All Rumors Lead to Dallas and the Winter Meetings

The final countdown to Baseball’s Winter Meetings has begun and most of the experts think there is going to be a lot of activity in Dallas … with the Cubs right in the middle of the action. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have many holes to fill in order to field a team for next season. The Cubs are reportedly looking to add starting pitching and a left-handed bat.

Jed Hoyer said earlier in the week they have been talking to numerous teams and agents over the last few weeks leading up to baseball’s annual gathering. The next several days could end up being quite interesting.

One of the positions the Cubs are looking to fill is third base. With Aramis Ramirez out of the picture, Jed Hoyer has talked to the Rockies about a possible swap. Rumors surfaced Friday that the Cubs and Colorado have discussed a Blake DeWitt for Ian Stewart deal but the Rockies would prefer Tyler Colvin or a minor league pitcher.

Chris Bosio has officially replaced Mark Riggins as the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs. Bosio spoke to his local newspaper on Friday and broke the news … the Cubs confirmed the report not to long after the news hit the wire.

Dale Sveum is expected to announce his coaching staff next week and the hold-up appears to be Craig Counsell … as mentioned on Friday. According to the Tribune, Sveum is hoping to hire Counsell as a coach but Counsell is not sure if he’s ready to quit playing and become a coach. The Tribune reported a scenario in which the Cubs would sign Craig Counsell as a bench player and he would eventually move into a coaching role.

Ron Santo has been in the headlines of late due to his possible election to the Hall of Fame on Monday. Santo is expected to be voted in and it is too bad. Santo deserved to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame years ago and he should have been able to receive the call that he waited for.

Today marks the one year anniversary of his passing and I think it is fair to say that Ronnie is smiling about all of the changes with his beloved Cubs while thinking next season will be THE year.

Here’s the update …

Ian Stewart
Friday began with rumors that suggested the Cubs were talking to the Rockies about a trade that would send Blake DeWitt to Colorado for Ian Stewart … the Cubs interest in Stewart has been in the mill over the last few weeks.

The Denver Post reported that the Rockies still think highly enough of Ian Stewart that they would want more in return than Blake DeWitt. The Cubs have interest in Stewart and have made DeWitt available but Colorado would prefer Tyler Colvin instead … or a minor league pitching prospect.

Reports have suggested that the Rockies would non-tender Stewart but according to the Denver Post, Stewart’s agent has been told that Colorado is planning to tender Stewart a contract for 2012 … the deadline to tender players contracts with three-six years of service time is December 12.

The DeWitt for Stewart talks have quieted but could pick up again at the Winter Meetings.

Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod Compensation
The Cubs are expected to settle two compensation issues after the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday … the long-drawn out compensation to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein and what is expected to be a lower-level minor leaguer to San Diego for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.

Ben Cherington addressed Boston’s side on Friday and said, “It’s like cleaning the garage. You know it’s out there and you’ve got to do it, but you’re going to do everything else first.”

Cherington told WEEI’s Alex Speier that he does not think Major League Baseball will have to get involved.

News, Notes and Rumors

  • According to Jim Bowden (MLB Radio Network/XM Radio), the Cubs continue to pursue Mark Buehrle … along with the Nationals, Marlins and 11 other teams.
  • One of the starting pitchers the Cubs were looking at to give the big league club a little depth in the rotation signed with the Dodgers on Friday. The Cubs were interested in signing Chris Capuano but were outbid by the Dodgers … who gave the veteran southpaw a two-year, $10 million deal that also includes an incentive package worth $1 million. After a bounce back season with the Mets, Capuano had several teams interested in signing him outside of the Dodgers and Cubs … the Twins and Pirates are the two other known teams.
  • The Cardinals hired former a former Cub to be their assistant hitting coach … John Mabry will assist Mark McGwire on his best friend’s staff.
  • According to Bruce Levine, four teams are interested in signing Aramis Ramirez … and three have submitted offers. The Angels and Brewers are seen as the early favorites to sign Ramirez. And according to Jim Bowden, the Brewers view Ramirez as a back-up plan to replace Prince Fielder’s numbers if he signs elsewhere.
  • According to Comcast SportsNet, Theo Epstein plans to build his own empire with the Cubs.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is on the radar of several teams and according to Jerry Crasnick, the soon-to-be free agent could command a contract near the $50 million mark. Crasnick provided an excellent report on the highly touted outfielder that some scouts have compared to Raul Mondesi.

