Winter Meetings Day Two: Cubs Keep Everyone Guessing

Day two at the Winter Meetings in Dallas turned out to be ‘The Pujols Watch‘. With the free-agent slugger on the market, if Albert Pujols were to sign with a team other than the Cardinals, it would have a ripple effect throughout baseball.

The Marlins, Cardinals and Angels are rumored to be the three teams that have offered the decade long contract to Pujols … and while the Cubs likely made an offer, the length of the deal is reportedly not in the ten-year range.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer addressed the source of the rumors floating around the lobby in Dallas. The Cubs’ brass does not mind that some news comes out through agent sources and other team’s confidents. Epstein said, “I don’t mind when that stuff’s out there, because maybe it hides the ball a little bit from what we are really doing. I encourage that type of circus atmosphere in the lobby … it’s good to be a little unpredictable.” To no surprise, Hoyer has a similar stance. Hoyer added, “I think it makes the fan base know we are working hard when we are attached to a lot of teams and players. At least they know we are trying to make the team better.”

The Cubs are hoping to announce Dale Sveum’s coaching staff this week. From all indications all but one spot is filled, first base coach. The Cubs have been waiting on Craig Counsell to decide if he wants to continue his playing career or not. According to multiple reports, Sveum has reached out to former Cardinals’ coach Dave McKay to fill the opening.

Jamie Quirk (bench coach), Rudy Jaramillo (hitting coach), Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Pat Listach (third base coach) and Lester Strode (bullpen coach) appear to be in place for Dale Sveum in 2012 … there has not been any indication that the Cubs would be hiring an assistant hitting coach.

Wednesday is the deadline for free agents to accept or decline salary arbitration from their former team … both Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena are expected to decline.

The other two dates to keep an eye on are the Rule 5 draft on Thursday and the tender deadline on Monday.

Here is the update from day two of the Winter Meetings …

Pitching, Pitching and Pitching
Dale Sveum told the assembled media on Tuesday that he believes the Cubs can win with the pitching they currently have on the roster. Sveum likes the Cubs’ pen and mentioned Carlos Zambrano as part of a possible rotation that could include Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster.

The Cubs are looking for two-three young starters to fill out the rotation … plus several options in Iowa in case of injuries. According to Bruce Levine, Edwin Jackson could be on the Cubs radar but Levine has not been able to confirm the Cubs interest in the former Southsider and Redbird.

Prince Fielder
The Brewers are telling teams that they do not expect Prince Fielder back. So where will Fielder land?

Many think the Cubs are the favorite to sign Fielder but rumors have suggested the Cubs are not willing to go seven years for the slugger. According to multiple reports, the Cubs would like to sign Fielder to a shorter term deal with a high AAV (average annual value) and the contract could even include opt out clauses.

The Mariners were rumored to be very interested in signing Fielder on Tuesday afternoon and some looked at Seattle as being the favorite to land him … but by Tuesday night reports indicated Seattle was no longer in the mix. Free agent sluggers have really struggled in Seattle but the Mariners apparently were willing to go seven years for Fielder and the Mariners’ GM, Jack Zduriencik, drafted him.

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

  • Levine reiterated the Padres are looking for relievers in return for Chase Headley.
  • Numerous teams have asked about Carlos Marmol. The Cubs feel Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner or Chris Carpenter could close games if they deal Marmol.
  • On dealing Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs scouts have been told to find a trading partner and that the front office will eat a good majority of his contract.
  • Levine does not see Placido Polanco as being an option for the Cubs, he does not fit the type of player the Cubs are looking for.
  • According to Levine, there is no reason to think the Cubs would not be interested in trading for Gaby Sanchez if Pujols ends up in Miami.
  • The Cubs may use Marlon Byrd as trade bait.
  • There are a lot of rumors about Tyler Colvin being involved in possible trades.
  • Levine does not think the new regime would hesitate to trade any player on the Cubs roster with the exception of Starlin Castro.
  • Levine has heard the Cubs are interested in Edwin Jackson but has not been able to confirm the possible interest.
  • Everyone feels Carlos Zambrano will be a Cub next year.
  • The Cubs will end up adding two-three young starters to their rotation.
  • The Cubs do not believe that D.J. LeMahieu is a second baseman and they would be open to finding another middle infielder.
  • In an ideal world, Darwin Barney would be the backup for second base and shortstop.
  • Jason Varitek is the type of guy who brings credibility and could also mentor the two young Cubs catchers.
  • The Cubs are still interested in Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, there is no chance the Orioles would trade for Alfonso Soriano.

Dale Sveum hinted Tuesday that David DeJesus could wind up as the Cubs’ leadoff hitter which would move Starlin Castro down in the order … possibly second, third or fifth.

According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs new president of baseball operations purchased a house near Wrigley Field. Theo Epstein paid $3.25 million for a newly built, 7,800 square foot house in Lakeview. The house is less than a block north of Ryan Dempster’s mansion.

Aramis Ramirez is garnering a lot of attention. One day the Phillies are the front-runner to overpay for Aramis Ramirez, the next day it is another team. The Phillies, Angels and Brewers have been linked to Ramirez … and on Tuesday, the Brewers became the favorite to land Ramirez. The Brewers view Ramirez as a way to replace some of the numbers they figure to lose when Prince Fielder signs elsewhere. Paul Kinzer was unsure if Ramirez would sign with a new team before the end of the meetings … but it appears Ramirez will not accept salary arbitration from the Cubs.

Speaking of third basemen … the Cubs have reportedly backed away from trying to acquire Ian Stewart from the Rockies. According to a report from Thomas Harding, the Cubs originally wanted to send Blake DeWitt to Colorado for Stewart but the Rockies are more interested in players such as Tyler Colvin, D.J. LeMahieu or Scott Maine for Stewart.

Dale Sveum discussed his new team at his first Winter Meetings on Tuesday.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

For the latest Cubs news and rumors, follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind." - William James
Share on Fancred
  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jim Bowden: Source: Pujols down to Marlins and
    Cardinals period.

  • John_CC

    If the Mariner’s won Fielder’s heart that would free up Smoak. Another good option.

  • KevininSanDiego33

    Neil,
    Do you think the Cubs are waiting to see where Bruehl and Wilson land? Also waiting to see who gets non-tended? Before making any moves

    • Aaron

      I know you asked Neil…but it sure seems like they’re playing the waiting game, and that might/might not be a good idea. On one hand, you have a team that needs SERIOUS help with at least 2 above average starting pitchers, 2 above average corner OF, a starting 3B, and a starting 1B. That’s quite a lot to overcome. Now, the Cubs supposedly addressed a corner OF spot signing DeJesus, but otherwise haven’t made a single damn move……and they’re STILL in a holding pattern. Meanwhile, teams are gobbling up decent free agent pieces while the Cubs sit idly by.

