should be soon.
  • As of Thursday, the Cubs top priority going into the Winter Meetings is adding starting pitching. But according to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are eyeing starting pitching and a lefty bat.
  • Aramis Ramirez could be heading to the West Coast. Ramirez met with the Angels and could receive an offer in the near future from the Los Angeles Angels. Ramirez has narrowed his list of suitors down to a few teams and could sign as soon as next week with one of the teams. Jim Bowden (MLB Radio Network/XM Radio) has heard that Ramirez is one of the back-up plans for the Brewers if Prince Fielder signs elsewhere.
  • Speaking of the Brewers, according to Buster Olney the last formal offer they made to Prince Fielder was a five-year, $100 million contract. The Brewers have let it be known they would go to six years and $120 million to keep Fielder.
  • Jim Duquette (MLB Radio Network/XM Radio) has heard the Angels have joined the list of teams that is interested in trading for Matt Garza.
  • According to George Ofman, three unknown AL teams have kicked the tires on Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs would have to pay a lot of the $54 million still owed to Soriano to move him and they are looking for young players in return.
  • According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs search for starting pitching includes a run at left-hander Chris Capuano. As the Sun-Times pointed out, Dale Sveum and the anticipated new pitching coach, Chris Bosio, know Capuano well.

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

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"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." – E.E. Cummings

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  • Aaron

    I’m just going to venture a guess, but things might’ve taken a very bad turn recently with the DeJesus signing.

    First of all, they said he’s going to be the starter. At best, he’s a starting CF, but he’s more of a 4th OF at his age and production level right now. If he’s the starting RF, then the Cubs have HUGE problems, unless he turns back the clock like 4 years….which ain’t gonna happen.

    Additionally, the fact that they are actually considering Capuano should tell you something….they do NOT intend to spend much money this offseason. Fact is, they have Garza, Dempster, and Zambrano locked up, and Wells projected to stick as well at this point. 

    The fact that Epstein actually listed DeWitt, Baker, and Barney as players he likes does NOT make me feel very good….primarily because they are the antithesis of what he went after while he was the successful GM of the Red Sox. All 3 of them have low OBP potential, almost no power among them, and while they are “versatile”, they’re not particularly great at defense at any position. DeWitt was a butcher at 2B, 3B, and LF last year. Barney was decent, but didn’t showcase much range as you would have thought, and Baker was below average at 2B, and slightly above average at 3B…but with NO power.

    What I always go back to, is what you have in the system that is equal/if not greater than what you have at the MLB level. In the Cubs’ case, they have the following:
    B. Jackson=better all around than Byrd
    LeMahieu=better all around than Barney (and can play all the positions he plays: SS, 3B, 2B, and even played 1B last year)
    Flaherty=better offensive AND defensive potential than Baker, PLUS, he can play SS, which Baker cannot
    M. Gonzalez/Lake=either one would be a better option than DeWitt, who is absolutely BRUTAL at the plate and in the field…well, Lake would be worse than him in the field, unless you stuck him in RF or something

    SO…the DeJesus signing, the interest in Capuano, and the confidence in Baker, DeWitt, and Barney…well, given the fact all 3 are hackers at the plate and mediocre in the field, really doesn’t inspire confidence in their judgement right now. Obviously, it’s early on, and Epstein could be attempting to increase any trade value they might have, along with his comments about Marshall and Garza being cornerstones, and the fact he’s said Marmol just had a rough season, and he expects big things out of him…….so, who really knows, but this is NOT a good step right now in the right direction.

    The right direction, in my opinion, is following what made you successful prior to joining the organization, and if these players are still with the team, and if they land Capuano instead of a Buehrle, Oswalt, Jackson, etc., then there is GREAT cause for concern.

    Right now, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but his comments sure aren’t inspiring any sort of confidence at all…whatsoever….at least from my perspective.

    I posted the other day what I thought their comments meant, and at the time, I really believed they might come true, but now, I’m starting to think otherwise. I don’t think they will go after Fielder, Pujols, or any other big-time free agents, INCLUDING pitching, which is a stated NEED.  I also now believe that Zambrano, Soriano, Byrd, Baker, DeWitt will all be back with the Cubs, and that would be devastating to this team, as absolutely NONE of them contributed much last year in a positive way, and only Zambrano was a consistent performer prior to last year out of that group. 

    I still believe that going with youth in the system, like the guys I mentioned above in Jackson, Flaherty, etc., signing a few high end free agent starting pitchers, and trading most of the valuable trade assets you have, would be wise. 

    I believe those assets (that you might consider moving anyway…obviously exempting Castro, Cashner) are: Garza, Marshall, Marmol, Byrd (somewhat), Soto, and Zambrano (if they pay most of his salary).

    Imagine this team:

    Betances/Banuelos/Perez (depending which team Garza is traded to)

    Marshall (if he’s not traded)

    Castillo, Clevenger
    LeMahieu, Barney
    Castro, M. Gonzalez
    Vitters, Flaherty
    Kubel, LaHair
    B. Jackson

    ….something to that effect. And with Oswalt, Buehrle, Fielder, Kubel, and DeJesus signing, you wouldn’t be “white flagging” it at all. 

    I just hope they start making some wise trades right now to set-up free agent acquisitions I mentioned above

    • Peter G.

      They would never be able to afford all those free agents, and Buehrle would not come to the Cubs. I think if they went after Fielder, they would have enough room for one more free agent signing. I however like the direction this club is going in.

