‘Tis the Season for the Cubs to Rebuild

For those that had any doubt what the Cubs’ plan is for the immediate future, Theo Epstein reiterated it Friday. “We value the season right in front of your face as important, but we’ve been pretty open about the fact if there’s a move that can’t serve our interests both now ad in the future, we’re probably going to err of the side of the future.” Epstein further explained, “We’re in the business right now of taking our short-term assets and turning them into long-term assets.”

As Bruce Miles reported, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer inherited a mess when they took over a couple of months ago and have few assets they can use to help build back a team that is coming off two fifth-place finishes.

The Sean Marshall trade is the first of what figures to be several moves over the coming weeks to turn short-term assets into long-term assets.

The Cubs are still looking to add more starting pitching depth at both the big league and minor league levels. Epstein said they are not “extraordinarily close to anything, but there are some things that are percolating that may or may not come to fruition.”

The Cubs have had “lots of conversations with lots of agents” in regards to adding starting pitching, relief pitching and position players … as well as talking to other teams about possible trades.

Here’s the update …

Matt Garza
According to Theo Epstein, “Matt Garza is the type of pitcher you want to build around. He’s a proven top-of-the-rotation guy, a proven performer in the playoffs. I think last year he had his best season, all things being equal. It’s hard to find top-of-the-rotation guys, so if you have them, and if there’s a way to keep them around, that’s always compelling for the club. With that said, we’ve been honest. We are in a mode where we have to listen on everybody. And if there’s a way to improve the long-term outlook for this club in a significant manner, we can’t look past opportunities.”

So are the Cubs looking to trade Garza … or sign him to a contract extension? The answer: Yes.

The Cubs have not decided how they would like to handle Matt Garza’s future with the team.

Epstein said, “In the case of Matt Garza, perhaps nothing happens, or perhaps we can turn him into a long-term asset by extending him on a deal that make sense for everybody. We’ll listen, because there’s always an active trade market for top-of-the-rotation guys with multiple years of control.”

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have had conversations with numerous teams about Garza. Levine’s sources indicated the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Royals talked to the Cubs about Garza at the Winter Meetings and the Yankees and Blue Jays are interested in Garza after missing out on Yu Darvish.

The Blue Jays may end up being the best match if the Cubs decide to trade Garza. According to Bruce Levine, the Jays’ number one pick from 2010, right-hander Deck McGuire, would be the focal point of any negotiations between the Cubs and Jays. Baseball America ranked McGuire as the Jays’ third best prospect prior to last season.

The 22-year old right-hander made it to Double-A in his first full season of pro ball and some think he is near-Major League ready. McGuire posted a 9-5 mark in High-A and Double-A with a 3.02 combined ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. In 23 games, 21 starts, McGuire struck out 124 batters with only 45 walks in 125 1/3 innings (109 hits).

Levine also stated the Cubs would inquire about the availability of LHP Justin Nicolino and power-hitting outfielder Jake Marisnick.

Justin Nicolino (ranked 20 in BA’s 2011 Jays’ preseason prospect list) was the Jays’ second round pick in the 2010 draft and in two stops last season (Low and High-A) he posted a 6-2 record in 15 games, 12 starts with a 1.33 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP (73 strikeouts, 12 walks and 39 hits allowed in 61 innings).

Jake Marisnick (ranked 11 in BA’s 2011 Jays’ preseason prospect list) was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft. The 20-year old (March 30, 1991), 6-foot-4, 200 pound outfielder put together a solid season in Low-A ball in 2011. Marisnick hit .320/.392/.496/.888 with 27 doubles, six triples and 14 home runs in 118 games.

Deck McGuire’s Page on Baseball-Reference
Justin Nicolino’s Page on Baseball-Reference
Jake Marisnick’s Page on Baseball-Reference

The Cubs are also preparing to talk to Garza’s agent about a long-term deal because they do not like the way the trade talks are going according to Bruce Levine.

News, Notes and Rumors
Theo Epstein: “I do believe this is a move that fits our general direction.”

Theo Epstein: “There is no doubt our bullpen just got weaker by losing Marshall. You can’t get around that. But I think our starting rotation just got stronger, and our farm system just got stronger. If Wood bounces back and he pitches the way he did in 2010, you can argue that maybe we even got getter for 2012. I think certainly, the future just got a little bit brighter with this type of move.”

Travis Wood and Dave Sappelt made their big league debut at Wrigley against the Cubs. Travis Wood gave up two runs on two hits with three walks and four strikeouts in seven innings on July 1, 2010. Wood received a no decision in a 3-2 victory for the Reds in 10 innings. Dave Sappelt went 1-for-5 and a run scored in his big league debut on August 7, 2011 in a Reds 8-7 win over the Cubs.

According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs are still interested in Paul Maholm, Jeff Francis and Coco Crisp … also the Cubs are looking into signing utlitymen.