      On the other hand, the Cubs could just be waiting to see who will overpay for their guys once those teams lose out on their free agents of choice. (ie.-if the Marlins lose out on Buehrle or Wilson, then they’d be more desperate to meet Cubs’ demands for Zambrano, or if the Marlins sign Pujols, they could look to unload Morrison or Sanchez) So in that sense, they’re playing it smart, because the guys that hold the most value on the team are ones you want to build around (Garza, Marshall and Castro), while the others are coming off crappy seasons, or just need a change of scenery: Marmol, Soriano, Byrd, Wells, etc. among them. 

      • KevininSanDiego33

        I think you are over estimating talent in the Cubs Organization. The Cubs are 3 to 5 years away from being true contenders. I think if they make a few good trades it will be closers to 3 than 5, but they have to trade quality to get Quality. Zambano, Marmol, Soriano, Byrd, and Wells aren’t going to get it done. Trading Garza and Marshall has to be explored, to move forward or we might as well still have Hendry still at GM.

      • woody34

        Aaron, 
        Do you think Team Epstein has their eyes on Oswalt? They have been good about keeping things out of the public eye, and he seems to be the guy waiting on Buerhle and Wilson to sign first.  He would seem to fit the build of player that could help in 2012 and wouldn’t be a long term investment.  Another name that I could see popping up is Erik Bedard after the dust settles from the big names.  

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Woody, I know you asked Aaron. You are right about them keeping things out of the public eye but I question with Oswalt’s back if they would be interested. The Phillies think Oswalt can start only 20-25 games per year at this point in his career. With all of the starting pitching problems, not what this team needs.

          Bedard maybe, depends on how well he and Theo got along at the end of last year in Boston.

          • Aaron

            Additionally, as you mentioned before, in absolutely NO publication out there, have the Cubs ever been linked to Oswalt. In fact, while I’ve been an advocate for landing him, I view him the same as Berkman, Votto, and Buehrle who basically said they could not see themselves ever playing for the Cubs.

        • daverj

          I think Team Epstein has their eyes on most of the available free agents and is looking to sign players for good values.  I expect the Cubs will make a lot of bids but come short on most players.  If Oswalt was willing to sign for 1 year, I think we’d be involved.  Right now he is looking for a 3 year deal.

    • Aaron

      Also, as you mentioned, there’s the no-tender deadline which I believe is Monday, plus the Rule 5 which is this Thursday. I am very concerned that the Epstein regime not only risked losing Flaherty (who is almost guaranteed to be selected with reports I’ve read), but they’re also not very high on LeMahieu apparently according to Neil’s notes above….my fear is that they’ll overpay for some average veteran, and those guys will be cast aside.

      ….back to free agency though…as you’ve probably noticed, the only major free agents to sign deals yet have been Papelbon, Bell, and Reyes. Buehrle, Wilson, Fielder, and Pujols still remain…even Kubel, Cuddyer, Edwin Jackson, Oswalt, Damon, etc. remain

      Once the latter group starts coming off the board, I think it’s major cause for concern

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Aaron, the deadline to tender contracts to players with 3-6 yrs of service time is Monday.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Kevin, I think they, along with most of the league, is waiting on Pujols to sign. The Monday tender deadline will be important but I do not think it is the hold up.

    • daverj

      If the right move is there, I think the Cubs will make it.  Otherwise, they are willing to wait it out.  Look at the free agent signings so far … right now all of the free agent signings in MLB so far (except for Sizemore and DeJesus) were bad signings for the teams.  I’m very happy the Cubs did not outbid other teams for Reyes, Capuano, Harang, Frank Francisco and Papelbon.

  • Ripsnorter1

    This is the most exciting Winter Meetings that the Cubs have had since 2007, imo. 

    Smoak:From Goose Creek, SC, near Charleston. Age 25.
    Doesn’t hit with enough power or average for my taste….
    age 24 in 2011
    15 HR…55 RBI….234 BA…..396 slug
    Career….227 BA…316 OBP……385 slugMaybe he’ll have a breakout year in 2012, but….
    Bats switch, and career-wise, hits about the same from both sides of the plate, EXCEPT his OBP batting RH is only .299 vs .323 as a LH batter. Hits 
    223 vs RHP
    .234 vs LHP

    I’d rather have Sanchez or Fielder.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Oswalt…..
    34 years old now, and coming off the worst year of his ML career:9-13…3.69 era…139 IP…153 H…1.34 WHIP

    Still a fastball pitcher 59% of the time
    16% slider
    14% curve
    11% change

    Only walked 33 (fanned 93) all year.

    Good control pitcher. Maybe he could teach Marmol how to do it.

    Maybe not.

  • paulcatanese

    It appears that LeMahieu and Main may not be in the plans for the Cubs in the future. I was hoping they would stick. Maybe the rumors are just that , rumors. With very little action so far, its starting to look a little bleak with the thought of keeping Baker, DeWitt, and Byrd again.

    Looks like the talent so far is in the managment end of the orginization,
    I’m looking forward to all the improvements that are supposed to arrive here.

    What is the difference with trading one player away last year and that bascially was it and so far this year bringing in one player.

    Its going to take a long time to turn a franchise around at this rate.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Paul, you said, “Looks like the talent so far is in the managment end of the organization.
      LOL

      All we need is a bunch of management types making $20 million, sitting around and congratulating themselves on how smart they are–as they sign David DeJesus to be the starting RF. He’s the kind of signing you’d expect from the Pittsburgh Pirates. LOL

      And then you summarized, “Its going to take a long time to turn a franchise around at this rate.” 

      LOL

      It’s been 103+ years in turning this organization around! 

      LeMahieu:Only 22. Has gone from Rookie League at age 20 to AAA by age 22. Impressive, no?  Hits a HR every 186 AB. Yup. NO POWER. Very seldom walks. Only 25 BB in 449  PA in 2011. 29 BB in 600 PA in 2010. NO speed. 5 SB, 5 CS. Hit .286 in AAA Iowa in 2011. 

      So that’s it: He’s another Barney: no power, no speed, not a great glove (Barney’s fielding stats and LeMahieu’s are almost identical). He’ll hit .270 for you. If you can win with a .270 singles hitter, he’s your man. Scouting report says his best position may be 3B–but not with this kind of power. 

      He’s just another of the famous Tim Wilkens draftees: a middle infielder that has no speed or power. 

      And the Cubs will likely play him parttime in 2012, imo.

      • Anthony

        DJ had no power in college with a metal bat, what did you expect?