    • Tony_Hall

      Theo talks up all of his assets.  He paints a picture of all the positives of every player, coach, scout, etc.  We don’t know who he is having trade discussions with, and sure sounds like a guy, who is making sure the other parties, value the players as well.  What good would it do if he said that Dewitt sucks, Marshall is a good LH reliever, Zambrano is a nut job, etc. 

      I am not going to pass judgement, until we see more moves.  To be disappointed in the off-season, after 1 move, is a little premature.  

      Let’s see what the next 2 weeks (Winter meetings and the aftermath) before passing too much judgement.

      • Schwimmer

        I totally agree with your astute comments.  While I have a lot of respect for Aarons’ views…I think he’s way too cynical about THEO’s actions and comments.  It’s way too early to have those worries.

        THEO is a very shrewd Dude.  Unlike HENDRY who constantly “de-valued” players by making derogatory “public” remarks — THEO knows that it is smart to talk every player “up.”  He knows that he needs to establish a basis to use to be able to trade them away.

        THEO has to know the very weaknesses in the players that Aaron mentioned (i.e. DeWitt, Baker, etc.)  After all, the CUBS didn’t win with those guys.  He has to know that they are NOT going to win with them in 2012.

        I agree that there is nothing to get even “mildly” excited about DeJESUS other than the fact that he might have had an off year and will come back stronger in 2012.  And, therefore he’s worth the $5m they are going to pay him.  But he really “superfluous.”

        I say that the WINTER MEETINGS next week and the trades that are made by THEO will tell us all what we need to know about him and the CUBS.

        I think it is funny to hear that the CUBS are interested in PUJOLS (because they are not really).  And, I don’t think this will be the year where teams “over-pay” just to sign a super-star F.A.

        I think ALBERT has a lot of balls and EGO to want to be paid $25m + until he’s 39 or 40.

        Everyone knows that FIELDER is not worth any more than $20m per year.  And, 6 years should be the most you sign him to (as the BREWERS have stated).

        The one comment that Aaron said that I most agree with is:  This is the year to bring up some of the CUBS’ top minor league talent and see what they can do.   That is the NO. #1 thing I will watch for under THEO’s watch.

        • cubtex

          Can you give me an example of Hendry making derogatory comments about players. I don’t think any GM ever talks down their own players.

          • Schwimmer

            Yes…he poorly handled the Bradley situation.  And, went public with a lot of remarks that just did not need to be said.  He was “grand-standing” with CUB fans…and, trying to impress them.

            It was of no help in trying to establish a “future trade” for Bradley by making these public remarks.

            Another example, was Zambrano.
            There was no need to make some of the comments about him.  Zambrano’s behavior said it all.

            Don’t get me wrong:  Bradley and Zambrano behaved very badly.  But for future trading purposes…it is better to keep public remarks very low key. 

            A GM has plenty of opportunity to make comments directly to the player. 

            Check out THEO is the opposite of HENDRY.  He goes out of his way to speak very positively of all players, including ZAMBRANO.

            That makes it much easier when you try to trade them to another team.

          • cubtex

            In all due respect…Theo was not here during the Bradley and Zambrano tirades. I don’t see how any gm could have handled those situations differently.

          • Schwimmer

            My point was not that THEO was here when the Bradley and Zambrano incidents occurred.  Of course, he wasn’t.

            My point was that HENDRY, especially in the case of BRADLEY, went overboard with his public comments. 

            There was no need to do this.  It only made it even harder to get a trade done.  He turned Bradley into even a bigger “pariah” than already was.

            And, I was saying that in contrast…when THEO was asked about ZAMBRANO — he was very kind.  He said, “He’s a talented guy.  And, I want to talk him before I make any decisions.”

            Even RICKETTS opened his big mouth and said that he “didn’t see ZAMBRANO returning as a CUB.”

            You don’t say those things if you want to make it easier to trade   a player.

            That’s my only point.

          • John_CC

            No, but he did space-Manny. Talk about a grade-A egomanical A-hole.

          • John_CC

            I’d have to agree here. Hendry was known as an all-around good guy, he liked his players and was well-like himself. When someone with that reputation speaks poorly of Bradley, for example, it only hurts his cause more.  Other guys are saying “jeez, if Jim can’t find anything redeeming he must be worse than we thought.”

          • Calicub

            I can’t tell you JH#1 has degraded/talked down his players. During his reign, but howw many times did he shoot himself in the foot and overvalue players he had not yet signed?

            How many times did he blow his load and tell the world exactly what his plans and intentions were, allowing the FA in question to blow up theor asking price?

            I get what your saying Aaron but I feel like half an offseason and one signing is too soon for judgement. The comments he made about marshall screamed trade.

          • cubtex

            And Theo has not exactly been talking up Soriano so far this offseason. So that is a contradiction.

          • Tony_Hall

            Here is Theo on Soriano.

            “From afar he still brings a lot to the table,” Epstein said Wednesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He had 26 bombs, and he is still a threat offensively. 

            “Yeah, there are other areas of the game where he hasn’t quite performed up to expectations the last few years. I think it’s the good quality of an organization to look at every player and ask how can we get the most out of this guy. And I look at Alfonso and I think there is still more in there.” 

          • cubtex

            Is that a glowing report? “Yeah,There are other areas of the game where he hasn’t performed up to expectations.” Is that someone talking up a player to maximize his value? I don’t give my ex employees that type of reference if I want them to help them get a job.

          • Tony_Hall

            You can’t sell ice to eskimos (I did once), but everyone knows he has his limitations, and I thought he talked him up as an offensive threat.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Just trying to see how skinny this will go……

          • Ripsnorter1

            SKINNY SKINNY!!