According to Bruce Levine, attempts to move Alfonso Soriano to an American League team have been futile so far. The Cubs may have to eat upwards of $40 million of the $54 million owed to Soriano to move him. The money the Cubs would have to include in any trade for Soriano has to be paid within 18 months.

James Russell, Scott Maine, John Gaub and Jeff Beliveau will have to step up and fill the void left by Sean Marshall in the Cubs’ pen. Of the names mentioned by Theo Epstein, Jeff Beliveau is the one, other than Russell, to keep an eye on.

The Reds and Cubs started talking about the Sean Marshall deal during the GM Meetings in November.

During an interview on MLB Radio Network/XM Radio, Sean Marshall said the trade surprised him. Marshall got wind of the possibility about a week ago after Epstein talked to Marshall’s agent. Marshall started hearing rumblings about the Cubs looking to rebuild but the first real sign was Aramis Ramirez leaving. Marshall can see the master plan Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have that will lead to sustained success for the Cubs down the road.

Well, there’s the update … and Happy Christmas!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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  • woody34

    Looking into signing utilityman???  Are you kidding me?

    • Tony_Hall

      You can’t take every tweet and info as it’s the #1 priority.

      That was tweeted out this week, and doesn’t mean it’s true.

      Jon Heyman is a national guy, who includes the Cubs in every top free agent, and in any type of free agents.  He said on Thursday on MLB Network that the Cubs were still the front runner for Fielder.  

      Our own beat writers are not getting much info out of Clark and Addison, the national guys even less.  All this kind of info comes second hand, from players and agents, and even more comes from writers connecting the dots and deciding that is what is happening.

  • Tony_Hall

    ARam and Pena left via free agency

    Theo and Jed cut Koyie Hill (that alone should make people happy)

    Grabow wasn’t brought back, nor was Lopez or Ortiz 

    Whose next??

    Targets

    Alfonson Soriano (3 years $54M left)

    No one wants to pay much of his pay and teams will get the cash from the Cubs over the 18 months after they trade him, which leads to a trade closer to the start of the year, to be able to spread out the payments over 2 full season.  But in 2014, that team will then be paying out to Soriano $18M, with the majority of it coming out of their pockets after 2 free years.  

    Example: team agrees to pay $12M of Soriano’s contract leaving the Cubs $42M to pay.  The Cubs, instead of paying $18M in 2012, 2013, 2014 will pay $21M in 2012 and $21M in 2013 and have him off of their books for 2014.
     
    Team receiving him will be positive $3M in 2012, and $3M in 2014, but then in 2015, when he may be gone from their team will have to pay the $18M and have $6M from previous years (plus any payroll dollars they allocated to Soriano in 2012 and 2013, but most teams will spend the money in those years elsewhere)  This is why he is so difficult to trade, and it is at least getting close to possible at this point.

    Marlon Byrd (1 year $6.5M)

    Teams don’t seem to be lining up for Marlon either.  He will be traded, but most likely will be in June/July as teams will have more known needs at that point.  It also could coincide with a Brett Jackson arrival.  I’m all for it happening before the season starts.

    Geovany Soto (arbitration eligible, est $4M, FA after 2013)

    Teams don’t seem to be lining up for Geo either. His peak value was a couple of years ago, and it might take a team in spring training, deciding they want to add a catcher, and calling Jed back. Geo has been good for the Cubs every other year, so maybe he will have a good year, and increase his value in a trade.

    Carlos Zambrano (1 year $17.875M, unlikely option for 2013)

    Z is crazy, we all know that, but he is still our crazy, and until he is traded, I will believe he will be on the 25 man roster. If it gets to getting him to waive his no-trade to a team, he may not like, it might take a trip to the bullpen to get him to realize, he needs a good year, to increase his value, next off-season.

    Ryan Dempster (1 year, $14M)

    The good soldier, but the writing is on the wall, he’s not going to be coming back in 2013 and needs to look to his future, and waive his no-trade rights at some point.

    Out with the old, in with the new, Sell High/Buy Low, when possible.

    And today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow is our future.

    • Zonk

      Is that 18-mo rule a change in the new CBA?  Hadn’t heard that before.

      “We’re in the business right now of taking our short-term assets and turning them into long-term assets.”

      I like the Marshall trade in this context.  It’s a bad trade for 2012, and a good one for 2013+.  We aren’t contending next year, and though Theo and Co. would never say that out loud, they know it. 

      This is also why they need Garza here in the long-term, or gone. 

      Here is a question:  Would you take Lee, Archer, and Guyer BACK for Garza?  Was this still a good/bad trade?

      • Tony_Hall

        No, the 18 month has been around.  Neil looked into it a few years ago, when we first started talking about trading Soriano, and realized it was impossible, due to this clause.

        I like the Marshall trade.  1 year of Marshall  for 3 younger players, with many more years of control.  (yes Marshall could of signed an extension, but he still could, come back..I believe he will test free agency, no matter who he pitched for in 2012).

