Two Minor Signings, A Front Office Hiring … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Three announcements came out of the offices of 1060 West Addison on the final Friday of Twenty-Eleven … and more rumors on what the Cubs next move, or moves, might be.

According to a report from Baseball America, the Cubs signed two Cuban prospects … but not the ones that have been in the headlines of late.

The Cubs inked 18-year old (turns 19 on January 9) outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and 20-year old right-hander Carlos Martinez. Both players are represented by Jamie Torres, the same representative Rubi Silva and Yaniel Cabeza had when they signed with the Cubs last December.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer also added to their front office staff. The Cubs hired Kyle Evans, a former Major League scout for the Red Sox, to run their video and advance scouting department according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi.

On the rumor front, the Matt Garza talk continued to make headlines. As the CCO reported earlier in the week, the Tigers have shown interest in Matt Garza according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi. The Cubs are looking for a big return in exchange for Garza and reportedly asked the Tigers for a package of prospects that included Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos. According to Jim Bowden, Dave Dombrowski thought that price was a little too high to pay for Matt Garza.

With the 27th Annual Cubs Convention less than two weeks away, here’s the update …

Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez
The Cubs added two young players to their minor league system according to Baseball America.

Yasiel Balaguert, the soon-to-be-19-year old outfielder is 6 feet, 190 pounds and according to BA he has modest tools and a strong, thick-bodied frame. Balaguert shows occasional power with a quick bat and good extension. Balaguert has a long, upper-cut swing and the right-hander is aggressive at the plate with a pull-oriented approach.

Balaguert shows solid defensive instincts and route running with 40-45 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) speed. His near average arm might end up playing better in left than it has in centerfield.

Carlos Martinez, a 6-foot-4, 215 pound right hander throws a fastball consistently in the low 90s and a breaking ball that needs work.

Both players are young and appear to have upside … but also figure to be long-term projects.

Kyle Evans
The hiring of Kyle Evans comes as no real surprise. A report from WEEI ten days ago said Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were planning on hiring Evans to their staff.

Evans could (and should) have an impact on the way the big league team performs on a daily basis. The Cubs have needed the right advanced scouts for years and Evans should help Dale Sveum prepare his team.

The Cubs plan to utilize scouting reports, analytical data and video to produce easy-to-digest information that is most applicable on the field.

Evans worked with Epstein and Hoyer in Boston but the hiring does not break the agreement the Sox and Cubs made that Epstein would not hire another current Red Sox employee for three years (after the 2014 season)

Matt Garza
According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, interest in Matt Garza has picked up and multiple teams are aggressively pursuing the Cubs’ right-hander.

The Tigers have been linked to Garza in recent weeks, along with the Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox.

According to Morosi, the Yankees are interested in Garza but are not currently engaged in talks with the Cubs due to what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are asking for in return.

As for the Jays interest in Garza, according to Morosi there has been no recent momentum toward a deal … and as the CCO has reported, Boston is interested but do not appear to have a suitable package for Garza after using their better prospects to acquire Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon.

The Cubs are listening to offers for Matt Garza, but will they find a package they deem suitable for a pitcher with two years of team control left?

News, Notes and Rumors

The Marlon Byrd rumors have started to heat up. According to a report from ESPN.com, Byrd could be a fit in either Washington or Boston. Buster Olney reported that Byrd could be a nice one-year solution for the Nationals next season. This is not the first time Byrd has been linked to either the Nationals or the Red Sox this off-season.

The Cubs finally made the hiring of Bill Buckner official … the former Cub will serve as the hitting coach for the Boise Hawks next season.

According to a report from Jon Heyman, a current player on the Nationals roster said his team is shooting to sign Prince Fielder.

For those that have yet to check it out, one of the best baseball resources on the net has finally switched to its new home. Cot’s Contracts has moved to Baseball Prospectus … click here to see how Jeff has improved his great site.

And last, but not least, Jed and Merill Hoyer welcomed their son, Beckett, into the world on Thursday … the same day Theo Epstein turned 38 years old.

Well, there’s the update … and Happy New Year!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time." - Betsy Smith

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  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Everything i’ve read around the net keeps saying the Cubs asking price is too high i think we may end up keeping him and extending him.

  • Nathan

    If the teams think the asking price is too high the Cubs should keep Garza. They should only trade him for what they believe he’s worth or be happy to keep him. If the Cubs were anxious to trade him, he’d be long gone. Build a team around him (especially since the starting pitcher market next year is awesome

  • mutantbeast

    Ive heard the Tigers might want to trade Porcello as part of the package for Garza. Id rather keep Garza-Porcello walks per 9 above 4 , ERA over 4.5 and hes pitching half his games in spacious Comerica with a good defensive team. Sorry, Tigers, but you can keep Rick Porcello. The talks start with Jacob Turner.