          • Ripsnorter1

            He badmouthed Colvin in 2011. Remember?

      • Spoda17

        Tony, I totally agree as well.  If I were trying to trade a player, why would I say he sucks, and is not in our plans, but I think you [another team] should trade good players for him…

        Not good business sense to sell a crappy product.  One thing I think we are all learning…  Theo and company have a plan, they are implementing their play, and they are not telling us… nor should they.

        We all can agree or disagree about moves, but I am totally confident in the direction so far.

    • Chadaudio

      I know what you’re saying Aaron, but we are really just going to have to have to wait this offseason out and see.  Additionally, I think signing all of those free agents is pretty unrealistic, and it’s too difficult to judge what kind of production our minor league hopefuls will produce.  I think you are a bit optimistic to think that all of those minor league guys can produce what Baker, DeWitt, and Barney do (I realize how depressing that sounds).   It is going to take more then one season to fill all of the holes that are on this Cubs team… so, in the mean time, we probably will see a few people back (probably Baker) that we wish could be upgraded.

    • Anthony

      don’t think I would put Lake in RF

      arguably, the two best OF arms in the system, and solid defenders played in Peoria this past season. If they hit in 2012, they may become discussed prospects.

    • daverj

      Aaron – I think you are going to be disappointed here.  Unless Fielder and Buehrle come way down in their contract demands, they aren’t ending up on the Cubs.  And it would be bad for team long term if the Cubs met their current demands. Giving Fielder $200 mil for 8 years and Buehrle $75 mil for 5 years would be moves that Hendry would make … they’d make us competitive for a division title in 2012 but cripple the team in the future.

      If the Cubs don’t get Fielder and Buerhle, then Oswalt and Kubel only make sense if they are willing to sign reasonable contracts for 1 or 2 years … which is possible.

      It seems the plan here is to do the best in 2012 without sacrificing 2014 and beyond when the younger players will be more ready to contribute.  That’s the time to step in with the big free agent signings.

    • cubtex

      Believe it or not Aaron….I agree with alot you are saying :)

      First of all, I know it is way early……… but then why announce that DeJesus is penciled in as your starting RF?
      If they sign Chris Capuano and trade Matt Garza….no way should they sign Fielder or PuJols or ANY big name free agent. It is basically saying we are in full blown rebuilding mode(which Theo has stated they will never do being a big market team)
      I hope they don’t sign Capuano. He is another Doug Davis. Might as well bring back Rodrigo Lopez and Ramon Ortiz while we are at it. If they trade Garza this offseason….this could be our rotation :)

      • Tony_Hall

        They didn’t sign Capuano, and based on MLBtraderumors, there were only 2 teams interested, neither the Cubs.

        • cubtex

          Sun Times reported yesterday the Cubs were interested. At least they didn’t sign him

          • Tony_Hall

            This is what started the rumor.   A little blip in the middle of an article on Garza.  Not exactly much to go on, and not reported by any one else…just a rumor, based on him being an ex-Brewer.

            From the Sun-Times article that Neil mentioned above.
            “Sources say that search includes a run at left-hander Chris Capuano, a former 18-game winner who rebounded from 2009 Tommy John surgery to go 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA and make 31 starts. He’s a guy manager Dale Sveum and anticipated new pitching coach Chris Bosio know well from Capuano’s five seasons in Milwaukee.”

          • cubtex

            Don’t shoot the messenger

          • Tony_Hall

            I know, but that is this time of year, rumors on rumors, soon become, I can’t believe they are thinking of signing that guy.  

            I hope they are reviewing every single FA available, to see if they can get any value out of them.

          • Source

            More like, “Don’t disagree with me because it hurts my feelings.”

          • cubtex


    • joejoed

      we all gotta keep in mind where these dudes are coming from, the AL East. everything they do is calculated, and they could be propping up players to looks trade-able. they are clearly open to considering EVERYTHING on the table. they can’t do much worse than last year. 

      i honestly think the capuano signing wouldn’t be the worst considering how well cap and sveum know eachother, if they can get him cheap-ish as a 4 or 5 starter. 

      i have a feeling they are positioning themselves for a huge push to go younger, and some of these off-season moves will just be stop gaps for a year or so and then start making moves to fill spaces from within the organization. 

      buerhle ain’t comin here. oswalt’s getting old. keep Garza unless you’re BLOWN AWAY by a package, which you won’t be, because no one’s that desperate, and Garza is a really good #2. 

      p.s. i thought barney’s range was pretty great on those bloops into right field that he consistently snared….

    • Jason Douglas

      yeah…totally…they should just bring up all these awesome prospects, because they will all be just as good as the other prospects (think: Colvin, Tyler) the Cubs have brought up over the years.

      Outside of Castro, Marmol, and Marshall (and I may give you Soto) the Cubs haven’t had any really solid starting-level production from any prospects lately.

      Samardzjia?  Seriously…I wouldn’t trust him with my power tools, let alone a starting pitching spot.   Cashner?  worth a shot, but all promise and no proof at this point.

      LeMahieu, Vitters, Kubel, LaHair, B Jackson…they have all been about as productive at the mlb level as Ronny Cedeno, Matt Murton, Angel Guzman, Sam Fuld, Eric Patterson, Rocky Cherry (great name, tho), Felix Pie (can’t miss!), Sean Gallagher, etc etc

      Dejesus is just fine.  They are going to dump some contracts, and this year the goal is to play hard, try and win more games than you lose, try out some prospects (just don’t bet on them).