        They need to offer Garza an extension, and if he says no, then they need to trade him this year.

        It is still too early to say what the 5 prospects we traded to the Rays will turn into.  Lee is the one that I hated to see leave.  Bottom line, that trade made sense, IF, 2011 was going to be the year, but we were out of it in May, and it was crazy to think Garza was the missing piece to 2011.  Trading prospects for proven players, needs to happen as you are putting together the final pieces to a championship run.  So, short term, I like Garza, long term I want prospects (unless he signs the extension).

        • Binyow

          Hope they extend Garza. If they don’t Daniel Norris must be included into the trade.Deckmguire not enough.

    • Schwimmer

      Tony:  Thanks for the breakdown.

      Despite the clarity of your “payroll” breakdown for SORIANO…I don’t follow your math?  I think your example “over-complicates” the financial side of the transaction.  So, I’d like to ask you about it?

      Per your example, if a team is willing to pay $12m of the SORIANO’S $54m contract…they are going to get $42m from the CUBS (over 18 months).

      So, anyway you “slice and dice it,” that Team will have $42m in their bank account to cover the 3 years of SORIANO’S contract.

      And, they will know that their contract cost for him is ONLY $4m per year (i.e. $12m over 3 years).   So, all that Team has to budget for — is $4m per year for each of the next 3 years.  

      I don’t understand all that other math…and, your comment about “…And, that is why it is so difficult to trade” him.

      Please tell me if I am missing something?

      Budgeting for SORIANO’S — 3 year contract is totally NOT the issue that stops trading him.

      And, the problem with SORIANO’s contract has nothing to do with the “math” you showed.  Because in your example…the team is only paying $4m out of their pocket.”  That’s all.

      The problem with his contract is that (apparently) no team wants to commit $4m per year for 3 years for SORIANO to be their DH.   (Not to mention, a piss-poor defender.)  Right?  

      (e.g.) JIM THOME signed a 1 yr contract with the PHILLIES for $1.25m.  ERIC HINSKE is getting $1.50m.  So, if your main reason for signing a player — is to be your DH or “pinch-hitter,” I think most Teams want to pay “South” of $2.0m.  And, they want to do a 1 year contract.

      That is the problem with SORIANO…and, why no one wants him.  A 3 year commitment for him is a long time.  I think the CUBS will be lucky to get someone to take his contract at $2.0m per year for 3 years (and, maybe throw in a 2nd tier prospect).  At that price he is an “absolute” STEAL for Kansas City (e.g.)  

      I say the only way the CUBS get rid of SORIANO is to lower their asking price.  Or, just keep him on the bench as a “pinch-hitter.”

      By the way, let me “tip my cap” to you.  I’ve been reading this blog web site for the past year.  Your erudite comments along with your calm, sage-like analysis are — one of the reasons I look at this web site.  You, my friend have “stayed” Classy! :)

      Happy Holidays to all my fellow CUB fans…on this web site.

      • Tony_Hall

        Thank-you, I have always respected Neil and Brian’s call for staying classy, and only wish everyone could do that as well. State your opinion, and maybe you will change mine and others, but if you have to “go there” to prove your point, well you may not really have a point after all.

        As far as Soriano, absolutely it is because teams don’t want Soriano, and for 3 years that is the issue.  But his contract is difficult, and is just now getting to the point where the math can work.

        Your thought that a team needs to just budget the $4M/year is exactly right.  But we know that most people have a problem doing that. 

        Let’s say the Red Sox added Soriano and received the $21M in 2012, payed Soriano the $18M, took the $7M and put it in a Soriano account to pay him in 2014. If they did that both years, they would have the money to pay him in 2014.

        But, let’s say in 2012, they are missing an important piece to their team, and Matt Garza is the missing piece.  But they only have a few million left to spend.  They start looking through their desk drawers trying to find an extra $7-8M to pay Garza, and they see the special account for Soriano.  They say no, that’s for the future, but in the end they trade for Garza and spend that money.  

        That’s the problem, most teams will look at it like this:

        2012 – $21M in from Cubs – $18M to Soriano (net $3M)
        2013 – $21M in from Cubs – $18M to Soriano (net $3M)
        2014 – $18M to Soriano

        It’s no different than Dempster deferring some pay, to help sign another FA.  They just shifted the budget for that money down the road.

        Not saying a team couldn’t do it the right way, but the temptation will be there to spend it, and when they already aren’t sure they want Soriano, this puts them over the top.

        What we need is a GM, that needs to add a bat and needs a few more million to spend this year, on top of that.  We could trade them Soriano, who will be free for 2 years and give that GM $3M to spend in 2012 and 2013 and the next GM can figure out the mess that was left behind…sound familiar.

        • Anthony

          54-42=12

          no matter how you slice and dice, what is prepaid, what is deferred, the fact is the recipient club will pay 12M to Soriano out of their own pocket

          • Tony_Hall

            Absolutely right, but it does take cash flow into account, something any owner/president would be looking at closely before agreeing to a deal.