      • cubtex

        I think DJ will hit better than Barney but with his lack of power? If another team values him I would include him in a deal. The Cubs need to look to upgrade at 2B in my opinion and that is one of the few spots they can find a true leadoff hitter.

      • daverj

        LeMahieu will likely never be a star but he has more upside than Barney.  LeMahieu could be a Freddy Sanchez type  … .300ish with 8-10 HR and lots of doubles.  Barney is more like a .270ish type guy with no more than a couple HR. 

      • paulcatanese

        I believe you made my point in the first couple of paragraphs, its what I meant but didnt word it right.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Oh, I just loved the way you said it, Paul: 
          “Looks like most of our talent is in the front office.” 

          Maybe most of the ego, aside from Zambrano, is in the front office, too.

          • paulcatanese

            Rip, exactly,all the money may be gone that way, keep waiting for something to happen.

          • Dorasaga

            Paul, it’s only Thursday, more than 24 hours removed from the Good Day coming. Relax and check back for more on Monday. :-)

    • cubtex

      Right. If the Cubs don’t think LeMahieu can play 2B…..Move him. Barney should be a utility. Let’s upgrade over at 2B. It would be nice to get a speed guy over there who can steal some bases….epsecially as slow as the Cubs are currently.

      • John_CC

        They also may be waiting on Phillie and Aramis. Polanco plays 2B as well as 3B, doesn’t he?

        • daverj

          Yes, he plays 2B and 3B.

      • paulcatanese

        I agree with you, but let me ask, wouldn’t it be difficult for Campana to make the pivot at second being left-handed?:)

        • cubtex

          too bad Campana throws lefthanded :)

  • Tony_Hall

    I believe Pujols will be a fish, maybe by the end of the day.  The Cardinals, I believe, are wanting to play the role of mid-market team, that couldn’t afford to keep it’s start player, versus having to actually pay him an insane amount of money over the next 10+ years.  Makes you wonder if they didn’t think this through when they gave him his last contract, to set it up to be at a little older age.  If they wanted him to be around through his late 30′s, they would have taken care of this years ago, instead of waiting until the last year.

    • cubtex

      He will be a Cardinal. Thank you Marlins for driving the price up though.

  • Tony_Hall

    I hope the reports that the Cardinals have given their final offer, and that both the Marlins and Cardinals have pushed for an answer, so that they can move on, is correct.  

    What I would love to see is both the Marlins and Cardinals to move on and spend their money, saying that by not getting a yes, they took that as a no.  

    I would just love to see the tables turned on one of these players, to where they are searching for a job, and no one has the cash to pay them what they want.

    • paulcatanese

      Tony, I would love to see that happen, as the Cardinals have just come up short of mortgaging the City and giving that to him.

      I think Cubtex is correct,that Pujols had never had any intention of leaving St Louis and played his little games until he either thought he punished them  enough or the price went where he wanted it to.

      And as I believe you had said then he will take a “hometown discount” to please the fans there, who by this time may have put him out of their favor.

      By the way, how does youre buddy feel about it, he should have some great insight how the fans feel.

      Its too bad that it had to go this far.

      • Tony_Hall

        Paul, I have yet to meet a Cardinal fan, that would be upset if Pujols signed elsewhere.  They seem to think that his contract will be too much for their payroll to handle.  

        They also say they are already seeing his body (especially his lower half) slowing down.

  • Tony_Hall

    Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, ARam, Pena all gone with Barney to the bench and rumors on Soto as well…doesn’t say much for who lined up with Castro last year, or the guys who put together the team.

    I am starting to think my over/under for the 40 man at 16/17 is a little high.

  • Tony_Hall

    Does anyone else feel like once someone pushes over 1 domino, that their could be an absolute flurry of trades and signing, as the chain reaction could be huge.

    • MikeT_2008

      I get that feeling, that once Pujols goes the others will fall in line soon after that, it’s like the calm before the storm

  • Tony_Hall

    I am just shocked that a team would have this response to adding Soriano.  It makes you wonder, with all of the bats that can be signed on a 1 year deal for $5M or less, why would anyone want to trade for Soriano and commit to paying him, any amount for the next 3 years, even if the Cubs are paying a large part of his contract.  

    ——
    We reported earlier this morning that Alfonso Soriano-to-the-Orioles may become a legit rumor, but one Baltimore official doesn’t want  people to think that way.

    Baltimore Sun’s Orioles beat writer Dan Connolly tweeted shortly after word of the possible fit with Soriano broke, saying:

    @danconnollysunDan ConnollyThe FWIW department: 1 #Orioles official said “no chance” when I asked if club wanted Alfonso Soriano. Dosnt look like a fit, but we’ll seeDec 06 via webFavoriteRetweetReplyThis may just be the game front office executives play to keep things tight-lipped. Or maybe this guy just doesn’t want Soriano. Either way, the only thing that can be said for sure has “no chance” is the Soriano rumors dying down. Whether it’s the Orioles or some other team, Sori will be linked as a possible trade fit, even if it makes no sense.

    • zippy2212

      Sitting here drinking my morning coffee trying to digest all of yesterdays whirl wind of events/non events and a thought came to me.  Any else think the Cubs have the ground work laid for some possible trades and/or free agent signings but are just waiting to make sure Pena and Ramirez decline arbitration today?

      The last thing they need is to sign someone like Prince for $20 mil per year and then Ramirez decides he wants to come back.  Then they would be paying close to $40mil on 2 guys.  Which would basically kill the budget.

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes and no.  If the Cubs signed Fielder, Pena would not get to play, and he will get a starting job for decent enough money from someone.  3B could be possible, but I just don’t see any scenario, where ARam comes back after all that has been said by his agent.

    • cubtex

      Soriano is not this awful player Tony. Everyone is so enamored with his contract that they are not looking at it objectively. I still say a team will take him for 4 or 5 mil a year with his bat.

      • Tony_Hall

        That’s why we have a bet on it…but he’s also not that good.

        WAR
        2011 (1.3)
        2010 (1.6)
        2009 (-0.9)

        Total last 3 years 2.0…hard to imagine anyone paying $15M over the next 3 years, with the thought that it will go down as he is 36…37…38…if he isn’t already that age.

    • John_CC

      Because many a GM are still enamored with a big name and past performance.  And average fans, you know, the ones that are not like us, also like the name and super-star status, even if the shine has worn away. When a small market team has the chance to sign a “super-star” for “only” $4M per year, they get excited and hope that the fans will too.

      At least that is one possibility as I see it.

      • cubtex

        I agree. He could help a small market team sell some tickets with his name alone.

      • Tony_Hall

        I hope you are right, but the reality is, there are very few of those teams, and do they need a DH, that they can’t pick-up as a FA on a 1 year deal.   