      They still only have so much budget to work with.   Next year there is more breathing room, and hopefully a better crop of starting pitchers avail by trade or free agency.

      If they did nothing but field a team of unproven minor leaguers, I would get immediate flashbacks to the huge success of 2006 Cubs prospects, and go watch the NBA and look forward to NFL at the end of the summer.

      The new guy gets an entire off-season before I press my panic button.

      • cubtex

        What do you mean they do not have money this year. Carlos Silva is off the books. John Grabow is off the books. ARAM is off the books. Fuko is off the books. 1/2 of Pena’s salary is off the books which just covered DeJeusus. I am not looking up salaries but that has got to be close 40 mil. Hendry had only 10 mil to spend all of last offseason.

        • Aaron

          I guess I will summarize for you as you’re relatively new to this site….he is one of the originals….

          He hates just about every Cubs prospect…in fact if memory serves me correctly he wasn’t a big fan of Castro either.

          While i am certainly overly skeptical of Cubs management in general…especially the former regime…he takes it to a whole new level with Cubs prospects.

          The point I always tried to make with him is the whole new”lesser evil” thing…

          For instance…Jake Fox over Miles at 3B or Murton over Floyd ….you get the picture. My point has always been and always will be that if you have a guy performing well in the minors for more than a year or so….you cannot find out if he’s a solid MLB player if you don’t at least give him a shot…which the Cubs almost never do, instead opting to sign crappy veterans like Gathright, Miles, Floyd, etc.

          The thing that annoys me most about his complaints of the Cubs farm system is exactly what I just described…PLUS in recent years the system has been rated as having the most future MLB players…not stars but PLAYERS… A few are bound to be solid everyday players merely through law of averages. Furthermore, an additional point I’ve always made is that if the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. The Cubs have tried his way of thinking with horrible results (ie.-signing/trading for veterans)…it’s time to do something different result and that’s why it was so refreshing to hear Epstein say they’d build from within…

          My question to Jason would be: if the Cubs system is so void of MLB talent, then are you saying every scouting service out there is incorrect in saying they do have good prospects?

          I do not believe LeMahieu, Flaherty, M Gonzalez, etc will ever develop into stars but you have to ask yourself whether or not it’s worth it to pay millions to veteran role players or finally take a chance with your own prospects for a fraction of the cost and also take a chance on them to see if they might develop into more than you thought.

          If you look at Wilken’s drafts, historically, they’ve been filled with low ceiling, high floor types that are the polar opposite of the Ryan Harvey/Montanez/Patterson types..they’ve been safer bets to reach MLB while not offering the star potential.

          Personally , I find it extremely difficult to believe that LeMahieu or Flaherty couldn’t at least equal DeWitt orBaker’s production….same for Clevenger or Castillo vs Hill or b Jackson vs Byrd

          • Jason Douglas

            my position with prospects has not changed.  I have no problem with trotting out 1 position player and 1 pitching prospect, every year. If they work out and are lights-out incredible, you keep them.  If they are just good or slightly above average, then you package them, likely in a July trading deadline deal, and use them as assets to fleece a team that doesn’t have as deep pockets as you, to get a young-but-established above-average player/pitcher that is entering their prime and who you can lock up for a few years.  

            My disagreement with you is that you usually want to have 6-7 of these prospects on the roster, and to me that is gambling with way too much uncertainty. 

            Examples of how I would use the farm system, in which the Cubs did execute well in the past:

            Tried Marshall as starter, didn’t work out, gave him another chance as reliever, he was great…so they held on to him.  Good move.

            Brought Castro up, he was solid, they kept him there.  Good move.

            Traded prospects for ARam and DLee when they were entering or just starting their primes of their career, because a low-budget team (Pirates and Marlins, respectively) couldn’t afford them for much longer.  Great move!!  The Cubs are a big market team, and they need to act like it by continuing moves like this. 

            Examples of where they dropped the ball, and held onto prospects so long that they no longer had value:  Murton, Pie, Patterson (either), Cedeno, Soto (should have traded after his sophomore slump), Guzman (should have traded when he finally was healthy and contributing in set-up role), etc…

            The Starlin Castros are few and far between.

            The main difference is you project most of these players to be Starlin Castro…I project them to be Sean Gallagher.   When I am wrong, and they are great, then I am happy to be wrong!   But I don’t get married or “have religion” on prospects that 90%+ of the time will not be a star at the mlb level. 

            Stars win you championships.
            Reed Johnsons bring you mediocrity.

            C’mon Aaron…you know better.

    • RICK

      Just imagine if you were Theo Epstein.

  • Brp921

    It would be interesting to see a list of fifty players in all of baseball that would be better than Castro.

    • Tony_Hall

      Castro is 6th

      Here’s the Top 10

      1. Justin Upton
      2. Andrew McCutchen
      3. Mike Stanton
      4. Buster Posey
      5. Clayton Kershaw
      6. Starlin Castro
      7. Eric Hosmer
      8. Stephen Strasburg
      9. Michael Bumgarner
      10. Brett Lawrie

      • Ripsnorter1

        Tony, I think you are mistaken about the statement.

        BRP921 is speaking about “ALL” of baseball, not the list of “best players under age 25” that Neil posted. 

        • Tony_Hall

          My bad. I didn’t think he could see the article on ESPN Insider

      • Brp921

        Thanks Tony for your effort, but like Rip said, I was thinking of a list from all of baseball. If anyone has the time and inclination to make up a list and post it I think it would be fun to banter it around a bit. Any ideas about where Castro would fall?