          • GaryLeeT

            So can the team that get’s Soriano, spend the money that’s above that year’s salary, or does it have to go in an escrow type of account?

          • Tony_Hall

            They should use an escrow account, but I don’t believe it is required.  Therein lies the temptation to spend it.  

        • Capngeo2002

          As long as it’s your, last-word-addiction, definition of internet cowardice, “classy”.  As always.

          • Tony_Hall

            You are classless, doesn’t surprise me that you don’t understand.

            Also, I just don’t get how you say “last-word-addiction” as I have no way to control everyone else and whether they will reply again.  You are free to reply to this one, and everyone else can do it as well.

            Plus, what is internet cowardice, Capngeo2002, hiding behind a screen name?    

            Merry  Christmas, anyway.

          • Capngeo2002

            Yes I know you bestoweth all the class upon your subjects, in this universe…so that’s covered.
            I’m not hiding.  I mean you actually went back and looked up every screen name I’ve used.  That is pathetic on an inter-galactic scale.
            Screen names are for fun.  Imagine that concept, “Tony”. 
            My guess is you have access to the email addresses as well.
            Feel free to contact me privately.  I’ll give you my address, you can save-up and in a few years, when you’ve saved enough, you can fly-out, to this exotic, far away port and lip-off in person.
            However, my 80 yr old folks still live in the area and I’ll be in town long before that.

    • cubtex

      And tomorrow you are drinking more Theo Kool Aid than today :)

      • Tony_Hall

        I’m sorry if I am giving Theo a chance to turn this franchise around.  Most on here gave him until he made one move, that went all negative as they looked at that one move by itself and how it would affect the 2012 World Series aspirations of this team.

        In everything we do, we can choose to see the good in it or the bad.  I am choosing to see the good in the moves that Theo is doing.  If others choose to see the bad, that is their choice, and will lead to some good conversations on here.  

        Theo has not lost 1 game for the Chicago Cubs, yet people are turning their distaste for JH straight to him. JH earned his negative criticism, over years of bad moves.  Theo should be given some time to make wholesale changes with this roster, before he deserves to be criticized for his moves.  I loved his line, “we are in the business of turning our short term assets, into long term assets”.  It’s about time!

        So, yes, I am fully stocked up on Theo Kool aide, and replenished my supply of Cubs goggles, if only too just make this team more enjoyable to follow.  Down the road, if Theo and Jed’s moves need to be criticized, I will do so, after they have earned it.

        • cubtex

          I am looking at each move that is made individually and disect it if is is good or bad imo. I don’t say….just cause JH or Theo made deal it is good or bad. Be objective!

          • Tony_Hall

            He hasn’t made a move yet, that impartial baseball people will say was horrible across the board.  

            The Marshall trade is a perfect example, most are saying the Cubs received a good return, even you are starting to like it, yet some on hear scream like it was the worst move they have ever seen. 

          • cubtex

            I do like the Marshall trade. I do not like the DeJesus signing and I do not like Ian Stewart as our 3rd baseman. Big market teams shouldn’t have to settle for those 2 players starting next year.

          • Tony_Hall

            We knew 3B was going to be a hole until we can develop Vitters or someone else.  Should a big market team have DJ Lemahieu as their 3B, or Baker, Dewitt…no way.  So then who should they have put at 3B?

            DeJesus, is fine, and I think you will actually like this guy, once you see him everyday, but same thing, who do you think they should have put there?

            Please remember that the player has to want to play for the Cubs in 2012 and any trades need to be where both teams fans hate the trade :)

          • cubtex

            I know that.
            There wasn’t anybody on the FA list who I would have loved to have…..but let’s get someone who has some pop for the corners. All DeJesus will be doing is wasting a spot for someone you can build with.

          • Tony_Hall

            But who?

            They plan to get rid of Byrd and Soriano, so the outfield won’t be crowded.

            And Stewart or Headley were the best 3B options.

        • cubtex

          I love Theo’s line about “Every opportunity to win is precious” as well.

          • Tony_Hall

            That doesn’t mean that 1 year, especially at the beginning of his tenure, is more important the the future years, actually if you will print the whole quote, he states just that.

            Most guys come in and try to make a splash and spend their way to a better team, only to realize those first moves, the splash, is what made the team hard to improve in the future.

          • cubtex

            couldn’t respond above it was too skinny…but to respond to your question about who are some names for the outfield…Remember, we have players to trade to get back some pieces.

            Here are a few names…Logan Morrison, Domonic Brown(Phillies are going for it and could probably use a Marmol in their bullpen) Jason Heyward(he had a big time sohomore slump and probably available) Dayon Viciedo(White Sox would trade anybody)

            Just a few names and many many more who I would rather see than a DeJesus

          • Tony_Hall

            All possible, and I will bet that our front office had discussion with these teams about these players.  