Ernie Paicopolos from Fenway Nation emailed the CCO about his side blog and asked us to pass along to our readers. His new blog is based on Theo Epstein’s move to the Cubs … Boston Theo Watch.

Well, that’s the update … and I’m sticking to it!

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

Quote of the Day

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  • MikeT_2008

    Hard to believe it has already been one year. I can honestly say that I broke down and cried right before going to class. Rest in Peace #10

    • Brp921

      It’s to bad the old third baseman couldn’t have lived a little longer. He would have been more excited than usual this season. I second the R.I.P.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree, it would have been nice for him to see, bitter sweet for the family. But it will get done, this year.

    • cubtex

      I played ball with one of Ronnies sons as a kid growing up in the suburbs. He was always willing to help and so passionate about baseball. He wanted the Hall so bad and it will be so unfortunate that he will not be here to enjoy it. With what he went through with his diabetes and be able to compete at the level he did was truly remarkable. I hope he gets elected and be enshrined in a place where his story can be told to countless generations.

  • Tony_Hall

    It is hard to believe it has been 1 year. 

    When the Hall of Fame, finally opens it’s doors to Ronnie, it will be a shame, that they waited until after his passing, to honor him.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is another view of the DeJesus signing.

    I have always stated, how difficult it is to Buy Low/Sell High.  It requires you to do just that.  This was a buy low move.  Trading a player who everyone likes and has been playing well, is an example of Sell High.  It’s not easy, and that is why so many GM’s don’t do it, and end up Buying High/Selling Low.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/welcome-to-the-north-side-mr.-dejesus/A few exerpts:

    “Using last year’s market win value, they are essentially paying for a +1.0 WAR player each of the next two years (three, if they exercise his option). As identified in our 2012 Cubs offseason article, this is an excellent buy-low move.”

    “However, contrary to that gut reaction, it is an extremely team-friendly deal in more ways than one. It not only is an expected surplus-value-providing contract, but, as will be explained below, it is also one that empowers the Cubs with extra payroll/positional flexibility to move Alfonso Soriano.”

    “However, even with such a poor batting line, DeJesus was still worth +2.2 WAR last season. Thanks to strong outfield defense (career +6 UZR/150 defender in the corners) and above-average base running (as measured by UBR) abilities (this despite being a career 51-for-97 base stealer), DeJesus is still an above-average major league player when his bat disappoints and he only plays 130 of his team’s 162 games. ”

    “Accord to the world according to xBABIP, DeJesus was pretty unlucky with his balls in play in 2011.”

    • cubtex

      OK…………It would be better though if they were buying low on a better ballplayer. He still does not hit with enough production to be a starting rightfielder. That is the reason why people are not thrilled with this. He will be a downgrade from Fuko as a leadoff hitter. He doesn’t have as high an OBP or Fuko’s arm.

      • Tony_Hall

        Career OBP/SLG/OPS
        Fukudome 361/399/760
        DeJesus 356/421/776

        DeJesus is only 5 pts behind Fukudome in OBP or about 3 more time being on base a year.  DeJesus has   a higher SLG and OPS.  He is not a down grade from Fukudome, except in his arm, and as the article showed, his SLG should go up at Wrigley.    

        I will agree on the arm though.