  • Tony_Hall

    What can we say for sure for our starting lineup?

    Castro will play SS and bat most likely 2nd or 3rd.
    DeJesus will play the OF, most likely RF and bat, most likely 1st.

    ?????????????????????????

    Is there any other spot we can say for sure?

    C – It wouldn’t shock anyone if Soto is traded, but my guess is he is the Opening Day catcher, but I can’t rule out, them trading him and using Castillo and/or Clevenger.

    1B – Today the lineup would have to be Lahair and Baker backing up.  Will Fielder be signed?  Will the Cubs trade for a young 1B from one of the teams who sign Pujols or Fielder?

    2B – Barney would be it today, it’s been thought that Lemahieu could beat him out in ST, but it sure doesn’t sound like they are more than role players.

    3B – Baker and Dewitt…ouch.  Headley, Polanco, Stewart…lots of IFS

    LF – Soriano…I just don’t think they want his style of play on this team

    CF – Byrd…if he starts the year, it’s unlikely he is around by the trade deadline…Brett Jackson will take his place.

    Somebody please push over some dominos, to get this thing started….don’t even get me started on the rotation…Garza, Dempster,?,?,?

    • Anthony

      include Z in the rotation at this point, and since it appears to be a transitional season forthcoming, maybe a change of scenery for AJ Burnett would be worth a shot, the Yanks are looking to dump his salary, which is a good way to also pry away one of their better prospects in the bailout package.

      At some point, one of your 1st rounders needs testing, and that means Vitters/Flaherty and the 3B position.

      DeJesus is not a leadoff hitter, he is an 8 hole hitter and not a corner profile offensively, he is a tweener/utility type

      Play Soriano until an AL teams in the hunt needs a bat for some pitching prospects, then bring Jackson up

      NO NO NO to all the 3B retreads being discussed

      • Ripsnorter1

        AJ Burnett has lost velocity. If the hitter guesses fastball, it’s gone.

        • Anthony

          well, he throws strikes, still is striking out hitters at a similar rate when with FLA, and can eat 200 innings

          plus, the Yanks would have to offer some youth to eat the contract

           http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/burnea.01.shtml

      • Tony_Hall

        I expect to Z in the rotation to start the year, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if he was sent packing.

        Vitters is most likely a year away.  Let’s see how he starts at AAA first, he is still young, that there shouldn’t be any hurry.

        DeJesus of 2011 is a lower of the order hitter, but the rest of his years, he is a good OBP guy, who can bat lead-off.  I think they give him a chance to bounce back batting lead-off, with Brett Jackson waiting in the wings to take over mid-season.

    • Ripsnorter1

      `Tony,

      You’re emotions are a little high this morning. Why?

      *Soriano ain’t a goin’ nowhere! No GM wants to give up anything for him, and no GM wants to pay him. Sure, the KC Royals would take him if the Cubs paid all but the ML minimum. But Soriano is still a productive power bat. Theo may want him gone, but just to release him? NO. Enjoy Little Alfonso again in 2012 as your everyday LF.

      *Byrd: another pipe dream, at least until July 31, 2012. Why? No GM wants a singles hitting CF with no speed or power and not all that much glove–for $6.25 million.

      *Barney: well, even if DJ LeMahieu takes his place, is there any difference? No speed, no power and not all that much glove. A nice steady .260 hitter that should be a reserve infielder somewhere……

      *Baker/DeWitt: that Lilly and Theriot trade is really paying dividends, isn’t it? But wait! We got $2.5 million dollars to boot!
      I am sure you feel secure knowing that some of that money went into securing David DeJesus to be our LH power bat out in RF.

      *Soto: we’ll have to wait and see on this one. He could be gone. But that isn’t a sure thing.

      ********************************

      I think that the one person you can count on being gone is Tyler Colvin.

      • Tony_Hall

        Kind of my point, it’s gonna be a long year…

        I would love nothing more than to see a lineup without Soriano, Byrd, Aram, Pena, and yes even Soto.  Out with the old, in with the new.  

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    No surprise here, from Jon Heyman: If albert stays in stl,
    marlins would look at prince, buehrle, wilson. In mix for fielder, a
    floridian: sea, tor, cubs, tex, bal, mil

    • daverj

      The Cubs have a much better chance to get Fielder if Pujols signs with Florida.  I can’t see the Cards pursuing Fielder if they lose out on Pujols, but the Marlins will make a big push for Fielder if Pujols goes to St. Louis.  Given the years and dollars they are willing to throw at Pujols, I think the Marlins would have to be the favorite to sign Fielder if they don’t get Albert.

  • John G

    This is pretty funny

    (@Jon_Heyman) Nothing decided yet but a good number of executives still seem to think #marlins will win pujols derby. about 8 hours ago

    (@JimBowdenESPNxm) Consensus of most baseball people is Marlins will end up w/ significantly better offer; but Pujols will resign w/Cards about 8 hours ago

    What is the difference between “a good number of executives” and “most baseball people”? Apparently two different groups of guys in the bar off the hotel lobby. Just proves that none of these guys really know. They’re just tweeting whatever they think and if they guess right they can claim they had inside knowledge. It makes for good theater, but I’m not getting any work done this morning.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jon Heyman:
    Carlos Pena has decided he will NOT accept arbitration

    • daverj

      This is good news.  I’m sure ARam will decline too.  That gives Epstein 2 more draft picks and more payroll flexibility this year.

    • J Daniel

      Thank goodness.  Things should start to break soon as some decisions start to take place.

      • Zippy2212

        That was my feeling too.  Theo & Co. are waiting to make sure that they decline before starting to make their moves.  At least I hope they start making moves.  I’m getting anxious.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Just a platoon 1B anyway, and he wants multi-years and multi-millions. 

      So long Carlos. Don’t let the door smack you on the way out.

      We won’t miss the strikeouts….161 k in 606 PA.
      We won’t miss your RISP BA……175 in 2011.
      We won’t miss your BA vs. LHP…..133 in 2011.
      We won’t miss your .333 slugging vs. LHP, either.
      We won’t miss your .216 BA with runners on.
      That .146 BA with runners on 2B won’t be missed, either.
      Do you think that hitting .111 with runners on 3B made you one of the elite 1B? We won’t miss it.
      And batting .000 with runners on 2nd and 3rd really didn’t endear you to Cubs’ fans’ hearts.

      There’s more I could say, but I’ll conclude with this:

      That .104 BA vs Power Pitchers tells me the bat just isn’t quite as quick as it once was. That stat tells me that there are still knot heads in MLB who insist on throwing you a change up to speed up your bat. DUH!