            I don’t see Heyward going anywhere, but the rest could happen, and still might, if they find a taker for Soriano  and/or Byrd.

            In case I don’t get another chance, I have enjoyed our discussions over the last year, and even when we disagree, I still see where you are coming from, most of the time :)

            Merry Christmas!

          • cubtex

            Me as well! Merry Christmas and will enjoy many more discussions in 2012

        • cubs1967

          let’s see; relying on a 3rd baseman with zero homers last year…..hmmmmmmm-how’s that for a chance for criticism??

          please……..you have the biggest man crush in the history of man crush’s on theo and jed.

          this team is gonna lose 100 games all day next year.

          and it doesn’t have to be this way.
          major market teams don’t do full rebuilds like this.

          only an owner like ricketts who thinks all fans are stupid drunk bleacher bums that show up no matter what would do this.

          he quit on the fans for the next 3 yrs with this route.

          if JH had made any of these moves; he’d been destroyed on this site.

          thanks tommyboy………can’t wait to pee in troughs next summer!……….what’s gonna stink more; the johns or the team?

          • cc002600

            ok, then, who would u want them to sign ?

          • Tony_Hall

            He won’t answer that, he just likes to rant and rave and throw out unrealistic options.

          • cubtex

            I will answer what I would like to see…..Trade for a young 1st baseman you can build with…example Anthony Rizzo,Trumbo etc. Trade Byrd,Soriano,Marmol,Barney and Z. Aquire Chris Coghlan from the Marlins. With the other trades you will probably get some other mlb ready or close to ready players. Now you have Rizzo/Trumbo at 1st,Castro locked in at SS,Coghlan in the outfield as possible long term options.

          • Tony_Hall

            And all of that could happen.  The trades out of players are all happening at some point, and we know they are wanting Rizzo.  But cubs1967 wouldn’t agree with your list, he wants them to keep spending money, buying up overpriced free agents.

          • Tony_Hall

            Maybe I will see you at the games, since you will be peeing in the troughs next year.

            Buy high/sell low – that is what you like, but wont’ admit it.

            Buy low/Sell high works better.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Neil your still doing a great job reporting on everything. Tony always enjoy reading your thoughts. On the Marshall trade so many have been negative about it, although Marshall is one of my favorites he is still just a reliever. The Cubs got a steal from the Reds IMHO, Wood has lots of upside and we already know he can pitch at the major league level. We got a good 2b prospect and a throw in. I would love to keep Garza but if we can get 3-4 prospects back that are close you can’t turn that down.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY CHANUKAH, TO ALL!

    • Tom U

      Patrick, Nice to see you here again. Try to make some Peoria games this year. They look like playoff material,

      Have a happy holidays.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Patrick, thank you. Great to hear from you! Happy Christmas!

  • Tonydann1984

    Soriano needs to stay. I can’t believe that people want him gone so bad that they think he is worth letting him go and paying millions to see him go! How do we replace his power. The cubs still haven’t got anyone with power to play first. I would like to see them get a speedy second base man.

    • Chadaudio

      The more I see how bad the market is for Soriano, the more I think he needs to stay. Just to be clear, it doesn’t seem like he is a good pinch hitter. It takes more then just some pop to be a good pinch hitter. But he is just too expensive to move this year.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs have had at least low-level contact with Brad Lidge

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/9625573-573/an-issue-of-control.html

    • Anthony

      Imagine this signing and a flyer on Oswalt, exit Zambrano to Miami or NYY for prospects, and exit Garza for near-ready prospects?

      • Agret14

        I like the idea of signing Lidge, and I would like to see him on a three year deal. A flyer on Oswalt (to eat innings on what promises to be a LONG year) and a dump of Z sounds great to me. The only disagreement I have with this is the trade of Garza. When i first think of it I really like the thought of 4 near-ready prospects on our team in place of Garza. But the more i think of it, i start to worry. This is why: the cubs will not b a winning team until unfortunately maybe 2014 and that may be pushing it. I can see them winning in 2013 but not a championship caliber team. If we don’t ink Garza to a mulit-year deal we WILL regret it..mark my word….because when were ready to win…who’s going to pitch for us? This is why a deal for Maholm sounds good to me also. But i can see everyone’s points in trading Garza..just doesnt work for me. Just my opinion. Merry Christmas!

  • cubs1967

    bruce levine is on crack; latos got traded for the #1 reds prospect plus 2 other top 10, why in the world would we trade garza and not get the #1 prospect plus 2 other top 10 minimum??  mcguire or not??

    of course, look at the crap we got for marshall.  only the 19 yr old can make the deal a winner.

    FYI……theo inherited a 93 win team in boston; he’s never started from ground zero—er castro and went up.

    the A’s  got better for gonzalez; and he’s not garza.

    levine should read BA top prospects before he feeds us that crap OR if true, this rebuild is missing the back end……the BUILD part; which is no gurantee any of this works….so NO 2015 won’t be a good team.

    chicago bucs……..small market…..rebuild with a BUILD??…..but for sure 103 yrs and counting……..on a downhill.

