More Noise and Rumors than Action for the Cubs

Another one of baseball’s big ticket players came off the board late Monday night. The Texas Rangers won the Yu Darvish sweepstakes by bidding a record $51.7 million for the rights to negotiate a contract with the right-hander. The Cubs reportedly submitted a bid and if they were interested … they can forget Yu.

The speculation and rumors figure to increase over the next 24-48 hours in the wake of the Rangers posting the winning bid on Yu Darvish. Texas was one of the teams rumored to be interested in signing Prince Fielder as well as trading for Matt Garza. Not only did Scott Boras lose a big bargaining chip but the Cubs lost a possible trading partner for Garza … if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are really looking to move him.

Prior to the Darvish announcement, Ken Rosenthal reported the Blue Jays could increase their pursuit of Matt Garza if they lost out on Yu Darvish. The Cubs are “drawing heavy interest” in both Garza and Sean Marshall according to Rosenthal.

The Cubs made another addition to the front office according to a report from WEEI in Boston. Theo Epstein hired Matt Dorey to be a national cross-checker. Dorey has been an area scout for the Red Sox for the last four years after Jason McLeod hired him in 2007. The Boston media also reported that Theo Epstein cannot hire another member of the Red Sox organization for the next three years.

Here’s the update …

Yoenis Cespedes
According to Enrique Rojas, Yoenis Cespedes should receive residency in the Dominican Republic this week. Cespedes has to become a resident of the Dominican Republic before he can be signed by a Major League team.

The Cubs are thought to be one of many teams interested in signing Yoenis Cespedes … who could be looking at a $60 million contract.

Anthony Rizzo
Could trading for Anthony Rizzo fit the Cubs’ long-term plan more than signing Prince Fielder?

Rizzo seemingly became available on Saturday when Josh Byrnes sent Mat Latos to the Reds for Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Brad Boxberger and Yasmani Grandal. With the addition of Alonso to the Padres’ system, Rizzo slipped behind behind Alonso, Jesus Guzman and possibly Kyle Blanks on the Padres’ first base depth chart.

During an interview on XM Radio, Josh Byrnes said his phone starting blowing up as soon as the Latos trade was announced on Saturday … not about the trade itself but about the availability of Anthony Rizzo.

Baseball America recently named Anthony Rizzo the top prospect in the Padres organization … a ranking that could change with the haul San Diego received from the Reds.

Here is Baseball America’s scouting report on the 22-year old lefty first baseman:

Scouting Report: He’s not Gonzalez, but Rizzo isn’t far away from succeeding him as the most dangerous hitter in San Diego’s lineup. To do so, he’ll have to make adjustments after big league pitchers were able to exploit the length and uppercut in his swing with quality fastballs up in the zone. He needs to stay on top of the ball and level out his stroke to make more contact and hit more line drives. Rizzo started to pull inside pitches for power Double-A, and he hit 23 of his 27 homers in 2011 to right or right-center field–but that’s the most difficult way for a power hitter to thrive at spacious Petco Park. Strikeouts always will be a byproduct of Rizzo’s plus power, though he led all big league rookies with at least 100 plate appearances with a 14 percent walk rate. Like many lefty power hitters, Rizzo struggles versus southpaws–he hit .245/.312/.409 against them in Double-A and Triple-A–but his strike-zone awareness should enable him to hit for a decent average. He receives solid to plus grades for his defense at first base, where he displays smooth actions and good arm strength. He still needs to improve his defensive consistency, however, after committing 30 errors in the last two seasons. He’s a below-average runner, as expected for a player his size.

The Future: Rizzo could develop into a .270 hitter capable of producing 30 homers and a healthy amount of walks on an annual basis.

Chris Bosio on XM Radio
The Cubs’ new pitching coach joined Jeff Joyce and Mel Antonen during Home Plate (MLB Radio Network/XM Radio) on Sunday afternoon. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Chris Bosio has been in Arizona at the Cubs’ facility watching video. Bosio admitted it is going to take time to learn the Cubs’ existing staff because other than scouting them from behind home plate (during time with Brewers) he does not know them. He explained the coaching staff is not going to mess with the pitchers at first until they see what they have.
  • Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s total baseball knowledge impressed Bosio. He sees why the Ricketts family went so hard after Epstein and Hoyer. Bosio said, “There’s something special there.”
  • The Cubs plan to find a happy medium between old and new pitching philosophies. Bosio explained there is a way to combine old school baseball with the new analytical philosophies in order to exploit the other team’s defencies.
  • Bosio described Carlos Zambrano as a guy with extreme passion and they have to figure out a way to channel his fire and passion. Bosio added that Zambrano is going to be a good performer and good teammate for the Cubs this year.
  • Bosio said that video, scouting and preparation will play a big role in the way he prepares his staff.
  • As for Carlos Marmol, he needs to establish his fastball and use it more. Bosio explained that pitchers can go through days, weeks, months and seasons in which they fall into rut in which they rely one on pitch too much.
  • Bosio added that Carlos Marmol has a great arm and is a good competitor from what he’s seen. He has also been told that there are several things that people have tried to change with Marmol over the years. Bosio does not plan to do that off the bat. He would like to see Marmol come into Spring Training and be himself and if necessary they can make adjustments from there.
  • The topic of pitch counts was discussed. Bosio wants his pitchers to find a good tempo. He would like to see the pitch counts extended and that will come with conditioning.
  • The sound of the ball coming off the bat will tell when a pitcher is done for the day.
  • The Cubs plan on playing matchups in the pen to win games.

Chris Bosio came off as being extremely confident and did not mince words during his interview on XM Radio. It was refreshing to hear a coach on the Cubs’ staff speak the way he did on Sunday afternoon.

News, Notes and Rumors

John Grabow inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers over the weekend that includes a non-roster invite (NRI) to big league camp.

Mike Cameron signed a minor league contract with the Nationals on Monday. The Nats were one of the teams rumored to have interest in Marlon Byrd … and still could be interested; Cameron’s better days are behind him.

According to Bruce Levine, the reality of the Cubs signing Prince Fielder “may be a stretch at this point.” The Cubs could still put a bid in on him “but it may not be for the amount of years he is looking for.”

There seems to be a lot of concern as to why Kerry Wood has yet to re-sign with the Cubs. Why rush? What is to say the Cubs and Wood have not already agreed on a new contract and a part of the handshake agreement is the two sides would not announce the deal for a while? The unused roster spot would give the Cubs’ new regime a little flexibility and time to make other decisions.

Phil Rogers joined Power Alley (XM Radio) on Monday morning. Rogers passed along quite a bit of info regarding the Cubs. According to Rogers, the Cubs are interested in Anthony Rizzo but are not looking to block Bryan LaHair. The Cubs are trying to find a team to trade Alfonso Soriano to, which could create a spot for LaHair. Rogers thinks the Cubs are still very interested in Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.

Look for the Cubs to go shopping for value according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. Pitchers like Paul Maholm, Joe Saunders and possibly Tim Wakefield fit into the Cubs off-season profile.

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

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Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein