Epstein Talks Garza, Wood and All Things Cubs

There was not a shortage of news on the first day of the Cubs Caravan. As the team moves closer to the annual convention this weekend, Theo Epstein addressed several of the hot topics surrounding his team … including the Matt Garza rumors and Kerry Wood.

The Cubs also announced a move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Paul Maholm Jeff Bianchi was claimed off waivers by the Brewers … the Cubs claimed him off waivers in December from the Kansas City Royals.

Here’s the update including more on Matt Garza, Kerry Wood and quotes from Theo Epstein … Matt Garza
Theo Epstein addressed the Matt Garza rumors and indicated he would talk to Garza about the rumors during the convention.

Several teams have inquired about Garza’s availability this off-season but Epstein stated they are not shopping him and the media has made more about the trade talks than have actually taken place.

“Let’s try to downplay this. I can truly say more has happened in the media with this than has happened in reality. It has not been an everyday (thing). There’s no attempt to shop him every day. As we do with all our players, we’re kind of weighing all our options to see what’s best for the Cubs.”

Epstein said the Cubs are weighing all of their options. They think highly of Garza and believe he is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. With that said, Epstein admitted that “sometimes it makes sense to way your option and see if you can put yourself in a better position for the long haul.”

Theo Epstein added that they are looking forward to Matt Garza being on the mound for the Cubs during the upcoming season.

Kerry Wood
The Cubs are hopeful they can keep Kerry Wood and many feel now that Wood will re-sign with the Cubs prior to the kickoff of the Cubs Convention on Friday night.

A report earlier in the week suggested Wood’s days with the Cubs were likely over. Jed Hoyer addressed the report and stated the Cubs offered Wood a substantial raise over the $1.5 million he was paid last season. Wood would like to be paid closer to market value for his services this year.

According to David Kaplan, the Cubs reached out to Wood on Tuesday night in an attempt to keep him in the organization.

Kerry Wood is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Cubs that includes a club option for 2013.

Camp Bussy
The Cubs off-season program in Mesa has been renamed. What was once known as ‘Camp Colvin‘ is now called ‘Camp Bussy‘ after the Cubs’ strength and conditioning coach, Tim Buss.

Tony Campana has been working out at ‘Camp Bussy‘ and put on ten pounds of muscle. Campana focused on building his upper body strength. Several players have been out in Mesa working with Tim Buss this off-season.

Cubs Rookie Development Program
Theo Epstein is planning on introducing a rookie development program for the Cubs similar to the one he created for the Red Sox.

Epstein discussed the merits of such a program Wednesday.

“When you have a lot of young players at the big-league level, often times you forget just how new they are to this whole thing — professional baseball, the responsibility that comes with it, the importance of representing the organization the right way (and) being a good teammate. Organizations that just assume that they’ll figure it out on their own make a big mistake. We’re going to teach them what’s it’s like to be a big-leaguer, set the expectations for them and give them tools on how to meet those expectations, everything from how to deal with the media to how to say ‘no’ to people off-the-field that want things from them.”

“It’s how to properly handle themselves in the hotel or out on the town. It’s an important part. You can’t make assumptions that guys know how to handle themselves. You need to work with them. You want an organization that projects the right image. To make a positive impact on the community, you have to work to get it. The players are the ones who are going to dictate how that goes. We need to support them every step of the way.”

Quotes from Theo
From Jordan Bernfield:

“I think it’s important to be open with the fans about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what the plan is. I think if you do that, and you’re true to your word, and you’re not trying to hide the ball, I think they’ll get in on the ground floor and come along for the ride. I just urge everyone to stay on board. When we do win, it’s going to mean a lot more to everyone whose been on the ground floor and been through the ups and downs, got to know these young players, see them come through the minor league system, watch them take their lumps a little bit at the big leagues and ultimately triumph. It means so much more if you’re along for the journey. The journey’s really what it’s all about.”

From the Daily Herald:

“Baseball organizations are made up of human beings. They’re just not robots who put up numbers. They’re not commodities. I know I refer to a player as an asset. That’s business speak. That’s not what I believe. They’re human beings. You can get a lot better just by getting to know guys and putting them in a position to succeed and allowing them to get to know you a little bit and building, I think, a real spirit of the organization of unity and teamwork.”

News, Notes and Rumors
Randy Wells is expecting another competitive spring with the pitching options Dale Sveum will have to choose from for his rotation. Wells would prefer to start but is willing to pitch out of the pen if that is what the Cubs need him to do.

James Russell indicated he was shocked when he found out Sean Marshall had been traded … but said he wants to step into the eighth inning left specialist role this season.

Dale Sveum will wear no. 33 this season … and Dave McKay, no. 39.

According to David Kaplan, after the Cubs sign Kerry Wood their next move should be to see what pieces they can add at below market prices.

According to David Kaplan, the Matt Garza trade talks are ongoing.

Dale Sveum said that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs’ left fielder but admitted sometimes players have to be taken out for defensive replacements.

The Cubs paid recently signed Yasiel Balaguert a $400,000 signing bonus and right-hander Carlos Martinez a $250,000 signing bonus.

The 27th Annual Cubs Convention kicks off in just one day.

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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO


  • KevininSandiego

    Neil,

    Do you think Garza will be traded?

    • Aaron

      I know you asked Neil…but that’s a really tough question to ask.

      2-3 weeks ago, I would’ve said absolutely, but we’re now almost mid-January, coming up on the Convention that he is on the list to attend….It’s not unprecedented, but it’d be pretty messed up to have him attend, only to trade him a week or so later. My guess is if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, it won’t happen at all…just my opinion though.