  • Tony_Hall

    I think this could be about Soriano.

    From Theo

    “The totality of their contributions can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well — if a guy is going to hit 25-30 home runs but really hurts you in other areas,” he said. “If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we’re going to far exceed expectations because the solo contributions really add up.”

  • Tony_Hall

    Theo also said, he like position flexible players, such as Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney and Bryan LaHair.  Hardly a a sign that he likes the individual players, just that he likes players, who can play more than 1 position.  These are the guys who are postion flexible on the Cubs current roster.

    What team doesn’t?  and every team needs a few of them at a minimum.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is another gauge of the closer market.

    34 year old Heath Bell

    The Marlins have agreed to terms with free agent closer Heath Bell, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark.  The deal is worth $27MM over three years and it contains a vesting option for a fourth year worth $9MM.  The contract is pending Bell passing a physical, which he will take tomorrow in Florida.  Bell is represented by ACES.

    • Schwimmer

      There are many teams that need “closers.”  Please explain why some big market team did not sign BELL?  I don’t get it.

      Is 9m a year for 3 years to much for him?  Was that it?

      • Tony_Hall

        I think it is too much money and too many years for a closer, on the down side of his career, especially one who is 34.

        Another point of view from Keith Law

        The Marlins lost 90 games in 2011; if Heath Bell is their one major offseason addition, they might lose only 89 in 2012.[+] EnlargeAndy Hayt/Getty ImagesIf you build it (and Bell it), will they come?Bell was one of the biggest potential disasters in free agency this year as a reliever who appears to be at the end of his peak period after spending several years benefiting from one of the best pitchers’ parks in baseball. And in Bell’s case, the benefit from the park was even more significant because of his style of pitching: He throws relatively hard, but it’s a straight fastball and he tries to pitch with it in the upper half of the zone. He has a curveball but uses it more to change eye levels, a deception strategy that hasn’t exactly kept hitters from putting the ball in the air against him the last few years. That trick works in Petco with someone like Cameron Maybin covering a ton of ground in center. We don’t know how Boondoggle Stadium is going to play yet, but the Marlins had better hope it’s an extreme pitchers’ park — and had better think about finding a legitimate center fielder as well. Considering the short peaks of most relievers’ careers, and the limited value they can provide working just 60-65 innings a season, giving Bell three years at $9 million per is, at the least, a poor use of taxpayer money.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is a report saying Chris Capuano has the Twins and only the Dodgers as interested teams.

    The Twins are interested in free agent left-hander Chris Capuano, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link).  The Dodgers are the only other club known to be pursuing Capuano, whose desire for a two-year contract was the reason the Mets lost interest in re-signing him.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is a take on the good for baseball if Pujols, pulled a Lebron, and signed with the Cubs.  Maybe, MLB could help pay for his contract…

  • Chuck

    The Minnesota Twins are also looking at Chris Capuano.

  • Tony_Hall

    Chase Headley vs ARam

    This is WAR

    2011 3.6 (we all know most of this was 2nd half)
    2010 -1.0

    2011 2.0
    2010 3.6

    I know we all love the long ball, Kim DeJesus loves the long ball as well, yet still married David.  But what does it take to win.  That is the new philosophy at Clark and Addison. I know we would all love to have guys who hit 35 HR’s, but how many of those guys are out there still.  Their needles have been taken away, and now it takes real power, of which, there are not that many players.

    When the wind blows in, there are not many HR’s.  When the wind blows out, even Barney jacked one out, I believe even Campana could get one to at least the warning track, when the wind blows out.

    We are seeing a different type of player in all of baseball, and I believe it could be happening at Wrigley as well.

    • Ripsnorter1

      You asked, “What does it take to win?”

      The long ball.

      Keith Moreland says, “You can’t win in this league unless you outhomer your opponent.”

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree, but would preferably lineup full of guys who can hit 15-20.

      • Tony_Hall

        Rip – It’s a little wider here.  It is pretty amazing how narrow it gets.  I believe it was last weekend, that Paul was in a discussion, that was 1 letter wide.  I have no idea how they could read it, except if they have the posts forwarded to e-mail.

    • Chadaudio

      Good point Tony, why can’t everyone at this site be a lot more like Kim DeJesus? :)

    • JimBo_C

      Campana would need a 40 MPH wind to get one to the warning track! :-)

      • paulcatanese

        JimBo, quit picking on my little friend.:):):)

    • Anthony

      Nobody can real say when PED’s started to affect the numbers, when they became mainstream, when they peaked, and when they will be totally eliminated.

      The drug of choice up until the 70’s according to some former major leaguers was caffeine/amphetamines.

      In 1980, whether Roids were involved or not, 6 players hit 35 HR’s or more.

      Mike Schmidt

      Schmidt was also a good hitter, classic closed stance pull hitter, Reggie, well, was Reggie and had a nice LHH swing and used his base for power, Oglivie didn’t look like a power guy, but had some real fast hands and bat speed, Gorman looked like a softball player, Armas, was built low to the ground, like a shorter Pujols, and Horner also was built like a softball guy, like a power guy.

      Horner and Oglivie rarely struck out, in 1980, both had contact rates in the high 80’s percent range, meaning more contact made for better results.

      In 2011, 8 players hit 35 or more, and with 4 more teams added versus 1980, some pitching dilution involved can be a factor, but all in all, the number of 35 plus is usually few.