        And let’s see how many games he plays in RF versus LF.  I just don’t believe Soriano will be around much longer, I’ve been told there’s quite a market for him :)

        • cubtex

          Obviously you are happier with DeJesus as a leadoff hitter than I am. I would have preferred someone else….but I am sure you already knew that. lol

          • Tony_Hall

            I could list many players I would rather have than DeJesus, but every player comes with a cost, either in prospects or dollars, or in both.  His cost is reasonable enough.  I also like that it is only 2 years.  Marlon Byrd would have been ok, for 2 years, as we would have traded him last year at the trade deadline, it’s that 3rd guaranteed year, that changes his deal, completely, and the 3rd year being a team option, that makes DeJesus’s deal a good one.

            Also, will Brett Jackson, bat leadoff when he comes up, or shortly after he comes up, as they will ease him in at the beginning. If so, DeJesus will move to 2nd or the lower half of the lineup.

          • paulcatanese

            With Q gone, Jackson has a better than average chance to compete for the leadoff spot.

          • Tony_Hall

            Absolutely! With Q gone, common sense will come back into play.

          • Schwimmer

            I agree.  I think DeJesus is a disappointing choice for a leadoff man.

            He doesn’t bat for high enough average.  And, he doesn’t have much speed.  The best you can say is that “hopefully” he had an off year and is more likely come back this year and bat .290+

            But I sure wouldn’t be “high-fiving” each other that the CUBS got a great lead off guy.

            Call me crazy…but why isn’t CASTRO considered to be a good lead-off man?

          • mutantbeast

            doesnt walk. Best career numbers come hitting 2nd. Strikeouts also went way up in the 2nd half. His power is also starting to develop. Not that he cant leadoff, I just beleive hes better 2nd.

          • Tony_Hall

            Castro is needed in the 2 hole or 3 hole.

            Read the article I gave the link to and it explains how DeJesus had a low BABIP and the park factors for him last year.

          • paulcatanese

            Correct Tony, in reality Castro needs to go to the three spot, just not enough bat control to bat second, and wouldnt want to see him bunt someone over. Too big a bat to give up there.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            If DeJesus is batting in the top 5 in the order it’s a bad sign.  He should bat 7 or 8 hole. 

          • Tony_Hall

            Give him a chance, the more I look, the more I believe he had a down year for BABIP, played in a park that hurt his production, and was hurt last year.  If he is more like the rest of his career he will be a nice addition to the team.

  • Ripsnorter1

    How about trading for Casey McGehee instead of Stewart?

    It might not be possible since they are in the same division, but McGehee will have a bounce back year this year.

    In 2011, McGehee hit a mere .169 vs. LHP. Incredible! Career-wise, he hits LHP and RHP about the same: .261 vs .266.

    In 2011, when he had 104 RBI, he hit .274 vs RHP, .316 vs. LHP.

    His glove is the MLB average for a 3B. 
    HEY! That’s an improvement over Aram!

    What amazes me is that the Brewers want Aram’s glove at 3B.But then again, they never worried much about the fielding…..

    • Tony_Hall

      I was just reading an article, before I closed out my web browser accidently, that talked about Vitters as the 3B, and that any 3B, they acquire will be to just hold the spot until he is ready, later in 2012, or 2013.  McGehee would would be another Buy Low candidate, but I just don’t see Milwaukee letting us take a player.

      • cubtex

        I know Fleita mentioned that Vitters will be back at 3rd with the priority being working on his defense. I really want this kid to succeed. I would even be willing to give DeRosa a minor league invite if noone guarantees him a major league job. If healthy, he could hold down the fort for a year until Vitters is ready.

        • John_CC

          There has to be better options than DeRosa…or not, wow, I just went through the available 3B FAs.  What happened to Kouzmanoff?  He really fell off, but I’d rather give him a year than DeRosa, he’s just so old.

          • cubtex

            I agree John…I am just saying to have more options. Invite him to spring training on an invite. If we are talking Stewart, have them compete against each other. I would not promise the job to DeRosa but have him compete. I would be more comfortable to have more than 1 option with names like Stewart etc.

          • John_CC

            Even if they acquire Stewart somehow, there is no way that he would be handed the starting job. There will certainly be contingency plans.

            But what do think about Kouzmanoff?  Anyone?