      • Chadaudio

        Don’t get too excited yet Rip… I have a feeling that Pena still has a chance to re-sign (no, I’m not necessarily excited about that idea either).

        • Ripsnorter1

          Has anyone put an offer on the table for him?

          • Chadaudio

            Not yet… I just have this bad feeling that he’s still one of our 1B options (unfortunately). http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/7398/pena-still-may-end-up-with-cubs?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

          • cubtex

            you could be right Chad.

      • Coolpdxcubsfan

        I am dumbfounded. He can’t possibly think that he will get 12 mil anywhere else. He’s going to lose some millions IMHO.
        I liked his defense, didn’t realize all the stats you just mentioned.
        And as Daverj mentioned, thanks for the draft pick.

      • paulcatanese

        And I won’t miss fast forwarding the DVR when he comes up.

        • cubtex

          yes you would for probably 2 years Paul since I think he will sign for 2 :)

  • daverj

    Sounds like the Gio Gonzalez rumors are heating up.  The Yanks, Phils, Tigers and Reds all have enough quality prospects to entice the A’s.  If the Yanks lose out on Gio, I could see them making a hard push for Garza.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Ken Rosenthal: Source: Cubs still involved in Pujols talks. Extent unclear.

    • MikeT_2008

      Neil what is your take on the Cubs position with Pujols, I know we have to take all these rumors with a massive dose of salt, but I swear the Cubs and Pujols stance changes every couple of hours

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I think the Cubs have been out of it, if they ever really were, since yesterday. And you are right, it all changes by the minute … and it depends on the source.

    • Schwimmer

      I like Rosenthal.   But he’s bs.ing in this case.  No self-respecting reporter…would make it sound like the CUBS are “really” in on the Pujols talks.  Come on…

      These reporters already know that THEO is not going to give
      Pujols a 10 year contract.   THEO may have given an offer for more money per year over few years…but I believe he did that strictly knowing that Pujols would never accept.

      So…how could the CUBS “still be involved” with the Pujols talks???  They aren’t.  THEO gave an offer, he knew would be turned down.

      Yet, for publicity’s sake — he wants to show CUB fans that he, at least, made an effort.  And, I think he was correct in doing so.

      The word is that FIELDER (i.e. Boras) is insisting on a 7 year contract.

      I would hope that THEO would offer 6 years at $22m to $23m per year.   That might do it.  What do you all think?

      • daverj

        I think the Cubs will offer $25 million per year for 6 years.  Whether that gets done or not depends on how high the Mariners and Blue Jays are willing to go.

  • RynoTiger

    I saw that the Pirates signed Nate McLouth. It got me laughing because I remember when a fair number of folks on here were saying how much the Cubs needed to trade for him and then he went to Atlanta and did nothing.

  • cubtex

    Here is how I think this PuJols story will play out. He will resign with the Cards at 10 for 220 mil and say he is always a Cardinal and he never wanted to go anywhere else. He will say he turned down more money to return to the Cards and he will remain beloved by Card fans. As I have said….I have read this book before.

    • daverj

      You and I don’t agree too often on these boards, but I’m with you 100% on this one.

    • texcubnut

      I usually come down on your point of view on baseball/Cubs matters, also. This time is no different, but we’re really not climbing out to far on the proverbial limb on this prediction. If the cards, marlins and ‘mystery team’ are in or near the same ballpark, then Pujols returns to the cards.

      • paulcatanese

        I,m curious, do you think that Pujols suffers from an attention deficit syndrome? He dosent seem to know where he wants to go:)

    • jw

      Looks that way…I think Theo knew that right from the start and only bid to help make the cost of Pujols to the Cards higher

    • paulcatanese

      You took the words right out of my mouth, had posted above to the same scenerio with a reply to Tony, giving you credit for it.

  • Michael

    Since Hanley said he is not interested in moving to 3rd (which is understandable to an extent) I wonder what it would take if the Cubs were to come calling for him. I think we are on the verge of a disaster for our infield this year. Lahair, Barney and Baker? Gross…I would be willing to send anyone (except Castro) and eat what we have to of those contracts to add Hanley. Theo saw him before in Boston and he was apart of the Beckett deal, that would be a great addition instead of overpaying for 10 years and 25 mil a year for Pujols and Prince.

    • ldsteam2001

      If Theo traded Hanley before when he was with the Red Sox, maybe that means he does not fit in the Theo Plans.  I do not think he is a good character guy, and Theo is looking for good players that are also willing to put in the work, and give 110% everyday.  I do not see Hanley doing that, based on his past history.  Pass!  I would take Gaby Sanchez or Logan Morrison instead.

      • Aaron

        Actually it was NOT Theo that traded him. In fact, that deal was consummated while he was on his hiatus from the Red Sox (remember he quit, left Fenway in a gorilla suit, and demanded more money and power, and came back a few months later).

        It was supposedly Cherington and Hoyer that did that deal with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez going to the Marlins for Lowell and Beckett.

        It has been rumored that Theo would NOT have been on board with that deal, as he was a huge fan of both prospects. It’s doubtful the Red Sox would’ve won the World Series without Beckett and Lowell, so who really knows if Theo would’ve done the trade if that was proposed.

        Hanley Ramirez is the classic case of Dominicans coming over, getting paid, then slacking off. It seems to happen more often with them than players from other countries, and I’m not quite sure why that is. Additionally, they seem to have been the biggest cheaters not only in age, but also with the steroid era. Again, I’m not quite sure why that is, but it sure seems like that’s the case.

        Even having said that, I’d still prefer a left side of the IF that includes Castro at SS and Hanley at 3B, but it’s likely the Marlins would ask for the moon for him, just like they did with Morrison, even though they’ve pissed off and seemingly disrespected both players.

    • Schwimmer

      I like HANLEY.  But he comes with some really “attitude” problems.

      Wasn’t he caught “dogging” in the infield and punished by the manager?

    • Rational Logic

      Hanley already stated he doesn’t want to move positions…so we’re gonna move Castro to third? I’m sure he’ll be super excited. Also – please tell me who you would trade from our system for a player like Hanley, I’d love to know. And don’t bother with the “three team trade involving Garza and prospects” scenario either…c’mon guys, get real here. We should just go out and trade for Verlander while we’re at it, too. I could totally see a Vitters for Verlander trade straight up, maybe call it “one V for another?”

    • John_CC

      1. Where does Castro play? 
      2. Hanley is not the prospect Epstein traded, he is an ego driven “super star” and well known clubhouse cancer.
      3. Now your IF is a rookie 3B, Hanely, Barney, LaHair.
      Is it that much better?