  • Anthony

    Thought I would open some discussion by position.

    The Cubs 2B Depth Chart:

    Darwin Barney
    Jeff Bianchi
    Jonathan Mota(SS)
    Nate Samson
    Logan Watkins
    David Macias
    Jake Opitz
    Matt Cerda
    Ronald Torreyes
    Arismendi Alcantara(SS)
    Rubi Silva
    Pierre LePage
    Gioskar Amaya
    Brian Inoa

    —–excluded Zeke DeVoss(to CF)
    —–excluded Cubs utility

    In several of my posts, I usually bring Farm talk into them, especially now that it appears Theo will continue making moves to add more prospects.

    As he adds more into an already crowded system, obviously something has to give, and the 2012 assignments should be very interesting. Possibly some prospects will be used as suit and tie compensation.

    The Cubs 1B Depth Chart:

    Bryan LaHair
    Jeff Baker(UTIL)
    Rebel Ridling
    Justin Bour
    Richard Jones
    Ryan Cuneo
    Paul Hoilman
    Rock Shoulders
    Dan Vogelbach
    Ryan Durrence
    Trevor Gretzky

    The Cubs SS Depth Chart:

    Starlin Castro
    (see multi 2B above)
    Junior Lake
    Elliot Soto
    Rafael Valdes
    Dustin Harrington
    Kenny Socorro
    Brad Zapenas
    Wes Darvill
    Javier Baez
    Danny Lockhart
    Marco Hernandez
    Carlos Penalver
    (Camp not listed—susp)

    The Cubs 3B Depth Chart:

    Ian Stewart
    Josh Vitters
    Blake DeWitt
    Marquez Smith
    Greg Rohan
    Dustin Geiger
    Wilson Contreras
    Jeimer Candelario
    Gregori Gonzales
    Mark Malave

    The Cubs C Depth Chart:

    Giovany Soto
    Steve Clevenger
    Welington Castillo
    Blake Lalli
    Michael Brenly
    Chad Noble
    Micah Gibbs
    Sergio Burruel
    Carlos Romero
    Rafael Lopez
    Yaniel Cabezas
    Neftali Rosario
    Taylor Davis
    Justin Marra
    Alberto Mineo

    The Cubs RF Depth Chart:

    David DeJesus
    Jim Adduci
    Nelson Perez
    Michael Burgess
    Abner Abreu
    Ben Klafczynski
    Anthony Giansanti(3B)
    Reggie Golden
    Eliecer Bonne
    Jeffrey Baez

    The Cubs LF Depth Chart:

    Alfonso Soriano
    Dave Sappelt
    Reed Johnson
    Ty Wright
    Evan Crawford
    Taiwan Easterling 
    Jesus Morelli
    Garrett Schlecht
    Eduardo Gonzales
    Kyung Min-Na
    Dong Yub-Kim

    The Cubs CF Depth Chart:

    Marlon Byrd
    Tony Campana
    Brett Jackson
    Jae-Hoon Ha
    Matt Szczur
    John Andreoli
    Zeke DeVoss
    Pin-Chieh Chen
    Trey Martin
    Oliver Zapata
    Shawon Dunston

    There may be some errors and omissions, but this is a snapshot for general discussion.

    Happy Holidays

    • Tom U

      Anthony, your excellent with your coverage of the minors! Here is some further information I have heard on some of those prospects:

      Logan Watkins will also see a lot action at short and centerfield, while Cerda may open as Tennessee’s third baseman. Inoa will also get some looks in the outfield.

      The organization will look really hard at Rock Shoulders, Mark Malave, and Anthony Giansanti at catcher. Shoulders and Malave will also get a shot at third. 

      The organization has been mum on exactly where and what position Junior Lake will play. 

      Add Luis Flores to the catcher list, if the organization welcome’s him back after his suspension. 

      Look forward to talking more minor league baseball with you. Have a happy holidays!

      • Anthony

        I heard about Giansanti possibly making the switch to Catcher as having one of the better guns in the system, and his technique is short-armed from behind the ear, so that makes sense.

        As much that has been said regarding Lake, and his plus arm, the size says 3B or possibly RF, and the other power arm is Klafczynski, who started clicking later in the season with the bat.

        Shoulders also at C, that makes sense also.

        • Aaron

          Moving Shoulders behind the plate would be a huge mistake in my opinion.

          Lake as an OF is VERY intriguing for the simple reason the Cubs have absolutely no power threats in the OF right now other than Brett Jackson…and Ridling (if you move him there more full-time from 1B)

          As for the Garza trade to the Jays Neil mentioned above….if the Cubs could get that type of haul, and expand the deal to maybe include both Garza and someone like Soto, or Byrd…or maybe even Soriano if the Cubs ate nearly all of his contract, then I think those 3 players he mentioned, along with Travis Snider  (whom they’ve reportedly soured on BIG TIME…even though he’s just 23), would go a very long way to improving the future for this team.