      Neil very well might have an entirely different take on this.

      If you believe the recent reports….the Cubs were never close to trading him, and have not received the “overwhelming” offer Epstein mentioned it’d take to trade him in the first place. The following team are out of the running for him by confirmed reports: Blue Jays and Yankees. The Marlins don’t have the young pitching required, and supposedly the Tigers refuse to part with any top prospects.

      Essentially, it’s a one-horse race (if at all), and the Tigers would be bidding against themselves, and they know it. Last year, the Cubs had to overpay to get him, because they were in a race with the Rangers to get him.

      I guess if Darvish doesn’t sign, I could see the Rangers re-entering the picture, but they’d be far more likely to go after Fielder than Garza, considering Moreland’s injury.

      From the Rangers, it’d likely take Ramirez, Perez, and Profar to get it done…From the Tigers, it’d likely take Turner AND Castellanos to get it done…From the Blue Jays, it’d likely take Drabek, McGuire, and Syndergaard…From the Yankees, Banuelos, Betances, AND Montero…

      Now…from basically all of those teams’ fan bases, they would probably be crucified for making that trade, and we’d all love it from a Cubs’ perspective, but the funny thing is, Garza is probably worth even more than that at the trade deadline this year, especially if he fulfills his potential that’s always been talked about..with him being ace-caliber.

      Right now, the Cubs would be selling low on him, even though he’s worth a lot to the Cubs….Does that make sense? Everyone knows the Cubs are blowing up the team, so why the hell would they pay much in terms of prospects to get him if they know the Cubs are desperate. In fact, while the Cubs really need rotation depth badly, they just backed themselves into a corner by needing to open a rotation spot, so they diminished his value even more by signing Maholm without first trading Garza.

      Garza, Dempster, and Maholm are absolutely guaranteed to make the rotation…I would argue that Volstad and Wood are guaranteed as well, just based on the trades required to land them. That leaves Wells out of the mix. What happens to him? The Cubs sure as hell won’t trade Volstad and Wood after just receiving them. So that means someone has to go…and in my opinion, it’s down to Garza and Wells, and it’s a shame that they’ll basically have to give Wells away, because the pen is even more crowded than the rotation…and with better arms.

      • KevininSandiego

        I agree with everything you said but the Ranger deal. The Ranger may go after Garza regardless because if you look at their Rotation 3 of the 5 have 1 yr or less SP experience. They may need some stability in that rotation. I also think Martin, Ramirez and Olt would get it done also.

      • KevininSandiego

        Also wanted to comment on the deals you posted the only ones I truely think benefit the Cubs in the long haul are the Jays and Rangers. the others are a like iffy to me. I believe the Yankees prospects are over hyped. Turner most scouts think is a #2 and Castellanos is too young to know what he is and didn show much in A ball.

      • wfn2

        They aren’t going to give Wells away, they aren’t interested in having just 5 starters ready to go and giving away any extras.  They believe in having lots of starting pitching depth, there’s no way they’re giving away Wells, if he doesn’t make the rotation he will go to the pen, same as Samarja.  They’ll be ready to go if and when an injury opens up a spot for them, we aren’t going to repeat last year, there will be lots of backup available. 

        As for Garza’s value, its higher than its ever been, because he had a career year, and he’s still young enough to get even better still, as scary as that may sound.  Naturally it will be even higher at the all star break if he keps owning the way he’s been doing, but that doesn’t change the fact that its already sky high.  If some team doesn’t want to pay the required price right now, that’s fine, we’ll be happy to let him own for us instead of them.  If they want to pay more later, for less time, that’s fine too.  If they’re smart, they’ll give us what he’s worth right now and get the all star pitcher they need, but if not that’s great for us too, because it means he gets to win his Championships for us instead of them!

      • ChadAudio

        Is Wells out of options?  I don’t know why he would have to “go” in a trade.  I think Wells, T. Wood and Volstad have minor league options – don’t they?  The point of grabbing SP’s wasn’t just for spring training, it was to stack up SP’s in AAA for depth too.

        I do agree, that if they are talking about putting Shark in the rotation, then it must be because they really don’t like Wells.

    • Tony_Hall

      Garza will be traded when a team is ready to pay the king’s ransom and overpay for him.  The timing won’t matter if the price is right.

      I will give you an example.  My aunt and uncle owned a camping resort in Minnesota on a lake.  They would have people ask “Is the resort for sale?” to which they would reply “No”.

      One day a man came off of the lake to their dock, and walked up to them and said “I would like to buy your property for $xxx”    

      My aunt and uncle looked at each other and said “YES, where do we sign.”   The price was more than they had ever thought they would get for it…the man overpaid them.   They didn’t need to discuss it, they didn’t need to look at the calendar to see if the timing was right…the price was right.

      It also shows you, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

  • Tony_Hall

    Wow…Madson’s deal with the Reds is even lower.  He is only guaranteed $8.5M and will make $17M over 2.  Far, below the $44M deal he thought they agreed to with the Phillies.  I just love it when Boras clients end up with far less, they expected.

    “The contract includes incentives and a 2013 mutual option. Madson will earn $6MM in 2012 and the deal includes an $11MM option with a $2.5MM buyout for 2013. ”

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/01/reds-to-sign-ryan-madson-.html 

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Great job neil

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jordan Bernfield: Cubs and Bloomberg Sports partnering to develop new baseball analytic technology solution system. The new Carmine!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cespedes is playing in the Dominican tonight.

  • GaryLeeT

    Theo wants us to “get in on the ground floor”. Was there ever another entry point?