      It’s only December 7.  This week of meetings and the 24/7 spin and tweets and updates makes it feel like this is the last chance for any changes, but it isn’t.  Spring Training is more than 10 weeks away. The odds on LaHair, Barney and Baker/DeWitt all on the starting infield is very slim…

  • Anthony

    My guesses:

    Pujols STL
    Fielder MILW

    Two of the following will be traded:

    Jackson
    DJ
    Vitters
    Colvin
    Byrd
    Marmol

    And:

    LaHair will be given an opportunity at 1B
    Soriano will play LF

    The trades will bring back a 3B and Pitching and possibly prospects

    Flaherty Rule 5—75% chance

    Remember, Jed Hoyer picked his 3B of the future in SD, and that happens to be Jed Gyorko. My guess is he makes the MLB roster in 2012 which makes Headley disposable.

    • John_CC

      I don’t think the Brewers have a chance on Fielder. He is not going to give them a discount and, I feel, doesn’t have an allegiance to them the way Pujols does with St. Lou.

    • Aaron

      I don’t agree at all with Fielder going to Milwaukee. In my opinion, it’s going to be Miami (if they lose on Pujols), or the Cubs. The Rangers and Nationals have already said they’re not in on him, and the Mariners have said that while they’re interested in him, the bidding will be too cost prohibitive for them to be in serious contention. That would seem to leave just the Cubs, Marlins, and the Brewers as likely landing spots, with the Marlins far and away the clear front-runner to land him if they lose on Pujols. But the Brewers have already publicly stated they are not expected to re-sign him.

      As for your list of trade candidates, I absolutely agree with that…but I would add Marshall, Soriano, and Garza to that list as well.

      I do not agree with Soriano in LF. Not only does he not fit their stated desire of improved defense, but he doesn’t profile as their type of hitter either….a double negative in their book, so even if they have to eat all of his deal, he should be gone.

      Flaherty in Rule 5 is 100% chance; M. Gonzalez is 75% chance, and Rhee is about 50% chance, though, according to some, he’s a virtual lock to be selected given his mid 90′s heat and splitter, they think someone can stash him in their pen or find an injury to hide him.

      Between Headley and Stewart….unless the Padres are still asking for the moon, I believe the Cubs get Headley…whom I am NOT a big fan of (and I’m not a huge fan of Stewart either, unless you get him on a non-tendered free agent deal…or if you just have to give up DeWitt, that’d be a fair trade).

      Given the relative inactivity thus far by Cubs management, I can almost guarantee that they will be trolling around for teams that missed out on their ideal free agent, and offer the likes of Zambrano, Dempster, Garza, Wells, Marshall, Marmol, Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, Soto, and possibly even Barney. In fact, just about everyone not named Samardzija, Cashner, and Castro would probably be available (the former two they’ll likely hang onto based on their potential for rotation/closer).

      Guys like Gaby Sanchez (if they sign Pujols), Nolasco and/or Volstad (if they sign Buehrle or Wilson), Lohse and/or Westbrook (if they sign Buehrle), Hanley Ramirez (because he’s unhappy about moving to 3B after they signed Reyes), Ervin Santana (if they sign Wilson), Casey McGehee and/or Gamel (if they sign ARAM) could be available in trade.

      Additionally, other rumored available trade targets (also some non-tenders I included) could include:
      Liriano
      Danks
      Floyd
      Dunn
      Burnett
      Loney
      Barton
      Gwynn Jr.
      Oviedo (formerly Nunez)
      Saunders
      Sonnanstine
      BJ Upton
      Quentin
      Gordon Beckham
      Pelfrey
      Jurrjens
      Gio Gonzalez
      Cahill
      Braden
      McCarthy
      Alonso
      Michael Young (based on last year’s rumors…and if they land a high priced free agent, he’s as good as gone)
      *Stewart
      *Headley
      *-previously mentioned above
       

      • paulcatanese

        Aaron, your’e a walking reference guide, great research.

  • Tony_Hall

    Another example of two guys at the opposite ends of the bar.

    (@Jon_Heyman) #marlins definitely will talk to prince if they don’t get albert. Buehrle, wilson (angels the leader there) also options less than a minute ago

    (@BNightengale) #marlins say they want Pujols and if he goes to #StLCardinals, will focus on pitching,not Fielder about a minute ago

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Agreed …

      • Aaron

        Neil, the tweet from Heyman on Fielder is a bit worrisome to me. If Brewers owner flying in, that means they’re making a big effort not only to sign Fielder, but likely also ARAM.

        If Pujols ends up in St. Louis again, I believe the Cubs are screwed. Who are they going to have left?

        Here is what the team looks like now:
        Garza
        Dempster
        Zambrano
        Wells
        ?

        Marmol
        Marshall
        Samardzija
        Wood (likely to be done soon)
        Russell
        Cashner
        ?

        C-Soto, ?
        1B-? (LaHair said to be given a shot by management)
        2B-Barney
        SS-Castro
        3B-? (DeWitt and Baker if nobody is signed/traded for…GAG ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
        LF-Soriano
        CF-Byrd
        RF-DeJesus, Colvin

        Compare that to likely rosters of Cardinals and Brewers if Pujols and Fielder stay:

        Brewers:
        Gallardo
        Greinke
        Marcum
        Wolf
        Narveson

        Axford
        Hawkins
        Saito
        Loe
        ?
        ?
        ?

        C-Kottaras, Lucroy
        1B-Fielder
        2B-Weeks
        SS-?
        3B-ARAM (rumored to be most interested team)
        LF-Braun
        CF-Gomez, Morgan
        RF-Hart
        ***************************************************************

        Cardinals:
        Carpenter
        Wainwright
        Garcia
        Buehrle
        Westbrook/Lohse

        Motte
        McClellan
        Salas
        Lynn
        Sachez
        Boggs
        Repczynski

        C-Molina, ?
        1B-Pujols
        2B-Shumaker
        SS-Delscalso
        3B-Freese
        LF-Holliday
        CF-Jay
        RF-Berkman

        WOW….It’s no wonder the Cubs are trying to screw up negotiations all around for Pujols and Fielder…..they need the chaos just to compete.If they don’t, then there’s absolutely NO way they win the division. Furthermore, if Fielder and Pujols don’t go to other teams like the Marlins that have a Gaby Sanchez already in place, or the Mariners for Fielder that already have Smoak, or the Angels that have Morales and Trumbo, etc., then they lose out on trade partners to fill the void at 1B…so the Cubs either need to have them sign elsewhere or sign with them to even have a shot at competing this year.

        Best case scenario if one lands back in the division might just be Fielder and NOT Pujols, because the Cubs could then try to trade for Gamel to fill the void at 1B.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Aaron, I really do not know how to respond. I will say you know how bad this team/organization has been. It will take time to dig it out of the hole.