  • daverj

    Sounds like this Garza thing may drag on for a bit … which I think is a good thing.  If we can get a king’s ransom for him, then let’s make the deal.  Otherwise, let’s hold on to him.

    • cubtex

      Agreed. I really thought this ould be done by now….but obviously Theo is holding out for the best package. Like you said…if they don’t get what they want…hold onto Garza. They don’t have to trade him now.

  • Spoda17

    I don’t necessarily think “baseball” thinks the price for Garza is too high… especially with the Gonzalez and Latos packages, and they are not as good as Garza.

    I think the Yankees don’t want to give up their prospects, and the others are mulling just like we did when we got Garza.  This is a tough decision for teams.  I’m confident a deal will be done by the end of next week.

    I think there is a 100% chance Garza is not with the Cubs for ST.  I don’t even think we will wait for July… I think it will be done in a week, two at the most, and I think the Jays will do the deal.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Gaza is more exspensive with less years of control though. I know he is a superior pitcher.

  • Anthony

    according to “sources within the organization”   lol,

    The Tigers package seems to be a good one, and they need a 2B, and Barney came up in the package.

    A Vitters/Lake to SD is also a minor league trade rumor

    • cubtex

      Vitters/Lake for Rizzo? If they can get Castellanos from the Tigers in the Garza deal…then that would make sense.

      • Anthony

        Agree

        Two arms, Nick C, and another two prospects for Garza and Barney.

        The two arms might include Oliver, a hard throwing LHP and one of the Top 10 kids.

        I don’t see Vitters as an OF. I like the hit tool, but he is a tweener profile, but still young to get better, in SD

        Rizzo, if traded, can spend a nice summer in Iowa while LaHair gets to play, and don’t be surprised if he rakes,becomes one of those assets that becomes a future trade piece?

        Me thinks classic profiling without steroids will be how teams are assembled once again,

        in my opinion

    • KevininSandiego

      Where did you see this?

      • Aaron

        from his own Twitter page

        • Anthony

          sources, from within the Tigers organization…lol

          • Aaron

            If the trade with Vitters/Lake is between the Cubs-Padres, then why the hell would anyone from the Tigers be in the loop?

          • Anthony

            the post was about Garza and Motown

        • J Daniel

          whose page?

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I know they need a 2b but where did u read that.

  • Spoda17

    I like John Heyman, but if you rely on a player for your news… not a good source.  Maybe just me, but I would think that players have no idea what the team is doing behind closed doors.  Damn, most managers don’t…

    • Aaron

      not necessarily…agents are involved and routinely speak to their clients about deals in latter stages of the process. If the players in question happen to share the same agent/agency, then they are often times very much in the loop, especially if that player might be going to their team. The key is to follow the trail.

      • Spoda17

        Maybe, but I can’t really see Boras, or the “player’s” agent telling a player, that the team is really going after Fielder, and it be credible.  If the agent is telling the player, it is the same ole rumor mill we all are hearing.  I’m just saying I don’t see that as a solid source, just another speculation…

  • Spoda17

    One more thing to add on Garza.  I really never liked the trade to get him here, but I do like his spirit and competitiveness. 

    I like the Detroit possibility more than I like the Toronto scenario… I think we will trade Garza, if we don’t oh well, and we then should sign him to a 4-5 year extension now if we don’t trade him (that would make him 34 at then end of the deal, and he can do the one year contracts circuit).

    So trade him now and a good package.

  • Anthony

    Garza was on the board when Theo chose Ellsbury, Matt picked two spots after

  • Jeff in AZ

    Happy New Year to my fellow Cubs faithful. Been following this site since 2004 and I am looking forward to reading more fabulous articles from Neil, Brian, an Tom. I also am excited to follow the team in 2012 while chatting with all of you! We don’t always agree but I think we all share the same hope of prosperity for our beloved Cubs in 2012 and beyond!

    ”Stay Classy” in 2012 my friends!

  • Anthony

    SD just made a nice deal, Quent would have been a better option than what Theo signed

    • Aaron

      wow…..white sox fans must be raging with that pathetic return….2 very crappy pitchers for a perennial 20+hr guy…..wow

      • Aaron

        makes you wonder if we could’ve had him for Jay Jackson and Coleman

        • cubs1967

          no……cuz the cubs are quitting in 2012 and quentin is old (29)-see marshall and therefore not what the middle market chicago bucs would shoot for…….

          like mcnutt and jackson would not of been plenty plus fielder, ed jackson, keep marshall, all under 30 this team so could of won the division; instead 3 yrs of quitting-er rebuilding.

          what a farce!