      In 2003, 19 players had 35 plus and many more real close.
      In 2000, 27 players had 35 plus and many more real close

      It was not so much of who had 35 or more, it was really the high number of players who had 25 or more from the mid 90’s and early 2000’s.

      The numbers don’t lie. Either the era(ROID) was the greatest collection of power hitters in the history of baseball or the fact that pretty much everyone did it except a few.

      I am hoping the people in charge of talent acquisition and development these days adjust their thinking more to a game that was played 4 decades ago. Other than solid pitching, winning may be achieved more frequently with defense, situational hitting, fundamentals, baseball players versus a collection of athletes they hope to make a baseball player from them because of one tool(SPEED), and players with———a real talent for the game.

      I must be naive’ after reading the recap above and the term “cycling off before spring training”

      • Tony_Hall

        Aha 1980 and those players…brings me back to my strato days.

        Schmidt, Thomas, Oglivie, and Armas were all on my team…

      • JimBo_C

        Horner had a great swing. He was very quick to get to the ball, had good bat speed and just the right amount of tilt in the swing to hit bombs.

        • Anthony

          that is why I mentioned his contact rate, which was excellent

          • Anthony



            K rate 13.5%, which is low, solid KBB and a HR rate 1 per 17 at bats.

  • Neil
    • AFox

      I’d be ok with Stewart coming off the bench, but he scares the daylights out of me as a starter.  I know he’s still relatively young, but he strikes out A LOT!  I’ll take him for depth and he has good power (when he makes contact), so for those reasons, I would take Stewart over DeWitt in a heartbeat.  But Theo, please find us another starting third basemen!  

    • cubtex

      I think that makes sense for the Cubs too. Stewart has some pop and worse case scenario…you are not giving up alot to get him.

    • John_CC

      While my dislike for Stewart is documented, I would be happy with this, in a heartbeat.  I just don’t see any use for DeWitt. Stewart has not proven much, but, you know…”upside”

  • cubtex

    A little bit about WAR

    When WAR doesn’t work: An awful lot of fixed constants are used in the calculation of this stat, both in the individual run wOBA and FIP calculations and then in the positional, replacement, and league adjustments. Every model relies on assumptions, and WAR is no exception. But that simplicity comes at the price of the ability for the model to predict all the variance we see. Fortunately, a number of sabermetricians on the web have continued to go back and rejigger the constants every year, as more games are played and more data is added, so that the assumptions don’t become outdated. Still, the caveat remains the same: there are a lot of different ways of calculating a player’s worth, and a lot of different ways of choosing which on-field events to include in the model (intentional walks? double plays?) and which to ignore (temperature? wind?).
    In addition, UZR is a useful defensive stat, but it’s far from perfect; it frequently contradicts the findings of Plus/Minus, from John Dewan’s Fielding Bible, which results from a video analysis of every play made by every defensive player, and there’s no easy way to reconcile the contradiction. UZR can show some major fluctuations year to year — Nate McLouth(notes) had a UZR of -13.8 in 2008, then +3.6 in 2009, for example — which resulted in a nearly two-win swing in his defensive WAR. Ultimately, WAR is a terrific shorthand for a player’s worth, but it’s by no means the final word on a player.

    • Tony_Hall

      Is there any stat that gives the whole picture?


      Otherwise we wouldnt have anything to talk about.

    • daverj

      You are 100% right on WAR … it has some holes and assumptions and is far from perfect.  Right now, there are many saber guys working on improving how players are valued and in a few years, the calculation of WAR may look very different.  One current area of research is looking into measuring how hard balls are hit.  Each out is different … an out on a ball that is hit hard is an indication of more hitting skill versus a ball that is hit softly.  When deciding between two players who hit say .265 with 15 HR in 2010, the guy who has a higher percentage of hard hit balls is more likely to improve in 2011.

      That said, WAR is a heck of a lot better indicator of value than batting average, HR, RBI and Steals which have all been shown to be relatively poor indicators of future performance.  Steals is probably the most useless stat of all of those.

      • Anthony

        correct on how hard balls are hit, and we know that is observed closely in-house by organizations during workouts and individual development drills using BP and to a greater extent, underhand short-toss.

        it gives the Club an indication of hand-eye. raw power, swing mechanics, bat speed, and load

        WAR and every other statistical measurement are parts to a puzzle, but not all the parts that determine future success.

        success at the plate starts with consistent hard contact

        that leads to developing a good approach with the talent and open-mindedness to make adjustments on a pitch-by-pitch basis

    • Source
      • cubtex

        thanks source for providing the source

  • Calebsdaddie

    What kills me around here is everyone wants to bitch gripe and complain about what moves are made or not made. We should sign pulojs because he’s the best hitter on the market (despite giving him a long term albatross contact ala soriano). We should give fielder a huge contract because he can hit (despite the fact he might not be able to effectively play the field in 3 years due to his size). Hey lets sign wilson (despite the fact he’s over 30). This isn’t fantasy baseball, you can’t have everyone. The best part is that alot if people want to fall back into the old ways of throwing lots of money at players for the sake of just throwing money away. That’s how the cubs have done business for years and you see where that has gotten us. I for one, am open to new ideas and new approaches. Heck it can’t be any worse then the last hundred years….

    • cubtex

      Ummmmmm. Has Theo ever been part of a team that didn’t spend money?