          And I believe, if you read between the lines of what Epstein and Hoyer have been saying regarding “long-term vs short-term assets”, this would appear to mean that Garza, Dempster, Soriano, Byrd, Soto, and Marmol are as good as gone.

          I believe the order might be:
          Garza
          Marmol (if they can sign Lidge)
          Byrd
          Soto
          Soriano
          Dempster

          Obviously, if they can include Byrd or Soriano along with Marmol or Garza, they probably would do that, just to get rid of them.

          After sleeping on the Marshall trade, I’m a little bit more optimistic….I just wish they could’ve landed another arm like Corcino in that deal instead of Sappelt…If that had happened, I would’ve been completely on board with it.

          • Anthony

            Tom, you are the go to guy as far as the Farm, so a few questions from your post……..

            It looks like Cerda has a 2B profile, but getting Torreyes in the trade and a solid prospect in Alcantara as a MIF, if they work Cerda at 3B, where do they work Rohan?

            A possible shift for Shoulders is probable considering splitting AB’s with Vogelbach would be counter-productive, and Vog is cemented as 1B position-wise by body type.

          • Tom U

            Its a little early to tell who is going where, but there appear to be some “bubbles” in the system. One of those is at third base. 

            Let’s start at the top. Vitters will probably open in Iowa, with Marquez Smith either released or relegated to back-up/DH duties. 

            But Tennessee appears to have a hole. Some think that Junior Lake may end up there, but Lake has been rumored to either possibly be in Iowa as their shortstop, or move to one of several positions (third, outfield, first, and even pitcher have been rumored). If that happens, Cerda’s previous experience at the position can provide a stop-gap until other prospects emerge. 

            Daytona is also a part of that bubble. There is no guarantee that Dustin Geiger will be ready to take over that position, so it may be split between Greg Rohan and Arismendy Alcantara until that shakes out. 

            That will open Peoria’s third base position to an underrated player in Wilson Contreras and possibly Jeimer Candelario. 

            I’ll address more of this in a fresh post, as this is starting to look a little narrow now. 

          • Anthony

            thanks Tom

    • paulcatanese

      Good post Anthony, wish I could comment on them, but have only seen a few (observation). I evaluate from that aspect.
      Have seen Campana and Byrd of course. Still have not seen B Jackson.Soriono and Johnson,yes.
      Have not seen one of the right fielders listed.
      Catching, anyone under Soto would do it, but then again limited viewing on the others.
      3B the only one I have seen there was DeWitt, and a glance did it for me.
      SS is a lock for Castro, dont see anyone on that list that would move him. Did see Lake play,and his glove is light years away for SS. Third may be an option. Also saw video clips of Baez and same thing, his glove hasnt arrived yet, and may never get there.
      2B, the only one I have seen is Barney, and as much as I like him I think it will definatly be open in ST.
      1B I like LaHair and hope he can pull it off..
      Those are the ones I have seen, but maybe not again this year
      should be many changes. But nice of you to put them all out there.

      • Anthony

        paul, this is directed to you, so other readers are not offended

        I have had the Opp to see lots of minor league baseball. Don’t read the boxscores like others, but try and attend games

        when someone on the internet trashes a player, they never seen them play, as they are all good, and talented

        • paulcatanese

          Thanks Anthony, I have seen a number of Minor League games, San Jose in the 80′s when I had a Son who played a little minor league ball, and myself as well in the 50,s.Watched my  other Son pitch two years for Tulane.
          It was truly amazing to see the talent that was there and wonder what it took to make it.

          • paulcatanese

            Anthony, I was lucky enough to be on the same team with three very talented ballplayers back in the 50,s,
            Donny Thompson (Yankee system), Frank Shell(Detroit system) and Joe Hicks (White Sox system, and several years in the bigs). Watching these guys play was a great treat, and again wondered, what did it take?

  • paulcatanese

    Stupid me, and all these years I thought Baseball was a sport.

  • Tom U

    Welcome back everyone, now to continue the infield discussion.

    The addition of Torreyes adds a lot of intrigue to the minor league infield situation. I expect him to open in Peoria, but maybe not be there for very long. 

    Like I said in the last post, Lake holds the key as to where a lot of the other players in the system end up, but Torreyes will also figure in.

    If Torreyes continues to rake the way he did last year, not only will the idea of Zeke DeVoss and Rubi Silva at second be probably shelved, the organization will probably have to rethink Alcantara and Logan Watkins. 

    Alcantara’s best defensive position right now is second, but at 20 years old can still be looked at either at short or in the outfield. He has a plus arm to be able to make the conversion. Elliot Soto is probably the system’s best infield defender, and is a capable batter. He probably won’t be moved off of short easily, especially in the pitching rich Florida State League, where defense is a premium.