          • cubtex

            Kouz,Eric Chavez,DeRosa. These guys are only 1 year options until Vitters is ready.

        • Chadaudio

          Since the 3B market is so thin this year, DeRosa should expect more then a minor league invite.
          It sounds like multiple teams were already interested:
          http://mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/blog/mlbbuzz/derosa_looking_for_opportunity/8472313

          I loved the old Cubs DeRosa (I’m sure we all did) but hitters are almost never the same after wrist injuries.
          What intrigues me is the idea of reuniting him with Rudy.  DeRo often stated that Rudy saved his career… that coupled with his other success at wrigley could be worth a look at a one year, really cheap contract… but even then… I don’t know.

    • BosephHeyden

      The more and more I think about moves like letting McGehee go and not having a real three-bagger ready to take his place as a backup, the more and more I’m convinced that “Jim Hendry” should be a curse word for the Cubs.

    • paulcatanese

      The Brewers are welcome to have him for his glove, especially that we play them a number of times.
      And Aram will have no excuse with the weather as they play in an enclosed park.Plus he will be totaly out of his mind not batting third in the order.

    • paulcatanese

      You are corrrect Rip, after watching the Brewers last season, I cannot believe the Cubs finished below them on defense.

  • Tony_Hall

    This just shows you that other teams, can come up with crazy deals where they land the player they want, Garza.  

    “Abraham goes on to mention two prospects that he could see potentially involved in the deal and they are Anthony Ranaudo and Kolbrin Vitek.  This would make sense for the Red Sox.  They aren’t giving up any of the top end, soon to be major leaguers in Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesiasor Ryan Lavarnway, so a return of Garza would definetly be worth it.”  

    Of course they also say the Cubs are weak at these positions.  

    “As an organization, the depth is weak at the catching, first base, third base, and starting pitching positions.”  I have always thought and heard we were deep at catcher and pitching, when reading from outsiders.  But, 1B and 3B, I feel we have depth now, just not immediate to help the big league club.  3B, I feel is very deep, with many of our SS, projected to move to 3B (Lake, Baez, Castro), plus with Vitters already there.

    http://bosoxinjection.com/2011/11/28/should-the-red-sox-try-acquire-matt-garza/

    • cubtex

      The only way I trade Garza is to get back at least 2 top starting pitching prospects. Otherwise…it doesn’t make sense. 

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree, I would give Garza a contract, to buy out arbitration in 2012 and 2013, and cover 2014, and try to get team options for 2015, 2016.  

        If he doesn’t sign the contract, then I would look to trade him…

        • cubtex

          I go along with that.

          • Tony_Hall

            We actually agree on a plan for Garza!

            That should be a headline in itself :)

          • paulcatanese

            You and Cubtex, it is a headline, the agreement is the right move and I third it, Garza needs to stay.

    • Anthony

      Cubs don’t need 3B prospects not ML ready, especially when the one mentioned has a bat that profiles as a 2B and as tex says below, they already have many SS that may be moved to 3B in the future

      keep Garza and purchase another starter

      • Tony_Hall

        Actually I said that we have many SS that may be moved to 3B

        • cubtex

          OK Tony….we will give you credit for that :)

          • paulcatanese

            Gee guys (Tony and Cubtex),even
            ESPN has stated that Castro will end up at third, how about tommorow?

  • cubtex

    Rockies are supposedly pursuing Kuroda. Cmon Theo! I would imagine Kuroda would prefer Chicago ahead of Denver if he still wants to pitch in the States.

    • cubtex

      He made 11 mil last year so now that I am thinking about it…..they should probably take a pass on Kuroda. He will probably want to go to a contender as well.

      • Tony_Hall

        I am assuming that the Dodgers will try to trade him, which means giving up prospects, and he is 2nd year arbitration, which means, his cost will stay very high, and he will be 37 next year.  

        I’m not sure how they are going to trade him with all of that,  and if they release him, he may be affordable enough to add.  As always, time will tell.