          • OttawaBob

            they could of so not beat out the Reds, Cards Brewers…………give it a rest man.

          • 43hopping

            Oh yes another division champion whoopee!! It doesn’t mean anything without winning the World Series

            So in your scenario what is the plan if Mcnutt is a bust at the majors, Marshal decides to leave the team, and Fielder is injured or can’t perform because of his weight?

            Your plan could set this team back another 5 years with another huge contract they can’t unload.

          • cubs1967

            oh i’m sorry………’cuz travis wood is the next cy young!

            geez…….

          • 43hopping

            Who said Wood is Cy Young??

            I was just pouting out that if Fielder gets injured or can’t perform you would have millions tied up and getting nothing in return. With this money tied up the team can’t get one of the better. FA pitchers when they hit the market.

            Why spend money just to with another division and go nowhere in the playoffs?

            That is my point GEEEZZZ!!!!

          • J Daniel

            I don’t agree that they are quitting.  This thing was in a complete mess!  We all know that.  It has to be cleaned out or it will continue to be the same.

            The way they are going . . . Aaron may get his wish . . . see many of the kids.  Can’t be worse, can it?  I have not been able to stomach much the last 2 seasons.

            There are still many players that can help that are available.  Also, they may have a plan such as Aaron suggested – I believe yesterday – with Cain and others.  The plan may be to unload as many as they can for as many prospects as they can get.  Throw in last years draft, another draft to come, and there might be enough to get started.

            Not that Bowden knows anything but he suggested something along this lines before Theo was hired.  He said the Cubs need to blow it up – trade for as many prospects as they can get, throw money into the draft, and go from there.

            I am all for trading Byrd, Soto, obviously Soto, Marmol, and Dempster (he is probably not in plans after next year anyways).

            I am all for a Garza trade as well if the right prospects can be brought back.  If not now someone at the deadline will be willing to part with the guys then.

            Not sure about anyone else but I don’t think it can get any worse?  In fact, I think playing guys like LaHair, Jackson, either of the catchers, Castro, DeJesus, and Stewart you will see a much more fundamental team that will grind out the game more.  I think they will play harder and more unselfish.

            I still think they should sign Fielder though.  Even though they may not be ready to win next year, which will be the argument, are they planning on starting to win in 2 or 3 years?  If so, Fielder will still help then.

      • cubtex

        I agree with you Aaron! What is Kenny Williams doing? 2 below average prospects for a major league power bat? I guess Cubs fans could have it worse these days……..It has to suck to be a White Sox fan these days :)

        • J Daniel

          It is nice to see the other side stuck with the bad contracts.  They are now where the Cubs were 2 years ago with the contracts and hoping they perform to prior levels.  If not, it will be bad on the south side.  But at least the won a series!

        • Ripsnorter1

          Keeeeenny is dismantling the White Sox…KC is better now.

    • Tony_Hall

      From Keith Law, doesn’t sound like he would have been a better fit.

      “Carlos Quentin is a poor defensive outfielder who has great secondary skills, including above-average power and solid plate discipline, but a career .253 BABIP across over 2,400 major league PA and a history of injuries that should concern an NL team that is going to pretend he can play the field 150 games a year. He could have plenty of value for an AL club hoping he’ll make a contract push, particularly in terms of keeping himself on the field as much as possible, but in San Diego — where there’s no DH, defense is more important and the ballpark is big — he’s a mediocre fit.”

  • paulcatanese

    It seems as though every time Theo signs a new player, he adds another suit, Anyone have any idea what the ratio is? And when do we hear anything from the manager? He’s been pretty quiet.

    • Anthony

      well paul, two more ham and pickle sandwiches, and a video analyst to show the pitchers where not to throw it, down the middle…………lol

      • paulcatanese

        Its a waste of time showing the tapes to Marmol, he hasnt even found the plate in a long time.

    • cubs1967

      what’s the point of hearing from sveum……..to talk about what?? how the goal is not to lose 100 games this year??

      svuem got signed; saw his best reliever get traded to a division rival for the LH casey coleman and now may lose his best starter for more suspects……….

      plus Z and Sori are on this team…….

      i’d be quiet too……….

      • paulcatanese

        It would have been nice to know we have a manager and a GM as well, why hire them at all if all we ever hear from is Theo?