        • daverj

          Aaron -

          I think unfortunately we all need to really look at this Cubs situation as a 3 year plan.  The team may be very bad next year, but as long as we draft well and add draft picks like we did today with ARam and Pena declining arb, we be in a better position down the road.  If we can get top free agents at reasonable deals to help now, I’m confident Epstein will do so, but they don’t want to mortgage the future.

          It may be a slow rebuilding process to get the Cubs out of the current mess and the 2012 and possible 2013 seasons may be sacrifices necessary to do so.

    • Aaron

      Nightengale is a boob….there’s no getting around it. He is almost always wrong, just like Muskat, Levine, etc.

      The most accurate guys seem to be the national ESPN reporters like Olney and Stark….Heyman also seems to be fairly accurate

      • John G

        Rosenthall always falls short too. (LOL)

        • Aaron

          Well played, Sir “short too”…LOL…he is most definitely a smurf. Some on here might recall when I went to the Winter Meetings a few years ago, that I got to meet a lot of these guys…some one-on-one, and Rosenthal might as well be one of the Keebler Elves

          • John G

            I understand that when he interviews someone, he never looks into their eyes, but is fully capable of looking into their heart.

          • Aaron

            also should note that a lot of these guys in the media were hanging around the lobby, trying to move their groups over near GM’s that were talking to each other, and trying to listen in to their conversations.

            When they use the phrase “sources tell me”, they might as well just say, “I was eavesdropping conversations, and these are the names I heard being discussed _____________”

            I wonder why some of these guys don’t just talk to players directly, as a LOT of free agents, or players that might be traded attend a lot of these meetings. In fact, in Vegas, I went straight up to Peavy and asked him what was going on with the Cubs. Oswalt, Peavy, and a few other guys were all together with a bunch of hotties when I talked to him.

            A lot of GM’s that were deep in discussion would go to the bar, one-on-one and talk, and you couldn’t hear a whole lot. All you could do is speculate who they were discussing.

            I was guilty of this as well when I was at the Winter Meetings. It’s kind of fun to speculate who they are discussing, but unless you were right up next to them and could hear EVERYTHING they were saying…if you just heard a name, you never knew what context it was in.

            I tried listening in to Rosenthal, Valentine, Gammons, Olney, and Stark, among others to see what they were discussing, and it was primarily just them shooting the proverbial sh$t in the lobby of the Bellagio.

            I honestly think that if rumors aren’t made up entirely, like a Levine seems good at doing, then it’s the assistant GM’s, and other scouts at the meetings that are trying to make themselves more important than they really are, being targeted by these journalists to get the inside scoop.

            I even believe that some GM’s (and Epstein even confirmed this), seem to love misdirection, and they will do so at the expense of some of their minions, knowing some of them will talk.

        • paulcatanese

          :):):) clever.

  • woody34

    So much for any thoughts on Bedard.

    http://twitter.com/#!/mbrassard/statuses/144471090104762369

    Canadian reporter, so it’s in French.

  • cubtex

    Looks like Ian Stewart for Tyler Colvin might happen after all.

    • J Daniel

      Info?

      • cubtex

        all over twitter

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        The rumors have kicked back up that Colvin could be dealt for Stewart again. The national media is catching up to what the Cubs and Rockies beat writers have been reporting.

  • Coolpdxcubsfan

    Geez, will someone give Albert his bazillions and guarantee of them till
    age 60 and be done with it so that the rest of baseball can get back to
    normal and do some trading????

    • Anthony

      How bout the Marlins retract their verbal offer, then right after, STL retracts their offer

      • Coolpdxcubsfan

        Hahaha wouldn’t that be great? All dressed up with no place to go.
        If he has to have 10 years, it would seem like a natural for an AL team. Then in his declining years he could DH. (much like our Sorry)

  • Jason Douglas

    Neil / CCO,

    If Marlins get Pujols they will look to trade their current 28 yr old 1B Gaby Sanchez:  http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/29270/gaby-sanchez

    D. Lee came to Cubs from playing in this park, although he did have more homers in FL than Sanchez does.  OBP looks decent…for non-steroid era, his 20 hrs / 80 rbi line doesn’t seem too bad. 

    I don’t know how he is defensively…

    28 so he may have upside.  They would be looking to get starting pitching.  Could possibly unload Zambrano, or someone besides Garza and Dempster.

    Thoughts?

    • Aaron

      I think that was the suggestion a few days ago…Z for Sanchez. The problem is, Sanchez is RH, so that really doesn’t help the Cubs with their stated goal of getting more left-handed. They would have:
      C-Soto
      1B-Sanchez
      2B-Barney
      SS-Castro
      3B-?
      LF-Soriano
      CF-Byrd
      RF-DeJesus

      Stewart, who is likely to be traded for according to reports, for Colvin, would be the only other LH, along with DeJesus…Dealing Colvin would hurt them in that sense as well, because that’s another power lefty bat out the door.

      I agree with you about your analysis regarding Marlins hitters of the past having difficulty in the Dolphins stadium, but as you mentioned, Sanchez is NO Derrek Lee, but if he can supply 20 hr, 80+RBI at under $1 million (which he’ll be at for another year prior to arbitration), then I think you have to take it, even if he’s RH.

      With word today that Ike Davis is available, I think they might focus a lot of their attention on trading for him, or perhaps they might go to the Brewers if Fielder re-signs, and try to land Gamel, though it might take quite a bit to land either of them.

      From what I read just a few minutes ago, the Marlins’ interest in Fielder is WAY overblown, and they only had interest in Pujols, with that money going towards CJ Wilson if they couldn’t lock up Pujols. That would seem to imply he’s going back to the Brewers if no other team enters the picture

      • Jason Douglas

        Thanks Aaron.
        I just think realistically this is a lost/transition season.

        Don’t get me wrong…still interested in the season and rejuvenated with all the GM/Mgr changes, but I would rather see the Cubs truly build with quality pieces.

        So a guy like Sanchez, I see as a short-term, and inexpensive fix.  Get a better 1B down the line, then trade him or make him a bench player.

        I would still prefer Fielder, but no idea if that materializes or not.

        I just don’t want to see the Cubs sign mediocre talent to long years/high dollars, simply because they have gaps to fill.   Because then in 2013, and 2014, we won’t be able to afford Player X who fills a need and is a star in his prime.

        What is the Quality/Value FA’s I see out there?

        Fielder.  Youth, and so far consistent production.
        Buerhle:  Not a young pup, but not a hard thrower, and I think he can age gracefully and stay injury free, while using Maddux-like moxy to get batters out.

        Who don’t you trade?