        • cubtex

          he is a free agent Tony.

          • Tony_Hall

            OK – I was looking at his Baseball reference page and it showed FA in 2014, 2nd year arb this year.

            On the right 1 or 2 year contract, he could work.

          • cubtex

            He had the 9th lowest ERA in the NL so the reason I backed off is because I think he will be pricey and want to go to a contender based on his age.

    • mutantbeast

      Kuroda has said its either the West Coast or Japan.

  • John_CC

    The Brewers are looking for Aramis to replace Fielder’s numbers! HA! Good luck with that. They should know better, having faced the Cubs so many times.

    I just cannot see Aramis on that team, hitting behind – “protecting” – Braun. Do you think he’ll learn the “beast mode” move?  HA! Can you see Aramis doing the “beast” thing!

    I’d love to see the Cubs replace Aramis’ numbers with Prince and vice versa, see how that works out.

    I do actually think the Cubs will make a serious run for Prince. Theo talks about the long term/short term balance, I think it makes sense. I just have a feeling that Cubs will be very competitive in 2 years.

    • Tony_Hall

      The more I hear 5 and 6 years being offered for Fielder, the more I like the idea of him.  If that number rolls over to 7, and it’s not a team option, then that’s too long.  And the more I hear it around $20M versus, oh any number above that already ridiculous number, I have hard time with that.  

      I think the Cubs can be competitive this year, very competitive in 2013, but definitely by 2014.

      • John_CC

        Didn’t the Brewers offer 5 at 20M$?  I don’t know, it will interesting to when and where he goes.

        I also think the Cubs will be competitive this year, but really solid by 2013.

        • Tony_Hall

          That’s what it sounds like, not sure how they can fit that into their budget though.  

        • mutantbeast

          the brew crew has said they would go to 6/120 for Fielder, but not beyond that. Dont forget, his agent is Boras, and Boras is the greediest agent in the sport. Funny how is clients always go where the biggest $ number is.

  • Demitri

    I believe that Josh Vitters is the answer at third for the future if he plays good in AAA. This is actually a very crucial moment for Vitters. If he comes back hot at spring training and a good 3 months at AAA, he becomes our 3B

    • Anthony

      They will never know unless they put him(Vitters) out there. They have $$ invested as well as 5 years of development.

      Also took a look at Flaherty, and his best defensive stats were at 2B in his minor league career, but man, that is a big kid for that position, but a bonus bat for that positional profile. he could be a .275/20 HR guy, age 25, and can also play a few positions.

      I think he is the only position player Rule 5 that someone may take, and if not taken, may be on the Theo Comp list. This former 1st rounder, who will turn 26 in summer 2012 is about as ready as a 1st rounder gets.

      • Tony_Hall

        I keep hoping Vitters has a ST like Colvin and Castro have had, that makes you say, this guy is ready, same with Brett Jackson.

        Also, you always talk about players being given, preferential treatment, based on draft status/dollar commitment, Flaherty sure seems to buck that theory, as he has good numbers, was a 1st rounder, and doesn’t seem to get the props, that others do.

        • Calebsdaddie

          I just don’t see jackson making it out of spring training on the major league roster. He will get steady playing time at triple a and should be called up after june giving the cubs an extra year of control.

          • Tony_Hall

            Most likely, but if they have a team or teams interested in Byrd, and Jackson shows he is ready, they may pull the trigger sooner rather than later.

        • Anthony

          Wouldn’t you agree that splitting AA/AAA for a 2008 college player is a pretty quick advancement? Discounting SS in 08, he spent all of 2009 in Peoria splitting time between SS and 2B. Now think about this. At the same time, the Cubs were grooming a foreign born player for SS(Castro).

          Why would the Org spend an entire season of defensive development with no intent of him ever being the SS, as well as 2B?

          In 2010, Flaherty made his way to TENN via Daytona splitting time at 2B and 3B.

          In 2011, they had him at 3B, 2B, 1B, and the outfield. He has a corner type bat and body type, and yes, preference was given because he is 1st rounder, a good hitter, good defender, and a player that they can’t find a position for permanently to master.