        • cubtex

          Yea and another former Red Sox suit…go figure :)

      • daverj

        Where is this Travis Wood/Casey Coleman comparison coming from?  I’ve watched both pitch a number of times and am pretty familiar with both pitcher’s skills, stuff, and stats.  I don’t see the comparison.  Please explain.

    • Jeff in AZ

      This “suit” was hired 10 days ago and was just made final this weekend. The position of advanced scout is probably one of the most important positions within management. As Neil said in his article, the cubs have needed a solid advanced scout for many years.

      • paulcatanese

        Thats all well and good. But do all of the hirings have to come from the Red Sox? Or at least 80% of them? What that says to me is that Theo dosent have too much confidence outside of the oraginization that he left.
        I am not putting him down in any way but really not too happy the way things are progressing.
        Don’t like to see the little value that is being placed on the Cub minor league system as the signings of injured players or the ones that have had bad years.
        Too much emphasis put on players being able to turn it around after poor seasons, thats a pretty big assumption that he is making about these guys.

  • cubs1967

    mlbtradrumors.com has  a poll for where pena will sign.  brewers are the favs.  ouch………..so far we get to see aram and marshal stick it to the middle market iowa wrigley cubs; but now pena could too…..

    damn…………like 100 losses won’t be bad enought next year!

    • paulcatanese

      I would hope Pena will go to the American League, can’t stand watching those ten minute at bats that result in a strikeout.

      • Anthony

        Cleveland

    • Jeff in AZ

      Those 3 players you just mentioned were part of the 2011 cubs. I’m actually looking forward to playing them.

  • Anthony

    Well, so far you have these positions filled:

    SS Castro
    LF Soriano
    C Soto(platoon)

    If you want to pencil in the rest before they earn it out of ST, go right ahead, but every other position is WIDE OPEN

    Here’s an Idea!

    Invite every minor league player to ST at the same time as the big club instead of 2 weeks later. After the first week, assign the rosters for the A/AA/AAA teams, and have them all play the Cubs team a few times each, and see what develops.

    Bet you would see some leapfrogging.

    This great effort to “improve the Farm” when the stink is really coming from the big club is confusing considering the Cubs minor league teams had some solid results, whether in wins or stats, or playoffs, or league Titles.

    The player who supposedly blocked Vitters is gone, and they sign a speculation 3B?

    Pena was signed after LaHair, obviously the old regime wasn’t sold.

    Byrd………………..nothing to say quite honestly, while a Brad Snyder type rotted in AAA? A former 1st rounder, then add a DeJesus?

    DJL, MG and Flaherty, not in the plans, enter Bianchi, on speculation, of course, why not?

    Add 20 or so analysts in a suit and tie with laptops and video software.

    Sign a few more ham and pickle sandwiches for the DSL

    Hope some kids get to play because there aren’t many BLOCKERS anymore, it is the OPEN to any and all, in my opinion.

    • cubtex

      I think you can pencil in Stewart and DeJesus. The didn’t aquire them to sit. Unless Barney is traded….he will probably start the season as the starter as well.

      • Anthony

        not me, go right ahead

        they don’t allow me to make out the lineup

  • paulcatanese

    Happy New Year to all on the site, tommorow the Cubs are undefeated for the year, lets all hope the streak keeps going.

    • Dorasaga

      You too. (Well played.)

  • Anthony

    All you Rizzo fans, a question.

    Why did SD want Alonso back in the trade when they have Rizzo?

    • cubtex

      He was their best prospect. Why would the Cubs want Profar back from the Rangers if we have Castro. Same reasoning. You get the best players no matter who is in front of them.

      • Anthony

        I am aware of adding trading chips when you can get them.

        But the move implies a tad of negativity by SD with the leapfrog.

        This has a little “park factor” involved, i.e contact(hits) versus raw(HR’s becoming FO’s)

        Profar wouldn’t be my 1st choice even if I didn’t have a Castro at SS

        • cubtex

          Have you seen him play? I haven’t in person…but if you watch his video on youtube he had exceptional skills. Very polished in the field.
          As a hitter….he is a slasher but he has very quick hands and runs very well too.

          • Anthony

            just video, he’s 18 only, positioned himself during lots of fungoes on the short hop?

            in a trade with Texas, not an immediate Cubs need

            hitting, saw an aggressive approach, impatient, and lots of front foot from offspeed pitches

            only 18, no rush

          • paulcatanese

            Whoa! are you suggesting a move to the right for Castro?:)

          • cubtex

            not yet my man :)

  • Dorasaga

    Interesting piece of selected interviews: When GMs in basketball meet baseball–here are stuffs related to the Cubs GM,

    “Basketball teams can learn from baseball’s brightest minds and best-run franchises… For example, [Houston Rockets general manager] Morey stays in touch with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, who says sharing information across sports is considerably easier than doing so within MLB.”