    If Torreyes rises in the system the way it is projected, then he can cause a lot of movement in the system. That may end up with Watkins playing a lot of short in Tennessee, or perhaps in the outfield.  Cerda will be moved to a more natural position of second base, while third can be filled by Rohan.

    As I said, it’s still to early to tell, and a lot can happen between now and the start of the season, but it’s good  to get to talk about the prospects.

    • Anthony

      Good report. I have seen Alcantara play, and the term baseball player comes to mind, has the tools and ability to shift, but wouldn’t his only OF shot be CF based on his physical profile?

      Also, that would also clog up CF even more, where DeVoss is likely to get reps. Silva and what position he plays is a mystery, and his hitting line in 2011 was spot on with the scouting report, he hacks away, and how will he adapt to the Theo Handbook.

      Saw Torreyes play a few times. Pesky, and a good take in the trade.

      If I were to guess on Lake, 3B, corner OF, traded!

    • Dorasaga

      Tom, here’s a question. When you said “the pitching rich Florida State League, where defense is a premium,” do you mean the Daytona Cubs is lacking another good defense down the middle line, or do you mean that the whole league needs more defense because of the better pitcher-friendly environment?

      • Tom U

        The pitching friendly environment ( warm temperature, consistent weather pattern, high humidity) can lull some pitchers into mistakes. Having a good defense makes up for some of them. Having a good defensive shortstop seems to settle an infield, which Soto can provide. 

        The system has some really good up the middle infield defenders, including Soto and Watkins. Some others are Cerda, Pierre LePage, Kenny Socorro, and Brad Zapenas. Developing defenders with good potential are Wes Darvill, Marco Hernandez, and Carlos Penalver. “Wait and See” ‘s are Jeff Bianchi, Javier Baez, Danny Lockhart, and John Ortega. 

        • Dorasaga

          Thanks, Tom, for the details. This explains the situation.

          I was thinking we might want to look at a pitcher’s environment and his team’s defense of a certain position as separate parts, if we meant objective stats and observations.

          But I cannot tell if a Watkins can tremendously help a Dolis to regain command with men on base. I guess as a former shortstop (digging into your November Farm Report right now), Dolis will know if his middle defenders are backing him up or not.

  • paulcatanese

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all on the site(before I forget It).

    • Aaron

      Merry Christmas to you too, Paul….and everyone else…I hope you have a great New Year…and may we all celebrate the most unlikely of championships on the North Side!

    • cubtex

      Merry Christmas to everyone as well! May everyones New Year be filled with health,wealth and a team on the North Side with some promise! Highly unlikely for a championship in 2012….but NO reason why we can’t be talking a championship for 2013! We will have Z off the books next year,Demp and Byrd…another 40 mil plus.

      • RynoTiger

        but it doesn’t mean that the 40mil plus will be spent like you think or hope..or spent at all

        • cubtex

          Well they didn’t spend that money that came off the books this year….ARam,Silva,Fuko,Grabow, and part of Pena either….so they better make a splash after this 2012 rebuild.

          • Tony_Hall

            They will spend when it makes sense, but not to just make a splash.

            I see us being players when teams need to unload young players who are getting expensive (AGon was 1 example of teams doing this).  That is why they want to stockpile young players, to have more inventory to be able to develop our own and trade off the ones that don’t fit their style.

            Lincecum and/or Cain are two examples of pitchers on a team that may or may not be able to afford to keep them in the next few off-seasons.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Happy Christmas Paul!

  • Coolpdxcubsfan

    Thank you ever so much Neil for this fine site. I know it is a lot of work and requires a lot of personal sacrifice.
    I hope you and your family have a great holiday season with a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year following such a successful year here. Please keep it coming, it is great.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you very much. Happy Christmas to you and your family.

  • Tno13

    Merry Christmas to all, and a special thank you to Neil and Tom U for their tireless efforts and commitment to the best Cub site on the net.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you very much. Have a great Christmas.

    • Tom U

      Thank you

  • diehardcubfan

    Merry Christmas Everyone!!

  • Agustinrexach

    Neil and Abby, Merry Christmas to you and thanks! Brian/Sean/Tom U the CCO family! Jim Tinley, I cant wait to see those words again…Nation Represents.  Aaron until I read a post from you every day I feel there is something missing…Theo should hire you too since he appears to be on the way of restocking his farm system suits! JimK!!!Hope you are supervising every move! Gramps! Suzy…Hey Hey! Anyway…To Old ones and the new, thanks for making this a great site where strong, serious and intelligent debate is “A way of Life”! and remember “we are just 2-3 moves away from contending!”_JH

    • Tom U

      Thank you

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Agustin, Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for the kind words.

  • Gramps

    Merry Christmas to all connected with this site! It is a present each and every day! GO CUBS!

  • Chuck

    Merry Christmas to Neil, Tom and all the Cub faithful from the hottest spot in the U.S. this Christmas week, Fort Myers, FL.  I can’t wait to make my annual visit to the Cubs Convention.  Go Cubs!!!