          This defensive uncertainty(position) probably set him back a season or so. So where do play him? Once a SS, plays solid 2B for a big guy who can play 3B if given the reps, or LF.

          If Flaherty isn’t picked Rule 5, isn’t on the 25 man for the Cubs, is still in the Org in 2012(not traded or comped), then they need to pick a position, send him to Iowa, and get him ready for a call up.

          • Anthony

            by the way, put yourself in the kids shoes, and ask yourself if you want to be chosen in the Rule 5?

            before you answer, keep in mind 3B on the big club is essentially up for grabs at the moment as the blocker left town!

          • Tony_Hall

            I hope he is not picked, and doubt he will be (position players are very rare to be picked and not offered back during the year).

          • Tony_Hall

            I have like what I have seen of Flaherty, and didn’t comment on the how fast, just on how he isn’t given the props the other guys get.  He is never mentioned as a starter, and I am sure his lack of a set position is the reason.  We have drafted a lot of SS, as we have talked, most players start there and work their way to other positions, as they fill out and develop.

          • Joey U

            The Cubs think so much Flaherty they left him off the 40 man roster and are exposing him to the rule 5.

      • mutantbeast

        Im wondering if Flaherty is big for his position, have they considered him as a 1st baseman?

        • Tom U

          Only four starts at first in his career

      • paulcatanese

        First rounders hang around in the system like a wife, a person may want a divorce but theres too much money invested, might as well hang on to her, it may turn around.

        • Tno13

          Paul  You should write for Hallmark. You’ve got a gift.

  • Spoda17

    It always amazes me on how the so called experts have totally different opinions about players skills.  I was watching MLB TV Clubhouse Confidential last night, and they were going through the top ten free agents, and Aram was #9 I think… well, he was described as a good offensive player with good numbers and SOLID defense… yikes, solid defense…

    • paulcatanese

      Also saw that, wanted to throw up, got a great laugh instead.

    • Tony_Hall

      It can be quite hilarious listening to the national experts. I would say most of us on here know more about the Cubs players, than the national guys, who follow all the games, but don’t necessarily watch all the games.

  • Anonymous47701

    Would a Trade for Wandy Rodriguez make sense?

    • mutantbeast

      No. Wandys career record at Wrigley is somewhat less than sparkling. Hes done much better at MinuteMaid, with its fairly large power alleys.

  • BD

    Have the Cubs had any connection to Oswalt this offseason? He had an injury plagued 2011 but might still have something left in the tank. He’s contemplated retirement before and might be able to be had on a one year deal. What would it take to get him and do u think it would be worth it?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      No they have not. With his back issues, he is a 20-25 game a year starter not what the Cubs need right now.

  • Tony_Hall

    Good article looking at what all the new GM’s will be doing next week.

    It is an ESPN Insider article, so here it the part on the Cubs.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/the-gms-office/post?id=2618

    Jed Hoyer, Chicago CubsQuick profile: Hoyer is a measured and polished individual. Like Dipoto and Cherington, it will be his first winter meetings as a GM. Hoyer firmly believes improving the big league club is a completely separate issue than rebuilding the farm system. He certainly has autonomy as a GM, but the Cubs’ new president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, will be hovering closely. Possible moves: Hoyer and Epstein keep moves close to the vest, but they have talked to the agents for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, as well as Mark Buehrle. Shortstop Starlin Castro might be the only untouchable. They don’t want to deal Matt Garza, Carlos Marmolor Sean Marshall, but they will listen to teams. And just because they are “rebuilding,” do not think they won’t sign a big free-agent. It could be a very busy winter meetings for the new Cubs contingent.

  • Tony_Hall

    A good update on the free agent market.

    http://mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/blog/mlbbuzz/

    Kuroda is open to more teams.

  • jw

    God bless you Ron Santo and family. You made it so much fun to watch the Cubs back in the day and you were a hall of famer to me.