    “I’m a sports fan,” Hoyer explained. “I enjoy watching other sports, since it’s not baseball — it’s not work, and I can be on the couch and enjoy myself watching a college basketball game or a football game.”

    Enjoy,
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/12/the-convergence-of-baseball-and-basketball.html

    • Tony_Hall

      A little PR for their new site on the NBA that is coming soon…

      • Dorasaga

        Yeah, I saw that one post dedicated to that site. Nevertheless, fun stuff to read one more PR.

  • Tony_Hall

    As seems to always be the case, people don’t like trades from teams in our area.

    But this is a view, that makes it sound pretty smart for the Sox.

    Here is Keith Law’s take on the Quentin trade to San Diego.

    “The White Sox shed some salary they didn’t need and got two useful minor league arms, while the Padres got one year of a player whose skills align poorly with their home ballpark. 

    …Six years of control on both guys for one year of Quentin sounds like a good exchange for me.”

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog/_/name/law_keith/id/7408015/mlb-chicago-white-sox-do-well-dumping-carlos-quentin

    • Anthony

      as does Rizzo with that park, hence Alonso

    • cubtex

      Buster Olney says talking many scouts…. the consensus was the 2 pitchers don’t have much upside. 6 years of control of crap is still crap.

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree, if they are bad.

        Kenny believes differently…”… Both are guys we can ultimately see (in the major leagues) very quickly here,” Williams said. “We have keys we see with Castro to take care of and get back on track after being one of the best prospects in the game just a year ago. Hernandez is a strike-throwing machine who has the tools that we look for in our ballpark.”

        http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/7407804/chicago-white-sox-trade-carlos-quentin-two-minor-leaguers 

        Sounds like this was the best offer (obviously or why would they have taken it) and Quentin is such a defensive liability and injury prone, that I just can’t see anyone giving all that much up for him.  He’s never played more than 130 games, and a NL team is a bad place for him. He will be heading back to the AL as a DH soon enough, where he could maybe play more games, and his offensive numbers would go up even more.  

        All in all, the trade surprises me and makes no sense, but I just don’t get all the people that think you can just say this trade or that trade is bad for this team, when there are just as many on the other side saying just the opposite.   

        To me trades are impossible to predict, as there are just so many variables, and everyone’s point of view is skewed to their team.  Plus when people throw out trades and say this is fair, it’s usually not, as you haven’t had to negotiate with someone else to get to that end trade result.  

        In my fantasy leagues, where we can trade crazy deals with out contracts to deal with, it is still extremely hard to get to a trade that someone else will agree to.  

        • Dorasaga

          Tony, did you see my email? Sent to sluggers @ y!

          Let me know your thoughts. I need more suggestions.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes I did and I just responded.

          • Dorasaga

            Got it. You got some great ideas. Thanks for the advice.

  • cubtex

    Now that the Tigers are saying they will move Jacob Turner….Let’s get it done. Garza and Barney for Turner, Smyly and Castellano and then move Vitters/Lake for Anthony Rizzo. That will give us 3 top 100 prospects in Rizzo, Turner and Castellano and Smyly is probably just outside of that.

    • paulcatanese

      What are you doing home on New Years Eve? Thought you would be over at Max’s chowing down. (saw that place on the food channel). On the baseball side of things everything looks like it’s in a revolving door, and what falls out we keep. I dont see any progress for at least three years.

      • cubtex

        I don’t like messing with the idiots on New Years. Going out for a late dinner with my wife in a little bit and making sure my 2 High School kids check in with us to make sure they are OK. Happy New Year to you Paul! Have a great year!

        • Aaron

          Happy new year’s to you both and everyone else on here….

          I’m with you too…I no longer mess with the bar scene on new year’s…date with my wife and our baby is good enough for me.

          …I did want to comment on your proposal though…if it is Garza and Barney I would expect slightly more than that….Turner, Smyly, Castellanos and a low level arm should be about right.

          • paulcatanese

            Same to you Aaron, stay safe on these nights.

          • cubtex

            Happy New Year! Enjoy every minute with your baby….they grow up fast!

        • paulcatanese

          I know the feeling, when the wife was in the entertainment business you could really see it with the audience and how they partied. We never are out on these evenings. And did the checking on the kids as well for years. Smart move to be home.

    • Aaron

      I vote move Lake because he doesn’t make as much contact as Vitters though it’s likely they’d keep Lake simply because of his arm which would allow him to convert to pitcher