      • Calebsdaddie

        I’m all for spending money, but spend it wisely. Every team is going to have hits and misses, but the cubs seem to land on misses more often then not. I’m not one for completely dumping the old ways of doing business, but that hasn’t worked out so well, so why not try something else. For as much as theo spent in boston, he had great success with building through both draft picks and low risk/high reward players (big papi being the main one). Have faith or don’t, its up to you. But the bellyaching at every single move sounds like a broken record (not meant as a personal attack but a generalized statement from my brief time here).

        • cubtex

          There has only been one move yet…but are you really excited about Chris Capuano being in the rotation or Ian Stewart at 3rd? Those are the names we have been hearing so far. It is early so we need to say how it plays out. Cub fans are frustrated understandably and I for one want to see a good product on the field. Last year was probably the worst team and most frustrated i have been in my years being a fan. So you might understand if I am a little pessimistic.

          • Calebsdaddie

            Believe me I can relate having been a cubs fan for 30 years here. I wouldn’t have a problem with stewart at third if he comes in with something to prove (its a huge if). But it would be better then watch a ram loaf and take half the season off while making 14 million more a year. As for capuano, if its a low risk high reward I’m for it. I would rather spend 10 million over two season for 31 year old of who has been relatively consistant then 30 million for an of who only produced in his contract year.

            Personally I want lasting long term longevity in a very winnable division instead of a one year wonder. Say what you will about the red sox but over the past 5 years, september baseball has meant something…..

  • Neil

    From the Denver Post: Long story, short: Stewart obviously available, but DeWitt not a fit in talks. UPDATED Rockies’ news and notes posted shortly

    • Chadaudio

      I understand that the question I ask is subjective but, is Stewart even much of an upgrade defensively at third over DeWitt?  DeWitt is horrible – is Stewart even considered average at 3B?

      • cubtex

        Believe it or not…DeWitt is a better defensive player at 3rd than Stewart.

        • Chadaudio

          REALLY??  How is that possible?  Ugg.  If that is the case, then I don’t want Stewart at all.  I’d rather just see the DeWitt/Baker 3B platoon then.

  • Neil

    According to the Denver Post, Rockies would prefer Colvin for Stewart … and not DeWitt

    • cubtex

      that would be a fair trade. 2 players who have struggled mightily and both former 1st round picks.

    • Anthony

      If they made that deal for Colvin(makes sense in high-altitude), and Jackson makes it to Wrigley out of ST, it creates the space needed from AAA on down for the remaining OF prospects and initial assignments.

    • Chadaudio

      Just saw the tweet about Capuano signing to an unknown team.  Please don’t be the Cubs… PLEASE.

      • cubtex

        I think we got our wish! I heard it is the Dodgers.

        • Chadaudio

          Phew… that was close.

  • Neil

    From Jim Bowden; Dodgers and Capuano closing on 2-year 10m dollar deal that could signal the end to Kuroda’s days in LA

    • Neil

      Jon Heyman has confirmed, Capuano is a Dodger and it appears to be 2 years and $10 million

    • Chadaudio

      Why would anyone want Capuano instead of Kuroda?  That’s crazy.

  • cc002600

    Rockies don’t want DeWitt ??

    Gee, who would have guessed ?

    • cubtex

      DeWitt is actually a better reserve player than Colvin….so I would rather give them Colvin than DeWitt

      • Aaron

        While Colvin was more useless than DeWitt last year, he still has more usefulness in him by far with more power and potential. Like I said….FAR more useless LAST year, but in general he is a better overall player.

        Be careful what you wish for…if DeWitt is on this team then LeMahieu, M Gonzalez, Flaherty and others won’t be. As for Colvin he is about the only MLB-ready OF we have so he fills the back-up role just fine as expectations drop for a back-up. Plus, Colvin earns less too

        It might seem impossible but DeWitt actually looked worse at the plate than Colvin did last year

        • cubtex

          DeWitt is a reserve player. Who would you rather see up at bat when all you need is a ground ball to bring in a run….DeWitt or Colvin? Colvin is awful to have as a reserve. His K rate is brutal. Potential?? Sure no question Colvin but to me Colvin doesn’t get it and never will, He pulls off every pitch swinging from his heels. He NEVER shortens his swing and is ALL or Nothing….and mostly nothing

          • cc002600

            last year, yes. But not 2010.

            He hit 20 HR’s in a part time role as a rookie, against many lefties.

            Dewitt is a useless player that you could find ANYWHERE.

          • Aaron

            I cannot argue with that at all…he’s brutal at the plate as I mentioned….but so is DeWitt.

            Let me pose a question for you though and perhaps you would change ur mind….who would you rather have in the OF? The reason i ask is DeWitt woul be ur back-up as it would stand with a Colvin trade.

            He would not be your starting 3B or 2B…and possibly not even second option at either spot. That role would go to Baker and possibly LeMahieu if he sticks…plus DeWitt is a butcher at both spots in the field including OF.

          • cubtex

            I agree. I wouldn’t really miss either player if they were traded. I just threw out there that if I HAD to keep one as a reserve player. DeWitt is a more valuable reserve player than Colvin. He plays more positions(granted not any of them very well) makes more contact and got to be a pretty decent pinch hitter later in the year.

          • cc002600

            Totally disagree.  You already have a right handed version of Dewitt in Baker. You could find a thousand of those type of players for nothing any day of week. You could scour every AAA roster in baseball  and find tons of guys like that. Which means they have ZERO value.

            At least Colvin still has potential to be a decent player. He put some pretty good numbers as a rookie.  We can’t forget that. I know he was horrendous last year, but maybe that was an aberration. Who knows.

          • Brp921

            The way Colvin was used had a lot to do with putting him into a slump he never recovered from.