        Garza:  why would you trade a younger quality pitcher with a reasonable contract?  That is exactly the type of player you want and should build around.  If you trade him, you just have to go overpay for a guy to fill those innings, likely in a less-productive manner.
        Marmol:  not ready to give up yet…still young, and perhaps Wood could take closer’s role back, and setup role will be easier on Marmol’s psyche. 
        Marshall:  Same as Garza, just from a bullpen perspective. 
        Castro: obviously.

        Everything/everyone else is up for grabs, if it was my call.

        Can we fleece the Mets for something, given their sad state.  Is David Wright worth a chunk of assets, or is he in decline?  What about Jason Bay?

        What about Pirates, KC, Houston, San Diego…anything good there to fleece?

        Let’s get some quality players, or make smart moves so we can sign/trade for more quality in the coming off-seasons.

        • Aaron

          But that’s what I’ve been working on with you for the last few years….

          It does NOT have to be that way, and you know it….eventually I’ll get you to come over to my side of things :)

          I know you’re not enamored with Cubs prospects, and you have very legitimate reasons for that, which I’ve heard numerous times…though, I will let you know that, as I always say…if it’s broke, then fix it, and the very definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again….blah blah blah..you’ve heard me say all that as well.

          But I’ll give you a few names, and then see what you think:

          Starting Pitching:
          McNutt/Jackson/Rusin/etc. vs Wells
          *I think I’m taking ANY of them over Wells

          C:
          Soto vs Castillo/Clevenger
          *Castillo has the same offensive upside as Soto, but with a better arm. Problem is, his game-calling skills leave much to be desired. Clevenger is an above average hitter that makes solid contact, can play other IF positions, and pitchers LOVE throwing to the guy, but he lacks the arm, and is seen as more of a platoon guy, because of that. If I’m the Cubs, I’m just going with Castillo and Clevenger, and trading Soto, saving the $5 million he’ll get this year, and try to maximize his value before he’s too cost prohibitive for other teams

          1B:
          LaHair vs Pena (if he’s brought back)
          *let’s see…..$420k vs $10 million and 20 hr, 70 RBI likely vs 25-30 hr, 80 RBI from Pena….hmmmmmm…I’m taking a chance with LaHair, even though he’s NOT a long-term solution

          2B:
          LeMahieu/M. Gonzalez/etc. vs Barney
          *I’ll take their upside against Barney’s max, which was basically last year….270′s avg, .310′s OBP, max of between 40-50 RBI…yeah, I’m taking upside of LeMahieu anyday over that type of production

          3B:
          Vitters/Lake/LeMahieu (if not at 2B)/Flaherty (if not selected in Rule 5) vs DeWitt/Baker
          *DeWitt and Baker both have had AMPLE opportunity to seize jobs at 3B and 2B (due to injuries), and have failed to do so. At best, they’re an average platoon option, as Baker kills LHP, but last year, combined they had 455 plate appearances, with a .267/.303/.397 slash line and 115 hits, 23 doubles, 5 triples, 8 hr, 49 RBI, and 22 walks vs 77 K’s. Even with a platoon situation, is that what you want out of a corner IF spot?!?!? HELL NO, I say. I’d rather just give the job to Vitters and see what he could do…and you have to figure that given a full season, those guys could at least equal those numbers at the hot corner.

          LF:
          Ridling vs Soriano
          *Ridling has played OF and 1B, and is more athletic than Soriano, but with less power….however, he makes up for that with OBP and contact ability. He will give you at least 10 hr at the MLB level, and probably 50-60 RBI, but with FAR less K’s than Soriano and more walks. I could also throw Ty Wright into the mix, but he has even less RBI potential, and is essentially a replacement for Reed Johnson (which is also another example of which you’d rather have….Wright vs Johnson…MLB minimum, more patient hitter with high OBP vs free swinger, $1 million+, low OBP option in Johnson)

          CF:
          Jackson vs Byrd
          *This is NO contest…you take Jackson over him ANYDAY as starter

          So….I’m not really down on the Cubs prospects as you usually are. Do I think they are true starters at the MLB level? NOPE…But do I think they’re better than our current options? ABSOLUTELY!

          I’d much rather the Cubs sign Edwin Jackson, Buehrle, Fielder, Kubel, and Cuddyer, but that ain’t gonna happen.

          I’d much rather the Cubs trade for young guys like Gio Gonzalez, Gamel, Longoria, Montero, Banuelos, Betances, etc., but that ain’t gonna happen either.

          I think what Epstein might be trying to do is repeat what the Red Sox did in 2004 with some low-risk veteran signings, much like the already signed DeJesus.

          But the problem is, he already had the core of the team intact with Ortiz, Mueller, Damon, Ramirez, Millar, Varitek, Wakefield, Martinez, Lowe, etc.

          He added Schilling, Arroyo, Foulke, Bellhorn (though he replaced Walker, and statistically it was a wash), Cabrera and Roberts (midseason), and then Youkilis from their own system.

          The Cubs’ “core” that is intact is:
          Garza, Dempster, Zambrano, the entire pen pretty much, Soto, Barney, Castro, Soriano, and Byrd

          They don’t even have a starting 1B or 3B at this point, and both Soriano and Byrd have had poor offensive results in recent seasons, so they’re anything but the typical “core” you’d build around.

          The Cubs are going nowhere, and the longer this management team sits idly by, the longer it’ll take to rebuild this team into a contender.

          And now recent reports have both Pujols and Fielder resigning with the Cards and Brewers….WOW! Talk about a kick to the groin….it’s going to be a loooooooooooong year if that happens.

            

          • Jason Douglas

            Wells is a righty Glendon “Glooroo” Rusch.  Got lucky one season…not an MLB starter.  So no issue there.

            No love lost for Soto…he peaked too soon.  If only knock on Castillo is pitch selection, then have pitcher or mgr call the pitchers.  This ain’t rocket science, people…no excuses.

            Soriano is done.
            Aramis too expensive to keep and too old to build on, so he is understandably gone.

            Too many holes.  That is why I think this year is a short-term cheap fix type of year.  Give some farm guys a shot.

            Or…let’s swing some trades for some quality guys entering their primes.

            Maybe we add only one quality guy via trade, add a decent FA piece, and the rest is farm and cheap/short-term fixes.

            I am ok with that as my expectations are low for this year.  I just want to see progress and any large money deals being spent on quality.

            If Jackson is ready, put him in CF, and put Byrd in Soriano’s place (assuming you trade him).  Again…short-term fix plus give the farm system a try.

            But my view on the farm guys is if they are lights out, keep them.  If they are good, but not great…they are trade bait. 

            If they are bad…trade them in a hurry, before any perceived trade value is completely gone.