          • Anthony

            are you saying this kid can’t get it thru his head that when 0-2, 1-2 in the count you go into survival mode, hit it where its pitched?

          • cubtex

            Yes. He doesn’t do it. Check your video. I can’t believe what I saw all last year.

      • cc002600

        Dewitt couldn’t catch a cold – he is HORRIBLE defensively.  Not good for a guy who is supposed to be an “utility” infielder.

        He is a dime a dozen player worth zero value that you could find anywhere.  At least Colvin has some potential, although he had terrible year.

        • cubtex

          Not arguing his defensive abilities…but be careful what you wish for. Stewart is worse than DeWitt at 3rd.

          • cc002600

            Honestly, I don’t know much about Stewart, but if he is really worse than Dewitt defensively, he should be in AA, and it would be stupid to try and acquire him.

            Any infielder that is horrible defensively will kill you.  Can’t have it.

          • Anthony

            well, with so many minor leaguers who are already defensive capable, why do they get held back versus ML players who are called awful defensively? Maybe because they can hit better?

  • cubtex

    Well if the Capuano signing signals the end of Hiroki Kuroda’s days in LA….I hope Theo is kicking the tires to see if he would have any interest in Chicago. There is a pretty big asian population in Chicago and if they can get him on a 1 year….maybe 2 year deal max…he would be a nice addition.

    • Aaron

      Supposedly just like last offseason it was LA or bust…well back to Japan for him and i suspect it’s the same this year

      • cubtex

        I know I heard that but it is worth making a call.

  • Anthony

    spent a few minutes looking at some Colvin video, and the power is real, and some of the HR’s off LHP were nice. Will be interesting where he fits, or ends up, and with who.

    • cubtex

      I’m sure you didn’t find any opposite field bombs did you Anthony? :)

      • Anthony


        just viewed them as a reminder that most ML players aren’t as bad as chatted about on the internet, especially when objectivety is clouded by emotion.

    • Aaron

      well…if you ask me,the following guys don’t fit Epstein’s ideal hitter prototype because they all are hackers, don’t see many pitches and have low OBPs:

      …the problem is…neither does Castro but he has a high contact rate…the only other guy on the team worth keeping is Soto because he takes pitches…aside from them I guess you keep Pena or LaHair for the same reason….and in that case I keep LaHair

      DeJesus is a step in the right direction for the”Theo-ball” philosophy but as I said yesterday he is a back-up at this stage in his career. The Cubs need guys like Fielder, Pujols, etc that make good contact and draw walks…not the DeWitt and Colvin types.

      That is why guys like Brett Jackson, Flaherty, etc coming up through the system are so valuable…because they have the complete package…and guys like Wright, Vitters, Cerda, and Clevenger also might be valued more than the previous regime because of their propensity to make contact and not strikeout that much

  • Anthony

    however the roster shakes out after Hot Stove season, it is a transitional season forthcoming for the organization

    as I mentioned on other threads, I am more excited for the development of the 2011 Draft class in a full-season format

    there should be many ML contributors coming from that class league-wide, it was very deep and talented, and the new CBA rules came at the right time, after the 2011 Draft, as its depth caused quality talent to be taken in rounds that most would consider “filler” players.

    After following college baseball in depth the past 5-6 years as well as amateur baseball more than pro, the “experts” may have gotten it right with this class tagging.

    We will see how Theo and Co. treat the Farm soon enough, especially the new guys.

    As for high-end FA talent for 2012, If Garza is kept, then go get one more starter via FA or Trade. Of the two sluggers available, both at the easiest field position(1B), I would lay off Pujols. The rules say “no BB cream” allowed anymore. If you go after Fielder with the thought of him manning 1B for at least 5 seasons, then you have to deal with any 1B prospects in your system that are older than 21, because you sent the message that the position at the ML level is filled! Now, who from that group has trade value? Can any of them blossom into trade value?

    As far as Castro is concerned, you can bet that every scout worldwide is searching for the next Omar V, every year. When they think they found one, then the bat rules first. Castro being so young, he deserves the chance to play his way to retaining SS given the offensive production that is a bonus for the position.

    Soriano. 18 million per season for his offensive contributions

    Which is worse. Sending him on his merry way and paying for a ghost player, PLUS the cost of the ones acquired in the Trade, less the amount you convince the recipient team to absorb, or

    Keeping him, hope he contributes at the expense of age, declining field play, and blocking a defensive position.

    Being an internet GM can be fun, being an internet Advanced Scout can be fun, unfortunately we don’t get paid to have fun BS’ing about baseball.

    • Tony_Hall

      As soon as we have someone who can out perform Soriano, using all factors, that costs league minimum, from our system, we send him packing.  Production is king, and if he can be replaced with minimal cost, do it. 

      As far as not getting paid to BS about baseball, this is entertainment.  Most of us enjoy discussing our favorite baseball team, and this is a great forum for stating our opinions.  

  • Tom U

    Ian Stewart rates better defensively at third, with better power than DeWitt. However, he hits for lower average and strikes out more often.

    DeWitt is more versatile, and is a better overall defender than Stewart. DeWitt is also younger.

    However, Stewart is a player you wouldn’t mind cutting once a player from the minors is ready. Because of his versatility, you might have a harder time doing that with DeWitt.

    • cubtex

      The Colorado reports were all reporting on how DeWitt would be an upgrade defensively over Stewart.

      • Jmill76

        is that possible ?
        Dewitt is so bad defensively, he makes Soriano look like a gold glover.